Star Wars: Concord's End

2 years prior to The Force Awakens...
A persistent and interactive galaxy set shortly before the events of Episode VII

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:34 am

Felicity was shocked at how easily Autumn was able to say all that. She had practiced for days trying to learn her own identity and still when it came to deceiving people she just wasn't that good at it. She was certain she would not be able to sit across from Prince Rosario and tell him with so straight a face that she was here to check up on him without revealing too many details.

Darien cast a glance over at Felicity who had been staring at Autumn. He could see she was surprised but whether it was because she was just learning this for herself or surprised that Autumn had managed to successfully hide something was unclear. Still, it seemed a prudent idea to keep an eye on her to see how this negotiation was going. Autumn also seemed to pick up on that and gently rested a hand on Felicity's knee. That might have been a signal of some kind but it was dangerous to make assumptions.

"Of course, Princess, no offense has been taken," Darien assured her, "Were I in your father's position I would feel obligated to do the same. Now, how about some refreshments?"

He clapped his hands together and several servants came in carrying trays upon which were a collection of various fruits, cheeses and meats along with several glasses of wine. He selected a glass from one of the trays as it passed by and both Autumn and Felicity did the same. All the while Felicity was staring at the servants as they came in and surrounded them. They were that same species she had seen out in the hall. They looked like something she might have seen on Ord Mantell but different somehow.

"Is there something wrong, Miss Orssen," Darien suddenly asked her and Felicity realized she'd been staring.

"I'm sorry, it's just--I've never seen their species before. What are they," she asked, her cheeks turning a slight red.

Darien leaned back in his chair and took a sip of his wine to hide his self satisfied smirk. "They're the Messryn," he said after quickly composing himself and lowering his cup back into his lap, "an ancient race of people who populated this sector long before we did. Odd that you don't know about them."

Felicity's eyes widened at that last remark and she suddenly realized she'd made a mistake. She looked to Autumn for help but the other girl pretended not to notice. "I--I didn't get out much on the farm," she said sheepishly, she hoped that sounded convincing enough but just in case she resolved to keep her mouth shut from now on.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:43 pm

Perhaps this was a mistake.. Autumn thought to herself even as an easy smile came to her face. Darien was reading Felicity like a book, and unless he came to a satisfactory conclusion that Felicity simple was that naive, he was going to zero in on her and try to pump her for information. Autumn made a mental note that Felicity should never be left alone with him.

Autumn turned her attention to the nearest Messryn, a tall, fur covered creature with a narrow muzzle for a head and large golden eyes. Even beneath the short fur, which looked rigorously groomed and even smelled perfumed, Autumn could see powerful muscles working with every movement, giving the Messryn a sleek and powerful frame.

"You will have to excuse my traveling companion. We do not have the Messryn on the Oridin. Not many, at any rate." She commented mildly before turning her attention to Felicity. "I imagine they look much different in person as opposed to the books you've seen before."

The Messryn, obviously not quite sure if he was being addressed or simply talked about, gave a faint bow, his eyes shifting from Felicity to Prince Darien before returning to Felicity.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:08 pm

Felicity looked between Darien and Autumn. Was Autumn giving her permission to speak? "Um--I suppose that's true," Felicity said, glancing up at the Messryn Autumn had addressed. They sort of looked like Bothans. Or maybe Cathar? Maybe a mix between the two? It was hard to say.

"Ah yes, well. I was not aware of that being the case on Oridin. From what I've been told you've been quite sheltered," he asked, looking towards Felicity.

The girl merely nodded, not trusting her own voice to respond. Prince Darien considered that a moment then shrugged. He lifted his wrist and checked his chrono then turned back to Autumn. "The banquet will begin in two hours. We have rooms set aside for you and your guest to prepare. My father will make an appearance tonight at the ball, however brief, before retiring for the night. I'm afraid his strength isn't quite what it used to be."

He took another sip of his wine, downing the rest of it in one gulp. After setting the empty glass down on a platter held out for him by one of the servants he glanced up at Autumn again. "Now, will there be anything else you need from me," he asked, clasping his hands together with a loud clap.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:15 am

Autumn merely smiled. Are you so quickly bored of your guests, Darien? Or is this visit much more of an inconvenience than you'd care to admit?

"No, Prince Darien, your hospitality has been more than sufficient, and we would not wish to keep your from your official duties. But please express to your father that I should be very honored to have a small portion of his time in a more private setting than a party. When his energy permits, of course."

Autumn couldn't help but notice, and tried not be distracted by, the fact that the Messryn servants were staring intently at Felicity. One of the servants didn't even seem to be worried about concealing the fact that he was staring, while at least the others tried to maintain a certain level of surreptitiousness about the gesture. It was vaguely unsettling, although Autumn had to admit, she knew very little about the Messryn, other than the fact that they were a rather private people and apparently excellent climbers and acrobats.

******

On paper, the city was called Finslough, and maybe that's what it said on every billboard and official document, but to anyone who actually came to the city, it was called the "City of Spies". Nestled in the scrub brush wastes of the planet of Rejjan, the City of Spies was home to the headquarters of the Correspondence Guild, who claimed that information should be a free flowing and available to all.

Of course, that was their official stance. The truth was, and everyone knew it, they felt that information should be strictly regulated, and available to those who either paid the price, or who they felt were worthy of their assistance.

Finslough had come a home to those who dealt in information, and a haven for those seeking it. It was a seedy place, not because there weren't Guild enforcers around, but because as long as the dues were paid to the Guild, the enforcers would seldom hassle anyone. Every secret could be bought, sold, or kept, for the right price.

The Guild Trade Halls were odd places: one part official work space, one part lowlife cantina, one part neutral territory. They were designed specifically for people who wished to meet other people anonymously and discuss things that were not meant to be overheard. The entrance fed directly from several blind corners into a busy walkway, making it easy to slip in and out without being noticed, and once inside, the low lighting and myriad of opaque, sound proofed booths allowed customers to meet in the strictest of privacy.

It was here the two men met, behind the opaque wall of a booth, drinks in handle.

"I have a mission for your contacts in Caltan." The one man spoke. He was nondescript to the extreme, with bland features, medium brown hair, and blue eyes. He was the sort of man who could be anyone, blend in with almost any crowd and not stand out.

"Go on." The person across from the bland man, spoke, their voice mangled by the disguiser mask they wore, making it impossible to determine any features, or even gender. The person was cloaked in heavy garments, making it impossible to really even gauge the body type of the person.

Not that it mattered at all to man what the identity was of the person he was speaking with. He knew enough to know that this person was part of the Countermovement, and that was all he needed or wanted to know.

"Take this disk and upload it to the KSE server. Three days after that is done, there must be an attack staged against a House Ducant target. The attack must come from operatives based inside Kyne space, and that is a fact that must be apparent upon investigation."

The cloaked person took the disk and placed it inside a pocket. "Risky."

"Five hundred thousand. Royal Credits."

The figure reclined in the seat, as if taken aback by the number. It was high, but it was also in Royal Credits, which were the official exchange currency for all the Houses. Even though many of the Houses maintained their own currency, Royal Credits were accepted everywhere. It would make the rebel's job of spending those credits easier.

"It will take time."

"You have two weeks to plan and execute."

There was a growling noise behind the mask. "Very well."

The man smiled. "Three hundred thousand will be waiting at the usual drop point. The remainder will be there after completion."

"Very well."

The two did not shake hands. They simply left and quickly disassociated.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:03 pm

Something was happening, something Darien couldn't explain and those were the phenomenon he hated the most. As he looked around the room he could tell the Messryn were staring at Felicity. One of them was even staring openly while the others were at least trying to hide it. That bothered him because it meant something and he didn't know what.

Felicity, for her part, was trying not to be self conscious. She could feel the eyes of the Messryn standing next to her staring at her. She kept her gaze averted and preferred to not make eye contact but it still made her uncomfortable. She cast a quick glance at Autumn whose attention was fixed on Darien. Whether or not she noticed what was happening was difficult to say.

"Of course, Princess, I'll be glad to convey your message to him," Darien said at last as he stood. Autumn stood as well and the two bowed to each other. "I'll have my servants show you to your rooms now," he said then he turned to Felicity who was just getting to her feet and nodded his head towards her.

Felicity did the same but there was something in his eyes. He wasn't just looking at her he was examining her, searching for--something. When he couldn't find it he turned and left the room. Shortly after a human servant came in and beckoned for the two girls to follow her. Felicity looked to Autumn for any kind of answer but she had none to give. Instead Autumn wordlessly crossed the room and followed the servant out into the hallway. Felicity could only do the same but she still had an unsettling feeling in her gut.

Darien meanwhile had taken a turbolift down into the lower levels of the castle. There he met his Chamberlain in a medical ward deep beneath the surface. Caleb was checking in on Lord Rennifred Rosario and clearly frowning his disapproval. "The drug is not having the desired effect, my Lord," he informed Darien the moment the other man entered the room, "Your father is no longer raving like a lunatic but he's barely responsive. He seems to be able to follow simple commands and has spoken few words but I doubt he can hold an intricate conversation with the Lady Kyne."

Darien frowned. That complicated things. I shouldn't have left my spy on Oridin, clearly that was a failure. "Fine, we'll separate him from the guests at the ball tonight. As long as he is seen it doesn't matter. He'll pass from his 'illness' before he is to speak with Autumn and news of our weakness will spread, stirring the people into a frenzy. Once the rioting begins we'll lockdown the palace and inform Lord Kyne that we have a situation."

"Very well, my Lord," Caleb replied then he turned to leave the room to attend to his other duties. He was halfway to the door when Darien stopped him.

"Caleb," he said, "what do you know about the Messryn?"

Caleb stopped and turned back to look at his lord. He considered the question a moment then shrugged. "They're an ancient race of people who populated this sector long before we did, my Lord. Why do you ask?"

Darien turned to face his Chamberlain. "There's more to it than that, though, isn't there," he asked.

"Well," Caleb began, uncertain of where this was going, "there is still a lot that we don't know about them, my Lord, but it's been hypothesized from our limited interactions that the Messryn possess a genetic memory which they then pass down to their descendants."

Darien reached up with one hand to rub his chin as he considered that. That might explain why his servants were staring at Felicity. They were remembering something, but what? "What about their social structure? Any leaders or lords?"

Caleb thought about that, wracking his brain for what little knowledge he read on the subject. "No leaders to speak of, my Lord. Before our arrival in this sector they had a very clear social structure but that has since been disrupted once the Messryn had been displaced. In the wars that followed many of their leaders were executed. Although," he stopped as a thought occurred to him and he wondered if this had anything to do with that girl Autumn brought with her.

"Although what," Darien asked him irritably.

"There was one House, my Lord, that gave the Messryn shelter and provided them a home, House Sage. While the Messryn were being rounded up and interned in other parts of the Sector the Lord of House Sage promised amnesty to any and all Messryn within their borders. I imagine quite a few of them feel a debt of gratitude to the Lord and his family, but I fail to see how any of this is relevant. House Sage was completely wiped out nearly a thousand years ago."

"But the heir was never found," Darien pointed out. Now maybe that's changed, he thought tying the strings together. That would certainly explain why Lord Kyne would shelter a naive little girl. If she truly was heir to House Sage that could earn him considerable support in the noble court or make an enemy of all the other Houses. Either way, this information needed to be kept secret for now until there was a more appropriate time to use it.

**********

In the hallway outside Felicity had caught glimpses of that young man she saw from before. He seemed to be following them but he was keeping his distance for now. As they walked they passed by more Messryn servants who seemed to be eyeing Felicity. The young girl stepped closer to Autumn and tried not to pay it any heed, but something was happening and it made her nervous. After a short walk to the guest chambers the two were shown to their suite. The room consisted of two bedrooms linked together by a single common room, all of which was lavishly decorated. The lancers were then shown to their own rooms and for the moment Autumn and Felicity were left alone.

"What's going on," Felicity exploded all of a sudden, "I can't be the only one who noticed that."

Why did everyone here seem so interested in her? Most of the other servants paid her no mind, but the Messryn and that man... She was starting to get chills just from thinking about it.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Fri Sep 09, 2016 5:24 pm

Autumn glanced around her room with the demeanor of idle curiosity. It would not have surprised her in the least if these rooms were all monitored. She would have to be careful not to say anything too sensitive.

"Yes. I do not know much about the Messryn people, but there is something odd here." She frowned, turning her attention back to Felicity. "I cannot put my finger on it, but there is something amiss. Stay close to me during this trip, so I can keep you safe until we can figure out what it is that is happening here." She wasn't much concerned if Darien or whoever was listening knew she was on her guard. Let them take pains to make her feel comfortable, if they were so inclined. "We will just have to keep our wits about us and be cautious."

****

A short distance down the hallway, Ossica stood, absently washing the the floors with a soft mop. The floor was adequately clean, had been for a while, but still he worked away, his eyes fixed on the door he had seen the two guests go. Two women from House Kyne, word was, and the rumors amongst the Messryn staff didn't end there.

She was The Descendant, the prophesied one that the Messryn people had been waiting for since House Sage had fallen. The one who would either unite the Messryn under one banner again and end their lowly state, or crush them and make their name forgotten. Or so the prophecy went.

Born in nothingness and in lowliness I rise,
Kindling fire to touch the skies.

On the even of destruction you hear my name,
I will find my voice when the city is put to flame.

For the Messryn people, there are two paths:
Accept my command or endure my burning wrath.


The stanzas from the old prophesies had been playing in Ossica's head, a mantra that had been passed down for generations. The Messryn had a strong oral tradition as well as something a bit more intangible.

The Messryn had a way of passing down information from generation to generation through birth. Ossica had heard it called "genetic memory", but to the Messryn, it was the Awshava, the Guiding Ancestors. It was the spirits of their ancestors that provided the knowledge, when and where it was needed. Ossica had felt a tinge of the Awshava when he had seen the Guest at a distance, but he really needed to get closer, and get wind of her scent before he could really made a determination one way or another. The other members of the staff that had been close to her were almost entirely convinced, but Ossica would not be satisfied until he had the guest alone and could really commune with the Awshava. It was not a science or even an art how it worked, it simply sometimes happened, triggered by familiar stimulus, and sometimes would not.

Ossica switched out the head on his mop to a dry one to get the floor drier. Now he just had to figure out how he was going to get the House Kyne guest alone and away from her guards.

He exhaled a slow breath, one filled with nervous anticipation.

If she really is the Descendant... Then everything changes.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:14 am

The two girls were allowed some time alone, most of which was spent talking about their arrival. Ethan seemed to believe that House Rosario was unstable and judging from what they've seen on their way to the castle that would seem to be true. There was vandalism everywhere and guards in the streets. It seemed like the populace was on the verge of exploding. Autumn had explained that was due to some of Rennifred's less popular decisions but what she left out is that in more recent years Rennifred has been becoming increasingly aggressive.

Felicity half listened to her and half let her mind wander. She was still concerned about the reason why the Messryn were staring out. Not even Prince Darien seemed to understand it. He looked almost as surprised as she was... No, surprise wasn't the right word. Perturbed, maybe? There was something about that meeting that was unsettling to him, something he wasn't expecting. That led Felicity to believe that whatever it was had nothing to do with Prince Rosario or any plans he might have. There was some other element at play here she was not yet aware of. Whether it was dangerous, though, she couldn't say. The Messryn didn't seem to bear her any ill will. So what else could it be?

She wasn't left with much time to think about before a train of servants entered their room. "Forgive me, Princess," the lead woman said with a bow, "but Prince Rosario has requested we help you and your maid prepare for the feast tonight. If you'll please follow me."

Both girls stood to follow the servant into the next room, but the woman who had spoken stopped Felicity suddenly. "My assistant will help you in there," she said, pointing to the room opposite the one she intended to take Autumn.

Felicity looked at the other girl, a note of concern in her eyes. This could be a ploy to separate them and bring harm to Autumn, but then she supposed that might lead to war with House Kyne. Autumn didn't seem worried about anything so Felicity let her fears go and followed the servant's assistant into the other room. For the next hour the two girls were primmed and primped in preparation for the banquet and the ensuing ball. By the time it was all over Felicity could barely recognize herself. She had stared into the mirror for a full minute wondering how exactly that beautiful girl she saw staring back at her could actually be her.

Outside in the courtyard guests from all over were beginning to arrive. Unlike House Kyne's gathering, however, these guests consisted mostly of influential families within Rosario territory though there were a few nobles from other Houses as well. As each guest arrived in the banquet hall they were announced to the gathered throng. Felicity and Autumn now stood side by side as a steward called out their names.

"Princess Autumn Kyne, Daughter of Lord Benedict Kyne and heir to the House of Kyne and her guest, Miss Felicity Orssen," the man called out in a clear, crystal voice.

