Private Tales Into the Hearth

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Kaelen Silverblood, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    Hills filled full of silver and gems and iron rising high. Streams flowing down to meet to form a mighty river that split into three. To the east and south ones flowed further into the mainland to connect what lay beyond. The third flowed west into a natural bay colored gray by gently rolling waves. Life lived within its depths as densely as it did within the woods and meadows of the river lands and valleys between the beach and stones. A land of natural bounty and beauty. Little if nothing was wanted by those who called her home. Everything she contained was wanted by those who did not. Greed and envy always made outsiders wish to make this place their hearth and home.

    Lord Cedric Silverblood was all too familiar with that fact. Ancient and beautiful was his home. Silverhearth was one of the most important centers of trade in all of Mystmarch and the whole of the Storm Isles. It was the center of Mystmarch's crafting. They all flocked to his hearth, his home, seeking to take advantage of all that the Silver Hills, Graywater Bay, and Riverlands had to offer. His house had watched over it all as guardian and protector since before their culture wrote. Their blood was a part of it and it was where they had gotten their name. He had taken over the seat of his ancient and powerful house several months earlier, but had taken over the duties of it years before. His father had finally past after being ill. His brothers supported his claim and his people rejoiced. Or at least they appeared to. It was impossible to say what was truly on other's hearts and minds.

    For that reason, Cedric had worried about the letter he had received from an eastern elf not long ago. Returning some of their supplies that had been pirated, or so they claimed, by another Mystmarch house bordering them and an offer of marriage of one of their cousins to his youngest brother. He did not trust it. Flattery was used as a guise to try and hide the true intent. This elf wanted to better their own position while also pushing off an unwanted onto his family. It was the kind of thing lesser houses sought to do. It was the kind of thing his father would have done and tried to do to Kaelen. Cedric was going to be better than that. He had to be. There was a reason they had to maintain such a strong army and navy at all times. Ignoring the eastern elves the length of half the isles away, their neighbors were always looking to strip as much of his home away as they could.

    Scavengers. Not even the noble kind such as ravens and wolverines that kept the land healthy and clean. No, these other Mystmarch houses could just be creatures of greed and envy driven solely by their base instincts. They saw only the wealth everything had to offer but not the works her people took to create and maintain it. They would strip everything away or take what they could if given the chance. This foreign elf was no different. He saw a chance to gain Silverhearth coin and sword for himself and sent this offer to him. After the response was delivered the letter was cast into the flames.

    Cedric figured his threat, although somewhat veiled, would be enough to end the matter. If this woman he was willing to use as a pawn in his little game was truly as homely and rotted as Cedric suspected then there was no chance he would risk sending her. Atleast that is what he thought. Then word of a ship from this same eastern lord docking in the port and requesting permission to enter was brought to him. This Lord Nishanti was persistent. Fine. If the elf wanted to test Cedric so stubbornly then he would allow it. At worst it would give him reason to see this lord's ships sank and port blockaded to give their newer recruits some experience and veterans some entertainment.

    =====
    The port of any city was usually the least kept up part of a city. The worst it had to offer was ever present and showed glimpses of the best. Silverhearth city's was no different. But where other cities, even the Mystmarch capital of Stormhold to the south, held squalor and filth and grim Silverhearth was lovely gray stone and brown or reddish wood topped in black slate or red cedar shingles. It had more of the look of other cities market square in how clean and maintained it was. The rest of the city beyond only grew more beautiful on its way to the castle.

    The city was filled with the sounds of people busy about their work. The clatter of masterfully wielded hammers. Rhythmic humming of saws. Music mixed with voices both loud and quiet. The pattering of feet at both work and play. The smell of spices both local and foreign mixed with that of freshly cooking foods in the air. Bubbling as water ran through public fountains and waterways designed for drink or hygienic purposes.

    Everything would feel both modern and yet ancient. A place that seemed to embrace both the past and future all at once.

    People of various races roamed the streets. Humans, dwarves, elves, and beast folk mixed as easily together as any individual race could with their own. The diversity in languages spoke was perhaps even greater than that of the peoples. It was clear no strict racial divide was present here, a feat not many Mystmarch lands could match.

    It could seem almost dream like or like some sort of utopia. It could if not for the ever present guard or soldier in their armor within sight at all times to remind of that dangers still existed and crime was still committed. The sight of so many could be reassuring however or make one nervous depending on how they viewed such a thing.

    Despite all of the beauty, the city was purposeful in design to those with the eye for such things. It was defensible and sturdy. All the water flowed towards the sea from the hill containing the castle that stood close by yet far enough away to be a sanctuary and last stand if matters grew so dire. The castle itself rose above the city and matched it in both beauty and practicality.

    This was the sight that would greet Michiko Nishanti as permission to enter the city and castle was granted to them by Lord Cedric Silverblood. They would be escorted the entire way by soldier diverse in both gender and race wearing the gray sword downcast through a hearth on a field of blue that was the House Silverblood colors and symbol. When she made it to the castle she would be taken along with everyone else in her party to the grand hall. On a throne made of oak and silver sat a tall human with brown hair and piercing gray eyes. He wore expensive yet nearly utilitarian clothing colored blue and gray. Boots of dark leather covered his feet and silver rings with a single, different gemstone each were on his fingers. Bracers made of silver and etched with flowing rivers and branches of trees covered in leaves circling the Silverblood symbol were on his wrists. Around his neck was a simple necklace and upon his head a circlet. Both were made of a metal that looked like silver which had been burnt and contained a dark blue gem the color of the water beneath waves in the bay.

    Before Michiko sat Cedric Silverblood. On his left was a throne no less impressive than his own. In it sat a beautiful woman with hair the color of amber and eyes as blue as the sky. She was dressed similarly to her husband but around her neck was a simple necklace and around her head a circlet made of silver and containing a sapphire. She had blue pearls from earrings. On his right was stood an armored individual. He was human with a somewhat handsome face marred by a scar down his right cheek. His armor was battle ready with a sword the perfect length to be used in the hall on his hip. A hand rested upon it. His hair was light brown nearly blonde. His eyes brown.

    After enough seconds had past for Michiko to get a look at the three of them Cedric said in a commanding tone, "You stand before Lord Cedric Silverblood head of House Silverblood. What business do you have with me today?"
     
  2. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    Her dear cousin and his plots. Zal’s scheming would get more of his people killed than he calculated, if not for the patience or grace of other Lords. The entire distance from the Nishanti Wood to Silverhearth was a welcome separation. Michiko spent most of it up the crow’s nest, keen brown eyes watching the sea, the passing storms and shorelines. Memorizing, cataloguing and sketching in her leather-bound precious book of paper. She clutched it to her chest and willed the sails to never falter, and the sea to succour them on this journey, hopefully never ending.

    Whatever Zal put in his letters, it was deemed important enough to pack all Michiko ever loved on board. Servants, an old maid. Her tea master, surrounded by a small gaggle of priests and priestesses. Soldiers from her own small guard.

    When Ainyo, the old maid brought out a series of twelve brightly coloured silken robes for Michiko to wear once clearance to the port was given, the ruminating threads wove waft and weft into an illuminated tapestry.

    “I will not be made a spectacle on horseback in formal robes, like some cockatrice or foreign, preening bird.”

    “But… mi’lady.” Ainyo smoothed the silk with gnarled hands, a servant’s hands. Michiko knelt beside her and set her cheek on Ainyo’s knees, holding those gnarled hands and embracing the old maid.

    “Aiya do this for me. Please.” The old maid set her hand atop Michiko’s head, and for one moment the girl was young again and her mother was alive. The illusion faded, and the old nursemaid turned servant rose, closed linen over ten of the robes, and picked a soft white, and loam green. They dressed her in silence, an obi of magnificent craftsmanship wound around Michiko’s waist, depicting victories in battle, and the pleasures of the gods. Her hair was down, loosely collected at the end by a simple leather cord.

