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Old March 2, 2013, 06:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[Office of the Assistant Thane - Gloan/Private] Overdue Meetings Come Due

Spring, Era XX Post Fractum

Duncan Sythe shed the Illusion he'd used at the gates on his way through the city to the offices of the assistant thane at the thanal mansion. Outside the two dismounted and tied up their horses and then presented their credentials to the guards on the gate before being admitted.

The shock would come in a few minutes as after asking for directions to the office of the assistant thane the Mystic; now looking like what he was actually dressed in – a fine green doublet over a black silk shirt with a green cloak over one shoulder and a golden sword at his left hip in a plain sheath – casually stepped into Gloan's office with his hands behind his back. He was followed by another armed – and armoured – man in the uniform of the Judicator Guard who took one step to the left and stood with his hands clasped in front of him as Duncan Sythe stepped up to Gloan's desk.

“Assistant Thane Hammerfist; my name is Duncan Sythe.” The blue eyed man looked down at the Dwarf at his desk quite calmly as his guard quietly closed the door before returning to where he'd stood a moment before, whilst Duncan Sythe pulled a chair back and quietly sat down, his left hand moving the sword sheath out of the way.

“I trust you don't mind if we talk? How are you finding Nexus? It was a shame to lose you from Paxia, I am told you were rather good at your job...”

A wry smile crossed his lips but didn't make its way to his eyes.

“But onwards and upwards; Mages, a pernicious city council, you must be finding your new position a considerably more taxing one than the one you held in Paxia.”
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Old March 2, 2013, 06:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Gloan did not even pay attention to what was going on around him until he heard his name. Stacks of papers sat on his desk in neat piles, one much taller than the other. A grumble came before he looked up and heard the imposing man utter his own name.

"Not at all," he said as he stiffened, his Paxian accent more pronounced than usual. "Nexus is a fine city," he began and then cut himself off. "It is not hard to control the imports and exports of a blockaded port. Your Excellency." He threw the last bit in still trying to get a grasp on what was going on in his office.

he listened intently as Duncan continued to speak.

"Well, you can say that I have more to do." He chuckled lightly. "Though I can say Herr Dietrich was taxing as well."

He had no love for the man, and even though he had been dead for a while now, he showed no remorse for his actions.
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Old March 2, 2013, 06:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ah Conrad...Conrad... dear dear Conrad.

It was ironic that Duncan Sythe was irritated the man had killed himself, he'd been oddly useful despite his protestations of grandeur and noble public service. True, the two had never gotten along and never would have, but they had possessed a kind of grudging mutual respect for each others goals, even if they rather disagreed on method.

His head had tilted slightly to one side however at the mention of the blockade... he'd tried to fix it, but well? The Dwarf had a point and he wasn't here to begrudge the man trying to make his own way.

“Mister Dietrich caused your problems. Problems which are now resolved Mister Hammerfist; and please, call me Duncan... I am not one for formality.”

The Mage crossed his legs and laced his fingers in his lap.

“And as you yourself know, Arium has bigger issues than Jaedaxia and trade... I would like to see myself as a man who looks at bigger issues than the accumulated piles of crowns or the personal staff length of any particular Thane, or any man for that matter...”

Another dry smile.

“How did it feel to face that Xet?” He held a hand, eyes suddenly cold. “Don't answer, because I know exactly how it felt Mister Hammerfist and I read the reports. I know exactly how it felt because the one I ran across in the deserts of Arakmat turned men into living dead that had nothing to do with Necromancy and nearly killed a man who must be amongst the best knife fighters I have ever seen...” Fingertips rapped on his thigh.

“Change is coming now that Rhysatra is formally Empress, Mister Hammerfist. Arium however is the front line against the Xet and somewhere I personally have an interest in protecting. My son lives here, people I call my friends, live here. Nexus is indeed a fine city but one bereft with conflict from what I can tell. I am here to offer my assistance with anything that might be in the way of ensuring that Arium is united when the Xet come, else there will be no more Arium left in the same way there is no Lauryl, no Arakmat, and no Sheria.”

There was an implacable sense of gravity about how the Mage spoke, a casual dispersion of secrets and knowledge intended to assert awareness, and possibly authority.

