Fire and Blood: A Primer on Sangris and the Caldera
April 28, 2021, 8:30 p.m.
Arx - Ward of House Pravus - Vaevici Grounds - Vestibulum
Comments and Log
Maureen, an unflappable nanny, 6 Grayson House Guards, Clark, an exasperated guard arrive, following Sabella.
Theadora, A young Golden Eagle, Amara, a not at all shady looking prodigal, Eos, A Malvici Shield bearer leave, following Santi.
12 House Velenosa Guards, Ibasia, the Velenosa Lady-in-Waiting, Ellani, the palm sized spider arrive, following Jaenelle.
Clowder of nine 1-year old cats, Shekies arrive, following Zakhar.
Ramona - A Guard in Ashford House Colours, Bigsby - A Thoughtful Looking Young Man in Nondescript Clothing, 2 Ashford Archer, 1 Ashford Scout arrive, following Lisebet.
A spring evening in the Vestibulum of the Vaevici estate, and a portion of the garden is set up for the modest gathering that has been set up byt Baroness Calla and her cousin, Lord Titus. Nothing fancy, just some benches and tables arranged in a loose seating arrangement with space before them to speak. There are servants handing out drinks as desired. The Baroness herself is standing to greet whoever decides to show, offering friendly smiles as she nods to each new arrival in turn. "Welcome everyone. Please take your time, get a drink, find a comfortable spot to sit and we'll get started shortly."
"Baroness," greets one Baroness to another: in this case, Ember greeting Calla. The Bloody Baroness of Redreef Shores walks with her hands clasped behind her back and stiff, too-straight posture. Even after she claims a comfortable spot, she doesn't /look/ comfortable. Does she ever?
Titus says, "Or feel free to stand." a haggard voice says behind the baroness coming from the far too pale and gaunt figure of Titus. He doesn't give friendly smiles, he gives friendly serious looks to those coming here."
Kalb, the chill bodyguard arrives, following Nisaa.
Princess Sabella Grayson and Duchess Lisebet Ashford arrive together, talking quietly but jovially about the statues or weather or something not likely to draw undue attention. A large contingent of guards and aides escorted them through the Lowers, and then the Princess led the way to the now-familiar Vaevici estate. "Have you met Lord Titus, Duchess?" She asks once she hears the distinctive voice. "Allow me to introduce you, if you have not."
Like Ember, Piccola is cut from the cloth of 'people that never quite seem comfortable'. Or 'people who never know how to turn the formal mannerisms off'. Of course, like Ember, the General is not best known for being polite. And she doesn't dress that way either: head-to-toe in leather and ironwool, and sporting an arsenal for all ranges, she seems quite prepared for the coming war, be it for the Compact's freedom or the last shot of rum in the house. "It's good to see you again; I should have you over to the Villa more often," continues the Littlest of Snakes, before she trails away to let the next in line make their greetings.
First stop: the place where the drinks are.
Despite the white Pravus naval uniform, the prodigal is clearly a prodigal. So he keeps to himself and after getting a drink, Varosh moves to sit off to the side to listen. His intent coming here was to learn the lore of these houses and better understand them. He tries to avoid running into a noble.
Lisebet, the petite dark haired duchess, flashes a smile at Sabella, amusement showing, good natured as it is. "I have not met Lord Titus, your highness," she replies promptly. "And would love to have such an introduction. After all, your introductions are nearly legendary." She is relaxed and alert, taking in the gardens and decorations with some curiosity. "I have to admit, this is my first time to come this way." Mostly. Harlan did bring her dancing ... somewhere. Lisebet isn't quite sure where.
No retinue flanks the Vice-Admiral of the Rabbits, nor servants riding in the wake of Sabriel's shadow to attend to her needs. Instead the woman with the golden-tinted skin arrives in the hall of her own accord brandishing a small dagger. Playing paring knife, it splits the ripe flesh of an apple-like fruit in her palms, threatening to bleed sweet nectar on to the floors. Her expression is less joyous than the Baroness and it doesn't change when her eyes alight on the more refined woman. She favors a flat, indifferent visage that threatens to break in to a frown at any moment. A pause then, her steps coming to a halt.
"Baroness," Sabriel states in gruff greeting. A chunk of the fruit finds its way to her lips before she continues and carries herself in to the hall proper.
The old man with cats following, kind of, and a black and white marbled one that seems to be trying its best to ride upon his shoulder. Exotic leathers make up most of his clothing with some hints of dark silks. Then a vest, that / of course / has several small blades showing from loops upon it. Upon hearing about drinks, he heads directly for the selection. A nod to Piccola, "Genril." Then Sabella, who is greeted with something that could be a hello or a grunt along with the worst possible salute or there's two fingers involved possibly something else entirely. Titus is given a nod and a wave as he then heads to find a seat from grabbing a drink.
Alberico, the Malespero aide have been dismissed.
Louis, a Malespero Armsman have been dismissed.
A pack of giggling and gossiping Redreef handmaidens, A pit bull that Ember never bothered to name leave, following Ember.
