• Closed • Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Negotiations take place between Veljorn, Zvezdana, and Cassander

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.

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• Closed • Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Zvezdana Venora » Sun Aug 21, 2016 6:25 pm

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26th of Saun

Veljorn had been busy getting prepared for the night. Everything had to be polished, neatly displayed, and the guards had to be hand picked. Their tent, which was normally further away from the front lines, had been placed in the center of the army’s encampment. The sigil of House Burhan was on display at every tent, the blue banners waving the wind. The background was the forest they had sheltered in to one aspect, and the burning walls of Andaris City. Tonight, the siege engines were quiet, as was custom for the night of negotiations. The perimeter had been well guarded, with the elite facing Andaris City if Cassander decided to break the agreement. They would also be the one’s to great Cassander entourage when they arrived, guiding them through the encampment to the future King and Queen’s tent.

Zvezdana had taken great care with her appearance this evening. The servants that accompanied her had washed her skin until it shown. Her blue and purple dress was the closest thing she had to representing House Burhan. Her hair was pulled up in a way that the front strands made a nest for her crown. The heavy gold circle was well fitted for her, in size and in power. The silver torque and silver earrings did not draw away from the gold crown, which is why she had selected them. She had even had a servant working on polishing the crown until the blue stones glittered and the gold shined with the reflection of the fire. Everything had been meticulously put into place on her body, down to the heels of her shoes. She saw patiently to the right of her husband at the round table which had been erected for the occasion.

Veljorn was dressed in his black plate armor with the symbol of the Qe’Dreki emblazoned on it. His large shield, his wedding gift, leaned up against his right of his chair. His helmet was set off to the left on the table. Even he had taken the time to bathe and wash his hair. Zvezdana may have influenced him into wiping away the grime of war for the negotiations talks. He had to look like a king, not a warrior. His crown, larger than hers, sat on his head. The stones were larger than hers, but they glittered with the same blue fire that hers did. His fingers fell rhythmically on the table with impatience.

“Calm down dear. He is the King of Rynmere. He would be wise to treat with us this evening. He will be here.”

“For a woman that has never set foot on the battlefield, you sure are confident with your knowledge of politics.”

“Confidence is half the battle Veljorn. People will follow a confident leader over a boy king.”

She believed this with all her heart. After all, she practiced that belief every day. Veljorn had acted confident the very day that she met him. And that is what drew her to him. He had the ability to be calm in a situation that caused adrenalin to rush and to be the humble victor. Zvezdana smiled at him, rolling the stem of her glass between her fingers. Even she had elected for juice instead of wine this evening. It was easier to keep her wits about her without the fog of alcohol. It still looked like alcohol. It was probably a method of lying, filling their jug with juice and Cassander’s jug with high-grade wine. These were simple methods of cheating. If Cassander drank with them, then maybe he would slip in his negotiatioin strategy. Similarly, another thought came to mind.

“Darling. Maybe we should have a soldier bring Elyna to our tent. More Burhan representation may put Cassander off his guard. The stronger and more united we look, the better our chances at getting what we want.”

Veljorn had a dark look over his eyes that was fleeting. Zvezdana hadn’t missed it, causing a brief chill to flicker down her spine. What was that about? Had something gone on that she missed? She dismissed it quickly when his fingers stopped pattering along.

“Guards! Bring Lady Elyna to our tent. Tell her that she is going to be a part of our council during negotiations.”

Zvezdana smiled, connecting her lips with the goblet. Everything was falling into place. Soon, they would be celebrating their victory and sitting on the throne. Soon, she would have everything that she ever wanted in life: the love of her life, family that finally came to turns with her role, things that represented her status, and friends that were true.

Soon, she would be the Queen of Rynmere.
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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Elyna » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:54 pm

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They hadn’t been long in the camp when the summons had come. Marcus’s depleted troupe had limped into lines of Veljorn’s army and been directed to a space to set their tents and start their cooking fires. Elyna had travelled with the army before, but there was nothing quite like the sensation of walking through rows and rows of canvas campaign tents with the walls of the city rising behind the flags and pennants that displayed the dragon. If it wasn’t so awful there would have been something perhaps noble and poetic in the display but the Skyrider could only quietly despair.
Beneath the scent of canvas, dew and too many fires to count was the sharper taint of blood. Ryn’s had died for the rebellion and defending their city. A pointless waste of life and one she could not celebrate. The Skyrider had promised Faith to keep her safe and kept her close as they walked, leading horses amongst the neat lines of soldier’s tents. No one seemed to think that either woman would run away, and Elyna had little intention of forsaking her chance to meet with Veljorn.
They arrived at a tent that had been set aside, sparse except for two bed rolls and an empty chest. Elyna had taken the opportunity to wash her face and hands and change from dirty clothes into a light blue dress. Better to remind her Uncle that she was, after all, a Burhan and the daughter of his brother. She’d managed to pin her hair back with a little help from Faith and strapped her sword to her hip and tied the star steel knife to the scabbard. There was a little time to eat before sure enough Marcus pulled the flap open and motioned for the Noblewoman to follow.
“Your Uncle has requested your presence,” he explained.
“Lets go, Faith,” Elyna invited the slave with a grim smile before following Krome out once more into the campsite. They wound their way to the larger tents with more and more emblazoned banners that caught and snapped in the wind. At the entrance the young woman took a moment to pause, push her shoulders back and breathe before inevitably bowing to the canvas entrance and ducking inside. She’d had to pass her sword over to a guard, but when he had reached for her knife she’d laid a hand on his and squeezed his fingers. The young woman had looked up into a pair of curious blue eyes and smiled, sweetly.
“You don’t need to take my knife, this is the truth.”
The young man had bowed and waved her through. She’d reached back, curling her free hand around Faith’s and pulled the young woman into the tent behind her.
It took a few scant moments for her eyes to adjust to the light and she straightened. Zvezdana. Elyna swallowed the bile that rose into her mouth and curtseyed to the Venoran before offering the same respect to her Uncle.
“I have been summoned?” What would they make of the swell of her belly, she wondered? What of the fading bruises on her neck?
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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Faith » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:46 pm

