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Chapter Eighteen: Bloodlines
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:17 am    Post subject: Chapter Eighteen: Bloodlines  

And here it is for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
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Chapter Eighteen: Bloodlines

They were all on edge, more so now than ever. Not even Alasdair's emergence from his sickbed had managed to dent the tension that was strung around them, strangling them. They had all gathered here, in the library, for what was very likely their last night as well...a family. Or at least as equal siblings. Within the hour, Astor would make his decision...and after him Lukan. Tessa knew in her heart of hearts what Lukan's choice would be, not because of a vision but because her little brother was an honorable man. A man who cared. And she'd watched him age in the past three days more than in the past five months.

They'd scattered to their various favorite spots in the library. Lukan was in his window box, staring out the rain lashed windows at the storm filled sky. Khafi had taken up his usual seat in front of a small table, near enough the fire that the flames could illuminate the pages of the old book he'd been trying to decipher for the past month. Kyrie was rolling about on the big bear skin rug that stretched before the fire place with Aaern, the infant laughing with ever thunderclap from the storm. Alasdair was sitting in a chair near them, his form looking even more skeletal in the flickering firelight. Tessa hadn't moved to her favorite seat yet, a chair large enough for her to sit with her legs curled under her. She just wanted to fix this image in her mind.

Another thunderclap, another peal of infantile laughter, bringing a smile to her face as she watched baby Aaern roll to his father's feet and gesture to be picked up which Alasdair did with only a small wince of difficulty. "And behold the mighty dragon defeated by an infant." Her words were said with soft mirth as she finally took her seat. A few smiles, some honest, some tense, were returned.

Alasdair chuckled, tickling Aaern's small stomach. "Aye. Then again I would give my kingdom for this child."

Lukan coughed and Tessa shot him a glare before he could say the words she knew he'd been going to. While Alasdair had slept, both she and Khafi had heard enough times about how Alasdair's short-sighted inability to put his personal problems aside had cost them the battle and the lives of so many. No doubt the dragon that was her eldest half brother realized the cost, no doubt it weighed upon him. But Alasdair was a good man and there were plenty of human generals who'd made worse mistakes...lost more men to far less menacing foes than the implacable dead.

"So Khafi, made any progress on that old book or is it still defeating you." The ancient book had enthralled them all with it's ornate cover the first time they'd seen it. Dragons and demons, skeletons and men. But it was written in some kind of ancient script none of them had ever seen before, fluid curves and sharp angles. Khafi had begun obsessing over it, searching the other library books for one that could help translate it.

His dark head rose, strands of long black hair waving as he shook it. "I confess, I'm nearly to the point where I'm going to give up on it. The illustrations are intriguing, and I'm guessing it's a book of tales about those dark times long ago when the gate opened. But I'm no closer to reading it now than I was then."

"Perhaps I could look at it. There are plenty of tales in the north about those times. Maybe I can help." Alasdair handed Aaern back to Kyrie, turning and holding out his hands for the book. Khafi hesitated a moment before passing it over.

Tessa watched intently as Alasdair stared at the pages, long fingers gently turning the aged parchment. His blond brow was furrowed in concentration for a few moments and she wondered if this was such a good idea. Then he laughed a little.

"This is a very poorly translated version of The Chronicles. Whatever scholar did this thought quite a bit of himself. He's written it in partial Dragonscript. It's rather obvious though that he learned the language fourth or fifth hand. Northern schoolchildren write the script better than this. But if you're curious I can tell you everything that's in this book. So can Kyrie. So could any man or woman of Rhimefaust."

That brought them all crowding around, even Lukan. The illustrations in the book had kept each of them fascinated long enough, frustrated them all that no headway into reading it's secrets could be discovered. Now they drug their chairs close, as if they were schoolchildren themselves. Tessa had to laugh slightly at the sudden close feeling, regretting slightly that they'd never been children together. She could feel some thread of energy that told her there would have been many moments such as this if they had grown up together. Moments of wonder.

To fend off the arguing, Tessa pointed at one of the illustrations as Alasdair flipped pages. An image of an Archdemon and a Divine sitting at a table with three men and one dragon in half-human form. "This one Alasdair. What's this one?"

