Battle For Elune: Finale
July 30, 2020, 4:30 p.m.
Outside Arx - Mourning Isles near Estroch - Estroch
Comments and Log
After a day and night of battles fought both at sea and land, several slightly battered fleets converge on Elune at the break of dawn after any additional patrols around the isle of Estroch and find Elune smoldering. Well, not all of it, of course. And at least it's not on fire anymore, but it looks like the March has gone quiet.
After a day and night of battles fought both at sea and land, several slightly battered fleets converge on Elune at the break of dawn after any additional patrols around the isle of Estroch and find Elune smoldering. Well, not all of it, of course. And at least it's not on fire anymore, but it looks like the March has gone quiet.
When they dock and make their way back to the castle of Elune, they come across a harrowing sight through Elune. There has definitely been a battle here and there have been casualties on both sides. Wild looking men in cobbled together armor, the occasional very large wolfdog, and Seryn and Grim soldiers.
It's pointedly not how any of you left it. Not even Sirius, who left the castle in a far cleaner state.
It doesn't look like there's any dinner prepared because the Hall's banquet table is currently occupied by two dead bodies. One that has been laid to rest cleanly. An elderly gentleman that Sirius recognizes as Nester Stockman, the castellan, has been put at the head of the table and covered up with a white sheet. The other a gently swarthy man wearing a white (now bloody) dasar, kurta, and dhoti. He is also covered up with a white sheet but it's soaked through with blood.
Around them are the bodies of several dozen guards.
Otherwise, it's quiet and awaiting attendants take them to their rooms and supply trays of food and refreshment there and they are allowed to rest for a few days before the sentencing and probable execution just before the trip back to Arx. During this time, the castle is cleaned and the bodies are laid to rest respectfully and Iseulet is scarce as she's trying to free up funds to make sure all damages are quickly seen to and reports are thorough and orders are given.
Bright and early on that day, they're called to a late breakfast (more like a brunch) - a banquet feast in the Hall.
Yes, it's an entirely different table, thank you very much.
And Iseulet is awaiting them, looking less tired than she had been the last few days, standing respectfully to the heroes of Elune. "Good Morning. I thought after some rest and recuperation we might be able to discuss the events of the past week. All the intelligence we are going to gather has been gathered and I wanted to share it with you all? Please won't you all join me for breakfast?"
Domonico checked command + war at difficulty 15, rolling 54 higher.
For his part, Valdemar has been tallying up the losses to his Fleet and Legion these past several days. Thus he looks quite somber when he makes his way into the Hall. At the invitation to breakfast, he inclines his head, though the curiosity in his eyes indicates that he is likely hungrier for the intelligence than for food. But he takes a seat at the table nonetheless, easing into his chair and settling, greeting everyone simply, "Good morning everyone."
Domonico has not stopped since returning back with the other half of the Grim Fleet, the Empyrean Trade Fleet with escort and the prize ships and prisoners that were managed to be taken at the Battle of the Southern Skerry. Assisting both Seryn and Grimhall, he had continued giving advice and instruction where needed.
When he arrives at the meeting/brunch he acknowledges the others respectfully before taking his seat.
Iseulet slides as gracefully as can be expected of her into a chair at the table and attendants supply them with a hearty brunch. Breads and meats and eggs and porridge you choose fruit to place into. Among other various traditional Isle breakfasts, but she tends to favor the fruit porridge, herself. "Ah welcome, help yourselves. Thank you so much for joining me. There's much to talk about. It's been a few days have you all been well? Domonico I hear reports you're all over the island. Thank you." Iseulet laughs, passing the fruit bowl around.
Amongst the talk of the town, a few sailors mention a dark-haired sylph who lingers up in trees and sings herself away with her lute, though doubts fall on those that claim she glows. Clarity lacks as to her name and origin, but Ilira, after days away from the castle, draws a cease to the rumors.
