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Old April 1, 2013, 11:29 PM   #1
Tiyribi Andares
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[Charisme Basilica] Necessity, Innovation, Invention, and Civilization (private)


“Get Your Way” by Idol Warship (The Man with the Iron Fists Soundtrack) NSFW

Pendulums swung like they always did, passing time and swinging the emotions of all that watched its steady undulations without a single shred of remorse. Webs had been spun and she was caught inside, Tiyribi knew—but for how long? At first she had accepted this, perhaps even welcomed it, as the compromise she had sought when she had first come to Daltina. There was that fragile hope that peace could be maintained, that debts could be repaid, and that those she loved and valued more than her very life might be safe and well.

That, though, had only sustained her for so long. Quickly the loss of her freedom and independence had grated on her, this lady that had once commanded an entire province with a single word. And now she was reduced to a hostage, a sacrifice—of her own design, certainly, but the realization did little to salve her wounded heart. The Maeve were consummate hosts; Tiyribi’s every whim and desire had been met, and more so, during her stay at the Basilica with all due respect. But this wasn’t her house nor her land, and Tiyribi knew far too well that just the single twist of a knife or the cut of the ties of vis could end it all in utter finality.

Such thoughts had dug into her mind like a splinter into the skin that she couldn’t easily remove. She, too, had her masks, and such façades of apathy and perfect politeness had been utilized in great measure whenever Tiyribi moved through the Basilicia to try to occupy her days. In reality, though, she had been broken. As much as she had once wanted this, she now hated it, and the consternation of a conflicted spirit inside had run over to depress and embitter her throughout the ensuring days.

But even that swung backward again and didn’t survive long when her mind began ticking again. She was not helpless; so much she had told her husband in that most torturous of nights when he had come to her in Primus Gaudeo. She was an Andares, a woman who had carved out a name for herself without the shadow of her cousin’s previous endeavors, and she had held on to the seat of Centripax’s governor by the power of her wit and will. She couldn’t forget that, for such would be tantamount to forgetting her very self.

But there were still penances to be paid.

In the quiet of her quarters Tiyribi had turned over the reasons why she had been removed from the Daltinian prefecture to here, a church built out of the glory of the ancient family, and yet concluded very little. Perhaps it was a bastion easier to defend. Maybe it was a symbol of the Maeves’ acceptance of this peace offering she had handed them. Or perhaps it was just more convenient. Regardless, it had taken some time before the torrents of her emotions had settled enough to allow Tiyribi the strength to begin to wander the grounds, though still pointedly avoiding as many people as she could. That, however, was far easier said than done, and so she had often given up the attempt and retreated back to fearful solitude once more.

But this day could be, and would be, different. It had to be. Life, after all, didn’t stop just because she had. She could and would be stronger than all that, and not allow the uncertainty to overtake her at the last. So, cincturing the wide golden tie wrapped about her waist and readjusting the belled sleeves that fell like ribbons across the light spring gown she had chosen for the day, she stifled a sigh—a habit she was quickly acquiring given the number of ears pressed far too closely to her walls—and walked out through the halls.

Down she moved, past servants and guards and nobles and all the rest, until she reached the more public areas of the Basilica where the actual church still met and the priesthood held to their obligations. She glanced at the ornate decorations and style with a wary eye, seeing not beauty but, instead, an imposing prison, and moved to find as quiet a spot as she could away from the crowds. It had been a long time since she had passed the doors of a church, Tiyribi realized, and the last had been far from being classified as an edifying religious experience. But she was here now, silent and meek, and reaching back to the faith that she had always held to be more convenient than forefront.

But now she had to. There were endeavors to be completed and tasks to be done, and somewhere her soul craved this solace, to at least know that she had tried to reach out to the patron deity she had always regarded and hope that, perhaps, he’d lend an ear to her words. It was a false hope, she knew, and meant nothing to an immortal who would continue lapping Telath long after she was gone—but it mattered to her, and that was enough to drive her here.
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Old April 3, 2013, 01:44 AM   #2
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This was the greatest church in the Kingdom of Daltina, possibly Enamoria and the southern reaches of the Empire. There was a certain sobriety that came with the design, so primordial, so old and ancient that it was not hard to imagine the most powerful sermons had once been preached here, in this very heart of the Theocratic Kingdom.

Incense lingered in the air, followed by the murmurs of supplication. The grand and massive structure, with its arched domes however, was quietly deserted, with only two others within the large halls, and the stained glass catching light in the most brilliant angles as light criss-crossed from pane to pane.

There was in particular, one that stood out. He was not tall, but then it was a mixture of his attire and his demeanor that drew attention, even in this vast space of worship. It was an air of authority, of command. And though his movements were restricted now, judging from the way he leaned against his stick, he still read ever ledge, every tile, ever pace, as though it was his favorite book.

And he turned as well, as though suddenly noticing the presence of the esh'lahier, almost like she carried a smell unto herself. Of melancholy. Of quiet simmering desperation. Of hope.

It took a moment for him to hobble over, to make that long trek through the aisle and towards her, and by the time he was done, the exertion was faint in his face. He was old, well into his nineties, and despite the appearance, it was clear time had been particularly kind to him otherwise, if his joints were the only thing giving him grief.

"The Baroness," There was a hint of recognition in his voice. After all, not many esh'lahiers wondered to these parts of the realm, and of course the custodians of the Bascilica proper would be properly aware of the terse situation leading to the necessary arrangements of the esh'lahier's presence.

Was he greeting her? It was hard to tell, if only because of his next sentence. He was rasping for breath, and in one hand he held a stick to aid him in mobility. Wispy gray hair clung onto his scalp almost in a stubborn fashion, and the saintly robes, so carefully brushed and maintained, seemed to create an aura around him, giving him a dignified, divine presence, even if his shoulders were stooped and his skin had sagged.

"The Baroness said you would come," There was only a certain wariness in his aged eyes, filled with cataracts that the man could almost be considered blind. The manner in which he canted his head to regarded Tiyribi in a slightly off position, not looking directly into her eyes.

He bowed once, and in the same weak voice, he introduced himself, and offered himself to her service, much like the manner in which the charming Maeve host and hostess have treated their guest.

There was nothing that could be faulted on the surface, and it was almost too seamless, so uncontrived that it gave the impression that perhaps the Maeve were too willing to only accept her penance. That, in itself, was enough to rouse suspicion of the greatest degree.

