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Lingering Wounds

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Lingering Wounds

Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:29 am

Rova the 8th, 4712


It was with no small amount of frustration that the ambassador plunked the quill back into the inkwell, and leaned back into her chair as she rubbed her trembling right hand. An annoying development to say the least.

She'd had to explain the obvious tremor in her usually confident script in the letter to Master Winter which she'd previously completed, and while Wynn didn't mind revealing such weaknesses to him, it would not do to send any missives to Mivon in such a state!

Now early evening, she had managed to finish reading through the stack of political correspondence that had accumulated during her dormancy. How could she possibly have slept for three weeks?! Her regular writing schedule to various members of the Mivon High Council, as well as friends she'd made during her multiple stays, had suffered a gap that necessitated explanation, especially to those persons who were inquiring as to her welfare after the siege.

If her tremorous hand was any indication, Wynnsaren wasn't quite 'right as rain' as she'd hoped, but she was alive, which was more than any of the men and women that had been under her charge could say.

Daniil. . .

So many dead. . .

She didn't want to remember. There were more important needs to attend to now that she' been given a direction for Matsuro Shi and that was a blessing really, for it would not be beneficial for her mind to remain idle for long just now. She needed to work. To focus her attention elsewhere.

The aasimar glanced up at the mantle of her fireplace whereupon a partially drained bottle of priceless Osiowet sat; a spoon still resting beside it. Above the mantle hung an ornate, golden, and glaringly empty picture frame. At least to everyone else it appeared empty. To Wynnsaren it held the most precious memory of a shared sunset. She smiled as she always did at the viewing, while her heart tightened in longing as it always did. No, this was not where she needed to focus her attention either.

A deep sigh proceeded the scooting back of her desk chair, which vibrated the floor enough to alert the slumbering akata to her movement.

"Walk?" Her left hand quickly flashed the signed inquiry to her quadrupedal companion.

In one great, excited bound it was beside her, which elicited an appreciative laugh from Wynnsaren's lips. It felt good to have been missed!

After slipping into the star-studded, sable cloak that Rasven had gifted her nearly ten months ago, Wynn reached her left hand into Glas' mane, where it was promptly enveloped by blue, rubbery tentacles, and grabbed her quarterstaff with her right. She yet needed the support. After so much time spent inert in her room over the past weeks, her muscles had weakened and already she found herself easily exhausted. The mere climb up to her room had her needing to sit a moment and rest! Considering the trials the next days would bring, surely a slow walk along their usual route through the city would do her some good, and she was certainly curious to see for herself how the city of Akiros had fared in the wake of the siege; both her structures and her people!

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Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:33 pm

The city was making progress. King Thaddeus could admit that, though sometimes he had to force himself to see it. The first few days had been horror the likes the young Paladin had only read about. He spent every waking moment tending the wounded and helping where he could and rarely did he return to his castle without something soaked in another person's blood.

That was weeks ago. Unable to turn himself away from those still injured, he still found himself amongst the healers most nights. Now however, he was most needed to change bandages and use his goddess-given ability to stave off disease and infection. He could only do it a mere handful of times a day... but those who were the worst off were still grateful he was there.

It was a good feeling to save lives. Not just with a sword, but with a touch... That had been an early lesson of Sir Tambor's and one that still stuck with him today. Sometimes he saw Tambor here too, but it appeared the older Paladin had already done what he could this day.

Over the weeks the makeshift triage tents had given way to actual healing structures. The king felt confident that their work here wouldn't be in vain. Most of those who had survived this long... would pull through. That thought helped him sleep at night. Maybe not always sleep peacefully, but sleep none-the-less.

Mixed emotions swarmed the king as he left the wounded in the care of others. First of all, Wynnsaren was awake! He had left word to be informed immediately should that happen... and was quite annoyed that Wynn had found him before the servants had... but the fact that she was awake overwhelmed that petty annoyance. The fact that she brought another vision was another matter.

Whatever it was that scared his friend so much... it was catching up to them, and soon...

They left in the morning. The others were making arrangements for the journey, but that still gave him time to use what healing he could before they left. Once the sun rose tomorrow... all his resources had to be saved for this new/old threat.

Once again he'd found himself walking past the wall where the fighting had been so bad. It was here that they had faced the Wyrmlords. An epic battle that had nearly been the death of him and all his friends. He hadn't even realized at the time, but he was less then fifty feet from Wynnsaren had fallen.

He stopped in his tracks as he gazed at the wall. A familiar, if somewhat gaunt, silhouette shone from the wall next to the unmistakable sight of the space lion.

He silently walked up the stairs to the wall and looked at her with an appraising eye. Wynn looked... tired. The way she leaned on her staff betrayed her weakness. Even if he hadn't known already, he would have assumed she hadn't eaten in days.

