Dawn: Beginning Anew

"Chanicut welcomes your kind words, as do I," Lord Brisbane replies to the princess with a respectful nod. "But know this as a Truth: only our Founders and a handful more have ever returned from audience with Lord Serpent. And even if your hope comes true, he won't be the same. No one can be, after talking to Lord Serpent. The lad we both knew is dead…"

A swirl of energy announces the abrupt arrival in their midst of a third person. He is dressed in a simple gown of green adorned with the sigil of House Chanicut, dark hair standing rakishly out in all directions. He wears the body and face of Kendallarithan of Chanicut, but somehow his aspect is so fundamentally different, it's doubtful his own mother would take him for her son. Most striking of all, they see hollow sockets above high cheekbones where bright aquamarine eyes had once lived, sockets now filled with swirling, glittering blood.

Margot gasps at the sight of him, every fiber of her being demanding she race to him and wrap her arms around his shoulders, hold him close. Relief and love flood through her, mingling with the terror one feels when someone they love has taken a perilous road only to return against all odds. After all, anything and everything is possible in Chaos.

Utterly lost for words, Margot stands frozen, uncertain whether to curtsy, kneel, race to his side, call him lover or sovereign. All she knew is that the father of her child had returned.

For his part, Lord Brisbane seems shocked and even a bit beyond. Whatever his nephew had been before, he wasn't this Serpent-kissed Child now. Thoughts and fears lie bare within the visitor's new sight as Brisbane's thoughts go to a legend so long past as to be almost dust. Once, another who was almost the same had returned only to leave the Halls awash with blood. Gathering his energies, the old Lord looks to his wife, hoping she knew as well and could prepare. Both of them would die, but at least their niece would escape with warning. Chanicut's survival was his only hope…

The new arrival smiles a strange little smile as all this is laid bare before him. "I have no thirst for your blood yet," he says to Brisbane. His voice contains a new resonance so that though he spoke at normal volume, they could feel his words vibrate within their bodies.

He gestures to Margot. "I have come to retrieve something, and to give you a gift," he adds, addressing the uncle who had once shown him great generosity. "Will you accept it, as the mentor of who I once was?"

"In memory of the boy I once knew, yes," is the Lord's answer as his wife rejoins him. Worry and pride crowd her face, yet fear yet coils in her mind. Never had one from her own House survived.

It wasn't until Lord Brisbane spoke and the Lady had aligned herself at her husband's side that Margot found herself drawn to Kendall, taking her own place at his side. Unconsciously, her hands smooth the fabric at her stomach, massaging the flesh beneath with each step.

"Welcome, Kendall," she offers softly, with a warm smile and eyes alight with affectionate trust.

He tilts his head at the greeting given to him by the princess, but remains silent for a time as he sorts through the lines and coils of knowing that tangled and swayed within his otherworldly sight.

"Kiral," he says at last to Brisbane. "Daughter of Zorrn and Elaya. You will bring Kiral to Ulrich, to be Heir to House Chanicut. She alone will keep your House strong." So saying, he gives Brisbane the gift of hope, that the bloody conflict for dominance of Chanicut would be lessened. No less, Brisbane would also reap the benefits that stemmed from identifying the winner before the contest had even begun.

"Kiral?" His once-uncle raises a brow. "Did the Serpent tell you this?" With such an endorsement at hand, it wouldn't take long for her to secure even such a coveted position. Just by naming her, the Serpent Blessed saw enough in this other family member that could prove deadly if anyone protested too much.

"Lord Serpent has shown me where the lines run strongest in Chanicut," is the answer, which is more precisely accurate, though it might not make as much sense. "You may tell Ulrich this, if you desire."

"Of course I will…" Brisbane replies, yet he has to ask. "And your mother, are you not seeing her as well?"

Margot remains quiet, watching the exchange between the men. Where her lover seemed to personify logic and emotionlessness, the princess's eye and face show compassion and joy, aglow and humbled by the words shared between them.

The visitor pauses and lifts a hand to touch Margot's hair, but it is well confined in twisted braids and ribbons so he cannot tangle his fingers in it as had once been his wont. "You will rise with Kiral, and enjoy comforts in your retirement," he answers Brisbane's question. "My sister and I will have conflict, but my mother will rise with me."

He moves his hand to the princess' elbow and his smile grows wider. "Farewell."

With his new Sight, it is a simple matter to locate the spur of energy he had used to arrive in this place, and with another swirl, they are both gone. Their passage through nothingness is brief, a mere breath before Margot finds firm ground beneath her feet again. They stand in a forest clearing somewhere, entirely surrounded by rocks with no visible entrance or exit, though Margot can faintly feel the tug of a way nearby. The blue grass covering the ground is soft as down and the blank sky above the orange and grey trees is green.

Margot glances around, admiring the place, which is just as breath-taking as any of the other places he had shown her before. But, it was still secondary to the transformation of her lover. "Kendall…" she turns to him, taking his hand in hers as she tentatively caresses his face. His face is as cold as his hand.

"You are so cold." Her voice reveals her worry for him.

