Jessa stood as Acting Kithraya of House Tamra. Fenris stood at the head of the Kirayth. And, while the other Houses all at least paid lip service, House Bartomn would not kneel.
The city grew complacent.
But the Council's patience was wearing thin.
Warnings were issued... and taken lightly.
A lesson was devised.
I have written this so many times in so many ways; I'm just going to grab one and show it to you. I am too tired to write.
Sunset in Shayara.
We’ll start this off with another swoopy tracking shot…start out through the gates, arriving at the Library, from the exterior. Through a window, we see that Donna, Kieran, Henry, and Lucy are sitting on the floor, playing a board game; the kids are totally into it, Donna a little less so, but still amused, and Kieran just looks terribly anxious.
Swoop down to the street that Tyka!’s on. More people than usual on the street. As we pass by Tyka! and peer in briefly, we see why; there are flyers outside proclaiming that Driftwood Angels are playing a live gig there on Saturday night, and indeed they are; I’ll describe the band to you separately. Tyka! is fairly packed. Halloran’s inside, standing against the wall with a mug of Guinness and tapping his foot in time. Also, several Kirayth are there, including Quint, Telenias, and Joseph. Not Bram.
Swoop down that street and through the next few… show musical notes, maybe some helium balloons rising into the air. We come upon a street festival on the border between downtown and the Carnival District. Typical little carnival, with lots of balloons, some live musicians, booths everywhere with games in ‘em. We see Capri and her family briefly – Capri eating cotton candy, her parents grinning down at her indulgently. Signs proclaim this to be the Autumn Festival.
Swoop through the festival and through the Carnival District; we’re not stopping here, just looking through. Much darker, here, with the fog omnipresent, and with a much darker sort of person…
Swoop through the forest, into House Bartomn, where there is much hubbub. We see people scurrying frantically through the windows. We go in.
Elizabeth, scowling as she adjusts a mirror: “…could at least have given some notice…”
Thomas comes up behind her, kisses her cheek with his hands on her hips. “Ah, what’s life without the element of surprise?”
Elizabeth turns, the worry plainly etched on her face. “Thomas – what could they be up to?”
Thomas sighs, embraces her… “Wish I knew, love. Wish I knew. We’ll weather it, whatever it is.”
Michael enters the room, dashing in formal House garb. “How do I look?”
Elizabeth permits herself a small smile. “Every inch the strong Kithrayn.”
Michael grins, openly pleased with his mother’s praise. They’re a close family. Michael: “Where’s Daniel?”
Elizabeth’s smile dims slightly. “Some club. This wasn’t important enough for him to stick around, apparently.”
Michael gives a conciliatory shrug. “It’s not really his job, Mom. He’s 17, it’s Saturday night; of course he doesn’t want to stay at home and entertain with the folks.”
A loud rapping is heard at the door. Michael squares his shoulders. The family exchanges looks, aware that they’re in danger. Michael strides to the door as a servant answers it.
On the other side of the door, we see Alanna, front and center, with a coy, wicked smile on her face. She’s flanked by Jeramie and Kristian, with Ryan behind; Jeramie looks as cocky as Alanna does, while Kristian has his usual expression of distaste, and Ryan looks wary and uncomfortable. Alanna has two Hounds on a leash. Behind this grouping, we see about ten Council members and lackeys; most of them also have Hounds on leashes.
Michael gives a slight bow, his eyes never leaving Alanna’s. “Enter and be welcome,” he says, a traditional greeting.
Alanna smiles charmingly. “Thank you, we will.” She sweeps into the room, her entourage following dutifully. Michael leads the assemblage to the parlor. The tables have all of the fixings of a High Tea, which Alanna ignores; she hands her Hounds’ leashes to Jeramie and steps forward, evaluating Michael, intent upon him. Looks him over. This next is a static bit, her facing him; show the entire length of their bodies. The others are sitting down on various chairs and sofas; Thomas and Elizabeth are looking really edgy. “Michael,” she says, as if she’s tasting the word.
“Alanna,” he replies coolly.
“Michael Joseph Halloran, Kithrayn ni’Bartomn. Yes?”
“And I am…?”
“Is that all, Michael?”
“Alanna Stone ni’Tamra. Acting Kithraya ni’Tamra.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Acting Kithraya?”
He raises one right back at her.
She steps forward, places the fingertips of her left hand on his chest. “That’s not all I am, Michael.”
