Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#1
The whole of Amber seemed to be awash in silence. No one felt much like speaking. Business was conducted in hushed tones. Most people seemed distracted, and of course they all were. Everyone, from the meanest peasant to the most noble of dignitaries, was waiting for the inevitable news. Olin, King of Amber, was on his deathbed, and had been too sick to even eat or drink for weeks. His supernatural endurance had been drained, slowly but surely, of a mysterious cause that simply could not be explained. Of all the people who might understand the working of their own inner Pattern and how to stop this disease, it was Olin, and yet he was falling prey to it, helpless to prevent it.

Worst of all was the king's own silence. Even in his weakened state, it seemed he was aware of what went on around him, but yet he named no heir.

His wife, the Queen Eileen, had stayed in her room, away from the man, taking what comfort she could from her son Vaelus. The eldest son, Bator, stood watch by his father's bedside, and occassionally Svaltus would enter the room as well to check in. He would make brief eye contact with Bator before heading out to wait elsewhere. The only other child to see him before his will to live finally gave out was the young Princess Dubiel, born out of wedlock but still raised in Amber like most of his children. She sang a song for him, one of his favorites that he had sung for her as a lullaby when she was young. A noted bard and shapechanger, she appeared to her father in her true form, drawing out a smile from the old man. As she entered the final verse, the old man flickered his hand, motioning for Bator to come nearer, and patted the eldest's hand with his own.

The king was barely a shadow of his former self. He seemed skeletal, shrunken, barren of the superior vitality that had defined him all his life. He then closed his eyes and went to sleep. Svaltus entered the room several seconds later, followed closely by Vaelus. Dubiel finished her song, and then sat back. The king was still, his chest barely rising.

Then there came a gust of wind as the window on the far side of the chamber blew open. The light of the sun shown onto the king's bed, and his body seemed to glow golden as if infused now with the Pattern itself. Amazed, the four children turned to the window to see a ghostly vision of the Unicorn, floating in the middle of the air just outside the window. The Unicorn was known to be the spiritual representation of the Pattern itself, much as the Serpent was known to be the representation of the Logrus. To see the Unicorn is considered to be a sign of good fortune, yet for whom was this sign of the Unicorn meant to bless?

Eventually the Unicorn turned and then its image blew away into nothingness with the wind -- gone as quickly as it had come. When they turned their eyes to the bed, they discovered that Olin's body was gone as well. There was no trace of him left.

Amber was rulerless, and without a named heir.
 
Jan 7, 2009
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#2
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

So the old fool was finally gone.

To say Vaelus was unmoved by his passing would not strictly be true, but it was one more of cold anger than sadness; anger for the pain it put mother through. Anger for all of the pain he had ever put her through, with his wenching and even going so far as to acknowledge his bastard offspring, bring them to his court, allow them to sing to him at his deathbed...

Perhaps it wasn't all about mother; Vaelus had never been close to his father. It was bad enough that Bator received all of his time and attention, hundreds of years trying to groom that dunderhead for rule and still he couldn't grasp more than the basic principles of leadership and planning that anyone in Amber could manage. It was enough to turn Vaelus' stomach, to see such bone-headedness nurtured while he went practically ignored.

Still, even as he lay dying, Father was not so foolish as to name Bator his heir, much as Vaelus was sure he would have liked to. For all his favouritism, he was not so short-sighted as to think his eldest legitimate child was the best choice. Sadly, too many did not have such vision, Vaelus knew that his eldest brother had a lot of support here in Amber. Mother, of course, also knew that her eldest was not suitable to rule. If only more people listened to Mother... but it was hard for people to respect a queen who's royal husband lavished more attention on the palace whore than her.

He cleared his throat. "So... it is done..." he said softly, ominous words for the time to come. "I will inform mother." And like that he was gone again, turning from the room and making his way towards the Queen's quarters.
 

GargantuaBlarg

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#3
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

"Trust in me,
I promise I'll be true,
And I'll a-always stay
b-bes... beside... you..."


She'd managed to keep her voice and her words from wavering... right up until the last two lines. Her decades spent honing her voice, practicing her song, performing shows despite inevitable creative funks and periods of an artist's uncertainty - all of it failed her. Was she really going to lose her daddy? Her fists balled up, clenching the sheets, and the wetness that had been threatening to spill from her eyes ever since she'd gotten up to the castle, finally did.

Olin's breathing was becoming shallower and shallower... Her last chance to sing for her father, and she'd messed up...

Suddenly, he flashed gold - and outside, she saw an image of the Unicorn, just outside the window - many stories off the ground. Before she could think to do anything, it turned and dissolved into the wind... and apparently, so had her father.

Dubiel wept openly, already missing him - but her half-brother, Vaelus, seemed altogether less affected by their father's passing, and had already left to tell the Queen. It was an awkward feeling... she knew the issue of the king's infidelity ate at her, and of the quartet present for Olin's passing, she was the only one not borne by Lady Eileen.

