The Black Dagger

The Black Dagger
Summary: Paule and Katarina introduce their youngest daughter to her birthright.
Date: 29 June 2013
Related: Westmark Family.
Players:
Paule Katarina Laurel Coriaria Bryony Amira Kameron Alek 

North - Training Grounds
The large, flat expanse of grass is carefully tended and kept short for both tournament-goers and training warriors alike. The field, doubling as a list, is surrounded by wooden bleachers for viewing the tournament activity. To the right of the field, permanent archery targets have been established at different distance intervals for the purpose of competition as well as training. On any given day, passersby are welcomed with the sight of Brivey's fighters practicing their craft.

A single wide dirt path leads to and from the main road.

29 June 1329

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Paule=marksmanship Vs Katarina=marksmanship
< Paule: Good Success Katarina: Great Success
< Net Result: Katarina wins - Marginal Victory

Hmm. Perhaps her parents don't /quite/ understand her priorities — but that's just as well — they're her parents, after all, and do have the right to tell her what her priorities /ought/ to be, at least for a few years yet. The girl wanders onto the training grounds and doesn't bother pretending she's excited to be there, though she remains polite enough not to whine or show marked displeasure, obediently approaching the Baron and Baroness and offering a respectful greeting, the curl of her upper lip the only movement betraying any contrariness. "Stabbing things — I see we're staying with the classics today," Cricket notes, "And Mother, you've landed quite the hit." That she would rather out-think than out-muscle her enemies is something known well to Katarina, at least.

"And you are getting better with time - as all things in Westmark do. Our wine, and definetly our women." A wink at Katarina as Paule sees that his knife strikes home - but again, it's Katarina with the kill shot. He considers for a moment as he moves to rub his eyes and allows them to refocus, a frown coming to his features. "And what would you perfer, dear Coriaria?" he asks as he moves to place a kiss on his daughter's cheek. "Speaking of things that only get better with age." Bryony's arrival gardners a smile. "Hello, Mistress Bryony. How is your training coming?" he asks as he gives a nod towards Kameron. "Sir Capiros."

Having greeted the other nobles, Sir Kameron turns to see the approaching Princess Amira. He smiles widely, tilting his head with his chin lowered just a bit as he watches her discerningly. His brow lifts as she nears. "Prince Jerric has granted me permission to toughen you up, Your Highness," he says coyly. "I'm glad you've come."

"I just honestly don't think that is a very respectable way to dress for the Festival of Ravas. Also, Papa will kill you." Laurel is the Baronet Westmark's little blonde shadow, though one with enough discretion to stop talking about her sister's fashion choices long before coming in earshot of their parents. Where Coriaria is contrary, Laurel is compliant and polite, even offering a little bob of a curtsey for her parents. "You called for us?"

Bryony gives the hosting noble family a curtsy as she nears them. "It progresses. Thank you for asking. Your healers are most generous with their time and training." The woman remains a few feet away, giving the family lots of clearance for their practice. "Of course, if there is anything at all that I can do for you, you have but to let me know…" Hazel eyes shift towards the Westmark daughters and she gives another brief curtsy, grinning at the youngest one.

When the new healer approaches the Westmarks, Amira watches the group a moment before looking back at Kameron. "Have you ever seen someone so adept at throwing a knife?" Unable to keep the awe from her voice, her lips quirk in a crooked smile, somewhat rueful. "He told you to train me?" Excitement hops into her eyes and she cannot contain it even a little. "Thank you for sending for me, I had hoped that I would be allowed." Noting the armor and the practice sword, she tips her head to the side, "I admit I am not so knowledgeable, but I am willing to learn."

Kameron laughs happily, nodding, "He did indeed grant me permission, Princess Amira." He glances at the other Westmarks, "She's quite good, yes." He returns his gaze to the Princess. "I um… I wasn't sure you had any training equipment. I took it upon myself to find training swords and a leather jerkin you can make use of until you can acquire your own." He lays the wooden swords on the ground, and then offers to help her with the jerkin. "You're going to be splendid at this, no worries, Princess."

As he hears his youngest daughter, Paule pulls Laurel into a tight hug for a moment, as he whispers something to the little fox. And then he stands up and hands her his bandolier of throwing blades. "Practice with your mother for a bit, Fox." he says with a wink at his Laurel. Another kiss is paid to Coriaria's cheek, and then a quick kiss to Katarina's mouth. The Baron of Shadows is known by most as a cold and caluclating man that may be an honorless cur - but there's no doubts that he loves his family. "I am going to tend to a few things. I will be back shortly."

Paule whispers: I want to talk to you alone. Later. We have.. business to discuss, Fox.

Katarina eyes the hilt of the knife embedded in the practice dummy, a mild nod of approval at her own marksmanship, before movement along the edge of the field draws her attention, one hand resting on one of those throwing blades in a move that is as casual and comfortable as drawing her next breath. Spotting, then recognizing, the healer, and then - in turn - the arrival of Sir Kameron, the princess Amira, her eldest and then youngest daughter, Katarina offers a series of greetings. "Healer Bryony, good eve to you, and to you as well, Sir Capiros, your highness," to Bryony, Kameron and Amira before she balances the next blade one more time in her fingertips and gives it another practiced flick of her wrist, eyes narrowed subtly to watch it fly . "You father says the nicest things when I'm throwing blades, does he not?" she teases gently, lifting one hand to brush a strand of hair back from Coriaria's face before stepping back and catching her youngest in a hug that - literally - sweeps Laurel off of her feet by a full inch before setting her back down. "Aye, that we did," she confirms with a nod before stepping aside to make room for Paule to make his own greeting to their daughters.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Paule=marksmanship Vs Katarina=marksmanship
< Paule: Success Katarina: Good Success
< Net Result: Katarina wins - Solid Victory

"I look forward to learning then!" Amira agrees, removing her cloak and tossing it over to the side for now only to look at him with the armor. Biting her lip, everything she does now, she is self conscious about and.. her brow furrows at the offer. What once she would have immediately agreed to, now it concerns her how it would be interpreted. Her worry shows on her face, but she nods hesitantly. The guards were there, the Westmarks as well. Surely it would be fine? "Thank you, Sir Kameron. I would be ever so grateful." As she is greeted by the Baroness, the youngest Rhaedan offers a smile. "Good eve, Baroness Westmark."

Bryony seems content off to one side of the training grounds, watching the various practices. Fingers brush over the pouches that hang from her belt, taking mental inventory as she eyes the knife throwing and watches the princess as well. Amusement finds the corners of her mouth but, for the moment, she simply stays out of the way.

