91st of Zi’da, Arc 717
There was a time and a place for everything and yet it seemed his friend was tired of waiting. Andráska had been pulled out of his reverie, mind already forming a political strategy when he soaked up Celeste's words. Head slowly turning towards the man she spoke directly to and then to her seat, he felt tension rise in how body. She was being impulsive. After the dragon said her piece, a hush fell over the room and he couldn't tell if it was disappointment or contemplation.
He glanced at Xander and cleared his throat, smiling with as much charm as he could muster, suddenly wishing the mask was removed. Taking away a Venora's looks certainly evened the playing field in some ways, “Celeste, Xander,” How could she not see her mistake? They needed patience now more than ever, “What happens behind closed doors is arguably more important than what happens in the public eye.”
The dark haired woman said she could play the games of politics and yet she did not even see that this was just the beginning. Already she resisted, did they see her unreliable? A wild card? With Xander’s disappointment in the first task, how promising was the duo now?
“What if they've seen you grow, know who you are, and yet they didn't care for what they saw? What if this was your second chance?” Andráska could stop the insult that he felt. She wasn't the only one taking this trial and to imply it was a waste of time was frustrating. He needed this. Venora
needed this. This wasn't tradition, this was order.
This secrecy, this ritual, it was more than just a power move. What if this was the real hand that controlled Rynmere while the boy king was a distraction? Andráska, Celeste and Xander had been invited into their home to scoff at the entertainment? It was incredibly disrespectful. The young Baron did not know the others, but he knew his grandmother. Ebony Venora did not waste her time. Whatever this was, it had a purpose.
Celeste could feel confident in guessing the identities of those around her but there were still unknowns. Andráska could assume they were other leaders of the nobility, but being presumptuous would earn them no favors. For all he knew, one of the players could be the king himself. And what was wrong in playing? If not for the hosts, then for each other. Knowing their strategies would ultimately only aid them when they worked together in the future.
Lips pressed in a thin line, he shook his head and scooted forward, fingers scooping up his own game pieces, “Venora hears your plea,” Why would both Warrick and Gawyne deny the deal? Should he tread lightly? “A sickness in the trees is a threat to our orchards and the citizens of Burhan do not deserve to starve.”
“To ease your challenges I offer two gold pieces and a shipment of food,” It wasn't the asking price but should manage the difficulty without dipping into his own coin so early in the game. He had gone to Andaris, not the House of Roses and clearly wanted money, “If possible, I would like these trees studied and destroyed appropriately to prevent the disease from mutating.”
After all, it seemed like this was the root of the problem; not money, not food, those were just immediate fixes, not the solution, “Allow me also to send men to aid in the work load and maintain order while we solve this dilemma together.”
Long fingers brushed against a black piece, plucking the token up and rolling it across his knuckles. He had not missed the detail that the region would be left weak and desperate. Andráska Venora was not a conqueror but he had been a soldier. If the time came, having a unit with the foot in the door could prove beneficial in protecting his investment.
He watched the masked group carefully. He would not send gifts with only a promise at the risk of having someone else swoop in and claim it as their own, “Do you accept?”