The Lottery
The Lottery
Location: Brentinor, Lyonesse
Date: 1 June 2018
Summary: Constantine and Shiona cast out a false Duke with a lottery
Characters: Constantine, Shiona
NPCs: Duke Dorian of Brentinor

Lyonesse is an ancient land full of old secrets and forgotten lore. There is a lot to learn, for those who are curious enough and diligent enough in the searching. In the Monsalvat highlands a young knight sits on horseback, exploring up and down the hillsides. His armor is black, but to those who have seen the Black Knights of Albion it's of a different style. He wears no helm, either.
Where, exactly, Shiona is coming from, or going to for that matter, is unclear. She is riding, side-saddle upon her horse, looking comfortable enough with the travel, all things considered. She wears her sword across her back, as out of place as ever with her prim choice of clothing, but such is the way of Shiona. The presence of someone upon the road enough is enough to draw her attention towards the black armoured man, watching him warily.
Constantine notices the young woman readily enough, for there are few people on this particular road. Brentinor is under occupation by Queen Igraine's forces, and Monsalvat has always acted as a buffer between Brentinor and Argent Meadows. His gray horse slows with a little touch upon the reins. "Greetings, Lady."
"Good morning, Sir." Shiona nudges her mare, encouraging the beast to stop to be able to speak with the man who appears to be on watch. She looks up at him, considering a moment. "Is there a problem?"
Constantine considers for a moment, then smiles and shakes his head. "Not so much a problem as a paradox. I am searching for something that was lost, guided only by rumors and visions. But I do not think that I will find it today. I am Sir Constantine Greenfield of Brentinor, at your service. And I would offer you escort to Brentinor, as well as such food and drink as we may find there."
"I see." Shiona considers those words, taking her time in doing so, comfortable with silences in conversation. "It is a pleasure, Sir Greenfield. I am Miss Shiona Pryce, most recently of Amber." She gives him another once over, as if evaluating his suitability as an escort. "That would be lovely. Thank you."
Constantine's black armor is of an ancient design, looking well-worn dispite his youthful appearance. He looks her over as well, nudging his horse forward when she accepts the offer. "That's a fine-looking blade you carry, Miss Pryce. I've spent some time in Amber myself, earning my keep at the forge in House Mandrake."
"Thank you." Shiona replies simply enough as she nudges her horse alongside for the pair to travel as they talk. "Your own weapons are nothing to be dismissed, based on a glance. If they are half as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing." She nods at the mention of Mandrake. "I have not smithed for, or with them, but their work is well known. You are a smith then?"
"Thank you as well. I made them myself." Constantine replies. "Although I can't take credit for the armor. It's much older than I am." They ride south together while they talk. "I started out as a smith, and then became a squire. Now I would say that I am a Knight first, and a Smith second. But knowing how to use weapons is an invaluable aid to making them."
"I agree." Shiona nods, watching the road ahead. "Even those smiths who are largely noncombatants have some appreciation for their use, even if their skills are not perfect." She takes a moment, listening to the sound of horse hooves on the path. "Do you still smith?"
"Whenever I can find a forge." Constantine replies. "And what of yourself, Miss Pryce? Which side of the coin are you, one who makes weapons or one who uses them?" The lands of Brentinor aren't far, and already they can see the approach to an outlying village.
"It is easier to find a forge when one is not travelling, it is true. Or looking for unspecified things from visions." Shiona notes with a half smile and a nod. She lets the question stand a moment, as they come nearer to the village. "I am a smith, and an engineer first." She decides upon that. "Who acknowledges that one must know how to use the weapons that she produces. I did not make the weapon on my back, I cannot make that claim. It too, is older than my skill."
"Well-met to a fellow craftsman, then." Constantine offers. The village is a bustle of activity, just short of a full panic. Constantine slows his horse, brows knitting. "This is not normal." he declares, watching and listening with growing interest. More than once, they hear the word 'Lottery' muttered.
"Well met to another craftsman." Shiona repeats and nudges her horse to slow up, watching the chaos unfold. "Either my .. potentially our.. timing is excellent, or abyssmal." She watches people hurry about thoughtfully. "It does not have the feel of good things in the village. Is this your home?"
Constantine shakes his head, dismounting slowly while she speaks. "The word 'home' no longer has simple meaning for me." he replies, somewhat cryptically. "But I grew up in Brentinor." He catches a running boy by the shoulder to stop him. The kid's eyes widen initially at the sight of the black armor, but then Constantine asks him softly. "Tell me, lad. What is going on here?"
The young man stammers. "The Lottery… it's today. The Duke just announced it. All the Elders are meeting in the Hall." He points down the road, and Constantine's grip loosens as the boy squirms to escape.
