506-11-17 The Whole World Blind
|The Whole World Blind|
|RL Date||February 19. 2009|
|Players||Arcadius Athelstan, Aaric Barca, Leon Barca, Linette Barca, Addison Brandivere, Philomena Caprios Niamh Cavanagh, Guidhael Fiedach, Marissa Grenwold, Cael Kilgannon, Kratos, Mildryth Lachlan, Shayne Locksley, Niome Morien, Ygraine of House Artos|
|Location||Market Square, Gwencalon, Isle of Guardians|
|Crossroads Time and Weather|
|IC Date||November 17, 506|
Market Square - Gwencalon - Isle of Guardians
- The castle above looms high over a public market square pressed flush against the cliffisde. The road from the quays leads through here and, likewise, the three winding avenues that wend their way up the sloping city. The square itself is no square but a fat oval, bordered on one side by the cliffs and on the other by the high, curved walls of the Merchants' Guildhouse.
- A wooden platform, some eight feet wide and ten feet long stands permanently near the uphill end of the 'square', rising some three and a half feet above the ground and accessed by a quartet of steps on one end. Today, it bears the signs of public justice to be done: red and black banners snap in the chill breeze from poles at each corner, their lions rampant, their swords and crowns fluid in motion. An execution block of hard, scarred wood stands near one end of the platform, a low basket below it. Otherwise, the platform is bare.
- A shield wall of legionnaires rings the platform, leaving some six feet of empty spance between it and the gathered populace. The soldiers bear tall, rectangular shields and stand them, interlocked, against the crowd. More soldiers still ring the square itself, and others are stationed along the avenues stretching from this place, with archers visible on the roof of the Guildhouse and other surrounding buildings. Sixteen knights, too, are present, scattered about the square for the security of the Empress.
Kratos is alone when he comes to the execution, regardless of how he intended. He's even dressed in clothes that don't look so obviously tribal, and he has cleaned up so that he can be one of the masses heading in. The sword at his hip is peace-knotted, his bow unslung, and a utility dagger in one boot. The long thin blade at the small of his back is strapped with the hilt beneath his neck, hopefully unseen.
Amongst the masses of course the raven haired Mildryth. She is stripped of all weaponry, her arms folded against her chest. A casual glance is given over the faces of whom she can at least see, but otherwise her attention seems trained on the execution platform, lost in thought.
Deep against the back of the crowd, Guidhael is looking for his older sister. Not catching sight of her for now, the one eye turns back to the execution sight and his arms fold over each other as he watches the proceedings unfold.
Kratos grimaces at the crowds that gather, but he does not let his obvious distaste show for this place of stink and filth, teeming throngs. He grimaces at one of those he ducks around as he glances about. A spot hear the platform is selected, and there he crosses his arms over his chest as if he were an ancient tree planted upon that spot.
Mildryth gives another glance around, but a slow, casual calculation of the masses, and possibly to spot any faces she may recognize. The barest of nods is offered once or twice, but her expression is steeled for the impending execution, her attention shifting again to the platform.
Away from the press of the crowds, the Empress's arrival to some guarded place that was set aside for her viewing of the execution. Four knights arrive with her in a tightly-knit square around the woman, and will remain around her for the duration.
Kratos' smile shows for a moment whiel looking through the crowd. It is tempered when the Empress and knights arrive. He surveys the display of imperial power with a shuttered expression.
There is perhaps amusement, or is that a smile? That touches Mildryth's expression, but it easily shifts back to cold and hard in preperation for the execution. It darkens when the Empress arrives.
Tiege moves beside Linette, clearly functioning as an escort to her as the Baroness Barca crosses to a station of respect near the execution platform. A spot with a good and close view.
It is actually on one of the second stories of one of the inns on the square, upon a balcony inaccessible from the square itself that the Empress is settled among her four knights. Removed from the crowd for safety, but still visibly present at the event.
Linette is indeed sitting in the front row of the makeshift stands, in the area reserved for the Duke and other dignitaries, with her cousin-by-marriage Tiege at her side and one of the Caerdach guards standing behind her, as always. She is wrapped in a heavy woolen cloak against the chill, and her usually open and mercurial face is set in a tight, somber expression. She leans in to speak quietly to Tiege, her voice low and serious.
Tiege gives a slow dip of his head at the words from Linette, glancing about those that gather in the square before he fixes his gaze on the platform. He answers her in a similar whisper.
Mildryth is somewhere around the execution platform in the masses, arms folded against her chest as she waits patiently. Or impatiently as it were, as the moments tick by, her expression grows darker.
Slouched in an aisle-side spot in the back row of one of the stands, a pensively frowning Ygraine has the fingers of one hand curled tightly into the collar of her warhound. For his part, the scarred old creature has settled down for a nap, apparently oblivious to his mistres's worries just as much as he is to the serious nature of what's to take place here today.
Marissa makes her way into the market square, the woman holding a backpack over one shoulder as she comes in. She also has a dagger at her belt, but other than that, no weapons are visible. Looking around at all the people, she makes her way to a place where she can have a good view of the proceedings.
There is definitely a press to be close to that shield wall of legionnaires at the platform. People urge forward, emotion high as they dispel space between one another to be near the line.
Upon the balcony nearby to the platform, the Empress can be seen murmuring a short conversation with one of the four knights there on the balcony with her.
The Duke of Guardians appears on the high balcony that seats the Empress with his bride-to-be, one Mistress Shayne Locksley, on his arm. In contrast to the hollaring, excited crowd, the black-clad Barca cuts a stoic figure as he enters with all the severity of one attending a funeral. Which is he is, if prematurely. Polite greetings with words indiscernable are given to the Empress, accompanied by a courteous bow of the head.
As the ducal presence is noted, the bows run through the crowd, figures folding to honor his arrival upon the balcony.
Mildryth bows her head and bows at the waist, but perhaps not as deeply as the rest. Which is typical for her. Nothing out of the ordinary here, move along.
Tiege is actually NOT with Linette, their conversation ending quietly as the Barca Baroness relocates to the balcony. The Soranus acolyte remains at the front and center, the spot he has claimed that he may be visible from those on the platform.
Marissa curtsies as the nobility and royalty appear on the balcony. The tall, thick woman is not part of the rowdy crowd below. Her face is stoic, her demeanor serious. She is holding a man's stocking cap in her hands, which she clenches tightly.
Guidhael offers a polite bow as he stands back up, arms folding loosely against his chest as he waits for the proceedings to continue as he takes another look around the crowd, and a glance towards Marissa at the very back of the party.
