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Established February 2010
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* Plot Information for Pruul

Seven children are destined to save Pruul and shake the traditions of the territory to their very core. In response, factions have broken the peace of a previously unified territory and violence has erupted across the dessert. It is a battle between the past and the future, the young and the old, and blood won’t stop seeping into the sand.
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Author Topic: Where my faithful heart resides  (Read 104 times)

Description: Omid

Offline Nova Marzena

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    • sapphire2eg
    • queen
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      Exiled Queen

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      Shalador

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Where my faithful heart resides
« on: Nov 06, 17, 02:34:53 AM »
Nova was glad someone familiar with the library would be about to help her find the right records to examine. The Geiba were meticulous record-keepers, according to what she'd heard, and she'd paid good money to hear it so she hoped she was correct. Meticulous, when the subject was a mine spanning almost two centuries, meant there'd be a great quantity of books to go through. Nova had spent time in Dhemlan, so she knew her way around a library, but she didn't enjoy it, as such. It always seemed to go so much easier when someone else could point her in the right direction. Like a hunt, one needed a hint as to where to begin to ensure success.

A long time ago, she'd rejected her mother's offer to take her to Askavi, where there would be people who understood her. Celebrian had said that Nova was Eyrien in her soul, born a child of wind and sky, and that no Shaladorian could possibly hope to show her how to live with that. Nova still thought that was mostly bullshit, but Fin's thoughtfulness in arranging for someone to assist her made Nova wonder if maybe there wasn't more of Askavi's people in her than she'd believed as a young Queen.

Once she excused Lord Fin from her presence, Nova changed quickly, brushing dust off with a soft cloth rather than soaking in a bath as she so longed to do. She dressed for comfort rather than style. Nights out under Pruul's admittedly-astonishing skies had made her more than aware of the way the temperatures dropped so severely at night, and libraries tended to be cold anyway. She wasn't going to risk being stuck shivering in front of whoever this was she was meeting.

The whole process took less than ten minutes, at which point she hurried down the stairs towards the archives. She was eager to begin, so that she could end this exile and return to her home. A Black Widow was leading Shalador, as far as she had heard, and that was completely anathema to the way she'd been raised. Nova may not want to rule her home Territory, but the Black Widows of Shalador belonged in the coven and in the Felidae, not on the throne. If Erisian Maboya was unavailable (some said she was dead) if there was no other Shaladorian Queen willing to rule, then Nova would twist that knife into her own flesh. All she wanted was Nayarit, but Nayarit was part and parcel of Shalador, and she would survive.

In the archives, Nova found one person: a male, a Prince. Dark, she thought, but couldn't say how, beyond that he wasn't at the rank of her Descent. She cleared her throat to get his attention, and bowed the casual bow of a Dark Queen to a Dark Prince. "I am Nova Marzena," she said, "Lord al-Sabbah has allowed me access to these archives, and said I would find someone to assist me. Is that you?"


Offline Omid al-Bali

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Re: Where my faithful heart resides
« Reply #1 on: Nov 06, 17, 10:13:28 PM »
Supper came and went before Omid al-Izar recognized that it had grown dark. He vowed to spend an hour on transcription before seeking food, but it was more like two before he rose and went to catch up with Rania for his evening meal. Rania saw to it that he ate dinner, but declined to join him for an evening of combing the ledgers for further records of inhabitants of the mines. It was just as well that Lord Sabbah’s runner found him as dinner ended. The word was that Lord Fin was returning this very day with the Queen he’d contacted Omid about some time ago. Omid wondered, idly, how this foreign Queen would fare in Pruul. Perhaps, if there was time, he would arrange a meeting between this woman and Lady Zaehrah, if only for the chance to see how the pair interacted.

The news from other Territories would be a boon as well, putting the Bali ahead of other clans with their knowledge of the rest of Terreille.

So Omid spent the time after dinner reviewing ledgers, cross-referencing names, and reviewing the information he’d given Hadjara about their father. If Levin Agava was still alive, Hadjara would want to seek him out. He could only imagine how Babak would take that, how the rest of the Mineborn would deal with that knowledge.Omid put the thought out of his mind, because it didn’t matter. When the time came to pursue that lead, he would join Hadjara without regard to anyone else’s opinion in the matter.

Omid was researching a set of Dhemlan acquisitions for the past few years, noting several transactions for Geiba slaves to be outsourced to a Province in Dhemlan. Omid felt that he was very, very close to a breakthrough when someone cleared their throat from nearby. Omid looked up, then did a double take when he found someone standing there. He rose from the desk and stepped around it to greet the female before him. A moment’s concentration on her scent indicated that she was a Queen and now Omid wondered if this was, in fact--

"I am Nova Marzena. ord al-Sabbah has allowed me access to these archives, and said I would find someone to assist me. Is that you?"

