Shocking Revelation

His search doesn't take long… finding Lady Louella de' Adriel guarding a door within the Castle. She isn't in armor, yet her sword and fighting dagger is about her waist. A red badge about her throat, for it seems our fair Louella has been appointed to the Queen's Guard.

Kendall stops at the door, a little surprised to see her there. He had not expected to encounter her, so found himself temporarily at a loss. He fills the pause with a small bow. "Lady Louella de'Adriel," he hails her.

A frown is her only reply, though he gives him a perfunctory bow in return — more a nod of her head. The hands about her sword hilt tightens their grip as if she has suddenly come under great stress. But as Kendall studies her, he perceives some difference in her aspect. Almost a glow and even her hair has grown out and now curls about her shoulders.

Kendall smiles at her lack of common courtesy, finding it perversely amusing. "I must say you appear in good health. Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank you again for holding to your duty so strongly when we found ourselves lost in the Veil."

Her cheeks redden and he cocks his head to the side, analyzes her like a scientist studies his favorite lab rat. He waits patiently for her to say something, and silence reigns for 10 more heartbeats before she finally relents.

"Greetings, Lord Kendallarithan," she answers, keeping in proper form with a chilly tone. "I trust your time in Amber has been pleasant."

Kendall bows a second time to acknowledge her tardy reply. "Thank you. Yes, Amber has been a most gracious host thus far. I hope you do not regret your dedication, for I have been finding my stay unexpectedly enjoyable."

"In Duty, there are no Regrets," she answers stolidly.

Kendall frowns in thought. "That is the common saying, is it not?" He nods, as though reminding himself of something. "Yes, that was an unfair question, and unworthy of you. I hope you will accept my apology."

"At one time in the past, mayhap. Now I'm not so sure," she replies, still cool but firm."Yet I need not accept apology for what I did not find bruising."

He thinks about her answer a moment, crossing his arms and tucking his hands into his sleeves. "I see. So apparently this lowly Chaos Lord has in some way managed to offend you, even in his absence?" The irony is back in his tone. "I see now the reason I was detailed to this assignment."

"Yes, in every morning I find reason to curse you for your offense," Louella says with unrestrained spite, as if indeed he has done her a great wrong.

Kendall's amusement slips, allowing a moment of unguarded perplexity to show on his face. Though he knew she didn't actually like him, he could think of no particular offense he had committed to make her loathe him. But then he catches himself, his expression regaining its aloofness.

"In that case, I recommend avoiding mornings," he counters lightly. "Time designations are by their nature arbitrary."

His words just infuriate her more, driving home how truly alien the Chaosian is. Biting her lips so hard in her rage, she almost draws blood. A long breath is taken, then she lets it hiss out like a threat. "Is there anything else?" Louella asks.

"Indeed not," Kendall replies, becoming the cool and distant diplomat once more. "Except a request that you inform me whether there is a means to relieve the distress that I have caused. House Chanicut wishes smooth relations with Amber."

"There is nothing your House could do that would correct it!" she spits out like a poison from her mouth. "I will do what is necessary with my Sisters, you no longer need to concern yourself about it!"

Kendall pauses a moment, staring off into space to think, before replying. Though he would really prefer to let the matter drop, House honor compels him to continue. "Quite the contrary," he finally says, almost unwillingly. "You have brought your displeasure to my attention. If indeed you had wished no involvement from House Chanicut, you should have said nothing of the matter to me. It is now my… duty… to attend to the matter."

He pauses another moment before adding, "Perhaps you would find it easier to speak privately. I give my word as the Second Son of Chanicut that no harm is intended from my words or deeds."

Kendall's concern seems only to cause Louella to lose control, screaming at him, "IF I COULD… I WOULD HAVE KILLED IT! I SWEAR, NEVER WILL YOU SET EYES ON YOUR ISSUE!!!"

Kendall takes a single step backward with wide eyes, surprised by Louella's reaction as much as the words. But then he reacts.

