Blademaster's Office <Fastheld Keep>
- This chamber serves as Blademaster Hartnek Lomasa's official private space on this level of the barracks, where one can meet with individual soldiers and visiting dignitaries, but it isn't designed for frequent occupation. It has a few wooden chairs, a writing desk with inkwell and quill, and a tapestry featuring images depicting an assault on the fortress by werebeasts some three centuries ago.
War! That mad game the world so loves to play. The nature of that game isn't always clear cut, either, for one does not usually require two people hitting each other with sharp objects for a war to be declared. A war of words, of words, between emotions; wars each and every one. And now, on the fifth hour by the Shadow on Idleforge, the 28th day of Greening, as the cool evening descends upon the Empire outside, Justiciar Soravyn Zahir his own personal war.
A war against paperwork.
The Blademaster's desk seems full of it: A tome here, a few sheets of parchment there, a very curious paperweight shaped in the likeness of a Drake, and a small army of quills ready to defend the realm against legislation and Light only knows what else. Of course, taking pride of place upon this desk, one can find a substantial amount of space left free for the Lady's Wing to sleep on.
The Justiciar himself is sat behind this desk upon a comfortable chair that seems like it was liberated from one of the Royal Suites, rather than native to the office itself. Crimson armor, polished to a perfect shine, is quite present upon his form, while those steel-blue eyes have lost none of their vigor as Soravyn himself looks towards the door, and the ingression of the Marshal.
With a click, the door to the study is open and in enters Marshal Lucius Nepos, his own Lorica's Soul hardly standing out in the way the Justiciar’s crimson red amour shines to the eye. Never one to be depressed by this little fact, Lucius offers a crisp salute to the 'deputy' Blademaster, approaching the desk. "Good afternoon, sir."
"Marshal." The Justiciar returns, offering all due respect even if his expression - and, indeed, his tone in general - are what one could quite easily describe as nonchalant. "Come to fight the good fight against the legions of documentation, have you?"
A smirk appears to be tugging its way out of Lucius's mouth, ever so slightly. "Well, I'll certainly do my part, sir. Just tell me where to go and what hill to take." The Marshal motions at the stacks of paper, in general, tone what could be called amused.
The Wolf sighs, finally smiles himself, and leans fully back in his chair. The quill is promptly forsaken at the edge of the battle lines, covered in rich black blood. "Taking it all outside and burning it would be my first option." he notes, dryly, "Or hiring someone to do it... for me." He regards the paperwork, and then Lucius, but then shakes his head. "No," he murmers, "Not you. You're better than paperwork. So, Marshal, what can this subservient officer of the Empire help you with?"
"I'll get to the point of this visit, then. May I sit?" Although Lucius asks this question, he does not seem to wait for the answer, simply continuing on and assuming that the Justicar will answer it later. "I've come to make sure that the troops under my former command, the Flying Daggers, are transferred to more than spinning in circles, sir. For instance, the other day I walked in to find Guardian Harper, one of my longstanding comrades, ordered to guard the Hall of Blades. Not the outside, though, but the inside. He was told to simply stand by the gong for a few hours. It is apparent that the Marshal of the palace does not trust us, but I do not know why."
"Almost a promotion." The Justiciar notes, apparently caring little if Lucius stands or sits without his permission. Evidently, Soravyn isn't one of /those/ Captains. "In all fairness, Marshal, the Flying Daggers were a disaster, and through no fault of your own. You and your boys were wasted on that assignment, and we both know it. With the exception of the Wildlands expedition, that is." The Wolf offers a slight incline of his head at that; an expression both of respect towards the reported exploits of the officer sat across from him during that adventure, and a concession of at least one point.
"Regardless, you were wasted talent then, and you're wasted talent now, from the sound of it. Who marshals the Palace Blades right now?" One might assume that while Soravyn now commands the entire Military, he isn't quite up to speed on the daily changes of what's going on around him.
Lucius Nepos does indeed take his seat now, leaning his tower shield against the Justicar's desk. It's not like /that/ thing is going to be moving, anyways, with three tons of paperwork on it. "I agree. Most of the time we were left to mull around the palace doing the menial tasks that all Blades do. We lacked focus, since we were considered general purpose, sir."
