Completed The Fanfare Heard Through Valenntenia

Kaira Yehven

the Daughter of Valenntenia
The Guardians of The Rune
Character Biography
martin-vos-artstation.jpgLife had to move on after the months since Homecoming, and for Kaira, she was glad she was once more just a dweller in the Old Town. It was time for morning prayers, to listen to the High Priest speak of the old tales of the Ancients as noted in the Blessed Pages. Ever since Kaira had used her rank as Guardian of the Faith to replace him at the Concluding Prayers for the late Guardian of Fire, the Priest had spared a frown her way. She did her best to blend with the crowd, dressed in her usual skirts and scarf wrapped around her head, but even then many could spot her, as if the Stone around her neck was a beacon to her.

The House of Blessings of Old Town was the oldest and largest building built for those faithful to the Ancients, easily accommodating close to four hundred seated, looking to the dais, close to six hundred being standing room only. The procession up the stairs and through the doors was always a slow stream of movement, and so Kaira hung back so she could enter without being spotted by the High Priest. It was silly of her to want to avoid him, but she felt so strange being there on the dais, looking out to the most people that could squish themselves into a room. It had been sweltering that day, and Kaira had all of Valenntenia watch her perform the Concluding Prayers and say goodbye to a mentor and olf friend of her father's.


Pulled out from her own thoughts, she turned her head towards the voice and froze for a moment before recognition clicked.

"Lale Carvyre?" she smiled politely, warmly. Growing up, she had always found herself at parties or play dates with Lale's late sister when they were only girls. The death of Liya Carvyre was Kaira's first experience of death, and then soon after the tragedy of her parents. Sometimes Kaira had felt that Lale was much like an older sister to her for the way she looked out for her. It was Lale who advised Kaira to go to her family home, to stay out of the streets last autumn before the riots started.

Carvyre knew then what chaos would walk those streets, when it was her father who had started them.

Lale smiled in return, taking a step closer. She was dressed like any noble in Valenntenia would, although in her own fashion. She preferred trousers than dresses or skirts, but each piece of clothing was cut and styled in a way only money could justify.

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Carvyre embraced Kaira like they were old friends, but the way her smile wavered was clue to what she had hoped to speak to the young woman.

"I am not here for a catch up, unfortunately. My uncle wrote to me to make a return to Valenntenia because my father is ill." Watchful eyes honed in on the face of the Faith Guardian, testing the waters to see whether the subject was uncomfortable. If it were, Carvyre would not care for it as it did no real harm to talk about the man that called for the Guardians to be hunted down and taken care of. "He asked to see you too."

She could see Yehven's face twist with confusion, openly wondering what he would want to say to her. Both women knew it was not to apologise.

Lale kept talking, as if there had been no momentary lull. "You know, I had plenty of time to think of what my father has done in my time away from this city. Mother is still gallivanting in Dornoch with her friends, and so I have to make the rounds in greeting the old friend's of the Carvyres in the absence of my parents." She peered at Kaira again, tilting her head to one side in consideration. "My thoughts and words will not be kind to you, I must warn. I invited the Somners and Guardians to our estate outside the city, so that you all will get to listen to me speak with the Absalon."

From her coat pocket, Carvyre slid out an invitation and offered to the Guardian of Faith, who gingerly took it.

Invitations would be sent to every Somner, Guardian, and friends of the Carvyres. She did not expect all to show, but it had been on her mind the months after her father's guilty verdict and imprisonment. His illness would not deter her, not when she was one of the best healers in the ranks of the Vanguard, but even so, she had first hand experience what dangers lie inside and outside these walls of the historical city.

The Carvyre estate was one of the newer builds completed for noble families that wished to be away from the hustle and bustle of the inner city, and the large ballroom had been decorated modestly, as if to create a more casual affair than the sort of society pomp her mother would have designed. It was a rally in disguise, a song for the crowd.

She had a lot on her shoulders being the daughter of the man responsible for the riots that plagues Old Town, but Lale had seen the truth uncovered then.

That Valenntenia needed to change.

And for that to happen, the Guardians needed to step up for this city or face the wrath of those unwilling to fight for those who cannot protect themselves and their Stones.
Vazia never went without her stone, not since the night of Homecoming. Even now, as she walked up the path to the Carvyre estate, her hand rested in the pocket of her black dress. When she stood alone, it appeared a very deep shade of black, but it shifted colors depending on the color of who she was standing next to. As she passed an older couple on the left, wearing the same blue as the night sky, the left side of her dress turned a similar blue. It earned her more gazes than she already recieved when she didn't dress up, but she pretended not to notice.

She already knew many didn't like the Guardians, but with the riots recently they made their opinions quite clear. She figured she should not be the guardian to reassure the people of their good intentions, rather it should be Faith, Passion, or the like. Even though she likely didn't need to come, she supposed it still looked good, showed the people that they were united.

Were they?

Kaira Yehven Lale Carvyre
Where were the snacks? Noi had thought that if she came here, she’d be able to get some snacks before she had to go out and travel. She had traveled the least out of the guardians it seemed. While she had been one of the newer ones to obtain the stone, Noi had wanted to go and travel immediately.

The issue was that she wasn’t ready then, but now she was. At least one of the Somners thought her to be, now that she could prove she could make a fire and could gather food without poisoning herself. Oh, and not to eat yellow snow— it was not lemon-flavored ice, and Noi wouldn’t be tricked again!

