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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 Bitter Homecomings  (Read 1337 times)

Description: Attn: Askavi Court (if desired), Lucky/Kaderian/Blood Seekers/Abbadon

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

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      Warlord Prince of Askavi

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      Gavin

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The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« on: Sep 03, 18, 05:28:21 PM »
Late Spring 193- Gravesend

They were coming.

Kaderian’s letter arrived two nights prior, catching Drakkar during a late night in his office. He’d begun to worry, over the past several months, that he’d sent Kaderian to her death in Pruul? Would Tavar kill her to keep his freedom? Or would some Pruulian fool attempt to harm an Eyrien for past wrongs? If Drakkar had any inkling that Kaderian was harmed or killed through foul play, he would take the Blood Seekers and visit so much death on that ball of sand and shit that their children would never know a time when the land didn’t run red with blood. Fortunately, Kaderian’s letter spared him the trouble. But the letter troubled him on other levels.

The Black Widow’s words were true. Tavar Andros lived. He’d been alive all these centuries, yet chose to stay away.

The letter lay on Drakkar’s hardwood desk. He stared at those first few lines for hours. The chill in his office spread to the entire corridor in his wing of the eyrie, ice forming on the walls as rage deeper than he’d ever known filled his heart and then spilled over to chill the blood in his veins. His heart pounded against his chest, as though it planned to break free, march down to Living Lake, and kill Tavar itself. Drakkar’s empty hand curled into a fist as the cold rage suffused him and scraped away every trace of disbelief and pain. The sting of cold air in his lungs felt like sticking his face into the Lake during the winter months. Betrayal and outrage could wait.

A Price was called for now. 

He called for Vannevar first. He gave orders and his second hastened to comply. Next, he advised the Court to prepare itself for a hearing in the throne room two days hence. He reached out to Renvar to let him know that they had visiting dignitaries arriving at Gravesend in the coming days so that he didn’t mistake Tavar’s people for an aggressive force. The Court was abuzz with activity over the next two days as it was made presentable for arriving dignitaries from Pruul. Illyrian wanted to reach out to other Territories and establish diplomatic relations, didn’t she? Drakkar, productive male that he was, was bringing her Pruulian dignitaries right to their doorstep. Drakkar stalked the halls and chambers of Gravesend like a caged beast, snapping orders here and offering critique of item placement there. Askavi’s land had not been as plentiful as in previous centuries, but their people made their way with what they had. Those people, the ones who stayed, were the ones that Drakkar fought for on a regular basis.

The staff was on edge by the time Drakkar deemed everything to his liking, but few people had any desire to question or cross the Warlord Prince of Askavi. On the day of their arrival, Drakkar dressed in black breeches and a loose vest cut to allow his wings to slip through. It was his concession to Court finery, though he made sure his toned arms and centuries of scars were on display for his old friend. His jet black hair hung loose to the center of his back and he took up his favorite spear, a heft of oak that had survived alongside him for six centuries, and directed someone to bring his Queen to the throne room.

Drakkar entered the throne room to find members of the Court assembled in waiting. Scattered among them were his own supporters, members of the various war camps. The Blood Seekers, Black Sky, and Wind Runner war camps watched with anticipation, nervousness, or thinly veiled anger. Vannevar had done his job well, bringing them here. If Tavar thought that his misdeeds would go unseen before all Askavi, if he thought to walk among them in silence and hide his crimes, he was sorely mistaken.

Drakkar had not decided upon a public execution just yet. He wished to hear from Tavar himself the reasons for his dereliction of duty. He wished for the people harmed by those action to hear those reasons as well. Only then would Drakkar decide the Price owed for Tavar's actions.

When Illyrian arrived, Drakkar paid her the respect due her station and then waited for her to sit down. He took the throne beside her, the one once reserved for Gillian Yatskaya. Once he was seated and comfortable, Drakkar looked to the members of the Guard.

Bring them in.




Offline Illyrian Kriat

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #1 on: Sep 03, 18, 05:31:49 PM »
Drakkar's rage left being anywhere near his office or his room nearly unbearable. The whole wing of the Eyrie in which he spent most of his time required a warming spell or a heavy cloak to navigate. Illyrian had opted for the latter after the second guard and third member of the Eyrie's staff came to talk to her about it. She had sought him out, braced for his cold distance and dismissal, and for once found she was not the cause of his fury. 

To his credit, Drakkar did his best to reign in his temper and grant his Queen calm. He even allowed her to sit with him and didn't pull away from her touch. Perhaps both most surprising and most concerning, he freely accepted her Craft as she helped soothe him through her Touch. Illyrian held great ability there, having always been able to offer a deep well of serenity to her bonded. But it only worked if they choose it to. She couldn't force him to calm. Accepting her offering was out of character for the leader of the Blood Seekers and as much as she enjoyed the connection, it left her uneasy as well.

When she asked if he wished to talk about it, the only thing he shared was that there was a traitor coming to Court. Normally, Illyrian would have pushed. She would have insisted he tell her, relentlessly going at him until she understood the situation more fully. But as she watched him cling to the bits of calm she was able to infuse him with, she knew it wasn't the right path. This was personal for the Warlord Prince of Askavi and Illyrian knew better than to interfere.

When the day arrived, she had given him his space. She waited to join his side until he sent for her. When he did, she pressed a kiss to Irinian's hair before disentangling her daughter from her lap and walked with intention and purpose toward the throne room. Guards fell in to join her as she went. She noticed the number and wondered if it was Drakkar or Renvar who had ordered their increased presence.

When she entered the throne room, the entirety of her focus was on her male. She moved toward Drakkar, the train of her backless pewter gown flowing behind her. Drakkar offered a proper greeting, befitting both her station as Askavi's Queen and as his Queen. She bowed her head in acceptance and exchange before turning to sit down on her throne.

Only then did she realize the number of people present. Her wings twitched, as they so often did when she was indoors, but she refrained from spreading them. Too many tempers were on edge. Even if most did not interpret it as an aggressive gesture, it only took one tightly strung Eyrien to set off the rest. As Drakkar's voice carried easily over the crowd, she reached out her hand to brush against his. *Steady, my Prince*. Her words breathed through his mind with the same gentleness her knuckles brushed the back of his hand, infusing him with her Touch. She pulled away again enough that it would not be obvious what had just passed between them, but left her arm resting where he could easily reach her hand if he needed to.

The doors opened and the small group was led inside. *Steady.*



Offline Kaderian Yrisia

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #2 on: Sep 03, 18, 05:59:41 PM »
She had dressed.. nicely.  Sort of.  She hadn't bothered finding some fancy dress.  That wasn't her, and Drakkar would probably laugh his ass off if he saw her in one.  No, she'd found a good leather jerkin, something well made and buffed to a shine.  She'd found good doeskin breeches, and boots to encapsulate her feet.  She was a Healer for a War Camp, and by the Night, she would look like one.

She knew this wasn't going to be clean, or easy, or even painless.  In fact, there was a damned good chance she was going to get injured, or dead.  Wouldn't that just be ironic? Surviving all that travel, all the Jhinka, all the sand.. and dying at Drakkar's feet, or on his weapon?  Her luck was that poor, so she believed it possible.

But she gave her word.  She'd told Elenor she would do her damndest to see Fin, Tavar, not killed.  She might not succeed - but at least the Pruulian Queen wouldn't be able to blame her for not trying.  The very thought had her wings twitching, a little, as they walked.

".. Remember to stay calm, you hot heads.  Trust me... there's going to be enough snarling in this meet and greet to fill a few centuries' quotas."

She wasn't happy bringing Tavar home.  She wished she could have written Drakkar from Living Lake and told him that the Jhinka had killed him.  Her life would be so much less complicated.  Her life, in fact, would be so much easier if that was how it had gone.  But no.  No, of course not, Tavar Andros was too damned difficult to kill.

The doors before them opened, and she took a deep breath.  That deep breath carried the only scent she ever wanted in her lungs.. as well as those she'd rather not breathe.  Drakkar.  It had been too long.  Over a year.  A short amount of time in all the years of her life, yes, but it was still too long.  She stepped around the males, her eyes locking on that face.

He hadn't changed, not really.  At least, his face hadn't.  Why did that surprise her?  HAd she spent too long amongst the short lived, who seemed to change every day?  Her fingers twitched, and then she put a fist to her heart.  "My Prince."

Her eyes turned to Illyrian.  "Lady Kriat."  It was probably the most polite she could be.  Those gold eyes swept straight back to Drakkar, immediately.  "May I present the dignitaries of Pruul." 

Her thoughts stretched out, gently weaving a distaff to spear thread in the hopes of preventing what seemed to her a predictable outcome.  Breathe, my prince, and please don't try to kill him.  I gave his Queen my word that I would see him return to Pruul alive.  It was the best way to get him here.  Do not make a liar out of me, please.

She inclined her head, taking a deep breath to force some of the chill in the air down into her lungs.  The cold was appreciated.  It helped clear her head, a little.  She'd spent too many years living amongst angry males for their cold rage to not clear her head, too many years learnign to function despite the caution that scent could create, and too many years using that scent to increase her 'i don't give a damn' attitude to break it now.

It was a useful habit, especially right now.

From this day to the last...

Offline Lucky al-Izar

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #3 on: Sep 03, 18, 10:16:21 PM »
1. Keep Protocol firmly in mind.

2. Don’t attempt to sleep with anyone’s Queen.

3. Be respect to Province and District rulers when meeting them, but don’t grovel. You never know when they might rise to rule.

4. Shut up and listen.


Lucky had met with Omid before he left for Askavi, the older male giving him some pointers on how to handle this situation. Together, they had done some research on the ruling forces within the territory and the Prince had showed him how to handle some of the likely situations he might find himself in. The preparation had made him feel confident on the way here, but now Lucky felt, well, terrified. Omid was the one who was supposed to meet others on Pruul’s behalf. He was the one that knew the delicate dance of Protocol. Lucky was just as apt to offend someone as compliment them with the same words.

So the two had run through some phrases he could say. They had organized a few gifts he could give them. Mocked up some scenarios. But Lucky was still Lucky. The brilliantly colored kurta shalwar he wore might hide that fact from the Eyrien Court, but it didn’t hide that fact from him. Still though. Eleanor believed in him. Fin believed in him. Some of his family did. Maybe he could make them proud. Lucky would even settle with getting out of here without drawing any blood.

As they waited outside, the Warlord Prince laid a hand on Fin’s shoulder, catching his eye. “I’m with you, Fin. If they challenge you, they challenge me.” Without the Warlord, who knew were Lucky al-Izar would be today. Probably underneath a large sand dune, forgotten. He would not let that debt go unpaid, even if his loyalty to Pruul and his loyalty to his friend warred with each other.

As the trio of Pruulians entered the large chamber, Lucky kept his eyes fixed ahead, appraising the pair sitting in the duel thrones. A Warlord Prince and a Queen. Fire and water. Not a full council, but similar to how Pruul had set up their territory rulership. The good nature of a Queen tempered by the hostility of a Warlord Prince. It just happened to be that this Warlord Prince hated his friend. Maybe, if he shut up and listened like Omid had advised, he could be of some use. Apparently diplomacy and fighting did not go hand and hand. And, despite Lucky's disbelief, there were situations were diplomacy was ever better than fighting. It seemed like this could be one of them.

Waiting for Kaderian to introduce them, Lucky bowed to the pair of rulers, met their gaze, and stepped back, careful to only make eye contact with the Eyrien Queen and not let his gaze fall down to her breasts. He was determined to make some semblance of a good impression. Well, as good an impression as a half-breed child could to these long-lived pricks.   

“Prince Estaroth. Lady Kriat. Lucky al-Izar, ruling Warlord Prince of the Pruulian Territory Council. Friend of Fin al-Sabbah.”

At least that was a phrase Omid and him had practiced, so if he fucked up here he could yell at his brother later.

If there was a later.

Offline Abaddon al-Sabbah

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #4 on: Sep 04, 18, 10:48:23 AM »
Abaddon had finally come to Gravesend.  He had seen it in dreams and visions, stitched together from the minds of many.  It was a placed that had grown over time, not in size, but in importance.  The Black Widow Warlord Prince understood the power of myth and legend and tradition, though he wondered what such things truly meant to the long-lived.  Was it dogma, or was it something that changed over time.  He feared it was the former.  Illyrian and her Sister Queen had created something that had stood the test of time, that had become a haven for the Eyriens of Askavi, and the only shame in it was that many people did not seem to appreciate the courage and sacrifice that it took to create the place.  Abaddon was not only impressed, he wanted to know all he could about the Craft employed there, about the Queens and the Black Widows that had made the place their home and their life’s work.  He had already begun to get to know the Queen, as was his right, he enjoyed the reach of a Black Widow and the will to make use of it.

He walked into the hall with his back straight, and his hands clasped behind him.  He was dressed elegantly, choosing simplicity over ostentation.  He wore simple black slippers upon his feet, with black, loose fitting desert trousers that kept him covered and cool in the desert, and allowed freedom of moment.  He wore a simple black tunic, tucked through his dark red sash, that left his chest and abdomen largely bare, showing the golden skin and defined muscles.  Abaddon wore the formal gorget as well, displaying the black widow motif, and holding his jewels, his Red in the abdomen, the open in the spider’s forward legs.  His hair was brushed back from his face, and bound into a topknot with a pewter clasp given to him by Ghanima.  Abaddon’s bear was neatly trimmed, but he did not shave it, to show that he was not from Askavi, nor was he trying to be.  He took in the room with his senses, Drakkar Estaroth’s anger radiated from him like ripples of a pool after a stone has been tossed in, and it never stopped.  It pushed Abaddon’s lips into a subtle snarl, that he immediately schooled into impassivity, taking in the patience and serenity of Illyrian by his side.

Abaddon sensed only one deeper in the Darkness in the room, but he was Dual Caste, his blessings greater than even that of a Gray, but he sought out his sense of that Eyrien, a Male, and gave him a nod of respect, before stepping forward towards the Rulers of Askavi.  He bowed appropriately, which is to say, only a little, giving each the respect they were due for their positions, and then straightened.  He introduced himself, ”I am Prince Abaddon al-Sabbah of Pruul.  I am here on behalf of Fin al-Sabbah, the man you know as Tavar Andros, whom I hold as a brother.”  He remained standing straight, his voice a rich, clear baritone, projected towards the rulers.  An item appeared in the air before him, it was a sheathed khanjar, simple and elegant, but clearly very well made.  ”In Pruul we train most of our young lives for Trials that earn each of us the privilege to be considered an adult.  Upon that day, we are given a khanjar our first knife, some will carry no other for all the days of their lives.  This was my first.  As a gesture of good will, I present it to you as a gift, Prince Estaroth.  May it serve you as well as it served me.”  He turned to Illyrian, and here his impassivity faded, and he smiled warmly, ”Lady Illyrian, it is a joy to see you with my own eyes.”  Another item appeared, it was a simple box, carved with webs, a spider served as the handle to remove the life.  ”Tea from Pruul.  It is best served very hot, and even on a hot day.  Somehow it will serve to calm and cool you.  My gift to you.”

