[P] Summer's in our basement now
#1
NC Prompt Challenge Wrote:Have a side thread during The Call to Court
Location: King's Bastion || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime



He was a man of simple style, preferring to keep himself minimally clothed even during such prestigious events as the Call to Court. Where others within the Realm might have donned elegant skirts or smart tunics, Percival chose to answer the Call in only his woolen cloak. It had taken some time, and a great deal of Pippa's expertise, to get the plain overgarment looking respectable again, but it had been an important undertaking to the High Lord of Dawn. With such important guests as New Caledonia's benefactors expected to be present among them, Percival would be remiss if he didn't take care to look the part he intended to play.

Dignified; decorous; genteel.

Unlike the tactic he adopted when he was a patron of La Estrella Roja, Percival did not falsely carry a vessel of liquor around with him out of the necessity to elude idiotic questions and dodge looks of ridicule. Rather, the goblet that he accepted and held between his fingers, from which he stole sips that were few and far between and did not refill once it was empty, was done so out of a show of respect and security. Here, under there watchful eye of the High King and their newly ordained Isiltári, were he was home among his people of the Realm, there was safety and there was certainty. Percy did not drink except for when such parameters were met.

Walking at ease, the scruffy High Lord looked about him at the courtiers present this year. There were more here this year than last, he thought. Perhaps it was merely a fabrication of his mind, or a testament to the number of new Pages who had joined their ranks. Of the Salsolans, few besides Clementine were familiar to him, but it was easy enough to pick them out from his fellow Caledonians.

"Good evening," Percival offered to a man of winter's hues. He lifted his goblet faintly to supplement his greeting. "I'm Percival Parhelion, High Lord of Dawn." His smile was polite. "The Realm is treating you well, I trust?"



[WC -- 352]
OOC: For Grievous! CtC side thread!
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#2
wc: 576
His clothing had been chosen to show Salsola's wealth, and make his own position apparent. Though it was a familiar garment to his packmates, the tabard and its sturdy, unusually thick belt helped to ensure that Grievous cut a strong shape among the crowd. His height helped with this, though he was not the tallest of the assembled. There were other faces in New Caledonia he did not recognize – newcomers who had not been there a year ago.

The children had been the most surprising of all. While Salsola had seen its own surge, it seemed that a goddess of fertility had indeed reached down and chosen the refugees as her people.

A man approached him from among the crowd. Grievous did not remember if he had met the dog before. He looked familiar – there were several scruffy dogs among the New Caledonian collective, including the High King himself. Given Percival Parhelion's rank, his position was quite high indeed. This was good. Grievous had plenty of questions for their hosts, and now that the performance was over they could get down to proper business.

“Yes, thank you. I am Grievous Eternity, Equinest of Salsola,” Grievous said, and extended his free hand for an arm-grappling shake. The sleeves of his dark garment ended above the elbow, hiding the scars on his shoulder, joined by one still bandaged and carefully disguised beneath his clothing. It was impossible to miss the old scars on his face, and harder still to overlook the the fresh wound to his ear. Though it was days old, the color of it and the salve that had been applied spoke of its recent acquisition.

The fight had only been a few days ago. It had been unexpected, but not enough to change his need to leave Salsola and travel to the north. Azalea's presence had been a surprise, but she was reaching for independence faster than expected. Grievous could no longer deny her rights within the pack, though this opened her to new danger.

There had been no threats on the road here, luckily, for to have challenged their group would be paramount to suicide. The Queen had brought quite a collection with her – but each person filled a role that was needed. Having two healers with them was vital, especially given Casimir's presence among their collective. A foolhardy choice, but a respectable one.

Grievous released Percival's arm and looked towards the crowd. His daughter was among the rabble, though he had lost sight of her. This was less worrisome given how many eyes were upon her. Ideally she would wear herself out and sleep. They would have a long road ahead of them once the festivities had ended.

The wolf had things to see to before then, of course.

“This is much changed since our last visit,” Grievous gestured to the gathering. Food was laden high. The New Caledonians were wearing brightly colored, handsome looking clothes. He saw metal everywhere – even among the clothing the Luperci were wearing. To Grievous, who had spent plenty of time as a trader, this seemed an obvious decision. They were displaying what they wanted others to associate them with.

