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The Continuation of a Line

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#1
Brayden Antares

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Endelaan
 
The tattered brown cloak that Brayden wore fluttered lightly in the ocean breeze. For the last couple of hours, Brayden had been rooted in his present position meditating. Though he could feel no pain or discomfort in his body, his muscles had surely atrophied from being so static for such a length of time. As had been the case during his first extended stay on the continent of Phindar, Brayden spent the overwhelming majority of the last several days in a more arid region of the continent. It wasn't that Phindar lacked for any temperate, lively areas. In fact that was far from the truth. The Sith Lord had seen things on Phindar that he'd never even thought were possible. He'd been taught things on Phindar that were once common knowledge across large swaths of the Unknown Regions. Things that had been lost to the ages in the wake of the crumbling of his ancestors' empire.
 
Brayden had left Endelaan some weeks ago in search of his twin sister. A sister he had been informed yet still lived by Xsayarsa, the closest thing Brayden's father ever had to a friend outside of Brayden's mother. What he'd found...was a fractured girl that, for some reason, saw fit to adopt a completely new personality. A new background. A new life. Had her sister's old life been so terrible? What had she gone through after they were both forced into the Darkness? There were so many unanswered questions and Brayden desperately wanted, needed answers.
 
Unfortunately, for the last two hours, he'd been able to feel his mother in the Force. He had been unable to seek her counsel and comfort. It was an exercise he put himself through arguably more often than he should. Though she blessed him with her memories of the past, the relatively young Sith Lord was...often lost without her. There was so much about her memories and visions that just did not make sense. Further more, she remained the Queen of Endelaan and his father the King. The planet had been bereft of their leadership for an extended period of time, and Brayden wondered how it had affected the world.
 
It has thrived, My Prince.
 
Brayden recognized the swelling of power within his mind immediately. Arash, my friend. What has taken you so long.
 
A noise that could have been considered a very deep, loud snort passed between their mental connection. We all have many responsibilities, Prince. I would note that you did not attempt to seek me out either. Yet...
 
A loud thud behind Brayden forced him to open his eyes and spin around. 
 
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The sight he was greeted by arguably would have terrified many a sentient, but Brayden could tell when his friend was attempting to be...amusing. "Knock it off, Arash," Brayden commented with a roll of his eyes.
 
Arash quickly straightened. Arash did not smile or show much in the way of facial expression, but he could radiate his amusement through the bond that had been forged with the King's only natural son. You waste your time seeking the Queen. She cannot be so summoned by you, My Prince. If it becomes necessary, she will present herself. However, I sense you do have many a burning question. Perhaps you should consider visiting the place where your connection to your mother is strongest; where it initiated.
 
Brayden arched a curious eyebrow. "The Forbidden Temple?" The Prince made the statement like it was something he hadn't even considered. He knew, as did Arash, that traveling to the main continent and especially to the Forbidden Temple would...well...it was tantamount to making a very definitive statement. Brayden had spent so much time away from Endelaan, all he really knew of it these days was Phindar. He just wasn't sure if he could start down this path without Scherezade.
 
Ease your mind. You cannot always be by your sister's side. Neither of you are infants any longer, and in time...you will both have to find those that are truly the other half of your soul.
 
Forcing himself not to visibly roll his eyes, Brayden instead offered a shallow nod of the head. "As always, you make good points, Arash."
 
Silence past between man and creature for several minutes until finally, "Alright. I will go."
 
Arash immediately shifted his body-weight, lowering his stance to enable Brayden to scale his massive body up to his back.
 
Blinking for a moment, Brayden looked at Arash. He had never wanted to venture away from PHindar in all of their previous interactions. In fact, the dragon had been dead set against it. "You're sure?"
 
It is time, My Prince.
 
Brayden allowed a thin smile to touch his lips just as he was ascending onto his usual spot on the hulking beast's back. Following a powerful stroke of his wings, Arash sprung into the air, beating hard to steadily gain altitude and speed away from Phindar. In the next several moments, he began angling towards the direction of the Forbidden Temple.
 
In less than twenty minutes, Arash initiated a smooth descent down towards warmer, thicker air. Brayden had no idea who might have seen them as they flew high overhead, but he did not concern himself with it too much. With a loud roar accompanying a torrent of orange-red fire escaping his massive maw, Arash announced his presence upon the land of men. The spectacle largely dissipated by the time the massive, red beast touched down with audible force in one of the grassy areas just outside the Forbidden Temple. For the time being, Arash kept his neck and head fully raised, keeping the Prince that shared his mind and heart largely shielded from view. In this space of time, Brayden allowed his silver-green gaze to scan the area from beneath the hood of his brown cloak.
 

Edited by Brayden Antares, 09 November 2018 - 01:13 PM.

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#2
Scherezade deWinter

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Home. Verberri was home, at last. She had spent the better part of the previous half a year on Coruscant, sitting in that penthouse apartment, first in wait of the child of her Queen, and then in waiting while the city collapsed around her, the taste of sithspawn so strong in the air that at times she thought she would choke on it. It was a planet that lacked any respect, any culture. She had loathed being on it.

