A New King in Chaos

They stand on a small balcony in front of a massive black door in a chamber so vast not even echoes can find their way within it. Instead, it is full of an oppressive silence, as though the weight of the air itself would be enough to repel any discordant visitors.

Beyond their balcony, spiraling shapes glow in the shadows above a black pit. Spiked stone promenades extend from thousands of galleries like the one on which they stood, visible in a weak, sourceless light. They spiral through space to join the platform at the far end, which is discernible in the distance only due to its great size.

The platform hangs suspended above the pit, supported and connected by the promenades, and each balcony holds a massive door blazoned with the colors and symbol of the House to which it belonged. Just as the Throne of Chaos held together the Houses and the Courts themselves, connecting them to each other and bringing life from the chaos of the beginning. But like the gigantic door behind them, every other door as far as the eye could see is closed and barred against entry.

The ceiling, almost lost in the dimness above, is scaled like a serpent's skin and streaked with every color in the Sky. Each walkway is decorated with ridges and spurs of iridescent stone, which curl about them to make railings and spiky lattices.

He walks to the edge of the balcony on which they stood, and waits until she joins him before beginning the long trek to the far end and the platform that awaited in darkness. And though the promenade spirals and twists, their feet remain fixed upon it, no matter what direction gravity might seem to favor.

Oh, so much to take in and so little time… it was the prevalent thought that pressed against Margot's immediate concern for Kendall's wellbeing. Beautiful and deadly, the throne room seemed to capture the epitome of what it meant to be of Chaos. This was not the joyous promenade she had hoped for; at his side, yes, of course. But, somehow, the oppressive silence and the mourning of the House seemed to be the wet woolen blanket suffocating the pair. Without anything beyond silly oohs and ahs, Margot was determined to be the perfect escort to her lover and possibly her liege.

A distances away, be it a across the room or a dozen worlds. For in the Royal Throne Room, there was no measure you could do and be sure. Even Loyalthy needed a cup, to note it's volume. Yet the Surd Throne was emtpy, missing from it's spot till another came to claim. Built not of gem or stone, neither gold or any other precious metal. Neither was it of swords claimed in battle, nor even the horn of their worst enemy. For here in Thelbane, it wasn't some throne that make you king… it was the king himself, with his own desires, thoughts, and memories whom crafted with those same energies and produced their own. A Throne fit for a king, made by his very thoughts and achievements.

Yet for the moment, that place was empty except for a figure being choked. Dara hung from high in the air, struggling against the binding around her throat.

That the Lady of Hendrake had been captured and was being held thus is an achievement of note. The young Chaos Lord sets foot first on the massive platform that made space not just for the throne, but for scores of loyal subjects. The dimness of the room was of no account to him, he who would forever see only through darkness to the reality that lay beneath simple light. "Release her," he says in a voice that is deceptively calm and soft. Yet Power still emanated from him, shivering the pale, blank banners that marked where the throne would rest.

"Why?" Creaks the reply, from the very strange creature cloaked in a old tattered robe of night.

Normal sight betrays nothing more as you view. Neither face or form, just this narrow fitting robes that seen better days centuries ago. Yet to Kendall's new vision, he sees a Power much like he. One who once stool in front of the Serpent, and walked away…

Margot saw in horror her Lady strung by the neck by an apparition. A hand, subconsciously, moved to touch Kendall's elbow, worry and concern screaming in that small touch even as she forced herself to maintain a calm resolve. Her eyes did not turn to the father of her child. Nor did she give Dara more than a passing glance; turning her attention to the robes that suspended the Hendrake in the air. "She belongs to me," Margot answered with a stern voice that surprised even her.

He studies the other as an interesting find; another similar to himself, who had seen Lord Serpent and survived. He nods to Margot's words, and adds an additional answer. "She still has use to me. Why do you attempt her destruction?"

"Because she broke the Taboo." The creature, this man shares as he appears mere feet in front of the pair. For in the Throne Room, distances again was a illusion. Releasing a coughing Dara to the floor, he steps forward when gives Kendall and Margot a peek of what is hidden under the robes. Bare bones, bubbling with flesh. That is, what little flesh that is left after millennia of fighting the raw chaos cancer that was still trying to kill him. His left side already gone, the toughest demons bones holding-up just enough to give this creature a little mobility. For whatever or whom this person was, his will could never be called into question. Any other, would have welcomed final death centuries ago. "You perhaps, she.." It, he, points to Margot. "Mate, pet, so overlooked till I decide about you."

