Lord Vrai Ascarth wasn’t the sort of person who anyone desired involvement with. Most had succeeded in this but some had fallen into the cold distrusting gaze she held. She was ruthless, more ruthless than any ruler had to be and the success of her reign was dependent on her willingness to rise above the people and to control the masses. Of course, this was something that she didn’t succeed in and rather her reign was unsuccessful but stood rigidly due to the terror she imposed. Vrai wasn’t always this way but for those who had only come to know her in the past one hundred years she was the embodiment of rage.
Her advisors attempted to persuade her to address her people. She disagreed and said, “it is for the better they don’t know who I am.” Her pitch black eyes gave no room for discussion on the topic of the Lord revealing her face to the people, she would rather be the masked vigilante she chose to be.
Living lavishly was the least of Vrai’s concerns, and was easily seen by her appearance to the balls often held by her advisors in an attempt to make the palace look more festive and involved then it was. The Lord wore clothing which was as dark and uninviting as the tone she used. Cloaks made of fur in order to fight the chill outside, they were stained with blood. It was for the better, her advisors thought, she dressed in dark clothing it kept blood stains at bay.
Black was the color of her Kingdom, anyways, the Kingdom of Death. She was it’s ruler and had been for as long as anyone could remember, if there had been a ruler before the Lord then no one except herself would ever be able to remember.
Vrai had two sons, Nazaire was the eldest by a couple years and Vesryn was the younger. They were close, surprisingly despite Vesryn’s right to Vrai’s throne over his older brother. Vesryn’s right to the throne were for reasons disclosed to everyone except for a select few and the majority of that select few had perished years ago. Her two sons spent the majority of their time together if they were not attending to their duties in the palace. As descendants of the Viacean Empire they continued with a similar tradition as the two factions, however, they had the assassins and the sorcerers instead of the maskless but the assassins easily had the upper hand as the morals the created were far less restrictive than those of the sorcerers. While Vesryn ran the palace Naizaire spent his time watching over the training of the assassins. There was only one real truth, they had experienced a glimmer of light in the storm but it was growing darker by the minute.
There were many houses outside of the palace, ones that had belonged to old families of the Viacean. Achridilis Turin was the most used, mainly by the older assassins. The Vael House had been like that years ago, Vrai spent most time there, but times change for everyone and she had resorted to running.
Lord Vrai Ascarth spent little time keeping her Kingdom together and, instead, walked through the winding halls of her past. The stones near her chambers were crudely shaped and dirt had found its way into their cracks. The place was too cold and too dark for anything to grow or live except for the Lord, Vrai was grateful for the lack of living things in this area of the palace the quiet was necessary for her to keep a level mind. Quite unlike her title, Vrai did not dislike the living in many cases she was actually fascinated by it. She found the majority of her time was spent in costume as she made her way through her land, watching the people go about their days. The Palace had never been her home, at least it had never felt like it and she was more content with the struggles of the people she once ruled over.
At this point in her life there were few she confided in. Adrih was one of the old dragons, the eldest of all his brethren. He was from the warring ranks of the Viacean Empire and had watched entire cities burn. Despite all that Adrih was smaller than most but he was certainly one of the strongest dragons.
There were three dragons of his age, the other two were kin to Adrih. All of them were clad in magnificent black and silver scales, their horns graying with age but at one time the beasts were entirely clad in black except for the white teeth now stained with blood.
Adrih spent his time uncontrolled by anyone, he was too old and too wise to be ordered by the two who actually ran the kingdom, Nazaire and Vesryn Ascarth. He obeyed his Lord’s orders yet there was an understanding between the two that he was capable of doing what he wanted.
Adrih is perched on the highest watchtower, his black eyes scouring the land beneath them. I swear by Our Fallen King winter has never been this cold. Adrih’s stone voice echoed her own thoughts as the wind whips across the barren ground, whistling as it slips between the trees of the dark forest. It wasn’t even winter yet, it was approaching and would be upon them soon. They had seen enough winters to know that their Kingdoms would stand through the cold. The cities would suffer, people would die of sickness but that was how life went. It died.
“It would be for the better, wouldn’t it?” She asks the creature lacking fur or at least clothing to keep him warm. Although Vrai knew the fire within him kept him warm enough, if needed many of the beasts would light fires in the dead of the coldest nights.
It may be for the better. Adrih agrees but his phrasing leaves room for an argument he didn’t want to ignite, instead, he continues with talk of the current war, or the one bound to begin. The cold doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Lord Isreth, he isn’t the one leading the war. Nor is he even close to the strongest anymore. His reign of terror was put to an end three hundred years ago.
“It is too late to avoid it.” She says to the dragon and Adrih gives her a sympathetic look, the most a creature of his stature and with the terror he bears could muster.
Lord Halis Jaerek was the one who had pushed the Kingdoms to the brink of war, still, they lie dormant and she would prefer it to be that way. Ever since the last war, fought between Lords with only a few years on the throne, she had disliked the very idea of another war starting. Vrai had avoided the conflict swiftly, none of the young Lords wanted the ancients to take up sides in this fight. It would have turned into a bloodbath.
As the years of war steadily ached on the Keeper, Setir Vael stepped in, she was in a weak state of mind. Setir’s sister was in her teens had been killed by someone Vrai couldn’t remember nor name. Setir was slaughtered by a Lord Vrai never bothered to learn the Lord’s name she didn’t believe the Lord deserved any recognition from her. Vrai had trained Setir, the girl was the daughter of one of the old families of Viacean nobility, Sarik Vael was her father. He was soft spoken and he was the head of Sekliv within the faction of Assassins when the Ascarths had ruled.
