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Yesterday at 08:29 PM
Andreas gave Cyprian a quizzical look at the exclamation, and he paused just to one side of him. He looked, perhaps, a little concerned - as if he wasn't sure if perhaps Cyprian had hurt himself or something similar. To be fair, he really wasn't sure at this point, and Cyprian was acting strange enough to make Dre worry. First the abrupt shift from arguing with him to agreeing to come. And now... this. He was probably paranoid, Andreas reminded himself. He didn't know Cyprian well, and everything had been tossed all over the place and of course he was a little off balance.

Right? Right.

"It's fine." Andreas assured immediately, smoothing out his own expression before his brother could say anything about it. He didn't comment on the last bit - it was an odd thing to forget, but some people were forgetful. And maybe it had been longer since Cyprian rode than Andreas thought it had been. It wasn't like he had extremely close contact with his brother all that often.

"Not really." Andreas admitted mildly. "There are about a thousand rumors, but I don't really put much stock in those." And none of them painted a picture that made sense of what was happening, so there was that. "But I was thinking about the same thing. If they're willing to try this hard to save a new slave's life, it's got to be worth trying at least." the worst that happened was that the kid was a bit spoiled, from where Andreas was sitting.

Any of the more abusive ones wouldn't bother trying at all, much less reuniting them as a family even temporarily. "I suppose when we get going we could try to get Leon to talk about the House a little." Surely the Ilim knew more, right? And he was trusted enough to come get them by himself, which seemed to indicate that he should know a lot more than they did. Not that that was hard, since apparently Cyprian didn't know much about Essair either.

At any rate, Andreas went forward then, approaching the Roan at a slow pace, intending to let Bluebell sniff him a bit before attempting to mount. ... It seemed prudent to try to avoid startling the horse, after all.

auribus teneo lupum
Livia Asheron
Yesterday at 08:04 AM Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'
He didn't want to bother them?

There were days when Kassandros was every bit an Essair. There were other days when she wondered why in the name of fuck he wasn't an Asheron. Today was one of the latter. That sounded like her, back when she'd first decided a guard might be prudent. Livia was not, at the time, accustomed to the concept of having one, and hadn't depended on Alcides as much as she should have. Alcides, being more intelligent than most tended to be, figured out early on she wouldn't remember to tell him, when she was going somewhere outside the Asheron estate, when it may well get her killed, and had learned to simply... follow her around constantly. Livia didn't know this guard of Kassandros', and if they were as new to the job as they sounded like they'd be, they may not have any true loyalty to him, either.

The sooner they got started on fixing this mess, the better. Kassandros had the right ideas. He knew what he was doing, he was just missing some satellite complexities, he wasn't thinking far enough ahead. His plans probably revolved around expecting Marcus to underestimate him forever, or relying too heavily on his visions to tell him what was going on, but the problem with both of those plans was, Marcus wouldn't underestimate him forever, and his visions couldn't tell him what hadn't been decided yet. Sooner or later, dependency on that would cause him to end up blindsided, and Kassandros wasn't terribly good at being blindsided. He had a good head on his shoulders, and could figure it out, given time, but likely, he wouldn't have that time.

But he was thinking. And, he was thinking down the right pathways. Livia nodded, slightly, in approval, thinking as well, her head tilting the other way in thought. "Blood fighters would be easiest," Livia answered, her tone thoughtful. "Soldiers already have loyalty to something or someone. You're good at earning loyalty, of commoners and slaves, so I have no doubt you could get your blood fighters to like you. This could, theoretically, become the start of your personal guard. The farther up the ladder you go, the harder the opposing Houses will try and stop you. You are a king in a game of chess, Kassandros. If you fall, we all do. Don't argue about how you and your safety are not important." She could hear it already. He was thinking it terribly loudly.

