For Family Near and Dear

For Family Near and Dear
Summary: What starts as a quiet breakfast between Tylon and Paule becomes a full-blown family discussion.
Date: 1 June 2013
Related: None
Players:
Paule Tylon Katarina Coriaria 

Temple Chambers - Laketown
Slightly vaulted ceilings continue into the common room of the Temple of Four. The common room begins the area of the Temple that serves as living quarters for the Covenant and Chosen of the Four. Before the hearth that usually has a fire within it, a small collection of tables and benches for the residents of the temple to share meals, give and take lessons, or simply take a break from the day.

Along the far wall to the west are several alcoves that serve as kitchen and several panties. And to the east a doorway to a long hallway can be spotted. Off of the hallway are the individual quarters for the Priests and Priestess and their Chosen along with the group rooms for the orphans and Acolytes.

1 June 1329

Nineteen years. It's hard to believe that friendships last so long, but they do. Especially when it is between a former Baron-in-exile and the woman that midwifed his first two children. When they met, Tylon was just a twelve summer old acolyte that had been sent to Westmark to assist with the wounded. Little did she know she would be assisting the young Baron and Baroness in delivering their twins and heir to Westmark. Back in that time, a good meal was venison that had not burned, a few fresh grapes from a vineyard and fresh water.

Now, a much better spread has been brought into the kitchen. Taking one of the few advantages that he has to being a Baron, Paule had sent an order to the local inn to deliver a full spread for his family and the Mother Superior and her Chosen, but at the moment, the Baron sits alone, several parchments out as he writes his own missives, his expression still pensive.

Time had changed them both in different ways but friendship had lasted. Certainly back then more of the fire that existed had been seen, before the calm of Stilltha had so fully claimed her and given her guidence in that conflict of where she best belonged, was needed in the Temple. The bit of calm back then mixed with fire had certainly helped the young acolyte nagivate her way in the chaos to assist the Westmark when sent to aid. Field training in the extreme.

A smile flitted to her generally calm expression to see the spread that had been brought, no doubt Father Byron was already trying to figure out how to replicate some part of it…with his own changes, of course. It did pay as well to stay at the Temple, it not an expected move, the inn was certainly more plush. But at the Temple, one automatically got the added security of the Chosen. Spying the pensive Baron working away, Tylon drifts in that direction a light clearing of her throat should he actually be caught up in a thought and not his usual jumpy self…doubtful. "Good morning, I do see it is as it has always been, never truly time to rest."

"Good morning, Mother Superior." Paule offers as the baron glances up. Perhaps he knew all along she was approaching. He always seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to his space, always knowing when there was danger and when he could relax - which was rare. "Please join me? Kat and the children are not awake yet, so I would appreciate some company." he suggests.

He rises for a moment to greet her properly, and then settles back into his seat. "And we can also talk about the persons that are threatening my dear friend's life and what we can do as not just the Baron but as your friend to quell such a threat. I know that you have your Chosen as guardians, but assassins.. require more.." he tries to find a good word, waving his hand for a moment and decides.

"Finesse."

It is just always a good idea not to sneak up on someone, it just tends to not turn out well. Especially with this one. "Of course," comes Tylon's answer before she moves to take the seat across from him. "I hope the rooms were suitable enough for you? I know, it is not the comforts of a cloak thrown over stones and branches, a bit of bog seeping up through, but we do try to make due with what we have," throwing a light tease in there knowing far well what life was once like, sleep being stolen in what ever moments and conditions in which it could be. Back when there was more fire to bee seen in her, before Sithlla's calm claimed her.

Giving a respectful bow of her head when he stands to greet her properly, settilng herself with a hand deftly smoothing out her robes. "Ah, yes…that…them. The threat that is quelled often by a bloodied nose and yet never truly gone." There is a pause, a hesitation, for truly such inquiries from 'outsiders' are usually brushed along with vague answers and redirection. A matter for the Temple to handle, but he was not the normal 'outsider' either. "A combination is perhaps the better approach in the end. For while you have finesse, the Chosen know our advisary more truly. For they do come always return in some form and the chaos that seems to be brewing has given them courage and opening."

