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Rozharon stood at the doors of Uldwars' keep, wings half-spread in a way that resembled a cape, half-facing the ocean to the south.

As always, she was alone, bringing neither entourage nor announcing her arrival in advance. Her hair hung loose, the same deep, near-blue black as her wings, a contrast to the simple dusky grey of her dress. What was different, though, was the chest by her side that was fixed in midair, as if placed on an unseen surface.

When she had arrived, she had kept a respectful distance from the gate, spending a few minutes appearing to admire the town - in reality, taking account of its the population, activities, and expansion efforts - and only now turned to fully face the keep. With a glance she took in the walls, expression as unreadable as always.

The empress walked forward, the chest beside her gliding with her steps, keeping its position relative to her body consistent.  Hands clasped behind her back, hidden in the folds of her sleeves, the seraph set her gaze on the guards. "Gʀᴇᴇᴛɪɴɢs. I ᴡɪsʜ ᴛᴏ sᴘᴇᴀᴋ ᴡɪᴛʜ Lᴏʀᴅ Uʟᴅᴡᴀʀ."



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"Make way for the Empress! Make way!" The gates opened, and a procession was laid out to honor the monarch as she made her way to the Keep. Lord Uldwar had been informed of her coming, his messengers bringing him word of her arrival, a fact that has brought Oscar nothing but unabashed frustration. 

"She knows. There is no hiding that. Make certain she is welcomed." It was his decree, and so she was.

"This way, Your Grace." Sir Marshall Gamesly said, adorning his plate armor, along with a group of fellow Dogs of War. They were the ones who took the angelic entity and her strange chest into Uldwar Keep, where both Lord and Lady Uldwar waited, sitting upon their seats of power, as civil as they could be, but beneath it all was a tense anxiety. Everything they worked for could be brought down in this one meeting.

"Welcome, Empress Rozharon. We are glad to take you in to our home on this occasion." Oscar said, his tone level, if not cautionary. "What brings you to Misral?"

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They seemed prepared for her arrival - if barely - providing the ceremony that usually failed to accompany her. The gates opened, Rozharon strode through, and the knights led her into the Uldwars' presence.

Here, within, Lord and Lady Uldwar awaited her, seated. They were anxious. She expected nothing less.

Rozharon stopped a respectful distance from the couple, dipping her head in greeting. "Tʜᴀɴᴋ ʏᴏᴜ ꜰᴏʀ ʜᴀᴠɪɴɢ ᴍᴇ. I'ᴠᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴇ ʙʀɪɴɢɪɴɢ ᴀ ɢɪꜰᴛ."

The chest beside her slid through the air, settling before her; squarely between the seraph and her two human hosts. Without a touch from her, there was a sound of wooden parts moving, and the lid clicked open. Within were six ceramic pots, each containing a small, completely black, rose-like bloom of some strange plant with thick, stiff leaves. The blossoms had a strange iridescence; in the right light, a faint golden sheen gave the dark leaves color.

"Hᴏᴜsᴇ Hɪʟᴅᴇʙʀᴀɴᴅ ʜᴀs ᴀ ᴘʀᴀᴄᴛɪᴄᴇ ᴏꜰ ɢɪᴠɪɴɢ ꜰʟᴏᴡᴇʀs ᴀs ᴀ ᴍᴇᴀɴs ᴏꜰ ɢʀᴇᴇᴛɪɴɢ, ᴀs I'ᴠᴇ ʟᴇᴀʀɴᴇᴅ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴍʏ ʀᴇᴄᴇɴᴛ ᴠɪsɪᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇᴍ," the Empress said lightly. This was prelude enough for her visit's purpose - she had conversed with only other house that had signed the constitution. "I sᴜᴘᴘᴏsᴇᴅ I ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʙᴏʀʀᴏᴡ ɪᴛ ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜɪs ᴠɪsɪᴛ ᴀs ᴡᴇʟʟ, ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜ ꜰᴏʀ ᴀ sᴏᴍᴇᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴅɪꜰꜰᴇʀᴇɴᴛ ʀᴇᴀsᴏɴ."

Rozharon gestured the chest. "Sᴀɴɪɢɴɪs ᴇᴄʜᴇᴠᴇʀᴀ. A ɴᴀᴛɪᴠᴇ sᴘᴇᴄɪᴇs ᴛᴏ Tᴀᴇɴ, ᴄᴏᴍᴍᴏɴʟʏ ᴄᴀʟʟᴇᴅ sᴄᴀʀʟɪɢʜᴛ. Cᴀᴘᴀʙʟᴇ ᴏꜰ sᴛᴏʀɪɴɢ sᴀɴsɪᴜᴋ ᴍᴀɢɪᴄ, ᴀɴᴅ ᴀʟᴏɴɢ ᴡɪᴛʜ ɪᴛ, ɪᴛs ʀᴇᴍᴀʀᴋᴀʙʟᴇ ʜᴇᴀʟɪɴɢ ᴘʀᴏᴘᴇʀᴛɪᴇs. Iᴛ sᴇʀᴠᴇs ᴀs ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴇᴍᴇʟʏ ᴇꜰꜰᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴀɴᴀʟɢᴇsɪᴄ ᴀs ᴡᴇʟʟ."

