Consequences

"My assistance is only this advice: flee, Milady. Flee as fast, and as far as possible," urges Dara. "Take no one and nothing with you. It's possible then House Chanicut would overlook your involvement in this situation."

Dara raises a hand to forestall the coming protests. "We are outsiders here, and if events come to pass as I expect, I don't see much hope for your Lord Kendall. In Hendrake, perhaps he would survive, but here in House Chanicut, such moments of passion are strongly discouraged."

"And if I stay?" Margot asked, wanting to weigh all options.

"That I do not know," is the answer. "Perhaps you will suffer the same fate as your lover. Or you may be cast aside, given to another, traded to another House, even released. But you no longer matter in this drama, for this is inner House politics in its purest form. Only Kendall will be able to help Kendall, yet it be ten times worst if his brother dies."

Margot listens carefully before asking the next question. "What if we had a place to retire to?"

"For what?" Dara asks. "Only another major house could face Chanicut on the field with any hope, and his father gains nothing by showing mercy. So you had best remember the story of this manor."

"For time. For… for turning the circumstance to our advantage," Margot persists, trying to think of possibilities no matter how off the wall. She needed more than a Negative Nelly telling her that it was hopeless. She could do that all on her own without Dara's assistance.

"It's not the situation, it's the person," Dara asserts. "It's Kendall himself you would be turning!"

"I don't understand what you're saying. Or not saying," Margot declares as she rises from her seat to begin pacing about the room, hardly noticing when the door to the suite opens without even a single knock. "Chaos is a place of possibilities. Reality is what we make it."

"Yet sometimes we must navigate through other people's realities, rather than our own," Kendall interjects. He is upright and moving with his own power, but he is terribly pale, which makes his black hair seem even darker. He is also resplendent in rich clothing of black, green, and gold. Dressed to meet a king.

"Kendall!" she gasps, nearly choking on his name as she moves toward him. But she stops short, still uncertain. "They wouldn't let me come to you, and I didn't know what to do."

The soft confession weighed with words far more pained than simply being locked in her room. She looks at him, her head tipping and eyes widening as she tries not to let tears loose. The fingers of one hand cover her lips while the other comes up to gently caress his cheek. "You are weak and should be in bed."

He smiles, perhaps attempting to reassure her, but the expression does not suit his gaunt face. He shakes his head once, taking her hand from his cheek and bringing it to his lips. He kisses her fingers and then lets their joined hands fall to their sides. "No time. There is much to be done to help you escape."

"Escape? Why? I've done nothing wrong…" she says with certainty, yet searching his eyes for the truth. "And I won't leave you, or without you. I did not cross the multiverse at your side to go anywhere without you. I don't know what happened, but there is more than one side to a tale. I believe in you… I believe in us. I will not abandon you."

Margot's tone is adamant and her fingers squeeze his as she speaks. No tears, no fear, just her burning conviction and loving loyalty aflame in her eyes, even though the feline's words whispered in her mind, haunting her thoughts. An odd smile curls her lips, the sort of wildcard expression that she had donned more than once. "Besides, aiding and abetting an alleged criminal must have far stricter penalties. My conscience will not let you take responsibility for what I've done."

He shakes his head, not sure whether to be amused. But no matter what, he couldn't quite suppress a little quirk of the lips. "Not you, Margot," he says. "No one has yet said you have done wrong, but association with me has now become a far more risky proposition."

"It has always been a risky proposition," she returns with an arched brow.

"No, Margot, not like this. Not like now," he says, all amusement falling away.

"I don't know what happened between you and your brother, or who that woman was that took him away. But I do know that Cedric used deception to get you to leave Silver."

"None of that matters now," he asserts. "The only thing that matters between me and Cedric is that I struck first."

"But… why?" the princess asks, confused.

"I have received word that my father fears a coup," he explains. "I have gravely injured my brother, and other events apparently seem to fit, in his mind. Anyone associated with me or supporting me risks equal retribution."

"But I'm the one incarcerated," she objects, even more confused. "Your brother tried to…sway me, but I was not the easy mark he expected and he abandoned me to someplace terrifying. Based on what little I know of circumstance, with you standing here and your brother fallen, does not being the Better of the two matter? I saw his temper. How quickly he was to rage. Is that what your father would want as his successor rather than someone skilled in mediation and persuasion? What of your mother? Cedric bemoaned how you were favored by her…"

He shakes his head and then grabs the nearby back of a chair for support as a wave of dizziness passes over him from the motion. His head bows and he closes his eyes as Margot places a steadying hand on his arm.

"That's not how it works, Margot. I'm sorry, but it's complicated, and I haven't much time to explain. Your arrest is incidental because your Magick triggered the alarms. But even had that not happened… nothing else matters, Margot. Just trust me. It may not make sense to you, but I know my House, and I know my father."

