(1866-10-05) The Burden of Proof
The Burden of Proof
Summary: The Queen speaks to her cousins about the recent murders. Opinions differ on what is to happen next.
Date: 1866-10-05
Related: A Gruesome Morning Discovery and Bad News
Alysande  Clara  Tristan  Aidric  

Sunsreach Palace
Room description
Octobre 5th 1866

Time had been given for those recently come from Pacitta to recover from gatesickness. In point of fact, Alysande commanded Tristan to take a full day to recover… mostly because of the content of what she would have to be sharing with him all too soon.

So Tristan had used his time in forced convelesence well: immediately upon hearing his Carling cousin Aidric had returned to Sunsreach, he had dispatched a messenger requesting the other man's presence this evening. Alysande had done much the same with Clara, though demanding the girl rest after her trip through the faegate as well. If Martyn had not been away in Greenmeadow serving the crown on such business, he too would be joining.

So for whatever small surprise it is to the Queen when Aidric enters the chambers at Tristan's side are made moot quickly. Alysande greets him as she does both her royal cousins, and gestures to offer them all seats around the council table.

The room is empty, save the rounded table and chairs, the maps on the walls. There is not wine to drink, which may show some gravity to the situation.

Tristan does bring along his good buddy Aidric, because he has suspected what this meeting will reveal and what sorts of actions are needed to be taken in order to resolve the problem that was now facing the family. He offers Alysande a respectful nod as he enters and makes his way to the offered seat. Clara is given a nod as well, but it's clear by Tristan's expression that he is not a very pleased person. No. Despite his outburst when he had first been given the news, he was a little more restrained, though he still held a good deal of anger within him. Anger that needed a target to be unleashed upon.

Aidric enters the room a half-step behind Tristan. He looks a touch pale but otherwise recovered from his trip. There is none of his usual cocky grins or mocking glances, he just enters and bows once and deeply to the Queen with a murmured "Cousin," since this was a private gathering.

The air is somber, indeed. It is not a joyous occasion. Of course, Clara had heard of the outburst…and a bit of the cause. But, she had not pressed….but had the good sense to return swiftly after Tristan. Her countenance is healthy enough, though pale not for health reasons, but the perceived reasoning for the summons. Alysande is given a proper curtsey….Tristan and Aidric nods. Clara does, however, remains silent…at least, for now.

Alysande settles her gaze on Tristan. "Tris," she says shortly, a hint of pain and frustration in her tone. "Tris, I need you to give me a bloody list of all the women you've taken to your bed." She rubs her temples. "One knows I don't want to know, but I would rather a Lancer find each of them before…" she trails off.

"A courtesan by the name of Natalia was found… in pieces. Shipped in a barrel to the palace." Her face is white. "And one of the seamstresses we've both had work done with—and I know you've…. well." She shudders. "Little Mari. Her body was found this morning. You do not wish to know the condition."

Tristan lets out a breath, almost a laugh if he could manage one. "Oh, if I could remember half of their names, certainly, I could give you a list. That is if you had the time to wait for me to write them all down." A glint of anger sparks in his eyes at the mention of Natalia and the Seamstress. "So first the woman and girl from Normont and then Natalia and then this seamstress? Well, this seems all to be directed at me. Let me ask you. Did you see the bodies of the woman and girl from Normont? Was that girl.. was she my daughter?"

"Bloody black abyss," Aidric curses as the list of other murders are given. His blood runs cold. He could conjure up both faces from memory and knew both women in passing. It cut close to home. Though when Tristan asks if the girl was indeed his daughter, Aidric turns to the Queen to await the answer, hoping for his friend's sake it wasn't true.

A gasp escapes from Clara's throat, as she recognizes at least the last name mentioned. A hand clamps over her mouth, stifling the rising question leaping to her lips. Instead, she composes herself, though looking decidedly paler than before. Gruesome news, indeed. Clara does the same as Aidric, her attention upon the Queen for the answer to Tristan's question.

