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A Black Jewel has obliterated the longstanding Eyrien rulership of the Territory. As the Rihlanders begin to reclaim their homeland they do so under the stern gaze of their "savior". Three separate peoples struggle to both claim their own identities and become a unified nation, but old hatreds are difficult to shed.
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Author Topic: From the Darkness, Hope.  (Read 482 times)

Description: Attn: Adawolfa, Kalvar, Signe

Offline Evony Bos

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From the Darkness, Hope.
« on: Mar 11, 17, 06:24:33 PM »
It had taken all of two seconds to realize that she needed this puppy.  Not for herself, no.  Puppies were a mess, and messes were... aggravating.  Especially since she was just getting the keep where she wanted it.

No, this particular puppy was for a certain Black Prince.  If this didn't make him smile, she wasn't sure what would.  Well, Petra obviously could... but Petra would be leaving for Avorla soon enough.  So she'd spent her first bit of coin on it.  She'd bought a small strip of leather for its collar, and a bit of bedding for its bed... and she'd smuggled it back up to Ebon Varos.

Petra was giggling like a fiend as they readied everything.  She'd planned it out perfectly.  "Our gift to the Prince, Petra... for being kind enough to take us in, and for his willingness to stand for you at your ceremony."
"Aunt Ev..."
"Shh.  Everything will be fine, you'll see.  It's a lovely thing, Petra...  Truly it is.  There are no words for it."  She smiled, reaching out to gently pet Petra's face.

She'd considered simply leaving the puppy in Kalvar's room... but the thought of 'trespassing' without permission was too much even for her.  She was a courageous woman, sure... but she wasn't suicidal.  Mostly.  Usually.  Ok, she wasn't when it came to leaving the Prince a present.  For Petra, she'd do just about anything.  But that was an exception!

"Alright... let's go meet him."  She vanished the bedding, and the bowls.  And then she pet the puppy's ears.  "You are going to make messes... I will growl at you.  We will be friends, but expect the growling."

She grinned, winking at Petra as she giggled.  "Stay behind me, sweetling... we want it to be your surprise for him.  And keep him quiet."  She chuckled, starting for the door with the assurance she'd become known for.  The Hearth Witch had purpose... and people would not interrupt, or suffer the 'glare'.  Not that everyone was frightened of it yet, she was sure.

But there were enough who had found it easier to just get out of the way than to try to butt heads with her, especially when she was performing her duties.  The maintenance of Ebon Varos, and the acquisition of its needs, were her responsibilities.  She took them quite seriously. 

Leading Petra along the halls was still an exhilarating feeling.  Not having to hide the young queen was... unique.  And as she had known would happen, Petra had already wrapped many in the Keep around her little fingers.  Sten, for instance, could never tell her no.  Evony had caught him sneaking a sweet to Petra once or twice... but had pretended she hadn't seen anything.  Darkness knew Petra could use a little spoiling now and then.

Just before they reached the room that led to the Temple proper, she turned and double checked Petra's hair. 

"Aunt..."
"Shh.  We can finally look proper, so we will."  her fingers smoothed strands of hair back, she re-tightened the small braids... and then she leaned down to lay a kiss on her head.  "Beautiful as always Petra."
"You say that even when I'm covered in dirt."
"Yes well.. let's avoid being covered in dirt as long as possible."

Petra's giggle made her smile.  At last.  The ceremony was here, and they were that much closer to Petra leaving for Avorla.  it was a bitter sweet affair.  She straightened her shoulders, pushing the door open enough to allow Petra to come in behind her. 

"Prince Elbremov."  She gave a warm smile, and a small curtsy... and then the puppy barked.  Her lips twitched in amusement.  Petra peeked out from behind her, grinning at Kalvar.  "We got you a present!"  With little care for how things were properly done, Petra ducked out from behind Evony's skirts, walking with care to take the squirming puppy to Kalvar.  "He's a thank you gift."

Evony looked amused.  She couldn't even summon up the exasperation, even a facade of it, to tell Petra that she should have waited a moment. What eight year old would have the patience for waiting when a puppy was involved, anyways?  "Petra wanted to make sure you wouldn't forget about her when she leaves."




Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #1 on: Mar 17, 17, 02:49:44 PM »
In the underground shrine that served as the main place of ritual for the Rihlanders, Kalvar Elbremov stood silent. The High Priestess, Lady Sauer, was nearby, as was Lady Drachlan. The two were speaking among themselves but the winged Prince had his eyes closed and seemed to be focused on trying to take in the ebb and flow of the atmosphere in the dark cavern. Kalvar dove into the Darkness beneath what any of the women present could sense. For a while he lingered there, trying to sense out for something beyond his own boundaries. For a moment he thought he could sense something deeper than just his own mind. Something of the very earth calling to him.

