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The Apology

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The Apology

Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:33 pm

Neth 7th, 4713


Nestled deeply into the folds of her starry cloak, the aasimar sat cross-legged upon her bedroll as she picked restlessly at a hunk of day old bread and a small wedge of hard cheese. It was the first meal she'd taken yet this day. As hungry as she felt however, there came with it a certain sense of resentment that she needed to feed this traitorous body at all after it had been so easily commandeered by a malevolent power! Not a rational sentiment perhaps, but a potent one. Nevertheless, she knew she would need to keep her strength up for the coming travails that awaited them in Skywatch.

Wynnsaren peeked from beneath her hood toward the campfire a few yards away. Matsuro Shi sat around it doing much the same as she was, partaking in a nightly meal and remaining largely quiet apart from the occasional smattering of friendly banter. Yesterday the sight of the unified foursome would have brought a smile to her face and warmth to her heart. Today, aside from the hunger she was reluctantly tending to, Wynn wasn't feeling much of anything. Or perhaps rather, she was feeling too much. She felt scared. Angry. Helpless. Tired. Old. Violated. Remorseful. All of these things added up to an over-stimulated numbness.

Hopefully there was a chance of alleviating at least one of those conditions this night.

"Your Majesty," Wynn croaked out the title in a wavering voice completely unrecognizable from her usual dulcet tones. "When you are free, might I speak with you a few moments?"

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:08 am

The king's eyes snapped up at the sound of her voice and his body tensed. With his mouth taut, he forced himself to breath out and relax his shoulders. Despite everything that happened... it was still Wynn. At least he hoped so.

"Of course," He said as he rose from the ground. He brushed some of the dirt from the chain shirt he slept in and hoped he wouldn't need it, for both their sakes. Paido said nothing, but never took his eyes off the king as he walked toward the aasimar.

The king blinked as he got closer. This... was barely the Wynn he knew. The normally serene and almost noble oracle seemed... broken. Shaken to her core, and Thaddeus wasn't certain what to make of it.

"Is everything all right?"

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:09 am

Wynn looked up at her liege and immediately regretted it, for she saw the tension in his gait and the hardness of his face.  Silver tears welled in her eyes.  It was as she'd feared and she couldn't see any clear path out of this debacle.  

"No. . .  No there is nothing all right about any of this, my king."  She lowered her head and stuffed the remnants of her dinner back into the handkerchief, setting it aside before brushing the crumbs from the skirt of her burgundy dress.  "Due to my weakness, our enemy saw fit to exploit our relationship to put you in peril and worse even than that, I fear that It wanted a wedge driven between you and I, that you might no longer heed my council."

The oracle pushed back her hood and swallowed her shame as she faced the man whom she'd wronged so thoroughly.  As she did so, tendrils of ink black hair, escapees from the loose braid that hung over one shoulder, now drifted down over her reddening cheeks.

"Yes, I know that we are here in order to stop the threat I have foreseen, but I also know that you hold on to your doubts and you are not alone in that concern among Matsuro Shi.  I cannot blame you for this distrust for after today any rational being would feel the same.

"You have granted me pardon, Your Grace, but I also now beg your forgiveness for my shortcomings.  I do not know if I have the power to put these pieces back together again. . ."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:09 am

Thaddeus winced as he watched his friend falling apart. This was a difficult time and he only saw it getting more difficult. He hoped he was wrong about that.

"Wynn, I do forgive you... When a Paladin of Saranrae pardons someone... forgiveness is part of the package. The 'trial' as it was, was only a formality... I knew your innocence as soon as I saw your expression after the deed." His hand involuntary rubbed the his throat where she had struck. The wound was healed, by her, but the... vulnerability he felt still lingered.

"I don't hold you to blame for this... As you said, an enemy used you. It's HIM I would have words with."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:10 am

Nodding, the aasimar cast her eyes toward her hands which lay tightly clasped in her lap.

"I thank you for your graciousness, indeed for the graciousness of all of the Council but as you know there is yet to be more fallout from these events. That is why, once the matter at Skywatch is put to rest, I intend to tender my resignation as Novastasia's ambassador."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:10 am

Thaddeus nodded slightly, then shook his head with a frown. What she said was true, There would be fallout. The common folk in the mobs had not been pleased at his lienancy. There was more to come. However he didn't care much for this solution.

"We will ford that river when we get to it. I realize I can't, or won't force you to represent me to others... but I do hope you'll change your mind.

"Forgiveness means just that. It wouldn't do to declare full pardon to the people, and then strip you of title and position... it sends a mixed message." His brows furrowed as he considered the situation.