The succession of fierce hugs breaks Laurel's ladylike reserve. It could never be said that the Westmark children were not well-loved, and the littlest one delights in the fact, even giggling a little when her bare toes dangle those inches off the ground. Her father's greeting is met with an equally bright smile, though it retreats quickly into a flicker of concern and the serious mein that is more her wont. "Aye, Papa." She eyes the bandolier cautiously before slipping it on and adjusting it. Perhaps the concern is simply at being bid to compete against her mother, certainly not an easy task.

Kameron is very respectful concerning helping her into the jerkin. He only helps as much as she needs, and no more, as if he, too, is aware of remaining proper. "You'll want to make sure you get all the fasteners and ties tight and clasped. I won't mislead you, Your Highness, the leather will keep you from being hurt, but you may bruise slightly and you definitely will feel the hits." Then he gives her a reassuring smile, "We won't do very much, today, and I won't be putting much effort into my part. This is mostly for precaution."

"Go as easy on her as I did on you, beloved." Paule winks at Katarina as he makes his way from the training grounds. Which really means - not easy at all. Poor Laurel.

Katarina slows Paule's departure by brushing one hand against the side of his face, speaking quietly, before she steps back and casually links on arm with one of Laurel's. "Easy? A Westmark going easy, on anything, at any time, ever? Nonsense," she remarks with a broad grin.

Assisting him in fastening the armor, Amira does fasten the different clasps and ties where needed. "I will not mislead you as well. I have had some practice with the sword, yet I am no where near as good with it as I am my bow. I do not mind the bruises, I have had them from the recent combat we had before against.. Kerilyn and the southern prince. If you would like, we could try for a real spar and see where I am lacking in that way?"

Spying the number of known people about the training area has Alek's steps slowing up a bit as he enters into the training area that does seem to have been a popular gathering place at this particular time. A hand sweeps back his dark blonde hair as his eyes drift between the folk. Though in the end, his steps draw him easiest to the person yet lingering near the sidelines of the various sessions in progress. "Good day, Mistress Byrony. It is a pleasure again to see you, even if unexpected to come across you here." The Knight giving a faint bow of his head to the woman. "Though it would make sense, part of your duties with the new position, I assume?"

Bryony lifts her gaze as she is approached and greeted. The smile widens at the familiar figure. "Sir Alek, good day to you as well." The woman gives a small shake of her head as she chuckles. "Actually, I am taking a break. I still have a great deal to learn and the healers here have been quite thorough. Tilting her head towards the field, she arches an eyebrow. "What will you be practicing with today?"

Kameron laughs, "We can do that if you like, certainly," he says, licking the corner of his lip in a subtle way that seems to be him very much liking that idea. He picks up the two wooden training swords, handing one to the Princess. "These are very fine made trainers. They're well balanced." He takes his own, and he spins it around, doing a few fancy twirls with it to loosen up a bit. "If you've had a bit of practice, then I'll spare you the lecture on how to hold and handle a blade." He smiles, and he lifts his wooden sword, to begin, but then notices Sir Alek. His brow furrows just slightly, as he stares for a moment.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Laurel=marksmanship Vs Katarina=marksmanship
< Laurel: Good Success Katarina: Great Success
< Net Result: Katarina wins - Solid Victory

The other activity in the practice field gets a level sweep of Laurel's attention, but when that last exchange between her parents hits her ears, she turns up to her mother with a crinkled nose. "You /wouldn't/, would you, Mama?" She sniffs softly, and lowers her voice so that it doesn't carry. "I wouldn't let you." It was all well and good for everyone else to underestimate her, but not her parents.

One throwing knife is drawn, hefted, and measured lightly in her slender hands before, quick as a hummingbird, it darts to the target. It hits solidly in the center of the stomach, which strangely causes the girl's nose to crinkle again, less than pleased, as she steps away.

When he agrees, Amira smiles in delight. Challenges were something she liked to try and overcome, and she never easily gave up. Accepting the sword when he offers, she nods as she tests the weight of it in her hand. "Thank you." Watching as he twirls his around, she does not attempt to mirror the moves, not wanting to make a fool out of herself. Though when he looks away, she also looks in that direction, nodding to both Bryony and Alek before glancing at the knife throwing Westmarks, then settling her gaze on Kameron. "I am ready when you are, sir."

"I can only imagine what mus be learned as a healer, I am sure you are doing quite well and will learn what they have to teach," Alek giving the healer one of his charming smiles with the assurance. His ice blue eyes turn back towards the training field and the various groups already in progress. "I had come to go over some of my sword work, I try to fit in some practice each day. I find it helps to keep my muscles loosened and some days it is a bit of a comfort and a way to work out things that weigh upon my mind." The Knight giving a practiced bow in the direction of the Princess when he notes her gaze in that direction.

Katarina observes the in-progress opening moves of Sir Kameron to being training the Rhaedan princess - or so it would appear that this is Kameron's intent, and from the progress forward it would appear that Katarina's first assessment is correct, "Remember to watch his feet," she offers with a smile to Amira. "The feet will tell you his intentions. to attack or retreat, the shift of weight will give you more clues. And above all.. remember that your enemy - be they practice or real - can lie with their body as well as with their words, your highness," she offers to Amira before spotting the arrival of Sir Alek and gives the young knight a smile of greeting before turning back to her youngest.

Kat shakes her head, "No, I wouldn't," she confirms. "You don't need to be coddled, and I won't abide it being done to you, for any reason," she adds with a wry glimpse of a smile as she watches the thrown knife hit the target square on. "Good. Aim for the center of body mass with your first blade," said, while still nodding - pleased. "Get off a shot fast, this distracts your target long enough to make the second or third be spectacular if you're doing it for some dramatic flair. Dead, however, is dead. Down? well, that allows you to interrogate your target, should you have questions that need answers." She nods toward the target again, "Take aim again and see about hitting in the same region, successive attacks can be very.. distracting to your target. And while you're thinking on targets," a mild look of amusement gleams in her eyes, "how do you feel about fire, as a weapon?"

Kameron seems distracted when Amira tells him she's ready. "Hmm…?" he offers. Then Alek is looking right at them, and he clears his throat, quickly looking away and back at Amira, "I'm sorry. You were, um…" He glances at Alek once more, then back at Amira, then to his boots, shuffling a little. "Okay." He collects himself, and lifts his sword once more. "When you're ready, Princess." He smiles, "And watching the feet is great advice," he acknowledges, glancing at Katarina and back to Amira.

Bryony dips her head in acceptance of his encouragement, her gaze following his to the princess and her trainer. His last penetrates her own thoughts and she looks to him once more, forehead creased slightly. "What does weigh upon your mind, Sir Alek?" she inquires, her head canting to one side as she looks up at him.

<FS3> Laurel rolls Marksmanship: Success.

