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RP:The North Remembers

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Part of the Rise of Larket Arc

Part of the Sauriangate Arc

This is a Healer's Guild RP.

Summary: What begins with Emilia speaking diligently of the pending birth of Alvina's twins quickly escalates into a high-stakes political event. Lionel reports further chapters in the ongoing Larketian saga to Queen Hildegarde, prompting a swift call-to-action against Macon for his transgressions. Rorin and Alvina stand in proud awe and splendor, glad to serve so capable a monarch. But when Kreekitaka storms in uninvited only moments later, the Uyeer business partnership comes to an immediate end. As the dust settles on an important evening, one thing is crystal clear: Frostmaw remembers Stroud.

Frostmaw: Down Hill

Alvina found herself, once again, exploring the frozen surrounding of the Frostmaw Fort. She'd come on business, though she wasn't quite sure if she would be able to make another trip home. Hudson had almost forbid her from traveling this distance, swore it was too dangerous. What if she went into labor in the middle of bloody nowhere? His words, not hers. But it felt too restrictive to sit at home and wait for the twins. She had this looming fear that her life would be so drastically different once they were born. Would she still be able to be herself or would the title of mother override all things? Would Engineering skills give way to bedtime stories and knowing all the words to lullaby's? For now, she concerned herself with thinking of the safest way to go about having them, and would let time show her the way. She'd written to Emilia not long ago, at the suggestion of the Frostmaw Healers, for consul on the upcoming event. She had but mere weeks left to get everything in order...Her pace on the slick paths were slow but steady. The crimson haired bard dressed in navy cloth was of the opinion that even though she was not spry or delicate in appearance now, to move about was far better than to twiddle her thumbs in a bed to be fussed over.

Emilia with request of her presence had made a special trip to the city of Frostmaw, even with the tension in the air between the frozen city and that of present home city of Larket the healer could not deny a pregnant woman her services. Unlike other visitors to the city Emilia came in attire suited for summer in warmer towns. A midnight blue silk gown flowing freely about her petite figure, hard to believe that at one point three unborn winged babies kept room within that body, to her bare feet that glided over the snow, not a trace of foot print left in her wake. Long ago she tried to look normal in the winter, but found it to be too uncomfortable in her natural element and gave up the appearance. Crazed curls of white dancing in the winter wind about the Genasi as she traveled north along the path seeking to meet this new name she’d never heard of and then perhaps chance to find Pilar again and check up upon her friend that resided within the city. It was in this walk to find a pregnant woman that she happened on one taking a walk along the slick path, curious or fate. Keeping her distance from Alvina the Healer spoke in gentle tones that floated through the winter breeze on a whisper to the other woman, “Shouldn’t you be in the warmth, Miss?”

Lionel is typically to be found ruminating in his private quarters on an hour and day like today. He’d shuffle through papers he bears no interest in, furrow his brow in quiet consternation, and silently worry for the future of the realm. The complexities of a military-political life are only just now beginning to sink in for a man who has spent the bulk of his twenty-nine years charging in solo on the frontlines in the never-ending struggle between the darkness and the light. Today, though, something has changed. He is haunted by fresh thoughts on the battle in Northern Sage. Fearful of the implications of a hundred little things -- and a handful of considerable size. He’s strolling down the city’s main thoroughfare en route to its tavern for a drink or six away from it all. He’s dressed in thin black silk and slacks, loose-fitting and ill-befitting the weather. He pauses, someone’s shape in the distance striking him as more than a bit familiar. But it’s a crowded day, merchants everywhere. He can’t make out Alvina’s face in all the uproar.

Alvina halts in her tracks, letting her white boots blur with the flawless mounds of snow she's sunk into. A voice? She spins 'round, seeing no other person but an oddly dressed woman a good distance away. Her gloved hand lifts to rest on pink cheeks. Had she imagined the whispering? Was she really too far along to be traveling out among the snow on her own? The graceful figure appeared to be looking in her direction, so the bard summoned her courage and took her slow stride in Emilia direction with a warm smile. "G-good morrow," She called, still a good distance away but close enough to make out the other woman's snowy locks, tussled in the sharp breeze. The stranger didn't flinch in the wind, though she wore no coat or cloth to protect her skin. It wasn't unheard of for enchantments to be placed upon clothing but...Emilia appeared the vision of some winter goddess, wrapped in wind and blue fabrics. "Are you on your way to the Fort, miss?" Her breathing was rapid but only from the briskness with which she'd attempted to walk over. "I really should be inside but I'm so nearly due...I can't stand to be still. It eases the pain to walk a bit or so the healers have told me." Her expression is kind. Even in times of war, the bard can't find it in her to immediately distrust Emilia...though by all counts of cautious, she should.

Emilia only moved to close the distance between herself and the other woman once her booted feet first made the choice to get closer over running away. Each step taken by the even thin woman left no trace of her presence on the ground, almost as if she was a ghost playing tricks on the mind of the pregnant woman. Lifting a glossy black hand Em ran her fingers through those wild curls in an attempt to tame them against the wind, tucking them behind her ears. That black ice hand one of the few bits of color present to the healer, otherwise she was white as the snow all around them, easily blended into the background. Pale blue lips turned in a gentle smile when she was replied to. However, with the war brewing she would stop a couple feet distance from the pregnant lady. “I was on my way to find a stranger that has sought me out in regards to a situation similar to yours, Miss” a gentle reply that followed the first words, a whisper on the chilled breeze, as she pointed toward Alvina’s stomach. Em was going to met a pregnant woman, oddly enough and yet unknown at the moment to be the very pregnant woman she now conversed with. Then she’d speak again this time normally, a voice as gentle as the breeze and as lovely as the sound of lullaby being sung, “Walking can ease the pains of contractions, if walking ends the pains then it is not true labor, but false labor. Drinking extra water can also aide in taking away the pain. I would suggest not straying far from the warmth if you are that close, Miss. You won’t always be lucky enough to cross paths with a healer.”

