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Established February 2010
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* Plot Information for Pruul

Seven children are destined to save Pruul and shake the traditions of the territory to their very core. In response, factions have broken the peace of a previously unified territory and violence has erupted across the dessert. It is a battle between the past and the future, the young and the old, and blood won’t stop seeping into the sand.
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Author Topic: How many sides does a triangle have? WTF Do I know? I suck at geometry.  (Read 253 times)

Description: attn: Sabbah Court and Clan

Offline Elenor al-Sabbah

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      Clan Queen

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      DragonGirl

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She’s already put this off too long already.

When news had come of her Steward’s death she had grieved, but there was the situation with the Sandworms to deal with and no time to truly mourn the death of her Bonded and member of her Triangle. Then she had returned and not weeks later Danyal had Bonded to Sarina, leaving Elenor’s service at once. She wasn’t sure what she felt about that yet but the matter stood, her sense of joy, grief, and betrayal set aside to deal with the practicalities. Elenor was down two members of her Triangle and Matin, while hardworking, was not able to manage the load.

He was running himself ragged and the Court wasn’t functioning as it should despite all the work he was doing because it needed more than two hubs of leadership. So three says after Sarina al-Sabbah was accepted as a Ward of the Court and the Sabbah compound was once again probed by those who would harm the standing Court, Elenor strode into the throne room where her whole Court and any other interested parties had been asked to assemble.

She had exactly one hour scheduled for this and no longer, her schedule far too packed these days for lengthy court sessions that didn’t invlove actually hearing the requests of her people. The dress she wore was simple, with a long pale blue skirt and low back, no jewelry but a simple silver sirclet that matched the Sabbah cuff at her wrist anywhere in sight, not even her Jewels. Her hair was up off her neck and as usual she had refused shoes. They lived in a warm climate and unless she was going to be walking out onto burning sand those implements of torture could go burn.

Was she upset?

Maybe just a little.

No Steward. No Master of the Guard. No Voice. It was the last that was the hardest to swallow. Fin had promised her that he would help her rule the Sabbah, that he would protect her… and now? It wasn’t his fault he was stuck in Askavi but it still rubbed at old and new fears every day to have him so far away.

She didn’t want to appoint a new Voice. She wanted Fin but if wishes were fishes they’d all rot under the same Pruulian sun.

Was she upset?

Yes, she fucking was.

Would she show it?

Hopefully not.

Trying her best not to stalk up the steps of the dais she stopped before reaching the simple chair at the top, just high enough so that everyone in the room would be able to see and hear her, and spoke without preeamble to the men and women gathered there. “Lords and Ladies of the Court, members of Clan Sabbah and Guests, a year ago almost to the day I became your Queen. I formed a Court and Triangle to represent my willingness to rule all fairly and in the past year I have lost all but one of the members of that Triangle, our Voice, and many more. Those who Returned to the Darkness have been grieved and will forever be missed, those who are gone and cannot return will be remembered, those who have found another path accepted,” her eyes fell to Danyal where he stood at the elbow of the young Queen he had bonded to at the very back of the room and nodded. “But the reality of the situation is that the Sabbah Court needs leadership and the state of Onn and the continued Sandworm activity does not allow us the leisure to take our time in our grief.”

She took a deep breath, then looked over to the side, where Matin stood. “Matin al-Sabbah, you’ve proven yourself invaluable to this Court and it is thanks to your leadership that the Sabbah are standing and stood through the attack. You and your… family provided the aid and resources needed in a time of tragedy and disaster and I extend my sincerest thanks for those actions.” There, it was out in the open. If the True Sabbah ever griped about doing the work and not getting the praise they could go fuck themselves. They regularly tried to kill her and she still publicly thanked them when they did the occaisonal not horrible thing.

“Your leadership has been exemplary but I am afraid I will have to request the ring you’re wearing back today.” She saw Matin’s eyes widen in shock and betrayal but he didn’t disobey, slipping the First Escort’s ring off his finger and handing it to her as the room filled with murmurs. She didn’t have it in her right now to smile at Matin but she did brush her fingers against his, imparting a moment of her Touch before calling in the other two rings and a fourth that she had yet to use. “Instead, I’d humbly request that you accept the Steward’s ring, to continue to serve in my Triangle. You have already been doing both jobs and your talents for organization and leadership have been shining through. I hope you’ll accept.”

Then she turned to the room at large. “Prince Dyslin, please attend.”

Michael, who had been standing near the back as well by Luc stepped forward. When he had reached the dais Elenor said, “you have done nothing but protect me since the moment we met. You are unaffiliated with Clan Sabbah and the division within it but I trust you with my life and the lives of those who fall under my protection. Will you serve me as my Master of the Guard from this day forward?”

The murmurs continued to rise. Elenor had never appointed a person who was not a member of Clan Sabbah to a position above her Second Circle but that was going to change today. The True Sabbah already hated her and her choices. This time, she wasn’t going to form her court trying to pander to them. She was going to follow her fucking heart and do what she felt was right.

“Lord Bashir al-Sabbah, attend.” A blue head of hair moved forward and now she did smile, because she couldn’t help but smile every time she saw Bashir. “From before I was even Sabbah your dedication to me has been unwavering. I put you in my Second Circle so that you could learn and gain some experience within a Court and under the tutelage of a Sabbah business partner. Today I’d like to ask you to join my First Circle and furthermore accept the First Escort’s ring. It will not be a traditional posting as I intend to also name a Consort today, but yours will be the place at my side every day, and everywhere I go in this Territory, do you accept?”

More murmurs.

Elenor turned to the doors and the woman stepping through them now. “Finally, before I move on to some more Court appointments and shuffling, Lady Judiah Vidanic, please attend. You’ve been living in my Consort’s suite, tending to my emotional wellbeing and giving me good, practical advice for over a year now. You are my Consort in all but name and today I’d have you have that as well. Do you accept the Consort’s Ring and all the power and responsibility that come with it?”

Offline Judiah Vidanic

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Judiah stared at her mirror, stared at the face that stared back at her.  Beautiful, flawless, artistic.  She hadn’t decorated herself like this in more than a year, even when she was helping the Mineborn, she hadn’t gone this far. 

Her heart ached.  She was still mourning the loss of Fin, the news that he was now a captive slave to Askavi for some stupid Price that he shouldn’t have to serve. He could have been dead, she tried to console herself, at least she knew his heart still beat somewhere across those dead mountains and forever away from her reach.

