With some work, Thanatus had managed to find them an abandoned barn to stay in. It wasn't perfect, and he was about 99% sure the ceiling was going to leak when it rained, but it provided protection from the wind and most of the rain. The morning after they left Warwicke, he'd managed to catch and roast a chicken, and pulled the sinew out of it. He'd made a couple cords and some threads, which he was now using to sew together a blanket, having already made the lady a dress that fit her, out of a couple fabric sacks he'd found, having made a needle out of one of the chicken bones.
The cords were for this knife handle. Thana had managed to get a meat knife on the way out of House Warwicke, but while the knife itself was acceptable, the handle was kind of flimsy. The blade wobbled in it, and to say the least, it uh, it needed a bit of help. There was plenty of scrap wood and metal pieces in this barn, he could probably vaguely copy the blade design and make multiple blades.
At the moment, though, he was in the town center, looking for any sign of that cobra emblem. He swore he remembered seeing it on some of the patrols, but, he wasn't sure if he really wanted to ask one what it was, either. If anyone from House Warwicke came by, he'd probably have to go back, too; the woman was sleeping, at the moment, and he wasn't sure how long she'd stay that way, or whether she'd stay there when she woke up. If he lost her, he'd find her again, but just not losing her in the first place, that'd be a better idea. Most likely, he was jumpy, maybe a bit overprotective, but, it wasn't like the woman was capable of defending herself. She didn't even remember her own name. He didn't know how trusting she was with strangers, either, the last thing he wanted was for her to end up in the wrong person's path.
Anyway, he'd just make this foray as quick as he could. Someone knew what that emblem was. He just had to find them. Sounded easy, right? Yeah. Not so much in practice, as it turned out. He stood to one side of the town center, watching. More concerned about her, than himself, he was still dressed like a typical slave, and most paid him no mind at all. Maybe he could make a pillow out of the chicken feathers, if he could find more fabric. This was a bit difficult, but, he'd figure it out, he'd get through this, find her cobras, and he'd just hope to whatever stupid god was listening at the moment that these cobras of hers did actually want her. Thana didn't know how to get to the Free Cities. He just knew to go west, which, overall, wasn't terribly helpful. If they had to go to the Free Cities, they were going to get so lost.
Maybe he should ask someone? Thana didn't know if he wanted to draw attention to himself, and figuring out which one to ask... eh, that was a toss. His gaze darted around the crowd, some. It was still somewhat early, so there wasn't a very large crowd, just yet. As he moved a bit in place, trying to get a better look around, though, he felt his shoulder smack into someone else. "Oh, sorry," he immediately said, turning to face them.
Icarus was, for the most part, just looking around and trying to get an idea of how things were going around the area. He had ended up doing some price checking at the market earlier, and would take those prices home for use in the ledgers, but for the moment, he was just listening to what he could hear around him. His movements were deliberate, and he moved with a sort of purpose that was likely to keep him from being terribly interesting.
He was wearing a cobra arm band at the moment, because he hadn't found one of the shirts with an actually embroidered cobra on it. Kass was so very stern about them wearing the cobra when they went anywhere. He'd almost forgotten and man the look on his face. But he was wearing it and Icarus would keep it on until they got home at least.
It was in that distracted state that Icarus found himself in a minor collision with someone else. Icarus turned slightly as well. "It's fine." Immediately. He did stop, stilling near the one who was speaking, with blue eyes regarding him for a moment. A slave, it was almost certain given the way he was dressed. Or, not dressed really, as the case was. Possibly a blood fighter given the particular clothing, but sometimes others would wear that particular garment. Hm.
"Are you looking for something?" He didn't exactly know why he felt the need to ask that question. But then, a slave roaming around, no emblem that Icarus could see at first glance. It was worth asking. And it happened some times that when he felt the need to ask a question like that, he was right. And if the slave didn't need help then they could both be on their way. But Kass always liked to help slaves when he could, and that was something Icarus could do pretty easily too.
Icarus thought he'd probably go home after this though. He was relatively certain he'd heard all the useful information he was going to for the moment.
Wow. ... if he had to smack into someone else, at least he was cute. That was not an appropriate thing to think, alrighty then. Then, of course, he knew how much Dalmascans liked the pretty ones. Thana almost frowned, but just barely managed not to. The guy wasn't upset about it, and really, that was good for him. He didn't need to go drawing attention to himself. He didn't know if the Warwickes were aware they were gone, or not, by now, and he certainly didn't need to be telling them, by catching their attention at market. Some part of him wondered, though, if they'd even know what they were looking at, even if they looked right at him. Most likely, no, but Thana wasn't going to bank on it.
Was he looking for something? Yes, actually. The former blood fighter narrowed his eyes in thought. How much should he say? This was always the hard part. There were plenty of people in the town center. He could find plenty of someones to ask. But did he trust them all? No. He hardly trusted one Dalmascan, and this one was dressed too nicely not to be Dalmascan.
But, his eyes. They reminded him of the woman's eyes, a very clear, bright blue. Ah, he was staring at his eyes now, and like a good slave, he looked a bit to the side of him, and down, instead. Incidentally, his gaze fell on the armband, and Thana leaned to the side, to get a better look at it. That was it. That was it, that was the cobra.
"Cyprian, Kassandros, Icarus, and Cygnus," was what he said. "The House with the cobra emblem. That's what I'm looking for." It'd seem, maybe, he'd just found it? Even if this one wasn't one of her cobras, maybe he knew where they were. She needed somewhere safe to go, or she was going to die, anyway, if it wasn't because House Warwicke hunted her down and finished what they'd started, it'd be because of... well, this was Dalmasca, for fuck's sake, it could be almost anything, and just being away from her for this long was starting to make him antsy.
