Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

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: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:42 pm

"My brother is the new Lord Ducant," Gaius explained, a note of derision in his voice, "I had no idea he was capable of something like this. He'd always been sneaky and underhanded, but murdering his own father? It's unthinkable...," he trailed off as he crossed the room and sat on the bed. "I just... I don't know what to do now. How can I prove I'm not the one who killed my father?"

**********

Felicity fell silent for a moment. In a way Lord Kyne was right, the weight was already bearing down on her but even so she still wasn't sure if she was strong enough to bear it. "I... I need some time to process," she said, standing up, "If you don't mind...," she left the rest hanging in the air.

Benedict also stood up. "Of course," he said, "take all the time you need. We will speak again when you are ready."

Felicity nodded then bowed her head towards him before turning and leaving the room. Once outside she had no idea where to go or what to do. She had said she needed time to think but she had already made up her mind, hadn't she? Without any real aim or direction she simply wandered the grounds for a bit. Servants passed her by on either side as she walked, many of them bowing in respect as they passed but Felicity paid them no mind. It wasn't that she ignored them she was simply lost in her own thoughts. She wasn't even fully aware about where she had gone until she found herself out in the gardens. A ball had come out of nowhere, bouncing off a bench and then coming to rest at her feet. Felicity stared at it for a moment, not really seeing it for what it was until a small boy came running over to her. Felicity recognized him immediately as Thomas. She opened her mouth to say something when he suddenly pulled up short.

"I'm sorry, milady," the boy said with a bow, "Please excuse us."

Felicity stared at him then down at the ball. She reached down to pick it up then handed it to him. "Thomas, please, you don't have to do that," she said, trying to offer him the ball and the boy still stubbornly stood there bent at the waist in a deep bow. "Thomas...," she started but then stopped herself. She offered the ball one more time and said, "Here."

The boy straightened up and graciously took the ball with another bow. Then he and the other children who were playing with him all scattered back to their rooms as thought playtime were suddenly over. Felicity watched them leave for a moment in stunned horror. "It's like I'm someone else entirely," she said when she felt a presence behind her. "Is that what life is here," she asked as she turned to look up at Ethan, "They bow, I rule? That's not what I wanted. I wanted to be the one to prop them up, not the other way around."

**********

Planet Kabriri,
House Droma Territory


The sound of mechanical workings echoed deep into the underground prison complex as the massive door leading the prisoner's block slowly opened. The Prime Exarch, Mohandai, stood impatiently as the Preceptor in charge of prison security operated the door controls. The prison itself was a massive complex located deep below the Temple of the Exarch, a place held sacred by many within House Droma, including Lord Archimedes. The prisoners held within were the worst of offenders, not really thieves or murderers but heathens, non-believers or those corrupted by sin. There was one prisoner in particular that was of high value to the Exarch. It was him he had intended to visit now. In deep contemplation the Exarch said nothing as he walked the silent halls of the prison. On either side of him were cells, some of which occupied by prisoners in such ill repair that they could do little more than stare as he passed. Finally, he came to stop in front of the cell belonging to the man he came to see. Somewhere in the darkness the Exarch could hear chains rattle as the man within slowly became aware of his presence.

"It seems you haven't been entirely truthful with me," he said, "Your last prediction came true, but it had nothing to do with the birth of a star, did it?"

The man within said nothing, he only glared at the Exarch. "Need I remind you that Charles Marik had ordered you dead. The only reason you're here is by my good graces. Now your last prediction was rather thin, it satisfied my Lord but only just. On the night of the next full moon I expect you to have something more for me, particularly on the matter of this Felicity Sage I've heard so much about."

The other man's eyes widened ever so slightly at the mention of that name. "You know of her, good," the Exarch continued, "She's gone to ground after her encounter with Charles Marik. I need to know where she is."

"Go to hell," the other man spat at him and the Exarch smiled.

"Hell is a place reserved for blasphemers such as you. I only wish to serve my Lord loyally. Now give me a prediction I can use or I will schedule you even more time on the rack," he told him, then without waiting for a response he spun on his heel and headed back towards the entrance, leaving the other man to contemplate his fate...

**********

Robert Anson stared at the men sitting across from him at the table. He, like the others, had all gone to ground the instant the news of Lord Ducant's demise was released. Now they were sitting around a table inside a bunker deep underground trying to decide what to do next. The only problem was that discussing it had gotten them nowhere and in no time at all the discussion had turned to pointless bickering. That bickering had been going on for hours now about what their next course of action should be. Some believed they should acquiesce to Leland's rise to power, others would settle for nothing less than war. Robert knew where his position was, he was loyal to his nephew but currently they had no idea as to his whereabouts.

"Without Prince Gaius our claim for legitimacy will be denied. We'll be viewed as rebels or insurgents," one man was saying, "Better to acquiesce than die a traitor's death!"

"Prince Leland murdered his father, I'm sure of it! We cannot allow this illegitimate claim to the throne stand, we must go to war!"

"Over what evidence? Who will side with us if we cannot prove that Leland was behind the murder? We need Prince Gaius to return! Until then we are powerless to stop Prince Leland's rise to power!"

"That's enough," Robert roared suddenly above the din of all the banter. The other men turned to look at him as he stood and walked away from his chair.

"I cannot prove that Prince Leland was behind Lord Ducant's death," he began in a more subdued voice, "but I can prove that he is behind a much more nefarious deed. An attempt on the life of young Prince Gaius." He let that sink in for a moment then turned to face them. "I had accrued evidence of the plot some time ago," he explained, "and for that Prince Leland had made an attempt on my life."

"I was told your shuttle crash was an accident," one of the men replied with a dubious look to his eye.

"If you can believe it entirely coincidental that both engines should fail at exactly the same time then sure," Robert told him, "Still, the others are right. Whatever evidence I have to incriminate Leland of any wrongdoing is pointless without Prince Gaius. He is the true heir to House Ducant, only he can lead us against his brother. Fortunately, the newly appointed Lord Ducant is still searching for him so at the very least we know he does not have him yet. However, we need to be the ones to find him first. I need your people scouring the Sector looking for Prince Gaius and I need them to find him yesterday, understood?"

The others grumbled amongst each other for a moment then silently nodded their assent. "So," Robert asked, "what do we know..."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:02 am

The color drained out of Autumn's toned face as she slowly understood what exactly Gaius meant, both by what he said, and by what he didn't say. If Leland had taken the throne of House Ducant instead of Gaius, it meant that their father's death had not been natural or ordinary by any stretch of the imagination. Either Leland had killed Declan and framed Gaius, or he had capitalized on someone else's murder.

Autumn moved over to sit next to him on the bed, her hand finding his. "Gaius, I am... so sorry." She tried to say something else, but words failed her for a moment.

"What can I do to help?"

***********

Ethan compressed his lips faintly in what might have been a distant smile.

"What you are witnessing is a thousand generations of tradition. Do you think that Lord Benedict or Lady Autumn demand that every child bows in their presence and flees at sight of them? No, these are lessons that are instilled into them by their parents, who understand that living here at the manor means their children receive the best education and care available, so they are keen to be sure there is no offense. There is no written rule demanding that those of common birth show respect to the noble born, it is done because of tradition and because the Kyne family has earned the respect of those they lead. I will not say it is this way in every House, because it is not, but I can speak only for my experience with House Kyne."

They wandered a few steps, deeper into the gardens. "Perhaps, if you take the lead of House Sage, you will eschew these old traditions, and seek a more casual relationship with those you rule over. That will not be looked kindly upon by those who favor tradition, but it is not my place to pass judgment on such matters."

He inhaled deeply, taking in the fragrant air of the gardens as a lazy twilight began to set on the manor. The groundskeepers were packing up their tools for the day. Ethan gave them a nod of his head, prompting them to bow as they made their way out of the gardens.

"I wish I could set your mind at ease about your situation, but that is a peace that will have to come from within you. If it provides any solace, however, I can offer you one small assurance: the people you see bowing, they do so out of loyalty and respect, not out of fear. I am certain that if you ever take your place as Lady of House Sage, it will be the same with you."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:51 am

Gaius looked sullenly at his feet and leaned forward, placing his elbows in his lap. "I just... I don't know," he said, "I don't know what to do."

Meanwhile, out in the garden Felicity sighed and looked away. "I know that," she said quietly, "That's not the problem. It's just... I don't," she fumbled for the words.

Ethan placed a hand reassuringly on her shoulder. "It's alright, take your time," he said simply and Felicity looked up at him and silently nodded.

The rest of the day passed without incident. Felicity spent most of her time alone in her room and Autumn did what she could to comfort Gaius. The next morning came and went like any other though there was a feeling of somberness in the air following the news of Lord Ducant. Autumn and Gaius were notably absent for most of the day and Felicity had gone back to her teachings with Rilan though in all honesty she really didn't have to. Ossica accompanied her most of the time as was part of the condition of his continued stay at House Kyne but he rarely said anything except to her. The next day had eventually passed as well and on the morning of the second day Felicity found herself alone in the study, a book on the history of the Maldavi Sector spread open before her and a plate of half eaten cheeses and fruits sitting next to that. At the moment her attention was focused on the holovid where a reporter had been doing an update on the current state of affairs. Among the topics being discussed were the death of the former Lord Ducant and a joint dinner party being held by both House Rosario and House Borrocor to celebrate a newfound friendship.

At the moment, though, the reporter had been describing the rising tension between House Ducant and the former House Anson. It seemed that there were many who didn't believe the story that Prince Gaius had murdered his father and as a result tensions were escalating.

