[P] for we will never cease to seek the dawn
December 10th — court meeting
a promise carved in stone, deeper than the sea

They dismissed the children and lower members, but not entirely without incident. Daisy’s outburst and following dissension from other Caledonians scattered seeds of discourse that would no doubt be brought to the forefront again.

Fennore was prepared for this. She had expected that Iomair would be, as well, but his emotions had already gotten the best of him once in the presence of his subjects. As the crowd in the hall thinned out and the Malcrin shuffled about, she drew near to her King, whispering low,

”They are afraid. We must hear their concerns and not condemn them for this.”

She had been complicit in the High Lady’s demotion. It was not her place to challenge his decisions. But if they turned everyone against their guidance, they would surely not last through winter.

With the Courts gathered around them in a smaller semi-circle, the Valar could speak to them as, more or less, equals. The Isiltári allowed herself a deep sigh before she began, her voice solemn.

”Malcrin. You are the most ambitious amongst our Realm, proving yourself as valuable assets to this Kingdom with your skills, your Guilds, your dedication. You speak on behalf of your peers, and we shall let you do so here, free from judgement.

”Please understand, this is a fraughtful time for us all. We are all susceptible to our emotions. But we cannot let dissension divide us: these assailants, whoever they are, this is precisely what they want. Infighting will prove disastrous.”

Her eyes cut to Iomair for a brief moment before she continued.

”You may not agree with all that we decide; as is your right. The Valar is only as strong as the ones we serve: you, our Caledonians. We will accept and allow your council, but just as well, you must respect and uphold our decrees as we — ”

A deep, raspy chuckling cut her short, and Fennore, bristling, narrowed her eyes at the Lorn Priest, his amber eyes glimmering in the torch light of the Bastion.

this is taking place right after this thread. Members Malcrin and above, meaning every rank above Aear, is expected to remain for this meeting; those that do not post will assumed to be in attendance unless otherwise stated.

sig by Despi
sever flesh and bone, offer it to me

He had been a model citizen for the entirety of the meeting; not saying a word, listening dutifully, even staying suspiciously silent when the Parhelion girl ran her mouth and paid dearly for it.

Truthfully, the revelations regarding the abductions of the younglings had awoken dark memories within Rand, the sort he had tried very hard to bury six feet under when he found New Caledonia. The twist of the knife had been subtle at first, seeing a face here, hearing a name there — but now, with them speaking of the red-eyed woman and the medallions she gave the children, there was not a doubt in his mind.

Yet, whether because of his arrogance or pride, he did not yet seek to divulge all that he knew.

And why should he? Clearly, the Valar had already decided what they would accept and believe, cherry-picking speculations that fit their narrative.

Now as he stood amongst the Malcrin, listening to the alabaster queen drone on and on and on about their so-called “unity” in the face of a Realm caving in on itself, the Coara simply could not keep quiet anymore.

Esteemed Isiltári,” he started, taking a step forward to steal the Valar’s spotlight, ”Did you not hear a single word spoken in the last meeting? Your words sound so noble and intentional, but inaction will be our downfall. I have seen it before.”

He scoffed, casting a throwaway glance at Iomair before turning to Vodeva at his side.

”We cannot allow it to happen again. There is far too much at stake for us to simply sit and wait.”

The air was thick with tension. He could see Fennore’s face, her icy mask, undermining the fury in her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak again; but he raised a hand to stop her.

”The fire, consider it: had you not let in a throng of strangers into the Realm just before? And since then, have several loners, Outsiders, not grown comfortable with our hospitality? My, just how many Commoners do we have now that seemingly arrived all at once? Do you not find it odd at all that these symbols and effigies begin showing up shortly thereafter?”

He looked to the luperci on his left and right, seeking confirmation.

”There are spies amongst us,” he surmised. ”There is really no other alternative. You have grown soft, letting in each and every stray that gives you their word; and we are now an easy target because of it.”

Satisfied with his posturing, Rand stepped back in line with his mistress, a certain smugness about him that made it hard to tell whether he took pleasure in knowing that he had a point — or that the pack was under attack from an unknown assailant.

Though perhaps not entirely unknown, he thought.

”This camp where the children were taken: has it been found? Have there been any efforts at all to locate these people? Is that not a logical place to start?”

It was too much like last time.

He could see their faces; the shock, the disappointment. If he allowed his vision to blur it was a different time, a different place - the old war had been like this, when he had separated the women and children and sent them to the safe house. Back then it had been the best choice for the newly elected King, and he felt this same subtle glow in the aftershock of his outburst.

Was this a war? They had unknown assailants, the sort of silent shadows that left gaping holes in their knowledge. His outburst had come with a flash of the old - Commanders and Captains who had been lost in combat. It was red and dark, a vision of a time he had done everything in his power to forget. He had turned himself to optimism, buoying the time in New Caledonia with hope and the promise of potential.

Emotions ran high, and it was understandable. He shouldered their disappointments and their joys with Fennore - the Isiltári that he would be lost without.

They called for the Malcrin, and for a brief moment before the circle gathered around them it was Fennore and the High King alone.

”She is an example of what panic allows. We cannot allow the Realm to lose their heads, or it will spread like a disease. We need plans, concrete information.” He sighed, ”What is done is done."

He growled softly, ”But we will not do nothing.”

They knew too little of their so-called enemy to mount an attack. He refused to put the members of his realm at risk - the children had been returned to safety, the border had proven quiet… this was the time to formulate action and then begin the execution.

As the others filtered out of the room, he could feel the vacuum of his decision. Some had gasped or shaken in the aftershock of his words - while others had been quick to voice their opinions or discontent.

Fennore welcomed them, but there was a steely sheen to her eyes that communicated the brevity of their situation.

“-But we cannot let dissension divide us: these assailants, whoever they are, this is precisely what they want. Infighting will prove disastrous.”

Iomair rumbled his agreeance, ”I know it has touched us all - conflict has rent us from our homes, forced us to new lands.” Krokar had crumbled, the Court of Miracles had disappeared… and the Vale had faded from existence . ”But we cannot act without information, and at this time we have only what the children have told us.”

Silivren. Red eyes. A camp with shady figures of an unknown numbers. The medallions.

