[Main Chapter] Kingsmeet [Closed]

The powers that be meet to discuss their plans for the New Year.

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:10 am

2nd of Intas, 2719
The Paper Tiger | So Surprisingly Early
Do thou snatch treasures from my lips,
and I'll take kingdoms back from thine.


Richard Brinsley Sheridan
All of Vienda was quiet, what with everyone sleeping off last night's Clock's Eve celebration and resting in the icy glow of a fresh new year. Well, almost everyone. The Paper Tiger was usually not open at this bleary house of the morning, and yet in the blue-grey darkness before the sun's first rays crawled over the beautiful Palace walls or caressed the familiar statue of Crosstown Court or crept through the smog of the Soot District, the upper class pub was actually rather busy.

Lit not by the ruddy glow of phosphor lanterns but mostly by the flickering warmth of candles and a pair of lanterns, bodies huddled around a gilded table, poured into red plush seats like last night's ever-flowing booze. The hair of the banderwolf in the form of various fruity liquors, a steaming pot of kofi har, and an impressive spread of breakfast pastries was scattered over the well-waxed surface.



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Smoke curled like an etherial serpent from the lips of Silas Hawke, the smartly dressed wick leaning back in his chair with a cigar between his teeth and a glass of Hessean pear wine delicately balanced in his lithe, bejeweled fingers. His fine, well-tailored suit was cut as if for a jent, but the white silk scarf and wide-brimmed hat along with the silver tinkle of so many earrings gave the man away as what he was: a wick.

A wick without a writ drinking with so many familiar faces this morning.

Grinning around the spur, his dark eyes wandered over the faces of his compatriots, aware that some of them were still so very hungover and giving no clocking cares whatsoever. They should have known better. He did. Some of them he expected. Others he didn't. If he snuck a wink in somewhere, nobody noticed.

"Gentleman, have we all broken our fast well enough?" The King of the Underworld offered coldly, setting his glass daintily on the table and leaning forward on his elbows, the jewels on his fingers catching the flickering light like some dazzling bit of vroo while he wove them together to rest his chin upon them, puffing his cigar as he spoke, "Old business first, eh? New year and all that."

There was the discussion of trade routes. The muttering and grumbling about the prices of spices and silk. A comment on silver and platinum. There was a mention of the Vein, Silas leaning forward against the table just a little bit more as if suddenly perking up from sleep, but then—

"The Resistance refuses to become old business." Grunted one of the men seated around the table, an older man with one bloodshot eye. It was difficult for Hawke to look at anything else, so unsettling was his disfigurement, "We've wanted them quieted for years."

Slowly, the wick nodded, hiding his disappointment behind a deadpan expression.

"It's become abundantly clear there's no formal law to speak of in Old Rose, regardless of how proper we pretend at appearances." Spoke a second man who clearly disliked the Bad Brother before him and everything he stood for. Silas amused himself with the thought that the High Judge's voice might have been distilled into a noxious cologne called Pure, Unmitigated Contempt (for men), "And, consequently, there is nothing to rebel against there, save you and your band of ... associates. From your reputation, I know you're remarkably skilled at keeping the population grumbling under their breath with minimal unpleasantness. How great is your influence beyond the Harbor?"

"My grasp exceeds my beach," replied Silas, smooth as silk, before taking a long puff on his cigar and blowing smoke rings in the older man's direction.

"Clever." Remarked the man with the bloodshot eye.

"My dear Mr. Julian Megiro, I'm always clockin' clever. Expect it from me an' maybe, just maybe, we'll be friends."

"Oh my, thank you." Julian replied over-dramatically, raising his mug of coffee for emphasis, "But your company may be a bit too rich for my humble blood."

"M'haps." Hawke sniggered, rolling his dark eyes and adding from over the rim of his wine glass, pinky out, "But I doubt it."

