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Odairn

Odairn's Photo Odairn 07 Oct 2014

ODAIRN
Terrisman Steward


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Name/Handle: Comatose
OoC Account: ...
Contact Information:

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Name: Odairn
Type: Terrisman
Age: 50
Gender: Eunuch
Place of Origin: Tathingdwen
Occupation: Head Steward
Relationship Status: Single

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Odairn has the elongated height of a eunuch, standing well above six feet. His condition has also shaped his body, rounding and smoothing out his features and filling out his body with fat because of his reduced metabolism. His eyes are so dark they seem almost dull and lifeless, betraying none of his inner thoughts. His face is most often arranged into a countenance of polite composure, and he moves with an easy and practiced grace, comparable to the best of ball room dancers. He always wears the robes of a steward, in the dark crimson, teal, and silver of House Elariel. He refuses to adorn himself with the many piercings typically associated with Terris people, and while he enjoys wearing rings on his fingers, they are typically only gold or silver, and often bejeweled as a sign of his prestige as Elariel's chief steward. Above all he refuses to wear copper, as he associates it with the hidden knowledge of the keepers he was prevented from sharing in.

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Odairn is the model steward, quiet, cautious, and inconspicuous. He is an intelligent man, and sometimes chafes inwardly when taking commands from nobles with inferior intellects. Despite this, he has come to terms with the fact that being a steward is the only lot left open to him in life, and has resigned himself to make the best of that situation. He is a good judge of character, and uses this talent to find the 'good' in a person when he's feeling impatient with them. Patience is both one of his greatest strengths, and the attribute he struggles the most with. He is a person who likes to know what is going on around him and those he is concerned about at all times, and hates being surprised. He is slow to love or care for anyone, and can often be cold and calculating. Despite this, he is also capable of surprisingly genuine compassion when the moment is right.

Odairn is not overly fond of other terrismen, especially those who he deems to lack the competency he gained form his training, but he hates the Keepers more than almost anything. His time wandering the wilds of the final empire did not ingratiate them with the skaa either, and he now views them as inferior creatures. Not surprisingly, he feels most comfortable dealing with nobility.

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Special Skills: Reading, Writing, Observation, Etiquette, Bureaucracy, Serving.
Strengths: Odairn is an acute judge of character and is, for a Terrisman, very selective about who he gives his loyalty to. He is not prone to make mistakes, and is an expert about moving unnoticed behind the scenes of great events, ensuring things go the way he would prefer them to. Once he judges someone worthy of his loyalty, shows model devotion, but will not follow anyone blindly. If the object of his devotion disappoints him, he has a history of changing loyalties. He can be incredibly patient when he wants to be, and is difficult to unsettle.
Weaknesses: In terms of combat, Odairn has no capabilities, natural or supernatural. He is utterly defenseless in that regard. His skill at remaining unnoticed has also made him complacent in some respects. He is used to his plots coming to fruition without being detected. When things do not go as planned, Odairn can be caught completely by surprise, and be at a loss for how to proceed. He is also sometimes overly cautious, and fails to take risks at opportune moments. His station as a Terrismen also makes him utterly reliant on the good will of others to succeed.

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Odairn was born into the harsh environment of the Terris breeding programs. As an intelligent, curious child, he quickly felt chafed by the restraints of his role in society. However, as he aged, his intuition began to kick in, and he began to realize far earlier than some of his peers that it might be better to go with the flow than to struggle against the oppressive system he had been born into.

He was castrated before he knew what he would be missing later in life. The operation was painful, but he was too young to remember it for long. As he grew older he threw himself into his studies, quickly impressing the obligators who were in charge of training him. Their grudging praise was the first hint of compassion he had ever experienced, and he relished it, taking every opportunity to earn more. His only other source of affection was his brother, Reznarin. Reznarin, or Rez as Odarin like to call him was not his brother by blood, at least, as far as he knew. Being the same age, it was unlikely they had the same mother, though multiple births were common in the breeding programs, and there was no telling who their male breeder had been. But, to Odarin, they shared a deeper bond of brotherhood, one forged of personal experience and mutual affection, rather than mere blood. In his later days among the noble society, the obsession with one's blood family continues to puzzle Odairn.

