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* Plot Information for Dena Nehele

With the full force of the Guilds at her back, Rilandra Vlas seized the Territory Throne of Dena Nehele. The common born Province Queen now owes allegiance to the Master of the Guilds for his assistance in both securing the throne and securing Darcia Glassade's continual safety. Trapped between the demands of the Guilds and the demands of the Aristos, Riley is struggling to rule, finding the palace more of a cage than she could have dreamed possible.
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Author Topic: Owning Up  (Read 300 times)

Description: Attn: Riley

Offline Sorinna Roman

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Owning Up
« on: Aug 09, 17, 02:58:42 PM »
This thread occurs the day following Moesian White, Tulzbruja Red, late in the day.


You are responsible for every action that you take, right or wrong. Never forget that.

Sorinna Roman believed that more than anything else. She was the product of her actions, right or wrong, active or passive. Those actions (and inactions) not only defined her, but reflected upon Riley and the Court that Sora was raised in. They also reflected on the Queen that Sora would eventually become, showing all who interacted with her, regardless of station, how she conducted herself. She’d stopped Quinten and Kale’s prank from ruining Riley’s party and her chance to show the Aristos her quality. Without Prince Cutrov’s aid, her reputation might have been damaged, making it harder to find common ground with them. Mother Night was with her last night.

That did not cancel out the fact that she’d failed Quinten, Riley, and the Court in the first place.

She’d been up half the night after Gabri left working on her apologies, and there would be many. Riley, for nearly damaging her attempt to make peace with the Aristos. Prince Cutrov, for embarrassing him in front of the same. Ladies Adam and Genadie for having to corral Quinten and Kale, rather than her. Traien, for what they’d done.

Even Radu, for having to spend the night with them without Sora.

And then there was Quinten himself, whom she’d put in that position through lack of knowledge.

She hadn’t seen her newest male today, so focused was she on repairing the breach she’d caused. She’d enjoyed breakfast with Gabri because it was a brief (too brief) respite from the storm of thoughts flowing through her mind. Gabri, for all that she was new, was a source of comfort that helped Sora get through the morning despite her lack of sleep. She’d had enough coffee to for three people by now, but the fatigue lay at the edges of her mind waiting to claim her.

You don’t have to do all of this right now, Sora.” Marius said, his expression grim. He’d wanted to march right over to the room and explain to Quinten, in detail, how he’d fucked up. When Sora mentioned that Prince Orfan wouldn’t tolerate harm coming to the boys, Marius relented, though he grumbled something about Prince Orfan staying out of his way if he wanted to keep breathing. It took some time to calm her ferocious Warlord Prince and Sora was glad, deep down, that he took such umbrage on her behalf.

All the same, it was better that she’d sent Cezar to broker her request for a meeting with the Territory Queen. Rather than assume that Riley would see her, Sora displayed her apology by presenting herself as one Queen would to another: she made an appointment and waited to be summoned. Cezar returned to tell her that Riley was busy at the moment and that Traien was nowhere to be found. There was someone else in his office, though, that Cezar had never met.

That was 8:30 this morning.

The clock struck eleven and there was still no word.

Marius asked after any mail for her and returned with a letter from Mihael. Sora read the letter several times, enjoying Mihael’s scent and his flowing, beautiful handwriting. She missed him, even though she worried about his business in Raej. She distracted herself from her worries over Riley by writing him a letter. Marius chuckled while Cezar helped. She’d almost forgotten the depth of her terror when Riley’s voice came to her on a thread.

Sora, we need to talk.

Riley’s tone did not sound like all was well.

It was noon when the thread came. Sora immediately asked when Riley could speak with her and received no word for at least another hour. The White Queen began to pace the floor. Cezar wanted her to relax and eat something. She did so, only because Marius insisted until she gave in. She could only imagine how Quinten would react. He was naturally skittish. Between the stronger personalities of Marius and Cezar, he might actually faint again.

It was nearly two in the afternoon when another member of the Third Circle advised Cezar that Lady Vlas was in the garden with Chauncey, awaiting Sora. The young Queen steeled herself, put on a blue cotton dress, and suggested that Marius go and relax for a bit, thanking him for worrying over her with a kiss on the cheek. He grumbled something about how stubborn she was, but there was no heat in it. Cezar escorted her to the garden and remained a respectful distance away as she approached Riley.

Riley, who looked like the spade in her hand would soon find a home in Chauncey’s skull. Or stomach.

Tavi, Chauncey’s lemur, was in view and the pair were trying to convince Riley to sit down and eat something, also known as Making Riley Take Care of Herself. Sora didn’t have to imagine how difficult it was; she’d seen enough evidence of it over the years to know that he’d have an easier time draining the ocean with a straw.

Lady Vlas?” Sora called out, choosing to open with respect and Protocol so as not to anger the Queen or her male. Mother Night only knew that Sora had messed up enough in the last twenty-four hours. She wouldn't add to it by being flippant or overly familiar in what could lead to a punishment for Quinten and, possibly, herself.

Do you have a moment? I’d like to speak with you about last night.” Sora said, drawing herself up to her full height. She would face Riley as a Queen and offer her an apology as a Queen. She would deal with the fallout from this as a Queen.

She would own her shit, as she’d told more than one person in the past.

Starting now.


Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #1 on: Aug 11, 17, 07:47:24 PM »
The day just kept getting fucking better.

Not only had Riley gone straight from no sleep to meeting with three hormonal teenage males, one of whom was one of the verge of a rut for Night's sake, she had then learned that the Guild Master had conveniently chosen her new Master of the Guard for her, a Jack she was no more than acquaintances with, firing her brother in the process. Riley understood that Keels had a certain amount of control over matters at the Territory level, but this?!

She knew exactly who she was making a deal with when she spoke with him about arranging Darcia's safety and Guild support of her rule. She held no illusions as she watched her Circles fill with an ever increasing number of Guild Members, as she felt his constant presence through Celina, as even this morning she explained to the boys that she was all that stood between he and them.

And yet choosing someone for her Triangle for her, without consulting her or even fucking telling her, letting her find out when she went to seek Traien out to deal with Radu... it had riled her more than she really wanted to admit. After leaving her new Master of the Guard, she found Traien, and then Celina. She didn't want to talk to anyone else, or deal with anything else today, but at the very least, she needed to talk to Sora.

And of course Chauncey had come to find her, luring her with the promise of some time in her garden. Darcia's garden. She had relented, knowing that some time with her hands buried in the dirt would be good for her. She had just picked up the spade and gotten to work when Chauncey had told her it was time to break for lunch. She didn't need lunch, she needed some fucking peace and calm. She turned on him, anger flaring behind her eyes, easing only when she saw Tavi's sweet face. That damned lemur. She swore the fuzzy creature was the only thing that kept her and Chauncey from each other's throats more often than not. They hadn't known each other more than a matter of minutes when he had recklessly blood bonded them, binding them together for ever more, like some Dena Nehelian folk tale. The fact that he happened to be the Guild Master's son only complicated the Hell out of everything further.

She felt the gentle feel of Sora's White and she turned quickly to the young Queen. She looked more pale than she should and Riley worried that the apology she had demanded of Q either hadn't been delivered or hadn't been well received. "Sora," she breathed, her voice still sharp with the annoyance she held with Chauncey for his tricks and just the day in general. "Thank Darkness. You're the first reasonable person I've seen all day."   




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #2 on: Aug 11, 17, 11:27:59 PM »
"Thank Darkness. You’re the first reasonable person I’ve seen all day."

Sora hadn’t expected those worse from the Territory Queen. She’d readied herself for annoyance, even anger, from Riley. She’d steeled herself to look into Riley’s eyes and find candid disappointment. Last night’s near-disaster could have had Riley in any number of ill moods that would have spilled over into her interactions with others. Sora figeted nervously, her hands clutching the fabric of her dress before she reminded herself that she was an adult and here to own up to her mistakes.

She forced herself to be still and hear what Riley had to say.

I hope you still feel that way in a few minutes.

Sora curtsied properly before rising and taking a pair of steps toward Riley.

I am so sorry for what happened last night.” she said, eyes downcast while she tried to remember everything she’d spent all day preparing to say. When she was little and afraid that the smallest mistake would make Riley cast her out, before she understood Protocol and manners, her apologies to Riley involved a lot more crying and clinging to Riley’s leg and begging her not to send her away. She was twelve when it finally kicked in that Riley wasn’t going to toss her out on her ass or force her to go to Dhemlan and live with her mother. The idea of living with a woman she barely knew in a land she’d never seen was far more terrifying than being sent back to Lesser Caecian to foster with a family she didn’t know. Dena Nehele was her home, because home was the place where her father lived.

I explained to Quinten, ahem, Lord Heartly, that last night was important but I didn’t impress just how important it was. I didn’t know that he and Kale would do what they did, but that’s not the point. It was my duty to prepare him and make sure that he understood. He is mine and that makes him my responsibility.” Sora said, looking up at Riley now.

When I speak to him, I will make certain that he understand how his actions reflect upon this Court. But I understand that my actions, or lack thereof, also reflect on the Court.” she said.

