503-03-27 Negotiations with Avanna

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March 27th, 503

The Empress sails out with the Admiral and select others to meet the Avannese to discuss the return of the prisoners. With the aid of a magical item, the Emperor himself is able to attend these negotiations.



The hours-long journey from the heart of Gateway to the mouth of the Barrier- a trip that mere years ago would have been undreamt of, passes quickly, and delivers all sides to a meeting unlike any other for decades; perhaps even centuries..


The Imperial detachment is a powerful one: a half dozen Heavy Galleys, fully crewed, each dipping over a hundred oars; four of the small and swift Light Galleys, and looming above all the rest are a pair of the titanic Great Galleys, whose hundreds of oars sweep the waters in time, top decks lined with long rows of artillery.


Out from behind the wall of water, and into the open sea these ships come, to meet a force many times larger. A dozen ships under the standards of Avanna- sleek Ship-sloops, and sturdy brigs, but most impressive of all, is the Tyrish detachment of thirty sail, set to preside over this meeting of nations.


The Empress' party is aboard Mena's namesake ship: Her Majesty, under the personal command of the Admiral. The mist is heavy over the water, lanterns of the opposing ships painting a ghostly, and half obscured image of the meeting.


Off to the side of where everyone is supposed to be 'meeting', the all to familiar Crimson Tear lies in wait. She's turned with side towards the 'negotiators', and the familiar face of the Commodore Raven Darkel standing on the railing, shoulder leaning against the roped ladder that runs up from it with a sailor's expertise. She just seems to be waiting. And watching.


And the Empress is standing near the railing of the ship as it passes over the barrier and sets down into the waters. She hasn't been very conversational on the trip, but very serious in demeanor. The sight of the other ships, or the lanterns upon them through the fog, currently has her attention.


Trudging up from the oars comes Red, arms hanging limply. Her left hand is on her right shoulder, rolling said shoulder as she looks about. Her features are flushed, and sweat has pressed her hair to her head and has the sleeves of her shirt clinging to her skin. She takes a deep breath of the open air, then again, and again. "Been too damn log," she growls to herself, grimacing as she spies the Outside ships. Arms drop to her sides, and she moves towards... well, she was /starting/ to move towards Mena, but then seemed to remember herself and stopped, clasping hands at the small of her back as her gaze slants towards wherever the Admiral is.


Caspian has been quiet, keeping near the other knights on the voyage with a subdued expression and solemn look about him. His eyes remain on the water, on the barrier he's seen only twice in his life, and stay there.


The Knights do tend to cluster around the Empress. That is what they are here for.


Armed and armored as he had been before.. mere days ago at the Battle of Erreador, (save that a fresh midnight blue cloak has been donned) Hasdrubal walks along the Great Galley's shield-lined railing, stepping toward where the Empress' party stands. "Your Majesty want to let them move into the middle first, or shall we step forward, he wonders wryly of Mena.


Mena's gaze moves off of the ships toward the Admiral as he asks the questions. "We have something they wish from us, now, so I imagine they should come forward first," she replies, though there is some uncertainty in her gaze toward Hasdrubal. "At least, in my opinion. This is my first negotiation. Would you agree with that, Admiral?"


"Ealdorman! The Gates are here.." The lookout aboard Aethelred's vessel calls to the commander of the Avannese Squadron. Armored in leather byrnie, and conical steel helm, augmented by a stout nasal (with long brown hair spilling out the back), the man of Avanna shoulders his four foot axe, and turns a brief look to the Crimson Tear alongside. "Take us forward, into hailing range," he instructs his pilot. Brown eyes return to the ghostly ships of Gateway before him. "Senfel watch over us," the solider murmers, making a sign against evil.


Raven straightens some as Aethelred looks her way, she gives a salute, before leaning her shoulder again, turning her black eyes towards the Gateway ships silently. If there are any orders given, they are given silently, with very little movement to indicate anything but laying in wait on the main deck.


Red moves forward, slowly, towards the railing. She takes up a place there, several feet down from where the Admiral, Mena and her knights are. That way she's near if need be, but not in the way. She studies the ships, murmuring under her breath as she takes in the details.


Caspian stands at attention, looking towards the grand and unfamiliar ships opposite them though soon allowing his eyes to drift to Hasdrubal as he speaks to the Empress. His eyes turn between the two of them, but he otherwise keeps still upon the rocking ship.