But that thought was interrupted, his search stopped, by the sound of Petra's giggling. He opened his eyes and turned to greet them both. A soft nod came to Evony's presence and Petra's smile. He was calm and stoic at their approach.

The bark caught him by surprise.

Both of his eyebrows lifted slowly at the sight of a squirming, intensely cute little dog that wagged its tail quite happily, trying to lick at the little girl who was offering the dog to him. "I.." He began, his voice holding the note of surprise at Evony and Petra's gift. He was clearly taken aback, and for a moment he simply looked stunned.

Emotion swept across his face, and his golden eyes shimmered softly with wetness as he reached down and picked up the puppy gently in his weathered hands. "Thank you, Petra. I will never forget you, mark my words. And besides." He offered her a genuine, warm smile. "You are not going very far away for someone who can fly."

Turning his attention back to the puppy whom he held beneath its front two arms, he looked at the wiggling creature with great amusement. "What is.."

A stream of warm yellow flowed from the puppy onto Kalvar's chest, the puppy making its nervousness known as it urinated on the Black Jeweled Prince.

"Ah..." Kalvar said slowly, looking down, again seeming stunned into silence as he held the puppy at arm's length at his now wet jerkin. "...It seems you fed him breakfast already." For its part, the puppy did not look guilty at all, wiggling in Kalvar's grasp as it tried to look at everyone around it while it wagged its tiny tail.

Offline Signe Drachlan

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #2 on: Mar 17, 17, 03:27:03 PM »
Signe, mustering up every ounce of Queenly grace and restraint in that moment, did not laugh.

She had arrived for this momentous occasion dressed in a modestly cut sapphire blue dress covered in a feminine styled emerald green jacket. A thin belt of brown leather matched her heeled boots, which clicked out a steady beat as she descended into the underground shrine to meet up with Prince Kalvar and the young Queen who would become her ward.

She was, of course, not alone, though, for the moment, she only had one of her escort with her: her youngest son Willem. Her other, more official escort was waiting with the Coach and its driver. Signe had purposefully brought Willem to show that this was a personal, warm, family affair and not some cold, formal, Queenly function and also to introduce Petra to someone else who was still in training in the hopes of breaking the ice a bit more. Though Willem was a teenager, he was still puppyish in his mannerisms and often forgot some of the common aspects of Protocol in his eagerness to please. Signe had decided that it would be of mutual benefit to both youngsters to learn and practice together and on each other, with Willem serving as Petra’s escort for very minor things and Petra learning how to be Queen to a male in her care.

In her mind, it sounded like a wonderful plan. In reality, she prepared for it go awry in just about every way possible, since children were unpredictable and fickle.

And now she stood, near enough to be included in conversation but not so near as to seem as though she was interfering with the ritual, and Lady Evony had brought a puppy. It made the moment so very, very humorous, but Signe decided that laughter would have to wait, especially since she expected Kalvar to send the darling little animal away.

And when he didn’t, when he picked it up from the little girl’s hands, with all of those emotions flitting across his face, Signe had her first true glance of the vulnerable man named Kalvar and not the untouchable Prince that wore the Black she was so accustomed to seeing.

This was a man whose heart had been touched and could still be touched. This was a man who had loved deeply once and could love again. And that endeared Signe to him just a bit more.

That moment of epiphany was ruined, though, when the puppy peed all over that pristinely pressed jerkin. “Oh, my,” Signe breathed in surprise, her hand going to her chest, and then to her mouth to stifle another giggle.

She stepped forward, taking charge naturally, offering her hands up so that Kalvar's were not occupied by a bundle of fluff when he was truly needed for more important things. “Here. Let me take him,” she suggested. If Kalvar allowed it, she would take the puppy and wrap it in her jacket, preferring to sacrifice her own clothing, which she tended to ruin somehow with her gardening most of the time, rather than his. “Adorable thing,” she commented anyway, hoping that the Prince was not too upset over the mess.

Offline Adalwolfa Sauer

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #3 on: Mar 18, 17, 05:24:47 PM »
Adalwolfa didn't care for the Eyrien shrine.

She never would've said as much, of course. She hardly even dared think it, really. She knew that the shape of the altar mattered not, in the end. Whether it was buried beneath a cold and hostile mountain or out in the warmer vales of the valley, the All-Mother would hear and would respond with her riches. Adalwolfa knew that as surely as she knew up from down. It shouldn't matter, what the altar looked like or where it was. It didn't matter.

Still, she didn't like it.

If she'd spent a little extra time on cleansing the site before this event, then perhaps that was why. Her rituals had been doubled without cause this morning, just to try and make the unfamiliar more familiar to her. To, perhaps, try and imbue the holy site with some of the warmth and comfort that she knew to be available in the embrace of the Mother. A child's Birthright Ceremony was not a difficult thing, but it was an important thing. For many children, it was their first real taste of communion, and it could set the tone for how they regarded all things spiritual for the foreseeable future.

