ch2-7a

THE VALERRAN, AT ECAFA
Gently drifting incense and tea or wine poured by the white-veiled white tailed server. Low pillows, low table.
A secluded corner, for secluded conversation.
Hayreddin: "Sir Mask, thank you for heeding my call," he says, pouring the man a drink from a purchased bottle of wine.
Le Buccaneer is wearing a comfortable looking silks, light and breathing and airy…and his mask. He takes the drink, raises it in salute, and then somehow downs half of it without making a mess of his mask. "More than happy to! It is a fine establishment."
Hayreddin: "Ignoring the last time I was briefly here- our visitor from the stars being the true 'star' of that moment-"
Hayreddin: "-I sense a malaise about the city. Hence why I returned to this public house, yes. For its fine drink and finer decor."
Hayreddin: "The arcolith itself sinks into the sea. Such is the reason for my late arrival and landing."
Hayreddin: "Yet a number of contractees once tasked with the exploration of the arcolith continue to band together."
Le Buccaneer: "Finally the mortal wound did its work, I see. And indeed; perhaps needfully, given the…circumstances as of late."
Hayreddin: "I am curious," he pauses, with a smile that says that he already believes he knows the answer, "as to why that is. Both of the personal, but also of the circumstances."
Le Buccaneer: "Ah! Well, there is the matter of the Imperial occupation, the matter of the murderous heiress, the matter of the expedition's ship-and-captain abandoning it for said Imperials…"
Hayreddin nods. "The last was interesting, though perhaps not surprising. The first, never a moment unblighted."
Hayreddin: "But the middle, I've only just learned. Please, I ask for more detail."
Le Buccaneer: "Ah! Well, the Imperials have found the sole surviving heiress of a hithertothought purged noble family, which itself had been trying to take over the place, raised her up, and from that position she has proceeded to purge one of the other families, holding another in check, while the last sits to the side and lets it happen for reasons I can only speculated are basely political."
Le Buccaneer: "Awful death and destruction in her wake, of course."
Hayreddin: "Hmm," he deeply intones, before taking a drink from his own wineglass.
Hayreddin: "Do they believe they'll continue to be in power, given time…?"
Le Buccaneer: "I suspect they wish to simply assume the station of Imperial lapdogs after the murderous heiress meets the fate of all mad dogs."
Le Buccaneer: "Which I think is shortsighted, even for craven power hungry fools, but! In any event, we intend to short circuit their plans, her plans, and the Imperial plans by…removing her from her current address, and relocating her to, eerrr, a courtroom."
Hayreddin: "A courtroom?" he asks, glass paused halfway between mouth and table.
Le Buccaneer: "Yes. Her absence and ensuing legal removal will allow the elevation of certain worthies, the return to rule of the other houses, etc etc."
Hayreddin: "Intersting."
Le Buccaneer: "So!"
Hayreddin: "The situation, prime to boil over, and it would need that final push, it sounds like."
Le Buccaneer: "And to get her out of the way before the whole country is awash in fire and blood, and the Imperials justify more direct control."
Hayreddin: "The city plans to fight, then."
Le Buccaneer sighs. "It's more complicated than that."
Hayreddin tilts his head slightly forward, shadowing his eyes with his brow.
Hayreddin: "The city plans to survive?"
Le Buccaneer: "Yes. And make sure its systems of governance remain intact."
Hayreddin leans back, idly tapping a finger on one of his knees.
Le Buccaneer: "If fighting the Empire directly had been a viable option…" He sighs. "Ecafa would not be where it is, at the moment."
Hayreddin: "You do not believe it can be done in a meaningful way."
Le Buccaneer: "I do not believe it could have been done without destroying the country, and perhaps not even then. Now…I believe that Imperial ambitions will move their focus elsewhere, and I wish the country to be intact and well guided for when that happens."
Hayreddin: "You speak of Ecafa as it were a warm hearth. Is the man behind the mask not a pirate?"
Le Buccaneer: "Ah! A scourge of black sails and blood upon the ocean!"
Le Buccaneer: "Such a man preys on Imperial ships, and what do they do? Chase him! They fail, of course, but that's all they can try. He has no national flag, no lands to seige."
Le Buccaneer: "Now, if a noble son of Ecafa did the same…"
Hayreddin chuckles. "A ship tied to a dock finds no treasure, or so I have once heard."
Hayreddin: "I understand your reason."
Hayreddin: "What do you plan to do after our Heiress of Blood is imprisoned? Will you seek another arcolith?"
Le Buccaneer: "Yes, I think so. Especially if my erstwhile companions do. I have a ship to refit, after all…and that is by no means cheap."
Le Buccaneer: (My apologies!)
Hayreddin nods along.
Hayreddin then downs the rest of his wine, and clears his throat with a mighty cough.
Hayreddin: "I think, Sir Mask…"
Hayreddin: "You should believe more in the will of the Ecafans."
Le Buccaneer finishes his in turn, though there's barely more than a sip left. "Oh, my dear Hayreddin? Have you seen something to fire the soul?"
Hayreddin nods.
Hayreddin: "It is the same spark that would lead a noble's son to trade the spoon for a sail."
Le Buccaneer: "Sixth son. Without wife or lover or child who might be endangered. I do not think my countrymen are cowards; I do think they are acutely aware of the stakes."
Hayreddin: "But with family who might be endangered- hence the mask."
Hayreddin: "And the Ecafans- none would ever call them coward. From occupation to occupation, the red-and-black blasted-steel boot is the reason for suffering, never fear or mortality."
Le Buccaneer: "Well. What do you propose?"
Hayreddin: "I believe that your plan to depose the blood heiress to be noble and just- but I do not believe it will go unnoticed."
Hayreddin: "I mean that on both sides of the sea- from the Empire, but also from within."
Hayreddin: "It will be the time to rally all noble houses to action, unlike as they are in the stalemate they are now."
Hayreddin: "It will be when every mother and husband and child understand the mask's significance, and raise spirit to the city themselves."
Hayreddin: "Do work to stoke the fire before you leave, and Ecafa will do wonders that only thousand-heart strong can do."
Hayreddin: "I believe you can do this."
Le Buccaneer: "Well. I would be a cad to disappoint."
Hayreddin laughs a bassy, booming laugh. It echoes ever so slightly after he stops.
Hayreddin: "Welcome all who come."
Hayreddin: "Chase none who flee."
Hayreddin: "Destroy those who would stop you."
Hayreddin: "I must rest for a bite, as it has been a long journey. Mayhap I will accompany you, or Madam Elbereth on a similar venture…" He looks up and to the side, as though gauging something.
Le Buccaneer: "Ah! I shall look forward to your company!"
Hayreddin: "We will see. Take care, Sir Mask." He stands up from the low table, bows slightly to the man, and walks back into the hustling street, arms folded within sleeves.
Le Buccaneer orders a second bottle as Hayreddin goes. It's that sort of night.

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