 

In the beginning, she had thought to bring the daughter of her Queen back to the righteous path, remind her that her destiny lay in the Path of the Sorceress and not upon the Path of the Warrior as she had stumbled onto due to lack of proper guidance. But the child had been more stubborn than her mother had been at a similar age, and she often managed to slip between the fingers of the Ancient One who did not know how to handle children and did not know how to get along on a planet that was not Edelaan.

 

She had known, that night that the child had arrived with a man, that danger loomed. But the child had refused to pause for a single moment, and Verberri had not seen her since she left.

 

That had been weeks before Verberri found herself waking up from a midday nap, terrified as she realized that the child had died. For a week she mourned her, praying, crying to her Queen to forgive her for failing at her task. And at the end of the week, she felt the child again, alive, but… Different.

 

By the time Verberri had made it to the dockyard, it was a day later, and the child was gone. She had been unable to locate her again after that, and when two months later the child disappeared yet remained, the Ancient One knew it was time to return home and seek help. Yet how did one return to a home that no navigator knew where to find, when she could not pilot a ship, or even see the sky as she ascended into it?

 

Another week passed when she had her answer. She did not know the ship that landed on the balcony of the Penthouse, but she knew the feel of the people who had come. Knew them through the Force. Some of them had been children when she left Endelaan, and were probably children still, but children with more responsibilities. A few of the women of the Circle had been sent to fetch her.

 

When they landed on Endelaan, Verberri had gone down on her knees and kissed the ground. She was home at last.

 

Endelaan was not as it had been while her Queen and her King had been there. The planet had, by what some people would say, progressed. Verberri did not like it. The loss of clan life and the growth of the population had created a new Endelaan that was both similar and a stranger to her at the same time. She spent most of her days in the Forbidden Temple, where the Ancient One could find a semblance of sanity. Here, the people still remembered. Here, the Warriors and the Sorceresses still kept the Old Ways. She had been offered a life of comfort by some of the Old Families, some of them going as far as to offer her a house of her own, luxuries that she had never dared to dream of as a child. Some of them claimed kinship lost centuries ago. But Verberri had not been interested. She was an old woman, despite the youth her body still possessed, and she was tired. She was tired of her failures in being by the Queen and King's side as Endelaan began to come out of hiding, she was tired of failing to protect their children, she was tired of losing. Her only wish was to spend her remaining days in the Forbidden Temple.

 

Alas, that was another wish of the woman that would not come true. The Circle of Seers knew he was coming long before the dragon appeared in the sky, and as the Ancient One, it fell upon her shoulders to spearhead the group that would welcome him.

 

Never one to shy from hardships, Verberri knew it was time to face the Prince of Endelaan. They had dressed her in new clothes, as the crispness of the fabric hinted, but as her eyesight did not exist, she did not know the colors she was decked in, nor did she care or any of the jewelry the younger girls decked her with. What a waste of time.

 

As the giant beast landed, Verberri was already there, the Circle of Seers and King's Own standing behind her, as well as the entire Council that ruled in the absence of the King and Queen; four Sorceresses, four Warriors. Why Endelaan needed so many was beyond her, but it was what it was.

 

She did not wait for the Prince to come out of hiding on the back of his dragon.

 

"The Prince of Endelaan returns on the back of a creature from the forbidden continent," Verberri announced, her voice booming over the area. There were enough guards to keep everyone else away from the place for the time being, "I would expect nothing less from Brayden, son of Diomedes, the Warrior King of Endelaan, son of Cameron. For over seven hundred years the people have eagerly awaited this moment."

 

And I wish your sister was with you, the woman did not add, did not voice in any form of way.

 

"I am Verberri, the Ancient One," she introduced herself, "and I was there when you were born, arriving upon this world embracing your sister. These others will be introduced later. Come down from your beast and let us walk inside. You have been sorely missed."

 

Brayden Antares


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#3
Brayden Antares

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Brayden felt it as sure as anything during their descent to the ground. While the Ancient One was, ultimately, a stranger to him, he did recall the feeling of her presence washing over the Forbidden Temple in his youth. It was different than in the way he felt the presence of his parents..but not different enough to be discounted.
 
At Verberri's request, Arash lowered his large neck to the ground, settling low on his haunches. Without a word, Brayden jumped down to the grass. Pulling back the hood of the worn, brown cloak he wore, Brayden allowed his bright gaze to survey his surroundings. If any took the time or cared to notice, they would see that Brayden's eyes were much more green than most males of the family line. It was a reality of his increased exposure to his mother, of the protection she had provided to him, and the memories she had gifted to him.
 
At the present point in time, Brayden had little to say to the Ancient One. Instead, he stepped forward, following the woman inside as his gaze continued to roam the edifice. Home. Brayden Antares was finally home.
 

