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Rebellion has swept the Territory in the south as Glacia dominates the north. Landen and Blood join forces to spread a message of equality with any method possible while Glacia works to infuse the land with power and the people with their Dark Beliefs. The Rebellion, led by a Council of Eight, is not always in agreement but none can resist the power, and the danger, the movement has generated.
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Author Topic: Nature of my Circuitry  (Read 141 times)

Description: Attn: Maarika and Court

Offline Richard Marko

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Nature of my Circuitry
« on: Nov 07, 17, 05:00:27 PM »
Marko had been called to one of Jonny Boy's bars for a drink not long after his meeting with Silver. At first Marko had worried that Silver had blabbed all of the things he'd told her in confidence around and word had gotten back to Jonny Boy who would then want some answers. Though Marko had done his best to avoid giving out information that only he would know, Jonny Boy could dig information up when he had a mind to and he had no want to get himself in his boss's crosshairs. But instead of some grim talk, Jonny Boy had bought him a beer, talked about some old times that filled him with some warm feels (and precarious concern that Jon might turn on a nickel with all that sentiment) and then offered him a job.

A job that, coincidentally, been along the same lines that Silver had wanted from him. Huh.

Sometimes life was funny.

Sometimes life was also not funny.

He had taken the job and gotten caught outside of Goth by Reija and Einar to talk further of their continued arrangement. That meeting had not gone as well as it had with the other Harmaa, and Marko was more than a little grumpy about the situation at present. He couldn't go to Jon for help because then Jon would know Marko had sold him out to his sister. Silver's trick had happened to be fuck-all useless, but if he went to her for help her bright idea would be to drag him through the Dark Gate and fuck that. Besides, she might not even go for that. Silver fucked him but he didn't get that she had quite the same resorvoir of compassion for him as she did for squeaky little Lionel.

No, he'd have to figure something else out. He had to keep the matter secret for now, as much as it chafed him (physically and metaphorically).

So he arrived at Orissa, as directed, letter held tightly in his psychic cabinet. He hadn't opened it up or looked at it, knowing that a trained Glacian Court would be able to suss out any sort of tampering and quickly. Normally Marko wouldn't go into a job without full information, but given that it was from Jonny Boy and if he fucked it up he'd end up very, very dead, he was going to err on the side of trust.

The benefit of meeting with Reija and Einar beforehand was that he didn't really have any apprehension walking into Maarika Sydan's Court. Positives!

Wearing leather jacket and pants, Marko looked far out of place for the Territory and he knew it. The scarred Warlord had gotten off the landing pad and made his way to the Court. He'd done a lot of business with Glacians and Nharkavans, so the two people together didn't really unseat him. Though the Glacians of this Court had a slightly different air than the ones that had been in the Territory elsewhere. Maybe they knew they had to be careful because they were in the heart of a shitstorm.

When stopped by the guard, Marko lifted his hands up slowly in a mark of surrender. He repeated the words that Jonny Boy said, specifically, to say. All this cloak-and-dagger shit was worrisome, but he also knew that this was a sensitive affair and it was best to do as he was told. Between the two of them, Jonny had pulled off more secretive shit than Marko (though, to be fair, Jonny didn't seem to know that Marko was backstabbing him at the moment).

"Hey. Uh. I'm Lord Richard Marko. I'm to deliver a letter to the hands of Lady Sydan from Prince Aalto."

Of course, nobody would know who the fuck Prince Aalto was, Jon had said. But Jonny said that Maarika would know.

It was the name of her dead mother.

Offline Maarika Sydän-Harmaa

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #1 on: Nov 11, 17, 04:15:13 PM »
The darkness that threaded itself through Maarika's sight wasn't quite black. It shimmered too much, showed too much of the play between light and dark. She could think of no better color to describe it than black; it was too dark to be gray. Yet she knew, somehow, that it was not merely black. It was much more than black. She watched as it spread, though she couldn't decide whether she was seeing a drop of ink bleeding through the cracks in a piece of broken glass, or roots sprouting out into loose soil. It felt dreadfully important, and yet she couldn't even discern whether she ought to fear it or celebrate it. She felt both, impossible as it was.

Roots. They were definitely roots, she decided. She could feel it as those too-dark tendrils spread out before her, could sense them as though they were her own fingers digging into the earth in an attempt to grasp it. This, whatever this was, would possess the earth it held more strongly than her feeble mortal fingers ever would, and in fact she felt the darkness begin to constrict, as though flexing that grip that was so insidiously threaded through the width and breadth of the land around her. It moved, and it felt to Maarika as if the entire world shook. It pulled, and she gasped for how real the sensation of the jostling of the earth felt.

And just that quickly, the vision left her. She blinked, slow to come back to awareness of her surroundings. She was not out on some earthen landscape, watching strange vines twist though the soil below. She was in her office, with her loom in her hands, her blood staining the spider silk that hung upon it. Something had disturbed her, though she couldn't immediately say what it'd been. Maarika looked down at the web in her hands, and contemplated the nearly suffocating feeling of importance the strange sight had carried with it. There was something she needed to know. Needed, like she needed air to breathe.

Ruugar repeated his knock at the door, betraying the source of her interruption. The Black Widow snarled internally, impatiently. The Queen sighed, and vanished her loom. She turned her seat to face her desk properly, and silently bid Ruugar to enter. He looked concerned, but refrained from asking his Lady why she hadn't answered his first knock, which Maarika appreciated. Instead, he informed her of an unscheduled and oddly-dressed visitor, someone who claimed to be tasked with delivering something to her in person. Prince Klasson was prepared to send the man away, Rugaar assured her, but he insisted that she be told that he had a message from a Prince Aalto. When the name caused Maarika's expression to change to something pensive, Rugaar's blood pressure rose a bit.

"Lady Maarika--" he tried to object, but Maarika had already made up her mind.

"Thank you, Rugaar. Have Dirk take our guest to see Lady Lindquist. If she clears both him and this letter of his from danger, then have him brought here." Her voice was soft, unbothered. Rugaar looked as though he considered arguing for a moment, but ultimately decided against it. He was on edge without one of the Reds present to pass such dangers by, but Anitra was a formidable Black Widow. If there were hidden traps on the suspicious-looking newcomer or his message, she would find them.

Rugaar left to comply, and Maarika rose from her desk. She turned to the arched window that dominated one end of the room, and let her thoughts wander while she studied the landscape beyond. Somehow, she knew there was no simple trap web in whatever message was coming. Something important was on its way.

Offline Richard Marko

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #2 on: Nov 11, 17, 06:29:38 PM »
Marko instantly felt that he'd walked into a trap by coming here. The guards of Lady Sydan were on high alert and they all looked tense-as-fuck. He'd down work with Winters and with Talbot and none of their men were as hyper-vigilant as Sydan's people. He wasn't sure if the Little Terreillian Queens' men were just lazy or if the Glacian Queen's were just more protective or better trained. The end result was the same: Marko was on thin ice.

Thankfully, he'd had lots of practice of keeping his head on his shoulders.

The guard told him that he'd be allowed to see Lady...Harmaa(?!) only if he submitted to an inspection from her Court Seer. Getting checked by a Black Widow was never someone's idea of fun. He was also pretty sure that the other... Lady... Harmaa's...(!?) mark would get detected. But then again, what choice did he have? He couldn't go back to Jonny Boy empty handed.

But now he felt set up. This Lady Sydan was really Lady Harmaa, which meant she was Jon's... cousin? His other sister? Jon had mentioned he had two sisters, right? What sort of racket was Jonny Boy running, and why use Marko was the courier?