"Was she?" Alysande sighs. "I cannot say for sure. I did not see the bodies myself, though some I trust, including a trio of our Lancers, have. The girl may have favored you: blonde, and her face perhaps. But will we ever truly know, especially now that she is dead?" Alysande blows out a deep breath, then shakes her head. "Whether she was in truth or not, the paper crown on her head was enough of an insult. She was either believed to be or intended to be your daughter, and that must be how I accept this assault on my family."

"Goddamn it." Tristan's worse come out of him as a hiss. And he lowers his gaze as he considers some of this. "I am going to go on the assumption that it is highly likely that she was and that this was meant to be more of an insult to me than it was to you, though the crown was a bit much." He takes in a breath and holds it, trying not to let the anger he is feeling get the best of him. "You do realize that they have to die right? Not some of them. Not most of them. All of them. The tree must be uprooted and all of the roots dug out and cut away."

Aidric's lips curl into a sneer at the news of the paper crown. Though in his mind's eye it's on the head of his own bastard girl. His eyes flare angrily. "Tristan's right. None of these whoresons get to live, not after that, evidence or no, they die," declares in support of Tristan as he looks from the Queen to Clara defying them to say no.

Clara blinks…in surprise and perhaps in realization. Not only for what Tristan and Aidric are calling for…but for the fact that the same thing happened before, only in a different house…in a different kingdom. "I…I can see the need for justice. I know this cannot stand without any action." There is a pause. A moment to collect her thoughts as Clara proceeds. "But…the whole tree? Is there no innocents to be spared? You are speaking about taking the children, too. That…that cannot be right."

Alysande looks at them all. "Then you know who is doing this, Tristan? Who you have made an enemy of so that they risk my wrath, my kingdom's wrath while they kill your lovers and bastards?"

She closes her eyes. "Tris, I want that list so if there are any other bastards of yours, unknown to us now, we can find them, protect them before this… happens again."

She looks to Clara. "If it is a noble house, they'll be lucky if I only strip them of everything including title and banish them forever. But…" she frowns. "If it what I suspect, then there may not be innocents among them."

"Fine. I will write up a list as soon as this meeting is done and provide you with as many names as I can think of, though if they want to go after my former lovers, I wonder if that means that Alina is in danger." He almost snorts then. "Doubtful, but it is a possibility."

"It has to be one group of people. No noble house in Rivana could be so stupid to provoke your wrath now. Not when you have so much support behind you." Tristan shakes his head, glancing over at Aidric and giving the man a nod, a tell that he appreciates his cousin's support. "My suspicion is that the Abara are behind this."

There is an annoyed tut from Aidric. "They've killed a child. Why should we spare theirs? As the Queen says, there are no innocent Abara." He takes a moment to acknowledge that nod before he moves on to logistics. "When we strike it should be sure, swift and final, if this matter drags on the worse it looks for us and more diluted the lesson becomes. The whole kingdom needs to understand the cost of waking the Tracano dragon."

A shake of a head, and Clara sighs. "because we are better than them, perhaps? At least, more enlightened? Yes, the Abara deserve retribution. You will find no argument from me for that. But, really, wiping out the entire tree? Killing children that do not know any better? Do we really want to do that?" It seems that Clara may have an opinion on this…but does manage to silence herself, lest she say something she may regret later.

"One Above. How many noblewomen am I going to have to advise to guard themselves more thoroughly?" Alysande growls, rubbing her temples. "Though of yet they have not sought your noble lovers. Thankfully." She grimaces. "The uproar and terror it would cause if noblewomen started turning up… like these others." She looks ill for a few moments. "There would be chaos. Panic."

"I cannot have that at all, but less so with my wedding approaching," she declares. "The names will help, but we must put a stop to it. What do you require from me to investigate this? To bring it to a close?" She shakes her head slightly. "Within reason, you will have it. I am sure Duchess Greycen will release a Warden or two to assist as you need with the hunt."