“Because – and few people know this - but the Xet destroyed Sheria too, Mister Hammerfist; and I do not intend to let them destroy Arium because we're piddling over where the damn capital is.”
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Old March 2, 2013, 07:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Gloan again listened carefully as Duncan spoke. "Call me Gloan," he said after the first Mr. Hammerfist.

He nodded along as he spoke about Paxia and how things were, at that time, not as they should have been. His brow furrowed when the problem of the Xet was mentioned.

"I do indeed agree that this is a looming threat. There are over 100,000 Arakmatian refugees at the border, very near the fog that have decided to settle. Nexus Prime is not as far away as I would like it to be either. If they do invade, the first battle will be here."

He squinted his eyes in thought, and almost looked pained.

"We have no soldiers... I saw more men get slaughtered in Paxia from a single Xet than guard our walls here." He had no problem speaking of such things with one of the Governors of Arium. "As for the capitol, as far as I'm concerned, Aslangrad can keep it. It matters not to me which city my orders come from, so long as they come."

He knew very little about Sheria, so he nodded along taking in this piece of information.

"Duncan," he said uneasily. "Don't you feel that this conversation is a little above my pay grade? I think Thane Brightstar would be highly upset if you came to me before her."
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Old March 2, 2013, 07:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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“If they do invade, the first battle will be here.” At that note Duncan Sythe's face sobered... death, the falling of bodies, thousand upon thousand falling...falling...falling... after they had all turned to him in their soulless obedience.

Gloan looked upon the face of a man who was all too aware of the cost of death.

And no, he was right as he continued and Duncan recovered his awareness; they had no soldiers... that was the entire problem; though Duncan did at this.

“Which is why we need Aslangrad; they have the largest standing army in the Empire which isn't locked up with Threllius, Arctic or Rhysatra.” Before Gloan spoke of the capital. The Dwarf was broadly going with how he'd expected this conversation to go however, except... for what he said last.

Political conscience? Well, It was true enough that Gloan's position could be uneasy if this conversation became public knowledge and questions were asked as to why the Thane of Paxia, a former Regent and a Minister was talking privately to Gloan... but it was up to Gloan to decide when he became uncomfortable with this.

Of course he was also the one with the swords in the office and the guard, but with Darryn behind him with his hands still clasped in front of him like a stone statue... it was merely a sign of an image; a projection.

“I think you are far more aware of the threat the Xet present than Thane Brightstar.” Duncan corrected quietly, the edge gone from his voice and replaced by calm. “I think you are a sensible man who understands that Arium needs stability and not conflict, and if in a few minutes time we both decide that Thane Brightstar needs to be included in this discussion and it is better she see us discuss the matters you have just mentioned together; rather than you discuss them alone as if I was never here, then that is your choice.”

His head tilted again, fingertips tapping on the thigh, whimsical almost.

“Whatever happens, I will act to protect Arium, Gloan. I will act to protect this Empire from turning into a complete war zone. I am trying to do it through a coalition rather than having to tear everything down and start again. I fought the Orcs in Paxia and cleared them out after the Necromancer attacked; it's why the people of Paxia give me the respect they do. I am not going to let them down, Gloan... I just don't want Nexus in the way, or Aslangrad for that matter. The Vysstitichi? A more complicated story but D'rinishad can be reasoned with.”

He pushed himself back lightly with the one foot on the floor and rubbed his palms together.

“So tell me about Thane Brightstar.”
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Old March 2, 2013, 08:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Gloan's eyes widened as Duncan talked of Aslangrad. "Yes, I agree that they have a mighty army... Or did before the plague struck. I only know of what I read in the Herald, and we both know that the story could easily be over or under exaggerated."

He cleared his throat. He had not expected to do any politicing on this brightening.

"If the armies of Aslangrad were to march west, there would an absolute panic within Nexus Prime. And perhaps the camp as well."

His tone was clear, and he truly believed the words that he spoke. The subject then turned to the Thane.

"She has never mentioned the Xetan threat to me. I do not know her knowledge on the matter. She is... a bit strange. She seems physically to be a child, but the way she speaks and her knowledge on many things contradicts her appearance. I have always found it odd, though it is not my place to say such things."