He pondered those questions but tried to keep his thoughts to himself as he was inspected by the Sapphire Black Widow who had ice for teeth. All these Glacians and their cool demeanours bugged the shit out of the son of the city, and he refrained from anything but terse answers and the most inoffensive smiles he could muster.

He was guided by Lady Harmaa's guard to the door to her office. Something in the air suddenly got Marko's attention and made a swell of irritability rise up in him. Anger, unwelcome and unbidden, rose up inside of him and swelled into his mind and on his tongue. He had to bite back a snarl that had come out of nowhere as the door was opened and he was brought inside. That irritation only rose higher as he walked in and set eyes on the beautiful woman behind the desk.

Rhubar, or whatever-the-fuck-his-name-was, started to talk in introduction. The world narrowed to just the anger that was swirling inside him and the apparent source of it -- the woman with crystal blue eyes, perfectly soft-looking-hair, a mouth that made him a little dizzy, and perfection in her face.

"I'm Richard Fucking Marko." He said with the snarl that was finally allowed to cut loose, and he stepped past the smaller man and away from the Sapphire Black Widow -- almost inviting ruin -- as he looked into the eye of the source of all of this bullshit.

"Who the fuck are you?" He said with that same growl toward the Lady of the house, his irritability beyond the scope of sense as he hurled an angered challenge that might well cost him his life.

Offline Haakon Gunvaldsson

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #3 on: Nov 12, 17, 11:30:11 PM »
192: Orissa, the Territory Court of Narkava
Haakon Gunvadsson wasn’t, strictly speaking, on duty. A man of intense loyalty, when Ruugar’s request for a Red came to him, he forced his over-heated body into a Court suit (enchanted to cope with the weather as well as defense, thank the Darkness). His dark blond hair (the very darkness revealing he was not a Glacian Aristo, like his beloved cousin) was slightly tousled. On another man, it would add a vulnerable look; upon Haakon, he merely looked that much more like a man just returning from killing something. He sharply questioned the Guard that had let the stranger take even one step off of the Landing Pad without challenge, but didn’t put him on report. That would be Finn’s pleasure, and Haakon was certain the Master of the Guard would have something special in mind for him.

A swift knock on the door behind which his Queen was hidden resulted in his admittance into her presence. Lady Maarika was silhouetted by the burning, green tinged light of a jungle summer day; her hair was more golden and light than the sun, her skin more pale than the distant clouds. She was made of porcelain and pain, patience and rage.

Haakon’s glacially cool gaze didn’t so much warm, as sharpen, as he blatantly studied her. She was utterly beautifully, and tragically strong. His harsh, wind-roughened “My Lady,” was meant to set her at ease. Instead of the warmer greetings she preferred, a cooly correct bow followed. It often irritated her, his strict adherence to Protocol, but the bow was meant to inform her that he was here as her formal Escort for this current ... visitor. The prince had calculated that it would be harder for her argue with a bow, than a blatant statement. Still, if she crossed to him or beckoned him closer, he’d kiss her hand with an odd mix of tenderness and passion. Even permit her to straighten his hair, if it occurred to her to do so.

With a predator’s lethal grace, he took up his protective stance, between his Queen and the door yet not blocking her view of where their visitor must enter. And if he layered a properly paranoid series Red Shields between her and the door, her and the window, the floor, the roof ... well.

There was no one here likely to take issue with his paranoia.

Lady Maarika Sydän-Harmaa’s husband had made an impression on Haakon during his memorable visit. Haakon longed, deeply, to have a few minutes to speak to Jonothan Harmaa. For his Queen’s sake, could keep himself from killing the Midnight Keeper as punishment for the bitter pain the Warlord provoked in Lady Maarika. Probably, anyway. Assuming the man didn’t kill him, first; a Green Jewel in the hands of a cunning man could slay someone much more darkly Jeweled. Like, say, a certain Tri-Casted Queen. His dark thoughts spurred an icy energy through is body, made his cold, expressionless face into something grim.

A Thread informing him that their ‘guest’ had passed the High Seer’s tests brought him to a more formal, battle-ready stance, and locked his attention upon the door. After months of working together, Haakon and Ruugar’s shields folded around each other so seamlessly that it was likely their guest was unaware of the small bubble of safety he traveled within.

The stranger whose presence had ended Haakon’s brief attempt at walking in the jungle was alien, in every way. His gear was a mix of rural and urbane; Haakon associated leather gear with hunters, or those used to the weather. Yet the fit and styling suggested a more polished origin or purpose. The Warlord didn’t fit into any neat categories, and that bothered Haakon.

The Red Prince displayed his unease with only a deepening of his cold demeanor and expressionless, cool eyes.

Haakon had grown used to how people’s hearts stopped, for a moment, when they first met Lady Maarika. He was accustomed, however, to that admiration of her beauty and innate Charisma to result in calmness, flirtation or joy.

Not rage.

Richard Fucking Marko’s voice and words snarled snarled into the room, seeking confrontation.

looking for a way out.

For about a heart beat, Haakon allowed himself to hope that the rage was that of a foreign Light Jewel for the Glacian Dark Jewels.

but there was no shield to protect either of them, from the Darkness.

The man asked a question to which he already knew the answer; he’d requested this interview; he knew precisely whom he was meeting. And that terrified Haakon, in many ways. Either the man was on a suicide mission, or the Darkness had chosen to complicate their lives once more.

Haakon’s gaze met that of Ruugar’s for a moment, a pained question hidden beneath his impassive, unreadable visage. Almost, Haakon could forgive the rage, the swearing. The man must be utterly terrified.

“Lord Marko.” the name was an icily cold rebuke for the use of such language. If the man swore again, Haakon fully intended to silence him until such time as he could speak civilly. An Aura shield around him would be easily spun.

“It is my honor to present Lady Maarika Sydän-Harmaa, Queen of Narkava.”

Only if Lord Marko managed to look away from Lady Maarika would Haakon introduce Lady Anitra, Lord Rugaar or himself.

Offline Maarika Sydän-Harmaa

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #4 on: Nov 13, 17, 03:22:06 PM »
Maarika's Court Seer was reserved, it was true, but she took no effort to drag out the impromptu inspection of the stranger any longer than necessary. She was coolly professional as she studied him in that staring-but-not-staring manner someone got when using Craft as well as sight. She made no comment about any Craft she found about his person. After inspecting the letter he'd brought with him and finding it entirely mundane aside from the Opal lock on it, she returned it to him and gave a short nod to his escort. She remained behind, and Marko was taken to Maarika then in short order.

In the interim, Haakon's arrival at Maarika's office drew the Queen away from the window with a tsk and a sigh.

You're supposed to be relaxing, she chided him, though she did not seem unhappy in the least to see him. As usual, all his internal calculations were for naught. She didn't argue with his bow, but moved forward to embrace him anyway, in spite of it. Formal escort or no, he was still Haakon and she still delighted in seeing him. He likely would've preferred her to stop at allowing him to kiss her knuckles but she was a moody creature of late, and at the moment she didn't feel like yielding to his formality.

She did straighten his hair afterwards, but it was clearly just as much for the sake of touching him further as it was for any aesthetic preference. At his prompting, she'd allow him to retreat to an escort's position, that he might not be distracted by contact between them while she was entertaining an unexpected guest.

