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Scelt is a Territory in turmoil and peace is tenuously held together by the Sceltic Queens. Rivalry between the Clans errupted into horror for the Territory that resulted in many dead, on both sides, and culimated in Clan Sheane being outlawed in the Territory. Further troubles plague the Territory in a variety of manners - Landen villages are raided, Courts are attacked, and no one seems to be safe.
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Author Topic: Storms and Stone  (Read 908 times)

Description: attn: Blodwen

Offline Archibald Pennickle

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Storms and Stone
« on: Nov 02, 14, 09:37:10 PM »
While the court was at home in the Keep, the mornings were almost always chaotic.  Everyone needs something...right now... and the emotional crystals embedded in the very walls are a constant and grating hum for the Head Butler.  But that is when Archibald is at his very best.  Emotion dictates wants.  And wants need to be met. 

That was a normal day.  But with the Sheane Delegation under the roof, Archibald was met with a new set of palates and unfamiliar faces The Butler had reached the very end of his patience and the very top of his level of performance before the sun even ascended above the Horizon. 

Archibald was so focused the jewel chips banded around his arms and neck were putting off their own heat.  But that's how the man did his job. The Opal jewels embedded in the walls were watching, recording, sending back information to the Butler who was winding his way silently through the back passages and stairwells.  The sun would be set before Archibald finished this avalanche of efficiency.

If there was ever a time for a Prince to be on his guard, it was now.  The Sheanes were on their way out and in a bad way.  The tides of politics were shifting and Archibald could do nothing but brace for the incoming storm. Well that wasn't entirely true.  He could keep his head and the heads of those who called the Keep sanctuary above water. Which is exactly what the butler was attempting to do.

The largest chip rested above the door of his Lady Queen.  And the thing was currently about the rip itself out of the wall and ping down the hallway.  Archibald quietly slipped into the kitchen and retrieved a premade pot of tea and a little plate of the Queen's favorite comfort snacks.  Normally, this plan of attack was reserved for a very specific time of the month, but Archibald was having to call out the stops.  With an irritated facial twitch that made the Butler's mustache practically turn like the hands of a clock, Archibald passed almost silently into a secret pathway that lead to the Queen's study.

She was hiding.  Queens didn't hide.  Whatever had happened... Archibald wouldn't concern himself with the details... had shaken the Queen so deeply that she didn't even hear the Butler enter the chamber.  Archibald was practically standing over her when he finally cleared his throat.  Quiet and strong as stone, Archibald's voice was as gentle as a slab of concrete. "This would not be the time to hide. One would think that the Queen would be at the head of the storm... not cowering from the lightning strikes."

Offline Blodwen Lyons

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #1 on: Nov 04, 14, 05:40:31 PM »
At least she had been allowed to say good bye.

It was a rare manner of thinking for the Purple Dusk Queen, to see herself as being allowed to do anything. While Blodwen did constantly question herself and her abilities, she never shied away from the weight of her duties, and that weight meant that she decided how things would be. No one allowed Blodwen anything, except perhaps Loreniel, and sometimes Myrna when she was being more headstrong than a Warlord Prince.

But today... well, today she had not been the Queen in control. She knew it the moment she saw her brother's face, the way that he looked shocked to his very soul. What else could she have done but let him go? What other avenue did she have? It didn't matter that both her logic and her instinct told her she had made the right choice by allowing Rhys his own mind and heart. Her mind would always make her pay for that choice, playing out endless scenarios in which it might have gone differently.

What if she hadn't called to Rhys? What if he had arrived just two minutes later, after the Sheanes were already gone? What if she had denied the bond and sent Niamh from her land, forbidding her to ever return? No, no that last she could never have done. Not with the way Rhys looked when he saw her... when he saw his Queen.

Her heart ached painfully at the very thought of it, strong enough that she pressed the base of her palm hard against her chest, as if the physical action would ease the internal pain. Her brother was simply one more male she had failed by not being a strong enough Queen for him to bond to. Over and over, she had watched the men that were hers by blood or Court find missing pieces of their souls in other Queens. Their Queens. The Queens the Darkness intended for them to serve. And she just... she wasn't that Queen.

Lost in her sorrow, she hadn't even noticed her butler entering the room. Archibald Pennickle had been an ever present fixture of the Lyons Manor since her earliest memories. He was as constant as the East stairway or the front gardens, as familiar a presence in her life as any of her family. Yet his ability to move through the Manor in near perfect silence and just appear in front of her had always made her uneasy. When she was a child, she had been straight terrified of him. Now, now she was... no, she was still terrified of him.

