(1874-11-26) When the World Was New
When the World Was New
Summary: The trio continue towards Candeo and Myrana tells a story about summer and winter moon.
Date: 26th Nov
Related: Not Really
NPCs: None
Myrana  Ivo  Ludovic  

Hellsmouth - Keep Candeo
Set on a hilltop is Keep Candeo, passing the earthenworks that look recently dug, one can see two round, barracks-like structures that flank the Keep. On either side the road way leading toward the door are two fenced off areas that make up some kind of training grounds.
IC date of RP

The walls of the settlement where you overnighted in Stevens Pass fall behind steadily as the trio make their way towards Candeo with nothing but a pair of outriders ranging out ahead for security. Soon after that the border falls behind their hooves as they pass from the lands of d'Bartoni into the approaches of the small keep.

"Cervantes and Imogen picked a forward camp just up there." Ludovic points across at the remains of a village up on one of the hillsides. "Took it and then held it for several months. They had whats now called Candeo here under siege and I invited Darius to come assist in the final assault. Thats how the Imperials ended up controlling the place."

Ivo didn't sleep particularly well the night before and has kept largely to himself for most of the day so far. Once Ludovic starts explaining their surroundings though he draws his horse up closer so he can hear. He glances up the hillside as the village is pointed out, the looks back to the road ahead of them. "It's closer than I imagined," he offers non-commitally, as if he's not sure what to say as they ride on towards Candeo. "What sort of welcome are we likely to find there" he adds, "or will we skirt round it? To keep your presence in the area quiet and all that."

Myrana rises to stand in the sidesaddle's single stirrup as they survey the hilly landscape, her long white braid swaying behind her and one knee bracing on the saddletop with practiced ease. She shades her eyes against the cool sunlight, searching the trees for movement and simply taking in the scenery.

"You said these lands are patrolled, Ludovic?" She asks, sinking back down into the saddle with a creak of leather and a jingle of silver. "Whose men patrol here?"

"Theres no need to hide." Ludovic says. "We were heading there unless you really want to skip it and travel straight onto Paras?" he tilts his hat back as he peers up towards the fort. "Paras might be a good trip. I've only been once since the invasion but I rather like the tribune here. She was a d'Meloni before she traded sides you know? Not that I blame her for the choice. Being a sorcerer in Aequors not easy."

He looks to Myrana at her question and gives a shrug "Almost exclusively Imperial Myrana. They claimed these lands over the archduchess and my objections and I don't want to escalate things into a war."

Ivo nods once at Ludovic's reply, glancing across to Myrana to see her opinion on heading straight to Paras or not. "I've not been in Imperial lands for a long time, ten years perhaps? I never made it as fara as Paras though, it will be interesting to see." There's a faint look towards the d'Korbina as the reason for the Tribune's change of heart is given, but in the end he just nods slowly, "so you say, and I do not doubt it." Back to his cousin he asks, "what do you say? Shall we inflict ourselves up their hospitality?"

"Of course," Myrana demurs. "I suppose our friendly nepotic tantrum wouldn't want you seeing what he's doing in your lands. Do you have agents here?" A bold question, and bluntly stated, but they are alone in the hills, with Ludovic's Elementi sure to alert them should that change. Like Ivo, Myrana's eyes have dark smudges from sleepless nights, but she's confident in the saddle, even if she's clearly exhausted despite their stay in an Inn. If she slept at all, there's no real sign of it.

Gazing up at the village, she considers Ivo's question.

"…I'd like to see what's going on there," she muses. "And it'll be a cold day in hell before I ask permission from thieves."

Ludovic grins across at Ivo. "Far as I'm concerned this is still Hellsmouth and the Imperials are nothing but squatting. Makes me damn angry that nobody will make a decision on the rightness of Paras' ownership." He grumbles for a moment. "Everytime they call it imperial paras, thus claiming ownership, I just want to drive a hammer into their teeth."

He shakes his head to Myrana's question. "Don't know much of anything about them nor the qatunax Myrana. Its embarassing how little I know to be truthful. I didnt even know about this whole legion showing up until they turned up on my doorstep demanding my surrender. And things aren't any better now - I got sick of sending scouts out to die."

He raises his hand to signal the outriders and then turns their path towards the keep. "They've tarted the place up nicely. For a place that was nothing but a knightly holding its really become something impressive." He turns his head towards Myrana, watching her for several long moments before finally saying whats on his mind. "Do you have any idea what the King and Queen feel on this land? Are they going to sign it over for a peace treaty or are we likely to go to war?"

Ivo turns his horse towards the keep, taking a moment to straighten up in his saddle and stretch out his back. "If they've been throwing money at it for renovations then they're unlikely to want to part with it," he notes unhappily, "let alone it's strategic value given it's placement. They might just have taken it to give them a strang bargining position, but I doubt it somehow." This part of the kingdom isn't his speciality though, so he offers no more speculation for now, turning instead to hear what answer Myrana might give. "Their sorcerous Tribune though," he asks, as a throught springs late to his mind, "does she know about MAthis?"

