The Sentinel's Vigil
Jan. 24, 2017, 8 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Compact - Shrine of the Sentinel
Comments and Log
The shrine of the Sentinel has been scrubbed clean, every inch of stone bare and gleaming. Hundreds upon hundreds of candles in fresh, soft beeswax have been placed around the shrine and lit, casting away any hint of night. They weigh brightly in the Sentinel's stone scales, they surround and cover his feet, dripping wax on them. They line the walls of the shrine and they cover the altar that the Archlector stands behind.
Archlector Avary Ashford stands in a plain, white silk robe, head and feet bare. The mark of her discipleship wraps in a golden chair around her neck that ends in scales, and in the way her features are cool and impassive, as she watches those that gather with her for the announced vigil. It isn't until 12 minutes until midnight, precisely, that she raises her voice to say, "Please, kneel. I will invoke the Sentinel's blessing so that we can maintain its watch this evening."
Merek steps into the Shrine with his full black cloak on, and his hood up. He has a scarf on his lower face, and a small mirror that is on a silver chain necklace. Once he enters, he inclines to the front, and listens to the words. He finds a place, and kneels down, not having said a word upon entry, and not seeming to be willing to speak a word. His golden gaze closes gently once it takes in faces.
Orazio is one of the first people there. His own robes are more elaborate, but he is wearing his Sentinel medallion over the Legate's ornate robes, and he glides into place. A smile and a nod of greeting is given to Avary, before he kneels quietly in place, head bowing. No pressure for the new Archlector of the Sentinel. Nooooo pressure at all!
Felix makes his way to the shrine with his usual jaunty step, the large smith wearing his usual attire of red shirt and leather breeches. After making his way in, he waits indeed until Avary speaks. As far as kneeling goes, he's got a long way to go in order to do so. Muscles do as they do, however, and he manages to make it down to his knees where he isn't towering over everyone as per the usual.
Fortunato drifts in. His attention is initially for the candles, drawn to the movement of so, so many flames. He rouses, steps forward, carried by momentum nearer to the front, where he kneels, carefully.
Darrow Rather than armor or leathers, Darrow is in a simple penitent's robe of grey cloth. A medallion is his only adornment - a circular pendant of a faceless persona. He kneels as the Archlector speaks, and he kneels in silence, his own features as stony as that of the statue in the room.
Entering, Vincere looks over those present to greet the few familiar faces with a brief nod of acknowledgment. His manner is reserved -- even for him -- and his gaze thoughtful as he considers the light that rings the Sentinel. He kneels as one of the whole.
Aleksei enters with a hint of reluctance, like he's been spending time debating whether to enter at all. He hangs at the very back of the room, not quite joining, but moving his gaze slowly around the display of candlelight that fills the room. His shoulders ease a touch, but he remains at the back, leaning a bit against the wall near the entrance; he may not be kneeling with the others, but he makes himself unobtrusive, and he keeps quiet as he watches.
Perhaps surprising to some, but Baroness of Saikland and Sword of Southport, Kima, is one of the earlier arrivals to the shrine. The blonde is clad demurely, one might even say...respectfully, in white. She has foregone any adornment, though she had elected to wear both swords strapped upon her back.
They are given peace tied by an acolyte at the door.
Afterwards, the Lioness strides purposely forward, coming to kneel in some appropriate spot amongst the others there for the evening's vigil.
Jeremiah is present as well--has been there, has been early. He's off to the side, subdued--the call to kneel comes, and he does so, sober and reverent.
Merek seems to bow his head once he has reverently kneeled down. His hood now covers all his face, and it is hard to tell what is on his mind. However, he seems to be ready to keep this quiet vigil, in respect, and serenity, to Sentinel.
Calypso steps in a touch late and moves off to the side and out of the way to observe. Her usual steeled expression is ever present.
"It is times of greatest strife that it is easy to forget all of the tenants that make for justice and law and order. None of these come easily, nor do they often come quickly. One must question in order to find answers. One must watch in order to see. One must wait for the scales to balance before finding the truth in them," Avary begins, her tone even and her words clearly raised. The cadence is of a woman long practiced with sermons, clearly that as she speaks.
"The Sentinel always watches and sees all, but he can only move through our hands, showing his will by them." She bows her head forward, invoking, "Faceless God, Silent Watcher, let us be your eyes. Let our hands be guided by you. Let our ears be open to you and let our hearts and minds be clear."
"So now, I ask that you rise and maintain this vigil by questioning your neighbor, by questioning me, by questioning the Shield of the Faith himself. Any questions that you have, raise them here. Then, I ask that you weigh your truths on the Sentinel's scale. That you open yourself up to the truths of others. I ask that you watch, as the Sentinel would." Avary's gaze rises, finding Orazio's for a moment, before she steps away from the altar to join the gathered crowd as they rise.
Upon passing by the statue of the Sentinel at the entrance to the shrine, Sir Rymarr's helm lowers in reverence of the statue and a steel clad hand rises upward to touch a palm against the surface of his breastplate. Once he passes by the statue the knight continues forward to join the congregation of devout and onlookers. He carries upon his back the armor of the King's Own and his usual armament at his sides. Upon arriving before those kneeling, Sir Rymarr threads his way through the mass of bodies until he arrives at the Kima's side. He lowers himself to a knee and both hands drift up to remove his helmet, which is then tucked beneath his arm and pinned to his side. From there the Oathlander's head bows, but his eyes remain open as he stares at a point on the floor of the shrine ahead of himself.
Felix continues to kneel with his head bowed and eyes closed for the moment. Even as others enter and perhaps walk around him, he stays relatively still and focused in prayer while Avary speaks.
There's a single, arched eyebrow from Orazio as he meets Avary's eyes. His expression is studiously neutral, but the black gaze holds her own for an uncomfortably long time, before he breaks it to rise gracefully to his feet. Mostly gracefully; those closest can hear the creak and pop of the Legate's aging knee joints, even though his movements remain smooth and measured. "So says the Voice of the Sentinel, and so it shall be."