She wandered around the grand room with mismatched clothes, but now with a belt and boots that actually fit her, Noi had thrown on a green dress made for a younger girl and jarring bright orange harem pants with a pink and yellow zig zag pattern pattern. Her red hair was down and limp but without tangles for once.

She tugged on a dress of a woman she didn’t know, the glasslike runestone of silence around Noi’s neck reflected back the deep plum color of the woman’s dress. Noi signed to her but the woman frowned and looked around. The guardian of silence took the woman’s hand.

Do you know where the snacks are? Noi asked her, not having to move her mouth or hands for this. The woman gasped, pulling her hand away and taking many steps back before pivoting on her heel to make her escape. Noi stood there and tilted her head, unable to feel fear and therefore understand it. All she had done was touch her hand. How was that scary? Unless… the woman was really leading Noi to the snacks?!

In that case she had to run and catch up before she lost sight of the woman.
An invitation from a Carvyre? Villam had thought it a joke when he'd first read the message.

The Carvyre family was, in Villam's blunt opinion, a stain upon the Valenntenian people. At one time, they'd been among the most respected families among the Descendants, their bloodline so old and pure that many considered them the nearest generation to the Ancients themselves. Odhran, the patriarch of the family, had at one point been close friends with his father, and Villam had seen the man quite often in his youth.

Things began to fall apart from there. During Villam's first year in the Vanguard, before he was appointed Guardian, Odhran was making a strong case for himself being chosen as the new Absalon of the city. His views were progressive, and his intentions pure, but the lengths to which he wished to go to enact the change he sought were seen by many of the Descendants as unnecessarily radical. In the end, Villam's father Solomon was selected over Odhran, and the old Carvyre was never really the same man after that.

The Carvyre rhetoric slowly shifted from preaching for change to demanding change. Instead of merely attempting to sway people to his way of thinking, he resorted to fear-mongering and stoking their anger. His disagreement with Valenntenia's use of the Runes and the Vanguard quickly became a full-blown movement. It all culminated about a year ago, when one of his speeches got too out of hand, and half of Old Town was wracked with a riot, with disgruntled citizens attempting to storm the Tower.

It was the first time that The Guardians had ever been deployed against their own, and hopefully the last. The riots were quelled in short order, and Odhran was arrested and sentenced to spend the rest of his life imprisoned for inciting insurrection against The Absalon.

The fervor over The Carvyre way of thinking had died down a bit since then, most of the citizens who'd been so uproariously furious found themselves unmotivated to continue their fight against authority without a figure such as Odhran Carvyre behind them. It was a shame, Villam thought, that they had chosen such an aggressive route of rebellion. He too desired change amongst their people, but the way Odhran had tried to go about it was always doomed to failure.

Odhran didn't have The Guardians.

It was only out of respect for his daughter, Lale Carvyre, that he attended this impromptu gathering at their home outside of the city's confines. While he thought little of Odhran, Lale had, at one time, been a close friend to Villam. Perhaps nearly something more than that; in their early teen years he'd spent more nights than his father knew sneaking out to sit with her beneath the stars, talking about anything they couldn't get away with around their political families.

Then he joined the Vanguard and eventually was chosen to wield a Stone. He'd not seen her since.

"Make no mistake, Vazia," The young Regis muttered to the Void Guardian standing beside him, "This is enemy territory. Aside from the Guardians and Somners, and my Father, should he arrive... Every common citizen attending this party thinks at least somewhat ill of us. All of them believed in Lale's father, the man we locked up for life."

Villam's gaze was narrow and harsh as he scanned the opulent hall of the estate, noting the presence of Noi and Kaira milling about as well. Their presence was being tolerated, and Kaira particularly held good standing even amongst the dissenters among them, thanks to her status as a symbol of the faith. Still, the whole ordeal felt uneasy. He would've liked to believe that Lale wouldn't have set it up like this intentionally, but...

Well, he'd ended up following in his father's footsteps. What was to say she wouldn't do the same with hers?

"Suppose we better make the most of it, have a drink and a meal until Carvyre shows her face. I've a feeling she won't keep us waiting too long..."
The last time she stepped foot on the Carvyre estate was for a funeral. It was also the last time she really saw Lale, a woman who spent time abroad than be home. learning as much healing magic she could manage so that she would not see another funeral. Not if she could help it. Kai had kept in touch at the start, but soon after, she had two funerals within months of each other to attend.

It felt wrong for her to be here, and that was not her Stone instilling anxiety within her for being outside the walls of Valenntenia. It was those that were invited, the very powers that had sway and influence in the city. Lale said that this was intentional, those words had replayed over and over since this morning.

She had this feeling in her stomach since then too.

"My thoughts and words will not be kind to you, I must warn. I invited the Somners and Guardians to our estate outside the city, so that you all will get to listen to me speak with the Absalon."

Kaira mustered a small smile to those she recognised. She saw her grandfather, conversing intently with other Somners. She saw Noi, no longer tripping on trousers too long and in search for something to eat. She saw Vazia, and Villam too. After that, she turned away and dropped the smile that threatened to falter.

Lale intended on saying something this night. Even if the Absalon did not attend, she had a room filled with the next amount of influence.

She felt uneasy, looking towards the door. Kaira was unsure if she wanted to leave or see who else would show their face. Ancients above, she would even take one of the Cendrillon twins for company. Perhaps even Lyta.


Her eyes remained on the doorway, not moving to see who spoke to her. Her grandfather stepped in front of her, frowning as he assessed her appearance. "Would you like to go somewhere? Talk to the Ancients? Or perhaps go home?"

