Completed Of Books & Brothers

"I see..." seemed Initiates were exempt from the societal norms expected of Nobles their age. She'd not been aware Ralene was a noble ... one from a Great House no less, but that she was loose with her morals...

And apparently so was her brother, which gave cause for concern about potential noble bastards.

Well, another topic for another time, perhaps. Not today.

"I acted as Edric's escort to a gala in Oban for one of his missions... to say that I was surprised at how well he cleaned up would be an understatement." She had expected to attend with Olvir, who had to cancel rather suddenly after his father recruited him for some errand elsewhere.

"Curious," she remarked, "he was quite out of his element among society but a more competitive spirit I have never met."
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"Well, we weren't exactly enrolled in finishing school," Elias says in turn, "And you don't even know the half of it."

Curious, he leaned over the table.

"How'd that end up going? Working with one of us?"
"Too right, I'm afraid I know very little of your upbringing aside from rumor..." Ollie had told her some pieces but even he was remiss to speak at length.

"He was clearly displeased with his role," Elsi did not even bother to subdue the smirk that curled her lips, "dressed in fines and ignorant of the rules or decorum. He very much would have liked his own rules to apply, I think. We were encouraged to join the gala's games and the ton is notorious for cheating. He was infuriated after experiencing it first hand. I feared if I let him out of my sight for a moment I would round a corner to find him strangling some hapless noble...much as that would have amused, it would not have been looked upon favorably considering he was there as protection."

A gentle knock sounded at the entrance of the solar where her Handmaiden stepped in, "Pardon the interruption, Miss, but dinner is ready."

"Thank you - I hope you are hungry, brother. My new cook is especially gifted," Elspeth rose from her chair, adjusted the bangle on her wrist, and nodded her head for him to follow through to the dining room.

"All that said, he made for refreshing company," she began at length after some time to carefully consider her words, "and I can understand why you might befriend a person like Miss Banick. She seems a genuine and dependable sort." A rare person, that, as much among killers as it was among society.
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Rumors. If she'd take a look at the most esteemed of Eli's order and how they were brought up, how long until she'd turn her gaze away? His, Ed's, Ral's... it wasn't much different. At least not until the end.

Eli smirked along with his sister's account of the evening, nodding along. Sounds like the guy he knew.

"If the food's even half as good as how it smells, I'd believe it," he says and moves to follow Elsi.

Then he found himself nodding again, "Yeah. She's like that."
The dining room was an intimate affair and nothing like the classically, almost severely formal hall at the Sirl Manor. She preferred it this way; warm and cozy, comfortable and welcoming. Elspeth took meals with a wide variety of peoples from a wide variety of backgrounds. Tonight would be the first she would host a Dreadlord ... well, Initiate, at her home.

She hoped it wouldn't be the last.

They arrived to a square table set with clean porcelain, clear glasses, and polished silver. Elsi took her seat and waited for her brother to take his before nodding to the server to begin bringing in the courses.

"Will you have them served at once, m'Lady?" the server asked.

"Yes," she nodded with a light smile, "my brother has a long trip ahead of him."

And so out came the platters of freshly baked bread, spring greens, a small pot of cream soup, and the main course of roast duck.

"Help yourself, please, I don't stand on high formality here," Elsi said to him as she picked up a set of tongs to make a salad, "father would be loathe to hear those words..."

"Wine, m'Lord?" she server offered Eli.
The dining hall at their family home was much more spacious. Father would sit what felt like miles away at the head of the table. At least he had the last time Eli had shared a meal with him, however many years ago that was. It was before things changed.

Elias watched in silence as everything was laid out before him. A baser part of him switched on, and he swallowed hard as succulent duck was set in the middle of it all.

"Sure, don't gotta tell me twice," he sits on the edge of his seat and leans forward to take an empty bowl and hold it close to the pot of soup, scooping generous ladle-fulls of it for himself.

"Wine, m'Lord?"

"Yeah. Something white, if you have it," and very quickly, he added on, "Please. Thanks."

Settling back in his seat, he reaches for the fresh loaf and rips himself off a considerable chunk.