She visibly jumped at his voice, silently cursing her own weakness in front of this man who had watched over her since she was a baby. He had served her mother before her, and now he served both her house and Court. And could just appear in front of her with no warning. Yeah, that wasn't creepy at all.

His words struck a hard blow against an already wounded ego. Most males in her Court would have seen her crumple under such an onslaught, but this man frightened her. He scared her with both the accuracy of his words and his mere presence. Fear was not something the Queen would allow, and was quickly subsumed in a fiery anger.

Her words came out sharper than she intended, fueled by grief and fury. "And you know the role of a Queen better than I do, I suppose?" He was the perfect target for the words she would not speak to the rest of her Court. And he had just engaged a terrified, rage filled, and hurting Queen. 







Offline Archibald Pennickle

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #2 on: Nov 04, 14, 08:45:12 PM »
There it was.  Archibald's former Queen had an inner fire that could curl the ends of his finely combed mustache.  Though the young Queen had never raised her voice with such venom to the Butler before now.  Trying to keep his composure and not show his own surprise in Blodwen's jab, Archibald silently came around the Queen's chair, his face carefully composed into a mask of solid stone.  It didn't take Archibald's tricks to know he scared the young Queen.  From the time she was a tot clumsily roaming the halls, she had a natural instinct to fear the Butler.  But that's what appearances were for.  Butlers weren't meant to be cuddly pals.  They were servants.

However, it was clear to Archibald that the Queen was on a warpath.  She had already destroyed several paintings and cracked enough windows to set them back several months in repair.  Windows that had been installed before Archibald came to roost in the Keep.  Blodwen may be Queen but there was a right and wrong way to make a statement.  And Archibald was just the man to speak for the Keep and those who didn't want their home caving in on their heads.

With a silent grace that could only come from years of practice, Archibald poured a cup of tea for Blodwen and set the small plate in front of her.  It wasn't a suggestion.  It was more a command to eat something.  After a long moment, Archibald righted himself into his normal, tight posture, his miss matched eyes studying the Queen's face.  "I may not be a Queen but I have served more Queens than you have had the privilege of being."

In an attempt to not loom over the already frightened Queen, Archibald turned his attention to the candles in the room.  With a deft hand, Archibald began lighting the display of light fixtures in the room.  Witchfire was for the inexperienced.  "And in that time of serving and observing Queens, I've learned one thing specifically.  Your household stands at the ready.  But only if you are there to give us a word, Lady."

Turning, Archibald stared intensely at the young Queen. His posture was that of the architecture, cold, ominous.  He may be a simple Butler but Archibald wasn't a fool.  It was time for the Queen to know exactly who she was dealing with.
 "After all.  Your word is law here."

Offline Blodwen Lyons

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #3 on: Nov 08, 14, 06:11:33 PM »
"I may not be a Queen but I have served more Queens than you have had the privilege of being."

There was nothing quite as annoying as when one of the males of her Court applied logic in a way that she couldn't dispute, no matter how much she might want to. He was right, of course, but that didn't matter. Well, it shouldn't matter, but of course it did. It mattered very much to the Queen who was constantly washed in the emotions of others, yet used her exquisite logic as a shield from the world, hiding behind it when nothing else felt solid or real.

Like today. She couldn't remember a world without Rhys. She needed a new First Escort. That decision would be difficult enough. But how exactly could she replace her brother, and the quiet strength and presence he had always brought her? The house itself felt empty without him, despite the dozens of people that were currently at this moment contained within its walls.

Blodwen understood an unspoken command when it was given. Picking up the tea cup with a still unsteady hand, she brought the cup to her lips, suddenly remembering how fiercely her throat ached. The warm liquid was soothing. It was a thing that Rhys would have done, order tea to be brought to her after the day she had experienced. He wasn't here to do that. But Archibald had done it anyway.

Blodwen tilted her head and considered the butler. She had always assumed his aptly timed appearances had been at the order or suggestion of another member of her household. Like Rhys. Now, she wasn't so sure.

The realization did nothing to settle her nerves around the ominously looming man. She drained the cup of tea, and set the cup down with a none-too-ladylike clatter. 

He spoke again, and she narrowed in on his words. Again, he was right. The Lyons would fight to the death for her, but she had to give the command. So far, she had been withdrawn, silently grieving and working out her plan for how to adapt to the new landscape. The sudden loss of Rhys had spun her further into her own mind and heart, but she couldn't leave her people without clear direction. She simply couldn't.

She did, however, need more time. Her eyes flickered to the butler, very aware of his presence whenever they were in the same room together. She rose and crossed to a mirror on the far wall, taking in her reflection. Her eyes were puffy and red. Her cheeks tear stained. And her throat covered in that dark ring of bruises she refused to let anyone heal.