As she settles down, Paule looks amused for a moment. "If I recall right, a young acolyte got more than one look as she complained about such warm and cozy comforts, coupled with the cries of a pair of newborn babies." he says with a slight grin as he considers for a moment. And then when he speaks again, his words are simple and direct.

"Sometimes, it takes more than a bloodied nose. Sometimes, it takes a slit throat to make a point. While the Barony of course cannot interfere directly with the Temple since it would be seen as a mistrust of your neutrality.." he says, his tone turning thoughtful for a moment as he picks up some cheese to chew on.

"The two children you helped bring into the world have been restless as of late and wanting to stretch their wings. I have allowed more leeway with Castor, as he was raised by my wife's brother. But perhaps, with me and Katarina still being healthy and hale, I should allow my children the opprotunities I was not afforded as a youth. To have had to marry at a young age after losing my parents. To have had to had children soon after. To have had to fight what seemed to be a never-ending war. These are not what my children have to face and it is because of my wife and I that they do not." Paule says quietly.

"I have considering setting them free for a while. No allowance and ties. To let them serve in the land, to learn what it is to have dirt under their nails. Yes, they have trained with us and trained hard and well.. but I still feel they need to know more. And perhaps for them to remain and assist you and your Chosen with this investigation would be a good first step. After all, you brought them into the world.. perhaps a month in your service would do them well."

The corners of her lips flicker into one of her calm smiles,"Come now, there were not that mainy complains, and for those that came, surely she was not blamed to greatly. Afterall, it was not exactly the level of frield training most were sent upon. " Even if drawing looks with the complaints of a youth, Tylon had proven useful, and not just in delivering babies. And has only become more skilled over the passage of time as the Guardians have willed.

Knowwing in agreement,"I would agre, however, this is not a threat that is ever trully quelshed. They are not the normal sort of enemey faced in war, open or otherwise. And it helps not that they woudl take their own lives rather than live long enough for that slit throat to occur." There is after all a reason why the Temple does not speak so openly about their 'battles'.

Fingers lightly turning over a grape that was taken up as Tylon listens on through the thoughts and ideas Paule would have about the children. "The Guardians have a way of making sure we are melded into what they need of us, and often it is not a pleasant journey, but we are stronger for it in the end." Smiling a little,"From what little I witnessed of them last eve, they do seem to yearn to be let free, thinking themselves ready to run as they wish. To set them lose without allowance and ties would alone bring about an awakening for them, I beleive. Such…comforts are all to often taken for granted by the young, even here, what little we can offer our children," mear scraps in comparision to what the twins would get,"comes to be expected. It would be welcome time to spend with them, and I have no doubt there is much that they could have chance to learn here. But are you certain you would wish to consider this now?"

"My father said that the secret to parenting is to give our children their freedom while they still think it's ours to give, not theirs to take," comes Katarina's words as she lingers just in the entryway. "He said that if he'd held me and my brother back, kept us close, denied us our choices, we'd have hated him, resented him. So he gave us our choices, our freedom, when we were still young enough to think that it was his to give or take as he saw fit. He said," and she moves now into the room, "that it was the hardest thing he did, as a parent, letting us go. Letting us decide for ourselves." She inclines her head in a respectful tilt to Tylon, genuine warmth and affection included in that simple gesture, "Mother superior," she murmurs as well, a touch of a smile on her face as she reaches where Paule is and tucks one hand gently into his. "They have wings, my love, if we try to keep them from using those wings, keep them from soaring or crashing, they will hate us for it. we cannot cripple them by keeping them safe, keeping them close, protecting them, any longer. They will strain until they break. We must give them their freedom, let them come to US. We simply must trust them with those that we trust to keep a weather eye upon them, not coddle them as delicate children. Which they are not, any longer. We were wed, bed and parents by their age, were we not?" she reminds and gives him a subtly arch look. "Do you regret? Do you wish we had found another way? another path?"

