Dreadlords To the Ends of the Earth

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"Convenient," Ralene replied flatly to Edric's own report. The initiate leaned back into her chair and lifted to prop her boots up on the empty seat next to her, her eyes skating to the figure of the waitress as she returned with their drinks and first round of food.

"Anything else I can get for ye?" she asked as she placed the last tankard on the table.

"How about a way into the Palaces?" Ral asked jokingly, "We'd love to see the inside."

The waitress chuckled, "You lot ain't ever gettin' in the palaces. If ye ain't nobility or royalty, ye ain't gettin' in without a direct invitation from the Kings - be it on yer heads, the palaces ain't no place for tourists."

Well, that settled that.

Ral gave the waitress a seedy sneer as she left, before turning to Al on her right, voice lowered so as not to carry, "So, Lord Alistair, time to get you an audience with the King's Master of Runes."

Alistair was a noble. Hell, so was Ralene. The waitress said nobility, but she didn't say from where.

"Bad idea or not," Ral looked to Edric as she took a bite of her meal, chewed, and swallowed, "We can't just sit around hoping he'll come back out anytime soon. Who knows how long that will take."
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Alistair paid attention to Edric's explanation and then went back to his notes after he was told which palace. If he looked at all the patterns, maybe he could find a chance for them to slip in without being noticed.

He lost himself in his work, which is why he did not pay attention to the waitress and Ralene's interaction. That was until he heard his name and he looked up with a frown as he put together what Ralene was thinking.

"Can't it be you this time? I always have to be the noble."

He was glad that he had been taught the proper etiquette and manners of nobility when he was younger, but he had never expected to use it as much as he does.

Ironically, the Dreadlords tried to train him in everything, but decorum, yet it was in his missions where he most often used these specific skills.

"Besides, they don't just accept every noble that shows up on their door, right? What makes you think they want to talk with me?"

Edric Ralene
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Edric considered for a brief moment.

The play was a good one. Breaking into the palace would likely end up with the lot of them as ogre meat, but if they were invited inside a different story could be told. It would still be difficult, but if all eyes were on Alistair then Ralene and Edric could sneak away.

At least one of them could. "Well."

A frown touched his lips, and then suddenly an idea sparked in Edric's mind.

"We don't go to that King." He said, speaking the words as soon as they came to his mind. "They already have an Anirian, right? Our traitor. I'm certain, if politics here is anything like politics back home, that the other two will have heard about it."

Edric knew relatively little about the Great Game, but he'd paid enough attention to Kristen and Elspeth in his time with them that he'd caught some things. "Maybe one of the other Kings will be interested in..."

He gestured. "All of this. An Anirian Lord come calling, looking for lost relics stolen by a man harbored by a rival King? That might stir a little interest."
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"Can't it be you this time? I always have to be the noble."

Ralene narrowed her eyes, "We've been over this Al. I'm not pretty enough to pass for a noble." Batting her eyelashes at him, she snickered and took a swig of her drink. Leaning back into her chair and hooking an arm over the backrest, she hitched a brow at Ed's idea.

"King eat King," a facial shrug shifted her expression, "not a bad idea. Did you bring the runesaber, Al?"

Considering the weapon was still very much in testing phase, she had her doubts, but Ralene had a hunch that sort of blade did not exist anywhere else. At least, not that she'd ever heard or read about. The novel item might be enough to garner interest from the other Kings.
Alistair rolled his eyes and sighed as he looked down at his notes before looking back up.

"Curse my incredibly handsome and regal face."

There really wasn't much point in arguing anymore. He could see it in the way the two of them were already throwing out ideas. It was already as good as decided.

He did not think there was much that could pull him away from regretting this course of action, but then Ralene asked about the saber and he reflexively barked out.


That sword was a one-of-a-kind creation, that was the height of his creative career...so far. It was a delicate and likely highly sought-after tool if people understood how it worked. He would never be so foolish as to bring something like that all the way to the other side of the earth where it could be stolen, damaged, or worse.

Yet, his hand slowly moved towards a wrapped bundle at his belt before he dropped his eyes and mumbled.

"Yeah, I've got it."

Ralene Edric
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My my, defensive about their little collaboration was he? Ralene's smirk broadened as she leaned over closer to Al, blue eyes trailing down to where his hand fondled the bundle at his waist. Her eyebrows danced suggestively. Smugness became her.

