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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: Greetings To A Mothering Queen  (Read 178 times)

Description: Tag: Riley, Tag: Drake (sorry not sorry :D)

Offline Suleiman Basarab-Musatin

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    • opal2sapphire
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      Haloriel

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Greetings To A Mothering Queen
« on: Oct 26, 19, 06:38:13 AM »
Locale: Territory Court, Bidea, Sitting Room Door/Then Inside



Suleiman's Suiting
Suleiman had made an appointment to speak with the Lady Rilandra Vlas, finally, sometime after she had recovered from giving birth to her beautiful son. Among the Court, he had been especially relieved that she had survived the ordeal and though said little to nothing on the subject, when it was his shift he practically watched the woman like a vicious hawk to ensure that she would be safe. It was a pattern that was very likely hard to ignore and while Suleiman never ever stepped out of line, or misused Protocol, nor smothered his charges when on Escort duty to say that he was soft or kind would have been very not the explanation to take even if it was often the truth.

When I first saw you, you had a sparkle in your eye ...

Aware that he had yet to speak to her personally save for when he was appointed to Third Circle, the man ensured first that he was on the schedule after her daily nap and at time when his cousin, Prince Dragos, could be present for their meeting because Suleiman, regardless of how well-meaning he could be was a true hair-trigger Warlord Prince without a Queen. Every day for him was a deeper risk that someone could die so that she trusted him to serve in one of the closest of those males and females to her was a deep honour that he took utterly to heart.

More, he noticed how she hovered still near the man who had fathered her child. It ripped out his heart to know of it because he was still much the same when it came to remembering his wife of more than three decades before death took her from him. It was like a hole in his essential self. What he did not want was to harm the lovely Queen. While he did not think she was quite the one to Blood Bond, possibly, the idea hadn't been one he considered without merit to soothe his ever-tightening temper. Sometimes, even simple remarks would have him nearly ready to tear out a tongue. It took all of his will power not to give in ... to that blissful violent place. For Suleiman, the Killing Edge was a faithful beautiful lover that he couldn't stay away from and had to do his best to try because she was bad for him and good all at once. Most people saw him and his suiting to be an appearance that was civilized while the Sapphire Warlord Prince knew better.

Like the stars at night, high in the sky ...

He had something specific to ask the Lady Rilandra but did not wish to frighten her with his request. It was why Drake being present was practically a requirement. He had not chosen to explain himself when he made the appointment either, in part perhaps to avoid being laughed out of her presence. Even now, his pulse slid dangerously to the wrong side of control. Arriving with a perfectly stunning array of flowers in a perfect crystalline glass vase that had layers to protect the roots of the flowers so that they would not die - he was not the sort of man that cut or ripped out wildlife and called the destruction a gift for a woman.

How I wish that you were mine, 'Cause to me you're one of a kind ...

Suleiman, ever the quiet romantic and open with his affections had begun with a blue-violet central piece that signified faith, affection, intuition and love, then surrounded those with stunning blue salvias, which represented healing, long life and good health. Around that were the sprays of jasmine flower for modesty, elegance, nobility and grace, in part, all things that he wished for her heart and child. Azalea for the feminine and cherry blossom for the spiritual finished off the utterly stunning bouquet.

When I look at you it seems so untrue, how someone like you can make me feel the way you do ...

The scent was something out of a piece of sweetened heaven and had even had him lulled to a gentle warmth. He waited until the proper time, fifteen minutes before the time for his appointment, and then knocked firmly upon the sitting-room door. Today he was attired once more in the black and golden suiting arrangement with four-inch heels to make up for his deficit in height as well as the incredible style they offered, not to mention the manner the shoes allowed his legs to practically look edible in the trousers he'd chosen.

Sparkle in your eye, sparkle in your eye; I see that sparkle in your eye, sparkle in your eye ...

"Prince Suleiman Costea Basarab-Muşatin of the Third Circle to see the Lady Rilandra Vlas, Queen of Dena Nehele." The way he spoke her names had a heavy Hayllian accent peppered with a striking Dena Nehelian speech, so the 'r' that doubled in her first name was flipped rather than flat while the vowels were soft and pure and maintained a hint of the Old Tongue lost in most places. He would be never one to call her 'Riley', not when he could speak her name and make it sound like fucking.

It seemed sad to even think it.

You're so fine, for all the world to see. I find you hard to believe, you see ...

