1867-02-02: Royal Considerations
Royal Considerations
Summary: A not-entirely typical morning for Queen Alysande and King Jaren Tracano.
Date: 2/2/1867 IA
Related: None
Alysande  Jaren  

Jaren Tracano padded barefoot across the Royal Chambers of Sunsreach Palace, still towelling off his hair from his usual morning bath, undertaken after his equally-usual hour or two of training that started shortly before dawn. Sometimes there was more training in the afternoon, but to Jaren’s mild dismay if not entirely to his surprise, there was not always enough time for that opportunity now that he carried a crown on his head. Indeed such opportunities were often scarce. He had a reasonable assumption it would not always be so, however. He was still in the process of learning his role as King, and adjusting to those things that differed from his role as Viscount of Ironhold.

He had been surprised when he realized he actually dealt with less missives now. Both because Alysande dealt with a fair number of them, and because they both had assistants and stewards that screened all but the most important messages for them. It was a bit less hands-on than Jaren might have been accustomed to, but it didn’t exactly leave more free time for leisure…no, there were always functions to attend, guests to entertain, or visits to make, or even simply sitting in on audiences. He hadn’t yet started doing so by himself, but he knew Alysande intended that he would one day (sooner, rather than later) be the case.

He knew Alysande had noticed the disquiet in him these past few weeks. She hadn’t pried to its’ source but she no doubt correctly surmised that it was tied to Sirrah’s visit. Alysande never asked about the Widow and Emilia, instead waiting for him to speak of such matters himself…and eventually he always did. It was strange to him, sometimes, how she would for all appearances seem ignorant of his work with the Vigil right up until such matters were broached. On the other hand, it was gratifying to see the tacit admission that she simply trusted him to handle those matters, and that if she needed to have her attention drawn to them, he would let her know. He knew he would have to tell her of the Prophet’s tidings soon, but even the thought of it gave him a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. Those tidings brought hope, after a fashion, but they carried too high a price, and he knew he would have to admit to Alysande his shame that he had, for more than a moment, considered ways that that price could be met. But no…he would not damn people to the fate of being fodder for the Widow. Not even criminals and traitors deserved that fate. He had taken a blasphemous oath of justice against the Banshee…but there were still limits. He would not let himself or his family lose their souls to her.

He moved now to the edge of the bed, where Alysande still lay slumbering. Normally she too would be up at dawn or shortly before, but the midwife had recommended that she start getting a bit more rest, if for no other reason than to prepare herself for when she would have to get more rest. So far she had avoided morning sickness, but both of them presumed it was only a matter of time. Until then…the additional rest seemed to agree with her. Few realized how little sleep she had been getting on most nights, though Jaren was glad she had not turned to habitual use of Neversleep as some did. He studied her a moment, then leaned down and kissed her cheek lightly, giving her a gentle shake by the shoulder.

“Lyssa…time to wake up.”

"Mm." Alysande stirred in her slumber, rolling partially over and snuggling deeper into the down mattress and pillows.

But then her eyes fluttered open, taking a moment to truly focus and awaken. "Jaren," she acknowledged her husband, then stretched a bit, allowing the blood to flow to her body and her body to awaken as her mind slowly did.

Sleep was not something she was used to getting in quite these amounts, and her body had been soaking up the extra hours asleep like a sponge. She finished her stretching and sat up, looking at her husband.

<FS3> Alysande rolls Perception: Good Success. (2 2 2 4 2 2 5 7 2 2 8 6)

Something serious was behind Jaren's eyes, she could tell. But for now she would not push him to tell her what was concerning him. Perhaps after a bit. She leaned up and kissed him lightly. "Good morning."

“Good morning.” Jaren replied, smiling warmly as the kiss parted. He turned away, but only briefly enough to pluck up the warm robe that lay nearby, unfolding it and holding it up for Alysande to slip into once she rose. Something a servant could easily have been on-hand for, but these small things Jaren rather enjoyed doing for her. Besides, the servants were already in motion preparing a hot cup of Alysande’s favored tea, though again at the midwife’s suggestion not nearly so sweetened as she might have liked.

“The Alhazredi depart for Ironhold by Faegate this morning.” Jaren reminded Alysande, wrapping his arms around her in a brief, warm embrace once the robe was about her, adding another brief kiss. “I saw breakfast being prepared on the way up from the yard. Everything looks to be in order.” Since naturally, they would be breaking fast with said Alhazredi before their leaving.

“Duke Symon will be here for afternoon tea. I’m assuming you’d like me to be there as well?” Jaren queried, no reluctance in his voice, but there were certainly times that she directed him to other tasks that required a royal touch. Only relatively small ones so far, but details that she then nevertheless would not need to attend to herself. Jaren would have to begrudgingly admit that thus far the responsibilities Alysande had delegated to him were not as trying as he feared they may be. But he was never one to allow himself complacency. He knew the challenges would come, but was grateful circumstance had not yet placed any daunting ones in his path while he still learned his new role.

