Fable - Ask The Fanfare Heard Through Valenntenia

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Solomon was of course not naive to the venom that lay unspoken on Lale Carvyre's tongue. It did sting at the old man's heart that the little girl who had once lovingly called him an uncle now held such clear vitriol for him, but he met all of her politely spoken spite with only the brightest and most welcoming of smiles, bowing his head low in apology. "The last few months have been trying, my lady. I do apologize for my lack of correspondence, I find it difficult to keep up with all the mail I get during Homecoming season."

Invitation or not, Solomon would not have missed an event such as this. For him not to show his face at a gala held by such an outspoken critic of his would be tantamount to concession. No, being a leader, being Abalon, meant facing such threats directly. Even if those threats were purely word of mouth and ink on parchment.

"It sounds, Miss Carvyre, like you have a great many ideas for improving our way of life." The Absalon ran a hand through his beard, as one of the Somners that had accompanied him retrieved a glass of wine. "Ah, thank you Iris... Now, Miss Carvyre, You make some fair points. We are a bit low on Vanguard at the moment, and I will concede that some additional compensation for their hard work is most certainly in order."

Solomon raised a finger and took a long sip of the wine, humming lowly as he nodded his head. "Delightful. Excellent taste, Lale." He offered, using her first name for the first time since arriving. "Now, as for the Stones and their capabilities, no man, woman, or child can claim to know the true extent of their powers. Is expanding their use something we could explore? Certainly. However..." At last, Regis' face lowers, and his expression grows serious. "Such decisions are made through the courts. It is not my position to enact such sweeping change. Not without the vote of the Somners. Perhaps instead of planting seeds of doubt amongst the people, it would be more productive to bring these matters before a hearing?"

Lale Carvyre
 
It was a start.

The way the Absalon spoke, all she could hear was the man she had called Uncle for so many years. They had been close enough that he was able to father her in a way. Lale had ambition and drive, much like Villam, and the two had been close friends that their families felt like one, without name.

She did not start feeling the weight of the name Carvyre until her sister passed, and Villam did not wait for her to stop pushing him away after the memorial and left for the Vanguard.

And then, the name Regis became a powerful name.

That familiarity was not forgotten by Solomon, using her first name as he complimented the wine she had on offer. If he asked her for the name of the bottle, she would not be able to him. That was left to the staff that planned this party. Her eyes stared at him, leveling him with a gaze that would have made her father mad if he were here and feeling his authority challenged.


It is not my position to enact such sweeping change. Not without the vote of the Somners. Perhaps instead of planting seeds of doubt amongst the people, it would be more productive to bring these matters before a hearing?

How did one challenge the Absalon and succeed? Lale would not ask her father for his advice.

"I am flattered you think I am the one to plant those seeds, Absalon Regis." The word uncle died on her lips a long time ago, even for her own uncles, Greydon Carvyre and Evrin Vetle. "But you should have had your Somners tell you about the unhappiness of the Vanguard. I know my father did not do the justice he could have done for them in his time, but I am happy to be their speaker now."

Murmurs of agreement came from behind her, the Vanguards most vocal about their shared issues with their roles within the Vanguard. It was not only them, but of their families too, watching their husbands, wives, sons, and daughters, and friends, be worked to the point they were no longer human at the end of the day or night.

"The Somners are present now. I hope you all heard the issue at hand... and I look forward to the hearing." Lale lifted her chin, smiling that fox-like smile her father had. "We should have tea one day, Absalon. Perhaps further chat about these Stones. Enlighten me, and I shall discuss my thoughts with you."

Solomon Regis
 
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Villam only paid the slightest bit of notice to his father's voice amongst the others now present. He'd gotten here quicker than he'd expected him to, but for once he was glad for the Absalon's presence; Lale was a talented speaker, but even she would struggle to villainize somebody as pragmatic and annoyingly reasonable as Solomon.

Sometimes, it made Villam angry at how difficult it was to get a rise out of his old man. He was like a stone wall, deflecting anything you tried to throw at him. He could only hope he didn't grow to be as stubborn.

"The Passion and the Void Guardian, what an unlikely love story."