He allowed a snarl to slip through his teeth, "They took our youngest, our most vulnerable." He made a face, "But no more."

They had the power of previous leaders from this land - and he would turn to them for assistance, for the sort of wisdom that their many experiences allowed.

”I refuse to send you into danger without enough for us to go on. Inside of the Realm we are safe, united-

Rand spoke up and Iomair felt himself stiffen, the High Priests voice a weevil in his ear. Vodeva stood alongside him, the planes of her face stoic and cold. To his credit the Lorn man was not panicked, but there was a sleazy undertone that left a foul taste in the Kings mouth.

"We need new blood to grow. We place our trust in those who find our border, just as they place their trust in us." He paused a moment, "Did you not bring Outsiders yourself to pledge them to our banner while on your pilgrimmage?"

He moved on, ignoring the blank expression the Priest gave him.

”Now is the time to prepare. To learn what we can and create a defence. The Court before me is made up of the best... All of you are important pieces of our tapestry.” He attempted a smile, but it lacked some of his usual warmth, "We will seek to protect our borders, to assure that entry points are sealed off and directed where we wish."

"We move forward. We stay calm." He felt his shoulders relax, "Please, share with me your ideas on what we can accomplish to assure our safety."

Surely they had much to say on the subject. He felt his gaze land on the Wraith's Teeth, and then a moment later they hovered over the members of the Trading Company.

He smoothed his beard, "Our border will remain closed for the foreseeable future - for those of you with suspicions -" He glanced at Rand, "Provide the names. I will seek them out myself."

(///) | NPCs: n/a


He had kept silent in the previous meeting, bit his tongue as Iomair floundered and failed in front of the whole pack while handing over useful information to any spies that might have been in their ranks. The outsiders now knew three things: the king was unable to quell his people's fears, he couldn't handle the slightest bit of dissent or pressure, and he was entirely out of his league. Daisy had been too careless with her tongue but the blame was mostly on Iomair.

Leadership meant dealing with dissenters and there were two ways to go about it. You could accept the criticism no matter how uncouth or distasteful, respond with pleasant thanks while silently deciding which part you'd pay mind to if any at all. Or you could meet the critique head on, accept it as a challenge to your leadership and dare those who were out of line to step to you so you could defend your ideas with strength of arms. Iomair had done neither, whining petulantly but doing no more than kicking Daisy out of the meeting and stealing the title she had earned.

Thus Tora had no choice but to judge Iomair as simultaneously tyrannical and spineless, a combination that would earn him no favors and his pack no safety. The worst part was that Tora wasn't really surprised. Vodeva had always been the more business-like between the two of them in a relationship that shared some similarities with the wolf's own. But where Tora had some beneficial qualities that he used for the benefit of his peers (namely his knowledge of carpentry, his pathfinding abilities and his aptitude with shocking displays of violence) Iomair did...Iomair didn't seem to do a whole lot. 

But the Petty King did wish to have a meeting with the high society, interested in hearing what they had to say before blowing up and sulking. Tora indulged him because he had to, casting a sidelong look to Kalypso as he lit up a smoke. He had heard her comment in the general gathering and agreed wholeheartedly. Tobacco and the calming presence of his wife would be his companions as he listened to his Isiltári. the three of them taking in nothing of any worth.Iomair's pet sycophant talked a lot but said little, lying to all their faces as she suggested that they would not face judgement.

So far so political. He could vaguely remember the meetings his father had taken part in back home. His family had been minor enough nobility that he had never been in line for the shogunate but important enough that they had to brought in on decisions.  As far as Tora could tell the hot air now was the same was the same smoke blown back then.

 Surprisingly the first person he found himself agreeing with was Rand of all people.

The swine sneered and snickered as he always did, truth hidden beneath a greasy, scummy layer of horse crap. Tora had privately questioned the sanity of those who had allowed the mass of newcomers in when the pack was being preyed upon, all sorts of wide-eyed weirdos who had just happily stumbled upon the pack when it was in a time of strife. Ah yes, nothing suspicious there! If Rand was going to state something so obvious that Toraberā had to concur, well then the sole Lord of Dusk would just have to get his head checked later. For now he'd take it.

And then the man of the hour said his piece. The Prince of Pointlessness, the Crown of Cravenness, the Seneschal of Shame himself faced his people  and did nothing but delegate. "You handle it all" he said, "you my loyal subjects who actually work for a living. I myself am far too important to put myself out there but I'll pay lip service to the concept if it keeps the plebs content."

The floor was opened and Tora found himself speaking up despite himself, the once socially timid creature who had refused to address his future wife as anything other than Her Majesty long since crushed into nothingness. "The priest is right. While usually we would take everyone who could be of use letting in a horde of strangers who just appeared on our doorstep while we're under attack? That's handing the enemy an opportunity. At best it means we're just careless, at worst Rand's spy theory is correct. God knows there's no evidence against it." 

He probably should have snuck in an homage to the Caledonian deities but it wasn't like he cared for anyone's religion. Hell he didn't even reference the ones he had grown up around. 

"And on the home front we have a crisis of leadership. We all saw what happened with Daisy, a kind and thoughtful member of our group who has been nothing but helpful. Was she out of line? Yes. Did you show those gathered calmness under fire? No. Instead of being a bulwark for us to put our faith in you melted down. I understand that your authority was questioned but how can we do anything but question it when that's how you react to one of your gentlest subjects panicking over the theft of our children?" 

He had done his best to keep his voice even but slipped, an edge creeping in at the thought of Valkyrie and Yuki. 

"Before we seek out the enemy we need to know that we have a steady hand holding the reins. So I throw the question of preparation back at you, High King. Do you have any ideas on how to gain back our trust? Only then should we proceed.

He wanted to say so much more. Tora was honor-bound to his liege but the ties to his family and his pack were far tighter. With those ties came the urge to tell Iomair that he hid behind the safety of his citizens, remind him that two of the people in the audience had experience with leading a pack and inform him that the cure for terminal tyranny consisted of a tight noose and a long drop. But in the interest of a constructive dialogue he wouldn't mention any of that.

