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Old Apr 8 2006, 04:17 PM   #1
Greenrider Tresa
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Default All At Once - Pern fanfic

Posting this again. It's long, so I'm going to try to break it up into managaeble chunks. Only had the first few pages worth saved into a seperate file, so this may be slow.

----------------
All At Once
P07/03.04.23
Norolan was pleased with how the day was turning out so far. There were only a few puffs of cloud in the sky, there was open country to travel through, and a picnic
lunch just waiting to be spread out on the right spot.
Norolan glanced at Rashid and smiled. The boy returned the expression and bowed his head. "I haven't found a place I like yet."
"I wasn't saying a thing, Rash. Actually, I'm enjoying this ride today. It's a nice, relaxing thing. We'll have to fit a less-serious one in every so often." When the boy's eyes lit up, Norolan knew it wasn't a question of 'if' but 'how often and when'. And that didn't bother him at all.
He glanced at the sky for a moment and wrinkled his nose. The puffs appeared to be multiplying, and several were starting to turn an ominous shade of dark gray. He
did not like that color, especially this far out. He glanced at Rashid, not sure if he should mention the possibility of having to delay their picnic and turn back.
Rashid, thoroughly enjoying his day thus far, reined in his mount, noticing that Norolan was looking worriedly at the sky. He glanced sky-ward, and bit his lip. Maybe the clouds would just pass away? He hoped so, at any rate...
And he liked having some time with his brother-in-law without Libby. Least they can do interesting things together...
Sniffing the air, he wrinkled his nose, realizing that it smelled like a storm was coming.
"Are we still having our picnic?" he asked, turning blue eyes onto the Holder, hoping against hope that the answer would be 'yes'. But somehow, he had a feeling that it would be 'no' instead.
"Or maybe if it rains, we can eat in a cave or something. Could still be a picnic that way, couldn't it?" he added, cocking his head.
Norolan lifted his shoulders and shook his head. "I'm not sure, Rashid. We'll have to wait and see." If it wasn't too bad, only a light mist, then perhaps they could keep riding. If it was heavy... "If we can find a cave, perhaps." He didn't want to disappoint Rashid, so
he made sure to add, "We'll keep our eyes open, alright?"
Nodding, Rash glanced up at the sky again. "All right. Hope it doesn't rain though," he added, frowning at the clouds, as though daring them to spoil the day with stormy weather. Clouds were all right- long as it doesn't rain. Though snow was nice...but it was a bit late in the turn for THAT.
His mount, a docile gelding, nickered softly and shook his head, not really bothered by the change in weather- no matter how subtle.
Rash, patting the runner's neck, pulled his cloak together, feeling the slight chill in the air.
Just as he was about to say something witty to cheer Rashid up, a fat drop fell to his forehead and slid down his cheek. He frowned, and brushed it away. "Looks like we'd best turn back or find that cave now." More sprinkles of rain followed, and, looking to the sky, Norolan had the feeling that more would soon come
Wiping his face, Rash pulled a face at the sky, almost as if accusing it for ruining the day. He blew out air through his nose, nodding at Norolan's suggestion.
"All right. Long as we don't get too wet, right?" the boy replied, cocking his head. His mount neighed, seemingly agreeing with the course of action suggested, and danced on his hooves, his mane and tail rippling in the wind, which was starting to pick up rather alarmingly.
"If wind keeps up, we'll get blown away!" he said, cloak snapping around his back.
Norolan's own mount noticed the unease in the air. The weather was not pleasing the beast, and the flick of his ears and tail showed his rider that more and more. If the prancing and shying away hadn't clued him in by now…
The wind picked up and his mount neighed, shaking his head in disagreement. "We'll be fine." Norolan cooed to the beast, while pulling his cloak tighter about him. The wind was picking up. "Let's start heading home." He told Rashid, firmly.
Rashid, disappointed by Norolan's decision, nodded, not about to argue the point. Besides, the runner was giving the boy a bit of a difficulty.
Sensing something that the two people didn't, the runner reared up suddenly, letting out a piercing whinny of alarm, before bolting, Rash trying in vain to stop the runner.
After a few moments of panicked running, the runner slowed to a stop, nostrils drinking in the air, his ears flicking back and forth at the sounds wafting around them.
"Sharding fool," he muttered, shaking his head in disgust. If he wasn't already, Norolan would be furious with him for losing control of the runner like that. Hissing between his teeth, the boy looked up at the sky, realizing that it was definitely raining a bit harder now. In fact, it was pouring out.
"C'mon, let's just go," he muttered between clenched teeth, urging his now reluctant runner onward. "And if you do something like that again, I'll put snakes in your trough. See how you like being scared!" he added.
Norolan watched with wide eyes as the runner bolted. He ground his teeth, wanted to shout, only knowing it would make things worse! What was Rashid thinking? Hadn't he heard Norolan the first time around?
He nudged his mount into a gallop, slowing him when they neared Rashid and his mount. The Holder pulled up next to his brother-in-law, and looked at him with some worry and some slight anger. "I told you we were going home!" He reached for the reins of Rashid's runner, and tied them to his saddle. "Come on!" And he yanked until the boy's beast came to a trot beside him.
Norolan watched with wide eyes as the runner bolted. He ground his teeth, wanted to shout, only knowing it would make things worse! What was Rashid thinking? Hadn't he heard Norolan the first time around?
He nudged his mount into a gallop, slowing him when they neared Rashid and his mount. The Holder pulled up next to his brother-in- law, and looked at him with some worry and some slight anger. "I told you we were going home!" He reached for the reins of Rashid's
runner, and tied them to his saddle. "Come on!" And he yanked until the boy's beast came to a trot beside him.
Gulping, Rashid nodded at Norolan's question, his hands clenching the reins tightly. "I know, but the runner spooked! It wasn't my fault!" he protested, letting the Holder jerk the runner into a trot beside him.
The runner, snorting in protest, tried vainly to move his head out of Norolan's grasp, but finally obeyed him, his head upright, ears twitching with nervousness. Rashid, glumly silent, gripped the pommel of his saddle, hoping they'd get home soon- before it really started to rain. And he didn't think that he'd get another chance to have a picnic- not
anytime soon, if Norolan was still angry by the time they reached the Hold.
Norolan was having none of it. "And here I thought you had changed, Rashid." He remained quiet after that, thinking the silence spoke louder than words ever could.
As they rode in the direction of home, the wind picked up even more and the rain started to drop harder. Cursing, Norolan knew they wouldn't make it back in time to keep from getting drenched or sick. He pulled them around, and headed in the direction of a cave he had spotted just a few moments earlier.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist



Last edited by Cheryl; Apr 21 2006 at 03:59 PM.
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Old Apr 8 2006, 04:22 PM   #2
Greenrider Tresa
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They started off on a quick jog, then a fast trot, and then an outright gallop as the clouds opened up wide and let loose. By the time they reached the mouth and dry sanctuary of the cave, both rider and beast and basketed sandwiches were drenched.

Biting his lip, Rashid looked at his hands, hurt that Norolan didn't believe him. He let his thoughts drift around in his head, wondering if his past was finally catching up with him. True, he knew that he shouldn't have done some of those pranks at Skybroom... Well, actually, all. But Rashid couldn't resist. The allure of pranking was too much for the boy, and he usually succumbed to it- with disastrous results.

At the increasing rain, Rash tugged his hood over his head, and wrinkled his nose when the rainwater, which had been collecting in his hood, was dumped on his head. Fine. Everything else was going amiss, why not get completely wet before finding shelter?

Once in the cave, Rash looked around, wondering if it was empty. On the other hand, there could be cats or something- you never know. "Is it safe?" he asked, looking at Norolan, forgetting his brother-in-law's silent treatment on the failed ride home.

"I don't know." Norolan admitted. He went for his flint kit, and muttered a curse. It wouldn't do any good soaking wet. He tossed it aside. They needed to do something! He didn't want to get sick, and more importantly, didn't want Rash to. Carefully, he felt around a little deeper into the cave. There were some glow bulbs growing on the cave walls. There was some light at least.

"Rash, I want you to stay here and watch the horses. I'm going to go see if there's something we could use to warm up. Come in a bit deeper if you need to. There are glows on the wall, so you'd have some light." He found a bag of something .. .it was dirty, dusty…but soft.

Opening it up, he couldn't believe his luck -- there were some supplies. Nothing to start a fire with, but a couple pieces of clothing and a blanket.

Bringing them to Rashid before going off to look for fire supplies, he pulled the blanket and the clothes out of the dirtied bag. "Bundle up with these. Don't ask questions. Worry about the rest later. You need to get yourself warmed up."

Shivering, Rash huddled, standing next to the runners, letting their body temperature thaw him out- slightly. Wasn't much, but it was better then nothing.

Stuffing his numbed hands into his armpits, the boy looked around, surprised to find glows on the walls.
When Norolan returned with the blanket and clothes, Rash blinked, and nodded. "All right. And I have to stay with the runners, still, right?" he asked, disappointed that he'd have to wait. On the other hand, it wasn't like he was in total darkness, either, what with the glows.
"Just... be careful," he said, smiling up at Norolan. "Libby would be mad if you got hurt."

"She'd be even more upset if we both got hurt." The thought of his mate did help warm him up some. He closed his eyes for a moment, wishing Libby were with him so he could hold her and she could help warm him up.. He shook his head. "So yes, that means you have to stay with the runners." His voice held a touch of firmness that told Rashid not to argue and move from where he was, except to bundle up. After waiting another moment, Norolan started forward, hoping that all was safe, and there was something to make a fire further inside.

"Yeah, she would. Think she'd kill us if we got hurt. Know that's what Mom would do if that happened to Dad and one of us kids," the boy said, a slight smile on his face. He wondered what his parents and younger siblings were doing at Skybroom, knowing that it would likely be the same routine of hidework, meals, and some rest time. Especially in his mother's case, being pregnant- again.

Now bundled up in the blanket and dry clothes, the boy nodded resignedly, glancing at the runners. Well, nothing he couldn't handle. He knew that he wanted something to eat, but that would have to wait until after Norolan found something to start a fire with. Maybe he could find some food in here, as he did bring back something dry to change into.

Turning to the bay gelding that was his mount during the ride, the boy patted his neck, murmuring softly to him, all the while wondering who else could be in the cave. He knew that animals didn't wear clothes. Or use glows. Hopefully it was just a makeshift camp for traders during Threadfall, if they were unlucky enough to get caught out in that deadly 'rain'.

Leaning against the now quieted runner, the boy kept his eyes trained in the direction his brother-in-law left in, hoping he'd come back soon.

Norolan made it half way into the cave and realized it was too dark. He didn't find anything too surprising. There was some dried wood, and he gathered it up happily. If he did things just right, he'd be able to get a nice fire going.

Smiling at his success, the Holder made his way carefully back to the front of the cave. "Rashid, found something to make a fire with!"

Rashid, looking up at the news, smiled, climbing to his feet. With the runners more interested in standing together and looking at the surroundings, the boy was reasonably certain that they would be fine.

"Great! Where do you want to make the fire? Over there?" he asked, indicating a snug little pocket in the cave, well away from the opening, where the wind and rain wouldn't be able to put the fire out.

Hearing a soft snort, Rash turned, not surprised to see that it was one of the runners. He patted the mare's shoulder, before a hand clamped onto his shoulder, fingers digging into his flesh through the blanket and clothing.

They started off on a quick jog, then a fast trot, and then an outright gallop as the clouds opened up wide and let loose. By the time they reached the mouth and dry sanctuary of the cave, both rider and beast and basketed sandwiches were drenched.
Biting his lip, Rashid looked at his hands, hurt that Norolan didn't believe him. He let his thoughts drift around in his head, wondering if his past was finally catching up with him. True, he knew that he shouldn't have done some of those pranks at Skybroom... Well, actually, all. But Rashid couldn't resist. The allure of pranking was too much for the boy, and he usually succumbed to it- with disastrous results.
At the increasing rain, Rash tugged his hood over his head, and wrinkled his nose when the rainwater, which had been collecting in his hood, was dumped on his head. Fine. Everything else was going amiss, why not get completely wet before finding shelter?
Once in the cave, Rash looked around, wondering if it was empty. On the other hand, there could be cats or something- you never know. "Is it safe?" he asked, looking at Norolan, forgetting his brother-in-law's silent treatment on the failed ride home.
"I don't know." Norolan admitted. He went for his flint kit, and muttered a curse. It wouldn't do any good soaking wet. He tossed it aside. They needed to do something! He didn't want to get sick, and more importantly, didn't want Rash to. Carefully, he felt around a little deeper into the cave. There were some glow bulbs growing on the cave walls. There was some light at least.
"Rash, I want you to stay here and watch the horses. I'm going to go see if there's something we could use to warm up. Come in a bit deeper if you need to. There are glows on the wall, so you'd have some light." He found a bag of something .. .it was dirty, dusty…but soft. Opening it up, he couldn't believe his luck -- there were some supplies. Nothing to start a fire with, but a couple pieces of clothing and a blanket.
Bringing them to Rashid before going off to look for fire supplies, he pulled the blanket and the clothes out of the dirtied bag. "Bundle up with these. Don't ask questions. Worry about the rest later. You need to get yourself warmed up."
Shivering, Rash huddled, standing next to the runners, letting their body temperature thaw him out- slightly. Wasn't much, but it was better then nothing.
Stuffing his numbed hands into his armpits, the boy looked around, surprised to find glows on the walls.
When Norolan returned with the blanket and clothes, Rash blinked, and nodded. "All right. And I have to stay with the runners, still, right?" he asked, disappointed that he'd have to wait. On the other hand, it wasn't like he was in total darkness, either, what with the glows.
"Just... be careful," he said, smiling up at Norolan. "Libby would be mad if you got hurt."
"She'd be even more upset if we both got hurt." The thought of his mate did help warm him up some. He closed his eyes for a moment, wishing Libby were with him so he could hold her and she could help warm him up.. He shook his head. "So yes, that means you have to stay with the runners." His voice held a touch of firmness that told Rashid not to argue and move from where he was, except to bundle up. After waiting another moment, Norolan started forward, hoping that all was safe, and there was something to make a fire further inside.
"Yeah, she would. Think she'd kill us if we got hurt. Know that's what Mom would do if that happened to Dad and one of us kids," the boy said, a slight smile on his face. He wondered what his parents and younger siblings were doing at Skybroom, knowing that it would likely be the same routine of hidework, meals, and some rest time. Especially in his mother's case, being pregnant- again.
Now bundled up in the blanket and dry clothes, the boy nodded resignedly, glancing at the runners. Well, nothing he couldn't handle. He knew that he wanted something to eat, but that would have to wait until after Norolan found something to start a fire with. Maybe he could find some food in here, as he did bring back something dry to change into.
Turning to the bay gelding that was his mount during the ride, the boy patted his neck, murmuring softly to him, all the while wondering who else could be in the cave. He knew that animals didn't wear clothes. Or use glows. Hopefully it was just a makeshift camp for traders during Threadfall, if they were unlucky enough to get caught out in that deadly 'rain'.
Leaning against the now quieted runner, the boy kept his eyes trained in the direction his brother-in-law left in, hoping he'd come back soon.
Norolan made it half way into the cave and realized it was too dark. He didn't find anything too surprising. There was some dried wood, and he gathered it up happily. If he did things just right, he'd be able to get a nice fire going.
Smiling at his success, the Holder made his way carefully back to the front of the cave. "Rashid, found something to make a fire with!"
Rashid, looking up at the news, smiled, climbing to his feet. With the runners more interested in standing together and looking at the surroundings, the boy was reasonably certain that they would be fine.
"Great! Where do you want to make the fire? Over there?" he asked, indicating a snug little pocket in the cave, well away from the opening, where the wind and rain wouldn't be able to put the fire out.
Hearing a soft snort, Rash turned, not surprised to see that it was one of the runners. He patted the mare's shoulder, before a hand clamped onto his shoulder, fingers digging into his flesh through the blanket and clothing.

Eyes wide open, the boy glanced up, heart in his mouth. "Norolan!" he croaked, ending in a squeak just as he heard the sound of a sword being unsheathed.

One of the men, a tall and lean man, with a rather charming and yet chilling smile., stepped around the boy, green eyes thoughtful.
"My thanks, Holder, on starting a fire for us. Rather cold, wet, and windy out there," he remarked, almost carelessly.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist



Last edited by Cheryl; Apr 21 2006 at 04:00 PM. Reason: reduced text size at request of Tresa
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Old Apr 8 2006, 04:34 PM   #3
Greenrider Tresa
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Norolan jumped up, startled. Then he saw the men and he was instantly in defense mode. "Not a good idea, deadglow!" He snarled, reaching for his dagger. "Leave him alone!"

Tightening his grip on the boy, the man raised a brow, considering. "Suppose I could leave him alone... But then, what about the rest of us? Been a while since someone willingly walked into our camp- and with the trappings of a Holder, too," he drawled, eyes glittering.

Rashid, kicking out at the man, muffled a yelp from a pinch on his neck. Blue eyes sending out fiery sparks, the boy drew his brows together, unable to do more than squirm.

He looked at Norolan, hoping that his brother-in-law would be able to help, but over the man's shoulder, he could see several men step out of shadows, where they had been hidden, undetected by both people and runners.

Norolan's eyes narrowed savagely in the man's direction. "Let him go, or I'll gut you myself." He growled and proceeded to take a step forward. A sound from over his shoulder made the man spin around. Someone knocked him out with 'something' and the Holder crumpled to the floor.

Snorting, green-eyes nodded. "Aye... Well, let's get them tied up and brought to the main camp. Know that Holder there would fetch a nice price..."

Rashid, not liking the way things sounded, kicked out at him, getting a clout on the head.

"Be still boy, unless you'd like to be knocked out."

"Do your worst!" the boy spat out, eyes narrowed.
Raising a brow, Green-eyes smirked. "All right... Toneous, take care of him," he ordered, nodding to a tall, heavy-set man with a rather stupid-looking face.


Smiling vapidly, the large man rabbit-punched the boy, Rashid's form crumpling up like a leaf.

"Excellent. Now, get them trussed up..."

It took very little time for them to get the Holder and lad tied up and relieved of their weapons and any valuable objects, piled into a little heap by one of the men, who seemed to be fellow in charge of things, from the way he was obeyed. One of the men approached the one in charge, and stood by him while the others scuttled to 'repair' camp. There was a moment of silence, before the shorter of the two spoke. "Norolan always was too trusting." He had been the one that prepared the runners for the trip, to smile and wish a good day on the two.

If only they had known, he rode much faster than they. He knew more backroads in the territory than the intolerable brat Rashid could ever dream of. And to think the boy actually thought he was interested in talking to him about 'adventures'.

He approached the pile of valuables, and picked the Holder's wedding band out of the thin mix. He twirled it with his fingers a moment, before glancing at his 'partner'. "When are w…you going to inform the families?" The man, Volen, asked. He continued to stare at the band, before offering it to the other man. "Could be used as a way to tell your niece that we have her beloved husband and brother."

Snorting disdainfully, Balin shook his head in agreement, a sour twist to his features. "Yes, he was. Though I suppose he'll be a lot less trusting in the future," he said, looking at Rashid, studying his nephew with detached interest. Good thing neither one had those damned pesky fire-lizards with them, as that would have simply ruined everything. Privately, the man wondered why his sister and brother-in-law actually liked having the annoying creatures about- especially that sharding green. Going around dropping things on people's heads all the time, too.

Dwelling on his slights- both real and imagined- Balin looked up at the shorter man's question, a thick brow raised. "Oh, just as soon I get some volunteers. Need two stupid people to play the part of messengers, but not so stupid that they'll forget what they're told," the man went on, stroking his chin thoughtfully.


"And I don't think my niece would immediately alert my sister and her husband about the brat, unless she has reason to believe we have him. But I think we should just let her believe that he's gone and her husband simply taken. What use is a holdbrat to her? Even her own brother?" Balin asked rhetorically, dark blue eyes narrowed in speculation.
"However, my sister and her husband would want to know about their son, so we send them a token as well. The knife," he said, picking up Rashid's beltknife, turning it over on his hands, eying the workmanship. "There's the Hold insignia... And with the little engraving there, it's proof that we have my sister's second son in our keeping..." Smiling sardonically, Balin unsheathed the knife, running a thumb along its honed edge, careful not to slit the skin

Volen nodded. He glanced over his shoulder at some of the men in the cavern. "There should be plenty to choose from." He glanced at Balin. "Not that your leadership and judgment are coming into question."
\
"A plan." He glanced at the knife and the ring sitting on the top of the pile. He picked it up. "And we can send this to your niece."

Studying some of the men in the cavern, Balin nodded slowly, eyes hooded. "True..." he raised a brow at Volen's next comment on his leadership and judgment. As if there was anything wrong with either one! Though according to his sisters... Mentally snarling, he shook his head, promising something singularly unpleasant to Tsigana when he saw her again. And she would want to get involved with getting Rashid back, if the way she felt about that damned brat was any indication...

"Yes, the ring can go to my niece. She'd likely be stupid enough to rush out and rescue her precious husband. Thinks like her mother, the little fool. But then, I've yet to meet a woman who wasn't stupid," Balin remarked, snorting, narrowing his eyes when he realized that one of the prisoners was starting to awaken.

Rashid, groaning softly, opened his eyes, his vision fuzzy for a moment. Unfortunately, the first thing he saw when his vision finally cleared, as that of his brother-in-law still unconscious.

"Enjoying yourself, boy?"

Stiffening at the voice, Rashid turned his head, unable to believe his ears. Recognizing his uncle, the boy wriggled as far from him as possible, though his efforts was hampered by the wall at his back, and his uncle squatting in front of him, drawing the boy's knife from its sheath.

"Think your parents would want you back, after all the trouble you've caused them?" he asked, a malicious glitter in his eyes.

Gagged as he was, Rashid couldn't do much other than glare at Balin, hoping that his stupid, ugly, idiot uncle would get his just desserts. He knew that if his parents got wind of this, they'd be angry.

Smirking at his nephew's reaction, Balin stood, sidestepping a sudden kick from the boy. "Well, let's get the notes written up, shall we? And I want you to get the messengers ready," he informed Volen, before giving Rashid a swift kick in the ribs for daring to lash out at him. "And you, boy, remain still if you know what's good for you."

Volen nodded. He himself did not know enough writing to draft up a decent note. He'd at least gather the proper supplies for Balin. He clenched the ring in his fist, and went about, selecting to men for the run.
Norolan groaned and rolled over, the pain in his head telling him to grab onto it and cradle himself until the throb went away. But when he reached up he found he couldn't, and memory soon made him see why.

