Private Tales For What Do We Bleed?

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Lyssia D'avore

Lady Fae
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Pain.

It flowed through her frail body in waves, originating at the wrists. Bound, bound by iron of all things, and the cursed metal burned her, and sent its waves of agony weaving through flesh that had already been through quite enough of recent. She could barely think through her suffering, barely see beyond the dimness of agony.

Darkness all around; another night had fallen. Overhead, the stars showed in patches as the clouds scudded across the heavens, and somewhere distant thunder growled low. Not here, though. Crickets chirruped in the undergrowth, mosquitoes humming around her head. They did not light upon her skin to feed, for her blood would not nourish them in the same way that the other prisoners' would. The scent of unwashed body hung in the air, of sour sweat and sharp blood, and of other odors even less pleasant than that.

Lyssia hung by her wrists from bracelets and chains of pure iron. Those had been hung on a spike hammered into a tree high enough that she could not sit, let alone lie down. And so, she hung from her restraints as waves of nausea rolled through her and blood slowly trickled from the abrasions on her wrists. Their captors were not interested in being kind and, if truth were to be told, probably uninterested in delivering their captives in anything remotely resembling good condition. At least they didn't beat her; the iron made any further abuse completely unecessary, sapping her strength away as surely as starving her would have.

She could just make out another shape nearby, a mound of shadow only barely distinguished from the surrounding gloom by the faint light of a campfire some fifty yards away. Somewhere near to hand and as yet unseen, a sentry stood guard over the prize they had works so hard to capture, indifferent to the suffering so long as it brought a good price.

Lyssia shuddered, dirty dress shivering on her scrawny frame...

...no alarum, only the sweet embrace of darkness in a room bordering on chilly. Three months since their flight from the capitol, and with little by way of progress in solving the problem of the impending coup, being so comfortable and at ease seemed a crime in and of itself. Elijah's comforting presence - and she did not know what to think of that - had brought with it a measure of security she had seldom enjoyed in the most recent years. Even so, even with the handful of names they had managed to gather, even with days of little else to do but think of a solution to the problem...

...they had managed nothing. Ki'onte still remained seated like a spider in her web, the Dynast trapped in the threads without even realizing it. And those threads comprised of portions of the army itself, other noble houses, commoners and merchants, and outside interests that all had a stake in overturning the current order. Such were what coups were for - to secure profits for the conspirators, and damn the cost to anyone else.

A shadow, moving in the austere room. She only just caught sight of it as she was preparing to close her eyes, and would have thought little more of it than a trick of the light had not a piercing shriek cut through the night...


She lifted her weary head and cast her eyes fire-ward. There were not many in this particular party, a handful of picked men and women - mostly women - who were all of top-notch quality in their chosen work. Bounty hunters, sell-swords, assassins...it did not matter to the one who sat in a camp chair looking into the fire, settled into that chair as primly as any queen. Occasionally, the woman in question would cast a dark look in the direction of the captives, and one in particular.

At least this time she was not the object of direst scorn. The fellow that megawatt glare was directed at was an unpleasant enough fellow in his own right, and had seldom given Lyssia more than two words strung together in the three days since her capture. The young sidhe tried to shift her position to look for the sentry, but it only brought with it a wave of agony and darkness, and for a moment she went limp...

...and recalled the sound of fighting, intense, in the little fortress on the border to Oban. With only a dozen or two soldiers of the Dynasty present in this distant outpost at any given time, it was unlikely to be more than a raid or...or perhaps...

A hand tried to cover her mouth even as she sat upright, and her cry of surprise was mirrored by the cry of pain as something cold and alien touched her skin. It burned, but the assailant had not anticipated their mark being conscious; she lashed out with a hand and struck something hard, and the assailant cursed and dropped the iron. The pain went away, as she scrambled off the bad and took off running, dressed in little more than a linen shift. Vehement cursing behind her...


She came to again, any sense of elapsed time lost. Still dark, still night, the sound of night creatures continuing on in their sonorous multitude. Someone moved near a tree within her line of sight, shifting their position to get more comfortable, before settling back. The acrid scent of smoke wafted across her, and the faint light of someone puffing at a pipe in the darkness.