When Alek bows, the Rhaedan princess offers a nod and friendly smile in return, but her attention is quickly captured. At the instructions, Amira looks over to the Baroness and listens intently, committing the words of wisdom to memory. Her own mother certainly was not the type leave the palace to train her daughter in the arts of defense, and she gives Laurel a slightly wistful smile, before nodding to the Baroness with a smile. At the mention of the enemy lying with actions and words both, there is a knowing look that just reaches her eyes before she nods quite solemnly. "The enemy will indeed, Baroness Westmark, I learned all too well. I want nothing to do with the enemy any longer. Thank you so much for your advice." Turning her attention back to Kameron, she studies him as directed, waiting and watching for an attack that never comes.. instead the glances back and forth to Alek bring a curiosity to her eyes. "Are you okay, Sir?" Her words are spoken softly.

A charming smile and incline of his head is offered back to the Baroness in catching her glance, Alek's eyes watching Pipsqueak for awhile and her efforts. Only giving a faint quirk of an eyebrow when he notices Kameron's repeated glances towards him and Bryony. "Ah, the little things that can worry a Knight, nothing so grand as what must worry the minds of so many others." The Knight turning his attention back to the healer, a stray glance towards the pairs training here and there. "There is the ever present thought that I may some how fail in my duties. And so I only try harder, train harder, at least when time permits. "

Kameron lifts his brow, "Am I… um…" He clears his throat, standing a bit straighter, "I'm fine, Your Highness." He smiles, "Sorry. I'm fine, yes." He laughs a little, mostly to himself, and then lifts his sword to the ready. "Let's see what you bring, Princess." And he waits for her to attack.

"And it is that worry that does fill me with the certainty that you will not fail," the healer discloses. Hazel eyes drift towards the princess and her companion once more, noting the glance. "Do you know him? Is he- Forgive me, Sir Alek. You came to train and I fear that I am distracting you. I pray you, do not feel that you must remain and keep me company for the sake of courtesy."

Laurel Westmark weighs her next knife as her mother offers her wisdom to the next group over, listening intently herself. However, when Amira smiles at her, she shrinks behind Katarina shyly and only offers the smallest of smiles in return, like a much younger child would do. But then, more like her father than a child, her eyes are surprisingly sharp and astute when Amira offers her lesson 'learned.' She very politely doesn't say anything. Her gaze follows over to Alek, who gets a much brighter smile, and a knowing flicker towards Bryony. Still. She says nothing.

Instead, before her mother has judged the first, she throws the next knife. Still thinking about feet, this throw veers downward and lands a handsbreadth lower and to the right of the first. It does not look very impressive, but a man's groin wouldn't hold up very well to it, either. "When I try too hard to aim for the head, like Papa does, my aim goes downwards. Dead is dead, you're right." She says, in the pouting tone another lady might use to complain about stitchery. Then her brows shoot up. "Fire, Mama? Like on arrows?"

Alek inclines his head to Bryony,"You are kind, thank you." Taking a glance to the man with the Princess before shaking his head,"I am afraid I am not familiar with him. Perhaps he has simply mistaken me for someone." Tossing a charming smile towards Bryony,"I do not feel so, Mistress Bryony. It is not a distraction, even if it were, I do not mind it." A hand motions in the direction of Laurel,"I admit, I do not mind taking these moments to see how Pipsqueak has been progressing in her talents." The nickname used in a familiar fashion, the Knight having seemingly spent a far bit of time watching over the youngest Westmark.

His uneasiness is apparent, and Amira offers him an encouraging smile. "Please have no worries, if now is not a good time, I would not mind waiting until later, if you would prefer?" At the offer, she does not lift her wooden blade to attack, instead, she watches him a moment. "Are you sure you are.. fine, Sir Kameron?"

Kameron smiles once more, and he very gently pokes the Princess in the belly with the wooden training sword. "I'm fine. Honest." He laughs a little, sniffs, and then shrugs, "Sure maybe it's not that you're just afraid of The Kid?" he says with a teasing arrogance that somehow manages to also bear a hint of charm.

"Now you are the one being kind," Bryony returns, one corner of her mouth quirking upwards in amusement. "Not that I am complaining, mind you." The healer shifts on her feet, her hands smoothing over her skirts idly as she looks towards the youngest Westmark. "She is lovely. Pipsqueak? I hope you do know her well enough to get away with such familiarity," the woman teases.

Katarina gives another of those nods of approval, "Aye, precisely so. Dead is dead," she agrees. "Now. Your target has two abdominal wounds, but he isn't dead. You want him to talk. As long as the blades haven't nicked or severed any of the major blood vessels, he'll live a bit longer. But he's in pain. So. How are you going to make him talk?" she wonders in a quiet aside to her youngest. "And yes, fire, and arrows are one thing. but think larger. Say, perhaps, you need to set something on fire. Say. A ship, for example. Or a wharf. Now. Half the timber is soaked, perpetually, in sea water. How are you going to make it burn? More.. how do you make it explode?"

With his smile of reassurance, Amira takes on a more defensive stance, her lips curving in a smile and when he gently pokes her with the practice sword soft laughter tumbles out unheeded. "If you are certain, Sir Kameron." The laughter reaches her eyes and she draws the blade back marginally, "The Kid?" Catching the teasing arrogance, she tries to catch him by surprise with a quick slashing move aimed for his shoulder.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=swords Vs Kameron=swords
< Amira: Good Success Kameron: Good Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Marginal Victory

Alek gives Laurel's continued progress another study, watching her form when the blades are thrown. His hands drifting to clasp behind his back,"Ah..Pipsqueak, Lady Laurel. And you hope correctly," the Knight flashing a smmile to Bryony at the tease. "She has been the younger of my charges over time. She has become almost like a little sister with how long I have known her."

<FS3> Laurel rolls Marksmanship: Success.

Kameron laughs, "Yeah, that's what your brother calls—" And then Amira is slashing at his shoulder. He moves to parry, but she's caught him off guard. His wooden sword misses to block, but he manages to simply move himself out of the way at just the last moment, the wood swooshing against his leather but not actually connecting. He laughs heartily, "Well, I see!" He then prepares his stance a bit better, and waits for her next move.

A third knife punctuates her mother's question. This one hits askew as well, now in the left shoulder clearly from over-compensating from the last. Though still nothing an opponent would like to face, Laurel stomps her foot, a perfectionist disappointed. Unlike her more impulsive siblings, however, she does not fling forth the rest of the bandolier until she gets the neck-shot she wanted. That was for later, when no one was watching. "Make him talk? I would have to make sure he couldn't get away from me, first. Take out a couple of tendons if he's bigger than me." This is delivered in a a shy almost-whisper, though her blue eyes gleam viciously. "It would be situational. If I were in a hurry, though, I might just promise him up to Papa if he didn't tell me what I wanted, and freedom if he did." The second set of questions gets a more contemplative gaze, brows furrowed a few slow blinks like an owl. "Even sea-soaked, the tar on a ship will burn happily… but for more, you could add oil, perhaps. I would have to ask Cricket, and maybe play around with some things…"

"So you have family, after all," Bryony murmurs softly, lifting her eyes to Alek's face once more. "And she is most fortunate to have such a dedicated guardian." Her hands clasp together once more as the healer sighs and gives a regretful look towards the main of the keep. "Another lesson does await me and it would be unforgivably rude of me to keep them waiting. It has been a great pleasure, Sir Alek. I thank you for your kindness and pray your forgiveness. Again."