As the ducal figures arrive upon the balcony with the Empress, Mena's gaze turns in that direction, her head inclining slowly in greeting to the pair. She says nothing in greeting on this heavy occasion, keeping her silence as she goes back to watching the crowd gathering.
Ygraine settles for leaning over to ruffle Scolan's ears with her free hand, while others make obeisance - though she's not entirely alone in being rather lax about showing respect, right up at the back of the stands, with no one behind to pass judgement on degrees of adherence to etiquette.
Shayne is as composed as her betrothed, her back straight, her posture elegantly detached from the spectacle about to occur. As the pair reaches the balcony, she sinks into a polished curtsey to the empress, only turning to look out over the crowd once she rises.
Linette leans in to give a gentle touch to Tiege's arm, her eyes shadowed with sympathy at whatever quiet words he's spoken to her. The Duke's arrival draws her attention up,though, and she catches her brother's eye before looking back down to Tiege. "I'm sorry. I should go up there now." She rests her hand on her cousin's arm for one more moment, and then pulls away, rising from her spot and - trailed by her guard, as always - moves through the crowd towards the balcony. She emerges a short while later, giving a deep, respectful bow to the Empress and Duke - for he is the Duke right now, even if he is also her brother - as she goes to take her seat.
Mildryth rises and settles in her spot, her arms crossed over her chest, watching avidly the goings on of people and the movement of the higher ups. Her gaze shifts in the crowd, a slight movement of her head, and her attention shifts again. Maybe her people/crowd anxiety is starting to show- but even so, her expression remains solemn and dark.
When Linette emerges on the balcony, there's a taller figure treading behind her -- a man in a centurion's uniform, the young Baron Caerdach. He makes a salute to the Empress and Duke and, his hand goes thence to rest on the Baroness's shoulder as he stands firm behind her.
Somewhere in this crowd of nobles and warriors, Legionnaires and smiths might be found that rarest of breeds (some days): one of the commonfolk of the land. Though, to be certain, if Niamh warrants the title common then it's an especially broad definition. Leather props against her clad forearm, the brace necessary for the volume she diligently scribes her thoughts within. Parchment and ink are her weapons for the day, rapier wit sheathed in observation of a far more dire topic du jour. Not much leaves her standing out other than a pair of her fellow crew, one of them diligently sketching small impressions, the other whispering into her ear.
Addison slips onto that high balcony as well, a pause for formalities to the Empress, Duke, and any other higher ranking nobles before she steps out enough that she's able to see the crowd below. The usual light and cheerful expression is replaced by one more solemn and appropriate for the occasion, though as ever there's an air of curiosity to her.
Tiege aims a bow at Linette's departure and murmurs a farewell before he faces forward again. His fingers lace together and his hands press to his stomach. Those nearby might note his lips moving faintly, words proffered to the deity rather than those ears close.
The Empress does greet each person to come onto the balcony to view the execution in a more protected venue, tipping her head to each one with a neutral expression remaining upon her features.
For all those who join the crowd in the square to watch the afternoon's excitement, who press in anticipation of blood, there are those, too, who stand firm against them: a wall of legionnaires surrounds the platform. One man stands alone on it, a broad-chested, muscled figure who bears a heavy, two-handed sword. Arms folded, he waits.
But he needn't wait too long: the tramping of feet follows down the winding avenue that leads to this place from the hillsides above. Soon, the source comes into view: ten legionnaires, square, march down the road. In the midst of them shuffles he who was the Lord Copper Run. He's a paler man than he was a fortnight past, but his head's held high all the same as he stumps toward the platform.
Some may sit, but not all, and as the prisoner comes in there are even fewer in the category of sitting. Those on their feet are pressure upon that unmoving line of legionnaires.
Linette doesn't even need to look, when that hand lands on her shoulder. Her own hand rises to fold over her husband's, and the smallest of reassured smiles tugs her mouth out of its somber line for a moment. But that is short-lived, for the marching of booted feet sounds through the square, heralding the arrival of the man who is about to die. Linette stays standing, along with the rest of the nobles on the balcony, her hand tightening and her shoulders tensing to pull her up straighter.
To the East side of the platform, Kratos plants an elbow strategically in the ribs of one person and slinks sideways between another pair to be nearer the line. His eyes fix on Arcadius with virulent hatred. It is not a rare expression, but rather one found mirrored in many other eyes.
Mildryth glances once to Kratos as he starts moving, but her attention snaps to Arcadius as he comes into view. She growls low, and starts moving towards the front of the line as well, squeezing and nudging through as necessary.
So many eyes with that hatred as Arcadius makes his appearance amid the marching legionnaires, but the Empress's expression remains neutral upon that balcony as the condemned makes his last steps within this mortal coil. Her gaze does follow him rather intently though, from the first moment of catching sight of him.
The knights in the area are on high alert, and watching the crowd rather than the prisoner.
Tiege's lips suck between his teeth as the prisoner is brought forth. He watches the man he has known as friend, the man he has seen on a pedestal and off. His face is tight, eyes easily readable to see the mingling of sorrow, certainty, and support. He tries to stand on tiptoes, the white-robed figure among the others at the front, that he may be seen as much as he can see.
The Duke, for his part, watches stoically from his vantage on the balcony. Indeed, Aaric's features might as well be carved out of the mountain that Arcadius Athelstan leveled. From him, for now, absolute silence.
Linette does not have as much of that stoic control as her brother - her eyes narrow as she looks down at Arcadius. But the venom in others' gazes is muted in hers - she looks upon the condemned man with disbelief more than anything else, as if she were still not fully able to comprehend the betrayal he has committed. But she doesn't look away, and she doesn't waver from where she stands.
There are many who look disfavorably on Arcadius as he's delivered toward the platform, and many of these make their dislike known with the traditional signs: rotten fruit. It hits the shields of the legionnaires more than the prisoner himself, and what does assault him does not seem to phase him.
He stares straight ahead. His steps are heavy as he mounts the platform, the legionnaires preceding and following him but stepping back to form ranks as he, in turn, steps forward.
Niamh's pen moves in a rapid and steady flow across the parchment she's brought in sufficient abundance to make record-keeping no trouble at all. Her chestnut head stays bowed only for a few seconds to check the work of her companion's drawing, catching a good likeness of Arcadius from the distance and press of people. The crowd at her back pressing in to that corner she's found for herself, she moves along a little to get a clearer view.
Guidhael remains quiet, pulling his arms up with a smaller frown than most. A glance is spared towards Mildryth and quickly moved back to the condemned.
A twin to Aaric, Shayne stands still and expressionless, the deep crimson of her gown a stark contrast to the duke's sable, and a reminder of what's to come. Where some eyes hold hate, hers are more detached, if not quite like the duke's. She watches the crowd from her vantage point above, watching for patterns, for the mood.
