The Scions of Lohstren

The Scions of Lohstren
Summary: Siblings Sir Eldrick and Lady Morla, Protector and Flower of the Estermarch, gather to discuss the current state of the South and family. Sir Xander and Lady Prada arrive to deliver some very unfortunate news.
Date: 3 July 2013
Related: None
Eldrick Morla Xander Prada 

Guest Chamber — Wolveshire Castle
A standard parlor room with a table, several seating chairs, and regal allure.
July 3, 1329

Within the halls of Varghem castle in Wolveshire, the scions of House Lohstren have answered the royal summons. Prior to departing Estermark, Eldrick had collected a number of letters which he is reviewing now, idly awaiting his sister's company. Sitting at a small table in one of the receiving rooms, one of his squires waiting silently against one wall to attend him.

With the sun descending upon the horizon, the rustle of fabric echoes from just outside one of the rooms reserved for the Lohstren contingency. Having given her personal guards leave to attend to their own meals, Morla slowly makes her way into the receiving room, passing by one of the chairs to drape her shawl over the back gracefully. She drifts on over towards her brother's side before peering over his shoulder, "Anything of interest I should be aware of? Oh, and before I forget, I have arranged for the evening meal to be delivered here within the hour."

Eldrick glances back over one shoulder as Morla asks from behind him. "It may color our course in the council, yes. Reports as to the state of the northern bank." A nod acknowledges the word of dinner and he briefly rises from his chair while Morla claims her own, before relaxing back down. "Westmark has placed a number of trebuchets, each with a small crew at the river Rothim. Timbers driven into the mud to impede landings.. defensible, but small scale."

"I would like to say I am surprised by that news, but I think the Westmarks have been preparing since our encounters with the Corsairs," she replies simply, lowering herself into her chosen seat. Leaning back into her chair, Morla's gaze slides back towards her brother as she continues, "One would think that the Sollingers should have been more abreast of the mobilization from Westmark. What good is a Naval fleet if it does not keep command of our waters. What do you propose we do? We certainly do not wish to be the ones to initiate any conflict, but simply ignoring the trebuchets seems rather foolish as well."

"The trebuchets are of no real concern," Eldrick opines, drawing a slow breath and leaning his elbows on the table, fingers weaving together and chin propped up on the thumbs. "They command a few of the likely fords, but keep only a small crew. Even with teams of oxen to hoist the counterweights, they could not maintain any dangerous rate of fire. A navy is perhaps the only thing such a deployment could threaten, my sister. they certainly pose no danger to us." He draws another slow breath through the nose. "Any shots would invite repercussion, and we have placed no targets of significance before them. As well, the marshes that are the majority of Westmark's border are unguarded; bodies of light troops could land without difficulty, but again: aggression on our part benefits us naught. Baron Westmark may take pride in his cutthroats, but his troops are no dread to us."

Lips twist wryly in return, "Anything we do at this point will be taken as an invite to repercussions, El. Jerric is more temperamental than Daly and blinded when it comes to his sisters. Baron Westmark is merely some rabid dog he has let off a leash. Honor is something that is not quite as prevalent in others as it is within you and I, I fear." Morla sighs slightly as she shakes her head, "I do not fear the Westmarks or their trebuchets, but I do fear ignorant and temperamental heads will lead us down the spiral further than we belong venturing."

Eldrick again orders his thoughts in the time needed to draw and release a slow breath. "The cutting of trade benefits us. The longer it lasts benefits us more. No matter how temperamental, no man will let his people starve, which is what blocking the flow of grain from our nation shall accomplish. Even should the north lay in stores, and mass troops, an invasion of our shores will gain them nothing. Our cavalry can oppose any landing, and the Sollingers can too easily cut their lines of supply. In like fashion, while we may raze their meager crops, and drive their populace toward starvation with raids and reaving, we cannot conquer Rhaeden. I understand the north, and even war with them causes me no dread." His regard darkens slightly as Eldrick admits this next, "I do not understand the east."

"The East is where the danger truly resides," Morla echoes in agreement, "No matter how many times I think on the state of the kingdoms, I cannot discount the thought that we are marching to drums of war that have been deliberately beat by the East. Even with the countless Chaos spawn that Kerilyn might command, I do not believe she holds enough sway to lay siege to any one kingdom in its entirety. However…" she pauses as she slides a bit forward in her seat, "… even if the North cannot be taken, we run the risk of weakening ourselves in any campaign against them. The slaughter of Ayla was destined to force us down this road. I think we need to focus our attentions to Ellowe more."