With a shiver of shock, he rolled over and looked at Rashid, his first priority the safety of his charge. Then, he rolled over until he could see someone…his eyes spoke what his lips could not.

Volen was gathering the writing supplies, Balin watched Norolan and Rashid, not bothered by the fact that he had just made himself an enemy out of the young Holder. Not his problem. Besides, he was just a small fish- he was after something else.

Rashid, hearing Norolan, turned his head, eyes meeting his, before they both turned to glare at the men in the campsite. The boy wanted nothing more than his father to take care of that dirty, rotten tunnelsnake Balin, but without a way to alert the Lord, he knew that it was hopeless. But then, Balin did mention ransoming him.... And that would hold for Norolan too, wouldn't it?

When Volen returned with the hides and ink, Balin wrote out the notes, signing them, before rolling up the hides and sealing them with a ring of his father's- something he had 'picked up' before leaving Lemos.
"All right, give these to the messengers and send them out. Tell them that they're to be handed to no one other than the Ladies of the Holds. Especially at Skybroom. My sister's husband wouldn't want her to suffer a miscarriage after reading the note, but I for one think she's had enough children. You'd think she's just a damned cotter's wife, the way she keeps popping out brats each turn or so."

Hearing his uncle speak of his mother so, Rashid glared, wanting to fling himself at Balin.

"Oh, make sure this goes to Lady Tsigana, too," Balin added, placing his nephew's scabbard into Volen's hand. "I'll hold onto the knife. Could come into handy."

Volen watched and nodded. Then he took out the ring from his pocket, and flashed it, simply to let Norolan see. The Holder's eyes went wide as he expected, thengrew dark. When he started to struggle forward, he took a step back and bowed at Balin. "I'll be sure they do as told."

He walked quietly toward the area were the two messengers would be waiting. The men were dull witted enough that they would not be able to give out too much information, but intelligent enough that they could handle simple instructions.

When he reached the men, they scrambled up from the ground they had been sitting on and approached Volen for their instructions.

"You," He said to one man with stringy brown hair and pale blue eyes. "will go to Skybroom Hold." He offered the scabbard and the rolled up note to the man. "It is to
go to the Lady Holder and NO ONE ELSE." He did scream this last bit, just to make sure it got through the man's thick skull. It was sure to reach Balin and the prisoners too. But the man seemed to understand and nodded hurriedly.

Volan waited a moment, before turning to the other man. When the Skybroom messenger still hadn't moved, he barked, "GO!" And the man ran toward the entrance, and in the direction of his destination without a moments hesitation .Then, he went on to the other man, who by now was shaking so hard, Volan knew he wouldn't miss a single word, and would likely leave before he was even finished with orders.

"This," He handed the man the roll, then the ring. "is to go to the Lady of Akhenaten Hold and no one else. Make sure she gets both the ring and roll." Volan emphasized everything that he was saying. But the man was paying well enough attention that it wasn't really necessary. The man nodded and went off without a single word or hesitation. Volan nodded, and waited until he couldn't see the last man, then turned around and made his way back to Balin.

He glanced at Rashid and Norolan first, then turned to Balin. "They have their instructions, the rolls, and the personal items. They are on their way."

Nodding with smug satisfaction, Balin smirked at the two captives, knowing that it was quite a pity he couldn't be at Skybroom to witness the reaction to the note and 'gift'. On the other hand... Just as well, as that would certainly be the last of him and Balin had no intention of getting himself killed. Not for a long time.
He didn't care if the idiot messengers got killed or not- after the notes and gifts were delivered."Excellent... Now to wait..." he said, fondling Rashid's knife, eyes studying the boy, before he turned to glance at Norolan, not impressed.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist



Last edited by Cheryl; Apr 21 2006 at 04:00 PM. Reason: reduced text size at request of Tresa
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Old Apr 10 2006, 04:50 PM   #4
Greenrider Tresa
The Contrary
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Skybroom Hold
Meanwhile, at Skybroom, Lady Tsigana, taking a break from her records, was out in the courtyard, getting a breath of fresh air, when the first messenger showed up, out of breath, and faint from exhaustion. "M'lady?" he mumbled, rolling the words around his thick tongue, nearly slurring it.
Drawing her brows together, Tsi nodded, frowning. "Yes, I'm she. What?"
"Here. For you," the man mumbled, handing her the objects, which Tsigana took without hesitation, recognizing the scabbard.
Kiyia, who'd been looking for her sister, walked up, green eyes studying the man. "You look a bit famished. Want a bite and a drink? It'd do you some good to get a bit of rest..." she offered, noting that her younger sister suddenly turned pale from the note's contents.
"Keep him in the kitchen, Kiyia. I'm getting Ly," she murmured, before sprinting inside the Hold, nearly knocking one of the drudges aside in her haste to get to her husband's office, before she burst in, pointing a finger at the startled crafter. "You, out, now."
Surprised, and not about to argue, the weaver stood, bowing, and left, murmuring his excuses and apologies, which Tsi ignored, more interested in the contents of her note.
"Here, read this," she said, dropping the hide in Ly's hands, before sinking into the chair across from him, looking at him with mingled expressions of anger, disgust, and worry written on her face, as well as overwhelming hatred.
"How could he do this?" she asked, shaking her head, clenching her hands on the scabbard, her knuckles whitening.
Lysandre was just as surprised as the crafter when Tsigana burst into the office. She was definitely not herself, and a look at her face told him that she was angrier than he could remember seeing her. At least since Kegan's death.
"What is it?" He fumbled for the hide, almost dropping it, and glanced at it quickly before going back to read more slowly. He sat down hard in the chair and let lose the vilest string of curses he knew.
Having vented, Ly looked at Tsi, his most immediate concern for her and the baby. "He's not going to be allowed to get away with this," he vowed. "I wonder where Norolan was. Maybe he escaped..." A slim hope.
Ly knew that when Denny found out, the lad would feel guilty, but it wasn't his fault, as he couldn't have known, much less been everywhere. No, Ly was saving all of his anger for Balin, whose name would never again leave his lips without a curse following it.
"I'd say I don't believe it, but you've got Rashid's scabbard. And I think that wher-brain is just insane enough to try it. He got the worst of both your parents. What do you think we should do now?" Tactless, maybe, but he knew Tsi would agree as it was the truth.
Crushing the hide in his hand, Ly tossed it away as if it was a dead tunnlesnake, and went to Tsi, gathering his wife into his arms, holding her tight.
Listening mutely to Ly as he vented, Tsi was mentally imagining just what she'd like to do to Balin, brother or no. At the very least, killing was just too good a punishment for the sneaky, two-faced... bastard. Shaking her head, she hissed, wanting to just hit something, preferably Balin's face, but he was snug in his cave, safe from the anger of a wronged mother, and she had to make do with something else.
Dropping the scabbard on the desk, she turned when Ly came to her side, burying her head against his chest, shoulders shaking as she cried, all the worry, fear, and anger draining from her with each tear.
Sassy, sensing her person's mood, landed on her shoulder, chirruping softly, before hopping to the desk, tail lashing out with a little bit of agitation.
Snuffling, Tsi wiped her face, a shaky smile on her face, blotched from the crying. "Suppose I needed that," she remarked, sighing. "And if there's no word on Norolan, then we should send a note to Libby. See what's going on on her end," she suggested, frowning. "And we'd have to figure out how to get Rash back."
Scrabbling for a handkerchief, she mopped her face, blowing her nose.
Lysandre rocked Tsi gently, his cheek resting against the top of her head, and let her have her cry. He would be the strong one, while she had enough tears for both of them. He couldn’t afford them now.
Bubba appeared right behind Sassy and straddled Ly's shoulders, wings spread as if he was ready to attack whatever had upset his pet. He screeched once, then settled for lashing his tail silently.
"Good idea," Ly agreed, hoping his daughter was well. "I'll put the guards on alert for any suspicious activity, they can keep an eye on places Balin might be hiding. Not sure what the next step will be yet. Can you send Sassy to Libby?"
Feeling safe and secure in Ly's arms, Tsi absently thought about the fact that she had never really been rocked in anyone's arms until when she married. Even her nanny hadn't really given her much comfort- somehow Kegan and Tsia had found a cold woman to be the nanny and that was how the children of the Lemos Holders were raised, though Tsigana and Kiyia were lucky in their husbands to get some of their neglected love and comfort from them.
Sassy, spotting her mate, hissed softly, agreeing with the brown's sentiment. She wanted to latch onto the people responsible for upsetting her person and his, but she didn't know where they were, and had to be content with just staying here and offering whatever comfort it was possible for a small green to give.
"Well, if you want a next step, I told Kiyia to keep the messenger in the kitchen, plying him with food and drink. Maybe questioning him would help," Tsi suggested, looking at Ly. "And I'll get Sassy to Libby right away. She's probably in need of some advice right now, if something happened to Norolan... And it'd be just like Balin, to make sure that there's as much misery spread out between this hold and Akhenaten just to give him something to smirk about."
Pulling a face at Balin, Tsi shook her head, frowning. "Suppose we'd better alert Kiyia and Villi, though I imagine Kiyia know a bit, as she saw me read the note," she remarked, picking up a spare scrape of hide and quickly penning a short note to Libby.
Calling Sassy to her, the Lady fastened it to the green's foreleg and sent her off.
Bubba hissed as well, still reacting to the highly charged emotions in the room. Between the two fire-lizards, anyone trying to harm either Lord or Lady at that instant would have found the task impossible as they were scratched and bitten to shreds.
"Good thinking, though I'm not sure the messenger will know much." He grinned wickedly as a thought occurred. "That no-good tunnlenskae probably has him frightened. So I'll just act even more intimidating and see if I can get the information." Least he had the stature and strength to pull it off - as well as the acting ability.
He nodded. "Well, I'd love to personally wipe the smirk off his face when his little plan fails." Releasing Tsi, Ly coaxed Bubba down from his shoulders and calmed the brown. "Probably. Just so long as you and Kiyia don't do anything foolish," he warned. "At least, not yet."
He sent Bubba to get the guard captain, ending to have the guards stop anyone traveling between Skybroom, Lemos or Akhenaten for questioning. He'd suggest that Libby and Denny have anyone at their Holds they didn't recognize questioned, as Ly would have Villi and the Guards do at Skybroom.
"True, but it can't hurt, right?" Tsi asked, grinning slightly. She snorted, well able to imagine Balin being the intimidating tunnelsnake that he is. Hadn't really changed from childhood, either, where he used to bully the drudges and their children, too. Even the watch-wher wasn't safe, and Kegan generally encouraged his son in that, too, much to Tsi's disgust.
"Bleh. Don't tell me not to do anything foolish," Tsi retorted, still annoyed, angry, and disgusted over this whole business. And the fact she had all those hormones from her pregnancy didn't help, either. "And there's the question of bringing Balin his... 'ransom'. Certainly was specific, wasn't he..." she added, frowning.
A few seconds after Sassy left, a blue appeared, bearing the colors of Akhenaten on his hide.
"Hello there," Tsi said, as he landed daintily on the desk, chirruping at the Holders, offering his foreleg.
"Your turn," she added, letting her husband have a turn with getting bad news first. The fact that this could be good news didn't stop her from letting him have it. And besides, she didn't think it could be good anyway.
Lysandre held up his hands. "All right, I know not to get between you and your target when you're angry. Especially when I want to be right there helping you," he replied placatingly.
He scowled, thinking of the ransom. The nerve of the man! Ly was half-tempted to refuse to pay, though he hoped to get Rashid back without having to. "Yes. I still don't believe it. Least he's not demanding Lemos in exchange, as I don't have that authority. It'd take a Conclave, and they'd never approve after how he's acted."
Looking up at the blue's arrival, he quirked a brow at Tsi, having a sinking feeling about this. He took the note, reading it quickly. A muscle jumped in his cheek. "Shards and shells! He's got Norolan too! Libby must be beside herself." His first instinct was to have her brought to Skybroom: his second was that at a time like this Akhenaten shouldn't be without both its lady and holder.
Raising a brow at Ly's... surrender, Tsi shook her head. "Thanks...though I think being pregnant is a severe disadvantage in a circumstance like this- for obvious reasons." She looked down at her stomach- not quite showing the Lady's condition, but not flat, either, placing a protective hand on it. She shivered, her mind guessing at what Balin was up to, with all this... planning.
"Know that's for sure. But..." pausing, she drew her brows together, looking troubled. "Balin's had it for me, ever since he realized that I had some part to play in him not getting Lemos. I think he'll not rest until I'm dead," she added softly, recalling that if she read between the note's lines, it clearly indicated that she was to carry the ransom to ensure Rashid's deliverance. Though how could Balin be trusted?
"What?! Of all the sneaky, low-down rotten..." she growled, flexing a hand in anger. "That's it. We can't just keep letting him thumb his nose at us like this," she said, frowning. "We need to formulate a plan with Libby. I wonder what she did with the messenger. Hope she held onto him, though I wonder how Kiyia's dealing with ours. Think I'm tempted to switch clothes and cords with Kiyia and sending her out to Balin, as she'd be glad of a chance to unsheathe her claws..."
"You're welcome," he replied, nodding. He hated to have Tsi at risk like this, and wondered if there was a way he could go with her and watch from a distance. First things first...
Ly snorted in disgust. "Then we'll just have to make sure he dies first, won't we?" He growled, eyes hard as stone. 'Yes, we need to coordinate with Libby. And I'm in favor of that plan, long as Balin won't remember about your eyes." And it gave him the perfect excuse to keep Tsi close, though he didn't wish any harm to Kiyia either. Either one of them separately could hold her own when angered, and together were a force to be reckoned with.
"Do you want to come with me when I question the messenger?" He was looking forward to scaring the man. Balin had some nerve, threatening a child!
Running both hands through her hair, Tsi hissed, fastening her teeth onto her lip. She was being backed into a corner, and hated the way it made her feel. Pity she couldn't really have anything strong.. She needed something to steady her nerves, but that could wait. Preferably when this was all over.
Nodding at her husband's comment on Balin, she narrowed her eyes, face flinty. "Hmm.. If he remembers about our eyes, everything's gone to pot then," she said, drumming her fingers on the desk. She wondered what Libby's course of action would be, and sincerely hoped that she wouldn't try to take on the kidnappers on her own, though she knew that her oldest had both parents' common sense, mixed with stubbornness- from Tsi's side, naturally.
Ears perking up at question, she thought for a moment, nodding slowly. "Sure. It'll give me something to do. Just restrain me if I get too emotional?" she asked lightly, knowing that now was not the time to be so flippant. "Don't want to be known for killing a messenger," she added, a half-sob, half-laughter escaped her lips. "Might want to keep Kiyia with us when you're being... intimidating. The pair of you together can be formidable. And right now, I'm more interesting in drawing blood first, asking questions later."
Lysandre watched Tsi, wishing there was something he could do to help calm her. Maybe he'd just drink enough for both of them later....though he wasn't a heavy drinker to begin with, and didn't want wine or ale affecting his judgment any more than his emotions already were.
"Maybe not...if you could convince him that his memory was faulty..." Ly suggested, brows creased in a frown.
"I'll try, though some of that anger might be a useful weapon," he suggested. Her remark startled him into a snort, lips twitching in a ghost of a smile that was gone in a second. "Wouldn't accomplish anything anyway...And thanks, I was just thinking the same thing about you and Kiyia."
He hugged her again. "Come on, I think we've left the messenger stewing long enough." He was already forming a plan....
Taking a deep breath, Tsigana ruffled her hair with both hands, absently fluffing it up in the process. "I think I'll take a long soak after this. And if I get bothered by anyone, no matter who, I'll likely fly off the handle and break a few balls in the process," she promised grimly, squaring her shoulders, hands dropping to her side.
Maybe a bit of warm cider would help, too...
Frowning slightly at the suggestion, the Lady cocked her head, considering. "Possibly... Long as he doesn't ask for a demonstration of proof or anything," she added, recalling that Balin liked playing cruel games as a child with the drudges, and those had been largely ignored by Tsia and Kegan, who preferred getting on their youngest's case for her lack of conformity to 'Hold behavior'.
She snorted at the thought of some of her anger being used as a useful weapon, a bit of wry bemusement in her eyes. "I'm sure. Specially trained from Lemos, you know. And I've always been good at observing human behavior, too..."
Allowing herself a brief nuzzle under the hug, Tsi inhaled deeply, taking in some of her love's scent, before absently planting a kiss on his throat, just below the jaw. "All right. Wonder if Kiyia's drawn blood from the 'poor' man yet," she replied, as Ly tucked her against his side and the pair left the office, heading towards the kitchen.
Ly nodded, aware that Tsi needed to let off steam. "I don't think anyone will disturb you. Nice having a private bath, isn't it?" He asked rhetorically, winking.
"Think you can figure something out if that happens," he assured her, trying to be as positive as possible. "Yes, you've got a sharp eye, to go right along with you tongue..." Ly squeezed Tsi gently, pressing his cheek to her head.
"Hope she hasn't taken too much blood," he replied as they neared the kitchen.
Lips twitching in response to the question, Tsi merely shook her head, mahogany hair fanning around her head.
"Point... Suppose I should let my brain do the planning while my tongue do the lashing..." she mused, eyes thoughtful. Sighing, the Lady nodded, closing her eyes to steam a few drips of tears before the couple began their descent towards the kitchen.
"Kiyia? Ah, knowing her, she probably has him drawn and quartered, if not quaking and quivering in his boots..." she remarked, as they stepped into the kitchen, where a sudden flash of dark green eyes glanced in their direction, and swooped over to the table, where the man sat, amazingly enough, still in one piece, and eating calmly.
Nodding at her older sister, Tsi took a deep breath, studying the man, letting either him or Ly have the first say.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist


Greenrider Tresa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 11 2006, 05:57 PM   #5
Greenrider Tresa
The Contrary
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Northern Indiana
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Fan of: The Ship Who Searched
Now Reading: The Calhoun Collection, Nora Roberts
Default Re: All At Once - Pern fanfic



Akhenaten Hold
Libera, staring mutely at her note, closed her eyes, blinking back tears. She didn't want to believe it, but the ring in her hand was proof of Norolan's capture. And what of her brother, of whom the note made no mention? And why would her uncle want Norolan? He wasn't interested in Akhenaten Hold, only Lemos. And now that Tsigana had successfully, with Lysandre's help, managed to secure Lemos for Pyralis, her uncle had held it against her and her family. That was the only conceivable notion the young woman could come up with. But it just didn't really make any sense... Unless Balin had gone quite mad...
Looking up when she heard a knock, she cleared her throat, absently wiping tears from her face. "Come in," she called, not surprised to find her mother-in-law entering.
"I take it you heard?" she asked quietly, blue eyes meeting the older woman's.
"Word travels fast." Nessila wore a dark _expression on her face. She had only recently returned to the Hold, after a long absence away. It seemed as though her return
was just in time and for all the wrong reasons. She went to Libby's side, and put a hand on the young woman's shoulder. She felt her lip start to shake, and it took all her will not to let tears stumble down her cheeks. As the former Lady of the 'manor', it was her duty to help keep things in order, when she could and had to. Norolan needed her. Libera needed her most of all. "My son is strong, Libera. He will be fine. I know he will."
"Yes, it does," Libby agreed, reaching up to rub both temples with her fingertips. Of all the news she had to get, this was quite possibly the worst imaginable.
Accepting Nessila's hand on her shoulder, the young woman reached up, squeezing it gratefully. "I know. I just don't want to lose him. And there's no mention of Rash, so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now..." she finished in a whisper, looking troubled. She wanted nothing more than to just go out and kill the men who held her husband- never mind that one of them happened to be her uncle. But there was the fact that she was also newly pregnant. And she hadn't told anyone yet either, out of a private fear that once it was known, she would lose this child, as with her first pregnancy.
"At times like these, I wish I had a fire-lizard, like my mom," she remarked ruefully, shaking her head. "I'd have to tell my parents about the possibility of Rash being gone. Not sure how they'd take it- especially as my mother's pregnant again. Don't want to get her too worked up."

"Well, we don't want you thinking like that, do we?" Nessila was trying to stay strong, as mentioned before, but it was becoming difficult. She didn't want to push Libby too much, but the woman had to stay strong for her husband, and her brother if he was still alive. There she went thinking 'what ifs'. She shook her head and smiled, reaching for a slip of hide on Libby's desk, and a stylus, the former Lady placed it in front of her
daughter-in-law. "Write them a message, Libera, and I will find a firelizard to send the message to your parents. If payment is needed, I will beat some sense into their thick head." Nessila winked down at her. "Would you like me to stay with you, or go look for a
messenger?" She didn’t want to leave Libby alone if the girl didn’t' want her to leave.
"Mmm... True..." Libby remarked, a slightly wry grin forming on her face, as she glanced up at her mother-in-law. She bit her lip, forcing herself not to think too much on the negatives of this situation. And she didn't want to go nuts and end up like her grandmother, either, though Tsia had likely always been a bit off her rocker, if what Tsigana said was any indication.
"That works." Accepting the stylus and hide from Nessila, Libby paused, nibbling on the end of the writing utensil, gathering her thoughts. "Ah, you can go find a messenger if you like, Mother. I should be fine," she replied, smiling fondly at the older woman.
Looking down at the blank piece of hide, the young Lady began scribing the message.
Nessila smiled, her eyes creasing when Libby called her mother. Perhaps she should be less formal herself and call Libera by Libby instead. She bowed her head and headed for the door. "I'll return shortly, Libby. Be sure to let your parents know my support and help is with them should it be required." After that, she slipped out, and only when in the privacy of the hall way, did she let herself shed a few tears.
"Norolan's a strong man, like his father. He'll be just fine." Briefly, she contemplated trying to contact M'spin. But he was a Wingsecond with his own duties and these were Hold matters. She would explain it to him when Norolan and hopefully, Rashid, were safe. She was sure her adopted son would understand.
Nodding at Nessila, Libby turned her attention to the hide in front of her, before she began writing.
It wasn't long before she finished, just as Nessila returned with a small blue fire-lizard, caroling softly to the two women in the office.
"Handsome little fellow, aren't you?" the younger woman remarked, scratching his eyeridges. She was rewarded with a croon and a blissful sigh.
Beckoning to the little blue, she had tied the message to his foreleg, and instructed him to go to Skybroom, giving the little fire-lizard an image of her parents.
With a chirrup, he leapt into the air and betweened.
"Well, all we can do now is wait, I suppose," she began, just as a familiar squawk sounded by her ears, and a green landed on her shoulder, tail lashing with agitation.
"Sassy! Wh-" Libby began, before noticing the note on the green, and untying it.
Hopping to the desk, the little green cocked her head at Nessila, studying her carefully.
Paling at the note, Libby frowned, looking up at Nessila. "Seems they got my....uncle's... note, too. On Rashid," she said quietly, handing her the note. "If it's not one thing, it's another," she added.
Nessila took the second message and looked over it carefully. Her brows drew together in anger and confusion. "The man has balls, if he's willing to risk his life taking my son and your brother." She growled and set the note back on Libby's desk. "Would you like me to find some way of transport for you to Skybroom? Or would you rather stay here?" She would help Libby no matter what. "I could send for M'spin if you'd like?"

