Status

Recent Statuses

2 yrs ago
Current "Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg." - Deor.
1 like
4 yrs ago
"Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either egotism, selfishness, evil - or else an absolute ignorance."
3 likes

Bio

Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?
Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?
Hwær sindon seledreamas?
Eala beorht bune!
Eala byrnwiga!
Eala þeodnes þrym!
Hu seo þrag gewat,
genap under nihthelm,
swa heo no wære.

Most Recent Posts

Aurien grinned and peered back to the guard with a cheeky wink, chuckling away to himself. The guardsman grunted angrily, and then nodded

"Then you fit in better with us than where you're going, I would wager!" The Guardsman retorted with a chuckle. Gaikus shot him a glance for a moment then sat back as the man left. The retainers chuckled to themselves and shook their heads, quickly going about their business

***

Zakroti raised his hand out to the left side to give a light wave as he approached the group in the courtyard, greeting his men at arms "An alafin a serpen, ieni!" He called to them, taking his seat amongst them and taking the pitcher and glass he was handed to pour himself a drink

"Zela ta laloriaonz odzi, Taki!" Some of the men replied cheerfully enough as they ate together and spoke of all kinds of things. Zakroti turned his head towards Nenra as she greeted him and bowed his head lightly to her

"An thul a sil, Nenra." He replied to her with a warm smile, glancing to Miry for a moment as the Nenra whispered to her before his attention was suddenly drawn to the otherside by Narlemaewel, his helmet now removed to reveal the decidedly gemmenite features that made him entirely distinct from the mixture of Drakken around him. Zakroti gave a small smile and nodded

"I have ensured that we have made ready to leave, we can exit as soon as we have finished with the morning food. The mounts are changed and the ganauts will be taken home separately, but shouldn't arrive more than a few days after our own arrival" Narlemaewel said simply, his voice relatively gruff and short. He dipped the spoon into the bowl of soup and beginning to eat from it.

"Thank you, Narlemaewel, oeiz seru." Zakroti replied with a light nod as he cut into the meat that was one his plate, slicing away at it and plopping the chunk into his mouth as Narlemaewel continued

"Word is that the road is clear enough and the weather should hold for the next step of our journey, but the calculations were made for our riding. Are the Gemmenites here capable of riding as long and hard as our own riders, or will I need to adjust the itinerary?" He asked with a light raise of a brow, glancing over to Nenra and Miry for a moment before peering back to his overlord.

"They seemed to handle it suitably enough, I will look after them." Zakroti replied with a light nod, shifting in place a little and continuing to eat. Then he paused for a moment and glanced towards Miry and Nenra again "How well are you handling the riding? We've got a good deal more of it on the road ahead."
Zakroti awoke and rolled lightly in the bed, peering around the room and getting his bearings after teh night. It took him a moment to remember where he was, and his eyes came to settle on Miry, sitting beside the bed and engrossed in embroidery and needlework.

"An alafin a serpen, how did you sleep?" He asked, wondering how much longer than him she'd been awake. He wasn't sure he appreciated being left asleep or not, there was always an unease to the idea that others had been awake and mobile around you while you have been enjoying your little slice of death. "We'll rejoin the others soon enough."

He rose from the bed and dressed quickly enough into his travelling clothes and gambeson for the journey. They would join the companions for breakfast soon enough, before they set off. The hospitality of the lady of the keep had extended far enough to offer them stay to remain for food, which Zakroti had respectfully declined. The sooner they set off, the better for he the next friendly location would be the full days ride away from here.

***

"Your lord is slow to arrive today." A guardsman noted noted, taking a swig from his tankard and leaning forwards in place towards Zakroti's entourage s "Don't suppose we should go make sure she hasn't slit his throat"

"Narlemaewel is one room over, were there to be an incident, it would be interceded in long before come to us." Gaikus replied as he broke bread between them. "Besides, the girl seems too timid and gentle to do such."

"Right, because timid and gentle people never kill. I mean, just look at Kzaar over here, big guy never hurts a sou= Oh." Aurien commented with a wry smile taking his share of the bread and passing a share over to Kzaar, who remained quiet and shifted a little awkwardly in place.

"As you say. You must be looking forward to returning home, you've roused so early." The guardsman replied with a shrug of his shoulder, then nodding towards Nenra "What about her?"

"Our overlord said we should set out early in order to make it the distance. I would rather not be left behind, or rushed out onto my horse on an empty stomach, so I'm up already myself." Aurien replied simply through a mouthful of bread.

"If we do not leave early, they may have closed the gates by the time we arrive. It is much more irksome to get into a city at night, lords rarely like to be roused from their sleep because someone's knocking on a city gate asking to be let inside." Gaikus replied as he finished breaking the bread, sitting back again with the calmness and deliberation of a slothful, almost exaggeratedly slowly. "As for Nenra, what about her?"

"It seems unorthodox to let her sleep in a room with unsecured weapons in the night, surely she could have been given one of the guest rooms, or just shared the room with your lord." The Guardsman replied with a light shrug of his shoulders again "I'd rather not have my throat slit by an angry Gemmenite, if its all the same to you."