Where are you, Elijah? Safety and comfort and a growing sense of...something, well...they teetered there, a flame of hope that had been guttering for a day now. She dared not think what would happen to her when she reached the capitol; torture at the least, for what she knew, before they simply snuffed her out.

Why was it she was more concerned about Elijah, then? When her own life was in danger but his...his was unknown. Dead? Alive? Hurt?

Alone in the darkness with a captor and a man who clearly thought less of her than a pile of horse manure, she was left to wonder that to herself, mind circling round that and her eventual fate.
 

Elliot Aldmar

Dornoch's Most Wanted Man
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DAYS AGO


They had no name. Not yet. Or perhaps they didn't need one at all. They were the free men of Dornoch, the free women of Oban, and in common cause were they bound together. By necessity they were few, for the plan they all wished to see brought to fruition required conviction and loyalty above all. Many were those who would have otherwise joined but lacked the will to see the plan through, even though the relentless march of time had proven it to be the only remedy left available.

Violence. This was the remedy for the ailing people left behind by the free men and the free women. Only violence on a grand scale was strong enough to destroy the enduring cage into which countless men and women became victim and perpetrator alike.

The journey had just begun. And each step needed either to be careful...

...or a calculated risk.

Before the gathered free men and free women in the cabin, Elliot said, "We're going to toss a bone to the she-hound. Keep her busy."

Protests. Doubt, as to whether this was the best course of action.

"She won't kill me. She'll want to, but she won't."

Not if he made himself "available" for capture. Gloria wanted that public execution in the middle of Dornoch, the recognition for her efforts, the validation from the Dynasty, that sweet taste of glory. She suckled on the teat of Dornoch from birth, and so she would until death. She was a tool and happy to be one, a willing part of the baleful tapestry that was the oppression pervasive throughout Dornoch, and in so being she could disguise the failings of her character in her devotion to a system built on the crushing of those beneath her and call it virtue.

"This is only going to work once. So our eyes and ears in Dornoch will have to make the most of it."

The free men, the free women, all of them asked how he planned to escape. Because, surely, if Gloria took him all the way to Dornoch, it would be over.

And at this, Elliot just smiled.

* * * * *

NIGHT EN ROUTE


Elliot sat cross-legged on the ground, stripped down to solely his trousers and the irons which clamped his ankles together and his wrists behind his back. A thick chain ran between himself and four other men, binding them all together such that one of them could not go anywhere without the other four. From what Elliot knew, the other four men were petty criminals and outlaws, wanted by Dornoch but not nearly as much as himself or the redhead. At least two of the men were unlucky in that Elliot had specifically chosen to be in their company at the roadhouse in which Gloria's coalition launched their assault. An unexpected prize in the bunch--Gloria must have been thrilled.

Thrilled, if her smug attitude over the past days of travel was any indication. She let her allies in her coalition string the redhead up from a tree, but Elliot she preferred to keep low to the ground. Though she didn't engage in it herself, she watched with crossed arms and smirking satisfaction whenever any of the women decided to give him a sharp kick to the ribs, to the face, or to the balls. She liked to stand over him. Look down on him. Gloat from her position on high.

And Elliot took it all in silence. He said not a word in retort. He didn't need to. While the sheep-dog was away, the wolves dressed in sheep's clothing were sneaking into the flock.

Still.

The day would come when he could finally slip a knife between her ribs, or across her throat. He need only be patient.

Gloria had retired into her carriage for the night. The campfire had been snuffed out, the hour was late and the darkness was thick. Every now and again Elliot could hear the buzzing of a mosquito sharply rising in pitch and loudness as it flew close to his ear and then away. The posted nightwatch stood about the campsite, little more than vague silhouettes to Elliot--perhaps these were the full-blooded dark elves that were a part of Gloria's coalition. There were three that Elliot counted: two women, one man. And it was the man that earned Elliot's utter contempt. Gloria treated this dark elven assassin as she did every other man, and he dutifully went about his tasks regardless, submitting his face willfully to be stepped on by her boot. It was pathetic, truly, and there was nothing more so in all the world. If Elliot had the choice of whom to kill, one and only one, Gloria or the unnamed male dark elf, he would without hesitation choose the dark elven man. Such a wretched creature did more damage than a person like Gloria, for in his example would he sway the young, the unlearned, those unmolded by experience or proper instruction to follow him into obsequious bondage. That dark elven man stamped on the potential fledgling embers of freedom before they could catch fire and alight an ethic that could not be smothered, damning those around him to be chained with him.