Snorting, Libby shook her head. "Yes, he does. According to Mom, Balin's no more than a son of a bitch with brass balls," she said, refusing to honor the man's name with the familial title of 'uncle'. In her mind, the only uncle in her family is Villi, and he had always been someone she had loved and respected. Balin was something else altogether.
Looking up at the offer of finding some form of transport from here to Skybroom, Libby ran a hand through her hair, biting her lip. She wanted nothing more than to run into her parents' arms, as if she was still five turns old again, and needed to hear their assurance of love and comfort. But she knew that she also had her duty to Akhenaten, as its Lady, and running off wasn't exactly the image she wanted to give to her people, either.
"Send for M'spin? Mmm... Much as I'd love to see him again, we can't involve the Weyr in this. Know Dad's not going to send to Skybroom Weyr for help with Rash, so we can't really send to M'spin. Particularly as Falling Skies doesn't protect this Hold, Skybroom does," she said quietly.
Nessila put her hands on Libby's shoulders and gave them a squeeze, letting some of her support and strength spill into her daughter-in-law. "I always liked your mother, dear. She's a smart woman and you are very much like her. Let's just hope your father gets to Balin first."
The former Lady of the Hold nodded at that. "We'd best let him know at some point at least. Perhaps well after the boys are safe, and Balin is in custody. Otherwise, I'm sure he'd like to offer the prick to Mesarth as Fall practice." She wrinkled her nose and sat on the other side of the desk.
Folding her hands neatly in her lap, she offered up another suggestion. "Would you like for me to go to the Hold then, or stay with you? I'm here no matter what, to help in any way that I can. While I used to be the Lady of Akhenaten, Libby, you are now, and I will do as you say."
Smiling, Libby chuckled, feeling some of the tension drain out of her, from both the touch and words of her mother-in-law. "Thank you. And Mom said that she had always admired and looked up to my father's mother, and said that it was a pity that her own mother wasn't the same. I'm glad to have two mothers I can love, admire, and turn to for advice." She reached up, squeezing the older woman's hand, before she went to sit on the other side of the desk.
"Hmm... If Dad got to Balin first, he'd have to fight Mom off. You know how protective mothers are of their children..." she chuckled ruefully, knowing that Nessila would appreciate where the comment was coming from.
Considering the idea of going to Skybroom or sending Nessila instead, the young Lady leaned backward on her chair, brows drawn together. Something came to her, and she smiled, blue eyes mischievous. "I think I'll go, and leave you in charge. I know that Balin is expecting me to either go to Skybroom, with my tail between my legs or cower in here, sending others to do things that I'd be too 'frightened' to do." Snorting, she frowned, running a hand through her thick hair, smoothing back some of the errant strands.
"I'm neither a coward or unnecessarily bold. But I think in this case, I'll have to be daring, and not worry about the consequences until after all this is over. Afraid if I think too much, I might just end up not doing anything." She shook her head, not sure if she was making any sense.
Sassy, listening to her person's daughter, chirruped, letting both women know she was still there, and wanted some attention.
Nessila smiled. She was always protective of her children, adopted or otherwise. M'spin, for instance, wasn't even of her blood, and she still raised him as if he were nothing but. Libby, while her son's wife, would receive similar treatment from her. "And I'm glad my son has such a strong, able woman as his wife."
"It might be a good idea for you to be there with your mother then, when and if your father does go in search of Balin." She flexed her fingers on the edges of the chair
she sat in, nodding when she decided to go to Skybroom. "You will not need to worry about the Hold while you are away. It is mine as much as it is yours and Norolan's."
It had been in her family for generations. If anyone dared mess with it ....
Hearing Sassy's chirrup, Nessila reached over to give her a scratch. "you've been very helpful, lovely."
Blushing at the compliment, Libby smiled, looking down at her hands. She was pleased and flattered by it.
Nodding at the thought that her mother could use some comfort, she chuckled. "Yes, she would. And tell me that I shouldn't have left Akhenaten. Least I'll know she's just being concerned for my sake. Not sure if I want to know what Dad would do if I popped up. Think he'll be torn between worry and relief."
"I don't think anyone would be foolish enough to mess with Akhenaten with you at the helm, Mother. Unless they don't value their lives," she remarked, winking.
Sassy, enjoying the attention, crooned, half closing her eyes in pleasure.
"Speaking of which, I suppose I'd better check on our 'guest'. I'm sure he's still waiting for the little note I've prepared for Balin... Have anything to add?" she asked, handing Nessila what she had written down for her uncle's eyes. It had several choice wordings in it, mostly outlining her feelings on this whole incident in general and what she'd love to do to Balin's carcass should she lay eyes on him in the next day or so.... At least.
"Tell her, again I send my support, and that the Hold is in good hands. I'll make sure of that." She smiled at Libby in reassurance. Lady Tsigana had good reason to worry, and Nessila could understand. She was beside herself with worry, and kept herself together simply for the sake of Libera.
Nessila continued to stroke the green, even as she spoke. She looked over the message, and shook her head. "If I did dear, it wouldn't be proper for anyone’s eyes, not even a pig like Balin's," She spat, shaking her head.
Nodding, Libby stood, holding the note. "I will do that. I don't want Mom to get too worked up over all this. It'd be Balin's pleasure indeed if she loses two children from this- Rash and the baby she's carrying now, so I'll have to see if I can keep Mom in a reasonable state of calmness..." Libby smiled wryly, remembering her own miscarriage about a turn ago. While the pain was still there, she had mostly gotten over it, thanks to Rolly's love and support.
"And you're right about the letter. Sometimes it's just better leaving certain words unsaid..." she smiled wickedly.
Walking to the door, she stepped out, wondering if Sassy would remain with Nessila or return to her mother. Not that it really mattered, though it would be nice to have her around, as some form of support from her parents, even in a fire-lizard. Nessila waited until Libby left before standing and moving herself. This situation worried her indeed. When
the coast was clear, she stood and went about arranging a pack for Libby's departure. When Sassy didn't budge, she gave the green a light push. "Go to Libby. She needs you,
pet."
Sassy, chirruping indignantly at the light push, lashed her tail with some annoyance, and betweened, emerging over Libby's head, deciding that it would be prudent to keep tabs on her person's oldest hatchling

Reaching the kitchen, the Lady walked in, eyes fastening on one very mangy-looking fellow, with matted, stringy hair and protruding eyes. Squelching a mue of distaste, she smoothed down her tunic, before clearing her throat.
"Hope you've enjoyed our hospitality," she began.
The man shrank back from Libby and tried looking in another direction all together. Truth be told, this was nice treatment compared to what usually went on back.. He finally found the best place to look was at his feet and remained silent.
Not surprised by the man's reaction to her politeness, Libby studied him, finding that the man himself wasn't so detestable so much as the way he cowered from her- as if he was used to getting beaten or something on a daily basis.
"Come now, man. We won't hurt you," she said quietly, shrewdly discerning that the man was also a half-wit of sorts to begin with. Clever of Balin- he wouldn't pick someone intelligent enough to find a way to get some of the profits in the end, and yet not too stupid to remember what he was supposed to do. Or not do, for that matter.
Feeling Sassy on her shoulder, she unconsciously squared her shoulders, mirroring one of her mother's mannerisms in dealing with unpleasantness.
The man was too stupid to argue. He was too afraid to say and do nothing. He spilled EVERYTHING. "I-I don' know alo' ma'am." He slurred. "Jus' know da' if I.. I 'ell you
any'hing.. my.. my family will be hur'. And.. so will I. And.. so will you husband and your bro'her."

He bit his lip, not really thinking he had said too much. All he knew was that was saying something to keep her from doing anything to his family as well.
Drawing her brows together into a slight frown, Libby puzzled her way through the man's accent, sensing that he was both frightened and stupid. An unfortunate combination.
The fact that the 'poor' man's life and that of his family had been threatened rankled at the young woman, deeply. And to hear that both Rashid and Norolan would get hurt if she was told anything...
Pressing her lips tightly together, Libby sighed, a smoldering flame in her eyes. "All right. Tell Balin that I thank him for the message, and that it's a pity that he's got less balls than sense. But then, Blood tells," she added, knowing full well that her uncle would certainly understand what she meant by the last comment.
Turning on her heels, the tall young woman strode from the kitchen, after giving one of the attendants directions to give the man a little bit of food and drink to take with him on the way.
Entering her apartment, she wasn't surprised to find Nessila getting her things packed. "Thanks. You didn't have to do that, but I appreciate it," she said, impulsively hugging the older woman, kissing her cheek.
Nessila returned the hug and smiled, holding Libby out from her before shaking her head. "You are my daughter, as much as you are my son's wife. As one of your mothers,
it's my duty to look out for you as well." She kissed Libby on the cheek, and finished packing. "Just make sure he's okay, Libby." She looked up, a bit sadly. "I don't know what I'd do if I lost him too."
Smiling in turn, Libby chuckled ruefully. "True enough... And I'll do my best to make sure Rolly's back in one piece. Him and Rash, that is," she added, as she changed into something old and worn- perfect for traveling fast and without hindrance. With luck, she
would just be taken for a weary wanderer, should she be stopped. Equipping herself with a beltknife, she glanced down at the weapon, knowing that it was a little short to be of real use in anything like a sword fight, but maybe for intimidation...
"Well, I'm off. If anyone asks, just say that I've gone to think about things. Faranth knows that that's true enough..." she added dryly, shaking her head.
Pulling a cap over her head, the young woman looked more like a young man, something she was betting on to keep her relatively safe during the journey to Skybroom.
Nessila didn't like the idea of Libby traveling alone. Especially with what had happened in the Hold's own territory. She had Sassy though, and she knew the area well enough. "Just be careful, Libby." She gave the girl one last squeeze, and slipped her a stiletto. "Just in
case." The blade was long and thin enough, that it could be hidden well enough from outside eyes, but easily accessible should it be needed. She only hoped it wouldn't need to be.
She stepped back, "Now go. I can handle things from here." She gave a small wave. "Send me word if and when you can." She bit her lip, and bowed her head.
Accepting the stiletto, Libby quickly secured it, feeling a little more confident of herself. She wasn't sure how her homecoming would be greeted, but it was best to keep a level head.
With a slightly wry smile, she knew that she was definitely too old and large to be put over her father's knee for this, but she was reasonably certain that it wouldn't stop Rolly from wishing he could.
"All right. Here's hoping all goes well then," she said, squaring her shoulders before the young woman strode from her apartment, Sassy remaining with Libby. The little green knew that her person's oldest hatchling was riding into uncertain danger, and she felt it was her duty to defend her- tooth, claw, and tail, if need be.
It wasn't long until Akhenaten Hold was left a good way behind Libby, who simply coaxed her mount to continue to push onto Skybroom.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

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Egyptian King and Monotheist



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Old Apr 12 2006, 08:35 PM   #6
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Fortunately for Libera, Balin's enclosure lay in the opposite direction, where at this moment, the man was seething with rage over her 'cheek', frightening his subordinates, Rashid most especially.
Breathing heavily, Balin stalked to the captives, planting his hands over his hips. "'Blood tells...'" he repeated, narrowing his eyes at Rashid, seeing just how much like his mother the boy was, in looks. He didn't know if he was like her in personality, though he had heard that he liked childish pranks, something Tsigana had done many times in her youth. A malicious smile forming on his face, he continued to look at Rashid, who returned the look with a defiant glare, and called to his second, Volen.
Volen appeared and went immediately to Balin's side.
He bowed his head. "Yes?"

Norolan, all the while, was watching Rashid and Balin each with one eye. He would launch himself at the man, if he tried to harm his brother.
Rashid, wriggling at his knots, soon gave that up- they were too tightly bound to be of much use, unfortunately. Pity he didn't have his knife with him, though how he would be able to shimmy the blade up to his hands from his sheath was beyond him.

Balin, still keeping an eye on Rashid, glanced at Volen, and smiled, picking up Rashid's knife. "I think we should have a little bit of fun..." he began, before explaining what new, twisted idea he had in mind.
When he was done, Rashid was cringing, drawing himself into a tight ball, not liking what his uncle had in mind at all. And as for Norolan, the man couldn't really do much to help, unless he could get himself out of those knots...
Volen's eyes quickly grew wide and wicked. He grinned from ear to ear. "What part do I have in all of this." From the tone in his voice, it was quite obvious that he was in no matter what.

Norolan, meanwhile, continued his glaring, and continued his vigil of Rashid. The man's fingers, however, were busy, doing their best to work themselves free of the knots binding them together. With any luck, he'd manage to do something that might give Rash a chance at least.
"Oh, you're going to help me with this. Know I can trust you not to be squeamish about this," Balin said, a feral grin forming on his long, lean face. "I want you to..." His voice lowering to a whisper, Balin informed the younger, shorter man of his plans for them, knowing that Volen would certainly enjoy it.

Rashid, turning his head to look at his brother, widened his eyes at what the Holder's fingers were doing. Not daring to draw attention to what he was doing, Rashid rolled over, fastening his eyes onto Balin and Volen, idly wondering if he could get away with kicking at one or both of them. He didn't like what they had planned for him- the way Balin kept glancing at him made him feel sick. If only he could get free of his knots...
Volen chuckled, a devious look on his face. "Ooh.. I do love the way that you think." He clasped Balin on the shoulder. "When should I get to work?"

Norolan soon had his hands free. He kept them held tight behind his back, however, wanting to wait until Balin and that other pig were distracted. Once they were,
he'd free his feet, and then go to action.
"Hmm... Well, if you're in that much of a hurry, we can get started, just as soon as we get the boy..." Balin answered, ignoring the two captives for the moment. He knew that there was no way either one could get out of the knots.
"Think my stupid sister would like an early birthday gift," he added, chuckling softly, a gleam in his eyes.

Rashid, not liking the way things were going, bit his lip, chewing on it nervously until he could taste blood. He knew something was up, but what? At least both men weren't paying any attention to him or Norolan.
Volen was more than ready. He was thirsting for this job. He licked his lips, his smile turning in a sadistic curve. "The sooner the better." Was all he said, reaching for the blade at his side. He was eager, and touching it was all that kept him calm.

Norolan wanted to cry out in triumph when the two turned their attention elsewhere. Instead, he had to work quickly and carefully. He reached down to untie his ankles, then started to work on Rashid. "Run, only when I tell you to." He whispered quietly to the boy.
Almost purring with anticipation, Balin nodded. "Excellent, excellent... Now, where is that Agravian..." he said, frowning, just as the man stepped in, eyeing both men warily. As Balin instructed the man on what to do, he glanced at the captives, who fortunately, had the presence of mind to pretend not to be moving or doing anything suspicious.
Arching a brow, the green-eyed man, bowed, and grinned wolfishly at his superiors, and sauntered out, wondering if he could see what happened at the end... Be interesting, if Balin carried out the plan to the end... And it'd serve all those damned Holders right, too! Them with their high-faluting airs and all...

Rashid, biting his lip to keep from meeping in surprise, nodded once, eyes narrowed as he looked at the men still planning out their dastardly deed. He knew that he wanted nothing more than to punch his uncle on the nose, but Balin would likely kill him for that- no matter that Rash simply didn't have the quickness or experience enough to hold his own in a full-out fight.
His bounds loosened, the boy wriggled his feet and hands, being as subtle about it as he could.
Once Norolan was free, he didn't waist any time in launching himself at Balin. "Rash!" He yelled out after commencing his attack on the man. He was going to kill him, sure as Faranth was gold!
Whirling around as soon as he heard Norolan, Balin hissed, eyes narrowed into dark blue slits. He was unpleasantly surprised- no matter. This little nescience would be taken care of. With a quick nod to Volen, he launched himself to Norolan, prepared for the younger man's aggressive onslaught.

Rashid, needing no further urging, dashed from where he had been laying, only to be intercepted by Volen. Face slamming onto the ground, the boy kicked out, breaking the man's nose into a bloody pulp. Intent on getting out of the now enraged man's tight grasp, the boy was unaware of the danger he was in, due to Volen's temper.

Balin, ignoring Volen and the little brat, snarled, grunting as a punch or two hit home against his side. Unfortunately for Norolan, the advantage of surprise had just been lost, and the fact that Balin also had a knife at his disposal and the maliciousness to use it on his niece’s husband... He dodged another swing, gripped him by the front of his tunic, and slammed the knife into the man's body, ignoring the blows to his side and front, until a well-timed kick to his groin sent Norolan, crumpled, to the ground, groaning, his wounds seeping with blood.
Volen grabbed onto Rashid, and shook the boy as hard as he could. His face was bloody and throbbing, and that served only to fuel his anger and blood lust. He wanted to KILL now more than ever. What kept him from strangling the brat, was Balin's instructions. He would not defy Balin and risk his own life for a thrill or two. He gave him another shake, and hollered when Rashid bit into his flesh. It was then that he threw the boy, muttering as his body smacked hard into the stone cave wall. "Shaffing little brat bit me!"

Norolan gasped as he crumpled to the ground. They weren't bad but.. there was so much blood. He groaned and grasped his side, blood seeping through his fingers. He gasped as
another sharp fit of pain hit him. Rashid... he tried to look for the boy, but was brought down by the pain in his side. "R…Rash?" He called in a hoarse whisper.
Looking up when the boy's body hit the cave wall, Balin grunted, shaking his head. "Takes after his bitch of a mother," he drawled, with real amusement, knowing that he spoke nothing but the truth. He never liked his sister, and in his opinion, 'bitch' was an understatement, as far as Lady Tsigana was concerned. And Kiyia... Well, he could handle her- he used to be able to handle her when they were children, why not now? She had always been more eager to please, far as their father was concerned, anyway.
With both captives out, he picked up the knife, smudged with Norolan's blood, and ran a thumb along its edge, eyes glittering. "All right... Let's get going... First, get him," he paused, nodding at Norolan's crumpled body, "tied up, and for Faranth's sake, make sure he can't get loose this time. Hog-tie him if you have to, long as he doesn't get free. I'll start getting our plan into motion."
With that, he stepped over the Holder's body, a heel kicking deeply into his side as he went by, and stopped by Rashid, looking down dispassionately. He nudged the body over, noting with detachment that his nephew would be badly injured when he woke up- if he ever did again. Not that he cared... Besides, he could just say that it was the brat's fault for attacking a grown man when he knew it was hopeless.
Squatting down, he studied the boy for a long while, until he was joined by Volen. "Ready?" he asked, before the two began their bloody work.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist



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Old Apr 15 2006, 05:28 PM   #7
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Warning: If torture is upsetting, skip this part.

Fortunately for Libera, Balin's enclosure lay in the opposite direction, where at this moment, the man was seething with rage over her 'cheek', frightening his subordinates, Rashid most especially.
Breathing heavily, Balin stalked to the captives, planting his hands over his hips. "'Blood tells...'" he repeated, narrowing his eyes at Rashid, seeing just how much like his mother the boy was, in looks. He didn't know if he was like her in personality, though he had heard that he liked childish pranks, something Tsigana had done many times in her youth. A malicious smile forming on his face, he continued to look at Rashid, who returned the look with a defiant glare, and called to his second, Volen.
Volen appeared and went immediately to Balin's side.
He bowed his head. "Yes?"

Norolan, all the while, was watching Rashid and Balin each with one eye. He would launch himself at the man, if he tried to harm his brother.
Rashid, wriggling at his knots, soon gave that up- they were too tightly bound to be of much use, unfortunately. Pity he didn't have his knife with him, though how he would be able to shimmy the blade up to his hands from his sheath was beyond him.

Balin, still keeping an eye on Rashid, glanced at Volen, and smiled, picking up Rashid's knife. "I think we should have a little bit of fun..." he began, before explaining what new, twisted idea he had in mind.
When he was done, Rashid was cringing, drawing himself into a tight ball, not liking what his uncle had in mind at all. And as for Norolan, the man couldn't really do much to help, unless he could get himself out of those knots...
Volen's eyes quickly grew wide and wicked. He grinned from ear to ear. "What part do I have in all of this." From the tone in his voice, it was quite obvious that he was in no matter what.

Norolan, meanwhile, continued his glaring, and continued his vigil of Rashid. The man's fingers, however, were busy, doing their best to work themselves free of the knots binding them together. With any luck, he'd manage to do something that might give Rash a chance at least.
"Oh, you're going to help me with this. Know I can trust you not to be squeamish about this," Balin said, a feral grin forming on his long, lean face. "I want you to..." His voice lowering to a whisper, Balin informed the younger, shorter man of his plans for them, knowing that Volen would certainly enjoy it.

Rashid, turning his head to look at his brother, widened his eyes at what the Holder's fingers were doing. Not daring to draw attention to what he was doing, Rashid rolled over, fastening his eyes onto Balin and Volen, idly wondering if he could get away with kicking at one or both of them. He didn't like what they had planned for him- the way Balin kept glancing at him made him feel sick. If only he could get free of his knots...
Volen chuckled, a devious look on his face. "Ooh.. I do love the way that you think." He clasped Balin on the shoulder. "When should I get to work?"

Norolan soon had his hands free. He kept them held tight behind his back, however, wanting to wait until Balin and that other pig were distracted. Once they were,
he'd free his feet, and then go to action.
"Hmm... Well, if you're in that much of a hurry, we can get started, just as soon as we get the boy..." Balin answered, ignoring the two captives for the moment. He knew that there was no way either one could get out of the knots.
"Think my stupid sister would like an early birthday gift," he added, chuckling softly, a gleam in his eyes.

Rashid, not liking the way things were going, bit his lip, chewing on it nervously until he could taste blood. He knew something was up, but what? At least both men weren't paying any attention to him or Norolan.
Volen was more than ready. He was thirsting for this job. He licked his lips, his smile turning in a sadistic curve. "The sooner the better." Was all he said, reaching for the blade at his side. He was eager, and touching it was all that kept him calm.