When he easily avoids her practice sword, Amira does not relent, but she lifts her own to offer a block… though he does not counter with one. With a curious look, she watches as he changes his stance, trying her best not to give anything away with her own, trying to use the advice given to her for her own attack. So keeping both her feet shoulder width apart, the sword in both her hands, she attempts to be unpredictable as she lifts the blade in the center, but quickly changes direction and brings it in from the left, aiming for his side.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=swords Vs Kameron=swords
< Amira: Success Kameron: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

"I suspect it can be viewedin that fashion, but it is a family I serve." Alek's gaze drifting out back to Laurel as the Westmakr continues with her practice. But the healer's words draw his gaze back to her, a charming smile given. "It had been a pleasure, and I would not wish to keep you from your own lessons, there is nothing to forgive. Go and do not be late upon my accout, I would be most aggrevied if I was the cause keeping you from your duties." The Knight giving a bow of his head to the woman,"Be well and Guardian's keep you, Mistress Bryony."

Katarina eyes the next throw and, knowing that Laurel is a perfectionist, only says, "You still hit the target. Now that he's down, and wounded, everything else is going to add to blood loss, discomfort and pain, disorientation," she holds one hand up to signal Laurel to halt and strides toward the practice dummy before beckoning Laurel to join her. "First, it's important to understand that - deep down - most people just don't believe that you will hurt them. They're going to look at you, and think that you aren't going to be mean, that you're going to be soft, and merciful. use that to your advantage," she takes ahold of one blade and demonstrates by twisting the blade neatly to one side. "Secondly, never go all out on any target. IF he thinks that he's going to live, more than likely he'll talk at some point. If he thinks that you're going to kill him, he may never give you anything useful. So. Apply pain, twist the blade. This won't typically kill him but it'll hurt. Third," she gives a wry smile, "be advised that your prisoner will lie. You won't get a lot of good intel out of any subject, but they will lie, some will be truth if you keep pushing. But in the end, he or she will lie and torture has never yielded solid data at every turn, so be selective." She tugs the blades free and hands them - in turn - to her daughter. "Fourth, don't leave the interrogation to anyone else. Immediate punishment, immediate consequences, don't threaten what you won't deliver, and never order anyone to do something that you would not, had you the skill to do the job at hand." She smooths one hand lightly over the back of her neck, "Tar, yes, but what's the chemical difference between pitch, tar and naptha?'" she queries of her daughter.

Kameron moves to counter her second attack, his laugh quickly fading as this time, he parries right as she strikes his side. He lets out a little, "Ow! Hey!" And then he gets a more serious look on his face. "You've more practice than I thought…" And then he lunges, swinging his sword to strike her.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Kameron=swords Vs Amira=swords
< Kameron: Success Amira: Good Success
< Net Result: Amira wins - Marginal Victory

Moving her stance to accommodate his longer arm length than hers, Amira manages to step back just in time as she blocks with her sword, but just barely. The strength of the clash rattling up her arms. Lifting it again, she goes to parry before he can try and guess what she was doing, to strike him back.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=swords Vs Kameron=swords
< Amira: Failure Kameron: Good Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Solid Victory

Laurel follows her mother to the end of the range, and listens intently to the lesson as it is given. Her hands unfold only to accept each knife and slip them into their places on her father's bandolier. Finally, she nods. "Slow, gentle, and distrust everything he says." She repeats. And the last point is nodded to familiarly - it was an often-cited quotation in their household, after all - though tiny rosebuds of a blush form on her cheek at it. She had, after all, just admitted the very teenage wont to use her parents' name in vain to get what she wanted. "Aye, Mama."

The last topic again draws her back into contemplation, and she frowns. "Pitch and tar are made in the same process, as byproducts of making charred coal, but pitch is more solid… and depending on which city you are in, people call them interchangeably." Her nose crinkles with the frown, making her look like a kitten pretending to be a lion. She was the ever more literary of the Westmark sisters - and had little interest in the ships - and being caught in a processing question without Cricket around to save her makes her uncomfortable. "Can't you get naptha from tar, too? Though people also call the black water from the ground naptha, in some places."

Kameron now has a smile that only a man who enjoys a good fight keeps during combat. She blocks his strike and as she comes at him with an immediate follow up, he parries her sword, the wood upon wood scraping as he forces the tip of her sword all the way down to the ground. She's not disarmed, it was just a very strong, deliberate parry. He laughs, and then swings at her once more.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=swords Vs Kameron=swords
< Amira: Success Kameron: Amazing Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Crushing Victory

Katarina nods slowly, following along with Laurel's replies, "Good, very good. Now. The king would potentially like to set something on fire. And have it burn so hot that the wood explodes. It's wood that's soaked with sea water and is riddled with tar, bits of metal and other detrius collected by being near a water front. So. How do you set something like that on fire in a way that it can't be easily extinguished with water?"

After Bryony departs, Alek watches on for a few more moments. Watching the Westmark women make their way to the target before his gaze turns to the more lively match occuring between Amira and Kameron. Evenutally though, the Knight carries on to his own training practice and the purpose that brought him to the training grounds. The young man vanishing off to find a spot he considers suitable enough for his purposes.

He had certainly parried very well and when she was finally able to lift her sword once more, it turned out that she had been far too late. The swing he takes was too fast and Amira was far too slow, for when it strikes, it is hard and she was unprepared, so as the sword hits her in the side, she falls back on the ground on her backside, stunned, the breath knocked out of her. "Ow.." Sitting up and blinking up at him. She manages a smile, albeit a shaky one. "Nice hit, Sir Kameron.." Ow.

Where others might suddenly panic for having just floored a princess, Kameron remains just as he was. His smile widens a bit, and he spins the sword a couple of times in his hand before stepping over to where Amira has fallen. "You're better than I thought you'd be, Princess." He then extends his hand to help her up. "It was fantastic!"

"But we're not finished!" Amira does take his hand and gets to her feet, she is certainly not one to give up. Dusting herself off, she picks up her sword and bows her head. "Your attack, Sir Kameron." And she does seem determined to finish the spar at least! This is perhaps the only control she has of her life, so she is taking it where she can.