Both items were deposited at the feet of the Rulers on the dais, and then Abaddon bowed slightly again, and stepped back to stand with the rest, his eyes drifting to study the man that was his Father.  I look nothing like him.  The rage from the Warlord Prince of Askavi threatened to rub his skin raw, and whatever peace he had found in the release of combat at Deephome, in his Visions, and in his wanderings of the Twisted Kingdom to stand beside the Queen of Gravesend, was rapidly fading beneath the feel of it.  The subtle curl of his lip returned, and he felt it.  His hands clasped his own wrists behind his back, and his grip tightened, even as his jaw clenched.



Offline Tavar al-Sabbah

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #5 on: Sep 04, 18, 03:57:11 PM »
Gravesend’s majesty was unrivaled and its proximity to the sky made it an ideal place to hide a Court. Tavar had been through Snow Cliffs Province only once in his life, on the way to his first mission in Shalador during the Great War. Thinking of the jungle Territory made the scar over Tavar’s right eye tingle, and he smiled at the memory of the spear that had nearly taken his eye centuries ago. The smile was welcome, given that he’d had precious few reasons to smile over the past few days. Seeing Fayrian again had opened up unexpected wounds.

Coming home was a mistake, but one he could not undo.

Tavar recognized a few males from his youth here, but a small number. Most of them looked at him with curiosity or veiled anger, but the presences of Lucky and Abbadon had taken some of the attention off of him. He dressed much as the young men had, in the Pruulian fashion with soft slippers, dark breeches and dark brown tunic. His Purple Dusk and Sapphire jewels hung from silver chains at his neck, gifts from Shadya and Amira prior to his departure. He missed his nieces now, more than ever, but he knew what Drakkar would do to them if he ever came to Pruul. The image of Drakkar raping Amira until her jewels broke, of forcing Shadya to tend his men had stiffened Tavar’s spine. He adjusted the silver band on his wrist, the symbol of his fealty and membership among Clan Sabbah, and waited in silence to be called before the throne.

He had come to Askavi for one reason and one reason alone. It was time to get to work.

Tavar noted the placement and position of the guards. They were highly disciplined, for certain, but there were always those who took their duties less seriously than others. Tavar sought those men for a time, but did not find them at first glance. He resolved to keep his eyes open.

Lucky offered his support and Tavar smiled at the younger man. Despite the disagreement between them regarding the Mineborn Council, Tavar believed that the Warlord Prince spoke true. He was comforted that Mother Night had brought these brothers together and placed them both into his life. Both men would carry Pruul far, in due time, even if Tavar himself did not return. He also knew that they would take care of Shadya, Judiah, Amira, and Elenor if he fell here today. The comfort in that single thought let Tavar allowed him to cover Lucky’s hand with his own and nod.

Thank you, my friend. For everything.

Finally, a member of the Guard arrived to escort them into the presence of the Warlord Prince of Askavi and his Queen. Kaderian looked ready to end this entire debacle and Tavar agreed with her. She would enter the chamber first, followed by Lucky and Abbadon, with Tavar entering last. He held the least status among all of them, as being the Voice of a Clan did not translate into anything that an Eyrien was required to respect. The badges he wore were decidedly less honorable to those arrayed inside the throne room.

Traitor.

Deserter.

Murderer.

Disappointment.


He watched as Lucky and Abbadon showed their skill and honor. Lucky sounded like a ruler. He sounded like a man who knew his place in the world and not a boy struggling to sound tough. He was proud of him, though he could not say so. Abbadon’s introduction was no less skilled, though Tavar noted the deep chill in the room as he watched the rulers of Gravesend. Lady Kriat was a beautiful woman and it surprised him to hear Abbadon said that they were meeting again. Drakkar’s shifted toward Illyrian, but then returned to the male before him, glaring daggers at the young man who claimed familiarity with the Queen of Askavi.

Only now did Tavar recognize just how different, and yet how similar father and son truly were. They both despised people as a general rule, though they could be tender toward those they claimed.

Prince al-Sabbah. Prince al-Izar.” Drakkar said. “Welcome to Askavi. Your gifts are received. I am certain that this Court will have many, many questions for the two of you in the coming days.

Vannevar stepped forward to collect both gifts from the foot of the throne, holding them gently.

Drakkar stood and walked down the steps from his throne to stand on the floor. He walked over to Kaderian and took her hands, offering the first real smile that he’d smiled in days.

Before we continue any further,” Drakkar said, raising his voice for the assembled. “Lady Yrisia, along with Lord Dorma, Prince Attanis, and Prince Garos, should be commended for their dedication to duty and their bravery in the face of adversity. They put duty above personal desire, one year ago, to enter a world that still fears and hates us. They made this sacrifice to bring home the son of a hero. They sacrificed time with their families, time with their fellow warriors, their Queens, and in their own lives to bring home the son of one of our most-esteemed warriors, the Warlord Prince Valar Andros.

These people succeeded where even Lord Tavar’s father did not, returning him to his people after centuries away. Lady Yrisia and her companions are to be honored for their dedication and perseverance, even when the lives of our brothers were snatched away by the Jhinka.

We owe them a debt we can’t repay.
” Drakkar said, before releasing her hands. He returned to his seat at Illyrian’s side and sat.

Only then did his attention turn to Tavar.

Lord Andros.

The words were filled with a chill that Tavar had never heard from another Warlord Prince. He did not flinch. Tavar stepped forward and offered a deep bow to Lady Kriat and Drakkar, infused with every ounce of diplomacy and Protocol he could muster. He represented Elenor and the Sabbah here. He would show them his quality.

Lady Kriat. Prince Estaroth. Thank you both for your hospitality this day. My name is Lord Tavar Andros, also called Fin al-Sabbah, by the people of Pruul--

You will be called by your name here, Lord Andros.” Drakkar said.

Tavar wanted to snarl a challenge. He wanted to tell Drakkar that that name wasn’t for him to use, but he remained silent. This Court was filled with Drakkar’s supporters, making Tavar wonder at the dynamic here. He’d heard an unsettling rumor at Living Lake, one that he didn’t want to discuss in public. He took a deep breath, composed himself, and continued. “I’ve returned at your request, Prince, to address my absence and actions. I request a private audience with you and Lady Kriat to do so.

Drakkar nodded, considering it. “At my request.” Drakkar said softly. Illyrian would feel his anger flare across their bond as he murmured those words.

Well, thank you for returning at my request. Had I known that you’d respond, I would have requested that you return sooner.” Drakkar said.

Your request for a private audience is denied. You will speak to all of us, or none of us, as Prince al-Sabbah and Prince al-Izar have done. A Blood Seeker can do no less.

Fin’s expression darkened. This was going poorly. He looked to Illyrian, who had been silent thus far.

"And do you say the same, Lady Kriat?




Offline Celebrian Eodan

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    • There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #6 on: Sep 05, 18, 02:03:40 AM »
Anyone who was not intimately familiar with Celebrian Eodan was unlikely to notice the way her back straightened as Drakkar spoke the name of the man they had named their son after. To the average observer, the jutting rise of her chin would simply fall in line with her reputation for arrogance. Those among the War Camps knew first hand that that reputation was both well earned and deserved, but to the rest of the Court, she appeared as she often did: cold, vain, distant.

The one in the room who might recognize what shades passed over and through her was focused entirely on the Healer before him. Kaderian and Cele had a long history she had been just as happy to see not revisited. Of course now that she had returned from her mission, successful, no less, Celebrian assumed the Healer would be taking her place again at Drakkar's side and in his bed. Hadn't Vondar warned her as much?

He carried on, never shy of his voice when he had a captive audience. And this was to be quite the performance. The traitor finally brought home. The betrayer who chose foreigners over his own people. Celebrian understood what it was to need to claw free of a life gone wrong. Of course, she had come back. Still, as her eyes took in the sight of Tavar, she understood Drakkar's rage.

Already spiked by the anticipation of the day finally come to pass, and yet further by the overly familiar greeting of the Red Jeweled Black Widow Warlord Prince to his Queen, Drakkar's anger could turn deadly with no more warning than the way he drew breath. Was that as obvious to everyone else as it was to her? Drakkar was already bleeding rage. Would anyone else notice an extra spike?

There was ice in the words he spoke to the former Blood Seeker. They were not a War Camp known for their forgiveness. She expected some offering or even acknowledgement of his absence. Instead, Tavar Andros offered a most non-Eyrien name. A Pruulian name.  But it was his request and Drakkar's denial of it that held her attention. Tavar's next words were directed at the Queen. The focus of the room shifted suddenly to Illyrian, who had remained mostly silent so far.

Illyrian allowed the full weight of her attention to fall on Tavar. There was something akin to compassion there. Was she really so weak-hearted? How had Mother Night ever thought Drakkar Estaroth was a good fit for this Summer Sky Queen?

"Lord," Illyrian spoke, neither naming him by his choice or Drakkar's.
 
Coward. 

"Many have come to witness your return. Is it not better for such things to be witnessed publicly, so none may question what transpired? Let there be no question what occurs here today. The public audience will continue."

Offline Cassian Ankhara

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #7 on: Sep 05, 18, 09:13:24 AM »
Cassian was late to the gathering and knew she would be. Healing took its own time and did not bow to the arrival of guests or traitors, depending on how one saw Tavar Andros’s return as. When she was finally free of her duties, she slipped into the room as quietly as possible, meeting Queen Kriat’s eyes briefly and dipping her head in respect.

Court was already in session, judging by the tone Drakkar was using. Cassian found herself a corner and tucked her wings close as she looked over the contingent from Pruul. Winged, all of them, but not all of them like the Eyriens in the room. Tavar held himself with composure and calm, naming himself Fin al-Sabbah, a Pruulian name, but Drakkar reminded him of his birth name rather quickly. Dismissively. Cassian suppressed a sigh. Any hope she had fostered of Drakkar ever being gentle, like that conversation they had had while he had been healing, was quickly diminishing. It seemed all he wanted was violence.

She looked over at the two males who had come with Tavar. Even from here, she could tell they were Warlord Princes and Dark, but while one of them held himself like a man, the other held himself in a parody of a man. No, parody was not the right word. Youthful. Inexperienced. Why was he here? Ruling Warlord Prince of the Pruulian Council? Did that mean that this boy just entering manhood was in charge of a Territory?

How strange.

The other Warlord Prince, the even Darker one, intrigued her. There was something about him that radiated assurance and...other. Was he of a second Caste? She couldn’t tell at this distance but he carried himself with an air of something more than just Warlord Prince. Perhaps she imagined it. Either way, she hoped that she would get to meet him in a scenario where he wasn’t bleeding out all over the floor.

Keeping to her corner, Cassian listened with restrained interest. Drakkar’s tone boded ill for the trio in the center of the room. On a distaff thread to her fellow Healer, Cassian said to Kaderian, **You don’t think this is going to turn to bloodshed, do you? So many Warlord Prince crammed into the same room, wanting answers?** Wanting answers for things that had happened centuries ago.

If Eyriens were good at anything besides killing, it was holding grudges so that they had the reasoning to kill something in the future.

Offline Kaderian Yrisia

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #8 on: Sep 05, 18, 09:33:55 AM »
Feeling another Healer in the same room, a Healer that shared her Jewels of both Birthright and Rank, was almost a relief.  There were too few Healers, in her mind, and every single one of them were important regardless of Depth or experience.  Even younglings would be necessary, considering how many people were injured on a regular basis due to savage Jhinka.

Still, she knew as soon as that thread reached her that the Healer in the room was not a Camp Healer.  There was a sense of gentility to her that Camp Healers just didn't seem to have after a few years.  It wasn't weakness.  She would never mistake gentility for weakness - but it was a missing thread of hardened steel that Healers in a Camp developed in order to remain sane after dealing with everything that came their way.

Or they had in her time, anyways.  For all she knew, more recent Healers were less hard.  Or maybe more so.  She didn't get to interact with her own all that often, truth be told.

**Prince Estaroth is just as likely to turn to violence in this case as any other, I suppose.. and truth be told, it's earned in this case.  For my sake, however, I hope he does not.  I gave the traitor's Queen my word that I would keep him from death.

And if that weren't bad enough... if he resorts to violence, I think most in this room will die.  I've seen what the Red Black Widow male can do.**


There was admiration in that thread for the dual caste male she'd escorted here.  Admiration, and a bit of envy.  She wanted to be able to do those things.  She was going to learn to do those things.  Chances were, if this went the way she thought they would, she might have ample time to do so.

Provided she survived, of course. 

Drakkar might just kill her if she got between Justice and Tavar Andros.  But she had given her word.  She had promised that nosy snot nosed little bitch of a Queen that she would do her best to see the Voice of her Clan survive.. and damnit, she was going to do so.  Elenor Lirion had a leaning towards helping Askavi... and Mother Night curse them all, they needed whatever help they could get, pride be damned!

If Tavar died, it wouldn't just be a smear on her word - it might very well be the beginning of a death knell for their people. 

So she took a deep breath, hardening her heart against what was sure to come.  "Lady Kriat.  Prince Estaroth."  She spoke firmly, her wings lifting a little.  "Warlord Princes of the Court.  Take a deep breath, as I know you are capable."  Her voice snapped with the order of a Camp Healer - because the most snarly of the males here were Camp Males. 

She could see them, the familiar faces.  The familiar looks.  She knew those looks.

"The male born as Tavar Andros who has taken the name of Fin al-Sabbah is Voice of his Clan in Pruul, Bonded to the Clan Queen.  He has come of his own will to try to avoid bloodshed, something that I think most in Askavi would prefer these days."  Oh how her voice went dry on that statement.  The Camps always preferred bloodshed, herself included most of the time.  But in this case? In this case she would side on the path of peace.

She lifted her eyes to look Drakkar in the face.  "I have spoken with his Queen.  There is the possibility of trade, and friendship, with the Clan Sabbah.  Lucky al-Izar may be able to offer more than just her one Clan."  Her chin lifted, eyes narrowing on Drakkar just a little.

**Do not make me plant myself between you, Drakkar.  Please.  I gave my word.  You say you owe me a debt?  Do not kill him, and the debt you say you can't repay will be paid in full.**

She knew he couldn't respond.  She even knew that request might infuriate him.  She also knew it might be the only card she had to play.  He might see her thrown from the Bloodseekers for this.  Hell, he might send her away from Askavi for this.

It didn't matter.  If his heart kept beating, it would be worth it.  Abaddon al-Sabbah could, and would, kill him if he tried to kill Tavar.  She had no doubt of that.

