One could hide tens of thousands of men inside the Mydaeni tower, and still it remained hidden to most of the world. Only a handful of men and women used the vast reaches of the tower regularly, and visitors were hardly common. Nevertheless, one had been summoned and was bound to arrive within moments, her emperor already waiting. Entering the tower itself was much like a promotion or an execution, it seemed, with so few knowing its secrets. Given the Lady Arvestus's recent record with the Emperor of Stamaria, it would be unnerving to say the least.
Still, though, Aurinar Stamarin awaited her impending company with perhaps an ounce of satisfaction. The lift to his private quarters was sealed to his command alone, and for this reason he would be meeting her just outside of the portal room in the second-to-highest level of the tower. He did not need a time-keeping device to know she would be there in but moments, and, with the Thunder Crown firmly atop his head, he folded his arms behind his back. As the portal swirled with her entrance, one of the guards spoke to her, "Enter and find the favor of your Emperor, Lady Arvestus."
Post by Steinerman on Nov 23, 2011 18:56:22 GMT -5
Lady Gillian Arvestus, clad as always in her resplendent golden attire, nodded politely to the guard and entered the presence of the Emperor.
Enter and find favor? She hardly thought that was possible. Though in truth, Gillian didn't know why she was here, in this famous, or perhaps infamous, tower.
The past few days had been a blur of action for her as she tended to the fallout from Teradia. Funerals for the fallen Order members had to be seen to, including the newest member of the Sphinx, felled by Korin poison.
To add onto that, her dear friend Michael Saint had not only been grievously wounded, but sent on a new mission that she had no control over.
Trepidation and fear of the unknown were both obvious things she was feeling at the moment, but to show that to the Emperor would be near the height of bad form. And after her disastrous meeting with him outside of Teradia, she could afford no mistakes.
So she entered the room and immediately dropped to one knee in reverence. Glad for once that she preferred the older-fashioned baggy trousers to the full on dresses of the current court. She couldn't imagine trying to kneel daintily while in one of those monstrous dresses.
"Emperor." She greeted softly, her head bowed. Willing to stay in that position until he indicated she should rise or until the world ended, whichever came first.
The Emperor nodded suavely, his face betraying no emotion save perhaps the crack of a smile edging at his lips. His pleasure did not stem from her obedience, necessarily, though she was welcome to think as such, but rather from where he had her now. It had been a risk utilizing the Order of the Blade for Teradia as he had, and nearly all of his advisers had put word against it; some even accredited the loss of the city to the use of the Order instead of something like the Paragon. While Stamarin regretted the loss of the city, it had already been done with. In reality, the Order's failure to secure Teradia moved his own plans for the Order along nicely. There was a time for everything, though, and now was the time for a gentler hand.
"Rise, Lady Arvestus, and follow," his voice rumbled through the room, and the giant of a man turned, confident in her obedience. Walking toward the lift that led to his own quarters, he allowed her to board before he did as well. Even fewer followed the Emperor into his own private room, but now was a time for extending trusts as well. With the grunt of a single, unintelligible syllable, the elevator rose the final height into the highest place in the tower.
Leaving the lift, he broke his silence to her, now that they had reached their destination, "My generals tell me Teradia was a failure, Lady Arvestus, that my choice of troops let the Harbinger slip through our fingers. Some even say that I should end your Order, cut it off like a malignant outgrowth. He took a long pause, letting his words sink in. These were, after all, likely her worst fears right now. Finally he spoke again, fully facing her and meeting her eyes, "But I exceed my generals, both in power and mind, and I do not believe that I chose incorrectly. I do not believe the Order of the Blade failed. Some say the Order's potential never recovered from the loss of their leadership, but still you stand here in my favor. Truly, if you did not stand in it then you would not be standing at all. Tell me, Lady Arvestus, how have you succeeded when your blood before you failed?"
Unlike their last encounter, Aurinar's words were now filled with warmth, and his expression with sincerity. The question was not an easy one to answer, and if she could answer it adequately he might not even have summoned her all the way to Tenamon; still he asked, although softer than might have been expected from a man that size. It was of the utmost importance she understand where any hope of life came from, though.
