1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Fading Suns

Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Immaculate, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    9,043
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    The child-monkey has seen beautiful women apply paints and colors to their faces, and has sought to emulate them. He has taken his feces and applied them to his face with a kind of crude care. He now thinks himself better than all the other little monkeys. He thinks himself prettier than them. When all his little monkey friends refuse to play with him, he thinks it jealousy on their part. It is not. It is the stench of his pretentions.

    It is a coward’s way to hide behind skirts, like a small child being introduced to a stranger. For the child, it is to be forgiven. For a man, it is not, unless, perhaps, age has made a child of him again, since the little lord has forgotten that it is he who demanded satisfaction, and his satisfaction I intend to sate.

    If that is the case, it would be wrong to kill such a child. Instead, one of his blood may stand for him. As we are the party that is aggrieved and the one who was challenged both, we reject your claim that you are the poor victim in this matter. The little lord is not nearly as adept with words as he thinks he is, and though he may congratulate himself, a wheezing chortle in his study as he applies pen to paper for another of what he may think is a “bon mot,” those who know how to read see the puerile traps he has laid. Let this be an education for you. Repetition does not make truth, no matter how he may wish that.

    As for the matter of the ruins, there is nothing to be said. It is Azgheya land, no matter how much House Agichi has thrown a tantrum over it, performing an unbecoming show on the floor. No matter how many times Agichi Ho has thrown himself on the stonework before the Archbishop, fists and feet feebly thrashing against the floor, he has no say in the matter. It was settled long before the first tears flowed down the old Man-Child’s face. I do not respond to claims of illegitimacy, because they are made by one who cannot have a say, in the way of a child jealous that his elder brother has something he does not.

    Signed King Azgheya.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
    Immaculate likes this.
  2. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,547
    Dannydehz is dropping so if anyone wants Yrephys they are open.
     
  3. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,547
    From Duke Ouaras Yrephys
    To Duke Chundar Valushnya

    We would be very open to trading for the products of your renown palace gardens. We can offer <energy, materials, industry or tech>.

    If anyone claims Yrephys, they can decide to proceed with this diplo or not.

     
  4. Ailedhoo

    Ailedhoo wonderer

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    Messages:
    7,785
    On topic of recent tensions between houses it is a good time to share this wisdom of House Rémillard

    "Fools argue and dual: the wise get their opposition drunk and let them spoil themselves."

    Now if you fancy a mediator to help lessen the tension between you two...
     
    Immaculate likes this.
  5. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    9,043
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    To: Archduchess Naganaka Ichika of House Li Halan

    I pity you, my lady. Great words are spoken of your wisdom and clarity of speech, and your piety is renowned throughout the known worlds. I count myself amongst your friends, and hope you do me as well. It is with great regret, then, that I must inform you of the mewling coward who, by association with your great lineage, drags your name through the muck in which he happily wallows.

    This man, Duke Agichi Ho, whether it be because of failing wits, or simply a poor character emerging with age, spews insults at his betters to cloak his avaricious behavior. He covets that which is not his, has never been his, and could never be his, and seeks to wield power that is not his. He acts as if he were you, my lady, and not one of your vassals. It is said, true, that the King is responsible for all those under his rule, but in return, those subject to his leadership must not act in a way that impugns upon the Honor of his liege.

    Your vassal, I am sad to say, has with wild abandon attempted to wield the church for his own advantage, drawing under false pretexts the Brothers Battle into a conflict of his own instigation against my forces, and once that stratagem failed, attempted to fill the ears of His Holiness the Archbishop with spurious lies and deceit. I am eternally grateful that the light of Pancreator shielded the Archbishop, and gave him the wisdom to see the poison for what it was.

    Please, My lady, though I am forced to discipline your vassal, know that I still hold you in friendship and respect. Rest assured that I took every opportunity to allow your recalcitrant vassal to back down, to offer restitution. He spat in my face, and demanded satisfaction, and allowed greed to fill his soul. It is with great regret that I tell you these things.

    With Respect,
    Duke Ceviker of Azgheya, Master of Ulyçadyr, Lord of the Sands, Vales, and Winds, King of Azgheya.

    @Jehoshua
     
    Immaculate likes this.
  6. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,183
    To: Duke Ceviker of Herbert, Master of Ulycadyr, Lord of the Sands, Vales and Winds.

    -

    We have read transcripts of the exchange between the Duke Cevikers esteemed self and our vassal Duke Agichi. In response we shall quote a section from a letter of His Excellency the Archduke Hawkwood we received when we advised his vassal that if she failed in her obligations to faith and people in the face of heresy we would discipline her for our part.

    My Lord, you impugned His Excellency the Duke Agichi's motives, and through them our motives. You denigrated his person and through him our person. The Duke is a proud and honourable man and by writing to him with such ill-grace and subsequently referring to his person in such denigrating terms that when we read your letters in our palace on Clarke we had great difficulty believing they came from the pen from your esteemed personage, you invited upon yourself his ill-regard and manifest displeasure. Let us be frank, in writing to my representative on Herbert in such a vulgar manner you forget yourself and the proper courtesy due between the high nobility even as the Duke Agichi loses his composure in his displeasure, perhaps as you say as a consequence of his advancing years, in response to your impropriety in failing to give him face. That is not to say you have not insulted directly our "fading house" my Lord in your haste to throw the gauntlet. At any rate for our part when writing to the vassals of royal sovereigns, we write to them with respect and as if we were writing to the very master to whom they pledge fealty. Your Excellency ought to do the same for if you had done so this unfortunate state of affairs might have been averted.

    At any rate we have been advised that the Honourable Duke Agichi has withdrawn from the ruins and that when you challenged him to a duel after reading his widely disseminated letter to His Grace the Archbishop of Herbert he has subsequently proposed terms for the engagement in accordance with tradition. As a duel is a private matter of honour between two noble personages we cannot object to it despite the condemnation of the faith as far as the barbarous practice of judicial combat is concerned. Nonetheless we would urge you to aver dragging the reputation of our vassal, and of yourself, through the muck any further by peddling infantile denigrations and that you clearly accept the proposed terms or reject them.

    Regarding your assertion that your esteem of our House and desire for friendship with us remains undiminished. We are glad to hear so, and you will be glad to know that we are not so petty as to take quarrels between proud and foolish men to heart when considering the interests of our house. Men we find are vain creatures prone to wrathful outbursts best not taken too seriously. Although how can a woman truly know the mind of men? Know at any rate my Lord that we shall always and forever be well pleased to make common cause with House Azgheya in pursuit of the common good and in preserving the good order of relations between the great houses against any disturbances to our fraternal dominion over the worlds, particularly that manner of corruption that would allow the smoke of heresy to enter through some crack into the sacred sanctuary of our halls.

