Private Tales The Failure of Nobility

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Edric

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"Wait, no-" Before Edric could truly object Kristen was suddenly darting down the hall and shouting all sorts of things that he didn't really understand. A frown pulled at his lips as she stormed around a corner.

A hand shot up as if he could reach her, his voice echoing desperately. "KRISTEN!"

The word echoed, but there was no answer. The scion of house Pirian was probably already half-way up the Lyene in search of an appropriate dress.

Fuck. Edric cursed in his head, glancing back towards the heavy door that lay behind him. For a second he thought about just walking away, getting out of here and just...just not going to this dinner. It would have been easier, but according to Kristen it likely would have spelled their expulsion into the sea.

Edric stalled for a few moments. Hanging in the hall. One minute. Two.

Five. Then it was too much.

A deep, ragged breath filled his lungs. Hand swept through his hair, and he tried to put on his most winning smile as he pulled on the heavy steel door.

Inside he found Lady Lorel sitting at a large table set for three people. Two chairs sat opposite one another at the middle, and at the head sat the Captain herself. She was dressed in a far more fanciful version of the uniform Edric wore, though not so much as to make it gaudy.

The young Initiate stepped inside, clearing his throat. "Good Evening Lady Lorel."

Edric said, a pause after his words as he awkwardly bowed in front of her.

"I...am...so glad to be invited to dinner?" His words were cautious, as unsure. Mostly because he was entirely unsure of the protocol that he was supposed to be following.

Adriana seemed to watch him, amusement flickering over her features as he bowed and then prattled onward. She glanced him up and down, approval glimmering over her face before she peered over his shoulder for a moment.

"I am glad to have you, Initiate."

The Noble's voice was like honey.

"Where, pray-tell, is Kristen? I would not have her miss this meal."

"Oh." Edric said, clearing his throat. "Kristen had a...uhh...wardrobe malfunction."

Adrian's eyebrows raised. "So she...went...to fight a battle...against fashion and vanity."

Eyebrows raised higher. "Like all women do..."

Edric wasn't entirely sure the Lady Lorel's eyebrows could have drawn any further up.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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A few, certainly awkward, minutes after Edric braved his way through the door into the captain's galley, Kristen likewise arrived. She too was clad in an Anirian Naval uniform. The top was clearly fitted for a woman, yes, but she wore trousers like Edric instead of a skirt. Not that there hadn't been skirts available, but none of them were ankle-length (which technically would have made them dresses, but semantics)! So Kristen refused to wear any and favored the trousers instead. Not exactly the sort of garment she was accustomed to wearing to formal occasions, but the environs of the Lyene were quite different from those of the past.

She curtsied as soon as she made eye contact with Lady Lorel. "My deepest apologies, Adriana, for running afoul of time. My choosiness often bedevils me. Your crew, however, has been most accommodating and patient, and for that I am grateful."

Kristen approached the table and her chair opposite Edric and stood beside it. Adriana was already sitting down herself, yet proper deference still needed to be displayed.

"May we be seated?"

Edric
 
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Edric

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It seemed almost as though Adriana was about to say something to Edric when the sound of footsteps echoed down the hallway.

Kristen burst into the room like an archangel coming down to save humanity itself. Edric all but let out a sigh of relief as she swept around the table and began to speak her usual high tongue of apologies and woven words.

"No apologies necessary, Kristen. Edric told me of your...wardrobe malfunction."

Amusement played over the words.

"Please do have a seat." She gestured to the chair. "And you too, Edric."

The Captain shot both of them a smile, to which Edric responded awkwardly in kind. A few seconds later he pulled the chair out, sitting himself down and staring awkwardly across the table at Kristen.

He should have had her write a guidebook or something.

"So, Kristen." Adriana said, looking to the other noble. "How are you finding the Academy? My sister rants in her letters, but she's always been a bit...capricious"
 
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Kristen Pirian

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...Wardrobe malfunction? Oh, why did Edric have to phrase it so? By the way in which Adriana had spoken the words Kristen could tell that they were a direct quotation. But it was her own negligence to be faulted here, was it not? Had Kristen not made the careless mistake of complacency, Edric would not have been put in the position he had been.

Nevertheless, they were both here and properly dressed now.

And Kristen sat at Adriana's invitation to do so. Her posture came as second nature: straight back, chin level, feet together, hands primly placed in her lap.

