The High Captain's Palace

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The High Captain's Palace

Post by Oberon on Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:18 pm

High Captain Ciltesse lay back on his bed and sighed as someone knocked timidly on the door. He put down his book and called "Yes, what is it?"

A muffled voice called back through the door. "Marin is here to see you, High Captain. And, if you don't mind me saying, I hope that you get things straightened up with her soon. She doesn't seem very hapy, and things are always worse for us when one of your--"

"Yes, I'll take that under advisement," replied Ciltesse with a somewhat strained smile. "Go and retrieve her, then. I'll do my best to make sure she doesn't terrorize any of the servants on her way out." He heard the servan'ts feet receding, and sighing again, sat up. Taking Marin as a lover was certainly an advantageous political alliance, but she can be hard to deal with... He put the book back on its shelf and seated himself at his table, awaiting his captain's coming.
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Re: The High Captain's Palace

Post by Oberon on Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:13 pm

Less than a minute later, Ciltesse heard the quick steps of booted feet coming down the hallway. She seems in an awful hurry... she must be furious, he thought. I want to know what I've done to deserve this. If it's my fault, I'd like to know how. The footsteps drew nearer, and Marin came through the door without knocking.

She was an imposing woman, with a face that would be beautiful if it hadn't been set in such hard lines. Her black hair was cut short around her shoulders, and she wore the standard islander's garb: loose, billowing trousers and a deeply cut shirt. These were in her house colors of white and deep blue, and did a great deal to accentuate the blue of her eyes. Ciltesse thought wryly that it was a pity Marin had such a sharp tongue, or she would be an almost ideal woman. As it was, she was almost as hot-tempered as Laithiel herself, and as changeable in mood as Serasse.

Ciltesse opened the front of his shirt and tilted back his head in the traditional Erynnen gesture of trust and greeting. "Serasse's blessings, Marin," he said. "I trust your voyage was successful?"

Marin didn't answer, or return the greeting. She stood in front of him with ther arms crossed, the arrowhead tattoos on the back of her hands twtching as she drummed her fingers against one arm.

After a long moment, Ciltesse spoke, his tone somewhat impatient. "Well?" Marin didn't answer, but her eyes dropped breaifly from his eyes to his chest. Ciltesse wondered whether or not she was considering throwing her belt-knife at him.

At long last Marin spoke. "I was beginning to think you had sent me out there to die," she said irritably. "The voyage was certainly a greater trial than you let on. I was under the impression that it was going to be routine scouting, but instead I end up in the search for some ancient artifact that does who knows what. And why? Because you saw fit to send me after it. Do not think that because I have shared your bed my mind is completely gone."

"Of course not," said Ciltesse soothingly. "It is obvious that your mind has not completed the process of departing yet." At Marin's glare, he smiled tiredly. "Believe me, Marin, if I could take the Albatross myself and go after it, I would, ut I have a duty to these islands. You were the only one I could trust."

"Pretty enough words," said Marin, but she uncrossed her arms nonetheless. "Still, I suppose there is truth enough in them." Her face softened, taking away much of the forbidding effect of before. "And now you will be wanting to hear of your artifact. We have retrieved it."

Ciltesse sat up quickly. "You retrieved it? Serasse's blessings on you, Marin!" he exclaimed. "Where is it?"

"Aboard the Arrow. I have it locked up tight in my strongbox. Out of curiosity, my lord, what exactly is it supposed to do? I would know the purpose of the thing I risked my life to retrieve."

"There will be time enough for that later," said Ciltesse. "Will it please you to take dinner with me this evening? You must tell me of your voyage.

Marin nodded assent. "If your Majesty so wishes."

"I do so wish. Now go, see to your ship and crew. I'm sure that you barely paused for anything since you made landfall."

"Of course, my lord," said Marin. "But there will be time enough for pause later." She gave him another smile, twitched the front of her shirt open and closed, and exited the room with much more sway to her walk than was usual. Ciltesse grinned and lay back on his bed. An astounding woman, this one.
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Re: The High Captain's Palace

Post by Oberon on Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:49 pm

Some time later, Ciltesse and Marin seated themselves at the table in his room, and servants brought food in to them. Ciltesse cut into his fish delicately using his belt-knife--ever since poison had been smeared on his utensils by an assassin, he had used only his own implements--as the servants left the room. "I trust that you are feeling less resentful of me now?"