"Without forgetting the Corsairs," Eldrick adds, after nodding agreement to his sister's sentiments. "I intend to recommend unto the crown that scouts be sent to Overlake, to judge whether the once-walled city might serve as a foothold on that cursed continent," he notes to share his thoughts with Morla. Planting one finger on the table, he notes, "The east counts a force unknown. We must presume they could occupy much of our fair country. The Corsairs are a nation beaten, but unbroken. We have seen the damage that savage race can do. Then there is the north." The third finger- his signet-bearing ring finger- taps the tabletop. "They are the one foe who cannot conquer us, barring something unforeseen, and yet they are the one foe it seems our steeds are guided toward. Tell me, my sister: whom among our peers do you judge would oppose us in this?"

The pale March Flower considers her brother's words with a mild furrowing of her brow, "From what I have seen thus far, many of us within the South are of similar minds on things. I do not anticipate we shall find too much opposition. We might not all agree on every measure, but I do like to think that we possess far more level minds than our Northern foe." Her nose wrinkles slightly, "Though, if we are to find any opposition it may lay with His Grace, Duke Pawel of Wolveshire. If his sister is to be believed, and I must say I am coming to find a great deal of value in the Lady Prada's words, he has had far too intimate dealings with the Amira of the North. Given the Northern Princesses and their unnatural influence over our Southern men, I cannot honestly predict where His Grace will stand on issues. He may be nothing more than a pawn of the North, as much as I am reluctant to state that aloud. He does bear close monitoring."

Eldrick closes his drumming fingers on the tabletop into a loose fist and draws his lips into a thin line; a sure indication of annoyance. Diplomatically he states, "Let us hope such fears of His Grace are unfounded." On the subject of northern witchcraft, he scoffs, "May I live a hundred years and never ride again if ever a woman made so great a fool of me. But let us not dwell on that subject any longer. If few are like to oppose such a course, we must be prepared for what better deserves the eye of Taniford. I intend to council that we allow the embargo to continue until the northerners are reminded that we are holding their dinner, and focus our efforts on securing the eastern coast, and judging the worth of Overlake as a potential redoubt.

"It would do well for Jerric to be reminded that a royal is to serve his people as much as they are to serve him. If he wishes to continue his petty vengeance upon the South over what he perceives are slights against his family, then his people will be made to suffer. Just as we cannot afford to fight a war upon two fronts, neither can he," Morla adds in agreement, "The worst war one can suffer is a war within one's own lands amongst one's own vassals." There is something of a faint curl of her lips as she thinks upon her brother's words further, "Were it not for knowledge of you, I would dare think all men nothing more than fools. It is doubtful a woman exists that could make such a fool of you and if she does, I do not think she would live long enough after to revel in that accomplishment."

"Keep a knife for her, just in case," Eldrick quips dryly to his sister's semi-sinister words. A moment later, he shakes his head and asks aloud, "Morla, is there anything known of how the two royal traitors managed to command such a host of beasts in escaping Eikeren? I have heard very much that were worth very little, and would understand this new foe if I can."

Carefully considering her brother's words, the younger Lohstren frowns slightly, "Like any good tale, what is known changes each time the story is told. No one commands the beasts unless chosen, El. In every tale I have ever read the beasts could never be controlled by mere man. Some sort of bargain would most assuredly had to have been made - but the price of that bargain? Of that I have no knowledge. Perhaps Kerilyn is a disciple of the Chasm itself. To understand it would be to place all your faith in the legends and myths alone, and you, dear brother, are far too pragmatic for that endeavor." Morla pauses for a moment before shifting the focus slightly, "Which leads me to another matter which requires an element of pragmatism. We need to address the issue of Collette."

"Then what? Kerilyn is some sorceress? A conjurer of dark arts?" Eldrick's crushing skepticism cannot be kept from the tone of his voice. "Are we to organize a war against magic itself?" Lest he speak too far, the Protector of the Mark reins his words in, and tries again, "Can we at least learn the degree to which the traitors command these beasts? Do they simply direct, as a rider does the steed, or do they control, as a puppet upon strings?" But then is broached the subject of their youngest sister. Warily, he wonders, "What is the issue of Collette?"