"You'll certainly have to excuse the content of Liliana's letters, Adriana," Kristen said, wearing her best dinner table smile. It wasn't forced, but done in the spirit of good manners and goodwill for one's hosting company. "Even with the sweeping changes brought on by the Republic, the Academy's business is still, inescapably, a rough business. Speaking for myself, though it is a challenging and rigorous ordeal, I believe I shall in the future look back fondly on my time enrolled at the Academy, for the unique strength, discipline, and skill fostered by it could not have come into my possession but through the very tribulations which I endure at present."

She looked over to Edric then. Yes, it was a feature of politeness to extend an opening for him to speak in the conversation, but it wasn't just decorum which drove her. Not just decorum, no, not if she were being truly honest with herself. Despite her pleasant tone, within Kristen's heart was a tiny and vile, acidic sting of judgment. It was ugly, petty, and she knew it to be so. Yet the little jab came out anyway, concealed as a casual and civil question of a light philosophical bent.

"Wouldn't you agree, Edric? That hardship for the body is worth something dear to the soul?"

Edric
 
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Edric

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Kristen once again proceeded to talk all fancy.

He could tell now, that it was a visage. A face that she put on when she thought it was proper. Edric had witnessed that mask slip now, and he couldn't help but wonder if it was something that all nobles did. Liliana was always a picture of poise, Trix and Alistair not so much but...they were different.

Did Adriana have that same mask? Was that what he was seeing right now? A different person than the one who truly sat beneath?

For some reason the thought made him uncomfortable, but he forced himself to stay within the moment. Kristen turned her attentions to Edric, finagling a question that evoked a memory which had very nearly gotten her beaten to death.

Edric forced himself to remain stoic.

No smiling mask adorned his features, instead his face was a marble of neutrality. "I would not be who I am today without the Academy."

It was a shockingly diplomatic answer.

Adriana glanced between the two Initiates, clearly picking up on the subtle thorns between the two. Amusement flickered over her features, but she did not dig further.

"I am so glad both of you feel that way. I myself was not blessed with gifts of magic like my sister."

The Captain said with a pitying shake of her head.

"But I always thought the Academy was a boon to Vel Anir. One of the pillars which keeps our society standing." She smiled at the two Initiates. "For what is Vel Anir without it's Dreadlords?"

Her words seemed to hint at something, floating in the air.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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Kristen gave some small, thoughtful nods to Edric's answer. It was disarming, in a sense, for it prompted a dash of sobering self-reflection.

She knew who she would be without the Academy. The Darling Daughter, that same helpless flower, held captive by fear long after she had been rescued from the Blades. She knew it because that fear was still very much a part of her. She knew it because she was still very much at the whims of the powerful, and that she hadn't the slightest hope of relying upon herself to put up a worthy resistance.

Edric could have killed her if he wanted. Not just in the wheat field, but at any time throughout their journey. He said as much and they both knew it was true. There was nothing meaningful she could have done to even come close to stopping him, to have a chance at fighting back, of saving herself. The thought consumed her. How much different would it have been if she had not been withheld from the Academy? What could she have been today if she had had the privilege of being enrolled into the Academy years prior?

Adriana brought her back to the dinner table. To the current conversation.

"Well spoken, Adriana," Kristen concurred. "We secure Vel Anir's rightful place upon Liadain."

Then, after a slight pause and a quick realization. "Oh, but it is presumptuous for me to say 'we,' for Edric and I have yet to graduate. And in my particular case, my enrollment being novel for the testing of an unproven regimen of training, I've plenty yet to earn and accomplish. But I embrace the responsibility placed upon me by my House—that I might be an example of what a Dreadlord should look like under our new Republic."

And Kristen let it rest there.

Edric
 
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Edric

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"How lovely." Adriana said, not a hint of sarcasm to her tone. She smiled for a moment, looking between the two Initiates.

She appeared as though she were about to say something, and then stopped as the door to their left suddenly fell open. From the heavy bulkhead stepped a man carrying a tray of glasses as well as a bottle. He quickly made his way around the table, placing one stem besides all three of the Anirians.

"Perhaps then." Adriana began again as the Server poured their wine. "You will not mind me imposing on you with more responsibility."

The Noble offered them a pleasant smile, and instantly Edric realized that this was what Kristen had been talking about.

He looked across the table to her, and then seized the small moment. "Of course not, My Lady."