Then there were those like Gloria.

And the redhead, Lyssia, who hung in irons from a nearby tree.

Only one of those two had gotten some small portion of what they deserved.

Elliot sat on the ground, head bowed in what looked like sleep but was at present mindful contemplation. He was not without good company, came the thought in his nightly meditation. Not so common a cause they shared, but they were nevertheless bound together.

Lyssia D'avore
 

Elijah

Captain of the Pegasi
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"I'll ask you one more time..."

* * *
Elijah was used to taking orders he didn't agree with. He had served in the Dynast's army since he was 18 years old and had commanders whom he would have followed into the maws of death and those he was glad to see go. No matter which he had had, he had always carried out his orders without opening his mouth to voice his own opinions. That wasn't what soldiers were paid to do.

But Lyssia hadn't paid him.

"This is a terrible idea," he muttered not for the first time as he patted Gypsy's neck in a reluctant farewell. She, along with the rest of their rag-tag team, would stay in the camp and await further instructions. It was only himself and two others who would accompany Lyssia on her fool quest into Oban through the final outpost. The deep-seated hatred of Dornoch's natural enemy had not left him even when he had found himself among the list of enemies Dornoch considered itself to have. He cast his eyes to the sky once more in the search of any of the Griffins who might snatch Gypsy from the sky and use as a lunchtime snack, then with a few harsh words demanding his mount be looked after, followed after Lyssia in a foul mood. It was a simple mission and he could understand her thinking after months of no luck with letters but that didn't mean he had to like, nor trust, it.

As soon as he had seen Elliot in that inn where Lyssia's contact had planned to meet them to lead them into Oban proper, Elijah had known everything was going to go south. He should have taken her out right then and there. He should have thrown her over his shoulder no matter her sharp words and accusations of cowardice. He should have...

* * *
"I'll ask you one last time, Captain," the woman in front of him purred, her hand fisting in his hair to yank his head back and force him to look up into those fire-filled eyes. "What were you doing in Teteht? Who were you meeting?"

Elijah spat blood at her feet causing her to grimace and let him go, returning to the table where her assortment of favourite devices sat. During the days as they marched the box they crammed him into was almost a comfort. At least there wasn't pain inside his cramped quarters. It was when night fell and he was hurled out and dangled in Gloria's tent that the pain begun again along with the endless questions. He was certain it was only the fact those higher than her wanted their turn at his hide that kept her from killing him outright.

"It might even be admirable, your loyalty to this woman, if you did not taint Samantha's memory by giving it to a traitor."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

Lady Fae
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Acid in the veins.

After enough time had passed - days or weeks or years, it was difficult to tell - it became easier to bear the agony. Mostly. A little, at least. Unlike Elijah, whom she was unaware shared a similar fate to herself, the wretched woman that headed this little excursion did not bother to speak to her at all. No words exchanged, no questions asked, no accusations leveled. After all, she was already guilty in Gloria's mind. She had been guilty before ever this whole sordid chain of events had come to pass.

Two years ago, in fact. When her mother and father were both slain, and she was cast onto the street to be worse than a beggar, less than the common criminals and less than even the men that everyone looked down upon for some reason.

That had never been her opinion. People like Gloria certainly existed within Erdeniin, certainly plenty of them...but she had never seen herself as better than men. No, her attitude had just been in being better than the common class of citizen period, male or female either way. Oh, how it had stung to be cast down through no fault of her own. And the trip down had never stopped, only grown more foul and painful and humiliating with every passing month, with every passing week.

Bedraggled and pained, the diminutive redhead looked up through the curtain of her own ruddy hair, and surveyed the surroundings. The one guard she could still see, though he had not moved in some time. Maybe she could try to get herself free again...

..and opening to the Prim, a trickle of sweet power. There was something that was...off with it, some sicklt taint that threaded through all of it. Lyssia was not familiar with it, and its presence made her feel sick to her stomach. For a moment she did nothing but hold that tainted flow; even soured as it was, it was still sweet enough to call to her.

