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* Plot Information for Tacea

Tensions are rising in Tacea after the destruction of their Territory Court at the hands of its Queen. Unable to continue their traditional cycle of succession because of accusations of treason, Tacea must find a Queen capable of uniting the land while building bridges to the world outside its borders.
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Author Topic: Crying wine, selling vinegar  (Read 194 times)

Description: Hinata

Offline Seung Corro

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Crying wine, selling vinegar
« on: Apr 16, 18, 01:11:56 AM »
Between Seung and Hinata, they were able to corral the elder matriarchs of each Clan and the Queens. They arranged the date for that evening, a dinner meeting with minimal fanfare. After all, the elders of each Clan had no way of knowing that the subject they came to discuss was not the appointment of the new Dragon Mother, a Shingetsu Queen. Nor would there have been much celebration of such an appointment, if one could even be made. Too many had died in Ishiyo's attack. Too many were mourning. Seung, who had not been present for the massacre, whose family had not served in the Court, watched the mourners and he felt...

Very little.

As a male, his duty was to see to the minor details of the dinner. As the regent--though his new role was not yet known outside of the little cabal that was Hinata and Seung--it was his duty to plan the dinner. But the Dowager Dragon had been helpful in that regard, leaving Seung with the time to compose his thoughts.

He did not want to rule Tacea. He wanted to guide the women who ruled Tacea, and that sincerely, for the Territory took precedence over everything else. More than the Hanwa, more than the Ariake, more than any single clan, Tacea had to be protected. Letting the strain between Izayoi and Shingetsu grow any more than it already had would be tantamount to firing the first shot of a new civil war himself. And there was no one as old as he, as experienced in service at every side of the Triangle as he, in the entire Territory. He had been the Steward for both Yuki and Ishiyo. He was the best option of a field of terrible options.

So he told himself. He still doubted.

The elders gathered as the dinner hour approached. Though they brought escorts, none of the males followed their matriarchs into the dining room. Seung would be the only man in the room, the youngest on his face but the oldest by far. He greeted each woman politely. Yuina no Ariake, Queen of the Ariake Clan, arrived first. One of her elder advisors was known to Seung: Kotone, a Healer, was the daughter of Koyomi's younger sister. They were very nearly kin; Kotone had grown up with Sayaka as her Healer mentor. He spent a moment listening to the younger woman's gentle jibing. Kotone had always been a sweet woman, and he would be sorry to see her pass when she went. How old was she now? Nearly ninety.

The Kagen contingent had no Queen, though Hinata said that they would likely raise Yumi no Kagen to the Clan Seat once the Clan mourned Naruko. Their elders were unfamiliar to him; he wondered if any of them were Erika no Kagen's daughters or granddaughters. Would Toyani be able to force their apologies as she had promised in Dena Nehele? If nothing else, he had secured that apology from her.

The Izayoi sent a single matriarch, whose name Seung knew; the woman had no daughters and no sons at the Territory Court or the Clan Court, and so was not caught up in the mourning that the rest of the Clan was currently ensconced in.

Though the dinner hour had passed, and with it the time of their meeting, there was no sign of the Shingetsu contingent. He waited the proper amount of time, and then asked the bare-bones service crew to let him know when they arrived or if they wrote ahead. As the elders and Queens of Tacea ate and spoke in whispers of the horrific act that this palace had been host to, Seung found himself watching the door, wondering...

Finally, as tea was served, a page opened the door and passed Seung a note. He read it and tucked it politely up his sleeve. "Takara no Shingetsu was assassinated on the road," he said, "and so the delegation from the Shingetsu was required to split. They will join us in little more than half an hour."

When that half hour had passed and the Shingetsu matriarchs--tired, worn, wearing fresh clothes without blood spatter--seated as far down the table from the Izayoi as they could be, he gathered his courage. Seung took a deep breath and looked to Hinata where she was seated at the head of the table. She nodded, a barely perceptible dip of her chin.

He began: "It is the opinion of Lady Hinata no Kagen, Satomi-sama, and myself that Ishiyo no Izayoi's mind was tampered with--"

the lone Izayoi matriarch interrupted, thrusting a pointed finger at the Shingetsu: "By them!--"

"--By parties unknown," Seung continued, projecting his voice over the protest from the Shingetsu. "I will, in my capacity as the highest-ranking living member of the Territory Court, investigate what happened. If there has been treason, rest assured I shall find it. I would humbly request your cooperation with my inquiries into this horrible tragedy. In the meantime, we must address the question of who shall rule."