"I was six when the Corsairs arrived on Westmark's shores." Paule says thoughtfully as he picks at some cheese and chews on it. "When I was smaller, I remember the plush life of my childhood. I did not want for friends - either by coin or power - and I thought that I was going to have a party. That it was a naval parade and I was excited. I had asked my father if I could wear my naval colors. And then my father told me the truth. That they weren't here to celebrate, that they were in Westmark to ruin.. and I remember the sound of the trebuchets firing. The flames and the cries as your army went to meet the Corsairs at the shore. How easily we were overrun and had to retreat." he starts to say, when Paule hears his wife, and his hand easily closes with hers and his fingers lace with hers. "I regret nothing of our life together, Katarina Westmark." he says firmly and with more than a hint of pride in his voice for her.

"And yes, we were just discussing that. By their age, we had no choice but to fly. To not do so was to invite death. And when they were old enough, we had to send one away and keep one with us. To prove we were not fleeing. I do not regret any choice, any path I have made. And if we had not stopped at three children, I would not have regretted that either." he comments. "I understand what you are saying, Mother Superior. It is a trying time.." he starts to say, then pauses to snack on some more cheese and offers it to Katarina.

"But is it any different than the way we raised them? In battle and blood? Yes, there is a threat of war - but our children are warborn and raised. I have no doubts that they can handle themselves, and perhaps, as Katarina suggests, it is time that I show my trust in our raising of them. But they also need to remember to be humble and not feel they are above those they are destined to rule, especially Coriaria." he comments finally. "That is why I suggested that we let them stay here and assist Tylon and her Chosen with the investigation into these assassins. What are your thoughts on this, my love?"

"I think that this is the ideal time to give them their freedom," Katarina says as she gives Paule's hand a gentle squeeze in return. "If," and she turns to smile at Tylon, "the Mother Superior and her chosen wouldn't mind their assistance, company and not exactly expert help at this time?" she wonders.

As memories are brought up, the contrast as a childhood came quickly to an end, of the words of father's, their advise given, Tylon simple listens. It is not an experience she can speak to, never knowing her father..or even who he could have been. But then there is Katarina to which to give a respectful bow of her head,"Baroness, I hope you were able to rest well enough?"

The grape is slide into Tylon's mouth, a easy distraction to bring further silence as there is that marital banter, point and counter point. They are not her children after all. And sometimes it is just best to remain quiet and listen rather then seemingly take a side, accidently so. "The battle we fight is one without end, it is not a battle for land or power. It is for souls and the world itself, they wish to unmake it, we wish to prevent that. It is a battle of a different purpose. And perhaps it would be a good lesson for them to see. The assassins are driven by their faith." Got to love the crazy zealots. Really you do. "We would not mind to have them, though as you both noted, it is perhaps best to offer them the choice to come and spend the time here, so they do not feel as if it is focred upon them. There are things that can be learned, even without allowing them to go to deeply into this matter." Least whee it might make them targets instead of the Temple Chosen and Priests.

"Faith, as you know, Mother Superior, is a dangerous weapon. It was the faith of the barony in their young leaders that kept us alive in those darkest days of the Siege." Paule says simply and firmly. "Faith, in the wrong hands, can lead to zealotry and war, as it could with these men that are plaguing you so. I agree, they should have the choice if they wish to stay and assist you or to return with me and Katarina to Westmark. However, regardless of their choice, I do believe it is time that they are allowed to spread their own wings."

He considers for a moment, then shakes his head. "Though, as a Lord and Lady of the Barony, they will have to be assigned a guard." the Baron finally adds, a condition of their release finally made. "I know that it goes against the whole idea of letting them be on their own, but with the crown willingly allowing northerners to traverse in our lands with their armies, a single Baronet or Lord of Westmark would be too tempting a target." he says with a decided frown. And with that in mind, he finally circles around.

"The Temple in Westmark, the one the Corsairs destroyed, is nearing completion." Paule comments. "We would be honored if the woman that stood with us in our darkest days and now the Mother Superior of the Temple would come out to celebrate it's opening and dedication?" he asks Tylon directly. "We will provide you with additional protection, of course." And woe be to any assassins that take a shot at Tylon while in Westmark lands.

