Private Tales The Long Way Down

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Lyssia D'avore

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Returning to Dornoch was a lot more painful than she had anticipated it would be. She had not expected to return here for many years, until she had built up enough wealth to afford property and, more importantly, to seek out answers to the many questions that burned in her heart. Chief among them, of course, was why? Why had the family been laid low? Obviously, the accusation of treason against the Dynast was the pretense for casting down House D'avore, stripping them of the title of Bursar over Erdilynn, a smaller city on one of the islands between the capital and the Portal Stone.

Her family had been wealthy and powerful, a noble bloodline stretching back hundreds of years and, for all anyone knew, further than that. All of it was gone now, the name of D'avore stricken from the annals of the Dynasty, their lands stripped and fortune seized by the will of the Dynast herself. Many people had grown richer off of that deal, but not her, or her kin. Of them, only herself was left. Following the execution of her mother for high crimes against the state, her father had fled into the wilderness. Her brother had died in her arms much later.

There was only her, now. Everything and everyone else had been taken from her, and deep in her heart a rage burned, cold as ice and hotter than the sun in the sky. She was to be the heir of the now disgraced name, and as such she intended to bring the name back to glory. If only she could manage to do it in a manner that would give her mother pride to know.

What she had done, instead, was go the other way.

None of the noble Ladies would have anything to do with her, of course. She was tainted by the stain of treason, even if she herself had been absolved of any guilt or involvement in the whole affair. That did not matter to the nobility, of course; it was merely an excuse to not have to deal with a rival, one fewer set of hands grasping for power as was always the case within civil society.

Worse, most of the commons wouldn't have anything to do with her, either. As far as she was concerned, the commoners were boorish and slow witted, hardly worth the effort of swaying. They were low information, and simply believed what anyone told them to believe. But for all their faults, they were certainly loyal to the Dynast, whom had provided fro the commons well enough through the long history of the Dynasty. And as uninformed as they were, the fact that she had been found not guilty of those crimes her family had purportedly committed made little difference to the commoners; she was a pariah, tainted with the crime of treason whether or not she had actually committed it.

A seed of fiery rage, indeed.

The holdings in Alliria had been abandoned. Lyssia stood looking out the window of a dilapidated apartment on the second story of a house that doubled as a storefront for a grocer. The odor of fish sometimes rose to her room, as well as produce that had turned sour, and other items that were perishable. It was a cramped space for the money she had given for it, but unfortunately there was little she could do about that. Such money as she had managed to salvage from Alliria was tied up in...investments, shall we say.

Given no option to seek aid from her own peers (she still saw herself as one of them, regardless of the reality of things), and unable to find employment suitable to her perceived station, she had instead turned to crime. She only needed to be able to come up with enough coin to bring people in to investigate what needed to be investigated, namely a select handful of lesser Houses that Mother had been concerned with for years, and whom seemed to have profited rather mightily from the misfortune of House D'avore.

The young woman was small, barely four feet in height. She had remarkably red hair, and eyes a pale amethyst that glowed oh so faintly with an inner light. Pale features mottled with freckles, a narrow face with high cheekbones and slightly elongated ears, ending in rounded points. She wore simple clothing, a dress of fine cut but of wool rather than finer material. Today, she wore her hair braided in a thick rope down her back, unadorned. She wore no jewelry, not even an earring.

Today she had to go and check up on one of her fences. She goods she brought into the city - mostly spices and textiles - were done so without paying any duties, which more or less was the limit of the illegalities she was willing to entertain at the moment. In Aliria, it had brought down larger organizations on her head. But there, she was an outsider. Here, well...here was home, whether they wanted her here or not.

With a tired sigh, she turned from the window looking over the city street below, and left. Out into the massive city, to endure the stares of people - if they recognized her, anyway. If it was only stares she received and not worse than that.

Into a bright new day.
 
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Elijah

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"And then she just pushed over my cargo-!"

"I did no such thing you liar!"

"Oh yes she did, my poor cabbages went everywhere an-"

"Your poor cabbages?! Your cabbages are rotten, Alistair Finnkle'emp! Nobody would want to buy your stinky-"


Elijah gave a quiet sigh as the two tradesmen went back and forth in their argument. He doubted they even remembered he was there anymore which suited him just fine. Perhaps he could just quietly leave without them even noticing. The only reason he was now stuck 'mediating' the argument was because the Dynast's youngest daughter was attending the market today and Elijah and a small taskforce of other Pegasi had been asked to accompany her. Usually, Eli really enjoyed his outings into the markets. The Princess' always brought a cheer to the people and it was good for them to understand the reality of life in Dornoch in his humble opinion. He knew, though, that he was assigned these duties because they were seem as lesser by his Commanders and more suiting to his techniques.

As with everything else Elijah accepted his hand in life with great grace and humility.

When the commotion had begun the Princess had instructed Elijah to sort the trouble out as the others accompanied her back to the palace. He longingly glanced at their retreating backs as they disappeared up the long, straight road to the Inner Gate. His mouth worked in annoyance. Gypsy seemed to share his feeling for she stomped her hoof and shook out her wing feathers, turning to prune them in what only he recognised as a gesture of boredom with the whole situation.

"Perhaps," his great, deep voice permeated the conversation and brought it to a halt. "This should be settled in the courts."