    “I will not be a spectacle. My cloak. The green one… stay on the ship, Ainyo. We shall bring the rescued supplies, and gifts only… until I know the contents of this letter.” Tapping the letter upon her hand, Michiko searched up to the sky blue as a man’s eye and side-mounted her beloved horse, in lieu of the carriage.

    How could she possibly miss seeing all of the city hidden away in a pompous collection of enamel and wood better fit for a fire than a long journey? Every soldier flanking her were in their best dress, their armour buffed and polished. Each walked or rode in silence, nothing but compassionate glances between themselves and their fellow, Michiko.

    Unlike the ladies of the courts, Michiko wore sturdy brown leather boots, which disappeared beneath the layers of her courtly, but muted dress. She hitched her horse to the rail herself, patting the mare’s side and putting her forehead to the horse’s neck, before taking the letter and ascending to the throne room of Silverhearth’s castle.

    Each of the figures, the exits and windows, the summoned guards were taken into view with an exacting care. Michiko lifted the cloak’s hood off her raven hair, keen dark eyes locking with Cedric Silverblood’s stern, commanding face. A slender face with ivory complexion bore the rose-petal cheeks of an active, and fit woman. Plump lips curved neither in smile nor frown.

    The cloak revealed the silks of her robes, the singular beauty of the obi, which by rights must have cost more than a few stout horses and more than some made in half their lives. Walking with steady footing to the Lord of Silverhearth, Michiko presented the letter with both hands and a slight nod of her head.

    “You sit before Lady Michiko Kaho Nishanti, Last of House Kaho, Keeper of the Peregrine’s Sight and Commander of the Westwood Archers. I have come on behest of my cousin, Lord Zal Nishanti to deliver a letter, personally deliver to you the goods we salvaged from your pirated ship, perhaps give an accounting of the battle and I thought be on my way… but now I wonder what business indeed my lugubrious cousin hath wrought. My convoy is laden with those things we salvaged from the Hyacinth. I regret by the time my archers arrived, there was no crew to be found. Nothing but marauders bearing this seal. House Pirmetton, I believe.” Michiko reached into her sleeve and pulled out a dagger with the coils of House Pirmetton, a cutthroat and scheming offshoot of a once noble House. Marauders, all. Or all who could be seen.

    “Anything more is of my cousin’s design, and confined to the sanctity of that letter in your grace’s hand.” A tight, but pleasant express on the Lady’s face. Those with her acted each as loyal and honourable guests, men and women who in one way or other owed their lives to the Grey Maiden. Their eyes searched her, bodies ready to defend, or hands to hold fast and retreat.

    Michiko fixed her gaze on the three Silverbloods and their two thrones.

    Kaelen Silverblood
     
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  3. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    The group that entered the hall before Cedric was not what he expected. He had thought some grand parade would burst through his doors, but he had gotten at best a minor performance. It was more in line with the more practical approach he preferred to these sort of matters. A cloaked figure approached him and then pushed back their hood. It was a female elf. One with considerable looks as well. With his wife being beside him she was easily the second most beautiful woman in the room. She presented to him a letter and then began to speak.

    As the female elf named herself and spoke, Cedric read over the letter. It would seem a game was being played here, but it was not by this woman. He could tell she was unaware of the contents of the letter or purpose of why she was the one sent. Her thoughts were on the piracy and attempt to minimize any fallout potentially directed towards her people for it. The letter was near entirely about the woman before him. Interesting. She certainly was not shy about speaking her mind and offering her opinion on matters. She also suspected her cousin was up to something. Good instincts. His suspicions about her from before today were certainly proving to be false.

    After Michiko Nishanti finished speaking, Cedric looked to her. His eyes studied her over intensely from top to bottom. Acceptable. His brother would certainly be interested in her physically. The main issue was her personality then. He eventually held out the letter for Michiko to take.

    "You wish to know your cousin's scheme? Read for yourself." Cedric said in a casual voice that did not even hint at the subject on the paper. His wife gave him a questioning glance that he returned the slightest and briefest of smirks in response to. The armored knight beside him just continued to keep a near indifferent eye on those gathered as if this was nothing out of place. If he was honest it truly wasn't that odd for the Silverblood family. They were a strange house. The good kind of strange.
     
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  4. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    An elegant eyebrow raised, as the soldiers behind her twittered and whispered amongst themselves in an elven tongue of strange dialect. The dialect of her all but decimated Clan Kaho. Michiko took hold of the letter, eyes narrowed and narrowed into slits.


    Dark eyes flickered from line to line. Her fingers clutched the paper as pale cheeks flushed and eyebrows furrowed. Jaw locked, Michiko ripped the parchment in half and tossed the pieces in the nearest fire.


    “My cousin no sooner decides where my thighs part than he decides which arrow first exits my bow.” Somehow the anger on her face pressed upon her skin with a flush of sensuous grace. The elf’s eyes bore down on Cedric Silverblood and his wife with a vehemence most dire. “I shall only marry the man for whom I find a companionate and passionate connection. I am judge of who that may be. No one owns my complacency or my womb. I cannot in good conscience promise myself to any I have not met or gaged for worthiness in battle. You have your items back. If you have further inquiry into the wreck of the Hiacynth, I and my companions here will answer what we can.


    As for Lord Nishanti’s petition for my tenure as noble guest, I will take no comfort nor luxury which is not rewarded to my compatriots and staff aboard our ship. My life is lived beside them. I would no sooner sup alone from as fine a table as I know House Silverblood can provide, than venture to battle alone. My pardons if that offends your grace. I guarantee you it offended my cousin enough to send me here in some small supposed benefit.”


    “Lady Kaho, at least eat with the Silverbloods. We might pick on a few of their guards for entertainment. Always a game or songs to be sung.” One of the green clad archers set his hand on her shoulder, chin close to her ear.


    “I will not be a stallion in my cousin’s political jousting.”


    “Neither will you be rude to the closest House we have to feed us. We will tend to Ainyo and the others.” The archers stood in loose form, only two holding their gait in a protective pose in case their Lady’s words were not taken in good humour.


    Kaelen Silverblood
     
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  5. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    Cedric simply watched as Michiko Nishanti read the letter. From the changing of color in her face it was clear what her thoughts were before she ever made a single action or spoke a single word. This sort of independence was not anything new to him. Many noble houses in Mystmarch had and encouraged the trait in their own, even amongst their women. He was doing that for his own children right now. So when she did get to her showy reaction he just kept the same casual look from earlier on his face.

    After Michiko had some time to speak with her guard, Cedric decided it was time to speak himself. "I care little for what your cousin wants Lady Michiko Kaho. The only one who's interest I do is your own. Do not think the name of House Kaho slipped by my ears nor your behavior just now."

    Slowly Cedric stood up. It was deliberately none aggressive, and it would be obviously so to her guards. He stepped down the steps in front of his throne as his wife watched him with a mixture of caution and curiosity. His knight just kept his eyes on the foreign guards. As he approached Michiko, himself standing over six feet as both his brothers also did, he stopped just out of arm's length from her.

    "Do you see that portrait on the wall?" Cedric pointed to one containing himself and two other men that looked similar to him. One had the same color hair and eyes as well but the other had silvery gray hair and eyes despite the clearly more youthful face than the other two. "The one with gray hair is the brother this marriage concerns."