One night, Reznarin vanished from the compound during the night, returning just before their morning lessons began at dawn. While Odairn itched to ask his brother where he had been, he was forced to wait until the sun set and evening lessons were concluded, as he did not want to draw attention to Reznarin's absence and earn him the ire of the obligators. However, once they were sent to bed, Odairn wasted no time pressuring Rez to tell him what had happened. Rez resisted at first, claiming he had sworn a solemn oath not to tell, for the good of the Terris people, but eventually Odairn got the secret out of him. Later, he would wish that he had not.

As it turned out, Reznarin was a secret Feruchemist, bred by a female Feruchemist the Synod had managed to sneak into the breeding programs. Terrismen from an organization called the Synod had snuck him out at night to test him to see if he shared his mother's abilities, and he passed. They told him he was going to be a Keeper one day, and would use his powers to preserve the knowledge of the world before the Lord Ruler.

While Odairn was happy for his friend, and glad he was okay, he couldn't help but feel jealous. Why hadn't he been tested for Feruchemy? After all, he was the best in his class, and the obligators praised him far more than they did Reznarin. For a time, he kept his feelings of resentment to himself, going so far as to cover for Reznarin when he could so that the other boy could meet with the Synod and learn about the lost Terris culture while he practiced his Feruchemy.

Eventually, Odairn could bear it no longer, and asked (subtly of course, for even then Odairn was learning to be as subtle as any nobleman) if he might be tested for Feruchemy as well. After all, Reznarin had learned that the ability could skip entire generations. What if Odairn was a feruchemist as well? To his surprise, Odairn found out that Reznarin had already asked his superiors if Odairn might be able to be tested, or even to help the resistance against the oppression of their people in some way, but they had refused. Apparently, Odairn's dedication in his lessons had been observed, and some members of the Synod were concerned he showed too much loyalty to the obligators.

Angry, Odairn took matters into his own hands, confronting the Keepers the next time they snuck in to take Reznarin in away. Not wanting to cause a ruckus and expose themselves, the Synod agents were forced to take Odairn with them. Once at their private meeting place, Odairn demanded to be tested for Feruchemy. As the test was performed, he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He had always excelled at everything he did. He would be a Feruchemist, he had to be. Then everything would go back to normal, and he and Reznarin could fight for the rights and freedoms of their people together.

He failed the test. Still, he argued, there must be something he could do. He was smart and dedicated, surely he could help the Synod in some way. The Keepers only shook their heads, and sadly told him his lot in life would be to serve as a normal Terris steward. The Synod depended on the institution of stewardship in order to stay hidden in plain sight. If every Terrisman were turned into rebels, there would be no way to stop the Lord Ruler from just destroying them all.

Odairn quickly saw the injustice of this, and felt his emotions rise, despite the placid disposition imposed on him by his condition. The Synod weren't interested in helping the Terris people, he realized. They were only interested in creating more Feruchemists. In a way, they were even more dependent on the breeding programs than the nobles or obligators. Why should most of the Terris population live like slaves just so that a few privileged freaks of nature could live exciting lives of adventure undetected? The Keepers only told him he was too young to understand, and warned him that if they thought he was going to betray them, they would be forced to kill him in order to keep their secret.

In the end, Reznarin saved Odairn's life that night, vouching for him when no one else would. Odairn was returned to the compound, and things slowly returned to normal. Only, somehow, things weren't the same. Odairn began to question where his loyalties actually lay. Did he owe obedience to some shadowy sect of rebels, or to the god who had proven his divinity by conquering the known world? Why should he choose the men of his own race who had rejected him over the teachers and guardians who were now constantly praising his progress, determination, and dedication? The only thing that held him back from going to the Obligators then and there was Reznarin. His brother who was not a brother had saved his life, and Odairn couldn't quite bring himself to betray him.

Still, his dissatisfaction with the situation continued to bother him. Reznarin, engrossed in his lessons as a Keeper was falling behind in his training as a steward. Furthermore, it seemed to be all he ever wanted to talk about. There were so many new things he was learning, and Odairn was one of the only people he could talk to about it, and so he got an earful. Odairn soon found himself growing irritated, and fell back behind the mask of composure he was being trained to use in his future role as a steward.