"A project I've been helping him with for the last few months between missions... might just do the trick to get the attention of a King if all else fails."

Peeling her gaze away to look back at Ed, Ral settled back into her seat once more, "So we need to figure out how we're going to get our invitation from the King. Somehow I don't think they'll just let us waltz up to the gates and plead our case."
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"A project?"

Alistair looked at Ralene incredulously for the lacking explanation of the device. By now, his hand had a firm vice-like grip on the bundle as he turned his eyes on Edric.

"It's not just A project. It's a device that very well is the beginning of a new evolution in Anirian military magical technology for the next decade..."

He lowered his voice before adding in.

"And if the King tries to take the runesaber then I will cut his hand off with it."

He said matter-of-factly. Alistair knew he sounded like a child on that last part, but he did not care. Ralene was just expecting him to put his pride and joy in harm's way just to get in good with some King. If this did not work, he would never forgive her.

"Let me take off someone's head with the weapon. That'll get their attention."

Ralene Edric
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"Uh huh." Edric said in response to both Ralene and Alistair's claims, looking at the both of them curiously for a brief moment. Something extravagant could certainly catch the eyes of those high up, but he wasn't sure it was the best play to have all eyes on them.

Slowly he shook his head.

"Any form of violence will land us all in Prison." Edric pointed out. "They seem to be rather...serious about that."

It felt very odd being the one not to advocate for violence. A year ago he would have been the first to suggest it, if he had even bothered talking to the others at all. Yet here he was, arguing directly against what would have been his core solution just a short while ago.

He frowned for a moment, then looked at the two of them. "Can you make us a seal? Something official looking. Something that lends credence to the lie."

They would have to bluff, but the more they could back up their story the better. All the three Initiates had to do was hope the animosity between Kings was enough to catch attention. "We can keep the...runesaber as a backup plan."
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Ralene smugged as Alistair took the bait. Damn, still so easily riled up and yet still amusing to do so. The more he leaned into it, the more she chewed on her satisfaction, chuckling to herself as she washed her meal down with another swig of ale.

"Calm down," Ral set her mug down with particular care, blue gaze eyeing the petulant Krixus confidently, "no one's taking the runesaber." Even if it was somehow lost or taken, she wasn't concerned. For one: it wouldn't work for anyone but Alistair, she'd made it that way on purpose. And two? Remaking it was easy now that she'd already done it. In fact she'd been waiting for the day Al showed up at her workshop to tell her he'd broken it just so she could remake it better.

That gaze then shifted to Ed in consideration, "Like a wax seal? I could carve a wooden stamp without too much trouble. Anything more than that I'd have to commission a crafter. I don't exactly have the tools or the resources handy."
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"I am calm. I'm always calm."

Alistair said defensively as he went back to his drink. He let the other two discuss the plan for a second while he took plenty of time to finish his drink and food. They wanted to pick at him then he could make them wait a moment.

As soon as Ralene discussed commissioning a seal, he looked up a little confused.

"Why do we have to make one? We can just use the seal for House Krixus, they won't know if my family is important or not. All they will know is that we are nobility."

To emphasize the point, Alistair dug in his pouch and pulled out the ring that marked him as the heir to House Krixus. It also served as a stamp for the family seal. This was one of two, the other one belonging to his father.

"I'm still a little unsure what I am supposed to talk about with this king. Do I just talk to him about the other foreigner?"

Edric Ralene
”Oh. You have that?” Edric was still not entirely sure how this whole ‘noble’ thing worked. No one had ever really bothered explaining it to him, or if they had it had been when he hadn’t much cared.

Mentally, he added another thing to the long list of things he needed to teach himself.

Before the Revolution, when the old ways were still prevelant, Edric had never much paid attention to the ‘book learning’ side of things. His focus had been in war, being a weapon, surviving so that one day he could escape and kill any Dreadlord that was sent after him. Now? Well now he felt a fool.

His journey’s with Kristen alone had taught him just how much he didn’t know, how much he needed to know.

Thus the list grew. ”You tell him the truth, sort of.”

Edric explained, refocusing himself on the conversation at hand and not what would need to be done in the coming months.

”You are here to bring a thief to justice, a thief harbored by the other King.”It wasn’t exactly a lie. ”We just have to present it that instead of shit kicking Initiates we’re, or you…”

A shrug rolled over his shoulders. ”Are Important.”

That way they might actually get some traction.
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Ral mirrored Edric's reaction to the ring.

