And the Cracks Begin to ShowStarted by Kassandros Essair at May 17, 2019 12:56 pm
Einmanudur 17, 76
If he was thinking right, he probably had most things worked out for the trip to Saqqara. Helpfully, the Wynbrandts had indeed agreed to stop by House Essair on occasion and handle anything the slaves couldn't work out for themselves. By some stroke of luck, he'd managed to find a small shipment of Galacese blades, which he intended to hand to the sword-users still remaining among their guard number, and that'd be helpful for holding the fort down. Mostly, what was left was dealing with Titus, to get Sati and probably Alexios, and then... he supposed he should figure out who all was going. And perhaps how they were getting there... well, if they went through Haradi, perhaps Tihaan would be so kind as to pick up an airship. That'd make traversing the mountains and the Kharga desert less... concerning.
The blades were actually a bit lighter than he'd expected, but he'd fiddled with a couple before he'd bought them; they were indeed Galacese, and perhaps a bit more than he'd really wanted to spend about now, but they'd pay back their purchase prices many times over. Prized for their holding a sharp edge for longer, and being resistant to shattering and other breakage, but Kassandros knew they would, as well, channel aura, and that'd come in handy someday.
Blade mages. That sounded like a good idea to him. Not that the world had as yet come up with such an idea. He'd probably have to experiment and figure out how to do that one himself. He could do that, though.
Ah, wait. Just before turning a corner, he stopped, backed up a few paces. It was awfully quiet back this way, but if he was guessing correctly, he already knew why. This... was the day he was supposed to die. Once again, the head warred with the heart; one was tired of fighting all the time and didn't really care if this was the end. The other had too many reasons to live, to give up so easily. It was a complicated thing, a complicated thing Kassandros had never quite reconciled, even to himself.
He turned, then, but despite looking like he really wanted to say something, he didn't. Which one should he listen to? Of course, as much as Canius was wrong, he was also unfortunately a bit right. No, House Essair would not instantly collapse, if he died. For a long time, they all had been running on the assumption that he'd die very soon, and right they were, and while it wasn't perfect, with their mother around, Icarus wasn't stupid, he could handle it, albeit, maybe not gracefully. But... Kassandros still did not want Icarus becoming who Kassandros had needed to become to survive. And maybe they wouldn't fall immediately, but if the dice landed in the right way, and they wouldn't stand long, either.
Seers weren't supposed to change their fate. That was their curse; to know where their life came to an end, and being unable to stop it, among other things. Kassandros wasn't supposed to be the seer. Did the rules still apply? Ytias didn't say they did; Ytias didn't say they didn't. What he said here would be important. It was still possible, that if he said the wrong thing, he'd set off a chain reaction and disturb the natural flow of time. Certainly, his life alone wasn't worth all that. But what if it didn't matter, and he cheated himself out of a longer life? But did he really want to survive this? Maybe he didn't. The pieces still didn't entirely make sense. He didn't know exactly what he was walking into, just that it was terrible enough to be lethal. And if he did want to survive it, he needed Sandalio out here, where he was mobile.
"... sorry, I'm..." he trailed off, his face scrunching up slightly. "Overthinking this probably, but I'm good at that." And yet, maybe this was something he should overthink, because the consequences could be a little bigger than him. Damn it.
Today seemed to be a normal day. They were out and about, running errands. The damage from the Festival of Iuna had long since healed, and things were as normal as they ever were in house Essair. Sandalio was glad that things were almost back to normal, really. Kassandros had ended up finding some things that he was looking for, things that would ultimately be quite useful in the longer run.
For example, the Galacese blades that Kassi had been able to get his hands on.
Sandalio paused when Kassandros did, expresison slightly confused. At first the Macenian said nothing, remaining where he was and simply letting the other think through whatever it was on his mind. Sometimes it was a vision, sometimes it was something else - and really there was no point in asking for answers until Kass was ready to give them. After all, Sandalio could ask but it usually would result in nothing right up until Kass decided differently.
It could be frustrating at times, but Sandalio did trust the blond and he did understand that sometimes there were things he couldn't share for various reasons. Kass was a seer, and he had to consider the impact that his words might have carefully, Sandi tried to understand that. On the other hand sometimes it resulted in him putting himself in what seemed like needless danger merely because 'this wasn't how he was supposed to die'. And Sandalio... understood the sentiment, sort of, but couldn't help but wonder if courting death was still a very bad idea, whether Kassandros knew how he would die or not.
Things changed, after all. Why wouldn't his potential death be one of the things that changed, if he tempted fate enough?
