Dust and WordsStarted by Nero Essair at Jun 16, 2019 9:41 pm
Einmanudur 12, 76
If he had to guess, his brothers were liable to have fairly mixed feelings about his being back. Nero had fairly mixed feelings about it, too, and he did see her while he was there. His - their, mother, and sat with her for a few minutes. Mostly, he was wildly aware the likelihood of her surviving, and ever waking up, were extremely slim. It was excruciatingly unlikely that he'd ever talk to his mother again, and it wasn't fair, because he still needed her. The twins still needed her, hell, Cyprian still needed her. Even if she didn't know it, she was the lifeblood of House Kenleigh. When she was gone, so was the house, as far as he was concerned.
His mother was a queen, it was just the rest of the world hadn't gotten that memo.
He knew, though, he couldn't stay here forever. And his brothers were awake and capable of talking, and Nero did want to go see them, even if only just to set eyes on them and know they were okay. He trusted House Essair, way more than he did any other house, and he didn't think they wouldn't be okay. Given the impressive amount of care they were giving their mother already, he didn't imagine they hadn't been just as kindly to the twins and Cyprian.
Nero didn't hate Cyprian. He never really had. Mostly, he was frustrated with him, because Nero didn't know how to help him, but he didn't know how to help anyone, really. That was part of why he was the sort of person that ended up friends with Icarus in the first place. That, he at least knew what to do with. Otherwise, he just felt like a giant failure, because he could destroy another nation all day long, but gods forbid he know how to help his family. And somewhere in there it became easier to keep destroying another nation, until he became powerful enough to rip the house right out from under his "father," but that didn't happen fast enough, and gods damn it he wouldn't blame them, if his brothers were mad at him, because he was mad at him. Because all this time later, and they still had nowhere else to go but here, and now they didn't even have a house anymore.
And now their mother was dying because he didn't know what the fuck he was doing, and eventually, he'd gotten really bad at pretending he did.
Anyway. Icarus said... ah, there. After a few momentary mental side-tracks in the hallways, he did eventually figure out which doorway was the library. Actually, it was much bigger than theirs. Dimitrios had always loved to read, and Andreas was a really curious sort, the library seemed like probably one of the better places for them to hang around. They... weren't terribly likely to be happy, not really, but he hoped they'd found some semblance of peace, here.
Whoa. As he meandered in, he was greeted with shelves upon shelves of books, all neatly placed and freshly dusted. The light rays filtering in the windows occasionally shimmered and sparkled as dust particles caught the light. He noted the twins going through one of the shelves, arranging the books between several stacks. They did seem a bit more at ease, here, than they'd been at home. That was nice to see, honestly. He was somewhat loathe to interrupt, and so he didn't.
They had made quite a bit of progress on the library, Andreas noticed. Usually he noticed that every so often, when they were taking a break or when they just got started for the day. It had come a long way from when they started this. But there was... ah, still quite a bit to go Andreas supposed. With the two of them working on it it was definitely faster than if it was just one, but they were still just two people and this was a pretty decently sized library.
And of course, sometimes they got distracted with a book or two and didn't get back to cleaning. And then they did things like go spend time with Cyprian, too. But it wasn't like anyone was expecting them to do this, so it wasn't like there was any rush in getting it completely finished. Which was good, because breaks were good and stuff, they knew that.
Andreas flipped open the cover of the book in his hands, flipping through a few pages before finishing dusting it off. The teen set it on one of the stacks after a moment or two. He was not going to let himself get distracted with that one, he just wanted to make sure it went in the right place.
Except it didn't matter that it wasn't the book that distracted him because the universe decided that he was, indeed, going to be distracted. Andreas made a started sound and froze, staring towards the entrance of the library, clearly not quite sure how to process what he was seeing. Because that was Nero but they'd said Nero was dead. The house had fallen because Nero was dead, so what the fuck did the universe mean, he was standing right there?
But that did... really look like Nero and Andreas didn't... think he'd forgotten what his brother looked like so much as to be mistaken.
"...Nero?" Confused and unsure sounding, despite the fact that he was pretty sure he wasn't wrong. What was Nero doing here? What had happened that the world thought he was dead, when clearly he was here and at least mostly in one piece?