His manicured nails today had a shimmering gold polish edged with silver, while his fingers were covered in all manner of intricate rings that managed not to look garish or out of place, while the way he moved turned the heads of every gender and what was more was that Suleiman knew how he affected each one that looked his way, while he never once overstayed his welcome without consent not even with the slightest glance. One could even catch him kissing the fingertips of an older Short-Lived woman well past the age of flirtation as if she were merely twenty.

When I look at you, it seems so untrue, how someone just like you ... once made me feel the way I did ...

His golden eyes were both contemplative and filled with the shadows of something viciously painful that he did his best to tuck away politely. "I have a scheduled appointment planned some weeks past, if I may be permitted entry." He keenly and comfortably would also allow his gift to be inspected, so long as respect was given toward all the work he had invested in it. The most striking feature the Warlord Prince could claim was the striking and deep intellect that shimmered in his expression alongside perfectly refined viciousness.

Sparkle in your eye, sparkle, sparkle, baby ...

Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Greetings To A Mothering Queen
« Reply #1 on: Nov 10, 19, 08:38:54 PM »
Just as they had allowed several months transition for Sora to step into the role of Territory Queen, now, they were spending several months transition for Riley to do the same. Sora continued to handle everything for the Territory, while Riley continued to spend most of her time with Codrin. But she was accepting appointments again that were scheduled in advance from people who had business with her personally or who she needed to touch base with before stepping back into her job full time.

Overall, Sora had taken to ruling much more quickly than Riley was taking to being away from Codrin. They had started with short intervals of just a few minutes at a time and worked up to a half hour. Then an hour. Then back to a half hour when Riley decided she was never returning to rule, Sora could do it forever, she just wanted to spend all of her time with Codrin. Now, they were at an hour an a half. At this rate, she could start ruling again in another year or three.

She had left a freshly napped and well fed Codrin in the care of Aleia and Orianna. The young Queen had grown into a formidable force, much as Jeremiah had predicted. She had reassured Riley that Codrin would be just fine. They were going to the garden where she would teach him about weeds. She even had a hat ready to go for him, causing Riley to sigh, kiss him on his chubby cheek, and reluctantly let Drake lead her away to their afternoon appointments. Lining up her naps with Codrin's had worked when he was a newborn, but was becoming more challenging. Sometimes she wished she could just pause time for a little while to enjoy these moments with him. They slipped by so quickly. Already he was nearly sitting up on his own, and his ability to wiggle around a room on his belly would very soon be replaced by crawling.

Riley and Drake had just settled into the sitting room when Suleiman arrived. He was a being of distinct and undeniable beauty and the way he said her name sent a small shiver down her spine, making her glad that Drake had spent so much time getting her used to the sound of it without the negative connotations. The Opal Jeweled Queen smiled brightly at the stunning arrangement he carried with him. "Suleiman! They are absolutely beautiful!" she exclaimed, standing and crossing the room to see the flowers more closely.

When her Craft brushed lightly over them, she let out a surprised gasp and her smile shone even brighter. "They're still alive!" She laughed with joy at the discovery. "Here, put them on the table," she said, motioning to the low table that sat at the center of the gathered chairs and sofas, and leading him further into the room.

"Drake, look at this. It's remarkable!" Caught up in the moment, Riley's worry and anxiety over Codrin was momentarily forgotten. The Warlord Prince before her had brought her a gift of both great beauty and meaning, and done so in a way that offered a kind of consideration for her caste she had rarely experienced. Her fingers hovered over the vessel. "Is it difficult Craft? Do you think you could teach me?" Riley preferred her flowers potted or even better growing on trees and bushes with their roots deep in the earth. But this was an elegant compromise and one that she could see using frequently if she could master it. 

She had completely forgotten to offer him a proper greeting, so taken with his gift. Reaching for the Warlord Prince's hand in an absent gesture, she squeezed his hand as if they were of old acquaintance. "Thank you, Suleiman. I am deeply touched." Her smile continued to light up her face, her eyes sparkling.

















Offline Dragos Cutrov

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      Gavin

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Re: Greetings To A Mothering Queen
« Reply #2 on: Nov 11, 19, 06:26:51 PM »
Rilandra was taking appointments again. Drake should have felt much better about it, but the past year of having her (mostly) to himself, even while she carried Codrin, had been a good thing. They’d ironed out the differences between them. Hunedoara, for all its death and the bond that he found, had been an illuminating time for them. He loved Rilandra. He told her. She returned his love. She’d carried another man’s child to term even as they grew closer. If Drake had any second thoughts about remaining her First Escort, they were long since vanished.