"Start small," she went on. "Great kingdoms are not built within a day, and neither will yours be. Start small, with what you can manage now, and the more you accomplish, the more will be within your reach. You need more blood fighters. If you've not the ability to train them on your own, I wouldn't mind loaning Gannicus to you. Let him handle training, he knows what he's doing. Start with a handful, maybe ten, just to get your House secure. Reinforce your walls. Barbed wire was a great idea, but it will not hold up for long, not by itself. Perhaps start the first of your farming endeavours on the land you already have. It is already walled in, it is a solid beginning. Make friends. You certainly could use more. Galace may be willing to help you, as may Haradi and Saqqara. If they're willing to sell you land, even, that's farmland outside of Marcus' reach. As your economy stabilises, buy more blood fighters. They don't have to be stellar fighters, they don't even have to be proven; in fact, the less experienced they are, the better, as you can train them to suit your purposes easier. A bad fighter can be broken of his bad habits, but not easily. And for fuck's sake, start today, and start taking your damned guards with you."

She paused, mulling the words over. "And, if you really want my advice, don't take this tour. It is a distraction, as of now. It has potential to push you further up the warlord ladder than you're ready to get, right now. If you push too far too quickly, you aren't ready for the fall-out. Backing out of it may make Marcus think he's won, too, and stop pressuring you as hard. Sometimes, Kassandros, you must learn to step away and back off, so that you can regain your balance, and move forward stronger and more prepared than before. That is not defeat. That is smart."

Glitter and Gold
Yesterday at 07:33 AM There is strength in standing alone, but there is more in recognizing that you can't.
For a moment, Gannicus was confused. Ah, but then, he was accustomed to House Lancaster. Things were different, here. The were shook his head, just so. "It is meant," he said. "None mind. Just ask nicely." Most slaves wouldn't mind their masters near as much, if they took a leaf from the Asherons and, from what he heard, the Essairs, and asked nicely, had some common courtesy and basic hume decency. Not to say that humes were known for their decency, to begin with. Weres, even, were created specifically because they weren't. One of history's greatest ironies.

The first being that prophecy that made itself come true, merely by being said.

Yes, he supposed he might be familiar. Most likely, Atenra had seen him at some point. Gannicus and Spartacus, of course, were the stars of House Lancaster, and Titus liked to make them come up and mingle when they had company, much to their aggravation, but such was life with Dalmascans. Both tried not to think about it too hard, because really, it was easier in the long run.

Gannicus wanted to ask. He wasn't sure if it was rude to, but it'd been a while, since he'd been at House Lancaster, a few weeks at least, and things could change relatively quickly. And, after catching it for a few minutes now, he was fairly sure there was something bothering Atenra. He was here at all, though, Regillus wouldn't send him here if he didn't have a good reason to. He wanted to ask, but honestly, he was afraid to. Spartacus was stupid when it came to him; he wouldn't be surprised if he'd gone and done something moronic.

And yet, Gannicus had done something moronic first, hadn't he.

"If you insist," he answered, nodding for him to follow, as he started toward the library. "This one had been in House Lancaster a long time. Would it be rude if this one asked how things are going for them?" He had friends there, if nothing else. Regillus was a friend, almost all the blood fighters in the stable could be considered frends of his, friendly, if nothing else. And Victoria. He hoped she hadn't taken it too hard, when he'd come here.

He'd always wished she'd run to the Allendales. But he knew why she never had.

Pieces in Place
Victoria Allendale
Yesterday at 02:04 AM
She smiled, softly and a bit absently, resting her cheek against his hair for a moment. "I love you too," she murmured. "I think the painkillers are finally kicking in." It would seem so. Her leg didn't hurt as much, now, and her mind was wandering random directions, thinking about inane things, and some of the things she decided to say, they were a bit odd, Victoria could admit. But, perhaps it wasn't altogether surprising. She'd always felt like Atenra and Sepheres deserved the truth from her, at least, but it was simply too dangerous, before. If nothing else, she felt safe, in House Essair. Safer than she had in a long time, a feeling she only remembered really getting when the world was much younger, and she had far more to lose.

