RP:The Execution of Valrae Baines

From HollowWiki

Part of the Larketian Fault Lines Arc

Part of the What You Leave Behind Arc

Summary: The Crown of Larket holds a public execution for Valrae Baines-Older, the Red Witch of Larket charged with a slew of crimes including acts of terrorism and vandalism, threats against The Crown, hexing the Queen, attempted regicide, and hexing the City’s very young and unborn children to prematurely age and die.

Notable events:

  • The delegation from Frostmaw, which included Queen Hildegarde and Steward Lionel, denounced King Macon and Queen Josleen and burnt the Frostmaw-Larket Peace Treaty in the pyre.
  • Protesters clad in red (including Cenrili mayor Uma Abelin) arrived to support Valrae who was to be burnt on the pyre.
  • Bastion declared the curse of Larket’s children was the fault of Vakmatharas, not witches, and pleaded for sanity and mercy.
  • Callum denounced his employer, Queen Josleen.
  • Those closest to Valrae, such as her husband Irenic and friend Meri, mourned from the crowd.
  • Emrith’s attempt to provide Valrae a quick death to spare her suffering was thwarted by Larketian guards.
  • Larewen and Gilwen declared safe havens for witches in Vailkrin and Sage respectively.
  • Not all were against the King and Queen of Larket. Eirik pledged his loyalty (ooc hot tip: with ulterior motives) and many in the crowd and on the stage believed the execution to be just.
  • With her dying breath, Valrae denied she or any witches were responsible for the curse on Larket’s children, then used her power to erupt the fire into an emerald blaze that would consume the square before it was extinguished by guards.

Larket Town Square

Fort staff arrived long before the event to secure the area and prevent any revolutionary ideas about rescuing violent criminals from their well-deserved death sentences. Larketian Guard, mages and warriors, alike dot the streets throughout the city, from high and low, from every alley, to control pedestrian traffic and ensure the execution goes smoothly. Residents and visitors alike are mildly hassled by guards as they enter the square. Rules for entry: No missile weapons, only one melee weapon, magic-users are to stand to the right under the watchful eye of a small squad of anti-mages. Overhead, a mage-guard circles the city on wyvern-back. No expense was spared. Several entreprising vendors sell meats, roasted nuts, candy, and witch-burning figurines among the crowd. On a raised stage, a vertical post has been driven into the ground above a pile of kindle. Behind the stage stands a dais with two tall gold-painted thrones beneath a luxurious canopy (in case of rain). The thrones are flanked by other high-backed, gold-painted by shorter chairs for special guests. At the appointed hour, the Royal Entourage arrives first--of note: Headmaster Percival of the Larket Academy of Magic and his partner Ascor de la Ranta (local fashion designer), Lady Augusta Jauzon (the King’s mother), the Royal Doctor Julius and two of his staff, the Royal Botanist Callum, several members of the Larketian nobility, and from Frostmaw, Queen Hildegarde and Steward Lionel. Prominent Kingsguard flank the King and Queen as they enter. King Macon dons his typical Rage Armor, a tarnished silver shell that makes him seem like he is back to his bulky self after his weeks long brush with death, allegedly orchestrated by the woman set to die today. Color and life has also returned to the Fury Knight’s face, perhaps by virtue of some make-up or an illusionist hired for this public appearance. He carries his well known great axe like a walking staff, with the newly crafted (courtesy of Muzo, but shh, that’s a secret) Rage Stone socketed into the center of the axehead, glowing faintly red in the overcast daylight. The marble crown of Larket is atop his head, heavy and impractical as always. On his arm is his wife, Queen Josleen, in heavy wintry gown of silver and Larketian purple with white fur trimming. Black is for mourning, and today there is no death worth morning. Her crown is not made of marble (she hasn’t the neck muscles for that, yeesh), but pale gold filigree and purple gems. Prince Guillem and Prince Gigi (the poodle) are not in attendance. As Macon seats Josleen, she squeezes his hand and flashes a somber smile. With a look she privately celebrates with her husband the justice they are accomplishing here today. Finally the witch behind the atrocities committed against their family and their city will fall, and at last those who doubted them when they blamed witches will see that they were right all along.

Callum :: Rain? Who said something about rain? As the monarchy and their staff filed onto the stage and take their seats, a cool breeze blew, and with it brought first just a sprinkle and then soon a steady flow of rain--it wasn’t quite a downpour, but it was enough to be a nuisance. The Royal Botanist was a solemn statue, more or less, dressed in his finest black suit and waistcoat and that signature green shirt of his. Not an ounce of emotion showed, but those that knew him well enough knew differently. While a drizzle went on outside, there was a maelstrom within that he could not contend with. Here he was, a witch supporter, seated with the real murderers. Such anger and sadness swirled around in his mind, but he didn’t let it show--letting it show meant he was a sympathizer. He couldn’t even reveal how upset he’d been about the fight him and Meri had had before the event was to take place. -Of course- he had to sit with them. He couldn’t not. Their frakking lives depended on it. He stared past the spike in the ground, willing himself to think of something else that wasn’t eternally tormenting like an upset girlfriend or the fact that his assistant was about to die. But there was nothing else. The last thing he had was his botanical gardens that he loved almost as much as he did Meri, but Chisel’d long since destroyed it, and any semblance of happiness with it. So, instead, he stared at nothing and dwelled and waited for the end. It wasn’t his end, but it sure did feel like it.

Hildegarde had only heard of the planned execution as rumour at first, largely because she refused to accept it as a reality. Larket – a civilised city! – burning a woman at the stake? It didn’t seem possible. Apparently, it was. Hildegarde had ventured down to Larket as an invited guest: not here as a diplomat or an objector of the execution, but as a witness to events that would forever change the course of Larketian history. Like Frostmaw, Larket’s history was soaked in blood and likely would always be stained by it. Walking onto the dais made her feel like she was sleep-walking, given the way she aimlessly trudged up onto it and found her seat as the rain came from the heavens above. The rain. It was the only thing that might make this day feel a little bit more bearable, that and the cool wind: it was reminiscent of home, of Frostmaw. Whilst she sat upon the dais of nobility, she clutched her halberd and stared out at the crowd wondering just how many of them might find themselves in a similar position as Valrae soon. Who was a witch? Who would be burned next? Who would the Queen and King of Larket look at with a torch in hand and a mob at their back? Hildegarde’s heart was still, the mechanical monstrosity forever silent in that armoured chest of hers but she wished for it to be thundering right about now; the stillness made her feel like a monster, it made that sickly feeling in her gut seem all the worse. There was something so hideously wrong with this, so wrong indeed that she could not stop herself from looking to Josleen and then to Macon; to anyone on the dais who might also think this is absolute madness and ought to be stopped! Surely if Valrae were guilty, there would be other ways to deal with this? The Silver sincerely hopes her Steward has been seated next to her so she might reach slightly and gently place the tip of her pinky finger against his forearm.

Meri :: It was often that Meri was actually outright mad at Cal, but today was one of those days. Cal was really going to sit up there in the dias? While Valrae was being executed? They even had some back and forth on this issue before arriving. Cal probably explained his reasoning several times over and Meri likely could not come up with a sound argument against what he was saying, but she was still upset. Her friend was to be executed and bae was right up there next to the King and Queen who wanted her dead. Okay suuuure, Valrae poisoned the King, but that was in response to what again? This madness against witches? Oh yes, they probably went round and round over this one. The trip here was probably an awkward one, Meri was unusually silent. The rules were followed, Meri brought her one melee weapon -- because she learned from the last time she went somewhere entirely unarmed. She was a psion, not a mage, and thus did not bother with standing in the area designated for magic users but if for some reason one of the Larket's guardsmen felt that Meri should be herded in that direction, she would not cause a scene. It made Meri sick, how much of a spectacle this was becoming. Witch-burning figurines? She was amongst the group of people that would do a lot of things to make that coin, but even she had her limits. Meri was just one of the many anxious faces within the crowd.

Lionel | Unless one counts battle as a public hearing, Lionel hasn’t been seen or heard from within Frostmaw’s court or anyone else’s for several weeks. Not since Kahran made his declaration in Cenril has Lionel O’Connor found cause to broach political matters but for the broad side of his sword. It’s cruel, then -- and certainly unusual -- that he should be in attendance for this. The one thing Lionel has thought of Larket is that old wounds must be healed, or at least disregarded, between their two countries if there is to be a united force against the threat which sweeps the continent. But he’s been plagued by uncertainty; he still wonders whether Macon might be a pawn on Kahran’s board, wittingly or otherwise, and he will never openly support a regime with such savage practices toward an entire class of people. The world, as it happens, isn’t black and white, but grey, and if Lionel wants his truest enemies dead he has to live and breathe in that grey. The raindrops slipping down his dark cloak soak his hands and steel his nerves all the more so. He feels Queen Hildegarde’s touch upon his forearm, but it’s no comfort in the sight of a pending blaze. No, it can’t be. Nothing can. Lionel’s face is all scowl and loathing. His breathing is erratic enough that he’ll appear rather restless to any who might look his way. Kahran be damned; Macon’s Larket will never be his friend.

Kanna || This wasn't happening. The three words repeated in her head as she was forcefully dragged out from her playing area on the rubbled shop just southwest of there. This isn't happening, she thought as she entered the square to find people lining up to view an execution, and to see the various vendor stalls crudely painted with anti-witch named items. This isn't happening, she thought as her large rucksack (with all her instruments inside) was torn from her and she was shoved into a semi-circle of what seemed to be other magic-users. This isn't happening. A gentle rain had begun to fall, and Kanna crossed her arms to keep herself warm as the drizzle slowly flattened her curls to her face. How horribly rude, why was it that only the magic-users were being made to stand away from the safety of the various storefront awnings? And why her, when she was just a visitor? Within her time in Larket, people had been rather rude to her, calling her a lesser-witch and more profane things she willed herself not to think of, but to be forced to witness a magic-user's execution...! Her teeth clenched as she forced her gaze onto the gazebo. In the distance, she could see a few vaguely familiar faces, but they seemed to disappear when she tried to lean over to get a better look.

