And the Cracks Begin to ShowStarted by Kassandros Essair at May 17, 2019 12:56 pm
Einmanudur 17, 76
Since the last time Livia had come by, she'd been sending small numbers of her blood fighters to House Essair, and he was training them. Part of the problem was, as much as many liked to pretend otherwise, the blood arena was a caricature of a real battle, and while the stakes could be quite high, they were rarely as chaotic as true battle. As such, certainly, a blood fighter could adapt to a battlefield fairly easily, there were some innate differences they'd do well to figure out early. That was what he was for, of course.
Surya didn't mind. Both Livia and Kassandros had asked, not demanded, and keeping the Asheron farms well-protected would serve both houses well. If, of course, they had access to farms, and Cassimer came to bear on them harder than it thus far had, the ability to outlast them would be immensely useful to them. Sieges were tricksy things. Walls were not as easy to get over or around, or break through, as romanticized tales often would have one believe.
Something was wrong, though. He caught the scent of Sandalio, very strongly, so he'd just come back; but Surya didn't scent Kassandros, not strongly enough for it to be him. So why was Sandalio here, and Kassandros not? Sandalio also smelled distressed. "That's enough," Surya murmured. "Stay here." As it was, he incidentally met Sandalio halfway. The underlying distress was stronger. It was coming from him.
"Where is Kassandros?" It sounded like a stupid question; Surya could guess, most anyone in House Essair could, and if Sandalio was talking to him and not Merenwen, well there were only a few reasons for that. He hoped he was wrong, truly he did. In his head, however, he'd already started arranging the House into defense force and assault force, and there was a purpose to that particular question. It'd answer whose life they were about to fuck up.
Unfortunately, and Merenwen had not seen fit to tell Xiaodan as much, Thetis was slipping. If the younger healer couldn't sense it, perhaps it'd be easier to let it come in its own time. Losing one was always hard, but there was only so much they could do. The rest depended on her; quite truthfully, Merenwen was surprised the Jihonese woman had managed to keep her alive as long as she had. Perhaps, she'd tried hard, too, but her body was the one that gave up. It was most likely. It didn't make it much easier, no, but you lived, you lost some, and you learned.
Merenwen still remembered the first one she'd lost. It'd been hard on her, too. Healers didn't heal because they hated people, most of the time, but it was a good thing, having a broken heart. It meant they had truly tried for something, and despite her minimal knowledge, Xiaodan had done the best she could in the circumstances she had to work with. Honestly, lesser beings would've given up perhaps long before now. She'd be a very good healer, someday. Perhaps she'd even still be here, in House Essair. Certainly, neither she nor her brother seemed in a hurry to return to Jihon, and Essair was a decent place. As all did, someday Merenwen wouldn't be here anymore, but the house would be in good hands if Xiaodan remained where Merenwen couldn't.
She was mixing tinctures, at the moment. Varying salves and creams that came in handy to have on-hand. Kassandros had just sent up a medical supply box, and there were several mixes they were running low on. She scented the now rather familiar Macenian before she heard him, but at his words, she looked up and smiled slightly. "Sure," she answered, and then, the odd scents became notable. There was a distinctly bitter tang in the air... "What's wrong?" she asked, frowning slightly. Bitter tangs were rarely good news.
Sandalio found himself mostly relieved that Surya could easily put two and two together. It meant that he could explain a whole lot less and thus they could get moving somewhat more quickly. "House Cassimer. Marcus set an ambush, Kass sent me to get reinforcements." Because this was when he thought he would die. Sandi wasn't sure Surya needed that information, probably it was enough to know that Kass didn't think the two of them would have been enough to handle this, really.
"I've got Lycaon telling Icarus and Merenwen." That much was in the cards already - healer on hand and at least one of his brothers at least aware of what was going on. Even if neither of them came, knowing was kind of important. If only because stealing a large number of blood fighters and then coming back with injuries was something that they should... not be surprised by. And Kassi may or may not return at all.