    Cedric turned to face the portrait fully. He wanted to give her a little time to study it over. After a bit he went on. "Your outburst, and yes it was an outburst, is somewhat of a comfort to me. My brother would have reacted the same. Or perhaps even worse. He does not put much value in the concept of nobility. That does not mean he is not dutiful as he is likely the most dutiful of the three of us. He just does not think there is any inherit value you have being born a noble. He prefers the idea of choosing your own path or following the one the gods have for you rather than one dictated by our system of rule."

    Kaelen. The youngest of the three and a bit of a black sheep in the family. So much of his blood was spilled in the name of their house and people. Their father gave him no care and little support, yet somehow he had managed to take advantage of it. Cedric envied him for that. There was only a single path for him in this life, even if it felt so right for him. This woman wanted the same thing as his brother and was willing to go against her own people's culture to do it. As much as he hated to admit it, her cousin might be right about her being the best choice for his brother.

    After a few moments Cedric turned back to Michiko. "Your cousin did not send you here on a whim. In my letter back to him I told him to. It was a veiled threat upon his little plot to use my family and people to improve his position. Not the first one in that letter either. I thought he would be sending a homely, traditional woman that was more interested in wasting away our resources on selfish decadence than on improving and supporting. I was wrong."

    "You and your people will be my guests. Stay for several days. Enjoy the city and the break from your cousin. Even if you wish to leave right now you could not. Ships take time to restock and ready for travel. Our harbor is also very active and busy so they would need to wait their turn. Your cousin also hide a threat in his own letter of potential harm to your life if you should leave here. That would be a waste of someone with much potential." Cedric said in a tone that was serious yet casual. "Do what you like Lady Michiko. Stay or return to your ship. You are my guest either way."

    Cedric returned to his throne. The moment he was sat back down and adjusted, he added, "Oh and do seriously consider arranging a marriage with my brother. You two are far more of a match than you realize."
     
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  6. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    #6 Michiko Nishanti, Feb 28, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
    The Lady Michiko yanked her arms across her chest, head tilted to the side to glance out the window to some form of calming nature. Her guard grew tighter, closer to her. A protective hem of comrades against the bitterest storm.

    Her head turned to face Cedric only when he mentioned the name of her House, and only then with a single flicker on her stern, but pretty face. The House Kaho was noble, magical and some might say foolhardy. They owned their convictions with more ferocity than their fortifications, relying not on militant arms, but the compassion bred of their women and the empathic gifts. Ladies of the House Kaho were known to swoon battlefields to set down arms, or to incite riots in their names. The menfolk were near wild beings, or so rational in their direction that no emotion e’er twitched their cheeks. It was once a House of renown. One of the first of the East, who thought best to attempt companionship with the Mystmarch, and with those outside the strict Caste System in the Yamatakara.

    And they died for it. All but a few, whose talent for running won over the flames. Oh how gracious her cousin, to take in the strays. Oh how gracious. How dear. Poor… little… dears.

    Michiko’s revelry in her past was shaken, when Lord Cedric came beside her and mentioned the portrait on the wall. A man of strong bearing and wise, passionate eyes. Kaelen looked to be a man of rugged standing and self-made conviction. In all intents, a handsome man if the portrait painter was accurate and unkind.

    Her cheek and chin turned down to the side as Cedric mentioned his comforts, and explained the similarities to her outburst and the inevitable blow from his brother. Deep eyes looked back at the portrait. No. Another noble, who thought in similar ways? Was he not punished for it, as she and hers were in the Wood?

    “One’s only value is in how one improves the lives of those under their tenure or command. We are, after all, keepers of knowledge and servants of our people. Do our livelihoods and positions not depend on them? It does no good to bridle our fellows in some fictitious system built upon greater or lesser blood. Let a person’s actions dictate their worth.” The elf sniffed loudly and shook her head. “You threatened Zal? That would only encourage him. He would see it as… you being somewhat involved. So this journey is your fault, is it? That would be why Zal sent the entirety of my House with me. Even my ancient nursemaid, to whom the trip was a stressful discomfort. She deserves a warm bed and hot tea, not to be bounced upon the waves like a basket of fruit atop an unaccustomed horse and rider. I… fear for her frailty.”

    Her arms drifted from across her chest to comfortably by her sides. “To think the schemer thought threatening me was the best of attitudes… I am unafraid of his potential harm… but I am not alone, another reason he probably sent all my folk. He knows I cannot defend all of them with our small numbers and, if I know my cousin rightly, banked on you taking ownership of a great deal in greed.”

    Turning to her companion guards, Michiko monitored all their faces. She seemed to stand statuesque, her inner eye searching the emotions of her fellows to the real truths. Relaxation of muscle. Safety, without alarum. Parched throats. Michiko’s face softened. She sighed an exhale and deflated from her ire, lost for another day or worthy cause. A tender and dear smile drifted to her lips.

    “We’re staying boyos!” One of the archers burst out. The troop made motion of their excitement, clapping each others’ shoulders, and two sauntering off to gaze at the portrait as others moseyed to quest for drink.

    “How can I deny such an honourable request, when my companions already make themselves fit for drink and a week’s refreshment? I would go collect the elders of my House staff. They are unused to travel and could benefit from warm beds, which do not sway with the ship. I will return with them.”

    She turned to leave the room, stalled by Cedric’s words on his throne. Another of the archers groaned, mouthing the words ‘but drink, Mimi. Drink and rest’.

    “I will consider the opportunity to meet him, and speak privately together. If an arrangement is to be made, it will be with both of us face to face in accord… but your words do entice an eccentric Lady to discover him… he is fetching to the eye, after all, although if that painter was any great savant, I would say the man in that portrait is probably much for mischief. Where is he that I might make my gauge of him?”

    Kaelen Silverblood
     
  7. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    This meeting was becoming more of a surprise every passing moment. Cedric had expected a crafted lady that was timid, submissive, and full of ambition of advancing her own position by pushing her husband to advance his own. It was how the eastern elves raised their daughters to be after all, even the ones not of a noble house. Yet here stood one who was as much an example of an independent noble woman making her opinion known and heard as any from Mystmarch. If her cousin's words were to be believed as well then her line had the oddity of blood that was more common in many Mystmarch houses that outsiders would ever know.

    Michiko's words only sounded similar the way Cedric's own house approached their position. Nobles served their people by looking towards the future and the larger scale issues. And then the common folk served by taking care of the local and daily matters. It was how they did things here in the Silverblood lands at least. Her mind was in a similar place.

    Cedric was not surprised when she agreed to being a guest and also with entertaining the idea of an arranged marriage. Excellent. He did not give her time to leave before he responded to her inquiry. "Kaelen is on the mainland in the great city of Elbion. He will be returning home soon, or as soon as the council can find replacements for he and his forces. They will stop in Stormhold so he can report directly to the council then will be continuing on to Silverhearth. It should not take more than a few weeks or a couple of months."

    Placing a hand on the side of his face to hide a smirk, Cedric added after a short pause, "If you wish to meet with him then here in Silverhearth would be best. You can consider yourself and your people my personal guests the entire time."

    With that Cedric left some silence in the air. He knew what he was scheming as did his wife. She gave it a moment before deciding to speak up and end her husband's little show. "Be sure to return to the castle before nightfall. You will be joining us for our evening meal. It is none negotiable. Bring a guest with you. I am sure you do not want to be eating with strangers alone."

    Cedric waved them off after his wife's words to indicate they were free to leave. With that it was time for him to return to the matters of his people and land. A task that would sure to be as entertaining and enjoyable as it sounded.

    Michiko Nishanti
     
  8. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    The Noble House of Silverblood was not a bloated and aristocratic bore of ham-fisted controllers. Each of her outbursts meant to send this Cedric Silverblood off her scent, only amused him. Comforted him. Drew him closer, with vague mentions of her House. What sort of human remembered the Kaho Clan?