Therefore, I’m here to accept discipline for my failure. And I know that I have no right to ask you for anything right now, but…” she paused, taking a deep breath to steel herself.

Please don’t send Quinten away. I’ve barely gotten a chance to know him but I think he can taught. Kale, too. I’ll abide by whatever you decide, but I need a chance to help them. They haven’t had the same chances I’ve had. Based on what Prince Orfan told me, they haven’t had it well at all.” Sora said.

So if you let me, I’m going to educate Quinten on the new life he’s a part of and what’s expected of him from now on.


Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #3 on: Aug 12, 17, 12:51:37 AM »
Riley listened to Sora, priding herself on not interrupting for the second time that day. Hell's Fire, the girl was going to hang herself by her own sinews if Riley let her. Yes, males reflected on their Queens. She had just snarled those very words to Q this morning. (Was that just this morning?!) But Sora couldn't be held responsible for a childish male she had only just met without any proper training or proper sense. At least, not if Riley had anything to say about it.

When Sora finished, she pointed at the table with the spade. "Sit." She exhaled, sitting down herself, accepting the approving chitters from Tavi while glaring at Chauncey. It wasn't fair really to be mad at him for trying to lure her into eating. Night knew she needed it, she just had so much frustration and no where to properly put it, not unless she wanted to track down Keels and scream at him. She decided against mentioning that option to Chauncey. He had been through enough without needing to think of his father and his Queen coming face to face again.

Riley sighed, before grabbing a few grapes and popping them into her mouth. "He's not going anywhere. As of this morning, he and Kale are both officially wards of this Court. And he was supposed to find you to apologize. If he doesn't, let me know. He needs to own up for his actions. And if he can learn how to do that from anyone, it's you, Sora. I'm really fucking proud of you."

She poured herself a glass of water and one for Sora as well. "Are you hungry?" she asked, motioning to the spread of food as an open offer, while still somehow managing to ignore Chauncey. If she looked at him right now, she knew he would likely be smiling, having won this particular battle with his stubborn Queen. Since she didn't feel like smacking him, she just didn't look at his face.

'Yes, he's yours, and yes, what your males do reflects on you. But what you did reflected even more. That was quite a piece of Craft, Sora. People were impressed. I was impressed. If you still feel you need to apologize, I accept, fully. But really, I feel like it's more appropriate for me to be thanking you than you saying sorry." She tossed a piece of fruit to Tavi, then ate another handful of grapes.

"No, Q is staying right here. You, however, are going somewhere."

She tore off a chunk of bread and layered a meat and cheese on top of it before tearing it with her teeth and chewing slowly. When she swallowed, she finished the thought. "Draco has only just brought his niece to Moesia, and she doesn't really know anyone yet but you. I'd like you to return to Moesia with them, spend some time helping her acclimate. Cezar and Marius can go with you, of course," she said, raising her voice and tipping her head back to look at Cezar, feeling the small spike of emotion from the male who stood a respectful distance from his Queen.

"For a few weeks, maybe? I know it will be hard to be away from Q, but it'll give him a chance to focus and adjust. And you and Gabriella seemed to get along well last night." She took another bite of and chewed, waiting for Sora to reply.




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #4 on: Aug 12, 17, 01:38:13 AM »
Sora took the seat indicated immediately, noting the spread of food on the table. Somehow, she was hungry again (or still hungry, as she’d only picked at her food earlier) and she really wanted to sit down and eat with Riley. She couldn’t, though. Riley hadn’t given her leave to do so and, more importantly, she was here to accept whatever punishment Riley felt was appropriate. She’d do so and hope that Riley would still talk to her as more than a Queen afterward.

When Riley said that Quinten wasn’t being sent away, Sora visibly relaxed and let go a sigh of  relief. She felt like crying when she said that Q and Kale were both Wards of the Court as well. Where previously it was just her, now she had Radu, Quinten, and Kale to help acclimate to Court life. They were all rough around the edges and needed a lot of polish to mold them into proper members of the Court, but now they’d receive it. Better still, they were now under Riley’s protection; anyone who dared to try to hurt any of them would learn just how much power Riley’s Court held.

Thank you, Riley. I appreciate that.” Sora said, her voice a low whisper and she looked down at the floor. She composed herself after a moment and looked up at the Territory Queen. Only now did Sora realize just how tired Riley looked. Not just from her exertions in the past twenty-four hours, but overall. Eleven years ago, Riley might as well have been ten feet tall and shielded with the Black, so much larger-than-life did she appear to a young half-breed Queen with nothing to her name. Riley was strong, confident, and she ruled Tulzbruja Province fairly. Even in those first dark days after they met, Sora imagined that she would someday be as strong and as powerful as Riley.

Now Riley was thirty-two and in the summer of her beauty. She was the Queen of Dena Nehele and the burdens that came with the job were visible for one who knew how to look. Yes, she was the most powerful Queen in the Territory, but there were rumors that she never slept anymore. When Sora counted back the number of times she’d found Riley having coffee at two in the morning, or Riley had found her, Sora believed it. Outside of this very moment, Sora couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen Riley actually eat anything despite seeing her on a near-daily basis. It frightened her to think that Riley wasn’t taking care of herself or that no one was making her.

I haven’t seen him yet, but I plan to. I had breakfast with Lady Robles this morning and I’ve been waiting to speak with you since then.” she said. She accepted Riley’s offer to eat, just because she wanted Riley to keep eating. Taking up some bread, meat, and cheese, Sora made herself a neat little sandwich and ate while she listened to Riley.

She blinked, though, when Riley expressed her pride. The long, slow blink was accompanied by a pause in her chewing, and then a genuine smile. Sora resumed chewing before speaking again.

Thank you, Riley. I got the idea from sparring with Prince Orfan, believe it or not. He used the dust in the gym to blind me. When I saw the glitter, I got the idea. I’m just glad it worked.” she said, pausing a moment.

Speaking of apologies, I owe Prince Cutrov a huge one. And Lady Genadie. And Lady Adam. And Prince Traien, too.” Sora said.

So yes, the apology tour will keep on rolling after I speak with Quinten.” she said.
 
No, Q is staying right here. You, however, are going somewhere.

Sora blinked, then took a bite of her sandwich to keep her from saying something to ruin Riley’s mood. Riley was sending her away with the Moesia delegation and Sora took a moment to process it through the mind of a Queen. Riley wouldn’t lie to her about being impressed with her quick thinking, but that didn’t mean that everyone forgave what happened at the party. If Riley still had fires to put out in relation to the prank, having Sora around probably wasn’t the best idea. And yes, Quinten needed some time to get his head on straight. The Bond overwhelmed some males and threw their center out of focus.

Quinten was already skittish enough without feeling obligated to be near her. He also had to figure out how to balance the Bond against his friendship with Radu and his relationship with Kale. It was an important time in his life. She wanted to be here with him and she nearly begged Riley to reconsider.

She didn’t.

Quinten’s well-being was more important than her needs right now.

I understand, Riley. Seeing Moesia would be an excellent experience. Lady Robles was very kind to me last night. She kept me from losing it when I saw that Quinten and Kale were behind the glitter-bombs. She’s pretty great and she knows a lot about Dhemlan. It’s just so weird that she lived there most of her life and I’ve lived here all of mine.” Sora said.

She knows more Dhemlanese people than I do.” Sora said, with a small laugh.


Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #5 on: Aug 14, 17, 06:14:35 AM »
Riley stiffened when Sora spoke of sparring with Radu. Of course she had been the one to encourage it. It was important for the Warlord Prince to get used to being around Queens and of course important for Sora to learn about Warlord Princes her own age who didn't have the kind of training most of the males at Court did. She had never imagined that Radu would then focus his rut on the Queenling. She was so vulnerable to so many things outside of Riley's control. If anything happened to her that was in part or total because of Riley, she'd never fucking forgive herself.

She didn't blame Radu, but she was pissed about the situation. Hopefully Sora being a Province away and a lot of extra attention from Sway would help him deal with what was coming. Because she would do anything possible to keep Sora safe, and if it came down to Radu's life or Sora's, there was no question who she would choose.

It wouldn't. It wouldn't come to that. Sending Sora to Moesia was ensuring it wouldn't. She was doing what was necessary, even if it was confusing to Sora as to why. But she didn't need to know. And her males definitely didn't need to know. They'd never let Sora and Radu in the same space again. She needed there to be peace among her wards and that meant never letting Sora know what was burning through Radu's veins.

She nodded at her comments about the ongoing apologies. "That's good, Sora. Just don't beat yourself up too much. Sometimes a 'thank you' works just as well if not better than an apology." Too often apologies were used when what was really needed was appreciation. Riley understood the need for Protocol to help balance the strengths of caste and Jewels, but she also felt that the Blood in general would do better if they actually spoke openly and didn't hide behind Protocol so fucking much.

