1 House Asheron: auribus teneo lupum

auribus teneo lupum

Started by Kassandros Essair at Apr 05, 2019 11:12 pm
Goi 11, 76
11 Posts

96 posts 17 years old Nonbinary 5' 9" Dalmasca Mage Warlord House Essair

Is this your salvation? Is this all you can give? I will not stand in reflection of someone else's dreams.

The days were slow.

But, so far, Sandalio and Alasdair had been rather good at catching what threats Leon did not. Dimitrios was doing better, if nothing else he was alive, and that was rather a good thing, given he'd been so close to dying in the first place. Kassandros didn't really want to think about it. By the time the brothel's staff had figured out what was wrong, it'd have been far too late.

He was still digging for the slavers that thought it was a great idea to castrate the boy, and then not even allow him healing time. Brothels were inherently messy, dirty places, it was really no wonder the wound had festered and become infected. Dimitrios was really quite lucky he was alive. Kassandros had decided, in the end, to borrow Andreas and Cyprian from Lucius, at least for right now, that they could help Dimitrios along the healing process, as Kass had been quite serious about that not being allowed to walk thing.

And then, of course, Victoria. She still hardly remembered her own name, truth be told. She kept asking where Atenra was, remembered enough to be concerned about him, but didn't remember why, or who he was. It was a process, her healing, and she may never quite remember everything. Still, she had Sepheres, now. Perhaps she could help Kassandros teach him to be a person, instead of just a plaything. In the interim, he could read and write in Dalmascan, and Kassandros found it useful for his paperwork pile. Between keeping track of the house's affairs, he had those of the syndicate to manage, too. Kassandros was always swamped in paperwork.

And someday, Sepheres would go home, really home, to Saqqara, the glittering golden Western Free City, where he'd be loved and, with any luck, someday, find happiness. Victoria would likely go with her son, merely because he was her son. The Kenleighs would go back to House Cassimer. And Sandalio and Leon, someday, Kassandros intended to free them. And like always, Kassandros would be alone again, like always he was, eventually. It wasn't like it wasn't his own fault. He didn't really have room to complain. But it was easier, this way, never to get attached, never to let them get attached, so that when the time came, there'd be nothing clinging to him when he died. Kassandros wanted to die alone. He didn't want to live that way, necessarily, because he'd long ago learned he needed people, but he didn't want to die with people still wishing he'd live.

It was just a short trip, down the road to House Asheron, and he'd come by himself this time, like usually he did. Livia had likely just discovered Alcides was back in her estate, not that she minded it. He wondered if she'd told him. Probably not. That might be something to bug her about, if nothing else. It was obvious, even to him, that the two harboured feelings for one another, and neither had ever admitted it to the other. Kassandros thought this was sad, in its way. He skirted around the gate, which was, surprisingly, almost always open, let himself in the entryway. He was around so often, he was recognisable to most in House Asheron, and he wasn't worried about running into any trouble.

He made his way through the halls, one hand's fingers absently running along the stone walls. He was safe here, merely by virtue of Livia's stable of blood fighters being quite skilled at keeping threats out of House Asheron's lands, and he was, perhaps, notably more relaxed here. He was getting to be nearly the same, in his own house, finally. There was always someone out to kill him, and he knew where the majority of these assassins were coming from - he couldn't prove it, though, and really, he wasn't interested in going head to head with Marcus Cassimer, either. That was, he thought, a battle he'd lose, at the moment, and probably quite spectacularly.

Ah, here was the study. He almost passed it, but redirected, meandered in. She didn't have company, so he settled into a seat. "Been a few days," he said, as he did so. "Anything interesting going on?" It was worth asking.
14 posts 20 years old Female 5' 3" Macenia Were Merchant House Asheron

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

"Define 'interesting'," Livia answered, absently, presently shuffling through varying lists and reports from House Asheron's many farms. She liked to keep track of their general state of affairs, if only because, if something went wrong, Livia wanted to know about it, that she could fix it before it became more of a problem. But Livia was like that; she preferred catching problems, nipping them early, to leaving them too long and having them turn into massive complications later down the road. It was, of course, a good deal of what made her so good at keeping House Asheron running smoothly. Incidentally, Kassandros was much the same as her, in this way, and she didn't bother with formalities or anything. Kassandros would not take it personally, as some might've.