"As Captain D'Arthe here can confirm, the Seventen are prepared to provide you with ample compensation in exchange for a steady stream of information," High Judge William Azmus all but growled from his seat, glancing at Damen for emphasis, "We have no interest in the Rose. It is, if you can forgive the slight, a foregone conclusion. We have no interest in controlling the Vein. I hope, despite the inevitable, that we might continue to uphold the ancient, unspoken understanding between the government and you—and your ilk—"

The wick narrowed his eyes and snuffed out his cigar on the waxed tabletop with a vicious hiss,

"William, darling, I have no ilk." His glass tinkled with how firmly he set it down, "I have no peers, no brethren, no kin, nor do I have any successors, confidants, contemporaries, or even admired cohorts. Let me remind you that your little comfortable world here depends raaaaattther heavily on my continued survival, ye chen. Because I am unique—in what I do, in how I do it. No one could do what I've done thus far. Now, we've moved into new business, me thinks. Go on, let's discuss what this new year has in store for us, eh?"

word count: 1010

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Raksha
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Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:33 am

2nd of Intas, 2719
THE PAPER TIGER | TOO CLOCKING EARLY
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Damen D’Arthe sat straight backed, in his perfectly pressed green suit and snaps, formal sash across his chest and severe salt and pepper facial hair well manicured and oiled. His Bastian tan was marred slightly by the touch of bleariness in his eyes and the haggardness under them. A vein throbbed mildly under the thin skin at his temple and his field gently thrummed in time. He was hung over, woefully so, from the Clocks Eve festival and yet it would have been a ridiculously poor move to miss this meeting. Judge Azmus had suggested his attendance was required, given the wick that called himself King of the Underworld would be there. As far as Damen understood, Silas Hawke was a necessary tolerated evil, for the good of Vienda. He was the well that they dipped their bucket into, in turn for rich galdori to turn over coin into. Economic turn over with rich kids like Benjamin.

Like Charity.

It was the perfect way to keep his headstrong daughter submissive and under thumb, and had in turn given Damen the ‘in’ he had needed with the Oculus. Any man willing to serve Vienda by any means necessary was an asset, the ones who would get the job done, no matter what. Of course, it had to be done in a way that would never leave a trail, never make connections to himself. Diaxio had already been identified by his patrol officers in the Stacks, involving herself with the wrong people and trading in the illicit opiates available at the time. It had been easy enough to win her over, to loop her in with promises of power and whispers of family. Of belonging.

And so, here he now sat thanks to the insecurities of teenagers and the greed of man, and by the Gods he felt like he belonged. This was his Alioe-given right to be part of this circle. Rhys bloody Valentin had nearly ruined it all, but he’d got his comeuppance. He’d got his clocking just desserts. Sure, the bastard still had Charity, but by the Pantheon that wouldn’t last. Damen D’Arthe would not loose to a farmers boy. All things would come in good time.

Turning his piercing blue gaze on the men at the table as Azmus mentioned his name, the Co-Captain of the Seventen Patrol Division laced his hands together on the table before him and nodded curtly.

“Indeed the Seventen are prepared to ensure all information is…greatly and graciously accepted, Mister Hawke.” He parroted after his mentor, pressing his lips together as the self proclaimed King of the Rose uttered barely veiled threats towards Mister Megiro. The wick overstepped, but it was clear that he had the upper hand and the right to do so.

For now.

“Yes, terribly unique Silas. Nothing could ever replace your…generous support.” The High Judge said in a voice laced with honey and dripping with a mild amusement, as though there was a delicate game underfoot and he had an Ace in his hand no one was yet aware of. Looking at Damen, the man tilted his head, giving him the floor in a practiced speech.

“Ah, the new year, thank you for that reminder of why we are here Mister Hawke. One year closer to the Cycle turning. One year left to show the other Kingdoms that Anaxas will continue to be a seat of power even when we hand over the reigns. Our King and Queen are ailing, and show no signs of moving to strengthen our position before then, and Ophelia’s ties with sympathizers are of public concern. Her blatent disregard of the way things should be is giving Jon Serro and his goons too much confidence. This year the Resistance staged riots in our very streets. By the Good Lady we caught the cell members that were responsible, and they were hanged, but unrest is still out there. There was that breakout, with three dead officers and as many injured. Not to mention the destruction of Crown property, which our good tax payers have been unjustly inconvenienced by.” The Bastian said in a strangely quiet, yet commanding voice, the rumble of his baritone holding just the hint of something curious. Something more in his words than he was saying. Letting his eyes sweep over the table, he looked at Silas, then to Julian.

