"Grayson," he whispered to the undead slave. The entity could not understand him, and yet he spoke to it regardless, much as a master would a dog regardless of the ignorance of their words. It was because, often, there were days where he would speak to no one but his subjects. He would spend weeks at a time away from the family estate, pretending to be doing something relevant to his studies on successful agrarian societies. Instead, no - as always, he was with William Grayson and a whole slew of undead ghastly things. If he did not at least speak to the dead, he would speak to no one - forget how to talk, become a nutty social recluse and fall adrift to the margins of society.
"I shall be going away for a bit." He said this almost solemnly. He felt crazy for feeling like this, but he had come to appreciate his subjects easily as much as a man would a canine friend. And he meant that sincerely. Even though he thought, or... knew they couldn't feel anything, he couldn't remove the thought of how charming it was to have such a loyal creature who followed you everywhere - much as a dog would, but with no expectation of rewards. Just resounding obedience. He knew it was dark magic, but it was the purest form of bond he had ever yet experienced, and that thought terrified him as much as it relaxed him. He knew he was slipping away from his own scope of mortality. He knew people would begin to notice his changes in demeanor if he did not cease this trend.
Yet he found that he could not - not yet at least. There wasn't enough to look forward to, in the world of the living.
He put on his brocade jacket - blue with gold, flowery embroideries. Even though he was surrounded by corpses, he always made sure his clothes were as clean and tidy as possible. You would never be able to smell Alistair and align his scent to corpses, especially as he always avoided physical contact with the undead, save for the rare occassion of corroding them back to good fitness. But this process was followed by cleansing, thoroughly - of everything he had worn and touched. As far as he was concerned, as long as Grayson lay in his darkly cell far from civilization, no one save Alistair should ever know that he found undeath at all.
In a nearby settlement known as Leinster, he met with the bannermen of Venora as they informed him of previously. The leader of the group bowed to him as he came into view, and spoke plainly. "Your mother and father have asked for your return to Fort Venora, my Lord. Shall you be coming with us now?" The man seemed fairly nervous. Unlike some others, who sort of found Alistair to be intimidating, he actually did genuinely seem humbled by his presence. The redhead could at least smile faintly as he acknowledged this, nodding to the man and walking to a horse they had procured for him. "Yes, Ser, I shall go with you. But make the journey fast - I grow concerned at the coming of nightfall these days. Things are not as they have been previously - not in Venora, or Rynmere." He mounted the creature. Alistair sucked at riding horses, but there were usually trained professionals with him to ensure that he didn't fall off and die. And he'd need to learn eventually, if he were to be a proper Lord.
The marching down south did not take long, as the village of Leinster was not quite too far from the Fort's reach. The difference was clear, though - the heartland of Venora had many people. It was lively. It was a city. On the outskirts, where he practiced his Necromancy and where the Coven prattled about in secrecy, there was practically no one to be seen but farmers and laborers. Few families being raised. He felt claustrophobic surrounded by all these people again, regardless of how many times he came back to this Fort. Perhaps it was not the place, though, but instead the occassion. He knew why he was here - father had told him in advance.
He was to see his family again. All of them. Zvezdana, the angry one. She always seemed to have a thorn stuck up her rectum, and he wasn't quite sure why. Alistair knew there had been issues with her in the past, but he honestly couldn't remember them. Still, they had been siblings for the longest, so a part of him did wish to establish some connection with his sister even if it was just the off letter.
Andraska, of course, was one of the siblings to be hosted. He liked Andraska the most out of all of his family members. He was a fighter, he was quick witted and perhaps a little bit funnier than the other ones. He also seemed the most . . . "down-to-Idalos", as one might say, which fit with Alistair's own practical behaviors. Not to mention, he was the youngest sibling, and so as the oldest sibling Alistair felt a protective instinct in a way. Make sure Andraska doesn't screw up the same as the eldest two - that sort of thing. The big issue between the heir and his brother? The young one had never seemed to care about who he was - his heritage. Alistair had an attachment to only few things in his life and his family name was one of them, perhaps he even had love for the Duchy and its people, even if that love was thin and often seemed to flicker to nothing.
Tristan, on the other hand, was just weird. Didn't know what to make of him. He had a strange reputation. Lots of rumors around that one. He also hadn't met him many times in his life. He just remembered him acting sort of crass, and he exuded rebelliousness. Alistair was sure that he was going to bring scandal upon the family one day, if the eldest son didn't do so first. At least he was merely from a secondary branch, he would always say. Those kids got away with whatever - they didn't have journalists writing about their every bowel movement.
The man arrived in the main hall and was waved hello by his mother, Willow.
"Alistair!" She yelled, positively jumping in satisfaction. The man awkwardly smiled and whispered a hello.
"Oh my star dancing Ithecal! You have gotten SO tall. You are even taller than your father, my little Lord." She smiled brightly, but then her expression dropped - fast. "Speaking of your dad, he's been headlong in his own asshole lately. Delana, some of the things he's been saying! The nerve of that man. Timeless." The firstborn merely rolled his eyes. His mother was always such a shit talker. She didn't really act like that around most people, but she had always decided for some odd reason that Alistair was always ready and willing to listen to whatever crude thing she wished to say about someone. Even so, he had to give her credit; she had been doing well lately, even despite her very dysfunctional family. Alistair only hoped he could do as well as her when he succeeded her title. If he could pull away from his obsessive Necromantic studies - then, maybe. But only then.
"Mother, where are the others? Have they arrived yet?" He asked. She merely shrugged. "Who knows. Your siblings act like Wisps, Alistair. I'd swear they were already dead with how little they speak to me these days. I mean, really. You'd think after the lovely childhood I gave them they'd think to say hello more than once a --"
The man sighed. Again. He swore ever since his mother lost her fertility she'd been the chattiest woman alive. And the most prone to complaining, which was something considering the existence of Nanny Eggens, who raised Alistair - begrudgingly - when his mother was having her gallant rides around the Kingdom to celebrate her previous rides around the Kingdom.
"Anyway, your brother and sister will be here, and even Tristan! So be a good showrunner and give them all a brilliant array of memories. I'm letting you take the reins of this reunion!"
His eyes stared into hers and he... sighed. God, how he hated to be home.