Offline Fayrian Avilor

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #9 on: Sep 05, 18, 11:11:37 AM »
As a rule, Fayrian did not go to Gravesend. She didn’t like the place, nor the people (then again, Fay didn’t like most people who weren’t Landen or family or Vondar). Today though, she had even put on a nice pair of trousers and knee-high boots, and a button-down that wasn’t entirely covered in dirt stains, atop of which she had pulled on a soft sweater to stay warm during the flight over. Dalinar was playing escort because he, too, had a grievance in this. Tavar hadn’t just killed Fay’s husband and son, but his twin and nephew. The crime was the same but those who had been hurt by it many. Though she usually had trouble being in her Bonded’s presence, today she remained close to him, needed him not for comfort - there was none to be had - but to hold her back when the murderous traitor showed up in her sights again. She didn’t want to spill blood all over this floor without the consent of the Rulers of Askavi.

Still, Fay wasn’t subtle as she pushed her way to the front of the crowd. She might not be a ruling one, but she was a fucking Queen and she was allowed to not have to jump up and down, trying to get a good view of the drama unfolding from behind some brick-headed and tall male.

Dalinar stayed at her elbow, an arm around hers.

“Steady, Fayrian.” He said, as the Pruulian delegation walked in. She could feel the cold radiating from his hands.

“You too.” She growled back under her breath.

They both remained still, but those golden eyes were fixed on Tavar as he said empty words and tried to get out of sight of the accusatory crowd like the sniveling, sheep-fucking, desert backwater coward that he was. Fay nodded in approval as both Drakkar and Illyrian refused the request, her opinion of them rising from ‘I don’t give a shit’ to ‘I’m ignoring you.’

Then her attention snapped to the fucking Healer.

A hiss passed her lips. What the fuck did Askavi care if they pissed off a single Pruulian Clan? What did Pruul have that Askavi needed? Sand? Fuck them. What did it matter that Tavar’s Queen was open to trade if she was Darkness made for a monster like the one she had thought to be a friend. She would either be a blind idiot or a horrible creature and neither would benefit Askavi.

But she held her tongue… mostly.

“Dalinar, would you send a psychic thread to the Queen of Askavi for me? Stating that I, too, have a grievance to bring before the Court in regard to this male and would like to be worked into the schedule.”

Dalinar was going to add ‘please’ to the end of the request. Usually, Fay would have been annoyed but her annoyance levels were already at max.

She took comfort in daydreaming of Tavar’s screams of agony as his blood coated the floor of this room today. That made her smile, even though she wasn’t holding her breath. Justice was never that…. just.

Offline Lucky al-Izar

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #10 on: Sep 05, 18, 11:07:22 PM »
It was a strange thing to feel calm when walking through the halls of Gravesend.

Lucky could feel the rage swirling around him, a tidal wave of just levied emotion, aching for escape. If he opened his mouth, took a deep breath, the Warlord Prince was sure he would be able to taste the anger on the air. It might even be nice. He was Eyrien after all. Maybe not enough for most of the people in this room, but his blood ran just as hot.

Lucky did not let his anger show openly like Abaddon though. His breathing was easy and his hands swung confidently at his waist, never lingering near the khanjar that hung there. He had not come to Askavi only to die in a fucking throne room. He wanted to at least fuck one or two women with wings first. *Take a breath, Abaddon. Do you want me to bring you home to Ghanima in pieces? There are hundreds of them and three of us. I never thought I’d see the day when I would be the one telling you to use your head instead of your rage.*

The Mineborn could just as easily give into his anger, let the haze of the tension within the room peak his natural instincts, but he wanted to make sure his family lived. And now his family included the Red Jeweled pain in the ass Black Widow.

Taking a breath, Lucky watched the dignitaries step forward, his eyes scanning the room like Fin had taught him for weaknesses. The women here were clearly one, but he doubted they could get to them before their throats were slit and their Jewel’s broken. No, attacking wouldn’t work.

It was a good thing he had come prepared with more gifts than a khanjar and some tea. 

With Kaderian’s words, Lucky’s wings twitched and he spoke once more, not stepping any closer to the Warlord Prince of Askavi, but certainly not backing down.

“Prince Estaroth, Lady Kriat, before any judgement is set forth, I must say one last thing.” He paused, his green-gold eyes trained on the Warlord Prince and the Queen. Elenor had done her research on Askavi. She knew what they needed dearly. “I come first as a ruler of Pruul, but I come second as a representative of the Izar Clan. Lord Sabbah has proven himself invaluable to my family and his own. As such, I come to offer the Queen’s Gift of two Pruulians, Lady Elenor al-Sabbah, the Rose to Opal Clan Queen of the Sabbah, and Vashti al-Izar, a Purple Dusk to Green Queen of the al-Izar, to Askavi once every year in exchange for leniency for the man you know as Tavar Andros. We hope the prospect of nourishing your land and your people can provide some of the Price you are seeking without bloodshed.” The Warlord Prince did not look at Fin as he said the words. He and Elenor had specifically not told him what they planned, because they had known he would object.

But Fin needed to stay alive for more than just himself.

Offline Illyrian Kriat

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #11 on: Sep 06, 18, 02:23:29 AM »
"Enough." 

Her voice cracked like the single lash of a whip. Sharp and sudden, but over and gone just as quickly, only the sting of a Queen's displeasure left in its place.

Silently, she stood, her wings spreading slightly and adding to the formidable sight of an Eyrien Queen in her element. "This is my Court. I have ruled here for nearly two millennia. And you will observe Protocol appropriate to this meeting or you will have the respect to silence your voice instead of opening your mouth and proving your ignorance."  Her wings snapped shut with a sound of finality and settled against her body.

She turned toward Kaderian. "Lady Yrisia. You have long been away from Askavi and have returned a hero. Your exuberance to complete your mission is admirable. It is why I am forgiving your words without consequence and letting them fall from my mind. But if you ever stand in my throne room and tell my Court what to do again, I will be neither forgiving nor forgetful."

Without waiting for her answer, she turned her focus sharply to Lucky al-Izar. "For a guest of this Court, you handle your life rashly. You rush to negotiate before sentencing when we haven't even heard evidence of wrong doing. You offer 'one last thing'  before judgment when we have not even begun. Do you think us monsters incapable of reason? So blood thirsty there is nothing but immediate slaughter?"

"You are young. And you are new to this land and our ways. I wonder if you even see now what you have done. If you can feel the tension of those around you. Do you realize the insult you offer your Queens? Their service in perpetuity to a foreign land in exchange for some small show of mercy to this Warlord? Do you think so little of their Craft? So little of their place in the Darkness?"

Her eyes narrowed as she continued. "You are male. You have no rights to the Gifts of Queens. You will not trade them like trivial commodities. If they wish to come here and make such offerings, they have that right. But you, Prince, have no right to offer anything of a woman's body to anyone. Whatever it is like in Pruul, Queens will be respected here."

Illyrian's hand came to rest on Drakkar's shoulder. Her Touch ran through her fingertips, seeping into his skin. "So that there are no more interruptions or confusion. Tavar, you will stand before this Court and all will hear what you stand accused of. Already I have had petition for others who wish to speak." Her eyes met Fayrian's and she nodded in acknowledgment. "After they have spoken, then Tavar and others may offer explanations and defense. Prince Estaroth is the leader of the Blood Seekers and the Warlord Prince of Askavi. He will be shown the respect of his station."

Illyrian let her gaze fall on all those gathered before she settled her wings tightly against her back and resumed her seat on her throne. "Please proceed, Prince." At this last, her voice was soft, almost gentle, as she handed her Court and absolute trust into Drakkar Estaroth's hands.



Offline Drakkar Estaroth

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #12 on: Sep 06, 18, 11:22:52 AM »
Drakkar listened as hearing became a discussion and he didn’t approve. Were he able, he would have cautioned Kaderian against giving orders in the presence of a Queen, but he hadn’t been. He would discuss that with her later on, same as he’d discuss this deal she’d made without his knowledge or approval. The Pruulian contingent was quickly wearing on his nerves, his mind still turning over Abbadon al-Sabbah’s initial greeting to Illyrian about seeing her again. The man was a Warlord Prince who’d also learned the skills of the Black Widow. Drakkar’s skin crawled a little at that. It was unnatural. Women could not learn to be Warlord Princes or Princes, Mother Night be thanked. He knew too many that would leap at the chance.

Abbadon al-Sabbah was worrisome, though Drakkar could not say why.

Lucky al-Izar was a Warlord Prince, though his youthful exuberance was a liability. He had wings, but no discipline. Drakkar’s eyes searched for any resemblance between Tavar and these two males who defended him in word and action. They called him by his new name, Fin al-Sabbah, a name that made Drakkar want to vomit every time he heard it. When had Valar’s only son become such a coward? Why would he abandon his people to suffering and torment, rather than return to Askavi and lead the War Camp his father built for him? Drakkar had never intended to lead the Blood Seekers this long. He’d wanted nothing more than return to his family and live the rest of his days in peace. But peace was a lie. A vicious lie spread by weak minds to lull a warrior into a false sense of security.

Drakkar would not fall for it.

Finally, Illyrian spoke and shut down the discussion to restore order. He waited for everyone to quiet down before looking to Illyrian.

Thank you, my Lady. I appreciate your patience with me and this matter. You’ve long been an advocate for the rights and respect of Queens and I respect your tireless devotion to our people.” Drakkar said.

Drakkar shifted in his seat, eyes focused upon Tavar. Unblinking and unyielding, he pinned Tavar beneath his gaze. The Warlord at least had the good sense to speak to his companions and bring them to heel. Drakkar spared at glance at the crowd and found Cassian among the crowd, looking unhappy. Drakkar almost sympathized with her. He hadn’t wanted to work today, either.

When Illyrian returned the discussion to his hands, Drakkar’s eyes found Tavar’s.

Lord Tavar Andros, you stand accused of dereliction of duty, deserting of your post in a time of war, and breaking the oaths to which you pledged your life and jewels as a member of the Blood Seekers. Your actions have harmed not just those you served with, but others who depended upon you to fight at their side and protect them.” Drakkar said.

I am aware that, today, the families of those harmed by your actions stand among us in this throne room. If it is your wish to be heard today, you may step forward. You will be called upon to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves due to the actions of this male.” Drakkar said.

Drakkar saw people moving through to line the edge of the room, where they could be seen. First five, then ten, then thirty. The Warlord Prince of Askavi’s expression remained impassive as they forward. 

Prince Yataskaya, will you see to keeping this orderly while these people speak?” Drakkar asked.

He called on the first person to speak and listened as they explained how their brother or son or father held Valar Andros in high esteem. Those people saw it as a great honor to fight at the side of his son, whose star was rising. A few of them had even gone all the way through the Hunting Camps with Tavar and saw his skill firsthand. But when their family members did not return, they mourned for all of Askavi’s lost sons, Tavar included.

One by one, they laid out many of the same stories.

He sat at my table and ate my food.

My daughter hoped to be courted by him. My son called him a friend.

I trained him to fight. To kill Askavi’s enemies. Witch’s Purge took my jewels, but this bastard took my sons!

Tavar said nothing. Merely stared hard at Drakkar during the entire recitation. It was damning. Once it was complete, Drakkar looked to the rest of the Court.

Is there anyone else who would speak to the impact that Lord Andros's actions has had upon you?



Offline Lukevar Nast

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #13 on: Sep 07, 18, 01:03:49 AM »
Lukevar watched as it quickly became evident that the hearing wouldn’t be a simple situation.  From his position at at side of the room, he took note of how quick the onlookers’ anger became a palpable thing, that would only need one thing to bring the tension to a head.  Guards, Blood Seekers, and others were in place to protect the onlookers, although with the way things were seemingly headed, Tavar Andros would need to be protected from them.

The thought of leaving Askavi, and abandoning his people, was one that Lukevar couldn’t understand.  While he sympathized with him for being a part of the Red Queen’s war machine, to leave his homeland where his people counted on him to defend them, was unthinkable. Tavar’s attempt to move the hearing to a private location was met with open scorn on the Prince’s face. Initially, he’d hoped that Tavar Andros would be honorable enough to admit his crimes and accept his punishment, allowing those wronged to find closure.  It appeared that instead, it was going to be a much longer hearing than he anticipated.

He tuned out the litany of grievances, and instead turned his attention to the Pruulians that had accompanied Andros out of the desert into Askavi.  The younger of the Warlord Princes seemed too young to rule.  What sort of ruler would trade the services of their Queens for a Warlord who committed atrocities against his own people, and then fled?  If they had Queens to barter, how could they not have one to rule the Territory? Why would an seemingly untried youth be allowed to lead, rather than an more experienced male if their Queens weren’t able?

That the Red Jeweled Warlord Prince also bore the Black Widow caste gave him pause.  Black Widows were known for their fierceness, and combined with the skills of a Warlord Prince, would make for a deadly opponent indeed. For now, he simply remained alert to the mood of the warriors around him, and hoped that things could be resolved with few deaths for Gravesend’s people.

Offline Fayrian Avilor

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #14 on: Sep 07, 18, 11:31:34 AM »
She watched and she listened.

Fay scowled at the name of the Sabbah Queen for surely that must be the creature who Bonded to Tavar and therefore not someone she wanted within a hundred miles of the borders of Askavi. For the first time since Gravesend returned, Fay actually felt admiration and respect swell within her for Illyrian Kriat. Shutting down the Pruulian boy was a good move that restored order and allowed the Warlord Prince of Askavi to get to the reason they were all here today.

The sentencing of Tavar Andros.

Fay waited. Protocol dictated that all formal situations where many had to speak or line up began with the lightest Warlord and ended with the Darkest Queen. As a Broken Queen, she stepped up after the last of the Black Widows who chose to come forward finishes listing their grievances. Moving beyond the edge of the crowd, Fayrian approached the two thrones and bowed, Protocol perfect.

“Lady Kriat and Prince Estaroth, my name is Fayrian Avilor, former Queen of Fell Valley, currently acting as liaison between Blood and Landen in Fell Valley and Living Lake. I come to petition the Rulers of Askavi for justice against Tavar Andros for crimes against my family. My husband and Bonded, Prince Eidolar Avilor, and son Lord Fennar Avilor served under Lord Andros in the squadron of soldiers he directly commanded in battle. They relied on him as their commander and leader and fought by his side for centuries as brothers in arms. Lord Andros was close enough to our family to spend most his leave with us each season. I need not tell you this, Prince Estaroth as you were oft found at my table as well, but for the benefit of Lady Kriat I can assure you that he was more than a friend. He was family.”