Aleksei's expression isn't schooled at all: his brows spring upwards from where he leans against the wall near the entrance. Then it lowers with a faint, curious furrow as he watches the small crowd begin to rise under Avary's instructions. His gaze slides to Fortunato and then to Orazio. Still managing silence, against all odds.
Hadrian isn't goofing of, doesn't have a zoo of retainers following him, and doesn't even enact any theatrics that bring him the attention he usually covets; he is dressed in humble, simple clothing, arrives alone, and with a reverent bow of his head and solemn countenance. Slow steps are cadenced in worship, and he comes to kneel beside Kima.
Fortunato rises to his feet, his eyes brightening as he does. His expression doesn't otherwise change from its usual near-blank, but that excited intensity quite focuses on Avary as she moves to join the crowd, all intrigue.
Darrow rises in silence.
Merek seems to shift his head up after a bit. Once instructed to rise, and ask questions, his gaze moves around, the only bit visible about him, while he pushes to stand up. He has come with no weapons this day, and it seems like he is deeply pensive, while he looks forward to Avary. His gaze, if it can, meets hers for a moment. If Orazio's was uncomfortable in neutrality, his gaze is past the limit for optimism and kindness, reflected easily.
Linden, 10 Grayson Guardsmen arrive, following Dawn.
Hadrian rises, also, in accordance to Avary's prompt.
In one fluid motion, Kima rises to her feet. It is undoubtedly an easier thing to do when only done for short periods of time. There were those, in certain parts of the Compact, who would kneel an entire day and night when taking knightly vows. Not taking into account fasting while doing so!
Neither here nor there, one must imagine.
With Duke Malvici on one side, and Sir Rymarr on the other, Kima offers each a discreet look of acknowledgement before turning her attention fully to Avary.
Vincere's eyes narrow and his gaze turns thoughtful as he settles to consider the vigil before them. He's not the first to break in with a question, but he's sure thinking about it.
Rising with surprise, Jeremiah looks towards Orazio--questioning, briefly. He shakes his head then, looking towards Aleksei and Fortunato both, approaching the former, fidgeting with the buttons on his vest.
Orazio stands in an easy parade rest, hands clasped lightly behind him. He meets Jeremiah's look with a smile, but otherwise he just...stands there, like a statue of a Legate, those emotionless black eyes patiently watching the assembled Faithful. He looks very...approachable. Yes, surely.
Surely it is coincidence that has the ex-bastard of Grayson after the kneeling portion of the festivities. A quirk of timing, a matter of traffic, perhaps. But here is Dawn, once-Regent, once-bastard, newly minted princess, and a host of other unprintable adjectives arrives in the company of...many guards. Many. They hang back-- a little-- as she proceeds to the rear and periphery of the crowd, with chin high-- and scarred face clearly visible as she turns her head to survey crowd and priests.
Merek looks aside, and towards Orazia for a moment, while he seems to consider. He then moves in that direction, why? It is hard to tell. If he can see, he will see that same unflinching kindness that Avary saw. If he is allowed to approach, he will be but three feet from the Legate.
If no one else will question, the Archlector herself asks the first. "Legate Orazio, I ask you now, do you believe in the touch of the gods? Those gifts that we have heard or seen? Do you believe that the gods guide us, daily?" Avary inquires. It's a soft ball, surely, in the Legate's direction, giving him the opportunity to speak to the truth in the shrine of the Sentinel.
Aleksei's brows lift again when Jeremiah approaches him. He snorts quietly, leaning up against the wall with his shoulders slouched a bit and arms crossed. He murmurs something under his breath to the man.
Orazio gives the Archlector a mild look, head tilted to one side. His answer comes without hesitation. "I believe in them, although I would ask no man nor woman to do so unless they had the opportunity to see them for themselves." Seeing Merek approach, he offers the man a smile, warm for all it has trouble reaching his eyes. "I do not believe we have met?"
The order to rise up given, Sir Rymarr's right hand lowers to the ground in order to steady himself and aid in pushing himself upward to his feet. When he rises up to his full height a hand shifts around to adjust the helmet which resides beneath his arm, finding a suitable position to hold the helmet. A brief glance is cast to one side, directed at Kima, and then away again. Rymarr's stern blue eyes turn toward both Orazio and Avary. As the silence reigns, Rymarr's attention begins to drift around the shrine. Dawn's arrival draws the attention of the man for a time, but inevitably his focus drifts away and turns to regard both Avary and Orazio. A question beginning to form on his lips, though unspoken for the moment.
Glory, a deerhound, Planchet, a young valet arrive, following Pietro.
"... That is a curious statement, I'm... Merek Black," Merek offers, while he dips a nod, then he lifts his gaze. "I do not doubt your faith, but what do you mean, see for themselves? I've seen the Gods every day since I was born, as most men who look do..." A tilt of his head, from left to right, "Faith is the belief in those things not evident at first. If one must see to believe, one's faith is diminished, is it not?"
It is the guards that draw the calculating gaze of Hadrian Malvici first, then Dawn, but either sight elicits neither surprise nor concern.
Pietro slips quietly into the vigil, slinking among the attendees to fetch up near his brother to the surprise of no one.
Avary tips her chin in return for Orazio's answer, a soft gesture. Her gaze slides away towards the contingent of Grayson guards and the princess that approaches with them. She moves through the crowd, only to greet the woman with a, "Welcome, your highness. I cannot invoke the Sentinel's blessing upon you, but would you join us?" Her cool gaze gives little away as she invites Dawn into the shrine.
Despite the soberness of the man and the event, there's a -quiet- laugh drawn by Aleksei's words: "That--no. You misread," he earnestly tells Aleksei.