For the first time, the seraph let a smile - somewhat apologetic - form on her lips. "Tʜɪs ɪs ᴀ ɢɪꜰᴛ, ᴏʀ ʀᴀᴛʜᴇʀ, ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴇɴsᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. I ɢʀᴀɴᴛᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴇ Sɪɴɢʟᴀᴄᴇs ɴᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛᴏ ᴀʟʟᴏᴡ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀɪᴛʏ ᴛᴏ ᴍᴏᴠᴇ ꜰʀᴇᴇʟʏ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴇꜰꜰᴏʀᴛs ᴛᴏ ɪᴍᴘʀᴏᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ɪsʟᴀɴᴅs' ɪɴꜰʀᴀsᴛʀᴜᴄᴛᴜʀᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴇᴅᴜᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. I ᴅᴏ ɴᴏᴛ ᴄᴏɴᴅᴏɴᴇ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴠɪᴏʟᴇɴᴛ ᴀᴄᴛɪᴏɴs. I'ᴍ sᴏʀʀʏ ᴛᴏ ʜᴇᴀʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴍᴇɴ sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀᴇᴅ ɪɴᴊᴜʀɪᴇs ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴇɴᴄᴏᴜɴᴛᴇʀ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇᴍ." The words were said simply, formally, with the same tone one would describe the weather.

The pot returned to its place in the chest, which shut its lid, then settled softly on the ground, moving to the side.

In the same patient, unconcerned tone, Rozharon said, "Nᴏᴡ, I'ᴅ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴍᴏʀᴇ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴘʟᴀɴ ᴡʀɪᴛᴛᴇɴ ɪɴ ᴛʜɪs ᴅᴏᴄᴜᴍᴇɴᴛ."

She raised a hand, palm up; the constitution slipped out from within her sleeve, unfolded itself, and turned to face the Uldwars.

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How much did the Hildebrand's tell her, Oscar wondered silently, listening to every words she spoke, not giving anything while she presented her gift. Lord Uldwar was aware of the symbolism behind any given gift, that there was always more to it then what was on the surface. Just as he could discern the purpose of any weapon, so too could he identify what it meant that she was giving these flowers to them.

Flowers with medicinal properties, ones that came from Taen, to heal the pathetic, wounded Ursa Madeans who so desperately needed their help. It wasn't asked for, and it wasn't needed. His men, just like the people of Ursa Madeum, were strong, and could handle whatever pain was thrown upon them, emerging stronger from it. Beneath it all, only Oscar knew what had to be done, what needed to be done, to obtain the trust of the monsters, to get close enough, just close enough, to where they put their guard down for just a second. One second was all anyone needed to slip a blade into your throat, and Oscar almost had that second, if he had only been given enough time. 

"Thank you for the flowers, Your Grace." Cassandra said. "Our daughter, Illyana, she is one of the most talented healers I have seen. I am certain that giving her these will do wonders for her medical practice, and save many lives. You are ever so gracious with your gifts, Rozharon."

It was all just a ploy, that much he knew. True House Hildebrand was known far and wide for their floral gifts, but it was as they said, the prettiest roses had the sharpest thorns. For all that grace and pomp, they would slit one's throat if it meant advancing their own power and status. Every one of the noble families were just as ruthless as the Uldwars were, only they were the ones who didn't turn traitor when it became convenient for them. Convenience was something Oscar despised, and he would rather build his own character than take the convenient way, like the cowards he was forced to grovel to for political support.

"Our homes are still yet in shambles, and you ask what the plan is with that document?" Oscar finally said, his voice commanding, but respectful towards his superiors. "Ursa Madeum has always been ruled by a King or Queen. Since our liberation from the hands of Damien, pirates are sailing freely, the heat is unending, and monsters are lurking within the borders of our very own lands. My own knights, my Dogs of War, were unable to take down a witch who had mysteriously entered into our lands, though not from the outside, almost as if she just appeared, right there in our borders, as if there was a portal from wherever she came from, right here in our midst. The people are frightened, so why not give them something to rally around? something that they know and understand, something that both you and your honorable husband, are able to keep control of, no matter what is placed on their head. I would think that even a stranger to our world such as yourself might appreciate the value of a figurehead that the people put in place, and one who understand who they were loyal to, don't you think?"

The news about the strange necromancer named Lilith had only just recently arrived, and so far was not knowledge the public knew about. Information was a powerful device, a device Oscar had firm control over at this time. His secrets were safe, but what would happen to the integrity of their benevolent rule if the public were to ponder about the competency of their new rulers, who were so careless that they would allow such a dire threat to walk with impunity through the very magic they assured everybody was for their benefit. How many flowers could the angelic woman give, to soothe the discontent of the small folk, as they shouted for answers and justice?