    Yours Faithfully

    ~ signed Archduchess Naganaka Ichika of Clarke, Tenno of House Li Halan

    -

    ooc translation: stop being so crude in your letters to the Duke, be clear in your responses to terms, and get a move on so this matter doesn't drag out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
    Immaculate likes this.
  7. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    9,043
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    (OOc: I'm summarizing the above for the save of brevity)

    1) We would of course not besmirch ourselves with the blood of the elderly, no matter how storied his past victories are. A man of your lineage may stand for you, strong and brave as their reputation.

    2) It is the way of the desert to fight without tools, without armor, hand to hand, skill to skill, and righteousness to righteousness, but if you have so been changed by your association with the outside, a sword and board will be allowed.

    3) If you insist. Be sure not to die of old age, or else your debt is carried onwards.
     
  8. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,183
    To Ceviker Azgheya

    -

    Finally after nigh twelve terran months of delays and interstellar communications due to your bluster and equivocation we have arranged the terms of the duel. Took you long enough, and here we were thinking you were trying to avoid the ordeal by baying like a dog until we withdrew out of boredom. At least to save Your Excellency the trouble of doing it yourself.

    Regarding your reply to the first term that is good. We shall appoint a champion to fight on our behalf on accounts of our advanced age

    Regarding your reply to the second term, with respect to your tribes unique custom we would be well pleased for the duel to consist of hand to hand combat.

    Regarding your reply the third, sadly the duel cannot occur this year due to the delays on your end and due to the important matters we have mentioned previously and the necessity of ensuring proper preparation and pageantry as befits a noble battle.

    Now that you have listened to My Liege and got to the point rather than being content with spouting childish insults we shall ensure that the battle is conducted in a fitting manner that the demands of honour may be appeased. Do not fret Your Excellency, if by chance you perish we shall ensure your corpse is returned intact to your kinsmen in a manner befitting your station.

    Let us await the day of the duel, for I accept the challenge.

    ~ Duke Agichi Ho.

    -

    ooc: an interstellar trip between clarke and herbert takes 6 months for a round trip. The Duchess has sent letters twice in response to correspondence (once from Agichi, once from Azgheya) which would indicate this exchange has taken approximately a terran year to get to this point.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  9. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    8,047
    Location:
    Not Lying through my teeth
    I am a Hazat

    While Novarch Izan the Hazat assured his youngest daughter, Amira Marcado, that the courses that she was taking at the Palace of Glory were equivalent to courses taken by any other potential cadets to archons, that did not mean she believed him.

    Novarch might have unbent enough to allow her to catch up with the best practices of social engineering and how to wrangle state of the art bath facilities, but he was never likely to allow her to extract confidential information from the private office of the Novarch.

    Which of course, was precisely what she intended on accomplishing.

    I am a Hazat

    She hoped that this mantra of hers would magically grant her the memories and wisdom of previous Hazats before her. Useful memories and wisdoms. Like how do I access the private data terminal of the Hazat Novarch? How do I get into his private journals? Never mind that she had no idea if any other Hazat would ever have considered (or were even capable of) breaking into their own office.

    At the moment, Amira was sitting in her suite at the Palace alone, listening to a poetry recital on the radio. The Novarch had invited her to said poetry recital, put on by archons pretending to be Io-Ian. Amira politely declined, saying crowds made her jittery. Nobody challenged her on this blatant lie.

    In truth, it was solitude that made her jittery. The wallpaper in her suite was colored green. Furnitures were crafted from wood--real wood, a relatively rare thing in Herbert. Sometimes she rearranged the furniture around her room, just to prove she could. Also because she wondered if it annoyed her watchers. She had no delusion of privacy at the Palace of Glory. She watered her potted plants, the same ones the Hazat Izan gave her years ago. He asked her about them every time they met, although she didn’t know why he cared so much about container gardening. None of this did anything to soothe the emptiness in her heart, not the bubbling wrath in her stomach. The fact that she had no allies here, and never would.


    The citadel of the Palace of Glory was wrong. It had gone through many renovations in her lifetime, and every time Amira felt more and more alien to the place. Instead of Hazat Black and Red, the Citadel was now dominated by Hazat Izan’s favorite color: soothing greenish-blue. Very few offices still were papered in red and black. “We have to uphold a few cliches for the benefit of the guests,” Hazat Izan told her when she asked about it.


    Gone were the tapestries woven from the uniforms of the dead, decorated with beads smelted from ruined guns and spent ammunition that she remembered as a child. Her nanny used to tell war stories of the dead heroes that these were created from. Gone was the tea set she shared with Rumi when they grew up together in the Palace.

    Rumi. Amira had a friend here, once, although memories of her old friend faded with every passing year. She vanished a few years ago on her fourteenth birthday. Rumi, whom she had an embarrassing crush on, and who, as far as Amira was aware, never showed any indication of interest in Amira. Not that way.

    Sometimes Amira found herself daydreaming about finding Rumi and--and then what? She had become much more wrathful, vengeful, as anger deep inside herself boiled over to fill every vacancy. This did not dissuade her from wanting to find out more about her friend. She became irrationally convinced that if Rumi found a happy life outside the palace, that Amira wasn’t a toxic influence on everyone she came into contact with.

    “She died young,” Hazat Izan told her when she asked about her recently. “An illness.” Amira knew this was a lie. The last memory that she had of Rumi was her proudly revealing her secret: she had been selected to be a cadet of the archons. Even Hazat Izan was not so foolish to lose his agents to some disease so young.

    I am a Hazat,

    Amira collected her breath, and drummed something on her radio. Morse code. Universal Lang. “S-A-F-E?”

    Moments later, faintly from her earpiece: “S-A-F-E.” Amira rung a little bell to her side, and called upon a maid to fetch her a book from the library. A piece of erotic literature. A plausible reason for why a teenager would want some time alone, surely? The archon-poet declaimed some verse about peacocks. She had never seen a peacock before, but she assumed they were mocking the Li Halan. Or something. She was never one for nuances.

    She crawled out through the window, climbing the walls of the palace. This would’ve been a lot harder, but thanks to months of planning and casing, she knew the location of the cameras and patrols, and had a detailed understanding of other security measures. Hard, as always, was a relative thing. For instance, just this moment, thanks to bribing and winning the affection of the servants around the palace, she knew with absolute certainty that the Hazat’s office would be empty. Besides, she had waited for years, polishing and hiding an advantage the best she could from the Hazat Izan.

    What Hazat Izan knew about her: in a manner unbecoming of a lady as was expected in these times, Amira Marcado trained herself in ways of war and combat, and possessed an athletic and toned body.

    What Hazat Izan possibly didn’t know about her: for years she studied the mechanisms of exo-armors in secret and won the respect and aid of the household armorers. With briberies and promises if necessary. With them, she had developed a special, lightweight, and relatively concealable exo-gear. It didn’t make her any stronger or able to deflect bullets, but power and ability of an exo-frame could take many forms, and in this case it took the form of hooks and stakes to enable her to climb stone walls.