Things came to a head during one of his last years of training when he was called into the office of one of the higher ranking Prelans of the Undercanton of Culture. He was surprised when he got there to find a Steel Inquisitor waiting there instead. Apparently, their were rumors floating around the facility about the existence of a Feruchemist. Odairn's name had been mentioned as a possible suspect.

The Inquisitor explained to him that the knowledge that feruchemy still existed alone might be enough to have Odairn and everyone he loved killed. Even the obligators who ran the center, aside from a few of the highest ranking prelans, thought the ability had been bred out of the terris population long ago. When another steward in training was interrogated, Odairn's name was put forward as a suspect, and an Inquisitor was called in.

Odairn knew slander when he saw it, and he was pretty sure he knew who had mentioned his name: another steward in training who coveted the attention the obligators gave to him. He calmly denied the accusations, but then the Inquisitor mentioned some irregularities in the behavior of both him and his friend Reznarin. At that point, Odairn was frightened the fearful creature in front of him was going to kill him on the spot. However, it would seem the Inquisitor was not done with him.

The monster went on to say he had confidence in Odairn's loyalty, but that he was worried about him, that there were dangerous men in the Terris dominance who would play on the dreams of young Terris boys, stealing them away in the night, and then using them as surrogates for their treason. These men might claim to have the interest of the Terris people at heart, but really they were greedy and corrupt, only concerned with their own well being and malicious agendas.

This reasoning struck a chord with Odairn, given his own assessment of the Keepers he had met. What could he do? Who had originally given his name was irrelevant. Now that the Inquisitors had been watching him, both he and Reznarin were implicated in the treason of the Synod. Why should he and his brother pay the price for the crimes of men they barely new, just because Reznarin had strange abilities and they shared a common race?

It was obvious the Inquisitor was attempting to use him in order to get to the Synod, and that the feruchemists were the ones the Inquisitor was truly interested in. That was the only reason Odairn was still alive. But how could he use that to his advantage? If he just told the Inquisitor what he knew, he would not be spared. The secret of feruchemy was too big, especially if even the obligators of the breeding program did not know about it. Odairn's life would be a small price to pay in order to keep that secret.

All the while, the Inquisitor waited patiently, metal eyes seeming to bore into Odairn's soul. The creatures were barely human, and were supposed to be capable of incredible violence. How was he to compete against such a monster? Then, Odairn saw it. A slight twitch in the Inquisitors neck, indicating an underlying tension. Knowing now what to look for, Odairn took in other signs of unease in the creature's posture. The creature did not want to catch the feruchemists. It needed to. What could put such a need in a being so powerful? Other more highly ranked Inquisitors was a definite possibility, or perhaps even the Lord Ruler himself.

After a moment of planning, Odairn admitted he did know about the Feruchemists, and that he had seen them. He also agreed to give away the location, on the condition Reznarin might be spared. After all, his friend was an innocent. The Synod had manipulated him and were corrupting him, but he'd never done anything wrong. If they explained things to him, Odairn told himself he was certain that Reznarin would give up his Feruchemy and be a good Terris steward like the rest of them. The Inquisitor nodded slowly, then took a step toward Odairn, no doubt planning to kill him then and there, but Odairn held up his hand, indicating he was not done, and, to his surprise, the creature stopped.

He explained that he was of the most gifted stewards in his class, and a favorite of the obligators, and that while none of them would dare defy the will of an Inquisitor, his death would make them ask questions; questions the Inquisitors might not want them to ask. Pushing his luck, Odairn continued, arguing that, because the Feruchemists knew him, the Inquisitor could catch far more with his help than without. Location alone would give the creature the ability to ambush its foes, but with Odairn's help, the slaughter could be even greater. As he spoke, Odairn noticed a change in the creature's posture, and knew that if the Inquisitor still had any eyes, a hungry gleam would have entered them. More feruchemists would likely look good to whoever was giving it orders, and increase its rank and prestige.

Odairn knew he was not done, however. There was still nothing stopping the Inquisitor from killing him as soon as the job was done, perhaps even making it look like an accident in order to make sure the obligators did not become suspicious. The Inquisitor agreed to Odairn's first plan, after a superhuman strike that sent Odairn crashing to the ground to ensure the steward in training still knew his place, but as he got up, he was already coming up with another one.