"Well, such did not happen so you can rest assured that your fears are baseless. As for why she is in here, she chose to be in here. You'd have to ask her about that." Gaikus gave a cheeky smile to the man and then turned his attention over towards Nenra, changing to speak in Gemmenite tongue. It was clear that he was far from a native speaker and that he was from a far off land. The emphasis and pronunciation on some of the words was noticeably wrong, but otherwise the words were correct and the grammar was accurate. "He is asking why you chose to sleep in here with a bunch of rowdy guardsmen rather than in a more comfortable and accommodating quarters. I can already guess the answer, but indulge him."

"Indeed, it is obvious to us, but he was dropped as a child." Aurien interjected with a boyish and discourteous grin. The Guardsman was ignorant to the Gemmenite language, but could tell from his demeanour that it was hardly a nice word about him, and shot a look of daggers at the back of Aurien's head.
Double post.
"Not at all, it would have been hard to sleep with three people struggling for space on the bed anyway, no?" Zakroti jested and nodded to the soldier on her right, Gaikus, who simply returned the nod silently. He seemed hardly surprised and certainly not offended by the decision. With that the group split apart, heading their separate ways.

***

"I appreciate her spirit, standing up like that!" Kzaar asked with a hearty laugh, taking a huge bite out of the Dunar leg he was still carrying with him as he overlooked the city street. Gaikus could not fault Kzaars appetite, it was true. It was as big as the man himself. The wind blew softly and quietly, and the chill of night had begun to set in now.

"You were correct that she'll fit in well with the men, I suspect the boy will take no issue with that. It is good to see her adapt deftly to the circumstances, this goes smoother than I had anticipated." The Gaunt commented softly, casting a glance towards the hulking mountain beside him. The warrior swallowed his mouthful of meat and nodded, wiping his mouth clean with a cloth.

"For an Earth gem, she's a little more fiery than expected. Probably chosen for that, or her strength..." Kzaar commented, taking another bite from the leg. Gaikus furrowed his brow for a moment and then gave a weak smile with a raise of his right brow.

"You forget, flowers still have thorns. I would concur with that. The Drakken reapers are good at finding strength at least - though they allow their sadism to get the better of them. The story Aymiria told..." Gaikus trailed off for a moment as he thought back to it. The decision of the girls family to volunteer her over another was itself quite the shocking betrayal, to be certain, but the acceptance of the reapers was a detail he couldn't quite understand. It would likely suit the Oshweli just fine all the same, so he supposed it was not worth worrying about. Perhaps the reapers had thought it a slight, perhaps they had simply been unwilling to argue and wanted to go home. There were a million and one reasons, and it was beyond the scope of his knowledge to discern it.

"It made my horns wilt, Gaikus, to think a parent would do such." Kzaar said through a mouthful of half chewed meat, shaking his head firmly. Gaikus gave a light nor agreement as he stood from his position leaning against the wall and moved back towards the barracks

Gaikus would wish that outlived their children, but he suspected that it would hardly be such a pain for them if they could sell their own so eagerly.

***

Narlemaewel seemed to agree with him about the Gemmenites, Nenra would be hard to win around and earn the trust of and, having correctly predicted that she would hardly chose to sleep with the Lords chosen man alone (he found it interesting that she'd share a bunkhouse with the lot, perhaps she had reasoned that they'd keep check on each other?), it had been logical to choose Narlemaewel. He suspected that Nenra would be highly disapproving of Narlemaewel, and it would likely be best that she not be exposed to him immediately. The last thing he wanted was for a large argument to break out in the bunkhouse of the Narasierre clan, it would have been a grave insult to them. The long term plan for building some trust with her through the garden seemed a logical plan and, by taking his time and not pressuring her, perhaps he could make this arrangement as... Comfortable wasn't the correct word, nothing was comfortable about this, not least for her. Ensuring the least uncomfortable arrangements possible?

Well, the least uncomfortable arrangement would likely have been releasing her, but he suspected that his grandfather would have a lot to say about that - as would the Drakken, in fact. He supposed he was a safer jailer to be with than many of the easterners, but he was cognizant that such hardly excused this.

Narlemaewel agreed with that, for his part, but overestimated its likelihood of success . He believed that the most appropriate course of action was simply to treat them well and allow them to reason out that, ultimately, the position of himself and the Oshweli was one of great magnanimity whereas their own people had sold them out. Zakroti suspected Narlemaewel may have been allowing his own biases to cloud his vision in this regard. Nenra would not assimilate so easily, it wasn't in her nature.

***
Zakroti returned from the washroom to see Miry sitting at the end of the bed, seemingly waiting for him. He could tell from her posture and appearance that she was trying to be seductive and - to her credit - she was doing well. She looked cute and pretty, and he could appreciate that about her. The uncertainty and lack of confidence was shining through however.

