The first thing Kybele will notice when she wakes up is almost certainly the enormous pain in her chest. It's not that there's a shortage of things to notice, in the middle of a busy market square mid festival, but that's the kind of thing that really tends to grab the attention. Wherever she fell asleep, she certainly isn't there now.
"I'll let you know if anything seems promising; it may become more feasible as we approach Drezen, for instance, and travel becomes less prohibitive."
"Thanks. What other sensitive things should a Knight-Commander know that I'm not thinking of because I'm from another planet?"
"If you can manage it, it would be helpful to find time in your schedule every few days to go amongst the ordinary troops and talk to at least some of them. It's not really practical to know everyone in a unit when it's this large, but soldiers fight better when they know their commander is on their side and fighting for them, and when you need that loyalty the most is when things are tough and you can least afford to spend time shoring it up. It's my job and that of our other officers to do that as much as we can but that can't completely substitute for attention from the top."
"Sounds good to me. Remind me if I forget, all right? Maybe through Iskander since if I forget I may be juggling a thousand things."
"If there is nothing else for the moment that needs this level of privacy, I won't keep you, but do not hesitate to come to me if something comes up that you didn't think of while I'm here."
"Thank you, your majesty!" And out she and her brother go.
Daeran is out the door before they are, though he has to balance his desire to leave with avoiding doing something as ill advised as running away and giving his cousin an excuse to hold him longer so he's hardly moving as fast as he could be.
Captain Harmattan, meanwhile, lingers a bit, as do Jhoran Vhane and Baroness Gaunther.
"Sorry about that whole business. I will try to make the campaign as painless as possible for everybody," she tells Daeran, when they're out.
"I feel the painless ship has already sailed, but I'll settle for not boring as long as you refrain from being a paladin about it. What about you? Still happy with your deal now that you've gotten to see more of cousin dearest?"
"It suits me fine. If I'm going to change my tune I'd expect the horrors of war, not the horrors of bureacracy, to be the tipping point."
"Personally I would say any sensible person stays as far away from either as they can manage, but I suppose I could hardly call myself sensible even prior to today. Not unless Hulrun was nearby and I was trying to give him an aneurism, at least. Hmm. I'm half tempted to imply to him that I'm a more loyal citizen than he is, with the proof that I'm going on the crusade and he isn't, but that risks him deciding to come along and getting away from him is the only real upside of this whole affair. What are your thoughts, is the apoplexy on his face worth the risk?"
"He seems like he might be possible to manage.. at a higher skill level than I possess."
"Terendelev could halfway manage it, but I've never seen anyone else come close and I'm not sure if it's the bit about her being a dragon or just eight hundred years old that does it. I expect if Iomedae herself were to show up in Kenabres he would try to burn her as a demonic plot, at least if he couldn't be distracted in time."
"Well, in fairness, pretending to be Iomedae does seem like the sort of thing a smart demon would try."
"Alas, the burden of command has corrupted you so swiftly. It's only been a day, and already you're poking logic shaped holes in all my arguments. As a healer, I pronounce the case hopeless; there's no cure, and your condition is terminal."
Daeran lets out a melodramatic sigh and wipes away an imaginary tear.
"Poor Kybele the Curator, gone too soon from this world. If only I had known her longer."
"Write me an amazing eulogy, why don't you."
"We are gathered here today, not to celebrate a triumph, but to mourn what we have lost so we do not forget."
The moment he begins speaking, the mirth vanishes from his face to make room for the mournful solemnity that takes its place; only the occasional twitching of his lips gives away his true feelings.
"On the eighteenth of Arodus, 4715, Kybele the Curator passed from this world. But she was not the only one robbed by this tragedy; she leaves behind a brother, who loved her as life itself, and many in Kenabres now find themselves mourning the loss of a friend. Though she only walked among us a short time, she was known to all for her kindness, wit, and heroism, with which she saved many in Kenabres from demons, cultists, and boredom. Alas, that which withstood the trials of war and the wrath of a Lilitu proved insufficient to slay the dreadest of foes, responsibility. She contracted an acute case of Knight Commander from Queen Galfrey against which all help proved insufficient, and perished shortly after in a valiant struggle against that foulest of plagues. May the judge have mercy on her for her failings, and her soul find the next life it seeks."
Clap clap clap. "Much though I regret the circumstances I am looking forward to having you on board."
"And I suppose there are worse fates than following you on crusade. Only one or two though, mind."
"Only one: not following me on crusade." Wink.
The shudder that comes next is only mildly exaggerated.
"That's true, if there's one thing that I'm certain I would like less it's whatever my cousin has cooked up to make me regret my decisions if I end up bailing. Especially not after she successfully blindsided me like this."
"Gotta love family harmony."
"The really incredible part is, we're somehow not even the worst culprits among Mendevian nobles, just the worst that don't keep it behind closed doors."