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AoW: Threat Roundtable

This is an event for Academy of War members (and associates). We will be having a roundtable discussion on the current threats facing the Compact. This will NOT be an evidence-exchange situation, but instead guided towards a more general discussion. Folks will be encouraged to continue the discussion within small groups outside of the event, based on people finding common interests and the like. Members are encouraged to come prepared to speak briefly about any threats that might be of interest to the group.

There will also be free food and alcohol.

Anyone interested in joining the academy prior to the event should contact Kael and Natalia via messenger, or may show up to the event to express interest in joining.

Date

July 7, 2018, 9 p.m.

Hosted By

Natalia Kael

Participants

Pasquale Briar Alaric Gareth Cristoph Norwood Valerio(RIP) Dycard Thesarin Monique Octavia Kaldur Seth Reigna Laric Ven(RIP) Cullen Jasper Jael

Organizations

Location

Arx - Ward of the Crown - Academy of War - Headquarters

Largesse Level

Grand

Comments and Log


Marchande, Khan, a massive Caucasian Shepherd Dog arrive, following Briar.

Sis, a redheaded morning person, Briar arrive, following Natalia.

Monique turns her regard to the newly arrived Jasper and Pasquale, greeting them with a smile and a low, formal nod. "My lords. Join us, won't you? we were just conversing before the meeting's start. Are you members, or thinking about membership?" She murmurs something quietly to Ven, smiles gratefully to Dycard.

Confessor Wick, 3 Armed Confessors, Confessor Jayson, 1 Grayson House Guards, Confessor John, Confessor Burne arrive, following Gareth.

Kael's arrival with Reigna is likely of no surprise to those that know the Count and Countess Keaton. The young woman is on his arm, being escorted in as is typical for the pair. Their step perhaps is a rather swift one, making certain that they are not arriving late but rather are just on time. There's a certain amount of trust that the caterers are doing their job this time, you see. Kael nods to the familiar faces, and a great many are offered smiles even as he is moving to pull a chair at the large table out for Reigna before taking one for himself. "Thank you all for joining us," he says to the gathered group.

Pasquale strides in, pausing to get a feel for the room, before entering in full. A slight bow is offered to Monique. "My lady. Considering membership, for my part. I'm called Lord Pasquale Malespero, Minister of Warfare for my House. I thought I'd best come and see what there is to see."

Sis, a redheaded morning person arrives, delivering a message to Kael before departing.

Kael has joined the a large wooden table.

Reigna has joined the a large wooden table.

Even if Jasper doesn't take a drink Seth pours one for himself before joining his cousin once more. To Monique's inquiry, he states, "My cousin is planning on joining, so I figured I'd bring him here for this meeting to see if it is to his liking. Looking back to the table, he makes some form of introduction, "I'm Lord Seth Steelhart and this is my cousin Lord Jasper. Just arrived back into the city in time for, well, this." Those words said, he looks to join the others at their table just as Kael greets them all. As he settles himself into his seat, the larger dogs sits beside him while the smaller lays at his feet on the opposite side.

Seth has joined the a large wooden table.

There's no return smile from Jasper to Monique's greeting, but then the somber attitude of the Steelharts is well known. Instead, he gives a bow to her at her words. "The latter, my lady. My cousin--" his hand gestures towards Seth, aafter his introduction, "Is already a member and recommended that I might be interested. Even though I am new returned to Arx, I think it behooves me to be up to date on current events in this space." Kael's welcome turns his gaze towards the Lord for a moment before, with a nod to Seth, he moves to take a seat beside his cousin, his own hound coming to rest beside him.

Jasper has joined the a large wooden table.

For all that her steps are fairly swift as Natalia makes her way into the academy, she's laughing and grinning up Briar's way at whatever conversation they've been having. She gestures him towards the tables before she sends a sweeping look around, taking stock of the place even as she shrugs out of her jacket, starts in the direction of the front of the room. Sis heads to fetch a tumbler of something for her, the alcohol not very far behind the no-longer noble. She laughs when she spots Kael and Reigna, speaking up when he greets those assembled, "Yes. Thank you, everyone. It's good to see everyone." When Seth introduces himself she smiles his way, then offers to the group, "I am Natalia Whisper; if we could get everyone to introduce themselves, I imagine that would be helpful." Those caterers must have left QUITE the impression.

Striding in from the outside and knocking some snow off of his boots with a huff of cold air expelled from chilled lungs, Cullen glances around the room and gives a swift bow. "Greetings, all." Dark grey eyes fix on Monique with a grin, the Greenmarcher going to take a seat somewhere near his cousin with an audible sigh with a dip of his head respectfully to Kael and Reigna, "Count and Countess Keaton, always a pleasure to see the both of you."

Cullen has joined the a large wooden table.

Natalia has joined the a large wooden table.

Reigna releases Kael's arm as she moves to take a seat, looking around the room with her curious gaze. She nods to those she knows, and those she does not know are afforded a friendly smile all the same. She is quiet now, simply observing for now, though there is a brightening of her smile as she inclines her head to Natalia, offering the whisper a happy wave.

Jael has been paying the greater share of her attention to the buffet table, but when the Keatons enter she tops the plate off with a couple more selections and settles next to her brother Cristoph. It's surprisingly how much food the slender woman has set in front of her, but she certainly seems prepared to put a dent in it.

Cristoph enters the meeting with Norwood on his arm. Well, no. Not quite. The pair of them are seen at the doorway pushing at each other kind of ineffectually, actually. Until the duke gets one impressive shove in, which has him laughing. /Triumph/. Then he quickly gets into the room and sets down, looking perfectly innocent when Jael sits next to him. "Hello, sister."

Dycard is already seated at the wooden table; he inclines his head politely to the new arrivals as they appear, greeting the more familiar faces with a smile as well. "Dycard Blackshore, and good evening to all," he says in response to the words of Natalia. "Not a member here, but interested, if my presence is not objected to." His accent is rather more refined than his clothing, which is new but nothing special.

Lord Kaldur Seliki arrives unattended by guards or hounds, humble House blade at his hip, with courtesies offered. A nod and murmur of greeting especial for those he recognizes... the Lady Monique, Sir Norwood, Lord Cullen. "Lord Kaldur, Sword of Seliki. Ehm," he clears his throat, "We haven't settled on a title for my position. It changes week to week. This week," his brow furrows, "I believe it is Minister of Mightiness. Though- eh. Sword is fine." His grin is lopsided at he settles, near to someone he knows if possible.