He couldn't tell for certain if she actually wanted to do it, at the very least from the look on her face she was trying to seem like she wanted it; He admitted he'd be a little surprise if she actually wanted to do it rather than just was willing to do it as an obligation.

He thought for a moment and then gave her a reassuring smile, approaching her and setting himself down beside her. He reached an arm out carefully to wrap it around her, his other hand gently brushing against her cheek. He leaned in towards her.

"You look very pretty, Aymiria." Zakroti commented with a smile, slowly running his eyes over her body and noting how she'd postured herself. She'd bunched up her shift lightly, and her clothing seemed lightly held on. She was definitely trying to be suggestive and seductive and he wanted to let her know she had succeeded, to ensure she didn't take the wrong impression of what he was about to say. After letting his gaze dwell on her body and peered at the hem of her clothing for several seconds, mentally undressing her, he looked back up to her, lent in and placed a gentle kiss on her lips.

"But we don't have to do anything until you're ready. If you're ready." Zakroti said softly, gently brushing her hair to the side with his hand and shifting lightly on place so he was looking into her eyes. "And when we do, if you're ever uncomfortable, if you change your mind... We'll stop. All you have to do is give me a light pinch to let me know, or pull away, and we'll stop."

Zakroti gave her a sincere and reassuring smile again glancing down to her hands to see if she'd sign a response, gently sliding his hand onto her shoulder as he did.
The city gates and walls were arranged in a rather typical set up. Like most Drakken cities, there were two layers of defensive wall within the city; The outer perimeter wall which enclosed the city, and the inner wall that enclosed the citadel, a structure deliberately built on a large hill at the centre to tower over the rest of the city.

Drakken earth mages and Gemmenite earth mages differed in one crucial respect; The former were typically far more in tune with the rock and mineral of the earth, as opposed to the plants. The importance of this difference could not be overstated. For the Gemmenites and Humans, constructing artificial hills was a long and arduous process, involving many man days of hand labour. For the Drakken, while it still indeed involved many says labour, they were able to use their greater mastery over the rocks and earth to great effect in cutting these times short. Subsequently, any Drakken city or major fortification worth its salt had, if it did not have a natural hill or mountain to build a keep upon, an artificial hill upon which the citadel was erected, most often but not always near the centre. Attackers would then find, had they breached the outer city walls, that they were now facing a second siege within the city proper, forced to break through the citadel while being pelted with arrows from above. Care was taken to ensure that the towers of the battlements were substantially lower than the citadel, and the interior side of the wall lacked melons and crenel, leaving them open to attack from within.

The attackers frequently used earth mages of their own, of course; Along side siege engines such as catapults, earth mages in besieging forces would work to bring down sections of the enemies walls or exploit cracks created by siege weapons. Defending earth mages would seek to counter this damage. This mage, truthfully, Drakken earth mages the most crucial part of any siege; Fire mages may be able to burn the enemy, and air mages might be able to help redirect arrows and defend their comrades, but teams of earth mages were practically siege weapons in their own right. One of the hardest to defend against, if most time consuming, ways of defeating walls were through earth mages digging mines to sap enemy walls.

Naturally, many of the methods of combating normal tunnelling were frequently employed against these methods too. Moats maintained around walls of keeps frequently led to tunnels becoming waterlogged, sturdy stone foundations were more difficult to mine through and so we're preferred if possible, and counter tunnelling was exceedingly common. Tunnelling and counter tunnelling sometimes led to intense enclosed fights that were dangerous to all participants and frequently resulted in heavy losses on both sides.

Of course, the city being so low standing, even the citadel of Kazark was relatively diminutive, though it lost little of its potency as an imposing symbol all the same, standing taller than anything else for many miles around. Evening has already fallen and the setting sun cast now long shadows from the towers and ramparts of the citadel, giving shade to their approach along the road which road ran up to the city gatehouse. The structure possessed a portcullis at either end like most Drakken fortifications, with the interior of the gatehouse designed to allow attacks from above via murderholes. A handful of symbols adorned the outer wall of this gatehouse, heraldry of sorts for the Drakken ruling clan of Narasierre, a white coloured head of a male Aranz head on a field of black, its horned head lowered as if poised mid charge towards the onlooker.

The Narasierre clan held the ducal claim to the eastern marches of Drakka, collectively referred to as the duchy of Falia. They were often looked on as least of the dukes of Drakka; While there were some fixed settlements such as Kazark in ateas where farming was viable, these were the exception rather than the rule in Falia. Much of Falia was characterised by pastoral nomadism or transhumance, and as such supported a much thinner population. Many of these steppe tribes had traded with their agrarian neighbours for sustenance.Flocks of animals were regularly driven along by herders to graze on new grasslands and much of the Aranzian fleece or Dunar hide that was common in Drakken clothing came from this region.

Historically, however, some Steppe tribes had raided Drakken and non-Drakken alike, and even fought each other to steal food or battle for domination of the best grazing lands. The conquest of Falia by Drakka a century prior had put a brutal end to that; a Falian raiding party had hit a small town along the border regions, an action which usually would not have provoked an overly aggressive response, indeed for a long time it had been simpler for Drakka to simply pay off the more aggressive nomadic tribes than to fight them due to the difficulties in actually chasing them down to make battle.

