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* Plot Information for Dena Nehele

With the full force of the Guilds at her back, Rilandra Vlas seized the Territory Throne of Dena Nehele. The common born Province Queen now owes allegiance to the Master of the Guilds for his assistance in both securing the throne and securing Darcia Glassade's continual safety. Trapped between the demands of the Guilds and the demands of the Aristos, Riley is struggling to rule, finding the palace more of a cage than she could have dreamed possible.
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Author Topic: don't let me get me  (Read 403 times)

Description: Attn: Nick

Offline Sorinna Roman

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    • white2rose
    • queen
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      Proxy Queen

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      Dena Nehele

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      Gavin

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don't let me get me
« on: Sep 09, 19, 11:49:29 AM »
Takes place immediately after I can’t trust you because I can’t trust me


The back-to-back discussions with Radu and Quinten had drained Sora of much of her energy and some of her Craft. Both males had expressed issues with her worldview and the way that she handled things. They both believed, from all that Sora had gathered, that she was too sheltered to understand how people really lived out in Dena Nehele. Riley would be furious on her behalf, as would Jude. Marius would say that both men had no clue what they were saying. Gabri would tell her that it was fine and not to let them get her down. But Gabri wasn’t here right now and Sora found faith in herself shaken as her personal reservoirs of energy and understanding had been taxed to their limits.

She walked over to the small bar and poured herself a finger of scotch. Then she recalled the deep and abiding well of pain and hurt that she’d felt from Quinten and she poured herself a bit more. She needed something to take her mind off both of those discussions she’d just had before getting back to work. She still had to finish the drafts of her letter to Prince Corro of Tacea regarding the issue in Silca, followed by the schedule for the next rites she wanted to do in Hunedoara before year’s end. Even if Riley couldn’t go, Sora would see it done. She’d made a promise to Lady Tailor and that was all there was to it. She would stand by her word.

Shaking hands lifted the glass to her lips; it was clear that she wasn’t used to day-drinking at all. Her mouth twisted into a grimace and she choked down the alcohol as it burned its way down her throat. She set it down and sighed, trying to release the negative energy that had been building for hours now.

She looked to Nick, who’d been watching her in silence this entire time. He’d held his tongue more than once today; she could sense it even if they didn’t share a bond. Nick was extremely reasoned and cut through all of the bullshit that Sora got from most of the Court that she wasn’t bonded or related to. If anyone else would be straight with her right now, it was the Red Warlord Prince before her.

She turned and faced him, leaning back against the bar. Her green-gold eyes looked him over from head to toe before lingering on his face once more. The line of his jaw was one of his best features. Sora had to put the thought aside, briefly, as she asked her question.

Nick, are they right? Am I too sheltered to understand what’s going on outside this place?” she asked. It was a loaded question, but Sora was ready to hear from someone who would speak plainly to her, before she talked to Jeremiah.

Nick was hers, even if he wasn’t hers. She knew he’d give her honesty when asked.

Right now, she needed it.










Offline Niccolo Faa

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #1 on: Sep 09, 19, 06:52:24 PM »
Prince Nick Faa’s duty rotation had him spending a considerable amount of time in Sora’s company. She was the acting Queen of the Territory, and they enjoyed a special connection that allowed them to enjoy each other’s company. Like any Warlord Prince, Nick found comfort in the Queen’s scent, and in her presence, but this was especially true of Sora. She had touched him, with both her Craft and her affection, and he had been welcomed into something of a unique circle. Nick took his protection of Sora very seriously for many reasons, the least of which was that she was the acting Territory Queen, the greatest of which was that she was his acting Territory Queen. He had become used to standing by, either flanking the Lady or being in the same room or area, keeping his own counsel and remaining very alert. He occasionally made certain Sora stopped to eat, and distracted her when she seemed to need it most in his estimation.

He was not surprised that she asked him to stay in the room when she met with Orfan. Nick would have found a way to do so with or without Sora’s express desire. He was there as an Escort, and that meant it was his responsibility to protect the Queen, and it was his reasoning that mattered when it came to Sora’s safety. It was the one place that he could overrule the Interim Queen of Dena Nehele, but that was true only in regards to her safety. Nick’s Trust was a rare commodity, and Orfan had done nothing to invest in it, so as far as he was concerned, there was the potential for danger there, and so he would have stayed. That Sora wanted him to just made things easier. So, he was in the room when she met with Orfan, and he had quietly observed. It was clear to Orfan why Nick was there, and that was also a positive. He was also there when Quinten made his surprise entrance.

Sora’s words were direct. Nick preferred being direct. His approval was broadast to the Queen with a subtle touch that invisible caressed the nape of her neck, encouraging her to stand her ground, and to keep her cool where she could. He said nothing to Orfan’s concern regarding what was or was not Nick’s business. He was not there to make anyone comfortable, that included Orfan. The only person whose comfort he encouraged was seated next to him. He listened, because that was really all he was meant to do unless things escalated. He heard the reasons given, and he heard Sora’s response to the same. Nick agreed with Sora, not out of solidarity, but because logically she was correct. Orfan’s reasoning implied unresolved issues that he should have long ago seen a Black Widow or even Riley about, for either Mind or Emotional Healing, or by the Myos. Nick had misliked the inference in Orfan’s tone, and the tenor of the entire conversation. Orfan, like young Quinten later, was woefully misguided.

What was wrong with these children? They had all received the same education Sora had, the same education that he had. In fact, they had received it for longer than Nick had. He had come by his Protocol by instinct and his Uncle’s twisted view, his ability to function in ‘civilization’ existed for the same reasons. They had been altered, reinforced for the better, and polished by Prince Belmont and Lady Sala, as well as the rest of the Court. Nick had felt the surge in Orfan, the need for action, it was a need he felt himself. He tilted his head slightly and waited, but the other Warlord Prince did nothing, but bemoan the fate of Quinten, another adult he seemed unable to act like one. Bonded or not, Quinten was his own man, as Orfan should have known, and should be himself. Nick barely had the chance to touch Sora to comfort and support her, sitting on her desk to share a few words, before Quinten Heartley had been ushered in. In many ways, the Warlord was worse, not only was he bonded, but to Nick’s view, he was also delusional.

After Quinten’s departure, Nick said nothing. He watched Sora rise and get herself a drink, and sensed her eyes upon him after a moment. She leaned against the bar, and while he was tempted to walk over to her, and embrace her, he also sensed that was not what she needed in that moment. ”No.” He answered plainly, ”Nothing either Orfan or Heartly said is correct. You have not been sheltered. The children seem to think they have cornered the market on adversity and tragedy, that pain of any kind is somehow exclusive to them, or to the poor.” He shook his head, his voice as calm as it ever was. ”This is Dena Nehele. It is built on secrets and tragedy. You know this as well as I do. I came here standing on a pile of bodies, Sora. I came here covered in blood, tortured by those that should have sheltered and comforted me. I was offered a home. I was offered an education. I was offered acceptance.” He gestured at the door, ”As were they, and for longer.” Nick regarded Sora for a long moment, ”You are the Queen, Sora. You are obviously concerned about every one within it’s borders. Where some are content merely to survive this place, you are moved to change it.” He took a breath, and now he did walk over to her, standing before her. ”If you were mine, given to me by Mother Night, I would be very proud to serve and to protect you, as Marius is.” Nick’s hand rose to cup her cheek as he met her eyes, ”You have a compassion that I do not understand. You were well chosen for this role. Never think otherwise.”








Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #2 on: Sep 09, 19, 07:03:09 PM »
The tension in Sora’s posture drained away at Nick’s words. He would see, easily, that his response had helped. Her back hurt a little from maintaining perfect posture all day, every day, but that paled in comparison to the relief she felt. Sora’s story was known well enough that she never thought that she’d been “lucky” enough to escape the tragedies that Dena Nehele offered to the Queens within its borders. Arkadie and Gabri had grown up in other Territories. Few of Dena Nehele’s current Queens understood what it meant to live in fear of being murdered every day, but Sora understood.

Some people didn’t consider that experience valid enough.

Nick walked over to stand before her. Sora remained leaning against the bar, watching him quietly. He was fearsome, even without his Red Jewel. He watched over her and kept her from delving too deep into her work that she fatigued herself sooner than expected. She deferred to his suggestions because it soothed his need to protect and serve and also because it was just nice to be around someone who wanted to be near her as well. She’d learned several lessons during her tenure as Proxy Queen, but the biggest lesson was the one she knew that Riley and her sisters Queens had already experienced: this role was a lonely one.