Maarika felt his anger before she sensed anything else about the coming guest. It carried heavy, a choking depth to it that made it feel bone-deep and oppressive. Not the frozen knife's-edge of her Warlord Princes, but something more grounded and pervasive. It sang to her in a way that it shouldn't, a way she didn't yet understand. She felt as though the spiritual equivalent of a bully had just stormed into her home and shoved hard at her heart, for no other reason than to try and knock her down... and that was before the doors opened and she was confronted with the man in full.

He looked every bit as angry as he felt. Everything from his clothes to the cant of his face to the scars that scraped their way across it screamed fuck you as clearly as his words did. Maarika was speechless for a beat. Though outwardly she looked as placid as ever, save for the slow rise of one judgmental brow, inwardly she was stunned. She met his eyes (his terrible, painful, angry eyes), and felt that queer sensation of a piece of her soul sliding into place, filling a spot she hadn't know was barren before that moment. For a few breaths, Rugaar and even Haakon faded from her sight, and she and this Richard Fucking Marko were the only souls in the room. Haakon's solid tenor helped to pull her out of that displaced moment, and she found her feet beneath her again and stepped out from behind the desk to approach the warlord.

*He is mine, Haakon,* she whispered against the Prince's mind, though her eyes didn't leave Marko. *You must let him touch me if he wishes. Please trust me.* It was difficult to diagnose the conflicting emotions in her psychic voice; not even she was entirely certain how she felt in that moment. There was some amusement, some novel fascination with how each one of her males came to her in such a different fashion. Several of them had been resistant to the Bond, though none quite so severely enough to curse her before ever hearing her voice. There was hurt, in a tiny sliver, as how could there not be? Much more palpable was the resolve she felt, and the recognition that this was going to be another fight, another dance that would pit determination against fear. There was also uncertainty, and confusion, and excitement and reservation and hope. But it all shifted and blended so much that all she could truly discern was that this was an important moment. Haakon introduced her, but that didn't stop Maarika from answering the man's question more directly and more quietly herself, once she stood before him.

"I am your Queen," she told him in an even and calm timbre, all the regalia of her caste and station in those smooth syllables. Though she was not smiling - could not, in the face of his very evident pain - there was a softness to her bearing that made it seem she wasn't as upset as he. "And you are my Warlord. You're in no danger here, Lord Marko." She extended a hand towards him, though whether she was asking for the message he held or asking for his hand was up to him to guess.





Offline Richard Marko

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #5 on: Nov 13, 17, 03:51:43 PM »
The most beautiful woman in the world stepped up from behind her desk. It was like there was sunlight for hair and crystal water for eyes, held contained by a symmetric face that made Marko's heart stop for a moment. Marko was almost 50 (though he'd live a long, long time more) but he'd never had his heart stop for a woman before. It was eerie and surreal. There was this love-at-first-sight sort of sensation that went through him that was more than just wanting to fuck her. Certainly, she was a hot, hot lady. But his first thought wasn't about how good she'd look naked. It was about why the fuck does this room smell like her blood?

And that thought made him angry. It made him defensive. It made him want to clobber the fuck out of everyone here, and Marko never felt that protective of anyone else besides himself.

So for a moment, as the introductions were made, as the guy with the dark hair, the Red Jewel, the intense stare that told Marko to tread with caution, said her name in full, Marko was silent and struck dumb. When she rose up and spoke, his heart lifted and he was left speechless and almost blind to her beauty. His eyes locked on hers and she offered her hand up to him.

I am your Queen. She said the words, and they were the truest, purest, most wonderful things she'd said. It was like he was standing at the altar and she'd just offered an "I Do" at the end of the ceremony. Or it was his daughter saying her first words and they were "I love you Daddy". It was such a deeply powerful moment that he teared up a little, as much as he would never admit it to another soul in the world for as long as he lived.

Slowly his hand lifted up and he took her offered hand. His were much larger than hers, so his fingers when they closed around the smaller digits easily dwarfed them. Though his hands were rough from being a boxer and a laborer, he handled her like she were a little doll. "..Yeah... yeah you are, I think?" The words felt alien in his mouth and also an honesty he found compelling.

"Wow." He let out a breath of amazement as he looked down at her. "Wow this is... this is wonderful and... wow it's fucked up, too. Maybe."

He turned her hand over and looked down at her fingers. "I smelled your blood on the way in." rumbled softly, letting his thumb gently slide across the single pinprick he found. "Made me want to come in here and kick everyone's asses halfway back to Glacia." He looked up then, over to Haakon and Ruugar and let out a bright laugh. "I wouldn't have lasted two seconds. But.. I felt it. Like.. like I was drowning and needed to breathe, y'know?"

He looked back down to her and a goofy, wide grin dominated his face. "Night this is crazy. I was just sent here to do a job. And this happens. Is... is there a way for people to know beforehand? Like.." He paused and he leaned in very, very close, whispering and hoping people's ears couldn't pick up on it (as he sensed an overt use of Jewels would have gotten him killed right then and there).

"Like.. did you and Jon plan this?"

Offline Haakon Gunvaldsson

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #6 on: Nov 13, 17, 06:12:27 PM »
192: Orissa, the Territory Court of Narkava

Haakon Gunvadsson had not won this round with Lady Maarika; and yet, she made sure he had not lost. A fierce hug, the more precious because he knew just what risks she faced, eased him as few things could. It was still alien, bitter and beautiful in equal parts, this thing between them. The Wound-in-his-Soul that he would not choose to have mended. A rusty laugh rattled her hair, before he resumed his proper place as Escort.

He knew, now, that she was a Black Widow as well as Queen. But he made a point of not acknowledging that part of her life. The Sacred Queen’s blood which she shed for ritual or knowledge aggravated Haakon, but rarely enraged.

It comforted, oddly enough.

The small, ritual amounts lost bespoke control. Precision. Power. All the things their enemies would strip away.

So it had not occurred to him, to Cleanse the scent before a stranger was brought near. Somehow, the dual nature of his Queen had become so habitually accepted that he had not even thought to rid the room of the scent before Ruggar returned. Or a maid entered. Or ... the stranger.

Bitter rage, inwardly directed, savaged Haakon. That was the sort of carelessness that could cost his Queen her life. He had to stop being distracted, and attend more closely to details. For all he’d served in one Court or another all of his life, he’d taken pains to have more distant service, Courier or Diplomat.

Escort ... was a deadly business. One misstep, and all was lost. His narrow lips thinned to nearly invisible, as he watched the center of his Soul comfort and claim another male.

And Darkness, yes, there was jealousy.

And by Mother Night, fear. Even terror.

But mostly, hope. Both for the way the Wound-in-his-Soul bled Maarika’s sense of wholeness into him, and the thought of one more body to stand between Maarika and death. And by the looks of him, Richard Fucking Marko was a survivor.

He tensed, deeply at war within himself when Maarika told him she needed to touch her new male. But Haakon felt that need. Even more, he remembered.

Ruugar had shown the way, when it had been Haakon’s mindless, unreasoning rage that filled the room. So Haakon remained utterly still, yet poised to lethal response. His body ached, with the sheer effort of will it took to permit her to approach the swearing stranger. Breath burned within, as Haakon balanced deadly, opposed instincts. The Prince clung to Maarika’s mental touch, ripped open the Wound between them as widely as it would go, knowing His Queen would know before he did if violent response was called for.

And still Haakon’s statue-stillness was tested when Richard Fucking Marko took her hand. His pulse raced, and he fought a bitter battle within. The laborer’s hands cradled the Queen’s without harm, to either. No, it was Haakon whose head snapped up and teeth ground when the man mentioned smelling her blood.

