Father

It they expect some special ending, a awe-inspiring view, maybe some kind or clever words, or even a kiss. But none of this is given, the inland merely passes a point, and the pair find themselves in a pitch black room that echoes like a auditorium or a concert hall. Their shoes upon the floor, the only noices that provides the echoing. Beneath, Kendall can sense the tug of the Abyss upon his being. Somewhere in this huge chamber, its name best not remember, awaits his father. Awaits the moment, before revealing himself to prehaps his only still living son. A moment, that Kendall rather have it showing his own best… instead of the far worst that has dogged every other of their encounters.

Kendall welcomes the darkness that envelopes them, separating him from everything and everyone once he steadies Margot's steps from inland to stable floor. Once firmly off the island, hand departs her arm, and he murmurs, "Remain here, unless called for."

The blackness - for darkness simply didn't describe it - was overwhelming. It was as if someone blew out the candlelight that was the Sun and snubbed out all the stars at once. A moment of panic gripped Margot's heart when Kendall released her; more of uncertainty as to where she was; her senses and perceptions rendered useless for the moment. How long she simply nodded her head in answer before remembering that he may not be able to actually see the action, Margot returned, "As you wish."

He knew this room, though he had never before stood upon its precarious floor. He knew it in his blood and with his very essence. Leaving Margot behind, he walks with measured footsteps towards the center. How he knew its location or even its direction, he couldn't say, but it didn't matter. He did.

Walking through utter blackness, there was nothing to distract him as he turned his focus once more to the task at hand and away from all distractions. He concentrates on his breathing and then the beating of his heart, trying to push everything else away and into the background. His emotions resisted, though, clinging desperately to his shoulders, trying to weigh him down and drag him back. It took every last bit of will not to let the fear unmake him.

Not even when being interrogated by Morgana had he felt this dread, this terrifying anxiety. Panic desperately scratched at his throat, begging for him to flee. This would be no simple conversation or cordial interview. His father, the Duke, shaped his world in ways that could never be fully explained. Morgana would only have killed him; Ulrich would do far worse.

He swallows hard, breathes deep, shoves the clamoring thoughts from his mind with brutal efficiency and force of will. If there was any time to become what he needed to be, now was it. A ripple of energy passes up his leg and through his body, bringing him to a halt. This was the place. He stops, and drops to one knee, bowing to the Head of his House.

With Kendall gone, all Margot had was herself. She tried to focus on letting go of the fear, or at least acknowledging it and welcoming it. This was a place born to intimidate and terrorize; a place that celebrated brutal efficiency and unwavering power. To not acknowledge the knots in her stomach or the dry swelling of her tongue would be childish; foolish. No, her only alternative was to accept the existence and then detach from it.

Breathe. Slowly. In and out. Out and In.

It took some time and a good deal of concentration, but her body found rhythm and in that consistency, some of the tightness that climbed her neck slowly faded into the unyielding darkness. This was Kendall's place, House affairs; not hers. She would remain facing the direction that Kendall had placed her, a mask of serenity as she met her greatest and most terrifying challenge in her life.

"You disappointed me again…."

Margot was uncertain where the boom had originated; only that it was almost more unsettling with its gravelly bass than was the dead of silence. Still, with hands folded before her waist at her belt, she felt proud that her start was barely noticeable, a little shake to return to the gravity of the moment, before her pleasantly neutral facade returned.

The voice echos, harsh and bitter, as Kendall feels the under-canopy disengage and leaving him standing over the Abyss with only a thin treacherous floor to protection him. In a way, alive, able to sense the small beings upon it. Translucent, colored by the place it stands above even as tiny cracks start to form from previous deceptions. His, hers, only his father immune due to be on a high floating platform.

"Kendall."

The rough voice growls, disgust in each vowel like this would wash out the anger he was feeling. High overhead, safe in all ways but that of the heart, and to his pride, with expectations he thought even his youngest could attained.

"Kendall"

He has to breathe once, before he can produce any sort of response. "How, may I ask?" he finally says, and it's a wonder that his voice is as calm as it is, though clipped and tight with tension. "I have done as you ordered and my duty to Chanicut. I went to Amber, served Brisbane, and returned us both safely to hearth and home."

"And when, to your duties with House Chanicut, was slaying your brother added?"