Things did not go as planned.

The Keepers were not happy to see him. They had already forbidden Reznarin from bringing him along, and were displeased by his disobedience. Odairn defended Reznarin, saying he had force him to come along, and that he news of great danger, that he had seen an Inquisitor at the compound, that the the creature had seemed to be watchin he and Reznarin.

The Keepers took the threat of an Inquisitor very seriously, and agreed to relocate along with the boys to a base where a few more of their members were staying to plan a next move. As soon as they entered the base, the keepers began to talk in hushed tones, leaving the two young men to wait outside with a woman who was keeping watch.

The woman was not killed, as Odairn had expected her to be. Instead, a small dart shot out of the mists, embedding itself in her neck. She sank to the ground unconcious before she could scream. Before Reznarin could shout, Odairn clapped his hand over his friend's mouth, and pulled him around the corner towards the spot where he had told the Inquisitor he would wait. As the creature approached the building, he hesititated, no doubt wondering if he should finish off the two boys first. However, Odairn's hunch about the Inquisitor had been correct, and its greed forced it to go after the full feruchemists first, not wanting to risk losing them while it killed some inconsequential terris boy.

It pushed the door inward with startling force, and immediately began to attack. As Odairn pulled his stunned friend away, he heard the sounds of screaming and bones crunching as the Inquisitor went about it's deadly work. The keepers were powerful, but they were trapped, and the Inquisitor had the advantage of surprise. The chemical the Inquisitor had used on the guard seemed able to render a Feruchemist unconcious, and unable to use the healing abilities Reznarin had told Odairn about. Using it had been Odairn's idea, but he hadn't expected the Inquisitor to use it, especially on a watch person who could have been killed just as easily with less risk of detection. Still, the Keepers were not about to go down without a fight, and Odairn hoped their abilities would be powerful enough to buy some time for him and Reznarin some time.

Suddenly, Reznarin's muscles seemed to bulge, Odairn realized what was happening too late to stop it, and his friend quickly broke his grip, and pushed Odairn to the ground.

"What are you doing!?" shrieked Reznarin. "We could have warned them!" Odairn could see his friend still did not realize that Odairn had been working in the Inquisitor.

"If we had tried to warn them, we'd be dead right now, like they soon will be. The Inquisitor wasn't really after us, it was after them. You saw how it decided to go after them when it could have finished us off! Stopping you from warning them was the only way we could escape."

"But they're our people! No, they are more than our people, they are our leaders! The best of us! They have more knowledge than you could even imagine, and if they are lost, all of that knowledge might be as well. How could you be so stupid Odairn!"

Odairn's eyes narrowed. "The best of us, really? The men and women who would let our people suffer to allow them to hide like cowards? The ones who would put a mere boy's life in danger for their own selfish reasons? Wake up Rez, they are manipulating you. They just want you for your abilities, for your power. Without your feruchemy, they would serve you to that Inquisitor on a silver platter."

Reznarin shook his head, "You don't understand, it's for the better good!"

"No Rez, you don't understand! There is no better good!"

Reznarin shook his head, as if he was seeing Odairn for the first time. "You led him here!" He approached, and Odairn was afraid his friend was going to kill him. He was no match for a feruchemist, and wouldn't it be ironic to survive the wrath of an Inquisitor only to be killed by his best friend?

Reznarin stood, panting, fist raised, an inches away from Odairn. But, he did not strike. Finally, he shook his head, and turned to go back to the base, where sounds of struggle continued to echo out.

"I don't want to see your face again, traitor," Odairn heard his friend shout. "I spared you because I thought we were friends, but if I see you again I will kill you for what you've done!"

Odairn watched his friend march towards his doom, knowing that he would never get the chance to see if Reznarin meant what he said.

Odairn acted quickly, knowing that he did not have much time left. He found a pile of refuse nearby and dove into it, hoping to disguise his scent, in case the Inquisitors brought dogs. He hid there for hours, listening as other Inquisitors arrived, some congratulating, others reprimanding the lone inquisitor who had met with him. He listened as they dragged the bodies of the seemingly unconscious terrismen onto a wagon, likely to torture the whereabouts of the rest of their brethren out of them. Odairn counted the thumps as each keeper was dumped onto the wagon. It was strange they were taking so many, as the Inquisitors usually liked to leave signs of their killings behind. Perhaps the secret of the keepers was too important to leave even bodies behind.