Norolan wanted to cry out in triumph when the two turned their attention elsewhere. Instead, he had to work quickly and carefully. He reached down to untie his ankles, then started to work on Rashid. "Run, only when I tell you to." He whispered quietly to the boy.
Almost purring with anticipation, Balin nodded. "Excellent, excellent... Now, where is that Agravian..." he said, frowning, just as the man stepped in, eyeing both men warily. As Balin instructed the man on what to do, he glanced at the captives, who fortunately, had the presence of mind to pretend not to be moving or doing anything suspicious.
Arching a brow, the green-eyed man, bowed, and grinned wolfishly at his superiors, and sauntered out, wondering if he could see what happened at the end... Be interesting, if Balin carried out the plan to the end... And it'd serve all those damned Holders right, too! Them with their high-faluting airs and all...

Rashid, biting his lip to keep from meeping in surprise, nodded once, eyes narrowed as he looked at the men still planning out their dastardly deed. He knew that he wanted nothing more than to punch his uncle on the nose, but Balin would likely kill him for that- no matter that Rash simply didn't have the quickness or experience enough to hold his own in a full-out fight.
His bounds loosened, the boy wriggled his feet and hands, being as subtle about it as he could.
Once Norolan was free, he didn't waist any time in launching himself at Balin. "Rash!" He yelled out after commencing his attack on the man. He was going to kill him, sure as Faranth was gold!
Whirling around as soon as he heard Norolan, Balin hissed, eyes narrowed into dark blue slits. He was unpleasantly surprised- no matter. This little nescience would be taken care of. With a quick nod to Volen, he launched himself to Norolan, prepared for the younger man's aggressive onslaught.

Rashid, needing no further urging, dashed from where he had been laying, only to be intercepted by Volen. Face slamming onto the ground, the boy kicked out, breaking the man's nose into a bloody pulp. Intent on getting out of the now enraged man's tight grasp, the boy was unaware of the danger he was in, due to Volen's temper.

Balin, ignoring Volen and the little brat, snarled, grunting as a punch or two hit home against his side. Unfortunately for Norolan, the advantage of surprise had just been lost, and the fact that Balin also had a knife at his disposal and the maliciousness to use it on his niece’s husband... He dodged another swing, gripped him by the front of his tunic, and slammed the knife into the man's body, ignoring the blows to his side and front, until a well-timed kick to his groin sent Norolan, crumpled, to the ground, groaning, his wounds seeping with blood.
Volen grabbed onto Rashid, and shook the boy as hard as he could. His face was bloody and throbbing, and that served only to fuel his anger and blood lust. He wanted to KILL now more than ever. What kept him from strangling the brat, was Balin's instructions. He would not defy Balin and risk his own life for a thrill or two. He gave him another shake, and hollered when Rashid bit into his flesh. It was then that he threw the boy, muttering as his body smacked hard into the stone cave wall. "Shaffing little brat bit me!"

Norolan gasped as he crumpled to the ground. They weren't bad but.. there was so much blood. He groaned and grasped his side, blood seeping through his fingers. He gasped as
another sharp fit of pain hit him. Rashid... he tried to look for the boy, but was brought down by the pain in his side. "R…Rash?" He called in a hoarse whisper.
Looking up when the boy's body hit the cave wall, Balin grunted, shaking his head. "Takes after his bitch of a mother," he drawled, with real amusement, knowing that he spoke nothing but the truth. He never liked his sister, and in his opinion, 'bitch' was an understatement, as far as Lady Tsigana was concerned. And Kiyia... Well, he could handle her- he used to be able to handle her when they were children, why not now? She had always been more eager to please, far as their father was concerned, anyway.
With both captives out, he picked up the knife, smudged with Norolan's blood, and ran a thumb along its edge, eyes glittering. "All right... Let's get going... First, get him," he paused, nodding at Norolan's crumpled body, "tied up, and for Faranth's sake, make sure he can't get loose this time. Hog-tie him if you have to, long as he doesn't get free. I'll start getting our plan into motion."
With that, he stepped over the Holder's body, a heel kicking deeply into his side as he went by, and stopped by Rashid, looking down dispassionately. He nudged the body over, noting with detachment that his nephew would be badly injured when he woke up- if he ever did again. Not that he cared... Besides, he could just say that it was the brat's fault for attacking a grown man when he knew it was hopeless.
Squatting down, he studied the boy for a long while, until he was joined by Volen. "Ready?" he asked, before the two began their bloody work.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist



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Old Apr 16 2006, 03:47 PM   #8
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Skybroom Hold
The man, named Gaheris, refused to acknowledge the entrance of the Lord and his Lady. He cared for them little, and reacted just as much. He had ignored the one bitch -- Kaya, or Kiryia, or something like that – while she questioned him, which failed to humor her.

He, on the other hand, found it very enjoyable, and liked watching her face grow red, and hearing her shout. It did nothing to him, which he supposed served only to
rub her further.
Who cared. He had his own purpose in all this, and not they, nor Balin, were going to keep him from that.
Lysandre stood over the man, arms crossed, and glared down his nose at him. "I suggest you tell me what I want to know if you want to leave this Hold in one piece," he said coldly. "You think Balin was bad? I'm much, much worse."
Turning his head so the man couldn't see his lips, he mouthed to Kiyia, "Bring me a long knife."
Narrowly watching the man, Tsi frowned, ignoring Kiyia's seething rage. She didn't blame her sister for being angry by the fact that their 'guest' wasn't very 'helpful', but on the other hand, Kiyia had a tendency to fly off the handle far more readily than her.

Reading her brother-in-law's lips, the Headwoman widened her eyes, and nodded, grinning happily. Maybe a bit of blood-shed would be just the thing! Perhaps a bit of skinning... a little dismemberment here and a slice there would be enough to loosen the man's tongue.
Turning, she went to where the utensils were kept, and pulled out a long butcher's knife, knowing that it was very sharp- their cook was a fanatic about keeping his utensils in excellent condition.
Without a word, she handed the knife to the Lord, keeping a blank face, while Tsi raised a brow at this turn in events. The Lady had never seen her husband like this, but on the other hand, they'd never had their child abducted and threatened, either. She looked at him, wondering what would happen next. Just as well she had a relatively strong stomach- hopefully.
Gaheris barely flinched upon sight of the knife. He took one last bite from the plate in front of him, and then with all the manners of a Lord Holder, dabbed at his face, settled the kerchief on his half-emptied plate, and pushed it delicately away. He eyed the blade
carefully, gaze narrowed just slightly.

Then, he folded his hands in his lap, and sat back from the table, but didn't stand. He watched them in an almost polite manner, and even rolled up his sleeves for them. There were plenty of marks on his arms and hands from similar treatments in the past with the raiders. He wasn't afraid of what they had in mind, which he was almost certain of.
Lysandre did not react to the sight of the scars on the man's arms. Hmm, this might be harder than he thought. He took the knife from Kiyia with a nod, balancing it in his hand.
"I hope you enjoyed your meal, because it's the last one you're going to get here," he said dryly to the messenger. "Care to tell me your name?" He studied the man like a predator studying its prey, looking for all the world as if he would quite happily kill him. "I don't take kindly to a threat to my family. Would you like to know what happened to the last person who tried?" Ly grinned evilly. "You wouldn't recognize him as human by now...I can think of something much worse for Balin and you."
"Yes, it was very delicious. Thank you." He watched Lysandre carefully, noting the man's posture and way he spoke. "Gaheris is my name." He said quite curtly, though
he continued to sit and smile politely. If this man was trying to intimidate him, Gaheris was far fearful. "Do what you must," He held up his hands. "just as long as I get my desires out of this whole thing, you could chop me up live in pieces and feed me to wherries." He shrugged, the first impolite gesture aside form his speech. "Like I said, I could care less."
Lysandre just watched Gaheris. "Oh really? Then I don't suppose you would mind telling me exactly where Balin is, and how many men he has with him?" The Lord Holder put his face right in the other man's. This was new to him, so he was improvising as he went along, letting his emotions take over to some extent.
"I would also be interested in what your 'desires' are," he drawled, "Or I just might indulge some of my own, starting with this." On the last word, he abruptly brought the hilt of the knife down on the back of one of Gaheris's hands, fancying he heard something break.
Both women watched the interplay with some interest, and a bit of revulsion on Tsi's part, as she had very little taste for torture, much as she would like to simply strangle the man until he turned blue or revealed where Balin was so she could simply kill him and get her two sons back. Yes, she considered Norolan to be a son of hers, if more by marriage than blood.
However, looking at Gaheris made the Lady feel a bit disconcerted- as if he was someone she knew. Shaking her head, she frowned, eyes narrowed, as she studied the man a bit more carefully, wondering just why he seemed so familiar.

Kiyia, flicking a gaze at her brother-in-law as he whacked the knife hilt onto the man's hand, bit the inside of her mouth, wanting nothing more than to just gouge the man's eyes out with her nails. Knives be damned- SHE'D settle for nails and eye-ball puncturing. Now that was torture- and messy, too.
Of course, as Kiyia wasn't quite that... primal, she was content to just watch the show, wondering if she could have some fun, too. Pity she couldn't just pick up a plate and start whacking at Gaheris for his obvious disdain. Would certainly teach him a thing or two, too!
Gaheris cursed and stumbled a few steps back, cradling his now broken hand tenderly. He hissed and looked up at Lysandre, his eyes narrowed and dark. Suppose he did tell them where Balin and his men were. He had no ties to be worried about, death was not a fear of his. He could care less what happened to the family he did have.

But now.. now he didn't think he should. He growled, about ready to throw himself at the Lord Holder. He would have, had he been stupid enough. But for a raider, Gaheris was of average intelligence, and held himself fast.

"Well, after that little... show, I don't think I should tell you dung." He glanced at his limp hand, tried to bend his fingers, and whimpered under his breath.
Lysandre forced his expression to remain hard, trying to decide what to do next. He didn't like torture either, but had been attempting something he assumed Gaheris to be familiar with. Not quite the reaction he was looking for...
"Really? Perhaps I should persuade you to speak before I remove your ability to communicate. It would be a shame to cut out that acid tongue of yours..." Ly drawled. "Or maybe I'll start with an ear and leave it out where Balin will find it."
Flinching, Tsi turned away, thinking. She still couldn't shake the sense that the man reminded her of someone. But she could have sworn that she'd never met or seen him before.
Noticing her sister's strained face, Kiyia drew her brows together, and murmured into her ear.
At the suggestion, the Lady shook her head, lips pressed tightly together. "No, I'm not going to faint or anything. Just don't... care for this," she muttered back, too soft for Gaheris or Ly to hear, not that she really cared.
Nodding, Kiyia cocked her head, looking thoughtfully at Gaheris. She knew that something about the man bothered Tsigana, but was at a loss on what to do- other than just watch the show.
Forcing herself to look at Gaheris, Tsigana narrowed her eyes, unconsciously thinking of Norolan, and then stopped short, eyes widening in shock.
"Ly, can you hold back from breaking his limbs or lopping off his ears?" she asked, raising a hand to catch her husband's attention. "He looks a bit like Norolan, but I'm hoping I'm mistaken..." She fastened a pair of dark blue eyes onto Gaheris's eyes, holding his gaze, matching a glare for a glare.
Surprised, Ly stopped and heard Tsi out. He blinked at what she said and gave Gaheris another hard look. Now that he was really looking, he saw it too.
"You're right....Might help explain why Norolan was abducted too..." he murmured, a speculative look in his eyes. "What do you want to do?"
He turned half away from Gaheris, but didn't let the man completely out of his sight, continuing to hold the knife on him
"Not sure. Can't just kill him out of turn. And I'm afraid that if you go around holding him too long, Rashid or Norolan, or both, will suffer for it. You know how Father's temper was. Balin's the same way, only..." pausing, Tsi frowned.
"More violent," Kiyia supplied, shaking her head. "He never did anything to me, as I was his favorite, but I remember how he was towards you, Tsi," she said, feeling a twinge of guilt.
""Father? Oh yes. And Balin was encouraged in harassing the drudges and the girls not of the Blood. Lost more than a few good Crafters that way, too. Of course, Father told me to mind my own business if I didn't want to get my hide tanned." Lifting her shoulders, the Lady snorted, returning her attention to Gaheris. "Could send a note to Akhenaton and inquire about our...'guest'," she suggested.
Lysandre nodded, agreeing with Tsi. Norolan and his mother - and brother - had the right to decide how to deal with Gaheris first, if he was related. "I know. I only hope Rashid uses his head and listens to Norolan. It could make the difference."
Villiam returned from wherever he'd been and put a hand on Kiyia's shoulder. He gave Gaheris a narrow eyed glare, but he wasn't going to speak yet. What he had to say was for Ly and Tsi only.
Ly spat to the side - near Gaheris's feet. "Double standard...if he'd been more even handed, maybe we wouldn't be dealing with the consequences now. But no point dwelling on that." Or delaying. "Good idea. Why don't you send Sassy? Villi, throw that piece of garbage out before he fouls up my hold any more. Don't want Balin to think anything's amiss."
Luckily, their conversation had been in low tones out of hearing range of Gaheris.
Nodding, Tsi frowned. "True, though if they're Balin's captives, I doubt that there's much chance of communication between them. Balin would want to keep them under watch at all times, though if he's using Raiders... They might get bored and lapse, if there's no danger of getting caught." She snorted, shaking her head.
Kiyia, glancing at Villi when he suddenly appeared, was surprised by the hand on her shoulder, but didn't say anything. She merely gave him a questioning look, knowing that it would be have to be something important for the Steward to show up like this. At least that saved her the trouble of going to his office later- for something she wanted, of course.
At Ly's suggestion, Tsi smiled slightly, and then her face sobered, as the lady realized that Sassy hadn't returned from her errand yet. And the little blue had already been sent back to Akhenaten, more the pity.
"Well, seeing as Sassy's probably still with Libby, I'll have to borrow Bubba or something," she pointed out, wondering what Villi wanted to discuss with them. She kept her voice low, knowing that Gaheris wouldn't be able to hear her, especially as she had moved her head so that her face was obscured from the man's view.
Ly rubbed the back of his head, feeling the beginnings of a headache. "Hmm...Still, even Norolan's presence could be better than being alone, though I'm not thrilled with either of them being captured."
He also looked up, noticing that Sassy was gone. "Ah...yes, we'll have to send Bubba then. And I just thought of something, we can have one of the fastest runners meet Libby half way and return with her. Just in case."
Villi shook his head at Kiyia and murmured, "In a minute." He had been out coordinating things with the guards. Now he grinned at Ly. "Thought of that. And our watchrider's a Keroonian: he volunteered to overfly the area and report back. That's not really interference, since the guards will do the same thing, only slower."
Ly nodded at his brother's report. "Thanks, Villi." But he wasn't relaxing yet.

Eyeing Ly rubbing the back of his head, Tsi felt some sympathy for him, promising herself that she would get him to join her in that bath after, if only to get him to relax for a bit. They both needed it.
"Can't imagine that Libby or Nessila are thrilled with this, either," she agreed, lips pursed, before dropping that subject.
Nodding at the suggestion, she chuckled. "Sure. Glad Libby's always liked racing the runners when she was younger. Suppose that'll come in handy for her, if she decides to show up."
Raising a brow at her husband, Kiyia resigned herself to waiting, listening to him and Ly. At least something was being done.
Tsi smiled slightly at Villi, looking and feeling very tired. "Glad someone's doing something, at least," she said, as a sudden green blur shot past, landing on the table, hissing at Gaheris before fire-lizardting to Tsi's shoulder.
"Sassy! In a snit, are we?" she asked, looking at the fire-lizard, who just hissed, lashing her tail.
A few moments later, a clatter of footsteps was heard, and Libera appeared in the kitchen, looking wan. She barely glanced at Gaheris, immediately hugging her mother.
T'sral, stepping in behind her, inclined his head to the Holders. "Saw her and offered to bring her here," he explained. "Haven't seen anything- yet. But I'll take another sweep in half an hour, if you want," he offered, dark eyes grim as they rested on Gaheris, before meeting the Lord's, waiting for his response.
"It could at that. Least we can trust Libby not to run her mount into the ground though," Ly pointed out.
Villiam nodded, his lips pressed into a scowl. He didn't like this, and wished it could have been avoided somehow. "Doing as much as I can think of, though it feels like too little, too late."
Lysandre joined the hug briefly, holding both Tsi and Libby, then released them when T'sral entered. "Thank you, T'sral. I wouldn't ask too much of you, but since you volunteered...yes, please. We should probably organize the Hold's fire-lizards for greater coverage," he added, thinking aloud.
"Still want to get rid of that?" Villi asked, jerking his thumb at Gaheris. "He's seen too much."
Ly had almost forgotten about him: Now he nodded quickly. "Yes. All eyes open," he said, falling back on a childhood code between the two of them.
Villi nodded and grabbed Gaheris, hauling him out ahead of him and escorting the man away from the Hold.
He waited a bit before pulling aside one of the guards who was an excellent tracker, and had a quick conversation with him. The guard waited til Gaheris was out of sight before following his trail discreetly.
Tsi, nodding, sighed. "True, but I suppose it always feels that way in times like this," she remarked, taking a deep breath, before Libby made her appearance.
With her oldest in her arms, Tsi watched as Villi got rid of Gaheris, glad to be rid of the man. And Kiyia would likely have the drudges give the kitchen a thorough scrubbing, just to rid the Hold of his lingering presence.
T'sral, satisfied that the Holders were doing something about all this, inclined his head, before he turned on his heel and left.
Looking at Tsi and Libby, Kiyia took a deep breath, glad that her niece looked fine, if a little pale and exhausted. She'd order some of the drudges to prepare a room for her, and send her into a bath.
"Let me see about getting a room for you, Libby. As well as a bath," she said, after giving the young woman a quick embrace. She glanced at Ly, green eyes shrewd. "I'll keep people from bothering you and Tsi for a while, if you want. Villi can tell me everything later," she added, sighing, not liking the idea of being left out of the loop, even for a short time.
Tsi, looking curiously at her sister, hid a smile, guessing what was going through her mind. At least she wasn't going for anyone's eyes at this point.
Libby, feeling drained, shifted in her mother's arms, before stepping back, wiping away tears with the back of her hand, blue eyes dark with worry, anger, and exhaustion. Despite all that, she looked well, something that sent silent alarms ringing in Tsigana's mind, as she studied her daughter carefully, not saying anything.
Looking at Ly, she raised a brow. "Think we should retire to our apartment. Be able to have some privacy there, too," she suggested, knowing that Libby would want to talk. And she wanted to talk to her, too, especially if what she suspected was true.
Lysandre also watched Libby, wishing she was a child again so he could take her in his arms and tell her everything would be all right. But she was an adult and a Lady in her own right, and he wasn't entirely sure that things would work out for the best.
"Good idea. We can't do much more now," he said, then looked at Libby. "Why don't you go get cleaned up, at least, before joining us in our apartment? You'll feel a little better then."
Getting some form of comfort from her mother's arms, even if it wasn't really the same as when she had been a child, Libby felt a little better. But not much.
"All right. I'll see you in about half an hour then?" she said, looking from Ly to Tsi, getting identical nods from them in answer. Turning, she stepped out of the kitchen, disappearing down the hallway towards the bath.
Looking at Ly after their daughter had left, Tsi took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "Well, I suppose if Libby's taking that bath, I'd better take one, too. And you're joining me, whether you want to or not. It'll help with the headache for a bit, at least," she added, wrapping an arm around his waist.
Lysandre stretched, suddenly feeling emotionally drained, partly from tension, partly from the effort of playing a role normally foreign to him.
"You just try to stop me from joining you," he told Tsi, smiling. "How about a massage afterward, with those new scented oils?" He suggested.
Ly held Tsi close to him, feeling the life she carried within her. He was filled with a resolve to find Balin and personally ensure that the scum could not threaten any part of his family again.
"Good. And I'll hold you to that massage after," Tsi said, smiling at her husband, nestling her face against his shoulder. She didn't want to think of Balin running around loose, especially now that he had Rashid and Norolan with him. As much as she hated to think of killing him, she knew that that was possibly the only way to be rid of him, brother or no.
Looking forward to just relaxing for the next half hour or so, Tsi all but dragged Ly with her towards their apartment, followed by two fire-lizardters
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist



Last edited by Greenrider Tresa; Apr 19 2006 at 08:45 PM.
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Old Apr 18 2006, 08:53 PM   #9
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Gaheris didn't even think of watching his back, or sides, on his way back to the cave. The only thing he was thinking of, was his hand and Balin's reaction when he returned.

He went along fast as he could, wanting to reach the spot before it got too dark out. The sooner he had returned, the sooner his hand could be tended to, and perhaps then, Balin wouldn't take any action out on him.

He hadn't said anything that would point anyone in the cave's direction -- that had been his job in the first place, right? Just bring the message, not say anything. Of course, Gaheris knew he had been chosen because of a 'lesser intelligence' -- did Balin REALLY
know how wrong that type-casting was?

Well, he'd surely find out sooner or later. Gaheris wanted his, and if that meant overstepping the raider boss, he'd do it. He'd do anything to get Norolan and his family out of the way, so he could have Akhenaten. Even that son-of-a-tunnelsnake M'spin -- who cares if he was a dragonrider. There're plenty of them around as is. And he was still of 'the family' and therefore a danger. Yes, he'd have to find someway to get rid of him as well.

Without realizing it, his thoughts rolling with ways of how to do in that pesky brownrider, he was within site of the cave entrance. The pace was picked up ten-fold, and he glanced over his shoulder only once. Strange, just then, he felt as if he were being watched.

Didn't matter now, all that mattered was getting to the cave, and starting his own business, whether Balin liked it or not.

---
Just a few more things to do.. Tidy up the cave a bit, wipe up the blood, change out of his clothes... Yes, life was good, for now...
Smiling sardonically, Balin stretched his arms over his head, satisfied that all was in order. Now all he had to do was send that little... 'gift' along to his sister. She would certain appreciate the message from it, too.
Hearing footsteps outside his area, Balin dropped his arms to his sides, eyes narrowed. Had to be Gaheris, as that idiot from Akhenaten hadn't moved from his spot since he returned, still gibbering about his damned family.
"So, how did my sister and her pet take the news?" he asked, as some of the Raiders took up their positions, alerted to anyone following.
"And did anyone recognize you?" he added, more out of curiosity. He knew that Gaheris had a bone to pick with Norolan, and would gladly let him take care of him and his sharding family.

Gaheris's upper lip curled into a half snarl and he carefully held up his broken hand. "I almost lost my tongue, and an ear, but I didn't say dung to them."
He shook his head, "There was some recognition, but nothing was said outright, and I didn't say anything."
Brows raised at the sight of the man's swollen, broken hand, Balin nodded. "So he's turned to torture, has he? How the mighty has fallen," he remarked, snorting. "I'm sure.. Though knowing my bitch of a sister, she would likely send a messenger to Akhenaten about you."
Snarling at the thought of Tsigana, Balin's face darkened, hand clenching into a tight fist. "Tell me, was there anyone who popped up unexpectedly? Like a young Lady?" he asked, raising a brow. "If my niece decides to go mewing home to her parents over her husband and brother, instead of remaining at Akhenaten..." he said, thinking, letting Gaheris draw whatever conclusions he could get from his words.

