Jan 22, 1998

The Circle Club

The main room is illuminated by crystal spheres, locked into the rich

  wood walls with elegant black wrought iron. The light is kept somewhat

  dim, allowing the warmer light from the two great fireplaces to make

  the shadows flicker and dance just a bit. Brass plaquards etched and

  enameled with the coats of arms of each Noble House of Chaos are set

  into the walls.

Comfortable couches lie clustered near the fireplaces. One corner of the

  room is dominated by a billiard table, and another by a small bar,

  occasionally staffed by a gaunt little demon with yellow eyes. Stained

  glass windows are set into the walls at varying intervals, depicting

  archaic images from Chaosian religion and history. A crystal plate

  over the bar is etched with the names of the members, and the club


Cecilia stares at Ashnah.

Ashnah says "We hold but the smallest parts of him within our collective."

Tkaldinask's head pivots to Senusia.

Ashnah says "As a child might hold the parts of its parent, so is our

  relationship to god."

Senusia merely smiles slightly.

Tkaldinask says "Perhaps you should explain Ashnah's genesis."

Ashnah frowns.

Cecilia's brows rise. "God?"

Senusia says "Perhaps; 'should', though, is not a word you should have


Ashnah says "Is that polite? Do we ask of your parents mating grunts?"

Cecilia's gaze hardens.

Tkaldinask's eyes glow brighter.

Ashnah says "Our knowledge of protocol is limited."

Ashnah says "If so, we will inquire, as we should."

Cecilia looks to the Arch Prelate. "We must suppose you had a reason

  to bring this child to discuss a delicate matter of state."

Senusia touches Ashnah's arm to quiet him, then looks at Cecilia. "Pardon,

  but he is correct. I will answer questions, but will not respond to


Ashnah nods and falls quiet.

Tkaldinask's tailtip twitches.

Cecilia phrases it in the form of a question. "What was that reason?"

Senusia says "This child is learning, as all children do. As we all do,

  all of our lives. His origin is somewhat different than most, but he is

  my child."

Tkaldinask rumbles "The Ministry of Justice has not declared Rac dead.

  Actions that may have been comitted by him after his supposed death

  in the Cathedral of the Serpent, or after his actions of alleged treason,

  are relevant to our investigation."

Senusia replies to Cecilia, "I seek to broaden his experiences; and, as

  a child of a noble although Minor House of Chaos, I sought to introduce

  him to you."

Senusia turns to Tkaldinask, "My brother Rac is no longer of this life.

  And lest you think otherwise, Ashnah has been within House Amblerash

  for some time now; indeed it is accurate to state that Ashnah had not

  spoken to Rac before his ascension."

Cecilia says "We cannot say we are pleased; an introduction might more

  properly been handled as a separate issue.  Still, it is done, and the

  child is here."

Tkaldinask says "It is customary for the Ministry of Justice to make

  final determinations of fact in matters under investigation."

Senusia shrugs.

Ashnah seems almost to speak, but does not.

Tkaldinask's wings rustle as it resettles them.

Cecilia smoothes the disgruntlement from her features. "Very well; we

  are here to hear the findings of the Justice Ministry, regarding the

  charges of treason pending against Rac Amblerash, and to hear the

  Church's interpretation of that manifestation's motivations."

Senusia nods and sits back, hands folded again in her lap.

Cecilia looks to Tkaldinask. "You have studied the matter thoroughly,

  Minister Tkaldinask?"

Tkaldinask rumbles "The facts are unarguable and do not appear to have

  been disputed by Rac in his last appearance. The precendents and law

  appear clear. By his actions Rac Amblerash did deliberately assault

  the person of the br'DleH, which is an act of treason."

Senusia says "May I ask what is the legal definition of the term 'assault'?"

Tkaldinask says "I did not bring the slabs of law or the scrolls of

  precedents to this meeting. Actions such as deliberately infecting

  yoq'cha against their will are included."

Senusia tilts her head but doesn't comment further.