Odairn waited most of the day, dozing on and off, fearful that the inquisitors would still be having the location watched. Perhaps they would assume Reznarin had killed him, and he would be off the hook. That is friend was dead or soon would be, Odairn had no doubts. At first this angered him, but when he thought about it, Odairn realized that deep down he had also known that Reznarin would not turn his back on the teachings he had been receiving, and that this was likely the result. Not sure how to deal with the complex emotions inside of him, Odairn pushed them aside, and focused his energies on surviving.

He drifted for a while, not staying in one place for to long. People trusted Terrismen, so despite being young, he managed to scrape by using his social skills and intellect to gain allies and resources. Sometimes he scammed lowly ranked nobles, other times it was skaa theiving crews. Some crew leaders seemed to like ordering around a Terrisman, as it made them feel more like nobles, while others enjoyed dominating him in other ways. His experience with discipline and hardship in the breeding programs taught him to deal with the pain and move on, refusing to give in.

Finally he made his way to Luthadel, after almost a year of travelling. An obligator he had connected with in the breeding programs had been tranferred to Luthadel a few years before, and was supposed to be handling terris steward assignments in the city. In exchange for the whereabouts of several of the crews that Odairn had worked with on his way to Luthadel, and for his continued silence regarding several of the obligator's indiscretions with breeders in hte breeding programs, the obligator agreed to pass over other candidates to give him a favourable assignment. Odairn hoped that, if he could ingratiate himself with the high nobility, he could put himself beyond the reach of the Inquisitors. Besides, he thought, who would expect the ragged, out of shape boy he had been to have ended up alive in Luthadel, serving one of the greatest of noble house? Anton Elariel, the lord of one of the Great Houses of Luthadel, was looking for a Terris steward and tutor for his teenage sons. Though he was only twenty, and some thought him too young for the role, Odairn rose to the challenge and accepted the assignment.

Odairn clashed with the eldest, Andrew from the beginning, though he kept his dislike of the boy hidden behind courtesy and duty. The handsome Elariel heir was too intelligent for his own good, and was already adept at playing people and ensuring things worked out his way. He seemed to believe he was the Lord Ruler's gift to the world, destined to be great based solely on his birth and natural talent. His almost compulsive use of allomancy and haughty arrogance reminded Odairn far too much of the Keepers and his rejection at their hands.

He also realized why Lord Anton had felt a Terrisman might be needed. Lord Anton was a man still trying to fill the shoes of his impressive father, and Andrew at least could already see how much space their was left to fill. The complex life of the Lord of a Great House filled Anton's every waking moment, and he needed to support of his sons, and to ensure they were properly brought up. And so, though Odairn ahd been hired by Lord Anton, it was the young lordlings Alistair and Andrew who he spent most of his time with.

He watched with unease as Andrew continued to control the men and women who were supposed to educate and manage him. Luckily, he was spared from the worst of the boy's attentions. While he learned to recognize the touch of an allomancer on his emotions, he felt it only sparingly. It seemed likely Andrew didn't feel that a lowly Terrisman was worth his attentions. Odairn tried to use this to his advantage, doing his best to temper the heirs aspirations whenever possible from behind the scenes. Despite his efforts, his lowly position also worked against him. Andrew had a head start, and many of the men and women of House Elariel only saw him as he wanted them to, no matter what Odairn said. Not wanting to draw the ire of his charge, he soon gave up his attempts.

Despite the similarities in intelligence, drive, and pursuit of excellence between him and Andrew, it was the younger brother Odairn found himself bonding with. The younger brother, who despite being talented and bright, was constantly overshadowed by his elder brothers' brilliance and allomancy. In some ways, Alistair's situation reminded Odairn of how he had felt when the Synod rejected him. Besides, Alistair proved far more tractable to Odairn's teachings than his brother, and the two soon formed a close relationship. Odairn became a sort of surrogate older brother to Alistair, to replace Andrew, who only seemed to notice he was not an only child when there was an opportunity to prove his superiority.