He grabs Louella's arm, his palm suddenly covered with tiny barbs that bite into her skin so as to grip an unwilling limb securely. His expression is a study in cold anger. "That is a grievous accusation against me and my House, Lady Louella," he says harshly. "Proof of your words is required, or your death if no proof can be provided."

The door behind Louella and one further down the hall open and two more women dressed as the Queen's Guard hurry into the hall at the sound of their sister's scream. The two Knights take in all that is happening within a single breath: his hand upon her in a threatening way, her obvious distress, perhaps even his last decree. Both women, like the trained and deadly warriors that they are, draw their swords and move forward as if to engage him in combat.

Kendall graces both warriors with his coldest and most disdainful look before turning back to Louella. "I would hardly have expected the Lady Louella de Adriel to need assistance with defending her words and honor. This discussion is between you and me."

While the woman behind Louella raises her sword in a high downward slash, and the one behind positions herself to hamper any escape, Louella shakes herself free of her mental confusion. A warrior's rage and pride flows back in her eyes and features."YOU DARE PUT YOUR HAND ON ME!" she screams, twisting out of his grip no matter the pain or injury his barbs cause.

Louella's free hand quickly pulls her dagger as she steps back and to the right, near a small alcove to open the way for the other women with swords high to come into striking distance. But then the door Louella had been guarding opens again to reveal Sir Kaye, high within the Ten Thousand, Confidante of the Queen. His emerald hair frames a face that isn't pleased with the noise he is hearing, and though not armed, he still has the confidence and malice of a warrior renowned.

Behind him, with some sort of priest, the child Barabal stands in wide-eyed fear, adoptive daughter of the Queen and King.

Kendall moves defensively away of the swords, as much as possible. Given that he has no weapon that would deal with three warriors with swords, plus the fact that he is utterly certain of the rightness of his position, he does not back down. Instead, he pulls the change over his body like a cloak, covering himself with armor against the rash actions of the Amber Knights. He does not attack, staring straight at Sir Kaye.

As Kendall shifts, Sir Kaye inquires, "Louella, what is going on here?"

Behind Sir Kaye, the priest seems to be trying to escort the child Barabal away… but the child is struggling, saying with her head tucked in her chest. "No, No, No!" Her small arms are wrapped tightly about her doll, smothering the porcelain body deep in her dress as if keeping both from doing something unpleasant.

"He—" Louella points at Kendall with her dagger, her voice nothing but rage. "Not only insulted and threatened me, but he attacked me!"

"And you and your sisters will kill him for that," Sir Kaye replies under a questioning brow, but it gives no comfort for Kendall as he turns his gaze on him. "But for our agreement, we would be in our rights to kill you if the accusations was rightful," he says to the Chaos Lord.

Kendall laughs. He can't help it; the whole situation was just too ridiculous. "With respect, the Lady Louella is not thinking clearly," he says, addressing Kaye but staring at Louella. "Otherwise she would no doubt recall twas she who gave insult to me just heartbeats before you arrived. Yet… she is not of Chaos. Thus, I offered her opportunity to reconsider her words. She has not yet answered me."

"Yet, not being from Chaos… you felt the need to bloody her in your outrage," Sir Kaye answers, indicating Louella's arm, which dripped scarlet upon the floor. Kendall glances at the woman's arm, though without any indication of concern for such a small wound.

"Too bad the Queen would be opposed to such a duel on this matter, or I would have allowed it to continue…" He turns to Louella."You're relieved of duty. Go find someone to fix that arm of yours before you make this day any worse for the castle staff." Louella is about to protest, but she falls silent under his stare.

"As for you, Lord Kendall… I would recommend a stroll back to your quarters." This was as much an order as he had just given Louella.

Kendall frowns. "Sir Kaye," he says with courtesy due for the Knight's position, but also with great and obvious patience, "the Lady Louella and I have not yet finished our discussion. If we do not do so now, I do require an appointment be made, along with any other superiors or House members who would have a say in the matter. No further harm will come to her," he adds as an afterthought, in consideration for Louella's injury. Now that any immediate danger has passed, his form slowly shifts back to normal.