"No." She wiped at her brow with the back of her hand, collecting the light sheen of sweat. "She came to me personally." News of the couriered invitations spread through Old Town and the Province, that Lale Carvyre had returned home. It had been some time since the family were on the minds of the citizens, curious to what the daughter of the disgraced General would have to say.

"I just need some air. It will do me right." She smiled, already darting past her grandfather and out the doors. On her way to the cool air breezing from the open doors, she passed a fox, one she remembered in it's younger years.

The fox knew it's home well, and was no stranger to invited guests milling about in the ballroom. When such occasions came round, it was locked away after a string of nuisances caused at prior soirees. The fox, affectionately named Bandit, brushed past a Guardian in a green dress with orange trousers, on his way to hide beneath the table that presented many sweet delights.
She supposed it would be hard to wrangle each Guardian to one place if it were something that was not Homecoming, but most curious of all was seeing the Guardian of Silence and of Void in attendance. Lale had no prior engagements with either, unaware of who the Guardians are on their own being. That did not matter all too much for her, capable of holding a polite conversation.

From where she stood, able to peer out down from the mezzanine, Carvyre saw the Guardian of Faith flee out the doors.

The Somner that she had left behind turned to look to the growing party made up of his colleagues, members of the Vanguard, and society. Arran Yehven lifted his head to peer upwards, spying Lale who greeted the elder man with a dangerous smile. She knew he never liked her, even when she was a young girl and he had made the move from being a senior official in the Vanguard to his current position now. Lale remembered she had offered him flowers she had picked from the Carvyre gardens but he refused them, letting his granddaughter take them.

Well, she had been spotted.

It did not mean too much that only a quarter of the Guardians had accepted her invitation, not when she had the intention to meet with many as she could once the reason for her return and definite residing in Valenntenia was made. There were obvious contenders she wanted to meet and discuss many things on her agenda, but for now, she had four to work with today. As she descended the stairs that wrapped around the room, she did little to hide the scowl on her face when she caught sight of Villam Regis. Things soured between them after they parted ways, but so did her friendship with Yehven. All her childlike dreams seemed to extinguish in the aftermath of her sister expiring just shy of her eleventh birthday. Lale was three years older, and watched her father become irritable and bitter, and her mother ignorant of the emptiness in their home.

She would not speak to Villam or Kaira first, nor the Guardian beside the one in possession of Passion's Stone.

Instead, she crossed the few feet to where Silence stood, clicking her fingers for a server to see her and Lale rewarded him with a smile. "My guest needs assistance. Kindly show her where the refreshments and catering is." And she was away from the youngest Guardian, who still held that innocence that of a child. Almost like Liya.

This might end up being harder than expected. There were Vanguard present, names of those she was unsure of where they stood. She had been warned to be discreet, but Lale did not waver under the eyes of many in this room.

"Captain Cendrillon. Major Kevser. Thank you for your attendance." Lale clasped her hands behind her back, just like her father would have done. Her face was painted with mild pleasantness, unusual of a host but this was no grand affair. She cared little for parties, and even less so at making friends.

If she had any hopes of achieving the change she know would benefit this city, then she needed to be pleasant.

"Lady Carvyre. We thought your mother would be in attendance also." There was an edge to Kevser's voice, a well veiled sneer from the woman who did not dress in her ceremonial uniform. Lale did not care what anyone wore this night, only that they bear witness to what she proposed and watch as the topic of change spreads through Valenntenia.

"Still in Dornoch. I am afraid she may stay longer still as her younger sister is soon to give birth to her third child." Lale favoured her father, the Carvyres, heavily whereas it had been little Liya that had more of the features that were common to those that were native to Dornoch. "It was best she take a break from Valenntenian life after what my father put her through."

There seemed to be an uneasy hush at that moment, making Lale sound as if she had spoken louder than she had meant to.

Yet it was only the Guardian of Faith that had snuck back in, looking far better than she did previously.

"And where did your travels take you this time? Do you have more to teach the medics in our ranks? We can always use more of you with your skill set, Lady Carvyre." Cendrillon, Lale knew, was a noble and loyal man that preferred things not be hidden in snide commentary.

"Lady Lale? Pardon for my intrusion, but did I hear your mother was not here? With the invitation, we were under the impression this was one of her parties --"

Lale turned to see the woman that evaded the Guardian of Silence, smiling so politely it could crack her cheeks if she were not careful. As she had no problem interrupting Lale, she in turn interjected with a simple: "No. This is my event. I invited each of you because I believe that we all can come to an agreement that will better the lives of Valenntenia."

With her voice loud and filled with ire at the expense of Lady Carrew's sheer presence, Lale now addressed the room.

"Major Kevser, how does Klaus fare after Homecoming? And that of Faith's appointed Vanguard escort?"

Kevser narrowed her yellow eyes at the Carvyre woman. "He remains comatose since Homecoming has come to pass. Mikko Cendrillon is still serving his punishment."

Her words were sharp, but Lale ignored the edge. "A punishment, for those of you who do not know, because his Guardian he was appointed to told him to leave her be. Why would the daughter of the warrior House of Yehven need a Vanguard appointment? Why waste such resources for those who are true Guardians?"

Kaira had taken a step forward, her mouth opening to begin defending her past choice but Lale halted her with a single look. "Why is it the responsibility of the Vanguard to protect supposed Guardians of Stones they are not deemed worthy to protect, all because of bloodline?" She aimed the question to Kaira, who at least had been trained with the Vanguard and her family before that. In Lale's eyes, she was worthy of being a Guardian.