Until Elenor had told her that she was going to make trips back to Askavi, to keep some promise she had made and to see family she had found and reminded her of a question she had once asked her.  At the time, Judiah had refused.  Things were too new, and she wasn’t a part of this Clan, this people.  She wouldn’t accept because it felt wrong or dishonest.   Now, well she’d been doing that same position for the better part of the last year, earning the stipend for it….well isn’t that what a courtesan does best?  Sex for money?  Just another contract. 

Her perfect lips twisted into an ugly smirk.  She could try to lie to herself about that, but she adored Elenor and after the rage and sorrow had burned through her, Elenor was still her friend and her friend needed her to do this and as much as she didn’t want to think about it, Fin needed her there as well.  Of course, there was another great benefit to taking on this task.  As a member of her Court officially, Judiah could travel with Elenor anywhere she wished and Protocol could and did override centuries of hatred.  Say what you would about the Eyriens of Askavi, but they lived by their honor and Protocol.

A light brush against her barriers and Judiah knew it was time.  She had told El if she was going to do this, she was going to put on a show that would bring them all to their knees.  She had pulled out one of her favorite gowns, flashy and sexy and just enough material to keep it decent but only just and enough strategically placed lace that shadows left nothing to the imagination.  It was red, the color of decadence and lust and gold, wealth and power.  She knew the reaction she would get when she wore it and loved it. 

Rising from her vanity, she swept out of her room and down the corridor toward the large meeting room where Elenor would be holding her court, announcing her new appointments.  The guards outside the side doors to the meeting room stared at her, and she watched as they tried and failed to conceal their arousals at the sight of her.  Smiling sweetly, she stepped up and gave them each a slow lingering kiss.

“A story for your friends,” she said as she heard her name through the door and stepped through. 

“You’ve been living in my Consort’s suite, tending to my emotional wellbeing and giving me good, practical advice for over a year now. You are my Consort in all but name and today I’d have you have that as well. Do you accept the Consort’s Ring and all the power and responsibility that come with it?”

Spoiler: Judiah's dress (click to show/hide)

Judiah passed through the crowd who parted as she walked towards the center aisle. No, not walked. She glided.  She flowed like one of her sexual tendrils through the people who stared at her, men and women alike.  Her hips sashayed back and forth, her breasts moved in their tight bodice and she knew that every eye was fixed on the skin that showed through gossamer red lace.  When she approached the dias, she fell into a perfectly executed kneel, her chin held level as she held Elenor’s gaze.

“I am honored by this gift my Lady, and by the faith you have placed in me. I will continue to serve in this role at your side,” her voice slipped so softly that only Elenor and those beside her would hear, “or beneath you or behind you.”  Her eyes glinted with mischievous humor as she rose to take the ring from Elenor’s hand, slipping it on her finger.  Her hands moved, sliding down Elenor’s sides to her hips before pulling her against her, kissing her hard and deep for just long enough to render the Queen flushed and dazed before stepping back and to the left. 

*A little too much beloved?*
she said with a distaff thread of humor, *I told you I was going to put on a show for them all.*





Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Shadya entered the meeting in a foul mood.

She knew that Elenor had to do this. She knew why she had to do it. That didn’t make any of this easier to absorb. So many deaths due to the sandworm attack had weakened the Sabbah. The Hague were practically decimated, with Lord Samira, Lord Danya, and Lady Aziza among the notable members of that tribe that Shadya could recall. Elenor’s plans to feed their people progressed well enough, but Shadya sensed the tension in Onn as she walked the streets during the day and evening.

Something major was going to happen soon.

Fin would provide wise counsel, but he wasn’t here. Askavi had stolen him from their family and, coupled with Amira’s death, there was little about the world that Shadya didn’t hate these days. Elenor dulled the ache and Shadya leaned on her Queen in obvious and not-so-obvious ways while she worked out her strategy to wound the True Sabbah. Judiah and Kiarian were added to the circle of people that Shadya cared for, along with her troupe of bond-brothers and bond-sisters all attached to their Queen.

The Black Widow leaned against a wall, in the peripheral of most of the Court, wearing a dark, flowing dress. She’d brushed out her hair and let it hang loose to the middle of her back. Few people bothered or dared to look in her direction, though. The woman referred to in whispers as  ‘Elenor’s Right-Hand Attack Bitch’ simply watched the gathering and monitored the security webs she’d installed over these last few weeks to protect Elenor and her Court. They held for now, allowing Shadya to divert her attention other people.

When Elenor entered and began laying out the formation of her new Court, Shadya listened without comment or worry. Her position wasn’t in jeopardy of changing in the near future. On the contrary, Shadya’s role as Court Seer was more secure than ever and she was glad to get to the business of helping the rest of the Court and Clan Sabbah become more secure in the face of new threats to their existence.

Shadya watched as her bond-brothers were named to their new positions, restoring a functioning Triangle to their Queen. A new Voice would be named as well, and that would be the hardest part to watch. Shadya tensed, waiting to hear more.

And then all the air in the room vanished when Judiah entered.

Shadya thought she heard jaws audibly hit the floor in the meeting room and one of them might have been hers. Where others were scandalized, however, Shadya could only watch with genuine appreciation. Judiah seemed to float across the room rather than walk and Shaya was just a tad jealous of her adopted aunt’s grace and beauty. Most women (Shadya included) could work for hours on their best day and still fail to reach the beauty that Judiah wielded without effort. Shadya sighed and then caught herself.

Judiah kissed Elenor in front of gathered clan and Shadya grinned.

Yes. That is my aunt.

Offline Danyal al-Hague

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Danyal had escorted Lady Sarina here and settled her near the back of the room, in as unobtrusive a spot as possible. He didn’t like having her here in public so soon after being made a Ward of the Court, while people were still not used to her presence. At least the three perilous days of her moontime were over and his sense of self-control when anyone so much as looked in his Queen’s direction was a little less twitchy.

His ring finger felt odd. For a year he had worn the heavy ring of the Master of the Guard and had stood at the front of this room on the rare occasion Elenor used it. Now another would wear it and Danyal would be… what? A member of the Court in charge of taking care of the elder of the two Queen Wards? To be honest, he felt a little lost but also blessed. He had finally found his Queen and she was here and as safe as he could make her. That would be enough.

His attention split between watching for threats and following the golden-haired Queen as she entered the room, Danyal shifted slightly, one hand casually falling to the hilt of his khanjar as every male in the room Bonded to Elenor tensed. She must be in quite the mood. He had never understood just how much passed between Queen and male within a Bond until he got to experience it for himself.