Sacred Blood.

The guilt spiral of rage and fear won another round, tearing through the frozen center of Haakon’ soul. Right until Richard glanced around, and laughed.. Joyfully; brightly. Haakon’s gaze sought deeply into the man, hungrily drinking in his unfettered joy. Richard responded the way Maarika deserved to be responded to. The goofy grin, even the way the Warlord leaned close and whispered some shared secret into Maarika’s ear was so alien to the Glacian Prince that Haakon stared openly.

More than most, Haakon knew that Maarika needed joy. And being Haakon, infected by the task set before him by his cousin, he immediately began sizing the man up as a potential husband. He seemed too brightly natured, for Hjoris; perhaps he would do for Magdalena, when they got her here? A hard worker, a survivor, and a man of deep, profound joy. Bonded to her sister. The precious Healer could hardly do better; and this Light Jewel was not hobbled by a lifetime of being told he was less than Dark Jewels.

Briefly, he considered if the lovely and delicate Lady Josefina Saari would be a good match for Richard. Only then, did he realize he fully intended to rescue that brilliant Priestess from her untenable home-life, when they went to claim Lady Magdalena. Probably, he should talk to both Prince Raines and Lady Maarika about that.

It was bizarre, for a man so against marriage and children, to need to be thinking these things. But his Cousin had asked for his aid in finding her a husband, and Haakon would not deny her. That thought, bolstered by Richard’s easy joy, brought one of Haakon’s nearly invisible half-smiles to light.

Offline Maarika Sydän-Harmaa

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #7 on: Nov 13, 17, 08:32:03 PM »
Marko took Maarika's offered touch and her pale, slender hand flexed so that it was not merely being held, but holding his in return. He confessed that he "thought" she was his Queen, and a smile lit up Maarika's face, followed by a soft little laugh. It was only part amusement at his uncertainty, and part a release of joy at his acceptance of the bond. He looked properly shocked for a few moments more, and Maarika allowed him the pause and the space to reclaim his bearings. Haakon was a veritable maelstrom of emotions at her back, and she tried to soothe him as best she could via psychic thread and the bond alone. New as her bond with Haakon still felt, though, it was far more mature than the one that was even now still crystallizing before her. Her focus remained primarily on Marko for the time being for that reason.

"...not the most flattering summation of the Queen Bond that I've ever heard," she quipped, with a smirk. "But not the least, either."

She watched him, studying his unfamiliar features while he turned her hand over and spoke of the urges that'd gripped him. There wasn't as much humor in her tone when she gave a soft, "I do know" in response. There might have been a note of regret, some sliver drifting somewhere in the vast sea of sensations that now were open between them. More than merely sensing her psychic scent, Marko would find himself privy to measure of his Queen's mood, her state of being, that was deeper than what he could typically sense in others. "It's okay to take a moment to process," she told him, that little smile returning alongside a sense of warmth and contentment. "It's alot to take in."

Her smile only deepened in response to his grin, though it tempered down to a more thoughtful expression when Marko asked if there was a way to predict a bond. She hadn't quite started to answer when he stepped closer, and whispered to her like a Landen might. She turned her head slightly, not opposed or fearful in the slightest in response to his sudden nearness. Yet the words he whispered forced her to pause. Her expression fell, and she leaned back enough to look him in the face, her features suddenly cast with uncertainty and concern.

"Did... did Jon send you?" she asked, as though she couldn't believe that to be true. It was astonishing, after all, if that was the case. It was an odd moment for Maarika; she could not doubt the veracity of the bond. She was well acquainted with it in various forms, and she knew as surely as she was breathing that the man who towered over her now, his hand dwarfing her own, was hers by writ of the Darkness.

And yet, the fact that he'd come from Jon was... disconcerting... at the same time. She couldn't doubt what she felt, but she doubted Jon entirely.

"No... not that I've ever heard of," she said, in a rare moment of having been pushed off of her stride. Her words were not a stammer, but they were as close to one as anyone had heard from her in quite some time. "There's no way to predict a bond." Her hand flexed once more, softly gripped against Marko's hand, and she righted herself with a breath.

"Come, sit down with me, won't you?" she asked him, gesturing with her free hand to the couch on the far side of the room. "I'd like to speak with you for a bit, if you have time." She thanked Rugaar and dismissed him with a thread, and then gestured towards Haakon.

"This is Prince Haakon Gunvaldsson, my Steward," she introduced. She paused there, suddenly uncertain about whether to betray his bond aloud. She knew he viewed it as a terrible liability sometimes, and no matter how much faith Maarika had in the Darkness-blessed pairings herself, she didn't want to put Haakon any further ill at ease than he already must be. So she left it to him to reveal it if he wished. She also left his presence in the room up to him. He had to know she wanted some time alone with the strange new addition to her males. Yet he'd been just as broadsided by this development as Maarika had been, herself. If he needed to stay to be at ease, then she wouldn't begrudge him that. She wagered that asking him to leave her unattended in the presence of a stranger, bond or no bond, would test the limits of his generosity.

Offline Richard Marko

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #8 on: Nov 14, 17, 02:02:18 AM »
"Ah.. Sorry. I'm not much of a poet or anything. All of this is a bit more than what I typically can handle, emotion wise. Like, I've never even had a girlfriend longer than a year or two and.. wow. I just feel like.. like I know you and can trust you. Like as bone deep as the fact that the sky is up and the ground is down. It's unreal." He managed with true astonishment at the feat. Marko was clearly impressed by this thing that was discovered between them, and he shook his head in amazement. "If this is some type of Craft or something, I need to figure out how to do it cause Night, it's strong.

I'm a little surprised. I didn't know Warlords could get bonded. Not that I'm complaining! Just.. didn't know."
He babbled for a bit as she suggested it was a lot to take in, but as the reality of why he was here settled in, it caused him to assess what he'd just said. He looked around at the others in the room, then back to Maarika. But he could trust her, he knew he could!

"Yeah.. uh.. Jonny boy's kind of my boss. He said to keep my mouth shut about why I was coming here and to deliver a message. That he was putting me in your employ, if you'd have it. It's all in the letter I brought, I think. I didn't read it though because he told me it'd probably explode and kill me if I tried." He let out a bark of a deep laugh, seeming amused by that. "Jonny Boy knows me too well, I think.

It's alright I said that, right?"
He added, suddenly uncertain as he looked around at the others. "He didn't tell me you two were related. Are you what, his uh.. his sister? His cousin or something? He just said that you'd know the name I'd give and knew it was important. He didn't give me many other details."

She gestured for him to sit and he hesitated in releasing her hand. Instead he sort of awkwardly lead her there -- though he was a gentle giant about the matter as he took her to the couch and then settled there. Marko was quite a bit bigger than his new Queen, and that difference in size became all the more clear as they sat together.

Her introduction of Haakon wasn't unnoticed, though, and he turned to the brooding man with a wide smile. "Ah. Right! That makes sense." Marko got up then, releasing hold of Maarika long enough to extend a burly hand toward the Red Jeweled Prince. "I'm Marko, Prince. Nice to meet you. Sorry if I am giving you guys all a scare -- but this cloak and dagger shit is pretty second nature to me. I didn't risk anything by coming here."

He turned to Maarika and offered her the letter then, figuring that it was best to get it out now. "This is the message. Your Black Widow said she disarmed it but I didn't peek. He made it clear only you were supposed to see it and then I was supposed to do whatever you told me to do." He shrugged and then moved to sit beside her again if she allowed him.




