Riding the Current
"Is this truly what you want, father?"
Cistina, Cerya and Olivya stood assembled before their father, the Archiereus Mreuva, atop Heim's Southern Curtain Wall. Nowhere in the capital, or Valeria, was truly peaceful, but the fortress was as quiet as they could hope for: Cerya had dispersed a group of protesters a few minutes hence, and Cistina, with a small band of ninjas, had ambushed and slain a group from the Tigers of Burnham before more of their number could move in to the city.
Through all of that, Olivya had been in Heim with her father, talking through the night and holding back tears.
"It is," Mreuva told Cistina, whose eyebrows were knitted in clear concern.
"I don't believe that," said Cerya. "If you had truly wanted the throne, you could have told Denam so. But you placed upon him the title of lord."
"Hrm." Mreuva bowed his head. The subject was sore, that much her sisters could doubtless see. But Olivya knew it was sorer still because her father truly had believed in Denam, as had she.
And they had failed him; they had not even had time to bury his body.
"The Order has many followers, and you personally may fare better than Denam, who you only endorsed. Yet…" Cistina frowned and turned away, looking off into the distance, at the towns and villages where the people stirred. "Father, is this your way for atoning for Denam's death?"
"It is the only choice I have," Mreuva mumbled. "As Denam before me."
"I don't believe that either!" Cerya raised her voice, nearly to shouting, as she had a talent for doing.
Then she turned to Olivya. "You can't mean to participate in this, Olivya. At least not now. We haven't even run Denam's killers to ground!"
"…I do not wish to see the people of Valeria left hopeless," Olivya said quietly.
"Then let us place Brantyn's puppet Eltynaha on the throne," Cerya offered. "At least then father will not be their target."
"We cannot allow the people to watch Valeria crumble, again and again," Mreuva said. "If we place a puppet on the throne, who then perishes, the throne will be nothing more than a grave — both to the people and in truth."
"Enough," Cerya growled, and she turned away as Cistina did — but where Cistina simply looked out to the distance, Cerya made for the stairs. "I'll return to my duties," Cerya said, "and hopefully, I will succeed before the two of you finish your fool plan."
Cistina turned to her father and sister, nodded, and followed Cerya.
"…I had expected Cerya to be more in favor of this plan." Mreuva spoke to himself, but loud enough that Olivya could hear. She approached her father, and laid a hand upon his shoulder.
"She is of a mind to take risks and lay down lives for success," Olivya told him. "It is only that the time for such methods have passed. Do not hold what she believes against her."
"Of course." Mreuva said. "…Even so, I am sorry that I struggle to keep our family together, Olivya."
Olivya shook her head, but said nothing. She had not been of a mind to blame her father, and did not see a need to consider it. To lay blame, to participate in her sisters' fighting, all of it had seemed somewhat beyond her, and a touch futile besides — though she would never say that to, or of, them.
Certainly, she regretted being unable to find her sister after she fled the battlefield, and that she did not look harder when she had the opportunity. She regretted being a hair too slow to save Catiua when she tragically perished in Barnicia. She regretted being unable to comfort Denam in his time of need. And she regretted not telling him how she felt before his blood covered the floor of the great hall. But to weep, to act out as Cerya did, to change course as Cistina might, did not, would not change any of that.
She would follow the flow of fate, as she had always chosen. That consistency was one of the few comforts the Wheel had left to her.