"I am Cardinal Agostino Abategiovanni, or Patria of the Bascilica. How may we help you this brightening?"
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Old April 3, 2013, 11:53 PM   #3
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There was something peaceful here, immeasurably so, that seeped like life-giving water into the cracks of her very soul. For a moment and out of sheer instinct, Tiyribi’s eyes slipped closed, and all seemed to be content. It was a feeling she hadn’t experienced since the very first time she had set foot inside the Orodite Basilica in New Coldmoon, before the old man and the priest had, in quick succession, fragmented her reverie. Now, too, in the silence of the grand Daltinian church, she felt it again.

And then, just as everything swung and repeated in its perfectly cyclical patterns, it was all rudely interrupted once more.

Her eyes blinked open when the elderly man used her title like a name, supplanting the rest of her identity with that single distasteful thing. It surprised her, though, to find that she wasn’t immediately repulsed; there was, instead, a silent acceptance of the fact, perhaps by the forces of time and circumstance. Or perhaps, and as was more likely, she was starting to see the advantages in the position by the nature of dark contrast—that when everything else seemed so low and utterly hopeless, any small detail that worked for her benefit could appear in her eyes as the greatest of boons.

She inhaled deeply once, then nodded a small acknowledgment of greeting in the priest’s direction. “Father,” Tiyribi offered politely. Maintaining decorum during her stay with the Maeve hadn’t been a particular strength given the tenuous and torturous nature of her current emotional state, but habit was ingrained and did come out—sometimes. This had been her world once, and though everything had shifted to bring her to these present circumstances and surroundings, she never had completely forgotten who she had once been—not yet, anyway.

The mention of the other baroness, whom Tiyribi could only assume was Freya Maeve, brought another careful look of recognition across her pallid features. Of course Freya had said as much. The woman knew far more about Tiyribi than the latter had ever shown anyone outside her family by the devious restraints they’d put upon her, and, for that, Tiyribi would never forgive her. Privacy had been violated. Her very life had been threatened. And even now it all hung in ever so delicate a balance that Tiyribi was all too keenly aware that each and every moment could very easily be her last. “That was kind of Her Grace.” And yet the dullness in her voice and the apathetic look on her face didn’t match the sentiment, but it was the best façade she could manage.

“Eminence,” she corrected herself when the old man’s title was then announced, “I come seeking guidance, if you might be so kind. Would you hear my confession?” Out of habit her eyes scanned the large, elaborate room once more, knowing all too well that here in the showcase of Maeve power they would never be left alone, and that every ear was pricked far too attentively toward them in the hopes of finding a delectable crumb to gain the favor of their masters.

And yet even then they could not fault her for paying penance, Tiyribi rationalized ever so desperately to herself. They had accepted her offer of sacrifice, for now, and they would not stop her from paying that price that they demanded. They couldn’t. The world wouldn’t survive it if they disagreed. They had to see that.

They had to.
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Old April 4, 2013, 02:00 PM   #4
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The only sign of acknowledge then came from a quiet, contemplative nod of the elder human's head, and then a slight tug of his lips as though he wasn't quite sure as to how he felt of the esh'lahier's presence. There were places that existed, after all, in the Empire, that forbid the enter of these dark races into these religious place of worship.

Ioannes may have exonerated their kin for their sacrifice, but then the momento mori were not so forgiving.

He may appear feeble physically, but it was clear, even from eyes laden with cataracts, that his mind was anything but. Still, there was a part of him that appeared unsure, and the question, so easy, so simple, and so familiar, given his position, was nonetheless not expected from the woman before him.

"Confession?" He frowned slightly, his tone unsure. And then sighing softly, as though reconciling whatever he had been instructed, and his duties to the parish and those within, he came to a decision soon enough.

Whatever Freya had said to the elder human had clearly roused a certain apprehension within him, and it showed. It wasn't worry for himself, that much was clear, but then what Faust had began implicated bloodlines of generations beyond his, and beyond this time.

Genealogies would be affected by this fallout, whether or not it was their wish that it be so. And perhaps, granted by the advantage of being an outsider, the Cardinal saw all of it, and know that he was powerless to stop it.

"I know not what use my guidance would aid you in your endeavors, but the burden you carry so willingly upon your shoulders, that, I can share with you, through the grace of the Gods." He was careful, this one, in his own manner, reserved but polite. Unlike Freya who had pretended that everything was nothing short of perfect within the household, this elder clergyman would not bear such pretence, and it was revealed through the twisting and knotting of his wrinkles, belaying deep thoughts swirled by deep implications.

"Speak only the truth then, and let only the Gods bear witness to your words." The human murmured, turning slowly to look behind and around him and satisfied that there was no one near enough to possibly eavesdrop upon them.

OOCSorry for the shortish post, just wanted to move things along.
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Old April 4, 2013, 09:31 PM   #5
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How much had Freya told him? Tiyribi’s eyes narrowed curiously, as if trying to divine the answer to that particular question out of the very wrinkles lining the cardinal’s aged face. Conspiracy was the lifeblood of these creatures of Maeve, as Tiyribi well knew, but did it extend to him too? His voice was too gentle and his face too kind for her to believe any evil resided there behind those eyes, but appearances had long been proven to be worth less than nothing, and the most unassuming of figures often posed the greatest danger.

“Yes,” she gently said aloud, nodding in time with the word too and not failing to mark the subtle shift in his demeanor. Either he hadn’t expected such a request or he wasn’t sure how to fulfill it—and possibly, his discomfort was sourced from both reasons. For a moment a flash of sympathy appeared across her face, but in the next, it was utterly gone, replaced again with the more traditionally stoic visage that so defined her people. Was it really that odd of a request? Certainly petitioners came here from near and far to lay down their earthly burdens at the feet of the divine. Why should she be any different?

But she was, Tiyribi keenly knew, and everywhere she walked she would now be surrounded by ripples that affected the eyes and ears of all that stood nearby. They knew her, even if they couldn’t place her name, and they pitied or reviled her, even if they didn’t truly know why. The Basilica had provided some relief from the pressing stares of the outside world, certainly, but not enough. No man had ever made walls thick enough to keep out all the prying looks and pressing ears from her life now, given that recent events had so thoroughly thrust herself and her family into the unmitigated spotlight.

But the cardinal was balking, and she could hear it in every word he spoke even beneath the grace and compassion coating it on the surface. He was kind, this Agostino Abategiovanni, and had a goodly spirit beneath those life-given creases. Or, at least, so he appeared. He was, after all, a servant of the Maeve, even here in the sacred realm of the ancient church. That could never be forgotten, and thus tainted her perception of the man and the way in which she listened to every word he spoke with pricking suspicion. He couldn’t be trusted. She’d be a fool to trust any of them. And she wouldn’t make the same sort of mistakes that had brought her here in the first place again.

