Alt: Silence.

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Alt: Silence.

Post by Sphinx on Sun May 25, 2008 9:57 am

To a casual observer, the night was quiet. The past weeks had seen the citizens of Mhaura sleep soundly, something the past years had rarely accomplished. Gone were the voices carried by the mercenaries on particularly rowdy tavern nights, no longer would sudden clashes of steel or alarmed cries startle the town from it's slumber. It was almost eerie, and if the people weren't so exhausted after each day's work, they likely would have found the change odd.
The new reign had a hand in this, but not a lone one. In kind the war looming on their doorstep had forced the citizens all to pitch in, and the guard to stay especially sharp on their watch. And for the days to remain busy, the nights had to be quiet.
To a casual observer, the night was quiet. But not so much to those who stopped to listen.

The mithra weighed these thoughts while pressing her hand softly against the wall by her window. She listened to the silence, slowly coming to realize the sound of the waves delivering upon the city shores. Somewhere beneath her window - though on a lower level of the city - she could hear the sound of footsteps. Padded shoes if any, and not the heavy pacing of an armored sentry. From further away still she could hear speech quieted by distance, no doubt coming from one of the many taverns that still found their business plenty - moreso now with he miners from Bastok working on the city's defenses.

The blood rush from closing her eyes made her dizzy, the sound deafened all others for a few moments and even made her unable to think. For a moment she felt about to faint, but insisted her eyelids shut until the sensation passed. She couldn't even remember anymore when last she slept. Possibly it was two days ago, possibly five - all she knew was how tired she was.
Constantly hungry, she was barely able to carry the weight of her armor anymore. She felt cold and feverous, constantly on edge and jumping at the sounds and visions that crept to the periphery of her senses - only to vanish when she paid attention.

With her eyes closed, her hearing came in to compensate, and she could make out the slow clinking of armor outside when the guard lazily shifted in position. Somewhere in the far distance, a seaborne bell tolled the tempers of the ocean for the ships to hear. Her mother had insisted on the guard, though she herself loathed the idea. She never needed a guard before, and in these days it seemed to only emphasize her worsening state. At this hour when she could least afford to show weakness, this was something that didn't sit well with the new regent of Mhaura.

She ran her hand down the wall slowly, trying to feel cracks on it's smooth surface. She was tired, but knew she couldn't sleep. Like so many times since their return from the North, she knew this'd continue until her body couldn't take it anymore and she'd collapse to slumber. And then only for as long as was needed, which is when she'd wake up screaming. On a good night she could only remember the fear that woke her, on worse ones the dreams themselves.

Almost too suddenly she opened her eyes again, to verify that she hadn't fallen asleep. To make certain the only light in her room came from the outside. The line of thought carried her back to the supposed assassin in Windurst. Nothing in it made sense to her. Never in the history of the wars between the federation and the theocracy had the Yagudo used tactics of assassination. Certainly they had the training, but never applied it outside a combat situation.
If their modus operandi had indeed changed, it'd spell news truly bad for Windurst. Who knew, maybe they were getting desperate to finish the war. She had decided to play by this assumption - since outright ignoring the notion would possibly doom Mhaura, but she didn't fully believe in it. Another possibility would be that the Shadowlord could have used his tonberry allies once more to carry an old message, but if so the only reason they'd finger the Yagudo would be to try and kindle the sparks of war in Mindartia to blaze. It would have made much more sense to finger Mhaura, Bastok, or even San d'Oria - cutting away at ties already weakened.
Or it could be someone else entirely, acting on selfish motives but wanting to blame the obvious enemy to Windurst.

She sighed heavily, clearing her head of these thoughts while wiping sweat from her brow. At a lazy pace she moved to sit on her bed. On the small nightstand stood a clay pitcher full of cold water and a single glass, on the floor nearby laid a large book she had tried to read but hadn't the patience or strength of mind to. The tome looked like it had dropped off her bed, resting face down and open so that some pages were bent. She decided to return it to the bookshelf at the earliest opportunity, but also that she was too tired to do it now.

The entire situation felt maddening. She thought, silently blaming her bed as the cause of all this tragedy. She'd become so feeble even pacing the room fast exhausted her. The effort of standing brought up a cold sweat at times, and closing her eyes resulted in a momentary loss of all senses. She felt old beyond her years, and each decision she had to make was laden with paranoia and doubt. She was so tired her eyes burned, yet so reluctant to sleep that she couldn't force herself to try. Slow minutes felt like dozens, where dozens came like thousands as she waited for the sun to rise so she'd have something to keep herself preoccupied.
She was certain her mind couldn't take this for much longer.

But could this really be the doing of the avatar of dreams? Was the answer really as simple as it was obvious?
True enough all the trouble had started since their return from the north where they fought the avatar and the coincidense is too striking to outright ignore, but even so why her? Why hadn't the minister of manustery shown any sign of such troubles. She felt her face flush, suddenly angered by recalling the tarutaru's visit.

The quiet of the night shattered just as easily - and as loud - as the pitcher on her bedstand when she drove the back of her hand into it, breaking the thing into a hundred pieces and splashing cool water everywhere. She hadn't even noticed standing up, nor did she feel the pain from her bleeding hand, but she did come instantly aware of the approaching footsteps of the guard who had sat watch outside. As the door opened, a mere look from her was enough to make the guard shrink back and apologize as she retreated from the regent's chambers.

Maybe the real answer was hiding behind the obvious lie. Maybe Windurst had managed to strike a pact with the avatar, and the animastery minister was behind all that ailed her. It would be just the sort of approach she'd expect from Windurst - and an admittedly genious enough a move to pull. It would also explain the tarutaru's visit, pretending to be warning her of something that was clearly obvious to anyone, as well as his snide comments about her declining health.

The more she thought about it, the more obvious it seemed. She moved around her bed leaving a trickle of blood in her wake, and with renewed vigor picked up the greataxe resting against the wall. With a quick word she commanded the guard over to help her with her armor, already opening the closet to select the one she'd be wearing.
Whatever the answer was the ministers held it, and she was fast running out of strength to beat it out of them.
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Sphinx

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