Ygraine sighs heavily, head tilting back as she raises her gaze to the sky. Her eyes close for a moment, then she rather wearily focuses once more upon the messily hostile crowd and the doomed man serving as the focus for their ire.
Its perhaps a good thing Mildryth is weaponless with the glares of death she's giving Arcadius. She finds a spot and remains planted against the Legions however, not making an attempt to push past or anything else stupid... for the moment.
Marissa stands still, her hands clenching that man's stocking cap. If one were to look closely, one would see that the cap is covered in coal dust and dirt. Her expression remains stoic, her body language tense, as she waits for justice.
Tiege is a stranger in a strange land, the acolyte standing amidst the emotionally charged population of Guardian, trying to just edge his gaze over the crowd of strong figures of the isle. He tightens the linking of his hands as he yet tries to stretch to his greatest height to be seen, there at the front of the crowd.
Cael is standing on the balcony - with the Duke and duchess-consort of Guardian, the Empress and ward. His face is a bit drawn, but stalwart - a strict military face, for anyone that's seen it. Dressed in his finery and standing up at a sort of military attention, his hands behind him. From now and then his eyes turn to his left and back, as if checking on someone or something.
Niome is dressed to one of her many standard designs. She has tucked herself away to the side to have a view of the crowds and platform while standing with what looks to be a guard. The woman remains in her usual state as well, normally quiet.
The slender, pinch-faced herald is a stark on the stage is a stark contrast to the menacing executioner he stands before. In his hands is a scroll which he unfurls as the doomed Arcadius Athelstan is brought forth and presented. Reading from the document, his voice rings out of all proportion to his size and and pierces the howls of fury and taunting laughs.
"Let it be known that Lord Arcadius Athelstan of Copper Run did recklessly and unlawfully construct secret and unsound mines under the mountain of Rayder Pass without regard for the proprietary rights of its lady or the safety of its citizens, bringing down that mountain and ending the lifes of hundreds in that lordship, and most cowardly attempted to hide his involvement thereafter. For all these crimes, he is to suffer death by beheading! So says Duke Aaric Barca of the Isle of Guardian!"
Promptly, the herald turns to regard Arcadius. "Have you any last words to speak?"
Pen poised, Niamh waits for every last word that might trickle out of the condemned lord's mouth. Her pale rainy eyes narrow fractionally and all the humour dries up in the barren desert of her features, waiting with the breathless anticipation of a watcher to history.
Two young men stand behind Baron Cael -- teenage boys, really. The elder wears the legions' uniform and bears no small resemblence to his father; the younger is slighter, and no doubt takes after the mother who is not present. It's to these two that Arcadius's eyes go as the charges are read.
At the herald's query, he draws a slow breath and, after a moment, speaks. His voice rumbles over the shouts and jeers of the crowd. "I'm sorry, boys!" he calls. "I let ya down. An' Millie?" he glances over the crowd in search of that face, "I'm sorry. To you an' your folk."
And that, it seems, is the sum of his words. He gives the herald a nod to signal as much.
Still, there is no change in expression from the Empress as she watches and listens to the charges, and the man's last words. Her gaze does scan the crowd below briefly before her attention returns to that fated platform.
Mildryth is down there, in the crowd, glaring at Arcadius. If only looks could kill. As her name is spoken, pain appears and she looks away to a different face.
At one corner of the courtyard, there are a few shouts, and then a few more. It seems that a wagon parked at a distance has started on fire, the flames growing swiftly.
For the first time, Linette's eyes leave the condemned man - and follow his gaze back over her shoulder, to the corner of the box where those two boys stand. And then for the first time, the steely composure of her face wavers, and she swallows, her eyes softening with sympathy for the boys. And then she turns back, her hand tightening around Leon's even more, her mouth setting itself back in that straight somber line.
Shayne dips her chin to Arcadius when he looks up to the balcony, the barest gesture of respect for his composure in the situation. And for that moment, she looks away from the patterns of the crowd to watch the condemned man speak.
Marissa listens to hear if the man is actually going to say anything worth hearing before his well-deserved death. She glares at the man at his lame apology to Millie, whoever she is. Marissa struggles to keep her mouth shut, but fails. "YOU KILLED MY HUSBAND!" she says, "ROT IN CHAOS!"
If there's approval of Arcadius' last words from Aaric Barca, it's too subtle an emotion to be read from any distance. The black duke's countenance seems as stony as ever as he hears the convicted out. What does catch is attention is that small commotion in the back. As smoke rises, raven eyes narrow upon the sight sharply and only depart as a squad of legionairres move to contain the flames.
Cael turns to look at the two young men. He searches their face, and turns back slightly after murmuring something under his breath to each one of them. He watches their reaction - each shakes his head and Cael squeezes each of their shoulder before turning to look back at Arcadius with his calm face.
As the charges are read, Leon's eyes close for a moment, his lips moving in silent prayer. But he opens them again to hear those words, his expression making every valiant effort to emulate the unchanging nature of others on the balcony. It's a valiant effort but, ultimately, it fails: determined approval wars with compassion beneath that effort.
It is the starting of the fire that draws the Empress's gaze away from the condemned man. The knights around her bristle a bit, ready to sweep that woman right off that balcony if the situation gets out of hand.
Perpetuity will know Arcadius' words, if at least in one woman's version. Niamh continues to write in sharp notations, not looking away from the lord and the crowd. It's hard to distinguish her opinion of matters, for she neither smiles or frowns, but the very personal sorrows pass her by.
The shouts by the wagon are not as easy to hear among a crowd that is already riled, but the abrupt flames and smoke draw their share of attention, and the crowd ebbs away from the fire. Most of it. Some are there trying to put it out, as the wagon is parked next to some barrels and crates.
Tiege is not one of the angry citizens clamouring for blood. He's a single mote of steady silence amidst those voices, and he watches Arcadius with complete absorption.
Addison isn't quite as stony-faced as so many around her; pale gaze straying to those young men addressed by the condemned man and linger there a few moments with a genuine look of concern and sympathy. There's a sigh, soft and lost in the noise of the crowd before she looks away, back to the platform and prisoner and remaining there until the plume of smoke tugs her attention away.
Niome mutters a comment to her guard and clasps her hands a bit tighter. Her gaze ready to avert at a moment's notice and sharing her attention between protector and condemned. She does look to the boys and the crowd at the mention.
Whatever attention the distant fire draws, it hasn't yet distracted the headsman. On the platform, Arcadius -- words spoken, silence resumed, even in the face of those insults and attacks -- shuffles toward the block. His eyes remain straight ahead, now, but the executioner looks up to the balcony for the Duke's signal.