"You do not make demands to me, little man!" Sir Kaye growls, his hand unconsciously going to where the hilt of a sword would have hung. "We of Amber do things a little different here than say… at the cesspool you call a court. Lady Louella is in the service of the Queen, and it is She that you will have to make an appointment to meet. At Her convenience!"

Sir Kaye ends the last with a hateful stare that forebodes a most unpleasant gathering that Turn, but the Chaosian stares back at Kaye without flinching, having learned long before never to show fear or intimidation. The Lord's eyes flash at being called a little man, but he keeps his head and ignores the petty insult given to the Courts by a mere Knight.

Instead, he replies in a calm tone. "Very well. Tis advantageous, then, that I have already arranged a meeting for today with Her Majesty. I look forward to it, and to suggesting her Knights apparently do not hold in high regard their mistress' fastidiousness for hospitality to her guests."

Sir Kaye gives a feral smile, as he nods to the coming reinforcements of the Knights of the Ten Thousand in the hall. "I am not a member of the Queen's Guard, and while I respect and honor Her wishes… Our prime loyalty lies with the King. To him, you're just one House amongst many."

Looking over Kendall's shoulder, Sir Kaye addresses the assembled Knights in their castle dress of light chain and shield. "Good Sirs, if you would. Please escort the Crown's Guest… elsewhere."

Kendall smiles also, a bemused expression. "I had forgotten the selective nature of Amber's hospitality. Thank you for the reminder." With a nod to Kaye, he departs.

Sir Kaye doesn't return the nod, but does allow Kendall to have the last word. Whether that was due to respect, stupidity, or nobility is debatable. Regardless, the Chaosian puts the Knight out of his thoughts as he walks back to the suite, mind occupied by other things. He has to talk to his superior about this development, and after some internal debate, decides to get it over with sooner rather than later.

Kendall doesn't need to search far, finding the Ambassador pacing the bridge that connects the towers that house the Chaosian delegation to the castle. Brisbane pauses in this thoughts and step to watch his attache' join him, waiting till the Amber Guards seal the door before giving his greetings. "Good Turn to you, Kendall."

Kendall nods. "Thank you. To you as well," he answers with a bow. His neutral expression cannot completely hide shadows of distress around his eyes, and he is silent for the space of two heartbeats before continuing, as though searching for words. Suddenly feeling very open and exposed on the bridge, he requests, "May we speak privately, sir?"

His Elder stares searchingly at him for two heartbeats, before turning to walk back to the tower. The door opens just as they get near, efficiently saving a step and avoiding a pause, with the servant inside closing the door just as quickly in the manner and efficiency of their House… unlike those of Amber. Brisbane leads Kendall to the room that has been deemed as their 'meeting room' during their stay, ordering to his servant Siorys that a Mind Candle is required.

From within three locked boxes, the rare candle is produced and set upon the table - thick as a man's forearm, made of the blackest wax with speckles of gold leaf. He gives his protege' a moment to mentally prepare before ordering it lit. Once Siorys alights the wick, the room begins to echo with the freed thoughts once contained within the candle, at first soft and easily ignored, but gaining strength as the flame gains stability. While it is an annoyance to keep the clutter out of their own minds, both Chaosians can be secure that no one can psychically listen in to their true discussion without a great deal of skill or luck.

Kendall stands in the middle of the room staring at a wall with his hands clasped behind his back. His posture and expression are a mix of tension and resignation, an expression and posture he's had at least a few times before in his life. Lord Brisbane, by contrast, is more relaxed, taking a chair at the table and signaling for wine to be served.

Once all the preparations are complete, Kendall turns his attention to his superior. "I just had a disturbing confrontation with one of these Amber Knights 400 heartbeats ago regarding an… incident while en route to Amber. I wished to discuss the matter with you, to decide how to proceed." Brisbane simply nods in agreement, withholding any opinion until more information is offered.

Kendall continues in a dispassionate voice, as though reciting from a prepared script. "While in the Veil, I had a sexual encounter with an individual who I thought was a member of Chanicut. Twas an illusion, however. The real person was one of the Knights riding escort to our party. She has indicated this encounter has borne fruit, and that she is with child."