She arrives minutes early to the brunch, her hair bound back and swept loose over her shoulder. She leans to squeeze Iseulet with a warm hug, then settles into the seat to her right. "Thank you for having us," she smiles, though it is faint. Pale hands clasp in her lap as she crosses her legs, the tension of past weeks lingering in the set of her shoulders. Her gaze flickers to Domonico and Valdemar, lips lifted in a bright little half-smile. "Good morning to you both," she adds.
As food is laid out, Valdemar takes bread, meat, and eggs as he listens to their hostess. "I'm as well as might be expected. Just...concerned at what our enemies managed to accomplish here. The ambush they set in the passage we took seemed to indicate that some among them had intimate knowledge of this island. And while we were able to fight through it, their efforts slowed us down enough to allow...whatever happened here in Elune itself," he says of what they found when they finally got back to the city.
Domonico nods his head seriously as prepares some food on his plate. "Yes... well... I have been overlooking your ships and troops and finding better locations to station what you have. I have also looked over the Tempest and the ship did not suffer much damage at all." He turns to Valdemar, "I said it before but I will say it again, your fleet and sailors performed outstandingly. You should be proud."
She beams when Ilira joins them and returns the hug, "Welcome. And I've heard you've been charming the pants off of many. It's been a good distraction, you've brought smiles to many people." Iseulet winks and hunts down a spoon to manage her porridge with. "Indeed, Valdemar. And thank you Domonico... Well, we can begin to put pieces together. Let me just catch everyone up to speed..." And she gives everyone a moment to brace themselves here so that she doesn't completely overwhelm everyone.
"The intelligence I received warning me of these attacks was, from what I can gather, correct. House Helianthus and Warwynd to name two of the culprits behind hiring these sellswords. While Domonico was facing the Fists of Uujakir - the single largest company that attacked - in the south that was targeting the Empyrean Route, Valdemar stumbled upon the Sirocco, Mare Mortem, and Blackwater Legion that have been lying in wait for almost two weeks in the 'lost' passages to the west, across Izarra Bay. I have no idea how they knew of the passage I only half knew about. Never seen for my own eyes. But remember, Skal'daja used to take slaves from this island. Perhaps the information came from them, to perhaps give them an edge?"
"Meanwhile, they transported the last company, the Sea Wolves under the castle plateau and Sirius met them in battle here in the city. They did not want to take the castle, but rather destroy and pillage as much as they could. Unique, because they were a moderately sized company that bred and kept wolfdogs on board their ships. The majority of their dogs were captured and the kennelmaster is rehabilitating them. The mercenaries fought to the very last, crazed..."
She reaches for her juice and lets the group digest that for a moment before continuing on. "From Valdemar's battle, there were no survivors. But, Domonico took 850 prisoners. From all of this, almost all Captains and their right hands were captured alive. Nine, in total. Ilira, however, struck it out on her own and investigated the burning watchtower on the barrier island of Altaira. She found two men and brought me back their bodies. They were identified as the twins Artyom, the Captain of the Sea Wolves and Arkadiy, his second in command. This brings the total up to eleven and accounts for all the leaders of the companies. And to this I say? it is a relief. Very good job, to all of you." And to that, Iseulet dips her head.
"Now let me tell you about what happened here." Iseulet gestures to the hall. "Sirius had uncovered an assassin waiting under the stairs. He was trying to pick the latch and sneak in undetected to kill me when the chaos of the attack of Elune was well underway. Sirius eventually left to command the troops down there and the castle went quiet. I was busy taking some council from my dear friend, Nester Stockman, when refugees from the town were being herded into the castle. We opened the portcullis wide to accept them and when that happened, an Obsidian Huntsman slipped in disguised as a merchant to end my life. He had gotten close to Nester the past few weeks and? Nester did not see it coming when he took his life. Guards and soldiers all rose to defend me and in the end, a few dozen of my men fell but so did he."