Lucius pauses to think on Soravyn's question. "Marshal Ean Mudgrass, I do believe. My question, then, sir, is what would you consider to be a fitting assignment for these soldiers?"
Soravyn takes a few moments to consider that, watching Lucius intently all the while. His gaze flickers to the Greatsword that rests upon his desk for a short while, soon followed by a somewhat defeated sigh. "That /is/ the question, isn't it." he asks; a statement, rather than a question. That steel gaze falls upon the Marshal across from him once more. "I suppose a better question would be: What do YOU consider a fitting assignment for them? They're your boys, Marshal, you know them best."
"Flash raids. When bandits need to be destroyed, they can do that. When important people need to be protected, they have the cohesion and experience to do that. Insurrection, Light forbid the Realm comes to that." Lucius leans back in the seat, causing it to creak a little bit under the weight of the armored man.
"They would do well as a unit under the personal command of you, sir, as officers of my grade do not have what we call sight of the big picture, so to speak. The Justiciar does. I do suppose this sounds much like what the Daggers were... just that it would have to be done properly. What do you think, sir?"
"I think it sounds a lot like what the Tribunal does every day, Marshal." His tone and expression unreadable, the Justiciar gives his verdict. "Which is to say that you would have to exchange the silver for the crimson, and we'd do away with the "Flying Daggers" unit." He pauses once more, musing over the options further. "And I would imagine that not all of your boys would be suited for it. Too many pups among the wolves in that Unit. Far too many." He shakes his head. "Still, would that be more suited to what you had in mind?"
"Perhaps, sir. I do not know if I could even be a part of the unit - the Emperor assigned me to protect the Chamberlain, never mind that she has the forrester Fionnlagh now. In my experience, anyways, they make better bodyguards - more subtle." That aside, Lucius shrugs. "The Flying Daggers are, as you and His Highness have said, essentially useless. I am in agreement with that. Would our soldiers be better off in the Tribunal? I do not know. It is the Tribunal which deals on the political side of the realm, more."
"Which is no different to what you're doing now, as I understand it." The Justiciar notes, all measured tones and clear words. Casually, he rests his hands upon the desk in front of him. "But I understand the lure of being out in the field more than wandering through the urban wilderness of our various Townships, and guarding the Throne Room /does/ get dull. No more so than attempting to win a ceaseless battle against a horde of legislation, alas." A lament for the lost quills. "Still, the Chamberlain..." Believe it or not, Soravyn actually laughs. "Perhaps the most amusing thing that Zolor could have done. I imagine she's strutting around as if she owns the place?"
"To a degree. She's performing her duties with the same capacity as she did as Surrector. I must say that I do not like having to follow her almost every move... it's not as if I could fade into the shadows, in any case." Lucius shrugs. "Would there be a possibility of operating in both areas, urban and field, wherever needed? Like we have spoken, sir, the Daggers were a failure, but not because their mission was malformed, but because the execution was."
The Justiciar shakes his head a little; though whether at the concept of Tomassa Zahir as a Chamberlain, or at Lucius's question, is anyone's guess. "The problem is that we don't incorporate the Rangers into the Tribunal, nor did we incorporate the Archers and Light Infantry before them. Those areas aren't really what we deal with, so perhaps the Tribune isn't quite the place that you'd work best in after all."
He raises a hand, palm towards the Marshal, to quickly stall any counter. "Suffice to say that still leaves us with the question of what to do with you. And, considering what you're /currently/ doing, we should do so before you leave this room."
"I agree, sir." Lucius offers another smile before letting out a brief chuckle at the absurdity of the situation. "As you've pointed out, the Tribunal is composed of the best infantry in the Empire. However, when dealing with a diverse range of assignments, diversity is needed." Lucius nods, confirming the information in his head that Soravyn has conveyed. "Tell me, sir, do you ever have problems that lie outside the scope of the Tribunal? Outside their expertise?"
"Not the best infantry, Marshal. Just the ones that are more suited to our kind of work, or that can no longer accomplish some of the duties that an average Blade may be able to accomplish. We have quite a few older Blades that can't keep up with the younger officers, and some who have suffered wounds that no longer permit them to do that which they once did. Archers who lost a hand, Rangers with shattered ankles, you get the idea."
