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Hayll has been in the grip of conspiracy for years, with shadowy hands pulling the strings of a puppet Queen, and attempting to ensure Hayllian dominance well into the future. The Coliseum was destroyed, and the uprising has given a voice not only to the slaves that escaped the bloodsport, but to the frustrations of the people at large. Traditionalists, hedonists, and freedom fighters collide in an effort to shape Hayll, with internecine war a looming threat.
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Author Topic: It's Time to Take Charge  (Read 1207 times)

Description: Attn: Gabe

Offline Cassius Decius

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It's Time to Take Charge
« on: Feb 08, 19, 11:06:56 PM »
Cassius stared at the photo of his daughter. His thumb ran over her face, a smile tugging his lips upward as he saw her, eyes bright, her mouth wide open, laughing. He hadn’t gotten to say goodbye. Even when Cornelia had given him to Aurav, she had let him say goodbye. In her own way. Bella probably thought he had left her. She probably thought that he did not care about her. If Cas knew Cornelia at all, and he did, that is exactly what she would tell her daughter. The Black Widow had always been jealous of the love Bella had for him. Even after she had humiliated him, tortured him, made him want to curl into a ball forever--Bellona had always come running to give him a hug.

Like he wasn't a slave. Like he was everything to her.

Whispered doubts made the Prince falter in his packing. El was safe now. The Territory Court of Dena Nehele would protect her. His hands settled on either side of the sack he was throwing his clothes in. No. Not his clothes. Clothes the Sabbah had given him. Everything he was packing away had been given to him. Cassius sighed and rested his hand on top of the pack, trying to keep his confidence.

“Your mind will tell you a thousand reasons that you shouldn’t. Pay attention to the part of you that says you must.”

He would just go back there and tell her goodbye. Make sure she knew he loved her. Nothing more. Cassius put the pack over his shoulder and was about to walk out the door when his eyes darkened and his hand went out to steady him against the wall.

What if he ran into Cornelia? What if he ran into Aurav?

The thought was so unbearable he almost threw up. Cassius felt his heart beat so fast that he couldn't catch his breath. Hayll itself would loom over him, the buildings suffocating and the air thick with the feeling of pain. Cas’ hand gripped the wood of the doorway hard, his nails digging into the grains. Could he do this? He had told Judiah and Shadya and Elenor he could. He had told everyone he was fine, that same inscrutable expression on his face with each.

Now that he was about to go, alone, he wasn’t so sure.

Offline Gabriel Silvarin

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #1 on: Feb 11, 19, 10:22:20 PM »
Gabriel needed out. Out of these fancy halls and tame gardens, out of the room where the Queen he had searched for was sitting vigil by the bedside of his uncle, and out of sight of all the people he had failed to protect. He wanted to see Saiph, to hold the sane and not mortal-danger-prone of his two Queens. More than that, he wanted to see his son. These last months were the longest Gabriel had ever been without the boy and after so much loss he just had to make sure that he hadn’t lost that which was most precious to him. The weight of anxiety would not lift from his chest, he was sure, until he could bury his face in those sweet curls and hug the boy until Sam managed to wiggle out of his grip.

There was little more he could do here. They would be leaving in a few days for Askavi and Gabe needed out for long enough to hopefully, work up the nerve to tell Elenor that he couldn’t stay by her side. With her, everything he had promised himself he would never do again was just too easy and in a way, the arrival of that Ebon Gray bastard had made Gabriel’s decision easier. He wasn’t the only one standing between Elenor and death… only miles and ignominy would do that now.

She had lost… and that was the end of it.

Hopefully, Elenor realized it too.

Gabriel’s steps towards the Landing Web slowed as he saw the familiar form of Cassius standing on a street corner by the Landing Web with a pack over his shoulder. The Warlord Prince’s brow furrowed and he walked towards the other man. “Going somewhere? I thought you were just waiting for the right time to go see your Queen..”

What other destination could the Prince have?

The ache in Gabe’s own chest answered. “Oh,” he said, taking the next logical step. “You’re going for your daughter, aren’t you?” When Cas confirmed his suspicion, Gabriel came to a snap decision. “I’ll come with you. A father shouldn’t be parted from his child. I know how much that hurts and it’s about time that something good come of this… year.”

After all, wasn’t this all his fault? Hadn’t it all started when he had pinned Aurav up against a wall and told him to never hunt Elenor down? Wasn’t that why he had contracted someone even Darker than Gabe to do it and unknowingly given Shira the very tool she needed to win the war? Gabriel would never be able to pay that Price but perhaps he could do a little good and when the time came for Mother Night to weight his soul she wouldn’t be… quite so pissed.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #2 on: Feb 11, 19, 11:13:35 PM »
Cassius looked up from the landing pad, struggling to catch his breath and hide his uncertainty. His hand grasped the string of his pack tightly, but try as he might he couldn't force a smile. “I’m just going to tell my daughter goodbye.” He choked out. “I don’t want her to think that I left her forever or that I don’t love her.” His mouth set into a firm line. “I’m sure that is exactly what her mother has told her.” Cassius couldn't even begin to imagine all the things Cornelia had probably told Bellona about him. She was what? Ten now? Old enough to have her first slave and old enough to start hating him.

