... now they must watch their abundance of luxuries fall away, making room for the tools of survival, and witness this time of relative peace wither into the same fears that harper's ballads had warned them about for generations.
 
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 The ashes of memory [DV, Keroon plot update]

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Eloaene

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PostSubject: The ashes of memory [DV, Keroon plot update]   Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:41 pm




After more than a decade of being away from home, Changhui was finally returning. Though he'd seen the shores of Keroon Territory in that time and even once or twice stepped upon its docks, he was not familiar with Keroon in the same intimate ways as perhaps someone who'd spent their life there, but he was completely familiar with its goings on on a different level. For that reason, Changhui did not consider himself at any disadvantage.

The late Keroon Lord Holder's son, the son of Lord Yongmun's second consort, had been living his life as a dead man, his entire existence having gone unknown to either of his brothers over the past several turns. One had lived blind to the truth of his past, while the other, who now served as Keroon's current Lord Holder, believed him dead. And that was the way that he intended to keep things -at least for a while longer. At least until secrecy had served its purpose.

As long as Changhui continued to live as a dead man however, his actions were restricted. He'd sought refuge in other territories under the guise of a Guard in the Dragon's Venture, too afraid to set foot on Keroon soil, but now was the time to face the fear this his elder brother might still be looking for him. If he wanted the chance to reclaim Keroon for his own, taking his father's place as had been intended, then he would have to come out of hiding and make himself known. Thus, Changhui had returned to the territory of his birth, and Lady Sienne made preparations to introduce him to a number of his late father's supporters, as well as other important connections who may one day be the very individuals he relied on to secure his position as Lord Holder.

Even coming this far, it seemed as though the road had been long. But for Changhui and those around him, there was still a long and perhaps even more difficult road ahead of them. They may have returned to Keroon at long last, but the brunt of their work was only just starting.



Though he'd traveled the distance to Keroon by ship several times before, knowing that this time he would stay to further his purpose, made Changhui nervous. He'd wanted to take time to walk the streets of the hold and explore, but that would have to wait until later. Changhui felt as though he needed to better get to know the people within the walls of the Hold in order to make an appropriately supported claim to succeeding his father, and replacing his brother as Keroon's Lord Holder.

There were of course other evidences which his fostering mother, Lady Sienne, had promised him. The engraved sword upon which there had been inscribed his name was the bulk of evidence that they'd staked his right to succession on. They'd yet to succeed in getting their hands on it, but there was still time to do so. Lady Sienne had assured him that she knew of its location, and that soon, it would be in their possession. At such a time then, they would be able to act more boldly to advance their cause.


The Appaloosa Runner that he sat astride shifted its weight where he, Haran, Sienne, and a couple of officers lined themselves up across the ridge of a hillock to look out over a field where men were trained in the ways of the Hold Guard. Some of them had once served his father, and some had no experience at all. But this group of men did all have one thing in common, and that was they had all agreed to play some part in supporting his cause. Each for their own individual reasons of course, but those reasons were not for Changhui to question. All he needed to know was that they has promised their fealty to him.

One of the officers lined up beside him spoke, "Untrained men would be useless to you, but don't worry, when the time comes that you have need for them, they'll be ready."

The officer's eyes turned on Changhui then, still bearing some shadow of doubt that the young man before him had what it took to usurp power from his eldest brother. Changhui was still young, not as experienced as Izayan, and his capability had not yet been proven. It was a chance that he'd been willing to take, and all of his father's former supporters had been willing to take, but as the time grew near that they would take action, there were always questions raised in doubt of just how prepared they truly were. If Changhui -or any of them- did not perform perfectly, their very lives could be forfeit. Still, the Guardsman knew better than to raise that sort of question here, aloud in front of Changhui.

Seeing a measure of doubt  in the man's eyes, Lady Sienne offered her share of reassurance, "Dear Baaron, I know you may not yet possess the same trust in the young master as I do, but as long as I am with him, you will support him. After all, you do want to raise a Lord Holder by your own hands, don't you? I have heard just how discontent and restless your men are becoming under the current Lord."

Sienne leveled an uncompromising stare upon the man, going on to say, "You and your men already vowed to uphold the script on the sword. Continue doing your part, and I will do mine. You will not be disappointed."

At length, the Guardsman nodded, bowing his head in deference to both she and Changhui before excusing himself. "If the men are to be ready, I have need to return to oversee their training. Please excuse me."