“It is good to see your people thriving,” the wolf went on. He lapped at his drink before adding: “I am glad to the horses we provided are doing well here. It seems the year has been prosperous for your Kingdom, High Lord Percival.”
masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
#3
Location: King's Bastion || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime



Percival followed the man's lead, allowing his drink to pass into his other hand before reaching out and wrapping the fingers of his free hand around the Salsolan's muscular forearm with a firm, respectable grip. He had to look up to meet the wolf's eyes, which reminded him distinctly of a warm evening campfire. Unbidden, memories from his childhood -- of bonfires on the beach and of the merrymaking that accompanied -- attempted to press in at the edges of his mind. He dismissed them silently, but with resolute urgency.

Old and useless memories had no place here.

"I'm glad to hear it," he responded politely, feeling the wolf's grip loosen and instinctively doing the same. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Equinist Grievous."

He followed the Salsolan's gaze across the crowd while entertaining thoughts of his initial impression of the man. He was considerably larger than Percival and appeared to bear some evidence of a more dangerous lifestyle than the Diplomat cared for. A direct result of his duty as Salsola's Equinist, Percy wondered, or suggestive of something more savage? There was much that remained a mystery to him about their benefactors and, regardless of what Grievous' facial scars and the healing wound on his ear were the result of, the High Lord remained committed to strengthening New Caledonian's ties to them.

Percival nodded agreeably at the Equinist's observation. "Our gods have favored us," he replied solemnly. "This past winter bore some misfortunes, but we have enjoyed a great deal of welfare in the seasons that followed." Of the horses mentioned, Percy knew little else aside from the understanding that they had been a gift of the Thistle Kingdom. "Thanks in no small part to the generosity of you and your leaders," the High Lord added graciously.

Lifting his goblet to his mouth, Percy rested his bottom lip to the rim of the vessel and tipped its contents forward. He allowed only a trickle of the liquor to wet his tongue, savoring the taste before swallowing it down. "Did you attend the Call to Court last winter, Equinist Grievous?" Percival asked conversationally. "I'm sorry to have missed meeting you if you had." He looked out again at the crowd, his eyes following an unfamiliar youth before the shimmer of something catching the light spirited his attention away.



[WC -- 397]

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#4
wc: 248
The truth was, his scars had been from war – one in which he was a victim, the other an aggressor. Grievous did not think to explain these details to the young High Lord, but he was certain this – much like Brocade's – cut a striking sight. As he understood things, old Caledonia had perished from violence. Their leader had marks indicating as much.

Percival, luckily, seemed unlikely to try and strong-arm him. The shaggy dog was polite and courteous, the way someone who acted as an ambassador ought to be.
“I did, yes. It was smaller then, and it is unfortunate we did not meet before,” Grievous said, even though he didn't really mean it. “The winter was indeed a long one. I'm glad to hear of your boons...” he trailed off as Azalea's laughter rose briefly among the din. She was among the youth of New Caledonia, who were truly plentiful. If there was any indication of the pack's growth beyond their fancy clothes and plentiful foodstuffs, the gaggle of children suggested New Caledonia had the means to support such expansion.

Seeing where the dog was looking, Grievous cleared his throat. “My daughter,” he explained, a little more firmly than he meant to sound. While he was no longer able to prevent her from participating in events like these, this was her first time among Outsiders. It was only reasonable for Grievous to be a little overprotective. “Do you have any children, Dawn Lord Percival?”
masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
#5
Location: King's Bastion || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime



Percival considered the horseman's response with a soft hum of disappointment, a sound that suggested that he, too, regretted that they had not met at last winter's Call to Court. That was too bad, but at least another opportunity had presented itself and, this time, the gods had been more favorable towards them.

"It's nice to see other children in attendance," Percy replied with a soft smile, watching the children in the ground. "I'm sure it's good for them to meet kids from other packs." He thought of Inara. Although she had ended up joining Krokar, but meeting another youth from somewhere other than his birth pack had been to his benefit. It had provided him with a window into the world outside of Krokar, one that, prior to Inara's arrival, had felt nebulous at best. "Wouldn't you agree?" he asked Grievous, looking up at the man again.

He glanced away again at the gathered party-goers when the Salsolan posed his own question. In truth, he hadn't thought much at all about children, let alone having any of his own. In some ways, he still felt like a child himself. "I do not," he replied, clearing his throat softly because the question made him think of Inara again and he could feel his ears growing hot and tingly. "Someday, perhaps." It took conscious effort to bring his eyes back up to the Salsolan. He smiled. "What would you say fatherhood is like, Equinist Grievous?"



[WC -- 253]

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#6
wc: 354
“Indeed,” he said. There was certainly something to be learned from this excursion – at the very least, Azalea would be exposed to these Outsiders in a safe manner. If she wanted to make herself familiar with them, learning young was ideal. Would she be interested in becoming an ambassador?