Lionel is determined to ascertain that pregnant woman’s identity. If it’s Alvina, he’ll be happy to see -- if it’s literally any other woman heavy with child, he won’t know her and he’ll do his best to move on past her without arousing suspicion. As he comes closer, however, a curly-haired lass with a gown flowing like some darker river steps into view, obscuring his vantage. The Knight-Commander is spotted by a portly and fair-haired fellow, who rounds on him with a thick angry index finger. “You!” he calls, as if the mere meter which separates them would cast doubt on whom he wraths. “Me,” Lionel replies, all cynicism and thinly-veiled agitation, and he’ll step nimbly about the circumference of this rotund windbag. The fellow won’t take this lightly. He clears his throat. “I’ve not received qualifiable papers to operate my esteemed workshop in your city!” Lionel doesn’t turn to look at the man as he continues to move beyond him, but he does at least dignify him with a response. “Your esteemed workshop employs Rynvalian slaves because your little pleasure house in Venturil got busted on illicit substances. You’re lucky I don’t have you arrested.” The plump man’s face is now the color crimson. He huffs indignantly, but flails his hand and avoids as many stares as possible in a hasty retreat down-alley. Lionel can see Alvina now, clear as day. He trots up beside she and her female companion and nods respectfully. “Why, hello there,” he tells her, not wishing to interrupt any further.

Alvina noticed the figure's caution. It felt foolish to wonder but...Small as she was, the stranger's boots were leaving no imprint in the snow? First the whisper, now this illusion? Mayhap she better get back towards the fort, just in case. “Very good advice,” She dips her crown in Emilia's direction with thanks. “I hope to be meeting with a healer shortly. I know it sounds silly but I feel as if they will never be in my arms.” Only now did Alvina wonder; was she ready? Could she handle the trials of motherhood? It had been her soul dream for so long, and now it was upon her doorstep. “Oh, forgive me. My name is Alvina.” She beamed, watching the woman's hand. Was it truly black? Who was she? “You wouldn't happen to be Miss Emilia, by any chance?” It was the best hope she could find in such a strange but beautiful woman being out in this weather, dressed and speaking as she was. The healers in Frostmaw suggested Emilia, said she'd had multiple children in her own time, and was a skilled healer to boot. Was this the woman she'd sent for? How fortunate that they should meet, just out of the range of the merchant's crying. Crowds could be seen in the distance. Another good reason for Alvina not to feel too exposed. Too at risk. A voice appears beside her, starling. The bard jumps, inhaling quickly. Her heart catches in her throat until she sees...the Knight Commander and exhales with relief. “Lionel,” She smiles, by way of saying hello. She hadn't seen him since they'd visited with Pilar! But she heard the whispers of battles and bloodshed. He looked oddly well to have seen so much actively in the past few days. She keeps these thoughts to herself, returning her attention to the stranger, to conclude their introductions and determine if they should travel back together towards the fort or part ways here in the snow.

Emilia watched the world through the eyes of the other woman, taking caution as she should when the lass also kept her distance from her. In all aspects, it was a wise choice to remain on guard around someone as mysterious as the Genasi. With the name being given another smile flashed on those frosted lips before Em gave a small curtsy to Alvina, “Pleasure to meet you, Miss Alvina”. Straightening herself the healer brushed those pesky white curls from her face once again, ugh they just never could stay out of the way, almost more curls to the lass than lass herself. Extending that glossed hand, shimmering in the light like the black ice it was, Em offered her name in exchange, “I’m Emilia, but I would much prefer it if you called me Emi, everyone else does.” Should Alvina accept the gesture she would find that bare hand to be bone chilling cold, as as the snow all around them. Snapping he head around those bright blue eyes landed on Lionel, her head tilting ever so slightly to the left, pesky curls falling back into her face, studying him over. Why did he look so familiar? Who was this stranger with a blurred face in her memories. She study him for just a moment longer before speaking, “Hello, Stranger...” then turned her gaze back toward Alvina, “Seems you would be the owner to the letter I received.”

Lionel is deft to recognize a lack of footprints in Emilia’s wake. He catches her name whilst en route to the pair; it springs some distant thought to mind but he cannot recall the details. He cants his head in decency, but he could have sworn there were visible hesitation marks checkering Alvina’s countenance during his approach. The women speak of a letter, so there’s common cause for business, but a dark feeling rides through Lionel like a current at the name ‘Emilia.’ Then, epiphany: Xersom. That specter of a Dark Immortal, or near enough to it, who had been a thorn in Lionel’s side in the earlier months of his return to Lithrydel. There is a connection between Xersom and Emilia and the Catalian will keep a practiced smile to mask his worries. And he’ll keep close to Alvina, just in case. “If I intrude, please, let me know. It’s a pleasure to see you, though, Alvina. Were you headed for the fort?” Left unsaid is the implication that he’d gladly join her if so.

Alvina is relieved to her those words. This was the healer! Emilia! Or Emi, as she wished to be called. Easy enough! The bard's own gloved hand reached out to meet Emi's, but felt little chill for the glove disguised a metallic prosthetic that could feel only the slightest hint of temperatures. Cerinii's lovely gift. To be functional and still offer the occasional sensation. It helped with the phantom pains she would experience in the place of sleeves brushing her skin, or a loving caress. Lionel's presence made her a little bolder. She felt safe in his sight. There was only one set of eyes that might grant her more comfort, and he was off on business, determined to be home when their children came into this world. “My...” Alvina paused. Normally, this would be the place to explain how excited her and her fiance' are to be bringing these children into the world together but...they were no longer engaged. Since Hudson was discovered to be having an affair with a witch named Valrae, everything else in her world had collapsed in upon itself. A fresh wound, still raw to acknowledge. She'd always hoped to avoid any of the judgments that came with being an unwed woman with children on the way. In her defense, though it was meek, they had been engaged...during. She fumbled, stumbling over the best way to say what she wanted to. “We are just so excited, I mean, The father and I.” She looked at Lionel, nodded, then back to Emilia. “I know I wrote about it in the letter but I'm a little nervous about...Well...” The bard hesitated. It felt overly personal to discuss in front of Lionel! Albeit embarrassing! “Seeing as how their father is a werewolf...” Hopefully, Emi remembered enough to get her point? Could she deliver them safely? That was her first concern. Secondly, she wasn't sure what traits half breed children might be cursed with. Sharp teeth or razor sharp claws?! Puffy ears or slick, dark furred tails?! This wasn't a safe time for Werewolves...or witches...but Emi didn't seem to be either. She held the aura of something else all together. It would be too rude to inquire but...she did wonder in the most polite of ways just why the woman appeared so pale and why her hands were black...and so unnervingly cold. “Yes, Lionel, I invited Emilia – er I mean, Emi, to help with my labor. We were going to discuss a few things. All the healers praise her work. Won't you please...join us during the walk back? I have some things to discuss with her in private. I hope you understand.” Her smile is bright but remorseful. It wouldn't do to have him there while she asked about the process! Too embarrassing, among other things. “I do have something I want to discuss with you later, if you will have the time? Will you be around long?” With that, Alvina will start to lead the group towards the fort at a slow but steady pace. Something a little quicker than what she'd used to wander the grounds because now she had purpose. She also didn't want to appear handicapped in any fashion...even if she was large enough that waddling was closer to her movement than an actual even stride.