Tkaldinask says "The Ministry of Justice accepts that Rac Amblerash had

  no intention of killing the br'DleH, or the charge would have been

  attempted murder."

Cecilia's expression is thoughtful. "Does the Church dispute these

  facts?" Her gaze flickers to Senusia.

Senusia says "The Church disputes the conclusion derived from the facts,

  but the facts themselves are accurate."

Ashnah's hair rises and whips about briefly in agitation, then lays

  flat again.

Cecilia says mildly, "We have yet to hear the Minister's conclusion,

  we believe." She looks back to Tkaldinask. "Where do these facts

  lead us, Minister?"

Senusia holds up a hand. "Shall I say, then, that I disagree with the

  charge of treason. I believe it is inaccurate. But do continue."

Tkaldinask says "That Rac Amblerash is guilty of treason in the form

  of an assault on the person of the br'DleH."

Tkaldinask's head pivots towards Senusia and it rumbles "An assault

  on the person of the br'DleH is by the slabs of law treason."

Ashnah's clear eyes squeeze slightly closed.

Senusia says "Perhaps. I am only the Arch Prelate, not the Minister

  of Justice. Say on."

Tkaldinask rumbles "The Arch Prelate is free to inspect the slabs of

  law in the Ministry of Justice." Its head pivots back towards Cecilia.

  "That is the Ministry of Justice's judgement in this case."

Cecilia nods, "We thank the Minister for his service to the crown. He

  has, as always, seized the kernel of the matter."

Cecilia looks to Senusia. "Would you care to explain how your train

  of thought diverges from that of the Minister?"

Ashnah's skin slowly shades to a burned sienna tone.

Senusia looks thoughtful a moment, then speaks. "After much study,

  meditation, and prayer, the Church has reached its own conclusion about

  the events surrounding Rac. His former title of Arch Prelate, and his

  relationship to House Amblerash, were only lightly taken into account.

  As Arch Prelate, I speak for the Church."

Cecilia says "We listen."

Tkaldinask's head has pivoted towards Senusia.

Senusia says "For some time now, Rac ti'Amblerash has not been of the

  same corporeality as the rest of us. His thoughts and motives are

  largely incomprehendable, although in his own beliefs he has always

  acted in the best interests of Chaos, as the Serpent directed him."

Cecilia says "In his own beliefs. You feel this exonerates him?"

Senusia says "The event at the Feast of Many was his attempt to prod

  Chaosians along the path we should be treading -- making us change,

  to grow stronger."

Senusia says "The Serpent demands such from us: change, survival,

  strength. They are the three Holy Commands."

Cecilia says "Indeed."

Senusia says "His success at this goal was, for good or bad, somewhat


Cecilia says "He is not charged with treason against the Serpent,

  however, but against our person."

Senusia looks directly at Cecilia. "You were not targetted specifically;

  none were. All were. From the greatest to the smallest."

Tkaldinask says "And so he could be charged with many cases of assault.

  The Ministry presumes that the Crown felt this would be redundant in

  the face of Rac's assault on the br'DleH."

Senusia looks over at Ashnah. "When it was obvious nearly all had indeed

  survived, he chose, for whatever reason, to leave us. Perhaps it was

  his way of showing what we have the potential to become. That we may

  all join the Serpent freely."

Tkaldinask tilts its head as it considers Senusia.

Senusia glances sideways at Tkaldinask. "As you say."

Cecilia says dryly, "The charge was treason, not murder.  That we survived

  it is immaterial to the matter of law."

Senusia says "May I offer an anolgy which you might find distasteful?"

Cecilia says "You may."

Senusia says "Parents are not charged with assault or treason when they

  discipline their children."

Ashnah crosses its legs, its eyes fade to a clear sapphire.

Tkaldinask rumbles "The br'DleH's survival and lack of long-term injuries

  are factors in the magnitude of the treason. All charges of treason

  carry the same base sentence, although clemency may be granted based

  on the magnitude."

Cecilia studies Senusia. "You were correct, we do find it distasteful."