He looked to Hinata again, willing her to take over the meeting as they had planned. He couldn't be the one to put forth their plan for the regency. In the silence, the Izayoi matriarch snapped, "Lady Atsuko no Izayoi will not support a Shingetsu Dragon Queen. It's out of the question. They have been committing seditious acts against us for years, Prince Corro! One of their own killed one of ours and then before he was to stand for his actions they suborned our guards and snuck him out like dishonorable rats."

"Lady Natsuhana could be convinced to return," ventured the younger Ariake matriarch: "She wears the Ebon Gray, and is familiar with working with Prince Corro; if it weren't for the volcanoes, she would still be here ruling. There's been no further eruptions. Perhaps she found something and simply hasn't had time to return yet."

The Shingetsu: "Lady Takara was just murdered on the road, probably by the Izayoi in some kind of half-baked revenge plot--"

It was a mess. They'd known it would be, going in, but Seung had overestimated how helpful the short nap he'd taken would be. All the shouting was quickly turning overwhelming. "Be that as it may," he said, "Lady Kagen has suggested, and I have agreed, upon an alternate plan. If you would kindly let her speak."

Offline Hinata no Kagen

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Re: Crying wine, selling vinegar
« Reply #1 on: Apr 16, 18, 02:42:06 AM »
The dinner hour had been pleasant enough, all things considered. Of which there were many things to be considered that could've allowed it to go south incredibly quickly. It was perhaps quieter than a normal, pre-meeting dinner and tea would've been, but the freshness of Ishiyo no Izayoi's court massacre still weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of most in attendance, so it set the tone by default.

Hinata herself had eaten some and enjoyed the tea service, but much of the hour and change was spent making her own rounds to the clan Queens and their retinues, as well as going over her portion of the speech at the meeting in her head many times over. She knew every member in attendance in some capacity or another, so she was able to exchange kind words with most of them, condolences mutually exchanged for the losses everyone had suffered. Even the Izayoi representative that had been sent, Hinata had been genial and polite despite what chaos their Queen had caused that day. She could've been bitter and blamed them, she had every reason to be angry and demand Blood Prices for both her son and granddaughter, but that was not her way - it never had been.

Dinner, however, had been where the peace amidst everyone seemed to cease.

Although she and Seung had anticipated this in its entirety. So even while voices were raised, fingers pointed and arguments posed, the Dowager Dragon, the unifier of an entire people after a hundred-and-fifty years of war simply sat patiently at the head of the table. She listened diligently, taking in everyone's posed statements, adjusting her own words in her head until the moment Seung finally and firmly requested everyone else fall silent once more.

It reminded her much of the war times as she stood up from her seat, every pair of eyes in the room affixed onto her and awaiting what she had to say. Granted, she was no longer the youthful age of 20s or 30s but the respect she managed to command was no less so than during those times and all that proceeded during her rule. Not to mention, this was arguable as delicate of a situation as those times, one wrong word or slip-up could easily lead to another war in an instant, any of the representatives opting to not cooperate and storm out.

She simply hoped she hadn't lost her touch and it didn't come to any of that.

Hinata cleared her throat and offered Seung a thankful nod before proceeding, already the delicate tendrils of Mediation Craft began to weave across the room, innately reminding everyone that these were peace talks, that everything decided in this room was for the betterment of everyone's home. She had it down to a subtle art many, many years ago and that skill had not ceased in all the time since.

"The situation is a precarious one, as you are all aware of," the Queen began calmly. "As Prince Corro has stated, I have weighed all the options, gone over every angle myself as well as with Prince Corro and Satomi-sama and have come to what I believe is the most fair and logical solution at the present moment. At this time, the cycle amidst our four Clans will be put on hold instead of moving forward with the Shingetsu's heir apparent."

There were unsatisfied expressions and murmurs (especially from the Shingetsu delegation, though the lone Izayoi looked exceptionally smug), but nobody dared to say anything outright just yet, so she took that as a good sign to continue. "Instead, an interregnum will be instated temporarily. A neutral ruler will step up while a suitable Queen successor is found to serve as Dragon Mother."

It was at this point that those from the Kagen seemed to light up in their expressions, clearly eager in their assumption that Hinata would be announcing herself as this interim ruler and practically ready to jump up with their support for it. Those looks turned from excited to entirely 'Hinata are you senile? have you literally gone out of your mind in your old age?' in nature when she spoke next.

