Final Encounter: Kendall and Louella

It is later in the same day that the young Chaos Lord departs the Chanicut sanctuary for another meeting with another woman. This woman was quite different than the pretty, naive princess he had just sent on her way. Reining in that line of thought, he purposely puts Margot out of his mind so that he can concentrate fully on the task ahead. It had taken quite a lot of time and effort on his part to arrange this, and he felt the heavy burden of responsibility clinging to his shoulders as he prepared himself.

The location that had been decided on for this meeting was a small sitting room; neutral ground apart from the fact that everything here was of Amber. In any event, he had elected not to meet with the Lady Louella in either her own stronghold of Knights, or the solitary tower that Chanicut called their home away from Chaos. In the same vein, he had taken care with his dress, choosing to wear a simple deep blue shirt belted at the waist with smokey grey trousers tucked into black boots. There are no decorations, no insignias or embroidery, no green velvet robe, nothing that would identify him to untrained eyes as a Chaos Lord of House Chanicut.

Kendallarithan arrives early, so that he is waiting in the chamber for the lady to appear, briefly at loose ends and wondering if she would attend at all. He manages to remain still rather than pace or nervously inspect the objects on tables only through long training and practice, while Time dragged Her heels as She paced around the room. Instead, he stands by the fireplace to study the painting above the mantle; a ship crests wave on a stormy sea below roiling clouds and driving rain, the image so brilliant an observer might expect to feel a spray of water.

The silence of the chamber is abruptly broken by the clinking of heavy latch, and the door opens to reveal the Lady Louella herself, escorted by two of her fellow Queen's Knights. They check the room before leaving, and the only exchange is a hateful look from Louella to them as the door shuts. From the empty scabbard upon her belt, Morgana seems to have her errant knight on a short leash. Only the slight increase of her breasts gives away any outward sign of her condition.

"Lady Louella, thank you for coming," the young Chaosian greets her, bowing from his place by the fireplace. He stands straight, expression serious, and simply waits silently for her to make the next move.

"I have no choice," she bites back, her mood as foul as last time he saw her.

Kendall still makes no move towards her or to be seated, clasping his hands behind his back. "Please make yourself comfortable, if you will. I do not want to conduct this meeting in an official capacity, I merely wished to talk to you, if you will permit, and have you tell me what it is that troubles you." He pauses, looking at her keenly from across the room. "That you bear me great hatred is obvious. What is not obvious, at least to me, is the basis for your hatred beyond the obvious results of our… encounter."

Louella doesn't take his suggestion, she remains standing as she replies. "We of the Ten Thousand are from a previous time, when Chaos was like the ocean upon our shores." Her eyes get that faraway look of someone remembering. "Wave after wave did they spend. We were the rocks upon which they broke. Once we numbered to our name, but you and your kind took them away… till a mere three thousand of us are left." Louella turns the hate upon him. "You did ask, so I will say… I have 7,231 real, personal, reasons to hate you."

"That is fairly stated," he acknowledges, still leaving the length of the room between them. "Yet your explanation begs the question of why the war even began. Why did Amber forsake the Courts to become renegade? It may be the Houses had cause. Would you enlighten me on that point?"

She smirks at his question and her dark mood lessens just a little. "Would it matter, this cause you try so hard to find… if instead of Amber, we were talking about your House? Your family upon the block, tortured in the field, hacked so much you can't even identify the body?" Louella reaches for where her sword would have been, fingers caressing a hilt that isn't there. "The Children of the Unicorn turned their back upon the Serpent, upon their lies… and you hated us for that."

Kendall has to think on her question, empathy not being his strong suit. Then he shakes his head, waving his hand dismissively. "Causes and effects," he answers. "Betrayal demands retribution, and bitterness belongs to the fallen. That is the only version of the story I have. I asked for more, out of respect and curiosity, to pursue understanding. It is your choice not to answer."

"Then I am not the one you need to ask," she answers, crossing her arms to demonstrate her firmness of this position.

"Very well," he answers, not surprised at being stonewalled. "However, that is not what brings me to this meeting with you." He pauses, searching for words. "I would like to speak to you regarding… our offspring."

"I've already made my wishes clear to the Queen. I want nothing from your House…even your involvement with my son," is Louella's reply, laced with venom and hate.