Did... did he already know? Had he tried to go home? Oh gosh if he'd tried to go home... Andreas let what he said hang though, just waiting to see how their older brother was going to respond.
This one went into this pile, this one over here... still, no one had thought to give either himself, or Andreas, specific duties around the house. And that was fine, because they were both fine enough, taking care of the library, because honestly, it needed some care. Dimitrios loved books, anyway, and Andreas didn't seem to mind helping him out with it. Of course, they did do other things, like taking breaks seeing Cyprian, now that Cyprian was more open to the idea of that, and Dimitrios got caught up reading things. Sometimes, he'd unearth a book that sounded really interesting, sat down to rifle through it, and found that he absorbed it through touch, practically.
Hmm? Andreas had just made a strange noise. Dimitrios, currently on a step ladder getting to the top shelf on one of these, turned to see what'd surprised him. ... was that...? No way. There was no way, they said he'd died, and Dimitrios wasn't sure what that meant, for them, if he wasn't. The house had fallen over that.
But, that certainly looked like Nero. Dimitrios had no reason to think it wasn't. And then, of course, Andreas was apparently thinking the same thing, which made the likelihood they were wrong somewhat slimmer. He didn't know how he felt about it. On the one hand, it was nice to see him, because Dimitrios did like Nero. On the other, he was supposed to be dead, and a lot of terrible things had happened because of it, and he wasn't.
What'd that mean? Was House Kenleigh not actually fallen? At least Aemilius was probably gone. Dimitrios really didn't miss him very much.
Yeah, he imagined this one might be a bit of a kick in the teeth. Nero just smiled, somewhat sadly, shuffling a little further in, so they could talk a bit easier. Yelling at each other across a library maybe wasn't the best idea. Well, what now. As much as they weren't sheltered, they also really were, and Nero wasn't sure what to say, and what to leave out. Somewhere in here, he was sure, one or the other would ask what happened. But then, maybe not much needed to be said. Maybe he could get away with not saying very much about it at all, because the details weren't important. He almost was dead. That's all that was important.
"Yes," he answered. "I ah... I went home. ... not much of a home left, is there." No, not really. He might eventually go back, and see if he could salvage anything they wanted to keep, because there might be some little, fireproof or resistant things still in the rubble that one or several of them may want to hold onto. "I also saw mom, while I was in the infirmary. I might limp a little, but, apparently I'm okay." Then agian, he'd made it this long without any medical attention at all, he'd be surprised if he wasn't going to be okay.
Then again, some issues cropped up later, not immediately, so he supposed that was fair enough. It was, and was not, nice to know. He had reasons to keep moving, though, he always had. Things just maybe weren't ideal right now, and that was normal. Maybe he wouldn't be going out on military tour again anytime soon, though. He should probably be home, instead, with his brothers, and besides, the military thought he was dead so whatever, fine.
Shocked and confused, that was the only real way Andreas could have described his own emotions. Because that was Nero and Nero was supposed to be dead. And yet here he was, decidedly not nead, and Andreas wasn't sure what that meant for them, or for the house. And it was kind of sad, really, because so much had happened because of his alleged death and if he wasn't really dead then there hadn't been any reason for what they'd been through.
Dimitrios clearly was seeing it as well though so he probably wasn't mistaken. Andreas wasn't sure if that was better or worse, if he was being perfectly honest with himself. But uh. That was... well. That was something to examine.
"No. There isn't." Andreas looked away slightly, remembering that day all too well honestly. And a slight little nod there. So he'd already seen mom, he already knew the state that she was in. That was... that was good. Andreas wasn't really looking forward to the idea of being the one to tell him that. Thankfully, neither of them would have to - he already knew.
The Essairs were like that though, the first one to see him would probably have filled him in enough that the Twins didn't have to. "I'm glad you're going to heal okay." It didn't answer what had happened exactly, but maybe he'd worry about asking that... later. It didn't have to be right that second. They didn't need to know right that moment anyway.
Except... he wasn't really sure what to say if he didn't go that route because what the fuck?