"Mmm." Shiona quietly agrees on the challenges of that simple notion of 'home', even if she is the one who used the phrase first. She does not dismount, not yet. She watches the boy's reaction, then looks out over the city. "Many places that I have lived and worked, a lottery is for something good. Based on the sense of people running and panic, I am going to put forth that this is not the case here. Are you familiar with it?"
Constantine shakes his head, watching the direction that the boy runs. He points towards the Hall, then. "We'll find our answer in the village Hall, I suspect." he replies. Leading his horse along, he ties it to a hitching post and offers to help Shiona down from her saddle. "Join me if you wish, but I will protect you either way." he offers.
Shiona only nods at the mention of the Hall, and she nudges her horse to walk alongside him. Once there, she dismounts with ease that speaks to the combination of side saddle, corsetry and bastard sword is not an unfamiliar one to her, nor is tying up her horse. "I protect myself, but thank you for the sentiment." It is clear as she brushes dust off her skirts that she plans to join him in the Hall to hear what is happening. And she plans to look suitably prim and neat while she does it.
There is no ceremony as Constantine bursts into the Hall, shifting the large axe from his belt to his hand. Someone is making a speech at the front of the room, which suddenly goes quiet when the black-armored knight strides in. "What is going on here?" he demands, simply.
From the crowd someone jeers. "He's one of them! It's his fault!" They are quickly stilled, as one of the village elders explains. "A Lottery, held by decree of Duke Dorian. Those whose names are drawn are exiled from Brentinor, in order to appease Queen Igraine of Albion."
Shiona slips in behind Constantine, likely almost completely unnoticed by her silence and her smaller stature. Black armour does catch the attention, as do demands for information, and Shiona has neither on offer. She watches the crowd as Constantine takes the lead in the talking, her attention settling on the one providing the jeering assumptions that he is part of the government, in spite of clear lack of information. There is a frown as the lottery is explained, there is little doubt that Shiona fails to follow the logic on this act of monarchy.
"To begin with…" Constantine counters, turning towards the outspoken face in the crowd. "Queen Igraine of Albion did -not- sanction such a Lottery." He's wearing black armor, so he should know. Right? "This sounds like something Duke Dorian made up to suit his OWN interests." A low murmur starts in the crowd, and he addresses the Elder. "Where will this Lottery be held?"
"In the castle courtyard, at sunset today." the Elder replies. "Every village is to send a jar with the names of all citizens inside."
"All of the citizens?" Shiona breaks her silence to ask. "Even the children and the elderly?" She glances to Constantine and then back to the Elders, no less skeptical for the clarification on both parts. She purses her lips, disapproval clear in her body language.
"All of the citizens." the Elder confirms, looking displeased as well. Constantine looks thoughtful for a moment, then he declares. "I will carry the names to the castle, and I will end this farce. How many other villages are there?" A number is given, and he nods. "Send word that each village is to send their jar of names HERE instead of the castle." Constantine pauses, then adds. "Send runners now!"
"Humph." Shiona doesn't add anything onto the reality of a child potentially getting banished rather than a good proper education and a focused upbringing. "May I accompany you on that task?" She asks of Constantine and the smile doesn't quite touch her face. "As protection, of course."
Constantine's blue eyes brighten at the offer from the diminutive, unarmored woman and he adds the smile that she's suppressing. "It would be my honor, of course." The Elder starts to protest, but Constantine cuts him off. "Who does the Lottery benefit? The Duke and the Nobility. It gives THEM the power over YOU. Dorian will have his Lottery as requested. I'm just going to modify the terms."
Shiona settles then, to watch. Questions that she might have can wait for a time with less of an audience of fearful and distraught villagers. She waits with the patience of one who is really very good at waiting, watching to the quieter edges of the crowd, to those Elders who are not brashly confronting Constantine.
Constantine and Shiona both settle in for a meal at the Inn while they wait on the runners. The village is stirred up and it takes some time for the commotion to die down, but for whatever reason the people find the presence of these two outsiders to be stabilizing, if not entirely comforting.
At last one of the Elders returns. "The jars with the names have arrived here, as you requested." Constantine rises, then. "Good. I will need quills and ink." Turning to Shiona, then, he asks. "How is your hand with letters, milady? We are going to rewrite the ballots." Before the Elder can protest, Constantine shoots him a -look-. And yes, one hand is resting on the pommel of his sword.
As they settle for a meal, Shiona has a few questions. "Who is, if I may be so bold, Duke Dorian?" A fundamental question that comes to the crux of the details of what might be going on. As later, when plates have been cleared aside, and hopefully a good strong cup of tea is on offer, Shiona nods at the question about her ability with a pen. "Distinctive, but I am adept with my letters. If you seek to mimic those who wrote before, I will be not much help."
