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Hayden sat in his office almost idly that for once in the past few months he actually had some time to himself. It was refreshing to the highest degree. But with the time to actually sit in his office came the time to muse, to take part in some type of recreation or relaxation. It was clear that he needed someone to pass the time with, someone he could honestly muse his thoughts with.
He had initially though to Atlas, the prominent child of Vastime, but had decided against it. That man was so rigid in his beliefs or at the very least willing to default to Hayden that in a setting like this it would not go well. But he had the idea of a certain red hair’d woman- one who had been acting in Vastime interest for quite some time. One which allowed him to take to the shadows to fully perform his duties as the king. It was her he would call, Abalia- the lawful servant of Vastime.
Thus she was called to his office, an informal summons performed by a simple phone call to her. It was clear in his voice and the tone of it that the king wasn't acting in his duty as king when calling her- but as someone in need of counsel. He trusted her, and while she was on the radical scale when it came to the law her intentions was good- he had seen her true colors in the desert of Vastime. Once she arrived, he’d be sitting on his desk slightly elbow within hand as his other hand gripped his chin. A thoughtful look on his face as he stared out the window into the setting sun.
“I require counsel; can you provide it?”
A tremendous task to be asked of her, but one he believed she would accept.
When Abalia received a call from her king, she tended to assume that meant duty was to be performed in short order. In fact, no sooner had she seen that it was Hayden than she was already preparing to go wherever she was needed. When she answered, however, and heard the tone of his voice, she realized that this was not something quite so serious. That said, any summons from the king was to be taken with at least some level of seriousness.
To arrive and see Hayden in such a relatively relaxed mood was...striking, to say the least. Not in the sense most might have used the word, but more that she simply had never seen him in such a state. It was something akin to noticing a minor detail on an everyday walk for the first time. Not something mind-blowingly new, far from it in fact, but something interesting simply for having never been noticed before.
“Counsel, sir? With all due respect, I should think that there are others who would be more suited to such things.”
Nevertheless, Abalia took a seat opposite her king as she answered, her hands crossed delicately in her lap as she looked seriously, yet not dauntingly, toward Hayden. Her attention was clearly on him, even as her mind raced with all manner of other things at once.
“But, if you wish it, then I will surely provide.”
The moment the woman walked in, his chocolate eyes would lift up to see them. In that moment the room seemed to brighten for a bit, a tired yet appreciative smile falling onto his lips. It was hard not to smile when she came, to hear that she was willing to be his counsel in this dark moment. Albeit perhaps that was a bit of an stretch.
"I do, wish it."
He'd sigh dropping his hand from his chin, letting it fold onto his arms. He had so many thoughts running through his head, so many ideas that he needed to bounce off someone. Someone he knew was also that beacon of Vastimian ideals to achieve something great. It felt like there was something calling deep from within his being, and he was failing to achieve it. Failing to acknowledge it. The man would find himself sliding off the desk motioning for her to take a seat on a couch horizontal pressed against his wall- which held a plethora of books and tombs.
He'd begin pull up one of the office chairs which guests sat in, before he himself sat on it. The back facing forward as his arms rested on the backrest. He'd lean forward on it as he stared at her if she so chose to sit or stand, only a few feet away. Those vibrant mocha eyes seemed to be buzzing with a soft intensity, placated but something unknown to him or her.
"I am.. troubled, Abalia."
A soft sigh escaped his lips, his eyes closing briefly as his jaw tightened. He'd take a sharp breath before opening them once more to speak.
"I find myself wondering if we... if I am doing enough for our people." He'd start softly, as if speaking of a taboo- a failing of himself. It was in that moment she saw the actual man behind the power, nothing but a mere mortal. "I ask myself 'have I done enough', have I truly helped those that need it most.. the people our society failed. The people we cast aside trying to forget- our criminals." He'd express earnest, his hand clenching behind the chair tightly.
"I stay awake, Abalia, wondering what we can do to help those who have fallen wayside. Surely... they deserve the chance to prove themselves; to show earnest remorse for their crimes."