Kristen had said there was no denying this play, and it was best to simply embrace it. Whatever the Lady Adriana had in store for them, Edric figured that it was good to show his willingness. At least it wouldn't appear like Kristen was dragging him across the floor kicking and screaming.

"What about you Kristen?" Adriana asked. "I would not have you involve yourself in something against your will."

She smiled, an easy, almost concerned smile.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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Kristen didn't touch her glass of wine yet. Maybe in a moment, but not just yet.

"Please, go ahead and propose what you have in mind." There was a certain level of eagerness and interest in her voice that she did not need to fabricate in the slightest. That urge for redemption was still there, the need to make up for falling apart in the wheat field. And, who was she kidding, Vel Acan as well—this was a long time in coming.

At the same time, she didn't want to accept Adriana's proposal without having an idea of what she and Edric would be getting into. Whilst Edric had no such concerns, Kristen had to keep in mind the image of her House. The Lyene's mission was one not official sanctioned by the Academy as part of her training. It was one sanctioned by the Republic, yes, but still there was the potential—even if Kristen could not state what it might be—for House Pirian to not approve for some reason. House Virak and House Pirian were allies, but each had its own interests.

So a considering hand rose to meet Kristen's chin as she prepared to receive Adriana's response.

Edric
 
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Edric

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Adriana reached out, grasping the stem of her wine glass and taking a slow sip. She seemed to almost muse over the glass, as if in thought, then looked to the two Initiates.

"There is a ship, traveling from Cortos." The Noble began her explanation, swilling her wine as she spoke. "I do not know under which flag."

Hence why the Lyene had stopped the Dwarven vessel. "But aboard it is a traitor."

She looked slowly to Kristen, then to Edric.

"Herim Urahil." Edric stiffened slightly as she said the name, not because he recognized the man, but because of the family he was from. Even he knew all the names of the Great Houses.

"We believe he is traveling to the free city of Salesia, on one of the Cortosi Isles." She glanced to Kristen. "Herim was a part of the ruling Council before the Revolution. Whats more, he was House Urahil's military attache."

"I do not have to explain what that means."
Edric looked to Kristen desperately, clearly; she did need to explain.

"The Lyene is supposed to capture his ship before he makes it to Salesia, but..." Adriana shook her head. "Even with our support ships, I am beginning to doubt our ability to find him before he makes it there."

It didn't take a genius to figure out where this was going. "You want us to go to Salesia."

Edric said, frowning.

An unasked question that was answered with a nod from Adriana.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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The weight of the situation dawned on Kristen the moment Adriana said Herim Urahil. Something of a cold shiver crept down her spine and her eyes subtly widened. The enormity of the task the Lyene was embarked upon cleanly eclipsed the failed mission (or perhaps, the set-up mission) she and Edric had out in the desert.

And the thought of that, their failed mission, introduced another strong point: that it would behoove the two of them to not return to the Academy without something, at least, to show for their efforts beyond their survival. Placing aside those concerns of a set-up and the attempt to see the two of them dead, still she and Edric had to worry about the more normal concerns of the Academy and the Proctors and the marks by which their progress was judged. The initiative shown here in service to the Republic could ameliorate, to some degree, the failure of their assigned mission.

House Pirian did not have the best relations with House Urahil, such was true. And if the breadth of Herim's betrayal expanded far indeed, the Republic—which House Pirian prided itself on supporting—would be grateful. However embarrassing this must be for House Urahil, House Pirian would not be adverse to it.

Kristen placed her entwined hands on the table. Engaged. "And, I assume, the city of Salesia will not look so kindly upon Vel Anir imposing itself upon their sovereignty with a massive force to search for Herim. Thus..." And she spread her hand out from herself to Edric, then clasped it again, "...our arrival is most convenient and fortuitously timed."

The most impactful part. The most pertinent part. Kristen kept her uncertainty on this point bottled. "Is Herim to be taken alive? Or...does the Republic's mercy not extend that far for him?"

Edric
 
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Edric

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A long pause carried through the room.

Edric hadn't even thought to ask the question of whether the man was to be taken alive or not. The answer had been simple for him, anyone who was a traitor to Vel Anir had to die. That was it. That was how it had always been.

Whether it was a runaway from the Academy or a Noble who knew too much.

"Herim cannot be allowed to share what he knows." Adrian's voice was cold. Sure of itself. There was not a single doubt in what she said. Not a single inch of give or shift. "Salesia is a free city."