Elenor’s terse tone bothered him. He’d served her for a year and this wasn’t typical behavior. How much had recovering her memories changed her? How much had sharing Adavera’s? Was there much left of the too-kind young woman who had stood before the Sabbah a year ago? He had followed her because she spoke of hope and honor and justice but now there wasn’t anger in her voice but bitterness and impatience. He didn’t blame her for the changes. She had been under attack since before she even came to power and it had been a constant, grueling barrage on a woman whose mental health was questionable at best but…

Was she still a good Queen for Clan Sabbah?

Was she better than Sarina could be?

The fact that Danyal could not answer was worrisome. He wanted to believe in Elenor’s vision, he just wasn’t sure he believed in the woman anymore, or in her ability to carry it out. She was great at ideas, perhaps even brilliant. Execution? Not so much? Self-control? None. Common sense? Abysmal. Calm and centered attitude? Not anymore.

However, she was still the Queen he served on paper so he paid attention as she made the changes to her Court that needed to happen. Her first appointment didn’t surprise Danyal, though it likely did the rest of the Court. Matin had proven himself a hard working and dedicated young man but above all he was capable. He would have been a good pick for any of the three sides of Elenor’s Triangle and while he made a fine First Escort, his talents were just as suitable for the position he now held, and unlike his Queen the Prince did have a calm and centered attitude, some common sense, a lot of self-control and the ability to see projects through to completion. He would do well.

Prince Dyslin, too, would make a good Master of the Guard and Danyal was glad to see Elenor had taken his recommendation. At the start of their trip, Danyal would never have thought a Hayllian born Dena Nehelen would win his respect but Michael Dyslin was a man after his own heart in many ways. He was dedicated to Elenor and her safety, was flawlessly good at protocol, and had the care for details needed to protect a Court in dangerous times.

Bashir?

Well, it could be worse, Danyal supposed. The odd young man was crass and loud but Danyal had reviewed his work and it wasn’t bad. He was capable just...colorful and maybe a position of authority would force him to learn how to behave with more composure and protocol. If nothing else he might keep Elenor smiling and that was hard enough in these dark days. He couldn't blame the girl for wanting that.

Judiah though?

He didn’t have a quarrel with the Queen and former Voice’s Hayllian lover as a person. She was kind, devoted, and had worked hard to blend in with the Sabbah during this last desert crossing even though she had not made any move to join the Clan officially. Judiah had been one of his traveling companions for months now and had been a valuable resource for Elenor while going from Territory to Territory. It was clear to everyone with eyes that she was Elenor’s Consort in fact, if not in name, so Elenor’s request was neither unexpected or irritating, Judiah’s entrance though?

It was a needless spectacle and it would cause Elenor problems. Unless the point of this song and dance was to piss off the True Sabbah it was only going to fuel the fire and Judaih kissing Elenor in front of the Court?

If you’re trying to not look like you’re still just a puppet to Fin and his lover, Lady El, you’re doing a piss-poor job of it. He thought privately. It wasn’t his business anymore but he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to speak to Matin about it. As Steward and the senior member of Elenor’s Triangle, he had to make it clear to his Queen and her new Consort that this sort of culturally insensitive display would have to stop. It didn’t matter that Judiah had been a courtesan. There was nothing wrong with that. It didn’t even matter so much that she was Hayllian: plenty of immigrants made up the landscape of Pruul. But she represented Clan Sabbah now and with so much at stake, drawing eyes on to herself instead of the Clan Queen was a major political blunder.

Hopefully, it was just an honest mistake and not the start of something that would get them all killed.

Offline Matin al-Sabbah

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Matin spun the Steward’s ring on his finger, aware of the small differences in shape and weight from the one he had worn so recently, contemplating his Lady’s choices as she named the rest of her Triangle. He didn't like seeing someone so newly come to Pruul as her Master of the Guard—combat and training were so deeply ingrained in their culture and collective sense of self, and Prince Dyslin knew little of the twisted political threads that faced their Queen—but the Hayllian seemed well enough suited for the position, and his loyalty was unlikely to waver. Bashir was young and inexperienced, but not so much of either as he had been a year ago, and he had shown surprising initiative following the sandworm attacks. He didn't have Matin’s breadth of training, experience and connections, but Elenor’s choice to move her former First Escort had been a smart one.

Matin was not as adept with schedules and bureaucracy as many Princes, but he knew the inner workings of this Clan and this court,  and would be in a position to oversee those who were new to their jobs and make sure they presented the proper image to the Sabbah and the rest of Pruul. The Clan’s division had finally erupted, and it would take care and consideration to keep this contained even if every member of the court had his political acumen.

So when Elenor said she was having a Consort in addition to a First Escort, Matin’s gut twisted before she said Judiah Vidanic’s name.

Judiah.

Fucking.

Vidanic.

She burst into the room wearing a dress that amounted to basically nothing, and suddenly all eyes were on her and the three men who had just accepted lifetime appointments to their Bonded Queen were forgotten. He wanted to scream at her. He wanted to ask her if she really thought she deserved a role in a court she clearly had no regard for. If she really thought it was her place to stand beside the heart of a Clan that she seemed to think was a joke. Elenor was risking a great deal politically by stepping outside the traditional format of a Triangle, and Judiah’s behavior would only reinforce the belief that Elenor’s judgement had been impaired by Vera.

And none of them had been their while Matin taught his Queen about presenting herself in a way that their Clan would respect, making sure her wardrobe contained not only Pruulian styles but textiles from Sabbah artisans because it was a mark of pride in her people. None of them had watched Judiah Vidanic dress up their Queen in expensive imported dresses and laugh off the idea that it might mean something to the people Elenor ruled. None of them had been privy to the arguments about the courtesan’s role in the court, because Judiah fucking Vidanic was apparently a spoiled child who had never been taught that she couldn't always have what she wanted without consequence.

Matin wanted to yell and rage and fight, especially when she felt Elenor up and kissed her passionately—in case anyone in the room wasn't sure what a Consort's role entailed when there was another First Escort. Internally, he seethed with anger and betrayal. That Elenor had made this choice, yes, but also that she hadn’t warned him. He would have tried to talk her out of it,, but if she had insisted he would have given her a better way to reveal it than this.

Matin wanted to scream, but he didn't. Instead, he kept his expression impassive, almost bored, and took vindictive comfort in the fact that he had just been given the power to assign Lady Judiah Vidanic a dress code.