The two were directed to step forward then though Felicity had missed her queue. She was too busy staring at how big the room was and hadn't realized where she was until Autumn had tugged gently on her arm. As they entered the large banquet and ballroom Felicity couldn't help but feel a sense of awe at how big everything was. She couldn't imagine anything like this ever existing on Ord Mantell. Maybe on Coruscant or in the Hosnian System but never on a planet so far out on the Rim.

"This way, Miss Orssen," A servant had said, directing Felicity to a table nearest the back where most of the commoners were sitting. Autumn, however, was directed towards the front where minor nobles from House Rosario and those from other Houses were gathered.

Felicity cast a glance in Autumn's direction and the girl responded with an assuring squeeze on Felicity's arm. The other girl took that as a sign to not be overly paranoid and consented to be led to the furthest table. Autumn, meanwhile, was directed towards her seat as the next noble to arrive was being announced.

"Prince Gaius Ducant, son of Lord Declan Ducant and heir to the House of Ducant," the voice rang out above the crowd and all eyes had turned to the door. No one had expected to hear such an illustrious name, least of all Autumn. The young prince was taken directly to her table and when he saw her he smiled.

"Fancy meeting you here," he said, "I hope your father didn't send you on a similar errand."

**********

Elsewhere in the castle, on a balcony overlooking the ballroom Prince Rosario looked down upon his guests. "Report," he said to Caleb when he heard the man enter through a door behind him.

"Most of tonight's staff have been replaced as you've requested," he replied, "Some of whom were not happy about their last minute reassignments but they were given proper motivation in response. As for the Messryn they're being assigned duties in other parts of the castle away from the young Felicity."

"Good," Darien simply. He had heard reports from some of the kitchen staff that the Messryn servants who were working there were caught talking about the "Prophesied One." Darien had guessed they were talking about Felicity. Making the connection between her and the Messryn messiah wasn't too hard considering their behavior earlier. Normally, he would have just beaten them until all talk had ceased but if these--creatures truly believed this girl was their messiah then there was no telling what they might do.

Darien's frown deepened even more. He had purposefully urged his own people towards open rebellion in an attempt to fool House Kyne into an alliance. He was not worried about this tactic because Castle Rosario was the most defensible structure on the planet and his soldiers could easily handle a few riots. Now it seemed he may be facing revolution from within and that complicated the situation in a way in which he was not comfortable. He had considered simply executing them all but that would leave House Rosario understaffed in terms of its servants. Plus a good servant was a terrible thing to waste.

"What of the girl," Darien asked after a moment had passed.

Caleb rubbed his chin as he responded. "From what we've been able to glean from the conversation they had in their room neither she nor Autumn appear to be aware of the implications of her heritage. It's possible that either House Kyne is not yet itself aware of it or that the truth was simply hidden from Autumn and her companion."

"And their purpose here?"

"To discover the true nature of House Rosario as you suspected," he said with a shrug, "While I can't say that with one hundred percent certainty it can be inferred from their discussion. Lady Kyne has chosen her words rather carefully. For a girl with a reputation of being somewhat daft she's proven herself quite astute."

Darien made a face at that remark. He didn't much care for Autumn or her father. The only thing he wanted from them was their military might. He was going to dupe House Kyne into a war with House Borrocor and rid the sector of their filth once and for all. "Have my father prepared to make an appearance over there," Darien said, pointing to a section of the balcony that hung above the room below like a raised stage. There was a table there to allow for the Lord of the House to sit apart from all of his guests and a podium from which to deliver a speech. On either side of the stage two curved flights of stairs gently wound down to the ballroom below but for the sake of Rennifred's 'health' those stairwells were cordoned off.

"As you wish, my Lord. Would you like him to say anything?"

Darien considered that a moment. "If he can greet the guests have him do it," he said then he turned and headed towards the stairs and down into the ballroom.

**********

Felicity sat amongst a group of strangers as they were served the first course of their meal. Servants dressed in red finery brought out sizable plates and set them down before each guest, serving the nobles first then the commoners. Felicity stared at her lidded plate in anticipation. She had not realized how hungry she was until she could smell the food coming towards her. As the servant lifted the lid and stepped away she stared at her plate in disbelief.

That's it, she thought, looking at the tiny arrangement of food on her plate. It was barely enough to feed a child let alone a room of fully grown adults.

"They do it on purpose," someone next to her said, "These sorts of meals usually come with six or seven courses so to make sure that the guests aren't full by the time the final course is served each individual course is limited to a small serving. Plus they neatly arrange the food on the plate to make it look better."

"Oh, I didn't know that," Felicity replied. The whole thing seemed unnecessarily complicated to her. Why not just serve the meal as one big course?

She started to reach for a fork when the man who had spoken before stopped her. "We start with the outer end of the arrangement first," he said, "You work your way from these ends here inward to the silverware nearest your plate."

"Thank you," Felicity said, a slight flush to her cheeks. She moved her hand towards the fork furthest from her plate and as she did so a strange thought occurred to her. All of the servants she had seen entering the ballroom so far were human. There was not a single Messryn servant in sight. Considering how proudly he had paraded the Messryn in front of her and Autumn earlier that was rather strange.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:50 am

Autumn wasn't thrilled with the idea of being separated from Felicity, although at least the other girl was still in eye shot. She could have made a scene about it and probably had Felicity moved, but decided against it. While the Prince might have had a plant at the table to try to work Felicity for information, all they were likely to discover was that she was uncomfortable and didn't know what she was doing. Regardless of how suspicious the Prince may or may not have found that, as long as Felicity didn't start talking about Ord Mantell or where ever, it was unlikely they would get anything useful from her.

It was a surprise to see Gaius at the party, albeit at least mostly pleasant. When Darien had said a banquet in her honor, she hadn't imagined there would be anyone outside of House Rosario here. She didn't know enough about relations between Ducant and Rosario to speculate on what his presence meant entirely.

She smiled at him as he took his seat. "I am simply here to pay my respects to the patron of House Rosario. And enjoy their hospitality, of course." This was certainly not the time or place to delve into deeper motivations. "The real question is, what bring you her, Sir Gaius?"

*****

Ossica as well as every Messryn who could get away from their duties without being noticed were all crammed into an under used utility storage room. They were shoulder to shoulder and Ossica had to stand on a small crate to be seen by the group. He was not the oldest there, nor the wisest, but they all trusted him. He had strong connections with other organizations, especially the Countermovement, which meant the other Messryn often looked to him for council or leadership, especially when it came to clandestine planning.

"Our observations were too indiscreet, and Rosario takes notice of them, no other explanation can be made." He spoke quietly in Rynntaka, the language of his people. They were actually forbidden to use the language in Castle Rosario, but in this room away from prying eyes and ears, this was a final assurance they would not be overheard. This was important enough to warrant the risk. "With so many pulled off of assigned duties, Rosario seeks to divide us from the Guest. It will take stealth to get close to her. She has been spoken of too much, and now that ends." Ossica cast his copper colored eyes around the room, his lithe frame twisting to encompass those who were standing behind him. "We will no more speak words of the prophecy, the Descendant, or even the Guest. Rosario must feel that our interest in her has tired."

One of the other servants spoke up, one who had been close to the Guest. "But she is the Descendant, is she not? I could feel the Awshava when she was close."

"I have not been able to judge that personally, but it matters not yet. Even by prophecy, we will not hear her name until the eve of destruction, and she will not begin to call to us until a city, the city, burns. Until these things happen, we only endanger ourselves trying to get close to her. Rosario is not our friend, and I do not feel they would hesitate to be rid of us if they perceived us any sort of trifle. We must make ourselves poised, ready to move, but at the same time be performing our assigned duties with such thoroughness that Rosario would not wish to be rid of us. We must be ready for anything."

Ossica reached back behind him, pulling up a box filled with small knives. Most of them were taken from the kitchen over a period of time, but others had been stolen from utility closets and the gardeners as well. "Everyone takes a blade and hides it on themself. if the time comes and we must fight, we must be ready. Spread these words to anyone who could not make it."

When the knives had been passed around, Ossica gave a nod, and the Messryn began filtering out of the room, returning to their duties. Ossica himself was the last out of the room, throwing the empty box into the corner and moving in the direction of the banquet hall. He would not be able to get all the way there, but he would stay as close as he could in case an opportunity presented itself.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:09 pm

Gaius frowned. Her response was rather guarded, which he had more or less expected. There were ears everywhere after all and a dreadful certainty that none of them could be trusted. That included Gaius himself. As much as he would have preferred to be more colloquial with Autumn and, he suspected, as she would prefer to be with him they were still noble born and surrounded by enemies and Gaius hated that. He hated that she couldn't just be honest with him or he with her.

"Couldn't really say for sure," he said finally, a note of frustration showing through, "My father wasn't very explicit when he ordered me on this trip. He had just traveled to House Borrocor to resolve that dispute I was--involved in."

He had considered saying that dispute he had caused but he didn't really feel responsible for causing it. If anyone was at fault it was Prince Yiande. "When he returned he ordered me to come here. I'm not really certain why."

It was a truthful answer, unlike the one he had gotten from her. If he had more to say he probably would have said it. Gaius cared little whether he was heard by others or not. He was just tired of playing this foolish game. He leaned over the table slightly and glanced at the other guests. Most of whom were members of influential families from within the borders of Rosario's territory. There were a couple of minor nobles from House Droma, however, and a few others from House Rosario. Gaius didn't know any of their names, though, certainly not anyone directly related to the royal family of either House or at the very least not anyone who wore their names. Gaius and Autumn were perhaps the two most influential guests at this banquet and that made him feel uncomfortable. He preferred being drowned out by bigger names than himself.

"Wonderful party," he muttered under his breath before he turned back to look at Autumn. When he saw her she was busy staring at something and that caused him to pause. He tried to follow her gaze but couldn't immediately see what she was looking at so he gave up.

After a moment of awkward silence the first course of the meal was finally served. Gaius stared at the minuscule serving on his plate and the perpetual frown he wore deepened even more. Clearly House Rosario were sticklers for formal dining, a practice which Gaius found exhausting. He was about to say as much to Autumn when he looked up and caught her staring again. Gaius followed her gaze once more, wondering just what it was that drew her attention. He saw a table full of commoners, faces he didn't recognize and... A girl, talking to the man sitting next to her. She must have been a commoner since she was sitting at that particular table but in that gown with her hair drawn up and the makeup she wore she looked as much noble born as any Lady or Princess he'd ever met.

As he watched her he grudgingly admitted he fancied her a bit, then a thought occurred to him. Did Autumn fancy her too? It wasn't that uncommon for young nobles to explore their sexuality with members of the same sex so it was certainly possible. "Pretty girl," he said finally, loud enough to draw Autumn's attention back to him, "The one you keep staring at. Do you know her?"

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:50 am

Autumn's attention returned to Gaius as she spoke, and she smiled faintly at him. It was easy to let her guard down around him, which was something she probably could not afford here. If it had been anyone else sitting at the table, she doubted she would have been caught staring in Felicity's direction.

"I apologize, I am not being very good company. Her name is Felicity Orrsen, my traveling companion. She is a House Kyne guest, but from a rather poor and rural part of Oridin, so she is very unused to these sorts of events, so I wanted to ensure she survived the banquet with minimal complications. You know how people can be about those who were different."

Autumn took a bit of her small appetizer. It was well prepared, but small, designed to drag a normal meal out into a very lengthy and ceremonial process, as was the normal for events like this.

"Did you arrive today, or have you been at Castle Rosario for some time?"

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:44 am

Orssen? As in Taylar Orssen? Could she be related, he asked himself. Coming from a poor and rural part of Oridin, though, made that seem unlikely. It was more likely she simply shared the same name but was not in fact related. Then again that didn't really explain how Autumn knew her or why she was a guest of House Kyne. There was something fishy about it but Gaius didn't care enough to pry.

"Little more than an hour ago, actually," Gaius said, "I requested to speak with Lord Rosario as soon as I arrived but was told he was 'indisposed' at the moment. The Chamberlain, Caleb I think his name was, mentioned the Lord would appear at the ball tonight and invited me to stay."

The young Prince preferred to avoid events like these. Such things were too stuffy and formal for his liking. Not to mention whenever he sat idle for long enough he began to feel a familiar twitch in his muscles as his body yearned for some movement. Unfortunately, practicing his swordplay was not an option at the moment so he would just have to settle with talking to Autumn.

The two silently finished the rest of their appetizer. That was one of the most annoying parts about these kind of dinners. Everything had a time limit, more or less. Food and drink were being taken away and brought out at set intervals like clockwork. Rosario's staff moved like a well oiled machine although there were a few kinks, almost as though there were a few last minute replacements before tonight's feast. Gaius didn't have much time to consider that though before the second course was brought out. This one was a soup with a bit of parsley sprinkled on top and was a slightly larger serving than the last. It was another dish that was meant to be light so as not to fill the stomach so the soup was mostly broth.

Gaius took his soup spoon and dipped it into his bowl before taking a sip. It was delicious if lacking in any real substance, but the food was being offered for free and was of the highest quality so he couldn't really complain. "How have things been on Oridin since the dinner party, if you don't mind my asking," he said after taking another sip of his soup.
Last edited by Pryde on Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:45 am

I am really starting to wish I had paid more attention to Rilan, Felicity grumbled to herself as she fumbled through her forks and spoons with no idea what to do. The gentleman next to her offered some assistance but Felicity was sure even he had to admit she was beyond hope. I didn't sign up for this. I so did not sign up for this.

She cast a helpless glance at Autumn across the room and saw her sitting with someone she didn't recognize. From the way he was dressed and the table he was sitting at he was definitely a noble and seeing the two of them together surprised her somewhat. They looked so incredible together with their perfect poise and Autumn holding her fork inverted between her fingers taking small, graceful bites. It looked agonizingly slow, but seeing it play out before her made her realize just how beautiful it was.

Grr, what am I thinking? I'm supposed to be keeping an eye out for anything dangerous. Her gaze shifted from Autumn to Prince Darien who sat nearby but was engaged with some nobles who had been introduced as being from some place called House Droma. He didn't seem to be watching either Autumn or herself and was instead engaged in a very animated conversation. He seemed to be simply enjoying himself. Maybe Autumn was right, maybe there was no danger.

"Is everything alright, Miss--," the man sitting next to her drew up short when he realized he didn't know her name.

"Oh, um--Orssen! Felicity Orssen," she said quickly and then held out her hand towards him, "I'm sorry, I totally forgot to introduce myself."

The other man stared at her outstretched hand a moment then eventually reached out and clasped it in his own. "Aleksander," he said, gently shaking her hand, "Aleksander Rosario. I'm the Prince's half brother."

"Rosario," Felicity asked in surprise, "but um, why are you over here?"

Aleksander smiled at that. "I heard we had a rather unusual guest and I wanted to meet her."

The implication went right over Felicity's head. "Really," she asked, then she started looking around at the other guests at the table, "Who?"

The older man chuckled lightly to himself. "You, my dear, I wanted to meet you."

Felicity's cheeks flushed immediately. She couldn't recall the last time someone wanted to meet her. "Oh, um... Well, uh--hi?"

"You are a strange one, indeed," he said, still smiling as he took a sip of his wine.

"So, um--," Felicity started, unsure of what to talk about, "If you're the Prince's half brother what does that make you?"

"Nothing, I'm afraid," Aleksander answered with a shrug, "You see, here in House Rosario it is believed that only those of pure blood are capable of ruling."

Felicity had no idea what that meant. "Pure blood?"

"Ah well, how can I put this delicately," he said, considering his words for a moment. "I was born from a union between my father and his concubine. Prince Rosario's parents, the Lord and Lady Rosario, were brother and sister. It has been tradition in House Rosario for siblings to marry and produce heirs for several hundred years now."

"They were, what," Felicity asked, her mouth agape. At that same moment her spoon slipped from her grasp and splashed into her soup, sending several droplets of it into the guest next to her on the opposite side from Rosario. "Oh, I am so sorry about that," she said, quickly grabbing a napkin and reaching over to help clean the soup off the man's tux. Her reach knocked over his wine glass, unfortunately, and made the situation even worse. Now he had wine all over his trousers which caused him to jolt out of his chair.

"Well, I never," he gasped, "Prince Rosario must have lost his mind to permit this cretin to dine with us!"

Felicity was mortified, not because of the accident so much as what he said. "I really am very sorry."

"You are a disaster, girl! Why I have half a mind to--," he tried to say but he was interrupted suddenly by Aleksander.

"Half a mind to what," he asked.

The other man balked almost instantly. "Sir Rosario, I--I did not see you sitting at our table," he said with a bow, ignoring for the moment the wine dripping off his pants, "I apologize, Sir, for my outburst. It was in poor taste."