"What we need in Arium is clear leadership. Leaders who act without hesitation and for the greater good. What we have now are Thanes who squabble over pride, present company excluded of course." He leaned forward in his chair. "This is the only way Arium will survive. As it stands now, I fear for its survival."
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Old March 2, 2013, 08:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Duncan frowned at the mention of the plague... Yes, that was quite likely to cripple Aslangrad but before it had struck? Well, the politics had been sound enough at the time; or at least as sound as politics ever got...

And yes, there would be panic... everyone would run east... but in some respects that than became someone elses problem and that was a good thing. Duncan Sythe was no humanitarian, he'd once proposed cutting the Empire in half during the Pox... he'd do it again but to him Arium was a personal last-stand.

He would not give up Arium.

So he listened to what Gloan said... Strange? A Child? Knowledgeable yet...childlike? In Tissy and others he had come across such people, it suggested a submerged intelligence that liked to play.

And that was never good.

Duncan had to smile at Gloan's little dig, but nodded none the less. He did not know of Brightstar, he did however know Serion and what Uri had been. What would be? That remained to be seen...

“I agree. Despite my credentials I am no battle leader Gloan, I am no General. I have been a soldier and I have been a politician but those things have never been what have driven me, the power and the control is not the issue.” Partly a lie but not entirely. “There are people out there who can unite Provinces Gloan, I am not one of them.” He smiled wryly, slightly sadly. “I am many other things, but not that... I am a facilitator. So I think at this point you should probably plead your paygrade and ask if the Thane is free to join us?”
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Old March 2, 2013, 09:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Gloan gave a deep frown, his long, braided mustache seemed to droop at Duncan's words. What is he playing at, he thought to himself. Why here, why now. I do not understand.

"As you wish," he replied. He could not help but get a knot in his stomach.

He went to the door where his guard had been standing and passed through. A few flickers of the candle later he was at Thane Brightstar's office. He addressed the secretary in a grave voice.

"Triumvirate Director-General Duncan Sythe requests to speak with Her Excellency, the Thane as soon as possible. We will be in my office until she is ready to receive us."

With that, he made his way back into his office and sat back down behind his desk. What an eventful brightening this was turning out to be... and he still yet had mounds of paperwork to complete.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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As Gloan spoke the door popped open, and Ceres emerged.

"I am ready now, as it happens. I've only been lurking about in here because it seemed better manners to pretend that I didn't know he was here yet. Let us go to your office together shall we?"

As the tiny thane walked she removed something from her pocket, a simple necklace made of a thing black cord with a wooden pendant on which had been drawn an elaborate symbol. She looped this over her head and tucked it inside the front of her dress.

At Gloan's office she peered around the door at Duncan.

"Knock knock!" she said, then bounced into the room. Ceres wore the body of a 9 year old cether girl, which meant that she was truly small. She wore a pink dress today with matching bow in her hair, and she curtsied with a well practiced movement.

"Serale your excellency." She said. "I was wondering when you might stop by. What brings you to our fair city? Nothing grim I hope."
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Old March 9, 2013, 08:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Duncan eyed the Thane carefully, rising from his chair and turning before bending down and offering his hand to her.

“Lady Brightstar. A pleasure to finally meet you.”

Duncan examined her carefully in Clara, noting the aura around her and none too pleased to find it there... what she was, who she was? Well, there was a long history of Thanes and Governors with...oddities... too them, and he had learned long past to take such things with grains of salt and much care.

Oddly though his words were sincere as he moved aside in case she wished to take a seat somewhere; else he would remain standing.

“Sadly all of Arium is rather grim at present lady.” He admitted. “I regret the unfortunate affair regarding the nature of the capital; and to explain myself will only say that I was aware of the impending threat from the west long before the Xetean scouts appeared... my actions in the wake of Erlau's death were meant to ensure the loyalty of Aslangradi soldiers to the Empire as a whole given the political situation at the time. Nexus lies furthest west so your walls would be the first to be besieged if anything came this way.”

Duncan shrugged, all of this for once entirely truthful.

“I was hoping to ensure that Aslangrad's soldiers would stand between the Xet and Nexus if it comes to that. Sadly things are as ever more complicated now than they were before... but that is still my aim. As unfair as the decision was, I was not acting out of malice and I hope for the good of Arium we can put aside any lingering resentment and work for common cause.”
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Old March 10, 2013, 06:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Gloan listened quietly, as he had already had this part of the discussion with Duncan. He did not know how the Thane felt about the Xet, or how serious she was taking the threat, though he would probably know shortly.
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Old March 11, 2013, 12:56 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Ceres' aura was an odd thing to behold, a vaporous entity enshrouded in cether flesh. There was something alive with energy under the neck of her dress, a small square of unusually dense power. She moved to sit, climbing laboriously up into a chair and sitting there, legs dangling in the air.