Yet. Perhaps Iomair would bark and need to be put in his place. In the meantime Tora would keep himself content with daydreams of challenging his lord to a duel, the vision a pacifier for a sick mind who just wanted what was best for his people
Optime | New Caledonia (Fort Louisbourg - King's Bastion) | Dated: December 10th

Related to [NC] Spooktober 2021, [NC] A Tear in the Tapestry, [NC] Winter Newspost.

Set directly after this thread.
As the pack meeting drew to a close, her canary eyes lingered on her husband for a beat. With Daisy's dismissal, the air was ripe with discourse and thick with judgment. The Malcrin meeting, she was sure, would not fare much better if things continued their current course. Mako expressed a wordless wish of luck to her before he nudged Genkei, who dragged Ronin away from Naomi. Her daughter moved closer to her, her eyes questioning, but Teagan shook her head. With the bulk of the pack gone, the Stryder pair moved in closer to start the second meeting for the day.

The Isiltári was first to address them, and the High King continued where she left off. Their attempts to calm the anger in the room, however, were met with Rand challenging the Valar. Points were made, and blame was cast between the King and the arrogant Priest. Not soon after the King had attempted to bring order back, did Torabera speak up. He was impassioned, likely because his own children had fallen victim to being lured away.

When he demanded the King answer him though, it was Teagan who spoke. "What would you have him do? Grovel and beg for forgiveness? It's easy to point fingers and pin the blame on your king when you aren't the one wearing the burden of the crown. Iomair is not perfect, just as none of us are. He may have acted heatedly in the moment, but a demotion made in anger is something that can be easily rectified once we all put away our fangs and return to civility."

Her sharp eyes cut to the High King then, wanting to make it known that she had not agreed with Daisy's swift demotion either, but the demotion was not something that was permanent. Or, at least, he had the power to undo it just as he had to sentence it.

Her frigid gaze flicked to the others in the room, looking at no one in particular, so as to not make anyone feel singled out. "You all bark and say the Valar have done nothing, but they have, you all just have not seen it because they were trying to keep us from descending into this chaos."

Looking to her guildmaster, she continued, revealing for the rest to know, "Have you forgotten who it was that came to the Wraiths after the fire?" Her gaze returned to their peers, explaining further in her diplomatic tone, "They asked us to investigate the matter, and to look at all possibilities, be they foreign or within our own ranks. The Valar did not—and have not—just idly stood by during all of this. Do you think it's easy for them to see their people suffer and let fear slowly consume us all? They've done what they thought was best that would lead to the least amount of fear mongering and hysteria to spread."

And the pack had turned on them for it.

"The Isiltári is right. Whoever is behind these attacks is trying to divide us, and we're only playing right into their hands. All of this finger pointing and making demands will not change what has already passed. Instead of squabbling amongst ourselves, we should be making action plans of how to move forward."

The Escal turned her attention to the Valar once more. "If we look at the facts and apply our best logic, our enemy was obviously here before the start of the fire. How else would they have been able to get so far into the heart of our territory unnoticed? Know which house to catch alight that would send us down this path that we currently find ourselves on? The Eyes and Tears and other vandalisms were quick to follow, again, too deep in our territory to be an Outsider constantly sneaking in." She paused only long enough to let the information process before she continued. "This was an inside job, though, not necessarily done by the newest that walk amongst us."

The others could speculate. Teagan had no issue with bluntly saying what they all were thinking.

"My father was the Lune of Casa di Cavalieri, and he was brought to an early grave because of infiltrators posing as loyal packmates and allies that had been in the pack for months. The knights let the enemy best them with psychological warfare not unlike what we're seeing here, and it was nearly their undoing. So, unless you all wish to see your King and Isiltári dead, and for your children to be homeless, I suggest you all put away your tempers and what-I-would-dos and look at the problem and not simply someone to blame."

Accusing the Valar of not doing enough was pointless. The whole point of their calling for a meeting with the Malcrin was meant to open the floor for ideas. They were asking for the pack to help.

They were but two Luperci. Their hands were full just trying to keep their pack from becoming unglued because of uncertainties and fear.

"Short of throwing every newer member amongst us into the Underthing, there is no way to know whether they all are spies for the enemy without causing mass hysteria of why they're being detained. It's obvious that the enemy knows us and how we work, and has taken advantage of that. We need to be tactful."

Her gaze shifted to Rand. "A few of the children that were taken mentioned Nin. I think we should start with those followers first if we are to question any one of our own members. As a priest, I would assume that you and Vodeva would know best on who to start with? Do the medallions, the tears, or the eyes, mean anything in your faith to your goddess?"

Teagan Stryder
— The Knight —
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Valkyrie who was supposed to be a prodigy, but not brought on from her mother nor father. No, it was merely a namesake given to her from a woman she barely knew. A namesake she would— no could— never live up to. She wasn’t a princess, hell, she wasn’t even of the Savoy line, as far as she had gathered. Or maybe, maybe once upon a time the female was a princess, and should act accordingly. She was a warrior princess.

And yet, despite her research, despite the fact her name literally meant “female warrior”, Valkyrie couldn’t place herself into the line of fire. Not yet, not whenever her own mentality was vulnerable.

Or that’s what she told herself. Late, but not underdressed, the conversation with Delphine had brightened her mood. Sillivern. That was her name. She tightened her own leather armor to her arms, and then walked into the hall like nobodies business.

Esteemed Isiltári…”

Valkyrie could have vomited from the way he spoke her name, from the way he dared to interrupt and intervene. Even if she was a little late, it wasn’t unwarranted. He was creepy, intriguing, and her bones chilled with his speech.

Seeking out a familiar face she went to her fathers side, her hair was tamed, and her stoic expression was likely a replica of that of Kalypso’s. The head of the Savoy-Tanka family, began his speech in agreement with Rand. Wait what?

She stifled the need to scoff and spit onto the ground, standing far enough away from her father that she couldn’t bury herself into his arms, but not so far enough away that she didn’t catch that twitch in his face. A familiar twitch when the kids were misbehaving. One she knew too well. The King suggested for them to put their lives at risk for him. Valkyrie, a warrior, of course she would. No question asked. Or would she?

For now, all she could do was nod in agreement. The ties to the crown, and the ties to her family waged a war in her mind.