Nobody in Dornoch wanted to attend the courts if they could help it. The punishments by Guardsmen here were harsh but the orders of the court were harsher still. The pair visibly shrank at the idea.

"Well perhaps I did accidentally mind you, knock over your create..."

Elijah smiled and clamped a hand on the shoulders of each of them.

"It is settled then, you will pay for the damages done and help him tidy up this mess," he could tell they both wanted to grumble over it more but that doing so would be worse for them so off they went to deal with the spilt cabbages that floored the walkway of the market. Elijah sighed and ran a hand down his face, stroking his fingers through his beard in a thoughtful gesture as he watched and wondered not for the first time what he would have been doing with his life if it had not been for Samantha. Dealing with cabbage squabbles? Probably not.
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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It was a great distance to where she was going, on foot. She despised having to walk, especially among the commons, but there was little for it. Caring for horses or the like required money and property, and she had neither at the moment. She did not even have a home to call her own, let alone any of the other comforts that had been taken for granted before everything fell to pieces.

And so she walked the street in sullen silence, head downcast to avoid being recognized by anyone. It was shaming enough to be in simple clothes, walking through the streets with only enough money to attend to the tasks at hand. She had been raised in a House, taught the workings of the courts and the aristocracy, and all of that was going to be wasted on a common life, like all the other simple folk out here working at their simple lives.

It was frustrating, so terribly frustrating. It also hurt, hurt her more deeply than she would ever admit. She had been ready to rise and claim the reins of power, had been eager to do what was right for the people of the Dynasty, those of her community, and that of her House. The long years waiting to reach her majority would have been spent learning all the art of statecraft, insomuch as the Bursars practiced it.

Dashed upon the rocks. She clenched her fists, knuckles white. It had been a year, and yet she still felt...she still felt cheated. Spit upon, betrayed, cast aside.

It doesn't matter. None of it matters, in the end, she thought to herself grimly. For months she had been wracked by the loss, by the terrible loss of it all. Her prospects for the future being cast to the winds had stung, but the loss of her entire family hurt worse. The shame and humiliation she felt when people knew who she was, judging her with cold eyes even though she herself had done nothing wrong, well, that cut to the bone.

She heard a commotion ahead, and risked raising her head. The tell-tale sight of a pegasus drew her up short; somewhere nearby would be one of the Royals. A ball of ice formed in her gut that was equal parts sorrow and rage, both vying against one another for ascendancy. Sorrow, rage, and shame. If there was anyone who would recognize her, it would be one of them. She could still remember the Royals bursting into their home in the dead of night to seize everyone in House D'avore.

Lyssia quickly ducked her head, and cut hard to the other side of the street to avoid whoever it was. Maybe they would not see her, and she could avoid being shamed further than she already was. She picked up her pace a great deal, striving to avoid running into anyone but most of all, striving to not be noticed.
 
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Elijah

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Gypsy tugged a clump of Eli's hair and gave a soft snort to try and catch his attention. She had a habit of doing this often; sometimes it was for important things like a warning that a royal was approaching and he needed to hide his tiny little carving he had been playing with on a break. Other times it was because she had seen an apple she liked and wanted him to buy it for her. Considering where they were currently stood Elijah thought that it was the latter that drew her attention and ignored her until the tugging became genuinely painful.

"Gypsy, what-?" the horse released his hair and with a single wing motioned to one of the figures that were trying to get away from the commotion. It was usually the opposite to what somebody in Dornoch would do when they saw a Pegasus. The winged horses were a sign that royalty were near and the people loved the Dynast and her family. His brows pulled down slowly into a thoughtful frown. At that height it could have been a lanky teenager, and the way they stepped was distinctly feminine. Why would they hide their face and turn away?

Concerned a citizen might be in some sort of danger, Elijah gave a sigh, one final glance over the cabbages and then started off after her with Gypsy close on his heels.
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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She made it another street down before she relaxed. There was really no reason why anyone would follow another woman about her business, really. It was foolish to think that she warranted any attention from the powers that be. Anymore, anyway. They had thrown her to the streets and promptly forgotten her, and the realization that she meant that little to them made the anger that was never very far from the surface rise again, bitter as bile and acid in her useless stomach.

Completely unaware of it, she clenched her fists until the knuckles popped, wearing such an expression of anger that a few people stepped out of her way quickly, concerned looks on their faces completely missed by her. She was looking inward, not outward. At her own failings and her own troubles, of which the world outside could never, ever understand.

Dornoch did not have regions that were havens for crime, unlike many of the other cities of Arethil. The law was strict, and had always been such since the time of the first Dynast. It always amused her that people outside the Dynasty thought a place ruled over by a woman would be a place of compassion, where the law was less harshly enforced than elsewhere. Quite the contrary, the rule of law was harshly enforced. It was not uncommon to see corporal punishment employed for offenses, and under the Dynast the law was enforced the same on commoner and noble alike. Perhaps, even more harshly on the nobility, those who were supposed to set the example and lead by it. It was a distinction that set the Bursars and other lesser nobles of Erdeniin apart from those of other nation states.

As such, to find people willing to do things they should not was not easy. And because it was not easy, they did not tend to congregate in slums, such as those my present themselves in the wealthy capital.