That it was a little Queen who'd be dipping her toes into those deep waters made the day a particularly joyful day, in Adalwolfa's mind. When Lady Drachlan arrived, Adalwolfa took the opportunity to introduce herself and chat with the foreign Queen and her son about their experiences so far until the others arrived.

Though Adalwolfa was already smiling warmly in anticipation of greeting Evony and Petra, her smile broadened merrily at the sight of the puppy. She did not stop to consider the strangeness of offering such a "present" to a man as somber as Kalvar, but was at once enamored with the wriggling ball of fur that was passed to the Prince. She took a step towards the Prince, intent on offering a greeting and commentary to the young Queen, but the puppy's sudden purging of his bladder stopped her at once. Her eyes widened and her hand lifted to touch her mouth, though it was in part to try and keep her smile from re-emerging. Signe swept past her to take the dog from the dampened Prince, and Adalwolfa appreciated the woman's lack of hesitation about the matter. Of the lot of them, she hadn't expected the Glacian Queen to be the one unafraid to get her hands dirty, but she respected the revelation.

"We have plenty of time," she pointed out to the Prince, once Signe had the puppy. Though Adalwolfa didn't manage to keep the entirety of her smile off her face, it was at least subdued to something very mild. "There is no harm in waiting for you if you would like to go and change, Prince."

Whether he chose to do so or not, Adalwolfa wouldn't mind either way. She'd move towards Evony and the child then, with a warm smile back in place.

"A very thoughtful gesture, my Lady," she said, to the young Queen, even as a hand reached out to touch Evony's elbow lightly, a friendly gesture. "It's lovely to meet you both. I am Lady Adalwolfa," she explained, pausing to glance to Evony to make clear that the greeting was for her as well. She smiled, inclined her head with a touch of respect, then sank down to a crouch in front of the little Queen.

"Are you excited about your Ceremony today?" she asked, trying to gauge whether the child had any fears to assuage before the event.







Offline Evony Bos

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #4 on: Mar 18, 17, 05:43:36 PM »
Evony didn't so much as flick an eyelid when the puppy lost his bladder.  She simply sighed, closed her eyes for a moment, and then forced a smile on her face.  "Don't worry, Prince.  I'm quite good at removing stains of various sorts from clothing."  After all, she'd grown up on a farm.  It was amazing just how much dirt and... fluid... her brother had gotten on his clothes while working with the horses.

She'd once found urinal splash all over his left leg.  Apparently he'd been tired, and not noticed that hte horse was relieving itself.  Her eyes crinkled at the memory... and then she quickly wiped her expression away before it could melt into the old sorrow.  This was Petra's day.  She was not going to taint it with despair and mourning.

Her lips twitched as she heard Petra giggling though.  "Aunt Evony said we shouldn't name him, since he will be yours.  That's your job, Prince Kalvar."  There was that giggle again, and Evony reached out to settle her hand on Petra's shoulder. 

"I have bedding and the like for him tucked away, Prince Elbremov."  Her eyes turned towards the High Priestess, and the Queen.  The Queen... her heart pounded for a moment, though no one would know it to look at her face.  That had to be the Queen that would be taking Petra.  She looked her over, studying for a moment.  Fair skin.  Pale eyes.  This woman was lovely, poised... Evony approved.  Especially of the way she'd bundled the puppy up, who was already starting to look far calmer and ready to cuddle.  Wrapping them up, after all, made them warm and secure.

Her head turned towards Adawolfa at the touch, eyes widening a little.  Just for a moment.  She wasn't used to it anymore.  Anyone other than Petra touching her was just... odd.  But it earned a smile anyways.  Her head dipped in acknowledgement of the greeting as Petra reached out to snag Evony's hand, gripping tightly.  The girl was afraid. Evony could FEEL it in the tightness of her little fingers.

"Aunt Ev says that it's a special and wonderful thing... but..."  Petra raised her eyes, studying the Priestess' face.  "I'm... a little afraid of the Dark."  Those bright blue eyes peeked at Adawolfa, as if trying to determine whether the woman would laugh.

Evony's heart clenched at it.  She could have rushed to explain that.  Could have told them of how often she'd had to leave Petra in a dark cave with no light so that she could try to find food and not let Petra's scent hit the open air. Could have told them of how Petra was always in tears when it happened... but she didn't.  This wasn't the time... and frankly, she didn't see how it was important that everyone know.  So her hand squeezed back, just a little.

"This Darkness is different, Petra."  She said it quietly, her eyes moving to the altar. 

She studied it, noted how clean it was.  The air had that still quality she'd only experienced twice in her life.  It wasn't as if her family had been overly religious.  There had been the two major ceremonies, and the shrine they'd used hadn't been nearly so grand as this one.  Her eyes went upwards, studying the ceiling.  A little touching up would likely be necessary... but not today.