She shifted, her eyes finding Tavar’s as Fay continued. “On the day he deserted the war, the Warlord standing before you murdered my husband, son, and three other men in his squadron in cold blood, so that they could not come home to report his desertion. He admitted to this with his own lips not one week ago, upon our first meeting at Starfall.” Her voice rose as she went on, “additionally, Lord Andros admitted that his father, who left to find out what happened to him and return his body to his homeland had his life been lost, found him in Pruul on the day of the witchstorm. Instead of returning to Askavi to face justice that day he fought his sire, who never returned to us. While it was Witch and not Tavar’s blade that ended his father’s life, he still betrayed Valar Andros and everything he stood for with his cowardice that day. He also, in the two centuries since, never returned to Askavi to lay his father to rest where he would have wanted or even inform Askavi of how and when one of our greatest heroes fell. I was among those who sat with his mother as she poured out her grief for the loss of husband and son for I too had lost the same. It is a grief that only those who have felt it can comprehend. we were both consoled by the fact that our sons had been lost to the honor of battle but it turns out that those assumptions were wrong. It was cowardice that lost Lady Andros her only child and that same cowardice that deprived me of my eldest.”

Swirling on her toes, wings flaring, Fay called in a piece of paper and handed it to the two on the thrones. “Prince and Lady, I present to you additionally a letter from the Black Widow who pieced my Chalice back together. Within it states that the shock of my husband and son’s death was a key element in my mind breaking and my continued inability to handle the stressors of ruling. His actions robbed Askavi of six brave warriors, and one ruling Queen, and dishonors all those who fought by his side. I stand here before you to testify to these crimes and request that justice be served to him on this day. What that justice looks like, of course, rests on your shoulders, but I humbly request that it be swift and if it be not death, that it carry with it the lifetime of agony that he inflicted unto me and others by taking his Jewels, his Wings, or both.”

She bowed again, then straightened. “Thank you for hearing my words. I relinquish the floor to any others who might still have cause to speak against the Warlord.”

Through all of it she didn’t shed a single tear. Fay hated crying in public, but as Dalinar -who had spoken earlier about the loss of his brother and nephew- wrapped his arms around her, the Queen could not hold the tears back. Her sobs were quiet, but so was the room, and she was eternally grateful for the shadow of her Bonded’s wing hiding Her from Tavar. She didn’t want the bastard to see her cry, he didn’t deserve that kind of intimacy anymore.

Offline Kaderian Yrisia

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #15 on: Sep 07, 18, 11:53:01 AM »
She listened to the toll of Tavar's crimes with a fairly straight face.  She'd tried to explain all of this to his damned Queen.  She'd tried to put the weight of it on the child, but no.. someone like her wouldn't understand.  She didn't understand that 'what happened centuries ago' mattered to people who were thousands of years old.  She couldn't understand that Tavar killing his men meant that he had widowed wives, or taken children from mothers.  Sons and brothers and loved ones stripped away from their families not by an enemy's blade, but by the turned edge of a traitor.

She had tried to explain to Elenor Lirion what Tavar had done, and the Queen in her Bond had not been able to grasp the weight of it.

The petty part of her wished the Queen was here to hear the charges - to put herself in Kriat's position and wonder at how she could have been so naive as to think that this desertion could be forgiven.

The part of her that still loved her sister, and always would, could not wish the pain of watching a Bonded get injured or dead on a Queen.  There was a reason she was so grumpy most of the time.

Her eyes turned to Fayrian as the Broken Queen enumerated her pain.  The Queen was within her rights to demand death - that Kaderian would have to try to prevent it was a damned shame.  But she had given her word.

So she waited until there was a pause, and then she flicked her wings.  Her eyes settled on Drakkar, locking gazes with him.  "I gave my word to his Queen that I would do all I could to make sure he survived.  I stressed to her that he would have to pay a Price for his crimes, of which there are many as we have obviously heard.  Provided that death is not the Price you seek my Prince, Lady Kriat, then I will not stand in your way."

Her head finally turned, taking in the faces and attitudes around her.  "I have Healed many of those in this room.  I know what it is to you, to look at a former Brother and know that it could have been your neck he cut.  Believe me when I say that the anger you feel has been burning beneath my ribs since I found him."  She took a deep breath, closing her eyes.

"A Price must be paid.  But Askavi should not be willing to go to war over a Deserter, or even a traitor.  He isn't worth it.  We have lost enough brothers, husbands, and sons."  She turned her eyes back to Illyrian, finally settling her gaze on a woman she frankly despised.

Whether the Queen could ever fix that was yet to be seen.  "I apologize for stepping in, Lady Kriat, before.  I am too used to the tempers of males in the Camps, and not at all used to Courts.  As the leader of those who sought Lord Andros, also knows as Fin al-Sabbah, I ask that you weigh my request against the need for Justice.  I do not ask that he not be punished.  I left home to seek him with five others.  Three have returned with me, and two were lost to Jhinka in an effort to bring the deserter to you alive.  I ask for no reward for myself, other than that Lord Andros, Fin al-Sabbah, continue breathing after his Price is exacted.  If I must escort him back to Pruul myself, I will do so.  I gave my word in an effort to not put our Territories at war, and I... hope... that will be honored."

Her eyes slid to Fayrian, head inclining more deeply.  "Lady Avilor's suggestion in place of Death seems more harsh to me, anyways.  To live without either of those things seems appropriate."  And Fayrian would know, wouldn't she?  Without her Jewels, and yet still able to hear the scream of the land, it was a marvel she was sane at all. 

Offline Abaddon al-Sabbah

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #16 on: Sep 07, 18, 12:57:23 PM »
These people were illogical and annoying  Their leader most of all.  He was not surprised by the duration of Estaroth’s Rage, but by the fact that he did not allow his Queen to calm it with her Touch, so he could think clearly.  Abaddon spent his life tightly controlling his anger, reining it in, making sure that he engaged in appropriate outlets, and used that energy in a variety of ways.  Yet, here was an Eyrien Warlord Prince many centuries older than Abaddon, and he could barely restrain himself.  How could anyone Rule in such a way?  Vondar had implied that Living Lake had problems, and it was so rich in resources that Abaddon could not understand how they were having such problems, economically it could only be the result of all their wars.  The Black Widow Warlord Prince did not rule, but he had been raised to, and he knew that wars were costly, especially foreign wars, and the Eyrien conquest had flung a very wide net.


Abaddon’s eyes returned to Illyrian, and he recalled their more spiritual meeting, and smiled very slightly.  There was at least that much in the way of comfort, even if Drakkar was an angry sun that continued to scratch at the Young Spider’s skin, like the thorn bushes he had encountered in the mountains.  He could see why Fin inquired of the Queen’s desires, but it the end the result was what Abaddon expected.  His friend would be tried in the court of public opinion, such as it was.  The Blood did not have a lot of laws in the same way as the Landen did.  Protocol was not always at the top of the Landen psyche, where for the Blood, it was a matter of simple survival and pragmatism.  It could be mildly set aside, among friends and trusted associates, but without it they would have killed each other until the last Darkest Jewel survived.  Protocol allowed the wheels of civilization to turn.  What did that mean to a people whose civilization was entire uncivilized and inured to change?

Kaderian spoke then, and he immediately noticed the change in Illyrian’s demeanor.  Once again, Abaddon found himself falling back on his training.  He may hate the source of it, but he could not deny the truth of it.  It was formal Court, and depending on the ruler, what the Healer had said would be seen as an outburst, and possibly an assumption of status and rank she did not have.  Lucky intruded on his thoughts, *You will know when I am ready for violence, Lucky.  Now is not that time.  I am irritated because these people are irritating.  My life is that of an open nerve, and I can feel the tenor of many of the darker thoughts in this room.  Do not mistake annoyance for rage.*  Abaddon was largely always annoyed, with only a few exceptions.  His newfound half-brother could not know that because he assumed that one Warlord Prince was very like the other, and forgot what it meant that Abaddon was also a Black Widow.  Then Lucky continued to speak, and Abaddon could not even look at him, he had essentially gone to the horse trader who only wanted one strip of gold and offered him five as his first attempt at barter.

Once again, attentive, he was aware just before Illyrian’s one word command  bit into every mind in the room.  That, he thought, is what comes of centuries of ruling.  The Queen commanded everyone’s attention without even using an ounce of Craft.  The chastisement was so apparent in Illyrian’s voice, that even Abaddon lowered his chin a touch, so as not to risk eye contact with the Lady he was so closely observing.  He had expected something of a reprimand for Kaderian, though he knew the Healer’s heart had been in the right place, it was simply the wrong time to act as though she were still out in the wilds.  He inwardly winced at her rebuke of Lucky.  It had been a foolish set of things to say, but to be so roundly denied on what was possibly his first act as one of the leaders fo Pruul was going to leave a mark.  Abaddon only hoped that Lucky learned from it.  He hoped the younger man kept his cool, and did not respond with an attempt at wit and insult, this was not the place or time for that.  *Follow the advice you so recently offered to me.*

Drakkar spoke again, and once again, it was like his sensitivity was somehow tuned to every hard thought and emotion that rolled off of the Warlord Prince of Askavi.  He rolled his shoulders in a motion that would be familiar to Eyriens, but he had not wings to explain it, as he tried to keep the tension from settling into his muscles.  They would enumerate, from memory, the crimes of centuries ago.  He did not doubt that these Eyriens could hold a grudge, but he certainly doubted their ability to recollect anything correctly from so long ago, not when so very much had truly happened in their world.  It was ridiculous.  Some of them weren’t even accusations, they were just statements that somehow implied their expectations were unfulfilled so Fin or rather Tavar owered them something for their delicate and broken little dreams of marriage, of ongoing war, of friendship.  For such long lives, they were terribly short sighed.  For people with such a large history, they seemed to be petty and small minded.  Did they believe their war hero had suddenly become a coward that stabbed people in their cots?  The illogic and hypocrisy was stunning, and one seemed to think Tavar should be blamed for the Witchstorm, or at least closely associated with it.  It took all he could to not snort at the idea of a ‘document’ brought forth to support one’s own stance.  Abaddon could produce several at will if he so chose.

Kaderian spoke again.  She, at least, showed some growth.  She wanted to save Fin’s life, but was willing to send him home broken and flightless.  Small favors, he supposed.  Abaddon remained as he was, his hands clasped at his back.  He had a smile for Illyrian when it seemed he was noticed, and impassivity for everyone else, though that was a struggle with all of Drakkar’s anger fouling the room like the excrement of a herd of Jinan horses.



Offline Lucky al-Izar

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #17 on: Sep 07, 18, 07:30:05 PM »
*You’re right. Askavi…it is not how I imagined it.* He did not say anymore to Abaddon, but his brother would feel his disappointment resonate through their thread. They were so filled with hate here. Hate for landens. Hate for half-bloods. Hate for the short-lived. Lucky had not realized it before, but Pruul, despite it being a desert, was just so much more filled with life. They had their problems, but many of them were not made by the draining hatred the Mineborn felt from this place. Perhaps Fin had been right. Perhaps Askavi would never feel like the home Lucky wanted it to be.

In a way, he felt pity for them. Pity that they could not experience the culture he had come from. It was this pity that allowed the Warlord Prince to simply quirk his brow at the Queen’s outburst. “My apologies, Lady Kriat. I meant no disrespect.” He offered a slight bow, his back straight, in reconciliation. A show of his deference to her lead. “We shall revisit this during sentencing.”

And they would.

His body bristled to defend Pruul, but he restrained himself, remembering Omid’s advice. But they were not a weak territory. They had withstood the Eyriens even during the Great War. She had blatantly disrespected Pruul’s Queens with her words. Elenor and Vashti would not appear in an unknown land to make their offer, just as Lucky was sure the Queen’s own males would caution against such a move. How truelly stupid could she be to suggest such a thing? Instead, like any sensible Court, they have sent him as their proxy. If she couldn’t accept that, well, it would be her fault her people did not have two viable Queens once a year to feed their starving people.

No wonder Askavi was dying.

What really bothered the Warlord Prince was the woman’s assumption that Pruul’s Queens were so inept that they did not know the consequences of their decisions. They were not children. They were not slaves. Just because Pruul was a short lived territory did not mean it’s Queens were idiots. The fact that she treated Elenor’s and Vashti’s decisions like those made on a whim spoke of the arrogance Lucky had refused to believe underlined Askavi. One life was no more important than another in their culture, but clearly it was not the same in this territory. Clearly she considered a few weeks out of her life each year too large a Price to pay for the life of one of her male’s.

*I wouldn’t want her to be my fucking Queen. If she considers the lives of male’s so insignificant compared to herself.* He shot the words at Abaddon as he listened to the petitioners enumerate their complaints against his friend. He did not smile if anyone noticed him. He just stood there, his hands at his waist, waiting. He did not emanate anger, just the unbounding energy that signaled a Warlord Prince was always ready. It did not matter to Lucky what crimes Fin had committed. Nothing he could have done centuries ago would undo the service he had done to all of Pruul. To him. To his family.

Offline Tavar al-Sabbah

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #18 on: Sep 11, 18, 01:04:47 AM »
Tavar listened to testimonies of his people. He did not react to them, even though it bothered him to sit and listen to their judgements. Did they truly know their family members? They were fed a steady diet of hate and supremacy from their teachers in the War Camps without anyone to speak for the rest of the Terreille. Those boys became men who slaughtered without mercy or care for the people they intended to rule. Those men raped women and broke them of their jewels, calling it “the spoils of war” or something foolish like that. And yet their families stood in judgement of him, blaming him for desertion and dereliction of duty. For centuries, Tavar Andros wondered if he’d made the right decision to walk away from the war and exile himself for all the harm and death he’d caused.

Looking around today, he knew that he was right to leave the war, even if he was wrong for staying away.

Fayrian’s words cut the deepest, but Tavar also knew that she was angry and hurting over the loss of her husband and son for the second time. She would not, could not understand how much they’d changed in their time away. They’d fallen so far from the men that Tavar had known that he wondered if he ever knew them at all. But Fayrian was a Queen, enraged and heartbroken. There was nothing he could say or do that would ever take away her pain and suffering. She wanted his wings or jewels, or both, and he knew that she’d never settle for him to simply be exiled or broken. She wanted blood and Drakkar was likely to give it to her.

When everyone finally stopped speaking, Tavar looked to Drakkar, who stared at him with barely concealed anger.

Despite all that we’ve heard, it’s only just that we allow Lord Andros to speak for himself. Do you have anything you wish to say, Warlord?” Drakkar asked, leaning back on his throne.

Tavar stepped forward, looking from Drakkar to Illyrian, then to Celebrian and the rest of the Court. He looked around at the Blood Seekers, the members of the Circles and, finally, to Fayrian Avilor. His gaze lingered upon her the longest. Then he turned to Lucky and Abbadon.

Whatever happens, the two of you must survive. Assess the situation and understand that my life is a small, small price to pay for this to end.” he said.

He turned back to Drakkar.

I won’t bore you with my reasons for leaving. It’s clear to me that you all believe that the war we waged against Terreille was just and that we did not wrong. Even if any of you believed otherwise, you wouldn’t say so, for fear of being attacked. Warfare is what we know. It’s what we males train for from the moment we can walk until the end of our lives.” Tavar said.