"I am of the opinion that said ruler should be Prince Seung Corro. He has lived amidst our people for centuries and has no bias towards any clan in particular, having served as Steward for both Yuki Natsuhana and Ishiyo no Izayoi, as well as having experience in the other sides of the Triangle. He --"

"-- This is absolutely ridiculous," finally interrupted one of the Shingetsu, her tone level but clearly incensed as she stood. "There are numerous qualified Queens and we have done our due diligence in waiting for our turn within the cycle. Our candidate has already begun forming her court and was ready to ascend. She --"

"Well of course she is, when her clan has had the foresight to anticipate her sudden need for said ascension," snapped the Izayoi, her tone acidic and mocking.

"Coming from you? Whose clan has obviously just assassinated Takara before she was even able to see one of her own rise to the great honor of Dragon Mother? How dare you --" the Shingetsu began, but was swiftly cut off by Hinata's now Craft-amplified voice.

"That is enough." The usually peaceful mien of Hinata no Kagen was replaced with something surprisingly more stern, a silent reminder to those who would think to underestimate the tenacity she possessed even after all these years. Between her jarring interruption and an increase in the amount of Craft she was expending to try and smooth over the tempers threatening to flare in the room, both Shingetsu and Izayoi returned to their seats, albeit their expectant looks had turned more into glares.

"Takara no Shingetsu was a tried and true believer of justice and pacifism and one of my many contemporaries. Her loss is tragic, especially in this much-needed time, but do you really believe she would allow your candidate to rise to the throne when your clan's reputation is currently in question? Or would she more reasonably encourage the ongoing investigation and contently wait for the name of her people to be cleared so the honor of her fellow Queen is not besmirched and poisoned by suspicion from the Izayoi in a permanent capacity?"

Murmurs from the clan's delegation before they relaxed again in their seats, a couple of agreeing nods being given.

"Furthermore, should the investigation proceed and the Shingetsu are found innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt, then Prince Corro will step down immediately and your candidate will be permitted to ascend as planned, in full confidence no less, the cycle resumed from its standstill. Should the Shingetsu be found guilty? Then the successor Queen will rule in full and the cycle will resume only after her tenure is up as penance for their clan's transgressions against the Izayoi.

This,"
she paused, gesturing to the irritable collection of women around the room, "is precisely why the proposition has been made in this manner. Anything less than a truly neutral party will cause the clans to fall into chaos and, by extension, probably another war. The cycle cannot properly move forward at this time, nor can it move backwards without causing that same unrest." A pointed glance to her own clan members who looked between each other in some silence for a moment, before she turned her attention respectfully to the Ariake.

"Even Yuki, as capable as she is, would be a source of contention if she were to come back and reclaim the throne right now. Furthermore, as I understand it, her duties in Shalador have not yet concluded and she is unavailable in the immediate present. Hence Prince Corro returning at my request instead."

Offline Seung Corro

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Re: Crying wine, selling vinegar
« Reply #2 on: Apr 16, 18, 05:23:53 AM »
Seung didn't squirm beneath the shocked and disbelieving looks of the matriarchs. Even the sneers of the Shingetsu didn't touch him. He kept his thoughts on leashing his instinctive rage at the uncouth women interrupting his Queen, reminding himself that Hinata no Kagen had weathered worse discussions than this without him in her seventy years of life. There was no need for him to leap to her defense, and it would hurt her position at the head of the table if he did. A Dragon Queen, even a dowager, had no need for the fangs of a male. He kept his hands folded on the table before him, fingers laced together, stone-faced until it was his time to speak once more.

"I have no desire to rule," he said, bluntly. There was a time and a place for courtly equivocation and this was not it. His sincerity rang out on a psychic level, unconsciously, permeating the space below Hinata's mediation Craft. "I cannot hold the throne for any appreciable length of time and I do not wish to. Should you agree to this interregnum, honored ladies, I intend to census the Queens for one who will earn the approval of all of our Clan Queens." He looked to Kotone and Yuina, who had been oddly quiet. Then back to the Shingetsu and the Izayoi, who at least were no longer shouting at each other. Finally, to the Kagen representatives, where his gaze cooled slightly.

He wanted to fidget. Instead he held very still. "If there was another way, one which would function as well or better than this, we would take it," he said. "But my reputation, and Lady Kagen's, will be reassuring to the vast majority of our population in a time beset by uncertainty. What has happened was a great tragedy on many sides, and maintaining any semblance of continuity will be best for the Territory."