"Why do you think I was targeted?"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:12 am

"You are the king." Wynnsaren offered simply, after masking a little sniffle by clearing her throat. "But I do not believe you were the only target. I believe that the bond between Matsuro Shi and myself was also targeted by this Dreamwalker, for he. . it. . .whatever is accompanying my visions, knows well that I have been communicating these gods-related glimpses to you and because of your trust in me, you have acted to thwart their plans at every turn. That they would attack you now shows that they have taken notice and we are proving troublesome.

"I am convinced that the only reason to use me in such a public assassination attempt would be to sever your trust in my visions and my purpose. Can you say honestly that your faith in me has not been shaken? That theirs has not been shaken?" The oracle nodded toward the companions around the fire, two of which were keeping a very close eye on her movements.

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:13 am

"I can't speak for the others, but I can say I don't doubt their loyalty, to me or to their friends. If they have issues with trust... they'll work past them. Just as I will."

He smiled weakly at her as he nodded in agreement. He reached out and squeezed her hand reassuringly.  "I think you are right. This was an attack on your reputation and our friendship at least as much as it was on me. Well, I survived. Now it's up to us to make sure that your reputation and our friendship survive as well."

His eyes grew hard with barely contained anger. "I will not let this Dreamwalker win. I just won't. I may be on guard a bit more, now that I know what kind of tricks it can muster... but he took his shot and missed.

"Let's not act like he won."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:14 am

A whisper of a smile caressed her lips as she clung to the king's hand like a lifeline.

"Do not worry yourself over my reputation. Of that I care little, save for how it reflects on you, Maturo Shi and your kingdom. I have been around long enough to know that people as a whole are a fickle lot and frankly I have enjoyed my time in the sun for longer than I expected in Novastasia. But the bloom as they say, has fallen off the rose."

Wynnsaren released a breath and brushed the nacreous moisture from her eyes with her free hand.

"And you are right about this Dreamwalker. He. . . It will not prevail. Not if we all stay the course and remain true to one another. In the meantime I must see to it that I take precautions against such threats, for it frightens me what other damage I might cause to my companions or even myself. So entrenched within the vision was I this morning, that it would not be inconceivable for me to have been made to slit my own throat."

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Re: The Apology

Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:15 am

"That thought occurred to me as well," the king said seriously. "That was why I question why I was targeted. Frankly, I'm glad it happened as it did. In this case you're the more valuable of us.

"If we are truly a threat and our interference is what is annoying it so much... That all comes from you. Without your visions and advice... We wouldn't have been in the right place or time to do anything to stop its plans... If you hadn't attacked me... if you'd just walked off the balcony or something... I'm not sure what we'd do.

"We certainly wouldn't be on our to Skywatch right now." He frowned at the thought of just how easy everything could fall apart.

"Do you know of any kind of precautions? Anything that will protect yourself from this happening again?" He wracked his own limited knowledge of magic. "I know there are spells and rings that would limit your need for sleep at all... but the visions come when your awake too right? This isn't just a sleeping issue right? Even with the name 'Dream walker?"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:15 am

Wynn's brow furrowed gently as she considered King Thaddeus' questions.

"There was one time in recent memory. . ." Fondly squeezing his hand, the aasimar recovered her own and went to work removing her braid from the failing clasp as she spoke. "It was the vision I had immediately before being shunted off to the edge of Candlemere lake. I was riding Xiaobo at the time. Quite terrifying actually, but I can count the number of times that has happened in my life on one hand.

"So yes, it is possible that the visions may come while I am awake if it is something urgent that the gods deem necessary, but it is vastly more likely that I will be asleep. Not that the thought is any more comfor---- Ouch!"

Her fingers tugged at a tacky snag in her hair. Wynn pulled it around to eye level to find that it was dried blood -- probably once belonging to the man that sat across from her! Paling visibly, her hands shook as she wet a cloth with her waterskin and attempted to wash all evidence of the hideous morning from her hair.

Shame crept into consciousness again and Wynn's eyes slid toward the ground. "I. . . I am sure that Paido and Sarala are more than vigilant enough to keep an eye on me until we finish our business in Skywatch," she continued. "Akiros is a different matter however. I just do not know what to do about that issue. Surely Lord Garess is wise to suggest clapping me in manacles and I know he does so with no ill intent, but the thought of being in such restraints. . . Or being barred from the open sky?" She shivered again and shook her head. "Such confinements do not. . .sit well.

"That being said, something must be done and if the threat remains once we return, than surely I cannot remain in your castle, can I? My comfort is hardly worth the risk to your life or any one else's."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:16 am

"I'm certain we can find some solution that doesn't result in irons..." Thaddeus said dismissively. "We'll find something. I'm not sure what... but I don't believe we've fallen far enough to be turning on each other yet."

