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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: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors  (Read 283 times)

Description: attn: Drakkar, Illyrian

Offline Elenor al-Sabbah

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    • rose2opal
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      Clan Queen

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      Clan Sabbah

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      Pruul

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      DragonGirl

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Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« on: Nov 07, 18, 02:25:19 PM »
Set after the events of Don't cry because it's over and I exploit you, still you love me


Tavar brought Elenor to Gravesend. It was a relief to have his with her, especially considering how little time they would have together, but there was also something oddly unsettling about the presence of her Bonded as they walked together towards the office in which she would be meeting the Queen and Warlord Prince of Askavi.

She loved Tavar, but he wasn’t really hers anymore, was he? He belonged to this Court now. He’d forsaken his title as Voice of the Sabbah, had accepted her command to begin his life here fresh, and a little voice in the back of her mind couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps it was for the best. She had granted him so much power over her in Pruul without even noticing until it was too late to really change it. Now she stood on her own, with allies she had made by herself across the whole of the Realm and Tavar as… what?

Her Bonded, yes, but not a member of her Court, or the Voice of her Clan, or even someone she ruled over. So it felt unsettling and out of place to have him by her side as she walked towards this meeting, even as his close proximity calmed the frantic beating of her heart. 

Still, despite all her doubts, when he left her in front of the door to go attend to his duties Elenor had a hard time letting go of his hand. She watched his retreating form until Danyal coughed once, then the Queen looked up at her Master of the Guard and tried her best to smile.

She took a deep breath, smoothing her dusky rose dress and tucking a stray strand of hair back into her bun, then knocked twice on the heavy wood of the door.

It opened a moment later and she stepped inside, her eyes meeting a pair of gold ones that she had been having nightmares about for months now.

Drakkar Estaroth, sitting behind a heavy wood desk.

The man who had summoned Tavar to Asakvi and who might have laid waste to Elenor’s Clan if he had not come home.

The man who would keep her Bonded away from his home and his family and yet hated him.

The man she had come to negotiate with today for the good of her people and for Tavar.

Elenor took a breath, stood up straighter, then bowed, the very picture of formality. “Thank you for taking the time out of your day to meet with me, Prince Estaroth. My name is Elenor al-Sabbah and this is my Master of the Guard, Lord Danyal al-Hague. Am I correct in recalling that Lady Kriat will be joining us as well?”

Had her voice wavered? She didn’t think so, nor had her gaze dipped from his even though all she wanted right now was to look down at her feet and mumble her way through everything she had to say before bolting out of here.

Why had it been so much easier in Starfall? The Steward there wore Darker Jewels than this male but had been charming and warm in his demeanor. Drakkar Estaroth was an entirely different story. She could not read his expression at all and it made a shiver run down Elenor’s back and throat tighten convulsively.

Offline Illyrian Kriat

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    • te2ss
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      Queen of Askavi

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      Askavi, Terreille

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #1 on: Nov 07, 18, 08:08:30 PM »
"You are correct, Lady al-Sabbah," said Illyrian. She stood in the doorway to Drakkar's office, flanked by a surprising number of guards. They arranged themselves outside the door as she spoke. "I am Lady Kriat, Queen of Askavi." She approached the Opal Queen and offered her hands in formal greeting. "I believe you have already met Prince Estaroth, Warlord Prince of Askavi." She motioned to Drakkar, but did not look at him. Instead she held the gaze of the other Queen, as if all secrets would be revealed if only she held her gaze long enough.

As if she had made some kind of decision, she nodded before continuing. "Please forgive the security. I was injured recently and the Court has taken it to mind that I need to be especially cautious until I am fully recovered." Her eyes flicked to Drakkar, a light shining in the deep gold. When she closed her eyes, she could still feel his hands on her. He had remained by her side through out the difficult Healing, but once she was released from the Healing Rooms, he had grown distant. It confused Illyrian, but she didn't have time to focus on that right now.

Meeting his Queen's gaze, Drakkar stood and offered her his own chair. The action brought a small smile to her lips, as she moved to accept the seat and watched as he chose another chair for himself. There was no need for him to do so. This was his office. But the gesture was appreciated, a sentiment expressed only in the soft grasp of her hand against his arm as she sat down before turning her focus back to their guests.

"I have invited Prince al-Izar to join us, as well. I believe you are acquainted and may have similar interests in these negotiations?"



Offline Drakkar Estaroth

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      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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      Askavi, Terreille

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #2 on: Nov 08, 18, 12:46:43 AM »
Drakkar found himself curious about Elenor al-Sabbah. Abbadon’s description of her intrigued him, especially since she was Tavar’s Queen. This woman was one of the reason he’d been so willing to forsake his home, his very people, to live among the short-lived. He offered his seat to Illyrian upon Elenor’s entry to his office, sparing a glance for Red Jeweled Warlord who accompanied her. His gaze shifted to Elenor al-Sabbah, noting the paleness of her skin and her pale golden eyes. Clearly of long-lived lineage, but was her mind stable? Not for the first time, he wished that he could speak to Illyrian on a thread. The ability to share information would have been helpful.

Drakkar also desired the deeper intimacy of that mind-to-mind connection, but it wasn’t to be.

Once Illyrian made her announcement, Drakkar would approach and greet Elenor directly. His skill with Protocol directly reflected on his Queen and he would show honor to Illyrian by showing honor to Tavar’s Queen. He extended his hands to take hers and the returned to his space beside Illyrian.

Thank you, and welcome to Gravesend, Lady al-Sabbah.” Drakkar said, fighting to make the name sound less like a curse and simply a name. After all, it was Abaddon’s surname, too. He didn’t hate Elenor al-Sabbah; he didn’t know her well enough to like or her dislike her. He did, however, hate that Tavar had given away the name of a hero to adopt the names of foreigners.