The men that I killed weren’t slain in their beds. They weren’t attacked from behind. They wanted to rape a woman who couldn’t defend herself. Worse, they wanted me to go first. I refused. When I refused, they attacked me. If you want to blame anyone for their deaths, blame their teachers in the War Camps.

Knowing who my father was, they should have known I could defend myself to the death.
” Tavar said.

He heard the murmurs, then, the anger building in the room. If they expected him to get down and plead, they would be disappointed this day.

And as for Lady Avilor’s mention of my father...let me tell you this, Drakkar. I owe you the closure of knowing what happened to him in his final days. He arrived in Pruul decades after I had joined Clan Sabbah. He demanded that I come home so that we could plan a new offensive. But I was married to a wonderful woman, a Healer who showed me that life didn’t have to be about death and counting my scars. I refused him.” Tavar said.

He left. Then he returned two weeks later and threatened to butcher the entire Sabbah Clan unless I returned with him to Askavi. He promised to rape my wife to death and send her back to Mother Night, if it would help me get over my ‘wanderlust’, as he called it. He said that she would eventually arrive there anyway. He would just speed up the journey.” Tavar said, eyes hard as he looked directly into Drakkar’s own. He wanted these people to hear about their hero, to hear what kind of man they idolized. He remembered that day as though he’d just stepped off the sands.

We fought, he and I. And contrary to Lady Avilor’s belief...I lost that fight. Valar Andros drove his sword into my chest and left me to bleed out in the desert. He would have followed through on his threat if the Purge hadn’t come that same day. I expected to die. When I woke, my wife had lost her jewel of rank and she was well on the way to breaking her Birthright keeping me alive.” Tavar said, looking around the chamber.

He was dead, broken of his own jewels in the wave of destruction. I buried him and haven’t gone back there since. But he is dead, Drakkar. You deserved to know that.” Tavar said.

The Warlord Prince of Askavi just stared at Tavar, a rumbling growl building in his chest.

You can kill me if it will make you all feel better, Drakkar. You can break my jewels and take my wings if it’ll bring you peace. The only thing I ask is that you do better with your own son than my father did with me. I told him of you before we came here. I told him what he would find and he came anyway.” Tavar said, loosing a sigh.

I had a son, once, Tavar and he died before he took his first breath in this world. He was named for your father, whom you malign with ease. If you’d been here, you’d know that.” Drakkar said. His eyes narrowed and the Warlord for his presumption, for his temerity in bringing forth a painful topic like this in front of his people.

Tavar paused, clearly surprised at the revelation. He pressed on, though, before Drakkar gave himself over to his rage.

You have another son. Prince Abaddon was treated ill by the man who raised him and made into a weapon. Now that man is dead and it seems that fate has put you both heree. Hate me, condemn me, as much you wish.

Grant him a chance to know you.
” Tavar said.

With that, Tavar fell silent

I call you a liar, Tavar. Bold, but a liar all the same.

Let a Priestess confirm or refute my words. Blood calls to blood. If I lie, then you can do what you wanted to do when I walked in.

Drakkar was silent for several seconds.

Lady Eodan.” he said, rising from his seat and moving to stand just a few feet from the Black Widow Warlord Prince.

Let us find the truth of this, so that I can render my judgment."




Offline Celebrian Eodan

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #19 on: Sep 11, 18, 09:55:04 PM »
Tavar's words were difficult to hear. Perhaps more than most, the High Priestess of Askavi understood the minds of Eyrien Warriors when they were focused on their fierce need to conquer and claim. She had spent centuries of working in the War Camps to help ease the ruts of the males and protect the unsuspecting females who would fall prey to their vicious desires without some kind of barrier. She had been that line, the boundary that would not be crossed. She had encouraged them to take out their needs on her, using her carefully trained Craft to both smooth the edge of particularly violent ruts and to strengthen her own Chalice before then offering herself to a Healer's well trained hands.

She had never doubted that the destruction of their enemies had involved the rape and breaking of foreign women. Perhaps other Eyrien women lied to themselves about that, but Celebrian didn't have that liberty. She knew the darkness within men's souls.

But to hear it spoken about in this way caused her teeth to set firmly against each other and press until her jaw muscles ached and threatened to crack enamel if she continued. Tavar's words struck a painful chord within her. The Sapphire Priestess never doubted Eyrien superiority, at least not outside her most silent prayers to Mother Night. But if he spoke true, the son of her child's namesake, then this hearing just became significantly more complicated.

Golden eyes burned like molten metal when Drakkar spoke of their son. It was known that they had lost a child together. But that did not stop it from being a private thing, a personal thing, and not one she was comfortable having openly discussed in front of all those gathered. But it was Tavar's next words that tore the breath from her throat and left her feeling like she had fallen while flying, hitting the ground hard enough to collapse her lungs.

Another son?

Drakkar had... another son?

His shock came in the form of fury as he stormed forth, closing the distance between himself and the young Warlord Prince with a spider's nature. Had he not called for her to come forward and verify what had just been learned, she might have simply stood where she was and stared. This close together, the resemblance was striking. Even the snarl similar. But she had a duty to honor and a task to perform. She moved forward quickly, placing herself close to both Warlord Princes. Irritation rolled off them both, thick enough to choke on.

"Prince Estaroth," Celebrian said, her voice a familiar tone she had often used to soothe him when he was riled. She placed a hand on his shoulder and moved down his arm. She called in a small ritual knife and held it to the back of his skin. She looked at Abaddon. "I do not know the ways of Pruul. In Askavi, blood is needed from both of you. Are you willing?" When Abaddon responded that he was, Celebrian didn't hesitate, her blade immediately cutting across the back of Drakkar's forearm. She hadn't asked his permission. He had known what would be entailed when he called for her to verify the claim. He didn't even look at her, so focused on staring down the Pruulian male before him.

Blood spilled in thick drips onto the stone floor of the throne room. She reached for Abaddon's arm next, but waited for him to offer instead of just touching him as she had done with the Warlord Prince of Askavi. There was a stillness in the room as everyone waited to see what would happen. Abaddon shifted his gaze to the High Priestess, looking at her and only her while she drew the blade across his skin. When she looked up into his eyes, she was struck by the intensity of his gaze.

Sapphire Craft swelled as Celebrian softly chanted the words of the working. Blood flowed from both men's arms, pooling next to their feet. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, as if that section of stone was suddenly tilted, the blood began to flow rapidly toward the middle. It glowed softly with Celebrian's Craft and soon there was a pool of shimmering crimson forming before her. One pool, one blood.

She glanced to Drakkar. There was so much emotion in that one moment, the entirety of their history present with them as she silently confirmed what she was about to announce.

"Blood calls to blood. Tavar Andros speaks true. This man is the son of Drakkar Estaroth."

Offline Drakkar Estaroth

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #20 on: Sep 12, 18, 12:42:34 PM »
Blood calls to blood. Tavar Andros speaks true. This man is the son of Drakkar Estaroth.

The words filled the highest reaches of the chamber. Celebrian’s voice was always clear, always melodic, and powerful enough to shake men and women from their emotional stupor. In that moment, though, her proclamation hit the Warlord Prince of Askavi like mountain falling upon him from on high. Only now did his intense focus on Abbadon al-Sabbah (his son), break to look down at the floor. The pool of blood remained there at their collective feet. His gaze then turned to Celebrian, because Drakkar knew that this news would be hardest upon her. Hard in the same way that seeing Nova had been.

Valar died and she’d had a child with another man. A short-lived man had given her what Drakkar, for all his power and boundless rage, could not.

And now Abbadon al-Sabbah (his issue), stood there as a silent indictment of every moment he and Celebrian had ever spent together. A life that they could have had, that they should have had, was little more than the imaginings of a man that Mother Night hated beyond reason. She had taken away Xanian and Valar, his first children, because of the pain and suffering he’d spread across Tereille.

Then she gave him a son made of Black Widow and Warlord Prince, wingless and half-bred, and put him into the hands of the man he once called brother. And now that boy, thirty-one years later, stood before him in possession of visions and thoughts and secrets that Drakkar could not begin to understand or father. Abbadon (his spawn) held the Red as his Jewel of Rank, making Mother Night’s jest especially sharp and cruel. The same jewel that Drakkar once held with such fierce pride, the jewel that he’d known as well as he’d known his arms, legs, and wings now rested in the spider pendant on the boy’s chest.

Drakkar’s attention turned upon Tavar. The man at least had the good sense to avert his gaze, though Drakkar saw something in his expression that stoked his ire. Was it pity? Was it resignation? How long had he known that Abbadon (his get) was his? He was confident to bring him here now, but not before? What of this other man who’d acted as his father? He wanted to push the boy aside, leap atop Tavar, and beat every single syllable of truth from his skull until the man either died or held no more secrets from him.

The silence grew so loud that Drakkar looked around to see what had cowed everyone so deeply.

Then it dawned on him that he hadn’t spoken in over four minutes since Celebrian had confirmed Abbadon's parentage.

They stared at him. They waited for him to say something. His heart pounded in his ears. His blood grew hot beneath his skin, even as the chill reached deeper into his soul than ever before. Something else tried to fight its way to the surface, but Drakkar crushed it beneath the force of his will. He could not afford that now. Maybe not ever.  He needed to speak before someone else did.

He stepped back to regard Abbadon (his boy) and snorted.

And then Drakkar Estaroth, Warlord Prince of Askavi, veteran of a thousand battles, killer of thousands upon thousand of men, leader of the Blood Seekers, a man who had never run from a fight or a battle in his two-thousand years of life…turned and walked out of the throne room without another word. The hapless guardsman in his way narrowly avoided being trampled by the Warlord Prince as he left and headed down the hall to his office.

Vannevar, Drakkar's second-in-command, looked between Illyrian and Celebrian, clearly uncertain of what had just happened.

Tavar Andros watched him go in open-mouthed shock.



Offline Illyrian Kriat

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #21 on: Sep 14, 18, 12:05:56 AM »
The Queen of Askavi rose from her seat as Drakkar stormed from the room. She did not turn to watch him go. Whatever he needed in that moment, she was unable to provide. Even if the Touch of his Queen had soothed his rage and hurt both, she was in no position to place his needs over the entirety of her Court and the trial that was in progress. While he had been taken off guard and plunged into torrential storm of emotion, she held a responsibility to see this through even if he could not.

True to her intent, Illyrian had remained a silent observer of the proceedings once she had reclaimed control of the throne room. The voices that rose to tell their story painted a damning picture. No one seemed to doubt that Tavar had killed those he was accused of killing. But Tavar's defense cast a dark shadow over the brave warriors he was accused of cutting down in cold blood. It was one thing to look the other way while the Red Queen's forces had pillaged and raped their way across Terreille. But if what Tavar spoke was true, was this an actual case of desertion? Or merely one of self defense?

Was he truly a traitor at all?

And then came words that Illyrian was as shocked as Drakkar was to hear. She could feel it across their bond, the startling dismay soaked heavily in disbelief. The slightest flicker of hope flared to life before it was shoved down with the brute force of Drakkar Estaroth's considerable will. It stole her breath, as if the very act of his denial landed as firmly as a punch to her belly.

Illyrian watched as rapt as the rest of the gathered witnesses as the High Priestess served the Warlord Prince of Askavi in a capacity that was actually fit for public consumption. It was a nice change. The tension in the room was palpable. Illyrian watched the Warlord Princes, seeking some resemblance between them. Whether she found any was irrelevant. Lady Eodan captured the attention of the entire room with her announcement. Tavar spoke true. Abaddon was Drakkar's son.

And if Tavar spoke true of this, what else did he speak true of?

The silence was deafening. And yet Illyrian held. She waited. Everyone waited. She could feel the maelstrom within Drakkar tearing through him. Disbelief. Fear. Rage. Shock. The Summer Sky Queen did not move, did not each twitch her restless wings until Drakkar turned and strode away, leaving Tavar seemingly speechless in his wake.

"This Court acknowledges that Abaddon al-Sabbah is the son of Drakkar Estaroth." Abaddon was a man grown. It did not hold the weight that a claim of paternity would have earlier in his life, but the High Priestess had proven the relation and the Court of Askavi would officially acknowledge her verification.

Illyrian did not waste time on that new found knowledge. All that was offered was a glance filled with warmth and understanding to the Black Widow Warlord Prince who she knew better than anyone in the room likely realized. And then the moment was over and she was pressing forward with the matters at hand.

"In Prince Estaroth's absense, this trial shall continue under my guidance. Tavar Andros, you offer reasoning for your actions, but do not deny them. By your own admittance, you are guilty of slaying those you fought side by side with. While the cause of your actions does not change your guilt, it can change the sentence that is to be passed. Your explanation shall be weighed, as well any testimony offered on your behalf. If there is anyone present who wishes to speak for you, now is the time for them to do so."



Offline Renvar Yatskaya

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #22 on: Sep 14, 18, 02:22:05 PM »
It was, perhaps, a surprise to his Queen when he'd agreed so readily to venture into Gravesend as he rarely deemed anything worth that journey. However, he was no common Eyrien warrior and as such he had a high level of interest in the gathering's proceedings. Many of his strategies revolved around tactics, group think tendencies, and politics which meant a meeting like that day's was absolutely something he deemed important.

Renvar Yatskaya was a man of esteem in Askavi. Few men save for Drakkar himself ranked above the Summer Sky Jeweled Master of the Guard. In a room full of people awkwardly standing and posturing, he chose to take a seat near the doorway so he might best watch the political spectacle at play.

It was quite rude of him to recline while so many were on edge but he'd always been rough around the edges. Since he was sober for the event he was feeling particularly ambivalent towards the importance of other people. At least he'd brought with him the cane he used on particularly frigid, or damp, days to make it seem as if his relaxation was from an old war injury instead of lack of respect. In truth, he barely cared about the feelings of those assembled so long as no one got kill happy.

Savian Ranosi's war had burned out his ability to really give a fuck about most things not his daughter or his work.  He had no personal stake in the room's rage or defiant love of a man who, technically, was something of a war criminal and so he didn't bother acting like it. The currents of fury in the room from so many different Dark Jeweled Warlord Princes set him on edge more than he liked admitting to himself but he kept it buried under his somewhat flippant demeanor.

The scene that played out was interesting and filled with  enough new information that he was able to stop resenting Illyrian, her presence, her beauty, and her history as a coward long enough to really get  first-hand understanding about what had brought them all together. Celebrian looked divine as she worked the magic that proved the Black Widow Warlord Prince was of Prince Estaroth's seed,

He was grateful for Lukevar's Jewels in those tense, silent moments. He was downright thrilled Endevar had been free to meet this group with them. In Renvar's experience few things kept a room in check like the threat of the Black making them all sorry for any trespass. Prince's Ranosi and Nast were well behaved and threatening addition to their party.