Senusia shrugs slightly. "The Church has not formally decided whether

  Rac was or was not out of his bounds; he may indeed have been acting

  directly for the Serpent. Who are we to argue with our creator?"

Ashnah smiles.

Tkaldinask's wings rustle.

Cecilia says "We do not recognize the right of a minor lordling to

  attempt to discipline us. Do you say you know for a fact that the

  Serpent directed his actions, and not his own will?"

Senusia says "I say that I am not yet decided. I do believe Rac felt

  so; I do believe that of any of us, save perhaps my lord father,

  he would be the most likely to be divinely instructed by the Serpent."

Senusia says "The Church has decided that Rac did indeed ascend, to

  become one with the Serpent. Whether or not he will be officially

  canonized for such is still a matter of debate, given the atmosphere

  of those less faithful in Chaos."

Tkaldinask rumbles "That there is a need to think over the issue suggests

  that it is not known for a fact whether he acted under the Serpent's

  direction instead of his own views on what should be done in its name."

Senusia nods to Tkaldinask. "And so the Church will not stand in the way

  of a treason charge. Neither will it condone it."

Ashnah looks to Senusia, his hair rippling briefly.

Senusia glances at Ashnah, and nods slightly.

Ashnah says "May we speak, Majesty?"

Tkaldinask's head pivots to study Ashnah.

Cecilia's eyes flick to Ashnah. "Yes."

Ashnah folds its hands.

Ashnah says "The Serpent is change. It is change, embraced and understood,

  which is the nature of Chaos. My maker, in his changes, embraced the

  nature of the Serpent more fully than any other. He knew the nature of

  the Serpent, and his Gift to us was to allow us to understand it as well."

Ashnah says "How can the acts of the avatar of the Serpent, of god, be

  _other_ than the acts of the Serpent?"

Ashnah says "While beyond the understanding of some, or the survival of

  others, the virus was but a message from the Serpent, a message of change."

Ashnah says "A message compelling Chaos to chaos."

Ashnah says "We become too much of our ordered children."

Ashnah says "If we offend, the collective begs pardon."

Ashnah falls silent.

Cecilia's lips curl slightly. "You do not offend."

Cecilia says "And we agree that change is the nature of Chaos."

Cecilia says "And," she inclines her head to Senusia. "We acknowledge

  that the Church knows of such matter far better than we."

Senusia says "But we still live a largely secular life."

Cecilia says "It is therefore our decision that the punishment for

  Lord Amblerash's treason will be purely political, and not touch upon

  his possible beatification."

Ashnah says "Speech can be treason, but is usually tolerated. To god,

  the virus, and speech, they are one and the same."

Ashnah says "His words merely change the listener more than usual."

Cecilia says "As Lord Amblerash has already... ascended, no such

  punishment can be visited upon his person, in any case. The Serpent

  shall judge him, his actions and his heart."

Senusia nods.

Cecilia says "We however, reserve our rights over the house."

Senusia inclines her head. "For that, however, you must speak with my

  brother Ryder. Shall I call him?"

Ashnah says "You would punish the grieving members of a family for the

  acts of their dead brother and father?"

Senusia shakes her head slightly at Ashnah. "Ryder is our defender in

  this, Ashnah. Trust in him."

Cecilia opens her mouth to answer Senusia but says instead to Ashnah.

  "When you are older, child, you will perhaps understand that the

  Lord *is* the House, and the House, the Lord. It is the way of Chaos."

Tkaldinask's wings rustle.

Ashnah says "We understand."

Ashnah says "Our House is undivided."

Ashnah says "As is all of Chaos."

Cecilia looks to Tkaldinask, "Minister, we ask whether if a demotion of

  the house would follow the precedents of the Laws of Chaos, and if

  you judge it a fair decree?"

Ashnah says "One body."

Senusia reaches into a pocket in her robe, withdrawing a card.

Tkaldinask contemplates.

Senusia says "I believe you should speak with my brother, at least,

  regarding these circumstances."

Cecilia's eyes flick to Senusia. "In due time, Arch Prelate."

Tkaldinask begins to acquire a stony cast.