"Because not every Valenntenian make it through the trials and training asked of those that are hopeful to become a Guardian."

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Vazia turned her head to Villam as he spoke, her dress lightening to the tones of gray in his clothes. She returned her gaze forward as he spoke, apparently warning her about the company in the party. Their enemy. They had a lot of those, it seemed. It did not particularly bother her, but it seemed that Villam took it rather personally.

He suggested getting something to eat and drink and Vazia did not bother declining. Splotches of color coated her dress as they moved through the crowd, like colorful ink raindrops bleeding into the fabric, before returning to a deep black.

She saw a dark haired woman approach Noi, before talking to officers in the Vanguard. Vazia had never met Lale Carvyre before, but she had heard many things about the Carvyre family. Lale's father had earned himself a permanent spot in prison for starting riots, a topic that had been all the rage a while back. It seemed that Lale wanted to breathe new life back into his ideas.

Vazia took two glasses of some sparkling drink from a tray, handing one to Villam. She held hers, not raising it to her lips. "You have history with Lale Carvyre," she said to him, more as a statement then as a question. She could feel the tension from him, and the look in his eyes as he watched her turn to address the crowd.

Vazia looked from Lale to Kaira who had reentered the room, to Noi who stood by the refreshments table, and then to her side where Villam stood.

Villam Regis
The fox was known. It had different vibrations than everything else. In her head, she could smell love. Love had a nice smell, like the color chartreuse. They didn’t smell the same, but both smells were nice. She went to follow after the fox, seeing it slip underneath the table. It just so happened that someone began directing her to the table. Noi beamed at them and waved hello.

The server said something and Noi stared at them. She still wasn’t very good at reading mouths. She did think that the server had a very pretty mouth. Surely, a pretty mouth could only say pretty things. Noi brought her gaze to the sweets. Some she recognized, some she didn’t, but they all called out to her. She grabbed as many as she could fit in both hands before kneeling to the ground.

With a glance over both shoulders, she crawled underneath the fine table cloth and hid under the table. Was Mr. Fox here, too? She had plenty to share!
"Blood has very little to do with it."

Mordred never attended social events if he could help it, certainly not when they were held by the higher tiers of society. His position as a Guardian might have granted him certain boons and priviledge to the eyes of many, but the upper crust of Valenntenian were no different to the same pompous aristocrats of Oban, Dornoch or even Aniria. One would have thought - hoped - for something more enlightened amongst a population claiming to care for the stones that made the very fabric of their world. Mordred had come to terms with his disappointment long ago. But, there were still a few who had managed to surprise him in making that disappointment somehow worse. Carvyre was just one such family but he could see many other faces he would hace included on that list here tonight.

He'd stood outside the manor for some time contemplating just how much Solomon's request was worth to him. The old man had always treated Mor with respect and none of the pity many of the Sommoners did. Over the years Mor had begrudgingly given the man his respect in return and he liked to think they were friends of a sort. It was the only way to explain why he had come when Solomon had asked him to - to keep an eye on the others - if the excuse was to be believed. Mordred had been there during the last riots; he knew exactly who he was really meant to be watching tonight.

Still, despite their friendship Mordred had been close to turning away until he had spied Keira fleeing from the party. She'd looked a wreck and Mor had considered approaching but something had bade him wait instead. Sure enough the girl had gathered herself and marched right back inside. If the Faith Guardian could muster such courage...

Which was how he had found himself, tumbler of whiskey in hand, approaching the group the Faith Guardian had attached herself to at apparently just the right, sweetly ironic, moment.

"If it were to do with blood, I'm sure I would not have been allowed anywhere near the job," he offered the gathered group a polite smile before taking a sip of his drink.
Vazia's innate talent to read him far better than any of their comrades seemingly continued to strengthen, as Villam indeed tensed at her blunt statement of fact, pausing mid-drink to look over at her with narrowed gaze. You spend one evening getting to know a woman and suddenly she can read you like a book. Perhaps this is why he'd avoided relationships since joining service.

"Friends. A long time ago." He acquiesced to Ferreira, sliding his gaze back Lale as she preached to Kaira and a group of haughty well-to-do types from the Old town. All of them had been vehement supporters of her father, but that didn't mean they would pledge support to his daughter without some measure of convincing. "That doesn't matter. We've both changed since then. I'm a Guardian. She's..." He gave a disappointed shake of his head. "A politician, apparently."

It irked Villam, to see his old friend so effortlessly taking up the beurocratic and manipulative nature of her father. Lale had once had far more pure aspirations for her life, and Odhran's ambition had now taken those dreams from his daughter. The burden that was once his now rested upon his shoulders.

Mordred passed Villam's side, and the Passion guardian turned his head and offered him a small nod. He hadn't expected to see the man here, but as volatile as this could become, he would welcome any and all friendly faces. He himself had intended to butt into the conversation, but it seemed unnecessary, Mordred was far wittier with words, and he doubted Lale would take his intrusion... kindly.

"She's certainly inherited the Carvyre's grandstanding." He muttered, looking to Vazia again and bringing a a small baked piece of bread to his mouth. "Arranging all of this instead of requesting an audience with The Absalon. She wants to rally support, in case he tells her something she doesn't want to hear. She's bitter, and I understand why, but she only risks repeating a cycle now."

As Vazia looked back at him again, the color splotches on her outfit faded back to the grey of his suit. Villam raised a brow.

"That's an interesting dress. You look nice."
"Blood has very little to do with it."