Emilia would admit if asked that she was being rude because she could not stop staring at Lionel like he was a bunch of grapes hanging before her waiting to be eaten, grapes because you know steak isn’t something that she eats, but surely a similar look to one debating how rare they wanted their meat. It was Alvina that brought the Genasi back to focus on the matter that had brought her to the winter wonderland. Blinking away the attempt to fit Lionel into place she gave a gentle smile toward the mother to be, “I must go run an errand and visit a place not to far from here. I would rather have a fresh stock of herbs at my side should you go into labor sooner rather than later. Now that I know who you are I will come find you at the Fort a bit later. Then we can go over your worries and talk a bit more privately about the coming weeks.” There a curtsy toward both of them, “Lionel...Alvina...” and then the woman turned to part ways with the two, allowing them to have their conversation and travel safely back to the warmth. Walking away the Genasi left no trace of prints in her wake, vanishing into the snow off the path. If they watched the incoming gust of wind that blew the snow across the path the would find no healer traveling away from them like she had never been there.

Lionel is beginning to feel a bit like a sacred cow on lacquer display in the middle of a crowded and cash-strapped orphanage by the time Alvina manages to wrangle Emilia’s hungry eyes off his person. Awkward. Whatever plans to protect a friend he might have been building up in his subconscious are shattered by that predatory stare -- now he’s just plain windswept. It occurs to the man that Alvina had looked to him immediately after mentioning the father, but he’s swallowing mindlessly as Xersom’s… what was she to him, again? Well, whatever -- as -that woman- exits stealthily stage left. “Right,” he says, mystified, then he blinks and snaps out of trance. “Sorry. Something about her caught me off-guard.” Deflect, deflect, deflect. He clears his throat and returns to his smile. They’re still walking toward the fort, these two, and mayhap it’s high time Lionel ought to inquire after that matter Alvina had mentioned. “Well, it seems your business with ‘Emi’ awaits another day. Do you need someone sooner? I-I can have things sent to you at the fort, anything you need, my guards are at your disposal for as long as you’re our guest. Longer, really.” Stumble, stumble, stumble. “What, ah, what was it you wished to discuss, lass? Or would you rather we spoke of it later?” They’re near on up to the gate now and a pair of Frost Giants bow formally to permit entry.

Alvina dipped her head in Emilia's direction. “Of course, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate all your assistance, even making the journey. I eagerly await your return.” When the healer turns to walk away, she'll spare a quick glance at Lionel. Did he notice the way Emilia had stared at him? When Alvina's emerald optics flicked back to watch her go...she'd already ...gone? “My, she's shrouded in mystery isn't she?” Concern back-lit this observation. There's no way the healers would recommend her without her being completely qualified but there was something otherworldly about her. It put Alvina on edge, try as she might to not feel that way. She had been perfectly pleasant, curtsied and smiled. They'd touched, proving she was no illusion but a real presence. “I- well... She was staring at you for a rather long time. Do you know that woman?” Alvina's eyes turn back to Lionel, curious but confused. “She comes highly recommended and I don't think it'll be for a while yet. If something should happen in before she returns, I'm sure we can get someone to assist. It would be a shame though...She came all this way.” As they began to weave back into the crowd, Alvina started to notice Lionel appeared shaken. She was replaying his words in her head now, over the hum of venders calling out their wares and the shuffle of people meeting in the public space. Her gloved hand grabs his sleeve, pulling him off to the side of the relentless crowd to study his face with her own serious expression. “Are you all right?”

Lionel laughs. “Mystery… yeah.” He elongates that second word -- because of course he does. “I don’t know her, no. I may know -of- her. I think she… might be wife to a man I’ve tried to keep careful watch over since my return to this land.” He grimaces, sharing Alvina’s gaze. “It’s complicated, but she seemed genuine in her desire to help you along. That’s all that matters to me right now; you’ve got Ava and Harper to bring into this world. I won’t trouble you over this -- I promise.” He lets the look linger for a fraction of a second, mindful of his own bizarre compulsive self-imposed duty to let a pair of twins be born into Lithrydel when his own two angels never drew their first breath. Then they’ll walk. They make way past the Frost Giants standing vigil over all of Frostmaw from this peak and wayward of the shuffle. When she takes him by the sleeve, the last hustle and bustle of Market Day’s festivities down to a dimmer of sound and distant shapes, he looks at her, surprised. “I…” A beat. “I don’t want to trouble you, Lady Alvina. We’ve only just recently met and you have so much to focus on without my prattling about things I’d almost rather you never needed to hear.” His eyes, always so expressive, flick a shadow of sorrow and all at once Lionel O’Connor appears exhausted. But it’s gone as quickly as it comes. “Still… you should know at least a bit. Will you join me for a few moments?” He tugs her sleeve right on back, hurrying them into the warmth of the fort and out of the cold he knows she shouldn’t be in. But before Alvina can reply in the yea or nay, a swift-footed soldier approaches, clears throat, and begs pardon with a polite but rushed bow. “Lord Lionel, you asked to be informed when the Queen returned. She has, my lord. She’s in the throne room even now.” Lionel purses his lips and glances to Alvina, guiltily. “...Thank you, recruit.” A sigh. “I need to speak with her. It’s important. Will you join me?”