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#4
Scherezade deWinter

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Although she could see nothing, Veberri could certainly sense. And what she sensed was… Curious, to her. Certainly, it was quite the opposite of what she had expected. But if her experience with the daughter was to be an example of any of her Queen and King's children, she would soon have to cease to expect anything at all, as they would always do the unexpected.

 

Once she and the Prince were inside, the Ancient One led them to the dining hall. Feasts had been thrown there throughout the ages, though she supposed none quite as happy as the ones that Nessarose and Diomedes had thrown. With the absence of the two of them, she cared little of what actually happened in regards to social life on Endelaan.

 

Once everyone was seated, food was served. Endelaan had provided with the best of the best. And for once, Verberri knew that a heart of the prey would be served; one of the younger Warriors bid to place it in front of the returned Prince.

 

Brayden may have been absent from this part of the planet for over seven hundred years, but the Endelaanians' memories were long. His parents had been not only respected, but also loved, and as the children of his parents, the love of the people would follow him until the end of times unless he did something to end it. Verberri could easily feel the open stares that some of the people afforded the young man in the hall and sighed.

 

"I can sense much of your mother in you," she said quietly, knowing that all ears and more than once Force Hearing were pointed at them, "she loved to make grand entrances as well. And when she smiled, all who saw it loved her in an instant. She could steal the lives of children and make their parents worship her with the blink of an eye. Until now, I thought it was the shame of Endelaan that it must ensure without her. As her son though, I believe you have lost more in these centuries, even though your home has apparently flourished and thrived despite her absence."

 

Taking a spoon-full of her soup, she added, "and your father, of course, though among the top of his favorite pastimes was rolling his eyes at such things," her dry lips curled as she fell into a laughter. "They are both special people. It is my hope that they will soon return, even if they are unlikely to do so."


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#5
Brayden Antares

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For his part, Brayden offered subtle nods and the occasional smile to any eyes his presence might have drawn. As he'd grown up almost entirely away from Endelaan, he knew little of his parents' celebrity-like status on Endelaan outside of his mother's memories. Even then, the memories were painted in the hue of her perception. Nessarose deWinter had not exactly seen herself as a celebrity in her later years.
 
Taking a seat at the table, Brayden did not shy away from food. He never shied away from food. In that regard, he supposed he was for sure the child of Nessarose and Diomedes. Biting down into the meat, Brayden was only momentarily distracted by the words of Verberri. Lifting his gaze to meet the absent-gaze of the Ancient One, Brayden swallowed what he had been chewing. "My mother..." For a brief moment, Brayden allowed memories to flow through him. They were fond memories, of course. His mother's warmth had been the one constant, the one thing he felt even within the Darkness. "I think she would be proud of the advancements made even in her absence."
 
In truth, if Brayden had not already seen what he'd seen of the galaxy, he probably would not have much of an opinion. His time spent among Endelaan's early history was too short-lived for him to be nostalgic. He did know however that they would invariably have to continue making some sort of advancement. The greater galaxy would not wait for them to catch up. Similarly, he knew that a sprawling Empire of Sith lingered far too close to Endelaan for comfort. "You are hopeful for their return?" Brayden posed it as a legitimate question, but he wasn't sure how much he had invested. If nothing else, the Prince knew that to cast an eye to the past for more than education was to be doomed to the prevention of progress. "I have not felt my mother's presence in years. My father..." Leaning towards Verberri slightly, Brayden concluded. "Xsayarsa remains in the forbidden land, but he gifted me something of my father's."
 
Lightly, Brayden reached a hand to touch the worn, leather hilt of the sword that he'd unfastened from his back and placed beside him. The Sith Lord could sense the weapon reacting, the presence of his father brushing against his own for a moment before dissipating.
 
Careful, My Prince... That which transpires on Phindar is not for everyone. Her included.
 
Brayden had to close his eyes briefly, still adjusting to the strength of Arash's immense presence when it brushed against Brayden's mind. He sent no response, used to the little lessons that Arash occasionally chose to convey. The message was simple. Brayden should not be quick to trust simply because a person was of Endelaan. However, another part of him believed Arash to be too cautious...no doubt a consequence of living in relative isolation for millennia.
 

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#6
Scherezade deWinter

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"She probably would have," Verberri nodded, "she had tried to move towards such changes before you were born, had tried to use the women of worlds we had conquered like cattle cows to make more children of Endelaan." The blind woman took another sip of her soup. "I wonder if she had succeeded, had the galaxy not been threatened by the Gulag virus. I had known your mother and father to go through many hardships and many dangers. I saw the fear on both of their faces when they thought your mother would die with the two of you during birth. But never were they as terrified as were at the thought of their children being wiped out by a virus that never even reached Endelaan. They should have just locked the planet up and you with it and pass over this stasis business. Would have saved all of us, and them, many headaches."

 

Some people, mostly those who had been sitting close enough to hear, looked at Verberri in shock. She could feel the stress, the disapprovement of words that critiqued the people who actively still were the King and Queen, but she waved those people away. She was the Ancient One and that came with certain perks. Besides, it was nothing she would not have been willing to tell the King and Queen to their faces, if they would only show their faces around. She had never spared either of them any critique, and she was not inclined to change her ways now.