Larewen has no business here, especially with reports of civil war in the streets of Vailkrin. Perhaps, were it any other witch, the necromancer might be less inclined to see their execution. But alas, Larewen has heard of this one; she has wiped memories of Valrae from Irenic once, and thus unsurprised when she'd heard of their union. The heart wants what it wants - Emrith is proof enough of that. When the necromancer arrives, it is upon the back of an undead steed, its eyes alight with verdant fire. She does not come alone, for on either side she is flanked by guards adorned with the crest of House Dragana. They are undead and loyal to her cause, unwavering in their support and unwilling to leave the rebellious Lady unguarded - much to her chagrin. Perhaps, most surprising of all, is the fact that the banshee is once more within her body. Today, she has donned the very clothes she wore to her own assassination: that tattered and unrepaired bustle gown, stained with blackened spots. Beneath the edge of an ebon veil, her lips are pursed into a thin line and mismatched eyes are fixed upon the Larketian rulers with a bitter stare as she dismounts, guided to the group set aside for casters. Her guards follow, and very much do put up a scene, should there be any attempt to sway them otherwise. After all, the necromancer has earned her reputation. Her features are drawn in disgust, perhaps in part due to the nullifying magic, which taxes her body directly and in manners most magic users wouldn't suffer. Her arms curl around her waist, gloved finger-tips beating a soft cadence against the bones of her corset. Sensing her frustration, the two that accompany her - now stripped of all weapons but their swords - shift nearer and she hisses audibly at them. The rain does little to help her already belligerent mood and it certainly does nothing to quench the thirst of that simmering fire within her chest. Ah, yes. The oddities of having a beating heart yet again.

Emrith Kohl has never yet found a gathering or domicile to which he cannot gain silent entry if he wishes, and today, it would seem, is no exception. Prior to this engagement, he had swallowed a vile concoction, a draught he had used to great effect in the war for Sage Forest when stealth was of the highest importance; the mixture is doing its level best to suppress any latent heat signature he might otherwise have been projecting. A smudge of dirt on each cheek, augmented with a little magic of his own devising, ensures that his scent, too, is masked, turned effortlessly into the smell of road dust so as not to alarm those with keen olfactory talents that someone unknown is in their midst. The constant rain, too, is his friend, turning soil to mud in no time at all and giving the entire area a low yet somehow fecund funk. Emrith's light-bending cloak is fully active as well, as are his boots. He is invisible and silent, the perfect wraith. He keeps close to Larewen, senses finely tuned so that he does not brush someone and set off a panic by accident. The only weapon on his person is a single small dagger with a ruby embedded in its hilt, clutched tip-down in his right fist. He knows why this gathering is taking place - one would have to be living under a rock not to have gleaned at least this much - and he has his own plans. If he could steal the Rage Stone from King Macon's crown, if he could infiltrate Trist'Oth twice - first to rescue Skylei Lucindio and her friends, and then again to help incite mayhem - then this, by comparison, should be a simple matter. If a death is to take place today, then perhaps the method of execution will say more than the loss of life. There are many, many ways to raise questions in the minds of a spectator, and to usher those questions to still more lips which cannot be silenced. Emrith takes up a position with a clear sightline to the stage and its burning-post, muscles tensed, weapon ready in his hand.

Nasada :: Raevyn had been planning on passing through. She had no intention nor care of seeing what this damned town was up to. After that dreadul day that ended with her being labeled a witch and nearly being killed by an unruly mob, she had no interest in what sort of sick perversions this town held. Yet, as she tried her best to keep her features concealed by large tattered commoner robes and a blonde wig, as she tried her best to keep those yes on the ground as she walked, a nearby commotion would draw the young girl's attention. Another gathering? Another mob? Another taste of fear wrought justice? "Oooh. A show! Can we go boss, can we go?" came the voice of the woman's bodyguard, whose face was concealed by a burgandy bandana. "Baelok. Please. We're here to pass through." she tried to reason. It wouldn't matter though, as Baelok would soon be taking a detour toward the growing crowd, leaving the young neophyte to trail along. When they found a suitable place to stand and observe the ongoing festivities, Raevyn clued into what was now taking place. Her heart began to thump and she began to feel ill, a gentle tug now pulling at the sleeve of the undead's duster. "Come on Baelok. We shouldn't be here. What if-" To which he replied, "Relax, fleshbag. Just give it a couple minutes. She probably ain't home anyway. She's probably here in the crowd. Try and spot her." With a sigh, the scared girl began to survey the crowd for the one she had originally come to visit.

Blut entered the crowd in his civilian gear. Wraps around his eyes and the grandeur of all the people here made it very easy to grasp that something important was happening. He heard rumors and whispers that a witch was going to be executed. Why however it was none of his business nor his interest but something always happens with these events. Somehow some way he could tell something was going to go wrong. After all this is Macon we are talking about. Blut was aggressively stopped by the guards not noticing he was blind. Managing to convince them that he could not cast magic (because he can't now) The guards let him by with only his silver dagger. People looked at him questioningly as to why a blind man came to see a execution. Truth be told amongst this mass of mediocrity and even with all this anti magic gear Blut could still make out some powerful magic users in the crowd by the sheer quantity of their mana alone.

Hudson | On the magic user side of the crowd are Hudson's secretary Joanie and Cenril Mayor Uma, who is in disguise as she had formally RSVP'd as 'not attending' to this event - for diplomatic reasons, of course, she'd been invited to sit on the dias - on account of a conflict. (Low key, the 'conflict' happens to be that Cenril is critical of the Crown's treatment of witches, and this public execution in stereotypical witch hater fashion is unhelpful.) "Sad," pronounces Uma as as she gazes on the witch-burning figurine vendors, her voice barely carrying beneath the hood of her red cloak. Joanie is also in red. Actually, nearly all the witches here tonight are in red. And many non-witches too. Tychus, lurking at the fringe of the square, is in red. There's a palpable hostility in the air. // For his part, Hudson is not here. He is laid out on his sofa in his office in Cenril, not working but smoking and thinking about a disarming woman he once met on a beach. He holds the memory in his mind like a hologram, as if, were he to gaze at it from the right angle, he might see it all leading to this. Hudson wonders what Irenic's doing right now. Then he wonders what his wife's doing, if she even knows that the execution is happening. He thinks probably she does. He makes plans to get take out later and pretend like nothing happened.

Macon steps out in front of where the fire will be lit that will burn Valrae down, the rain pitter-pattering against the platemail covering his body, loud to him, all but silent to the murmuring crowd that half boos and hisses, and half welcomes him warmly as their wonderful hero king. A pair of guards lead a bound and gagged Valrae out, trailed by the executioner and a fort staffer carrying an umbrella for the lit torch to be used soon. “This witch ‘as confessed t’impersonating The Queen of Larket, and t’my attempted assassination. Unsuccessful!” He glares at the crowd as if to assure them, ‘that’s right. I can’t be killed,’ then continues while Valrae is tied the the post where she is set to meet her fiery end. “Thanks t’the abilities and brilliance of our best Larketian medical minds and mages.” He extends his free hand outward and looks towards the dais, some fort medical staff, Callum, and Percival specifically. The doctors seem proud enough of their fine work, while the headmaster of the magic academy simply nods and gives a very quick wave to the crowd before shrinking slightly away from the recognition. “What’s more, she ‘as confessed t’attackin’ the queen with witchcraft, and incitin’ riots tha’ ‘ave claimed the lives of hundreds of Larketians!” He growls this latest crime out and sneers at the thought of it and what he has still to add. His voice calms, but still booms out over the crowd, “She and the other witches seeking to make this kingdom crumble are responsible for the curse that is killing and has killed so many of our Larketian children. This witch has threatened my son and all of your sons and daughters alike. This is The -Red- Witch of the rebellion!” He spits the title Valrae had told him out with bile, emphasizing the color as he doesn’t want to miss the chance to point out the likely revolutionaries in the crowd to the rest of the Good Larketians. “This is the face of the revolution!” That last word dripping with hate, he continues, “They claim t’fight for the people. For you!” He snaps, sending out a pulse of grating, invisible Rage Aura into the crowd from himself and the reforged artifact. “Meanwhile they orchestrate disasters and curses, and the ones they say they are fightin’ for, so tha’ they can place themselves in power.” If this list of crimes hasn’t convinced any of the objectors on the dais that Valrae deserves this, it surely has struck a chord with many of those in the standing room only section. The crowd turns with this revelation that the curse on the children has been tied to the revolutionaries. Boos and hisses all but die out, lest someone oust themselves as sympathetic to a bunch of baby killers while the parents of those babies are standing all around them. There are no rotten fruit or vegetables being thrown only because Macon is standing in front of Valrae and he’s about to execute someone, so tossing a mushy apple his way seems ridiculously reckless. “Larket will not stand idly by and be attacked any longer. We, together will rid the kingdom of the murderers and witches wearing the mask of revolutionaries. I will see t’it tha’ this curse is lifted and those responsible will be brought t’justice. This is the beginnin’ of the end for these monsters!” He roars while slamming the butt of his weapon down on the ground, while many start to look suspiciously towards the red-wearing members of the crowd, perhaps anticipating that they might try something to stop the execution that appears about be underway. Macon steps away far enough for some rotten veggies to be thrown towards Valrae without consequence, and the executioner and the umbrella holder step up, with no order to get things lit just yet…

Valrae || Irenic is here with Maude. They're surrounded by stone faced witches and rebellion supporters alike, those who were close to Valrae and the cause she was set to die for dressed in scarlet and crimson colors. Maude is holding onto the metal-winged avian, her face grief stricken and red from days of worry and tears. She's asked him, pleaded with him unfairly, to do something. Anything. Irenic can only hold on to the fragile woman, his own face pinched with sorrow and helplessness, as she cries. Some of the witches closest to them try to help as they coo over the old woman between scowls at guards and royalty and their supporters alike. There is a stillness in the crowd around them, a pervasive soberness rippling through them as the scene begins to unfold. Foresight had many strong armed men near Irenic, mad with terror for his new wife and the fate that was unraveling before them all, and they were made ready to grab the man and restrain him when the time came. Not if, only when. His mind is fogged with shock and pain. The pain of his own heart and the physical pain he felt phantoms of through the soul bond he shared with Valrae. Was there truly nothing he could do? Had he not pulled her from this fate once before? He could not, would not watch her die. His mind presses uselessly against the reality of the situation, the unfairness. They'd lost so much time already, fought so hard to regain his memory. Irenic looks to the sky. They wanted a life, they'd built a life. How could this happen? How is this fair? The only answer for him is the rain.