Though quick to point this out, Soravyn has not lost track of the initial question. "Which leads me to the answer to your question: No, as what we don't deal with the Blades do instead, thus it no longer becomes out problem. As you yourself, diversity is the key."
"Yes. While many units of the Blades are posted to certain regions and perform their requisite duties, patrol, keeping the law, et cetera, none of them can enter a crisis area when needed. Another reason the Daggers failed was that we were not given the right circumstances for the job." says Lucius.
He continues after a brief pause. "It is apparent that since the Emperor has ascended to the throne, sir, that there is unrest around the Empire. Garrisons are stretched thin with the plethora of duties they must complete, with the variety of postings they must stay at and by attrition. While theoretically a garrison has two thousand soldiers, those two thousand soldiers are posted all throughout the garrison's zone of operation, making any sort of cohesive movement extremely difficult. Why not then have a unit that could report to the Captains of the garrisons and help them with any knots they have, when not performing duties directly for the Tribunal or Blademaster?"
"Well, I've long argued that thirteen thousand men isn't enough to cover the entire Empire, even /with/ them spread across the additional Forts and Outposts. And with the north just about ready to declare war on the rest of the Imperium - thanks to Sirius and his damn misguided morality - you have a certain logic about you." Fingers tap against the hard wood of the desk as the Justiciar considers the options. Where he's finding the options is a case for conjecture to follow up, but he seems to be thinking them up from somewhere. "So, what you're suggesting is a "Courier" unit?"
"Essentially. I like that term because it reflects on how mobile the unit will be, though of course we won't be delivering a nobleman's handwritten messages. Although I do suppose we /will/, in a certain way." The Marshal chuckles dryly. "We would first serve the highest authority within the military, and then as necessary its Captains."
The Justiciar leans back in his chair once again, folding his arms across his chest with a 'clink' of steel upon steel, and tilting his head a little to the side as he regards Lucius with that steel-blue gaze. Apparently, the Captain has been snared by the concept. "A roving unit, free to wander and solve the Empire's little problems as and when they come across them. I have to admit that I'm taken by the idea."
"I am glad to hear that you like the idea, sir. An Empire is never without problems that need solving, whether of the gravely serious nature or things slightly more benign." Lucius returns the Justiciar’s gaze evenly, adding, "If the proper logistics could be set up, it could most certainly work. Given the quality of our quartermasters, I have little concern for that... and if we were deep within the field, well, we're trained to forage and hunt for food as much as necessary."
"Very well then." Soravyn finally declares, and the fact that the usually nonchalant Justiciar is smiling can only be a good thing. "I'll draw up the required documents. It should take a day or two for it be processed by the Tribunal and the Census Office, but before the weekend is out you'll have the title of Imperial Monitor of the..." He trails off, thinking, the dusty-blue blade upon the desk in front of him drawing his attention. At length, the Zahir Wolf smiles. "The Justiciar's Wings or the Justiciar's Claws; I'm not quite sure. Any other suggestions?"
"I do like the Justiciar's Claws, for it is the paw of a wolf that reaches out to bat danger out of its face, and the claws that act as the paw's tools. Perhaps a first assignment could be to bring understanding to the North Aegis garrison? Surely even they must agree that having an Emperor on the throne is vastly superior to none at all." Lucius says. He too seems satisfied by the arrangement. "If you have a few more moments, I'd like to ask you a couple of unrelated questions."
Soravyn shakes his head at the request, "No, leave the North Aegis Garrison to Iselore. He and Sirius are old friends, and Sirius is stubborn. Anyone too official will probably cause him to do something drastic, and preventing drastic things are what this has all been for. We'll just have to hope that Zolor doesn't do anything to provoke him." Hands back on the desk now, one atop the other, and elbows resting there too, it seems, Soravyn then merely nods for Lucius to continue.
"Ah. It speaks much to their capacity as leaders, then, if even in conflict they consider each other friends. I have seen such things ruin friendships too many times, as rust will ruin a good blade." The Marshal finally decides to remove his helmet - why he's only thought of this now, who knows? "When I swore allegiance to the Emperor, I asked if the Blademaster would remain in his position... I got the cryptic answer of, 'We'll see'. This makes me worry, sir, since he's apparently disappeared in the past few days, despite the lockdown of the palace. Do you know what happened to him?"