"And should you really be here, anyway? You know Marcus is out to kill you, right?" Among other things. Marcus had rather the intense vendetta against the Essairs in general, Kassandros in particular, because it was thanks to Kassandros that Marcus' military grip was slipping. It was his own damned fault, as far as Livia was concerned, Marcus was rather the barbaric idiot, and House Asheron would, should it come to that, back the Essairs.

Given her mother was a Cassimer, that would be rather the bold move, and speak mounds -- even Marcus' cousins didn't support him, when push came to shove, but he fought a little too dirty for Livia to favour him. Dirty enough for it to be rather horrifying, as he didn't care whom he caught in the crossfire of his climb to power. Kassandros could get similarly dirty, when he so chose to, but he only really did so when he was threatened and backed into a corner, when there was no real legal means of getting what he wanted, or protecting what was his. And never did he harm someone that didn't have it coming, often warning innocent house branches before going right for the throat.

One thing about Kassandros that Marcus had yet to learn, he was more a snake than she. Oh, yes, he was but a harmless little boy in the eyes of most, too pretty for the starkly grotesque backdrop of war, too pure for the marr of death and destruction, right up until you pushed him hard enough. Kassandros gave warnings, warnings few took seriously, and by the time they did, it was far too late. Ah, and yet he wasn't indestructible, either, and Marcus was very skilled at playing games. Kassandros was, too, being fair about it, invented some of those games, but the more Livia watched the young Essair, the more convinced she was that he was falling apart and he didn't care.

But what place did she have, to point that out? What right did she have to pull out his weaknesses, and shove them under his nose? Perhaps none. Perhaps more than she thought. Hell, he was more concerning than Alcides was. Far more. Fuck the gods, just what did Kassandros think he was doing?
96 posts 17 years old Nonbinary 5' 9" Dalmasca Mage Warlord House Essair

Is this your salvation? Is this all you can give? I will not stand in reflection of someone else's dreams.

Given he knew more or less everything, he supposed that was a term that ought to be defined. Kassandros wasn't sure that the answer of 'whatever I've not heard about yet' was really sufficient. It wasn't as if Livia was capable of reading minds, and figuring out what he knew already. Ah, perhaps he'd word it more vaguely, let her decide what she wanted to mention. Either he knew already, or he didn't, and the light never saw into people's hearts. Hearing what she thought about the present goings-on of House Asheron was rather useful, if only because, he believed anyway, they were friends. Of a form, at least. Kassandros rarely ever opened up to anyone, and Livia was no exception, but sometimes, she needed someone to talk to, that wasn't Alcides, because it was about him, or so.

"Really?" Kassandros drawled, sliding down in the chair a bit. "I hadn't noticed. He's not doing a very good job, you know." Oh, that'd change, sooner or later. But, Marcus was a man of inflated ego, and power that only really lie in words. Some could argue it'd get messy; Kassandros didn't think so. Nothing he could do would scare Kassandros into backing down from the warlord caste. It was his only way into the justicar caste, and from there into imperator, and one damned fucking way or another, he was getting up there, even if he had to gut every damned justicar in Dalmasca to do it. He certainly wasn't above that. Time was running out, of course.

Kassandros shook his head. "Not that it matters, I asked if anything interesting was going on, and that doesn't qualify. Surprise me. How about what's new?" That was, hopefully, open-ended enough, she'd just go with it. It was something to focus on besides everything going on in his life. Too much at once, truthfully, and honestly, most days anymore, he just wanted to hide in his room and not come out. He had too many things to do, to give himself that kind of leeway. Time was still running out, and he had a long way to go before he was anywhere near his goals.

Maybe he'd pick off a few justicars, anyway, just to try and expedite this entire process. One typically did not go from warlord to imperator in a scant three years; Kaleon had not managed it in three, it'd been something over a decade, and the one before him had taken eighteen. To say the least, Kassandros was most probably overreaching, just a bit. But the goal meant something. Getting there meant something to him, and he'd be damned if he just let it go because it was hard. A lot of things were hard, but you never got anywhere if you sat down and said it was too hard.

That sounded like something his father would say. Kassandros pushed that out of his thoughts. He didn't have time to think about that idiot. His father had spent all of Kassandros' life never really knowing what he was truly capable of, and underestimating him at every turn, speaking to him as if he were a stupid child that didn't understand anything. Oh, but he did. Kassandros understood far more than his father ever thought, and it was just as well he'd never learned the true extent of Kassandros' capabilities, and his mother had been too afraid of him to think too hard on their varied potential applications.