"Haven't ate like this in, shit... A while."
A pleased expression formed on her face as she spooned cooked vegetables onto her salad, "I suppose they don't feed you like nobility at the academy, do they." A rhetorical question

"Though I imagine they can't afford starving you or feeding you scraps..." Elspeth eyed her brother, needing not to see the physique beneath his layers to know he was kept well enough, "a warrior needs sustenance to maintain their strength. Magic must take its toll as well, am I wrong?"
"Can't say we ate well, but we sure ate our fill. So you're right," he chuckled, "We certainly built our bodies."

Elias takes a moment to cut off a portion of the duck—one of its legs. Sets it on one side of the plate. Puts some greens next to it, then continues talking about the Academy.

"Some of 'em, their magic wears 'em down. Needed the fuel. Others, not so much. I'm the latter."
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Now there was a subject she was exceptionally curious about.

"So you mean you don't require food to support your magic? What do you use then?"
Eli shakes his head, "I work very hard to look like I could rip a man apart, piece by piece, with my bare hands. Sorry to talk like this over food. But whether I looked like this or not, I'd still be strong."

He draws a slow curve in the air with his pointer in a slow right-to-left direction, "My power follows the sun. It powers me. Causes my blood to burn. Gives me authority over a terrible flame, and the strength of ten men."

Then he settles back into the seat and takes up the fork by his plate, and starts to idly pick at the greens, "And at night I'm useless as all fuck."
Elspeth smiled faintly at her brother's description of himself. He did, indeed, look as though he could do such things and she suspected this garnered him no small amount of attention from various women. If they also knew about his magic? By the gods ... Vel Anir was probable rife with his bastards.

She covered the dawning wince of thought with a bite of her salad.

"Surely not ... you're a trained warrior. I'm certain your skills and talents go well beyond your physical and magical merits, but-" she dabbed at her mouth with her napkin with a thoughtful look, "is that why you asked if I even felt fire in my blood?"
Elias beings to take bites from his plate. The first one leaves him with a pleasant expression.

"Yeah. We share blood, so I thought, 'maybe'. Glad I thought wrong."

Another bite.

"This is real good. And you get to eat like this whenever you're home." Elias cants his head to one side and whistles.

"All this talk about me. What about you, huh? Oli said once a while back that you studied in Oban? Or was is Dornoch."
"Share blood?" Elsi offered him a humored glance, "We more than share blood, dear brother we are twins. We shared a womb." And all the other many things they shared while growing within their mother - by and large for at least 8 months they were very nearly one person.

"But I see your point, by and large genetically inherited magic is a strongly studied but poorly understood subject, such is the elusive nature of definable origins of magic itself-" she might've gone on, considering her medical knowledge, education, and background but was cut off by the remark of the food.

"Yes, I consider myself very lucky indeed to eat so well, there are so many who do not." The mention of Olvir warmed her features substantially into a fond expression, "Does he speak to you about me? How very ungentleman-like of him..." though her smile persisted in a droll fashion, "I lived abroad and studied in Dornoch. Some of the greatest advances in medical care and medicine are found there so naturally that is where I wished to learn. I hoped that path would one day lead me back to you," she looked up at him, "and so it did."
How excited would she be to get her hands on the Annals, Elias thought. Perhaps not giving it to her was a subconscious decision, a resolution that he would return from his first assignment with the Knights. See her again.

He'd never felt such uncertainty about things before.

"Funny how our paths," he holds his index fingers up in front of his chest, parallel to each other, "are such opposites. And yet-" he makes an X in the air with them, "-they lead to an intersection. I learned how to kill good, and you learned how to help people. You had a choice, and I didn't."

Or maybe it wasn't that funny or odd, after all. It would've happened eventually, their meeting. At a gala, or some boring shit like that. Maybe Oli would have been the one to bring them back together.

"Never been, but I understand Dornoch is culturally rich."
"Yes," Elspeth's expression sobered at the thought of their divergent lives, "I think about that quite often, actually. Everything I have done for my life has been in direct response to everything that has been done to yours."

Would she still have gone into medicine had her brother not been found a mage? Would she yet stand as the heir to House Sirl?

"Dornoch is lovely and much more culturally diverse than Vel Anir. Moving there has altered everything about the way I think of the world and the people in it. I should like to have a home there, some day. Have you ever been to Dornoch?"
"But you didn't know me. You didn't owe me any of that."