Teagan spoke next, and perhaps, that’s what swayed her decisions. Her words, she listened brilliantly, focusing on the woman. Nodding a head with her as well.

Her name was Sillivern.” She blurted out like a non conformed member of society. Perhaps then is when she felt all eyes on her, and the woman stopped herself from shrinking. No, now was not the time to hide in her family name. Now was the time to embrace her true lineage. Working her jaw, she gestured around. Straightening herself like the prodigy she would be. “We have been divided. As many have expected.Don’t say like, don’t curse. Ground yourself Valkyrie. Glancing to her father she steadied her breath. “King Iomair, your emotional response and decision is not taken with a light heart.” What was she even doing talking again? Her gaze shifted to Fennore. She trusted her, always. Yet suddenly it felt like she was on the loosing side of her battle. ”Daisy is a kind and wonderful High Lady, who’s to say you won’t reprimand us for speaking out? She was emotional. We all are.

Valkyrie didn’t budge in her position, instead of retreating or running to make a scene she grounded herself and crossed her arms. “High Lord Tora is correct. But so is Escal Teagan.” A pause before she took a step towards the leaders. “I do not agree with the questioning our trust in you,sorry mom, sorry dad.We have put our trust into you time and time again, and you’ve nary to lead us astray. For as long as I have been alive. I do not agree or like the way you acted towards Daisy, that is all I ask you to rethink…” she bowed her head, like a good little soldier. Raising it she made eye contact, albeit briefly with Iomair, then shifted it to Fennore. “We can increase border patrols, no one leaves without an escort. We let in these outsiders who are now apart of our pack, and I suggest we do our best to keep eyes on them. They are but mere commoners who deserve their chances.” A breath as she looked towards Fennore.

I agree with Teagan, suggesting we look into those that Rand brought in first.” A somewhat low blow from the princess warrior. “The women who took us focused on Nin, that was their goal. Intel was next, trying to pick and prod asking about the King.” A memory in the brink of her mind.

Her allegiance was with the crown on this one. Selfish as ever, but not to bash her father, not to hurt her family. Valkyrie was done speaking, as she crossed arms over her chest and stood away from her father now. Yet, she didn’t break, didn’t bend.

Am I doing this thing right?
The masses of the new, young, or unambitious left the meeting place in a slow exodus with whispers and anxious expressions. The Malcrin remained for the rest of the conversation that would undoubtedly grow more heated and contentious.

Kalypso had the same tight expression that she had after her singular contribution to the larger meeting. Her arms were crossed and her hands were visibly clenched, making lines in the sleeves of her jacket. She pointedly looked to the people leaving rather than the Valar.

Beneath that cold mask, she was seething. The list of missteps had begun the moment she had dirtied her hands with the fire weeks prior and only seemed to grow with each passing incident. Everything in-between was only more fuel for the metaphorical fire. She was not pleased, to say the very least.

The greatest slight came with having been lumped together with the rest of the rabble, as though the Malcrin's elite were barely better than any newly risen Aear. More so, she was a Councilor -- the only Councilor. She should have been told. She should have been consulted first. There was so much she could have told them so that they knew, so that they understood.

Instead, Kalypso felt insulted and overlooked. Iomair was from an old line from an old land, but so was the Savoy woman. Her lineage's roots in the land they stood on was longer than the King's. She had nothing against old blood or new blood, but the fact they disregarded those that had been there before was not wise. No, it was sheer stupidity.

They didn't do their due diligence. They looked away.

They were dooming them with their naivety.

Just like she once had.

Kalypso said nothing through Rand's speech; there was nothing to add and she had no interest in agreeing with him publicly. He may have been correct, but he had hardly shown himself to be a friend.

Tora speaking up surprised her, though she managed to contain the shock. She looked to him and felt her lips tighten even more. While he was entitled to his opinions, even if it meant siding with Rand. However, she also found herself unable to fully agree with her husband on his approach. Time had tempered her and so had failure. She absently rubbed a thumb over her palm where a scar remained as a permanent reminder.

Teagan, oh, noble Teagan. Daughter of Casa, born and bred a warrior, a fighter. Casa certainly had something going for it when it came to the fighters it churned out, but they were dealing with something more insidious and slippery. Iomair's demotion of Daisy was easily rectified, but it would paint the High King as fickle and tempestuous. The damage been done and could not be undone.

Teagan had good points, but even then, Kalypso maintained her silence.

And then came Valkyrie.

The Savoy matriarch's expression wavered for a moment as her stormy gaze settled on her daughter. Her youth and inexperience were betrayed by her words. No, Valkyrie had not been there for La Marea and the stories had been thin and few. What would she know of betrayal and of ghosts come haunting from the past? Of all her children to know, it was the eldest three that had the most first-hand understanding of what could really be done. But Valkyrie did reveal more information that helped far more than it hindered.

Nin, Silivern (whoever that was), were constant. A constant theme and thread in the whole debacle. The faith of the old and the faith of the new. Fires were considered cleansing in so many faiths, so why couldn't it be religious fervor?

Her eyes shut for a moment after her daughter was done. Oh, young one, you know so little.

Kalypso opened them, and turned to Iomair.

"So, what I'm understanding from this entire thing is that something from your past has reared its ugly head and has slipped into our midst," she said slowly, calmly, and coldly. "There can be no hesitation here to wipe this threat out immediately and decisively." Her gaze flicked to Fennore for a moment, displeasure brief but clear on her face.

"We all carry something with us from the past. I brought it down on the Court when I hesitated to deal it promptly. I scattered the Court to the four winds. I suggest you do not do the same." Learn from my example, you stubborn old fool. Her warning was obvious as was her advice, but there was no hint of the rest of her turbulent thoughts in anything she said.

Kalypso looked away from the Valar to the Malcrin.

"We are at a distinct disadvantage here. They are familiar with us. We have no capacity for infiltration ourselves, especially among the Malcrin." The enemy lurking in their midst would know who they all were; none of them could just mosey into their group without arousing suspicion immediately, not even the ones who had been taken by them. Publicly bringing the Malcrin together destroyed any chance of success it could have had.