"For your safety and mine, Lucius, that's a question you're better off not asking." The Justiciar sighs for a moment, clear regret in his gaze, even if his expression reveals nothing of the sort. "However, since you asked it, I'll give you the answer of "That's none of your concern", and we'll leave it at that." A pause. "You'll just have to trust me."
Lucius Nepos nods at the Justicar, gaze becoming downcast for a few short moments before it returns to eye level. "Aye, I understand. My last question is really quite unrelated to the business of politics. Or so I like to see it as. I obtained a Seraphite shield on my way out of Halo, back when the temple there was destroyed. I've been reprimanded by Bandus Flint for it because it is supposedly 'Touched', since it glows blue. Bandus Flint is also the deputy head of the Church, until their council decides to make an appearance. If it is still intact. Nevertheless, I was wondering what the official line is on that type of thing?" The Marshal motions at the Lady's Wing.
"There isn't one." Soravyn states with a smile; an expression that, after that of the topic that came before it, seems akin to a break in the clouds on an otherwise rainy day. "However, if Bandus Flint wants to take issue with it, he can come and talk to me. Perhaps he and my fists will have a discussion regarding the nature of the Light." He shrugs, quite innocently, and for a moment an entirely feral smirk caresses his chiseled features; one touch of that wolfish personality.
"Perhaps not. Regardless, the Lady's Aegis and the Lady's Wing all came from the same location, did they not? Under the Citadel of Halo, the former bastion of the Church of True Light." He leaves it at that, smiling all the while.
"That is true. Amusing that they are branded Shadowed artifacts when they shed light, literally, on all around. I never believed that they were Shadowed because I knew that he was a zealot and out for personal prestige." The Marshal rises up from his seat, once more putting his helm on his head. "It seems to have worked, given his current position. I am glad that we got to speak, sir, and that you are a man of reason and strategy. I look forward to working under you."
Soravyn inclines his head in quiet acceptance of the compliment. It's an action that forces him to look at the paperwork on the Blademaster's desk, however, and an action that causes the Wolf to balk at the notion of going back to /that/ after the recent distraction. Thus, quite unexpectedly, the Justiciar stands. He then proceeds to retrieve the Lady's Wing from the desk and, with a fluid motion that hints at years of practice, flips the relatively light blade around so that it slides quite happily into the baldric upon his back.
"I have an idea," he states, watching Lucius, "Why don't we see how the Prince is doing?"
The smile that lights up Lucius's face is immediate and glowing; if teeth could give off light, the two soldiers would likely be blinded. Realizing how stupid he must look in front of his superior, the Marshal consciously dims his parted lips until it is more of a smirk. "I have wished to see the Prince ever since I heard he had returned... which was only a few days ago, already after the coup."
The Justiciar moves around the desk with a level of grace that does justice to his persona; he measured pace the hallmark of a veteran warrior and a master of the weapon upon his back. "I had him locked in there for his own good, but this is something that remains between the two of us. If he wasn't under lock and key, Zolor would probably be dead now, along with most of the Palace, myself, and half of the Empire. Knowing Serath."
He moves to take the lead, but before he reaches the door to the Blademaster's office, promptly halts. "Lucius," he notes, his voice taking on a serious edge; that of a wolf speaking to a member of his pack. "When I make you Imperial Monitor of this unit, and you choose your men, you report to me alone. Do you understand? Not Zolor, not Tomassa, not to the other Captains, to me. That includes taking orders... except in Zolor's case. If Zolor asks you to do something, then humor him by all means. If he asks you do something that goes against Imperial Law, you come to me right away. Are we clear?"
"We are clear, sir. I wish to do my duty and uphold the law... politics and myself have never mixed, and I fear that polarizing myself for one side or another side in a conflict would simply lead to a breakdown of order. Not just myself, I mean, but the Blades. We cannot be puppets for outside interests, lest we lose our positions as the defenders of the public." Lucius asserts, nodding at the Justiciar’s pronouncement.
Continued in The One That Got Away
Return to Season 4 (2006)