He couldn't save her from everything, though, and he knew it. He needed to find someone that could.
Icarus was quiet and still. He noticed for a moment, that the slave stared at his eyes and then seemed to realize what he was doing. He didn't say anything - it wasn't like it bothered him one way or another. He did notice the interest in his armband too. The teen didn't say anything, instead waiting with relative patience for the slave to decide if he was going to move on with his day or answer to what he was looking for.
Names. They were... all very familiar names, himself, his brother, and... well he wasn't sure how Cyprian fell into this exactly, but he knew where that one was, too. The house with the cobra emblem, of course. The fact that there were people that knew Cyprian was with the Cobras was bothersome, but it wasn't as if Essair was threatened by that fact. Not specifically, at least.
"Well, you're talking to the right person." In a mild tone. Kind of funny how fate had apparently pushed them together in such a way. "I'm Icarus." Explaining that comment was prudent, he thought, perhaps. Making the slave mistrust him was pointless. But... why was he lookign for house Essair? He wasn't afraid, of course, just curious. "And the house with the Cobra emblem is House Essair."
"I could show you, if you'd like." Icarus didn't mind, he was going that way anyway. And it was probably best to keep an eye on the slave until he knew why he wanted to know about house Essair.
On the other hand, anyone who actually was dangerous would probably have known full well what they were seeking.
That was freakishly convenient. The surprise was probably evident on his face, even for just a moment, and then it went away. This one was Icarus. Thana tilted his head, slightly; nope, still cute. Apparently, his... mistress? She was and was not... had rather pretty sons, if this one was anything to go by. It wasn't surprising. Considering, even under how much she'd deteriorated, he could tell, she was a rather pretty woman, herself. The eyes passed on, if nothing else, and those were very striking. And, he was being weird, again.
He blamed the lack of sustenance.
Did he want to take the chance? He wasn't sure if she'd be wanted, in house Essair. It was the best shot he had, but, clearly being related didn't always mean good things. "First, we should talk, I think. I'm not asking for myself, and the quicker I know your response, the better." It'd be easier to alter his plans now, and get her out of Dalmasca now, than to get side-tracked fussing with a house that didn't want her, anyway. There was too much at stake, and the farther away from Dalmasca he got her, before House Warwicke realized they were gone, the better. If he needed to run for the Free Cities, it'd be best if he knew that now, not later, when it may be harder.
Thana was probably being paranoid, but, in this instance, he thought he was allowed. House Warwicke would, if they found them, realized he'd lied, probably manage to make their lives much, much harder, if not end on the spot, and damn it, he'd gotten her too far. It was too late to back out, now. Fuck, he didn't believe in gods, but just this once, if any of the damned bastards were listening...
He nodded a bit away from the press of people, shuffling that way himself, waiting until Icarus followed, or at least got closer, before he started explaining. No one else really needed to hear this. "I don't know her name. No one seems to know her damned name, and for the love of fuck I can't imagine why, but that's beside the point. The point is, her own family tried to kill her, I have no idea how long she'd been in that tower before I got her out, and she's starving and weak and easily distracted and confused. I can't save her from everything. She's forgotten a lot, still forgets things from time to time. Sometimes I'm Thana, other times I'm 'what's your name again?' She says her sons are in the house with the cobra emblem. She called Kassandros the light from the shadows. Her eyes are the same shade as yours. If you don't want her back, I'll figure something else out." But he didn't get her this far just to get her in the same situation again. He didn't get her this far just to end up in worse, either, albeit he wasn't sure what counted as worse, at this point.
Icarus' gaze narrowed slightly at the slaves wording. They needed to talk, the quicker he knew the response the better. There was a lot of presumption in that - starting with the fact that Icarus would listing and ending with the implication that the slave had any right to make demands on his time when he didn't even know this one's name. And yet he didn't mind so much as being concerned about what exactly he was getting into.
Despite his misgivings, Icarus followed the other off to one side, away of the press of people. His body language was closed, expression carefully neutral. He listened because he was curious, and because it was potentially important. As it continued, Icarus tried very hard to maintain a neutral expression. That was, of course, easier said that done as rage started to twist through him, blue eyes turning to ice. He forced himself to continued breathing slowly.
"In a tower?" The words seemed to force themselves out despite clenched teeth. For a second, the most logical reaction seemed to be the urge to strike out at something probably a wall. He didn't do that, instead continuing to breathe because the last thing he wanted to do was leave ice everywhere, but the air was just a tiny bit cooler around him than it should have been.
After a moment or two he seemed to mentally step away from the edge, his breathing calming down further, and the blue of his eyes thawing a little. "She's been gone since we were six." Finally. "We're seventeen now, if you want some idea how long she's been there, probably." So, yeah, there was that. "And her name is Ksenia." Someone remembered, though not the monsters that had locked her in the tower, apparently. ... Her own family, how dare they?
No. He concentrated on pushing that down again, instead of letting the indignant rage take root. It was already there, already too strong. He did not need to give in to it any further. He needed to get it under control before he saw her again as it was. He'd spent... so long angry that she'd left. He'd spent so long hurting because they needed her. And this was what was revealed? It... it wouldn't be hard to confirm the Slave's words, either, if she were really starving, he would know when he saw. He would know when he asked Leon to take a look at her.
That was something. Some kind of reaction, at least, was helpful here. He tried not to be too impatient, because considering what he'd just said, Icarus probably needed a few minutes to process that, if he was any sort of a decent person. Considering he'd not balked at having a slave be somewhat demanding, hadn't taken offense to it, he was probably pretty decent. He did the same thing she did, though, when she was upset. Once in a while, the woman would get frustrated with something, or remember something upsetting, and the air around her would get cooler. Was he an ice affinity mage, too? Maybe he could undo it when she lost control of hers.