She nods in agreement with Aidric. "I agree. When the truth is uncovered, we need to act swiftly. We have no proof it is the Abara, though I share your suspicions. Find the proof, and we will…" she grits her teeth. "We will handle them."

"Not as many noblewomen as you might think, dear cousin of mine. A few here and there, but I found that courtesans and servants can make for quite wonderful playthings as well." A slight curl of his lips is the only sign of amusement that Tristan outwardly gives. "But yes, dead noblewomen would be very problematic and thus I think it is telling that whoever is doing this, Abara or no, is targeting common-born women. It is still a message, though not quite one that will rile up the nobility of Rivana as much as other… issues."

Tristan rubs his chin in thought for a few moments. "I need to talk to the Moreno and the Silva and then work from there. I promise you this right now. If it is the Abara, I want the head of that family. They die at my hands. For this… and for other things."

"Proof?" Aidric bites out before he reins himself in. He takes a long slow breath. "With respect your Majesty, how many crimes will we allow these killers to commit before we act? Waiting for proof will cost lives, I'd wager my soul on it. So let's not send to the Greycens not for Wardens but troops, strike now. If we're wrong about this murder, so be it, we will find the other bastards later, but the Abara have already killed more than enough to warrant being put down like the dogs they are."

There isn't a word from Clara. There doesn't need to be, for her expression is more than expressive enough to signify her thoughts. She is not one to act rashly, in the heat of passion. She is of the same line…to have proof before dramatic action is taken.

"Yes, proof." Alysande's eyes flash dangerously. "I am not someone who goes in for mass executions without at least an attempt to be sure I'm giving the Queen's justice to the right damned people! The Abara are bastards, murdering, assassin bastards. Do you think I'm blind to this? Do you think I don't recall who it was at Georgio's Redoubt? Who Anton sent against me and my loyalists? Do you think I do not want every single one of those poxy sons of whores dead?" Oh, a Tracano dragon has surely been awoken.

"But I have rules, order, LAWS. If it is them, then they have finally stepped over one bridge too far. They aren't in this one for business. This is some sick sadistic person's pleasure and I will not have it. And I do not want to waste time chasing down the Abara— who are notoriously good at not being caught!— if there is someone else doing this. I want the person calling these shots under the axe of my headsman. And I want any he or she may be working with right beside them. But I want to be damned sure its the right people."

"I think my dear cousin is making the point that the bastards should have been held accountable far before all of this has come to pass." Tristan says, in a rather calm tone. At least as calm as he can make it. "I do not disagree with him, though your point about laws and rules and order is understood, hence why I have agreed to go and search out this proof. I will find this proof, and then I will see that justice will be done."

"The Abara are the right people!" Aidric fires back. "If not for this than for hundreds of other crimes. If you fear how the people will take it, tell them just a sample of what they've done, just that and they will cheer you for the deed. Which I think we all agree is a much better outcome than letting them run loose." He clenches his jaw after that looking to the others. "However it seems I am in the minority, so, let us seek our proof then, but when it leads the way to the Abara, you may all find yourself wishing you struck now and saved whomever else they take while we waited."

"I agree with Her Majesty." It is a simple enough statement from Clara, but it has deep meaning. The title being used, instead of any informal address, speaks to the fact that Clara respects the fire and passion that the head of the Tracano house has displayed…and the fact that it is tempered with respect for the very laws she has put in place. "If we retaliate in kind…taking an eye for an eye, without regard for order, then we are no better than the Abara. And…I truly believe we are. We need to show that we will not be swayed…will not leap blindly into action. We must be absolutely sure." A strong opinion from the young woman.

"It's settled then," Alysande says lowly. "Do what you need to ferret out the truth. Keep me apprised. And Tris… that list. As soon as you can get it to me." She rises. "You're all dismissed." And without even waiting for them to leave, she departs. This situation has her quite shaken, in truth.

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