Alvina 's voice catches in her throat. The way he's looking at her, it's etched into his features. He's holding something in. His mask is well made, the trained expression of someone who is appears not to be bothered, who appears composed and 'fine'. She looked into his expressive eyes and see something else entirely. Something wrought with anguish and exhausted before the day can even break. She recognizes her own reflection of sorrow, somewhere deep and secret in the corners of his heart and soul. But he is a man, Knight Commander, serving the Queen of Frostmaw...and all those things come first. The duty of titles outweighs the duty to oneself. The solider appeared and informed him as much. Alvina clutched the clasp of her cloak against her clavicle and nodded swiftly. Now was not the time for her words or her fears. Lionel was almost a stranger and yet...he felt so oddly familiar she couldn't help but care deeply about his struggles. Why? It must be the recognition of herself in him. Her will to paint a smile on her own lips to comfort those grieving. To hide her own pain beneath a wise word or a warm embrace. In all her years in Hollow, she was guilty of those same things. “It would be my pleasure, if the Queen will allow it. I'm afraid I'm of no use in these matters...beyond somewhat dismal company. A bad attempt at a joke. Her smile wilted only when he turned to lead the way to the Throne room, and towards whatever news that awaited him there.

Lionel is every bit Frostmaw's Knight-Commander when he nods amicably and leads the way. And he is wholly oblivious to the fact that Alvina Liadon just discovered who he truly is.

Frostmaw: Frozen Throne

Hildegarde had returned from the western reaches of Frostmaw, snow still clinging to her hair and cloak alike. She had been out west to meet with the Kuronii northmen that resided there, discussing the matter of Larket and what other Queenly business she might have had there with the barbaric tribe. With determined strides, she heads deeper into the fort with the intention of reaching the war room and determining her next steps but alas she is interrupted by a rather diligent guard. “M’lady, the Knight-Commander asked to be informed of your return immediately. He’ll be on his way to see you, I imagine,” this was polite notice that the Catalian was on his way. Hildegarde only nodded her acknowledgment, swiftly turning herself back around and up onto the throne rather than towards the war room. No time for that, now, she had to see what Lionel wanted first.

Lionel storms in with Alvina not far behind. He’s still dressed in thin and loose casual black slacks and shirt but at least he’s buttoned it back up to his neck and hastily fastened his badge back on. It’s a touch crooked, though. He spots Queen Hildegarde at her throne and quietly exhales in relief. Too many enemies of late and he’s half a step away from worrying that some are firmly entrenched even here. He looks to Alvina, adrenaline pumping through his veins in preparation for his report. She’s pregnant, Lionel -- give her a chance to keep pace. It’s a struggle of strong body and troubled mind, but his spirit is courteous enough to slow his motion. They’ll come upon the queen in due time and he will bow deeply, bending on his knee. As he rises, he begins. “My queen, I bid you good return. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Operation Sauriangate was successful. Zero fatalities on our side; Kreekitaka the Uyeer King kept presence to a minimal as promised via negotiations.” He seems to be moving rather quickly through these extremely important matters of state. “No suspicions of Frostmaw involved in the battle itself. The Warrior’s Guild did us proudly.” Despite his haste, a smile to his fellow Champion. And then the rest of it. “Krice and I -- as well as a Frostmawian within my employ -- were assaulted by five of Macon’s Kingsguard near Xalious just prior. They were staging some sort of trap. Three of them died; one escaped and the other one Krice and I tried to talk some sense into.” A pause. A distant glance. A return of azure eyes to the queen. “Stroud, highly-decorated soldier of Frostmaw, lays dead by the Larketians.”

Alvina did her best to waddle in time, a few steps behind Lionel. She couldn't bear to call out to him, to slow his pace. His heart was on other matters and she would have to do her best not to become dead weight. A heavy request, when one is so far along in one's pregnancy (and carrying twins). Once they reach the throne room, unruly ribbons of crimson cling to her neck and cheeks, damp with sweat even in the frigid northern climate. She had no words to contribute to the cause, knew little of what Lionel was reporting to the Queen and so she hung back. If and when Hildegarde spared her a glance, the bard when bow (much as she could) and give the woman a gentle smile of encouragement. The atmosphere was thick with tension. It was hardly the time to exchange pleasantries. A side step and she's against the wall, to let the Knight Commander and the Queen speak of war.

Rorin came quietly into the majestic throne room with a regal stride. Practiced and slow, he had been well versed in formalities by his former master, though he disliked them. They made things far too complicated when Rorin preferred to speak and act simply and carry out his duties. But then again they also afforded him into rooms like this. The pilgrim studied the room through the slates of his mask in a measure of amazement. Not bothering to change into something more suitable for meeting a queen, his armor shuffled and jostled quietly with his stride. He liked the lanterns- the blue flames were quite beautiful. The frost giants were as intimidating on him as they were supposed to be though he did like their insignia. The queen her self was of striking beauty to the point that a lesser man would have restrained himself from a whistle at least. She had a wild kind of majesty and grave with a fire in her eyes on a throne of ice. Rorin was aware he was here for the debriefing- a bit afraid that his rather sizeable supply requests would come into play. The equipment was returned- as far as he knew- and everything includable was included. Rorin bowed when he remembered his manners while Lionel began to speak. Rorin wasn't aware of Macon's assault. That was troubling. And it was also news that one of the queens own had died... he would wait, arms crossed behind his back, unsure of what to expect as he hadn't met this particularly important person before, as far as he knew and could recall.