    This allowed her to reach into the Hazat’s office and climb through the window that the maid left open for her.

    A sound from her right. Her head swiveled, her exo-gauntleted arm rising up to strike the unforeseen complication. It was a calico cat, named Nathuram Godse, stretching out in the sun. It was a pet of Zaid, Hazat Izan’s spymaster who liked naming his beasts after assassins. Amira started to sweat. The red and black uniform she wore clung damply to her back. She’d come this far, it would be a shame if she let the opportunity slip by this time. She immediately went up to her father’s private data terminal and began her first query.

    What the hell happened to you, Rumi? Did she really want to know what happened to her friend? The one she had tea parties with as kids? One she pined after but never asked out (and why didn’t she, anyways?)

    Rumi Terudo. Archon cadet, tracked as ‘archon infantry’. She wasn’t sure why even top secret documents like these insisted upon the euphemism for ‘assassin.’ When asked about it, Hazat Izan shrugged and said: “Habit.” Another one of his frustrating non-answers.

    State: training terminated as of 4798. The end date hit her like a truck. That was the year Rumi disappeared, during her birthday. The record did not end there. Rumi had not been expelled or assigned off planet. No, Rumi had died. The record specified in dry, bloodless detail, that Rumi ran afoul of a visiting Avestite inquisitor while playing a heresy game. Rumi committed suicide rather than face humiliation of an eccelesiastical trial or reveal any of her secrets.

    The game had been designed by one, Amira Marcado, the document noted.

    That can’t be right, Amira thought. I never intended for--

    Tears pricked at her eyes and she wiped them away with her gauntlets. Had she maneuvered her friend into suicide? Why did nobody tell Rumi about the visiting inquisitor’s presence? Why was the inquisitor here?

    The records had no answer.

    I loved her, Amira thought. And she’s gone. She’d look sideways at her during their games and tea parties admiring the fineness of her features. Longing to run her fingers through that mane of hair tied back in a ponytail. Wanting to feel her weight atop her’s.

    “I believe she died young, of illness,” she remembered Hazat Izan telling her, sparing her the truth. There was no way he didn’t know. She didn’t feel spared. She was not sure for what reason this information was kept from her for years.

    A smallest tapping noise through her radio. IS IT DONE. She taps back: ONE MORE THING.



    She had to dig around a bit more for what she was looking for. Hazat Izan named all his files sensible things and organized them well, which only mildly surprised Amira. As much as Izan loved to play whimsical, cruel, maniacal warlord, he cared for his successors. He cared that what he built should outlast him.



    “Not my problem,” Amira muttered to herself as she dug through more of the files. If she repeated it often enough, it might even become true. She opened the latest of the psychological evaluation profile that Novarch Izan ordered on all his relatives and successors. It was a long and dreary read that took effort not to skim.

    She already knew that she was unfit for a social debut. Probably not fit for command role, she knew that too. Possibly not fit to appear in any public places due to her tendency to let her mouth fly. Possibly of deviant and heretical nature. Well, of course.

    Possess no phobia of the dark. Why in seven hells did they even care enough to note this down?

    At last, she came to Zaid’s recommendation. “Recommend marrying off on earliest convenience to assure powerful alliance.”

    Her hand slipped and she almost ended up deleting the entire file. Stupid! She knew all activities would be logged and that Hazat Izan could recover any suspiciously deleted files. Stupid, because she shouldn’t care. Zaid was civil to him, but she knew there was no love lost between them.

    WILL NEED MORE HELP THEN REALIZED, she tapped out through her radio transceiver. A moment of silence.

    ASK AWAY, came the reply.

    GET ME TO COACHMAN AGORA. Hazat Izan's personal terminal was not the only place where top secret information was stored. Perhaps the Death Court in Byzantium would have answers not found here.

    A silence. Then: WE SEE A WAY.

    …………………………………………………………………………………………….

    She had a few options, if she wanted to leave the Palace.

    She could take Hazat Ronan’s favorite aeroplane. It was sleek, advanced, probably the fastest thing the Hazat had. She knew how to pilot the thing, somewhat. Okay, so she only had studied the schematics and basic pilot instruction manuals in detail, but how hard could it be?

    But while she wasn’t really privy to her House’s security arrangements, if Ronan didn’t post the best of his jarheads around the plane at all times she would eat the Hazat Izan’s entire annual chocolate supply. (She hated chocolate, which Hazat Izan refused to believe. They had multiple arguments about it. Life at the Citadel was somewhat unpredictable).

    The escape tunnel and the small shuttle at the end of it, on the other hand…

    The hidden escape tunnel’s entrance was unguarded. This was not exactly strange--being guarded all the time would defeat the purpose of it being secret in the first place. Quick sprint through the tunnels later, and she was in the woods outside Shaddam.

    By now quite a long time had passed. She moved fast as she could with the help of her exo-suit, but she suspected that Hazat Izan discovered she was gone by now.

    And true enough, first of the personnel carriers were arriving as she darted from the tunnel into the treeline, barreling through the forest and following the poorly-managed dirt roads, and disgorging its payload of archon operatives. Some of them, Amira could tell, were using some light exo-suits like herself.

    She didn’t particularly like these odds. All she had was a backup pistol and a survival knife, alongside her cobbled-together and jury rigged exo-suit. These were archon operatives. They might have been called into service in a hurry, but they were coming fully equipped. Whether “fully equipped” meant state-of-the-art gear, or hand-me-downs due to the budgetary constraints that Hazat Izan was constantly complaining about was not important. She was confident that they would outgun her even if they were using equipment all the way back from the Grand Republic.

    Her best asset was her wits and, well, herself. Archons weren’t exactly expected to face heavy combat. None of them likely ever saw any actual combat against a foe with more weapons than farming equipment. She had trained with Raphael Evuardo and the Chromium Claw. Still, she tried her best not to underestimate them.

    The operatives were quickly moving out into dispersed formation as they tracked into the woods after her. Likely cautious for any traps or explosives that Amira might have escaped with. Amira climbed up into the trees to avoid them, and things went almost immediately wrong when a thorny branch manages to get in between the gaps of her cobbled together exo-suit and tear a gash across her arm. She let out a hiss and made herself concentrate before the archons heard her scramble. Damned if she was going to let herself down by wimping out at such a trivial injury, at least, by her standard. She leapt from tree to tree, trying to keep her movement silent and undetected. She would be a sitting duck if she got discovered here, but really, who would expect her to have a mobility exo-suit? It also wasn’t as if she expected to encounter Hazat Ronan or whatever atop a tree writing poetry or whatever. (According to Hazat Izan, Ronan’s poetry were all terrible, pornographic, or both anyways).