"Peaceful protests turn to rioting today as citizens still loyal to Prince Gaius Ducant take to the streets. Fighting broke out on several key worlds after the newly minted Lord Ducant dispatched security forces to end the protests. So far there have been no deaths or serious injuries but these riots are showing no signs of stopping. Many of the protesters are calling for Lord Leland's head claiming that it was in fact he who killed the late Lord Ducant despite evidence to the contrary. Lord Leland Ducant has yet to issue a statement on the deteriorating situation in House Ducant and has redoubled his efforts on finding the one responsible for the death of his father. Reports of Gaius' whereabouts are--," the words were suddenly cut off when Rilan entered the room and turned off the holovid.

"Two days and you're already shirking your studies, my Lady," he asked.

"I'm sorry, Master Rilan," Felicity apologized, "I just... I guess I want to know more about what's going on. Charles Marik is still out there and he's declared war on everyone."

"Worry about that later," he said before indicating the book in front of her, "now back to this."

Felicity lifted it in her hands and started to read as Rilan sat across from her. Out of the corner of her eye she caught him looking at her curiously. "What is it," she asked, looking up at him.

"Forgive me, my Lady, it's just--I don't understand. You are no longer under any obligation to Lord Kyne so why ask me to continue your studies?"

Felicity averted her eyes in embarrassment, a slight reddish tinge appearing on her cheeks. "Well, this is where I'm from, right? I mean my family was here. I just feel like I owe it to them to learn something about the place that could have been my home."

**********

There was a light knock on Autumn's door and after Autumn gave him permission to enter Prince Gaius opened the door and stepped inside. "Forgive my intrusion," he said with a slight bow of his head.

Autumn looked up into the mirror at him from where she had been seated at the vanity. Currently a servant was helping her dress and to prepare for the door and as soon as Autumn saw Gaius she ordered the servant to leave. Gaius waited until the other woman was out the door before closing it behind her and then turning to look at Autumn.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," he said, "but I was hoping we could talk--about what we discussed before," he added after a moment's hesitation. "It's been two days and I'm still no closer to convincing your father to let me stay. If he tells me to leave I just... I don't know how long I'll survive out there before my brother or someone else finds me."

His face was fairly well known thanks to his participation in the arena. Gaius was under no illusion that he wouldn't be recognized wherever he went.

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:43 pm

Rilan looked thoughtfully at her, his aged mind working around her words. He did not speak quickly, nor did he speak idly, but each word seemed to be carefully selected for potency. "You have much to learn, young Felicity, but first you must learn to focus your attention where it is needed the most. If your attention is wandering to something else, then let us direct our studies in that way. Let us look at the history of House Ducant, especially as it relates to House Kyne and House Sage."

Rilan moved to a shelf in the study, pulling a few books from their select spots. As if he had memorized the books, he began turning to the precise sections desire in each one, spreading them in front of Felicity. "These books were written by a Jathen Vindeet, a well respected scholar, and Sasha the Gray Hand, a notorious pirate of the sector around Ducant space and quite the history aficionado. I think you will find the contrast between the two of them paints quite the comprehensive picture of the interplay between many of the Houses."


*********

Autumn exhaled faintly, a small release of the anxiety she felt, seeing her friend in such a troubled situation. "My father would not cast you out without some contingency, I am certain of that. But if we can demonstrate to him that we have the makings of a plan, I am certain he will grant adequate time to bring the plan together." She spoke with a bit more confidence than she truly felt. She considered her father to be fairly reasonable, but she also knew that he put the needs of the House and the family first. So if he deemed that helping Gaius was too risky... It wasn't likely to happen.

"Your brother... I am certain he would attempt to destroy any evidence, but there must be witnesses who saw you... Collaborators who delivered the poison, that affected your arrest without question... Perhaps we could contract some Ithhi spies to ascertain whether any of these people are still alive..?" A tinge of uncertainty entered her voice, betraying her lack of experience in such clandestine dealings.

********

-----Monument Peak, Planet Ryffan------

Yiande opened the door to the dimly lit bed chamber, unsure of why his father had asked to speak to him here. It had been several days since the Archlord and Seraphine had returned, and in that time Yiande and Farrid had not spoken at length. If his father knew about the origin of the assassination attempt, Yiande was at a loss to explain why he wasn't dead. Which just left the question of why were they meeting in an unused bedchamber.

"Father? Are you-" Yiande called out into the semi-gloom, only to feel a sharp blow against his right shoulder. Yiande was no slouch in a fight, spinning towards the unknown assailant. He found himself face to face with a masked and armored hulk of a man.

Yiande recognized the him instantly as a member of the Defilers, the House Borrocor's own elite brute squad. They were an instrument of fear and intimidation, and what they lacked in finesse they made up for with brutal savagery.

With a snarl, Yiande launched himself at his attacker, only to be struck in the back by another Defiler. The two of them set on him with batons, beating him to the ground and wrestling him into restraints.

"That's enough, leave us." Farrid commanded from somewhere inside the darkened room.

The two Defilers hoisted Yiande up to his knees, then left the room as commanded, leaving Farrid standing above his son, who had acquired a few new scratches in his scuffle.

"Father..." Yiande was panting through gritted teeth, his eyes focusing on his father, specifically the wooden baton he was holding in his hand. "Why-"

"Shut up." Farrid snapped. "You must think I am particularly stupid, but let me set you straight on a few things. I am not an idiot, unlike others in this room, I will not be mocked by amateurish attempts at my life, and I will not tolerate disloyalty from my family. Not when things are so primed to go our way."

The baton whipped around with surprising accuracy, the tip of it grazing his temple, just enough to rock his head to the side.

"I am so disappointed in you. I would expect such a lack of subtlety from Murrak, but you... I expect more."

"But I didn't-"

Farrid interrupted him with the baton, a sharp blow to the abdomen.

"Don't bother with lies, Yiande. I am not in the mood. I know it was you, and I do not have the desire to explain myself to you. So, you obviously put s much thought into this, tell me: once you killed me, what was your plan? Hm? You take control of the House, and then what? How will you consolidate your power? How will you keep your siblings from trying to carve a piece off for themselves? How will you prove that you are a better leader than Murrak? How will you keep Murrak from removing your skull in the middle of the night?"

Yiande didn't respond immediately, still regaining his composure from the blows he had received.

Farrid just sighed. "Stand up. You are smart, Yiande, but not as smart as me. You will lead this House one day, but not until you are ready. It is embarrassing that you would trust such an important assassination to such an amateurish charge. If you are going to make stupid decisions, as least see them through."

Yiande struggled to his feet. "You are not going to kill me?"

Farrid snorted. "Don't tempt me. No, I can't very well leave House Borrocor in the hands of a psychopath like Murrak. But if you want to inherit House Borrocor in one piece, we cannot let ourselves get caught up in these petty internal struggles. Watch what is happening to House Ducant and tell me if that's what you want for our House." Farrid stepped behind Yiande, releasing him from the restraints.

Yiande rubbed at his wrists a moment with a frown. "This must mean that you have something big going. What is the next move then?"

"Now, my boy, we petition the Royal Court for a Contest of Rightful Ownership over the Jullisse system. And once we have secured that, we find ourselves quite a bit more powerful."

Yiande smiled, blood still trickling down his face from his fresh wounds.

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:40 pm

Gaius appeared crestfallen and his shoulders sunk a bit, but something Autumn had said did shine some hope on his situation. If he could present some sort of plan to Lord Kyne then he would be allowed to stay on Oridin, but what kind of plan? Gaius had no idea what to do in this situation. He's had about as much experiences with clandestine murders as Autumn, which is to say none. The fact that Leland even knew how to set one up was still shocking to him. How does one even go about hiring an assassin?

"Lady Sage said something similar," he said finally, "There was one man, a servant I had not recognized and I once knew all the servants. I spent a great deal of time with them instead of my siblings. They always teased me for it...," his words trailed off as that thought had made him think about his sister who was now dead.

"Anyway, the man left the room before my father drank the poison. If anyone had delivered it I'm sure it was him. If only I knew how to find him, we could take that to your father."

**********

Felicity's initial thought was, I have to read both of these?! She asked herself quietly as she stared at the two volumes Rilan had placed before her. Before she could voice her concerns, though, he pointed at one of the books and said, "Start here and read to page three hundred and forty one."

Then he pointed to the other book and added, "Then start here and read to page two hundred and sixty seven. When you're finished we will take a moment to discuss the contents."

Felicity glanced down at each book in turn and noted the page numbers they were currently opened to, nearly breathing a sigh of relief when she saw them. Just a few pages in each book, she could do that, but they weren't done with just that. After briefly going over the contents of the pages she just read and explaining the intricacies and implications of each he once again had her return to each book and continue reading, pausing again later to repeat the process. This had gone on for quite some time before Felicity saw something that made her face turn completely pale. In Sasha Gray Hand's book there was a picture of one of Gaius' ancestors standing next to the then Lord Sage of House Sage, a face that Felicity recognized, but when she read his name her entire body felt chilled to the bone.

"Are you alright, my Lady? You look like you've seen a ghost," Rilan said suddenly causing her to stare at him with a start.

"I'm sorry, what," she asked quickly, not quite understanding anything he had just said.

"I said it looks like you've seen a ghost," he repeated.

Felicity made a face at that. "You don't know how true that is," she muttered under her breath, her words just loud enough to be heard but too inaudible to be understood.

"I'm sorry, what was that," he asked.

"I, um... I need a break, um--please," she told him.

Rilan stared at her a moment then silently nodded. "Alright, but be back here in ten minutes."

"Sure thing," Felicity threw back over her shoulder as she flew out of her chair and raced out of the room. Outside there were some servants attending their duties and she had no intention of making herself look like a crazy person in front of them so she quickly wandered the halls until she found a quiet place out of the way from everyone.

