What I've BecomeStarted by Kassandros Essair at Apr 28, 2019 2:54 am
Einmanudur 11, 76
Since the one incident, Kassandros had mostly been avoiding both of his brothers. At this point, he imagined at least the one knew why, or had more of an inkling than before, if nothing else, but it wasn't really Icarus' fault, and maybe incidentally punishing both for the actions of one wasn't very fair. They got annoyed all the time, when other people couldn't tell them apart, Kassandros didn't need to go acting like he couldn't, either.
Still, he had no idea what to say. He had figured out, somewhere in this mess, that he'd spent an awful lot of time forgetting that his brothers only ever had him. And maybe their mother was back, now (he still had no idea how he felt about that), all they'd ever had was each other, and while it might not have been her fault, Ksenia hadn't been there. She didn't know what they did. She didn't live through what they did, and Kassandros, at least, would need some time before he really opened up to her. His brothers knew him better than most did, and maybe... maybe it was time he started leaning on them a little. Even if only because something told him, they'd prefer knowing how he was doing rather than being left in the dark.
So, a bit after breakfast, he set his pride on his desk, proverbially speaking, and quite the proud creature Kassandros always had been, in all the ways that weren't painfully obvious, and he shuffled out into the hall. Hmm. An unfortunate fact here was, he had very little idea where his brothers tended to be during the day. Instead of pondering it too long, though, he glanced down at the light rays scattering across the marble. "Hey," he whispered. "Mind leading me to Icarus?" It took a moment, as the light rays seemed to be quite pleased Kassandros had asked something of it, and then it flickered, and a trail of tiny lights dotted their way down the hall. Kassandros took a breath in, and followed them, another little light flickering to life at the end of the chain as he reached the closest and it went out.
Finally, after a bit of winding around the estate and going up another floor, he got close enough he could see him. Well, maybe the first thing he should do was apologise. He hadn't really been particularly present, despite being physically here, since their father died, and that was really more of a personal failing, wasn't it? Off-hand, after a glance around, he noticed Cygnus wasn't here, but maybe that was okay. He and Cygnus had some complications they needed to work out, and maybe that was something Icarus couldn't, and shouldn't, really help with. A moment's hesitance, and Kassandros shuffled over there, settling down beside Icarus.
"Hi," he said, deciding to start with that. It was so rare they interacted, much less during the day, it might take Icarus a moment or two to wrap his head around this one, and maybe diving into a whole mess of words right off wasn't the best idea. This might be a bit jarring, in and of itself, after all.
Icarus was sitting quietly to one side of the garden. It was a peaceful place and it wasn't so far out of the ordinary that no one would be able to find him if they needed him. Just... enough so that they may have to look if they hadn't seen him go. Icarus had mostly come out for a little fresh air and a chance to relax as it was.
Icarus was not so lost in his own thoughts that he didn't hear the approach behind him, but he didn't turn. The chances of anything getting this deep into the area without setting off the guards unless they belonged here were almost null, so Icarus didn't really feel the need to constantly watch over his shoulders. This was home, and it was just about the only place he could manage to be that relaxed. Certainly he was going to enjoy the chance to relax instead of being on hair trigger.
Somehow though, Icarus wasn't expecting it to be Kassi who ended up settling down beside him. Icarus offered a small smile but said nothing at first. Kass had been avoiding both of them since the incident with Cygnus. He wasn't surprised exactly. They'd.... never exactly been close anyway. Kass was always a little distant, always too busy. That wasn't anyone's fault, it just... was.
"Hey." He greeted back after a moment or two, turning his gaze back towards the sky, but acutely aware of the presence beside him now. "How're you today?" It was worth asking and it was a neutral enough topic that Icarus didn't think it could possibly go wrong. Honestly the worst he could imagine happening was Kass skipping right over the question in order to ask him something or tell him whatever it was that he'd come out here to ask.
It was quite possible that Kass needed something, after all. It was also possible that he just wanted a break and perhaps to see his siblings. Icarus wouldn't attempt to guess, really, and would just as soon wait for a clearer answer. Icarus didn't mind he wasn't in a hurry, so it would be fine whenever things finally revealed themselves.
How was he... in being asked that, which was a logical thing to ask (didn't most people ask that first?), he realised, he never really thought about it. Inevitably, maybe, he'd been ignoring it. It was probably a side-effect of listening to Vopiscus too long, even in not listening to him; nobody cared, it didn't matter, Kassandros ignored it. The fact his brother managed to momentarily confuse him by asking that question, that was perhaps a little sad. It was what it was, and maybe bothering with that, in particular, was somewhat stupid.