She had felt Mordred's vicinity through his Stone before he spoke, but hearing him put her at ease. His comments attracted the intense grey eyes of Lale, forgetting Kaira for a moment enough to exhale a shaky breath.

The topic raised of bloodline intrigued her, and Kaira looked down at the polished stone floor in order to think. When had the Carvyres last had a Guardian serve? Most families of Descendants were in the mix, but... her thoughts came up empty. Only those of Ancient blood could be chosen, as stated in the texts found in the Library of the Tower. The Carvyres were certainly one of the bloodlines dating back to the earliest times... but things have changed. The Somners made exceptions, allowing those without Descendant blood to protect the Stones...

Then what was Lale's angle here?

"What is the real issue at hand, Carvyre?" Kevser rolled her eyes at their host, who only grinned more wickedly.

"Resources." Kaira blurted, realising what it was that Lale was getting at. "Recruitment numbers are low as of late, and... some of our traders are reporting that there are bandits targeting our main roads between cities..."

"There are a number that share my point of view, and it is only myself with the name that would carry it out. They have cried out against their superiors for better compensation for the work they are expected to pick up, but after countless meetings, nothing has been done to address the concerns of active Vanguard soldiers." Lale turned to look at a group gathered by the staircase she had descended, their face stoic but it was clear they were the collective that Lale spoke for.

"And you want the Guardians to assist the Vanguard?" Kaira turned to look at each Guardian present, brows knitting together as she was not seeing the problem at hand.
"No, Guardian Yehven." Lale regarded her with a sweet smile that did not assure the Faith Guardian. "I simply ask why there are those that are unable to defend themselves, are entrusted to Stones that could bring inmeasurable power if anyone were greedy enough to take it. The fact they cannot be such a guardian, they are then given a member of the Vanguard to watch the Guardian..."

Those of the high class society shared uneasy glances. They were used to this sort of discussion, especially within these walls when Odhran Carvyre would bite into his grievances that went unheard. The men were quick to rile, expressing their support of the General.

This was Lale Carvyre speaking, a daughter that barely stuck around after her father was appointed General of the Vanguard. She was the sour faced girl that scowled from the walls of parties, the daughter that would skulk to the gardens or to her room when company came to call upon the Lady of the House.

At first, they had all thought she would stumble with so many eyes on her, but with the support of the Vanguard behind her, it was hard not to see the past General's might lighting up inside Lale.

"It is tradition, Carvyre. It is one of the highest honours to assist the Guardians of the Runestones!" Kevser's face burned red, a vein growning pronouced above her temple.

Lale was not the only one to snort hearing such an excuse.

"If we must be sticklers to tradition, then someone must inform the Absalon there is a dragon posing as a Guardian!"

"Tradition?! The fuck we pulling that from our arses?"

"We are the ones dying out there!"

"I say there is room for negotiations." Lale shrugged, watching Kevser. "An invitation was extended to the Absalon many times before my return. Even invitation for this very event."

The Vanguard Major got right up into Lale's face, a finger jabbing harshly into her chest. Even her woolen jacket could not protect her flesh from the bruise that would surely bloom later.

"Your father made many enemies after the stunt he pulled. You are no better than him, girl. Your entire family is a rot upon Valenntenia." Her smile was cruel, dripping with bitterness as she leaned back to tower over the young woman. "Luckily your sister died before you all corrupted her."

The air had been sucked from her lungs as the words pierced her ears and her heart. Slate grey eyes narrowed on the Major, but her frame remained still as the hurt worked on the inside of her being. Some Vanguard stepped up to flank Carvyre, but they too could not do anything against a Major of the Vanguard.

Lale stifled the surprise as Kaira approached, her tone low and authoritative, which Lale knew was not natural to the Guardian.

"I think that is enough, Major Kevser. Perhaps you should take your leave."

She had expected the Guardian of Faith to look to her colleagues for support, but Kaira's gaze was adamant. A Guardian was the only one that could outrank any member of the Vanguard. And who could go against the Stone of Faith? The Daughter of Valenntenia? The very friend that grieved the loss of Liya Carvyre as long as it wounded Lale.

Carvyre looked to each Guardian as Kaira came to her aide, wondering how many of them would guess that in order for Lale to succeed, she would need Kaira's support. Her influence not only as a Guardian, but as a citizen, was crucial in winning the people of Valenntenia.

The Guardian of Silence was missing, but before slight panic could rise in her, she spied her sly fox peer from under the table that displayed many different finger foods and sweets.

Foxes didn’t think like people. Noi knew that. Every creature was different. Her goat, Wintergreen, for instance, thought very little of the sky until it rained and cared more about the ground unless it rained and then it worried about the sky. Noi cared equally for the sky and earth very little. There were so many things to care about and such little time to care. The redhead shoved an entire mini eclair into her mouth, letting the custard burst from the pastry as she crunched on the chocolate shell.

Foxes didn’t think like goats. Noi hadn’t known that before but now she did. It wouldn’t want an eclair. What would a fox want? Noi let the food hit the ground, knowing that was not good but also knowing that she could still eat food off from the ground if she wanted to while no one watched. She reached out, fingertips reaching for the fox’s tail.

She could feel it.