The mention of the gods brought a thin smile to her lips, and for a moment she followed his eyes to the surrounding church to satisfy herself that they were, indeed, alone. Or were they? “Thank you, Eminence,” she offered in reply, opting to let the smoothness of her tone and lack of sentiment behind it all mask her continually-growing doubt. “Your words are very kind to an undeserving soul.” For they truly were, she reminded herself, and would have been no matter the circumstance even if, perhaps, their solitude was not necessarily a perfect truth.

She paused for a moment to let her thoughts flow to the forefront of her mind, and then raised her gaze to meet the elderly human’s evenly, though with the most evident hint of trepidation hiding in their violet depths. There was a constant shadow of fear there these days, having been birthed cycles before and only grown stronger since her sojourn in Daltina. And there was another look, one of sadness perhaps, or maybe it was regret, that had been her constant companion. But the quietness, calm, and careful coldness that had previously so described the Esh’lahier lady were ever present too, making it clear that she had yet to fully forget herself at the last.

“I fear, Eminence, that I have not been all that Ioannes would desire,” she began, flashing again that look of remorse written over her pallid features, “despite my better attempts. Perhaps, though, he can find it in his wisdom to forgive me. The Sacred Three does not, after all, allow for the presence of truth and justice can be terribly blind.” Tiyribi frowned at that again, adding punctuation to her words. “But law and order must always be upheld,” she continued, “no matter the subversion of truth. Do you not agree?”

Her gaze dropped and she stifled the beginnings of a deep sigh. “There are many who believe my husband already convicted guilty of these crimes, and see the need for a trial to be only a useless formality at best.” Aetheria knew that plenty of them resided under this very roof as she spoke. “I, as a servant of the imperium, respect the mandates and dictates of the law so that order may be preserved—hence my obedience and presence here.” Then did her eyes raise from the floor again to meet the old cardinal’s, shining levelly with some bright truth that burnt like flame to be revealed underneath.

“But I cannot deny my heart.” Now her voice had grown firmer with greater fervor, perhaps, and a heavy level of confidence underlying each and every sound. “I cannot deny what I feel. And Eminence, if I may be true with you, I do not feel that my husband would ever be capable of these acts they claim.” She was urgent now, and steadily studying her listener to try to catch sight of any hint of whether he believed her or not. “There are many from here to Arium that would testify to his character, his self-sacrifice, and his reputation of heroic deeds for the betterment of total strangers. There are even more that have bettered from his risking his very life without even realizing it.”

She waited, anxious and pleading, and ever so steadily staring into the old cardinal’s eyes with all the earnestness of a petitioning child begging for their request to be heard and affirmed. “And yet for the good of the order, for the requirement of law, I did not deny the charges levied against him and me for the potential damage such could cause. But Eminence, I don’t believe it. I can’t. It must all be a lie. There is magic in this world that can do mysterious things, and great powers that we mortals do not perhaps understand. All that has been said and publicized I will accept for the good of our society, of our people, but I cannot ever believe that it is true.”
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Old April 8, 2013, 02:24 PM   #6
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He said nothing for the longest time, almost as immovable as a stature as he listened, and then frowning, shuffling his feet as though it were an awkward uncomfortable position for him, given the circumstances. It was almost impossible to discern his thoughts on the matter, for the cataracts seem to mask over his true thoughts and intentions, if he had any at all.

There was something unassuming about this creature, and even if Tiyribi's suspicion had been so piqued by the other members of the dynastic House, this man of the cloth appeared only interested in the simplest of concerns -- the well-being of his congregation. Nothing else seemed to matter; not the machinations of the Maeve, nor Tiyribi's presence here, unless it threatened his flock.

There was a mild shudder when the esh'lahier was finally finished, quailing as though he had been slapped.

It seemed emotions and impulse had been the greatest enemy here, and here she was, still subscribing to it, still clinging upon the poison that had seeped through. Perhaps she was right in her words after all, perhaps she and her people could never find favor with the All-Father, if they could not be released from Meephos' thrall.

"Your heart," His voice seemed to take on a cold chill, as though he disapproved. Yet he seemed to catch himself as though a deeper realization had sprung upon him even in those brief moments of time. He considered his words that he was about to say, and then retracted them on second thoughts.

He pursed his lips, almost struggling with himself and his own thoughts that were in conflict with one another. Reserving his own judgements, and remembering his obligations, yet at the same time understanding also his true duty was to the divine. Not of men.

Such harsh crimes, no wonder it was hard for her to believe. The implications, the disgrace. Denial. When confronted with the obscene that was so shocking, so brutal, one would rapidly sought to replace and reccaliberate perceptions based on their own logics, even if their logic was flawed. It was almost like an instinct of a loved one, for what were mortals, if not in constant denial of their loved ones?

Yet were the Maeve blatant enough to pin the blame on an innocent? And for what? The Cardinal could not see it, and so the silent sympathy on his features revealed as such. He did not share those sentiments, but he did not mock her, he empathized with her. That much was evident with the way he spoke, and his facial expressions wrecked with doubt and fear for her.

"And if were true, if he indeed is culpable, then does your presence here deter that? You know him the best, I would assume, and so I ask; would you being here serve any true purpose at all?" The clergyman was not a politician, he was not a diplomat, and now, perhaps suggesting that he was not under the yoke of the Maeve, even if he were in the heart of their dominion. He served a greater force not immediately tangible, but infinitely more powerful.

Oh he was thinking the worst of Faust now, that much was clear, but his words were not cruel, but rather, spoken as though it was the gentlest of reflections to Tiyribi's own thoughts on the matter, and she on the other end, was the moon, while the Cardinal's, was the glowing, opposing sun.

"The road to Aeternia, is after all, paved with good intentions. Would he not see this as an incentive to serve retribution, and sink further into the moral mire?"

And then his voice sinks to a whisper, almost as though he feared the sound of it himself.

"Do you think you force the Maeve's hand in this by remaining here? Would the pawn be sacrificed for the King? No, pawns are sacrificed for the finale, it is all part of their plan."
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Old April 8, 2013, 11:36 PM   #7
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She didn’t need his approval, Tiyribi repeated like a chorus inside her head as she watched his facial expressions waver and his posture bend. No, she didn’t. She didn’t. She wasn’t here for any approval by men, as if their understanding would avail her anything given the current circumstance. And yet for some reason, the old cardinal’s disapproving taint when he repeated her mention of the state of her heart cut her even more deeply than Liliana Maeve’s accusations. He didn’t believe her in the slightest, and that let in a veritable flood of anger, frustration, and misplaced disappointment.

