01 Homecomings

Every story has a beginning, every life a birth, to this Psionics is like any other tale. Know then, that it is the year 1617 and the place is Des Versailles France. Absolutism has become the law, the legendary Musketeers serve as the king's personal army, and still there are things evolving which spurn both myth and disdain. Follow the tales of a new breed of humans rising from within the French kingdom of Louis XIII. Choose a side and become a part of history, whether as a 'Gifted', Truth-Seeker, or even a fabled Musketeer the adventure promises to fulfill. The minimum word count is 200.
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Shadow
Psionics Beginnings
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by Shadow » January 1st, 2018, 11:36 pm

OOC Shadow w Aquilon - JP

Beau descended the main stairs when he heard the commotion from the parlor. Fading to invisible, he quieted his steps and cautiously approached. Three Musketeers lead a well dress man to the front drawing room. The butler appeared as if on cue; he attended the man’s cloak and served a glass of chilled water.

Aquilon stood in the drawing room and the feeling of being watched intensified. He turned around upon hearing the slightest of noises but there was nobody there. Suspecting someone hiding behind some tapestry and ducking back when he turned, Aquilon began to make the air on the ground near his feet freezing cold. As he had hoped, a mist began to form from the extreme difference in temperature. He stood perfectly still waiting to see if there was any disturbance in the mist from the movement of this unseen visitor. As the mist spread to all corners of the room he was surprised to see an area where the mist did not settle, as though someone was there.

Watching the man carefully, Beau stepped further into the room. He thought to test the man. He knew being invisible would help this. “Why is it that a noble stranger shall be traveling with Versailles Musketeers to this manor?”

"I hope you are not a ghost, but if you are, trust me in that I will defend myself," he said, hoping his fears unfounded.

Shadow faded back to solid form. He swiped his hand back and forth dismissing the chilled fog away from him. "No ghosts here, only the brethren of the gifted." He smiled, put a fist to his chest and bowed his head. "I am called Shadow, apprentice, heir to the manor's lord, and betrothed to his niece. Allow me to welcome you, brethren."

"Indeed, you are not even a shadow in your former state!" Antonio bellowed. He bowed deeply towards Shadow. "I am Antonio Frigerio of Milan, also known as Aquilon, named after the ancient Roman god of the north wind, bringer of winter. I witnessed one such as us at a local inn, a woman who commands the flames as I do the frost. Her open display of her gift prompted me to contact the Musketeers she spoke to which led me to this manor. I have traveled far looking for others such as ourselves but all the leads in the past have only brought me to myths or to a case where one was dragged off or killed by the Truth-seekers. It is a relief to have now found not one but two of the gifted."

Shadow sat in the decorative lounge with a gesture towards the rest of the furnishings. "I know of only one woman able to control flames. My betrothed, she is the daughter of the manor's lord. Unfortunately, neither is available at the moment. However, you have come to the right place. We do provide shelter for our kind, a place of protection and refuge, especially from the Truth-seekers. If you ask me, those heathens are more trouble than they're worth.”

"And they are a trouble that keeps growing," Aquilon added as he sat down. "In my travels across Europe, there were places where they had the ear of the local clergy. In one town in Bavaria, they had captured one of us and the townspeople who supported the man were dragged off by the church for being in league with the devil. I arrived mere days after the occurrence and did what I could to free the man, but he had already been tortured to death. The only consolation was that he was able to take out several of the Truth-seekers with the lightning he could call forth. I am not ashamed to say I did what I could when I could to make their lives miserable."

Shadow sighed with dismay. "So their ilk is spreading like a plague?" He asked more to himself. "Of course they would say the same of us. Yet they are the ones behaving in such a barbaric manner." The news distressed him and caused a surge of memories from his youth. Aside from Curran, he had not told anyone of his family's reaction to his own abilities emerging. He then looked to Aquilon. "Come, you can settle in the rooms across from mine and then we will seek out Lord Curran. He's most likely in his lab."

"I thank you for your hospitality, yours and Lord Curran's," Aquilon said. The pair stood up and walked through the hallways towards their quarters. As they passed one room, Aquilon glanced in and saw a familiar face.

"I'm surprised to see Lord Hubert Dewitt here," Aquilon said quietly. "I wouldn't have guessed that he would support our kind. From my one encounter with him, I would have thought the opposite."

A cold look cast over Shadow's eyes, he set a finger to his lips and whispered. "Say nothing; Lord Hubert is an unwelcome guest. It happens from time to time and we simply keep our mouths shut while our eyes and ears are left open."

He ushered Aquilon passed the chamber and deeper down the corridor. Several minutes later they stepped through a set of large double oak doors and into the front room of one of the guest suits.

"I can't express enough how much disdain we have for the man and his alliances. From what I know, he only came to deliver news and the late hour requires them to bed the night. I will watch them."

"Thank you for the warning," Aquilon said quietly. "I will assume that any I meet here are ignorant of our situation unless I am told otherwise. It has been a while since I've had to play politics but I know the game well."

Aquilon paused for a moment and decided it best to get the truth out to Shadow. "There were times in the past when I've had to resort to robbery to get enough to survive. I'm not proud of what I did and I never took all a person had, that is except for in the case of Lord Hubert. I cleaned out his box and made sure the majority of his funds were passed on to those who needed it more than he. I was masked at the time so he will not recognize me should we pass each other, but I felt it important to tell you what I've done and what my history with him was."

"Do not trouble yourself with worry about such things," Shadow said. The corner of his lips twitched with a smile. "Many of us have done things we're not proud of."

"Is there some name I should call you if we are near others," Aquilon asked. "Shadow is unlikely your given name and it is not an identity I would wish to accidentally share."

"My given name is Beau Austin Alastair; Chauni calls me Beau, most others call me Austin. If you would like to settle in, I will fetch Lord Curran for introductions."

"Yes and thank you again." Aquilon nodded.

Shadow bowed out of the room, closing the doors behind him. Sauntering down the corridor he faded invisible again to spy on the unwelcome guests. Seeing them snoozing, he made his way downstairs, into the lower region of the manor and Curran's private hollow.

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Lady Elizabo
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by Lady Elizabo » January 2nd, 2018, 11:47 pm

Elizabo w Dewitt

Hubert was furious. Lord Curran had treated him as if he was some commoner to be dismissed as if he were nothing. He seethed at the slight but there was nothing he could do about it. He heard a snicker and turned to glare at Elizabo. He couldn’t stand the woman. She was one of Delaney’s peons who had been assigned to watch him make sure he performed his mission. Everything about her made him disgusted. She had been widowed young and had never remarried. That, however, had not kept her out of every male’s bed that might cross her path. She was full of secrets and a cruelness that made him sweat. Such cruelness in a man would be scary but combined with her feminine wiles it made her downright frightening.