 

"Of course I am hopeful for their return, child," she answered his second question, "I may have had many disagreements with the both of them. But I loved and cherished them, and they brought life to Endelaan. I am not entirely certain that Edelaan would have thrived in their absence had it not experienced several wonderful years with them before their disappearance. Seven hundred years ago, we were only fifteen hundred people, and one of our Clans was actively killing its Force User children off. You might have been born back then, but as baby you did not experience what it was to be here before your parents' changes and influence, nor were you old enough to understand how fresh Endelaan without them had been in the memories of the people."

 

Pushing her soup away, it was apparent that the woman was done eating. She was not one for great appetites. Prior to becoming a Raven, her diet had mostly consisted of bread and water, enough to survive and live, and no more than that. Luxuries, even after all this time made her uncomfortable, though she guessed it would not be easy to tell with how the children had dressed her for this day.

 

"So the beast is from the forbidden continent," she nodded, "I thought he felt… Different. But I had never thought it important enough to look deeper."

 

As to the mention of the gift, the blind woman's ears perked. It was not often that she wished she could actually see and not just sense. But… Yes. She did not remember a specific weapon of the King, but she could sense him in what it was that Brayden brought forth.

 

"You said that you have not sensed your mother in years," she said gently, "but aside for the weapon, have you sensed your father at any point? I may have more to say of your mother, but never doubt that I wish your father returns as well. We fought and quibbled over everything, but he remained my King, and I would never have exchanged him for any of those that came before him. And despite the words of your mother's parents… He was her match in every way that had ever mattered, as she was his, and he is and always will be loved too. It is a true shame that he is not around to actually feel it."


Edited by Scherezade deWinter, 13 November 2018 - 11:10 AM.

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#7
Brayden Antares

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Brayden's attention focused in exclusively on Verberri. Yes, there were still plenty of others in the hall, whispers and looks of disbelief passing between the collected group of Endelaan natives. For now, the Prince was happy to ignore the attention. This was not a visit for stroking his ego, or taking some kind of awkward victory lap. In fact it did bother him that the people of Endelaan treated him like some type of long-lost hero in the moment. It was as if he'd recently returned from some widespread campaign in the name of Endelaan. The truth was far from that contrived reality. Brayden Antares, outside of training and survival, had accomplished...rather little as compared to his mother, father, and countless other ancestors at much younger ages. Sure, they'd had the benefit of an uninterrupted childhood and young adulthood. For Brayden an excuse was merely an excuse, so he made no excuses. He would never make an excuse for himself, his people, or even his sister. Scherezade... She should have been there with him in that moment. They should have returned to the Forbidden Temple together, but something kept his sister from being whom she was meant to be. No, not this shell of a person he'd heard rumor of, that was not Scherezade deWinter. His sister was strong, charismatic, and a piece of his soul.
 
"I think you are right about the headaches." It was the only real statement he intended to make that even hinted at Scherezade's present situation. "I wish for the return of my parents too..." For a moment, Brayden's bright gaze glazed over as he looked away from the Ancient One. The momentary trip into the memory of a life he'd never actually had faded fast enough as he redirected his attention to Verberri. When he did, his gaze was not hard, but the intensity of his eyes conveyed the truth behind his words. "However, neither I nor Endelaan can afford to pine for their presence. I...we have to push forward as we all have been doing." Similarly, Brayden did not directly address what he had or had not felt from Diomedes. Rather, he did not directly address the subject. "My parents' guidance would be...beneficial, but it is not to be for now. I have to forge my own path as they did at a much younger age."
 
Pushing his plate away from him slightly, Brayden inhaled deeply, still holding Verberri's gaze. "There are many of my blood, apparently, scattered throughout the galaxy. They exist in varying levels of connection, but I know that I need not to describe to you how widespread the roots of this family's tree run. A minor concern...if any at all. The growing concern is the increasing proximity of this...Sith Empire. I, unfortunately, know too little, but I intend to gain more and more insight. What I do know is that I do not trust Endelaan's recluse secrecy to remain forever. It will not be long before Endelaan may yet need to take stock of all of her children...no matter how distant."
 
Folding his hands in his lap, Brayden posed his own question. "Tell me, Ancient One, apart from my sister and this...Caid Centurion, whom I can only presume to be a descendant of Cameron Centurion, do you know of others that exist in this galaxy? I have...a memory from my mother, several in fact, but some of them are fractured or hard to decipher. However, I rather think my mother and father maintained a...secret that only few knew of at the time. A secret of more children...or the preparation for such?"

