Cerra Manor: The Terrace
Ryven strolled onto the terrace, having just landed his shuttle on the small landing pad a moment before. He wore simple khaki work pants, black boots, a black shirt, and a black jacket. A lit cigarette hung from the corner of his mouth. He made his way over to the bar. Behind him, Tara, the Searie successor, a girl of ten years of age, flanked by a pair of Cerra guards made her way onto the Terrace. She helped herself into a chair and ordered the servants around with a tone that made it apparent she expected them to tend to her every demand.
Ryven took a drag of his cigarette, exhaling out of the corner of his mouth in a narrow stream. He watched the arrival of the little girl and her retinue, immediately forming a negative opinion of the little girl. He poured himself a drink, amused by the spectacle.
Tara glanced over at Ryven, then tucked a napkin into her collar, preparing to enjoy her meal.
Ryven couldn't help but laugh at the sight of the child, so proper, considering the sort of debauchery that often occured here, or at least, occurred in the past. He then felt a small pang of guilt, considering he had killed a man only a few feet from where she sat.
Literia, a young Brutor woman of impressive height and build, walked onto the Terrace wearing a long black duster. Her hair hung free down her back to her waist. She frowned when she saw Tara and continued on to the bar. Ryven raised his hand in greeting, but otherwise maintained his silence and sipped his drink.
Tara dabbed her mouth with her napkin and gave Literia a quick look before turning her face up slightly and away, "I trust you've taught your daughter some manners?" She spouted, without any hint of apology.
Ryven grinned slightly in anticipation of what might be some quality entertainment. There was clearly some history between these two. Some sort of quarrel, perhaps.
Literia furrowed her brow. "Oh she knows them, I trust you have learnt some yourself. She is only polite to those that deserve it." She nodded then to the bartender and asked for a pot of tea.
Tara was nonplussed and simply replied, matter of factly, "Well, I deserve every bit. I am a Holder after all."
Literia stared at her flatly "And I care why?"
Ryven sipped at his drink, a Dark Amarrian, and considered the virtues of beating children. Holder or not, this was not the sort of place where you should run your mouth or rely on fancy titles. This was Huola, the sort of place that had spent considerable time at war. War tended to make titles useful only so far as they come with a ransom.
Tara further cemented Ryven's opinion of her when she responded with "Because I rule over people who look like you." Ryven felt his blood rise. Sure, he had fought for the Empire, had even converted. But, he was still an abolitionist, at least to the extent that slaves were treated as expendable. From a doctrinal point of view, slavery for the purpose of instruction and religious education was fine. Having slaves for the purpose of having slaves was another matter.
Literia had a ready reply. "I dont give respect freely, it has to be earned." She paused momentarily. "And you little creature have not earned it."
"I'll remember that when I beat my first slave." Tara said, then added, matter-of-factly, "I'm allowed to own them, you know. I'm a Holder."
Literia showed no flicker of emotion. Her face deadpan, she shrugged and accepted her tea. Not content to end there, Tara taunted Literia further. "I'm sure I could own your daughter at some point as well. She'd make an excellent slave," She paused. "once I beat some manners into her."
Literia sipped her tea, not willing to rise to a child essentially throwing a temper tantrum.
Tara, still not getting the hoped for response, chuckled, "I think I'll have her work in the kennels."
Ryven had sat quietly, but his anger had continued to build slowly as Tara spoke. He finally decided to break his silence and spoke in a stern tone. "You know, I think you should probably mind your tongue, child."
Literia looked over at Ryven "She is trying to start a confrontation with me and it will not work."
Tara's brow quirked and examining Ryven, she asked, her tone a mix of curiosity and condescension, "And you are?"
Ryven replied to Literia first. "She should remember she's not in her house." Then, staring back at Tara, he answered. "I'm Ryven Krennel. I fought for your Empire for years. I married a Sebiestor who also fought for the Empire for years. I also lived here, in this very house."
"Good for you both," She nodded firmly, "Some can be uplifted. But those like my father's slaves and this woman's daughter, for example, are beyond hope." She added, piously, "Sometimes it takes the cane and the whip to create a semblance of what it means to live as one of God's creations."
