The Open Road

~ To the South-East, beyond the boundaries of the Empire, towns and cities under control of thieves and cut-throats, are led by the chaotic and shadowy figure of Leto.

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The Open Road

Postby Blu » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:48 pm

"I'm stepping down as king," Blu said as he stood by the window and stared onto the capital township of the Dalesland. King. It seemed odd to him to think of himself that way. It was not so long ago that the illusions imposed on him and others by the Dreamwalker proved false. The half-elf had believed himself a rebel and freedom fighter under Darden's guidance. Instead he had awaken from the ruse as the Letian Dalesland king, from a long royal line that started with his ancestor Aalin. But it wasn't just the shattered illusion, Blu was never comfortable with just sitting on the throne. "And I want you to take the crown."

Many people had the misconception that the Dalesland was ruled from the throne room; few knew that this small gray-stoned room, lined with shelves and books, with a small round table in the center, was where almost all kingdom decisions were made. At such needed time, Blu would be surrounded by his advisors: Pak, his cousin and Proctor, the head of state during Blu's absences from the Dalesland ; Pak's father, the former Proctor; Grant, the General of the Battalions; Marcuz, Captain of the Scouting (and Scumming) Services; Gron, the kingdom's Head Mage; and Virge, an apprentice mage under Gron and archer. Today, the only other person in the private study was Pak.

The Proctor was standing by the table, reviewing a request from the head of the thieves' guild, and took a step back with Blu's announcement. There were other requests and reports strewn about the table, along with the Blade of Aalin in its sheath and a bell. "Come now cousin, that is just foolish talk." Pak regained his composure and went back to the request. "You cannot blame yourself for the deeds of Dark Blu."

Dark Blu. Blu's twin from another world, a dark reflection stained by the corrupt forces of the Demons of Tismad, Leto and Darden. In that world, Darden joined Leto in his quest to cast his siblings down. Disgusted by their brother's alliance with the remaining upstart god, Barnabas and Angelique rallied their forces together and laid siege to Leto and Darden. The siege was crippling and brought Leto and Darden to the brink of the abyss. In a final act of desperation, both drank from the Bowl of Despair to turn the tide. They succeeded and that world was worse for it. That world's Dalesland was a rich DoW kingdom, a result of spoils of war, mercernary ventures and the mining of a blackish blue stone in its mountainous, eastern border. Those rare stones enhanced the magic wielded by its users or the power of magical items, making them a highly sought-after commodity. Dark Blu had used such a stone, the largest ever found, in a hasty escape from that world's Blaze and DoW, after a betrayal that left him the lone survivor of his inner circle and House of Aalin.

He was received by this world's House of Aalin with open arms. That was until, he proved unstable, growing more hostile each day that he could not meet this world's Blaze. It all came to a murderous boiling point, when Dark Blu attemped to lope off Virge's head in this very study, revealing that his world's Virge betrayed the House of Aalin. [1]Dark Blu. [/i]Marcuz had given him that "dark" designation that night. Blu's twin accepted it with a cavalier attitude, stating that Blu was too "light" for what needed to be done to save the House of Aalin of any world--specifically killing Blaze. He mockingly called Blu "Azure" before literaly disappearing into the shadows, a power unknown until that point and apparently picked up from his handling of the rare stone. Coincidentally, Dark Blu's skin was also taking on a dark, bluish tone from his use of it.

Blu turned to his cousin. "He means to kill Blaze. We can't take him lightly."

Pak looked up from the request. "No one is. Poor Virge wears a protection ward day and night. Our troops have scoured the Dalesland for him. Missives have been sent out to the other DoW kingdoms. No one's seen hide or hair of him for months. One can only hope that when he stepped into the shadow, it swallowed him up or dumped in some other world,maybe even back to his own. It's still no reason to step away from the throne. Your people need you."

"No, our people need a real king. I've only been one in title while you have always been in deeds. You were a better leader as a proctor than I ever was as a king. And it's not just Dark Blu or that I've spent more time on horseback than on the throne... It's just..." The half-elf gazed out of the window again but eyed the path leading out of town. The path stretched onward through the gates of the town, past the sentry and sorcery towers of Dalesland Proper, and beyond the cottages and farmlands on the outskirts of the border . His eyes followed that path as it meandered out of the Dalesland and disappeared into the horizon. Blu closed his eyes and pinched the skin between them. It was months since he the last time he was on the road. He had traveled to Kennelia and re-opened the Kennel Klub. While there he had visited the restored Light of Leto Grove. The monk that used to call him "Outlander" was gone. In his place was a new abbot on an evangelical rant about the glorious return of Leto. To the half-elf, the grove had lost its luster. He didn't know if that had more to do with the new abbot or the fact that Leto and the other gods had returned but in mortal form. Before he could arrive at an answer, he was called back to the Dalesland because of the first appearence of his dark twin from the eastern border. He rushed back, leaving the Kennel Klub in the hands of the scribe's family that ran a bookstore across the street.