Ah, okay. Given that was the first thing he said, it was a good thing, for Thana. He did care, enough to be pissed off about it. That was good. Thana frowned, slightly. Six, and they were seventeen now. Eleven years... that was a long time. "Sounds believable," he said. "She's a mage, though," he said, very quietly, just in case he didn't know. "Ice affinity. Fourteen layers of ice in the tower, last I counted. Buried her clothes, the bookshelf, her bed. Kind of a miracle I could still get the grate open." Ksenia. She said once, it started with a K. That was a nice name, actually, he liked it. It was nice to have a name to call her, besides having to get by on 'miss.' Not that she minded, but, Thana did.
"She's hiding, at the moment," he went on. "She gets distracted too easy, I didn't want her getting separated from me. She's doing a bit better, got her eating now, mostly fish and whatever edible wild plants I can find, but it's still not enough. Loses control of her sorcery a lot, and it drains her aura faster than I can help her regenerate it. Certainly not helping her condition." He didn't know much about magi, but he was pretty sure it wasn't helping, no.
Oh, shoot he was rude. "Oh, I'm Thanatus. Former blood fighter turned tower guard. I was supposed to kill her when she finally fell to mage insanity, and then they decided they were tired of waiting and cut her diet. I didn't like that plan. She knocked herself out using too much sorcery, and I ran with it. I told them she'd died, said I was dealing with the remains, gate guard let me right out, so I don't know if they know I'm gone, yet." They paid him so much mind, honestly, he'd almost be surprised if they remembered they had a blood fighter, once.
"We'll have to go get her, first, of course, but she's not far." Whenever he thought he was ready to, because, he seemed to be having a minor war with his temper, there.
"That doesn't really surprise me. She wasn't when she left but..." He shrugged. Kassi made mages, see. It wasn't surprising that after taking care of them for six years she had ended up gaining magic eventually. It was a bit of a shame that it had happened afterward though, after she'd left and didn't have them to help her figure it out. Fourteen layers of ice. Ice. Heh. He had the same affinity as her. That was sweet, in a sense. At least he'd be able to help her now. He still had moments where it got out of hand, but Icarus had relatively good control.
So what, she'd been sleeping on bare ice? That thought actually infuriated him all over again, but he pushed that down next. Listening to the slave talk, and nodding a little. It was probably best, if what he was describing was right. Best that she wasn't here in the town center, there was a lot of danger to get into. Especially if they thought she was dead. "No, I imagine it's not helping her condition." Burning way more energy than she could generate... that was dangerous.
A nod. Right, Thanatus. He could remember that. They'd cut her diet, and decided to starve her because she wasn't going crazy fast enough. What in the fucking- his maternal family was, if it was possible, even worse than the paternal line. Well then.
Icarus closed his blue eyes for a moment, and took several slow deep breaths and released them. When he opened his eyes again, he thought he'd finally gotten a final handle on his rage. He could deal with it later, chopping would or something constructive until it went away. But for now, he needed it under control because upsetting her wasn't going to help anyone.
"I'm glad she's not too far. On the bright side, neither is the house." Yeah that was a bright side. "So we can go get her and then get her behind walls with people who will defend her to their last breath if they have to." A little grim toned, but he also didn't think Warwicke would be stupid enough to strike against Essair any time soon.
That explained why she couldn't control it. He had to wonder if they'd put her in the tower because she was a mage, actually. It seemed logical to him-she's dangerous, nobody knows what to do with her, can't teach her how to control it because she's the only mage in the house, maybe she'll do everyone a favor, and go nuts. Then, they have an excuse to kill her. Right? Ugh, he hated that this made sense. He wished it didn't, but, it sounded like the Warwickes, alright.
Walls would be an improvement, yes. Thana already would defend her to his last breath, if he had to, but he also realized he was but one man, and faced with the right adversary, he'd fall pretty fast. Sturdy walls and more than one with combat ability would be immensely helpful. He'd done the right thing, finding her cobras. At least one of them cared. At least one of them wanted her. That was enough for him.
He'd be wondering if he was right, squinting a bit harder, at all of this, but you couldn't very easily fake that kind of intense reaction. Especially not at seventeen; that took years of practice, and the chances of managing to make genuine-seeming anger rise that fast without feeling it were pretty well slim. Thana wasn't afraid of fighting him, if he had to, either, but he didn't think he'd need to. He seemed genuine. Thana had gotten accustomed to the tell-tale signs of liars.
"I caught and dried a bunch of fish, the other day," he said, turning toward where they'd been staying. The quicker they got to her, the sooner his nerves could stop being a bundle of jumbled. "Sun-dried, but easy to rehydrate and use for different things. House Essair can use it." Boiling it for a few minutes would make a decent broth, and steaming it would make it usable in other dishes. There probably wasn't enough to use it for much besides perhaps a flavoring or a garnish, but, it was good it was going to be used either way.
Oh, "That house there," he started, pointing at one of the estates. The big one with the multiple buildings on the other side of Cassimer, with the dragon on its gate. "Which house is that? I caught and killed a wandering chicken, and I think it was one of theirs." They were, as it happened, the only estate with free roaming chickens.
Had they ended up locking her up because she was a mage? That seemed possible, but it only served to make him more angry. But that anger stayed buried in his heart, and his expression remained calm. He didn't really want her to pick up on his anger and assume it was at her. He had been angry at her, before. When he'd thought she'd chosen to leave. But... even if she had chosen to leave, there was a chance she wouldn't have stayed away if she hadn't been trapped in a tower all that time, and he couldn't really validate remaining so angry with her.
