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Two Crows Watch from the Gallows Tree



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Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:07 am
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@ShadowVyper
Lord Ithicus Tarr, Wolf Keep, Fangholm


Ithicus Tarr was not one to let the cold get to him.
He was not a small man, standing at an even 6' with an upright, muscular silhouette. There was enough meat on his bones that he wasn't shivering beneath his warm, fur-lined cloak, certainly, and the snow hare ushanka on his head kept his ears perfectly snug even in the sub-zero temperatures.
He could not say the same for his general.
"My lord, is this completely necessary?" General Utrid whined, stamping his boots in the snow. "It's perfectly acceptable to wait inside." Tarr shot him a glare and fixed his gaze back on the road.
"To look weak in front of a worm is to lower yourself below its level," he growled. His grandfather had said something along those lines. Or had it been about a weasel? Either way, it did sound rather grand. "We wait outside," he clarified when Utrid gave a bewildered huff.
The two men stood atop the wall in silence then, staring out at the night-shadowed forest beyond the walls of Wolf Keep. It was quiet save for the distant hoofbeats of their approaching visitor, who was not yet in sight but who Tarr was sure would be arriving any minute now. A small flock of birds startled not far from the edge of the forest, and Tarr's well-trained hunter's eyes picked it up.
"There." He pointed, and General Utrid followed his finger. "He's there. See? You can warm your toes soon, old man."
He, on the other hand, would not be made to wait any longer. There was business to tend to.
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her





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Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:18 am
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Aleth Klev | Wolf Keep | Fangholm


Aleth set his file on his lap and rubbed his face with a deep sigh. He'd spent most of the ride refreshing himself on various details that would be nice to know when he got to Lord Tarr's estate.

He looked across the carriage at Ky, who was sitting stiffly with her hands tucked under her legs to warm them and gazed fixed out the window. Stoic. She looked at him when she felt his gaze on her, but her expression didn't betray any emotion.

"Are you cold?" Aleth asked, noticing the way her lips were turning blue, even though she was decidedly refusing to bury herself in her coat.

"Yes," she answered simply.

"I think we're almost there," he said.

Ky nodded once, then peered out the window again. A while later she spoke again. "I think we're here. There are two men on top of the wall, watching."

Aleth clucked his tongue and slid his file into his satchel, then pushed it across the carriage towards Ky. She took it and slung it over her body, then folded the fur that Aleth had been curled under as he handed it to her as well. The carriage came to a stop.

Aleth took a deep breath, readying himself for his performance. He glanced at Ky once more. "Remember, charming."

"Yes, sir," she murmured.

He plastered a grin on his face just as Tadaaki pulled open the carriage door from the outside, then climbed out, looking for his host.
"ur already a big kid scientist in my eyes" - veersies
"u and rina are systematically watering down the grammar of yws" - Tuck
"The chaos quad is here" - FireEyes

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Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:23 am
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Tarr descended the wall with General Utrid as the guards cranked open the massive doors of Wolf Keep. They were, as all the doors of the Lords' Keeps were, adorned with elaborate engravings of the patron animal and wars fought and won. The delicate wood etchings contrasted the raw power emanating from the towering fortress that was Tarr's abode.
The moment the doors were fully open, Tarr motioned for the carriage to come through. He did not smile; there was little reason to do so. They were at war and this man was a necessary evil. Tarr wanted to win it so he and his new bride could get to work making sons, not to mention capitalizing on the new land that would surely come their way if the Serpent Fell.
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her





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Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:31 am
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"Lord Tarr!" Aleth said brightly, noting the fact that Tarr wasn't returning the smile. Hmm. He wouldn't let that dissuade him. He'd been invited here for a reason, which meant that Tarr needed him, whether he wanted to admit or not. He'd win him over. "Thank you so much for the invitation, I've looked forward to seeing you again!"

Ky exchanged a look with Tadaaki as she climbed down from the carriage. The poor man looked even colder than she felt, having been on the front guiding the horses. She lowered her voice. "I'll get the luggage."