She told the two Initiates. "And the Republic does not want war."

By now Edric knew enough to understand.

He saw through the lines, the words the two nobles traded. This was important. This was how the world functioned. Steps taken to ensure peace, to ensure the safety of everyone back home. His friends. His family.

Edric looked to Adriana.

"How will we get there?" The Lyene was far too much of a ship to slip into any port. Reports of this ship would rock the world.

"We have a few...boats that we captured." Adriana explained. "I shall give you some sailors to steer you true to the city."

She smiled as she spoke.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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Kristen touched the stem of her wine glass as Adriana elaborated, and then, relenting in her abstinence from her, lifted it and took a sip. A purely strange thought, incidental to the moment: that she was glad, even at her younger age, to have tasted spirits before. My how girlish she would have looked in front of Lady Lorel to wrinkle her nose and grimace at the alcoholic burn, as she had done when first she tried wine.

"I understand now the sensitivity surrounding the task that you have been entrusted with, Adriana, and the need for secrecy." She set the glass back down. "Very well. Understanding the gravity of the situation, I will join with my fellow Initiate Edric and pledge myself to the endeavor. 'Twould not do at all if Herim's folly led to a senseless war."

Edric
 
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Edric

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"Wonderful." Adriana said with a wide smile, taking another sip of her wine.

It was exactly like Kristen had said it would be. The Lady Lorel had needed something, and she had gotten it from them. A frown touched his lips for a brief moment, his gaze flickering between the two Noble women as he puzzled through what had happened.

Was this the Great Game of the noble houses? It seemed like there were a dozen layers, and each one just revealed more to understand. "One of my Lieutenants will fill you in."

She told the two Initiates.

"But for now, let us enjoy dinner, shall we?" Adriana said with a smile, glancing at Edric. "You haven't touched your wine, is it not to your taste?"

Edric frowned for a brief moment. "I...uhhh."

He reached out, grasping the glass gently and plucking it off the table. He frowned for a moment as he caught the sweetened sense, tasting just a small sip. His face contorted slightly, but a forced smile drew over his lips.

"Mmm...it's...delicious..." Edric said slowly. Looking to Kristen desperately.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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Kristen couldn't help but to smile in turn when Edric sipped his wine. Hers was not forced, but instead was genuine with a small victorious edge to it. It simply felt so good to be within her element—a realm in which she thrived. Even if it was just a small part for him, Edric had to feel much the same when he was in combat, utilizing his strength and his magic to best his enemies in battle. One day, Kristen might be able to claim such an element as her own too.

"A most exquisite choice, Adriana," Kristen said of the wine, lifting her glass in preparation for another taste. "Especially when one considers the exotic environs."

The same door once again fell open as Kristen took a drink and three servants came in. They each set down plates before them—beef, vegetables, fruits, many an item reserved for the higher ranking officers—and carefully arrayed silverware and folded handkerchiefs to go alongside. Once done, they bowed in unison and took their leave.

Before she began, Kristen said, "Forgive my lack of insight into your accomplishments, Lady Lorel, but great indeed must they be for you to have been entrusted with command of so mighty a vessel and so important a mission. House Virak holds you high esteem, no?"

Edric
 
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Edric

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Adriana smiled at Kristen. "I would call none of my accomplishments 'great'."

The Lady Lorel was of course, lying, but modesty was often important in these types of conversations. More often than not bragging was seen as utterly uncouth. Only fools boasted about their accomplishments. The truly successful allowed them to speak for themselves.

"I served in the Anirian Navy for some years." She explained. "Most of my tours were spent corralling the pirates of the Black Bay."

Adriana clicked her tongue. "My name was made when I captured The Yrisal, Captained by a man named Turok."

Turk the Bane had been a legendary pirate. An Ogre who had Captained a ship with a crew of cutthroats, murderers, and slavers. He had been a fierce man, and incredibly deadly. Adriana had managed to sink his ship after three days of pursuit. "After that, it was Lady Virak's father who recognized my duties and asked me to join the House Guard."

She shrugged.

"Since then, I have shown myself capable and within House Virak..." Adriana took another small sip of her wine. "That is all one needs to succeed."

Slowly she looked to Edric.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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Most of my tours were spent corralling the pirates of the Black Bay.