Did Al just ... carry his family's seal around with him everywhere he went? Was that a thing that nobles did? Ral raised a brow quizzically at this, but as the saying went: she wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Small miracles, serendipity, something something...

Edric's strategy (she couldn't believe this train of thought was happening in her mind) was sound. There was just one problem...

"When we get an audience with a King ... I guarantee he's going to ask about the what was stolen," she'd lowered her voice and leaned in across the table, "which we know fuck-all about. That won't help Al legitimize the story, so we have to come up with something good to tell him when he asks."
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Alistair was quick to defend himself when he looked at the two surprised looks coming from his fellow initiates.

"I'm not just going to leave the thing at the Academy, and I am definitely not leaving it with my father. He is as likely to decide to take it away from me the next time I show up. The safest place for it to be is with me."

Anyways, now that his competence was so easily protected, he focused back in on their project.

"We could just say the stolen item was incredibly valuable and there is much need for secrecy...Edric did you see the man carrying anything when you saw him walk into the palace? Even a box or a shape might help us figure out what it is."

If it became necessary they could just lie and then they had to make a run for it when the time comes.

Ralene Edric
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Edric slowly shook his head. ”No.”

It was an unfortunate truth. The man had likely been here for some months, there was no need to carry whatever he had stolen around with him in the city. They had already been lucky enough that Edric had seen him at all, if the roles were reversed they likely never would have left the palace at all.

”Some things we’ll just have to…improvise.” He said with a slight frown. ”I doubt the thing would be any bigger than a handful though.”

If what had been stolen required a crate or anything so large the Proctors would doubtlessly have mentioned it. Whatever they were supposed to bring back could be carried, and that meant it had to be relatively small.

He shrugged. ”I say we try in the morning, maybe hire a herald or whatever you nobles call them.”

Someone to send the second King a missive. Word of their arrival and what they would want in the city. Coin wasn’t exactly a problem for them, and the more official they appeared to be the better their lie would land.
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"We're going to have to spin a story that we're dressed down so we don't draw undue attention," she said, looking at the both of them. While Alistair could maybe pass for a casually garbed noble, none of them looked fit to be presented to a King, "we didn't want to tip off the thief of our presence."

How often did an Anirian noble make the journey to Tyre? Ral wagered not very often and likely only for very good reason. The coincidence of a Noble with two body guards arriving here would be enough to spook an Anirian thief.

"Either way, we have to land this. If they don't buy it, we blow our cover - no way we're getting anywhere near the thief or the target again without a whole lot of trouble."
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Yep, it was the old noble and bodyguard trick. Ral was just adding an extra bodyguard...They could make it work. it would take some convincing, but the trick to any good lie was keeping just enough of the truth in it to avoid unnecessary questions. Their truth was that they really were looking for this thief.

"Ok, so no pressure...We can finalize some details tonight and then go tomorrow. We should all make sure we know the story to avoid inconsistency."

By this point, Alistair was lightly tapping his magical quill against his notebook with anxiety. Maybe they could also try to learn some things about the King they would speak with. If they had some likes to build some bonds with then the talking may go easier

Ralene Edric
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From Edric’s point of view it was a solid enough plan. They didn’t really have much else going for them.

Brute force wouldn’t work in a city like this. They could try and sneak into the palace and steal the item back themselves, but they knew next to nothing about the palace or even what they were looking for. As far as he was concerned this really was their only option, aside from outright telling the truth.

A tactic that Edric somewhat doubted would work. ”Well, lets get to it then.”

The Initiate said with a nod of his head.

For the rest of the night the three of them began to plot and plan. They put together a backstory, one filled with enough truth that it would be easy enough to mask. Small details were added of course, but by the time they went to bed the story they had woven would hold up. At least in a place as far away from Vel Anir as Tyr.

Now all they had to do was pull it off with a straight face.
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The next day Ralene left before the others to find a Herald that could, with any luck, get them an audience with one of the Kings. Weaving their story was simple enough, as was paying the coin, but she had to admit her appearance wasn't exactly convincing. They'd traveled incognito on purpose, and made that fact part of their story as well. Alistair's family crest on the signed decree for the Herald was enough to seal the deal.

When she arrived back to the inn she found Al and Ed up in the room. Neither Eli or Drastus had returned - concerning, but they couldn't put their plan on hold to hunt them down. With luck, the two were just doing what (or who, in Eli's case) they needed to in order to get more info.