Valrae || They traded her tunic for a white robe. The simple cotton fabric was loose and ill fitting, covered most of the marks of torture, and a painful contrast to the rest of her. She is gagged, her hands bound tightly behind her despite the odd angle her broken arm takes. A feverish sweat has coated her skin, along with the grime of her cell and a battle that had been fought what might have been ages ago. The rain was a welcome coolness against her, it streaked through the filth that covered her skin. In her last days, she'd been denied sleep, water, food. Her hair, once a waterfall of long golden curls, hangs in matted and jagged strands above her shoulders. The witch's face is bruised and swollen, her eyes wide and wild looking as she flinches and stumbles down the path the guards drag her. Valrae's arrival sends a shock wave through sympathizing the crowd, ripping the restraints of grief from them, and the crowd gains animation. It starts slowly, with gasps of shock and dismay as she is drug to her pyre brutally. The gag placed on her mouth is met with shouts of shock and passionate disapproval. "What about last words?!" A witch shouts. Another screams, "You can't silence us all!" and "This isn't fair!" Those who stand with the royals throw things, rotten food, witch figurines, rocks. Others just scream obscenities and spit. Like the mercy of the rain, her eyes find Meri. She hopes her eyes say things like 'I'm sorry', 'I'm afraid', 'Thank you for being my friend' but eyes can only say so much. Valrae struggles to stand more straight as the guards drag her closer to her death. Through the haze of fear and anger her eyes find her husbands. Her knees buckle and the guards are forced to carry down the rest of the crowd lined path. The men who stood ready near Irenic move now, just as the avian does. Maude had also crumpled, into the arms of Glenna and other waiting witches who joined in her tears. Irenic had burst into motion, shoving and elbowing at the men who tried to stop him on his path to his wife. The avian fought and cursed as they held him back, gained a little ground when he surprised them all by smashing his own head into the bridge of one of their noses. But they were on him again, desperate to stop him before he got himself killed too. Eventually, they get hold of him. Helplessly, he shouts her name like a prayer. When they finally have the witch in place, the only thing that keeps her standing are the restraints used to bind her to the pole. She struggles to find the strength to hold her chin high, to stop the tears that stream down her face and leave streaks across her dirty cheeks. She doesn't dare look to Callum, Josleen, anyone watching her death from the dais. As Macon speaks, she looks out toward the crowd with stillness. Some continue to throw things, others scream. "Let us hear her last words, let us hear her last words! She must respond!"

Josleen || Once upon a time a trio of necromancers summoned an evil interplanar demon that attacked Josleen’s hometown of Xalious. One of the necromancers was arrested, but he withheld valuable information. The prison guards sought to torture the information from the necromancer, but Josleen, after some hesitation, begged for mercy and the prisoner’s humane treatment. That girl is not sitting on the dais today. She fled the Hard City after giving birth prematurely to a son three months ago-- a son who today talks, walks, and looks like a five year old boy. Unable to watch her only son die before her eyes, the girl fled the woman whom Macon recognized as his match the day he decided to make her his Queen. Unsmiling, she watches her husband with pride in her chest for all that are accomplishing here today. Valrae’s list of crimes is long, but the Queen only cares about three: the hexed placed on a pregnant Josleen, the attempted assassination of Macon, and the curse which plagues all of Larket’s children, including Prince Guillem. For these reasons, and in particular the last, the Queen isn’t the only person eager to see justice served today. The crowd is also littered with supporters of the King and Queen, who cheer on Macon’s speech and believe that witches must be burned (or else they come back, you know). Few children are in the crowd, but a few have been brought along by intense (irresponsible?) parents who want to show them justice first hand and make sure their kids have the stomach for what needs to be done. One child, who looks about nine but is likely not yet 6 months old since birth, plays with an enchanted Burning Valrae figurine with real action fire! He is ignorant of his curse. His peers are all the same. Josleen inhales sharply and sits upright as she feels Macon’s rage reverberate in her blood. Without intending too, she amplifies his signal so that seated closest to her feel their own particular brands of ire. Some in the crowd protest the execution and demand to hear Valrae speak. If Macon looks in Josleen’s direction, she’ll glower a firm ‘No.’ Her teeth grind and she grips her throne’s armrest until her knuckles blanches. She scratches the wood beneath her polished nails, eager and impatient to see the witch burn.

Callum was all the more upset that Lionel was even here. Sure, Cal got it. It was politics and he was probably made to be here, as he was Steward and all, but shouldn’t he be out ‘fighting the good fight’? You know… Kahran. Bringer of Death and Destruction. The guy that burned Catal--that place that used to be Lionel, and Brand, and Callum’s homeland. But, no. Here he was, and the rain poured a little harder. Callum had half a mind to drown everyone here, including himself, if only to make things a little more bearable right now. Macon was speaking, gesturing in Callum’s direction now, and the rain continued to pour. He heard nothing, and yet everything, the King had said, causing that inner maelstrom to continue it’s toiling, bubbling mess instead of the Royal Botanist’s head. He didn’t nod in acknowledgement like the others had, to the King, merely doing nothing more than make brief eye contact with the usurper, as if to say ‘yeah, I frakking hear you, you monster’--his face didn’t betray these thoughts though. Macon said his part, threatening anyone that even felt an ounce of sorry for Valrae and the rest of the witches, and lightning cracked across the sky, a threat from the heavens. Perhaps the gods themselves heard Macon and didn’t like what he had to say. Perhaps, it wasn’t the storm mage that sat nestled amongst the monarchy of both Larket and Frostmaw. Perhaps what Macon and Josleen were doing was -that- immoral and unjust. Perhaps… perhaps. The witches cried for Valrae to speak. Lightning flashed again. Speak! Speak! Let her speak! It was her right, as human being, as a resident of Larket and the rest of Lithrydel. Everyone had a right, despite what Macon and Josleen decreed. Callum was still ever a picture of stoicism, except the little bit of static that danced along his form thanks to that storm. There were no tears from him, for the sky did the talking for him.

Hildegarde cannot help but notice the number of people dressed in red, almost as if it were a planned protest. Hildegarde gently jabs Lionel’s forearm slightly with her pinky, wiggling it slightly in the direction of some red cloaked viewers. It’s certain he’ll notice it without her guidance, but she’s seen him like this before and cannot help but try to bring his attention to an important aspect of tonight’s execution. Macon’s mention of ‘red witch’ nicely knits together her understanding of the red cloaked protestors. The sight of Valrae is simply shocking: she is clothed in white, a colour of innocence and vulnerability. The butt of Hildegarde’s halberd jerks against the dais by simple reaction, Hildegarde leaning out of her seat to get a more *obvious* look at Josleen and Macon. They cannot truly be doing this, can they? How can they go through with this? Hildegarde addresses her words to those on the dais, perhaps raising her voice only to be heard over the yell of the crowd in the distant hope that her fellow “nobles” might listen, “This is not right. You are going to burn this woman to death,” she reminds them, though she doubts either King or Queen cares for it much. “Surely you could simply bind her magic? Imprison her? Take your pound of flesh and consider justice served!” she protests from her seat in the dais. “This is madness!” she directs towards Josleen, but she does not see Josleen there. Only the Queen of the Hard City. If she or Lionel were to intervene, it would mean all-out war for certain and they are only two against a city of many. “Jos, don’t do this,” she said quietly, hoping against all hope that the girl she had met in Frostmaw tavern and agreed to help so many years ago would still be there.

Meri :: Kanna, this was happening. Much to Meri's dismay and regret this was actually happening. The tattoo'd blonde's mind was twisting and turning with grim thoughts. This felt like a very familiar scenario, one that Meri had hoped that she would not have to relive. It was a different setting but the ending was the same, Meri was going to watch another one of her friend's burn to death. Meri was not one for tears but her blue eyes were already starting to water up, despite her best efforts to keep them contained. There would be moments were Meri would try and covertly wipe those tears away. There are a lot of negative feelings felt for the faces that saw fit to take a seat on the dais, judgements were being passed along in an emotional and illogical manner. Joanie and Uma were spared from this, it was the red that both women were wearing. Meri caught on to that, the meaning behind it, and it drew attention to the fact that the other witches were also in red. This realization came to pass as her blue eyes roamed the crowd to try and observe the number of witch-haters versus supporters. She wanted to see how everyone was reacting to what Macon was saying. The more Meri watched, the more her stomach knotted up. It was getting hard to breath and Meri sort of felt like the contents of her stomach were maybe not going to stay down. The guy standing in front of her was in the danger zone at present. Meri tried to force her gaze back to Valrae just in time to see Valrae looking her direction. Meri may very well have caught the message behind the look, for the normally tough gal was in full-blown tears now. Meri's voice was fast amongst those shouting their protests about this execution. Sorry Cal, Meri did not care about saving face and hiding the fact she supported witches in front of the royalty at this particular moment in time.