A look of frustration crossed his face as he pondered the problem. This was definitely something that would need Paido and Zaistrun's expertise to solve. His knowledge was severely limited in these matters. Perhaps something that would protect from evil. That was known to end or prevent mental control... A small smile teased across his face. Or she could become a paladin...

Looking at his friend his heart broke a little. He knew if he authorized the use of manacles, she would comply... but the fear and hopelessness in her tone shook him more then a little. H

"Wynn... I can understand that nobody wants to be restrained... but is there something more to this? Were you chained before?"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:17 am

"I have. . . on rare occasion found myself in such a disagreeable position, yes. Not everyone appreciates the meddling that my duty necessitates as much as you do," her lips twitched up, "and thus I occasionally find myself at odds with some dangerous people.

"The worst, as I can recall, was the final few days that I spent in the county of Vieland in Ustalav. I was Ksenija then and not in a very healthy emotional place having so recently been turned aside from the door of the Storval Plateau but after receiving the vision, I knew that in spite of my distaste for what I called my 'divine dictators', I had to do what I could to help. Gods, I was only thirty-three at the time," she shook her head incredulously.

"You see, there were political rumblings among the northwestern counties of Ustalav who were not content with their autocratic rule. I had been sent to influence Count Caromarc in the city of Lepidstadt, a young man whom I found to be quite decent, though a bit odd. I however, am certainly not one to judge in that regard." Wynn let slip a small grin and peeked up at her liege.

"When I prophesied that the neighboring county of Lozeri would shortly be throwing off the rule of their noble house and that his own county would soon follow, he was understandably reluctant to believe. But then of course, about two months later as I had been shown by the powers that be, it happened. Lozeri managed a nearly bloodless coup and was now. . .is now ruled by a council of powerful citizens. Then the Count was all ears.

"What I had been shown in the vision was that Vieland's own coup would not be nearly so bloodless. There were those citizens who had a very different idea of how to accomplish their freedom from autocracy and such wanton violence would have resulted in Prince Ordranti stirring himself from his royal throne. If that were to happen, then only strife and bloodshed would result. Think Galt," she added with a grimace. "Evidently, that was why I was sent to this particular young ruler, for it was within his power to ensure Vieland escape such a fate."

Wynnsaren inattentively finished cleansing her hair while she continued her tale.

"After the fulfillment of the first prophecy I had Caromarc's ear, and suggested to his utter shock, that he step down from leadership to avoid violence all together. Hardly a decision to be made lightly. I stayed within his household in Lepidstadt for about two weeks while he mulled it over, but finally -- and frankly to my surprise, he agreed that it would be in the best interest of all involved.

"In hindsight, I think there were other factors that the Count did not choose to share. He fancied himself a man of science and was becoming quite an accomplished alchemist and anatomist, so I am sure he was not terribly disappointed to be leaving behind the mantle of rulership in favor of other erudite pursuits. But that is entirely beside the point though, is it not? Let me get back to meat of the tale. . .

"Once Count Caromarc stepped down, the citizens of Vieland selected some of its most prominent to serve on the Palantine Council of Vieland. There was no blood spilled to my knowledge in this transition, at least not in Lepidstadt, and when Caromarc retired to his family estate to the north, I felt the mission had been accomplished quite successfully. I had just started congratulating myself when the first rumors reached my ear that the old Count had been manipulated into his actions by a witch.

"Now, I had not been trying to hide my working relationship with the man as I really saw no harm in it, but there was one who did see the harm. A man on the newly elected council by the name of Lorinc was one of these citizens that had been desirous of a 'glorious and bloody uprising against the tyranny of House Caromarc.'" Wynnsaren sighed. "Apparently one of his ancestors had been wronged by one of their ancestors, and the bitterness passed from generation to generation. With the successful coup in Lozeri, it gave Lorinc the opportunity for vengeance his family had been seeking. Seemed I robbed him of that chance. He took it poorly.

"It was he that started the rumors that I was a witch that bound men with my malicious magic and brought about their downfall. It did not help that I was a stranger in an entirely suspicious land, nor that I had adopted Varisian dress before I was taken, thus labeling myself as a second class citizen. The most damning evidence they had on me however was exposed the night they burst into the room I had been renting, and found me all. . .like this " The aasimar indicated her glowing eyes, the celestial sigils that lit the sides of her face and waved her hands about her head where the tiny motes of light danced gaily.

"I was keeping that bit about my heritage to myself, not only because I feared their reaction, but I still did not even know what I was. Well the citizens that had come to arrest me were terrified and cited my appearance as clear evidence I was a witch. They beat me senseless, shackled me and dragged me out into the streets in my nightgown. When I woke up I was dripping wet in a windowless cell and chained to a column, but I was not alone. They had brought in an inquisitor.