Offline Haakon Gunvaldsson

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #9 on: Nov 14, 17, 11:04:38 PM »
192: Orissa, the Territory Court of Narkava

A pale, perfect hand twisted and clasped a rough, workman’s hand. Two souls Bound together, will they or nill they, for the rest of their lives. There ought to be fear. There ought to be wonder, and questions. But the only one who seemed filled with doubt was Haakon himself. His gaze remained fixed, upon that brilliant, terrible clasp of hands. He knew, as the young man likely did not yet realize, that Lady Maarika had become Richard Fucking Marko’s central symbol of home, safety and belonging forevermore.

Haakon waited, for the shock and horror to set itself upon the Warlord. Prepared to Shield one or both of them, or answer questions, if the man had the same intense drive to know and delve every aspect of the Bond as Haakon had. He fought to steady his own emotions, offer support and understanding.

And to a degree, the icy chasm of his soul settled, if only for a moment.

Maarika’s soul reeled; doubt pounded at Haakon, through the Wound-in-his-Soul.

Did ... did Jon send you?

Hell’s fire.

The Prince took a single, deadly smooth step forward, every nerve on edge. His craft swept the area in a damaging, powerful pulse. His mind ranged far, touching on mental presences in a thorough roll call. Lord Jonathan Harmaa had slipped cleanly through their defenses last time; it was entirely possible he was here, somewhere, now. The High Seer could have been a target, or any one of the Guardsmen who’d Escorted this man in to see Maarika. But mostly likely it was Maarika herself who would be wounded by whatever was planned.

Haakon found a growl trying to claw its way out of his throat.

If anyone could compel a Bond, the way to do so would undoubtedly be discovered in Glacia herself. He did not doubt that, for a moment. In fact, he’d accused Maarika of that very thing. But having been fearful of that event, he had done fairly extensive research. Yet once already, Lord Jonothan Harmaa had done the impossible. Had he engineered this?

“I know a Priestess, a powerful one, who can help you determine if the Bond is true. But no matter what Lord Harmaa may have done or decreed, Our Lady would neither violate Mother Night’s role by forcing a Bond, nor could she be fooled by clever Craft.”

Lady Maarika and Lord Marko settled upon a couch; Haakon was quietly amused by the disparity in size, muscle and weight between the two. She seemed a dainty porcelain doll, next to an Olephant.

Rugaar left silently, but Haakon bowed him out formally, all the same. Then Lady Maarika introduced Haakon as My Steward and a touch of warmth soothed through him. For a long time, his gaze remained upon her. That she needed time alone with her new Bonded, he did not doubt. Yet he was troubled; he’d left her alone with her husband only to find her weeping on the floor. And that same clever, deadly man had somehow orchestrated this.

When Lord Marko offered a hand clasp, Haakon honored him by accepting it. His own hard, warrior’s hand held strongly to the huge workman’s hand. His hand clasp was firm, but not punishing. He studied the Richard Fucking Marko carefully; with such size and reach he was likely formidable in a fight. But the Prince was at a loss for how to put him at ease. Severin Raines should be here. He was the one with a gift for words.

The right words.

I yield...

The memory of that moment upon the Landing Pad echoed through Haakon. His harsh, damaged voice shattered the air, an assault upon the senses, as he made his decision. “Well met, Lord Marko. I doubted the Bond. But Our Lady never forced the issue, not once.”

A pause, an a faintly raised eyebrow. A touch of dark humor, likely to go unnoticed.

“You risked everything, Lord Marko; Nharkava is a war zone. Even more so ... you’ve met your Queen. We’ll talk, later, about your cloak and dagger skills.”

and everything you know about Lord Jonothan Harmaa.

His mind brushed over Maarika’s, a silent apology and support.

*Only let me learn about the letter, and I shall guard you from the hallway. I know you need to be alone with him ... but he has taken this too easily, by my measure. The shock and reality has not yet set in.*

Offline Richard Marko

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #10 on: Nov 15, 17, 01:42:27 AM »
Marko looked over to Haakon as he mentioned that he knew a powerful Priestess that could help suss out the truth of the bond. That sounded weird to Marko, and he also felt uneasy at once. The last Powerful Priestess from Glacia he'd met had been Jon's sister, and that had not gone as swimmingly as he'd hoped. Glacians had a weird idea of how to protect people who were important to them. He knew that from experience.

A lot of experience.

So Marko kept his loud mouth shut, save to offer a quiet and warm "Thanks" to Haakon's offer. If this was a bunch of whammy craft then Marko wouldn't have much to say about it. Haakon here had the Red, Ruugar was darker than Marko too. Hell, even the pretty little Queen could flatten him into paste if she had a mind to it. Marko might have been the biggest guy here, but in terms of raw magical power he was the weakest. So he did what he always did when he was outclassed and under-powered:

He smiled, he played the part of the willing servant, he looked at the positives and he made sure that they'd invest into greater dividends later.

"Oh I'm not worried about it, Prince. This is great!" He said exuberantly as he looked back toward His Queen (that was weird to think of her that way, but certainly as truthful as sunrise.) with an equally warm grin. "Best thing that's happened to me in a long time! I mean can you imagine? Warlords don't get Queen Bonds very often. It's super rare, right? And not only do I get a Bond, but it's to.." He turned to Maarika with a wide grin. "Pardon me if this is over the line, Lady.." He turned back to Haakon to finish this thought as he gestured to their mutual Queen. "One super hot Glacian lady. I mean that with the deepest respects, of course." He returned his golden eyes back to Maarika, all charming smiles and quick deference. "Like I said: Not a poet. I'm just a man who speaks plain, and you're fuckin Gorgeous, Lady."

Quickly he pulled free the letter from his jacket and offered it to Maarika. While she sought to open it (it was marked safe, after all), Marko turned back to Haakon. "And you don't have to call me Lord Marko, Prince. Just Marko's fine. You're the highest casted, and pretty much head and shoulders over me in any peckin' order. That's polite of you and all, but I've always been kind of shit at Protocol. I just know to duck my head at the right times."

While Marko smiled and smarmed it up some, Maarika wound find the familiar writing of her errant husband in perfect lines. Jon's writing seemed certain and determined: Professional and cool.

Maarika.

Knowing you, you're not going to sit around Nharkava and do Sif's bidding. I've sent Marko to help you. He's a smuggler and a criminal, but he's loyal if you treat him right. He can help you in ways your Court can't.

It's in our mutual interest that you can get the Nharkavans to support your rule, rather than try to murder you.

Marko knows the routes in and out of Nharkava and knows how to keep out of trouble. He talks a lot, but he's smart. I'm sure you'll find him to be a valuable asset.


The last part of the letter, the words were darker, bolded.

Don't write me back.

I don't want to talk to you.


Take care of yourself.


The letter was unsigned.

Offline Maarika Sydän-Harmaa

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #11 on: Nov 15, 17, 11:22:18 AM »
Marko talked about the Bond like it was a gift he'd opened on a Winsol morning, and his sheer delight and amazement in the feat drew a certain kind of warmth from Maarika in response. She would have thought before now that she'd seen just about every reaction there could be to the sudden leashing of one soul to another, but somehow Marko had managed to surprise her.