A knock on the door interruped Blu's thoughts. It was followed by a courtier announcing that the chairperson of the Society of Free Merchants had arrived. This study had a clever, acoustic design. While those inside could hear anything in the adjoining hallway crystal clear, at best only a murmur could be heard from inside the study by those standing on the other side of the door. That was unless someone rung the bell that Gron had conjured up to alert the guards to trouble in the study. Pak rolled up the chairperson's request he was reading and walked to the door. He opened it and told the courtier, "Have Grant and Marcuz meet us in the throne room." The courtier bowed, turned and walked down the long hallway towards the throne room. The Proctor looked back at Blu and said with a grin, "Early. It seems the young Wildard wants to make a good impression as the new chairperson."

Blu grinned back. "Much too late for that, given that Marcuz has already give us his report and assessment." The half-elf king grabbed the sheathed Blade of Aalin off the table and walked towards the open door. By the time he reached the door, the half-elf's grin was gone. "Well let's go and get this little parley over with."
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Re: The Open Road

Postby Blu » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:31 pm

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. " 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.
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Re: The Open Road

Postby Blu » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:03 am

The sun peaked through the clouds, casting beams of light onto the pavilion. It was warmer today but a chill still hung in the air, made colder by the occasional winter wind. Despite the weather, all of the Dalesland seemed to have converged in the public square. It was not every day a new king was crowned.

The coronation was a culmination of five days of rushed work, only five days since Blu announced in the study that he was handing the crown to his cousin. Pak and Pak's father attempted to talk Blu out of it. But the half-elf stood firm, made his arguments and garnered the support of Grant, Marcuz, Gron, Virge and even Lucuz and Oma. Eventually, Pak's father supported Blu's decision as well. And inevitably, for the prosperity of the Dalesland, so did Pak. It had been a long day and night but Blu wanted to turn the crown over immediately. On this, Pak's father refused to budge. The crown would be turned over in a proper coronation.

The crowds had gathered but the coronation had yet to begin. The half-elf king was not even by the square. Blu was at the cemetery, standing before his father's tombstone. This section of the cemetary was reserved for the House of Aalin and was well-maintained. No leaves from the trees remained on the now yellow grass, and the tombstones and slabs were washed on a monthly basis. Blu stood there in his ceremonial garb with an armor's chest plate and in silence. The chest plate was passed down through the generations; only the first son of Aalin actually wore it into battle. Since then it was made part of the coronation of the next king, passed along to the next king with the crown and the Blade and Daggers of Aalin. Blu gripped the sheathed Blade of Aalin in his right hand. He didn't receive his ancestor's sword until he was crowned but his father had broke with tradition and given him the Daggers of Aalin when he first became an emissary to the DoW. The half-elf further broke with tradition and gave the daggers to Pak when his cousin became the emissary to Bellum Lupus. Blu bit back a chuckle; he seemed to be following a familial tradition of breaking with tradition by now giving up the crown."I'm sorry I let you down but I just can't remain king."

"You never let him down." Blu sprung around into a defensive position, instinctively pulling the sheath off of the Blade of Aalin and bringing it up like a shield. He pulled his right arm back a bit, ready to thrust the Blade of Aalin at any agressor. Seeing Grant with a grin on his face and arms folded, Blu stood up and re-sheathed the ebony sword. For a big man, Grant was good at silently sneaking up on people. "Good form, m'lord." Blu nodded at the general and turned back around. Grant walked up and put his left arm on Blu's right shoulder. "You never let him down," Grant repeated. "He was proud of you and would be proud of the king you became."

"Would he so proud today?"

"Frankly, I think he would be a bit surprised that you held onto the crown for so long." Grant said with a chuckle. Puzzled, Blu looked at the general. "Your father spoke often of your wandering spirit...oh how did he put it...ah yes...your adventurous leanings. It's one of the reasons he sent you north as the emissary to the DoW. One of his biggest regrets was having you return so early because of his illness. In fact, he wrestled with whether or not to call you home. It was only when the sickness took such a drastic turn that your uncle convinced him to let us fetch you."