“There’s a lot of rumor about Serro planning something else, something big. Of course, it’s just rumors at present, but if something were to happen. Something with the Resistance’s name behind it, imagine the rallying of the people against them.” Stroking his beard, Damen looked over at the other newcomer at the table, Incumbant Vauquelin. The red head had been an acquaintance and a contemporary at Brunnhold when they were both lads, but there had been the bizarre incident where the man had disappeared for months. Apparently a harsh backlash resulted in a brail, and had essentially wiped the man’s memory temporarily. He was back in the service of the King now—as much as any of them at the table were—and the Seventen Co-Captain had been advised that he should bring the man into the fold.

“I hear Dorhaven is popular this time of year. Very busy, full of holiday makers and fellow galdori looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Vienda.” Captain D’Arthe said with a nonchalent shrug, letting his words sink in with the others that sat around the gathering.

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Tom Cooke
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: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
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Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:38 pm

🙞 the paper tiger / uptown vienda
on the 2nd of intas, 2719, so late it's early all over again.
Top of the gods-damned spice rack, all this shit was. Tom had been in the Paper Tiger only twice before, and he couldn’t say he liked it – at any rate, he couldn’t say he preferred it to the Dove, as if that were the metric by which all watering holes were measured. Was it pretty? Was the liquor quality? Was it comfortable? Yes, yes, and yes, if overly cushy; all that was the problem. It was too gods-damned comfortable, too fucking gilded and padded and polished and golly, so that it looped right around and became uncomfortable for the only “human” – perfectly disguised – sitting in their midst.

He had to admit, though, that there was something satisfying about seeing all the good and the great of the realm this hungover. He kept trying not to look at Megiro and his fucking eye, though that spiderweb of bloody veins wasn’t the only thing that was worth staring at. The whole table was a jumble of unfamiliar faces and familiar names, faces to which he was just learning to put the names: he had to suppress a jolt every time he heard the name Azmus tossed around like it was nothing. And there, right in the middle, tekaa in a sea of galdori—

Tom had to be careful not to meet his eye, not to do a damn thing that would give him away. He wasn’t even here at Hawke’s behest. His glance flicked back over to D’Arthe, iron-grey and dark-faced like a storm, sitting ramrod in his formal greens. Looking a little deflated from, he imagined, last night’s reverie. Again, he wondered why he was here.

Things just kept getting more complicated.

If you hadn’t heard that Incumbent Vauquelin had been under the weather, you might not have noticed anything unusual about him. By all rights, he looked healthy, or at any rate no sicker than anybody else at the table; he sat leaned a little forward on his crossed legs, nursing – occasionally swirling – a glass of twemlaugh. If he twitched occasionally, shifted, rolled his shoulders as if he were uncomfortable, it might have been anything: his chair might’ve been unevenly stuffed, or the cut of his suit might’ve been unideal. He gazed about him appreciatively, sweeping the faces around the table with large, alert grey eyes, as if he had any clocking clue whatsoever what was being discussed. Occasionally, he even threw in a subtle nod or a flicker of a wry smile, if he was absolutely sure it was appropriate.

More than anything, he was doing his damnedest to catch any subtle glances his way he could, any indication of what he was in for. Whatever the hell kind of nonsense he’d inherited when he’d decided to hop into this life. So far, the conversation on the Vein had been less than satisfying; he had an inkling that Hawke might’ve been a smidge disappointed, too. Especially with how quickly the conversation was turning onto other matters.

If the irony of his presence here in a discussion about the Resistance had occurred to him, he gave no outward sign of it. If it irritated him, he did not swallow thickly or tighten his grip on his glass; he knew better than that, and had never much cared for politics anyway. If Hawke’s exertion of power – if a wick getting away with all that in the presence of so many galdori movers and shakers – amused him, he didn’t let himself smile.

But when Captain D’Arthe finally spoke, he fought to push down his surprise, and succeeded only by the skin of his teeth. He’d heard about the hangings – weren’t much of a concern to him, being honest – but there was something in D’Arthe’s words he couldn’t quite read, something he’d half-grasped and then felt slip between his fingers. Then the Seventen Co-Captain mentioned Dorhaven, and Tom took a quick sip of brandy.

Oh, hell. Huh. So that’s what we’re doing.

When the captain met his eye, he raised his eyebrows, as if to say, That would be something, wouldn’t it?

Why had D’Arthe looked at him? Was he supposed to say something? What expression was he supposed to make? Should he have known about this?