"It's okay. Take all the time you need." Was what Sandalio said at first. Kass was good at overthinking things, but sometimes he was really just considering the different angles so he could make the best decision. Sandi supposed that depending on what angle you looked at it from, that may seem like overthinking after all.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" It was worth asking, but there was a chance that he really couldn't, in the end. Still, Sandalio felt he needed to ask and he did want to help.
He wasn't so sure he had that much time... Marcus could be a patient individual, when he so chose to be, about some things, but maybe this one wasn't on the list, and he really didn't need Sandalio caught up in this. If they both went down, they were both going to die, and that would be the end of that tragic tale. That wasn't the future Kassandros wanted for them. Not that this was, you know, in general, but he had to deal in the hand he was dealt, and Marcus was... very difficult to get loose of once he'd set aim at you, apparently.
Eventually, one leg jittered, and he loosed a very unrefined frustrated growl. "I'm not even sure what I'm allowed to tell you," he said, crossing his arms. "Ytias never said I couldn't, but also never said I could."
Actually, the light whispered at his feet. Only one seer line is beholden to the seer rules, and it's not yours.
... "That would've been nice to know in the temple."
It didn't seem important at the time!
"Not important? I've only been running on the assumption I had to or terrible things would happen to the fricken fabric of reality, no big deal. By the way, those laws you're following aren't really laws, they're more like suggestions, thanks."
Sorry, the light whispered, sounding a hair chastised. Kassandros rolled his eyes. Anyway, apparently, he was saving his own ass. Admittedly, he wouldn't be doing most of the work, in this situation. He thought, anyway. "Around this corner and up the street a bit is Cassimer and several of his best. Only one of us comes back from it, and the one that does is not me. I need you to not follow me." Kassandros honestly didn't know how much time there was between one thing and his ostensibly-untimely demise (who knew if it was untimely, whatever), which meant the faster someone could get the house moving, the better.
And no, he had a feeling this would take a bit of argument, but hopefully, he'd understand the logical merit in it enough not to argue too hard.
Not allowed to tell him? Sandalio frowned rather deeply at that, but he didn't say anything to argue with the sentiment. That was probably for the best, since Kassandros ended up talking to what must have been the light for a few exchanges there. Sandi listened to the part of the conversation that he could hear. For a moment he almost wondered if he was hearing pieces of the Light but.... dismissed it, eventually. Probably he was just getting good at piecing together the idea just based on what Kassandros was saying in response.
It was something he'd gotten used to happening, to be fair. Sometimes the light had a lot to say to Kassandros, and usually that preceeded them ending up turned around and doing something else. Usually something important. Rescues or reuniting families or something.
Sandalio was not expecting what Kassandros said though, not really. Even though he probably should have been. Still, the realization that this was the confrontation they'd been waiting for, and that this was the time Kassi didn't think he would come back, that hit him hard. Two of them went, and only one came back.
Sandi looked... unhappy for certain at Kassandros' words. "I don't like that idea." Was what he said at first. And it was the truth, he didn't. He didn't like the idea of leaving the other alone, not if this was the time that he didn't believe that he was going to come home. "I really don't like this." But maybe the reason was that Kassandros had an idea? A plan?
"What do you need me to do?" Because of course if Kassandros was right then really all Sandalio could think was going after him and would that really be that much different than facing the group together? More unexpected, maybe but... hn. Sandalio didn't really do plans, so he hoped that the Dalmascan had an idea of what he wanted exactly.
He didn't like this, as he'd affirmed already rather vehemently, but he also knew that Kassandros wouldn't ask this of him unless it was important, and unless he was almost certain that it would make a difference in the outcome of the situation. So, whether he agreed or not, he was at least willing to listen to the plan, because if he could help, if he could do something to save the other, then it would be worth it.
Oh, he was sure he didn't. That was not at all either surprising, or news, for that matter, because yes, he knew that before he even said it. Well, if he fought with Marcus a bit... it wasn't like Kassandros expected to win or anything, but the distraction of dealing with him (he was quite the force if he bothered to be one), and the trouble catching him, might well buy extra time. He still didn't know how long he had before it was too late, but the alternative was, they got stuck watching each other die, more or less.
He was sure Marcus would go looking for him, too; where there was a Kassandros, Sandalio wasn't far, so ideally he'd take off before Kassandros turned the corner. "I know," he answered. "And I'm not asking you to like it. I need you out here. If he gets us both, we won't get help in time and maybe neither of us'll make it out alive. I need you to go get backup. The two of us alone can't handle all of Cassimer's estate defences, but maybe the house has enough blood fighters by now, they can. ... and maybe a healer is a good idea, too." Probably was, even. He had no idea what the hell Marcus was capable of, but apparently he was going to find out.