"Of course, if you'd rather stand, that is perfectly fine as well." Calla adds when Titus corrects her. To Ember, her smile brightens. "Baroness! I'm so glad you made it out to this, always a pleasure to be in your company." To Piccola, she dips her head respectfully, "General! How fantastic to see you again! I would love to come visit your Villa, I do need to get out of the estate more." When The Grayson Princess and Ashford Duchess arrive, she looks expectantly at her cousin for a moment. "Can I get in on these introduction? Titus is my cousin, I'm Calla Vaevici, Baroness of Sangris in the Caldera." She offers with a respectful bow of her head.
Juba'al'samara, a Suj'abbati royal guardsman, A dutiful Valardin aide, 2 Valardin Knights arrive, following Katarina.
Jaenelle enters the Vaevici grounds, moving first to smile and dip her head towards Calla in greeting. "Well met, Baroness Vaevici" she says before turning towards Titus He gets a soft smile and there is something in her hand that is passed over, "you know I enjoy stories." Then she moves off to settle off to the side so she isnt in the way of others.
Who should enter next? Why, it's Princess Katarina Valardin. The diminutive woman is in head to toe black and silver, her hands in front of her lap as she walks. The huge mass of ringlet curls atop her head shifts this way and that, giving away where she's looking and to whom she's nodding.
The Whisper is quiet in her arrival, sandaled feet taking light, graceful steps. Verdigris eyes are open wide, taking in the scenery of a place Nisaa has never been, their tone contrasting deeply against her dusky skin and dark hair. Unfamiliar with most in attendance, she lets a friendly smile adorn her features as she finds a place to enjoy the evening.
"Lord Titus!" Sabella greets the man brightly, her characteristic cheer fully present. "Might I introduce you to Duchess Lisebet Ashford? Duchess, Lord Titus Vaevici. He was telling me some background of their house and his goals recently. I am sure we will all learn a lot today." She looks between the two, adding, "She grew up among a seafaring family, she will understand somewhat more about island life." A glance around finds her giving a polite nod to Zakhar and a few others before greeting Jaenelle. "Has my cousin caused you to banish him from your ward, yet?" There is a glimmer of amusement in her eyes.
Piccola inclines her head respectfully to Titus, but says nothing else. She scans the table of drinks, but it does not appear she finds one that she's looking for. So, she finds herself a seat under the gilded canopy, eyes searching thereafter through the crowd of entrants that have come to listen. There, she sits with her hood up over her head, her hands in her lap, and her body held still, even with all of that weaponry still strapped to her like haphazard appendages. It's hard to see her face; the shadows love her, apparently.
She silently waits and watches.
"A pleasure, Lord Titus," Lisebet says, with a smile. She glances over at Calla and says, "Indeed you may! A pleasure to meet you, Baroness Vaevici. As Princes Sabella here said, I'm Lisebet Ashford, Duchess of Ashford Keep, and this is Princess Sabella Grayson. I am very pleased to meet you both. And I see there are others here that I have not met previously, so I am quite glad you have afforded me the opportunity. Thank you!" She's also cheerful, if perhaps a tad bit less effervescent than Sabella can be.
Titus touches his hand to his chest as he bows to the Grayson nobility. "It's good to see you here, your highness and welcome to the Vaevici compound of Arx. There's sufficient drinks and refreshments that you're welcome to enjoy while we feast on knowledge tonight." He also welcomes others, and seeing Jaenelle, he also touches his heart as he takes something. The blood red eyes look at the smooth object in his white spidery palm before the long fingers clasp it. "I'm glad you came, arch duchess. Tonight you'll be given a small glimpse to a place far from here, and should we be fortunate, you'll see a rare petal bloom. Your hairpins remind me of an old story of things that sing, things that sleep far below in the deep."
Varosh's attempts at isolation are for naught as Sabriel's calf-high leather boots allow her to quietly wind the benches and refreshments to find a less sophisticated shore explore. She stops within an arms length and a small measure. Herself a towering specimen, especially given her membership in the fairer of the genders, she does not have to cast her goldenrod irises high to take an appraising glance at the coarsely groomed man.
"You do not smell like the others," Sabriel states flatly, her attention shifting to the other occupants of the hall with a sweep of her eyes. Another slice of her knife against the fruit's flesh and she spirits the morsel away in to her maw.
Katarina's greetings and such and so forth are muted and pleasantly cordial -- perhaps she has Stuff on her mind. She approaches the refreshments and selects whatever looks to be the mildest thing on offer. Rather than finding a chair, she remains standing, opting to hold her drink with both hands as her feet come to rest right next to where Piccola is seated.
Piccola has joined the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
Katarina has joined the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
Adalyn slips into the hall with relatively subdued steps, careful not to call attention to her late arrival. As she walks, she takes in the unfamiliar surroundings and scans the faces for those who might appear familiar. Overhearing Titus's remarks, she offers a smile, one both warm and somewhat relieved. "Oh, good. It seems I've not missed the discussion?"