As he thought of this, his eyes drifted again – looking for red hair and white clothes.

They returned to Percival quickly. The scruffy dog did not look young, but Grievous and Idrieus had not been youths when they affirmed their bond. Even their own Boss had yet to take a mate, and Brocade and Morgana were not spring lambs themselves. Growth came in waves within Salsola, and some were slower than others.
He now considered himself well versed in the matter at hand.

“Ah well, it is rewarding. I have raised things before – horses, mostly,” he said, though he imagined this would have been apparent given his position. “But to have a child is a great gift. My daughters were a blessing and one I do not take lightly. They will learn all I can teach them, and they grow in...surprising ways.” The wolf paused to lap at his drink. It was some sort of berry liquor, and he thought he could taste honey in it as well. He wouldn't drink too much, but dabbling in their offerings wouldn't hurt.

The room was full of strangers and noise. Music floated among the gathering voices – different singers sometimes crooned above the din. This was the sort of celebration a place that was keen to be their ally ought to put on. Given the scarcity that had befallen last winter, Grievous could only assume the pack had indeed been very blessed. He had certainly eaten his fill, and encouraged his daughter to do the same. Their hosts' hard work deserved to be enjoyed.

“It has made me see things in new ways,” Grievous said a moment later. “I must admit, I am not as familiar with your Kingdom as our...friendship, encourages. Tell me, what does a High Lord of the Dawn do, exactly?”
masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
#7
Location: King's Bastion || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime



It was easier to guess at a fellow's age if they fell within a certain range, Percival had found, specifically those of the very young and the very old. It did not seem to the scruffy Parhelion that Grievous fell within either of these extremes, especially when he thought of the man's youthful daughter and compared him to the old man he had met at the hot springs, so he considered him to simply be in his prime.

Those were the best years of one's life, he had been told. The years that children dreamed about and that the elderly pined for.

He shouldn't have been surprised to learn that the Salsolan had more than one child but the knowledge struck him in a funny way. Perhaps it was less about the number of children and more about the gender of them, for the image of this enormous brute of a man caring for a brood of daughters seemed oddly dissonant to him. But then he thought idly of Merlin and a sense of sympathy overcame him.

"That does sound like a great responsibility," Percival said agreeably. "But one with long-lasting gratification. I will remember that."

Tipping back his goblet again, the bearded High Lord took another sip of his own beverage, conscious that his manner of doing so differed from that of his Salsolan acquaintance. It did not come as naturally as lapping the liquid up with his tongue did, but it felt more civilized to Percival. He swept his nutmeg eyes again over those who had heeded the Call to Court, thinking of Grievous' words.

"The High Nobility is more about what is represented, rather than done," he explained, flicking his eyes upwards again. With patience (and obvious pride), Percy provided an explanation of the two courts and what his being in the Court of Dawn represented to the Realm and, as was his station, beyond: enterprising; inclusive; balanced. "But I deal specifically with matters of diplomacy and, when time allows, fishing."

He did not mention his lesser career as a scholar, for he had not giving his area of study much attention of late and, in the eyes of the High Lord, his primary duties held more weight. "If I may turn the question back to you, it would be a pleasure to learn more about your Kingdom as well. Are horses your sole obligation or are there other duties you see to as an Equinist?"



[WC -- 414]

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#8
+5
There was plenty of work left for Grievous to do before his days might be ones of rest. Even within Salsola their elders did not slow down as much as they might in other places – Bogdan busied himself with odds and ends around the docks, Mirte (who would have been appalled Grievous thought of her among this group) made clothing and other garments, and Corrine cooked and tended to her garden and her birds. She was free now, but the best years of her life had belonged to Salsola. Where else would she go?

Grievous, personally, could not imagine growing old and dying beyond the borders. His elderly years would be spent with his family and his people. There would be no fleeing to a mountain he had never seen, or any of those places he traveled to in his younger days. He and Idrieus had established themselves in Salsola, and had no reason to look elsewhere.

Percival's explanation of the New Caledonian ranks seemed simple, but one which might cause division. Did they think it wise, to split their highest nobles in twain? Was the hope that they might bicker among themselves and not turn against the crown?

Grievous kept his thoughts to himself, but nodded and responded when it was appropriate. He was hardly surprised when Percival turned the question around. While he could certainly excuse himself from the conversation, part of networking was the give and take. If he kept his mouth shut, he'd end up empty handed.

“Above all else I am responsible for our horses, yes. I have helpers, of course. Most of my time goes into the care and training of our horses. Ensuring their needs are met requires much more than seeing to the animals themselves,” he took a breath and his scarred eye fluttered, half-closed for a moment as he tallied through a mental list.