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At the least the wife showed some gratitude. Even if the thanks was superficial, Rozharon directed a nod and a smile in her direction, appreciative. "Tʜᴇ ʟᴇᴀᴠᴇs ʀᴇɢᴇɴᴇʀᴀᴛᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜɪɴ ᴅᴀʏs, sᴏ ʀᴇɢʀᴏᴡɪɴɢ ɴᴇᴡ ʙʟᴏᴏᴍs ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴄʟɪᴘᴘɪɴɢs sʜᴏᴜʟᴅ ʙᴇ ᴇᴀsʏ ᴇɴᴏᴜɢʜ. Uʟᴅᴡᴀʀ's ᴇxᴘᴇʀᴛɪsᴇ ɪs ʙᴀᴛᴛʟᴇ, ᴀs I ᴜɴᴅᴇʀsᴛᴀɴᴅ. I'ᴠᴇ ʜᴇᴀʀᴅ ʏᴏᴜ'ᴠᴇ ᴏꜰᴛᴇɴ ᴄʟᴀsʜᴇᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴘɪʀᴀᴛᴇs. I ʜᴏᴘᴇ ᴛʜɪs ᴡɪʟʟ ʙᴇ ᴏꜰ sᴏᴍᴇ ʜᴇʟᴘ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴏsᴇ ᴍᴀᴛᴛᴇʀs ᴀs ᴡᴇʟʟ."

Oscar, on the other hand, answer her question with one of her own. He was taking that road, then, blaming Taen for their inaction. Among other things, the fact that the heat was one of his concerns caused her some amusement. Perhaps she could get Teresa to send a monsoon this way, if her powers developed enough.

Rozharon tilted her head in a way that suggested puzzlement. "I'ᴍ ɴᴏᴛ sᴜʀᴇ I ᴜɴᴅᴇʀsᴛᴀɴᴅ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴘᴏɪɴᴛ. Yᴏᴜ ʙᴇʟɪᴇᴠᴇ ʀᴇᴛᴜʀɴɪɴɢ Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ ᴛᴏ ɪᴛs ᴘʀᴇᴠɪᴏᴜs sʏsᴛᴇᴍ ᴏꜰ ɢᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴍᴇɴᴛ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ sᴏʟᴠᴇ ɪᴛs ᴘʀᴏʙʟᴇᴍs? Pᴇʀʜᴀᴘs ʏᴏᴜ'ᴅ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴛᴏ ʀᴇᴄᴀʟʟ ɪᴛ's ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴏɴᴀʀᴄʜʏ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʟᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇsᴇ ɪssᴜᴇs ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰɪʀsᴛ ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇ, ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴀʟʟᴏᴡᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴛʏʀᴀɴᴛ ᴛᴏ ɢʀᴀʙ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄʀᴏᴡɴ ᴀs ᴇᴀsɪʟʏ ᴀs ʜᴇ ᴅɪᴅ. Aʙsᴏʟᴜᴛᴇ ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀ ɪs ᴇᴀsɪʟʏ ᴀʙᴜsᴇᴅ, ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ ᴀʟʟ. I'ᴍ ɴᴏᴛ ʙʟɪɴᴅ. I ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴘᴏʟɪᴛɪᴄᴀʟ ʟᴀɴᴅsᴄᴀᴘᴇs sᴜᴄʜ ᴀs ᴛʜᴇsᴇ ʙʀᴇᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀ-ʜᴜɴɢʀʏ."

She extended her hand more, fingers stretching. Smoothly, the document sailed toward the Uldwars, coming to a halt before Oscar. "As Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ ɪs ᴜɴᴅᴇʀ ᴏᴜʀ ʀᴇsᴘᴏɴsɪʙɪʟɪᴛʏ, I ᴡɪsʜ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴇsᴛ ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ɪsʟᴀɴᴅs, ᴀs I'ᴍ sᴜʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅᴏ. Aᴛ ᴘʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ, ʏᴇs, Tᴀᴇɴ ᴍᴀʏ ʙᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴀʙsᴏʟᴜᴛᴇ ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀɪᴛʏ, ʙᴜᴛ ᴀs ʏᴏᴜ ᴍᴀʏ ɴᴏᴛɪᴄᴇ, ᴡᴇ ʀᴇꜰʀᴀɪɴ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ɪɴᴛᴇʀꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴀᴄᴛɪᴠɪᴛɪᴇs ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴏʙʟᴇ ʜᴏᴜsᴇs. Yᴏᴜ ᴀʟʟ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰʀᴇᴇᴅᴏᴍ ᴛᴏ ʀᴜʟᴇ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʀᴇsᴘᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴅᴏᴍᴀɪɴs, ɢɪᴠɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴇᴇᴅᴇᴅ ᴀᴛᴛᴇɴᴛɪᴏɴ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ sᴘᴇᴄɪꜰɪᴄ ᴛᴇʀʀɪᴛᴏʀɪᴇs ᴜɴᴅᴇʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʙᴀɴɴᴇʀs. Sᴏ ꜰᴀʀ, ᴛʜɪs sʏsᴛᴇᴍ ᴅᴏᴇs ᴡᴇʟʟ ᴇɴᴏᴜɢʜ, ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ Eᴍᴘɪʀᴇ ᴏɴʟʏ ᴘᴇʀꜰᴏʀᴍɪɴɢ ᴍɪɴɪᴍᴀʟ ᴀᴅᴍɪɴɪsᴛʀᴀᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴅᴜᴛɪᴇs."

The Empress clasped her hands behind her back once more. "Hᴏᴡᴇᴠᴇʀ, ɪꜰ ᴛʜɪs ɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ɪs ᴛᴏ ᴍᴏᴠᴇ sᴍᴏᴏᴛʜʟʏ, ᴄᴏᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ɪs ᴇssᴇɴᴛɪᴀʟ. Nᴏ sʏsᴛᴇᴍ ɪs ꜰʟᴀᴡʟᴇss, ᴀs ɪs ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛ ᴏɴᴇ, I ᴀᴅᴍɪᴛ. I'ᴍ ᴘᴇʀꜰᴇᴄᴛʟʏ ᴡɪʟʟɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ɪᴍᴘʟᴇᴍᴇɴᴛ ᴄʜᴀɴɢᴇs ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ɢᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴀɴᴄᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ɪsʟᴀɴᴅs; ɪᴛ's ᴏɴᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇᴀsᴏɴs ᴡʜʏ ᴛʜᴇsᴇ ᴅᴀʏs, I ᴡɪʟʟ ʙᴇ ᴠɪsɪᴛɪɴɢ ᴇᴀᴄʜ ʜᴏᴜsᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴅɪsᴄᴜss ᴛʜᴇ ꜰᴜᴛᴜʀᴇ ᴏꜰ Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ, ᴡʜᴀᴛᴇᴠᴇʀ sᴜɢɢᴇsᴛɪᴏɴs ᴏʀ ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴs ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴍᴀʏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ."

Her gaze settled on Oscar, eyes dark and cold as the lightless world on the ocean floor. "Wʜɪᴄʜ ɪs ᴡʜʏ I'ᴍ ᴅɪsᴀᴘᴘᴏɪɴᴛᴇᴅ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴅ ɴᴏᴛ ᴀᴘᴘʀᴏᴀᴄʜ ᴍᴇ ꜰɪʀsᴛ ꜰᴏʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴘʀᴏᴘᴏsᴀʟ. I ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʟɪsᴛᴇɴᴇᴅ. Iɴ ꜰᴀᴄᴛ-" she looked up, thoughtful, "-ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴ ɪs ʀᴇᴛᴀɪɴɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ ɪᴅᴇɴᴛɪᴛʏ ᴏꜰ Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ, ᴘʀᴇsᴇɴᴛɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ sᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴀʀᴇ ꜰᴀᴍɪʟɪᴀʀ ᴡɪᴛʜ, ɪsɴ'ᴛ ᴀ ᴠᴏᴛɪɴɢ sʏsᴛᴇᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰᴜʀᴛʜᴇsᴛ ᴛʜɪɴɢ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴀᴛ?"

Rozharon let the question hang in the air for a moment, then resumed speaking. "I ʙᴇʟɪᴇᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ʜᴇᴀᴅs ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴏʙʟᴇ ʜᴏᴜsᴇs ᴀʀᴇ ꜰɪɢᴜʀᴇʜᴇᴀᴅs ᴇɴᴏᴜɢʜ, ᴀɴᴅ ꜰᴀʀ ᴍᴏʀᴇ ᴇꜰꜰᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ, ᴀs ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛᴇ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ sᴍᴀʟʟ sᴄᴀʟᴇ. Yᴏᴜ ᴀʀᴇ ʟᴇᴀᴅᴇʀs ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ ᴄᴀɴ sᴇᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛ ᴡɪᴛʜ, ɴᴏᴛ ʀᴏʏᴀʟs ᴄᴏᴏᴘᴇᴅ ᴀᴡᴀʏ ɪɴ ᴅɪsᴛᴀɴᴛ ᴄᴀsᴛʟᴇs. As ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇsᴇ ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴs, I ᴛʜᴀɴᴋ ʏᴏᴜ ꜰᴏʀ ɴᴏᴛɪꜰʏɪɴɢ ᴍᴇ. Aɢᴀɪɴ, ᴡᴇ ᴀʟʟᴏᴡ ᴇᴀᴄʜ ʜᴏᴜsᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴅᴏ ᴀs ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴘʟᴇᴀsᴇ, ᴡɪᴛʜɪɴ ʀᴇᴀsᴏɴ, ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜ ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴀssɪsᴛᴀɴᴄᴇ, ᴛʜᴇ Tᴀᴇɴ ᴍɪʟɪᴛᴀʀʏ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ɢʟᴀᴅʟʏ ᴏꜰꜰᴇʀᴇᴅ ʜᴇʟᴘ." The statement, as all before it, was spoken with her characteristic calmness. If the listeners were sharp enough, they would have caught the underlying meaning- If Uldwar was too weak to handle the threats on its borders, Taen would willingly assist.

