Arisaph Steele's tale shared:
Grand Duke Jaymen Steele and Young Ashveil - A Tale of the Late Emperor
When I was a young ven, still unblooded, I had sneaked into the ballroom
of the Duchess Zara Steele. She had invited many prominent Dukes and Marquis. I had struck a friendship with her great-granddaughter Lyna, now known as Quinen Drew, and Lady Zara had tolerated my presence at her castle as long as we did not disturb her lavish, week-long winter feast!
Lyna and I had dared climb up the insanely twisted stairs of our area of the Puzzle House to where the Party was held. Alas Lyna fell and had badly cut her cheek as she tumbled down, but I could not stand to be away from such prominent ven in order to help her, so I continued on without her, bidding her luck.
It took me nearly an entire day and night, following the ruckus of orchestrated instruments, loud and sometimes lewd conversations, but at last, on the second evening of the party I had finally found the ballroom! And there, Ah, the Sights! The lavish tapestries and dresses and jewelry! Ah, and the music!!! I was thrilled to attend my very first gathering of nobles and I was already making plans and contingencies so that I may make my way to the party and be seen gloriously by these Dukes and Marquis' without embarrassing the host, Lady Zara.
There were several groups of ven from mixed houses and the colors mingled with one another freely. By then, most of Shanri's prominent ven were very drunk! (*raises glass*) Several of them were playing games and entertaining themselves in the typical ven fashion, much like we are today.
At last, from my advantageous vantage point, I saw three notable ven poisoning four cups with foul filters and mixes. The three ven were Marquis Meza Mwrr, his Baroness Desiree Sinjin and his Swordsman Vanglia Sheeda.
It then became awfully convenient for me since the three of them approached the hostess, Duchess Zara Steele and the three ven she was speaking with: Duke Calaban Ru, Duke Steiner Dagul and Grand Duke Jaymen Steele.
Back then, Grand Duke Jaymen Steele was well known for his methods. He controlled many Baronies and dispensed with integrated nobility such as Counts and Marquis', however, it was seen as very gauche and somewhat controversial by other nobles, such as Meza Mwrr. Making deals with Barons alone gave him incredible leverage and he found allies throughout all of Shanri easily.
It was very clear that Meza Mwrr was attempting to poison the four unsuspecting ven to their advantage. But I was there and quickly resolved to stop the foul act.
I made my way down and just as the Swordsman, Vanglia Sheeda, presented the gentlemen and lady with a tray of the finest Letharian Wine, I tumbled before the lot of them, almost successful in my attempt to knock over the silver platter he held. Realizing I was an unblooded child, the Vanglia Sheeda kicked me and handed the tray of cups to Desiree Sinjin so that he may raise his sword against me!
At that moment I willfully cringed, in an attempt to continue masquerading as an impotent child. It was Jaymen Steele and Lady Zara who cunningly saw through my plan and the Great Jaymen Steele gave me a knowing look. Then Jaymen Steele leaned on the table behind him and it crashed, plates and cups badly damaged and the desserts of the Althua were ruined!
The crash allowed everyone gathered at the Althua to focus on our little group, and it quickly became impossible for Meza Mwrr and his lot to surreptitiously poison the prominent Dukes and our gracious Host, Lady Zara!
By the time Vanglia Sheeda's blade flashed before me, Duchess Zara Steele's own Swordsman, none other than her husband, had leaped to meet his blade to stop him. With both men angered, one of them rightfully so, one of the most epic sword fights ensued, during which Lady Zara seemed protective of me and kept me close.
I saw Jaymen Steele place himself close to Desiree Sinjin, now holding the tray, just in time to be pushed onto her by the rest of the crowd as they avoided the sharp blades flying wildly, both men crushing anything that stood in their way. The poisoned Letharian Wine was lost, spilled onto the ground, and once again, Jaymen Steele caught me glimpsing at him, aware of absolutely everything.
When both ven were bleeding their guts onto the ground and Vanglia Sheeda had lost an arm and a leg, he started to beg... Not for his life, but for mine. "Let me break this dish of yours! Let me kill this unblooded child and I will give you my lands and vassals!!!"
He had exclaimed with such passion I was almost tempted to step forward and though I suspect Lady Zara was tempted to agree, her husband quickly denied him and said he would take the man's lands in the Spring anyway, regardless of whether I lived or died.
Unfortunately for me -or perhaps very fortunately considering what happened later that night- many other nobles had been both entertained and maimed in this epic fight and many began whispering vile suggestions about what my fate was to be.
That is when Jaymen Steele stepped forward... He proclaimed that I had come here to be Blooded that very night and that since he himself had no knowledge of how to perform such a ritual, it fell to the hostess, Lady Zara Steele to blood me!
Jaymen Steele's eloquence in explaining the matter was exquisite and for a moment I almost believed that he had planned everything all along. How he had arranged for my friendship with Lyna several seasons ago, and my stay at Lady Zara's castle in Winter. My daring attempt at rescuing those most noble ven and my worthiness in the eyes of many key guests at the Althua...
I realized then that he had orchestrated the Marquis Meza Mwrr's downfall -who later became and stayed a Baron until he died over a year ago- and I had been a pawn in his plan, and quickly, all gathered ven agreed to my being Blooded of the Elk.
Lady Zara performed the Ritual and when she asked my Patron, Jaymen Steele himself what my Blooded name should be, he said "The one who sees everything." And that is how I earned my namesake and how I came to realize that Jaymen Steele was the most Cunning ven in all of Shanri!
"Sparrow, I'll call you back. I've just gutted a man with a shard of wood and I need to make sure he's dead... I think you're right, Sparrow. I am a bad, bad man..."
~~Dr. Xander Crowe, WORMWOOD.