Rodin, the guard Villiam had sent to track Gaheris, crept carefully to a position where he could see the cave without being seen. He stayed only long enough to commit the details to memory, then quietly slipped away along a different route than the one he had taken coming in.
He prided himself on his excellent memory, which meant he need not take time to sketch the location or mark his trail in any obvious way. A few rocks moved here, a branch of a bush snapped there - nothing that couldn't be attributed to an animal moving through the area. He kept his eyes and ears open just in case anyone followed him back.
Rodin had one more ace - a blue fire-lizard, an award for service, whom he sent ahead to help scout from the air. The thick gray clouds moving in from behind didn't hurt either.
"Yeah, looks that way." He glanced at the men around im. "Get me something to fix this up!" He snarled, not caring about waiting for an order from Balin. "And we all know how pleased it'll make my Mother. She would have left my Mother in her place. Nessila isn't very fond of me, even if I am her flesh and blood. We all know that -- her preference at the conclave that made brother dearest Holder made that all too clear." He nodded however. "But yes, she did show up right before I was led away."

One of the men, cringing at Gaheris' order, nearly fell over his feet, getting a healer to placate him. When the healer finally appeared, he snorted at the hand, muttering something under his breath about idiots and loose tongues before starting his work on the hand, slathering numbweed on it.
"Oh, I'm sure. Your mother sounds just like my sister. Two bitches leading their men along on a damned rope, as if they were nothing more than dogs or something." Sneering at the thought of Tsigana actually able to have some say in preventing him from Holding, he shook his head.
"Ah. So she's nothing more than just a pretty face- like her mother. But then, that's to be expected..." he said, drawing his brows together as one of the guards, who'd been keeping watch, came rushing back, his black eyes snapping with excitement.
"Sir! There's been a sighting of a Guard nearby. He's retracing his steps back to the Hold," he added, getting a hiss from Balin.
"You let him live? You damned fool!" Balin snarled, raising his hand as if to slap the guard, and then stopped, eyes resting on the bloody bag at his feet. Then again... perhaps something could be salvaged out of this...
He glanced at Gaheris, waiting for the healer to finish tending to the hand before they continued their talk.
"Seems that my brother-in-law knows where we are now, thanks to that guard. And you led him to us. But... no matter. Just a slight change in plans, that's all..." he added, his minds working quickly, arms crossed over his chest.
"It's not my fault, Balin. I had no idea I was being followed." Truth be told, he never once thought of looking or checking, but then again, at the time, he hadn't been thinking of anything other than getting back to the cave to get his hand tended to.

"Should we move them?" Volen came forward, after checking on the prisoners and shoving men to follow the guard. "Or leave, or something?" He glared at Gaheris,
who did nothing but sneer in return.
---
Meanwhile, Rodin had decided he'd better obscure his appearance so he looked less like a guard. He rubbed mud into his hair and clothes, darkening them, and hid his sword under his jacket. He could pull off the task of looking holdless quite well, having been one himself at one time.
Where he could, he avoided the paths and covered his own trail better than Gaheris could. Sometimes this meant swimming instead of following a dirt path, or walking carefully in high grass. He'd not brought a runner in case the noise of one was heard, but he still made good time until he spotted Uath on his second sweep and waved the brown dragon down.
The two were soon back at Skybroom Hold, where Rodin reported first to Villiam.
---

Drawing his brows together, Balin frowned at the younger man, slowly shaking his head. Of course Gaheris wouldn't have thought of checking for followers- and besides, Balin knew that he didn't give a damn about anything but what he wanted. Just as well, as Balin cared for nothing but what HE wanted, so that was where they got on.
Hearing Volen's voice, Balin nodded. "Yes. Take them to one of the deeper caves- leave no trace. I want those Hold guards when they show up, to have a bit of a merry chase." Pausing, he thought over his words and raised a hand. "No, separate the prisoners. I'll take the brat. He'll buy me a bit of time if it comes to that."
Looking at Gaheris, Balin raised a brow. "I'll leave it up to you on where you'd like our other guest. He's more of your concern than mine."
Turning back to Volen, the tall man moved his lips towards his ear, murmuring, "Make sure our men are on full alert. I don't know when we'll have more visitors, but we'll get them, be sure of that. My sister's husband would make sure of that."

Gaheris, hand now set and bandaged, bowed his head, a malicious grin set on his face. "And how many pieces do I need to leave him in?"
Volen, eyes narrowed at Gaheris, turned back to Balin when he started to whisper. "As soon as I'm dispatchedfrom your presence, I'll see to it personally. Should I
report to you when everything is as it should be?"

Smirking at the way Gaheris' mind was going, Balin chuckled. "As many as you want..."
At Volen's question, he nodded, eyes glinting. "Yes, you do that..."
When Volen left, he turned to Gaheris, a thoughtful look on his face, pondering on the possible ways that this little scheme could end, mostly unpleasant. Of course, he wasn't so stupid to not take his brother-in-law into account for seizing the boy. On the other hand, this was quite fun.. Pity that his father wasn't still alive. He fancied that Kegan would have approved of the expedition, though not the fact that he had chosen to be so blatant about his involvement.

Volen bowed his head, and stepped back, his eyes remaining on Gaheris for a while longer. He didn't trust the man, he seemed too 'buddy buddy' with Balin. A brown
nosier. Who cares if he had royal blood in him and could relate more to the bandit leader?

Gaheris didn't wait much longer after being released. He immediately went to where his brother was currently being held, pushing Rashid aside with his foot and not in a gentle manner.

He grabbed Norolan's shirt and tugged him to his feet, ignoring the pained gasp and wide eyed _expression. "Come on brother, I think we're going to go for a little walk.."

Waiting a moment or two until he was alone, Balin took his time walking towards where the prisoners were kept. when he reached the cave, he wasn't surprised to find that the boy was alone, and just stood there, studying him.
Unconscious, Rashid was blessedly unaware of the fact his uncle was cooking something else for him to go through. His body liberally covered with cuts, scrapes, bruises, that was nothing compared to what his mind would be going through for months, and possibly turns to come, should he get out of this.
Squatting, he picked the boy up, and slung him over his shoulder, uncaring that it was jarring Rashid's injuries. Hearing a faint moan, he growled, thunking him on the back, "Shut up!"
It took some time, but he was finally in a cave far enough back in the twisting, seemingly never-ending corridors to feel that it was a good place for the boy, and dumped him onto the ground, kicking him when he moaned again, feeling a few more ribs cracking. If he died, so much the better- in his opinion, children were mere nuisances, no more, no less.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist



Last edited by Greenrider Tresa; Apr 19 2006 at 08:44 PM.
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Old Apr 19 2006, 08:43 PM   #10
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Running a hand over her tunic, Libby smiled wryly at her reflection, glad that she at least looked a bit better than she had. Not as travel-stained, anyway...
Leaving her room, the young Lady walked towards her parents' apartment, picking up a tray of juice and food along the way, feeling that some food and drink would go a long way with their talk.
At the door, she knocked, and when it was opened by her mother, walked in, setting the tray on a table, sitting down on one of the chairs, holding a cup of juice between her hands, fingers interlaced.
Watching her daughter covertly, Tsi poured herself and Ly some juice, deciding to let Ly initiate the conversation.
Ly watched Libby, looking for some hint of her state of mind. She looked better than she had, but as if she could use some rest as well as a clean up. But he doubted she would be able to sleep for a long while: he knew he was unlikely to rest until Rashid and Norolan were both found and safe.
Sitting down beside his oldest, he took a long drink of juice, organizing his thoughts. "We're doing all we can to find Norolan and Rashid, Libby. I've got the guards out on watch, stopping anyone traveling to or from Skybroom and Akhenaten. T'sral is looking for anything suspicious from the sky so we know where to concentrate our efforts. But I don't want to force Balin's hand either."
He looked at Tsi, then decided he might as well tell Libby about Gaheris. "Did you have a messenger from Balin?" At Libby's nod, Ly said, "We did too...and the strange thing is that he looked disturbingly like Norolan. He may have allied with Balin in an effort to secure Akhenaten."
Ly didn't want to be so blunt, but there was no other way to say it. Libby had a right to know, to better prepare and protect Akhenaten, if necessary.

Listening, Libby felt the color drain from her face, eyes turning large and dark. At the thought of the messenger to Skybroom from Balin looking eerily like her husband, she dropped her cup, hands suddenly nerveless.
"Y-you're sure?" she asked, voice hardly more than a whisper.
Concerned, Tsi nodded, reaching over to grab one of her daughter's hands, covering it with hers, keeping a firm grip on it. "Yes. You know this man?" she asked gently.
"Well, if it's who I think it is..." Libby answered, biting her lip. "Shells, we're definitely screwed," she added, in a mutter, reaching up to rub her forehead. "It would have to be Gaheris... He's never forgiven the Conclave for choosing Norolan over him to Hold Akhenaten when Nessila stepped down. He's his half-brother, on Nessila’s side. Believe he's a little... off-center, as it were," she added, frowning. "But if you could draw a picture of him, just to be sure?" she suggested, to which her mother nodded and got up, walking towards the other table, which also served as a drawing table, and picked up a piece of hide and a pen, and returned.
Within moments, the drawing was finished, laying face-up on the table. Libby stared at it, face white. "Yes, that's him," she said, without prompting.

Lysandre moved closer to Libby and put his arm around her shoulders, letting her know he was there if she needed to lean against him. He felt as if he had somehow failed to protect his family, though that was silly.
He frowned, thinking. "I think you shouldn't stay here too long, Libby. Gaheris may decide to make a preemptive strike for Akhenaten in your absence, even with Nessila there. I'll send some guards back with you to help protect the Hold."

Ly's mind was working overtime. What was going on around here, with one Hold after another being attacked, directly or indirectly? "Its too late to travel now, especially not knowing where Balin and Gaheris are. Stay here tonight, and try to get some rest. I know it won't be easy, but you have to try. We all do." Ly looked at Tsi, catching her eyes.


Absently leaning against her father, Libby hunched her shoulders together, taking in deep, shuddering breaths, in an attempt to calm herself. She knew that it was foolish, but somehow, she felt as if she was weak or silly, for running to her parents at the first sign of a real crisis. At least, that was how it could look to her critics.

Blinking back tears, she nodded at her father's words, seeing the sense in them. "True enough, Dad. I'll have either Sassy or Bubba go to Akhenaten with the portrait to alert Nessila on Gaheris. And thanks," she added, trying to smile bravely, though her eyes were shadowed with fatigue, worry, and uncertainly. It was easy to forget that she was still barely twenty, and with all this going on...

Barely able to suppress a yawn, Libby managed to chuckle wanly at the thought of getting some rest. Faranth knows, it would be a long time before she actually could.

Returning Ly's look, Tsi drew her brows together, and turned her gaze towards Libby, frowning slightly. It was a gamble, but she had to know. Especially if things took a turn for the worse.

"How long has it been?" she asked quietly, not surprised when her daughter dropped her cup again, spilling juice all over herself.
"Mom! I... Shards.." Libby covered her face in her hands, tensing herself. "About six weeks, give or take," she answered, forcing herself to look up, tears dripping down her cheeks. "I just found out today. Was planning on telling Norolan, but with all this..." she stopped, dropping against her seat, a lost _expression on her face.

"All the more reason that it's imperative to keep you from harm," Tsi said gently, wiping the tears from Libby's face, a thumb gently tracing a line down her daughter's cheekbone.

"All right...why don't we send Bubba?" Ly suggested, reaching for some paper and scrawling a quick note. "No, don't thank me, you're still my daughter, Libby. Even if you do have a life and responsibilities of your own, you're still family."

His head came up and he looked at Libby in surprise, then back at Tsi. Trust her to notice first, though if he'd been paying attention, he might have as well. This shed a new light on things.

"That's right. Perhaps it's as well Norolan doesn't know, or he would worry more and may accidentally let something slip," Ly suggested. He hoped this whole mess was resolved quickly. He would leave it to Tsi to bring up the topic of the ransom.

"Bubba would be fine. Can't let Sassy get all the 'important' jobs on this matter," Libby remarked, feeling better with her father's words. She knew that at least she could always go to him and her mother if she was troubled- along with Nessila. "Point. Guess I just want to show that I'm not like Grandmother and end up losing my mind or something," she said.

"You're a lot stronger than your grandmother," Tsi said softly, smiling. "You get that from me and your dad, Libby. Don't you forget it. And as far as the baby's concerned, the best thing you can do is try to relax. Easy enough to say, I know, but you must. And there's still the question of ransom..."

Blinking in surprise at the mention of ransom, Libby inhaled sharply. "What ransom?" she asked quietly, before Tsigana filled her in.
"Of all the cheek..." the young woman muttered, shaking her head, frowning. "What will you do?" she asked, looking from one parent to the other.

"Can't just let him hold Rash and Norolan forever. We're still figuring out the best way to deal with this. And right now, I want you to get yourself into bed and sleep. No arguments," Tsi added, raising a hand to forestall anything Libby might say.

Sighing in mingled annoyance and bemusement, Libby shook her head, a rueful smile on her face. All right Mom. Suppose you know best... As always," she added, standing. Taking her leave, the young woman left, Tsi looking after her with a concerned look on her face before turning to Ly.

"We'd better fix this and soon. I'd like nothing more than to just kill Balin- but as he's my brother, I can hardly think that that would be excused," she remarked dryly, leaning against her husband. "And I'm scared that when we get Rash back, he won't be the same bright, mischievous, friendly boy he was. I don't want to lose that in him," she finished, feeling tears prickling from beneath her eyelids.
She knew that Bubba wouldn't fail to convey the message and drawing to lady Nessila.

"Your mother's right," Ly said, nodding. "Actually, you're more the way I think Mother would have been had she been stronger than like Tsia."
Ly took Tsi's hand and squeezed it after Libby had left. "I know, that complicates matters. However, I would be within my right to kill him in self-defense." The Lord Holder's eyes glinted with a spark of anger. He couldn't see how events could have gone differently, except maybe making sure Balin was far away after securing Lemos for Pyralis. But Ly normally wasn't one to dump his problems on some unsuspecting person.

"He's young, he might bounce back." Ly's words rang hollow in his ears. "I'm beginning to regret all of those times I scolded Rash about his pranks. I'd gladly put up with all of them if we had him back alive."

"Complicate matters, my foot. But you're right.. We can't just go around waging our own personal vendettas- that's why we have rules, but sometimes, I just want to break them, to take care of that one, stupid idiot..." Tsi remarked, sighing.

She nodded thoughtfully at her husband's next words, blue eyes meeting his. "Well, what could we do with Balin? If we just exile him, he's bound to pop up again like the annoying carbuncle he is. Would you use the right to protect your family as an excuse for killing him? I doubt anyone would argue with you there, long as it's you who does the deed. Doubt that the other Lords of the conclave would stomach a woman doing the deed- even to protect her own child," she said, a wry smile on her face.

Thinking of their son's relatively harmless pranks, the Lady's eyes blinked back sudden tears, and she nodded. "Yes.. So would I. And I think Kiyia's feeling it keenly now- she was always much harder on him than us. Probably because his pranks involved her storerooms so often," she remarked, curling against Ly's side, her face resting on his shoulder, a hand over his.

"Yes, but as I said, I wouldn't stop you if you decided to break them," Ly said. "Sure, I could probably justify my actions. They might take that better than you doing it, especially after Southern Boll and Keroon these last few turns. Course in those cases, the bad family members succeeded in taking out the good ones." He sighed. "I'm just worried that acting on our own and doing what we want will damage my standing with the other Lords. You know I'm probably the most influential in the area, and not everyone likes that. Might make them think I'm the one after power."

"Probably. We'll have to give Rashid extra attention," Ly said, realizing as he did that he was acting as if rescuing their son was a foregone conclusion.

"Hmm... It's very tempting to just take matters into our own hands, but like you said, it likely would just bite us in the rear at the wrong time or something."

Snorting, Tsi shook her head, understanding where her husband was coming from. "And why would they think you're after power? Because you're connected to several Holds, and prosperous ones at that? So are the rest of the Lords on the Conclave. And the fact that you're not an idiot, and have a good relationship with the Weyr and Halls helps in your status, as well. But there'll always be that one person who'll go around saying that you're too ambitious and so on, and that would be based on envy. At least."

Head tilted to the side, Tsi nodded. "Yes, we will, if he'll let us. And I'd rather think of rescuing Rash as a foregone conclusion- don't want to think on the negatives too much, especially as it involves Balin," she remarked, unaware that her thoughts were echoing Ly's.


Lysandre nodded, stretching. "Yes, and I may have been entirely too persuasive in my handling of Lemos and Emain Macha, ensuring things go my way," he said wryly. "Course, I could also make sure some of the other lords are on my side by encouraging alliances through marriage. Not that I'd push the children into anything they'd object to." He winked.

"Mmm... Well, in Emain Macha's case, the end justifies the means. Certainly, Conlar's running it far better than Maeldum. And as for Lemos, well, if Balin had gotten it after Father's death, who would the Hold pass to after his death? And considering the lack of children... the Hold would have to pass through either me or Kiyia to one of our sons in any case," Tsi pointed, shaking her head.

Thinking on the pros of having more alliances with the Lords through marriage, she grinned, chuckling. "Well, we certainly have the numbers for it..." she remarked, referring to their large brood. "However, you did say that the only person you'd push towards an alliance and not necessarily for love is Denny. He's old enough to be contracted into a marriage- but now's not the time," she added, shaking her head at the direction her thoughts were going.

"All valid points, which wouldn't stop those who would rather overlook the facts," Ly pointed out, shaking his head. "And I think in the case of Lemos, it was best that we acted sooner rather than later since the situation would have occurred anyway. Too bad Balin can't see that."

Ly was quite glad to talk about marriages for the time being, though Tsi was right. "Yes, but I'd still prefer Denny find someone he likes. Should start taking him around to Gathers in other areas to make sure he meets more women. After this is all over, of course."


Dismissing the thought of the Conclave, Tsi was glad that she wouldn't really have to deal with them, though Ly certainly would. Just as well there wasn't a Conclave of Ladies, else she was sure she'd end up screaming and with her hands clutching a clump of hair, as well.

Nodding at Ly's remarks on their son, she smiled, thinking of Denny, at Lemos. "Well, if he has as good taste as his father...." she teased, winking, before continuing, "we shouldn't have to worry. But then, in our case, it wasn't really a question of choice, unless you put Kiyia into the equation." A slight smile on her face, she thought about their wedding day before bringing her mind back to the current day.

"Kiyia certainly made sure she had a choice," Ly said, chuckling shortly at the memory. He didn't think Kiyia had realized at the time just how good a choice she'd made. Maybe her judgement had been better than Kegan's, though Kiyia had been being selfish at the time.

Lips twitching wryly at her husband's remark, Tsi chuckled, nodding, wondering if Kiyia would still have done the same thing had she been given the chance to do it again. Possibly, but one never knew with her.

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Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

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Egyptian King and Monotheist



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Old Apr 20 2006, 02:34 PM   #11
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Nessila was doing her best to hold things together while Libby was gone. News had spread fast of the mysterious stranger who had gone and left just as quickly, and some appeared to know of Norolan and Rash's capture. She neither denied nor confirmed the rumor.

On her way back to the offices to clean up, Bubba arrived. She greeted the firelizard with a gentle rub, then noticed the rather large messages he carried. Glancing over her shoulder, the former Lady bustled into the nearest room to look at the messages.

She read the note first, then with shaky fingers, looked at the picture. It slipped from her fingers to the floor, and she covered her mouth to keep her scream from alerting anyone.

"Gaheris..." She closed her eyes and fell to the floor, fingers digging into the wood of the table above her. She knew her eldest son was not the sanest man alive, but she never thought he would stoop this low. It made her hurt -- she was mad at him, but she couldn't
find herself hating the vicious things he was doing.

Bowing her head, she forced herself to her feet, scooped up the picture and message, and Bubba, and carefully left the room for the nearest office. Once inside, she set the things down, scribbled a note for the steward, and tacked it on the outside of the door. Then,
she proceeded to lock herself inside, not wanting to be disturbed for quite some time.

She sat down at the desk, and reached for a fresh sheet of hide and a pen. She proceeded to scribble out a message, her hand shaking the entire time:

"My Lord and Lady,

Thank you both for informing me of the current situation. I do hope that Libby is okay, and am pleased she made it to Skybroom safely. I was worried when she decided to leave, but had faith she would arrive without any problems. There isn't much I can say about Gaheris, other than sorry. Maybe it is my fault that he turned out this way, but I do not believe we can be certain. If you do seize him once more, please let me know as I wish to speak with him personally. I am not happy with what he has done, but he is still my son. I will demand a response from him, though I suspect I know his reasons for his current
actions.
Nonetheless, I think the top priority is retrieving Norolan and Rashid as quickly as possible. Please let me know if there is anything I can do my end. Akhenaten has
resources at your disposal.

Sincerely,
Lady Nessila"

When she was finally finished, she rolled it up, sealed it off, and tied it to Bubba. She gave the flit a piece of sweet meat, and sent him back to his human.

Once he was gone, she looked again at the picture of Gaheris. She touched it with one finger, then another, and soon after, crumbled it in her fist.

When she became Lady of the Hold, after her parents decided to retire, he knew full well he may not become the Holder when she stepped down. For one, Akhenaten was
known for not following tradition, and passed the Hold on to the most capable elder child. In her case, Nessila was not only eldest, but more than capable. The only stipulation was that she was to be married by the time she took over, and thankfully, she had met Norolan's father by that time.

She could recall treating all of her children the same, with M'spin being brought in turns after Norolan's birth, and Gaheris being.. quiet. He was always so quiet. He never liked the big gathers, and didn't appreciate being picked on by either Norolan or M'spin. Had she ever stepped in to stop any of that? Maybe she had brushed it off, as if saying 'boys will be boys'. Could that have been the problem?

She set the crumpled bit of hide down, and placed her hands on the side of her face, fingers rubbing hard at her temples. This was all too much for her. First Norolan and young Rashid were captured, and then it turns out that Gaheris is somehow involved.

She stood, and walked around the desk, arms held tight behind her back. She couldn't leave the Hold, not when she was well aware of Gaheris's intentions. But she had
to do something. She had to protect Akhenaten at all costs.