Odairn began to help Alistair wherever he could. He quickly began to get a feel for the complex world of internal politics within House Elariel, and soon began to realize that Andrew already had a considerable number of family members who were more loyal to him than to his father. Wanting to make sure Alistair had some sort of support base so he would not be defenseless when his brother became House Lord, Odairn set about helping and directing Alistair to create his own faction.

He also tried his best to ensure his young charge succeeded socially. With Andrew's dynamic personality, Alistair's modest refinement and quiet intelligence were often left unremarked. Already quite close, Odairn was the first person Alistair told about the lovely Janelle Tekiel who had debuted around the same time as him, and how engaging and beautiful she was, and what a smart political match they would make. He was also there to watch sadly as Andrew caught his brother glancing in the young woman's direction, and asked her to dance.

As always, Alistair meekly stepped aside, doing what was best for his house. It was his role as the younger brother to support his house's heir, no matter his personal feelings, just as it was Odairn's role to remain silent and to encourage Alistair's dedication to his house. Inside, Odairn didn't know if he felt more proud of Alistair for choosing his duty above love, or sad that his 'little brother' had lost at love before he'd had a chance to try his hand at it.

As the head of Alistair's fledgling intelligence network, Odairn was the first to see signs that Andrew was up to something. The boy had become a man, and his aspirations were becoming dangerous. Even with Odairn's ability to remain undetected, and his talent for observing patterns, it took him a while to uncover that Andrew was planning to use Alistair to remove his father, and take the house title for himself.

Though he was worried for Alistiar, Odairn took a moment to sit back and think about where his duty lay. He was assigned to serve both brothers, and do what was best for house Elariel. Anton was doing his best, but despite Odairn's distaste for Andrew, he knew the young man would do a better job than his father. And yet, in the struggle for power, it would be Alistair who paid the price. What was the right thing to do? He had made a conscious effort to block out his past, but in the moment, he found himself thinking of Renzarin. He had done what was best according to his own personal beliefs, despite knowing his friend would pay the price for it. He knew that now. Could he do the same now that Alistair's life was at stake?

Then there was the problem of Alistair. Despite their complex relationship, Odairn knew Alistair loved his brother and valued his approval above that of almost anyone else. The increased attention Andrew had been paying him lately would have increased his feelings. Odairn hadn't seen Alistair so happy since Andrew asked Janelle Tekiel to dance, despite the strain Andrew's manipulations were putting on Alistair's relationship with their father. How could he tell his charge that the source of his happiness was a lie, and that the brother he loved was willing to use him and throw him away?

In the end, it proved easier than expected. He'd already made up his mind, and, as before, he'd known it before he'd sat down to consider the possibilities. He was through with giving people his loyalty based on race or birth. Alistair was the one who had earned his loyalty, and so it was Alistair Odairn would help. And when he told Alistair of his suspicions, he was surprised to find he didn't have to do much convincing.

"Thank-you, Odairn," Alistair had said, betraying no emotion, just like Odairn had taught him to. Alistair had realized the importance of composure after the incident with Janelle, and he had been working on it since then. "Thank-you for telling me the truth. I knew it was too good to be true, deep down. Andrew never does anything without a purpose. I owe you an apology. We both know Andrew has no concern for you. I might have endangered your safety with my foolishness. I hope you can forgive me. I suppose, we shall have to find evidence to bring to father..." and that was all. No tears, no outrage. Just a man resigned to the fact that he would do what needed to be done.

I did this, Odairn realized. I was the one who turned that shy but smart boy into the man in front of me. For indeed, he could see that, despite being only eighteen, Alistair was a man grown now, even more so than his brother. Any trace of the boy he had been had died the moment Odairn voiced his suspicions. Once again, Odairn didn't know whether to be sad or proud, and buried his conflicting emotions beneath his efforts to undermine Andrew's plan, and get Alistair through everything safely.

And he did it. It took all of Odairn's guile and determination, but somehow he and Alistair pulled it off, and fooled the unfoolable. The key, in the end, and been using Andrew's power of observation and intelligence against him. A man like Andrew Elariel always expected to be correct, so they showed him what he expected to see until the last possible moment when they were ready to present their evidence to Anton. Andrew was stricken from the succession, and Alistair was ratified as the new heir. Despite his success, Odairn could tell that beneath his perfect composure and dedication to his house, Alistair wasn't happy.