Kendall takes an involuntary step forward, though still with the distance of the room separating them from each other, and his eyes brighten with excitement at reference to a son. But then his expression darkens, though he keeps his voice calm and even as he replies. "I am not here to reiterate an offer you have clearly refused. Yet I also have specified my desires on this matter to the Queen, and my claim is at the very least… equal to yours. Even so, when last we spoke, you also made clear that my child is solely an unwelcome burden and your only desire is to rid yourself of it. I do want my son, and cannot see any benefit to your keeping custody of a child you detest, save merely to spite me."

"You speak of spite like an ill, yet I've seen your kind do that very thing when we were defeating them," Louella growls back. "And I have come to realize, if I can not end it or myself, then perhaps this is a test, from She, the Holy of the Holiest." She pats her belly with some affection, but not like a expectant mother… more like a pet. "He could be the very one that puts fire to your halls one day."

Kendall stares at her with a tiny smile on his face for five full heartbeats. And then, unexpectedly, he laughs.

The sound of the Chaos Lord's humor is twisted and mocking, full of irony. "Oh, but this is too delightful," he says when he regains control of himself. "It may even be worth leaving you to your work, though my son be the cause of my House's downfall. To be that which transforms you into what you most hate? Such a sweet irony. I salute you, Lady Louella."

He bends to give her a deep and flourishing bow. "Truly, you are a fine example of Amber's nobility here in the multiverse's sole bastion of decency and honor."

"Mock me not, fiend!" Louella growls back, flexing her hands in fury at being denied her sword. "I am not like you. I will offer a choice to the boy. If the day comes when your Halls burn, it will be his own choice that dropped the torch."

Kendall slowly begins to pace around the room while still giving her a wide berth, hands clasped behind his back. His smile remains, though his eyes as he watches her are sharp and cold. "Surely you jest," he says. "Else you tempt me to declare Amber's greatest strength comes from twisting falsehoods into truth — another trait you undoubtedly would attribute to those of Chaos. Here, my son would be raised amongst those who not only bear me and my House a great hatred, but who thrive on it, drinking the bitter juices of spite and rage as though they be the very nectars of life. Here, he would be raised the despised child of a mere Knight, living with shame and torment from the likes of his own mother who plans even now only to shape him into a weapon of vengeance for an act in which she freely engaged — the child now the victim of her own self hatred and remorse."

His ends his circuit of room the near the door, where he stops to face her once more. "Whereas I offer him the life of a prince, living amongst refinement and grace, privilege and duty, his mother respected and honored as the one who gave him life and opportunity. He would have the best of education, every comfort he would desire, and the structure of my House to nurture his spirit."

"And will your God love him?" she asks, her words sharpened by the hate now stoked even hotter by his words. "For here, he will be!"

"Feh!" he responds to that, a sound of utter scorn. "And what benefit has the love of the Unicorn brought to you apart from this test of motherhood which you will surely fail. Apart from 7,231 deaths to mourn and reasons to hate. Apart from a country ravaged by sorcery, blood, and war. And now, apart from Chaosians in the very castle as guests of your King!"

He pauses for the space of two heartbeats to let those thoughts hover before adding, "For that matter, what concern have you for love bestowed on my son? What causes you to believe the Unicorn will love the spawn of a Chaos fiend, a creature of the Abyss? Unless… you actually do care for the babe?" he asks more slowly, voice softening to silk.

His smile turns vicious as he leans forward, staring into her eyes. "You? Love a demon spawn? Are your feelings in spite of his origin? Or perhaps… because of it! Was your true wish made fact in the Veil while we were together — that you hungered for a child of Chaos, and lay with me to bring to life your secret desire?"

Whatever ploy Kendall had brewing, it seems to have succeeded far more then he had contrived. Louella screams in rage, her face twisted in a maddening pose. If she had been a Hendrake's Maiden, she would have already been in demon form ripping off his head. Yet what Louella does is no less surprising.

Thrusting out her hand, she reaches into a place where Reality itself shifts and a sword appears. Its blade glows with pure, brilliant white light that hisses and smokes in its own fury. A sword forged by the very same Goddess Kendall had just questioned. And with a wordless howl, Louella launches herself at Kendall in rage to avenge the hurt of his words. She no longer need respect the Oath spoken, knowing instead by the gift of her sword that she has been forgiven and praised.

Surprise freezes him for those first critical heartbeats, but then training comes to his aid and his body reacts without the benefit of conscious thought. He dodges to avoid the blade and moves to her off side to attempt to trip her up. Yet even as he dodges her first swing, something strikes him strange, not of the irony of this situation but the way she moves. He has seen these forms before, in the past, upon other raging women locked in bloody combat.

