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The Eagle and the Veil

natashaboorb16_ESO
Published in Tamriel Chronicle Issue 79. Co-written and transcript of our roleplay, by @Faerveren and @Sarinteal, of The Merethic Eye.

I

The thundering hooves of numerous dark Thalmor horses cut a swathe through the evening bustle of Vulkhel Guard. Mer parted before their betters, whose leader swung his ebony-maned draft mare around before the grey stone apothecarium patio, and dismounted. Her hooves, bearing the caked dirt of the road upon the shining black fur - bound like cuffs around her ankles - ground against the dirt in usual restless temperament.

Sarinteal, clad in the telltale black and gold of his station, heaved each breathe with practised effort to retain his calm upon his advance. It did little for him beyond the steadying of his hands as he ascended the stone steps of the building.

In spite of his efforts to maintain face, a sneer still surfaced, boiling over his countenance in response to the near-primal disgust surging from within.

Even these many decades on, he could not account for the fiery temperament from which his reputation first sprung. Erisiel, who continued to maltreat the pathway with the heavy stomp of her hoof, echoed her master’s manner.

It had been some time since he had shared sanguine sentiments with the war hungry mare, and he wondered - with regret - whether tonight would breed the same bloodletting as all the times prior.

The locals, for the most part, made themselves scarce. They were used to officers of the Dominion coming and going, upsetting the peace of the port town with impunity.

Today was just another day among many.

With a skylark’s call, Sarinteal reeled a hand through the air, rolling his wrist and giving the order for his compatriots to split in twain. The majority move to encircle the apothecarium, while but two robed figures - swathed in deep crimson - assume their position at the Lord Archon’s flank. Without a glance, Sarinteal passed one such Retainer a velvet-bound curiosity; no larger than a grown Merrish hand, the purple finery sheens vividly in the amber-lit eve.

With a jolt, Sarinteal pulled his jerkin and cloak to, the rich finery billowing with the dramatic flair against the chilling winds of Morning Star. He straightened, and prepared himself for entry as his subordinates assumed their own roles.

Normally the collective Justiciar’s entrance would be one of great din and panic more akin to an assault than anything befitting the likes of governmental representatives, but this establishment belonged to the lead in question - a fact he had been mindful not to speak of midst his kin.

The invasion, in light of this, was no less swift.

Alone, Sarinteal parted the great Auridon oak doorway with nary a whisper to be heard from the usual protest of its hinges. He slipped into the abode in the same manner he always did, albeit with a stride and air of purpose.

With his surge into the premises, the Lord Archon was wrapped in the mockingly familiar warmth of the ever burning fireplace.

His bright blue eyes searched the room, narrowed and caught in the pale fire of its arcane blue sheen as they scoured the interior for life.

As all other residences occupied by Kaetlyn Faer'veren, the smell was an overpowering fragrance of herbs hanging from the ceiling beams, and also from exotic plants, herbs and flowers inside. They decorated the walls, hanging from the ceilings or sat in ornately Altmeri crafted vases that cover every surface possible.

Among the scent of verdure is that of old parchment and tomes, which wage war for space in the interior. As per usual despite it's heavy, floral and scholarly charm, everything is meticulously ordered and neat.

A quivering growl from taut lips was all Sarinteal could do to refrain from dismantling it all.

Amongst all of this also were more official and less 'Kaetlyn' like items and objects; official documents piled upon tomes of Ayleid nature and othersuch merethic antiquity. Dwemeri steams fragments, alien crystals of varying hues and shapes, and deeper architectural fascinations teased fanciful notions of the magical makeup of Nirn.

Beside these insulting reminders of Sarinteal Ralleidril’s misplaced trust, were small carvings of female figures.

On closer inspection one might think them to be the hostess even.

He knew as much.

The Lord Archon bristled into shape, and with brevity adopted the usual mannerisms expected of him when dealing with foreign representatives. A farcry image of a mer than that which he would present on a daily, familial basis.

“Kaetlyn?” His voice comes easier than he expected, his vocals having been shocked into life by the billowing Auridon sea air.

“Morwinyon?” He asked again, after a pause.

"Sah-reen-til!" A familiar and happy squeak sounded out from somewhere near the fireplace, where the dark-haired child sat playing with wooden blocks. He sprung up onto his feet to approach the Mer and wrapped himself around a long leg affectionately, smiling broadly up at him all the while.

The hour was late and long past the boys bedtime, although he was dressed in his elaborate and slightly too long night robes. He smelled clean and fresh, and the ends of his raven-black curls hung heavy with damp.

"Sarinteal?" A soft and even more familiar voice called out from the top level, the sound of water sloshing to accompany. Shortly after Kaetlyn Faer'veren descended the stairs halfway, wrapped in an elegant gown of azure silks and silvery decor.