"Oil, of course. An oil fire will only flare hotter if you put water on it - cooking oil or the black water." The littlest Westmark bobs a nod as she returns back to her original answer. "It will also carry the fire until the tar begins to burn, and the two in conjunction with the dry timber will help catch the sea-soaked wood on fire." Still, she feels like she's missing something, and it shows on her oh-so-blithe face. "I don't know how you could make it explode, though. Normally you need pressure for that, like sealed pots of oil." She blinks a few more times, looking up to her mother for guidance.

Kameron tilts his head a bit, and his smile widens. His small, intense eyes seem to come alive, and instead of responding, he simply takes an attack, once again swinging, this time for her shoulder.

<FS3> Kameron rolls Kameron:swords Vs Amira:swords: Failure.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Kameron=swords Vs Amira=swords
< Kameron: Good Success Amira: Good Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Marginal Victory

"So. The key would be to place barrels of the right compounds in key locations.. then see them set on fire in a series of linear explosions that feed each other," Katarina prompts gently. "Why not used sealed pots of oil, or barrels that have been made as air tight as possible. How do you set them all aflame?"

At first, Amira thinks he will decline, but when he does not, she nods her approval, giving a look of concentration. When he swings, she manages to get hit yet again, though this time the hit is not so crushing and she lets the armor soak most of it. "I cannot block you for some reason." Her voice is conversational, but she does appear to be serious as she also attempts a strike against his shoulder.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=Swords Vs Kamron=Swords
< Amira: Great Success Kamron: Good Success
< Net Result: Amira wins - Solid Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=Swords Vs Kameron=Swords
< Amira: Great Success Kameron: Success
< Net Result: Amira wins - Solid Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Paule=stealth Vs Katarina=perception
< Paule: Good Success Katarina: Good Success
< Net Result: DRAW

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Paule=stealth Vs Laurel=perception
< Paule: Success Laurel: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Having finished his meeting, the two Westmark women will be aware of the presence of husband and father to one and the other, before he slips his arms around their waists and squeezes them both for a moment before he pulls away. "My suggestion would be to soak a combonation of tar and oil with some alcohol - that way the fire will spread quick once the alcohol this out and the tar balls will cause it to stick to any efforts to beat the fire out."

Laurel fidgets just briefly with the handles of one of the knives in the bandolier. She has just opened her mouth to answer the latest puzzle - which clearly she is over-thinking - when her father sneaks upon them and adds his answer. "Oh, alcohol! I did not even think of it." She admits, abashed. Far too focused on how to work naphtha into the equation, that she forgot a basic flammable component. Well, that is why Cricket is the scientist. "And what about oil-soaked ropes, tying the pots together? As the fire burns the rope, it would reach each pot in succession, causing a linear affect?"

Katarina has a smile on her face by the time Paule reaches their side, turning slightly to set one hand lightly on Paule's where it rests round her waist for that moment, "Yes, that's the optimal solution. But finding the right kind of rope that won't burn fast or burn and shred.. that's the next part of the equation, isn't it?" she wonders, giving both Paule and Laurel another angle to work on. "How did your meeting go?" she wonders of Paule before tugging one of the knives from Laurel's bandolier and handing it to her youngest, "It's not about making a fancy throw, sweetheart, save the showmanship for moments of tournaments and displays of skill. Do the work, do it neat, through, and move on. It's the same as using a sword," she adds quietly. "Shoving a foot of steel through your opponent may look dramatic.. but if the first four inches of blade didn't get the job done then another foot or two isn't going to make a different. Do the job, Laurel, do it fast, neat, and move on to the next task at hand. use the tip of the blade, and if that doesn't get the job done then pick another weapon."

When Amira's wooden training blade strikes his shoulder, Kameron stumbles a bit, catching himself before he loses his footing. This time, he doesn't wince, instead, he pauses, tilting his head a bit to look at the princess. He slowly reaches over and rubs the shoulder, and an almost sensual smile moves across his lips. He stares at her for a long moment, and then he nods, "You're amazing." He releases his shoulder, and then moves to swing at her again.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=swords Vs Kameron=swords
< Amira: Failure Kameron: Good Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Solid Victory

Paule looks to Katarina and nods. "It's time." he says, as he glances towards Laurel for a moment, and then back to his wife. "If you believe she is ready?" he asks her cryptically.

Amira eyes him warily when he rubs his shoulder and gives her that.. unfamiliar smile. Taking an involuntary step backwards, she keeps her wooden blade between them, though not good enough for when he swings at her, he manages to make contact with her shoulder with a solid blow. It hurts, sure it does, but she does not back down still, swinging her own sword with two hands towards his abdomen, not immediately making a reply to his comment, for she is concentrating too hard to strike back.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=Swords Vs Kameron=Swords
< Amira: Good Success Kameron: Great Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Marginal Victory

The girl takes the offered knife, letting her mother's teaching wash over her as she contemplates the edge of the blade with her thumb. Of course, standing so close to the training dummy, all she could do is stab the throwing knife into it. So instead she flourishes it in a neat, controlled spin over her knuckles and drops it cleanly back into it's holster. The sparse movements do not hold her older brother's flair for the dramatic, but are precise - and to her internal glee, didn't cut her skin at all. The glee never touches her face, though, as her father's words win the race. She looks up at him, one brow crooked in question, and otherwise the very picture of innocence.

Katarina's smile is quiet but there's a gleam of pride in her eyes that she knows that both husband and daughter will see, "Aye," she confirms with a measured nod, answering the asked questions.

Paule nods, his expression turning solemn for a moment before he ruffles his youngest child's golden hair. "Then if you are done with your training for the evening, Laurel, I have someone I wish for you to meet." he says, as he lifts up to his full height. "If you will join Katarina and I?"

Yet another swing from Amira, and he quickly slides to the side, again parrying. He laughs, biting his lip a moment, and then offers, "You're leading with your elbow. It's a tell. Try to think of the sword as part of your arm, an extension and not a tool." And then he takes a swing at her side.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Kameron=swords Vs Amira=swords
< Kameron: Great Success Amira: Good Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Solid Victory

The ominous moment passes - for the moment. Laurel is content to soak in the moment of parental approval. She's a Westmark, after all. Such peaceful moments are ephemeral, and she knows worse times will come ahead. Times that will involve knives, and fires, and enemies. "Of course, Papa, I'll come right along." And, still wearing the full bandolier of knives, slips a tiny hand into one each of her parents', ready for them to lead where they will.

