starlightStarted by Sahura Lucain at Apr 06, 2019 12:21 am
Goi 12, 76
In the early days, Sahura was rather quite convinced his sons had died, and that was that. He hadn't, of course, caught either of their scents and neither had any of the other weres that made up a vast majority of Saqqara's population. It'd seemed hopeless; there were many things in and around Saqqara that could have caused their deaths. Vicious beasts lurked in the mountains, deadly, large scorpion-like creatures in the surrounding desert. The mountains were treacherous and dangerous things to cross, but his sons should have been more capable of crossing the mountains. Sahura had never left them to their own devices, expected them to figure things out on their own, and, where he could, had taught them random survivalist things to know. Things Sahura hoped they'd never need to know, but felt important enough to teach them.
Neither Sati nor Surya were ever terribly unintelligent. Most of House Lucain were not terribly unintelligent, usually capable of figuring out what they needed to do in most situations. Both were smart enough to be alive, even if they did come face to face with a monstrous scorpion, or a dragon. Sahura had believed, when first he thought this, that his beliefs were rooted in the hope that they were alive, not the logical conclusion that they must be. But then, his sister had come back with news she'd heard their names in Dalmasca. It couldn't have been them, but it was.
Many hundreds of years later, three hundred forty two, if he remembered right, his sons still weren't home. To make matters worse, the youngest prince of Haradi had vanished, and Sahura understood that pain. He'd felt it for hundreds of years, and Sidonai didn't have hundreds of years to feel it. Tihaan would die, before then, as would Sidonai. Sahura didn't want either of them to die before they were reunited. Search efforts were doubled. Sidonai had sent out bounty hunters, typically very skilled in the art of locating someone. Sahura offered use of his airships and information networks.
With any luck, all four of the missing ones would come home, soon.
Sahura had recently heard from his sister. She seemed to have a lead on Surya, and Sahura hoped it was a good sign. She mentioned hearing Tihaan's name, and Sahura had to come to Haradi, as they were coordinating efforts to get slavers out of both of their cities, maybe he'd mention it. Hearing Tihaan's name, it meant the boy still lived. Well, he wasn't really a boy, anymore, was he? Hmm, what was he now, in his early twenties? Sahura strode across the halls of the Haradian palace; he knew where he was going, to Sidonai's library, as it were. As he reached the doors, solid wood with metal and lacquer detailing, he tapped gently on the door.
"I hope you're not busy," he murmured to the door. Sidonai should recognize his voice, of course. Sahura decided to wait; he may not want to talk, right this second, or have a visitor. Sahura didn't exactly ask, yet rarely he did anyway.
Most would have given up, by now. Sidonai wasn't sure if he was insane, or just ridiculously determined, perhaps even in sore need of hobbies, but, even if he had to go into Dalmasca himself, he would, if it meant he found his son. Tihaan had been gone a long time, and he was dearly missed, not only by Sidonai himself, but by the people in Haradi, too. When he'd disappeared, many in the city had become almost depressed, and Sidonai wouldn't pretend his standing with Haradi's people hadn't slipped, some. Slavers were still in Haradi, and now they'd stolen one of the royal family, too.
It was a difficult thing to come to terms with. Sidonai liked to think he wouldn't have lost so much, would have liked to think that he had the resources and the power to be able to keep slavers out of his city, but it turned out, maybe not. The slave trades were powerful; he knew that as well as anyone, maybe better, and fully stopping them, it'd be a fight. Even Saqqara hadn't fully stopped them from waltzing into their own city, albeit Saqqara was more difficult to get to. Saqqara had also lost more than Haradi. Sometimes, he mused on border protections, thought about judicial adjustments, pondered on anything that sounded like it might help. And then he wondered if he wasn't fighting a losing battle.
And the Dalmascans were being of absolutely no assistance, whatsoever. Really, he felt more inclined to blow them up than discuss diplomacy. Their Imperator was a right bloody sack of stupid, and the vast majority of the major noble lines weren't far behind. House Cassimer had flatly, albeit tactfully, told him he was shit out of luck, House Lancaster about the same, the only two that were remotely useful were Essair and Asheron, but neither of them had much luck either. Both had their own affairs, as well, and Sidonai could appreciate they didn't have time to help him, necessarily.
It was all a mess, even with his personal guard patrolling Haradi's streets, they still lost one here and there.
Ah... that was Sahura's voice. Sahura had a bit more freedom to move around than Sidonai, if only because he had trusted individuals he could leave his city to. Sidonai dared not attempt it, lest he lose his throne. Then again, he wondered if his throne was worth never seeing his son again. Not really, actually. "I'm not," he answered. "It's open." Sahura was decent enough a mage to pop the lock, anyway. House Lucain were really the only truly beneficial allies in this mess. Sidonai was losing his touch, or something. He wondered, sometimes, if he'd become complacent in his old age. Possibly.
