(1867-10-15) A Different Way
A Different Way
Summary: Esyld goes to see how Vorian's doing, after his dressing-down from Lady Alina.
Date: October 15th
Related: Follows on shortly after And It Begins
Esyld  Vorian  

Barracks, Highwater Castle, Lonnaire
In scene
Octobre 15th, 1867 IA

As is so often the case, one of Vorian's men stands guard outside Vorian's chambers. A certain distance away from the door. He's resting in his chair, sipping wine from a bottle, his eyes closed. This is Delos, a man whom the others have given up playing dice with. And there are raised voices from within the chamber. "Even if we was freed, d'you truly think we'd leave you, y'fuckin' fool?" This is Fallon

"Damnit, I'm not sayin' leave me, I'm sayin' we hire you on with the Black Foxes, get you trainin' their infantry!" This, of course, is Vorian himself. Delos has a rather bored expression, as though he's developed intentional deafness. "We follow you! Now stop sulkin' and figure out a way! You OWE us." And the door flies open. Fallon comes storming out, slamming the door behind him. "Stubborn little shit," he grouses as he stalks away.

"You could do far worse than the Foxes." Esyld's tone is calm, though perhaps a touch more clipped than usual, as she overhears the tail end of the 'discussion'. Levelling a stony glare upon Fallon in his passing, she relents to add, maybe a little more gently, "..he was never going to balance his new position well with his long-held one. You're not exactly aiding the transition by clinging, Fallon." The woman is leaning against the wall just outside Vorian's door, arms folded, head resting back against the unyielding stone. If one didn't know full well the speed with which she could move to violence or rage, the posture might almost be considered nonchalant. How long has she been here?

Long enough, apparently.

"What would you have him do, raise you all to knighthood just so you can stay officially within his ranks? You'd be better suited to the Foxes. And Vorian, like it or not, is a knight. His obligations will, in the end, lie with his liege.. regardless of his love for you and the others." It's a detached way of considering it, true. But undeniably pragmatic. Still, the woman doesn't seem inclined to interrupt what's going on behind closed doors. Not yet. Fallon's opinion carries weight, in this matter.. and she, being commonborn, is not too proud to acknowledge it.

"It's not about that, Esyld." Fallon looks ragged; he glances over at Delos. "Take a walk, dicer." And Delos obediently rises and saunters away, apparently taking no offense from his curt dismissal. Fallon turns his attention back to Esyld, sighing. "Vorian needs us," he says softly. "Look at him. He's lost. I seen it before; when we came home the first time, when we all scattered." The grizzled old man is speaking softly, urgently, titles forgotten as he continues. "Vorian ain't just a blade, Esyld. He pours everythin' he has into leadin' men. It's what truly makes him great. But now.. he fears for us. So he means t'send us someplace safe."

The old man looks genuinely distraught. "Talk him outta it," he hisses. "He's got nothin' but leading us to keep him movin' forward. Duty runs both up and down the line, Sir Esyld — he'll hold fast to every duty he can, even when it breaks him apart." Gritting his teeth, the old man says "..At least talk t'him. Calm him down. He's gutted. I dunno what happened in that meetin', but I've rarely seen'm in such a state."

There's a momentary flit of a glance toward Delos, a silent farewell, perhaps, to the one who let her stand here in questionably companionable silence. "..no." Returning her gaze to Fallon, Esyld maintains her composure, as one would expect, otherwise unmoving. "..what he needs is purpose. You and the others embody that for him. He's struggling to find his place here. You think it wasn't hard for me, leaving behind my comrades in the Foxes? And Fallon.." The half-smile as she pushes up from her lean is rather lacking in mirth. "..do not ever again, in my presence, refer to that company as a 'safe place'. We're as expendable as we are brutal." We. Deep down, despite her stance on this matter, she still thinks of those mercenaries as her own.

"Their numbers could use the boost of well-experienced men such as yours. But Vorian having men 'at his command' is a privilege that may well be picked up on, in the months to come.. and questioned. Lord Gabriel needs knights to realise his vision of the Amethyst Guard.. and he needs them focused and unfaltering. You saw what happened when his leadership was questioned."

Looking now toward the door, Esyld draws a slow breath, visibly bracing herself to go in and deal with the crux of this battle. But before she does.. "You know how much I care for and appreciate every one of you. And I know how much you mean to him. You anchor him." Those striking eyes meet Fallon's; unwavering though not unkind. "..just be sure you don't drag him down in stormy waters." It's not like her to be quite so cutthroat about things, especially the bonds one forms with their comrades. But doesn't everyone seem a little out of sorts, today? "I'll see what I can do to soothe his concerns. You go and ponder over the true nature of your own." With that, she pushes the door slowly open and steps into the chamber beyond.

Out in the hallway, the hard old sergeant murmurs a curse. He stares at the door that's closing behind Esyld, and then turns away. There are tears in his eyes as he walks down the hallway, shaking his head from side to side. This is a man who, in his own right, could command a company of heavy infantry. Wiping his hands angrily down his face, he disappears toward the barracks.

Inside the room, Vorian is seated bonelessly at his desk. Well, in his desk chair. He's turned away from the desk, gazing hollowly over at his cot. He seems sapped, despite the explosive shouting that had been emanating from the room just a few moments before. Instead of that fire, there's a sullen anger that burns like dimming coals. He lifts his head toward Esyld.

"I didn't deserve all of that," he says softly. Apparently, he's still reliving the last few minutes of the meeting. "I didn't ever intend to contradict her."