"What do you propose to decide?" he asks. The creature's physical appearance bears no weight, but only the truly sightless could fail to notice the deadly cancer that riddled the other's body and rotted its flesh.

About this creature's bones, Logrus tendrils swirl and flow to help keeping the form. Its single eye, once of the silver, the color of the sea the chaos ships sail. Now mostly rotten and diseased flesh, yet still does it stare and this time upon the young lord that stands before him.

"If you, are due these rights…" The man says, not even wasting the effort to point. "You weren't the first, to do so soon after talking to our Lord. Even now, not as it was yet still does the throne shines. Here, your world will never be small. Here is the Abyss, a thousand Houses to command!"

Margot watched silently with grim resolve, her eyes flickered to Dara briefly to note that the Hell-Maiden was recovering. The monstrocity spoke, drawing her attention once more. For all the steel in her spine, her eyes revealed the fiery emotions; fear, loathing, indignation, righteousness. The creature's insinuation spoke of Chaos' diminished state; an irony that Margot could not help but find revealing. Still, she had spoke out of turn once; claiming ownership of Dara with the expectation of the demon to comply - which he did, though she was certain that had more to do with Kendall's kinship with him, for she recognized a kinship between her lover and the rotted creature that barred their way. A similarity in power and presence, brought on by exposure to Lord Serpent. For the moment, she would remain steadfast at Kendall's side, quietly reserved and resolute while the two spoke of matters of State and beyond.

"So you have sentenced yourself to eternal vigilance," he observes, recognizing a kindred impulse in the disease-wracked specter. "But none can be found truly worthy of the seat you guard. By what measure do you expect to test me?"

The creature's laughter is like from a horror, yet still it is laughter. The creature, amused by the jest that he can only respone by the same.

"To what test, could I conceive, that would equal what Lord Serpent did?"

"Precisely so," he agrees, which is why the question had been worded such. "Why, then, are you here and place yourself in my path?"

"I am here, due an oath and on my honor. But to you, I could be a mere step on your way to claim the Throne." It, he, pauses here as he clicks his diseased jaw till certain muscles regrow. "Or a door, forever closed." He taps his bone staff upon the floor, moving back away and not blocking Kendall's path to the throne. "Seat yourself, then I will judge…"

The Throne of Chaos, in the heart of Thelbane, is the strangest in Creation. Not of stone, or some great jewel, or even bones harvested from some great leviathan that swan in the sea or flew. Neither is it forged of heroes' swords or the crowns of defeated kings. Here in the Realm of Chaos, of the Courts of a 1000 Houses, upon the edge of the Abyss. Here, the throne is constructed by the Minds of those who seat themselves upon it. Thoughts and desires, passions and horrors, given form and weave itself within and be witness to the worth. Yet in time, perhaps hundred cycles or more, all will become truely firm and take a solid physical form like any other throne. But till this day, any could judge with a look, to the worth of the person. Their very reason, desires, or goals… all below the royal cushion ripe for viewing.

An object created of faith and vision, taking shape in the mind and given form with one's very essence. That was the Throne of Choas. And though expertise would yet require time and learning, the one who stood here now had become a specialist in ideas and vision. But until his power and expertise could be fully realize, for now his triumph before Lord Serpent would have to serve him. He would rely on the audacity that suggested circumstances could change, even after untold millenia.

He stares at the place where his future rested. It would be no small thing to step forward and take that place. Though emotions were now far-off echoes of what he had once experienced, nonetheless he pauses to experience the sense of awe and trepidation that still touched some chord of his being. His world would no longer be small, indeed, but it was already no longer what it had been, nor would it ever be small again. Already he could see beyond this vast chamber at all the thoughts, energies, and the Reality itself that held the Courts above the chaos from which they had risen. With a last look to the young woman at his side, he accepts the challenge and steps forward to sit in the place of Kings.

