Sylvia and Vivian were a bit taken aback by Bart's statement. They were sure that his immature way of dealing with the situation was a result of some unaddressed trauma. "Oh, well, sorry, we assumed that...you know what? never mind. I'm just glad that you're willing to try and reconcile with Neil. It will do wonders for the guild." With that, the sisters left Bart to his own devices and went down and joined the others for dinner, hearing their plans to attend a festival at the port, and use it as a way to get Bart and Neil to talk it out. It gave the sisters an idea...
In the morning, the sisters headed outside to check on the progress of some herbs that they had preemptively planted in the yard while the greenhouse was still under construction, and saw Neil negotiating with Forde. When he finished, they came up to Neil. "Good on you for standing your ground and insisting he pay us a second bag," Vivian said. She then followed him inside, but soon heard the sound of a horse. When the knight dismounted, Sylvia greeted him, "Yes, this is the Guild. Do you have a quest to post? We were planning on taking the holiday to attend to festival at Boreal Port, so I hope it's not urgent." Though she said this, she had a sinking feeling that the matter indeed was urgent.
Tessa nodded in silent approval as Alex explained his build. Admittedly, the group had too many tanks and off-tanks, so a dedicated damage dealer was a welcome addition. On the other hand Tessa's reaction to Eaudenil was a little more inscrutable; before when the game ran on a predictable program, scouting abilities and classes were all but useless, but now it might actually mean something. But waht actually bothered Tessa was quickly voiced, "So, Rael, whaddya think? I'm worried we don't have enough healing, although me and Eaudenil might be enough support to get by."
It sucked not having a healer, but Tiferet just left, and getting more people to join meant even more recruiting, and splitting the profits even more. There was also the issue of everyone making it back alive, and it wouldn't be prudent to take on more people than they can feasibly protect. "And you, Graves," Tessa added, "I'm pretty sure we can keep these squishies alive, and can probably add a few more. You think it's worth trying to find some more damage or an actual healer?"
Bart inhaled before sharply looking at the Altissima's sisters "I don't need to tell you that Varjo's dangerous. If I could have, I would have built the guild somewhere far away from here. But this was the best I could achieve. Years of preparation, saving up, cutting corners..." Bart trailed off. "I will not let anything happen to this guild. I will not let all my effort to get here go to waste."
"And if anyone wants to take this guild away from me, they can pry it from my cold, dead hands. Be they Varjo, or Neil, or whoever."
"That's the thing, nobody's trying to take this guild from you, at least Neil isn't. Sure, going against your wishes undermines your leadership, but you have to remember that he's a kid, and he looks at the situation from a place of emotion, not logic. If you want to change his mind, you have to appeal to that," Vivian began.
Sylvia continued, "Your reaction to this whole thing shows that you're using pragmatism to hide your actual reasons. If it was just about the guild's safety, you wouldn't be getting so worked up about it. You would be able to sit down calmly and talk it over with Neil. But right now, when you explain your reasons, people can tell it's not sincere, which makes your argument less convincing. And just giving everyone the cold shoulder who doesn't agree with you weakens your position as guildmaster." Sylvia was only guessing right now, but she pushed ahead, "If you...tell Neil how Varjo has hurt you in the past, maybe Neil will realize how much his stubbornness has hurt you and will be more willing to compromise. Yes, you are the guildmaster, and to a certain degree, you're supposed to be above us, but we would rather that you were one of us, and rather than working for you, we would prefer that we were helping you."
The sisters hoped that Bart would divulge what his actual beef with Varjo was, and maybe they could finally get to the bottom if this.
As Gil listened to Wisemon explain the books and who they represented, he commented to no one in particular, "Vulcanusmon, huh? Symbolized by an anvil? He sounds strong and tough, but it also sounds like he builds things. Sounds like a god I can get behind."
But what happened next surprised Gil, and when Chessy pointed out Wisemon's instability, Gil under-reacted with an, "Oh dear. Umm, yeah, we can take the books since they're so important to you, but is there another administrator or librarian who you trust us to deliver these books to?"