So, how was he? He had no idea. It wasn't like he'd thought about that, of course, and neither was he terribly familiar with how to gauge that. Today, at least, he didn't feel like murdering anything. He supposed that was a marked bonus. "... better? I think," was what he finally answered with. Kind of a lame answer, that one was, but it was also one of the more honest answers he could've given. Probably, he shouldn't really be lying to his brothers, anyway. The last time he'd lied to one (mind, that was by omission, and Kassandros didn't consider that quite the same thing), everything had just, kind of imploded.
"How about you?" He seemed in a pretty good mood. Well, a decent one, at least. Then, he often was around the house, when Kassandros had occasion to see him (at least not quite as tense as he was outside the walls). It did make sense, honestly. Kassandros was the same way, but not all of him relaxed, even here. ... well, he got a bit closer to it, around Sandalio. (Never did figure out why, still.) Maybe nothing would ever make him completely relax. That was a marked possibility, and he knew it, because he'd never really felt at home here, either. Maybe that was it. Maybe Sandalio felt like home.
He wasn't so sure how that worked, but he wasn't going to think about it too much, just now. He'd honestly always felt like he belonged somewhere else, anyway, just hadn't always had the words for it. Maybe that was okay.
Well that was good. Better was not 'bad' after all, so it was more than might have been expected otherwise. Icarus couldn't complain,and really he could only hope that things continued to slowly get better from here. He wasn't going to hold his breath or anything, but it would be nice if things started to look up for once.
Mm. "I'm doing alright." Icarus confirmed after a moment. "Glad to be home. .... Still not fully sure what to make of mom but..." It was nice to get to know her, slowly. It was... it was something that would take time to be normal, but it was still nice to have her here now. Most of the time.
He was also glad to see Kassi taking his own safety at least a little seriously and keeping a bodyguard, even if it didn't protect him from everything. But he didn't think... that was something to say.
"The gardens look nice." They did, they usually did, but the food garden starting was also looking pretty nice, even if it did take time to propagate fully still. There was time for it to grow, but in the mean time... progress was being made. And the house was stronger than it might have been otherwise, and they were all home and together. It could have been much worse than it was currently.
Icarus couldn't complain. Well, he could, but it would be kind of petty given the direction things were moving in. "Is there anything I can do to help you? With the house or... in general?" Kassi was always so busy, and there was always so much to do. So it seemed like that was a reasonable thing to ask.
Worst that happened was that Kassandros didn't want him to meddle in which case... at least he'd asked before trying to dive in and take something over? Icarus did know that some things were rather delicate after all.
Ah, yeah, neither of them had gone out on the military tour they were supposed to. Cygnus hadn't, either, and that was likely for the best. Cygnus had some... issues to work through, and maybe the military would've just made them worse, rather than better, as it did have a neat habit of encouraging the worst traits in people. More than once, already, he'd considered taking House Essair and leaving Dalmasca outright. The only problem was, where to go, because it wasn't like Kassandros had a Free City or whatever in his back pocket. Then again, he was making decent friends with notable members of both House Lucain and Assad. Maybe they could move to Saqqara or Haradi. He pondered that, for a moment, and then let it go. There'd be time to consider that, he supposed, provided nothing changed again.
Hmph, their mother was... a situation. Kassandros still wasn't entirely sure he believed the story she and Thana told, but then, this was Dalmasca, and being realistic, it wasn't the most outlandish thing Kassandros had ever heard of Dalmascans doing, so perhaps they were telling the truth. Everything so far had lined up the right way for them to be. He supposed he was simply having trouble comprehending doing something like that, and frankly, he couldn't really say why. It wasn't the worst thing. And he supposed it was just hammering more nails in the coffin of staying here because if that wasn't the worst thing... maybe he didn't want his brothers here. Maybe he didn't want Estelle and Leon here.
"They do," Kassandros answered. He wasn't certain, how far back there he intended to go, but they did eventually reach House Lancaster's land. Of course, there wasn't much left of House Lancaster; at this rate, the Essairs might yet simply absorb it. Perhaps not. That was somehow an unexpected question and in hindsight, he wasn't sure why. Kassandros shrugged lightly, tilting his head for a second. "I have a list of stuff," he said. "Things I've been working toward, plans for the house and related. There are probably a few things on there you can help with, at the very least." The goals were simple, of course. "Mostly, I'm getting the house on a stronger financial foundation, so even if Cassimer hits us directly, we can endure it, perhaps long enough to outlast him." Later, of course, Kassandros had other plans for more farmlands, quite a number of them outside Dalmasca entirely, but, maybe that plan was changing. Even if he was already gone, when they did, maybe it'd be better for his brothers to leave.