It had never been truly clear what she wished to accomplish here in the sanctuary of the Basilica, but even in captivity her mind would not quiet. There were things that must be done, she had told herself when the slumping effects of devastation and despair were starting to lose their power over her consciousness. She had not come here helpless. She had not come here without the very weapons that had long assured her seat in Centripax. And even now when her will and her strength were faltering and when all seemed utterly lost, she knew she had to do something; she could not stand idle in what could very well be the last days of her life.

It was that that had brought her here to the sanctuary, and that that continued to spin the wheels inside her mind to look for angles with which to mold reality to her will. But this man, for all his great kindness and appearances of compassion, refused, and saw through all the smoke and mirrors to the sad, pathetic reality underneath. Is that what she had become, what she had been reduced to—a mere simpleton child playing games under the delusion that she had any control over her fate whatsoever?

He didn’t believe her, but now, still reeling as she was with the disappointment of his previously spoken accusation, the words held far less of a sting in her flesh. Her eyes shut painfully and a hand rose to press flat against the curve of her forehead, as if to repress the tremulous pinching inside. “Is it all so truly easy to believe,” came the near-whisper well underneath the level of her breath, “that there is no room for reasonable doubt?” That question was sincere, spoken from far too many nights of worry since that fateful one in Primus Gaudeo what seemed like a lifetime before.

She doubted. She didn’t know why, or how, or if she even could given the confession that had come so forwardly from her husband’s own lips, but she did. Some part of her probably always would, if only to believe that things had not spiraled out of control this quickly.

“To pay a debt,” she finally answered, cautiously. In the end, rhetoric could always be trusted when logical thought faltered a weakened, disturbed mind. “The law makes demands that must be met. These things are unchangeable, no matter how much we wish them not to be.”

And then the next of the cardinal’s words struck far too closely to home, and a veritable shudder ran through Tiyribi’s entire form. The sharpness returned to her eye as she glanced harshly at the cardinal again, piercing, disbelieving, and resentful all in a singular expression. “Retribution?” the word was repeated incredulously. “No, my husband would not –” —but would he? She paused at that, swallowing the rest of her thought behind a thousand new doubts that sprung up in its place. Since that argument in the solarium of Primus Gaudeo, his mind and heart had been closed to her, and never would she have been able to predict the chain of events that had quickly cascaded afterward, both by his initiative and that of a hateful, cruel world.

Her gaze dropped and a look of resignation overtook her features once more. “I force no hand.” The words fell solid and without regret, as if merely stating fact completely devoid of opinion or perspective. “Eminence, forgive me, but I do not understand your words in this. For the chance of all to be put aright I would most gladly give my life, but your words seem to say that of that conclusion, you have no hope.” She was despairing now, and it was becoming evident in her tone. “Of whose finale do you speak, Eminence? And who might be the king upon this board?”
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Old April 9, 2013, 09:07 AM   #8
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"I am not the one you would need to convince, Baroness."

And there it was, so simple, so final. He could listen to her, even believe her words, but the verdict was not up to him, and so found that his approval, given or not, truly mattered little in the grand scheme of things beyond serving as an artifice of a peace of mind for the esh'lahier.

"Yes, but the penance you bear is not stained with blood, which by far, has the greater flavor to those seeking it." His words grew lower, almost making it such that Tiyribi had to strain to hear him. There was a deep wheezing in his lungs, as though there was some preexisting condition, and the slight flush in his wrinkled skin showed that even talking itself was exerting against his frail constitution.

As to her confusion? There was a moment of time when it was evident that he was truly torn. True, he was the Patria of the basilica, one under the jurisdiction of the Maeve, but then he was also a servant of God, and his duties extended beyond those that the Maeve wished him to be burdened with -- even if he had been the same presiding priest to see to so many of the Maeve's baptism. Freya, Aryun, Aeris, even Liliana and Angovin.

He knew what the family was truly capable of. And he understood the danger they had all put themselves in, unwittingly or willingly. He, however, had a parish to protect, and refused to let him or those under him to be used as an advantage for anyone.

"Please allow me to be terribly frank in this matter, Baroness," His voice was weak, almost breathless.

"The Baroness Freya Maeve explained your decision to remain here in basilica to me," What exactly was being said, however, was not elaborated. The elder clergyman shifted on his stick, other free hand leaning against the back of the bench to take the weight off his aching joints.

"While commendable in itself,"

His voice trailed off, almost a quiet uncertainty now, as though fearful of what he was about to say, but when he finally did say it, his allegiances were clear and needed no further extrapolation to define. After all, he had nothing to lose now, having committed his life to doing the Church's work, and in the service of the Gods.

No, it was those under him that he feared for, and the webs of deceit that were spun so thick that they dazzled even the truth, when presented before them.

"It may be that you are trifling with powers that you may not truly understand, and in so, may have sorely underestimated." He knew the Maeve, and he refused to be under their yoke. Not in this. Not when lives were at stake.

The admonition was spoken without any heat in his voice, but rather a vague exhaustion and resignation. Was there hope? He could not see it. And even if this strange balance of powers could be maintained with the Governor's presence here, how long could it truly last?

And the worst -- what if they had been wrong? What if it were all for naught? He knew not this one they call Faust until now, until the infamy. And unlike Tiyribi nor the Maeve, he could see this objectively, with no true agenda of his own except the safety and wellbeing of his parish.

"Forgive me for my harsh words, but afforded an outsiders perspective, such things are painfully obvious to me, and I am responsible for my parish as mandated by the Gods." And then in a tone almost lamentable in all its lineaments, he continued boldly, his voice trembling, and it was obvious that he was frightened for what might happen -- the prospect of itself already a thing of nightmares.

"You use the Maeve to prevent a war, and the Maeve, in turn, use you for their own ends. Those that suffer, if the plan falls apart, are people like us -- those at the wrong place at the wrong time."
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Old April 10, 2013, 12:50 AM   #9
Tiyribi Andares
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Her gaze fell even while her heart disagreed fully with the cardinal’s sentiment. Perhaps his approval didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of the world. Maybe it wouldn’t change the circumstance and situation in which they all found themselves so thoroughly embroiled. But she did need it, as desperately as she needed her next breathe. It would have been sublime, unearthly balm to know that someone listened to her, that someone believed, and that someone could care.

But on the scales of the politics and blood and the law and justice and everything in between, it would have meant nothing. But to her faith—that, perhaps, would have been so fully restored. But not now. Not ever again.

Every note of that resigned, surrendering sadness appeared on the details of her pallid features, and Tiyribi took no pains to hide it. Those practiced mannerisms, those careful masks, and all the rest had been trashed and forgotten in the last few cycles by the turn of fate, and she was nothing more than a dim remembrance of everything that had existed before. She had no control here, not even over her own life, and that knowledge had poisoned every last ounce of strength and will she had left. And now, when she had begged illumination from the gods themselves, she had found nothing but those far too eager to walk away from her shadow.

