- 1 1st May
- 2 2nd May
- 3 5th May
- 4 27th May
Spring day -- Poryatu
"So why arrange their escape if you were still going to let them be murdered?" Ginny lent against the parapet, watching the three horsemen shrink into the distance, dark ants scurrying along the road in the pale glow of the westering moon. She was missing the quiet of the mountains, far from the intrigues of court.
"I gave them a chance to live if they were fast enough and a clean death if not, which is a lot more than Bellatrix was offered. Anyway their children are now safe enough so I'm hardly a monster, spirited to a better life where the name Fitz Roberts is worth little compared to a favour owed by a Dubhaine," Ciarghuala betrayed little trace of emotion, "Do you really want to know more?"
"Do you really want to tell me?" Ginny turned to her older sister, the reproach in her voice muted somewhat by her instinctive shivers as the damp, chill wind blowing off the eastern plains picked up its pace. She drew the wolf pelt close about her shoulders and sniffed the air. There'd be rain before dawn. Cold driving sleet and leaden clouds.
"What do you think?"
"I think you take more after mother than you care to admit."
"If that were true Ginny I'd have stood down from this throne long ago," tonight the crown weighed particularly heavy on the Queen's conscience and she wondered why she didn't just walk away. There were oaths obviously, solemnly sworn to Fulco and Seoras and Sholan, the true Emperors. Oaths to Bennet and Matthew, her swordbrothers. Oaths to her mother, Moira the Wolfshead who dreamed dreams far above the ambitions of mortal Kings... even had all the other oaths been nought, that oath would bind her.
And there was duty. One could never forget duty. Duty was in her blood and bone, the virtue which had raised House Dubhaine to such vertiginous heights. Duty to the men and women under her command, to the knights who stood beside her in battle, and duty to the hardworking peasants they risked their lives to defend.
But there was also the ocean, the crests of its mountainous waves crashing into deep chasms as her dragon prow sliced through the roaring maelstrom, the warm becalming of the tropical reefs where the green glass stretched for leagues beyond number, the frigid ice towers of the northern latitudes crushing hearts of oak with hoary old age... for a brief moment she let her mind's eye indulge that same wanderlust she shared with her sisters before the needs of the present brought it to reign.
"Surely if the workman was complicit in the Margrave's plan his life had some value as a witness?" Ginny offered.
"Sadly very little in the accounting of the great. No more worth than his own stature and you're old enough to know the full measure of that. At best his word would fuel a season's scandal but certainly no more, and nowhere near the price to compensate for his part in that grotesque public charade. No, his death was assured the moment he agreed to play his part, willingly or otherwise. Indeed in a just world he'd already be hanging from a sounder gibbet than the one he prepared, with a fine view of the headsman's block and his family strung beside him as a reminder that noble blood must have its due. But as you may have noticed, this is not a particularly just world."
"That sounds more like vengeance than justice," Ginny let out a quiet sigh.
"And now who sounds like mother?"
There was a long pause as the distant horsemen crossed the horizon into the early dawn, and the Queen reflected on the strange twists of fate which had brought her from the Zuma steppelands to this land of walls and secret conflict.
"So this was a distraction?" Ginny broke the silence.
"Indeed dear, a most welcome distraction. Our friend has played his little game and now thinks himself a master of plots, a conceit I'm more than happy to encourage. And whilst he plans his next betrayal - for a traitor very rarely can help himself - we watch and wait and do our duty."
"Then I take it the voyage north proved worthwhile?"
"Indeed," the Queen turned at the sound of footsteps, the lumbering bulk of Kristof, a Sergeant of the Guard.
"Beggin' your pardon Ma'am, the prisoner has confessed."
"What of the other man? Were they both from the Forlorn?"
"Yes Ma'am. But he didn't survive the interrogation," there was a hint of disappointment in his tone.
"A pity. Convene the Court in the morning. The charges will be conspiracy to commit brigandage, accessory to murder, dereliction of duty, and treason whilst in Imperial Service. His cohort can have the honour of carrying out the sentence."
"Very good Ma'am," Kimball lurched back towards the guardhouse.