"It is far more rare," she agreed, when he commented castes. "But you are not the only Warlord in my care. It does happen. And I'm glad it has," she added, her smile deepening appreciatively while her hand squeezed his. She was less effusive for a moment while she processed the introduction of Jon into the matter, and while Marko babbled on about working for him and the letter and greeted Haakon, Maarika tried her best to quell the strangely conflicting, internal reactions that weren't really all that strange, considering that Jon was involved. Always, he was the sharpest of the thorns in her side, yet her very soul yearned to keep hold of him.

Haakon neared, because of course he did. More sensitive to most to the tides of his Queen's moods, he aptly judged how the taint of Jonothan's influence on this matter raised doubt in Maarika's mind. Only her mind, though. Her spirit knew no such doubts, not where Marko was concerned.

"There's no need," she said to Haakon, when he volunteered a Priestess. "At least, not if that offer was for me," she clarified, looking over to the Prince. She looked back up to Marko. "I know a Bond when I feel it," she said, smiling again before she led him / was led to the couch. She reached out to Haakon wordlessly, affirming permission for him to stay for the moment, and soothing his worries with her affection and thankfulness. She was not afraid, truly, but she did appreciate his vigilance and care.

There was already alot for Maarika to unpack here, even before Marko handed her Jon's letter. Even the look of the Warlord was enough to tell her that he wasn't like any of her other males (was that the gold of the long-lived in his eyes?!), but that thought was echoed by the way he'd acknowledged the Bond's power and then immediately thought of wanting to use it on others, to his advantage. Something about that initial response whispered a warning to her, though she withheld judgment for the moment. She chose instead to enjoy the moment, and she laughed and smiled at Marko's compliments, and sat with him and leaned near. She did everything that felt right in order to assure him that he was welcome and his bond with her a thing to celebrate.

And then the letter was in her hands and both Marko and Haakon's voices while they talked faded out a little for a few seconds. Maarika  opened the envelope and was greeted with the trace of scent that was Jon's, both psychic and otherwise. She felt his presence immediately, and only moreso when she opened the note and began to read; she could hear his voice in her head as though narrating the words he'd written. Something tightened in her chest and emotion tried to swell, though not even Maarika could discern whether it was joy or misery. Some strange conglomeration of both, most likely. That was common, where Jon was concerned.

Don't write me back.

She traced the fingertips of one hand over the line, felt the depressions in the paper where he'd made those strokes so much more strongly than the others. She thought she could taste it, the pain and the anger and despair behind those words. She was simultaneously wounded to imagine him in such a state, and overjoyed to sense it. That passion behind those words meant he wasn't as lost as she'd thought.

But it was Jon, and she had to consider that he was still lost to her, and this was all some clever ploy to play on her Bond to him. Maarika didn't believe for a second that the Bond with Marko was false. At most, maybe Jon had known it would happen, through some feat of scrying or luck on the part of a Black Widow near him. Maybe. She would've thought it impossible (and honestly, she still thought it wasn't the case), but it seemed more likely to her than him having fabricated a Bond somehow.

Jon had sent Marko to her, though, and for purposes other than what he'd professed in the letter. Marko had said as much himself, having revealed that Jon had asked him not to divulge his true purpose to her. This was a puzzle, a mystery that was too new to be fully understood by her. She'd have to proceed with care.

Maarika looked to Haakon, and extended the letter to him to read. It was private, yes, but Haakon was not only hers but in her triangle as well. He would understand better than most everything the letter meant - and didn't mean. She was trying very hard to not let herself get carried away with hoping, but she couldn't help it. Even if Jon thought he hated her, she'd take that over him simply being gone in every way he could manage.

"Jon's my husband," she said then, turning her head to look back at Marko. With the letter removed from her free hand, she moved it to cover the hand of his that was holding hers. "We're... estranged. We have been for some time. We are also bound by the Darkness, so ours is... an unusual relationship, to say the least." She paused, considered, and seemed to hesitate out of wariness before meeting Marko's eyes pointedly. Her expression, her bearing, even the psychic scent that subtly wound its way around him at her side, promised that she was not the reason she and Jon were at odds.

"Did he send you here to hurt me, Marko?" She didn't tell him that he could be honest with her. She didn't promise him that he was safe, regardless of his original intent. Not aloud, at least. She made those promises to him, but she did it by feeding those truths through the connection between them. She was the wounded party here, she seemed to be showing him, and was just trying to gauge whether her errant husband was launching an attack against which she'd need to defend.


Offline Richard Marko

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #12 on: Nov 15, 17, 11:47:51 AM »
"Oh? Good!" Marko replied with great cheer to her remark he wasn't alone as the lowest-casted in her ranks. "You must have a fuckin gaggle; bound or not bound. This place is huge. Glacia really pulled out all the stops in setting up shop right here." He let out another laugh, seeming deeply amused. "No offense -- if you're really here for Glacia and all. But Jonny boy said you weren't. Just like.. assigned here, or somethin."

Marko was about to jest and joke around some more, but he sensed through the new Bond (how strange that he could just instrinsically know her mood) that Maarika was going through a swirl of emotions. Hurt, concern, determination, hope. Huh.

See, Marko was just a Summer Sky Warlord. He wasn't a threat to Maarika Sydan-Harmaa or her Red Jeweled Prince. Both of them were powerful Glacians, trained from a young age to be the best at what they did. He couldn't hope to hurt them. But Marko had ran circles around Glacian nobility before. Jonny boy's sister might have gotten him under her thumb at the moment, but there was an opportunity here and Marko never avoided an opportunity.

She just shy of pouted as she moved to focus her full attention and her precarious predicament on him. He opened his eyes wide, surprised, and whispered an astonished. "Oh!" when she said that Jonny Boy and her were husband and wife, and that they were in a bad way. She made it clear without saying she was the injured party.

Fuckin Glacian Queen with the Opal, a whole Court of people, ruling a whole Territory. Yeah. Right!

Marko, for all of his smiles and his cheer and his seemingly plain acts, was exceptionally good at crafting the right face, the right tone, the right words to fit the situation. It wasn't all craft, though. A lot had to do with sensing the mood and the wants of others and then reflecting that in himself. He was a scarred portrait to be painted on and to become what was needed.

So he looked shocked at her suggestion that she was there to mean her harm. It looked like she had wounded him a bit just at the thought. He quickly seemed to panic as he turned to Haakon; as the mere suggestion ought to throw the Red Prince into an uproar (for surely, it would have Marko if their positions were reversed!). "Whoa, whoah. No!"

Quickly, he pulled her hand up to lay a kiss on her knuckles, and his attention turned back to her with burnished gold in his gaze. "No, Lady, listen to me. First of all -- that would be suicide. And second, he doesn't want me to hurt you. Honest. Jonny sent me to help you." And now..

Now Marko plyed why he had always been able to survive these situations: The intuition of knowing when it was okay to betray a person's trust, and when not to.

"And spy on you. Jonny Boy's got a plan to fuck Glacia proper, I think. It makes sense, given everything that's goin on. He wants to team up, I think. Or at least -- that's what I had figured when I was coming here.

I didn't know you two were married, though. He'd never even said, that rat!"
He shook his head, anger clear in his mien at the apparent betrayal of both Marko and his new Queen. "But no, never hurt you. He told me straight up to do whatever you wanted and to be as helpful as I could, just to keep stuff about him and LT to myself."

Ah, but why just stop there when he could be helpful to his new Queen?

And maybe get some more information, himself.

"So.. you and Jonny are married, right. Both in Glacia?" He added slowly, then moved to the true interest point as he spoke. "Do you know who Lord Black is, then?"