Sora shared information with her about the Purple Dusk Queen. Dhemlan. She'd been in Dhemlan. Well, that would certainly explain how Draco had manifested her out of thin air. He literally had. She hadn't even been in Dena Nehele. If she could make it through, have her descent, she stood the chance to be the darkest Jeweled Queen in the Territory. Dena Nehele needed that, desperately. She just hoped that Draco hadn't brought her back to soon.

"Dhemlan! Well. You two certainly have a lot to talk about then, don't you?" Riley hated the idea of forcing a friendship on Sora she didn't want. But she also needed the company of other Queens. Riley and Moesia had each other, no matter how much they fought, and Riley had been close with Darcia, too. Sora didn't have any Queens her own age. It mattered. She hoped Gabriella could be the answer to more than one of her problems.

It wasn't fair to place so much on the girl's shoulders. But this was Dena Nehele. There really was no other option.

She tore another bite of her food with her teeth, silently amused by the differences in the way she and Sora approached their food. Sora's neat little sandwich didn't even stain her fingers, while Riley's approach left her messy and her fingers covered in oil. Yeah, Sora definitely needed time with others. Riley couldn't be everything to the girl, and she was so close to being of an age when she could set up her own Court.

She was about to take another bite when one of the maids came outside to the garden's patio where Riley, Sora, and Chauncey sat and Cezar lurked nearby. She curtsied to Riley before handing her a letter, and then turning to leave. Riley eyed the letter like a snake that might bite her. With the way things had gone over the last 24 hours, it would likely be a declaration of war as anything else. She sighed. "Do I have to open it?" she asked to no one in particular.




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #6 on: Aug 14, 17, 12:20:59 PM »
She smiled when Riley talked about how a ‘thank you’ sometimes meant more than an apology. Sora understood that and resolved that she would not only apologize to the people affected by Quinten’s actions, but that she’d also thank them for not tearing him into small, bite-sized pieces for his temerity. She was still angry about the situation, but that initial spike of anger had now faded into disappointment. Gabriella’s (were they already on a first-name basis in her head?) presence dulled the sharpest edges of her anger. This trip to Moesia was a surprise, but not a bad one. It didn’t feel like an exile or a dismissal from Court. It was really a chance to learn and meet people she wouldn’t know otherwise. The loss of her father, hard as it was, had opened her world beyond the borders of the town where she grew up.

She couldn’t wait to tell Gabriella.

Right now, though, she needed these moments with Riley.

You know...I wasn’t sold on Prince Cutrov when you mentioned him. He just seemed like an odd choice. When I heard that he was joining the First Circle, I was pretty surprised about that, too. But last night changed some things.

Riley, he told me to drop that glitter on his head. I almost lost it and got you both, but he told me to dump it on him. Gratitude and apologies are great but he took a hit for you.
” Sora said, a little embarrassed at her petulant reaction toward his demand that she drop the glitter on him. He was looking out for Riley’s party. He’d also saved Quinten and Kale, by extension, from a far worse punishment.

For someone who isn’t bound to you, he seems incredibly loyal. Which doesn’t really jibe with all the rumors about him. Can’t judge someone by their past, right?” Sora asked rhetorically, taking another bite of her sandwich. Despite having eaten twice today, she was still extremely hungry. She finished the sandwich and collected a few grapes, eating those as delicately as she could manage. She was a Queen, after all, and even in a place as private as this, she couldn’t just claim the entire tray and devour it...no matter how much she wanted to.

Sora was about to ask another question when Kara, the maid, arrived with the letter for Riley. Sora poured herself a glass of water and greeted the maid by name, as she usually did. One of the first things that Riley impressed upon Sora was the value of knowing people’s names, no matter how important they were or how unimportant they seemed. Calling someone by their name was a show of respect and demonstrated uncommon grace and respect for others. Most Aristos never bothered to learn the names of anyone except their allies or their enemies. Regular people were just people who cooked their food, mended their clothes and cleaned their homes. Sora swore she’d never be that kind of Queen when her time to rule arrived.

Lady Robles can tell me things about Dhemlan that I haven’t read.” Sora said, a sad smile tugging at her lips.

For a moment, when she introduced herself last night, I had this irrational hope that she knew my mother. I know it’s silly. But for just a second, I thought...nevermind. It’s stupid. Lady Robles is wonderful, though.” Sora said, remembering the gentle kiss that Gabriella had placed on her cheek. They were both a little buzzed from the Bourbon that her uncle had given her, but it was one of the things that Sora remembered most about last night aside from her anger about the glitter.

Riley groused about the envelope the maid left and Sora grinned. 

If you’d rather not open it, I can do it. Maybe it’s even good news for once! Like a ‘thank you’ letter. Or it could be someone complaining. Might even be both.” Sora said, shrugging.


Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #7 on: Aug 14, 17, 08:01:22 PM »
Riley stared at Sora for a moment. Drake had told her to drop the glitter on him? She'd seen him later in the night while she let the Aristo bastards drone on about whatever the hell thing they seemed to care about that mattered to her not at all. Even after what was clearly a concerted effort, he had still shimmered in the light from the glitter.

He'd chosen that? Sora had it right: he's taken a hit for her, and it wasn't one she could easily repay. Drake confused her at times. He seemed to enjoy her company as much as she enjoyed his. They could talk for hours. And as many nights as not, she fell asleep curled in his arms. But they'd never had sex, never really done anything more than making out, and he didn't seem in any hurry to change that. It was a strange thing for Riley to not have a sexual relationship with someone close to her, the only precedents she really had were Adrian, who had basically raised her, her brothers, and Jeremiah, who might as well be her brother.

But still, Drake took a hit for her. She'd been considering asking him to be her First Escort for a while, and last night seemed to have solidified that he was the right choice. "Sora... How would you feel if I asked him to be my First Escort? It's been in the back of my head for a while, but you're right. He's extremely loyal, and last night was only the most recent example."

She took another bite of food before turning to the feeling of Chauncey. "Don't you start," she said. "You know you don't want the job. And it really should be an Aristo who can help me navigate this cluster fuck of a Court." Her words were blunt, but she did reach out her free hand and place it on his thigh, the most of an apology or acknowledgment he'd likely get from her.  He's been good, patient, with the introduction of both all the new people in her Court and in her bed.

But there was a reason she couldn't name him Consort in truth. She needed more than he could possibly give her on his own, and she needed someone who could help her through the kinds of challenges she now faced. Drake could do that. And he'd been so honest and up front with her, her trust in him deepening each day.

She listened to Sora's answer before giving her own about the envelope. "By all means," she said. "Knock yourself out." She paused for a moment, considering her words. "Not...literally. Please," she said. She'd had enough excitement to last get the next year.




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #8 on: Aug 14, 17, 10:44:21 PM »
Sora’s surprise showed on her face. Dragos Cutrov, Prince Wineskin, as First Escort of Dena Nehele? Sora was all for more Tulzbrujans in Bidea, but the Red Prince had baggage. Sora didn’t know everything about him. She really only knew the rumors and none of those were good. Sora was quiet for a moment while she wrestled with her answer. In the end, it wasn’t her decision to make. She did, however, try to see things from Riley’s perspective and understand her thoughts. Prince Cutrov was an Aristo who was on her side. A Dark Jeweled Aristo who was on her side. He had land and knew other Aristos who might be brought over to Riley’s cause.

He wasn’t bad-looking and he was a childhood friend of hers.

He’d also allowed himself to be humiliated for the sake of saving Riley’s party. On paper, he sounded like the perfect choice for a First Escort, minus the drinking and the womanizing.

And yet Sora wasn’t sold on it.

Sora spared a glance for Chauncey to see his thoughts on the matter. It couldn’t be easy or comfortable to listen to your Queen talk about replacing you with a male who wasn’t bound to her. Her eyes moved to Cezar, who watched Sora with undisguised interest. She smiled at him and tried not to acknowledge  the way the Prince’s gaze warmed her skin.

Be careful, Riley. I don’t know Prince Cutrov, but you do. If you think he’s the right choice, I support you. You did just bring him into the First Circle, though. Do you think he’s willing to move into that position? First Escort is a huge responsibility and not everyone wants it.” Sora said.

If he’s ready to support you the way that Prince Dumitrescu and Prince Traien are, as your Steward and Master of the Guard, then you should bring him aboard.” Sora said.

With that topic addressed, Sora held her hand out to accept the letter. She opened it, a faint scent of orchids and spice wafting away from the paper. Sora drew back slightly as she tried to hold on to that scent for a moment longer.

That scent…

It was familiar.

Sora removed the parchment and set the envelope on the table, the took a deep breath.

Lady Rilandra Vlas…” Sora said, prepared to read the letter.

And then she went silent.

Sora’s eyes read the letter once, twice, three times in full. Then she read it a fourth time, slowly, meticulously, because she was unable to believe what she read. She was silent for the better part of five minutes before she all but shoved the letter back towards Riley. Her expression might as well have been carved right from stone and set onto her face. She did not look at Riley, but away to her right and towards the ground.

Nope. Nothing good.

Just a load of bullshit.



Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #9 on: Aug 14, 17, 11:34:13 PM »
Riley listened to Sora's opinion of Drake. It was why she asked, after all. She had some points, but nothing Riley hadn't already thought of or taken into account. She knew his reputation. She also knew her own. The Bitch Queen and the Lush Prince. What a pair they would be.

Prince Traien. Sora didn't know yet. Well, of course she didn't know yet. Riley had just found out herself when she had gone to speak to Trai and found Sebastian Bane there instead. Because Keels knew better than she did. Selling her soul to the Guild Master of Dena Nehele apparently wasn't enough. His price continued to rise. She shouldn't be surprised, but she was damn annoyed.

Sora opened the letter and began to read, and went quiet as she scanned the words. Riley grabbed another handful of grapes and said, "Sora, about Trai. You should know. He's not my Master of the Guard anymore." She sighed heavily as she spoke. This was not the way she had wanted to do this.

"I've been watching him struggle at the Territory level for a while, but last night it became really clear. I was going to go talk to him but... well, it doesn't matter the specifics. Prince Sebastian Bane is now the Master of the Guard. I haven't worked with him solidly before, but he kept up with me this morning in a foul fucking mood, so I'm going to say that..." she trailed off, noticing that Sora had gone terribly still.

She watched her ward. She could still see the serious child she had been when she had first come to Riley's custody in the features of the young woman who sat before her. She had grown so beautiful. It was always jarring for Riley to remember that Sora would look like she did now basically for the rest of Riley's life. She would never see her age more than another year or two, never see her mature. And Sora would outlive everyone she knew in Dena Nehele.

When Sora shoved the letter at her, she snatched it up quickly but her eyes stayed on the other Queen. She couldn't remember ever seeing that expression on Sora's face before. She quickly read the letter. After the first few sentences, fire burned through her veins, visibly heating the air around her. Her hand on Chauncey's leg sank deep into his muscle. He didn't protest, simply came to attention. After the next paragraph, Riley's lips had raised in a snarl. By the end, she was softly growling without even realizing it. Distantly she was aware of Chauncey's Green shield raising up around her body but it didn't even register. What she felt was the plummeting fury of a wrathful Queen plunging to the full depth of her strength.

Riley's eyes slowly glanced at Sora. Green. Good. 

All the glass in the vicinity shattered. The glasses on the table. The glass doors that led back into the palace. The glass tray that held an array of meats and cheese. Like splinters of light, they sprayed in all directions.

She was too tired. It wasn't worth trying to hold her temper, not after everything that had fucking happened. No. She couldn't go after the Guild Master, and she wouldn't take things out on Radu, or even Q and Kale. But the person who brought this letter... that was someone who she could unleash her wrath on. 

She stood, dangerously still, sparkling slivers of glass coating her shielded body. "Cezar." Her voice was hard, all the lightness gone, the tiredness wiped away and replaced with a vibrating fury set to the tone of struck steel. "Someone brought this letter and is waiting for a response. I want her brought to me right fucking now."




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #10 on: Aug 15, 17, 12:14:38 AM »
Sorinna Roman was good at memorizing. She often counted and memorized the number of steps between two places. She’d picked up that habit on the night her father died, counting the number of steps she’d run away from her house. In her eight year-old mind, that knowledge was important and would help her somehow when she went back to help her father. Of course, she’d stayed hidden behind that tree stump for the better part of a day until Riley had found her and coaxed her out.

Remembering things was a breeze after the worst night of her life. So memorizing the contents of her mother’s letter to Riley was as easy as breathing for her.



Lady Rilandra Vlas,

I hope this letter finds you in good spirits. My name is Maria Petra Verduzca de Ilbeda of Dhemlan and I hope that this letter also finds my daughter, Serena Maria Roman y Verduzca alive and in excellent health. I understand that the politics of Dena Nehele is difficult, but I wish to thank you for your years of custody over my sweetest Serena.

There are things I would discuss with you regarding her future and I will do so upon my arrival in Bidea in one year’s time.

Here in Dhemlan, I am a Priestess and perform the rites and rituals of our people on a regular basis. I have been unable to participate in Serena’s life prior to now, but I would like to use my time in Bidea wisely. As such, I ask not only to be present for Serena’s Offering Ceremony, but I would perform it myself in order to guide my daughter through the ritual and to watch her during the night while she attains her full strength in the Abyss.

Serena has spent her life in your Court and under your tutelage. Therefore, I am approaching you with my request first. The bearer of this letter has a second letter meant for Serena’s eyes alone. She will surrender it upon Serena’s request. I also hope that I may beg the indulgence of your Court and allow this bearer to spend time in Serena’s company. I would like my daughter to learn of her people from a woman of Dhemlan, rather than a book or by word of mouth.

Lady Vlas, I hope you will consider and grant my request.

I look forward to meeting Lady Serena, and you, in one year’s time.


I remain,

Maria Petra Verduzca de Ilbeda


Sora didn’t even know where to start.

Fortunately, she didn’t have to.

There was a change in the air of the room, something that Sora wouldn’t have picked up on if she hadn’t known Riley for eleven years. The Queen of Dena Nehele was as famous for her anger as her sexual prowess. She’d punched people out in open court, engaged in street fights, and generally wasn’t afraid to fight her own battles, figuratively and literally, without relying on her stable of males to do so. Riley did not often let Sora see just how angry she could get, but with all the stress she’d been under for the last few weeks, Sora knew that a blow-up was in the works.

All it took was a glance at her mother’s letter.

Glass shattered and Sora actually did throw herself to the floor. Later, she’d realize that Chauncey shielded her from harm. He saw it coming. He knew his Queen well enough to know when her rage had been provoked. Cezar also threw himself to the ground and crawled as quickly as he dared toward Sora, his own Yellow shield erected around his body.

Only when the sound shattering glass and shouts of shock and fright ebbed did Sora dare look up.

Maria Petra Veduzca de Illbeda certainly knew how to get a reaction.

She looked to Riley, who commanded Cezar to go and find the bearer of the letter. Sora just nodded in agreement before Cezar looked to her, before he could ask if she was okay. The Tiger Eye Prince got to his feet and headed inside the palace as quickly and efficiently as possible to find the person who’d brought this letter.

Cezar was just glad that Marius wasn’t here.

Marius was the kind of Warlord Prince who would actually kill the messenger.

Sora got to her feet and dusted herself off. She wanted to make some kind of flippant comment, wanted to find a way to defuse the tension in the garden but she was flailing. Her mother had finally remembered that she existed after nineteen years. And she was coming to Dena Nehele to do Sora’s Offering Ceremony.

Riley’s anger boiled off of her in waves so dark that Sora almost felt like she couldn’t breathe under its weight.

What a day.” Sora said. She remained standing, not sure if something else would shatter or explode before Riley calmed down. Cezar went to retrieve the messenger.

Whoever it was would be fortunate if Riley apologized after she broke bones or worse.


Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #11 on: Aug 15, 17, 12:40:47 AM »
Riley wanted to destroy something.

No, that bitch who abandoned her daughter didn't have a right to suddenly announce that she would be coming into Bidea for Sora's Offering. The very fact that she knew where her daughter was, knew that she was now at the Territory Court, meant that she had been keeping tabs on both Riley and Sora. Watching form a distance but never having the fucking decency to write a single fucking letter to let Sora know she was alive, or okay, or that she gave a single fuck about her daughter.

The daughter who watched her father die. The daughter that STILL had nightmares. The daughter that Riley had taken in, raised, shielded, taught everything she possibly could. That cunt didn't get to just send a letter and announce that she would be there for Sora's Offering. Riley had half a mind to have Sora go through her Virgin Night as soon as possible and do her Offering shortly after, if only to spite her fucking mother.

But these were Riley's feelings, Riley's anger, Riley's rage. And Riley wasn't the one who mattered right now. Yeah, if that bitch thought that she was going to let Sora hang out with a stranger sent with no notice from Dhemlan, she was wrong as fuck. She could learn things from a woman of Dhemlan. Or at least a girl. She could learn from Gabriella. That was enough. If Sora wanted more, then that was on her. But this unannounced arrival did not deserve a Courtly welcome from either Queen, and it sure as Hell was not changing her plans to send Sora to Moesia for a few weeks.

Sora had to get out of here. She couldn't be here when Radu hit Rut. And this bitch was showing up at the worst possible moment if she expected anything from Riley but a half dozen broken bones.

Riley stared at the now empty doors, the frame of which Cezar had politely closed despite the glass having been blown out of the middle. She stood still, not for the first time that day, fury radiating off of her. She needed to ask Sora a few question. But she didn't take her eyes off the Palace, didn't ease her stance or ask Chauncey to lower the shields.

"Sora. I need to know a few things." She tried to not let her anger lash out at the White Jeweled Queen, to keep it focused like a beam forwards, but there was no mistaking the whip crack of her words or the sharpness of her tongue. "Do you wish to speak with this woman or would you like me to speak for you? Do you wish to spend time with her, which will not be happening right now as you already have plans, or should I send her away at once? Do you wish to read the second letter?"