Taiji for his own part was completely out of his depth. The constant harsh speaking, the accusations, the sheer amount of people and things. It was all they could do to put hands over their ears and drown it out, repeating the mantra of his life on its customary endless loop, this time kneeling down beside Gilgamesh and putting a hand on their back. Watching Wisemon shred themself was painful, it was infuriating and frightening at the same time, but worse yet; it was familiar. They were having an attack of some sort for all Taiji could really tell. Which meant they needed help. Forget the threats of before. Maybe that was why they lashed out? their safe place was violated or something right.
"Gil.. lets get this book somewhere safe. I'll hold onto it, but we need to help this guy don't we? Do you know if there is anything we can do."
"I-I don't know what there is we can do to help," Gil said, though he left out an important piece of information. The only thing Gil knew about data corruption was that the corrupted Digimon was usually put down so that their data could be reborn, but Gil wasn't sure if Taiji could stomach that bit of information. "His...condition...did seem to get worse when he tried to touch one of the books, so perhaps getting the books as far away as possible might be the only thing we can do to help? Who knows, he might get better." Doubtful, but there was never anything wrong with wishful thinking.
Taiji couldn't refute the logic. This whole thing was beyond his depth to an unimaginable degree but Gil seemed to have the right of it. If these books WERE the problem, they'd get them as far away as possible and hope this Wisemon guy would get over whatever was hurting him. Almost as an afterthought, Taiji took one of the bottles of medication and siphoned out a half dozen pills, leaving them in a little cap on the floor as close to Wisemon as he felt comfortable doing and backed off with equal speed back to Gil, the last bastion of sanity around here.
"Alright. Lead the way cause we're gettin' the hell out of here!"
Noticing Taiji giving the distraught Wisemon his 'candy', Gil gave Taiji a thumbs-up, though it was a slightly awkward gesture for a creature standing on four legs. But as people began deciding which exit to take, the answer was clear in Gil's mind. He was pretty sure the portal led to the 'human world', since these humans, who knew nothing of the digital world, came from said portal. Though Wisemon had requested they take the books away, there was someone who Wisemon had requested they take the books too, and that individual sounded like a digimon living in the digital world.
"We take the library exit," Gil said to Taiji, though the message was intended for the entire group, "We have a promise to fulfill." Gil made for the exit, avoiding the portal.
The battle post-mortem ended on a wholly unsatisfying note. It was clear Graft wanted changes as Salem did, but the director had fallen silent and merely waited for everyone to leave. If anyone agreed with Salem's opinion, they hadn't voiced it, nor come together to find a way to move on from the shackles of the past. If anything, one of the Shrine's mikos dared confront Salem. Hovering, Salem had merely looked down at her wordlessly, wondering if it wasn't better to be rid of an abusive creator, than to have lost a loving one? A question that would have to be explored at a later time, as Rodias slinked off to resurrect Ratta, and Salem went on to fulfill their promised mission of retrieving Isolde.
Salem started by heading to the Chamber of Imaginary Numbers, where the doll found the ESPER Wings, and inquired about Isolde's last reported location. Given the ESPER Wings more straightforward AI, they didn't offer to help retrieve Isolde, which suited Salem just fine as it gave the doll time for a ponderous hover through the forests surrounding the Chateau, something the doll had only glimpsed briefly through the eyes of the deployed replica rats and birds during the little spies' journeys to Amberden. Still, finding Isolde wasn't exactly a quick affair; Salem didn't speak 'fighter pilot' and the directions the ESPER Wings gave involved 'headings', degrees, 'clicks', and clock numbers. But a woman-sized statue in the middle of a forest wasn't too hard to spot, especially after Salem stumbled across the fairly narrow but long swath of destruction that Isolde and Morgan's flight-path had wrought. Despite being petrified, Isolde maintained excellent posture, contrary to how people were usually depicted when being turned to stone; cringing in fear. Right before lifting Isolde up for transport, Salem humorously remembered how Isolde had reacted suspiciously and guardedly to the assumption of having been touched while unconscious by Rodias and having her 'chastity' spoiled. Of course, Salem wasn't going to 'touch' Isolde at all; the image of Salem using their arms to carry Isolde by gripping under her armpits was incredibly embarrassing and demeaning to Salem. Making a motion of their hand, Salem instead lifted Isolde off the ground using telepathy, and floated her back to the castle to seek out Aurora, who had seen her fair share of visitors today, but that was the lot in life of healers. However, Salem didn't need Aurora's skills, merely access to her stores of potions, finding the panacea that the late Mamoru clone had applied to Rodias to rid him of his petrification. Uncorking it, Salem unceremoniously poured the contents out over Isolde's head, and left Isolde in Aurora's care; besides, Salem had a bone to pick with a certain fox priestess.