Aleksander's expression softened somewhat but there was still a hardness to his eyes. "It's quite alright," he said, then he whistled for a couple of servants to come over, "Here, these gentlemen will take you to a room where you can clean yourself off."

"Thank you, Sir," the man bowed again then turned to follow the two servants out of the hall.

Aleksander turned back to look at Felicity. "Well, that was exciting," he said with a gentle smile, "Truth be told I'm not entirely sure I like that man."

Felicity was able to smile at that in spite of herself. His relaxed demeanor made it so much easier for her to feel comfortable. "Now," he continued, leaning in closer, "Tell me about yourself..."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:32 pm

Autumn and Gaius engaged in small talk as the meal progressed, course by course. The words were inconsequential, neither party seemingly satisfied by what was being said and what was being left unsaid. Autumn could never decide, but she was left with the distinct impression that Gaius was were bored with her, annoyed by her, or resented her for some unknown reason. The only moments that he ever seemed to really engage in the conversation in any meaningful way were those brief moments that they spoke of the past, of childhood, and of things innocent and disconnected to anything of their adult lives. Those were the moments when he would actually meet her eyes, and she could see the faint kindling of warmth in him.

But if the conversation moved on to anything even remotely related to current affairs or politics, that warmth would fade. He would not be rude, of course, but his demeanor would change to one of barely concealed disdain and disinterest.

Despite herself Autumn found herself a little bit surprised by this, and maybe even a little bit hurt. Surprised because most heirs were extremely interested in politics, as it would affect their lives quite heavily in the coming years, though Autumn herself balked at the impending responsibility. And hurt because... Well, Gaius was the closest thing she had to a friend on a peer level. No one else would ever understand her situation quite like he would, especially given that neither of them were thrilled by their status as heirs. They were more similar than they were different, and even though they were distant, Autumn still found that she yearned to be able to confide in him, to be able to consider him a friend.

Of course, that is simply not going to happen. She corrected herself with a mental rebuke. There was simply no chance that she would gain a confidant out of the heir to House Ducant, a House that her father did not entirely trust at the moment.

Their conversation lulled completely about the time desert was being served, Autumn having run out of conventional topics to bring up and Gaius apparently not interested in bridging the gap. For a moment, Autumn considered both letting the silence continue, to see how awkward it would get, or speaking of utter trivialities such as the meal, but she instead decided to veer off the beaten path of conversation. She might even glean some useful information along the way.

"Tell me, Gaius, do you have much interactions with the Messryn people in House Ducant? I saw some here tonight and I must confess I know so very little about them."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:38 pm

Gaius seemed surprised by her question, of all the things to ask him about that wouldn't have been his first guess. He finished up the last few bites of his desert and thought about that. "Hmm, well there isn't really much to tell. A lot of their history is intertwined with a long forgotten House and most of those records were stricken from any public databases. I suppose you could still find it if you really want to, but that would involve a trip to the Royal Records Consortium."

He picked up his glass and finished off the rest of his wine before setting it back down on the table. Then he grabbed his napkin and carefully dabbed it against his lips before placing it atop his plate. "We do have a few Messryn workers in our House. Indentured servants," he explained and his tone was pained, almost disgusted. Were it up to him he'd have set them free. "I talk to them on occasion and they seem to trust me. They told me of a legend they have, a prophecy really, about the return of a lost heir whom they think will unite their people. Silly superstitions if you ask me but they seem to believe it. Why? Why do you ask?"

Elsewhere in the ballroom guests were beginning to finish their meals and as they talked softly amongst themselves the band came into the room and began to set up. The guests relaxed into quiet conversation while the band ran a quick sound test. Once their instruments were tuned and music sheets turned to the right page the conductor lifted his baton and the band began to play. One by one the guests began to file out onto the dance floor, some of them in pairs others hoping to find a partner along the way.

Felicity still sat in her chair with Aleksander beside her. Somehow she had managed to get through the rest of her meal without anymore incidents. Aleksander Rosario was good company and the two talked a lot. Felicity felt oddly comfortable around him and as the conversation turned towards her childhood she found herself talking about things that had actually happened in her life that didn't quite fit into her supposed rural background. She was careful not to mention Ord Mantell at all, but Aleksander was able to piece together enough of her story to know that she wasn't for Oridin. He might even have had enough to safely say she wasn't even from this sector.

As soon as he heard the music start up Aleksander turned to look at the band. "I had not realized the time was passing by so quickly," he said, "It's rare for me to be so absorbed in a conversation that I lose track of time. You are a true delight, Ms. Orssen, and might I say very beautiful as well."

Felicity's cheeks flushed and she quickly looked away. She still wasn't used to being complimented on her looks. Before coming to this sector her appearance never really mattered to her much. After seeing herself in the mirror earlier, though, she was beginning to wonder if maybe it should. "Um, thank you," she said quietly.

"And modest too," he said with a smile. Then he stood and reached out his hand towards her. "Care to dance, Ms. Orssen?"

"Dance? Me?!" Felicity could feel her heart beginning to race a mile a minute. "No, I couldn't possibly."

Aleksander was not easily swayed, however. "Please, it would be a great pleasure," he persisted.

Felicity cast a glance back across the room at Autumn who was still engaged in conversation with Gaius. Then, reluctantly, she reached up and took Aleksander's hand. He helped her to her feet and gently led her out onto the dance floor. The dance started off slow and at first Felicity was unsure of herself. Aleksander did his part to lead her and after a few steps she began to realize this was a dance she had learned before. It was a waltz of some kind but that was a term she hadn't heard before. The hardest part about it was the constant motion and the intertwining steps as the two dancers spun in circles moving along a set path.

Each pair of dancers out on the dance floor moved together as they circled each other, stepping and sliding and twirling in step to the music. The combination of steps and slides caused the dancers to naturally rise and fall as they moved, like a soft breeze blowing over a gentle sea of color. Even the music seemed to match rising either in volume or pitch before falling again. After awhile Felicity was no longer having trouble keeping up and soon the steps came naturally to her. Without even realizing it she was starting to enjoy herself, which was dangerous considering her purpose here.

Eventually the music began to wind down and along with it the dance. Once the last notes had faded into the room's acoustics the dancers all stopped and applauded the band as well as each other. Felicity took a step away from Aleksander and as she did so she happened to catch sight of Autumn and Gaius watching her. Remembering why she was here she quickly bowed to Aleksander. "Um, thank you, Mr. Rosario, for the dance and the, um--conversation, but there's someone I must speak with."

Noble etiquette was still a struggle for her and she could never remember what to say or even how to bow. Aleksander just smiled at her then took her right hand in his. "Of course, Ms. Orssen. Your company tonight has been my pleasure," he said, raising her hand to his lips and then gently kissing it. Felicity's cheeks burned red again and she averted her gaze to try and hide it. "Until we meet again," Aleksander continued and the two parted ways just as the band began to play its next song.

Felicity crossed the room over to where Autumn was standing, consciously aware of the burning in her cheeks. She tried her best to ignore it as she closed the distance with Autumn but only barely succeeded. "Do me a favor, please," she said, once Autumn was within earshot, "Don't ever let them put me at a table by myself again. I thought I was going to faint!"

Gaius' eyes widened almost instantly, surprised that a commoner would be so bold as to speak so familiarly to a noble. He cast a quick glance over at Autumn half expecting her to reprimand the girl for her lack of decorum.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:41 am

"There are not many Messryn on Oridin." Autumn explained as they stood by, watching the first dance commence. It took her a second to find Felicity in the crowd, and her surprise was almost palpable when she realized that Felicity was not only dancing, but actually doing quite well. At worst, she looked like someone who was just a bit out of practice as opposed to someone who had no idea what was going on.

And I think that is one of the Prince's brothers... which I doubt is good news.

"I saw a few Messryn staff around here earlier this evening, but they reacted very oddly to us. I should say, they reacted to Felicity, and I have not seen them since. I just wondered at what could cause such a reaction."

Felicity made her way through the crowd, her face burning red almost to a noticeable degree beneath her make up. Autumn smiled as she closed the distance, a gesture that held warmth, but also a little concern.

"You did well, Felicity. You did not get yourself excommunicated or removed from the banquet, and you and your partner looked quite graceful upon the dance floor. I trust he was a perfect gentleman and did not bore you with too many questions?"

Before she could reply, Autumn remembered Gaius standing next to her, and the introductions that were in order. "Ah, forgive me. Sir Gaius Ducant, may I present Miss Felicity Orssen, honored guest of House Kyne. Sir Gaius is the heir to House Ducant." Autumn added the last as a subtle reminder to Felicity to show proper respects.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:37 am

"Oh, um hi," Felicity said, turning towards Gaius with an outstretched hand. Autumn saw the gesture and quickly stamped down on Felicity's foot all while trying to maintain a smile like nothing was happening. Felicity, meanwhile, finally understood what Autumn had meant and gave the Prince a quick curtsy. "I--I mean pleasure to meet you," she corrected herself.

When it came to fighting Felicity's mind was as sharp as a razors edge, but here at a ball? Felicity spent most of her life in isolation. She wasn't exactly alone but then Grell really never spent much time talking to her or teaching her social queues. Tonight's ball was probably the hardest thing she'd ever had to do in her life and she went toe to toe with the First Order. No wait, I think that other thing was harder.

Gaius just stared at the two of them, astounded by their behavior. Not only did Autumn not reprimand Felicity for her behavior but she also addressed the girl by her first name at a formal ball. He was so stunned by the display playing out in front of him that for a moment he'd lost his voice. "O--of course," he stammered with a slight bow of his head.

Felicity straightened up then turned to Autumn. "I don't know what you mean by excommunicated but I did spill wine on someone's pants," she said with a note of embarrassment in her voice. Then she remembered something. "Oh, Autumn, that guy I was with! He's the Prince's brother," she said, keeping her voice low so only the three of them could hear. "Or half-brother, I mean. Anyway, I think I might have told him a little too much."

She saw the look in Autumn's eyes then quickly elaborated. "Nothing about you or our mission here, just about me," then she thought about it and quickly added, "but I didn't tell him where I'm from."

"Felicity," Autumn whispered sharply casting an uncertain glance at Gaius.

Felicity's eyes widened when she looked at Gaius and she realized again she let something slip. "Sorry, sorry," she apologized under her breath. "I'm not very good at this whole secrecy thing."

Gaius for his part was not really paying attention to what they were saying so much as how it was being said. There was an implication in there somewhere that Felicity might not be from Oridin, but that wasn't really that important to him. Instead he was more focused on the way she acted towards Autumn and the way Autumn acted towards her. It was like they were friends almost and Gaius envied her that to the point one might even call jealousy. He had no one like that back home. He often talked to the servants whenever he needed companionship but not a one of them would dare speak to him so informally so it felt like there was always this divide between them. He didn't get that feeling from Felicity and Autumn and he wanted to be part of that.

"Autumn, I'm sorry," he said, addressing her by her first name rather than Lady Kyne or Princess or any other myriad names or titles he was supposed to use instead. There was genuine regret in his eyes, the first real emotion he's shown all night. "For my behavior, I mean," he continued, "I was rather cold to you all night, but I had not realized."

He cast a quick side glance at Felicity. "Forgive me, it seems you and I have more in common than I thought."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:38 pm

Felicity was very quickly going to become the worst kept secret of House Kyne, Autumn decided. While her father would probably not be thrilled by the direction this was headed, she had a feeling that he would find a way to twist this into some sort of advantage. She could never quite decide whether she admired or hated him for his ability to take any event and skew it to meet his political needs.

Gaius's apology caught Autumn flat footed. While she certainly had found him to be a bit distant through their conversations, she could have easily chalked that up to his displeasure at being away from home, or his disdain of the party, she certainly had not expected a complete reversal and an apology. She blinked a few times in surprise while her mind worked through the best thing to say in response.

"I-" She paused a moment, then gave him a slight nod, pulling from the memory of an allegory once explained to her by a mentor. "You and I wear many masks to a great many masquerades. We do not often have the luxury of letting others see what is underneath. There is nothing to forgive if you do not like a particular mask, because it is not me, it is merely what people must see of me in that moment."

There was the briefest of hesitations before she continued, opening herself up just a little. "Perhaps if you and I had the luxury of spending time away from others, we would know more of what lies beneath the masks." It was part hypothetical, part invitational, part explanation.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:50 am

Gaius listened to Autumn speak wondering if maybe one of his mentors had said something similar. When she was done he smiled at her. "Perhaps tonight we'll have that opportunity," he said and then he realized what that sounded like. "No wait, I didn't mean that! I meant--oh lord I sound like my brother," he chided himself.

Felicity stared at the two of them in complete confusion. All that talk of wearing many masks went completely over her head and she was left wondering what exactly they were talking about. After Gaius' flustered response there appeared to be a break in the conversation and Felicity took the opportunity to bring them all back to the present. "So, when's this Lord Rosario guy going to show up, anyway," she asked.

Gaius thought about that then shrugged. "I'm not really sure. Sir Schaffre only told me that he would appear tonight though he failed to mention when." Now that the conversation was back on Felicity Gaius felt compelled to ask her a question. "Tell me--Felicity," he said, trying out the name in the face of all propriety, "How long have you been dancing?"

"Two days," she told him then she corrected herself, "Well, that's not exactly true. I had one lesson a week ago and tonight was my second time dancing with a partner."

Two days, Gaius' face blanched, as did Autumn's. She learned all of that in one lesson? He tried to convince himself she was lying but the look in her eyes and the tone of her voice betrayed any illusion of that. She was telling the truth and he believed she was telling the truth. "It took me weeks to learn that dance and several months to master it," he said under his breath but only Autumn seemed to hear it.

Just then a fanfare sounded as the band finished its second song. Bugles filled the ballroom and as the sound of the trumpets died down the band began to play a march. Up above them on the second floor the wide double doors open and Prince Rosario appeared leading his father to the podium located on the balcony overlooking the ballroom. All eyes turned upward as Lord Rosario approached. He seemed like a withered old man, leaning heavily on his son and saying back and forth as he walked. He was talking quietly under his breath but only Prince Rosario was close enough to hear.

Once they were close enough to the podium Darien addressed the gathered assembly in a booming voice that filled the entire space. "Honored guests! My father wishes to thank you all for coming tonight."

He stopped speaking a moment and leaned down to listen to his father some more. Then he turned back to look at his guests. "And to Lady Kyne and Prince Ducant he wishes to extend his deepest thanks for gracing our humble home with your presence. Now, my father will be--,"

An explosion from outside shook the entire castle and in an instant all the lights went out and cast the ballroom into darkness. A few seconds later the castle's emergency power kicked in and bathed the room in a red glow. Up on the balcony the explosion seemed to knock something loose within Lord Rosario and he stared down at the large group of people assembled before him.

"What are all these people doing in my house," he demanded and almost as if on queue another explosion rocked the castle causing the chandeliers overhead to rattle. Lord Rennifred's expression changed to one of primal rage. "My enemies have come to slay me," he screeched, "Guards! Guards! Shoot them all! Shoot them all now!"

The castle guards around the ballroom looked at each other with uncertainty. Some of them started to reach for their weapons while others were unsure what to do. "Belay that command," Darien shouted over the panic, "I need three men up here to restrain my father! You," he said, pointing towards his guard captain, "find out what's going on outside!"

Then he turned and stood behind the podium. "Do not panic," he shouted to his guests, "We are safe here behind these walls--," the sounds of a scuffle and Lord Rosario's panicked cries continued to interrupt him.

"Get your hands off me," Lord Rennifred shouted above all the noise in the room. "I will not let you take me! I will not!"

He wrestled against his three guardsmen with surprising strength. Somehow he managed to pull two of them off balance and break himself free of the third. Then he ran towards the edge of the balcony and scrambled over the rail, leaping out into the air over the ballroom floor and to what he thought must have been freedom. When he hit the ground his head was busted wide open leaving a red smear on the floor.

The gathered guests gasped and turned away. So too did Gaius and when he shifted his gaze his eyes fell on Felicity who was still staring at Lord Rosario's body. She hadn't even looked away and what's more she didn't even appear to be the least bit phased by it. He knew he had only just met her and knew very little about her and while there might have been some question as to where she came from one thing was certain. She was no simple farm girl.

Felicity turned and scanned the crowd. Somewhere towards the back she found a familiar face, the man who had been following her. He had a panicked look on his face now and looked like he was trying to flee. Could he have somehow been responsible? She turned to look at Gaius. "Gaius, I need you to stay here and keep Autumn safe," she told him but Gaius only half registered her words. He was still shocked by what had happened. It was the first time he'd seen someone die.

"Focus," she shouted at him, grabbing him by his collar and jolting him back to the present. "Stay by her side and don't let her out of your sight!"