"Then… take me with you to meet your father and have a voice. My Heart, you do not have to face this alone," she pleads, attempting to support his weight and bring his face to hers. "I won't let harm come to you… not for something that was my fault. And I won't lose you, not after all we've endured. All we've shared. Promises and vows. Words of Power." Her voice falls to a whisper, her voice too overwhelmed with emotion to convey the conviction and determination she felt.

Kendall is silent for several heartbeats, regaining equilibrium before he opens his eyes. The weakness passes for now, and he stands straight once more. "Turn around, Margot," he says, not addressing anything else they had already said. "All else aside, I must deal with the kel'tha."

"What is the kel'tha?" she asks, searching his eyes.

Hands on her shoulders turn her around when she dallies. "These silken threads identify that you used Magick of unknown origin to gain entrance to the manor near one of our ways. Had you not already been introduced as my guest, and Rory not been there to speak for you, your incarceration may not have been so comfortable. I can remove them, however…"

So saying, he takes one of the threads in his fingers and stains it with a drop of blood before extending his will into the weblike lattice of energy that surrounded the princess. Space around Margot seems to shift and turn the world off kilter, though she doesn't move. The air around her tenses as if everything inhales, energy balancing on the head of a pin for three agonizing heartbeats. And then, with a psychic snap that makes her flinch, the spell breaks.

The energy backlash of the broken spell whips out like released springs to flail against the Chaos Lord, and he steps back to sit heavily in a chair. Only one of the Blood and Power of Chanicut could have broken this spell with such relative ease, but there were still consequences. A curse slips past Margot's lips as she spins around to help him into the chair, falling on her knees next to him.

"You could have warned me!" she complains. "You're in no condition to be breaking shackles, even if they are silken. Take from me, whatever you need. You are not healed enough to face whatever ordeal you are about to face, and you are being stubbornly foolish to not allow support. Even if it is from only a Houseless guest."

Kendall reaches into a pocket in his clothing, his fingers fumbling a bit until he finds what he's searching for. The blood on his hand dabs against the crystal and with a mental twist he activates the energy within. Energy flows from crystal and into his body, infusing him with the needed strength to speed up his natural healing and finally reknit sinew and muscle. It was not quite enough for a full recovery from the dire wounds inflicted by his brother's Bane blade. Enough to reduce acute pain to lingering aches, though, and to feel as though he wouldn't tear in two if he moved too quickly. Breathing becomes easier as pain recedes again to more manageable levels, and he brings his free hand up to stroke her head under all the fancy hairdo.

"Now you may leave safely," he tells her, ignoring her offer. "If you had gone beyond these walls with the kel'tha still attached, they would have bound and smothered you."

She blinks back angry tears, trying to understand and not finding anything sensible in the words being spoken. She meets his gaze with a fierce expression. "I will not allow it. I will not allow you to meet your fate at less then your full potential. Use my energy. I am your companion and…and…I'll not have my will ignored. I am a Princess of Amber," she declares through a tight jaw.

He shakes his head, giving her that strangely humorless smile that often graced his lips. "No, it really would be wiser if I did not use your energy at this point. For both of us. I only hope I have burned off all that I took before, so I am not found to be tainted by it."

"Tainted?"

The room gives a sudden shudder, the cup on a nearby table slopping its contents to stain the table red. Before anyone can react, the room trembles a second time, sending things swaying or dumping things about. After the third tremor, a harsh buzzing noise fills the room that sounds like a thousand angry bees flying about. To Kendall alone, heir to the powers of his House, the buzzing held information.

"Way Gate, breached… Unknown Invaders!"

The Chanicut Lord's attention instantly leaves Margot, his eyes going distant as he listens to the messages humming around them. The princess' questions are lost in the flood of details that follow, details necessary to the defense forces: numbers, weapon types, tactics. They would use only bio-weapons like the Xurin cannon they had set up in the shattered way, deadly only to living flesh. Clearing opposition, and setting up a beachhead even as the Manor Soldiers try their best to wipe them out and secure the gate again.

Kendall pushes himself to his feet and straightens his clothes before pulling something else from another pocket. He extends to Margot what looks rather like a twisted version of an old style skeleton key, a skeleton key made of ashes that looks like it would blow away if she breathed too hard on it.

"Take this," he directs her. "You will probably need it. It will get you out of the manor, and I've keyed it to take you to someplace… relatively safe. Safe enough to survive and escape. If you choose to stay here, that is your prerogative. I have no more time to argue with you."

Margot looks at her Lady, the Hellmaiden, and then back to her lover. "We will assist for as long as we are able and then we will leave when we are able to do no more," she assures him.