"Where are you," she whispered quietly, "You've been watching me all my life so I know you're there."

A moment or two later the blue shimmering form of Rickard Sage appeared before her. He took one look at her then sighed. "I take it you know," he asked.

"How long were you planning to keep it from me," she demanded.

He shrugged. "As long as needed to be. If I had told you who I was from the start after everything you learned from Galen then you would not have heeded my advice."

"Your advice to what," she asked incredulously, "Replace you? Rekindle your ancient war? Become the next Marcus Sage?!"

The volume of her voice was growing louder, more desperate. Marcus sighed again and turned away from her. "None of those things, actually," he said sadly, "When I was alive I made mistakes. Mistakes that were too numerous to count. There was a time once when I was much like you. I cared deeply about people, not just our people but everyone and I was horrified at how some of the other Houses were treating their commoners. Many of the other Houses, like House Ducant at the time had kept slaves and treated them as less than human. Things that were illegal by the laws of House Sage. Our ways were quite alien to the rest of the sector and many of the other Houses feared that our traditions would one day contaminate theirs. So when threats of war began to loom I feared the other Houses were planning to do to our citizens what was already being done to theirs and when my brother refused to take action I had to do the one thing that he would not. I had to protect our people and liberate this sector at any cost, but I was a fool. My anger and my hatred had blinded me and before I knew it the dark side had consumed me completely. I became cruel and unrelenting. I did--unspeakable things. It was only in death that I began to see the error of my ways and by then it was already too late. The other Houses had already begun to lead a purge against my people. The end result of which is as you know."

Felicity fell silent for a moment. Marcus' tale of his past echoing concerns of her own. Ever since encountering Kylo Ren on Ord Mantell Felicity had been afraid of falling to the dark side and becoming just like him... Just like Marcus Sage. If anything the admission of his mistakes were reason enough for her to abandon this sector completely before it finally consumed her too. Marcus must have known what she was thinking and he spoke again before she could turn that thought into action.

"Please, you mustn't give up hope," he said, turning back to look at her, "I said you were House Sage's last hope and I meant it. You are also the last hope of the Messryn people and their entire species. Would you dare abandon them to the consequences of my actions?"

Felicity closed her eyes and looked away. "Why me," she asked, her tone subdued.

Marcus gave her a sympathetic look. "Because you're different. You're everything I could never be and more. I have watched many generations of your ancestors living out their lives peacefully, never truly owning up to their potential. I have seen many heirs come and go and I could have brought any one of them back here but I did not. None of them were anything like you, not even your father. Your actions on Ord Mantell speak volumes about your character and your principles. Someone like you is what this sector desperately needs. With your leadership you can rekindle our legacy and restore House Sage to a place of honor. Ten generations I have waited for this moment! For someone like you to correct the mistakes I have made. You have the potential to become a force for real change in the Maldavi Sector, I truly believe that to be true. The Force has chosen you for a great destiny and this is it, you must see that!"

The more he spoke the more Felicity's hands tightened into fists. A part of her wanted to hit him but she knew that she couldn't. Her hand would just pass through him because he wasn't actually there. Finally when he had finished speaking her patience had reached its end. With her eyes still closed and her fists still clenched she ground her teeth together. "The Force didn't choose me, you did! You brought me here," she snapped at him, finally opening her eyes to glare at him.

"I did what I had to do for the good of all," Marcus told her.

Felicity was practically trembling from rage now. This whole time it hadn't been the Force that brought her here, it was simply just a misguided man attempting to use her to appease his guilt. Never once did he ever consider her feelings on the subject, nor did he ask for her permission. Finally, she had had enough. "Go away," she whispered quietly, averting her eyes from him.

"Excuse me," Marcus asked in surprise.

She fixed him with a red hot stare. "I said go away," she screamed, "and never show your face to me again!"

Marcus stared at her helplessly then silently nodded before fading out of sight. A moment later a man wearing the uniform of a lancer rounded the corner and ran straight to her. "My Lady, are you alright," he asked.

Felicity gave him a startled look, her hands still clenched into fists and when she realized who was speaking to her she quickly forced her body to relax. "I'm... I'm fine," she said finally.

"Who were you speaking to?"

"It was nobody," she lied then she bowed her head towards him before turning on her heel and walking away. As soon as she did so the lancer quickly followed her.

"Wait, my Lady," he called out to her, stopping her in her tracks, "A message has arrived for you from the planet Iselia. Lord Kyne requests your presence in his study. This way, please."

From Iselia, those words stuck in her mind. No doubt the message was from Charles Marik and if that were true then she had a feeling she wasn't going to like its contents. Still, despite her reluctance she couldn't just ignore it. After a moment of hesitation she finally nodded and allowed the lancer to lead her to Lord Kyne's study, all the while dreading whatever it was that Charles Marik had to say...

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:27 pm

Autumn pondered his words in silence before finally speaking. "There must be some, at least a few, in your House that you trust. Maybe if we could find a way to reach out to them... We might be able to start some sort of investigation. We may even be able to persuade the Correspondence Guild to provide some secure communications to the planet..." She trailed off, unsure even if her ideas were good ones or foolish ones.

Finally, she shrugged helplessly.

**********

Benedict and Ethan stood in the study, speaking quietly as Felicity entered the room.

"Lady Sage." Benedict spoke as a greeting. "A message came addressed to you. It appears Marik must know, or at least have strong guesses, about your location."

He nodded to Ethan, who stepped forward to play the message.

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:38 am

Gaius' shoulders shrank. "I don't know if that's possible," he said, "I don't have anything to barter with for a secure channel and my brother could offer far more for information as to my whereabouts. But if I could just contact my Uncle...," he left the rest hanging in the air. "I don't suppose you know someone who works for the Guild," he asked hopefully.

**********

Felicity felt a great deal of trepidation as Ethan crossed over to the holoprojector and turned it on. There was a short burst of static followed by a hissing sound indicating an encrypted line then all of a sudden everything cleared up to reveal Charles Marik standing at attention with his hands clasped behind his back. "My Lady," he said, nodding his head ever so slightly, "I am sending you this message as a courtesy. You may have foiled my plans momentarily when you escaped from Iselia but my work is far from finished."

He stepped to the side to reveal a row of prisoners. Felicity immediately recognized the engineer who piloted the speeder that took them to safety as well as a few other faces. "I have behind me some of your followers. These people fought a hopeless battle in your name but when they realized you had abandoned them they soon gave up hope," he looked over to someone off camera and gave a quick nod.

A hail of blasterfire immediately followed cutting down each and every individual who had been standing in that line. "No," Felicity screamed, falling onto her hands and knees. Those people were counting on her and she left them to die at the hands of that monster.

"There are no more obstacles now," Charles continued, "My war on the Maldavi Sector will progress as planned. Your precious friends at House Kyne will one day pay for the part they played in the destruction of our House. Until then enjoy these fleeting moments."

Then the transmission cut abruptly and the room was filled with silence. Felicity remained where she was a moment or two longer, her hair hung over her face and her shoulders shook with sorrow. Finally her hands balled into fists and she stood. "I have a favor to ask," she said quietly, her hair still hanging down over her face obscuring Ethan and Benedict's view of her, "The objects I had with me when I first arrived, I need them back--and I'll need a ship."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Wed May 03, 2017 2:07 pm

Autumn pondered the question briefly. She knew people within the Guild that she could contact, and likely they could get the task done... But it would cost, and it would involve invoking the House Kyne name, which could be an issue. Perhaps there was a more surreptitious way.

"My close friend, Blake. He is a freelance journalist, but he must have contacts within the Guild. Let me get a hold of him and see if there is a way he can help us."

Even as she spoke, Autumn went to her private console and typed out a quick message.

Blake,

I have a matter I need your assistance with. It is of high importance and privacy. Please come to the Estate as soon as you are able, I will instruct the guard to allow you immediate entry.

-Autumn Kyne


As she finished typing, she looked back to Gaius with the best encouraging smile she could manage. "We will overcome this. I promise."

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

Ethan looked to Lord Benedict who was staring stoically at the now quieted Holoprojector. Ethan recognized the look on Benedict's face. It was the look of a man who was filled with righteous anger, ready to act and bring justified violence to bear.

Ethan simply waited.

"Get her what she needs." Benedict said finally. "Maldavi has long been filled with pettiness and needless conflict, but this is unchecked barbarism. It will not go unanswered."

"I would not be too hasty to take the battle to Marrik, my lord. He is angling for a reaction, possibly even an overreaction. Marrik has to know that he cannot stand in open warfare against multiple Houses, just as he must know that his public executions are liable to turn people against him." Ethan spoke calmly, showing very little emotion for the violence he had just witnessed. "A cautious approach may be best until he can be certain he does not have hidden resources or allies at his disposal."

Benedict did not respond, so Ethan simply bowed his head slightly. "I will fetch Lady Sage's belongings."

As Ethan left, Benedict looked to Felicity. "I am sorry for their deaths, but you must not allow yourself to feel guilty about this situation. Marrik is the one who is to blame in this situation. No one else gave that order but him. And he will pay for every drop of innocent blood shed."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Thu May 04, 2017 2:43 am

Gaius was not quite as optimistic as Autumn. After all, what could a single freelance journalist do that a Lord or a Prince could not? Still, at this moment in time he was ready to take any help that he could get if it meant not having to fend for himself out there alone. Finally he nodded. "Thank you, my Lady," he said, bowing deeply towards her to show his appreciation, "I really appreciate this. Probably more than you'll ever know."