“Poor Hubert, still smarting from the sting of Curran’s dismissal… You should be flattered he even allowed you to enter.” Elizabo watched his reaction carefully. Delaney was paying her handsomely to babysit this buffoon and to find a certain young thief who’d had the audacity to steal from Lord Delaney. She didn’t care what the thief had stolen but the reward from Delaney for finding the lad was more than she would be able to con a dozen men out of in a year. So, she had agreed to be saddled with the fat slob Hubert that she could get closer to her main goal: sleeping with Delaney and learning his secrets. Of course, if Hubert got out of hand, she had ways of dealing with him that were quick and untraceable.

“Do not mock me, woman! No one insults me like that and gets away with it. I will find a way to repay Curran for his words. I know his weakness. It’s his family, it always has been. I will get him and will enjoy laughing in his face when things crumble around him!” he hotly declared, his fat face a mottled red in his ire.

“Of course you will, my lord,” Elizabo soothed though privately she laughed inside at his bluster. He was fat, slow, and not very bright. Curran was younger, healthier and knew how to fight. It was obvious who would win the battle. “Why don’t you rest? We must leave in the morning to deliver the other message before we are able to return to the city and to Lord Delaney. I don’t know about you but too much country air makes me sick.”

Hubert snarled again but said nothing as he stomped to his bed and got in it. Elizabo stifled a laugh before retiring to her own room to rest, stupid males and their pride. Well everyone knew pride cometh before a fall. And the fall, at least for Hubert, would be spectacular indeed.

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Archivist
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by Archivist » January 4th, 2018, 2:09 pm

OOC - Originally posted by Aquilon

Antonio felt a thirst come to him and yet he found himself lingering by the fireplace, barely acknowledging his glass water goblet as he stared into the flames. His thoughts were on the encounters over the past week. He suspected it would be some time before the Inn Keeper would be able to enter his room. The thought made him chuckle.

He wondered about the guests upstairs, Lord Hubert and his woman of the normal bloods. He had learned to be distrusting and leery of the ungifted, especially Lord Hubert. He then found himself curious as to how Lord Curran and his family felt about the intruders, the uninvited.

A vision flashed through his mind. Just a moment’s fantasy but a good laugh indeed. For that brief moment, he fancied the vision of Lord Hubert on those frozen stairs, making one false move and then dropping down them one step at a time with his fat rump. Yet another chuckle escaped him thanks to his imagination.

A brisk knock on the door drew him from though. Upon opening the oaken barrier, a servant was revealed.

"Master Alistair wishes you to go to the front drawing-room so that he may bring you to meet with Lord Curran." The man bowed respectfully.

He followed the servant man back to the drawing room. He had a sense of understanding that whatever happened in the meeting it was going to change his life and there was no going back.

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J
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by J » January 7th, 2018, 3:57 pm

OOC- J w Curran - JP

J berated and cursed for having said too much and yet not enough. Only hope remained that the man J had come to regard as a father would keep safe. J had used Curran's mistaken assumption to put the Lord on guard, though Shadow was not the culprit. No, not Shadow but others who used the night and its shadows to do dirty deeds.

J was anxious, knowing the Lord Prince was on the hunt as well because J had a secret. It was dangerous to have information, and even more deadly to have witnessed who had killed Lord Curran's brother. It stirred anger in the thief for having been too late to save the man who had given J a chance at a life other than the one fate had handed down.

"Stupid, I am," J growled in disgust while scanning the forest for intruders.

Maria led her horse along the damp grass as she enjoyed the wonderful weather. She looked back and noticed that the sun was setting and decided to move into the forest area for the night. Once she had made that decision, she returned to thinking about the conversation she’d had with her employer. No matter how many times she thought about it, she couldn’t understand why her target was so special. But her employer wanted the target and she had never failed to retrieve what she had been sent after. With a scowl of frustration, she stopped the horse and stepped down. The clearing was in the middle of the forest. She turned when she heard a rustle of leaves, but figured it was nothing, and returned to set up for the night.

After finishing with unrolling all necessities from her sack, she proceeded to collect firewood to cook one of the rabbits she had caught along the way. As she began to move around, she stopped and looked out into the darkness of the night.

Diablo abruptly stopped and his tail swished hard attracting J's attention. J leaned forward and listened. He could make out sounds that did not go with the normal noises of the forest. J tried to decide what to do. Feeling aggressive, he forced Diablo in the direction of the sounds. They stopped just out of sight. J slid down Diablo's side and crept to look. He saw the woman and he frowned. Drawing out his dagger, he prepared to strike. What's with all these strangers in Curran's forest?

Even though she did not see anyone, she could feel the presence of an angry force in the winds. She lowered the branches in front of her and stood erect again, in case this being was not in the mood to talk.

"Ho stranger," called Maria. "There is no need for violence. I am settling down for the night. Please come forth so that I may catch a glimpse of your face in the moonlight."

J felt ashamed. It was not this stranger he was mad at but himself. Sighing he emerged, the hood of his black cloak pulled up over his head, concealing his features. "Ho yourself, I mean you no violence," J showed the dagger and then put it away. "Who are you and why are you on Lord Bontecou's lands?"

Maria cursed. She had not known these woods belonged to a lord. She thought she had talked to enough people in the last village to know where she was going, but apparently not. "My name is Maria Calum of Wales. I am a woman grown tired of my home country and am traveling the world for adventure, fame, fortune, whatever you may find in these parts. However, death is not one I would like to find anytime soon."

"Do not worry, Lord Bontecou will not harm you for being unaware. He leaves in the morning. Perhaps it is best if I lead you to his place and he can take care of you from there. He looks for people he can trust," J's tone was bittersweet.

“Many thanks,” Maria said with a curtsy. “Now if you will let me gather my things, we shall be off.” She stuffed her belongings into her sack. Once finished she returned to where J stood, "That should be it. Please lead the way, kind sir."

J smirked. "Not a problem." He put his fingers to his lips and whistled low. Diablo trotted into view, snorted and swatted J with his tail. "You silly beast." J swung up into Diablo's saddle and took point as he led Maria into the forest. Diablo's steps were sure and they kept an easy pace. They had not been too far from Curran's home.

Wryly J wondered what Curran would say when they met again. He led Maria through the secret passage and dismounted. "Follow me."

Maria followed him at a cautious pace. She could not afford to appear too eager or too knowledgeable.

J led them through the hidden corridors than ran parallel to the various rooms of the manor. Finally, he stopped at a door and rapped twice, then once, then twice again and waited.

Unable to sleep, Curran took his candle to the lower levels, what had once been a dank and dismal dungeon he had turned in to a training area. Hearing the wrap code he moved a bookshelf with a grunt and pulled open the hidden door. He let the small candle illuminate the faces on the other side. "Well J, welcome back. Two visits in one night. It makes one curious." He stepped aside and allowed them to enter.