Kaldur has joined the a large wooden table.

That whole shoving thing is absolutely normal. Norwood trips over the edge of a rug and laughs before firmly regaining his composure and bows to those who are in need of said bowing before settling near the other Laurents more slowly. "Lady Jael." There wasn't any weirdness going down, nope.

"Greetings, Lord Greenmarch," Kael says with a nod of his head toward Cullen and a flash of a smile. His focus is moving on then toward his Co-Chair and there is an inclination of his head toward Natalia with a flash of a smile. "Yes, indeed. I am Count Kael Keaton, for those that do not know. I do see some unfamiliar faces here. After we introduce ourselves, I would like for everyone to think of a current problem that they face, what they might discuss. Threat, big or small. Some discretion is of course advisable." There might, just might, be some emphasis to the latter portion of his words. Kael turns then to speak back to Ven, clearly so, but he turns rather suddenly with Dycard's introduction to appraise the other man. After that study he tips his head toward him, just so, and then says those few words to Ven. Before flashing a grin of greeting to Cristoph.

13 King's Own Guardsmen, Zelda, the royal messenger arrive, following Alaric.

"Please don't break Sir Norwood, it's very hard to get new parts in," Jael tells her brother laconically, though there's a smile and wave to the knight himself as he settles in nearby.

Briar is laughing as well, shaking his head at whatever he and Natalia had been chatting about upon entering into the academy. He nods as the gesture is given toward the table and moves to take a seat while Marchande moves off to the side.

Arriving quietly is a figure in aeterna white, complete with the blue sash of his station across his torso. A gold torc fashioned into a Hydra is upon his neck. That someone is showing up in their military dress is likely not unusual, the fact that it is Valerio, and he is out in public without his armor? That itself is an incredibly rare sight. Rumor has it he tends to sleep in his armor, even at home. Valerios head turns towards his assistant and guard detail and he jerks his head for them to go entertain themselves as he bypasses the buffet table to head for the Keatons first.

"I do not think that any of us mind right now if non-members join us; we are in the process of getting settled, still. I do ask that if you think you have something to contribute, that you do consider joining; if what stops you is the tuition, please let either the Count or I know. There are scholarships available. That goes as well for any any of you might know." She does nod her head for Kael's words, agreement. "We do not wish to -- thank you, Sis -- we do not wish to speak of anything confidential, this evening. If it is not something that anyone here should speak of to anyone they choose, do not speak of it to us. Please." The thank you was because the redhead chose just that moment to hand Natalia her her tumbler.

Gareth has joined the a large wooden table.

Standing in turn, the serious-looking Jasper speaks: "I am Lord Jasper Steelhart, recently returned to Arx after some time home. I am not a member of your organization but am here at my cousin's behest," a gesture to Seth, "And am interested in membership. If there's no objections, I should be pleased to remain for the discussion." He gives a half-bow, after Natalia's words regarding non-members, and reseats himself. After a moment, he leans over to snag a roll, tearing it in half, chewing slowly, somber expression never leaving him as he glances to each person as they introduce themselves.

Alaric strolls in all fashionably late. Since his giant retinue makes it pretty hard to sneak in, he's basically just owning it. "Good evening, everyone. Apologies for the tardiness. Unavoidable delays, you know how it is," he declares breezily. "Don't stop on my account, I'll catch up." Right after he raids the buffet table, anyway. Seems like he's been so busy he hasn't had a chance to have a snack in quite a while.

Pasquale gets himself something to drink - water - and finds a place to sit. Listening with interest throughout the introductions in that same 'weighing the room' sort of way. His name and title was already given, but he supplies as needed as he mingles. Pasquale Malespero, Minister of Warfare for his House, here to consider membership, and such. "Discretion, of course," he affirms soft as he settles.

Briar has joined the a large wooden table.

Monique takes the time to greet everyone she recognizes, leaning over to hug Cullen fondly. She listens to Natalia's introduction and then the introductions of others with attentiveness.

He cuts off a crisp finger to forehead to salute for Kael when the other man smiles at him. But Cristoph is content to sit back this meeting and he'll talk when it becomes his turn to in the circle. As the King enters, there's a brief wave to him but since he requests tht everyone continue on, he stays seated. Eventually his elbows find their place the table as he peers between Jael and Norwood, checking to see if either of them will speak first.

Norwood has joined the a large wooden table.

Gareth enters quietly. Well as quietly as one can when CLACK CLACK CLACKING his cane against the ground. The red longcoated Inquisitor makes his way slowly to the table, each step assisted by the crack of his cane. The Inquisitor moves quietly and goes to seat himself at the table, going to rest his cane against the table as he sets down. His sharp eyes flicking around to those gathered.

Taking a sip from his cup, Seth observes as everyone begins to rise to introduce themselves as was requested. With each name mentioned, he studies each face that goes along with that name; nodding to those whose gaze meets his own. He's been in the city for over a month now and there are still people he has not yet met. With Alaric's entrance, his steel gaze focused on the King as the man... raids the buffet table.

Jael waves to Alaric from over her own piled-high plate, then jams a pointy laydlike elbow into her brother's side.

After draping his green and black coat over the back of the chair he has seated himself in, Cullen returns Monique's hug with enthusiasm before wandering over to the buffet table to pick up some various samples of fruit and a mug of Laurent mead, setting it back at the table. Realizing there's likely people here who do not know him, he bows again. "Lord Cullen Greenmarch, also not a member but looking to become one. Oh, greetings King Alaric..." Looking vaguely surprised as His Majesty and a swarm of King's Own show up, the Sword of Greenhaven returns to his spot next to his cousin.

Dycard nods to the new arrivals, and to those who introduce themselves - until the King arrives, at which point he rises to offer a politely-elegant bow. That done, he reseats himself, giving Ven an odd look.

On His Magesty Alaric's entry, Kaldur's eyes widen and he coils, ready to spring to his feet. But no one else is doing so and so he freezes, tensed, eyes traveling around the assemblage. He eases back, eventually, and shifts, looking quickly left and right. No one saw that, right? Right.

Reigna gets brieflly to her feet as Alaric joins the room, and then takes the opportunity to introduce herself to the room, "I am Reigna Keaton, Countess of Oakhaven and guildmaster of the Physicians Guild of Arx. I work as a scholar liaison between the Academy and the Scholars of Vellichor as well as with the Physicians and assist in coordinating better communications between unit commanders and medic units." After this, she retakes her seat beside Kael and looks momentarily pensive.