Kendall has no idea how to respond to this question that wouldn't sound impertinent or insolent, at best. Yet he knew as well that silence would be equally unacceptable. While some instinct told him is normal way of dealing with his father would not work in this situation, so far new approach had inspired him.

"It was not," he finally says.

A stoic, beautiful statue stood at the edge, watching with her throat tightening after each swallow. He made her promise to not interfere. He made her promise to stay where she was. And so, a poised young woman looked on to the kneeling man with pride shining in her eyes, the only reveal of true emotion she indulged herself with. It was so unfortunate that Kendall would not see or could not see her admiration for him; and a pity that his father didn't seem to hold the youngest and possibly only remaining Lords of Chanicut with the same regard.

"So, again, over a woman?" comes the question, though the answer stands silently at the edge of the chamber for anyone to see.

Kendall thinks on this, but then raises his eyes to look up at his father, feeling some heat returning to his chilled body. The heat of anger. "No," he says, voice firm and final on that word. "Catalysts are rarely true reasons, but merely serve as convenient scapegoats."

It took all that she could muster, jaws clamped tight, to not let her lips twitch into a small smile. Her heart swelled; not because of what was the driving force or what had happened; but because Kendall had found his voice and strength.

"Surely it wasn't sibling jealousy?" His father growls, not believing even his youngest would err so tremendously. Never was a Child of Chanicut allowed to give his emotions such control.

"Our hatred got the better of us both," the son answers, speaking the truth as he saw it.

Margot remained silent, her eyes a swirl of emotions; sadness, pride, worry, love. It was all so surreal; even as she stood at the edge of all that there was, that her eyes only flickered toward the Duke at the mention of 'a woman', and she felt his eyes upon her. Her gaze in return could not possibly hide the confidence and loyalty she held for his youngest son, but she did not waver or wilt beneath his omnipotent presence.

Its a long pause, before the voice speaks again, asking. "So why won't it be in Chanicut's interest to see both ends of that cursed branch, cast into the Abyss?"

Kendall ponders this briefly, and then nods. "No doubt that would be the simplest solution to your quandry," he agrees, some of the tension creeping back into his tone. He takes another breath to steel himself before he continues in a firm, steady voice once again. "Simplest by far in the short term. But in the long term, Chanicut would senselessly lose two loyal sons, rather than only one. You would be without a viable heir unless you chose from one of the other Families."

"And you consider yourself viable heir now?" His father sounds surprised, perhaps even impressed by his son's grit. "Yet if we overlook all your failings, why could we not do the same for Diona? Her hands, at least, are clean of her brother's blood… so far."

He had never argued with his father before. Argued? Disagreed? Discussed? Whatever word a person might choose, he felt as though he was swimming upstream against an overwhelming current. This was completely unfamiliar ground, but he had nothing to lose in one last attempt to make himself understood by the person he admired, feared, hated, and loved above all others.

"Diona's new gift grants her much, but requires much more," he answers. "She is unstable, true, but more than that, owes promises to those who do not have the interests of Chanicut at heart. Cedric also had his own agenda, as I am sure you're aware. I, however, am unfettered by obligations apart from the betterment my House. As well, having just returned from Amber, I can look on my home with new eyes."

"And those new eyes, saw fratricide as the best course for Chanicut?"

Kendall's teeth grit and he swallows hard. It came back to this. "Yes."

Margot's heart ceased to beat with Kendall's answer. Fingers that had rested calmly become intertwined to keep her from balling her hands into fists. As she watched helplessly a battle of wills, her own began to take place - mastering her emotions and outward presentation.

"Then you can explain the logic, if not the emotion…"

"Yes," he answers again. The word came a little easier this time around, but he still could feel the fear crowding around him, jumping and yapping at his legs like that pack of irritating little hairless dog creatures that plagued one wing of Amber Castle. If he gave way at all, it would overwhelm him, robbing him of his voice and leaving him mute and helpless. Instead, he takes the sentence as an invitation to continue.

"My father, Cedric had made attempt to interfere with my plan to present the princess of Amber to you, my companion whom I brought here as a gift to our House," he says in a steady voice, though the fingers clasped atop his knee are white with tension. "She may provide the spark that Chanicut seeks, the blood of Amber and the Fae added to our own line, and is willing to treat with us to provide it. Had Cedric not been so quick to interfere, to establish his own dominance, and had seen the value in the princess apart from a trophy to achieve within our petty rivalry, he would not have sent her to a realm of Possibility, between the Realities of the manor in Silver. As it was, his own temper led to a decision that could have destroyed my own attempt to serve my House, and thus, his own rage led to his demise."