Hildegarde had learned it was best to just lapse into silence and let Lionel get to the heart of the matter, rather than interrupt him or try to tell him to ignore the formalities. He’d have his way, she’d best let it be and enjoy the courtesy instead but Alvina would be a different case. When the heavily pregnant woman attempted to bow (as best she could), the Silver raised her hand in a subtle gesture to indicate such a gesture was truly unnecessary. As he smiles at her with pride in their guild, she smiles back a knowing smile: she had never doubted the ability of the guild and those who called themselves members of it. They would not be members if they did not have the ability to survive this kind of deed. With Lionel so hastily skipping over the matter, however, Hildegarde can tell that something is amiss; there is something more unsettling to come if he is so swiftly side-stepping this matter of state. A glance is sent to Rorin, the young man relatively unfamiliar to her – though she’s sure she’s ran into him before – before her sole eye focuses once again upon the Knight-Commander. It is evident from her posture that he has her full attention: she has sat upright in the throne, her fingers have flexed around the shaft of her halberd at the very mention of ‘Macon’. Though Rorin perhaps sees the inner beauty of Hildegarde, her rather ugly face makes an expression that is close to a grimace and a wince of unhappiness. A trap was rarely a good thing. Though it is not until the mention of Stroud does the Queen’s queenly façade drop altogether. Rising from her icy throne, the Silver descends from those little steps with practiced ease. ‘Thunk’ goes her halberd with each step, filling the silence of the room. “Stroud was a good man,” she speaks at last. “And he will be avenged,” she swore to the Knight-Commander. “Ready the army once you are dismissed from this meeting. We had best discuss your findings regarding this trap,” though it pained her to so swiftly sweep over Stroud’s death, every second was precious when it came to war and Hildegarde was a strategos. She wouldn’t waste their time. Mourning could come later.

Lionel swallows hard at the queen’s decree. Passion swirls in his heart at her swift decisive response. She is every bit the monarch he’s so chosen to serve. “It will be done.” Quick words from a quick man. The position of Knight-Commander may summon thoughts of thick men, stalwart and indomitable, but Lionel is a fast-paced Catalian who has only now begun to learn the importance of looking both ways before crossing. It occurs to him in that heartbeat that Stroud himself was the common image of tank-like courage and resilience. It occurs to him that Stroud’s memory shall live on in -- and guide him. Before he begins to detail the folly with the Kingsguard, however, and as Hildegarde stands right there with that fierce dragon’s fire in her eye, he monitors Rorin and Alvina. In the wars to come, Frostmaw -- no, Lithrydel -- will need men and women such as the like he has been blessed to look upon since his return. Rorin, armed for battle at the turn of a silver dime. Brave. Committed to seeing the good worth defending from the darkness. His squire has met and exceeded his every unseasonably difficult challenge. It is right that he be here now. Alvina. Talented engineer whose brain seems to see the possibilities in every piece of material she registers. Yet it is not for her inventions that Lionel looks upon her so warmly now. It’s an easy thing, looking upon someone warmly when they themselves bear a warmth and kindness that would light this whole fort. It’s precisely that compassion that Frostmaw will need when the hour grows late and Macon’s forces strike further. “The ambush,” he begins. All that thought in the span of a few stray seconds. “Stroud and I came upon an upturned caravan in the distance. We were on the road between Kelay and Xalious. Boulders, scattered. A rock fall of some sort. It was all perfectly orchestrated. Too perfectly, as it were -- that’s the problem. Krice was on the other end of that route doing… you know, Krice things. Well, I overheard him and feared the worst. It seemed likely the five silhouettes in the distance were stalling him for something fierce. Stroud and I took cover but it was too late; we were spotted. Battle erupted and Stroud fell alongside three Kingsguard. Five Kingsguard, out there, wreaking havoc. Sowing seeds of discord. They tried to end us but we fought back. A saurian arrived to sorte; I have thoughts on their many convenient arrivals, my queen, but thoughts for another day.”

Alvina wished she was here in the presence of Hildegarde and Lionel under more favorable conditions. When Rorin enters, he gains her full attention at once. His attire marks her as out of place...especially for an audience with the Queen. A mask? She was content to sit back and introspectively comment on the ongoings. Lionel mentions someone of importance has died. The name doesn't ring any bells with her but she's long been away, tending to personal matters that held no importance in the wake of death. When Macon's name comes up, the bard thinks immediately of Josleen. Was she still in hiding? It had been so long since they spoke, meeting on the beach with Jos in disguise...her chestnut hair an odd color...the tense exhaustion she wore instead of her normal, easy smile. How her heart ached, for her friend. How Alvina missed her, and then suddenly she missed so many things. All pieces of the past, all gone. Hildegarde's swift call to arms was flawless. Of course, she wouldn't sit by and be trampled on by a madman. She was a force of action. It did not mean she was heartless. Each step from the throne, punctuated by the clang of her halberd, was a battle cry. A reminder to stay strong. There was a time for letting down your guard and mourning. This was not that time. Alvina tried to think about Hildegarde's slight smile as she waved her away from bowing. A time old tradition for a Queen that hated formalities. Being called M'lady or being bowed to by friendly faces. It warmed her heart to think about, it was all she could do to show her love and support. Even Queens needed reminders that they were not alone nor did they need to hold the weight squarely on their own shoulders. Lionel was capable, or so Alvina imagined. She hadn't witnessed an active battlefield in years. It was all guess work. Something to keep her mind spinning, to feel involved. She listened carefully, did not turn away when Lionel described the ambush. The danger was very real, and aimed at figures in this life that mattered to her, personally. Hildegarde...Frostmaw...The Eyrie...If nothing else, she could bear witness to their suffering and time of need. She would stand sentential, along side the rest of those members who claims themselves brothers and sisters in these dark hours. And she would do her damnedest to breed hope and light in all the hearts she touched. These are the gifts brought by the Engineer. Her most prized possessions.

Rorin grew a bit startled at the queens sudden move to war. He was prepared- but expected much more for such a move to happen. Macon was of an immeasurable danger and the queen seemed to have more than just a country at stake in this war. Immediately the gears of his mind turned towards the soldiers flanks while Lionel spun his tale. An ambush indeed. Enough to throw the knight commander off guard. Then the mans death must be weighing on him so as every ome under his hand. Rorim held no jealousy for his companions position was in truth merely one of service to the world. "Ser, I can have the men mobilized and ready to practice at dawn. We need not games- tis trimming their sides I worry of." It wss true, and it was also true that Rorins graveled tin voice and able body was much respected among the mass now as one of unexpected skill. He looked to his leader with more than respect- Lionel was like a father to the poor lad yet it would be hard to tell what Rorin actually thiught behind his closed helm.

