Rial knows what he has to do.
Rial has spent the last two days knowing what he has to do and not being able to accept it. Bargaining, desperately trying to negotiate, even praying the somehow, someway, both Plourr and Eiattu could be saved. But now, at the end of the time limit, standing in a meeting room in front of the holoprojector, Rial knows
The features of Baron Aronnse flicker into view and stabilize a moment later, smiling. “Count Pernon,” he begins, “I trust you’ve made your choice?”
Rial takes a breath, nods, looks the Baron straight in the eye. “Yes. I've made my decision.
“Eiattu will not be seen in the hands of the Priamsta again. I will not sign the treaty.”
He cuts the transmission even as Aronnse, his features sharp in anger and confusion, begins to speak. He cuts the transmission and turns away in one moment, facing the small assemblage of guards and advisors and the Grand Duke (father please help please father), blinking to keep the tears pricking at his eyes from falling.
And then he leaves, walking through the palace, taking lesser-used corridors and secret passages, guards shadowing him quietly, until he turns and tells them that they have to stay. They protest, of course, but there’s a light in his eyes that makes it difficult to argue, and so they take up position outside the door.
Rial goes through, onto the roof, and lies there, staring dry-eyed up at the stars.
He couldn’t save her. He couldn’t rescue his princess, couldn’t keep her from harm no matter how he tried and he. Has. Failed.
I’m sorry, Plourr, but now that he’s alone the tears won’t come.
I’m sorry, Plourr, and it's done, she's gone, she's gone and she's not coming back.
I'm sorry, Plourr, but it doesn't matter because he's made his choice.