There was still a secret or two between them, but now it was literally the kind of secret that he had to keep in order to keep Rilandra alive. Did that make it right? Maybe, maybe not. But Drake wasn’t going to put her life on the line with full disclosure in this case. He would have to find a way to make it up to her.

Sora had done an admirable job as Proxy Queen, but Rilandra was easing back into appointments and also allowing Codrin to get used to being separated from his mother at various intervals. There was a time, a few months ago, when Drake thought his Queen was going to give it all up just to remain with her son. While he didn’t blame her, Drake knew that such a choice was the worst of all possible worlds for Dena Nehele. Good stand-in or not, the Red Prince knew that Sorinna Roman becoming the Territory Queen in truth would spark a reaction that no one could prepare for. Rilandra had changed her mind, in the end, but Drake had been ready to explain the danger to both her, her adopted daughter (as well as her son), and even Queen in Dena Nehele if Rilandra didn’t return to the throne. He was glad that he didn’t need it, but the situation pointed out a deeper need in Dena Nehele and a duty that the Leader of the Myos Guild needed to take up. That, however, was a matter for later.

Rilandra’s next appointment had arrived.

Drake had missed Suleiman during the other man’s time away from Dena Nehele. Aunt Viorica had decorated the old winery with nearly every Hayllian rug and tapestry he’d sent them, the ones that Drake liked more than the rest of the fancy shit she liked to stock the place with. It rankled him that Zamfir Groza now owned his family’s legacy and that his chances of getting it back outside of murder were slim and nil. Whatever methods Lord Groza used to trick his aunt were nearly airtight. It would take a long time for Drake to find a way to undo his plans. It would take a longer time (and deep humiliation) to perhaps convince Zamfir to sell back the winery. The better plan, in the meantime, was to start a new business and make money a different way. He wasn’t completely broke but his fortune was vastly reduced from what he once called upon. He would have to talk to Sullie about it when the time came.

He allowed the Sapphire Warlord Prince entry and showed him every courtesy. Drake’s station might have been higher in terms of Court, and Suleiman might have been his cousin, but Drake held a healthy respect for Warlord Princes. He sparred with a few of them and knew how quickly they could rise to the Killing Edge. But he also knew that Suleiman carried past hurts and wounds that didn’t leave scars on the skin. He’d lost family and his own Queen in the past. Drake couldn’t fathom who he’d be if he lost Rilandra or Ilyrian. He certainly wasn’t the man his father would have raised.

That Suleiman made it through each day without eviscerating nearly everyone he came into contact with was, itself, a miracle.

Hey, Suleiman, it’s great to see you.” Drake said, greeting his cousin with a handshake. He’d learned how to dress from this man, but Drake could never make it look so damned effortless. He’d brought one of his floral arrangements as a gift for Rilandra, a skill that Drake had not picked up from his cousin. Rilandra seemed to love it, which Drake was glad for.

Until she touched him.

While Drake was used to the informality of Rilandra’s Court, it still caught most people by surprise. Suleiman was one of the most disciplined males he’d even known, but he was still a Sapphire Warlord Prince without a bonded Queen. Rilandra had only meant to put the other male at ease in her presence, but it would be easy to misread that signal and take it as disrespect or something worse.

Shall I take those, Rilandra?” Drake asked, a little more sharply than intended. If they were both focused on him, it might give them each a moment to reflect and save this meeting from shifting into the negative. He’d rather have them both annoyed at him than each other.

She’s right, though. They’re remarkable. How long did it take you to put this bunch together?” Drake asked.









Offline Suleiman Basarab-Musatin

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      Haloriel

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Re: Greetings To A Mothering Queen
« Reply #3 on: Nov 12, 19, 05:12:58 AM »
As Dragos allowed Suleiman to enter, he was almost immediately surrounded by a Queen that smelled of motherhood and the moment shattered him from the inside out. Rage rose up in his throat and mind and threatened to spill over for absolutely no reason than he could even tell, and that was before the Queen of Dena Nehele grabbed his hand. But also he felt deep, immense gratitude for her reaction to his flowers. The two intense emotions threatened to snap the Sapphire Warlord Prince in half with terror. The absolute last thing he wanted was to hurt the Lady Vlas. She was a Lady that had survived pregnancy and came through the other end of it whole, happy and bright.

His face paled from strain as he very nearly dropped the stunning crystal vase; Sapphire Craft kept the several days' creation floating half in his hand; he hated the way his Jewels did not hold up well to Telekinesis. It was then that he heard the Opal Queen tell him to put the flowers on the table as well as Dragos' request to handle the item himself. After a brief panic, but also a soothing moment in which he reminded himself that his younger cousin was blessed to be deeper in the Abyss than he was, he nodded.