"You didn't contradict her." Closing the door behind herself, Esyld stays facing it a moment, both hands braced, as she fights to set aside the image of Fallon's expression on the other side. It's not always easy, or pleasant, being the one who says what people need to hear. Mastering her composure with practised skill, however, the woman straightens and turns to regard her fellow t'Maren; her expression returned to one of impassive neutrality. "..you just posed a different question rather than answering the one she asked. That's never going to endear you to her, you know." Crossing the floor unhurriedly toward Vorian, she coolly adjusts one of her cuffs, fiddling as she speaks. "Did you deserve quite such an earbashing? Maybe not. But there was only Corvin and I to see, and we've both seen worse. Did you deserve a scolding.. yes, probably. She's the daughter of the Hawk of Lonnaire and wife to Gabriel l'Corren. Have you heard of the expression, 'teaching your granny to suck eggs'?"

Reaching the cot. Esyld drops down to a seat with a weary lack of grace, promptly leaning back on her hands and crossing her legs comfortably at the knee. "You swore to serve this house. Not any individual in particular, as has been pointed out to me, recently. The same discussion with Gabriel likely wouldn't have roused any fussing at all. But you have to understand.." There's the hint of a frown darkening the brunette's brow, though only in thought rather than ire. "Alina has yet to truly grow into her role. She has herself bemoaned, on numerous occasions, the blatant differences in the respect shown to her compared to that of her father. You questioned, rather than answer, and that frustrated her. Add that to a hangover and little sleep and well.. you're lucky she doesn't have your balls for baubles." The hint of a smile quirks her lips as she watches the seated man, perhaps seeking to lighten the mood fractionally. "As it stands.. the Lady has taken ill. The healer is in attendance."

"I meant to offer her a different way of lookin' at the problem," says Vorian softly. But he rises out of his seat and goes to sit beside Esyld on the cot, leaning into the woman tiredly. "I'm sorry that she's not feeling well," he says softly. And he seems to be sincere. "But she had points. It's not fair for me to have brought my men and forced them into the Guard, if that's not the idea Gabriel has for it. I was hoping you could talk t'your friends in the Black Foxes, have them placed together. Fallon could command a hundred men, and each of the others has the skill to train as well as any t'Maren knight. Six years of straight warfare together."

He considers for a moment, gazing down. "I'll speak to Gabriel before I make the decision. But I need t'place them where they have the men to back them up." He sighs, and the look he gives Esyld is, frankly, scared. "I have to do the right thing. For the Family and for my men." He seems far from certain what that is.

Alina is more than just 'under the weather'.. but she's not going to trouble the man with that news quite yet. One thing at a time. "I could do that, certainly." she murmurs, subtly nudging back with her own weight when Vorian leans against her. "Lord Alliser is a fine Commander. And while yes, I may well be biased, the Foxes are more fiercely loyal and battle-scarred as any fighting force I have yet to encounter on the field. Your men would find a place there.. they would adapt. Even if they didn't agree at first, it is a good place for them, long-term."

She also neglects to mention her discussion with Fallon, or that she had been calmloy eavesdropping on the shouting match. A woman needs her advantages, now and then.

That look from Vorian, however, elicits a strange expression from the t'Maren bastard. Holding his gaze sombrely, there's a long pause before she offers, very quietly: "..you won't be able to make them both happy."

Sighing, but emboldened by that pressure back against him, Vorian drapes an arm around Esyld's shoulders. "No. But I can do what I've always tried to do — the right thing by both." He sighs, closing his eyes for a moment. "Six years." The words simply hang for a few moments before he continues. "How did you do it?" The question is stark, pained. "You managed to let your men go. How?"

He has no idea, of course, that she's already levelled Fallon's own arguments. But he's expressing the same, if perhaps from the other side. "You don't realize," he muses, "how much you count on men needing you. Half of what I do is an act, Esyld, in battle. And off the field too. I pretend for their sakes." His head turns toward the woman as his eyes open.

"You think every leader doesn't do the same..?" Summoning a wan smile, Esyld counters these points more gently than she had Fallon's. "That's what being a leader is. Inspiring those under your command to follow in good faith, regardless of the odds. And not just on the battlefield. But they can rely upon you with being directly in your ranks, you know. Responsibility for their lives is a burden you are taking upon yourself, not one that is demanded of you. I understand why you do it. But you need to understand that it is a mantel you can - and perhaps should - set aside, when the time is right. There's a good place for them here, Vorian. But they're not knights. You have a place in Gabriel l'Corren's guard. They don't."

Returning to the former question, in a roundabout way, she sighs softly before continuing. "..I didn't see it as a choice, because I didn't see it as such a change. I still serve the same Lord, I still share the same purpose.. I'm still the same person. I just have different barracks, now. That's how you have to look at it."

"I could still check in with them," muses Vorian softly. "I could make sure they're well placed, with your help." He runs his hand up and down Esyld's shoulder, sighing. "You're right. The sooner I stop trying to be what I was, the sooner I can be useful here. And the sooner I'm useful to them, the sooner they'll begin to listen to me."

He closes his eyes for another long moment. "This is the way it has to be," he finally says. "Perhaps once I've convinced Lord Gabriel that there is a place for the heavy infantry, it can be different here. But as it is — we are squandering the talents of eight of the finest soldiers I ever met, simply because I am greedy." Hissing out through his teeth, Vorian shakes his head again.

"Fallon," he says in a dry tone, "..Is going to carve me to fucking shreds."

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