Lyssia, feeling that she had avoided a confrontation that would see her lose even more face than she already had, slowed her pace. The purpose with which she moved, though, did not change. She was about business, and it was business she was not particularly enthusiastic to be a part of. Her temper cooled at the thought of what lay ahead: dealing with yet another cur of the underworld, the worst that the commons had to offer. It made her sick to think that she needed the aid of such elements, that the Royals were absolutely useless to her, that the Law had abandoned her a year before and she felt that she could no longer look to the steady hand of the Dynast to keep the balance of the world, to make everything aright again.

Maybe, in truth, she was a traitor. She might not plant a poisoned dagger in the heart of the Dynast, but how was doubting her guiding hand, her wisdom and her fairness, any better? The poison of distrust and hopelessness were every bit as destructive, in the main, as a thrust dagger in the dark.

She slowed her pace, looking for the house. Most of them here looked more or less alike; edged between shops or on the second story over storefronts. She had not been here but one other time; the nature of her dealings meant keeping a low profile and not visiting often.

She was, of course, oblivious to anyone following her. She was not a spy, nor a warrior or any such thing. It would be childishly easy to follow her, and even easier to come upon her unawares.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah made sure to keep enough of a sea of people between them as possible so that the robed woman wouldn't catch on that she was being followed. He would hang around on the corners of streets of the edge of squares until she disappeared down some other street. Then he would casually stroll over and repeat the process.

It was a lot harder with a pegasus in tow and after a while he murmured a request that she follow from the air. Gypsy gave him a worried look that wrung a small, faint smile from his lips before doing as he had asked.

As they reached quieter and dirtier streets, Eli sensed the woman wasn't even checking whether she was being followed or not. Perhaps she want causing mischief them; thieves always looked over their shoulders. Which meant she was in trouble.

Making up his mind he lengthened his stride and quickened his pace to catch up with her. A firm, large hand came down on her shoulder.

"Excuse me Miss, are you lost?"
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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The crowds had blessedly thinned quite a bit the further from the markets that she went, which made her feel a trifle easier in herself. So far, today at least, no one ad seen her and recognized who she was. A day without being scolded, scorned, or looked down upon because of her familial ties was a thing not to be wasted, and in fact was a thing to be cherished. It was rare, here, where most of the Bursars' and their families were known to one degree or another.

Especially when a family had been cherished by the people that were governed by them, who saw the treasonous accusations and subsequent convictions as a betrayal of faith and trust that cut to their cores. She could not return to her proper home, even now, without risk of being pelted with manure and refuse. Those people would not soon forget the betrayal of their trust, as they saw it. The fact that it was all a very clever, very well orchestrated ploy by other Houses that had succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings only served to stole the fires of resentment and vengeance within her anew every time she thought about it.

The house had to be near. She could not remember expressly which one it was, beyond a few important details. A door painted a grotesque purple, chiefly, across the way from a hostler and a less prominent inn and more prominent watering hole for local...well, anywhere else they would be thugs, but the Royals and the general Watch looked down on criminals of any stripe quite harshly. Although, she knew, that was exactly what they were.

She caught sight of a door that matched the description in her mind, adjusted the shawl over her shoulders, and started forward only to draw short with a startled gasp, spinning to face the voice that had come up from behind her.

And froze in her tracks with such an expression of dismay as to nearly be comical. She had thought she slipped by unnoticed, but apparently not. It was certainly a member of the Guard, and as to what they were doing here, asking her such a question, was anyone's guess. Her features seemed to have a grey cast to them, as though she had been caught doing something awful and was now awaiting punishment for the misdeed.

"No," she said in a quiet, childishly high-pitched voice. "I am not." Her manner of speaking was distinct, of the higher classes of society despite her drab look. The young woman had to think quickly, and then shook her redhead ruefully. It wasn't like she was sneaking away from Mother, after all; she was dead. As was everyone else in her life. What could this man possibly do that would equal that.

"Are you looking for someone, sir?" she added, keeping her head turned down. Hoping she could salvage the situation. Trying to not pique any further interest from this man, and hope he would go away.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah's eyebrows rose briefly before diving back down into a frown. He had been running through different possibilities, of course, whilst he had been following her. Given her stature and size he had considered a young girl who was simply down on her luck, perhaps she was homeless or she was in trouble of some sort. Women were of course seen as superior to men in the Dynasty and if he had found that to be the case, he would have been able to bring her back to the Palace. Childless girls were often inducted into the palace staff and rose to great power within the ranks, becoming the head of staff or joining the guard. Some even became advisors.

He had also considered someone who was a common criminal - of course, women were more suitable to criminal activities during the day as most thought them above such things. It was not unheard of for some to take advantage of their elevated status to use it for their own benefit.

What he hadn't been expecting was someone who spoke like a noble. Eli had spend enough time in the palace and around the Dynast and her Bursars to know the difference in how they spoke.

"No Ma'am, nobody in particular,"
he wished the hood would fall back just a little. That voice was so familiar. "Ma'am, these parts are not as safe as the main city..."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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That voice was familiar to her, as well, and she found herself cursing internally even louder. She couldn't place it, but if he could place hers, then there would be nothing for it. She cringed, imagining the conversation that would play out. You are the traitor's daughter, are you not? She could hear the derision and condemnation in his voice already, as clearly as a shaken fist or a slap across the face.

The spark of rage, that ever burning coal in her gut, flared a bit. She bit down on it hard, because lashing out at one of the Royals would not help her cause in any way - even though it was they that had brought her low to start with. Willing tools of higher powers, or unwilling; either way made little difference to the final outcome.