Senusia nods, and holds the card in her lap.

Tkaldinask stirs at last, the stony cast receeding. It rumbles "It

  would be within the precedents of the Courts of Chaos to demote

  House Amblerash in status for Rac's actions."

Tkaldinask rustles its wings.

Tkaldinask says "It would also be within the precendents to not do

  so, in that Rac Amblerash appears to have acted on his own, without

  shelter or resources from his House and without the knowledge of his

  House, and that his actions would have been unchanged had he been

  neither Lord Amblerash nor even a member of Amblerash."

Tkaldinask says "I am a Chaos Demon. I cannot pass judgement on what

  the Lords and Ladies of Chaos would find fair."

Tkaldinask resettles its wings with a rustle and falls silent.

Cecilia says "We are willing to entertain other possibilities for

  punishment, if the Ministry offers them. Lacking the manifestation,"

  her voice tinges with irony, "which committed this act, our options

  are limited."

Tkaldinask considers. "Perhaps Lord Amblerash will have some ideas."

Cecilia mms. She looks to Senusia, "Very well. Call him."

Senusia nods, and looks at the card in her hand.

The image of Ryder stands. Amongst ravens.

To the image of Ryder, Senusia says "Brother, you should come. The King

  and the Minister of Justice are deciding our House's fate, in the

  absence of Rac to punish."

To the image of Ryder, Senusia quirks a smile.

The image of Ryder says "Have absinthe."

The image of Ryder picks up his cigarettes, and his sword.

To the image of Ryder, Senusia says "I'm sure the club has it, yes."

Ryder has arrived.

Ryder retrieves his hand, and lights a cigarette.

Cecilia inclines her head. "Lord Amblerash. Join us, won't you?"

Senusia nods to her brother.

Ryder says "It seems I am."

Ashnah stands and bows to Ryder.

Cecilia says "We discuss the matter of Rac Amblerash."

Ryder crooks a finger at the diminutive demon at the bar, and sends for

  absinthe and an ashtray.

Ryder nods to Ashnah, faintly amused.

Ryder says "Do we. And what do we say about him tonight?"

Cecilia says "The Ministry of Justice finds that his actions in

  releasing a deadly virus upon our person fulfill the definition of

  treason. The Church has argued that he was, in his mind at least,

  fulfilling the will of the Serpent."

Ryder says "I would think the point moot. You can hardly execute him."

Cecilia says "True. He was, however, Lord Amblerash. The punishment,

  therefore, may be meted out upon House Amblerash."

Cecilia says "Thus the courtesy of including you in this discussion."

Ryder says "His lordship was invalid, as evidenced by me sitting here

  with you."

Cecilia says "Your lordship began before his ended?"

Cecilia says "Or did you assume the position after his departure?"

Ryder says "As is well known, I have been Lord Amblerash since shortly

  after Rac was reassembled from his multiple selves. That has been

  quite some time, I should say."

Tkaldinask considers. "Rac became Lord Amblerash upon your assumed death?"

Ryder says "Did he? Says who?"

Cecilia arches a brow.

Ryder says "The House Amblerash has never enjoined succession by

  assassination, and I can only ascribe this seeming normal to the sad

  state of affairs in many Houses."

Ryder ashes his cigarette.

Ashnah's head swivels to gaze at Ryder.

Cecilia says "Has Amblerash any signs or objects of the office of Lord?"

Ryder says "Yes. It was stolen from me."

Cecilia says "By Rac, presumably?"

Ryder says "I suppose. I was in no shape to say at the moment."

Cecilia says "And he is in no position to defend himself at this moment."

Ryder says "So it seems."

Senusia says "Rac did have it, yes. I can affirm that Rac apparently

  tried to send Ryder's body, as I found it, into the Abyss." She

  frowns. "I thought him confused; the Pit is the proper burial place."

Cecilia says "Then it would seem we are at an impasse."

Ryder says "Are we? That depends on what we are trying to accomplish."

Ryder says "If we seek justice, then we are done; the culprit is dead.