Taking his advice, Amira nods again, somewhat solemnly, though she looks down at her arms perhaps a little too soon and misses the strike to her side, feeling the solid hit. Flinching, she still does not give in or give up, attempting to swing her blade with one hand this time, just in case she can attempt to strike him without giving away her intent.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Amira=Swords Vs Kameron=Swords
< Amira: Success Kameron: Good Success
< Net Result: Kameron wins - Solid Victory

Kameron still manages to read Amira's arm motion, and he blocks her next strike as well. He takes a half step back, and then swings his sword at the air, showing her what she's doing, "You're still telling where you're swinging with your elbow, like this…" and he takes a couple mock swings at the air, showing her, "See how it's turning to lead? That can be read to anticipate a strike as much as footing." He smiles, and steps back up to her, "Again." And he swings.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Kameron=swords Vs Amira=swords
< Kameron: Failure Amira: Success
< Net Result: Amira wins - Marginal Victory

Katarina takes Laurel's hand in hers and smiles at Paule, not quite -over- Laurel's head but nearly so, "Lead on."

It's a short walk into Brivey, and Paule keeps his hand in his daughters for the most of it. As they arrive in the town itself, the threesome seems to have a specific point in mind that he is heading to. The choice of the shop itself may prove.. confusing to Laurel as he comes to the door of the Bun in the Oven bakery. Opening the door, the threesome steps in.

The door of the cafe opens to the inviting, delightful smells of baking wafting in from the kitchen. A colorful display case set into the sales counter is lit with a myriad of colorful cakes, pastries, and cookies. A smiling young girl with a name tag reading 'Miss Marmalade' stands behind the counter awaiting your order. On the opposite side of the room is a wooden counter accompanied with quilt-topped stools where patrons can enjoy a quick drink and a bite. A small slate menu is set on the counter, and pretty, curly script details today's specials in chalk. The walls are adorned with small, whimsical framed paintings and glass sconces that cast flickering motes of light about the room. Further in, an intimate gathering of tables are set with fresh flowers and candles. A doorway hung with light, filmy curtains opens to the left into the gallery, while a wooden door to the right marked with "Staff Only" leads to the kitchen. In the back corner of the room, a small spiral staircase leads upstairs.

Approaching Miss Marmalade, Paule offers a smile. "Are the hot cross buns fresh today?" he asks.

"Oh no," she responds, looking between the three. "They are at least a day old. But I can sell them to you at a discount, if you ask."

"One silver and two copper for the lot and no more." Which if you know economics, seems to be a high price to pay for day old bread.

The bakery owner smiles. "They're waiting for you, Your Excellency." she offers finally, and sets out a small bag of small cakes. "For your girl, if she wants them? I remember she used to love these as a child." Indeed, Laurel will remember this shop if not by smell alone. And this is not the first time that Paule has had this conversation, but she has always had to stay at the front of the shop.

However, tonight, he nods his head. "Come with me." he says to his daughter.

Katarina draws in a deep deep breath as we step into the bakery, the scent of fresh baked bread making her mouth water and her go-bake-something instincts try to kick in with a vengeance. However, why go back something when it's already baked and warm still. She selects a small loaf of a dark brown bread that will go perfect with butter blended with honey - a small pot of which is conveniently nearby and, after she pays for both she spreads a generous amount onto the bread before wrapping it and tucking it into the deep pocket of her jacket. Provision secured!

Katarina shares a glance with Paule, a bit of small talk with Ms Marmalade, but she takes Laurel's hand again for a moment, a reassuring squeeze exchanged before she releases Laurel's hand and rests her hand, instead, briefly on Laurel's shoulder before taking a step to the side to have Laurel follow in Paule's footsteps.

Childhood memory begets nostalgia which begets a soft, whimsical smile on Laurel's expression once they reach the bakery. Holding her parents' hands, with the warm, sweet smell awash, she feels almost like a child again, though now she is almost - not quite - as tall as her mother, and wearing a bandolier of knives under her surcoat, to boot. In fact, the entire experience is at least on some level bewildering, though it shows only in a slight wildness to her eye.

The price draws a flicker of a frown, and the offer of cakes a tilt of her head, though she does accept, and offer a coin of proper payment and tip in return. "You have a very good memory, Miss Marmelade. Thank you kindly." And remarkable youth, at that. Happily, she squeezes her mother's hand in return, and draws in a deep breath of sweet mingled smell of cinnamon and nutmeg and honey.

Laurel pauses, a tidbit of cake halfway to her lips, when she realises that she is meant to follow her father this time. Her gaze flickers from her mother's reassurance to her father, and gravitas slinks back past the joy of youth. Carefully, she folds the bag of pastries around itself, and tucks it into her belt-purse. Then she leans up to kiss her mother softly on the cheek. "I love you." She whispers, and then slips like a shadow behind her father, right upon his heels.

Katarina will know Miss Marmalade - at least the name. She's always been in this shop - at least some version of her. This is in fact the fouth Miss Marmalade that has worked at the Bun in the Oven since they started visiting here. She hands Paule a small key, which the Baron accepts and then there's a small smile towards Katarina. "She's not going to miss this, sweetheart." he promises his daughter.

Going over to the 'staff only' door, he puts in the key and turns it, opening the door. As he does so, he allows his daughter and wife to go first. Inside of the room stand four men, dressed in dark robes, similar to the armor that Westmark wears, but not quite the same. The oven is lit, causing a heat in the room. "You remember when you were a few years younger?" Paule asks his daughter. "And you asked me why our armor was different than any other knight's in the Kingdom?" he asks her. "Do you remember what I said?" he asks her quietly.

Katarina leads the way into the room, giving a measured tilt of her head as a nod to the four men in the room, not being cryptic on purpose but merely holding to her silence as she squares her shoulder subtly, drawing up to her full and not terribly impressive height. Having proved herself long ago, she does not need to do so again with these men, or any other, but the subtle drawing up and squaring is instinctive as it is her next breath.

If Laurel is relieved that her mother is accompanying them, it is just a breath, a quick flicker of a smile, a mere echo of childhood timidity. She does not even draw up short at the four cloaked men, or the hot oven, but stops abreast of Katarina. Though her gaze is level, however, her nostrils flare like a housecat testing new territory. "Aye, Papa. You said it was because, as the shadows are ephemeral, so must we be. Because darkness has no weight, so to do we move."

"Right." Paule says with a nod of his head. "Before my time, our Knights were like every others." he explains to Laurel, turning so he can lower himself to her level and removes his own heavy cloak of armor he wears. "We wore armor that was bulky - we stood in lines and fought. And we died for such methods. It was my father than made the first change of tactics - tactics that I took as my own and perfected with your mother. But we had help. These men - they are in the league of the shadows." Assassins. There have always been rumors of Paule's dealings with the assassin's guild, but noone has ever proven them true or false. As he removes the cloak, he pulls back the bracer on his left wrist and exposes the branding of the Guild on his skin.

"I had to take over leadership of not just Westmark, but other things as well. And it was my promise that I would not keep the two intertwined forever." he admits. "In my lifetime, I expect to seperate them. Coriaria, of course, will be Baroness. You, however, have a different purpose. My youngest and strongest child." he says as he gestures towards a table wear a set of dark leather armor and cloaak await. "If you choose to accept it, I will start training you in the art of becoming the shadow. And in time, you will take my place as the leader of the league. What say you, Laurel Westmark?"