Dawn is given a curious look, but there's nothing from Jeremiah question-wise. "I didn't expect this--it's worthy. But it has me floored. Perhaps it's been too long since I've asked questions," he explains to Aleksei quietly.
Darrow looks to the ex-regent, Dawn, and the dour Knight of Sorrow speaks, with taciturn curtness. His question is blunt.
"Why is one excommunicated here?"
Fortunato cants his head toward Kima, if his eyes are on Orazio for his answer. Just for his answer. Then his attention is all on Kima, if his voice is light, careful. "My lady. What do you think of justice?" His consonants edge on the last word. Fleeting. "Are any of us remembered as we deserve?"
Hadrian says, "I would assume to worship Sentinel."
Hadrian glances at the Knight of Sorrow.
Dawn might have lingered, quiet observer. But with Avary's approach and greeting she inclines her head to the other woman and murmurs, "I would claim the Sentinel's blessings, for myself, by myself. I was told once that the Sentinel turns none away from the promise of redemption." Those pale eyes flicker briefly to Orazio before skimming on to Darrow. Her lips are tugged by a small polite smile; no matter his question, she inclines her head to him as well.
"You ask questions 24/7," Aleksei says with a quiet snort to Jeremiah. His gaze slides up to Darrow at his question, lips twisting in a faint frown, and then it travels to Dawn with open curiosity.
Felix finally does rise to his feet, though he doesn't do so quite as spryly as Kima. This is done more leisurely when he's finished his own silent prayer. The large smith naturally folds his arms over his chest and looks to the others gathered, offering his usual cheery sort of smile. That is before he offers a smile to Avary. "Beautifully done, Archlector. Thank you." That said, he turns his attention on others who are speaking. His silver eyes turn to Darrow then and he eyes the man a moment and then to Dawn to nod at her in greeting. This is not a thing he'll be getting involved in, but he does watch on.
Avary nods, murmuring words to Dawn, but then Darrow's question draws her gaze away. "I have invited questions, but I have also invited you to open yourselves to the truth," she tells Darrow, simply, though there may be a hint of warning there. But then her gaze draws to Dawn, and it is a warning to all as she tells the younger woman, "If you join us, your highness, I must ask that you answer. A question has been asked, and it must be answered."
Bethany enters the Shrine, hushed, and she takes a position to kneel and offer quiet prayers.
"Master Malak," Orazio greets, with a polite nod. "A good question. And one which has filled many a tome of theology throughout the years. Faith is a choice. A choice that each of the faithful must struggle with; it does not mean that one must toss aside their critical capacity. In fact, I would argue - as a priest of the Sentinel - that on the contrary, faith demands constant doubt. It must be a choice that we make in each moment." He glances up as Dawn comes in, his eyes moving to Darrow at his question. It's a question, so he answers it, calmly, "The Faith may not recognize the Princess Dawn, until she seeks repentance, but the gods will make their own decision. The Archlector has said that she is welcome, and therefore, I have no objection to her presence, although she may not participate in any sacrament."
"That... Makes sense," Merek states, while he looks to Dawn once she has entered, and makes her claim. He also looks to other, then chuckles at Orazio, "I understand that at least. I am a student of the Scholars, and research assistant to Lady Bianca Wyrmguard," he offers, with an incline. "It is true, one can't have faith without doubt, else the very definition of the word loses meaning, but we grow in Faith. I just... Don't know though, no one seems to recognize their touch in everyday life, though it is obvious at times. But perhaps I overthink."
Kima appraises Fortunato thoughtfully for several heartbeats, then says, "I think justice is a perfect ideal in an imperfect world. For who can say what is truly just? To do so is to presume a divinity not given to man, though it is ours to strive for, ours to emulate. Because without it we are without frame, and left to our baser natures." Kima pauses, considering his second question, her chin held delicately within one hand.
"We may be remembered as we deserve by those that knew us, for a short time. As history marches onward, as ever it must, fact and fantasy alike can be lost, or distorted. But your question predicates we agree on what it means to be deserving of." She smiles faintly. "Though I believe my answer to be a reasonable one in regards to that."
Avary's gaze catches on Kima for that first answer she gives, and there is a bright spark of approval, for only a moment, before her attention is drawn away.
Rymarr's attention shifts from Avary and Orazio both, then turns toward Dawn. He watches on in silence, his features possess the usual stern nature, but a grimace further mingles with the hardened cast of his expression. He remains silent for the moment, allowing the questions being spoken to fly around himself without interruption. He glances only briefly toward Kima and seems to mutter something, then again his intense blue eyes turn back to regard Dawn. While doing so a hand moves to collect his helmet from beneath his arm and once gathered, both hands bring it upward in order to pull it snug atop his head. The barbute in place, he adjusts the way it settles atop his head, and once satisfied both hands lower again to reside at his sides.
"Questions and answers are no sacrament. I have only ever given truth to the questions put to me and I would do so here as well. Should any be asked, I swear by the gods' will and judgment I will speak truth." Dawn folds her hands at her waist and adopts a stance which is rooted, disinclined to budging. Gentler, however, is the way she dips her head to Avary-- transmitting a mild thanks to the woman in that gesture, one that is extended to Orazio a beat later.
There is little warmth in Darrow's features, but it's the austerity of an empty room, lacking in hostility as well, as coolly impassive as the statue dominant in the room. He turns his pale, water colored eyes from Dawn, unflinching as he looks to the Arch Arbiter, Avary. Dawn's answer is met with a marginal tick of his head, though as she mentions she comes to claim the Sentinel's blessings by herself, his gaze flits to the number of guards flanking her entrance, drifting to each one in turn.
Calypso speaks up from her spot towards the outskirts of those gathered, asking with a humbles curiosity. "We are all sinners in our own right. Some sins weigh more than others on the great scales. What is an appropriate act of redemption to tip the scales back in balance before the Sentinel and the Faith for one who has been excommunicated?" A brief nod is turned towards Dawn at the question, meaning no disrespect in her presence, but it is a curious question none the less.