Norwood has left the a large wooden table.

There's a whole bunch of eyeing going on between all the Laurents and Norwood finally rises and says simply, "Sir Norwood Clement, Sword of Artshall." Simple, to the point, and then he's sitting again. Jael. Cristoph. YOUR TURN.

A lift of brow from Jasper betrays the somber Lord's momentary surprise at the King's presence, already pressing fingers against the arms of his chair and half standing before the man requests that they continue. He sinks back down, but gaze follows Alaric for a moment towards the buffet table, before returning swiftly to noting the introductions.

Norwood has joined the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Ashe, the studious Stormward paralegal, 2 Kennex corsairs arrive, following Octavia.

Pasquale has joined the a large wooden table.

Alaric has joined the the buffet tables.

Natalia smiles warmly when the King arrives. Ven's raisesd hand has her glancing his way, but she just looks to Kael before swinging her attention away again. She eventually steps forward to tug a chair out, settling herself down into it and smiling encouragingly down towards Briar.

Kaldur gives Lord Jasper a sympathetic look. 'You-and-me-both-pal,' it says.

Cristoph casts a look of amusement in Norwood's direction and rises to his feet. "Duke Cristoph Laurent of Artshall. I believe that I'm a member." He glances to Jael as if she should know whether or not this is true. "If we're to speak of threats and ones that aren't private or dangerous to even mention outloud, I'll come forward and say that the Laurents have recently handled a threat to our borders in the form of Abandoned that encroached on our lands. I wish that I could say it ended without bloodshed, but unfortunately it did. As these things so often do. I handled the affairs of it from afar, however I believe my sister Lady Jael and Sir Norwood could speak on it in greater detail as they were both there."

Octavia is not usually the sort of attendee one might expect at the Academy at all, but in she comes, vectoring towards the buffet table immediately, more to speak to the King than for the food. She motions her paralegal away - go take notes at the meeting table or something - and speaks quietly.

Jasper gives Kaldur a slight nod in return, though no sympathetic-brothers-in-arms type smile. That'd be far too cheerful for the serious Steelhart.

When it is his turn, Briar stands up slowly and clears his throat. "I'm Briar Marjawn, owner of Spirit Leathers, member of the Physicians, and combat medic for the Crimson Blades. Recently joined with the Academy and protege of Natalia Whisper," he says in a comfortable enough voice. He apparently doesn't have anything to add as far as security concerns go, because he just sits back down and goes back to listening to the others.

With the King's entry, Kael is rising up to his full height before delivering a most formal bow. It is held for a series of beats before he turns back to the assembly group and lowers himself back to his seat. He nods to this or that introduction, matching names with faces, and thereafter is focusing in on Cristoph. "Yes," he says to the other man. "Sir Norwood and Lady Jael, would you speak of the matter? And on a matter close to Keaton's heart, my wife might speak to the matter of Braeock Shadowood. I, myself, will bring up a concern from Duchess Calypso Malvici, who could not be in attendance tonight." When one of the caterers offers forth beverage, he selects water for himself and slides a twin glass toward his wife.

Ven bows to the King when he arrives and then turns to nod in understanding to Kael's clarification. "I'll avoid private issues, then. If I may, one threat I'd like to present that I believe hasn't received wide recognition or response involves the Arx graveyard. A number of Iron Guard patrols present there at night have disappeared. I'm concerned about the possibility that something nasty is using the cover of night to use the pit to enter and exit the catacombs under the city and killing anyone who sees it to maintain its secrecy. Without knowing what it is other than that it is very dangerous it's hard to say what should be done about it. Blocking off the entrance is an option, though."

Passing by the buffet table means he does not need to rise for people to speak, though the Kings appearance does mean he nods to properly kneel and bow first. Once protocol is done, noting various faces. The man plucks first at his collar, clearly not being used to being solely in the dress uniform. A secondshift of the Torc shows that too, is new. "I am Lord Valerio Mazetti, I am the Marshal of Ostria. Since I usually get asked what that means, the short version is in older times the title was known as Warmaster. I am a member of the Academy, and likely will be teaching people tactics." As typical of House Mazetti and Ostrians in general, he reveals nothing else at the moment.

Alaric raises a hand from the buffet table. "I am King Alaric Grayson the fourth, Prince of Bastion, Highlord of the Crownlands, the Sovereign of Arx, and a part-time diplomacy instructor here at the Academy," he declares regally since the introductions are going around. He smiles to Octavia at her approach and points out some of the particularly fine-smelling pastries nearby.

Natalia settles in to quiet now, thanking Sis again when she brings ink, quill, and paper. The blonde begins to take notes, scrawling words across the page fairly rapidly as the others speak. When she spots Gareth she pauses briefly, watching him for a long moment before looking away, no nod or other gesture of acknowledgment forthcoming. Had she not been staring, one might question if she'd seen him. When the King introduces himself she clears her throat, hiding her twitching lips behind a swallow of whatever that is in her tumbler.

Jael stands beside Cristoph; the family likeness is clear. "Lady Jael Laurent, Voice of Laurent and general of the Artshall military. I would ask Sir Norwood Clement to speak on the matter of the Abandoned on out lands, as he was present for all of the recent...tangles with them."

When talks of threats finally are brought, Seth straighens slightly in his seat, so he can better view the speaker who just happens to be the Duke of Artshall. Just the mentioned of the Abandoned in the Oathlands is enough to make his jaw clench. Turning his attention towards both Jael and Norwood, another speaker brings something.. interesting up. As he waits for Norwood to be given the chance to speak, a curious look is cast at Ven.

Gareth returns Natalia's stare rather openly. But like her, does nothing other then just starin'. He watches her, that sharp gaze piercing out of his impassive horribly scared features. When she finally breaks away Gareth maintains his stare for just a few moments before looking away. When it is his turn to introduce himself? "Inquisitor Gareth Grayson." And that's all.