J walked by Curran but he remained polite. "I bring a guest."

Curran nodded to her. "Good evening."

"Good evening, good sir," Maria said with a curtsy. "I apologize for camping in your woods, however, I was not well informed on who these woods belonged to."

"Lord Bontecou, may I present Maria Calum. And now, I have to leave, I have information to seek." J turned to go.

Curran reached out, taking hold of J's shoulder with a gentle grasp. "Not so fast young one. Your flights need to cease and I intend to help you with that."

J struggled. "Nay, sir. Let me go!"

Curran smiled warmly. "Have you not thought that perhaps it is I who has the information you seek?"

"You cannot!" J froze and looked at Curran. He wavered as he tried to decide to stay or to go. But the thought of information he didn't know held him still for a moment as he looked at Maria.

Maria intently watched them. She could feel the tension and it intrigued her. She wasn’t going to get in the middle of their squabble. She needed to sleep, and plan her next course of action. "My apologies, but is there somewhere I can go to find some rest? I see that you two fine gentlemen have important business to discuss."

J blushed. He had not meant for Maria to hear their conversation.

Curran shook his head. "The hour is late, I think perhaps it would be best if we retired and spoke in the morning." He turned to Maria with a warm expression. "I invite you to stay the night that we made speak in the morn."

"Of course and many thanks for your kindness," Maria said.

Curran led the way up through the corridors to the main level and then up the grand stairs to the second floor. He stopped short of a large oak door and pulled out a set of keys, unlocking the door. Stepping inside, he lit several of the candles with his own. "Maria, you may rest here for your stay, sleep well and we will see you in the morning."

"Thank you again for your kindness." She watched Curran leave. She sighed, undressed, cleaned herself, climbed into the soft bed and quickly fell into a deep sleep.

~^~

J remained in the room, silent and fuming. Curran couldn't know. Could he? He was too far away from the capital to know. But J had learned that distance meant nothing when an enemy wanted you dead. He was about ready to bolt. He shouldn't stay here. But Curran had hooked him, damn the man! He knew J's weakness. And that was information. J was always collecting it. You never knew when it might be needed.

"Come J, let's talk. I've news about your parents."

J's look went from anger to astonishment and then wariness, but he did not say anything. He only followed Curran to his office.

They entered the chambers draped in burgundy with hints of gold, warmed by a blazing fire in the hearth. Curran blew out his candle, placing it on a table and then took a seat at the small marble table before the fireplace. He looked to J with serious intent in his eyes. "You know of course that there is a conspiracy in our midst, one to make maneuvers towards the throne?"

"Aye, my lord, I know." J had decided to be formal, to keep distance them. He was on shaky ground here and he didn't like the feeling. Not at all. "Rumors have been spreading that Delaney plans to make a bid but he is not the only one. Lord Lucius Poitier, as well as Lady Penelope Holmique, seek the throne. The Lady hopes to put her simple-minded son, Pierre, on the throne," J said with a snort of disgust.

Curran nodded. They were the same rumors he had also heard. From the table, he poured two glasses of brandy and offered one to J. "It would appear that a time is coming where our kind must take an open action. Prince Andrew is at risk and he may be alone among a pack of wolves. Pierre can be managed, the others, however, are more challenging because of potential political marriages."

"And you wish me to do what? I am not an assassin."

Curran smiled with mischief and he chuckled. "Perhaps not of the physical kind. However, I’m told you are good at planting a simple word here, another there and soon a person’s honor comes in to question. What we need are rumors spread about those in suspect having questionable ethics and habits." He paused a moment, staring at the fire then back to J. "Such as the rumors that Delaney was behind your parents' assassinations."

J twitched. "You strike my heart with your words. You must need this or else you would not use such a blow. Or are you still upset I did not spill all when I was here earlier?" J demanded, anger on his face.

"Rest, my young friend." Curran set the crystal bottle on the table. With a heavy sigh, he returned to stare at the fire. "I received a visit some time ago from my wayward brother and his wife. It was by her hand and her choice, she admitted before him that she and I had a tryst and that she could not know if Chauni was her husband's or my own daughter." He looked to J a sense of pleading on his face. "The stakes have changed my young friend, I cannot risk Delaney becoming my heir and should she marry, I fear that my dear Chauni would meet an end by his henchmen."

J clenched his fists. "I will not let her die or be wed to that bastard!" J blushed and then started to pace. "I will do the character assassination that you ask, and for the moment I will keep Delaney alive for it amuses me to do so. I will not be returning his lapdog Hubert’s stolen purse. I have given the gold to the needy."

From the small treasure box resting on the table, Curran removed a small velvet satchel and tossed it to J. "For your troubles." He approached the fireplace, resting a hand on the mantle. "Stir the pot well and you will be rewarded, should your acts lead to one of their detainments. I will proxy for their title and land to be yours. Regardless the two objectives are protecting Chauni and the prince."

J raised an eyebrow. Title and land? This made things more interesting. "Rest easy, I will protect them both. I must be off. I have characters to slay," J laughed with hostility.

Curran kept his eyes on the fire. Despite the warmth given he felt a chill inside as if he and his trusted allies were dancing with the devil himself.

J spun on one heel and headed for the secret passage. In the yard, beyond the hidden passage, he mounted Diablo. "Come, boy, time to slay some names."

Diablo snorted and broke into a canter as the thief and his horse went into the night.

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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by NPCs » January 7th, 2018, 6:21 pm

OOC - Mass Scenario- Curran, Aquilon, Cavalier, & Shadow, + NPCs

Curran stepped into the main corridor in time to hear the old clock bong the midnight hour. He was not a young man any longer and the long nights wore on him. He caught a glimpse of himself in a shadowed mirror, shook head and muttered words that would carry down through the generations. “I’m getting too old for this crap.”

“Indeed Sire,” A man’s voice spoke softly in the darkness.

“Gerald, is that you?” Curran turned, looking for his old butler.

“Of course sire, who else would be wandering these hallowed halls at this hour?”

“Any number of people,” Curran quipped. “You’re thoughts are disturbed what's going on?”

“Your young guest is waiting for you in the drawing room.”

“Will this night never end?” Curran huffed and gave a half-witted grin to his butler. “When my niece returns, please explain to her that I will see her at brunch.”

“Of course sire,” Gerald nodded and bowed away gracefully, disappearing down the corridor.

Curran drew back his shoulders and made his way to the drawing room. He put forth as much energy as he could muster in that late hour as he smiled for his guest. “Greetings to you,” He stepped up to Aquilon. “Welcome to my humble chateau.”