Brisbane waits three heartbeats before replying, gazing into his glass of dark wine as if inspecting it."I must be getting old. I hardly heard anything you said over these freed thoughts," he finally says. "Yet… if such a thing did happen, I would have to report it. You are far too young as of yet to have a scion."

He pauses to take a sip of wine before adding, "However, I doubt it would really be helpful to involve your mother and father, or the List Hags and their ilk. So as we wait till I get myself prepared, the hypothetical question would be… what do you wish to do about it?"

Kendall stares at his Elder for several heartbeats, surprised not to be rebuked for omitting this from his original report. But Brisbane was crafty, so perhaps it would happen at a later time. So he turns his thoughts instead to the question, frowning unconsciously in distaste at the topic. "I am appalled, sir," he says at length, "and my judgment may be faulty. Twas difficult enough to come to terms with our encounter previously, truth be told, much less consider possible issue. I believed she would have the means and desire to prevent such a thing. Perhaps I was in error."

"I would have thought you had already learned not to trust the judgment of those not of House Chanicut," Brisbane comments. "Yet we should take into consideration the location of the event and its possible influences. And of course, the whys of her response and their implications upon our grand House."

He thinks for a moment, gazing through the window to the blue sky beyond. "It almost smacks of a plot of sorts, involving you in a matter neither can overlook. But from my personal dealings with those Knights, I find it highly doubtful that they would agree to such a subterfuge. Their Queen, now, she is another matter… and this Veil is her creation after all."

"It would certainly solve matters most expediently if the thing would simply die," Kendall mutters, his voice betraying his anger and disgust. "I have no use for a child by that… that Amberite, a mere Knight no less. If it is a plot, they have accomplished inconvenience, at the least."

"And they also have shown me that your training is lacking…" Brisbane corrects sharply, turning his full attention back to his attache' with a frown of disapproval. "To wish the death of a House Member merely for being an inconvenience, even if still unborn, is disturbing behavior."

"I bed your pardon, Elder," Kendall replies stiffly, though he doesn't appear at all contrite. His expression becomes closed and guarded. "My judgment has indeed been compromised regarding this matter."

Brisbane stares closely at the younger Chaosian before continuing. "We do not play the game we wish, we play the game upon the table. So instead of seeing this child as a disruption, think of the possibilities it could give us. Your reaction could be the one our enemies desire, since Queen Morgana seems to be the type that has allowed her motherly duties to consume her." He shakes his head in disapproval. "Yet if we did bring harm to an infant, even one of our own, she would surely become an enemy to House Chanicut."

Kendall nods reluctantly. "However, I would also like to note the truth of the situation is not yet known," he points out. "I have only this woman's word and no proof. I am not suggesting we lay our plans with the assumption her claim is false. I merely mean the first step will be to verify the truth before anything further can be settled."

"To claim this child is another's is hardly a tactic that House Chanicut would employ… Too simple, better for those of weak minds," his superior asserts. "Would it not be better to welcome her in without doubt, so that those of Amber can understand House Chanicut is not like those other Houses of Chaos? They will heap empty praise upon these Amberites, while we of House Chanicut will have a deed, accepting one of theirs who found herself in a somewhat difficult situation. So far I see little harm to be the honorable ones in this, as I expect their Queen did when she adopted those two low-born children."

Kendall frowns and turns away from Brisbane to stare at a picture on the wall in the room, though he doesn't really see the posed fruits rendered on the canvas. He mulls over Brisbane's words in silence for a time. "So you are suggesting we take this… person in as one of ours?" he finally asks without turning around. "Accept her into Chanicut and accord her the honors due the bearer of my child? What you suggest… Brisbane, I don't know if I can do that."

"Just because you extend an offer, does not mean the other side will accept it," Brisbane answers. "But I will agree, the woman would never fit in, even if she did accept our offer… which I doubt she would. But the baby could have possibilities, her warrior blood tempering your own more… exotic traits within the child."