"Yes, it can be. Faith can be many things, both good and bad. It is faith that gets us though many of the darkest days, even if it is only faith in oneself. " There is a thin smile and briefly does the clamness of Tylon's eyes fade, as she notes far to calmly,"It is not a could in what is face, the attackers, those who drive them are zealots, Baron. Their faith is purely in the Fifth and every breathe they take is used to fulfill what they think are his desires and wishes. " A small breathe is let in and out and that calmness is restored to her green eyes. Surely to be forgiven by the Guardians for faltering given the topic.

"Having a guard, is far different than having a parent watching over them yet," points out Tylon. Going on to note,"Even when we travel, we go with a Chosen if we are going any distance, and we are certainly not near so important." Least in the eyes of most noblity. The request does bring a slow blink, but Tylon does nod,"I am honored that you think to ask me, and could never turn down such a request, especially from you. I will come to celebrate it and all that you have achieved in these years."

As Tylon lets it slip who the assassins are Paule offers a faint smile, filing the information away for later. "Such a dangerous thing to be wielded, especially by those that wish to sow chaos in the world." he says finally as he considers Tylon's advice on parents or guards. "I suppose you are correct in your observation, Tylon. After all, the idea that the guard is only an extension the eyes of the parents will fade in time, especially if it is a guard that they choose for their own." the Baron offers, before he lifts some meat and folds it into bread to enjoy.

Katarina, Tylon and Paule are sitting at one of the common tables, enjoying a meal from the Inn as they discuss numerous topics. "And I could not think of anyone better I would want to have come dedicate the reopening of the Temple in Westmark, Tylon. As I said, our family owes you a debt that we cannot repay. After Katarina went breach in the field, you were there to help pull the twins out, and without you, we would not have a headstrong son and daughter to speak of and consider letting them go out on their own, even if it is to assist you in both the investigation and help with escorting you to Westmark and the Temple."

Katarina steps away long enough to acquire a cup of tea to settle her stomach, bringing with her a tea pot with more of the same herbal tea that she favors, spare cups as well as she seats herself again.

"And it is what they wield most often, it is what drives them and keeps them going and so clouds their vision, but anything allowed to such excess can do much the same. " There were a few amongs thte regular Temple order who might seem over the deep end in regards to their dedication to the Guardian they serve. "I would think especially if it is a guard they have chosen for their own," Tylon gives a slight smile,"much as with our Acolytes, when they get to select and ask a Chosen of their own choosing to escort them, to them it is more a friend who goes with them. NOt someone who is simply a hinderance, along only to watch and report upon them."

Tylon shakes her head a little,"I was only where the Guardians guided me to be. There is no debt to be repayed, I only did as I could and am simply glad that I was there to help and eliver you those headstrong children."

"What's the difference between faith and zealotry, though?" Paule starts to ask as his wife returns and eyes her choice of tea, and his brow arches. She hasn't used tea to calm her stomach since… a while. "Katarina, perhaps we should rest here for a few days before we travel on? You seemed rather unwell last night. Did you partake of any of the local drinks while we were in Wolveshire?" he asks, his mind immediately running through the options as he watches Katarina settle down.

Tylon gets a nod of the Baron's head. "Aye. And they do have the right to choose their own protectors. Though I should have a hand in the choosing of Coriaria's, to ensure that she has the best possible protection possible." he finally says as he finishes eating his portion of his meal and glances towards Katarina again, concern creasing his features. "You were there by the will of the Guardians, and as such, I'm hoping it is their will that you travelled to our lands once again."

Katarina curls both hands around the cup of tea she's holding and gives Paule a small smile, "I like this tea," she reminds her husband, her remark a trifle obscure. "And we can't linger to long, we need to see to the placement of our men and the safety of our people before things spiral out of control." She eyes the remains of the food on Paule's plate, nose wrinkling a little at the thought of food right away - tea first, food later.