Kass tilted his head a bit. "I ah, I actually wanted to say that I'm sorry," he said, quietly. "I'm... not very good at being your brother, never really have been, anymore. It's easy to say something about being busy and having a lot to think about, but... I should've been finding the time, and I'm sorry that I haven't been." He did intend to try doing better, but Kassandros didn't see a reason to say it; he'd do it, instead.
Well that was something. Kassandros had a list of things, there was probably something on the list he could do and feel useful for. Which was... that was good because Kassi ended up doing so much and Icarus wanted to take at least a little of that away if he could. Besides, helping him do things for the house was probably a good way to bond with him - given Kassi spent so much of his time doing that. Never mind it may actually help make some time for his brother to do other things.
So, of course, Icarus nodded along there mildly. Before he could say anything though, Kassi continued on to apologize.
Hm. Well. Icarus wasn't sure how to respond for a moment, his expression merely pensive. he could see it, of course. And he'd thought himself that he sort of resented that it was just them against the world and yet they weren't.... they weren't close like they should have been under better circumstances. But Dalmasca wasn't better circumstances and their lives had never been easy and Kassi had been forced to grow up far too young and that wasn't really his fault.
If anything it seemed to Icarus that he'd been trying to stop them from having to go through what they did. Sure, it was frustrating being closed away from his brother so often and it was frustrating just how much went on right under his nose without him knowing but... mm.
"I understand where you're coming from, but you have been busy and there's been a lot going on that you couldn't just ignore." Icarus said finally. "And I won't pretend it doesn't hurt sometimes feeling like I barely know you but... it isn't like we've been living in ideal circumstances, either." Not by miles. Not even by Dalmascan standards.
"We could all use to meet somewhere in the middle, probably." Yeah, probably. Cygnus and Icarus could use to help more, and Kassandros could use to let them. And maybe then they'd all have a stronger idea of what was going on and also be more used to working together.
It wasn't like Icarus was wrong. Kassandros knew that, even as it still felt like it wasn't enough. Then, maybe nothing ever really would, because Vopiscus had been hard on him, had held onto a lot of rather ridiculous expectations of him, but Vopiscus was nothing compared to what Kassandros expected of himself. It was difficult to say why. It was hard to say whether Kassandros would've held those same expectations of himself with, or without, Vopiscus' influence. One thing was sure, he had certainly not helped any.
"I guess," Kassandros answered, quietly, glancing down at his lap. "I don't... even know what I'm doing anymore, and I guess it just kind of feels like I went and fucked everything up." He knew, though, that wasn't quite true. As it was, he'd done the House quite a number of good things. He had formed the Cobras. He had gained the House what vassals it had. He had forged an alliance with one of the most powerful noble lines in Dalmasca, and then made friends with House Teresi, even. It just... never felt like enough, and maybe the inability to figure out what he wanted to do now (he'd figured out he didn't necessarily want the throne) had flipped his life onto its ass enough, everything felt like the wrong direction.
His life was easier, when he had a clear goal and a strong idea of what he was after. But the throne wasn't something that he could simply take, either. Dalmasca had to accept him as their ruler. Unfortunately, as it stood, they'd be too busy fighitng him for him to get anywhere, and they'd be right back where they were now, if Kassandros even managed to retain the throne, and if he did, it'd likely be with much bloodshed. There had to be another way to do this, if he really wanted the throne that badly, but the only thing he truly cared about it for was because it was the quickest way to make Dalmasca stop. And yet, it wouldn't really stop anything at all, and Kassandros knew that, as much as he wanted to pretend he didn't.
In the end, maybe that wasn't enough of a reason to want the throne. After all, ideally, he'd be stuck with it for a long time after. It wasn't one of those decisions one made on a whim, but he did have to admit it'd be somewhat satisfying to be able to flip Vopiscus and his 'you need to be more than just pretty' off.
How's that for more than just pretty, asshole.
"I've been thinking," he started. "And it does occur to me, that we're neither safe, nor happy, here, and maybe never can be either one. It's... not really something I can fix, at least not terribly easily, and I don't... I wanted you and Cygnus to grow up better than I did. I think you did and didn't. Now, I'd rather you were safer, and happier, and I don't think I'm going to get you there in Dalmasca. Maybe we should leave." It wasn't like Dalmasca wasn't trying to kill them all.
Icarus was quiet for a moment, not entirely sure how to respond to that. Did Kassi know just how much he'd done for the family? Did he know just how much he did for the house itself? He had to realize that they were only standing as strongly as they were because of him ... didn't he? Even if they never went any further, even if they never got any stronger - which was unlikely - they were still in a far better place than they'd been when Vopiscus had died.