"Oh aye," Hasdrubal rasps lazily to Mena's inquiry. "Show the bleeders no sign of trust, until they tip thier hand first," the bastard-admiral advises flatly, black regard narrowed on the ships which had so recently been his enemies. "One of thiers is stirring, he observes cold and level in tone, drawing a slow breath of the misty sea air.


Aethelred returns Raven's salute in the Avannese manner- a closed fist thumped to the chest, as the Avannese Ship-sloop with it's three elegant masts drifts forward slowly into the mist and waves between the two gathered fleets.


Mena nods to Hasdrubal. "Then let it be so," she decides. "We have nothing to lose in this. Will they board us for the negotiations, then?"


Raven doesn't move, and all seems quiet and generally boring aboard her ship for the time being. Arms cross as she reguards the Avanna and Gatewayian ships both. Once Mena and Hasdrubal come more into view, she does bow to the former and salute to the latter. She returns to her previous position moments after, however.


Red leans forward on the railing, resting her elbows upon it as she listens to the Admiral and Empress speaking, attention never waivering from the on-coming ships. Her brows draw together, and she clasps her hands together before her.


"Not if a body has any say, they won't. And since I have precisely that say, the bleeders can toss lines, and holler up if they like." Hasdrubalr eplies to Mena, adding a moment later, "Of course it's pure coincidence that the bastards will need crane thier necks gazing up at us.." A cool sneer touches the admiral's lips with those last dryly amused words. A rasp aside to his first mate, "Take us forward, one tenth time." At Raven's half spied salute, the admiral lazily hips his helmeted head to the Tyrean commodore.


Ealdorman Aethelred pauses as the giant ship of Gateway looms out of the mists to the slow beat of a rowing drum, toward his low, swift vessel. A belated order is given to his second: "Send someone to bring His Highness up from his cabin." Hasty steps go below, and voices are raised in speech and reply.


"I suppose it's just about time to set the Emperor up to see and hear everything," Mena says, reaching into a pocket of her skirts and pulling out an item she then sets on the deck next to her. "So, if there's anything you want to say without him hearing, now's your chance," she says, grinning slightly up at Hasdrubal.


Caspian's eyes momentarily drift towards Red, though despite a vague narrowing of his eyes there's little to be noted. He strains to see activty on the other ships, standing tall yet not moving from his space within the five other knights that stand near the Empress. He looks at her soon enough, then at the item she's retrieved with some curiosity.


"Right then, before His Majesty can hear, a body does'nt plan on murdering every one of those bleeders, today-" Hasdrubal rasps under his breath, with a toss of his helmeted head toward the oncoming Avannese ship. "Just don't let him know." With a half snort, and silent chuckle, he turns a hungry gaze over the opposing ships.


"Houl!" is called out from the lead Avannese ship, as the two vessels draw within hailing distance, in the center of the two floating formations. Aethelred walks to the prow of his ship, and unshoulders his axe, to hand the weapon off the a nearby crewman. Further back on the Ship-sloop, a thin man of middling years climbs onto thge top deck, richly attired, his dark brown hair touched at the temples with streaks of grey.


With a chuckle of her own at Hasdrubal's words, Mena fiddles with the item next to her on the deck just a moment before an image of the Emperor appears.


One corner of Red's lips quirk upwards, and she bows her head for a moment. She glances towards the group, flashing a toothy grin before she turns her attention out to the approaching Avannese vessel. She breathes in deeply through her nose, eyes bright as she continues to do the most interesting part of it all... she watches!


The shimmering form of Rourke seems to be speaking to someone else when the image appears. His voice is solid, even if the image is not. "...he's still not having a threesome with me and my wife. Bloody Abyss."


Mena's eyes widen a bit at the first words coming from the Emperor's projection. She stands fully at the side of the image and clears her throat. Loudly.


"Bloody wonderful. The lad is cursing like a body, now," Hasdrubal rasps under his breath, dryly.


From below, and before, a tenor voice calls out, "I am Lord Ecbyrt Avanna, come here on behalf of my brother, His Majesty King Andreus!" The thin man in his rich mantled cloak of velvet calls up to the Great Galley. Clean shaven, save for a chin beard, the King's brother stands in the Ship-sloop's prow, a half step in from of Aethelred.