The dark jeweled male’s offer caught him off guard. Raising an eyebrow, Cas glanced down the hallway, where Elenor was. “Shouldn’t you stay with Lady Sabbah? I mean...I’m just...It’s not worth it to help me over her.” He was surprised the male even wanted to help. No matter how long he stayed with these people, random acts of kindness would never feel...right. “I’ll be fine in Hayll. It’s...home.” Cas clenched his teeth together at that, wondering if he even knew what a home felt like.

Perhaps somewhere where he could see Precious and hold Bellona in his lap, but he didn’t know if that would ever happen.

The Prince couldn't help but take a quick breath. “And...you said Master Aurav is living with Cornelia, right?” His voice was even, collected, but he was terrified.

Offline Gabriel Silvarin

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #3 on: Feb 11, 19, 11:25:40 PM »
“Elenor has a lot of people to protect her here and as far as we know no one is coming after her because they all think she’s dead.” He had to, for half a second, and the way his heart had all but stopped in that moment was enough to fuel at least a thousand years of nightmares. While part of him desperately wanted to glue himself to her side, especially now that it was confirmed that she was pregnant, he needed air more.

Because Kia was by Elenor’s side, and because it was Michael in that bed.

“You’ll need someone to watch your back and I can get you there and back fast if something goes wrong. We can do in hours what it would have taken you weeks to accomplish and I’ll be able to burn off at least a little steam. Besides… I didn’t like the people she was with and I don’t like the thought of them telling her lies about her dad. You’re a decent fellow and that’s… well, it’s just a shitty situation. She cares for you and should know that you do in return and that you didn’t abandon her.”

Gabe would never be able to forgive himself if his own child ever thought that, how could Cas? “I was already headed out of here to go see my own spawn. We can hit Hayll first, then I can either drop you off back here or you can come and meet the surly demon I love with all my heart.”

Because Sam was many things, most of which, at the moment, were teenager.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #4 on: Feb 11, 19, 11:26:11 PM »
Cas smiled at the way Gabe spoke of his son. He wondered if he would ever have such a  thought about Bellona. He had always been so desperate to see her, so intent on scratching out any moments with her, that he hadn't had a lot of time to really be, well, a cranky father. It would be nice. Fretting about her dating a boy. Worrying about what she wore. Normal things.

“Prince...thank you. I-I think the Sabbah have more decency and kindness in them than all of Hayll.” Cassius certainly believe it. He had been a slave there for over sixty years and there was always a Price for help. Always. He walked up close to the Warlord Prince and put his hand gently on his shoulder, sending calming craft through Gabe until the anxiety that tensed through his whole body settled. “I am sure Mother Night will see that. Things will look up. Look how things have turned out. As one life ends, another begins.” He had already promised Elenor that if or when she needed his help in returning to Pruul, he would be there. Until then, he hoped she gave herself a break. Saw how many truly spectacular people she had around her. Would that be what Precious had one day?

As the two walked together, Cassius scratched his neck, somewhat sheepishly. “Just between you and me, I told the ladies I would be perfectly fine, but I am...nervous.” He did not say if he was nervous about seeing his daughter again, his former Masters, or Hayll itself. But it was surely a bit of all of them.

The two left Dena Nehele that night and Cassius felt like he was holding his breath until his feet landed solidly on Hayllian soil.

Offline Gabriel Silvarin

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #5 on: Feb 11, 19, 11:27:43 PM »
Gabe nodded at the wisdom in Cassius’s way of seeing it. It was true, there was a measure of rebirth in all this destruction, at least as far as Elenor was concerned, though it worried him that of the two men who were most likely the father of her child one was unconscious still and the Healers weren’t sure he would wake and the other… well, Matin had made a choice to stay behind for the boys who had been kidnapped and to protect his betrothed. It was an honorable choice Gabriel would not fault him for, but it was also a foolish one. The boy would get himself killed and might never even know about Elenor.

But that was a problem for another day.

For now, Gabe got them to the Landing Web and took to the Winds. The roar of them was a soothing comfort to the Warlord Prince and did more to ease his nerves than any amount of booze (which would have been the only other reasonable alternative today).

As soon as they stepped onto Hayllian soil, Gabriel called in his long, worn and patched brown leather coat and slipped it over his shoulders. It was cool here unlike Pruul where even the winters were warm in the middle of the day. He had felt naked without it but now that it was on his shoulders and he couldn’t feel the blistering heat through only thin linen on skin marred with burn scars it was easier to relax.