Lionel | Contrary to popular interpretation, Lionel doesn’t enjoy dwelling. The trouble is, his whole life swings back and forth between past and present like a jagged pendulum. Seated here, seeing this, takes him back to a time before he was anything but a boy, fresh-come to Lithrydel with a cheap sword and a death wish. Come to think of it -- and of course, Lionel does think of it -- it’s really not too far off from how felt upon his return two years hence. But on that distant fateful first night, the boy Lionel witnessed a warlord called Vyrick execute a man known only as Garr to the mix of cheers and shock of a crowd right here in Larket. It’s a distant memory and it shouldn’t even be bubbling to the surface, but it does. Better to let the past die, irrelevant as it is now, but he can’t. He remembers the rough-spun wool tunic that he wore, he remembers the guards and all their baleful stares, he remembers standing shoved so hard he bruised by the nobles and commoners and street urchins alike as they fought to see that man, that Garr, brought down. Before he knows it, Lionel is standing, just as he stood then… albeit from a much worse vantage point. Macon is speaking now, but if he squints, Lionel sees that long-forgotten warlord instead. He sees Vyrick. He remembers the boy he was, the boy who decided on that bygone night that he would kill that warlord no matter the cost. And it never came to pass. Lionel didn’t kill Vyrick, nor did he kill Macon, and the thought once ran through this man just as fiercely. How could he have turned wayward of that thought? Because of Kahran? Is that why? Or is it something worse, something wretched -- did he manage a lie of convenience? Did he trick himself into thinking the villainy of Larket had vanished? He clenches his gloved fist and he glares down from the dais. No, Lionel never killed Vyrick. Lionel’s destiny, such as lofty narrow-minded thinking might design, was to fight things far darker than all that. Yet the pendulum swings, the past becomes present, and those things -- those terrible damnable things -- have returned through Kahran. Lionel only half-hears Macon’s words, but there’s no mention of the dark forces that so recently blew through this kingdom. No mention of a matter Lionel sternly believes to be far more pressing than all this. There’s no mention at all. Macon, today’s warlord, has chosen politics over prudence. In Lionel’s estimation, this marks him as either a powerful fool or the pawn that he’d feared. Either way, he’s a danger to the realm. If Macon is truly lost, then Lionel’s gaze turns to Josleen. If there is to be any hope for this city it will be through her. Lionel winces at her bitter posture, unaware that his own taut stance and drummed-up painful memories might mirror hers. He cringes at the meaningful doll her son has been given. He cringes at them all, so absorbed with vengeance that they’re blind to the phantom menace. It’s pure cringe. That might have been the end of it if Larket’s Queen hadn’t amplified her King’s ire. But she has. And now Lionel’s anger burns like that sword he replaced the old cheap one with not long after Vyrick slew Garr. The rain falls harder. Queen Hildegarde prods her Steward’s forearm to draw attention to the self-same color that would have been burning through Lionel’s mind tonight with or without the protest. Lionel sees the red. He hears the words of his sovereign, too, and given all the fierceness in his eyes -- fierceness plain to see -- one would be forgiven for assuming he’ll add his own words to the plea. But he’s silent as the crypt. His gaze drifts from Josleen, lost as Macon in this kingdom of madness. He takes a single step forward to the very edge of the dais, daringly. His fingers shake as they grasp the buttons of his cloak, one by one until he’s free to untether himself to its simple black drab. There he stands, on the precipice, eyes locked not on Macon but on the throngs of protesters. His regal red uniform is as red as a hellish setting sun and his slacks match the shade to a tee. Kanna turned to see the commotion going on behind her and shrunk a few steps back at the sight of the undead guards. Cornflower blue eyes stayed fixed on them in fear, until she saw the woman being escorted in. The look of cold anger on her face, combined with the unsettlingly dark outfit, made Kanna's mind race with even more questions. She hadn't even realized she had been staring until the vampiress until it occured to her that the bitter glare was now focused on her. The woman was undeniably beautiful, and could clearly pass for Kanna's age, if the bardess' round, freckled face and curious eyes didn't give off a slightly childish impression. With a slight gasp, Kanna quickly turned to face the gazebo again. Her hands pinched and pulled at the long sleeves of her marigold shirt, a nervous habit. In the crowd, her gaze fixed on something familiar, the end scabbard of a thin sword, with off-white scrapes on the end... Off-white like the city of avians... From being slammed into the stone streets of Schezerade...! Kanna opened her mouth to call out for help, but as soon as she looked again, the familiar figure was gone. Her shoulders slumped slightly, only becoming more fearful with each passing minute. She nearly jumped at the sound of Macon's thunderous voice, focusing on the stage. Listening to every word, and seeing the accused's dismayed state, the bardess couldn't help but furrow her eyebrows at the list of crimes. Killing children...! Such horrible crimes did deserve punishment, she thought, but something was amiss that she could not quite place. She had read of many revolutions, but none that would go so far as to target children. There was folklore of it, sure, but never an a real massacre. With the bloodthirsty crowd of supporters on one side, and angered rebels in red on the other, Kanna slowly stepped back until she felt the wet stone wall of a building behind her. Never one for having to hide emotions, the confusion, fear for her own safety without the protection of her magic, and concern for the witch was evident on her face. This wasn't happening. This was... So horribly wrong, she thought as she began to shiver. If what the king of the land had said was true, then why did so many weep for the witch...

Larewen :: Macon's words only further cement the hatred-fueled bile that threatens to rise from Larewen's throat. Words to be spewed and barbs to be thrown, concealed carefully by the gritting of teeth. The necromancer bides her time, watching, waiting, listening to the madness Macon spews. Ha! Wasn't that her duty to the god-forsaken world? Then, his speech finishes and the condemned becomes a target for rotten foods. Her tongue clicks against the roof of her mouth, and she curses the antimages. Curses their presence, though she'd already expected as much. For this precise reason, she'd had the flanking guards memorize her words - three voices in unison speak so much louder than the cry of a single banshee. For, in quite a literal sense, that's exactly what Larewen is doing here. Only her grief is of an entirely different sort. The sort fueled by rage and anger, for this was precisely why the necromancer had sought out Sabrina; this was way she laid out her plans, her opening of her House to witches: to prevent this very thing from happening. Finally, her stare fixes on Queen Josleen as Hildegarde petitions her. It's baffling how much the woman has changed from when Larewen first met her. She struggles to hold her tongue, for much the same reason that the Frost Queen and her Steward have not yet intervened: a war on two fronts is something even proud Larewen the Mad isn't sure her men can handle, and if it can be avoided - if the Silver can persuade another outcome from the two, then perhaps there would be hope. This thought sparks a half-hearted sneer of amusement on her scarred features. The mere idea of the necromancer hoping for and even siding with the greater good is unusual. Quietly, Larewen and her guards push their way toward the front of the magic users gathered. Force is used, when necessary, to skirt past them until the only barrier between the necromancer and the royals is the watchful stare of the antimages. Irenic's desparate bid for his wife touches a part of her that is rarely breached and a few of the antimages nearest the necromancer's location perk up. Yes, they recognize the dead woman, and their nullifying magic intensifies on the elder vampire with a new sort of ferocity. Larewen's hardened stare moves to Hildegarde first, then Lionel as he removes this cape to reveal the red cloth beneath. It is one of the few times that the necromancer agrees with the man. Finally, her stare returns to the King and Queen as her nails rip through the weakened cloth of her gloves. Her mouth could only stay shut so much longer, and it is a fear of that banshee's scream that has at least one of the antimages on edge.

Emrith :: The sight before him is enough to stir Emrith's heart. Whatever her crimes and guilt, the woebegone look of the woman being dragged to her pyre is, in the vampiric elf's opinion, a testament to the madness of the whole ordeal. His lips curve into something halfway between a grin and a grimace as he slowly lifts his right arm, shifting his three-finger grip on the throwing-knife he holds. Around him, people shout and weep, shuffle and throw refuse. Many eyes are glued to the ground, as if by refusing to witness what is about to happen they can somehow lessen its power and import. There is anger here, too, some of it of the raw and honest variety, but much of it characterized by fervour that had seemingly not been so potent a moment before. Feeling his own anger rise - rage at this woman's evident mistreatment rather than on account of her purported misdeeds - Emrith does his best to rein in his feelings; if there is still fell magic working within the city somehow, much as that accursed stone once did, then it would be best if his solitary, anonymous act were not tainted - or perhaps even ruined entirely - from without. Thus, the spell-blade stares directly at his target. He does not intend to assassinate the king, nor the less-armoured queen; even if the angle were better, he has an altogether different motive. Instead, his cool grey gaze is fixed upon the witch, a woman who he may have met once upon a time. Loose white robe, tangled hair, haunted, feverish eyes, a gag to ensure that her words cannot be heard, and that no other truth besides the one proclaimed by the king can be spoken. He feels his muscles tighten another notch, forces himself to relax a little, then gathers his resolve. If Emrith cannot gain her freedom, then he will at least grant her the mercy of a quick, clean execution, which is better than this assorted rabble wishes upon her...to say nothing whatsoever of the aftermath. He cocks his arm, plants his feet, sights along the extended blade of his dagger and then hurls it in a hard, flat plane toward Valrae's throat. All of his vampiric strength and extensive training guide the single, precise attack, and a silently mouthed prayer follows the flashing blade. Any onlooker who happen to catch its flight is apt to see a knife suddenly appearing as if from nowhere, aimed for Valrae's neck, intent on ending her life with one bloody stroke. Perhaps it would have been better to wait, he thinks as he glides forward a step or two, moving almost unconsciously in Larewen's wake. But now seemed like the right time, before further preparations could be made. Some have thrown trash. Emrith, instead, has thrown death.

Nasada :: Raevyn spied not the one she had been looking for, but a few other familiar faces she had come across in her time exploring this land. She would spy the handsome warrior Lionel, the one she met upon that plain in Chartsend. She spotted that kind woman Meri and soon the lightning casting man she had been following when Kahran's forces invaded Larket. She spotted... Larewen? What was Larewen doing here, she pondered. Still, after all that searching, she did not seem to find Artia. Was she home? Did she flee? "Mmm mmm! Love me a barbeque on a rainy day!" Baelok said with a sadistic glee, interrupting the girl's thoughts. Raevyn returned her gaze then to the staging area where the main players of this festivity were gathered, her attention focused on the 'witch' that was singled out by that evil man just weeks ago. The torture endured was quite evident if those bruises were anything to go by. And when she heard the king speak, well, there was a silent rage bubbling beneath the girl's sorrowful expression. "How can so many stand by and do nothing?" she whispered to her guardian. "Most are fear driven idiots. You feel it dontcha? That contempt? That hatred? Bask in it, sweetheart. Realize that for as long as you live, these are the sorts you live amongst." Raevyn looked upon Baelok with a glower. She saw through him and what he was attempting to do. She would not feed into, nor acknowledge his words; Even though in her heart, that rage told her he was right. No sooner had she made claim did some semblence of hope began to emerge this afternoon, as the cries of those who now made protest stole the necromancer's attention. She thought about joining those in red and their calls for for the woman to be let free, but thought better of it lest she give herself away. She was already in trouble as it were. Those deadened blues turned toward Hildegarde next, who seemed to be speaking to the king and queen of Larket. Although she could not hear clearly over the shouting of those nearby, the girl would assume by the look on the Frostmawian queen's face that she was one of the few of rational minds upon that dais- Until she sets her sights on Lionel once again. It was that red outfit. It clashed against the backdrop upon which he stood, and she could only wonder- Was he too part of this rebellious protest? To be so brazen about it, to show defiance to those that would host him and the queen he served- Well, that was admirable. "Stop makin' googly eyes, ya twit. Be ready, 'cause something's up." While the undead guardian was a complete and utter ass, he was at least observant and did his job.