William Fitz Roberts
Tying up loose ends part 3
William stood with his arms behind his back, looking over the great roaring sea crashing into the cliffs below as the bravi gave their report. At last he turned
‘Well, at least you fixed your mistake before it was too late, you may go’ All the Bravi hurried away, relieved that they had survived the encounter. William sat down at his desk, his frustration growing. How was it that the traitor could continue to irk him so even after death? How many more nobles had been taken in by her lie? He had the evidence, he knew the sentence had been the right one. He was growing tired of people being blinded by their sense of what was honourable over what was necessary for the continued good fortune of the realm. He sighed as he made a note of a single name to his list. To anyone who found the list, they would be unable to ascertain its purpose. But he knew. And it was satisfying to add it. He then tossed the list into the fire. The one place no spy could ever see into was his own head. And with his successes these past years, the list had grown mercifully short
Spring Evening -- Poryatu
Tyra Andrasta Bluelake
Tyra started laughing at Alya's words. "Right! We have a few monster heads Edelyn hasn't dissected yet, we can use that... Or even better, there's those 6 heads of dire hogs she mummified... We can actually wear them. Or have the guards wear them... Hmmmm... How about we make it seem like we've made a monstrous court? I can send some people to get undead parts from the battlefield... Go get Edelyn, quick!"
Summer Day -- Poryatu
Tyra Andrasta Bluelake
They had everything ready, the monstrous guards, the clothes of the courtisans covered in undead bits and bones, Edelyn had brought her pet monster to the Countess's hearing room, and the three of them sat there, expectantly.
Myr never arrived.
A lone piece of fried chicken rolled along the floor. None dared to pick it up and even the rats avoided it.
Summer Evening -- Poryatown
Letter from Perdita Esotericus
It is with sadness I must make the following announcement. Be advised that the rulers of all your realms have already received this exact message. I do not want any misunderstandings to cause any grief to the innocent.
My fellows, the war of Northern Aggression continues to drag on and Sol remains a focal point for the Northern Alliance's military practice and training. Something simply are what they are and we accept that.
During this exercise we in Sol have operated under the program of allowing those of an otherwise hostile realm who are not under direct military instruction to enter Solaran lands. After all, it is hardly the fault of the commoner that their leaders make disturbing and honorless choices and the simple folk have to continue to do what they can to survive. Although hardly under the same set of rules and expectations as we the Nobility, we generally have no quarrel with the common folk.
Over the past months several commoners and 'adventurers' who call home those northern realms which seek our destruction have been found inside our borders and temporarily placed into cells for their protection and then set free under their promises to do no harm to Sol. Of course you cannot expect a commoner to understand the full meaning of the Honor behind an oath yet we did expect them to do their best.
It has not escaped my attention however that the numbers of these commoners found in Sol has risen over time. We seem to attract a somewhat larger number of them than perhaps would be expected, given our small size and unpopular location. This is suspicious.
Now we have found these commoners leaving a region that our enemies have squatted their armies in for nearly a week now, looting and pillaging, and these commoners want to leave our lands carrying fairly large sums of gold... I repeat, from a region recently and mercilessly pillaged. This isn't just suspicious anymore my friends. This is unacceptable.
Sol wishes to remain friendly to all who mean her no harm and we would become friendly with those otherwise as well, were they to accept our position that Sol stands behind the Honor of the Nobility.
We will not allow ourselves to be taken advantage of however, when we can clearly see our Honor disrespected.
Be it known that as of this moment, any Commoner from any realm that has declared War upon the Republic of Sol or any realm that Sol has likewise declared war on will be considered as much a combatant in this struggle as any soldier or noble leading them.
We will release those we have in prison at this time as we had allowed their passage until now. Sol keeps our word. However, any Enemy Commoner returning to Solaran soil after this moment will be tracked, imprisoned, and killed as if they had taken up the sword and joined an enemy unit against us. Those released and any still at large will have One Day to remove themselves from Solaran land.
I dearly hope we do not have to enforce this law against those folk but we will.
May the Three end this insanity and may the Austere prevail.
Imperatrix of Sol
Royal of Sol
Duchess of Unterland
Highborn Ranger of Royal Rangers
Summer Evening -- Askileon Purlieus
Alessio de Medici
Alessio laid upon his bed in Giask, looking watching the sky from the shut window. Beside him, his wife Andrea and many children gathered round. He was ravaged by disease and now he felt the life drain out of him.
"Andrea," he said. "I would like to see the sunset one final time." And so the woman rose from the bedside, walking over to the window and opening it. The beams shone in and onto Alessio himself.
He closes his eyes, turning to his son, Doriano: "I propose that we build for eternity."
And in uttering his words, he took his last breath as one of the living. Emperor Alessio had passed on. Emperor Alessio was dead. It would not be long until word spread, especially with news of his Last Will and Testament.
He wondered if that was there. No, it wasn't the right time yet.
Then it happened. Or did it?