"You should be resting," he stated simply, with honest concern in his voice.
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:01 pm

"I am doing exactly that," Wynnsaren smiled warmly as she straightened up to turn to her king. "I do not remember those stairs being quite so high a few weeks ago."

Using the akata's powerful shoulder to keep her balance, the aasimar managed a deep and deferential curtsey. "Your Majesty. . . It is a pleasant surprise to see you out and about the streets of your city this evening! Glas and I thought it high time we resume some semblance of a regular schedule, so we are taking our usual nightly walk."

Wynn stood and resumed her grip on the staff. "Is there some trouble which brings you out tonight," she asked curiously. "Restlessness? I must admit I feel a bit disconnected from everything since my awakening."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:41 pm

"I would imagine so..." he said with a slight nod. "The last three weeks seemed an eternity to me. I can't imagine having slept through it all." He tried to grin but it didn't quite reach his eyes.

He looked about the wall and in his mind's eye he could still see the pile of his subjects with his friend lying atop. Hordes of hobgoblin scattered about, and the screams of warfare all around. It was... disconcerting to say the least. A somber look crossed his face as he stared about four feet to the left of where she currently stood. Had she died that day... she could well have haunted the very place she stood now... He grimaced as he tried to banish that thought.

"Were you... aware through any of the time you were... injured? Have you been told any of what took place after you fell?" His curiosity was piqued. When he was in the kingdom he had made it a point to visit his fallen friend as often as time permitted. There were times he was almost certain she knew what was going on around her... but the nurses and healers seemed doubtful of it. Though in truth they knew little of what had ailed her. One more mystery surrounding the aasimar.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:38 pm

The aasimar's lambent eyes grew distant as she considered the question. The past three weeks had seemed an eternity to her as well, for it was an eternity that she'd spent drifting among the comforting stars. They did not seem her stars though. . . They sang to her a different song, whose clarity did not seem as genuine as the ones with which she was most familiar, and they whispered soothing truths, promises, rewards. With a seducer's voice they lulled her into a sense of blissful complacency as the stars continued along their fated courses; a course which after millennia had passed her by, brought the heavenly bodies into alignment!

The stars had arranged themselves to form a dozen writhing tentacles, filling the expanse around her as their azure luminosity shifted subtly to a languid green. Those few stars that were not presently twisting and groping in bizarre tumult. . .blinked! They stared at her, in her and through her, with an all-knowing and alien understanding. Not malevolent. Not benevolent. Thoroughly terrifying in their dispassion! Worlds had been born and died under the gaze of those eyes! Great civilizations brought to their knees for a purpose so estranged and wholly beyond the capacity of mortal mind as to deprive them of any hope of understanding!

It saw her. . . The Great Old One. It knew her. It did not care.

"Kirya. It begins." The final whisper of the stars as she stood in the tall grasses of the Kamelands, brought her back to a reality that she'd thought had passed her by.

"I was not aware during my unconsciousness," Wynnsaren finally replied to the monarch. The hollow, resonant voice of one not entirely born of this world remained unchecked in her distraction. "My mind was elsewhere. Caught in the vision."

She stepped up to lean against the crenellations of the wall as she continued. "I remember there being very few of us left when word came that an assassination attempt against your life had been foiled," she smiled, searching the king's face. "It bolstered our spirits in a time when things were very bleak. The men had resigned themselves to death and there was no point in me trying to sugar coat it. We stood there against overwhelming odds and a foe the likes of which these simple farmers had never comprehended. Demonic drakes?" Wynn shook her head incredulously. "It was only a matter of choosing how they were going to die. I have never witnessed such bravery, Your Grace. . ."

Her jaw clenched against emotion that she stubbornly refused to give berth. "They stood, they fought with an efficient ferocity that shocked me to be frank, and they died. Kazimir told me this afternoon that not one of them lived. Not one. . . Four hundred men and women I was given charge of, and four hundred died." After a moment of silence, she added, "Four hundred and one.

"Daniil saved me there at the last. It was chaos. . . One of drakes had grabbed what was left of my arm with its talons and was trying to drag me over the wall as it no doubt had done to at least a few of us already. I was fending it off well enough when I saw a second drake swooping down at me out of the darkness. Danill must have seen it as well, because he dove at me, throwing me out of the way of the beast's claws and taking them himself. I remember nothing else of this world until I woke this afternoon, but I think I must have struck my head against the wall as I fell, for there was a blinding pain. . .and then stars, which was where I remained until today.

"Kaz said they found Danill torn in two at the base of the wall," she added softly, "so that brings the number to four hundred and one."

Wynnsaren raised her eyes to meet those of King Thaddeus, and a weary smile turned up the corners of her lips. "I know that you still live. That Matsuro Shi still lives, and that Akiros still stands. The details of the siege I have not yet been made privy to but as long as those three things hold true, than there is hope."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:03 pm

"A thousand and one," Thad whispered half to himself. Realizing he'd spoken aloud, he turned his attention back to the aasimar. "The total is closer to a thousand.

