(1866-07-07) A Storybook Knight
A Storybook Knight
Summary: Sirrah, Alina, and Gabriel discuss the Vigilant, and Sirrah leaves the two feeling slightly better.
Date: 07-07-1866
Related: Related Logs (If there aren't any, use None. Don't this entry leave blank. If there is a log, use full URLs, like logname)
Alina  Gabriel  Sirrah  

The Grand Study, Highwater Castle, Lonnaire, Couviere
The study is a large room on the main floor. Part study, part library, part sitting room; a place for the duke or his family to visit informally with guests. The room features a large hearth with chairs and couches set before it. Off to one side there is a single table set with an overlarge chessboard and a pair of chairs for the players to sit.
Beyond the chessboard is a shelf of well-ordered books on a variety of subjects. The remaining walls are hung with rich tapestries of fine make and exotic threads.
This room, like the rest of the castle is immaculate, with no sign of dirt or dust and each tapestry and book put perfectly in place.
07 Juillet 1866

Alina paces the floor before the hearth, the black and purple fabrics of her skirts swishing against the Alzhredi carpet, the carpet muffling the sound of her bootheels against the floor. She had sent to Sirrah right before she left Rovilon, a message by raven, that she and Gabriel would need to speak with her (in Lonnaire, of course) as soon as the Archbishop's schedule allowed.

The archbishop reminds her of her grandmother, which is both a compliment and something to fear.

She had news that the archbishop's party had arrived through the faegate in the city the night prior, and this evening (enough time for the gatesickness to pass, Alina was sure) she would be meeting with Sirrah.

She glances to Gabriel momentarily, then goes back to pacing. She is nervous, quite nervous. Her hands are in fists, her fingertips lightly brushing the pommels of the daggers she wears concealed at her wrists. The touch of skin against lightsilver and moonstone does not soothe her at all.

Sirrah hadn't been happy when Duchess Mina had been let into the church's little secret, had she? But what can one do— the house laws are sacrosanct. No secrets. And Gabriel… well, he'd know soon enough. She hadn't erred in telling him early, had she?

Her long, golden-blonde hair hangs in waves down her back, contrasting, like her pale skin, smartly against the ebony and rich deep purples she wears. A reminder to both the Archbishop and herself who she is, what house she serves.

While Alina is pacing back and forth and fretting, Gabriel has placed his three lightsilver handcannons on a table before him and is in the process of cleaning and polishing each one, taking care in following the instructions the man who had been his tutor in such matters had taught him. He had to admit that he had come to appreciate the weapons far more than he did in the beginning. There was a certain… flair… to using them, a similar feeling that one who was well trained in swordsmanship would understand.

From time to time, he lets his eyes look up at Alina. Finally, he gets a little annoyed with her behavior and says, "You should sit. You will not accomplish anything with what you are currently doing except to tire yourself out. Come now, Alina, the Archbishop is just an elderly woman. The One be damned, you act as if she will be your executioner."

"It is a role I have played before, when necessary." Sirrah's voice comes from the door as she steps in, unaccompanied, though a Priest can be seen waiting outside, likely her attendant. Further beyond still are a pair of Templars who apparently serve as her bodyguards for this particular journey. "But I am doubtful that this situation will call for it." She inclines her head briefly to the young couple, "You mentioned a need to speak with me, Lady Alina?" Sirrah does have some suspicion as to why, but she'll let the Heir of Lonnaire explain herself before offering anything further. She remains standing, for the moment, as Archbishop or no, she is a guest here, and she'll be seated when it's offered and not a moment sooner.

Alina curtsies politely. "Archbishop Sirrah," she murmurs. "Please, have a seat. Tea? And sweetcakes?" She does recall both Leonore and Sirrah having enjoyed such.

"Yes, I…" she glances to Gabriel, then to the door. Once it is shut, she says, "There are… some things we all must discuss."

Gabriel blinks and then turns to view the Archbishop enter the room, he offers her a polite nod and smile, letting Alina handle whatever it is Alina needs to handle right now. He puts the handcannon that he was working on down o the table and carefully puts everything in a neat and orderly place. See, he can be neat and orderly. Sometimes. That being done, he adjusts his seat so he can witness whatever it is that's about to happen.