Arriving at the entrance to the Shadowtower Shrine, Salem knocked politely, announcing their arrival. No doubt, Ashara would have returned by now, which was exactly what Salem wanted.
The floating doll's arrival had not gone unnoticed. But unlike most other guests, who would receive a formal reception from all of - or most of - the priestesses at the shrine, nobody seemed to have bothered to come greet Salem as they arrived. Then again, the battle with Morgan and the whole ordeal at the Climax Hour hadn't been long ago, and many of the miko who had partaken in Mikoto's communal prayer were likely fast asleep or recovering at the moment. In fact, barely any of the priestesses were even out and about, and those who were seemed extremely preoccupied.
As Salem knocked on the door to the head shrine, there was a muffled call from inside, followed by soft footsteps. The main shoji-styled screen door slid open without a fuss, and Salem was greeted by a familiar face - Mikoto. At first, the three-tailed blonde fox-girl seemed surprised, blinking a few times as to assure herself that the person in front of her was actually there. Soon thereafter though, her expression turned from questioning to a more stern and apparently discontent one.
"Lord Salem... What brings you here?" Mikoto asked, not having opened the doorway fully, nor moving aside to allow entrance, nor had she let go off the door either - ready to slide it shut at a moment's notice again.
Salem hadn't expected to immediately meet the very shrine maiden that gave the doll lip earlier, but Salem cracked the widest grin the doll could manage to hide any expression of surprise. Salem was actually here to make an attempt to make amends, but that didn't mean Salem couldn't be creepy about it, and keep some of the doll's monstrous dignity. "I've finally 'deigned' to visit the Shadowtower Shrine!" Salem announced bombastically, but then quickly adopted a more metered tone, "But defensive sarcasm aside, your words in the Climax Hour made me think that perhaps I haven't done my part to keep this rickety chateau from falling to pieces. In fact, the only Chapter besides my own that I've visited is The Factory, and well, that ended poorly, and is part of the reason I see 'skeletons in closets', as it were."
"Or nightgaunts in closets," Salem thought to themself, though at this point, Salem had all but openly accused Brushen Penn of abusing Tabula for sport, and wondered if there was even still a point in keeping their word to not air out the dirty laundry of Graft's creator.
"BUT! I shouldn't let one sour interaction prevent me from still trying, should I? And if we're going to keep this ship afloat, we're going to have to work together, so I figured the first thing I could do is apologize for indiscriminately slinging mud at Lady Deka_Ribbon." of course, Salem had already forgiven themself of trying to blackmail Graft, which was what led Graft to insult Salem in the first place, but such was the whimsy of a childish doll. "Of course, given the state of things, since I'm here, I would like to speak with Lady Ashara and probe her thoughts."
Mikoto listened to Salem's words, yet her face and demeanor didn't change. Although for most an actual apology from Salem would be cause for alarm, it was hard to tell what she was thinking, but it seemed she either didn't believe Salem was sincere, or she was just unwilling to give up her apparent discontent at his presence. Of course, it could also just have been a matter of selfishly wanting to spend time with Ashara, now that she had returned from her mission with Gromgard and Chompy Bits. Still, before the blonde fox could speak, a voice from deeper inside the head shrine called out.
"Mikoto? Do we have a guest?" The unmistakable voice of Ashara called out. This caused the fox in the doorway to sigh, and slide the door open, relinquishing entry to the floating doll.
"Yes, milady. Lord Salem is here to visit you." Mikoto called back, before turning to look at Salem and making a motion with her hand to invite him in. "If you're here to meet Lady Ashara, follow me." She said, with the bare amount of politeness she needed.
Salem would thus be led into the shrine. It was a simple yet elegant place. The woodwork of the floor, walls and ceiling were all very intricate and detailed, yet did not stand out as flashy or gaudy, but not overly simple or rustic either. There were small, ornate decorations around as well of course, like painted vases on small pedestals, calligraphy paintings on the walls and of course, the colored paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Salem was led through two hallways, before finally reaching another set of screen doors, that Mikoto opened for him, though she entered in front of him and took a step to the side, standing next to the wall just inside the doorway.