"So, I suggest Percival talks with his sister and brings information back to us, as well as gives her the chance to breathe. Meanwhile, everyone else should quietly see what they can learn. The Trading Company can begin accumulating resources and connections." She should not have been making plans for the Valar, but she was not above heavy-handedness. She had, after all, once led a successful coup, even if she had no intention of starting another.
Woodsmoke was a spectator. Icy blue eyes took in all, her grey-kissed ears parsed the sounds and funneled them into her mind. She was a creature who waited, though some may say she waited too long. The huntress had a plan, one she wished she had made more progress on before things became heated. Daisy’s demotion was unexpected, though it was a language she didn’t really comprehend well. Titles and rank, handed to those who deserved them. She knew about strength and ability, but there were meek among them who held higher station than her and for far longer than she held her title. Fighting for dominance was a language she knew, and her body was not fit for acquiring vast amounts of clout. Had she been in Iomair’s shoes, blood would have spilt. Not in anger, but to show Daisy her place. Nothing to besmirch her feelings, but her behavior.

Though New Caledonia was her home, she still never felt as if she fit in fully. Given the fact that she stood on four legs while the rest of the Malcrin, and certainly the Valar remained on two just showed how different she was. Theirs was the language of the new, an echo from those that came before, she was certain. The words Woodsmoke spoke often were waved away or outright laughed at. She felt even smaller than she was compared to everyone else around. Despite that, the woman stayed and listened, waiting for the right time to speak.

She had yet to gather any advantageous intel, but she was trying. The children who were kidnapped brought in way more information than anyone else who was investigating. Perhaps she could disguise herself as a youngster? Though the creeping grey latching onto her extremities would be difficult to hide. No, she ought to focus on her idea. One she hoped would turn the tide and bring the Realm back to peace and happiness. There was only one problem; her will to speak. She lacked the confidence to, with a certain someone in the room.

Most seemed to be in opposition to the high king’s stance and way of handling things. Most outspoken being Rand, heaviest spoken being Tora. The priest bothered her not, as he was only a packmate to her, one who refused to acknowledge what gifts her point of view gave. Toraberā, however, irked her. He was a friend, or she thought anyway, but his unwillingness to forgive her for a folly in the past was starting to hurt more and more. His worry and disdain for newcomers made her believe he’d single her out soon for bringing Jonk and his advisor Jebri into the pack. By now she was certain Tora and Rand held the same opinion about her, and it wasn’t a positive one. Perhaps her belief in their friendship was false, that he offered aid once to gain a favor. The invite into the Wraiths to keep tabs on her. Whatever his intentions were, they mattered not here. Regardless, she ignored his presence in the room, refusing to look at him.

One disapproving glance from Toraberā would have shaken her, she put too much stock in her packmate’s possible opinions of her. Thankfully a level head seemed the most sound of them all. Teagan’s address to everyone who had spoken was enough to put Woodsmoke on a solid foundation, and gave her enough courage to speak. “With the possibility of a spy among us here, and even among those who have left as well, I will not give any details to a plan I’ve been working on here,” she explained. “Should the High King and Isiltári wish to know what it is, we can meet in private and I can explain it to them,” she spoke, glancing to both Fennor and Iomair. “Either way, I will work on it. With or without interest, and will ask for help from those I trust personally.”

Woodsmoke already had Pilin’s backing, though he did not know much of the birds she preferred, he was still willing to lend a hand. They had fixed up the disappeared Lord Regent’s home to be a rookery for her birds. There was plenty of room for more, and she intended to fill it with the dark winged friends, ones who will learn the names of faces of the Realm’s scouts and warriors. Ones who will soar above the trees and brush, and inform the scouts and fighters of the whereabouts of anyone outside the border, or any stranger within. The huntress knew she could train them. Even the foul-mouthed Cherub, as unruly as he was, knew who and where to go to, and could follow Woodsmoke’s commands well enough to carry out tasks. “I’m sorry, but I believe it could solve our current issues, and prevent future ones from happening,” she told her fellow Malcrin, and the Valar. “Because of that, I cannot say it here.”

Woodsmoke bowed her head, a miniscule thing surrounded by giants. The fire that blazed in her while she was alone wasn’t given much air to breathe here. It was for the best, perhaps, as teeth could meet flesh if everyone was like her. “Whatever any of you think of me, please don’t belittle or discredit me,” she finally glanced to Tora, and then to Rand. “I want nothing more than for our children to be safe, for all of us to not live in fear of smoke seen drifting above the trees, or to wonder if we’ll lose another home to flame in the night.”
The last lower member’s feet had barely crossed the Bastion’s threshold before the Valar descended into heated chatter, their pecking and squawking akin to a bunch of ruffled hens. Hardly a moment passed where someone wasn’t pointing fingers, airing grievances, or offering their perspective. This flurry of energy was what Calan walked into as he found his place in the circle, having initially lingered back to talk to Pippa. His fellow studio mate seemed rattled by the turn of events, if the slight shake to her otherwise steady hands said anything. She’d dismissed his concerns with a muttering that she should get back to work.

To be fair, Calan was rather perturbed himself. It felt beyond strange to be invited to offer his opinion so quickly after losing a member of their own rank. How could any of them feel free to share their thoughts without fear of punishment? Out of cowardice, the blond held his tongue, wanting to see how others reacted to this sudden turn of events.

However, the moment that Torabera ‘All Balls’ Tanaka took the stage, it was clear that placating their ticked-off King was not part of the plan. Others soon followed, no doubt encouraged by the reaver’s bluntness. The responses ranged from measured (Teagan and Valkyrie) to downright cryptic (Woodsmoke, keeping her cards bizarrely close to her chest). At their core, however, they all seemed to be agreeing on one thing - there was still more to be done to protect their Realm from this looming threat. They couldn’t just sit and wait for the enemy to strike more fear in their hearts. Action was required, and soon.

Still, something wasn’t quite right. Something in the their logic didn’t make sense, good intentions aside. It took Calan a bit to recognise what was irking him, but when he did, he realised he too had to add his voice to the chorus.