Weaving her fingers together in an anxious knot, she looked at the resolute man behind her in the mirror. He was as still as a statue, yet carried power within him that was beyond her own reach. And suddenly she found herself talking, words spilling nervously out of cracked lips. "I have no intention of abandoning them. Lyons Manor is still under mourning, and will remain so until the bruises Davos left on me have faded entirely. Then we will act. But not until then. I need time. I need... space."

It was a weird admission from a Queen who had only ever known the constant swarm of bodies and voices, or covered herself constantly in the love and gentle affections of family and Court. And why she was admitting this to Archibald, of all people, she truly didn't know.







Offline Archibald Pennickle

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #4 on: Feb 20, 15, 04:08:47 PM »
Space.  To a man who had dwelled within the walls of the Keep his entire life, space was not a concept that was easily grasped by the Head Butler.  As far as Archibald was concerned, there was more than enough space under this roof.  Clearly, the Queen was speaking to Archibald as if her frilly words as if she could spin enough of a verbal web to ensare the Butler.  Unfortunately for Blodwen, Archibald spoke Queen fluently.  Archibald reigned in his emotions, leaving his face devoid of emotion as he studied the Queen in the reflection of the mirror.  "Are you familiar with the songs of old?  When sung in the proper voice a hymnal of sorrow can also be a dirge of retribution."

Archibald silently turned, facing the young Queen.  Her mother had come to him many a time for advice.  Not because Archibald was a visionary, or a strategist.  But because he was a blunt realist.  And had no problem telling the Queen exactly what she needed to hear.  Taking a resolute step towards Bloodwen, Archibald looked her directly in the eye.  Speaking directly to her for the first time.  "Your need for space does not outweight your duties as Queen.  If you wanted space you should have taken up residence in a field.  You are the Province Queen of Tramore and there is only enough room to breathe... if you dare.  The time you seek will end when you've finished your pot of tea.  After that, the Keep demands that you do something more than cower like a child."

The Prince's voice was soft yet resonated like the very stone the man seemed to be made of.  It was a harsh reality and far be it for Archibald to coddle the Queen.  He didn't do it when she was a child and he wouldn't do it now.  "We have the Sheane Delegation under our roof, watching our every move, and listening at every door.  We can only do so much, Lady.  It's high time you return the favor and stand up for your people.  You owe us that much."

Offline Blodwen Lyons

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 15, 09:49:46 PM »
"Are you familiar with the songs of old?  When sung in the proper voice a hymnal of sorrow can also be a dirge of retribution."

Something stirred within Blodwen at the butler's words. Some decision that had been sliding around uncomfortably settled into place. At war with herself for all these days, a choice she must make solidified into a real thing. Not a thing she might do, not a thing she was considering doing, a thing she would do. There was a sense of terror knowing that this would mean standing before Loreniel Killan, the Queen who held the blood of so many slaughtered Sheanes on her hands. And another part of her felt more at peace, knowing that no matter how dangerous, she knew what she needed to do. 

He moved to stand in front of her, forcing her to face him with nothing more than a mere shift of his body and a few steps forward. His words washed over her like sleet, steeling her spine and hardening her eyes. She was right to be intimidated by this Prince. He understood the way to manipulate a Queen into exactly what he felt was needed. It made her angry, and anger was a feeling she needed access to right now, especially if she was to do what he demanded of her.

Smart. It was dangerous to stand up to her this way, and yet he spoke to her in truth, and reached a place within her no one else had been able to. She wondered how many people in the Manor underestimated the stoic Prince who had served the Manor and the Lyons' Queens for decades. It was a mistake she was quite certain she would never make again.

She walked back to her seat. Sitting, she picked up her tea, very aware that Archibald Pennickle would allow her only exactly as much time as he had offered. Well. At least anger was easier to feel than the horrible, dreading grief of losing so many so quickly. She sipped her tea and studied the butler. "Did you speak to my mother this way as well?" It wasn't an accusation, merely a blunt and honest question.   







Offline Archibald Pennickle

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #6 on: Jun 24, 15, 09:12:48 PM »
Archibald watched the young Queen as she retreated to her seat from where he stood in front of the mantel.  For many long years the Prince had watched over her like a stone gargoyle.  Much like he had her own mother.  Perhaps the young Queen was finally beginning to understand just why her mother had kept him around for as long as she had... and had left the Prince to watch over her child after she'd gone.  With a smile as chilly as the very stone he seemed to be made out of, Archibald bowed his head slightly in a solid nod.  "Your mother was adept at surrounding herself with multifaceted people.  But a true Queen knows when to listen to her people.  Yes.  I spoke to your mother this way and she listened because she respected me."