  If we seek someone to punish, then I suppose we have a problem."

Tkaldinask says "The story I have heard was that Rac killed Ryder by

  withdrawing his care. Apart from Ryder's subsequent recovery, is this


Senusia adds, "I suppose stripping him of titles is out of the question."

Ryder shrugs. "I am hardly the person to try and explain the nature of

  Rac's works."

Cecilia looks at Senusia. "Your brother claims he has none we can strip."

Ashnah says "Who can explain the will of god?"

Senusia spreads her hands and shrugs.

Cecilia smiles at Ryder. "Odd. I was beginning to get the impression

  that everyone in Amblerash had an explanation for Rac's works."

Cecilia says "I find I am happy to be mistaken."

Ryder says "Since he's not doing any more works, I don't quite see the

  value of working on that shortcoming."

Ryder takes a drink of his absinthe.

Cecilia says "So. It is your feeling that the matter is at an end. Does

  the Ministry of Justice concur?"

Tkaldinask rumbles "The Ministry of Justice has returned a verdict.

  As this is a case of treason I do not believe anything else is in our

  hands; punishment is traditionally assigned by the Crown when nobles

  are involved in a case of treason."

Cecilia frowns thoughtfully.

Cecilia says "Very well. Have any of you other statements to make before

  we make our decision?"

Cecilia looks to the three Amblerashes, in turn.

Ryder shrugs, eloquently.

Senusia says "You have heard me speak at some length already."

Ashnah says "We have heard the words of god, as have you. Our own can

  say no more."

Cecilia steeples her fingers. "Then we have come to our decision."

Cecilia says "Since so much of this case seems to hinge on what Rac

  did or did not believe about himself, that is how he will be judged.

  He clearly felt that he *was* Lord Amblerash when these events occurred,

  and that is how he will be judged. It is our judgement then, that

  House Amblerash pay for the treason their Lord committed, in his absence."

Cecilia says "We therefore stress that while his actions in the eyes of

  the Serpent may be blameless, we cannot know. As a political act,

  however, the crime is clear. And for this crime of treason, we visit

  our punishment upon that political entity. House Amblerash is from this

  day reduced in rank to Petty House."

Senusia nods, after a moment.

Ryder says "Oh, sorry. Was that it?"

Cecilia smiles faintly, "You can expect the paperwork shortly."

Ryder says "What will you demote us to if I don't do paperwork? I ask

  merely out of curiosity."

Cecilia's smile shifts not at all. "There is no paperwork for you to do.

  Unless you mean to throw your copy of the decree in the street, which,

  of course, you are free to do. For which, you will not be punished at

  all, but neither will it abate the punishment writ there."

Ryder shrugs.

Ryder says "Care for a cigarette?"

Senusia clears her throat.

Cecilia doesn't reply to Ryder, her attention sliding to Senusia.

Senusia says "This may not be the best time, but perhaps a change of

  subject is in order."

Cecilia looks levelly at Senusia. "You speak truly, this is not the best

  time. That discussion will wait for a better one."

Senusia nods.

Ryder puts his cigarette case back in his pocket.

Senusia says "In that case, unless you have anything more...?"

Cecilia shakes her head. "We thank you for your time." She looks around

  the circle to include not only the Arch Prelate but the Minister and

  Amblerash family members.

Tkaldinask remains silent.

Ryder looks distant.

Senusia inclines her head a fraction. "Serpent Guard, then."

Cecilia says "And you, Eminence."

Ashnah follows Senusia quietly.


Senusia turns to Ashnah. "Well. An interesting conversation, at least.

  They learn, slowly."

Ashnah says "Does she think we will care?"

Ashnah says "The Serpent's will will not alter, no matter the name

  assigned to the stature of our House."

Ashnah says "Nor will the stature of our House."

Senusia says "Some would care. It is as much for their benefit as anything


Ashnah says "I do not understand."

Ashnah says "But that is as well for me"

Senusia says "You will, in time. But it is alright. Shall we go home?"

Ashnah says "Why not?"