Ryven frowned. "And you're qualified to decide that are you?"
Tara replied with conviction. "I am a Holder."
Ryven laughed at the temerity of the child. "Oh? You administer the estate, do you?"
Literia just quietly sipped on her tea as Tara replied. "Not this one. My own in the north of here. An entire Holding, actually."
Ryven nodded, wondering how much control she really exercised. "So, you feel that simply owning a holding makes you somehow capable of passing such judgment?"
"God chose me to rule over others."
Ryven grinned at the simplistic answer. "Ah, so, you believe there have never been bad holders?"
"All Holders are chosen by God."
Ryven again nodded, but pressed on. "That's not what I asked. I accept that all holders are chosen by God. But, are all holders good? Are they all equally capable?" Perhaps he could make her think.
Tara responded quickly. "Of course not. Not all Holders are equal. It is why I am better than Rebecca Sakakibara."
Ryven laughed and Literia scoffed at her remark. Ryven continued. "So, we agree that some Holders are not so good. So, I shouldn't trust your judgment simply due to your status. So, let's get back to your qualifications to pass judgment here."
Tara's reply was as expected. "But even the worst Holder is better than a commoner."
Kat had walked onto the terrace in time to hear Tara's comment. Ryven frowned and his voice took on a note of disappointment. "I see. And, so, speaking to me right now, a Caldari, I assume you consider yourself my superior?"
Tara nodded. "Quite."
"She considers herself superior to everyone." Literia said, still enjoying her tea.
Ryven smiled a cold smile, devoid of mirth. "Tell me, little tyrant, who was it who created capsuleer technology?"
Kat looked Literia over, "Heya. How are you?"
Literia smiled at Kat "Oh, I am alright, How are you?"
Kat replied, "I'm okay, although I'd be better if a certain little monster wasn't." She was clearly referring to Tara.
Tara shrugged in response to Ryven's question. "Unimportant. Capsuleers are soulless husks."
Literia emote nodde her head in response to Kat's sentiment. "Oh defintely, I couldnt agree with you more."
Ryven chuckled. "It was the Jove. The same ones who annihilated the Amarrian fleet effortlessly. Strange, too, that they gave capsuleer tech to the Caldari rather than the Amarr. Why is that do you suppose?" Perhaps she could begin to understand that being chosen or not chosen by God was only the beginning. That simply being born was not enough.
Kat and Literia continued to chat by the bar. Tara's response was not what Ryven had hoped. "So? God gave the Empire the Templar. It matters not. The Empire survived the Jove. It will continue to thrive."
Ryven shrugged. "And yet, God gave the same tech to the other empires. Perhaps we don't know God's will so well, hmm?"
"And God gave all of the Empires capsuleer technology as well. Perhaps you're simply blinded by your own arrogance."
Ryven grinned the toothy grin of a shark, cold and vicious. "Perhaps you should remember that if I so chose, I could kill you here, where you sit, and give absolutely zero fucks about it. Nor would anyone likely do a damn thing if I did."
To her credit, Tara held his stare, unfazed, and spoke just as coldly. "Then you would make me a martyr and I would go to Heaven."
Ryven shrugged again. "Not every zealot who dies is a martyr, little one. Some folks are just dead."
"Not everyone is one of God's chosen. I am."
"So said every one of those useless assholes who are now dead and forgotten." Ryven quipped. Something about this little girl truly and deeply engaged his sense of righteous fury.
Kat heard their argument finally, and came over, "So, the little psychopath is still alive, I see."
Literia looked to Kat with a sigh. "Yes, she wants to own my daughter and beat her senseless."
Tara replied to Ryven first. "I think you fear death more than I do," then she turned away from Ryven and looked at Katerina, "Hello, commoner."
Kat, never one to take shit from anyone, narrowed her eyes and spoke, her voice icy, to Literia. "Something tells me your daughter would be the one doing the beating, as long as we make sure the little psychopath doesn't get any knives."
Ryven laughed. "Fucking kids these days." He wasn't really laughing though. You know what will happen if she doesn't learn. The voice. Justice.
Literia smirked "My daughter has been trained in hand to hand combat since she was 7."