"I don't want the tea," Alysande replied quickly, looking a little green for a moment. The smell of the steeping leaves from the sitting room through their bedroom door was already churning her stomach. It seems like her first bout of morning sickness had arrived, and as it does, with ill timing.

She slips into the offered robe and draws it close around her. "And yes, I would like you to be present for the meeting with Symon. I think he could benefit from having you sit in— he's a brilliant young man, but I worry that he's pushing his people too far, too fast."

"This evening," she continues, as she makes her way to one of the closets— she wasn't fond of having people dressing her beyond tightening laces and latching hooks— and begins fingering through her dresses, idly deciding which to wear this day, "I'd scheduled some time for us to spend in the menagerie." A small break, it seems, from all the paperwork and politics. "If you're interested in walking through it with your horrible taskmaster of a wife."

The servant that had prepared the tea had already taken the obligatory sip (to assure of the lack of poison), but she inclines her head and begins to clean up the tea service, though Jaren beckoned with a hand, “I’ll drink it.” No sense letting it go to waste, after all. The cup and saucer was placed within easy reach as he too pulled on a robe and tied it down.

“Yes, I’ve had that impression of the young Duke.” Jaren agreed, looking thoughtful for a few moments, “I think he likely spent so much time being suppressed by his parents that now that he has free rein it’s heady enough to outweigh his sense…a bit.” He didn’t mean to be uncharitable to the fellow, who seemed quite intelligent and perceptive. But he was young to come to his birthright.

“She does vex me at times.” Jaren replied with a bit of a wry expression at Alysande’s self-description, “But thankfully the benefits outweigh the vexations.” He sipped from the teacup, “So a bit of time in the Menagerie doesn’t sound too terrible.” He teased lightly, setting the cup aside. “Or terrible at all, really.”

As the servant leaves, leaving them alone in their bedroom, Alysande glanced to Jaren from the closet. These spare moments were likely the only moments they'd have truly alone again until nightfall and them taking to their bed to sleep.

"Was there anything you wanted to speak to me about before we break our fast?" she asked from the closet. He could always say no. Many mornings he did, after all. She decided on a gown, and removes it from the hanger and carries it out of the closet to lay on the bed. Her undergarments and the like had already been layed out for her on one of the tables in their bedroom.

“There are things I should…and will… talk to you about, but they are not immediately pressing.” Jaren paused, then shook his head, “Though I suppose I may as well.” He sipped his tea once more, frowning a bit, before he finally spoke, “I told you that the Prophet Hashim is Sirrah’s counterpart in Alhazred, and that they were friends and acquaintances of old.” He took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly, before adding, “I didn’t tell you why he came on this excursion to Rivana though. He and his own Vigilants they…killed a Banshee.” He paused a moment, giving the statement time to sink in.

Alysande glanced to him sharply. "Killed… but you said they were unkillable?" Her minds starts churning with the possibilities. "How many of them are penned up in my nation, waiting to be set loose or for some unsuspecting soul to happen across them?" She smiles brightly. "That someone has found a way to kill them… to remove them from our world for good…"

“If only it were so simple.” Jaren lamented, shaking his head, his expression troubled, “The…mechanism for achieving the feat was stumbled upon by accident. For the deed to be done…the Banshee had to feed. To…gorge itself. Apparently a large tribe of desert nomads, or a collection of tribes. Hundreds of lives before it was…solid…enough to kill with Sidhe-Steel. Even then, the Prophet lost some of his own Vigilants in the combat.”

Jaren glanced down at the floor, “Hundreds of lives. And The One God help me, Lyssa, I still started thinking of ways to achieve it. I actually considered…using people as fodder for her.” He shut his eyes tightly, a grimace spreading over his face, “Condemning people to the fate my family suffered.” He sighed again, opening his eyes and meeting Alysande’s own, his expression a weary one. Not anguished, exactly, but the look of a man that’s fought a difficult battle with himself, and only achieved an uncertain victory. “I..we cannot do that. I would give near anything to see justice for my family and peace for Emilia’s soul…but Sirrah warned me in my earliest days as a Vigilant that we must be cautious to not become as much the monster as those we hunt. No one deserves such a fate…not even the lowest and foulest of our people. Death? Fine…but not like that.”

A brief pause and he added, “Three. There are three in Rivana.”

"A ruler," Alysande said quietly, "is responsible for all their people. And sometimes, yes, we must make decisions for the greater good. It… Jaren, you call it monstrous, but it is something I will need to consider. Not only for the good of my people now, but for the good of the next ten generations. How many atrocities has the Widow committed already? Or the others, before they were penned up— and they still, well, that ward isn't completely secure. As it was seen in Alhazred, people can still get in, and all it takes is a weakening of the seals and perhaps they might escape to wreak havok."

"No, Jaren." Alysande is the crueler of the two, if either could be said to be cruel… what she suffered in her youth running from Anton left a dark scar on her soul, and a feeling of paranoia that would never quite leave her, even in the brightest days with the gladdest tidings. "I am not saying we must do it, but we must consider it."