It would have been wiser to hold it. Instead, she tried to turn that power to the iron chains that bound her, and with the the touch of that fae power to the fetters that held her, there was an explosion of pain. The mewl that escaped her lips might have twisted Gloria's lips in glee, but that worthy was otherwise occupied elsewhere.

Panting, wanting to throw up, the girl had little choice but to hang there. No strength, no magic, and above all else...no hope. Not for the first time, she considered the possibility that the untoward elements within Dornoch might finally have won. The elements that doubtless sided with Gloria and her twisted view of the world.

In the woods, oblivious to the thoughts inside the little fae's head, eyes watched on.
 

Elliot Aldmar

Dornoch's Most Wanted Man
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"What happened?"

Elliot stood before his mother Athena Aldmar battered and bruised, caked blood around his nose and his lips. He was eight years old and half her height. She looked down at him, arms at her sides, face impassive instead of alarmed. She was more a stern teacher in that moment than a worried parent.

"I fought back," Elliot said. His eyes were rimmed with angry, bitter tears.

"And?" Still she looked down, her eyes peering from behind her raised nose.

"There were too many," Elliot admitted, tone laden with shame. "I punched that girl, the big one--"

"The surly one," Athena observed dryly.

Elliot nodded. Continued, "And then her friends called in the boys. There...there were just too many." Elliot bit his lower lip, and his brow curled in dismay. "Why do we have to live here, Mom? You told me of those other places. Here I just..." A shrug, heavy with despair, "...suffer."

Athena slowly descended down to his level. Crouching. And for a moment Elliot feared that she might slap him again.

But she did not.

She drew him in close. Hugged him dearly. Cradled the back of his head and rubbed his back. Elliot was shocked by the tenderness of the moment. From his mother, it was uncharacteristic. She wasn't like father. Not at all. She'd never shown this much affection for him before.

Athena said quietly to Elliot, "You have to suffer. It makes you who you are. Who you ought to be, Elliot. Soft experiences create soft men. Hard experiences create hard men. Not always. Some break. But mostly." She paused. "You'll understand when you're older."

She squeezed him a bit tighter. He could feel, faintly, her heart beating--strong and steady. He raised his arms. Tentatively, at first. Then hugged her back. The flood of emotion was released, and tears rolled down his face.

"I'm proud of you. What you've done today," she whispered. And it was the second best thing she had ever said to him.

Followed then by the first.

"I love you, Elliot."


* * * * *​

Elliot glanced up vaguely when he heard the mewling from the redhead hanging from the tree.

"Be quiet." Disdain, bright as a bonfire, alighting his voice. "Have some dignity."

But perhaps that was too much to expect from a person of D'avore's class. Soft experiences, soft woman. The entire apparatus of most civilizations ended up becoming elaborate cradles in which a handful of disillusioned babes could become fat from luxury and think themselves conquerors of natural law. D'avore had been one such infant. And now she was discovering just how real the world she had hidden herself from happened to be.

Elliot could not imagine a justice more fitting.

* * * * *​

Gloria Stannis entered the tent, eyes adjusting to the soft lantern light inside. And there he was. The wayward Captain Elijah.

Truly, she was a genius. Truly. Her proposal had worked nicely, turned out quite a few rats in the rug, and the Dynast was sure to be pleased. Why, it really was a simple solution. Dornoch had a number of elements operating independently of one another, all talented in their own right and skilled in particular lines of work. So why not combine them for a coordinated venture? A force suited for a multitude of tasks from the diverse array of skillsets that was contained within it. The most difficult part, of course, was actually convincing these separate elements to come together. One had their pride to maintain, after all, Gloria herself included, of course, she was modest enough to admit that. Easier was the hiring of the usual muscle--sellswords, bounty hunters--to bolster the ranks. And this was standard enough. These men, brutes and oafs all, performed with a modicum of admirability when (and only when) they were overseen by a smart and capable female like herself and the other heads of her coalition.

Which led her to Captain Elijah, of course.

You see, it was not necessarily his fault--what he was doing. No. Not necessarily. How could he have known any better? He was merely a man, after all, lacking the grace of wisdom that would forever be beyond his masculine capacity to possess. A dog without a leash went astray more often than not. Worse, though, was when that leash was held by someone who didn't have the dog's best interests in mind. And who was the current holder of the dear Captain's leash? Why, it was none other than Lyssia D'avore. The traitor.

Or.