Sitting in this central room, was Ashara. Sitting on her knees as usual, she had disrobed her haori, which hung around waist and legs like a blanket or towel. Fortunately, with the combination of her long hair, and the convenient placement of some of her many tails, she was covering up her bouncy bits so as to not look indecent in front of her guest. Well, indecent as in completely exposed and naked. Notably though, she seemed to have some kind of oil or lotion smeared on either side of her torso, and there were a set of red marks along the side of her ribs - likely from the squeezing she had received from the cult leader earlier today.
At Salem's entrance, Ashara smiled and politely bowed her head slowly.
"Welcome, Lord Salem. What might bring you by these parts at this hour?" She said, raising her head and smiling sincerely, with her snow white hair gently framing her face.
"Lord Salem said he deigned to finally visit us, and wished to speak with you, milady." Mikoto said, obviously irritated by Salem's earlier choice of words, not seeming to have acknowledged it as a sarcastic joke.
"Oh, is that so?" Ashara didn't seem to catch on to Mikoto's sour disposition or insinuating cadence. "Well then, go ahead and ask away, Lord Salem. I shall do my best to answer whatever inquiries you may have." The nine-tailed fox said earnestly, smiling at the Chapter Keeper without nothing but genuine earnestness.
Upon arriving at the central room and noticing Ashara in a state of undress, Salem quickly rotated their body to face away. As someone designed with a penchant for pretending to be human, Salem had to understand human standards of decency. Though Ashara's obscured nudity did not bother Salem, Salem assumed that Ashara, as a shrine maiden, valued her chastity. Hell, even Isolde valued hers even though she, like Salem, was a construct. If nothing else, it could at least be taken as a sign of respect, something that seemed to be sorely lacking in the Chateau recently. Granted, Salem was not really in a place to criticize others for irreverence, but if the doll wanted to make things work again, someone had to start showing some willingness to bend and give.
But as Mikoto explained Salem's reason for being here, Salem silently raised an eyebrow at her, wondering if she had missed the point of the doll using those words because she had used them to accuse Salem prior. "Your maiden speaks true," Salem began, deciding to just drop the issue of word choice, "Though I had no idea that you had sustained such injuries. I didn't think anything out there could pose a threat to you, and even if it did, I had thought Lord Gromgard would do his job and keep you protected." Salem slapped themself on the forehead; so much for having 'resolved' to be more respectful to the peers of the Chateau. "If this is a bad time, I can come back at a later date, but given that you were likely part of Graft's Collect Call, you no doubt heard what happened during the attack and the...discussion that occurred afterwards. I assume you have your own opinions on the matter, and given the fractured state of the Chateau, I think it's important now that all voices are heard."
Once Salem had voiced their initial statement, Ashara simply kept smiling at the floating doll.
"There are plenty of people and things stronger than I, Lord Salem. These injuries are just proof that I was foolish and reckless, nothing more." The fox unabashedly stated, putting no blame on Gromgard - despite his rather miniscule contribution in the fight. At the further comment about the collect call and the proceedings there within, Ashara's smile faded somewhat though, but still remained.
"Yes, I did. To my ears, it was quite similar to the first meeting that Lord Rodias called when we first arrived in this strange new world." She said, almost in a reminiscent fashion as if her mind was taking a stroll down some long lost memory-lane. "But I am afraid I do not quite understand what it is you wish to hear from me." Ashara then added, looking at Salem with a slightly puzzled expression.