"I am quite aware," she said in cool tones, struggling to master her temper and only just succeeding. "I thought," she began, "that the Dynast maintains the law quite strictly throughout the city, though, so I fail to see why it should be any different here than anywhere else in Dornoch."

She did raise her head, a little anyway, but drew her shawl closer so that the only thing really visible were the locks of fiery red hair that framed her face, and little if any of her actual face. "If you've nothing further?" she said, still keeping a rein on her legendary temper. She had business to be about, and he was keeping her from it, quite aside from the fact that she did not wish to bear anymore humiliation from those that orbited round the Dynast, the Bursars, and the lesser houses.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah cleared his throat and took a defensive step back. He might have been nearly two foot larger than the woman but he knew his place. He was a guard, and guards were here to serve the Dynast and the people of Dornoch. He was not a man who was meant to question things - especially not those higher than him - nor was he a man that enjoyed confrontation. So when such a situation arose where he found himself questioning the higher authorities and confronting them like he had in this moment, Captain of the Pegasi Elijah wanted nothing more than for the ground to open up and swallow him whole.

"I.." he raised his hands as though he were defending physical blows rather than verbal ones. "I just wanted to check you were well Ma'am. The Harvest Festival time brings all sorts into the city - more than just our own people - and I like to make sure everyone is ... safe ..." he trailed off uncertainly.

He didn't mention he had thought that she might be that trouble a few short moments ago.

Gypsy took the lull in conversation to land beside her rider, white pearly wings flapping twice before settling against her flanks. She gave the woman a snort and suspicious glance.

"If that's all Ma'am, I'll just be heading back then..."
 

Lyssia D'avore

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It cannot be as easy as this, she thought to herself. The ball of ice in her stomach remained, and her heart continued to pound out a quick rhythm in its cage of bone. "I appreciate your concern," she said by way of reply, the fiery ice in her guts fading a little. Some of the tension in her voice, which was subtle enough to start with, drained away.

When the winged horse lighted daintily beside its master, Lyssia gave it not one glance. She was familiar enough with the Pegasi to not go goggle-eyed at their presence, especially like the commons would. She had been around them enough to be keenly aware of much about them that others less acquainted would not know, such as their keen intelligence. She caught the liquid eyes of the pegasus out of the corner of her eye, noting its disapproval distantly. So long as there was no trouble there, she would be free to be about her business.

"It is, thank you. I will not keep you from your duties, Captain," she replied, and then turned from him and glided down the street with her back to them. She could only hope that the air of purpose and the impression that she had every right to be here, doing what she was doing, would dissuade any further questions for either mount or rider.

Without seeming to hurry, she made it to the end of that block, and around the corner. As soon as she was out of sight of the pair, she stopped, turned, and leaned back against the wall of some home. She felt like she were going to melt into a puddle right there, all the tension of the last several minutes draining out of her all at once until she felt as quivery in her limbs as a child recovering from some debilitating illness. The whole thing represented why it was she had fled Erdeniin in the first place.

Was that it? The humiliation of the fall, the degradation of your station didn't have more to do with it? The cowardice of your inability to face the accusations leveled at your family, and fight to shine the light of truth upon those seeking to undo you and everything you stood for? Or perhaps just the crippling ineptitude in dealing with the aristocracy, the courts, and the Dynast herself?

She felt sick to her stomach, suddenly. She was not a coward! She would face this challenge, and bring back the name...of what, though? They had smashed all of it, destroyed her family.

"Well, well. If it isn't the scion of the House!"

Her head snapped up, and her eyes went wide. The man before her was the one she had been dealing with, only now he had a crossbow in hand, a neat, compact little thing that could be hidden in a vest. It would not be any good at all at range, but then, she was only a few feet away. A man stood beside the fellow, a wooden cudgel in hand, and across the street a couple more waiting in the wings.

"Trucce." She said his name flatly, eyes locked on the little weapon in his hand. He gave her a grin, and then slipped the thing away. It wasn't as if either couldn't overpower her simply enough. She cast a look around, and aside from the goons there was no one else on the street. Had there been a few moments ago? She had been so wrapped up in her own thoughts that she hadn't noticed. "What is the meaning of this?"

"Its rather simple, little Lady. You are not really very good at this business, for one, and for another there is the issue of allegiance." He nodded to the other man with him, who took her by the arm rather roughly. She would have a bruise from that rough treatment. "Lets just say that I work for another of the Bursars, and they do not like what one traitorous girl might be up to. My boss seems rather interested in where you would come up with such a sum of money, given the circumstances. So I did tell him we would find out."

He fixed her with a nasty grin, and then turned and started down the street. Not much further along, another stood watch, a young lady in trousers with a scarred up face. She stood by an open door, eyes sharp on the street.

"If I scream," she began, but was roughly cut off by Trucce.

"If you do, I'll just have the Doc here club you over the head. We can deal with what comes after later, but, well, suffice to say that I have rather powerful backing."

She had nothing to say to that.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah held his breath until she was far enough away that she wouldn't be able to hear the sigh of relief he gave. He felt sticky beneath his shirt as though a sudden fever has possessed him and he tugged at his collar a little in order to try and fan some of the colder air down his front. He was incredibly eager to get out of there as fast as possible and back to the palace. If he was quick about it then he might even get back in time to have an hour or two to himself before this evenings Gala in honour of the Bursars; another affair he would rather avoid altogether.