We understand that you were a guest in the Living Lake Province, recently. While we wait for Prince al-Izar, would you tell us about your time there? Did you see Starfall?” Drakkar asked. He stood close to Illyrian, but did not attempt to touch her or otherwise invade her space. Every time he looked at her, his gaze fell to her broken wing, still healing from the aftermath of his Rut. Drakkar remembered precious little of those three days from weeks ago, but whenever he dozed off or slept, Illyrian’s screams dragged him back to the world of the waking.

Her screams, paired with the taste of her cunt, caused more than a few sleepless nights for him.

It would be a shame if Lord Tavar brought you here without seeing some of the sights of the Province where he grew up.” Drakkar said.




Offline Elenor al-Sabbah

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      DragonGirl

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #3 on: Nov 08, 18, 01:17:43 AM »
Elenor tried not to gape as a beautiful, stately woman walked in with all the poise and grace of a Queen used to ruling and which Elenor had to fight so hard to imitate, the results always pale in comparison. The Long-Lived had the advantage there, she supposed. Still, it made her nerves zing until that golden gaze seemed to reach some sort of decision about her and Illyrian Kriat continued speaking.

Elenor greeted both her and Drakkar as was fitting, her hands blessedly free of nervous sweat as she did so. She should be petrified but somehow -perhaps Taracena’s Webs being lifted, perhaps just knowing that Tavar would live- her usual anxiety in formal situations didn’t rear its head.

“I’m sorry to hear you were hurt, Lady Kriat. I hope you’ve been able to take some time to recover and please, don’t apologize for the added security. I’ve known my fair share of that too this past year.” Beside her, she heard Danyal grunt in agreement and couldn’t help but shoot her Master of the Guard a little smile, as if in apology for how hard she often made his job.

The news that Lucky would be joining them was both exciting and distressing. It would be good to have another Pruulian diplomat in the room, evening out the numbers but she and Lucky had not been able to talk before this, not since prior to the start of their respective trips, in fact. They would have to improvise if they wished to show a united front and Elenor just didn’t know where he stood on the issues they had discussed in the past now that he was here and had seen Askavi for himself.

Saying as much, however, would be unwise so she simply stated, “we are acquainted, yes. I have no problem with him joining us. He represents all of Pruul while I only speak for one Clan so it will likely save us all some time.”

Once the Queen of Askavi sat, Elenor sank into one of the chairs in front of the desk too, Danyal choosing to stand near the door, present but not intrusive. The questions about Living Lake were a welcome distraction from the worry of the upcoming meeting so Elenor answered with no hesitation. “Living Lake was astonishing. I’ve been all over the Realm and I’ve never seen water that blue or a land so dramatic and beautiful. Your Territory is something very special.” It was hard to contain the enthusiasm in her voice as she spoke of it. Askavi truly was breathtaking, just as much as Pruul was if in entirely different ways. “The Steward of Starfall was kind enough to let us stay for a couple days but I’m afraid I was not able to extend my visit there, as much as I might have liked to at another time. Things at home require my attention and I’ve been gone too long already.”

Onn was besieged, the Hague were all but gone, and her people were about to break out into a Civil War. The sooner these negotiations ended, the sooner Elenor could rush back home and start putting out fires.

“Tavar did show me around a little and so did my cousin, Lady Kiarian Vasilev. Had I not been in such a rush I would have gladly stayed there several more days.” Her eyes left the Warlord Prince’s. He had asked the question but it was the other Queen to whom she wished to address what followed. “I was able to take a few walks and get a feel for the land. I… have no words for the sorrow I feel that your land suffers so and you, I am sure, along with it. While I won’t be here long, perhaps no more than one more day, if I can be of aid to you in any way, please know that I would be happy to assist. Borders and politics hardly matter to the soil and the plants and I don’t think I could forgive myself if I did not offer to help while I’m a guest here, not when there is so much need.”

Offline Lucky al-Izar

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      Mineborn

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #4 on: Nov 08, 18, 08:52:02 AM »
Lucky al-Izar tossed and turned in bed. The cool air brushed against him and where there should have been peace there was discomfort. He could feel the bond to his siblings, feel them pulsing through him, but he was too far away. Too far. To him, the bond wrapped around his throat and tightened, strangling him. Screaming for him to return. Return.

The Warlord Prince sat up straight in bed, breathing hard. The bond had been in the background lately, a tickle while he was in Pruul, but the Mineborn could feel it burn underneath his skin. Calling him back to his family. Lucky took a breath and went to splash some water on his face, thinking.

He had thought once the Rains were over the bond he shared with his siblings might fade away. What other purpose was it for? They had fulfilled their destiny. Hmm. Something for him to think about. Perhaps speak to Omid later.

For now, Lucky bathed and changed into Pruulian clothes, a bright green thawb, a loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garment. Rania had even embroidered some gold trim into it. He busied himself with re-reading Vashti’s offer to Askavi and thinking through his offer on behalf of his territory. When it was time for the meeting, he walked down the halls and paused at the door. He took a deep breath and a smile touched his lips at El’s scent.

He was displeased she was here, in such a dangerous territory, but he could not be mad at her for it. That was her males fault. Incompetent. The lot of them. She was lucky he was not her bonded. The Warlord Prince would ensure she did not do nearly as many stupid things.