A window of opportunity arose to speak, and the trader was quick to take it, lest he lose his chance. “I’m with Tora, here. The way you handled Daisy was absolute bullshit — pardon my French. But how can we build trust in the Realm if we’re all prying into our neighbours? I’d agree we can all trust this group, but I just don’t know how this will calm the feeling of resentment among the rest.” At this, he looked towards their King. And just who started all this bullshit in the first place? “They’re not stupid - they’re going to notice all the Malcrin getting into their business. They’re okay with us now, but how long will that last?”

He waited a moment to watch the reactions of the others, hoping someone else saw it the same way he did. Then he continued.

“We can’t all look into potential spies. That’s too obvious. We can all listen out, sure, but we can’t create a security state. Rand should ask around, yes, and Percy. Maybe one more, two tops. Those who can actually learn things quietly,” he added, using Kalypso’s wording from earlier. The lower classes already believed there was a Shadow Council - why not take that and run with it?

Speaking of the Councillor - “Kaly’s right - we should start collecting resources.” It was as good of an idea as any, and they all seemed to be spitballing. “But I think there’s still a merit to exploring our borders. Look for more symbols - more medallions and the like. Those commoners who volunteered to lead patrols should go with a member of the Malcrin. Who knows… they could be hiding the clues, for all we know. Covering their tracks.” The thought made him feel sour, but he couldn’t think of a better solution.

There were probably flaws to his arguments - hell, he had no idea how to run a kingdom, let alone deal with insurgency - but how else were they going to deal with this and still find camaraderie?
(658) | NPCs: N/A
WC: 374

Arran wasn't sure what the world had come to that he was agreeing with Rand on something. He thought that really said something about the state of things in the pack. He didn't voice any of this out loud, though, because he didn't think it was necessary. The energy in the room made him uneasy, especially because this was not a side of Iomair that he was used to seeing. While he was aware that the High King wasn't perfect, this was a small crack in his view of their leader. How was it possible for the leadership to demand that their pack remain calm, and yet Iomair was unable to do so himself? At least Fennore was still cool, at least on the outside. He imagined she must be scared on the inside, given that they had an entire pack to look out for.

He didn't want to think poorly of their newer members, but with the way things aligned... it was difficult not to be suspicious. Still, he wanted to think the best of everyone. Maybe this was only a couple of them. Maybe it would be different if it hadn't directly affected his family with Gwaun's disappearance. The thought still made him anxious while also motivating him to do something about it.

"I could ask around, but given my role as a Heartward, I would want to be open about it. It would feel... wrong, I guess, for me to do anything else. Maybe some pack members are too nervous to speak up about things they know given all of the heightened emotions? I wanted to check in with our pack mates anyway." He would just have to make sure that they knew he was being genuine. Asking after their wellbeing was the main point, and if he found out information that could be useful, he'd pass that on. He would also make sure to let them know that he was going to do that so no one felt betrayed. It might make them less willing to talk, but it was better than doing nothing. And he wasn't willing to risk the trust of his pack mates by essentially spying on them.
7/7 Grand Quest Threads Complete
player wiki ♦ sig by despi ♦ av by san ♦ character wiki
ooc [+645]
Every time the scarred priest of Nin opened his mouth, Bellad had an evergreen opportunity to regret ever patching his throat. Today was no exception, and Bellad bristled. Still, he was aware of his outburst earlier on this day. He saw tempers flare, beyond even his own, and acknowledged his brother’s attempt to prevent further escalation. He waited for his jaws to unclench so he wouldn’t hiss through his teeth. Still the ice in his voice had a cold burn to it.

“If the priesthood of Nin has evidence, you can spare this gathering your persistent gloating and bring it forth.” There was a brief pause before others resumed speaking. In that time, he thought he heard the creak of Ierian’s staff under a tightening grip. Rather than devolve into a confrontation between the priest and himself - a looming prospect that Bellad was beginning to consider confronting in a form suited for inflicting bodily harm, he let other opinions be heard first.

“I agree that we stand to gain nothing from haphazard excursions. If nothing else, diverting able hand and sharp fang from the heart of the Realm, when we know already that it has been infiltrated, would only make further sabotage easier. Yes, we must learn. No, we can’t each simultaneously conduct an investigation.”

Teagan’s words in particular found purchase. The idea that Nin’s worshippers were somehow involved seemed plausible, though Bellad had a hard time sifting through his emotions to ensure that, were he to back the Stryder’s suggestion, he would not be doing so out of sheer spite.

Ierian’s address came first: “Rand, if it is true the strangers have been using the effigies and symbols of your faith, then is it not being perverted in their hands? Do they not poison your flock whilst urging them to sow dissent? The symbols, and those you teach, know you nothing to share of them?” For all the difference in faith, Ierian came across as compassionate. Bellad doubted it would work. He’d tried to call on the priest’s conscience before.

“I would advise that we avoid rushing out to confront these strangers. A trap would be expected.” The old wolf concluded, looking over the rest of the gathering. Rather than let the Songthorn Escal’s words sink into silence, Bellad soon picked up. “Then as an alternative we must conduct our work here. Fortify. Ensure our homes are safe and stocked. To that end, much like the Trading Company, the Circle of Athelas will stock up and prepare as well. Healer and Heartward alike.” Though for what it would prepare he didn’t say. As though to signify his accord with Kalypso, he nodded at the Councilor, temper somewhat evening out as he turned to what could be seen as more practical solutions to the tasks at hand. The look he gave Arran was one of acknowledgment, believing the member of the Circle to have no lapses in memory in regards to his duties.

The meeting carried on, and multiple Caledonians stepped forth suggesting what they could do to learn. “Whichever one of you begins to investigate, they would be vulnerable. I suggest we organize patrols and conduct investigations with no less than two Souls at a time. Nobody is to be caught out on their own.” Bellad voiced an amendment to those who would scout for the pack. “If we find it crucial that a Soul work alone… Then perhaps all such undertakings should be sanctioned solely and directly by the King and Isiltári.”

“Ah… There is one more matter, in regards to vulnerability.” Ierian seemed nearly hesitant broaching the subject, eyes heavy as he looked at the gathering. “The children. Whether those who have visited the strange camp, or else who have not. I would propose that they be put under close watch and be kept close to their families at all times.”
Optime | New Caledonia (Fort Louisbourg - King's Bastion) | Dated: December 10th

Related to [NC] Spooktober 2021, [NC] A Tear in the Tapestry, [NC] Winter Newspost.