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Adalyn before departing.
To Jaenelle, Calla wrinkles her nose slightly bt never loses her smile. "Very nice to meet you too, Archduchess." She adds after hearing Titus adress her, bowing her head politely. Smiling then towards Lisbet when she makes the introductions, she nods "The pleasure is all mine, Duchess, Your highness," she bobs her head to each in turn before "I'm so glad that my cousin is making such fine aquaintainces in his short time in Arx. He'll put my own efforts to shame. Indeed, please get some refreshments, and we will start momentarily." Little waves of greeting are sent to those who have arrived since, Katarina, Sabriel, Nisaa, as she makes her way to fet a glass of wine on her way to the front of the gathering.
Sabella turns her dazzling smile on Calla, holding out a hand to clasp the other woman's briefly in greeting. "Baroness Calla, pardon me for the slight delay in greeting you. I am thankful to you and your cousin for hosting this meeting." Then she's seeking out a spot to sit, a glass of wine and then a spot to sit.
Varosh leans back on his chair, drinking whatever it was that they were offering, a couple uniformed reavers standing next to him. Sabriel's arrival draws Varosh's gaze to her for a brief moment. He nods politely but does not say anything at first. Her remark makes his brow furrow and he asks, "Huh?" Sniffing his shirt.
Varosh has joined the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
Varosh has left the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
3 Black Fleet Reavers have been dismissed.
Varosh has joined the floral vines small round table and padded chairs.
Sabella has joined the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
Wine. Wine does sound good. It will occupy her hands and save her from simply standing like some decorative statue. Nisaa heads to the refreshments on display to gather a glass for herself, returning the small wave from Calla with a smile with her other hand as she does so. Once the libation is acquired, she starts to slowly meander around the area, sure to not obstruct anyone's view, but choosing not to sit or stand in one place either. Spotting Katarina, the Whisper gives a respectful dip of her head in greeting.
"So you have promised, and I look forward to the possibilties" Jaenelle tells Titus in return. "I still wish to see if such can do well within the gardens of Lenosia should time prove gentle and generous." There is amusement as she shifts her attention from Titus to Sabella, "yes, unfortunately. I am sure he regrets all he has done to cause such a judgement." Surprisingly, Jaenelle knows Varosh. She has spent time with the Truesworn. The man is given a nod of her head before she address, "please tell Princess Sudara that it has been far too long since the Truesworn has kidnapped me, and we should certainly fix this." Then there is Piccola, and she smiles towards the woman. "General" she greets, chin lifting slightly.
Katarina returns the nod to Nisaa, having caught it just in time after some long moments spent staring down at her wine. Her veil obscures her features south of her eyes, but she can't really hide that she's as tense as any fleet admiral about to sail to war.
Titus makes his way to greet the others so that Calla might take center stage, gesturing very helpfully at benches, seats, cushioned places and very nice standing spots while drinks and things are brought for every guest. He then takes a place to stand with his arms crossed over his chest to listen.
Lisebet inclines her head to Calla and Titus, and heads over with Sabella to get refreshments. For Lisebet, she tries a glass of wine, and then heads over to join some folks in the seating area, including the princess she arrived with. She pauses though, to bow her head respectfully to Jaenelle on the way. She takes her seat, offering a smile to Katarina and a nod that way too. As she settles in and smoothes her skirts, Lisebet watches those at the front of the gathering curiously.
Lisebet has joined the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
The General looks up at Jaenelle from where she sits.
And she rises for the Archduchess Regent. "Your Grace." A bow follows. But then the Silent Serpent sits down once more, her attention clearly fixed on Titus and Calla, the hosts for the evening. She is primed to listen and pay attention. Curious. Fascinated, perhaps. Or concerned. It's hard to tell from the hard-to-see-expression on her face.
Her hands return to resting in her lap.
Varosh meets Jaenelle's greeting and words with a polite smile. He chuckles softly and nods, "I will make sure she knows." He says to her, turning his gaze back to the stranger sitting with him and his boys.
When people have finally settled in whatever spot they are most comfortable in, Calla makes her way in front of them, holding a glass of wine in her hand which she taps gently with the band of her signet ring to catch people's attention with the soft tinkling sound. "Welcome everyone! I'm so thrilled to have you all here for this casual evening of information about our House." She nods towards Titus. "A bit about our history, and hopefully our future. We are aware that Sangirs was mentioned in a recent war briefing, and we thought it wise if we'd make ourself available for anyone who might have questions or just want to learn more about us Warmongers." Her smile dances sligthly upon her lips before proceeding.
"First I would like to talk about Sangris, a city and fortifications made entirely from Calderan Bloodstone. Our walls, which we call the Watchers have never been breached in the numerous centuries that they have stood. The Watchers are the reason we're still here, as a House, when everyone else in the Caldera were intent on our destruction. They have become infamous and feared as much as they are impenetrable. They keep watch over us, always. We've witheld sieges before, and we're prepared to again in this war, if absolutely necessary." She looks over to Titus with a nod and steps aside to allow him to speak next.