Long, golden blonde hair tumbles down her back, the ends damp and curling prettily at her shoulders. "Sarinteal, sweet, where have you been all evenin-"

She paused as she stepped down to the lower level to join the two, tilting her head curiously as she studies his expression.

"Has something happened?"

II


Sarinteal did not answer Kaetlyn. Instead, jagged and labouring in his efforts, he stooped to greet Morwinyon in turn as he always did. He leant forward and whispered something in the boy’s ear which in turn coaxed a delighted giggle. With a soft, slow nod, the Archon’s voice comes with a strained smile “It is quite alright, he is a servant of mine.” He lifted a hand to tussle at the air above Morwinyon’s head, before ushering him on his way.

Morwinyon toddled in the way directed, tiny hands straightening and preening his dark hair obsessively before following the servant out the front door. As he stepped beyond the threshold of the house, one of the crimson-cloaked mer slip in behind him without seemingly drawing the attention of the boy, who can be heard making a squeal of delight.

Kaetlyn's golden eyes narrow as Morwinyon is sent away, stepping forward in silent protest. "Where is he g-"

“Yes, something has happened." Sarinteal interrupted to answer her first question, with a smile that came all too easy "Where might I find the focal point of the wards, my dear? I wish to deactivate them.”

"O-oh, let me," she moved over to the bookcase and removed one of the vases, within is a simple wardstone, easily deactivated by a simple spell.

“I brought him a gift.” Sarinteal admitted, passing a palm across palm as he searched Kaetlyn’s face, although his eyes never sought out her own. His expression is as veiled as she, presenting a trained look of formal austerity that Kaetlyn herself had no doubt seen before. The edges of his eyes however, are drawn to a sharper edge than usual against the smoky darkness of his black lashes. He watched as she deactivated the ward, and his lip purse and quiver before he responds with cool utilitarian pleasantry “Thank you, Miss Faer’veren.” He clicked his tongue as his Retainer passed behind him and proceeded upstairs.

He watched Kaetlyn turn away to place the vase on to the nearest table, noting her cautious gaze upon the retainer as he made his way up the stairs. Once some distance is allowed, and Sarinteal has checked to assure himself that there are no observers, he allowed some small warmth of familiarity to settle into his tone - and scorch it does.

“I should kill you.” He said with some acute ferocity, tilting his head to the side in order to observe Kaetlyn as the eagle would its quarrel. He does not elaborate, almost daring the healer to protest. The vase does not quite make it to the table and it fell, smashing into many pieces at Kaetlyn’s feet to send broken shards and fragments scattering across the floor.

"I- I beg your pardon?" Kaetlyn uttered, turning to face the Mer. There is a cold sharpness to the golden depths of her eyes now, warily watching him. Her fingers curl at her side and a crackle cuts through the tense, magically charged air between them as she prepares a spell of protection; only to be released if he struck first.

Sarinteal lifted a finger from the pommel of his sheathed blade, to point with languid attention at herself. His voice however still ringing with the heat of his disdain for the mer, tinged with whatever else he may feel “But I have put to the sword far more of our people than I can amend. Lucky for you. You live, and your child lives,” He paused, as his finger flows from left to right and recounted - with deliberate slowness - the many perceived virtues of her position “And your kin all the way up your bloodline, they get to live too.”

The Lord Archon lifted his chin, his jaw tensing as he continues “You have but precious moments left while we are alone, to speak some form of repentance, before the myriad of Thalmor agents stood outside escort you to your new home.” The mer licked over his lips, narrowing his eyes, and curling the corners of his mouth downwards into a growing sneer of distaste by the vileness of the situation Kaetlyn had created.

Kaetlyn observed the Mer with a sharp sense of austerity, certainly not the look of the gentle, youthful healer he had known for more than fifty years. There is a moment of clarity within her fair features, almost as though basking in relief and the weight of Nirn had been lifted from her narrow shoulders. A long and tense silence filled the air between them, and it still crackled at times from the darkness swirling at her fingertips. They were not the spells of a healer.

Her posture withdrew the hostility and caution of previous, becoming simply one of a tranquil defeat, the magicka dissipating from her fingers. She lifted a hand to tuck some golden-blonde ringlets behind a pointed ear. With the elven grace she always bore she moved herself to be seated and gestured for him to join her with a beckon of her hand; as casually as if she were inviting him for tea and she were not a traitor. Eventually, she spoke, her tone was meek and her voice little louder than a whisper. "What do you know?"

He turned from her with little in the way of caution to his movement, and a certain deft elegance returned to him as he is no longer made to look upon Kaetlyn. With a graceful flick of his coattail, the mer seated himself before the hearth. Midst the flickerings of numerous emotions shooting across Sarinteal’s face, there is the brief passing of hurt, of wounding, and the mer uttered in a low tone “I know that you lied to me.”