"At this point, El, I would not discount any myth or legend as being a complete falsehood. Every story has at least some small basis in truth, no matter how small the seed might be. I will see what I can unearth about the beasts in research," Morla adds in a rather simple matter, not nearly as skeptic on the idea as her brother. With the mention of Collette, she braces herself, hands sliding to rest upon the arms of her chair as she continues, "As you are well aware, she's always been somewhat of a fanciful child. Why she has not had a switch taken to her backside I shall never know, but that is neither here nor there. Before the drumming of war, there was some consideration of a proposed marriage between her and the heir to House Auldholme to the North. I believe the were unofficially courting. I do not think it was ever proclaimed official by Father. However, with the recent developments, any chance of a marriage between the two would be utterly unacceptable."

"It was most certainly not official," Eldrick states, with a chilly edge to the words. "I am not inclined to rush into a hasty war with the north, but neither am I keen to see a sister married to the malcontents of Malgrave, especially not now." A short breath drawn through flared nostrils.

Eldrick and Morla sit at a table in one of the receiving rooms of Varghem castle. A small number of letters are stacked on the table within Eldrick's reach, and one of the knight's young squires sits quietly against one wall, attending the two Lohstrens.

Arriving in the room, Xander knocks politely for a moment, Prada trailing behind him, though she moves to his side once they are within. He offers a polite bow. "Cousins, I fear I have bad news about your sister." he says in a grave tone. "I was at the festival of Ravas serving as the red knight, and I went to remove my armor to take a small break down by the lake. Whilst I was swimming, my armor was taken and now I cannot find Lady Collette, who was at the festival as well, but…" he looks to Prada. "Lady Prada informed me of rumor that a knight of red was seen holding hands with the Auldholme lord after crossing the bridge from Laketown into Rhaedan."

"Yes, well nothing is official until there is an exchange between two houses signed and sealed with a contract of dowry," she echoes logically, "But I am concerned she may…" her words are cut short by the clip of the knock followed by the arrival of their cousin. Morla starts to rise but the mention of the youngest sister gives her pause. Fingers grip tightly upon the arms of the chair, the paleness of her own flesh masking the degree of tightness upon knuckles as she arches a slow cool brow, "Cannot /find/ her? How does one lose a Lady under guard?" Wintery depths shift to regard her older brother for a moment before again sliding back to Xander, "If you are trying to goad me with a prank, Xander, I promise you this is not in the least amusing. Where are my sister's guards and how can she cross the borders into Rhaedan when they are sealed?"

Eldrick looks from Morla to the door at the knock. "Cousin," he greets, fondness kept from his voice by foreboding at Xander's initial words. The knight rises from his seat upon spying "Lady Prada," to whom the lord offers a proper bow. Rising again to his full height, Eldrick hears out Xander's news, nostrils flaring with a drawn breath. Adding to his sister's queries, he wonders aloud, "Where is she quartered?" A look aside to his squire accompanies the words, "Seek out the Lady Collette's retainers, immediately. Her guards, her maids, her effects, anything. I will not trust wholly in rumors that she has betrayed us," though the note of dread beneath his composure gives hint that he fears it true. The squire bolts to his feet and hastily makes proper respects to the nobles, before hurrying out of the chamber.

Xander shakes his head. "I do not prank on this, m'lady." the knight offers. "Her guards are quartered in the barracks at the moment. After interviewing them, the Lady stated she needed to use the powder room and apparently absconding through an open window at one of the taverns. We have searched the city high and low, but Lady Prada believes as I do.. that she has taken matters into her own hands and gone with her love."

Finally rising to her full stance, the normally composed Flower seems to radiate with a clear unsettling chill, "Love is an unacceptable excuse for betraying one's Queen and family." Sparing a momentary glance back towards her brother as he issues command to his squire, she adds calmly, "Let us hope it is mere rumor. A day, Eldrick, it is perhaps all the time we have to conduct a search before acting upon this news. We do not have the luxury of time, not if we are to preserve the standing of the family or solidify our loyalties to the throne." Her shoulders slump slightly with a faint sigh, "I pray you are wrong, Xan. I knew she was foolish and unhappy, but this? If she has gone North, her only hope of survival is to completely align against Lohstren and the Taniford crown. I have no doubt she will do this with little care. Crossing the into Northern lands is in direct violation of the Throne, Xan. It is not exactly a violation we can take lightly."