Villam held back a snicker of amusement, turning his head back to his 'date' once more. She was right, it didn't sound like a match made in heaven, and he'd been joking around with her for the most part. Still, he couldn't deny there wasn't some part of him that was rather fond of Vazia. She was rather blank and often difficult to read, but then maybe that was what he found refreshing about her.

"I can certainly think of worse people to be involved with, Miss Ferreira. I think you'd make a far better lover than Stella. for instance." He teased her lightly, bringing a hand to his beard with a playful smirk. "But if you're opposed to the idea, I'd hate to make you feel as though I'm forcing your hand. "

Was he flirting? With Vazia?

This drink must have been stronger than he realized.

Vazia Ferreira
 
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How had they gotten here? Six years as a Guardian and only now was Villam talking to her. And not only that, now he was saying that she would make for a decent lover.

She blinked at him, her stone slipping through her fingers to rest untouched in her pocket once more. She was good at reading others and she thought she knew a good bit about Villam, but there were still some things about him she didn't understand. Like this moment.

Even still, she did not return her hand to her stone in her pocket. It was there to keep the whispers away but she found that the way others saw her was beginning to grate on her. What had happened to change how much she wanted the stone? Or was the stone once more playing tricks on her, teasing her with the real world before proving once more that the void was safer?

But right now, it did not matter. Or at least as much as it could have, if she did not have her stone in her pocket. She wondered vaguely if Villam had his on him, and if maybe his stone was having an effect on hers, allowing for him to affect her, their stones matched and useless.

"I do not mind either way," She replied eventually, but it wasn't entirely true. She didn't know what the truth was exactly, however, so she stuck with what she had said. It was a miracle that Villam was putting up with her in the first place, let alone flirting with her.

Villam Regis
 
With Mordred resigning to the walls, and his drink in hand, Kaira was left to feeling awkward as she listened in to Lale and the Absalon. In an effort to look like she was not thrown by Carvyre's words, she edged closer to Villam and Vazia. Offering them both kind smiles, oblivious to their discussion, she thought with the grim faces they had been on the topic of Lale and the Vanguards.

"I remember when I was a girl, Lale had always gone against her father. Seeing her now, it does not look like the apple fell far from the tree." Kai crossed her arms, turning to look at her friend before glancing to Vazia, and then her gaze fell to her dress.

"Oh! A delightful frock!" She was mesmerised by it's effect to catch onto colour, and let out a small laugh as it caught the muted tones of grey Kaira dressed herself in. It was the most respectable thing she had owned, worthy of a Carvyre function of whatever kind. Her mother used to dress her in the nicest dresses when she would spent time with Liya, and that sort of thinking was not forgotten by her.

Villam Regis Vazia Ferreira
 
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Solomon let out a little chuckle at Lale's barely hidden venom. So feisty, just as she had been in her youth. The only difference was that now she put it towards a purpose. Even if that purpose was one Solomon did not entirely agree with, he could not fault her for arguing toward what she believed to be right. That said, he was not about to acquiesce to her so easily.

"I do not need the Somners to tell me of how my people feel, Miss Carvyre. I am well aware of the situation, as well as the worries of my people. If I waited on reports from them, I would scarcely get anything done." There was a mixture of laughter and eye-rolling from the Somners, but none seemed to object to that claim. "I find it somewhat perplexing that you assume to know what my duties and schedule consist of when you have not been around for some time."

Again, that brief lapse into a more serious tone hinted at how decidedly unamused he was by this attempt to blatantly sow dissent amongst the Descendants. Lale had good faith on her side, as well as Solomon's sympathy. That would only get her so far, however. It was a line she was quickly approaching with her duplicitous attitude.

"The Somners are present now. I hope you all heard the issue at hand... and I look forward to the hearing. We should have tea one day, Absalon. Perhaps further chat about these Stones. Enlighten me, and I shall discuss my thoughts with you."

Solomon raised his eyebrows, fingers drumming against his glass as he forbade her from disengaging so easily. No, not after this little stunt.