"What are you going to do," he asked her but Felicity had already hurried off through the crowd in the direction of her suspect. She paused only momentarily to grab a knife off a nearby table then continued pursuit.

Meanwhile up on the balcony Prince Darien was seething. His perfectly orchestrated plan was falling apart right before his eyes. His father was supposed to die of 'natural causes' instead the entire gathering got a taste of his insanity. On top of that the rioting outside had started earlier than he anticipated and already the damage to the city's infrastructure was overwhelming.

"Send the military and whatever available resources we have here at the castle out into the city to quell the riots," he said to his guard captain who had returned with his report.

"Sir, you want to send out the palace guard," the captain asked, his voice steeped in skepticism.

Darien's rage was almost palpable. "They are no use to me behind a wall," he hissed at the man, then he half turned to the three men standing behind him. "And someone execute these men," he shouted.

The three hapless guards started to beg for their lives but a nearby squad of guardsmen moved in to arrest and silence them. They knew better than to discharge their weapons in here so instead they would take them out somewhere quiet to dispose of them.

"What of the guests," Caleb asked from a short distance away, his head nodding towards the ballroom.

Darien frowned. His plan may have been falling apart but that didn't mean it couldn't still work in his favor. "Lock down the palace. Establish communications and get me a line to House Kyne. We proceed with the plan."

Then in a louder voice he spoke to the assembly. "Honored guests! A riot has broken out in the city and there has been significant damage to the city's power grid. Worry not, though, as Castle Rosario has its own power generator and is well defended. My army is moving into the city to control the riots and once order has been restored you'll be allowed to leave. Some of you will be permitted to return to your rooms. Others, unfortunately, must stay here. This is the largest room we have to accommodate a gathering of this size, but fear not. There are still many refreshments to be had and my servants will see to your every need."

Then he stepped down from the podium and turned towards Caleb. "Have someone scrape my father off the floor and clean the mess he made. At the very least we can try to calm the situation in here."

Outside in the hallway beyond the ballroom Felicity was hot on the heels of the man she'd been chasing. She had lost sight of him momentarily on her way out of the ballroom but the sound of his footsteps echoing in the hallway made it easy for her to track him. He was quick but Felicity was fast and agile and she had something he did not, the Force. She quickly closed the distance with him then threw her knife at him to slow him down.

The blade cut through the skin on his upper right arm causing his body to twist involuntarily which threw him off balance and made him tumble. Felicity was on top of him in an instant, using the Force to summon the knife back to her hand. Then she pressed the blade up against the man's throat.

"Who are you," she demanded of him, "What are you doing here?"

The man tried to fight against her grasp at first but when he felt the edge of her blade bite into his skin he stopped. "My Lady, please! I am not your enemy!"

"Then who are you?"

"A servant," he cried, "Your servant. My loyalty belongs to you and your family as it has always been."

Felicity was confused and for a moment she considered letting up, but common sense overruled her as this could have been a trick. She did loosen her grip on the knife, though. "What you talking about?"

"I recognized you the moment I saw you," he said, his voice sounding calmer now, less strained, "You look so much like your great grandmother. I know this because her visage hangs in the halls of Sage Manor."

"Sage Manor? You mean," realization was beginning to dawn on her. This man's reaction to seeing her, the stares she had gotten from the Messryn. Could Sage be her real name?

"You are the last surviving heir, returned to us from beyond the sector. You are the Lady of House Sage and a noble."

The reality of it slowly began to sink in and she moved away from him until her back pressed against the wall. "That's impossible," she said, "I'm just a girl."

"A girl who can summon objects to her hand, apparently," the man replied after standing up and dusting himself off. "Your great grandfather had the same ability, as did his father and his uncle. For his protection he was sent away into the wider galaxy where his uncle could not reach him, but it was always the intention that some day he would return home."

Yeah, a thousand years too late, she thought to herself, remembering what little she was told about the fall of House Sage. She scrambled to her feet and turned to look at the man. "You still haven't answered my question. Who are you?" Her grip tightened on the knife but she made no move to attack him.

"Galen Connor," he said with a bow, "As for what I'm doing here that's simple. I'm spying."

"Spying on what? For whom," she asked.

Galen's expression hardened. "I'm sorry, my Lady, but as much as I would like to answer all your questions right now we really must keep moving. The longer we tarry here the more peril you are in."

"I don't understand. What peril are you talking about?"

"Prince Rosario," he explained, "He is not the man he appears to be. Now I intend to make contact with my people outside of these walls but help will not come for you for some time. I must keep you safe until then, come with me."

"No," she said firmly, "I have to go back for Autumn. I made a promise to keep her safe."

Galen's expression darkened at the mention of Autumn Kyne. "My Lady, she--," he started by Felicity silenced him with a sharp hush.

She flipped the knife around in her hand into a reverse grip and edged closer to the corner. Footsteps were approaching and as they neared Galen backed away out of sight. Felicity waited a heartbeat or two more before reaching out and grabbing the person before they even managed to turn the corner. She had him pressed up against the wall, her knife pressed firmly against his throat before she realized it was one of the Messryn. One she hadn't seen before.

"Ossica," Galen said in alarm, stepping back out into the open. "Release him, my Lady, he is one of the Messryn. He and his kind owe your family a great debt."

Felicity let go of the Messryn then backed up a couple of steps, her hands falling to her sides. At the same time she let the knife slip from her grasp and clatter against the floor. All of this 'my Lady' stuff and spies and servants and whatever else was all starting to be too overwhelming.

"Would someone please tell me what the hell is going on," she asked in an exasperated tone.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:27 pm

Things had changed, and quickly. One moment, Autumn had been partaking in light conversation and banter, the next moment it sounded as though a war was going on outside, the main power was dead, and an old man had just plummeted to his death in front of her. Her brain was still trying to catch up on everything that had just happened.

Felicity said something to Gaius, and sprinted off inexplicably. Autumn knew that Felicity had spoke words in Basic, but despite that, her mind just couldn't quite comprehend what she had said and why. For all her quick wit and intelligence, this was one setting Autumn found herself quite ill prepared for.

Fortunately, this was the exact thing her guards trained for.

"My lady, it is not safe for you here. Let us return to quarters until we have established a route to evacuation." The Lancers appeared out of no where, seldom far away from their charge. They began hustling her away intent of getting her back to quarters despite what any Rosario guards might have to say about the topic. Autumn managed to bring herself to point at Gaius before they were separated. "Wait. What about Gaius?"

The Lancers did not look wild about the idea of slowing their progress or even taking along someone else, but finally Titus turned to address the other noble. "Sir Gaius, do you wish to take refuge with us until order is restored?"

**********

Ossica knelt down, plucking the fallen knife off the ground and offering back to the girl, staying down on one knee.

"You are indeed the promised Descendant." It only took one sniff for him to be confident of that, feeling the burning in his mind of the certainty of it. "Friend Galen, we can assist in getting the Descendant safely away from the Castle. There are tunnels that the Messryn have which should be able to get her clear of the walls." Ossica turned his attention back to the human, bowing his head in reverence. "Your coming has been foretold, and though you may yet understand all of what it means, you are the Great Hope of my people. We are ready to hear your voice and heed your call. For now, all you must do is say that you wish us to protect you, and we will get you to safety."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:28 pm

Gaius cast a glance over his shoulder up at Darien who seemed quite upset about something just before he spun around and walked out of sight. Then he looked back at the lancer, remembering Felicity's words before she ran off after someone. Part of her felt honor bound to follow Felicity and make sure she was alright, but another part felt confident the girl could handle herself.

"Y-yes, I think I should," he said, "My honor guard will accompany me, but if you prefer they will stand guard outside. I trust that both Autumn and I will be in capable hands."

He half turned and waved at two men standing on a far wall. They were already halfway to him as soon as the explosions started so it didn't take long for them to close the distance. Unlike Autumn Gaius had only brought two guards with him to the palace, though he did have an entire squad of elite commandos standing by at the starport just in case. If need be he would call them for an evac but hopefully that won't be necessary.

"Lead the way," he continued, turning back to Titus.

**********

Felicity looked down at the knife that was being offered to her but she did not immediately take it. All she could do was stare, she couldn't look either of the two men in the eye because she believed she wasn't the girl they wanted her to be. She already had too much on her shoulders as it was what with Renn Corso charging her with the task of rebuilding the Jedi. Now she was supposed to be the savior of an entire species as well as the ruling leader of an entire nation? It was too much, there was no way she could be all of those things at once.

"This is crazy," she said in disbelief, "I can't be this person you think I am, this has to be a mistake."

"My Lady, if I may--," Galen began but Felicity interrupted him.

"No, shut up. I can't focus on this right now," she told him then she said, "What did you mean when you said Prince Darien isn't the man I think he is?"

Galen considered that a moment. An explanation might take too long and they were seriously pressed for time. "It might be better if I showed you," he said finally, "Come, there's a turbo lift nearby that will take us to the lower levels."

He moved off down the hallway first, stopping only momentarily to check down a side passage. Surprisingly there were very few guards around inside the palace but neither Galen nor Felicity stopped to waste time thinking about that. Instead Felicity glanced down at Ossica who was still kneeling with the knife resting in his outstretched hand.

"Please stop doing that," she begged him, "and keep the knife. I don't actually need it."

Then she hurried off down the hallway after Galen. She didn't stop to look and see if Ossica was following them or not. If he was great, if he wasn't, well--like she said she just couldn't focus on that right now. There was danger in front of her and that was a lot more important than debating whether she was a noble or not. She didn't know what Galen had wanted to show her in the basement but whatever it was she had a feeling that it wasn't good...

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:50 am

Titus and the other Lancers formed a spearhead and pushed through the crowds of the ballroom to the exits where several of the castle guards were stationed.

"I am sorry, but no one is to leave the ballroom without orders from Darien Rosario." The guard spoke, his eyes shifting from person to person and back to the crowd rapid.

Titus stepped forward, his hand dropping the ceremonial blade at his waist. "You have problems enough outside your walls. Do you really want to start a fight with an invited and honored guest inside your walls as well?"

The guard considered that momentarily, then stepped aside. It was probably a wise decision, especially since the crowd was panicky enough, and if fighting broke out here, it may well turn into another riot.

The Lancers took the point, allowing the House Ducant escorts to take rear guard and they moved quickly with their charges through the halls of the castle until they made it back to their quarters. It wasn't the perfect position, but it was fairly defensible if it came to that and it was familiar, which was good enough for now.

"Where is Felicity?" Autumn looked around nervously as they entered the quarters, half expecting to find her there waiting. No one had an answer for her. "Find her! You cannot leave her out there alone."

"My Lady, despite the turmoil in the street, we have no reason to think that Castle Rosario is unsafe at the moment." Titus offered, but saw just as quickly that this was an answer that failed to satisfy. Titus donned his full face helmet, looking to the other Lancers. "Stay here and protect Lady Kyne. I will go find Ms. Orssen."

Autumn turned to Gaius, who was looking perturbed. "What do we do?"

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:45 am

Gaius was silent for a moment. He was so preoccupied with his thoughts that he didn't even register Autumn's voice in his head. Not until she spoke again. "Gaius," she said, a bit louder, "What do we do?"

He looked around the room at each of the lancers. His own guards were standing outside the door. If House Kyne wanted to turn hostile now there was nothing he could do and even if that weren't the case they were outnumbered by House Kyne's elite. His father would not like those odds.

"We wait," he said finally. "Castle Rosario is a fortress. There's no way an army of civilians are going to breach its walls."

That seemed to make her feel better but Gaius still didn't like their odds. With the city rioting their path to the starport was completely blocked off. It was possible he could get a message to his team back at the ship, but approaching Castle Rosario right now was just asking to get shot down by the guns. He'd be killing his own men. Then there was Autumn to think about and her friend. Her friend that he wasn't entirely sure that he should trust.

"Autumn," he said in a low tone, "how much do you know about Felicity?"

He saw the alarmed look in her eyes so he tried to explain. "I saw her in the ballroom after Lord Rosario fell. Everyone around us looked away except for her. She wasn't even phased by it, it was like she'd seen it all before. Are you sure you can really trust her?"

**********

Back in the ballroom Prince Rosario had just received seem alarming news. His men had just returned and informed him that communications are out all across the city. That made Rosario furious and he immediately pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed one of them in the eye. As his lifeless body fell he shouted at the others.

"I will not accept failure! I can't extort House Kyne if I can't talk to them! Now somebody get me communications!"

Caleb stepped up behind the Prince knowing the next few words out of his mouth could be his last but he said them anyway. "My Lord," he began in a quiet tone, "we have a breach inside the castle. Someone is accessing the lower levels."

Everything was going wrong. His father's public display of insanity, the riots starting earlier than he'd expected, the communications blackout, the damage to the power grid and now there was a mole inside the palace. "You three come with me," he said, gesturing to three of his elite guard. Then he and his entourage left the room, heading towards the lower levels...

**********

The turbo lift doors opened and immediately a rank odor filtered in and offended Felicity's nose. She covered the lower half of her face and spoke through her hand. "What is that smell? Where are we?"

"You could call it a dungeon, I suppose," Galen said, "This is where Prince Rosario sends those who disappoint him. Every now and again one of us is sent down here to look after the prisoners as a reminder of what will happen should this news get out and the Prince's image is soiled."

The three companions exited the turbo lift and began walking down the hallway into a large spacious room. Felicity looked around at all the cells and the bodies and winced. "How does he keep a place like this secret?"

"With threats, mostly," Galen replied, "He keeps his servants locked up inside the castle like prisoners, though it's worse for the Messryn. The human servants at least have beds to sleep on and a room. The Messryn sleep on straw mats and are herded into a storage closet like cattle."

Felicity cast a glance back over her shoulder at Ossica, whom the smell seemed to be affecting the most, and immediately felt sympathetic towards him. Galen led them all to a cell on the far side of the room and gestured for Felicity to come forward. Inside the cell was a familiar figure.

"Kyle," she said in alarm. Kyle Rosario was the Prince's cousin, he was the one who struck Lyra. Right now he was hanging from chains, his body black with bruises and mutilated in places. Felicity turned away from him, unable to look anymore. "What did he do to him?"

"Kyle is the reason negotiations failed at House Kyne. That is why he tried to lure Autumn into a trap. He was going to use the riots outside as a means of imprisoning her here at the castle and forcing her father into an agreement."

"He orchestrated the riots? How do you know this?"

Galen smiled. "Contrary to outward appearance I really am a very good spy."

Felicity looked to Ossica who was glancing around the room with what could have been a pained expression on his face. Though whether that was from the stench or the loss of all these people that was difficult to say. "I need to find Autumn. She's--," she started to say then an explosion rocked the castle above them and sent dust and rocks cascading down on top of them.

"That explosion wasn't in the city, it was here," Galen said and then the three of them raced to the console at the center of the room.

Galen pressed a few keys and the screen on the console began displaying security feeds from outside in the courtyard. The three of them could see several gunships appearing from literally out of nowhere and firing rockets down into the castle walls. "Who are they," Felicity asked.

Galen grimaced, "They're my people, but that can't be. My last communication was to inform them of the growing unrest. I haven't been able to tell them about you yet."

His expression darkened as he tried to think it through but Felicity was too impatient to wait for him to figure it out. "What are you trying to say," she asked, "Who are your people?"

"Technically, they're your people," he explained, "House Sage didn't die completely after the purge. There were no surviving Sages to speak of but a distant relative of the family stepped forward and kept us all banded together. Since then his descendants have served as Steward of House Sage in the hopes that one day you would return, but I fear the one who leads us now has greater ambitions. If he's attacking us he means to take advantage of the chaos and eliminate House Rosario as an enemy. That power outage earlier was probably because of him."

Felicity felt a cold chill growing in the pit of her stomach. "We need to get back to Autumn."

"To what end, my Lady? There's no escape from this castle or even this planet. Assuming she makes it outside the walls the citizenry will tear her apart and if she stays here Charles Marik will kill her alongside Prince Rosario."

"What? Why?! Why would he do that," Felicity asked in shock.

Galen sighed, "House Kyne participated in the war against House Sage. They were part of the alliance that formed to fight against your great uncle. They did not take part in the purge that came after but neither did they lift a finger to prevent it. Lord Marik will exact his revenge on them the same as any other."

"All the more reason for us to find her then. Come on," She half turned to walk back to the exit. That's when she saw Prince Rosario and his three guards approaching them.

"My, my, aren't you a resourceful little rat," Darien said and as he approached Felicity could see a malice in his eyes. "I see you've found my sanctuary, do you like what I've done with the place?"