Entering when bidden, Lucky bowed to the Warlord Prince and Queen of Askavi in turn. Now that the matter of Fin was settled, hopefully they could get off on a better foot. “Thank you for seeing me, Lady Kriat, Prince Estorath.” He noticed the way the Queen held herself and could feel her pain in the air. Hmm. Curious. The Mineborn turned his attention to Elenor and smiled. He bowed to her and took her hand, brushing his lips against the back of her palm. “Lady Sabbah. A pleasure to see you as always. I was quiet suprised you had travelled here.” He eyed her, wanting to speak about it later. He returned his attention to the rulers of Askavi. *I made your offer for leniency for Fin. The Queen did not take well to a male making it, but we have not had a chance to discuss any bartering further.* Lucky called in a thin bottle of traditional Pruulian alcohol.

“I wanted to offer the both of you a glass of arak while we talk. It is customary in Pruul to drink together, a gesture of community, before bargaining begins.” He uncorked the bottle of clear liquid and called in some glasses. If they did not wish to drink he would pour some for Elenor and smile. At least in this he felt a bit more comfortable.

There was nothing more Pruulian than bartering.

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

  • Character Account
    • broken2bo
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    • reddescent
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      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: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #5 on: Nov 16, 18, 02:04:47 AM »
Drakkar watched Elenor intently, keeping in mind what he’d learned from Abbadon about Tavar’s Queen. Her skin was so pale. How did she survive in under the constant barrage of Pruul’s sun? The summers of Askavi could be brutal for the unprepared; how much worse was it in a giant desert for one whose skin could burn so easily. Drakkar supposed that he could ask Tavar about it, but that meant talking to the Sapphire Warlord. It meant resisting his natural urge to punch Tavar in the face every time he laid eyes upon him. Drakkar had questions, but the thought of asking Tavar to answer them left a foul taste in his mouth.

He just didn’t want to know that badly.

Elenor gushed about the Steward of Starfall, making Drakkar wonder if Elenor had gotten more than just a couple of nights’ rest at the Province Court of Living Lake. She sounded like a besotted lover. He recalled Vondar Shostakov from centuries ago, but hadn’t heard anything new about him. He’d lost his wings during the Hayllian attack on Askavi, relegating him to service outside the War Camps ever after. Prince Kurlov’s reports indicated that Prince Shostakov was undermining the Blood Seekers in Living Lake, but Drakkar had been so busy with Gravesend that he hadn’t had the time to look into it. Elenor spoke and Drakkar resolved that he’d discuss the matter with Illyrian before taking action.

Drakkar was advised that Prince al-Izar had arrived and he leaned over to whisper that information to Illyrian. She nodded, and Drakkar stood up to open the door and allow the Warlord Prince to the room. Drakkar inclined his head to Lucky when the Sapphire Warlord Prince greeted him. Drakkar gestured to the chair beside Elenor, returned to his place beside Illyrian. Once again, he marveled at how people so young could speak for an entire Territory. It wasn’t lost on him that both of these people were connected to Tavar and Abbadon.

He looked between them when Prince al-Izar said that he was surprised to see Lady Sabbah in Askavi. He leaned back slightly in his chair, drawing his wings tight against his back. But he was sitting upright against when Lucky called in the bottle. Drakkar instinctively shielded Illyrian from the younger Warlord Prince, unsure of what he planned. When he suggested drinking during the meeting, Drakkar’s eyes narrowed a fraction. He extended his senses, scanning the bottle of for any hostile Craft, followed by the alcohol and glasses themselves. Finding none, Drakkar still wasn’t comfortable allowing Illyrian to take the first sip. Better that, if there was trickery here, that he make the first move. He’d been poisoned once already and survived.

Abaddon and Tavar spoke well of these two people, but Drakkar didn’t care if they were sent by Mother Night Herself. No harm would come to Illyrian without Drakkar killing everyone else in this room first.

He took up the glass of arak and sipped it. The taste was...different. Drakkar set the glass back on the table. He wanted to tell Illyrian that he hated it, but there was no quiet way to do so.

Lady Kriat will lead these discussions and evaluate what you both offer. Askavi seeks allies as we move into a new age of...peace and diplomacy. But we’d like to make sure that we choose the right allies, same as the two of you.” Drakkar said, looking between them.

I cede the floor to my Lady for any questions that she may have.” Drakkar said, falling silent.




Offline Elenor al-Sabbah

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    • rose2opal
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      Clan Queen

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      Pruul

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      DragonGirl

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #6 on: Nov 16, 18, 02:20:20 PM »
Elenor smiled brightly when Lucky walked in the door, happy beyond words to see another familiar face she had spent weeks worrying about. She rose to greet him and when they were seated once more reached under the desk to squeeze his hand.

“Where else would I be except the last place you’d expect? Really, Prince Izar, have we met?” She replied, with a twinkle in her eye. Hopefully, her relaxed posture would let him know that all was well and she was fine and confident. That it wasn’t entirely true didn’t matter, not right now. She accepted the drink he passed her with a nod of gratitude and took a fortifying sip of the burning liquid before asking,

“Would it be alright if I say something before we begin this negotiation in earnest? In the interest of that time, I will try to be brief and to the point.” It wasn’t as if she was often any other way. Still, she took a breath, centering herself and wondering one last time if her decision was the right one before forging ahead once the Queen of Askavi graciously ceded the floor with a nod. “I hear from my Bonded that he is to stay here on your orders, Lady Kriat. As you can expect this was not pleasant news to receive, as he is not only a part of my very soul that is being kept from me but also the Voice of my Clan and a leader among my people.”

She paused for a second there, long enough for them to hear and process the dismay in her tone but not long enough to respond. However, while I would have liked the chance to speak in his defense I will not undermine another Queen’s right to rule, or to demand a Prince for something they have deemed an injustice. You have judged him and you have sentenced him, and my personal feelings on the matter are inconsequential in the scope of this meeting.”

