[DND] [M] Across the thorny borders and into the haven
We drink and we sing in the ancestral land

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: boooooze.

OOC: Soul is fronting.

Egregore was glad that the Erilaz would arrive after he and his sister did. Niko had to be muzzled until they were outside of the kingdom's territory. He knew it was beyond her control when her bouts of insanity claimed its glory over her. He still had a duty to protect his Familia, even from his own House. Lyuba's accursed spirit still raged on inside Niko, so he had to be careful.

It was only when they arrived to Starhaven that Egregore dared unleash and unmuzzle Niko.

"<Do not embarrass me in front of the Erilaz. This is the Witch Queen's husband. Do you understand?>" He whispered to her in their mother tongue.

Egregore sat Niko down at a table with him and an empty, third chair. He ordered 'Something Strong and Fruity' from the bar for Niko. He snorted at the name in amusement. He then ordered a surprise drink for himself. It did not matter as long as it was alcoholic. Finally he paid for a higher quality mead for O'Riley. He may prefer his own drink, but Egregore thought it polite to buy him one first.

He returned to his sister to sit. He took the blunt that was tucked into his pocket and held it over a candle that burned at the table until its end burned blistering orange. He brought it back to nestle it between his lips. He puffed smoke over his beard and stroked the fur there in thought.

"<Remember your promise. He likes you, let's keep it that way."
Following their brief encounter with Kalypso Savoy and what turned out to be her sister, the two cousins finally made their way into the tavern.

It was larger than O'Riley expected, but he recognized the structure of the building for what it truly was. He had spent much of his time in ruins like these, exploring and later destroying. The church might have been beautiful once, but time and natural disasters had taken their toll. This trading company that had now set up shop in the area was not the first to do so – he recalled Mistfell Vale well enough to imagine that they too had once made use of this structure. That had been early in Elphaba's rule, though, when things had still been complicated.

Mistfell Vale had fallen apart the summer when the first earthquakes had struck. Portions of it had been absorbed by the fledgling Caledonian pack. A D'Angelo had been the last leader of the Vale, one who had once been a Salsolan. Perhaps if she and her siblings had not abandoned their homeland, they would have had the strength to withstand the tides.

It no longer mattered, he supposed. The weak perished under the weight of the world.

The tavern was mostly empty, but the Prizmovs were not difficult to spot. They certainly looked like kin, with their oversized hair and pale coats. In contrast, O'Riley and Igor – who despite calling themselves cousins were more removed than this – shared only their size and sturdy builds. Igor had far more weight than the Erilaz, however, and his big belly hung in full display of his gluttonous nature.

“Something smells good,” he said as they headed towards the bar.



O'Riley scoffed as they stopped at the counter. “Forget it.”

A tall man greeted them, and explained the options available. O'Riley interrupted him when he began to mention their room availability, citing that they had come to meet “friends”. He caught the glance their host sent in the direction of the Prizmovs, but did not comment on it. They traded for their chosen options – O'Riley ordered mead, which he paid for with a ring picked up from some unfortunate source, and Igor a foul smelling thing that the bartender suggested when the Russian asked for something strong. While the tawny Henchman stayed behind to order his meal, O'Riley went and joined his packmates.

“I brought my cousin along,” he announced, perhaps unnecessarily. “You haven't been here too long, have you? We got a little held up on our way in.”

I am FINALLY here!!
[+ 4]
Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people.
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OOC: Welcome to the party >:)

Niko argued with him as she was wont to do, but she eventually calmed somewhat. Sisters and brothers squabbled. It was their way. It appeared as fighting to outsiders, but the two Prizmovs understood it was just routine. Soul chose to believe directness was the best way to manage and resolve conflict.

Egregore and Niko were close. They had to be.

He restrained her from her destructive tendencies, and she reminded him there was more to life than the secular and the normative. They left behind their Chernbelov name in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but their reverence of Oddity persisted. It was crucial they not lose their individuality. They found their little ways to complement and counterbalance. That principle was what made one of Egregore’s own kin - Innokentiy - the perfect remaining half.

Mateship was far from the only bond of importance. Egregore’s connection to the rest of the thistle kingdom’s denizens and crown were also essential. That was why he stressed the importance of behavior to Niko that day. Not to control of punish her, but to help her grow in strength as he had.

The Erilaz and his own bloodkin swept into the tavern with mighty presence and heavy aura.

Niko and Egregore’s banter died off. His sister’s eyes caught his. Her eyes remained dark and sharp as ever, but her mouth would stay shut. For the most part. Probably.

O’Riley and Igor exchanged words of their own with one another. They brought their own drinks to the table, which was expected. Egregore slid the drink he bought for the Eternity man across the table.

”Oh, good. Ze morrre ze merrrierrr. I vould have a drrrink forrr you if I expected you, but ve arrre happy to see you as vell rrregarrrdless, Henchman.”

He nodded respectfully at each of them in turn.

”No, ve just arrrived. Even if so, I am a patient man.”

Good things came to those who waited.

”You did not find too much trrrouble, did you? <I hope not, outsiders can be very annoying.>” He made his joke in Russian and in a lower voice.

Egregore snorted mirthfully. Niko cackled quietly herself in a tittering laugh characteristic of the strange women of their clan. She was ever conservative with her English as always, but she still deferentially bowed her head low to the two of them in greeting. Egregore held his drink high as she did so.

"A toast. To ourrr strrrength and good health."

Her smile still on her face, Niko clinked her mug against her brother's.
With two drinks to choose from, O'Riley was able to better compare the offerings (which were of the same stock, he would later find out). To show he was not denying the gift, the Erilaz pulled the offered cup into his hand and allowed the other to sit. He watched as Igor pulled up a chair, but turned his head to listen to Egregore more directly.