She took several deep breaths, trying to at least ease back from the full, pounding force of her Opal. "I will follow your lead, unless you need me to stand for you. It's your choice. Just know, whatever you choose, I have your fucking back."




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #12 on: Aug 15, 17, 01:15:31 AM »
Sora loved Riley the way a small child would love and idolize an older sibling. Riley had been both sibling and surrogate parent over the years, standing up for Sora and standing by her when she couldn’t stand up for herself. Her first years in Riley’s Court were hard and filled with the growing pains of a Queen and a Queenling trying to define their roles for themselves and each other. All told, it could easily have gone so poorly as to make Sora and Riley enemies, rather than family. Sora felt fortunate that things had gone well, for the most part.

But this day was always coming. Neither woman would admit it, but they both knew it. So long as her mother lived, Sora knew that her mother could someday step out of the realm of concept and into reality as a person with her own goals, thoughts, and feelings. Riley would support Sora’s choices where Petra was concerned, but those choices would be Sora’s choices and not Riley’s. For a moment, though, she wished that Riley would just take control and shut her mother down cold. Tell her not to show up in a year because she wasn’t wanted, the same way she didn’t want Sora.

Riley was still trying to protect her and Sora loved her for it.

But whether it was her mother or her father’s murderer, Riley couldn’t protect her forever.

I’d like to speak to this messenger. I can’t imagine that she paid a random person to deliver a message and wait for a response, let alone to stay and get to know me.” Sora said.

That tells me that this person is someone who know sher. I need to know what kind of people my mother is surrounding herself with if I want to get a read on her.” she said, looking to Riley.

I’ll read the second letter eventually. Right now, I’ll just ask for it and then vanish it. I’m afraid that if I try to read it now, I’ll lose my temper. I don’t want to do that in front of a foreign representative. I’ll grant this person the respect that they deserve within the bounds of Protocol and start there.” she said, taking a tentative step toward Riley. She would reach for the other Queen, laying a hand on her shoulder gently.

Thank you for always standing up for me, Riley. It means more to me than you’ll ever now. But we always knew this was going to happen, didn’t we? Either she’d show up here or I’d go there. At least this way, I have a better shot at controlling what comes next.” she said.


---


Cezar made his way through the palace as quickly as he could under the circumstances. The maids had diverted their energy from their usual tasks to clean up the unholy amount of glass that littered the floors of the palace. Cezar had lived here for several years, but it was only know that he understood just how many windows this place had. He’d never seen Riley that angry or felt Sora get that upset before.

The idea of shooting the messenger sounded better every second.

He eventually made his way to the foyer, encountering a member of the Castle Guard he recognized. He expected to see Prince Traien nearby but no such luck. Cezar would have liked to speak to the older man about everything happening right now and hear his thoughts.

The guard admitted him into the foyer and Cezar blinked when he saw the Dhemlanese woman waiting within.

Over the years, Cezar had grown to imagine the long-lived as variations upon Sorinna’s beauty. He expected an exotic-looking woman. He expected the dark hair and golden skin. But this woman’s skin was a shade of gold that Sora wouldn’t be able to match without an obscene amount of make-up. Her hair was so black than Cezar thought was looking upon a curtain of liquid shadow.

Her eyes were such a deep gold that Cezar now understood just how out-of-place would look in Dhemlan. It was even more jarring than seeing Sora standing among a group of Dena Nehelians in a single place

His Queen was not one or the other. She was simply something else.

Excuse me, Lady.” Cezar said, clearing his throat. He had dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was tall and broad-shouldered, wearing black pants in a white button-down shirt.

I am Prince Urzica. I was told that you are the one who delivered the letter for Lady Vlas. She will see you immediately.” he said, leaving no doubt that he meant right now.

I will escort you to her.

Cezar turned and gestured toward the door, trying to ignore the expression on the visitor’s face. Something about her was unsettling and it took Cezar merely a moment to pinpoint it.

This woman stank of Black Widow.


Offline Amina Nieto

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #13 on: Aug 29, 17, 09:02:35 PM »
Amina knocked lighting on the office door of the Headmistress of the Academy, waiting patiently for the verbal position to enter even though she had already received a summons.  With her graduation from the Academy, she had been pondering her future choices.   She hadn’t really wanted a court appointment, especially not with any of the court representatives who had come sniffing around those who would be eligible for appointments and positions in lower courts for further training and while a few of the males seemed interested, the females didn’t like the fact she refused to bow and scrape for the scraps that they thought she was worth.  To hell with them and their asskissing sychophants; let one of her classmates take those places.  She would rather just stay at the Academy, maybe take a position as an instructor.  She had already been in the process of penning some letters of request to the Coven as well as the Headmistress herself when she received a summoning to speak to her.

A call  from behind the door had her slowly entering.   The Headmistress sat behind her large ornate desk, two envelopes placed before her.

“Amina, thank you for coming.  Please have a seat,” she said warmly, motioning with her hand to a chair.  Whatever she wanted, this was an official meeting.  Amina took the offered seat, folding her hands in her lap and trying to put on her best “good behavior” face.  As much as her classmates and age peers might annoy and disgust her, Amina did have a great deal of respect for the instructors and other faculty of the Academy who seemed to appreciate her skills and talents.

“Lady Belona, what can I do for you?” she asked politely, “I was a little surprised to receive your invitation.  I had been meaning to request a meeting with you to discuss a few things, so I’m glad you did summon me.”

Lady Filomena Belona, Headmistress of the Academy looked across the desk at the young Black Widow.  She had spent the morning looking over her records, her commendations by her professors and instructors and members of the Coven.  She had wanted to know what sort of young lady she was and why specifically she had been requested for this task.  It seemed odd to have a Black Widow sent for such a task when it would usually have gone to a young man, perhaps an Escort-in-training.  Not that she would send the witch alone, having already made some inquiries as to who would be a qualified and proper Escort to cross Territory lines.

“There has been a rather… unusual request and you have been asked for a very specific task.  Now usually this would not be something that a woman of your background would have been suggested for, but the person in question was very taken with you and thought you would be the best person to send on this errand.” Filomena leaned forward, folding her hands on the papers before her.  “There is a young Queen, well she’s about your age actually, who has spent the last several years in the Territory of Dena Nehele under the wardship of a strong Queen there.   Her mother is a Priestess of Dhemlan, an associate of mine who has lectured frequently here at the Academy.  You were in attendance to one of her lectures and made quite the impression.   I’m certain you remember the course that you partook in last year, Collaborations between Castes: how the Hourglass could use their skills in webs and poisons to enhance the workings of other witches?” Filomena didn’t wait for a response, the question being purely rhetorical.  “Lady Verduzca noticed how keenly you took to the course and showed a level of skill and maturity that some of your classmates have yet to achieve.   When she heard that you had recently completed your coursework and would be looking for placements in courts, she wrote to me requesting your assistance with her daughter before you left our company.”

Amina frowned slightly.  She remembered the course, it had been rather informative but she wouldn’t have ever thought that she was adept at anything relating to the course, particularly because collaborations with anyone were nothing she would want to claim any proficiency in.  Also, she didn’t recall the Priestess who led the course having shown any sort of specific interest in her as well, focusing more on some of the more affluent and well connected of her classmates.    “What exactly is the Lady looking for?   I wasn’t even aware that she had a daughter, she never spoke of her,” Amina said carefully.   If this Priestess was so well regarded by the Headmistress, why didn’t this daughter attend the Academy as well?

Filomena slid a letter across the desk towards the young Black Widow, waited for her to unfold it and read it before speaking.  “She’s requesting that you deliver a letter to the Queen who is mentoring her daughter and befriend her.”  She must have noticed the way that Amina stiffened slightly because her next words were toned in a soothing voice.  “Lady Verduzca’s daughter has never been to Dhemlan and due to complicated circumstances, she has not seen her mother since she was a small child.  Lady Verduzca has only recently heard of the death of her daughter’s father and would like reconnect with her long separated child.  She hopes that perhaps meeting someone of her own age might soften the transition and give her daughter some chances to learn more about Dhemlan from one who lives there.”

Amina sat silently listening to the request and feeling a little ruffled.  She was being asked to be a courier and a tutor to some strange Queenling outside of Dhemlan for however long it took before her mother decided to come and see her or worst yet, act as some sort of cultural nursemaid.  Was this what she had to look forward to?  Menial babysitting tasks as she took whatever scraps of assignments would be tossed her way until she finally gained recognition?   Not that she assumed she would be placed in some high ranking position right out of the Academy, but even an 8th circle placement would have been something concrete instead of simply waiting for whatever would come her way.

Still, she had been noticed and the request had been placed through the Headmistress.  Perhaps if she accomplished this task satisfactorily, she could return and request a small placement with the Academy.  So she leaned back in the chair with a long sigh and nodded. “If Lady Verduzca has such confidence in me, it would be wrong that I turn down her request to reunite with her daughter.  When would you like me to leave?”