Blut looked around listening intently to the peech of the king. He could see the rage aura around the crowd around the people. He could even feel it's influence but that was only half the battle. Blut looked around to find a rather strong surge of mana clearly more active then then the onlookers. Blut could identify there was someone trying to pull something so he started to move closer to the exit. Regardless of the shenanigans that occur he will be the first one out.

Hudson | Joanie is among those witches who shouted for Valrae's last words to be heard. The chants are carried like a chorus, the red cloaks are roiling under the rage contagion. But the momentum is stopped by the flash of something metal, and a clanging sound as a well-aimed dagger is deflected away from its intended target by an invisible force. The guards mobilize to find the assailant, and the crowd turns into itself: What happened? Too bad instant replay isn't a thing. Uma all this while has been silent. She had watched Irenic be subdued, but now she shifts her focus to the magic roiling around them, the suppressive magical energy being directed at Larewen and her followers. Uma closes her eyes, feeling the tendrils of her own magic slip between the antimage net cast over the group, the gag in Valrae's mouth be tugged loose, the condemned woman's voice amplified for all to hear.

Eirik had been running behind - fighting himself over the thought of actually watching this. The lycan, finally arrives and takes his place upon the dias in a high backed chair that has been dedicated to the witch killer, the torturer; the man who helped capture Valrae. He is a newly cursed member of society and he’s not even Larketian! His spot had been granted for other reasons. Nay, for Eirik had been standing by the King and Queen through all of this. A monster made man. An imitation at best, stuck upon the evils of his past. However, he can’t contain the curse he has received from Valrae. His mind awash in guilt, still twisting through his own self righteous crimes. Silver eyes watch the scene with anticipation, though still feeling guilty for the death Valrae is about to receive. At Macons recanting of her crimes he merely closes his eyes. What have I done, Eirik thinks? No spare glances are thrown elsewhere. There is nothing that he can do here. Larkets guard were ready to quell any type of uprising. He is helpless to watch and drown in the empathy that sticks to his tongue like liquid honey. There’s no way that Queen Hildegarde would try to intervene would she? He thinks upon this topic further after her petitioning is heard. Even if she did, he doesn’t deserve to stand by her side. Nay, for today, Eirik sits in a place of his own choosing. A personal hell - upon the dias - cursed to feel empathy for the Red Witch. How perfect, he thinks. The rain. The Lycan narrows his gaze on Valrae, propping both elbows onto his knees while leaning forward. He can’t look away, no matter what else is happening.

Bastion had much to say, and the butterflies in his stomach were fierce. But he had things that needed to be said, many things... and surely Josleen would not deny him his say. A little boy with a pink bow on his back, distressed with black runes, would come to stand fearlessly among the guards that kept all away from Valrae, looking out among the crowd, wine pink eyes shining with tears. And he would be allowed to do so... oddly enough. He looked Valrae with a sad little smile, bidding her hold her silence for a moment longer. He had his eyes up to the dais, where Josleen and Macon sat, then back down to the people. He looked to Hildegarde, standing tall, wondering if she was prepared for such violence as may be born here. He knew of her, if he didn't know her personally... if any would suffer the brunt of the masses anger, though, it would be he. He looked to Eirik, a shy, private smile reserved for the man. He knew something of his struggles, could see them in his eyes. He stood between Valrae and the crowd, accepting whatever rotten food they would continue to throw upon himself. He looked like a cherub, for true, small and innocent, though stricken with grief. He looked back to Valrae, to her severe condition, and to the pyre that was to be her end, then to the witches that howled at the injustice. Then, to the true demographic of his address... to the people. "Many of you know me. In the aftermath of Kahran's attack, I aided many of you. Many of your loved ones. Some of you are alive because of me. I also aided witches. Healed them, protected them. Helped them escape. I spurned none who came to me." He pointed out among the crowd. "I address today the truth. It is of my vows, Poverty, Peace, and Truth. I bear no coin, not for myself, I do no harm, to no living soul, and I tell no lies. I hold all trust in confidence. Never have I broken these vows, never will I. And never will I sit idly by and do nothing while fear and rage and deceit rule the day." There was pain in his expression, but his voice was loud, demanded attention, demanded empathy. He'd been trampled by much of this very crowd in a mob attempt to lynch a witch, few of which had any wish to see him hurt. "Vakmatharas Jar is the source of the curse. I thought it odd, watching the twisting and turning of its magic, watching it spread all across the land, not just Larket. In every major population area, it did something different, something drastic and unbelievable." He went off to list every major city in Hollow, and their different, synchronized curses. Not just Larket... Cenril, where people mysteriously vanished. Chartsend, who suffered a plague. Frostmaw, where even frost giants seemed suddenly afflicted by chill. Schezerade, where avians suffered a solar allergy. Vailkrin, where spirits seemed caught in some twisted loop, Rynvale where thirst is endless. He believed there were more, but these had been all the places he'd been able to visit. Each one's troubles started at the very same time Larket felt their suffering begin, at the hands of this curse, this curse no one seemed able to battle." He looked out over the people, his eyes dripping tears steadily, now. Something about him, something -glowed-. Cherry blossom petals fell all around him, staying where they landed, remaining quite real. He had a natural charisma... people liked him, trusted him, listened to him, as though compelled by forces far beyond their understanding. He had the ability to sway the hearts of the many. "Look at you all! You are blinded by fear, and grief! You reach out for not justice, but salvation! But if you step any further, it will be redemption you beg for, and it may fall on deaf ears! There is a darkness spreading. Children are here! Your children! Here to watch a woman burn alive! A woman tortured, and dragged out for public spectacle! Is this madness justice? I swear to you, there are better ways. This woman defended herself, and those she cared about. What atrocities would any of you commit for those you held dear?" His eyes locked with Josleen's, then. "How far would you go to protect the ones you love? Would you look around you, find the lies where they hid, at any cost?" His eyes turned back to the crowd. "Because their is deception, here. It is everywhere, it is a grotesque, roiling clowd, thick and gaining momentum. It turns you against eachother, and against those who would champion your causes and beliefs. The deceiver, it wants you to suffer. Your suffering gives it power. Your fear, and the violence it spurs, it draws power from all of this! You feed the very wolf poised above you, ready to consume you all. I am here now, not because I am on the witches side. I am on yours, the people's, as I have been since I took my vows, as a peasant monk. I work alongside the people, I share their labors, share their joys and sorrows, share their woes, wherever I travel. And most of all, I champion their needs, against tyrants and bandits and all who would prey upon them. I have seen many tyrants, and I have seen many bandits." He did not address Macon in any way, did not even look at him. Here wasn't the place to call out such a thing, here wasn't the time. "Kahran seeks to weaken Larket. He will strike again. Larket needs solidarity, but not through fear, not through terror and violence." His little voice, so powerful, was cracking under the weight of this great pressure. "Please, good people. Kind people. Stop, before it is too late. Before you wake up one day, and realize the atrocities you have abided, and committed. Before you're so thoroughly under the rod and weal of darkness, that you can no longer see the light beyond it. Before you allow darkness to truly consume yourselves, your children. There is another curse upon Larket, not one so easy to see as that that affects you all. Of of blind rage, of mindless violence. Fall not prey to it!"

Gilwen || The Sage elves had enough on their plate as things stood, what was a little more? Gilwen, alongside Maegus and Syelnar, stood forefront of the crowd, surrounded by a cluster of ten elven guards. All were dressed in matching red cloaks, all defiant in the face of this injustice. While the other two elven elders had chosen to remain silent, Gilwen had taken up the chant with the other witches, demanding that Valrae be given a chance to speak, as well as shouting the injustice of it all. Despite the rain, and their sodden clothes, the elves were intent on showing their support for those wronged by the current monarchy.

Josleen stares at Hildegarde in disbelief. She knows The Silver is merciful to a fault. Queen Hildegarde famously let the usurper Balgruuf live after Frostmaw’s civil war. But nonetheless she is surprised that Hildegarde would interfere with Larketian justice once again. Last time Frostmaw tried to impose its values on Larketian justice, it led to a war. But beyond politics, Josleen is surprised because one of Valrae’s crimes in particular is so acutely evil and has nothing to do with politics: she has confessed to cursing children and unborn babes. “Queen Hildegarde,” Josleen says for the benefit of the crowd, though she wishes she could address Hilde as a friend. She wishes to plead with Hilde to understand her husband’s reasoning, but instead she must, as a Queen in a public setting, support her King. What more, she wants to. “You are invited here as a dignified and cherished guest to witness the triumph of good over evil. Yes, evil, for the hexing of innocent babes and the unborn cannot be described as anything but evil. What more, this witch showed no mercy when she attempted to end the King’s life. You ask for a mercy she has not earned and would not reciprocate were the tables turned.” That’s when Lionel stands, and Josleen glances for a guard to intervene before he does anything violent. They stand down when he protests from the dais in red. Not a good look for the Larketian dais, but better to allow it than risk inflaming a war by arresting Frostmaw’s Steward. Headmaster Percival shouts in response to Lionel’s stunt, “This is madness!! A world gone soft to evil is a world soon enslaved by it!” Josleen and a few of the nobility glare at Bastion’s speech. He’s wrong, in their opinion and fact-set, and so they see him a nuisance derailing justice because he is poorly informed. A noble woman shouts back, “The witch has confessed!” The Queen looks to the executioner then King expectantly. Let’s get on with this.