Stepping from the desk, and after closing the baskets inside, she left the office, locked the door, and hurried to speak to the head guardsman. She wanted more guards posted at all corners of the Hold. She didn't want anyone leaving the Hold, or entering without his express consent and if anything suspicious went about, she informed him that she was to be told immediately.

With him off to start his task, she went to speak to the watchrider, insisting that he run sweeps as often as he and his dragon were able. "Watch for anything, lone riders, suspicious activity, anything. If you two see something, let me know right away."

The man nodded, and went to set up for a go. He hadn't been out yet, and Nessila wondered if he had, would have caught something before it started?

No time for thinking of what-ifs, she told herself. She had to get to work. Now was not the time to leave her family's Hold open to attack.
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Old Apr 20 2006, 02:36 PM   #12
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Gaheris pulled Norolan deeper into the caves, ignoring his brother's weak attempts to break free of the tight hold he had on him.

And when he finally stopped, he let Norolan drop to the ground like a stone. The cave they were in was dimly lit with some glows growing on the wall, which was just enough for Gaheris to see where Norolan was trying to crawl off to.

"Don't think so, brother!" Gaheris kicked Norolan into the side, right where his half-healed knife wounds rested. Norolan moaned and rolled over, coughing, and Gaheris half-suspected his brother had almost vomited. All the better -- chances are he would have choked and Gaheris would have let him.

But he also wanted to hear his brother cry out as he did want he wanted to. So he reached for the cloth around his mouth, and pulled it down around his neck. Norolan immediately spat at Gaheris, and the man slapped him across the cheek.

"That's the only chance you have, brother."

"You won't get away with this Gaheris. Let me go, and I'll beat th.."

"You'll do what?" Gaheris lifted a brow and made a fist. Immediately, he punched Norolan in his now bleeding side, and let his fist push into the broken flesh, twisting it until Norolan cried out in pain.

"Son of a bitch.." Norolan wheezed in between choked sobs. "You won't get away with this."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard that story before." Gaheris sneered. He pinned Norolan down onto his stomach, and dug his knee into the man's lower back.

Norolan bit on his lip and tried to keep from crying out again. He felt tears in his eyes, but wasn't able to keep those from sliding down his face.

"Crying are we? Aww, how precious." Gaheris wasn't letting up, and put even more wait into his leg. "You always were Mother's favorite. Even that son of a bitch M'spin got more respect than I did, and he wasn't even her child!" The more he spoke, the angrier he got.

Norolan tried to use himself to propel Gaheris off of him, but he was too strong and Norolan received nothing but a sharp blow to his head. He blacked out soon after, and went limp.

Gaheris didn't seem to notice. He soon started to beat on his brother, breaking ribs, bruising and breaking skin in the process. It wasn't long before his anger and frustration were spent.

But Gaheris was far from finished. He stood up and left for a moment in search of something. During that time, Norolan started to come too again. He moaned, and rolled onto his back. Breathing hurt almost as much as moving did. He groaned and let his head fall to the side. Closing his eyes, Norolan tried to bring up Libby's image, hoping it would become a reality. And what of Rashid? He tried to sit himself up, he had to make sure
Rashid was okay.

But it was useless. When he finally managed to sit himself up, he pulled open his wounds again, and Gaheris returned holding a container of something.

Norolan tried to get away, but it was useless. His futile attempt lead only to harsher treatment from his brother.

Gaheris brought Norolan back to the floor of the cave with a hard kick, hearing something else crack. Norolan cried out again, and Gaheris couldn't believe such a sissy was Holder of Akhenaten. He was much stronger than the younger, why hadn't he been given the Hold?

His face growing dark once more, he kneeled down and reached into the pot at his side. "This'll hurt you way more than it'll hurt me. In fact, your the only one who's going to feel a thing.." He brought the handful of salt to Norolan's side, and rubbed it in as hard as he could, smiling when his brother started to cry and finally whimper.

When he was finished, Norolan had been thoroughly rubbed in salt, and he was burning in pain.

"All gone. Shame, that was fun brother." He patted Norolan's shoulder, and he pulled away, shaking as the fire raced over his body.

Gaheris stood and left, leaving Norolan in a whimpering heap.

Weak.
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Old Apr 24 2006, 07:17 PM   #13
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(From here on out, several things are happening simultaneously. I've tried to untangle them, so I apologize if there's any confusion. Also, several paragraphs have been moved up from this section to post 10, where they should make more sense.)

Bubba returned with Nessila’s message and landed on Ly's lap. Ly took the message and opened it, holding it where Tsi could see as well. "Gaheris is her son...not sure if I'm surprised or not."
Scanning the note, she snorted, shaking her head. "Somehow, I'm not. Makes sense, considering Balin. Seems all the annoying folks clump together. So what do you think? We'll have to send Libby back to Akhenaten. And we'll have to find a way to get the boys out. Any ideas?" she asked, wishing that all this was over and done with.

Sassy, sensing her person's mood, chirruped and rubbed her head against Tsi's hand, getting an idle caress.
Ly nodded. "Point. And I think the sooner we act, the better. If we can find out where Balin and Gaheris are hiding, and surround them before they have a chance to get away...our guards are going to be stretched thin." Ly frowned, thinking. "I still don't want to risk you paying that ridiculous ransom. But if it'll keep him distracted while the guards go in..."

Pressing her lips together, the Lady drew her brows into a slight frown, blue eyes thoughtful. "Yes, definitely... But if you're worried about our guards being stretched too thin, why not call to Akhenaten for some of their guards? Would give us more strength in numbers," she suggested.

Reaching for her husband's hand, she turned it over, thinking on what to say to that, studying his palm, before she looked up. "I know it's a risk for me to be the one paying that ransom, but he did ask, and I know he has no qualms about hurting or killing Rash outright if I'm not there. Then again, if he decides to have me killed as a price, I'll risk that, too. Our son's more important than my life, though I know you won't agree with me there. I was thinking over the lines of his note, and I have a feeling that what Balin really wants is me in exchange for Rash. If killing me is enough to get Rash back, then I won't have any regrets- save that our time together was too short," she ended, blinking back sudden tears.

Momentarily speechless, he expressed his feelings by enfolding Tsi in a hug, holding her tightly. "Losing you would also mean losing the baby," he said. "No, there has to be another way. We surprise Balin or something. Send Kiyia. Or go to the meeting and keep him busy long enough for the guards to attack." Ly didn't like any of his options, but he wanted to avoid losing a member of his family by any means possible.

Snuggling against her husband, Tsi turned her face, burying it against his chest. "I know... But I'm trying to think of how this could be resolved. Unless I just go in with a hidden weapon and then kill Balin. If I do that, I'll likely wind up dead courtesy of his men."
He held Tsi close, his mouth in a thin, hard line as he considered their options. Under other circumstances, he would have been amused by her phrasing of the last statement, as if Balin's men were an infection. Well, Balin was a disease that needed to be excised anyway... "True. Think you'd better take both flits with you. Could send in some guards while you're talking to Balin, so that'd keep his men busy. Hopefully, you'll be able to defend yourself long enough for help to come if necessary."

"Both flits? All right, won't argue with you there. They'd come in handy that way, though I hope Sassy doesn't decide to just pelt grapes on people," she remarked, referring to the green's habit of dropping grapes and other bits of fruits on unsuspecting peoples' heads. She nodded at the idea of some of the guards going in while she distracted Balin. That could work, unless Balin had something up his sleeve, and knowing her despicable brother, he would.

He snorted. "Point. But Sassy'd have to get the grapes first. And I seriously doubt they're going to be laying around."

"Mmm... Unless she kept betweening to the kitchen to renew her arsenal of grapes, but I don't think she'll do that- not enough time. And besides, grapes would only go so far," Tsi said, shaking her head.
"She could always use rocks instead of grapes," Ly suggested in an effort at humor. "I can see it now, an army of flits dropping small sacks of rocks on people...Only it'd probably get out of hand with rocks hitting the wrong people."

Well-able to image an army of flits creating chaos by dropping small rocks on people, Tsi chuckled, shaking her head. "That'll be the day..." she remarked
Drawing her brows together, the Lady nodded, a tear leaking from one of her eyes, seeking comfort from Ly.
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Old Apr 25 2006, 06:07 PM   #14
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Kiyia, tired of being cooped up in her office with nothing but the day's events running through her mind, had finally had enough. Stalking out, she slammed the door behind her, scattering the records to the floor.

Taking a deep breath, she turned and went straight to Villi's office, knowing that her husband wouldn't mind her presence. Well, at least, he'd better not, with her mood being dangerously close to murderous rage over her idiot brother. If Balin was anywhere nearby, she'd simply claw his eyes out, go for the genitals next, and then the jugular. All in that order, too. But she was a Headwoman, so she had to be civilized. Well, in that case, she'd just think of ways to mentally kill the man.

Poking her head in, she was somewhat disappointed to find that he already had someone with him. Closing the door behind her, the Headwoman stood off to the side, watching the two men, and listening to them.

Villiam and Rodin were going over a quick sketch of the cave system the guard had seen, overlaid with a map of the area. They were working out a preliminary attack strategy, with Rodin giving Villiam his opinion on possible ways they could proceed. The Steward would in turn take the information to Ly, letting him decide.

Looking up when Kiyia entered, Villiam took in his wife's mood at a glance. He grinned fiercely. "We've found him, so it won't be much longer. Just hold onto that rage."
"We do? Good! Just let me near that sneaking two-faced bastard and I'll show him agony!" she snarled, a malicious grin on her face. Green eyes glittering with that train of thought, she was barely able to contain her impatience while Villi and Rodin finished their planning.
Villi wasn't surprised by Kiyia's reaction, and agreed with her. He was glad their own children were safe in the Hold, plus Caolan should be able to hold his own at Lemos, with Denny's help.
He finished with the guard in a few minutes, and as the man left,
Villi left his desk, slipping behind Kiyia. He began to knead her shoulders. "Want to come up to Ly's apartment with me? Then I'm all yours." He depended his voice deliberately, speaking softly close to her ear.
About ready to break something, she nearly jumped when she was approached from behind, a slight, muffled curse escaping her lips. "Mmm..." she murmured, rotating her shoulders, before nestling her rear against his front, knowing just what kind of effect that would have on her husband. But then, they both needed distraction from all this.
"Sure. Can't concentrate on the records anymore anyway, so might as well..." she said, lips twitching. "And you'd better be all mine after, or I'd have to resort to drastic measures," she purred back, unable to resist a nip at his ear.

He hadn't expected to catch Kiyia by surprise, so she must have been concentrating hard on something or let her attention wonder, as he'd approached from the side.
The Steward's reaction to Kiyia's movement was immediate, and he almost considered putting off talking to Ly. But no, that was more important, and they'd have plenty of time to satisfy themselves later. "Don't blame you. Have a feeling we'll both be up most of the night." He grinned. "I said I would, didn't I? Come on, sooner we get going, sooner the night will begin." Villi grabbed the map, then came back and put his arm around Kiyia's waist, nuzzling her neck.

Snorting at his comment, Kiyia smiled wryly, nodding. "True... And I know, you said you would. At least you're definitely a man of your word," she teased lightly, green eyes sparkling. Inhaling sharply at the nuzzling on her neck, the Headwoman closed her eyes, a slight smile on her face as they approached Ly and Tsi's apartment. "Hope this is a short meeting..." she added.
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Old Apr 25 2006, 06:13 PM   #15
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Tsigana continued to lean silently against Ly until a knock sounded at the door. Startled, she looked up, exchanging looks with Ly, and called for their guest to enter.

She wasn't surprised to find Kiyia and Villiam walking in, and immediately wiped her eyes.

"What's up?" she asked, looking from one to the other
Ly wiped the tear off Tsi's face with his palm, his head also coming up at the knock.

Villi proffered the map to his older brother. "Rodin, the guard I set to tail Gaheris, reported back. We've a fairly good idea of where Balin and his lackeys are, assuming they haven't moved," he said tersely. "There’s enough here to plan a rescue."

Ly took the map, spreading it across his and Tsi's laps. "Thanks, Villi. Feel like we're finally getting somewhere."

She looked down at the map, listening as Villi spoke. A finger tracing the lines of the caves, she drew her brows together, a question forming in her mind.
"Is there any way of knowing for sure just where Balin and his... men are? If this is indeed a cave with complicated network of interconnecting caves and corridors, then they could be anywhere, and we'd likely be playing a game of hide-and-seek," she said, blue eyes dark with mingled apprehension and anger at all of this.

Kiyia, stifling a mutter, narrowed her eyes at her sister, wondering why she tended to question things through. But then, she wasn't known for being impulsive- often, unlike Kiyia. Good thing, too.

Villi should his head. "No. Rodin marked the one Gaheris entered through, but that might not mean anything."

Ly made a sound of disgust, glad Tsi had brought up that problem. "If only we could ask the Weyr for assistance...I think we'll have to find a way to flush the men out. Use flits and dogs to search and attack. If we put at least two men in every entry and send the rest deeper inside, that should cover most areas. Both Sassy and Bubba know how to go to Rashid and Norolan." Provided they were alive...

"But we'll have to deal with Balin first." A slight frown on her face, Tsi glanced at Villi, nodding. "True. Know that had it been me, I'd place guards in every entrance-way. And possibly move anything of importance to a different location- possibly in the same network if the cave actually has one. But knowing Balin, he'd pick someplace which could be used to his advantage, and caves with a large and long network would certainly give him that."

Kiyia, furrowing her brows, frowned slightly. "Would that work? Balin wouldn't necessarily think like a raider- he's too much the holder, but..."

Picking up on her sister's gist, Tsi pulled a face, rubbing her forehead. "Point. And if we have a mad hold-less man working with raiders, who knows just what kind of difficulties we'll run into."

Not to mention what he'd have done to Rash and Norolan....

Ly nodded. "You always were the one to think of everything," he said approvingly. "In any case, we shouldn't leave anything to chance: Balin could surprise us."

Villiam shook his head. "Be nice if the raiders turned on him and did the work for us," he said darkly. "Do you want to send the guards out now, or wait til morning?"

Ly considered. There were risks either way. "Now. They can make most of the distance under the cover of night, and find hiding places near the caves. That way, they'll be there when Tsi arrives." He gave Villi and Kiyia a shrewd look, adding, "But I'll tell them myself."

Villi grinned gratefully, and taking Kiyia's hand, urged her out, leaving the map.
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Egyptian King and Monotheist


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Old Apr 26 2006, 05:31 PM   #16
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(Did my best to make this portion a bit less confusing...)

Letting the men finish up the meeting, Tsigana leaned back against the couch, thinking, trying to decide the best way to go about this. At the comment on the raiders turning on Balin, she cocked her head, wondering if she could find a way to have that happen- of course, chances are, they'd likely turn on her, too. No, scratch that idea.
She picked up the map, studying it while Ly went to give the guards their orders. At least reading the map was better then worrying herself sick, though not by much. There were too many uncertainties running through her mind, most of which she didn't know how to even begin to express. Hopefully, they will be put to rest one way or another tomorrow.
Folding up the map, she placed it on the table, and changed into her nightgown, picking up a brush, and sat at her vanity table, staring at her reflection, deep in thought. It wasn't until Ly took the brush from her and began brushing her hair that she was even aware that he'd returned to their apartment.
"So everything's in motion then," she said quietly, taking a deep breath, hands clenching the sides of her chair.

Lysandre was longer than he might have liked with the Guards, but he knew that thoroughness was more important than haste. They had to be properly prepared, all plans, alternatives, and emergency measures covered first. All the guards going out in the first wave were freshly rested. The remainder would coordinate with Lemos and Akhenaten to make sure all three Holds were protected while sending as many as they could for the assault on the caves.
Ly had played with the thought of having the sharding things sealed off, but people might need them for shelter, not to mention animals.
He could do with a long, relaxing soak in preparation for the morning's action. Tsi would have an escort as far as feasible, then hidden watchers the rest of the way: he wasn't about to risk his wife any more than absolutely necessary.
Returning to their apartment, he watched her silently a minute or two before taking the brush. "Yes..." he said, the word coming out as a long sigh that turned the ‘s’ into a hiss. "I want you to go armed, and we're leaving together once dawn breaks. You sure you won't switch with Kiyia?" The last was as much plea as question.
Looking at her husband in the mirror as he brushed her hair, Tsi was quiet for a long moment, weighing the choices presented her before shaking her head, regret on her face. "As much as I'd love to send Kiyia in my place, I can't. I don't want to take the chance that Balin would know that it's not me. And besides, if he has Rash and Norolan with him, they might accidentally reveal that Kiyia's not me, if Balin forgot about the small difference in appearance between myself and Kiyia," she pointed out, sighing. She was afraid of everything going wrong tomorrow, but she wasn't about to let that stop her from going out to the caves.
Lysandre had expected Tsi's response to his suggestion, and accepted it. "Maybe if you brush your hair forward over your forehead, and the light's dim...." But he was already shaking his head, dismissing his own idea aborning. "No, you'll need good light to fight."
Raising her brows, Tsi shook her head. She had been about to negate that suggestion when Ly did it, saving her from putting in her reason for doing so. She would have a hard time seeing should someone try to attack her, and with her bangs being rather long... she didn't want to think of the possibility.
"Where will you be when I'm with Balin? The guards?" she asked, turning to look Ly in the eyes, holding his gaze. She wasn't sure if she had heard him right- she didn't think that he would actually go with her, considering that if Balin knew, he could try to go after both of them. And if he succeeded... Good thing Denny was at Lemos....
"Yes, since I can't be at your side, I can at least attack with the guards," he confirmed. "Joint leading with the Captain, as he knows his men better than I as well as what he's doing." Ly was secure enough in his own abilities to know and admit where his knowledge was limited and someone else was better suited to a task.
"All right. Glad that you'll be watching my back- as best you can," she said, grabbing his hand, raising it to her cheek.
"If I can't be beside you, where else would I be but behind you?" Ly asked reasonably, not really expecting an answer. He gently ran his hands through Tsi's hair, fluffing it out around her face before gathering it together again and continuing to brush.
Lips quirking at Ly's rhetorical question, Tsi nodded, closing her eyes when her hair was fluffed and gathered together before her husband ran the brush through her thick hair again.
"I'm not foolish enough to go unarmed, though I've a feeling that Balin will want me to disarm myself to prove that I don't have a way to attack him if something's amiss," she added, taking a deep breath
Ly grimaced. "I'm sure you're right. You'll have the flits. What about something else that might not seem like much of a weapon? Or small enough to conceal...He's not going to make you undress, is he?"
Cocking her head at his suggestion on carrying something that might not appear to be a weapon. "Like what? A staff would still be seen as a weapon. Actually, just about anything could be used as a weapon, given enough creativity," she pointed out before wrinkling her nose at the thought of Balin making her strip to make sure she didn't have weapons concealed on her person. "Ugh. He better not. And if he does that in front of his men, I'd hate to think of their reaction..." Not to mention how Ly would react, should he get wind of it.
Running a hand through her hair, she looked at Ly, sighing.
He shook his head. "True, you could even use high heeled shoes for weapons had you the need and inclination to take them off." Ly winced, well able to imagine the scene. "Forget I said anything..."
"High-heeled shoes? I suppose, but I don't wear high-heels. I'm tall enough, and besides, they're rather uncomfortable...." Especially if one had to ride long distances or something. And in Tsigana's experience, she never wore a pair without breaking one of the damned heels off.
"I know. Just the first example that popped into my head," Ly replied. He held Tsi before they went to the bed, as if to remember the feel of her body in his arms.
He finished with Tsi's hair and kissed the crown of her head, setting the brush down. "Come to bed. We'll need as much sleep as we can get."
Absently running a hand through her hair, she nodded at his suggestion, standing. "True.." she agreed, slipping an arm around Ly's waist. "You can be my pillow," she murmured, climbing into the bed, moving the cats out of the way.
When Ly joined her on the bed, she curled against his side, an arm draped over him, utterly exhausted, and yet, unable to really sleep.
"Gladly...." He got into bed and closed his eyes, but it was a long time before he actually fell asleep, to strange, disturbing dreams. A few times he actually woke up to find his mind worrying over the problem of what to do the next day.


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Old May 26 2006, 06:53 PM   #17
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P07/03.04.25

Ignoring the slight chill in the dawn air, Tsi glanced at Ly, wondering if he felt as tired as she looked. She knew that he was hiding it well, if the fact that his face was a blank mask to all save those who knew him well was any indication. Pity she didn't have that ability, then again, Tsi never really needed one- except in extreme circumstances.

She thought about Libby, knowing that her oldest didn't like being packed off to Akhenaten- it'd taken both her and Ly to convince the young woman that she was better off at her home than tagging along with her parents on a potentially dangerous situation.

Sighing, Tsi shifted her gaze to the caves- trying to pick out the most likely one for an enterance. As expected, Balin could be seen with one of his men by one of the caves. "Now what?" she muttered, reining her mount in, the runner dancing on his legs with some nervousness, picked up from the slight tensions in the air.

Lysandre narrowed his eyes, studying the caves. He glanced to the sky, wishing he knew what the weather would be. And also that there could have been a way to involve the Weyr.

He brought his runner up beside Tsi's, calming the beast with a hand, and reached over to grasp Tsi's hand. "Now...you go on ahead," he said quietly. "I'll bring the guards up. Take care of yourself.

He wanted to give Tsi an extra weapon, but there was always the chance Balin would find it. And if not, the weapon could end up harming the wrong person.

Taking a deep breath, Tsi nodded at her husband, steeling herself for the next stage of this ridiculous charade with Balin. "All right. I'll try to keep out of trouble. Pity Balin's not afraid of snakes," she added dryly, referring to a childhood hobby which Rashid had apparently inherited from her.

Turning her runner in the caves' direction, the Lady gently nudged him, the gelding slowing to a stop when a tall, green-eyed man came out, holding out a hand.

"Stop here, lady," he said, voice bland. "You'll get off your runner here and I'll bring you up to the cave," he added.

When Tsi dismounted, the man took her upper arm in a tight grip, ushering her into the cave, whereupon several raiders stepped onto the enterance, bows nocked.

Stopping in front of Balin, the man bowed to him, leaving Tsi alone with her... 'brother'.

"Get rid of those damned pests," Balin said, sneering.

"No. And besides, you won't get your marks if I send them away," she added, lifting her chin.

Snorting, Balin lashed out with a loose fist, bruising his sister's cheek. "That's for your cheek, sister, dear," he said mockingly. "It's obvious that your brat certainly has your lack of manners."