A seat, yet not. It held him up, yet supported him with nothing. The strength of his own ties, imagination, and personality were what would be measured, weighed, and tested. Immediately upon sitting, the energies within the space begin to swirl and coalesce. At its base, the Courts of Chaos glitters in a thousand tiny lights, as he had seen them in his vision before facing Lord Serpent — a tapestry of all the Houses woven together to create a whole that could never be defeated as long as the ties remained strong. He would be that tie.

Within the back, a strong heart that knew love and loss and had survived and learned much at the far end of the Multiverse. A fleeting swirl of color and warmth, a heart supported by the steadfast love of another who held firm to faith in him, no matter the circumstance.

Duty and responsibility were what tied the base to the back, arms of granite that would hold firm and strong against tides of desire and weakness. And throughout it all, the scales of Lord Serpent shimmered with their otherworldly irridescence, a likeness that could only be wrought by one who had stood before such a mighty Power and witnessed their light and life. Lord Serpent, the Source of All in Chaos, who had granted this one a boon. He would remain their benefactor.

This was the vision that this new King brought to this place at this time, a Chaos that would be reignited with beauty and glory as they once again found their core and reinvented their future.

The monster, once a man, merely gives a grunt and goes to the great doors of abysm stone to break the seals and throw them open.

Dara finally stands, grumbling something that sounds much like a curse in the House Tongue of Hendrake's.

The amorous attention for her lover was severed at the crackling, gravely sound of another's voice. Eyes shift to the slow moving creature that belonged to her. "Are you recovering?" she asked plainly; seeing that asking if she was well would only insight a conflagration of spite and acrid spittle drooling from her Lady's lips.

"I have been better," Dara answers, staring now at the King on his throne. "Much better…."

He gestures for Margot to approach and indicates a smaller chair that forms itself out of the nothingness next to the Throne. Less grandiose and ethereal, it formed of gracious lines and golden light.

"Be wary of the crevasse," he warns her, already becoming aware of the crack that was forming itself near the base of the throne where he sat. Narrow and dark, but visible against the bright tapestry of the base, it creeps up past the arms to wrap about the back so that its end (or beginning) rested near his heart. To look too closely within that twisted blackness is to feel a chilling emptiness and a nameless sorrow that could start tears in even the most stalwart.

"Lady Dara of Hendrake. Your task has now become much more difficult," he addresses the Lady who still recovered. "Do you remain equal to the challenge?"

"Who's to say my task isn't completed?" A smirking Dara shares. "Amusing to think you would believed my oath was so open-ended, never could I leave. The Queen of Amber wasn't so foolish not to grant me hope, she knew I would serve better if there was a end."

The courtly dance of Houses begins as Lady Dara, formerly of House Hendrake, awaits the next words of her King.

Margot took her place at Her Lord's side, mindful of his caution while sitting the smaller throne elegantly. The Princess claimed her place, owned it as if was hers alone, the regal air of entitlement weaving itself through the raven haired beauty's gentle features and delicate grace. A young woman born with the purpose to seat a throne; her transformation was slight but hardly unnoticeable. Where her lover felt the desperate tug of aimlessness, emotionless, pain of the Abyss; she was the opposite side of the coin, radiating passion, compassion and nurturing, loving endurance.

"Do you claim otherwise, Sister?" Margot asked, the incredulity weaving through her words.

He tilts his head and gives Dara a little smile. "Since none here but you know the terms of your oath, none but you may look to the preservation of your honor. If your obligation is done and you have no other tie to the Amberite Princess, then my use for you is at an end as well. You may fade into the obscurity that awaits a War Mistress of Hendrake who failed in her conquest and was taken as a prisoner of war."

And for someone like Dara, obscurity could very well mean death, in spirit and in body.

"Perhaps then, my King, you would give me leave so I myself may stand at the Abyss and await Lord Serpent's judgement?" Dara answers with a knowing smile. "As one who was also tormented by the Unicorn, He might…" The smile fades. Both she and Kendall knew the truth of what would occur if anyone came before Lord Serpent with Her scent upon them.

"The Unicorn's avatar was in my cell as much as the Queen, always asking her questions," the Hendrake says. "Perhance She knew what was coming, and only lied when She called me a daughter."

He leans back against his seat, watching her with his eyes of blood. He could see the truth even if she did not know to ask, or chose not to. In any case, she had no more reason to believe him than the Unicorn. "What have you to offer me, apart from continuing to serve as guardian to my consort?"