Fortunato smiles his scant smile at Kima's answer. "Time grants both-- distortion and evolution to lives as they were lived, yes. Our best records and memorials can only approximate memory. Often, our best records and memorials are not about memory, but examples, inspiration." He links his hands together, loose. "Ideals in an imperfect world. Sometimes, my lady, I don't know what is more important. Ideals to emulate, whether divine or more rooted here, or honest struggles. Even if the appearance of justice is as imperfect as the world is. Sometimes, the struggle is more instructive. But where are we without end points to strive for?"
Bethany rises, slowly, and withdraws from the shrine.
"First, the sinner must acknowledge the sin and truly wish to repent. Then, they must present themselves to the Faith and the gods would guide the Dominus's hand to an appropriate act of contrition," Avary answers of Calypso, her gaze studying the young general. "It is hard to say what that act may be, dependant on the sins committed. It may be that support of Gild and charity to the church is enough. If it is grevious enough, a Dominus may ask for a child to be sent to serve the Faith in contrition." A pause, as she does slide a look towards Orazio before she adds, "It should be appropriate and balanced. The intent of all parties matters to the Sentinel more than the acts themselves."
"Of all the Excommunicated--I believe Princess Dawn is the sole one to not publicly return ire to the Faith," Jeremiah comments to nobody in particular, taking another moment to fidget with his buttons before speaking again. "We're aimless," he tells Fortunato, whether or not he in particular was asked. "We regress. An end-point to strive for is what has kept me alive," he remarks softly, watching the blonde rise and depart, considering.
One of the Grayson guardsmen works his way discreetly to the flame-haired woman standing so calmly, feet squared, hands folded. He dips his head in close to Dawn and murmurs something, prompting her to cock her head, listening. A small negative is answered to whatver's said before she returns to listening, to nodding to those who meet her eyes and to folding a hand over her heart when Calypso's glance is seen-- no offense taken, that signal says. But silence, silence, she bides quietly, even when Jeremiah speaks her name.
Felix is silent for the moment, considering his question very carefully. Others have asked such good questions that he doesn't want to seem entirely foolish. There is very clear trepidation on the man's features along with some uncertainty. "What about finding justice within?" he asks finally, his eyes on Avary. "I mean - when you have several courses of action ahead, how do you tell what the right thing is? Even when the lines between justice and revenge are muddled?" Self-consciousness sets in and he clears his throat somewhat nervously.
Orazio listens to Avary's answer, with a slow and thoughtful nod. Although, he does add, "I would say that both acts and intent matter. A good intent can still lead to poor ends - some of our greatest massacres have begun with a sincere heart. In my own, personal conception of the Sentinel, the Watcher sees and judged based on intent, means, and outcome, for all of these things have meaning in justice."
"Of course. I misspoke. I only meant to say that they matter to the Sentinel as well," Avary replies simply at Orazio's correction, tipping her chin in an accepting gesture.
Rymarr's helmet turns aside to regard Orazio after a moment and then it cants to one side, the knight's voice found as he speaks toward the Legate. Midway through his words, his head shifts upright a degree and his back straightens as he asks of the Legate, "Legate, what is the punishment the Sentinel demands of those who commit treason in an act directly against the Crown and interests of the Compact? If any?", he asks with only a momentary glance away from Orazio to take in his surroundings. He surveys the vicinity around himself before again the knight's attention returns to settle onto Orazio.
Merek looks to Orazio for a moment, after his statement, and dips a small nod. He then turns to Avary, and looks at the woman, before he approaches, "I have a question... Why were people excommunicated? Especially those of such High Birth? It is rare, and I've heard it's not been done in well, more than a generation," he admits.
Darrow looks over to Jeremiah, a frown coming easily to his lips. "The Sentinel demands truth be spoken, and your statement does not reflect truth." He gestures to the ex-regent. "Soon after the Dominus's proclamation, she named him traitor, and named many members of the Faith misguided."
Calypso inclines her head lightly at the answer. She opens her mouth to retort with a follow up, but Orazio more or less speaks her mind. She nods to him then. "Good intentions often lead to terrible actions. Thank you both." She says to the Archlector and the Legate.
Pietro bounces backward a little on his heels, chewing thoughtfully on the inside of his cheek as he cants his head to one side. "Is nobody going to ask what happened at the Night's Grove?" He asks suddenly, as though he's been holding it in with extremely limited success for whole MINUTES.
"The laws of our faith prohibit the use of blood magic, and those High Lords supported it," Avary answer, simply, to Merek.
Aleksei lifts his fist to his mouth to stifle the laugh that threatens to escape him at Pietro's question. He manages to limit himself to a huff of breath.
Orazio gives Rymarr a long, thoughtful look. "The punishment for an act of treason, Sir Rymarr, should be determined by the Crown or its chosen representative. While I am quite certain that the Sentinel has an act in mind, I do not claim to be able to read the Watcher's mind, nor do I think it is within the Faith's proper authority to judge such a trespass, unless asked by the Crown."
Avary's gaze slides towards Dawn at Pietro's question. However bouncingly it was asked, it still counts, apparently
"... Blood Magic, that is what is said to be the domain of Demons, correct?" Merek posits, while he seems to consider. "That is quite the Transgression," he admits, while he folds his arms. "But, I have heard the people speak. Still. Excommunicated or not... Was what they did, right?" he asks. Fearing no reprecussion for his question. He looks to Pietro after a moment.
"Then so be it--I misremember," Jeremiah offers apologetically to Darrow, nodding sharply--he takes the reproval in stride. "There were a flurry of loudly-screamed proclamations all at once," he does remark.
Merek checked composure against difficulty 15, resulting in 14, 1 lower than the difficulty.