Salem scratched the back of their head, Ashara wasn't giving the doll much to work with here, "You're right it's like the first meeting, which means that we're essentially back to where we started. Worse off, if you think about it, because at least during the first meeting, Lord Rodias had at least asserted himself and assigned us all tasks; this time he's just...moping. I don't have a good head for administration. Despite being a Chapter Keeper, the City of Lost Things sort of just runs itself. So I can't come up with any solutions to the fact that our Chateau is falling apart. In my opinion, there are several individuals who do have the administrative capability, but those individuals, unfortunately, include Graft and Chuunitrixx, who seem to want to just go it alone and do their own thing. Graft won't work with you unless you sell your soul to him, and Chuunitrixx is...touchy? I don't know what her deal is. The other two in my mind are Kaldorna and Mamoru, but Kaldorna's suggestion for a council won't currently work since I doubt Graft and Chuunitrixx will agree to sit at Kaldorna's table, and while Mamoru might administer her maids and butlers well enough, her inherent laziness leaves something to be desired. To be frank, I want to support Kaldorna, but I'm afraid that doing so will only further alienate Graft and Chuunitrixx, so I am trying to survey the members of the Chateau, starting with the least belligerent, that is, you." After finishing, Salem clenched and unclenched their fist while looking at it, a light rattling could be heard throughout Salem's body as the parts connected only through telekinesis impinged on each other. Salem was nervous and agitated, and not doing a great job of hiding it. Salem pretended not to care about Bandersnatch or the Sable Lords, but the Chateau was home, and despite themself, Salem was attached to this place and couldn't bear the thought of losing it.
"I am afraid I do not have much in the way of a solution, Lord Salem." Ashara said apologetically, as she looked at the doll with sincerity. "My duty has always been to patrol the Chateau and assist in any possible way I can, when the time or situation requires me to. I have no experience or knowledge about governance or leadership, for that was not what I was born for." The nine-tailed fox explained. She looked over to Mikoto, who was still standing to the side of the doorway, back against the wall, and smiled. Then she looked back to Salem.
"However, what I can say is that I believe the discord within our walls stem from this newfound and so-called freedom of ours." She paused momentarily, her many tails gently swaying to and from as she thought of her next words. "My duty is, and has always been, very obvious. Lady Deka_Ribbon went to great lengths to ensure that I understood and had a firm and clear understanding of what she expected from me... From all of us." She glanced at Mikoto again. "I cannot speak for the rest of our fellow Chateau-residents however. I do not know how their creators instructed them nor to what degree they taught and disciplined their creations. But it would seem, at least in my own eyes, that many of our peers have their own idea of what or how the Chateau should be run and ruled." Her words trailed off.
Ashara didn't often speak this much. She also usually didn't talk about others in a way that would paint them negatively. Although, in truth, her words weren't really meant as insults or criticisms, but rather her view and feelings on how the others were acting. The fox-girl wasn't a person of particular influence or power, nor was she ever intended to be - Ashara was, in a sense, just a highly skilled soldier when you boiled things down to the most simple terms. She had no knack for politics or diplomacy, because she wasn't designed for those things.
"However." Ashara then added, straightening her posture and looking Salem in the eye - their true eye, the true Salem. "There is one thing I can tell you for certain, Lord Salem. Just as I swore at the first meeting. Lord Rodias has mine, and the whole of the Shadowtower Shrine's, complete loyalty. No matter what, he is the only Master we will ever serve." Ashara's words were very resolute and full of conviction. It was clear that despite how Rodias may have shrunk and appeared weak in the eyes of the other members of the Chateau, Ashara's opinion of the dhampir had not faltered in the slightest. Her devotion and allegiance was undeniable. She smiled then, a gentle and warm smile.
"After all, he is our dear Lady's precious and cherished friend."
Ashara's point about the purpose of her creation made Salem visibly uncomfortable. Salem's purpose wasn't so clear-cut, and had changed from moment to moment depending on Dr.Drd's mood. Even if Salem's purpose was more well-defined, did Salem really want to be restricted to a role assigned by someone like Dr.Drd?
When Ashara spoke directly to the Eye of Dread, Salem surmised that she was suspecting the doll of disloyalty and insurrection. Salem couldn't deny that the thought was being considered, but as far as Salem was concerned, there were other, more pressing internal threats. "Well, that's the thing, I'm sure everyone wants to help and support Lord Rodias, but everyone's got their own funny way of going about it, haven't they? Chuunitrixx loves Rodias to death, but will point her gun at everyone in the Cheateau at little to no provocation and continues to expand to the point of choking out the other Chapters. Graft worships Rodias as a member of his precious 'Board', yet constantly seems to be 'testing' Rodias in some manner, while holing himself up in his laboratory, strengthening his new pet. Your passive loyalty means nothing in the face of our more ambitious colleagues. Combine that with Lord Rodias' generally acquiescent nature and we are already seeing that his authority is being severely undermined. If you're waiting for him to tell you what to do, then you'll be waiting until either Graft or Chuunitrixx have taken over the Chateau. Perhaps those are alternatives that I can live with, but I assure you, it is not my disloyalty that you should be questioning."