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Offline Adavera al-Jinan

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Adavera was not comfortable here.  She was less comfortable locked away in a room during all of this, but the fact remained that this situation had her skin crawling.  There were so many Sabbah here.  Naturally.  This was a Sabbah Court Function, after all.  Being this close though?  It had her eyes narrowing on everyone that so much as breathed too quickly.

She was outnumbered here.  So was Elenor. Matin and the rest of the Bonded she trusted to defend Elenor, but these were their Clanmates, in some cases.  Would they hesitate?

She believed that they would, because these were their clanmates, and what had most of them done in an effort to prevent the war that was coming?  Nothing.  Or at most, very little.

So she sat there, silent as the shadow that she was dressed as.  No clan insignias, no jewelry.  Just the glittering of golden eyes and the contained Rage that she couldn't really hide anymore.  Not in this situation.  Still, when Judiah Vidanic entered the room, she had a small smile on her lips. Not about the dress - she would sadly agree with Matin that in this case, Judiah shouldn't have worn it - but rather about how everyone's attention fell on Judiah.

That was useful.  If she wanted to start laying waste to Sabbah, she need only throw Judiah out in public with that dress on.  Handy information, that.  Sadly, she knew that the dress was likely to cause 'issue'.

Which Elenor would have known to prepare for, had she bothered planning this with Adavera, or Matin, or literally anyone of Pruul.  Adavera wanted to rub at her nose but she did not.  Now was not the time.  If anyone were going to cause problems, it would be now.  Now, while their pride was stung at the new changes and Judiah's obvious flouting of Pruulian norms.  Where some might give her some leeway - Adavera would not.

Judiah was a courtesan, and had been the lover of Fin al-Sabbah for years now.  She certainly knew how Pruulian women dressed, and for some reason had chosen to NOT do so.  Vera wouldn't normally blame her.. she'd eschewed gowns and the like most of her life now.  But she had always found something appropriate to wear when the occasion called for it.

What was going on in Judiah's mind to make her think this was appropriate?



Offline Bashir al-Sabbah

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It was about fucking time.

Bashir had been itching for this meeting today, not because he knew the contents of it, but because he had been invited to it and knew that something was going to go down. Hopefully Matin but probably not. There were too many holes in Elenor’s Court for her to get rid of him too. But hey, Bashir could dream, right?

The Steward was dead. The Master of the Guard had stepped down. There was shit going down and Bashir smelled a bad deal in the works. Elenor calling them together meant that she noticed it too. One thing he liked about his Queen was that she didn’t wallow in fucking pity parties until someone else fixed it. She fixed it. Okay, that sometimes annoyed him too, because she took on more than she should, but still...being proactive was better than being a reactive little bitch.

She made her way to the dais in a simple dress that wasn’t Pruulian and bared feet. Who was he to tell her how to dress? Matin did that and look how well it went over. She was pretty and a Queen and everyone who thought she had to dress a certain way to be either of those things could go hump a sandworm. She addressed them formally and then turned her attention to Matin. Blah, blah, blah...exemplary performance during the sandworm attack. Fucking snake. He’d just catered to his psycho aunt and kept her from doing too much damage.

When Elenor asked for his ring back, Bashir nearly whooped with vindicated joy. Fuck yeah!

Oh…

Well, shit. Now he was Steward. Bashir had mostly known that Matin wasn’t going anywhere but for a moment, he had really hoped it. Steward wasn’t so bad. Paperwork and bills. So long as Matin didn’t get greedy and start funneling funds towards those True Sabbah goons, he could have Steward. Definitely not the position that Bashir wanted in life.

Elenor asked Michael Dyslin to serve as her new Master of the Guard and Bashir didn’t disagree. The guy had her best interests at heart and was a good protector. Why not him? Duh. Bashir could deal with that, especially since Danyal was now Bonded to that little puppet Queen Sarina. Let the haters hate. Bashir liked that Elenor wasn’t pandering to True Sabbah with that selection.

“Lord Bashir al-Sabbah, attend.”

Huh?

Bashir immediately did that -- attend -- skip-charging a step forward to be seen at the head of the crowd. Not that anyone could miss his bright blue hair. She talked about how he had always been devoted to her and about the last year of learning for him. And then, “Today I’d like to ask you to join my First Circle and furthermore accept the First Escort’s ring.”

“Oh fuck yeah!” he answered eagerly. Whatever else she said about a Consort went over his head as he stepped forward to claim the position he had been denied at first. First Escort! Suck it, Eskandar! He was First Escort now!

Wait, what had that been about a Consort?

The jealous male part of his brain took over, expecting another male to step forward when Elenor called. Except that it was Judiah and Judiah was mostly… okay, for Judiah it was a conservative dress. For everyone else, including Bashir, it didn’t leave much to the imagination and he kind of liked it that way.

Wait, what? Judiah was going to be Consort?

Whoa now. That was...weird. But like, weird he could deal with. What guy didn’t fantasize about girl on girl action? He could share Elenor with Judiah. Mostly. Yeah, he could. A Consort’s role was all sex, right? Yeah, Bashir could handle Judiah being that. It didn’t mean he didn’t get some sexy time with Elenor, right? Just that his primary job was to escort her everywhere and make her smile. Now that -- that he could do!

This was going to work out just fucking great!

Offline Michael Dyslin

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“Prince Dyslin, please attend."

His Queen called his name, and warmth curled within him as though it were the first time he'd heard her voice. It was sometimes more, that feeling, but never ever less. Sure steps brought him from the back of the room forward, politely stepping through the crowd. With him, there was no unnecessary display of shouldering his way through the members of the court to get to her. Michael moved with a measured sort of grace, stepping around those who did not simply cede way with no show of hostility about him.

He was dressed in a manner that was eloquence itself, his clothing an understated declaration of who he was - and who he was becoming. He wore a two-tone sand and tan suit - not Hayllian, but modeled after one of Dena Nehele's more recent fashions. The suit jacket was cut longer than usual so that it paid homage to the shalwar kameez while not yet being one. The material itself was a light and airy Pruulian make, and over the suit he wore a bisht in plain, dark brown, embroidered at the hems in a silvery thread, pattern reminescent of Elenor's favourite five-petaled flower. His outfit for that days Court gathering may not have been composed of uniquely Pruulian garb, but in a crowd, the eye would have slid right over him, were it not for his lighter features, his skin and eyes so like his Queen's.

And that was as it should be. He was not one of them, not yet at any rate - but he was hers, and he felt no need to flaunt the difference between himself and the people she served, and who served her in return.