Sandalio pushed that thought away again, firmly. "Point and I'll get anything you want or start telling people you think should come." If nothing else, he trusted Surya's clearer head more than his own at the moment.
Ilim always were perceptive, Lycaon remembered perhaps a moment too late. It was fine though, really. "Unfortunately I come bearing bad news." In a quiet sort of tone. "Kassandros was attacked by Cassimer, there's a good chance they're on Marcus' land by now. Sandalio returned to obtain reinforcements and your talents would be particularly useful." There was no sense in mincing words or waffling on how much to tell her.
She was a healer, and she knew Kassandros better than most, from what Lycaon knew. She deserved to know what was going on, and she could help them save Kassi. Even if it turned out they needed to keep her mostly behind the fighters, it was better than not having a healer on hand, all things considered.
Cassimer. He should've guessed that, probably, as it was the most likely, outside perhaps one of Marcus' allies. But Teresi wouldn't, and Salonus couldn't, so the pickings there were slim. He didn't know if Damian or Lucius were by, and he remembered meeting their mother, once. She was a nice lady. It'd behoove them to launch a very precise, swift, and decisive strike. In the end, they were only after Marcus and Kassandros, the others were perhaps more or less innocent, and Surya didn't want to end up in battles they didn't need to be in, because for one thing, that was needless violence, and for another, that was time-wasting.
He knew enough about Marcus Cassimer to know the chances of Kassandros coming back from this alive could be very time-sensitive and slim.
Sandalio was likely coming. Surya would be stupid to think he wasn't. Which meant, he had one of the other stronger fighters on the assault force. If Icarus and Thana stayed, that'd be the start of a decent defense force. Surya didn't want to leave the house completely undefended. He wasn't sure if Marcus was liable to play that way, but he very well might, and chances, Surya took absolutely none of them.
"There are a couple wooden crates with the Asheron seal in them in storage," he said. "We'll be smart to use those." House Asheron had sent them light armor, a few days past. They would indeed be smart to use them. "You go get those, Leon, and Tihaan, we'll meet at the front gate." Leon and Tihaan were both speedy shits, and speed was going to be their saving grace. Surya, of course, was going for the weapon storage, and to warn the defending force so they could be ready if Marcus tried to go around them and hit the house. In the meantime, he also needed to find his aunt; the ranged support would be useful. He immediately went following his nose, to his aunt first, as her scent was easier to pinpoint, coming up beside her.
"This one would be grateful if you'd offer ranged support," he murmured. "Kassandros is in trouble. Leon should have an aura bow you can borrow." It might be a bit short, but, Surya was sure she could work with it. He'd need to see how the Cassimer estate was laid out, but he thought he could come up with a fairly strong starting point. Mostly, it was going to depend on how hard and how fast they could hit them. If they managed this quick enough, the estate's defenses may not be able to react in time.
Of course. It was, naturally, a matter of time, until this tit for tat game Marcus and Kassandros were playing finally came to a head. Something had to give, there. Apparently, Marcus had decided he was tired of playing games. That was very dangerous. She didn't know much about Marcus in particular, but the rumours spread about him were not very comforting. If they'd made it back to Marcus' land, then they were looking at a siege.
Fortunately, Merenwen could do a little more than just heal, and might be very useful for breaching the walls. "I'm sure," she answered. "I can also break walls." It was difficult to decide what to prepare for, given she had no idea what she'd be dealing with. Marcus also wasn't known for his mercy, and she wouldn't want to handle any serious injuries on the spot, either. If he had any, it was likely to be a very unsterile environment, and she didn't want them to go get him only to lose him to infection because she'd made a stupid, hasty decision.