Ilira exhales a breath. Her stillness is unwavering, unnerving, as she regards the faces of her allies. A silence lingers as Iseulet finishes, lost in thought. Then, "Iseulet," she begins carefully, "Arkadiy--he did not make it? I tried to keep him alive, aboard the ship. For further questioning and, in part, because he tried to defend me against his brother." She seems almost to say more, but stops herself.
Domonico hmms and rubs his chin as he listens to Iseulet's summary, nodding along with that that he already knows. "Well... we've definitely stopped this attack. I severely doubt that others will be willing to accept taking coin for attack Elune after this."
Eating as he listens, Valdemar's brow remains deeply furrowed. "Scouts. You need to bring experienced scouts in to properly map this island so that patrols know where to look, in addition to what to look for. We were incredibly fortunate to have won here. Defenders caught by surprise as badly as we were usually don't live to tell the tale," the Duke remarks as he looks around at the others at the table.
Ilira inclines her head in agreement. "Aye, scouts are a good next step." A smile slight, she adds, "Well done to you, both. I wish I'd been present to see it. And thank you," she continues to Domonico, "for your help in getting me to Altaira."
She looks to Ilira and shakes her head slowly. "He made it to Elune, barely... But the Mercies were on the field treating soldiers. He bled out by the time that they were able to get to him I am told." Iseulet says solemnly. "I agree Valdemar. I had organized several expeditions into Estroch's interior but every one fell through and then before I could reorganize myself the war was upon us. It won't happen again. I will bring a team in, in two weeks time to start on the scouting and mapping. I just want to finish the judgement and execution here, then head back Arx to relate all this to someone and... arrange something big. I hope. And then I will gather a few people. Perhaps contact the Society of Explorers to lend me someone."
Ilira dips a slow nod to Iseulet. A moment lingers, then, "I'll help there too, if I'm able and you'd like," she says.
"Good. If they /do/ come after you again, we should be better prepared," Valdemar says between bites of food, nodding slightly when she mentions possibly recruiting from the Society of Explorers. Once more, he looks around at the others at the table, and then goes on to ask, "Any idea of how many of our enemies escaped this battle? I don't think anyone got away from the ambush they set for us, but it was dark in that cavern, so it is difficult to know for sure."
"I would like that, thank you Ilira. If you're wanting to come there's always room on the ships for you," Iseulet says with an affirmative nod. "Escapees, to my knowledge - none. There have been no ships sighted fleeing Estroch, and no reports of captives making an escape from the soldiers... I don't think anyone survived whatever happened in the passage with you, Valdemar. I sent a team to recover the ships and bring them into port and they couldn't find a single body. Domonico's surprise meant they were dead in the water and if any escaped, it would have been to be marooned on the Skerry and to die of starvation or drown. It's possible some fled during the attack on Elune - into the forests. I can have someone flush them out if they are there." She says thoughtfully.
Valdemar shakes his head a little. "Though we clearly wanted to kill most of them, we want some to get away, off this island. To take word back to their fellow sellswords about what occurred here. If any can be found in the forest, they should be followed to ensure they are causing no more trouble, but allowed to get away if they are not. We /want/ this story to make the rounds, but without letting any of our captives go, if at all possible," he says, a slight smile appearing on his face for a moment.
Domonico thinks carefully, nodding to Ilira in response to her earlier thanks. "In regards to your suggestion Duke Valdemar, remember that I took a considerable amount of prisoners. They could be either released in staggered amounts to spread the story or... in the case of their leaders, ransomed or even... if you feel this may be worthwhile... brought in to bend the knee properly?" He taps the table, "I do have issue with the Sirocco though... that's also the name of Magnotta's caravel."