"I see," she said after a brief pause. "You know, I've always had the impression that Aslangrad was the sort of place that needs more stick than carrot. Then too it would have been better if we were told that the capital was being moved before the fact and that some provision be made for the thousands of civil servants who were ejected without warning from their jobs. That, however, was Conrad's doing rather than your own."

"As long as we're speaking of disaster's past, I hope you know that Nexus was not involved in the blockade. That was the mages guild, who are in what the consider to be a struggle for existence with the Church of Aslan and were eager to do Conrad down, as they saw him as their puppet. I would appreciate it if you didn't talk about where you got that information in public, as I have enough trouble with the guilds as is."

"As to the Xet, I've been thinking a lot about them of late, and I believe that soon I will step down in favor of someone with a more military bent. I am not an expert on the Xet and their military ways, but I suspect that we are going to need more than large armies. The scout sent here was able to cut down large swaths of people with a gesture of his rod. A massed army will be almost helpless against such weapons. I've had a ring of small towers built around the city on which have been mounted powerful crossbows with a range of a mile or so. I hope we might strike some Xet down with these before they get in range, but if there are any number of them it won't do all that much good."

"I would like to breed some warbeasts for use against the Xet, something small and fast enough to avoid blows and very deadly. I have some ideas for this but I will need to find someone to descend into the abyss for breeding stock."
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Old March 11, 2013, 07:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Ceres' aura did nothing to ease Duncan Sythe's suspicions of the...entity. Yes, it was an entity, not a Cether, which stood before him. What it wanted here? Well... he had not the faintest. Odd, paranoid suspicions of a certain Versian Mystic who had been possessed by a Xet artefact crossed his mind but were pushed to the back of it. Not that much paranoia, not now.

Instead he listened to her opinions about Aslangrad and smiled wryly. More a stick than a carrot, but what stick?

“Unfortunately I would challenge you to suggest what stick we could use? The legions were either busy on the Sherian border or becoming involved with Threllius or Arctic, plus there have been...other losses. I admit you might not know the numbers here but the armies of Aslangrad nearly outnumbered the number of troops available to the Imperial government.” Duncan shrugged honestly. “We did not want another civil war Lady Brightstar. Especially with the Ancients to consider... and our knowledge of the impending Xet.”

A gentle reminder that not a few moments in political time before he had been Regent, not only Thane of Paxia and Minister of Justice. He knew things she did not, whoever or whatever she was... and proclamations of how to deal with Aslangrad in ignorance of Empire-wide issues needed to be addressed in that context.

“Aslangrad had an army, one we still need.” He reminded her, then went on with his own questions.

Her remarks on the Nexus blockade however drew a respectful bow of his head.

“I never would have assumed the good people of Nexus would care for such, though it grieves me to hear – again – of the dangers the Mages Guild of Nexus poses to the province... something I shall perhaps have to look into, with your permission? I was formerly Imperial Mage and Assistant Commander of the Mage Corps of the Imperial army; and an Archmage in my own right. If anyone can get through to them then perhaps I can. This does none of us any good...”

It was an interesting insight however. How true it was? Was Brightstar distancing herself? He couldn't tell, but until he'd spoken to the mages themselves he had no corroborative evidence...

Then there was the Xet, his reply to what she said was simple.

“I would have several questions for you in that case Lady Brightstar. Most prominently who you think would be a suitable replacement for yourself. Then secondly how you intend to control the warbeasts.” A wry smile crossed his lips. “Perhaps, Lady Brightstar, that is another opportunity I could explore with my compatriots at the guild of mages? Surely there have at least one prominent Mystic there who could research the matter. Though, I must ask, how do you intend to breed enough quickly enough – and train them – to make them useful?”

Many questions but once Brightstar had answered there were only two more.

“Lastly Lady, before I meet them; who are the guild of mages, how many members and who are their senior leaders... and most importantly, given the somewhat difficult relationships of our mutual cities; do you have any questions for myself.”