"There is a fine line between them in truth, just as there is that fine line between revenge and justice. It is the difference between beliving in something, finding strength in it and allowing it to blind one." Not a full answer, exactly, but does one really want an hour long 'lecture' from Tylon on the topic? Offering up,"You are welcome to linger as long as you wish to remain. " Though Tylon does not comment on the beverages or food options in Wolveshire, she's had to travel there are to frequently of late.

"I would wish to be there, and surely it will be their wish as well, especially given the reason for the celebration. And I would enjoy to see how much everything else has also changed since I was last there," no doubt to be a vastly different place in so many ways since Tylon was last up that way.

When Katarina goes obscure, Paule can only arch his brow at the thoughts that she may have spurred into existance, and there's a faint color in the baron's cheeks as he turns his attentions back to Tylon. "Katarina is right, of course. We should continue on, but I also believe that since we are here where things are supposed to be neutral, I feel more comfortable with the idea of allowing the children to set off on their own." he finally relents, the comments from Katarina and Tylon convincing the baron to soften the iron grip on the kids he has.

"We.." Yes, Katarina, you're part of the we, "..will ask them if they wish to stay here or continue with us into Westmark. Either way.." he says as he looks towards Katarina again and folds his hands on the table. "I believe that if we are to let them do this on their own, as they seem so wanting to do, we let them do it with no funding from us except to provide for their guards."

Katarina isn't the only one who feels a little ill today. After her antics of the night before, suitably chastened by her own conscience, Cricket prays that her parents haven't gotten wind of anything. Not the offers of money, nor the awkward demands made of Alyona to act as go-between. '/Alyona/' she thinks darkly for a moment, feeling an impulse of violence should the Chosen have — oh, but no. She certainly hadn't struck Cricket as the sort of person to be loose-lipped or indiscreet. Forcing herself to relax, the teenager supposes that she's dawdled long enough on the periphery. It's time to go be /social/. "Do what on our own?" she inquires innocently enough, a respectful nod given to both her parents and the Mother Superior, "Are Cas and I being turned loose upon the countryside? I fear the countryside won't know what happened."

"Belief is a dangerous thing, mother superior, dangerous and powerful," Katarina interjects after she takes another sip from the cup of tea she's holding. "Belief can make us fight to our feet, again and again, regardless of the odds, regardless of what the cost is to ourselves, all for the greater good. But that same thing, as you said, is equally dangerous, it can be blinding. I respect the Guardians, but blind faith isn't something I"m capable of. I believe in my family, in our people, in the realm, in that order." She feels a smile form on her face, all the same, "But dedicating the temple is something that our people will find great comfort in, and it's important to meet that need, mother superior, even if I'm not the most devout of people."

A sidelong glance is shared, again, with Paule, sees the look on his face, the faint touch of color, and a small gleam of amusement enters her eyes even as the topic remains somber. "Free will," she says quietly, "it's not just a phrase, it's not just something that we talk about. We've fought, most of our lives, to keep our lands free, our people free, our family free. What was it all for, if our children don't have the same freedom that we've spent blood and sweat and lost countless lives for?" she asks of her husband, her words softly voiced before her eyes lift to spot their daughter standing the entryway. A fond smile forms on her face at the sight of Cricket, "I trust you won't set everything on fire and run around with your face and hair slicked with mud like some sort of barbarian?"

"It is without a doubt we have our own troubles, as any town would, but remaining neutral is a thing that has been managed well enough and is respected by many. Such a place is needed for many reasons, and so it does remain so," come the calm words from Tylon. Oh….but Alyona and Tylon are two peas in a pod, they tell each other everything! Even if Alyona is othrwise really quite discrete, there are many a reason she is Alyona the Silent afterall.

Cricket is offered a calm and warming smile by Tylon, talk of zealots simply left to fade off for the tim ebeing. "Good Day…and it does seem a conversation is in order with your parents on that particular matter, a popular topic of late I am guessing." Gently moving to get up, only a faint wince, there are unseen injuries as well it would seem. But then she is no Chosen and fighting off people…well it tends to not go well. "I should leave you all to it and see about some changes in dressings, if you would excuse me."