He'd stare at her eyes, as if trying to cipher out her own thoughts.
Studying her king as he spoke, Abalia listened to his every word carefully, so as to best give her advice on whatever matter he might have spoken on. What she heard, then, was something that pleasantly surprised her, for it was far from an alien topic in her mind. She waited for Hayden to finish, of course, but after a moment or two to ensure that he had finished speaking, the adjutant replied with confidence.
“I have considered this quite frequently, sir. I understand how you feel, and before I continue I must always give my full opinion. Such a system should not be simply for all criminals. Those who wish it should certainly be given access, but do not make it mandatory. It would only be a waste of time to give that freedom to those unwilling to truly commit to it.”
Letting that bit sink in, Abalia crossed one leg over the other, getting as comfortable as she ever tended to, before continuing on.
“With that said, sir, Vastime is on the precipice of war, alongside the rest of the world. I believe you know that as well as I, and I suspect there is little that we would need in the event of such conflict more than people who are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of maintaining Vastime's future.”
Abalia felt thoroughly confident that Hayden knew what she was about to say, but nevertheless, he had asked for her counsel, and she did not take half measures. A full explanation was the only proper course.
“I propose a penal legion like those of old, sir. That those condemned to mere sequestration within prison be given the opportunity to instead serve in the name of their nation, and to demonstrate their dedication to reform on the battlefield. They will, of course, be held to a standard higher than even our standard troops, but I would not dare suggest we send them to some lesser force. They will be watched, any hint of insubordination an assurance that they will simply return to their life of incarceration. But those who truly dedicate themselves will be more than mere reformed criminals. They will be agents of your will, and of the will of Vastime.”
That more or less summed things up, at least from Abalia's point of view. If it had not already been obvious, she suspected Hayden could surmise she had already considered this. Truth be told, she had planned to submit this idea of her own accord when she had a bit of time to herself, but doing so in this capacity was perfectly alright with her.
To call it a modest proposal would be an understatement, rather it was the next perceived step of their incarceration system. It had its merits as was clear by the almost smile on the vastimian leader face. His bristle facial hair grating against his hand as it rubbed along his face. It was at this time the man would stand up walking towards Abalia, hazel eyes having an inquisitive look to them.
“A modest proposal.”
The man remarked only a slight jest to his voice, not at the idea but rather the fact she had already broached this topic in her own thoughts it seemed. Hayden wasn’t the one to allow such trivial things to escape his oversight, it would be noted.
“The idea has it merits, I almost hesitate to question if it’s the militaristic side of me which supports it or the civilian side more. But... under the right condition- with a leader who understands vastimisn ideals. It could be a force which vastime desperately deserves with coming events.”
His tone was approving, as if the gears of how to make such a unit work was becoming more and more appealing by the second. It was only just that the one who proposed the idea be let in on some of its finer aspects in the future.
“The Penal Legion, serve x number of years and gain x benefits. Of course leadership and furthermore management which falls under someone overview.” His voice faded for a bit as his gaze fell down before shooting back up with light speed the man now brimming with excitement. His hand shooting out taking the lawful servant hand within both of his.
This was the man she had first met, not the calm and collected one so methodical in his views and words. This was a glimpse to the man who she saw in that savannah, the man she had first met which took her under the great wing of vastime.
“Imagine it, men and women being led by a singular organized mission to enact the will of vastime led by one person who embodies those values. No other person better than you; provided your don’t mind another task.”
He would gaze down at the woman sitting in the chair before releasing her hand, for such a passionate man it was so god damn straining to put up this front of detachment. He was the king, but more than that he felt human. A dead guy feeling human. It was almost ironic.
“Abalia do me a favor if only for today while I confide with you. Call me Desmond. I am tired of..” He’d step back crossing his arms, leaning on the desk almost defensively. “Just call me Desmond, if it is not too much today.”