Adrih lifts off into the air after bidding her goodbye. The last sun had set and the sky had become an explosion of color, it was one of the few times the Kingdom ever say color. The Palace had become a gloomy place ever since the Keeper passed, she was the last one to hold any peace with the Lord of Death.
The position of the Keeper itself had no land right, the birthright didn’t exist as they were born bearing the mark of the Keeper when the last one passed. Setir was the first Keeper and the only one who never spoke of peace between species. She was also the only one who was daring enough to yell at Vrai and older Lords before she wore the crown of the Keeper.
Vrai made her way down the crooked steps of the tower, towards the emptying dining hall. They were underpaid servants, Vrai had argued with her advisors about the matter but eventually she forfeited her opinion on the matter, knowing that nothing would come of it.
Setir Vael had chosen seven assassins and four of them stand in attention to The Lord of Death. Vrai’s deepest secret was the man clad in black was beside her, his name hidden in the depths of her mind and his chosen name was Etiene yet few knew even that name. The rest of the people who knew of him referred to the man as Darkness. He rarely removed his mask and when he did he was in her company, the company of the other elder Lords or the company of no one at all.
“My Lord,” the fifth assassin says as he enters the room, “I apologize for my absence.” He bows to her as he moves to join the other four. The assassin doesn’t offer an excuse and she doesn’t ask for one. Vrai knew them well enough that she didn’t see the need to ask why they were late. She had asked for them to arrive by the time the second moon rose which generally meant the 37th hour and she knew some of the clocks were off within the palace, it wasn’t the fault of the assassins they hadn’t been tended to.
“With the lack of a Keeper,” Vrai begins but pauses shortly after and she looks to Etiene for reassurance, afraid she had been forcing him into a position while he would rather spend his time listening to whispers in the halls and on the streets as Vrai did.
Etiene had his knights who guarded his palace. A small human kingdom which he took control of. It was buried in the mountains of Vrai’s Kingdom and stood along the major mountain passages.. “I have chosen to place Etiene in the place of your commander. He will be relieved of all duties when the Keeper is fully trained.”
It was partially a lie, there was no Keeper in training, they died too quickly, often before their training was complete. The gap between keepers was too long and it left a gaping hold for Lords to gain power. Although, this wasn’t the reason Vrai chose to leave the position vacant.
The assassins wouldn’t argue, she had already spoken with the first, Hira Eldengorr. She had been trained with Setir and was the Keepers first and the only choice for her original assassin. The rest were chosen by the Lords. Each one had their pick. Two of the original seven assassins had been killed, leaving the still loyal five who Vrai trusted only because Setir had.
When the assassins were brought in front of Setir and she chose whether the assassin would be accepted into her hold or slaughtered. Those seven were chosen by Setir Vael out of the many who came to her, none of the Lords expected the girl to kill so many, that is other than Vrai and Seiyzel, the Ice Queen. She was the Lord of Storms and Seiyzel spent her time far up north in the white marble palace high up in the mountains. A dessert, The Arctic Wasteland, lay just beyond the mountains bordering Vrai’s kingdom to the north and then the mountains rose again, their icy peaks and desolate appearance kept her untouched.
“As you may have noticed there hasn’t been a Keeper’s Summit in years,” Darkness says, his voice making the room colder with each word he speaks, “there will be one held at the year’s end.”
Four out of the five assassins bow their heads in submission to their orders. The order was unspoken, the Keeper’s Summit would be announced and the assassins were required to bring the news to each of the Kingdoms, from there the news would spread to the Elves who would announce it to the other creatures hidden in the shadows from the Lords. Hira Eldengorr’s eyes are glued to the masked face of Darkness and she doesn’t bow her head. She refused to bow to anyone other than her Lord. Hira had suffered in grief from losing her friend and blamed herself for the Keeper’s death.
“You may be dismissed,” Darkness says, wanting to avoid speaking to the assassins.
They bow and take their leave, the door swinging shut behind them. “How many assassins?” Etiene asks and he removes the ivory colored mask shaped like a skull which covers the top half of his face, leaving the tip of his nose uncovered. The rest of his face was covered by a black cloth tucked into his cloak. Etiene’s face is scarred from his childhood, he was hit by his older brother. After the years the scars were thin cuts of white that scattered his face, most around his eyes and lips. Etiene’s raven colored hair was smooth and silky and his movements were soft and graceful. If he didn’t use the cold tone he so often used among assassins he would have been well-liked among all eternals. His jawline was sharp, his eyes were larger than most but they were almost always covered. Etiene’s nose was narrow and casts a shadow on his face with the light peered through the curtains of the room. His lips were soft despite the scarring and they only moved slightly when he spoke.
“I don’t know,” I answer him, the number of assassins in the Palace had been left uncounted. The ones in training weren’t trained at all, at least that is how she puts it, “the assassins are left to their own accord. I have little business with them anymore.”
His eyes show the slightest smile, “Vrai, what have you become? You ruled over them, they bowed down to you.” He was right, they were but those days had come and they were thrown to the past so suddenly it made her wonder if they had ever existed, to begin with.
“The patience to deal with lowly trained assassins is more than I will ever have,” Vrai responds childishly, she knew she was being irresponsible and naive but the assassins were untrained but mind was far from the gathering storm.
“I doubt they would be untrained if you bothered to watch over their training, or at least spoke with the headmaster.” Etiene says with little conviction as both of them knew it would take a miracle for her to gain the amount of attention to watch over the assassins again.
All Vrai ever wanted was out. Out of the madness that came with her title.
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