The mention of the witch, however, gave her pause. Rozharon thought for a moment. "I'ᴠᴇ ʜᴇᴀʀᴅ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴏᴍᴀɴ. Tʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ʀᴇᴘᴏʀᴛs sᴀʏɪɴɢ sʜᴇ ᴡᴀs ʀᴇsᴘᴏɴsɪʙʟᴇ ꜰᴏʀ Cᴀsᴘᴇʀ's ᴅᴇᴠᴀsᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. I'ᴅ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴛᴏ ʜᴇᴀʀ ᴍᴏʀᴇ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴍᴇɴ's ᴇɴᴄᴏᴜɴᴛᴇʀ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʜᴇʀ ɪɴ ᴅᴇᴛᴀɪʟ, ᴘʀᴇꜰᴇʀᴀʙʟʏ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴡʜᴏᴇᴠᴇʀ ᴇɴᴄᴏᴜɴᴛᴇʀᴇᴅ ʜᴇʀ. Iꜰ sʜᴇ ʀᴇᴛᴜʀɴs I'ʟʟ ᴅᴇᴀʟ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʜᴇʀ ᴘᴇʀsᴏɴᴀʟʟʏ. As ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴏʀᴛᴀʟs- ᴡᴇʟʟ, ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴀɢɪᴄ ᴏꜰ Tᴀᴇɴ ᴏᴄᴄᴜᴘɪᴇs ᴡʜᴀᴛᴇᴠᴇʀ ʟᴀɴᴅs ᴛʜᴇ Eᴍᴘɪʀᴇ ʜᴀs ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀɪᴛʏ ᴏᴠᴇʀ. Iᴛ's ɴᴇᴀʀ-ɪᴍᴘᴏssɪʙʟᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴍᴏɴɪᴛᴏʀ ᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴏʀᴛᴀʟs ᴛʜᴀᴛ ꜰᴏʀᴍ, ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ʀᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜᴇʀs ɪɴ ᴍᴀɪɴʟᴀɴᴅ Tᴀᴇɴ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ᴏɴ ᴛᴇᴄʜɴᴏʟᴏɢʏ ᴛᴏ ᴘʀᴇᴅɪᴄᴛ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀᴀɴᴄᴇs. I'ʟʟ ᴜᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴀᴛ, ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡɪsʜ."

All points had been addressed, all misunderstandings clarified. Rozharon fell silent, allowing the humans some time to process her words. "Aɢᴀɪɴ, I ᴀsᴋ- ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀʀᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴇɴʟɪɢʜᴛᴇɴ ᴍᴇ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ᴛʜɪs ᴘʀᴏᴘᴏsᴇᴅ ᴄᴏɴsᴛɪᴛᴜᴛɪᴏɴ? Wʜᴀᴛ ɪs ᴛʜᴇ sᴛᴀɴᴅ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ʜᴏᴜsᴇs, ꜰᴏʀ ᴇxᴀᴍᴘʟᴇ?"

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As usual, these outsiders knew nothing of the finer intricacies of shaping the political world. If they even had an ounce of sense, they would see the value in exercising a plan to unite the people of Ursa Madeum under one banner. Unless...yes, it was far simpler to keep control over them if they were constantly divided, fighting each other, while the true enemy cackles unopposed.

"The pirates know better than to attack my ships, for they know the price one pays when provoking me." Oscar wasn't fooled by the toneless voice trying to lull them into a false sense of security. Every word she spoke only further confirmed her bias against the true sons and daughters of Ursa Madeum. Why were they so intent on trying to bring them down with such pathetic rhetoric?

"Power is a dangerous thing." Cassandra interjected. "Which is why the power itself will be divided, between the monarch and the lords of the land. We have learned much from the terrible mistake of King Damien's reign, and so it is our intention to begin moving away from that system slowly, and carefully." This was the mastery of holding the full hand, choosing which cards to reveal, all the while your full plan is kept hidden. Let this witch believe she has this victory, she will lose the war when the cries of independence finally come thundering through all three of the islands.

"Our standing amongst the common folk has been strained, they mock us, and have been whispering things that are upsetting the status quo of our society. Transitioning into a democracy can be rather difficult if a state of anarchy is spreading its way through our streets." Singlance was the greatest insult to the nobility one could ever conceive, and it sickened him to think those bastards were threatening his own base of power just by existing.