First, Suleiman let the flowers rest for about ten seconds on the table with Craft rather than setting them down with his hands. Then, he lifted the vase and sent it carefully moving toward Dragos' hands, all to ease that sharpness in the other man's voice. Cousin or not, he was well aware that it was possible that the Prince might need to punch him to snap free the rage, while part of Suleiman was excited by this prospect, and part of him utterly dreaded it. He didn't want to fight family. That was the worst but also the best possible outcome at the same time. He could feel his Opal drain at an alarming rate to be able to pull off such a fair, and hopefully calming measure. Suleiman was trying to acknowledge the authority of the Queen while also bending to the wishes of her First Escort at precisely the amount of time needed to avoid anyone's feelings being bruised.

It made him shiver, but he gripped Rilandra's hand back as if she too, were someone that he'd known well. It wasn't entirely unfamiliar because he'd grown up in Dene Nehele, even if he had spent several decades in Hayll. So, he was able to switch to something slightly less formal, even if it wasn't her name and address. He wasn't hers! She wasn't his. It felt so rude to deny a ruling Territory Queen her rightfully earned honourifics especially considering what the Lady Vlas had gone through to become Queen in the first place. As he took Dragos' hand and a few seconds passed where both his hands were effectively 'disarmed' so that he'd have to specifically harm two people that mattered emotionally and physically if he lashed out, reasonable sense kicked in and the rage gave a sudden snap as it dissipated completely from the room.

"Forgive me." His smile was tight and contrite. "I am more than glad that you like the flowers, and I can teach you. As a Queen, the manner of it will probably come far more naturally to you. It was a Hayllian Queen that taught me how to give a woman a floral gift and not present myself as some kind of beast in the process and hurt her feelings with cut flowers, as she put it," his tone was dryly amused, as he knew it was likely lots of men had this same issue. Learning how to put together such a gift had made it easier courting his Healer wife.

He was as such, able to smile even as tears grew in his golden eyes. "Ah. The flowers took a few days. It wasn't much. The smallest I could do. A Queen could do it in hours." Suleiman said in a soft, almost deceptively quiet and tender voice. "It's good to see you, Drake ... that's what you prefer, isn't it? Grew up tall, much like I figured." Suleiman's heels still didn't quite bring him to match Dragos' height but he didn't seem to be bothered by this fact at all, well confident and accustomed with his shape not to be troubled by someone else, and more importantly, very proud of someone he could call family. He hadn't had the chance to compliment him the last time they were able to speak, so Suleiman did now.

"And ... Lady Rilandra. I am not upset with you, please forgive me. Your scent just reminds me of my late wife, she was a Healer. I ... wrote to Prince Dragos--Drake, about the difficulty very briefly. My wife did not survive the difficulties of childbirth a pair of decades ago even if the time does not feel as though that much has passed ... and nor did my daughter, born a Queen. I did not bond her, but she was still my little girl, you know. It ... eases me, every time I meet another woman that has survived but upsets me because I am being blocked by Hayllian kin to bring their remains home. We had planned to come to live here, after ... the birth. But nothing went to plan, but I am trying to accept that such is life."

He rolled his shoulders, and only once Drake seemed ready for it, smoothly released the other man's hand with one more fond squeeze beforehand. He offered a low bow over the Queen's hand that was restrained and not too much of a formal flourish because he remembered she didn't like those. Suleiman offered a greeting that was a careful, kindly in-between. Drake, even though he was family, received a similar bow worth his Jewels, Caste, and standing in the Court. He saw a killer and a very intelligent one in his cousin that didn't want others to entirely see him. Suleiman was sure he wouldn't have noticed if not for his hair-trigger tendencies, and more, revealed nothing in his gaze except for his smile, which was fierce and appreciative. He could likely keep Rilandra safe because of it which was what allowed Suleiman to relax very slightly.

The Sapphire Warlord Prince was content with Drake putting the flowers on the table if that was where he wanted them to go for his Queen's enjoyment. "Family politics in Hayll are like Court business here, and I haven't forgotten that you struggle with people that put on too many of those Aristo false airs, my Lady. If I could kill the one responsible for taking my ladies from me, I would, which is where my deep anger comes from, and nothing you have done." He let her keep holding his hand as a way to show he meant the words.