A year ago, Omid would have been rendered speechless at the beauty of the woman before him.

On this night Omid executed a smooth and deep bow, then straightened and presented his hands to the Dark Jeweled Queen whose power he couldn’t sense. Since his Offering, it was rare to encounter anyone who stood deeper than he in the Abyss. The Jinan Queen was his equal. He'd not encountered anyone stronger than the Red.

Until now.

I am your aide for this endeavor, Lady Marzena. My name is Omid al-Bali of Clan Bali, bonded male of the Lady Zaehrah al-Bali.” Omid said, waiting on Nova’s pleasure to stand and regard her. When he did, Omid offered her a gentle smile. The ambient light in the room increased subtly, so that the room that was dimly lit upon her arrival was now easier on the eyes. Omid wore a gray robe with a gray shirt and black breeches. On his chest was a golden pin fashioned the shape of an open hand. He looked to Nova and gestured to the books and ledgers around the room and on the desk.

Lord Sabbah advised me that you wish to see the information that the Geiba kept regarding the salt mines. I have been researching a similar matter on behalf of former inhabitants of the mines.” Omid said, unable to keep the contempt out of his voice.

I am here to assist, Lady Marzena. How may I help you?” Omid asked.



Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: Where my faithful heart resides
« Reply #2 on: Nov 07, 17, 12:42:55 AM »
Princes leaned hard into knowledge, of whatever kind they chose. Nova knew it could go many ways, though she tended to bond to Warlord Princes: Tokala, Pau, Asher. To date, she had only bonded one Prince, Sebastian, but Dhemlan was heavier on the more intellectual caste than any other Territory and she felt certain she knew how to handle this one as well. He bowed, and offered his hands; she placed her hands over his and bowed in return. His Jewels weren't on display, and that was uncomfortable to her. Was that the style here? She'd have to consider it more deeply, though her hawk brooch wasn't clipped to her shoulder at the moment.

Nova smiled, a little crooked and shy about it. "I'm sure you do honor to your Queen," she said, "and thank you for making yourself available to me. I hope I can assist you with your goal even as you assist me with mine." She crossed the room to the ledgers, uncertainly examining the neat columns. It had been said in her hearing that the Geiba had once been honored tribesmen, before they were taken into the Sabbah. Iksana al-Geiba had rebuilt Onn after the Eyrien conquest. She could see the potential in such heavy and detailed records. For all that she wouldn't be capable of such keeping herself, this was precisely the fastidious work she would've looked for in a Steward, had she needed one.

Still, the numbers and names swam before her eyes. Perhaps she ought to have rested after the day of travel she'd had. But no, this had to be done. She didn't want to linger overlong in a Territory with a high Queen she wasn't sure of. Nova brushed dark hair out of her face and turned to Omid. "I'm looking for the purchase records from 125 to 140," she said. "I believe that someone highly placed in my homeland's Territory Court sold a Queen of ours into the mines. I've seen..." She trailed off, and summoned into her hand the sheet of parchment that had changed her life.

She smoothed it out on the table nearest them. It had been folded and unfolded and folded again over the years of her exile, her fingers tracing the edges of the neat handwriting. There were tears in the edges of the sheet. "I was exiled from my home for this," she said to Omid, "for finding it." She had to take the risk, to make this go quickly, before anyone could follow her. Rian was evidently gone. Now was the best time.

The sheet before them was the same neat handwriting as a series of the ledgers. It was a bill of sale for Erisian Maboya, a Red-Jeweled Priestess Queen, a young girl before her Offering, price lowered for the need to capture her and the risk taken. Nova worried at her lip as she read the familiar sheet. "I need corroborating evidence. I cannot accuse the High Priestess of the Territory with enslaving her own sister without something more than this, and I can't go home until I have proof."


Offline Omid al-Bali

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Re: Where my faithful heart resides
« Reply #3 on: Nov 08, 17, 12:18:42 AM »
Omid watched Nova cross to the ledgers as she explained what she needed and the reason for it. Omid went quiet at the thought of anyone being sold into the mines, but a Territory Queen being sold into the salt mines was beyond the pale. Omid was born in the darkness, not seeing the overland until he was nearly an adult. Cadence told him of the moon, but he’d never seen it. She sang to him, but in Omid’s mind, Cadence invented music rather than knowing it before she arrived in the mines. It was only in his teenage years that he understood the stories she told him about the world outside the mines, the world that she wanted him to see someday.

He could not fathom living in the overlands his whole life and then being sent into the dark. Yet so many of the inhabitants of the mines had done just that. He was already looking at the shelves, his eyes focusing on the ledgers that she might research, when she moved in his periphery. The Queen produced the bill of sale for one Erisian Maboya from fifty years ago. Omid studied that parchment, shielding his hand so that he did not damage it by accident. The curves and slants of the writing stoked a memory, reminding him of something he’d seen very recently in his research.