Hildegarde listened to the description of the ambush with keen ears. “A caravan,” she murmured. “It sounds as if they were waiting for our dear Hureig to come traipsing down the mountain, seeking trade. He’d stop to help the caravan and our trade would be weakened for it, our supplies weakened for it. A cold war heats up or it freezes over when the supply lines are broken,” she said thoughtfully, thinking about the ambush as if she were the one to set it. Whatever the aim of the ambush was, it had been ruined. But this was not to say an ambush could not be altered to fit its new objective. “The Eyrie will scout down and remove the caravan from our path,” meaning they would rain fire upon it, “the men must not journey down the mountain until the way is clear.” But then the Silver halts for a moment. Mobilising the army is the passionate move, it’s a move that would crush her foe swiftly and easily yet it would leave Frostmaw without the strongest fighting force and the city could defend itself very well. “Change of plan: the army stays here. The Queensguard will mobilise, along with a contingent of men you may select, Knight-Commander,” meaning she was trusting him to pick the right people for the job. “We will journey to Larket. I will not see needless blood shed if I can avoid it. No. I will challenge Macon the Craven to single combat,” she says with a small bob of her head, as if this meant it was so. “If he declines, his own people will see him as weak. He refuses to fight a woman, the ‘Hard City’ will mock him endlessly. He cannot rule those who do not respect or fear him,” for she knew Macon would rule out of fear if he could not have their respect and loyalty. “Single combat. That’s the way of it.” Queen versus King.

Lionel would swear before this queen herself he can see a noble and deserved pride in Alvina Liadon just now. And when Rorin wastes no time making offer, it all comes together like a flawless picture of the many reasons Lionel and Hildegarde will never put down the halberd and the sword. “Do it,” he tells Rorin with a nod. But Hildegarde, well, Hildegarde has pondered and she’s seen through Lionel’s every best guess on the purpose of the caravan without missing a note. The Knight-Commander takes a pace to his left, only a little bit closer to Rorin and Alvina, and he folds his arms and furrows a brow. But Hildegarde continues. And by the time she’s finished, those arms are unfolded, and a noble and deserved pride of Lionel’s own is flush upon his pointed features. “Single combat, eh,” he repeats with the slightest hint of a smirk. “It’s like I’ve always said, queen. You’d have done aces in the wars before your rise.” He turns again to Rorin for further instruction. “Not just any men, my friend. Oh, you’ll make sure they’re -all- ready for anything come tomorrow morning -- consider that an order. We need every troop not just good enough to fight and win but to fight and stay alive. I want Sauriangate’s survival rate, understood?” He pauses, thinking. “Rorin, consider yourself the first man I select for the queen’s mission. Do not speak a word of this to anyone unless and until I tell you otherwise.” His eyes move over Alvina on their way back to the queen; obligation hardens in his heart to ensure Frostmaw keeps her safety as objects in motion escalate to this fever pitch. Now back to Hilde: “You don’t need my approval… but you have it.” He smiles, glad to be Frostmawian.

Alvina observed each person gathered as they spoke in turn. Lionel, describing the ambush. Rorin, voicing his concerns. Hildegarde, dictating that they would find the fastest end to be one on one combat. The bard remembered a similar tactic used when a select group of Frost Giants saw fit to try and take the throne from it's rightful owner. This passionate Dragoness that towered over them all, not only in height but in moral fiber. She would not throw the lives of anyone else into something she could not fully delve into herself. It was a way of ruling that was lost. Words and promises were easy, but actions were another thing all together. Single combat. That's the way of it. It was a mentality worth fighting for, just another reason why the bard choose Hildegarde above all others to serve under. She had battle prowess, strength, compassion...but she also had the respect of all those around her. Happy to lay down their lives in service as equals, friends...instead of slaves. “HEAR HEAR!” Alvina shouts, after Hildegarde concludes her speech, filled to the brim with pride for her guild and her place. What else can she do but be moved by this moment and sing the Queen's praises.

Rorin nodded back and began planning to consult the commanders aide de camp. 'Oh crap,' was his thoughts on a 100% survival rate, followed by 'oh s***,' as he got more than just a postion if command. Rorin was not quite used to responsibility nor was he prepared to carry out this level of tasks. On the inside uf it wasn't something he could stab he was a friggtfup boy and sometimes even then. But he stood, shuffling silently, the only indication that a suit of armor did not hide a brave man.

Kreekitaka had grown tired of waiting. His men were breeding the dinosaurs just like he needed, his shops were all running smoothly, and there was little for him to do back home. So, back up to Frostmaw he went--this time without -quite- so much fanfare, probably because the queen's guards would most likely see the approach of a war scorpion into the throne room as an act of aggression. He'd left Vindicator parked outside for this particular engagement, and instructed whatever entourage he'd brought to remain outside. That said. The crabman continued to dress in the most regal fineries he could find, and his very large frame and distinct sound effects (read: the drum solo that plays on the soundtrack whenever he enters a room) certainly made enough entrance of themselves. Perhaps the guards had tried to stop him. If so, there would likely be a couple of giants trailing behind him, because the King wished to see the Queen, and he would not be denied by some peon with a pointy stick. "Your majesTAH!ee!" he called in a loud voice, clenching his facial crushers and bowing with a flourish of his cape as he entered the room. "I am here TAH!oo hear your HHHTHoughTAH!s on my baTAH!oh pyans, an' TAH!oo TAH!oasTAH! our vicTAH!ory, as I imagine we march soon afTAH!er HHHTHis DAH!ay!" Very jovial, very to-the-point, and -very- presumptuous. Oh dear.