"I did speak against the Dominus. It was not the first time the Dominus has made overt attempts to seize secular power for himself and so I named him this, as I would any who sought to seize my brother for their own gain," Dawn confirms of calling the Voice of the Gods himself a traitor. Quiet confirmation-- but truthful. And then, a smile for Lord Igniseri, though its curve is subdued. "Lord Pietro. Shall I speak of what happened in the Night's Grove, then? There was a shocking lack of blood involved in that blood magic. No knives, no altars, no pain."
Merek has a brief worried break in facade which shows in his gaze, upon his question, but he quickly schools it in.
A bow of the head casts a respectful nod in return to Orazio's response, then Rymarr's head lifts and his attention returns to the mass of those asking questions of one another. Rymarr's right hand lowers to reside atop the pommel of the blade at his right side, his thumb slowly tracing the sigil of the King's Own worked there. Slowly the helmet of the man returns to regard Dawn, his jaw set and teeth pressed together while he watches in silence. Only briefly does his focus turn away from Dawn to regard Orazio and Avary, then again his focus returns to observing Dawn in outright silence.
"I imagine regression and progression to be like the seasons. We fall, we gather ourselves up, we struggle toward the ideas and ideals. But," Fortunato adds toward Jeremiah, "I think remembering the struggles is important, too. Means as well as ends. We are all terribly imperfect. After all." He stops, though, distracted, his eyes fixing, curious, on Dawn.
Felix lets his question go unanswered, seemingly uninterested in the happenings at Night's Grove. Rather, he backs away from the group and makes his way back towards the entrance. There will be another time to get that answered.
Kima, too, turns her attention towards Dawn. Her expression is thoughtful, though without any particular emotion - be it rancor, sympathy, or admiration.
Glory, a deerhound have been dismissed.
Planchet, a young valet have been dismissed.
Well, Aleksei's expression is certainly overtly curious when he looks over to Dawn.
Orazio listens, quietly. His face a polite mask. No question was asked of him, so he's not saying a godsdarned thing.
Vincere stirs to give Dawn his full and grave attention -- after turning his gaze up skyward at Pietro's bluntness. To Dawn, he asks, "Please." All ears.
Merek seems to leave his question behind, at least for now, until he has heard Dawn out. He looks that direction, while he pulls his cloak to him.
Hadrian watches Dawn, if only because she speaks.
Dawn takes a breath and looks at the statue of the Sentinel. Right. She collects herself and relates, "When we arrived, the army of the Nox'alfar were arrayed for battle. There were twenty thousand Shav'arvani outside of the Grove, to its north. We slipped in from the south and they were battle ready, anticipating the incursion of Bringers with their corrupted tens of thousands. I presented myself to King Calithex. He turned me aside but greeted Lady Nekarris as a ward who had lived within the Night's Grove as a child. Their agent here in Arx. He welcomed her and accepted her sacrifice, and those of the King's Own. Not mine." She pauses. "He killed a Nox'alfar to source the blood which made the ring in which they stood. And then he waved his hand. Nekarris fell dead, no marks, no sound from her. As she did, her soul rose from her body. Light and... she was smiling. Bounding. The ring had become a portal, I could see the Shining Lands, and Elysia beyond. But the beginning of the ritual lowered the protection of the Night Grove and the Bringers' armies were pouring in. The Nox'alfar went to the meet them while Calithex continued. One after the other. But as the souls tried to pass through the portals, there were demons rising from below. Trying to stop them. Explosions in the distance, where Nox'alfar came into contact with Bringers... they combust when that happens. Destroyed, completely. Thirteen souls. It took so long and then last... they were almost on us, the Bringers. The Crimson Swords took up arms, they fought, and died, to buy those last minutes."
"... The Mirror was rent?" Merek asks, after a moment, not seeming to be surprised with some of this information. People can take that how it is taken, while he quirks his brow a small bit.
For the first time, Orazio decides to ask a question of his own. To Dawn, he says, "Did the King give you a reason why your sacrifice was unacceptable? And if so, what was that reason?"
"You could see the Shining--" Fortunato is excellent at catching himself mid-question, as if that somehow negated it. Too-late restraint, but restraint. For at least a moment.
Avary, apparently, is content to remain silent as others ask the Faceless God's questions, as others offer their truths to this vigil. The Archlector remains witness, remains watcher. An impartial judge to the proceedings as she ensures questions are answered.
Kima looks to the men to either side of her; Hadrian and Rymarr. She folds her arms, bows her head forward so as to obscure her expression as she considers something. Yet when Orazio speaks, Kima can only smile ruefully. Seemed she needn't say anything after all!
Fortunato's clipped question earns a further curl of her lips.
Dawn ducks her head, rubs a finger along the bright, healing skin marring her cheek. The fingers of her other hand twitch at her side. "It was not just rent. It was open. A shining doorway through which mouths of teeth and bodyless eyes tried to come, to take the souls. But they made it through. Safe." Another pause. "He did, Father. He said it would be foolish of him to kill me. And then he named the Lady Lorelai his Voice in Arx, to answer further questions for him. To negotiate for the approach of the Goddess Death for the awakening of my brother. To speak for him. To explain. To share out the alaricite."
Aleksei listens to Dawn's story with rapt, focused interest. He doesn't voice the questions that Merek and Fortunato do, but it's clear he's wondering about the same things. At the mention of the alaricite his mouth suddenly twists into a faint frown, and he leans back against the wall.
"..." Merek's silence is audible as a small breath. He watches Dawn, his optimistic golden gaze, kind as it is, seems to stare the woman down. Not on purpose, nor for any slight, but something deep seems to be on his mind under the hood of the cloak. He reaches up, and touches his small mirror, which he holds up and checks, then drapes back around himself.