Filomena eyed the young woman studiously, “The sooner the better.  I’ve already arranged for an escort to accompany you into Dena Nehele.  He will stay there with you for the duration of your time.  You are already acquainted with Prince Velez.  He has served as escort for several members of our staff in the past, is well knowledgeable in the culture and customs of Dena Nehele as his parents had been merchants on the border during his childhood.” Amina rose from the chair, “I’ll go prepare my trunks then.  I don’t have much so it won’t take me long.”

Filomena rose as well, “Amina, you’re not just going on the bequest of Lady Verduzca, but as a representative of this institution.  As such, you will be supplied with a stipend and a wardrobe befitting an ambassador of our academia.  Of course, I don’t need to remind you that your behavior and conduct must also reflect well on us so, “ she leaned forward, her hands resting on the desk as she sighed deeply but with a slight smile on her lips, “try not to scare too many males impotent while you are there.”

Amina blinked in surprise but recovered enough to give her own little self-satisfied smirk, “As long as they remember to keep their appendages off of me, I think I can manage that.” Filomena just shook her head slightly, amused by the spirit of the girl before waving her off.  “Go pack.  I’ll arrange for a carriage to be here in the morning to take you shopping for some more official looking clothing.  I think an extra day before departure can be afforded.”


*************

So Amina and Prince Velez had made the journey to Dena Nehele, a Territory that was oddly charming despite the obvious change of climate and scenery and the people.  Amina had never been outside Dhemlan before but she had read about those whose lifespan would be a distant memory long before she was in the prime of her life but Mother Night they were so pale!   She had wondered if they weren’t perhaps ill or suffering from the constant chill in the air until Prince Velez informed her with his own amusement at her observations that compared to the Dhemlan, many of the other races in Terrielle would look pale and weak to her but never to underestimate them because they were equally Blood.  Especially in Dena Nehele where the Guilds held the reins of much power and some would argue even more than the Aristos, the wrong friends or enemies could wield disastrous results if you didn’t balance on the line carefully.   Amina had absorbed his words but thought they mattered little to her, after all, she wasn’t there to make friends other than with the little Queen and friends would be a loose term.   She didn’t like court games and refused to play them, take her at her face value or move on.

They had made their arrangements for rooms in a small but well-maintained travel lodge in the capital for a few nights.   There was not a certainty that they would even be offered lodgings by the Territory Queen and Amina wouldn’t make any assumptions about her visit.  There was a good chance they would be turned out on their heels immediately after arriving and message delivered.  At least she could enjoy a soft bed and warm meal before returning home if that were the case and despite the Prince’s protests about her safety, she had coldly put her foot down about two non-adjacent rooms.  Escort trained or not, she didn’t trust any male to have easy access to her bedchamber at any point in the night.

She had chosen one of her newer outfits, a gown 
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  that was blue satin layered with black lace.  The blue would complement the dark highlights in her hair and blue was always striking with her eyes.  There was shawl of the same black lace to be draped over her bare arms if the situation required it, casual enough that she didn’t feel like a dressed up doll but still formal enough for this first encounter.  Personally Amina could have come in trousers and a plain button down shirt but Lady Belona had impressed upon her the significance of first impressions.

A young man cleared his throat and she turned her head from her thoughts.  He was her age, a Prince who wore at least her equal in Birthright.  Dark thick hair, average height with an air that told her he had some official court training.  His skin wasn’t quite as light toned as some of the others she had seen already as if he was used to being out in the light and his skin had darkened just a shade.  Nothing close to her own skin tone, but at least he didn’t look sickly.

“Prince,” she said, giving him a proper bow.  She was taken aback for a quick moment when he mentioned Lady Vlas.  Wasn’t the Queenling Lady Roman?  Lady Vlas… she could have slapped herself, of course she would be taken to the Territory Queen before meeting her ward.  Stupid stupid Amina, a little travel weariness and you’re already forgetting all your lessons.

“Thank you,” she said curtly and began to follow him.  His face shifted as she approached, a strange wariness in his eyes and it wasn’t until she was almost beside him that she realized he hadn’t been aware that she was a Black Widow until that point.  His whole physique changed; shoulders lifting, back stiffening and his attention peaked. 

*Prince Velez, is there something about the Hourglass that should bother him so much,* she asked on a private thread to her escort.

*No more than in our own home Lady, a smart man is always wary of the Coven, no matter where they hail from.*

Amina held back the grin of satisfaction at that thought and decided to push his reaction to the back of her mind as they walked the halls.  More important things to think about and worry about at present.  He led them to another large room, occupied centrily by two women with a couple of men making themselves comfortable in various chairs.  A very informal setting but there was nothing informal about the way the males’ heads turned to look at her and Prince Velez as they entered.  Caution, strangers in the presence of their Queen.   She couldn’t tell at the moment which Queen they were most concerned about but decided it didn’t matter. 

The older woman had a rough sort of beauty about her, her eyes focused and measuring.  Lighter hair than the younger woman, more a chocolately brown that dark and the look she gave Amina gave her the feeling she was being inspected as more than a guest, perhaps as a potential threat.

The younger woman had the look of Dhemlan about her; long dark black hair and golden skin that was a few shades lighter than Amina’s own but it was her eyes that caught the Black Widow’s attention.  Green with flakes of gold.   Not a color found native to Dhemlan and evidence that this Queen was not purely of Dhemlan.  Amina pondered that thought a moment.  Was that why the girl had been separated from her mother, or perhaps was that why her mother had left her here?  Was there a shame about bearing a child of half blood?

“Lady Vlas, Lady Roman,” she said with a proper bow, “I am Lady Amina Niesto de Lorna, Sister of the Hourglass and recent graduate of the Dhemlan Academy.  It is my great pleasure to make your acquaintance.”  She gestured to her companion, “My escort, Prince Javere Velez de Belona.”  The Prince made the appropriate bow as a Prince who wore a Rose jewel would to either Queen.

Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #14 on: Aug 30, 17, 12:46:17 AM »
On Sora's suggestion, they had relocated to a large sitting room just off the gardens. Riley had called Adrian to join them, needing the security of the Red Jeweled Warlord Prince who had practically raised her in this moment. Radu and Sebastian would be happy on the one front, she had finally eaten something. But she still hadn't rested or had any sleep. On the contrary, the day had been one fucking thing after another.

Riley did not want to deal with any Dhemlan bitch, sent by Sora's cunt of a mother, today of all fucking days. Unannounced, waltzing into the Territory Court with no proper introductions. This was fucking unacceptable. She was just damn glad she and Sora had been together when both the letter and the news of the visitor had arrived. Had she been on her own, she likely would have just sent her away. But that wasn't what was right for Sora.

Whether Riley liked it or not, the little girl she had raised was on the verge of becoming a woman in full. It didn't matter that she had always treated Sora like a little adult, now she really was. And that meant she simply didn't need Riley like she had when she was younger. She told herself it was a relief. In reality, well, it was transition for both of them.

When Cezar returned with the Black Widow and her escort, Riley's eyes narrowed, observing everything she could about the pair. A deep pulse spread out from the Queen, telling her their Jewels and the Jewels of everyone else in the area. She didn't want the escort to be here for this, but she also didn't trust to leave him alone. "Cezar, would you please stand guard at the door with our guest? So we're not disturbed," she asked, motioning to the unknown male who was very unwelcome near either Queen. *Don't let him out of your sight.* she sent along an Opal thread, brushing Sora's male's mind just lightly with her own. He would understand. His love for Sora was absolute. 

"I'm Riley. That's Lady Roman. You're unexpected, and unannounced. And I have had a very long night. You might notice it's now several hours into the afternoon. So when I say long night, I really mean it. These two," she said motioning to Chauncey and Adrian, "They don't like it when things randomly pop up that keep me from resting. So. Let's be clear. You're here on Lady Roman's kindness alone. She says you leave, you leave. She says she doesn't want to talk to you, she doesn't talk to you. If we're clear on that, then I'm going to take a seat and allow you two to talk."

Riley sat down cross legged on the couch and motioned to Sora. This was her game to play, or not.




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #15 on: Aug 30, 17, 11:24:28 AM »
Sora relaxed, slightly, when Riley accepted her suggestion of moving things inside. Riley was frazzled and hadn’t slept in a least a day. If she hadn’t witnessed with her own eyes Riley’s last meal, Sora would believe that the Queen hadn’t eaten, either. The bottom line was that RIley was in no shape to keep dealing with surprise visitors from within or outside the Territory. She would never ask for help or say that she couldn't handle something, nor would she let Chauncey talk her down from it. She hoped that Dragos Cutrov had the will to protect Riley from herself when the time came.

Sora would handle things from here.

While Riley spoke, Sora watched Lady Nieto in silence. Cezar and Prince Velez stepped outside, though it was clear that the long-lived male did not wish to go. This woman had actually seen her mother, alive, in recent times. She already had one advantage over Sora in that regard. An irrational spike of jealousy flowed through the younger Queen for a moment before Sora recognized it for what it was. She discarded it a single breath, measuring the golden-eyed woman before her. She was beautiful, but something in the set of her shoulders and her posture spoke not just of tension, but being guarded against others. Her hair was straight and dark, the kind that Sora would have if her blood was fully Dhemlani.