There's a quick conversation between Norwood and Jael before the knight is rising again, bowing slightly to Kael as he asks for a rundown. "Duskshire Keep and the lands about it have been a thorn in the Laurent lands for years. A particular man, Smiling Clive," Norwood makes a super distasteful face when referring to him by that name, "managed to overtake it. Other matters required our forces," demons mostly, y'know, Gyre and all them, "and the lands had fallen completely into Clive's hands. With the assistance of the Keatons," a bow to Kael, "Princess Alis Valardin, and many others we discovered a tunnel leading into the keep itself. With a distraction at the main gate provided by the Princess a small band including myself, Count Kael, Countess Stahlben, and Lady Jael, we were able to retake the Keep. Clive was slain in the process and the lands are firmly ours," super possessive there on that 'ours', "and we are setting up the structures to keep it so." It's almost a speech and Norwood will sit right back down after.

Giving Ven a bit of side eye, Cullen turns in his seat and fixes his attention upon Jael, Cristoph, and Norwood as they speak about the events around Duskshire Keep, sipping his mead with a nod of approval at the demise of Smiling Clive.

Reigna checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.

Kael's eyes brighten no small amount as he catches sight of Valerio. There is a flash of a grin, an earnest and merry thing, and he lifts his chin toward the Mazetti. It is clear in his body language that he means to rise and greet him, but somehow he remains steadfast in his seat to keep to the discussion at hand. Jael's introduction has Kael sobering, and Norwood's further words have him becoming more serious still. He slides a hand into his jacket, taking out some small pieces of parchment and quill, before he starts to jot down notes. His eyes flick to his man, Vern, and his assistant comes near to hover. When Norwood finishes, there is a nod from Kael's head before he looks across the Academy. "If it is not something that Duke Laurent and Sir Norwood," yes, Kael is including the knight in on this, for whatever reason, "are opposed to, perhaps the Academy might offer suggestion on placement of these structures. Or assist with analyzing the structures that are there and how they might hold to attack."

Dycard listens quietly as people speak, looking from face to face as they talk. It seems a great deal of this is new to him, and while he's brought no parchment he's very obviously taking mental notes.

Vern arrives, delivering a message to Cristoph before departing.

Reigna listens attentively to Norwood's recounting, though there is a particular name/title combination that falls after her husband's name and before Jael's that causes a brief but rather intense look of distaste cross Reigna's expression. It lingers there, a dark cloud obscuring her usual sunshine, until she clears her throat and then nods to Norwood in thanks for his report. She then pushes up to her feet and says, "House Keaton has been dealing with a miscreant by the name of Braeock Shadowood, who fancies himself a legend in the making. He refers to himself as the 'Heir of the Reckoning' and has been convincing other Shav'arvani tribes that he holds some sort of demonic power. We've confirmed through evidence given to the Inquisition that his rituals and rites are complete hogswash, however, he is a cunning and devious sort, accomplishing through trickery and deceit that which he cannot do with the occult. He has been responsible for the starvation of several villages, the decimation of still others and has caused mayhem and mischief from the Redwall of Telmar to nearly the lands of Tor to the south. We do not know what his end game is, but the reduction in forces due to the war against the Pirate King, has only made him bolder and more active. Keaton, Moore, Laurent and Valardin have been working together here and there to do what we can, but this enemy might be responsible for activity in other fealties." With this information offered, Reigna returns to her seat.

Natalia's attention shifts focus when Reigna speaks of Braeock, her expression attentive. She smiles at Reigna when she sits again, lifting her glass that way in a sort of toast before she goes back to taking notes.

Cristoph is sitting there, nodding his head along with all of Norwood's small speech. When the other man sits down, he pats him on the arm in a manner that is both congratulatory and consoling. Talking is head. "I have no objections if anyone wishes to take a trip to Duskshire and watch it be rebuilt. From what I understand, it is rather barebones at the moment. Sir Norwood will likely be there often, so anyone wishing to travel may wish to make arrangements with him." After speaking, Vern comes over and hands him a note. He looks down at it and looks at Kael with a raised eyebrow. After a moment he shrugs his shoulders, turns the paper over and scribbles on the back. Then he hands it to Rupert and not his goat. Definitely /not/ his goat. No matter what the rumors say.

Painbow, a militant pygmy goat arrives, delivering a message to Kael before departing.

"It's good to hear that you're taking further precautions after dispatching with such a foe. And I am glad that you are finally rid of this plague on your lands." Seth says with a nod. "We will be doing a survey of Highhill lands in the near future and expect to be met with similar opposition from the Abandoned. Perhaps not to the craftiness of this Smiling Clive, but we shall see." It is then Reigna's news that does cause some alarm to the Steelhart, his eyes narrowing now. "If that is the case, Lady Reigna, then House Steelhart will gladly offer our assistance in this matter. Now I do wonder what exactly we will find during our land survey..."

Kaldur pats around himself a moment before securing a pen and parchment from his satchel. To take notes? He scribbles a bit and then listens attentively to the recounting of events of Duskshire Keep. To Kael's offer of advice, he adds an offer of his own, "And Seliki's Engineering Corps will free up in a few weeks' time." He nods to Duke Cristoph and directs a look at Sir Norwood, "If you've need of a crew of builders with particular experience." He gets a new scrap to write on and scribbles more.

Norwood stays sat while Cristoph speaks and then rises to nod in agreement. "I would be more than grateful for all assistance the Academy might offer in the matter. We will be rebuilding Duskshire almost from the ground up." Kaldur's offer gets an eyebrow arched upwards and then the knight is bowing to the Seliki. "If your crew is willing to travel so far, perhaps we might speak more about that."

Jasper appears still, almost tense, as Sir Norwood recounts the events, the somber Lord paying close attention. That self-same attentiveness is given Regina's tale, and when Seth speaks, he nods in agreement with his cousin.

white-tailed eagle, 2 House Riven Soldiers arrive, following Thesarin.

Kael's not very subtle with his note passing, but it is what it is. When Rupert comes to him, he takes it and glances across the parchment before nodding his head and setting it aside. His wife is listened to attentively and he nods to her as well. "Lord Steelhart, Keaton shall of course assist if you will it. If you have news that he or his minions might be hiding within your realm, we would ask allowance for our forces to enter." A pause before he adds, "To the Academy at large, depending on the play out, we may ask for advice. I will however be writing up the whole of it as a case study for analysis for those that wish to look for common tactics of this enemy. It is an underhanded one, ruthless, and not at all holding fast to the rules of war." Make no mistake, the Oathlander most certainly does believe that there are rules. A slow and deep breath is taken before he continues on with, "Unless anyone has anything to add on the topic of Abandoned -- and please, I welcome you to do so if you do -- there is another matter that I wish to bring forth." He pauses just a moment to wait and see. Kaldur's offer has Kael glancing to him consideringly before inclining his head.