Some well-dressed troglodyte comes ambling down an eastern wing of the hall with his every movement stiff, haggard. They once knew him as Sirius Valardin, sure, but here lies a deeper reflection of such known being, his eyes sunken and their frame bruised-dark with rings of sleeplessness. There's fixed locomotion to his legs, his left moving with a brash freeflow while his other's rigid, inelastic, betraying some healing ligament within robbing it of fluidity. By the time he finds a chair, it's one he curses with the full weight of his unimpeded body, sprawling out limbs and torso and head into its various segments with a breathless _huff_. "Greetings, everyone," his voice there rises, mild in tone, raspy. "We're discussing the near thousand lives at our mercy, I hear?"
"About that. We are due at High Noon in the market square. The judges are deliberating and making their prescriptions for punishments, reviewing all things... but I will be making an example out of them." Iseulet states grimly, almost a perfect impression of Valdemar. "Given the political climate of the Isles and the upcoming war I cannot take thralls but my eyes have been opened and I can definitely see where thralldom comes from. How it solves a lot of problems..." She trails off, shaking her head when Sirius arrives and she flashes him a smile. "Ah you've joined us at length." What an amazing thing it must be to be a Prince, so fashionably late and have the hostess be amused rather than irked! "Help yourself to some breakfast." And she nods at his question. "I thought perhaps to present them with a choice. The first - to present them with the offer to negotiate their release with their homelands. It's not a hostage situation perse, but if their lieges or Masters or whatever they answer to refuse to pay for their lives and the trouble they've caused then I will feed them to the sharks. The other option, would be to bend the knee and spend thirteen months of service on the island. I was considering a third option, allowing them to take vows to the gods and join the faith but Sirius has cautioned me against it. I wouldn't want to upset the Faith."
Ilira's eyes warm on Iseulet. "Of course," she says, with a little nod that sways her curls. Her smile curves slow as honey at Sirius' arrival, and she greets, "Good morning, your Highness." She softens to see his hindered motion and manner, then asks, "Are you healing well? Sleep well?" The turn of conversation draws her attention back as she pauses, calm in consideration. "Take me with a grain of salt," she begins, "since I am inclined to excessive mercy. But I favor the second option quite wholly. Examples need be made, but not more deaths, I think." Her lips purse a moment.
Valdemar nods when Sirius asks what they are up to. "Good morning, your Highness," he greets the man, but otherwise remains quiet, listening to what the Marquessa has to say. Once more, he frowns deeply as he goes on to tell her, "I would suggest that the leaders be given no choice. Every one of them should be executed for their part in this attack. And the rest should witness those executions. We need to give them reason to fear crossing us again, if we are going to consider taking any sort of oaths from them. But I would agree with Prince Sirius...letting them take Godsworn oaths carries a number of perils, not the least of which is introduction of any heresies they believe in into the Faith." He then resumes eating.
"Oh no, absolutely. I'm not even sure the soldiers knew /why/ they were fighting. I mean, where else am I going to collect Ivan's present from?" Iseulet tsks. "I will be performing the executions myself. It's my belief that if you are to decide the fate of someone you must be willing to carry it out yourself. And I expect most of Elune and the whole of the captives to be there to bear witness." She's just not playing around today. "Also, Domonico, I didn't realise the Sirocco was the name of one of your ships. It's a type of wind is it not? I'm sure that's where the similarities end."
Domonico taps his finger on the table at the suggestions from the others, thinking carefully as he is wont to do. "Executing the leaders may give the others reason to fear us. Conversely, there is the possibility that if you do *not* kill those leaders... You have someone who essentially owes their life to you...as well as a point of contact for negotiations or reparations?"
Sirius hums quietly, his thin-slitted gaze roving across the sumptuous repast laid out before him some time ago at Iseulet's suggestion. Then, lines tighten around his bent nose, and he shakes his head with mild disrelish; "I'm okay," he tells Iseulet, voice low and cool. Ilira's worry warrants his attention, and his head turns to meet her; her and her smile, his own smirk insufficiently aslant to seem anything beyond polite. "I was unhorsed, and fell on my knee. Should be fine in a couple of days." Valdemar's greeting drags him away from his lull, and he straightens, feeling suddenly at a lack of decorum in the Duke's presence altogether his fault. "Very wise, my Lord," Sirius opines on the matter of leaders; "They're the ones with the guile and wiles; the ones who took part in the negotiations," he says after Valdemar, "The tribes that came with them, well, they probably did not have much of a choice."