He looks down at her with sightless eyes, seeing Margot not as flesh but as a tangle of energy and emotion. "The Abyss draws everything from within you when you look upon it, stand above it, give yourself to it," he answers. "Heat, hunger, emotions, will. Some of those may return in time."

"I was so worried," she confesses, taking his hands and pressing them against her face. Her fingers warmly sandwiched his hands against her face. "Your eyes… tell me what happened." She was being strong, not only for him, but for the child she carried. But her heart broke seeing him so gaunt and his glowing blue orbs vanished.

He moves back and away from her, removing his hands from her face. "Lord Serpent gave me new Sight. I will soon depart to take the seat of power in Chaos, the Royal Throne. You have been loyal, and you possess my remaining legacy. Will you come to be my first consort?"

Margot is hurt and confused by his actions that put distance between them when she wanted most of all to offer comfort and support. He can tell she wants to touch him, caress him, bring him the intimate comforts they shared when they spent countless moments talking of things of both import and little consequence. But some instinct prevents her from objecting to his desire for space.

"What happened on your journey, Darling?" she asks instead, hoping the answer may offer some insight. "Tell me of your experiences."

He takes a step, and another, walking about the clearing and looking around with that same, small smile. "Make no mistake. Kendall took on this trial by choice, though he might have chosen another path. Yet with great risk…."

He trails off, and then begins again. "I stood before Lord Serpent, and learned… many things. He granted me greater Sight, sight beyond what my own eyes could have ever gained."

"And the price for that knowledge… Was it acceptable?" she asks softly, watching him as he paces the small space.

The smile fades and he stops, jaw clenching and mouth tightening with anger. "Some prices are impossible to measure before they are paid," he answers, his voice dropping almost to a whisper.

"And how will you know when the debt is cleared?" Margot asked, uncertain as to why there was such a dramatic transition in his emotion.

"Tis impossible to know," he says, the anger draining away into resignation. "But I will be vigilant, nonetheless."

She approaches to press a tender hand to the center of his back. "I know you will be, My Heart," she agrees softly.

Silence fills the space for 10 heartbeats before she speaks again. "I had hoped to ask your uncle to tell me of the Legends of the Unicorn. Do you know these tales?" she asks quietly. "He implied a prophesy by it that I do not know."

"No," is the plain answer delivered on a sigh of breath. Weariness lines his face and shadows his hollow cheeks. He cared nothing for the Unicorn of Amber or tales of the renegade House. "The Loreholders or the Record Keepers, perhaps your lady, Dara, might know of this."

He moves away to sit heavily in the grass and lean against one of the smooth boulders that bounded this quiet space, exhaustion overtaking him temporarily. He draws his legs up, resting his forehead against his knees as thoughts, emotions, energies, inspirations, and ideas swirl in his mind.

She follows him in silence, taking a place next to him on the ground. Removing her delicate shoes and setting them to the side, she also draws legs up and rests her chin upon her knees. With closed eyes, she reached out with her senses, taking in the aromas, textures, and sounds of the clearing. Eventually, she speaks again.

"What's it like… this transition?" she inquired softly.

"I don't remember what it was like before," he confesses, his voice muffled by the fabric of his gown. "I remember that I was someone else, someone who climbed the steps to the Rim of the Abyss. Someone who stood on the high platform and cast his fate into the Void. I remember these things. I know those who held special place in his life and affections, and I know what he knew, but… I do not remember what it was like to be him."

"Now is everything," he continues. "Everything is blackness, yet… also full of light that would blind another. He knew this place, but tis completely new to me. I see nothing as he saw it, but as I see it, all is laid bare."

He lifts his head to stare into the crowded nothingness that pervades his sight and smiles with amazement and wonder. "Everything!" his soft voice is infused with a mixture of joy, triumph, and sadness.

"And what you see… is it beautiful?" she returns with a whisper.

"Tis all things," he says. "Beautiful, horrifying, incomprehensible. I can understand only a fragment of what I see. But I cannot say whether the exchange is worth the price. The price was before, and this is now."

"You said you and your sister would fight… become foes," she says, remembering words from before. "There is so much love between you. Why do you see that as the path of the future?"

"Neither of us is as we once were, and now Power stands between us," he answers. He stands up again with a quick movement, his robe and the grassy stalks rustling. "Tiss time to continue."

"Power between you and she?" Margot asks, seeking clarification. Slipping on her shoes, the Princess rises to stand with him.

"Her new sight is akin to mine, and will ultimately lead her to the same destination." He extends his arm for her to take. "I go now to the seat of influence in Chaos, and you may accompany me if you wish."

"It would be an honor to accompany you," she answers as she accepts his arm. A curious look comes over her expression as she studies Kendall's profile.

"Do you intend to let everyone see you've been Serpent-kissed?" she asks as she stares up at his eyes, a small smile forming. "Or will your beautiful blue eyes return, offering you an advantage over those who try to manipulate the world around you?"

"My previous eyes are no more," he answers. "These are all that remain."

Once she is next to him, another swirl of energy is all that he needs to speed them through nothingness to their ultimate destination.

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All Hail: A New King in Chaos

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