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FaithIt had all started when she had heard some servants talking. Ironically, she had heard them talking just after she had come back having served the very Lady Venora who they were now going towards although Faith did not know that. The young slave had not even considered that some of the things that she had seen between then and now might exist; zombies, silent guards and Lords of noble houses who believed that horses spoke. It had been a whirlwind and she was still not entirely sure how it had come about. But here they were and somewhere along the way, Faith had been loaned to Lady Burhan, wife to Malcolm Krome, the man that she believed she loved with everything she had. Yet, on this journey Faith had missed Master dreadfully, and there would be a consideration of that from the young slave. But not here, and not now. Now, they had to focus.

As far as she would allow her to, Faith had helped Lady Burhan. But in truth, her opinion of the woman had shifted as they had travelled together. When Faith first put waking eyes on her, Lady Burhan had seemed beaten. Bested by fate and circumstance. But there was a strength in her which was not easily ignored ~ a fire which refused to be extinguished and which Faith recognised now as a woman with a backbone of pure steel. Maybe she should feel jealous of her beauty, envious of her skill but she did not. When this had started, she had wanted to help to please Master, to serve House Venora and because Lady Burhan made Malcolm happy. But now? Now she wished to serve the woman who she had come to both respect and admire.

So, wearing the good black dress Master had bought her, Faith had helped Lady Burhan get ready as much as she could, or more precisely as much as the Lady would allow. As they had walked through the camp, Faith had kept herself just slightly behind Lady Burhan and she had held her gaze firmly on her Lady's back. The camp unnerved her, in truth. It was a place of war and death and it flew flags and banners and tried to make slaughter glorious. It was not glorious, Faith now knew, and the thought of those bodies lunging in the attack was never far from her mind. That violence was sometimes inevitable, that fighting would always happen was something that she thought she knew but this? This was a place where people died over two men fighting over land like children over a favoured toy but they did it with a banner emblazoned on their chest and a flag flying heroically in the winds and it made it feel like it meant something. She smiled a slight and cynical smile as she pinned up Lady Burhan's hair. "There are a lot of flags here, Lady Burhan. They must be very grateful to seamstresses" her tone was as dry as her voice was quiet. As she finished her task, she took Lady Burhan's hand and led it to Faith's back, where her corset rested against the dress, putting her hand over the boning where the dagger that Faith had concealed was held in place. She had sat and sewed throughout the journey, and at one point she had made the pouch so that, should she need it, she could tug and free the knife easily. She did not say anything, but it was important that both Lady Burhan knew it was there and that she had the opportunity to say no to it before they went in.

And then, there it was. She had been summoned to see her uncle and Lady Burhan said it was time to go. Wary, as always, around Lord Krome, Faith bowed her head "Yes, Lady Burhan" she said and she walked with her Lady to the tent in question. Her eyes had widened slightly at the altercation between Elyna and the guard but, when Lady Burhan's hand wrapped around her own, Faith felt relief and confidence that this would be alright wash over her. So, she walked i with Lady Burhan and she made sure that she was in the role that she needed her to be in. Quiet and meek, she dropped her own curtsy but said nothing and kept her eyes lowered. All the time she was watching, though, looking at feet and how people were moving, what they were saying. Listening and looking and ready to move if she needed to in order to do her duty. The sight of the woman whose naked body she had dried and whose hair she had brushed was a surprise to Faith, but she did not show it on her face, remaining impassive and in the role that she had been all her life.
"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Kingdom » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:56 am