Today was not a day for work.  It was a day for Petra.


Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #5 on: Mar 18, 17, 07:08:49 PM »
The Black Jeweled Prince was, for a moment, stunned still. Whether he was restraining his anger or simply did not know the proper thing to do, there was a sign of relief that came from him when Signe approached to relieve him of the puppy. He nodded silent thanks to her and shook his head slowly at Lady Sauer and Lady Bos's offers to help him. "I am fine. I have raised five children. A little urine will not unmake me."

Slowly Kalvar reached forward and began to unclasp the buttons of his jerkin. He drew it off of his body, revealing the toned and muscular form of a man who had spent a lifetime as soldier and farmer, his wings spreading out to allow him to take off the article of clothing. He folded the jerkin slowly and then handed it to Evony, his eyes focusing on her for a moment. "I will trust it is returned to me soon."

He turned his attention then to Signe, his hands reaching toward her. "You can give me the puppy, Lady Drachlan. I will take him upstairs and put him away while I change."

Once she did so, he would pet the puppy gently on the top of its head, scratching behind its soft furry ears. He offered a smile back down at Petra, his tone warm. "He is a very good gift. I will think on a name. I will be right back, Lady Petra."

With that said, he moved to depart, heading toward the stairs as his large wings folded behind his shirtless back. The astute could hear him saying quietly to his new companion that 'you are a very bad dog' without anger, and perhaps.. a thread of amusement to his voice.

Offline Signe Drachlan

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 17, 02:03:15 PM »
Signe whispered words about behaving to an animal that would not understand them with a fond smile before she relinquished the puppy, still wrapped in her jacket, back to Kalvar. She brushed the stray dog hair off of her blue dress, laced her hands again in front of her, and returned her attention to the matter at hand: the little girl named Petra.

She was a darling child, Signe decided. A bit wild, as children could be, but nothing that maturity and education would not smooth out over the years. Signe raised her gaze to Evony while Adalwolfa and the girl spoke. Her expression was compassionate, maternal, polite. Evony’s bravery would not go unnoticed in Signe’s mind. It took a great deal of courage to relinquish guardianship of a child to another, and to a stranger, even more courage was required. Courage and perhaps a bit of desperation, given the circumstances, though Signe did not feel this was a desperate move, merely a very wise one. As Kalvar had said, this young girl had the possibility of being the next Territory Queen.

Placing their hopes of a future in her fragile, childish body seemed inconceivably foolish. But Signe was prepared to do just that, almost as easily as she had placed hope in her own children.

Signe came to join Adawolfa in front of the young Queen. “Yes,” she echoed Evony calmly. “This Darkness is different. I think that you will like it.” After saying that, she offered her hands, palms up, to the little girl. “I am Signe Drachlan, little Sister,” she introduced herself, her smile warm and welcoming. The rest of the delegation used titles. Since she and Petra were of the same rank, though decades apart, Signe dropped that little formality in order to appear both approachable and to give Petra her first subtle lesson about being a Queen: they were all Sisters. “I am the Queen of Avorla and I will be your guide in these next few years.” She did not saying guardian or mentor or anything that suggested Signe would lord her authority over little Petra, though there would certainly come days when Signe would put her foot down about something. She kept this first interaction light and easy, for removing a child from the only family she had left was a large step in itself, on top of the Ceremony that was to come.

Mentally tapping Willem, she said, “And this is my son, Willem. He will also be your guide and your escort.” The lanky teenager stepped forward shyly, but his face broke out into a smile when he looked down at Petra.

“Hello,” he greeted. Then, belatedly remembering himself, he bowed deeply and added, “Lady.” Signe’s smile became maternally fond. She rose gracefully and took a step back, letting Adalwolfa take charge of what was to come next, as was her right as Priestess.

Offline Adalwolfa Sauer

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 17, 07:39:20 PM »
Adalwolfa watched as Kalvar passed the puppy off to Signe and then passed his soiled jerkin off to Evony. The idea of holding a soft and wriggling puppy against bared skin like that made her smile a little, wistful memories stirring about in the back of her head. But Kalvar turned then to head upstairs, and Adalwolfa's field of vision was dominated suddenly by the black leather of Eyrien wings. The smile vanished and she dropped her eyes. She allowed herself a beat to reset, and to push away all of the feelings associated with such a sight. Kalvar was not those Eyriens, and now was not then.

Thankfully, Evony and Petra were focused on Signe while the Queen gave her introductions, and by the time the Queen stepped back and Adalwolfa crouched to introduce herself, she was smiling warmly once more. Petra confessed to being afraid of the dark, and Adalwolfa's expression softened further.

"Can you keep a secret, Lady Petra?" she asked, something gamine in her eyes and smile. If the child indicated she could, Adalwolfa would lean forward and whisper something in her ear. She then leaned back, and gave the girl a nod and an affirming look.