"Yeah... me too," she admitted. "The weather's all weird, because it's trapped in a mountain corridor, essentially. The southwestern range blocks the air currents from the coast, and the northeastern range blocks the air currents from Galace, so the Kharga desert is kind of a cold one, the temperature drops below freezing sometimes, but it also gets really hot in summer, and sometimes the weather can change in mere hours. I always have to admire people that can manage to make their livelihoods in places like that, how tough they must be. But the architecture is the only kind in its class, giant pyramid shapes, the imperial palace is a large pyramid structure with a crystal at the top, they use it for electricity generation, four or... was it five... different rings of wall around the city and aura barriers to protect its lands from sand and snowstorms. It sounds like something someone made up on a whim, doesn't it."

Yes, Victoria distantly recognised this, at least. She hadn't put much thought into it, really, and she supposed it didn't matter too much. The chances of either of them seeing Saqqara for themselves, one day, well, those were slim. But there were so many things out there, so many wonderous and interesting things, and not only did she want to see them, but she thought it'd be good for her sons to see them, too. To better know and understand that there were more things to life and living than the terrors of Dalmasca. Oh, how messed up this nation was. Victoria never was terribly proud to be Dalmascan, and quite truthfully, may never.

"I'd like to see you smile, someday," Victoria mentioned, off-hand. "I don't think you ever have." At least, if he had, she hadn't seen it. Admittedly, she'd not had long with him, before. Maybe things would be different, now. "I'm sorry things are so weird, now. But change isn't all bad, nor is it all something to be afraid of. Things can get worse, sure, but they can get better, too. And in being afraid of things getting worse, you can stop them from getting better. I know it's hard. You're still young, yet, still don't know much about the world, or yourself. You'll be okay. It'll be okay, now. Someday, you'll hear a voice whispering in your heart. Listen to it, Sepheres. That voice is who you are."

Merenwen shuffled back in about there, with a strip of metal, and went to carefully working it under Victoria's leg.

auribus teneo lupum
Kassandros Essair
Yesterday at 01:16 AM And now where I stand, there are mountains I will climb; I'm looking up into pure sunlight;
Likely, unsurprisingly, Kassandros went quiet, listening, thinking. Livia knew Marcus better than he did, and despite not wanting to think about it, she was probably right to make him. In the end, she was right, and he knew it. Cassimer were so powerful and had remained so powerful for a reason; it was almost surprising that Marcus hadn't hit him harder than he'd already done. But of course, Livia said it first, Livia was right again, Marcus was underestimating him, trying the half-assed ways first, before moving to get serious. Perhaps Kassandros might've slightly underestimated him, or at the very least, underestimated how vicious he'd be willing to get, if Kassandros did not back down.

It wasn't impossible. Kassandros wasn't as infallible as he liked to believe he was, as he liked others to believe he was. In truth, he had no idea how to deal with it, if Marcus got serious, started hitting him where it really mattered, if ever it progressed that far. House Essair depended on him, and he knew it. Probably too well, ultimately, and it wasn't a responsibility he took lightly. It was almost akin to going from playing a card game to playing chess. The goals were the same, but everything else was different, and Kassandros had never learned the rules to this one, didn't know what the pieces did, didn't know what pieces there were. Except this was life.

"I didn't want to bother them," Kassandros replied. He was being honest, at least. Alasdair was worried about Dimitrios, no doubt, maybe not as much as he was before, but it was still there. And Sandalio had a brother to find, wandering around the Essair estate somewhere. It was just a trip down the road, it wouldn't be that bad. Did it matter? You cannot be a wall, protecting an unarmed village, and expect that village to remain standing should you fall. He had siblings. Sisters, too young to really understand how Dalmasca worked. With the right assistance, maybe House Essair could manage to keep going, even with a too young sibling running it, just long enough for someone to find their uncle. But that would put the burden of leadership on one of his siblings. What if none wanted to bear it? He'd tried not to think about it, before. Someday, soon enough, Kassandros would be gone, and someone would have to pick up the torch after him. He'd tried not to think about it, because he couldn't promise, as of now, when his siblings were too young to understand what they'd be picking up after him, that the one that led House Essair when he was gone would want to, and he didn't want that. There was no real way around it.