But Kassandros had. Dalmasca was full of small men, leading even smaller men. None of them were fit to lead Dalmasca. But he was. Kassandros was. And, for perhaps ten days, gods willing, he would.
14 posts 20 years old Female 5' 3" Macenia Were Merchant House Asheron

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

That was, indeed, probably a rather stupid thing to say. Of course Kassandros had noticed. The real question was, what'd he intend to do about it? Or was he doing what always he had done, and ignoring it? Livia did not favour her second-cousin, far from it, Marcus was a righteous sack of shit, but it didn't change the fact that he was, indeed, very powerful, and powerful men did not give up easily. There were rumours, even, rumours that had spread like wildfire once, about how Marcus would do near anything in his power to scare his opposition into backing down. Word was, he'd even done it to his own vassals, should they become too big for their britches.

Livia pinned him with a stare, her expression, perhaps, more confused, and a bit concerned, that he could be so nonchalant about having Marcus Cassimer on his ass, of all people. "Alcides came back, a few days ago," she said, still staring at him. "It was weird without him around, anyway, but you're avoiding the subject. Do you at least have a plan for Marcus, or are you just winging it?" If he chose, Marcus could be rather the hindrance, and Livia knew it. Hell, Kassandros himself wasn't terribly imposing, even, and Marcus certainly wasn't afraid of him. She feared, someday, he might just personally attempt to kill him, if not worse. Marcus and his varied friends didn't have the power to ruin Essair with hearsay and he-said she-said, if only because the rest of Dalmasca knew Essair were threatening Cassimer's place as the most powerful warlord-class house in Nydema, and few heeded anything Cassimer and their allies spoke against Essair.

But there were worse things than that. Kassandros was set to return to the military, soon, if Livia recalled. And when he left, nothing would be protecting his house, and he didn't yet have the influence among the rank and file to defend himself without it looking horrible while he was gone. Perhaps it was silly to worry so much, but Livia couldn't help but worry about him. If she didn't already establish things felt awkward and wrong without Alcides around, fucking hell if she wouldn't insist Alcides go with him. She trusted him with her own life, trusting him with Kassandros' was a given.

"If nothing else, maybe you should think about a guard." Certainly, he didn't really need one. Kassandros was quite capable of taking care of himself, she knew this, about as well as she could handle herself, and he was a very powerful mage to boot. But there were always instances and situations wherein one's own power wasn't enough, and she dreaded the day he got himself into one of those, and yet only had himself to fall back on.
96 posts 17 years old Nonbinary 5' 9" Dalmasca Mage Warlord House Essair

Is this your salvation? Is this all you can give? I will not stand in reflection of someone else's dreams.

Kassandros slid even further down into his seat, resisting the urge to roll his eyes, albeit his expression probably looked a hair irritated, for a split second, before it was gone again. He didn't want to talk about bloody Marcus Cassimer. Quite frankly, neither did he want to think about it. Kassandros had a plan, technically, but he knew, already, Livia would not approve of it. He wasn't asking for her approval, anyway, but Livia was like that, consistently getting in his business, because she seemed to think he needed the meddling. Either she was right, or she was wrong, but either way, it was grating.

Being honest, Kassandros didn't see why it mattered. Still. He wasn't sure he ever would, as Marcus was the farthest from his mind. There were other things to deal with, other situations to handle, situations that were, to be fair, more pressing, more important than Cassimer getting his undergarments in a bunch over a little boy. Well, Kassandros being a mere little boy was debatable; semantically speaking, he was only barely above legal age of adulthood, and had already gone on military tour twice, and yes, his mere existence did threaten Cassimer's status as warlords. As did House Lancaster, but fortunately for Marcus, Regillus had more pressing matters to attend to than raising his House's standing among the warlord class. Kassandros did, and did not.

"I do, but, you won't like it," he answered, toned off-hand and nonchalant. It really didn't matter, and he didn't see why Livia was so focused on it. Maybe he was avoiding the subject, but there was no point in focusing on things he couldn't really change. Marcus would do what Marcus would do; Kassandros only had control over himself. "And I might have one of those. Maybe." Technically, he did, but it wasn't as if Kassandros was going to bother them just to wander to House Asheron. Besides, the ilim might need their help with something. Or the twins and Cyprian would. Or something. The worst that happened was, he came home with an arrow in his shoulder, no big deal.