The angry shouts from the crowd rise, and Linette catches that raw, pained cry from the widow in the crowd, whoever she is. Pain flashes in her own eyes, mixed with fierce approval for the woman's anger. And then the commotion near the edge of the crowd catches Linette's attention, and a different kind of concern narrows her eyes. Fire. In a crowd like this, in the heart of Gwencalon. The legion's swift action eases the worry in the young baroness's eyes, but not entirely, even after she turns back towards the platform where the condemned man stands.
Under her breath, Ygraine mutters a few choice words learned from her Fen March father, her own attention turning towards the fire and shouts of urgent distress - before sweeping quickly over the crowd in search of any other problems that might mysteriously be arising.
As the fire attracts some attention, and the preparation of the headsman others, it is then that a small number of people gathered among the crowd strike. The keen speed and fierce brutality of the tribesmen is seen in the way that they punch the shield-line that separates the crowd from Arcadius, four or five slamming into two legionnaires with blades abruptly drawn from concealed locations. A shout goes up from one, echoed by others, a war-cry of revenge to pierce through the air.
Smoke is caught, eternalized, in the sweep of charcoal and the rough outline of a blaze. Niamh thrusts the pen and the paper into her fellow sailor's hands, the fierceness of her pallid gaze enough to convey the significance of guarding those treasures. Then she threads off slightly for an improved perspective, heedless of cries or danger, but that is what she is.
It seems as the attack comes into play, and the war-cries arise, there is another voice that joins- that of Mildryth. Her cry arises in her own sense of revenge and personal agony. As the tribals move forward to slam against the legions, the slender, raven haired frame of Lady Rayder Pass is among them.
Kratos is one of those forcing a wedge into the breach. He savagely stabs a strong, short blade toward the eyesocket of the helm one of the legionnaires wears as his voice raises in a fury to join the other tribesmen. "Rayder! Revenge!" The orchestrated assault is much like his blade, a thin and deadly piercing designed to punch through the armor of the legion vanguard.
Shayne's hand grips hard on Aaric's arm a half-second before the attack begins, growing tighter still as the lines join. Her jaw tenses, and immediately she looks to the rooftops and the legionnaires stationed around the platform. Where she stands, high above, there's not much more she can do.
Disquiet has ruffled Aaric Barca's seemingly unflappable countenance in subtle ways ever since that fire started. A narrowed gaze, a sudden stiffening to his frame. Were the crowd not /quite/ so roaring, those near him might even have heard his square jaw grind ominously.
Philip Aaric Barca was the middle child. The elders were louder, the youngers were sweeter and more endearing. Aaric thrived on two things: a keen mind and a soft-spoken voice. Always the fixer, always the quiet diffuser of trouble and chaos. In later times that hushed tone came to be seen as something -- cold, remote, unfeeling.
But here, as realization dawns in the space of an instant, Aaric Barca finds his father's voice and it BOOMS through the square.
"KILL HIM!" the Barca shouts through open maw. "KILL HIM NOW!"
One would expect the other tribal to join in, but instead as Guidhael grabs a log from a nearby stockpile of firewood, he starts to make his way through the crowd, and in the first tribesman he comes across, comes a hard blow at the back of the head. "Close ranks! Surround tribesmen! Circle them in!"
Like many nearby, Ygraine surges to her feet as chaos breaks out - though she keeps her grip tight upon her warhound's collar, a fierce scowl creasing her brow. "Oh, the fools", she breathes... then darts a glance over her shoulder as if judging the safety of vaulting over the back of the creakily-built stand.
Cael seems to react quickly, his hand going to his belt and his body tilting to angle himself in front of the two young men - keeping himself between them and the square. "LADY LACHLAN!" he shouts, "Stop this madness! Those are Legion men, you cannot undo this treason!"
And the Empress. What does the Empress do when an all out fight breaks out when revenge is called upon the condemned man? Well, that will always be a question. For, when that fighting and chaos does break out below, the knights that surround her shuffle her quickly back inside the building the balcony is built on. Out of view, and out of the line of any fire.
For once, Aaric is the loud one, and Linette the quiet one. The attack starts, and that all-too-familiar figure jumps forward, and all Linette can whisper is, "Oh Providence, Millie, _no_," as her eyes crumple shut.
But that only lasts for an instant - Linette tosses her head sharply back, fixing determination back on her features as she looks to her brother, pride flashing in her eyes for that authoritative shout. And then she looks back over her shoulder. The Empress is safe - good, she notes with a sharp nod. But her husband is watching his fellow legionnaires being attacked. Linette catches Leon's eyes for a steady moment. "Go if you need to," Linette says, her voice low and even. Probably unnecessary - her husband's legion duty is his own, regardless of her request or command. And is there even enough time?
Niome 's eyes widen and she wheels around on her guard. "Get my bag," she barks to the guard before springing down from her roost. Shyness aside, she begins to push through the crowds towards the fight.
Arcadius is lumbering to his knees before the block when the attack begins, and rather than laying his neck on the line he straightens to see what's the cause.
The executioner, too, looks down at the assault in a moment's confusion, a frown appearing. But it's a signal from the Duke he wanted and he gets quite a signal. "On your knees!" he demands of Arcadius, reaching a hand to the man's shoulder to shove him to that position. The former lord has not, it seems, the strength to resist long: one moment, two, three, and he's bent the knee.
As brave as some stalwart Guardians are, most of those most fiercely interested in the fate of Arcadius are fleeing against the current of citizenry as quickly as can be. Especially when the fast and furious fighting between the shield-wall of legionairres and the tribals begins. Who is a tribal and who is a citizen? Garbed as they are it is hard to say, and so the legionairres take their best guess... and both alike fall to spear and sword in the chaotic melee that proceeds.
One of the legionnaires that was guarding the condemned man falls to the ferocity of the tribesmen, and then three are past the line, pushing toward the platform. One stands as cover, well prepared and surrendering everything to the arrows that will fly. Another, Kratos, pushes forward to stop the axeman with a blade already tainted with blood. The third is Lady Mildryth.
Addison's breath is caught at the sudden war-cry and push of violence for the line of legionnaires. She is quick to scramble out of the way of Knights as they shuffle the Empress off to safety, and once they're past, pushes forward then, nearer to the edge of the balcony to search the front of the crowd below. She's all but forgotten that there's an execution taking place until that booming reminder from the Duke Guardian, gaze flickering for an instant to that platform again before her search of the crowd resumes.
"Where are the archers?" Shayne hisses through her teeth, gaze shooting to the rooftops, her knuckles white with the force of her grip on Aaric's forearm. Her other hand knots in her skirts, helpless frustration evident in her features. Still, she's certainly not moving /back/.