He didn't have much time. He didn't have the time to figure out if one wanted to succeed him. But, maybe he could, at least, give them a more solid foundation to stand on. Because the one Kassandros was working with, well, Livia was right. It was shaky. It wasn't hard to break. Kassandros deflected strikes at it the best he could, but when push came to shove, sooner or later, something would get past him. So how, exactly, did he fix it? How did he make it more solid and stable than it was? Build stronger walls? The house itself had nothing for security, and they didn't have much land. There were plenty of fields around their estate no one seemed to own, perhaps he could snatch it all for House Essair, move the stables out there and expand a bit, get some work horses, and... farms? Farms might be a start. Something not illegal, something more useful even if the market wouldn't take it. But Livia... she'd been the sole survivor of a blaze that had ripped through three or four of Asheron's farms, that was a serious concern. Walls, make the walls go over there, if he started building the House's security, then he could post guards on them...

There was just one problem with that: what to do for security? House Asheron had their vassals, and their blood fighters, but House Essair did not deal in the blood games, and all the particularly good fighters were elsewhere already. He'd have to get lucky, if he was going to get hold of a particularly decent fighter, because Kassandros couldn't train them himself. He knew nothing about training blood fighters or soldiers. It wasn't like someone had an entire pre-trained army he could just buy off them. He pinched the bridge of his nose, sat up, resting his arms on his knees.

"What would you suggest? I got far enough, in my head, to think, maybe something less illegal would be a good idea. Everyone knows the black market is mine, and increasing black market activities is dangerous; I should cut it back, instead, make it more difficult to pin on House Essair because if anyone gets solid proof the black market is mine, we're in a load of shit. Relying too heavily on trade and sales would be dangerous, because Marcus can just cut that off. Logically, it should also be something that would be useful even if Cassimer put a trade block on House Essair in Dalmasca. Farms, maybe, there's plenty of unused land around the estate I could probably buy up, and everywhere wants food, and if not, we can use it ourselves, but then there's the issue of protecting them. House Essair does not have soldiers. I have three blood fighters, and one's only ever fought lions. I know nothing about training blood fighters, and I'd have to if I attempted to go that route. Proper soldiers get a little more expensive, and it's not like anyone's got an already trained army just sitting around. I need some other source of income, something harder to stop, easier to defend, and an army to defend it with. But I have no idea how to get either." Livia knew how things like this worked better than he did. Maybe she'd have ideas.

Where the Heart Is
May 18, 2018, 11:04 PM
Alcides wasn't sure why he was so incredibly nervous about what he'd just said. Livia never took anything from him badly. And she certainly wasn't the sort who was going to explode because he was being honest. Even if she didn't feel the same, nothing would change between them. He could still be her guard, he could still do his job as she would expect him to. Arguably, his being in love with her might even make him better at it, because he would work harder to protect her because he cared about her.

Still, there was something about laying his heart out that was hard. Something about admitting to feelings that he had concealed for at least a few years now was... unsettling. It was one less thing between them, and Alcides thought that was probably a good thing. Keeping things from Livia wasn't something he would have considered a strong suit really.

After speaking he fidgeted slightly in place, without managing to look too uncomfortable.

It was the truth though, he loved her. And he wasn't going to go anywhere for many reasons, but perhaps mostly because he did love her and wouldn't leave her to face these things by herself. He'd rather stand beside her and fight. ... Besides, it wasn't like he had a home, or a family to go to.

"...Oh." Softly, as he felt his cheeks flush with heat. That uh, that answered that, apparently. Rather, um, succinctly. Somehow, he hadn't been prepared for her actually reciprocating. Of course, in hindsight, that wasn't surprising - he'd spent all this time assuming she wouldn't feel the same, and clearly he hadn't bothered to actually consider that maybe she did. ... She could do- No. Leave that alone.