Certainly, it'd not be the first time he did that. It was somewhat normal, not entirely, but normal enough that Kassandros was never surprised when it happened. Not that he was really surprised at any other time, anyway. An arrow wasn't much of a hindrance, in the long run, and it wouldn't be the end of the world. It may, on the other hand, put a damper in going back out with the military. When was he set to do that, again? Early April, wasn't it? He had some time. It should have stopped being sore, by then, and he could probably use his arm normally again. Anyway, it wasn't like that was really something to ponder too hard, but it was something to think about besides Cassimer.

Lucius and Damian were alright, but Marcus needed to just go drink a knife. "Nice to know Alcides is back where he's supposed to be, though. I told you it'd be weird." He had, to be fair. And now Livia knew he was right.
14 posts 20 years old Female 5' 3" Macenia Were Merchant House Asheron

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

He was still avoiding the point.

Livia released a sigh, shifting in her seat, setting the pen down and resting her arm on the desk she was sitting at, fixing him with yet another hard stare. Kassandros rarely ever gave more than a fraction of a fuck about himself, and if he gave that much, well, that was something to write sagas about. It was always concerning, to her, how little he seemed to care about his own well-being, especially given there were quite a few in his house that depended on him, most of whom cared about him, to make matters even more complex. Livia had been that way, once. Perhaps, given time, he'd have grown out of it on his own, as she did (he was still only seventeen, after all, and he'd grown in some ways, and not in others, as most that were forced to mature too soon often did).

And yet, the truth of it was, Kassandros did not have the time to grow out of it on his own. The fact of the matter was, he was flirting with death, practically. Marcus Cassimer was not a man to trifle with. If you were going to go head to head with him, you'd damn well better be ready for what that meant, because Marcus most certainly did, and would not fuck around. The fact he'd spent so many hessions and so much time and effort on assassins was, to tell the truth, a miracle, but Livia was convinced he was, most likely, underestimating Kassandros.

This worked in the young man's favour, at the moment, but sooner or later, Marcus would get serious, and when that time came, merely ignoring him would not be enough. She was sure Kassandros understood that, but, perhaps it had not quite sunk in, what that meant. Maybe he thought he could shoulder and brute force his way through whatever it was Marcus threw at him, but it wasn't merely him that was threatened by House Cassimer rising against House Essair. House Asheron could do only so much; short of moving part of her soldiers to protecting House Essair, and she couldn't feasibly spread her forces so thin without threatening her own economy, as Marcus would likely target her soon, there wasn't much else she could do. He had to figure out how to stand on his own, or he wouldn't last two seconds in the Imperator seat.

"If you have a guard, why is said guard not here?" she asked, arching an eyebrow. "I know you don't want to think about this, as far as you're concerned, this is a you problem, right? Marcus only takes offence to you, no big deal. But this is bigger than just you and Marcus, Kassandros. House Essair is weak. I know you don't want to think about that, I know you're enough to keep the House going, but all they have is you. What if something did happen to you? I'm not saying it will, but you should think about what if it did. Because without you, the House grinds to a halt. Without you, the Cobras stop. Without you, your grip on the warlord ladder fades. You cannot be the driving force behind everything, and expect it to remain steady if you are suddenly gone. There are slaves in your house that depend on you, too, families you have reunited, friends you have brought together. What happens to them? In the greatest, worst case scenario, let's say someone put you in a coma. What then? The Cobras stop, the trade stops, the House's income fails, money is not eternal. Without the income, the House starts to crumble. After paying taxes for several months, paying healers, maybe, supplies, your house needs food, the next thing you know your slaves are having to sell the furniture to keep going. And when they've run out of furniture, what then? Either they starve together, or they sell themselves back to market, and you are an island of serenity in an ocean of chaos. Some have never even seen that ocean of chaos. Islands that sink do not remain islands very long."