On the other hand, Icarus knew that Kassandros had extremely high expectations, and that he'd never quite be satisfied. And that was... well. That was probably not something that Icarus could just dismiss or argue away. It was unfortunate, maybe, but it was true and wasting his breath on it and risking damaging the tenuous peace between them didn't really seem worthwhile to him. Not now.
That though. That got his attention. Icarus' expression turned thoughtful though he remained silent for a few more moments, merely considering what Kassandros had said. Leave.... Dalmasca? Admittedly his first reaction was a sort of denial or refusal - Dalmasca wasn't always pleasant but it was still their home. But then a quiet whisper in the back of his mind made him wonder why he wanted to stay. There was hardly anything good about this place, except those closest to him.
Dalmasca had taken so much away from them, and it would continue to do so until they died or until there was nothing left to take.
"Only.... only if we all go." Kassandros had said 'we' at the end there, but Icarus wanted to make it clear that he wasn't going to leave his brother behind, period. "But you might be on to something really, about leaving." Icarus could admit that after very little consideration, really. "There's a lot wrong here in Dalmasca and it's not something we can fix really." Ah, no. No it was not. "Where did you have in mind?" Icarus assumed one of the Free Cities, but asking Kassandros for insight seemed like a good idea rather than assuming.
Something about assuming usually ending badly.
That was - then again, Kassandros wasn't sure why he hadn't been expecting that response, exactly. Of course that was how Icarus responded, because Kassandros did have a penchant for wanting to send others away. But without House Essair, there was literally nothing left for him, here. If the House left, Kassandros went with them, and he'd accepted, by now, that aside from Icarus, Sandalio wasn't going to go anywhere he didn't, which meant neither would Tristan or Estelle, and the whole thing just got really messy really quick. Leon was also unlikely to want to go anywhere Kassandros didn't.
It was easier, all around, if Kass just, accepted it and left with them. But, he wanted to help them rebuild, anyway. Kassandros had started building them up, it was just, right, that he went too, so he could keep helping build them up. And at this point, they'd only made it this far, because they'd stayed together. It was entirely possible, likely, even, that the only way they were going to make it past here, was also together.
It stood to reason, at least to him. And, as strange as it was, to have their mother back, they were all together again, for the first time in a long time. Cygnus was starting to get a bit better, a little at a time. At the very least, he and Kassandros hadn't gotten into a fight recently (probably a good thing, he was fairly sure Sandalio was going to deck him the next time they did), and maybe nothing would ever really be the way it was, a long time ago, when the world was younger, and they had more to lose, but maybe it didn't need to be. Maybe things were fine exactly the way they were. Going forwards was hard enough; he supposed they didn't need to be trying to go backwards.
"I know," Kass answered. "We've made it this far together. Maybe we'll only make it beyond this point together." It made sense to him. "Actually, maybe Saqqara. Haradi's a bit cold for me, and we've been making pretty good friends with House Lucain. There aren't many of us. They should be okay with us just finding somewhere on the outskirts and replanting our farms, and minding our own damned business." And to hell with everything else, because maybe Kassandros just didn't care anymore. And why should he, anyway? It wasn't like anyone really gave much of a shit about him, except the people he seemed to have the least amount of time for.
He'd never found a balance, between the two, but then, everything he did, he did for the House. Maybe there really wasn't a balance to be found, anyway.
Icarus nodded slightly, accepting that answer. It just... it had felt necessary, because Kassi did have that habit of trying to send people away from him sometimes. But none of them did alone very well, and he didn't like having left him alone temporarily when both himself and Cygnus were on military tour. This would be permanent, which made it even worse.
Icarus liked that idea, progressing together. Finding freedom in a place that wasn't home - but maybe it could be, if they went together. And they had their mom with them now, too.
Hm. Saqqara. Well, he didn't really see why not. Warmer for sure, though not coastal if he remembered correctly. That was okay though, certainly wouldn't be the end of the world. And.... Kassandros was right, they were likely to be on good terms with them right around the time they brought their princes home after reuniting them. Nevermind Surya really only had good things to say about house Essair.
"Well, you're not wrong. We're a small enough group that we shouldn't cause any issues settling there." Not really at least. And it might honestly be nice to just ... live somewhere. No social ladder to worry about, fewer concerns of betrayal because they wouldn't be anyone's competition really. Yes, Icarus thought that was a nice idea after all.
"If nothing else, the change of pace might give us a chance to decide what it is we really want to do." Without quite as much of a struggle to survive, maybe they would come up with something that they'd rather do. Probably nothing to do with this hellscape but still. Having time to make those sorts of decision would be nice, given they'd never been able to do that before. Here it was always a struggle to just make it through the next day and try not to do anything that would bite them in the ass later, it seemed.
Saqqara sounded like a nice idea, even if it was probably going to take some getting used to.