"If these had been Abandoned that we set out to bring into the Compact, I might agree with you, Count Magnotta. These, however, accepted money to attack us. And they will do so again, if offered enough coin. Letting them live will be an invitation to do so again," Valdemar warns, though ultimately it is not his decision. After a moment, he nods at Sirius and then goes on to add, "I'd use sea crosses, myself. That message tends to last." He then returns to enjoying his food.
She nods to Domonico, "Unfortunately here in the Isles, if we were sticking to traditions - all of them, all Captains and grunts alike would be crucified on sea crosses, their bodies left around the beaches to send a very clear message." Iseulet agrees with Valdemar, who reads her mind apparently and contemplates, "The reason why they attacked was to send a message and it's clear to me that they need a message sent back. I prefer to be very direct and very clear about my communications with all Islanders traditional or not and I believe, firmly, that the message I want to send is a bunch of heads in a purpleheart box. The message will read, undoubtedly, 'Do not fuck with me' with far more tact and wit than my tongue will ever possess." Iseulet finally tastes her porridge again as if discussing the weather. "Remember also they are not tribes, they are sellsword companies. They are hired to kill - but the Captains and their Voices knew precisely to what end Ivan and his men are fighting for with Skal'daja. Ironically enough, the perfect punishment for them would be thralldom. It would ensure they stay on my lands and my city is rebuilt at the expense of their labor applied where I see fit." She pulls her shoulders up. "It's a kinder solution than to slaughter nigh a thousand men. What of my people? They bend the knee and then suddenly the people here - almost all of them exslaves and thralls - have to look the people that would have killed them and burned their homes to the ground in the eye and treat them as equals? What kind of person would I be creating a haven away from thralldom and slavery only to use it? But I have a feeling the whole of the Compact would cavalcade outside of my door from morning til night and that would very much disrupt my sleep. I would rather not have my sleep disturbed, personally."
Sirius says, "They might be from a particularly wealthy ethnic group of Abandoned, but they do not possess the Arvani enlightenment of the Compact- they're tribes. Tribes even if they're selling their crude swords to the highest bidder."
Domonico thinks again, "I believe that the 'worth' of these sellswords has been considerably reduced though. After all... they failed... utterly in their contract and have had all their ships seized or sunk. Several of the sellsword companies were... comprehensively wiped out." He gestures to Valdemar at that point, "Have we not proven our point well enough? Those that I engaged and defeated knew they have been beaten comprehensively."
Valdemar nods in agreement with his protege. "Exactly. The message needs to be in the language of those you want to send it to. Mercy, particularly for the leaders, will teach their fellow sellswords, and those who hired them, the wrong lesson. They will see it as a sign of weakness. Personally, I'd throw the rest of our captives in, as I doubt that there are any likely to peacefully assimilate into our society, but that /would/ be a lot of blood," he admits before turning to Domonico to go on, "Perhaps if the point we were trying to prove was to these companies. It is all the rest of the mercenaries out there that need the deterrent, along with those who would hire them."
Ilira laces pale hands atop the tablecloth. Her silence is long as the others speak, though she gazes on Valdemar in contemplation for a moment. "But, Duke Valdemar, I think the opposite is so. Allowing them their lives, in service or otherwise, is likely to turn their loyalties to the one who offers it." Her attention settles away to Iseulet as she continues, "I am in agreement with you both about the heads of the leaders. But murder of the captives is ruthlessness in excess." The bow of her mouth softens in a thoughtful purse. "Every soldier has his reason," she murmurs, more to herself.