Myrana nudges Thyme back into a walk; the gentle palfrey tosses its head and moves with the other horses towards Candeo. Up in the saddle, Myrana draws at her lower lip and glances at Ludovic out of the corner of her eye, clearly not sure how to answer. "I don't know the royal mind," she replies at length, arranging her skirts so that they fall more modestly and properly. "But I'm sure they do not want the Imperials here. The- Her Majesty doesn't confide in me, Ludovic." this last is added with a more direct look, even if she looks away evasively. Embarrassed. "I- I wouldn't quite know what to do if her Majesty did. People don't think anything that ridiculous, do they?"

Looking at Ivo, she blinks. But she shuts right up, listening with perked ears for Korbina's answer.

"Its only real strategic value, far as i'm concerned." Ludovic grumbles at Ivo. "Is protecting Paras against ME." He thumps a fist down on his armored thigh. "Was a damn stupid thing to do. We were trying to work as allies. I'd likely have let him have the damn fort if he'd asked for it instead of siezing it. Don't think he'll be happy with anything except me taking him as my liege and I dont even think we both have the same idea of what that means. Besides." He admits. "I've not enough reason to break fealty." He sighs at Myrana's answer on his question "Was more hoping for opinion rather than any words. Feel like if they had made a decision they would have told me, or at least the archduchess." He frowns deeply. "Me. I think theres no hope for taking it back. Not now the white hallers have carved so much land out." A grunt. "Even before. Its not like I had much luck getting the Lords to answer the call. Everyones sick of war."

He shakes his head at the second question. "Alia spent most of her life in the alchemists guild in Four Corners. Far as I know she's the most high ranking d'Meloni left." he shakes his head. "Not that it matters. She's imperial now and their lands might as well be on the other side of an ocean for all the hopes I've got of getting there."

Ivo had, like Ludovic, hoped for more of an answer from Myrana, but his years in Lyionesse when he was younger mean he isn't overly surprised. "I'd ask if there were rumours at Court," he states with a wry smile, "but unless things have changed since I was last there, that would be akin to asking if there way water in the sea." Then, to Ludovic, "what contacts I still have that way don't likely know, or if they do then are honourbound not to say I'm afraid." Eyeing the tower as they get closer he takes another chance to stretch out his muscles and then uncorks his wine skin for a drink. Offering it over to the others he can't quite deciide if the answer regarding Alia is good or bad news. "I suspect," he starts, slowly, "if they ahve such a network of trained sorcerors, that they are likely alert enough to know of some of the threats you've mentioned. Hopefully they'll fight on the right side should it come to it."

"I'm sorry, Ludovic," says Myra, quiet and earnest. "You are an honest man, and a terrible actor. But… you are a good Viscount. It is only that Darius is devious, and you are not."

Slowing Thyme to ride beside her cousin as the track through the hillside widens a little, she laughs at his assessment of Court. "I would rather be almost anywhere in Aequor than Lyionesse; the court is terrifying. I always feel like a mouse in a trap there. The palace is full of alcoves; no-one could possibly know where they all are, and I'm sure some of them have never been swept behind their hangings."

As Ivo takes out his wineskin, she hmms, and starts fishing around in a saddlebag.

"Yeah thats true." Ludovic says to Myrana. "I'm no politician. I just dont get how it helped him towards his stated goals, thats all. I mean.. why didn't he wait? If he'd done it six months down the line, after we'd both experience of working together, i'd likely have forgiven it."

He tosses Ivo a smile and a chuckle. "Wouldn't surprise me to discover 'the cardinal' is a high ranking senate member who's sitting on Darius' shoulder like one of those talking ravens croaking that he should 'make Ludovic unhappy'. Sure thats arrogant but then the only reason i'm still alive is so that he can ruin me first."

Moving on to the other question about sorcerers networks he tells Ivo. "The Imperials have sorcerers as part of their military. I doubt its the freedom they claim it is but I gotta admit I find it interesting. They worship the One too you see - yet their mm church doesnt seem to automatically brand sorcerers heretics." He nods at Ivo. "And theres no doubt they seem to hate the Qatunax. From what i've picked up the Qatunax smashed their way through the Imperial Empire before showing up here."

Myrana gets a nod and smile of agreement about the vultures of court as Ludovic takes a moment to wet his lips with the contents of his own waterskin. Ivo's earlier offer having been refused with a smile and a 'thanks'. "You know we recaptured some of our men who'd gone over to the qatunax? One of them bit his own tongue out to avoid talking to us but the other was pretty happy to chat. Said that Tavat would make me a noble if I changed side." He chuckles at that before giving them both a rather serious look. "Theres one thing that keeps bugging me. Like it matters and I just cant fathom out what the link is. See I get the whole worshipping the sun and death and war and that sorta thing. But why is there both a summer and winter moon? And why the heck does it feel familiar."