Unfortunately, a Royal procession had been passing through the town on a tour of the estates and the youngest son of the Queen had been been badly injured during the raid. None knew for certain how he had been injured, and the stories varied; Some said that he had been beaten down by a warrior, others that he had simply been struck by debris from a burning building. Whatever had caused the fateful head injury, the boy was never the same again.

Queen Alaxia embarked on a bloody crusade of vengeance against the Falian tribes responsible - or at least, those she believed to be responsible. Kazark citadel was actually a result of this, the relatively small settlement on some of the only available farmland had been fortified and turned into a military outpost during the conflict. Many a Falian steppe nomad had been executed and displayed here during the conflict; Drakken sewn to their horses or Ganauts and nailed to the walls had been an exceedingly common method of execution.

It had taken a long time, but the 'taming of the Falians' had been completed and many of the nomadic tribes put to the sword. The clan Narasierre was descended from the leaders of the nomadic Naras tribe which had switched sides early in the conflict and assisted in the subjugation of their kin on exchange for power and riches. The depopulation of the region as a result of the genocides had allowed Narasierre to enjoy its new found domination without challenges from its former rivals, though it had also ensured that Drakka had the Naras firmly under their thumb.

Zakroti breathed in lightly as they approached, speaking aloud to the two Gemmenites "Kazark, capital of Falia. Zandre Narasierre rules here, elder of Clan Naras." Zakroti explained briefly to them, glossing over the part about betrayals and genocides. That would not exactly comfort them to know, he was sure.

He needn't have made such an introduction, for as soon as the procession had reached the gate they were stopped by armed guards who approached them, examining their banner for a few moments. Zakroti dismounted and approached the guardsman and there was a brief exchange between them regarding their arrival and requesting right to enter the city; Their entourage far exceeded the typical size expected of travellers and those coming too and from, and being more heavily armed than was permitted there were protocols which must be observed.

Of course, having left their horses here for retrieval, it was known in advance that they were coming, and being the distinguished heir to the holdings of House Unalim, he was not at all surprised when they were swiftly granted leave to enter. They dismounted and returned their mounts to the stables, and the group proceeded through the wide streets; a more than generous amount of space had been left between buildings, which was often fortunate for herders bringing their flock to market.

It was not a short walk to the gates of the citadel where they were to be allowed to stay, courtesy of the charity and kindness of Zandre Narasierre. Once they had reached the gatehouse of the citadel and ascended the winding ramp up to it, Zakdoti took a moment to admire it. It was far from the prime example of a citadel gatehouse, but was noticeably sturdier than the city gate itself. There was a slanted ramp like grove in the structure through which the roof of the interior could barely be glimpsed; Burning logs could be rolled down it during the case of a siege, cascading down the ramp and reeking havoc upon the assailants. For now, it was mercifully clear of such obstacles.

They passed through into a small inner bailey and, like most castles, space inside the citadel was at much more of a premium than the city; It was a keep, after all, and it was easier to defend a small area than a large one - not to mention, easier and cheaper to build. An elderly Drakken woman exited to greet them, passing across the courtyard at a brisk pace before giving Zakroti a polite bow. Her face was leathery and her grey hair was wispy, but she still held a dignified appearance about her, wizened almost. Zakroti removed his sword and scabbard from his waist as he approached her

"Lady Teanne Narasierre, it is my honour to be within your presence. In the eyes of the gods and ancestors, I surrender my sword and ask asylum under moon and star." Zakroti said, extending his hands up and giving a light bow as he offered the blade to the elder, which she accepted.

"The honour is ours as your host, in the eyes of the gods and the great spirit, I return your sword and grant asylum." Teanne replies, and Zakroti rose up again as he took his sword back and afixed it to his side once more. She raised her arm to point to the north of the courtyard. "The night is born. The dormitories for your men at arms aer there. You will have the guest Chambers, there are two rooms. One of your hearth-men may have the second for personal security. Please, follow me."

Zakroti nodded and briefly bid his men a good night, a relatively short warrior silently remaining with them as if predetermined. Zakroti turned to the two brides with light grimace. The wind blew softly into the courtyard and Zakroti raised his hand, causing a light flame to dance around his finger to help light up the way once he went inside.

Honestly, he didn't know what he'd do if he was a water or air mage instead of a fire and earth one. Needing to use candles and matches genuinely sounded so frustrating.