"I guess that settles that." It was a weight lifted, actually. In an odd way. Almost in spite of himself he drew the hand holding his upward and brushed his lips against the back of it in a feather light kiss.

Axelius was never going to let him live this down. ... But maybe that was okay.

May 18, 2018, 08:11 PM I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.
[ooc: I'm just gonna call him Jayme for right now lol]

Interesting first question. In hindsight, it wasn't surprising, because Val - Tristán was wondering the same thing. He remembered he had two brothers, couldn't recall his parents' names. To him, they were just papi and mama, and when he'd heard their names, it'd been through someone else calling them by it. He'd been thirteen, he thought, somewhere around there, when the Dalmascans got him, and you hadn't figured out what your parents' names were, hadn't had it fully sink in, by then. Something with an 'E'... his mother's name was something with an 'E'. Eneida? Maybe. Eneida... it sounded right, but also didn't, at the same time. It'd been too long; he didn't really have it on recall, anymore, and, in thinking about it, he was surprised he'd lost so much.

He'd had other things to worry about, he supposed. It'd just gotten pushed aside, as it wasn't important right then, and, he'd forgotten. But that was the point, wasn't it, Dalmasca often sought to make you forget, because if all you remembered was Dalmasca, even if the cage doors were open, you were afraid to leave it. Now wasn't really the time to think of that. It didn't matter. The younger brother, what was his name.. he honestly didn't remember Sandalio's name, until he said it, either. Tristán looked up at the ceiling, following the patterns in the wood beams, up there, thinking.

"Two, younger than me," he answered, his tone thoughtful. "Sandalio and... and... fuck." Ahh, it was one thing to forget his parents' names, another to forget his brothers'. Don't get frustrated, it wouldn't help, anyway. He'd used those names all the time, it had to be in his head somewhere. A breath in, closing his eyes, thinking... the other name, what was it...

In his head, he could hear his younger self, chasing his younger brother around the fire, trying to get him to sit still so mama could give him a bath. He'd fallen into a mud puddle. And by fallen, it was more likely he'd jumped. 'Hold still,' he'd said. 'Mama doesn't have the energy to chase you around, -'

"Jayme," quiet, almost surprised, eyes snapping back open. "Sandalio and Jayme." He remembered now. Funny enough, now that he'd remembered his youngest brother's name, there were more memories he could recall, memories that weren't there before. No, they were, just buried. Tristán tilted his head, again, watching the other. "You can't possibly be the same one." Things like this, by chance, they didn't happen in Dalmasca.

silver winds
May 18, 2018, 03:13 PM
The smaller man noticed the surprise across Haku's face - but he did not comment on it, or address it in any way. Haku didn't say anything along that front, and so he wasn't going to pursue it unless Haku gave him no choice. The Jihonese man could make whatever assumption he wanted about the house and name. Alcides considered how to answer that for a moment. It hadn't occurred to him that this one would ask that. But then, of course he would - he had no dealings with Marcus himself.

"Dealing with Marcus Cassimer is... risky at the best of times." Was what he finally said. "It may go well for you, or he may manage to back you into a corner that it'll be difficult to get out of without help." It depended on the day and the question and the intelligence of the person doing the asking. Not that he didn't think this one was intelligent. But his grasp of the language was iffy enough that he sort-of wondered if there was a chance Marcus would talk him in circles until he ended up in a compromising position.

Not that it was any of Alcides' concern, really. But he was... generous. And he'd rather not give Marcus a tool, even incidentally. He could find enough of them on his own and all.

Alcides listened to Haku's story for a moment. ... He had some questions, like what was he looking for in this market place, exactly. But he didn't ask them, instead he seemed to consider it for a moment. "Well, I don't really have the authority to make any promises. But if you'd like to come with me, we can ask." Or he could go his own way. That one was entirely up to Haku.

Pieces in Place
May 18, 2018, 01:46 PM
... It was his mom. It was his mom. Sepheres reminded himself of that repeatedly as he rest there against her, still hugging her. Partially he'd frozen at that hiss, wondering what he'd done wrong, how he'd miss-stepped this time and upset her. But this was Victoria and she didn't really work that way. It took a moment, but he relaxed. This was his mom, and she'd never hurt him before. Somehow, he didn't think she was going to start now. She seemed to happy to be reunited with him to do something like that.

