The Intricacies of Dragonheart's Keep

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Ace of Angels, Sep 7, 2016.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Lyanna hated him.

    She hated Vikiel's dashing smile, the way the tall man carried himself and the way they seemed to bounce back and forth from calculated interaction to another. As soon as the blonde laid eyes on him, Lyanna teased and complimented the man as if she was appeasing to the Goddess. With each accidental brush by, nothing had made him stutter. That was to be expected. The Dragonheart's Keep was a dangerous place. Lyanna had caught herself several times getting startled from a gentle breeze and closing the large window of her chambers. That was shortly before the King of House Astor had died, leaving the center of the realm vulnerable to attack or exploitation.

    Peasants and nobles insulted the House Astor, calling them the House of Asses behind closed doors and whispered lips. The King belonged to the arrogant family, whom had usurped the throne after another assassination of the late King before him. House Astor had been close to the Dragonheart's Keep for years as the Hand of the King, an entrusted advisor. Amassing large amounts of wealth and military support, they were a force to be reckoned with. Nonetheless, every noble realized the one on the throne was never the true ruler of the realm. To rule the realm, there was an element of subtlety involved. Subtlety, timing and the exact amount of luck.

    Shortly after the King Astor met his demise, children and their incompetent families had taken prime positions to the throne. One boy, by the name of Zachary Astor, was only 15 when he came to power. Selfish aunts swayed his 'decisions' while Zachary remained timid and soft. Privately, she thought that the only day he was able to properly rule would be the same day an assassin held a knife to his neck. There was one thing she was willing to admit about the poor boy. Unlike the others, he was intelligent in addition to being perceptive.

    On the other hand, Lyanna couldn't stand the others. The Astor siblings grew spoiled with the security of power and riches. Meanwhile the woman of House Gildenmere had remained unapproachable most of her childhood for her own safety. Every bite of dinner and boasting with their forced acquaintances made Lyanna's blood boil. However, there was one deadly positive and a negative to his death. Royal connections were one thing, but House Mallodar was another. Through what seemed like an endless amount of charm and empty promises on both the Mallodar's and Gildenmere's sides, they had earned their position as the closest thing to being on a royal court.

    Being in the court, as they called it, was a frightening experience. She was given her own chambers, her own handmaidens and was free to roam the Keep as much as she could. By the Gods, the woman even enjoyed her own bath and vanity. Despite the exceptional treatment, due to her own paranoia, Lyanna made sure that every letter she had written to her family was coded and delivered in the night in her own room. Vikiel's chambers were only five doors down and across. He was close enough that she swore she was able hear his breathing as he slept. While untrue, Vikiel sent tingles down her spine, both in intrigue and fear. The man's confidence drew her to him, yet incite feelings of fear every instance they locked eyes.

    His deep-set hazel to her own icy violet. Soon, another instance of this connection would occur again in an awe-inducing turn of events. Many years of plotting had come to this. Henry had been the most spoiled of the young children. Many evenings ago, the House Gildenmere had ordered an assassination on the young boy. To that, she responded with, "Gladly." Good riddance, the young woman had thought to himself. That was one less Ass with any guarantee for the throne. If Lyanna played her cards right, the chance of prosperity would soon increase.

    That midnight, there she was. The Dragonheart's Keep possessed a strange shortcut that led to the young boy's chambers. Through the overgrown garden and into another stairway, his room was in a tower. Secluded, it meant with high risk meant high rewards. The guards had did not guard the gardens at night for obvious reasons. On top of that, no one would think to check the gardens for enemies, nor would any enemies desire entering the gardens. The Astors never bothered to tend to the flora, leaving many large rose bushes and trees to conceal any shadows. It resembled a forest in its own right, even more so as Lyanna made her way deep through the trees.

    Her heart raced as she concealed her graceful form within the beautiful flowers, her senses sensitive to the slightest of disturbances. Suddenly, Lyanna heard a rustle through the leaves. Her hand reached for the dagger as she stepped forward. It was foolish to dress in her usual getup of gold and silk. The woman opted for a dark, hooded robe, a masquerade mask to cover her sharp features and a flowing white linen dress for movement. On her waist tied a burlap sack with various weapons and poison. Without any fear present, she walked in the direction of the noise.
  2. "You are certain about this?"

    Vikiel stood before his father in a room hidden deep within Mallodar Manor just a short ride from Dragonheart Keep. His mother's illness had provided a convenient cover for his many visits over the past couple nights, allowing him and his father to discuss the fate of one Henry Astor.

    "Yes." The look his father gave him was final. There was no more room for quibbling. Vikiel sighed.

    Assassinations were hardly his favorite thing. Henry wasn't even on the throne yet, but perhaps that was part of the problem. There was part of Vikiel, the guts and human part of him that only ever seemed to come out at night, that wanted to argue the boy could yet be molded to their tastes. But if he were being honest with himself, Vikiel knew the Henrey situation had stagnated and had been for a while. There were bigger plays to be had, but not while he was preoccupied babysitting -- er, supervising -- the boy.

    When he looked up, the hesitation he had displayed earlier was gone. His eyes had gone hard, determined, and he could see the corner of his father's lip twitch, understanding the switch that Vikiel had flipped. "I'll see it done."

    Long ago, his lord father had promised him he'd become capable of just accepting these sorts of tasks. And to some degree, he did. He could rationalize the choice, see how it wasn't just the pieces and moves that were important, but also the timing. And once he could see that, it wasn't terribly hard to push away the part of him that objected on principles in favor of bringing forth that other part of him that lived to win. It wasn't hard to become truly cold anymore, but it still wasn't nearly as easy as breathing.