"It's fine," Tadaaki muttered. "Go be charming."

Ky stepped forward, stopping half a step behind Aleth. She put on her best grin, eyes flicking between the two men in front of her, not quite sure which of them were Lord Tarr. So, she angled vaguely towards them both and gave a humble bow, pretending that everything was fine, and that she could still feel her fingers.

The silence was stretching a bit too long for comfort. Aleth clapped his hands together, hoping that Tarr would invite them in out of this damnable cold quickly, and continued brightly, "How have you been faring?"
"ur already a big kid scientist in my eyes" - veersies
"u and rina are systematically watering down the grammar of yws" - Tuck
"The chaos quad is here" - FireEyes

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Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:36 am
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"Very well," Tarr replied, coming out of his stony demeanor and entering a more robust, if a little gruff, manner of welcome. "I can't say I don't miss life as a bachelor, but my Lady has proven to be excellent company." He inclined his head slightly, remembering what his mother had said about manners, then gestured to the doors of the castle. "Come, let's get you settled. We have much to discuss and I have been waiting a very long time." His eyes barely flickered over the two assistants as he clapped Aleth on the back and guided him toward the warmth of the entrance hall. "Your journey wasn't troubled, I hope."
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her





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Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:44 am
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Aleth was relieved that Tarr relented on his grim act. He took a deep breath, mindfully releasing some of the tension from his shoulders as he filed away the offhanded comments about bachelor life. He smiled brightly, wrapping his arm around Tarr in a brief embrace, walking towards the castle. "No, no, not at all!"

It'd been a terrible trip. These northern lands were a frozen hellscape. Even Tadaaki, as strong and silent and stoic as he was, couldn't remain at the front of the carriage more than an hour or two at a time. Ky swapped out with him and... did her best, or so she claimed, but she was a terrible coachman and Tadaaki took over when he got tired of getting beat around under her shoddy guidance.

"I've stayed warm with the thought of seeing you and the Lady once more," Aleth answered, smiling at Tarr again. "And with the anticipation of our talks. I believe that we will be an excellent pair, if I do say so myself."
"ur already a big kid scientist in my eyes" - veersies
"u and rina are systematically watering down the grammar of yws" - Tuck
"The chaos quad is here" - FireEyes

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Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:50 am
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"I expect so. We are both of excellent strategic intellect, after all." Servants bustled out of the way as the Lord of Wolf Keep strode through without a glance, and Tarr held his head high. General Utrid trailed behind, breathing warm air onto his fingers. "I think this will be fun." War had always been something Tarr wanted to try. As a boy he had thrashed his siblings with a wooden sword until his little brother bled, and his hunting dogs had born the brunt of his many rages. Tarr believed himself to be a man built for the roar and carnage of battle, and now at just eighteen years old he was finally going to get his mettle tested.
He could hardly wait.
"Have you eaten? We can talk over dinner," he offered, though he had no appetite right now. His blood was already up at just the sight of his visitor.

(Well, that's me off to bed. Good night! I can't wait to continue)
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her





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Wed Mar 24, 2021 5:07 am
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Spoiler! :
Night! I'm also super excited, this is gonna be so great!

Aleth smirked a bit as Tarr complimented himself. He'd pegged his host as having a massive ego, and he was glad to be right. It was much easier to manipulate people who thought they had everything figured out.

This will be fun. So, he was naive, too. To even consider that war could be anything approaching pleasurable. Sure, Aleth found a certain measure of satisfaction in knowing that he was setting to rest a job well done. But it was never fun. War was just weeks -- months -- of constantly finding yourself on the brink of death, either by the hands of the enemy, or the rapidly changing graces of your host.

"Dinner sounds lovely!" Aleth answered enthusiastically, giving him an appreciative smile as he finally pulled away a bit. With any luck, it'd be something warm. And with even more luck, maybe it would be offered in a room with a big fireplace. "Not even in your home for a proper minute, and already showing such generous hospitality. You're too kind, my lord."