Sirrah moves in and takes a comfortable seat, smiling politely, with just the right amount of warmth as tea and sweetcakes are offered and accepted. She does take a sip from the cup, curling her long fingers around it for warmth as she regards Alina. "Well then, I suspect neither of us are the type to waste time, my dear, so…" She glances briefly towards Gabriel, then around to make certain no servants are waiting in the wings before noting, "Let us speak freely." Including Gabriel may well be seen as a tacit acknowledgment of her suspicions, of course, but regardless, she doesn't suggest he leave.

"I told him," Alina's breath comes out in a rush. "I had to. The nightmares don't stop— though when he's around, they aren't so bad, but if I woke up screaming again— but I would have had to tell him soon enough, it was only a little early". She interrupts herself, trying to explain the why and why it was acceptable all at once. "I can't… I can't do thing anymore. Not alone." She looks as pale and haunted as she did the night after being rescued from the ruins, perhaps even moreso, as if time had not lessened the horror of those days; of perhaps new horrors? No, those surely would have been shared with the Archbishop. The l'Saigner are nothing if not thorough.

Though Gabriel has seen her upset about the things she had barely managed to speak to him of in hushed whispers and broken explanations, with Sirrah here, for the first time Alina's mask of deception that she is quite fine has been dropped entirely.

"I'm sorry. I need him, though, to be the knight that I cannot," she murmurs.

Gabriel sighs and stands up, coming over to Alina and putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. He glances up and gives the Archbishop a slight shrug of his shoulders. He's not really sure what else he can do for her. "She has been troubled for some time, I think. I cannot say for sure as there was a long period of time when we were separated and well, matters involving the Cardinal kept us busy." He gives Alina's shoulder a slight squeeze.

"And…what exactly did you tell him, Lady Alina?" Sirrah's tone is perhaps a touch hard, but not exactly angry. She studies the pair intently over the rim of the teacup, sipping it thoughtfully, "I'm presuming of your encounter in the ruins? Or did you inform him of more beyond that?" She doesn't seem pleased. Though again…she doesn't seem infuriated, either. "Your betrothed is already quite the Knight, from all I have seen and heard."

Alina's eyes close. And she nods. "I told him that they are all real," she says finally, exerting an effort of control over her tone. The mention of the ruins had her trembling slightly, and Gabriel would be able to feel that, with his hand on her shoulder. "The monsters of myth and story. That they hunt people, that its our duty to keep our people safe." Of the ruins? Oh, what little Gabriel had gotten of that had been tears and horror, the sound of what bone makes when cracked for marrow, what the cries of the damned sound like, what darkness and terror of being a monster's next meal…

"He is," Alina breathes, opening her eyes and forcing a smile, affecting a slight flutter to her tone and expression. "He is what a storybook knight begins— he has suffered through much, and is stronger than you know."

Gabriel lets Alina speak, but when she is finished, he glances over to Sirrah and offers a slight shake of his head. "I am no storybook knight, I am but a man, but from what Alina has told me, I have given her my word that I would do what I could to protect the people of her duchy and this kingdom. I have very little knowledge about that which she speaks, but it is my duty as a knight and as the future Duke of these lands to protect those who cannot protect themselves." Which is pretty much what he has grown up thinking that a knight should be.

There's a soft, brief laugh from Sirrah at that. "Every storybook knight I've known…and I've had the privilege to know more than a few…is always the first to deny they are a storybook knight. You have no idea how many times I've heard the Viscount Jaren Cassomir say those very words. Even after his betrothal, at that!" She seems bemused, but only for a moment, before her expression hardens, "Well, now that you've been given just enough information to risk getting yourself killed by something you've no business facing alone, I suppose the rest is up to me." She sighs, "I had anticipated this conversation would come after the marriage, but no matter." She sips from her teacup, and sets it aside, glancing to Alina, "Consider yourself fortunate I've long had a weakness for storybook knights. Though my late husband would have also denied the term applied to him." She looks back to Gabriel, "You may wish to sit."