Inquisitor Jonathen, 6 Veteran Confessors, Salvadore, a fire salamander arrive, following Laric.

Pasquale has brought parchment and ink, of course. He takes copious notes throughout. His attention is sharp, though he stays quiet beyond the introduction he gave at the start of all this. While he mostly divides his eyes between looking up and writing, Kael gets his full focus.

There was of course a return of Kael's gesture by Valerio, an understanding shrug occurs, and he completes it all with a big smile towards Reigna. He settles down to listen with the eyebrow over his eyepatch raised, as she rises upwards to speak. After several moments of others speaking up. "Of course House Mazetti will supply Guardians as needed to our good friends the Keatons to assist them during this time. Indeed likely anything else needed as well, not just for Keaton but those also affected."

"Are we talking about all the Abandoned, now?" Thesarin seems like one to talk on the subject, at the least. Tattooed, scarred, and looming large, he looks exactly like one of the raiding shavs from the Grey Forest, dressed up inn a fine overcoat. He glances over the tables, looking at the people in attendance, before glancing back toward Kael. "Or only them brought up so far?"

There is an inclination of Kael's head as Count Riven speaks, a respectful thing, before his chin lifts thereafter. "You may speak on the topic of Abandoned in general if you will it." He takes hold of his glass of water before lifting it to the other Count, by way of offering the floor to him. Lord Mazetti's offer of aid has Kael inclining his head toward him as well.

Laric leaves his posse outside of the Academy, making an unobtrusive entrance slightly spoiled by his red coat and the shining gold on its armored pieces. He takes a look around and slowly continues through, making his way over to join Alaric at the buffet table in an unhurried stride. While he moves, his completely normal pet salamander crawls out from his hood. He murmurs something at it, it chirps back - and then it's off to the races, scurrying down and around the room. It passes under the table and climbs Reigna's chair, alighting on her shoulder with amphibious (???) grace and lifting its mouth towards her ear. It is definitely not whispering to her.



Laric, meanwhile, joins Alaric, picking up a tart.

Laric has joined the the buffet tables.

"Of course, Count Keaton. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. I will contact with you soon with regarding our survey preparations." Seth says in response to Kael, then quieting down as there seems to be other important news at hand. He takes this moment to drain the contents of his glass.

Norwood stares at the salamander. And then is going to look away. Some things are just weird, and Norwood is going to live in BLISSFUL IGNORANCE.

Octavia has joined the the buffet tables.

Cristoph watches as Rupert makes his way to Kael and then settles his hands underneath his chin, waiting patiently. His eyes cast over to Count Thesarin before he returns to the others at the table. Prince Laric's entrance is met with a brief lift of his eyebrows and he hazards a quick wave while the speaking parts are going on.

Dycard inclines his head politely to the new arrival, then gives the salamander the same sort of look he gave Ven earlier. He goes back to listening to the conversation a few moments later. The conversation is, after all, why he's here.

Ven decides he'd like something from the buffet, and leaves his seat to wander over.

Ven has left the a large wooden table.

Ven has joined the the buffet tables.

Reigna's frown disappears as she smiles back to Natalia, and Valerio's offer earns him a warm smile from the countess, Seth's words have her nodding towards him as well. Now, when there is an amphibian hopping onto her shoulder, there is a little shiver and a giggle as if it tickles. Reigna's cheeks shade pink and she gives every appearance of listening though she moves very carefully as if trying not to dislodge the creature. She nods to herself before turning her attention to Thesarian, if she feel awkward about castigating the Shav Braeock Shadowood in front of the Prodigal lord there is no sign of it.

Norwood has left the a walnut wooden table stained a red-brown.

Norwood has joined the a large wooden table.

Laric speaks quietly to Octavia as he scrutinizes a tart, obliquely returning Cristoph's wave with a few raised fingers. His salamander briefly moves in to nose Reigna, then whirls and crawls down her seat. It passes under the table again but isn't gone for long - there's a repeat performance with the Duke of Artshall before the creature scurries back to the Master of Questions.

Kael's quirking a brow as the salamander perches on his wife's shoulder, eyeing it for a moment before turning to look out across the chamber and spying the Master of Questions. He inclines his head toward the other man before turning back to regard Thesarin politely.

A truly familiar face, even a scarred and tattooes large looming Prodigal face, brings a smile to Kaldur's own, "Count Thesarin." And Prince Laric. And that bright red creature who attends him. Lord Kaldur scratches at his upper arm and makes a pointed attempt - with Sir Norwood - not to notice such things. It's only polite. He steers back to the topic on the wane, "Seliki's Engineering Corps will travel. They can lay roads as they go. I've been of a mind to, ehm," he clears his throat, "This may be an item of interest for everyone here. We need better roads. Pearlspire does. The rains come and wash out great swathes. Moving our soldiery was my first thought when we considered it, but it would benefit all manner of endeavors." He adds, to clarify, "Roads." Because the thought struck him and, oh, hey, there's a salamander doodle taking form on one of his notes.

Jael, who has been putting (neat, tidy) inroads in her plate of food, suddenly leans away from Cristoph in a way that is not terribly subtle as the salamander scrambles its way up right next to her before...apparently sticking its face in her brother's ear?...before departing.

Norwood is less obvious about the leaning away, but also, that. Goodbye salamander.

Cristoph is still listening patiently to the conversations at hand, when a salamander scurries into his vicinity. He looks delighted to see the little creature and gently boops it on the top of the head with his index finger. No one laugh at him, no one. He is a refined duke of dukeness. There's a glance in Laric's direction and he nods while suppressing a smile. When Jael and Norwood lean away, he looks confused.

Natalia's attention follows the salamander and people reacting to it. She presses her lips together and sends a glance over everyone assembled, then shakes her head and goes back to her note taking. Kaldur and his words get a thoughtful look, and she nods to herself before writing a bit more down.

Monique scowls at the salamander.

Thesarin nods slowly, and stands with a nod. "For folk who don't know, I'm Count Thesarin Riven, War Chief to the Twainfort." A nod toward Kaldur, and then a look back toward Kael, although it's clear he's speaking to the room as a whole. "I've been to the Grey Forests a times. The one who calls himself a god is moving, and has been for a time. Think how you like tales of demons and monsters in the woods, his slaves reckon it true. Villages of Abandoned laid siege, taken slave, or made sacrifice, if them who live there won't join his cause." The Prodigal gives another short nod to that.