Maybe it was the Captain's fault? Maybe he had a small streak of Elliot Aldmar within him, a foolishly rebellious, droolingly savage streak, entertaining the sheer audacity to be an antagonist against his benevolent betters. What a troublesome bother. This. This was why men should only be permitted to be fodder within the military--it was all they were good for (and even then). But did anyone heed Gloria on this matter? No. Oh it was sad to say, but, most unfortunately, there were some women who rivaled men, what with the tenuous grasp of wisdom they had. And lack of control. Captain Elijah wasn't terribly bad looking. Handsome, Gloria would even say. But some women let their urges get the better of them, stepping disgracefully down to the level of the men they bedded. How did this man Elijah even become a captain anyway? Who the hell did he sleep with to get his position? Pah. Nevermind. It hardly mattered now.

Gloria glanced to the other woman in the tent, one of the heads of the coalition. And Gloria could tell by the look on her face that she hadn't gotten anything from the dear Captain yet. Elijah wasn't Gloria's quarry, but it irritated her to no end that he dared resist falling in line.

Gloria raised her hand and snapped her fingers. Said to the man who'd come into the tent with her, "A chair, please."

Robert Venoche, Gloria's right-hand, dutifully fulfilled her command. He grabbed the simple wooden chair from elsewhere in the tent and set it down in front of Elijah--slightly beyond where he'd spat blood at the feet of the other woman.

"Thank you, Robert. You may go," she said, with all the tight formality of a superior deigning to even speak to an inferior in a manner one could loosely call "cordial."

Robert nodded, and he departed from the tent.

Gloria came forward. Sat in the chair before Elijah, crossing her legs primly and straightening out her traveling dress. Then she entwined her hands and set them to rest in her lap.

"See that, Captain? A good man is one who knows his place."

Was it even worth trying to salvage this pile of gutter rubbish before her? There would be plenty of room beside Lyssia once they arrived to Dornoch and their inevitable sentences were carried out.

"I know you're not a bad man."

Tiresome pretenses. None of which would be necessary if only his mother had raised him right. Alas, here Gloria was. Having to pretend like she placed any amount of worth on the man before her.

She canted her head forward. Down. A sickly sweet smile accompanying a judgmental gaze from beneath her brow.

"But have you forgotten your place?"

Lyssia D'avore Elijah
 

Elijah

Captain of the Pegasi
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"I know my place."

Six times he had been put in the dreaded box and seven times he had been put in this chair with his hands bound tightly behind his back. The enchanted braces he had worn around his forearms had been confiscated along with his other weapons and armour. All that was left to him was the shirt and kilt he had worn underneath it and that was dirty and soiled now. The thought of a bath and ridding himself of the lice he could feel crawling in his hair made him almost delirious with desire. Yet that nor the threat of going back in that box would loosen his tongue. Ironically, it was duty that kept it fastened shut. The duty they tried to throw in his face or claim he had tainted in some way. He lifted his head from where it had been bowed against his chest to look the woman across from him squarely in the eyes. His own face was a mask of pure, self-filled righteous serenity.

Anyone might have thought he was having a pleasant conversation over tea about the weather.

"It's protecting the Dynast from all threats against her, both seen and unseen," he said it almost like how a prophet or a priest might recite some holy mantra they had unwavering conviction in. There could have been no doubt that Elijah would die willingly for his beliefs.

"Do you know your place, My Lady?" he looked at her with a pitying frown. "I am not too sure how happy your superiors will be knowing the lengths you have gone to to secure a criminal as worthless as Elliot Aldmar. One might almost think you had a ... personal connection to the thief with how you've pursued him so doggedly."
 

Lyssia D'avore

Lady Fae
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"...," was the only reply that the brute got from her. At least for the moment, at least while she reeled from her misguided attempt to free herself. She was not privy to the thoughts inside his head - anymore than any other person would be to that of others around them. She would have laughed in his face if she had heard him opine so.

It was difficult to comprehend such a terrifying fall. Whatever Elliot thought of her was wrong, if not on every single level than quite near to it.

Her thoughts drifted in that direction, nevertheless. The whole situation defied belief. That she had been captured was not entirely surprising; ever a burden, never a boon, she was always the one finding herself in trouble. Hurt, wounded, ill, pursued...cast down, cut loose, set adrift. Forty years of life within the estates of a Bursar, trained to pick up the reins of power and everything that went with it...all of that, dashed upon the rocks.

