Blu rested his chin on his left hand and drummed his right fingers on the arm rest. On the throne, he sat with his right ankle resting on his left knee. To his right stood Pak, Grant, and Marcuz with his constant companion perched on his shoulder. Still perched, Windrift spread his hawk wings and gave out a harsh "kak, kak, kak" at the perched falcon in the rafters. Gron was absent but his counsel was not needed for this meeting; he was probably off in one of the sorcery towers concocting another explosive mixture. Virge was also not present but this was due more to the person who requested an audience with the half-elf king than anything else.
Tyrol Wildard stood before Blu. Tyrol was the youngest of the Wildard brothers; the two eldest of which, Merrick and Lucien, ran a gambling operation that Virge owed large sums to and the next oldest, Devon, was the leader of a mercenary company. Tyrol had recently ascended to the chairperson position in the Society of Free Merchants, a shift in leadership of the thieves guild that had more to do with the older Wildard brothers than Tyrol himself. They were far more persuasive, more so physically, than the former chairperson's opposition to the change. Unlike his older brothers, Tyrol was clean shaven, except for a well-groomed moustache and goatee. He usually sported a pompous smirk, due more to the Wildards' reputation than his own accolades. However, now in place of Tyrol's constant smirk was a stiff lip. He stood with with an also stiff neck to hold his head high and straight, if not a bit cocked to the right. It was an obvious, albiet unsuccessful, attempt to project a righteous, unyielding and undeterred demeanor; his eyes gave him away. His eyes darted fugitively to Windrift whenever the hawk moved or made a sound.
Tyrol was also often well dressed but today was sporting a dark green, hoodless cloak, hiding the clothing underneath. Because of this, Grant kept a hand steadily on his sword. And, under his own cloak, Marcuz had a crossbow trained on Tyrol on the off chance that the guards had not secured Tyrol's weapons.
The young Wildard threw back his cloak and crossed his arms, revealing what he had hidden carefully until this moment: a neatly pressed gold outfit with red trimming. It had a short, red glittery collar and its buttons were ruby jewels. Gold tassles hung from the shoulders and an empty scabbard on his left hip. "I dema..."
Pak bit his lip in an attempt to stifle a chuckle. Was this Tyrol's attempt to make a statement about his own worth and prestige? The others did not have the same self-composure. Marcuz muttered with a laugh, "No wonder he had it under cloak. What self-respecting thief would appear in public wearing that?" Grant guffawed and, noticing the empty scabbard, removed his hand from his sword.
Blu didn't laugh and didn't smile but did stop drumming his fingers. He straightened himself up in his chair and linked his hands together, resting his elbows on the arm rests. Blu stared squarely at Tyrol and deadpanned, "You demand what?"
Tyrol, deflated by the reaction to his outfit and Blu's glaring look, took a step back. And while trying to pull back his cloak over his shoulder, the young Wildard stammered, "I...not demand...I mean...request...yes I request...ummm I...didn't you get my request, m'lord?"
Keeping his elbow on the arm rest, Blu swung his open right hand towards Pak. Pak handed him the rolled parchment and said loud enough for Tyrol to hear, "More of a complaint than a request if you ask me."
Blu kept the parchment rolled in his hand. "Tyrol, I know you are new to the position. But what is our agreement with your...society?" The half-elf paused but, before Tyrol could sputter out an answer, said, "Safe harbor. The Society of Free Merchants were given safe harbor in the Dalesland, so long as your members performed services for us upon request. Safe harbor, so long as your members kept their grubby hands off of Daleslanders and their property. And, what good Tyrol, was the last condition?"
Tyrol lowered his head and shuffled his feet. He muttered under his breath. "No transgressions against DoW kingdoms and their inhabitants."
Blu spoke loudly but through clenched teeth. "Speak up Tyrol. We. Can't. Hear. You."
Tyrol looked up with fire in his eyes. He was a Wildard and no one, not even the Dalesland king, would address him as if he was an imbecile. "You and your ridiculous conditions! Services, fine! No transgressions in the Dalesland, fine! But for you to expect us to keep our enterprises out of other kingdoms is just aburd. We have to make a living too!" Tyrol huffed.
It was Blu's turn to explode but the half-elf king took a deep breath. Tyrol had more passion in him than his predecessor. More than just passion, he had ambition. They would need to keep a close eye on his reign in the Society of Free Merchants. Blu could resolve the potential problem now and, with a signal, have Marcuz settle it with a crossbow bolt. But such rash actions are not the actions of a prudent king. He exhaled. "But not on the backs of our people or our allies. It was your Society who came to us for safe harbor, not the other way around. The conditions remain as absurd and as ridiculous as they are. Your request is denied."
Tyrol's jaw dropped. He did not expect his request to be summarily dismissed. "But Dogs of War don't even exist anymore. And the Ky.."