**********

Felicity shook her head sadly. "Thank you for your kind words," she said, "but I am responsible. You know what it is that I can do. I could have stopped him with a wave of my hand but I didn't, because I was afraid of what that would mean. If I had stopped him then those people would have looked to me for leadership and I just wasn't ready... I'm not still. I just--I don't know what to do about my heritage but I do know that Charles Marik has to be stopped and I'm going to stop him. Not as Lady Sage but as a Jedi like I should have the first time we met. I can't ask you for your help in this, you've done enough for me already and this is my responsibility. I gave him the chance to kill those people so I should be the one to deal with it."

"One woman against whatever he has to defend himself with is suicide," Benedict pointed out, "No matter what powers you have you can't fight those odds."

She turned away from him and stared out the window, unconsciously sliding her hands into her pockets. He was right, maybe if she had been a fully trained Jedi she might have stood a chance, but in her current state she was still learning how to control her power. Even armed with a lightsaber she wasn't sure if she could take on an army alone. She would need help, but she couldn't ask Lord Kyne to risk his own men for her. Not after everything they had done for her. If only there were someone else she could go to. Someone with enough resources to help her defeat Charles Marik. Someone like... Her head perked up suddenly when she felt the cool metal of the medallion Ethan had given her brush against her fingers and suddenly she remembered something important he had told her.

"Maybe I don't have to fight him alone. I have friends here I haven't met yet," she said aloud and Lord Benedict gave her a puzzled look.

"What do you mean," he asked.

Felicity shook her head. "I'm sorry, I can't explain. Just promise me you won't lead an attack against Charles Marik until I return."

**********

The planet Highwind, deep within the territory of House Belmont...

Duke Richard Reyes glared at the holographic projection of the man before him. "How dare you? You come to me with these trifles and yet we are no where closer to fulfilling my goal of becoming Lord of House Belmont. I have yet to see a substantial commitment from you towards honoring our deal."

Charles Marik crossed his arms over his chest and set his jaw in a frown. "The tech upgrades we've provided were not enough? What about the cloaking technology we gave you. Surely that at least has given you an edge over your competitors."

"Maybe if you had also provided us with the original blueprints," Richard shot back irritably, "As it was it took weeks for my engineers to reverse engineer the technology well enough to replicate it let alone actually install it in our ships and now you say I have to defend you?"

Charles' expression did not change. "I expect a reaction from House Kyne soon. They already found my base of operations once, they've no doubt recorded it in their nav charts by now. After the message I sent to Lady Sage she'll have no choice but to confront me and she will no doubt bring the might of House Kyne's military with her. When she does we will meet her with a combined force. An armada that can't be seen. It'll be the last thing House Kyne expects."

"And why should I help you with this endeavor? After all you've barely helped me."

"Because, your Grace, the stories of her heritage are true. This girl possesses a power you can't even begin to fathom and I know that she can be controlled under the right circumstances."

The Duke was less than convinced. "You tried that once before, remember? It didn't work out."

"I had no idea what she was capable of back then. I won't make that same mistake twice."

"And how do you propose to control her now?"

Charles smiled viciously. "By threatening my son. The boy means little to me but a lot more to her. She would do anything to preserve his life, even topple the reigning King, Dusk Lathun. Now isn't that a prize worth fighting for? Why settle for Lord of a single House when you can be King of them all?"

That got Richard's attention. He considered that a moment but ultimately the chance to be King was too good to pass up. "Alright, you have yourself a deal. I will send an armada to Iselia to greet House Kyne and this time, Charles Marik, I better see some results."

Then he leaned forward and turned the holoprojector off. The flickering blue image of Charles Marik faded from view and the lights inside his study came back on. A second later he stood and headed towards the door. Outside his guests awaited him in the foyer below the balcony upon which he stood. He started walking down the long, winding stair to the ground floor and smiled at them as he approached.

"Princess Belmont," he said with a lavish bow upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, "I was not expecting your visit. I apologize for the wait but I had some pressing business to attend to."

Princess Saffron Belmont, daughter of Leonidas Belmont the Third gave him a look that was a mixture of boredom and irritation. She didn't like to be kept waiting and she definitely didn't like the empty platitudes of nobles. Worst of all, though, was when they treated her like a child, talking about their business like she wouldn't understand. "It's quite alright," she said finally. As much as she wanted to give this man a piece of her mind she knew that diplomatically that would be a disaster. "My father simply wishes to be updated concerning the security detail for the upcoming tournament."

As part of his duties as Duke it was Richard's responsibility to provide defense for the Lord of the House in times of need. That's how House Belmont operated. The House occupied a region of space that was too large for any one person to successfully govern alone and communications within the region were complicated by a series of spacial phenomenon that interfered with hyperlight communications and travel. To compensate House Belmont was broken up into a series of smaller fiefdoms, each of which were governed by either a Duke or a Baron depending on their size. For the most part these fiefdoms were allowed to govern themselves how they see fit, though in times of war each governor was expected to provide men and ships to the Lord of the House to present a unified defense. During times of peace, however, it was not uncommon to find minor Dukes and Barons warring amongst themselves to steal territory and increase their holdings and by extension their political rank within House Belmont. In a way this entire region of space was a smaller mirrored version of the Maldavi Sector as a whole.

"Lord Belmont could have sent a page boy for that. Why send his only daughter," Duke Reyes asked.

Saffron's cheeks flushed a bright red and she looked away. "I think you know why," she said, "I'm of a child bearing age now and you control the second largest navy within House Belmont."

Duke Reyes' eyes widened. "Your father wishes to unify his blood with mine and strengthen our ties together? I'm flattered," he was genuinely surprised. He might have felt more ecstatic if not for the fact that Lord Leonidas also had three sons which put any child his daughter might bear well outside the range of succession. Still, it was an opportunity not easily passed up. "Tell your father I will consider the proposal. In the meantime I expect you will be spending some time here?"

Saffron said nothing and kept her eyes averted. Her silence was all the answer he needed. That plus the number of servants that had accompanied her were evidence enough. "Very well, I shall have some chambers prepared for you. You will join me for dinner tonight and we will talk. For now, though, I have some more business to attend to. If you will excuse me, Princess," he said with a bow and then he headed out of the room leaving the princess alone with her servants.

Once he was gone one of the servant girls leaned in to whisper in Saffron's ear. "I think you handled that well," she said.

Saffron made a face. "He's like fifty years older than me," she complained, "I've only just turned sixteen!"

"Duke Reyes is thirty three, actually, and quite the looker. You should consider yourself lucky, Princess, it could have been worse."

Any other noble would probably have punished her for talking so freely but Bethany had become something of a close friend to Saffron. Someone she could easily confide in when everyone else was ignoring her. Still, her comment did irritate her somewhat. Bethany was a traditionalist, she might not always agree with House Belmont's customs but she was not in a position to change them so why complain? In House Belmont women were little more than bargaining chips. The men ruled the House and the women were little more than assets spent or traded amongst the men to bolster alliances or secure a strong succession. That was the fate in store for Saffron and she hated it. She wanted the option to marry for love instead like Bethany but her position as Princess denied her that.

Bethany must have sense some dark emotions brewing in Saffron's head so she reached out and gave the younger girl's hand a gentle squeeze. "It's okay, wherever you go I'll be by your side."

That was a slight comfort at least. As her personal servant Bethany was duty bound to follow her, though Saffron suspected she would follow regardless. Still it was nice to know she would always have a friend. "Thank you," she whispered quietly.

The conversation ended when a train of the Duke's servants entered the foyer and directed the Princess and her entourage to follow. They were led through the manse into some rather exquisite living chambers. Not quite as luxurious as what she was used to but comfortable enough to be tolerable. Once the servants had departed the princess had stubbornly locked herself in her room and stayed in bed throughout the rest of the day until someone finally came to fetch her for dinner...

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Tue May 09, 2017 11:27 pm

Autumn nodded slowly, then reached out, taking Gaius's head. "I wish I could do more, but at least you are safe here. Marik could not possibly match the might of the Kyne navy in direct conflict, and security around the Estate has recently been upgraded. Marik lacks the political support to demand your extradition, so he is stymied at the moment."

**********

Benedict looked quizzically at Felicity, as if trying to read her mind by virtue of a stare. When she seemed disinclined mention more, the lord turned his attention towards Ethan, who was looking equally mysterious.

Benedict's expression turned to a frown. "I feel like every time I have reached the bottom of your well of secrets there is one more to discover. You have protected my daughter in dangerous times, and have earned my trust, so I will let you have your secret. For now. Ethan will assist you in whatever arrangements you need to meet these friends of yours."

He drew a slow breath. "As for Marik... I am not planning on rushing in to battle against him. I will not attack him yet, provided he does not give me a reason to."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Fri May 12, 2017 1:18 am

That was probably the best that Felicity could ask for. She had no idea how long it would take to get to Vitaliss and all she could do was hope that Charles Marik wouldn't make a move by then. "Then I should probably go pack," she said after accepting her trinkets from Ethan. The blaster still worked and Ethan had held onto the power pack so that was at least one weapon she had. The lightsaber, on the other hand, would require some work but she was hoping that she could find a way to fix it if she managed to open the holocron. "Thank you," she said to him and he escorted her out of the Lord's quarters.

The rest of the day was spent preparing for her trip. Ethan had prepared a ship for her while Felicity gathered her meager belongings. Ossica accompanied her on the shuttle, partly because she wasn't sure if she should leave him here by himself and partly because she would need someone with knowledge of the Itthi and she hoped Ossica was it. She said a quick goodbye to Autumn and Gaius before finally leaving sometime in the morning the very next day. Felicity had been very vague about where she was going and what she was doing despite Autumn's inquiries. She didn't want to dredge up old memories of the past few weeks so she refrained from mentioning anything having to do with Charles Marik.