Bandit was its name. Bandit was loved, but by who she couldn’t discern with just a touch to fur. She did discover that Bandit wasn’t allowed chocolate. So a plain cookie was chosen instead and Noi broke it in small pieces before holding out her hand. She’d apologize to Bandit when she could touch him that she didn’t have meat.
Mordred sipped from his crystal-cut glass as Kaira boldly stepped forward. Kevser's mouth opened and shut and red blotches began to form on his cheeks. He could tell that the man wanted to argue but it was a dedication and loyalty the likes of which very few still held that kept him from doing so. It was such moments as these where good men could fall and become the villain of a story, and Kevser was a good man. Passionate in his belief that what he did, how this city ran, was correct. Like Mor, he could no doubt remember the last time these thoughts had been spoken - albeit less subtly - and the destruction they had wrought.

"Leaving would be against the spirit of the evening, wouldn't it Lady Carvyre?" he asked a touch innocently and settled a hand upon the Major's shoulder. He could feel the man practically sag in relief that a Guardian had come to his aid. "After all, was not discussion the reason why we were all brought here tonight? Though perhaps, General, you'd find it a bit easier with a drink."

The old man gave a laugh that sounded somewhere between surprised and nervous.

"Aye, a drink does make things easier. Thank you Master Mordred. Forgive me, Lady Kaira," Kesver bowed his head before parting with a smart pivot on his heel.

"How was your recent trip outside the city, Lady Kaira?"
Vazia almost smiled when Villam turned a stubborn glare in her direction. She tilted her head as he spoke, slowly picking up a glass of champagne or some other sort of bubbly drink.

"It does matter," she said, with a light shrug of her bare shoulder. "Rather, you do not want it to matter."

She glanced at Mordred as he walked past them, heading for Kaira. Vazia was not surprised, and took a sip of her drink as Villam continued to speak.

"She has a flair for the dramatic. I am not surprised the two of you were friends," she replied, right before Kesver's outburst. Even Vazia could admit that was a bit of a low blow, and she was not surprised either as Kaira and Mordred stepped in to bring peace back, or as much of it as they could in the already tense environment. Some party this was.

Vazia thought Lale's argument was rather trivial and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but so many people in this town could not see past the end of their noses anyhow.

She turned to look at Villam as he complimented her. She pulled her hand out of her pocket where the Void stone rested and tried to give him a smile that seemed genuine. "Thank you," she replied, glancing down at her dress as a flash of orange caught it.

Villam Regis
For a second there, Villam could have sworn he detected the slightest hint of sass in Vazia's tone. His brow raised as she both called him out on his denial and directly compared his behavior with Lale, and after a long sip of his drink to try and think of a witty retort to throw back at Ferreira... he found himself woefully unequipped to argue with somebody as blunt and matter-of-fact as Vazia.

So, like a defeated child, Villam looked away with a huff.

Luckily for him, there was a matter that needed attending to that didn't involve trying to match wits with the Void Guardian. He caught the tail end of Lady Kevser's outburst, her blood brought to a boil by Carvyre's incendiary rhetoric, no doubt. She was a good servant of the people, but she'd always had a lousy temper. Kaira and Mordred had deflected her towards the drinks, but the red-faced woman still looked riled.

"Excuse me for a moment, Vazia."

Villam placed a hand upon her bare shoulder, a gesture that had grown in meaning between the two of them since the night of Homecoming, and reluctantly traveled over to the commotion, clearing his throat as he stood before Kevser. "You're out of line, Major." He spoke with an icy stare. The words of Villam held a bit of extra weight with the blood that ran in his veins. "You do not have to agree with Miss Carvyre, but I expect better of you than bringing up such a tragedy as a weapon in an argument."

Kevser clammed up, unsure she wished to speak against The Absalon's son. Instead, she choked down her pride and offered a curt nod. Villam held back the smirk at the corner of his lips and placed a hand on the older woman's back, leading her to the doorway and sending her home for the night. He was not risking an altercation tonight.

Then came the more difficult matter. Speaking with Lale.

Trudging back across the hall towards the group that had sparked the commotion, Villam asserted himself for a spell, clearing his throat and offering a small bow to Lale as he placed himself beside Mordred. "Lady Carvyre, forgive Lady Kevser's indiscretion. She crossed a line with her comments, and I've removed her as such. This is not a place for arguments of bad faith, after all."

It was... difficult. Speaking to Lale like this. When last they'd had a conversation it was about their futures, about each other.

Sadly, that simply wasn't the world they lived in anymore.

"And I also have been asked to inform you that The Absalon will indeed be attending. He's running a tad behind, but he should arrive before long." There, that was everything, wasn't it? Villam turned his back to the group, waving a hand as he returned to Vazia's side "Apologies for that interruption. I should return to my 'date', as it were."

Admittedly, that part was just to needle Lale.
Vazia watched Villam struggle to say something clever, before he huffed his defeat and excused himself, placing a warm hand on her shoulder before he left. She did not move from where she stood, watching his interaction with Lale and Kevser.

There was movement from underneath the table she was standing by, and she looked down to see an orange fox tail peeking out. So that was where the orange on her dress had come from.

She returned her attention to Villam as he excused himself from Lale and the others, moving back in her direction. She raised an eyebrow at him for his parting statement. His date? Had Vazia missed something? No... "You want to make her jealous," Vazia stated softly so Lale couldn't hear, her tone blunt once more, but with a hint of vague amusement.

She wondered if Villam was growing sick of her constantly calling his bluff, but decided that was his problem if he couldn't handle or accept the truth.

Villam Regis
"How was your recent trip outside the city, Lady Kaira?"

Kai tried not hide her giggle at such a title, one that was not meant to be attached to her name. Uncertainty crossed her facade as her dark hazel eyes flick to Lale, who bore quite the stare into Villam as he escorted the out of line Major Kevser. She had been an individual that had taken an interest in Kaira's admission to becoming a Guardian, but had also bit her tongue when the Stone of Faith found Yehven worthy. Kevser thought a Vanguard trained individual would wield something like Wind or be worthy of another Stone that called for combat.