Lady Genadie was the prime example of a Black Widow in Sora’s life, her Sapphire jewel of rank actually being the least terrifying thing about her. Lady Nieto’s demeanor did not immediately hint at being as business-like as Lady Genadie’s, so Sora decided she’d have to learn more about her.

When Riley deferred this matter to her, Sora stepped right in, speaking directly to both visitors.

Welcome to Dena Nehele, Lady Nieto. As Lady Vlas said, we were not expecting visitors from the esteemed Territory of Dhemlan, so this is a surprise. All the same, you’ve traveled a long way. May we provide refreshment for you?” she asked. She would wait for Amina to accept or decline before moving on, gesturing to a nearby seat so that the other woman could relax a bit. If Amirna accepted, a new tray of bread, fruit and cheese would be brought in along with a tall pitcher of ice water.

The letter from Lady Verduzca indicated that you would be joining us, though we didn’t realize it would be so soon. The Dhemlan Academy is known to me. I didn’t realize that Lady Verduzca had any relationship with it. I’m told that it’s an excellent center of learning and that its graduates are a credit to Dhemlan.” Sora said, watching the other woman briefly.

Lady Verduzca’s letter also indicated that you had another letter for me, Lady Nieto. May I have that letter now?” Sora asked.

It was a question but there was no mistaking the statement behind it.

May I ask your relationship to Lady Verduzca?” Sora asked, to continue the conversation in the meantime.


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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #16 on: Sep 06, 17, 11:14:05 PM »
Amina almost physically clamped her teeth on her tongue at the hard and rude tone of the Territory Queen.  She had made sure to follow all the proper introductions and it was her right that as a woman travelling alone to a foreign court to keep her escort close by for her protection.  It wasn’t her fault that no one had bothered to send word that she was coming and she hadn’t even known that her arrival was so sudden and unexpected.  Her gut reaction was to offer a bit of snark herself at the mistreatment but common sense kicked in.  She was a stranger in this land and to this court, and a Queen ruled and dictated all in her court.  So she held her tongue and her temper and bowed her head demurely.

“I meant no disrespect to you or your Court Lady.  In truth, I had thought that my arrival was already discussed before I had even begun my journey, at least that was the impression given to me.  Had I known this, I would have waited in my lodgings for a proper invitation but it was impressed upon me that the letter I carry for the Lady Roman is one of importance.”  She kept her eyes downcast, afraid that the sting of her pride would show in her eyes.  “Of course, once my business here is finished I will depart.  It is not my intention of making myself unwelcome, at least any more than my arrival has apparently already done.”

She glanced at her escort, nodding her head at Riley’s command for him to stand outside with her men, “I will be fine Prince Velez, please follow the Queen’s command and stand with her men.”  She could tell that leaving her alone in a room with two women, one of whom held enough power to crush her was not sitting well with him but she pushed with her eyes and he nodded finally before stepping out of the room, followed by the man who had met her in the sitting room.

Seeing Riley take a seat, Amina relaxed slightly but only just, working hard to keep her face from betraying her upset and shifted her gaze to the younger Queen, golden eyes looking into her face unabashed.  She felt the flicker of the White in relation to this woman and assumed that she was still a Virgin Queen and it was her Birthright and not her ranking jewel.  Interesting.  She knew that Lady Verduzca wore the Summer Sky, she would have expected her daughter to bear a jewel set nearly equal in strength.  Hmmm, another curiosity that she would have to think about when it was safe to do so.

At the offer of refreshment, Amina shook her head.  “I thank you Lady for your offer, but I feel that I have already imposed on the hospitality of this court enough.”  Probably not the proper response, but she was feeling defensive and uneasy after Riley’s initial confrontation.  She did however take the offered seat and waited for Sora to sit as well before crossing her legs and settling in.

“Lady Verdzuca,” she followed Sora’s lead and didn’t refer to the Priestess in the more formal label of her mother, “comes from time to time as many skilled members of the Blood do to lead a course.  Some stay for a year or two, some stay longer.  Some only come for a semester, impart their knowledge and return to their regular tasks.  It ensures that students are exposed to a great many instructors and their wisdom without keeping the guest lecturers from other tasks.”  She smiled faintly, “The Academy has been good to a great many who have been lucky enough to be accepted into its halls, it is only natural that its alum would seek to return the generosity.  I myself and hoping to be accepted to a more permanent position within the faculty after I return.”

At the mention of the letter, Amina called it in and handed it over to Sora, glad to be rid of the thing.  It wasn’t physically weighty, but it did feel like a pressure had been taken from her shoulders.

“In truth Lady, there is no relationship.”  Here she could let her refreshing bluntness emerge, “I was quite surprised when I was asked to come on her behalf and bring you this letter.  I only took the one course under Lady Verduzca’s instruction and I didn’t think that I had made much of an impression.”  She flushed a little, “I enjoyed the information and will use it for future workings, but it was an elective course of sorts and while I did well academically, she didn’t seem to pay much attention to my presence.”  Saying it outloud made her feel rather uncomfortable, as if she was suddenly realizing that there was no rational reason for her being chosen and the thought of being used as some sort of pawn or puppet bothered her more.

“Perhaps she might enlighten you as to why she asked for me to deliver that letter in the contents, but I cannot offer you any good reason why I am here other than I was asked by my Headmistress to make this journey.”

She looked around at the room and then back to Lady Roman, “This is a strangly interesting land.  I’ve never been outside of Dhemlan in my life but I read stories about all the other Territories.  It’s a little cooler here than back home, and the hillside is more rocky than rolling as I am accustomed to, but it seems pleasant enough.   Do you enjoy living here?”  She tried not to look over at the acrid Queen who was watching silently from the sidelines, probably waiting for the opportunity to take her exhaustion and irritation out on Amina at the blink of an eye.

Any conversation was better than awkward silence or perhaps being summarily dismissed.

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #17 on: Sep 06, 17, 11:50:44 PM »
Dena Nehele is my home, Lady Nieto. I’ve lived here my whole life. All nineteen years of it.” Sora said. It felt weird to speak her age to a full-blooded Dhemlani woman, especially a Black Widow, but she wouldn’t show any fear of the woman before her. She didn’t know the woman’s purpose here, besides delivering a letter, but she did feel bad for Amina in that moment. She’d been made into a glorified mail-carrier by Sora’s mother, one for her adopted mother to nearly bite her head off because someone hadn’t sent along a letter in advance of her arrival.

Your arrival was announced in the other letter, but I would have liked time to properly prepare for your arrival, Lady Nieto. That is not your fault at all. I cannot speak to Lady Verduzca’s thoughts in this matter.

I have never been to Dhemlan, as you’ve probably guessed. I have read several books about it, but never seen it with my own eyes.
” Sora said.

Do you mind if I read the letter?” Sora asked Amina, after a moment. If Amina consented, Sora would break the seal on her mother’s letter and read it. This letter didn’t make her as angry as the previous one, but it did make her feel badly for the Black Widow.

It seems your Headmistress and Lady Verduzca would like you to remain in Dena Nehele for the foreseeable future.” Sora said, shifting in her seat as she looked to Riley. It was an odd way to go about things, especially without discussing the matter with the person in question. Sora was confused by her mother’s motives before. Now she had no clue what was going on.

She’s asked me to learn about Dhemlan from you. You apparently excelled in your studies at the Academy and you were the most mature of the students in residence. She is also asking that I learn about the Academy from you. She hopes that, after my Offering, I’ll consider coming to Dhemlan and attending the Academy.” Sora said.

Well, the final decision on the matter rests with Lady Vlas, but if you’re willing to stay, I would like to get to know you. Not because my mother sent you.” Sora paused, the words my mother sounding foreign on her tongue.

There is a slight issue. I’m actually headed to another Province for a few weeks to be mentored by Lady Pavel. A proper introduction on Lady Verduzca’s part would have avoided this kind of situation. But what’s done is done. Our duty is to move forward.” Sora said, looking between the two women.

Lady Nieto, I consider it an honor if you and Prince Velez remained in Bidea until my return as guests of the Court. Upon my return, I’d like to speak with both of you about Dhemlan and everything one would need to know if planning to visit.” Sora said.

You came a long way to deliver these letters. I wouldn’t send you back without having you learn about Dena Nehele in return. Perhaps we can create a bridge between our lands where none existed before.” Sora said, grinning at Amina for the first time.


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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #18 on: Sep 08, 17, 04:24:54 AM »
“Ah,” Amina said, nodding her head.  “I thought as much.”  She fished around in her head for the right phrasing and felt itchy with all the need for careful words.  She was a blunt creature and tiptoeing around every single sentence was starting to fray at her nerves.  “The Academy is small.  Very small.  So small that privacy and secrecy is a rare and priceless gift.  Especially among the student body, gossip is the currency of trade.  I tried to stay out of it,  my family wasn’t wealthy or aristo so my attendance was built on merit and not personal favors.  I had been rather surprised to hear that Lady Verduzca had a daughter.  Perhaps I was too good at avoiding the ninnies who discussed the private affairs of others.”  She felt uneasy, as if she had said that in a cruel way.   “So I had already figured out that you had been raised away from Dhemlan.  Lady Verduzca wasn’t wont for talking much about personal matters in the classroom.  She was a very focused instructor and didn’t believe in wasting time.”