"Was that so difficult, Princess?", Sir Rymarr can be heard, his words directed toward Dawn. He makes no effort to hide his voice among the crowd. Instead the knight of the King's Own actively takes a step forward in order to separate himself from others. He continues with his question once he's free of other bodies around himself, "I inquired with you how His Majesty's men died, specifically to provide me with some solace at the loss of the men under my command. Instead you took offense at my blunt nature and could not even provide me with a simple 'they died well and without pain'. Instead demanding that I make my inquiry to the Lord Commander. Was it difficult for you to tell Lord Pietro, all of those gathered in fact, as much now?" Rymarr asks with a neutral tone. The manner of the knight remains stoic, yet he remains unyielding in his position as a hand lifts to ward off his own words, "No, no, please do not answer. Allow me to ask another question. Princess Dawn Grayson, former Regent to His Imperial Majesty, King Alaric Grayson IV. Have you, at any point, sought to prevent yourself from being removed from that position of Regent by suppressing information that would have surely saw you removed and another installed to place? Another who would be, by rights, entitled to that position?"
Hadrian says, "What're we, interrogating the woman?"
"Asking questions that you demand not be answered seems contrary to the point of the exercise," Pietro points out. Though the dryness of his voice now is directly at odds from his presentation before, and might well be disregarded as a sham at dignity he just doesn't have.
"Sir Rymarr, I asked that you open yourself to truths," Avary warns. Her gaze slides between the princess and the knight. "Harping on the past does not do so." She inclines her chin towards Hadrian, adding, "This is not an interrogation. This is a vigil. Questions may be asked, but only if you would /hear/ their answers. Answers may be given, but only if you speak the truth. And every question should bring you closer to the Sentinel's watch. Thank you, my lord."
"Forgive my ignorance on these matters--but I have been told the Silence still spreads. You said the Teind was a shield that -stops- the spread of the Silence," Jeremiah begins rather simply and loudly towards Dawn. "Yet--I am told the Silence still spreads. These two facts--your words on the Teind--are mutually exclusive. Or--does the Silence not still spread?"
"... So then, still I must ask... What happened to all those that Night, was it... For the right?" Merek asks, allowing his voice to pick up all of the sudden, and throwing back the hood of his cloak, "Was the sacrifice needless, or was it a necessity?" he asks, looking to all. "The Faith claims one thing, while people whisper in the dark another. That is no way to come together as a people."
Dawn's eyes finally shift from Sentinel's statue, under lifted brows as she finds Rymarr in the crowd. "I told you that I had given full report to your commanding officer, Sir Rymarr. I took no offense. I told you quite politely of that report and answered you in any case. I have maintained from the start, Sir, that I did not wish to be Regent, nor Queen either, though many have urged me to supplant my brother to be just that since his Rest began. Many in this shrine have heard me say so, and the gods have as well." She stares at him, mouth set firmly. "So I ask a question in turn. You hear the voices of the dead urging you to endanger yourself and those around you to seek glory and immortality in fame. Whatever I kept from you, sir, was in the interest of preserving my life and my brother's, from your delusions. Have they told you these lies? Have you believed them?"
Hadrian respectfully bows his head a little toward Avary, falling quiet, though grinding his teeth just a little as question after question is fired.
Orazio gives Avary a look. He moves over, quietly, to stand beside her and whisper in her ear, his expression still all polite pleasantries.
Dawn turns then towards Jeremiah. "The Silence sleeps. Had it been awakened not one of us would be alive, and Arvum would be a blackened ruin. The Despite still spreads. The Teind does nothing to keep -that- at bay. But it prevents the Bringers from creating more of themselves, among their followers, and it keeps the Silence from awakening, and passing our borders."
Avary's gaze sweeps sharply from Dawn to Rymarr as the princess asks her question, but still, the Archlector does not interrupt. She inclines her head to Orazio, whispering back to her Legate quietly, as she watches.
Fortunato glances at Jeremiah, his expression gone from open excitement to a little wary. He drifts over to speak low to the other man.
"So--the plague and the Silence--they are not one and the same," Jeremiah seeks to confirm. "That is what was said--but misinformation is a wildfire. The Silence is -not- the spreading blight, that is the Despite, as you put it now. The Teind is and was never meant to deal with that, whatever we were told?" he inquires. "When was this discovered?" Fortunato is probably too late to stop -this-, but he quiets after.
Aleksei's lips twist into a deeper frown at Dawn's words, although it's somewhat sympathetic. He glances at Fortunato for a moment, then at Rymarr with brief curiosity, before it returns to Dawn. He's gnawing fiercely on his bottom lip, clearly wrestling with saying something. He glances at Orazio next.
The return fire question from Dawn seems to phase Sir Rymarr very little, in fact he takes a moment to glance toward Legate Orazio and regard the man in silence. After the span of a pair of breaths, Rymarr's attention returns to Dawn. The helmet which he wears shakes from one side to the other before he answers the questions asked of himself, even going so far as to elaborate upon his answer, "No and no, Princess Dawn Grayson. In fact you have never been a subject of the whispers that I hear from time to time," he answers in his usual stern tone, yet with honesty laden within his words. He then begins to tick off on armored fingers, "Kill Calithex. Kill the spider. Kill the Nox'alfar envoys. Throw myself from Crownguard Tower, hope to land on something worth a heroic death. Save those who delve into the catacombs from the dead they would surely encounter," and upon utilizing all of the fingers and thumb of one hand he begins to count anew on his second hand, "Slay an evil dragon. Begin an investigation of a matter within the palace...shall I go on?", he asks as his helmet lifts in order to stare back at Dawn in silence, awaiting her response. His seven fingers remain extended, as though to maintain his count.
Merek gets book from series of black, belt-attached linen pouches.