    The personnel carrier, after disgorging its personnel, was scurrying to continue down the dirt road. This was a mistake in this terrain, but at this point, anything short of teleportation would’ve been a tactical error for the personnel carrier to make. When the winding road forced the carrier close to the tree that she had maneuvered atop of, she jumped. She had just enough time to think: why didn’t I design a more aerodynamic exo-suit for this? And also to contort herself sideways so that her neck wouldn’t snap from the impact.

    She almost blacked out from the pain, but when she came to a second later, she found herself clinging to the top of the personnel carrier as the panicked drivers struggled to right the vehicle fishtailing on the rough dirt road. Then, the carrier rammed into a tree, and flung her forward into more trees. More bloody trees! By Pralaya, she never wanted to see another tree for the rest of her life. And a pox on Izan’s inexplicable obsession with green plants while at it. The branches of the forest flayed at her armor all the way as she was thrown into the forest. Inanely, she thought that this always looked more fun in all the pornographic literature that she read. Maybe she was doing this wrong.

    As the shouts of archon operatives drew closer, she could tell she was now draped over a tree branch rather uncomfortably. God, if she survived the experience, she never wanted to see another tree in her life again. Or a plant. Well, maybe the container garden she was absolutely sure that Hazat Izan would take care for her during her absence, in between coaxing people to eat candies, ordering assassinations, and annoying Zaid. (Amira did not like Zaid, because Zaid thought the best place for her was off planet wedded to some fop, but she conceded that Zaid had a singularly thankless job).

    Next time I run afoul of people, I wante it to be the Bureaucrats, Amira thought, aware that she was whining. She could have a nice action-filled month or two filling out paperwork and being yelled at for doing them wrong. It would be a nice vacation. The drivers to the personnel carriers were approaching, guns drawn, to her position. She could see the terror in their eyes through her helmet. Did we just kill a Marcado? They were probably thinking something along those lines.

    She answered their question for them by exploding into action when they came into striking range, throwing one into a tree and delivering a punch into the other’s face. She hoped she didn’t kill either of them. That would make for some awkward conversation later. She limped into the vehicle and began driving like a maniac down the road as the first of the archons emerged from the treeline to begin firing upon the carrier.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Novarch Izan the Hazat’s day started nicely enough. It started with a nice meditation session, an unexpectedly optimistic meeting with Financial, and a delightful new type of confectionary. He’d carved out all the time he could to pat Marcus Brutus, the cat, who had matured from a particularly scatter-brained chinchilla tailed kitten to a lazy ball of fur whose only ambition in life was to be a pillow. Hazat Izan didn’t like cats very much but patting them made his steward, Zaid, happy and thus put Izan in his good graces.

    He had gone to a poetry recital for the afternoon, inviting his children together for some rare family time. Amira had rejected, of course, as he expected. Puberty. Or something.

    He’d gone to bed, marvelling at the possibility of a nap, when alarms blared in his office. Swearing, he ran to the terminal in his bedchamber.

    “The bloody hell is it?”

    The image of Zaid, his steward popped up. He had a black cat perched atop his shoulder. “Sir, your fishing expedition has borne fruit.”

    By fishing expedition, Zaid meant the elaborate and overcomplicated scheme that he and Izan cooked up to test Amira’s abilities and secrets. For a while, it was clear that his daughter was hiding something and attempting to build a network of allies and some kind of tech-device behind Izan’s back. Izan found this behavior adorably precocious, so in a fine Marcado fashion elected to give her a rather long length of rope to see how she hanged herself with it.

    The operation was hideously expensive. Involved quite a lot of supplies for his daughter to pursue her ‘hobby.’ He was glad, however, that she was finally growing into her own person. “Well where is she now?” Hazat Izan asked.

    “We are having some difficulty tracking her,” Zaid reported. “But our analysts believe she’s headed towards the agora.”

    The coachmen’s agora? Now why would she be headed there? “Very well,” Izan said. “Dispatch Lady Dulcinea to intercept her. End this little game.”

    Izan terminated the link. Maybe tomorrow, or the day after that, Dulcinea would bring her his wayward daughter soon enough. No way a little girl could evade his best for long. For now he summoned a servant to get Amira’s plants brought into his room. No sense in letting good plants die.

    He went back to his naps. Few hours later, he awoke to go to a meeting regarding Duke Dulcinea’s slight overexpenditure with regard to Absu’s wedding dress. Had a bit of a headache, and wrote to Jose about the activities of the Death Court on Byzantium in a somewhat foul and dour mood. He argued with Zaid about whether confectionaries counted as bread, and had clams for dinner.

    Tomorrow morning, he began to wonder if it was possible for a little girl to evade his best after all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  10. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    9,043
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale


    The Great Citadel of Ulyçadyr, Throne of Azgheya, seen here clothed in a resplendent cloak of fresh greenery - unusual, save for the highflood period.
     
    Zappericus likes this.
  11. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,183
    Morning Breakfast

    -

    It was in the morning, after the divine liturgy had been sung in the myriad temples and chapels of Clarke, that Archbishop Leonid Mirmah summoned Archduchess Naganaka Ichika to join him for breakfast in what he called his "morning room". Two kind-eyed palace guards together with a coterie of the Archduchesses own sisters of the graceful appeared at the door to her quarters in the Archiepiscopal compound as she was praying and escorted her down various hallways to a lovely room full of flowers and sunlight, a rare sight in stormy Clarke. The Archduchess, dressed in her formal black kimono and wearing a tactfully subdued hairpiece, greeted the Archbishop with a nice smile just inside the doorway. After the two luminaries honoured each other with deep bows, the Archbishop led her over to the eastern windows where a small plastic table had been set for a light meal. Leonid dismissed the guards then with a wave of his hand, telling them that he wished to dine with the Archduchess alone. The Archbishops keepers looked at Ichika as if they might have invited in a tigress from the wild, but at last they bowed politely and left the room closing the heavy wooden door behind them. Ichika pulled out Leonid's chair politely while the elderly Archbishop sat down and then gracefully joined him at the table.

    'We love this time of morning,' Leonid said.

    Ichika looked out of the window, down at the ocean. Except for the flares of aerospace shuttles going hither and yon between the holy city and the battle-brothers fleet in orbit in preparation to act against the piracy afflicting the southern archipelagos, the day was clear and bright. The waters just beyond the cities concrete sea-wall shimmered in a river of light that led straight out to where the blazing sun hung low in the sky.

    'It is splendid,' Ichika agreed.

    'Would you care for some juice?' Leonid asked. Politely he waited for her to say 'yes', and then with his steady old hands, picked up a glass pitcher and poured a strange green juice into two fluted glasses, of Mayish make to show his refinement. He moved in a precise yet smooth manner, as if he were watching himself and judging his gracefulness – or lack thereof – according to the most exacting of measures. 'Well,' he said, 'those guards have left us alone, but we are in no danger, are we?'