And the most terrifying thing of all was that Tiyribi didn’t blame the aged cardinal in the least.

“Not yet.” The answer would suffice for both of his points, though the words were timed to fall at the end of the latter. Then, too, did her violet eyes raise and stare at the old priest as that same resignation mutated into a sense of solid, strengthened determination. “But if it were asked? If I thought it could mend it all? Eminence, such things have filled my prayers every night.” There was a terrible tremble to her voice as she spoke as great emotion came up underneath and cracked through the surface. Its very extremity made it impossible to identify. [b]“How can I live in this world that maligns and threatens those I love so?” she asked, desperate.

Tiyribi fell silent when Freya’s name was mentioned and the cardinal made clear the great extent of his knowledge and understanding. So he knew. He understood that the Maeve were trifling with her life, playing her like a puppet on a child’s finger, and he saw the true darkness of the threat that hung over her every moment she continued to reside inside the Basilica. But her welfare, it seemed, was not his chief concern. His words turned to the state of his parish and those under his religious care, and again, no matter how much the baser instincts in the pit of her stomach tried to protest, Tiyribi could not blame him. They were family, children even, and she a stranger—and the relative of a man they were all so eager to accuse, too. Who could ever account the cardinal’s actions as faithless or unjust?

It was only the heart that had come to this sanctuary begging for a sign, Tiyribi realized, and only the soul that had hoped to find some sort of guidance when all the world was nothing but darkness. But the cardinal, for all his kindness, was not her priest, nor her friend, and such impositions on his dignity should never have been made in the first place.

She bit idly on her lower lip. Her eyes clouded with a growing sense of fear, panic, sorrow, and everything in between—the same emotions that had become her bosom companions over the last cycles. His conclusions were logical and his thoughts understandably clear. Of course she wasn’t the only victim here. Of course her very presence was threatening the safety of a flock of innocent bystanders. And of course there would always be casualties; she had been a fool to think it could have all been fixed completely and at once without complaint.

“Then why do you stay?” she asked, far more directly and with a heavier tone than was her usual wont. There was a touch of impertinence there too, like a rebellious adolescent questioning the supposedly irrational decisions of her elders. “Eminence, you must know that such costs are exactly what I would do anything to avoid. You must understand that I had hoped that my presence here in Daltina would stop this madness before any more lives were taken. Please, Eminence—you must understand.”

Again that scintillating sound of desperation crackled over the top of her words and was impossible to miss. She needed his understanding. She hadn’t received even the slightest hint of it from Liliana, and from Freya she’d only sensed an overtone of sarcastic amusement despite her playing at being the consummate hostess. But understanding? That was one thing that had been missing in her life for a very, very long time—perhaps even before that most fateful of afternoons when she and her husband had quarreled and the pendulum was set into motion.

“Have I chosen wrong, Eminence?” she asked again, still pressing. “What else can I do?”
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Old April 10, 2013, 01:18 PM   #10
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Her broken visage was only regarded with the same softly caring features, though such sympathies never fully extended. The boundaries were clear, and it was clear that while he had no joy in engaging in the political implications of this entire matter, the Cardinal had no true need to reveal any kindness for this pale stranger that could very well portend the doom for him and all those under him.

Her audacity was met with a quiet, stern expression, but nothing more. This was a man who did not need to shout, need to answer, need to retort to validate his own authority. He was here not because of the Maeve or by choice -- he was here as mandated by the divine will, and she would remain so until his bones were buried into the ground forever.

And she was grieving. Understandably so. At least he had revealed that he had far more compassion than any hailing from the illustrious House of Maeve in this short span of time. He did not judge her, not yet.

"I understand, I do not doubt your intents. It is noble, and it may work, but surely for a time." He murmured finally, thoughtfully. There was a gnawing sense of exasperation at the edge of his voice, as though frustration was finally starting to seep through his venerated veneer.

And then he questioned her again, pointedly, giving her no recrimination for her noble actions. There was no point in gilding the lily, not when the tension was so thick and the waiting game so volatile, restless even, and ever ready to transit into violence.

"Yet it appears you lie to yourself to bring an artifice of peace." He pressed on gently, holding one hand to gesture for a moment for him to explain.

"You are here, because inside you, there is a scintilla of doubt. There is a part of you that suspects that there could be a risk of a reprisal from your husband and his allies. The same seed is sprung from the possibility that he may had committed those heinous crimes he is accused of. And so you stay here, to be the votive sacrifice, the peace offering, and thinking that with the penance accepted, all debts will be written off. And that perhaps there will be no need for violence, and that your husband himself would not risk engaging the Maeve for fear of your own safety." It was so easy for an outsider to see and point out, when presented with the facts itself, and they fell in a certain way to reveal the picture.

His breathing quickened, he was panting. The long sentences were taking a strain on his body, but after a long pause, as though waiting for his words to truly sink in, he continued.

"But Baroness, these are blood debts." It wasn't spoken cruelly, but as a matter-of-fact, which could perhaps cut even deeper. At least if uttered out of malice, Tiyribi could perhaps summon an anger that was roused or stoked, but instead, it was simply said in a neutral manner, an observatory manner, making his plea far more poignant.

"You are not wrong. But neither are you right in coming here so willingly, to be used as your debtors see fit." There was a tone to his voice which seemed to suggest that he knew more than it appeared superficially, and if anything, his words were a warning, a free one shared without asking anything in return.

And then the question, to which the Cardinal seemed to have an answer prepared for.

"You must convince him to surrender himself and protest his innocent. If he is as you claim; inculpable, then the Gods will not let him burn for the crimes."

Yet even as the Cardinal's words flowed from his mouth in ragged, labored pants, it was clear that there was no hope to be found behind those blue-membraned eyes of his. For one cannot accuse another of denying the truth and then crawl under the bed to hide when the very same concepts come confronting him boldly in the face.

His lips parted on the verge of speech, a sudden redness in his eyes as though he were about to say something he might later regret, but before he could do this, a familiar saccharine voice rang out to their side.

"Baroness Andares. Cardinal Abategiovanni. I trust I am not interrupting?" Freya Maeve, with her saintly smile and flawless appearances seeming to materialize out of nothing. How much of the exchange had been heard was almost impossible to tell given the woman's maddeningly ability to take on the ethereally placid demeanor.

"We must talk, Baroness, I am sure there is much we shall discuss, if you don't mind, Cardinal." Her sweet voice traveled across the distance, but no warmth could be felt. The elderly human bowed once, gave Tiyribi a final look, almost a beseeching one, before he retreated back, hobbling away into the shadows to leave the two women alone within the sanctified halls of the Faith.