Ah, he was oozing depress, again. Not to say Sahura was surprised. He'd dealt with it longer, of course, had almost desensitized to it, had gotten to the point where it no longer stung as much as it used to and he could think about it more clearly, without emotion clouding his judgment. But it was a difficult thing, and it had taken many, many years, before he'd gotten to this point. Sidonai, well, he may not ever reach the point where he managed to cut his emotions out of it, focus on logic and practicality, focus on the doing.
That was, of course, why Sahura insisted on bothering him, insisted on offering advice and trying to help Sidonai see things from a different angle. Because ultimately, being so blinded by missing his son, it would just make things more complex than they needed to be, and significantly upped the chances of him doing something stupid. Like, going to Dalmasca himself. But truthfully, Sahura was tempted, too. If you want something done right, you do it yourself, no?
Sahura pushed the door open, closed it behind him. Yeah, that was the sharp tang of depression he smelled. He shook his head, settling down in a seat nearby. "I don't imagine you've much good news?" he asked. "Noticed the guard's patrolling the streets." Sahura understood that idea, but also wasn't certain it was a good one, being fair about it. Certainly probably not a bad one, if nothing else, but -- then again, he supposed, Sidonai wasn't terribly concerned about ending up in chains in Dalmasca next, because hey, he'd be in Dalmasca, where Tihaan was, somewhere.
Man, he hated that this mindset made sense. Haradi, though, he wasn't sure if Haradi could remain standing without their king for too long. If nothing else, Ryhil would have to come back, and take the throne, at least temporarily. A sudden power shift would probably jar the city, a bit, but probably not cause particularly lasting damage. Probably.
Well, if Sidonai disappeared next, Sahura would probably focus on helping Ryhil keep Haradi from collapsing.
Sidonai released a tired breath, shaking his head. No, he didn't have much in the way of good news. Haradi's forces were not small, by any means, actually they were larger than Saqqara's merely by virtue of having a larger population overall. But it wasn't enough. He wasn't sure how to make it enough. Slavers were difficult to track the movements of; that was sort of what they were good at, going unnoticed, particularly the ones with enough balls to try enslaving Haradians. If he wanted to get rid of them, he'd need some means of telling which ones were slaver and which weren't, but this was difficult. Haradi wasn't large in land size, so it was densely populated, and the city's streets more chaotic than usual. It was difficult to keep track of everyone in such a densely populated city of any size.
For a moment, he almost asked Sahura if he'd be willing to temporarily trade some of Haradi's soldiers for some of Saqqara's. Weres had keener senses overall, and Haradi were, admittedly, lacking in were numbers. Aside from just using auratechnology to track people that came in and out of Haradi, and while for their own protection, it was still a rights violation of a form, and it didn't sit right. While Haradi's people may trust him enough to do it, he wouldn't ask them to. Weres would be the next best thing, capable of hearing far better than men, sensing panic far better than men... some, particularly the oldest of Saqqara's number, could sense ill-intentions. Likely, they'd interrupt quite a few things before they found a slaver, but it may just be enough to put a dent in it.
"It's not enough," he answered. "The slavers still get one or two here and there. I hate to ask, Sahura, but perhaps you'd be up for a trade? Some of Haradi's soldiers for some of yours, preferably weres. The weres have better senses, would be able to pick up on things our humes cannot. It may put more of a dent in this slaver business." A short pause, and Sidonai added, "I may start executing them when I find them. If only to send a message, because these stupid bastards aren't getting it."
But that wasn't what he wanted to ask.
It wasn't a bad idea, mind. Sidonai was never one for making terrible decisions, nor having bad ideas, but that wasn't what he really wanted to ask. Sahura could see the merit in it. Weres, and ilim, even, could sense intentions. Older, more powerful weres, were better at hiding their intentions, but they could still sense those of others, and humes were terrible at controlling their innate, natural reactions, the shot of adrenaline, the spike in blood pressure. Some could. Some could control that, but it took a very special sort of person to manage it. It would certainly lend toward catching a whole lot of no-good, and maybe somewhere along the way, they'd catch a slaver or five.