She had anticipated something akin to this; though not in its exact delivery. To say she was a gift to the House, well, she supposed there was truth in that, though, he fought her tooth and nail and scale to not have her return with him…. for her own protection and safety and his own affections. That he drew attention to the fact that she wanted to be with House Chanicut and had unique qualities was a nice touch, should his father care to note. What she found more interesting was that she was sent to a completely different realm where she met the Cat, between the Veils in a sort of Void. Beyond that, she was able to overcome it with her own force of will and without any assistance. Perhaps the infraction will serve better as a demonstration, indeed…

His father waits for the floor, to start collapsing under the weight of his son's falsehoods…. yet only cracks do appear.

Raising a brow, his father continues. "His own temper, what of yours? For we do have the records, testimonies, even one from a demon." That last part, is given with annoyance, having to rely on such a being in matters like this. "What of your own personal attachment to this creature, this Princess of Amber? Would you take the punishment, if I married her to Cedric?"

She knew this was coming; the pit in her stomach told her as such. She watched her lover with great interest, her heart racing, as she wondered what her fate would be.

"Then the testimonies would reflect that my brother was the one who first drew blade, wielding Alaisiagae against me," is Kendall's retort. "And as to the princess, I would respect your wishes and accept the punishment. But whether she agrees to join with Cedric is for you and she to negotiate."

Margot's gaze lifts from Kendall's form to the man who ruled the House of Chanicut. Even in pleasant neutrality, there is an exotic fire that burns in her eyes; and it is that flame that she clutches to for continued strength of presence and sophisticated composure.

"Yet you stuck first. An interesting inquiry for the learned. But how would you answer that, if you were in my place?"

"Yes, I did," the young Lord acknowledges, gaze falling once more to his hands resting atop bent knee. "A reckless and imprudent response to provocation." He has to think for some heartbeats before he can produce an answer to his father's actual question. And a thought occurs, dangerous, but persistent. "Were I in your place, I would question whether rash action is solely the province of youth and your sons."

Margot tries to hide the draw of air to fill her tightening lungs, a deep, slow breath through her nose. What passed between brothers bore blades, but this, was a far more deadly duel, where words were far more dangerous than any weapon the imagination could conjure.

"And I would answer, are you not still alive?"

He looks up at his father once more, a frown taking over his face. "I am, yes, and am overcome with gratitude that you have yet deigned to grant me this audience. Yet, many others have not the same luxury, who now lie needlessly dead in the service of our House."

"And now, I will be sending off another… possibly two."

"Mayhap," Kendall agrees. "And who amongst the Families would you name as Heir?" he inquires, curious.

"The survivor…."

Kendall nods. "Then what is it that you wish of me now?" he asks. "I accept responsibility for the result which my actions have wrought. Cedric lies near death. But were our positions reversed, would he be standing precariously above the Abyss? Or would some other recompense be suitable for the life of one of the sons of the Duke of Chanicut?"

"Near…. No, not anymore."

Ulrich let those words hang in the air as long as necessary.

"As to your other questions. We both know, he won't but you have only yourself to blame for that. As to recompense, you would never be fit as a Heir. Perhaps a child, raised correctly, could be enough. But your enemies won't give you the time for such, unless you were able to secure the blessing of the Throne, the Church, or the Serpent himself."

So much was uttered in a few short sentences. Cedric had passed, failing to survive the wounds inflicted by his younger brother. Ulrich would refuse to recognize his son as Heir, but would accept a properly reared child of Kendall's; some sort of twisted form of abdication. But, it sounded like Ulrich had little faith that his son would live long enough to sire a child let alone be an active participant in it's education. And where did this leave Diona? Margot wasn't certain, but she thought that one of her Aunt's - Fiona perhaps - had mentioned that the Throne of Chaos remained empty… leaving that an impossible option as there would be no one to ask for blessing from. She knew nothing of the Church of Chaos; but with the Serpent being an alternative; either Ulrich was implementing his own flavor of cheek akin to 'Snowballs in Hell', or Kendall's circumstance was truly dire. And if his was dire, where did that leave her?

