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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 126 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 presence up Aechia. 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 everything was okay.

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 a 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 know 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 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 didn’t want to 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 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.


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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.

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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."



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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.