Then, the Warlord Prince of Askavi stormed out of the room in a move that Renvar would later call Queenly in a tone that made clear it really wasn't a compliment. Illyrian filled the silence by making clear that paternity was acknowledged. Only barely did he conceal a smirk. She went on to describe how the following trial would proceed and her words left him thoughtful.

He wasn't much of a fan of anyone left in the room but he did not loathe Lord Andros. Prince Yatskaya found it hard to forgive warriors who never turned from Savian's command and found himself often understanding of men who'd deserted. There were more than a few under his command in Stormhold who'd abandoned Savian that he'd pardoned because their reasons were just.

Much to his own surprise, Renvar found himself standing when Illyrian asked if anyone would come to the deserters defense.

If my Lady would allow it I would speak on behalf of Lord Andros;” Renvar said where he stood, cane forgotten against his abandoned seat. Not wanting outsiders to know there was friction between the Territory Queen and a member of her triangle Renvar waited for Illyrian to decide if he'd be granted a voice in the matter.

Illyrian nodded her head indicating he was free to speak.

He rubbed a hand through his hair and eyed the floor. The topic was one he didn't like discussing, few truly tested soldiers did. War. Afterwards some men were raw nerves for the rest of their life unless they dulled it somehow. Renvar? He threw himself into work and liquor, each in dangerous measure.

Moderation was for the dead.

After a few seconds of drawing together his thoughts, his head rose. Prince Yatskaya's s gaze travelled over those assembled as he came to stand near, but not touching, his Queen. He cleared his throat and began to speak.

I am Renvar Yatskaya, Master of the Guard to Lady Kriat. In the Purge's aftermath I fled to Chaillot and didn't come back until my daughter made me. Before that I was a war criminal and a deserter.

He paused and let his words settle on the assembled before he went on. The Warlord Prince spoke in a cadence carefully measured and in the tone of a man for whom the subject matter was most uncomfortable. There were some that came back from the unimaginable like that – transfigured by grief, shame (some earned, most not), and nightmares into someone different and slightly apart from the rest.

It didn't make him love the fight less and it didn't take away from his skills. It just meant he didn't like to revisit his battles. Time would always bring war. That's why Eyriens were always preparing for it.

Sixty five years into the Bitch Queen's conquering spree  I abandoned my post and I spent the rest as one of the leaders of the resistance. Everything about  that war was a fucking mistake and every one of us who just did our duty instead of turning back on the hand giving the orders is guilty in our own right. Some more than others but none of our hands are clean.

Tempers flared and he didn't give one damn. His opinion wasn't an unpopular one, how could it be after Witch's judgement fell? Yet it was still a dangerous thing to say in a room full of men who'd stayed loyal too long. Since Gillian's disappearance, Renvar rarely exercised caution in his personal affairs – as displayed by his speaking on behalf of a man who'd murdered the men nearest a Queen.

Under the precedent being brought to us, many men, including men in some of the Territory's highest courts, would be some version of guilty that would lose us good soldiers just trying to move on from the unimaginable and honestly, given the current state of our land we really can't turn down two Queens coming to feed the land. People are starving we don't get to be proud about that.

There was something that dimmed inside Renvar when he was forced to talk around or about what he'd done to survive and to try, and fail, at saving Askavi.

That's really all I have to say.”  At that, the Master of the Territory Guard moved to the side so another might speak. There was a small, but noticeable limp as he moved himself to stand before a side table in the throne room. Talking about the war always made his leg hurt more.


Offline Abaddon al-Sabbah

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #23 on: Sep 15, 18, 12:02:31 AM »
             
Abaddon did not feel any pity for the loss of Lucky’s boyhood dreams. He understood what they were rooted in. Anyone would have built up something better in their mind’s eye for where they came from, if they were stuck in the Geiba’s Mines. His half-brother had been beaten by overseers, and worse, manipulated by the Spider’s Black Widows, and very likely more. These were not excuses for some of Lucky’s less savory behavior, but they were reasons. Abaddon knew that the younger man had to learn, and at the very least, there were lessons here to absorb. *No place is ever how we imagine. My entire life was built on a lie. Imagination is sometimes as dangerous as ignorance.* Askavi was exactly as Abaddon had seen. Lucky did not have the benefit of Abaddon’s sight, nor did he have the dreams of Drakkar Estaroth to reference as he did. The Black Widow Warlord Prince had flown at least a league in his Father’s wings. Even when the subject of his dreams had been faceless, Abaddon had known who it was, and after his snake-tooth came in, and everything seemed so much more sharp, so much more—everything, those dreams became a sort of comfort.

His Father was drenched in violence. It lived in every fiber of his being, it radiated from him in abrasive waves that put Abaddon’s teeth on edge. He had fought and ripped, torn and killed alongside the ephemeral dream presence of his Father, touching on the Eyrien’s memories or his dreams, and they had soothed him. How many faceless enemies had fallen beneath his blade and his Craft? How many lovers were lost? The violence was punctuated by tragedy, but it was clear that Drakkar had been fighting all of his life, a sword unsheathed for hundreds of years, and now no one knew how to put up their swords, least of all Drakkar. Now, he had Lucky’s anger to deal with, misplaced as it was. He felt it roll off of his brother, combining with Drakkar’s, and now he ground his teeth together so hard, he was sure Fin could hear it. Abaddon tilted his head slightly at Lucky’s final message on the Queen’s call to order, and he gave the slightest shake of his head. *I do not think you listened, Lucky. You heard only insult. If you were a thousand year old Priestess, her stance would be the same. Here, in this place, a true Queen rules. Here, no man has such control over the will and use of a woman’s body. Without meaning to, it was you that offered insult. It was you that ran headlong into a culture you know only little about. Cool your ire, or embarrass Pruul.*

Abaddon’s thoughts fell silent as he listened to Fin defend himself for being the honorable warrior every Eyrien claimed to be. He listened, and he felt. He felt the intention and emotion behind the words, felt the story of Fin doing battle with a Father the he knew, he felt the pain of that threat on his family, and on his new life. A life that ultimately included Abaddon. When Fin told Drakkar that Abaddon was his son, he did not quite flinch. His lips did twitch just a bit, and his grip on his own forearms, as he clasped them behind his back, tightened. He had expected the revelation, just not in this particular context. He almost chided himself; imagination indeed. Abaddon had not even realized he had built up any expectations around this moment, but he clearly had. A brother, another brother, but any joy that might have caused was swiftly dashed. The anger magnified from Drakkar, blossomed like someone had blasted sand at him in an attempt to scour the first layer of his skin from his body. It curled his lip. Drakkar was so eager to kill Fin, so eager to deny an abandoned son, that he called for the Priestess immediately. Abaddon didn’t know whether he should feel elated that it would be proven, or angry that it was so easily dismissed. It would be easier to kill everyone. His eyes, golden and growing harder by the second, cut to Illyrian, and he stopped thinking about the Webs he could cast in this room (the Webs he had), and the destruction he could wreak—violence would not rid him of his feelings, only hide them.

Drakkar approached him, and the Black Widow Warlord Prince absorbed his rage like a sponge. He did his best, for a moment, not to reflect it back, but he knew that he failed. He could not restrain it, not when the man stood so close, not when their anger became like a living thing between them. Abaddon felt his snake-tooth twitch, and his eyes almost rolled up into his head with the need to DO something, to act on all the fucking emotions that swept through him like the Purge had swept through everything. It scoured his nerves, left him raw and sensitive, and wanting to tear into something, anything, but he knew that was a bad idea. He knew that would gain him nothing. It would be so simple, so easy. Had they been more concerned, had they considered what it was they were letting into their Court, they would have kept him out. The Priestess, beautiful, patient, even gentle asked for his blood. Abaddon growled the word, ”Yes.” And there was a world of feeling in that one syllable, along with a world of danger. The test was done. The truth revealed. He felt no triumph. He met the eyes of his Father--his Father--and waited. He did not look away first, but he did not break the silence. He stood there, hands by his side now, his shoulders back, only increasing the resemblance in profile between himself and his sire.

And then Drakkar left.

Abaddon’s golden eyes went flat and hard. Ice formed beneath his feet and all around him, and his rage swelled such that it pushed against everyone standing near to him. There was a mixture of fear and eagerness around him, and he swallowed those feelings whole. Let them be afraid. They should be afraid. He growled low and steady at the back of his throat, his fists clenched by his side, and he meant to put every ounce of that anger into his words, and he stalked the stones in front of Fin, moving back and forth in front of the raised dais like a tiger caught in a pit trap.

”The Court acknowledges that Abaddon al-Sabbah is the son of Drakkar Estaroth.”  And with the words came Illyrian’s Touch, and Abaddon stopped his pacing and turned to the Queen.  His eyes closed for a moment, and he tried to accept every drop of comfort, every ounce of that feeling of being home, every tiny scrap of peace he could find in it...and he stepped back from the precipice, his muscles relaxing only a touch, even as his mind continued to boil.  The Warlord Prince called Renvar Yatskaya unexpectedly took the floor.  Abaddon did not expect to find an ally in anyone but perhaps the Queen.  It gave him additional time to focus his mind along with his anger, to take those short moments to fully accept the Gift that Illyrian had offered him.  Renvar spoke hard truths that only supported Abaddon’s line of thinking, and no one could ever accuse them of having conferred, though he doubted that would matter.  For many, he was an abomination with strange powers; perhaps he twisted Renvar to his purposes.  He felt the tempers rise, and while none of them compared to Drakkar’s incandescent intensity, all of them contributed to blunting the balm the Illyrian’s touch should have been.  He offered the Master of the Guard a nod of respect, and perhaps even gratitude, before he rolled his shoulders in an effort to remove tension from his muscles.  An effort that failed.

Abaddon’s enunciation was sharp, clipped, as if he were biting every word off at the end. ”This is not the first time Drakkar Estaroth has turned his back on me.” He faced the Queen now. ”I will speak in defense of Fin al-Sabbah, the man you call Tavar Andros.” The statement was clear and just as clipped in tone. ”History cannot be rewritten, as Prince Yatskaya has made clear. The war turned many of your warriors into monsters. Your rapacious conquest is well known throughout several Territories, the remnants of your half-bloods are proof enough of that. Did Drakkar Estaroth rape my Mother? Did he fall upon her in Rut? Was he perhaps seduced? What am I owed for whatever truth is correct?” His shirt vanished, yet the gorget remained, revealing the scars on his back, ”What am I owed for my wings being shorn before I was even aware I had them? And make no mistake, unlike the Purge, which Fin is not responsible for. Drakkar Estaroth is responsible for this.” He almost spat the last phrase, ”History cannot be changed, neither can truth.” His eyes turned to the Priestess, the first time that any gentility reappeared in his gaze.  ”She has seen what men can do. I read it in her reaction to Fin al-Sabbah’s words. She knows the truth of it, even if she will not speak it here. Even your Queen called a woman’s body sacred, unavailable to the whims of good or vile men.”

He lifted his eyes to Illyrian, his back to the rest of Court, the scars atop the subtle muscle mounds upon his back were obvious. The wounds were clean, expertly done, taken from him by surgery, not battle. Abaddon’s hard gaze softened slightly, and he took a slow, deep breath, the rage abating only a little. ”Fin al-Sabbah, Tavar Andros, had a hand in raising me, and while he did teach me how to fight Eyriens, without ever saying as much, he never taught me to hate them. He could have planted that seed easily. He could have brought me here and used me as a weapon to secure his freedom, he had the means to manipulate me, and I have the power. He could have asked me to make Lady Kaderian and her men disappear, and I would have done so.” He growled, ”Easily.” He regained his focus, ”He could have taught me to hate Drakkar Estaroth. He didn’t.” Abaddon gazed into Illyrian’s eyes focusing on her in an effort to make the rage recede, ”You have the means to check for lies. We stand in a bastion of Black Widow knowledge and wisdom, and even in my relative youth, I can think of half a dozen ways to verify the end of Tavar Andros’ ‘military’ career.” The anger continued to abate, ”For attempting to stop the unlawful assault of a woman, he was forced to fight his peers, his brothers in arms. I do not think that was easy. It is easier to look at him and call him a traitor, when every heart here knows the truth. Such long lives. Such short vision.”

Abaddon kept his eyes on the Queen, ”What is he guilty of?  Did he swear to be a villain or a soldier?  Do Eyriens still understand what honor means?  Where is the honor in the abuse of the conquered, where is the honor in --”  HIs eyes flicked to the Priestess, and he chose to gentle his words.  ”--the assault of a defenseless and beaten woman?  Am I to infer that anything goes if the Eyriens of Askavi are expanding their borders?  That honor in battle only has meaning here, in this place of history?  That Blood Law is meaningless because it is inconvenient to your collective memory?”  He growled, ”What choice was Tavar left with?  Kill more of his brothers?  Wounding his heart every time, or leave the land of his birth, because it was no longer the land he remembered.  You heard the threats of his own Father; where is the honor in that?  No one was murdered.  They were engaged in battle, and they died, because fate found them wanting.  Is it desertion when the war had already lost its way?  It was The Purge that stopped the Conquest, not Tavar Andros.”

He spread his arms wide, tense muscles rippling across his chest and abdomen, in his arms coiling and uncoiling.  A growl laced the same harshly bitten words, ”It is all easily proven.  Every. Word.”  His lip curled, ”If Fin al-Sabbah, Tavar Andros, and his party must accept these ‘stories’ as gospel, then it stands to reason that Lord Andros’ words must be taken at face value as well.  Either everything is verifiable and true—“  He was so angry and so wounded, but he was also a Black Widow and all of his words were fangs.  ”—or none of them are.”  Abaddon’s hands were once again clasped at his back, and the ice beneath his feet had faded away to steam, but a cool breeze continued to emanate from him.  ”This is not about justice.  It is about punishment.  Punishment because the war did not go as Drakkar Estaroth wished.  Punishment because it did not go as your Red and Bloody Queen wished.  Punishment because no one here can admit the truth to themselves; that there is no crime here—that this man, this man who made a thinking warrior of me, is no different from Prince Yatskaya and dozens of others that turned their back on folly.”

Abaddon growled, and turned around to address the assembly, ”You are petty.  You cannot fill your bellies with your own harvest, but you will feast on bile and bitterness and the lies you tell yourselves.  Gravesend is a sanctuary for your culture, a wellspring of what is possible and what could have been, an untapped resource that you refuse to avail yourselves of.  All because you look back over your wings and see greatness in a red and bloody lie.”