When Sora asked to read the letter, Amina gestured her consent.  “Please do.”  She sat back and waited patiently as Sora opened the letter and began reading.  She tried not to stare too much at the younger woman, and risk antagonizing the already irate older Queen so she took in the room, the furnishings, the artwork on the walls.  She didn’t look back at the younger Queen until she folded the paper again.

“They what?!” Amina couldn’t hold back the tone of irritation in her voice at the revelation of the letter.   Lady Belona didn’t mention anything about staying in Dena Nehele.  She had expected to deliver the letter, perhaps stay for a day or two for any social niceties she might have to accomplish with the court and then return home.  Now she was expected to stay for some untold time.  She hadn’t packed for an extended stay, no more than a week or two at the most.  How long was this foreseeable future?

“It seems,” Amina spoke through clenched teeth that tried to be civilized, “that Lady Verduzca forgot to inform both of us of a great many things.”  She directed her gaze away from Sora, lest Riley and her males misinterpreted her ire as a danger to Lady Roman.  With a sigh, she leaned back in the chair, her hands raising and falling onto the armrests with a slight smack of force.   “Well, it seems the decision is out of my hands.  If Lady Vlas will allow me to stay, then I will stay and answer any questions you might have about Dhemlan and the Academy.  I understand you have other obligations for the next few weeks, but I don’t want to be an additional irritation to Lady Vlas and her court.  I can find lodgings in town and await your return.  As for Prince Velez, I will have to inform him of this new development, “ and she hoped for his sake that he DIDN’T already know about it and hadn’t told her, “and see if he is at liberty to remain with me.  I know he has a family in Dhemlan and I would not want to ask him to be apart from them for longer than he has to.”

She was angry and a little hurt that things had been put in motion without her consent or even the courtesy of being informed but it seemed like Sora was equally perturbed with the developments and trying to make a civil and agreeable situation out of the mess.  Amina returned the grin with a slight smile of her own.  “I would like that and please then, if we are to begin that bridge, call me Amina.  Lady Nieto makes me feel a little old, and I’m only a year older than you and just past my own Offering.”  She hadn’t missed the pointed note of Sora mentioning her own age earlier and decided to put her at ease.  It was true that for the next several centuries she would probably remain looking this age, as the long lived did age much slowly after their 20th year and she had probably assumed that Amina was much older.


Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #19 on: Sep 09, 17, 06:34:05 PM »
Riley had offered up control to Sora, and her foster daughter shone in her grace and beauty. Had Riley gotten the kind of news that Sora just had, she would have fucking lost it. Hell, she had lost it on Sora's behalf. The Hearth Witches were going to be annoyed about all the glass. She already had them hunting her down to yell about Radu on a near daily basis. She pressed her fingers to her temples for just a moment before taking a deep breath. She needed today to just slow the fuck down. Or perhaps speed the fuck up. Tomorrow clearly had to be better.

"It's Riley," she offered, finally speaking from the seat she had taken. "Sorry I bit your head off. This clearly isn't your doing and it's not your fault. I didn't realize your age, either. So. Yeah." It was as eloquent of an apology as anyone ever really got from Riley. She sighed heavily,  releasing the anger that had been simmering since all this hell began. She was just a girl, barely older than Sora, sent to a foreign land and a foreign Court without an introduction or any awareness of what to expect when she got there. Who the fuck did that?

"Don't bother with lodgings. We have plenty of rooms here. What's the point of living in a giant palace if you can't give people a place to crash? Obviously you'll be fed as well. As far as your amenities, I can have my dresser sent to you if you need more clothes while you're here, or clothes of a heavier fabric. It's not cold like it is in Moesia, but Fall is coming, and you're not used to our climate."

Was she seriously sitting here between Chauncey and Adrian discussing the weather with a Dhemlani Black Widow? How more fucking surreal could the day get?

Her voice was tired when she turned to the Red Jack. "Adrian, will you talk to Sebastian about setting up a proper guard for our guest while she is here? Oh, and I guess let him know she and her escort will be staying with us for a while." A guard to protect her and to protect them. She was a stranger, after all. There was no guarantee this wasn't all an act. She sighed, and Tavi chittered at her from Chauncey's shoulder. "Yes, I know, thank you, Tavi." Even the fucking lemur had shit to say to her today. Where was Drake? She needed Drake. She sent out a psychic thread to him, letting him know she needed to talk to him when he was free. She had something to ask him, and today had shown her it needed to be sooner rather than later.

"So that's settled. Didn't mean to interrupt. Please. Continue."




Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #20 on: Sep 13, 17, 11:02:03 PM »
Sora was glad when Riley spoke up, for it alerted her that Riley had calmed down somewhat. She loved Riley for being angry at her mother on her behalf. Later, when Sora was alone, truly alone, she would brood on the letters from her mother. She wouldn’t cry, though. Her mother didn’t deserve her tears or her anger. She deserved the same silence that Sora had lived with for nineteen years.

Right now, though, Amina was being ambushed with the knowledge that she was expected to stay in Dena Nehele for the time being.

She couldn’t fathom her mother’s logic in this moment. If she was trying to make a poor impression of herself, she was succeeding at all levels. If she was trying to keep them all off-balance, there was a case for her success there, too. But if she was hoping to forge a latent bond with her daughter by introducing her to a new friend, the Maria Petra Veduzca de Ilbeda was sorely, sorely mistaken.

Amina noted that Lady Verduzca neglected to tell them a number of things and a half-laugh, half-snort escaped from the White Queen at those words, an agreement with the Black Widow.

I’m with you there, Lady Nieto. But why don’t we agree to make the best of this situation?” Sora suggested.

Riley has settled the matter. You will be guests of the Territory Court for the duration of your stay. When I return from Moesia, we’ll compare notes and discuss the differences in Dhemlan and Dena Nehele. For now, though, I would like to return Lady Vlas’s day to her. I interrupted her before you arrived.

Riley, if you’re okay with it, I’ll give Lady Amina a tour of the palace. Then I’ll take her to my favorite cafe a couple of blocks over for the best coffee in Bidea.
” she said, looking to Riley.

I mean, if you drink coffee.” she added as an aside to Amina. “I really hope that coffee is a thing in Dhemlan, because if it’s not, I don’t know that I can ever visit.

She smiled at the Black Widow this time, a dangerous proposition in itself. Did Riley ever have inside jokes with Lady Genadie? Sora immediately halted that train of thought.

The idea of Claudia Genadie laughing, while pretty, also meant that someone, somewhere, was probably in a lot of pain.

Like Prince Darko.


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Re: Owning Up
« Reply #21 on: Sep 17, 17, 10:40:51 PM »
Amina cast a glance over at the seated Queen, nodding her head briefly in acknowledgement at the additional reminder or command to refer to her so informally as her first name.  This did not sit well with Amina.  She didn’t know this woman, could not be so informal with a complete stranger and a stranger who outranked her in so many ways.  She was just a very small fish in this large pond of a court and she couldn’t step back from ingrained manners.

“You are most kind Lady, “ Amina compromised on the name with the title, “and it’s understandable.  My arrival was an unexpected and apparently unwelcome event and you are certainly warranted in being upset with a disruption to your court.  I will try to limit how many more ripples I cause.”  Oh, she swallowed the rock in her throat and felt it settle in her stomach but she held her tongue and kept her expression calm and civilized.  Later, she would silently rant and fume away from too many focused eyes and probably write a few poorly worded letters back to Dhemlan that would only see witchfire and not a messenger’s hand.

She remained silent as Riley went about pronouncing that she would stay in her residence and she would arrange to have her clothed.  She didn’t like this either, she didn’t want or need pity or handouts.  Some of the more “generous” girls at the Academy had offered her nice clothes and items and she found out quickly that they were nothing more than castoffs or pittances to make themselves feel as if they were truly magnanimous; giving charity to the girl who couldn’t afford the nice clothes.

Still, the look from the males in the room gave her the inkling of warning that she wouldn’t do any good to argue against these offers and so she relented, nodding her head in submission to Riley’s command.  “Again, thank you for your generosity.  I will speak with my Escort as well and see what he would like to do.”  She turned back towards Sora.

“Yes,” Amina said with a sincere laugh, “Coffee is a very popular drink in Dhemlan.  I don’t know if I would have survived some of my earlier coursework if I didn’t have a strong cup or three in the morning.”  She smiled honestly at Sora, “A good cup of coffee would be most welcome, I admit that I am still a little travel weary from the journey.  Even in a Wind-drawn carriage, it was a long trip.  I think that I will make the best use of the time you are absent to become acquainted with Dena Nehele, so that perhaps I can find some similarities that might put you a little at ease with thoughts of visiting Dhemlan.”