Salem paused, feeling that they had reached some sort of impasse. "Look, one reason I came here is because of what your little shrine maiden said to me. You, and all of the Shadowtower Shrine apparently, love Lady Deka_Ribbon. Your maiden accused me of looking for 'skeletons'. Perhaps, but I have three strong pieces of evidence to suggest that the Sable Lords were not all saints. Rodias idolizes the other Sable Lords, and claims to cherish us as their children. But I know for a fact that many of the Sable Lords hated each other, or at least had very strong disagreements; God knows Dr.Drd hated everything, it's probably why he disappeared first. But maybe, as 'superior' beings, despite their differences, they were able to work together, and Rodias is probably hoping that despite our differences, we can work together too. And we did in the past, when we were held on such short leashes by our creators, but now with them gone, it is becoming increasingly glaring that they poured all their spite and arrogance into our creation, and none of the cooperativeness. Well, for some of us at least, maybe Lady Deka_Ribbon was the exception, or maybe Dr.Drd and the others were the exceptions. The point is, until Lord Rodias wakes up from this delusion, he will forever be bound by this vain hope that we'll all come together without his intervention. If we really are the 'children he adopted from his friends', then...he needs...to start...disciplining his children..."
Why won't you work the way you're supposed to? I made you perfectly, what's wrong with you? Another failed attempt, destroy it and start over. The other 'Lords' rejected my proposal, you're all useless.
Words flooded Salem's memory. Though Salem didn't particularly like the proposed solution, it was unfortunately the only solution Salem knew. Abuse is, after all, cyclical. "And as someone who has professed undying loyalty to Lord Rodias, and whose job it is to hunt down and destroy threats within the Chateau, you need to act when Lord Rodias is too weak to make a decision, you have a responsibility to discipline Chuunitrixx, and Graft, and Kaldorna...and me...for overstepping our bounds, for behaving in ways that undermine the Lords, for even considering thoughts of insurrection." Salem rattled much more loudly now, and though for the majority of the conversation, the doll had their hands folded behind their back, now they had lost their composure and had their hands out in front of them, palms up, fingers slightly curled, almost pleading.
Ashara looked at Salem, as the doll seemed to grow more and more agitated the longer it spoke. She of course listened to what it had to say, and perhaps she agreed - or at least understood - what the point of its view was. However, what Salem failed to realize was that Ashara was, by nature, neither proactive nor capable of performing the duty he was requesting of her. She closed her eyes, a solemn expression coming over her face, as she opened her eyes and looked at the poor thing before her.
"Lord Salem. Do you believe that complaining about, or arguing with, others mean that you hate them?" She asked, tilting her head slightly to one side. "I cannot speak for the other creators or how they acted, but there were multiple times when our lady Deka_Ribbon was upset and even spoke harshly about the other Sable Lords and members of Bandersnatch. Yet, even so, despite her bouts of anger or displeasure, she remained where, together and by their side." She paused momentarily. "Saying harsh words or being upset with others does not always mean you hate those who have earned your ire. I want to believe that, had your Master, Dr.Dnd, truly hated his fellow Sable Lords and Bandersnatch, he would not have stayed with them as long as he did... Nor would he have bothered to make such an impressive guardian as yourself to keep the Chateau safe." Ashara said, now smiling warmly, in a motherly or perhaps sisterly fashion.
She then proceeded to gently rub the left side of her ribs, making a slightly pained face. It wasn't that the injury was severe or anything, but it stung and felt awkward - a constant irritant that gnawed at the fox. Still, she soon focused back on Salem once more, after having received a worried look from Mikoto.