Gillian didn't bother to hide the awe in her expression at being in the Emperor's personal chambers, she knew he could tell either way. her eyes were opened wide with shock, she had not expected this, nor the question he posed to her.
Her mouth moved, though no words came out at first as she tried to understand and reply. Finally, thinking of nothing else to say, she spoke, her voice both soft and pleading at the same time.
"I beg the Emperor's forgiveness, but I do not know the answer to that question."
She bowed her head solemnly and waited for his reply, presumably a harsh one, if she had to guess.
Good. For all Aurinar's wit and power, it still took focus to keep a step ahead all those he was above; a daunting task far beyond any other responsibility. Gillian Arvestus and her order would be clay in his hands by the time all was done. The next part was key, though. "You stand here without weight of death on your shoulders, Lady Arvestus, because my word is the law. As he spoke now, magic touched his words, imbuing them with the same power he used in many of his speeches; men who listened to the Emperor's words would often find themselves enthralled by them, even if they were confused or otherwise indifferent beforehand.
"I hold the lives of you and all your Order in my hand, but instead of destruction it will bring protection. In you I see something different, Lady Arvestus: loyalty. I see a Stamarian in you that serves your nation before yourself, and that is the type of soldier I value. In the coming days Stamaria will push harder than it has before to unify the world, as we always have sought to. I need men and women who are dedicated, not just skilled; it does me no good to have the best fighters in the world who I cannot trust. Will your Order stand with Stamaria, Lady Arvestus?"
Gillian's expression became somewhat puzzled, as though she thought his question didn't need to be asked at all. She'd grown so tired of having the Order's loyalty to Stamaria questioned that her instinctual response was to behave as though the answer to the question was obvious.
"My loyalty will be to Stamaria until my dying breath, Emperor. The Order will see Stamaria through the troubled times ahead or die in the attempt, we will not falter."
She put as much earnest loyalty into her words as she could muster, pushing to the back of her mind the small, nagging thoughts that here was the Empire that had executed her parents and brought a hellish war to the world. That small part of her mind said her words rang hollow, but she couldn't allow that to be true. She was a servant of the Empire and would remain so unto death.
Perhaps it was really true? Unlikely, but... perhaps. Aurinar did not much care for it, but like it or not the Order of the Blade would have to be trusted for all the pieces to move into place. A risk that had to be taken indeed. He spoke with all the might of the Emperor of half the earth, "Then I will see you held back no longer. It is within all the power that I hold to bestow upon you the rank of Knight Arrant, lady Arvestus. You will report directly to me, from now on, and hold rank above any other on the battlefield. Request, and you will receive. Command, and my men will follow you."
Knight Arrant. For all the composure and resolve of Aurinar Stamarin, the rank still held weight. There were few other Knight Arrants in existence, perhaps the most notable of them being Jordan DuValle. Knight Arrants held the command of every battle and were above any noble in caste. With such authority, Gillian Arvestus could very will destroy a good portion of his Empire before he could stop her. A risk indeed. Aurinar moved over to a conference table that was set up, displays blank but ready to act on his command. There was much to be discussed with his new Knight.
For a moment, the world seemed to stand still and hold its breath. Gillian Arvestus, daughter to traitors, pariah of the Stamarian Nobility, elevated to the rank of Knight Arrant? In different circumstances, she might have laughed at the sheer irony of the situation. She now outranked all those who had mocked and shunned her, and were she so inclined, she could make their lives miserable.
Of course, she wasn't so vindictive. The thought was gone as quickly as it had come, replaced instead by a feeling of great weight. With such a rank came a monstrously huge responsibility to the Empire, and most certainly to the Emperor. She had a duty to the citizens of the Empire even more so now that she held the rank.
Her mind worked through all of this in that one instant, and then as though with the push of the button, the world suddenly exploded back to life, the stress of the situation coupled with the sudden promotion gave everything a vivid, striking feeling. Her body reminding her that it was good to be alive.
"I am honored, my Emperor." She said, curtsying low and keeping the position until he had moved away. From there, she followed him to the table and moved to stand opposite him, ready to aid him if she could in his plans.
Last Edit: Jan 16, 2012 18:24:03 GMT -5 by Steinerman