Alina looks relieved, and as soon as Gabriel sits beside her, she leans against him. "He is a storybook knight. Don't let him deny it— you're right, they all do. He practically carried me from that horrid village— what was it, Gabriel? Dinsmore?" She shudders. "Fought off those insane peasants, and managed to get our horses and get us both out— even if no one believed us about that horrid place. Did Michael ever find it and burn it to the ground?" she asks him idly. "Last I heard they couldn't find our trail." She shudders again and snuggles closer to him, closing her eyes.

The l'Corren knight almost snorts out a laugh. "I can assure you that I am no Jaren Cassomir." And Alina is a far cry from a Queen, but that comment need not be said aloud. He offers Sirrah a nod and then takes a seat beside Alina. "I believe it was called Dunsmore, but I might be wrong about that. The people there were certainly not in their right minds and it was all I could do to try and get Alina out of there." He glances over to Sirrah and sighs. "An unpleasant tale that, we traveled out for a picnic, got lost, found this village and stayed the night. Had a few bad dreams there, but I think Alina had it worse." He glances over to Alina and shakes his head. "No, he never found the place. I think he thought I was making up tales to explain why we were gone for two days."

"Dunsmore. The village is indeed called Dunsmore. The Order has fragmented, fleeting tales of it dating back to near the foundation of the colonies on the Edge." Sirrah notes, frowning, "And if you have seen it and returned sane and whole, you are more fortunate than most. But God willing you will not find it again…or perhaps more accurately it will not find you again."

Sirrah sighs, "But I suppose we can speak more of your experiences there later. First…has your betrothed told you of the secret purpose of the Order of the Vigil, then? I somehow gather not quite. Suffice to say…when these creatures your bride-to-be has spoken of threaten the faithful…and sometimes the not-so-faithful…it falls to us to deal with them. Remnants of the ancient world beyond merely the Faegates are our purview." She adds, "I would note, this is a closely held secret, but if you are marrying into the l'Saigner, I would assume discretion is not something you are incapable of."

Alina's eyes widen. "Wait… what? Those peasants were… not smallfolk then?" She actually starts visible shaking a slight bit. "…they were going to eat us? All of the monsters just want to eat people, and it's… it's not all right." She closes her eyes, burying her face into Gabriel's shoulder. Then her shaking stops, and she looks up to Sirrah, concerned. "One's mercy, my nightmares have been worse since then. Was it some place of nightmare that makes them worse? Am I cursed now? Was it my fault we were found by it, because of the ruins?" So many questions, and she isn't sure she'll want the answers, but she asks them anyway.

She looks to Gabriel, worry clear on her face. "Our sons— we… right after… is that why they are so sick?" Her lower lip trembles some. "No, no, I'm interrupting. I shouldn't. I'm sorry. Please, Your Excellency."

Gabriel considers all that has been said and he rubs his chin in thought. "I see. When Alina first made mention of some of these things, I admit that I thought that they were remnants of stories she had heard as a child. Stories such that you here up in Murnord about goblyns and a goblyn king." He smiles slightly at that and then looks at Alina before putting an arm around her. "She does speak some truth, she has had quite a few nightmares in the past few months. There are times I worried for her, especially when she was carrying our sons." Speaking of them, he frowns at Alina's thought.

"They were smallfolk. Just men and women, but men and women touched by Chaos. And while they likely did not wish to eat you themselves, they may well have intended to feed you to something." Sirrah says matter-of-factly. "We've sought Dunsmore for an eternity…never any closer to finding it." She sighs, then cants her head, "The nightmares may continue for some time, but you were not within Dunsmore long enough to be truly tainted, if you were only there but a day and a night. It generally takes a few weeks of exposure to Chaos to truly become corrupted." She smiles, "And I've never heard of children being tainted before conception. Or even birth. Your babes are in no more danger than any other normal babes, I assure you. And it is unlikely you are cursed, or you would suffer from more than simply nightmares." Sirrah adds, reassuringly, "Nightmares are a frequent effect of seeing and experiencing such things. While no doubt trying…they are likely not driven by anything more than your own very prudent fears."

Alina looks relieved at Sirrah's words, nuzzling closer to Gabriel as his arm slips around her. She closes her eyes again. "Good," she says with a small nod. "Then even more reason to find the place and burn it to the ground," she says angrily. "Chaos-tainted… someone else could stumble into it as we did, be taken by those chaos-tainted smallfolk to One knows what. I will… I will make a note of it, for later." She swallows, and slides her hand into Gabriel's, the pommel of her dagger butting against him slightly.