That was a rather oddly poetic way of putting things. Sepheres hadn't ever thought much about love, or anything like that. He was only fourteen, so he thought that was probably normal. Not that Sepheres would necessarily know normal if it turned into a tiger and bit him but well. It was the thought, he supposed. But Sepheres wasn't sure what to say, either. Aside from assuring her that they'd find Gannicus - but he didn't really have any sort of a way to ensure that, so the words were, at best, shallow. So he settled for just holding her for the moment. "I love you." He didn't say it often, but he did.

At least, as much as he could understand the term.

Sepheres' expression shifted to confusion when Victoria said that, of course. He'd been raised being told that Reggie was his cousin, that was one of those things that had never been in question. "....Oh." His tone held the same confusion as his expression. Hers. Aurelia had to have been in on that, because it was pretty impossible to convince someone they'd given birth to a child that didn't exist.

He wasn't sure how he felt about that. Sepheres didn't really like the feeling of one of the stable touchstones of his life being moved so drastically. But he didn't say that, either.

Here, for a few moments Sepheres was quiet, listening to what she had to say about Saqqara. ... And it sounded like it had come out of a story book. Sepheres didn't say that - but he also didn't believe what she was saying, not exactly. It was too drastically unlikely, too wild. There was no way he was a prince. Weres lived that long, of course, but... no. Even if he was it didn't change anything. He was still here, he still didn't know his father. He'd still been sold by the only father he had known - not that the man was a good one.

"That sounds nice." Quietly, not arguing with her. There was no reason to - either it was true, or her memory was hazy from her fall and blending together a story she'd read and reality. Either way, arguing would only needlessly upset her. "I'd like to see Saqqara one day." He never would, and they both knew it, but the free cities might be nice.

Glitter and Gold
Atenra Lancaster
May 18, 2018, 12:27 PM
Right. Atenra shrank just a hair. Of course they knew. That was a silly thing to say. The only reason they were tolerating him at all was because Livia liked Regillus as a person. Atenra was an awkward imposition, and nothing more - he was strikingly aware of that fact. "I'll keep that in mind." But slaves were supposed to say that. Of course they would pretend they didn't mind helping him. But they certainly had better things to do than show him around. He wasn't Titus, they didn't hate him on sight, but that was the best he could ask for, and he knew that.

Atenra was upset, a little, of course. ... Maybe a lot, if he was being honest. His mom was gone, the forever kind of gone. He didn't know what had happened. He didn't know why she'd jumped - but she had. Victoria wasn't coming back, no matter how much he wished she would. And that was... hard. It was incredibly hard to grasp, the idea that there would be no more quiet moments where he sat and let her braid his hair. There would be no more being gently encouraged to pursue whatever it was he was interested in this time. Losing Umbrius had been just as hard, before, but at least Victoria had been there to help him through it. And then... this. Titus sold his brother into slavery, just completely made him disappear to. Atenra was upset, and if he was honest with himself, a little angry.

Because he'd lost his mother, and then he'd lost his brother too. And now he was here. And Livia was nice, of course. Oh so incredibly nice to let him stay. But the fact that he even had to was - it didn't matter. Being upset about it wasn't going to change things, he reminded himself. Maybe all he wanted was familiarity, but that wasn't possible. He'd just have to live with the hand he'd been dealt.

Oh. Gannicus. The Gannicus. "That must be why you're so familiar." The words came out before Atenra had entirely thought them through, but he made no effort to rephrase, or anything of the sort. It hadn't come out wrong exactly, just in hindsight he wasn't sure he should have said it.

He did grimace at the title though. "Just Atenra's fine." Rather immediately after Gannicus had finished talking. Atenra tried not to fidget in discomfort. "But I would appreciate you showing me, if you would be so kind."
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