And... Red's attention snaps immediately to the Projection, both brows going straight up. She bites down on her lower lip, trying really hard not to make any more sounds. She bows her head again, closing her eyes. Oh. Wait. A prince. Another one. Red looks up again, Rourke's swearing forgotten as she sombers, leaning a bit furthe rout over the railing to look down at the King's brother.


The image of the emperor pauses, seems to waver a moment and place a hand before its eyes, and Rourke's ghostly chest rises and falls in a few slow breaths. He gives a nod and a quiet, seething comment of, "We have to talk about how this works," to someone aside before straightening and clasping his hands behind his back. He glances about and takes a swift inventory of placement, steeling himself. Abruptly, a bit of a smirk etches at his features, and he calls loudly, "Hail and well met, Lord of Avanna, here to negotiate. You address Rourke Caprios, the Emperor of Gateway. We bid you and yours welcome."


Rourke's simalcrum glances for an instant to the side and whispers, "Will you please just be quiet?"


Mena stands tall (or as tall as she gets) next to the image of the Emperor, her gaze upon the foreigners coming to negotiate. Her expression gives away nothing, a very practiced neutrality there. Until she hears Rourke's whisper. "Just ignore him," she murmurs out of the side of her mouth.


Lord Ecbyrt calls back in a polished tone, "Should the decorum of this meeting keep pace with the courtesy of your Majesty's greeting, Avanna will be well pleased." Scarlet cloak bright amidst the brown and off white of the sailors about him, the King's brother looks briefly over the other notable persons on the deck of the galley. "I presume Gateway is prepared to make amends, and accept pardon?"


Red pushes up straight, clasping her hands at the small of her back, chin lifting as she looks down at the Avannese gentleman. Her smile turns polite, an overall rather droll sort of expression. She turns, taking a few steps closer towards Mena, the Projection, and the knights. Gaze darts towards Hasdrubal before turning back down to the Lord. Her brows draw together for a moment before her features smooth clear once more.


Mena's eyebrows shoot up at the Prince's words, her own only loud enough for those around her on the deck to here. "Amends for what? Sons a bitches."


Caspian looks at the Emperor's image, though soon turns his eyes to the unfamiliar Lord. Like the rest of the knights, he keeps at attention, vigilant, though betraying a bit of emotion as the man speaks. Brows slightly dip and furrow, but he speaks not though he does hear the Empress.


Rourke's vision turns its head slightly, ear going toward the Avannese as if he is going over the words in his mind. Then, he smiles. "Gateway would desire to be on good terms with all, Milord, and thus here we are. We would like to hear in precise measure the crimes and evidence against our Admiral, that would justify your action to take them captive."


Hasdrubal's lip curls in a lazy sneer, though behind the visor and slot od his ferocious helm, little of the expression can be seen. "Never let them see you riled, woman," he rumbles under his breath to Mena, without looking aside at the Empress.


Red takes a few steps closer to Mena, pass the knights if they permit such, so that she stands on Mena's opposite side from the image of the Emperor, and just one step back. One hand lifts to lightly touch her best friend's arm with just her fingertips, though her attention remains down on the Avannese.


Mena does glance at Hasdrubal briefly, giving a slight nod to the man before refocusing on the opening of the negotiations. "I'm fine," she assures to Red, keeping her gaze on the Avanna contingent. And so she is, that practiced neutrality restored.


"The crimes are the sabotage of our Armada's military harbor, in preparation for a full scale iunvasion, and annexation of Avanna's sovereign lands, Emporer," Lord Ecbyrt recites crisply. "In evidence, our Thanes still hold two of his captured men, who have confessed to being party to this sinister plot, and who were taken with a letter by the hand and seal of your Admiral detailing such conspiracies. My brother the king will accept your Majesty's word that this plot was hatched without your knowledge, along with the promised ransom in pardon for any crimes your subjects committed within our land and waters. The death of your Admiral serves as payment for his own crimes."


"He got better," Mena under her breath, her lips quirking only slightly.


Rourke's image blinks a few times, his lips caught between his teeth before he clears his throat. "Good Lord Ecbryt, it appears that Avanna and Gateway are both the victims in this circumstance!" he calls across the water, concern rising in his voice. "Someone has been playing with us both, and has fradulently set up some story of conspiracy, that we may be at odds with each other. We are sorry that such machinations have befallen both of us!"


