Fuuin Votyris stood in the middle of the Keep that he had stormed not the day before. The man that aided him in this endeavor, Doutei Kelloway, stood on his right. All the men and women that they had freed now stood at his back. In front of the freed slaves stood the very man that they had elected to represent them. His name was Katanari Gregory. Or Green, as he preferred being called.

"Kelloway, handle the corpses. Dump them away from the settlement if you can."

The silver-haired man nodded respectfully and ordered some of the man to start collecting the dead bodies. It was almost amusing to see the gleeful expressions on their faces as they dealt with the very men that held them captive. But that wasn't important. Not in this point in time. He had to restore this Keep to functioning order if he was going to reside here.

"Gregory."

"M'Lord?" came the immediate response.

Good. Katanari would prove quite the loyal follower.

"I want you to organize the rest of the people here and clean the Keep. Remember to prioritize. We need the important rooms done first and everything else can wait till afterward. We are going to stay here and we need this place in good condition. Understood?"

"Yes, m'Lord."

Katanari motioned for the rest of the freed people to follow him, leading them into the back to start on the kitchen. They would need to cook something to eat later in the day and that part of the Keep was no doubt filthy. Slavers, especially these ones, didn't seem to care for cleanliness. Their Lord just watched them leave in silence, mulling over his own thoughts.

He was left to wander the Keep on his own.

Everyone had their assigned tasks and he was rendered unnecessary in the mean time.

Lord Votyris paused in his mindless shuffle as he spied the room that the leader of the slavers no doubt once resided in. The bed was messy as he'd expected and the floor was covered in clothing that stank of blood. His nose scrunched up in distaste and he entered the enclosed space. He was once one of the greatest mercenaries and he still couldn't stomach the smell of blood in such amounts.

But his father's training stayed his feet.

He picked up the papers that lay strewn across the man's desk, looking over the information that lay in bold handwriting. Many of them were buyer requests from some of the other Houses in the area. Frowning, the blonde took note of the names on each and every document. He refused to support the slave trade and many of the Houses that had been mentioned would suffer the consequences of dealing in the trade themselves.

Idly, he wondered how the Hand of the King would react to seeing these?

"I'll just have to send them his way and watch the events that follow. No doubt the man will take many of them in to custody, or King Robert will renounce their nobility and many of the lesser Nobles will flock to claim their property."

Amusement.

His eyes seemed to glow with the emotion as he thought of such things. Then he found his thoughts interrupted as Doutei knocked on the door, prompting him to turn and regard the silver-haired man. "Yes?"

"Lord Malibury is here to speak with you, m'Lord."

What?

They hadn't even begun to finish cleaning the Keep, let alone put the place into some kind of presentable state. He dare not bring someone here until that was accomplished as rumors would spread of his uncleanliness. And he was keen on keeping stuff clean. His old house in the village was in pristine condition. How to salvage the situation before such a thing occured?

"Refuse the Lord entry and inform him that I am coming to meet him outside. Make sure that he understands we are in a state of remodel and that we aren't ready to present the Keep. We are not trying to insult him with this gesture. Do you understand, Kelloway?"

"Yes, m'Lord."

"Good. Now see that it is done."

"Yes, m'Lord."

---


Fuuin emerged from the Keep in his finest clothing. And he hated it! He was use to wearing the rough clothing of a civilian with no claim to nobility, or the suit of armor that protected him in the heat of battle. The soft silk that now adorned his shoulders was new and unusual. Made the blonde feel vulnerable. He hated feeling vulnerable.

Then he paused in his step as he took stock of the man that awaited him.

He was easily dwarfed by the man in height by at least three feet. For the first time in years, Lord Votyris had to look up at someone. The man had skin that was tanned from long hours in the sun, bellying his history as some kind of peasent or soldier. But the scars on his hands suggested the latter. Only a sword had the potential to inflict such injuries. His hair, a dark charcoal, hung to just below his shoulders and partially covered his eyes. Which were the brightest shade of green now that the looked.

"I am Lord Rock of House Malibury. We are stationed in the next town over and we just heard of your ascent to nobility. As such, we'd like to extend our hand in alliance while you are still weak and building up your House."

Alliance?

The blonde looked at the giant of a man with a questioning look.

"I can not say that I am uninterested in this... alliance. Should the need arise, I will need the help of other Houses to aid me in battle. I would be a fool to believe I am immune to attacks at this critical point in my House's development. However! First, you must tell me the conditions. I can not agree unknowing of the consequences of my actions. People are depending on me to keep them safe."

Rock seemed pleased by his response. He crossed his arms across his chest and seemed to collect his thoughts for a second, no doubt recalling the conditions that he had planned to place in this situation. Immediately, Lord Votyris knew that he was dealing with no fool. This man was dangerous both on and off the battlefield. Of that, he was certain.

"The Alliance will remain beneficial to both parties. We'll help you in whatever task that you wish to pursue. In return, we ask that you do the same for us. Surely you can understand the deterent we would pose to any would-be invaders?"

"Indeed I do, Lord Malibury. How would we seal this alliance? I would assume that you brought some kind of documentation in the event that I agreed to such a proposition, as any smart man would have."

At that the man seemed to pause.

His nerves turned to steel at the gesture.

"Not exactly. House Malibury doesn't partake in alliances on paper. They often prove themselves unreliable in times of need and the House can not afford such ricky maneuvers. We prefer to seal our alliances with..." the raven trailed off.

"Marriage."

By the Seven, that was just his luck.

Nobility. Then marriage!

He was growing impatient with all the odd things that the Gods deemed fit to throw at him.

"Understandable. And who, pray tell, would you have me marry?"

Rock grinned.

"My daughter! She just had her seventeenth namesday and is quite the fetching lass from what I've heard around the settlement. Keiko would love to meet you, too. She has always shown interest in marrying someone that had a history on the battlefield."

The choice was once again out of his hands.

"In that case... I agree to your conditions."

"Wonderful! I'll make sure that she's here by next month. That way you have time to complete the remodeling of your Ke- ah. Now that I think about it, what is the name of your Keep? I don't think I quite caught it."

Fuuin blinked in confusion. Name of his Keep? Damn.

"Mm. Isshun. The name of the Keep is Isshun."

Rock laughed pleasently. "Good. Good. I can not wait to return to Isshun Keep. I am sure it will be much better than today!"

"Certainly."

And with that, Lord Rock of House Malibury was off.

Fuuin Votyris was now married.

The future was now uncertain.