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CASSANDER
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"Elyna," Veljorn greeted the woman but did not rise from his chair. His voice was calm and he sat with two fingers pressed to the left side of his face, his thumb hooked under his jaw. The crown on his head looked as heavy as his weary shoulders, and dark eyes seemed to see without seeing. Though the man was here physically, his mind was far away, on the battlefield where this day he had lost thousands of men storming the city, and taken hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives to claim ground within the walls of Lowtown. If this war was successful, he would have to work hard to win back the hearts of the people he was leaving without fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. The usurper had brought war to Andaris, and for every man who hated Cassander, two more now despised him.
At the mouth of the tent the horizon was burning, black smoke billowing from the city walls to mingle with the mauve painted sky. Night was falling, and with it new stars set the sky ablaze, "one for every soul lost," a young man mouthed, his hands shaking, even with the wine jug he held to anchor them.
"Wine for my niece," Veljorn summoned the servant, and when the boy did not heed the Dragon King's request, Veljorn picked up his goblet and tossed it at the boy. "Wine, slave!"
Shocked into action, the man quickly made his way to the King's left side and pulled out a chair for Elyna before pouring her a glass of wine. Marcus was permitted to sit beside the woman, the head of the table now a united front with noble's from Burhan, Venora, and Krome. Veljorn shoved the slave and pointed to the mats positioned along the left wall, where he and Faith were expected to kneel until they were needed or summoned.
"The trials grow short, dear niece, and Marcus informs me that you refuse to marry? Need I remind you that you have no say in the matter, and as your father is still recovering from what those filthy, backstabbing Warricks did to him last season, when your wedding takes place in the morning, I will send word informing him that his wishes were finally met." Veljorn held up his hand to stop the woman from speaking and sipped from his fresh goblet before he spoke again. "You will have his child and together the two of you will run the north for me."
The slave boy knelt beside Faith stitched his fingers together across his belly. His digits were dirty and his clothes smelt as if someone had died in them. The young man had dark, copper coloured hair and sharp features, with eyes that didn't know where to look, and a thin, lanky form which made him appear underfed. Quickly he moved his hands behind his back before positioning them in the same manner Faith did; it was clear he had not been trained for the role, and was more than likely taken from the streets against his will to serve the Qe'Dreki forces.
The tent shook as something flew overhead and the men stationed outside called and pointed to the sky. "Dragons!"
Veljorn got his feet and was swiftly assured by one of his advisors that their numbers were fewer than a handful. A horn in the distance announced that King Cassander's men had finally moved into camp, and filled with nervous energy, Veljorn sat down again and tried to appear at ease, even if he failed to still his right leg, which he bounced beneath the table. He had the upper hand, Cassander was coming to him, not the other way round; that gave him power, it made him the stronger of the two in the eyes of his people. Cassander had everything to lose while Veljorn could only gain.
An ear-ringing screech declared the touchdown of the Jacadon riders, as four large dragons flanked the King's entourage. Beautiful black horses carried seven riders gilded with gold, the masks of their helmets tooled to resemble the faces of those long passed, echoing the long-lived legend of the sacred seven. Beside the main rider, a saddled horse with no rider approached to stop in front of the tent and rake the earth with his gold plated shoe. The stallion shook his head and snorted, set on edge by the close proximity of the Jacadons.
The seven riders were summoned forwards after dismounting, while the four dragon riders stood guard from the backs of their mounts. One of the dragons made a low, rolling sound and raised his head as hot, thick steam curled skyward in long, silver ribbons from the gaps between his teeth. Veljorn's men gave the dragons a wide berth and flinched whenever they felt the creatures eyes on them.
"Cassander," Veljorn smiled slowly. "Sit, drink, we have a meal prepared and enough wine to sink a galleon."
"That's King Cassander to you," a woman to the man's right spoke up as she stepped forwards and sank into a chair at the round table.
"And who may I ask resides behind the mask of the famed Cyrene Venora?" Veljorn inquired.
The young woman lifted her helm and set it down on the table, revealing herself as the Empress of Rynmere. "Emerson Sands," she looked Veljorn up and down as every man in the tent bent a knee. Emerson was the most beloved woman in the country, married to their religion. She was holy and pure. All men were forbidden to touch the Empress and dare not look her in the eye, even those born above her status, including the King. A black snake with gold markings curled itself about her neck, strangling the dark veil cast over her face. The tips of her fingers looked to be painted black and she placed her weapon down in front of her helm; a golden quill, whatever was decided tonight would be set in ink by her hand.
Veljorn averted his gaze momentarily and squeezed Zvezdana's hand under the table. "We're honoured by your presence, Empress.
The rest of the Cassander's men removed their helmets in sync, some of them recognisable to Veljorn, others complete strangers. Behind Henry Warrick's mask stood Victor Warrick, second born son or the duke and duchess of the Warrick region. So Warrick was in Cassander's pocket again, Veljorn thought to himself, perhaps his queen had not managed to convince their heir of her sincerity.
A well known lord and war expert by the name of Komodo Enthor had donned the face of Oron Endor, Veljorn knew him well. Fredrick Gawyne, the region's baron, took off Warren Gawyne's mask. Gerrard Krome and Rahiko Burhan's helmets were both worn by wealthy war lords he didn't recognise, and that just left the King...
"Ser Verne Andaris, rather big shoes to be filled by a boy don't you think?" Veljorn smirked, it seemed he had rediscovered his confidence. "Why don't you take off your helmet and join us?"
The King sat down beside Fredrick, leaving an empty chair between himself and Emerson Sands. He waved for one of the Jacadon riders to bring their wine and summoned both of the slaves to their feet to pour it fresh from the bottles.
"What, you don't trust my wine and hospitality?" The Dragon King almost laughed. "If I had wanted you dead, my men would have captured you as soon as you entered my encampment. Poison is too quick, little lord, I want your death to be much, much slower." Perhaps he did not mean the words, but Veljorn wouldn't mind Cassander thinking otherwise.
The slave boy got to his feet and apologised to Faith for knocking her shoulder as he had risen, darting quickly around the table to pour the new wine.
"Now that everyone is comfortable, let me introduce you all to the future Queen of Rynmere, my beautiful rose, Zvezdana. Joining us for the negotiations tonight are my commanders, Yoreth Blackwood, Marcus Krome, his wife Elyna Burhan, and two of my most trusted advisors, Wezley and Ryan Endor." While the last two names he had stated were correct, the men themselves did not hail from titled region, but the more support Veljorn appeared to have, the better the deal would be for him. "Shall we begin?" Veljorn looked at his wife, it was time for her political prowess to shine.