Kotone leaned back and away from the table. "All this chatter! Hinata, you old libertine, say what you mean, won't you? You want to see a man on the throne just to prove he can do it! It's risky, but I like that about you. Ballsy." Seung raised his eyebrows. The room descended into shocked silence for a long, long moment until Kotone laughed. "The Ariake will support it--yes, Yuina, we will. If nothing else, our Yuki has Shingetsu blood too. Marry her to an Izayoi and make her Consort a Kagen. A Queen for all of us, yes?"

Seung hadn't considered that, but it hardly mattered. "We won't support any Shingetsu Queen," repeated the Izayoi matriarch heatedly.

"And the Shingetsu will not stand for the cycle being set back to the Ariake clan once more," said the Shingetsu matriarch.

With an internal sigh, Seung said, "And so it will not, not without your agreement. Until the Queens and the Matriarchs can all agree on a candidate Queen, one whose rule will be untouched by scandal and whose star can rise in uncontested purity of purpose, I will defend our homeland--I, the only person in this room or indeed present in this Territory who has ever seen the mainland." He leaned forward. "You were willing to support me in taking control of the protection of our borders and our delegates. Let me protect us from another war between sisters." Every woman at that table had lived through the war. They had all lost someone, seen how easily it could go wrong.

It was a gamble. But: Kotone shrugged, and said, "We're already convinced."

The Shingetsu said, "Then we'll reconvene when Prince Corro's investigation finds our Clan innocent of wrongdoing to discuss the enthronement of our Lady. Until then, he can stand guard over the throne."

"We'll reconvene to discuss the return of the Kagens to the throne, no doubt," muttered the Izayoi matriarch. "But I'll not speak against this interregnum. We cannot return to that bloody war."

There was a long hesitation from the Kagen. The eldest of them, who appeared to be the leader, was looking at Hinata. "Prince Corro is neutral to every clan but our own," she said, carefully. "There is long-established enmity between our peoples, Hinata-sama. It would ease the concerns of our people if a Kagen were to be seen in some sort of... position of guidance. Prince Corro has ample experience in service, but he has never outright ruled... and the people of Tacea know you, and it would be inappropriate for Prince Corro to appear anywhere without someone to escort."

Honestly, Seung was impressed by how well Hinata had predicted the stumbling blocks. He hadn't done too shabbily himself, but still. This one fell to Hinata to answer.

Offline Hinata no Kagen

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Re: Crying wine, selling vinegar
« Reply #3 on: Apr 16, 18, 08:50:04 AM »
Hinata fell silent after she'd spoken her piece, eyes shifting from each additional speaker in kind as they took assorted turns throughout. Seung, her Warlord Prince, was admirable in both professionalism and bearing, it took some effort on her part not to beam like the very proud Queen she was at that moment, but blessedly she refrained.

Kotone... Kotone 'I've lived twenty more years than you and I have a great-grandson now' no Ariake. Hmph. Her (notably wrong and tactless, thank you very much) commentary had earned a sharply-arched eyebrow during the lull of silence, but even so there was perhaps a trace of humor in Hinata's gaze though she didn't dignify it with a verbal response. She sure would miss the old Healer whenever the Darkness saw fit to take her back - she would never admit that aloud, of course. Her backup idea held some merit should this particular plan fall through, but she wasn't going to tell that to the snarky crone, either.

Izayoi, Shingetsu, Seung again... absently she wondered just when the circling diatribe would come to a close, and she got her wish only moments later. Kotone spoke for Yuina first, offering Clan Ariake's consent to move forward with the interregnum, followed by Shingetsu, Izayoi (though the snide remark did not escape Hinata's notice and she did cast a glare in that direction), finally returning to Kagen, her own people. Surely they'd agree without a fuss, or so she hoped.

That did not happen. Because of course it wouldn't; that'd be asking far too much, apparently.

She listened to the elder's concerns and nodded once. It wasn't an unreasonable request by any means, and her reasons for it were sound. Hinata had heard of the grievances caused by Erika no Kagen all those years ago and for the most part she herself had attempted to make amends with those affected. Minus one, elusive, long-lived Warlord Prince who she had never gotten the chance to meet face-to-face until recently. Making a mental note of the apology she owed her newest male once things had calmed down and they could breathe, that got tucked away for the moment so the Queen could address the matter in question. "The subtleties of your request do not elude me, however neither does the logic.

If it would, in fact, appease you and the rest of our clan then I have no qualms officially exiting my stint of retirement and offering myself in such a capacity to Prince Corro. He will have someone to escort, as tradition dictates, as well as someone with the ruling experience and ability to navigate Tacea's political waters should he require such guidance all in one figure. Something that I suppose would be a mix of a First Escort and a political face, were this considered a traditional court. Does that suffice?"