Margot's frame did not relax as Kendall's did, her posture remaining straight, though not distressed. She watched the two barter with Dara's future, intrigued and interested; but remaining quiet for the moment rather than interfere with things that may be better left observed alone.

"I'm a waste there, for the Royal Court has those who could guard her against assassination near to my level. Advice, perhaps, if she listened which I find unlikely. Which leaves only a child, which the Unicorn taunted me with. The possibility of a girl-child, who could bring the Hell Maidens to their knees in beloved slavery." The weakness, the vulnerability of before is shrugged off like a cloak and the old Dara returns. "She I could guard, advise, help her move past the greatness of her father… like it was just a treasured dream. Only a child who surpassed, is truly worthy of you, my King."

At the end, its a bow that Dara gives to the man on the throne to await his decision.

"A word," Margot responded to Kendall, in askance before continuing. "Advisement is a gift, this is true, and one greatly valued," she spoke calmly to the woman standing before them, "But it is not equal to bending to your will with every action, Sister. I have listened and when I have believed in my heart that your wisdom was the path to follow, I did so and put my faith in your guidance. You asked that I not open a parcel and to this day, it remains wrapped as you had presented it, despite my desire to know what treasures rest beneath the wrap. So, perhaps clarity is required, for my benefit…Speak plainly, is it your expectation that I bend to your every will and whim at each turn while you act as Lady Guardian?" The tone remained even, curious and still commanding. The Princess did not accuse, nor did she judge; she simply requested that Dara speak her desires.

He remains motionless and silent for many heartbeats, thinking on Dara's proposal while Margot poses her question. He nods when silence falls among them again. "You may respond to the query, Lady Dara, before I give you my answer."

"Beloved Consort, that is why I can not be your advisor. I seek not to wield but to sharpen, and that will never be in your heart. Thelbane will only be a smaller and smaller world for you, I'm sorry to say. As fates go, for you it may be beyond your dreams. But to me, and your love, it would be like death. We seek not only for ourselves, but for our blood who follow. If the Unicorn spoke the truth, this girl-child will unite Chaos in such a way… Truly glories, even if it would claim my life!" The passion rolls off of Dara in waves, as things not yet are remembered. "My own, both sons and daughters, would gut any foe who dared say my name above a whisper." She looks to Margot, truly sorry to what she is about to say. "That is why I must leave, for I do not love him…. I serve."

"Then it is your choice to not continue your service to me, Lady Guardian?" Margot returned.

"Prove to me first that your honor is still intact, Lady Dara," he interjects. "Challenges to my position will arise very soon, and Margot will be at a disadvantage. She carries the future that you seek. See that she survives these initial confrontations, and you will see a change in your fortunes."

"Tis a wise decision, and one I expected. With the Consort's permission, I request to return to those duties that I just left."

"Sister, I had not yet accepted your resignation… your presence will be valued, your knowledge treasured, and your blade an extension of my will." Margot replied with a soft smile, recalling the words from a previous conversation.

Since that was pretty close to what he would have said as well, the new King turns his attention to other matters and leaves the two ladies to their talk. He looks to the open doors and the one who had guarded this place, to see if he remained or had returned to wherever it was he sheltered during the endless Cycles of his duty. Now that the doors had opened and the Throne was once more occupied, it would only be a short matter of time before the Heralds went out and word spread.

With the new king, upon his eddying throne on the inland of ebony stone suspended above the Abyss. The Broken Man working on the Proscribed, the seals upon the doors put there upon the death of the last king. Once ruined, the foreboding will be sent to all the Houses to that, a new king has been selected. A sight, few see in a lifetime…

In Thelbane, the real center of all things. The sky turns dark, as Blacksky approached. Servants go quiet in the many halls, and like a great beast, Thelbane pauses for a breath as all listen. Its not a word, or a bell a-ring, or a page running the hallways screaming. For Thelbane, and its Court, elegances is refined. Its not with a thought, but a feeling. Their world struck right, once again with a flop just seated on a embroidered cushion. For what perhaps is the Truth, in the halls of the Great Houses, here in Thelbane and the Royal Court… is just a lie.