"I'd imagine Surya's taking lead," she said. He did have one of the better minds for this sort of thing. "We'd probably best get down there before they make all the plans without us." Perhaps, if Surya didn't think of it already, she'd suggest bringing Leon along. His skill with a bow was very good, and he was also the only fire mage they had; they may have to deal with metal, and it was harder for her to break through metal, but melting it should be nothing to Leon. At that, though, she carefully set aside what she was working on, before, that she could continue later, and then headed down the stairs to the entryway.
Okay, wooden crates with the Asheron seal in storage. And find Leon and Tihaan and tell them what was going on so that they could... help. And then meet by the front gate, okay Sandalio could manage that. He nodded immediately. "Can do." And as Surya left on his own mission, Sandalio beelined for the kitchens because that was where Leon was most likely to be. Tihaan might be a bit harder but then maybe not.
Anyway, starting with the one he knew he could find and going from there. For Sandalio it seemed to make sense. Leon, Tihaan, storage.
At least it was easier to stay calm when he had a clear idea of what to do next. It meant he didn't have to think really. Just act, which he was good at. See here, folks, the reason Sandalio didn't usually do plans.
Inetkaes listened to what Surya had to say before nodding. "Of course I will." There was no question fo her participating, and honestly she wasn't fussed with the details of what was happening either. Surya said it needed to happen and Kassandros was in trouble. The blond Dalmascan seemed a decent sort of person, and it would be quite rude to reufse to offer aid when she could help.
An ilim's aura bow may be somewhat too small for her, but it wouldn't be that hard to extend it to something that felt more natural.
"That will likely be quite helpful." Breaking walls, that was. Ah, just as long as they could keep her safe because he wasn't sure Kassandros could handle them losing her to save him. Not saying that, Merenwen was probably quite aware of that reality at least. "And yes, that was Sandalio's intent." They'd both grown to respect him a great deal back in Lancaster, being reunited with him here had really only underscored that fact. He was a good man with a good head on his shoulders.
He didn't usually say many words, but he more than made up for it in action. Lycaon didn't really respond to the last thign she'd said. It didn't really need a response beyond following her down stairs to see if there was anything else that he could help with as far as preparations went. The faster they got through getting ready the more quickly they could retrieve their lost one before it was too late.
With any luck, it hadn't taken quite as long as it felt like, for the assault force to regroup at the front gate. Surya had informed, and armed, the defense group, and, when Victoria had told him to be careful, he'd tried not to respond with too much sarcasm. He intended to wreck shit, not be careful, but perhaps she didn't need to hear that.
In the meantime, he'd gotten hold of his spear, and handed the swords out, and now they were just finishing up armoring everyone. Chainmail was a little difficult to get onto an ilim, but he was doing alright. Leon scurried over, with an extra aura bow, and offered it to Inetkaes.
"This one's the longer one," he said. "... still a bit short, isn't it..." Aw man. He'd been sure it was long enough. Well, he was a tall ilim, but he was still an ilim. Long to him was apparently not quite long to a full-grown were.
"So," Tihaan started, flexing his hand as he got his aura gauntlets on. Kassandros had a set made for him until his original pair could be located, if ever they were. "What's the plan?"
"We hit them as hard as we can, as fast as we can," Surya answered, making one more adjustment on Merenwen's chainmail, and then standing up. "With any luck, we can hit them hard and fast enough, they don't have time to really put up a resistance before we've already broken it. Try not to get into battles you don't need to get into." It'd save time, time they may not have much of.
"Hang on," Leon said, his ears perking up. He ran off again, scrambling up the wall, to the top, closest to the sea. Just barely, in the distance, the island out there was visible.
He made an odd, chirp-whistling sound, once, twice. It echoed oddly as the sound interacted with the rushing water.
"... what are you doing?" Surya asked, arching an eyebrow.
"With any luck, you'll see in a minute," Leon answered, scrambling back down the wall to rejoin them. "The wait will be worth it."
If he said so...