The only mind Sabriel pays the reavers is in her languid motions with the sharp implement in her hand. Fortunately, its only victim tonight seems to be that of her snack which quickly vanishes between her lips. There is soon no evidence it ever existed. The man's response elicits a mildly exasperated snort and a cast of her eyes to the heavens above as if to ask the Seven for strength. She turns her attention to the crimson frocked master of ceremonies, sheathing her dagger to make room for a glass of whatever wine was being offered.
"Why do I ever leave the brig?" Sabriel mutters mostly to herself in breathy tones. She does not nurse the drink and tilts back her head to draw it in to herself in one greedy swallow. Tilting back, she has to reach up to hold her tricorne in place lest it succumb to gravity.
1 Ivory Shields, Philippe arrive, following Orland.
Varosh regards Sabriel for another brief moment. He then turns towards the speakers to listen to them instead.
Orland has joined the floral vines small round table and padded chairs.
Zakhar has joined the floral vines small round table and padded chairs.
Titus steps forward. His voice isn't as loud as Calla's, it is lower and rough like the lungs are decayed. "The Caldera is not like areas you've been to, it's desolate and brutal. The Red City sits in the valley of the Vaevici, protected and isolated from the world by the near impassible mountains that ring across the Caldera region. It's quite far from Arx, in the most southwestern area of the Saffron Chains. To reach Sangris and the Caldera, you'd need to pass the Sea of Skulls. Often, our navy would destroy merchants or interlopers that would intrude on our realm. The Sea of Skulls itself is named from the brutality of wars endured here, and whether you believe legends or not, the spirits of those Vaevici and Sangrinites that weren't returned to Sangris are cursed to continue their naval wars they fought in life. A very dangerous place one shouldn't spend much time in. Beyond the Sea of Skulls you'll then reach the Valley of Flies where Warmongers like myself leave the corpses and headless bodies of the vanquished to rot, a warning for anyone who dares to attack. You then need to traverse the Gorgon's Neck, a very thin pass to reach Sangris where the Watchers loom high above made out of the Calderan Bloodstones that I've seen many of you wear."
"The land of Sangris a bit over a decade ago was affected by what we call the Crimson Withering. It turned the land red, crops and plants wilted away, animals and people suffered and died. Beyond Sangris, the Caldera stretches out far and wide. It has dark jungles, full of alpha predators. Ruins. Lakes that look calm and peaceful but will kill you with just one touch. "
After Titus finishes his spot about the lakes, Piccola holds up her hand as if she had an inquiry to raise.
With murmured greetings to familiar faces and a pleasant smile sent to unfamilar ones, Adalyn acquires a glass of wine and settles into a seat. Devoting attention to first Calla, then Titus as they speak, she listens attentively to both in turn. The words are descriptive enough that she can attempt to envision the place itself, a polite silence maintained while she digests this information.
Adalyn has joined the floral vines small round table and padded chairs.
While she sips wine and slowly meanders about, Nisaa focuses on the speakers. She has never been to these cities and is eager to learn what she can about them. Titus' words about the Sea of Skulls and the deadly lakes and predators of the land cause her to pause in her steps. She looks rather intrigued by this. Before she can be accused of staring, she lifts her free hand to delicately trace her earlobe, tucking a curl just behind it before she begins to walk once more.
Katarina remains stood next to where Piccola is seated, and while the General raises a hand, Katarina lowers her head. She stares down at her wine as she takes in talk of Warmongers, Skulls, Flies, restless spirits, rotting flesh... wherever her imagination has taken the diminutive Princess, one can only guess, but the educated guess would be it's somewhere horrible.
"It's certainly not the most inviting place in the world, but is suits us warmongers just fine." Calla responds with a much more cheery countenance than her cousin. "Where some see desolate and barren, we see highly defensible and strategically positioned. War is our way of life, we breathe it through every ounce of our being. Everything about our territory is designed to keep our enemies at bay." She pauses when she sees Picolla's hand go up. "Please, General, ask what you will."
Orland has left the floral vines small round table and padded chairs.
1 Ivory Shields, Philippe leave, following Orland.
"I have a couple of questions, my Lady."
Piccola rises so that she can better project her voice. "Given the Crimson Withering, how long do you think Sangris could withstand a prolonged, complete siege?" Beat. "And about the Valley of the Vaevici, could you briefly describe its terrain and suitability for staging a defense outside of the Watchers?"
And then she sits down again.
Zakhar has left the floral vines small round table and padded chairs.
Clowder of nine 1-year old cats, Shekies leave, following Zakhar.
Lisebet looks over to Sabella, and murmurs, "Far different than Westrock Reach." A delicate half shrug follows, and then Lisebet quiets to listen. She does look around the room though, taking in reactions of those she can see. Her brow furrows at the lowered head of said diminutive princess, her own head tilting slightly, thoughtfully. She turns to the General as Piccola asks her questions, the thoughtful expression still on her face.