They probably expected her to come in begging or threatening or waving around her feelings. A week ago, she might have. A week ago her mind was spinning in a thousand different directions, never steady or focused but that wasn’t the case anymore. Oh, she was still in pain from recovering so many lost years. Her head ached, her fingers itched, and every time an unfamiliar male got too close her whole body would freeze but for the first time since she was sixteen Elenor’s mind was her own and perfectly still.

“Lady Kriat, you are now the ruling Queen of my Bonded. His life and his wellbeing are now tied to yours and your situation here is… not great. I’ve felt the land coming in and it screams for help. I passed the burned villages and have seen the refugees and hollow faces of your Landen. I speak bluntly because I am a blunt person and hope you do not take offense. I’m fairly certain that most of this is not of your personal doing and I’m sure you’re working hard to stay ahead of the issues, just as I am for my own people. Fin -Tavar- is one of those people, and so I’m here to offer you aid on his, and my, behalf.”

She called in a single sheet of paper and slid it across the table. “I don’t speak for all of Pruul -that’s what Prince Izar is here for- but I do speak for the Clan that deals the most with the outside world. The Sabbah instated a Salt Embargo on Askavi one hundred and ninety-two years ago as part of the reprisals for the war. I am sure you know better than I the damage it must have caused you in human lives, livestock, the slowing of movement over frozen mountain passes, industry, and the preservation of food. Before we even begin, as an act of good faith in these negotiations, I am lifting this embargo, forgiving the debt in unpaid reparations and ending the requirement for them. Tavar accepted me when I had nothing and gave me a chance, it would dishonor everything he has taught me to treat your Territory any differently. No one should live in fear of hunger with enemies hounding at their gates. Even the criminals sent to me from all over the Realm to work off life sentences are now guaranteed food, shelter, and safety; denying that to our neighbors in a time of crisis would be cruel and I will not be a part of such action. There is a limit to how much I can promise without the agreement of the elders and Voice of my Clan but I’m not here to take advantage of your situation and would like to find a way to help. Now, shall we get to the business of negotiating?”

Offline Illyrian Kriat

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      Queen of Askavi

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      Askavi, Terreille

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #7 on: Nov 17, 18, 07:37:27 PM »
Drakkar's power welled around her, settling into a tight shield that would keep her safe in case Prince al-Izar called forth a blade instead of a liquid. She nodded to the young Warlord Prince in appreciation but did not reach for a glass. Rather she watched as Drakkar scanned and tasted the liquid himself. Seeing that he did not keel over on the spot, she took it as a sign that he would not smack her hand away if she chose to try the offered drink. She sipped it slowly, allowing the strange taste to dance on her tongue. Taking a second sip, she set it back down on the desk before her. She was willing to honor Pruulian tradition, at least by ritual, but she did not intend to lose any of her faculties during this meeting.

As Illyrian listened to the yellow haired Queen graciously offer to remove the salt embargo imposed on Askavi for the last two centuries, she couldn't help but glance between her and the young Warlord Prince. What land would hold an Opal Queen beneath that of a Warlord Prince? Prince Ranosi had ruled once, but Askavi did not have the Queens needed to rule, and Endevar wore the Black. When a knowledgeable and  capable Queen was available, why was she merely speaking for a piece of the Territory?

But then, hadn't Illyrian herself refused to step forward to rule Askavi until Gillian convinced her and offered to stand at her side? A dull ache gripped her heart at the thought of her lost Sister Queen. Her hand rose from her lap and reached out to rest on Drakkar's arm. She didn't know if he needed her touch, but she knew she needed the reassurance of his presence, as confusing as it could be.

Their worlds were so different, all four of them. Perhaps this was why she and the Sapphire Warlord Prince had struggled to relate. Illyrian was an educated woman, but understanding the specific interactions within Pruul's borders had never been a focus of intense study for her. Still, Drakkar would feel her surprise along their bond and through the subtle tightening of her hand on his arm when Lady al-Sabbah mentioned prisoners. *Do you think Lady Maboya is aware the mines have reopened?* she asked Drakkar along a Summer Sky thread. She knew he could not answer her, but it would be a matter of discussion for them later when they were alone. Learning of the Black Jeweled Priestess Queen had been a shock for all in Terreille, and none wanted to see her focus returned to the land where she was imprisoned beneath the earth for decades.

"I accept these offerings with deep gratitude," she said, nodding deeply to Lady al-Sabbah. An offer of respect for the Queen who accepted her bound male's fate, even as it was painful to contemplate. "You were blunt with me and I shall offer you the same in turn. We are close to finishing a peace treaty and trade agreement with Dena Nehele. If that is an issue for Pruul, there is really no reason to continue these talks. I am not aware of bad blood between the two Territories, but then, I was also not aware that the salt mines were once again housing prisoners."

Her gaze settled on the Queen before moving to the Warlord Prince. There was no judgment to be found there, merely caution. "Which brings me to my second point. As you know, Shalador is home to many Eyriens. There are deep family ties that bind our two Territories, still." Like the High Priestesses estranged daughter, an Ebon Gray Queen whom she had met the previous Winsol. "I do not wish to find myself or Askavi facing the wrath of the Black Jeweled Priestess Queen for being aligned with a Territory she chooses to turn her anger towards. What reassurances can you offer to ensure what happened before shall not be repeated?"



Offline Elenor al-Sabbah

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    • rose2opal
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      Clan Queen

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      Clan Sabbah

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      Pruul

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      [Link]

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      DragonGirl

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #8 on: Nov 17, 18, 08:52:16 PM »
Elenor’s fingers curled around the arms of her chair as Illyrian asked about the Salt Mines and mentioned Shalador. The presence of a Black Jeweled Priestess Queen who had been imprisoned in the salt mines within a short Wind Ride of here was unsettling. Taracena had confirmed that it would be imprudent of Elenor to ever walk into the Territory that had been her home off and on since she was eight. It was a painful thing to accept but that was the price of leading a Clan most of the world deemed to be either monsters or insignificant desert nomads.