Blake, meanwhile, showed up at the estate some time in the afternoon and was permitted entry per Autumn's instructions. He was led through the halls of Kyne Estate to a small greeting room by one of the servants. Upon entering he was surprised to see Prince Gaius standing next to Autumn and almost immediately he gave the younger man a suspicious look.

"Hi, Autumn, pleasure to see you. Gaius," he said locking eyes with the man and deliberately neglecting to address him with the title 'Prince'. That seemed to irk Gaius somewhat but he let it slide. "So what is this urgent matter you need my help with?"

**********

Felicity groaned inwardly then fell onto her back in frustration. She had been sitting cross legged on the floor for the better part of an hour trying to open the holocron and nothing worked. She had hoped that now that she knew it had to be opened with the Force that it would be easy but there was still something she was missing. "I don't understand, what am I doing wrong," she asked aloud.

Ossica, who had been watching her for the last ten minutes shook his head. "I couldn't say, my Lady. That strange box did not come from Maldavi."

Felicity smiled a bit then pulled herself up into a sitting position. "I'm sorry, Ossica, that was rhetorical," she said, "I'm supposed to use my power to open it but I still don't know how."

"Then you should take a break, yes? Refresh your mind."

Ossica had a point, she'd been at this for a pretty long time. "Alright," she said, getting up and coming over to sit at the table across from him. Ossica had a plate of refreshments waiting for her and something sweet to drink. It was at that moment that Felicity realized just how spoiled they were making her.

"You know, I can still do some of this stuff on my own."

"Of course you can," he said, pouring her a glass of wine and then handing it to her.

Felicity stared at him with her arms crossed. "I'm serious," she insisted, "I'm eighteen, I'm an adult now. I don't need people waiting on me hand and foot."

"Very well," Ossica said, placing the glass on the table in front of her when she didn't immediately take it.

Now Felicity began to feel bad. "I didn't mean it like that," she said, "It's just I don't...," she stopped suddenly and reconsidered what she was about to say. "You know what, I think I'm just going to stop talking now before I make things worse."

She took a bit of some of the various meats and cheeses then washed it down with some of the wine. "Anyway," she continued, speaking around a mouthful of meat and wine, "I guess I should probably know more about where we're going."

She took another sip of the wine then swallowed. "Rilan never told me much about Itthi other than that they were very secretive. What do you know about the person I'm about to meet?"

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Thu May 18, 2017 3:04 pm

Autumn graced Blake with a quick, and perhaps a touch too informal, hug. Here, in the privacy of her chambers, it was easy to let guard down just a touch, and take those sort of liberties she would not be able to take in front of an audience.

"Thank you for coming, Blake. I- we need your help with something." She moved over to a small study desk, where some notes were, written by both Autumn and Gaius. Mostly, the notes contained names that Gaius had come up with of possible loyal people within the Ducant power structure.

"You, of course, must know of what's going on in House Ducant. Gaius has been falsely accused of patricide, and until he clears his name, he is a fugitive. House Kyne cannot officially get involved, not until these allegations have been laid to rest. Unfortunately, to do this will require secure communications into Ducant territory. This may require some... discreet contact with the Correspondence Guild. Would you be able to make such arrangements?"

*********

Ossica nodded jerkily to her comment. It was obvious that the gesture did not come naturally to the Messryn people.
"Secretive, yes. They are private and reclusive, and one of the smallest Houses. Despite having one of the smallest armies and navy, there are few of the larger Houses that are willing to risk conflict with them because of the effectiveness of their infiltrators, yes."

The Messryn, who had been hovering over Felicity like a servant finally took a seat at the table. It was just the two of them on the small shuttle, devoid of any House Kyne markings or identifiers. Ossica was a competent enough of a pilot to manage the shuttle without a dedicated pilot, making it easier to Felicity to have her secrecy in her endeavor. It also gave House Kyne a bit more of deniability in case Felicity was in over her head, making for a win-win.

"As for who specifically we will be meeting... this I do not know, yes. But, we will receive a warm welcome, of that I am sure. The Ithhi have been a friend to the Messryn people for generations. They have taken in many of my people, and help many more quietly. They do not make any official connections with the Messryn, as that would only sow seeds of distrust against the Messryn."

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

-------Tantarius, Royal Capitol---------

The Archlord Borrocor was unaccustomed to waiting, which, of course, was exactly what they had him doing. He understood well every nuance of it; it was a power game, designed to demonstrate that House Lathun had power over all, as the Royal House, and they could make him wait if they wanted to.

Naturally, Farrid was not so amateurish as to reveal how irritated he was to be waiting on some low level bureaucrat to get done with his lunch break. In contented himself with instead coming up with a disturbingly detailed list of the tortures and the punishments he would unleash on the various members of House Lathun when opportunity presented itself.

And the opportunity will present itself. Sooner or later.

The door to the lavish office he had been waiting in finally opened, revealing a gawkishly tall man who entered the room with a gold and black suit hanging off of his thin frame.

"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, Archlord Borrocor." The man was Cedrick Lathun IV, one of the more distant cousins to the Royal family who still bore the royal name. "These are hectic times for the Registry and there were several matters that I simply could not have put on hold."

Farrid managed an efforted smile. "Of course." I will cut off your arms and put them where your legs are so you will have to walk on your hands.

Cedrick took his seat behind the unnecessarily large desk. "Now, what can I help you with?"

"I should very much like to file a dispute regarding a trifle of a world which I believe, in past generations, belonged to House Borrocor. As you know, under the Usurpation Act, planets that did not have a proof of Rightful Demesne by the holding party were supposed to be returned to their original owners under the provisions of the Act."

Cedrick managed to look a combination of imperious, irritated and awkward all at once. "Yes, I am well aware of the provisions of the Usurpation Act. Has this matter already been negotiated by the current owner?"

Farrid gave a fractional shrug. "I am not entirely sure of the owner, actually. I found this planet on old Borrocor starcharts, and now I am trying to determine rightful ownership."

It obviously pained Cedrick to have to engage any further with this topic, but he managed to muster the energy to lean forward and activate his computer terminal. "What is the name of the planet?"

"Jullisse."

Cedrick typed a few things and suddenly the information of the world sprang up next to a holographic image of the world. "Ownership is claimed by House Kyne. It was validated 13 years after the Act was put in to place."

Farrid arched his eyebrows, as though slightly surprised. In truth, the bribe he had placed to make certain minor changes to the registry guaranteed he was not in the least surprised. The changes had to be small, so as not to illicit any sort of audit, but they should be enough to cause the doubt he needed. "I see. So there is no data on ownership prior to that?"

Cedrick shook his head. "No. Perhaps it had not been colonized. Or perhaps it had been colonized long before the formalized registry."

"Well, I should very much like to contest this world as rightfully belonging to House Borrocor, then. I have evidence of ownership, and if House Kyne does not have any documentation of how they acquired it, then it should rightfully be returned to us under the Usurpation Act."

This was enough to actually get something of a reaction out of Cedrick: a look of mild surprise. Such contests were perhaps not uncommon, but there were usually a precursor to larger conflicts. He seemed inclined to ask more about the situation momentarily, but then decided it wasn't worth his worry.

"Very well. I will draw up the papers. Would you like any further witnesses summoned?"

The Archlord thought briefly. "Perhaps Lord Ducant and Lady Gavnei. Houses Ducant and Gavnei are close enough to the region that their old records may reveal some information."

Cedrick nodded. "I will issue summons to those parties then, for one week's time."

Farrid managed another smile. "Thank you so very much."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Fri May 26, 2017 2:24 am

"I can, but Autumn...," Blake stopped suddenly and glanced over at Gaius who had the appearance of a frightened little lamb. Then he placed his hand on the back of Autumn's shoulder and gently urged her to move a few steps further from the Prince. "How do you know he was falsely accused? Is he able to prove it?"

Autumn looked at him in shock. "How could you ask that? Gaius is my friend!"

"Friend or not I've learned to never judge a situation until I have all the facts," he said.

Still Autumn stood her ground. "I trust that what he says is the truth."

Blake stared at her then looked back at Gaius and slowly shook his head. "Alright fine," he answered finally, "Look, I don't know a lot about what's happening in House Ducant. There have been reports of rioting, peaceful demonstrations suddenly turning violent and someone from the House Anson side of the family publicly came out and denounced Lord Leland Ducant. It was your Uncle, I believe," he said, looking right at Gaius, "Said he had evidence to suggest Leland usurped his father's house."

"He can prove that Leland killed my father," Gaius asked, his expression becoming suddenly hopeful.

Blake just shook his head. "All he said was that he had evidence, he didn't specify what that was. It might not even exist, he could just be saying it to incite rebellion."

He fell silent for a moment as he thought about the situation. "I can contact some people I know in the guild and maybe we can pull something together, but I'm going to need at least a week to set it up, maybe more and Autumn--it's not going to be cheap."

Gaius was shocked. "What?! But we called you here because we don't have the money!"

"I'm sorry," Blake said with a shrug, "I get my info from the guild by doing favors. I can't afford it either but I'm pretty good at digging up secrets, that's how I pay for it but for something like this--a direct line from here to your Uncle? That's going to take something special."

**********

Late that afternoon there was a knock on Benedict's chambers. When the Lord bid him to enter a lowly security officer walked in carrying a small holoprojector. Both Ethan and Lord Benedict were seated by the window and appeared to be pouring over some reports when the security officer walked up to them.

"I'm sorry for the interruption, my Lord, but I have something you need to see," he said and he held out the holoprojector towards them.