"So, it is up to you whether you wish to sleep in the guest room or the dormitories. I, for one, am not fond of sleeping in a chair, so it seems you're sharing with either myself or Narlemaewel if you chose the guest Chambers. I imagine the dormitories are somewhat less than idea either, given we just dumped a dozen extra men into them." He said simply, giving them a polite and almost jovial smile. It was not an ideal arrangement for the new brides, he understood that much. Especially Nenra, who seemed particularly loath to the idea. He suspected she'd likely be fine with rougher accommodations, though whether she felt like sharing public sleeping arrangements with the soldiers was another matter entirely!
"Indeed, well... Mother Vivari understands well enough that rigid adherence is not the source of success, but rather the ability to bend and adapt. He who will establish himself must yield according to circumstance; like the hard oaks of a forest, which, though possessed of great strength and built strong and tall, is soon broken by the storm-wind when it remains obstinately immovable. It does not understand the noble art of bending like the willow, which adapts and outlasts it." Zakroti replied with a light nod, standing up from the ground and appraoching the Ganaut again, rubbing his hand along its scaled head softly.

"Sometimes, one must fight, whether they would wish for it or not." Aurien affirmed as he stood up and shouldered his weapon cautiously, peering out over the horizon "Neither Drun nor Vivari favours those who stick to lofty notions over the blunt reality of war; It doesn't matter what the man was killed by a blade or arrow or the slinging of a spell, what matters is that he is dead and the battle is won."

Zakroti furrowed his brow lightly as Aurien spoke. He was right, of course, to put it bluntly the Gemmenite way of war was something he didn't quite understand. Oshweli fought with spell and sword and bow as happily as any other, yet the Gemmenites, it was said, bound themselves to fighting in a more 'civilised' manner by leaving aside those physical implements of war. Zakroti wondered, then, how they supposed they could be expected to win against enemies who wouldn't agree to tie one hand behind their back as they did; Playing fair was hardly to be expected from the enemy in times of war, and that the Gemmenites had managed to find themselves utterly under the thumb of the Drakken with little in the way of effective resistance would in his eyes make it obvious that the status quo was not wise. Perhaps they simply had no other way, and told themselves that it was for this reason than humiliate themselves by trying; He doubted that the Drakken would let the Gemmenites arm themselves enmasse now even if they tried to.

Zakroti turned again lightly in place to regard Nenra, smiling warmly to her as she elaborated upon the bundles of seeds she carried with her. She had sidestepped the other segment of his bait nimbly enough, but that would wait until another time. The servant moved forwards to collect the spent bowls and cups, rushing away again.

"By all means, keep them safe then until we finish our journey and arrive, I will be happily obliged to show you where they might be planted! I should very much like to see them growing at Mu'Jupostat. One day, perhaps, we will be able to try these fruits!" He declared with a small grin, guessing that would be quite some time before they sprouted fruits; Indeed, many of the trees often took four or five years. He could be patient, however, time had taught him that much. He had heard, of course, all manner of half-truths and rumours about Gemmenite gardeners, so he wouldn't dare to speculate on the matter at this time.

"Postat." Zakroti ordered again, causing the hulking lizard to set itself down on its belly once more. He swung himself atop it swiftly and peered towards the Gemmenite women, shifting in place to situate himself within the saddle "You should mount up, we have a long way left to ride."
Zakroti listened to Nenra carefully as she spoke, relating the story of the so called blessing disease. He was still ill at ease with this prospect, it was foolish of the Drakken to take anyone from these regions, particularly if their only argument against it was superstitions about it not travelling beyond its borders. Pestilence had little care for foolish superstitions in his experience, and the Mother could be a cruel mistress with her diseases, that much was true.

"If Vivari had wanted to protect you with a blessing, she'd have done better to bless you with military knowledge or a great marshal to lead the troops." Zakroti commented, eliciting a slight chuckle from Aurien who was sitting nearby.

Nenra went on to describe a plant, 'simple Garden weeds' she had called it. Great Mother's Roses. The name tripped him up a little at first but he soon settled on it. Naturally, he was not particularly familiar with such symbols of Gemmenite culture and so did not know the full extent of this little symbols spread- Not that the inkling of understanding he did have from osmosis and from the reaction of Aymiria caused him any particular distress regardless. The Oshweli were nothing if not experts in appropriation; Their culture, their infrastructure, their weapons, their society, even their very biology, vast swathes of it had been cut out of something else and imported into their own, warped sometimes beyond recognition as it was altered to suit a new purpose. The idea of subsuming such a plant and stripping it of its original connotations, perhaps even giving it new ones, would not strike the Oshweli as particularly unusual and if it worked to keep the peace with those he was incorporating into his household - and no doubt brought great prestige to the garden to have such exotic plants from the eastern side of the continent - why not?

"I have vague recollections of that flower from somewhere, but have never seen it first hand myself. Perhaps once you see the garden and speak to Ashvarg the two of you could come to a decision on such arrangements, to ensure the plants do not clash and compliment each other well. I can assure you we'll have plenty of water and time, though naturally I can't bring water from those rivers all the way across the continent- Although I should very much like to head that far east myself some day to see those lands and flora first hand, it is always described in such exotic and magnificient terms. The Gemmenites might object to a heavily armed warlord and his hearth troops marching around though, my Gemmenite is... not the sharpest of my languages, I admit." Zakroti said carefully, drinking from his cup again as he thought. It would be somethign to see, but it was risky to come even this far out these days and leave his holdings in the care of another. Political manouvrings consumed much of his time and energy, it was an inevitably part of being a lord in one of the most unstable periods of Oshweli history and left little time for pleasures. The expeditions they mounted now were of a far less cultural or scientific note, there were few stories of great lords who travelled off to the distant lands of Ptaz in search of the answer to the disappearance of the Dragons these days. No, all expeditions now served primarily military or economic interests; Invasions of the neighbouring provinces, wars against each other over who should be the ruler of a reforged dominion, forays into the lands of the Welebak in search of Frostglass to loot - and twist into weapons and armour, rather than the architectural great works they had once been used for.