Reaching Elenor at the Dias, he bowed deeply to his queen, hand over his heart and then straightened. He met her eyes steadily as she made the offer of the Master of the Guard's ring and duties to him, and nodded once, gravely before answering. "Yes, my Lady. I will serve." He spoke solemnly and with quiet strength, a bit of Craft carrying the words clearly to everyone in the room without him needing to raise his voice. He accepted the ring and placed it on his finger before moving to stand near her while clearing the floor for Bashir to follow.... and then...

Judiah.

Even in his mind, her name was a sentence that deserved appreciation and a full stop all it's own. As a man, Michale could (and very much achingly did appreciate what Judiah was doing. As a man, he was stunned, enticed, aroused and drawn out by her very Hayllian display.

But he was not just a man anymore. And as the Master of the Guard, the danger that the growing discontent and shocked whispers that were filling the room at her display before the gathered court spelled only a hundred thousand little dangers, each person who gained another reason to dislike Elenor was a person who the True Sabbah were one step closer to winning over. No, as Master of the Guard, Michael did not appreciate what was happening one bit.

Offline Elenor al-Sabbah

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Elenor felt as much as saw Matin’s relief as he got a new position in her Triangle. Now she did smile at him, a little of her own tension easing with his as she spoke to him over a direct thread *I loved having you by my side at all times but you’re far too skilled to waste your time running after me at all hours. You have another Queenling to look after too and this should give you more time and ability to keep an eye on Salma.*

She had no illusions about where she ranked compared to Matin’s daughter in his heart and would have it no other way. The office of the Steward was big enough for a play area for the young girl and looked out over an easily defensible courtyard. It would do Matin good to know where his little one was at all times and not have to always trust others to watch her because he had duties to the Court.

Michael came up next, as always impeccably elegant and proper. Elenor could see why Danyal had suggested him for Master of the Guard and probably would have reached the same conclusion had he not. She trusted Mike to have her back even if it meant telling her no and that was an essential part of the job. Her eyes met his as the ring slipped onto his finger and once more she added something in private, for only Michael to hear. *Thank you. I know this means giving up some or all of your other work and do not take that lightly. I promise I’ll try to be better about not running headlong into danger and not make this job more difficult than it needs to be.*

Then she turned to Bashir and couldn’t help but grin at his exuberant joy. The temptation to reach out to ruffle his blue hair was overwhelming but resist it she did. Instead, Elenor passed him the ring and when he took his place by her side for the first time squeezed his hand. *You’ve said from the start this place should be yours. Prove to me that this was the right decision. I really do believe you can do it and am excited to have you by my side.*

At last, there was Judiah. She entered the room and every eye was on her. Elenor’s too were locked on her lover and friend as she floated across the room, almost too beautiful and regal in that dress that left nothing to the imagination. Warring emotions battled inside her but as she got closer but she tried not to show it on her face, remaining calm.

Judiah took the offered ring and agreed to serve. Elenor was still trying to work out exactly what to say next when she was swept up in a kiss that left her breathless and wobbly-kneed. A little flustered, Elenor steadied herself on Bashir’s offered arm then glanced over at her Consort as she felt the brush of psychic communication. *A bit much, yes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m right there with you about not giving a damn what the True Sabbah thinks anymore and you look amazing but I might have to mitigate some damage here. Bear with me.*

She could feel Matin quietly fuming through their Bond and he was likely not the only one. Elenor had to deal with this now before it got back to the True Sabbah and she had to deal with it decisively. Wincing internally, she took a step back, up a couple more stairs so that she now stood above the four who formed her ‘Triangle’ and felt the attention slipping back to her.

“Lady Vidanic, Prince Dyslin, before I continue with the business of this Court, I would give you both my first command as your ruling Queen. Neither of you belongs to this Clan or this Territory. You stand here because you are loyal to me but that is not enough during these times of trouble and strife. Because of this, instead of the traditional five-year contract offered to members of this Clan when entering service in the Triangle of a Court, you are each going to receive a single, provisional year. You have one year to serve and to learn, and at the end of that year, you will be expected to stand Trial for admittance into Clan Sabbah. If you have no will to do so or are unable to learn and master the ways of the desert sufficiently for the elders of this Clan to believe you are a suitable candidate for admittance then you will step down from these positions to let others take your place. I make this offer in honor of Tribe Hague, who have lost many this year but who have always been a people prepared to take anyone, of any background if they be willing and able to serve and fight for Pruul. This Territory is built on diversity and immigrants just as much as on tradition and community. We will accept the former if you are willing to accept the latter.”

She met each of their eyes until they gave their answers, then allowed them to rise. Taking a deep breath, Elenor proceeded to the next matter of Court business. “Lady Malika al-Sabbah, please attend. Your work in the past year has been consistently excellent and you have proven yourself adept and capable. I’d ask you now to join my First Circle as Second to the Steward to continue serving our Clan. I hope you will accept.”

Her eyes continued to move, fixing this time on a man standing near the back of the room. Adel had come to her several days earlier and had stood before her on the orders of the Spider, to infiltrate her Court. Shira had not realized that by giving Adel this job she was returning him to where he rightfully belonged and never would, if Elenor had her way. Because it was imperative that the subterfuge continue she had to continue to pretend she didn’t trust Adel, but in this moment her reputation for being too kind and too forgiving would serve Elenor well in giving both herself and Adel something they yearned for.

“Lady Adileh al-Sabbah, attend.” Using that name irked her, but it had to be done. “You have been a known affiliate of the True Sabbah but claim to have renounced Shira al-Sabbah’s genocidal rhetoric and have seen her for what she is. I believe in second chances, especially for the young, but I have also had to learn caution. Our Court Priestess, the honorable and brave Lady Amira al-Sabbah, has returned to the Darkness and her spot in my Court is left vacant. Until such a time as you either prove yourself to me or another is found, I request that you serve as provisional Court Priestess. This is a probationary role which you will lose and your freedom will be forfeit if you ever put a toe across the line, do you understand me?”

She did her best to look stern and intimidating and must have done an ok job because silence descended over the room. When Adel finished speaking she looked up at the crowd and continued. “Let this be the stance of this Court. Anyone who comes to us willing to renounce the folly of a Spider who spouts nothing but hatred and intolerance will be given a chance to prove their sincerity. They will be expected to come with a list of their crimes and stand trial for them but I will judge fairly and take their willingness to face the consequences of their actions with honor under consideration. Those who do not come forward by their own free will shall not receive the same leniency.”