She gives a calculated little laugh. “I’m your Lishaya, Michael; don’t you know that?” Her fingers move in little circles on his chest. “Why won’t you say that?” Ryan’s eyes are pleading; he clearly just wants Michael to say it and get it over with. “Don’t you like me, Michael?”
Michael takes a deep breath. “No. I don’t.”
Alanna’s composure slips briefly; we see a flicker of anger before she pulls herself back together. Now we see her energy gathering around her… she’s obviously attempting to empathically influence him as she stands on tippytoes and purrs, “Oh, Michael… I think I can make you like me. I think I can make you beg…”
Her hand travels up to caress his cheek as her energy pours over him, through him; his eyes flutter closed and he breathes raggedly, obviously affected… but wrenches himself back together, and seizes her hand, growling, “No.”
She suddenly grins wickedly and purrs “Have it your way, then!”, And Janos, smiling, pulls the trigger on the gun that Michael hadn't seen, that Ryan hadn't seen.
The bullet hits Michael square in the chest - and Ryan screams as Michael falls, as Janos walks over to him calmly and shoots him once again. To be sure.
As he steps over Michael's body to do the same to Thomas and Elizabeth. Neatly. Calmly. Two shots each.
Shock resonates on the faces of Ryan and Kristian – Jeramie, a little less so. Another lieutenant hands Alanna a walkie-talkie, which she thumbs on, still grinning.
Alanna: “Are you in position?”
Response: “Yes, my Lishaya.”
Alanna, with a predatory smile: “Release the Hounds.”
(Note: The very style of this will highlight what Alanna doesn't want known - that she lacks the power to fully coerce Michael, to kill him with the force of her mind - even the full-range telepathy that she ought to be using to give those orders.)
Cut to Halloran at Tyka! – he’s lounging against the wall with a beer, listening to the music and grinning. Suddenly he feels the death of his family, feels his Aspect come upon him, so to speak. Don’t know how we’ll to this – a sudden glow around him as his eyes fill with shock? He pushes himself off the wall, half-frantic but confused, unable to process what’s happening – his family dead, Hounds unleashed, unable to believe what he’s being “told”. We’ll see the images of what’s happened in the air around his head. As he turns, eyes searching the room, trying to gather his wits, we see Tyka herself, small and pale, slip into the backroom, looking uncommonly sober… she knows what has happened, what will happen, and she cannot interfere, though it pains her beyond belief.
Cut to the carnival – Jessa is leaning down to give Capri a stuffed bunny she’s just won. She straightens, frowning slightly.
Marcus, puzzled: “Jessa?”
Jessa, tense: “Something’s wrong.” She stands, eyes searching the carnival, taut and wary. “Marcus, Capri – we need to go home. Now.” She grabs their hands and they walk briskly toward the exit. Behind and parallel to them, we see a flicker of Hounds in motion – not seeing the actual Hounds yet, but that they’re there, tracking.
Cut to House Bartomn. It’s already a bloodbath, and Alanna’s giddy from bloodlust. Every Bartomni in the House is dead, most quite brutally. Ryan is visibly in shock. Kristian is maintaining. Alanna turns to a lieutenant – “Have they got that Tamrani bitch yet?”
Lieutenant: “Jessamyn?” Ryan visibly starts. Kristian places a cautioning hand on his shoulder.
Alanna, impatiently: “Yes, Jessamyn. The false Kithraya. We got the Bartomn – she’s now the highest priority.”
Lieutenant: “No one’s called in the kill yet, my Lishaya.”
Alanna, pacing, stalking: “Damn. Wish I had a video camera.”
Cut to the street – Jessa, Marcus, and Capri, walking very briskly. Jessa keeps nervously, hypervigilantly, checking the alleyways as they rush for home and safety. And there’s suddenly a quite deliberate crash from behind them. Jessa whirls around to see five Hounds at their back...
Jessa and her family are the next targets, not the only targets. Fenris is too late to save his Jessa; Halloran rescues Capri, but the Hounds have been sent out in full force. The lesson to be taught? Don't fuck with the Council. The lesson plan? Kill every member of Houses Tamra and Bartomn they can get their hands on, and everyone else who attempts to shelter or defend them.
The battle lasts from sunset to sunrise. The casualties are staggering; the population of the city is decimated. Shayara will never be the same.
Which is why no one pursues the lead that appears near-simultaneously in the piece in Shooting Star. Not for another four years.
Which is Where Our Story Begins.