Set directly after this thread.
Daisy's outburst and the subsequent backlash made the hall loud with voices and opinions. Shouts were made, and not-so-whispered, scathing commentaries were said under breath.

The disruption and chaos caused Ronin to uncross his arms and lean slightly towards her. "Maa, kore wa yoku miemasen…" Ronin murmured discreetly into her ear. He was tense, and so was she.

With tempers flaring, the threat of a fight breaking out at any moment had not escaped her. Like the rest of her family, Naomi’s eyes were watchful, and her muscles were coiled tight, ready to act should the meeting get out of hand. No such misfortune came to pass though. The Isiltári closed out the meeting swiftly, and dismissed the lower ranks. As the Enda and Sitsina ranks filed out of the Bastion, Ronin’s silver gaze shifted between Naomi and Genkei. It was her father that finally urged them to depart with the others, and it was her brother that ensured the stubborn Solberg obeyed the Valar’s command. He cast her a look over his shoulder as Genkei pulled him by the arm, and Naomi tore her gaze away.

She moved to stand beside her mother, silently asking what they should do. The Stryder matriarch simply shook her head though, indicating that they wait and observe. The hall was turbulent enough without them adding their own fire-dripped words to it.

Once the bulk of the pack had left, the meeting with the Malcrin and higher Courts began. There was more arguing, more deliberation. Naomi kept quiet as her glacier eyes danced between each speaker as they made their point. Valkyrie added information that had not been shared with the first meeting, and discussion of how they should go about finding the spy—or spies—in their midst continued from there. There was talk of collecting supplies and otherwise preparing for the worst to come.

When Ierian spoke up, Naomi’s ears flattened as she visibly frowned. The child in her was desperate to argue against his suggestion. She and Ronin both were yearlings, and around the same age as a few of their peers who had been abducted. They, however, had not been lured away, nor had they become victimized by the faceless actors beyond their borders. The pair could fight, could defend themselves. Why should they be treated like unshifted pups?

Instead, the Stryder daughter bit her tongue. Her titles, guild membership, and rank would surely make her an exception. Ronin’s skills in combat would likely allow him a pass with the Valar as well.

When there was a moment’s pause, the Escal finally added her contribution to the meeting. “The Ironpaws should keep their forges hot,” she suggested.

There had been talk of patrols, but nothing of the very real possibility of war.

“If things come to a fight, we’ll need more weapons, and it’d be best to keep our blades sharp.” Looking to the Tanaka Lord, she hoped that he might temper his foul mood if he had other things to consider besides how hard he’d have to tug to pull the High King from his pedestal. “I’m sure Guildmaster Torabera would approve to allow the Wraiths to teach basic combat techniques to those that are willing to learn?”

The Wraiths would not make fighters out of everyone, but, knowing even a little could mean the difference between being ruthlessly slaughtered or being able to escape—even if injured.

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
Location: The King's Bastion || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime

Following Daisy's outburst and his own attempt at keeping her from further discipline, Percival had retreated back into careful and focused silence. He remained where he had been standing, his arms hidden beneath the woolen grey cloak where his fingers were balled into loose fists. Heat radiated along the ridge of his cheeks and tingled the insides of his ears. Here, in these places hidden by fur and folded pinnae, he allowed himself to feel his shame. But outwardly, where the eyes of his leaders and his peers could see him plainly, he held himself with his usual pride and poise.

Once the Enda and Sitsina had departed, leaving the nobles and leaders to discuss matters further amongst themselves, Percy drew his focus away from his troubled mind and listened. His lips twitched when Rand spoke and he flicked his eyes to look at the Reed Whisperer, the once-queen silent at his side.

Turmoil stirred within him. The condescension in Rand's voice set him on edge and his initial instinct was to argue. But then he remembered Daisy and he remembered the High King's ire towards towards her -- the crack of flesh against the bannister and the snarl for silence -- and Percy found that he was at odds with himself. Perhaps, even, at odds with Iomair himself.

Because while he disagreed with the way his sister raised her concern, he did not disagree with the substance of it.

So he clenched his jaws and bit his tongue and held his peace. And other voices followed. Voices of agreement, voices of dispute, voices of reason and disgust and solidarity. But it was the voices of those others who had bore witness to past conflicts within their own varied histories that stirred something else in Percival. He thought again about Daisy. He thought about the fire. He thought about the Realm's beginning. He thought about Krokar's end.

When his name was evoked, he blinked as though coming from a trance and shifted his eyes briefly to Kalypso's direction, and then in Calan's, before they settled upon Iomair's scruffy face. His dark brows were heavy, his lips were pursed. He cleared his throat.

"There are many among us who have seen the evils that Luperci are capable of," he began, looking about himself briefly. "And I am no stranger to these evils. Krokar -- my birth pack -- fell to a faceless people, one that used fire to set our village alight while we slept and abducted my fa- our leader in the ensuing chaos. This strategy left us directionless and destitute and, ultimately, it became Krokar's downfall."

He paused and lifted a hand up from the folds of his cloak to thoughtlessly smooth his beard, his eyes looking past the gathered nobles to the empty space beyond.

"But New Caledonia is different," he asserted firmly, blinking away his reverie and scanning the gathered nobles again. "This isn't Krokar and it isn't the Court. But one thing is clear: we must stand united. We can disagree about Daisy's discipline-" Percival looked firmly at Iomair a beat before glancing away again. "-but we must not let it divide us."

Drawing in a deep breath, Percy held it a moment before releasing it again in a gentle puff.

"Daisy and I will head to La Estrella Roja and see what the workers and patrons there might have heard." He thought that his sister might appreciate a reason to get out of the Realm for a few days and it would certainly give them more than enough time to talk.

He fell into a momentary silence before something that had been nagging at him from the back of his mind finally broke though and scratched its way to the surface of his awareness. His expression shifted subtly, his jaw going slightly slack and his eyes almost flashing with the memory of it. He looked pointedly up at the Valar.

"In the Realm's first season," he began, his brows furrowed. "There were strange occurrences then, too: messages written in blood, odd figures placed around the territory..." Again, he began to smooth his beard. "If Teagan is right and our current problems are being instigated by a Caledonian, they could have been among us then, too." He frowned more deeply, cupping his chin. "They could be much older a member than we realize."