"No, Margot. I will not be fighting. I will be surrendering," Kendall tells her, voice once more calm and matter of fact. "You may depart now, and it is quite possible that our forces will be too busy to pursue. Or you may stay and go into custody with me."

"Why are you surrendering?" she asks, even more confused than before.

He gives her a blank look, confused by her confusion and unable to give his full attention to clarification while also listening to the information still buzzing around them. "My choices are the same as yours, Margot. To surrender or flee. I have chosen to stay. This is my House."

"My place is with you, Kendall. I traveled the Multiverse to do so. I turned my back on my family when I left Amber." Her tone is calm and sober. "There is no place for me if not here."

She turns to Dara. "You will see Desrianne out of here alive, well, and to a place where she can live out the end of her days in comfort. Go. Now."

"And what if Desrianne refuses to leave your side?" Dara asks. "Or even me, since my bargain with your Mother does contain some clauses, such as seeing that you not die in Chaos."

The buzz grows louder, announcing hostile demons had been released into the manor. Wicked little Grems that would go about wreaking disorder in the systems of the Manor. Thorn Hounds would look for the weak and defenseless to kill, forcing the manor guards to redeploy. A handful of others, all of various uses in this situation even as his own manor demons engage and do battle.

While the others argue, Kendall pulls a certain ring from one finger. One more drop of his blood is all that is needed to do something he had never give much thought to before. Oh, he'd thought about it a little bit, of course, tossing the idea around in his head like a buoy amongst choppy waves. But he had not yet taken sufficient steps to proceed to success and so here he was, instead, holding the signet of his House and placing one drop of blood on the green stone set therein. He brings the ring to his lips, kissing it and speaking a word so softly not even Dara could hear it.

The ring transforms instantly, the gem turning black as the hole where betrayers were thrown to die or live with their guilt and regret. Golden wings erupt from the metal, and Kendall sends the new ring beast on its way with a gentle toss. It springs from his hands with wings whirring and flies to the closed door where it pauses for just a heartbeat before passing through the stone, like knowing like.

"She is an innocent," Margot is saying. "I will not have her blood spilled here. Return if you must."

With an eye-roll, Dara removes herself from the room. At least she could console herself that Margot would not be there to stop her from killing anyone that got in her way, some small comfort to the coming task. It occurs to her that perhaps Kendall's own servant Rory would be the one who objected when Dara found Desrianne. That thought brings a smile.

Margot's attention returns to Kendall after Dara departs. "Are you able to send word to call off the attack?" There was a primal sense about her that hadn't existed before; the scent of a Power not born of Chaos or Amber's Pattern enveloped her.

He doesn't answer. Indeed, he doesn't appear even to have heard her question. Instead, he stands still as a frozen wave staring at nothing and hardly appearing even to breathe as he listens with tense interest to news borne on the gentle winds of the manor. A dozen of his heartbeats pass, and then a dozen more, before the buzzing announces better news. The attacking forces were retreating back into the gate. Now they were deploying truce beacons to signal their intent to merely hold.

Then finally comes news of an arrival, though not of someone he would have expected. A girl child approached, clothed in mourning. His second cousin Tia had been sent to accept his surrender and be his escort, for even in the greatest of falls, Kendallarithan was still of Chanicut. That alone brought forth respect and honor. No chains yet, provided he cooperated; just the proper chaperone to his father.

Not until he knows the tide has shifted somewhat does he take a breath, releasing air and tension together. He looks at Margot, and nods. "My escort is coming, and I will go to meet her. Come now, if you insist," he says. His tone and expression are firm and unyielding as he continues. "However, bear in mind, this is a matter within Chanicut. Your role in this… Do not try to help me, Margot; it will not go well for either of us."

"I understand. But you must bear in mind that I am an ally, not the enemy," Margot agrees, meeting his gaze with one of equal strength, unwavering. Perhaps she had simply become accustomed to his brusque ways, or she was not frightened of what lay ahead. Or maybe her complete devotion blinded her to the hardened role of Chanicut Lord, allowing her to see only the man she knew was not at fault for what had transpired.

"I know you are trying to protect me, but I was brought into this matter the moment Cedric tricked you so that he could attempt to manipulate me to his fancy," she reminds him. "Whether you like it or not, I am involved by his hand and actions. And I may be able to provide counsel and alternatives should there be opportunity."

He stares at her for five more heartbeats, expression closed and unreadable. Then he releases her hand so he can push the collar of his robe aside and place the key she had rejected against the skin covering his heart. Once there, it melded with his flesh to become what it was meant to be — an invisible and undetectable last-ditch fail safe for someone of his House. Whether he would have opportunity or desire to use it, one could not say; there were always too many variables to account for.

Kendallarithan gives Margot a little half bow, and then opens the door for them both. Walking side by side, they proceed into the hall to meet their escort.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
Invitation to an Execution

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