Thank you, Nick. Mother Night didn’t give you to me, but you’re mine all the same.” she said, finally rising to stand face-to-face before him as he cupped her cheek. She leaned into his touch, simply enjoying the skin-to-skin connection between them. Her mind wandered, wanting to lean forward and kiss the line of his jaw. He enjoyed that. He’d respond to it, she knew, and it wouldn’t take long for her mind to wander away from work and off to other things. The aura of her Touch enveloped him, allowing Sora to show him the depth of her comfort and pleasure with him while he supported her in turn. Her confidence was returning.

My training with Jude has shown me that Dena Nehele has been so sick for so long, but it’s just grown used to its ills. It’s hard to combat that when people are so focused on what they’re going to lose if they make room for others. Or they’re focused on what they didn’t have instead of what they do have.” Sora said.

And Riley’s going to bring a baby into this madness.” she said, reaching up to place her hand over Nick’s while it rested along her cheek. She wanted Riley and the baby to have every happiness and joy possible, but her child would be used against her. Sora understood that, too.

Summer’s coming soon. One year since that horrible day last summer and I don’t even know where to start on acknowledging all that’s happened. I’m struggling with my own feelings about everything and trying to put up a graceful, dignified front at the same time. Hunedora is still a mess. And then there’s Tacea to deal with…” she said.

She had so much work to do and so little time.

How are you doing? Can I do anything to help you right now?” she asked. If nothing else, Nick could at least help her organize her thoughts on everything coming her way in the next few months before Riley was back on her feet and ready to work.










Offline Niccolo Faa

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #3 on: Sep 09, 19, 07:10:17 PM »
Nick favored Sora with one of his small, brief, ghostly smiles when she thanked him and leaned slightly into his touch all at once. ”You are always welcome, Sora.” From his perspective, Sora never had to thank him. His life was one of scales always shifting, and a need for balance, for every exchange to be fair and consensual. He could not truly articulate that, but some, like Jeremiah, had figured that out where he was concerned. Savi had, to some extent, and it helped to know that he was understood, and perhaps even approved of, in this regard. Nick felt her Touch move through him, and he breathed a small sigh. His reaction to it was never not noticed, never not a little dramatic. He was not starved for touch, Craft or otherwise, but the feel of it was still wondrous to him each and every time. He stepped even closer, and nuzzled her softly, before straightening. ”I have asked that a little food be brought for you. Marius will bring it in when it arrives.”

Sora’s hand covered his own, and he leaned forward again, gently touching his forehead to hers. ”I understand sickness, better than most think. Sometimes a thing has to be scoured. Burnt out, before it can be rebuilt.” His voice remained even and quiet, the depth of it familiar and possibly soothing. Nick did not speak in metaphors, typically, and he was not speaking in one now. ”The Great Dragon I saw during my Offering does not care about our illusions. Mother Night is a simple and terrible truth; Dena Nehele has been doing it wrong for decades. We became what was necessary to subvert Eyrien conquerors, and now we subvert ourselves.” Nick straightened, and took her hand in his leading her back to the seat behind her desk, where he encouraged her to sit, and then gently laid his hands on her shoulders, his thumbs massage the base of her neck. ”Riley’s child will be well shielded from madness.”

Nick listened to her concerns silently, absorbing each and every words, until she came to directly asking him about his well-being. He would not passively lie to Sora, and simply tell her he was fine. They were psychic beings, and they were intimate, she would know if he was off-balance or otherwise unwell, but within that moment, he was content. It was the honest answer, ”I am content to be with you right now, Sora.” He continued his massage, ”I am here to tend to you. If I need tending, I promise you that I will let you know.” He continued his gentle work, using Craft to run his touch down her spine, invisible hands massaging the small of her back in a similar fashion as those that worked her neck and shoulders. Nick had learned about tension spots from his own research into anatomy, and healing—he had no intention of trying to become a Healer, but he remained fascinated with the body’s workings. It was Seduction Craft, but there was no reason it could not serve a dual purpose.  ”I would like you to tell me how you are feeling. What is it you are struggling with?”

He leaned over her, meeting her eyes from a somewhat upside down angle, which forced her to lift her chin to look up into his bright cat-like eyes. ”You are always graceful and dignified. Do not try so hard. Food is coming, it will cushion the scotch.” He straightened to continue his attentions, ”Other than the terribly obvious, what is troubling you right now?”








Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #4 on: Sep 10, 19, 09:48:13 AM »
Sora was always amused and grateful for the way that Nick reacted to her Touch. She did not believe in withholding it or only granting it when her males were upset or in need of comfort. Sora gave of herself because she was made to do so. Her blood fueled the land’s growth and health. Her Touch brought peace to her males and, in turn, helped her stay calm. The exchanges between them ebbed and flowed like the tides. Sometimes she needed more and they provided. Other times they required more of her and it was her honor and duty to provide.

That made it harder to deal with the situation with Quinten. She worried that, no matter what she gave, it would be enough for him.

Nick said that food was coming soon and Sora relaxed a bit more. He read her moods very well. Only once had she allowed her stomach to growl in Nick’s presence; after that, the Warlord Prince always made sure that something was on its way to her office or that something was on hand for her to snack upon while she worked. It took two weeks for her to realize that he’d silently seen to her physical needs without her conscious request. She was simply able to work for longer periods and focus on the things that mattered, which made her more productive.

He moved closer and she stood there with him for a moment, breathing in his scent.

You’re right. It has been wrong for a long, long time. I’m just one person, one Queen, but the idea of changing it feels right to me. I’m just afraid that my courage will disappear if I have to choose between doing what’s right and keeping what’s mine.” Sora said, sighing softly.

She let Nick guide her back to her desk, sitting down and letting him rub her shoulders. She shouldn’t feel this fatigued right now. She held it together during meetings and in Court, but there was an undercurrent of sadness and worry to Sora’s emotions that Nick couldn’t have missed. He was far too perceptive to miss it. But he never tried to drag the truth from her. He simply spoke and then let her bring forth her own thoughts. It took some time, sometimes, for Sora to feel comfortable enough to voice those thoughts, but eventually she did.

She leaned forward in her chair, letting him knead her flesh and loosen her muscles. His Seduction Craft lured her into thinking of other uses for the desk. Whether or not Nick intended it, Sora didn’t care. She was grateful for the distraction. When she finally looked up into his eyes, Sora reached up to drag her nails gently down the back of his neck. His questions were simple. They should have had simple answers.

I’m afraid of being a terrible Queen.

I’m afraid of being a terrible person.

I’m afraid that people will only look at me and see Riley.

She said none of those things, but it was clear in her mien that something was troubling her, something she wasn’t saying.

She sighed once more.

It’s been a year since Tantalus.” she said softly. Her right hand drifted down to her belly, resting over the spot where the knife had sunk home twice with lethal efficiency. Nick was there that night. She’d been told that he’d also wanted to find the person who attacked her and end them.  He was a Warlord Prince who’d scented the blood of a Queen. His reaction was utterly predictable and understandable. He’d focused, instead, on protecting her while she lay dying and then watched over her during her convalescence. It was how she knew that she was more than just another Queen to Nick. He wasn’t merely doing his duty in being kind to her. He cared more than he expressed in simple words.

Do you know that I can barely look at the knives at dinner without having a panic attack sometimes? I ask for my food to be pre-cut before it’s served because I can’t look at them. I don’t want to. But that’s why I try to have my meals in private now. I don’t like anyone knowing that something so small can get to me.” Sora said softly.

I almost died, Nick. I didn’t, but...I remember the blood the most. Not even the pain. Just the sheer amount of blood. My training with Jude has made me do a lot of thinking and refining what kind of Queen and Healer I want to be. If I wasn’t here at Court, if I lived somewhere like Hunedora and that happened to me? I’d be dead  right now.” she said.

Or if Jude hadn’t been close enough to help, I would be dead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to be alive. I am. But I keep thinking about all the people who weren’t as lucky as me. The ones who got hurt and have to live with crippling injuries. The ones who die in childbirth because they don’t have access to Healers who can help them.” Sora said, interrupting Nick’s massage so that she could rise from her seat.

She indicated that he should sit down the chair. If he did so, Sora would then move to sit in his lap. Her arms wrapped gently around his neck and she pressed her forehead against his.