Tara waved a steak knife tauntingly at Katerina, continuing with her meal. She waved it around when the guards weren't looking, then would stop whenever they looked her way.
After a few times, Kat stepped in quickly, grabbed the knife from Tara, then stepped back just as quickly. She started waving the knife tauntingly at Tara.
"How immature." Tara said primly.
Kat laughed. "Says the one who stabs people because they don't bow."
Ryven watched with interest, pleased to see he wasn't the only one who found this child irksome. Justice started up again. You know. You know what she will become. Ryven shuddered, unnoticed by the others. You know what I require.
Tara continued, unswayed by Kat's retort. "Everyone else is meant to bow before Holders."
Kat shrugged. "Good thing you'll never be a holder, then."
"I am a Holder." Tara responded sharply.
Kat laughed. "Oh, I see. They haven't told you."
Tara's eyes flashed. "Told me what?"
Kat waved her off. "Don't worry your young mind about it, you'll learn when you're supposed to."
Tara's voice was filled with contempt. "I'll remember to take Khanid slaves when I'm old enough."
Kat replied. "Go ahead, I'm sure you'll find enough slavers in Sansha's Nation and the Blood Raiders willing to sell to you."
Literia rolled her eyes. Then, she added. "Actually I know an Angel, that would take her."
While all of this had been going on, Ryven continued to struggle. You know what I require. Why do you hesitate? Ryven's hesitation was really fairly simple. She was a child after all. Besides, would anyone understand? She has to learn. She has to learn, or she'll die a meaningless death when she encounters someone with fewer moral qualms than you. Does that help? Does that make it better? Ryven wasn't sure. I mean, yes, all of that was true. He had killed a man a few feet from where Tara now sat, and for nothing more than spouting his racism about Ryven's wife, Leela. This girl had done worse. Justice. Justice requires it. She's suffered, but she needs to know. She needs to learn. Trust me. Ryven finally surrendered and lit a new cigarette.
He walked slowly, nonchalantly, over to within a few feet of Tara. Kat swiped the cigarette from Ryven's mouth, and took a drag before returning it.
Literia grinned a little wickedly "I know a few Sani Sabik that would take her too."
Ryven spoke softly. "You know, I've finally figured out what bothers me about you, little one." Not enough scars. Scars are an outward sign of the lessons someone taught us.
Tara glared at Literia, "You wouldn't dare."
Kat shook her head, "Nah, too annoying."
Literia stepped down off her seat and walked slowly over to Tara. "Try my patience again, and you will see what I am capable of. You step foot near my daughter again and you will regret it."
Tara scoffed. "I'm a Holder."
Ryven shrugged. "Why wait?" With no warning, he grabbed Tara's wrist and jabbed the lit cigarette onto the back of her hand, hearing the hiss as it burned the flesh.
Tara screamed in pain, "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH."
The guards rushed over to Ryven, placing a hand gently on his arm, "Sir, if you would please let her go." Ryven thought these were unusually polite guards. Perhaps they had been around the last few times he'd engaged in violence on the terrace. That might explain their demeanor. He looked over and saw that Kat was offering him a bottle wordlessly. While bottle-based murder was certainly one of his many skills, he didn't feel such a thing was warranted in this case. Instead, he would give the guards a chance.
Ryven tensed his arm and spoke to the guards in a voice that made it very clear he meant every word. "If you value your life, I'd reconsider that."
The guards backed away slowly.
Ryven resumed. "You're about to learn an important lesson." His voice was calm and he spoke softly, meaning every word. "All the titles in the world mean exactly jack shit if people don't respect you." He didn't wait to see if his words had any effect. "Pain is the best teacher, and this is going to hurt."
He turned his head to speak to Kat. "Knife please?"
Tara started to cry as the memory of watching her brothers and sisters get murdered in front of her while she watched helplessly started playing in her mind. Ryven steeled himself to do what Justice required of him. New Eden was a dangerous, cold, and heartless place. A little bloodshed could make all the difference.
Kat calmly handed him the knife by the hilt before pulling out a chair and sitting down, kicking her feet up.
Literia tried then to intercede. "She is a child after all, dont hurt her please."