Kristen's brows perked receptively. This one statement alone warmed Kristen considerably to Adriana, and her smile became more than merely cordial. Anyone who combated pirates was a saint in Kristen's eyes. Pirates were the lowest of the low, the briny scum of Arethil. Not a one of them was worth suffering. Not a single one. Predatory vermin, unworthy of the consideration of mercy and worthy only of unequivocal contempt.

May the Dark Ones feast eternally on their damned souls.

The look toward Edric was deliberately conspicuous, and even he had to recognize the unsubtle implication behind it. Where House Sirl had apparently courted him in the past, it seemed that House Virak had taken something of an interest now (or, at the very least, Adriana herself had so scouted him). Kristen took the moment to cut a slice of her pork and partake, hoping the chewing would mask the impish character that had become of her smile. Oh, if only House Virak knew how unsuitable for service Edric truly was. For all his strength, what could it possibly amount to if he lacked the will to use it? Perhaps, if by some queer contortion of fate he did end up sworn to House Virak, they would discover the depths of his disloyalty to Vel Anir the hard way.

A thought, mildly cold: so long as he stayed far from House Pirian, then it was not her place to police his shortcomings nor her responsibility to inform others of said deficiencies. He might have decided to return to the Academy for the sake of a few other Initiates (she hesitated to even think he considered any of them, especially herself, friends), and that was fine in the short term, but would his sense of duty ever expand beyond a thin sphere encompassing only the well-being of a handful of familiar souls around him?

Kristen doubted it. And so it fell to her, and others like her, to bear the responsibility his shoulders were too feeble to carry.

And to do that, Kristen knew she needed to sharpen herself—and quickly. Her magic and her body and her will. Her nerves and her grit. And, most of all, her heart. She couldn't keep allowing more Vel Acans, more wheat fields, to happen. She had to doggedly keep pressing forward. Step by step.

And this mission could be one of those steps she needed. Forward. Not backward.

Kristen set her silverware down for the moment. "Adriana, this present mission will soon be another laurel to add to the many you've collected during the course of your service to Vel Anir, and, when it is done, only the jealous and the vacuous would characterize it as anything other than great."

A brief glance to Edric. Back to Adriana. "We will ensure that Herim Urahil is met with the Republic's proper justice."

Edric
 
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Edric

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Adriana chuckled. "I am sure you will."

The noble said with a nod of her head.

Edric watched the two women banter back and forth, speaking in turned tongues and twists of sentences that he admittedly found rather difficult to follow. They had both received an education to understand all of this, one that he sorely lacked.

Yet when Adriana looked to him, spoke those words of merit...he knew exactly what it was she meant. Edric might not have been educated in the world of nobles, but he wasn't a fool either. Fingers tightened for a brief moment, but he stayed quiet.

Instead he focused on the meal in front of him.

"And thereby earning your own laurels." The Lady Lorel mused before taking another bite of her food.

That was the last significant piece of their conversation. The meal continued on of course, a few more terse words shared, some stories of Adriana's days off the Black Bay, some questions about Kristen and Edric's previous missions. Before long though the dinner came to an end, and Adriana bid both of the Initiates a good night.

It was two days later that Kristen and Edric found themselves standing on the aft deck of the Lyene. Both of them had been briefed on their mission, both of them had been given proper fitting clothes and a small bag of gold to use in Salesia.

They stood in front of a small boat, a sailor named Jez standing alongside them.

"I'll take ye to Salesia. Should take us about a day. The Lyene will stay back here out of sight. The Captain wanted be to give you this."​

The Sailor said, offering a sealed note to Kristen.

"Said to read it once you're on the Island."​
 
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IN VIEW OF SALESIA


All things considered, their fortunes were good. Chancing across the Lyene had been a boon. Lady Lorel was a kind and charitable host—certainly there were worse nobles they could have encountered. And, despite their vast differences and the explosive culminations of tension engendered thereby, Edric and Kristen weren't so abraded by one another's company so as to be completely unwilling to work together.

And they would have to. Work together, that was, if they wanted to have the best chance of dealing with Herim and finally getting back home.

Herim. Herim Urahil. It finally struck Kristen, as Jez had the small boat now within view of Salesia's island shores, that it would funny indeed if House Urahil had been behind the little plot which had left herself and Edric stranded out in the desert and left for dead. Kristen might well have borrow someone else's mouth to make the smug grin she'd want to make if that were so—why, her own she feared just wouldn't be capable!

