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Rial's been waiting ever since the call from Hilunda came in. Waiting, chewing nervously on his fingernails, wishing and hoping and praying that somehow this is all some big mistake, a nightmare, a hoax.

Inside, he knows that it's not true.

But oh, oh how he wishes it was.

Date: 2006-12-22 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
The call, when it comes, is not a call. It's a precorded message, shot on a primitive flatcam. There is no background to give away where it was shot; just a black wall.

Figurehead Count Saume is nowhere to be seen when the picture comes into focus. Instead, charismatic bearded Baron Aronnse settles himself before the cam. He is a sharp man with pale skin and dark hair, facial hair, and eyes; he has always looked intent, even in the best of times, but he is even more so now. He folds his hands before him on the tabletop, wearing the purple uniform of a noble from an excellent family and its accompanying accoutremonts; its cape, its medals, its ostentatious sash. "The Priamsta have in their custody the Princess Isplourrdacartha Estillo," he says without preamble. He produces a dark strip of leather (http://fighting-mad.livejournal.com/4100.html?thread=118532#t118532) with a simple bluestone. It was a band, once, before it was snapped, and the baron holds it pinched between his thumb and forefinger, allowing it to dangle well within view of the cam.

"The princess shall be returned when the throne of Eiattu IV is turned over to the Priamsta. To that end, enclosed is a datastream with an agreement that Count Pernon will be required to sign. It states that the Priamsta are the rightful rulers of Eiattu IV and that he and the princess are abdicating willingly, entrusting the planet to the nobles. It stipulates that they will go into exile offworld."

He lowers the band, resting his hand on the table once more, and he leans in. "The count has two days from this moment on to sign and to put his affairs in order." Beyond that, say his dark eyes, his flat expression, I cannot be held responsible for the actions of lesser nobles.

Baron Aronnse nearly smiles.

The recording ends.

Date: 2006-12-28 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
It's hard to say how long the Grand Duke Gror Pernon has been standing in the doorway behind Rial. Maybe for a few seconds. Maybe through four viewings of the recording. Dressed in the nondescript black civilian clothing that he favors these days, his eyes on his son, the grand duke looks tired in the low light.

With the recording halted, the elder Pernon steps out of the doorway, and he leans over Rial's shoulder to press 'stop' on the player. "Enough, Rial." He's quiet a moment, and his voice has lost much of its edge when he repeats, "Enough."

Date: 2006-12-29 01:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
He nods distractedly in return to the bow, but he didn't make the trip to the palace to be Grand Duke Pernon. Those days are over now; it's a title and little more. "I happened to speak to an old friend of mine today; he told me that the palace was in a quiet uproar, if there's any such thing." He shakes his head softly, face drawn. "I'm sorry, Rial."

Date: 2006-12-29 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
A hand settles on his shoulder, and whether or not Rial is still looking at the desk, his father is looking up at him calmly. "If you had been there, they would have both of you now. You're not going to gain a thing from blaming yourself for something that you had no power over."

Date: 2006-12-29 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
"She's a strong woman, your wife." Gror almost smiles, folding his arms over his chest, but all potential mirth is gone quickly. "What are you going to tell them?"

Date: 2006-12-29 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
"Not much of a choice," he says, looking up at his tall son steadily and sadly, too. He and Isplourrdacartha started off rocky with that punch, but he respects her; black bones, he has even slowly grown to like her. And he knows very well how Rial feels about her. "Is it?"

He's silent a moment, standing there in the deserted conference room, bushy white brows drawn together.

"Son, have you seen any proof that they have her?"

Gror is asking if he has any evidence that she's alive, without saying the words.

Date: 2006-12-29 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
Gror won't say it, either. He's certainly thinking it, but he won't say it. "Use that," he says, with all the wisdom of years in the ruling class on a planet where kidnapping is a common (capital) crime. "Demand to see evidence that she is alright. Buy yourself some time."

Date: 2006-12-29 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
Gror Pernon has never been a touchy feely man, nor a touchy feely father. But he reaches out all the same and rests a hand--stronger than it looks--on Rial's shoulder. "You can't possibly know," he says, "but you have two things going for you. One, they're a band of idiots, but they are not idiotic enough to do away with their only bargaining chip. They're desperate, and she is all they have. And two--" He smiles, then, faint as it is. "It would take a Sith of a lot to bring down that princess of yours."

The smile is gone fast to be replaced by steely, steady calm. "Whatever you choose to do, I will be here. Do what you need to do, Rial."

Date: 2006-12-29 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sw-npc.livejournal.com
Gror folds his arms again, glancing up, listening. "Yes?"

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