Her attention returned to Mordred, leaving his question unanswered longer than she had wanted. "Oh, it was rather lovely to be outside the walls of our Valenntenia." Her eyes narrowed as Villam returned to address Lale, who remained as still as a marble statue save for her grey eyes. There was something odd there, and Kaira did not know what.

"It was not quite the reason to leave, but I am thankful for the reprieve of the city. I pray to the Ancients and ask they give me such sanction again hopefully. Small steps... but I would love to see the outer regions again."

Kaira's gaze flick back to where Villam now retreated back to Vazia's side, calling her his date - which brought a smile to the Guardian of Faith's mouth hearing her friend declare such a thing - and turing his back on their host for the evening, Lale Carvyre.

"I would like to visit the holy grounds up north. To pay my respects to my parents. Have you gone to see Liya, Lale?" Despite visiting this house numerous times in her childhood, she had never seen Carvyre look so... there were no words to truly describe the state Lale was in now. To see a Carvyre so speechless and borderline catatonic after Major Kevser's biting words... Kaira flashed Mordred a look of concern before taking a step and reaching for Lale's hand.

She almost flinched feeling how cold her flesh felt.
Lale released the breath she had been holding onto, her head snapping to spy the joint hands of her own and that of Kaira Yehven. Slate eyes widen slightly, realising a question had been asked of her, but the woman was still reeling from the pain that did not seem to fade.

She had not heard the Guardian, nor the conversation Mordred pulled her into. She had not heard Villam speak, despite seeing his lips move after he removed Kevser from the room.

It was not until she felt Kaira use her Stone on her, a soothing presence softly washing through her, that she recoiled from her, cradling the hand that she ripped from Yehven's gentle grasp. "I do not need the help of your stone, Kaira." Lale seethed, as if the gentle nature of Kaira had been poisoned into something vicious, that she meant to do harm to the Carvyre woman.

"Oh, Lale! No, I am sorry! I did not --"

"I do not need the help of the dead Ancients. They did not help Liya. They..." She trailed off, regretting her actions immediately seeing the veiled hurt in Kaira's pretty eyes. Lale remembered seeing Syera Havardur, Kaira's mother, coming to escort the younger Kaira and accompany her home at the end of the day, with Liya always showing off a curtsy to the woman each time. She had been a gentle soul, much like Kaira was now, but the woman... she was gone too soon. There had been a passing moment where Lale saw Kaira at the hly grounds, visiting their deceased loved ones. For Liya, she had been sure to be kind to Kaira, and seeing her face now made her feel wretched inside.

"Kaira... I apologise..." She murmured finally.

This change, this call to new order... it would hurt the Faith Guardian, Lale knew, and that made things difficult for her. Did she care that Villam tried to pry a response from her by dangling another beautiful woman before her, or that Mordred tried to keep the Major present despite spilling hatred from her lips?


They as individuals did not matter to her, it was the influence they held that did. She would need to work with the Guardians and speak to them in a more private matter than this... shitshow, her mother would call it. It was Faith that would have the influence of Valenntenia. The Daughter of Valenntenia, before she was a Guardian. Kaira was an important key to her plans... it was just a pity Lale would have to suggest the Stone be retired, along with the other Stones that pose too much threat for being in circulation.

"Please, do not stop your conversation with the Guardian of Blood." With that, Lale excused herself to turn to the Vangaurd that came to stand behind her in support of her.

"I am no speaker to a rally, Ser Silvestre. Each name you asked me to invite are here, save for some... but I cannot be the only one speaking. The name Carvyre got these guests here, but the name does not make them listen. Not after my father."

Silvestre looked down in order to meet Lale's eyes, towering over her. He was young, handsome, and a cousin to the Cendrillons. His uncle, the Captain that was in attendance with Major Kevser, bore daggers into his nephew from across the room. "You were never one for parties. I remember." He had wanted to brush his fingers at her cheek, to push back her dark hair behind her shoulder to counter the challenge Regis placed before Lale moments before. Silvestre knew Carvyre did not need such help, not when she was a determined beast. "If the Absalon truly shows his face, then you speak to him alone, not to a crowd. Our intentions have been made, and those of us who stand with you, Lale, will ensure we are heard quietly through the city."

Lale glared up at him, arms crossing. "I rather you wait and let me try things my way. If you start anything that could turn violent, then it is me they will punish."

Solomon Regis had lived a long enough life to learn some of the most important and elusive lessons a being can possibly be blessed with the knowledge of. This evening was a sobering reminder of one of those lessons, one that he perhaps had been overdue a refresher course on.

No matter how one travels from their past, how worn the soles or how far the distance, the ghosts of one's past can never truly be escaped. They will always find you, always stand across from you once more, and stare you down. The kind of person you are depends on whether you walk through those ghosts, avoiding their gaze, or head straight through them without a hint of fear or regret.

Tonight, Solomon Regis confronted a ghost of his past directly.

Lale Carvyre had always been a bright and intelligent young girl, the pride of her father and a shining beacon to her entire family in the difficult years following her sister's unfortunate death. In years long past, Solomon had been jealous of his friend Odhran for the close relationship he'd had with the girl, something he'd never accomplished with his only son Villam, who took a liking to the young lass himself.