So it does bother me when Radu and Quinten tell me that I’m sheltered and that I don’t know what it’s like to face adversity. Part of me is scared that they’re right. Part of me is scared that, when the time comes to make a hard choice, I’ll make the wrong one because I don’t have the killer instinct that all these professional courtiers have. Riley became the Queen of Dena Nehele to save her best friend from people who wanted to make her a puppet.” Sora said, breathing in Nick’s scent and trying to remain calm. She shifted in his lap, trying to get comfortable. The rasp of fabric between her dress and his pants helped her understand why it felt like she was sliding away from him. She settled and simply tried to quiet her thoughts.

If Riley was in that kind of trouble, I tell myself that I’d have the courage to confront the Guilds and claim a throne to save her. Or Gabri. I hope I could do it, but I don’t know.” she said, falling silent.










Offline Niccolo Faa

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #5 on: Sep 10, 19, 11:34:31 AM »
Only one person understood that Nick could be dead by now. He had chosen life time and time again. For him, for some time, life meant the sort of pain that could never be forgotten, never be lessened, a burden that could never be made lighter. No one could share that burden with him. He had believed that no one could possibly understand the horror, the pain, and the tragedy of who he was, or rather what he believed he had to be. The man he was had been carved out of that mess, partly because of Black Widow Craft, partly because of Queen’s Craft, but mainly because of connection, real and true and profound. It began with Sway, and the rules. He could hardly claim to be doing his part for her, if he did anything less than his best, and death was surely less than his best. So, he’d chosen life and slowly, life began to offer him more than pain, more than horror, more than feeling inhuman. Nick was by no stretch ‘fixed’, he still was unmoved by the death of his entire family, but now he knew that he should be, but those feelings were as distant as stars without Sora’s Craft.

Life had given him the opportunity to create more connections, to gather more ‘territory’ in the way of people, and more ways to let his instincts be his guide. Where before his instincts were for death and destruction, now they were for something more, he could make something out of letting himself serve and protect. He was a Warlord Prince, the violence was still there, and in Nick’s case, it was always just behind his passive expression. Violence were among his oldest lessons, and he’d learned them well, but in Sora’s company he leaned more heavily into building something, into letting his Caste carry him forward into service. Prince Nick Florian Faa would repay the kindness and education of the Territory Court by being as close to the perfect escort as he could get himself, and he would further repay Sora by cherishing her as she cherished him. Scales and balance, but a bit less death, unless there was a contract or necessity. It was, Nick found, a remarkable thing. Living was like an experiment to him, and every day could potentially result in something new—even death was an adventure if one viewed it through the lens of borrowed time.

Nick took care of Sora because she needed someone to do so. Marius and he had become a team in that regard. He respected him as her Bonded, and indeed, respected all of her Bonded, but it was most often to Marius that he deferred. He would take an order from Sora or from Marius, but from no one else. Jeremiah, perhaps, could dismiss him from his duty, but he would still look to Sora for confirmation, the Steward was not the Queen, after all. He had never thought anything of being Sora’s guardian, it had seemed a natural posting to him. He was a Red Warlord Prince and already enjoyed a good relationship with the young Queen, he did not know how far people’s knowledge of their relationship went, but it was clear that they enjoyed each other’s company. So, being assigned to her had been an easy thing, but he could not have predicated all of the ways it would expand. Nick paid close attention to her because he always did, making sure she was eating, and resting only seemed natural. In a way, it mirrored what Jeremiah had always done for Riley.

Sora was grateful, and showed him in ways that were great and subtle, but Nick did these things because she was his, and she needed him to. It was simple really. He listened to her, glad that he had made sense to her in his own way, and she let him take care of her. Taking care of her pleased him, soothed him as much as her Touch did, albeit in a different way. It felt right. Everything he had done under his Uncle’s thumb had never felt right, it had always run against the grain, but taking care of Sora felt right. It allowed him to engage a part of himself that he kept in strict control when he wore the mask and let his true darkness work through him. He soothed her, and while he could feel her arousal, he did not change his methods. If desire relaxed her, they could attend to that later. She reached up and teased at his skin, pulling a soft growl that rumbled in his chest. He had asked his question then, and he was content to wait for his answer.

It did not take long for their positions to be reversed, he sat in her chair, and now she was in his lap. Nick cradled her against him, and nuzzled her as he listened to her words, but also carefully absorbed her feelings. She was the center of all of his attention for the moment, the room screened and locked against the access of all save Marius, and he would knock before he entered. ”I remember Tantalus.” That had been the Killing Edge in just a heartbeat, still flushed from the beauty of Sway’s performance, the scent had pulled him straight to violence, but he had been redirected. Nick had protected her and Riley, and then remained at Riley's side until the one that had posted him dismissed him. It was not only duty that turned him into a ghost in the halls, making sure those that were his were well. ”I have noticed that, yes. I did not ask. I believed that you would tell me in time.” He held her close then, protectively, hugging her tight, his face against the side of her neck. ”You lived. Examining tragic alternatives is only borrowing trouble. Prince Belmont has said, ‘Worry is like interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes due’.” He kissed her skin, and lifted his forehead back to hers. ”I am not saying you should not be concerned, only that the past is done. You have learned from it, but that is all that it should do. It should teach you, not control you.”

Nick’s hand settled over the spot where her wound was, with a touch so light it would have been easy to dismiss. ”This is not who you are. You already want to change things in Hunedora, and in other places. You were here, and I am thankful that you were.” He shook his head slightly, ”I was not as lucky as you, Sora, nor even Orfan nor even the Heartlys. I do not hold it against you, or them. My disdain for them is not because of their circumstances, but rather what they chose to do with it, and their lack of gratitude for it. You know exactly how fortunate you are, that makes all the difference.” He growled at the mention of the two, an uncharacteristic expression of annoyance that was made all the more real because of its source. ”Surviving assassination is very far from being sheltered.” Nick sat up at the mention of her fear, and he cupped her face in his hand, he held her gaze silently for a very long moment, struggling to find the right words to encourage her. ”Sorinna, of course you would.” He gestured, ”If my Uncle were still alive and he came to Court to claim me, would you not fight to keep me safe? I know that you would. I do not trust easily, nor do I place my faith often, but I have faith in you Sorinna Roman. You would not be mine otherwise. I chose you, you carry tiny piece of me with you everywhere. You are as courageous and brave as you worry you are not.”

He spoke softly, but with the certainty that these words were simple, elegant truths that could not be argued.








Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #6 on: Sep 11, 19, 11:56:23 AM »
I remember Tantalus.

Nick had a way of infusing every word he spoke with more emotion than some people could back into the most flowery language possible. Nick wasn’t given to indulging his emotions, as Sora had learned over months of spending time with him. When he did, she gained a glimpse into his soul that revealed just how deep a Warlord Prince’s passions and feelings could run. He’d picked up on her aversion to knives but never pressed her to explain it or simply get over it. He knew that there was an issue, but waited for her to bring it forth.

She was fortunate to have him.

She stilled, involuntarily, when he touched the area where she’d been stabbed. He knew, by now, that Sora had that reaction whenever he did that. She’d long abandoned fear of his touch, but she still held a bit of self-consciousness about the wound in question and what it had taken away from her. She hated feeling that way, but she relaxed and laid her hand over Nick’s. He held her close, and Sora wasn’t afraid. She was protected here and she knew that Marius, Nick, and anyone within earshot would fight to their last to protect her. But even if they somehow got past Marius and bested Nick (two things Sora didn’t think anyone was really capable of), they wouldn’t live to enjoy their victories.

I lived. That’s why I want to be the best Queen possible. I want to be worthy of the pride and belief that Cezar and my father had in me. I want to be worthy of your faith in me, Nick. And I will be. You have my word on that.” Sora said softly.

She was silent, for a time, as Nick she considered Nick’s uncle. The man was dead, but Sora knew that she’d do whatever was necessary to keep Nick from harm. She wanted to claw out Milo Welvert’s eyes for even attempting to take him just a few months back. Nick didn’t need her to do that, but fighting for those who were hers, protecting them, those were deep needs in her life. Even more than ruling, she wanted to protect the people given to her by Mother Night, by bond and otherwise.