Hildegarde heard the King Crab before she saw him. The Silver looked to Lionel and flashed him a smile that could be interpreted in many ways! “We’ll discuss the ins and outs of this later on,” she assured the Knight-Commander, meaning that what she had to say was a little too sensitive for the present company. The Queen also gestured to Rorin, “You can tell me about this one, too,” she directs her words to Lionel, but the smile goes to Rorin. It’s playfully said, meaning she expects to just learn about Rorin and get to know him better. Finally, she turns her body slightly so as to face Kreekitaka properly, “Kreekitaka, what a pleasure to see you again,” she offers politely and most graciously, as was the standard for Hildegarde. At his mention of ‘our victory’, the Silver offers him a smile and little ‘hmm’ that can definitely be interpreted as ‘oooh boy’. “Ah, yes, Kreekitaka. As I understood it, our relationship was a strictly business – and I do mean financial, rather than political – one. There is no political alliance between us, your actions are your own. I have not sanctioned – nor supported – any such attack on Larket.”

Lionel cannot see behind Rorin’s mask. As such, he has no immediate awareness of the lad’s reception beyond that nod of affirmation. Still, he’s aware how much he’s asked and silently he’s aware that he has asked the impossible. Nevertheless, he has asked young Rorin to try. Alvina’s delightful cheer earns a trademark grin from Catal’s last prince; he cannot imagine any declaration of vengeful intent having ever left him feeling quite so… content. Then the house of cards comes crashing down to the drum of one impatient crustacean maharajah. And a grin becomes a comically brisk descent of the head. Dizziness falls like a pall over Lionel -- but it has nothing to do with Hellfire’s Halycanos or anything of the sort. He steps with casual agility to intercept any remaining distance between Kreekitaka and his queen but does so with a forced countenance of humility. ‘Eagerness to see a business partner,’ his look conveys, but his position is still calculable. Hildegarde’s last statement of present politics earns her a thumbs-up; it’s best that the both of them appear to have been hosting as average an eve as can be. “Yes, my queen. Of course.” He turns to Kree with glee.

Rorin found himself incredibly on edge. He grasped the hilt of his lance long before Kreekitaka entered from just the sound of the things approach. Rorin's other hand went to the scarf he still wore without much thought. Kreek wasn't quite their enemy but was he truly their friend? How did a giant crab man go from being a tailor to a king anyway? Rorin had many questions that weren't right for him to answer and so for now like so many other times he would remain silently by his greater's sides. He had little assurance that the queen wanted to know about him, as he wasn't sure there was much for Lionel to tell. Rorin appeared just as offset- a large man in jutting armor on edge. The queen was picking her words carefully with the crab, as such things may need to be done.

Kreekitaka appeared taken aback--nay, almost affronted. He puffed up his paddles and spread his arms open, glancing side to side for a moment, as if to check for clues that this was some kind of joke. "An' have I aTAH!ackeDAH! YarkeTAH! wiHHHTHouTAH! your permission? Of course noTAH!. I see no reason why we cannoTAH! boHHHTH profiTAH! here, however. You wish Macon gone. I wish for a baTAH!oh. You have been informeDAH! of my pyans, yes? No civiyans are TAH!oo be hurTAH!, Macon is going away, an' you yose noHHHTHing. Sureyee you can see HHHTHe yogic here...?" A battle--as if that was all he wanted, was a fight. A smooth method of downplaying his intentions--his love of combat was as widely-known as his business, after all. "I DAH!on'TAH! remember you refusing my assisTAH!ance when you were noTAH! Queen yeTAH!."

Hildegarde was well aware of Kreekitaka’s love for battle, she had seen it firsthand after all. “You wish for a battle, that might be so but you’re a shrewd businessman above all. You would not battle purely for the sake of it, lest there be plunder or something for you to take,” her tone is calm and civil. The crab can puff his paddles and spread his arms, but the Queen would remain stone still and solid. “I do not recall you refusing my coin to aid me, either. I paid for you to make me weapons. I made a truce with you, Kreekitaka, in exchange for your assistance in making me armour. You did not come to me offering your help, there is a difference, you came to me to protect your investment.” While she may have only had one eye, she was certainly not blind. “There is logic to your words, that cannot be denied. But it seems like the deal is better sugared at your end. I want no part of it, Kreekitaka.”

Lionel is stoic and still. He speaks no words as yet; words will come, but for now, he gauges queen and king. Relaxing his posture even further, he portrays himself as every bit the easygoing protector. But his azure gaze remains locked with Kreekitaka’s gray eyes the entire time. He’ll subtly -- oh, how subtly -- wave his right hand to stealthily order Rorin withdraw the hand at his lance. No need for all that. And then he’ll add to Hilde’s decree. “I told you it would be discussed, friend.” A beat. “You have ambition. This is clear. Frostmaw respects ambition… but her majesty has the way of it. Don’t misunderstand. We value your businesses in this province. We value them abroad.” A wave of his hand. Another beat. That hand remains held high in a closed fist but the smile on Lionel’s lips is courtly. “And please. My friend.” The smile turns smirk. “Don’t act like cash wasn’t the main thing on your mind when you played a role in the war that Hildegarde herself fought to a victory.”

Rorin 's hand gripped hard on the hilt of his lance. The crav creature was... intimidating, to say the least. Although the frost giants nearby would probably take him out it wouldn't be within the second that the thing could end all of their lives. At least it seemed he was trying to help. Even if it was also completely to the creatures own gain. Lionel relaxed Rorin in an instant however with a simple wave of his hand. The pilgrim under service took a deep breath and slowly put his hands behind his back where he would look respectful and dignified despite his appearance. Still though Rorin had half a mind to tuck Kreekitaka's scarf the boy had bought into his coat for not being quite sure where to stand.

Kreekitaka harrumphed. So. Hildegarde wanted no part of his fight. He didn't particularly need her anyhow, to be fair--mostly his waiting on her had been an act of charity. And then it hit him. "Hmm." His demeanor shifted visibly--at first, he'd deflated a little, interrupted, blocked. Now, there was a new gleam in those eyes--something intelligent lurked there inside the crab's carapace, and all of a sudden it had realized a few things. "So. You are noTAH! connecTAH!eDAH! TAH!oo me poyiTAH!icoyee. You vayue my business--inDAH!eeDAH!, I hear your own workers have fayen on harDAH! TAH!imes. I suspecTAH! iTAH! is my inves'menTAH!s an' supporTAH! which is keeping you afyoaTAH! HHHTHrough HHHTHis winTAH!er. However, you wanTAH! no parTAH! of any acTAH! of mine as King." He paused a moment, to allow the ramifications of what he just said to sink in. "HHHTHerefore, I am unDAH!er no obyigation TAH!oo serve you when iTAH! comes TAH!oo maTAH!ers of war, an' am free TAH!oo DAH!oo as I pyease." He rumbled internally, paddles clattering. "Especiayee since you cannoTAH! risk yosing my business here. QuiTAH! HHHTHe preDAH!icamenTAH! you've mayDAH! for yoursevvs." He bowed--this time, definitely a mocking gesture, then turned with a swirl of his cape. "If you wish TAH!oo remain unTAH!oucheDAH! by HHHTHis, you sTAH!ay ouTAH! of my way."