Jael leans back, back in in fact, but this time in order to whisper furiously in Cristoph's ear, fingers twitching in little crawly motions as she speaks.

Alaric regards a freshly arrived note from Zelda with a thoughtful squint and smiles regretfully as he gestures to his retinue to form up. "Pardon me," he declares apologetically, and turns to depart.

Alaric has left the the buffet tables.

"I likely will be in contact with the Engineering Corps, and when we have areas outreach us for aid, we might commission work from them." This is from Kael, of course, and given the funds that are required for such a thing he is looking toward Natalia sidelong for just a moment. After all, she's the financial person! Now, that being said, he continues to Kaldur, "And I would be interested to see research on an area and the impact of such infrastructure advancements for the Academy. It might be interesting to see the impact in Duskshire, for the Academy to review." He gives Norwood a little look there, with that. That being said, when Thesarin speaks, he has the full of Count Keaton's attention. His lips are curving down at the corners, frown growing more bold. "Either a common enemy or a common tactic," he mutters with a scowl.

Natalia just tips her head side to side for Kael's glance, neither a yes or a no.

Norwood is super curious about the whispering, but ALSO, Kael is suddenly talking to him. Tearing his attention away Norwood half-rises. "If it will assist in helping Duskshire become what it could be, then all innovations are welcome. As are any assistance the Academy might be willing to give to the rebuilding." Free money? Norwood's not about to say no to that. Thesarin's words get a more serious look from the older knight, frowning firmly.

Pawn, the courtier's apprentice arrives, delivering a message to Cullen before departing.

Cristoph is involved in a furious whisper fight with his sister.

"Can't say if there's a relation, Count Keaton," Thesarin says with another nod. "But if we're talking on threats among the Abandoned, I ain't able to not mention this one. He's been massing a long while, now, in the Grey Forests and up in the Northlands both. The woods ain't so friendly as they were, when I were a young man."

Kaldur employs folk to know about impact assessments and nods with eyes just a shade wide and a glance to Count Riven, mouth parting briefly. He finishes nodding, his eyes tracking back to Count Keaton, "If it happens when you need them that they're under contract, we can discuss cultivating a Corps of your own." Putting the right smart people together is something he's accomplished before. He scribbles a good bit more before signing and folding missives that travels ALLLL the way to Whisper Natalia and Count Keaton. He adds to Thesarin's account, "Aye, I've seen the cultists myself. And those left in the wake of their dark work."

Kael nods toward Norwood with his words, and thereafter is turning to Thesarin and nodding thoughtfully. Kael takes a deep breath. Yet there is a pause then, Kael hesitating as he deliberates his word choice. "There are certain threats," he finally begins, "that Arvum faces. Threats that are unique in nature, that go beyond the level of the evils of man. I assume most here know of that which I speak, and if you do not, you may feel free to speak with me discreetly on the side. There are... well, many. Far more than they should. Today I would like to broach one of those, for a high level overview, and ask for the Academy's assistance. There is a certain draconic foe," and emphasis on draconic, "that is a threat to the Oathlands. A foe that had at one point made a heavy strike against Blackshore," and he casts a pointed look to Dycard, "and that we know is coming. We have some information, but we need more. If you are interested in working on acquiring information or theorizing tactics against what might appear to be an unstoppable foe -- this draconic one -- I suggest that you speak with Duke Cristoph Laurent. He will be our contact point for this." To Kaldur, Kael is nodding swiftly. "Very appreciated." The parchment is eyed of course in brief.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Kael before departing.

In case anyone forgot who he was, Cristoph lifts a hand and waves at the others. "Yes, that would be me. I can meet with people seperately outside of this meeting to discuss any questions they may have and what sort of information we've looked for in the past."

Dycard's expression turns troubled as he listens to those who're speaking - and then, at Kael's words, startled. "You're saying it really was dragons, my lord?" He sounds worried, albeit with a hint of skepticism. He nods to Cristoph, then. "I'll gladly help as I can with efforts against that, my lord."

Pasquale eyes Thesarin long and intent throughout that talk of the Gray Forest, though it's hard to tell from his gaze what he makes of it. Beyond the hardness in those eyes. His arm goes up, when Kael asks if anyone is interested in theorizing about unstoppable foes. He is. "The main of my studies have been against the Pirate King rather than the other threats facing Arvum, my lord. Still, I would like to help as I can. I've a decent head for tactics."

Oh, a note for her! Natalia smiles down the table towards Kaldur before she actually skims what's written; she does glance to Kael, but then she too nods. Not that she pens a reply right now, just setting it aside.

The Laurent whisper campaign, accompanied by expressive hand gestures on Jael's part, continues apace until Kael names Cristoph as the point person on draconic matters, at which point his sister just makes an exasperated noise as though dragons are /all his fault/ and slumps back in her chair.

"Dragon. Singular, but yes, Lord Dycard." This from Reigna, her serious expression giving no doubt of her sincerity. She does not seem to have a trace of humor within her regarding this topic. "This threat has a particular distaste for those of the Oathlands. We have an interest in finding out what the connection is between Valardin and Blackshore."

Reaching out Norwood is going to give JAel a nice reassuring pat on the shoulder. It's okay Jael. Dragonic things happen. The knight holds his peace as he shifts his attention between speakers.

"A, uh-" Kaldur blinks and his mouth opens and closes. "A- did he say what I think he said?" He squints even harder for the little salamander, where did it go. He murmurs to his neighbor, "Does anyone know what a baby dragon looks like, because..." he makes a pointy pointy gesture at the-- where did it get to?

The very mention of a draconic foe brings a stern frown to Seth's features. His gaze shifts to Jasper to gauge his cousin's reaction to this announcement. "While I know very little about dragons, personally, as this is a threat to the Oathlands, there is very little else for us as Steelharts to do but try to help in any way. Even if I'm not completely sure how."

"Have you never seen a salamander before, my lord?" Cristoph asks Kaldur, his expression faintly amused as he gathers up some of his papers and arranges them into a neat little stack.

Dycard looks to Reigna. "/Is/ there a connection between Valardin and Blackshore, my lady, other than one of their symbols devastating our holdings? I'm not sure I've actually met any Valardins since my return from the sea, and if Valardin have a dragon other than the one on their banner - and the banners of other Houses - this is the first I've heard of it."