Sooner or later they would start to win over the hearts of the common folk, so long as their improvements continued being rolled out into the greater fabric of society. Fortunately there was an abundance of those willing to work unsavory jobs for gold. Strong men with picks could do a great deal of damage to those pretty streets they paved in the capital. There were still some contacts the Descartes sisters had cultivated, ones that he had called upon in secret, so they would be the ones who brokered the deal to sabotage the work of those upstarts. It was all that could be done without openly attacking them, but it would have to do for now.

"You shall receive a full report on the matter in due time. My knights are busy questing for an artifact lost in the reaches of history, a fellow knight that must be returned and laid to rest with his brothers." It was time that Sir Sarvos was returned to his place, where all champions of the Uldwar clan should reside, and where his weapons could be put to better use.

"House Karradeen has also signed our document, and we expect the other houses to sign as well. This is why we did not wish to show it to you just yet, because we wanted to show you that all of Ursa Madeum was behind it." Cassandra explained courteously.

"Until your nobles stole it, after we did everything to show them that we were willing to be allies, even friends if at all possible." As if he could ever call such degenerate barbarians his friends. Some nights he dreamed it was they who were killed by the command of King Damien, and not his own father. 

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"The pirates know better than to attack my ships, for they know the price one pays when provoking me."

The offer of assistance from Taen had apparently wounded Oscar Uldwar's pride. Earlier he’d been complaining about them; now, boasting about the strength of his navy.

"I sᴇᴇ." Rozharon said calmly, "I’ʟʟ ʙʀɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘɪʀᴀᴛᴇ sɪᴛᴜᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ᴜᴘ ᴡɪᴛʜ Kᴀʀʀᴀᴅᴇᴇɴ. Tʜᴏᴜɢʜ sɪɴᴄᴇ Uʟᴅᴡᴀʀ’s ɴᴀᴠʏ ɪs sᴏ ғᴇᴀʀᴇᴅ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇᴍ, I’ᴍ sᴜʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʜᴏᴜsᴇ’s ᴀssɪsᴛᴀɴᴄᴇ ɪɴ ʜᴜɴᴛɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʙᴇ ᴜsᴇғᴜʟ." Again, the seraph's voice contained no malice of any kind. It was up to the Uldwars if they wished to interpret the comment as accusatory - Has Uldwar remained idle in regards to the pirates? f your navy is so great, why do the pirates remain a threat?

Cassandra Uldwar spoke, providing some explanation for their constitution. The division of power. 

"Tʜᴇ ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛ sʏsᴛᴇᴍ ᴀʟʀᴇᴀᴅʏ ʜᴀs ᴅɪᴠɪsɪᴏɴ ᴏғ ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀ." Rozharon said simply. "Tʜᴇ ᴘʀᴏʙʟᴇᴍ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜɪs, ᴡʜɪᴄʜ Hɪʟᴅᴇʙʀᴀɴᴅ ʜᴀs ᴍᴇɴᴛɪᴏɴᴇᴅ, ɪs ᴛᴡᴏғᴏʟᴅ: ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴇʀʀɪᴛᴏʀʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀ ᴇᴀᴄʜ ɴᴏʙʟᴇ ʜᴏᴜsᴇ ʜᴏʟᴅs, ᴀᴛ ᴘʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ, ɪs ᴜɴᴇǫᴜᴀʟ. Mᴏʀᴇᴏᴠᴇʀ, ʀɪᴠᴀʟʀɪᴇs ᴀɴᴅ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴇᴛɪᴛɪᴏɴ ᴀʀᴇ ʙᴏᴜɴᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴀʀɪsᴇ. Aʟʀᴇᴀᴅʏ I’ᴍ ᴀᴡᴀʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ᴛᴇɴsɪᴏɴs ʙᴇᴛᴡᴇᴇɴ ʜᴏᴜsᴇs. Hᴏᴜsᴇ Sɪɴɢʟᴀᴄᴇ’s ᴘʀᴏᴊᴇᴄᴛs ᴀʀᴇ ᴄᴏɴsᴛᴀɴᴛʟʏ sᴀʙᴏᴛᴀɢᴇᴅ, ғᴏʀ ᴇxᴀᴍᴘʟᴇ. I’ᴍ ᴀʟsᴏ ᴀᴡᴀʀᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ᴀ ғᴇᴡ ᴡʜᴏ ᴡɪsʜ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʜʀᴏɴᴇ ғᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇᴍsᴇʟᴠᴇs." Rozharon kept her attention on the Uldwars, watching their faces for any flicker of eyelid or twitch of skin, any microexpression in reaction to that statement. She did not pause in her speech. "I sᴇᴇᴋ ᴛᴏ ɪᴍᴘʀᴏᴠᴇ ᴏɴ ᴛʜɪs sʏsᴛᴇᴍ, ɴᴏᴛ ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟᴇᴛᴇʟʏ ᴏᴠᴇʀᴛᴜʀɴ ɪᴛ, ᴀs ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴄᴏɴsᴛɪᴛᴜᴛɪᴏɴ ᴘʀᴏᴘᴏsᴇs."