Kendall turns back to look at his Elder, his expression now betraying ironic amusement. "Exotic traits, sir?" he repeats with a tilt to the head. Message received. "I understand. Your plan places the needs of our House first, as is appropriate." He bows. "I beg forgiveness for my reluctance to do my duty. Do you wish to participate in the discussion as my superior?"

"Only if you believe it necessary," Brisbane answers. "But I do understand, Kendall. Tis like having your prized flute holding your favorite wine tossed upon the floor by some half-witted fool. Yet in House Chanicut, we understand… things can be repaired, even made better." He smiles, warm and supportive. "And even a glass laying on the stone can still contain a few drops of wine to enjoy. So do not look at this as a burden; look at it as a chance to prove yourself to your father!"

Kendall nods distractedly to Brisbane's words, not really hearing them as his thoughts are suddenly consumed with something else that had just occurred to him. "I don't believe you need attend the meeting, if that is your wish. However, the Queen earlier was telling me about an Amber custom, called Marriage, which seems similar to our Bonding in the Courts. However, in their custom, this Marriage is an agreement between two people only, who are then… then committed only to each other. If this arrangement is sought from the Queen between this Knight and… and…" He trails off, as though unsure even what question to ask.

"Such an suggestion would be refused for the good of the House," Brisbane answers. "I understand your feelings, Kendall. Finding one such as her in your bed every Cycle, it would cause even your father to jump headlong into the Abyss."

Kendall breathes a sigh of relief and then laughs, more an outlet of nerves than amusement, relieved of that worry at least. "Very true, sir. Thank you. I will arrange a meeting with the Queen, then, as the Knight is part of the Queen's household now."

Brisbane nods in agreement, adding, "Just be sure to give thought to the approach, for I have reason to believe this Queen is a bit mad."

Kendall looks skeptical. "Strange, yes. Ignorant and uninformed, perhaps. But… mad?"

"All true but yes, I believe her mad as well," Brisbane answers. "For if you stare long enough into the Lattice of Order, soon you will find it staring back as well… into you!"

There's a thought creepy enough to make Kendall give a little shiver. "Yes, sir. I'll, um, keep that in mind," he replies hesitantly. "Is there anything else?"

"Yes, your relationship with Lady Briar," he replies. "Of what type is it?"

Kendall hesitates, caught off guard by the unexpected question, staring at Brisbane. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other before answering, "She is the Captain of the Guard in the castle, and… the King's daughter, and… I don't know, sir," he admits. "I find her… fascinating."

"And the King of Amber has hinted, if agreeable between you and her… a possibility of something official if things work out between our Houses," Brisbane follows up, watching Kendall closely.

"That sounds most promising," he replies. Having become aware of his nervous fidgeting, Kendall forces himself to stand still. "I can see finding such an arrangement agreeable."

Brisbane raises his eyebrows at this. "And what degree do you wish this potential bonding to achieve?"

"Whatever would best serve Chanicut, of course," Kendall responds dutifully, unwilling to get caught out twice in the same conversation.

His Elder smiles at that, waving a hand as he says, "Of course. Yet it's also satisfying when one's desires become what best will serve the needs of the House. So if you truly do desire her, I think your parents could see the wisdom of your choice."

At that reply, Kendall sighs and drops all pretense at neutrality. "Brisbane, we both know desire is transitory. Sometimes even fleeting," he answers frankly. "In this case, I would prefer to leave the preference to Briar, simply because these Amberites do not appear to share the sense of duty that is the expectation of our House. I do not wish to be saddled with a disillusioned and unhappy mate should the glamour of the exotic wane. I think… I think she deserves better than that."

"Deserves?" Brisbane replies surprised, a brow arched high."How noble of you, Kendall."

Kendall frowns in irritation. "It is simply a matter of recognizing when another individual is worthy of respect, sir, and also that Amberites should not be held to the same standards, since their culture and worldview is so different. We certainly do not hold all the Houses in Chaos to the same standards, although… it is at least possible to hold an <i>intelligent</i> conversation with, say, a Hendrake."