    As he left, Vikiel eased the door shut behind him. Its well-oiled hinges were enough to avoid attracting attention through creaking, but that wouldn't stop the door from slamming shut. His father still had some business to take care of, but it was time for him to leave. His trips to the Manor were never long, though usually he stayed till midnight, practicing his powers in the secret chambers even below his father's hidden study. But even then, he always made sure to return to the Keep in time for the next day.

    Of course, with his mother's illness, there had been the courteous pressure telling him to stay a couple days by his mother's side, but he knew better than to believe Dragonheart Keep would wait for him to get back. He would be of hardly any help compared to the Mallodar healers, and he wasn't about to let a day slip by him. That could be all that was necessary to give his opponents -- especially one Lyanna Gildenmere -- the advantage, something he refused to do.

    Tonight, though, instead of just keeping his powers sharp, he would have to rely on them. And it had to be tonight. His mother was recovering quickly, but her illness provided a slight advantage. His frequent visits home would draw attention to the fact his focus was elsewhere, which would, in turn, draw suspicion away from him.

    Plus, he had already planned each step.

    First, changing his clothes and gathering his tools. Vikiel returned to his rooms in the Dragonheart Keep and pulled out a set of stone brown-grey clothing from the floorboards in his closet. The cut and shape were that of the servants the Baltures kept save for a couple modifications that would allow him to easily access the daggers, knives, poison, and darts strapped to his wrists and shins. This he hid beneath his usual floor length cloak, a luxurious burgundy with the Mallodar crest, which would allow him movement in the Keep unhindered and keep his outfit hidden.

    Second, a visit to the Keep library. There he gathered a pile of medical books possibly pertaining to his mother's illness. The speed of her recovery was not yet known, largely in part because he would be the one to bring news of it to the Keep unless someone else bothered to call upon her at the Manor. But it wasn't reading material for tonight. Not really. This he left at a table, leaving the books stacked neatly except one, for which he carefully chose a page and left lying open. Here, he left his cloak as well, a well-calculated toss as if he had become frustrated with it while studying. He had become rather well known at the Keep for leaving his cloak around. It was the one thing Vikiel seemed to be forgetful about.

    Third, leaving the library unseen. Vikiel wrapped his face with the scarf save for his eyes, and let himself out onto the balcony courtyard, a fantastic place to read a book. The escape itself was over the ledge and down the wall. Mostly, he relied on his own athletic ability to scale down, but he didn't skimp on shifting stones, providing proper hand and footholds as needed. Of course, he smoothed them over as he passed. It wouldn't be good to let people suspect someone had come this way, and it would be terrible to allow someone else to follow in his footholds.

    Fourth, spend a while in the garden. If anyone had seen him scale, it would be easy to lose track of him in the bushes and trees. Overhead loomed the tower that housed the room of his target. It wouldn't be altogether different, scaling the tower compared to escaping out the library, except that the length of exposure was much longer. But he had spent some time mapping out the route of the guards that could turn their eyes to the tower -- not that anyone ever looked up -- but it paid to have a path. Dealing with arrows while hanging from a tower was entirely possible, it just wasn't one of his favorite places to get caught out.

    Fifth ... jump in a tree and ready a sleeping dart. Step five was supposed to be climb the tower, but Vikiel's gut told him otherwise. Day to day, he wasn't much for following instinct, preferring analytical methods, but night was different. More than once, an impulsive decision had saved him. He waited a beat, hoping he had just been twitchy. An extra jump was not much of a hassle compared to the complication of dealing with an extra witness, but it seemed tonight he was none so lucky. He loosed the dart as soon as he saw movement, and climbed into the next tree, readying a couple of throwing knives as well.

    Who else would be out this late? And here? Vikiel hated the idea of having to delay plans, and if something did happen (or appear to happen), the guards might actually start patrolling the gardens. And that would just be troublesome.

    On the other hand, if a distraction here drew the focus of the guards here, perhaps it would be easier to accomplish his mission. He just had to be ready for the opportunity.
    • Love Love x 1
  3. Lyanna heard that noise again. So she had not been seeing things. Biting her lip, there was no reason to be afraid. Chances were, she was able to see them, not the other way around. However, her inquisitive ears had followed the noise of a tree as she hid behind an overgrown Camellia bush. With the quiet of night, the blonde was becoming increasingly aware with each breath she took. Quietly stepping into a neighbouring tree, she silently kept a lookout.

    Making a noise and better yet, letting whoever it was out there know she was out there was risky. The risk would not be worth the reward at all. Lyanna looked to the moonlight and the reflecting bright colours of the flowers drowned out by the darkness. Whoever was there had a possibility of simply killing her on sight, though, it was difficult to target something you could not see. Tucking in the covers of her cloak, she sped through the rest of the garden.

    There had to be someone here.

    Similar to Vikiel, the woman was only acting upon her instincts. However, her instincts did not always bring prosperity. Small knives dipped in poison were in a sheath with their sharp brothers in a leather belt. Biting her lip, her foot had stepped into a twig. The goal of the mission was to avoid using as much elemental magic as she could. If anything, Lyanna only planned to use water or air sparingly. The ice would soon melt while the winds would also be able to calm.

    Immediately, regretting her mistake, Lyanna spun into the tree Vikiel had been climbing, unknowingly less than a meter below him. During this entire ordeal, Lyanna stopped herself from crying out or letting the slightest bit of noise slip from her lips.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.