"I can tell that you are exhausted, so may we can be brief," Aquilon said. "I am sure you are aware, I am Antonio Frigerio and have taken the name of Aquilon for myself. I have taken to paths seeking others with gifts and they have led here. I myself wish to know what my place may be. The truth seekers wish to destroy us all. If this can not be the safe haven I had hoped, I will continue to seek. Knowing that other gifted exist fills me with hope and if all I have gained by this visit is that knowledge, it was well worth it."

Curran listened to his words carefully before addressing responding. He was about to speak when he heard the quiet voices in the foyer and Chauni's thoughts reached him. In closing his eyes, he reached out to her. Come to the drawing room.

He was delighted to have her home. Seeing her step through those large double pocket doors put a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes.

"Good evening Uncle." She greeted him with a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"My niece, it seems that your ventures have begun to pay off." He gestured to their guest. "May I introduce Aquilon, publicly known as Antonio Frigerio.”

He gestured to Chauni as she joined them. "My niece will tend to your needs in the morning, for now, I'm afraid I must bid you good night. I have a long journey in the morning and sleep calls."

He drew Chauni to him with a gentle kiss on her forehead. "My deepest apologies. Normally I am a much more gracious host but this is not a normal time." He set a stern eye to Chauni before turning and departing the room.

Chauni turned to their late arrival feeling quite uncertain of what to do. She too wanted sleep but knew she needed to tend to him first. “Have you been here long?” She asked.

“For quite some time,” Aquilon said. “Shadow has already seen to it that I have a room.”

“All right then,” Chauni nodded. “Have you eaten this evening?”

“It has been some time since I last ate,” Aquilon admitted. “Perhaps a simple snack and some wine to relax from the day’s journey?”

Chauni spoke with Gerald who then left the room.

As they settled in for conversation, she tended the hearth adding new logs. With a flip of her wrist and a snap of her fingers, the logs in the hearth burst to life with new flames.

"Lady Chauni, we have crossed paths before, though my attire was quite different at the time," Aquilon said. "It was at a local inn where you had a fight with someone or something which reeked of evil. It was that melee which made me aware of your existence and eventually led me here."

“Yes, I remember that event; however, I do not recall seeing you there.” Chauni tossed lounging pillows onto the floor around the circular table near the fireplace. She then gestured for him to join her in sitting around it. “That individual, has been a complication in my efforts, shall we say?”

As they reclined and enjoyed the warmth of the hearth, a heavyset older woman entered. She brought in a large tray filled with a variety of fresh sweet fruits and cheeses. Behind her, a scrawny boy carried a tray with three bottles of wine and three glasses.

“Thank you, Prudence, that will be all for this evening,” Chauni said.

The woman bowed and ushered her son out of the room.

Eating of the fruits and cheeses provided, Chauni listened with great interest as Aquilon spoke. He told her of his tales of adventures and harrowing escapes from near capture by the Truth-Seekers. She admitted to herself that she enjoyed his claims of skill in dealing with them.

He was detailing his latest adventure that led him to the manor. It was then that Shadow joined them, greeting them with a warm and friendly smile as he took to the pillows with Chauni. Lying beside her, he rested an arm around Chauni’s waist while taking up a wine goblet to sip.

“My apologies, please continue.” He toasted and then took up several small chunks of cheese, dropping one in his mouth and then one in Chauni’s. Then he feasted on a bushel of red grapes, sharing them as well.

They carried on through the night, the wine bottles dwindled and the foodstuff filled them. The effects of which took their toll putting Chauni to sleep first, soundly on the pillows. The men managed to keep awake, whispering as to not wake her while they spoke.
This account exists solely for the purpose of posting NPC activity and mass collaboration posts in all story groups.

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Lord Dewitt
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by Lord Dewitt » January 9th, 2018, 4:40 pm

OOC - Hubert w Curran - JP

Hubert stood in front of the bedroom's mirror and grimaced as he looked at it and saw his mistress, lying on the bed watching him.

"You still desire her, don't you?" She asked.

Hubert turned slowly, his features tightening. He gave a feral smile when her eyes became wary and she sat up. "It is none of your business. If you wish to maintain your position and the money I give you, you will keep that pretty mouth shut before I cut out your tongue."

She drew in her breath. "Of course, My Lord."

"Let's go. Lord Bontecou said we would be leaving after breakfast." Without waiting for her he strode out the door and down toward the courtyard.

Curran was seated at the head of the table; he enjoyed the early morning breakfast with the sheriff, Liam Deveraux, who had arrived with the escort. They laughed as they reminisced about the years that had gone by, discussed the current situation of court and state as well as the lives of their children. There was a distinct flavor in the air that spoke of their longtime friendship and alliance.

"So tell me, how does my son fare?" Liam asked. He wiped a cloth to his lips then sipped from his crystal goblet.

"You should see him…" Curran smiled warmly. "He has grown into quite the skill swordsman, if he was normal I would submit my recommendation to the Musketeers. As it is, being gifted his skills and abilities are well-honed and as sharp as the Lord Prince's sword."

"Ah, sounds as if you have accomplished what his mother and I could not… Good show old friend." He toasted Curran.

"Now, if only he could grasp the confidence in himself.” Curran shrugged. “He would make an incredible man. Why just this past week, he returned from his own travels telling of islands of volcanic activity and sweet tasting fruit. The peoples are a primitive sort and not one word of English.”

“I would be interested to know how he does that,” Liam said. The tone of musing in his voice only hinted at his curiosity for his son. “Blink,” His said, flashing his hands out. “And he’s gone, and then, in another blink, he returns with claims of being some place else.”

“It’s called teleportation,” Curran said. He held up his mug as George, the butler, filled it with orange juice. “Mind you, his range is limited… It can take him some time to travel from one place to another but it sure saves on travel expenses.”

They chuckled sharing the moment; it was disrupted by the appearance of Hubert and his consort as they entered the dining hall.

Hubert's lips tightened when he saw Liam. He was going to have to be cautious. He and his mistress had been eavesdropping on the conversation. So now, there was another gifted demon in human form running loose. Well, his plan would prevail as he sought.
"Gentlemen, good day to you," He said.

"Hubert," Curran nodded to him. He set his goblet down and finished his eggs. "I suggest you eat quickly, the rest of us will be ready to move out within the hour and there's no time to waist."

"We have already dined in our chambers. We are ready to leave now," Hubert said, his voice implying that Curran delayed their departure on purpose.

"Well then," Curran turned to Liam. "Shall we get moving?" He wanted to be on the move as soon as possible.

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Shadow
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by Shadow » January 9th, 2018, 4:51 pm

OOC- Shadow & Cavalier w Micah- JP

The bustling activity in the manor woke those still in the parlor near the fireplace. Shadow stirred, opening his eyes to find Chauni snuggled against him, her head resting on his chest. On the other side of the round coffee table, Aquilon was stretched out with an arm flopped over his eyes.