    Marriage. He wanted her to consider marrying a man she never met, on the behest of her scavenging cousin. But he hated the man, or close to. ‘As a token of our appreciation for your fine House, please consider the servants, wagons, escorts and horses as a gift of dowry…’

    The servants, her woodland archers, even the horses and ship. If they were sent, any at all, back to their native Wood, what failure would be laden upon their heads? What could she do, but save them time to plan for a life away from the Wood? The younger and more virile would run anywhere with her, they could hire themselves out as mercenary archers and trackers, but the elderly? Those who could do no travel well or quickly, where could she bring them?

    Elbion.” Michiko’s head snapped back to Cedric and his wife on their thrones. “I could take my ship, but you say he will return soon. Weeks. Maybe months. I could not impose for months. We would want to repay your kindness. We can hunt, run missions, my tea master’s mind is filled with rare lore. He could transcribe or teach any children or youths. If you provide groves, we could build our own place, out of your way. I would ride to…”

    Eyebrows furrowing in defeat, Michiko deflated at the words of the as of yet silent but beautiful woman. “Mi’lady, your word is my law.”

    With a flourished curtsey, Michiko fled the throne room of the Silverhearth. Once out of earshot, she yanked the leather cord out of her hair, and tossed her head around.

    “Ooohhh feck!” A roaring grumble burbled through her, as the guards round her laughed, groaned, punched and cajoled her. They rode back to the ship, chattering and making mention of those places they wished to climb and see the city, or places to visit, or mention anything of interest to their forest-dwelling selves. It was the largest city any of Michiko’s troupe saw in their centuries-long lives, and the best functioning.

    “You could be of this place Mimi.”

    “We could be of it.”

    “Wonder what their local brews are like?”

    “You would worry over the mead, Kastus.”

    “Don’t you, Petro? Oh, their thighs are more your sport!” Kastus jumped from the back of his horse to a low wall, skipping upon it, before front-flipping back onto the saddle of his steed. Petro snorted, motioning of the curves of a shapely body.

    Michiko kept her lips pressed together as they passed Silverblood guards, and the odd sight she held in the chambers of her mind. As they ventured closer to the ship, her companions grew as quiet as their Grey Maiden. Haddad spurred her horse on, veering alongside their Lady.

    “There were forests to the northeast. I could smell them on the wind. We could search the bay for dragonseed. Call our friends… Hifah remembers the old magicks. We have time, Mimi. You are not bartering anything for our safety and wellbeing.”

    “I apologize, my loves I have damned you to exile. We did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to the Wood or your families. I would have… I would have traversed it one last time. Gave the rivers and copses of trees one last prayer… I am sorry, my friends. We are folk with no House.” Behind Michiko, Petro burst into tears, as did they all in turn, shedding their Lady’s grief over her cousin’s tossing away of the lot as ‘gifts’ for a foreign noble. The same tears stained her cheeks as she lifted her eyes to the Chrysanthemum Skylark to see Ainyo standing at the gangplank, straining her eyes under her hand to see the inevitable procession ‘home’.

    “Aiya.” The Lady Kaho, last of her line fell into her old nursemaid’s arms, and sobbed. Ainyo would never see her grandchildren again. Would any of them see the Wood of their home again? In the quiet of their collective shock and grief, the sailors and folk upon the Chrysanthemum Skylark began the process of unloading their wares, and loading them to the remaining carriage and wagons. Hitching war horses to wagons, to pull. Ainyo dried Michiko’s eyes, smiling down from a weary, wrinkled face. They packed their trunks together, Ainyo was lifted into the carriage by Kastus’ strong arms, as she was too arthritic of knee to step into it herself. She rode with the window coverings down, so she might see the town. Her and the six other elders, who survived the fire of the Kaho’s destruction. Michiko slowed the procession through the town, dressed not in her formal robes, but in militant gear. Leather armoured tunic upon layers of linen and silk, leather trousers tucked into the brown boots sculpted up her legs, worn with years. Her bow was strung across her, quiver full and glossy hair knotted & braided away from her neck and back. She took a slower pace in the places, where for interest’s sake Ainyo and the others commented, or peered wide-eyed, making notes to return to those places, if they could.

    Eventually the castle came to view, and Ainyo craned her neck outside the carriage to view it. Michiko led her remaining Clan Kaho to the castle of the Silverbloods, and as the archers and those servants and denizens, who refused to be in such highborn presences, scattered off to make what lodging they could find, and drink what cordials and meads they could procure to drink.

    Prior to dinner, Ainyo prodded Michiko into a dress of a more Mystmarch fashion, tied in the back with fastenings and pale grey in fabric. Upon her brow was a circlet of silver and gold, cut into with jewels, which seemed to grow upon it, instead of being wrought with anything but magic. A single bud bloomed of emerald and ruby upon the circlet, one last potential for the House of Kaho. Hair braided down her back, Michiko demanded Ainyo dress in the formal Yamatakara robes (at least a few), and appear beside her.

    The old nursemaid could never be more proud the day she walked into the dining hall of House Silverblood’s castle, her arm slung through the girl she helped raise, feed, then when tragedy struck, pulled from the fire. It was not a servant’s place to take such arms, but Michiko insisted, and Ainyo was incapable of denying her stricken plea.

    Michiko’s skin shimmered with an inner glow, birthed of the magic of her house. She was, in earnest and in deed, the serene and Grey Maiden. A beauty of renown, edged by the greying tragedy of a dying House. She, whose smile was rare, and fetching. Whose shoulders withstood the weight upon them.

    “Lord and Lady Silverblood. We remain your guests.” Michiko dipped her head, hand holding the arm up of her ancient maid.

    Kaelen Silverblood
     
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  9. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    Gray and blue. The colors of Silverhearth, her people, and the Silverblood family. They did not stand out like other color combinations did. It was no red upon green or yellow upon blue. For that reason they did not pop out upon first sight. But there was something personal about them. Gray was easy to afford and so was the most common color around the Silverblood lands. Blue however was expensive. It was the color of nobles and those who directly served them. Common and noble together in a sort of separate yet integrated union.

    It would be this very principle and ideology that would greet Michiko Nishanti and her guest when they were brought into the hall. The house colors made up everything seeming to bring the hills and rivers and ocean together in a single space. Common folk in their finery were already seated or standing chatting away with knights, the lowest rank of the nobles, that served the Silverbloods. It was not hard to tell them apart but both received equal respect. And at the head of it was the Lady of the house and her husband.

    At Michiko's words Cedric gave her a respectful if silent nod. His wife however gave a smile and spoke.

    "Lady Michiko of House Kaho, it is an honor and a privilege to have you. Follow me. I have people you should meet."

    Without seeming to wait for a response, the Lady turned and began to point various people out. Master blacksmiths familiar in the art of crafting burnt silver. Knights who had both earned and inherited their ranks. Merchants and traders of great importance. Mages from the Runic Circle. Independent landowners with key farms. The most important members of each part of the local spectrum were present. And each one was named and introduced by Lady Silverblood with this hint of familiarity that spoke of a genuine association rather than just hastily informed knowledge.

    After they had made their way through the hall, Lady Silverblood took Michiko's arm in her own and leaned in. In a whisper she said, "This gathering was already planned before your arrival. Not for it I am afraid. It is a get together before an important meeting that will be held tomorrow. We host the meal before as the meetings tend to sour moods. Coin and law tends to do that."

    With a warm pat on the arm the Lady Silverblood just smiled to Michiko. The point of all of this was still unclear, but it was obvious she was after something. The entire time Cedric's attention never strayed far from the ladies as well.
     
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  10. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    Castle Silverblood’s hall was resplendent with the common and the noble dining together in grandeur. All seemed welcome. Ainyo clutched Michiko’s arm, comforted by the appearance of other more common folk.