"I miss it sometimes," Ivo says of Lyionesse, "but then I suspect our experiences were somewhat different." She, no doubt, has far fewer nights of wine and barbrawls to look back upon. "And I had the added bonus of no one paying attention to me, or not in the same way at least," he smiles faintly, "all I had to do there was look dashing, and be ever alert to the call to action." Taking another drink from the wineskin he caps it again, then shifts his gaze to Ludovic as he mentions the Cardianl. It takes him longer than it probably should to realise that that's a joke, not a recounting of the actual state of affairs, but once he does then he relaxes slightly and smiles back. "I'm sure a priest would have something to say about hubris, but I'm not a priest so.." He shrugs with a carelss attitude, then nods as the topic turns to the Qatunax, but he offers no reply on the subject of the moons.

"His goal is to retake the West for Vir Sidus," Myra's voice is muffled by the lapels of her warm angora hood, for she's all scrunched up digging around in her saddlebags for something. In a sidesaddle, this has a fifty-fifty chance of becoming immediately akward. "When he proposed to Jasmina, thinking he would find an easy way to place his men in Aequor without hostility by marrying one of the most powerful women in Aequor. It would legitimize him here, and any force sent to thwart him would be drawing the Crown's own blood through Jasmina." By the end of this, she is growling, and if it were dark out one might see tiny flicks and snaps of static dancing like fireflies over her hood and the cashmeri of her riding cotte.

Fortunately, the sun is out, and the birds chasing the south wind over the hills trill brilliantly. Instead of visible irritation, one is treated only to the sight of an irritable young woman unable to find what she's looking for because every single saddlebag has too much in it and she can't remember where she keeps anything. She grumbles and cusses inaudibly to herself on the subject of Darius and his unforgivable treatment of Jasmina, a subject which is always sure to get her riled up.

"AHA!" She exults at last, lifting a wedge shaped package of wax paper bound in bright green twine. Triumphant!

"I wish I'd gone into the knighthood like Achille," Myrana says, sighing jealously at Ivo's description, as if she personally feels she'd be really really good at that part of being a Cavalier. Or maybe she just really wishes she were one. "I found a dog's head in my bed the second week at Court and someone had tossed my things all about the room.

As Ludovic talks about what he's learned of the Imperials, Myrana seems preoccupied with undoing the twine. Really, she is listening.

"Summer Moon is the big gold one," she drawls. "And Winter Moon is the little white one." Then she tosses the black-rind cheese to Ivo underhand.

"Thats not quite what I think his plan is." Ludovic tells Myrana. "I think his plan is to retake the Empire but that he wants the west to provide him troops to do it. He once told me the senate sent him here to die. That he needed my help. The thing is, after everything thats happened, I dont think he's willing to consider an alliance. I feel he needs us to be auxilia in some way? No idea what that might be. But he's demanded i become an auxilia for him at least once."

"Yeah. That might be why he proposed." Ludovic agrees on Jasmina. "Or he might genuinely have been struck by her bravery and beauty. She's not exactly unimpressive." He gives the two a smile. "Could just be a romantic."

A smirk for Myrana. "Its not to late you know. I'm sure I could find a dozen reasons to have you knighted."

A grin for Ivo. "Don't worry. I'll spend a week on my knees in the next church I find. Just as soon as I have time."

Myrana gets a dry look followed by an equally dry. "I know that Myrana. What I don't get is why they split the moon into two whole gods and why the name feels familiar. Suppose.. it could just be because I heard it on a drive once.."

Ivo is briefly startled by the flying cheese, but his reactions are good enough that he catches it without needing to juggle to keep hold. "Ooo," he says appreciatively, apparently agreeing with mixing of that particular cheese and the wine, "good choice cousin." He doesn't know enough politics to get properly invovled in the discussion of motives, but the idea of the King and Queen being reduced to Auxilia gets a thoroughly unenthusiastic look and he shakes his head slowly. Not on his watch (even if it's not his watch anymore, still no). As Ludovic suggests knighting Myrana he actually laughs, for the first time that day, "I could take you as squire if you'd like cousin," he offers, utterly failing to keep a straight face, "although I can't guarentee you a blue cloak I'm afraid, you'd have to earn that yourself." Bracing for the beating he's likely to receive for that he takes a chunk of the cheese quickly, before she takes it back.

"Because," Myrana sticks her tongue out at Ludovic. "There are two whole moons!" But she relents, straightening in the saddle and tossing her head. "Haha- sorry! Wait, what?" She snaps her head around to goggle at Ludovic as his joking threat hits home. Horrified.