She didn’t glance to Lucky. The Mines were a subject the two of them had studiously avoided. Oh, she had sent the Territory Council a detailed plan of how they were being run but the two of them had managed to not speak of it. She had with Prince Omid and it had gone… poorly. She understood why, but she also had data she doubted they did, so she answered Illyrian’s question before Lucky could.

“Lady Kriat, the Saltmines of Pruul produce some eighty percent of the salt for the entire Realm of Light. After they were closed, the estimated death toll from the absence of that salt on the market reached over fifty thousand before my predecessors reopened them quietly. Salt is essential for so much, as you well know and the Realm cannot realistically thrive without either the mines of Pruul or serious new infrastructure built along the coasts. Unfortunately, they have been mismanaged and those before me have used their necessity to get away with acts of true evil. Their intentions upon reopening them, I presume, were of the same evil nature as those who did so much harm to Prince Izar and others but they miscalculated and gave the rights to operate the mines to a man of sound moral character. Prince Jofari and I were acquainted even before I came to Pruul and he has been using the mines for the past few years as a place to free, rehabilitate, and help men and women who were once slaves, in a safe and fair environment. While that was a step up from what came before, I didn’t think it was enough. So I changed how they worked entirely.”

She called in the very last of the folios that she had made while in Pruul, “I’ve developed a new method for mining salt out of the earth, using water. We are in the process of converting all Pruulian Saltmines to this method using water I have recently acquired from Dena Nehele and Hayll, and hope to from you as well. This system takes unusable, brackish water and uses it to dissolve salt into brine, when it is pumped to the surface and allowed to dry out in the sun, the now clean and purified water recycled into the operation. This means that the only people going under the ground anymore are the engineers who operate the valves. They do little to no active mining and are provided with safety equipment and training. If you have any doubts, you are free to send anyone you want to inspect any of our mines. We have nothing to hide.”

She took a breath then met the Queen of Askavi’s eyes with a firm stare of her own. “Prisoners are still shipped to me, or rather to Prince Jofari. I have nothing to do with this, but I have used the personal funds of my Court to build above-ground shelters for these men and women. They work above ground packing and raking salt, are given a fair and ethical amount of food and water, work no more than eight hours a day, and are not punished harshly unless they harm others. Their cases are re-evaluated if they petition it, and when their time is done they are released with the tools to start a life anew. A prison is a prison but the mines are no longer a place of torment. We have had no higher casualty levels among the mining populations as the general Clan. If Lady Maboya hears that the mines are reopened I very much hope she will be willing to look at the facts of how they are managed now before she blasts us into oblivion, but I can understand if you don’t want to take the risk of having anything to do with me.”

Her heart raced as she finished and Elenor couldn’t quite work up the nerve to look over at Lucky. Would he hate her too?

Just because she was getting used to being assumed a monster while she tried hard to do good by her Clan, Territory, and Realm didn't make it sting any less.

Offline Lucky al-Izar

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #9 on: Nov 25, 18, 11:27:38 PM »
Lucky let Elenor speak…and speak….He would of smiled, if they were not discussing the Mines. She had such a way with words that the Warlord Prince would never understand. The Mineborn simply tended to cut straight to the point, which was to his detriment many times.

“I do not know much of recent Askavian history, so I don’t assume you know much of Pruulian recent history either. My siblings and I were born beneath the Mines that held Lady Maboya. Her male, Akan Uzumati, was actually the first person I’d ever seen with wings.” He smiled at the memory. “So we have a similar claim to a Price from the Mines as Lady Maboya. However, when Lady al-Kaid, the former Queen of Pruul, found out about what was happening in the Mines, she exacted a Blood Price from the entire Tribe of the Geiba. Thousands of men, women, and children were executed and the Tribe was wiped from the sands. I do not know how deep the Black Jeweled Queen’s anger goes, but my siblings and I were satisfied at the Price and I cannot imagen a steeper sentence.” That was a lie, but the two did not need to know that. Lucky wished all of the Geiba had been killed, even those without their Birthright. And he wished he had been allowed to do it with his own hands.

But not all dreams came true.

“I should hope she is satisfied with that Price, but if it offers you any comfort, the Territory Council will soon discuss abolishing slavery altogether in Pruul and ending the practice of sending prisoners to us for punishment. This would wipe out the workers from the Mines.” He did not look at Elenor. She knew his position on this. All the money and salt techniques in the world would not stop his desire to see the Mines closed.

“If your worries persist, we can discuss it further? If not, I have a few offers to make myself.” He waited for the Queen or the Warlord Prince to respond. If they didn’t, he proceeded onward.

“On behalf of the Territory Council, we would like to formally recognize the ending of reparation payments from the Great War between Asakvi and Pruul.” He called in a written document that described just what he had said. “We want to look to the future, not the past, and reestablish trade. It’s my hope our territories could benefit  greatly from this. We have ample marks, but there is only so much water to spend it on within Pruul. It is my hope we can establish a healthy market on the edge of our boarder—water, coin, food, and other goods exchanged there year round that we both need.” He could imagine it very much how Onn had started off thousands of years ago, as a simple permanent camp that people could go to trade and barter.