"Councilor Zened's merchants did little better, and our Fifth Expeditionary force was decimated as well. Most of the people we'd recruited for defense did not survive the attack. And they weren't alone. Many of our allies and even paid employees joined the ranks of the fallen.

"We kept Pharasma busy that day."

He looked toward his friend and was quiet for a moment. Earlier conversations bounced through his mind and not all settled well with him.

"Kazimir told me a few things too." The corner of his mouth turned up into a little smirk as he sugarcoated some of the passionate rangers words. "He... 'disagreed' with the wisdom of my decision to put you in that position...

"He says you sent him away. That you knew it was a death sentence and tried to protect him." A melancholy filled his eyes as he gazed over the battered city.

"I hope you know that wasn't true... There was a chance of death, of course... I knew there was a chance that we all could have died that day. However, I asked you to lead these people because I was certain they would follow you.

"You have a connection with these people... They like you. Care about you. and I knew that even farmers untrained in combat.... they wouldn't abandon you or their duty.

"And they didn't."

He waved his hand over the city pointing out the burned out watchtower and trading district just past them.

"You haven't seen Tatselford yet. It is... gone. We're attempting to rebuild, but it will take time. The town itself though? It was just... gone.

"You did well. Your army did well. Everyone gave their all when needed, and we repelled the unrepellable. We couldn't have done it without you.

"Still... words don't describe what I thought when we found you lying there...."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:27 pm

"You had to make decisions based on what you had to work with," Wynnsaren bobbed her head gently in understanding. "There were few options and you made the best choice you could given the circumstances. I had no desire or intent to die on that wall any more than you had desire or intent to fall to the leaders of the Red Doom, but I was willing to do so if it came to that. As were we all."

The aasimar shifted on her feet and reached down to stroke one of Glas' tentacles as he sat on his haunches at her side.

"I did not believe your order a death sentence, but Kaz was right that I sent him away to protect him. His strength is in movement, a blade in each hand. If he had been beside me on that wall, he would have been jumping in front of me at every threat and would most assuredly killed himself in the process. That man is more dear to me than I think he realizes, but he underestimates me with maddening frequency! Daniil was simply a better choice to be my second. He was a seasoned archer and played my eyes during the day as I played his during the night.

"I do not regret that decision as you do not regret yours. Daniil knew his craft well and we were more effective because of him, but I know that Kazimir took it personally when I sent him away just as he took it personally when I was injured. He can be a bit. . . gruff from time to time, as I fear you may know all too well." Wynn could not help a smirk at the understatement.

"He told me that you came to visit me at the tower while I was unresponsive, and though I was unaware of the company, please know that I appreciate your concern. It is good to live in a place where I feel valued. It has not always been thus," she admitted as her smirk blossomed into a full fledged smile.

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Post  Colin Marcus on Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:04 pm

"He cares for you as well." Thaddeus said returning her smile. "The way he growled and snapped at anyone and everyone who came near you that dawn... It was like a mama bear protecting her wounded cub.

"Though... that's probably something else we should keep between us," he said as he chuckled at the mental image. "He takes his bodyguarding job seriously, and performs it with a passion I've only seen rivaled in Sir Paido. Gruff or not, I commend him for that."

She, Kaz and even himself were right though. Had Kazimir been on that wall, he would have died. Not instead of as he was sure the ranger believed... but also. Wynn had been injured, but she had survived. No better outcome could have been expected against those odds, and replaying the night in his head, one more soldier wouldn't have made difference. Whether the enemy had killed four hundred and one or four hundred and two, it wouldn't have mattered to them.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:12 pm

"He is a good man," Wynn agreed, fondness coloring her tone of voice, "and we are all dealing with the tragedy of so much loss in differing ways. Kazimir attacks himself internally a thousand times more viciously than he snarls and growls at those around him. Walking about the streets tonight, I believe many are still in shock at all that transpired. Lives were flipped upside down in a matter of hours! I suppose such is the way of war," she considered.

"I have never been so near a conflict that large and I am not yet sure where to even begin to process everything that happened. Everything I saw. . . More troubling than the nearness though was that there were so many I knew! Personally knew, who were placed under my command, and I watched them killed all around me. . ." The aasimar's mind drifted back to the terrible scene. Ironically, she'd intended to take a walk to get her thoughts as far away from the battle as possible but her feet led her to this particular place in the wall, and Fate led King Thaddeus there as well. Perhaps it was best to face such a thing head on.

"Acid. . . Those drakes were spitting acid! The screams just. . ." Wynn shuddered down to her toes. "A horrible way to go, and dismemberment is no better," she choked, remembering the stone walkway slick with blood and gore of friends. "Ivan Gorvielovich was just a boy! I do not believe he had even seen his sixteenth winter yet, but he was a crack shot with a bow and feathered more than a few of the monsters before taking a globule of acid to the side of his head. His mother always saved a basket of the ripest strawberries for me every market day, and I have taken meals at their home on more than one occasion. How will she see me now I wonder? Logically I know that I am not responsible for the boy's death, but emotionally? And if I cannot sort that out yet, how could a grieving mother rationally deal with the loss of her only son?"