Benedict cast a quick glance at Ethan then finally nodded to the officer. The young man placed the projector down on the table and turned it on. Immediately an image appeared above it of a young girl standing alone in a hallway. Both Benedict and Ethan recognized the girl as Felicity. As the image continued to play it seemed she was having a heated discussion with someone but there was no one there. Then the guard who had just entered Benedict's chambers appeared in the image and addressed Felicity.

"Why are you showing me this," Benedict asked irritably, seeing nothing in the video that he should be too overly concerned about.

"Sorry, my Lord, but that's not what I wanted you to see. This is," he said, rewinding the video and then letting it play again. After a moment he paused it then began to advance it frame by frame. At first there was nothing then all of a sudden a ghostly image of a man appeared just briefly before disappearing again. The security officer quickly rewound back to the frame that the man was visible in.

"When was this taken," Benedict asked, staring at the man's face but not recognizing him.

"Yesterday, my Lord. I'm sorry for not coming to you with this sooner but I had to be sure."

Ethan gave him a curious look. "Sure of what?"

The security officer took a datapad out of his jacket pocket and set it down on the table between them. On the screen was an image of a man, the same man who had appeared for half a second in the video, but perhaps most shocking of all was the man's name. "I ran facial recognition algorithms on this image and kept coming back with the same result. At first I thought it was broken but then I dug a little deeper and it's true, it's him. I don't know how else to say it, my Lord, but it appears Lady Felicity has been talking to the ghost of the Usurper, Marcus Sage."

**********

"Here," Charles Marik said as he pointed towards a starmap of House Kyne territory that he'd been leaning over. "That should be sufficient enough to elicit a reaction."

The young officer he'd been speaking to gave him a confused look. "I don't understand, my Lord, wasn't the message you sent supposed to accomplish just that?"

Charles shook his head and straightened up. "If there's one thing I've learned in all my years of command it's to always make plans for redundancies. My last encounter with Lady Sage has proven to me that I underestimated her. I will not run the risk of overestimating her as well. However, if she still doesn't take the bait then at the very least we can lure House Kyne into a trap and weaken her ally. By the time Lord Benedict mobilizes his fleet Duke Reyes will be here and ready to meet them."

The officer looked at the map in front of him. "You want us to attack this outpost," he asked.

"Take two ships," Charles told him as he moved behind his desk and sat down, "With their stealth capabilities two should suffice. The rest of the vanguard will remain here."

The officer nodded, then bowed and turned to leave.

"Oh and, Leone," Charles said suddenly, stopping the other man in his tracks, "leave no survivors..."

**********

Felicity chewed idly as she listened to Ossica's report. When he had mentioned that House Itthi had the smallest navy her heart briefly sank. They were one of the weakest Houses and she was about to ask them to go to war for her. Then he said something about infiltrators and that perked her ears up. She waited for Ossica to finish speaking though before she addressed him.

"Are House Itthi's infiltrators really so scary that the other Houses leave them alone," she asked her tone sounding hopeful.

"I cannot tell you much simply because I do not know, but House Itthi's reputation is well earned, yes?"

That made Felicity smile. If House Itthi's spies were as good as he said then maybe she would be able to end this without bloodshed. "You know a lot about Iselia's defenses, right?"

"Some," Ossica said simply.

Felicity's smile faded somewhat but didn't dim entirely. "Well, I suppose we'll make due. Between the two of us we should be able to come up with a plan."

The ship rocked sharply then as it came out of hyperspace. Both Ossica and Felicity shared glances before getting up and rushing to the cockpit. Ossica had gotten there first as Felicity had stopped momentarily to summon the holocron to her hand. She had set it down on the table when one of the corners fell off. She stared at it in disbelief then picked up the cube in her hand again. Did that happen just now?

She closed her eyes and directed her power at the cube again, this time focused on moving the corners. She didn't get very far, though, before Ossica's shout of alarm disrupted her concentration. She opened her eyes again to find the other seven corners had indeed moved, but Ossica was calling to her from the bridge. She had started to run over to him when the ship shook again. Someone had a tractor lock on them. Felicity had made it to the bridge just in time to see a massive ship floating out in space in front of them.

The ship bore the markings of House Itthi. While they were still some distance away from the capital they had managed to cross over into Itthi territory. Flying an unmarked ship, however, they probably looked like bandits or refugees. Felicity tried her best to swallow the lump in her throat as she and Ossica watched their ship get pulled aboard the Itthi vessel. Once they were secure they both moved to the boarding ramp. Rather than wait for House Itthi's soldiers to force their way in Ossica lowered the ramp and permitted them entry.

Several armed soldiers rushed on board and surrounded them. A team of three swept the ship from stem to stern before reporting it was all clear. Once that was done an officer appeared at the bottom of the ramp and walked towards them. One of the soldiers handed the officer the remains of Felicity's lightsaber and her blaster, which had been sitting on the nightstand by her bed. The Officer looked at them then up at Felicity and her companion.

"Who are you," he asked and Felicity responded by holding up the medallion Ethan had given her.

"My name is Felicity Sage," she told him, "I'm here to ask for your help."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Tue May 30, 2017 8:16 am

"I can provide financial backing." Autumn spoke with just a touch of an edge to her voice. She was still steaming slightly at Blake's insinuation of Gaius's deception. Perhaps it was just a little closer to the truth then she cared to admit, but it hardly mattered, because she had made her decision to trust Gaius, and she that was just what she was going to do.

"I know that House Kyne has funds set aside for clandestine uses, untraceable back to the House. Ethan will now how to access it, I am sure he can tell me how to use it. If I provide money, would you be able to arrange direct communication with Gaius's uncle?"

******

Benedict stared hard at the images cast by the projector, deep in thought.

"You are confident that what we are looking at is no trick or malfunction?" He asked the officer, who gave a brief nod.

"Yes, my lord. As confident as I can be, given how unbelievable the sight is."

Bendict returned the man's nod. "You have done well. Please keep this matter to yourself until we are sure what it is that we are dealing with. I do not wish to have rumors spreading that there are ghosts within the Estate. Understood?"

"Yes, my lord. Thank you."

"Dismissed."

Benedict waited for the officer to leave before turning his attention towards Ethan. "Did you ever believe the old stories of House Sage to be true?"

Ethan offered a slight shrug. "There are mysteries in the universe I could not begin to fathom, my lord, so it is difficult to offer an opinion. However, such stories are not treated as myth by all of the other Houses. I know that House Itthi especially has a very strong belief in the spiritual and mystical. I would suggest at this time, however, we should not make this a focus. If this is some sort of hoax, then we would be wise to ignore it. If it is legitimate, this ghost has appeared only to Lady Sage, and as such may be a waste of time to attempt to pursue it."

Benedict exhaled slowly, considering this, and then nodded. "I suppose there is wisdom to that. We shall have to speak to Lady Sage when she returns from her secretive business. I hope I am not being naive to put my trust in one so young and inexperienced."

"I believe you can trust her intentions. She may be inexperienced, but perhaps that inexperience in the field of politics she why she can be trusted."

"I hope your right. Now, let us focus on other tasks."

"As you wish."

**********

The Itthi had an aura of mystery and intimidation that they wore about them, much like their black cloaks, which swirled about them with every graceful step. The soldiers wore modern looking black and violet uniforms but had very old world cloaks and even ornate rapiers at their side. It was a testament of the itthi mindset: steeped in tradition but not afraid of embracing modernization.

The officer in front of Felicity eyed the medallion carefully, but made a deliberate point of not asking for it or trying to reach for it. "Follow me." He spoke simply, and turned to lead them off of their ship on to the Itthi cruiser.

The trip was silent, a stoically conducted tour through the hallways of the war vessel. Any crew members they ran across immediately cleared their path without comment or questions, although there were no shortages of curious looks for the attractive young lady and her Messryn companion.

They reached their destination, a door marked simply "Commandant".

"Commandant Sansceer will hear your request." The officer said as he stepped to the side of the door. He seemed on the verge of asking a question or adding a further comment, but refrained. Instead, he simply opened the door, beckoning her to enter.

Felicity and Ossica entered the office, a small but comfortable affair consisting of a desk and a few chairs, a large viewport showing the panorama of the Itthi system, and a middle aged woman bearing an armband signifying her rank of Commandant.

Commandant Sansceer closed down her computer console as the two entered, dark blue eyes keenly tracking them as they entered.

"I must say, I am unaccustomed to guests on board my ship. And ones claiming to be of a long dormant bloodline." She spoke directly, but not with any intended disrespect. "You will forgive me if I ask for some manner of verification that you are who you say you are."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:50 am

Blake sighed a bit before answering. "I can try, Autumn, but these things are never a guarantee. The Guild spends all their time talking about freedom of the press and of the people but you know as well as I that they're as corrupt as the nobility," he said and when he saw the irritated look in Autumn's eyes he quickly corrected himself, "Some of the nobility, I mean. Besides, if I go in there trying to secure a direct line to Gaius' Uncle my contact's going to want to know why. If he even suspects I'm doing it on behalf of the lost Prince then he could very easily just negotiate a higher price with his brother and it wouldn't take him long to trace Gaius back here."

"So if the whole thing's pointless then why did we even contact you," Gaius asked irritably, he too was annoyed by Blake's earlier implication and the notion that everyone of noble birth was corrupt.

"I didn't say it was pointless," Blake answered him plaintively, "All I'm saying is you might be going about this the wrong way. Instead of trying to contact your Uncle maybe you should focus on finding the assassin. Prince Leland didn't kill your father himself, did he?"

Gaius shook his head. "Well, no. He had someone else do it."

"Then that's good. That means there's a trail and we can find it."