"Can't say I blame you," Sahura replied. "You should know I don't mind helping. ... I'll tell you what," Sahura went on, standing and shuffling over to lean against Sidonai's desk. "You give me written plans. What you want done, how to handle anything that may crop up you can think of, write down what you're doing and what the end goal is. I'll try following it, but if I find a better way, I'm going to go the better way. I can leave Saqqara to my advisers and the warmasters. They're as much leader as I am. And you... you go find your son." Humes didn't last long, after all. Maybe Sidonai might make it a few more years, yet, couple more decades at most, but he wasn't any closer to finding Tihaan than he had been before, and he wasn't getting any younger.
And, the more he had this war with the slavers to deal with, the more time slipped away. It wasn't like Sidonai had anyone besides Ryhil that he could really trust to look for Tihaan. He had the mercenary woman looking, but, she was a merc. Sahura, on principle, did not trust mercs. All they wanted was money, and if someone gave her enough, she might well kill Tihaan instead of bringing him home, and Sahura was sure Sidonai knew that, but... maybe the fact he'd hired a mercenary in the first place was a very clear, heavy-handed indicator, that he was getting desperate. Sahura knew he'd rather be looking for his sons -- it wasn't hard to imagine Sidonai would, too.
Yes, he knew Sahura didn't mind helping, but that wasn't entirely the point. Mostly, he guessed; if Sahura didn't mind, then he supposed there was no sense in worrying over it too much, but House Assad was a proud one, and Sidonai was not much different. He could, when he tried, manage by himself, and while he realised, there were times and situations in which he needed help, and had no choice but to ask for it, Sidonai tried not to get to that point. House Assad should be capable of taking care of its own problems. Why he suddenly seemed incapable, he'd never know. He really was losing his touch, in his age.
For a moment, Sidonai stared, wondering when Sahura had - but, of course. This was Sahura. Unlike Sidonai, Sahura had plenty of people he trusted that he could leave Saqqara to; a vast majority of those below him in authority actually really weren't, because that was the manner in which Sahura had built the first Free City. Haradi did and did not live up to Saqqara's legacy, but he thought it got close enough. And then this happened, and Haradi needed something more sure than 'I am seriously stuck here because no one else can run Haradi without me.' Another failing, on his part.
"You've lost your mind, as usual," Sidonai replied, eventually. "I suppose it's nice to know some things don't change. ... are you sure, though? Haradi's still got many problems, and I wouldn't want to simply dump them on you." That was not, of course, very nice. Even if Sahura did not mind, some part of Sidonai did.
You know, he almost looked like someone had smacked him in the face with a board. Sahura was trying not to laugh, honestly. Yes, he knew; Dalmasca was no one's friend, and given how educated Sidonai was, he'd fetch a good price on the slave market. Sidonai also wasn't quite still in his prime, humes passed that, after a point. Kasaya, however, maintained that, if Sidonai left Haradi, he'd find his son alright. Perhaps not the way he intended, but he'd find Tihaan. And maybe, in the end, the semantics surrounding it weren't as important.
Things could go terribly wrong, though, and Sahura knew it.
"Of course," Sahura answered. "And I know it does. You've been so distracted worrying about Tihaan, what have you managed to get done, anyway? I wager part of why you've been unable to chase the slavers out entirely is because your head's not entirely in it, and certainly your heart only is part way. There's no sense in banging your head against a proverbial wall, Sids. Just go. Bring Haradi back her prince. I'll hold the fort down. And if you run into trouble, Inetkaes is over there somewhere." He was sure she'd recognise his scent, and probably would go toward it. He, Ryhil, and Tihaan should be the only ones that smelled like Assad, so it wouldn't be quite that difficult to find any of them.
It'd work out. Besides, Inetkaes had been looking for Sahura's sons for many years, now, and had still managed to continually return. Sidonai may have similar luck, certainly he was smart enough.
It was difficult to argue with him. Maybe he should just, not. That would most likely be better for his blood pressure, being realistic. Once Sahura got something in his head, he never really did let it go, unless someone managed to prove to him just how unintelligent something happened to be. Sahura usually didn't come up with anything truly stupid, at least. Everyone could thank the stars for that.
"Not much," Sidonai admitted. And some part of him was ashamed of that; Haradi depended on him, and suddenly finding himself unable to handle running the city was pretty shameful, in his eyes. The only defence he had, was that it wasn't terribly sudden. Being honest, that wasn't a terribly good excuse. Yes, Tihaan was gone, and yes, that was upsetting, but he had others that depended on him.
On the other hand, not being so upset, that might be more shameful. It wasn't like there was a precedent for this.
"I guess it can't hurt," he finally conceded. "Give me a day or so. I have to at least get you up to speed on diplomatic matters, albeit I suppose my advisors could do such. Still, I'd rather not leave you flailing." Sahura seemed to do well flailing, so there was that.