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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Zvezdana Venora » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:07 pm

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Everything was falling into place so neatly. She remained in her seat waiting for Elyna to join them. It would have been better to have some of her own family on the council, to show the real support that House Venora should be giving Veljorn. Sadly, she was not sure how much she could trust her own family at this point. They were all too unknown to her at this point. They were siblings and family, but that was about it. They had nothing in common anymore. They shared only blood and name, nothing else. Alistair was her polar opposite, and only the Immortals knew what Andraska was up to. Maybe, once she was on the throne, she would happily welcome her brother's into the council. Once they saw that she was just as good at honoring their house. Once she finally elevated herself above her brother, maybe then he would be unable to cast his shadow about her.

Elyna's voice dragged her out of her hopeful daydream. Before she could stand and create her sister-in-law properly, she was somewhat taken aback by the presence of Faith. Maybe her family was finally coming to terms that this was an excellent move for House Venora. Even though she was a slave, it was comforting to have some form of her house nearby. She was even so enthralled by the thought that maybe her family was coming around that she missed the knife hung at Elyna's side.

"Come Elyna, sit with us. We wish for you to be present for these negotiations. After all, House Burhan should be well represented at these talks. After all, your uncle will soon be King Burhan."

When Veljorn reacted poorly to the slave boy, Zvezdana found herself wincing. She was mean to slaves and servants to an extent, but throwing things in a public place seemed unwarranted and uncalled for. That, and it was not very kingly like. Had Cassander been here, she probably would have said something to Veljorn. Instead, she decided to ignore that behavior for now and talk to him about it at a later time. Zvezdana stayed in her chair on the right, waiting for Elyna to join them. Her betrothed, Marcus, was on Elyna's other side. They made a lovely couple. It was lovely to have Krome supporting the rebellion. Another family to add to the fray, and with a bun in the oven.

"Juice dear. She needs juice. We don't want to be tainting the little babe in her belly with spirits now," Zvezdana purred, reaching over for the jug near her. She pulled a different goblet near by, filling it half way, and passed it across the table to Elyna.

Before she could make more small talk to the mother-to-be, a cry of 'dragons' rang out from outside. Zvezdana's skin prickled with a fleeting nervous feeling. They were here. The boy king and his men had arrived. Zvezdana sat up straight, reaching up to make sure her crown was in place. She had to look as regal as she felt to treat with the soon-to-be former King of Rynmere. She allowed her husband to stand and welcome the man, but she remained seated. One was enough to welcome him. This was still a war and she would only offer so much respect to the boy man.

The conversation had only begun when one of Cassander's riders gave a retort that Zvezdana took some offense too. He may be King now, but he won't be for long. In any other circumstance, Zvezdana would have been honored that the Empress had chosen to wear the helmet in the form of Cyrene Venora. Instead, she was only infuriated.

"What a beautiful helmet you wear Empress. I enjoy seeing the Venoran beauty captured for eternity and covering the faces of others," Zvezdana was trying to be as mean while as nice as possible. The quill was beautiful, and she looked forward to whatever was to be written as having true strength when it was in the Empress' writing. Maybe being snarky was not the best of choices, especially when she was in control of the writing instrument. "Forgive me for my comment. Your beauty can rival Cyrene's and I have a feeling your spirit is just as strong. We are honored to have you at these negotiations. I am sure your wisdom will help Cassander do what is best for Rynmere."

The others began to take off their helmets and Zvezdana fell silent. Warrick was the next helmet to fall, and she was relieved not to see Lazuli beneath it. At least she would not have to face her friend during the negotiations. That would just tear her a part. The others she assumed were family members of the other family except for Burhan and Krome, whom sided with the rebellion.

Cassander's silence was aggravating. He did not remove his helmet and he sat and commanded their own servants as if they belonged to him. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Quite a royal thing to do, but he had no foot to stand on. He had lost low town, and the boy king was treating with his enemy on enemy territory. Her frown was instantly turned to a charmed smile as she looked at Veljorn while she introduced her. To be held on such a pedestal in her lover's eyes was something she wished every woman would know. She was a lucky woman. Her smile only widened as Veljorn suggested they begin. Glittering eyes with loved turned to glittering eyes of malice as she settled them on the helmet of Ser Verne Andaris.