"As for the Yugryn and the blightlands, again I have heard much about these beings but never seen them first hand. I am aware they're a problem the Gemmenite peoples face and that the Drakken provide- military assistamce, shall we say, in exchange for the trading of brides. Not that its so much a trade anymore as a tribute and obligation, as noted, given it sounds as though they protect you now with the same grace and intent a shepherd protects his lambs before leading them to the slaughter." Zakroti continued. The Blightlands. Everyone knew that tale, even in the war west- though perhaps they knew it only because the Oshweli had a tendency to remember their enemies failings. It was said that a network of great magical academies and universities had banded together to created a linked network of powerful crytals and magical energies, desigend to interlink all the great hubs of research of the east. This was in a time when Gemmenia was thrice the size it was now, and they were a proud people for certain.

The Academy of Natural Philosophy, the premiere magical institute of the Oshweli that was based within their capital city, had petitioned to join this project. Why wouldn't they, after all? The institute was still among the most prestigious and important on the continent and had been the centre of the then recently collapsed Unalim Dominion. Their knowledge would have been invaluable to the program and in turn they could have benefited much - indeed, perhaps there would have been knowledge that could have saved the crumbling Dominion from its fate.

The easterners did not see it this way, however; They rejected the petition and stonewalled the Academy, keeping it from assuming its position. This angered them greatly, naturally. So it was of little surprise when some members of the Academy took particular glee when news reached them of the distaster, that the linked acadmies had been involved in a major magical incident that straight up blew some of them to pieces- and which destroyed half of Gemmenia, transforming it into the twisted blightlands, killing the inhabitants and overruning it with the Yugryn. From the perspective of the Oshweli, this was an arrow they had been fortuitious enough to dodge and had been karmaic retribution from the gods for the snub.

Since then, Gemmenia had been reduced to a fledgling status, its influence over the Mannish kingdoms eradicated and it losing all its power, slowly becoming little more than a tributary to Drakka. Zakroti saw some parralels in this, and some Oshweli did see a kindred spirit of sorts in Gemmenia as another great former power that had lost its place in the world.

"Although where would we get the seedlings for the Great Mothers Roses? I suppose I'd have to import some from Gemmenia. That could be awkward and expensive, but doable... Although I am slightly wary of some of the cultural connotations, over in the west this is hardly as contentious as it would be in the east. Indeed, I myself have only a foggy understanding of it, perhaps you'd be so kind as to explain it? There's much of our symbology and culture that I imagine I will have to explain in time after all! What other plants do the two of you think might be fitting? My library undoubtedly has some books on the Gemmenian flora and fungi, but I don't think that the gardens of Mu'Jupostat have ever known the touch of a Gemmenite Garderner before." Zakroti finished, raising his brow lightly and smiling warmly to Nenra and Miry in turn; He was not joking about the symbols and culture, in truth he was eager to know more about the far east and he knew he would have to describe much about the West of Drakka, let alone the far western lands that they might have cause to visit some day in the future...
Zakroti peered back over towards the servant again, giving them a light nod and speaking.

"Vashaew gehdzi dzi zoreli a ayl."He said simply and then peered back to Nenra for a moment, shifting a little in place and furrowing his brow. "A plague, you say?"


Zakroti had not heard of such a thing, and part of him was concerned inherently. Surely if there was a plague rampaging through part of Gemmenia, they should not be taking brides from there? They should be quarantining it, by force if necessary. A plague could spread rapidly, and he did not wish to be importing such a thing to the west. Of course, if she was infected she'd almost certainly have shown symptoms by now, given the time gap between her being taken and arriving in his custody but that was besides the point.

The servant swept back over with a clink, handing them each a pewter cup that he had filled with water from one of the flasks of water the group had brought with them. It had grown relatively warm in the sun on their journey, but at least it was certainly clean water.

"Wredzieiz ayl, Pelataceni" The Servant said as he handed it to them with a light formal bow, before stepping away again almost as quickly and handing Zakroti another cup filled nearly to the brim with vakarum. "Wreeiz vakarum, arpen taki.


Pelatacen. Zakroti dwelt on the word for a moment, thinking about it. He doubted the literal meaning would impress the two Gems two much at all, but from his own perspective he realised and acknowledged how much that... sanitised their situation, he supposed. Pelataceni had entered into a voluntary agreement, one that had been negotiated and settled in advance and was usually temporary as an arrangement. A trade of sorts, the Drakken got to maximise the effectiveness of the unique gift that the drakken possessed to assimilate features from the other species, the Pelataceni received a considerable amount of wealth and support, even social capital...