His Elder breaks into a wide smile, his voice full of humor. "My son, I was only joking with you. I understand and respect your concerns, yet I think you need to reexamine your emotions. So before you condemn, you should embrace these feelings to find the truth."

"Oh." Kendall pauses, his expression blank with wonderment, unsure how to proceed. "I am not in the habit of discussing emotional matters with my Elders. Sir."

Brisbane chuckles. "Even in my more youthful days, I shared much the same philosophy… But with age comes what some would call wisdom: seeing the same patterns within the future that you lived in the past. It is a resource you shouldn't scorn simply because it's unpleasant or invasive."

"Not at all," Kendall replies quickly. "It's just that… ah, never mind." He finally comes over and sits, joining Brisbane at the table now that it seems like he's not going to be reprimanded. "I wasn't expecting to… to like anything about this Amber, or the people here. And they're not exactly what I was expecting, but they're… fine, I suppose, in their own strange way."

"Expectations are always that, Kendall," his mentor says."They turn on you, coil about, to sink their fangs into the spot… you would have never guessed. It is as Lord Serpent has commanded, so His Favored Ones do not become acedia within the world."

Kendall grins. "Keeping us alert. Yes, I see that. I do believe the Captain is one of very few people in Amber I have met thus far, who could find a place in the Courts. Most of the others would not adapt well, even if they were not quickly damaged." His expression turns pensive. "She is a lost soul underneath her brash face. She might find some measure of peace within the structure of the House… assuming she came to Chanicut through the agreement."

"She is not truly lost…" Bribane says softly. "She simply doesn't have the heart to accept her real place within the world. Chained in Doubt, till freed by one who sees clearly."

"It often isn't easy to see one's own situation clearly," Kendall notes. "She is strong. I believe she would make any place hers, once she exerts her will upon it."

"Strength can be also a weakness." Brisbane says. "Yet you could be correct… which begs the question, should House Chanicut help?"

Kendall shakes his head. "'Should' is a tricky word, Brisbane. If a bond agreement between us would be of benefit to the House, then certainly it should be pursued. But apart from that… I would like to help her."

Brisbane pauses for a moment before saying. "So… in her you see a reflection of yourself in some small way." He takes a deep breath, often like he does when a deal has been finalized. "Just be certain of the value you attach to this mirror - be it one you carry, not one hidden behind a throne."

"Of course, sir," Kendall agrees, looking a little puzzled. "First I must address the other matter, but I will take all of your words under advisement. Thank you," he adds, those last two words having more depth than mere formality.

"Understand Kendall, if this… relationship firms up between you two, I will use it as evidences that you deserve to take my post," Brisbane says, open and honest. "For if you can make this work, then all other things will be simple as a breath for you."

Kendall stares at his Elder blankly, again dumbfounded. "Th-thank you, sir." He stops himself before he continues to stutter, and takes the space of two heartbeats to collect his wits. Brisbane did manage to see him at less than best on a fairly regular basis. "I am always flattered by your faith in my abilities." He stands, and bows deeply.

"Kendall… No one is at their best all the time," his mentor advises. Then he adds with a warm smile, "Mmmm…but you mother does come close."

Kendall smirks. "She likes to think so," he agrees, then leaves his superior to his thoughts, returning to his room. Once there, he composes a letter for the Queen, requesting a meeting with her at her earliest convenience regarding a matter of some small importance, in the presence of the Knight Louella de Adriel who is now a member of the Queen's household. The flowing script is written firmly and precisely on the page, displaying the same sort of exacting formality that Kendall exudes in person.

Once the note is finished and sealed, Kendall takes it himself to the other end of the glass walkway that leads to the castle proper. He asks the guards there to summon a servant or page to deliver it for him, and stands calmly to wait. In no time, an out of breath Page appears before Kendall… one that looks strikingly familiar.

"Good Day, Lord," the child says in a somewhat timid yet respectful tone, while holding out a hand for the Chaos Lord's letter.