Eldrick lets out a long, slow breath as he orders his thoughts, eye upon Xander. "Cousin, I hope that you shall not take offense when I say that I earnestly wish that Geoffrey-" his recently departed squire- "Returns with word that you are mistaken, and all is well; that our sister is safely in her chambers and had simply been playing at one of her games by absence. For if she is not, and all that you suspect is borne out.." He looks to Morla, and nods slightly. "We ought send word to Summit Halls. If Collette has betrayed us so, you are right: there can be no pardon. I'll not suffer mother and father to learn of this disgrace by low rumor, or royal herald."

There's a heaving sigh that comes from Xander before the knight considers. "There is this, as well. Prada found these tucked in Arrow's saddle at the stables." he says as he reaches into his waistcoat and pulls out a pair of letters. One is addressed to Dalyros. The other is addressed to their father. "I believe that she left these for you?" he suggests as he sets them down on the table. "If she left her horse, you know.. that she has abandoned the house as a whole." The ceremony of budding is a very serious thing.

Taking the one to Dalyros, he offers it to the two. "I read it." he admits. "It's pretty damning against you both - she says that you stole all of her attention, m'lady, and that m'lord her thoughts are that you felt.. what I believe is incestuous towards your sister and Flower. Good riddance, in my opinion. Should have taken Dalyros with her."

"Perhaps I should send Moirae back with the letters to help ensure that Grandmother does not become further incensed by things," Morla adds in consideration as she winces slightly in anticipation of her namesake's reaction to it all. There's something about the momentary hesitation from Xander that draws her attentions once more with a nod, "She'd no more leave behind her mount than I. But if she has done so, then I will take possession of it and ensure it remains properly cared for." Lifting a delicate hand to press against her temple, the Flower is doing fairly well not to raise her tone, yet as the mention of letters lights upon her, curiosity takes hold inspiring her to reach for the one intended for Dalyros. Eyes widen at the summary as the first signs of color actually rise to mar her alabaster cheeks, "Brave of her to state such things once she has fled."

Of all the suspicions and worries of the last few moments, learning that his youngest sister had abandoned her horse has the most visible effect on Eldrick. His countenance hardens and he answers Xander, "I have lost too many siblings to lightly bid another good riddance, cousin. My regret will not spare her, nor Dalyros, if the crown judges him harshly, though I do regret." That said, he draws a fresh breath and addresses his sister with a nod. "Send Moirae. Justice must be done, unless directed otherwise by the mother or father, when the sun sets on the morrow, so too it shall set on our family's disgrace."

Xander bows his head slightly. "Of course, my apologies, m'lord." the knight offers and straightens up. "If you do not need anything else of Prada and I, I shall escort her to her room and retire myself for the evening?"

Sharing a momentary glance back at her brother, Morla nods solemnly, "We have endured the loss of those that came before, we shall endure this loss as well. I will speak with Moirae after this to make her aware of all so she can properly answer any questions from the Summit." Pale gaze slides over to regard Xander almost sadly, before she adds in a more relaxed manner, "Thank you, Xan. We realize it could not have been easy to report as you have. If you hear anything else, please do keep us informed. If Eldrick has nothing more for you, you may take your leave." The ever silent Varghrem lady is given a faint bow of her head as well, "Thank you, Lady Prada, though we do need to stop meeting over such unfortunate tidings."

Eldrick shakes his head once to Xander. "Only that you send in a page with ink and quill, my lord cousin. I thank you for this truth as well, however sour its deliverance. Lady Prada, my thanks and my sorrows that you must behold so wretched a matter of family as this."

As he starts to leave, Xander pauses. "I do not think Prada minds it so much, m'lord.." he starts to say, and then bites his lip. Into unfamiliar territory he starts to wander. "If anything.. we have mentioned that because of our closeness over the last several months, that perhaps after the Laketown tournament, that we should.." A nervous smile hits the usually confident knight's face and the color hits his own cheeks. "Seek our respective House's approvals to begin the courtship process. As long as it doesn't interfere with either one of our duties." he says and reaches up to run a hand on the stubble of his jawline and frown.