Blink... blink... "Did he just say," Red breathes the words, hands clasping together at the small of her back. She smiles faintly, the same polite expression from before. She /does/ stay at Mena's side, however. At hearing Mena's words, Red quirks a sudden grin. "Only dead upon occassion," she returns to her friend in a scant whisper, lips barely even moving with the words.


Hasdrubal cants his helmed head to a lazy angle, a low rasped "Hrh," rumbled under his breath at the last of the Avannese lord's words.


Caspian says utterly nothing, having only begrudgingly moved just slightly when red moved pass the barrier of knights. He keeps his eyes on the Emperor and then out over at the other ships every now and again, listening without interruption.


A quizzical narrowing of dark brown eyes touches Ecbyrt's expression at Rourke's reply. "My brother the king was rather soundly convinced not only by this evidence, but by the alacrity with which your Duke Demonshire sought to avoid trial of Gateway's captives for thier part in said crimes.."


Mena looks toward the image of the Emperor, her voice again only carrying to those close by. "You should ask to see these letters, to see the proof yourself. They don't exist, so how can they produce them? That is... as long as they don't exist," she adds, looking over to the Admiral. "They don't exist, right?"


Red clears her throat, pressing her lips to a thin line as she stares down at the ship. She finally glances towards Hasdrubal, then back down at the other ship again. "The Admiral can't write," she whispers at last, voice still low enough that only the others can hear her. She wets her lips, glancing sideways at Mena and then Hasdrubal. "Sorry..." she murmurs before she shifts from foot to foot, features flushing faintly. "When did we get a Duke Demonshire?" she adds on a low breath.


"They probably exist as forgeries, Mena, as they've found men that they will claim conceded. But that's fine, Mena," Rourke's ghostly form murmurs to his wife before he clears his throat and resumes speech, in a bit more impassioned form than the Emperor normally adopts. "Your great King Andreus is doubless wise and discerning, and the evidence presented is solid, but any in our Empire know that our Admiral rose to his position not by birth and education, but by skill. In short, Lord Ecbyrt, he cannot read, nor write. Some foul entity has set to put us against each other and at oods! We would exhort you to bring forth this letter, that we may all study it and find who would dare to try to deceive both of our great nations, and set us as enemies, when we desire naught but friendship and peace!"


How did everyone know this except her? Mena blinks a bit. "Oh. Well, then they really don't exist. Sorry for doubting you, Admiral," she says toward Hasdrubal. "This reeks of Tyr involvement and their personal vendetta."


If nothing else, Hasdrubal can mind his own advice, as the Admiral does not comment, nor look aside to Red as the little tart from Crucible goes and blathers that little fact to the royals.. who promptly announce it to three nations.


Ayup. She's dead. Dead. Dead. Worse than dead. Red shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot, lips pressing to a thin line. Granted, it's his Majesty who voiced it to everyone else... Hell. "Think we can find any nice sharkmen to kill me on the way back home...?" she asks in a mumble.


Disbelief is plain on Ecbyrt's face at the answer of Rourke's image. It is enough that the Avannese Lord does not immediately answer, gazing up at the Keeper's image as though trying to read a lie upon the spectre's face. A moment later, he voices once more in his polished tenor, "The letter shall be made available for inspection, your Majesty. In the meantime.. as a gesture of good faith, and proof of your friendly words, I would seek the return of Avanna's captured sons and ships."


"Three hundred and seven platinum," Mena murmurs with a pleasant smile. Perhaps she's having her own negotiations in her mind.


Red glances sideways towards the image of the Emperor, then to the Admiral's form, studying it silently before she looks back down to Ecbyrt.


There's something very near a sigh from the Emperor, a narrow-eyed and thoughtful glance given to Tyr's sails and the Avannese vessels. "We do hold naught but good faith and good will with you and your king, Lord Ecbyrt, and we wish to pursue justice and good relations with you. There are losses on both sides from this falsehood that has been forced upon us, and we share in your pain at the loss of good and loyal subjects. Of course we shall return your men to you, and forget all discussion of debt between us in this matter. We both owe something to whomever caused this crime." Sure and somewhat angered come his words, righteous anger to be certain, before a note of apology creeps in. "The vessels, however, are rather damaged at the moment. We did not know of this wicked plot, and the Engineers of Draught have begun dismantling the vessels, to understand their sure construction. Do you wish a skeleton crew to remain with us as guests, until these ships are repaired?"