Macon can see in the crowd something that not very many others are capable of seeing, or would bother to see. He can see into Larket’s future. One, that thanks to this curse, has lost an age group. A time, in just a few years where there are only teenagers and toddlers, with no native born Larketians filling out the space inbetween. It isn’t so dramatic as losing a generation, but Larket has already had youth, and childhood stripped from it, and this hurts the king, he feels for his people as well as his son, and it wounds his pride that he has allowed this to happen to them under his watch. Even his worst critics should find it difficult to say that this Rage Knight does not love his kingdom. The King of Larket ignores the calls from the crowd to let Valrae speak. He has made up his mind, without looking to Josleen for her opinion on the matter, that he has heard everything this woman has to say. She claims to know the curse killing Larket’s children and will not divulge a way to stop it. She deserves no last words, and the Larketian parents in the crowd likely think the same, expressing their distaste for any humanity being allocated for the woman responsible for their children’s suffering. However, in his focus on the crowd and the look from Josleen to get on with things, he misses the gag slipping from Valrae’s mouth. Hildegarde gets a smattering of boos and obscenities thrown at her. They don’t forgive her, or Lionel, shoving his red clothes in their faces, for the war, brief as it was, and the Larketian soldiers they killed. Now they speak out against their king and queen, for another killer of Larketians? This cannot be. Why are they even here? How can they side with a confessed murderer? If someone tried to kill Hildegarde right now, would they not seek swift justice? The parents of Larket’s cursed children see only hypocrites from Frostmaw grandstanding because of some grudge against their hero king that saved them from the fermin and is trying to save them from the witches. Someone tries to kill Valrae early with a dagger, must be one of the Larketians that hate her so much. Not unexpected or brilliant of them, Macon thinks, so the attempt is shrugged off as something that was bound to happen and well planned for. The Rage Knight is somewhat appalled by the amount of people who choose to overlook the crimes of what is essentially a mass child murderer so they can protest the Crown’s methods. Larket is still with him in majority however, as they are the ones suffering at the hands of the witches and revolutionaries. So when Bastion steps up, the cries of Valrae’s confession ring out, but really, even if what he says is true, while this exonerates her from her most heinous crime, attempted regicide is enough for death in Macon’s Larket. The lamb-man’s inherent, perhaps unnatural charm buys him enough time to get the words out, but right after, with the crowd shouting him down, the guards close in and rough him up a bit before getting him off the platform by as forceful means as are necessary. With that, Macon sends a nod towards the executioner. It’s time…

Valrae had never been one for public speaking before. It's strange how much a year could change things. She's had her own braveheart moments now, standing in front of a crowd of people who looked at her with fear in their eyes and hope in their hearts. She'd used her words to rally a broken people together, to forge the fear and anger and desperation into a weapon that could be used against the overwhelming power and influence of the enemy. The crown. The roar of the crowd is muted in her ears, as if her head were being held underwater. She doesn't hear the Queen of Frostmaw, she doesn't see it's steward's daring and moving stand of solidarity, she can't guess at Callum's storming emotions or his effect on the weather. The witch can only be thankful, the last moments of her short life, that she has rain on her face and a few good people at her back. She's thinking of her loved ones, of the people who were her friends and family. She's thinking of the adventure and purpose filled life she's lived. She's thinking of how luck it was to have lived and loved and laughed, no matter how short her time. Bastion's words weren't lost on Valrae though she knew it would be too late. The torch bearing executioner was eager, antsy from the boiling crowd. When a dagger flashes towards them all he drops his flame, without even the nod from his king. And so, when the gag slips from her mouth and the fire erupts at her feet, the dagger that would carry a quick death is thwarted, she has a little to say. "An it harm none," She screams the witches creed above the crowd, her voice boosted by Uma's magic. "We did not curse your children! Our children age too and we perish with them for this crime we did not commit." There it was, her one last thumb to the King and Queen of Larket. She told the truth and it would ring true. Not all witches were being excused from the strange child affecting curse. But the fire spreads quickly, Valrae can feel the heat painfully on her skin as the wicked peaks of flame dance higher. She doesn't look down. "I have lived a life worth living. For my people I die a death worth dying." The fire reaches her now, spreading like an animated stain on the cotton of her robe, and her words are punctuated with her screams. Her body writhes, heedless of her injures, against her restraints. The fire spreads and Valrae screams until she is no longer able and the fire climbs higher. In desperation, the pain maddening and indescribable, the witch gathers power. It stagnates the air like a thick fog, palpable to those near the flames, or like a thunderstorm ready to break. In a final act of defiance, Valrae screams as she releases that power. The flames that consume her body flare, grow to dangerous heights and turn emerald green. In a brilliant flash, Valrae's body is burned. The witch's fire would leave nothing but ashes... And it starts to spread.

Callum :: All around Callum, protests were flying about. From Meri. From Lionel. From practically the entire crowd. Even from Hildegarde herself. There was a lot going on, a lot to take in, and the urge to choose a side was overwhelming as all frakking hell. But, he -had- chosen a side already… hadn’t he? He chose a side when he took this frakking job from Josleen and he hated it. He hated that it made Meri upset. He hated that it had made Valrae initially hesitate towards him. He hated that everyone that he came in contact with doubted him because of it--because of -them-. More lightning made itself known and soon, despite all the things that had been said by Josleen, Callum Erikk Rochester took a stand, and a side. It wasn’t Josleen’s side. “This is absolute frakking insanity, Josleen. I understand there has been things done, but it’s been on both sides! You hired that frakking snake and he vivisected a girl! An innocent girl and you’ve not even done a thing about it since! She wasn’t even a frakking witch!” Callum moved to stand next to Lionel, for he had no red of his own to wave (what he wouldn’t give for a little bit of that fire of Brand’s right now), and gave the Larketian Queen his oceanic-blue stare, “It wouldn’t even matter if she was because it’s not right. Everyone deserves fair trial, even the witches. -You- would’ve gotten one if I hadn’t saved your gorram arse with that antidote. Your innocence with Macon’s poisoning doesn’t make up for all the other horrid things you’ve done.” For once lately, Cal was able to use his words. He used them, and he used them well, adding a hint of spite here, and a dash of hatred there. But, his thoughts came too late. Valrae’s cries came from the stake and that witch’s creed struck him to his very core. Valrae, his assistant, was gone… and the rain stopped. The rain stopped and allowed the fire that was left to rage on. Angry thunder boomed overhead, lightning crackled and struck the ground here and there in various parts of the city, giving way to more fire. Kahran had wanted this city to burn, and now Callum did as well. Frak his house, his gold, and his plants.

Hildegarde cannot deny Lionel is right to protest, though she wishes she had perhaps been a bit more coordinated so she too could protest with red! Alas, she must do what she must. As Bastion attempts to appeal to the crowd, Hildegarde’s sole eye is locked upon Josleen as she desperately searches for some trace of the friend she longs for. ‘No’ is all she can breathe as Josleen reminds her of her position as a guest and nobility, nothing more. That is all they are to one another now: opposing Queens on the chessboard of life. The Silver can only offer Josleen a heartbroken and brief smile before she must focus upon her duty; she cannot free or intervene in the execution of Valrae without beginning war which is simply not an option with the looming threat of Kahran. As the pyre is ignited, Hildegarde rises from her seat entirely and approaches Lionel to whisper something into his ear as her hand digs around in her coat pocket only to eventually withdraw a rolled piece of parchment. Valrae’s confession seemed to hold some truth to it, but this is something that would need further investigation. Frostmaw, after all, hadn’t been the most engaged in the witch debacle due to the restraining nature of their treaty. “You burn the witch, you burn our alliance,” she states coolly, walking the length of the dais until she is close enough to the lit pyre so she might place the Larket-Frostmaw treaty. Let it burn. Let their alliance and “friendship” burn like the witch was surely about to. The boos, the smattering of abuse and any debris that might be tossed her way is of little concern to the Queen of War, it was the anger of a crowd led by a murderous duo that had no concept of true justice! A duo who were only concerned with one thing in Larket: their own family. The royal family would let nothing harm it, that was true, any perceived threat would be taken out and with Josleen at the helm… well, the wool would be firmly pulled over the eyes of the people. Nothing could be done for Valrae without endangering more lives, but there could be more done to find the real justice in the world. Time would show that, time and strength. Resistance would come. As Valrae’s ashes swirl and mingle into the air, Hildegarde gives Josleen a single look before looking to Lionel and nodding her head before departing from the dais to make her way through the crowd and depart the barbaric scene.

Meri was not amongst the numbers that felt inspired or awed by Lionel's gesture toward the protestors, her heart was a little too broken at present. Nor did she for a second believe that Hildegarde's words would be of any help toward saving Valrae. Josleen soon proved Meri correct on that front. Every other attempt seemed...like it would do more harm than good, in her own eyes. Emrith's attempts would likely elicit a flurry of action from the guards before he got anywhere near close enough to Valrae to execute her. Bastion's words, they are spoken and they are heard - sort of. Meri's attention span is short right now and the woman is only able to keep half and ear on him before her eyes settle back on Valrae. She was not one of the people that Bastion was pleading to anyway, Meri did not want to see Valrae die. The nod to the executioner is given, but Valrae is already burning. Meri forces herself to watch every second of it, Valrae's final words booming loud enough that they do actually register in Meri's mind but they offer no comfort. Valrae was burning, and one of the crimes being held against her she did not actually commit. Did she really even admit to it? Likely Meri may never know the truth of that one. The flames spread even after Valrae is turned to ash, but Meri does not leave. Not yet. She watches on, glad that the rain has stopped. Meri understood why, she would have understood even if Cal hadn't spoken out to Josleen. And he is not the only one on the dais now speaking their parts in this matter, Frostmaw has too now. Meri's heart wasn't much warmed by this in the moment, her friend was still dead, but maybe her death would not be a waste. Maybe there would be hope for the witches yet. Meri wanted to leave, but she wasn't leaving without her other half, who she was staring at now. He might be hard pressed to catch that look, a lot of faces to take note of.

Lionel smirks knowingly at Bastion’s passionate spiel. He’s never seen a man so akin to a goat, but he likes what he’s hearing. Still, attention tends to veer elsewhere during such a heated evening, and Lionel cannot afford to listen to Bastion for long. Not when a certain headmaster is crying foul that this Catalian should see the truth of it. “There’s no softness left in this world, Percival. But evil? Aye, now that’s everywhere.” He sees it coursing through Macon. He sees it claiming Josleen. He sees it clutching the whole throbbing, bleeding city as the Larketian majority casts off Queen Hildegarde and the goat-lad is brought down from his perch. He sees it in the wrongful death of a woman whose final words stir his heart before she burns, first as red as any protester’s garb and then as green as the hottest flames from Hellfire itself. In another life, he ponders, he might have known Valrae far more closely than he could ever have surmised until now. As the emerald fire spreads, Lionel knows her as surely as knows himself. Standing here now with a stalwart Callum on one side of him and a treaty-burning Hildegarde on the other, joined by a thunder so loud it begs to be heard, Lionel fixes Josleen with the briefest of glares before tilting his head to the ashes. She was no Garr, that Valrae. His vision of the past fades away completely. She was something stronger by far. “Valrae,” he says her name for the first time, barely a whisper. It most certainly will not be the last time. He and his allies may never defeat an evil so strong as Kahran even with Macon’s help, but he’ll never seek such aid as stems from the bastards who brought death to that woman. He stares into the inferno, his mind made up, as he moves to watch over Hildegarde in her departure. Let that fire spread.