Freya boldly sat beside Tiyribi, her eyes watching at the stained glass with quiet marvelment. She appeared quite unable to be brought down no matter the situation, an infuriating optimism coloring her exquisite eyes. She offered a reassuring smile, like a friend would to another who was distressed, before her words, so simple, yet so dangerous at the same time, fell from her tongue.

"How do you find the Cardinal?"
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Old April 11, 2013, 12:04 AM   #11
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After so long, those precious words she had fervently desired were spoken—and yet not a single drop of comfort entered her soul. Those troubled eyes, the clouded expression, and the burdened mind watched the cardinal hand out that precious assurance that he did understand with one hand, only to immediately and cruelly take it away with the other. No, he saw only his purposes and rights too, this man of the cloth. He was no better than the rest of the Maeve that inhabited these walls—and perhaps worse, given that his only concern was for the preservation of self and flock with no thought to a future beyond such baseness.

Tiyribi’s gaze dropped, fortunately before the rest of the priest’s gentle tirade began tumbling out. He assumed too much. He thought he saw, thought he could predict, but in reality, all his assumptions were based on half-facts and perceptions tainted by being thoroughly uninvolved. In another time, in another life, that might have been commendable; it was, after all, the first almost-impartial, unattached viewpoint she had heard in the many long lifetimes lived between what had happened in the Maeve house in Daltina and now.

But to her ears it sounded like another condemnation, another judgment, and another attempt to pressure her into breaking faith with her husband and every loyalty she held dear. Gods, it still hurt. He had asked the same of her that most terrible of nights in Primus Gaudeo the very last time she had seen him, and Tiyribi had refused then too. One could call it stubbornness, delusion, blind faith, or destructive devotion, but it was the path she had chosen, voluntarily, and she would not be swayed from it by the personification of cold-hearted law in Liliana Maeve, or the kind-hearted practicality in Cardinal Abategiovanni.

Though the frown and look of disagreement had been plainly written on her face since the very beginning, she’d said not a word, instead choosing to allow the cardinal the freedom to finish his train of thought. She saw clearly that despite his self- and parish-preserving motivations, the aged priest did also have a care for her welfare too, despite the misguided nature of his suggested policy. It was a generous act, Tiyribi knew, and one that did much to soften the blow of his next words.

“Eminence, I—” and there she paused for a moment, glancing up and showing clearly that the previous expression of negativity had shifted into one that spoke ever so clearly of doubt. “—I fear that you have far more trust in the goodness of men and the nature of the divine than I,” Tiyribi said softly, almost whispering now, and so fully aware that such sentiments were bordering ever close to sacrilege in these most hallowed halls.

Whatever else might have been said or discussed was quickly wiped away with the sound of a voice that was already becoming all-too-familiar in the hallways of the Basilica, and instantly Tiyribi retreated back to her careful, blank expression and posture. All the sincerity and the overflowing confession that had existed between herself and the cardinal just moments before was now totally gone, and only the stone-faced, dull “guest” of the Maeve remained.

But her eyes, those violet orbs that so often betrayed her so, followed the cardinal as he began to make his farewells with just a bit too much attention to be considered casual. She stood, properly, and nodded both a goodbye and a greeting in turn as the one compassionate priest was replaced with a porcelain replica of the same. The flaws were what made her believe that Cardinal Abategiovanni was genuine, Tiyribi realized—flaws that Freya Maeve, the perfect hostess, utterly lacked.

But the moment was soon ended and the reality came crashing in again instead, and she braced herself to face it all once more. Slowly, and only with great effort, did her gaze turn back around to the Maeve Baroness, sitting too, looking too, and listening too. This was all play, Tiyribi knew—and Freya had to know it too. That was why she was here. That was why she was sitting so close. And that was why she was pretending that they were even closer.

“The Cardinal?” Tiyribi repeated to give herself a few precious moments to filter through her thoughts before she spoke any of them aloud. “He was very kind. I’m afraid that I’ve fallen out of the habit of attending service, and thus His Eminence was gracious enough to share comfort.” There was little else to be said. Either Freya would have heard the words spoken already during her walk across the deserted floors of the sanctuary, or she would soon enough when the Cardinal was sure to pass along the conversation’s contents.

“What do you wish of me, Your Grace?” It was a beginning, a foray, and yet also a laced request—but with what remained inscrutable. Humility? Mockery? Pliability? Or perhaps something more appropriately in between.
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Old April 12, 2013, 05:02 AM   #12
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Her flawless, radiant orbs watched the Cardinal as he withdrew before she turned an understanding and sympathetic glance Tiyribi's way, her lips pursed together with an indulgent expression. She nodded as though it were tacit knowledge, as though she herself was an adherent of the faith and so was pleased another lost one was returning to the flock.

"Please, call me Freya, let us at least try to be friends, despite the situation, I bear no grudges against you, and neither should you me." She seemed sincere, but then Tiyribi had accurately pinpointed what made the woman unworthy of any trust -- she bore an unnatural perfection, and no one was perfect.

Even the Cardinal of the basilica had shown he was not above the petty imperfections that plagued the momento mori -- short-sightedness. Yet this one before her was being effusively sweet without any recrimination, and exacting no payment for her kindness that she had shown her; for even if it was insincere, it was faultless and blameless.

It may make Tiyribi jittery but at the very least, she was not rotting in a Daltinian gaol with nothing but Liliana's harsh, unforgiving glance upon her. Here, at least, her plan had a modicum of success. She had hope. In Daltina, she had nothing.

Yet Freya's smile did not waver, far too poised, far too sublime to be appreciated normally. Like religious icons of saints that now surround them in the basilica, with a certain divine beauty that inspires beauty and terrifying authority in the same instance.

"The Lady Lindsay Genevieve Maeve, in her kindness has sent me in her stead to ensure your stay with us would be a comfortable one as possible," She paused for a moment, as though watching and waiting for her reaction, before beginning again, with a rosary of sighs escaping her daintily-crafted lips.

"And of course I do regret last darkening's pracenda." Referring to of course, the arrival of the Governor of Enamoria and the subsequent fallout that followed. The two had not had a chance to speak until now on the matter, and right now, her eyes belayed an unspoken concern and care, quite different from the shock that had colored her eyes before last darkening at pracenda, where she had appeared even unable to react appropriately given the abruptness of the matter.

And then she became accommodating again, and clearly dispensing altruism far above Tiyribi's station, given the circumstances. The Maeve had indeed gone above and beyond their duty to disguise her house arrest as nothing more than a social call -- if indeed, her stay with them may be for a time.