"That is the great council of war. The three men were the great kings of the time, Ursissus, Eldebrathe, and Vengivedion...yes as in the Vengivedion for which Astor's House is named and we are all descended. To one degree or another. The Divine is Yserel Rhes, once a God who descended to fight shoulder to shoulder with mankind, remaining even when the other Gods had turned from the world. The ArchDemon is the Black Lord Ilarious, who was one of the most powerful forces of evil until his own kind betrayed him and then his strength became our own. And the dragon is Lycalor, the last of the Dragon Kings."

Tessa stared at it for a long time, head cocked to the side. "We fought with the demons against the demons?" It seemed so impossible.

"The three kings were powerful men. Ursissus was a shaman, a healer and respected wise man long before men had what we would call 'true magic'. He called upon the spirits of the land and they answered him. His descendants controlled all of eastern Rhimefaust until about five hundred years ago when the house fell into debt and disrepair. I believe Kyrie is one of his few remaining descendants. Or your grandmother claimed you were."

Kyrie laughed, rocking Aaern gently as he dozed off to sleep. "Grandmother loved to tell stories. But nobody ever disputed her. And there were...relics...about our house that I remember from my childhood. I'm inclined to believe her. Certainly the spirits never disputed the claim and I would have expected them to if she'd been speaking falsehoods."

Tessa stared at the image of the man with the crown of thorns and the fur wrappings on his arms. A man who'd possessed magic before their was magic. "And the other two?"

"Eldebrathe was a king of the western shores, a pious man by all accounts. He was the one who suggested that the gods be sought for help. He was the one who believed that if there were demons to pour into the world, then their counterparts had to exist. The Chronicles also say that Eldebrathe had an uncanny 'sixth sense'. That he simply 'knew' things. He wasn't an Oracle, not like you are Tessa...but perhaps he was as close as a man without more mystic blood in his veins can come. However, after the unchaining of magic he did indeed, have visions of the future. And his descendants have enjoyed this uncanny 'sense' to some degree or another through the ages. Which is why I am rather unsurprised that you are an Oracle."

She hadn't known that. True the rulers of Falverald had made some brilliantly good choices over the years...but it had been a running joke about the family 'luck'. To know that they all possessed a touch of the oracular to some degree. It explained so much of the charmed life of her nation and it's leaders. Explained their forward thinking policies...and their sometimes tendency to be blindsided by the ordinary.

"Rhes was a god of war, not of this world, but of another that had been lost to the darkness. He would not allow the same to happen to our world, no matter the cost. Most of the Gods were content with simply unchaining magic for the use of man...Rhes demanded more. He and a few followers loyal to him, lesser creatures of that lofty realm, they remained after the gate had shut. When the war was over, they lingered in the mountains around the Gate from which they had come before dispersing and settling into lives among the mortals. The descendents of Rhes followers, those lesser warriors, became what we call the Highbourne. But there are rumors that there are descendants of Rhes himself out there. If that's true, they keep themselves very well hidden. Khafi, have you heard of any? The Chronicals say that Rhes spent the last of his days in the south, keeping watch over the demon gate."

Khafi shook his head, laughing. "Brother, if anyone would love to claim relation to the gods it would be the nobles of Jhadir. But while they might claim to rule by divine right, no one has ever claimed to be a child of divinity. Ask Lukan, after all, the Divine Gate is in the middle of Haga'Dir."

Tessa glanced over at Lukan who's eyes were rivited on the picture. Slowly her youngest brother shook his head and she reached out a hand to rest it on his shoulder, smiling at him gently.

"No, there are no children of Gods in Haga'Dir. But there are plenty of legends that the Peak clans harbored demons. Let me guess, this betrayed demon lord, he ended up dying somewhere in Haga'Dir didn't he?"

Alasdair shrugged at Lukan's bitter words. "Actually nobody knows what happened to him after the war was over. They say that for a time he stood and stared at the gate. It is known that he marched west and helped secure the seals of the Dead Gate, that he cast it into the sea. But he stayed in no one place long. Despite all the good he did, there was no place on this world that would offer him shelter. And yes, we've all heard the legends of the Peak Clans' pet demon. Perhaps they offered him shelter at last? Are they not the main rival faction to your own Clan Lukan? I confess I didn't pay much attention to political relationships other than the obvious ones."

Tessa watched the conflicting emotions flit across Lukan's face, her hand remaining on his shoulder and offering him all the silent comfort she could. It must have been so difficult for him, so many swords hanging over his head. So many people wanting so much of it. "It's alright Lukan. We're here for you."