Mena's head turns to just stare at the image of the Keeper for a long moment, eyebrows drawing together slowly. "It is a very good thing for these people that you are the Emperor, and not I. But I suppose you are right. It sounds as if they have been quite duped by someone." Her dark green eyes turn toward the Tyrian vessels, watching them for a moment.


Rourke's doppleganger says quietly, "We do not know who has set this against us, Mena. There are obvious targets, but they are not necessarily correct. And," his smile returns, faint, "this is not over yet."


Hasdrubal rasps behind the cover of his helm, "You're giving away for a flower's smile what were won with blood, lad. A body surely expects this isnt over," he adds, having heard Rourke's last low words.


Ecbyrt's answer is delayed only long enough to exchange quiet words with Aethelred who steps forward and offers unheard speech. The Avannese Lord then looks back up the Keeper, and company, to voice, "Avanna will send ships to recover our absent sons, presently. Once our own shipwrights have studied the state of our damaged vessels, discussion may resume as to when they might be made seaworthy."


Red continues to stare straight ahead. Or rather, straight down at the other ship. She shifts from foot to foot, rolling her shoulders as she lifts her chin. She slowly smiles as she listens, head canting slightly to one side.


The Translucent Rourke (tm) is about to speak, but he pauses to glance to the side and whisper fiercely, "Will you leave the damn cat alone? Pity's sake." He glowers before smoothing out his expression. "And will these ships come with the two lying prisoners and this false letter? We strongly desire to get to the bottom of this, Lord Ecbyrt, to find who would perpetrate such a lie. Our mages are very powerful at these Arts, and they will find who wrote this letter, that we may interrogate him and understand his motives fully. They shall surely pay for this, in blood! Our Admiral is quite fortunate to have survived this attempt upon his life, and we look forward to unleashing him upon the guilty parties."


Mena, for the time being, keeps her gaze on the number of Tyrean ships. At least the ones she can see. "As we are sure he looks forward to doing so," she murmurs on the tail of Rourke's words quietly.


Ecbyrt draws a breath to answer, before a curious expression touches his face. One hand is raised to run idly down his chin-beard, as the Lord of Avanna answers, "The letter, and both prisoners are incarcerated withing the dungeon of my brother, the King. The questioning of your magi is welcomed, and they shall have immediate transport back to Erreador, should such be your Majesty's wish-" A fresh breath is drawn as he goes on, "But I must inquire after the Emporer's words- Your Admiral was killed. His body drawn from the sea, and his head placed oupon a pole.. If this was achieved by deciet, Avanna joins you in your promised wrath.. But the man himself is dead?"


Red grows pale as Ecbyrt goes on with the description, and then her eyes narrow sharply as her face flushes darkly. Her chin dips, jaw tightening. She breathes in deeply through her nose, rolling her shoulders back. But otherwise, keeps her trap shut this time.


"I know not whose head you have upon a pole, but it is our great joy that our Admiral has survived, and is here with us. You see why he is so valued by us, his fierceness and his tenacity?" Rourke's ghost waves at Hasdrubal. "But Lord Ecbyrt, you must understand... this wrong was a slap at Our empire, an attempt that saw a number of Our subjects accused of conspiracy and suffering, and an attempt made upon the life of one. While we truly wish to send aid to you at your realm, the security of Gateway is something that we've seen as inviolate. If we have given good faith with you, then good faith should be returned, and your evidence and prisoners brought here, to us."


Caspian keeps his ears open while continuing to do his solemn his quiet duty of standing guard, expression stoic.


Mena's gaze shifts back to the Emperor's projection, her lips quirking only slightly before her attention returns to the Avannese.


"Hrh," Hasdrubal rumbles, head still carried at a lazy angle as he gazes down through the helm's eyes at the Avannese below.


"You Majesty is not unreasonable," Lord Ecbyrt returns, with a dip of his chin. "Once the return of Avanna's sons- as we have discussed, is complete, and arrangements made for the handling of our captured ships, the very same vessels which deliver our absent Avannese home shall stand ready to deliver these conspirators, and the letter to your Royal self."


Beside the Lord, Aethelred follows ghost-Rourke's motion toward the man in Hasdrubal's armor with idle interest.


Red dips her chin a little bit more, staring down at the railing now as she shifts from foot to foot. Gaze flickers back to the brother of Avanna's king.


"If it's the same letter," Mena mutters suspiciously. "Maybe they're working together with someone." Her expression doesn't shift from anything less than polite, though.