"Since the time of Alarice the Great," Sirius very quietly contemplates, but his voice - in its surreptitiously gentle low-cut - rises to meet the room, just like he himself straightens with some pains and hindrance from his lower torso up against his chair. "The Compact has defended against outside threats always with the belief, that justice and honor must be the first components of every act laid upon foreign threats, for we're not only ourselves; we're not simply Elune, and the Isles. My lady Iseulet represents the King, and house Thrax, in how she deals with these women and men. Duke Valdemar certainly knows this, too." It is strange, for an Oathlander to be bargaining for outsiders lives, yet here he is, austere and distant in how his elbows lay out across the table and the burden of his body presses to them. His vision settles on Iseulet after, but it takes to roam amidst his words; "You hold over these combatants too much guilt, Marquessa. They must've been fed lies of you, that you're the greatest evil, something ulterior and untrue. Prove them wrong. Prove them we're better, and not simply by separating their heads from their shoulders."
She nods, "I had no intention of putting them to the sword, Sirius. I said earlier I'm working out the options. Choices, since it's so envogue in the Compact now to have them." Iseulet pulls her shoulders up helplessly. "I don't know of another ruler that lets their criminals have choices in how they repay their debt to society other than Duke Valdemar, here." She gestures to the grim man across from her. "I am his protege. I am his vassal. I follow his lead. It will be ransom - for lack of a better term. If their ransom falls through, it will be death. The other option will be to inspire them to bend the knee. The third option of allowing them to join the Faith as godsworn seems to be forcing that upon them and the Faith. I wouldn't want to overstep my boundaries there."
"It is not me that you have to convince, Mistress Ilira. Ultimately, the choice is the Marquessa's, and she already agrees with you," Valdemar says between bites of his food. He then inclines his head at what Iseulet says the fates of those men will be, saying nothing more on the matter.
Iseulet adds a moment later, "If the Captains are found guilty by the Island Judges, then the matter is out of my hands, it's likely they will prescribe death."
Domonico nods his head, visibly unhappy with those he took captive now likely to suffer Isles 'justice'. "The ships that have been captured? I assume they will go towards replacing the losses of the Grim Fleet? Will some go towards Seryn's fleet? The Empyrean?"
"I don't know any of the numbers. I assume the damaged enemy ships will be going to repair what was damaged of ours, and then I've asked for them to be distributed equally after replacing what was lost. Some to go to you personally, Domonico - for your efforts. All depending on the numbers, of course." Iseulet explains with a nod.
"They're mercenaries," Sirius reminds her, seemingly as displeased as Domonico himself to their possible fates; "They came here and fought for coin, perhaps to better their poor lives. They were tools used by other Lords of the Isles to harm you. That their terrible choices shouldn't have consequences isn't being put to question, but the possible killing of them should their masters not bail them out? Forgive me, Duke Valdemar, but I am certain that even at times in your ruling you must've taken a step back and understood the merit of mercy. Especially for a land as fledgling as Elune, it wouldn't do it good to have its beginnings be associated with a hecatomb," Sirius pushes aside his plate of mashed goods and beans and things, repugned by the ensuing conversation and thus from his meal — shown by how his eyes move from this Valdemar, to that Iseulet. "Why not use them? Hire them? You've said so yourself — Elune is heavily depopulated. You have the coin, but not the people," the Prince suddenly rises, obstinate and his voice rising with a bulk of helplessness; "These are the people you wanted!" He beseeches of her, slapping the back of his left hand into his other's palm. "Warriors, and workers, and sturdy, destitute folk who'll be begging for direction and leadership once you kill their masters."