Another explosion rocked the castle staggering each of them and causing one of the guards to fall. Felicity somehow managed to retain her balance and she turned to confront Prince Rosario. "It's over, Darien! Your castle is under siege, your city is burning! This is all your doing but you don't have to condemn the rest of us!"

"It is not over," he roared, "I can still get what I want! I will see Archlord Farrid's head on a pike! Right next to yours, kill them!"

The three guards behind him raised their weapons and opened fire as Felicity and her companions dove for cover. Blaster bolts struck the console Felicity hid behind and shorted it out. A wave of sparks washed over her and she quickly raised her arms to cover her face. Then she felt a warm sensation and glanced down at her feet and saw her gown had caught fire. She quickly patted it out with her hands then turned to look at Ossica and Galen who were now several feet away. None of them had any weapons and as the blasterfire continued Felicity leaned her head back against the console and groaned. Maybe I should have taken that knife...

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:19 am

The question made Autumn rather defensive. Of course she could trust Felicity. Autumn knew that because...

Well, it was a little harder to explain that just a simple answer. She was convinced that Felicity was trustworthy, but articulating that gut feeling into something intellectual was much more difficult.

"I have not known her long, but I can and do trust her." Autumn replied quietly. For a moment she considered just leaving it at that, but finally added, "you have spoken with her and seen her interact with others. Either she is such a master manipulator that she knows how to fake being a poor liar, or she is the galaxy's worst card player. I have yet to see her use an effective deception on anyone."

******
In an open environment, Ossica's agility and climbing skills would have given him enough confidence to rush the guards, armed only with his knife. But in a choke hold like the doorway they were in, such a rush would be suicidal. Regardless of that fact, Ossica was still considering how best to accomplish that task. His life was forfeit if it meant the survival of the Descendant.

She must not fall before the prophecy has its time.

He took his knife, tucking it against his forearm, and looked to Galen. "Make sure she gets out of here safe, no matter what happens. My people are counting on her." He spoke loudly over the screams of blaster fire. He did not wait for a response, but simply dashed towards his foes, jumping off of the walls and consoles and dodging from side to side nimbly, looking more like a seasoned acrobat than a household servant.

Darien Rosario's personal guards were no slouches at marksmanship, though they might not have trained much at firing had such a briskly moving target. The guard in front managed to clip the Messryn in a glancing body shot, but that was all he managed before Ossica had closed the distance, his blade flaying into the man's neck and severing arteries.

The other two would have easily cut Ossica down were it not at that moment that there was a small explosion directly in the midst of them, and a cloud of noxious smoke suddenly filled the hallway, reducing everyone to wracking coughs. Ossica tried to push into the cloud to get at the next guard, but the gas slowed him down to staggering steps as he coughed until finally he dropped to his knees, struggling to find breath.

There was a sound of commotion within the cloud, and even as the gas began to dissipate, the sounds of first one, than another, body dropping to the ground.

As the final bits of the cloud dissipated, the three guards were dead, the other two having been killed with very precise blade strikes. Prince Darien was nowhere to be seen, having made good on his escape in the commotion. Instead, standing in the hallway was a man clad in a close fitting black suit wearing a respirator mask and carrying a dripping blade in his hand. The blade was ornate, almost ceremonial looking, embellished with a pommel depicting a spider set with gemstones colored after House Itthi.

"My apologies for revealing myself in such a manner." The man spoke into the sudden calm that had sprung up in the wake of combat. "I had not intended to cross paths with any of you, but I could not allow a friend of my people to be killed in such an ignoble fashion. Do not be alarmed by the gas. It is an irritant but leads to no permanent harm."

He stepped over to where Ossica was on the ground and helped the Messryn to his feet.

"My thanks to you, Blade Bearer. I did not expect to see one of your kind here today." Ossica spoke between coughs, trying to rid himself of the last of the smoke.

"I had not intended that anyone should see me, but circumstances changed." The Itthi assassin looked past Ossica to Felicity, staring hard for a moment. Ossica whispered something to the Itthi, whose eyes widened ever so slightly at the words he heard. "That will be of great importance to Lord Itthi. Now I must be moving. My business is with one held in the dungeon, and I should very much like to be out of this distasteful castle before its foundations are completely shook loose by this turmoil."

He gave Felicity a solemn bow. "My Lady." Next he turned to Ossica, who got a little nod of the head. "My friend."

Without further words, the Itthi strode silently down into the dungeon.

Ossica turned to Galen and Felicity, his hand wrapped around his abdomen where he had been shot. "We must get out of here, before the Prince sends more of his guards."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Fri Sep 16, 2016 7:56 am

Well, that's true. The girl was a terrible liar. From their short interaction together even that much was clear. "Still, without knowing much of where she's been, what she's seen," he started and when he saw the growing displeasure in her eyes he quickly changed his tune, "but she does seem rather trustworthy."

An explosion rocked the castle again and this time it felt like it was much closer. The rioting outside has moved to the castle. Are they seriously planning to storm the castle? He could feel a cold chill growing in the pit of his stomach. As far as he knew there was only one way out of this place and it was right through a mob of angry people. Looking around the room he could see there was no other way out they were trapped.

We're going to die here. He could feel panic rising inside of him and fought hard not to lose control. His plan to wait no longer seemed viable as another explosion rocked the castle. He looked at the three remaining lancers and wondered how long they could hold out in this tiny room.

**********

The situation looked bleak. The blasterfire continued to hound their position and the three companions had little choice but to keep their heads down. Felicity had an idea to reach out and grab one of their guns with the help of the Force but before she could find an opening to do so Ossica shouted something to Galen.

"Make sure she gets out of here safe, no matter what happens. My people are counting on her," he said and Felicity's eyes widened as realization dawned on her of what he was about to do.

"No, don't," she screamed at him, but it was too late.

The Messryn had already leapt from cover and was moving with such agility that it was difficult to keep track of him. For a moment it looked like he might actually succeed but then one of the guards managed to land a shot on him. Felicity's eyes widened as he took the hit and she quickly through herself from cover and charged at Darien and his men. She made it about halfway there before the room suddenly exploded in smoke.

Felicity doubled over from coughing as the smoke hit her lungs. Somewhere in the distance she could hear the sound of a body falling, followed by another. No, Ossica! She tried to scramble to her feet and keep moving with little success. The gas was just too effective at keeping her rooted. After a moment when the smoke had finally cleared Ossica was still alive but there was a new figure standing next to him. A man dressed all in black carrying an ornate sword.

He never introduced himself but spoke briefly with Ossica and the others. Felicity was relieved that he had managed to save them before Ossica was killed, but it was difficult for her to decide if he could be trusted. Not many people who dress all in black and strike from the shadows ever were. As she thought about it the image of Kylo Ren came unbidden to her mind and she couldn't help but note the similarities.

After he had gone Ossica turned to address them, his hand wrapped around the wound in his abdomen. "We must get out of here, before the Prince sends more of his guards."

Felicity ignored that for now and rushed over towards the nearest fallen guard. She rummaged through his various pouches and pockets before finding what she was looking for, a small satchel with emergency provisions. One thing she had learned while fighting stormtroopers was that soldiers usually came prepared for anything. She tore the satchel open and pulled out a bacta patch before lifting Ossica's shirt and applying it to his wound. He bowed his head towards her to say thanks and that's when she slugged him.

Ossica staggered from the blow. It wasn't hard, but enough to show that she was upset. "Don't ever sacrifice yourself for me," she said in a desperate tone and when Ossica looked back at her he could see the anguish in her eyes. "I'm not any more important than you or anyone, I'm just me! So don't sacrifice yourself for me--please! I'm not worth it!"

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:08 am

"My Lady, we must start making an exfiltration plan." Titus spoke as an uneasy silence fell over them. "I fear House Rosario may not be able to gain control of this situation fast enough to provide protection, and House Kyne reinforcements are at least one day's travel."

Autumn nodded shakily. She had read stories in history about uprisings and revolutions, but never thought herself to be a witness to one. "What do we do, Sergeant?"

"It is unlikely that you are an intended target of the rebels. That being said, mobs often get out of control, even of the people who riled them up. It would be best to conceal your noble status, until we can get clear of the castle. My recommendation is that we get to the communications room of this castle, and call for help. After that, we do whatever we can to appear as servants or slaves, and try to slip out through the crowd. I do not expect anyone will know you well enough to recognize you on sight, so there is a good chance we can escape into the city through the chaos."

Autumn looked to Gaius. "What do you think?"

************

Ossica had been taking hits his whole life, from combat, from petty street fights, and from unsatisfied nobles. The strike from the Descendant was nothing he couldn't take, so he did take it, bowing his head lightly before looking back up to her.

"Maybe that is what you think. Maybe you will change your mind. Maybe you will not. None of it matters, because I will lay down my life for you a hundred times over, no matter the number of times you strike me. I am sorry that it distresses you, truly I am, but no matter how little you value your own life, I, and my people, value it above all others. Now we must keep moving. There will be time for me to convince you of my point after we have fled danger."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:13 am

Felicity's desperation grew in intensity. Ossica just wasn't listening to her. It didn't matter how much she valued her own life he should value his more. "No, you don't understand. I--," she started but Galen interrupted her with a hand on her bare shoulder.

"My Lady, it's alright. It's their way. They've been waiting for you for a thousand years."

"I don't care how long they've waited," Felicity said, turning on him, "I just want everyone to stop dying for me!"

Galen raised an eyebrow at that. She said she wanted everyone to stop, that meant Ossica wasn't the first. He withdrew his hand and then bowed his head to her. "I am sorry for your loss, my Lady, truly I am, but Ossica is right. We are hardly safe here so we must keep moving."

He bent down and grabbed one of the blaster rifles and handed it to Ossica before retrieving the last two for himself and for Felicity. He straightened up and tried to hand one of the rifles to her but she waved it off.

"No, I don't want that," she said. She still sounded upset, but she didn't look like she was going to press the issue of Ossica any further.

"Very well," he said, slinging the second rifle over his shoulder before shouldering the first. "Come on."

Galen led the trio back to the turbolift and frowned when he saw the elevator was in use. "We're too late," he said, "They're coming for us."

He reached down into his pockets and pulled out a small holoprojector and turned it on. A map of the castle appeared above his hand and he looked at it for a second then shouldered his rifle with one hand and waved to the others. "This way," he said, directing them behind the turbolift and down an adjoining hallway.

They traveled several meters before turning another corner and then finally coming to a flight of stairs leading up. Galen went first, followed by Felicity then Ossica. They were about halfway up the first flight of stairs when they heard shouts and footfalls running towards them. A large group of them this time. Prince Darien was no longer pulling any punches.

"Run," Galen shouted and the three flew up the stairs as fast as they could.

Meanwhile, somewhere above them Prince Darien was not pleased. First the little Sage rat discovered his secret and now an assassin from House Itthi. It seemed there was no end to the intruders inside his castle, but he would kill them all. He would kill them then take Autumn as his hostage and force her father to go to war with him against House Borrocor. He would see them all unseated with their heads on pikes.

"My Lord, the intruders are moving to the upper floors," his guard captain informed him.

"Who do we have in position to intercept," Darien asked.

The guard looked again at the screen in front of him and frowned. "No one, my Lord. Our men are spread too thin and with half of the palace guard in the city--," he stopped suddenly when he noticed the growing look of outrage on the Prince's face.

"Are you saying this was my fault?"

The captain's face blanched. "No, my Lord, of course not. I shall redirect someone to intercept the intruders but they will not arrive in time to cut them off."

"Then don't bother," Darien replied, relaxing his expression a bit. "Send a squad to retrieve Princess Autumn. Kill anyone else in her company but bring her to me alive."

"As you wish, my Lord," he said and then he began issuing his orders over coms.

Back at Autumn's quarters Sergeant Titus was beginning to formulate a plan for exfiltration. Autumn listened to the plan then turned to Gaius who was nervously staring at the door expecting it to burst open any moment and spill forth an angry mob of commoners.

"What do you think," she asked him and he finally looked at her.

"Um, yeah that sounds like a--," he stopped suddenly at the sound of blasterfire in the hallway beyond their room. It couldn't have been the rebels, though. There was no way they could breach the outer wall and infiltrate so deeply into the castle in so short a time. There wasn't much time to think about it, however, as shortly after the shooting began they could hear the sound of a body dropping followed by a second only a few moments later.

Titus immediately ordered Gaius and Autumn into an adjoining room and they were quickly herded there by one of the lancers as the other three took up positions around the room, their rifles pointed at the door. As the fourth lancer found a place to take cover in Gaius quietly cracked open the door so he could see what was going on. There was a long moment where nothing happened, almost as though time had stood still. Then all at once all hell broke loose as the door suddenly exploded inward and soldiers began pouring in. Blasterfire erupted all around the room from the four lancers cutting down the first few enemy soldiers in the front row and the others that followed were more careful about how they entered the room.

After a moment Gaius closed the door then turned to Autumn. "It's House Rosario," he told her, "Why are they attacking us?"

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Fri Sep 16, 2016 7:38 pm

Autumn just shook her head, not even having an answer. It was a nightmare.

It was lunacy. Autumn could not imagine that Prince Darien... Lord Rosiario now, would actually order someone to kill her or Gaius, or either of their entourages. Such an act would be an unprovoked act of war, and would hardly garner any sympathy from other Houses.

He must just mean to kill us and cover it up with the riots, but even if he convinces people that our deaths were accidental, I doubt that will be enough to absolve him of responsibility..

The shooting reached a lull in the other room and there was the sound of crashing furniture as the Lancers used the moment to fortify their position as best they could.

Titus entered into the room that Gaius and Autumn were sheltering in.

"It's not good, milady. I think they did not expect so much opposition, so we may have surprised them a bit, but once they get some heavier weapons or more manpower, we're done for. I don't think we have time to try to get to the command center. We have to get you out of here, now." He took an extra blaster off of his shoulder, throwing it at Gaius. "I hear you're pretty good in a duel, sir, I hope you're just as good with a blaster. We'll try to find some different clothes to change in to on the way, but this could be our only chance to get out of here, before they have reinforcements."

******

Ossica took the lead. While both him and Galen had been in the castle for quite some time, Ossica and the other Messryn had devoted quite a bit of time to learning the secrets of the castle and every cubby hole in it.

As soon as they were clear of the stairwell, Ossica began leading them towards the servant's quarters. It did not take long before he found other Messryn and they began spreading word: the Descendant needed help. The Messryn began filling in behind them as they passed, forming a barrier between the Descendant and any pursuers. They would slow down anyone following, through distractions, obstacles, or ambushes as necessary.

Ossica moved as quickly as he could, glancing behind him frequently to ensure no one was falling behind. It was obvious that the Descendant was having difficulty keeping pace, so he guided them to a side room, one of the Messryn quarters. It was far enough off the beaten path and there were enough Messryn between them and any opposition that it should be as safe as any place to rest for a few minutes.

"Come, Descendant. Rest yourself for a short while." Ossica told the girl as they entered the room.

The room was not large, it had probably been some sort of storage room once, yet despite this there were six bed rolls laid directly on the floor. Between the bedding and personal affects of the people who lived there, it was difficult to find any floor space on which to walk. There were two Messryn females sitting on their bedrolls who watched warily as Ossica led in the two humans.

"Are you injured?" Ossica closed the door once they were inside, firmly guiding her to sit on one of the thin sleeping pads on the ground while he assessed her.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:58 pm

None of this made any sense. What did Lord Rosario hope to gain by killing them? Even if he somehow covered it up by blaming it on the riots there was really nothing to gain from their deaths. No, he must have wanted them for something, or at least one of them. Gaius glanced at Autumn even as she was busy working it out for herself. If Prince Darien had wanted him then he'd have picked a poor bargaining chip. Gaius' father had another son and a daughter that could succeed him should Gaius be unable to. That left Autumn, she was Lord Benedict's only child and the only viable heir for House Kyne. That made her a powerful bargaining chip.

That must be what he wants. He wants Autumn, he thought to himself. He thought about telling her but then decided against it. If she hadn't worked it out for herself then there was no reason to worry her further. A moment later the shooting in the other room had stopped and as they listened Titus opened the door to their room and addressed them both. He handed Gaius a blaster and the Prince reluctantly took it. He'd fired blasters before, of course, and he was a pretty good shot but he'd never actually killed anyone before. All the duels he'd been in were for sport, none of them were ever to the death.

"I--I think I can handle it," he said.

"Alright, you two are on me. The others will take point," Titus told them, "We move on my mark, understood?"

They both nodded and he led them out into the other room. The other lancers had already checked the hallway and informed Titus that the coast was clear. Montez and the other two lancers led the way down the hall as the group looked for a place to take shelter and work out some disguises.

Elsewhere Felicity was relieved to finally be off her feet. After helping her to an empty bedroll Ossica knelt down beside her. "Are you injured," he asked as he looked her over.