"Admiral," Rourke says quietly, "Do you know any on that ship? Any that you'd wish to greet? And do not think that this is for smiling flowers, as you put it." He gives a slight nod to Mena and a soft, "I know. But we have to find where the source is."


"Aye. One or two, a body knows by sight," Hasdrubal rasps, lip curled in a sneer. "You wanting to send them back with nightmares, are you?" is wondered, half in jest with a snort, as his left hand is raised to loose the strap binging his helm's cheekplates closed.


The moment is one for both sides to confer quietly, as Aethelred and Ecbyrt exchange quiet words of thier own, on the deck of the Ship-sloop below.


Red glances again towards the Admiral as he loosens the strap under his chin, attention focussed on him now rather than the other ship now.


"I don't mind them being concerned about our mages, our immortal admiral, and the like," Rourke answers softly.


Mena shifts on her feet slightly, a weary look coming over her slowly before she catches it and gives a quick shake to her head. "Did anyone find out anything about this sleeping problem?" she asks of Rourke as the Admiral plays scary man to the Avannese.


Red clears her throat as she looks away. "It's not magical," she supplies, voice still pitched low. "That's all I've been able to figure so far..." She glances towards the image of the Keeper then down to the conversing men on the other vessle.


Rourke shakes his head. "Not as of yet, beyond a few people looking into it." His form smiles over at Red. "And yes, we've eliminated magic, thoroughly. Except for Aileana's spores theory... a few good alchemists are working on finding the exact nature, and an antidote."


Hasdrubal snorts once, and raises his left hand to close over the snarling helm's visor, figers gripping the steel and drawing it unhurried, off his head. Holding the steel article toward Red to hold, he steps to the edge of the shield lined rail and cants his head to an uneven angle, as black eyes gaze down at the foreigners. Expression flat, he raises his deep, and rough voice to address, "You there. Aethelred. A body warned you what would happen."


"Now, now, Admiral," Mena chides lightly, without really meaning it. "We're not setting anyone aflame today."


"I have a few ideas," Red murmurs. "I think it might be..." she trails off as she hears the Admiral's words. Her lips curve upwards, and she can't quite hide the smile. She does dip her head again, however, letting her hair fall forward over her features.


Aethelred looks up with an even expression as he is addressed, Ecbyrt following suit, with mild annoyance as someone diverts his counselor's attention. The Ealdorman eyes the 'admiral' as the other speaks. Quietly Aethelred adds a few words to Ecbyrt, without sending any to Hasdrubal just yet.


Rourke's cheeks hollow at Mena's quiet reprimand. His grave words might carry with some volume. "That is Ealdorman Aethelred, the one that our Duke of Mists was scrying upon and had parley with, that negotiated with faithlessness in perpetuating the illusion that you were prisoners yet?" A pause is followed by the grave, "And they actually brought him here to negotiations?"


"Your Majesty," Ecbyrt voices in the pitch and polish that are 'supposed' to carry across the water (cough), "If we are in accord upon the subject of our captive sailors and Thanes, and thier present return, I think this meeting may be concluded?"


Rourke clears his throat. "Actually, Lord Ecbyrt, there is one brief matter to clear up, considering that our nations are trying to work in good faith with one another. The misconstruing of what was clearly propaganda can be understood, as can the attempt to hold our men, but we do have a bit of a trouble with the price that was named which we should be paying for -free- men. Duke Demonshire spoke on my behalf in solid and good faith, but he was played for a fool in this circumstance. We wish that our dealings may be good, honorable, and noble, but that sort of deceit is something which would make us very concerned about the intentions of your own side. We want to believe you, that this letter and prisoners exist, that you were operating under the web of deceit crafted by another when you attacked our admiral and men, and took them prisoner, but this makes it somewhat difficult, seeing the honor in your other dealings is focused upon the exact word of a situation, and not the obvious intentions of it."


Red's brows come together as she listens to Rourke speaking. Then leans slightly closer to Mena. "/Who/ is 'Duke Demonshire'?" she whispers to her friend. "I didn't know we /had/ one of those... and please don't ask me to make it up on my own, or I'm going to be in even /more/ trouble for doing such..."


"Devonshire," Mena answers Red. "Duke Regent Raziel Devonshire."


"Oh..." Red straightens again. Then her shoulders shake as she bites down a chuckle. "Since his Majesty called him that, do I get to as well?" she murmurs back.