Lucky took a deep breath and his wings flexed slightly, hoping that he could do a better job of explaining Pruul’s offer of Queen’s this time. “I know we were at a misunderstanding at the Trial, Lady Kriat, but I hope I can clarify the Council’s second offer to you now.” He leaned forward and tried to appear less like the asshole most people thought he was. “Pruul is a trading territory. Each person is valuable for their ability to sustain the entirety of our people—be that through protection, trade, craft, or skill. Queens occupy a very unique role in our territory. There is little use for their Queen’s Gift, because most of our land is desert, so some Queens think of their skill as a valuable commodity, just as I might think of my smithworking skill.” There was only about nineteen openings for Queen’s to rule and by Lucky’s account there was over fifty Queen’s in the territory, not including the tribes that had refused to provide a number. Most felt like they were not doing enough for their people. “Some have approached me with a desire to sell the skill to help our people and I think this market at the edge of our boarder could be a good solution.” Lucky called in the paper contract he had from Vashti, sealed with wax.

“This is the contract both Lady Sabbah and a Queen from my own Clan gave me, offering their Queen’s Gift once a year for leniency for Fin al-Sabbah. This contract is void, clearly now, but the market would be for future contracts like this. I know of many more that would like to offer their skills in trade to Askavi for water or coin. It might seem a bit strange to you, Lady Kriat, the trading of Queen’s skills, but it is very common among my people and it ensures that our land and our people thrive. I ask that you consider allowing Queens from all of Pruul offer their skills for sale at this market—if we were to establish it. This could ensure Askavi receives the aid it needs and Pruul’s Queens have a safe and known market to bring food and water to our people through their efforts.”

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #10 on: Nov 27, 18, 12:50:49 AM »
Drakkar remained silent while Illyrian lead the discussion. He was an active listener, but he would not contradict his Queen by action or words. Six months ago, that would have been unthinkable. Back then, he would have lead the discussions while making space for Illyrian to chime in. But it would have been clear to all in the room that it was the Warlord Prince of Askavi who spoke for his people. Since the fight with Abaddon and dealing with Tavar’s return, Drakkar had become more introspective and less willing to court anger and recrimination from his Queen. Truth be told, he wanted nothing more than to excuse himself and Illyrian from the talks, drag her to his room, and take her until they both passed out.

He could taste her on his tongue. If anything about these talks stoked his fury, it was that these two children were forcing him to split his Queen’s attention between them and himself.

Elenor al-Sabbah just had to bring up Tavar, then, and Drakkar’s frosty gaze shifted and locked upon her. He didn’t like or dislike Tavar’s Queen. He didn’t even like or dislike his other surrogate son. But the more they talked about leniency and how noble Tavar was, the more that Drakkar wanted to fling the table aside, find Tavar, and punch his face until it resembled a side of uncooked beef. He was past tired of hearing Tavar’s name and if he didn’t hear of him for another ten centuries, it would still be too soon.

Of course, Tavar was in the Second Circle, so Drakkar would see him every day for the next ten centuries unless one of them died. Drakkar had silently resolved that he would live one day longer than Tavar just so he could throw his dead body into a hole in the earth and then piss on the dirty he threw on top of him.

Illyrian’s Touch brought Drakkar’s thoughts back to the present. When she asked him about Erisian Maboya, though, Drakkar reached out to touch her thigh gently beneath the table. Her worry was known to him through their Bond, and he wanted her to know that nothing would happen to her so long as he stood between her and their enemies.

The matter of Lord al-Sabbah is settled and will have no place in these discussions. We would take it as a show of respect if you didn’t bring him up again.” Drakkar said to the pair.

The matter of the salt mines disturbs us. It sounds like slavery with golden chains. Askavi will never condone slavery, nor will we ally ourselves with those that do condone it in any form. Lady al-Sabbah’s explanation of alternate mining methods is reassuring, but....you said you’re getting water from Hayll. It goes against every instinct that to place faith in anyone who deals with Hayllians...but I acknowledge that it’s a gut reaction based on centuries of acrimony between our lands.” Drakkar said.

Others have vouched for your character, so I hope that our goodwill is not being misplaced in dealing with you.” Drakkar said.

You both speak of ending imprisonment and slavery in the salt mines. Can you guarantee that your Territory Council will follow your lead?” Drakkar asked, looking between the pair. He wanted to see who truly ruled Pruul here, and tying the two together through his questions and their responses would force them either to contradict each other or hold each other accountable in the future if these negotiations were successful. The balance between them seemed similar to the balance of power between Drakkar and Illyrian, but they needed no council to inform their decisions.

He waited for them to answer before continuing.

Prince al-Izar, I don’t know much about Pruulian history. What I do know has been taught to me by Prince Abaddon. He’s informed me of what you and he endured at the hands of the Old Spider. We would like to learn more and, perhaps, pursue friendship with Pruul, but that will take time and decisive action on your parts.

The removal of the salt embargo and the end of the reparations are both noted and appreciated. Your further offers have merit and there would need to be deeper discussions on how these outposts would function and where they would be located. I see it as an excellent reason for you to return to Askavi in the future, perhaps with a member of your Council who will oversee it, if that person will not be you.
” Drakkar said to Lucky, but also catching Elenor in his gaze.

Lady Kriat and Lady al-Sabbah are Queens and are better suited and experienced to lay down the specifics of sharing their strength to feed Askavi’s land. There are areas I would offer my opinion, but I’m not informed enough to speak on the needs of the land from a Queen’s point of view, so I won’t.” he said.

You two are here attempting to build a bridge into the future with Askavi. Few other Territories have shown that kind of bravery. This is a start. A full repudiation and end to slavery and imprisonment in the salt mines would show Pruul’s commitment to this path.” Drakkar said.