Abalia, for the most part, simply sat and listened to her king as he spoke. His passion was something she admired, and it was nice to see it rear its head again for the first time in quite a while. After all, such behavior was what had first drawn her to serve him and Vastime, and in that sense there was something almost nostalgic about it.
“I would gladly take on such a responsibility, sir. Such a thing is more than simple necessity for Vastime, it is what I would call a moral requisite. Current incarceration systems are all well and good, but how are we to provide more suitable methods of returning to society, and contributing in a meaningful way, without creating such a path for them? Labor may surely be acceptable as well, but this is of course penal in nature, and, frankly, this is far more necessary with the current world climate.”
She spoke calmly, perhaps even plainly, but she frankly had very little to say. After all, she was here to give counsel, but to do so meant to listen to her king first and foremost. She would give her earnest feedback, and do so when she saw fit, but...there was very little for her to say. She was content to listen to him for now, allowing him to simply speak as he saw fit. Though, that last request...
"There will be details to work out, but none of which are immediately pressing."
The man would push off the desk walking to his cabinet opening it to reveal a small bottle of some type of brown alcohol. It was almost a given for public officials to have some within their office, with the long nights and even longer meetings sometimes it helped to take the edge off. It was a relatively rare brand and make, the perks of being alive for so long and connected he always managed to indulge himself when he truly wanted. Removing two glasses as well he'd stride back over to his desk, looking over his shoulder briefly.
"Can I offer a drink?"
Regardless of what she said he'd pour himself a small glass, and herself one if she affirmed she wanted one, before placing the bottle down taking a small sip. The warmness of the liquid wasn't lost on his dulled senses, taking a soft breath before a smile came onto his lips. It was pleasant, he felt the gears which was his soul grinding and roaring to life- that flame returning in force. He'd swish the brown liquid around before looking at Abalia once more.
"We're so damn close, Abalia. The hounds of war are being called, the people are hopeful, we have men and women not only ready to die for Vastime- but live for it." His voice raised softly, his eyes closing as the warm smile on his lips seemed to expand. This was a man who despite all his flaws, despite all his short comings, despite everything against him, had still managed to do something worth remembering.
"What's your take on all this Abalia? On this empire we've built on the bones of a broken continent? I could rage and rage about the injustices we've faced but I find myself invigor'd by the simple idea that this- this is real."
The man voice would strain when he spoke 'this' pointing downward at the floor, an indication of the world they built. That was right, the world THEY built. He wasnt the only one giving up everything to see this through- the passion and vigor in his voice- the relaxed smile which was almost a beam now. He was happy, he may be worried over his people and the world but..
He was happy. This made him happy.
"I was entertaining the idea of retiring after the war."
The man would lift the drip to his lips, his hazel irises glowing briefly as a thin smile was on his lips. The cool motion of him downing a small sip of his tonic. He'd slowly place it down next to him, the brown liquid swishing softly in the glass as he did so.
"But I've come to accept something, we all have our roles. I think, mines will not be finished at the end of this war. I believed, there is much to be done still afterwards. Do you concur or do you think a retirement after the war would be more beneficial for the people?"
Abalia left it unspoken that she never drank, the implications of her statement left in the open, and she simply waited politely for her king to ready his own drink. It struck her as odd that he would imbibe such a thing while working, but perhaps he did need that brief respite. It was impossible for her to say.
"I consider Vastime a truly beautiful thing. It is the closest that has ever come to the ideals that I hold, but naturally I do not hold the nation to my own personal beliefs. I consider us to have been profoundly successful, but there is of course always more work to be done.
"Until both Shadow Fall and the Kokuryuteshi are well and truly removed from the world, we cannot say that our goal has been achieved. They will always work against our dream, whether actively or simply by their very nature. If you would wish to retire after the war is over, that is certainly your prerogative. But I must ask. Who will take up the throne in your place? Who will lead Vastime against those threats which, in time, will only come to harm its very purpose?"
It was not quite passion in Abalia's voice, but something at least faintly resembling it. She was not simply asking Hayden for answers, but very nearly demanding them.