Kristen held the sealed note in her hand now. She'd unconsciously taken it out of her pocket when they were close, and when she noticed she did not bother to slip it back in.

She waved the note in a manner to catch Edric's attention. "Mayhap you'd like to hazard a guess as to what our special instructions here might be?"

Edric
 
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Edric

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Edric's thoughts were not on the mission ahead, not on Lady Lorel, but rather on himself.

He had spent the last few days thinking about where it was he would go, what he would do. He wanted to return for the others, wanted to see them through the rest of the Academy. But what was beyond that? What was his decision be?

Kristen's words still echoed in his mind, resounding alongside a dozen other voices. Proctor Renou, Ral, Noel, even what Lady Lorel had said.

They made a cacophony of noise in his head. Each one pulling at his string a bit more, each one tugging him in a direction whether he wanted it or not. As they sat in the little boat to Salesia Edric stared ahead, his eyes set somehow past Kristen.

As if he were looking into some abyss.

It was the wave of the note in her hand that caught his attention, not the words she spoke. His head seemed to snap back and forth for a moment, as though he were shaking off some sort of spell. "What?"

Edric glanced at the note."Oh."

Something like this wasn't entirely unusual. He'd had proctors give him secondary orders before, but with Adriana Lorel anything was possible he supposed. Especially now that he understood just how little he knew about the Noble's Games.

"Probably something about Urahil, I'm guessing." He said with a frown. "Maybe about what to do with him."
 
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Edric was normally quiet. Well not quiet. Not quiet like Graham, anyway, or any of the few other Initiates one could classify as shy. He just didn't say much. Even so, his contemplative state over the past few days hadn't gone entirely unnoticed.

But here they were now, embarked on the task that would finally set them homeward bound. The time for contemplation had passed. Kristen herself had put aside her deep worries of failure, of being too weak—physically, magically, emotionally—to overcome what needed to be overcome, of crumbling yet again in the face of adversity. Would she? By Aionus, would she? If it could be said that Edric's strength mattered not without the will, then it could likewise be said that Kristen's will mattered not without the strength.

Such concerns she stowed away back on the Lyene.

The small boat pulled up to the shallow shore of the island, Salesia itself in view some great distance away. Jez had the right of it, of course—best not to chance it by arriving in port. The guilty tended to be made vigilant from their fright, even if none pursued them.

Kristen stepped off from the boat and onto the thin shelf of sand. She glanced to Edric. "Let's find out, then."

She broke the seal with a finger and flicked open the note.

Edric
 
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Edric

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As Kristen opened the letter Edric peered around the bridge, eyes flickering up and down as he searched for anyone and everything. Paranoia clung to him, as though he expected someone to jump out from the nearby rocks.

Kristen,

Though it was an utter pleasure to make your acquaintance I am afraid I had to mar our meeting with lies. At least, with miss-truths.

I did not, and still do not know if Edric could be trusted. For you see, there are many within the Academy that hold allegiances they would not speak of openly. I do not know if he is one of them.

Herim Urahil is not just a man formerly embedded within the military hierarchy, but as you know a former member of the ruling Great Houses. During this time, Herim conducted and very nearly orchestrated numerous plots. Including the attempt on the life of your brother Pedrig.

Enclosed within this envelope is proof of this, for it comes from the same hands as the man who made an attempt on my life.

I could not in good conscience leave these words absent from your mission.

May you do with it what you will.

Yours Sincerely,
Lady Adriana Lorel


When Kristen finally finished reading Edric looked at her. "What does it say?"

He asked curiously.
 
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"...Peddy?"

Kristen's face had sank from receptive with curiosity to pale with disquiet soon into reading the letter. The pet name of her elder brother Pedrig came forth from her lips in a shivering whisper. Pedrig, who'd only just become a man in the eyes of their father, had set out to Vel Numera to be the attending Lord there. Along the way a harrowing altercation happened along the road, and Pedrig was lucky to escape with his life. Kristen, with the horrifying experience of her kidnapping still like an open wound even three years hence, remembered taking an awful fright when father and mother read aloud Pedrig's correspondence of this.

Urahil had done this? The attempt on Peddy, a similar attempt on Lady Lorel. Had they...had they also orchestrated Kristen's kidnapping and the Battle of the Blades?

Enclosed within this envelope is proof of this...

