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Alone
"Keep yourself out of the grime. The common folk don't understand the power of noble blood. There is more to our heritage than lands, rank, and riches. There is a tangible power that comes with your noble birth. Don't dilute the blood." -Salashim

Salashik stood just outside the dining hall. The finery of the keep was his only reprise from the invasion of decay. He didn't like the direction his family was taking, but he could feel the decline. He was young, but spare time in the dimly lit corridors and passages showed the true character of the stronghold. Only the more public parts of the castle were maintained anymore. Sinnares did his best to keep up appearances, but that was all they were.

The dreaded dinner was to be the occasion of announcement of the marriage. A hearty feast of the finest beefalo would mark the first step on a new path for the family. Most members looked forward to this change, seeing the lovely Lirina as a new infusion of strength for the family. Sinnares, by all accounts, was making the best choice of his life.

Salashik disagreed.

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Old Haunts and Rusty Methods
Sinnares made his way through the winding halls beneath the castle. Two days ago, raging fires had a major majority of his peoples' farm land destroyed, and he needed a quiet place to think. His thoughts wandered, and he paid no mind where he was headed. He followed a mechanical path, one he had followed many times, knowing his destination by heart. Even though it had been some time since he last visited this part of 'his' castle, his legs knew where to go and didn't need any conscious effort to take him there. As he went further and further down he ran his hands against the walls. They once told great stories of his ancestors' glories, but now told tales only of rot and oblivion, a perfect symbol and reminder of his family's current estate.

He passed the threshold of his destination, an old forge from the earlier years of his family's legacy. It had once provided the armaments of the countless soldiers and knights of his family, but like everything else down here, it wasted away into obscurity. No one but him ever came down here, that's what made it perfect to do some quiet thinking. He use to frequent the forge, using it as a sort of base-of-operations for the ambitions of his youth; however, wracking his memory, he realized that he hadn't been down here since he adopted Blake. There hadn't been a need or desire to come back here. 'It's been awhile. Funny how a need for solitude, contemplation, and action would lead me to my old haunts. Even after all these years, I guess old habits refuse to die.'

He surveyed his old base. Everything looked as dangy and dust covered as he left it, everything except the sword. The masterpiece of an ancient time now laid on the floor, the splintered remains of a table beneath it. 'Must have broken free of its mount and fallen. Understandable with the state of this place.' He made his way around the forge and over to the sword. He examined the mount. 'Hmm still looks strong... rather odd.' With great effort and straining most the muscles in his body, he lifted the sword back into place. He sat admiring his word and the sword, mounted once again in its home. It was an ancient blade, older than the family who currently possessed it. He remembered tales from his grandfather grangerizing how it was forged during the Crusades of Abel by one of his original Twelve Apostles. It had been in their family since its founding, wielded by the head of the family. That was until Sinnares became that head. Sinnares possessed no skills as a swordsman, preferring the shadier side of fighting. Because of this, he was unable to do much more than lift the thing. He had often thought of selling it, it's history alone would bring a king's ransom into the family coffers. But every time he got close to selling it, he couldn't finish the deed. So instead he had it moved to down here, out of everyday sight. When he was younger, seeing it down here gave him the drive to continue his efforts in restoring his family to a glory that would be worthy of such a blade, now it just served as a painful reminder, much like this entire forge did. He wanted to gift it to his sons, but was hesitant. One showed more inclinations to Sinnares' old methods, and Sinnares doubted he would be able to wield it even if he tried. The other swore off swords and such methods of fighting some time ago. For a time, the sword would most likely waste away here, no one knowing of its existence.

Sighing, he moved on. In the far corner of the forge sat a small desk and chair, that was his destination. He pulled out the chair and sat down, the old lumber straining and creaking under his weight. He sat in silence like this, hands under his chin, leaning on the desk, for close to two hours. He looked over the desk occasionally, old maps and plans still strewn everywhere. Schemes left unfinished, orders left unsent. He eventually lowered his hands over the chairs arms. 'I guess it can't be helped. It was sabotage plain and simple. If we are to find who is responsible, I am going to need to dredge up old methods and flesh out old help. ' He rummaged through the desk taking a few ledgers, papers, and maps stuffing them into travel cloak.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

"That lying sack of beefalo dung!" Savanara stomped across the room, pacing back and forth.

"Calm yourself Savanara, and remember your surroundings. We are currently guests here."

She glared at Sinnares, her voice notable hushed. "How can you be so calm in the face of those lies. I don't care about your history with the Rosemunds, the man is obviously guilty."

Sinnares said nothing, letting his Sworn Sword vent her anger. She continued, "It's all too damn convenient. A few days after we receive her, fires break out in our lands. Almost instantly we receive word of Sir Rosemund's 'generous' offer for help. We then run into a patrol on our borders, a patrol I might add which would have had the means to start the fires and flee. We get here and the first thing said is insults and an offer to take the reward you have earned yourself. The damned man set it all up, you can't give into his offer."

Having given her time to vent and noticing that she was starting to cool down, Sinnares finally interjected. "You are saying nothing new or that hasn't crossed my mind. I wont give in so easily, so you needn't worry. I still have a few tricks of my own. "

The door to their lavish guest room opened and Gliven walked in. "Your eldest got in a duel My Lord. Gave the Rosemund's son quite the beating."

"Did he now?" Sinnares couldn't help but let a faint smile creep onto his face.

This was going to complicate things though. Negotiations were already going to be hard, and with this news they would probably be even harder now. Especially after he would need to remove his soon to be daughter-in-law from the bargaining table. It's not that he didn't think trading her would profitable, it was more of the fact that he couldn't use her as a bargaining chip even if he wanted to. She was part of a deal that was paying off old debts, and his debtors wouldn't appreciate him trading away their payment.

"Where are my boys now?"

"Sir Blake is still within the walls of the keep, Sir Rodrik has left to wander the city."

"Hmmm. That boy is no end to causing problems. Savanara, enter the city and fetch my Eldest. We are going to need him."

Her puzzled look made him elaborate on his thoughts, "We need to find proof, do we not? I'm rather rusty in my old age, but my son's skills are still sharp. We are going to need his help."

She smiled as she realized to what her Lord was referring to. "Right away My Lord." Without a word more she slipped from the room and made way to the city.
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Ga•a (1st)
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