    Ichika did not know if the 'we' to which he referred included both of them or only himself as the Holy Archbishop. So she smiled and asked, 'Can one ever truly be free from danger?'

    Ichika continued. 'I am no danger to your physical self,' she smiled "But I am probably a danger to your public self. To your episcopacy.'

    'How clearly you see things no laywoman should see!'

    'And I am certainly a danger to your religious self.'

    Leonid took another sip of juice and smiled at Ichika. 'We have sensed this, too. Your beliefs while orthodox are in some ways at odds to ours.'

    'But, truly,' Ichika said. 'I believe only in the truth. One should be able to face the universe naked in the mind and accept it in all its beauty and terror despite how much the heart desires to flee from it, yes?' Indeed the Archduchess thought, only the truth will set one free.

    'And that,' Leonid said, his eyes downcast 'is perhaps the most dangerous belief of all.'

    'But that is not a simple belief. It is simply what is.'

    'Oh, indeed, yes – you are a dangerous woman,' Leonid said, almost laughing. 'Perhaps that is why we have invited you here to this table.'

    'To test your beliefs?'

    'How clearly you understand! How fragile faith in one's religion and in the Pancreator must be if it breaks at the first testing.'

    'I do not believe ... that your faith is fragile Your Grace.'

    'We shall see,' Leonid said. And then, noticing that Ichika's cup of juice remained untouched, he encouraged her to drink. He was the Archbishop of Clarke, paragon of the Universal Church of the Celestial Sun and the God's vice-regent to the people thereof, but he was first a grandfather who liked to see that all his children were well fed.' It's juice from the lime fruit, from Holy Terra itself' Leonid said his face betraying no small measure of pride. 'Do you like it?'

    'Yes, very much,' Ichika said, after taking a sip from her glass. The juice was sharp and acidic and very sweet. 'Shall we also send for some tea?'

    'Yes, if you'd like.' 'But what would you like?'

    Ichika considered this for a moment. And then, naming perhaps her only vice, she asked, 'Have you any coffee?'

    'We're sorry, but we don't serve coffee in our house. The Omega Gospels tell us that it's vexing to the body to drink hot drinks. Isn't this all we need to know?'

    "Indeed" Ichika frowned with mild disappointment.

    While Ichika drank her juice and thought about this, a tutelary automaton (a near blasphemous artifact in Ichikas mind, even if it hailed from Holy Terra) bearing a platter of food rolled into the room. It set various bowls and dishes on the table and refilled Leonids juice pitcher before rolling away. Then, almost as if he was preparing a plate for one of his great-grandnieces despite the Archduchesses age, Leonid used a pair of tongs to serve Ichika slices of hot bread. He spread the bread with a black, protein paste made from one of the plants native to the isles of Uyish. Aside from a thin, cool herb soup and a few sections of some scarlet-fleshed fruit this was all they had. The Commentaries written by the saints over the millennia proscribed a spare breakfast to ward off gluttony, and in any case, Leonid did not like to eat much better than his fellow faithful, many of whom had only bread for their morning meal. Ichika reflected that many serfs were too poor to afford the variety of plant foods necessary to good health and how the statistics from the Li Halan clinics reported many cases of disease caused by malnutrition. This sad estate of her people distressed Ichika as it clearly distressed the Archbishop who shared the same troubles in his own see. No matter how many new food factories were built, he said, no matter how deeply into the earth the serfs mined for minerals and how ever many forests were cleared for farmland, there never seemed to be quite enough for his children to eat properly. Ichika never doubted Leonids sincerity. She loved the kindness she saw in his soft, dark eyes, his rare grace and charm. As she knew, he had advanced to the Archiepiscopacy not only because he possessed a superior intellect and strength of spirit, but out of his great reverence towards the Pancreator and his willingness to care for others, even those who scorned him and treated him as an enemy. Possibly no other Archbishop since the beginning of the Universal Church would have tolerated His Excellency Exarch Tang Jutasas open disrespect, or acted with such restraint against an outbreak of heresy in his own see. But Leonid regarded them, as he did all of his people, as children of the Church - and therefore as children of the Pancreator, the very children of God.

    "We must apologise for Exarch Juntasa's words, the line between true passion for God and mere zeal is as fin as the edge of a razor. While he acts in good faith, sometimes its difficult to know when one has crossed over" Ichika inclined her head.

    "Yes... it can be" Leonid said.

    Nonetheless Your Grace, while we believe that Exarch Juntasa's actions, risking as they do schism in the Church, manifest only a vitium, an error. On the other hand do not the Eurygnostics attest to a doctrine entirely contrary to the Pancreator's plan for the universe, a mortal sin, a.."

    'A Heresy yes.' The Archbishop interrupted.

    'I see.' 'It is true would like to believe that Exarch Juntasa acts only from a vitium and that he would be amenable to fraternal correction and will obey legitimate authority.' The Archbishop smiled. "Indeed. All of us may run these negative programs of the mind that lead us into error.'

    Into madness, Ichika thought, remembering the hellish eyes of the few Eurygnostic agitators who dared protest against her as her coche* passed along the main avenue of the episcopal city to Leonid's palace – and other eyes that she had seen in audiovisual media sent from Byzantium-Secundus of rebels and Eudaezian cultists. She inscribed in her heart once more the conviction that it is always possible to fall mad.

    'But even heretics,' Leonid said, smiling, knowing it seemed the secret thoughts of Ichika's heart 'may find their way through the Church into heavenly beatitude by the Pancreator's mercy".

    'No heretic that we have known Your Grace. As the Commentaries state "to embrace mortal sin is to kill the life of the Pancreator's grace in ones soul and invite divine wrath"" Ichika frowned as she stabbed at a slice of pitaya. "Further, salvation is only through the Church"

    'But these wayward children are still children of the Church good Duchess,' Leonid said, chidingly.

    Ichika frowned 'I am a ruling sovereign Your Grace – we sovereigns live facing the demands of reality. You know our position on heresy, if you continue to aver the traditional methods of suppression than the disorder already becoming manifest in Uyish will only deepen, and the piracy which our friends amongst the brothers battle have come from across the stars to quell will move beyond either of our abilities to control'

    She sighed "Sometimes it is better to cut off the diseased hand which causes you to sin, than to try and save it."

    The Archbishop screwed his face as if he had swallowed a bitter herb 'There are those who will say that we should have ascertained this before allowing you to visit us in our palace.'

    "Tang Juntasa?'

    Leonid nodded his head.

    'There are those who will say that no heretic should be permitted to speak, nor permitted to remain with life intact and that we ourselves are of one mind with the heretics for not consigning them all to the flame. They say too that this resurgence in piracy is because of our leniency."

    'I ... am sorry.'