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#8
Scherezade deWinter

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At the words of Brayden regarding forging paths, Verberri could not help but burst into a deep and rolling laughter. It was not until minutes later that she had calmed down and had taken a gulp of her glass that she could bring herself to speak. "Forged their own paths?" she asked him, her eyeless face turning as if to stare at the child, "where did you get such a silly notion? It was not until after their crowning as the new King and Quee that they begun to do so… Whatever else they might have thought, everything that had come before was pure manipulation on behalf of their ancestors." Wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, Verberri let another chuckle out. "Both of them, though for different reasons, always sought to prove themselves. Wanted to show that they were more than a youngest sibling or a simple bastard. Maximus and Boadicea had only to invest time, not effort, to ensure their throne. But let that not worry you; after that, that was when they had begun to move away. To actually build their path. They did not prove anything until much after they thought they were done proving things at all. Had they continued without it, you and your sister would not have been born here. You might not have been born at all."

 

Murmurs were rising now among the crowd, but Verberri waved them away. "Feel no need to listen to them," she resumed, "they were not here. They did not see."

 

The blind woman nodded as the Prince continued, speaking of others of his blood that were scattered through the galaxy. There were many indeed. The female side of the Family of Darkness had been cursed with fertility; Verberri only knew of one that had successfully fought it. It was a darn shame too, as that one had chosen to leave Endelaan along with her child. Astera and Celestine had not been seen in too long of a time, and the Ancient One herself had seen neither since prior to the Gulag years, though she knew they spent some time at home afterwards as well.

 

As Brayden continued, a dissatisfied huff sound came from the woman. "Endelaan has remained safe and hidden since the days before Corucant became a city planet," she said sternly, "empires have risen and fallen around us while we remained safe. There is no reason to believe this will change unless we make it change. And without a King and Queen, we will not make it change."

 

It was preposterous to think otherwise. She did not know this Sith Empire that Brayden had spoken of, but she did not need to know it. Endelaan was on the corner of the galactic map. No conquering civilization would ever have need to even glance this far, let alone waste resources on getting here.

 

And then a silence settled over the Ancient One. She knew exactly of the secret the Prince spoke of, just as she knew no one else feasting in the hall knew of it. But she did not know that three more had fallen silent, knowing what she knew they knew not.

 

"Suppose that there was," she said after a long and uncomfortable silence, "do you presume that this would be the time or the place to discuss such matters?"

 

Verberri sighed and rose from her seat. The time for the feast was done, at least for her. How could he know? How did he know? The scientist that had saved the children had been dead for centuries. Very few knew, and no one these days had any reason to know. The room and the equipment within it was self-contained. And now if someone had picked up what he had said… Foolish, foolish boy.

 

Grabbing her walking stick, Verberri began to make her exit from the hall.


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#9
Brayden Antares

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Unlike the Ancient One, Brayden remained perfectly calm throughout the exchange. "Oh? You were around for the entirety of their lives then?" Brayden's memories from his mother were no more real than Verberri having information related to her by others. Further more, Brayden knew all too well that the woman before him was not his mother's first Raven. Not the one that had truly been by her side in the beginning, the early years of her reign. "The reality here is simple. They were allowed to live the early years of their lives. Whether they were influenced one way or another is entirely irrelevant, the Force influences and manipulates everything to some extent. Yet we remain capable of choice, independence of action. There was no choice or independence of two infants tucked away into another plain of existence for centuries."
 
Comfortably, Brayden continued to gaze at the faceless elder of Endelaan. She was opinionated, this much is clear. While Brayden respected the woman for her longevity, for being here on Endelaan when it needed someone, he did not brazenly put all of his faith in the woman. Certainly, he owed her no amount of obedience merely because she executed what was ultimately her job, the responsibility of her position. As the Prince did in all things, he listened, digested, and formed his own opinions. He took counsel when it was required, but he was never manipulated by the whims of another; certainly not on Endelaan.
 
However, Brayden's next statement did not come until Verberri had apparently set to dismissing herself from the table and the room. The Prince neither moved from his present position nor raised his voice after her. When he spoke, it was in the same even, deep tamber which he always utilized. "For all of your knowledge, Verberri, you lack a wisdom and an understanding of the galaxy around you." Motioning to the chair she had just abandoned, Brayden made a simple request. Though in truth...it was anything but. "Have a seat, please." Governance may not have been a concept he had practiced long in his life, but it was not as if anyone obtained experience without doing so. Certainly, Brayden benefited from his own mother's experience. In that regard, he knew that Verberri could postulate all she desired. The people, warriors, and sorceresses of Endelaan would almost invariably follow direct descendants of the King and Queen with almost religious fanaticism if it came to it. His was the word that would have the final say this day and every day hence until such a time as he was able to reclaim his sister.
 
"You may carry-on believing what you wish. I am telling you that any lack of imagination on your part or the part of anyone else is folly. Endelaan could remain safe and secure for several more millennia, but the need to understand and prepare for potential threats would always be a reality. It only takes one, small action for that all to be threatened." What Brayden did not know, was that he presently had family members threatening that safety on a near daily basis.
 