Elias ponders the thought for a moment as he takes another bite. He'd rarely thought about her. For a while, she'd even been completely forgotten. Those thoughts were beaten out of him early. Survival posed at the forefront of his concerns.

"I've seen quite a bit of the world. But still, there's so much I've yet to see. Dornoch, too. Never been."
"Owe you? Elias, you're my brother," she shook her head, "this isn't about owing anyone, it's about family. I realize that is perhaps not a concept you subscribe to but you don't have to, because I do. With the state that father has been in the last few years ... you're the only family I have left."

A sigh followed as she moved next to ladle soup into her bowl, "Perhaps if you get a breather between missions with the Knights you might join me in Dornoch? I'd love to take you there and show you the city."
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Family was too foreign a concept to Elias. They were just some people that shared blood. His real bonds were shared with those who experienced the same hell as him. Those he trained with, bled with. Killed with.

"If the food's good, then count me in," he smiled at his sister.

He continued eating in silence for a while. Though there was an impulse to ask about their father, he refrained. Didn't want to spoil his appetite by discussing that man.

"Never thought I'd be with the Knights," he suddenly spoke up, "I was being groomed for service to our House. Ventress, for years, had personally trained me. It was common for promising Initiates to take on an apprenticeship with an active-duty Dreadlord. Now, with the way things are, those apprenticeships fell through. It just all seems surreal."
Yes, the food was good, though she was hoping he'd be more interested in spending time with her rather than just food. With a slow, deep breath, Elspeth released a sigh and took in a spoonful of the soup. Couldn't fault him for wanting good food, really.

"The Knights are quite highly respected," she offered, perhaps in an effort to appease what was sounding like disappointment, "and from my understanding, difficult to get into?" Not just any soldier could join the Knights - they only scouted for and took in the best. Having had enough time spent on battlefield fronts as a Medic, she'd picked up some knowledge here and there about the different military divisions of Vel Anir.

"Though I suppose, if you still wished to serve House Sirl you could still do that as a reservist. I'm not sure it would be all that you're hoping for, however. With father acting recluse, there has been very little movement among his men over the last few years. I daresay you'd be... bored to tears."
"They're among the best of us. Real patriots," he said regarding the Knights.

"I don't," he said adamantly, "wish to serve our House. Not a bit."

A stab of his fork through the pile of greens on his plate emphasized the point.

Elspeth's brows rose, eyes widened as she gently stirred her soup and took another spoonful.

"Then you must be glad to have that choice then..." well this conversation had a few more tiger pits than she'd expected.
"It's a good deal. I'd be a fool to pass it up," he shrugs, takes a bite of the greens he brutalized, then followed it with duck.

Elias stifles a chuckle, "Choice... That's funny. They gave us a choice, but that's all just an illusion."

If he were to be asked, it was all the same. They got beat less. Tossed in the box less. But nothing really changed.
She was quiet for several moments, chewing on those words, deciding if she might forgo dinner table etiquette for a break in unconventional meal conversation.

"You know," Elsi paused, then decided what the heck, "I intend to run for Parliament in the future. I will then be in a position to effect change in Vel Anir, including within the Academy." Though no longer smiling, her words held no hesitation of confidence in her ability to gain her seat, "I realize that's far too late for you, but for future generations of Dreadlord Initiates it could mean a great deal. I would very much be interested in learning what the Revolution has changed, if anything at all, for the Initiates of the Academy."
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Eli's reaction to his sister's voiced intentions was a mere quirk in his brow. There wasn't any reason for him to expect that of her, but at the same time, he wasn't surprised.

"And you want me to talk about that?" He ponders it for a moment. A topic that may have been impossible for some to talk about, to others, like peeling a scab off. "Sure, no problem. But, another time. I don't want to ruin the meal for you."
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"Very well," Elsi conceded after a few seconds to consider herself, though momentarily disappointed that he would not speak now. She was hardly concerned with ruining her meal and more interested in making the most of his short visit - given he meant to depart promptly this evening. There was no telling when she'd see him again, especially if he was to be stationing with the Army of the West.

"Tell me then of some of the places you've gone? I understand Initiates are given missions in distant lands..."
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