From here, Chaos is ruled. Here upon this Throne, armies are moved with the same ease as the new King would grip his cup to drink the dew of his victory. A thousand ships would sail with just a nod, and he could woo tens of thousands with a sigh. Heavy is the brow of he who wears the crown, yet many are his choices.

The first through the doors are the most loyal of the loyal. His personal guards, things less then people, since all their thoughts were upon his safety. Yet things that found themselves to be helpless, when the Silver Prince did come, and slay their last master. Demons that flow, half-men that skitter upon the balconies and promenades, and creatures of all teeth. Each to a position, a place, to guard till Death does too find the chance to take him. Their master, upon the throne, in the heart of Thelbane. Where all end, and all begin, so true with it being the Center of Reality.

Next comes the armies, soldiers from a thousand houses rallying to his cause. Not to conquer, or quest for a item, even amusing with use like living toys in some imaginary battle. The beauty of their colors, is dazzling to one's eyes and trigger pride. Glory, by pennants and trophies, hymns to the laurels of being serving. If pride didn't swell his heart, to the viewing. He had none then, to beat within his chest. Yet even if that was true, Kendall could understand how Lady Dara so grieve and miss her past life. To be at the head, with a army so colossal and deathly. Holding the reins tight, of a most terrible beast which would chew-up any of his enemies.

Behind them, the children, youth like he was so long ago. Not hostages, exactly, yet their lives could be on the line if their Houses object to the new King's ascension. But for now, students still to the wonder. Both of the Throne, and Royal Court, and now to the marvel of a new king claiming his throne. Yet if the King does nothing more then bring such astonishment to these children, still he could be proud of that.

In streams next the Lords and the Ladies, of the Greater Houses do show. Many of those in the power, leaders or the right hands of those that rule the varies manors. To his own, his once former House, Kendall sees his mother, sister, and father. Gifts and tokens, daughters to be married. All come before his throne, to speak to the new king, or demand to view his blessing. Many are visibly upset, a few even crying bloody tears to this destruction of plots in play for millenniums. Moaning to how one so young, could sweep clean what took them so long to spin. Kendall's own parents, under glares that could burn from the other Chaos Lords. Never again, could he sleep easy. His own hate, with Kendall's nature, now just a noose around his throat.

Then Minors, Houses who scrape and bow before their betters. Houses like Tinor, and countless others, those that serve the Greater Houses or fall before them. Servants, yet beloved more then any in the Black Zone or out in Shadow. Pawns in the Game, he must ever play with the Greater. For a King is not a king, unless he has an opponent. And a King can not become a great king, unless he has several opponents.

In comes the Allies, from the Black Zone and Beyond. Pets released to play, and believe they're other. Even in the mix, Kendall spots the one named Brand. His rage makes that of the king's father look pale and humble. Prince Devlin of Amber, half-brother to Morgana trailing his uncle with what looks to be a smile. Yet the joke is on him, for Brand will never be allowed close… for like a mangy dog, it would be someone's head if their new king did pick-up fleas.

The new King is quiet and detached throughout the procession, displaying neither pride and satisfaction, nor hatred or venom to those who are forced to come before him to acknowledge his new position. Those who had schemed and planned from the safety of the darkness for countless Cycles wept bitterly as their plots crumbled, but he felt no remorse or sympathy. Any of those could have taken the utterly simple yet harrowing steps that he himself had taken, either to realize their ambitions or to be completely lost to history.

Instead, he watches those who would call him Majesty, already beginning his own plans and schemes to secure his power and the power of his descendants.

The anger and hatred of the one who he had once called Father, was now of no account. Ulrich was nothing more to him than another vassal, and so he accepts the Duke of Chanicut's fealty as is his due. Though some might expect retribution for the circumstances of their last parting, the son knew that he had already taken enough away from his father. Yet when the Lady Grania steps forward to offer her respect, the new King extends his hand to her, offering her a place in his Court, should she desire it.

As for Brand… he was a small irritant, yet one that had attempted to prick Kendall, and who had shown himself to be resilient and resourceful. The words of his once-kinsman, Brisbane, returned to the King's mind. And Kendall attempts to discern with his new insight whether Brand was, indeed, unkillable.

Once all arrayed, a unified shout arose, acclaiming the new King of Chaos.

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