    'No, this was our oversight. We never dreamed that the situation would deteriorate so quickly. We had at least hoped that the Order of the Eternal Word proposed by houses Decados and Garatheade would quell discontent and bring these wayward sheep back into the fold '

    'Alas the problems of obstinacy and of lack of funding'

    Again Leonid nodded his head. He had clearly been sorely vexed by funding shortfalls from the two houses who had supported a lenient policy.

    'Almost all of Clarke has a stake in how events unfold, Archduchess. We would hope that they can unfold without a repeat of the avestite purges on Byzantium-Secundus"

    'Perhaps there is a way ... a way to provide instruction without risking the lives and souls of the innocent?'

    Leonid smiled 'One can hope, but the law of unintended consequences is one of the paradoxes of life in this fallen galaxy isn't it?'

    'Yes, I suppose it can be,' Ichika said.

    After they had finished their breakfast, Leonid said yet another prayer in blessing of the food they had eaten. He stood up from his chair, then, and he moved about the room. A spry old man he seemed full of life and boundless energy, like a bird. And like a bird – a hummingbird of old Amerika – he flitted from place to place, here and there, straightening a mirror upon the wall or using his strong fingers to prune a dead leaf from one of his many potted plants shaped in the Li Halani fashion into forms more natural than nature, or touching the face of a cherished icon of Saint Attila, whom was accounted patron of the faithful of the Archbishops hometown back on Awroth. Ichika loved to watch him move. She loved the intense consciousness of himself as a realization of one tiny part of God's holy will for the universe. This consciousness coloured all that he did. Indeed before he had become the Archbishop, he had been an exemplar of the Operatic Order, a minor monastic sect amongst many in the orthodox fold, and he believed in line with this orders teaching in an exact adherence to the programs for living as set forth in the Commentaries and the Omega Gospels. But he did not obey these rules blindly as might an Avestite. He did not constrain his actions out of fundamentalism or fear, but rather from his reverence for life. All that a son or daughter of the Church did – the foods that she ate (or shunned), her prayers, her words and thoughts – every detail of her life should reflect her love of God. In truth, it was the orthodox ideal to bring God into every aspect of life, to behold the Pancreators infinite face in such finite things as a flower or even a plastic cup. Where the Avestites and even many of the Eskatonics valued the commentaries only because they prescribed a way that human beings might live contentedly as human beings in a universe of vast scope and in a civilisation rife with bewildering and heretical technologies, Leonid revered them for their own sake. Each dictum, each prayer in preparation before the holy rites or ritual words spoken at one of his grand-nephews births, was a symbolic gesture designed to bring him into a greater awareness of God. Each of the many religious objects in his room, from his devotionary icon of Saint Attila to the Holy Omega Gospels writ and bound in gold and set up all in line upon a quaint wooden bookshelf, was a sacred work that the commentaries suggested all the faithfufl should display. For each physical representation of the cosmic ideal – was a point of contact with the divine.

    It was Leonid's hope, Ichika realised, that his people would regard the Pancreators plan for man even as he regarded the mysterious symbol of the supernal godhead which hung above the altar of every orthodox temple: with obedience, with thankfulness, with faith, and above all, with wonder.

    'We've lived a long time,' Leonid said thoughtfully as he returned to the table and sat back down. 'We've seen many strange and marvellous things. But in all those years, the strangest of all, we believe, is how many endeavors started with good intentions turn to evil ends". He poured Ichika's tea.

    "Such is the nature of heresy Your Grace, they all start with good intentions, indeed what is more alluring to the heavily burdened than the belief that he can directly interface with God and interpret the truth on his own?' Ichika placed her teacup back upon its saucer.

    'Yet this is an abomination. A heresy. If it is not punished justly then this mental contamination will spread and society shall fall into chaos. There truly is nothing new under the sun Your Grace, this is the same errant doctrine that led the Republic to apostasy'

    'I see. They desire power yes?. The power to shape their own fate'

    'Indeed. We believe that power is their purpose. A lie though it is.' Ichika poured tea into the Archbishops cup.

    "The power to escape the strictures of orthodoxy, and perhaps to once again spread out into the stars? and more..' Leonid said, taking a sip of tea.

    'My Archduchess, we believe, that the eurygnostics still respect the authority of our Episcopacy, but we will not live forever, in this form. You must know that it's Exarch Juntasa's hope to become the Archbishop after we have died and gone on to our judgment. He hopes to purge all the heretics and we fear that this will lead only to ruin. The Eurygnostics will fight against him and we dread what this will mean for the Church and for Clarke.'

    'And do you have hopes of your own, then?'

    'We dream of a unified Church, of course. The true Church is in all people, in all places – we would see all peoples take joy in the Pancreators holy will. We would bring the power of God to everyone, everywhere.'

    'I see.'

    'We would like to believe that a part of Exarch Juntasa still hopes for this, too.'

    Ichika look at Leonid quizzically and said, 'I ... have never known anyone who tried so hard to find the good even in bad men. But yes, I believe the Exarch does want to see all people submit to the Holy Will, and that it is his love for all the flock that spurs him to advocate his approach.' A brief image unbidden of Duke Agichi Ho and Duke Ceviker Azhgeya flashed in her minds eye before she waved it away and refocused on the Archbishop.

    Leonid smiled and then laughed softly into the sleeve of his cassock. 'We would never have believed you were such a charitable woman Archduchess.'

    'But of course we insist you must execute the law and institute penalties. Even as we desire unity in the Church and the conversion of all people. Mercy Your Grace cannot usurp the place of justice. To punish the wicked and reward the just. This is charity no? Just as to ignore piracy is to condone it, so is it that one who has the power to act cannot be silent in the face of heresy".

    Leonid nodded and wryly smiled.

    'We're afraid our Holy Church is inherently conservative. But unfortunately we conserve the negative as well as the positive.'

    'Isn't this the nature of orthodoxy?'

    'Indeed it is.'

    'But even so, our Church has always provided for legitimate differences in views yes?'

    'What do you mean Archduchess?'

    'The Eskatonics, the Blossoms, the Avestites and all the minor orders ... Holy Church has always allowed for these different emphases, different points of view, of the same one and holy faith. Perhaps you can remind the good exarch of this and provide a means by which multiple approaches could be taken to the problem of the Eurygnostics.

    "ooh" The Archbishops eyes blazed as he seized upon the Archduchess' words like a Fleshflayer squid upon a fishermans hook.

    "And what do you propose, Archduchess".

    "Have a look at this"

    The Archduchess took a folder from out of a fold in her kimono and passed it to the Archbishop before sipping from her teacup.

    "Perhaps you will find this proposal interesting".

    and at last the Archduchess gave a full and genuine smile.

    -

    notes

    Spoiler :
    * derived from coach, referring to an automobile of some kind.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2020
  12. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,547
    gentle reminder: Orders are due tomorrow at 6pm EST.
     