The butler moved to refill the Queen's cup with a practiced hand, a hand that had poured more than its fair share of tea in his long years as servant.  Archibald's hands moved as if purely using muscle memory.  He'd promised the Queen as soon as the tea was finished, she would be required to act.  But however long it actually took Blodwen to finish her tea, that depended on the course of their conversation.  "Your mother asked me to keep an eye on you.  Not because you aren't capable but because I am capable of serving you.  If anyone knows the goings on within these walls, it is me."

Returning the teapot to its resting place, Archibald moved to stand at attention beside his Queen's chair so he could see her face without looming over the female.  The Butler's face was carefully relaxed and void of emotion, very much reflecting the strong stone walls that he was practically made from. 

Offline Blodwen Lyons

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #7 on: Oct 23, 15, 01:54:56 PM »
Blodwen took another sip of tea. It was soothing, sitting, having tea, speaking with Archibald. She had never once felt soothed by the Opal Prince's presence before, always holding the looming image of him from her childhood as the stoic Prince who served the Manor above all else. Perhaps it was time to let go of that. Perhaps it was time to grow up.

It was strange for Blodwen, the ways in which at times she felt like the most responsible adult in the Manor regardless her age, carrying so much on her shoulders from such a young age. And yet at other times, she felt no older, wiser, or more experienced than she had when she was first learning Craft. Part of it was perhaps living in the same home she grew up in, with all of her siblings and extended family just like she always had.

But things were different now. Her mother was gone. In a way, she was thankful the illness had taken her before she had been there to see what had become of Scelt, before the Sheane Clan had been slaughtered with such brutality. But now she was losing Rhys... Yes. Time to grow up, after all.

Blodwen began speaking in the middle of her thought, as if the butler had been in her mind hearing her thoughts all along. "How long do you think I have before I will be forced to choose a new Escort?" She didn't want to think about it, especially not now, but she also knew that if she were to be the Queen Archibald was demanding of her, the Queen that Tramore needed, she could not do anything to allow her Court to be weak or vulnerable.

A Court needed a Triangle. She would be allowed some lenience, but not much. And it was better to come to terms with that now.   







Offline Archibald Pennickle

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #8 on: Nov 22, 15, 01:49:01 PM »
Archibald had been willing to give the Queen the silence to deal with her thoughts.  But the question she asked him drew a quizzical look from the Butler.  It seemed like an abrupt shift in the conversation.  But wherever the Queen's thoughts were taking her, Archibald would follow.  While he wasn't an expert in protocol, he had known what it took to make a court function.  What was required to keep a Queen safe.

The Prince's voice was soft but not willing to lessen its steel.  It would do the Queen no good to give her slack now.  Especially given the extreme amount of pressure she was about to be under."While there is no specific time frame required for you to choose an Escort in, my advice is that you choose one quickly.  And I would also suggest you choose one befitting that station given the political nature we find ourselves in."

The butler hoped the Queen had someone in mind for the position.  It was going to be difficult enough for the Queen to hold tight to the people who now served her without an Escort.  And the household would suffer with concern until she had a male in place.  "If there was no one you had thought of, I would be more than willing to ask around for any suggestions if that is what you need."

Archibald could pretend he didn't know exactly what the Queen needed.  But he had served more than a few Queens in his life to know that when she was ready, she would ask him.  Blodwen was smart.  She was capable.  And Archibald had no concern about the road ahead of her. 

Offline Blodwen Lyons

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #9 on: Oct 16, 16, 03:36:43 AM »
It was too soon. Despite the family motto, Blodwen's heart ached to not have to be wise or rational in this matter. Too much had happened too quickly. As a woman, a sister, a friend, a member of the Blood, she needed to grieve what had been lost so suddenly. There had been no ability to prepare, no opportunity to choose a course of action. And the very people she would have turned to for support had been ripped away from her, one after the other.

As a Queen of the Blood, she was the caretaker of the land. She was also the caretaker of the people who lived on that land, who farmed, and raised livestock. The village Queens spoke for them to the District Queens, and the District Queens spoke for them to her. And she, she spoke for them all. What had transpired was a travesty. The Blood have no law against murder, but there are consequences for one's actions, especially when that one was a Territory Queen.

This, however, was not hers to carry. As much grief and fury dwelled within the bruised hollow of her throat, and the aching cavern of her chest, she was not Loreniel's judge, nor her executioner. She wondered if the Sapphire Queen would go down in the history of Scelt as Loreniel the Bloody, or Loreniel the Mad, or Loreniel the Savior. By the time that had come to pass, Blodwen would be long from this Realm, and these lands, and these people would no longer be her concern.