"I'm really glad to see you, don't get me wrong, but... How? Where have you been? What happened? They... they said you were dead." And they'd been hurt by that fact, sure. They'd missed him, but they'd had no choice but to have already done that mourning, and yet here Nero was. Apparently completely fine.
Yeah, he was, too, when he could be bothered thinking about it. He also hoped he was the only one whose house the Dalmascan government had gone after like that, but then he had a feeling it wasn't anything to do with the government at all, and more to do with the very powerful enemies Aemilius insisted on making. Nero never did gain enough footing to protect Kenleigh from them, and without him around, the right amount of hessions in the right hands certainly could get an entire house downed overnight.
Aemilius was legal, though. How'd they manage to take out the twins? Unless they were bond-slaves, that was possible, Nero did think Aemilius owed a handful of people money, and neither of the twins would be quite aware enough of what was going on, to know they had more rights than their owners acted like they did. (Once again, very glad Essair got them. For all that the twins were not sheltered, they really were.) Mother was a whole other issue. Yes, technically, she'd been breaking a few laws. Nero wasn't technically a proper citizen, but even Aemilius didn't know that, so there was nothing to incriminate him with. So theoretically, if he paid whatever Aemilius owed off, then House Kenleigh could probably be reinstated, but on the other hand, what the fuck did Nero even care? There was just something about nearly dying and losing his house because of it that made him not terribly interested in becoming anyone important again.
Mostly, he was content just staying here, maybe having a conversation or a few with Cyprian (Cyprian was... more or less the only real Kenleigh that was old enough to make informed decisions) about what to do, now. Cyprian would be much happier not running a house, and Nero knew it. And frankly, he might be, too.
That was a long story. A long short story, maybe. Nero shook his head, limping the rest of the way into the library, and having a seat. (His leg was starting to hurt.) "Aura bombs," he answered. "Wasn't a fluke, whoever fired them knew what they were doing, they went right for our medics. We're kind of lucky we weren't dead, the military didn't send any reinforcements, so we had to wade our way out of that on our own. The medics all died, lost a bunch more after, but eventually I got the survivors home, and then came home myself." There wasn't much left of that unit, anymore, but maybe they didn't need to know that.
"Been walking almost non-stop for the last two weeks or so, if I had to guess. We were posted out around the Taogan River delta." They'd seen maps. They knew where that was. "I wasn't even going to tell them we're alive, but I don't need to get hit with desertion charges next, so maybe I will anyway. But I'm staying here. Pretty sure this house's healer ilim will skin me personally if I try going back out on tour, there's an aura burn down most of this side. I wanted to be here with you guys for a while, anyway, so it works out." Or at least, he thought it did. The military might be a little irked, but quite frankly, Nero wasn't asking them.
... Aura bombs. Well that was something of a slap in the face. And as it turned out it was kind of some sort of a miracle that Nero was still alive after all that anyway because of what he'd been through. Nero didn't have to say how few were probably left after an aura bomb for Andreas to have a pretty good idea. Especially since all the medics had died during it, apparently. Not an accident, it was a targetted attack on their medics and then the rest of them.
That was a terrifying thought. Who had done that, exactly? Who had decided that those bombs were the best course of action? He didn't ask - if Nero knew, then he knew. If he didn't, then it wouldn't serve any purpose anyway. Andreas didn't really need to know.
A slight grimace at that. The Taogan River delta was quite a distance away from Nydema, and he'd made sure the rest of his soldiers made it home first. Two weeks was probably a conservative guess, given he was apparently also injured.
"Telling them would probably be wise." The house had, uh, been through a great deal, and that would just be another blow that they didn't really need. Dre didn't look precisely happy about it though, given the fact of the matter was that the country and nearly killed him, and he really didn't want to face the reality that they may insist on sending him back out again after all was said and done.
Though the way he was talking it sounded like his healing process would at least get to finish first. They wouldn't send someone who who was that badly injured. Right? It only made sense, Nero would only be a liability with such injuries. It also wasn't really his fault that he'd taken this long to report back, given they hadn't received any backup after the bombs had struck.