That was not this... To cut through all the flowery prose, they were not voluntary partners in this arrangement. They were effectively slaves, objects who had been taken as spoils of war - or spoils of peace, as it were. Pelatacen was not a fitting word for this arrangement. There were terms for those women who had been taken by force instead; Lindenchurl. A compound word of linden and churl, breed and slave respectively, which alone betrayed its darker aspect.

Pelataceni it was then, he supposed. A pleasant lie rather than a brutal truth. That was how politics worked after all, was it not?

"If there's a plague, why exactly where the Drakken taking people from your village anyway?" Zakroti asked with a light note of bewilderment, softly shaking his head as he took a swig of his vakarum. The beverage was not overly strong, which suited him fine. He would have enjoyed it better had it been mixed with the juniper berries or spiked with a light hint of Wildfire Sandtrap sap, but he couldn't complain under the circumstances. The alcohol collection had hardly been top of his list of things to prepare for the long journey across Draka, after all. "I suppose I should not be surprised that they do not know the first thing about governance."

In truth, it was likely that the Drakken in question simply had no idea about such a plague. For all their strengths, the Drakken were hardly masters of mingling with the Gems, and news could travel slowly - slower than Drakken warriors trying to quickly reach their quotas. This system was a complete disaster one very level, this only confirmed that more for him.

"It doesn't sound boring, it sounds like a simple and fair enough life. I do hear that flora of Gemmenia is particularly beautiful and the few examples I have seen myself have certainly met that trend. The flowing fields must look quite beautiful when they're in bloom, though no doubt you get used to it if you've lived your entire life there. Things hardly seem exotic once you spend long enough around them, after all. I should see if we can't get some more plants imported for the Garden actually, I don't know if they'll grow in the conditions of the west but if they will, plants from Gemmenia may help to add some exotic new displays to the mix. Most of the plants come from the western side of the continent, as you'd expect, and from Drakka and the south east. Nothing particularly from the far east, perhaps that is something to rectify." Zakroti said, musing mostly to himself towards the end. Expanding the Garden at Mu'Jupostat would be something of an expensive investment, so he wouldn't get his hopes up too much, but it would be a prestigious one to be sure. Ever since the interregnum, most families in the west had been spending more on military matters and intrigue than on such cultural icons, and those who were able to spare the wealth to do so thus brought themselves a great deal of social capital. Social capital that might prove crucial; Before long his grandfather would pass on and the grand dream that his family had been working towards would fall to him to fulfil. Was the social capital worth the monetary investment? Perhaps, the reunification of the west would come about as much through diplomacy and hegemony as through pure military force, his Grandfather had explained that much to him. They'd not just frightened their opponents, they'd courted them. But it had cost them dearly, despite the love of the gods...
Zakroti peered back towards Nenra as she laughed. His lips curled upwards into a small smile, a gleam flashing over his reptilian eyes; He'd found something that she wanted to speak about, evidently speaking of home was not depressing for her but uplifting. The young lord shifted a little in place and let out a light nod and a smile of understanding "Sometimes the only winning move is not to play." He said in agreement to her comment that fighting back would have been a way to get the village massacred. He knew all too well that a village of 300 would be easily put down by the Drakken, and the Gemmenite lords would likely turn a blind eye to brutal suppression of such resistance - or perhaps actively take part in it, who knew what scores of their own some of these Gems had to settle with their own people.

"But come, tell me of your home village and land, and I shall speak of mine in turn!" Zakroti said jovially, clasping his hands together for a moment as his serjeant at arms took Miry's empty bowl from her and took it away to be washed and packed once more. Zakroti took his fork again and continued to eat what was left of Miry's- well, now his he supposed - soup. He would never object to more Reabak meat, though he supposed that it was a little tougher than what the Gemmenites were used to.

With that he peered back towards Nenra, eyes gleaming with eagerness at her response, probing questions passing through his mind. She had been a lot quieter than Miry, and while he now figured he had a better idea of how to help Miry settle in and acclimate to the new situation she would find herself in, the other Gem concerned him and he was eager to probe her to speak more and perhaps even build something of an understanding with her going forwards. After all, that was the easiest way to reduce the unpleasantness of the situation for her and problems for himself.