There is just the slightest sign of surprise. A sharp, whispery intake of breath, and her eyes go ever so much wider. Just a touch. And no fear, though Laurel's fingertips quaver ever so softly as she reaches to touch the brand on her father's arm. That the rumours were true did not surprise her. She had spent her life sneaking around doorways and hiding inside cabinets to listen to things she oughtn't. Instead it is the statement of his purpose: "Me?" The frail, sickly one. The one alone. Of course, the shadows will not take you unless you are alone.

Her voice is a whisper. She latches eyes with her father and studies them deeply, as if wishing he were a book she could read. Then each other object in the room gets a long, appraising gaze. The armour. Each of the men. The fire. Then finally, most importantly, her mother. At last: "Yes, I accept." Her bottom lip trembles just a little, and she bites it to hold it down.

Katarina waits until Laurel's eyes meet hers and its then that she gives the most subtle of nods, letting her daughter see in her eyes what she has always known: that Laurel is stronger than people think that Laurel is, that she is smart, clever, canny, that small doesn't mean weak, that slender doesn't mean fragile, that pale doesn't mean waifish. She lets Laurel see in her eyes, in her face, in every ounce of her being that all of these facets are strengths, unique strengths, and being nearly eye level with her youngest she makes a point of standing with her shoulders squared, reminding her daughter that she is every inch a knight, a soldier, a loyal servant of the crown.

"You have heard her take acceptance in front of my wife, loyal and faithful. Spread the words to the shadows. Laurel Westmark is to take my place upon my death." Paule says simply, and looks towards his daughter. "I will not force you to take the oath tonight, but to accept this armor, you must accept the mark upon your skin." he says as he looks to his daughter. He has always believed in her, as much as Katarina has, and looks down towards his Fox. "If you wish to wait, you will be allowed such as well."

The unspoken words between mother and daughter add steel to Laurel, projecting her dulcet sotto voce to be heard above the crackling of the oven and squaring her shoulders. When her father offers her leniency, she shakes her head ever so softly, sending an auburn curl tumbling out of place on her forehead. "If there is an oath to be taken, Papa, I will take it now." Stubborn. Well, she had wished for a purpose, and she is not going to turn it away. "I will have much to learn, to catch up-" her eyes flicker again to the assassins, silent and deadly figures of legend in truth, then back to her parents. "-so if you feel I am ready, I am here. It will not help us or help Coriaria for me to wait."

"You are ready," Katarina says in that voice that conveys both calm resolve but absolute faith and, knowing that Laurel will hear it as well, pride, all in those three words. She reaches out, rests one hand on Laurel's arm nearest hers and meets the eyes of her youngest. "We become, Laurel, what we are. So often people believe that it is the other way around, that we are what we become. But this is not so. The years will pare away all of the soft edges, time and experience, love and loss, anger, grief, joy, passion, all of these things will smooth away all of your illusions until - at the very end - the distilled essence of your very self will be what remains. It is the person that you see in the mirror. The voice that is in the quiet of your thoughts. The instinct that stays your hand or urges you on. We become what we are, our truth. You are ready."

At his daughter's words, the Baron of Westmark looks to his wife, and nods his head. "Then if you say you are ready and your sponsor agrees, we shall begin the oath of joining." he says, and steps in front of the four men, and looks between his wife and daughter. "Your first step in this journey is to shed your past. Remove your garments and weapons and set them upon this altar." he says, gesturing to the table that has been set up for this purpose. "You may remain in your dressing shift if you are modest." he offers quietly as he starts to set down the items for the oath.

The girl acknowledges her mother's wisdom by covering her hand with her own. Just a moment - a tremulous, thankful smile, a fierce squeeze of her hand - then Laurel gently breaks away to face her father and the four anonymous men. She does not so much as widen her eyes at the peculiar first requirement, but moves to the indicated table with a solemn grace - and a quick nod to the offer. Her surcoat is folded neatly, the bandolier of knives laid upon it. The volumnious white kirtle she still wears from the Temple is easy to remove alone, and is draped over the center of the table. Then, barefoot and clad in her short linen shift and very practical knee-length trewes, she steps back towards her father. A glance is not even spared to the other men, though she has just the slightest blush high on her cheeks.

The four do not pay attention to Laurel's lack of dress. Instead, one of them takes up the girl's clothing and moves them aside, the Temple robes set apart to be returned. With the robes removes, Paule steps forward to the table he has prepared. "Repeat after me, Laurel Westmark." he comments as he prepares. First, he takes out a dagger in a sheath. It's an ordinate thing with a silver blade and when removed from the sheath, it is black in color.

"I am an Assassin; Fear me…"

"For with the black dagger, I bring Death."

With that, he holds out the dagger for Laurel in both of his hands for her to repeat the start of the oath and accept the dagger.

Katarina steps back into the shadows, here to bear witness, not to intrude; the shadows are Paule's domain, and that of the other members of this guild.

Tiny, slender hands take the dagger reverently, one wrapped loosely around the hilt, the other cradled under but not quite touching the blade. She was raised with the wisdom not to test an unknown - and potentially poisoned - knife. Then she meets her father's eyes directly. "I am an Assassin; fear me, for with the black dagger, I bring Death." The tremble is gone, her voice quiet but steady and strong.

After handing over the blade, Paule steps back and allows the hooded man to the immediate right. That man steps forward as Katarina continues to watch over the proceedings. The man steps forward and offers a coin to Laurel. A single tin coin, the most common currency of them all. It is stamped with the mark of the assassins.

"I am an Assassin; Despise me…"

"For a coin will buy a Life."

With that, the coin is held out to the young woman to accept.

Laurel shifts her grip on the blade to accept the coin with her right hand as is proper. The unreality of the situation is no reason to eschew manners, after all. "I am an Assassin; despise me, for a coin will buy a Life." She repeats, pressing her thumb over the face of the coin.

The hooded figure deposits the coin into Laurel's hand and steps back, and the next figure steps forward. When she speaks, her voice is soft and secure, as if a healer comforting a patient. In her hands she carries a small bag, that when open carries several poisons and their antidotes.

"I am an Assassin; Covet me…"

"For I carry the secrets to kill a Man."

The bag is offered to Laurel to accept, and perhaps, for a moment, the young woman mmay see a ghost of a smile offered on the hooded figure's face.

The girl hesitates for just a moment, her eyes widening - for now her hands are full and a third item is offered to her. She remembers the table just in time to handle it with some aplomb, however, and gently sets down the dagger and the coin in the order they were handed to her. Then she turns back to the next assassin, cupping the bag of vials in both hands as she repeats: "I am an assassin; covet me, for I carry the secrets to kill a Man." She looks, if anything, relieved, perhaps that one of these dark figures is in some way akin to herself, gentle and small.