Marin rewarded him with a thin smile as she sipped her own wine. "Somewhat less. I find the quality of your wine to more than makes up for your lack of consideration."

Ciltesse rolled his eyes. "If you are so convinced of my lack of consideration, I see no reason why I should attempt to use tact in this conversation," he said, smiling slightly. "The artifact, please."

Marin nodded and gestured to the iron chest that the servants had brought in with her meal. The captain produced an intricately shaped key from the front of her shirt and opened it. Ciltesse watched eagerly as she pulled out an ancient bundle of papers.

"The charts of Maldor the Mariner!" said Ciltesse, rising to his feet and practically running to Marin's side. The captain smiled.

"As you ordered, Captain," said Marin with a smile. "Shall I leave you to study the charts?" She sounded somewhat disappointed, seeing the gleam in Ciltesse's eyes as he looked at the charts, and she sat back, letting her shirt slide open slightly. Ciltesse looked up from the charts and returned her smile.

"Perhaps I could look at them tomorrow," he said.

They didn't end up eating much of their dinner.
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Re: The High Captain's Palace

Post by Oberon on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:35 pm

Ciltesse returned to his palace to find Caleth sprawled across his bed, asleep and naked. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of liquor: it was everywhere. The captain had obviously been drinking heavily, and of Ciltesse’s own wine. He frowned. Caleth had been dispatched to the shipyards at Araille, and her presence in court meant either that something had gone amiss, or that she had abandoned her duty, and Reelior.

He prodded her awake his sheathed sword, and she stirred slowly, only to roll over and pillow her head on her arm. After three more prods, Ciltesse gave up, seized the basin of water from the washroom, and flung it over her.

Caleth awoke sputtering and cursing, trying to find her dagger. When she finally cleared the water out of her eyes and saw Ciltesse glaring at her, she suddenly looked more afraid than angry. “High Captain… you’re back.”

“Yes,” said Ciltesse.

“I was just… keeping your throne warm,” said Caleth guiltily.

“I’m sure that you were. I suppose that you kept my desk warm as well,” said Ciltesse, glancing over at the piles of official-looking papers spread messily across his desk. Most of them had not been there when he was last in the capital.

“Someone needed to administrate,” said Caleth, hurriedly pouring herself a goblet of wine from the bedside table to calm her shaking.

Ciltesse’s temper snapped. “That ‘someone’ was not you! You were assigned to be across the sea, defending Reelior the Shipwright!” He pointed his sword towards the captain, who was lazily taking a sip. “But instead I find you here, having forsaken your duty! And above all that, you presume to sit on my throne and issue orders in my stead! Captains have been executed for less!”

Caleth’s goblet fell from nerveless fingers, and a red stain spread across the white sheets as she fell to her knees, clutching at Ciltesse’s hand. “Please, Ciltesse… Captain… I swear, I meant no ill by it! Reelior is still defended: I left my crew there and came back myself, on one of the trade ships. I thought to help you, Captain. I never thought…”

Ciltesse looked down at her coldly. “Never thought what? That I would come back and find something amiss?” His mouth tightened, then suddenly he turned away and sighed. “However, I have no proof of your intent, good or ill, so I must accept your pleas as the truth… for the time being.” He turned his back and walked over to his desk. “Get out of my sight.”

“Yes, Captain. Thank you, Captain.” Caleth fled the room without even bothering to dress. Ciltesse picked up a document at random from his desk and frowned at it. A foreign emissary, imprisoned? What was Caleth thinking?

He sent a man to bring the captain from this “Ironhull” to the great hall, then summoned servants to clean the room while he began looking over his papers.
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Re: The High Captain's Palace

Post by Oberon on Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:18 am

It took Ciltesse almost two weeks to finish organizing the papers that Caleth had been working on, and by the end of it he was exhausted and irritated. Marin had taken the Arrow Fleet northeast, chasing a lead on Maldor's charts that apparently led to a cache of fantastic treasure. He found himself missing her: not only the warmth of her in his bed, but her good counsel and loyalty. The first I can solve, but there seems to be little enough of the second these days... He grimaced.