In a manner of dismissal, Sienne nodded, watching the man and his two subordinates bring their Runners to a speed that would see them back to the officer's temporary command tent within just a few moments time.


Changhui watched them go also, though soon his eyes fell to the back of his speckled Runner, obviously troubled by his thoughts.

Of course, Lady Sienne only spoke encouragingly to him, "Please forgive them. They are indeed men who will serve you well."

"It's okay." Changhui didn't believe that there was any need to excuse their apparent doubts, "I have been living like a dead man all these turns. Maybe I deserve their distrust. But at least I can see now more clearly where I am going. I won't be a dead man forever because I cannot fight the world like that. We must continue rallying the others together, letting them know that I am alive."

Breathing a quiet sigh, Sienne looked back out over the training grounds, unsure of what else she could say just then. What Changhui had suggested was the exact plan they intended to carry out next, so there was no reason to reiterate what he'd said. They were both well aware of the agenda.

Wondering aloud then, Changhui filled whatever silence would have been between them, "Do you really think that they'll come to accept me though? That is, these men... the people of Keroon? Right now, they only see me as a stranger. How can I get them to look on me with favour?"

Changhui was still worried that now he'd come back to Keroon there might be something -perhaps something unforeseen- to stand in their way. Changhui was a young man who wanted to possess a gentle and gracious heart, though circumstances often brought him to harden himself toward others. Friendship and other close interaction were typically something that he could not afford, given that he was unable to reveal his identity to any outside of the Dragon's Venture. It certainly wasn't for want to do so. In fact, Changhui desperately desired the friendship of others, which was something he could not have; and since he was not able to draw close to others, he valued his relationship with the Guardsman Haran more than perhaps anything else in the world. And much like he cherished Haran's presence in his life, he felt similarly toward the Lady Sienne, who had so loyally served his mother, and who now served him. Likewise, he desired the acceptance of the people of Keroon, feeling as though it were something he should possess before making his move to become Keroon's rightful Lord Holder.

When Sienne began to address his concern, Changhui's attention hung on her words with intent consideration. The woman had been his only guidance through much of the wild course of his life, and thus he was grateful for whatever wisdom she could impart to him.

"Young Master, the more time you spend with them, the easier it will become. But you must keep in mind that the people's favour alone does not make a Lord Holder. If they were to love your elder brother Izayan more, would you give your father's seat of power up to him freely? Could you give up the very purpose for which you have lived your life up until now? I have watched you struggle your entire life to come this far. It would be a waste to let just a few people or even the sliver of a doubt reduce all of your efforts to ruin. There are many more people who await you. Their love for you will come later."

Turning worried eyes upon her foster son, Sienne went on, hoping her words would be enough to remind him that he had a greater purpose yet to fulfill, "As things are now, you can only speak for the people. If you truly want to make them smile on you, then become Keroon's Lord Holder first. That is the only way to fulfill their hopes. Only when you are Keroon's Lord can you truly act on their behalf and do what is right for them."

Though Changhui did not meet her eyes, he felt her eyes on him. Her words would give him enough to think about for a while, so he nodded and then looked back out over the training grounds.

Silent for a long moment, he finally suggested that they should be on their way back to the headquarters. Their purpose here for the day was done, and it had been good to see for himself the condition of some of those who would be fighting for him if need called for it. It was also good for the Guard Commander and his Captains to finally meet him and know what son of Yongmun they were serving. Because now, Changhui could begin building a credible reputation of his own in their eyes -now that they recognized him.


Changhui led his Runner about, heading back toward the main road.

As Sienne and Haran followed suit, the guardsman pulled his runner up beside the young master. Grinning with the start of a chuckle, Haran mentioned to him, "Your grave site is nearby. So is your mothers. Would you like to pay them a visit?"

Considering the entire circumstance strange but equally curiously enticing, especially since he would have the chance to pay respects to his mother's grave, Changhui met him with a slightly dubious expression, but one that was grateful in light of his friend's thoughtfulness, "I have never visited my own grave, nor my mothers."

"Shall we, then?"

"Lead the way."

At his young master's command, Haran brought his Runner to a gallop, taking them in the direction of that place where burial sites had been erected for Changhui, his twin brother and mother; a memorial from that time when memory of them perished in the ashes left behind by the flames of Keroon Hold's past.


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