Blut chuckled at the various acts of protest. Like that got anyone anywhere. If they wanted her free they should have acted. Blut observed the various acts of magic in play. He watched as the witches power build and exploaded the manas residue left over. Blut opens his stopwatch as black sands fly towards it adding the extra time to his own. "Crazy people every last one of them." Blut chuckled to himself as he left.

Larewen finally speaks, her voice altered by her vocal chords for strength should her magic be bound, which it presently is. "You think this is good?" the necromancer calls out over the crackle of flame, her words directed more at Josleen than Macon. A shake of the elf's head follows her question and she clicks her tongue once more against the roof of her mouth. "This is an entirely different level of low, low evil. An atrocity even I wouldn't commit." A breath, unnecessary for life but needed for words, follows. "I will say what needs saying; I will say what I came here for: the Witches of Larket are welcome elsewhere throughout Lithrydel. House Dragana holds its doors open to all that wish to escape this tyranny!" Her mouth cracks open into a wide sneer then, even as the acrid stench of Valrae burning fills her nostrils. "Vailkrin" -spoken as if the city is already hers considering its current civil war- "stands against the persecution of Larket's witches. We know the suffering you endure all too well," she continues, turning now to look at those dressed in red. With the antimages' magic, Larewen's brown eye cannot read the threads of their magic to identify which are witches. "The Dead have been persecuted time and time again, under the guise of what is believed to be the common good; under the guise that we too are inherently evil. I beseech any of you that bear the mark of witch, true or accused, to come to the safety I offer you. To shelter, warm food, and comfort outside the reach of your King and Queen." Her gaze returns to the royals, particularly Josleen, to whom the necromancer shakes her head as she says pointedly, "There was a time I looked to you as a light amongst the darkness, a hope I dared have and greatly respected. Clearly, that time has passed." With those barbed words, the necromancer turns, a click of her tongue engaging the two guards to take up their defensive positions more warily. She leaves the crowd and seeks her nightmare steed, fully intent on returning to House Dragana to ready the spare rooms and beds therein.

Emrith was on the move almost as soon as his knife had left his hand; it can hardly be guaranteed to succeed, but standing by and watching is an excellent way to be caught in a net if an observant individual traces the weapon's flight path back to his general location. Dodging nimbly this way and that, Emrith picks up speed, concentrating both on avoiding agitated onlookers and on the bond he shares with Ilaerothil, his green dragon. She is far, far above, shielded by rainclouds and quite invisible to the naked eye from down here, but Emrith's link to her gives him a fairly accurate idea of where she is. He hopes that his work with the black dye he purchased will prove useful if a wayward eye should catch a glimpse of her; a black dragon, after all, may deflect interest away from him instead of labelling him the culprit of the mayhem to come. He senses worry through the bond - she is, after all, as unable to see him as he is to spot her at the moment - but there is resolve there, too. "I am escaping," Emrith sends, nipping past a woman with her arms thrown forward and almost colliding with someone who is almost certainly her child. "Give me thirty seconds or so, and then do what we planned in the event that my attack failed. It has, and more is needed." Disapproval now floods Emrith from his dragon, and she sends back a stern retort: "I have done this only a few times before, and I greatly question the wisdom of doing harm, however small and incidental, to an entire crowd." Emrith's eyes tighten. "Do you want me to get out of this alive or not? This is the only way." Resignation. "I will, then, but we will talk, Emrith Kohl. Sternly. For now, you have my trust." From far, far above, Ilaerothil begins to belch forth an enormous mantilla of raw chlorine gas directly into the rainclouds. In preparation, Ilaerothil had been ingesting large quantities of salt-rich rocks, which she had divested of that mineral by some internal process Emrith does not yet understand. The result is predictable enough. An acrid stink begins to permeate the square as the rainfall becomes suddenly corrosive. Given the sheer quantity of rain and the fact that only one green dragon is up there infusing the water with alkaline gas, the effect is by no means enough to melt flesh to the bone or to cause mortal injury upon a single brief contact with the falling raindrops. Skin may burn, though, and eyes, if exposed, may be painfully blinded. The moment that sharp stench hits his nose, Emrith breaks into an all-out sprint, not wishing for his own cloak to be eaten away by the onslaught. If his illusion breaks, he will be exposed for all to see. Behind him as he flees, bitter tears fall on the square of this disturbed city, as if the gods themselves might weep for what is happening there. And then they stop, brief lamentation done, as Valrae's voice peals out above the roar of the gathering. Emrith is still moving as she shouts, still speeding up as her life ends in that single, drawn-out scream. He does not see the fire, but he smells it, even beneath the ozone scent of lightning and the chemical odour of chlorine. "A bitter day," he murmurs to himself, but he is one voice buried in a sea of them, unheard and unremarked as he attempts to make himself scarce. "A bitter day, but the wrong blood fell, the wrong body burned." Ilaerothil, high above, issues a single enormous bellow of effort, then spews forth her bellyful of stones, letting them fall down on Larket from above; they are small, each by each, and impossible to aim, but the potential for chaos and destruction is amplified greatly by this secondary storm. Her job done, the green dragon begins to beat her powerful wings, flying south back toward the safety of Sage Forest; having lost the cover of rain and expended her reserves of potent draconic breath, she has decided that her continued presence here will be more risk than it is worth.

Hudson | Valrae says the four first words of the witches' creed, and the red cloaked witches finish it: "Do what ye will." As Valrae continues to speak, and the fire set beneath her feet, many of the red cloaks take up the creed into a chant, repeating in unison, "An it harm none, do what ye will." It creates an interesting backdrop to Larewen's speech. There's no magic in the words, just strength in them being shouted to drown out the bloodthirsty shouts from those eager to see the witch burn. In an attempt to subdue this show of civil disobedience by team red cloak and make this moment more festive, the royal Larketian orchestra seizes the moment to play the Larketian national anthem. It is unclear who starts it, but one by one, those wearing red cloaks drop to one knee. They remain kneeling until the anthem ends, at which point they rise. Many of them, including Uma and Joanie, begin clearing away from the square. They won't be there when the flames consume her and set the dias ablaze.

Eirik bends not to any words mustered for Valrae. He caves not over the feelings boiling inside of him. The sudden realization of flames apparent within his minds eye. He cannot fathom her last moments - the agonizing pain brought on by such a hate filled display. Yet here he is, suffering through it all just the same. His legs are tensed, flexing within the sheen of armor he has donned. His teeth have set hard, nearly buckling under the pressure. Truth be told, before Valraes gift of empathy, he would have smirked at this ending. He would have thought it deserving to one such as her. However, he is speechless. Chaos wreaking havoc within his mind. Callum’s words of protest. Hildegardes burning of a treaty. None of it is lost on him. Eirik had made his bed, and now, must sleep within it. Lionel merely receives a glance. The Lycan couldn’t leave Larket. He had promised to defend those few witches that remain and he must do so without giving this away. He must stay for his own reasons - his own. On this day, Eirik fails to back Frostmaw and his choice is known by the silence reigning from his unmoving lips. Goodbye, his mind twists into thought at their exit. Eirik had chosen to turn his back on Frostmaw and their decision. Which he could not blame them for, but for the sake of his newfound thoughts upon this whole matter. He chooses to stay in Larket, despite what he should do. I’m sorry Valrae, words that he nearly mutters. The Lycan turns his gaze to the King and Queen of Larket, giving a nod to them both. He still had yet to speak with either of them, but his response is one they should recognize. Larket, for better or worse, is where he chooses to stay. Hildegarde and Lionel, now sit on the opposite side of the board. Once the flames have died, the Lycan stands and takes a knee before Macon and Josleen - using his well earned reputation of witch hatred to his advantage. “I will stand with you, if you will have me.” As if to state, nevermind what Frostmaw has chosen - I stand with you. His eyes twist to the floor beneath him, before he rises and leaves the dias. He is sure that Macon will seek to speak with him about his allegiance at some point. None of that matters now. Truthfully Eirik had plans of his own.

The words spoken by Bastion were met with a look of disapproval. She had warned the young man against such an idea. That no matter what he said, they weren't going to listen. She had been through this before. She knew what sort of ignorance these people exhibited. And so, by the reaction of many in the crowd, by the reaction shown by King Macon and his hired goons, she could only mutter to herself, 'told you so.' "Ain't that-" Baelok began, before Raevyn cut him off. "Yes. Can we go, now? Please? I do not wish to be here any longer." She meant to turn then and walk away. She meant to just leave without so much as a second glance. There was nothing she could do- the governing bodies had already made up their mind. It was the sudden conflagration, that burning pyre in which Valrae was executed that had the girl feeling like she was stuck in mud. Her eyes could not tear away from that woman as she screamed in agony, those words burned now in the necromancer's mind. Blackened lips tighten as anger surged, Raevyn unable to fathom how any could let such a thing go on. She wished she had her scythe. She wished she had the power to speak up and come to this poor soul's defence. Whether this entire act was retalliation for some strange crime, or out of superstitious fear- The punishment was cruel. The sound of cracking thunder and lightning strikes seemed to unwaver the girl as she watched the emerald fire burn and spread; And soon, the so called witch that was sentenced to death was nothing but ash. With a hand reaching for the hilt of the weapon upon his back, Baelok looks to Raevyn, "Want me to-" And once more he was interrupted. "No. Let us go to the Library in the city of the dead. I... I need to clear my mind." Grumbling, the undead guardian lead the way for the disguised necromancer out of the town; One passing guard getting a good firm knockback as Baelok shouldered him on their way out.