    “See, mi’lady? You were right to bring me. Oh, did you hear that group over yonder speak of gardening? I would like to speak with them.” Ainyo’s cheeks shone. She smiled serenely, leaning on her Lady’s arm in joy and for the physical support of an elderly woman, who refused to use a cane.

    Once Michiko was announced, whispers coated the room in isolated shales. There, the hidden survivor. The somewhat mythical Grey Maiden, whose family was all but dead she only saved by what many called, a blessing of dragons.

    The first Kaho seen in any lands in generations of man, for those few who knew her memory.

    The Lady Silverblood was serene and kind. The sort of woman who maneuvered discretely through the realm ensuring the goals of her House. A paragon of the feminine virtues. Each step taken through the vaulted chamber was one of practice and poise.

    Another test? Could the potential bride of Kaelen Silverblood function with the exotic and homely in the House’s bower? Michiko nodded in affirmation and allowed herself to be swept along with Lady Silverblood. She spoke of the quality of alloyed metals with blacksmiths, asking over the harvest schedules with farmers and the source of tea from foreign trade. Yet the arm on hers from Ainyo pressed harder and harder on Michiko.

    Halfway through speaking with a collection of traders, Michiko bowed her head and put her arm around Ainyo’s waist. “My apologies, dear Ainyo has been victim of our lengthy travel schedule. May we move our conversation to a place where my maid can sit down?”

    “Oh, mi’lady these old legs will bear me hence. Do not trouble yourself.” Ainyo bowed her head, but Michiko raised the elder’s chin. She smiled at her nursemaid, and calmly went herself to procure a seat.

    “There, Ainyo. See? Even a pillow for you. Now, my apologies, Sir Trenton you were speaking of the tides and the length of time it takes to unload from the bay.”

    With Ainyo situated and newly surrounded with the conversations of farmers, Michiko looked down at Lady Silverblood’s hand on her arm.

    “If it was planned I would be concerned that so many could be procured so quick, mi’lady.” Michiko said, lips upturned but eyes keen. “Ah, so this is the joust before the battle, eh? Those of standing attempting to receive more favour or banter beforehand. You must receive quite some entertainment.”
     
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  11. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    Lady Silverblood chuckled almost whimsically at Michko's words. "A joust you say? No my dear. Jousting is for foolish and naive boys to feel important. This is a preemptive thrust that only us women can appreciate." A challenging look is directed the maiden's way. "Am I not correct?"

    The briefest of pauses was given before Lady SIlverblood followed up on her response. "I forgot to mention but this dinner was not originally planned for tonight. It was to be tomorrow for midday." A side glance at Michiko was given as she added, "All of these guests were informed to arrive tonight instead after you left."

    The Lady of the House did not give her honored guest the chance to respond nor process. She began to lead her into the next conversation with the next group of important people to the Silverblood lands. All the while it separated Michiko from Ainyo a little more. While this happened Cedric approached the aging wet nurse and began to speak with her in as private a conversation as was possible in the large gathering. What was said would be unknown but the glance from Cedric toward the elven maiden and his wife was clear as the sun midday.

    After the pair finished their way through the crowd Lady Silverblood looked to Michiko with a look of disappointment that was either genuine or fake. It was impossible to make out which. "I must leave you now. My duties as hostess demand my attention." And with that she was gone with a simple, graceful wave of her hand.

    Within the briefest of seconds the knight from before was beside Michiko Nishanti . He looked to her and gave her a nod. "Strange aren't they? The Silverbloods."
     
  12. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    “The true seat of power, a woman’s ability to see past the jocular to the genuine… if only, eh?” Michiko’s face shifted to a slim smirk, which did not reach her eyes. “I tire quickly of rooms full of folk attempting to trick one way or another, Lady Silverblood. When one can with a thought seek the truth of their emotions. The forest, or the battlefield were always my favourite bulwark.”
    This Lady Silverblood was a shrewd soldier of her own domain. The blow of her words, a rescheduled feast caused Michiko’s stomach to tighten. Always a hidden cost to generosity, especially amongst those noble born. Each member present, were they nothing more than soldiers of the House, taking stock of this new potential bit of meat?
    Each conversation held within it another hidden piece of the Silverblood’s game, driving Michiko to be polite, quiet. She maneuvered to return to Ainyo’s side, her nursemaid her best comfort the day of discovering she would never return home. Each entreaty and conversation another battering to her personal shield.
    Never to return home. Ainyo to never see her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren. So many exiled for the potential of a matrimonial kiss.
    Cedric spoke to Ainyo, the gaze in his eyes coy and keen.
    “But surely… yes, mi’lady. Far be it for me to detain you from your honoured guests.” Brief was the moment of her solitude. The knight was upon her. Not a single question of time for the Elf.
    She craved the anonymity of the forest.
    “That depends on your definition of strange, Sir Knight. To a human an elf would be strange, to a dragon we are all creatures of oddity. Tell me, you know them longer than I, what is Kaelen like? How are the Silverbloods strange to you?”
    Kaelen Silverblood
     
  13. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    "Sir Rurick." The knight named himself. "And elves are not strange to humans. Atleast not here in Mystmarch." He pointed at an elven man in finery matching his profession as a trader. "Davos over there is no different from Mallen." The point drifted over to a human landowner. "Every one here is a free person and part of our shared culture."

    Rurick looked at Michiko. His gaze was judging but not in some moral kind of way. It was more of in that fashion those use to fighting or hunting would be familiar with. It was a judgement of the general skill and experience level of those before them. A study over for any potential strengths and weaknesses. Something instinctive that naturally developed in all who knew conflict of the martial sense. His eyes drifted back to those around them quickly.

    "Kaelen is strange too, but in a different way." Rurick was rather casual and nearly informal in how he spoke about the SIlverblood family. "He fought in tournies before he went off to fight on the mainland. We had a match once there too. Was feeling cocky because he had been doing well. He made a mistake and I put a scar over his right eye. Didn't take his eye mind you. He sees just fine. He just has a scar there now."

    The knight had gestured with one hand as he spoke while the other still was rested upon the hilt of his blade. He seemed to mime out the actions of the fight and made a cutting motion over his right eyes as well.

    "You would think beating a noble from such a powerful family so decisively would get me in trouble or he would hold a grudge. Nope. Kaelen just laughed about it and said he deserved what he got. Really friendly about the whole thing. Even offered to buy me a drink. Strangest thing that ever happened to me after a match."

    The knight got quiet for a moment as he seemed to focus on something in the room. Michiko might notice a small bit of animosity directed her way. Shortly after it was gone the man continued.

    "Cedric saw the match and asked me to serve him personally. Wasn't sure at first. Figured it was some ploy to get revenge for his brother. Noble houses will do that. Knights might be nobles too, but we aren't as powerful as the house ones. We can find ourselves in as much trouble as a commoner if we cross the wrong house. Got to know Kaelen and Cedric a bit then took up the offer. Been serving him ever since."

    Rurick looked at Michiko Nishanti once again. It was measured and near challenging. "As I said. The Silverbloods are strange. But it is a good kind of strange. Not entirely sure what they are up to rushing this dinner, but you aren't in any danger. Cedric told me to keep you out of harm personally. You probably noticed but a few folks here don't like eastern elves. People have lost family and friends to raids. Your cousin had a hand in some of them too, and they know it. Keep that in mind but relax. No one is about to act on anything. It would be suicidal and fail if they did."

    With all of that said Rurick went back to silently scanning the room. A few looks and murmurs were directed their way. They always ended however whenever the knight would pause his gaze in their direction. It was obvious that the maiden was more of an exotic spectacle than anything else to those gathered.
     