[WC -- 737]

He listened as was his duty. Iomair stood before them as he always had, proud of his people and filled with the sort of nobility that was befitting someone of his station. He had always seen them like threads of the same fabric – as a humble tapestry that had spun itself from twine into unending gold.

The frustration in him had been tempered, though pieces of it still coursed through him, steady and silent.  He twisted the piece of iron in his pocket and willed Dúr to give him strength. Daisy would recover. This meeting was filled with an energy that he could handle – her feral panic would not reverberate through his High Court as they discussed the horrors that had found their land.

He would carry the weight of their expectation. As each of them spoke out he listened keenly, assuring that his gaze did not waver from each concerned face.

They were all emotional, as was their right.

Toraberā spoke first, the violet in his eyes prepared to clash like a blade. That he agreed with the priest had Iomair leaning slightly forward, a twitching running up his spine like a tickle of frost. He listened and nodded – mulling over his words as another voice rose to break the silence left by the frustrated Tanaka.

Teagan spoke with a cool logic, the sort of approach that the King would have expected from an ex-warlord of the Knights. She shared her thoughts with those gathered and Iomair found himself thinking of weapons and the sort of patrols the woman could lead on the Realm's behalf.

Valkyrie was next, her eyes bright in the face of the meeting. It must have been the first of its kind that the Tavar had attended, but she was not afraid to lend her voice to those who had gathered. It brought a smile to the man’s face to know that she was willing to stand behind her words.

They all were.

Their only Councillor, Kalypso spoke of the past finding them here in the present. It was a notion that the King had considered, but it was dangerous and filled with the echoes of a war long behind them. The Trading Company would do well in assuring that their stores were well-stocked, trading for items that would see them through the winter. He trusted the Councillor to do what needed to be done – he had seen her work and knew that it would benefit them all.

Woodsmoke spoke of spies and a plan that she had been concocting that was to be shared with the Valar. It was a candid speech, and Iomair couldn’t help but prick his ears towards the often-quiet wilding with curiosity. Her pale eyes glinted as she glanced between him and Fennore, and he offered only a subtle bob of his head before turning to listen to the next speaker. He would find her later to learn more about what this project was.

Calan spoke of trust found and lost – prying into neighbours and the pit of resentment that hung over them like a cloud. For the Malcrin to sift through their people would draw unwanted attention from the Enda, and Iomair understood what it meant to spear suspicion through the heart of their Realm; it would launch a dissent that no one was prepared to face – not even the golden faced trader.

Arran offered to check in on any affected – as a Heartward he had a reason to meet with many in the Realm as an empathetic friend. The Shepherd looked nervous about the potential of lying to those who may seek him out and was certain to assuage these concerns with a flip of his mottled ears. There would be no shadowy half-truths from the Fir-Chlis.

The Songthorn brothers spoke in deep tones, the gentle rumbling of their voices slipping through the hall. Iomair listened to Ierian and nodded, understanding the care that they had placed into their words. They spoke of the children and their protection and discussed the Circle of Athelas and its talents.

Iomair released a breath and bowed to each of the speakers, turning, at last, to listen to the final two.

Naomi brought up their forges – now was the time to create weapons that would find hands to wield them. They would fortify and the Wraiths Teeth with iron, with the strength of an entire mountain. She suspected a fight, and he could see the gleam of certainty in her that was so much like her mother.

Sharp blades and sharp minds.

Sharp teeth and sharp kinds.

All of them glinted at him, and it was as if he saw a row of swords before him. It was a war-torn memory from his time as a newly elected King on the fields of the old Clans... Soldiers that had not been prepared for what was to come. 

Percival spoke last, and Iomair could feel the weight of his gaze like the iron in his pocket. His was a story that took the King back to their founding days – back when they had been little more than a band of refugees seeking out knowledge of what it meant to be a part of this land.

Their stories thrummed through him, their words echoing in the chamber as he nodded and listened and listened some more. When a natural silence found them, he allowed his gaze to trickle across them – a warm light appearing in his eyes once more.

He did not speak until he was ready and instead threaded his fingers together as he began. He had already allowed his emotions to get the better of himself once - he was not about to allow it to happen again.

”I assure you, Daisy will recover.” He hummed softly, ”I listen to you all and hear this: we are not divided. We have one fact that we all agree upon with every speech that carries in this room; we all want what is best for our people.” 

It was the thread. In his mind, he leaned forward and reached for it, pulling it tight.

”Every. Single. One.”

They were all theories based on the small clues that had been left behind; the warnings that had hidden in the shadows of their home. Every cry or shout, every frown or snarl - it all came from a want to protect what they had built.

”We will stockpile our reserves. We will forge weapons. We will strengthen patrols and ask that the children remain in the City Square unless under escort. We will ask that our guilds lean into their missions – trade, stockpile, organize, defend.”

He looked at each of them as he spoke, confirming that their voices contributed to their way forward.


”This... Woman, Silivren – we have a description and a name. We know she travels with her wife and a few others. And Nín…” he said this with every measure of neutrality that he could, ”Proves to be a common theme.”


If an infiltration had already happened... it was already too late.

For a moment his gaze rested on Vodeva.

She did not flinch, though he saw the way she reached for Rand's arm.

"What do you know of your Acolytes? Have they ever mentioned something like this?"

He took one of the wooden, tear-shaped Medallions from his pocket and held it out to be inspected.

"These are what the children have been bringing back." He frowned, "Shaped like... Well." He turned it in his fingers and bounced the sharp tip against a paw pad, "A raindrop?"

He handed it to the nearest Caledonian to allow their own inspection.

"From today we begin our preparations anew. Together. A plan made by the people and not dictated solely by your King."

Iomair finally allowed his face to break into a more familiar smile, as they gathered around the medallion.

(///) | NPCs: n/a

PHEWF a beast of a post - I tried to give everyone something to reply to! <3 Feel free to assume that your character has taken up the medallion and is passing it around!

For the sake of a smooth round no need to follow posting order ! If you are a malcrin who hasn't joined you may still do so :)

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