Livia shook her head. "You cannot be a wall, protecting an unarmed village, and expect that village to remain standing should you fall. Marcus does not play games. He's underestimating you. Take this opportunity to build more walls, to give your villagers weapons, to teach them to defend themselves, let them help you, because you cannot do this alone. No one can. Not you, not me, not even the great Spartacus could do this alone."
96 posts 17 years old Nonbinary 5' 9" Dalmasca Mage Warlord House Essair

Is this your salvation? Is this all you can give? I will not stand in reflection of someone else's dreams.

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.
14 posts 20 years old Female 5' 3" Macenia Were Merchant House Asheron

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."
96 posts 17 years old Nonbinary 5' 9" Dalmasca Mage Warlord House Essair

Is this your salvation? Is this all you can give? I will not stand in reflection of someone else's dreams.

Blood fighters probably would be easiest. That was what he'd been thinking, but, he didn't have the means to train them. Albeit, neither did he have the means to train soldiers, either. He supposed, if he got lucky, he might be able to get himself a decently experienced fighter that could manage the training of the rest. That was, if he recalled, how most blood stables worked; Livia's was strange, in that she oversaw the training of her fighters personally, but most trainers simply had an experienced fighter or two training the rest of them.  He wasn't sure if he could manage to find one that was experienced enough... albeit, Sandalio and Alasdair were not newbies, in the least, and frankly neither was Tristán, he just had to remember how to deal with humes instead of lions. Both Sandalio and Alasdair had trained with the likes of Spartacus and Gannicus, even, just because that was how blood stables worked. Maybe it'd be enough of a decent start.

Oh. Right, Livia had Gannicus. Kassandros had sent her to market the day before he hit it, knowing she'd be unable to walk away from Gannicus of all fighters, knowing that, when it came to it, Regillus would send his half-brother to Livia for safety, knowing that Gannicus was said half-brother's father. They'd never met, before. He wondered if they had come across one another yet. If he was doing the maths in his head, they should both be here, and Gannicus was a were; he'd smell his son here. Well, one of them was here. Kassandros had the other. Perhaps, despite his thinking he may not need Gannicus in the end, he'd accept that anyway, just to reunite Gannicus and Victoria, and then give him a chance to know Sepheres, and Sepheres to know what a father should be like.

Anyway, he was preparing for war, not... reuniting people. Ah, but Kassandros was always doing the latter, he shouldn't be surprised that distracted him. Start small. Well, he should have the room on the estate's land to start at least a small farm, but if he knocked out the back wall, he could push the estate's walls around a small plot behind it. That'd be enough of a start, he thought. He had to rebuild the walls, anyway, they were strong enough, but if something really wanted to hammer them, they could. Enough ilim could knock the bitch right down, and Kassandros knew it. It wouldn't even really be difficult. Could he weave aura barriers into it? That would help them remain standing against almost anything, and if he wove the magic right, he could expand them to the house itself... albeit the house itself already had aura barriers. Maybe he should connect the two, so if the wall started being hammered, and the wall's aura barriers triggered, the house's barriers would go up, too.

Farmland outside of Dalmasca... that'd even be a decent show of goodwill. By handing other nations and cities his economical foundation, they'd have power over him if he didn't hold up his end of the bargain. The Galacese would never use it wrongly, and neither would Haradi or Saqqara... he didn't trust Jihon, and some tribes in Macenia were questionable. Albeit, the Macenians would require a delicate hand he did not have. Making friends with the Galacese first would be a better idea, before he even thought about Macenia. He needed diplomats eventually... one thing at a time. At mention of his upcoming military tour, Kassandros looked up at Livia, confused, for a moment.

He might, maybe. Marcus only pushed so hard because Kassandros was progressing too quickly (and he may well be progressing faster than he could keep up with). Marcus was afraid of him, but that didn't say much. There were plenty of people Marcus was afraid of, because all of them were better people than he was, and he knew it. It was the constant internalised feeling of not being good enough... the funny thing was, Kassandros knew that feeling too well. But Marcus had gone one direction with it; Kassandros was going another. Maybe even on some level, Marcus understood and recognised that, Kassandros was becoming what Marcus should have been. He knew what Marcus' problem with him was. He'd never entirely stop, not until one or the other of them was dead, and Kassandros knew that.