Blu's eyes watered up as the memory of his first return home hit him. He had rushed into his father's room, who laid there stricken with a mysterious ailment, not seen before and not seen again until the Q'Nari attacks. Frail and dying, the old king refused to be bedridden at Blu's coronation and crowned him. His father passed away not more than two weeks after. Blu's watery eyes dried up as he clenched his teeth and fists, recalling the events that followed his father's death. Not even given a proper time to mourn, the Dalesland had to repel an invasion from Blu's maternal grandfather, the Barney king of a neighboring land. His father was buried in the morning and they met the Barney invaders in the afternoon. Blu remembered being called down to parley. His grandfather was haughty and proclaimed a paternal right to the throne of the Dalesland through Blu's dead mother and Blu himself, shaking a fist at the half-elf. Blu answered the claim with a quick unsheathing and slash of the Blade of Aalin. The parley was over as soon as his grandfather's severed hand hit the ground. The forces of both side surged forward. The clash of blades, the wails of pain, and the howls of rage went on for hours in that battle and continued back and forth for the next month in the war. In that conflict was born the war cry "Light of my Faith. Wrath of my Vengence." The war ended when Blu added to his grandfather's missing hand by severing the Barny king's head. Blu sent the invaders scurrying home with their decapitated king in toll. The half-elf didn't want anything to do with his mother's people and gave them fair warning that no quarter would be given if any of them set foot in the Dalesland again.

Grant felt Blu's shoulder tense up. "You grew up a lot since your first days as king. You were so full of rage; I was afraid you were going to burn yourself out young. But you didn't. You let go a lot of that blind anger..." The general felt the half-elf's shoulder relax, if not slump a bit. Blu recalled when his rage-filled warpath subsided. It was in his first campaign with the DoW. Following the successful defense of the Dalesland, Blu led his armies to march along side DoW's against a Barny guild. Thousands were killed and townships reduced to cinder; all under the banner of "Light of Faith. Wrath of my Vengence." Blu didn't slow down until the half-elf saw a child's doll broken and burned, tossed aside on the outskirts of a town he just ordered burned down. The war was a success for DoW, but a solemn Blu returned with his armies to the Dalesland to bury their dead.

"I was young...young and stupid." Blu said as he turned his head towards the row of tombstones beyond the gates of the House of Aalin grave site. Among the dead was an unknown messenger and Havish, a man who had accompanied Grant and Marcuz to bring Blu back home when his father became ill. "And many Dalesland families suffered because of my rashness."

Grant turned Blu around with both hands, almost lifting the half-elf king off the ground. With unforgiving eyes and gritted teeth, he said, "Don't you dishonor their deaths by chalking it up to your rashness." Stunned, Blu instinctively pulled back with eyes wider than nomal, but the half-elf was trapped in the vice grip of the General. Remembering who he was holding, Grant released Blu. "Apologies m'lord," he said with his eyes slightly cast down towards the ground.When he looked back up at Blu, his gaze was softened but still stern. "They gave their lives knowingly. We marched to war and rasied our blades not just for the House of Aalin and not just for Dalesland or the DoW, but also for our faith. We willing went to battle and that our lives may be lost for Leto."

Blu looked at the ground and almost spat out, "Leto." No one knew of the inner turmoil brewing inside Blu about his own faith in Leto. It was no secret to anyone that he had stopped attending the services at the local grove ever since his return from Kennelia. Although to be honest, his attendence before was sporadic at best. But the truth was that he had stopped going to service ever since the illusion of Darden was cast away and word spread that Leto had returned in mortal form. He looked up at Grant's stern eyes and flinched. It was not often that the half-elf king felt like a scolded child.

Grant's eyes moved from Blu to the former king's tombstone. "Your father was my most trusted friend." As a breeze whipped through the cemetary, the General crossed his arms behind him and gazed up at the sky with a smile on his face. "And I'll aways be indebted to him, not just for giving me a true home, but for helping to restore my faith. I was broken spiritually when I left my people, tired of their unforgiving steel against heathen necks, be it man, woman or child. In that land, a Letian child's neck would have been snapped by his father for merely questioning the morality of killing a heathen baby. Your father helped me realize that faith in Leto did not require such blind obedience and that faith is something personal. The Leto I believed in did not have to be same that my kin slaughtered innocents in the name of or a Leto who demanded following without question and without will." For a moment, Grant seemed to have forgotten Blu and closed his eyes, enjoying the whipping breeze. He opened his eyes again, looked at Blu and solemnly said, "It's almost time m'lord. Shall we get going?"

Blu nodded. He turned to his father's grave and gave it short bow. Grant, behind him, went down on one knee and said a little pray to pay respects to the former king. Both walked together out into the main cemetary. Grant placed a hand on Havish's tombstone as they walked passed it. Further down, he did the same to Kewey's, who had lost his life defending the then Darden Dalesland from the invading Horde. The defense was unsuccessful and that portion of the Dalesland still remains in Horde hands. Unlikely to be regained, now that the groups were faithmates once more under Leto. The pair walked out of the graveyard and onto a Dalesland street; a breeze whipping and ushering them towards the coronation.
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