Offline Illyrian Kriat

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #11 on: Nov 27, 18, 09:13:17 PM »
Illyrian listened as the Opal Jeweled Queen explained the fate of the mines after the Black Jeweled Priestess Queen had been returned to the land of sky and sun. It caused her concern on a number of levels, all of which were offered to her Warlord Prince along a Summer Sky thread or through lowering her outer barrier to him and allowing him to observe her memories of the matters being discussed. Illyrian had ruled then, drawn out of the safety she had crafted for her people to stand at her Sister Queen's side and rule all of Askavi. These were memories from before Drakkar's time as Warlord Prince of Askavi. She offered them freely, desiring to stand on equal footing here.

The more she had offered of herself, the more Drakkar seemed willing to allow her room to govern. It was a strange thing to experience, as if stepping closer to Drakkar actually granted her far greater freedom than fighting him all the time. She wondered at times if it would work with Renvar, but assumed unless she wanted another ax thrown at her, she would be safer not to try.

Drakkar could feel Illyrian's confusion as Lady al-Sabbah discussed a man of sound moral character and then proceeded to describe his purchasing slaves and having them work in the mines for rehabilitation. Was this indentured servitude or true rehabilitation? Was it supposed to be a blessing for those previously enslaved, one they should feel gratitude for?

If the Queen's plan was viable, the mines still a had a chance for usefulness. But Illyrian knew nothing of survival in the desert, nor of the mechanics involved in the reclamation of salt from brackish water. She would require advisement on these issues before truly understanding them. The pale Queen spoke so quickly and the charts she showed were so foreign.

Her eyes left the Queen and landed on the Sapphire Warlord Prince. Wasn't he spoken of as one of those born within the mines? Examining him, Illyrian was forced to remember how young he truly was. It was no wonder statecraft posed challenges. He simply did not have the experience yet to understand the delicacy diplomatic relations could require.

When Prince al-Izar began to speak, she was already focused on him. His first few sentences confirmed his birthplace. The confirmation only confused her further. As he mentioned the Priestess Queen, Illyrian pulled Erisian's image from her memory, offering it to Drakkar. She did the same with Lady Maboya's male, and the others she had been traveling with. She could feel Drakkar's careful acceptance of what she offered, as if he were handling something delicate that could shatter in too rough hands.

For as much as Tavar's friends had attempted to interfere with the Price demanded by another Territory, Prince al-Izar seemed very comfortable with what should and shouldn't be enough for Lady Maboya and her people. She offered a small smile as the Pruulian Warlord Prince spoke fondly of Prince Uzumati. He was an impressive Eyrien Warrior, even if he was from Shalador and not Askavi.

Again he approached the subject that he knew to be dangerous. He chose different words. He attempted to make it sound rational. But when he compared a Queen's Gift to feed the land with how he might think of his own mundane ability to smith metal, Illyrian's wings twitched involuntarily, which caused a sharp pain to run down her back. Anger mixed with pain flickered through her being, the flames of her slowly growing indignation flickering against Drakkar's awareness.

But as Drakkar's hand tightened on her thigh where it rested beneath the desk, she could feel his patience and his caution. Illyrian focused on the feel of him, both physically and along their bond, and took long, deep breaths. She was doing well. The Summer Sky Queen even found herself pleased with what Lucky said about working toward abolishing slavery. When he finished speaking,  Drakkar stepped in without hesitation, expressing their concerns far more articulately than she would have been able to in that moment. She used the time to collect herself and silently thank Mother Night for granting her Drakkar Estaroth.   

She, too, waited for the answer to ensuring the Council would follow their lead. She nodded when Drakkar spoke to Queens having the skill and knowledge to make decisions of how and when to gift the land. Only when he was finished did she begin to speak.

"I do not object to the continued negotiation of trade between our Territories. And like Prince Estaroth, I believe that outposts near the border could benefit trade of goods for both Territories." The words were spoken carefully, as if each word were carefully chosen.

Her expression was clearly troubled. "Lady al-Sabbah, is this statement true? Do Queens commonly sell their gifts as if it were nothing more than buying new horseshoes or woven cloth at market? I see what you are willing to offer, but do other Queens offer the same as freely?" Her voice expressed both confusion and a genuine desire to know and understand. Clearly there were differences in their cultures that were rising. Revitalizing Askavi was too important to let cultural misunderstandings block their path.

After Lady al-Sabbah finished, she focused again on Prince al-Izar. "I admit to confusion, Prince, over these words you share. In Askavi, Queens are not a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder." Her eyebrows creased as she sought a way to help him understand.

"You choose whether to work metal, yes? You can choose not to. A Queen has no such freedom. She is defined by her very caste. It is not just what she does, it is who she is. And it is a gift meant for all people, not only those who can afford it, which is what I fear your trade of such things will lead to. The wealthy will own even more, the poor will own even less, and food scarcity will grow instead of diminish. This would not help our land. This would ruin it."

Illyrian focused her golden eyes on his, seeking understanding. "That being said... we do need Queens who are willing to help. We have accepted several already. If, as you say, you have Queens who wish to offer their skill, they may come to Askavi of their own free will and may negotiate for offering their Gift. I encourage you to pass this knowledge on to any Queens who have inquired. It can go through this Court directly so as not to only benefit the wealthier areas. I know our ways are foreign to you, but this will always be a sacred exchange within Askavi, a service offered at times at great risk. It can be negotiated, but cannot be a common trade being haggled over at market."

It was not a refusal. She wanted this to work. They needed it to. But two millennia of following the instincts of her caste could not be set aside.

"There are some things, Prince, which are not for sale."