Home, family, fortune...gone. Some of those things hurt more than others.

Alric. Dignity. Well, he had always been the dignified one. Her elder by years - and among the fae, twenty years really amounted to very little - he had always been possessed of a quiet power all his own. More collected, cooler, and smarter by far than she had ever been...

...and in the end, it didn't matter. Better than she had been, but still every bit as much dead. She could still feel his blood staining her bosom, burning hot. Filled with the shame and the horror of watching the last person she cared for die...because of her. Nay, not only because...but for her sake. Hanging their like a beaten dog, she had to wonder what it had all been for. For her? She had never done anything worthy of it and, in all likelihood, never would.

The vain sacrifice, the empty promise of a tomorrow that would have been better had she simply...faded, and he with her. The same sacrifice that drove her forward, the reason that she had yet to simply surrender herself and be done with it, and all the misery.

That...and perhaps, another.

Something touched her, but she had not the strength to speak. The iron would slowly poison her to death, if the powers that be allowed it so; it disrupted the magical energies of the would and denied them to her, much in the same way that trying to work upon iron with magic was a fools game.

Touched her again, and then placed a gloved hand over her mouth. In the preternatural gloom of the night, indistinct shadows made up the entire world. Poisoned as she was, she could barely make out anything...but even so, she drew a sharp breath at the familiar contact. In other circumstances there might have been rage...but here there was only fear.

"...say nothing," a voice whispered at her ear. Male, young, confident. The hand did not leave her mouth. "Nod if you understand," they said, and she slowly nodded though it set her stomach to lurching.

A moment later, the hand fell away. Time stretched...and then suddenly she was being lowered to the ground, someone working on the manacles that bound her wrists. Fresh fire raced along nerves, part the returning flow of blood and part the brutality of the iron as it touched and enflamed new flesh.

"I will need a moment to unlock this," said the voice in the darkness. She simply lay there, unable to move while the torrent of pain washed over her. Whatever they did and whoever they were, she was completely at their mercy. Giving assent was unimportant. She could only hope they would remove the damned chains.
 

Elliot Aldmar

Dornoch's Most Wanted Man
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Trust in the plan.

Planning, careful consideration, thoughtful deliberation, these were the ways to victory. Blindly lashing out was a fool's game, achieving nothing, complicating matters in the long run--Elliot knew. In his nightly self-reflection, which he was now currently engaged in, he acknowledged his good fortune in finding the Dreng'toth, in establishing a firm ethic where once there had been only loose, disorganized nascent principles.

And the plan was necessary, for the grand task that it served was large, complex, and brittle--it could be foiled in any number of ways before could even begin. He considered then the value, once his escape from Gloria's custody came, of also ensuring the escape of D'avore if it was not already ensured. Internal strife within Dornoch served him well; eyes turned inward could not see the wolves gathering around the periphery of the flock. Perhaps D'avore's status as a traitor would have been commendable, if she had followed it up appropriately, which she did not. Yet she could, inadvertent to her own actions, be of use to him. Dornite resources tied up with her situation were resources which could not simultaneously be used against him and his free men and women.

Elliot was thinking of this when, upon opening his eyes and looking up again, he saw the black silhouette of D'avore not hanging from the tree, but on the ground. With another black silhouette. He'd not heard anything spoken (clearly, anyway) by this other person.

Elliot didn't think much of it. He thought it to be one of Gloria's goons, sent to fetch D'avore and to take her into same tent that the military-type man she'd been captured with had been taken.

So he said nothing, and went back to his nightly self-reflection.

* * * * *​

Despite the calm exterior, Gloria was fuming internally. How dare this wretch even consider talking back to her in such a manner?? And with that smug face no less, as if what he was currently engaged in would somehow lead to Dornoch's very salvation and not the catastrophic fruition of a traitor's gambit. She ought to--

Now, now. Ease, Gloria, be at ease. You're in control here. There is a table full of reasons why the dear Captain would soon regret his words right behind you, and there's a capable woman ready to administer his appropriate punishment. And look, the fool already made a mistake. Worthless. Capitalize on it.