"I had difficulty explaining… everything that must be said to Gabriel. Just thinking on some of it makes me feel ill, like I might sick up. And remembering the other…" she shivers. "Time has not lessened how vivid and terrifying it was."

"Chaos." Gabriel says quite simply, frowning. "What does one do when something is corrupted by chaos? Simply slay it? Would there be no form of redemption for the people in that village? Surely not everyone who becomes corrupted does so by their own will." He seems a little troubled by that. He feels Alina slide her hand into his and he offers her hand a soft squeeze as he considers some of this a little more. Finally he sighs.

"I am no scholar, and I do find the idea that normal people could become tainted and… made different. Especially through no fault of their own, but duties are duties and I have duties to the people of this duchy and this kingdom, and from my own experiences I can say that though I now feel a measure of pity for those people, they are a threat to the people. What can I do to ensure the safety and well-being of the people of this land?"

"The corruption of Chaos can be resisted, but removed?" Sirrah frowns, "Suffice to say it is an area of considerable research for us. As for the fate of the tainted…it depends on how strongly they resist. Not all are inherently harmful. We watch them, do what we can to ease any suffering the might experience, and grant them the mercy of a swift death if need be. We kill often, but not lightly." Sirrah explains, then smiles, "As for you, dear boy, all you need do for now is watch over your family and keep our secrets. Ours is a dangerous path, and I have ample forces in Lonnaire now, thanks to your Lady and particularly her father. I would not risk the future of this Duchy without good cause, but should such cause arrive, I will let you know. Or perhaps more likely Lord Lucas will, as he has actively joined our Order."

"I can keep your secrets." Gabriel responds to Sirrah. Though he nods, there is a way in which he said the words that indicate that was not quite all of it. Still, he remains quiet for several moments, not really sure exactly how he wants to say this or really what he wants to say.

He shifts in his seat, careful not to jostle Alina too much. "Here is the thing." These are the first words out of his mouth, perhaps not the greatest way to start off something, but it's plainly enough spoken for a man who considers himself a rather average knight. "I will look after my children and my future wife here." He motions to Alina. "And my family. You mention Lord Lucas. Lord Lucas is Alina's brother, so in a few months time he will be my family too. Perhaps it is the way my father raised me, the lessons that he has shared with me through all of my life, but family stands together."

"If there comes a day when something threatens my family, I don't care if you have enough soldiers in Lonnaire, in Couviere, or the entire Edge, I will draw steel and stand before it." One could say that it is a bit of bravado, but to Gabriel he has made promises to keep Alina safe and to safeguard her duchy. Like hell he would step back and let the church handle things.

"Lightsilver. You'd be better off drawing Lightsilver against the things we speak of." Sirrah notes, "Sidhe-Steel is even better, if you have it" Sirrah notes, looking just a touch wry, "I don't expect anyone to avoid defending themselves and their family. But Lucas' duties take him beyond simply Lonnaire, and my soldiers are not the traditional variety. The things we fight are typically not the type of thing fought with armies. Many of the things we face have ways of turning our numbers against us if we are not careful. So when we hunt…we hunt with discretion. Defend all you will, Sir Gabriel, but do not hunt unless bidden. That is what I ask, and if it IS bidden then God willing you will know at least some of what you face beforehand, and may prepare thusly."

Alina flinches. "Gabriel has a silver sword like Warren did—" and she cuts herself off, realizing how utterly childish she sounds. She looks down, chastened. "He'll learn about untraditional arts," she says defensively. "He must to be part of this family. When the time comes, I know he will be able to stand against the dark things. I know it."

"Lightsilver." He almost snorts at that. "I have an entire suit of plate armor in Lightsilver, a sword, a lance, a shield, and a dirk. Not to mention three handcannons made out of the stuff." Now that he actually listed outloud some of what he had won over the past year, a part of him almost wanted to laugh. He was a damned walking arsenal. That was rather embarassing in a way. He had enough to outfit at least a small squad of soldiers with different weapons, though that wasn't something he would consider doing.

Still though, he nods. "Of course." This is said to Sirrah. He frowns slightly at Alina. "One could already say that I have learned some untraditional arts. I am a knight who can use handcannons." This last is meant as a partial jest to lighten the mood.