"I am not sure we can begin Veljorn. We cannot be sure if Cassander is really the one underneath the helmet. I am sure that our current king is honorable and wise. He wouldn't be a coward, hiding behind his renowned and well chosen council. Come Cassander, take off your helmet. Join us for a drink. Maybe we should wait for your friend?" Zvezdana gestured to the empty chair. "Maybe we should wait for that person to join us."
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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Elyna » Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:44 pm

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It was hard to disguise the disgust she felt when looking at her Uncle. There was something dignified and dare she think it, regal in the way that he sat, and it made her stomach turn. They were tied by blood yet she felt no loyalty to the man. Where was the man who had taught her the very first sword-guard she’d known? Where was the man who had encouraged her to pick up a long bow and supported her decision to join the Skyriders? Her Uncle had died somewhere along the line and the man who was left was a pretender to the throne and to his own name. Had the death of his family caused this? Her eyes slid to Zvezdana and she wondered if the woman really knew the man she had married; because it seemed that some people found the truth easy to disguise.
The woman stood, immobile as he abused the boy. Eyes fixed on a spot behind his left ear until Marcus nudged her into action and she sank into the seat beside him. It was all she could do to stop her lip curling, as though there was an unpleasant smell as the Krome settled beside her. Eyes dropped dispassionately to the wine before Zvezdana corrected her Uncle and Elyna reached for the juice and pulled it closer. She had little intention of drinking, and none of drinking wine. It was inevitable that she looked up at the ‘future Queen’ at that point and tried to study the beautiful features. Zvezdana who had married the man she loved would force her into wedlock with a monster? Zvezdana who attempted kindness, was she blind to the carnage of rebellion?
Veljorns’s words lifted over her head before the woman blinked in surprise. She’d not heard that her Father had been attacked, nor injured and the thought that he might be so soon to passing, as Veljorn suggested caused her distressed. Face turned to her Uncle she continued to hold her tongue. There was little point arguing with the man about marrying Marcus, or running the North. She wouldn’t waste her breath, she just simply wouldn’t marry him. It was decided. One way or another and even if it came to death, the woman would not live under Marcus’s rule.
The Skyrider remained stationary as the shout of Dragon’s rose. She looked down to hide the faint smile that pulled at her features. She loved Dragons. She’d become a Skyrider because their innate song and their very being had been a call in her heart that was impossible to ignore. She was not afraid of Dragons, nor of the party that dismounted. Though she would admit to being in awe of the group and desperately wishing she was presented in different circumstances and amongst better company.
Eyes fixed solely on the King with longing. A desire that he would know, somehow, that she was sworn to fealty and that she fought for his protection. Elyna was a Skyrider of Rynmere, not of Burhan and not of the Qe’Dreki and her heart raced in her chest as she remained silent and motionless as a statue. Marcus as he returned to his seat, closed his hand over hers and quickly found sharp nails pressed into the sensitive flesh that joined nail to fingertip. He jolted and withdrew and made no further attempt to touch her. The young woman saught out Faith, then the boy before returning her attention to the table as Zvez exercised gracious tact and diplomacy. Elyna flinched as she was introduced as Marcus’s wife. Unable to resist the urge the woman shifted on her seat, leaning ever so slightly away from the Empress and the coiled serpent around her neck.
She hated this. She detested the sly comments and the barbed words, the terse negotiation that she expected she would struggle to understand. The Skyrider was a warrior not a wordsmith. Why on all Idalos had Veljorn requested her presence? Not that it didn’t serve her purpose however.

“Perhaps we will find ourselves grateful that the King’s friend has not yet joined us,” the woman spoke, mostly to herself. She hoped that Cassander would recognise her allegiance in naming him King, after all he was. Her stomach tightened though and she suspected she would be right, whoever the empty chair was reserved for, was probably someone who would make everyone uncomfortable.
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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Faith » Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:44 pm

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FaithIt was not anything new to Faith, to see slaves treated so. She had been treated thus, and much much worse herself, but she still felt her heart go out to the young man who was sharing the tent. As she moved and knelt, immediately and obediently, Faith felt a pang that she could not help Lady Burhan now; now all she could do was support her. But that was what she would do and so she knelt and kept her mouth closed and her face carefully neutral as the man who was Lady Burhan's uncle told her what was going to happen and how she would be married on the morning. The boy, kneeling next to her was filthy and he smelled and Faith glanced at him. Kneeling next to him she shuffled slightly so that she was right next to him and she placed her hands on her knees and, as she did, her hand touched his.

She kept it there for a moment and ran a gentle and, hopefully, soothing thumb over his. She willed him to be calm and she gave him a gentle nudge with her elbow. Then she looked down at his hands and hers with a pointed over-emphasis. Do as she did, she wanted to say and she hoped that he followed suit. She kept herself close enough to him that he could feel her knee touching his. She thought that some human contact was only going to be a good thing for him and it might mean that he did not die this trial.

The call that dragons were overhead made Faith's heart beat so loudly that she could hear it, clearly, in her ears. The sound was mirrored by a thumping in her chest and she looked to Lady Elyna, watching her carefully. As the screech sounded, Faith leant in to whisper to the boy who she could see was woefully unaware of what was going on here, and what was likely to happen. "If battle begins, hide. I will protect you if I can, I promise you. Don't be afraid, I'll help you" but that was all the time she had and then there were many, many more people in the room. In beautiful mask-like helmets and more finery. That often simply meant more cruelty if the people were so inclined, but it did not have to be that way.