"Oh? Is that not why you summoned me here? To share your thoughts and to be enlightened? Certainly, it wasn't with the hopes that my absence would add credence to your words? I know, a one-person debate can be quite easy to win."

Lale Carvyre
 
"...when you have not been around for some time."

Lale's teeth gritted, but still kept a passive expression on her face as she listened to the Absalon.

"Oh? Is that not why you summoned me here? To share your thoughts and to be enlightened? Certainly, it wasn't with the hopes that my absence would add credence to your words? I know, a one-person debate can be quite easy to win."

A scoff left her lips, and Lale dropped all pretense of being unaffected by his sheer presence. How easily she felt like she were fourteen again, and Solomon spoke to her like family. How he remained unchanged and Lale had seen more of the world and still closed herself off to it all.

"I invited you and the Somners to hear me. I know who is the true power in this city." A wry laugh left her lips. "You have spoken how aware you are of the Vanguard situation, but months have passed, Absalon. No one has reached out to the soldiers; their superiors still send them out there and waste away their moral."

Lale stepped to the side, gesturing to the Vanguard that stood behind her. "Ser Silvestre Cendrillon. Has the Major or your Uncle, the General, enlightened you of any news of reprieve?"

"No."

Lale arched a brow at Solomon. "They came to me to use my name and standing to speak for them. I only wish to be listened to, to be heard. Months, I have letters dating back to last Spring that friends of the Carvyres have not been happy for some time. Let us go ahead to a hearing, a date sooner than later, Absalon Regis."
 
It was an exchange the likes of which they'd shared before; light back and forth without any substantial weight and emotion behind it. Villam was one of the only Guardians who was able to act as unaffected as Vazia, and so the two of them had a rhythm to their conversations that they rarely deviated from. It was perhaps the bare minimum of a friendship, but he considered it one nonetheless.

That predictable rhythm, though, was what made Vazia's retort to his teasing so interesting. It wasn't in what she said, or in how she said it. The discrepancy was in the long pause she took before speaking, the way her hand briefly fluttered about in search of something on her person. Villam's brow furrowed, a look of puzzlement finding him as the silent beat in their back and forth was as loud as a scream to his ears.

"Do you not?" He pressed, turning himself towards her and tilting his head quizzically. "For all the time we've spent together these last weeks, that's the first time I've heard you hesitate in such a way." The time she'd been without her stone notwithstanding, of course. As he looked down at the Void Guardian though, he could not deny the help she'd been in delivering him from isolation since his return at Homecoming. That after so long serving together the two of them would now begin to drift in one another's path was odd, but Villam knew why that was.

Villam had, for the briefest of moments, seen the woman behind the Void. That flash of blue behind the white of her eyes. That tremble of emotion in a voice so stoic and nonplussed. Regis wasn't certain why, but he'd felt drawn to her since, even if subconsciously.

"If I thought you the type to be interested..." He muttered, "Perhaps I'd attempt such an arrangement with you without any ulterior motiv--"

Villam stops as Kaira slides into view and makes her presence known with a boisterous compliment to Vazia's attire. The Faith guardian always dressed somewhat conservatively herself, but Villam did find himself surprised she hadn't taken this opportunity to go outside the box herself. Perhaps she enjoyed the cloth? He supposed he wasn't one to talk.

"Wondered where you slinked off to. Carvyre was really in your ear back there. You okay?"

Vazia Ferreira
Kaira Yehven
 
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Of course Villam had noticed her hesitation. She was so blank and empty that even a flicker of emotion would be noticeable, especially to Villam, who had seen a bit behind her blank mask.

He pressed her further, facing her fully. She looked up at him and fought the vague urge to grip her stone again. She didn't know what to say to his first statement, and she was distracted by something in his expression.

And then he spoke again, and Vazia was so surprised that she forgot to hold on to her stone. Attempt an arrangement-

But then Kaira invited herself in their conversation with a glowing compliment of Vazia's dress. Shades of gray colored her skirt.

"Thank you," she had barely said it before Villam spoke again, this time to Kaira. He was a talker, wasn't he?

Villam Regis Kaira Yehven
 
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Kaira gave Villam and Vazia a sheepish look.