Erisian...Maboya. Okay, the name doesn’t ring a bell, but...there were some mentions of a Red Jeweled Priestess-Queen among the Geiba’s records. The former Voice of the Sabbah, a Black Widow Prince, took an unhealthy interest in her. I don’t know the reason, but that Jewel and those two Castes are too unique to be confused for anyone else.” Omid said, stepping away from the table. He walked over to the south end of the room and looked up, up, up towards a set of ledgers on the fifty shelf. He concentrated, reaching into his Red, and calling the parchments and ledgers down from the shelf slowly. He would walk them all back to the table and allow Nova to remove the bill of sale she possessed so it wouldn’t be lost.

He set the ledgers down before her and removed the top three, before revealing the fourth book, a dusty and worn leather-bound book that he opened very carefully.

This ledger begins in Summer 126. I’m still cataloging several things, so I haven’t found anything prior to this.” Omid said, turning the book toward Nova.

I think it runs all the way up to 174. I can look through the rest of these ledgers to see if there’s anything earlier or if there are further mentions. Do you know the name of this High Priestess who might have been involved? Or anyone who might have made this deal in her stead?” Omid asked.

The Geiba coded the identities of several of their more affluent customers, but I located a cipher recently that helped me obtain some of their names. We’ll find you something, Lady Marzena.

I’ll help you however I can.
” Omid said.



Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: Where my faithful heart resides
« Reply #4 on: Nov 10, 17, 03:14:44 AM »
"She was the Black Priestess Queen that spurred the purge of the Geiba," said Nova quietly. There was no way to know what would have happened if Erisian had never made it to the mines, if Rian had simply... what? Nova couldn't possibly parse the reasoning behind Rian's betrayal of her own blood. It wasn't like Rian benefited materially from destroying one of Shalador's greatest assets, or like a Priestess could feed the land the same way a Queen could. The Darkness required blood, yes! But the Blood required the land, and it was Queens who would rule there. If Erisian had simply been allowed to mature... even Nova's life might have been different, if Erisian hadn't gone into the mines.

She vanished the bill of sale and watched Omid shift the ledgers aside. "She's almost certainly in this one," said Nova, "if I've got my timeline right. But information from home's hard to come across anymore, for me, and not everyone remembers the birth year of a Red Birthright, only that there was one. You see?" Nova sighed, and shielded her hands with Sapphire power before touching the pages. "Rian Maboya was the one who signed the papers. But I don't know what intermediaries she might have worked through, or if there even were any. I doubt it. Slavery is anathema to Shaladorians. It's simply not part of our culture. Selling one of us... selling a dual-casted Queen? Subjecting her to a collar?" Nova's expression thinned, her lips hardly a line as her brow furrowed. "Her own sister?"

Nova shook her head. "It's disgusting. It's abhorrent. They'll bleed her out on the altar, Gray Jeweled Priestess or not." But she had come to terms with causing the death of the woman who had sold Erisian and then driven Nova away from home. It had never even been a consideration.


Offline Omid al-Bali

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Re: Where my faithful heart resides
« Reply #5 on: Nov 13, 17, 11:49:47 PM »
Omid fell silent when Nova explained that the Priestess Queen in question spurred the purge of Geiba. It was clear that his mind traveled along the same path as Nova’s, in terms of what might (or might not) have happened if Erisian Maboya had not been sent to the Salt Mines. Would he and the Mineborn still be imprisoned beneath the ground, never having seen the light of day? Adramelech would still be alive and controlling the Sabbah. Their world, as they knew it, would not exist save for the actions of a Priestess Queen who’d been sold into slavery by her own sister. Omid tried to imagine hating any of his siblings enough to send them away from Pruul as slaves. His lip curled in disgust at the thought. Even Lucky, whom Omid wanted little to do with at this point in his life, would never earn such treatment from the Red Prince.

You’re absolutely right, Lady Marzena. Slavery is a stain on the souls of everyone involved in it. The practice should be rooted out and destroyed wherever possible. I can't even imagine treating my sisters or brother like that. It's...the idea makes me ill.”  Omid said. He’d never understood how one person could own another and feel no remorse, no guilt, and just believe that it was right to do so. Omid could wax poetic all night on the wrongs of slavery but he had no way to effect the change he saw in his mind.

Not yet.

We’re going to find something, Lady Marzena. I will start down there.” Omid said, pointing to the bookcases off to his right.

If you start on the left, I’m sure we’ll find a record of some kind. If not, we’ll figure something out.” Omid said, sighing softly.

Let me know if you need anything.

Omid waited until the Queen dismissed him and got to work.