"The Bringers carry their own blight. Where they go death follows. The Silence is oblivion itself. Complete and utter destruction that feeds on the magic within us all. On life itself. The Despite is destruction of knowledge. All separate threats, though allied to work against us, it would seem." Dawn turns back to face Rymarr, waiting and impassive of expression. Her voice has not lifted but carries, all the same. "I hear your answer, Sir Rymarr. And I answer mine again: I have never sought to rule, nor do I feel I have that right, for I was never born to it. To serve, to protect, to help, to guard, to defend. But not to rule. Nor have I ever suppressed information that would show otherwise, for my disqualification is the stain of my own birth and my father not allowing me his name... my family too, come to that, for they named me Grayson only when I went to die. I make no claim to the throne. I never have. It is my brother's. I will die for him, if it means he opens his eyes and sees again. What else would you know?"
"What is truth?" Kima ventures, looking to all gathered. "And is truth to be given to all, or is it too precious, too powerful?"
Hadrian glances at Kima.
Merek puts The Sentinel's Uncommon Prayer Book in series of black, belt-attached linen pouches.
Merek seems to settled back, and listening to all the people, as he pulls out a blank book, and writes on it, seeming to look at the local prayers and such to do so. He does continue to listen, seeming pensive.
"I acknowledge your answer, Princess. I will drop the matter as it is not something to be further discussed here. Thank you for your time, though I would like to discuss sensitive matters further with you at your leisure. As indicated by the letter that I sent to you recently," Sir Rymarr says with a stoic bow of his helmed head toward Dawn. Following the words he steps away from the position that he had assumed and attempts to meld again into the mass of those asking questions.
Avary's gaze catches on Orazio as the two murmur together, before she shakes her head slowly and moves to draw away. Her attention turns to Kima again, approval flickering there again. "The Sentinel is the truth and it exists within all of us," she speaks aloud to the woman, drawing the conversation away from Dawn. "We must continue to find it, however, as the truth changes. You must continue to watch and wait. Yet, you must also continue to question, to act as the gods guide you. It is a complicated matter, to be certain."
Hadrian says, "Do you regret it?"
Jeremiah just nods aside to Fortunato, subdued and grim. "I--still do not know when the difference was discovered--the Teind was to deal with one-and-all, as we were told--the Teind would answer the -plague-. The Silence -was- the plague. It is not so"--mostly to Fortunato, perhaps to Dawn--"but I do not know when the difference was discovered, nor if the misleadings were intentional. I ask not to persecute Dawn, but as a man intending to discover when and where we were mislead. Is it the Nox'Alfar who lead you to believe that? When did you discover it was otherwise?"
A few soft words to Fortunato then follow.
Merek stands up after a moment, and approaches Avary, before he kneels a small amount, "Thank you for hosting this Vigil. I feel it has enlightened me, and I wanted to offer my gratitutde to you, and to The Sentinel," he offers. He then stands up, and inclines respectfully.
Once Merek stands, he also moves to Orazio in quiet repose, and offers him a small pouch, "A donation to the Faith... It is not much," he admits.
Orazio steps away from the Archlector as she steps away from him, returning to his parade rest. "An interesting question," he adds, to Kima, with a faint smile, "and I would also add that we often latch on to things and declare them truth without adequately testing them. This creates disinformation, which creates fear and injustice. Sharing untested 'truths' without regard for the consequences is not the Sentinel's justice...even if people really, really want to know." He blinks at Merek, and his offer. The offering is taken with a bow of gratitude. "It is not necessary, Master Merek. But if it is desired that this be donated, then I will put it towards the restoration of the shelter in the Lower Burroughs, myself."
Avary is overheard condemning Felix for: One wonders when he became an expert of Faith, to know how to conduct a vigil for the Sentinel.
Dawn waits a moment longer and then, with no further questions posed, folds her hands at her waist and turns to listen. Silence, it seems, suits her as well as the flurry of words that had preceded it. Her gaze drifts back to the statue and there she fixes her eyes, watching, and being watched in turn.
Hadrian looks toward Dawn, "That's the only question I have."
Merek is overheard praising Avary for: The Vigil and the allowances for us to put forth what we heard, cleared up many answers. She is a true example of one of the Pantheon's Faithful.
"Thank you, faithful," Avary tells Merek as he comes in front of her, her hand lifting to place on his head only for a moment in a gesture of blessing before he is moving on.
"Did she?" Fortunato answers Jeremiah aloud. His complexion has gotten a little worse. He turns his attention back toward Kima with a small, sharp laugh. "Truths are fearful and vulnerable and change by the telling. We have lost so much knowledge, we scrabble at fragments. Those fragments are powerful, but so many of them, I don't know what they mean." He glances back toward Jeremiah. "Sometimes, we don't really know. Not yet."
"Intentionally or otherwise? Yes;" This answer is fervent, at least. "There is a thread to be followed--a distinct truth. What the truth means--that cannot be so surely answered, but it -is- there."
He's speaking solely to Fortunato on this, apparently as regards Dawn and his question--that it might double as an answer to Kima's question apparently goes utterly unnoticed.
"I have another question. Can I ask another question? I asked kind of a big question. I don't want to be a question hog," Pietro says, somewhere between earnest and confused. He scrubs his hand at the back of his neck.
"Thank you," Merek offers to Avary when he is blessed. To Orazio, "It is well appreciated. In these dark times, the Faith must be an example for all. And all must come together." He looks to others, seeming to mull over his thoughts, and he does leave with words, "While you all learn in this Vigil... I hope the most important thing it does, is clear your minds. Darkness still remains in the world, and we are not out of the proverbial woods as of yet. Keep your fellow man in mind and heart." He then turns to depart, pulling the hood to his cloak up. He looks to Pietro, "I'm sure they won't tell you no," he offers, with a grin, looking back to the Faithful with a wink. Then he is moving to the exit.
Kima approaches the Legate, and murmurs something privately to the taller man before acknowledging all those others who had spoke up to answer the question she had posed to the congregation at large with a bow of her head.
"You may ask another question," answers Avary, tipping her chin in agreement for Merek's words even as the man leaves.