On Kratos's heels, Mildryth pushes through. The bellow of Cael and the order of Aaric doesn't even make her flinch. "Weapon." She hisses at Kratos, moving for Arcadius. Apparently, treason is the last thing on her mind right now.
Tiege has been in combat before, but not often. It is when the people about him begin to shift and go from an angry crowd to a deadly one that his attention is ripped from Arcadius toward the attackers. A mixture of emotions cross his features as he's pinned in the press of those right at the front. "Providence," he shouts, a prayer encompassed in that single word. He ducks down in the crowd and starts to try to thread his way through it. It's not a comfortable process.
The man with Kratos, the one who is playing the part of human shield, kisses the end of his blade as he passes it to Mildryth's care. He will have no need of it shortly.
They are not, strictly speaking, his men under assault, those legionnaires stationed around the platform, but they are -- in a manner -- his brethren. Leon's jaw stiffens at the action, at the motion, and at Aaric's shout he takes a sharp step back.
But that's all. He goes no further, but shakes his head, "No." Rather, his hand tightens on Linette's shoulder and he draws _her_ back, interposing more of his armored self between her and the possibility of arrows.
A muttered curse as Guidhael tries to ride out over the flank of the legionaires to try to get to the stage where he knows the crush is heading. "Traitors!" he roars as he looks around, wondering where the hell the archers are himself, and dodging aside a legion spear aimed at him as he tries to fling the hunk of wood at the three charging the condemned lord.
Sixteen knights remain in the square. They do nothing to jump into the fray, or to protect legionnaire or citizen. Six of them maneuver themselves closer to the building where the Empress has been stashed away, guarding any entrances to the place while the others settle back to watch these events closely without involving themselves, likely coming up with some evacuation plan if things go more wrong than they are already going.
"You do this, LADY LACHLAN, and you will face justice next. You have no right. He is meeting justice right now. Your tribesmen are killing LEGIONNAIRES!" Cael shouts. "YOU ARE THE BETRAYER NOW!" he shouts at the top of his lungs. "STOP YOURSELF!" He has himself between the balcony and the young men.
An angry crowd is a dangerous crowd, and one that Niamh, upon her own, would do well to stay out of the way of. She is not clad in a cuirass or the full mail of a warrior. If the fray should get close, she's suddenly mobile in a way that betrays someone who gets in trouble frequently enough to know the nearest escape route out.
The guard is only absent from Niome's side for long enough to acquire the ever-present satchel. And here she thought it wasn't going to be a working excursion. He dogs the woman's steps, and she ducks to the first fallen to check for breathing before moving to the next.
There's a flash of frustration on Linette's face,too, when Shayne calls for the archers, for wherever the archers are, Linette isn't one of them either, at the moment. But she doesn't resist when Leon moves her back - she just shifts her grasp, wrapping her hand around his arm instead as she gives him a quick nod. Cael's shout brings more approval to Linette's eyes - slightly grudging considering the source, and slightly pained considering the target, but there all the same. "Providence,what is she thinking?" Linette mutters. And then she leans forward - can her higher, lighter voice carry as well as Cael's and Aaric's? Well, she'll try. "Millie!" Linette shouts. "STOP!"
Another voice with years of battle-command and authority behind it is raised, albeit off to one side and aimed at rather different targets. "Stay in your SEATS", Ygraine commands those around her, lest the rickety stands add to the chaos, or a fresh surge of would-be fugitives contribute fresh blood to the quantities already spilled. "On your lives, stand STILL! You are safe here, now SIT!" Backed up by her rather confused warhound, the Lady Thundering Falls does her best to make the spectators near her refocus upon something other than the bloody melee around the platform.
Marissa might be grieving and angry, but she's not stupid. Besides, she's from the civilized city of Sentinel Spire. She's no tribeswoman. Backing away from the fighting, She clutches that man's stocking cap as if her life depended on it.
Surely the tribesmen knew that their action was a move of suicide, but there is no fear as they live their last moments attempting to inflict some of the mortal pain that others suffered upon the man that is their target. The one who is the living shield is riddled with arrows immediately. His last scream is one of triumph, but broken at points by the fletchings that take him.
There is a very brief look spared to the tribesman that gives her a weapon. A multitude of emotion, and gratitude, in the space of a second as she accepts it. Still, she does not slow behind Kratos, on the approach for the deed to be done. Cael's bellow is allowed a simple glance this time- but fury and determination are in her own cold eyes. No turning back now. Linette's voice is met with a quick look- of course she would be here. A look of 'I'm sorry' is there. But each glance she gives is as quick as the next- all within the space of seconds.
She moves quick towards the platform and up, moving alongside Kratos as he heads for the Executioner, she goes for Arcadius. Of course, as luck would have it- everything turns into a blur at that point as the shower of bolts hits the platform itself. She lets out a cry of pain and ferocity as she is pierced multiple times, but it doesn't stop her in her momentum from gutting Arcadius, murder in her hard gaze, as she deals Rayder justice.
Kratos makes it a bit farther than the shielding tribesman, and farther than the ones who died to gain the tribes a few fast moments of opportunity. His teeth are bared and his dive for the executioner is a feral thing. The tip of his thin blade glits a promise of death, but that is a promise that he will keep himself. The blow never lands, although Kratos dies in between the axeman and his target. The archers find their target with deft skill the moment that the other tribesman falls, and Kratos gives a last strangled shout of, "Rayder! Re--ven--" before he falls.
Archers? There are archers. And, logic would have it, there are arrows, too. Archers stationed on the roof of the nearby Merchant Guildhouse give flight to those arrows, and they fly sharp and true toward the platform.
One lodges in the executioner's shoulder, sending him to his knees. He'll likely live, and he's fortunate, too: he won't be able to do his job with such an injury, but the missiles do it for him. One thuds in Arcadius's back, up and to the right. Another? Lower down. A third? Square. He stumbles, the platform shaking slightly under that motion, and it drives him to his knees. Mildryth's sword? It catches him in the gut and he grunts: "Mill--"
And so falls the man who brought down a mountain.
Cael's face is lost in a scowl, his hand gripping his sword hilt hard enough that his hand goes white. His teeth are gritted and his head drops slightly as the situation on the platform continues - the arrows dropping down to hit everyone on that space.
Niome looks up from where she's stopped, long enough for the guard to catch up. She absently grabs the bag from the man and growls a less than proper curse at the sight. Keeping her distance, she waits for the arrows to cease before even considering getting closer.