Shadow jolted when someone slapped their hands on his feet. His foot kicked out and he sat up. He groaned with annoyance at the sound of the snickers from behind the sofa.

His attention was drawn back to the one close to him as she moved in waking. He braced upon his arm, looking down at her, watching her wake.

“Awe, you’re such a Romeo.” His friend teased.

Shadow looked up and over his shoulder to the fair-haired man smiling like a child from behind the sofa. “And you’re a pain in the ass.”

“Oh, now, now my friend, such language in front of the master’s niece,” The man lept over the sofa to sit on it. He reached to snatch up an orange and then leaned back to the sofa. “Lord Curran and my father are leaving this morning for the capitol. They’re taking that blue blood vagabond and his wench with them.”

“Good riddance,” Chauni groaned. She rolled away from Shadow and at up rubbing the back of her neck. “I’m going for a bath.” After kissing Shadow on the cheek, she was up and strolling out of the room leaving the men to themselves.

“So,” Micah Deveraux dropped to the floor with his legs folded. “An evening with the mistress of the manor and a guest. And you didn’t invite me.”

Shadow snatched up a small pillow and tossed it hitting Micah in the face. “You idiot, he arrived late and Chauni did her duties as hostess. I joined them when I returned home. So the question is where you were; out being a scallywag with the Musketeers again?”

Micah laughed and slapped his hand against his thigh while he leaned back on the sofa. “You humor me Shadow, truly humor me.”

“And you annoy me,” Shadow groaned. “Perhaps one day I will tell Lord Curran just what kind of misadventures you truly have.”

Micah sat up; the laughter gone. “You wouldn’t dare?"

“Keep pressing me as you do and see what happens,” Shadow warned. He sat up as well then stood and began returning the pillows to their proper places. He then stood there with his hands on his hips as he looked around.

Micah said looking from Shadow to Aquilon. “So, do you want to join this cavalcade into the capitol?”

“No, I need to tend to our guest,” With that, he knelt beside Aquilon placing a hand on the man’s shoulder to nudge him awake.

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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by Cavalier » January 11th, 2018, 12:16 pm

This morning, Chauni skipped breakfast in favor of a long luxurious bath to chase away the fog of sleep. She stepped from the milky water of the claw foot tub and wrapped a satin robe around her svelte body. Moving to the window, she looked out and could see the stable hands preparing the horses and carriage for departure. A sense of disappointment crossed her thoughts from seeing that Sooth was not among them.

In moving to her dressing chambers, she exchanged her robe for a simple outfit of pants and shirt. Even though she was a lady by rank and title, she was still practical and never saw much sense in wearing a dress when riding a horse. There was also no chance she would allow herself to be prodded into being a passenger in some carriage.

She bound her hair back, strapped on a burgundy corset, she pulled on her boots and then left her chambers. In heading out, she made a brief stop in the kitchen to grab a small basket of breakfast foods. Hearing the voices from the corridor, she slipped out the back way and around the path to the stables.

Saddling her horse, she was quick and unseen in her departure from the chateau. She made her way from the estate, determined to make it to Versailles before them. Uncertain of why; her instincts drove her with the sense that she needed to be there. Whether it was woman’s intuition or simple, keen instinct, or even a sense of over-protection, she did not want to miss out.
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by NPCs » January 11th, 2018, 1:05 pm

OOC - Curran, Chauni, J, Lord DeWitt, & Lady Elizabo

It was a good day's ride to the capitol and the sooner they got there the better he would feel. They got up from the table, stepped around Hubert and made their way outside to the livery where the horses and carriage waited for them. Curran mounted his trusted stead and waited for the others while they mounted.

Hubert mounted the horse his former bodyguard had used while his mistress slid into the carriage. He was fuming. They were treating him as if he wasn't there. No matter. They would feel his sting soon enough. He maintained the silence as they rode. His mind was on other plans. And a certain thief he still needed to catch.

As they rode on, Curran and Liam spoke. They discussed the plans that Curran had for constructing a new chateau especially for Chauni as a wedding present. He was confident that once she settled from her travels and adventures the celebration would commence.

Curran kept his eyes on the terrain, careful to note their surroundings and the path they traveled on. Perhaps it was the company they kept, perhaps it was the news of his brother; Curran knew that something was wrong and he did not like it.

Even though J was supposed to have left and gone straight to the capital he had hesitated. He wouldn't have been able to name it exactly but something in his gut told him to hang around. So he did. He shadowed Curran, Hubert, and Liam. When Diablo gave the snort that meant enemies were near. He brought Diablo to a stop under a tree and swung up into it, pulling daggers out as he went. He gave one cluck and Diablo disappeared into the forest. J nimbly climbed tree further, his eyes scanning for the ambush party.

Hubert looked around too. Someone was watching them. He could feel it.

And there it was; Curran's instinctive danger sense screamed inside him.

They were close and charged from over and around the giant boulders screaming and screeching.

"Kill the cursed ones!" A man shouted.

"Poison and witchery," Another man shouted.

There were four of them with their swords and daggers drawn as they moved in for the attack.

Hubert sneered. Was this all? He was tempted to draw his own sword and fight but refrained. No one knew of them, not even his current mistress. No, he would watch and see what the others would do. He knew of rumors that said he was gifted, as was Chauni.

Curran took a count of the attackers; he had to think fast wondering why there were only four. Bandits usually attacked in larger numbers. Those seeking the gifted ones did not dare an assault during daylight hours. He pulled his horse to a stop and dismounted then drew his sword. He was willing to fight but the last he was willing to do was reveal his own abilities.

J was so tense he could feel his bones almost creak in protest. And then, he saw them. At least six more moved stealthily through the bushes, flanking the party.

"Catch your flank," he cried as he did a somersault from his hiding place and threw two daggers. The blades found their targets into two of the men who had taken that moment to leap from their concealment and go for the carriage and Hubert who was closer to the rear.

J landed in a nearby tree, still unseen by Hubert as he scoured about for more. Ten was paltry. He knew there were more for he could hear Diablo's snort. Why were they attacking now?

Curran saw the others approach, too many, too fast to waste time counting. He could feel their attackers anger intertwined with confusion and jealousy. He reached out, finding their emotions and mindsets driven by the words of a man whose voice he could not place. He reached out further, his mental awareness connecting with a mind he knew possibly better than any other. Chauni, come, we must fight.

Hubert looked about trying to spot who had cried a warning. The voice had sounded familiar. His eyes narrowed as he scanned for the youth who had plagued his every move. He thought... Could that be him? My adversary. That thief.

J swung from tree to tree, throwing daggers with gusto. He was not going to let them reach Curran. Hubert could be gutted for all he cared.