"I am alright. Lale is... she always had strong personality. I forgot how she could be." She shrugged, turning to look to the side where Lale Carvyre and the Absalon were in the midst of a verbal spar. "I always remembered her doting on her sister and I. I supposed that is normal when you are a child." She smiled, turning back to Villam.

A wicked gleam shone in her dark hazel eyes.

"I also did not think you would attend with a date, Vill." She had debated whether or not to bring it up, but her friendship with the Guardian of Passion only blossomed since their journey to retrieving Dorian's body. He had been an anchor recently, checking in on her and ensuring she had not been wasting away to the rituals of her Stone.

Never knowing what is was like to have siblings, Kaira decided her curiousity was worthy to bring to light. "This pleases me. Truly. I needed to hear something positive in these walls." For the last memories in this home were not the happiest. her smile strained a little, but Kaira shone a smile to Vazia. "It is a perfect balance, Passion and Void. I know we are not our Stones, but... we carry the weight no matter what."

Villam Regis Vazia Ferreira
 
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Solomon had no qualms with Lale's words, nor the point that she was trying to make to him. Were he in her shoes, looking upon a problem and not having the authority to solve it herself, he would have been just as outspoken in the hopes of being heard. It was the attitude behind every word, that unmistakable sense of self-importance that Solomon disliked.

It would have been folly to say so aloud, but The Absalon grew more and more certain that this girl spoke not out of respect for the Vanguard, but because her wishes simply happened to align with theirs. She was using them, plain and simple.

That being the case, nothing he said would appease her. As desperately he wished to ease the storm that had taken Lale's mind, she held no desire to be helped. She was, just like her father, born to rage. Regis could not take her very nature away from her.

Solomon had already offered Lale a hearing, and so he did not feed into her agitated frenzy any further for the moment. Instead, Solomon turned to Ser Cendrillion and brought a hand to his chest, dipping into a bow. Such a gesture from the Absalon was not one given lightly. "Noble Ser Cendrillion, you have my apologies. Whilst I have been preparing a solution for our thinning ranks, communication between the Tower and the Vanguard has indeed been less than satisfactory."

His own fault, he admitted to himself. The Absalon had been running himself ragged as of late, and Dorian's death, coupled with the cancellation of the Guardian Games and the tumultuous Homecoming had left him stretched so thin he'd forgotten to address some important things, far more than he cared to admit.

"Miss Carvyre." His attention returned to Lale, that harsh sternness returning to his voice as he addressed her now less like family and more akin to somebody grievously overstepping their bounds. "You hold no office in Valenntenia. If it were so important to take these issues up with me, you know as well as I do that letters from a civilian are scarcely going to make it to my hands in a timely fashion. Months..." He gestured to the home around him. "...You spent here fuming, and only a few days of effort would have garnered you an audience with me. I'd not have turned you down. I will own up to my shortcomings, but I will not be emasculated by a spectator who sees fit to throw stones from a glass house of her own inaction."

Lale Carvyre
 
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Excellent, it seemed Kaira had heard the tail-end of their conversation and had already placed the two of them together in her head. It earned a subtle roll of Villam's eyes, but he was glad to see Yehven nonetheless; He'd seen Lale being... less than considerate in regards to the Faith Guardian, and he'd worried perhaps she'd take it too harshly.

It was a surprise, then, to hear that she too had prior experience with Carvyre.

"Mmm... So you're familiar with her as well. Yes she's always been strong-willed, but..." Villam briefly flicked his eyes to where his father argued with the woman, his features tightening. "This isn't the same. She's turned into something different now." Villam wasn't going to elaborate here, in Lale's own home, but nobody could feel the weight of another's passion like he did, and Lale's passion was a roaring flame, stronger than any other in this room.

What worried him was how ugly and twisted her passion had become, corrupted by the evils surrounding her. Alas, it wasn't his place to make such judgments.

It seemed he'd no sooner regarded Lale than Kaira shifted her focus entirely onto the two of them, Passion and Void. It was an interesting claim, that the two of them were 'balanced'. If being polar opposites was balance, then perhaps she had a point. Is that what she meant? That they counter-acted one another?