Yes, the Carvyre family was one near and dear to Solomon's heart. Then Odhran lost to Solomon for the position of Absalon, and their friendship was forever changed. Lale's father became embittered and disillusioned with Valenntenia, and his dissenting views took root and turned vile. Solomon tried his best to stay the hand of the city for as long as he was able, but when Odhran incited a riot, The Absalon could no longer stand idly by, and was forced to jail his oldest friend.

Now, clad not in the fine white robes of the Absalon, but in a buttoned suit of navy blue and glimmering gold, he walked through the doors of the Carvyre estate, ground he'd not tread in many years. Lale had grown, and now it seemed she sought to make her presence felt in much the same way her father had.

There was a nagging worry in his gut, a sinking feeling that he couldn't shake.

It wasn't helped by the hushing of voices as he was ushered in by Carvyere's attendants, one quickly rushing to the lady her self to notify her of his arrival. Eyes turned to the wizened face of Valenntenia's leader, murmurs of surprise, relief, and worry at his presence. Regis paid it no mind, merely nodding to his Guardians as he so casually walked towards she who'd beckoned him in mid-sentence.

"No, Lale Carvyre." Solomon bowed his head. "The only punishment suffered is by those who would intentionally disturb the peace of our city. I have faith that such a thing is not your intent."

Lale Carvyre
That voice had been deeply hidden in her memories caused Lale to quieten, grey eyes widening as she turned around to see that the Absalon indeed had graced the halls of Carvyre Estate once again. The quickest of flicks of her gaze went to Villam, as if it were truly his fault for the way his father's voice made her feel like a young girl being chastised, and then slowly bringing her focus to the Absalon, dressed how she remembered he had many, many moons ago.

"Absalon Regis." She greeted, the name sounding sharp on her tongue as if it were enough to equate to her thoughts on the two beings bearing the name currently. "You are right to believe that faith. I am merely bringing up a discussion open to all." She drifted from the Vangaurd men and women that stuck together, apart from the larger invited members. "You had not answered my letters in the few months, I almost believed you would not grace us this eve."

Lale kept her head up high, not backing down from the unspoken respect and power that Solomon Regis conducted. It was just the same before his appointment of Absalon, and when she was a young girl, she often likened him and her father to be worthy of the Ancients' blood.

"Am I, and many others, wrong to believe that the Stones can do so much more? That Valenntenia needs to grow with the many shifting aspects such as healing, resources, and perhaps the Guardians? Our Vanguard are being stretched thin and no consolation has been paid to those that do not fail our fair Valenntenia."

The Vanguard murmured their agreement, even some of the others had turned to look at each other.

She was the General's daughter, fighting for them like he should have done instead of cursing the chosen Guardians.
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Villam's grip on his drink tightened a bit, a rather pointed look of annoyance aimed at the Void Guardian beside him. She was, of course, correct in some respect. She knew it too, which irked him all the more. Yes, there was some inkling of desire in the younger Regis to sow a bit of jealousy inside of Carvyre, though for why he wasn't entirely sure himself.

Did he just wish to make her tick? Was he trying to see if she still cared for him as she once did? The possibilities bothered him, but he was trying not to dwell on it. Ferreira wasn't helping.

"So emotionless, and you still manage to be smug." He grumbled, taking a sip of his drink to cool his head. "Though, I don't think I'm particularly lying. We traveled to this gathering together, have remained in one another's presence nearly the entire time." Since Homecoming, Villam had been spending more time with Vazia. "Perhaps I do have other motives, but to everybody else, we likely do appear to be a couple."

Not that he suspected Vazia would ever have a particular interest in such relationships. She didn't seem quite the romantic type.

Vazia Ferreira
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"Our Vanguard are being stretched thin and no consolation has been paid to those that do not fail our fair Valenntenia."

Kaira wandered back to the walls of the room now, face ashen at the memory that resurfaced. There had been that Somner that suggested she return to her duties with the Vanguard, that her family name came up and the legacy that came with it. She had not thought it as anything other than Valenntenian might and glory, that the name Yehven was steeped so deeply in this anciety city's history.

Had there been sympathizers then? At Homecoming?

It was Villam that advised her to deny their wishes, to forge her own path.

And Kaira listened, believing the similarity in their Stones and their friendship.

She could fight, the Ancients knew she was certainly capable... but many may have forgotten this. That Kaira was a Yehven first before she had been chosen as a Guardian.

With this heavy realisation weighing upon her spine, Kai leaned against the wall and her shoulders drooped.

What now? What now that Lale has brought ugly truths to light? She spoke them into awareness, and there were many in favour of her and her father's cause... but Kaira could see this was not Lale's true words. Her true thoughts.

It was best she spoke to her old friend when this night was concluded.
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Vazia tilted her head at Villam. Smug? She hadn't thought she was being smug, perhaps that was just how he saw her. She had wounded his pride after all, and it showed a bit in the look of annoyance he gave her and his tightened grip on his drink.

But then he went on, saying how he hadn't necessarily been lying, and how others might view them as a couple. She looked around to the people at the party. Most were eyeing Lale and Solomon, not giving Vazia or Villam any strange looks. Well, not any stranger than usual. Strange because the two of them were standing close together, strange because they had been spending an increasing amount of time together. Strange because they suspected there was something between them. The only such look she had noticed was the housekeeper's on the night of Homecoming.

"Really?" she replied calmly. "The Passion and the Void Guardian, what an unlikely love story." But even as she said it, a strange feeling stirred in her gut and she slid her hand back into her pocket, her fingers wrapping around her stone.

Villam Regis
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