Ryven nodded appreciatively to Kat. He continued to speak to Tara. "Now, Tara, you take joy in owning people. So, I want you to remember that, as of now.." He quickly used the steak knife to cut off Tara's ring finger. It came off easily and blood gushed out of the ragged wound. "...I own a piece of you." He took the severed finger and pocketed it, letting go of her wrist.
Tara screamed a bloodcurdling scream that echoed out across the water and off the buildings of the manor.
Ryven stood straight and turned to the guards. "See to it she's taken care of."
The guards tended to Tara, who was cradling her hand, wailing horribly.
Kat looked up at Ryven from her seat. "I didn't think you still had that in you."
"I'll kill you all!" Tara screamed as the guards carried her to the infirmary.
Ryven sighed. "I did what Justice required." He walked back to the bar and poured himself a drink, something fruity.
Kat kicked out a chair, hoping he'd get the hint, "Justice, huh?"
He simply nodded. "Justice." He then sat down in the offered chair. "How long do you figure before someone decides to arrest me?"
"I'd be more worried about assassins from the little twerp, honestly." Kat replied.
Ryven chuckled with more mirth than he actually felt. What the hell did I just do? "Oh, I imagine she'll be wanting her finger back at some point, so she may be a little hesitant, not knowing where I'll be putting it." You did what I required of you.
Kat laughed genuinely. "Oh, you're horrible."
Ryven shrugged. "I meant what I said. She had to learn. She definitely learned something just now."
Kat rolled her eyes. "Probably just that she'll have to wear her signet ring on the other hand. Her kind never learns."
Literia spoke then. "What lesson did she learn? She is still a child, albeit a monstrous child that is pyschologically scarred."
Ryven frowned and decided to defend himself. "Oh. I see. So, you would prefer she go on thinking she's inviolable?"
Literia furrowed her brow. "The child needs professional help, not cutting off her finger."
Ryven, angry, shouted his response. "I WAS PROFESSIONAL!"
"Calmly, Ry." Kat said, quietly.
Literia shrugged her shoulders and shook her head disapprovingly. She puts her tea cup down, and walked off the terrace.
Ryven shook his head. "She's now marred. Every other Amarr she meets will see it, and they will know."
Kat nodded. "I hope you're right. But you know how Amarrians get."
Ryven laughed genuinely. "That I do." He sipped his drink and decided to change the subject. "So, how've you been?"
"Well enough. Kid's asleep, thank God. You?"
Ryven shrugged. "I keep busy. Moved to null-sec. Still getting things settled."
Kat raised her eyebrows. "You? Nullsec?"
"Things change. It's where most of my comrades ended up, after all."
Kat replied. "Ahh...Triumvirate huh?"
Ryven nodded. "Seemed as good a place as any."
Kat chuckled. "If you say so."
Kat shook her head. "No, if I have to be honest. But you know how us Legionnaires are." she tossed Ry a saucy wink.
Ryven shrugged. "A dime a dozen, only found in dozens, and otherwise easily eliminated?"
Kat laughed at the joke. "Fighting words there, Ryven Krennel!"
Ryven smiled. "I think we've had enough blood for one night, don't you?"
"That, and you couldn't hurt me."
At that moment Thal Vadam arrived via shuttle, dressed in black robes, but neither Kat nor Ryven noticed.
Ryven grinned. "I think you mean wouldn't."
"I'm pretty sure I mean couldn't."
Lunarisse Aspenstar returned from the shuttle, visibly tired, and made her way directly to the Guest House, while paging through a book.
Ryven shrugged. "You've acquired delusions of grandeur in my absence."
Kat nodded smugly, "Requirement for owning an Aeon in PL."
Reginald Sakakibara rushed onto the Terrace, walking immediately up to Ryven, "You cut off her ring finger?"
Sahriah BloodStone stepped off her own shuttle, having changed back into her usual mercenary uniform en route back to the manor. She walked up the path towards the terrace, clearly unhappy. She stopped right beside Regi, her arms crossed. She stared at Ryven with a frown.
Ryven frowned. "Hi, Regi, nice to see you too." He nodded to Sahriah, who he had met only recently, though he remembered liking her well enough. "Sahriah."
She clearly looked displeased. "Ryven."