"You must be missing your little boy every second," then, watching carefully to see whether or not the Queen wanted to still hold his hand, and only once he had that indication, he playfully swung them both, while casually keeping his eyes on Drake for slightly more than half the time he spoke. Suleiman was the type that if he could ensure that everyone was calm and happy, he'd attend to that even if it meant admitting a difficulty, but also attempted to ensure that Rilandra would hopefully be less annoyed with Dragos trying to protect her. "Just as much as he misses his mother, I'm sure." That he could talk about a child at all without falling to pieces or blasting a hole in the wall startled Suleiman but he went with it.

"I talked with Prince Mercer about why I wanted to see you, my Lady, but asked that he keep the news to himself until I could emotionally process the idea, so please don't growl at him." Suleiman tapped his left foot, then the right, moving in the heels he wore with flawlessness that came from long use. "May we sit, if it pleases the Queen and her First Escort?" His eyes danced with humour as he was well aware his question held formality that might make the pair roll their eyes so far that just the eyes would leave the territory on a vacation, if possible.

Offline Rilandra Vlas

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Re: Greetings To A Mothering Queen
« Reply #4 on: Nov 12, 19, 08:16:42 PM »
Riley felt the rage spike within the Warlord Prince at the same time as she felt Drake's reaction to it. He had been watching for it, waiting for it, and she had not. While if anything Jeremiah's Black Widow caste had made him more of what one might expect from a Warlord Prince, having been bonded to her since such a young age, and her brother having been bonded to her from the day she was born, had left her with a rather more mellow version of the Warlord Prince nature in her earlier years.

Then of course there had been Luca, who very nearly stole her from the life she was meant to have. Riley didn't know when she had changed her mind about Luca and released the belief that he held her death in his hands. But now, when she thought of her wayward Warlord Prince, it was less with longing and more with the awareness that protecting Codrin was far more important than even the endless ache to see her bonded.

Now, of course, she had an Eyrien Warlord Prince, her beloved Scar, who offered her beautiful flowers that he grew himself (even if there had been the occasional incident involving a drunken Court member "menacing" his roses) and taught her what it felt like to fly, wrapped around him tightly while he soared through the skies long unfamiliar with the Eyrien wingspan.

And yet still her mind compared Warlord Princes that were hers, and not those who had not found their Queen. Radu had come here, and his training had been a challenge. But when he returned with his Offering, she had never been so proud of him. Even Nick, who had come to her just before sunrise covered in blood with a smoldering estate in his wake had found a kind of peace here that had helped to settle and ground him. She had observed that even before he and Sora had shared with her that they were now Blood Bonded, something that made Riley's heart fill with joy.

But Suleiman was not hers. He was not even familiar enough with her ways to have become accustomed to her casual affection. She had touched a Sapphire Warlord Prince without his permission and his answering rage echoed through her. The kind of rage that caused members of the Blood to turn slowly toward the Warlord Prince and back away in an attempt not to incense him any further.

And yet the Queen did not pull away. Riley had never been one to back down from a fight, but this was different. This was the feral nature of a Warlord Prince. She felt that which was Queen spiral up from the deepest parts of her, yearning to soothe the ragged temper of this Sapphire male of her Third Circle. If Drake needed to intervene, so be it, but she would not step back from Suleiman just because she pissed him off, if she was even the cause at all.

She realized too late that she and Drake had given him conflicting instructions, and she watched as he gracefully managed to fulfill both commands. She felt the rage cease, as if suddenly the beast had been lulled back to sleep within the dark depths of Suleiman's being. The room suddenly felt lighter, like it was easier to breathe, and Riley's fingers remained firmly grasped in Suleiman's hand.

"She sounds like a very wise Queen," Riley said, smiling as he shared where he had learned the Craft and his willingness to teach her. Her smile grew at the words offered to Drake. She knew they were family, but it was an easy thing to forget. Thinking of a young Drake interacting with Suleiman who must have looked essentially the same as he did now was something of a wonder for her.

When he asked her forgiveness a second time, she nodded, her eyebrows drawing together and creasing her forehead as she listened to Suleiman speak of a loss so great that it was no wonder his anger and hurt simmered so close to the surface. For a moment, the Queen who was known for her capacity to ramble seemed speechless. All the words of comfort she could think of seemed trite and menial. Her eyes offered understanding, her hand warm and steady in his. He bowed to her and she nodded in response, before acknowledging his words.