It’s funny how the people around us shape us, isn’t it? You enjoy being near me. Even if I asked you to leave right now, you would...but you’d keep checking in. Meanwhile, my own mother missed my Offering and hasn’t even written to me in a year to explain what happened. And Lord Groza, my newest male...I thought that, by now, he’d be clawing through the walls trying to get to me.” Sora said.

He hasn’t even made contact. It’s like he plans to ignore me until he doesn’t feel it anymore. It hurts. I’m tempted to send people after both of them to see if they’re safe, but...does that make me a fool? If I care about people who don’t care about me, do you think I’m hoping for something that will never happen?” she asked.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #7 on: Sep 11, 19, 12:14:06 PM »
Sora was the product of the palace’s education, and the direct influence of both Riley and Jeremiah. She had been prepared for this interim office for most of her adult life. She had endured and survived, and everything had led to this moment in time. In Nick’s view, she was precisely where she should be, and not just because she was cradled in his arms, but because she had earned this seat, because she had the heart for it, and because she was a Queen, as deserving of the implications of her Caste as Riley was. He wanted her to believe that, but words were small things when stacked against her own feelings, so he would simply show her when and where she could. ”You have proven yourself worthy many times over, anyone saying otherwise is blind or, more likely, far too short-sighted to see what is right in front of them.”

He felt the impact his words had on her, how they both startled and angered her. He knew he was right, and so did she. That latter part of the equation was the most important. ”All of that is true, Sora. Even dismissed, I would still protect you, and want to be in your company.” Nick did not understand these Bonded of hers. They did not seem to understand the gift they had been given. Their Queen could have been a monster, but she was not. The Red Warlord Prince would not wish his Bond on anyone he truly cared about, he would be a burden. Sora’s soul was too good to be bound to his own. He was not good, but that did not matter, she was still his. ”Mother Night gave you both the Bond, and for whatever reason, he has refused it. That says more about him than you. He did not know you until that moment.”

Nick nuzzled her, and considered her question carefully. It was an emotional question, to some extent, and he was not all that precise or clear about such things. ”It is not the same. The context is that of a mystical Bond that none of you expected or asked for. I think it is natural to hope that these Bonded care about you.” He smiled very, very slightly. ”But at some point, you have to stop hoping, and look to those that you know care about you. You are no one’s fool, Sora, and you should not let anyone turn you into one just because you share a Bond.” He considered his words again, always that small pause as he gathered his thoughts. ”I am always fascinated by the entitlement that so many seem to have, and the ingratitude that all of that implies. What was it my guard used to say….you cannot sell the cow and drink the milk for free.” He gently brushed hair from her face, his fingers lightly caressing her cheek. ”You deserve better. Lady Gabriella would agree with me were she here.”








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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #8 on: Sep 11, 19, 12:34:33 PM »
Nick was right.

Sora wanted to believe the best about people, despite what life had shown her. If Lord Groza showed up right now, asking to see her, she would put aside her grievances just to have a chance to know him. Despite her anger at her mother, if she came here today and apologized for bailing out on her Offering and the years she wasn’t available, Sora would find a way to set aside her anger and enjoy having her around. But these people were either too proud or too neglectful to show her that consideration. They treated her presence in their lives as an option, rather than a necessity.

Sora had to respond in kind.

Nick cut to the heart of the matter. She needed to focus her attention on the people who showed up and proved themselves daily. She couldn’t know the hearts of Lord Groza or her mother, but she knew Quinten’s heart and the tumult that coursed through it. She knew Marius’s heart and the loneliness that sometimes threatened to strangle him, the grief and guilt that nagged at him despite her attempts to assuage it. She knew Ben’s heart and his joy at finding her commingled with the sadness of losing his family as the decades rolled by. She knew Gabriella’s heart and her desire to be a good Queen despite the lies she’d been fed.

And she knew Nick’s heart. The heart of a man who’d been treated as less than human for so long that he’d started to believe it before he found people who nurtured the good in him. He wasn’t given to emotional outbursts or bouts of doubt, making him the perfect person to help Sora in her moments when her faith in herself wavered.

Gabriella would say that. She’d agree with you completely. She’d probably kiss you to show her solidarity with your position.” Sora said.

Her forehead touched his again. “I’m sure that she wouldn’t mind if I spoke for her this one time.” she said softly.

She pressed her lips to his, softly at first. Then she deepened the kiss enough that she could simply lose herself in his embrace for a little while longer.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #9 on: Sep 11, 19, 02:02:47 PM »
Nick was under no illusions that he was a ‘good’ person. He, like Dena Nehele, was built on tragedy and secrets. He wore masks, and while the one he wore with Sora held a fair amount of truth, it was still a mask. Being good to Sora was part of that truth, but it did not make him ‘good’. He understood that he could be a positive or a negative force, but morality was a construct, and one he had never had the opportunity to invest in. Nick had his own perspective on the world, his own way of seeing it and the people around him. He would give his life for Sora’s for any number of reasons, one of them being that he knew she would do the same. Anyone that thinks that is a small thing is an idiot. It had nothing to do with her goodness, and Nick believed that Sora was absolutely a light in a dark world, she would do so because she had chosen him. The only way to repay that gift was to do the same.

”Lady Gabriella is wise beyond her years. We see eye to eye on most things.” This was true, particularly when it came to Sorinna Roman. Nick tilted his head at Sora’s declaration, ”We shall have to ask her to be sure.” She leaned against him once again, and then kissed him. Of course, Nick kissed her back. He felt no need to restrain himself in this particular context, especially given the fact that Sora had initiated the moment. He kissed her with the same heat that she had come to recognize since their relationship had grown into this more intimate territory, and he held her close in a manner that spoke both of passion and tenderness. Sora deserved to feel cared for, desired, even taken care of, and Nick gave her his very best in all regards. He kissed her until they were breathless, and he felt a familiar tapping at his psychic outer shields, and heard a quiet knock at the door.

Nick broke the kiss to look at the door, and took a moment to communicate with Marius. A moment later, a tray of food materialized on the front right corner of the desk, covered to keep it warm, but the scent of the meal began to tickle the senses almost immediately. He looked down into Sora’s eyes, his hand against the side of her face, his thumb idly tracing her lower lip for a long moment. He kissed her again, briefly and gently, teasing out her lower lip, before he said, ”I would be remiss in my duties if I did not tell you that you should eat.” He did not move, despite the calm earnest tone of his words. He still held her close, and was still nearly close enough for their noses to touch. ”There are only two more items on your agenda, but given the stress of this day, as Escort, I am inclined to reschedule them for tomorrow—I would need to let the Steward’s office know.”

Jeremiah’s people would communicate the change to Jeremiah himself, and Nick was certain that he would not mind, especially if it was better for Sora. Like Riley, she would push herself to exhaustion, and that would not do. He reached out past her, and drew the tray closer to see what was being offered. He uncovered the plates, and removed a towel from a smaller one. His eyebrows rose, ”I think I baked that pie. I have been learning how to do so from Lady Sala.”








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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #10 on: Sep 11, 19, 02:05:25 PM »
Sora gave herself over to the kiss, responding to Nick as he responded to her. She knew that she could spend the rest of the day this way. She wanted to put her Healer studies, diplomacy, and the greater issues facing Dena Nehele aside for the rest of the day so that she could relax. Nick made her feel cared for and desired, but mostly she just felt like herself. She didn’t need to be the Queen of Dena Nehele here. She wasn’t Riley’s Ward. She wasn’t the Orphan Queen. She was just Sora and that was enough for him.

Maybe she could convince him to take a nap with her. Of course, she’d get up and then work late into the evening, probably with Nick or Ben at her side. The demands of ruling fulfilled her. Even though her days were packed full of fires to put out and work to do, Sora enjoyed the taste of power she’d already received.

They kissed for some time, but when Nick broke the kiss to look at the door, Sora had to fight down her dismay. She’d forgotten that Marius was bringing food. The tray appeared at the corner of the desk and, before she knew it, her stomach rumbled. Nick heard it. There was no way he didn’t hear it. She laughed and buried her face in his neck for a moment before the scent of the food reached her.

Yes, I should eat. And...will you let Jeremiah know that I need to see him? I should probably talk to him about things with Quinten before he runs into him again.” Sora said, the light in her expression fading just a little in that moment. Quinten had been deeply upset when he left. Sora wanted to get him help and she trusted Jeremiah to do just that.

Nick uncovered the plates and mentioned that he baked the pie. Sora smiled at him.