Chauni was resting near a stream, innocently drinking of its waters beside her horse when she felt his presence. Alerted by his mental call, Chauni raised her head and looked southward.

For a moment, she closed her eyes trying to grasp the images her uncle sent her. She scrambled to her feet and mounted Sooth. Believing there was no time to spare; she jammed her heels into Sooth's ribs and snapped on the reins. They broke into a full gallop racing over the trail, swerving past a small band of travelers to reach Curran.

Diablo snorted twice and J's eyes narrowed when he saw another group of ten headed their way. Where the hell are these people coming from? And who the hell is the guy with the sword?

J didn't have time for this craziness. "More approach!" He leaped from the tree and landed, taking a moment to give Hubert a mocking bow before pulling out a short sword and going after the new group.

Enraged that the thief had joined them, Hubert spun his horse around and charged through the group that flanked them. Let Curran deal with them, he had a thief to take down. He drew his sword and began hacking at any bandits who came between him and J. He would finally capture the arrogant little snipe!

Several more bandits charged toward them, one cried out "Death to the cursed!"

The bandits sent them into an even greater killing frenzy as they rushed. Some broke off when they saw Chauni and went after her.

Arriving on scene, Chauni parked her steed on the mound not far from the scene. She watched the fight and cracked a smile at Hubert and his efforts.

"Once again, Hubert only look out for Hubert." She whispered. With a sharp whistle, she released the reins to Sooth and held her hands high above her head. Between them, the air stirred and burned.

There was a crackling sound and a fireball appeared between her hands. She released the flaming sphere, launching it towards the attackers. The flames exploded with the ground before their horses. The animals reared and the bandits fought to keep their seats.

"Give them death before they kill us all! Our masters have decreed it!" shouted the scarred-face man who lead them.

Dismounting, Chauni ran through the confusion finding her uncle. She came up behind him being helped to his feet by Liam. "How are we doing with this mess?" She asked.

"Oh, same as usual," Liam said.

"Yeah, getting our asses kicked," Curran said.

Two more bandits encroached on their position. Chauni rolled her eyes and shot forth a burst of flames trying to dismay their attackers.

The bandits, however, were unusually persistent. The leader yelled again, spurring them into further action as they went to the carriage and attempted to drag Hubert's mistress from it.

Chauni noticed them tackling with Hubert's mistress. It made her laugh but she knew something had to be done. She made her way through the conflict, drawing her sword and charging after the remaining men. She screamed like a banshee, jumping upwards and crashing down on the group. She swung with skill and finesse, striking more with the hilt of her sword and pushing off with her foot. One of the bandits took her on directly.

"Ah, it's the bitch, we were looking for," he sneered and raised his sword and then charged her. Their swords met and on the second blow, she cut down instead of up thinking he was going down too. She felt a thump, her sword became lodged and her attacker’s face went blank.

Shock covered her own face as he dropped, blood gushing from his side as he fell to the ground. Chauni stood in shock as the man died.

J meanwhile had whittled down to his group of ten to five and became winded. He'd not had to fight this hard in a long time and it showed.

Chauni dropped to her feet as the fighting waned. With tears streaking down her face was barely aware of what was going on around her. She dropped to the ground, igniting her hands. As the glow turned to red-hot the heat intensified until it was a glowing white. She placed her hands on the bandit she had killed and his body became engulfed in flames, burning to cremation where nothing remained but ash and amber.

The group attacking J and Hubert had moved out of earshot and didn't see what happened. Hubert had dismounted and swung his sword, killing easily. The thief was so close he could taste it.

J was tired and later he would blame it on the reason he got injured. He was dispatching another bandit when he felt a searing pain in his side. With a yelp, he rolled and chopped off the man's sword hand.

The bandit backed away howling and clutching at the stump that was left. "Stupid brat, they are watching you. Remember who your true allegiance lies with!"

J spat at him. "I know where my allegiance lies. You tell him that!" J snapped as the bandit scrambled back into the brush. He felt dizzy and sank to his knees. It was suddenly getting hot.

Hubert killed the remaining four and seeing the kneeling thief, put his sword against the boy's back. "I have you now, vermin!"

J didn't move. The pain in his side hurt like hell and if he moved, even the least bit, his world spun. "Hubert, what an unpleasant moment," he joked and then coughed up blood.

"Unpleasant for you, lucky for me and the fact you are wounded is even better." Hubert reached down and grabbed J by his collar; jerking him to his feet.

J yelped, struggled, became dizzy and stopped moving. He only hoped Hubert wouldn't hurt him too badly. He still had to do as Curran asked. When he saw where Hubert dragged him to, he struggled. He didn't want Curran or Chauni to get put into an unnecessary position.

"Oh no!" Lady Sedgwick cried from the carriage. “That girl is bleeding, someone do something.”

Seeing Chauni collapse, Curran stepped over to her, knelt and placed his hands on her chest. They glowed a soft yellow.

Lady Sedgwick squeaked in horror. Lord Curran was gifted! She wondered if Hubert knew. Her gaze became calculating as she watched the healing.

As the wound healed and closed Chauni opened her eyes and looked up to Curran. “Thank you uncle,” She said. She rolled to her side and away from the pile of ashes.

Curran rubbed her shoulder and leaned down, kissing her on the back of her head. "If you'll pardon me for a moment, my dear, I must tend to someone."

She nodded and shivered as she coughed and allowed her body to recuperate.

Curran stood and his cape swished behind him as he moved toward the carriage. He set his eyes on lady Elizabo Sedgwick as the woman stepped from it. He greeted her with a slight bow as he approached. "My dear lady... If you would be so kind." he held his hand out to her.

"Of course," she tittered and took his hand.

Folding his hand around hers, Curran pulled her into his embrace with a kiss fully on the lips. The direct contact enabled him to enter her mind, weakened by distraction, and once there he pooled the memories of the day, dissolving them.

She let out a small whimper and went limp against him for a moment. Then she blinked and looked at him in confusion.

Curran picked her up and returned her to the carriage, placing her gently inside for comfort. "There you are, my lady... You should be well here."

"Thank you," she whispered, not sure why she felt faint.

Hubert saw Curran put her in the carriage and he frowned. The thief still struggled but they became weaker. "I think you should wait one moment," Hubert said, his eyes full of malice.

Curran returned to Chauni's side and placed a hand on her shoulder as he stood beside her. "Shall we resume our journey to the capital, together?" Curran glanced over at Hubert and smirked. "Oh, get over yourself, man,"

He laughed and nudged Chauni, kissing her on the top of her head and whispering something to her that made her nod.

J wasn't doing okay but no one had asked him. He kept looking at the ground, his one hand clutched his bleeding side. He had trouble breathing from the chokehold Hubert had on his collar.