"Wine!" he called. A bare-chested servant hurried over, Ciltesse's wine jug and goblet in his hands. He took a cursory sip from the High Captain's cup and passed it to him. Ciltesse nodded thanks. I wouldn't put it past Caleth to arrange to have me poisoned... maybe I should have put her in prison, after all. The wine was good though, and he ran through several possibilities as he sipped it.

Miri's gone with the Ravens, though Serasse only knows why. Airiel's ship is still on her way back from the Holy Empire, bringing more of that "lodestone" back to the isles. I suppose that Celiel and Celyan are still in town, though. Perhaps I'll give them a summons...

There was a loud knock at the door, and a travel-stained elf was inside before Ciltesse could finish saying "Come in." The young man's eyes were haunted, and his appearance was haggard, as though he hadn't slept in days.

"I bring urgent news from Capua, High Captain," he said. "I brought you the letter as quickly as I could." He pulled a parchment, miraculously still in good condition, from a pocket inside his shirt. Ciltesse sliced off the seal with his dagger and scanned the letter.

After a moment his eyes widened, and he spat a curse, slamming his dagger point-first into the table. The messenger flinched as Ciltesse finished reading the letter. When the High Captain looked up, his eyes were cold and his voice tightly controlled. "You did well to bring this to me. Go and rest." He looked at his servants. Summon the captains. We have a great deal to discuss, and I have a letter to write."
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Re: The High Captain's Palace

Post by Oberon on Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:17 pm

The amphitheater that housed the captains' council was at least two-thirds full, but Ciltesse was dismayed by how many seats were empty. Captains either currently at sea or else gone over to Theron were conspicuously absent, and Ciltesse feared that few of them would return. Although he had ruled shrewdly for many years, his kindness had not given him as much authority as Theron's military prowess and grandiose statements. He saw Celiel and Celyan, looking worried as they surveyed the crowd; saturnine Athal Sintha of the Falcon, sitting with one hand on his knife; portly Marus Duros, who hadn't been aboard his own Cloud in five years, joking with the captains sitting next to him. Even Caleth was present, standing a short distance from the High Captain's podium, although she wore a servant's kilt rather than a captain's garb. A subtle statement, but a conspicuous one: it showed that not even one of the captains could hope to avoid Ciltesse's justice.

A silver-haired bailiff pounded a gavel twice, bringing the room to order. Ciltesse stepped behind the podium as the room quieted. "Captains of Erynnen, we are gathered at a dire point in our history. Theron Raven has forsaken his loyalties and declared against me. As High Captain of Erynnen, I declare Theron Raven to be outcast. We shall send him to Serasse's mercy, and may he be judged befitting his crimes."

There was a murmur around the room as Captain Sintha stood and waited patiently. The bailiff waited for Ciltesse to acknowledge the captain, then announced "The chair recognizes Captain Athal Sintha of the Falcon."

"High Captain. although Theron may be a traitor, I am sure that he has his reasons for turning his back on you and your government, perhaps this was not entirely unjustified. Can you claim that you have been acting in our best interests for your entire reign? Even the most virtuous"--the word was heavy with sarcasm--"High Captain can be self-serving at times." There were murmurs of interest, and some of agreement. Ciltesse looked squarely at Sintha.

"If you believe that I have been self-serving, tell me, Captain. When have I served my own interests above those of the people? Without proof, your accusations that I have been abusing my position are empty air." Several captains nodded agreement. Sintha's lip curled.

"Of course. Evidence." He looked thoughtful, then held up his hand in front of him and touched his index fingers together. "Well, during the recent negotiations with the Holy Empire, you abandoned your country, leaving it without a regent while you went to go play with--what are they called?--ah, lodestones. Thank you, Captain Feran." He ticked off another finger. "You imprisoned Caleth without a trial, and now she has fallen from the nobility--"

"The High Captain was perfectly justified in his actions!" said Celyan, standing and glaring at the Falcon's captain.

"Not to mention that Caleth is a wonderful place to rest the eyes," said Celiel, glancing down at the ex-captain. The bailiff pounded his gavel.

"The chair has not recognized Captain Celyan of the Spirit of Valor, nor will it if you continue to ignore protocol," said the bailiff in a frosty tone. Ciltesse raised a hand for silence.

"Captains, we will get nowhere if we continue to argue like barbarians. We are all reasonable people, I'm sure. Everyone will have their turn to speak, if they wish it." This council could decide the fate of our country, the young High Captain thought pensively. I must do my best...
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