And that was how Sorinna Roman spent the rest of her years. She spent her days taste-testing everything that came from the kitchen when Lady Sala and Prince Nick were cooking, to ensure that it was safe for the Court. A Queen’s duty is to protect her people and Lady Roman was utterly serious about that.” Sora said, dramatically placing her forearm to her forehead like the lead in some Tantalus play.
 
A Queen can do no less for her people.” she finished, adding as much drama to the line as possible, though she burst out laughing before she finished the sentence. It was better than the real ending, where she spent the next twenty centuries watching everyone she loved die over and over again until she forgot names and faces and probably hated living in general.

I have no future as an actress. But I definitely want two slices of that pie.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #11 on: Sep 11, 19, 02:46:23 PM »
It would be an easy thing to lock the room, and lose an abundance of time with Sora. It would have been far too easy, but Nick had consider whether or not that was best for her right now. He certainly would not mind if things took that turn, but he knew that it was not in her best interests. He could distract her, save her from her own schedule, but he could not simply steal her away, as much as he might want to. He would never understand those Warlord Princes that pretended that the presence of a Queen did not call to them in some small way. He had not know that Tacean Queen when she came to visit the Court, in fact, almost everyone had been terrified of her, where Nick was intrigued. Despite the very real danger, the presence of so many Queens did not unsettle him so much as make him want to serve in some capacity. That one’s power had piqued his curiosity, death and life being so closely linked.

Nick enjoyed Sora’s company. At first, it had been her nature as well as his own, and later it had simply been because she was Sora and Queen, and she was his. His eyebrows rose when the food pulled a rumble from the young Lady’s stomach, and he rested his hand across the spot, tilting his head as if trying to hear that sound again. She laughed, and the way she hid her face was terribly endearing. Nick hugged her tightly in that moment, enjoying the sound of her humor, and the way it changed her psychic scent. Sora was made for smiles, laughing, and for being held, and he truly wanted her to have more of all of that, and far less of what had happened that day. He was a little reluctant to relinquish his embrace, but she had to eat.

He nodded, and used his heels to get the chair they were in together move closer to the desk so Sora could have an easier time eating. She did not have to leave his lap. ”I will let Jeremiah’s office know, if not Jeremiah himself. Yes, Jeremiah will want to know about Lord Heartly’s behavior, as well as Orfan’s delusions.” Nick felt the change in the Queen when her Bonded was mentioned, and he slid arms around her, low over her belly, so she could eat but still be in his arms. Then he told her about his pie, and she waxed dramatic for a time. It was amusing. He favored her with the small smile she had been earning with more frequency, and shook his head when she pretended to be faint. ”A Queen’s duty is never done.”

Nick titled his head slightly, ”Two slices.” He repeated, ”What if you do not like the first?” He gestured at the pie, ”I do not think it is terrible, I feel certain Lady Sala would have said so, but so far I have been having my own—or sharing with Lady Sala.” His expression remained impassive, ”I asked her to show me how to make one of your favorites, because I knew I would be here, as usual, I meant to give it to you after the evening meal.” He encouraged her to eat the meal that was sent, since she was clearly hungry. There was enough for two, because Auntie Aleia was always concerned whether or not Nick himself was eating enough while he tended to Sora. They ate together, with Nick occasionally offering her bites of his own food, and even more rarely, stealing morsels of hers. When the time came, he did cut the small pie into slices, and waited to see what Sora thought of it.








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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #12 on: Sep 16, 19, 10:13:35 AM »
Sora couldn’t stop smiling when Nick said that he was learning to make her favorite pie. Cherry pie was her favorite dessert, something that Riley and Jeremiah learned shortly after she came to live with them. Her words were sparse in those first months after her father’s passing, but pie bridged the gap where most conversation didn’t. They’d never talked about pie before, however, so she knew he’d quietly observed her over their time together and picked up on the things she liked versus the ones she didn’t. Sora wanted to develop that kind of skill, the ability to understand people without letting her emotions interfere. She knew that Nick wouldn’t necessarily consider this a boon for her, given the life he’d lead that made him develop that kind of observation, but Sora was glad to have his direct, no-nonsense view of things as part of her counsel.

Lady Sala doesn’t strike me as a woman who would let bad food leave her kitchen. You made it, so I’m sure I’ll like it.” Sora said. Quinten once made her a cake and that came to mind as she took her first bite of the pie. The cake had been good, but the subject matter preceding it had dulled her taste for sweets. She’d grown since then, she felt, enough that she could enjoy this without feeling bad that Quinten was still having trouble.

She speared some of the pie with her fork and took the first bite.

Oh.” she said, covering her mouth as she chewed the still-warm pie. “Nick, I don’t know what you were worried about. This is great.

She meant it. She chewed the first bite long enough so that she could get to the second. The cherries were fresh and tasted even better than did back in Sevastopol. The demands of ruling Dena Nehele left many opportunities to regret doing it. Helping some people meant pissing off others. Not helping someone meant possibly making an enemy of them in the future when you needed their support for something else. But as Sora enjoyed the cherry pie that Nick had arranged for her, the rest of her worries drained away.

It’s good to be the Queen.

Will you have some with me?” she asked, holding up a bite for him. If he seemed reluctant or uninterested, she wouldn’t try to force it. She wanted him to enjoy it. But he was also a male who wore the Red. She’d seen few people at his depth in the Abyss turn down any kind of food. She no longer felt self-conscious about eating in his presence, but Sora enjoyed sharing meals and jokes instead of the formal and tense discussions that occupied work.

This is good. If you want to start making more of my favorites, you won’t get any opposition from me.” she said, smiling at him.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #13 on: Sep 17, 19, 10:36:14 AM »
Cooking was a new effort on Nick’s part.  Auntie Aleia was attempting to enhance his ‘fine’ control, in a sense, and the simple task of cooking various things did help with his focus.  He could not hope to assist her in anything resembling Hearthcraft.  He had tried simple telekinetics and essentially rendered her kitchen into a disaster area.  He had helped to clean it up, but Aleia had a handle on it with her greater Craft, and cleaning that particular mess up fell directly in the Hearth Witch’s sphere.  Control extended to other things as well, such as improving on his Death Spells, and the applications that he had already conceived of.  There had also been improvements to his clothing, meant to balance out his lack of comfort Craft.  Nick found he had enjoyed the lessons, even enjoyed the cooking, in part because it was something he could make without the aid of Craft.
 
That it brought a smile to Sora’s face was a bonus benefit.  He had known she would enjoy it, if he made it well enough, but it seemed the effort had also touched her.  Nick found it remarkable that such a simple task, such a simple effort, would please her so.  There was a lesson to be learned there.  He would file it away for later considering.  ”You are correct, of course, Lady Sala would not attach her name to something subpar, but this pie is mine.  It should not reflect poorly on her.”  Nick waited for Sora to try a bite of the pie, feeling an unusual sense of anticipation.  He wanted her to like it, and he felt certain that he would be disappointed if she did not; a strange thing to worry over, when he was but a novice with cakes and pastries of any kind.  When  she declared that she quite enjoyed it, he smiled, a bit more brightly than she might have ever seen before, it even lasted a second or two longer.  ”Good.  I am glad that you like it.”  He would have tried again, but he did not like wasted effort.
 
It was practice, he supposed, like all of his training in combat, only this was with bowls and eggs and flour and other ingredients.  He would have to discuss that with Lady Aleia.  Nick nodded, and picked up his own fork to have a bit of the pie that he had made.  He had eaten, but he could always eat more, and deserts had a way of filling him up, at least for a little while.  Since his Offering, Nick sometimes felt like he was always eating, thanks to the snacks hidden on his person, and the schedule he kept with Sora and his other duties in the Palace.  ”I did not think you would object.  I do not mind cooking for you, especially if it gets you to eat when you should.”  He nuzzled her then, to show her it was not an admonishment, but a small bit of humor.  Nick straightened, and had more pie, ”It is better than sandwiches.  That was about all I could make when I first came here.”
 
Nick was quiet for a moment as they ate their pie together, and he set his for down, his fingers slowly running along Sora’s free arm, down to the fingers.  He took her hand, palm to palm, fingers briefly curling between hers.  ”Since you are on a break, would you like to retire to the Conservatory after we are done here?  I can make certain we are not troubled, and you can show me how to play the piano, or I could play the guitar with you.  When was the last time you played?”