Marissa starts screaming as the execution is taken over by these bloodthirsty tribespeople. "STOP IT! STOP DEGRADING MY HUSBAND'S MEMORY BY THIS VIOLENCE! LET THE DUKE DISPENSE TRUE JUSTICE!" She is shaking as she watches the chaos around her. She has backed up quite a bit, avoiding the arrows.
The pinch faced herald too is caught amidst the volley, an arrow piercing his throat and ending his voice forever. And how many more innocents still in the chaos and confusion that ensue? Citizens mistaken for barbarians, citizens /acting/ like barbarians in their mad fight or flight, trampling each other in haste to escape or drawing concealed steal to deal death on suspected enemies. Who is left? How many were there? Are there any more? Gwencalon Square is in short order a riot, even as some stop to watch the fall of Lady Rayder Pass and Lord Copper Run.
Leon stands firm on the balcony, watching, and when the arrows begin to fly toward the platform his eyes go wide. "Providence's mercy," is his soft and fervent prayer, and his own eyes search through the now more violent crowd for a lone white-clad figure.
Shayne lets out a sharp breath as the arrows fly on the platform, ending, at least, that portion of the chaos. Which leaves still the building riot in the square below.
As Arcadius falls, the blade falls from Mildryth's hand, the pain settling in as the rage dies down. The trio of bolts piercing her torso have her mortally wounded, but it seems she is cursed to continue living- at least for the time being. She falls to her knees, hands moving to slowly break off the bolts- but not pull them out. Her blade remains within reach, her frame shaking, but battle ready... just in case. As Kratos falls, her iced gaze watches him. She's bleeding, badly, but not quite dead. And, in some harsh irony, she slumps against the dead form of Arcadius.
Tiege is one of those trying to withdraw and get distance, although his litany of prayers continues while he gets crushed a bit and fights to keep his footing in the strain about the crowd.
Addison leans forward over the balcony just a little by this point, and just like Leon she's searching for that white clad figure amongst the riot below. Worry doesn't begin to describe the expression on her face, teeth sinking into her lower lip, that being the only thing to keep her from calling out for Tiege, as futile as that attempt might be.
"Providence," is as far as Linette can get, a faint choked cry with her breath stuck in her throat as she watches the carnage below. But she doesn't look away, not even when her friend falls in a flurry of arrows. Her eyes never stop moving over the crowd, desperately speeding thoughts whirling behind them. "Where are the other legions?" Linette asks, voice unfurling from that moment of frozen quiet. "The guards have to be coming soon..." Linette runs through the possibilities, looks desperately towards the edges of the square, as she watches her barony's main city descend into chaos.
"Down! DOWN! Sit DOWN and STAY", bellows Ygraine, shouldering her way down the aisle of her stand to the front, before turning to put her back to the riot and face those who have not yet fled their seats and joined the chaos. "You're safer HERE. STAY!", she instrusts them once more, before unslinging her long-handled axe from her back and relaxing her grip on Scolan's collar, turning to face the bloody confusion. She hopes that armed rioters might avoid her, and those behind her, while people in need of safety might have at least one refuge to turn to. Assuming things don't get any worse, of course. In any case, she starts to sing, voice raised in a rallying song of her homeland - the sound intended to reassure herself, and perhaps those she seeks to protect, as well as drawing to her any men and women of Thundering Falls who might be present.
Cael looks like he wants to punch something, anything, anyone. He turns through to speak to the two young men - gripping them each on a shoulder, leaning in to speak to them. Both drop their heads to listen, shaking their heads. And then Cael pushes down on their shoulders ... and they seem to drop with him. All three - Baron Smithfield, the older and younger son of the fallen Lord Copper Run. All drop to one knee, and Cael drops his head, murmuring. There's no way this can be real, but it actually looks like Cael is -praying- with them, the older and younger son with tense and angry faces, shocked, their shoulders stiff under his hand but their eyes closed and their heads dipped, as if reflexively.
Even in the crush of people startled toward a riot, the efficiency of the legionnaires is obvious. The ones who were attacking and forced open the line are now all dead on the ground, and the ones who made it to the platform are forever stilled. If there are others in the crowd who were a part of it, they are not identifying themselves. The fighting of the tribal figures is over with the same swiftness it began.
Shayne looks over her shoulder as Cael goes down, brows furrowing in confusion. "What in the abyss do you think that's going to do?" she says, as if unaware she's speaking out loud. "Aaric," she urges, turning back to the Duke, loosening her grip on his arm. "It's time to stop this."
Niome wavers on her kneel, sizing up the fall of arrows, and fighting off the urge to still run after the Lady Mildryth's. Not that she's foolish enough to believe that she can save the woman, but Providence willing she can help.
There's no shock or mourning or horror or concern in Aaric Barca's gaze. Livid. Anger. That's the fire in those umber orbs. "LEGIONAIRRES! EVACUATE THE SQUARE! CITIZENS! DROP YOUR WEAPONS AND PROCEED TO YOUR HOMES!" The good duke is going to lose his voice at this pace.
Mildryth grabs her weapon, and shifts over onto her elbows, shifting closer to Kratos. She leans against his dead body for support, though one smooth motion cuts a section of his hair. This is clasped within her hair, the weapon then relinquished to the platform. Her gaze raises to the balcony where the Baronial types and the Ducal pair are. There is no remorse or regret on her- triumph, and serenity is there instead. Peace.
Cael finishes what he was doing and rises with the two young men, speaking to them. "Their father just died, a prayer isn't out of the question," he tells Shayne by way of reply.
Evacuate the square? It's an order more easily given than carried out, but two cohorts at least are in the vicinity of the Duke's shout and the sound of steady, collaborated footsteps joins the chaos of the crowd as they move from the edges of it and trot in from the wider avenues.
The act of evacuation has begun: any remaining fights or resistance will be broken in short order.
Tiege looks up toward Aaric from the spot where he's being jostled and crunched. He grimaces as an elbow finds his side, and then, he's snagged by a taller, broader figure. A Guardian who says something right near his ear, and Tiege nods to the man. The Guardian is the one who helps Tiege get to the side, some amount of sheltering given to the acolyte. When they reach a place to exit, there are a couple of others there as well, and Tiege heads off with a small group.
Tears of anger and grief stream down Marissa's face. At the Duke's order to disperse, Marissa tries to make her way out of the square, pushing and shoving to get through the crowd. She thought she would come to this execution and be able to resolve her grief and anger at losing her husband. But instead, her grief and anger has only been intensified.