  13. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    9,043
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    The Hunt

    She inhaled deeply, the rich scent of the sunbaked sand clinging to her nostrils. She blinked, careful to not lose sight of the ripple in the sand that was her prey. She blinked again, the salt of her sweat seeping down through the tight rim of her abaya and into her eyes.

    Unpleasant.

    Even more so was her new awareness of the dribbles of sweat running down her body, under her abaya. They ran, cold, and she could feel the water pooling in the tightness around her joints. Its fabric was designed to help wick moisture away, into reservoirs, keeping her cool. Here, in the high desert, away from the floodplains and the shade of the hills, it would serve as little more than a brief respite.

    She took a swig of water from the little tube that ran up from the reservoirs at the base of her back. Cool, thank the Pancreator, the fridger working despite the beating sun. Cool, but with the slight off taste that all reclaimed water had. Still, it was better than sunstroke.

    Sunstroke would leave her here, until nightfall, when the others would return with their prizes. And then the locator beacon implanted under her skin at birth would ping, and the chopper would come pick her insensate body up, and she would have failed.

    And that would not do.

    Lydia Azgheya, eldest daughter of Canan Azgheya and Bahadur Hazat, would not fail. Could not fail. The price of failure would be too much to pay, as would the disappointment writ on her mother’s face, and the scowl of disgust on her father’s. No, failure would not be an option.

    There! The rustle of sand cascading down the side of the dune. The wrong side of the dune. Away from the stone ridge. Towards her.

    “Clever girl.” Lydia whispered.

    Pulling a rod from the pouch at her back, she plunged it into the ground. As soon as it crunched into the sand, the light at the top blinked to life, and the sand beneath vibrated. A dull, echoing thump. Each and every rod had been a stressful moment, a test of her own ingenuity. They were her invention, an adaption of the rods used by the dwellers of the deep desert to demarcate territory.

    Thump.

    Thump.

    Thump.


    She paused for a minute, counting the seconds between the thumps. “Perfect.” It was the thump of the walk of a sand-strider, the apex predator of the deserts. Instantly, the ripple under the sand tacked in a different direction.

    The right direction.

    This was the most important moment. The hunt had lasted all day, Lydia alternating between hunter and hunted, first isolating the Sand-caiman from its pack, pushing and luring it towards the ridge. Towards the trap. The Caiman was a wiley creature, but had not realized that the sand-strider that had been tracking it all day was actually the same human that it had thought to make a meal repeatedly.

    If it realized it was being driven onto the rocks, there was a chance that it’d realize that this was a trap, and if it saw through that... well, it’d turn. And a sand-caiman’s teeth could cut through the thick material of the Abaya. It wouldn’t matter if the beacon went off, if it was in the belly of the beast.

    She would win.

    --------------

    The sound of rushing water was rare on most of Herbert. Not so in the great citadel of Ulycydyr. The tops of all but the tallest tower were condensers, drawing moisture from the skies of the planet, feeding it into great cisterns in the belly of the mesa on which the palace perched. From there, it fed the palace’s hundreds of kitchens, washrooms, laundries, rooms, and, most impressively, its great fountains. They were waterfalls in their own right, water pouring down hundreds of carefully chiseled flumes, before exploding in great glints of refracted light down the sides of the mesa, feeding, finally into the river at the distant base.

    It was symbolic, in many ways.

    He ignored that thought.

    It was not an appropriate thought. The Pancreator had established the way of things, and that order was as it should be.

    He sat upon the soft cushion of the chair, eyeing the jungle that clung like a thick cloak to the sides of the Çadyrsütüni. The song of life that rang from that jungle echoed up, and he flinched, with a bit of disgust.

    “My Lord Arslan. The traps are laid.” A young servant approached, standing a respectful meter behind him.

    “Very good.” He paused, picking at the grapes on the plate before him. “Zahair, come. Join me. Have a grape.”

    “My Lord?”

    “I insist. Come.”

    “Very well, my lord.”

    “Let me be blunt, Zahair. When I am Lord Azgheya, I will need friends. Trusted, loyal, friends.”

    “I am but a page, my lord.”

    “You are a page now, yes. But do you deny that you are the favorite of Butler Jarman, expected to soon replace Butler Shreyhar when he retires?”

    “No, my lord.”

    “And do you deny that Butler Jarman is my Lord Father’s... eyes amongst the staff?”

    “I do not, my lord.”

    “And do you deny, Zahair, that you were responsible for the capture of one Rebeka, washerwoman, in a plot to murder my beloved lady mother?”

    “I... no, my lord.”

    “And do you deny your ambition?”

    “No, my lord.” Zahair sounded resigned.

    “Very well, Just a page boy.” He gestured forward, and then sat, his hand resting gently upon the protrusion of his belly. “Sit with me. I have a need of a friend, now that my brother has gone mad and left us.”

    “I wouldn’t presume, my lord.”

    “No, no. It is madness. He gave all of this” He gestured lazily around, “away. For what?”

    “If I may, my lord, for ambition. The same you see yourself.”

    Arslan turned. “Ambition, you say? He gave this all up! Explain.”

    “I was born at the base of the great pillar, my lord. I was born in a small house, but my parents were not poor. Glassworkers, skilled, and, if they had had their way, I’d have followed in their path. But I looked up, my lord, every day, and no piece of glass my grandfather blew, no chiseled crystal my mother had worked, ever compared to the crystalline water in the skies. I looked up, my lord, and I knew what I would never have more, if I didn’t work for it.”

    “I think I see.”

    “Yes, my lord. Just as I joined your household, just as I have moved to serve you, your brother’s faith is his pillar, the Pancreator’s light his crystal water in the skies.”

    “You may be right, Zahair. And I thank you for speaking with me honestly.”

    “It is my honor, my lord.”

    “No, my friend. It is my honor. I will speak with Butler Jarman. You will serve me directly.”

    “If I may, my lord, I would rather not. It would not” He paused, searching for words, “be prudent.”

    Arslan laughed, a high, shimmering laugh, before answering. “No, Zahair. You are right. But I will remember you, and this, when I am lord. Be my eyes, be my ears, and the crystal skies will be yours.”

    He stood abruptly, the grapes falling to the floor in wild abandon.

    “Now, come. The traps we have laid will have caught that pack of Spider-Monkeys Cookie was complaining about yesterday.”

    -----------

    Pahlavan stood tall. His face, chiseled, though fairer than that of his brood of cousins, was still the classically bronzed Azgheya color. He laughed, a clear, high laugh, and raised his sword to the sky. It glowed, the blood of the Hacan steaming away under the vibrating heat of the shimmer-blade.