The aasimar leaned heavily against the very wall were so many had died only weeks before and took a moment to breathe, refusing to have a meltdown in front of the king!

"How do you handle it, Your Majesty? Did Sir Tambor ever teach you a way to separate yourself from the horrors of war? This is just so foreign to anything I have known before. . . Yes I have witnessed death, even of friends in battle, but never have I lived through the sheer scale of carnage as I witnessed here upon this wall!"

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Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:34 pm

He was silent as he listened to the raw pain in her voice. He'd had weeks to build some perspective on the tragedy and even that weighed heavy on his soul.

He saw that weight on Wynn now as she leaned heavily on the acid burned wall she'd fought so hard to defend. He'd had weeks to deal with this weight, she'd had hours...

"Come with me... I'll show you." He said as he offered her his arm. She wasn't one to readily admit to weakness, but he recognized the gratitude in her eyes as she took his arm unsteadily. He carried her staff for her as they reached the bottom of the stairs and Glas wrapped a tentacle around her other hand. Together they started the walk back toward his library.  

As they walked through Akiros he found himself changing the topic. Unfortunately not a more pleasant one, at least to his mind.

"I think my friend... we may need to get you an assistant. Someone to handle your mail when your away... or in a coma."

"It seems that while you were sleeping, Zaistrun decided to play diplomat. That's what we were discussing when you arrived at the council door... I'm not sure what you heard. I fear it may have been a little loud." He tried to keep his voice light, but there was a noticeable edge as he recalled the encounter this afternoon.

"It seems he's been in contact with Silverhall."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:37 pm

Hearing the name of the city alone served to pleasantly shock her from the terrible memories she'd been reliving as she walked along beside the king, and the ambassador was more than willing to refocus her attention upon this new conversational direction.

"It. . . does not seem in character for Lord Garess to take up political maneuverings behind your back," Wynnsaren replied carefully in the face of what seemed to be a delicate subject. "Kazimir mentioned to me earlier that Master Winter had come to visit a few times, so Zaistrun must have been the one to make him aware of my condition.

"Am I to infer from your suggestion of the Magister taking on a diplomatic role in my absence, that Master Winter came to Akiros for reasons of political import rather than personal?"

She tried with some success to hide the color currently rising to her cheeks behind the deep cowl of her cloak. Upon hearing of her frequent visitor, Wynn had been struck speechless. It had been nearly a year now since she'd had the chance to see Rasven, and when the opportunity finally came, she was lying unconscious! Still. . .it warmed her heart to think that he had been concerned enough for her well-being to leave Silverhall, if only for a short while. The idea that perhaps that had not been the reason for his visit, twisted uncomfortably in her middle.

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Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:49 pm

Thaddeus grimaced as he replayed the events in his mind.

"I'm not certain what to infer," he said with disgruntled honesty. "Master Winter is a mystery to me. I realize you have personal correspondence with him... that he's your friend...

"However at the moment, he's a stranger to me and Novastasia . The leader of a foreign army whom the last I heard was involved in a civil war. The current status being unknown...

"I was told by the Wyrmlords that we were targeted because we were ripe for conquest... To say that finding out that the Magister had sent a letter to another general with the information that were battered and hurting while we were still clearing our dead and burning our enemies..." The king shook his head in frustration.

"I feel it was poor judgment on his part. I suspect his heart was in the right place, and he truly felt that he was doing you a kindness, but I do think he overstepped. Master Winter is not some common blacksmith friend... He's the man who attacked New Stetvan with an army of fire. Had it been someone other than Zaistrun, it would have been borderline treason...

"And with Lord Garess... it's tough to say. I suspect if Paido presented someone who had sent such a letter to King Surtova... he'd be the first to suggest punishment. I have... difficulty understanding that man sometimes..."

He sighed heavily.

"As for Master Winter... If he has political interests in Akiros... they didn't include me. Near as I can tell he only visited your room and wasn't known to use doors... How he's come and gone is unknown at the moment, and you can imagine the Knight Commander's reaction to that information. Actually... this time, it rather mirrored my own.  

I have looked forward to meeting the man since you first told me about him. He both intrigues and concerns me... Now I find out that he's actually been in my castle a dozen times or more, unannounced, and I still haven't met him.

"For someone so accustomed to ways of nobility and protocol...I hadn't expected to hear of his comings and goings from servant gossip..." He winced again as he gave her a wry grin.