Jael does not look reassured at Norwood's gesture, though neither does she look frightened. Just...annoyed.

"I'm over here and I'm not a dragon," the salamander pipes up helpfully from across the room, perched on Laric's shoulder. He sounds like a child of maybe four or five years, gender indeterminate. "But if you ever met one, they would make sure you knew it."



Laric sighs, pausing in his quiet conversation with Octavia to murmur something to it, expression fondly long-suffering. He looks over to where Kael and Natalia sit, making an apologetic gesture. The salamander sprawls out and does not speak again. Laric resumes his conversation.

... The salamander just talked. Norwood is going to look down at his plate shaking his head very very slowly. A side-whisper at Cristoph.

Octavia stops pouring herself a drink and eyes the salamander for a moment, looking for a moment as if she might just take the bottle of rum with her instead of just the glass.

Jael's jaw nearly drops when Laric's fiery little friend pipes up, then she looks at Cristoph and her mouth snaps shut. Her jaw is set hard and her nostrils flare a little but she keeps her peace.

Seth blinks at the talking salamander. He reaches over to get his glass refilled with more wine...

Dycard startles when the salamander speaks, his chair going over backwards. On hitting the floor he rolls, coming up with his right hand going to the hilt of the sword hung cutlass-style at his back.

Thesarin blinks, and just looks at Laric and the salamander for a moment, in rather blank, stone faced silence. His eyebrows might even have twiched, there.

Cristoph smiles smugly at Jael and very clearly says, "I told you so."

Natalia's attention swings when the salamander pipes up. She stares, then looks to Laric, and then over to Kael. Then? Back to her notes, yep. She swallows from her tumbler.

"Did that critter just talk?" Valerio quietly exlaims, his single eye staring a moment. hen a shrug of his shoulders. "Nevermind,w ho am I to judge. I've essentially met Mangata, one of my closest friends is a Prince of the Marin'Alfar, I know demons are a thing.... " Abrubtly Valerio snaps his mouth shut solidly.

Yeah, Jasper is just... unsure, truthfully. For a moment, he's sure this is all just some big hazing thing that maybe this organization does for new recruits, and then Seth's looking at him, serious, and it hits him. /A dragon/. The Steelhart Lord's entire face tenses with the effort of suppressing any verbal reaction to that. ...and then the Salamander talks. "What the--?" he's lurching to his feet, hand instinctively reaching -- but not drawing -- his sword. For a Steelhart to do that, he has to be sure blood is going to be spilt.

"I've seen /that/ salamander before." Kaldur peers at it before drawing attention back to the Duke and his Dukeness. "If it's a salama-" and it's addressing Kaldur. Who just blinks at it. "Ehm. Well met. Master?" he looks around at the others searching his mind for the proper address for such a creature, "Salamander." His brow furrows, "It most certainly didn't speak when I saw it before." He dashes a hand in the air, "Aside from the topic. However ... intriguing. My apologies for the distraction." He inclines his head to Kael and Natalia and those discussing truly dire things.

"Sally! You frightened people!" Reigna looks over to the salamander, her lips pursed just so, as if trying to scold the creature, but her fondness is far too evident. She looks over to Laric and shakes her head. She gets up out of her seat and moves over towards Dycard, offering him her hand as if to assist him back to his feet. "Be at peace. All is well." When Valerio lists his experiences, Reigna pipes up, eyes filled with a complete glee, "Skald hugged me!" There is a pause, "Well. Sort of." She looks over to Jael and offers her friend a wink, "Your brother was right."

Pasquale turns to stare at the...talking salamander. He manages to retain some level fo composure, but only just. "Huh..." is all he can manage.

Kael tips his head toward his wife, a quiet motion, before he turns toward Pasquale and nods toward him. "The recent trade route that has opened up actually has uncovered a great deal of coordinated and large-scale pirate activity across much of the southern and southeastern seas. These coordinated attacks are of concern, for there is a particular named pirate who may be to blame. I do not have maps of the attacks, nor routes of them, but for that particular issue I point toward the Duchess Calypso Malvici. I would actually recommend those that are in need of naval maneuvers, instruction on combat at sea, to reach out to Duchess Malvici. She will take point in those looking to strategize regarding these attacks and if anyone would like to be of assistance. Regretfully other duties have kept her away this night." Then there is the salamander. Kael coughs. One of those choked sort of coughs with a hand moving up to his lips. That's his answer, it seems, though he tips his head toward Master of Questions and sends a curious look toward Cullen. When his hand lowers, he gestures to the man, as though prompting Lord Greenmarch to speak if he would do so. "No need to attack," he adds, swiftly, when he notes blades. "Friend, not foe. I believe."

"No need to encourage him," Jael mutters at Reigna, though there's no real heat behind it. She saves her ire for her siblings.

Cristoph is very encouraged. He beams at Jael even more smugly when Reigna confirms his rightness.

Laric pauses again in his conversation, looking over at the table, gesturing at Dycard and murmuring pointedly at his 'pet'. It just twitches its tail, chirps quietly at him, then sets its chin back down on his shoulder. Laric is apparently not its dad.

The distraction of the question directed Jasper's way helps... somewhat. "Of dragons -- no," the somber Lord replies to Cullen. "Not even a non-masterful one," he adds, eyes still flickering towards the salamander like he's not really sure that happened, given how everyone else is reacting... or not. After a moment, he finally sinks back into his seat, although he doesn't look anywhere near as composed as most of the folk here.

Jael has rolled a critical success!
Jael checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 4 higher.

Dycard's hand slowly releases the hilt of his sword, before reaching out to take the hand Reigna has offered. "Thank you, my lady," he says, rising to his feet with a wary look at the salamander. He releases Reigna's hand, then reaches down to set his chair to rights and set himself back into it.

Jael turns and looks at Norwood after he leans over and whispers to her, fixing him with a cold blue stare for a long time before reaching for her wineglass and draining it, pointedly ignoring both the knight and the duke.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Cristoph before departing.

Norwood shrugs when Jael gives him that look and spreads his hands. "If you're getting shocks," That's vaguevague before Norwood is going to turn his attention back to important things, looking oh-so-innocent.

Cullen has left the a large wooden table.

Reigna nods to Dycard and then returns to her seat at Kael's side. "I know a little about dragons, though not terribly much." She sits back down and then nods to Kael and then Thesarin. "So, to just recap what we have mentioned thus far, we have several Abandoned tribes, the aforementioned dragon, and from Count Thesarin, the so-called-god and enslaver, yes?"