Icarus moved to follow the slave then. "Alright." Mildly. If it was already caught it might as well be used in something. It wasn't like dried fish could be returned to the water to live. "I'm sure Leon will be able to find something to do with it." Leon, the chef, apparently. Nice Ilim, for all that Icarus was only just getting used to him. Leon seemed to be the resourceful type in the kitchen. Certainly meals were never boring with him in charge.
That was nice though, to be honest. Icarus hoped his brothers were as willing to see their mother as he was. But, Icarus thought he could convince Kass to give her something of a chance, as long as what Thanatus was saying was true - which starvation was, honestly, something that was pretty easily proven just by looking at her. And uncontrollable magic would be the same. They had something of a responsibility to at least get her control over magic before she hurt someone else.
He thought Cygnus would be glad to see her though, most of all.
Mm. Icarus' gaze followed where he pointed. "That is house Asheron." After a moment or two of orienting to make sure he was right. "Led by Livia these days. The chicken probably was hers. Ah, but for what it's worth, she'll probably be fine about it." And Icarus could apologize to her later about the incident, he'd probably offer to replace the chicken but he didn't know that she'd ask for that.
Livia was like that, sometimes. But at any rate, with even a hint of the situation he didn't think she'd be angry. Probably just relieved to know what actually happened to it.
"Leon?" he asked, reflexively. Thinking about it logically, probably whoever dealt with meals in the house. Most houses had one or two slaves dedicated to that. One didn't, but the family cooked for themselves. Jihon was strange, sometimes. And yet, at times, he missed
it. It wasn't home, not really. Thana had long
forgotten where home was. But, it was as close to being home as he remembered. Things changed, though. Now, maybe home was this barn over here. Maybe home would become the house with the cobra emblem. Unless she sent him away, he was staying with the lady. Ksenia. He had
a name now, just, maybe remembering to not instinctively call her 'miss' may be a little bit more complex than it sounded.
Ah, Asheron. "I've heard good things about Asheron," he said. "The nobles don't generally care for them, mostly, but, ah... well, others really adore them." Names cursed by the nobility tended
to be good names, as it happened, but he wasn't so sure about saying that aloud. Oh, he'd think it, certainly. "I would expect to earn the chicken, of course." He tapped on his blade handle, resting at his hip. The sinew cords had worked well for stabilizing the blade. "But the chicken was too useful to pass up. I got Miss Ksenia something that fits her made, too, out of the other threads. Some blankets and a fishing spear. The chicken was definitely worth it." Indeed.
He slipped around the side of the commons district, into the field. Not too far back into said field was the barn, kind of leaning to one side, slightly, but so far, it'd stayed upright, and Thana couldn't complain. From the street, it was hidden by a line of trees and tall grass. Looking at it from here, though, it looked like it was-Thana tilted his head. Ice on the roof? Oh, no, "Crap," he wasn't sure if she'd just been playing with it, and lost control
of it, in which case she could
still have hurt herself, or if someone had found her while he was gone. Neither option was particularly pleasing
. Thana bolted across the field, skittering to a stop in the doorway. That was a pretty
big pillar of ice. How did she manage that
? And she was stuck in it. Of course.
"... that's new," he grumbled. "... how long have you been up there?" he asked. How... to do this without hurting her...@incendium
"A naoidhean bhig, cluinn mo ghuth, mise ri d'thaobh, o mhaighdean bhan, ar ribhinn og, fas a's faic, do thir, dileas fhein," she'd been singing for the last... oh, she had no idea, being honest. It was the song she used to sing her children, when they wouldn't calm. It was keeping her nerves from fraying, too much. Truthfully, she was dizzy, and had been for... she had no idea of that, either. Long enough, it was starting to make her nauseous, at least. "Uuugh, when are you coming baaaack," she grumbled, more to herself. The kind man she was with had gone somewhere, and, she thought he'd told her where, yet she couldn't recall, at this moment. There were several things she'd forgotten, right this second. Ah, she was kind of hungry, too. Actually, she wondered if she could reach -
As she stretched a bit, toward their little stockpile of dried fish, her ice sorcery burst forth yet again, and froze the entire bag. ... that was not what she meant. Now, she had a headache, too. This was normally the part where she slept, but the woman was quite sure she could not do that right now. Dangling upside down from a giant ice tower was certainly not optimal conditions for having a nap.
"Aaaaah, I forgot your naaaame," she huffed. "A ghrian a's a ghealach, stiuir sinn, gu uair ar cliu's ar gloir, naoidhean bhig ar ribhinn og, mhaighdean uasal bhan," ah, she sort of regretted that song wasn't longer, but it was just long enough, the youngest triplet often was fast asleep by the end of one repetition. She couldn't remember his name, either, now. C, something... Cy... damn it.
Oh! The woman started slightly, gasping just a bit in surprise. "... I do not remember," she answered. "But... sorry. I'm... not sure how to get down." She turned her head down, looking at the floor. "It seemed like perhaps a terrible idea, to just break it, as I believe I'd hit the floor head first." At least she was present enough to realize that much.
"Ah, the house's head chef." By way of explanation. "Ilim, nice guy." It was brief, but it would get the idea across, he figured. Leon was a little mouthy, but Icarus did like him, and he was good at making sure Kass ate, which made up for the mouthiness. Kass was terrible about pausing and eating without being reminded, after all.
"Asheron is a good house." He affirmed mildly. No, most nobles didn't like them. They didn't put up with much of anything, and that tended to annoy some of the others. Plus, of course, Livia was a she. But Asheron was a good friend to Essair these days. "I'm sure that won't be necessary." Mildly. "You brought our mother home." If Asheron required repayment, Icarus was quite sure the house could eat the price of a chicken in return for regaining their mother. If nothing else, his own pay from the military would more than cover the issue.