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  14. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    “You keep looking at me with the haze of a Hunter seeking meat and I will lay you down, Sir Rurick.” Michiko’s eyes narrowed with the aura of one born to command. “Your proclivities for protecting my person are noted and appreciated. Do not assume I am some defenceless Yamatakara blossom.”

    A hard line to draw. A woman in militant command often had harder lines to draw, for the apparent weaknesses inherent in her physical gender. Yet here among the humans, the Mystmarchers Michiko was out of depth. Without compass or sight of the stars to guide her.

    All she had was the story of Rurick and Kaelen Silverblood. An odd family indeed. Filled with fancy toward those not of their station, and good humour. But there were reasons for kindness, just as there were reasons for cruelty.

    “You might have a shared culture, but Davos will outlive his compatriot Mallen by centuries. When one views time in a series of blinks, one has the luxury of sharing culture. Others have no such gift and must bear those blinks in rows like melancholic pearls.” Humans. Did they know how fast they were taken to the immortal realm? The veil beyond?

    “My people have also lost souls. Family. Companions, which spent centuries in bonds of kinship and love. My House paid well for the seeming raids. We paid in fire and blood. Now I am the only one left. My cousin is a warthog snuffling for truffles. He is no more worthy of the respect danger provides, than a sword-less soldier without teeth.” Michiko sighed and shook her head. “This is merely one more test to gauge whether I am a songbird or a raven worth turning out for the scraps. I mind less than the hope it gives my people. Look at Ainyo. She is sitting in a comfortable chair, hoping this can be a place to reside. For me to be free. I could no sooner fly through the window than break her heart tonight. Thank you, your protection is unnecessary... but the conversation is welcome.”
     
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  15. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    The knight just chuckled at Michiko's comment about his gaze. "Got an ego there my lady. You aren't prey I'd ever be interested in." Rurick motioned with his head towards a female beast folk that looked like a bear in a heated conversation with some of the local crafters. "That is the meat I'd be after. Much rather be poking the bear than guarding you."

    Rurick turned his attention back to the crowd. "I know you don't need me here as well. My order still stands and in a way I'm guarding people from getting hurt by you. See? I'm a nice guy." A bit of a smirk was on his face as he said the last bit.

    The knight listened to Michiko Nishanti go on with that whole long lives thing some elves and dwarves liked to get into. Usually the ones coming from around the east lands. He waited for her as she then shifted into something about her own personal conflicts and problems. He just kept on listening until she was done.

    "Everyone is effected by violence. Not just us but also you. Reasonable folk get that and let go. Not everyone is reasonable though. They are the ones Cedric worries about here." Rurick paused. He remained silent for a moment before he went on in a more serious tone than any he had used until now. "You underestimate Davos, Mallen, and our culture. Humans have shorter lives than elves, but it doesn't mean we are less capable. We just march forward at a quicker pace and pass on tasks to the next generation. It works just as well as elves long lived completions. Don't believe it? You have seen Silverhearth for yourself. The Silverbloods are responsible for it all."

    Rurick rolled his shoulders to adjust his armor and clothing a bit as he paused. "If you keep looking at this whole dinner as a test you will find yourself without a marriage, without a house to support your and your people, and far far away from lands that are likely to be friendly to you based only on your race and noble heritage." He pointed towards Lord Silverblood who was speaking with a group of his knights. "That man and his wife have taken you and your people in. He is seeing you cared for and taking a huge risk arranging a marriage with an eastern elf to his brother. A brother mind you who has been directly serving the council and the high king for years now. Kaelen, your fiance, is well known and well respected. Diplomacy, trade, and military might. All of it made better across Mystmarch because of that man's brother." The knight pointed to Cedric once again.

    "And he is risking putting Kaelen, his family, and his people into a weaker political position for you and your people. I don't know what he sees in you or why he is doing it. But he is. Now I suggest you stop thinking of every little action like a test and treating them like your enemy. You might just be able to get something out of this for yourself and your people if you do."
     
  16. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    “Harmed by me, Sir Rurick? In the span of six hours, I delivered a letter, discovered my exile for believing that castes are useless prisons, and your Silverbloods are dangling a man over my head as a form of salvation. You misunderstood everything I said concerning your lifespan. Elves’ living for a millennia does not make us better, Sir Knight. Only more filled with grief that you might not share it.” Michiko kept her chin raised, viewing the room as the den of unfamiliar creatures it was. She missed her forest, the shrine of the dragon. Rurick missed nothing but the axe he craved to grind.

    “Fiancé... I am not as lucky in associating with the Silverbloods as long as you. A few hours of dazed introspection is warranted to acclimatize to such news, don’t you think? These… verbal images of Kaelen… they do him credit… I will be no man’s bride unless we accept each other. Kaelen Silverblood does not know I exist.” Michiko’s hoarse whisper barely reached to Sir Rurick’s ear. Her breathing increased in rapidity, her face descending to a mask. “I wish you every happiness with the ursine lady. And thank you for the words of caution. I shall take them all to heart.”

    The politics of these Silverbloods was more complex than Even Zal probably realized. Risk and reward. What was Michiko if she was not useful? What was she but an expensive and perilous toy for their dear younger brother?

    “Oh I am sorry darling, I do not know why I’m crying. It must be the candlelight.” A woman close in proximity to Michiko reached for a handkerchief. Two feet away, a man sniffed and rubbed his eyes.

    Michiko shifted and took a deep breath. The tears shifted, conversations moved on harmlessly without pause. The Grey Maiden drifted back to her nursemaid’s side, kneeling to be at eye level with Ainyo.

    “My Lady! Do say greeting to Sir Kell and Lady Mia. They grow the most wonderful quality of irises, and I did hope you would not mind I offered your assistance in cultivating our own hybrids.” The aging elf patted Michiko’s arm, with a serene smile on her face. “I brought seed.”

    A gasping smile basked upon Michiko’s face as she hugged her lifelong servant and companion. “Yes, Ainyo. Yes I would love to speak of our flowers. Sir Kell, Lady Mia, you grow the iris flower?”

    “Yes! And you grow them as well? Please, call me Mia.” Mia offered her hand, dressed in a dress of common fare. Michiko took it, feeling the warmth of a human hand. The pulse within Mia, a spark bright and fickle of length.
    “Mia, anyone who can cultivate irises is worthy of being called a Lady. Yes, I grow them quite well in the Wood… grew, I suppose.”

    “Is it true, Ma’am? Are you engaged to House Silverblood? A woman hears whispers. Why else would my husband and I be called so quickly to Silverhearth? So early, when a Lady is introduced?”

    Ainyo’s eyes twinkled. She gazed up at her charge, holding Michiko’s hand in her own. ‘He is risking putting Kaelen, his family and his people into a weaker political position for you and your people.’ The Grey Maiden focused on her breathing,

    “Are you alright, Lady Kaho? I didn’t mean nothing by it. Just rumours is all, they traverse a hall like this in a couple of blinks.” Mia looked to her husband, who whispered quietly in her ear.

    “My apologies, Mia. We have all been travelling without cessation until we arrived earlier today. I am merely tired and famished. Is it the usual custom here in SIlverhearth to mill about in community prior to the evening meal? How fascinating… what other flowers do you grow? Perchance do you have water lilies? Or snapdragons?” Mask of serenity back on her face, Michiko’s gaze fell to her arm, which was snapped up by Mia in both of hers.