"Yes, I did," Kaetlyn admitted, never once taking her eyes from him as he sits. "What do you know, Sarinteal?" she asked again calmly.

“I know that you are what I came to Auridon to quash. You, the ‘Veiled Lady’, are culpable to suffer for the crimes you endorsed, same as the *** Estre before you. Cavorting with Maomer, Dunmer, and other such Daedric elements, so as to deal fruitless harm onto the denizens of the very isle you were born." Rather than look upon her, Sarinteal settled for anything but. Occasionally, the telltale shiver of rage causes the Archon to readjust himself in his seat so as to grow ever more coiled in on himself. He looked ready to spring, and to do considerable harm in the act, yet the straining muscle and vein running up his neck tightens with the stress of refraining. “I know also, that had we met under these circumstances a half year ago, I would have run you through the moment you came down those stairs. Morwinyon's neck would be wrung by those outside, too." The mer wet his lips and swallowed, finding neither pleasure nor fulfillment in the recognition.

Kaetlyn drew in a sharp breath as she listened, bowing her head in confirmation to his words. She glanced briefly and worriedly to the door, although is reassured to hear the chatter and squealing of her child outside as he revelled in his gifts. "You are right, although do not think to assume you know those whom I have 'cavorted' with." Slowly she stood, rising gracefully to her full height and holding her hands behind her back. "How did you find out?" she asked curiously.

Sarinteal shuddered, rising before Kaetlyn does. With his sharp chin upturned, and the cool of his demeanour setting back in, he turned to look upon her bereft of the calm his stature protests to mantle. With a tongue sharp, barbed, and without any semblance of feigned understanding, he barely managed to offer the ‘Lady’ a sneer to his words as his body twisted toward her. His spine moved like that of a snake until the sharp bronze of his nose is but an inch from her own, and the furious broiling miasma of magicka is cleaving into her own golden gaze “Do not -think- to wax gentility with me, traitor. By your very title you are culpable, and there is naught else to it.”

The mer recoiled then with a straight back and he would have passed his own hands behind his back, but looking upon Kaetlyn he consciously chose not to mimic her in the least. A raw and bitter reminder of their familiarity and his tutelage in not only intelligence, but posture and manner of grace also. “You live by my virtue - my design - and mine alone. By the hour, that virtue leaks away through the puncture -you- inflicted.” With a sudden motion, the Lord Archon turned to march from the building with dark cloak flaring out behind him “And you do not even have the fair grace to apologise.”

Kaetlyn intercepted his path to the door, holding out a slender hand adorned with the fine jewels she had been gifted over the time they had spent together; there were many delicate gems and gilded rings he knew well she had not received from him alone. "Sarinteal," she protested softly before he could call in his army. "Let me explain to you, please. You know the Mer that I am, and it is as you say, your hand has been the one heaviest to guide me to grow. But when you are absent then others swoop in to change and corrupt that. You know the Mer that I am, but not the Mer I have had to become - forced to be - and nor the reasons for that. I know that if you would pause and see sense, consider our lifetime together that I would not choose to become what it is you now think I am."

Sarinteal’s arm jerked up and away from Kaetlyn. The mer’s head swivels to look upon the point of impact, and then to the perpetrator with a look of abject disgust that he would be touched without permission. His jaw tensed, and his chin lifted as he allowed for the healer to speak her piece.

“I have considered.” He growled in response, a sardonic edge to his tone “Should I embrace you, then?” The Lord Archon tilted his head, his lip curling up at one side so as to warp the three-pronged scar adorning his cheek at the bitter, sneering remark.

He held steady for a moment longer, allowing the mer to choose her next words wisely.

"I ask you to be reasonable, so that we may instead talk on the matter without the need for guardsmer or hostilities." Kaetlyn let out a defeated sigh and retreated away from him, sculpted brows twisting into a worried frown.
Sarinteal blinked at Kaetlyn, his expression seeping into a look of scorned disbelief. After a moment of silent watch over the retreating mer, he drawls with some mild understanding to his rhetoric, “What do you think this is?”

He turned then to take his leave.

Another skylark’s call came again, and in Sarinteal’s wake a torrent of black and gold rushed into the abode to remove the Veiled Lady. Whatever magics follow nullify any acute sense or thought. As if riding on some flawed euphoria Kaetlyn Faer'veren is escorted - Lord Archon and son at her side - northwards into Auridon.
Altmeri tradition, magic, mystery, horror.
Kaetlyn Ralleidril
Morwinyon of Summerset
---
[NA]Anicalise -- And she loves you, stranger!
[EU]Estelara -- The Songflower, the Bandit.
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