Icarus followed at something less than the full on sprint Thanatus had done - mostly because he was slightly less familiar with the path, but he was only a little behind. The ice mage spent a moment surveying the situation, even as his heart constricted slightly at seeing the woman. She didn't look anything like the woman he remembered as mom. That didn't mean much, people changed, and it had been eleven years.
"I think..." His voice trailed off and he approached the pillar. Yes, that would be the easiest thing to do. Icarus brought one hand downward firmly, and the ice below Ksenia lowered until she should have been more-or-less flat on the floor. Only then did he break the ice above her. It hadn't been the fastest option, but it was the least likely to harm her in the process.
If this was the same woman from his memory, which, her face looked right, now that he was looking closely. But if this was the same woman, she'd lost so much weight. It was... kind of scary, actually. Sure, it'd been eleven years but... That was just another thing that seemed to indicate Thana was right.
He probably should have said something there. But as it turned out, words really weren't forthcoming. He'd find them again in a minute, he was sure. But for now he was apparently just going to stare.
That was probably a good thought to have had. Thana eyed the floor under her, and then made a fairly displeased expression. Yes, hitting that head first would not have been a good thing. It'd have, at the very least, probably given her rather the headache, and she often got headaches after losing control of her sorcery to start with. He hadn't found a willow tree; he didn't have any painkillers. He remembered someone making him chew on willow bark, for some reason it made pain stop.
Sounded like Icarus had a better idea. Thana went still, then, waiting. Oh, he could control ice, too. That was also fortunate, meant somebody had a better idea of how to handle her sorcery fits, and maybe help her figure out how to control it herself, too, than Thana did. He was glad he'd went looking for her cobras. Yes, he was.
That was new. He really hoped she never did that again. "... you're probably pretty dizzy, huh... we're going somewhere, so, if you can't manage it by yourself, I'll just carry you." If she decided to stand up and try, he'd just, stay close, in case she did eventually drop. Hmm. Maybe he shouldn't let her. Loosing that much sorcery, and then getting stuck upside down for who knew how long, maybe he shouldn't let her try. "Never mind, just, up," and he knelt down so she could get up onto his back.
It was easier, that way, honestly, and probably better for his blood pressure.
Oh! Someone else that did ice magic! That was helpful. She was pretty sure, though, the nice man she was staying with wasn't a mage. Hmm. If he was, and his affinity was ice, too, then he probably would have shown that, before now. Odd moment to decide to, but, perhaps he'd only just - ah, but then, he wouldn't have had the control for it. No, there was a second one. She tilted her head, on the floor, watching the second one. He was familiar, and she couldn't immediately place why.
"... yeah, pretty dizzy... what's your name again? I forgot. ... again." It was frustrating, to be fair, but, she should, perhaps, be kinder to herself. She was getting better, a little at a time. "I got hungry and froze the fish, too," she added, nodding in the direction of the bag, now coated in ice. Could she get up and walk? Wait, where were they going? Had he found what he was looking for? That was good! For a moment, she was excited, but she couldn't remember why, so she probably looked confused.
Oh, no, the cobra. The second one, he was wearing one - she rolled over, sat up. Kind of slowly, in case she did fall over, she stood up, watching the new one. Ka - no. Wrong one. Kassi was blond. Not the younger, either, his eyes weren't quite grayish, they were more blue, like hers, the youngest had a grayish tint - "Icarus..." Yes. Icarus, that was him, that was him, the one before C... damn it.
"You got taller..." Well, of course. "I mean, yes, kids grow up. Gosh, you're older than I thought you'd be. I lost track of the years at 68... the walls didn't have room for more tallies... ... oh, we're going somewhere. Where are we going?" Despite asking, she did turn around, wobbled only just slightly, but she managed not to fall, and then clambered onto the nice man's back. He'd found Icarus, how'd he do that with just a name and an emblem? Never mind. Icarus was wearing said emblem... maybe it was the light, that led him to the right place.
Icarus followed her nod towards the bag covered in ice, and he shifted his hand slightly and unfroze that too. What? It was something useful to do while he kept himself reasonably well oriented. And calm, keeping calm was important at the moment. There was no point in distressing the woman. No, he would keep his temper in check until they got home, at least. Until there was space to channel it into something else that it could be useful.
"Mhm." He inclined his head slightly in agreement with what she called him. "I'm surprised, you can still tell us apart." They'd grown a lot. And time changed people enough that they could be hard to recognize. But the fact that she knew which was which, that lent credence to what he had been told about her too, in a way. Perhaps only a mother could have pulled that off.
68. That was a long time. The walls didn't have room for more tallies. He released another slow breath. "Ah, it's 76 now." Casually. Just so she knew how long it had been.
Well at least he didn't have to worry about her falling and hurting herself, Thanatus was apparently going to carry her to ensure that didn't happen. "Is there anything other than the fish you wanted to bring?" Looking at Thanatus - what? If he was going to carry her Icarus could manage any of the worldly belongings, honestly.
"Thana," Thana answered. As soon as she got up there, he reached around and got a hold of her knees, making sure she didn't fall, and stood up. At least she hadn't fussed with him too much, but generally she didn't, anyway. He was still starkly reminded of how easy it'd be for someone to take advantage of her right now, and yet again, he was glad he'd managed to find her cobras. They'd have a lot more luck in keeping her safe than Thana would, but he also knew a bit better than that. Better than to assume that their status would shield them entirely, because Thana understood, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your outlook, just how precariously balanced the nobility really were.