When he saw their blank stares he explained even further. "There's a place people can go. A location sponsored by the Guild. Supposedly it's a great place to be if you're planning to have a clandestine meeting of some kind. If Leland had met with an assassin to plan his father's death then that's where he would have done it."

**********

Felicity hesitated momentarily then glanced up at Ossica. She doubted the other woman would simply take the word of a Messryn without any physical proof but what else could she possibly do. "I--I don't know if I have anything like that," she said finally and the other woman shook her head sadly.

"Then I'm afraid we can't help you." She started to reach for the comm device on her desk to call her security officer back in here when Felicity stopped her.

"No wait," she said quickly, "It's about Charles Marik! I need your help to take him down!"

The other woman stopped mid motion then placed both her hands on her desk. "As noble a goal as that is without proof you are who you say you are I can only assume this is some sort of trap."

"But it's not, I swear!"

"I'm sorry," she said, "I'll have my men escort you back to your ship."

Then she pressed a switch on her desk and the door behind them opened up as several security officers came back into the room. With no other option and her mind scrambling for ideas Felicity could do nothing more than turn and politely obey. She made it about three steps towards the door when finally she stopped.

"Wait," she said quietly, a note of trepidation in her voice, "There is one thing I can show you."

She closed her eyes and focused her attention on the environment around her. She hoped even without physical proof of her identity that maybe a demonstration of her power might work as it did before with Lord Benedict Kyne. However, unlike before she knew she was going to need something more than just the simple action of lifting a lamp so as she reached out with the Force she tried to lift as much as she could. At first there was nothing and it felt like the girl was only wasting her time then all of a sudden everything in the room that wasn't bolted down began to gradually lift itself into the air. Even Ossica and the security officers surrounding her were lifted, much to the astonishment of all. Felicity held them there for as long as she could, a bead of sweat trickling down her forehead until finally she gradually lowered them to the ground and let go, albeit a bit prematurely as some objects clattered back to the surfaces upon which they were resting...

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:37 pm

Autumn frowned for a moment, thinking of what Blake was saying. "If you mean Finslough, surely that would be a dead end, right? If even half of the rumors about the place are true, it is supposed to be a place designed to protect the identities of those who use it."

Even as she said it, though, Autumn doubted it was true. She suspected the Guild was much more aware of the "secrets" that were exchanged within their purview. Maybe it was possible to find those secrets, but the cost... who could pay the cost that they would ask for something of that magnitude?

Mentally, Autumn shook her head. One step at a time.

"Assuming that we could somehow track down this information and pay the price for it, who would do this task?" She looked to Gaius. "You would have to go incognito, as you are a fugitive. My father would never allow me to engage in such clandestine work, and Blake... Well, you have your own responsibilities, I am sure.."

*****

"Kheima moesstehk." The Commandant was on her feet, the words escaping her mouth belonging to the Old Tongue, seldom spoken in these days. "You are a sorceress!" Her words finally found their way out in Basic.

The guards around snapped into readiness, but Sansceer waved them away. "Stand down. If she intended harm, it would have already been lain on us." Slowly, the officers returned to their previous stations and the Commandant took her seat again.

There was a brief and silent pause that fell, just long enough for Sansceer to eye Felicity with equal parts scrutiny and wonder.

"Lady Sage. Please allow me to apologize for any embarrassment this ordeal may have put you through. Words are easily spoken and I had no desire to be played the fool by a charlatan. I will convey you to Vitaliss with all possible haste, but if perhaps you could tell me the nature of your visit, we could be better prepared to receive you. You mentioned needing help?"

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:13 am

Blake shook his head. "We would need more than just the three of us," he said, "I have no money, Gaius has no House and your father isn't going to bankroll such an operation on a hunch. Our only option then is to try and steal it... Assuming it actually exists."

He glanced at Gaius and could feel Autumn's gaze on him. A poor choice of words that was so he corrected himself. "If it's there, I mean. It's entirely possible Leland met with his assassin somewhere else."

**********

Felicity was relieved that her little display had worked. Enlisting the aid of the Itthi with their skill in infiltration could go a long way towards minimizing casualties when she finally takes the fight to Charles. She glanced up at Ossica then back at Sansceer. "I came to ask your help in deposing Charles Marik," she said.

"So you wish to retake your birthright," Sansceer asked and Felicity faltered.

"Well, um... No, I haven't really... I don't know yet," she finished finally then she shook her head, "But that's not important right now. What's important is that Charles Marik is hurting people and he needs to be stopped, but the people who are helping him--they're only following orders. I want to stop Charles but I don't want anyone else to get hurt."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:35 pm

Autumn sighed lightly, desperately wishing she could bring in the help of Ethan or someone who was more knowledgeable in such dealings.

"Maybe..." She started slowly an idea formulating suddenly. "Maybe there is a way my father would bankroll this without realizing it. I could get an entourage together, both of you included as well as a few trusted agents, all under the guise of a diplomatic mission to any number of political targets. Once we have departed, we will change course to Finslough and conduct our investigation. I will make sure the crew stays silent about the matter to my father until an appropriate time."

Autumn looked back and forth between the two of them, sensing hesitation on both their parts. "I know it is risky and difficult, but I really do not have a better plan."

********
Commandant Sansceer gazed at Felicity a long while without speaking, almost to be the point of awkwardness. She was one who had been trained in the traditions of her people, old enough to have seen the ebb and flow legends and beliefs especially where House Sage was concerned. She wasn't quite sure what to think about the young woman in front of her who claimed to be the legacy of the House while at the same time denying any intention of claiming that legacy.

I suppose it is not my place to cast such judgments anyway.

"I think you will find a sympathetic ear in Lord Itthi. Charles Marik has not ingratiated himself to many, and certainly not to Lord Itthi. We will convey you to him soon, though I would caution you, if you have any ill intent, you will find that the Itthi protect their own with a passion and a love you will not find in other Houses."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:32 am

Gathering the entourage and convincing her father took some doing but eventually Autumn was able to put her plan into action. Officially they were on an diplomatic mission to House Vanray to oversee a shipment of new vessels to bolster House Kyne's First Fleet. Unofficially, of course, they were on a mission to discover the truth of Leland Ducant's rise to power. The mission required them to be discreet so both Gaius and Autumn would have to wear disguises before they reroute to Finslough.

For the most part Gaius kept to himself away from the others while on the ship. He would never admit it to himself but he couldn't help but notice that Autumn's closeness with Blake was making him jealous. When he first met the other man he immediately didn't like him though in hindsight that might have been simply because of the trust Autumn placed in him. When she needed some help she immediately thought of Blake and Gaius wasn't sure if there was anyone who would feel like that towards himself. Then there was of course the way he talked to her and the way she talked to him. It went beyond noble and commoner, there was actual friendship there which he never had. Not even with his own peers.

From his spot at the window he could make out the reflection of Autumn and Blake quiet conversing behind him and that familiar twinge of jealous began to spark again. Blake spared a glance in his direction then leaned in closer towards Autumn.

"Gotta admit," he said, "I didn't think you'd be able to pull one over on your Dad. He seems pretty shrewd."

He stopped then and looked at the other individuals who made up their small retinue. "So what's the plan when we get to Finslough? You think these guys can help us get in without getting noticed?"

**********

Felicity spent most of the trip alone--or rather as alone as she could manage. Ossica was her constant companion on board the Itthi ship but he was courteous enough to give her some space when she needed it. Being on board the Itthi warship was somehow worse than being back on Oridin at the Kyne Estate. Here people looked at her with a mixture of awe and suspicion where as most of the people she met elsewhere regarded her with fear. There was a deeper connection between House Sage and House Itthi and Felicity could see it in the way people reacted to her.

A little orphan child on a backwater planet grows up to become Lady of a House and bravely leads men into battle. It sounded like all the stories she grew up reading about in her spare time while working at the shop except it was her story and she still hadn't quite figured out how she felt about that. She grew up with delusions of grandeur, always picturing herself as the conquering hero with legions of adoring fans. Then Ren Corso had told her that such desires were a path towards the dark side, she hadn't really believed him or put much stock in his warning until she encountered the dark side first hand. The chill she felt during her first meeting with Kylo Ren stuck with her long after her escape and that fear was the reason for her hesitation now. Power always comes with a price and Felicity wasn't sure she was able or willing to make the sacrifices to pay that price.

"It's time," a voice said suddenly, filling the dark room as Felicity meditated over the cube.

With a sigh she stood and picked up the holocron before shoving it back into her pocket. Finally she turned to look at the man who came to fetch her and silently nodded. He led her through the ship, down the boarding ramp and onto the tarmac of House Itthi's private landing field. An entourage awaited them, the finest honor guard House Itthi had to offer. Both Felicity and Ossica were led into the manse of House Itthi's Lord. On either side servants and nobles alike bowed respectfully to the Lady of House Sage. Felicity had tried her best to ignore them until finally she and Ossica were brought before the Lord of House Itthi himself.

Felicity resisted the urge to swallow the lump in her throat as she and Ossica were announced to the Lord. She had never come to ask for help from such a powerful man before and that certainly carried a weight to it. When she was called forward by the Lord to speak to him directly she bravely took a step forward and then bowed.

"My Lord," she said as respectfully as she could, "I've come to beg your assistance in deposing Charles Marik and ending his reign of terror."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:07 pm

Autumn gave a fractional shrug. "In all honesty, I do not expect my deception with my father will last, but it got us off of the ground, and that is all that matters." She had been quite surprised it had worked herself. Even Ethan had seemed a little distracted, to the point of not questioning her too much on her requisitions for her "mission".

She drew a deep breath before responding to his question. "I do not know. This... field work, while quite intriguing to me, has never been an area of practice for me. I am relying on the experience and abilities of those in my staff." Autumn looked around at her retinue, consisting of a mixture of Lancers and Kyne Intelligence Officers. They were all well versed in this sort of field craft, much more so than Autumn was.