    The beast’s body was at his feet, and he bent, dipping his fingers into the blood and rubbing it on his face. The symbol he painted was not his, but that of the Tiger Claw Yakuza clans of Byz-Sec, he knew, but he respected the beast’s strength, and its cunning. Just as his father had respected the trouble they had given when he first took over the Azgheya demesne on Byzantium-Secundus.

    The day was over, he knew. He had slain the Hacan, the most cunning and fearsome beast of the desert. It would be his personal sigil, even if he was passed over. Not that he would be. He knew that the hunt was mostly symbolic, and that the choice had likely already been made, and that he was the best candidate. Still, his strength was that of the Hacan, and it would be a good foundation upon which to start his reign. A story, for the serfs to tell.

    (And even if he was passed over, he’d serve the rightful Lord Azgheya honorably. He could do no less.)

    He looked down at the beast, trapped in its warren of razor-stone, and slain in its own demesne, and then looked down at himself. His abaya, silver-glint dimmed with grime and blood, was still resplendent, the cat rampant of the sigil gleaming on his chest.

    A roar echoed through the maze of razor-stones, and he started.

    A mate.

    He had not expected that, but then again, there had been much he had not expected on this planet. Still, this problem would be solved just like any other: Through bravery and grit.

    The Hacan’s blood stung against his face, and he gritted his teeth, before roaring back into the catacombs.

    His roar echoed, and he grinned, satisfied that his prey knew that he was there.

    He sheathed the shimmer-blade, and strode into the depths, his Abaya’s luminescence providing a bit of a red glow, enough to see, but not enough to affect his vision. The shadows danced, and he felt the thrill of the hunt.

    Another roar echoed through the sharp passageways, a sharp, coughing warning.

    The twists and turns spoke to Pahlavan of the ruined slums of his birth-planet, and the hunter’s roar of the scream of the snagger. He clutched the beak that hung from his belt at that memory, and, for a moment, the row of circular scars on his right arm twinged in sympathy.

    He remembered that hunt acutely, the serfs of Azgheya petitioning his father to send a division to apprehend the beast that had been stealing their children. They had done so regularly, especially those that lived near the snagger nesting grounds, near the ocean. He had offered to hunt it, as was his duty as a liege, and had expected it to be a small beast.

    It had not been. While most snaggers that prey on babies were small, dog-sized at most, this beast had been the size of a small horse, clearly an elderly creature that had survived on its cunning until it had grown large enough to hunt humans.

    It had hunted many serfs, many guardsmen, many soldiers.

    It had hunted him, just as the Hacan was now hunting him.

    And he had slain it, taking tentacle after swinging tentacle with his blade until nothing remained but a slavering corpse, still biting at him with its beak, even as its lifeblood drained into the cracked asphalt.

    He was reliving that hunt, as he turned the corner and found the Hacan.

    The Hacan stood before him, fangs bared, a hissing cough.

    Pahlavan drew his blade, and grinned, the anticipation of the hunt writ on his face. The Hacan lunged, and he swung, but its attack didn’t bring it anywhere near him. Instead, it darted away, before faking a lunge again.

    He paused, pondering. None of the beasts he had hunted on byz-sec had acted that way, each and every one acting with aggression at the first opportunity.

    Again, it lunged, staying just out of reach. It hissed as he swung and missed. Again, and again, it faked its lunges, drawing ever closer, but still, staying out of reach. Its tail flicked in frustration, a familiar gesture, whether the cat was his nurse’s old tom-cat, or this desert predator.

    Finally, he drove it past a last corner, and the Hacan yowled in despair, its golden fur slumping and its fangs glinting in the darkness.

    Behind it, he could see a soft nest, and within it, a litter of kits.

    A mate, and cubs, then. He backed slowly, and the Hacan tensed, and then relaxed, emitting a soft yowl of anger.

    “You weren’t hunting,” he whispered.

    The Hacan yowled again, as if in answer.

    “You were protecting your young.” He whispered, again. “No beast back home would do that.”

    The hacan hissed, though its tone was softer as he backed away.

    “Will you let me leave?” He asked, though he knew the creature wouldn’t answer.

    It meowed at him, a hostile, warning meow, and its tail twitched again.

    Slowly, he backed away, retreating into the maze. When he reached the surface, the bright sun burning his eyes, he heard a last warning roar. He took it as it was meant, and offered a quick prayer to the Pancreator for the lesson he had been taught. He knew that it was a lesson he’d have to learn, if he were to rule House Azgheya.
     
    Immaculate likes this.
  14. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,183
    To House Gwung-Lou

    We are deeply saddened to hear that the honourable Duke Gwung-Lou Zheng whom we met on our visit to Awroth is suffering under the yoke of illness. Yet my brothers and sisters, do not let your hearts be troubled, for his suffering does not avail nothing nor would his death, if that is what the Pancreator's will, be worthless. No in being scourged in the flesh the Duke has been given a great grace, for should he freely offer up his sufferings to the Pancreators holy will his torments shall avail for the redemption of souls and the forgiveness of not only his sins but for those of others*. In such a way the gates of expiation and repentance are open to him until the day comes that being purified in the flesh through suffering he shall pass to his final judgement and, God-willing, to the Celestial Sun that never sets, Our Lord.

    Nonetheless my dear brethren, we are certain that with the ardent prayers of his people and those of all the worthy of Clarke being turned heavenward in intercession for his sake, the Duke's may yet be healed through the grace and mercy of the Pancreator whose heart is ever inclined to hearken to the the prayers of his faithful. We pray for this, even as we hope that Gwung-Lou Zhengs mind is raised up to the things of heaven and that he is fervently preparing his soul for whatever fate the Pancreator has ordained for him. To aid him in his spiritual journey, we have ordered a select company of medics from the Li Halan clinics to travel of the Gwung-Lou fief that they may treat the ailing body of the Duke and strengthen him in the flesh, even as alongside them we send some of our own religious sisters that they may pray for him and strengthen his will for the days ahead.

    Pancreator willing, a miracle like a lotus emerging from its muddy pool** shall flower forth to bring you from your darkness back into the light.

    -

    ~ Her Serene Highness, Naganaka Akari.

    -

    notes:

    Spoiler :
    *referencing the concept of redemptive suffering, an appropriate concept to mention given one of Akari's traits.
    ** consider the symbolism of the lotus to discern the double meaning of the last sentence.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
    Zappericus likes this.
  15. LordArgon

    LordArgon King

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2019
    Messages:
    781
    Gender:
    Male
    To Duke Ouaras Yrephys
    We hope this trade will enrich both our peoples and help make May the garden it is meant to be
    Best Regards Duke Chundar Valushnya of May
    ooc: I am willing to make a trade of 14 food for 20 materials
     
  16. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,547
    Ooc: every turn? If so, they agree.
     
  17. LordArgon

    LordArgon King

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2019
    Messages:
    781
    Gender:
    Male
    OOC: Yes every turn
     

Share This Page