Her eyes fell to Sarina next. “In that same vein, let it be publicly known that Lady Sarina al-Sabbah has been accepted as a Ward of this Court at her request, and will remain as such until she has completed her Offering to the Darkness. Lord Danyal al-Hague formally requested to step down as my Master of the Guard three days ago and that request was granted. I now assign him a place in my Second Circle for the next two years, and assign him to watch over the Wards of the Court and assure their protection.”

SHe turned to Matin, “those Wards also include Lady Salma al-Sabbah, daughter of Matin al-Sabbah,” just in case anyone had any fucking doubt about paternity. “To all those who serve me, I ask that you take care of these two young Queens as if they were your own and ensure their education and protection.”

Almost at the bottom of her list, Elenor’s eyes fixed on Shadya. “Lady Shadya al-Sabbah, please attend. For your service to me during my voyage and upon my return, I would make a request of you. Our Clan is without a Voice. The selection of a new one is not mine to decide alone and I have already put in a petition to the Elders of our Clan to provide a list of candidates for the position. However, we do need guidance and a Clan should not be mute. Today I ask you to serve as interim Voice of Clan Sabbah until the day the Clan elects a new one, be that tomorrow or a year from now. Traditionally the Voice of a Clan does not serve in the Court. This is a wise tradition and one I will not break which is why this position will only be temporary. You will not be a candidate for the long term unless you would willingly step down as Court Seer, which I would prefer not to see you do. So understanding that, will you serve? ”

Offline Malika al-Sabbah

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Malika felt a bit like her mind was spinning as the new appointments were made and accepted, and she was torn in her reaction to them. The momentary joy she felt at watching Matin hand in his First Escort ring quickly crashed and burned. Then the joy returned when her brother was finally getting the promotion he wanted--and straight to First Escort. Even as she rolled her eyes at his cursing, her mind went back to Matin's move to Steward and the thought made her stomach turn enough that she was only vaguely aware of the display happening by the new Consort. At least Malika was still Second Circle, and so maybe she--

Oh.

Oh shit.

Okay so maybe Bashir wasn't the only one who swore, but at least Malika didn't say the word out loud. She moved forward when she was summoned. A strange mixture of dread and excitement warred in her stomach, and she hoped that it didn't show on her face as she listened to what Elenor wanted her to do.

She didn't take any time to think about it because there really was no choice. Elenor was a good Queen, and it wasn't as though Malika could really turn down the offer of a First Circle appointment. That would just be silly. Too bad it came with the curse of having to work with Matin. A slimy chill went down her spine at the thought and she kept her expression in a careful smile. At the very least, he would be good at his job as Steward, so Malika chose to focus on that.

"I would be honored," Malika said, unsure of what else she was supposed to say. She determinedly did not look at Matin as she moved back so that Elenor could move on to the next order of business. Instead she tried to catch Bashir's gaze to offer him a smile.

She still felt a little dazed and as the proceedings continued, and she did her best to focus and pay attention.

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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The Court was appropriately scandalized by Judiah’s choice of dress and Judiah’s kissing of Elenor. The Hayllain woman was sensual and sexual being, a woman after Shadya’s own heart. But the Pruulian sense of propriety and privacy would always chafe against Judiah’s sensual and expressive nature. The Sabbah would always see Judiah as a whore and nothing more, even though there was so much more to the other woman than they knew. Elenor was ruffling feathers with her choices and Shadya looked around the Court to see who stood by their Queen’s choices and who grit and ground their teeth.

Elenor told Judiah and Michael that they had one year to learn the ways of the Sabbah and then stand for admittance to the Clan or to step down from their positions. Shadya knew that both would accept their Queen’s command, but she resolved silently to assist Judiah in any way she could. Judiah al-Sabbah rolled off the tongue like silk and Shadya wanted to end the discrimination against the Hayllian woman bringing her into the fold completely. When both Judiah and Michael accepted, Shadya leaned against the wall and listened as Elenor made changes to her Court. While Shadya didn’t believe she was needed, she stayed to support her Queen and learn whom she’d be working with in the future.

She watched as Malika was called forth to serve under Prince Matin. The new Steward was a source of conflicted feelings for Shadya. On one hand, he was her bond-brother. On the other hand, he hated her other bond-brother and uncle, the soon-to-be former Voice of the Sabbah. Shadya wondered if Matin had pushed Elenor to select someone else in Fin’s absence. The thought angered the Black Widow, but she pushed that down to focus on the rest of the gathering.

The introduction of Adel cut Shadya deep. She knew that Elenor was rebuilding her Court in the wake of the sandworm attacks, but it felt like the world was just leaving Amira behind without looking back. Shadya wanted to honor her older sister, but it felt at times like she was the only person who remembered that she’d lived. Was that really enough?

Adel wasn’t Shadya’s enemy. She needed to make contact with the High Priest as Elenor commanded. That would be harder to do with more eyes upon him, but Shadya would make a way.

Her oblique challenge to Shira forced Shadya to stifle a snicker. Not because Elenor wasn’t capable of fury, but because it felt good to watch her Queen thumb her nose at the True Sabbah while they couldn’t do anything about it. She nearly cheered when Elenor announced that their puppet Queen would be joining the Court as a Ward, cutting Shira off at the knees. With Lord Danyal protecting the Wards, Shira would be a fool to try anything, but Black Widows were sneaky bitches who loved challenges. Shadya made no apologies for who she was.

Lady Shadya al-Sabbah, please attend.

Shadya heard her name, but didn’t realize that Elenor had called upon her until several people were looking in her direction. Oh shit. Did she miss a question? It would be humiliating to admit that she hadn’t been paying attention while their Queen was talking. Drawing herself up to her full height, Shadya walked quickly and directly to the dais to kneel before her Queen.

"For your service to me during my voyage and upon my return, I would make a request of you."

Whatever it was, Shadya would grant it. It didn’t matter the task or the difficulty, she would do what Elenor required because that was her duty. Fin had instilled that value in her. She would exemplify it if it was her last act in the world.

"Today I ask you to serve as interim Voice of Clan Sabbah until the day the Clan elects a new one…"

She’s asking me to replace Fin.

The realization hit Shadya like a sandstorm, leaving her reeling. Before this moment, she counted on her uncle to do as he did on the day of the Rains; drop down from the heavens with blades drawn, ready for battle. He’d always been there when the Sabbah needed him most. He’d always been there when Shadya needed him most. He’d promised to stand by her for the rest of her life. As long as he was Voice of the Sabbah, the door remained open for him to sweep in and save them all in the nick of time, like her personal hero.

I didn’t teach you and Amira to fight so that you could wait for me to save you.