Pietro folds his arms in a loose cross of his chest, shifting his weight into a lean on one hip that bumps his shoulder lightly against his brother's beside him. His chin lifts and, dark eyes bright, he asks: "Legate Orazio, Archlector Avary: how can you tell the difference between the blessing of a god, and a curse?"
Vincere hisses something under his breath at Pietro. He looks somewhere between exasperated and amused. It's complicated.
This question, Avary defers to Orazio. She slides a look across the crowd to her Legate, but moves to a quiet group asking each other questions in whispers, just to ensure that everything is ok there.
Dawn takes a moment longer-- assembling her answers, no doubt, before turning back. Her eyes go to Hadrian. "I regret not dying. I do not regret going. What I saw defies description but it was truth. The Silence sleeps still and Arvum lives now, to wrestle with the rest, because of it." She pauses for a beat before adding, "I would, perhaps, have handled the announcement of how I meant to do things differently though," and then turns to Jeremiah. "What misinformation was and is out there was not done intentionally, at least not by me. The bringers carry their own blight. The Silence is something else, a plague of oblivion. I discovered this in the days before the Assembly and told the High Lords immediately. What they did with that information, I do not know. The Teind was to keep back the Silence, to bar the bringers, to protect us for thirteen times thirteen years. But when it was interrupted, the bringers have been reproducing because they could. Thousands died at the Night's Grove, thousands of their numbers. But no, it did not do for one and all."
Orazio gives Kima a puzzled look. He leans closer to her, and whispers something in return, before turning his gaze to Pietro. This question makes him smile, just a little. "The gods do not give curses, although their blessings may be a deep and weighted burden." His eyes sweep the assembled, without lingering over any one person. "From those who labor under them, sometimes the distinction may be difficult. Even a blessing may bring pain. The pain of responsibility. The pain of knowing that you are called to do /something/, but perhaps not knowing what that thing is, or whether you are capable of it. The pain that following that path might inflict on others, even if you know it. But...ultimately, the gods do not curse. If you are touched by one of the true gods of the Pantheon, it is a gift, however difficult it must be to bear."
Fortunato glances from Dawn to Jeremiah. "Perhaps that's what it means. The spread not completely quelled because of interruption. I wish I knew. Wish we really know. Keeping the Bringers back now, that we know we have to do." As the artist expresses his uncertainty, his eyes stray to Orazio, somber, receptive. He scratches under his chest, a distracted motion.
Something in Orazio's answer has Aleksei exhaling a quiet puff of air, almost but not quite a wry laugh. He lifts a hand to rake through his hair, mouth setting crookedly, and then he looks back to Dawn. There's a question in his gaze as he gnaws his lip, but he's all the way in the back, so.
Kima nods to the Legate, then returns to stand beside Hadrian and Rymarr.
Pietro narrows his gaze slightly with more rue in his smile. He says, "I was almost going to say 'are you sure', but -- yeah. Okay. Thank you, Father." He lets his breath trickle past his teeth, and nudges Vincere's foot lightly with his own.
Hadrian looks all the more satisfied with Dawn's answer.
Agitation comes over Jeremiah's features, openly, as he listens to Dawn--he does not press past that, thought. "Would that the Nox'Alfar were here to answer to some misleading and untruths, then," he voices rather softly, mostly to Fortunato. "It will do, though," he permits at the end, shaking his head in that agitated frustration.
Jeremiah breaks from by Fortunato, starting to approach Avary, fidgeting with his buttons as he nears.
Avary watches, only tipping her chin in welcome for the man's approach. "Yes?" she questions, quietly, to Jeremiah.
Darrow remains in vigil, quiet and sternly reserved. His reflecting-pool eyes absorb the questions and answers as they are given, for the moment, the man remains silent.
Orazio smiles back at Pietro. "In this, I am sure." It's a touch rueful, himself. Other than that, the Legate stands alone, now that Kima has left, quiet and stern. The latter might be his natural place in life, though.
"We have no choice but to discover, Jeremiah. Your burning warranted," Fortunato says after the younger man, then subsides into silence in turn, scratching occasionally.
A brief conversation seems to take place between Kima and Rymarr. A series of hushed words shared between the two. Finally Sir Rymarr's helmet shifts, effecting a nod toward the Baroness. Afterward the knight of the King's Own turns away, angling toward the exit from the shrine, his right hand lowers to reside atop the pommel of the blade at his side. Shoulders squared, back straight, and the wolverine fur cloak draped over his shoulders nearly brushing the floor as it sways with his movements.
"A--question, I suppose. Part-question. Part-request. But these are the sorts of things men let lie and put off--I am young, I may afford to do that. But--in the Shrine of the Sentinel, in the Vigil? Well. If I let this chance pass, I suppose I would never do so."
"Might I begin a conversation with you about Discipleship under the Sentinel?" he then rather formally inquires of the Archlector, openly nervous as he fidgets with his vest's buttons.
Kima is overheard praising Avary for: A worthy Archlector of the Sentinel.
At Jeremiah's question, Orazio's stern mask breaks, at last, into a warm and approving smile. He doesn't /quite/ do a touchdown dance in his robes, though, but from the width of that pleased expression, it's close.
Aleksei smiles, faint and wry, at Jeremiah's question, and then he finally draws away from the wall to slowly and discreetly approach Dawn. He's careful about it, conscious of her guards nearby and not wanting to seem a threat. But he sets himself within her line of view with a questioning look as he shuffles a bit nearer.
"Come, speak with me," is Avary's simple answer. Her fingers brush against the younger man's elbow, and she draws him to a quiet corner to ask him hushed questions for the moment. The vigil will continue. There is no rules nor etiquette for staying nor leaving nor entering. Only, one must answer any question posed. The Archlector stays the entire time, though for now, it is with a focused intent on Jeremiah.
Squee, the Flying Squirrel arrives, following Darren.
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