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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #14 on: Sep 17, 19, 11:30:55 AM »
You keep cooking for me, I’ll eat on time every day. I’ll even make time for snacks.” Sora said, taking another bite of the pie. She could eat the whole thing now, she knew, and have room for the main course. Practicing Healer Craft in addition to her Queen Craft she’d known all her life made her deeply aware of the strength of her jewels. She was eating more as her days grew longer, both due to her schedule and her personal preference. She didn’t expect Nick to quit his day job and become her personal cook, but this was how he cared for her and served her. Sitting down to eat, where he could observe and know that efforts were appreciated, was an easy thing to do.

It cost her nothing to submit to his care and gained her everything.

I’d never turn down a good sandwich.” she said between bites of pie.

He mentioned the Conservatory and Sora winched suddenly. Nick would know immediately that she wasn’t in pain, but she was embarrassed by his mention of the piano. She could not remember the last time that she’d sat down to really play. She’d been doing so well before her elevation and now...well, at least Jeremiah wasn’t the one asking. Sora would have made a terrible music student. She had skill, when she deigned to exercise it, but she was usually sidetracked from maintaining it.

It’s been a while since I last played. The last time I went down there, Stela Petrescu was in there playing her violin. She’s...she’s talented. She’s insanely talented. I was a little intimidated. Don’t tell her that I said that, please. She hates my guts and I haven’t exactly been kind to her, either.” Sora said, sighing.

But if you want to go down there after lunch, then we should. I have to get back into it at some point.” Sora said, though she had no idea where she’d fit music lessons in her schedule. She promised herself that when she finally ruled somewhere, she’d bring in a music teacher and sharpen her skills on the piano. Then she’d learn to play another instrument. Or something. A Queen should be a well-rounded individual. Sora believed that and she wanted to show her people that she could enjoy music as much as reading or art.

She and Nick enjoyed the rest of the food. When they were both quite full, Sora finally rose from Nick’s lap and drew him to his feet.

Let’s go. I’d like to see that guitar you play so much. It looks like fun.” she said.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #15 on: Sep 17, 19, 01:57:48 PM »
Nick tilted his head slightly, ”I will see what can be done. I am only beginning to add to what I can make. Simple is sometimes best.” He lifted the cloth napkin, and cleaned the corner of Sora’s mouth, ”The pie is probably the most complicated thing I know how to make.” If it made the young Queen’s life easier, and her day’s a little brighter, he could certainly spare a portion of his time. He did not sleep as often as other people did, and he required more activity of every kind to eventually tire him out. Learning knew things required focus, and focus maintenance was more draining than most tended to realize. Nick would have to talk about this with Lady Sala, and if he was not able to cook for Sora’s day, perhaps he could make sure that it was her favorites that were made available. Being the Territory Queen should have some advantages, and being taken care of ought to be one of them.

He nodded, ”If I am reduced back to sandwiches, you will get the first ones I make.” Nick noticed her wince, and shook his head slightly. ”The invitation was not a comment on practice, or the lack of it. You play beautifully, I doubt you will forget in a few short months.” He nuzzled her softly to comfort her, breathing the scent of her in, as he softly kissed the nape of her neck. As if divining the train of her thoughts, he added, ”I have not seen Jeremiah tuning the piano of late. You both have been quite busy.” Nick did not quite have all the facts surrounded Sora’s problems with Stela, or the reverse. The Priestess, for all her questions, seemed normal enough, but maybe that was part of the problem. Sora had become so used to abnormal and ungrateful, Stela’s over curious approach was just off-putting. ”I have not heard her play. I have heard you play.”

Nick breathed softly against Sora’s skin as she finished her pie, and gently rested his head against her shoulder. ”It was a suggestion meant to offer a relaxing activity. Where we go from here is entirely up to you.” He slid his arms around her again, and hugged her close, her back against his chest. ”I am happy to go, however. I do not play often, and it is easier to do with company.” When she rose, he smiled slightly and let her get him to his feet. ”As you wish.” He held her hand all the way to the door, and then once beyond it, offered her his arm like a proper escort. Nick sent quick mental taps to their assigned guard detail, and had them follow behind. He was strong, and sufficient protection in the palace, but he had been taught procedures by the Master of the Guard, and he would follow Prince Bane’s protocols. ”If you join me, I will gladly play the guitar for you.” He led Sora unerringly towards the Conservatory. He had spent so much time unable to sleep, lurking around the Palace and the halls that he knew the place quite well, even some of its secrets, thanks to Sway and his nocturnal excursions.

When they arrived, he asked the guards to stand just outside of The Conservatory, and guided Sora to the piano. ”Did you want to try something together at the piano? Or shall we attempt a duet?” His hands rested at the small of her back, and he had eased the bench of the piano out with his foot, to help her sit if she chose to.








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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #16 on: Sep 17, 19, 11:01:11 PM »
Nick’s skill as an escort was known to Sora, but days like this made that skill stand out in her mind. When the left her office, her Guard followed them without prompt or drawing undue attention to themselves. She felt safe in these halls, safer still with her hold on Nick’s arm as he guided her through the halls to the Conservatory. Sora had lived in this palace for almost three years, but still felt like she was learning its secrets. Nick walked through the halls effortless and without fear of making a wrong turn or bumping into someone unexpected. He wore the Red, and so had nothing to fear.

She was under his protection. That allowed her to let go of any fear or inhibition and just enjoy herself.

The Conservatory was clean, well-lit, and filled with a number of instruments played by the members of the Court who came here to enjoy themselves in their off-time. Sora’s gaze found the piano and she moved toward it slowly, reaching to brush her fingers over the smoothed, lacquered finish of the instrument that she’d enjoyed most.  She would never be a concert pianist, but Sora wanted to be good at something other than ruling or, eventually, healing. It was important to her to be a woman of culture and grace, because so many people saw Riley as lacking it. She’d never before considered how much of her need to be a good Queen hinged as much upon being different from Riley as it did living up to her examples.

I’d like to play for you to start. Jeremiah taught me to play using this easy song about the daughter of a sea captain, waiting for him to come home. I’ve learned more complex songs since then, but...my mind always goes back to this one.” Sora said.

Nick acquiesced and pushed back the bench with his foot, then helped her sit down. Sora got comfortable before drawing Nick to sit down beside her. He wasn’t going to judge her if she missed a note or two. He wouldn’t judge her if her singing voice wasn’t completely in tune. He liked being around her and he’d proved as much by being at her side today.

She pressed a key and hummed the note, matching its pitch. The piano was always in tune, a feat she attributed to Jeremiah among his many duties as Territory Steward. She didn’t know how he found time for it, but she was glad he did. She tested the keys in ascending order while she recalled the notes to the song. She took a deep breath and allowed her anxiety to drain away and into the floor. Nick was hers. If she fell, he’d catch her.

She played.

Despite her worries, the notes and melodies returned to her with ease. Sora played, her hands and fingers sure, and smiled at Nick as she grew more in tune with the music. She wasn’t worried about the Guards or anyone finding them here. She would have to get back to work, but for a moment she let Nick glimpse another part of her, the young woman who wanted to be an artist and give something else to the world besides her blood and Craft. He liked music and Sora could play for him. It wasn’t the same as giving him or her other males her Touch, but it was another way to show them that their Queen wanted to improve herself and become a better person for them, too.

When she finished the song, she looked over to Nick.

I like that song so much because it reminds me of my father. I don’t share it with many people.” she said, hoping that he understood just how far into her circle of trust he’d entered.










Offline Niccolo Faa

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #17 on: Sep 18, 19, 10:58:49 AM »
Nick remembered the first time he had seen the Conservatory. He had found a guitar there, and had nearly smashed it to bits as memories and grief took hold of him. He had come a long way since then, a long way since quiet Jeremiah had teased information from him by means of skillfully applied silence. The memory brought a phantom smile to his face, an expression so brief and faint, no one was even aware of it. Then he was seating Sora at the piano, and then sitting beside her. His hand rested gently on her thigh, the weight of it a reassurance of not only his presence, but his very real desire to be precisely where he was at that moment in time. Nick studied the Queen’s face for a moment, it was an easy thing to do. He had come to appreciate those lines, those eyes, those full lips, and then his eyes lowered to her hands, to watch them as she began to play.