"Well, I admit it wasn't the original plan." Villam cast his eyes back to Vazia, contemplating on whether it would be in poor taste to tell Kaira of his desire to instill envy in Carvyre. Ferrira had sussed it out, but that didn't mean he needed to broadcast that he'd used her to others. And besides, he'd been about to suggest...

"But the Masquerade is coming up soon, and I'll hear no end of it from my father if I don't find a partner. Vazia is... well, she'd likely be my first choice."
 
Vazia was mildly surprised, but only Villam would notice it flicker in her eyes. Kaira seemed pleased to think that Vazia and Villam were an item, and Villam only encouraged that notion when he said she would be his first choice to go with him to the up coming masquerade.

It was this statement that surprised her the most. Why was he keeping up the ruse of them as a couple? Kaira and Lale had seemed close, at least at one point, did he think Kaira would tell Lale? Vazia personally thought Kaira would never do something that below the belt, and she thought Villam wouldn't either. But then it had been his idea.

Or was it even a ruse? Vazia's blank gaze bored into Villam, as if he might have the answer written across his forehead.

His comment from earlier, about how she would make for a decent lover, all motivations aside... was this related? Was he actually interested in her in such a manner? She fought the urge to curl her fingers around her stone but later she would wonder why she had fought it at all.

She smiled, but it was nigh impossible to tell if it was genuine or not. Even Vazia was not sure; no answers presented themselves in the flickering void of her mind.

"I would be honored," she replied after a moment of silence (Villam was sure to notice the hesitation, however brief). This, she was certain, was genuine. No one had paid her this much attention in quite a long time and it was... a break of pace to see Kaira's pleasant surprise.

Villam Regis Kaira Yehven
 
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Kaira could not make comment on the change in Lale, not when she thought to see it as the older woman to be struggling with the pressures of the fall of her family. Despite the reputation the Carvyres bear, the Guardian of Faith believed that Lale struggled deep down.

But all thoughts of an old friend were eclipsed by Villam bringing up the Masquerade.

"Crickets! That snuck up rather quickly!" She grimaced. "And you both are attending together? Just like that?" As if she were surprised by the new couple simply agreeing to the idea.

Someone nearby hushed the Guardian, earning them a childish pout from the young Guardian. "How am I to find a partner for the dances if the wives of Old Town will begin throwing their sons before me as I walk the streets?" She murmured glumly. Every year, Kaira was overwhelmed with suitors for the dance, and every year, Kaira got cold feet about attending. Perhaps she would do the same this year.

Villam Regis Vazia Ferreira
 
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"You hold no office in Valenntenia. If it were so important to take these issues up with me, you know as well as I do that letters from a civilian are scarcely going to make it to my hands in a timely fashion. Months..." He gestured to the home around him. "...You spent here fuming, and only a few days of effort would have garnered you an audience with me. I'd not have turned you down. I will own up to my shortcomings, but I will not be emasculated by a spectator who sees fit to throw stones from a glass house of her own inaction."

Lale stewed in her frustration and anger, but did not show any indication of her emotions to the Absalon. She simply stared at him like she had used to with her father; silent contempt that often had him shouting and raising his voice, getting into her face and calling her obscenities. Perhaps she was like her father more than she thought.

She too liked to instigate.

"I will be sure to use my privilege the next time the Vanguard are unheard of their written letters." She shrugged, moving her body after standing so still. "Hm. This was nice. Felt really familiar, do you not agree?" It was the memories of her father, Odhran, and Solomon having heated discussions prior to Carvyre losing out to the appointment of Absalon.

These unhallowed halls held a bitter history, generation after generation, and it seeped into Lale. All of it, was now on her.

"I will take my leave. You are all free to remain and enjoy the drinks and food." Her eyes flicked around the room, her gaze sharp and gleaming like an unsheathed blade. "And I will see you soon, Absalon Regis."

Her grey eyes fell on the older man, narrowed like a defiant daughter would. Because she had thought of him as family once before, hadn't she? That familial tie no longer held.

Solomon Regis