"The Crimson Withering didn't affect all of us, and we've rebounded nicely since then, especially with the aid of Pravus once we bent the knee to them." Calla starts to answer Piccola's question. "For some months, we have been stockpiling supplies in Sangris so that it may be used as a secondary fall back for our forces if Pieros were to fall. So it's already supplied and ready to be locked down at a moment's notice. As for the terrain outside of Sangris, like my cousin said, there's only one way to get to us at the end of a very long Valley, with the Watchers rising up on all sides completely surrounding the city. There's only one way in and out, and that's through the front gate, which is very secure." She glances over at Titus, "Anything to add to that?"
Remaining standing, Sabriel crosses her arms under her breast and widens her stance to minimize the amount of effort she needs to put forth. Gently she shifts her weight from one leather-clad foot to the other as if aboard the undulating deck of a brigandine. She spreads a portion of her attention evenly across those speaking: the pair at the fore professing their knowledge of the chain of islands, and the comparatively diminutive General, but she seems to be paying most of her mind to her teeth. Idly she picks at the porcelain hued edges with a nail.
Varosh pulls out a journal and writing instrument to add to its pages. He notes down some verbiage while speaking under his breath, "Supplies stockpiled in Sangris..." He face wrinkles as he frowns, adding his own thoughts to what he wrote. Once satisfied, Varosh looks back up to listen to Titus and Calla.
Titus adds, "What you must understand is the entire culture, the entire purpose of every single Sangrinite, is for war. As Sangris protects its children, so will every child and adult would die to protect Sangris. As our economy and culture is war, other distractions don't pull away needlessly. The minimalist society coupled with the natural defenses and thousands of years without the walls being breached create a near impregnable fortress from any land attack. We've adapted to the conditions of the Caldera and rule it because of that. However, any other forces coming to support Sangris would need to also adopt a more minimalist lifestyle along with more supplies in order to win over a siege."
"If there are no more questions immediately, I'll move on." Calla clears her throat a bit. "The Caldera is one of the bigger, if not the biggest island in the Saffron Chain, and we are certainly not the only inhabitants. There are at least a dozen different Abandoned tribes and Houses in the Caldera proper, and none of them are particularly friendly with anyone else, especially not with Vaevici, since we've feuded for long lost reasons with most of them for as long as our history has been recorded. It is my hope, that once the war is resolved, that Vaevici will reach out to these other Calderan tribes in the aim of working together instead of against each other so. We've already started with a very small group called the S'ki, and it was most successful. I may be the very worst of warmongers for trying to go the route of peace, but I think something radical is needed to bring new life to the Caldera and it's inhabitants, even if the landscape should remain mostly uninhabitable."
It does not appear that the General has any more questions.
Rather, Piccola seems to fold into herself a little. From afar, it would appear that she's thinking, her lips twisting into a troubled look. Perhaps there is something disagreeable that she has heard or comes into her head now that her questions have been answered. Her arms rise, that she may cross them over her chest.
Whatever moves her is kept silent.
Sabella nods to Lisebet's comment, but doesn't appear surprised - she's had a chance to digest this information before. As Piccola asks on defensibility, her nose wrinkles. However, Calla's response eases some of her concern. She takes a moment to sip some wine before speaking. "Baroness, that the Vaevici and people of Tremorus have stepped up to make, what appears to be, such a sacrifice for the Compact's chance at decisive victory is commendable. However, I have concerns about the imbalance that the Skal'dajans bring to a siege against either of your lands. I have requested that those with land forces to spare, and who are willing to send them to your aid, be given leave to do so. I was informed that the extra bodies may be welcome, but that supplying them for the long term - however long that may be - could be prohibitive to either or both of you." She glances at Titus with disdain as he mentions children, but focuses back on Calla. "I informed the Crown Council, and I inform you now, that if you have need of supplies to support reinforcements, I am personally offering 500,000 silver and some tactical assistance to split between Sangris and Tremorus. The Compact is strong because of its people." So says the People's Princess. "How likely are these other inhabitants to accept your shelter in good faith rather than side with the Skal'dajans?"
Adalyn listens with a pensive frown, mulling over the information offered thus far. She has just opened her mouth, poised to speak, when she notes an approaching messenger slipping surreptitiously into the gathering to deliver a missive. Murmuring her apologies, she rises from her seat and slips out as unobtrusively as she is able to deal with pressing matters which call her attention.
Adalyn has left the floral vines small round table and padded chairs.
Titus listens to Sabella and he bows his head to the offer graciously. "You're ever gracious and generous, an example clearly of why being within the Compact is better than being alone outside of it. Thank you." He glances to Calla though. "The Baroness has a dream to bring peace through the Caldera and I support that wholly. She's different than other Vaevici, opposite of me for example but I would break the Heartspine itself to see her vision come to reality." He quietens a little, the voice decaying, "To the Vaevici all battlefields are a temple in which we offer to the gods our victories. We conduct the choir of the vanquished as they sing their songs of woe and teach them their final lessons before their end comes. And should we spill enough blood and destroy enough enemies, one day we might earn the peace we desire and the glory that comes with that. But war without a goal for peace is merely destruction, there's no glory in that. It's similar to a serpent consuming itself out of ravenous greed."