Ilira offers a slight nod to Valdemar, her smile faint. "I was simply compelled to make the point." Her eyes flicker to Sirius as he opines and she listens, with lips quirked in approval. "It is as you will, Iseulet," she says to her friend. "I concur with Prince Sirius' viewpoint, but trust you to decide favorably upon your circumstance." She lingers a moment, gaze admiring, then gives Iseulet's shoulder a little squeeze. "I support you without condition, anyway." Under the echo of her voice, a soft scrabbling grows closer, heard just beyond the entrance of the chamber. Her attention snaps away to it. A tiny blur of brown and white, her pet squirrel darts across the marble toward her with nut between teeth, then hops and scrambles up her arm to her shoulder. Dimples bloom as she grins wide, despite herself.
Valdemar sets his fork down and looks between Sirius and Ilira. "She's already said that these people are going to get the mercy that you're suggesting, all but their leaders. As for me, I won't argue that mercy has its place. I just don't believe that place is with those who come to kill me or mine. But again, this is not my decision to make," he tells them both before pushing his plate away.
Domonico hmms softly, "We could split them up somewhat? I could potentially take a number to Cyrto Major? Perhaps put them to good use there?"
She looks to Sirius and frowns. "Indeed, mercy has a place." Iseulet reaches out for his hand. "I think you need to have some faith in me. I don't think I intend on doing what you think I'm going to do. Every single one will bend the knee, and they will love me. Adore me. Faith, Sirius. But one must play to optics." But her energy is waning and she looks tired. Her eyes, cast up to a window on the wall and she lifts her chin. It's time.
Ilira inclines her dark head in regard. Behind the thick fall of her hair, the squirrel chitters in something like agreement.
Sirius is mightily ahead of Iseulet in the topic of frowning- especially his right brow, divided into separated halves by a there-running scar, that seems to twitch every now and then upwards with an undercurrent of ferocity, as though daring her to disagree with him. As she takes his hand, this act seems mollified a tad, and the fingers at the end of it tighten a gripping coil of pale, but broad digits around hers, holding her tightly. "I have faith," he tells her, her words serving only to compound this ensuing thought; "Just like everyone else in this room, otherwise we wouldn't have risked our lives in seeing this land pull through." Then, his appendage loosens away from Iseulet's grip and the dusty-dark, lofty Prince turns to the various Lords and Ilira in the room with a deferential bow of the head. "If you'll excuse me, my Lords; Goodwoman, there is a kennel master who requires my direction," he next informs, turning, ambling out of the room with a palm restful against his navel.
And so the time has come. She places her diadem upon her head, straps on her alaricite pauldron and talons and straightens her spine, taking on the regal bearing of a Queen. It's reached high noon and the day is as crystal clear as the day they arrived. Iseulet leads the way to the market square which has been cleared to host a newly built stage for her and the nine Captains and co-Captains all tied to posts. She shares the stage with a table draped in thick black cloth, too. The uneven structure underneath betraying something concealed. The rest of the 850ish captives have been shackled together in a long string and lined up close to the stage to watch. Many of Elune's residents have also gathered to hear the pronouncement.
Iseulet wastes no time. Neither hers, nor theirs.
"Citizens of Elune, we gather here today to look upon the faces of those men who took coin for our lives. To destroy what we have worked so very long and hard to achieve. We have come to bear witness to their fates." She looks over to the side of the stage and nods to a woman dressed in black bearing the trappings of a judge of the Mourning Isles. She hands a paper to Iseulet and departs to the side of the stage silently and solemnly. Opening the paper Iseulet reads and places it under her arm and approaches the table.
"Since two of our esteemed guests could not be here with us today as they have already joined the wheel, I have arranged for them to hear their pronouncement, anyway." She steps toward the table and pulls off the black cloth to reveal twelve large jars and twelve small jars. While they are all mostly full of some briney pale yellow solution, three large jars have heads in them and three of the smaller ones have hearts. The small jars have been neatly labeled it seems, though names from this distance were hard to make out.
Iseulet turns and begins at the left side of the stage and begins. She details in formality the long list of charges they were being held accountable for. Murder. Treason. Conspiracy. It's all there and she skips nothing. Thorough, she is, and finally ends with:
"Captain Gerasim, his Voices Geir and Hallmar of the Fists of Uujakir - Guilty.