Jaren had scars of his own, some from similar origins and some not. Cruel was not a term that likely would ever apply to Jaren, but he was more than capable of cold. She’d seen it near every time his blade was drawn in her defense or that of Rivana. Every time save that very first, all those years ago in the literal first moments of the Succession War. Thankfully, that degree of fear and confusion had never threatened to overtake him since. Or at least he had learned to shunt it aside until he could allow himself to process it.

He studied Alysande in silence a few moments, and though his tone and expression were still conflicted, he admitted, “I…had not thought of it in that way.” She likely could tell he had thought himself selfish, thinking of Emilia’s fate and retribution for his family. But then again, he was still learning to think on the scale of multiple generations. In Ironhold he had had his hands full just securing the current one after what befell them. “We’ll consider it if we must. But…it is a horrible fate, Lyssa. Painful, terrifying, and not altogether quick, and it leaves the bodies desecrated…withered near to dust…in the act.” A fate he only narrowly avoided himself.

He involuntarily shuddered a bit as unpleasant memory reached him. Likely only Alysande and Emilia had ever seen those tacit releases of fear and vulnerability from “the Champion.” The Cassomirs were well known for stoicism, but behind closed doors the armor was shed. Still, he rose to his feet, gulping down the warm tea and moving to his own wardrobe. Thankfully dressing was a considerably less involved affair for him, even with the greater degree of finery now comprising his wardrobe.

“If I learn anything else on the matter. Or of any…alternatives…I will inform you, of course.” He said as he started removing appropriate attire for the day. He still seemed troubled, though it was difficult to say whether it was from dark memories being brought to the fore, or the specific matter at hand. Nor for that matter, was it clear whether those troubles perhaps weighed less heavily now than they did a few moments ago. Then again…never complacent. Perhaps a desirable trait in a King, even if a sometimes-heavy burden.

Alysande nodded, slowly, still mulling possibilities in her mind as she shed her robe and began to dress in her undergarments and chemise. She put her corset on, and looped her thumbs into the laces and pulled them tight. She wouldn't be having her handmaid tighten them further— again, midwife's orders. In another couple of months she would be forbidden corsets entirely.

"…the Abara." Alysande murmured it quietly. "If Tristan gathered what we need for proof, then executing them would be serving justice, I think. They could serve the realm instead of slay it. I would do this thing, use them to feed the Widow so that you and your Vigilants could rid us of her evil."

Her voice was somewhat rough as she spoke, evidence of the burden of rulership and the standards she held herself to. "We could arrest them, if we had the ability to do so without coming across as tyrants. And it would destroy two evils with one action."

"We… we must consider that an option, my Jaren."

Jaren pulled on his own undergarments, and then the loose shirt he would wear beneath the doublet. He was silent as Alysande spoke. He tucked the shirt into his trousers and reached for the doublet, pulling it on but not fully securing it just yet. He finally nodded, then finished securing his own attire. Thankfully the day did not call for excessive finery.

“You know I will consider any course you ask of me. And that in these quiet spaces with none to overhear I will give my unvarnished thoughts and opinions on them, and honest counsel in public when asked for it. I will be…conflicted on this particular choice. I do not know if I can be fully objective in this matter. But while the final decision may rest with you, as it should, you know I will not let you bear the consequences of the crown’s choices alone.” He smiled, moving over to help Alysande with the fastenings of her dress as she pulled it on.

“The final decisions may most often be yours, but the burdens are shared between us. I might have hidden that in invisible ink on the marriage contract somewhere.” Jaren teased, trying to lighten the heavy mood. “As for the Abara…we will deal with the logistics of that possibility when the possibility is made more manifest. We have to give those we’ve tasked with uncovering their evil time to work.” That anyone at all had been directly tasked with such remained a closely-guarded secret, though it would be shared with Prince Tristan soon enough. Jaren had counselled that they let the investigation play out in slightly more…objective…hands until more solid evidence was had. Symon was not the only one that might push too hard.

Alysande nodded, though it was somewhat absently, already her mind was shifting back towards the events of the day to come rather than those still distant, but the information Jaren provided was safely tucked-away for the future. Once her dress was fully in-place, she turned about and made a few minor adjustments to Jaren’s ensemble, then leaned up on her toes and kissed him, giving him a warm smile before she picked up a small silver bell and rang it, signaling her handmaidens to return.

Alysande moved to sit down, allowing the handmaidens to artfully arrange her golden hair and apply the light touch of cosmetics she usually wore. They worked with practiced efficiency, helping to have the Queen fully presentable in just a few minutes.

Jaren waited patiently for the last of Alysande’s preparations to be made. His own manservant remained nearby, but he had groomed prior to his bath, and was perfectly capable of putting a comb through his hair on his own. When Alysande was ready, he moved over and offered a hand to help her to her feet, and then shifted alongside her, letting her loop her arm through his as they moved to the door, on to face the challenges of a new day.


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