Then the memory forms: Sar'Kun… the dance of blood lust from the Hellmaidens in House Hendrake. Berserkers, their own flesh weighed as nothing against the deaths of their opponents and any nearby. He had once witnessed a match between two practitioners of Sar'Kun in the Blossom Pits deep in the bowels of Thelbane.

Memory returns of fighters hacking themselves beyond repair, staying off Death's Hand till hardly able to move, yet even then trying to sink teeth into their opponents in their rage and defiance. Glorious and sickening at the same time, a lesson his elders forced him to observe to display the dangers of uncontrolled emotion. Yet the young Lord couldn't forget the stark and cruel beauty of their madness.

Sar'Kun, Riders of the Storm.

Tis this, not his mind elsewhere, nor even his defense as he brings up his dagger to parry the burning white-hot blade coming for a slice. It's this art, its forms, that sinks the punch into his other side with enough force to burst an organ. He takes the full force of the blow against his vulnerable human form. Stunned by the blinding pain, momentum knocks him off balance towards her shining blade, but reflexes help him once more.

Kendall's legs fold and he drops down under the slice from her blade where he stabs her at the junction of thigh and knee. Above his head, her sword screams for his blood as does she. His counter-blow is hardly even felt, and Louella does an Esua' sword flip, making a downward stroke possible. Her free hand grips the hilt to lend its force when Louella plunges her sword dead center in his chest.

But as the sword comes around to center on the killing stroke, he's able to shake off the last vestiges of surprise by the suddenness of her attack. Analysis flitting through his mind so quickly it couldn't be accurately tracked, he holds his position, waiting those crucial heartbeats while she brings the sword to bear while hastily shifting his right arm.

A tiny shift in weight and stance is his guide. He raises his right arm, skimming the blade across his now hardened forearm to channel her force and weight past him as he twists to his feet behind her. But in those crucial heartbeats as their bodies pass each other, his mistake takes form. Though his dodge gives him time to get up and behind her rather than being pinned to the floor like some rabid Gorucl*, he can see the sword spin around. Caught off balance, he has no way to parry the sword point that thrusts Louella's hatred into his groin.

A mere span of two fingers deep, yet its impact is not like any he has endured before. His punctured flesh goes into spasms and then stills… not paralyzed like a toxic known, but horribly static. Poisoned by Her Love, by the glow that dances about the sword Louella now swings back to take his life. This halo of promised paradise, he realizes, is the deadliest poison to his kind.

And he, Kendall of House Chanicut, has now all the clues to know the truth. Evil She is, this Horned One, wrapping her chains tight about her beloved children and their servants. The hidden hook within each link sinks deep within each of them, the burrowing barbs far worse than even his mother could ever create. And now She, this White Bitch, has Her hooks in him!

Pain. Fury. Fear. Panic. Raging emotions threaten a paralysis even more deadly than the Unicorn's own loving poison. All must be pushed aside. Very seldom has he ever called upon the Serpent, but now he brings the image of that great Being into his heart.

He has no time to compose even a hasty prayer. He merely reaches out in urgent desperation to summon the power of Its terrible Presence into his body to combat the paralysis wrought by Amber's Patron. And in those feverish and yet timeless heartbeats, her back left exposed after her quick thrust, he applies dagger to neck to sever her spinal cord and render her harmless.

He cuts precisely…and that is the only thing that goes right for Kendall in that moment. Louella doesn't flinch, doesn't dodge; instead she accepts his blow with welcome. The manic rage and her sword are both gone in a instant when, with a crack of Power, the Serpent's energy travels up his arm and burns through her neck. The sound of her body tumbling to the floor breaks the sudden silence.

Pain and fury change in a flash to shock and amazement. Kendall stands motionless for five very fast heartbeats as his brain tries to make sense of what had just happened. But there was no time. He drops to his knees next to the body as the door crashes open to admit Louella's fellow Knights. Cursing in his own tongue and paying no heed as they surround him with swords drawn, he drops the dagger and lays bloody fingers against her injured neck in a desperate attempt to extend his own healing ability into abused flesh and keep her from fading.

His attempt to save the maiden from the grave is rudely interrupted by Louella's peers. He barely hears their screams and howls, and it takes more then two to drag him away from her body. But the pommel of another ghastly sword hitting his forehead finally ends the battle. All becomes darkness.


*An abyssal beetle, size of your hand. Found in most Court households, considered a pest mostly but some Houses do employ them for certain tasks like pest control. In its mating season, is known to attack whomever near in blind fury. Children usually nail them to the floor and tease them or set up fights between pairs.

Back to the list of Kendall's game threads
Interrogation by the Queen

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