Offline Lucky al-Izar

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #24 on: Sep 15, 18, 11:45:52 AM »
Lucky saw Abaddon’s slight motion and he did not react. His words did, paradoxically, cool the Warlord Prince’s temper. So that was how they saw it? As if Lucky had forced the gift from El and Vashti? How strange for someone that did not know him to assume. It had been Elenor’s idea, as was her right as Fin’s Queen. *No, Abaddon, you are wrong in this. You do not hear me.* If they were to be brothers, how could he be so limited. *The Queens’ in Pruul are true Queens, more than this woman will ever be. It is not I that has control over Elenor and Vashti’s bodies. It is they that offer them of their own free will. She is just too blinded to see that and her people will suffer for it.* It would be like if Ghanima rejected an offer of Healers from the Tabur, because the Voice who came to barter was male. Perhaps they did not know how to trade in Askavi?

From what Lucky had seen of Askavi, it needed all the help it could get though, so they should learn. If their Queen wished to reject it so quickly though, he would not force it upon them. After all, he wanted Vashti to come to Askavi about as much as her own males did. *Lucky, let’s leave the matter of Queens off the table for now. That’s best discussed privately. Eyriens are proud. You are both ruler and diplomat. Remember that.* The Warlord Prince quieted his temper, using the counting trick Kesare had taught him. Fin was right. Even if Lady Kriat’s insult to his territory and their Queens stung, he had a choice between rising to it or not. For Pruul, that needed the water Askavi could provide, he relented.

So he listened to Renvar Yatskaya speak out first. The Queen’s own Master of the Guard. How interesting. It caused Askavi to rise in his estimation. So far only Kaderian, Vondar, and this man seemed to have the same rational sense that Pruul had given Lucky.

As Abaddon stepped forward, Lucky, for the first time since their fight against the Jhinka, felt a flare of companionship and loyalty to the Black Widow Warlord Prince that was his brother. He spoke of how Fin had helped him personally. About how the male had grown under his guidance. It made Lucky remember that Abaddon and himself shared more than just blood and a Queen. They shared a friend and a mentor. Perhaps the closest thing Lucky might have to a father. Although Abaddon perhaps went too far at the end, condemning all of Askavi, he was not riding the thin line between diplomat and friend that Lucky was. It seemed though, in Lucky’s estimation, that Askavi had been condemned enough. It was time for the past to be pushed away and the future to rule, as it was in Pruul.

They had to get past this first though. So he stepped forward.

He addressed his offer first. “I see our Queens’ offer upsets you, Lady Kriat, so I will reframe from discussing it further in public. I hope we might just be at a cultural misunderstanding.” In Pruul, it made no difference if the messenger of a contract was male or female—the contract was still the same. Perhaps he would speak with the Warlord Prince of Askavi about this instead. Leave the female emotion out of the room.

Then, he turned his eyes to those watching, reading his defense of his friend.

“Fin al-Sabbah is an honorable man.” He let the words sit there, like a heavy rock, for a breath.

“I was born in the Salt Mines of Pruul, held there against my will by Prince Abaddon and Lord Fin’s own people. Many bear the scars of salt and blood. A Black Jeweled Priestess Queen. Children. Every current ruler of Pruul.” Saiph had pulled them out of the darkness and when she had rendered her judgement, the Sabbah could have rioted. They could have torn down the child-Queen’s court. “What did Fin al-Sabbah do when he discovered what his own people were doing? He helped slaughter every last person responsible. He is not blindly bound by his loyalty to friends or family, but to his territory.” As much as that pissed Lucky off sometimes, he was beginning to admire it as he spoke. “When Pruul fell below its worth, when they murdered and raped and enslaved, Fin al-Sabbah did not stand by. He acted, even if against his own family, and he helped right the course of our territory. If the same is true about his conduct in Asakvi, than he is more the right for it. I do not know what oath Tavar Andros took to the Blood Seekers, but I cannot believe it was to bring Askavi lower than she is worth. When faced with that choice, breaking an oath seems far better than bringing shame to your territory. So Tavar acted and he helped right the course of Askavi, regardless of the cost to himself."

Perhaps those here would not see it that way, but Lucky thought that Askavi would want their deadly skill in battle to be remembered, not their rape.

“That appears to be a theme with him. The cost to himself. In Pruul, when his own leader was about to kill my family and use my Queen’s body in much the way Lady Kriat fears, it was Fin al-Sabbah that attempted to stop him. He nearly died that day, but he thought his life was worth the cost.” Who knows what would have happened if Fin had not distracted Adramelech? “I see now that he has made that choice again and again. First in Askavi, where he thought upholding the honor of Eyrien warriors was worth the cost. So that now, almost two centuries later, when I look at other Eyriens, when I look at your warriors, I see men that I aspire to be like. Men I want to learn from. Men I hope to count as friends. Without someone like Fin al-Sabbah, someone that ensured I only saw the best in an Eyrien, how many other people like me look at Eyrien warriors and see the opposite, even centuries removed from the War?”

Someone like Kesare. Who was raped and brutalized by Eyrien warriors. If he had not had Fin as an example, maybe Lucky would have thought that is all his own people were.

“Finally, when myself and my family were put in charge of Pruul, he objected.” Lucky did not add that the vote had made the young Warlord Prince want to strangle the Warlord. Instead, he thought and listened, like Omid had said. “Not to take power for himself, but because he did not want such a burden of leadership to fall to us. He did not want us to face the same tough decisions that he had. The same ones that had taken his family and his home from him for centuries.” Looking at it now, in that light, Lucky could understand why Fin had voted the way he had. He understood, but it still pricked at him a little.

“If, despite all of this, Fin al-Sabbah is a traitor. If his life is forfeit, than I am sad. Sad because Pruul will not only lose a father, an uncle, a guiding force in it’s shaping, but Askavi will too.”

In Lucky’s estimation Fin al-Sabbah should not be on trial for treason, he should be hailed as a hero.

Offline Cassian Ankhara

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #25 on: Sep 16, 18, 03:27:30 PM »
Cassian watched from her corner of the room, her arms folded over her chest and her wings loosely hanging behind her, as first Kaderian and then one of the Pruulians known as Lucky stepped forward to address Queen Kriat preemptively. Lucky. What sort of Eyrien name was that? Did they name Eyriens differently in Pruul? That seemed...unlikely and odd. Surely Eyriens in Pruul knew enough about their heritage to remember the naming conventions.

It didn’t matter anyway. What mattered was the whip crack of Illyrian’s voice telling the Pruul contingent to hold their tongues. Even Cassian flinched a little at the anger in a Queen’s tone. But when she chastised the young Eyrien male who had prematurely offered his Queen’s Gift, Cassian almost smirked. Men always seemed to offer up things that weren’t theirs to offer or sacrifice.

Drakkar called forward those who wished to lay Tavar’s crimes at the public’s feet for judgement and Cassian listened without interest as voice after voice denounced him as a traitor and a coward.

Cassian actually didn’t blame him for leaving. Askavi had seen so much war that she often wondered if she would be better off doing the same. As she thought of her defection, she shifted uncomfortably and when someone shot her a quizzical glance, she muttered, “Sorry. Feet hurt.”

The Broken Queen Fayrian seemed to have the most effect on the proceedings, stating her case without shedding a tear, and afterward sobbing into the embrace of a male Cassian assumed was hers. That made her shift uncomfortably again. A Queen’s testimony lent great weight to this trial. But Cassian did not agree with the suggestion that Tavar be shorn of his wings. That was...cruel to do an Eyrien and since Cassian would likely be called to seal the wounds left from that torture, she quietly thought a little less of the Queen that had suggested it. Suggestions like that were why Askavi still fought so ruthlessly, the blinded striking out to blind another because of hatred and revenge.

She shouldn’t really be so surprised.

Finally, it was Tavar’s turn to speak and Cassian was now interested to see how he would defend himself from these accusations. He told a tale much like every Eyrien she knew -- blood, death, violence, destruction -- even at the cost of family and friends but his tale turned down a path she hadn’t expected.

Had he just insinuated that the wingless Red Jeweled man from Pruul, the one bearing the scent of a Warlord Prince and more, was Drakkar’s son?

Lady Eodan, the High Priestess, stepped forward to claim blood from both men. Every breath in the Court was held during that spell until finally, she stepped back and declared, "Blood calls to blood. Tavar Andros speaks true. This man is the son of Drakkar Estaroth."

Cassian’s eyebrows raised. And then went higher when Drakkar Estaroth left the room without another word.

Should she go after him?

No, they were not friends, no matter how hard he tried to befriend her. She had no connection to him other than a Healer serving in the Court and she planned on keeping it that way. Besides, his temper was most likely volatile and Cassian had no love for being on the receiving end of that. Ever.

So, she remained and watched as Illyrian took command once again. Now it was the other side’s turn to speak in favor of their friend. But no one had been to Pruul to see Tavar redeem himself with these actions. They had only the words of strangers.

Still, even those strangers, particularly the one called Abaddon, son estranged of Drakkar, caught Cassian’s ear. She found herself agreeing with them. What good would killing Tavar do for Askavi? Nothing. Those who sought blood to compensate for those they had lost were doomed to never been satisfied. These newcomers sought peace, a goal Cassian could get behind.

As her observant gaze shifted back to their Queen, she wondered if Illyrian felt the same.

Offline Illyrian Kriat

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #26 on: Sep 25, 18, 06:38:21 PM »
Renvar Yatskaya spoke and the assembled listened. The Master of the Guard shared words that Illyrian had never heard her surly Warlord Prince speak. A single, slender strand ran between Queen and Warlord Prince, crying out to be nourished. And along this thin connection, Illyrian could feel rare waves of vulnerability. So unusual was it to feel such a thing from him, he captured her attention more thoroughly than he likely knew or thought.

She understood then, perhaps for the first time, what it had been like for him to make the choice he had to leave both Askavi and his men, and what it had cost him to return. And with that knowledge, came the first true inkling of how much he had needed her then. All these years they had yelled the same words at each other, his rage slamming against her defense of her decision to choose life over the Red Queen's war.

But he had needed her. He had needed his Queen while he carried out orders that poisoned his soul and soured his heart. He did what he did because he had no choice.  But if he had met her sooner, had known her, had drawn strength from a bond not yet filled to the rim with vitriol...

Well. She could not live in the could have beens. But she could apologize, if he would hear her out. Later. Illyrian did not approach him, did not offer him her Touch as she did to the Red Jeweled weaver. He did not want her presence that close and to offer in front of all assembled could easily be seen as an attempt to further strip him of his honor. Instead she offered only her words. "Thank you, Prince Yatskaya," she said when he finished, her tone gentler than she had ever used with him.

She listened to the impassioned Black Widow Warlord Prince. His words moved her for both their meaning and who spoke. Now, he was more than a dream walker who came to find her in her dreams and more than a male desperately seeking the means to calm and cool his temper. He was Drakkar's son, with all the fire of his father. And then the other Warlord Prince spoke, and she listened, learning further of Tavar's time in Pruul. "Thank you both. You offer us an opportunity to learn what we wouldn't be able to otherwise. And yes, Prince al-Izar, we will continue that conversation in private."

Illyrian withdrew then, returning to her throne. Her eyes moved over all of those gathered. She weighed what she had heard, and what her heart felt was right, while also holding within the painful irony that she should be the one to pass sentence on any who fled the Red Queen.

"Tavar Andros, also know as Fin al-Sabbah." She waited for him to begin to come forward before she continued. "Are you prepared to hear your sentence?" When he reached the foot of the dais, he knelt before her. She looked down over the man whose life she held in her hands.

"Your life will be spared, as will your wings." The room erupted in sound, but she was focused entirely on Tavar. She did not look to Kaderian for whatever relief she might feel or to Fayrian for whatever rage she might harbor. The Queen of Askavi waited for silence to once again settle over the room before she continued.

"Whatever your reasons, Lord Andros, your actions kept men from going home to their families. At any time  since the Purge and the end of the Great War, you could have returned. And yet, you didn't. You denied information and justice both to this Court and Askavi for nearly two centuries. "

"Prince Yatskaya, you are right." Her head turned and the heavy weight of her full attention rested now on her Master of the Guard. "Terrible circumstances sometimes call for impossible choices." Wasn't that what they always argued about, in the end? The impossible choices that had faced them all, and her making the wrong one. Would he think she made the wrong choice here today?

"But you did return," she continued, "and when you did, you swore yourself to the service of both Aksavi and this Court. Tavar Andros shall do the same."

Illyrian's eyes once again sought Tavar's. "I have heard testimony that you have been a father, uncle, and guiding force for Pruul. It is time you were such for Askavi as well. The Red Queen is gone and Askavi has great need. You shall swear your service and loyalty to Askavi and remain here, in your homeland. That is the Price of your desertion. And the Price for the lives you claimed, as even you do not deny doing do, is your Sapphire."



Offline Cassian Ankhara

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #27 on: Oct 02, 18, 02:49:06 PM »
Cassian could not stop the gasp that passed her lips.

In the sudden hush of the room, as Illyrian delivered her sentencing, that gasp sounded thundering. Cassian’s hand flew to her mouth to cover it, far too late to do any good. If there were other reactions to their Queens’ decree, Cassian didn’t note them.

Tavar could keep his life. And his wings. But his Offering, that dark Sapphire that had protected some and betrayed others, was forfeit. Being a person who feared shattering her own Jewels, she could not imagine the great loss of wearing the depths Tavar did.

Now, Cassian suppressed a violent shudder.

Would have it been better any other way though? Ending a life, that was retribution. There was no learning, no atonement, no remorse to be gained from that sort of path. Taking his wings or his Jewels -- either of those were a far more fitting judgement, even if they put Cassian at unease because it wasn’t the sort of pain she would have wanted for anyone. I’m a Healer to my core, she thought bitterly, wrapped up in her promise to do no harm.

Who would do the harm though? On whose shoulders would this burden of breaking fall? Looking around the room, she could only name a few. But it didn’t matter. It wouldn’t be her doing the breaking but she would be doing the care afterward. That thought helped her compose herself -- going over what she would need to care for a Broken patient. Her hand came away from her mouth, wrapped it around her other one, and began wringing it softly, methodically, as she mentally made her list.

**At least,** she said quietly, with great remorse, to the other Healer in the room, Kaderian, **it isn’t death.** At least Kaderian wouldn’t have to go back to Tavar’s Queen and explain how she had failed. At least...at least there was that. Tavar would have a difficult life from here on out, more than he had before, but at least it would be a life.

Cassian finished composing her list of things to gather and then began wondering what sort of quality of life that would be after today.

Offline Kaderian Yrisia

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #28 on: Oct 03, 18, 10:11:12 AM »
The sentence passed Illyrian's lips, and for the first time in years Kaderian felt something like respect for a Queen in Askavi.  Not an easy thing to admit.  She still didn't like the woman.  She still hated that the female had a claim on Drakkar's soul, and she still despised the weakness that this place seemed to inspire in others, but... This was a good compromise.  This Sentence gave some sense of justice to those that had lost, and still allowed Tavar to live.

He still got to keep his wings.  Was it better, or worse, to lose only his Descent?  Would he have preferred to be Wingless, or was the Jewel something he would prefer to lose?  How Eyrien was he still? 