The Captain went to get on Gypsy's back, one foot in the stirrup and hand on the pommel of his saddle, when she side stepped away from him. Eli gave a slow and irritated frown, awkwardly hopping after her to try and swing his leg up and over. But she wasn't having it at all. She pranced away like she were an unbroken filly until his foot came free of the stirrup and he nearly ended up flat on his face.

"Gypsy," he scowled. The Pegasus threw her head back with a soft whinny and then pointed her wing in the direction the woman had gone. "She doesn't want help - she's fine," he retorted angrily. If people could see him talking to a horse they would think he were mad. Most of his fellow troops did; nobody else talked to their steed like Eli did. Nor let them get away with such naughty habits it seemed.

He went to grab her reins and try again but the horse reared and then ploughed on down the street.

"GYPSY!" humiliation burnt his cheeks red as he had no option but to give chase. The Pegasus was the first to round the corner into the situation that was happening just beyond. She took one look at the men and then bit down hard on one of their shoulders. Eli arrived a second later; torn between a look of bewilderment and horror. He trusted his horse though and after a second the golden tendrils of energy erupted from his vambraces, whipping the other's feet out from under him.
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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Things happened quickly, as they often did when the chips were down and the shit hit the windmill.

The sound of the pegasi galloping along all of them heard, and did not ascribe much significance to; the city had horses, after all, and they were not at all uncommon. What was uncommon was the white, winged shape that barreled around the corner. That caused a moment of panicked, stunned silence, and by the time the moment had passed it was too late for anyone to do anything.

Winged horse closed the distance rather quickly, and latched on to the shoulder of the one manhandling her down the street. Anyone who thought that horses were only dangerous from a kick was a fool; the animals had remarkably strong bits, and the crunch of bone was quite audible, even if the teeth lacked the punch of a predator's. The thug squealed in pain, and tossed her wide and away involuntarily; the young lady ended up rolling across the paving stones and filth of the street, losing the delicate shawl on the way and crying out herself. The aforementioned thug was beating at Gypsy's muzzle to let go, all thought of their current nefarious activity completely forgotten.

Trucce took the fall with a grunt, but instead of rising to fight, lay there instead. Dark eyes bored into the Royal Guard, fixing him with an unkind glare. His head snapped to the side, a cruel light in his eyes. "Don't think you've heard the last of this, traitor," he said of Lyssia. "Your crime won't soon be forgotten." The young woman groaned as she got up slowly, rubbing at her arm and her head, cheeks flushed with anger.

Trucce then turned to the Guard, unaware of his rank and uncaring for all of that. "You'll get no struggle from me, sir," he said as he sat up, laying his hands in his lap with a smug grin.

The other people that had been waiting around on the edges, including the scar-faced woman, had vanished almost as soon as the pegasus had arrived, melting back into the murk of their natural habitat without a word.
 
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Elijah

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Gypsy took great glee in headbutting the man who was battering her straight between the eyes. Elijah actually winced on the poor fellows behalf; he had suffered that headbutt a number of times himself with the mare was having one of her moments and he felt the faint echo of pain memory upon his own temple. There was a slight twitch to his hand as he managed to stop himself from subconsciously rubbing at the spot and instead kept his voice calm as he spoke.

"I wouldn't bother fighting her," the Pegasus snorted in agreement and then brought her hoof sharply down on the man's foot just to drive the point home. Literally, in this case. Turning his attention away from that one to the one on the ground beside the poor woman he had been harassing he nodded his head with a frown. Whilst he accepted the man's offer to go graciously he didn't trust it quite clearly.

Even so he decided to leave dealing with him for the moment to reach out a hand and offer it to Lyssa.

"Ma'am are you quite alright? Did these men hurt..." her hood had fallen in the commotion and he could place her voice now he had the face to go with it. Awkwardly his hand stayed where it was, outstretched towards her, even as he warred over what to do himself. The D'avore's were traitors to the Dynast after all, but the crime had not been committed by the young woman in front of him. Duty and honour vied for supremacy inside of his heart.
 

Lyssia D'avore

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She knew what to expect, next, and although it was not a surprise it was still amazing how much it hurt. Physical pain accounted for nothing compared to pain of pride and honor, neither of which she had much left of. She knew as soon as he saw her face what to expect, and was rewarded with the change in the eyes, a look of recognition. A look of recognition, a hand offered but, in her mind, only begrudgingly kept in place out of a continued deference to what she was: a woman, in Erdeniin, which made her something important. Or had; the stain of her family's sin certainly negated most, if not all of it.

Irrational anger flared in her heart, at war with a hurt that this...this man could scarcely conceive of. It made for a confusing blend of emotions, but hurt was certainly at the heart of it. Hurt, and such deep, deep anger.

"That is right," she hissed, and the quaver in her voice only served to make her even more angry. Unbidden tears should have sizzled and flashed to steam on freckled cheeks that were nearly as red as her hair. "I can hear the accusation, see it in your eyes." She finished picking herself up, snatching the shawl off the ground. It was soiled, as were her clothes.

"Accusation? You're family was convicted, sweetie," the man sitting on the ground chimed in. He was not going to move; his matron would see him out of this situation regardless of what happened. It was his job to make as little mess as possible so there was not too much work for the Lady to deal with.