"I am hoping that you will be able to use your connections with the Guild to at least get us some basic information of anyone who might have come from House Ducant prior to the murder. Maybe it is a long shot, but if we can get one piece of the puzzle, maybe we can start digging deeper." Her voice was an odd mixture of hope and pessimism. "The information has to be out there."

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

The audience chamber for House Itthi was massive, but remarkably sparse. Large windows looked out over the beloved mountains of their home while marge murals depicting other moutains and crags graced the interior walls.

It was here that the Lord Itthi met them, his hands folded in his robe as they were escorted in. His eyes gazed keenly on Felicity before slowly smiling and crossing over to her. "How lovely to see you, my dear. Simply lovely." If having the Lord of House Itthi speak in such a familiar tone was at all awkward, then he managed to compound the issue closing the distance further, embracing her.

"I had long thought House Sage scattered and destroyed, but I hoped... we all hoped that one day the House would rise again." He spoke after their embrace went on just a little longer than it probably should have and he had released her. Again, his eyes sought to pierce her, but in the depths of his smoky blue eyes there was a glint of light and warmth.

"Tonight we will have a banquet in your honor. It is not often I am enthusiastic about having company at my home, but I am eager to have a member of House Sage walk the halls of this palace once again, adding their wisdom and vibrancy to all they meet." He spoke as if he had already forgotten what it was she had requested.

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:58 am

Blake watched her for almost a full minute before answering. It was so uncharacteristic of her to be so concerned about another noble. For as long as he had known her Autumn had only shown indifference to the other nobles her age if not outright disdain. He cast a glance over his shoulder at Gaius standing by the window and wondered what was so different about him. Why would she care about this one noble over all the others?

"Well, no time like the present to get started," he said aloud finally, then he stood, "I'm going to get in contact with a friend of mine and see if he can open up some doors for us at Finslough."

He left the room then in search of some privacy, leaving Gaius and Autumn alone for the moment. Autumn watched Gaius from behind for a moment before getting up and walking over to stand next to him.

"I'm not very good at this," he admitted, "I wasn't really all that great back then, either. I'm only here right now because your lancers were there to protect me. If you weren't there I would have died along with the rest of House Rosario, but you were there and we both survived. I got to live long enough to watch my sister die, to be framed for my father's murder at the hands of my own brother and to watch my House--my home be torn asunder by two opposing forces."

He shifted his weight so he was no longer leaning against the bulkhead and turned to look her in the eye. "I thought my brother capable of many things but never could I have imagined...," he left the rest hanging in the air, unable to finish it.

**********

Felicity shared an uncertain look with Ossica then turned to look back at the Lord of House Itthi. "My Lord, I appreciate the offer, but I have to decline. The urgency of my mission--," she tried to explain but Lord Itthi interrupted her by placing a hand around her shoulder and directing her towards one of the exits.

"Worry not, my dear, there will be time for that later," he said and then he motioned for his chamberlain.

Felicity had tried to raise another objection but before she could even get a word in she found herself being led from the room to one of the guest chambers where she would be allowed to prepare for tonight's ball. The maid servants that had been assigned to her had made such a fuss over her hair, her clothes, her everything that she barely had time to think of anything else. Everything since then had happened so fast she could barely keep track of it. She vaguely remembered objecting to the ball at one point but then the Lord Itthi had waved her concerns away with the promise that there would be plenty of time. Felicity had been unsure of that but regardless she still ended up in the midst of an extravagantly decorated ballroom surrounded by nobles and a few wealthy commoners all trying to get a good look at her.

Lord Itthi's Chamberlain had made sure the maidservants were properly instructed to prepare her and her retainer, Ossica, for the ball but no matter how much they had insisted Felicity had refused to wear a gown. Instead she wore a black high collared shirt, tight fitting slacks, a pair of black boots with a slight heel to them and in a half-hearted attempt to make it all seem somewhat formal she even threw in a black cape. Though she did find that the cape tended to wrap itself around her legs at times which she found annoying. Both the maidservants who were assigned to help her were disappointed by her choice in clothing and even missed out on the opportunity to style her hair as Felicity had insisted that just brushing it was fine. Now in a sea of men and women all wearing colorful suits and gowns she couldn't help but feel like she stuck out.

"I'm no good at these things," she whispered to Ossica who stood nearby, dressed in a fancy tuxedo for the event and quite possibly blending in even better than she did. "And this is really weird," she added when she caught a pair of nobles staring at her. She gave them a nervous wave and the pair immediately tried to make it look like they were staring at something else.

"I keep expecting something terrible to happen," she continued as she let her hand drop back to her side, "The last time I went to one of these a whole city burned down."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Xalsin » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:08 pm

Autumn stood close to Gaius, perhaps just a shade closer than what would have been considered proper. "I... I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of what you are feeling." The Kyne heiress paused a breath, long enough to shake her head faintly. "I can think back on the countless stories I have heard of betrayals and murders among the Houses, and yet I never thought I would see it so close as the family of a neighboring House. I thought it would be the Borrocors and Lathuns of the galaxy that would tear themselves apart, but never... " She trailed off, suddenly feeling awkward. "I am sorry. I just hope I can actually help."

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

"I think you will find these events to be more pleasant in Itthi hands, yes. You are among friends, and none but the friends of the Itthi would be invited into this hall tonight. None but the friends of the Itthi would dare come here tonight."

There was evidence that Ossica's words rang true. The very atmosphere of the gathering, though still formal, though still noble, carried with it a slightly more relaxed and warm note. Even to Felicity's untrained eye, it was apparent that the attendees here were all well acquainted, making it feel more like a family gathering than a formal occasion. Indeed, it was not uncommon to hear a small, albeit contained, burst of laughter from here or there in the group, a sound that was not often shared in noble gatherings.

The crowd was relatively small, and, if the choice of colors was any judge, made up of predominantly Itthi nobles, though a few other Houses had minimal representation there. They assembled in the Great Hall, waiting for the banquet to be prepared, exchanging conversation and pleasantries. The majority of the crowd gave Felicity with a distant, but polite, regard, content to watch her, but unsure of whether or not to approach her. She was new, and her garb was unique as well, making her stand out more in the crowd. And while she began the topic of many a quiet side conversation, there were none who would not give her a smile or a welcoming raise of their glass if they drew her eye.

"You are the Lady Sage, are you not?" The man who stepped in front of her wore Itthi formal robes, adorned with depictions of a sharp toothed rat. He could not have been much more than a year or two her senior, if even that, and had a slick of black hair over top dark brown eyes which danced with the light of mischief. "If I may introduce myself. My name is Gestten Vyk Itthi. You will forgive me for speaking so forthright, but when I heard the tales of you, somehow they did not mention your ravishing beauty. I understand that you are the sole survivor of your House, which means you will need many children to rebuild your House. To that end, I have a proposition for you."

Beside Felicity, Ossica's hand came to rest of the hilt of the ceremonial sword he wore at his side. "Show some respect, rake, you address the rightful Lady of a Noble House." The Messryn glanced briefly at Felicity. "Give the word, my Lady, and I will serve you his carved tongue on a plate."

Gestten blanched slightly at Ossica's forceful response, and quickly held up a hand. "My Lady, I meant only to make you smile, I did not mean any malice or disrespect. Ask any one in this room, and they will tell you I think quickly but speak even faster."

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Re: Concord's End: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Pryde » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:06 am

Felicity stared wide eyed at Ossica. "You wouldn't actually--," she started then she shook her head. "Of course you would, what am I thinking," she corrected herself. Cutting out someone's tongue for saying something inappropriate to a noble wasn't actually something that would happen back in Republic space but here... Here it probably happened a lot.

She sighed and looked up at Gestten. The man was nearly a foot taller than her and did not seem to carry himself with the confidence and swagger befitting of a warrior. In fact, the way he blanched at Ossica's words suggested he had little or no combat ability. Not that Felicity felt threatened by him in any way.

"Listen, um... Gestten, was it," she asked and he nodded, "I'm not really very interested in any kind of--'rebuilding' but I appreciate the offer."

The comment sounded stupid in her head even as she was saying it. "And please, call me Felicity," she continued, "I'm not comfortable with all this 'my Lady' stuff."

**********

The rest of the trip to Finslough was fairly uneventful. The three friends spent most of that time in quiet conversation. Some of which was spent discussing their plans for when they landed on Finslough though for the most part they talked about the various goings on in the Sector and of happier times to help distract Gaius from the urgency of his predicament. Honestly, Gaius didn't even want to think about his situation and he appreciated Autumn's and Blake's attempts to distract him from it, but eventually they arrived at Finslough and it was time to get to work. Blake disembarked the ship first to meet with his contact and when he returned he had some good news for them.

"I've got a meeting setup with someone who might be able to help us," he told them.

There was something in his expression that didn't sit right with Gaius so he asked him about it. "What's wrong?" He said, "You don't look happy."

"This isn't exactly the safest place for us to be right now and none of these guild types can be completely trusted. This guy might have the information we're looking for or he might be able to point us in the right direction but either way the price he asks for might not be worth it."

"If it's money he wants I'll gladly pay it once I have my House back," Gaius told him confidently and Blake shook his head.

"No, you need to stay here. These guys are just as likely to sell you out than help you."

"Then who's going to accompany you to the meeting," Gaius asked in an incredulous tone.

Blake opened his mouth to speak but his words caught in his mouth as he glanced over at Autumn. He didn't like the idea of asking her to put herself at risk, but she had the kind of clout he needed to get to the bottom of this.

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