Did she even want to know?

**At least it isn't death.**
**There is that.**  Her eyes moved towards Cassian, just for a brief moment.  **Though he may prefer death, considering this removes him from his Queen.** 

Would anyone else see the implicit cruelty in that?  Would anyone not Bonded care?  She wasn't sure she cared, come to think of it - her sister was dead, and Tavar Andros had told her that her sister had deserved it simply for being Eyrien. 

He had said her little brother's death was warranted.  Let him experience, in his own way, what that separation was.  She wouldn't actually wish his Queen's death on him - but let him taste the pain that she lived and breathed every day, and let him whisper those words again.

She almost dared him to do it. Almost.  Instead, she simply took a breath.  **I will help you care for him, Lady Ankhara.  It will not be the first time I have tended such injuries.**

Did some part of her wince?  Yes.  She was, in fact, a Healer.  But that part of her she could set aside.  She had more practice doing so.   A Healer for the Blood Seekers had to be made of sterner things, and able to set aside their more gentle instincts.

He had injured her Warlord Prince.  He had smeared her sister and brother's memory.  He had killed his men and deserted his Camp, broken his mother's heart, and avoided sending word for centuries.  He had betrayed her Warlord Prince by never once sending word, never once allowing Drakkar closure, never once... it didn't matter.

Where the furious Broken Queen would likely never let her grief and anger subside, Kaderian Yrisia would. 

Offline Tavar al-Sabbah

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #29 on: Oct 07, 18, 06:15:18 PM »
Shock and anger radiated from Tavar in the wake of Drakkar’s abrupt departure. Drakkar waited centuries to drag him before their people, list out his crimes, and judge him...only to walk away? Genuine anger made him take a step forward. He nearly demanded that Drakkar come back and face him. Tavar stopped himself. Many people in this room hated him. Others were indifferent. But Tavar had made promises to others, promises endangered by ego and personal grievance.

He’d promised Elenor, Shadya, Amira, and Judiah each that he would return to them soon.

He promised Omid that Lucky would return home to his siblings, including the Red Prince whom Tavar knew cared deeply for his brother, despite the rift between them. And he’d vowed to see Abaddon to manhood so that he could choose his own life and his own path, free of the Old Spider’s influence and treachery. The longer Tavar stood there, however, watching as Lady Kriat took control of the hearing and called for people to speak on his behalf, the more he realized that he’d not thought through his return to Askavi as much as he should have.

He would break his word today.

When Prince Yatskaya stood up to speak on his behalf, Tavar was surprised and somewhat honored. The Master of the Guard’s explanation for his own absence and return to Askavi was surprising, but one that the Sapphire Warlord understood completely. Given that his daughter was missing, even today, Tavar wouldn’t have blamed the man for leaving again. The protection of one’s family, however, could drive a person to endure pain and horrors that would shatter others into dust.

Tavar bowed respectfully to the Master of the Guard when he ended his speaking. No matter what happened from this point forward, he had to respect Renvar Yatskaya for speaking his mind in a room that was clearly hostile to that point of view.

Abaddon spoke next. His initial condemnation of Drakkar’s abandonment of him was a barb that he would not have advised, but the Black Widow Warlord Prince deserved the opportunity to speak his truth and say his part to the assembled. Word would get back to Drakkar and, for once, Tavar hoped he heard it. He’d always remained puzzled about why Drakkar would leave his son behind. Drakkar did not abandon his duties and family had always been most important to him.

It felt strange, then, to listen as Abaddon recounted their personal history. Tavar had never seen it as raising Abaddon, but as helping to shape a man who would always deal with being two men in a single form. The Black Widow, whose temper and insight sometimes worried even the man himself and the Warlord Prince who was a born weapon and possessed of a rage that could level Territories if he chose. Tavar couldn’t take away those burdens or undo the horrors that the Old Spider did to his mind, so he gave Abaddon the tools to know himself. He was proud of the man Abaddon became, though Tavar knew that he was a flawed teacher.

He was a flawed teacher, but Abaddon had turned out well, in his opinion.

Lucky offered his statements and, if Tavar felt uneasy listening to Abaddon’s account, then it showed in the slow flexing of his wings that Lucky’s account was harder still to absorb. He’d never considered his actions as something worth discussion; they were simply the right thing to do for those who’d been wronged. He’d guided Abaddon in his youth, but Lucky’s suffering at the hands of Adramelech and the Geiba was a crime that Tavar had been unaware of until the details were spilled out before Pruul. He should have known, before then, what was happening. He should have removed Abaddon from the Old Spider’s care and then torn control of the Sabbah from Adramelech’s cold, dead fingers. Maybe if he’d done that, the True Sabbah wouldn’t exist now. Maybe Elenor’s rule wouldn’t be fraught with peril.

The Mineborn and Clan Sabbah deserved more from him, and he’d not given it because he feared being labeled a tyrant. But his inaction had given the Sabbah the same.

He was glad that Lucky finally understood his reasons for voting against the Council. The burdens of leadership were not easily set aside. He’d wanted Lucky and his siblings to lead full lives and see the world. So many people never left their homes, instead remaining inside the bubble of their personal experiences. Challenge and growth existed where one wasn’t comfortable, where one did not have all the answers.

He was proud to see that Lucky understood that.

He appreciated the words of all who spoke for him. He would find a way to tell them that, if it was the last thing he did. When Lucky fell silent, though, Lady Kriat spoke once more.

"Tavar Andros, also know as Fin al-Sabbah. Are you prepared to hear your sentence?"

Tavar straightened his spine and walked forward to stand before the Queen. He would not show fear. He would not beg for his life. They would say, from start to finish, that he held his head high and that he showed respect to Askavi’s Queen. He walked forward and stood before Illyrian and then knelt before her throne to hear her words. His heart raced. His throat was dry. Had he been called on to speak, he would have embarrassed himself.

Your life will be spared, as will your wings.

His heart tried to escape his body through his throat. He’d feared maiming, feared re-learning to live without his wings. Flying was his greatest joy, the one way that he could be free from the world when it tried to hold him down. He would live to fly again. He was so focused on that, that he missed the rest of what the Queen of Askavi had said…

Until he heard his Price.

"I have heard testimony that you have been a father, uncle, and guiding force for Pruul. It is time you were such for Askavi as well...you shall swear your service and loyalty to Askavi and remain here, in your homeland. You shall swear your service and loyalty to Askavi and remain here, in your homeland. That is the Price of your desertion.

The words nearly drove the breath from his lungs. Elenor needed him. His nieces needed him. Judiah needed him and she couldn’t wait forever for him to return. If he couldn't find a way out of this in a year, then the Sabbah might tear itself apart. If it took decades, or a century...then he’d just seen his Queen, his nieces, and his lover for the last time. Judiah would never be welcome in Askavi. Shadya and Amira would die waiting for him to keep his promise.

Elenor would rule the Sabbah alone.

And the Price for the lives you claimed, as even you do not deny doing do, is your Sapphire."

He'd asked his wife, Farrah, what it was like to lose both of her jewels, years after the fact.

It’s like having two arms, but knowing that you can only use fingers at any given time. And you never know which of your fingers you get to use on a given day.

Farrah became e a shell of her former self after losing both of her jewels. Sometimes she grew frustrated and short when she couldn’t access the Craft that had been second-nature to her in her youth. Other times, she hid herself away and sobbed when she thought he couldn't hear.

Even Judiah, his beautiful courtesan, missed her Opal. Now they wanted to take his Sapphire as part of their judgement.

He heard the gasps of surprise. Worse, he heard the murmurs of agreement with Lady Kriat’s ruling. The warriors, most likely, who needed blood and suffering in order to avenge the lives he’d taken. His people had fallen so far that they were willing to take any victory, rather than a meaningful one. Would he agree with this, if he stood among them? He didn’t know.

All he knew was that, today, he would break his word to his family. Fin's heart sank. As long as Abaddon and Lucky could leave this place without issue, then he hadn’t failed completely. He held onto that thought, his final words tasted like bile as he spoke them.

"Lady Kriat, I--"

Abaddon stepped forward, stopping Fin mid-sentence.




Offline Abaddon al-Sabbah

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #30 on: Oct 08, 18, 09:11:46 AM »
Abaddon sighed internally at Lucky’s thought, *You cannot claim authoritarian leadership of Pruul, and then act as though you are surprised when your words are taken at face value.  It was YOU that offered Queens, not the Queens themselves.  That is how you chose to phrase it in front of a Queen that has ruled for more years than Fin has been alive, and ruled here.  I love Ghanima with all of my being, but even she would see the wisdom in a reign measured in millennia.*  The Black Widow Warlord Prince shook his head very silent, *Use this time to think.  You claim to lead Pruul, rather than a Council, and you fill your chest with pride, like the cousins we are surrounded by.  Make friends here, not enemies.*  Abaddon was, of course, under no such burden.  He had multiple purposes here, but alliance was not one of them, though that was a thread he could pull.

He listened to his newfound half-brother speak on behalf of Fin al-Sabbah.  It would not move the crowd.  They would not care for what a boy had to say of a distant short-lived Territory, or the importance of Fin’s contributions therein.  They did not care what he had to say, save where it rubbed up against their illusions, and they were illusions.  The Eyriens of Askavi had built a fiction around what their conquest had been, and what it had become.  They could not even acknowledge the universal truth about a war, that absolute power corrupted, and this was expressed in many of their Males turning into the villains they claimed only existed in Territories outside of their own.  Reparations could never heal the generational scars wrought by a people still trapped in the lie of their own greatness, because for them, it was not all that long ago that they sat atop a pile of bones.  No, Askavi only understood one language, one truth, one spear to their universal self-damaging mind.

The moment Illyrian began to speak, Abaddon knew what was going to happen.  He knew that she had a people to mollify, a Warlord Prince of Askavi to keep in line.  She would make the political choice, not the moral one.  The Queen of Gravesend had always made the difficult choice, even to her own detriment.  She had created a haven, when everyone else was bloodthirsty for war.  No, she was no stranger to hard choices, and this was a hard choice.  Abaddon would not make it any easier.  Even as she finished her pronouncement, he lifted his eyes to her and regarded her with an expression that could only be interpreted as a silent apology.  He had warned her.  Nothing he did that day had anything to do with her, not really, but she was at the eye of the storm, and while it was much more calm where she stood, even in the eye, rain still fell upon you and the winds still ripped at your skin.  Abaddon inclined his head to her with the smallest movement, and when foolish, noble Fin began to speak, he interrupted.

Abaddon stepped in front of Fin and clearly said a single word, ”No.”  He fueled it with just a touch of Craft so it rang like a bell in the room, so everyone heard it and felt it as he regarded the Queen.  He let the sound settle like a bass note from a drum for a moment, before he pressed on.  ”Askavi claims that Fin al-Sabbah, Tavar Andros, must do his part for the betterment of the Territory, and you would break his strongest tool?  Nonsense.  Prince Yatskaya admits that he is essentially guilty of the same things, and he stands here not only unbroken but a member of the Court.  Did he not earn Drakkar Estaroth’s anger as well?  Or Askavi’s?  You will pardon me, Prince Yatskaya, but what makes one Male so special, when another has confessed to not only breaking his oaths but actively working against the ‘Great Conquest’?  Tavar Andros absented himself.  He is to pay with his Jewel because he failed to write a note after his rapacious brothers turned their backs on decency and honor?  The only difference here is Fin’s tie to Drakkar, his personal tie to a Broken Queen, and the pride of the Warlord Prince and the Blood Seekers.  This is not justice.  Nor does it help Askavi in its time of need.”

He turned to face the assembly, which included Fin al-Sabbah, and here again as he looked at his friend was the brief expression of apology.  Abaddon had known, this was always going to happen.  ”The honorable Eyriens of Askavi used to have the option of Trial by Combat.  I challenge this decision, and as the recognized son of the Warlord Prince of Askavi—on behalf of Fin al-Sabbah and Tavar Andros—I demand the right.”  His lip curled into the mildest of snarls, ”Is there any Eyrien Warrior with honor enough left to serve the Court as Champion?”



Offline Celebrian Eodan

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Re: The Court of Bitter Homecomings
« Reply #31 on: Oct 11, 18, 09:26:15 PM »
Abaddon's words hung in the air. The assembled warriors turned to each other as a low murmur rose. It was a trap, and a beautifully executed one. Knowing that Abaddon al-Sabbah was the Warlord Prince of Askavi's son without knowing Drakkar's thought or feelings about that knowledge before he had stormed from the room was enough to cause pause. No one warrior stepped forward to claim the dubious honor of fighting and potentially killing the child of the leader of the Blood Seekers.

And yet after a moment, restlessness or the promise of blood drawn caused the warriors to grow bold. Celebrian knew it was only a matter of time before someone was stupid or callous enough to claim the challenge. She reached for the familiar feel of Drakkar's mind. She knew he couldn't respond to her, but it didn't change the need that roared to life within her like a wick set to flame. She needed to tell him what was happening and he needed to stop this madness.

*Your son demands trial by combat. They’ll kill him, Drakkar.*

They were not easy words to speak, even in the intimate privacy of a single distaff to spear thread. The High Priestess was still reeling from the revelation and her own confirmation that this dark and powerful male was the son of Drakkar Estaroth. Abaddon couldn't be more than a few years older than her son would have been had he lived. Is this what Valar would have looked like? Obviously Valar had wings, and she was his mother, not whatever foreign witch Drakkar had carelessly spilled his seed inside, quickening within her belly to create the man that stood before her now.

But still, she could see the resemblance between Abaddon and Drakkar. Would Valar have favored his father? Or would he have looked more like her?

A guard entered the room and distracted her from her thoughts. Her focus sharpened as he approached Lady Kriat, but he spoke to her softly enough that she could not make out any of what he said. Whatever he shared with her, the Queen held her own counsel, offering no betrayal of her thoughts or feelings to those gathered. They did not have to wait long to learn what the guard had conveyed.

"Prince al-Sabbah," Illyrian's voice directed the entire room to the Red Jeweled Black Widow Warlord Prince. "Prince Estaroth accepts your challenge." Whatever sound might have erupted at that moment was silenced by a simple raise of the Queen's hand. Despite the Sapphire at her throat in its gorgeous, diamond laden setting and holding the highest rank a High Priestess could, Celebrian still felt a pang of envy every time Illyrian so easily commanded a room.  "You are to meet him at Shatterspine Falls. Our guards will escort you."

The Queen nodded and the guards took up positions around the two Warlord Princes and the long lost Warlord. They were not intentionally threatening, but Celebrian could feel the tension ripple through the room as they fell into place.

Oh Drakkar, what have you done?

The Queen's voice rose once more. "The Warlord Prince of Askavi has asked me to tell you one last thing. The trial by combat will begin in exactly two hours, which leaves you one hour and fifty-nine minutes to decide if this challenge is worth your life.”

The End