"No, it's not all right. Yes Alasdair, the Peak Clans have been...rivals of the Storm Clans as long as anyone can remember. And yes, if I choose not to take the throne it will go to one of the Peak Clans as tradition demands. I will break the Spear across my knee and offer them the shattered pieces to mend. Something that has never happened since the Gods gave the Spear to men. Thank you ever so much for reminding me."

He stood and Tessa stood with him, she had to stop him from being rash again. From storming off and leaving the evening in shambles. But she didn't have too. Lukan froze the moment his eyes reached the open library doors where Astor stood, flanked by his guards.

Aged eyes swept over each of them as he stood there, an expression unreadable on his lined face.

"It is time. I have reached a decision."
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And so here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for. Who is the next to rule Leyond? Will it be Tessa, the bold young woman with a head for logistics and uncontrollable visions that could leave her blind and comatose? Khafi, with his calculating mind and talent for subterfuge, but his southern heritage and tendency to use people? Lukan, bold and charismatic, but unprepared and already struggling with the weight of another throne on his plate? Or Alasdair, strong and compassionate, but inhuman and uninterested?
---------------------------------

This dp has been waiting in the wings for the perfect moment. You all knew it was coming and now it's here. Debate and discuss who your choice is and why. You can play favorites all you want but ask yourself...is your favorite the ruler Leyond needs? Hope you liked!
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Lilith



Joined: 10 Feb 2007
Posts: 1597
Location: Happily curled up in a Daemon's lap

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:57 am    Post subject:  

If King Astor truly wants to chose the heir that will be the best for Leyond.. it would have to be Khafi. And I'm not playing favorites in this, I don't even like the man. (Alasdair is my favorite, for obvious reasons of awesomeness.)

But because Alasdair truly has no interest in the throne, Lukan has a responsibility to the people of his clan and the fact that Tess's visions would make her a serious liability as a queen should they take a turn for the worse, Khafi is the only person for the job that could do it, do it well, and make a difference.
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Shillelagh



Joined: 11 Mar 2010
Posts: 398
Location: Kansas

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:17 pm    Post subject:  

I agree with Lil about why Lukan and Alasdair shouldn't be king. I don't agree on Khafi and Tessa, though. True, her visions might make her a liability... but they are just as likely to provide aid. And frankly, it's not like she's going to be on the frontlines of the battlefield anyway. She just needs to be a symbol and a diplomat if she's queen- and it's the latter that she would excel at. It would also allow for Alasdair, Khafi, and possibly Lukan to serve as generals for the army on equal footing.

Khafi, whose tactical genius is just as good whether or not he's king, is not nearly as good with people. And it would hinder his battle usefullness if he had to worry about taking the kingdom with him if he died.
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:11 am    Post subject:  

Poll is up, choice is yours. Tell your friends.
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:53 pm    Post subject:  

No one man should decide the fate of a kingdom...

Voting will end in a few hours...
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Cyberworm



Joined: 19 Aug 2007
Posts: 651
Location: Spatially found, temporal lockdown.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:44 pm    Post subject:  

As I promised, I caught up with this wonderful piece. Along the road to read-ness I've seen a few typos and punctuation errors, but overall this is one fine piece of work I am glad to have read.

The DP. I, like Lil', am fond of Alasdair, and like Shille I consider Khafi technically the most proper, logical ruler, but lacking the people skills that a ruler should have. Hence, my vote goes to Tessa. In the event that she is incapacitated by her condition, a new ruler can be set. But considering her experience and people skills, and the fact that she's probably have at least Khafi by her side (since he can't go home lest he's executed), she's the best option.

2 cents, given. :)

Wonderful, I can't wait for the next chapter! :D
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:16 pm    Post subject:  

Tied...you've got to be kidding me. Guys I'm getting to the point where I'm going to flip a coin and that won't be good.
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Cyberworm



Joined: 19 Aug 2007
Posts: 651
Location: Spatially found, temporal lockdown.

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:38 am    Post subject:  

I believe Astaar trolled you right now. XD It was all nice and non-tied when I got to it. :P
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Lilith



Joined: 10 Feb 2007
Posts: 1597
Location: Happily curled up in a Daemon's lap

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:52 am    Post subject:  

Oh well. The cointoss has been had. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.
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