Interesting that they mention anarchy. "Wᴇʟʟ, ɪғ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴜʙʟɪᴄ ɪs ᴀɢᴀɪɴsᴛ Hᴏᴜsᴇ Uʟᴅᴡᴀʀ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ɪs ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ I ᴄᴀɴ ᴅᴏ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ᴛʜᴀᴛ. Tʜᴇʏ ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ, ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ᴀʟʟ. I ᴇɴᴄᴏᴜʀᴀɢᴇ ʜᴏʟᴅɪɴɢ ᴘᴜʙʟɪᴄ ᴇᴠᴇɴᴛs, ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜ. Iᴛ’s ᴀʟᴡᴀʏs ɴɪᴄᴇ ᴛᴏ ɢᴇᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ ғᴀᴄᴇ ᴛᴏ ғᴀᴄᴇ ᴀɴᴅ sᴛʀɪᴘ ᴀᴡᴀʏ ᴀɴʏ ᴍɪsᴄᴏɴᴄᴇᴘᴛɪᴏɴs ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴍɪɢʜᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜ." Rozharon said pleasantly.

She nodded at the mention of democracy, beaming. "I’m glad we're on the same page then. Ursa Madeum has recovered much, though it’s still adjusting to being freed from Damien's rule. A sudden shift in the political system isn’t the best option at the moment"

One might call what she was doing as twisting words. Then again, meaning was subjective. If they wished to dance around the subject, throwing forth vague statements that said little, she was more than willing to take those statements and use them to her own means. All she had spoken was the truth, anyway. Transitioning to a democracy was unwise, there was no need for a national figurehead when Ursa Madeum functioned well under the rule of the Houses, and the kingdom was far, far under better management than it was under Damien. She had quite a few more arguments to put forth, such as the benefit of a neutral party in ruling over the politically divided nation. Still, the Uldwar couple seemed unable to process her reasoning. There was the slightest, delicate hint of sharpness in Rozharon’s voice when she next spoke.

"Iғ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ᴄʜᴀɴɢᴇs ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ɢᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴍᴇɴᴛ, I ᴇxᴘᴇᴄᴛ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ᴅɪsᴄᴜssᴇᴅ ᴏᴘᴇɴʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʀᴀɴsᴘᴀʀᴇɴᴄʏ ʙᴇᴛᴡᴇᴇɴ ᴀʟʟ ᴡʜᴏ ʜᴏʟᴅ ᴘᴏsɪᴛɪᴏɴs ᴏғ ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀɪᴛʏ ɪɴ ᴛʜɪs ᴋɪɴɢᴅᴏᴍ, ɴᴏᴛ ᴛʜʀᴏᴜɢʜ ᴄᴏɴsᴛɪᴛᴜᴛɪᴏɴs ᴅʀᴀғᴛᴇᴅ ᴀɴᴅ sɪɢɴᴇᴅ ʙᴇʜɪɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇᴍᴘɪʀᴇ’s ʙᴀᴄᴋ. Iғ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʀᴜʟʏ ᴡɪsʜ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴇsᴛ ғᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ɪsʟᴀɴᴅs I ᴇxᴘᴇᴄᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛᴏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴍᴏʀᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇɢʀɪᴛʏ ɪɴ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴘᴜʀsᴜɪᴛs."

She paused. "As ғᴏʀ Sɪɴɢʟᴀᴄᴇ, I'ᴅ sᴜɢɢᴇsᴛ ᴀᴠᴏɪᴅɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ɪғ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʀᴜʟʏ ᴄᴀɴɴᴏᴛ sᴛᴀɴᴅ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ᴀʀᴏᴜɴᴅ ᴛʜᴏsᴇ ᴡʜᴏ ʟᴀᴄᴋ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʀᴀᴅɪᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ ᴀɪʀs ᴏғ ᴀ ɴᴏʙʟᴇ. Tʜᴇʏ'ʀᴇ ᴇғғᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ɪɴ ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴅᴏ ᴀs ʟᴏɴɢ ᴀs ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴡᴏʀᴋ ᴡɪᴛʜᴏᴜᴛ ɪɴᴛᴇʀғᴇʀᴇɴᴄᴇ. I ᴜɴᴅᴇʀsᴛᴀɴᴅ ɪᴛ's ᴀɴ ᴀᴅᴊᴜsᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ, ᴅᴇᴀʟɪɴɢ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴄᴜʟᴛᴜʀᴇ, ʙᴜᴛ ᴛʜᴇɴ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ-" there was a hint of wry amusement in her words, "-ᴘᴇʀʜᴀᴘs ʟᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴀssᴏᴄɪᴀᴛᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ʀᴜʟᴇ ᴏᴠᴇʀ, ᴀs ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴅᴏ, ᴍɪɢʜᴛ ʙᴇ ʜᴇʟᴘғᴜʟ ɪɴ ɪᴍᴘʀᴏᴠɪɴɢ ʏᴏᴜʀ ɪᴍᴀɢᴇ."