Constantine shrugs at the question. "Some upstart local noble, most likely. When the Black Knights overran this land, they left in their wake an absence of local leadership. Apparently Dorian took it upon himself to create both title and authority. This 'lottery' is how he keeps control."

The two make their way towards the collection of jars, then. "The quality of your letters doesn't matter so much. We are going to replace each and every ballot with ones that read 'Duke Dorian'. He will be banished by lottery or upon the point of my sword." With a nod to the presiding Elders, the jars are opened. "I want anyone who is proficient in letters." he declares. "We have much work to do."
"Ah, so not a specific nemesis." Shiona moves to collect a jar, opening it to absently rifle through the names contained within. None have meaning to her, but the repetition that exists or does not speaks volumes about the relationships in the various villages. "A few who might cut ballots as well. The writing is only half the task, to have the ballots on hand makes it go faster."
Constantine nods in agreement, and with only a LITTLE bit of prodding he gets a system established to replace the ballots. The villagers are reluctant at first, but the young ones seem the most eager. And the others join in. Perhaps this young knight is onto something, after all? It's going to take some time, and the sun is already past noon.
While Constantine might have the grand master plan in mind, Shiona proves to be an excellent second to this endeavour. There's a system. It is neat, it is efficient and it works. Old ballots there. New ballots here. Each to their appropriate jar, and exactly one to one correlation with few, if any mistakes. Fresh quills are waiting, nibs freshly cut, ink at the ready for dry inkwells. Shiona was not joking about having a distinctive hand. Her handwriting is precise, efficient, and neat to the point of appearing almost mechanical in its precision.
The sheets are completed and the jars are soon filled, all with the very-stacked lottery ballots. Loaded onto a wagon, Constantine mounts up to ride along. "I will provide safe escort." he declares, to anyone who considers disputing his role in all of this.
No one does. And the journey to the Duke's castle is likewise uneventful. The wagon delivers the ballots, and Constantine dismounts to fade into the crowd. At least as much as an armored knight can be inconspicuous. The Duke steps out onto a stage and the ballots are all brought forth, then dumped into a bin.
While they probably should, no one disputes Shiona's accomplaniment to this endeavour. She really does blend in with the crowd, in spite of her sword and odd clothes, she is quiet and unassuming. And female. All three of these ensure that even those who note the giant sword on her back, simply ignore the average looking woman who carries it. She watches with curiosity, craning to get a good look at this Duke Dorian.
The speech is one that the people have heard before, of course. The necessity to appease Queen Igraine, how reluctant the Duke is to hold the lottery, and all that. And all the while, Constantine moves slowly closer to the stage. Trusting Shiona to have his back.
At last, the time for drawing the ballot is at hand. He reaches into the bin, swirling his hand around before drawing out a ballot. Opening it, his eyes widen and his face slowly turns crimson. That's when Constantine calls out in a loud voice. "Read the name!"
Shiona has his back. She's quietly ended up on the other side of the stage, able to best see Constantine, and to flank the good Duke. 'Good' Duke. She watches, with quiet patience, the crimson colour that has hit his face, and while there's no hand upon her sword, she's prepared.
RPG: Constantine challenges a difficulty of 10. Constantine chooses Force and the gifts SKL-AR and STY-KN. Constantine succeeds.
The Duke has guards around the stage, of course, not that Constantine seems to mind. He shield-bashes one and strikes another with the pommel of his sword as he draws, stepping rather quickly up to the Duke with his naked blade pointed. "The name…" he declares, snatching the ballot from the Duke's hand and then raising his voice. "… The NAME, is Duke Dorian!" The crowd roars with approval.
The start of active combat is Shiona's cue and she draws the giant glowing sword out of the scabbard at her back. This generally means that everyone, and their grandmothers, looks at her, and she proves that she is not entirely ineffective at weilding it as she handily knocks one guard flying, and another is disinclined to rush the stage with the point of her sword looking at him quite like that. She doesn't take the stage herself, keeping others who might rush it at bay, to let Constantine have his moment.
The Duke starts to splutter again, but the presence of a Black Knight as well as a drawn blade makes him reconsider. Constantine takes over. "We will follow the -form- of this so-called 'lottery' one last time. I, Sir Constantine of Brentinor, banish the Duke Dorian from Brentinor for the remainder of his days under pain of death. I furthermore declare that this lottery will no longer be observed, in this or in ANY form." And with that, he looks to the former-Duke for any rebuttal.
The guards show none, and neither does the ex-Duke. As for the rest of the crowd, there's a wide circle clearing around the young woman with the bright, glowing blade. No, it's safe to say that no one is terribly interested in disputing the outcome of this year's lottery, to put it mildly.

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