Felicity shook her head. "No, it's these shoes. My legs feel like jelly," she said in a quiet voice as she worked the straps on her heels and pulled them off her feet.

Galen sat nearby and he had his holomap out and sitting on the floor next to him as he played around with a device he picked up off of one of the fallen guards. He had connected it to his holoprojector and after downloading some information the map began to display red blips everywhere. "There," he said, sitting back on his haunches, "this should help us avoid patrols for awhile and if we monitor the movement of Rosario's men we can figure out where Autumn and her entourage are heading."

He leaned back and rested his weight on his hands as he looked at Felicity. She looked uncomfortable in that fancy gown of hers and he imagined that if she were forced to fight then movement would be a problem. "Ossica," he said, directing the Messryn closer to him. Galen whispered something quietly to him and Ossica nodded. Then Messryn then stood and walked over to the two females huddled in the corner.

After he had gone Galen looked back at Felicity. "Do you want to talk about it," he asked and she looked at him, eyes wide. She knew what he meant, but talking about it meant dredging up painful memories. Finally, she looked away and her shoulders slumped.

"It was before I left Ord Mantell," she said, "My friends and I were attacked by someone who called himself a Knight of Ren. He was like me, he could um--do things with his mind, but he was more powerful than me and I could barely hold him back."

Ossica returned with a bundle of clothes for her. "Here, Descendant, these should fit you."

Felicity thanked him and accepted the clothes from him. Then she stood and turned her back to them. Galen came over and unzipped her dress for her and after doing so he stepped away then he and Ossica respectfully turned around so she could change. "Anyway," she continued, letting the dress fall to her ankles before pulling on the shirt and pants Ossica had given her, "we were separated, my mentor and I. The Knight had cornered us and I tried to fight him off but he destroyed my lightsaber and was about to kill me. Renn, my mentor, he um... He threw himself in front of me and told me to run. I wasn't strong enough to save him so I did. I ran and when I looked back Renn was...," she nearly choked on the words but forced herself to continue anyway.

"He's dead now because of me and I have to live with that. Then Ossica...," she couldn't bring herself to say the words. The thought of someone else sacrificing himself for her was too painful. "It almost happened again. If that man hadn't appeared...," she left the rest hanging in the air as she cinched her pants tight around her waist then she turned to face Ossica. As he looked at her he could see the grief behind her eyes, the sense of responsibility she felt for her mentor's death. "If you want to help me," she told him, "then live. Because I can't go on knowing that I'm only here because someone else isn't."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:57 am

Ossica managed a smile, revealing a row of rather sharp looking teeth. "The Descendant will be pleased to know that I have no desire to end my life." He looked as though he had more to add to that, but refrained, instead glancing over at the two females who were watching the interactions almost reverently, looking mostly at the Descendant. He could hear them murmuring about her, awe filled comments of wonder and fear.

If the Descendant finds comments of respect and loyalty discomforting, I should imagine she will not find the comments of fear and prophecies of violence to be any better.

He looked over Felicty's garb. She was dressed in some Messryn clothes, which tended to be a bit more slender and lithe then human, meaning the clothes fit fairly tightly on her. Still, they did the trick, making her less conspicuous and certainly less constrained. Ossica knelt down next to her, helping her wrap her feet in the traditional leather foot wraps of his people. While difficult to put on, they were durable, fairly comfortable, and made walking silently an easy task.

"Friend Galen, I know of a spot in the castle wall we should be able to get through. Once we are in the city, I only hope that some of your allies will be able to assist us in getting hidden deeper in the city."

Galen just nodded, making his way towards the door to check the hallway. "It looks clear. We should go now."

"What about them," Felicity asked, gesturing to the two Messryn females, "We can't just leave them here."

"We have no choice," Galen told her, "The rioters in the city are angry with the nobility and Lord Marik has no quarrel with the Messryn. They are far safer here than they are with us. If Rosario's men see them with you then they will shoot them on sight."

Felicity glanced back at the two women. Galen had a point but she still felt uncomfortable just leaving them here. She walked over to Galen and took the spare rifle he carried from his shoulder. Then she turned and headed over to where the two women sat. She knelt down next to them and held the rifle out so they could see it.

"The safety is here," she explained, showing them with her finger, "When you're ready to shoot flip this switch to 'off' then press the rifle against your shoulder, aim and squeeze the trigger, like this."

She showed them exactly how to do it before handing them the rifle. "Stay here and stay safe. I promise you when this is over I'll come back for you."

Then she stood and walked over to where Galen and Ossica were standing near the door. "Okay, I'm ready."

"Follow me." Ossica stepped outside, and got a nod from a Messryn who was standing at an intersection of hallways. Without further comment, he began to lead them towards the perimeter of the castle. He was not too worried about the interior, but he definitely had concerns about what they would find when it was time to pass through the vacant grounds between the castle and the wall...

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:50 am

As they moved through the castle interior Galen kept an eye on his holomap, directing them around patrols and hopefully to where he thought Autumn might be. He didn't share the same need that Felicity had to find the lost Princess, but his Lady desired Autumn's safety and that was enough for him.

"Turn here," he said, pointing at the next intersection, "We should be getting close."

He realized soon after that he had seriously underestimated that when they turned the corner and nearly ran right into Autumn's group. The lancers had their weapons raised and ready to fire but when they saw Felicity they stopped. Somewhere in the back Autumn's expression changed to one of relief the moment she saw her ward.

"Felicity," she cried.

"Autumn," Felicity responded, rushing over towards her friend but pulling up short when she saw what Autumn was wearing. Instead of a fancy gown she was dressed in civilian clothes. As were all the others. "What's this," she asked but no one gave her an answer.

Instead Titus moved his blaster to cover Felicity's three companions. "Who are these three?"

Ossica opened his mouth to speak but Felicity cut him off. "They're friends," she told him, "They've been helping me."

Galen scrutinized Autumn's appearance and gave her a look of displeasure. "A clever idea," he said, "but it's not enough."

"What do you mean? What are you talking about?"

Galen let out a long exasperated sigh then turned to look at Felicity. "My Lady, are you sure you want to help her escape this place?"

"My Lady," Gaius asked but Felicity ignored him.

"Of course I'm sure," she said, "I promised Ethan I would bring her back safely."

Galen gave her a long look before stepping over towards Autumn. He withdrew a knife from his pocket which alarmed everyone, but before anyone could do anything about it he had a handful of Autumn's hair and began running his knife through it, shearing it off at about shoulder length. "I apologize, my Lady," he said, "but I don't believe in taking chances and the one you need to fool is not the angry mob of citizens outside."

When he was finished cutting her hair he tossed the remnants into the vase of a nearby potted plant then pulled a small aerosol can from his pocket. He began spraying Autumn's hair, running his hand through it to ensure the lower layers were covered as well and as he did so Autumn's hair changed from a dark black color to a lighter blonde one. As Felicity watched it suddenly dawned on her that Galen's hair wasn't actually blonde.

Once he was done he placed the aerosol can back in his pocket then pulled out a bottle of cleaning solution, removing his contacts with the other hand as he did so revealing dark brown eyes. He let a couple of drops fall into each lens before putting the bottle back into his pocket then he gently grabbed Autumn by the shoulder.

"Hold still," he said, placing a lens in each of Autumn's eyes, changing the color of her irises to green. Then he stepped back and analyzed his work.

"There, that disguise won't fool her father or anyone who actually knows her but it will create enough doubt that anyone unfamiliar with her won't recognize her."

Gaius stepped forward then and stood next to Montez and the others. "What did you mean when you said the mob isn't the one she needs to fool?"

"There's a third party here," Galen explained, "They're the ones attacking the castle. The one who leads them, Charles Marik, is a man who harbors an ill will towards certain nobles. My Lady will be safe amongst them, but I cannot say the same for the rest of you. It's probably best if we--,"

"Get down," Titus shouted, interrupting Galen as he jumped on top of Autumn to protect her.

Everyone in the group scrambled as a rocket propelled grenade flew between them and exploded against the wall. The force of the blast caused the ceiling to collapse and a wall of debris fell in, separating the group. On one side was Gaius and three of the lancers. They each had their blasters up and were returning fire as a squad of Rosario's men appeared. Titus, Autumn, Felicity, Galen and Ossica were on the other side of the wall and as Felicity was getting to her feet she saw the remains of the other Messryn that had followed them buried beneath the wall.

"Look out," someone cried and Felicity suddenly became aware of a presence somewhere behind her.

Without even really thinking about what to do she simply reacted. She turned to her right and caught the man's rifle with one hand twisting it and wrenching his finger so he couldn't pull the trigger before spinning back to her left and elbowing him in the side of the head. Then she spun to her right again, grabbing hold of the man's wrist and throwing him over her body and into the wall. The gun he held she pulled free of his grasp and wielding it like a club she turned and struck the next guard in the abdomen, doubling him over. Her next swing struck him in the side of his head, sending him sprawling to the left and onto the floor in a heap.

A third guard appeared behind Autumn and raised his gun to fire, but before he could squeeze the trigger Felicity turned and threw her rifle at him causing him to stagger. Then she ran straight at him, jumping up onto the wall and rebounding straight at the guard. She landed with her thighs firmly on either side of his neck, then she fell backwards and using her weight she pulled him off balance. The guard staggered forward then flipped over onto his back with Felicity on top of him. She put him out with a solid punch to his left temple then she stood and faced the others.

"We need to move now," Galen told them. He cast a quick glance down at the three fallen guards and noted that none of the moves Felicity used were kill shots. That made him frown, she's as gentle with her enemies as she is with her friends.

Felicity turned back to look at the fallen debris. There was still blasterfire from the other side of that wall but it was difficult to tell if Gaius and the others were okay. "What about the others," she asked.

"There's no time," he told her, "There's only one way out for us now and it's through Rosario's audience chamber. This way," he said, pointing back the way Autumn and her companions had come.

The shooting stopped on the other side of the wall as the last body fell and Montez's voice came through. "We're fine over here! Get the Princess to safety!"

Felicity still felt reluctant but Titus and Galen began herding them back down the way they came. Meanwhile, on Gaius' side of the wall, another figure appeared from down the hallway, hands raised in sign of surrender. It was Aleksander Rosario and he turned to address Gaius and his group. "Prince Ducant! This way, please! There's a panic room beneath the castle, I can bring you to it!"

One of the lancers raised a rifle but Montez stopped him. "How do we know we can trust you?"

"My brother's enemies are not my enemies," he called back, "Prince Darien, like his father, was struck with madness! He would often times act irrationally if he could not get his way, but I assure you I do not share his convictions! I only wish to survive this night and if I'm lying then I give you permission to shoot me!"

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:47 pm

It was a blur. Even after the fact, Autumn could not piece together everything that had happened or the order that it had happened in. The only thing she could remember clearly was the fear she felt when the knife touched her hair.

Perhaps it was shallow, perhaps not, but even the idea of being caught and killed by rioters did not frighten her as much as the prospect of having her hair cut. While the man did his work, roughly hewing her hair into a new shape, she could not shake the utter sense of defilement that went with it. Still, she bore it silently, not even sure what words she would use to protest, even as a few quiet tears trickled down her face.

"It's necessary, milady. We need to keep you safe above all else." Titus murmured what encouragement he could, seeing her unhappiness. He thought about mentioning that compared to the torture and execution that would likely take place if a bunch of anarchists caught her, getting her hair cut was pretty benign, but he refrained.

Sometime after that, Autumn remembered an explosion, and fighting. Titus, or maybe one of the other Lancers, had bodily thrown her to the ground, shielding her with their body. And then she had this one crystal clear image of Felicity, a look of grim determination painted on her face, wrenching the gun out of a soldier's hand with an impossibly quick movement.

It was like a frozen moment of time, one in which Autumn, for the first time asked herself with real conviction who is this woman?

There was still debris falling from the ceiling and the whole area looking highly unstable. Autumn didn't speak, didn't think, she just went where she was told.


Montez looked to Gaius, then to Aleksander. She had no business with either of them, really. Gaius seemed to fall loosely in to the "friend" category for Autumn, so might take a little priority because of that, but she knew nothing about the other man besides his name.

She addressed Gaius. "Sir, it is imperative that we rejoin our group, as the Lady Autumn is our mission. If you wish to stay with this man, that choice is yours to make. He seems to know his way around here, and sheltering in place until Rosario troops can be summoned from whatever local garrisons are around may not be a bad decision."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:17 pm

Prince Gaius looked between Montez and Aleksander, unsure of which one he should trust. No, that wasn't entirely correct. He could trust the lancers to look out for Autumn first and him probably never. He knew little of Aleksander, but he believed him when he said he just wanted to survive.

"If I may," Aleksander said as he came closer to the group, "I feel I should inform you that there is another enemy force here. My brother's guard is engaged in battle with a well trained and well armed commando unit, though I couldn't tell you which House they're from. What I can tell you is this, the ones I saw in the ballroom were rounding up all the nobles from House Rosario and the two dregs from House Droma. I don't think it would be wise for the young Prince to be caught out in the open should you encounter these enemies. I can lead him to the panic room where we can take shelter. I'd advise you to come with but I understand if you feel the need to find your ward."

He half turned and pointed down a hallway. "This passage here will connect back to the other side of the collapse. You'll have to backtrack quite a ways but its the fastest route. As for your friends if they're looking for a way out they'll have to pass through my brother's audience chamber. If I were you I'd hurry, I recently saw my brother and several of his men heading in that direction now."

Montez nodded then looked at Gaius. He was still not clear what he should do but the mention of a second force abducting nobles was motivation enough. "I will go with Aleksander," he said, "Find Autumn, make sure she gets out of here safely."

**********

Felicity and Galen walked side by side in silence quite a ways before Galen finally opened his mouth to speak. "It was unwise of you to leave those men alive," he said, "They would not have shown you the same courtesy."

Felicity said nothing but averted her eyes. She wasn't sure why she didn't kill them, it wasn't like she hadn't killed before. In the fight against the First Order it was necessary for survival but here... Maybe she was just tired of the killing. The group turned the corner down a long hallway that ended in an ornate double door. Galen went on ahead to scout for enemies while Felicity led the rest of the group from behind.

After he had gone on ahead Titus came up behind Felicity and in a low tone he asked, "Can we trust him?"

Felicity wasn't sure of that herself, but the man certainly had ample opportunities to kill her before. "He says he's my servant," she said and left it at that. She didn't feel the need to fill everyone in on the possibility that she might be the heir to a long forgotten noble House. Truth be told she didn't want to believe it herself. She had started her adventure with a desire to help people and then somehow ended up on a path that led towards her becoming more than just a girl. She still wasn't quite sure how she felt about that.

"The audience chamber appears to be clear," Galen informed them as they came up from behind. He had one of the two double doors cracked open and was peering inside. Once he was certain there was no one there he opened the door wider and allowed everyone through.

The room was spacious and lavishly directed with banners and buttresses proudly displaying the Rosario logo, an image of two roses with crossed stems and a sword piercing downward between them depicted atop a shield like background. Two rows of pillars ran down the length of the room towards a raised platform where petitioners would stand while addressing the Lord. The Lord himself would sit on raised balcony set high on the wall opposite the side they entered. The path from the doorway stretched to the raised dais and split into a T junction with either path leading to a door in each of the side walls flanking the balcony.

Galen led the group between the pillars, his blaster swinging back and forth to cover every angle as they approached the raised platform. They were about halfway across the room when a canister hit the ground in front of them.

"Cover your eyes," Galen shouted, but it was too late.

The flashbang went off and blinded the group as Rosario guards filed into the room and surrounded them. A moment later Prince Darien appeared on the balcony above the room and surveyed the group. "Miss Orssen," he called out to her, giving ample time for the flashbang's effects to start wearing off, "Or do you prefer Lady Sage? Yes, I know who you are. It's preposterous to think that such a small creature could have interfered so thoroughly with my plans, but yet here we are!"

Felicity looked up at him, she could see him clearly despite the fact she was still seeing spots and she could hear him as well though her ears were still ringing. "What's he talking about," she said, "I've barely done anything."

Galen looked up at him too, he saw him a little better than she did as he had managed to cover his eyes before the flashbang had gone off. "Look at him," he said, "he's mad with rage and projecting it all onto you."

"I am going to kill you, Felicity Sage," Darien continued, "Slowly! But first I am taking Autumn Kyne, the rest of you I have no need for!"