"But today you will learn the same thing I learned," she said, quietly enough that it might seem that she was speaking only to the little Queen. "That in the Darkness is Mother Night, the All-Mother. She cares for us the way that your Aunt Evony cares for you. She wants us to be healthy and strong. To help us, she gives us gifts when we go looking for her in the Darkness."

She pulled a long, silver chain out from beneath her blouse then. At its bottom, a smooth, round White Jewel hung, plump and whole. The chain was long enough that she could offer it forward, for Petra to inspect if she wished.

"This is one of the gifts she gave to me. I have always thought it is very pretty, myself. And when you leave today, you will have one of your very own. A gift from the Mother that will stay with you always, so that you will never be alone. She will always be with you, and you will always have that gift from her to remind you." She let the Jewel hang long then, and smiled once more at the girl. She leaned forward a little, and her expression turned a touch conspiratory.

"The best part is that she doesn't mind if we're afraid. As long as we're brave in the face of our fear, she will meet us there in the Darkness, and she will be kind."

Offline Evony Bos

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 17, 08:17:12 PM »
Evony had already taken the jerkin and used a bit of her Rose to remove the fluid from it.  She'd then set about running her fingers over it, eyes closed as she began to work at removing the scents and discolorations.

Her eyes cracked open, moving to watch as Adawolfa spoke with Petra again.  She would never get over the protective nature she had, she was certain of it.  But she watched the way that Petra's face glowed, and the smile that spread across her face.  She watched as Petra stared at that pretty white stone, and clutched at the bottom of her shirt.

"Do you think mine will glitter like that?"
"I'm sure it will be absolutely lovely, Petra."  Evony smiled, settling on her heels to look at her.  The jerkin was resting on her leg, her head tilting to the side as she grinned.  "Just like you.  Priestess Sauer is going to take very good care of you, I promise."

With a deep breath, she rose to her feet and turned to face Signe.  She'd finally come to a decision regarding the Queen and her role in this situation.  "Queen Drachlan.  Thank you... for everything.  As you will be helping to raise my niece... I would hope that you will join us in the circle today?"  Her eyes flicked to Willem, an almost impish look crossing her face for the moment.  But then she glanced back at Signe, straightening it into something a bit more serious.

"You do realize they are going to make your hair go white together, don't you?"  She knew her niece... and she knew little boys.  Her brother had been hell at times... not that she'd been any better.  Still, she remembered it with a pained fondness.

Her eyes went back to Willem, and she gave him a knowing grin. "Be careful, young man.  My Petra can be a bit wild, and trying to corral her can be very very difficult."  She winked, patting hte man's shoulder.  "So.. good luck.  Really."  She set her attention back on the jerkin, running her hands over the wrinkles until they'd been smoothed out.

There... she'd gotten his jerkin back to pristine condition.  It was a very good thing she had a good batch of cleaning supplies in her cabinet though... or she'd have had no where to put all the... fluids.  "Also, don't forget to make her clean up her own messes.  She does, in fact, no how to do so."


Offline Adalwolfa Sauer

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 17, 04:24:26 PM »
"It will be," Adalwolfa nodded with a warm smile, confirming Evony's assertion that Petra's Jewel would be lovely. The Priestess lingered in her crouch while Evony and Signe spoke, and she quietly answered any lingering questions the queenling might have about the upcoming ceremony. When Kalvar made his way down down to the altar, Adalwolfa gave the child's hands a final, reaffirming squeeze, and then rose to her full height.

"If everyone is ready, we'll begin." She gestured to the three adults (and Willem, if he was participating), and prompted them to arrange themselves into a line, shoulder-to-shoulder, facing the altar. Most Rihland children were educated on this process before the day came, but Adalwolfa tended to go through the steps aloud for the sake of the child's comfort. There was also a chance that the unorthodox upbringing of this particular child had prevented her from learning as she normally might, so it seemed especially wise to take things slow and clear. She assumed that both Kalvar and Signe had witnessed a Rihlander Birthright before, and Evony had surely been through her own. Still, it felt natural for Adalwolfa to explain aloud as she brought Petra to stand before Evony, the Priestess' hands lightly on the child's shoulders as she stood behind the little Queen.

"Each of the people gathered are here because you are important to them, Lady Petra," she began to explain. "Each one will play a very special role in your life, and part of that role is to stand here with you while you reach out to the Darkness for the first time. Before we begin, it's traditional for each witness to wish you the luck of your ancestors, and to remind you what their role in your life will be."

Adalwolfa nodded to Petra with a quiet smile, indicating that she'd finished for the moment. Once Petra said what she wished to the girl, Adalwolfa would escort her down the line to give each witness a chance to do the same.