    “Oh you poor dear, travelling all that way. Not a moment’s peace round here, House Silverblood keep us all plenty in the thick of it, a better group of nobles you never will see. Snapdragons, I’ve grown them. Never the water lilies though, we’ve got a pond. Bit of stream on our property… but it is true, innit? You’re here for our Kaelen. Warrior, him. Kind of fetching, if’n you don’t mind the silver hair.”
    “Colour of the moon, silver. Mother used to say silver was the moonlight dancing on the water. In the trees… I would like to meet Kaelen very much. Perhaps your farm is close enough for my compatriots and I to ride to you? We could bring you some water lilies. Fish and frogs love water lilies, they’re a place to cool when the sun is high, food when the sun is cool, and fragranced for our noses.”
    Mia smiled, letting go of Michiko’s arm and re-taking her husband’s. “Sounds like a fanciful afternoon. Send a messenger before you come, and I’ll put the kettle on. Course Lady Ainyo’s invited too. You’d quite like my garden, I expect. Lots of the best produce, no mistake.”

    “We look forward to it, Mia. Thank you.” The Elven Maiden watched Mia and her husband walk off, drifting naturally into a new conversation, where the women whispered and gave pointed looks in Michiko’s direction.

    “Michiko? Isn’t this a beautiful place? Aren’t the folk lovely? Have you had the chance to talk to Lord Cedric? He is a dear, and he’s fond enough of you, my rose petal.” Ainyo whispered, patting Michiko’s hand.

    “Yes, Ainyo. They are lovely. All of them, in their ways and they’re protective enough of my… what did Sir Rurick call him? My Fiance? Might you have had a hand in speaking with Cedric, perchance?” Michiko turned her eyes to the mischevious old woman beside her, a smirk growing on her usually serene face.
     
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  17. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    The knight stood there and half listened as Michiko Nishanti said her peace. She then made a statement of departure before retreating off to her nanny. Childish really, but what noble really wasn't a child at times? It came with having the power to do what you wanted with little consequence after. At least when they were dealing with commoners and lesser nobility. Rurick just gave a sigh and longingly looked over at his furry beauty for a moment. If only. He then followed after the elven maiden as was his duty. He stayed close enough to be able to respond to things but far enough away to not intrude on her "privacy."

    The conversation between the eastern elves and the couple was pleasant for the couple. Only kind words were being spread about them. Not something they would know however in the moment. Instead while the pair of elven women had their hushed conversation between each other a young man that was clearly under the age of adulthood yet getting close to it walked towards them. He was dressed in a mixture of blue and gray, as most gathered were, but had a bit of red with it. His hair was a light brown and eyes gray. The word handsome was likely to be the first word said to describe his face and the second likely was confident.

    Right after the question about speaking to Cedric was asked, the young man engaged the two ladies.

    "You are the easterners everyone is gossiping about." The young man said as he looked them up and down. A bit of a frown crossed his face and some disappointment in his eyes. "One is old and the other dressed like a man. Hardly the wise woman and exotic beauty."

    Arms were cross in front of the young man's chest and his eyes looked down at the two of them as they sat. He was already tall for his age and showed signs that he was not yet done. His body was lean yet had the firmness of regular use. Physically he was healthy but hardly as intimidating as he was clearly trying to be from the look on his face.
     
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  18. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    When there was only person one knew in a room, it was natural behaviour to gravitate toward that known. Noble or commoner, it was the behaviour of all. Michiko caught her breath at the drift of Mia and Kell.

    Sir Rurick was the sort of man Michiko loved in one predicament: throat under her sword in battle. Perhaps his skills made him useful. Maybe the Silverbloods were in their way attempting to get Michiko to run. She knew too little of them to tell.

    When the whelp of a boy sauntered up with the supposed authority of man of the manner, Michiko’s eyes narrowed.

    “And you must be King of all you see. Go back to your mother. You shall get no dance from mi’lady.” Ainyo’s eyes crackled, her jaw as hard as any could have seen. Michiko his a smirk behind a yawn and stood up to look the rude youth in the eye.

    “It is a miracle any human males are left to reach adulthood with such tongues.” Michiko whispered quietly between herself and Ainyo. She answered the boy with silence, turning her back to him and striking up a conversation with a trader, who earlier mentioned types of tea.

    “Sir Devon, I wonder what teas you have in stock at your establishment. Perhaps anything of a more floral scent? Or roasted?” The best way to engage a head heavy young thing was to ignore it.

    Devon blinked, looking between the boy and the elf. “Ah.. oh yes. Yes.”

    Kaelen Silverblood
     
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  19. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    The whispers and ignoring by the maiden got the desired effect from the young man. A scowl formed as she went over to speak with Sir Devon. Sir Devon. The man was only a knight because his father and grandfather and great grandfather had been knights before him. He inherited the title. Who cared if he had successfully expanded the yield of his fields by creating several new strands of various grains? The man was a glorified farmer and barely knew how to hold a sword!

    Marching over as if he owned the hall, the young man went over and glared at Michiko Nishanti and Sir Devon. The man gave the young man a nervous look which prompted the young man to say in a tone filled with arrogance and entitlement, "Leave now or else."

    Sir Devon looked between the two for a moment. It was clear he felt conflicted on what to do but ultimately made a polite withdrawal asking for Michiko to speak with him further later. The farming knight left the two together.

    The young man did not wait and in a voice that had some cracking of age said, "You easterners have no manners. Someone speaks with you and you ignore them. No wonder you are uncourted at such a late age." With extra bite he added, "Even for an elf."
     
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  20. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    “Many thanks, Sir Devon! I do hope to investigate your tea supp-“ the whelp interrupted, and Michiko’s face contorted in a smile. She laughed, with a shake of her head. “Worry not, Sir Devon. The mannerless whelp will receive the fruit of his planting. As I will discover your tea.”

    While the boy maneuvered in front of her, Michiko drifted off to procure a cup of wine. She smelled and sniffed it, her smirk radiating across a lovely face. A sip, and she allowed the wine to coat her tongue before swallowing it, as the boy made his words known to all round them.

    “What would I possibly gain by speaking with a thin-limbed infant, who thinks himself tall and broad? Learn well this lesson, child. A woman speaks with those worth expending the energy to communicate. Not with the loud, brash warble of a thimble which thinks itself champion of the hand.” With that, Michiko once more turned her back on the boy, any curiosity of who he was answered by a glance to his father Cedric, and his mother the Lady SIlverblood.

    A son, then. Michiko chuckled and drifted to another group of people, both common and noble, who appeared to be speaking of recent news from across the ‘March.

    Kaelen Silverblood
     
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  21. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    The young man was furious with what Michiko said to him in response. How dare she speak to him like that! It was utterly rude and deplorable behavior. She called herself a noble too. Hah! As if any of noble blood would actually pick her. It was obvious why her marriage had to be arranged for her.

    After the maiden turned to join another group, the young man followed and intercepted before she could. He slapped her drink out of her hand with a wrath crimson face. In a voice that was meant to be more of a whisper but could be heard by those near them he said, "At least I can think of myself as a champion. What about you? Last of your house and watching the last of your people die off." He pointed towards Ainyo. "Like her."

    Heavy footsteps could be heard approaching them, but the young man did not seem to notice. A silence as heavy as the steps fell over the hall. All eyes were on Michiko Nishanti and the young man. After a couple of moments Cedric was upon them. A heavy frown and deeply frustrated eyes was all that greeted them. In a tone equally serious and commanding he said, "What have you done?"

    "Yeah. What have you done?" The young man responded with a shit eating smirk on his face as if he had won some grand victory.

    "Not her. You." Cedric said with a glare begging for defiance from the young man.

    The young man looked completely caught off guard. The thought of him being on the wrong side here had never crossed his mind. He just looked between the two as he took a step back. But Cedric's gaze froze him in his retreat and demanded the young man's complete attention. The hall waited with held breath for the next word to be uttered.
     