At the end of the letter, Kristen's eyes trailed to the inside of the envelope, where there was still a small weight and something solid within.

She gasped. Dropped the envelope. It plummeted to the sand at her feet and there it lay.

She gasped again when Edric spoke to her, almost hiding the lower half of her face behind the unfolded letter. Then she brought the letter down, clutching it to her chest with both hands. What Adriana had written was...disturbing. But Adriana's concerns couldn't possibly be true. Not with what she knew of Edric. Of course. What allegiance could he hold to House Urahil if all he truly had wanted to do was to run away from Vel Anir?

Even if there had been incontrovertible proof that Edric was in Urahil's pocket, Kristen wouldn't have been able to lie well enough for the sake of her own life.

"Herim..." she said, "is a terrible man. More terrible than I had originally thought."

Her foot nudged the envelope in the sand.

"He tried to have my brother Pedrig murdered."

Edric
 
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Edric

The Warrior
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"Oh." Edric said quietly, a frown touching his face.

For a moment he wasn't entirely sure what to say, what...the proper response was to something like that. He tried to remember his sister, tried to remember what she had been like...what he would say if someone tried to kill her.

His frown deepened as he considered, thought. Lips parted as though he were about to say something, and then slowly he shook his head.

The closest thing he had to a sibling were the other Apprentices. Noel. Talea. Even Ralene. Yet that...that wasn't the same. Not with the Academy. Not with the taint that had been placed upon those Relationships by the Proctors.

He glanced down at the envelope that Kristen had dropped, eyebrows raising as he saw what was within.

His throat cleared. "So..."

Slowly Edric looked back up at Kristen.

"We kill him?" That was what he would want. That was the fate of any man that threatened his family. If he still had one.
 
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Kristen Pirian

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Kristen took in a breath.

"If it comes to it," she said. And even so, even knowing that Pedrig's life had nearly ended at the hands of this scoundrel of a Urahil, there remained a knot of tension in her chest at the thought. Thus far in her training to become a Dreadlord she had neatly brushed aside the ultimate endgame of it, what she would be expected to do. Her mind had narrowed in improving her physical capacity, her magical prowess, her ability to fight, and it had all but blocked out the idea of killing.

Did she have the nerve for it? Even with regard to someone like Herim? Would she ever have the nerve?

To Edric it came so easily. Almost too easily. Kristen was half-certain that if a shopkeep of her image and temperament had accidentally short-changed him a copper he might well rip her heart out for the grievance caused.

Kristen bent down. Picked up the envelope and chucked it into the sea. Then she crumpled up the letter and said, "I need to destroy this." She got an idea just then. And she glanced to Edric, smiling wanly, "You would do well to look away."

Reciting the words and beseeching her Divine magic, Kristen conjured one of her Ashen Crucifixes, the giant cross slamming down into the sand. She lifted the letter to the embers of the smoldering wood and let it catch fire. And when most of the letter was ablaze she gave a dismissive wave of her hand and the Crucifix disintegrated to nothing.

She dropped the letter, the whole thing little more than a blackened and curled remnant, crumbling now to ash in the sand.

Edric
 
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Edric

The Warrior
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Edric turned his head away as the flaming crucifix slammed into the beach, a hand coming up to shield his eyes. "A bit much."

He commented, his voice dry as could be as he watched the crumbling ash.

Slowly the Initiate shook his head, briefly wondering just how far Kristen's magic could go. He had seen what she'd been able to do to the Scorpion, caught brief glances during training. That was all though. Most of his classmates he had seen fight before, least take part in training.

Kristen was still an odd little mystery in some ways. Not the least because her own nerves got so in the way of things.

For a moment more he lingered, then glanced at Kristen. "Let's go."

Edric said as he turned away from the destroyed evidence and began to walk up the beach. He knew that Kristen would not be far behind, and as they left Jez began to push their boat back into sea.

It was not long before the Salesia began to come into view. The curve of one of the cliffs breaking apart to reveal a city carved of limestone and marble. It sat atop the edge of a cliff, directly settled by the sea. There was no wall wrapped around the city, but even from the beach Edric could see towers perched with massive trebuchets.

The city was not an indefensible little fort, but a bastion of it's own making.

A stone staircase presented itself on the side of the cliff, at the top a heavy earthen gate guarded by two men in full plate. It was there that Kristen and Edric headed, the two Initiates taking the long ascent to Salesia.
 
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