There was an amused snort from somewhere in the room that sounded suspiciously like Kotone, but Hinata kept her gaze trained on the Kagen, awaiting the consensual nod that came a couple heartbeats after the question posed.

"Then it is settled," she concluded with inarguable finality. "We have come to an agreement on the matter and shall take the appropriate steps to see this plan through. You will all return to your clans and let them know what transpired here today. As standard, we will keep lines of communication readily available and open should either end have concerns or questions for the other. The results from the investigation of Clan Shingetsu will be relayed to you all when we have those answers and we will reconvene accordingly."

Papers were shuffled and filled out, contracts and agreements written up, signed by all relevant parties and both Hinata and Seung politely saw the congregation out of the dining hall and back into the main rooms where their escorts awaited them ever-patiently. When the last member had finally retreated out of both eye and earshot, Hinata unceremoniously shut the door once again with a flick of Craft before letting herself fall back into the nearest chair, a deep sigh that she had been holding for Mother Night knew how long allowed to finally escape.

"Well... all things considered, I'm inclined to believe that went much better than expected," Hinata offered, her expression inquisitive as she tilted her head to regard Seung. "What do you think? And would you please finally sit down? You're not a statue, much as you seem to emulate one."

Offline Seung Corro

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Re: Crying wine, selling vinegar
« Reply #4 on: Apr 17, 18, 03:34:31 AM »
All went as they had planned, though Hinata had been forced to take a greater-than-advisory position than they had planned. Seventy years was a long life for Taceans, Seung knew, and it was usually around this time that they began to decline; but as long as Hinata seemed vital and could be convinced to hold that place, he supposed they would have to make do. Any other bargain would have seen him saddled with someone whose motivations he trusted far less than the motivations of the Great Unifier.

He had been standing, hadn't he? He startled poorly as ever, and finally joined her at the vacated seat to her left hand. Though he supposed he technically outranked her now in the matter of who ruled, she still ruled him in a very real way. Like any Warlord Prince, the bond of a Queen was something that he craved. That it came from the Queen of the people he had despised for over a century didn't lessen his need for it. Yet--he wasn't going to reach for it. There could still be eyes in this room, and despite his willingness to work for her and respect for her, despite the bargain he had made with Toyani no Kagen for Yua no Ariake's safe return...

"We'll see," he said. "I'm very cautiously optimistic." No, he wasn't. There was nothing. A faint feeling of satisfaction but it drowned beneath the wave of exhaustion that did not, would not, and could never let up. The interregnum loomed before him like a tsunami wave. He was not equal to the task, but he would have to be. Gird your loins, he thought. You've done worse. He'd delivered news of his father's death to his mother four years after the fact. He'd held a Tang witch as she lay dying from the birth of his child. Long before Hinata's great-grandmother had even been a freckle in the eye of her great-grandmother, Seung had stood on killing fields and dominated them in Tacea's name.

This wasn't really so different, was it?

He leaned his elbows against the table, rubbed his palms together before him. "My daughter, the one that died with Koyomi no Ariake, was a Queen," he said to his scarred hands. "The assassin cut her out of Koyomi. For ransom. But... she was too valuable a rallying cry. A dynasty to unite Tacea beneath the Ariake and the Shingetsu."

No, he didn't really expect an answer from Hinata on the topic. He sighed. "I understand their concerns. But... I haven't done anything to the Kagen in one hundred and fifteen years. Why should I start today?"

Offline Hinata no Kagen

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Re: Crying wine, selling vinegar
« Reply #5 on: Apr 17, 18, 05:12:59 AM »
Hinata relaxed somewhat when Seung finally left his standing position and claimed the chair beside her. Somewhat. He was such a tense man, that much was glaringly obvious. Seeming to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and whatever else he harbored within him, and yet too stubborn to seek out reprieve from those who would readily give it to him. Naturally, they had barely just met in person and the Bond was an unexpected surprise, but that Bond was what made Seung Corro known to her.

Span of time regarding how long she'd known any of her men and women hardly mattered, Hinata no Kagen would go to Hell and back again many times over for those that were Hers and she could only hope he at least realized that. She wanted to be a safe harbor for him even when he appeared to be avoiding or resisting it. It was delicate, something that would surely take time to work past, but she had time enough (or so she hoped) to afford patience and understanding on the matter.