Offline Elenor al-Sabbah

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Re: Old Ways Won't Open New Doors
« Reply #12 on: Nov 27, 18, 11:14:39 PM »
Elenor knew there must be communication going on under the surface between the Warlord Prince and Queen. She was tempted to reach out to Lucky in the same way, confer with him as they had not been able to before this meeting but she restrained herself. What she did do, though, was place her hand next to his on the arm of his chair, a silent offer for the comfort and relief of her Touch but not imposing it on him. She was relieved when he extended his rough fingertips to cover hers and felt the way he took a breath and relaxed a little as her Craft seeped into him.

There was little pause as she gathered her thought to best explain to people who had never met Izil and had no reason to trust Elenor’s opinions that he truly was the right man to turn the mines around. “I see how it might look from the outside. For all intents and purposes, it seems like nothing more than indentured servitude and just a pretty rewording of what has always been done. It’s not. Prince Jofari wore the collar himself in his youth and has a genuine desire to give to others the freedom he won for himself. He is using the mines and their profits to fund this goal because he understands that to give without returns into the system creates an unsustainable operation.”

She took a breath, then gave them the pitch Izil had once given her and that she had thought too good to be true. “Slaves and criminals arrive in from Raej, Hayll, and other corners of the Realm. They are offered the choice of a contract in the mines and if they agree their collars and rings are instantly removed. It takes between two and four years of four-month rotations in the mines to pay off their debt. The rest of their time in self-governed communes where they are encouraged to learn trades and to live and love as free men and women. Then they either choose to stay in Pruul and petition a Clan for admittance or are given enough coin to start a new life and given a coach ride to anywhere the Winds can take them. So far well over five hundred have left the mines behind to start a new life and the numbers are only growing. Recidivism is less than five percent, a number much lower than the chances of the average freed slave. I’ve met many of these people myself and would without hesitation open my own mind to any of you here to show you my experiences and discussions with them. We are taking those who the world has given up on and giving them a path to a new life. There is no shame in that, nor in doing so in such a way that it will continue indefinitely and help as many as possible, even as we try to move into an age when hand-mining will be a thing of the past.” Elenor’s gaze moved from Drakkar to Illyrian, gaze strong and unyielding. This wasn’t a hoax or a lie and she would gladly answer any question posed for there was no deception. 

“I understand, though, if all this means nothing to you, as you have no reason to trust me or mine but the words of others. So I thank you sincerely for at least hearing me out, and I can assure you that my dealings with Hayll have been with individuals and not the Territory Government. Even as it stands I might not be dealing with them for long, I’m fairly certain I’m no longer welcome in that Territory after sort of… kicking an abusive Hayllian slaver in the balls and trying to step on his throat after he suggested that the correct way to treat a woman he was selling was to hurt her often just for the crime of being a slave and having wings.” Elenor hadn’t even known that the Red Jeweled woman was a Queen, not until the journey here when Michael had told her. It still made her sick but she wasn’t sure telling these people, right now, would be in the best interest of… anyone. She would wait for a letter from Jeremiah and see if she could find out her fate before she took any further steps. “I’ve faced the collar as well in my life and many of my dearest friends have suffered greatly because of them. If the council of Pruul makes it illegal, I will support it as I supported their appointment.”

To that, Lucky added, "The Council is made up of all seven castes and I will not presume to know their votes, but they were all once enslaves as I was, so I see no reason they would not vote for the plan."

On a Psychic Thread to her, the Sapphire Warlord Prince added, **I'm afraid Pruulian Queens will not come to Askavi, disrupting their entire Clan's trading route, and putting themselves in danger by crossing the deep desert, on the mere chance that a deal can be struck. A more definitive deal needs to be struck before.**

**I agree, it will be a hard sell as it stands but there may be some wiggle room.** She replied, then spoke aloud before any sort of silence could settle.

“Lady Kriat, I understand your concerns. I am not a native Pruulian and was confused as fu- ah, I mean, very puzzled,” swearing is rude, Elenor, “when I first came there. I’ve been all around this Realm and nowhere is quite as starkly different. Prince Izar speaks the truth. Queens in Pruul have a very unique position, just as Landen do. In the desert, with the Worms, we are each defined not by our Craft but by the skill of our hands and the the strength of our will. You are correct that a Queen’s nature is not the same as a skill you choose, but with no Craft possible on the dunes, a Queen’s nature is not as important as he ability to keep her cool in a sandstorm or make hard calls in impossible circumstances, something I’m sure you’re familiar with.” She took a breath, and continued, “because of this, because a Pruulian Queen with few exceptions is mostly needed for her leadership and choices, coming here for extended bargaining, especially with nothing promised would disrupt our way of life a great deal, especially as many do not know how to ride the Winds. We do not have long winters where our Craft is dormant along with the Land and we have time to travel. Would you consider to allow any Pruulian Queen who might be interested to send a trusted member of their Court to do some preliminary negotiations on their behalf, and if something can be agreed upon meeting and finalizing it Queen to Queen? Would that be amenable?”
 
She leaned forward a little, meeting the older Queen’s gaze. “As for myself, I love Gifting the Land. It’s something I miss so much it hurts. The thought of trading my Gift, be it for water, horseshoes, or, as you say, cloth, wouldn’t be a hardship. What I'm here for is to make a very simple offer: My services, once a year for one week, in exchange for several sources of undrinkable water along our shared border and for the ability to see my Bonded male during those times. It would be a relief to know I am both indulging my deepest nature by helping the land prosper and gaining valuable resources for my people that will matter more, in a very literal life and death way, than my Craft. More than that, even, you are our neighbors. If my sisters and I help you to bring your land back, one day you might be able to ease the burden on our desert to feed our people in a time of our own trouble. For too long each Territory in Terreille has thought only of their borders but the Land doesn’t know borders. We are all stewards of the same Realm and rise and fall together in the end.”