As they were summoned, she stood fluidly and, if she could, she squeezed the boy's hand briefly. Be quick and don't spill it, she prayed for him and she moved, doing her duty and pouring from the bottle, quiet and swift. When they were all poured she moved over to the boy and placed a hand on his arm, steering him to where they should stand, ready to refill glasses as they emptied. Away from the free men and women, but close enough that they could step forward as and when they were needed. She kept an eye on what was going on, trying to make sure that the boy didn't go too close to anyone who seemed volatile and she made sure that she held Lady Burhan's gaze for just a second and gave her the slightest of smiles. She would win this trial, Faith was sure of it. Holding the bottle of wine in front of her, she kept her eyes open for those who needed a refil and moved to fill the glass of the only one who had not yet taken off his helm.
"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Alistair » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:14 pm

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The road had been long, but due to his Compression along the border of Krome, Alistair had managed to arrive in Andaris before Elyna and her party. He'd gone to the Emperor, David Krome, to inform him of the coming of the battered party of rebels and had similarly riled interest within the court of the capital with his public declaration of aid to the crown. In response, the Emperor had gifted him with the visage of Verne Andaris much as Emerson posed as Cyrene Venora. Alistair stood quietly beside Emerson Sands, allowing things to unfold as they did. He made no special motions and said nothing out of the ordinary as he viewed Elyna and Faith, though he glanced at Marcus' appearance with a hidden smile behind the helm.

All-in-all, he did as he was told. He waited for the Empress to unmask herself, practically shaking his head as Zvezdana slyly insulted her appearance. While it was true that the members of House Venora were the most beautiful of Rynmere, he could not deny the charm of Lady Sands, and Zvezdana's insult of such an important official was perhaps the most alarming thing. All-in-all the environment of the room had grown exceptionally tense. He could already see Faith gearing up to defend Lady Elyna, glad of her dedication to the mission he and Tristan had entrusted her to, and especially glad that they'd survived the ordeal with the Coven. Damien did his part well - and now, Elyna and Faith too.

Now it was time for Alistair to play his part. As Zvezdana finished speaking, the man coyly grinned and responded to his sister with an enthusiasm, his already low voice dulled further by the mask containing his pitch.

"Indeed, sister," he began, "the visage of Venoran beauty must be captured, whether in statue or in the flesh." With those words, he removed his facade that was Verne Andaris' face, hands running through his hair as he kept the helmet between his palms. He looked well - he had done a great deal to ensure he looked at his absolute best, as it was in a Venora's interests to be seen as much as they were heard. "Elyna, Faith," he addressed the two with a sly smile, and waved to Marcus Krome as he did so. He knew that was going to either confuse him or piss him off, and he was prepared for either possibility.

"Lord Veljorn, especially. How good to see you. It has been perhaps a lifetime since I saw you last, in the days of my betrothal to Elyna. I hope you have enjoyed your time since then, as I have enjoyed mine. It pleases me to know that even despite all she has suffered, my sister was able to find love." Were his words a lie? No one could ever tell, really. Being monotone for ninety nine percent of your words made them indistinguishable. There was some truth to it, however. Alistair had escaped the abuse of the household by falling to the dark magics. Zvezdana had pleased herself with political intrigue.

Unfortunately, they two had become adversaries as a result of the paths they walked to silence the pain . . . and now inevitably they would cross blades, metaphorically or even literally at that. He shoved these thoughts aside, focusing on what happened now. He smiled quaintly to Emerson and spoke a final time. "Begin when you are able to, Lord Burhan. As the representative of the Great House of Venora," he eyed Zvezdana, "I shall listen well."
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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Kingdom » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:55 pm

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CASSANDER
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“Our thoughts are causes. You sow a thought, you reap an action. You sow an action, you reap a habit. You sow a habit, you reap a character. You sow a character, you reap a destiny. It all starts with a thought.”
― Shiv Khera