Regi raised his voice, "She is ten years old!"
Kat shrugged and answered for Ryven. "And this way she might learn how to make it to eleven."
Ryven sighed. "Honestly, it was in her best interest."
Regi turned to Sahriah, "She's in the medical bay. I'm going to pay her a visit." He glanced back to Kat and Ryven, "And prevent a war."
Sahriah nodded at Reginald, having expected him to react more harshly than that. "Fine." She remained still, looking back at Ryven. "What prompted you to decide that mutilating a 10 year old was an acceptable action?"
Ryven frowned. "Have you met this 10 year old?"
Sahriah's face darkened and she took a few steps towards Ryven. "I have. Infact, when I first met the child she was chained barely alive in a bedroom next to the bodies of her decapitated parents."
Ryven shrugged and responded sarcastically. "Aww, she had a rough childhood. Gee, why haven't I thought of using that as an excuse to be a jackass?"
Regi returned from the med bay, "She's sedated, but recovering. I'd imagine they can grow her a new finger." He walked back over to the group, looking at Kat, "And you just watched?"
Kat shrugged at Regi, "If there'd've been room I would've helped."
Ryven continued. "I grew up an orphan too, and yeah, it sucks. But, running around pissing on everyone telling them how fancy you are is stupid and a great way to get yourself dead."
Regi shook his head, "I hope you don't let our son's finger get cut off just for being a child."
Sahriah glared at Ryven and then Kat. "Funny, you didn't seem to react the same way when Reginald slaughtered children in the past. I suppose violence on children is just ok when it's convienent for you."
Kat eyed Regi and Sahriah cooly, "I didn't see either of you react when she stabbed Literia trying to murder Amitel for nothing more than refusing to bow and scrape before her."
Sahriah looked back at Ryven. "I don't disagree that she has issues that need sorting out. I just think the way you went about it was incorrect." Then to Kat: "I suppose grabbing her and taking her away from the rest of the children wasn't reacting then?"
Kat responded sarcastically. "Oh yes, let's give the vicious little murderess a time out. That's sure to help."
Ryven shrugged. "Pain is an excellent teacher. Disagree with my methods if you want. Telling me I'm basically subhuman after all I've done for the Empire, well, honestly she's lucky it was just a finger."
Sahriah waved a hand at them both dismissively. "Reginald's incompetence with dealing with her properly isn't an excuse to mutilate her, but I guess i'm wasting my words on people who cannot figure out another way to deal with a child." she walked past them off towards the gardens
Ryven sighed to himself. "I did what Justice required."
Kat shrugged. "Can't expect everyone to understand, can you?"
Ryven shook his head. "Honestly, I'm not always sure I do."
Regi sighed heavily, "And Lady Lianne won't like this." He then looked at Kat. "But how is our son?"
Kat chuckled. "Last time, Ryven had rammed a bottle through a corpmate's throat. I'm sure Shalee will probably be fairly relieved nobody died." She looked up at Regi, "Asleep, thank God. But he's well." She replied to the question about their son.
"Thank God?" Regi looked at her curiously.
Ryven felt he needed to correct Kat. "Last time, I got shot because I was wearing a people coat. The time before that it was killing a corpmate."
Kat continued. "He still likes to wake up at all hours demanding food." Then, in response to Ryven's correction. "Right, I'd forgotten that we shot you over the people coat."
Regi shuddered at Kat's nonchalant reaction, but smiled regardless, "When will I get to see him?"
Regi repeated, quietly, nodding, "Soon." Then he quipped. "Soon seems to last quite a long time."
Kat nodded calmly, "At least it's not forever."
Regi sighed, "Yes, thank God for that."
Ryven lit a new cigarette, the old one having long since expired.
"May I speak with you privately?" Regi asked Kat.
She nodded, stood, and followed Regi. She scrunched her nose a bit at Ryven's cigarette smoke. They both walked off the terrace down toward the shore.
Ryven sat and enjoyed his cigarette, the terrace now desolate except for him. "Alone at last." He spoke to no one. He sat there for a while, pondering what would come of the night's events. Then, finally, he stood and walked off the terrace to his shuttle at the landing pad.