Gloria smiled. "Typical. Your loins prevent you from reaching anything resembling a deep thought, and base risqué insinuations remain the extent of what flutters about in that vacant skull." Cognitive dissonance perfectly screened her from the hypocrisy of similar insinuations running through her own mind of Elijah and how he had attained his rank moments prior. "I should have known not to expect anything better, despite your...supposed station."

Her shoulders relaxed, and she raised up her chin again. "Yet your answer reveals much, Captain. True, Elliot Aldmar is worthless as a man, certainly as worthless as they come, and he will not be missed once he is swinging from the gallows. But, his crime..."

Gloria looked to the other woman in the tent. "The dear Captain here seems to think that the murder of an Erdeniin Dynasty member isn't worthy of having justice pursued for it. Such a man, at the same time, believes that he is 'protecting the Dynast', and this while having fallen in step to a traitor's tune." Gloria scoffed, grinning, incredulous at it all. "Unbelievable, is it not?"

Gloria looked back Elijah. "You were certainly right about Aldmar as a man. And you've much in common with him in that regard, Captain."

She thought, briefly, off having Elliot's humbled hide hauled in here and thrown before Elijah just so the Captain could have a glimpse at how low he, too, could fall, should he continue to hold his loyalty to "Lady" Lyssia D'avore. But Gloria was certain that the dear Captain, dense as he was, would be immune to such a brilliant, psychological play. Therefore...the table.

Gloria stood up. Stepped aside. And glanced to her fellow woman in the tent. Physical torture was not part of Gloria's skillset, but she enjoyed watching practitioners do their work on acceptable targets. Hers was...oh, there was no modest way to say it...hers was a more refined method. The aforementioned psychological pressure. When she had been brought on to investigate Aldmar, she had called in his father, Ormarel Dez'Synth, for questioning on several occasions. It was clear that he didn't know anything of use during the first session, but...as much as Gloria liked watching physical torturers do their work, she enjoyed more exerting her power and influence over people like Ormarel. She enjoyed squeezing him with words and implications alone, holding his livelihood in her hand like a fragile glass bauble and threatening to let it slip and fall at any moment. She loved being in total control.

But this, the physical torture? It would suffice.

Gloria, looking at the other woman, gestured a hand to table, and said, "If you would help the dear Captain come to his senses..."

Lyssia D'avore Elijah
 

Elijah

Captain of the Pegasi
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The barbs thrown in his direction missed their mark. Not a flinch, not a twitch, now the narrowing of brows disrupted the perfect, icy gaze Elijah levelled in the pathetic woman's direction. He had seen her type before amongst the pecking, squabbling hens who were vying for the Dynast's attentions. Perhaps Gloria thought that by retrieving a would-be assassin would win her some honour and in a way, Elijah was disappointed he wouldn't get to see the look on the woman's face when the Dynast did nothing more than glance in her direction for her service to the crown. Eli himself had bought ten assassins to her over the years. Men and women who had snuck past the guard, one who had even drawn blood, and the woman had done little more than sniff in his direction.

Telling her that her time and effort was wasted in this futile search would of course fall only on deaf ears and so he didn't bother wasting his breath on her. He would need his strength for other things.

"As always, a pleasure to speak to you My Lady," were the only words Elijah offered to her back before settling his gaze on the woman who would wield the stick now the carrot had not worked again. His body was criss-crossed in barely healed and badly healed wounds from the days prior. Burn marks, cuts, bruises that mottled his skin. He tossed back his hair and bore them like a proud lion baring his teeth in front of the captor.

* * *
Three days the men had waited, loyal to their Captain, before beginning the hunt. Gypsy had been chomping at the bit to go sooner but nobody really listened to a pegasus, even when said pegasus knocked the supposed leader to the floor and snorted in their face. But the winged horse had led them straight and true to the caravan that had been holding Elijah and the woman-who-gave-apples.

A warm nose gently brushed against Elliot's cheek and gave a sniff, before withdrawing and snorting in irritation. There was a stamp of a hoof and then a quiet word.

"Easy, we'll find 'im. Who do you suppose they a.. why am I talking to a fuckin' horse," there was a kiss of teeth and then a 'oof' and a "sorry" from the same voice, if slightly wheezy. Not soon after a rattle of tools and the voice began to pick the locks to the manacles at his wrists.
 
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