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Death Watch
08-28-2015, 03:52 AM (This post was last modified: 08-28-2015 06:02 PM by Morbius.)
Post: #1
Death Watch
Standing in the center of the Chamber of Tradition, Prince Imperial Faykan Alexandros was surrounded by a circle of men who were his shap'ano - test - before his acceptance into the kyar'sad - the Death Watch of the Janessari. Like so many before him, including his own father, the prince imperial had earned his place in the Watch and Faykan now continued that proud tradition.

Facing Prince Faykan directly was his uncle, Prince Imperial Soontir Alexandros, who stood as sol'yc - first - of the young heir's tests. Around him stood Lords Barsavi, Thul, Meraggio and Acilida. Like Prince Soontir, they were bare from the waist up, dressed in black trousers and black military kneeboots. The men were hardened and muscular, their eyes flinty and their demeanor unyielding as they cast their critical gaze upon the heir of the Empire as one. Each of them bore the symbol of the Watch, branded on their left breast. The symbol, which resembled a circle of razor wire surrounding a skull, was a brutal final mark which forever bound the men as brothers in an elite which the Janessari looked up to as keepers of their traditions and guardians of their ancient homes.

Prince Soontir spoke first.

"Aliit ori'shya tal'din."

"Family is more than blood."

"Yes, nephew. You are Janessari. I am Janessari. All gathered here are Janessari. Only you and I are blood, but together with Lord Barsavi, and Lord Thul, and Lord Meraggio and Lord Acilida here, we are ALL family."

Lord Barsavi spoke next, but Faykan continued to stand facing the First.

"Jendo'ad draar digu."

"A Janessari never forgets."

"Yes. The memory of our people is long. We preserve our victories, remember our fallen brethren, honor our departed, and always remember what you learn from your past mistakes."

Lord Acilida spoke next.

"Gar taldin ni jaonyc; gar sa buir, ori'wadaas'la."

"Nobody cares so much who your father is, rather the father you will become."

"Correct. Your dignity as a man, as a warrior, as a Janessari will be most reflected in your honor as a father. Provider, protector, teacher, you will be the anchor that gives your offspring strength and stability as they are raised and learn the ways of the Jende'ade."

As one, Lords Meraggio and Thul silently drew a pair of sleek swords from the rack between them behind the prince imperial. They walked up behind the emperor's firstborn and placed the deadly instruments to the prince's neck, the edge just touching his skin but not piercing or marking it.

Meraggio and Thul spoke as one.

"Verd ori'shya beskar'gam."

"A warrior is worth more than his armor."

"Correct. No armor you wear, no defense you plan, is ever perfect. But you will stand true to your training, at the back of your brothers, and together you are proof against all comers. Stand tall, stand true, and show the world what it means to be Janessari."

The two lords paramount returned to their place in the circle, returning the weapons to the rack. Prince Soontir again spoke.

"It is well, firstborn of the Golden Lion. You stand before us and we see no fault in you. There is no flaw which trial and blood cannot purge from your character. We will be your guides as you walk the final shap'ano and you face your last great trial."

As one, the prince imperial and four lords paramount clenched their right fist and placed it over their brands with a slap of flesh on flesh.

"Haat, Ijaa, Haa'it!"

"Truth, honor and vision, nephew. We approve your final trial. Be prepared to face the fire of challenge and the blade of judgment. The Death Watch awaits you."
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10-11-2015, 04:28 AM (This post was last modified: 07-04-2018 01:43 AM by Morbius.)
Post: #2
RE: Death Watch
It had been a pleasant day in early April. The sun had been warm. The breeze light. The birds singing just perfectly. A beautiful day, where Cephorus had been able to enjoy a picnic with his dearest beloved Orosea, on that hill near Epoxague, overlooking the Imperial Reserve, where the horses came to drink from the lake fed by the melted ice of the nearby mountains.

The children had been with his grandmother Aquiala. She loved watching them, and they all adored her. She'd promised the two a quiet afternoon and they had been grateful. Since the death of Uncle Aulus and his father stepping aside as heir apparent after a heart attack, free time had been preciously spare, as Cephorus had been kept busy by his grandfather in the duties of the crown prince.

Cephorus had just begun to pull apart a small loaf of lightly honeyed bread which his grandfather had made for him. Trying out a new recipe he'd said. It was still warm from the oven. It had smelled wonderful. Orosea had poured them both wine. That was when he heard the rapid approach of footsteps. He had moved to be in front of Orosea, resting back on his haunches with his hand on the pistol he kept concealed in his belt beneath his coat.

It had been a footman from Epoxague. He had been breathless, his face was red. His cheeks streaked with tears.

Sad tears. Carrying a sad message.

Grandsire was dead. Grandmother had become worried when he had not shown up, always having been punctual, for lunch and went to check on him. He had been found sitting at his desk in his study, slumped over a book he had been reading while researching his latest astronomical paper. The court surgeon said he had died from a stroke perhaps an hour before being discovered. His passing had been instantaneous.

Grandsire was dead.

He remembered Orosea's hands first laying on, then squeezing, his shoulders. Then when he lost his battle to keep back the tears and began sobbing, she had slid her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.

Grandsire was dead.

