Rebirth And Second Chances 113 Benefice

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"And what about you and your people?" I wondered. "Will you return to Talahm?"

"We will," d.u.c.h.ess Wynne answered, "some of us might have wanted to stay, but we are family. One House. None will remain, even if this world has much to offer, free of Seelie and Unseelie superiority. Free of those that would murder an innocent."

I was relieved, I thought it best d.u.c.h.ess Wynne and her people returned. The System hadn't explained exactly how it was integrated, but it seemed to have hinted that Rank was excluded from the paradigm that had been selected for Earth and her people. That made a certain sense. There were people that were considered Royal on Earth, but the vast majority of governments had eschewed that system.

If d.u.c.h.ess Wynne or her people had decided to remain, they would have had an unfair advantage over the denizens of the planet, both in level and expertise. And Sidhe were conditioned to rule, it was why Rankings were so integral to power and position on Talahm. She would have been unable to resist the temptation of becoming a planet-wide despot. Benevolent at first, possibly. But Sidhe's history suggested that unlikely.

d.u.c.h.ess Wynne may have the best of intentions, but circ.u.mstance would force her hand. G.o.ds that were re-empowered and active challenging her, forcing her to respond. Her fury and despair at the loss of her daughter twisting and corrupting her personality until all that was evil and horrible about the Sidhe would break free resulting in a killing and torturing spree that was epic and horrendous.

"Perhaps you might consider joining my House?" I offered uncertain as I did so what my motivations were and why I was making the offer. She had already mitigated most of my fears when she informed me that she and her House would be returning with me, so I wasn't using the opportunity to bribe or sway her decision.

Reflecting on my decision, I decided my motivation was benign, I was offering her new roots. Something she could hold onto and build upon now that she had lost all hope for her daughter. I wasn't sure if she would take the offer. She had known me only a few moments, her acceptance would be as risky, be no different than jumping from a cliff and hoping I could catch her.

What I was doing had nothing to do with trying to protect Earth or the population one last time, they were beyond my power and influence at this point. What I was offering was for her. And for me. My brief return to Earth had reinforced a sentiment that had been slowly building. It was time I cut the last strings that bound me to my former life and embraced the Sidhe whole-heartedly.

It was time. Past time that I moved forward and lived in the now and the future and stopped comparing what was with what had been. Both worlds had their own problems. Earth was beginning anew. Starting fresh. Those that embraced the new reality would flourish and grow.


I needed to do the same. No more relying on Earth's history or teachings to guide my actions. I was Sidhe now.

"Lord Haygan has paid for his crimes," I a.s.sured her. "He was challenged to a duel in Belisama's arena and lost. Both he and Lord Kel have been defeated, their crimes and ignominy exposed. But the people that were really behind you being banished to CERN Dungeon? Those ultimately responsible for taking your daughter's life are still to be brought to justice.

"I can't promise when, or even if we will be able to find, punish, or make much of a difference against those really responsible. But I will work to see that you get your chance for vengeance. I would hope, working together, you would help me create an opportunity that allows our people to stop these types of intrusions.

"Pretty words," Wynne replied, "but what is the real reason? No one offers Va.s.salage this easily."

"I would rather see you engaged in battle than to rot in despair. I plan to take the steps required to confront Olympus and Asgard about their perfidy. Sidhe have for too long been stifled by the outdated vendettas between Seelie and Unseelie. I would see that end!" I answered honestly.
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"And you. You and your people have been abused. Manipulated and forced to act as betrayers of Sidhe. I would see you redeemed."

d.u.c.h.ess Wynne seemed to swell as I explained my motives, motives that became clear to me as well as I made my entreaty. Words hold power, nowhere was that more obvious than in this discussion. My words became a gathering storm of change, the spark that returned focus and drive to the sh.e.l.l of the woman that had been lost and broken since word of her daughter's death.

And that spark, that return to life, the power of my words, resulted in a blazing bonfire of hope as new goals and new determination were kindled. The ashes of despair and anguish exploding into a conflagration of anger and savagery. It didn't matter that fire wasn't the element the d.u.c.h.ess was aligned with, in this moment the embers of hate and fury blazed forth as a testament of determination and purpose.

d.u.c.h.ess Wynne would act. She would not allow her daughter's life to have been wasted and remain unavenged. Those that had consigned her and those she cared for to CERN, treated them as nothing more than meaningless p.a.w.ns in the Cosmic game of G.o.ds would find that the most destructive fire, the fire that would destroy entire forest and cities, only needed the smallest spark to ignite before it began to rage out of control.