The young woman continued to remain as she promised; either portraying the part of loyal companion or pathetic lapdog; she supposed it did not matter. Her word was given to Kendall that she would remain silent unless addressed properly and that she would not take a step further toward him. This was his challenge, his reckoning. She couldn't be more proud of him, holding his ground and accepting his father's obvious ire with the openness of sunbeams on a summer's day. Still, she couldn't help but worry about her lover as he - as they both - remained poised on the precipice of the Abyss, awaiting Ulrich's pleasure.

Kendall feels the news of his brother's death drape over him like a weighted cloak, holding him fast to the surface where he waited for judgment in spite of the whirlwind of emotions that sweeps through him. He breathes in, holds it, then exhales with slow and measured care, staring fixedly into the blackness below him as he struggles to master the very passions that had condemned him, preventing them from carrying him away with them. He says nothing during the pause, trying to make sense of where this left him, yet when the rest of his father's pronouncement rolls over him, it all drains away into nothingness, leaving him strangely weak and dizzy. You would never be fit as an heir. His father had once more plundered everything from within him, and tossed it aside as worthless. He was empty.

Another pause ensues, as Kendall pieces together his thoughts in the wake of everything that had happened and the words that had been said. When he is finally able to speak, his voice is empty of emotion and life, smooth and dead as an unmoving lake. "That is because you refuse to see it." He looks up once more, and then stands to face his father for the last time.

"You willfully blind yourself to the talents of one, while cultivating the failings of the other. That is your prerogative, and your own oversight," he continues, still in that flat, emotionless voice. "That Cedric inflicted his rages on those who had no recourse against him, does not mean he controlled his passions better than I or even you. Only that you chose to turn a blind eye to his depredations. But in the eyes of all, the lesser brother will still have defeated the greater, so he was perhaps was not so much greater after all. And where does that leave you? As you appear unable to produce or 'properly raise' a suitable heir of the three of us, the question may soon arise whether the line should pass to another in Chanicut. But that is a debate for others within the House. As one possessing the true blood of Chanicut, I demand my right to appear before the Serpent."

The ensuing pause is much longer than the one before, as Kendall feels his father's eyes drill into him.

"So be it…"

And the room goes dark, Ulrich lost in the night again, even as a unknown door reveals itself back to their transport.

Its here, these words are spoken.. a parting shot from a father.

"I love you, Kendall."

At this, the floor starts to collapse beneath his floating platform. The Hell Winds from the Abyss start screaming in, as whole sections fall under the weight of Ulrich's lie. The blackness beyond, that hunger mawl that only Lord Serpent lives within, and all things end. Yet all of this, to consider and hurt, need to be elsewhere as the floor they once stood on, cracks and tumbles. Falling into a depth, that to measure, would be beyond a impossibly, much like finding his father's affections.

The young Lord had taken only three steps to depart the platform, when his father delivers his final insult. But the flash of rage that ignites at those words, so hatefully spoken, is lost amidst the sudden destruction of his footing. Habit takes over, as it was designed to, form flowing effortlessly here deep in the embrace of the Courts. Wings are an easy accommodation, and Kendall launches himself from the floor before it can disappear beneath him. Two beats of an enormous wingspan bring him to the side of the chamber, where the open door waits to take them both beyond.

Things happened too fast for Margot to anticipate. One moment, she was merely an observer, the next, she felt nothingness beneath her feet. Unlike her lover, she did not have the instinct to simply shift her form, let alone attempt to conjure a miracle to replace that which vanished beneath her. It was with a desperate cry that she flailed, twisting in the air in hopes of claiming purchase upon the ledge… only narily managed as her body crashed against the door jamb, leaving her dazed, clinging and clawing at an unfamiliar surface in an uncomfortable darkness; her body hanging tenuously with gravity proving to be a cruel enemy indeed.

The floor was disappearing, but he could be fast. Quite fast. Wings alone could not guarantee escape from the deathless maw of the Abyss, but they could help navigate the blasting winds. Kendall rushes across the crumbling floor, scooping up Margot and tumbling them both through the doorway to the island beyond.

Margot was slipping, the gown she wore another obstacle in her survival and then she was in a tumbled knot with Kendall; he partially transformed. She looked up at him, "Are you alright? "she asked, searching his eyes.

The door shuts when they pass through, closing them off from the Abyss and its shrieking winds.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
A Brush With Madness

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