Captain Maksim and Voice Dragan of the Blackwater Legion - Guilty.
Captain Balthazaar and Voice Amenah of The Sirocco - Guilty.
Captain Praxedes and Voice Monserrat of the Mare Mortem - Guilty.
Finally, Captain Artyom and Voice Arkadiy of the Sea Wolves - Guilty." - with this one she gestures to the two heads already in jars.
"The penalty is death."
Iseulet turns from the crowd and faces the Captains. A long moment passes as she considers them, quietly asks for their last words to be kept between the both of them and raises her clawed hand high, causing him to scream just before his innards hit the stage between them. She isn't cruel, however. Well, more than she has to be. She does not let the man suffer, but instead reaches in through the slice she'd just made and into the chest cavity, pulling out a still beating heart which she delivers to her collection of jars.
"My mother always told me the best way to a man's heart was through the stomach," she comments mostly to herself as she moves to the next.
Such is the slow pace at which she delivers justice to them all. Methodical and without flinching. Without the heat of malice and hatred and without joy or delight. It was what it was.
Once all of the hearts are collected and placed into the jars - some still twitching - Iseulet finally turns to the multitude of captives below her and addresses them.
"Just a few short years ago, for your crimes the punishment would have been taken by House Seryn as thralls. Your lives would have been mine without choice. Your families would never see you again. Your children and your children's children born here would be mine until reparations would have been judged as repaid. A fate only slightly less cruel than execution depending on whom you ask... But things have changed in the Isles and I stand representing a new land that no longer practices this form of punishment. It is not how I choose to rule Estroch and for this - this precise reason - that your benefactors were hired you to march on this island and to bring it low. They stood on the side of slavery and thralldom."
"However, It's become clear to me -" here, Iseulet holds up the blood stained paper in her clawed, bloody hand, "-that none of you knew, truly, who had hired you to do this job. They kept it to themselves in the event that if any of you were captured, the truth would not reach my ears. But it has. The Houses of Helianthus and Warwynd to name a few, march on the Compact with the aid of Skal'daja, the city of chains. The city of slavery. They would have us keep our practices of thralldom. They would have you stripped of all choice and become slaves."
She lets that sink in. "But here, in the Compact, we have to make Choices. Our choice was to give up the practice of slavery and thralldom as a whole. It was a hard choice to make, but we are standing by it. Further, I have had to make a choice about what to do with these lives that are now mine." Iseulet gestures to all of them. "I have chosen give you choice. I present to you two choices. Each man will decide his own fate:"
"Your first choice is to stay a captive until I negotiate the terms of your release with your homelands. I will be asking a fee to cover the damages you have caused during the battles. However, if your homelands refuse to submit payment for your safe return, you will be fed to the sharks."
" Your second choice is to accept responsibility. Join House Seryn as free men and women and stand with the Compact. If you choose this option, you will spend thirteen months in the shrines. You will help to rebuild and repair the damages done. At the end of these thirteen months you may send for your family to settle here in safety."
" I will give you thirteen days to decide."
Now, she turns to her subjects and addresses them. "These mercenaries were sent to make an example out of me. Out of you. Your blood was to be a message to the rest of the Mourning Isles and the Compact. So therefore, we must send one back." Iseulet turns to the judge and nods, who in turn calls up several men with axes. Their heads claimed from their corpses, they are dropped individually into jars and then packed into a large chest of purpleheart wood and carried off to the docks. Their bodies and other bits and bobs are carried off to the sea, where there are many sharks circling and awaiting their meal.
It is finished. Iseulet turns and moves off the stage, still quite covered in blood, and moves back to the castle for a well deserved bath and to pack for their trip back to Arx.
Iseulet checked charm + seduction at difficulty 15, rolling 41 higher.
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