"Further more, I have neither time nor patience for anyone that cannot or simply will not concede to that reality. As for the other matter, it requires but a yes or a no in this moment." The woman's answer to the question would certainly determine her continue longevity in his eyes. The simple fact was, that entire experiment would be ending very, very shortly. There would be no chance for anyone to use the knowledge, and what would they gain from it? The King and Queen potentially had more children in existence. It meant nothing, Brayden and Scherezade would always be the first, the only legitimate heirs.
 

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#10
Scherezade deWinter

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"Do not let my appearance fool you for a moment, Brayden," the Ancient One said as she faced him, "I am older than both of your parents, and I was here the first time each of the arrived on Endelaan. I was part of the Council of Seers and in the background from the very first moment, and your mother pulled me out of the background with the death of Aeval." Had he said anything about being a Raven, the woman would have pointed out that Aeval had not been the first Raven either, but that was a moot argument. "You and your sister were babies. You could choose nothing. Yet what happened to you in those early years was a choice made by your parents, supported by me, by the council of seers, by everyone." She paused a moment, her lips moving without words coming out. Verberri sighed then. "It is a mistake that all those who were around when the choice was made, share."

 

For the rest, she let him speak. He could say all he wanted, and the people in the hall would eat it up like candy. That, Verberri realized, was another trait the boy shared with both of his parents. Did he know how different he was from his sister? How many of these gifts were not inherited by the both of them?

 

"You are not my King, Brayden Antares," she said quietly as he asked her to sit and claimed it was a simply yes or no, "answers do not always arrive in the shape you request them to. If you truly want your answer, you will rise your behind from that seat and follow me. We have given these mindless hens enough to gossip about as it is."

 

It was then that a telepathic message was pressed into the young man's mind. Do not kill her yet, Prince of Endelaan. It was a female voice, soft, almost seductive. It is true that none like her, yet the one who will come after her is much worse, as is the one who will come after her. Let her show you what she wills, and I will meet you in private when you separate. I assure you, your time shall not be wasted.


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#11
Brayden Antares

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Verberri's age hadn't been the point, but he conceded on the woman's age. It was the time that had been spent away from Endelaan when his parents first began interacting. Yes, his father was routinely manipulated by his grandfather, but insofar as Brayden could tell, Cameron Centurion manipulated everyone around him with little exception. Brayden considered it a true gift not to have ever been afflicted by the man's meddling.
 
To Verberri's second series of statements, however, Brayden could only laugh. Slowly rising from his seat, the Sith Lord reached down to grab his blade. After strapping the weapon over his back once more, the large warrior took only a few fluid steps towards the smaller woman. "Oh Verberri. I will never be your King." There was no malice or threat in his voice. The ways of Endelaan were clear and known to all. The ascension of a new King or Queen could and would only occur upon the death of the Ancient One that existed before their rule. If nothing else, Brayden Antares had simply made it clear that he intended to carry on in the legacy of his parents.
 
When a foreign presence pressed against Brayden's mind, he managed not to falter or give any indication as to what was happening. In this regard, he had Arash to thank as the creature's entire presence within Brayden's mind had so often been painful in the beginning. For sure, he continued to maintain an open connection with his Familiar, allowing Arash to feel and see everything in his mind's eyes.
 
As the new voice subsided, Brayden felt that Arash had no opinion, no emotion at all. The creature seemed almost comfortable. A curiosity to be sure.
 
Motioning Verberri ahead, Brayden followed casually albeit not before tossing a brief smile in the direction of a particularly attractive woman that was standing along the wall. There would be time for pleasures of the flesh...later.
 

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#12
Scherezade deWinter

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"Not yet," she replied with a shrug, "but the Great Web shows more than one path that includes you becoming the King of Endelaan. Perhaps one day, you will be. Perhaps, I shall die before it happens. And perhaps, you shall never be a King at all."

 

Another shrug, and she continued to walk, using her stick to test the floors out before she stepped on them. The woman certainly didn't need to do as such; she knew the safe paths of the Forbidden Temple better than she knew her own mind.

 

It was not long before a few turns were taken. Verberri knew of every guard that stood at some of the doors. She did not see a reason to have most of them there, yet she resumed to walk, taking another tur and few.

 

Eventually, she used her stick to kick a door open, motioning for the Prince to follow her into the room.

 

"This was your parents' room in the Temple," she explained as she shut the door behind him. The room was now bare, with nothing to decorate the walls or the floors, with no furniture that had been so full of weapons and clothes. "They never got to see the completion of the mansion they had intended for themselves and their children. But when the construction was completed, all their thigs from this room were moved there. The room is kept empty these days, and as you saw, no guards the door. For all intents and purposes, this is an empty and abandoned room."

 

 Walking gingerly to the other side of the room, Verberri lifted her stick and pressed it into the wall. The walls moved, a rumbling sound coming from them, and then part of the wall moved aside, revealing a short hidden hallway.

 

"To answer your previous question," she said as she walked in, "yes. Your parents did not mean to have you when they did. It was an unfortunate accident that caused your mother to feel compelled to do it, for without replacing her reproductive organs, she would never be able to carry a pregnancy again. I cannot tell you why she felt so strongly about it, for I myself never comprehended it. But the accident that caused that state had also caused all her eggs to be fertilized… And then she began to lose them.