Irenic felt every flame as if it were licking his own skin and seering at his flesh. Being restrained by the guards he crumbled to his knees and once his wife’s last words were spoken, Maude and the witches around her came to Irenic as his screaming pierced a second of silence after the flames claimed his wife. His hands clutched his head as the last thing he loved more than his own life was taken from him, again, by this damn city. Screw this place, man! It’s been nothing, but horrible to him, right? “I should have -done- more!” He was being held by Maude now who was like a mother-in-law to him. Now she was the one being strong for this near seven foot man with metal wings and he desperately hopes one of those bolts of lightning would just attract to those damn wings and strike him from this world along with the love of his life, but that would be too easy... “I feel so empty without her,” his hand over his chest because the feeling of a bond snapping between two souls was beyond bearable at the moment and it was all he could do not to climb up in the emerald flames with this wife… Maude pulls him away for he always listens to that woman, but he doesn’t understand why through the grief he grabed a fistfull of his wifes ashes. Can the poor man have SOMETHING?? Jeeze. In the distance he hears a familiar voice, Larewen, and it does give him hope that a husband will never, ever, have to witness such a horrific act to their loved one ever again. He doesn’t care that everyone is around seeing these angry tears streaming down his face, but clad in red he goes with Maude back to their empty and now cold home.

Gilwen and the other elves watched in horror as Valrae perished by the flames- one or two of the guards who came with the elven leaders turned away, unable to watch. When it became apparent that fire sought to spread out, Gilwen turned away- she hadn’t been willing to allow Larket and its people die under the attack Kahran had orchestrated, but she was content to let the horrible city burn for its sins. After the anthem had finished, Syelnar’s deep baritone voice called out the same promise of sanctuary as Larewen had, inviting any witch who needed a safe place to rest their head, or food to eat, to Sage. With the invitation left, the elves followed suit of the Frostmaw royalty, and the other red cloaked witches, leaving the city to its fate.

Dyraxdiin 's approach is not his typical march, instead the sky carries him - kin of the wind and traveler of heavens, he glides through the rainclouds on six tremendous wings. Dewdrops turn the great wyrm's hulking body into a silvery relief against the otherwise dreary sky. His approach would not be something easily missed, as he descends in a strikingly graceful fashion for a beast so large. The wyvern-riders are regarded with a sneer, their presence not lost on Dyraxdiin. He assuages that his natural form is enough to deter any would-be attacker, unless provoked further. Dyraxdiin slows until he comes to an easy hover, far enough away to seem less threatening to the crowd - and the city itself. His serpentine neck raises up while storm-wrought gray eyes peer down upon the throng of people. The great wyrm's breathing is heavy, alike the sound of battering winds on the high seas. From his vantage, the dragon watches the pyre ignite and the flames spread, as if the ominous presence of arbiter on high. The question remains however, just who is the Gray here to judge? As the Witch, Valrae, disperses into ash and the rain ceases, Dyraxdiin releases a low noise from past Saurian lips. Something is going on here... but with the crashing and thundering of the storm moving in, Dyraxdiin is quick to depart.

Artia had just returned to Larket from a stay at Xalious looking for certain herbs to make medicines, leaving Ava at the ranch. Moving to the sounds driving much loud shouts, only to find today was the day Valrae was to die. When she got to the crowd, only to see Bastion get roughed up by some guards. Looking towards Macon, a deep glare of hate shot to him. She wanted to kill those guards right then and there for touching Bastion. But alas, Bastion would frown at Artia for killing such guards. Moving to Bastion, where the guards placed him after roughing him up. A soft expression coming over the vampire's face to the damage done to Bastion, "When will you realize you can't reason with people that want to kill?" Looking him over careful now, "I will take care of you soon, but right now..I need to help!" Turning around upon her heel, the ground underneath her feet being to crack open. Summoning forth undead roots, staring at Valrae. Moving forward to push through the crowd to try to break through in time to send the undead vines to pierce into Valrae body, attempting to give her a quick peaceful death as their is nothing she could do from this point. If only she had remanined in Larket, instead of being swept off to Xalious, wanting to look for more items. Taking up the invitation from her dear Ashe, Artia mightve been able to help. As she got to the front of the crowd, the undead vines re-appearing at her feet. But it was too late, the flames had burned into Valrae's flesh. Red tears escaped her face, with a scream rolling out of Artia. "No!" Artia knew what was the reason behind the child's aging, her own daughter being one of the cursed. But she was too late to tell Josleen of this developement. Too late to check on the king and queen to tell them what was going on, they had struck the blame on someone innocent. The vines fall to the ground, and she turns to approach Macon and Josleen. Her cyan blue eyes, losing the cyan as the gold freckles begin to bleed out taking over the blue. "Macon! She was innocent! Why? Why did you have to do this? There was no fair trial! You know this." She then snapped her glare to Josleen, "We are friends Josleen, you are better then this. Do you even know the true truth of Macon? Or does your love blind you?" Artia had enough, had enough of a city she helped protect only for it to be Macon leading the Fermin to kill Larket. Her eyes went back to Macon, "You once did everything you could to lead Larket, but this is not right. You know this. This death isn't right it only opens up more war, in this time of war and death at ever turn we need to fix broken ties. Band together." Dropping to her knees infront of the King and Queen, "I beg of you, think of what this does to Larket..I know of a cure. Only recently, but I know of someone that might have the cure!" Artia had not learned of Brennia death yet, as Artia had stuck to herself or helping make her own like healing group. Tears stream down her face, keeping her head bowed. "Please...give her remains to those that adore her, let them bury her. Not leave her this way. This is not the way." Only then did her attention turn from the royals to back to the flames that spread out from Valrae burnt body. Glancing back to Macon and Josleen, "Let me help Larket, let me help put my voice out to you again." If they ignored her, she would be coming back to seek an audience with the King and Queen. She would try to head back to Bastion, and help lead him back to the ranch, if the child let her. Get Ava and leave Larket before everything is gone, if the fire doesn't get stopped. The two would head back to Vailkrin, and stay with Larewen. To get Ava out of the way of getting harmed, and Artia to return to Larket to find a way to talk to Macon and Josleen, mostly Josleen.

Bastion was beaten mercilessly by the Larket guards... the second time Larket had committed great violence against his person, while he tried to defend it from its self. He was dumped off stage, bruised and broken, and unmoving, unwilling to resist. He even looked the guards in the eyes... one was a man who's very life he'd saved not weeks earlier. He felt crushed, watching those flames climb, threatening to consume all of Larket, spreading. People were going to die, again. His efforts here... he only hoped they would amount to something. He rose, barely able to stand, a few of the more sympathetic peasants helping him stand, and warding away others. He wouldn't give up on Larket so easily, though. He gave his thanks, as they started helping him get away from the commotion. He could do no more to help, here. Not now. He would have to find another way.

Josleen’s glower levels on Callum, her employee, as he seeks to publicly humiliate her. She insults him back by not bothering to rise from her seat and waving towards the dais’ short steps so he may exit. “You may exit this stage as freely as you chose to enter it.” She says nothing more for now, for it isn’t the time, but in the morning he’ll be summoned for a last opportunity to beg for her pardon. He is only being afforded this opportunity because he saved the King, otherwise he would have been fired without audience. The Queen watches the initial flames lick the witch’s legs, then looks away and to her husband, who returned to his seat beside her to watch the burning. She slips her hand in his to support him and communicate her pride in him. He is doing the right thing. Valrae must be mad an example of. Nonetheless, she can’t bring herself to watch the grisly burning, she hasn’t the stomach for her own violent desires, and instead focuses on her husband’s face. But when the witch speaks, she commands Josleen’s attention back to her. She scoffs at Valrae’s denial of cursing Larket’s children, not believing a word of it. Then why taunt Macon with it before? No, the witch is simple sewing doubt and confusion in society even with her dying breath. When the emerald flames erupt, Kingsguard move quickly to distance the King and Queen from the fire. As they’re leaving, Eirik takes a knee and pledges his loyalty. Finally, someone with sense! She nods her gratitude to this loyal servant. He is then follows by someone with (in Josleen’s opinion), no sense: Larewen who rises above the crowd to chastise the Royals. But Josleen cannot be moved from her conviction that Valrae was an evil person whose death should not be mourned. Larewen expresses her disappointment in Josleen, and Josleen stops in her tracks and fires back in a bardically amplified voice (while guards beseech her to keep moving), “What do you know of light when you live in darkness and seek to spread darkness, hmm? Return to your dank forest, and take your judgments with you-- we’ve no need for them here!” She turns away from the protesters and leaves with Macon as Artia makes a late arrival to claim Valrae’s ashes. She squints through the phalanax of guards at Artia, hears her words but is confused by them. Of course she knows Macon. Judging by what happened here today, she is the only one who knows him.

Macon turns up his nose and remains stone faced during and after Valrae’s flaring death and final revelation. Her last words are what he had expected, and why she was gagged in the first place. A feeble, obvious attempt at sparing the rest of the witches from the same fate. Macon is convinced now of their guilt more than ever, and angry Larketians are much more likely to believe the previous confession of Valrae than the witch’s deathrattle and the promise that some magical jar was behind it all. Hildegarde makes her statement and sets fire to the treaty between Frostmaw and Larket. The ramifications of this will not be thought of by the king until later. For now he focuses on the statement the dragon is making. “It pains me tha’ you would again side against justice, and with a killer of Larketians. This kingdom will never be a safe haven for murderers like her while I draw breath.” (Ironic that Eirik is standing so close by). Macon growls low at Callum and the short sighted protest he indulges in. Why are the crown’s kills so unspeakable while the countless lives taken by Witches in the earthquake and beyond somehow excusable? Slate eyes glare out towards Larewen, who, if the intelligence out of Vailkrin is to be believed, is slaughtering entire houses that stand in her way for no reason other than a grab for power, and should not be casting these specific stones at his wife. Josleen says what he might have, so the glare is enough from him towards the vampire. The Rage Knight regards Eirik kindly for seeing the evils that they are trying to extinguish in this world and offering his assistance. Macon places a hand on the berserker’s shoulder and bids him to rise. Then comes Artia, who he at least owes an explanation of Valrae’s crimes to, given her service to Larket. “She confessed t’her crimes willingly, any one of them is grounds for death. I ‘ave not circumvented justice. I ’ave executed it.” Then she really gets his attention with claims of a cure for the children of Larket. They are exiting the scene, but he demands that she “Come t’The Fort immediately.”