Offline Haakon Gunvaldsson

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #13 on: Nov 15, 17, 05:03:56 PM »
192: Orissa, the Territory Court of Narkava

Haakon was off balance, though not obviously so. The odd juxtaposition of Lord Harmaa’s involvement and Lord Markos open jubilance left Haakon on edge. It was like he could sense an opponent, but could not localize him enough for an attack, nor even to prepare a strategy. Haakon’s polite smile of interest fell back into utter expressionlessness as the Warlord kept talking. He talked of how beautiful Lady Maarika was, but in a way that somehow failed to grasp the greater things that Maarika held within herself. As if she were only beautiful. It was disrespectful. Though Haakon couldn’t prevent a sharp look meant to check further swearing in the Queen’s presence, he didn’t otherwise correct her new Bonded. Lady Maarika Sydän-Harmaa was fully capable of guiding him herself. She’d see to his deportment, if it bothered her. And it might not; Haakon knew himself to be a touch too formal for her tastes; mayhap, the Warlord’s open exuberance pleased her.

“If you know when to duck, then your skill at Protocol will suffice, Lord Marko. Protocol is all about navigating our instincts. As for etiquette ... that’s a matter of survival in Glacia, though apparently it is less life-or-death here in Nharkava.”

The Prince paused, curious. “You served in the military, somewhere? I’ve not seen the usage of a single surname, sans title, for public address save in those circles.” The two men looked to Maarika in tandem, as her emotions tormented her. That single moment, alone, declared the relationship of Blood Brothers between them.

Maarika’s emotions clawed into her, hope and fear spiraling to a disturbing degree. Haakon’s own spirits fell in tandem as her rose; he didn’t see any way for this to go well for his Queen. Her anxiety and hope spiked as she caressed the letter in her hands, before handing it to Haakon.

And what Haakon read there, was hurt.

Haakon still had no notion, whatsoever, of why Jonothan was furious with Maarika. She’d not banished him, nor burnt down his estate. She’d not dared to search for him, because if she had found him, ipso facto, Lady Elisif Brenden would find him too.

No, the rage and hurt between them had less to do with how the Mad Queen had burned down two entire Courts to appease her own ego, than with them. It went far beyond the current moment, it’s roots in their shared, bitter past.

The key point of the letter, was the if you treat him right. How did one treat a smuggler and a criminal right? A riddle hidden inside the puzzle Lord Harmaa had set them. Haakon looked to the golden eyed Warlord, pondering just what it all meant. It was less unsettling to think of that, then of the fact that the furious Lord Harmaa knew his wife well enough to predict her rebellion.

Which meant Lord Harmaa anticipated how she’d react to the pain-filled rejection at the end of the letter.

“You and Lord Harmaa know a lot about Nvharkah, Marko?”

Maarika’s emotions wound tighter and tighter as hope set its destructive tendrils into her. 

Which meant he would have to say what Maarika didn’t want to think. But he waited; let her speak of her marriage, say what she could to his new Blood Brother. But then she said the thing that set his pulse racing, that urged Haakon to lung towards them, ready to place himself bodily between them.

But first and foremost, Haakon had always been a man of intellect and control. So though his eyes narrowed and Craft wrapped, skin tight, around Maarika, Haakon had not moved when Marko turned to face him.

Hurt, fear and denial was broadcast so openly in the Warlord’s face, if not his Psychic scent, that he seemed almost a man in a play. Had Haakon not spent these last months in Nharkava, he’d have been convinced that the very clarity and openness of the emotions meant they were false.

Haakon nodded, a faint, ice-blade smile appearing on his otherwise impassive visage. Dark, bitter humor raced through him; Jonas, Finn or Severin would likely have half killed the man for the mere suggestion he meant Maarika harm. The man’s response had been perfect, Protocol wise. The Prince’s harsh, damaged voice intruded into the room. “Your Protocol, Marko, is excellent.” he let that sit between them, for a moment, his gaze locked upon his target.

Richard Fucking Marko was the key; the key to understanding Jonothan Harmaa and thus repairing this gaping wound between the man and his wife. For all Haakon spoke and moved with apparent clam, he ached for violence. The need to ease his Queens’ wounds chilled his soul and punished his body. But no; words were needed, not action. His control was pushed to his limits when the instrument of her pain kissed her knuckles, but Haakon already knew how she felt about him interfering in such things.

Marko insisted, again, that he was here to help. But the mere fact that the man referred to Lord Harmaa, over and over, as Jonny boy suggested the Warlord did not know Jonothan Harmaa as well as he thought he did. The news that Jonothan had a plan to ‘fuck Glacia over proper’ sat ill with Haakon. Haakon wanted change; he wanted certain people removed forever from the political landscape.

But Haakon didn’t want another Court exploded, the very rocks melting. He didn’t want countless deaths, or full scale war. He didn’t trust Jonothan Harmaa to share such restraint.

“I know Jonothan sent you here to hurt Lady Maarika, not to kill her. The Midnight. Summit would have done that himself, had her death been his goal.”

Haakon handed the letter back to Maarika; she was sentimental, about such things, and would likely keep it. His voice gentled, such as it was possible for him to so. “I expect, Lady Maarika, that Jon also sent Marko here to help.”

“Jonothan Harmaa does not seem a man of simple motivations, to me. But whatever his intent, it is not truly safe for Lord Harmaa to return to your side, my lady. Not yet. Those who hunt him yet remain in power.”

He turned his attention back to Marko, and replied calmly, “I know of no Black family in Glacia.”

It was likely the last time he’d be clam for a long time, should Marko care to explain

Offline Maarika Sydän-Harmaa

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #14 on: Nov 17, 17, 10:24:26 AM »
Marko crowed about the 'gaggle' of men Maarika must have and the size of the palace at Orissa, and Maarika responded at first with a wordlessly doubtful expression, as though she wasn't sure just how to react. There was nothing about her transition to this place that felt celebratory, but she reminded herself that Marko had no reason to know that. He didn't seem to be of a Nharkavan persuasion in any sense, and she couldn't imagine him in Glacia any more easily. Not with that mouth, at least, and how easily he referred to the possibility of Maarika's court being here for any purpose other than "for Glacia".

She hadn't decided how to respond before the conversation moved on without her. The two men greeted each other while her attention sank to the letter from Jon and what it might mean. Marko declared that he had no intentions of trying to harm her, and she seemed to accept his assurances easily enough. His kiss at her knuckles won a small smile, though she didn't interrupt him when he went on to talk about why Jon had really sent him. She reached back across her bond with Haakon, trying to wordlessly assure him that she was unbothered and unharmed. The news that Jon wanted to assault Glacia wasn't a surprise; he was an angry man, and hated Sif as much as anyone else did. The news that he had a plan to do so was a little more disconcerting.

"LT? You're from Little Terreille, then?" she asked, holding onto that fact for a moment with some satisfaction. It made sense for Jon to be there. She knew he'd had some business there in the past, though had no idea to what extent. She only knew that he loathed Nharkava and he would have been daft to remain in Glacia. Haakon handed her back the letter and she looked it over one more time before vanishing it.

"Lord Harmaa returning to my side is not a matter at question, just now," she said, the slightest edge to her tone, indicating it wasn't a topic up for public debate. As if anyone could dictate to her whether she invited one of hers to her side or not! She told herself that Haakon meant well, that he was right anyway, and that Jon didn't deserve her indignant response. "The questions of the moment concern Lord Marko," she said, re-centering her focus on the man at her side. "But this means you'll stay here, doesn't it? At least for a while? I want a chance to spend some time with you," she told him, both hands settling once more on his.