Kendall stares at the child for two heartbeats, connecting the face with the memory. Indeed, it is the child that he was told the Queen of Amber had adopted, who sat at the Royal Table along with the Ambassador and himself, of the name Manley. The Chaosian hands the note to the boy, but does not release it right away. "Good day," he replies to the page's greeting. "How fares your sister?"

"She's… f-fine, Lord," the lad stumbles out, obviously nervous about Kendall's query.

Kendall releases the envelope when it is clear the child isn't going to run away. "Very good," he replies. "She appeared distressed the last time I encountered her. I hope she is better now."

"Indeed, Milord," the boy responds as he tucks the letter away in his jacket. "Primula has calmed her down since then, and she is smiling again."

"That is good news," Kendall says. "Do you know what it was that was upsetting her?" he inquires curiously.

The lad doesn't answer at first, his brow vexed, till he finally admits, "Tis you, Milord… You upset my sister!"

Kendall blinks. "I see," he says, folding his arms and tucking his hands in his sleeves. He gazes at the boy with bemused puzzlement. "Do you know why this is so, how it is that <b>I</b> upset her? I cannot think of any action I have taken that would have caused such distress, but… I may be mistaken."

"Primula told her that you're responsible for our parent's death," the boy truthfully answers, as a child should to his elders.

"Indeed." Kendall thinks on that for two heartbeats, not exactly sure how to proceed. Finally, he says, "I can understand her distress, then. Thank you. You may deliver my message ."

The lad bows without saying any more, leaving the Lord's presence without delay. As he hurries away, a girl-child approaches with short brown hair in the same sort of page cut and a splash of freckles, dressed in the same type of uniform. She shyly asks for access from the sentries, then finds herself a seat upon a chair near a window to wait. She avoids even a glance in the Chaosian's direction.

Kendall looks at the girl expectantly, which she probably doesn't see since she's being careful to avoid looking at him. "Page girl," he addresses her. "Are you here for someone in House Chanicut?"

With a toss of curls, she gives a quick glance to the scary Lord and says timidly, "No…." She turns back to staring at the floor.

"Very well, then," Kendall says, not bothering to scold the child for her manners, distracted as he was by other worries at the moment. He turns instead and returns to the tower to await the Queen's reply. However, as he reenters the suite, a faint odor of what could only be blood reaches his nose. A few more careful sniffs lead him to the Qur nest. There, cuddled together amongst blood soaked bedding lay most of the litter, their throats cut with the expertise of a skilled assassin. The deed had happened perhaps a quarter of a Turning ago, maybe less.

Kendall crouches down to inspect the mess, frowning in concentration as he looks for possible clues. Pulling out the thin stiletto he habitually carries, he uses it to move the bodies gently as needed. He sees that the wounds suggest a small thin blade, even smaller than his stiletto… something like a Mender's scalpel, perhaps. Each wound's dimension is exactly the same, the length and depth precisely matched in some anal display of skill.

Kendall remains still, deep in thought for the space of 10 heartbeats, trying to puzzle out the whys and wherefores of the event. He had never heard of such obvious means of dispatching a litter. Maybe it was meant to frighten or intimidate, yet it made no sense since anyone with even half a Cycle of a brain would know this type of event is not unknown in the Courts. Even the lowest of sewer slaves know there would be protocols in place for such an occurrence, that it would only make House members more cautious.

Further examination shows the Qur didn't even wake up from their nap. Death came to them unawares, and a single taste of their blood gives the evidence why: Amber sorcery! Kendall stands, brushing off his pants and wiping his stiletto with a handkerchief before putting it away. Then he summons Rory.

Within 10 beats of his heart, Rory appears at his side to bow. "Your wishes, Lord?" His eyes take in the scene of the massacre, yet he keeps his opinions to himself, according to his place.

"Please put these Qur to their proper rest. They were faithful servants to the House," Kendall says. He pauses before asking, "Have you noted any unusual activity amongst anyone in our party?"

"No, Lord… But it seems now I was lax in accomplishing the task you set for me," Rory answers, his eyes downcast in reflection on his failure and the death of the litter. "I will not fail you again, Lord Kendall," he promises, bowing low.