"I've got us a Herald," Ral explained as she fed herself pieces of bread dipped in coffee while she slowly paced back and forth across the room, "best money could get. Said he has clearances for the Palace and he's taking the decree you wrote up last night in. He'll return soon with the King's answer."
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Upon Ralene's return, Alistair was leaning up in the corner writing down the cover they had crafted into his book. Writing things down always helped him remember the details better. He looked up at her entrance and could not hide a small frown.

He still was not completely sure if this was going to work, and so much of it was riding on his ability to lie to a king. It was not a skill he had developed much up to this point.

"What will you to be doing? Being my servants or bodyguards? Or staying here to run when everything goes wrong?"

He honestly would not blame them for the last choice. Someone had to go tell Vel Anir they failed if they all ended up dead.

Ralene Edric
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"Bodyguards." Edric answered for the both of them.

With both Drastus and Eli having seemingly gone rogue there was no way in fuck that he was going to leave Alistair alone. There was no telling what had happened to the other two, but he was most certainly not letting the other Initiate walk into the palace on his own.

"We'll be at your back." He said calmly. "And if anything goes wrong..."

For a moment Edric trailed off and then tried to give his own approximation of a reassuring smile. "We all head for the nearest window."

It was the best escape plan he could come up with in the moment.

There was no doubt that all of this was rather cobbled together, but what else were they to do? The mission had to be completed, and this place was so foreign it felt like climbing a hill into Olyriad itself. All they had was bravado and confidence.

Something they would need in droves.

A few minutes later a knock echoed on the door, the rapping of knuckles resounding against hollow wood.

"Madame? Are you there? I have your answer, and you'll want to kiss me for it!"​
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Content to let Edric answer for her, Ralene fixed her attention on her breakfast and downed the last of her coffee. That Al had even thought they'd let him go alone was absurd on a level she didn't have the words to describe. They hadn't spent over a month on a boat to bow out of this plan now. In fact, Ral was rather looking forward to this whole charade. It could very likely put them all to the test - and she wasn't one to back down from a challenge.

"Don't worry Al," she said over a bite of bacon and reached to straighten his robes with two strong hands, "it's going to be fine."

The knock at the door drew her gaze wide, brows lofting at the end assumption.

"We'll see about that..." and she moved to open the door just enough so she could see out but he couldn't see in past her, "what was the King's response?"
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Alistair went back to his writing. A small part of him wondered if the herald would tell them the king said no and their plan would be cut off at the root. No problems for Alistair, but that was not his luck.

"If he is insistent on the kiss, then we can let Ed give him one." He mumbled quietly under his breath so that only Edric and Ralene could hear.

He smirked at the quip and glanced up to see Edric's reaction, but quickly moved on from the joke.

"I've never felt so self-assured about a well-thought-out plan," Alistair said sarcastically.

Ralene Edric
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"Sure." He said in agreement to Alistair's joke. "I'll be sure to give him a nice Kiss from Kress."

Edric continued with a roll of his eyes.

A kiss from Kress, was of course, a sentence of death. An old tale told in story books that all of them had heard at one time or another. The ancient god so powerful that even the briefest brush of his lips enough to eviscerate ones soul.

He'd been reading.

As Ralene stepped towards the door Edric shifted towards one of the nearby walls. Ready to step forward in case the man had been followed or intended Ill.

"You paid me well and I am happy to report the King will be more than happy to meet you!"

Edric nearly breathed a sigh of relief.

"But not for an audience. Instead he has deemed you should join him at the Gala he is hosting tomorrow evening."

For a few seconds Edric thought he had misheard. His eyes closing in a slow blink as his mind ran through the words.. "Shit."

He cursed, looking at Alistair with a mark of despair.
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"He wat."

Ralene stared at the Herald with a gaze so sharp and full of venom he could have dropped dead just from making eye contact.

She frowned. Deeply and with much disgust.

"You understand, Sir," her words began slowly, "we traveled here under cover so as not to draw attention. My Lord is not prepared to make an appearance at such an event..." but hell, they had nearly two days to get Al dolled up in some snazzy suit and they could probably find something smart and tidy for herself and Ed to wear as his guards.

Ralene looked ponderous for a moment as she considered their situation, then shifted a wry and knowing smile back to the Herald, "You will help us assemble an outfit for my Lord worthy of the Royal Court."
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