"As you will, Mother Superior." Paule says as he rises to his feet and tilts his head respectfully, before his attention drifts towards his eldest child. "Aye." the Baron offers gesturing to their meal. "Join us, Cricket." he comments, as he presents a mug to Katarina to be filled with tea. "It has been brought to my attention that you and your brother no longer wish to be underneath my custody constantly."

"Be well, Mother superior," Katarina offers with another of those respectful nods to Tylon as she pours tea into the mug that Paule presents to her. "Custody isn't the word, perhaps we should use the phrase 'keeping', as you feel that we are keeping you from doing the things that you wish, both you and Castor."

"My Lord?" She can't help but frown in her customary fashion as she seats herself, forgetting the many times that her mother has told her /not/ to make that furrow on her forehead any worse. "I assure you, my brother and I are grateful for the protection you and our Lady mother offer us. If we have been childish, I would like to apologize." She feels guilty now, knowing she and her brother have been caught at behaving like brats for the past week. Cricket's natural sense of shame brings a stinging sensation to her cheeks, though fortunately she doesn't blush. It would elicit displeasure from her father especially. "Perhaps Castor and I should spend some time here in the Temple, to reflect on our good fortune and practice a little humility."

"It was my suggestion.." Paule begins, perhaps sensing his daughter's discomfort at being caught acting the way she is, he takes a sip of his tea. "With the recent attempts on the Mother Superior's life, that the two of you could remain here as part of the Temple and assist the Chosen and Tylon with the investigation into those that wish to take her life." he offers, giving Coriaria the option for the moment.

Katarina makes a small sound that is most decidedly a snort of amusement. "You and your brother are as suited to a life of reflection and devotion as you are suited to sprout wings and fly to the moon," comes her words once she's done laughing. "Humility does not suit you, daughter, don't do it anymore. It's like a.. badly tailored gown in colors that you should never be caught wearing, no matter the emergency. Speak honestly, but remember tact, it will suit you much better."

"Yes, Madam. It /was/ an honest sentiment, though." She's being truthful — after all, she knows when she's being disingenuous, and this isn't it — but she understands that her mother may not see it this way. "I will try to be mindful of your admonishment. As for the Baron's suggestion, I welcome the idea. My brother and I have, after all, been raised to read the minutiae of a scene and know how to discern the truth, though it may be couched in a dozen different lies. Whoever planned these crimes against the Mother Superior will pay with his or her life." She means this, as well. Cricket knows better than to lie to her parents; moreover, she has no desire to, certainly not where Tylon's safety is concerned. "I… I overheard the mention of cutting back on costs earlier. It pains me to hear that Castor and I are such an expense. I assure you, we can take care of ourselves and need no guards to look after us."

"By expense, daughter, he means the cost of refilling your coin purses every time you run low," Katarina says quietly. "You, your brother and sister, are not the kind of 'expense' that you read into the word. We are discussing teaching the two of you a sterner measure of fiscal conservatism, the understanding that the coin you have is all the coin that you have until you turn it into more."

"When we were at your age, Coriaria, we did not have the ability to tap into our treasury for funds." Paule says simply, his head giving a nod to Katarina. "And we will not leave you without guards, especially in light of the recent events of the Rhadean crown freely allowing the Taniford army free roam within their lands. I do not believe this a good course of action, and as Westmark has no part of this current plot, I believe it best we leave the borders closed and protected." he says simply and firmly. "And we both agree that it might be best, since you have seem to have lost touch with your brother on the idea of remaining in touch with the people you will one day rule that you spend time with them. And that your guard will remain a part of that life."

Now she /does/ color. The only reason she ever requests an allowance is so that she might cover Castor's debts, but she can't very well /tell/ her parents this, or they're going to be more than a little cross with her, and so she bears the indignity of their thinking her a spendthrift. She herself is of the resourceful, flinty sort, capable of mending her own things and quick to run the numbers in her head of what assorted neccessities will cost. That she knows how to drive a hard bargain is a point of pride and a measure of how well her parents have brought her up. "I see," Cricket replies in a measured, neutral tone. "You are right, of course. Spending time with the people and understanding their concerns is something I should do regularly. I have much to learn about how our lands are governed — the sooner I remember my lessons, the better. I promise I won't let you down."