And that was why what her butler said grated at her so harshly. Because, like so many of the males in her life when they pushed at her, he was right. She belonged out there. She was the voice of Tramore, and her rule here was law. Her people needed to see her, and hear her, and be reassured that the reign of the Lyons Clan still stood strong, and that their Queen could stand in the face of such brutality and still raise her voice on their behalf.

As a woman, and a sister, and a friend, she grieved so deeply she thought she might never be whole again. But as Queen of Tramore, she didn't have the luxury to question that. She would go on, no matter how many pieces of her heart were carved from her chest.

The silence had stretched out between them for some time. And finally, Blodwen squared her shoulders, took a deep, shuddering breath, and raised her eyes defiantly. "Yes. Please ask around. I... I would appreciate the recommendations. After all, you have served more Queens, than I have been, haven't you?" The last was the closest she had ever come to making a joke with the butler she had spent her life so terrified of, and yet, also held the edge of a Queen's ferocity when the safety of her people was at stake.







Offline Archibald Pennickle

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #10 on: Dec 03, 17, 11:25:18 AM »
It would do neither of them any good at this point for Archibald to bow in his stance.  The softer parts of him that remembered a young, toddling Queen running up and down his hall would have bent at that moment, a need to show some sort of affection to ease the suffering the Queen was experiencing.  However, the Prince knew his real place.  He wasn't the one she should go to for safety.  Archibald was the hard place the Queen knew she could brace against when facing a rock.  She needed him as he was and how he had always been.  The sense of normalcy could only help her.

The butler stepped forward to pour the last of the Queen's tea into her cup as he watched her struggle with whatever internal battle was taken place.  The quiet click of the kettle sitting on its plate a reminder of how little time she had left.  "I will gladly do so.  With the understanding that as you finish the last of your tea you will begin to compose yourself."

Offering his Queen and charge his handkerchief from his breast pocket, Archibald cleared his throat.  "Clean your face.  When you walk out of this room your pain no longer matters.  The safety and well being of your people is the utmost concern."

It was true that Archibald had served many Queens.  He knew their kind more than most.  However, he couldn't speak to the struggles their nature came with.  All the Prince could do was insist that the Queen focus on the things that she could handle.  For the sake of them all.  "There will come a time for mourning.  This is not it.  You're a Lyons, Blodwen.  And I believe it is time to show this territory exactly what that means."

Offline Blodwen Lyons

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Re: Storms and Stone
« Reply #11 on: Dec 14, 17, 05:00:21 AM »
Not every Manor had an Opal Jeweled butler. The Lyons were special in that, special in many things, truth be told. For the most part, they got along. They loved, they laughed, they fought, they ruled all under one rather large roof. Queens were plentiful in her bloodline, albeit light Jeweled ones, they were Queens just the same. The staff was loyal and the people of Tramore genuinely liked the Lyons and prospered, as best they could under the current circumstances, under their rule. It was for their sake she had said no to Davos. Her fingers raised to her throat without thought before she caught herself and forced her hand back to her lap.

The same had not been true of the Sheanes. The people who lived beneath their rule did not all like the Clan that stood at the head of Denford. But there were ways to handle things one did not like, and it did not involve slaughtering entire Clans. Her back straightened as she thought it, her sense of justice outraged at what Loreniel had done, and what the Darkness had done in her stead.

She took the offered handkerchief and dried her eyes, a bit of Craft causing the redness of her cheeks to fade away. Those who knew her well might still now that she had been upset, but the people, her people, who needed her to lead them through what would come next, would not.

She finished her tea and stood up. "Right then. We have things to do. Riders need to be sent to the border along Denford to ensure the people there feel safe and know that I am still their Queen and I will protect them. Loreniel may handle things her way, I'll handle things mine. This is my Province and I'll not see it hurt because the Territory Queen threw a tantrum." She smoothed the front of her dark dress, a clear sign of her mourning.

Settling her gaze out the window, she continued to list off things that needed to be done. Shelters for those misplaced. Extra guard shifts for the brigands who would no doubt try to take advantage of the upset. Gathering places for those wanting to seek safety in the presence of other. She did not say these things to her butler because he would execute them, but because he had pulled her from within herself and reminded her that for a Queen, even grief was not a thing that could be afforded to be done alone. Even this did not belong to her alone.

"I want them to see the Lyons Clan strong and steadfast. I want them to know that I have not abandoned them." She turned then, and looked at him. "Thank you, Archibald. For the reminder. Now. Where do we begin?"










 

 

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