Eyes flashing at the punch, Tsi ignored the stinging on her skin, angered by her brother's action. "At least he's not a sadistic ******* like you," she retorted cooly, Sassy and Bubba's eyes whirling in reddish shades, as angry as the Lady. Barely keeping the two flits in check, Tsi gave him a cold look, looking every inch Kegan's daughter with that _expression.

Looking at Tsigana, Balin sneered, shaking his head. "Well, he'll just be a mewling little baby now, after what I've done to him..." he taunted, eyes glittering with manical malice.

A chill running down her back, Tsi inhaled slowly, suppressing images of her son beaten, maimed, and Faranth knows what else. "Take me to him then," she said quietly.

"Remove your weapons, then. Can't trust you to keep from killing me."

Face hardening, Tsi unsheathed her knife, tossing it to the ground.

"That's it? Oh come now, I can hardly believe that your idiot husband would let his prize ewe come out here as paltrily armed as that! Come, prove that you've nothing else hidden in there, unless you'd like one of my men to do that for you. If I recall, it's been a while since they've had the opportunity..." he drawled, enjoying the scathing glare from Tsigana.

"What, you want me to strip? No thank you!" she snapped, clenching a hand into a tight fist.

Curling his upper lip, Balin looked at Volen, inclining his head. "Feel like having some fun? See if you can find anything else on her. If she resists, make her pay- do whatever is necessary," he added. "And by the way, if you want your son alive, sister, you better keep those winged nusciances out of the way," he added, glancing at a small huddled form, with a man carelessly drawing a line along the figure's back with a tip of his knife. It drew a line of blood in its wake.

Inhaling sharply, Tsi hissed, baring her canines. "You're a damned fool, Balin! You'll end up dead- that's the only thing that'll come out of this," she added, before Balin lunged at her, drawing a hidden knife from his leg, point at Tsi's face, right next to her eye. "Any sudden movement- either on mine or those firelizards, or yours, will result in the loss of an eye. Unless you think you'll look better with one eye.. Personally, I think you'll look better dead, but that's my humble opinion."

Sassy, shrieking, lashed her tail, unable to do anything but glare at Balin and Volen, the little green spitting with rage and indignation.

Sensing her person's thoughts, Sassy hissed softly, and betweened, following Bubba to his person, the green hissing at a hold guard before settling to Ly's shoulder. She knew not to make herself into a pest when with Ly- especially in circumstances like this.

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Egyptian King and Monotheist


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Old May 29 2006, 07:18 PM   #18
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(Sticking this in here, rather than bothering Cheryl again. This story is taken from a round-robin done for Falling Skies Weyr 7th Pass, so I apologize in advance for any repititions. Characters have been used with permission. Changes have been made where possible for easier reading, also with permission.)

Lysandre hated waiting, but he didn't dare move the instant Tsi was in, instead having the guards edge closer, spreading out to cover all visible or possible egresses from the cave system.

Only when an angry Sassy appeared on his shoulder did Ly give the signal. He was glad the green was behaving herself.

Coming closer, one of the guards said, "There's a cave-in over there. Might be an easier place to enter."

Ly shook his head. "No. That could be a trick, which I woudn't put past Balin," he spat out the name as if it left a bad taste in his mouth. "We go in from the exact opposite location. That's probably closer to whereever he's holed up like the tunnelsnake he is."

The guard nodded, and passed the order down the line via a series of hand gestures. Several of them charged into the caves, using the element of surprise to take down the first men they found with daggers and swords.

One Hold alone might not have been enough, but the combined might of guards from Lemos, Skybroom, and Akhenaten made quite a dent.

These guards were very well trained, wearing leather armor instead of regular clothes. Several runners were also brought in, providing mobility and height to their riders.

Ly charged ahead once the main chamber was cleared, sword aloft and seeing red with rage. A few of the larger guards followed him, charged with protecting their Lord. "Which way, Sassy?"

Lysandre was surprised when Bubba reappeared, but let the brown stay, moving as quickly as he could. He cured when he saw the cave-in. "No time to get past this. Look for another way in," he ordered the two guards with him.

Unknown to anyone, an underground spring had swelled past its usuall flood point due to an early and heavy spring runoff from the mountains. It broke through a weak wall into a broader passage halfway between the caves in which Balin and Gaheris had hidden. A pool near Norolan also filled with rushing water as it found a new channel to run in.

Elsewhere, the water combined with shifting air currents to release trapped carbon dioxide in an explosion. This opened up a passage that led into Balin's cave at right angles to the one blocked by the cave-in. Some of the gas moved down it: the rest escaped through a hole in the ceiling, causing one or two guards above to cough.

Lysandre heard the explosion. "What was that?"
"Some of these caves extend back into an old mine system," one of the guards offered. "Could be something realeased bad air. My uncle's a miner," he explained.

Lysandre nodded. "It's in the direction we're headed. Be careful."
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Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

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Egyptian King and Monotheist



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Old May 29 2006, 07:19 PM   #19
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Norolan, meanwhile, was still unconscious when it all started. When the water began to pool underneath him, however, it roused him just enough to realize..

Dear Faranth! He hissed as the water slid along his side. He could feel the salt, each and every grain, leave his body, and it hurt. But he knew what the water could do for the rest of him.

Carefully, he started to roll in the stream, even as things started to become deeper. It helped, and it was cold enough to stem any blood that started to ooze from his movements.

He pulled himself up and pressed his bruised back to a wall. It hurt, but.. he heard footsteps, somewhere, and despite his groggy state, he knew he had to get out of here, even if it was Balin's men. "Get.. me.. help! Someone.." He didn't think his voice would be loud enough, and even as he struggled to breathe, he could feel his mind black out again.

As it happened, Rodin and a guard from Akhenaten, working as a team, heard Norolan's cries and dashed into the cave just as the Holder blacked out. The second guard cursed softly, and the two carefully began trying to clean off Norolan, while remaining alert, swords close to hand.

Norolan felt hands on him, trying to clean the dirt and remaining salts from his wounds. He tried brushing them away at first, simply because it hurt. But the touches were not harsh, only gentle, and it relaxed him. A swollen eye cracked open slightly, and he recognized one of his guards.

Smiling in a tired manner, he bowed his head, only to have pain race through him from that simple movement. "I'll see you promoted for this." He said in a very low, horase voice, intending it for the one, but it came out directed to both.

From the pain, and the relief of being found, tears started to well up in the Holder's eyes. He was not ashamed to let them fall.
The two guards looked at each other, and Frashar bowed his head, a faint smile crossing his face before the grim look settled in again. "Thank you, Holder. You should rest. We'll get you out of here," he said quietly.

Norolan grimaced the entire time. While they carried him, he tried his best to help, but nothing seemed to want to work right. They seemed quite willing to support most of his weight, so Norolan let them, and closed his eyes, thoughts of his wife drifting to his mind. It made him smile, and seemed to ease the pain some. Perhaps she was thinking of him. He'd have to tell her how she saved him more than once during this ordeal, when he was back at home and safe in her arms.

We're almost out," Frashar said quietly, seeing light up ahead. They had come through this way on their way down, and saw only a few bodies now, everyone else having gone on or returned to the large main cavern. "Lady Libera is safe and waiting for you back at the Hold," he added, not sure if Norolan heard him but hoping to offer reassurance.

He and Rodin laid Norolan down near the fire when they arrived.

Satisfied that he was asleep, the pair of guards helped their fellows with the prisoners, waiting until everyone returned so details of transportation and who was going where could be worked out.
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Old May 30 2006, 05:07 PM   #20
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Balin, snarling when the guard returned, snorted. "Fine, if we've company headed this way, might as well give them a bit of distraction or something..." he paused, studying the cave, eyeing the tunnel now exposed. He knew there were several caves branching off in them, and picked up Rashid, the boy moaning softly.

"Shut up!" he snarled, bashing the hilt of his knife against the lad's head, a welt the size of an egg forming from the blow. Inhaling sharply, the boy stirred fitfully, until Balin shook him hard. "If you don't shut up, I'll crack your damned head open," he said softly.

Hearing a sword being drawn from its sheath, he glanced over his shoulder, finding that Agravain had his gaze fixed on a point beyond them, a frown on his fave. "We'll have to fight," he said simply.

"If they want the boy to live, they'll have to let us by. Or I can just kill him with one slice," Balin said, sneering as he caught sight of Sassy and Bubba, followed by Ly and two or three of the Hold guards.

Seeing Rashid, Sassy screeched, talons and teeth bared, ready to flay Balin's flesh into shreds.

Lysandre's jaw clenched, and he was ready to rush Balin when he saw the condition Rashid was in. To do such things to anyone, let alone a child-! If Rashid died, he would hold Balin personally responsible. Only Balin's threat stayed his hand, as he considered his options, eyes narrowed to smoldering, obsidian slits.

His best chance at the moment was an attempt at bluffing. Luckily, Ly's poker face was impeccable, and he'd had some recent practice at lying. "You're outnumbered. Even now, my men have killed most of yours and are working their way through the cave-in in the other passage. Give up now, and I may decide to let you live."

The passage they were in bent behind Balin: another guard was able to make a stealthy approach from that end, and threw a dagger unnerringly, hitting Agravain in the back. In a few strides, the large guard was close enough to block Balin's escape.
Lysandre permitted himself a smile, but he didn't let his guard down, waiting.

Snarling, Balin sneered at Lysandre, wondering just why his idiot sister actually liked being married to this man. Of course, he was soft- look at the extent he was willing to go for the brat under his arm. And there's the matter of him being at the whim of Tsigana's every wish.

Eyes narrowed, he considered the Lord's words, moving his hand over to cover Rashid's mouth, to stop him from crying out should he waken.

"Why should I? I'm dead anyway," he hissed, baring his teeth defiantly. He knew that he would certainly die for this, but he also knew that he would get satisfaction in seeing his sister's world crumble before her eyes, much like how his own had when she forced their father to name an alternate successor in his, the rightful Heir’s, place. Damned bitch was too interfering for her own good.

Hearing a strangled grunt, he shifted his eyes to the side, realizing that Agravain had been struck down. Now he was certainly surrounded. Then again, he had his last card- Tsigana.
"If you're wondering about your wife, she's with one of my men- he's been eying her like a dog with a bitch in heat. Couldn't let him not enjoy her, could I?" he asked, smiling tightly. "She might end up liking it, too, like her whore of a sister," he added, not realizing that there was a funny growling noise coming from the bundle in his arms.

Suddenly, with a curse, he flung Rashid aside, the boy hitting the wall and collapsing like a pile of bricks. Eyes disbelieving, he looked at his hand, a small bloody bite mark forming on the meaty area under one of his knuckles.

Apparantly, he underestimated his nephew, though the boy was starting to fade now that he'd used up what little energy he had in getting away from his uncle.

Lysandre snorted, unimpressed. "That is probably the only intelligent statement you've ever uttered," he said coldly.
He tensed, and forcibly kept himself from reacting to Balin's slurs against Tsigana and Kiyia. "Obviously, you don't know either of your sisters well. And I'm begining to doubt you're related. Might want to see if your man is still alive," he drawled with forced calm.

Ly was gratitified to see that Rashid still lived and had the strength to bite Balin, in effect givng his rescuers a necessary opening. One of the guards raised his sword, but Ly said, "No, he's mine! Check Rash."

With a wordless snarl, Ly thrust out, catching Balin in the stomach. It had taken all of his will power to avoid decapitating the man - he decided that honors hould go to Kiyia or Tsi. Or both, in front of Tsia.

"I should have done this a long time ago," he growled, looking down at the man. He spat disgustedly to the side.
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Old May 31 2006, 06:10 PM   #21
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(Warning: This section contains mention of rape. Next section contains rape and castration, though not in too much detail.)

The guard who had taken down Agravain came forward and carefully turned Rashid over, examining the boy for injuries. He winced in sympathy at the dried blood and numerous bruises.
Ly turned his back on Balin as another guard rushed forward to tie the man's wrists and ankles. He proceeded down the path and into the cave Balin had departed from, followed by the third guard and the two fire-lizards. Spotting the only other exit, he sent Sassy and Bubba ahead to see if there was anyone that way.

Balin, grunting from the thrust, fell to the ground, landing heavily onto his hands and knees, blood running down from the wound. He sneered at his brother-in-law as he spat to the side. Still being the righteous Lord, was he? Hmmph. He'll lose some of that once he sees what Volen did to his precious wife. A smirk forming on his face, Balin let the guards tie him hand and foot, not about to escape now. Besides, he wanted to stick around to see what would happen with Volen and Tsigana.
Volen coughed and scrambled up as the bad air filled the chamber. He lunged for Tsigana and took a mean hold on her, despite his injured wrist. The man shook her hard before calling for Balin. "Come on, I'm taking her elsewhere!"

So, carefully, he pulled Tsigana out of the cave and away from the air, leading her in a direction that would provide him with the atmosphere he desired. Grabbing a knife from his belt, he held it to her throat and hissed "Try something this time, bitch, and I'll slice that pretty little neck of yours."

Glaring hotly at Volen, Tsigana had no choice but to let him lead her to their destination, wondering what Balin would do now. She didn't like the sound of the explosion, but Balin had liked it less than her, and when he heard it, turned and sent the guard who had been with Rashid to investigate.

With the cold steel at her throat, Tsigana cooly gathered her wits, thinking of how she could get out of this.

Another phalanx of guards was making its way forward through the caves, bearing down on the cave-in en masse. They left wounded or dead - mostly dead - raiders behind them, bound as necessary. A few huge war runners led the way, scattering people and securing the element of surprise while the infantry moved in behind them and struck.

Whenever they passed an intersection, teams of two or three split off to search and secure it. And that was how they came upon Volen....

As if the pleasurable grunts of the man weren't enough to lead the guards to him. Once they did reach the 'secluded' cave, they were greeted by a sight that was enough to sicken the most hardened of the men.

There was Volen, with the Lady Tsigana's back pressed firmly into his front. It was more than obvious WHAT he was doing with her, more so that he was enjoying her futile struggles against his harsh violation of her.

Volen knew what would soon come to him -- he'd likely be punished somehow, someway, and by Lysandre's hand he was sure. So, while he had a few more moments of life to enjoy, he was going to.

With that thought planted in his sick mind, the man increased the pace of his movements, even growing more harsh. He grinned at the guards and chuckled when Lady Tsigana stifled what sounded like a sob.

__________________
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Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

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Egyptian King and Monotheist



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Old Jun 4 2006, 06:09 PM   #22
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It was entirely unfortunate that the guards who entered first both were from Skybroom. Then again, perhaps Volen was lucky that Lysandre wasn't the first to come upon him, or he would have ended up in two halves. At least.

The guards wore disgusted expressions as their Lady was violated, but they didn't let that stop them from acting. The younger, more agile of the two rushed around behind Volen and jerked the man away, flinging him into the wall. He followed that up with a kick that caught Volen right in the face, rearranging his features. The guard grinned in satisfaction at the sound of crunching bone.

The other guard pulled Tsigana quickly clear of the fight, then turned as more raiders rushed in behind him, evidently trying to escape the guards. Steel flashed and fists flailed. He managed to toss a spare dagger Tsigana's way.

Maudik, the first guard, glared down at Volen. "So you like raping people agains their will?" he growled. "Let's see how you like this!" He opened his pants, crouching atop the other man, and showed him what it felt like. He was taking revenge not just for Tsigana, but for himself, although the man who had harmed him was long gone. Volen was the same sort, even in general appearance, so Maudik figured he would do just as well.

Volen, face in a jumble, wrist nearly ripped to shreds, tried to struggle but eventually realized it was no use. Not even trying to apologize would help him now. He didn't even care -- let the man have his fun, the sick tunnelsnake.

And he would not even admit to himself that it hurt. Why would he give them some hint?

Already sore from the rape, Tsigana hardened her face at the sight of Volen receiving his just desserts, fingering the dagger with a thoughtful finger. When the guards had showed up and separated her from Volen, her first instinct was to stiffen and lash out with teeth and nails- nevermind that her clothes were already torn by her rapist's hungry hands. But when she calmed down significantly to recognize the two guards, she felt better- though not by much. She felt terribly vulnerable, and right now, she wanted Ly with her- for comfort and to erase the memories of Volen's touch and smell from her.

When one of the raiders evaded Timri, getting too close to the Lady, she stabbed him, getting sprayed with warm, sticky blood. Not minding the fact that now she resembled a walking carnage field instead of her usual 'lady' self, Tsigana turned to Volen, turning hard, cold eyes on the... man, studying him dispassionately, once the general chaos subsided, and Maurik finished his rapine.

Hearing footfalls, she looked up, and mentally hugged herself tightly, seeing Ly, with an _expression she had never seen before on his face. Sassy, satisfied for the moment, landed on her shoulder, crooning softly.

Maudik wasn't about to admit he hadn't enjoyed the experience any more than Volen, and just grinned evilly as he stood, adding another kick for good measure. Closing his trousers, the guard pulled out the length of rope he carried with him and began trussing Volen, without concern for the injured wrist. As far as he was concerned, this subhuman scum should suffer as much as possible.

With Ly charging forward from behind and Tsigana and Timri attacking from ahead, the last few raiders were quickly dispatched. Leaving Timri to deal with the one or two who still lived, Ly charged forward. He was shocked at Tsigana's appearance, and overwhelmed with relief that she still lived.

He gathered her up in his arms and held her tight, heedless of the blood, which he hoped wasn't all hers. "Tsigana! I'm so sorry, I wish I could have done more. Or come sooner. I'll never allow you to be put at risk again," he whispered. Then he looked at her again. "Your clothes! You're covered in blood! What did that creature do to you?" He shot a vicious glare in Volen's direction, imagining what he'd like to do the...man.

Wrapping both arms around Ly, Tsigana trembled, closing her eyes for a brief moment. The fact that her side was killing her wasn't important- only that Ly was alive, and presumably, Rash and Norolan, though she would have to see them for herself.
"No, Ly, it's all right... I'm fine... for the most part," she said, grimacing when he pulled away, looking carefully at her. Absently rubbing the side of her head, she glanced abstractedly at the blood on her fingertips, noting just how red it seemed.

"Oh, the blood? Well, some of it's from various raiders, but the rest is mine," she began, taking a deep breath. Ignoring the smirk from Volen, she turned her back on the man, telling Ly quietly, as concisely as she could, what had transpired between her, Balin, and Volen.

Volen, peeling his lips back from his teeth into a mocking, sadistic smile, chuckled. "My congratulations, Lord. Yon Lady's far sweeter forced than many who're willing! And to tell you the truth, I think a part of her enjoyed it," he added, enjoying the looks on Lysandre and Tsigana's face.

Face paling with anger, Tsigana picked up a discarded sword, and walked over, steely determination in her eyes. "Oh really? Then here's a taste of my appreciation then," she said softly, before lowering the swordpoint until it rested at groin-level. With a quick thrust, she stabbed into his skin, and made a quick cut with a flick of her wrist, severing his genitals, the bloody mass landing on the ground between them.

Volen, eyes bulging, emitted a strangled, gurgling scream, attempting to cover himself with his bound hands.

Tsigana, watching the man dispassionately, squatted down next to him, her face an inch from his, and said, 'Payback's a pain, isn't it?" she asked, before standing, turning away from Volen, looking at Ly. A slight smile on her face, she shook her head. "Where's Rash and Norolan?" she asked, not sure how if he liked what he just saw. She didn't like doing it, but she wanted a bit of her own back on Volen, and she got it, but at what cost? She hoped that her son was all right, but with Balin in the picture... And the memory of one of the raiders pressing down on the boy's back with a dagger.... That would live with her for a long time to come.

Despite Tsigana's assurances, Ly wasn't completely convinced. He thought she might be holding back on her story, but didn't press her, intending to coax the rest out later, when they were back home and alone.
Knowing that Ly wasn't altogether convinced, Tsigana looked at him, and shook her head. She knew that she would have to tell him everything that happened, but now was neither the time nor place.

Since Volen's teeth had been kicked out, his slurred words made little sense, but they could be guessed at. Ly scowled darkly at the man; if his eyes had been flamethrowers, Volen'd be dead. "That only proves she's a better actor than you are a person," he snapped coldly.

He made no move to stop Tsigana when she effectively castrated Volen, wondering with clinical detachment if the man would survive long enough to stand trial for his crimes. Probably not.
He took Tsigana's hand and squeezed it. "Rashid should be back in the outer cave. Haven't heard about Norolan yet, but we'll see."

One of the guards grabbed Volen roughly and hauled him out, the Lord and Lady not far behind. "There's water and cloths to clean that off at the entrance. Wish we'd brought extra clothes," Ly said, scowling. He let go of Tsigana's hand long enough to shrug out of his jacket and wrap it around his wife.

Accepting his hand once she had taken care of Volen, Tsigana nodded, feeling a single tear prickle from beneath her eyelids. "Good. And how did you manage to get him from Balin? Last I saw, Balin had him," she said, before Ly told her about the water and cloths. "Good. Could use a bit of clean up, but I'll still need to see a healer- especially for my side," she added, grimacing. She absently let him wrap his jacket around her, grateful to be covered up- decently, if a bit oddly.
She let her arm drape around her husband's waist as they walked towards the main cavern.
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Old Jun 7 2006, 08:34 PM   #23
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(Sorry if things get a little confusing from here on out. There's a lot of overlapping and things happening at the same time. I've tried to shift things around so it makes a bit more sense for those not used to round-robin role-play.)
Rashid, sensing the rough, yet gentle hands on him, whimpered, opening one dark blue eye, fastening it on the guard. Recognizing him from Skybroom, the boy relaxed, closing his eye, a few tears leaking from beneath his lids, wondering where his parents were. He knew his mother was somewhere- unless he dreamt he had heard her voice. And his father had evidently left, hopefully in search of his mother.

Sassy, flying ahead of Bubba, flew into one of the caves, flying back out when she found that it was filled with dead people. Hissing, she streaked to one of the further caves, hearing sounds of a struggle, and flitted in, screeching at the people there, before dive-bombing right onto an unsuspecting raider, tearing away parts of his hair and skin.

"It's all right, lad, you're safe now," the guard said as gently as if he were comforting one of his own children. He hated to see children hurt, and actually liked Rashid despite his pranks. "We'll see you're taken care of, and brought home very soon. Now I'm going to pick you up. Just let me know if I hurt you."

Trying not to jostle him too much, the guard slid his arms under Rashid's back and knees, slowly rising with tbe boy cradled in his arms. With his fellows leading the way, he carried Rashid back to the main cavern and laid him beside Norolan.
Rashid, smiling slightly at the guard's comforting words, nodded. He knew that he was in good hands. "All right," he said, before Keniel stood up, with the boy in his arms. Inhaling sharply, Rash winced, both at the slight jar and the fact that it hurt to breathe.