“Alright, so what’s the plan? This is her estate, right?” Gabe had erected sight and aural shield before he had dropped them from the winds so none of the people working near the Landing Pad had noticed their arrival.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #6 on: Feb 11, 19, 11:28:11 PM »
Cassius knelt down, his fingers running over the perfectly trimmed grass, watching as his hand shook. Cornelia had bought him specifically to have Bellona, but his willingness to please her had been boring. Conceiving a child should be fun. Cas had not thought it was possible for her to humiliate him, considering he had been fairly well trained out of modesty, but the Black Widow had achieved it. Everytime he heard her high heeled feet step down the hallway, close to his door, the slave had cringed.

Cassius, my pet, it’s time to come out to play.

He had thought it would get better when she was pregnant, but then she had thrown parties. So many parties. Out here. On this grass. The Prince was frozen at the memories, unable to move, unable to think. If she found them, if he heard those high heels walking down the perfectly polished marble hallways, what would he do?

Cas fell backwards, the perfect content mask he had worn for the majority of his stay in Pruul evaporated. Fear crawled through his golden eyes and twisted in his stomach. What would Cornelia do if she found out he had seen Bellona without her permission?

“I…” His voice cracked. “I think this was a mistake. I don’t know if I can do this. They are there, somewhere, in the house. I can feel their presence. I’ve memorized it. It’s bled into me.” He gasped for air, struggling to find the courage and hating himself for it. He clenched his teeth. “I know we are safe. I know it. But...I’m scared.” He looked up at Gabe. “Is that because I was a slave? Because I’m weak? Do you...do you ever feel this way, as a free man?”

Offline Gabriel Silvarin

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #7 on: Feb 24, 19, 01:45:19 PM »
Gabe watched as Cassius seemed to just… crumble and felt a pang of guilt. Maybe he shouldn't have brought him here but instead offered to go alone, to bring him a letter or a memory crystal of his daughter but that wasn’t the right thing to do. That would be depriving Cas of the very freedom he deserved: the freedom to decide where and when he went and what he did, the freedom to confront of flee from his fears.

Gabriel carefully set a hand on Cas’s shoulder, trying to impart some little bit of steadiness that he didn’t actually feel. “Being scared doesn’t make you weak. I’m scared all the time, for my son, for his mother, for my Queens, for my uncle.” He swallowed audibly at the last one. “Being scared is part of being human and we all go through it. The challenge is facing those fears, owning them, letting them become as familiar as old friends and accepting that while they are powerful that doesn’t mean they have to be in control. Fear is a powerful tool but it doesn’t have to be a way of life.”

Perhaps it was easier for Gabe, as a Warlord Prince, to not fear things on the outside quite so much as other did but for the same reason he was constantly terrified of the monster within. That fear had shaped him for close to two centuries now so yes, he knew a thing or two about the emotion.

“They might be in there but they won’t touch you, alright. They won’t even see you, I’ll make sure of that. I can’t offer to kill them for you though I know they deserve it, because you and your daughter might not make it out alive if I let loose, but there is no one nearby who wears a Jewel Dark enough to even detect us. You’re safe as long as you stay close. Here, keep one hand on my arm and tell me where we’re going.”

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #8 on: Feb 24, 19, 01:47:49 PM »
“Owning them…” The words were almost a whisper.

He had never owned anything in his entire life. Cassius looked down at the lush grass underneath him, cut every morning by the groundskeepers. His fingers ran through it again, remembering Bellona walking across it for the first time. Her laughter. The feeling of her tiny hand, helpless and innocent, clutching his.

His fear of Aurav and Cornelia would always control him, deep down. Cassius was as sure of that as he was about dying. But stepping inside this house, this place, it was not all filled with pain. His daughter had been born here. He had raised her here. The Prince focused on that, clutched to it like Bella clutched to her stuffed animals, and rose up from the ground.

The mansion loomed in front of them. It was over fifty rooms, each one lavishly decorated and dripping with gold. He knew every inch of it--what every bed felt like, what every floor felt like against his knees, his face, his back--so he took a deep breath. He tried to hide the flinch that occured when Gabe spoke so casually of killing his Master. He was not used to such thoughts voiced so openly in the air. Slaves had been killed for saying far less.

Grinding his teeth, Cassius took the Warlord Prince’s arm like he was bid and took a tentative step forward. They were at the front of the house, the two great stone lions looming over the two as they approached. The Prince twitched at the guards near the entrance, but they did not even glance in their direction. Carefully, they passed through the door. A lush red rug led to the large staircase inside, a slave washing the steps with the disciplined precision Cornelia scared into them. Her three year old daughter sat next to her, playing with an old doll. She had been here while Cassius served. Minnie. That was her name.