"I have no need to get over myself. I have what I sought," he said. He smiled with evil thoughts as he switched grips from J's collar to J's arm, hauling J up so that J was forced to stand straight.

J couldn't help it; he let out a hurt scream and felt more blood seep through his fingers.

Chauni then whispered to Curran- pointing over to the injured party. Curran nodded, kissed her cheek and stepped over to J. "I think I'll take this one into my custody, for now, turning him over to the authorities of my territory."

Hubert stiffened. "What?" his eyes narrowed. "Have you forgotten this?" he demanded and pulled out the warrant of arrest he had gotten from the Lord Prince.

Curran took the royal warrant, a declaration of arrest against the individual Hubert held captive. "Ah, so it would seem..." He looked from one to the other. "In that case, as an agent of the crown, I hereby reward you for the capture and insist that I take custody of him." He snapped his fingers to summon his friend. "Liam, take this thief into custody for trial."

On that, he tossed a small bag of coins to Hubert, the equal amount of reward the prince had decreed.

J squirmed in earnest, coughing blood too but he didn't care. He had to get away from them all. He let out a piercing whistle.

Hubert was pissed but he had to bow down before the law that was on Curran's side. He released J's arm and shoved him roughly toward Liam. J stumbled and went to his knees. A few seconds later they heard a shrill whinny followed by loud crashing. Hubert's head came up and he looked at the trees.

Diablo sailed through the air and landed right in the middle of the group, bucking and kicking, forcing everyone away from J, who leaped and grabbed the saddle and swung up into it.

"I'd love to stay and play ladies and gentlemen, but I have to go!" J cried. Diablo let out a challenging neigh and then leaped to the opposite side of the road and galloped into the forest.

"Stop him!" Hubert roared and started to chase after the fleeing thief and his horse.

Curran grabbed him by the wrist, without a word- he slipped the pouch away retrieving the reward. "The chase is on."

Hubert angrily jerked away from Curran. "When I catch him, he will not get away."

Hubert mounted his horse and sat there, an angry contemplative look on his face.

Curran smiled at the man. "Come, let us ride."

Chauni gave one last look to the pile of ashes that scatted with the wind. Hearing her uncle's call, she whistled sharply and mounted Sooth as he approached. Pulling him up to the group, she joined them.

"Uncle, if you don't mind, I'd like to investigate the bandits, find out who or what they're looking for."

"This is fine, we will continue to the capitol." Curran looked at Chauni. "We'll meet back at the chateau when we're done."
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Re: 01 Homecomings

Post by J » January 13th, 2018, 6:44 pm

OOC J w Curran and Liam - JP

J felt like he was dying. His blood had slowed but it was still seeping out. Diablo was whinnying worriedly and had been circling through the forest. His rider was unresponsive and the stallion was upset. The stallion was smarter than anyone knew. He stopped, sniffed the air and then with a neigh turned and headed towards the northeast. He headed towards the one person he knew J trusted.

The group had stopped for the evening. One of the surviving guards tended the fire while Curran and Liam were off by themselves discussing Delaney and the suspicions about him. Curran confided in him what he had planned and his friend chuckled, promising to do his share in slandering the old fool.

Diablo stopped just shy of the camp. He snorted and stomped his foot hard, twice on the ground to get their attention.

Curran shushed their conversation, holding his hand up. He looked around, closed his eyes and reached out with his telepathy. He sensed the guardian he had placed over the young thief and grimaced. Quietly, he made his way to where they waited.

Diablo bowed so that Curran could reach J.

After inspecting the youth, Curran placed his hands over the wounds and concentrated. His hands glowed a warm, soft yellow. He could feel the injuries, finding them with every sense of his consciousness. He envisioned them healing, the blood receding and binding the wounds as if they had never been. When he finished, even with his own exhaustion, he slipped J from the shifter and laid him gently on the ground, propping him against a tree. "He needs rest." He looked to Diablo and touched his forehead. "Well done my friend, well done."

Diablo snorted, butted Curran's chest and then spoke. .He doesn't know when to stop. I tried to get us to the capital but he has his own mind. He felt the wrongness in the forest. He wished only to protect you.

"Strong will and stubborn to a fault." Curran placed his hand on J's forehead, checking for warmth. "J's loyalty is indeed unfathomable."

"J gives loyalty where J wills but once given it is never broken, at least on his end. He feels bad about not telling you the truth of what you asked. He is conflicted," Diablo said.

"J truly has more honor in that spirit than most I know of." Curran stood back, waiting for J to wake up.

When J stirred. Diablo nudged Curran again. "Time to be silent," he swished his tail, hitting J in the face.

J coughed. "Annoying horse," he muttered as he opened his eyes. He almost yelped when he saw Curran. "Aw hell!" he cursed and struggled to his feet, wincing from the soreness in his side.

Curran folded his arms and looked down at J. "You've no need to fear me, lad. What happened earlier was an attempt to get you away from Delaney. Now, I'm told you have something to say. So, I'm here and willing to listen." Curran crouched beside J. "Now, I'm not going to ask why people are trying to point this blame at Chauni's future husband but my faith in him has not wavered. So, tell me what it is you know."

"Fine, Shadow is not the problem," he spat out. J got a mutinous expression on his face. "They want him for something. And they want Chauni to ensure your cooperation." J purposefully left out why they wanted J. He knew why they wanted him but he was not going to burden Curran that way.

"Tell me of your own accord, what is it that makes them seek my niece and her betrothed?"

"No, I can't," J said firmly and started to walk by Curran. Really, it was for the best. The less Curran knew the better. Then why did J feel so guilty?

Curran put a hand on J's chest, stopping the youth, and forcing J to face him. "You know that Chauni is like a daughter to me, and I tend to be overprotective." He scowled. "You can either volunteer what you know or I will take it of my own accord."

J's eyes tightened. "You would do that to me?" His body tensed and Diablo let out a warning snort.

Curran folded his arms tightly, looking scornful. "Only if you leave me no other option. You can tell me now, of your own free will."

J stood. Curran blocked his path to Diablo. He could go back into the trees. He knew that eventually Diablo would find him and he could continue on toward Versailles. He didn't want Curran in his head. No, the best option was to head to the trees and continue on his way. He knew he would disappoint Curran but too much was happening too fast. He needed to speak to a few people and take care of the matter regarding Chauni, all without involving Curran, who was like a father to him. No, he couldn't let anyone tarnish Curran or Lady Chauni's reputations. Or take their lives.

Curran felt everything coming from the youth and was shocked by the strength of the emotions. He could not believe that someone compromised the youth so deviously. "What treachery is this?"