"B-but I don't know how to- how to…" But then Ivo joins in and she twists around to look at him. BETRAYED!

But of course, they're just teasing her. Realizing this, she blushes, and wings a horse-apple at her cousin's head. "Bah!" She huffs, then laughs in embarrassment, shaking her head. Unfurling an arm with all due dramatics, she covers with a slightly raspy: "Once upon a time…!"

When the world was new and the trees were new, and you and I were birds and grass and wind and rain

The King of Hell and the King of Heaven looked at the ghosts of Tirth and knew that something must be done. Souls wandered in the woods and waters, the valley and hill, and left no room for the living

'I will take the good' said the King of Heaven. And, 'I will take the wicked' said the King of Hell.

But neither could leave their halls, and though they threw open the Gates into Creation, nothing changed. They realized that the souls of mortal men and women could not find their way without help.

Ludovic gives Myrana the kind of smile that suggests that he might actually follow through on the knighthood idea. He doesn't say anything, listening.

Ivo see's the throw just intime and leans abck in his saddle, leaving the apple to wizz harmlessly past his nose. To add insult to injury he tosses up his far hand and catches it too. Sitting straight once more, and still laughing to himself he stuffs the apple into one of his saddlebags and tirns to listen to the tale his cousin is telling.

Seeing this, they decided that they would ask the Moons for help, knowing that nothing could be hidden from them where they sailed over Tirth.

The King of Hell asked Winter Moon to gather the souls of the wicked to him, so that they would not plague the living. Winter Moon agreed, and guarded the Gates of Hell so that none of the wicked would return to Tirth as hungry ghosts. Likewise, the King of Heaven asked Summer Moon to gather the souls of the good to him. She agreed, and beat a path in the rushes of the stars for their journey to be easy.'

Myrana reaches for the wineskin while she tells the story, thirsty from recounting the old faerie tale as she's learned it from her obsessive research and collection of these sorts of things.

"On All Souls Night, Summer Moon and Winter Moon are released from their duties as guardians of Tirth, and spend the night in the skin of living mortals." She wiggles her fingers, a little parched. "So you must always be polite to anyone you see when the moons are dark, in case it is one of those pagan gods, inhabiting the body of a stranger, or someone you think you know."

"Huh." Ludovic says. "Poetic old myth." He starts to lift his waterskin, glances at her and then adds "Thanks Myrana."

Ivo offers Myrana back her cheese as she reaches for the wine, they work well together, and a good story should always be rewarded. Even if it is only with the storyteller's own cheese. "Interesting," he says, once she's finished, "although what happens to any who die on All Souls Night? Or do they simply get gathered up a few hours later, once the moons have returned from their jaunt into human form?"

"I suppose they turn into ghosts," Myrana accepts the cheese with a smile and carefully balances it on her uppermost knee as she draws the knife from her belt. Carefully, carefully, she starts trying to cut herself a piece from the main wedge. "It makes me wonder if all ghosts are from long ago, like the story suggests, or if they maybe… miss some? Hrmgh…" The black rind is tough, and she sticks her tongue out of the corner of her mouth as she concentrates for a moment on what she's doing.

Ludovic gives Myrana a long look. "You sound like you believe it."

Myrana meets Ludovic's eyes challengingly, temper flashing. "I am devout in my faith," she says, bristling. By faith, of course, she means in the Church of the One.

"Do try not to bleed on that," Ivo says helpfully to Myrana as she starts to cut the cheese, "you'll ruin the more delicate undertones of the flavour." He's about to make another quip but notes well enough the looks between his two companions and decides that further frivolity can wait just a moment or two. Glancing round for a distraction he fails to spot a timely Imperial patrol, so is forced to go it alone. "A good storyteller always sunds like thhey beleive their tale," he notes, "it's part of the art."

"Never questioned that Myrana." Ludovic tells her. "Just" He hesitates and then, sounding a little awkward, and looking a little embarassed, offers. "My apologies Myrana." He looks a little relieved at the words Ivo offered. "I never meant to suggest nothing. Was just" no shut up Dovi. He stops and finds something incredibly interesting in the engravings on his saddles horn.

Myrana flushes, and looks down. Her temper gets out of hand, and she knows it, but still she minds how she's using the knife like Ivo suggests and simmers down a moment.

"Sorry," she says. "Sorry- I've been having nightmares, and it's making me more of a bear than I should be. There!" She offers the cheese to Ludovic in mild apology now that she's cut a piece away, and tucks her knife into its sheath again. "No blood, even. But… well! Maybe the story is true." She turns the cheese piece about in her fingers, anxious. "In some way."

Ludovic accepts the piece of cheese with a grateful smile. "Its alright Myrana. I was out of order." He nods up to the fort. "And we're here. Hopefully you can learn some of what you want from the imperials here. Might even have their Princeps or the Consul in place. Its not rare to find them here."

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