Edited by Brayden Antares, 09 November 2018 - 01:13 PM.
Posted 09 November 2018 - 01:13 PM
Posted 09 November 2018 - 01:49 PM
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."
Posted 09 November 2018 - 02:35 PM
Posted 09 November 2018 - 02:50 PM
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."
Posted 12 November 2018 - 09:39 PM
Posted 13 November 2018 - 04:07 AM
"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.
Posted 18 November 2018 - 06:29 AM
Posted 18 November 2018 - 03:22 PM
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.
Posted 19 November 2018 - 05:32 AM
Posted 19 November 2018 - 05:54 AM
"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.
Posted 19 November 2018 - 06:51 AM
Posted 19 November 2018 - 07:22 AM
"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."
Posted 19 November 2018 - 08:04 AM
Posted 19 November 2018 - 08:12 AM
"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.
Posted 19 November 2018 - 08:34 AM
Posted 19 November 2018 - 08:46 AM
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.
Posted 19 November 2018 - 03:26 PM
Edited by Brayden Antares, 19 November 2018 - 03:41 PM.
Posted 19 November 2018 - 03:48 PM
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.
Posted 19 November 2018 - 04:02 PM
Posted 19 November 2018 - 04:46 PM
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.