Still, even Odairn could not find a trace of regret or sadness in Alistair's eyes, even when his brother married the woman who he had once declared to be the love of his life. Alistair got the title Andrew had always wanted, and Andrew got the girl Alistair had always wanted. Both brothers ended up stuck with what the other needed to happy, and now, despite appearances, Odairn could tell that neither were.

Lord Anton died soon after, and Alistair became Lord Elariel in truth, marrying Helena Lekal for political reasons. Under his leadership, Elariel took the place of second most powerful house in all the final empire. And soon, another generation of children were born for Odairn to tutor in the ways of etiquette. He found himself drawn to Alistair's children as soon as they were born, especially the eldest, Mikhail. Aaron was too wild and selfish, and showed little care for any of his responsibilities as a scion of a Great House, and the young Daerra reminded Odairn far too much of her father.

Mikhail though, almost seemed to be Alistair reborn. Odairn began to think he might have a chance of succeeding with the son where he had failed with the father. It was thanks to him that Alistair was lord, but it was also thanks to him that he was unhappy. He would make sure Mikhail was both successful and happy.

As the most trusted and only confidante of Alistair, Odairn soon became head steward and his master's personal liaison with his now vast intelligence network, pulling strings wherever he could behind the scenes to protect his lord. He also set out to see that Mikhail was similarly protected from the ambitions of Andrew and his children. While his efforts were successful, and Mikhail was proving to be a promising heir, Odairn still wasn't sure if the man his charge was becoming would be a happy one.

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Aaron yawned again. Odairn fought off the urge to stamp on his foot. Doing so would only cause a scene. Some of the most important members of the family were present. The only notable absences included the rest of Aaron's immediate family. Odairn always kept tabs on Lord Andrew's schedule, and had decided it prudent to hold this meeting while both he and his troublesome daughter were meeting with the Landells. When Alistair met with his brother, it had to be from a place of power. If there wasn't already a firm plan of action in place by the time he spoke with Andrew, the manipulative soother would try to push the arrangements in a direction that suited him personally.

"Careful, milord," said Odairn under his breath. Aaron was obviously not paying attention, a situation that needed to be immediately rectified. "You're nodding off again. You wouldn't want to damage your uncle's opinion of you. He's an observant man, and I doubt your inattention is going unnoticed."

The young man rolled his eyes, but returned his attention to the proceedings. I will make him hate me, before this is through. That was fine with Odairn. He'd never asked for love. All he wanted was what was best for the people he did care about. And right now, what Alistair needed was an heir he could depend on.
He needs Mikhail. We all do. The thought saddened Odairn, but he banished it from his mind. Mikhail was in the past now, and grieving for him would do no good. He had the future to worry about, and right now the future of House Elariel rested on the shoulders of the inattentive young man beside him. Aaron was certainly nothing like his cousin. He was immature, careless, and entirely irresponsible. While he had inherited his handsome appearance from both sides of his family, he certainly hadn't inherited his mother's grace and dignity or his father's ambition. A pretty face with an empty head, the perfect figure head to put on a public face while another rules from behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, Aaron already had someone pulling his strings. Trapped in the enveloping shadow of her father, Daerra's considerable talent for intrigue often went relatively unnoticed within the house, and thus her faction remained in it's infancy. Nonetheless, Odairn still considered her a legitimate threat. He knew from first-hand experience how much damage could be done by someone who managed to stay unnoticed on the side lines.
Then there was the problem of Aaron himself. Despite his informal manner and lack of ambition, Aaron was well-liked at court, and popular with the young nobility from many of the other great houses. He seemed to accomplish what his father and sister did with lies and manipulations and what Alistair achieved only with hard work without really trying. While some might whisper about his being his sister's creature, or about his unseemly lack of political aspiration, most people smiled openly to his face, and many of those smiles appeared to be genuine. In the wrong hands, such an ability could quickly be misused. It also made Odairn wonder if Aaron really was the person he pretended to be. He came from a family of liars, after all. Was it too much to assume he might be the greatest liar of the bunch?