It was kind of cute, in a strange way, their reunion. Shame she was still so out of it, but she remembered him. That was a good thing. Yes, she was doing better. "And we're going home." He wasn't really sure if that'd sink in, but, he'd wanted to say it. She'd forget in a few minutes, maybe.
Oh, "The spear, actually," he answered, nodding at the fishing spear to the side. "Useful bugger." Go figure.
Ah. Perhaps that was a hair surprising. The woman looked momentarily confused, and then shrugged, just slightly. "Kassi has blond hair, and your eyes are bright blue. The youngest... ... C... nnn, his eyes are more gray tinted." Yes, that was how she remembered which was which. "I think their features are a bit sharper than yours, too." A bit. Icarus had a slight bit of a baby-face, to her. Perhaps that was an odd thing to think. "I remember Cyprian's eyes being the greenish ones. Aemilius' eyes were amber, not sure how Cyprian's ended up green." It was difficult to say.
76? Oh, that was a long time. Um. "Oh... eleven years? You're seventeen, now, then. You grew into a fine young man. I bet your brothers did, too." Most likely. Or, perhaps more accurately, that was what she hoped for. Thana, right, "Thana, I'm sorry, I keep forgetting." He knew that, and she knew that he knew, logically. Still, it seemed a bit rude, to keep forgetting his name. "Then again, I forgot my own, haha." She should, perhaps, be a bit kinder to herself.
Home. They were going home... that'd be nice. "Mmkay," she decided, flopping her head onto Thana's shoulder, quite happy to just let him get them wherever they were going. "... not the Warwickes, right?" One eye peeked open, clearly concerned.
"Huh. I guess Cygnus' eyes are more gray." He really hadn't ever thought about it before, Icarus would admit. Then again he didn't often have to think about telling the difference between himself and his brother. Of course he knew which one he was, and Cygnus and Kassi only looked like until you got to the hair, and Icarus obviously knew which one was which there, too. ... What Icarus didn't know is how in the world Cyprian factored into this. Then again, Thanatus had added him to the list of people they were looking for maybe that was why.
He didn't know why Cyprian had made it there either. But maybe he would eventually. For now he was just going to leave it alone for a bit.
A slight nod there. Yes, they were 17 now. A fine young man...? She didn't even know him, really. Certainly not well enough to know if he would meet her definition of fine. "I hope we meet expectations." Was what he said finally, somewhat distantly. It was the best he could manage - because it wasn't like they met anyone else's expectations. It wasn't like they were good enough for anyone so he kind of doubted she'd really be proud of them in the longer run. He'd only hope she wasn't utterly disappointed in them.
Forgot her own. Well, Thanatus had asked her name, too. And that made sense. "Ksenia." Calmly offering that, without the flicker of rage that the reminder brought him. "You're name is Ksenia." Thanatus would have probably gotten to it eventually, but eh. "No. You're not going back to them." ... Okay that one might have come out a touch sharper than he meant it to.
Fishing spear. Right. Icarus went to retrieve that before he said something he might regret.
At least she could think straight enough to do maths, right now. Interesting, too, that she seemed to remember how to tell them apart, despite not really having seen them in a long time. Some people changed a lot, as they got older. Others, well, you could tell they were the same person fairly readily. Course, the implication was that they were difficult to tell apart-triplets?-but if one was blond, maybe not. On the other hand, maybe it was bleached. Eleven years, though. If they were seventeen, now, that was quite a long time ago, and a small child bleaching his hair blond seemed... not that it was his business, but Thana wondered. Primarily, he wondered because he didn't want to interrupt their moment.
Ah, no-but Icarus answered, first. Thana snorted. "I think he doesn't like them," he said, softly, making sure she wasn't going to fall one more time, and then moving to follow Icarus. It wasn't like he knew where they were going. "And then you should probably eat, if you were hungry." Given she'd gotten herself caught in an ice pillar, it made sense that she had. Thana wasn't terribly surprised, it was probably the most logical outcome of that. Even he was a little dizzy, but it'd go away eventually.
Kind of strange, to think this part of their journey was coming to an end. He'd almost miss it, but it wasn't like Thana intended to go anywhere that Ksenia wasn't. Some things would change, that was all. And maybe he'd spend some time catching bunches of fish, anyway. It was nice to contribute, and maybe it wasn't really something for him to be grateful for, but he was grateful Icarus was taking her in. He knew of too many nobles that wouldn't care, and the fact Icarus did made Thana want to help.
"You followed Thana," the woman said, toned off-hand and nonchalant, as if it explained everything. "You already do meet what little I'd hoped for." In her mind, anyone willing to give a random, unknown slave the benefit of the doubt, and not only listen to him, but follow him, too... he wasn't much like his father, that was all, and in the end, it was the only thing she really hoped for. That at least one of them had learned their father was not necessarily right all the time. There was hope, then, that they'd learned to live their own lives, instead of living in Vopiscus' shadow, and that was what she wanted, in the end.
Oh, right, Ksenia. "Right, the conversation about Ksenia Kenleigh sounding funny, I remember now." Yes, Ksenia, that was her name. Or was it Ksenia... er... well, now she didn't remember the triplets' house name, either. She knew that, of course, she just hadn't really been thinking about it too hard. Her name was probably Ksenia Warwicke, anyway, she supposed it didn't matter any.
For a moment, she looked a bit perplexed. It seemed an odd thing to be upset about. Then, of course, she thought about it, and realized perhaps that was a strange thing to find confusing. "I hear," she answered. Food, later, that may be a good idea, yes. "Suppose eating may be a good idea. I wouldn't want to impose, though." Her welcome was, perhaps, somewhere in the air, still.