So very civil, but sometimes even Duncan Sythe could do civil if it suited.
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Old March 11, 2013, 09:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Gloan just shook his head as the capitol of Arium was discussed. He did not care either way where it was located.

"Your Grace, I was there during the blockade. It was my harbor that was being blockaded. The flags that were being flown on the ships were that of Jaedaxia." He looked like he stopped himself from spitting as he said the name. "Either way, it will not be easy to appease the mages." He himself had been trained at the Rainbow Towers, though he was only an initiate sorcerer.

Gloan's brow furrowed as Ceres spoke of stepping down from her office. It was common for a new Thane to appoint new people into high places when they arrived.

"Towers which we can not afford... War beasts that will take eras to breed and train..." His tone was that of a dwarf that already thought he was being replaced. "With all due respect, why was I not informed of this earlier? It seems to me that if His Excellency had not come, I would not have known until the Xet were at our walls."

"It seems to me that we should take a more practical route in case the other plans... fail. We should recruit soldiers from the camp. It is there homeland that has been overrun after all..." he trailed off, waiting to see if the plan would even be entertained.
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Old March 11, 2013, 09:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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"I must admit," Ceres said, "That I rarely think in terms of armies. If it had have been me I would have told Aslangrad what I expected of them and if they were troublesome jailed their leaders, as I believe was done last season. I prefer the application of espionage to military confrontation whenever possible. Still, this is all water under the bridge at this point."

"As to the mages being a problem in the province, I have a different perspective on this and I'm a bit surprised that as an archmage yourself you do not share it. The mages do get a bit too wound up, but on the whole I'm on their side. The mage hunters of Aslangrad are murderous criminals, persecuting people who are engaging in a lawful art. Aslangrad does not seem interested in stopping them, so it's hard for me to object to the Illuminated Savants taking matters into their own hands. Had I been aware that they were participating in the Jaedaxian blockade I would have urged them not to, but I think that the ex governor must take a portion of the blame for ignoring their legitimate concerns when they approached him about it."

She cleared her throat delicately before addressing the question of her replacement.

"Well, Mr. Hammerfist here has done very good work, I'm not sure how comfortable he is with matters military, perhaps he will chime in. However it will really be up to the Alexis Sapientia, our interim governor. As to my warbeast program, I am still working out details. There will be challenges, you are right there. If you are interested in participating in the program it would certainly be handy to have an archmystic on board for training purposes."

Her eyes slid over to examine Gloan without her moving her head.

"Well, Gloan, the towers were built before you became my assistant. The warbeasts are still in the 'thinking about it' stage. Like I say, I will need someone to go get them from the abyss. It will be a dangerous trip and perhaps it will not be practical. We will have to devise a speedy way of training them, breeding will take time but if we bring enough up we might still do some good. In this situation we will need to use every advantage we can find. I don't object to recruiting soldiers from the camp or anywhere else, but we're going to need to get them useful weapons for fighting Xet. Heavy crossbows if nothing else."

"The guild of mages is a complicated entity with almost as many branches as members. It course started with the Rainbow Towers, who are a guild in the classic sense. Inside the Rainbow Tower society there was a loosely organized religion called the Children of Phedos who believe that we are currently in the midst of a evolutionary stage that will culminate in gembloodedness spreading to the entire population, which they believe will usher in a golden age. This religion crystalized against the threat of a returned Church of Aslan who were quite obviously gaining great favor with the then governor. The Illuminated Savants of Aelyria is their secular front organization, their purpose being to protect mage rights and to promote magery as a good thing across the empire. We have been importing mages from places such as Olympia that have thrust theirs out into the world at large, and their numbers are still growing, perhaps a thousand or so? The Illuminated Brotherhood of Nexus is the Savants espionage wing, a group of Mystic Martial artists. I know very little about them, their organization is very difficult to penetrate."

"The subgroup that is the most troublesome is a band of elementalists who call themselves the Burning Hand, who tend to be mage supremacists and think in terms of setting fire to their opponents and their buildings."

"I do have a question for you, which is why did you find it necessary to ban my citizens from your city, and when are you thinking of lifting that ban? It's an awful hardship for our citizens who have relations in Paxia and can no longer visit them and there seems little point in it other than to foster hatred."

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Aelyria ™ Version 3.4.0
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Created by Juan Gonzalez and People Like You.