Her mouth opened and shut, producing no sound while hot tears of rage rolled down her face. Rage and humiliation. She wanted to throw something at the man sitting on the ground, but that would serve no one, least of all her. She finally managed to master herself enough to speak. "You do not need to sully your dignity by dealing with me," she said thickly, and turned to walk away. "At least deal with..."

But she could not finish it, because she knew that her captor would get off. Now that the trouble was being dealt with, other people were showing up on the street to do what it was most people did in a city: gawk, and whisper among themselves.
 
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Elijah

Captain of the Pegasi
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Great, more people. Elijah made it a point to never be the centre of attention in Dornoch and yet in one day he had found himself in the eye of its storm twice. Twice. His jaw worked as he clenched and unclenched his teeth, taking his hand back when it was rejected and putting them both behind his back in the typical at ease position. Even if he was anything but at ease in this scenario. Gypsy had apprehended the other culprit who sat in a daze between her hooves, her head tossed back in a prideful manner with her long mane streaming down her back. She even had the audacity to mantel her wings and draw more gasps.

It took great restraint for him not to smack her on the flank.

"Get up," the Captain said perhaps a little too gruffly, motioning for the man willing to cooperate to stand up whilst he simply hurled the other one up by the back of his shirt. "Ma'am..." he paused. "Lady D'avore... if you wish to press charges against these men I will need you to come with me to the Courts... to file your report."

He wasn't entirely sure which of them would hate that more.
 

Lyssia D'avore

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The willing party got to his feet without any complaint whatsoever, that smug smirk never leaving his features. His eyes never left Lyssia, either; they bored into her with the intensity of a laser.

She was aware of his eyes, and the eyes of many others. Not for the first time, she wondered at her decision to return here. The world outside Erdeniin was strange to her, with strange customs and even stranger people. Once, this city would have been a soothing balm for her soul after having suffered the indignity of other lands. Now? Now she was not so sure.

She could hear the whispers, and she could read the eyes of those who gathered to watch the spectacle, could read in them accusation and hatred - whether it was actually there or not. That was the problem with self pity, with being unable to let the past go: even though most of the commons would have moved on in their lives, she could not and could only imagine that they would feel the same as the aristocracy did in regards to her, the sole survivor of her House.

She looked herself over and cringed. She looked like some common urchin, her clothing smirched and skin stained with the filth of the street. "I..." she began, then hesitated.

Was there any point to this? It was very likely that Trucce would in fact get off, just as he said. No matter how grand the Court might be for the commons, the same problem that existed everywhere existed here. Namely, corruption. A little money (or a lot), influence, whatever it took to achieve their goals...if the Bursars or the lesser nobles wished to shield someone, it was very likely they could succeed. In the same manner, in fact, that they could swing a court to find something else that was not there.

There was also the matter of her own impropriety. Trucce had taken a fair bit of her limited funds, and was to engage in some shady business with it. He knew all the details, even if he did not have any real proof of anything.

And, lastly, there was the Captain. It would be expected of her to file those charges, and not doing so would be suspicious. Of course...there were very few places in the world she wanted to be less than the Court. The condescension here was nothing compared to there, the accusation and the derision paling in comparison.

But she had a duty, even if it was all just for show. All the same, she did not want to go there, to deal with that particular problem head on. "As you wish," she said sourly.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah had been half hoping she would decide to dismiss the charges altogether and let bygones be bygones. Both of them knew how this was about to end; if they indeed were men of a noblewoman then she would be down soon enough with wealth at her fingertips ready to get them out of prison or at least off with a lighter sentence - no matter who they were they would be punished for assaulting someone. They might just only lose a little finger or some flesh from their back rather than something worse.

Or, community service. The sewage system was beginning to clog up a little with all these extra people in the city after all.

With a deep sigh he inclined his head and then began to lead them back through the streets towards the Courts, which required passing back through the Market he had been earlier to get to the Second Gate. He was gruff in the way he cleared people out of the way and his scowling face kept most people walking on and not gawking. He set a brisk pace with Gypsy trotting along behind the group of humans to ensure they all stayed together and soon the group were standing outside the Courts.

It was an imposing building that stretched high into the sky, engraved wooden features with gold gilding made it far more beautiful than any court had a reason to be. Eli took a breath, hesitating outside for a brief moment, before slamming open the doors.
 

Lyssia D'avore

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The unease that radiated off of the guardsman was infectious, but it was hardly like she needed any assistance feeling a sense of foreboding at what she was doing. It was all an act, going through the motions that all the parties involved knew was little more than for show. The Captain had found himself caught in the crossfire between two factions, and it was little consolation that one of them had been torn down to such a degree that they were less threat to him than any other commoner might have been.

And such were her thoughts. She only had faint notions as to who was responsible for her current situation; it required funding to properly investigate. A stab of anger that she had just lost the majority of her money to Trucce and his lot.

The imposing structure of the Courts loomed ahead of them as they rounded a corner, and she could feel little relief at it. This was where the justice of the realm was carried out, and it was also a favorite haunt of several of the Bursars. It was a place where many legal proceedings were filed, and executed. She was familiar with a great deal of the apparatuses of governance that happened here.

"You could slow down," she muttered to herself as she struggled to keep up with the humans, all of whom had longer limbs and strides than she did. The Sidhe was already breathing hard, having to do half again as much work to keep up.
 