Blink. Well that was an extremely low standard. Icarus didn't say that, just making a short noncommittal noise and leaving it there. Perhaps it was better not to get into a discussion in that direction. To be fair, it was strange that he had listened to a random slave enough to follow them to find her. Icarus could accept that, he just wasn't sure that it was quite enough to call it a benchmark for being a good person.
Then again, maybe her expectations were just shockingly low. That was... mm. Anyway. He was supposed to be leaving that alone.
Icarus frowned in confusion. "Kenleigh...?" He shook his head. "Essair. You're Ksenia Essair." He almost asked where she got Kenleigh from, but left it at just his trailed off saying the name. It was... probably not important right now.
No, he didn't like them. "I have no idea what gave you that idea." In as mild a tone as he could manage. Ah, but he did start to lead the way back across the field, heading towards home - but at a rather restrained pace, since Thanatus was carrying Ksenia. "I'm sure we can manage to find something to eat." If nothing else, they had the fish, but...
Well, maybe something that hadn't already been on the menu for several days was a good idea. Differing nutrition was a good thing, after all. "You won't be imposing." Icarus responded after a moment of thought. No, he didn't think Kassandros would see it that way. And for the moment, Icarus was just going to have to hope he was right about that.
They'd figure it out later.
Oh, she supposed he wouldn't necessarily remember that. Come to think of it, though, she wasn't sure if she'd ever told them that she'd married into Kenleigh originally. Quite honestly, at the time, they couldn't really fully understand the implications of that. Cy... Cygnus was the youngest triplet. Her eldest son was Cy... Cyprus? Cyprian. There we go.
"Essair... I wasn't sure if you'd still consider me an Essair." Considering she was the one that walked away... she never should've. She shouldn't have left Cyprian, either, she should've been stronger, and Vopiscus wasn't even truly threatening, either. What did it matter to her, if he'd torn House Warwicke down? It would've saved many a lot of pain, and the worst he could've done was killed her. He wouldn't have harmed the triplets; they were too valuable to him.
She should've been stronger. Aemilius might've killed Cyprian, if she'd pushed him, but Vopiscus wasn't quite as volatile. It was too late, now, for should've, could've, would've, might be, maybe, and still she thought things like that, had for the last decade.
"Cyprian is your elder half-brother," she said. "I married Aemilius, first. House Warwicke were House Kenleigh's vassal, at the time, it was rather the honor. Aemilius freaked them out, he had a knack for doing that, and they remarried me to Vopiscus after, to try and protect Warwicke from Aemilius' wrath." Clearly, they'd done something right, given the House were still standing. "Vopiscus isn't your father, either, but perhaps that is a conversation for another time." Most likely, they'd not really believe her, anyway. Ultimately, perhaps it didn't matter, in the end. It wasn't as if Ytias would ever truly be their father, anyway.
If he said so. She'd just try and believe that, then. There was no sense in arguing. At any rate, they were already going home (she'd missed having somewhere that was home), and perhaps she should just be thankful at least one of them apparently didn't hate her. She'd been expecting them to. It would've made sense.
"I suppose, by now, the flowers killed Vopiscus, hmm?" That was the most likely outcome. She'd gone, just like Kassi had said, and if usual trends held, he'd been right about the pretty lady, too. He'd been young, then. It was debatable, if he even remembered making that prediction.
"You're still our mother." Whether they necessarily agreed with her choices or not, she was their mother and she was important to them. And clearly her own biological family wasn't kind to her. ... He didn't really understand why she'd chosen them over her own children, but he didn't want to press that just now. There was no sense in it - there was no sense in getting upset and saying something like that because honestly she wasn't present enough for it to matter.
Maybe one day he'd understand why she left though, in the end. That day was probably not today, but one day he hoped. If only because it would be a nice piece of closure.
"Oh." She'd been married before she had married their father. ... Cyprian, actually their brother. Well that was. Something. He wondered if Kassandros knew - was that why he'd taken in the Kenleighs? Or had that been completely unrelated? It didn't matter really, he supposed. Still, he might eventually ask just out of curiosity. Then again, maybe not, if only because Kass didn't generally share his reasons for making decisions like that.
"Er." Confusion, at that, of course. Of course he was? She'd just admitted to marrying him. And then there was the fact that frankly even if she'd been cheating on their father she had no way of knowing which of her lovers was the actual father. It could just as easily be Vopiscus as whoever else she might have been having sex with - their father had acknowledged them, which meant he had been confident in their bloodlines, at least. So she clearly had coupled with him, whether Icarus liked the idea of thinking about it or not, logic indicated as much. "What's that supposed to mean?" He asked instead - not really expecting an answer, but there it was.
"How do you-" He cut that off and shook his head slightly. Maybe Kassandros had known for a long time before he did it, like he knew everything else. Maybe he knew early enough he'd told her. "Yes, the flowers killed him. Kassandros has been head of house since we were fourteen."
And he was just going to leave that there. There was... not much else to say about it. Anyway, ah, up this street here was probably his best bet, yeah.
Yes, well, being blood related didn't inherently - perhaps that was a moot thing to argue about. She was sure, by now, they were rather aware of that. It was unfortunate, and yet, it wasn't as if Ksenia could undo what she'd done. She should've stayed. She should've fought harder. She should've, should've, should've. They were the same old circles her mind went in, before, albeit now, perhaps things had turned out exactly as they were meant to. Ksenia didn't often prescribe to the idea of fate, not really. Still, sometimes she wondered, if maybe certain things happened for a reason. Most humes liked to believe that things had a reason, particularly bad things, if only because, if bad things had a reason, it meant they weren't just because. It meant there wasn't pain for the sake of itself.