"The Dogs of War don't exist?" Blu interrupted. He stood up and removed the Blade of Aalin from its sheath. "My sword disagrees with you. And will swiftly and harshly disagree with your neck, if such words slip out of your thieving mouth once more." He pointed the sword at Tyrol. "Don't make that mistake again." It was partially true though. The Dogs of War was an inactive guild. He like his other guildmates had returned to their kingdoms to attend to personal matters. And there was still no word that Blaze had returned from the Alpha's religious retreat. His own DoW emblem hung alongside his traveling cloak in the closet; they have been hanging in there for awhile, for too long awhile.
Tyrol threw his hands up, with his palms out towards Blu. He cowered before the Blade of Aalin and winced as the half-elf king continued to glare at him. "Apologies, m'lord. I misspoke..." He had promised his brothers and thier mother to handle this negotiation as graceful as possible. But already he had invoked the Dalesland king's anger at least twice. He feared a third time would be one too many. "And what of the Kyanos Faction? Your assistance in the matter would be greatly appreciated."
Blu sheathed the Blade of Aalin and sat down. "According to your own report, this Kyanos Faction are made up of your own people. Your internal disputes are yours to handle."
"But their leader Lapis is an outsider! And I'm losing people to him because he pledges no restraint on trade! Your restraints! And...' A bright idea flashed in Tyrol's mind. "...And it's these people, these traitors! They've transgressed against your allies. Not members of the Society," Tyrol added slyly. He was smirking now, almost beaming.
Blu returned the young Wildard's smirk with one of his own. "I'm glad you brought that up and saved us the trouble of doing so." Blu looked to his right, at his Captain of Scouting Services. "Marcuz..."
Tyrol's smile dropped. He had again misspoke and this was a serious blunder. No one but himself had made mention of any actual transgressions against a DoW kingdom, not Blu and not any of the others present. His eyes shifted to Marcuz and Windrift. He knew he had seen that damnable bird flying around his compound.
Marcuz stared back at Tyrol. "We've had an increase in offenses against real merchants within the borders of our allies. Kennelia, for one, has The Twisted Finger, Trom Tet and his crew, The Gilded Ones, among other bandits. All reported members of the Society of Free Merchants..." the Captain raised an eyebrow at the Society's chairperson.
"Former members. They are now Kyanos," Tyrol snarled. "I don't like accusations." His hand instinctively went to his left hip. He quickly remembered that the guards had already removed his sword as well as the daggers in his boots.
Marcuz grinned like a wolf who pursued his prey into a corner, or, more appropriately for the Captain and Tyrol, a hawk who cornered a vermin with no chance of escape. "Then Tryol, explain why on a personal excursion, I spotted Trom Tet paying you a tribute, not more than two days ago. And the day before, a known Twisted Finger associate, among others."
Tyrol shot an angry finger at Marcuz. Spittle exited his mouth as he shouted, "How dare you! No one spies on the Wildards! I'll have you skinned alive, your eyes gouged, your...awk." Tyrol's rolled parchment was crushed between his neck and Blu's gripping hand. Tyrol thrashed about and clawed at Blu's right arm.
With a swift left kick to the back of the young Wildard's knees, Blu slammed Tyrol to the ground. With his right hand still gripped on Tyrol's neck, Blu said, "You little twit. With a simple command, the armies of the Dalesland will stamp out your society. With a simple request, the armies of the Dogs of War will bury all you Wildards. Make another threat and we'll issue both. I should give you a taste of what's to come..." The half-elf king raised his left hand into a fist and saw Tyrol's eyes widen in terror. Blu smirked.
Pak placed a restraining hand on Blu's shoulder. "Peace, cousin." Blu relaxed the tension in his fist and released Tyrol's neck. He shoved Tyrol's face, stood up and walked back to his throne chair. Pak looked down at the gasping, young Wildard. "Four sunrises, Tyrol. You have four sunrises to make amends to our allies' people. Full amends. If not, safe harbor will be revoked. And it won't take the armies of the Dalesland or DoW to end the Society. I'll send out my own tribe and they'll gladly rip out your hearts and use your skins for hide and tarp." A low, guttural growl followed. Pak's eyes flicked all black, an indication of an impending lycanthropic transformation, but, as quickly, went back to his normal brown color. "Now get up and get out."
Startled, Tyrol scampered on his behind a distance away from Pak. He pulled himself up, hacking and weezing. Wincing, he pulled his cloak over his garish outfit and staggered to the doors. He opened it and two guards as well as two Society members looked into the throne room. "Oh, and Tyrol," Pak said loud enough for the ones on the otherside of the open door to hear, "Timely amends. Or else, we may revoke the charters and safe harbors for your brothers as well or at the very least raise their taxes..." Pak held up four fingers at the young Wildard, "Four sunrises." Tyrol stared back at the calm Proctor with a mixture of pain and loathing on his face as well as a bit of fear. His mother and brothers would not be happy. Not happy one bit.