"I'm going to really mess up his day and fight him. It should buy more time, I don't know how long we've got before it's too late, but it should get you enough time to get home and figure something out." And then, perhaps, either they all fell to this monstrosity of a hume, or they were finally free of him. It was always going to end up this way; Marcus had little interest in the rest of the house, being quite singly focused on just him, but the thing was, if you spent too long focusing on the snake you could see, you missed the rest of them.
"Hey," he said, softly, reaching up and gently brushing his fingers against Sandalio's cheek. "It'll be okay. This is the best I could come up with that has the highest chance of minimising the damage Marcus does. I know you don't like this, but I don't know what he's capable of, and I'm sure you'd rather I came home later." Apparently, today, he kind of wanted to live.
Well that was good because there really wasn't anything Kassandros could say that would make him like it. On the other hand, he didn't have to like it, necessarily, to conceed to Kass as long as te idea he had seemed reasonably sound. If cuold play his part, he'd played many parts in Dalmasca and no one had ever asked if he liked them before Kassi, so what would it hurt, playing one more part he didn't like?
If it kept him from losing the best thing that ever happened to, well, a lot of them then that was... that was worth any temporary discomfort. And if he failed then at least he'd tried. ... Granted he would probably never forgive himself but that was, ah, that was beside the point, really. Not something he necessarily needed to verbalize just then anyway. Something for him to face at the end of this, regardless of what happened.
Kassandros wanted him to go back to the manor and get help. Okay that was.... something he could do. Several of the blood fighters and a healer was... that was doable. And that would help them face Cassimer more directly. They had a few mages, and several bloodfighters, and they were all quite loyal to Kass, it should be enough. He hoped. Heavens above he hoped.
Well, Kassandros fighting back would buy a little time. Maybe enough to prevent any real damage from being done, but Sandalio was certainly not going to bank on that much. Marcus was.... well. Sandalio wouldn't bank on him being anything resembling merciful.
He didn't see a better plan. So if this was the best Kassi had then this was what they had to work with and it was... it wasn't great but it was better than the apparent alternative that involved one or both of them not making it to the other side of the fight. Sandalio refused to let himself consider what would happen if he failed. Refused to consider the possibility of moving on without Kassandros.
There would be other times to face that reality that would eventually come for them.
For now, they had a fight against Cassimer, and he expected it would be difficult. They'd have to move swiftly and decisively before any of Cassimer's allies - presuming he had any left - could react.
Sandalio leaned slightly into the touch against his cheek, taking a slow breath and releasing it. "All of us would rather you come home." Was what he said, finally, quietly. "I'm not sure I share your confidence that it'll be okay... but I'll do it." That was perhaps one of the hardest things he'd ever agreed to, and yet it was really the only thing he could do here.
That was easier than he'd honestly been expecting. Then again, Sandalio really wasn't as stupid as he thought he was, he was just very impulsive, and couldn't do math. Not that this was the only form of intelligence. Well, maybe Kass could hammer that out of his head later. Right now, they both had things to do, even if it was unpleasant, but if it wasn't now, it'd come around again. Marcus seemingly wasn't interested in attacking the house directly, which meant, even he understood he was somewhat outmatched against the whole of Essair. They had a much better chance together than separated, it was just... Marcus seemed determined to separate them.
And honestly, Kassandros had no idea if it'd be okay or not. He had no idea what he was walking into, but neither did he want to drag this out and potentially make it even worse. He'd just have to trust Sandalio, but that was the easy part. He already did, and almost always had.
"I believe in you," he said, quiet. "Believe in the me that believes in you, I guess." If it helped, why not? "I love you." Heh, that was probably the first time he'd actually said that, on its own. And maybe that was kind of sad, that he'd said it partly because he wasn't sure how this was going to go, but it was also because maybe he could use the reminder. Kassandros never did say things like that often enough.
"You should go first, before I do. He'll be looking for you." And Kassandros would rather he was quite outside Marcus' range by the time Kassandros was done fucking up his day a little. It'd kind of put a little damper in the plans, if they both got caught, anyway.
Sandalio gave a slightly strained smile at that. It was... well. He'd try and remember that, that was the best he could say. Kassandros believed in him, he should trust Kassi. And he did, of course, he trusted Kassi so much he was going to go against his own instincts and do everything that he could to do what Kass wanted him to instead of doing what he wanted to. That didn't mean he trusted Marcus or that he had any real faith that this was going to be 'okay'. After all, this was what the seer had seen as his death.
Still, he nodded. Right, he needed to remember that and he needed to act even ifhe was uncertain. That was... this was perhaps the only chance they had at both coming out of this fight alive, slim though it might be. Slim was better than impossible.
"Don't.... don't say that like it's good bye." Sandalio responded immediately. And then, quieter, "I love you too." He did, and he felt the need to say it even if he didn't like the fact that this might be the last time they had a chance to say that. At least it was said. At least they both knew, even if the words were bittersweet.