*She had her daughter with another slave here. Owen. He was sold soon after though.*

Cassius’ expression didn’t change as he led Gabe upstairs. Almost there. At the end of this hallway was Bellona’s room. Gabe had been here. He knew the way from here. The sky could be seen through a lavish skylight that extended all the way down the hallway. And at the end, berating a young slave that had missed a surface on her round of dusting, was Cornelia Longinius. Her lips were ruby red and she wore a long nightgown. Every biting word cut into Cassius’ own skin and he squeezed Gabe’s arm so hard that he thought his nails might break through his clothes and into his skin. He backed them up, like a deer in the headlights. Back and back and nearly into a crystal vase sitting dangerously behind them.

Offline Gabriel Silvarin

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #9 on: Mar 09, 19, 01:47:39 AM »
Gabe kept close to Cassius the whole way into the house, saying hardly a word for fear that too much conversation might actually weaken Cassius's forward momentum. They were in the right hall before near-disaster struck. Cassius paused dead in his tracks and Gabe ran into him. It took him a second longer to find the person who had scared the Prince so, then Gabriel's eyes narrowed.

Cornelia wasn't someone who had hurt or offended Gabriel, but he had picked up a lot of information on this house as of late, and had some growing suspicions about their role in recent events. One detail of the night Elenor was attacked kept replaying in his mind. The Ebon Gray bastard had named Elenor and Gabriel as lives that had been 'paid for' and that... didn't make sense. Shira, he was sure, would not have stopped at just the two of them. Why not Mike? Or Vera? Or Kia? All of them were long-lived to some degree.

No, it was someone else who had ordered that attack, even if Shira had directed it, and while there were several dozen people on the possible list of suspects, the Longiniuses were on it.

It made what they were about to do sweeter, and Made Gabriel's fingers itch for a sword. He might have done it -after all, he was already on a killing spree after Onn, why stop now- had Cassius not moved. Gabe had a moment to make a choice between violence and stealth and as soon as his arm shot out to stop Cassius from backing into a vase and getting them caught, the desire to kill turned to smoke.

**Keep calm. We're going to pass through the wall right here so you don't have to see her, then we'll go get your daughter. Come on, let's go.**

As he said it, Gabe guided Cassius to the side, then through the wall into a parlor with a piano and elegant sofas. Gabe grabbed Cass's hand and urged him towards his daughter's room. This time they didn't use the halls, they just walked in a straight line, using Gabe's Gray to go undetected.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: It's Time to Take Charge
« Reply #10 on: Apr 18, 19, 10:46:24 PM »
*I…I’m just…I’m just saying goodbye. I just want to say goodbye.*

Cassius felt like he was on the verge of a panic attack, the feeling, the smell, the presence of Cornelia making the Prince nearly collapse. If it wasn’t for the Warlord Prince all but carrying the former slave through the walls, there was a good chance he would have never made it to his daughters room. At least, when they did, the smell of the small Opal Healer sent a spark of life back through Cassius. His. No matter what Blood Law said, she was his.

“Bella? Are you here?” The words were almost a whisper, just squeaking by the ton of weight that pressed against his chest.

“Daddy?” A small dark brunette head popped up from underneath a  mound of covers.

Cassius flinched as she got out of bed and moved towards him, expecting her to scream or to hit him or to yell at him. But no. Instead, her small hands circled his waist in a tight hug. Tears flowed down her face and muffled sobs rocked through Cassius body. “Mother said you hated us and ran away. She said you were going to die.” No matter how he felt in that moment, no matter how terrified he was, the overriding instinct to comfort his daughter took over.

“Oh, little bee. I could never hate you. Ever. Don’t cry. Take a deep breath. Everything is okay.” Cassius went down to one knee and stared at his daughter in the eyes. He breathed with her, counting to ten, until she had stopped her tears. “Your mother is very angry, but you know I would never leave you alone. Nothing can keep me from seeing that smile.” He flickered her cheek lightly and Bella cracked a small grin as her hand came up to touch Cassius face. The cold metal of a Ring tapped against his skin and he gently took her hand in his own. He stared at the Ring, feeling a sickening realization dawn on him.

Precious was right. If Bellona stayed here, she would turn out like her mother. No matter how he had raised her.

“Bella. I’m going to ask you a very serious question now. It’s not a fair one. It’s not a happy one, but I want you to consider your answer very seriously before you answer, okay?” he stared deep into her golden eyes, sweeping her hair out of her face. She nodded slowly.

“If you had to choose, would you rather stay here, with your mother, and never see me again. Or, would you rather come with me, to a life that will not be quiet as easy as this one, and never see your mother again?” He didn’t sugar coat the words. He attempted not to influence her. He tried to present the sides equally, even if evey fiber of his being wanted to rage against Bellona’s mother.