Grant had made his way to the doors himself and shut them on Tyrol. The general was not a native of the Dalesland and a head-and-half taller than anyone in the room, a legacy of his northern kin. His people sent their children, boys and girls, into conflict at the age of ten. Grown tired of their blind devotion to war and zealot religious following after eight years of combat, Grant made his way south. He interrupted an ambush on the Dalesland royal family and rescued the then baby Blu from the marauders. Since that time, he has resided in the Dalesland as a trusted friend and now advisor of the House of Aalin. Fifteen years Blu's senior, Grant had trained the king and Pak on weaponary as well as hand-to-hand combat. "Impressive take down, m'lord. But a bit..." Grant said, then paused and stroked his beard, looking at the King intently.
Pak interrupted, "But a bit reckless and rash, cousin. Not the actions of a..."
Blu then interruped, "Of a prudent king, Pak?" He had made his way back to his throne but did not sit down. He was standing with a broad, infectious smile. "It's the most alive I felt in a long time." He walked over to Pak and put a hand over his cousin's shoulder.
Marcuz caught it and smiled with the king. "But when has prudence ever been a mark of our young king," he said with a wink to Pak. The elven captain had grown up with the cousins in the Dalesland. When they entered the Academy, so did he. Marcuz excelled, becoming one of the few to master the talent of affinity and, as a result, gained Windrift as a partner. He joined and raised quickly through the ranks of Scouting Services, becoming captain before Blu even became king.
Pak scowled but even the corners of his mouth were turning up. "Marcuz, have one of your men inform the Wildards of our expectations. I doubt Tyrol will give a full account of what's happened here. And get with your sources, find out if there are any truth behind this Kyanos Faction nonsense."
The Captain nodded at the cousins but before he could take one step, Blu raised up a finger and said, "Before you do that, go get Gron and Virge and join us in the study." The half-elf turned to his General. "Grant, if you could get my uncle and also meet us in the study. We have much to discuss about the future of the Dalesland and its..." Blu turned to his cousin. "...next King." Marcuz raised his eyebrows and Grant gave the cousins an inquisitive look. Even Windrift eyed Blu curiously. "All will be explained," Blu said to the three of them, still smiling. With a head full of questions, they nodded at the cousins and took their leave to retrieve their respective parties.
When they left the throne room, Pak said to the king, "I really think we should discuss this more."
Blu answered, "Well isn't that what the study's for?" Still smiling, he walked over to the throne and picked up the Blade of Aalin.
"Next king? It seems you've already made your decision, cousin." Pak said, following Blu to the throne. The half-elf king would only respond with a shrug of his shoulders. "Fine," Pak sighed. "I'll need Lucuz of my tribe present then." The tribe was a group of were-beasts that Pak had won leadership through combat; Lucuz was the former leader that Pak defeated in combat. During his term as Alpha of Bellum Lupus, members of the tribe served as his personal guards. When he returned to the Dalesland from Mopri wiht his wife Ana, they followed along with a number of his wife's people. They settled on the outskirts of the Dalesland and developed a trade with the townspeople for hide and game meat. And with their help, the Dalesland was able to repel the invading Q'Nari. Their blood was immune to the Q'Nari's poison. "Oma!" Pak shouted at the rafters.
The falcon in the rafters flew down. It landed lightly on the flooring. It paced around a bit before it stopped and looked at Pak. When Pak smiled at it, the falcon gave its wings one final flap and shuffled behind the throne chair and began to grow and, as it did, it took on more humanoid features. It's talons became feet and it's wings arms. Within a few minutes, a young lady stood behind the throne chair. Her head darted down and she came out wearing a loose tunic that she had left there for when she was called forth. "M'lords," Oma said with a short bow to the cousins. "How may I be of service?"
Pak wanted to tussle her hair. She was a like a little sister to him and, on more than one occassion, had saved his life. "Please bring Lucuz here. I want both of you to meet us in the study." Oma nodded and, within a few minutes, a falcon hopped out of tunic on the ground. The falcon flew out of the window and towards the tribe's settlement.
"Couldn't you have just told her when she was a bird?" Blu asked.
"Yes, but she always likes to stretch her limbs a bit before a longer flight," Pak answered. He picked up the tunic, folded it, and dropped it behind the throne.
Blu clasped his arms over his cousin's shoulder. "Father was wise in naming you a prince of the Dalesland too. My final act as king will be my most proudest."
Pak let out a resigned sigh. The cousins left the throne room and proceed down the long hallway to the study.
Kaos&Associates,Attorneys-at-Law "WE CARE because you pay us to."
Hybrid Movement. It's time to stop the hate.