The final mask was removed and mixed emotions made the atmosphere in the tent tense. Marcus shifted his chair back from the table, ready to race across its surface like a demon possessed and strangle the life from Alistair with his own two hands. Veljorn lifted a hand graciously to settle his commander and stared long and hard at the newly revealed face, one he did not recognise until spoken word jolted his memory.
"Alistair Venora," Veljorn's mouth drew a straight, unamused line across his face. "To think I was in the presence of a king." The man relaxed, his body language neutral even while his eyes bore holes into the man sat across from him, and the hairs one his arms prickled beneath the sleeves of his shirt. With his marriage to Lady Zvezdana, Veljorn thought he had severed the long standing alliance between House Andaris and House Venora, when in reality it seemed he had only strengthened it. Zvezdana had let him down, not only with Venora's support in the civil war, but possibly Warrick's too. Hope was not yet lost, however, as their forces had gone unchallenged by the Skyriders thus far. He sat, casual as a babe in his mother's arms, and felt his blood boil beneath his skin.
"First to hang," Marcus hissed as he pinned Alistair with a scornful look.
Veljorn silenced Marcus by raising his voice. "My wife was right not to trust the honour of our king, who proves himself time and time again to be the boy everyone has deemed him."
"The boy coward," Yoreth smirked as those stationed on his side of the table laughed.
Their amusement, however, was short lived as the guards outside informed Veljorn of the appearance of three more dragons, this time accompanied by a single rider. They landed near the tent and watched as the original four were shuffled to surround the makeshift hall, barking and snapping at the men who dodged to roll out of their way. Veljorn did not seem moved by their arrival or the fact that the negotiations tent was now surrounded by enough dragons to kill a hundred men in a single breath. He knew they were no threat to him, not unless the king wanted to sacrifice his loyal advisors, though it may not be wise to put it past the boy after his rumoured actions regarding the former Queen's demise.
A man with long, dark hair climbed down from the back of a Jacadon and approached the tent with golden cloak in hand, lined with black fur. His advance went unchallenged by Veljorn's men, kept at bay by the dragons outside. Inside the tent there were many who would recognise the man as David Krome, Emperor of Rynmere, and one of the King's most trusted men. Cassander would never go as far as to call him friend, as King he had little belief in the notion that such bonds existed, but as the emperor approached the copper haired slave, it was clear to see the two had formed such a kinship.
The slave donned the golden cloak and stood silently beside the empty chair reserved for him. The rest of his party rose as David placed a black crown upon the young man's head and addressed him formally. "His royal majesty, Cassander Renault, first of his name, and rightful King of Rynmere, will now speak on behalf of the country, it's people, and noble representatives."
Cassander had failed to let go of Faith's hand, which he had taken moments before the second group of dragons had arrived. He was so clearly a boy, and yet, stood with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Every life lost in the siege that had taken place today weighed heavy on his heart, and standing across the room from the serpents who had helped orchestrate it, sickened him. His gaze feel on each of them in turn, lingering on Elyna a moment before he looked at Veljorn and the Dragon King's wife, Zvezdana.
The Boy King swallowed the lump in his throat and stole his hand away from Faith's after ushering her into his chair to sit before he spoke. "This afternoon, on the eve of my sixteenth birthday, I polished the crowns of those who would oppose my rule. I washed their feet, poured their wine, and heeded their every beck and call. This I have done night after night, learning my enemy from the foothills of the Burning Mountains. Krome," he paused to point his attention at Marcus. "You are misguided, hungry like a stray, and satisfied by the pickings of a bone. Your master has promised you the north, but I can assure you it is with me they rally, as do the Skyriders of the west, who command enough dragons to blot out the twin suns of Saun."
"Lady Zvezdana, you sit in representation of your house, starry-eyed and unreasonable, false, boasting the backing of the south who allowed you to march your army across their land under my order." The King closed his hand over Alistair's right shoulder briefly and looked Zvezdana in the eye. "I can only image the betrayal you must feel to see your family side with the Iron Hand, and spit on your maladroit attempt at claiming power."
Cassander looked to the woman's husband then. "Veljorn Burhan, dangerous is the man so entitled he would cut down the innocent and convince an army that the act is just if the cause is great. Your actions on this trail have not only lost you the hearts of the people, but made you the exact thing you despise. You believe your claim greater than mine by blood, but you forget my heritage boasts the blood of Andaris, Gawyne, Endor, Krome, Warrick, and yes, even Burhan. Yet you married a woman from a house that has never seen the throne, not since the first Queen of Rynmere has Venoran blood strengthened the royal line," he hadn't gone as far as to call Zvezdana common, but he might as well have.
"Endor sends ships with men from the north. Gawyne's forces are at your backs, awaiting my signal. Warrick has sent me every Skyrider available, the Knights of Venora and Andaris have you flanked, and hold high ground in Midtown. Krome burns your ships as they sail down the Avari from Burhan, and you have locked the best part of your army in Lowtown where my archers pick them off one by one. In lieu of any other option on your part, I will accept nothing less than total surrender. Your forces will be escorted from the city, your wife will return to Burhan, and you, Veljorn Burhan" Cassander set his hands down on the back of Emerson's chair, "will hang for your crimes and the innocent lives forfeited in the name of lust and greed."
Though some of the colour had drained from Veljorn's face, he had done well to maintain his resolve. He squeezed Zvezdana's hand, knowing she shared in his vision of everything or nothing, and would fight till there was only one man standing, the man who would be king. "You are mistaken, boy, a man always has options, and I will not die unless it is by the sword, with your blood on my hands."

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Negotiations Between Parties [Moderated]

Postby Zvezdana Venora » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:48 pm

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Zvezdana remained quiet as she stared down the man behind the replica of Verne Andaris’ face. Elyna had remained quiet, but that did not seem unusual to her. Although Lady Burhan had a fighting spirit of her own, Zvezdana had mostly encountered her as a meek young woman, intimidated by the thought of politics and ballroom etiquette. This was not the battlefield she was accustomed to, and with child, Zvezdana doubted that Elyna was comfortable in this situation. Maybe it was best that she stayed quiet. Faith was quiet, but that was her duty. Zvezdana would give credit where credit was due. Faith was a good servant. Her cousin had chosen well.

The man behind the mask spoke, and for a second, Zvezdana skewed her face in confusion. Sister? Who on earth would call her sister at this meeting? Her answer came like a ton of bricks crashing into her chest. Her breath caught and she paled at the sight of Alistair sitting next to the Empress. Her body gave away everything at that moment as the color flushed from her face and exposed skin. Her eyes constricted to tiny points as she focused on him. The sounds in the tent disappeared and for a single moment, all she could see was the two of them in the tent. No… Her thoughts clouded with pain. How could he do this to her? Alistair had done many awful things in the past, had always been elevated in the family above her for so many undeserved reason, but this – this was something she had never anticipated that even he would do.