Offline Evony Bos

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 17, 06:34:09 PM »
She smiled, settling her hands on Petra's shoulders before leaning down to look her in the eyes.  She didn't say anything, not right away.  But she did lay a kiss right between her eyes.  "I am with you, from now to the end, queenling.  Your family has always been strong, and stubborn.  You'll do fine.  I know that your parents are proud."  She grinned, flicking Petra's nose gently before squeezing her tight. 

She remembered her own nervousness during her birthright... and she hadn't had the same stresses then.  She could only imagine how strange this must be to the little one... how lonely to not have her grandparents and her parents with her.

Evony could only do the best she could to attempt to fill that hole. 

She straightened up, adjusting her own shirt a bit better while she tried to blink away the shine in her eyes.  She couldn't spill tears... not yet.  Tonight would be a better time.  After Petra went to sleep, when she could sniffle and remember in peace without the guilt of knowing that she'd upset her niece.

Mother, please bring her solace.  I know we don't talk much... but please.  If anyone deserves joy, it would be Petra.

Her fingers slid over her lips, eyes moving to the altar.  She wasn't the sort to pray very often.  It just wasn't in her nature.  But she would do so now.  If Petra could find some solace here... if she could find something that would ground her through the years to come, then Evony swore she would make a better effort at it.

Offline Signe Drachlan

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 17, 12:02:10 PM »
After Evony, Signe stepped forward and offered her hands to Petra, with her palms up, indicating through Protocol that she was supporting the younger Queen by such a simple gesture. Her smile was warm and maternal. “Little Sister, I wish you great success on this endeavor. Know that when you emerge, no matter what the Darkness decides for you, you will find allies and guides in my family to help you on that road.”
 
Signe’s gaze swept to her son Willem, the lanky youth that he was, indicating that it was his turn to speak. While he stepped forward to imitate his mother’s actions by offering his hands to Petra with his palms up, he did not manage half of her eloquence. “Lady Petra, I um...I’m Willem Drachlan and...I will be serving as your...um...escort...and I...I wish you luck and...I...I hope that we can be friends.” The last sentence was rushed out by a bright, eager smile, the kind that children often gave to each other to indicate there was no deceit in their words, just bumbling eagerness to get on with play.
 
Signe knew he would eventually grow out of it so she did not correct him...much. **Well done,** she told him gently. **We will brush up on your wording and delivery another time.** Willem nodded his head meekly in response but his gaze remained fixed on Petra. For a moment, Signe wondered if there was something else going with her son beside just this casual meeting. She would keep a careful eye on the rest of his interactions with the little Queen and review it later.
 
With a firm nod towards Willem, the pair stepped back to let the next witness offer their wishes towards the little girl. Signe found herself idly wondering if she was witnessing the start of something great, something akin to the birth of a star that would one day illuminate the darkness like no other. She dismissed that thought before it grew too long in her mind. She must focus on this task one day at a time.

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #12 on: Jun 05, 17, 01:21:02 PM »
Kalvar had returned from placing the puppy in his room and gathering a new shirt. When he returned he did so with a small lamb that he wrapped with a sound shield to prevent its bleating from interrupting Lady Sauer's duties. Kalvar had been present for each of his child's Birthright and Offering Ceremonies, and the religion of the Rihlanders was one that he deeply loved and admired.

It may have surprised his High Priestess in that moment to see that he had come prepared for a traditional Rihlander ceremony of great importance, having brought the animal, knife, and bowl that was appropriate for such a momentous thing.

Stepping forward, Kalvar was the first to lead the others in the words for Petra's future. The normally downcast gaze of the Black Prince of Rihland looked skyward, his wings spreading as he lead the animal to the altar, holding the knife to the sky.

"Mother Night, who is our All-Mother, you who bless us with bountiful fields, with strong beasts of burden, with our Jewels and your Craft. You who give us so many blessings, provide one further to this child, Petra Bos, one of your most blessed Queens.

Ancestors of the Bos, may your strength make Petra's heart firm, her blood pure, her vision clear, and her spine as strong as steel. May she rule with the wisdom of the All-Mother. May she be as just as the untipped scale. May she attract only the loyal, the strong, and the true to her side."


His wings lowered from their expanded, grand form, and he lowered the knife and slowly turned it to offer the handle to Adalwolfa, his eyes once more going to the earth as he bowed his head respectfully toward the High Priestess of Rihland.

He held the animal firmly, stroking its head as he prepared it for its part of the ritual, and used his strength to support Adalwolfa's duties.