And there, as Linette had wondered, is where the legions were. Swords fly, bodies fall, and the riot stills, leaving the voices of tribal songs and ducal commands to rise high over the square. Pain flashes in Linette's eyes before they close, and she whispers a silent prayer of her own. And in that silence there is Cael's voice, speaking something that brings Linette's gaze swiftly around to him, eyes widening in surprise. And then approval. She gives him a single sharp nod, and then turns back, watching the evacuation. Only the evacuation. Only the streets and survivors and soldiers. Not the platform. Linette can't look there.
Ygraine holds her chosen section of crowd in place within their stand, until the riot has broken and the only people left are fugitives and Legionaires. Then she ends her song and slings her axe, turning to stalk back up the aisle of the stand. "Go! Quietly, but go!", she instructs them. "It's over." For her own part, she moves back to her vacated spot, there to slump down, arms draped over her thighs, hands ruffling wearily at her hound's torn ears while she listens to the tramping fight and shouts of the soldiers and frightened civilians.
Niome straightens at the command to have the square evacuated. She skirts closer to speak. "You grace," she calls out and up, almost a bellow from the usually mute woman. "May I stay to attended to the wounded?" She holds stands close to her one companion, ready to retreat with the others at the Duke's say so.
It is odd, perhaps, that it should be the Baron Smithfield and not the Baron Caerdach on his knees; but Leon keeps his feet and any prayers he might have -- and no doubt, he has them -- between himself and Providence. His hand remains firm on Linette's shoulder as his eyes rove the crowd -- and the Legion arriving to break it up. He looks then to Aaric. "Your Grace?" he prompts. "Should -- should we -- there were a lot of people here from Rayder Pass. Invited. Should -- do you want them found?"
Aaric's face is contorted in fury. The order given and executed, he watches with single-minded rage as the people of Gwencalon disperse. "See to those at the stand!" he calls sharply to Niome, though doubtless not out of wroth towards her. Finally, finally, he realizes that there are other people on the stand with him. Two hands pass to the back of younger sister and wife-to-be as he says. "I am going down there. You two, go to the Empress and see that all is well. Baron Smithfield, accompany me."
"Yes," he answers Leon tightly. "Find Master Soranus and round up all those known to be from Rayder where you can find them."
"Yes your grace," Cael says automatically, saying something to the two young men and they both nod, although still looking shocked and angry. Cael takes a step forward, ready to follow Aaric wherever he may be going, his hand ready on his sword hilt.
"Your Grace." It's no question now but a confirmation, and Leon doubles it with a sharp salute, his knuckles rapping the steel of his breastplate. And then he's gone, disappeared from the balcony to deliver that command, cloak trailing on the breeze behind him.
Linette turns to give her brother a quick nod, her own emotions - pain? anger? - still hidden behind that desperate efficiency for now. "All right," she says. And then, unnecessarily, "Be careful." One more squeeze to Leon's arm, and then she withdraws her hand, adding more softly, "And you," before he goes. And then Linette starts to leave as well, pulling herself up straighter as she turns away from the chaos in the square, and towards the empress.
A relative stranger in a strange land, Addison finds herself standing off to the side of the balcony, unsure of what to do or where to go at this point. And so she does nothing but watch in something akin to horror at the scene in the square below. She glances at the Duke as Tiege's name is mentioned, but still, nothing is said or done to draw attention to herself.
Niamh is largely consigned to popping through the crowd here and there, catching words, glimpses, sounds.
Mildryth is still alive, down on the platform. She is leaning against the dead body of Kratos, the lock of hair she claimed held tightly in a hand. She, however, doesn't make a motion to leave. Either she can't, or she is simply waiting. Her eyes are downcast at the hand closed however, before they shift to the dead form of Arcadius. Lips press thin, and she closes her eyes. She's bloody, and bleeding, but apparently, she is resisting death.
Marissa is making her way with the crowd out of the square, along with those that Ygraine has been herding. She wipes her eyes with that coal dust-covered stocking cap, that furious look still on her face.
Niome waits only to hear Aaric's words before she's launching into motion again. She skirts about those who are still evacuating and pounds up to the stand. The first being those who may have only moments to live, like that of the lady.
There are dead on the platform, true; and those alive need a healer's attention. But a quartet of legionnaires reach the place before the healer. They are, no doubt, less inclined toward soft mercies after the slaughter, and they surround Mildryth. Niome will be allowed access; but no others.
Mildryth snaps her eyes open as someone approaches, her gaze narrowing on Niome. "W'o... ye?" She grunts out, wincing in pain of the effort. She took three bolts- one in the shoulder, one in the chest, but above her heart, and one lower in her torso, near her waist on the right. The shafts have been broken off, but the bolts are still imbedded. The Legionnaires are met with a brief glance- no surprise.
"Don't even think about it, boy", growls Ygraine to the leader of a pair of youthful legionaires who spot her at the back of her stand and make a move to approach the unmoving, tattooed warrior, their swords drawn. "I'm Thundering Falls. I have a right to bear this blade before the Keeper himself, and I go wherever _his_ service takes me. Go back to herding those who need direction!" Scolan lifts his brindled head, green eyes fixing upon the young man - who opts for the better part, and does indeed accompany his companion back onto the flagstones of the square, to find subjects more amenable to accepting guidance.
It's a brisk walk Aaric makes, flanked by four Barca guardsmen and the Baron Smithfield as he pleases. Off the balcony, down the steps, and out of the door of the inn that has become the makeshift headquarters of Guardian and Imperial nobility. Stragglers are shoved or poked off by hand or spear-butt respectively as all haste is made towards the execution stage. Surely, surely the shield-wall will break for its Duke, and so he kneels by Mil with a passing glance towards Niome. Dark eyes scan over mortal wounds before flickering up to survey the carnage behind boots of surrounding legionairres. "So, what? To mark your territory like a dog? That is what all this was about?"
Cael follows as well, keeping up. Down the steps and out of the door of the inn. He follows along, right by the side of the Duke as he steps in closer, watching Mildryth with a stony face - and silent it seems, for now.
The shield wall? It breaks, yes, parts before the Duke's dark wrath and allows him access to the stage. Those legionnaires who have taken up position around Mildryth, likewise, part with sharp salutes. But they linger close.
Niome shushes like only a healer can. "You need to save your strength," she reples to Mildryth and an authority that speaks to her Guardian roots. A pity she became a healer, perhaps. She flicks open the back, pulling out a small knife that is wrapped to linens, another set of linens and a what looks to be waxed thread. The needle is still tucked away and hidden. She doesn't seem to mind the leggionnaires but sets to her work. She glances up to Baron Smithfield at his arrival, forstalling the next comment, but it will be clear in pain when she begins to work. She reaches for another knife from the bag, this one unclothed to cut at the cloth around Milly's shoulder.