As a 'bastard child', she was far, far from inheriting the kingdom... and really, that suited her just fine. She hadn't been groomed for the position, nor had she studied in the arts of leading, ruling, or any of those things. Though she was a princess, really, she was just a humble bard - singer, story keeper, actor.

With father gone, and his inheritor unnamed, though... she had a claim, but, at least for the moment, she could hardly imagine exercising it. She didn't know about her 'siblings', though... how were they to decide?

Sniffling, the white- and unruly-haired princess looked at the pair still left in the room. "...What happens now?"

 
Nov 11, 2008
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#4
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Bator had always known this day would come; he just never expected it would be so soon, or arrive in such a manner. Father hadn't been well for weeks now, and nothing anyone had done had much effect. There shouldn't have been anything capable of doing this sort of harm to him, yet King Olin was on his deathbed. His father couldn't die, not yet, not without at least naming an heir...could he? Bator hoped fervently that the king would say a name, any name; if he died without a clear successor...what would happen to Amber?

He knew his father had sired many children, not all of them by the queen, and, while he certainly didn't expect them all to show up, surely the king deserved to be attended by more than the two of them? Surely Vivianna of all people should have been here? She was the king's only "legitimate" daughter, after all. Bator sympathized with Svaltus' reluctance to remain in the chambers, but couldn't help feeling resentful at the twin's weak constitution. And where was the other one, Vaelus? What could possibly be more important than their father at death's door? At least Dubiel had managed to be here; her presence seemed a welcome sight for the old king, and her song - beautiful, as befit a bard of her stature - allowed Olin to die with a smile on his face.

Bator cried softly into his sleeve as his father breathed his last, not noticing at first the golden glow that had enveloped the bed. Even through tear-drenched eyes, the Unicorn was unmistakeable. Was the Pattern reclaiming him? Even before the thought could be finished, the Unicorn and his father were gone.

At the younger (older? It was hard to tell) twin's words, Bator started and turned. When had he come in? As he was about to ask what was meant by "It is done," Vaelus (definitely Vaelus; he could tell by the hair and the animosity) was already leaving to inform their mother. She needed and deserved to know, though why she wasn't here as well, Bator wasn't certain.

Dubiel's question returned the eldest son's attention back to the room, and the matter at hand. "Now," he began, voice cracking. He paused to clear his throat and compose himself, then continued. "Now, we need to decide on a new king. I have been training for this day for most of my life, so it seems that particular burden belongs to me. I trust I have your support in this?" His tone is somber as he addresses first one sibling, then the other.
 

GargantuaBlarg

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Sep 23, 2009
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#5
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

Dubiel wiped her eyes on her sleeve, sniffling. "Ohhh... you know I prefer to keep my nose out of these political sorts of things, Batty... and I especially don't want to spend the rest of my days stuck in here, ordering people around. I'd rather just go back to the theatre..."

Her face had been hidden by her sleeve while she spoke, busy rubbing her eyes dry with it. As she spoke next, however, she put her arm down, looking up at the eldest of the "Isn't it a little callous, to be thinking of that already? I know it's important, but he's not even been..." she paused, her voice caught in her throat. "Dad's not even been gone a minute, yet..."

"And what about Evan and Vivi? They don't know, yet... and we should probably tell one of the lords here in the castle, shouldn't we...? I don't know who to talk to about it in the castle, either... wh-who should we tell, that dad is gone?"
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#6
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

Svaltus remains quiet in his own, looming manner, not saying anything by the time that there comes a small rapping at the door, and it is opened to reveal a tall, willowy man that they would all recognize as Cameron - an Amberite of no royal blood or remarkable quality other than the fact that Olin had very much liked him as a friend. He had always been the sort to keep even the king of Amber grounded and in touch with the needs of the common man.

"From the way Vaelus had looked, I had thought the king dead and gone," Cameron said, looking at the empty bed with a raised brow. "It seems Olin is more gone then than even I had expected, though I've a feeling it's all one and the same. I will make the necessary proclamations to the lords and people. This shall be a day of mourning and remembrance, in honor of your father's memory."

Cameron looked visibly aged and downtrodden. His old joviality had dissipated at the same rate as his good friend and liege's health. His jaw was tight. "I am glad that you were here for him at the end. I'm sure it meant a lot to him. It means a lot to me as well. If there is anything I can do for you before I attend to my duties... let me know."
 

Master_Bei_Shun

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Nov 14, 2008
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#7
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

Svaltus held his grief in like a cherry hot dagger to the stomach...

Teeth grinding as face grim and taut, Did he miss something? Was there anything more that could have been done? How could things get to this... These events...

I mean... This was Olin!

Our father wasn't known for his nonsensical attitde, He was even able to predict an invasion of Chaos' forces ten years prior due to it's happening! It's completely unbelievable that he couldn't forsee this beforehand...