 

It was her luck that the Sanguine Potestatem had a scientist. Endelaan at the time had no means by which to save any of her eggs, any of her potential children. He collected all those who could still develop life."

 

Verberri turned the lights on. On the opposite wall to them, shelves upon shelves were filled with endless vials, kept in perfect and pristine conditions.

 

"And thus, a potential four hundred or so siblings of yours maintained the possibility of one day becoming alive. Your parents squabbled over this, but as the right time for more children did not present itself prior to the Gulag, the squabbling became moot, and thus this room was kept safe. Aside for me, those who knew of it have not been among the living for centuries."


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#13
Brayden Antares

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Brayden elected not to respond to Verberri's...statements. His meaning was singular and direct, but he would allow the woman her interpretations of the Force. The journey to the room that formerly belonged to his parents was uneventful. However, when he crossed the threshold, he was presented with a number of memories. In the past, Brayden would have struggled to discern whether it was merely implanted memories from his mother or something he...recalled. Yes he'd been but an infant before he was forced into the Darkness, but even as an infant there were a few things, sensations mostly, that he could recall. It was the only way he felt the resilient strength of his father's presence these days. Even the weapon strapped to Brayden's back was not more powerful than the impression he had of both his parents leaning over the crib he shared with his sister.
 
For a moment, Brayden had to blink away emotion-filled tears that threatened to form in the corners of his eyes. It all only served to remind him that so much of his family was lost. His parents were missing, and he would likely not get the chance to truly know them anytime soon. What family he did know of existence were either lost or so distantly wrapped up in their own lives that they could provide little comfort. So when Brayden allowed himself to consider the implication of so many other siblings or would-be siblings, his emotions were mixed.
 
Stepping into the adjoining room, the Sith Lord did not stop from astonishment inside the door. Instead, he allowed his bright gaze to continue to wander and roam. Eventually, he spoke to Verberri. "Tell me, Ancient One. Were any of these...experiments," which was the only way he would ever refer to them henceforth, "survive into adulthood? Were any of them given actual life?" There was but a brief pause, recalling Verberri's predilection for saying just enough. "If so, were records kept as to how many and who birthed them?"
 

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#14
Scherezade deWinter

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"Absolutely not!" Verberri replied, the shock of such an idea much too easy to read on her eyeless face, "These vials, whether they would become children or not, are not the property of Edelaan. They belonged to your parents, and only they would decide what was to happen with them. And neither Diomedes nor Nessarose had ever expressed when, or if, they wanted them to be given life. That choice is theirs alone. Not yours, not your sister's, nor of anyone else on Endelaan."

 

The Ancient One sighed, leaning against one of the few bare spots on the wall. "What would cause you to ask such a thing?" she asked, her face motioning towards the Prince, "why think such preposterous thoughts?"


Edited by Scherezade deWinter, 19 November 2018 - 08:12 AM.

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#15
Brayden Antares

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"Common sense," was the Prince's easy reply. "You've not been here the entire time since my parent's death, have you? How can you be so certain none of these...things have been given life?"
 
Allowing his gaze to continue roaming the walls, Brayden narrowed them slightly before he asked a more important question. "How many were saved in all? How many should I now see arrayed before me?" The woman's statements about who had the right to determine the fate of these things had not gone unheard. Certainly, it would not be a decision he made unilaterally at any point in time. However, his parents were not around to deal with the potential problems a wayward child of Endelaan could cause. He and his other family members, however, most certainly were.
 

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#16
Scherezade deWinter

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No, she had not. She had been gone for almost the same amount of time as his parents. But "because they were all dead before the Gulag," she answered. But were they? Could one of them had been missed? The slaves that had cleaned, the scientist that had helped them, those who had seen the Queen injured… No. She was certain. Dead. All of them.

 

How many were there? Verberri frowned, trying to remember the exact number. It was somewhere around four hundred, she knew. One less? Three more? There were no written documents about this anywhere, nothing she could- Ah.

 

Everything smelled of blood. The scientist who had no smell of anything organic was moving around quickly, almost dancing with glee and delight. The Queen lay unconscious on the bed. The King was dead. She heard him count. Three hundred and ninety, three hundred and ninety one, three hundred and ninety two… The slave girls informed Verberri, who was just a Raven at the time, what he was doing. Three hundred and ninety three… She had not cared. Not one bit, not about these scientist-y things. Her only priority was the Queen herself, and the children she had been informed she was carrying in her body. The vials were abominations, something that could never be brought forth through the Force and as such had no business existing. Three hundred and nine four… And that scientist. She did not approve of him at all.

 

"Three hundred and ninety nine," she eventually replied, nodding. She was certain of the number. There had been three hundred and ninety nine vials.


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#17
Brayden Antares

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Slowly, Brayden tracked his head towards Verberri after she...came up with a number after all. "Three hundred and ninety-nine," the Sith Lord repeated, slowly. Stepping forward, Brayden turned his head back towards the vials arrayed throughout the room. "Very well then."
 