Ksenia had been young and naive and stupid, that was all. It was, still, her fault, for leaving, she shouldn't have, but you know, maybe ending up dead wasn't much better. At least she could be here, now. Far too late, maybe (certainly, she hoped not), yet, she was still here. Still she breathed, and perhaps she was a bit wiser than she'd been, then. If Kassandros was leading the house, now, he could use her help. After her mind came back, the rest of the way, of course, certainly she'd be glad to help. He was not Vopiscus, however, and Ksenia found it difficult to believe he'd lead the house down a particularly wrong pathway. Ah, but he was young, and the young were often short-sighted. Perhaps even a seer, might be, particularly one as all-knowing as he was. It was easy to miss that which was right in front of you, if you were too busy focusing on what was still quite some time off.
Did he know? What it meant to be what he was? Vopiscus never did understand. Perhaps Merenwen might've been able to explain it, but she remembered Kassandros having a habit of hyper-focusing too hard on one, specific thing, and completely missing that there were better ways of achieving the same thing. It wasn't difficult to imagine what he really was being lost somewhere in there. Further, it wasn't like anyone knew he and his brothers were demi-gods. Ksenia had, of course, never shared that information, until... right then.
"What it sounds like," she answered. "Vopiscus is not your father. You have no blood from House Essair. It is moot, I suppose. Your real father's... a very busy person, and will likely never be the father you want, merely because he can't be. There are some things in relation to that you should know, if you don't already, but we'll get there." They had, of course, a connection to the light they likely did not realize. As their physical forms were not exactly hume, they were a bit stronger than most humes, albeit only just, if they were aware they should be. The light, of course, answered your heart. If you believed, well, sometimes it was.
"Kassi told me, when you were four," Ksenia replied. "Fourteen? That's so early... ... Icarus, he's alright, isn't he? He didn't... he didn't fall down the same thought paths Vopiscus did, did he? There's still hume in him somewhere?" Maybe he wouldn't tell her, maybe she'd have to figure it out on her own, but, Icarus would know better than she.
Okay, but that didn't - sure it was possible. People were unfaithful all the time - to the point it was almost laughable to assume that anyone was completely faithful to their husband. Still, it hadn't ever occurred to Icarus that he might have been fathered by anyone other than the man he had believed to be his father. Clearly that was a failing on his part - but there'd been no real reason to suspect it before, so perhaps he shouldn't be too hard on himself for that. It wasn't as if anyone went into things assuming they were an illegitimate child.
A very busy person. It was hard to imagine anyone who was more busy than Kassandros, and Icarus couldn't imagine not wanting to know him because he was busy. But he didn't say that. Maybe that was a nice way of saying he didn't know and/or wasn't interested in them in the slightest. Things they should know in relation to that, hm? He didn't ask - she'd already made it clear that she wasn't going to talk about it until they were all together at minimum.
Kassi had told her when they were four, but fourteen was too young? He didn't say that - there was a difference in seeing it and in doing it, he knew. Still, the fact that Kassandros had been a seer so young... he'd known that, logically he had. Still, it was jarring to be reminded by a vision of that sort.
He wasn't actually sure how to answer her, and so he continued walking in silence for several moments, thoughtfully. "He is still Hume, of course." Calmly, quietly. "He is... not exactly the same as you'll remember, of course." No, he wasn't. But Kass still loved, still felt - Icarus genuinely believed that. It was enough. "But I would not presume to know what goes on within his mind." Icarus didn't know and Kassandros didn't share. So... it was hard to say, if he'd followed Vopiscus' thought paths.
It was hard to say what, exactly, she meant by that anyway. "It's this one." Icarus said as they reached the gate in question.
Which, of course would be obvious when he entered said gate - but making sure Thanatus got a chance to actually see where they were seemed prudent.
Of course. Presumptions were dangerous things, of course, and could be hurtful, particularly in situations where they regarded someone closer to you than the average person. Icarus didn't seem the type to be terribly interested in rocking the boat, so to say. Still, his particular wording told her two things: one, Icarus didn't know Kassandros as well as he should, and two, Kassandros didn't let his brothers in as much as he should. It was enough she was concerned, to say the least of it.
She, probably quite prudently, chose not to voice any of that. In time, there was time now, she'd learn, soon enough. She suspected this would be rather the exercise in patience, because certainly, they were her sons, but it wasn't as if she'd been there, for whatever reasons she may have had (any reason was, in her opinion, not good enough). Whether she had a good reason or not was of little consequence; a good reason it may be, it didn't change anything. Ksenia still had not been there, and had no right to pretend that nothing had changed between then and now, that she had special privileges others didn't, had some sort of business sticking her nose in their business. Some children, and yes, she still considered them to be children, might take to suddenly having a mother where there had been none before quite well, but Icarus, and what she heard of Kassandros, seemed the type to find any attempt at mothering rather grating.
This might be a bit more difficult than first she'd thought. Yet, then again, she hadn't really thought about it at all, beyond trying to manage to make her way back to them, somehow. Here she was, so clearly, she'd done something right. Well, no. Thana had done something right. Either that, or he was just rather the lucky duck, so to say.
That one? ... "Looks the same," she said, more to herself. "... and very different," she added after a moment. The Essair estate she remembered had been much darker in overall color scheme, the grounds impeccably cared for and trimmed, almost... too much so, too stately, too refined, too imposing, and yet that had been Vopiscus' intention. It'd achieved what goal Vopiscus had at the time quite well. The Essair name, eventually, was either spoken with hushed tones, a cross between reverence and fear, or absolute, unapologetic revulsion. There was, at that time, no in-between. "It's a good different," Ksenia decided. A very good different it was, indeed. "I suppose my room's been repurposed." It was not a question. She assumed it had been.