As long as the fire was fed fuel and oxygen it would grow, and her will was strong enough to nurture that small spark until the Universe itself burned if that was what was required to get justice for her daughter.

It was easy to tell when she had reached a decision. The rekindled purpose and resolve firming her posture. Slumped shoulders raised, dejection evident in movement eased as her body mirrored her new determination, as she realized acceptance wasn't necessary. She embraced this opportunity, comforted that there was a chance, no matter how slim that she would be able to avenge her daughter. That she personally could dispense justice.

I had wondered why she hadn't availed herself of the Hunt before this, until I saw the change that transformed her from victim to vanquisher. She hadn't called them into action in the beginning because there was the slightest chance her daughter still lived. She wouldn't call the Hunt now.

Once I'd informed her of the reality, she had abandoned retribution, lost to grief. But given the chance to face and exact the pound of flesh that she and her House were owed, she would take that chance. The Hunt would act, there was no doubt. But the Hunt seeking justice would not offer the same satisfaction.

The echoes of bloodl.u.s.t that Sidhe could project were leaking, her aura swamping those Knockers that were not powerful enough to resist. I projected the healing power of Beleros' Aura to protect those caught in the oppressive might of her l.u.s.t, allowing them to resist and trapped in a perverse loop, feedback between them and the d.u.c.h.ess that cycled endlessly.

Olympus and Asgard would tremble under the onslaught of her rage. I may have felt sympathy for them if they hadn't acted capriciously, with an indifference to the value of life that was typical of their hubris.

Beware the Sidhe slighted, or the Sidhe dismissed as unworthy. Once roused to anger, their wrath is a fearsome thing.

Sidhe who had been betrayed were capable of embracing the force of nature that they were related too. d.u.c.h.ess Ailis Wynne was the daughter of the first Knocker. A distant relation of Puca, her powers embraced the mysteries of the oceans. Her domain allowed her to summon the pressures of the depths, the icy coldness of waters that have long been protected from the Sun's warming rays. She could drown you in crus.h.i.+ng pressures so heavy that your internal organs would be nothing but paste before you could react.

She was a leader for a race of tinkerers. Their ability to mold metal and machinery was without peer.

Knockers were well known for their mischief. Dismissed as minor powers, the truth was that they allowed themselves to be disparaged and forgotten. They protected themselves in a cloak of harmlessness that made most overlook or under-estimate their true nature and power. But once roused to anger, they became inflexible.

A Ranked d.u.c.h.ess, no matter what branch of Sidhe they sprung from, was imbued with powers that could raze cities and lay waste to field and forest alike. My words had emboldened the distraught d.u.c.h.ess, they had reminded her that she was a force, a Power. And Knockers had been dismissed as lesser because of their appearance. But it didn't matter that she was the size of the smallest child first learning to walk, her stature was more than offset by the energies she was able to wield.

Kneeling, almost genuflecting at my feet, she delivered the words of Va.s.salage, her entire life-force empowering her Oath. We were not a part of the System that had permeated this Universe, it still responded to her heartfelt words of devotion, and verified her Oath.

[d.u.c.h.ess Ailis Wynne has offered her life's blood. She places her fate in your hands and promises to serve the House of Teigh Mac de Beleros y Cyronax faithfully and fully, asking only that a chance to restore her House's honor and avenger her daughter's sacrifice be allowed.]

[Do you accept her pledge and accept House Wynne as an Accessory House, creating your first Benefice?]

[Yes/No]

"Caraid, what is a Benefice?" I asked privately.

=[It is a deeper and more extensive obligation than Va.s.salage. With a Va.s.sal, the Oath is between two people. With a Benefice, the individual offers to join your House as a subsidiary House. They become an offshoot of your House and bind themselves and their people to your service.]

=[Only those Ranked Duke and above can accept this kind of Oath. Any Va.s.sal's or Benefice's that d.u.c.h.ess Wynn holds are included under the umbrella of obligations you would owe her. It makes sense to find out who she may have under her protection before accepting her pledge. It wouldn't do to find out you are obligated as Sworn Liege to someone you consider an enemy.]

=[It is why these types of Oaths are normally only given after much deliberation and careful investigation.]

=[It is the highest honor that one Sidhe can offer another. Your houses will entwine together becoming a cohesive whole that supports and flourishes only if each pattern in the tapestry of your endeavor is healthy.]

=[If House Wynne falls. So too will House Beleros y Cyronax.]

=[There is no greater honor, no deeper trust than to give Oath as Benefice,] he explained

Rebirth And Second Chances 113 Benefice

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Rebirth And Second Chances 113 Benefice summary

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