His eyes flicked around the table from behind the rim of his glass, studying each face, each gesture and minute expression. Careful, of course, not to linger too long on Hawke. Lowering his glass, he held it, running one delicate fingertip around the rim. Fought to keep that thin smile on his face. His left eyelid gave a brief flutter – gods damn that tic – but otherwise he looked only faintly, pleasantly surprised, as if D’Arthe had just stated his intention to throw a party sometime in Bethas.

The aftertaste of an almond croissant lingered in his mouth, soured and made cloying by the brandy. He kept eying the remaining wedge of a savory tart a little way across the table from him, but he reckoned the time to make a grab for it was long over.
🙝
word count: 925
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Muse
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Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:21 pm

2nd of Intas, 2719
The Paper Tiger | So Surprisingly Early
"Oh,William, sweetheart, I had no idea ye felt that way about me, an' really, we all know it's the support of the Six Kingdoms' coin that I've got. Mujo ma." Silas winked flirtatiously at the High Judge, giggling while rings sparkled on his lithe fingers and his dark eyes hardened like obsidian daggers aimed straight for the older galdor's clearly cold heart.

Shifting his attentions reluctantly to the Seventen Captain in the room, the King of the Underworld settled in to listen to the chrove of a man with expectation on his handsome features. He bit his lip at the mention of the Resistance, clearly displeased by this turn of conversation, clearly keeping in comments about who or what caused the Riots in Yaris with just barely a flicker of displeasure in the turn of his thin lips. Hawke had paid quite a handsome bit of coin to the Yellow Eye to pick their fight with the Red Crow during one of the hottest days of the Dry Season, and he'd been ever so pleased by the week-long chaos that it caused.

It had been a smashing success: clogging up the work of the Seventen, drawing attention away from his huge shipments of firearms, and allowing him to murder several fucking annoying rivals all in a handful of days.

And this ersehole wanted to give the Resistance credit?

Gods, this was what Anaxas had come to.

Silas tittered an unhappy sigh, dark eyes drifting to watch Incumbent Vauquelin consider an attempt to reach so indelicately for a pastry in time to keep his damn confused mouth shut despite the question. But he didn't. The King then cocked his head like the predatory bird of his namesake toward Julian, narrowing his eyes, and inhaled sharply as if he was about to make some snide remark.

Instead, as if appearing from nowhere, an older, dark-haired galdor slipped between Hawke and Anatole, reaching without shame for the final tart on the table as if it had always been his, shaking it with irreverent indigence at the Bastian Captain as if he had every right in all of Vita to do so,

"Dorhaven will be full of young galdori families, Damen. And while nothing spells down with the clocking establishment like the murder of children, another godsbedamned hanging isn't going to rally the people in the wake of the up-coming end of the Symvouli."

"You're late, Magister Devlin." High Judge Azmus snapped as if he'd been stung by a bee even as Miegro slunk further back in his seat at the sight of the man.

If Silas smiled, it was only in his eyes which crinkled at the edges just so while his lips remained a tight line of curious interest.

"Am I? It sounds like I'm right on time. As usual." Castor smirked behind a mouthful of pastry, the weight of his Perceptive field settling over the table as if it had more of a mind of its own than anyone ought to know what to do with, "For a man that commands the Patrol Division of the Seventen, Damen, you're clocking out of touch with the people you protect. Now, I don't know why you felt I needed to be here, William, but gods if these are the folks you're taking advice from, I don't expect you to hear a word I have to say. Everyone with their finger on the pulse of the Resistance would know Serro wouldn't care a damn bit about Dorhaven—"

"—isn't that the point?" Quipped Julian, his meager words eliciting a cackle from Hawke who drummed on the table with his fingertips.

"Yer such a bright one, Julllesss." Purred the King, rolling his shoulders as if he longed to rub them against the Magister's next to him, "Speakin' of bright an' of families—what this idea needs is a bit of fire. Everyone rallies 'round a nice fire and there ent nothin' like a bunch of moths drawn to a flame. I get what yer sayin', Cap'n, even if the rest of these stiffs ent on our level, ye monster."

Hawke might have crawled over the table and onto Damen's lap if he laid it on any thicker judging by the facetiously wicked grin on the wick's face, quite aware that this was a clever act of framing the Resistance and not an open invitation for Serro himself to make something happen, so to speak.