Hildegarde listened to Kreekitaka’s threat and his mocking words. “Take your business out of Frostmaw,” she told him after he had finished all he had to say and do. “Go on, take it. Take your investment, your gold, your property. Take it out of my city,” she bade him. “Act upon the words you have just spoken within mine own fort,” she does not seek to goad him entirely, but the Queen appears entirely calm throughout this exchange. “You can attack Larket if you so wish, that is true. But it is not a joint victory of ours and it never shall be. Mock, cajole, do as you like, Your Grace,” that last part was emphasised, “but take your business and your leave of Frostmaw. Thank you, though, for all your time and your prior effort. It shan’t be forgotten.”

Lionel is a fly on the wall through all this. Here before Queen Hildegarde and Kreekitaka, he is finally operating in a league outside his own. Dark Immortals can spread death throughout whole continents in weeks, sure, but some cynical side of him would almost prefer that be the battleground just about now. On the field, he’ll be her sword and shield the realm. When she’s gone, he’ll speak on her behalf but confirm no plan-of-action ‘til her return. Here within the hallowed halls of Frostmaw’s hard-won throne room, however, the dragon breathes the fire. So Lionel watches Kreekitaka’s cape flourish so close to his face it almost smacks him by the Catalian nose and he wonders if he’s done well enough. He whistles softly, but there’s reverence in his demeanor when he glances to the woman he follows. “He’ll try to ruin us from within,” he warns her with a sigh. “I know you know it. And I know you’re right. But it -will- be a bothersome thing.”

Rorin 's hand gripped hard on the hilt of his lance. The crav creature was... intimidating, to say the least. Although the frost giants nearby would probably take him out it wouldn't be within the second that the thing could end all of their lives. At least it seemed he was trying to help. Even if it was also completely to the creatures own gain. Rorin watched the exchange with some interest despite having to think through some of Kreekitaka's less intelligently departed words. Hildegarde was as stalwart and cold shouldered as a queen of this city should be and Rorin had a few thoughts of his own on the matter of Kreekitaka's army and advancement on Larket. Perhaps Rorin could speak to Lionel about it soon. For now he simply resided near Lionel until things could calm down.

Kreekitaka considered that as he left. Take his business elsewhere? Oh, he certainly would, if that was how she felt--Craughmoyle was just down the mountain, and was such a vital connection point west and the east that he could easily make a killing there. Having been there before, he knew there was even groundwater there, for easy shell-refilling. And since he had decided that instead of taking his ten-to-fifteen percent in gold, he was taking it in -product-, he suspected he would have quite a bit to sort through and sell at a profit later on. Plus, this way, they would be that much more worse-off in every other way--they might even come crawling back to him later for a loan. Once outside, he gave the order--pack everything, lads, we're taking our ten percent of this city and leaving with it. Yes, that includes buildings where applicable. No, it's perfectly okay, ask the Queen, she ordered it.

Hildegarde would wait for Kreekitaka to leave the fort and order his men to mobilise. The Silver would alert Lisbeth that this was not an attack and to not get in their way, though to obviously make sure nothing was being wrongfully taken. The Captain of the Queensguard followed only a minute or two behind Kreekitaka, off to carry out the command of her Queen. The Silver finally releases a sigh. “What is it with self-proclaimed Kings?” she asks of the two, though she doesn’t anticipate an answer. “I apologise that you bore witness to that. But I am also glad. It means you will not tolerate any tomfoolery in my brief absence, for you see exactly how I operate,” she told Lionel. Then she directly addresses Rorin, “You did well today, young sir. You stood tall and brave in the face of the unknown. Good quality, that.”

Lionel perhaps ironically has an answer. “I’ve fought several self-proclaimed kings, myself. It’s usually pride or envy that lifts them up and drops them down. Him, though,” the Catalian pauses thoughtfully. “It’s greed, of course. But there’s smarts in his ways. He’s a longer-standing king than most I’ve scuffled with.” Then he bows slightly in appreciation of her second remark. “No apologies necessary, of course. It was fun to watch.” He chuckles. And then he sees Hildegarde praise Rorin, chiming in as he can. “He has fine form, besides. And he did more than his fair share for Operation Sauriangate. Not only does he serve Frostmaw, but he serves our guild strongly.”

Lionel | The hour grows late as Hildegarde and Lionel speak with Rorin of many things. The young man composes himself well for it despite being in the presence of two figures with whom he associates such storied prestige. In the background, Alvina is quiet and polite -- that is, until Lionel insists she come over and join in the conversation. Suddenly aware that they’ve all been standing in the throne room together chatting about sword techniques and the finer points of political discourse, the queen clears her throat and begs pardon. Lionel, however, will not take no for an answer. In this particular case, not even from his queen. He all but commands her (bold, O’Connor) to sup on a meal with the rest of them. And they’ll do it in the dining hall, gawked-at in near-disbelief from soldiers who will note the Silver kicking back like just another one of the troops. Beverages are poured -- non-alcoholic for the expecting mother, thank you very much -- and the evening is a pleasant one. That, it could be said, is the greatest surprise of all: on the night that Hildegarde declares actionable course against Macon, on the night that Kreekitaka storms out in anger, Frostmaw’s Queen and Knight-Commander still have it in them to eat, drink, and be a little merry. That’s proof positive that Frostmaw will live on. That, Lionel contemplates on his way to his quarters, is justice for Stroud.