In Saj-graf, if you look past the fear of a vulnerable city, you may find opportunity. There are many on the cusp of changing their luck around. With only one decision they will choose their fate, though they may not know it on the day they make that choice. Whether it is to work for a new employer or assist a stranger that needs a hand off the ground. That moment they choose to follow someone or turn down a poorly wrapped gift can make all the difference. It is a dense tapestry of alliances and slights held together by threads each person chooses to weave or cut. The beauty of this would only be seen by few, of which a handful know how to walk the paths that connect the points.
Cerridwen viewed her map of the city looking for weaknesses to bring about its collapse. She looked at her possibilities, briefly considering taking out the Mayor. But the city did need the rally point he provided, without some hope chaos would reign and hinder further activity. The Prince was another possibility, but like Ertle she had uses for them to still exist. She laid out a list of the nobles, and one by one eliminated their roll through unfit or to be used in the future. Zahar from the Ardent Order was an option; he was troublesome and easily bought. But she was uncertain if she had the coin available to use him wisely.
Her pawn had lowered the defenses by damaging the monolith. But no one else in town seemed to understand within the walls was still safe. She laughed to herself thinking of all the people who put their faith in a pillar of beautiful stone and never gave thought to its mechanics. Yet she counted on this, her employer’s goal was the mountains and what slept within. The dormant winged beasts the Lady was after could be woken now. She knew her sister and Saj-graf had nothing to fear from them. The beasts were not to be seen when they left their slumber, another agent in the mountains was to release and guide them. The Lady was quite clear with Cerridwen’s objective, continue with confusion until I give you your final payment.
It was then the idea of Lord Gerard came to her. He did have a thing for her, but not as Cerridwen. He would move a large force out of the city if She gave him reason. That would panic the folk and keep travel to a minimum. All this would be fewer eyes to watch the creatures in flight when the time comes. Soon it would all be done
The sword song was the first lesson that Crevan had learned from his master and it was now what he tried to teach Kit. It was a rhythmic chant which accompanied movement of the sword. The key was to swing with the right exhales, not the one your opponent would expect. The nuance would take at least a year of daily practice before Kit could move to the next concept. In five years or so Kit would be able to move beyond a sword to other weapons or something in his off hand. Crevan had told him Kit his voice needed more work than anything else. Kit responded laughing saying he just needed a better song to sing.
A mandate from Alvin meant Crevan was free to start teaching at least three new pupils. This was an unexpected change since the king of Iseb had banned the school from teaching when Saj-graf had come under his domain. Yet with the monoliths protection gone, Alvin was willing to bring back the fighting style to protect the city and boost moral of his ward. In addition to the Forest Walker, Crevan had received an inept student named Zahar from the Ardent Order, and a young teenager by the name of Aryne. The other two pupils were not as eager as Kit to learn, and had not shown up today for their lesson. Aryne’s actions were slightly more excusable as his youth was as fault. Zahar would rely on the pressing needs of the Order as his excuse. It was a weak one as Crevan knew no such demands existed.
While going through the paces again, Crevan thought back to when he had been a teen. The Lyrical Legion had not been disbanded and the Saj-graf Marshal was more than just a spiritual seer. Volka’s master had had that privilege for only three years before Iseb had taken control. Iseb knew the spiritual leadership they provided was a strong symbol for Saj-graf. They toyed with destroying the Legion all together, but bid their time when the wounds of war were still fresh. In the end, only the position of Marshal was retained. Volka’s peers had been sent from the city to preserve the teachings. A few were still around and Crevan would need to find them to help build the ranks up again. Crevan only had some much knowledge and experience to pass on
Crevan smiled as he came back to the present. A young boy by the name of Groth trying to mimic the two of them. The lad was too young to take in as a proper soldier, but was now an aspiring apprentice under Crevan. It pleased Groth’s father to see him learn the old ways, and to have a strong interest in skills his ancestors had practiced. For now though Groth contented himself running errands and learning the laws of being in the Lyrical Legion. Crevan returned his focus to Kit.
“Again, and this time try not to butcher the refrain,” Crevan barked. He cleared his voice and started with Kit, “I strike when you make fit, but that is not where I hit”
Maeve sat and waited. She watched as a fly made its rounds of the room before making its way outside to freedom. She was not sure what she would say to Kadin. He had been out all day and Kaisu was going to be out for a bit longer. It would be a brief moment of just the two in the small house and it was now time to make her move. She closed her eyes to collect herself.
Doubt hid in the corners of her mind, festering a little when her thoughts stayed in its direction. It wanted to be played with, stoked and coaxed out of the shadows and to the forefront, but Maeve knew better. The doubt would be one more thing for her tongue to stumble over before asking Kadin what was on her mind. Yet she could not quite completely keep it our of everywhere.
Maeve had been in tougher, trickier situations before. She had talked her way out of being arrested while departing a house she had broken into. She had convinced a Lady that her husband was best off without her and to count herself lucky to have found this out in her youth. Maeve had held up in a closet for a day when an assassination had gone poorly, yet through ineptness of an entire house staff had managed to go undetected. Yet all this had not had personal, emotional baggage attached to it. She pondered if this was the right choice again.
Kadin came in, the noise of the door closing waking Maeve to the present. She stood up and walked over to him, welcoming him back. She paused taking I him in, analyzing everything about him form his tussled hair to the scars that ran across his arms. She was weighing this as the last moment to back down and do nothing. She looked at his face again and she could see he could tell something was up. Best to cut to the chase she thought.