It was a massive amount, but he was able to isolate one section, count how many existed in one section. Finally, the young Prince took a step back, slowly sending his bright eyes and mind to purpose. For several moments there was merely silence as Brayden Antares slowly paced the length of the assortment of experiments. The Prince did this once, twice, thrice before he was content and came to a halt in front of Verberri.
 
It was probably a good thing that she was without sight. Why? Because it strengthened her other senses...considerably. Though his face was an impassive mask, Brayden's irritation blustered and pushed against the surface of his skin. It didn't go so far as to effect the very environment around him. It was hardly an issue to such a degree...for the moment. After all, there was only so much that Brayden could or even would do independently.
 
No...it was the fact that Verberri, the Ancient One, servant of the King and Queen, Steward of Endelaan had failed to safeguard potential offspring of the royal family. By Brayden's count, twenty were missing. Twenty potential sons, daughters, or anything in between that could have been born, raised with all the knowledge of Endelaan, and sent off into the greater galaxy. It was a threat, a huge threat because they had no way to truly quantify it.This only strengthened the Prince's resolve to prepare Endelaan for the worst. It wasn't a daunting task...the livelihood of the population was the defense of Endelaan's way of life. War was the primary profession.
 
Arash made his presence known once more in that moment, a deep grumble reverberating against the very walls of the Forbidden Temple as the massive beast radiated that which the Prince kept in check. "We have a problem then, Verberri. I count but three hundred and seventy-nine. This entire suite of rooms is going to be placed back under guard. Where is the Captain of the King's Own?" No, she technically did not have to follow his instructions. That was fine, for Brayden knew perfectly well that the Captain absolutely would so long as Brayden relayed it as a matter of importance to the King. 
 
Which, no doubt, this was.
 

Edited by Brayden Antares, 19 November 2018 - 03:41 PM.

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#18
Scherezade deWinter

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She did not need her sight, and when the Price's emotions surged, she believed that she did not need the Force either. For a moment, she dared think like parents, like son¸ as the King and Queen had been so terrible at concealing their own emotions as well. But why? What had he seen, or realized, or thought, to bring this on? The mere thought that all vials were there never even once passed by her mind, not until…

 

Every feature on her face and body reveled the shock at the knowledge that twenty vials were missing. Twenty. Twenty was more than a miscount. Twenty was more than a mistake. Twenty was… It was a deliberate thing. Someone had discovered the room, someone had taken the vials. Perhaps more than a single person. More importantly, someone had known what the vials meant.

 

It was a good thing that despite the shock, the Ancient One still held her wits about her. There was no panic to be found of her features as she summoned the Captain of the King's Own, as well as the leader of the Ravens. Endelaan did not know how to operate without both a Warrior and a Sorceress. They would be there within moments.

 

And now, Endelaan had a problem. And that problem had to be solved. "They will be here momentarily," she said.

 

I told you it would not be a waste of time, the same voice of earlier pressed into Brayden's mind, but do not think this is where it ends… A set of guards will not undo what has already happened, and what is already in motion. I will tell you more when you are done.


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#19
Brayden Antares

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Brayden nodded simply to the Ancient One, obviously more out of habit than function since she could not see him. "Thank you, but I do not think they need know the contents of this room. It is likely best to meet them out in the main hall." Without another word, Brayden exited the room, allowing Verberri to secure it once more.
 
As Brayden proceeded to walk through his parents' room to the main hallway, the Prince felt the stranger's presence touch his mind once more. As he done before, he made no attempt to isolate or discern the location or composition of the speaker. However, this time he could feel Arash's curiosity raise even if only slightly. Other than that, his previous relating to the emotions of Brayden had completely faded.
 

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#20
Scherezade deWinter

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Did they ever tell you what it meant to be the Ancient One? The voice continued to purr into Brayden's mind as he and Verberri made their way towards the Main Hall, it was a badge of honor, once. To be the oldest woman on Endelaan. To have the wisdom gained by years of living and experience. To perform some of our most important rites. Now look at the blind woman walking with you. Does she seem like someone with seven centuries worth of experience? No… This Ancient One is a fake. She slept through the years. She has not anointed a Fighter or a Magician since shortly after you were born. She still bears the marks of what Zeresh did to her all these centuries ago… And for what? Endelaan has progressed so much since… Why does it even require an Ancient One anymore? We were just fine all these years without one… While your parent are constantly remembered and loved, she was but a dim memory, known only to a handful of us. You are walking with a living memory of no importance, Brayden Antares, Prince of Endelaan.

 

As Brayden and Verberri entered the Main Hall, the Captain of the King's Own as well as leader of the Ravens were already there. While their emotions and their facial expressions revealed nothing, Verberri could only assume that they were surprised to be called so suddenly.

 

Verberri though, said nothing. It was the Price who wanted to place guards at the room instead of move the vials elsewhere, so he could give his orders regarding the matter. It was out as though she understood any of it anyway.


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