"I believe that there are tribes who would listen to the Baroness. There may be other tribes who won't come shelter but could be given assistance so they might also tarry the Eurusi. And other tribes will need to be destroyed, their memory left as pyramids in the jungles."
Titus is overheard praising Sabella: You're ever gracious and generous, an example clearly of why being within the Compact is better than being alone outside of it. Thank you.
Calla blinks openly in teh direction of the Grayson princess when she speaks up, folding her hands demurely together in front of her as she listens intently. "Yor highness. That is a most generous offer indeed, and I will graciously accept any help that might be afforded to us and House Leporidae, as our closest allies and fellow inhabitants of the Chain. Like I said, Sangris has stood for near to a thousand years now, even with the forces of the Skal'dajans, I still believe that the Watchers will not fail us now, when we're so close to a rebirth of sorts into a more prosperous future." She ponders a moment on the subject of the other abandonned. "At this point, I do not know. I am sure there are one or two houses out there who would love to side with out enemies if it means getting rid of House Vaevici, but I do believe I can be persuasive when I want to be. And if they don't shelter with us, I doubt they will side with anyone else. Though, offering shelter could be a good way to open peace talks as well."
Sir Mayhem, A silvery marmoset leaves, following Calla.
Lisebet smiles, shaking her head. "A most generous offer, Princess Sabella. I am not sure how any one else could follow such generosity." She hesitates a moment, considering. "It seems a very harsh climage, but well defensible, which is a good thing. It also seems a very serious place, Lord Titus, and overall, it seems quite different from my childhood home of Westrock Reach." That would be the island that Sabella referred to wayy back at the beginning.
The General rises once more, resting her hand for a moment on Katarina's arm, for she is near.
But she says nothing. With a tilting of her head, she makes her way to the exit as if summoned by the spheres or something unseen yet compelling.
Soon, she has left.
Piccola has left the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
There does not seem to be any surprise on Jaenelle's face as those gathered listen to the lands that are so far from the Capital they sit in. "Have your people ever dealt with those enemies we face now? Though the Watchers have protected your city, and those within it, what have they protected it from? I only ask to get a better understanding as the Compact hopes to pin those enemies in the bay to avoid a siege to Sangris. The forces of the fealties will be there in hopes that we can avoid any damages. We can not be sure about Pieros and protecting the city, though the Compact has seen such destruction before. It chose to protect Setarco, at the cost of the demolishing of two other cities. War is, as I am sure your people know, is something that even its winners lose."
"It is not a matter of generosity," Sabella claims, shaking her head gently. "It is a matter of upholding the responsibilities of the Compact. The virtues of the gods. Be it Gild or Limerance or Gloria in this case. I am no warrior, and the time for my gift of speaking is well past. This? This is what I can do."
Sabriel whistles quietly through her teeth after the Princess Sabella has made her declaration, the lilting tone dropping to the ground almost as quickly as it leaves her mouth. "Bitch has a few coins to throw around," she mutters under her breath before shifting her weight with a tilt of her hips to favor her left leg.
At the mention of pinning quarry in the bay by the other woman born in to royal lineage, Sabriel's interest piques and she flickers her gaze in the other woman's direction. She blinks once then cocks her head to the side as if she could not fight the force of gravity for that much longer. It's a moment or two more before she levels herself with the horizon line again: a slight smile creeping across her lips and a squeeze of her upper arms following.
Titus gives a nod to Lisabet. "It's my home. While the cultures and experiences may be very different, it's those differences which gives all of us strength versus being alone in the world." He silently ponders Jaenelle and other questions. "I will give some more history of our area of the world. An ally calls us the Lost People, a people that the peoples of Arvum have forgotten. Warmongers like myself have spilled generations of blood to the Watchers that guard Sangris and we believe in those Watchers to stand strong. While they've lasted over a thousand years of brutal battles, they also lasted another war in which my ancestors overcame a terrible threat to the world. Very similar to other guardian families that already exist in the Compact! As Arx is the Thinnest Point and we should protect it, Sangris itself also needs to be protected. Should it fall to our ancestral enemies, the Vaevici culture of war will be erased and instead twisted to a culture of wanton destruction. I would desire the Baroness to make her excellent words to turn your hearts, but I'm not her. So to help with the war, it makes strategic sense to protect Sangris with what forces or supplies you could spare while we all in our ways fight against those who want to see all of us perish."
Titus says, "Do any of you have specific questions about Sangris, the Caldera or something else on your hearts or minds? It might be better I answer those than just talk about something you might not feel important."
Sabella speaks up again, "Actually!" She has a question. Or several. "You speak of your people as being very militaristic, serious and minimal. But all people need moments of leisure, little pieces of indulgence. What sort of things do the Sangrians do for entertainment, or luxuries do they covet?"