Cephorus had dismissed the footman and simply sat there, tears rolling down his face, sobbing softly into his wife's arms. Being near death on the fields of Bone Pass had been nothing compared to the emptiness of losing one so loved in his life. His grandfather had taught him much, shown him much, and had given him the understanding he would need for when his time came to serve the Empire.

His time to become Dynast Emperor.

TO BE CONTINUED
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04-12-2019, 02:59 AM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2019 07:05 PM by Morbius.)
Post: #3
RE: Death Watch
Epoxague had been a whirlwind of activity that next day. Ministers and senior military officers had come to kiss hands, and several foreign ambassadors had called to express to Cephorus their sympathies, well-wishes and respect. Throughout this period, the new monarch had kept his wife and parents close, relying on their ever present love and silent presence to grant him the emotional support he needed but could no longer express. It had been very similar to the period just after he had been released from hospital after his near-death experience at Bone Pass, and he had spent several weeks convalescing at Oretini Palace with his wife and mother at his side. Those weeks had been an unceasing parade of fitful nights and nightmare-filled sleep, as he had been diagnosed with "shell shock" from his experience.

Orosea remembered that period well. He had been nigh-unapproachable by all but his close family and a few good friends during that time, short-tempered and even outright aggressive as he struggled with the intense litany of emotions fighting for preeminence in his thoughts. He would snap at servants who simply asked if he'd like another cup of coffee or if they could bring him the day's newspaper. He barked angrily at his brother Emthoro when the prince imperial had asked about how he was feeling. One day when his mother, Princess Eddara, came to talk with him while he sat in the conservatory, bringing with her hot coffee and sweetcakes, Cephorus snapped at her quite angrily. The princess stared at him quietly for a long moment before coming up to him, wrapping her arms around his neck, and kissing the top of his head. At this, he broke down sobbing and buried his face in her shoulder. Another time, he even became short with the Emperor himself when the elder statesman was telling him of his own experience as a military officer during a discussion about his warring emotions. Emshandar had simply smiled gently at him and continued telling his story.

There would be nights Cephorus would turn over in the bed, crying out in his sleep, and grab her up in his arms, squeezing her so tightly her ribs would ache. This fitfulness would go on for several minutes before he would calm and slip back into deeper sleep. She would simply kiss his cheek, stroke his hair, and sing softly to him. To her, he was her wounded, frightened lion, scarred and healing, regaining his strength but still vulnerable. She would whisper to him, "Dormi, tesoro. Sono proprio qui."** The worst of it slowly faded, and after a while, he regained his calm. But the experience, and the memory of it, would be with him always. On occasion, Orosea would see the lingering pain in his eyes, but she knew he was going to be all right. She remembered what Emshandar had told her - ”He is hurt, Orosea. He is damaged. He won’t admit it, but he is. He has looked Death in the face, struggled with him and won. But he must now carry that dark mark of his brush with the Harvester of Souls for the rest of his life. Be there for him. There will be times he will be tormented by the echoes of what he has experienced, and while you may not feel there is much you can do, just holding his hand or hugging him can be enough to keep him anchored. He will need you, now more than ever.”.

Now the period of mourning would begin in earnest, and Grandsire's body would be removed to the Celestial Basilica at Veneziano Palace from the Scarlet Cathedral in Epoxague. There, he would lay in state for three days for the formal State funeral.

Cephorus had been slow to ready himself that morning, taking a late breakfast and remaining in his rooms with Orosea till well after 0900. Finally, donning his jacket and taking his wife's hand in his, he made his way to the corridor and headed for the foyer, where his brothers, parents, aunt and uncles awaited for the motorcade to the train station, where the Imperial train waited to ferry them to Cedelphia.

As they reached the top of the stairs, Orosea squeezed his hand and smiled up at him when he stopped and gazed down at her. Rising on her tiptoes, she gently kissed his cheek and lay her free hand atop the hand that held hers. He smiled to her briefly before schooling his face back into a mask of implacable Imperial calm as they made their way down. But as he reached the landing, Cephorus noticed the attendant standing there gazing to him and then casting his eyes down to the main floor. As he reached the bottom and turned, the attendant bowing his head and stepping back, Cephorus saw what the man had been gesturing to - his grandmother walking toward him, in her black dress and veil. Near her, a line of footmen and maids stood along the wall, stock still and stone silent. Coming halfway into the foyer, she paused only momentarily before she began to slowly curtsy, bowing her head.

The new Dynast Sovereign's dark eyes were a storm of emotions as he watched this unfold. The woman to whom he would have bowed in respect as his Emperor's consort - and grandmother second - only a day before was now curtsying to him. As she rose, her eyes fell on him, her expression grave. The emperor said nothing, did nothing, simply standing there calmly with his hands clasped behind his back. Beside Cephorus, Orosea looked up at her husband, a touch of concern in her expression as she watched that unreadable face struggle to maintain its composure. She knew the stakes had been altered. The paradigm had shifted. The roles had changed.

Now, they would all bow to him. Now, they would all incline their heads to him as he walked past. He was no longer a Prince Imperial, or Crown Prince. The Crown was upon his brow now.

He alone would carry the burden. He was Dynast Emperor of Auresia.

** "Sleep now, darling. I am right here."
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