Offline Adalwolfa Sauer

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #13 on: Jun 07, 17, 11:00:51 AM »
Content warning: animal sacrifice

Adalwolfa was indeed surprised. Since having come to Ebon Varos, there had been no mistaking that the place was an Eyrien palace. Kalvar had never expressly forbid her from observing the rites of her people, but she felt like he had, for some reason. Maybe it was the presence of the cold, inhospitable-seeming altars when she'd been so accustomed to open sky and warm, green fields during her worship. Even in the cold season, when the snow covered the ground in the valleys, there was a vibrancy and energy to those sacred places that these stone altars couldn't muster. She had continued to practice as she'd pleased in private, or in personal ceremonies she held for the benefit of other Rihlanders, but Kalvar-the-Eyrien had never been present for these. It was jarring and unnerving to watch him lift up his blade to the Mother and call down the blessings of both her (as the All-Mother!) and the child's ancestors. Such prayers seemed dissonant to the Priestess when paired with the grotesquely Eyrien spread of his wings.

He turned and offered Adalwolfa the knife with a bow of his head, and then readied the lamb. Adalwolfa's eyes dropped to the sweet creature, and she felt her spirit thread off almost and whisper silent prayers of thanks for its life, for its sacrifice, for the honor it gave to this Queen's Offering. She reached both hands out, one to accept the hilt of the knife and the other to gently stroke the animal's head. Turning, she led Kalvar back towards the alcove created by the altar, and gestured for him to place the lamb there. She placed the bowl on the stone beneath the creature, and then smoothly opened its throat in one, practiced stroke. The knife was appropriately sharp, she was pleased to discover, and so the cut was easily deep enough to prevent the sheepling from screaming or crying out as its life drained from it. Had she been of a mind to allow such thoughts to interfere with her meditation during the ritual, she would not have approved of Kalvar's sound shield prior to the lamb's death. Part of the sacrifice was meant, in Adalwolfa's view, was meant to be the cognizance of the supplicant that a life was being silenced for their benefit, for their petition to the gods. But she wasn't thinking of that now. Now, she was whispering old words over the fall of the lamb's blood, and praying that the animal's spirit would watch over Petra and bless her.

When the blood was spent, Adalwolfa set the lamb aside. In the time before, the animal would be cooked and shared among the participants, and the ceremonial mead would be passed around, and the night would pass in raucous celebration. A pang of something forlorn assaulted her, perhaps nostalgia or simply sadness that this Queen's life was already so different than that of even her most recent ancestors. Of all Rihlanders, a Queen should have always been clothed with the love of so many blood relations that she couldn't count them all. Petra's family had been stripped from her, and now only the desperate threads of her Aunt's love now saved her from nakedness and solitude.

But the Rihlander people were strong. Difficult as her life had been, difficult as it yet would be, Adalwolfa knew the little Queen had enough already to guarantee that she would succeed, if the All-Mother saw fit. Adalwolfa reached for that faith, and used it to bring forth the joy that was due such an auspicious event as a young Queen's Birthright. She turned (as tending to the lamb had momentarily put her and Kalvar's backs to the Queen in question) and settled the bowl atop a small pedestal positioned before the altar. She closed her eyes and dipped her fingertips in the warm offering, and imbued it with strength from the Darkness itself. Once done, she walked a circle around the altar, enclosing all those gathered within it, and sprinkled the blood along the path she walked. She finished in front of Petra, and gave the child a warmly reassuring smile before gesturing for her to bow her head. If the child obliged, Adalwolfa would flick a sprinkle of the blood over her head as well. She then returned to the altar, where she dribbled the blood more liberally over an iron basket filled with tinder and herbs. She paused there, with a glance to Kalvar to allow him the opportunity to set the offering basket ablaze if he liked. If he hesitated, she would do it herself without comment.

Once the fire was burning, Adalwolfa set the bowl aside and burned the blood from her fingers with Craft. She gestured for Petra to come forward, and she guided the child to kneel before the altar, then knelt at her side. She spoke quietly to the girl, shielding her Chalice while guiding her in how to focus herself and reach into her inner well, how to descend into the Darkness and seek out the touch of the All-Mother.

The ceremony would last as long as it would last. Only when the Darkness had summoned a Jewel to the child's hands would Adalwolfa cease her silent prayers and protection. Once it was done, the Priestess would congratulate her and assure the child that she was free to show her treasure to her Aunt. 

Offline Evony Bos

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #14 on: Jun 07, 17, 04:00:27 PM »
It took a few hours, but Evony stood straight and watched.  Her heart settled into a steady pulse in her chest, her veins, her ears.  The quiet murmuring of Adalwolfa as she guided Petra in her first communion.  Evony could still remember the magic of her own.  Sometimes she regretted not being more spiritual, more faithful... but there had been no time for it, really.  Between the farm, the tithes, and eventually hiding Petra...

She set her hands together, fingers touching her lips as she closed her eyes.  She settled into the Rose Depths, seeking that sense of 'peace' that had eluded her for over two years now.

And finally?  Finally she found it.  This was the right path.  She wasn't sure how she knew it, but she knew it.  The Dark Mother was taking care of Petra, in her way... and Evony felt as if she hadn't been a complete failure.