Rozharon clasped her hands behind her back and let the constitution drift down into Oscar Uldwar's lap. "Wᴇʟʟ, I ʙᴇʟɪᴇᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ's ᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴏᴘɪᴄs I ᴡɪsʜᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴀᴅᴅʀᴇss. Dᴏ ʏᴏᴜ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴀɴʏ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴs ʏᴏᴜ ᴡɪsʜ ᴛᴏ ᴅɪsᴄᴜss ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴍᴇ?"

Edited by Csl

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Oscar had grown tired of listening to the Empress, having already dismissed her as an enemy to be defeated when the time was right. In moments like these, it was easy to get lost in the emotions, to reveal more than you wished in order to strike back against those who have wronged you. A single misstep was all it took to jeopardize everything he had been working for, causing all of his works to crumble down around him. The flustering angel wouldn't goad him so easily, her implied slights and thinly veiled insults were recognized, but ultimately ignored.

"We have no more questions for you, Your Grace." Oscar said, keeping in his seat while Cassandra stayed quiet. "If at all we have seemed impetuous or difficult, we apologize dearly. Such behavior is beneath us, and only serves to undermine our own efforts to bettering ourselves in this time of healing."

"It is time we ended the feud between Singlance and Uldwar." Cassandra said, hoping to sneak in her voice without her husband staring her down. "House Uldwar is willing to do whatever it takes in order to put this conflict to rest. Perhaps we could gift them with something in order to show how much we wish for peace? What say you, dear husband?" She expected him to be barely containing his anger, to be absolutely seething with rage, just nearly at the point of striking her again just to shut her up.

Instead her shocked her entirely by smiling.

"A gift would be wonderful, we should try and gift them with something they could appreciate, and know that it is not simply some means of trying to buy their affection." Thinking for just a moment, Oscar beamed. "Of course! Our old manor on the countryside in Corinth. We aren't in need of it any longer since relocating to Misral, so it would be perfect for them to have as their own place on the islands."

Nearly at a loss for words, Cassandra tried to understand his reasoning a little more. "But...what if they damage it, or add something onto it that you don't approve of?" He couldn't possibly mean that, it would be pure madness to concede ground to their opponent, especially one that Oscar seemed to loathe without end. There had to be something more to this, she just knew it, but had no way of figuring it out without alerting the Empress.

Lord Uldwar shrugged. "They can tear it down to the ground for all I care. We'll need a few days to clean out anything of sentimental value of course, but by then it should be all ready for them to do with as they pleased. It truly is a wonderful location. Beautiful view of the ocean, clear land for a good few square miles and the way the sun paints the home at dusk is simply incredible. I do hope they accept, as the home is just too beautiful to be left uninhabited for much longer." He said thoughtfully, feeling like this was the right decision. "Surely that will help smooth over our differences, don't you think, Your Grace?"

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No questions. Rozharon nodded.

“Iᴛ’s ᴀʟʟ ꜰᴏʀɢɪᴠᴇɴ.” There was not a single trace of condescension in those words, said as cooly as all the others before it. Let them make of it as they will.

Contrary to their previous course of action, Cassandra proposed a truce with House Singlace. Oscar seemed uncharacteristically agreeable with the plan. Rozharon quietly factored in this change- to have the Uldwars go this path was something she’d considered, but it hadn’t been probable to happen. Then again, the offer of the house was practically a red flag. She would have to check it herself- she'd be able to detect anything within her range of power, magical or not.

Either way, Rozharon beamed a smile a few lumens less than Oscar’s in brightness. “I’ᴍ sᴜʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇʏ’ʟʟ ʙᴇ ᴅᴇʟɪɢʜᴛᴇᴅ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏꜰꜰᴇʀ.” That was a lie. Singlace was likely to burn down the manor, sift through the soil in search of landmines, and declare it too suspicious in the end. Still, there was bound to be use for it.

“I’ʟʟ ɪɴꜰᴏʀᴍ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ɢɪꜰᴛ ᴀɴᴅ sᴇɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ʀᴇsᴘᴏɴsᴇ ʙᴀᴄᴋ ᴛᴏ ʏᴏᴜ.” That was also a lie. She would only send back non-lethal and non-aggressive responses.

“Wᴇʟʟ, ᴛʜɪs ʜᴀs ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴀ ᴘʀᴏᴅᴜᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴛᴀʟᴋ.” Not as productive as she had hoped it would be, but it would have to do. There was no need for any more verbal padding at this point. She would take her leave.

“Tʜᴀɴᴋ ʏᴏᴜ ꜰᴏʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʜᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟɪᴛʏ.” With a short bow, Rozharon turned, walked towards the doors- these quietly opened by themselves - stepped outside, and with a blur of dark feathers, was gone.

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Summary: Empress Rozharon visits Port Mars to confront House Uldwar about their proposed constitution, bringing a gift to compensate for Singlace's wounding of their men. Oscar Uldwar pledges to give House Singlace one of their estates.

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