"I'm not doubting Sir Gabriel's ability, Lady Alina. What I'm telling you is that I'm not going to go sending him wandering about the Edge looking for such a fight, the better for him to actually be by your side as your husband and Duke and father to your children." Sirrah's tone is ever-so-slightly exasperated, but she sips her tea once more and adds, "I fear I cannot tarry here longer than a day or two, so if you've any other questions, I would hear them." She adds, "Many in the household here are aware of all these things, as is the Baron Artos t'Acuto, and the Vigil in Couviere is commanded by none other than your Queen Mother."

Sirrah amends, "Which is not to say that Queen Cynthia is a seasoned monster slayer…but she knows much of our activities, and has been quite effective in finding the types of oddities that our Order seeks to investigate."

Alina looks exasperated herself for a moment. "I don't want him looking for them. But I do want your leave to Lucas to help teach him what he will need to know should he need to engage, anyway." She mutters to herself something about 'grandmother's fire'. "If he ends up having to fight one of those… things like in the ruins, he should know how to handle himself so that I have the best chance of NOT losing my duke, my husband, the father of my children." She sighs, a hint of bitterness in it.

"As for other questions? All of mine would just give me worse nightmares to know the answers. I leave the questions to my— to Gabriel."

Gabriel nods. "She is right, I will not go and hunt out monsters, but I will defend your duchy." He gives Alina a look, and then glances up at the Archbishop. "I have no questions, though it seems that I may need to talk to my betrothed some more regarding some of her past experiences, if I am to offer what comfort I can." He says this with a sigh, not knowing how much he can really offer.

"You'd likely have him teach him anyway, Lady Alina, but yes, I would suggest that it be done." Sirrah notes, finishing off her tea, "If there are no more questions, then I will take my leave. I will be in your guest quarters for tonight should you wish to speak further, and will likely join your family to break fast in the morning before I depart." She rises to her feet, and after a moment, moves over and briefly clasps Alina's hand, "The nightmares will pass…in time. Mine did."

Alina nods and looks as if she takes some strength from that reassurance. "Thank you for coming to speak with us, and I look forward to breakfast," she says simply. "Rooms have already been prepared. If you don't mind, I mustneeds stay and speak with my betrothed a few moments more, then check on my children."

Gabriel nods and then offers the Archbishop a smile. "Thank you for coming out to speak with us." He echoes his betrothed's comment, appreciating the fact that she at least did fulfill Alina's request. "I am glad to hear that she will be better in time." He offers Alina a smile and then bids the Archbishop a good night before waiting to see what Alina has to say.

Sirrah nods, smiling briefly to Gabriel, "Good evening to you both then. The One watch over you and your children." And then sees herself out, meeting her Priestly attendant outside and soon joined by a helpful servant to see her to her guest rooms.

Alina sinks back into the couch, looking exhausted. "Well, then. She'll give Lucas permission, so at least we'll not have to deal with more of his outbursts on the subject," she begins quietly.

Gabriel hmms and then nods. "Yes, though we need not worry about it so soon. There is time, and there are other things that we can focus our attention on right now. Such as our children, and making sure that you recover fully."

"Physically recovered?" Alina sighs. "Fleshknit is both wonderful and terrible. I'll bear that hideous scar all my life, but at least I'm fully healed." She reaches out for his hand. She frowns. "I do want you to spar with my brothers though. Learn our way of fighting with hands and body— how to escape holds, how to…" she cuts herself off. "You're a warrior more than I am," she says finally. "You know more than I what to hone, to sharpen."

"The scar is not hideous and no one can see it. It means nothing to me." He shrugs and then stands up and takes her hand helping her to her feet. "I will start sparring with them soon, you have my promise on that, but we can talk more on that tomorrow. Come now, Alina. Let us get ready for bed. Tomorrow we can make plans for the future."

She smiles a bit at that. "This is probably not the time to mention that you'll need to get me with child again at some point," she teases as she lets him lead her towards the door. "Oh! And deciding which of your sons will squire for you, I'm sure that's something too." She seems in a lighter mood, but with Sirrah's reassurances… she has a little more faith tomorrow will be a better day.

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