So understanding that, will you serve?

I taught you to fight so that, one day, you could save yourselves.

The Sabbah needed a Voice and Fin had returned to Askavi, probably for the rest of her life. She couldn’t change that, but she could represent the Sabbah to the best of her ability. She would have to keep a civil tongue. She would have to learn some restraint and act as an example to others. Fin wasn’t coming home?

Fine. His part was done. She would save her clan.

Yes, my Lady. I will serve.” Shadya said.

I don't need a hero. I can save myself.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Cassius Decius stood at the edge of the crowd, feeling very out of place. He had been in his room, where he usually locked himself in, when Decima had pulled him out of bed. “They are making changes to the triangle, Cas. I heard Judiah is involved.” The Prince’s eyebrow went up, curious. Judiah and him were very similar, Hayllian, whores, entangled with people far more important than themselves. As the former slave began to wrestle with what to do now that his collar was off and the healing of his mind was going well, Judiah’s choices interested him. Because surely anything she could do, he could. Maybe. If it was not something that one had to have learned by being free throughout the decades. Cassius was beginning to realize more and more how little he knew how to take care of himself as a freed man.

Spying Shadya in the crowd, the Prince stepped up next to her, tentatively. He had not seen the Black Widow outside of their sessions and she knew so many intimate details about his life that it was rather…intimidating. Especially as he rather liked her. “Hello, Lady al-Sabbah. I hope it is okay if I watch by you.” He knew some of the Sabbah saw him either as what they called “long-lived scum” or as a Green Jeweled threat, so he didn’t want to stir up any trouble. Especially not for Judiah or Shadya.

All eyes soon turned to Judiah though and Cassius smiled. *A bit modest, don’t you think? Just wait until they see Mistress Judiah Vidanic if they are scandalized by this.* The thread carried itself to Judiah and Cassius wondered if maybe, one day, he could be a Consort too. Maybe…maybe for…for…the Prince clenched his teeth and felt dizzy as the cracks within his mind echoed off of each other, red eyes staring at him.

Moments later, the Queen called for Shadya. Eyes turned their way and Cassius froze, the attention of such a large crowd causing his mind to ache further. He slipped back into the crowd and then against the wall as Elenor made Shadya…something. He had never heard of a Voice, but it seemed rather important.

She deserved whatever it was. Cassius had met very few Black Widow’s in his life, but one of them had hurt him every chance she got. Someone who took all that same power, all that capacity for pain, and used it to heal instead, well, that was a feat in itself.

Offline Adileh al-Sabbah

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Adel's nervousness, prickling at the back of his neck and down his arms, was not forced or feigned. As far as nearly every person in this room knew, he had just barely forsworn his mother and aunt, and his true allegiance was somewhere on the spectrum between possibly still in league with them to undoubtedly part of a plan to eliminate Elenor. The True Sabbah sympathizers in the crowd, on the other hand, would see him as a traitor. Even if they guessed that he was here on Shira’s orders they probably wouldn't be willing to act on that hunch when it came down to it. If the buzzing tension in the air broke out into violence he would be seen as an enemy by both factions.

This was not somewhere that he wanted to be—not under the current circumstances—but his Lady had told him be here and he trusted her not to put him in danger without good reason.

Adel stood along one of the walls, as far from Adavera al-Jinan as he could reasonably manage, and tried to be unnoticeable as Elenor made her appointments. Most of them seemed reasonable enough, though he had to wonder what she could possibly have been thinking revealing Lady Vidanic’s appointment like this. Judiah was one of the few people who knew that Adel was Elenor’s and she had been a point of contact for him, and while the witch was decidedly un-Pruulian she had never struck him as someone who would openly defy the culture she had lived in for more than two years like this, and the timing of her entrance might have been intended to be theatrically dramatic but it felt more like a slap in the face to the rest of Elenor’s court, especially Bashir and Prince Dyslin. Was that Judiah’s intent, or was this simply a miscalculation? The friction in the room made Adel’s skin crawl even more and his fingers twitched with the desire to call in a blade, but he closed his eyes and focused on breathing. Even if this turned to violence, he would stay out of it except in defense of his Queen and those under her protection.

Elenor’s requirement that the two non-Pruulians in her Triangle join the Clan, whether planned or in reaction to Judiah’s appearance, settled the crowd. Adel started to relax when the meeting seemed to move on to lesser court appointments, then she said his name.

Lady Adileh al-Sabbah sounded wrong in his Queen’s voice and grated at him more than it ever had from anyone else, and he was uncomfortably aware of the attention of the room on him as he walked towards Elenor. The psychic scents of Blood in attendance washing over him with curiosity and suspicion and anger and surprise, and the faces and body language of Landen communicating the same emotions. From the center of the room, Matin’s eyes tracked him with a flat expression that Adel knew meant he was seething with anger, and Elenor’s face was serious.

Why was she doing this? His power, his ability to serve her most effectively, had always been in concealment and he had not expected that to change, but he approached the dais and knelt before her, his eyes locked on hers as she laid out his supposed infractions and presented a chance to prove himself. People had been watching him before, but now they would monitoring him even more closely. He couldn’t keep his cover if he didn’t send some information back to the True Sabbah, and now he would have to be so much more carefully to avoid putting himself, Elenor and their Clan in more danger than they were already in.

Elenor finished speaking and initiated a distaff thread, her eyes flickering as she sent her message.

*I want them to think me the fool they've always believed me to be, and I want everyone else to see they have an out if they feel trapped like Sarina did. This might limit how much information you get from Shira but it will also allow us to interact more and plan what information should reach her and when.  At the very least it means I have someone I trust in that high position instead of trusting a Priestess I do not know with it. Too many of them are siding with your mother and Azar.*

Adel lowered his head for a moment, as if contemplating his options, then looked up at her again. His voice quivered—the threat in her offer would have been intimidating wherever his loyalties were–but it was loud enough for the room to hear.

“My Lady. I did not know Lady Amira well, but she was a good Priestess and above all a kind person who I am honored to have counted among my sisters. I vow to serve you with complete loyalty, and I only hope that I may do so as well as my predecessor.”

Adel’s head spun as he stood and took his place alongside the rest of the court. He was the High Priest of his Clan, an agent among his Queen’s enemies, their spy in the Residence and now the provisional Court Priestess.

Secrets within secrets, a fragile construction of lies and truths that at any moment could crumble and crush him if he misstepped or looked away.

It would have been enough to make his faith waver, but his Queen’s trust in him had been enough for the past year.