He nodded towards his men and several of them broke away to grab Autumn. Titus immediately raised his weapon to interfere which alarmed Rosario's men. An entire squad of Rosario soldiers aimed their blasters at him but before anyone could even react the doors to the chamber suddenly exploded inward. Soldiers dressed in black entered the room from all sides, expertly picking apart Rosario's men but leaving Felicity and her group alone. Galen and Ossica shielded Felicity while Titus protected Autumn. Meanwhile, up on the balcony Prince Darien found himself being accosted by two men dressed all in black. One of them struck him in the head with the butt of his rifle then the two of them reached down and picked him up, half carrying and half dragging him back out of the room and out of sight.

The shooting continued for several moments longer and when the dust finally settled all of Rosario's men were dead on the floor. The commandos moved to surround Felicity and her companions but made no move to attack them. Galen carefully got to his feet, his hands in the air as he approached their commander. He whispered something in the woman's ear then looked back over his shoulder at Felicity. It was impossible to see any kind of reaction from the woman as her face was fully covered, but she did lift her finger to her ear and looked like she was talking to someone.

"What's going on," Autumn whispered to Felicity.

The other girl let out an exasperated sigh and looked away. "These, um... These are my men, I guess," she whispered back, "Only, I didn't know about them until today."

A moment later another man entered the room. A taller man with chiseled features and short cropped brown hair that was graying at the edges. The commandos gave him a wide berth as he walked to the center of the room and stood in front of Felicity. "Is this her," Charles Marik asked though truth be told he didn't even really need to. He'd seen the portrait of Lady Camilla Sage hanging up in the hall of Sage Manor and this young girl standing before him looked exactly like her.

"Yes, my Lord," Galen answered, "She's the last descendant of Rickard Sage."

Charles looked to Ossica for confirmation and the Messryn nodded his head. Meanwhile, both Autumn and Titus were staring at Felicity with wide eyes and Felicity could feel her cheeks begin to flush. "Um," she began in an uncertain voice, "I really think there's been some sort of mistake. I can't possibly be--,"

"What of these others," Charles inquired, interrupting Felicity before she could finish. He turned to look at Autumn and Titus, eyeing them both suspiciously. The girl looked familiar somehow but he couldn't quite figure out why.

"Friends of the Princess, my Lord," Galen told him, "The girl is her servant and the man is a mercenary charged with her protection."

"He seems to be more interested in protecting the servant," he pointed out.

"Well, as I understand it they are rather close," Galen answered with a shrug, "I shouldn't say any more, my Lord, it's hardly proper."

That seemed to satisfy him for the moment and he turned to address the commander. "What's our status?"

"The castle is secure, my Lord, and all the prisoners have been rounded up," she replied.

"Good, bring them in here and set up the broadcasting equipment. We'll begin as soon as it's ready," Charles told her then he stepped away towards the raised dais as two men carted Prince Darien's unconscious form into the room from one of the side doors.

Galen walked back over towards Felicity and whispered in her ear. "Are you alright?"

Felicity only nodded then turned to look at Autumn. What does she think of me now, she asked herself quietly. She tried to imagine what this looked like and could only think that Autumn might feel betrayed by this. She quietly leaned over to Autumn and whispered under her breath.

"I swear I didn't know about any of this," she assured her and there was a strange sort of desperation in her eyes, "I'm so sorry. You're in this mess because of me."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Wed Sep 21, 2016 3:38 pm

Montez looked at Gaius, then back in the direction she would be heading.

"I don't think it's wise to stay here, sir, but this is hardly the time for arguing. Good luck." She nodded to her partner and turned in the direction indicated to him, moving quickly to catch up with Autumn and the others.

Elsewhere, Autumn was left feeling like a bomb had gone off in her brain. It was like someone had severed her last tie to reality, and now she was simply floating through a nightmarish existence of impossibilities.

It had to be a nightmare. There was certainly no way that any of this was happening. She was certainly not standing in a room that had just exploded, in the middle of a riot, now surrounded by gun wielding commandos who had the audacity to question who she was with fake hair color sprayed on to her roughly cut hair. There was no way any of that was actually happening.

She looked over to Felicity as she spoke, her eyes unfocused and hardly comprehending what she was seeing.

Sage. The descendant of Rickard Sage.

Her men.

That made her... Lady Sage.

Autumn's mind whirled to put all of the pieces of information together.

Had this all just been one clever play by Felicity Sage to... accomplish something? It felt like it. It felt like the sort of political wheel within wheel plan of a master manipulator. Autumn had approached Felicity first, but it had been Felicity that had bumped into her while she was on her way to the shuttle... Had she been trying to get herself to Castle Rosario for this reason of connecting with her people? It seemed unlikely. But then again, if Felicity was such a good manipulator she was able to seem inept at deception, it was hard to gauge.

Her eyes came to focus on Felicity, searching the woman's face for any sign of deception or honesty. "Did you... play me? Is this all your planning?"


Ossica stepped up to Charles carefully. The two did not always see eye to eye, but at least had a functional working relationship, as long as their goals aligned,

"My compatriot, I worry about this riot." He spoke in a low voice, but it was one that was insistent. "It could be carried to far in the heat of moment, yes? Already there are rockets and explosives, and many of my own people are still in the castle. I do not want them to be hurt. Can you control these crowds?"

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:09 pm

"The crowds are not my concern," Charles said and he left it at that.

Ossica looked like he was about to say more but before he could several of Charles' men entered the room with a row of prisoners in tow. There was Lady Rosario, her daughter and various cousins of the family as well as the two nobles from House Droma. The prisoners along with Prince Rosario were led atop the raised platform and told to kneel before Lord Marik. Those that refused were beaten until they acquiesced.

"What are you planning, Lord Marik," Galen said, coming up behind him.

Charles didn't even turn around. Instead he had a grim expression on his face. "A message."

**********

Felicity heard Autumn's words and her heart sank. The first friend she managed to make during her short stay here and now she already felt betrayed. Not by Felicity's doing, of course, but how could she prove that. She looked away from Autumn, her shoulders slumped and when she spoke again there was a sadness in her voice. "I know you haven't known me for very long but do you really think I could do something so vile to you? I've only ever wanted to help people, not hurt them. Did you think that was all a lie?"

Autumn never got the chance to answer, though. Assuming, of course, that she was about to. Felicity hadn't been looking at her so whether or not Autumn believed her she couldn't say. Instead they were interrupted by a voice calling out from the other side of the room. The man setting up the recording equipment had just finished and he turned to inform Lord Marik. "Alright, we're ready," he said.

Charles waved to some of his men and Felicity and her two companions were carted to the front of the group right behind Charles Marik. That's when Felicity and the others saw the prisoners lined up in front of the balcony. Felicity searched their faces and recognized them as nobles from the banquet. She didn't see any sign of Aleksander Rosario or Gaius Ducant, however, and for that she felt relieved. That is until she realized that Charles Marik had something sinister planned.

"What is this," Felicity asked him, "What are you doing?"

The Steward of House Sage simply ignored her and Felicity's voice grew more desperate. "Answer me!"

Still he answered her with silence until Galen spoke up. "The Lady of House Sage asked you a question, my Lord. Perhaps you should answer."

Charles fixed the man with a cold stare. "I don't see our noble signet on her finger, do you? She is not officially Lady of the House yet and until then I do not have to answer to her."

He turned and nodded to the engineer manning the camera. The man quickly hit record then began counting off his fingers from five. As soon as he hit one Charles quickly cleared his throat and began. "My name is Charles Marik. For nearly a thousand years my family has served as Steward for the now Exiled House Sage. That's right, the House you believed you had destroyed so completely was not so. In the years following the Purge we have continued to exist among you, in the spaces between worlds and in dark corners of the galaxy where you fear to tread, but now we hide no more."

He turned towards Felicity with a wave of his hand and the camera panned over. The operator zoomed in on Felicity's face but just before that there was a clear view of Autumn standing several feet away from her flanked by commandos but not seemingly in their custody. She looked different now with shorter hair dyed a much lighter color than her natural black and standing next to her was Titus dressed in civilian clothing. "The lost heir has returned to Maldavi," Marik's voice continued from off screen as the camera focused in on Felicity, "and with her arrival comes the resurrection of House Sage. The wraith you thought long dead will rise to haunt you in your waking dreams for we have not forgotten. Our first act of defiance will be to exact revenge on all those who tried to destroy us, starting with House Rosario."

The camera panned over then to cover Prince Rosario and the other prisoners as Charles moved to stand in front of them. He raised a blaster to the Prince's head and from somewhere off camera Felicity's voice could be heard. "What are you doing?! Stop," she pleaded with him, "Don't do this!"

Prince Rosario, finally conscious after being dragged from the balcony, glared up at Charles then spit at his boot. "I will kill you," he roared, succumbed to his insanity he was not aware of the gravity of his situation, "I will kill you and that bitch you call an heir! I will flay the skin from your bodies and wear it as a coat! I will--,"

A blaster shot rang out and silenced the Prince for good. His body slumped onto its side and Charles moved to the next in line. There was the sound of a scuffle off camera as Felicity tried to force her way free of her captors. Two men were down almost instantly followed shortly by a third then Felicity ran out into view and straight at Charles. The fight between them was short, Charles was schooled in Sage Style Martial Arts the same style that Felicity used though she was unaware that's what it was called. Her attacks were quick and precise but Marik's counters were quicker. It caught her off guard to fight someone who used the same style as her which only served to work in Marik's favor. In the end all Felicity was able to do was knock away his blaster before Charles managed to put her in a hold.

She struggled against his grasp to no avail gasping for breath as he tightened his grip. Charles would show no mercy to her or to anyone. Instead he turned towards someone off camera, twisting Felicity about in his arms. "Get her out of here," he snarled at them and a squad of four commandos stepped forward and forcibly removed Felicity from the throne room. All the while her cries pleaded with him to stop.

"Please stop this," she shouted, her voice wracked with grief, "I am ordering you to stop! Listen to me! Please!"

Charles ignored her cries and walked over to recover his pistol. Once he had it in hand he straightened up then turned and shot the Lady Rosario right between the eyes. The other prisoners began to plead for their lives but their voices fell on deaf ears. The Princess of House Rosario was next and one by one Charles killed each and every one of them. When he was finished with his gruesome task he turned to look back at the camera.

"This was just the beginning," he said, "Death will come on swift wings for all those who sought to oppose us. An eye for an eye, a House for a House. We will not stop until the blood debt has been paid."

Then he cut the recording and holstered his pistol. "Make sure a copy of that gets sent to every major House in the sector," he ordered his men, then he walked over to where Autumn and Titus were standing, "and load these two up onto my gunship."

"My Lord," Galen interrupted him, stepping between him and Autumn, "the girl and the merc are of no use to us. Perhaps it would be better to leave them here."

Charles stared down at the man with a fire in his eyes. "That's twice you've spoken out against me, Galen. I never would've thought it possible." He looked at the girl and then the mercenary standing next to her. "Just what is it that you're hiding."

"Nothing, my Lord, just that the Princess--," he tried to explain but Charles interrupted him.

"The Princess whom you claim is friends with these two," Charles finished for him, "If that is true then they are of use to me. So load them up on my gunship now."

Then he turned and left the room without another word. A train of commandos following him out. Galen turned to look apologetically at Autumn. "I'm sorry," he whispered, "Please, come with me."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:46 am

Whatever thoughts Autumn might have had about Felicity, the scene that unfolded in front of her was more than enough to convince Autumn that, no matter what else, Felicity was not the one in control of the situation.

Shock had set in, the nightmare deepening as the pleading captives were executed right in front of her eyes. She tried not to watch, but she could not turn away.

These people... These savages were not playing by any rules she understood. The Royal Laws of Warfare, which governed what the Houses could and could not do during war, forbade the execution of unarmed captives without a trial and certain other social rites. Yes, there was a process for it, but it was not this. This was simply putting down people like animals.

Autumn's eyes tracked Charles as he paced around the room with a manic edge, then left, followed by his commandos.

It took her a second to process what Galen had said to her, but finally she turned to look at him.

"Why would I go with you? So I can shot like a dog somewhere else?" She asked quietly, a fire kindling in her eyes. "This is how you will rebirth House Sage, in a deluge of blood? Do you think my father, or any of the other Houses, will let that madman stand even for a moment? No matter how much power you think House Sage has, no matter how hidden you think they are, do you really think it can withstand the combined might of all the Houses? If in the course of history there had been a Purge due to House Sage's violence, all you have done with this barbaric display is prove to the Sector that the only failing of the Purge was not completely destroying the bloodline. You have just validated everything that was done in the past."

Beside her, Titus was coiled like a spring. He knew that there was no winning in this situation, that striking out would be suicidal at best, but he was ready anyway. If anyone tried to do her harm, he was more than ready to lay his life down to stop it.

Ossica stepped up to where Autumn and Galen were squared off, his demeanor troubled. "Her words echo some sentiments of my people. We do not want war. And to make it clear, we support the Descendant and House Sage, we do not support Charles Marik simply because he has taken a House Sage banner to walk under."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:55 am

Galen glanced nervously at the rest of the House Sage commandos that still surrounded them. This was not the time or place for Autumn to confront him, doing so would only reveal her true identity. With a sigh he reached out and grabbed her arm, roughly pulling her alongside him as he whispered to the others.

"Charles Marik walks under no banner but his own," he said, only loud enough for the four of them to hear, "My loyalty is to Lady Sage and she just shed tears for the man who tried to kill her. That is the legacy House Sage should have left behind. What Charles Marik has done, what these men allowed him to do, serves no one but himself. Even so, it was only in response to what your ancestors have done to us before. Many people lost families during the Purge and since then we've gone to ground, living in shadows like beasts afraid to come into the light for fear your kind would just hunt us again."

He stopped talking as they walked and glanced up at Titus walking next to them. The other man didn't seem like he was about to attack but he certainly looked poised to. Behind them the bodies of House Rosario lay in a heap and Galen couldn't bring himself to look at them, though it was not out of sympathy or squeamishness. It was out of pure rage. "Will we survive the combined might of all the Houses? No we will not," he continued, "and you're right Charles' actions tonight may only have doomed us all. But what he did here today, horrifying as it as, it was justified long before you were born," as he said that last part there was a certain fire in his eyes.

In response Titus' hands balled into fists and it looked like he might spring on him. Realizing what he had done Galen let his anger ebb and his shoulders drooped. "Look, I know how you must feel. Given what you saw there's no reason to believe it won't happen to you. Though, if you continue to protest what is now only a possibility will become a certainty. Now for the record I don't trust you, or your father and I certainly have no sympathy for you either but she does. She cares a great deal about you, she would not leave this place without you. It is for her sake alone that I vow no harm will come to you, but you must do something for me in return."

Autumn raised an eyebrow at that and Galen explained. "I have long suspected that Charles Marik's motivations were not pure. I believe he is playing a much larger game than he's letting on. Since the day he took over as Steward he's been gearing our people towards war, playing off their emotions, their fears and garnering their sympathy. In our time of need he was the anchor that held us together, the stone that sharpened us into a weapon, gave us purpose--hope. There are many who support him but if Lady Sage called for it their loyalties would almost certainly shift. She's the promise of a brighter future, a future of legitimacy, and for that I fear her life is in grave danger. Charles will not give up his power so easily and you must convince my Lady to take a stand against him, to assume her rightful place as Lady of House Sage. You and I both know she will not make this decision on her own and Charles will use that reluctance against her. If he is permitted to continue to rule then many more people will die as a result of her inaction."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:31 pm

Autumn held her ground silently for a several heartbeats before Titus spoke a voice barely above a murmur. "One way or another, we need to get out of this castle, milady. Even if it is not ideal, Galen is our only option of that right now. I believe him when he says no harm will come to us." Titus need only to look at Galen and he knew he was looking at a soldier, one who ascribed to one code of honor or another. While he did not pretend that Galen had their best interests at heart, he knew that the riot that was rippling ever closer to the castle was not likely to be any more merciful than Galen was.

And frankly, if it came to an escape, Titus preferred the odds of dealing with Charles, Galen, and his guards somewhere else rather than Charles, Galen, his guards, and a riot.

Autumn huffed lightly, walking in the direction Galen had started her in. "I would be happy to assist in persuading Felicity, once we have been returned to Kyne space. Regardless of her identity, Felicity is a guest of House Kyne, and her abduction will be answered appropriately."

***

There was a knock at the chamber door seconds before Ethan entered into Benedict's bedchamber.

Benedict, who had been preparing for bed, turned at the sound of the door, frowning slightly at the sudden intrusion of his steward. It was very rare that Ethan broke from decorum and ritual, which told him rather pointedly that something unusual was happening, along with Ethan's informal dress, as if he too had been in the process of retiring.

"Ethan. What brings you here?"