He kept his smile in place, but eyed Tarr, trying to gauge what reaction he'd have to the 'my lord' comment. Some people were sticklers about "I'm not your Lord" if you weren't technically one of their subjects, while others enjoyed having their ego stroked. And he could play either side.
"ur already a big kid scientist in my eyes" - veersies
"u and rina are systematically watering down the grammar of yws" - Tuck
"The chaos quad is here" - FireEyes

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Wed Mar 24, 2021 2:21 pm
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Tarr did nearly smile, but he kept a tight hold on his business like countenance and snapped his fingers at a maid.
"Has my wife ordered dinner made yet?" he demanded. The maid stopped short, blinking at him in bewilderment for a moment before replying, "My lord, dinner was served three hours ago. You were up on the wall; the steward thought it best we not disturb you." Tarr's face darkened at that.
"Well, I have a guest to feed. Have a full feast prepared immediately!"
"B-but my lord..."
"Now!" he bellowed, and the maid fled, bobbing a quick curtsey. Tarr turned back to Aleth, grimacing. "It seems we will be made to wait before filling our stomachs. I'll have to have words with my wife."
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her





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Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:15 am
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"No, no, not at all," Aleth answered smoothly, filing that information away too.

So, troubles with his wife. Already. That didn't take long. And, based on the maid's words and Tarr's reactions, he guessed that he'd made a habit of being a broody, absent husband. It would be interesting to see how these dynamics played out. But, for now, he didn't want to be in the middle of a lover's quarrel.

"The last thing I want to be is a burden to your hospitality," he continued, keeping his gaze fixed on Tarr, but he reached his hand out and waved it, silently dismissing Ky from following him around. "No need to make a fuss on my account, my lord."

~ ~ ~

Ky watched the interactions, taking careful note of Tarr's posture and words. Aleth would want to talk about it with her later, no doubt. So, she hung back, well out of the scope of attention -- exactly where she wanted to be.

But, then, Aleth dismissed her with a wave of his hand. And now she didn't quite know what to do. She looked around uncertainly, wandering away so that it wouldn't seem like she was eavesdropping now that she'd been dismissed, and hoping that someone would take pity and tell her what to do now.
"ur already a big kid scientist in my eyes" - veersies
"u and rina are systematically watering down the grammar of yws" - Tuck
"The chaos quad is here" - FireEyes

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Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:26 am
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A manservant caught sight of her immediately and smiled tensely. "Ah, you must be one of the visitor's assistants. Will you be staying in the servants' quarters or up in one of the private rooms, sir?"

"We'll have a feast made up," Tarr retorted. "I won't have my guests starving on their first night. Brutus!" A passing servant snapped to attention even as Tarr strode past. "Send for my wife and tell her we're having another dinner." He glanced back at Aleth as he ascended a set of stairs. "We'll speak in my study in the meantime." He walked on in silence, trying to think of something else to say. All he really wanted to do was get down to business. "As of right now, who do you think will win? Ash has the larger army to be certain, but Loquitur's got the high ground, don't you think?" Loquitur would win, of course. Only the Bledroes were in support of the Serpent Lord, while Loquitur had Tarr and the Ladies Barraster backing him. It was no contests, in Tarr's opinion.
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her





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Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:44 am
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"Um..." Ky watched as Tarr whisked Aleth away, not quite sure the answer to that. She looked back at the servant. "Near to Master Klev, I imagine." She flashed an appreciative smile. "Thank you."

~ ~ ~


Aleth watched passively. He definitely didn't have even a modicum of respect for his wife. Which was hardly surprising, but good to keep in mind. He could probably use that to his advantage. He'd try, anyway.

If he remembered correctly, Lyra was on the younger side of things to be a wife. She was probably miserable here. Easy to manipulate. Aleth almost wished that he could reveal that Ky was a girl, so they could have some 'girl time' and maybe get some information out of her. Still, it could work. Depending on how loyal Lyra was, maybe Ky could still try to sweet-talk her -- as much as would be respectable, of course -- to see if she'd slip up and tell them anything useful about Tarr or her father.

