Victors' Return May 11, 2015 18:03:00 GMT
Post by ashenmoon on May 11, 2015 18:03:00 GMT
The Tircon flowed, sludge-like, beneath the rotten-marble arches of the Kurean bridge. Scattered humps of dried petals congregated in the corners of the streets, leftovers of ceremonies past, days of celebrations. Those days seemed a faint mocking memory now.
The High Palatine of Radiance, the Lord of Light, the right-hand man of the Divine on earth, rode at the head of a troop of his weary and wounded men. Their eyes, like their mounts’, were glazed over, their clothes caked with the dirt of many miles travelled, their minds blank with the events of the days and weeks past. Close behind came the entourage of the Sistorian prince, the knights' expressions locked, faces twisted, not a one of them not marked with injuries.
Past the river the city sprawled, ancient and ingrown, empty dark alleyways cast in perpetual shadow by generations-old stories stacked above, filled with the debris of escape. Emptiness where mere months past tens of thousands hailed the ascent of the Son of Summit, the Suren peacock, to the throne of Palatine, and the renaissance of the Common Faith.
Marialla had been a victory, he told himself. They had held the Republic off longer than anyone had expected. They had fought the enemy’s blasted blasphemies and held their own. Several days had been bought, at the fords, and by the sacrifices of proud Dominii every step of the road since.
Watching the ragged bands of craftsmen affecting repairs to the gap-toothed crenellations of the High Wall, the High Palatine refused to feel… dread.
Smoothly the engraved bronze doors swung silently open, the susurrus of voices beyond flooding their ears as the veterans stepped through, gingerly.
The Curia was in havoc. Alexis Kata, standing and gesturing wildly, tried to make her voice heard as the Lanterns - the side of the Curia aligned with Dawn Lantern - howled protests.
“... and now House Angerau sends only a token force! It is nothing less than treason! Jahimis, Vistis, Herakid, Kata, Suren, all have answered the call - but it is not enough. For all our zeal, defence must be our primary concern until Havsgard and our other allies may relieve us.”
“My brothers of Angerau holds the shield to our right, defending us from still greater dangers. The Nalbin situation must needs be addressed! If the Havsgard fleet was to be redirected...” began the Pater of House Angerau ponderously, before he was drowned out by the Suns.
A jumble of voices, crying this and that - “traitors!”, “attack!”, “defence!” - echoed beneath the vaulted domes. Even at less than half capacity, the noise of the assembly filled the spaces, ringing, reverberating. Familiars screeched inhuman challenges across the forum, and great Daimons, House Spirits, spectated the chaos.
Then a hissing sound, and Black Sun rose from the cushions littering her balcony above the Curia.
“Varantium must be defended!” she rasped, tail of her panther body whipping impatiently. “While you debate, the enemy draws near. We must fortify, and weather this storm. All available forces should be put to preparing the city for siege - destroy the bridges! wall up the gates! - and no more deliberation.”
As Angerau and the Lanterns sputtered, fear gripping their tongues, the Suns beamed - but only for so long.
“The City of Falor is indefensible,” rumbled the bell-tolling tones of Dawn Lantern, silencing all. Seldom did both Seraphs visit the Curia at the same time, but now his robed form appeared on the balcony opposite Black Sun’s. “Nor will I countenance the enemy so close to My Father, the Lord of Light. You must face them in the field.”
Alexis paled. “My Lord Seraph, most Divine… we are your servants…”
“But you fear the enemy. You fear their blasphemy. You fear your own mortality. It is ever thus with Man. But why not ask those who have faced the enemy on the field of battle?”
The Curia suddenly became aware of the High Palatine’s bedraggled party in their midst.
“High Palatine,” drawled Black Sun. “Word of your… success… precedes you.”
“We bid the heroes of Marialla welcome,” declared Dawn Lantern passionlessly. “You have heard enough, Son of Summit. Where stand you on the battle which awaits us?”
Manlia Suren Issander inclined his head, precisely, to the two Seraphs. They would drag him into their games if they could, by refusing him the chance to rest, recover and prepare, to meet him as was his due. But he had pondered this question already, the many long miles since Marialla.
“Exalted Seraphs, honored Curia. I tell you: we must do both. Burn the bridges, take every precaution - but face the enemy head-on nonetheless with all our strength. Aye, I have seen the effect of the enemy’s machinations with my own eyes, and I tell you it is terrible to behold. But far more terrible would it be, to see the faithful of the Dominion hide and cover, while the cannonade of the Republic destroys the city of our forefathers around us! Only by brave and devoted action will the battle ahead be won - this is my judgement.”
“So you would meet them in the fields, then,” Black Sun said.
“I would, yes.”
“You would have us destroy the bridges, wall up our city, and do untold damage - even when you would meet the enemy in combat?” asked Dawn Lantern. “Unacceptable. The well-being of the people of the Dominion is my foremost priority.”
As expected. The High Palatine nodded, “Yes, but-”
Black Sun spat. “I’ve heard enough of this.” She rose to leave.