It could be enough now.
Adel al-Sabbah

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Offline Sarina al-Sabbah

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Sarina was again in the throne room of Clan Sabbah for the second time in four days, but this time it was not in a relatively intimate meeting as an opponent or rival or supplicant or refugee or whatever the Hell she’d been when she had been summoned before Lady Eleanor Sabbah. No, this time she was a member of the Court as its second Ward, and its second Queen Ward. She almost wanted to laugh at that thought. Months ago, long before Shira al-Sabbah approached her tribe, she’d overheard conversations about the dearth of Queens in Clan Sabbah and speculations about how long it would be before the Kaid were approached. Now...now there were three Queens of various ages in the same Clan and even in the same Court.

Today’s meeting was not in any way intimate and even the presence of Sarina’s new Bonded Lord Danyal didn’t make the young Queen more comfortable in this crowded, tense atmosphere. There were dozens, perhaps even more than one hundred, people here in this room and Sarina knew five...no seven...of them: Lady Sabbah, Lady Adavera, Sarina’s two Bonded Rasheed and Danyal, Sarina’s intended Prince Matin, Lord Bashir whom she’d met only briefly, and…Lady Adel - Sarina had not expected to see Adel here. The Queen wasn’t sure how she felt about that to be honest. The two young women had started to become...well maybe not friendly yet, but definitely heading in that direction.

The press of people was very uncomfortable as Lady Sabbah began to speak. Sarina’s attention was caught almost immediately by Lady Sabbah’s compliments to Prince Matin’s recent actions - her life was currently entwined with his after all, so naturally anything affecting him was bound to affect her as well. She was shocked when Lady Sabbah took his First Escort’s Ring away from him, immediately followed by a relief and an odd sense pride when Prince Matin was given the Steward’s Ring instead.

As the Clan Queen continued with her appointments Sarina made note of them, fixing names and faces in her mind, but most of her mental attention was on her worries about being here in this crowd, feeling exposed and vulnerable - not a feeling Sarina was used to experiencing or welcomed.

Like most of the room, Sarina’s attention was abruptly riveted by the entrance of Lady Judiah Vidanic. She’d heard….things about this woman, things that were...well, unkind would be putting it mildly but seeing the woman here and now...Sarina could understand the why of those unkind words, but Sarina refused to be like certain people she knew and judge others without knowing more than what appeared on the surface. Perhaps someday she would be able to meet Lady Vidanic properly and form her own opinion of the woman.

Sarina’s attention drifted again as she continued to worry at her thoughts of who might be dangerous in this room, whether they were a danger to Sarina because they supported Lady Sabbah and would consider the younger Queen to be a threat or they were a danger to Sarina because they were True Sabbah supporters who would fan Lady Shira’s flames and make it obvious to the Black Widow that Sarina was not the pliable tool she had been acting as.

Her attention was once more caught by Lady Sabbah’s voice as she called for Lady Adileh al-Sabbah - and didn’t that sound weird to Sarina. Part of her was elated by this appointment - she had hoped to get to know the Priestess better after all, but...well she was closely affiliated with the leaders of the True Sabbah. Sarina supposed Lady Sabbah must know something Sarina herself did not know, but still, it seemed to be...risky at best.

Lady Sabbah’s next words set fingers of icy chillness in Sarina’s mind. She wanted to close her eyes in despair, but prudence dictated otherwise. Instead, she straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin a little, and took a slight half-step forward. ”Thank you Lady Sabbah for welcoming me. I look forward to learning from and serving with you.”

Offline Michael Dyslin

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Elenor made her pronouncement, commanding that Lady Vidanic, and himself as well, study and prepare to undergo their trials, to become Pruulian, and ultimately, most importantly, to become Sabbah. Michael couldn't help but smile.

This thing, this thing his Queen commanded of him, he could do. He could excel and prove her trust in him worthwhile. He was not afraid of hard work, and he adored learning. His timeline would have been different, given the chance to dictate his own, than the one that she spoke but not enough so that it caused him any concern. He would simply have to apply himself more thoroughly. In what he considered more than fair trade, Elenor promised to try and get herself killed less frequently. For once, he truly believed her in this. She would try. She might not succeed. But she would try.

Elenor was right, however. This would necessitate stepping back almost entirely from the operations he had begun for Concord Interterritorial. Given the Wyrms though, he had already begun revising the plans for a much longer timeline, the sort of thing that his longer life span allowed him to do with ease and centuries of practice. The desert was impassable by caravans at the moment anyway, so there was not much more he could do there.

So, when she finished speaking, Michael simply turned his warm gaze upon her as he bowed low again. "My Lady, to obey you in this would be an Honor." He had no doubt of Judiah answering similarly. The Lady Vidanic was nothing if not ultimately practical, and this could only serve her well in the end, helping to keep her close to her beloved Queen's side.

He rose from his bow and turned to observe the crowd as Elenor made her next appointments. Malika did not surprise him. She had been a lifesaver and a Goddess-send while Elenor was unconscious. She was smart, efficient, and he'd watched her work with near Princely efficiency. Michael made the mental note to find her an actual Prince to learn a bit of that craft from. Craft-enforced contracting and such might well be beyond her ability, but there was, from his own experience he knew, something to be said for learning skills of the trade from the source.

His thoughts on that matter were snapped suddenly back into focus as Elenor spoke again, demanding the attention of Lady Adileh al-Sabbah. Michael wanted Elenor to get over her issue with the Priestesshood and that Caste as a whole, as much or more than the next member of her Court might. But... One of the so-called True Sabbah? He suppressed a growl.

 *Lady...* His fear for her safety, and questioning of her certainty was contained in that one thought to his Queen... but so was his willingness to trust her choice. Trust, but verify. It was all he could do. But he resolved in himself his stance then and there: Elenor might have said the woman's freedom would be forfeit should she step a toe out of line. In Michael's mind, he had already decided how he would kill her if she so much as breathed wrong in El's direction.

The naming of the wards came as no surprise to the Master of the Guard whatsoever, and made good sense. It mean that she could keep, with complete legitimacy, complete control not only of the two queens, but of who had access to them. He smiled at the wisdom of that choice.

When she called Shadya forward, the only surprise Michael felt was the requesting of her to step up as voice, rather than reaffirming her position as court seer. Her reasons were sound, but he felt the beginnings of something more forming. He didn't have all the information, but he felt for certain that there was something building, something his Queen was shaping into being. Something that he would need to understand soon, because it was going to make keeping her safe a living hell, he just knew it.