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Elijah

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It wasn't Lyssia's words that stopped her but rather the man behind him's reaction to her words that caused him to slow suddenly. He so hated people laughing at another's troubles. Elijah let his displeasure with the man's sniggering be known with a rather dark look which quickly seemed to sombre the prisoner up. He bowed his head and uttered not another noise of complaint.

"My apologies, Mistress D'avore," he inclined his head politely. When he resumed walking, this time he kept his steps short and slow. It would give the group more time to appreciate the beauty of the Courts.

Along the walls were depicted several striking moments from the cities history, starting with the uniting of the tiny tribes and then further on through the years. Different Dynast's faces peered down at them from different scenes in time, some good, others bad. The Courts bore witness to it all and judged.

Eventually they came to the central office where these matters were dealt with and Elijah asked for the group to wait as he went and spoke to the young lady sat at the desk. Two stern guards took the men away to the cells and after a moment Elijah returned looking even more uncomfortable.

"Ma'am, if you do not mind they would like to get my statement alongside yours. I can join you in the room or go after, whichever you wish."
 

Lyssia D'avore

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She could not help but feel the eyes of long-dead rulers looking down on her with their severe expressions and eyes that, despite being pain on stone or canvas,still seemed to weigh every soul that passed before and below. And judge them. By their expression alone, she could only imagine they found everyone wanting.

She had lost her awe of these prestigious grounds long ago. Before the fall, she had come here often with her father, spent a great deal of time waiting outside the rooms of power and privilege before eventually joining Mother in those same proceedings. Looking back on those moments now, she wished she could have it all back. Not for some overly simplistic, emotional notion as being with Mother, but for the simplicity of those days. She had only one goal, then: learning how to govern, how to manage the affairs of the House. She had been eager to learn all of it, as quickly as she could even though she was decades away from her proper majority.

The memories made in this place were powerful and evocative. And they slipped through mental fingers as they made their way along the great space. Not like sand but, rather, like ashes. She walked along, eyes downcast as she sifted through those memories. She nearly walked into the back of the captain, only just coming up short and only because of the words directed to one of their party.

"Ah, Trucce," one of the guards said as he came round to gather up his charges. "Come to offer another pound of flesh to the whip?"

"As always," the prisoner replied, polite if a touch sourly. "Let's get this over with," he growled. The guard snorted derisively as he pushed the men along, disappearing round a corner while talking amicably with the prisoner.

Lyssia stared after them with an unreadable expression on her face, pale eyes gleaming in the light.

"What," she asked distractedly, then seemed to recall herself and where she was. She turned and looked up at the guard with those same luminous eyes. "I am sorry, I was...thinking," she said slowly. She looked to the woman at the desk, caught her scowling in her direction while someone else hurried away with a scrap of paper in hand.

"I think that would be fine," she said, never looking at him as she replied. Scowling, anger filled eyes. "That would be fine."
 
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Elijah

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Elijah practically flinched as rage fuelled eyes raised to meet his. This was far above his paygrade. Dealing with the Downcast was definitely a job for the General of the Guard, or perhaps any other woman within the Pegasi. They would not feel so awkward, so small in comparison. For even though she was technically now almost as low as a commoner, Lyssia still had the bearings of a Bursar and it went against Elijah's natural instinct to follow to stand in her way.

He backed up a few paces and turned whilst making a motion with his hands that she should follow after the woman at the desk first. Only when she started walking did Elijah fall into step behind and to the side of her.

The woman, Zhu'li, lead them down a few doors then politely opened the door of a small room. It couldn't exactly be called an interrogation room because it was decorated with paintings on the wall and potted bonsai trees, but it still had an odd clinical undertone to it that suggested the room was meant to be used for business and business only. Zhu motioned for them both to take a seat and the Captain awkwardly folded his large frame into one of them.

"Now, let's start with you Mistress D'avore. Please tell me in full detail what conspired today. Why were you in that section of the city?" she dipped her quill in ink and poised, ready to write.
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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The clipped manner of her speech, business-like and brisk, was a thing to be expected in a place like the Court. But it was the smoldering irritation behind Zhu'll's eyes, the accusatory gleam to them, that brought the young woman up short. She should expect it here, too. Why would the Court be any different? Just because all were equal under the law - ostensibly, anyway - did not mean that the people that staffed it were automatons without emotions or, worse, opinions.

The shaming of her family and its dissolution had been very public things, and the nature of the charges ensured that the flavor of opinion would forever be against her.

"I will stand, thank you," the young D'avore replied a little stiffly.

Now, standing in front of the severely dressed woman, quill in hand and dark eyes filled with misgiving locked on her own, she had to question herself. What she had been doing was, strictly speaking, illegal. The illegality of it was neatly skirted by making sure that she herself never handled any of the business directly, beyond providing the funding that ultimately went to those who procured the goods she had resold elsewhere at a profit - mainly by avoiding paying duties on them.

It was not an uncommon practice among the nobles, though frowned on a great deal. It was a thing that Was Not Done, openly at least. Mostly, the Houses had the finances to pull it off and commoners - even merchants - did not.

She shouldn't, except she had gone abroad to secure coin with the meager amount she had been given to make her way in the world.

The fact that Trucce had, more or less stolen all of her coin, and she could not even admit to it. She shouldn't have been in possession of so much money in her current state, and she did not need to draw any suspicion on herself now.