Ethan stepped towards Benedict, then bowed. "I apologize, my lord, but I did not think you would want this to wait any longer than necessary. I have a report from Emris. Or, rather, a have a lack of a report from Emris. The security detail failed to check in at their appointed time. Operations tried to make contact with the shuttle crew and its fighter escort, but was unable to, and even tried to reach one of our spies on the planet, and could not reach them. I tried to reach Castle Rosario directly, and got no response. It seems that there is a large scale jamming taking place around the castle. I do not wish to over react, but I fear something may be terribly wrong."

Ethan didn't add, though he may have wanted to, he had been opposed to this mission from the beginning. While, granted, there was no way to predict the unpredictable and Autumn could hardly be left in an ivory tower her whole life, sending her to House Rosario had been reckless in his opinion. Still, now was not the time for opinions, now was the time to make sure that the sole heiress of House Kyne was returned safely.

Benedict's eyes hardened. Ethan knew that look, and it usually accompanied the hammer being dropped on someone.

"Dispatch a fleet. Get in contact with any Rosario commander, fleet, or installation you can, and let them know we expect to find Autumn unharmed when we arrive. And if we do not, we will begin carving House Rosario up for the vultures."

Ethan nodded, tensing slightly. "My Lord, you are not intending to go yourself are you?"

Benedict clenched his jaw. "No. Only because it would slow the launch of the fleet, and I want them underway within the hour."

Ethan nodded stiffly. "I will keep you informed of any changes, my lord."

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:49 pm

"Then we will cross that bridge when we come to it," Galen told her, "In the meantime I suggest the two of you get your story straight. Lord Marik may not have been interested enough to learn your names but eventually he will get curious."

He had thought to say more but ultimately decided that would be enough for now and he led the rest of the way in silence. The gunships that waited for them outside were small, not much bigger than troop transports but much better armed. The wall surrounding the castle was utterly demolished on the east side and the gun emplacements along the top of it were completely destroyed. Autumn, Titus and Ossica were loaded onto one gunship and Felicity and Galen were loaded onto another. Charles Marik had a game plan in mind and at the moment that plan involved keeping Felicity away from her friends.

The flight back to the planet Iselia was short in comparison to the trip to Emris from Oridin. They had only been in transit for a few hours rather than a few days in spite of the fact that just about the same amount of distance had been covered. The original Sage family that had arrived in Maldavi thousands of years ago had come with far superior technology than what was previously available. Their ships could cover vast distances in a fraction of the time, much like the vessel Felicity had arrived in.

The original Sages had traded much of what they knew for favor and status here in Maldavi in an attempt to secure a safe place to stay, but much of their technology was kept hidden from the rest of the sector. Even back then battle lines had been forming between the individual Houses and the Sages had seen first hand what technology like theirs could do in a war. That was in fact the reason they had fled so far out into the Unknown Regions to begin with.

Looking out the port window outside the ship there really wasn't anything to see out there. They had jumped to the outskirts of an asteroid field surrounded on three sides by a nebula. The asteroid field orbited a distant sun, too small and too far away for there to be any habitable planets nearby. To those who had never been here before they were left wondering just where exactly were they going?

The answer was soon made apparent as the three gunships flew into the asteroid field keeping a tight formation. After awhile a small dwarf planet came into view and the three ships flew straight at it. The planet itself was completely barren and covered in craters. They flew low over a high ridge heading towards the largest crater on the surface and then they saw it. A massive biodome built into the bed of a huge crater.

There was a starport at the top of the dome where ships would dock. This was connected to the surface by a massive central pillar that had turbolifts both large and small running down the length of it. The base of the pillar was on an island in the center of a man made lake that was ringed on both sides by a shimmering city. Beyond the city a forest stretched to the very end of the dome on all sides.

Felicity stared at it all in wonder after the ships had docked and she, Titus, Autumn, Ossica and Galen along with a small cadre of soldiers and Charles Marik were led into one of the turbo lifts. From the top of the dome they had an amazing view of the lake, the city and the forest beyond. Once the turbolift had reached the bottom Felicity and her friends were loaded onto a fancy transport and driven to the front gate of the massive estate that made up the heart of Sage Manor.

Galen had helped Felicity out of the transport and as she stood at the base of the stairs leading up to the front door of the estate all she could do was stare. This is all mine, she asked herself in wonder, a small part of her wondering just what the heck she was supposed to do with it all.

"This way, please," Galen said, motioning for her to follow.

"But um--," Felicity started, looking back over her shoulder at where Titus and Autumn were being led to somewhere else.

"They'll be fine," Galen whispered to her, "So long as they behave there's nothing to worry about."

Felicity didn't feel comfortable letting them go but she didn't have much of a choice. She followed Galen up the stairs and into the large foyer of the house. Marble stairs led up to a balcony overlooking the front door and the whole space was lavishly decorated. This certainly did not look like the home of a Jedi and her hope of finding an ancient Jedi artifact here were quickly waning.

Galen took her upstairs to the Lord's bedchambers where she would be spending the next few days no doubt. They were technically the 'bedchambers' of the Lord of House Sage, but they were probably closer to a small suite or condominium. She had her own bedroom, of course, a private refresher and a luxuriously decorated living space. Galen held the door open for her as she stepped inside into the center of the room and looked around. He gave her a moment before he finally cleared his throat and spoke to her.

"If you need anything, my Lady, you have servants standing by. Now, if you'll excuse me," he said and as he started to turn and leave she stopped him.

"Wait! Where are my friends? When can I see them?"

Galen looked reluctantly at her then at the two guards standing right outside her door. "Your friends are safe, my Lady. I assure you."

Felicity looked at him irritably. "You keep calling me that and telling me I'm supposed to be this great, noble leader, but why is it I feel more like a prisoner?"

"My Lady has not yet been adorned with the noble raiments," he explained, "Lord Marik would have you believe this is for your own safety until the ceremony can be performed."

"And what do you believe," she asked him pointedly.

"I believe my Lady should take the time she has now to relax. You've been through quite an ordeal," he said, giving her a look that seemed to suggest there was more he wanted to say but now was not the time. Then without another word he turned and left the room, closing the doors behind him.

Meanwhile, in the guest wing of the estate a pair of servants were busy helping Titus and Autumn settle into their new accommodations. The rooms were nice with plush pillows and beds and the two of them shared a suite, two bedrooms joined together by a living space. After the servants had seen to their needs Lord Marik himself entered their chambers. He waited for the servants to leave the room before addressing Autumn and her companion.

"I am not going to waste time with pleasantries, you know what kind of man I am you saw it for yourself," he said, referring to the recording he had taken earlier. The engineer that had recorded it had passed it off to their Correspondence Guild contact who should now be distributing it throughout the sector. The first few broadcasts should be going out in an hour, but it would take almost a day and a half, maybe two before the message had been completely distributed to every House in the sector.

"While I regret that--incident had to have been your first impression of me I assure you that while you are a guest on my estate I will bring no harm to you," he continued, stopping only briefly to lower himself into a nearby chair. After sitting he leaned forward a bit and steepled his hands together. "Now, let's get to why you are here. First off, I'll admit that my Lady's sudden arrival is a--complication I did not anticipate. I came to House Rosario with other goals in mind, goals that are now in jeopardy thanks to the existence of that woman. Fortunately, the young Princess has a weakness. One which she so poignantly revealed to me during the execution. Seeing her reaction to the death of Prince Rosario left me wondering. If she is willing to do all of that for an enemy, what would she do for a friend? What might she give up?"

He leaned back in his chair then and crossed one leg over the other before continuing. "Your reality is this. I get what I want and you'll be free to go. If she resists me, if she refuses to obey, then I might have to make an example. It doesn't have to be you, it could be him," he said, gesturing to Titus, "or anyone, really. I've seen how she values human life, but I don't believe it will come to that. In the meantime you will be free to wander the grounds. Under guard, of course, and certain areas will not be permitted. I'll have one of my servants go over the details with you once we are done here. Assuming everything goes well and you behave yourselves your stay here will feel like a vacation and then you'll be returned to your homes no worse for wear, this ugly nightmare far behind you. Now, are there any questions?"

**********

"Aha," Aleksander exclaimed suddenly as he was fiddling with the communications suite. He and the young Prince of House Ducant had taken shelter together, though it was not in the panic room. They had tried to get there, of course, but a group of rioters entering through the tunnels had cut them off. Fortunately, they had managed to hide themselves away in one of the less traveled areas of the castle. Unfortunately, that area was also part of the dungeon.

Gaius sat huddled against the wall, his hand covering his nose as he watched Lord Aleksander. He'd been fiddling with the thing for hours ever since they picked it up on one of the floors above. It was a short range communications console which meant it could reach low orbit above the planet but not much further than that. Upon hearing Aleksander exclaim Gaius leaned forward.

"Did you get it working," he asked.

Aleksander toyed with a few dials before frowning. "Mostly," he said, "I think I can send a message out, but what do I say. I broadcast that there are two nobles hiding down here and the mob upstairs will come looking for us."

Gaius fell backwards against the wall with a heavy sigh. "I've been gone for awhile now and I haven't checked in with my father. If he thinks I'm in danger he'll send a fleet. Maybe we should wait for them to arrive? They'll try to contact us first, right?"

Aleksander's scowl deepened. "It could be days before they arrive, we'll die of dehydration before then. Either we take a chance now or wait here until we die."

He fiddled with the controls some more and opened a channel on a secure Rosario line, one meant for military purposes. "Attention, attention, to anyone listening on this frequency my name is Aleksander Rosario and we are in need of your help. Please respond."

He fell silent and for a long moment there was nothing. Then a little blue figure of a man dressed in a Rosario military uniform appeared, bowing deeply to Aleksander. "My Lord," he said, "it is good to see you alive."

"My Lord," Aleksander asked in surprise, "What has happened to my brother? My sister? My mother?"

The man's expression grew solemn. "Forgive me, my Lord, but have you not heard? There was a message being broadcast from the palace. Your brother along with the rest of your family were executed by a man calling himself Charles Marik."

"What about Autumn," Gaius said suddenly, rushing forward and into view.

The officer turned to look at him. "Prince Ducant," he said in surprise, "I was not expecting you."

"Forget about that," he snapped, "Tell me what happened to Autumn!"

The man considered that a moment then shook his head. "I cannot say," he said, "I did not see Autumn Kyne among those being killed."

Gaius leaned back in relief. That had to have meant she managed to get out safely, right? That is, of course, unless she was actually executed and this man didn't recognize her because of her disguise. As soon as he thought that his heart rate began to rise again. "We need to get out of here," he told them.

"Already on it," the officer informed them, "We have men moving into the castle as we speak. We'll have it secured within the hour."

"What of the riots," Aleksander asked.

To that the man made a face. "That will take longer," he said, "Our forces are spread too thin and restoring order to the capital may take some time. Possibly days."

"Fine then, just come and get us for now. We'll work out the rest later."

"As you wish, my Lord, tell me where you are."

Lord Aleksander filled him in on the necessary details. Meanwhile Gaius was still worrying about Autumn. He wondered if he had made the right choice going with Aleksander. He had survived being executed so it certainly seemed like the right choice but it didn't feel like it. He still felt like he had abandoned her, like he had abandoned a friend...

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Xalsin » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:58 am

Titus spoke before Autumn could even begin to formulate her list of questions and demands. "No sir. We're not here to cause any trouble for you or anyone else, and we are appreciative of your understanding. If we can help, let us know, otherwise we will just keep our heads down and ride this out."

Titus was well aware of just how precarious their situation was. Their cover story was incredibly shaky, as once Charles had enough time to wonder where it was Felicity had been staying, how it was she had maidservants and other followers, he was going to realize something wasn't quite right about them. So it would be better if he didn't think about them at all. Perhaps, after the heat of the moment in Castle Rosario had extinguish, he might not be inclined to murder Autumn in cold blood, but that was a risk Titus was not prepared to bet on that just yet.

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Re: Star Wars: Concord's End

Post by Pryde » Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:56 am

Charles watched them for a moment trying to gauge their intentions. When he was finally satisfied he smiled and stood. "Good," he said, "Then if there is anything you need one of my servants will be on hand to assist you."

He turned and started to leave but halfway towards the door he stopped a looked back at them as if a thought had occurred to him. "Oh, one last thing. You'll understand that in the interim I can't permit you to see your friend just yet, but I assure you she will be well taken care of."

Then he left the room leaving the two of them to their own devices. Elsewhere on the estate Galen sat alone in the garden quietly contemplating. It was difficult to tell who to trust as many of the guards on the estate grounds were strong supporters of Charles' efforts to 'restore glory' to House Sage. Little did they realize he had other plans in mind, but it would take more than a few words to convince them of that. Still, there was one person here whose loyalties were not in question and Galen looked up as he turned the corner and came into view.

"Ossica," he said quietly, "thank you for coming."

Ossica looked around briefly before sitting down. "It's clear," Galen assured him, "I checked for spies and listening devices, though truth be told I would feel more comfortable having this conversation somewhere in the city if that were an option."

Charles Marik had the estate on lockdown until he could decide what to do with Felicity. It had not yet been widely spread that the heir had returned and before his broadcast at Castle Rosario was completely distributed throughout the sector he had this brief moment to do some crowd control and get ahead of the situation. That's the part that worried Galen.

"The Lord Steward is up to something," Galen said in a low tone, "For what other reason would he need to bring the Princess' friends here if he did not intend to use them against her. We need to find out what he's planning and if necessary help the Princess escape. If we can get her into the city she can garner enough support to fight back against Marik."

**********

Felicity had a problem with being restless. She knew she was in danger, she knew her friends were in danger but rather than waiting around for something to happen she decided to be proactive. Problem was the doors to her chamber were locked and and had only been opened twice since she arrived. Once to let her in and a second time to permit a trio of servants to enter and assist her in changing into something more appropriate of her station. If not for that the two guards standing out front would not have been a problem for her.

Since that direction was closed off to her she began looking for other ways out. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be one. None of the vents were big enough to accommodate her size and all of the windows were reinforced with some kind of force field to keep her in. She'd been scouring the walls looking for a fuse box to try and trip the force fields but found none. When Charles Marik entered her room he caught her climbing on the furniture rubbing her hands on the walls. "If you're looking for a way out I can assure you there is none."

At the sound of his voice Felicity turned and ran straight at him, her fist cocked and ready to strike. Charles simply caught her blow then twisted her arm about dropping her to her knees. "Now, there's no need for that," he said, "I've proven to you twice now that I'm better."

"Where--did you learn... To fight like that," Felicity asked between gritted teeth as she grimaced against the pain.

Charles finally let her go then walked over towards a nearby chair and sat down. "The Sage style martial art," he asked, "A family secret passed down from my father who learned from his father who learned from his father, yada yada yada, all of whom originally learned from your great grandfather."

When he saw the look on her face he nodded. "Yes, we're related. Distantly of course but we're still cousins."

"What do you want from me," she demanded, getting to her feet and rubbing her sore arm with one hand.

Charles simply shrugged. "Put simply, I want your throne. I want your name and your power. I want to take my rightful place that was denied me because of birth."

"Fine then, you can have it. Just let my friends go!"

Charles smiled at that then shook his head. "Alas, were it so easy. You see, my original plan was to sow fear throughout the Maldavi sector until finally the noble Houses had no choice but to recognize my status as Lord of House Marik. That was long term, but you--you've provided me with a convenient short term plan. You see, there are two ways to earn a noble title. One, you can buy your way into it provided you have the funds, which as you can see we do not. Iselia is a nice place to live but there's not much here in the way of industry. The second way to earn a noble title is to marry into one, which is where you come in."

Felicity's eyes widened at the mention of marriage. There's no way she could do that. She was not yet ready for marriage, though truth be told she never really thought of it much. Still, marriage was supposed to be for love, right? He just wanted to marry her out of convenience. "No," she said, "never."

"Well, if that's the way you feel about it," Charles said with a sigh. Then he stood and started to move towards the door, "I guess I'll just have to pay another visit to your friends. Is there something you would like me to tell them before I cut off their ears?"

"No, wait," she cried and Charles stopped in his tracks, a smug smile on his face. He turned back to look at her and she averted her gaze, unable to look him in the eyes. "Fine, I'll do it."

"Good," Charles told her, "We'll hold the ceremony in the morning after you've rested. You'll wear the ring, say the oaths and then be officially recognized as Lady Sage. Afterwards we'll begin preparations for the wedding, but," he stopped then and stepped closer to her, "should you decide to get 'cold feet' I will not hesitate to kill your friends, starting with the girl."

Then he spun on his heel and stalked out of the room, like a predator walking away from a fresh kill. Felicity watched him go for a moment and once the door had closed shut behind him she fell to her knees. This felt like the perfect time to cry but Felicity was not the type of girl to waste time with tears. If anything Charles' threat to kill Autumn only steeled her resolve to break out of here even more. Every prison had a weakness, even this one and eventually she would find it...

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