Kendall stares at Rory for two heartbeats before nodding, his expression completely neutral. "See that you do not," he replies, then dismisses the servant to carry out his assignment and goes in search of Brisbane.

The search is brief, Kendall finding his superior on one of the many balconies within the tower. He is sitting in a chair, glancing through a book given to him by the King of Amber, mouth up-turned in an amused smile as he turns the pages. He pauses in his reading to look up as his attache' comes into view, placing the book in his lap. "You return already? What new issue has arisen that has caused you to look so worried?"

"I wished only to report that the Qur litter has in large part been killed. I do not yet know how many survive," Kendall reports, coming straight to the point. "Also, that Amber sorcery was involved, which means our quarters are vulnerable to their influence."

"Indeed…" Brisbane says, frowning at the news. "Quaint as the attack might be, I find it disturbing that any could think our House would fall for such foolishness. While the Qur have their uses, there are other means available at hand we could use as well. This is…. almost a insult."

"I agree that the exercise seems pointless," Kendall replies. "Unless the point of the deed was to reveal a vulnerability to their sorcery. Perhaps the desire is not to harm so much as to unnerve us."

"Tis not a threat to reveal what was already known," Brisbane nods in agreement to Kendall's first statement. "And to attempt to unnerve a House renowned for their imperturbability, makes it not an insult but merely a joke." His frown darkens with indignation as he continues. "This must be answered, a child stolen or a nobleman poisoned. I will not have our House become the butt of any jokester."

Kendall can't keep his lips from twitching into a smile, to see his calm and unflappable superior get so riled up. "Peace, sir," he says, trying not to laugh. "I have no doubt that tactics such as those would not help us accomplish our goals here. The Amberites would undoubtedly view such an action as proof that our House is similar in mind to Hendrake."

Brisbane gives a sniff, twitching his robes into place before answering. "Even more evidence of their backward ways and rustic sentiments. I often wonder if this is truly worth our time."

"I suspect not, in terms of the Amber allies. Yet in terms of annoying the other Houses, it's likely no effort would be wasted," Kendall offers.

Brisbane's mood seems to lighten at his protege's words, and he nods in agreement. "It will be quite pleasant to be here when thee other Houses open up negotiations with Amber." He grins. "Most pleasant indeed…"

Kendall nods, giving Brisbane an answering grin, but then he becomes more businesslike again. "That was all, sir. I apologize for disturbing you."

"No need… you were doing your duty," his Elder replies. He pauses for a heartbeat in thought before saying, "And of your plans for the rest of this…" He waves a hand, trying to recall what they call it in Amber. "…day?"

"I have requested an audience with her Majesty the Queen, to discuss our proposal regarding her Knight's… inconvenience. I had hoped she would be able to meet today, so as to take care of the, ah, situation immediately." He uses the word 'proposal' without any irony or knowledge of its use in these circumstances, since most Chaosians do not propose pairing to each other. His distaste for the whole topic would be well hidden from an outsider, but perceptible to someone who knows him well.

"Kendall… have you ever looked into a mirror, and wished the one reflected was not the one who gazed?" his mentor asks. "Many times, I have had to step out beyond that which I believed I was, to do something that needed to be done. For a beast found in a cave can not be hunted on your treasured mount with sword and shield in honorable combat. Some Turns, you must become the Beast yourself… and crawl down into its lair to meet it on its own terms."

Kendall merely looks mystified, and with a hint of affection, Brisbane continues. "If your enemies inflict a poison that has no cure in your own House Lore, then one needs to look elsewhere for the cure… Even within the House that foisted the insult." He waits a minute for that to sink in, before adding."One needs to do what is correct, but not if you sacrifice that which makes you." With that, he turns back to his book .

The younger Lord sighs privately to himself. Theoretically youngsters are more flexible than the aged, but he sometimes wondered if exercising so much flexibility would bend him out of shape so much no one he knew would ever recognize him again. He waits to make sure his Elder didn't have anything else to say, before bowing himself out and returning to his rooms to meditate and wait on the Queen's response.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
A Provocative Proposal

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