Everything came rushing back to the point that Zvezdana probably could have convinced herself to vomit. Nauseated, Zvezdana released the breath that she had been holding. Color snuck back into her cheeks as she took a few deep breaths. Alistair was acknowledging himself as the representative from House Venora. In a different situation, she would have renounced her family and elected the life away from those that would so happily turn against their own. Right now, all she had was her name to hold on to.

“Brother. I did not expect for you to be present on that side of the table. To find us at odds once more it depressing. I am sure you are only acting on our parents behalf. They surely have trained you quite well, Father especially. When you are wed and have daughter’s of your own, will you treat them as he has? I certainly hope you will not allow them to feel the pain and suffering that I have suffered throughout the years.” Many would not know what she was describing, but she hoped that Alistair understood just how far he had gone and how she saw him as a puppet. He did not act on his own and was simply a lap dog of their family. It was then that she realized that she would much rather be her, free to do as she liked. “You are correct in one thing. I have found love. Hopefully I can trust your sincerity in that statement since I cannot trust anything else about you.”

His reveal had caused something of a stir in Veljorn’s trusted command, Marcus. At his mention of first to hang, even Zvezdana’s skin tingled. “Lord Krome. Alistair is doing his duty to his house and his parents. I would expect that as brother to the queen, his transgressions might be forgiven one day. So do not speak of hanging my brother for his puppet-like actions with consequences I will not allow.” The words fell from her mouth surprisingly, but she held firm to them. No one else was going to have her brother killed. If anyone would cast that judgment, it would be her and it would be for more than sitting on the opposite side of the table.

The sound of more dragons joining the entourage outside must mean that Cassander was finally going to join them. What happened next was not something she, or her husband, could have predicted. Emperor Krome advanced on the slave and placed a crown on his head and the cloak around his shoulders. That nauseous feeling in her stomach flared up again. That is the king? But Veljorn had just throne a cup at him. How long had this slave been among them? What had he seen? Her skin crawled at the thought that Cassander, Boy-King of Rynmere, had watched them make love. On top of that, she was somewhat infuriated by the stupidity of the two of them. They had had Cassander all this time and had done nothing with him! Now that was quite a blow to one’s ego.

Cassander’s hand fell on Alistair’s shoulder and she wanted to laugh right then and there, but she remained collected. She moved her gaze between them to, revealing nothing of her emotions any further. Cassander countined without much hesitation to her husband. He had some points, as Rynmere had been descimated in this rebellion, but she would not reveal that internal concession. She sided with Veljorn, and would remain loyal to their cause. The sound of the houses coming together to fight the Qe’Dreki was disheartening. Had her attempts to console Lazuli really gone unheard? Had Vivian really meant that she would see Zvezdana on the thrown with all of Rynmere bowing before their Queen? Zvezdana, beginning to realize that everything was falling a part, had to cling to the hope that her friends would not betray her as well.

Zvezdana squeazed Veljorn’s hand back. These negotiations had not gone according to plan. Where the rebellion had thought they were treating with the king to come to terms, Cassander had met them with terms of surrender. Zvezdana looked at Veljorn, her eyes suddenly sad as he proclaimed that he would die by the sword rather than the noose. His proclamation gave her the last little bit of power she could muster to rally behind her King.

“You have been well taught in the art of words Cassander. As for my husband’s choice to marry me, I would have you consider your own predicament. You taut the blood of many houses, but which house do you truly align yourself with. Your surname is Renault, not Andaris or Warrick. Not even Krome, Endor, or Gawyne. You certainly are not from House Venora, for as you said, our blood has not been mixed in the royal pot. You certainly are not pretty enough to be considered Venoran either. The blood you have is so dilute you have no real claim to any of the houses. Maybe it is time the throne have purer blood than the mutt that sits there now.”

Zvezdana looked down at Faith, who now sat at the head of the table. A servant, sitting in the place of the King. She did not feel real loathing for Faith, but she was irritated at the sight. “Where is your wife, Cassander? I hear you had her killed. Is that how you intend to gain the favor of your country? I do not favor someone that cannot know true love, be it for their wife, sister, mother, or countryman. You throw tantrums if you do not get your way, and it seems that your wife paid the ultimate price for it. Now you disgrace her further by holding the hand of a servant girl as if you favor her and having her sit in your rightful spot. If I were your late wife, I would roll in my grave. Now Faith, will you please return to Lady Burhan’s side. I do believe you have come here to serve her on behalf of my cousin.”

Zvezdana slowly stood up then, giving no more commands to the girl. She expected that it be done with a timely fashion without retort. Faith had been good with commands before, she expected no less now. Zvezdana set her hands flat on the table, fixating her shoulders as square as she could make them towards Cassander.

“You speak of tolerance, but you went as far as to have Lazuli Warrick captured and tortured. What will your people think if that were to get out?" Zvezdana paused, looking directly at the Warrick representative. Did he know? Well, hopefully he would have something to say about it now. "Baroness Warrick is kind and loved by many, including myself. I will have you know that your crimes against her will be brought to justice. I will see to that. I will never bow before you Boy King and I will die to protect my king and husband before I let you lay a finger on him. Your terms have been denied.”
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