To whatever quiet exchange is made at the table, Kael is nodding toward Cullen with a solemn and perhaps concerned expression. He watches the Greenmarch as he slips away and thereafter is turning to address the chamber as a whole, "I know that we have a great many threats to face, and a great many points to theorize. Is there anyone else that might wish to bring up a topic, a threat, or have a particular point of interest that they wish to take point for our next roundtable?"

"And pirates. Or, rather," he consults his notes which are becoming less coherent as the topics shift and pivot, "Pirate."

[EDIT] "And pirates. Or, rather," Kaldur consults his notes which are becoming less coherent as the topics shift and pivot, "Pirate."

Thesarin is quiet a moment, glancing around the room again, and letting out a low noise at the back of his throat. "...may as well share what ain't a threat no longer. The beast stalking the Lowers, as killed Cassius Pravus and plenty more, is dead."

Pasquale's green eyes sharpen on Thesarin, and he moves to mutter something low to the prodigal lord. For the room, he simply nods and says, "For the good, then. Vengeance is done."

Dycard goes back to listening quietly, with added looks towards the salamander.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Reigna before departing.

Kael's brows lift in unison at the new that comes forth from Thesarin. "Is it? Excellent." There is no doubting the amount of satisfaction audible with these words, before he is inclining his head to the other man. "Hopefully someone might be able to provide an accounting of that for our records, so that we can look at the strategy that was used to dispatch such a dire beast."

"So that was the creature that I heard was killed in the Lowers." Seth comments, thinking on it for a moment. "Good work, then, to those who brought the beast down. Though I am curious as to what it was. I've only heard rumors." The other discussion, that of the pirate does pique his interest in a more subtle way. He looks between all of those speaking of that particular threat, but asks no questions of his own for now.

Kaldur nods at Thesarin's account of the felling of the Traitor's agents, the news it seems is no surprise to him, but he wasn't there and lets those who were speak.

"The thing were lured in with alchemy, to a place that'd been set a poson trap against it," Thesarin says in a loud, flat, even tone. "When it arrived and sickened, them of us who'd been waiting moved for the kill." The Prodigal nods slowly, looking from one face to the next. "It was fierce, it was strong, but it sickened, and so it bled and died."

Still quiet, still taking notes. Or, well, she was up until this very moment. Natalia finally sets the quill down, settling back in her chair with her tumbler. She lifts it in a sort of toast to Thesarin, then finishes what's left in her glass.

"Well done," murmurs Kael respectfully toward the other Count, nodding his head toward him in a solemn manner. He is thoughtful for an extended amount of time, but shakes his head and does not move in with further question. He is instead looking toward the group as a whole. "I believe that might be all for this round table, at least for myself. Certainly for those that wish to break out into smaller sessions, we welcome you to stay -- perhaps explore the courtyard and speak there -- if you wish it. I know that I said I would be staying after the official meeting time so that I can speak with those that wish to join the Academy of War." A hand moves to slide around Reigna's before he turns to Natalia to see if the Chair of Diplomacy has any words.

Pasquale mutters something that might be a thanks to Thesarin and scribbles down some more of those copious notes. Muttering something unintelligible to himself under his breath.

"Please feel free to take advantage of the food and drink if you haven't already; we'll call the meeting, and start the social hour," Natalia suggests, setting her glass down on the table. "Thank you, everyone, for coming. I think that tonight was productive, and I think that the more regularly we get together, the more productive these things will be."

Dycard inclines his head to the assembled, once things are wrapping up. "Many thanks for allowing me to stay," he says, then nods to Kael. "Much as I'd love to linger, my lord Count, duty calls me elsewhere. I'll send you a messenger at some other point regarding membership, if that is acceptable."

Reigna is overheard praising Kael: Excellent meeting, well organized and run!

Reigna is overheard praising Natalia: Excellent meeting! Well run!

Kaldur is overheard praising Natalia: Seconded for the excellent meeting!

Kaldur is overheard praising Kael: Seconded for the excellent meeting!

Kaldur is overheard praising Cristoph: For nerves of steel in the face of DIRE SALAMANDER DRAGON BABIES.

Seth is overheard praising Kael.

Seth is overheard praising Reigna.

Seth is overheard praising Natalia.

"I understand matters of duty, Lord Blackshore," murmurs Kael, rising up from the table and actually moving to Dycard, extending a hand toward him. "I hope to speak with you soon." A pause then before he adds, "On a personal level as well. For you see, my father was Lord Magnus Blackshore." He smiles then, a weak sort of smile, before tipping his head toward him. "So well met, and fare well."

Dycard checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 2 higher.

Kaldur finds a glass to lift, mysteriously, he didn't sit down with one, but he rises with one, lifted the those assembled, woman, man, and - yes - salamander, "To the Compact, and facing our troubles together."

Briar is overheard praising Natalia.

Briar is overheard praising Kael.

Ven has left the the buffet tables.

Laric checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.

There's this little look of wonder on Laric's face as he watches Ven go, and he slowly shakes his head. After a long pause he looks back to Octavia and says something, expression gone from 'wonder' to complete, humorless deadpan.

"Count and Countess Keaton, Natalia Whisper," Seth says as he slowly rises out of his seat to stretch his legs out. "Thank you for holding this meeting. It was very informative. I've also learned about some projects that I may be able to assist in, so that is always a plus." When he rises, so do this hounds, who were mostly lying at his feet beneath the table the whole time. To Jasper, he asks, "Now would be the time to see about joining up with the Academy if you so wish, cousin."

Natalia is overheard praising Kael.

Pasquale lingers as the meeting starts to break up. Firstly, he gets himself a refill on his water. Secondly, he approaches Kael and Natalia. "My thanks as well. This was most informative. I'd also like to pursue joining this effort, if it please you."

Perhaps it's because he's already gone over backwards in his chair once this evening that saves Dycard from doing it again. He rises as Kael approaches, reaching out instinctively to take the hand offered - and then at Kael's news, his eyes widen. He goes absolutely still for a moment, then another, and then he inclines his head. "It seems I have more family than I ever knew," he says, with a warm smile. "Well met, Cousin. I shall place myself at your disposal on another day." His smile broadens. "Smooth seas and great thanks to you, and to everyone here." And then Dycard is turning to go, and managing not to fall over his own chair in the process.



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