When the Imperial messenger first arrives and tells him, oh-so-politely, that his darling little brother has committed crimes against the state and is slated to be executed, he finds himself torn by many equally powerful emotions. The first is the desire to laugh wildly until he cries, head thrown back as the sound booms out around him, almost joyous. The second is to punch the man before him hard and knock out a few of his teeth, because how dare the bastard he has been forced to call his sibling do something so heinous to hurt the family name, and he needs to hit something before his heart explodes with rage.
The third is to smile politely and bow and close the door and go and tell his sister the news so that they might handle damage control together. While celebrating, of course. It was hard to decide if this was good or downright terrible, so they might as well treat it as both.
In the end, he settles on option three and makes carefully sure to close the door gently as he does.
They spend that night making calls and smoothing out the repercussions over several bottles of something sweet and old and expensive, and they both end up drunker than they would have liked, which ends about as well as one might expect, but that is perfectly alright. A little bit of wine is always a good thing after a night of damage control and sleeping with your sister to celebrate your brother's impending death.
(even though that last is entirely the fault of the drinking and the way that Vallye flushes a delicate pink when she gets even a tiny bit of alcohol in her system)
Indeed, all is going well until they end up in the Imperial Palace for the hearing the next day and learn that there has been a change of plans, for the Emperor has always been a pragmatically opportunist man, and who better to make an ambassador to heathen lands than a man slated for the death penalty, anyway? The sweetness of getting to keep his life would only make him more inclined to do his job well, after all!
It won't. It won't. And Skeed knows this, even if the Emperor does not. It takes all of his self-control to keep his temper reigned in, which is only made more difficult by the hangover, and he fights his hardest to appear utterly deferential and subservient (playing the role of the lowly man before the great Emperor has always chafed him) when he requests that he might see his brother before he is shipped off to Diadem. Of all places.
Death was an acceptable end for such a fool -- maybe even a beautiful one, all things considered, since it is justly deserved. Exile is not is not is not. Exile is for those who have sinned and yet actually deserve to keep their lives.
Lyude doesn't. Lyude is like the dirt of the feet of the Azhani and he doesn't.
Skeed stalks down the endless hallways to the cell in which his brother has been left and absolutely does not let his anger show, for he will not reward the scum he calls brother by giving him the satisfaction of seeing that his actions have had any effect on his family at all. Will not. Will not.
Instead he opens the cell door and walks in gracefully, almost quietly, and kneels to haul the heap of human in the corner upright. Straightens the limp head and pushes all that filthy hair out of the way.
Smashes him across the face dispassionately and tells him, voice frozen, exactly what he is worth.
Lyude does not respond at all beyond the briefest fluttering of his eyelashes, because he knows that it is true, all of it, and that he deserves this scorn and the exile that awaits him. Skeed sneers down and slaps him until blood starts to trickle from his nose and out from between his lips, and then drops him hard against the floor, kicks him once in the gut, and leaves without looking back.
Vallye awaits him, expression impassive. They walk in step together and leave the Palace in no hurry at all, while far behind them and deep underground, their little brother bleeds out on the stone floor and cannot even find it in himself to cry at the pain and shame.