J stepped backed, his body ready for a burst of energy needed for the sprint he was going to make into the forest. "I'm sorry, my lord," he whispered and then he flung himself forward and into a roll, intending to use his momentum to get past Curran and toward the forest behind him.

Curran to fast, falling with J and tackling him to the ground, pinning him. He held an arm against the back of J's neck and tried not to bury the youth's face in the dirt. "For the love of all things holy, J, tell me of this threat you know!"

J struggled wildly. "Nay, my lord, let me up! Let me be! I cannot tell you!" he yelled. He tried bucking but Curran outweighed him. "I'd rather be beaten than talk. Get off me old man!" he snapped.

Curran realized he would have to do something he hoped he never would have to, use his abilities on a friend and potentially harming him. Keeping J pinned, he shifted one of his hands to hold J's head still. He closed his eyes and envisioned himself stepping into the youthful mind.

J's whole body tensed and he let out a startled whimper when he felt Curran slide into his mind.

Diablo neighed and trotted forward but then stopped. To interfere now would harm his young rider. He only hoped Curran would go easy on him.

As Curran entered J's mind, the level of mist fogging the thoughts and images of what J knew represented the resistance to Curran’s probing. He could barely see the memory of a conversation between Delaney, Lady Sedgwick, and a figure cloaked in darkness. There were echoes of the conversation, names were spilled that made him angry. There was mention of Chauni, Prince Andrew and Shadow followed by haunting images and thoughts of extreme pain and torturous suffering. A deep, hideous laugh drowned out the voices. It was such a chilling and evil laugh that it broke the connection Curran had. He withdrew and pulled himself away from J, coming to rest against a large tree, breathing hard as if he had been running for his life.

J got to his hands and knees. "Bastard," he sobbed, his body shaking with his anger and shock. "I hope you're happy now," he spat out as he staggered to his feet. He turned haunted eyes on Curran. "Now you see why I didn't want you involved."

He set his tired eyes on J. "Since it involves my family it involves me."

"But it didn't have to. I was almost done." J stopped speaking. He knew that Curran had seen some but not all. "Never mind, I'm leaving now." He tried to swing up into Diablo's saddle but Diablo sidestepped and J frowned. "What? Are you turning against me too?" the hurt in his tone was unmistakable.

Diablo swung his head around and bumped J's lower back, pushing him toward Curran. The stallion's intent was clear. He wouldn't leave until J did as Curran wanted.

Curran smirked at Diablo's behavior. Leaning to one side, he braced himself up on one arm. "Looks like you have no choice now. Sit, tell me what you know and perhaps there may be something this old man of a bastard could be of some use?"

J wasn't feeling humorous or happy with any of it. He was a thief and secret stealer. And a thief was only as good as his wares and telling Curran those precious secrets was going to hurt him. But he wasn't going to get a reprieve.

"They call themselves the Truth-seekers. They hate the gifted and wish to bring us to our knees. The only way to do that is to put one of their choosing on the Lord Prince's throne. His lady's death in childbirth was no accident. It was planned. Only they hadn't counted on his consistent refusal to remarry. So now they are moving to assassinate him and any related to him. Lady Chauni is not a true target, not in the sense that you are thinking. They want her to ensure your compliance. Lord Delaney only wants to dominate her and bring you to your knees. I am uncertain why they want Shadow. I, I didn't hear that part," J said, growing silent, flinching at the memory of what had happened to him.

He could still hear the evil laughter, the bite of the whip as it cut into his back, the pain of the hot brand they pressed against his skin, marking him forever as theirs. J was certain Curran hadn't seen that part of his memories, only the pain attached to it. For that he was grateful. He didn't want Curran to hunt down the thing that had left visible scars on his body.

Curran allowed the information to meld into his thoughts and mind. By his own sense, he knew J was telling the truth. There was not one drop of dishonesty to his claim. Then there were the visions he had seen in J’s mind. If there were any doubt about the treachery brewing between Delaney and his mistress, that doubt was removed.

"Watch out, Delaney plots well and his connections run deeper than those at court. He has been making allies with the lower classes. He means to take what he can get. And that is all I can tell you," J said, arms crossed across his chest.

Curran nodded slowly with a thoughtful expression. "We knew Delaney was a dangerous man. I would not be surprised if he were behind the attack earlier today." He paused momentarily, letting that thought take hold within the others. "The question is how to protect the balance. All things in good balance."

"The attack today was not his. You should have Liam check the brands on the insides of their wrists. It is the brand of their masters." J said.

"Slavery," Curran clenched his fists, it was something he and Lord Prince Andrew both stood against. He began to wonder if there was any particular way to hold back Delaney and his forces. There was an answer somewhere and instinct, as well as his abilities, told him J might be the key. He took a deep breath. "I still need to speak with the Lord Prince, however, I am willing to trust you. Whatever it is you need, use our old mannerism of contact and I will see to it that you get it." He was letting J go, letting him do his work. Curran believed it was his job to inform the Lord Prince and that was what he was going to do.

J's startled gaze flew to Curran's face. "So you still trust me, even though you had to take what I would not willingly give?" His tone was bitter and resentful.

Curran nodded. "Your heart is virtuous, your word speaks only truth, your might upholds the weak and your wrath has undone the wicked."

J wasn't sure if Curran was mocking him or not but at that moment he didn't care. He did the next best thing, used his sarcasm. He gave Curran a mock bow, "Do I have your permission to leave now, my lord?"

Again Curran nodded. "Go and Godspeed, may your blade defend the helpless."

J mounted Diablo who trotted over to Curran and nosed him while sending him a telepathic message, He didn't tell you all but next we meet, I will tell you his secrets. He can't do this by himself, though he thinks he can. The exchange took mere seconds, but Diablo's eyes were earnest as they regarded Curran.

J tugged impatiently on the reins. "C'mon boy, we have work to do."

Diablo eyed Curran again, waiting for confirmation that the message was received.

Curran stood, placing his hand on Diablo's forehead. Keep watching over this one my friend. My students are all around, seek them out when need be.

Diablo snorted, then reared, and then galloped into the forest, J clinging to his back.

There was a cough and Liam stepped up to Curran's side. "For a moment there, I thought you were going to put that lad over your knee."

Curran almost laughed, turning to his friend and the protector of his lands. "The thought crossed my mind."

"The lad's been on his own too long. Between you, the Lord Prince and myself, I fear we might be overworking him." Liam stroked his face thoughtfully. "He's gotten more secretive over the last two years. Something's bothering him but he won’t talk to anyone about it, except maybe that horse of his. He needs human comfort, not the understanding of an animal."

Curran chuckled to himself and flashed a wise smile at him. "Sometimes we must look beneath the surface, my friend." Feeling a chill, he pointed toward the fire. "Come, let us warm ourselves."

Liam nodded and followed Curran back to the campfire; his mind was on J.

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