"Needless to say I would rather not discuss what occurred over those few days, if you do not mind, my king. Not my most pleasant memories, but the ending is a good deal better. The final evening, a young girl broke into my cell using a thieves' picks and a vial of some potent concoction. I recognized her as Pia, the quiet girl with multi-colored eyes and one of the servants that worked for the old count, with whom I used to share my morning pastry. She told me that her master had been given a dream regarding my plight. He could not get involved in a public capacity and risk siding with a supposed witch, so worked out another way spring me from my prison.

"Groggy at best from the rough treatment I had received, I was able to provide little aid while Pia shoved a healing draught down my throat, picked the lock on my manacles, then hauled me free from the hole with a large cloak draped over me to hide the truth of what I am. Minutes later we took brief refuge in a dark alley; a breather before we made our escape from the city, or so I thought, but when I looked back at little Pia, she did not seem the meek servant I had come to know. There was a boldness and power that she carried herself with that I did not recognize. So different did she appear, that I actually asked her who she was. All she said in response was, "You will never be alone.". Then, my mission apparently complete, I was taken back to Korvosa. Deposited on Madame Cecilie's couch, I nearly gave the poor old girl a heart attack in the process."

Wynn jerked back from that time long ago and smiled hesitantly at her present charge.

"I am guessing it was during this experience that I developed a bit of a phobia to chains. Truly there are so many parts of my life that are dictated to me, that the thought of losing any further modicum of freedom is uncomfortable on the best day, with an anxiety attack on the worst."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:41 am

Thaddeus shook his head in wonder. Everytime he thought he knew all he could about his friend's past, something new would appear. Sometimes it was something wonderful, sometimes it made his blood burn with anger. This was more the latter.

"Fear not, in my kingdom, only the guilty need to fear punishment." He scowled a little at the insanity of politics.

"Even if some people have objections... I'm not the type to bow to pressure. Nobody is going to be punished unjustly. Honestly, I would hope the people would appreciate that fact.

He sighed in frustration then twitched up to a slight smile.

"You... have led an interesting life haven't you...."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:57 am

"Moments of interesting with long stretches of dull, Your Majesty," she shrugged, "but we are now living in most interesting times indeed!  These visions and knowings have been occurring at a rate that I have never before experienced, which has ensured that these past three. . .nearly four years have been anything but dull.

"My prayer and my goal is that one day all of you will be telling your grandchildren about the events of these strange times, and that they can look up at you incredulously with wide, innocent eyes, hardly able to believe your stories possible due to the safety of the country in which they live.

"And maybe," Wynnsaren's eyes shone brightly as she looked up at the king, "you know. . . if I am not fleeing pitchfork-and-torch-wielding mobs in Mendev or freeing slaves in Katapesh, you might invite me to visit on occasion so that you could introduce your family to the angel that stabbed dedushka in the throat."

Choking on a half-mad laugh born of sheer exhaustion and stress, it took her a moment to recover.  The whole situation seemed so ridiculously absurd.  Too impossible to be real!  But here they were, in the middle of a forest, hunting down something that can drown out the stars with chaos,stab through the moon, and make plants grow out of people.   And better yet, they were being led there by the very one that only hours before tried to assassinate the king!   Maybe I am already mad, Wynn wondered nervously.

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:30 pm

Thaddeus joined her laughter. "I hope so too. After this mission I can't imagine what you'll find out there," he said with a wave at the wide world, "that will ever top this!

"You've used up your portion of excitement I think." He grinned widely. "Hopefully you'll still grace our castle with your presence and not be out adventuring without us...

"Someone will have to tell the grandkids stories that will keep them all night."

Chuckling he leaned back and looked back and stretched his legs. "Regardless, you look exhausted. Why don't you try to get some rest. We'll keep a good watch tonight."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Nov 01, 2014 1:43 pm

As if fearing it may bite, Wynn eyed her makeshift pillow dubiously. Restful was not quite how she would describe the threat of sleep just now, but if she was to be of any use at all when they reached Skywatch, than there was little other option.

Finally, reluctantly, the aasimar nodded her head. "I will, and thank you," she smiled warmly. "For your forgiveness and for your understanding."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:50 am

"Nothing you haven't earned a dozen times over milady." Thaddeus said as he rose. "I hate to say it, but I fear that this is but one more stumbling block before your finished in Novastasia." He looked toward the north into the darkness and shrugged. "Or Brevoy for that matter."

An interesting point he thought to himself. When Wynn had first prophesied to them, he had assumed that the threat would be centered on Novastasia... or at least the Stolen Lands in particular. The last two quests though... the dark influence was spreading. Each time they went farther and farther from home...

"Pleasant dreams Wynn," he said with a tight grin. If not pleasant, then none at all would have been a better wish. Somehow he did not anticipate a good night sleep for anyone this night.
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