"Which is something else I'm sorry to say you've woken up to... The servants can't seem to stop whispering about this handsome young stranger who kept visiting you."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:54 pm

"Let them whisper," Wynnsaren replied softly. Sadly. The second subject she'd been trying to avoid thinking about on this walk was now placed directly in her path beside the first, and her heart responded with a dull ache. The aasimar continued her thought, exposing a rare window into the personal passion that lay beneath the usually stoic and secretive façade. "Whispers and rumors are all anyone in Silverhall knows of him, why should it be any different in Akiros? It is necessary for his duty he says, being most often perpetrated by the man himself, while the truth of him is a much more elusive and beautiful thing! I am not ashamed of my relationship with Rasven Winter, Your Grace. I cannot be. He. . . He is far too important to me."

This was exactly what she had been trying to avoid by keeping silent about her Merchant Prince! The oracle came to the Stolen Lands to smooth a path for the Fates of Four to accomplish what needed to be done, and somehow her own personal associations threatened to complicate matters between two of the Fates. It would not do. Maybe she could yet fix things.

"If there is any punishment needed to be mete out, I ask that you let it fall on me. Zaistrun only acted as my friend. He trusts in my understanding of Master Winter and undoubtedly wrote only to make him aware of my situation since there would be an abrupt and worrisome halt in correspondence."

Wynnsaren gently stopped their progress and released Glas' tentacle to push back the cowl of her starry cloak and look up fully into the face of her king.

"You have every right to be concerned, put out and feel slighted by the secretive nature of what transpired. Every right," she reiterated the point firmly before going on, "but let me suggest a different perspective. . .

"Receiving that missive must have put Master Winter in a very difficult spot. Not only does he have a war to see to in his service to Silverhall, but making himself known here publicly would have brought Novastasia's neutral status on the Brevoy Conflict into question and possibly attracted further negative attention upon us from the Surtovas. That he would not wish to do.

"If as you say, he only appeared in my room and nowhere else in the castle to meet with anyone, than there was no political motivation. I believe that by limiting his exposure to as few as possible, he was attempting to avoid any political issues altogether as he has been since we met. It was a calculated risk certainly, but one that he felt was worth taking under the circumstances."

Wynn bit the edge of her bottom lip as she let out a slow sigh.

"He cares for me, Your Majesty, that is all. He was concerned for my well-being. By handling things the way he did, Master Winter may well have saved us a good deal of trouble, though I fully understand that his actions have not engendered much good will on the part of the Council.

"I do hope you will accept my apology, for I would never intend for my personal involvements to become an issue."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:34 pm

"Wynn... don't be ridiculous. Of course I won't hold you responsible for actions taken while you were unconscious," Thaddeus said with a smirk.

"As for Zaistrun... I have no doubt that there was no malice intended. The man has many talents... but diplomacy is certainly not one of them. I decided many months ago, I wanted him as far from the noble leaders as possible. Some people can separate their personal feelings from their 'official' ones... Zaistrun can not."

"I had confidence that you'd wake soon enough to handle your own missives and didn't want you to think we'd simply made do without... or worse, replaced... Hope and Faith were some of my weapons during that time...

"Granted... if I'd considered that Master Winter had access to medicine and was capable of making the journey... I would have written the letter myself."

He frowned a little at the thought. "As for Master Winter, your theory may well be correct. perhaps his actions these weeks were intended as a 'favor' to me... I don't know.

"Coranious has visited and not affected our neutrality. I've also extended an invitation to Master Winter to come when he's able... Hells, as long as they can keep their swords in their scabbards King Surtova and Lord Lebeda can both sit at my table. Anyone who comes in peace is welcome... that's been my position since the beginning...

"This though? It felt... disrespectful of my authority here. That's the best way I can explain it.

"Worse yet, it seemed as if there was a lack of trust. As if 'should' he present himself properly... I may have denied him and his medicine access." He scoffed at the absurdity of it. Though Kazimir had pointedly blamed him for her condition... he couldn't help but wonder if Master Winter did too.

He studied his friend for a moment. The turmoil she felt was easily etched on her features. He certainly hadn't planned on causing more grief in her weakened state. He found that it gave him pause.

"There really is something there... isn't there?" He asked with sincere curiosity. "Feelings have grown from the 'curiously intrigued' you felt last fall..."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:00 am

The tenor and topic that the conversation had settled around, sapped at her nearly depleted reserves of emotional energy. Wynnsaren could have argued each point until she was blue in the face, but it was clear that even the most logical and impassioned speech would make no real difference in the monarch's opinion of her suitor. Until they were able to meet face to face, King Thaddeus would never trust him but now after this incident, though surely innocent in all respects? Perhaps not even then. The whole thing weighed on her like a sodden cloak.

His question as to her feelings for the man did not come as a real surprise. Wynn had been playing things quite close to the vest since her return from Silverhall last year and though Rasven had come up in conversation from time to time, she'd never offered more information than necessary in response. In fact, this was the first time that King Thaddeus had ever come out and asked the question point blank and when he did, the aasimar looked up at the him, her tired eyes welling with tightly reined emotion.