But he'd thought, already, that he couldn't take Marcus head on, not now. It would be in his best interest if he made Marcus think he'd won, and hopefully, back off, too. He wasn't sure how long it'd work, because Marcus had eyes and ears everywhere, and it'd be pretty obvious he wasn't just sitting on his laurels. Sooner or later, it'd become clearly apparent that Kassandros had not just given up, he'd just redirected his focus, and if anything, that'd ignite Marcus' fury hotter than if he just kept at the Warlord ladder. It was, in effect, sort of a decoy, a blatant, obvious thing, to keep Marcus from digging too deeply. If he was blinded by what was in front of him, than he missed what was going on behind. But that would not work forever, either. ... damned if he did, damned if he didn't.

Of course, there was also Lucius to consider, but the momentary break in the stormclouds might be worth it enough to justify leaving that chance. Kassandros couldn't be everywhere at once, despite his apparent determination to, he realised that. And Lucius could take care of himself. He wasn't as stupid as Marcus thought he was.

"Fine," he answered. "I'll have to go over the ledgers, make sure I have the finances, redirect some things. Climbing the warlord ladder was a distraction, something obvious to keep Marcus' attention, but that wouldn't work forever, anyway. Suppose at this point it's one or the other, because I'm having notable trouble balancing both." If he was out on military tour, he wasn't at home building his fortress, so to speak. "I think the fighters I have now might be able to deal with training, but, I have other reasons for being interested in borrowing Gannicus, so I think I'll take you up on that offer."
14 posts 20 years old Female 5' 3" Macenia Were Merchant House Asheron

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

... sometimes, most times, dealing with Kassandros, being honest, she really wished he'd share what was going on in his head. She could see the gears turning, of course, knew there was something running through his mind, about now. It'd be useful, if he could share some of that, if she had an idea of where his mind was going, and granted, sometimes he did. Sometimes, he did tell her, but it was always short, stunted, and wanting of a few things. There were things he did not tell her, and she knew it. Livia was fairly sure, she could probably manage to keep supporting him, even if she wasn't privy to all his plans (and really, it was better for him, if she wasn't), but it still... the part of her that didn't trust anyone, wondered if he really trusted her.

She wouldn't really blame him, if he didn't.

"Of course," she answered. Likely, he did need to have a better, more solid grasp on his finances to understand what he was capable of, right now. "That was a sound plan, but, no, it won't work for long. With any luck, you'll back out of this tour, and Marcus will get distracted with something else. Maybe he'll do us a favour, and drink himself to death in celebration." She knew her cousin was afraid of him, and for good reason. Kassandros, well, his name may not strike fear into the hearts of men, but it may not be long before it did. Livia almost couldn't wait until it did. But, being as he was afraid of Kassandros, afraid of him gaining too much traction, afraid of him surpassing him, afraid of him reminding Marcus of everything he could've been and isn't, maybe he'd celebrate indeed. And he'd be so busy being the disgustingly perverse sadist he was, he'd forget all about covering his bases.

"I'm curious what those other reasons are, if you wouldn't mind sharing?" she asked. "Gannicus and Atenra found each other yesterday. I wouldn't really want to separate them, already, but I'm not sure if Gannicus told Atenra the truth or not." She hadn't asked, being honest. It really wasn't any of her business, but she couldn't deny the curiosity. With Umbrius gone and Regillus away from him, it'd be good for Atenra to have some kind of role-model. Victoria, after all, was gone now, too, from what she heard. Jumped off the cliff in the back of Lancaster, and Livia mourned it, privately. Victoria had been a strong woman, and it was sad that she'd given up. She didn't know what'd happened. She didn't want to, either.

If nothing else, Gannicus was familiar, even if Atenra didn't know him very well. "I may send Atenra along, anyway," Livia said, mulling it over. "Gannicus is familiar to him. He could use something familiar in his life. Asheron most certainly isn't it. Essair wouldn't be, either, but at least he'd have a familiar name around. It's not much, but it's the best I've got."

She paused a moment, eyeing Kassandros in thought. "... you may want to get some of that pain off your chest, too." She wasn't an empath, but Livia didn't need to be, to see it in him. In the uncertain way he held himself sometimes, in the expressions that crossed his features when he thought no one was looking, in the sadness and hurt in his eyes that hid just behind the steeled determination that made her like him in the first place. Kassandros had a backbone, and, being frank about it, he was one of the strongest people Livia knew. But he couldn't hold it all in forever. There was always something eating at him, and she was afraid that, someday, it'd eat right through him. And knowing how the universe worked, it'd be at the most inopportune moment.