Sure, she hadn't been able to educate Petra on any Protocol, or ... much of anything most of civilization would value.  But she'd taught her to be strong.  She'd taught her how to survive adversity.  She'd taught her strength of will and heart.

It was with a few blinks that she realized there was movement.  It was with a bright smile that she looked at Petra and saw the Opal held in small trembling hands.  Carefully she knelt before her, reaching out to curl Petra's fingers over her Treasure. 

"It's beautiful, Petra... and so are you."  She wrapped her arms around the girl, holding her tightly.  No one in her memory, for her family, had ever had a Jewel so dark.  Petra had been Blessed... and the weight of it registered on Evony's shoulders.  Now, even more than before, she agreed with Kalvar.

Petra had to be trained by someone who knew what she should be, what she would become.  Signe was here, the Queen of Avorla had come for Petra's Birthright... and her heart pounded.  It was becoming real, the idea that Petra would be gone soon.

But it was right.  It was for the best.  At least, that's what she kept reminding herself.  "You make me so proud, Petra."

Offline Signe Drachlan

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #15 on: Jun 13, 17, 11:51:08 AM »
She had to admit, though just to herself, Prince Elbremov knew ritual and knew how to appear a bit larger than life. The wings, most definitely, assisted in that, but as Signe listened to him speak words that some Priestesses had so cautiously whispered in years past, she felt a swell of pride and rightness. She might disagree with him on some of his politics but he was, for the most part, a good man and a good ruler. Rihland would prosper in the shadow of those dark wings.
 
Signe was not squeamish at the sight of blood but she did avert her eyes during the moment Adalwolfa slit the dear lamb’s throat, preferring to internally murmur her own prayers to Mother Night in that moment, silently adding her strength and support to the little girl at the center of this ritual. She could feel Adalwolfa summoning power as she walked the circle sprinkling blood and looked in that direction right as the High Priestess blessed Petra with those crimson drops. The basket of herbs was lit and the ritual began in earnest, with the Priestess leading Petra into the psychic depths to commune, while the adults kept silent, anticipating vigil around.
 
Willem fidgeted a few times during those hours but luckily it only took a momentary glance from Signe to still him again. He was fixated on Petra and it was his movement that caught her eye first since she had cast her gaze downwards to pray quietly. “She did it,” she heard him whisper, the naked hope on his face a curious sight.
 
Signe made a note to speak to her son but she already had a fairly certain idea that little Petra had acquired her first bonded male. The corner of Signe’s mouth twitched in amusement. Eight years old and already the little girl had a Purple Dusk teenage protector. This would be an eventful decade to come.
 
Regally, Signe raised her head as Petra turned to reveal her Opal Jewel. Pleasant surprise registered in Signe’s eyes. “Beautiful, indeed,” the Queen agreed with Evony. “And quite a blessing.” She stepped forward to offer her own congratulations to the young Queen, sensing now more than ever, how challenging this path would be but how rewarding as well. She squatted to be at eye level with Petra, her smile warm and welcoming. “What a wonderful Jewel, dear Petra. My sincere congratulations! We shall make certain it gets a beautiful chain and housing to hold it.” Signe would let Kalvar and Evony decide upon that.
 
With her congratulations given, Signe stepped back to let Kalvar and Adalwolfa take the lead. The lamb would need to be cooked and Signe had no doubt that there would be a grand feast afterward to celebrate. Perhaps she should have a word with Willem beforehand. No, she would save that for another, more private time. The boy would do nothing reprehensible, she was certain. He just had an eagerness about him that was much like a puppy. Signe imagined that Petra and Willem would be quite a handful together, once they figured out how much trouble they could cause in the Drachlan household.

Offline Adalwolfa Sauer

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Re: From the Darkness, Hope.
« Reply #16 on: Jun 13, 17, 07:16:03 PM »
Adalwolfa allowed herself a moment of rest while she watched Petra show her new Birthright to the other women. She smiled warmly despite the heaviness of her eyes, and the way she leaned back against the altar. Offerings and Birthrights always took alot out of her in any case, something she ought to have considered before doing extra cleanses on the altar, earlier. It was a silly mistake to make, but no harm had come of it, in the end.

Kalvar took up the lamb, which surprised her. She watched him do so, and was fairly speechless to hear him explain to the others that now was time for the celebratory meal. If she hadn't been so tired, the thing would not have struck her so oddly. As it was, she turned away from the rest, busied herself with extinguishing the brazier and cleaning it to obscure the way her eyes suddenly wanted to dampen. She chastised herself again for allowing herself to get so tired. It wouldn't do to be weepy while the child was celebrating.

In short order, the lot of them relocated to one of the dining rooms up in the castle proper, and were treated to lamb chops, courtesy of Kalvar. Between the Queen, the hearth witch and the children it was a lively meal, full of hope and hearty food. It was a fitting end to an auspicious Birthright, one that perhaps had given them all a glimpse into the future of the land of Rih.