Though not as tenured as some of la Familia, the Henchman had proven himself through deeds and more. He had brought and expanded his family. While time would determine if his offspring would rise to expectation, they were true Salsolans by birth. This alone made them valuable.

Niko's strange laughter was joined by the louder sound of Igor's. O'Riley smirked to show he understood the comment, but nothing more. He was still deciding to what extent these people needed to know his fluency. It seemed unlikely they would use a shared tongue to discuss anything discreet, especially with his cousin present, but O'Riley was a spy and had been for a very long time. Sometimes that meant keeping secrets from his allies.

The two men hoisted their own glasses and joined the toast.

ваше здоровье! Igor woofed.

Sláinte,” O'Riley echoed.

They took healthy shots of their drinks. O'Riley thought the mead was smooth enough considering it tasted young, but this wasn't a bad thing. Considering that Igor did in fact twist his face and slap the table in appreciation (threatening the safety of the other glass, which O'Riley hoisted away in time) it seemed his drink had tickled his fancy.

“Oh, that does burn,” he said with a satisfied look. “It will go good with the meat.”

Unable to help himself, O'Riley rolled his eyes. He leaned back in the chair. When traveling outside of the pack he went armed, and the handle of his sword became more visible with this motion. He had not felt it necessary to wear his full armor, however, and and indeed looked more ruffian than ruler at a glance. The leather kilt and sleeveless top he wore were of quality make though, dyed dark like the belt around his waist. A keen eye would recognize their value.

“No, no trouble at all,” O'Riley answered Egregore. “It's further than the other place was, but I suppose that can't be helped now.” La Estrella Roja had closed its doors, leaving behind only an empty building. The last time he had been in the area O'Riley had sniffed it out and found only the remnants of squatters and raccoons.

“<We ran into the woman who is in charge,>” Igor explained. “<She was in charge before, when these people were Caledonians, and she knows us. Probably thought we were here to rob her.>”

“<We did not steal,>” O'Riley interjected with a scowl. Though slower and obviously less fluent in the Russian's native tongue, he spoke it clearly (though with the same southern accent of his cousin). “<The debt needed to be paid>.”

When indicated, characters are speaking Russian.
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The Erilaz accepted Egregore’s gift, a gesture he took as a sign of continued good grace. His gratitude to the Eternity man took root the day O'Riley accepted Egregore into the fold as Eden’s ward. He led Egregore into battle soon after. Today, they sat together with each other’s bloodkin and shared in their camaraderie. He felt proud of his sister for her progress, as her good attendance in this . Her continued ability to exist outside without any issues popping up was another encouraging sign, much like the Erilaz’s acceptance of his gift.

The Mafiosi continued to smile on him and his House. Soul worked tirelessly to maintain that.

Niko seemed to sense the tension in her brother. He felt her tail brush up against his own during the toast. He released some pressure from the muscle in his shoulders.

”Is a good burrrn, yes?” Egregore chuckled.

Igor’s taste for fine debauchery was something they had in common, Soul supposed.

”No trouble, zen. Good, good.”

Egregore nodded. They had nothing to worry about in that area of interest, then. Igor mentioned the ‘woman in charge’ in so many words and her anxieties about their intentions. The corner of Egregore's lip quirked at that.

”<Ach, outsiders have no clue. Those once-was-Caledonians especially.>”

He rolled his eyes languidly.

”<The Erilaz is correct. No other outcome can be expected. Collecting payment was an inevitability.>”

Egregore sipped at his drink, words misty in his nonchalance.

”<Anyway, how are you and your family keeping Erilaz? My daughter mentioned spending time with your children recently.>”
For a good portion of his life, other people had agreed with O'Riley Eternity without question or argument. It had not always been this way – he had once been a young man, after all. The sword he carried had help win him his position, though this was another inevitability. He was always meant to rule.

Enduring the machinations of lesser people had become a necessary part of this. Authority did not alone breed loyalty. If that had been the case, the Mafiosi would not have endured all the trials which had tainted their time at Salsola's helm. La Familia was loyal, certainly, but powerful and ambitious people were prone to being swept up in their own trouble. When this spread, it threatened to infect the entirety of the Thistle Kingdom.

They were all snakes. O'Riley knew this all too well. Experience had taught him that there were very few people in the world he could trust.

He liked the Prizmovs well enough, but they were a young House growing in size and influence. Like his own children, and like the other members of the Shield had done, most of the elder litter Egregore had sired had been kept from the eye of the public. This could be done for any number of reasons: protection, privacy, shame. Though he did not think of that day much, O'Riley could recall the terrible sound Morgana Revlis had made when another Pentiti ripped her daughter's life from this plane.

Having children changed a man. The world began to look different. By binding them to Salsola, Egregore had shown that he intended to plant his foreign roots somewhere solid. Somewhere safe.

Igor chuckled and lapped at his drink, but like Niko, seemed to understand that the conversation did not need to include him.

“<Yes, we found her on the trail,>” he explained. “<There have been...beaver-rat,>” O'Riley tried, repeating the word Eris had used before scowling and clarifying himself in common. “Muskrats.” Though he knew the word was childish, his grasp of Russian was still not as fluent as he would have liked.

“<They are making nests along the river,>” he went on, switching back to the foreigners native tongue. “<She said she makes traps. I showed her where to go. The children got along. I would like her to visit them again.>” He had already told the girl as much. O'Riley didn't doubt that her father would see this as a boon, and did not expect complaints from him.

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Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people.
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