Paule for a moment, looks amused. As she sets down the coin and dagger, he reaches over, takes the coin, and slips it into the hilt of the dagger at the base. If Laurel is paying attention, she may notice that her father's own dagger carries a platinum coin, and the others carry a gold coin in theirs. As the next figure steps up, Katarina moves to stand close to Laurel, just in case.

Because this paticular assassin reaches into the oven and pulls out a branding iron. On the end of it, the assassin's guild symbol glows a light red. Paule steps forward and lifts the side of Laurel's shift and pushes down her trousers slightly. "I'm applying a soothing and numbing balm, but you will still feel this. Do not be afraid to hold your mother's hands." he says quietly.

Once he has applied the balm, he holds the clothing into place, as the the man approaches with the brand.

"I am an Assassin; Woo me…"

"For like my mark, I will not stop until my quarry is dead."

And with that he waits for Laurel to nod her consent before he applies the brand to the slight girl's hip, just below her waistline.

And that does cause her eyes to widen again; knowing what to expect is not the same as facing the implement of pain itself. She does slip her hand into her mother's, but otherwise her chin remains stubbornly set. She nods to the final man and his words, and does not close her eyes as she desperately would like to do. Instead, she stares into the glowing orifice of the oven, unblinking.

When the brand pushes into her flesh, she gasps inadvertantly, then clamps her jaw shut tight and forces herself to breathe through her nose and ignore the silent tear that escapes, unbidden. She grips her mother's hands tightly, but concentrates on holding her ground, not recoiling, not crying. And largely, she succeeds.

The hiss of branding iron to flesh is powerful, as the smell of that flesh burning away, becoming marked. The man does not press in the brand, instead, he pulls it away, which allows Paule to quickly dress the wound. "It'll heal." he promises, as he presses the bandage and soothing agents into place. The shift is lowered, but the trousers left untouched.

Turning away from his daughter, the Baron returns to his place as the last man steps forth. In his hands he holds a bundle. Robes, like he wears - not the armor that her mother and father wear, but in the same design.

"I am an Assassin; Respect me…"

"For with the shadows, I bring Justice."

"Your mother made these for you." the man offers, "And has decorated them with your House, thusly." he comments. With that, the bundle is offered to Laurel to change into.

The brand recedes though the pain does not, yet. But Laurel has known pain often since her illness and convalescence. Pain can be borne; must be borne. The treacherous tears are ignored, blinked away from existance in a flutter of eyelashes. Slowly she unlatches her hands from Katarina's, and turns slightly to watch her father. She whispers a word of thanks when he is done, not quite trusting her voice yet, then reaches to fold the waistband of her trousers - and tenderly test the edges of the perimeter of her angered flesh.

When the final vow is presented and the bundle is offered to her with kind words, Laurel actually manages the wisp of a smile. "I am an assassin; respect me, for with the shadows, I bring Justice." Her voice trembles at first, but is velvet over steel by the final statement, and she nods solidly. "Thank you."

Laurel pulls on the robes with some wonder in her eyes, her small hands gently settling it over her hip and straightening the folds of cloth neatly around herself - fingers lingering over her mother's fine embroidery, the sign of love and care wrought in even this dark place. Her smile solidifies, a gentle, strange peace.

When she slips on the robe, Paule finally offers his youngest a smile. Stepping into the middle of the group again and before his child, he speaks. "I swear this day, before you all, that I will obey the laws of Guild and uphold the Ideals of the Assassin. To respect the Guild Elders and to protect the weak. My word is my bond and my bond is my Honor. I will hold Honor above all. For Honor is the Highest Goal and Life, the Highest Cost."

He helps her slip on the apothecary pack. And then secures her blade around her robes.

"I am an Assassin; Honor me…"

"For with this Oath, I join your ranks."

"I am an Assassin."

"So it is written."

"So it is done."

"I am an Assassin."

When her father smiles, Laurel's expression actually brightens. Though her lips fade back to solemnity as the ritual continues, her eyes remain bright, pale irises dancing with the reflection of the firelight. As prompted, she repeats the vows of the oath with consideration, as if she is weighing and memorizing them as she speaks. As her father helps her don the rest of the uniform, she settles each element on her belt, like a Knight checking his weapons before battle. Then at the final line, she bows her head deeply.

Placing his belt of throwing knives last, Paule leans down and gives his daughter a slight kiss on the forehead before pulling her hood into place to obscure her in shadow. "Welcome to the assassin's, initiate Laurel Westmark. I shall be your mentor and guide you on the path of shadow and light, on that thin line that exists between both. With the initiation done, we will return." He turns to look at his guild leaders. "Thank you, one and all." he says, and then turns back to his family. "If we are ready?"

"Thank you," Laurel hesitates as she looks up at her father under the edge of the cowl, clearly about to say 'papa.' "…master. I am eager to learn, and vow I shall give my best." Even the shadow of the hood cannot obscure her smile for long, though, as she turns to offer thanks and a formal curtsy to each of the other leaders in turn. Ever proper.

Until she reaches Paule again. Then her reserve breaks and she wraps her arms around him in a brief, fierce hug.

Paule returns the hug, tight and secure for his daughter, and then presses a kiss to her cowl. "Now go hug your mother, as it was her decision that made this possible." he says as he prepares to leave as the others depart into the night.

Having remaining in the shadows, more to observe and as much to not intrude than anything else. Merely bearing witness, as that is sometimes all any parent can do - stand, and witness. Now that Katarina can, she gives Laurel a grin that is fierce pride.

Of course, that is Laurel's next intention. She catches her mother up in an embrace, burying her face in the other woman's shoulder. "Thank you, mama." She murmurs happily, not so very unlike when she was given her horse as a child. Except now it was a far better present: parental pride and trust. She steps back, and brushes her fingers over the house sigil on her robe, almost shyly. "I'm sorry I made fun of Cricket for learning embroidery. This is beautiful. Your best yet."

Katarina smiles and kisses Laurel's forehead gently, "I'm glad you like it. And it's ok, Cricket's embroidery is always intricate and terribly complex. All I ever aim for is aesthetically appealing, and.." she rests one hand lightly on Laurel's shoulder again, "something that is Right for the person who will wear it. This is right for you, it was always meant for you."

By now, the others are gone, leaving the family alone. Paule covers Katarina's hand on Laurel's shoulder. "You are the strongest of our children. You fought the hardest. We believe you can do this. And it is time for you to step into the mantle of your father. This is our guild, as much as it is our land. This is the ultimate gift of my trust in you, and my pride in you. I believe in you, Laurel. Now." he smiles.

"Let us go buy you some sweetcakes to celebrate."

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