She played very well, but more than that, he could sense the weight of her regard. He was so much Darker than Sora that when he opened his senses to her, he could pick up much more than she likely meant to give. He tended to err on the side of respecting her privacy out of respect for her person and her station, both in the pantheon of his thoughts and in the reality of the Territory, but with the music and the way she looked at him, he let that strict control slip just a little. Sora played for him, and her fingers moved over the piano keys as if each note were something meant for only him to hear. Nick rather liked being her focus, and he listened very closely, and very carefully, even as he tried to memorize the keys that she stroked throughout the movement of the music. When she was done, he took a slow breath, and leaned towards her, to nuzzle her for just a moment, putting their closeness to good use. ”That was lovely.”

Nick nodded slowly, ”Thank you for sharing this with me then.” He so rarely thought of himself as worthy of such trust, and he always made note of it when someone invested in him in such a manner. It meant a great deal to Sora, and he did not need his greater psychic senses to realize that. It was in her voice, and in the beat of her heart, and the scent of her body. He turned towards her, and slid his fingers into through her hair, eventually cupping her cheek for a moment, and caressing her skin with his thumb. He knew exactly what it was she was telling him, and he slid his arm about her, to hold her against his side so that she would understand that to be true. ”We met here. We had met before, of course, but I believe our real introduction was in this room.” He paused a moment, ”Things were very different then.” It was not a question, but a clear statement of fact in his usual tone. ”Shall I play something for you then?”

The question was asked without a tone that made it especially significant, but Sora knew better. Every time Nick touched a guitar, every time his fingers played across the strings, it was a reminder of his Father, of his past. Of a skill he had been taught by a weak man desperate to give something to a son he could not protect. Nick had an excellent memory. He could no more forget how to play a guitar than he could forget the tiniest sliver of his soul that he had given to Sora to keep her safe. He was bound to the skill, to the talent, and thus the memory was also bound to him. Even with Jeremiah’s help, and Sora’s healing, playing the guitar cut him every time, even if one could not see the blood.








Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #18 on: Sep 18, 19, 11:46:03 PM »
Sora knew that Nick would enjoy her music, but to hear him express it allowed the wall surrounding her heart to come down a little further, pulling away the emotional bricks that she’d been using to keep at bay the things that hurt her. Her traumas weren’t as severe as Nick’s, but Sora spent her days fighting down a host of voices that tried to convince her that she wasn’t worthy of her position or that she only had it because she was Riley’s Ward and not a worthy Queen in her own right. There were a lot of people in the world who probably believed those things, but they were countered by Gabriella, Jeremiah, Riley, Marius, and Nick, the people who believed in her and fought for her when things grew tough.

He thanked her for sharing and drew her close, which Sora answered with a small sigh. Quinten’s pain still reverberated through her, still suffused her senses if she let her mind wander. The difference now was that she understood that it was his pain and not her own. She would find a way to help her male; she’d already started to do that. But she wouldn’t carry his burdens in addition to her own. Nick’s direct way of looking at things combined with his no-nonsense advice had helped clear her mind enough to play and put things in perspective. She leaned into his touch as he spoke, remembering the day in question that they’d met.

Things really were different then, weren’t they? I never imagined that you’d mean so much to me. It’s easy to let everyone in these halls just pass by without asking for names or just taking the bare minimum of things offered in order to get stuff done.” Sora said.

I’m glad that we didn’t do that, Nick. I’m glad you became more.” she said.

He offered to play something for her and Sora’s smile was beatific. Nick’s skill with his hands was evident in a number of ways, but it was displayed nearly perfectly in his skill with the guitar. Sora sensed that the instrument held deep meaning to the Warlord Prince, but she’d been hesitant to ask him about it. The first time she’d used her Emotional Healing on him, it had opened a box that neither expected. Since then, Sora hadn’t pressed him, hoping that he would trust her with more of himself. He believed that he was a burden on any Queen that was bonded to him, but Sora didn’t care. She understood burdens well. Niccolo Florian Faa was hers, and that meant everything that he brought along with him, whether darkness or light.

I’d like that.” she said. She sat up and nodded as well, letting him know that she accepted both his desire to play for her as well as the trust he offered in letting her hear something that was a part of himself. Nick considered himself too different, too much other to blend in and, in a way, he was right. He was a Warlord Prince who wore the Red. He would always terrify people because of his caste and strength. He’d done things to survive that others would call monstrous or evil, but neither of those things were correct. Sora would fight anyone who tried to condemn him or consider him a threat to her safety or her Court’s.

For now, she put that aside to listen to him and let him know that she was here, with him, not just because he was her Escort, but because she was his and he was hers.

For her, that was more than enough.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #19 on: Sep 19, 19, 09:21:35 AM »
[ooc:  credit to Metallica, and this Acoustic cover here. It felt very DN to me.]

It had been a reciprocative gesture. Sora had opened her music and her heart to him, had all but told him that he was meaningful to her, that he had her trust. Nick was certain that he should do the same, that he should reveal something about himself to the lovely Queen beside him. It was not a thing he could take back. He had offered, she had accepted, and now he must do as he had said that he would. It was another way to keep her safe, he supposed, another way to tell her that her importance to him made him want to keep her safe and to support her, it was not all instinct, though there was plenty of that. Nick was made calm by her presence. He knew that much. His impassive exterior implied control, and while he certainly had that, he experienced the cutting edges and sharp corners of life as clearly as any, but with Sora he could see so much more clearly.

It was not merely because she was a Queen, he knew. It was because she was Sora, because she had seen past the shell of his darkness, and reached into his heart and his soul. She had seen how truly ugly he was, and she had embraced him anyway. Only one other had done that from the start. Riley cared about him, and she had a similar calming effect, but she did not know him like Sora did. Jeremiah had surely explained things to Riley, he had seen the garbage that hid in Nick’s mind, but Sora had sifted it, felt it, and then somehow changed it, healed it, made the pain less, made the point dull and rendered the voice of his Uncle to little more than a mouse’s squeak. She had countered the power of those raw untended emotions, she had lanced the boil, and he was better for it. Direct was always better. ”I am glad as well, Sorinna.” His voice was as even as ever, but the use of her full name was a hint of his sincerity, along with the way he held her.

Nick was delaying, he knew, delaying what he must do while letting Sora enjoy his affection, even as he enjoyed giving it. Finally, he took a breath, kissed her lips very softly, and rose to walk over to the guitar on its stand by the wide Conservatory windows. He took up the instrument, and slid the strap over his shoulder letting the weight settle, and adjusting where it rested against him. His physical demeanor changed slightly, almost as though the guitar were much heavier than it truly was. Nick checked the tuning of the strings, delaying more he knew, until he decided that each note was perfect. He lifted his eyes to Sora, and regarded her silently for a very long moment, drawing what strength and certainty he could from the sight of her and her presence. Slowly, forcibly, he lowered his eyes, pulling his gaze from hers, and began to play. The notes rose from the guitar, beginning low, and rising slowly to clearer and higher notes.

For a little while that was all that happened, he played a song, his fingers moving confidently over the strings. Nick had applied small shields to his fingertips, letting him pluck and clearly create certain notes. He continued to play, the music becoming almost strident, before lowering again, back into the earlier low tones. It was a subtle moment, but Sora carried the tiniest piece of Nick with her, and that made their connection more real. It was that, or he was simply open to her, laid bare by Sora and the music. She sensed a shift, even as Nick slipped into memory, and his eyes slid closed.

Mother Night, what did he do to you?

Not important. Did you bring it?

Yes. It will make him angry.

It will not be you that he punishes.

Oh, Niccolo...

A growl, Just play.

Don’t you want to pract--

He has yet to bring a healer. Please. Just play. Stop talking.


Nick began to play, an unexpected hoarseness that lent his soft baritone more weight.

”So close, no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trust in who we are
And nothing else matters’.”

He almost did not seem to realize he was doing it, he simply played, and the words spilled forth.

”Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words, I don’t just say
And nothing else matters.”

The guards in the hallway leaned in, and Agitha among them cuffed them into minding their own business, but she peeked around the doorway, and leaned her head against the wall beside the conservatory entrance just to listen.

”Trust I seek and I find in you
every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters.”

Nick’s back bowed over the guitar as he bent over it in his playing, as if it it were becoming heavier and heavier as he pressed on.

”Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know.”