"Understandable," Hinata agreed, shifting around in her seat so it would allow her to better look at him more squarely while they converse. "I think there is little harm in some optimism regarding the matter. This was, after all, one of the more difficult parts of the path we've chosen. Getting all of them into agreement when past misgivings still so clearly push them apart was no small feat." Would they have more challenges ahead? Absolutely, but the Queen had been nothing if not a conqueror of dealings far more dangerous and complex throughout her lifetime, so she had faith that this too would come to pass in their favor.

Hinata fell oddly silent after that, not answering his statement for it was obviously both rhetorical as well as known to her. Stories of Kagen Queens in the past were an important part of any Queen's education should they wish to have ruled the clan - which she had. Though hearing it from the man who it had most directly affected was another matter, one which didn't show any mercy in how it tugged at her heartstrings then.

"It isn't strictly in regards to you, I urge you to dismiss any such thoughts should you have them. Victory of war makes just as many enemies as it puts down and the elders especially are merely used to checking their backs, their fronts and their sides. Old habits die hard and you are someone who will live fifty times any of us. They do not know you aside from the slight our clan committed against your Queen, they have no way to be sure you don't hold some grudge and are simply waiting for the most opportune moment to strike. So they take precautions and it has always been my job to try and assuage those fears."

Reaching over, Hinata took no hesitation in placing a hand above both of his own, hoping the gesture would get him to look at her rather than the table as well as relax him somewhat. "But I trust you and furthermore you are now mine. I will not allow their fears to remain as such, and if that apparently requires me to agree to their thinly-veiled requests of service once more, then for the betterment of my people on all fronts I will do just that.

Starting here and now with an apology to you personally. I am not of Erika no Kagen's line, but her story is not unfamiliar to me and it fills me with deep anger and regret that she took something so precious and important to you. If I was able to return Koyomi and your Queen daughter back to you, I would in but an instant, however neither of us are so naive to believe that is possible. But you have my word that I will personally do my best to make the tragedy up to you on behalf of myself and my clan as a whole. I do not wish for the feud between our families to continue, as much for your own sake as that of the Kagen clan. I am deeply sorry, Seung."

Offline Seung Corro

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Re: Crying wine, selling vinegar
« Reply #6 on: Apr 17, 18, 01:28:11 PM »
"It had occurred to me," he admitted. Why not just wait until the Kagen discounted him as a threat and then end the line? At first it had been the weariness of centuries of constant warring that stayed his hand, and now... it wasn't who he was. With Myung Hye's birth, with the births of Hae Jun and Haneul, he had begun to define himself more as a father than as a fighter. "But the Kagen seeing the repercussions of their actions was... ultimately unimportant." Though he didn't expect her to really understand that. She had been running the territory while raising her children... How old had she been upon assuming the throne? Twenty-eight? Young for a military victory, but then, by the standards of his people he had been young, too.

With her hand resting atop both of his, he did look at Hinata. The bond between male and Queen intensified with the physical contact, and he could feel her sorrow on his behalf. Hinata could have crushed the remaining Clans and instated a dynasty, and she had not. The Hanwa, perhaps the least martial of anyone in Tacea, would not have fought her if she had simply wiped out the Shingetsu, the Ariake, and the Izayoi. But she hadn't. Despite her origins, she was not a war Queen. Her legacy would be in peace.

"Thank you," he said, because he could think of nothing else. The hours were growing late, and he had a great deal to do in the morning. A memorial for the Territory slain to arrange. A meeting with Reiko no Mori to ensure the Black Immortal would not oppose their plan.

The contract he had signed with the elders of the clans bound him to service without the benefit of a traditional Court. To ensure that his rule could not continue for more than five years, he'd agreed that he would not form the Triangle and Circles that assisted a Queen in her work. Though her duties would mirror those of the First Escort, Hinata's role was that of an advisor. It was crippling in more ways than one: without a Court, there was no Master of the Guard. The Master of the Guard was an important role, now more than ever with the borders open...

He had an idea on how to make that work. Seung needed time to formulate a plan, and strong candidates for the leadership roles. Luckily, long life in a short-lived Territory left Seung with no lack of liquid funds. Some of his investments had gone down with much of Kaesong, but the most profitable had always been on the mainland, and he'd paid a certain merchant house well to keep the numbers growing. He could instate it on his own, give this Territory Guard a writ of service from his hand and Hinata's...

It should have excited him, the opportunity to serve Tacea, to create something of a legacy while he was still alive. "If there is nothing else, you should retire," he said. "It grows late."

 

 

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