After shooing Lord Nolan, Vivian's father, out of the room, Lord Alistair turned to Odairn and Aaron.
"Well nephew. What do you think of today's excitements?" Odairn's heart went out to his master. Alistair had taken the death of his son much harder than he was willing to admit. He did a good job of hiding it, as he had been taught, but Odairn knew him well enough to see through the facade. He's strong. You've taught him to be strong, he told himself. Alistair couldn't falter, not now at this pivotal moment. Odairn had to ensure he remained resolute in the face of adversity or their mutual enemies would jump at the opportunity to bring both Lord and steward down.

Aaron seemed to be lost in thought once again. With the others gone, Odairn allowed himself to indulge a little, and discreetly brought his heel down on the heir's toe. Even if Alistair saw, Odairn didn't have anything to worry about. The rest of the family had to be convinced of Aaron's competence as their future Lord, but Alistair himself needed to know the realities of their situation. Besides, Alistair was Odairn's closest ally and friend. There were no secrets between them. Or at least. he mentally amended, Not many.

"Apologies uncle..." Aaron said, jolting back into the present. "It's just... there is a lot to take in. I think I'm still taking everything in." It was a plausible answer, despite being a transparent lie. Could such incompetence truly be an act? Some might say it wasn't possible, but Odairn hadn't gotten to his current position by ignoring supposed impossibilities.

Alistair gazed at his nephew with the eyes that Odairn taught him to use correctly. Even that lordly expression of impartial scrutiny had come from Odairn's teachings. Alistair had always been a capable student, too capable in some regards, and had become a great Lord in his own right, but sometimes Odairn couldn't help but wonder if he had taught his young charge too well.

"Yes. I suppose there is. I can't expect you to step into my son's shoes so quickly." Every emotion seemed to have leaked out of Alistair as he spoke. "Emotions are tools," Odairn remembered telling him "Tools which your brother is all too capable of using against you. If you ever want to overcome him, you must first learn to overcome yourself, starting with your passions."

"I'm afraid, however, that we have no choice. Our position has always been a delicate one. Now more than ever we cannot afford to be weak. Lady Vivian's return from the dead certainly hasn't helped things." Alistair's gaze slipped back to his nephew. Odairn couldn't help but share in Aaron's discomfort. It was his duty to mold Aaron into the man he needed to be. Every flaw Alistair detected would reflect poorly on Odairn's ability as an educator.

"I almost wish she would not have returned at all. I can't afford to say so in front of her father of course. He'd take it personally, you see. He wouldn't understand." Odairn shifted his gaze to examine Aaron out of the corner of his eye, without moving his head. Alistair was testing him.

"I... I think I understand," Aaron said without too much hesitation. "Vivian's return has complicated things. It's not her return you dislike, it's the controversy she's bringing with her." A well reasoned answer, but an innocent one. While the controversy surrounding Vivian's return was Alistair's main concern, he had little personal affection for the girl. From what Odairn remembered, the bold spoken girl seemed to take far too much after her mother's family for his taste. He doubted her time in the Sureau dungeons had done anything to temper her rebellious nature.

A knock interrupted Odairn's thoughts, and the present conversation.

The doorman, one Eugene Elariel, of the fifth tier entered. The man was a spy for Andrew Elariel, but a clumsy one. It was for this reason that Odairn had advised Alistair to keep him in his service. As long as Eugene remained in place, Andrew had no reason to send a more competent spy to replace him. "My apologies, Lord Alistair. There is a Winston Elariel here to see you."

Ah, Lord Hector's little pet project. Odairn had received several very favorable reports of the young man, who, despite his age, was proving to be a rather competent spy. However, the nature of his loyalty to Hector personally troubled Odairn, and so he had arranged for Winston to be sent to Luthadel.

"Ah," said Alistair. For a moment, Odairn caught his gaze flick towards Aaron. Likely he was considering the plan they had concocted. The hint of a smile that touched his face was one of satisfaction, the kind worn when several disparate pieces match up and fall into place. "Very well. Send him in at once."
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KChan's Photo KChan 03 Jan 2015

Exemplary as always. I think Odairn might be your best app yet! Sorry it took me so long to make it over here.

It's an Approval from me! :D
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Moru's Photo Moru 03 Jan 2015

Seriously one of your best characters. I absolutely love him!

Approved!,
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