The music remained sure, the notes were crystalline and full, and something resonated. Nick felt the Red, felt his Jewel respond to the music, the souls of all those that had held the Jewel before him joined him in the song, in his mind, in his soul. He was not alone, and slowly, inch by inch, his back began to straighten, the load becoming just a bit lighter as he want on.

”So close, no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more form the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters.”

By the time he returned to the chorus, to the very beginning of the song, and by the time the last note floated away and faded into the nothingness from whence it came, Nick was standing straight again. He lifted his hands from the guitar, and took a deep steadying breath. He removed the guitar, and set it upon the stand, and stepped away from it as though it were dangerous. He lifted his eyes to Sora, and cleared his throat of a lump whose presence he had not realized during his singing. ”That...” He closed his mouth again, and walked over to her, returning to the seat at the piano that they had been sharing. Quietly, he continued, ”That was something my Father played for me once.” He had remembered it, he had struggled with it in the dark in his mind when he didn’t want to think about what was happening to his body, he had turned to other things, music among them. He remembered being broken and alone, but he also knew that he was not either of those things, and he was not alone anymore. He slipped an arm around Sora, and rested his head against her shoulder, silent in the echo of his own singing voice and his gentle weeping guitar.








Offline Sorinna Roman

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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #20 on: Oct 08, 19, 03:42:50 PM »
Sora listened to Nick’s song in quiet fascination, watching him execute each note with skill that wasn’t apparently just by looking at him. He was a capable man and seemed to excel at every task put before him. He could cook. He could dance. He could play music. He was great in bed. People didn’t know how to relate to Nick, given his seemingly impassive nature, but it was clear to her that he’d found other ways to relate to the world that separated him from the average courtier who knew how to fake a smile and a kind word.

His song warmed her from within. When he sat down beside her once more, she hadn’t expected him to speak. It was clear that the song held deep meaning to it. Hearing that his father had played it for him once, Sora had to fight to keep her own emotions in check. His uncle had done horrible things to him, but it was clear that he held at least one good memory of his father. What was it about this Territory separating children from their fathers? Sora was wary of asking about Nick’s mother, as she didn’t want to push him into thinking about things that he didn’t want to revisit.

You have a lovely voice, too. I’m glad you let me hear it.” she said, leaning over to kiss him on the top of his head. She placed her hand on the arm he put around her and plucked the keys on piano softly, content to play for him again and leave him to his thoughts.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #21 on: Oct 25, 19, 10:23:27 AM »
Nick sat with Sora, and that was enough.  When she complimented him, he did not have another further  to add to that line of thought, though she conjured a small smile by kssing him that way.  He felt her hand rest against his arm, and he lifted his head to nuzzle her gently.  He did not remove his arm, but he did straighten up and raise his free hand to the keys of the piano.  He experimentally played a note or two, and then tilted his head slightly.  ”I have a good ear, and a good memory.”  He turned to look into Sora’s eyes, pleased to have her so close.  ”Show me how to play something?  I did not touch a piano until I came here.”

There was a piano in the conservatory at the Faa Estate.  He had never been allowed into that room.  Learning the piano, the violin, and the guitar had been denied to him.  He was not supposed to have learned the guitar, but his Father had managed to impart that much to him, his memory and his mind had done the rest.  Nick thought that he might be able to make a guitar from memory, given time, materials and the right tools.  It would be his father’s guitar, because he knew that one best.  He had turned it over in his mind over and over, again and again, just to retreat from his reality at the time.

Nick took a breath, and as if he had sensed Sora’s earlier thoughts, he said in his usual way.  ”My mother died when I was very young.  She was--”  He paused a moment, remembering the face that had so recently been returned to his memory.  ”--beautiful, and she loved music.”  His nostrils flared slightly, as he continued to explain the tragedy.  If anyone deserved to know, it was Sora, because she had put him in touch with things that he turned away from, even now.  ”She was taken and murdered by my Uncle, my Father’s Offering was broken when he tried to defend her.”  Nick too another breath, ”I was there, hidden, and saw the entire thing.  Jeremiah helped me remember.”  He tapped another piano key, ”What shall we play?”








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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #22 on: Nov 02, 19, 12:25:09 AM »
Sora watched Nick press a few of the piano’s keys and smiled. He was relaxed and that helped her remain relaxed. She had meetings today and a study session to attend. An hour ago, the idea of more meetings and listening to people try to cajole into one thing or another seemed stressful and daunting. She was still worried about Quinten after the episode in her office. She also worried about how things might go the next time she saw Radu, but spending time with Nick gave her perspective. This was just a tough day. There would be more tough days.

She’d get through them.

Here’s another one that Jeremiah showed me when he first taught me to play. It’s really simple and just gives you a sense of how to position your hands as you learn to play.” Sora said. With that, she started a slow and easy melody that Nick follow while she played. She played a few times, in succession, the melody meant to loop around itself over and over until the student ceased. When Sora finally did, she let Nick take a turn. They spent several minutes on posture and hand positioning and then Sora watched him play. He was eerily coordinated and very dexterous (things Sora already knew) but watching him learn to play showed her a new side of him. Nick wasn’t the kind of man who partially committed to things. He put his mind to something and learned it well.

I have no idea what my mother loved. I don’t even know if she’s still alive. She said she’d come perform my Offering Ceremony and then ever showed up.” Sora said, shrugging her shoulders. A tiny pang of hurt echoed against her ribs, but there was nothing for it. Her mother wanted nothing to do with her. That wasn’t Sora’s fault.

And you know what happened to my father. Someone wanted us dead and they sent a Myos. But they didn’t kill me. I watched my father die, too.” she said, reaching down to take Nick’s hand. It was a steadying and solid presence that kept her from dwelling on a time she’d put behind her.

Here, I’ve got another one. It’s one I’ve been working on, so maybe you can help…

Sora played the first few few note of the song, humming to herself to recall the notes. Finally, she let Nick join in and they spent the next hour improvising more of the song on the piano.

The day started out with difficulty, but Sora believed that it would end just fine.










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Re: don't let me get me
« Reply #23 on: Nov 02, 19, 09:21:58 PM »
Nick judged that Sora was doing better.  He was glad that he pulled her out of the officer and to the music conservatory in the Palace.  They had memories here, but more than that, Nick often felt that things went easier when one was more occupied.  He would either exercise or spar or draw, before he chose music.  He did come here on his own from time to time.  The guitar helped him work certain things out without having to say anything.  It let him consider memories with a little distance, even now, though he had felt the weight of those dark times, it had been more about sharing something with Sora.  He wanted to show her that he trusted and cared for her, and he had only so many ways to do that effectively, especially in the face of what the children had thrown at her today.

His Queen was much stronger than she realized.  She just needed a little help seeing it from time to time.  Nick proved to be an attentive student.  He watched Sora with his usual focus, and imitated the movements of her fingers just as she had shown him.  There was a balance in music, just like mathematics.  Once one learned the pattern, one could repeat it, just as with arithmetic.  Once the formula was known, it could be used to solve all manner of problems.  Sora was easy to pay attention to, but he also did not want to disappoint her by not being as attentive as possible.  Perhaps, some day ahead, he would surprise Jeremiah when next her caught him tuning the piano.  He could play this little song for him, at least.   Nick smiled very slightly when he successfully played what he had been shown, pleased with himself and the lesson.

”Perhaps something happened that prevented her from coming.”  Nick stated, turning to kiss her cheek.  ”I do not understand what would keep a mother or a father from they were free.”  He took a breath, and mirrored her slightly shrug with one of his own.  ”You know my story.  I do not have good examples.”  He nodded when she reminded him what had happened to her Father.  He remembered that well, and could hardly forget it.  ”I would rather that no other child had to see such things as I did, but I am here with you now.”  He could not say if that was something that was meant to be, as Asimov’s beliefs implied.  It was still something he had to think about.  He nodded at the chance to learn another song, ”If I can help with a song, I will.”

Nick and Sora played the piano together, and for a little while, they did not have to speak.  Eventually, a guard quietly sent Nick a thread to remind him of the time.  He turned to Sora and embraced her, before he got to his feet and offered her a hand up.  ”It is time to return to the office, Sora, but I will stay with you until your day is done today.”  He offered her his arm, and together with their guard detail, they moved back through the Palace to the offices of the Proxy Queen, and the rest of Sora’s day.  Nick chose to remain with her, in the hopes that his presence would remind her of the piano and their lessons, and get her through the rest of her duties without further distress.


/END








 

 

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