There is almost a sadness to Jaenelle's features as she listens to Titus, a helplessness to the woman's expression. "There is much at stake in the upcoming weeks, things will be lost that can never be returned again. So many people will suffer, so many will die without fulfilling their life's work whatever that may be. Perhaps an entire people will find that they no longer have a home, a way of life. I am sorry" she states simply, knowing full well the odds are directly on the shoulders of the people who have withstood for centuries and might not have any time left. "I pray that our next conversation is one of happiness, and I hope, Lord Titus that we have the opportunity to have another conversation." To Sabella she answers, "they kill things." Because clearly! Sabriel is glanced at, perhaps due to her muttering of money, "people will not have much of it. Last time such things happened to the Compact entire armies were wiped out. Unfortunately those cost a lot."
Lisebet smiles at Sabella. "All true, but generosity should not be underestimated," she says softly. She turns then to listen to Titus, curiously. "It's a question that was on my mind as well, what is it that happens during times of peace - even if they are relatively short lived times in between troubles." The petite duchess pauses at Jaenelle's words, and her expression falls briefly, sadly. Left wordless with the finality of it all, she simply steps back.
Blood red eyes stare at Sabella as Titus tries to think on that. "I like to build pyramids of skulls on battlefields I've won. But I also enjoy standing on the Watchers and looking as the sun sets and floods the valley with many colours before it bleeds to darkness. Many though enjoy the ceremonies where we sing the songs and dance the dances when a Vaevici is burned to cinders at the Temple of Pyros. Remembering what they did, to feel the rush in your spirit as their pyros is returned to Sangris as the embers and sparks float up in the air. Our people only focus on war, there is nothing else in their minds or hearts. For some Warmongers, our desire transcends just war as we focus on strengthening our pyros so that when we die and are burned, our pyros strengthens Sangris. There is an ancient ode to the Stone Watchers that says A warrior of Sangris has no dream but to die under the shade of her city walls, gone in the blazes of honor to feed the Pyros of her people. In the death of one, a hundred more grip their spears tighter."
Towards Jaenelle, Titus says "If I fail my duty to protect Sangris and it falls, I will not find rest when I die. I will be like those on the Sea of Skulls. As a Withered, even if I'm alone I'll stand with the Watchers and defend Sangris."
But an idea comes to his mind and he gestures with the white hands for others to follow him. "Please follow me along the pond, I wish to show you something if you all have time."
"I have time," lisebet says, softly to Titus. She'll go see what he would like to show. There's a gentle smile on her face, perhaps at odds with the keen interest in her eyes.
There isn't much for Sabella to say in response to Titus, but she is clearly thinking something over deeply. When Lisebet says she has time, the princess agrees with a nod, ready to follow.
It's instinct or happenstance that links Sabriel's goldenrod eyes with that of Jaenelle's beryl orbs; it's the other woman's words that elicit a derisive burst of air from between the pirate's lips. "Art and legacy," she states with a dour edge to her gruff but cloying voice. She plants a hand on her hip and subconsciously curls the other around the hilt of her blade as her gaze grows distance for the span of a pair of heartbeats. It's Titus' voice that knocks her out of her fugue, eliciting an abrupt about-face from Sabriel as she drifts to fall in to tow.
Nisaa moves to place her empty wine glass on a table then gives a nod towards the hosts for the evening. Then, just as quietly as she stepped in, the Whisper slips out.
Kalb, the chill bodyguard leaves, following Nisaa.
"I too like lighting things on fire" Jaenelle tells Titus casually as she begins to follow him when the request is asked. "Though it is less people. Perhaps I should change that before coming to visit. With it being so far south, I imagine the summers are unbearable. How are the winters?" she wonders before turning towards Sabriel, "does art and legacies have a common connection between the two?"
Titus leads the group further into the vestibulum towards the pond in the central garden. To Jaenelle, he actually has a grin which pulls tight the skin across the skeletal face wide, "The winters are very mild and warm, wet. The summers can be exceptionally hot and should you not look after yourself, you can easily die just from exhaustion."
As they are more away from the lanterns, it lets the moonlight shine and reflect off the water. Something moves in the darker waters there below, but Titus for now isn't looking there. After a bit of time getting their eyes accustomed to the dark, they can see it. One at the beginning, and then another until around the back of the pond there are gently glowing blossoms of a flower they wouldn't have seen before which has an odd blue light emanating from it. "This is a Sangrian Blueclaw, it grows in a particular part of the Caldera and while others don't like it, I find the leaves to be very good eating. I had no luck getting it to bloom here in Arx, but with the help of many others that come from all sorts of houses and regions of our Compact, we were finally able to see it bloom like you can see tonight. What does this mean? I might have held this secret to myself, but then it'd die with me. Or I could share it with others and through their own unique life experiences, they can bring out something even better than I could myself. I believe the same is with Sangris. Sangris is a very special place, full of legend and myths dating back before human or elf if you believe such stories. While every part of me desires to protect it and keep it isolated, an ally pointed out that our walls not only keep enemies out, it also keeps friends from forming. I would put my ego aside and let down my own walls for you all who'd be interested in keeping Sangris safe from the hands of our ancient enemies, to see Calla's vision of peace have a chance."