Morla's attentions slide to her brother to study for a moment before taking the lead and looking back towards Xander, "It is definitely an option open for discussion sometime after the tournament. For now, we have a few more pressing matters of consideration. However, the idea is worthy of consideration and shall be given the proper attention once there is time for such things."

Eldrick's only contribution to the possibility is, "If such is your wish, I ask that you keep a chaperone in your company when walking with the Lady, cousin. I have quite had my fill of impropriety and scandal, and do not wish even the shadow of slander to fall upon you."

Xander grins slightly. "We're not the southern whore, cousin. We know where to stand on the right side of propriety." a grin, and there is a flourish of a bow. "Look forward to seeing you again soon." And with that, he slips back out.

No sooner has their cousin slipped out than Morla nearly sinks back into her chair, "Where in the world did we go wrong with her? Even as impulsive and deluded as Daly might have been in his actions, he never would have been so foolish to sell out his house in favor of siding entirely with the Northern Regime. News like this is going to break Mother's heart, and I do not dare wish to think of the anger it shall conjure within Grandmother." She pauses for a moment before sighing deeper, "This is becoming positively absurd."

"To my infinite relief," Eldrick exhales to Xander's promise of propriety and un-whorishness. Once their cousin and the Lady Prada have withdrawn, Eldrick reclaims his seat, steeples fingers before his nose, nods assent with Morla's words and draws a slow breath to stoicly state, "I want very much to break something, at the moment." Letting out the remainder of his breath slowly, he shakes his head. "I do not know, Morla. I simply do not know. On reflection, I rather fancy the idea of warring upon pure magic, as I grasp even that better than such treachery as this."

"She will attempt to lead the wolves to our doors, perhaps not right away, but eventually," Morla adds quietly, "And while I do not believe Auldholme capable of standing against us or our allies, it does not change the fact that she will forever more be an enemy lost to us. Outwardly we will do as we must to maintain our composure upon the matter, but I would be lying if I did not confess that I would like to run her through with my own blade, El." Taking a deeper breath, she continues, "I will not do so, because I am no kinslayer - but it does not mean I do not feel the desire deeply. I wish there was something more to say to alleviate this weight upon us, but I know of no balm to heal a cut struck this deep."

"I know of only one, and it cuts still deeper," Eldrick states woodenly, as his regard shifts from the table between them to Morla's own eye. "If this is all true… She will be no kin to us. If she has done this, she will nevermore be Lohstren."

Bearing silence for a long moment, the Flower nods faintly, "I know." Morla considers the severity of the impending judgment before adding in a quieter manner, "I should prepare Moirae lest she feel left out of the proceedings. She will not wish to leave my detail, but I will assure her that I shall go nowhere without your presence near. While I realize Collette may have deceived her own guards, they will need to be held accountable for the negligence of their charge. Once Geoffrey returns, let me know and I will seek an audience with Her Royal Highness. While I am not rightly concerned how she feels upon the matter, as a courtesy, we should apprise her of the situation."

Eldrick nods. "I will attend to her guardsmen. As soon as Geoffrey returns, I will send you word." The fourth born Lohstren son again draws a slow breath through the nose, before a knock on the door is acknowledged, and the page he had asked Xander to send in arrives. A motion of his hand beckons the retainer closer and inkwell and quill are set within his easy reach. He regards Morla again, but says nothing for a long moment.

Attentions veer towards the door with the arrival of the page, once more summoning the young woman's inner resolve as she rises, "I shall instruct the servants to postpone our dinner until another time, for I have no real appetite anymore. If you wish, I will see to it your meal is delivered and you are left undisturbed." Morla crosses on over to grab her shawl from the back of the chair, "I need to meet with Rae and find a way of breaking this news delicately. Was there anything more you needed of me, El?"

Eldrick shakes his head once at the notion of dinner, and a second time when asked if there is anything further. Dryly he comments, "Everything was so much simpler when all we had to do was drive the Corsairs out of our lands, wasn't it?" A short exhale precedes his final parting words, "That will be all."

Formalities aside, the Flower graceful slides on over to her brother to give him a gentle squeeze upon his shoulders as she leans forward to rest her chin atop his head for a brief moment of affection, "Anything worth having is worth fighting for. We will endure, El, and we will be stronger for it." Taking a deep breath, she releases her touch and slowly makes her way on back towards the door she initially entered - leaving the Lord Protector to his duties.

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