"You can't shelter Castor forever, Cricket," Katarina says gently. "You cover for him, you protect him, he's going to think he's entitled to it, think that he has every right to fall back on you and that you'll pick up the pieces and cover for him, when ever he needs it. You," and she reaches her spare hand to curl within Paule's, their linked hands out of sight beneath the edge of the table, "cannot protect him from himself. Cannot. Should not. The only way to stand on your own, Cricket, is to stand when no one else can support you. He has to learn the same thing."

As Katarina brings up the crux of the matter, Paule's expression narrows. "Even in front of the parents, he acts as though he is entitled to his life. I realize, Cricket." he says as he feels his wife's comforting touch. "That we were not the best parents. We were young. We had no experience to draw off of. You were raised in a siege. Your brother and sister were sent away." he says with a deep breath. As he looks down at the table for a moment, the Baron considers. "It was always our hope that you would learn, being with us, that we rely on the people as they rely on us. And it seems that in the last few years.. that has been lost on you as we have had the chance to return to a form of normalcy - at least what passes as normal now." The Baron's expression speaks volumes.. disappointment.

"We want you all to have the lives that your mother and I weren't allowed. We do not regret the lives we lived. We raised three children we love. We love our people and our land and would do anything to protect and provide for them." he says with a breath as he looks towards Coriaria finally. "You have not failed me, Cricket. Instead, it is I that seems to have failed you. I know what you are capable of, and I do not allow you to have your full potential. I do not think you should be forced into a marriage or betrothal that you do not want to be ready for. I want you to have your life. To live what we could not have." he trails off and shakes his head again.

"I would ask that you not be so hard on him, Madam. I had the good fortune of being brought up by you. He did not." Castor is her one true weakness — she can't help but feel protective of him — her feelings of guilt over his childhood departure are deeply ingrained and lend her the boldness to stand up to her parents on her twin's behalf. Then, to Paule, "Sir, your point is well-taken. I will endeavor not to disappoint you any further. You may be assured that the only betrothal I desire is to our lands. I would also ask that you not be angry with my brother, for the same reason I have just given the Baroness. I benefitted from your instruction and care — and I intend to show you that those lessons have not been forgotten. Please be… patient with Castor."

Paule's free hand slams down on the table, an audible and sudden noise as the Baron actually rises from his chair. "Is that what you choose to believe? That we simply sent him away. Dismissed him as if he was your afterbirth?" his eyes lock down on his daughter's as Coriaria has invited her father's ire. "If it had been on us, you both would have been sent away, to be safe. There was not a day that did not go by that we did not feel regret that we seperated the two of you, or that you had to stay with us. We had to protect you, and raise you in the worst way possible, while your brother enjoyed relative safety and comfort amongst your mother's family!" he snaps as he seethes for a moment.

"I have tried to be patient with him for the last three years. He has instead taken advantage of his station, guilted his older sister into covering his debts, and feels that because he was treated so poorly that he is allowed what he wants. I wish we could have let you been as comfortable as he was, Coriaria Melusine Westmark." he says, driving that anger back down, trying to force it under control, as the Baron of Westmark falls into those calm shadows that demand so much of his life. "You had our care and instruction, he had the care and instruction of the Royal family." he points out pratically. "He did not suffer for anything, he did not have to learn as you had to to respect the land, to learn to survive no matter how much the world did not want you too! We raised you to be the ruler that Westmark needed. You can tell me how much you wish to be betrothed to the land, but we all already are and I expect you to carry out your duties when your mother and I have passed on!"

"As far as Castor goes…" the Baron's ire rises again. "I will have words with my son on his recent behavior and attitude towards his family. He has become a spoiled vile child that needs to be placed back into control, or have a leather strap taken to his backside. He will learn his place and station, or by Guardians, he will be your brother in name only, Coriaria. I suggest you help me straighten him out, Cricket, because if I have to, none of us will enjoy the results!"