"Master Winter yet intrigues me," she finally replied as they continued to move down the street. "He always will. It is simply a quality of the man himself you see, but yes . . . much has changed since my first visit to Silverhall.

"I never shared this particular point in my life with you, Your Grace, but I was engaged to be married once. A very long time ago. Due to my ignorance, my particular job description, and a heavy hand from the gods, things did not work out and because of it I closed off that portion of my life, believing my duty necessarily prevented the blossoming of any relationship beyond that of friends. I had no desire to go through that kind of pain again.

"In truth, it was not a difficult way to live a life. People tend to misunderstand aasimar and when you add a title such as 'oracle' or 'prophet' or 'soothsayer' to the mix? Well that just makes for an absurd amount of confusion. I do not blame people for their reaction, but very few could ever see beyond those two terms, for good or ill."

Wynnsaren took a long breath before proceeding, scratching behind Glas' tentacle as she carefully chose her words.

"I tell you these things so you will understand that I am not given to random fits of romantic whimsy. I have never been swayed off course by sweet words or a handsome face." She couldn't help but blush at the fleeting thought that until very recently she'd never known a man who possessed such an abundance of both qualities!

"When I first visited Silverhall, I believe Master Winter and I caught each other a bit off guard. He was exactly the opposite of whom I had believed I would be meeting and though he certainly knew a good deal more about me at the time, it became quite clear that I was hardly what he expected either. I was curious and intrigued, yes, clearly enough to agree to a second meeting, but I knew that my circumstances remained unchanged. Still, I believed him to be worth the risk.

"On my second visit I learned so very much more! I saw the heart of the man. . .and it was breathtaking," she added in a low voice brimming with affection. "He opened himself up and risked worse than agony simply so I would understand him. Simply so I could see him for who his is! He refused to answer not one of the questions put to him and I assure you I had a lot of questions, but more than that, I learned that the difficulty of his own circumstances in his duty to Silverhall makes mine seem like a mere inconvenience. In that truth lies a mutual understanding that I had never believed possible.

"All those fears and circumstances that I had always assumed to be impassable? One by one he shattered them, showing me a path upon which a love might go beyond the span of a single mission. He has never pushed me. Never made a demand of my time nor my affections. Our interests, our dedication to purpose, our love of freedom and desire for truth. . . There is a compatibility between us that is natural and compelling.

"So yes, Your Majesty, you note that my feelings for Master Winter have grown and you could not be more correct in that observation, because for me, there is only Rasven. There will only ever be."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:07 am

Thaddeus listened and absorbed her words. It was as he had thought. His own emotions were in a turmoil as he listened to her pour out her heart. It wasn't that long ago that he had entertained his own romantic possiblities concerning Wynnsaren.

Though she claimed that people couldn't see past her heritage or powers, he found it hard to believe. From the beginning he'd seen the beautiful, insightful woman who had quickly become one of the best friends he'd ever known. She was still the only person he knew who could balance the ever-present tightrope and treat him with both a casual heart-felt friendship and a kingly respect he craved. Few others even tried for both. He didn't understand how 'anyone' who met her wouldn't feel attracted to her.

This line of thought had been abandoned when he could feel her attentions drawing northward. And before he had become betrothed to another. She hadn't said anything, but the occassional blushes and the way she chewed her lower lip when Silverhall was mentioned were easy tells.

That and her consistent defense of the man. That still boggled his mind and he found himself grasping for solid ground. He had never met a person who's opinion or insight he valued more... but this constant defense flew in the face of all he understood. Not simply false rumors... but true facts that she had told him. It was... difficult for him to reconcile the two.

All because she had 'seen his heart?' To the paladin that didn't even make sense... A good heart does not do bad things. In Thaddeus' mind it was just that simple. He couldn't help but realize the irony here though. He wanted nothing so much as to meet this man who had stolen her heart and hear his own words... despite the fact that as his diplomat, he depended on her to represent HIM to everyone else...

"I hope someday you will tell me more about him. Help me to understand, whatever it is you see in him." He chuckled to help diffuse the situation a bit. It was obvious she wasn't in any condition for this verbal dance. He didn't wish to cause any more distress then he already had.

"I'm a bit jealous actually..." he said with more honesty then he'd even realized. "You've found someone you care for, who seems to return the feeling. Where as I haven't seen or heard anything from my betrothed, or her fey in over three weeks."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:08 am

"There has been no word from them since the siege?" Wynnsaren asked, surprised and a bit relieved by the change of topic.

"Has there been some sort of letter sent to thank Queen Feluanil for her aid and confirm your agreement with her? Maybe even the suggestion to set up an appointment for a more informal meeting?"

The ambassador grimaced, realizing just how very much she'd missed over the past weeks, and thinking back again to the stack of missives awaiting replies on her desk. Maybe a deputy ambassador would be a good idea. . .