"It'll be good to have you around for a while." Hopefully, assuming nothing else went wrong. He didn't say that part, of course.
Yeah, he thought so, too. On the other hand, he sort of wanted to skip that, because he really didn't need to be fighting with them about going back out. Nero was one of the better commanders. Lucius hadn't gone out on tour in a long time, and neither had Marcus, which meant, of course, aside from the Cassimers, Nero was the best they had. He might end up in a fight over it, but quite frankly, he was getting about fed up of fighting Macenia, too. He was Macenian. But then, he supposed Macenians fought each other all the time, so this really wasn't all that new.
"Will it?" he asked. "Maybe a bit weird, huh? I don't usually hold still very long." It was his own failing, really, and he knew that, but it was easier, in the long run, not to end up in a fight with Aemilius as often as Cyprian was. He didn't need to go making everything worse. It wasn't like Cyprian did it on purpose, and Nero knew that, it was just an unfortunate side-effect of living with that grand beast of a hume. ... hmm. Now he had to wonder what Cyprian was like, because maybe he was a completely different person, now. Well. He hoped things were better for him, now.
"So, aside from the obvious," he went on, "how're you two?" They looked like they were in one piece, and, of course, he did still trust House Essair enough not to be too worried, but looking and being, those were sometimes very different things. It wasn't like they were very close, and Nero knew better than to expect that they might be, so he didn't think they'd say much, but he hoped otherwise. Even if only because talking about it, it helped, sometimes.
Somewhere in there Dre glanced over at Dimitrios, trying to get an idea of how the other was taking this. They'd, uh, they'd been through a lot thinking he was dead and now he wasn't and really Andreas still didn't know what to think of that, not really. It was nice but also confusing and there was a lot... hm. Well. His attention returned to Nero after a moment or two.
"Well a little." But Dre thought that was a good sort of weird? Because he really didn't hang around often, and having him around consistently would be strange. But it would be nice to be all together for the moment, given what had happened. And maybe just letting Nero recover from the aura bombs was a good idea.
Ah... hm. Actually Andreas wasn't sure how to answer that exactly. Then again maybe he didn't really need to know everything that had led up to them being here and okay. Maybe just the fact that they were here together and okay was enough. He glanced at Dimitrios again out of the corner of his eye before focusing on Nero. Right, well, that wasn't his to tell anyway so it was up to Dimitrios.
"I've been okay." It wasn't a lie, things were just fine here in Essair, especially compared to where he could have ended up. "Ended up with Lucius first, then brought here to be reunited with Dimitrios." Couldn't complain either way. Both were good houses. ... Both had an odd tendency to leave him to do whatever, practically, but okay. Cleaning the library was not the worst thing they could have ended up doing by any means.
And they kept finding neat new books to look at.
Dimitrios frowned, slightly. Aura burns down 'most' of one side was enough of a potential problem, he was a bit concerned about it. Nero wasn't known for being careful by any means, might yet irritate it, and make it all worse. He was still a bit annoyed, mind you. None of it was Nero's fault, but things had gone really terribly because he was gone, and now he wasn't gone, and how, exactly, was that supposed to be right? Then, this was Dalmasca. Nothing about this place was right, and Dimitrios wasn't just now figuring that out.
He wished he was.
Maybe, in the end, things just were the way they were, and being upset about any of it, it really only hurt him. It wasn't like he had the ability to do anything about any of this. Except, perhaps, reminding Nero to take a break once in a while, because if he wasn't careful, that burn could get infected. Speaking as someone that'd almost died from an infection, it wasn't pleasant, but it was preventable.
"Missing an appendage," Dimitrios mentioned, "but fine. S'why Kassandros decided to borrow Andreas and Cyprian. ... and apparently just never gave them back. Not that I mind." No, he didn't. "Nobody's given us anything specific to do, so we're just sort of doing whatever." He paused, a moment, and then made a face. "I think I count as a eunuch. Before you ask. ... I don't mind, though. Kind of hurt, but you know. Dre can have kids for me. I'll live vicariously through him." Or something to that effect. He wasn't sure it was supposed to work that way, but it was going to have to, so there.