Sep 22, 2021 5:11 PM
The night is always darkest...
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“Oh. Oh, I see, that’s. Quite disturbing. So being… whatever it was, part primal, turning into one, summoning it, whatever, would lend itself naturally to bending the will of others. Halone.” He leans back in his chair. “Well. … Then this sounds rather like a job for Scions, doesn’t it. What with it being your specialty.”

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Alphinaud looks away, then, when Haurchefant mentions the Scions.

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And Otohiko himself shuts his eyes, for a moment.

It's... still fresh.

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Haurchefant winces.

“I’m sorry, I seem to have had my foot as the main course. I merely thought something to,” he waves a hand at Otohiko, “be heroic at would be just what you wanted. Forgive me, I want your health and happiness above all. If you are not able or willing to save all the world right now, please, don’t blame yourself. See to yourself.”

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Alphinaud doesn't look up, balling his hands into fists.

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But Otohiko shakes his head and places a hand on Alphinaud's shoulder. "The Scions," he murmurs to his friend's knees, "are no more."

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"... My friend, I'm so sorry, what. What happened, and how can I help?"

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He squeezes Alphinaud's shoulder and then lets go to look up at Haurchefant's face and explain.

Otohiko and the Scions were framed for murder - regicide, no less. He was in a meeting with the Sultana, but her wine was poisoned. Teledji Adeledji, one of her political enemies, arrived just then -

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- ("Damned good timing wasn't it.") -

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- and accused him.

It was all a plot - Alphinaud's newly-formed Grand Company had been bribed into turning against them, and so they were all rounded up at the banquet. General Aldynn killed Adeledji, then, and bought them enough time to try to flee, but the whole of Ul'dah had been taken by then. And so, one by one, Otohiko's friends stayed behind to hold the attackers off and buy the others a better chance to escape.

Until he was the only one left.

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Alphinaud managed to escape, too, with the help of the General's son. Apparently Alphinaud's sister, wherever she is now, had caught wind of the ploy and arranged for help.

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"And so... we came to the only place we still had allies at, the only place that would be... for sure... not compromised. Here.

"But now... it's just us. Our linkpearl network has been hijacked, we can't call anyone, and we don't... know... where anyone else could be. The Crystal Braves had full access to our headquarters and have surely taken it over... and the other cities could not host us without drawing the fury of Ul'dah."

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"Drawing the fury of Ul'dah?" The strength of his fury is such that he stood from his chair without realizing it. "Of Ul'dah! Oh, the fury of Ul'dah will be a damned gentle breeze in comparison to the fury of—!"

  There's a knock at the door.

"Later, thank you," he calls to the knocker, recollecting something resembling his cool. "My friend. My dear friend. Words cannot express my grief and anger at the injustice. It's insane, it's unfair, it's absurd, it's, it's."

Yep, no, words are not working. He supposes a hug will have to do. He steps forward, gently takes Otohiko's bowl of half finished soup to set aside on the table, and leans down to hug him.

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His bewilderment at the elezen taking the soup away is not any lessened by the hug, but... he cannot say he does not welcome it. The au ra buries his face in Haurchefant's neck (being careful with his horns) and just breathes.

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Alphinaud... hugs himself. "'Tis my fault. My... my folly, my ambition, my overconfidence... my lack of caution... My own people, working against us right under my nose..."

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"Oh, hush with your dramatics, you made a mistake but you were trying to better the world," grumbles Haurchefant, and reaches out a hand to drag Alphinaud into the hug, too. MANY HUGS. MOST HUGS.

  There's another knock at the door.

"Busy, thank you!"

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"Pray forgive my interruption, but I don't believe this should wait!" calls a voice that Otohiko and Alphinaud might recognize.

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Otohiko immediately bolts to his feet. "Lady Yugiri?"

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"The very same! I bring your friend Tataru and tidings. We have come from the Rising Stones."

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Okay apparently it is no longer hug time that's fine, uh. He'll open the door.

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And here is a familiar face. Well, proverbially. She'd made the habit of wearing a mask, but she is recognizably the same person.

She clasps her hands before her and bows in the Doman fashion. "Pray forgive me for leaving your bastion to your enemies, but my priority was the swift evacuation of its denizens, most of which have fled to the Waking Sands. Urianger, F'lhaminn, your newer Scion recruits, and the still-loyal Crystal Braves hold the place under a hidden glamour. Lady Tataru, however," and she looks up with the hint of a smile, "insisted on checking up on you herself."

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So she did. The small lalafell steps out from behind Yugiri, beaming a watery smile at her allies. She sniffles and wipes a falling tear with the back of a hand. "I-I-I-" she stammers, then sniffles once more. "I c-couldn't contact anyone - I thought the worst - oh -"

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... Yugiri frowns, looking over the room's occupants with a critical eye. "It is just you and Alphinaud...? Then my work is not yet complete, and my debt to the Scions is not yet repaid. I thought it was only two that were missing."

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"...only two? Yda, Papalymo, Y'shtola, Thancred, and Minfilia all stayed behind, and the other Scions were all back at HQ."

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"Yda and Papalymo were waylaid for a while, but vanished like a candle's smoke in a storm. By the way your enemies have been attempting to tear apart Ul'dah to find them, I do not think they have been captured or killed. The ones at your headquarters are all accounted for, either at the Waking Sands or elsewhere, but not in enemy hands. So, 'tis three that are missing."

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