"I would have written such a letter myself, Your Grace, had I not been so. . .well, unavailable."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jan 03, 2014 3:06 am

"You may still get a chance..." Thaddeus said with a wince then a helpless chuckle.

"I thought it was bad when I asked my sister to find out what she could about this woman... Now I may have to send a diplomat!" He vaguely recalled his other sister's wedding and all the arrangements his father went through. They were nothing like this though... This was getting ridiculous.

"It's not like I haven't tried. Sarala and I have both tried to learn something about her.. Even Piotr has hit the books, but it's like she's a ghost. Her name elicits such... respect and reverence from the fey, Lots of bowing at the mention of her, but nobody dares speak of her...

"Or of anything!" His annoyance was fairly obvious as they approached the castle. "I don't even know if she survived the battles in the Narlmarches... of if she even partook of them.

"Well... I suppose I did learn some more since the fey had arrived... Ambergretchie did tell me that she 'could' come out of the water... Though she's more comfortable there as she is aquatic... That's more then I had before... but it still feels lacking.

"The fey, were nearly as instrumental in our victory as the Petroisk forces you secured. We wouldn't have won without the treants destroying the siege engines. That's just a cold fact. Ambergretcie herself saved my life. She fed me a potion as I was dying in that last battle... If our nations truly do become one... that little atomie has earned herself a knighthood!

"Thankfully they also suffered the fewest loses. The snow leapords were killed, but the rest seemed to take minimal losses. They stayed around for a day or two. Then they left.

"Nobody wanted to talk about the Narlmarches or their own losses... the fey did what they were told to do, and did it well. Any questions regarding their battles seemed... offensive to them and I didn't push. Once it was obvious that we had in fact achieved victory, that the armies that fled were not regrouping... they were gone.

"Just... disappeared. The same as when they arrived."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:42 pm

"Then I believe it is your move." After hearing him out, the aasimar smiled softly and patted the arm of the king as they continued their walk. "It is not at all uncommon for an emissary to act as a go between in these cases, however impersonal it may seem at first, but you must remember that is exactly where you are starting with her. Right now, this is business. Your relationship need not stay in that realm alone, but it appears that is where it will begin. Royalty always seems to do things a bit backwards," she chuckled.

"If it pleases you, Your Majesty, after the current quest to Kirya has been concluded, I would be happy to seek out Queen Feluanil and deliver your thanks of her aid during the siege and also convey your anticipation of the upcoming nuptials. Perhaps an engagement feast would be a good opportunity for the people to meet her. There will be many who will wish to extend their own thanks, for as you say, without her aid there may no longer be a Novastasia! It would also be an excellent chance for you to learn more about your future bride.

"Is there some reliable method of getting in contact with her? Through Ambergretchie perhaps?"

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Re: Lingering Wounds

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:44 pm

"Ambergretchie seems to be Feluanil's method of contacting us... sort of the queens personal messenger. I was told should it be necessary to contact her... Melianse the nixie is probably the best method."

He shook his head in amazement as all the little pieces seemed to fit together. "I don't think you've met her have you? She was the one we helped against the Mivon lumberjacks... an interesting road to be sure.

"At the time I just saw over five against one, and acted accordingly... Now she's our main lifeline to my future bride..."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:40 pm

"Quite interesting that things seem to work out like that," Wynn grinned as she and the king approached the palace. "I have never met Melianse though I certainly have heard a great deal about her. It is because of that little nixie encounter and the hijinks that followed, that I have dealt with enough Mivon lumberjacks to last me a lifetime or two," she teased gently.

"Would you wish then for me to take a small envoy to meet with Melianse upon our return? I must admit a good deal of curiosity regarding the fey queen, but I am most desirous that your interests also be served in this union of kingdoms."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:47 pm

"My interests....' Thaddeus mulled aloud. He wasn't even really sure where his interests started and stopped anymore. Such was the price for ruling apparently.

"My interests would be for this to go as smoothly as possible, with some semblance of happiness involved. I admit I'm at a bit of a loss how those interests can be met...

"What do you think? You've seen more cultures than I. When we have returned from this, I had full intentions of wandering the woods hoping to meet with my betrothed?

"Do you think that would be... undignified? It feels... off somehow to be in such a... diminished role. Should I wander around to the forest denizens and humbly petition for the possibility of meeting with this woman?

"Would a go-between be considered acceptable, or do you think I'd risk offending her by not going myself... The way her subjects bow and scrape at the mere mention of her name, I'm not really sure what I'm dealing with... but I suspect she's used to being... ughhh... not even 'respected'. It's almost as if she's worshipped by her people.

"I really would value your opinion in the matter... both the situation I have gotten myself into... and your opinion of the woman."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:05 pm

Some semblance of happiness. . .

Wynnsaren grimaced inwardly at the words. It pained her that this great man, who deserved a life of boundless happiness, now hoped for so precious little in regards to his marriage. But he was king, and it had been said that a king who marries for love is more rare than finding a sack full of phoenix feathers and unicorn horns. Such whimsy lived in the realm of fable.