"As for my duties... Well, I believe you overestimate both my strength and my capabilities, Lord Salem. My duties have always been to guard and protect the Chateau from invaders, not internal strife, and even if I were to pursue investigations of disloyalty, there is very little I could do. Lady Chuunitrix far outmatches me in terms of power, and I am loathe to say so, but I fear she does not hold me in any kind of regard or has any respect for me or my opinion. Lord Graft, on the other hand, I may best in terms of martial prowess, but he is a far wiser and more cunning person than I will ever be. Were he to harbor these thoughts of disloyalty, I dare say I would be unable to spot them, as surely he would simply conceal them in a clever way. And as with lady Chuunitrixx, I fear he does not hold my opinion in very high esteem." She paused and let out a small sigh. "As for Lady Kaldorna, she has many skilled and capable subordinates, along with powerful pets and beasts. She is also quite eccentric and flamboyant, which sad as it may be, makes it very difficult for someone like me to properly gauge her meaning and intent. As such, while it is my duty to protect the Chateau, as far as doing some from any internal threat, I fear that I am woefully inept and unqualified. Ashara finished, apologetically, bowing her head for not being able to live up to Salem's perceived view of her.
Still, what she had said was all true. In a fight, Chuunitrixx could most definitely beat Ashara. Graft was far more intelligent than she was, and Kaldrona was just a big old ball of energy and mystery - at least to Ashara. Still what the doll had said about Rodias did not sit well with the head priestess, so she began to add her final piece.
"Also, while I understand that you wish for swift action from our Lord, please do not be to harsh on him. You must not forget that our Lord Rodias is a kind soul, he has treated us as he has because he wishes to value and show generosity to the creations of his friends. Even if what you say is true, and not all Sable Lords thought so highly of each other, that does not change that Lord Rodias felt that way about them. Even if one side does not reciprocate feelings, that does not make the other's feelings false or meaningless, Lord Salem." Ashara explained her view on the matter. "I would not worry about Lord Rodias' current state. I have faith that he will rise to take charge of the situation." She said, apparently confident that Rodias' bout of depression was going to end on its own. "Besides, if Lord Graft or Chuunitrixx were to ever try and claim the Chateau as you say, well, I would naturally stand in their way, and I am certain that I am not the only one. Lady Isolde, I have found, has always been a strong and adamant ally to all of the Sable Lords and Bandersnatch, unshakable in her resolve and dedication to them. Along with her, I believe, although I have only met her once or twice, that Madame Charme is also a very dedicated and genuine person... Even if she comes off as a bit, well, prickly." Ashara laughed softly at the last part of sentence, as if remembering something amusing.
"Finally, Lady Kath is a wonderful person, who I believe will always stand by the side of our Lord." She paused again, then looked at Salem, her smile full of genuine affection. "And then there is you, Lord Salem. You may speak harshly sometimes, or say things others might question or interpret in a negative light... Yet here you are, showing concern for both our Lord and our home, even going so far as wanting to be observed and reprimanded if need be." Ashara rose, pulling her haori up and getting herself dressed, before walking over to stand next to Salem. "So, even if there are those among our peers who may plot and scheme for what they want the Chateau to be, you need not be overly worried. Our Lord, our home, has many staunch allies and defenders who remain true to it, and to each other. I am certain that Miss Mamoru, Miss Flan, Sir Gromgard, kind Zouyu and even Lady Violet and Sir Talim are all united in their desire to serve Lord Rodias and the Chateau. But if you still have doubts and woes in your heart, good Lord Salem, then I suggest you visit them as you did with me, and hear their thoughts and voices." The fox smiled. "After all, you are far more capable of seeing others' intent than I."
Salem fell silent. The doll wanted to object to so many things, but Ashara had stated her points quite clearly, and Salem didn't have tear ducts with which to cry. Salem didn't like the waiting, nor the feeling of escalation within the guild, but Ashara's advice to visit the other members was what Salem had planned to do anyways, and perhaps it was too early to choose a solution before having acquired sufficient information.
Salem finally heaved a deep sigh, as if in relief. "There's so much suspicion going around right now, that I'm afraid a visit from me will be taken as a spying attempt, though I would be a hypocrite if I didn't recognize my own suspicions. But visiting the others was my plan before this, so I might as well follow through with it." Salem looked around at the shrine's elegance. "If nothing else, I'll get to see the artistry and craftsmanship that our creators put into the various Chapters of the Chateau, though I doubt anywhere is as nice as here." Salem gave Ashara a rare, soft, weak smile, devoid of sarcasm. The doll looked over at Mikoto, and silently bowed their head slightly in acknowledgement and apology, then turned back to Ashara. "Well, thank you...for your time and our advice. I'll be taking my leave now."