"Is there anything you would desire during your stay with us, any special arrangements?"

And then she paused for a moment, before one hand came to veil her lips, relaying her fear on the matter. Eyes dilated with fear and anxiety, but then her voice was so drippingly sweet and at times, it seemed almost so genuine that Tiyribi might even begin doubting herself of her paranoia on the woman.

"More importantly, have you heard from your husband at all before your arrival in Daltina?" Her eyes were wide, caring yet dry, her hand then empowered by a woman's liberty, were placed above Tiyribi's like a gesture of reassurance, letting her know that whatever they shared between them would not be used against her or her loved ones in any manner.

"Do you know of his intentions?"

And so it seemed the games were beginning again, and Tiyribi must be armed to do her own battle.
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Old April 12, 2013, 07:08 PM   #13
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She didn't like that, and despite her many eras of practice at hiding reaction behind polished veneer, it did her no good now. Instead, the distaste at the Maeve lady's use of first names, as if this was somehow personal and warm, showed plainly in the way her eyes dropped and the corners of her mouth pinched. Tiyribi nodded, but didn't agree. She made appearances, but she didn't believe. No, Freya Maeve might put on pretenses like she was human, like she craved all the same things that the rest of mortal-kind did, but Tiyribi would never believe it.

No, for all her efforts of frank, almost overwhelming kindness, Tiyribi found herself craving the selfish concern of the old cardinal instead. At least that was honest in all its cracks. This show of Freya's Tiyribi found borderline offensive, as if they believed her enough of a fool to be put off by delusions of sincerity and the slightest drop of kindness would instantly weaken her resolve.

They might have stolen much from her and she might have voluntarily offered the rest, but that pride at least still remained, even now.

"Then I have much to thank the Lady Duchess for," Tiyribi replied, but left it at that. Was the unscrupulous Freya a more pleasant replacement than her immovable relative, Liliana? Were these truly comforts surrounding her or merely disguised shackles? And yet now these thoughts remained swallowed behind a far more acceptably empty and absently polite expression, digested as they were by the realization that nothing here, including Freya Maeve, could possibly be what they appeared.

She noted, of course, the almost casual way Freya dropped the name of the regnant duchess as if they were good friends, and again the lack of proper address for the arguably most powerful woman in Enamoria. But why? Freya was playing with Tiyribi, and had been since she diverted the Esh'lahier away from the aged cardinal and swung the conversation according to her steering rod. No, they were not friends, no matter how much Freya insisted, and Tiyribi would not forget that fact, no matter how much Freya pressed informality on their conversation.

Her hands wrung tightly together, and by instinct her fingers played with the polished ring that still sat rebelliously on her left hand. The mention of that most awkward and discomforting of meals brought another shadow across her face, and Tiyribi shook her head delicately. "For that, I owe Your Grace and the Baron a most sincere apology for my behavior." Her voice was low and gentle and fraught with gene remorse. "I can offer no excuse for my abhorrent behavior. I am quite sorry." And that, she truly meant.

The talk of special arrangements brought a flash of thoughtfulness across Tiyribi's mind, and she paused for a moment, even going as far as putting a finger to rest lightly against her chin. "Mayhaps, if Your Grace would be so kind, there might be some allowance made for my sister to stay here temporarily, should her obligations allow travel to the province." The true nature of her relationship with Noe didn't need to be mentioned, nor did the contents of the letter that Tiyribi still prayed daily had been deliver by Éclair to their intended recipients.

And then whatever pleasantness, however muted, had been crafted between them instantly evaporated when Freya began probing Tiyribi about her husband--the nucleus of the matter that currently bound them all so dangerously and precariously together. She said nothing at first, biting down on her lower lip out of sheer habit and letting her eyes slink away into the opposite direction. It was offensive, she realized, to hear Freya talk about her beloved no matter how casually, and Tiyribi felt her stomach turn when she realized that while she had, for a moment, forgotten what had brought her here, her captors never had.

She repressed a sigh, just barely, and again squeezed her hands more tightly than the last. "No," she said simply, trusting herself to say no more without daring betrayal. At least half of it was true, but Tiyribi opted to let Freya try to divine what she could in silence without extending the least bit of courteous assistance.

"Her Excellency the Lady Al'lende made clear mention of moving ahead with legal proceedings," Tiyribi diverted instead with reminiscing of that disgraceful pracenda, knowing well that the offense would irk the otherwise spotless record of hostess in the Maeve Baroness. "I've no desire to interfere. Enamoria is hers to govern as she wills." But did she do so at the will of the Maeve? Even despite the near-altercation between herself and the light born, the tension between Elanara and the Maeve couple had also been palpable--a fact that had occurred to Tiyribi only long after, when passions had cooled and tempers had calmed.

It all meant something, Tiyribi knew, like every small thing in their line of chosen profession always did, but it was always a matter of judging, predicting, and managing the inevitable consequence.
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Old April 13, 2013, 02:42 AM   #14
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"You were provoked, unduly, may I add." Freya's voice was understanding, almost reassuring, and the lightest touch of a conspirational tone touching her lips. Tiyribi's earlier gratitude expressed was met with a mild nod of Freya's head, though nothing more was said on the matter -- it was clear that this matter had shook the higher echelons of Maeve to take a personal and vested interest in guiding and in that, the Andares could perhaps interpret her own relief or regret as she would.

A dismissive wave of her dainty hands was all that indicated her nonchalance on the matter, as though no offence had been committed, and thus there were none to be taken.

It seemed almost hypocritical of course, that she had been so quiet, so subdued when it had all happened that it seemed even mildly a failure on her part as hostess not to defend the honor of her guest, but then in truth how could she turn on one because of another? That, and of course, Tiyribi would remember her scadalized and jolted visage that indicted that she may not have been as unaffected as she had glibly claimed now.

"Of course, which sister would this be then? The name eludes me, the Lady Sinfaetha perhaps?" She downplayed her knowledge on her bloodline, but it was clear that she had done her own research when it was known that she was to receive her prisoner under her roof, any attempt at mistake or flaws, even if committed in her appraisal, was a deliberate attempt to mislead.

And then of course, when the true nature of her coming here to form an artifice of a relationship was revealed, and Tiyribi's pained response was given, there was a long pause of tensed silence, the custodian of the Maeve property seeming to consider her words and then very quietly and solemnly simply pressed on further.

"Is this truly your wish then?" There was a wide-eyed concern painted across her features, a certain sadness and pity, but mostly a flawless paragon of feminine empathy emblazoned over her sublime features.