Zakroti glanced over to the Oshwel servant who had taken the bowl for a moment as he rummaged through the pack, and Zak spoke in his native tongue. It was more focused and firm, commanding and authoritative, evidentally he was more comfortable speaking within his native tongue. "Kree, vashaew o te zaren, vakarum cey enyal, naan zara maralok . Zela o epeew gehdzi zu gehdzi gaiar te zaren"


"Would the two of you like a drink? We should have a bottle of wine somewhere, and gin too, Or simply water, whatever you prefer. Failing that, I'm sure Gaikus could make a nice cup of tea for you if you so desire." Zakroti said with a small smile, ready to relay the instruction to his servant once again. He gave a light nod towards one of the black armoured bodyguards that accompanied him, whose helmet was off to reveal a fairly old looking Drakken who must have been pushing sixty to be sure, yet for all that he remained seemingly fit and healthy. He had two keen, beady brown eyes set into his sockets and whispy white hair that was long but had been oiled and slicked back into a top knot, giving him a distinctive style as opposed to the other Drakken. His features were different again to the other Drakken that were with them, his skin much paler looking with hints of grey to it, which admittedly gave him an almost corpse like bent to his appearance - particularly when taken with his advanced age. Despite that though, he gave them a kindly enough smile before he went back to playing with a small object made of various spheres, a puzzle of some kind perhaps.

Zakroti felt Miry wrap herself a little tighter around him and glanced down to her as she lay her head against his arm, smiling lightly to her "Are you sure you don't want the rest of your soup, we'll likely be riding again until evening. If we make good time we will actually get a roof over our heads so that will be good, hey?" Zakroti gave a light chuckle after speaking and sat back a little, glancing over towards their mounts for a moment and then forwards again. Most of the train had finished their meals now, in fairness, so they could begin again soon. The handlers were ensuring that the mounts were fed and not overworked, and if they set off again within the hour they would have made good time for the day if they kept up their current pace.
Zakroti chuckled softly as they peered towards Nenra "Not the bookish type, I take it." He replied with a light raise of his brow, examining her carefully from a distance with his reptillian gaze; She certainly seemed far from the bookish type, in fairness, a lower class woman to be sure, and a woman of the land at that. She was by far one of the strongest Gemmenite brides he had ever seen, though that in fairness was not frequently an area with much competition.

"What of your family, Nenra? I take it not all Gemmenite families have the same lack of committment to their own?" Zakroti asked curiously, shifting lightly in place to face a little towards her as he spoke, half expecting a short and curt reply from her, or else one that was obviously forced - perhaps not for lack of effort, but it was certainly obvious that she disapproved of him from her demeanour. Not that he blamed her, of course, he would have reacted quite the same in her position he imagined.

Zakroti Unalim looked back towards Miry again, watching her sign her replies to him intently. His understanding of their handsign was rusty, he could tell that much from how long it was taking him to decipher the meaning on occassion. He gave a soft nod and shifted in place.

"I'm sure you know much more than you think, some people simply think differently, recognise things that others don't." He replied with a reassuring smile. She lacked confidence, clearly, and gave herself far too little credit. Or perhaps she was simply scared and panicked still, given her circumstances, and feeling all too betrayed. She must have been a whirlwind of emotions, for there was no way one could have possibly remained calm and collected given all she had experienced recently. Indeed, that Nenra was able to remain so was a testament of strength in and of itself, he had to admit.

She went on to ask him who would be at his home, and his smile grew a little more jovial, followed by a soft laugh and a shake of his head "He won't be there no, I imagine he has more important business to attend to at court for now. He has more important things to do than scare you all day, do not fear. As for who will be there, well I could go through a lot of names, and scarcely reach the bottom of the lift. Many servants, from Xarxlosar the governess to Ashvarg the gardner and bringer of water, to my own guardsmen and the likes. You'll get to meet them all soon enough, a wide variety of people with a wide variety of origins and backgrounds, many of which will seem extremely foreign and exotic to yourseves I am sure. There are a handful of wards there whom I am responsible for, the children of a handful of relatives who were slain in the wars and who, for whatever reason, have been sent to live with myself in Mu'Jupostat. You'll get to know them soon enough too I imagine. Bright young things, they'll make fine lords and ladies of the family one day."

Zakroti deliberately left off that one of those brothers he had been involved in the slaying of, albiet indirectly through his men on the field of battle. It was probably for the best that they did not learn *just* yet of the struggle for succession that had followed his fathers passing, as it would likely not be too reassuring for them to learn that this was a land in which the children of a lord deciding to launch a war against each other over who deserves to be the inheritor due to his premature death which was onnly settled by bloodshed and - ultimately - the imposition of their liege in the form of their grandfather. In fact, far from it, he imagined it would only serve to put them more on edge, though for Miry he deemed such a thing frankly impossible.

"I'll have to explain some things to you as we go of course, and help you be prepared for when you meet them. Some of them are - ah - of very different kind to you and I in form and stature, and I would not like you to be startled. You might more surely offend them by involuntary shock than anything else, you had best prepare yourselves for sights that will seem very strange to you both." Zakroti said, glancing to nenra and Miry in turn. He wasn't exactly sure how he was supposed to break the news that he had been taught by a giant spider to them, he just hoped neither of them were arachnophobic, or that would be quite a terrible matter indeed "Of course, Mu'Jupostat is still a very far way away, and is a very different place from here. Less barren and lifeless for certain, I think I can impress you with some of our sights yet, there's more to this land than what these bare rocks would have you believe. We will have plenty of time to get acquainted on the journey."
© 2007-2017
BBCode Cheatsheet