She nodded at Marko's confirming question about having married Jon in Glacia. Before she could counter with a question of her own, though, Marko asked another that stopped her. Half-heard rumors of a Black Jewel having surfaced in Little Terreille over the past year tugged at her.

As did the recent confirmation that Jon was in Little Terreille.

And his mysterious entry and exist from the heavily-guarded Orissa estate.

Maarika's heart chilled, a little.

"Lord Black?" she repeated, bending the name into a careful question.

Offline Richard Marko

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #15 on: Nov 17, 17, 04:15:51 PM »
"Me and Jonny? Oh, yeah! We've ran smugglin out of Nhark for years now. Moved Light Jewels in and out of the T for close to a decade, I think. I helped Jonny's sister get situated when he took her over. And I helped get him set up in Goth years back. Know a lot of the routes and the right people to talk to in order to move things." He paused to turn to Maarika, checking on her reaction of this abundance of information he gave her. "That's why Jonny sent me here. He figured you could use a guy who knew the backstreets. Lots of stuff gets moved above and below channel, right? Best way to hedge every bet is just tax both, rather than try to move one to the other. Least that's what we found over the years."

Haakon asserted that Marko had come to hurt Maarika and it was clear that such a comment instantly instilled deep resentment in the scarred man. "Hey, now. Nobody sent me to hurt anybody, least of all her. Jonny made it real clear he wanted me to help. Yeah -- he wanted information back, but that's what we do. When we hurt people we don't get wishy washy about it. When we help people we do it right." He turned to Maarika, looking at her more fully, his expression one of earnestness. "Honest, Lady. You can count on me. I was going to try to be here for a while before, but I'm definitely in for the long haul now.

I got a lotta livin left, if I got anythin' to say about it. You can count on me to be around as long as you need, eh?"


Marko's thumb slid along Maarika's fingers and her knuckles, finding reassurance in her touch. He sensed some trepidation as she seemed to gather what he was talking about, concerning Little Terrille and Lord Black. As there was a note of coldness -- fear? -- he frowned as he sensed he had caused uncertainty in his newly found Queen.

"Oh. Shit. You didn't know either, huh? Fuck. I'm sorry. It's nothing to be worried about, right? Jonny's obviously got nothin' against you if he sent me to help, right?" Marko had clearly not read the letter and did not understand the intricacies of their relationship.

"Lord Black." He said again, turning to Haakon to explain. "As in.. A Warlord with a Black Jewel. Nobody's seen his face, but he and Jonny Boy destroyed Logain Morr's court. Burnt it to ashes. Then they took over the Territory. Jonny's Steward of Little Terreille -- like the Territory Court. They appointed a new Queen and then destroyed the nastiest Gang in Goth to show they mean fuckin' business.

Got everyone in line quick, too. Yeah, Amerys is Queen of LT but everyone knows it's Lord Black's show. Those closer to the court say Jonny runs the show, that what he says goes."


Marko turned back to Maarika, concern clear on his scarred face. "You don't know who he is? Everyone figures the guy came from Glacia with Jonny. There a Black in Glacia, or a Red Birthright you guys know about?"

He added, softer, more uncertain. "Jon don't really have a Black, does he?" There was, perhaps, just the slightest twinge of fear in his words.

Offline Haakon Gunvaldsson

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Re: Nature of my Circuitry
« Reply #16 on: Nov 19, 17, 09:18:22 PM »
192: Orissa, the Territory Court of Narkava

Haakon Gunvaldsson bowed, a deadly and practiced movement perfectly tailored to express both acceptance of his Queen’s priorities, and an apology. Too Haakon, the two topics - Marko and Harmaa - seemed inextricably linked. He let his bow say it all, as his Queen navigated both her invitation for her husband’s spy to remain indefinitely, and the fact that apparently Marko was an accomplished smuggler.

Thoughts of Lady Magdalena must come to mind.

Marko seemed genuinely aggrieved as Haakon, but Haakon only met his gaze steadily. Marko thought Haakon was suggesting direct violence, rather than subtle trap; indeed, the Warlord’s  reply suggested that the man had very little notion of the nature of the icy crevice Jonothan had dropped him into. But Haakon would be there, to pick up the pieces when Marko hit bottom; Maarika would need him to. The Prince studied the Warlord closely for several seconds. The conversation moved on before Haakon had fully picked apart what about Marko’s reply bothered him so.

We. He used ‘we’ too much.

That’s what we do..

We hurt people.

We help people.

Who was ‘we’?

Were he and Lord Harmaa that close, or was he part of a larger organization the missing Warlord had organized? Haakon was so focused upon those thought’s that it took a moment or two before the meaning of ‘Lord Black’ hit him.

Teeth clenched, he found himself reflexively tracing genealogies in his mind, looking for possible Red Jewels who might Just have completed an Offering. Because clearly, if Jonothan had had a trained Black at the time, he’d not have needed to run, not just then. He could have ambushed his enemies one at a time. Haakon would give Jonothan a better than even chance of assassinating Lady Brenden with his Green.

If Jonothan Harmaa had a Black as an accomplice now ... were they all saved, or forsaken?

Haakon’s harsh voice shattered the small, stunned silence that had taken the room.

“Jonothan Harmaa is a Purple Dusk to Green Warlord.” Haakon had only met the clever Warlord once, yet he’d never forget it.

And was unlikely to forgive it.

Silently, Haakon’s rough fingers reached out for a faint, gentle touch to Maarika’s shoulder; meant perhaps to comfort, or protect or a silent promise that Haakon and every man on this Estate would die for her, no matter who came after her. It was reverent, rather than sensual, as hope and fear renewed their bitter battle for his soul.

A Black Jeweled friend would explain so very much about the devastating meeting Jonothan and Maarika.

Quiet, and intense, Haakon’s gaze settled upon Jonothan’s ... what? Friend? Employee? A man who had helped rescue Jonothan’s sister, anyway. The term ‘Enforcer’ came to mind.

“I know of no Red Birthright in Glacia, Marko. Such a child would either be promptly hidden, or forcibly removed to the Territory Court.” He held up a hand briefly, expecting protest. “The Queen is Grey, her entire Triangle is Ebon grey. They could challenge or control even a Black, if they worked together.”

Despair won the upper hand, curdling his stomach.

The extreme under reaction to the news; the way Maarika’s heart chilled and Haakon’s demeanor turned the least bit bleak might tell a perceptive man that it was not unfettered good news, that Jonothan had such a powerful ally.

“My Lady, there are security concerns I should see to.”

*With your permission, Maarika, I will inform Klaus, Finn, Severin and Rugaar about this. We have to rethink our contingency planning.*

From fighting to fleeing. They could not take a stand against a Black.

“Marko, I ask to meet with you when Lady Maarika releases you. We can discuss your ideal place in the Court, and how best to protect Lady Maarika in the current environment.”

‘Estate Security’ was feeling more and more like a crumpled dream, than a hope to aspire to. Haakon’s gut hurt; his jaw had gone from aching to numb in the course of this meeting. Yet touching his Queen, however faintly, could not but echo into Haakon the wholeness it brought her, to have Marko here. The deadly, trap-filled hope of Jonothan, that was meant to distract her.

A faint, quiet joy forced it’s way past his fear, and brushed Maarika’s mind even as Haakon’s fingers dropped away from her shoulder.

*I rejoice with you, that Mother Night has given another soul into your keeping, my Lady.*

If no one stopped him, Haakon would bow gravely and exit the room.