Katarina is, as ever, the perfect counter the perfect balance, the other side of the coin; when Paule is all heat, thunder and ire, she is the voice of calm, cool, deliberate.

"Your uncle spoiled him, Cricket, because he has no sons of his own, he lavished his attention upon Castor. He gave him everything, anything, the benefits of tutors and instructors, of wealth and excess, of lavish and luxury. He spent time in the royal court and with families of noble and seemingly-noble origins. While you," and she angles her head in a small tilt of a nod, "learned how to skulk, how to sneak, how to brew and compound, how to do the things that a child of ours needed to learn how to do to survive. You spent your childhood with us, with the children of our soldiers, our allies, so that they would know you, so that they would love you, so that they would trust you. You will lead them, some day, you and your children after you. WE," and she makes this soft emphasis, "do not betroth you to the son of any of our closest allies, we do not entertain the requests of some of the noble families who are closer to the throne, because we would not - will not - see you wed, bed and mother before you come into your own. Before you know who and what you are."

There is another of those small pauses, Katarina gathering her words, her thoughts, with obvious care. "Your brother will find himself betrothed to a lady of good breeding and education, of advantageous ties and connections - in short order - if he does not pull his head out of his ass and try to suck in a few mind clearing breaths of fresh air. failing this, he will find himself out of coin, out of clothing, out of contacts, and if you lend him so much as a skinny clipped coin, Cricket, you'll cripple him for the rest of his life. If that's what you want, however, a brother who will forever need YOU to rescue him, then say so now. We'll find him a bride within the fortnight and have him wed by the end of the season."

The tears stinging against the backs of her eyelids aren't something her parents will ever see. Cricket rubs at the bridge of her nose and draws in a steadying breath. She hasn't eaten in two days, her already small features appearing more pinched than usual. When she feels the danger of crying has passed, she opens her eyes again to look levelly at her parents with a blue-grey stare that would alarm most — it's her look of calculation and appraisal — and raises her chin by the barest fraction before dipping her head once to concede defeat. "You have both stated your points most eloquently," she replies, "And I can see that I have made an error of judgment where my brother is concerned. I'll speak with him on the matters you've brought up. You are right, as always. I don't wish him to come to harm all because I have some foolish sentimental streak where he's concerned. You did the very best for him and I have no business thinking otherwise. I beg your pardon." She can take herself down a few notches with the best of them, especially now that she's felt the brunt of her parents' displeasure. Her gaze moves to the dark grey material of her dress, the plain and sturdy outfit one that she favors above all others. It's evidence of her thrifty nature, having been cut down from a much nicer piece of her mother's that was well beyond repair, assembled by her own hand with neat, even stitches. She rarely wears anything else, finding clothing expenditures to be wasteful. "I won't lend him any money. Of course, now that our allowances are being curtailed, I couldn't even if I wanted to… though I assure you I no longer want to." Gods forbid that she be the reason her twin is made to marry someone against his will! "I will do my utmost to be the daughter that you deserve."

With Katarina calming him, Paule lowers back into his seat, the Baron falling silent to brood again. His expression returns to his daughter, and the multitude of words he wishes he could say - to hold her close and comfort her, to sit next to her on the bed roll and tell her stories of the days before the siege, before she was born. The stories of draagons and heroic deeds and how life was better before the Corsairs came. And the stories of how he and Katarina met, how they fell in love. How they became so much more than just a couple forced together in a time of war, that they actually hold affections for each other. Stories that she has outgrown. Stories she knows are true. And now.. he can just sit, as his wife takes over being the diplomat of the two of them.

Katarina rises to her feet and takes Paule with her, "We'll leave you to your meal, Coriaria," using Cricket's more formal name as she and Paule have said what needs be said. "Do not think that we don't love you, because we do. It's time for you to start using that brain that the guardians gifted you with, and remembering that you are of no use to our people if you sell yourself short or make decisions out of kindness instead of love, kindness and necessity." She tugs Paule with her, the gesture subtle, as she leads him from the room, "About that tea," she is saying quietly, for his ears alone.

Paule eyes his wife as he is allowed to be led away to discuss exactly what that particular tea means.

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