As Linette turns to leave the balcony, a small lost figure catches her eye - Addison, huddled in the corner. "Come with me," she says, her voice gentling a little way out of its brisk efficiency as her hand reaches out to the younger woman. "You'll be better off inside with us."
Addison's gaze breaks away from the square below as Linette speaks, a moment taken before the offer is processed. "O-- of course, Excellency," she turns then, a feeble attempt at a smile given to try and disguise her concern. A hand absently smoothes down the front of her gown as she steps away from the edge of the balcony to follow the Baroness.
Eyes dark and knowing survey the healer's futile work on Mildryth. "No," he says in quiet tones that brook no argument. "She wanted Arcadius Athelstan, so she can follow him to the Abyss. See to the executioner, Lady Moriens." Aaric's face is contorted in a combination of lingering anger and something entirely different. "You were always a terrible lady, you know," he says unhelpfully. "But it was Lin who stood up for you, when not a single solitary soul in Rayder Pass would. And it's Lin's people laying there past this stage that you ended up killing, not Arcadius. If you had not taken the bolts, she would have been forced to kill you. And it's your people that are going to suffer next. You know that too, don't you?"
Cael watches, quiet. "I told you, being a leader meant putting aside your anger to do right by your people," he says quietly to Mildryth, almost like to himself. But he remains quiet otherwise, perhaps sensing the rage from the duke next to him.
Niome holds her knife at the read to cut away the cloth before hearing Aaric's words. "Your grace," she begins softly. "I've not been able to assess her damage, but she may still live." She falls quiet, listening to his words before moving back to her bag. She collects the items slowly, should the man change his mind. "I will see to him," she promises while moving to stand when she's done.
Mildryth's hand clenches the hair she holds, the hand raising to rest against her chest as she lays there against Kratos. As Aaric speaks, there is actually a ghost of a smile on her lips. "I's neva' asked fer dis. I's did woot I's could, wit woot was given tae meh. Ye nae dat." But her expression turns harder, serious, as she looks upon him. "Da tribes, an's I... naew woot we daein' fer dis. Naew da cost." A glare is given to Cael, but she ignores him otherwise. "We's stood by our choice. I's still dae. Da people oov Rayder be avenged. We naew we were gunna die. 'onorable."
High above the square, back turned on the carnage, Linette sees nothing of what passes between her brother and the lady of Rayder Pass who was once her friend - she may not even know that Mildryth still lives. But if Linette is grieving for any of it, all of her emotion is still clamped down, buzzing under that layer of restless efficiency that has settled over her. Her outstretched hand lands on Addison's shoulder, guiding the younger woman swiftly through the door, and off of the balcony to give her own report to the Empress.
From her spot on the highest row of her stand, Ygraine's chief obstacle to a clear view of proceedings on the platform is provided by the depth of her frown. She can't hear what transpires there, but she can see the movements of figures crouched and standing, and read what messages are contained within their postures and motions. Her hands have resumed their gentling of Scolan's ears, soothing the old warhound against the call of the scents of blood, fear and anger.
Addison is easy to guide off the balcony and inside, continuing to move with Linette as she goes off to give her report to the Empress.
A quick, sharp and approving glance is spared towards Niome, but the duke hovers close to the fading Lady Rayder Pass. "Tribes?" Aaric answers Mildryth swiftly, urgently, and with a heavy emphasis on the plural. "Both of them as one? You'll save lives, right here and now -- like those lives in the villages that fell under the mountain -- by answering me truthfully here. Kratos and the Cymbri. Was it both of them, or just the one?"
Niome skirts away to see to the executioner. She dips into a bow, seeing out the other wounded man, while trying to stay close enough if needed. She draws out thread and knife again, prepping to remove the arrow.
Cael is silent now, just watching the interaction between MIldryth and Aaric, his hand on his hilt and just watching quietly.
"Tribes oov Rayder unite w'en we be wronged." Mildryth answers Aaric, her lips pulling into a painful grin. "Ye nae find 'em. Dey nae betta..." She slumps more against Kratos, blood still flowing- her skin paling. Time is short for the beserker woman. "Request?" She whispers, her expression softening as she looks to Aaric.
"You've got a lot of gall, you /fucking/ /cunt/," Aaric says with incredulous, exasperated, and helpless appreciation towards Mildryth as he kneels beside her. Gallows humor rules. "If you'd wanted a request, you could have asked for it before you attacked my city." The boy who grew up with her eyes her suddenly. "If you'd lived, I would have crucified you, you know." It's an obvious invitation, however crudely couched.
Cael is startled by the duke, and he blinks, turning his gaze to Aaric before sliding it back to Mildryth.
Niome hikes an eyebrow at hearing Aaric's words. She is careful not to cut her patient, cutting along the edge to aid in pulling out the arrow while she continues to work. A linen dabbed to the wound to staunch the blood.
Hearing the Barca lose his composure might have provided some small high point to this stinking mess. As it is, Ygraine is too far away - though she does catch the startled motions of some of those around him.
Aaric's burst draws her grin back into place. "Ye grew oop. Dunnae change." Though seriousness lands her expression again- and if Aaric doesn't come through, hopefully some will. Her last will and testament: "Give Lin meh bow, meh sword gae ta ye." Her eyes harden then as she looks to him: "I'd expect nae less." Though any addition to what she may want to give doesn't come. Instead a sputtered weeze and attempt for air arises before she slumps back completely against the corpse of Kratos, her own frame going limp. Her hand opens, loosening, and the hair of her tribal husband flying to the wind away from her.
The Lady of Rayder Pass hath died.
Cael drops his gaze, his face showing a grimace as Mildryth speaks. He shakes his head, his gaze turning to Arcadius' body, the hurt executioner, the healer, Mildryth's body and Kratos' body. His face is unreadable, but his eyes are pained.
Niome turns her attention back to her work. She doesn't look away while she pulls out the waxed thread and needle for the executioner. Her voice soft and soothing in placations while she works.
That moment of oddest intimacy shared, Aaric Barca rises briskly from the lifeless corpse of Mildryth Lachlan wtih all the dignity that he descended. A glance is spared to the immediate dead: herald and human shield, Kratos and the mate he won, and Arcadius Athelstan at last. Then to the living. "My lady Moriens, there are more for you to tend to, surely, but other healers will arrive as well. I will need you in the counsel to come." A glance over his shoulder. "You as well, Smithfield."
"First though, I should see to the safety of the Empress -- and others. We shall all meet at Castle Caerdach, swiftly." A war council, implicit. A sudden, searching gaze is cast around the square, the duke's narrowed gaze passing to Guidhael and Ygraine both. Quiet words to to the attentive legionairres speak ominous summons.