"Loquitur, no doubt," Aleth answered quickly. In reality, he hadn't quite made up his mind. It didn't matter, yet. Tarr had been the one to offer gold, so Aleth had come. And, he'd leave, if things started going badly. But he didn't need to share that quite then. "The gods tend to favor those who are in the right, and it's clear who that is. Besides, Lord Loquitur has you on his side, which is more than enough to tip the balance in his favor, even if the odds had been against him, my lord."
"ur already a big kid scientist in my eyes" - veersies
"u and rina are systematically watering down the grammar of yws" - Tuck
"The chaos quad is here" - FireEyes

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Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:50 am
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"I'll take you there, then." The man motioned for her to follow him, then strode down the corridor in the opposite direction from Tarr.

Tarr could tell his ego was being deliberately stroked, this time. It got to him more than he was willing to admit, so instead he scowled and tugged at his dark beard.
"They're a pair of wily bastards, those brothers," he muttered. "No telling who'll make what move. Pity Loquitur's too frightened of hurting his men to do something proper cunning. Ash wouldn't hesitate." He glanced at Aleth. "Mind you, if the cripple had offered me something better than a young wife I'd have taken his offer in a heartbeat. That one's the side to go to if you want riches." Ash would have nothing to do with the Tarrs, of course. Somehow the man had morals deep in that rotted heart of his, and he stuck to them with rigid pride. "The trades I could have with that House," Tarr mused wistfully. "Have you met him?"
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her





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Thu Mar 25, 2021 5:00 am
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ShadowVyper says...



Aleth wasn't going to rise to the bait. Tarr didn't know what Aleth thought, much less what he felt. Mostly because Aleth didn't feel much of anything at all, most of the time. Even now, he had little more than cold, calculating curiosity about his young host. This entire war be damned, Aleth didn't care what happened, as long as he got well-compensated for his troubles.

"I've not," Aleth answered. "All I've heard is second-hand accounts. Do you know him well?"

~ ~ ~


Ky followed the servant to her chambers, thanking him again before she settled in. A prick of guilt stabbed through her. Poor Tadaaki. Sure, he probably had more muscle in his right arm alone than she had in her entire body. But it still wasn't fair that he'd been left to deal with the luggage.

She settled down by the window, pulling a fresh sheet of paper out of the satchel she still wore. She didn't take her coat off quite yet, even though this room was much, much warmer than outside.

"Eager for war. Disdain for wife." She scratched down in Orchian, then folded the paper several times and slid it in the pocket of the satchel, well out of sight, just in case someone in this castle happened to be able to read that language by chance.
"ur already a big kid scientist in my eyes" - veersies
"u and rina are systematically watering down the grammar of yws" - Tuck
"The chaos quad is here" - FireEyes

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Thu Mar 25, 2021 5:09 am
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"I met him once," Tarr replied evenly. "I wasn't impressed. He's all show, hiding behind a silly mask of self-importance. I expect it's compensation for his lame leg and hand." Tarr had found himself genuinely unnerved by the quiet Lord when they met at the Grand Council last year. Lord Ash rarely smiled, and when he did it was only a sliver of one. His eyes and his manner were reptilian, or perhaps catlike...either way, Tarr disliked him immediately. Ash was smarter than anyone he'd met, he knew that the second he laid eyes on him. That made him a threat, and Tarr's usual way of dealing with threats wasn't going to work on that one. "I expect you two would get along. From what I've heard you're quite cunning as well."
They reached the top of the stairs, and Tarr turned left toward his study, which lay at the very end of this hall.
"When we walk on the bones of the landscape,
We walk on the Ancient ones themselves.
If we stop and listen,
we can hear their dreams." --Trolls, by Brian and Wendy Froud

Formerly RavenLord, she/her








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