Perhaps King Thaddeus would not marry for love but that was not to say they could not grow into such sentiment. How many arranged marriages hoped for the same? Wynn only hoped that Queen Feluanil might have similar aspirations. . . If this strange fey had seen his fate as she claimed, did she know of the looming shadow? Had she seen beyond it? The oracle feared that Feluanil's purpose may well be more far-reaching than simply gaining the hand of her king. . . as if that was not enough in and of itself!

"Your Majesty, I fear I cannot have an honest opinion of your betrothed before I meet her. A fact which I am beginning to appreciate more and more," she included, unable to help a small grin. "Regarding your situation however, I would beg that you keep in mind that you are the King of Novastasia. You are more than just a man, you are the realm itself. If you act in a diminished manner toward this fey queen, then you diminish all of the realm. Treat her respectfully as one would an equal partner in this union and ask that she behave respectfully to you as well.

"I am hardly an expert on fey etiquette but among the kingdoms of men, as I said, it is not unusual to use a liaison in such matters. There are plans to be made and you should not be expected to go wandering about the forest in hopes of seeking audience with another ruler. I would humbly suggest sending a small group to seek her out for the purpose of scheduling a meeting with you. Since I truly understand that you do not wish for this to be complete devoid of the personal, perhaps you could write a letter to her yourself detailing your desire to meet with her on a less formal basis and seal it to be delivered to her by your delegation."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:13 am

Thaddeus' eyes filled with gratitude and he grinned warmly. For the first time since he'd made the agreement, he felt like there was a clear direction to go. Add in the fact he he didn't feel a fool, and he would get to maintain some fraction of dignity and he couldn't help but love Wynnsaren's plan.

"Very well, We'll go with that... It'll be difficult to find the right... tone for the letter, but I have some time to think about it.

He nodded at the guards as they snapped into a brisk bow. Paido had them well trained and it pleased the king to see such discipline amongst his guards. For a king, he spent a lot of time outside of the castle... it was good to see things were in good hands when he was gone. The guards knew their job, and he had no doubt they would do it without question.

From the castle gates, it wasn't a very long trip toward the library, though there were some stairs. Wynn wouldn't say anything but he could tell she needed to sit soon. She had pushed herself harder today then she should have, and tomorrow would involve some hard riding.

"When we return, I have two orders of business I wished to see to. The first was the queen. There is much I would know about her, both logistically and personally for that matter. Zaistrun claims it will be at least four months till we can finish the work on the cathedral, and I would really like to have this wedding christen it. That just seems... fitting to me.

"However in that time, are there any other things we could do to make her more comfortable? The castle's fairly new to deal with remodeling... but I could have a pool or something installed in my.. our... chambers. I've heard she's more comfortable in the water then out." He shook his head as questions and mysteries started to crowd in again.

"Point is, we have some time... Things can be done in it."

The second is Varnhold." His brow furrowed as he considered the allies that had not received his call to arms. "Something happened to them over there... I want to know what.

"I fear our own problems stopped me from being able to help them when they needed us... if there was even any time to help. It was a hard choice to not follow up on the abandoned city when I first heard about it. Now I have that luxury.

"My suspicions are they lost their fight with the centaurs... but we won't know more till we investigate. Still, I know you were disappointed you couldn't negotiate with them before... you may get another chance."

"If we can save The Varnholders... we'll save them. If we can not? Then... well, then we'll have to see about annexing that part of the land. We've invested too much of our future into that trade route through the mountains to abandon it..."

He sighed a little as he thought about the swordlord. Magar Varn had seemed a decent enough man. Prideful, but decent. He doubted the man would have been too pleased to hear that Novastasia was allying themselves so closely with the fey... Odds are their political relationship was going to suffer soon enough anyway. Still, he hoped they lived.

"I think... that I rather enjoy the idea of not having to chose between the two. You and the delegation could head west into the Narlmarches, while I can travel east to investigate Varnhold.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:17 am

"It will be as you say, Your Majesty," she smiled, punctuating her statement with a deferential bow of the head.

Very glad of the king's arm after over-taxing her body this day, Wynn took advantage of his exceptional strength and entrusted him with a liberal portion of her weight as they walked up the flight of stairs toward the library.

"I admit I am very curious about Varnhold after hearing what Sarala and Zaistrun found there. Or didn't. . ." She added ominously. "If they were so very hard pressed from the centaurs, do you not believe Lord Varn would have sent a bird for assistance? An arrogant man undoubtedly, but he has used your soldiers before and does not seem the type to be so supercilious as to doom his people to death rather than ask for more help, nor do I believe that the centaurs would be able to mount such an offensive as to wipe them out to a man in one strike. I would just have a hard time accepting that they have those kind of numbers after the constant fighting over the last two years."

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