The same line of reasoning run rampant through his head that has been plauging Svaltus for months, from other pattern users manipulating his very existence and time... To a especially potent blood curse... To missing something and starting over once more leading this time to the realisation that... He's gone... Father... King Olin has died...

Svaltus wanted to go pace around the hall again, keep himself moving in order to fight off this overbearing stress...

This stress turned to outrage once an immediate topic of Succession broke out...

(I didn't hear him say mane you king you arrogant son of a logrus!)


Svaltus pushed such colorful terms aside and went with:

"Fathers deathbed's still warm and you want to sit your haunches upon his throne? In this I agree with Dubiel, Elder brother... It's too soon for a successor... Wounds too tender, and still yet more to be created..."

Svaltus sighs and continues

"It... This this a time of great loss, and deserves a period of greiving... And in this I wouldn't blame you Dubiel, for losing yourself in the Theatre... I know you love it so... But unfortunatly... This is also a time filled with dangers... It would be best for the state of Amber if we kept the people from knowing... At least untill one of us is actually ready to take over..."

Also... Maybe give me enough time to find out who did this... Svaltus thought bitterly...
 
Nov 11, 2008
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#8
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

At first, the eldest son looked as though he might explode at Dubiel's accusation of callousness, jaw tightening further at Svaltus's concurrence; it was the closest he had ever come to erupting at someone in anger. That was before Svaltus suggested that someone else might actually be prepared for the trials of kingship; it took him a moment to cool off before speaking. "Amber needs a king, now more than ever," Bator stated, voice only slightly wavering, though from barely suppressed rage or grief it was hard to tell. "Father is the strongest man I know, that any of us know, I'd wager. Can either of you think of something natural that could kill him? Because I can't," he continued, not waiting for a reply. He began pacing a little as he spoke; step, step, turn, step, step, turn.

"Whatever took father from us, it was likely some sort of attack, and whatever did it is likely waiting for confirmation that he is gone so it can attack us while we have no ruler. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that whatever this...assassin used altered his mind and prevented him from naming an heir." Bator stopped his pacing and faced his younger brother. "While I agree that keeping father's passing to ourselves would be preferable, it is likely that determining the next king will take longer than we can keep the vacated throne a secret, and we won't be able to predict when that information will get out. Not following the correct procedure will also probably reflect poorly on the next king. As for Vivianna, and the rest of our half-siblings, if they don't know yet, they'll find out soon enough."

A soft rapping on the door interrupted Bator's rumination; the heir-apparent smiled wanly at the figure the open portal revealed. "Cameron," Bator nodded to him in greeting. "It is always good to see you, especially in such trying times."

"No, Cameron, I do not believe I shall require anything of you at present," Bator replied to his father's oldest friend. "I am certain that father's death weighs as heavily upon you as it does upon us. If there is anything we can do for you, please, you have only to ask," he implored, mirroring Cameron's words as he drew the gaunt figure into a quick embrace. Bator would wait for a bit to see if either Cameron or either of his siblings needed anything, before announcing his intention to retire to his chambers and exiting the room.

There was much to be done, and not enough time to do it, the eldest son thought grimly. Hopefully, they would agree on a new king before any blood was shed; hopeful was not Bator's mood as he stalked the halls towards his bedroom.
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#9
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

Cameron waved away Bator's reciprocal offer of support and excused himself along with Bator, leaving only Svaltus and Dubiel left to stare at one another across the otherwise empty bed chamber.
 

GargantuaBlarg

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Sep 23, 2009
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#10
Re: Castle Amber (Bator, Vaelus, Svaltus, and Dubiel)

Dubiel just shook her head at Cameron's offer, and remained at the empty bed's side, still clutching the bedsheets in grief, twisting them, as if it would assuage her sorrow with her father's passing.

"I... I have to go. I'm sorry, brother," She said at last, wiping her eyes dry and walking around the bed to give Svaltus a sisterly hug, still sniffling. "I just... I think I need to get out of the castle for now. For a while."

Walking over to a screen set up in the corner of the room for her to shift in privacy, set up by request when he had started to worsen, that he could see his daughter's real face. She started to change - from her native form - a tall and quite sturdily-built woman - her already light skin grew even paler, like alabaster. Her frame shrunk a little, eventually stopping in the form of a svelte, slim woman. Her hue of her eyes from piercing blue to a deep red, and her unruly white hair relaxed and lengthened, turning straight, silky and black.

Her dress was a little ill-fit on her, now that she'd shrunk some, and had not she been doing this for so long, Svaltus might never be able to tell it was her.

Her mannerisms were still the same, though, and she was wiping her eyes much the same way she had been before she changed.

Another hug, and she was picking up the strange mask she'd taken to wearing - a black hood, with long, trailing black strips of cloth behind it, and a hollow, empty skull for a face. "I'll... I'll see you again, brother. Take care," she said in parting, and left, heading out from the castle, back to town.