Once he was placed back on the ground, the boy turned his head slowly, looking at Norolan, blue eyes shadowed with mingled worry and guilt. Although he knew that he couldn't possibly have known that this would have happened, he felt badly about all that had happened.
When he heard a slight grunt and a bit of a scuffle, he turned his head towards the source, and stiffened at the sight of Balin, his face a sullen mask.

The other two guards dragged Balin along between them, not bothering to lift him over rough patches. They left the other raider's body behind for a seperate detail to collect along with the other dead.

Sneering at Rashid, Balin spat, getting a swift punch in the kidneys from one of the guards, before the man crashed to the ground, recieving another punch and kick.

Shrinking from his uncle, the boy looked at the guards, wondering when his parents would show. He heard a familiar squawk, and smiled when Sassy landed gingerly on his chest, nudging her head against his cheek in an unusually affectionate manner.
Letting the green remain on him, the boy waited with patience for his parents to show, hoping that they didn't get hurt in the fighting.

The guards who had brought Balin in decided that he would be less of a threat on the far side of the cave from Rashid. This position was also out of reach of most of the fire's warmth, though glows provided adequate light. They dropped the man carelessly on his face, then one nudged him onto his side with a toe. "Can't have you bleed to death on us before you're properly punished," he said.

When the guard captains were confident everyone had returned, they did a head count to see who was missing.

Balin, groaning at his rough treatment, glared balefully at the guards, face puckered up like a prune, only with less wrinkles, but he was just as sour.

He curled his upper lip, sneering. He would certainly get his own back- just let those damned guards wait and see! And Tsigana... She would, too, if Volen didn't by this time.

Hearing footfalls, he shifted his eyes to the side, eyeing Volen as he was dragged in, a large, crimson blotch on his trousers.
Following the man- or eunuch- was Ly, holding Tsi against his side.

A smirk forming on his face, Balin ignored the fact that his nose was broken, dripping blood down his face, and bared his teeth, startlingly white in a gory mask of blood.

"Well, seems someone's not quite so pure now," he sneered, getting a cold glare from Ly, Tsigana more interested in her son and Norolan.

Volen was in too much pain to do any sort of arguing. Everything hurt, from his head right down to the tips of his smelly feet.

He felt Balin watching him and his head moved, just enough, to eye the man. He was not going to back down from the raider leader quite yet -- he was still aligned to Balin, and had ever more reason to support him now.
One of the guards, overhearing Balin's comment, decided to teach the man a lesson. He smacked him on the head once, then again at Balin's curse, using enough force to knock him out. Volen was dumped unceremoniously not far from Balin, so that they lay face to heel.
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Old Jun 8 2006, 08:05 PM   #24
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Ly briefly told Tsi how Rashid had been rescued from his so-called uncle's clutches, recounting the attack on Balin with a smile that didn't reach his eyes.
Carefully hugging Rash, Tsi smiled down at him, tears blurring her vision. "Rash..." she said softly, a lump in her throat as she blinked back her tears, taking note of his injuries.

Rashid, looking up at his parents, smiled. "Don't cry, Mom. I'm fine," he said, knowing that that was a lie, but he didn't want his mother to burst into tears on his account. "Are we going home?" he asked, looking from one parent to the other, getting nods from both.

"Can I see Libby first?" he asked, before adding, "to say that I'm sorry."
Closing her eyes, Tsi nodded, saddened that her son would feel so much guilt for all this. If anything, it was Balin's fault, not Rash's. And she wondered if that meant it was also her fault, as she had initially suggested that Pyralis be nominated as Lemos' Heir apparent on his grandfather's death, displacing his uncle Balin.
Ly knelt beside Rashid, looking over his son for himself and stroking his hair. "Hush now, none of this is your fault. If anything, it's mine for not making sure Balin was out of the way in the first place," he said, trying to be gentle. He was angry at himself, not Rash. "Just rest quietly now."

Opening her eyes, Tsi looked at Norolan, stricken by his appearance. Here was yet another misdeed to be placed at her brother's feet. And Libby would certainly hold it against him that her husband suffered at his hands.

"How're you, Norolan? Certainly look as if you'd seen better days," she said lightly, a wry smile on her lips. "Know Libby's anxious to having you back," she added, smoothing back a strand of hair from her son-in-law's forehead, compassion in her eyes. "Think it's time to go home," she said, standing.

A senior guard approached the small group, but hesitated to interrupt until they were done.

Norolan closed his eyes, a small smile forming on his face. "I miss her very much. I think the only thing that's gotten me this far is the thought of her." He felt his lower lip start to shake. He looked up at her, then to Lysandre. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to keep Rash safe. I tried."

Ly leaned across Rash so he could touched Norolan's shoulder with his fingertips. "No, don't apologize. You coudln't have anticipated this, none of us could. I assumed Balin had gone off and drunk himself to death and who was to have known he'd get mixed up with this sort, planning vengeance?" He didn't know if Norolan knew about Gaheris, but the younger man did look as if he'd been done over by someone with a personal vendetta.

Norolan was so relieved they didn't hate him for all this. He glanced over at Rash and gave his brother's arm a touch, showing he was sorry for all this and would make it up to him somehow. "Have you found my brother yet?" He turned back to Lysandre. "And are there guards at Akhenaten? He's likely to go after it if he hasn't been captured yet."

Lysandre stopped to look around the room before answering Norolan, having failed to check for Gaheris's presence earlier. The guard who had been waiting for his attention cleared his throat. "Ah, that's part of what I wanted to say, Lord Lysandre. We haven't seen Gaheris anywhere, and we've checked all the caves that weren't flooded or blocked off."

Lysandre's mouth tightened. "Then he may have escaped. We'll have to keep an extra close watch until we know for sure." He looked back at Norolan. "Yes, several guards stayed behind to protect Akhenaten, as well as Skybroom, though most are here."
Norolan's face twisted in a grimace, and he sighed. "If Gaheris is found, I would like to deal with him personally." He touched his forehead, and winced when it pulled at his wounds. "Would only make me as bad as him, but I want to let him have a taste of what he did to me." He was at least glad there were extra guards at both Akhenaten and Skybroom.
"That is your right," Lysandre agreed, nodding. "And I know Tsi and Kiyia would like to mete out their own punishment to Balin, supposedly their brother. All I ask is they wait until after the trial." He gave Tsi an understanding look. Realizing the guard had more to say, Ly looked up. "What is it?"
"How do you want us to transport the prisoners? And where do they go?"

Ly didn't have to think long about that. "If they can walk, make them, but tie a rope around their waists to keep them together in groups, with at least one guard leading and one following. Injured get tied to runners," he said. "Skybroom has more space to hold prisoners, so we'll take them. Norolan?" he asked, inviting his son-in-law's opinion and input.

Norolan didn't need to take long to consider his response. "Yes, I'd rather they go to Skybroom." Norolan took a shallow breath. "I think we should go to Akhenaten to be treated," He indicated himself and Rashid; he really didn't care about Balin or Volen. "it's closer and.. I really need to see Libby."

Ly nodded again at Norolan's suggestion. "My thought exactly. And...I'd like to see Libby too," he admitted. "We'll delay the trial until you're recovered enough to participate. That gives me time to get the cooperation of a few of the other Lords."
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Old Jun 9 2006, 08:29 PM   #25
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Meanwhile, the guards had gone about carrying out Ly's orders, breaking the raiders into groups of five or six each. They would keep a few runners back for Ly and Tsi, and someone would have to ride with Norolan.

Norolan was thankful that they would wait until after he was a little stronger. He glanced again at Rashid, and smiled. "Will you let me know when you have a few in order?"

He wasn't looking forward to the ride home, but Norolan was looking forward just to going home. The sooner he was in the comfort of his Hold, with his family and more importantly, his wife, he'd feel much better.

He glanced at Tsigana as the last minute preparations were being tended to. "Can you send a note ahead so they know we are coming, and to have healers ready to see to Rashid and myself?"

"Of course," Ly answered, moving to help Tsi care for Rashid's cuts and making sure she cleaned herself up as best she could as well. Hearing Norolan's question, he replied before his wife could. "Right. If I can find a peice of hide..."

Ly got up and hunted around until he found something useful and a pen, strapping the message to Bubba's leg and sending it to Akhenaten. The brown was to find Libby. Ly had just requested healers in general and for a harper to be present to help record the injuries. He hadn't specified who was hurt, saying only that Norolan and Rashid were both alive.

Tsi, looking up when Norolan spoke, let Ly answer the question for her, her mind troubled by the events. She knew that they would have to do something about this, but some part of her want to just go into a corner and lick her wounds in private- no matter that they had 'won', so to speak.

With her tunic and jacket torn, and covered with Ly's jacket, the Lady looked a right mess- especially with the blood stains. At least she felt somewhat cleaner. Rashid, however, was another matter. He didn't want anyone touching him too much, and when Tsi gently suggested he took off his tunic to better tend to his wounds, the boy vehemently refused, shaking his head. Tsi, glancing at Ly, decided that Rash could wait until they got to Akhenaten, and then he would have to strip for the healers- whether he wanted to or not.

At Akhenaten, Libera, who had informed the healers to expect a party of wounded coming in, was startled when Bubba appeared, with a note tied to his leg.

Quickly untying the message, the young woman scanned it, and whooped, getting a little bit of tittering and one startled gasp from the people around her.

"Right. Now, to your posts, and I'll get Mitchall. He'll want to be in on this.." Libby decided, dismissing the healers with a smile and a nod.

Spotting her mother-in-law, Libby smiled, handing her the note. "At least they're alive," she said quietly, feeling some of the tension she had been under ease away with those four words. "I'm on my way to get Mitchall. Think Dad's got something up his sleeve," she added, a slight crease between her brows.
When Bubba reminded her that he wanted a snack, Libby snorted at him, reaching into her pocket for a grape. "No meatrolls on me, I'm afraid, so you'll have to make do with a grape."

She scrawled a quick note for her father, tying it to the brown's leg, before sending him back to Lysandre. The note said simply that everything would be in place when they arrived.

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Old Jun 10 2006, 07:24 PM   #26
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The caves:

Bubba landed on Ly's shoulder, presenting his leg for the message to be removed. Ly glanced at the note and nodded, smiling. Libby had definitely picked up her mother's organizational skills, something that probably stood her in good stead even managing a smaller Hold like Akhenaten.

Looking around, Ly saw that the guards had their prisoners ready. "Are you up to riding?" He asked Tsi and Norolan. There was no time to waste, but he'd feel more comfortable if a guard rode with Norolan to allow the man time to rest and also in case his strength failed him.
"Tsi, I'd rather you rode with me. I don't want you to overexert yourself between that cut and the baby," he said quietly to his wife. He also didn't think she'd want one of the guards with her. "One of the guards can protect Rashid...unless you'd rather be with me, Rash?" he asked the boy in a more gentle tone, taking his hand.

Norolan nodded. "If I had someone with me, I should be fine." He wasn't sure what had happened to Tsi, but he offered her an apologetic look. She looked rough to the wear, and come to think about it, if she was alone with Volen.. and that's where the blood stain came from.. He frowned. Libby would not be happy with any of this.

Sassy, eyeing the little brown, crooned, turning her back to him coquettishly. The little green was being a flirt now, much to her person's bemusement. Absently pushing her tail from her shoulder, Tsi glanced at Ly, nodding. "Yes. Sooner we leave, the better," she added with some vehemence. She didn't want to stay any longer in this cave than necessary.

A stab wasn't really a cut, but she wasn't going to argue the point with her husband. She sensed that there was more to him asking her to ride with him than just making sure she didn't over-exert herself. However, she knew that she didn't want to ride with one of the guards, either. She wanted the comforting solid presence of her husband with her on the ride to Akhenaten.
Rash, thinking about the question, was of two minds. On one hand, he knew that his father must have a reason for asking his mother to ride with him instead of a guard, and he thought that it was something to do with what Volen did. He knew that the man had done something really bad to his mother, something that made his father's eyes turn as cold and flat as stone when he happened to glance in either Volen or Balin's direction.

However, the boy also wanted to ride with his parents, mainly because he missed them and felt safe with them. Chewing his split and swollen lip, the boy shook his head after a long moment. "I can go with a guard, Dad. I'll be fine," he added, taking care not to wince when he accidentally inhaled too sharply, though his face grimaced when he felt the all-too familiar pain in his sides.

Ly wasn't completely convinced that Rashid was fine, but he didn't push it. The boy was brave despite his age, but much too young to have to endure what he had. Ly would see that Balin and Volen paid dearly for what they had done.
"All right. Be still now." Ly suspected that Rash had at least one cracked or broken rib, but he doubted a lung had been punctured, judging by his breath sounds. Then again, Ly was no healer.

In short order, everyone was mounted. Ly himself carried Rashid over to Keniel's mount and helped the guard secure him so the boy wouldn't be jostled too much. They would make more frequent stops as needed and travel slowly.

Ly wanted to boost Tsi up onto their runner as well, but held himself to offering the minimum possible assistance. He led the procession of runners and marching prisoners - Balin and Volen jerked along somewhere in the rear - himself at first.

With the journey to Akhenaten relatively quiet, Tsi let herself lean against Ly, feeling his arms around her as he urged the runner onwards.

Rashid, pleased to be with Kenial, simply looked at his surroundings- almost as though looking at them for the first time or with an entirely new perspective in light of his ordeal with his 'uncle' and his henchmen.

Once the Hold was in sight, the boy bit his lip, wondering what Libby would do or say to him about Norolan. One unfortunate result of the boy's misadventures was his assumption of guilt over the whole thing- though his better sense told him that she would direct her anger towards Balin for everything.

Libby, who'd finished giving instructions to Mitchal after tracking the elusive harper down, went to the infirmary, not exactly sure what she was supposed to be doing next. She didn't want to be driving the healers mad, but she couldn't just sit still, either.

Norolan saw his home, and nearly wept. Libby.. he'd soon be back. The man supporting him from behind almost lost his grip on the Holder, but quickly regained his senses. "Are you alright, sir?"

Norolan felt stiff all over again. Seeing his home was making him remember, feel, all his wounds once again. He said something though, at least. "I'm fine."

Once they had stopped, he was not surprised to see healers waiting outside for them, along with several guards. Attention was immediately placed on the well being of the Hold's Lord, but Norolan shook his head. "Rashid needs attention most, first." He knew he needed to be tended to as well, but he was more concerned about his brother-in-law.

Lysandre dismounted first and helped Tsi down before turning the runner over to the stable boy who came running up. The beasts would need to be rested too before they continued to Skybroom. "Take care of him," he said to the healers who took charge of Rashid. "Then Norolan, and Tsigana. Prisoners are last." He didn't care how badly wounded they were, as long as enough lived to stand trial.

As they went inside, he courteously requested an audience with the Harper and Healer. "Libby, you should probably hear this too," he added, before briefly outlining the events and what he wanted. He also asked if the Harper knew of any precedents for this situation.

__________________
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Old Jun 11 2006, 05:28 PM   #27
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P07/03.05.11
The trial had been set up in the big room usually reserved for when Skybroom Hold hosted the Conclave. The tables and chairs were rearranged with spaces for the three judges at the front and the prosecution and speaker for the prisoners facing them.

The audience sat at the rear, while the randomly selected jury of twelve sat along the sides. Skybroom's Harper, Journeyman Daria, had reluctantly volunteered to serve as speaker for the prisoners, though she mostly ignored them unless they became disruptive. Lysandre had claimed his right to prosecute while three of the Lords who had been invited to witness the trial served as judges. They were from Nerat, Igen and Telgar, close enough to arrive quickly yet far enough to be neutral in this case. It turned out that some of the raiders were known troublemakers from Igen and Telgar.

In the intervening couple of sevendays, the prisoners had been locked up in the old lower levels of Skybroom Hold, allowed no other amenity than heat and a few blankets for hard beds, fed only water and bread. The delay had given Lysandre time to set everything up, and for Tsigana, Rashid and Norolan to recover from their wounds sufficiently to attend.

Lysandre surveyed the group, waiting while the last of the audience found their seats. His gaze passed quickly over Tsia, whom he had allowed to attend only when she flew into hysterics.
Tsigana, ignoring her mother's scathing glare, slid next to Rashid, giving him an encouraging smile.

"You'll do fine. This'll be over soon, then it'll be little more than an unpleasant dream," she murmured, squeezing the boy's shoulder. She thought about how Ly had reacted when she finally told him everything. Just as well Ly wasn't prone to violent outbursts, though that had been a close one. The aftermath of that particular revelation had left them both drained, but Tsi knew that she needed it, else she wouldn't have been able to get beyond that.

Rashid, his bruises all but faded, looked at the audience, seeing Libby and Kiyia seated with Tsia and Caolan. Turning his face so that he could look at his father, Rashid gingerly sat up straight, careful of his still-healing back. The boy had never seen his parents as angry as when they saw for the first time just how much abuse he had taken from his 'uncle'- who was now sitting with the rest of the prisoners, a haughty, disdainful expression on his lean, drawn face. Privately, Rash thought he resembled a cadaver, but he was wise enough not to say so in the presence of the guests in the Hold.

Libby, who'd smiled gently at her brother, looked at Norolan, her mind running back to when she finally got him back-safe and sound, if a bit ... worse the wear. She wondered if they would ever catch that flaming tunnelsnake, Gaheris. Brother or no, he deserved to pay for what he'd made them all suffer through-especially Nessila, who was watching the prisoners with a sharp eye.

Lord Frodi, from Igen Hold, frowned at the prisoners, hazel eyes narrowed. He knew Balin slightly and never liked the man. And if what rumor said was true, Balin deserved not a quick, merciful death, but a long, lingering, painful one. He didn't think he would be able to sentence a man to his death just like that, but something about all this troubled him. Especially when he realized that the three people sitting in the witness chairs were tied in some way to the man-either by blood or marriage.
Shifting slightly on his chair, the Lord was ready for this thing to get over and done with-he had promised his wife that he wouldn't be too long-if he could help it. And besides, he wanted to hold his baby daughter again-his first girl after fathering six sons.

Glancing at the other two Lords serving as judges, he ran a hand through his thinning brown hair, not sure how this would go. Long as there wasn't a stink.

Lord Noren of Nerat was nervous as he took his seat. He was still fresh in his role, unmarried, with no influence to back up his decisions and opinions aside from stewards and aids. This was different, but he felt a bolt of excitement in his stomach.

He saw the men in question, and quickly turned away. They didn't even deserve his attention. He knew he'd have to at some point, but he wanted to save his feelings and opinions for later.

Norolan caught Libby's glance, glad for her presence here. He wouldn't have let her stay at the Hold either way -- he was hurting, and didn't want to risk leaving her anywhere, without him being there.

Nessila saw the look on her son's face and reached out for him mentally. After what he and poor Rashid had gone for, she could understand. A part of her felt this was her fault -- had she done more with Gaheris, maybe it would have spared the two some.

Lord Keldig of Telgar looked around the room, his gaze passing briefly over the men, and realized that he had already made up his mind as to their guilt. But he knew that procedures were important, so he would sit through the trial and do his best to be fair. But his eldest grandson was close to Rashid's age, and he couldn't help thinking of him.
__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist


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Old Jun 11 2006, 05:28 PM   #28
Greenrider Tresa
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Because Lysandre was busy as prosecutor, Villiam took it upon himself to open the trial, reminding everyone what it was about and summarizing what had been learned from the prisoners, or at least inferred.

Then things began in earnest. Lysandre was thorough in his questioning, as if he hadn't already don so. Daria made an uninspired effort to claim that many of the raiders were innocent and were not bright enough to either participate in such a plan or know what was going on. She asked the witnesses to repeat their stories, yet broke off questioning when things became uncomfortable. When Rashid began to cry after only two questions, the harper softened her voice and said he didn't have to tell any more.

Throughout, the judges had time to direct questioning or ask for clarification on certain points.

Throughout the procedure, Libby watched her mother, brother, and husband, wincing when Rash had burst into tears, the boy's shoulders shaking. She glanced at Nessila, getting her take on it, before Kiyia put a hand on her shoulder.

"Look at Balin. He's actually smirking, the *******," she growled, green eyes narrowed into slits.

Glancing at Balin, Libby frowned, disgusted. How typical, she thought. And arrogant...

Tsigana, with the judges' permission, had managed to get Rash calmed down a bit, murmuring softly to him, when it was her turn. She didn't particularly relish reliving the experience- even through words, but she would, to see that Balin got his just desserts. She ignored the prisoners, keeping her gaze focused on Ly when relating her account.

Kiyia, who had known about Tsi's ordeal, winced, remembering how being raped felt at the 'tender' age of sixteen. However, in her case, she wasn't brutally hurt or anything. If anything, it had been more from a lack of judgement on her part. What Tsi had gone through, that was something Kiyia would never have wished on her, not even when she was still being a bitch, and Tsi had to deal with her at that stage.

Frodi, listening to the testimonies, felt sick, his normally gentle hazel eyes as hard as stones when he looked over the prisoners. They were guilty. Of that, he had not been in doubt, but the revelations from the witnesses had strengthened the Lord of Igen's resolve that the scum would pay for all the trouble they had caused. Especially Balin.

Noren's feelings toward the prisoners intensified when Rashid teared up. The poor kid was pretty distressed, from the looks of it. He already knew how he was going to go, but knew he had to continue listening. He'd offer to help hang them himself, next to Lysandre and the rest of his family.

Keldig snorted his disgust as the testimony only confirmed his original opinion. He was glad nothing like this had happened at Telgar, though he knew of that reprehensible attempt on the Weyrleaders' lives some turns back. Fortunately, it had failed. There were entirely too many idiots of that sort and like these - men - on Pern, he decided.

A recess was called during which the jurors made their decision, but almost all of those present had already anticipated the outcome. The motion for leniency for the remaining raiders was denied for all but a few, who appeared genuinely simple-minded.

As the oldest of the Lords acting as judges, Keldig was chosen to hand down the punishment for Balin, Volen, and the rest. "The punishment for raping a pregnant woman is castration during an interval," he announced in stentorian tones. "However, since that has already been done, Volen will be staked out in thread." He tried not to take pleasure in his next words, as that would lower him to their level. "This jury finds that the usual punishment for attempted murder and torture, exile, is sufficient for all of the remaining defendants but one."

Cold eyes fixed on Balin. "Because their leader is so twisted that he can condone attacks of this nature on his own family for means of personal gain, Balin is to be considered a menace to Pern. The only appropriate punishment is immediate death."
On the heels of his words, guards came forward and grabbed the prisoners, bearing them from the room.
























__________________
Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these
Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.

Akhenaton? (c. B.C. 1375)
Egyptian King and Monotheist


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