"What's in it for me?" Hawke fluttered his eyelashes at the High Judge and blew a kiss at Anatole.

Magister Devlin cleared his throat and rolled his eyes, "What you lot should be doing is preparing for the next Cycle. Or deciding what to do about the Queen. Not pretending blowing more shit up is going to solve your popularity problems."

Almost in chorus, Miegro, Hawke, and Azmus breathed the same words, slightly out of synch, "Shut your head!"

Awkwardly blinking at each other in flustered surprise, Silas looked back to his conspirators expectantly, waiting for some offer of trade or service, completely nonplussed by the idea of terrorizing a town in Resistance disguise. A bit of silence followed, perhaps too much, and the King faked a gasp of horror, bejeweled fingers raising to his lips and eyebrows arching incredulously, "Yer not really going to do this Dorhaven plan without me, are ye? Oh, gods—y'are!"
word count: 961
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Raksha
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Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:59 am

2nd of Intas, 2719
THE PAPER TIGER | TOO CLOCKING EARLY
Image
Lifting his gaze to the newcomer, Damen barely hid his scowl of disapproval at the Magister, taking in his words with a smoothing of his sash and straightening of his shoulders. He looked down at his hands with a cool smile, letting Azmus and Julian take their snipes at the Perceptive as he settled in to berate the Seventen. The Captain had voiced his share of unpopular opinions before, and the snarkiness of some ‘holier than thou’ Brunnhold professor was hardly upsetting or even surprising. Afraid to get their hands dirty, those scholarly types.

By the Circle the man couldn't even talk without food in his mouth. Was this really the best Brunnhold had to offer to them? How on earth did they have such high standings in Anaxas?

What was surprising, was Silas’ almost flirtatious agreement with himself, his name for the Captain almost a compliment. The Bastian turned his gaze to the King of the Underworld and gave him a small nod of thanks, unsure how to feel about the fact a wick was standing up for him but taking the win anyway.

“At least some of us see the bigger picture.” He said quietly, before lifting his chin and speaking a bit louder, addressing the Magister directly.

“Children and families are everywhere, Magister Devlin. Sacrifices are made daily across Vita for the good of each Kingdom. Gior exiles people, Hesse sends them to the goldmines. It's all buried under official process, but at the end of the day these are sacrifices to keep their Kingdom's running smoothly. Anaxas should be no different, should we want to take bold steps in the right direction. People might be more predisposed to a few hangings once they’ve lost a few kinsmen. We are the only country dealing with this Resistance issue, and frankly the only country that continues to provide leniency for this activity.” He said with a matter of fact tone, lacing his fingers together to rest them on the table, and resisting the urge to roll his eyes when Devlin had the audacity to continue to press the ethics of the matter. Ethics were all well and good in Brunnhold, but they didn’t belong at the political table of Vienda.

Ethics didn’t make the world turn.

The chorus of voices telling the professor to be quiet was all the validation that Captain D’Arthe needed, looking to the Incumbent beside him with a raised brow and a contained smirk. As everyone sat in the pregnant silence that followed, it was clear Hawke was expecting a written invitation to participate in the event, the wick finally breaking the tension with an exclamation of false shock and hurt. Letting his piercing blue eyes wander to his mentor, Damen paused for a moment, gauging Azmus’ face before looking back at Silas.

“As the representative for the Seventen in this meeting, Mister Hawke, I am sure there is some sort of…agreement…we could reach that would allow us to take advantage of the skills and resources that someone such as yourself could provide. Perhaps you and I could iron out the details post this session, maybe over a good glass of Gioran Cognac and a Bastian cigar?” His smile couldn’t be called warm, but it was far more inviting than any expression he would cast in Devlin’s direction. The High Judge stroked his face quietly, allowing the raven haired man lead the conversation with the wick, giving his dog it’s lead so to speak.

“If so inclined, Incumbent Vauquelin may wish to join us, as part of the Kings council of representatives? Then, all influential parties would have a say in the finer points of the matter.” The lack of a scholarly representative was not a mistake, though Damen’s face didn’t change. He had no respect for them, and as such their hurt ego’s didn’t phase him. Including the Incumbent, or at least offering the olive branch, meant that there was a supposed impartial party involved in the situation. A Kingsman who could justify the reasoning behind the actions.

A Kingsman who could potentially lend Crown coin should the operation require it.

word count: 737
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