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  22. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    #22 Michiko Nishanti, Mar 10, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
    Not a single voice echoed once the boy got going. Michiko allowed her face to take the serene set of one who meddled little in the affairs of lower beings.

    “Champion! Ladies and gentlemen, our child champion! Defender of his self-respect and destroyer of wine, whose only weapon is the misery and deaths of those he neither killed, nor knew.” Her wine cup clashed on the floor, liquid spilling down the Lady Kaho’s dress. It beaded off, rolling down without a stain. A sweep of her hands and the Lady Kaho bowed with a cold smirk. A chill came to the countenance of those nearest, until the entire hall felt a lonely and serene grief for the dead. “To the true nature of House Silverblood. Long may it reign.”

    Absolved of any sensation of guilt or rationale toward staying as a guest, Lady Michiko Kaho turned to leave the hall. Lord Cedric’s feet stomped, Ainyo rose with a dignity beyond her circumstance. The grief broke, no emotion left to share with those whose denizens were so rude and unappealing.

    “I know not the customs of House Silverblood, Lord Cedric. I came in good faith to sup at your table. Your Knight insults me, your progeny takes victory for lives he did not kill, and spoils the conversations in this hall like a pretentious, infantile snake in high fields. If this is the future of House Silverblood, I would have no part in it. And knowing none of the justice or law in this castle, I can only assume this is your true face. Were we in the Nishanti Wood, I would by rights remove the offending brigand’s tongue, lest the shame of his words. I would wish a good evening to you and your House. Please give Lady Silverblood my regrets. I much desired to speak more with her.” The Grey Maiden held her chin high and face serene, awaiting the inevitable chasing off from the boy’s father.

    Kaelen Silverblood
     
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  23. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    Cedric put up a single finger to his son and held it there. He turned his attention to Michiko Nishanti after to address her words. The young man didn't move a single muscle the entire time. He had never seen his father this upset before and deep down knew he had crossed a line he knew he would regret soon.

    "My deepest apologizes Lady Michiko for the actions and words of both my son and Sir Rurick. They are not the customs of my House nor my people. They both will be punished and learn their lessons on exactly how much they have transgressed." Cedric responded to Michiko in an apologetic yet firm from high emotion tone of voice. She would be able to tell all of the anger, disappointment, and embarrassment he felt was directed entirely at the knight and his son. All he felt towards her was sadness at her treatment and shame it had happened to begin with.

    Cedric turned his attention back to his son. "You think yourself better than Lady Michiko? She even claims you claim victory over her people's death. Sounds like you have issued a challenge."

    The young man began to try to speak to in defense to his father but was frozen by the angry gaze of disappointment. Cedric continued speaking, "A duel. That sounds like a good idea. You have disgraced Lady Michiko and your house with your words. If you are the man you have put so much effort into acting like then you should be allowed to defend yourself. If you win I will allow you to avoid punishment."

    Cedric paused as his son took on a hopeful look. But just as it began to take root Cedric added, "But if you lose then your punishment will be far worse than any you have ever imagined. I will also hand part of it over to Lady Michiko, whom you have so unjustly insulted and disrespected, to enact as she sees fit. I will even allow her to take your tongue if she deems it fit."

    Cedric turned his attention back to Michiko. No one else in the room would be able to tell but it was clear from his emotional state that he was being cruel in this moment. Not cruel to her but to his son. He knew his son had no chance of victory yet was giving him that false hope of it.

    "Is this satisfactory for you Lady Michiko?"
     
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  24. Michiko Nishanti

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    Michiko Nishanti Targets & Tea for Me

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    The swelling storm of emotions settled in their place and direction. While capable of sensing the emotions of others, Michiko often could not ascertain the direction of such emotions without discernment of the situation at hand. Not knowing Lord Cedric Silverblood, nor having an initial indication which one of the two created the most offence, Michiko only felt the roiling anger. The disappointment and bile.

    It was natural for men to defend their sons and with so little experience with the Silverblood House, Michiko waited for a threat or casting out. Instead, she received an apology and the full brunt of a father upset by his progeny.

    “One only knows what they experience, Lord Cedric. Your citizens are wise and friendly, giving of their time and conversations with ease. Others are hesitant and I understand. This evening has been quite educational, would you not agree?” A father glared at his son, raging with an embarrassed disappointment which began to clear in direction. The boy. As she continued to learn the man, she knew where the emotions were directed.

    The boy. That putrid collection of flesh, who ought to be given the fortune of an early and painful death. Or spend his days in mundane and constant disappointment. Eyes flickering around the room, Michiko watched Ainyo sit gingerly on her chair, knuckles pale as she clutched the arms.

    “Yes, a duel is satisfactory. My only question, Lord Cedric, is whether the duel shall be part of tonight’s entertainments, or if we shall conduct such business at dawn. My preference is to conduct it quickly and not leave room for minds to sour. Punishment and discipline with an expedited hand, grace and mercy in constant measures, my father used to say.” Her eyes narrowed, taking stock of the boy and his youth. It was almost a shame to accept such a duel with one so clearly in the throes of his own development into manhood. Scars were unpleasant on the young.

    “In interest of fairness, if your Grace would choose the weapon for this duel, I will accept it as satisfactory. I ask for no armour, nor change of garment, only that my weapons master may enter with the apropos item from my armoury.” Dishonour had to be repaid in kind. If Michiko was to survive in the Mystmarch and House Silverblood, she had no choice but to both accept the challenge and win it with grace. Should she not fulfill this new and immediate quest, she and her people would be both laughing stock and targets ridiculed across the storm isles. Since none knew of how she and her troupe fought, this would be her only chance to gain respect and draw her own personal line of defence. No doubt those who Rurick mentioned having a distaste for the Yamatakara would root for the youth to claim his dominant position over both woman and elf, but many were the discomforted in the Hall.

    Cedric seemed to understand some form of advantage Michiko had over his brash boy. Any would be foolish to discount the lifetime of battle the elven archer underwent, yet a human male had the talent of youth and luck of strength over a maiden such as the Lady Kaho.

    “Might I know the name of the lad, who thinks himself so tall as to halt the conversations of his future citizens, and speak ill of those alive and dead?”
    Kaelen Silverblood
     
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  25. Kaelen Silverblood

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    Kaelen Silverblood The Thirst Knight

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    "Tonight and with blunted practice weapons. Bruises and broken bones are fine, but accidental death is not." Cedric responded to Michiko right away. His gaze went to Rurick who stood nearby. The knight clearly knew the lines he had crossed yet didn't seem to care all that much. "Rurick. You will prepare everything. Ask both what weapons they wish to use then bring it to the ring."

    Cedric turned his attention to his people gathered in the hall. He boomed out so all of them could hear, "We will have a duel of honor between Michiko of House Kaho and Sterling of House Silverblood. I will allow betting but only spare coin. No putting the farm up as a bet. I do not wish to act as judge for that argument again." His gaze fell upon a short, lean elf, "Am I clear Jessik?"

    The elf turned crimson as the crowd laughed. Excuses and attempts to keep some bit of dignity followed. It was clear this group was closer knit than a more traditional crowd might be. Perhaps a quirk of the Silverbloods' rule or a testament to the nature of Mystmarch itself. Cedric began to order servants around to get the dueling ring prepared for the sudden event. Lady Silverblood was not too happy about things either, but seemed to support her husband's idiotic decisions either way. This was her part of the meetings after all and he was ruining what she had planned.

    As the hall took on a bit lighter mood once again and was filled with all kinds of conversation and motion Rurick approached Michiko Nishanti . "What weapon would you like for the duel? No bows allowed. Wouldn't be very fair for the boy or for the crowd if it was." He would just wait for her reply then nod before heading off to the young Silverblood. How he was taking the prospect of being punished was unknown. He acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
     

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