"I could not tell you what your role might be. That is something that only you can decide, based upon what you see in Vastime, in its people and in those that would follow in your footsteps."
The eyes of Desmond would find themselves gaze at the glass as she spoke with vigor, a resolve and demanding nature that ehco'd the sentiments of his people. If he was to be the heart and lifeblood of Vastime, she was the voice of their nation's people. An accurate description with regards to her title and how she spoke, the small underestimations made once to her long forgotten now due to prestige and positions.
But hazel irises would list up as a thin slash spread on his lips, nothing at all like a smile. Perhaps a habit he had acquired for Decter, perhaps the manifestion of kingly gravitas. But he was more than a mere man, and that which sought to take his place would have a legacy and burden to uphold. One which would have to extend past his own, one which would need to elevate this great power to heights unknown.
"The position of King-Militant, our bloodline, our heritage is what this kingdom is sworn to. Every bannermen, every lord, every citizen is sworn to the bloodline of Hayden. It would only be fitting my kinsmen take the title- however.." The majestic plural in his voice almost chilling, a silencing notion. He was not some petty lordling or upstart empire, he was the closest thing to divinity within his lands.
"This title remains in our hands till my death, should we not possess an heir the Cortes will select a prime-minister to lead the lands. We shall be ready to proceed as a republic, a kingdom, or as something new. But only if we do not find a suitable heir by either blood, steel, or wit."
The majestic plural was a sharp cold thing, something which seemed to be enough to cause most people to wince. It was the pure notion, the unadulterated fact of the difference between their positions. For Hayden to take it on, to address her in such a fashion-
It was a reminder. A sharp one that he has thus far elevated the position he held and while her demands where fair- one does not demand of their king trivialities. But his next tone of voice, the one which held an ember of a flame to it. Both warming and painful in a way.
"I have great many plans for Vastime. If the people demandth of me to visit hellfire and death upon our enemies, if the people demandth of me to see to their prosperity and future- then what king would I be to deny them?"
The hazel irises of Desmond Hayden, the 1st of his name, would seem to burn with rapt anger. His hand gripping the blade upon his side tightly, standing up at he walked to the window. He didn't quite know when the sun set, nor did he notice when the storm clouds rolled in above his city. But now that he could see it, the thundering and aliveness of his nation- yes he could feel it.
"I hear them calling to me, Abalia. I hear them calling for vengeance. And I will oblige them."
To most, such a tone coming from Desmond Hayden would have made them second guess themselves at the absolute least, and inspired considerable fear most likely. But Abalia was not most. She had spoken in earnest, and though her king may have taken offense, her own tone had served as every bit a reminder as his. That, although she did serve him with absolute faith and conviction, she lived for Vastime, not only for her king. The people deserved answers. They were not mere trivialities to her, they were everything the people deserved.
“But are you truly prepared for that, sir? Not only for yourself, for I have no doubt that you would throw yourself to the grave without a second thought if it were for the good of Vastime. But do you believe that the Cortes would choose a leader who truly embodied those ideals in turn? Have you set in place a legacy that can ensure that what good you have done is not wasted when the time comes?”
She was still stern, still confident in what she said. So far as she was concerned, Abalia was not being disrespectful. To ignore the full scope of the issue with honeyed words and the tone demanded of his position would only obscure the truth of her point, that the people deserved more than merely vengeance. They deserved security, stability, the life they had been promised.
“There is certainly much to be done, that much is true. But we cannot look too far to the future before ensuring we have prepared for more immediate concerns. The day will come that vengeance is won for every man and woman of Vastime, but do not let that cost us everything.”
Abalia remained calm and collected as she spoke, not angry, but speaking as though simply reminding Hayden of the nature of things. She served as advisor, offering counsel. He himself had said as much. All of this was nothing more than her suggestion to him to keep in mind, for she knew that he had a passion which sometimes needed to be tempered. That was, at least now, her duty.