"You have brought me living flowers and taken no offense at my touching you without your permission and outside the bounds of Protocol. Of course, I forgive you. But really, in my mind, you've done nothing to be forgiven for. It's my own actions that were inappropriate. I have had the extreme good fortune to remain only around my closest Court and family for the last several months," at this, she smiled lovingly at Drake, "but I am also out of the habit of what Court requires. There is no need for formality with my son yet, although he, too, carries the burdens of your caste."

She laughed when he swung their hands together while asking about Codrin. "I miss him so much! Although I think he is doing just fine without me. He currently has a young Queen teaching him all about weeds in the garden," she said, clearly amused by Orianna's determination to educate Codrin about what she considered were the most important lessons in life.

Riley raised an eyebrow at the mention of Jeremiah, but agreed not to growl at him with a nod. Between his duties as Steward, Queen's Shadow, and being a Black Widow, she was quickly coming to terms with the fact that Jeremiah knew all kinds of things that she didn't, and was working on making peace with it, even if she had not fully forgiven him for knowing she was having a boy and saying nothing. Even that wasn't entirely true. She had forgiven her Badger, she just hadn't stopped giving him shit about it and likely wouldn't anytime soon.

The formality of the request to sit had Riley finally and reluctantly releasing Suleiman and sitting down on the couch in front of the table. She looked to Drake, suddenly nervous about the shift in tone. "I get the feeling you have something important to talk to us about. I know your instinct is towards the formal, and mine most definitely is not. But I want you to be able to speak how you need, and if it is easier or more comfortable to maintain the formalities, I will do my best to not chafe against them."

There was likely no way for Suleiman to know how rare it was that Riley offered such an agreement, but Drake would be only too familiar with Riley's usual fashion of navigating conversations, the short and sharp "It's Riley," having never left her lips. Her further willingness to not rail against the intricacies of Protocol that so rarely saw use in her Court was a clear indication that she was trying hard to accommodate his cousin and also that she cared very much about what it was he wanted to say.   

 

















Offline Dragos Cutrov

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    • opal2red
    • prince
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      First Escort/Myos Leader

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      Dena Nehele

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      Gavin

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    • A straight-razor coated in honey...

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Re: Greetings To A Mothering Queen
« Reply #5 on: Nov 14, 19, 06:26:52 PM »
Yeah, Drake is fine. I only use Dragos with people I don’t know really well.” Drake said. It wasn’t really true. Anyone who didn’t know him well just used his title. He permitted little else outside the Territory Court.

The idea of having to restraint, or even fight, his cousin was a troubling one. Someone would have died and Rilandra would have paid the price, no matter what. Suleiman navigated the moment more deftly than Drake expected while Rilandra recognized her error and addressed it. He was proud of that moment and she would sense that along the bond between them. She had changed so much in the past two years, for the better, that Drake sometimes woke in the middle of the night, watching her quietly as she slept. Motherhood agreed with her and Drake respected how well she navigated this meeting despite knowing that she wanted to be with Codrin right now.

Drake remained silent while Rilandra and Suleiman worked together to establish this relationship between them. It couldn’t be rushed or forced into a shape that didn’t fit. He could have said something to lighten the mood, made some quip about Queens and Warlord Princes, but that wasn’t needed here. Knowing when to stay quiet was just as important as knowing when to shield, when to get in the way, or when to fight.

The tension passed and the pair started to get along well. Drake would rest the flowers on the table nearby. Once they were set down, Drake stood to the side, hands clasped before him. Watching the now, he would have thought they were old friends. He was doubly proud that Rilandra hadn’t corrected Suleiman on the use of her name. Two years of hearing it from him had conditioned her to its use. While she still prefered “Riley” (something Drake found unconscionable), she no longer growled at its usage. He took pride in that, too, just as he took pride in finally getting her to adhere to a schedule and some of the other things she now did because of him.

Rilandra even agreed to keep things formal for his cousin’s benefit, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Watching her act as a Queen made Drake want her. They had time for a diversion after this meeting, but Drake decided to keep it to himself. She was even starting to like surprises now, something he excelled at.

I’ll get us all something to drink, if it pleases you both.” Drake said. Despite his status, Drake held the lowest caste here. He wanted this conversation to remain as open and natural as possible because whatever Suleiman wanted likely wasn’t a small request if he’d gone to the trouble of setting up a private meeting like this.

If they didn’t stop him, Drake would obtain three glasses of ice water for the trio and then check with the kitchen for snacks, just to ensure that Rilandra had something to nibble on while they spoke. They still had to work on her finding moments to eat, especially with an active child.

But she was getting better at that, too.