Tiyribi's response was in truth, faultless, but the anguish she suffered had so seeped through to betray her own true thoughts on the matter, revealed through her tightening of her slender digits -- and her being here, if nothing else, revealed how much she openly sought to preserve the cornerstone of the Sacred Three, yet a deeper investigation and thought would also lend the conclusion that she did all these for her husband and family.

If only the Maeve were satisfied with her as a penance, a tribute, a sacrifice, but perhaps the Cardinal, for all his faults, had imparted one important knowledge to her after all -- that blood debts could only be paid by blood -- and all their pretence, their attempts to subvert the inevitable tides of men were only for naught in the long run.

"You understand the implications of it all if he was to be apprehended and subjected to trial." Her voice took on a curious tone now. Of course Tiyribi knew, a Governor of the realm did not simply rise to that position by being unfamiliar with such legal proceedings, for herself was an extension of the Empress' Will, and the Empress herself an embodiment of the inviolate Articles.

But surely she must see some sense that she needed some form of support to acknowledge her sacrifice and the things she loved that she had given up. Freya was attempting to impose the impression that she too, could somehow be of aid, though her unearthly perfection left little to be trusted.

The concept of which, however, was not entirely false -- she could not do this alone, for the stress and duress she suffered was already started to fray at her being.

Surely she must see that if the murderer was arrested, then the inevitable condemnation of his soul and flesh was only a thing of timing.

Unless Freya had completely read her wrong, and her being here was to demonstrate the utter detachment of her ties with her husband, disavowing him and by default, his crimes, yet somehow still understanding that by her marriage to the one that had caused such grievous harm to her patron Lords and Ladies, that she too, must pay a price?

Perhaps so, but Freya also remembered her outburst last darkening at the pracenda, and it was clear that she cared, foolishly perhaps, but she still cared.

"Mayhaps the situation should not need to deteriorate, surely from Aeris and Aryun you would learn as much that we are not as unreasonable as we seem." How the names of the dead came so easily and emotionlessly to her tongue, and the lack of care was almost chilling. Yet there it was, was a mild hint of light, of hope and a recrimination as long as Tiyribi would dance to the tune a little longer yet.
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Old April 16, 2013, 11:39 PM   #15
Tiyribi Andares
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Again she felt that now-familiar chill run down her spine when Freya proved herself sympathetic and understanding, and again Tiyribi found it all that more impossible to trust any word that the woman spoke for mere fact of its depth of kindness. *A slight flinch of expression betrayed her, but the tone of her voice was muted and polite enough when she finally replied, "Perhaps." She had been aggravated. She had been provoked. But she had also betrayed herself in the deepest and most sensitive of ways, and for that particular sin, she'd never grant herself forgiveness.

They were not friends, she reminded herself again, as Freya smoothed over the awkwardness of the volatile pracenda with easy reasons and indulging conversation. They were not allies. In truth, though, the Maeve were not enemies either. She had come here of her free will and voluntary choice, and the price that she continued to pay each and every day was minutely small compared to the degree of hope she fervently prayed it would buy.

She flinched when Freya mentioned Sinfaetha's name casually as if she ws just an acquaintance, and yet a part of her knew that it wasn't and shouldn't have been a surprise. The Maeve knew, just like they always did, all the ins and outs and the details that continued to keep the empire in thrall. It was what had both bolstered and assured their power for decades now--and now it was being used against her.

"No," Tiyribi admitted, slowly, instinctively weighing the prospective consequences of deception and honesty equally. *How much did Freya know? That, it seemed, was a question that followed in the petite woman's very step. How much did she know of Tiyribi's past, of her doubtful future, or of anything in between? Pursing her lips, she shook her head and averted her eyes all in one motion. "My cousin the Lady Sinfaetha is of too delicate and gentle a constitution to travel much outside of Medonia." It was another deception, but few outside the family had ever suspected the cold steel that lived underneath Sinfaetha's delicate exterior. Still, there was a ring of truth to it in the careful way Tiyribi had corrected Freya's assumption, either purposed or accidental, and the Esh'lahier hoped it would be enough to distract the other from pressing too much further into the matter.

A quick roll of her shoulder could have been construed as a shrug. [b]"Noe is a sister by custom. It is our agreement that I offer comfort to her whenever her travels bring her near me, and in return she shares what she knows and has seen of the realm beyond."[b] That was true, too. It just wasn't all of it. Of course, she hadn't the slightest hope that fate would be kind enough to bring Noe here to Daltina, nor did Tiyribi truly have any intention of sending for the younger Esh'lahier--but somehow, someway, doing such trivial things and making such small details come to theoretical conclusion gave her comfort.

The thought of trial and conviction and all the other most hateful words that the Enamorian governor had spewed so easily just the night before turned her stomach and again Tiyribi felt her hands seeking it out, pressing down on its surface as if to quench the churning inside. No, Faust would never submit to a law he believed unjust and a court that had already made its uninformed, prejudiced decision. He had, after all, been brought up in a world where the only right was that created by might itself, and thus words and letters held little sway over his conscience.

That had driven her here, among all the other myriad of reasons that had caused her to elect to stay a voluntarily prisoner against those whom her husband named as enemies. He may have not seen the worth of law, but she did. She was Esh'lahier, and an obsession with the Sacred Three and its precepts would have run through her veins even if she hadn't been a governor and therefore servant of the imperium, as well. No, she did indeed understood all this--and that, not a tinge of respect for the Governor Al'lende or a shadow of fear of the Duchy of Maeve, compelled her to stay and obey.

"My wishes are satisfied so long as we continue to have peace," Tiyribi replied softly, knowing full well that they were anything but and that the perceptive eye and ear of Freya Maeve would know it, too. She wanted her daughter. She wanted her husband. She wanted her freedom. But such things weren't possible to her now given the choice that she had made in that detestable Daltinian gaol, and now she was brought here without recourse or escape.

Yet even Freya Maeve saw the temporary nature of these arrangements and sought to warn Tiyribi of it, whether again to cast fear and doubt or as a kindly admonishment was left unknown. Still, Tiyribi wasn't much inclined to believe Freya capable of the latter. "Mayhaps. Though, then, I must ask: what do you have in mind?" It was an accusation as much as it was a question, as Tiyribi knew all too well that Freya had a plot already hatched in the corners and twists of her brain. She was leading to something by bringing up the last pracenda and by casually dropping the names of her murdered relatives, and yet somehow aligning herself to their motives, too.

Aryun and Aeris had, after all, sought her out in Primus Gaudeo. Now Freya was seeking her out in the Basilica. How was it any different? They had brought a proposal of business and pride. She brought one of motives yet unseen. Everything was a game to them, and Tiyribi was tiring quickly of it.

A blood debt, the old cardinal had called it. In some ways, she craved that as the end to all of this.
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