Chainmail felt weird, and she'd argue that it was unnecessary, but, if she got seriously hurt doing this, for one thing, she wouldn't be much help when they did get to Kassandros (and she had to believe they would or she'd panic), and for another, Kassandros would not take that well at all. Nobody needed to say it, she knew it, but while she wasn't a gigantic tower of a blood fighter, neither was she a sitting duck. Unlike Leon, she didn't know how to use an aura bow, so she was pulling her own aura gauntlets on her hands.
Hit them fast and hard and pray they couldn't keep up enough to really resist. Honestly, that sounded like a decent enough plan, so she didn't say much there. "If I need to break the wall, I can do that," she said. "Faster than trying to bust the gate in, probably." And the less time this took, the better all around. Unfortunately, they were walking in blind, as no one had any idea what was what until they got there. They'd do okay, though. None of them were particularly stupid, and they were all good at thinking on their feet.
Ah, well, she wouldn't figure Surya would recognise that. Merenwen did recognise it; Leon was trying to call Samudra. She generally spent her time on that island over there, but occasionally came by to pester Kassandros. (Very occasionally, she hadn't been by in a few months.)
A few moments after Leon had gotten down from the wall, however, a small dot appeared between them and the island, approaching. A few moments later, it apparently had wings. It seemed Samudra had decided to answer. She'd come in handy for keeping the estate guard busy, that was for sure.
"He was calling Samudra," she said, gesturing at the vague dragon-like shape headed their way. "She can handle the initial defence force."
"It's fine." Inetkaes murmured as she held the bow in her hand for a moment, thoughtful. It was closer than she'd expected but it would probably still behoove her to go ahead and extend it. Which, Inetkaes went ahead and did so once she'd made sure the last bit of the armor she had agreed to wear was in place. She held the bow in her dominant hand and concentrated on channeling her aura through it until the bow itself expanded with the aura she pushed through it.
Yes, that was a good size. "See?" And now it wasn't too short, and she could use it easily without being concerned about drawing too hard on it or something like that. Regardless it was an aura bow so it being slightly too small was less problematic in general than it might have been otherwise.
Sandalio took in the plan Surya had made. It was.... quite simple, really. But honestly simple was probably in their favor at the moment. Less to explain to the offence group, less room for mistakes. Hard and fast, while engaging at little as they could. There was no sense in harming innocents, after all. And certainly there were some of those among Cassimer's house. Just.... Marcus. Marcus needed to go, and anything betwene them and Kassandros.
"Samudra?" Sandalio repeated the name, sounding confused, and then he followed the gesture with his gaze.
Was... no way. There was no way that was a dragon. Except it sure as hell looked like a dragon. Sandalio had so many questions about this situation and there really wasn't time to ask any of them. ".... Never mind." Just, never mind. Help handling the defense force, if they could get it, would be nice.
He'd ask about the details as far as how in the world a dragon got involved... later. Later when there weren't lives hanging in the balance.
"Other than filling in the dragon," Inetkaes spoke up finally, "Are there any other last minute details we need to cover before we go?" Just asking to make sure. She didn't think so, honestly, they'd covered most everything. But now would be the time to do it if not.
"Whoa, how'd you do that?" Leon had never seen anybody do that before. Then again, it was an aura bow, it stood to reason it did some fancy tricks sometimes, if you knew how. "You'll have to show me how to do that later, if you don't mind!" That'd be a handy trick. Kassandros had gotten him so many aura bows because he wasn't sure what size would work. The answer, pretty much none of them, but the one he had strapped to his back worked well enough.
"... why is that a drag-you know what, never mind," Surya decided, looking downright perplexed. "Not that come to mind." They had the defense force, the assault force, both were armed, assault force had armor, and apparently they had a dragon. That sounded good enough to him. "Soon as the... uh, dragon, is up to speed, we go."
"I'm so excited," Tihaan said. "I've hated Cassimer for a long time."
"Well at least one of us is in a good mood," Leon grumbled.
"Hey, better to be excited about it than freaking out."
... okay, maybe that was fair.