The pair spent long hours in the archives that first night and most of the next day. Hours ticked by as they researched and searched for anything of use. He found references to Lady Maboya, but nothing concrete. He was very tired when he brought over another stack of books for Nova to peruse. So tired was Omid that he didn’t notice the envelope falling from the stack of ledgers he was carrying to the already-full table. The envelope hit the floor and lay there while Omid sat down in the chair and tried to collect his thoughts.

I’m sure we’ll find something, Lady Marzena. Don’t give up.” Omid said, running through a breathing exercise to sharpen his senses and keep him awake. When his tired gaze passed over the envelope, Omid called it to his hand. There was a strange symbol in the hardened wax, one that the Omid didn’t recognize. He held it up for Nova’s perusal.

Lady Marzena, have you ever seen a symbol like this before?” he asked, knowing that she was better-traveled than he, through Lord Fin's explanations.



Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: Where my faithful heart resides
« Reply #6 on: Nov 14, 17, 02:55:26 AM »
"You see," said Nova, nodding her agreement. Clearly Omid understood what she was getting at. The more information spread, the higher the chances of someone spilling their guts in guilt. She pored through the ledger, taking her time, making a note of sales involving any Red Jeweled Warlord Prince. They weren't so common that Akan Uzumati would've gone unremarked upon, especially because of his race. An Eyrien Warlord Prince at all was a danger and a liability, especially when in the company of his Queen. Someone, somewhere, must have written it down.

She floated the ledgers away as she finished them, glad to be in Onn where Craft wasn't so dangerous. The neat pile formed itself, really, as she focused on what she needed to: the neat handwriting in front of her. Still, as the hours ticked on, she began to drift. Omid kept working, so she didn't feel she could call a break, but when he held up the envelope she snapped into sudden, frozen awareness. "I know that symbol," she said, and she crossed the space between them to snatch the letter out of Omid's hands. Nova was careful to preserve the seal, using her Ebon Gray to peel it away from the letter.

It had clearly been opened before; the seal came too neatly away, and left a sizable chunk of its lower half on the parchment, as if cut in half by a knife. Nova bit her lip as she pulled the letter within out and spread it out on top of the ledger she'd been reading. As she read it, her lips moved. "This is Rian Maboya's writing," she said, "This is a letter asking what the going price for a Red-Jeweled Priestess Queen would be..." Nova put a hand over her mouth, leaned back and away from the letter. She cast her gaze up the ceiling and blinked back tears, quickly.

She'd wanted a smoking gun. There it was.

With a shaking hand, she closed the envelope again, and summoned her hunting-hawk pin from her psychic cabinet. She set the gold-worked brooch next to the wax seal. The subjects were different; one, Nova's pin, was a hawk, while the seal depicted a sword flanked by bat's wings. "The same person who made my brooch made seals for my family and the families of others in the Great Tribes," she said to Omid. "This one was made for Rian Maboya and her alone. The gray wax with the green sheen... I've seen that on letters from the Territory Court before."

An errant tear streaked down her face, but Nova managed to lean back before it fell onto the paper. "I can go home. I have this, and I can go home, I can prove that I never..."


Offline Omid al-Bali

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Re: Where my faithful heart resides
« Reply #7 on: Nov 14, 17, 10:55:20 PM »
Nova focused upon the letter in question, causing Omid to focus upon it as well. He’d not seen the letter before during any of his passes through the archive, but there will still many, many books, scrolls, and ledgers that the Prince hadn’t reviewed during his time reviewing the archives. He remained quiet in order to let her concentrate, though his expression made clear that he was interested. If the letter provided a hint, even a tangential clue for them to follow up on, that was better than nothing at all. Nova spread out the letter on top of the ledger and Omid made sure that the Ebon Gray Queen had enough light to read the words on the page.

This is Rian Maboya’s writing…

Omid’s heart climbed up into his throat. Nova continued reading and Omid recognized the letter for what it was. It was the truth, the awful that she needed to prove that the High Priestess of Shalador had sold her own sister into slavery in the salt mines of Pruul. Nova had been exiled from her homeland for pulling on this thread, for following it, or so she’d said. The Queen’s emotion was powerful and nearly overwhelming in that small space and Omid was genuinely happy for her. This was the kind of proof that couldn’t be explained away or deflected from. This was the kind of proof that destroyed clans and toppled Courts. Omid brought over a chair for Nova and tried to get her to sit down, if she would do so. Her very life had been altered in the past few minutes.

He remained silent, briefly, to let her process and deal with the revelation she’d uncovered as she chose. When the silence stretched on for some time, Omid spoke up, hoping to gauge Nova’s thoughts.

"Lady Marzena, this is wonderful. You can go home. Will you be leaving right away? Should I call for Lord Fin? I’m sure that he’ll be interested in tonight’s developments.” Omid said, watching Nova for a moment. Even if she left today, it would take time to reach Shalador. Not to mention that an Ebon Grey Queen on the move would draw interest.

Is there anything else I can do to help you, Lady Marzena?” he asked.