Grievous turned his head and went on. “Where they are kept demands upkeep, as does their equipment and tack. Beyond this, I work as healer, and tend to any injuries or illness that might occur in our animals. Luckily,” he added haughtily. “This does not often occur. Breeding places certain demands on mares, as foaling and nursing, but I help to ensure both dam and foal remain healthy. Even before, there is plenty of work to be done.”

He paused deliberately here and fixed his ringed eyes on the scruffy dog's face. Their pleasantries had lasted long enough, and business was what remained between them now. “When I was here last, Lord Eryn made promises regarding the use of a stallion. I am aware he is no longer with your people, but perhaps you might be able to help me understand who might best fulfill his obligation now – even if you do not have a horsemaster,” Grievous added. He felt presumptuous, but his earlier tour with the long-eared Rabbit and noblewoman's daughter had suggested this was the case. “Being a High Lord, your assistance in helping me resolve the matter would be greatly appreciated.”
masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
#9
Location: the King's Bastion || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime



It was Percival's turn to listen, silent but for soft notes of interest or quiet hums of understanding. He considered for a moment how much time he spent ensuring that his ox was comfortable and well-fed, and felt a sense of validation for his decision to give up Striebro. As it was, Percy was only just providing enough time and stimulation to Pim, leaving the poor young stallion's training and care largely neglected or otherwise in the hands of others. To hear tell how much demand and care horses required from someone whose specialty it was in raising and training them made the scruffy High Lord feel a little better.

He had had little interest in horses or cows when Striebro and Pim had come into his care, and one enormous beast of burden was more than enough for him. Now, with only the one under his care, Percival could manage more more easily.

"I commend you for your dedication and care of these creatures, Equinist Grievous. Its clear to me that they mean a great deal to you and I will assist you in anyway I can," he said, his expression lofty but filled with respect. "It's true we don't have anyone dedicated solely to horses, though there are many in the Realm's ranks whose skills and interests you may find align quite closely with your own in this matter." He thought silently of Merlin and Teagan, of Rabbit and Commodore Hatch, while he scanned the faces of the partygoers around him. "It would be my pleasure to introduce you to them, though I'm happy to give you their names and a description if you wish to seek them out yourself."

He paused a beat, his eyes finding the Salsolan's marred face once more. "But I think that you might find it most beneficial to speak directly to Lord Eryn's successor, our Queen of the Moon, Isiltári Fennore. May I find and suggest a meeting with her for you?"



[WC -- 340]

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#10
We can end here or with your post. Thanks for the thread!

Any animal, large or small, was a commitment – and not merely a half-cocked sort of folly, where food and shelter alone might provide for their needs. Horses were creatures whose size hid their fragility. It was difficult to recognize this, especially when the animals so staunchly tried to hide their weakness from predators.

Grievous imagined that Luperci were not too unlike this. He had not attacked Percival or his kingdom over the supposed debt, but his question was aggressive in its own way. The smooth and practiced manner in which the High Lord handled it did exactly what was intended – it hid a matter the New Caledonians might have recognized as a fault. By applying pressure, Grievous intended to see if they would bend.

He did not smile, but his neutral expression was carefully pleasant, like his voice.

“I would not wish to bother her tonight,” Grievous backpedaled. “But I would gladly speak with your compatriots.” The gray wolf was capable of making decisions when it came to Salsola's horses, but he was less confident in the waters of politics. With Elphaba present, the last thing he wanted to do was pull unnecessary attention to himself. “We can leave business for another time.”
masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
#11
Location: the King's Bastion || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime



"Of course," Percival agreed, inwardly grateful that the pale Salsolan had come to this conclusion himself. He had a sense that Fennore might be willing to discuss such details with the man now, but it hardly seemed an ideal time or location for political matters such that Grievous wished to reaffirm. It would be better that they wait and conduct their business in private and away from the noise and joviality of festivities.

Sharing interests with like-minded individuals during a party, on the other hand, seemed a more reasonable and judicious decision to Percival. Of the four who he had silently called to mind, he thought that Teagan might be the best for Grievous to speak with. She and her family sole-owned more horses than what the pack owned as a community; it only seemed logical to assume that she could relate to Salsola's Equinist on a more elevated level, and perhaps put his mind to ease as well.

Once Percival had offered whatever the man wished in order for him to meet those with a similar affinity for horses, the High Lord of Dawn departed with words of well wishes and kind regards, his mind teeming with the lofty and grandiose thoughts of someone quite in their element.



[WC -- 212]
OOC: fin!
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