Sandalio nodded slightly. "Okay." He took a very slight step back. Kassandros was right, of course. Marcus would be looking for him, he was the bodyguard, he was always there. Except this time, he wouldn't be. "To battle we go."
There was no sense in telling Kassandros to be careful, because he couldn't be. And he'd already told him he loved him so that was really the best thing he could think of to say. He'd just have to hold on to the belief that he was going to see Kassi on the other side of this fight.
Hopefully not in pieces.
Sandalio pushed that thought away and turned to move away before he lost his nerve completely.
... well, it might be. Kassandros didn't say that, as instead he gave a small, slightly sheepish smile in response. He didn't mean to make it sound like that, but that was sort of how he meant it. Maybe it'd be easier on them both, if they pretended it wasn't. As much as Kassandros trusted Sandalio, Marcus was an extremely volatile person, and left at his non-existent mercy long enough, well, even if he was breathing, he wasn't so sure he'd still stand as straight as he usually did.
Kassandros breathed in, counted to ten in his head, as Sandalio went his way, and then went his own. Around the corner, down the street. One block, two... he paused, leaned backward, and an arrow whistled past his nose. Almost, that one almost got him, and the sword that followed almost did, too. Ducking out of the way, he touched one hand to the brick, swinging his leg up and slamming the edge of his boot into the assailant's nose.
That was gonna hurt in the morning.
Well, he either lived long enough to see Marcus burn, or he died doing this. That in mind, once he'd righted again, one hand flicked at the air, and a burst of sunrays exploded from his hand. Most of them didn't hit anything vital, unfortunately; his aiming wasn't very good with those multi-ray bursts, but it was enough to set a couple of them back. A quick shift to the side, and another arrow shot past him, and buried itself in someone else's ribcage. Within about ten or fifteen seconds, he was outnumbered fifteen to one, but he'd pulled out light whips, and those were keeping them back.
At some point, someone got a chain around his wrist. The first one was easy enough to shake off, and then he had another to contend with. That was annoying. By the fifth or sixth, it'd become difficult to move, but he was still shooting light bolts. A good yank on the ninth, and he hit the brick. He had no idea how long that was, but, apparently, that was the end of the line.
"Well," Kass recognised that voice as Marcus, his boots making a notable tapping sound on the brick as he made his way over, and knelt down. "I figured you were a mage, too. Nice to see I was right. Where's your guard?"
"At home, where I left him," Kassandros ground out.
"Aren't you supposed to be a seer? Not a very good one, are you?"
"I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out what this is about, right? So how bout this, you drop House Essair out of the major lines, and you can come work for me, instead, and we'll pretend this whole thing never happened, mm?"
... for a second, Kassandros wasn't sure he heard that right. Seriously? At the moment, he had the upper-hand, what was he bargaining for? Well, maybe because murder was illegal. Very illegal.
After a few moments, though, Kassandros snorted, raised his chin, and glared. "Or you can go burn in Dameus' fire," he hissed.
"Hmph. Someday kid, that arrogance is going to get you killed." Marcus stood up, raised his leg, and slammed his boot into Kass' temple.
Sandalio tried not to think about what was going on somewhere back in the direction he'd left behind. Instead he concentrated on making his way back to the place that had become the second place Sandalio called home since he came to Dalmasca. ... He only hoped that his time were wouldn't end as bloodily as did the last one.
It didn't take very long for Sandalio to reach his target location. He paused a moment to tell Lycaon at the gate what had happened and then to send his fellow blood fighter to alert Icarus (and Merenwen) while he personally sought out Surya. It wouldn't take long to find him, and Sandi thought he was probably one of the better choices for helping decide who should come along and... well. The other was much more skilled at directing them than Sandalio himself was. that was enough for him, really.
Hopefully it wouldn't take too long to find the Saqqaran. Then again.... it didn't usually. Surya had a way of standing out. At least once he got there he could just tell him what was going on and Surya would help him round up what he needed.
"I need to talk to you." Stated almost as soon as he'd found the one he was looking for. There was no asking if it was a good time or figuring out if he was busy. This was important, and Snadalio was quite certain that he'd be forgiven as soon as it was evident how important it was.
It wasn't long before Lycaon had found and explained things to Icarus. Icarus was probably going to be one of the ones who stayed behind to ensure the house was protected. In the mean time, the large Macenian leaned into the infirmary, looking for Merenwen. .... Because taking the empath along to a battle seemed like a terrible decision, really.
"Can I have a minute?" Lycaon asked quietly, somewhat torn between not wanting to interrupt and recongizing that this was extremely important. He could apologize for interrupting later.