"Where would you expect me to be?" The words were bitter, but she could not help the bite that was in them. "I was looking for a way to earn a living," she said truthfully. And carefully. She was not about to lie to this woman, but she had long ago learned how to stand truth on its head without speaking a single untrue thing. "I've encountered that man before...but this time came upon me with some of his friends, and they were intent on...."

She trailed off. Not only was she unsure of how to proceed without raising further suspicions, but she did not know - truthfully - what it was Trucce had in mind. And it was unlikely they would dig that information out of him, either; if the Bursars or other nobility were going to dirty their hands, they were going to do it in a way that left them as clean as possible, including hiring people with either solid discretion or making them vanish before any indiscretion could occur.

"...I don't know. But they handled me roughly, so I cannot imagine it would have been good." Not that you care either way, she thought in the bitterest of tones.
 

Elijah

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Eli watched the two women parry as openly as though they had naked blades in their hands. It was like watching the Plains Cats circle off against one another snarling and hissing, trying to find holes in one another's defences. Zhu'li was the more aggressive of the pair, he thought quietly to himself, with the way her words sought to provoke some sort of outburst. The D'avores might have lost their lands and titles but to so deliberately call her mistress was a great insult; it was what a Lady would call her servant. He watched as the young Lyssia responded and bit down on the inside of his cheek. She was hiding something.

The Captain was not the smartest man. He had got to the position he was in through hard work, dedication, and passion. Not smarts. His General was always the first to tell people of that. Even so he thought it was rather obvious in her anxious manner and carefully chosen words that there was something else going on here. Men did not just attack women for no reason.

There was an awkward moment of silence once the young woman had given her account. Eli cleared his throat.

"It was the Pegasi who sensed the trouble first," the horses were well respected and he hoped that note might make the proceedings more favourable to Lyssia. "When I turned the corner there were two men - one who I found to be armed - and another who tried to attack Gypsy, my mount. The young Lady here was on the floor when I arrived, they had clearly intended her harm."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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"As the man himself said when we questioned him before sending him off for his punishment," Zhu replied. She shot the young woman a look that was pure condescension. "I wanted to make sure the accounting of events was truthful, a thing that might be hard for some people to grasp."

She did not flinch at the comment, but very nearly did. Acid boiled in her stomach, and the seething rage she had felt for an entire year threatened, briefly, to boil to the surface in a fit of rage. A fit of rage that would gain her nothing, except perhaps a trip to a cell for a day or two or, worse, tied to a post to be lashed a few times.

"Well, I do not have anything else for either of you," Zhu said without allowing either of them an opportunity to speak. "Captain, if you would please escort this...girl...back out, I can get on with filing the paperwork to regarding her attackers." She made the word 'girl' sound like she was talking about 'filth', and again Lyssia had to stand there and take it.

"Thank you for your time," the sidhe said stiffly, and turned to leave. Zhu was up and heading out the back door, into the warrens of shelves where all the scribes, couriers, and legal aids and clerks such as herself lived when not needed up front. The woman had given Elijah a commiserating smile before leaving.

And not much after she had left - seconds in fact - the door they had come in opened. A man, well dressed and clean cut, entered first, looking Lyssia up and down with a condescending smirk on his face. He held the door open and another person entered behind him. A woman.

Bursar Ki'ionte, in fact. Lyssia regarded the woman as she glided into the room, and her retainer shut it behind her. She regarded Elijah in the same manner someone might a curious insect one had found in the pantry, and then turned her attention to Lyssia. That look was more in keeping with what you might expect from someone observing a maggot.

"Mistress D'avore," she said with a sly smile. She looked immaculate in a flowing blue, white, and red pleated dress. House colors, as Lyssia knew all too well. Her dark hair and eyes went well with the darker complexion of her skin, an unblemished and smooth brown. "I heard you had some trouble with some ruffians, and thought I would check in on the last daughter of my friend," she said, tone oily and friendly seeming. Those eyes, though, they belonged on the face of a mortal enemy.

Lyssia said nothing, at first. This was the woman who had subsumed a large part of her family fortune, if not the seat of the Bursar itself. No, that had gone to one of her satellite Houses. Lyssia could not recall the name, but she would never forget this woman. Never.

"Adora Ki'ionte sur Drakkis," the girl finally said, words deadpan and as cold as winter.

"That would be 'my Lady', to one such as yourself." The older woman was clearly enjoying herself. "Such a shame you decided to come back to Erdeniin with your tail tucked firmly between your hideous legs," she continued in the same smooth, oily tone. "Still have some ploys or plots left to play out, now that the house of cards has collapsed?"

"That would be your bailiwick," Lyssia replied, a little heat finally getting into her words. The Bursar feigned anger at the belligerence; despite that, it was clear she was enjoying herself.

"Mind your tongue, wench, lest you get flogged for it." She looked to the Captain again, and shook her head slowly. "You should have stayed away. This is not your home anymore, traitor. Take care that nothing more untoward than this little incident happens to you. Would be a shame to see you wash up on the shore dead." She paused. "Not that anyone would mourn the passing of a traitorous wretch such as yourself."

She turned, and her retainer opened the door for her. She cast one last look back to the Captain. "See this...girl...back to the street. Maybe give her a boot to speed her along, perhaps?"

Her laughter echoed even after the door closed behind the pair, leaving the diminutive woman standing there, face as red as a beet and fists clenched at her sides.
 
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