Lisebet comes to a stop, and waits as her eyes adjust to the darker area away from the lights. As the glow of the blue flowers slowly comes to her attention, she blinks, and then blinks again. "Beautiful," she murmurs softly, acknowledging the moment with one word. There's a moment as her blue eyes take in the sight and the words that Titus says. She's quiet for a long moment, and then she smiles, that genuine sweet smile that perhaps wins over her friends. "It - is - absolutely wonderful to see what can happen when we all work together. I find there are many things to which we owe such groups of ingenious, smart and dedicated people. I am willing to also help see our allies safe, as I am able to do so."
Standing back a bit, Sabella glances at Titus with a smile. "I do believe they should all be offered a petal."
Sabriel tenses up a measure as Jaenelle addresses her, rankled by some unseen force in tone, presence, or word. Her eyes remain fixed forward for the most part, only glancing side long at the princess once along the trip towards the pond.
"Aye," Sabriel nods tersely. She releases a breath she didn't realize she had been holding. Once again her arms fold across her breast as if she needed to be defended from the gaggle lingering around the Calderan plant. "Why do anything if you are not to be remembered? Immortality waits for the ambitious to pluck it from its thorny bough and no amount of gilding and silken finery will ever resonate through time as thoroughly as a song uttered on the lips of your kinsmen, or better yet that of your driven enemies." She affords Jaenelle a wolfish grin as she turns to look directly at the princess.
Lisebet checks composure at hard. Lisebet is successful.
Jaenelle checks composure at hard. Jaenelle is successful.
Katarina has left the garden bench with gilded arbor canopy and rose trellis.
Juba'al'samara, a Suj'abbati royal guardsman, A dutiful Valardin aide, 2 Valardin Knights leave, following Katarina.
Varosh checks composure at hard. Varosh is successful.
Titus hears to offer a glowing petal. "Oh yes, I quite like them myself." He gestures, "Go ahead and pluck whichever glowing petal you'd like." He goes to show them, a blue glowing petal in his hand which turns his finger and thumb a pallid blue colour before he opens his mouth and consumes. He makes the "Mmm." noise to show that he's either immune from the poison, or that it is good.
Varosh plucks a petal for himself, placing it under his teeth and chewing it. Using his tongue he shoves some of of the blue leave under his bottom lip and sits back, not swallowing the leave and letting it swell under his lip.
"I agree" Jaenelle tells Sabriel. "As someone who has watches all of her family and friends slowly die, or in one cause disappear entirely from sight, or eaten by a glass shark, or poisoned, or ripped to shreds, it is a terrible feeling to wonder if you will be remembered. If there is anyone left still living who will speak your name, or if it will slowly but surely slip from minds as time goes on and none will ever say anything about you again. Perhaps it is why I make it a point to ask others to remember me, even if the memories are short lived or horrible. At least there is one person who will do so. So here we are, and I will always remember you" she tells the other woman with a serious expression. Then she turns towards the flower she has heard so much about and plucks one of the petals to lay against her tongue.
Lisebet looks over to Sabriel and Jaenelle at their interchange, and she half shrugs delicately. "That seems similar to our hall of heroes, in some ways. I can rather understand that." And then there's the offer to eat a glowing blue petal. Lisebet's eyes widen, and then she laughs softly, the sound musical. She shakes her head, and watches to see as Titus shows his own skill at eating such things. She reaches for one of the petals, breaking it off gently, and examining it briefly. She even sniffs it curiously, while looking at the colour that it turns her finger and thumb, bemused. Then she follows the examples, and puts it into her mouth, tasting it. The flavour is the first thing to hit her, strong as it is. The velvety texture is not too bad, nor is that strong, unique flavour. Those things she's quite okay with, but the thick stickiness of it going down her throat is something that causes her a moment of concern. It would never do to throw up, after all. She manages to keep her composure, and is quite glad of it. "That is quite interesting," she says. "It has a flavour I am not able to even think what to compare it to." Hey, she's only so far vomited in public once, and that was when she was with child. She's not planning to start now. Thankfully.
Sabella does not take a petal for herself, though she watches the others curiously as they try it. "It is... Floral, like lavender. But sharp, like pepper. And something else entirely." She shares her opinion on the flavor.
Titus might have snuck one more petal when someone might not have watched. As they're all either munching or talking, he says "There's far more secrets and mysteries hidden away in the Caldera, some with a pleasing taste to particular people and some that is a bit less pleasing. Opportunities to find ruins and temples hidden away in dark jungles, perhaps to learn more about ourselves as individuals in this world that grows larger every day. If you do have other questions and want more individual answers, send word to baroness Calla or myself."
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