Ecbyrt's expression cools at Rourke's sharp words (however delicately polished thier veneer), and the Lord replies without slipped temper, "What the Keeper must understand of the tradition of ransom, that I respectfully think you do not, is that payment of ransom is considered as compensation for wrongdoing against another nation. There was no faithlessness on the good Ealdorman's part, as until this very discussion, he, I, and all of Avanna had entertained no real belief that Gateway were innocent of these crimes. Your Duke Demonshire's negociations were rightly, and properly considered an effort to set all accusations to rest."


Caspian continues to listen quietly and at attention, though every now and then his eyes seem to vaguely lose their focus as he stares ahead.


Rourke considers the Lord for long moments. "Your traditions are not ours, as ours are not yours, Lord Ecbyrt," he calls in the whole speaking voice thing. "Perhaps this is something that must be overcome, for trust to be built." You know, trust with people who have dukes called Demonshire and immortal admirals, and emperor's negotiating in illusory form. "Very well, the men will be here in a couple of days. The ships you may examine and discuss the rebuilding of when you bring you egineers, an ambassador, and the evidence to us, that we may all find the true culprit in this."


Mena's head lowers, a hand lifting to her features. She tries not to make it too obvious that she's stifling a yawn.


Ecbyrt replies with only the time needed to draw a good breath in delay. "with respects to your Majesty, and my regrets if I have misspoken, the events I had desired to see were that perhaps two of our ships might accompany your vessel back to recieve our captive sons presently. The ships of course, we would wish to inspect before setting any time for thier recovery, and the gesture of good faith on Gateway's part in restoring our taken men would be returned with the requested Ambassador, the unworthy prisoners, and the letter itself."


Rourke's grumbling sigh is audible. "If you recall the trip that your Ambassador Mathilda made, we do not allow ships of visitors draw near to Gateway Isle without inspection at the Isle of Guardian, and even then we only allow a small number upon Gateway. It will be best served for all that your vessels remain at Guardian, and your men can be brought to you there."


"To your Guardian Isle, then, it is agreed," Ecbyrt answers, turning his brown regard aside to Aethelred and offering quiet words of instruction. The Aeldorman bows shortly, and turns to step toward the midship. Ecbyrt turns back to the Great Galley, and voices further, "While such is underway, word shall be taken back to my brother, the King, of this meeting, and the collection of all you have asked will be gathered."


Caspian's eyes draw to Mena, then to the Emperor's projection, and finally to the Admiral before he looks ahead again, straightening a little.


"Welcome to the Empire of Gateway then, Lord Ecbyrt. Admiral Hasdrubal will give your people instructions on how to sail the currents." Rourke smiles pleasantly before his voice lowers, to those nearby. "I will speed you all home. Their ships will not have such swiftness in the currents, of course. Admiral, you dealt with them. Is this farce their making, or Tyr's, or someone else's, as we discussed the possibility of yesterday?"


"Thiers, Tyr's, Someone else'ss.." Hasdrubal rasps lowly. "You talk as if the answer is only one of those, lad. They's treacherous, lying bleeders, the lot of them, only waiting for the sight of some place fitting to stick thier curved knives. Mayhap this is thier doing, and mayhap it's more as well." A fresh breath, before Hasdrubal adds, with a sneer, "Pardon a nonce. A body has foreigners to holler at." With that, he turns back toward the railing, and rasps out instructions for the Avannese.


Mena steps back away from the railing as the negotiations conclude, back enough to she finally can yawn widely, a hand lifting to cover it as much as possible.


Red keeps her hands clasped at the small of her back. She glances towards Mena as she backs away. She gives her friend a warm smile before her full attention turns towards the Admiral. And awaits orders. And hopes none of said orders is 'jump overboard and drown' sort of thing.


"Yell away," Rourke tells the Admiral, his vision reaching a hand to rub at his head. "And I think that this is done. It's not an entirely pleasant experience. To those present, my gratitude." And with that, the projection winks out.


Mena lets out a rush of breath when done yawning, then steps up to the item left when the projection disappears. "Well, it wasn't as fiery as I hoped it would be. But I am ready to go home."


Caspian gives a salute to the projection before it's utterly gone, a thing out of habit. Saluting to the Emperor, that is. Not saluting to projections. Anyway. His hand lowers down to his side again.

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