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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: keeping out of trouble  (Read 179 times)

Description: Haneul

Offline Gwenael Derouen

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      Temporary First Escort

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keeping out of trouble
« on: Jul 01, 19, 01:27:32 AM »
Arkadie, overachiever that she was, had it in her head to acquire a third caste. The process had been set in motion before Gwen arrived at her court and he found it fascinating - every few days, a Tacean healer from the new conservatory arrived, her pretty Tacean escort in tow, and disappeared into Arkadie’s study for hours at a time to practice craft and learn anatomy. Her escort, a Prince, seemed learned in the subject matter as well - not that Gwen had had much opportunity to speak with him.

In all his collection of hobbies, Gwen had never been tempted to take up caste training. Doing so would have placed far too much responsibility on him, and that had been off-putting until his mid twenties. By the time he’d settled down, he’d taken up with Arkadie, and being a First Escort was enough work. Now, he had to balance that and parenting Lucie…

And even if he were to take up training, there wasn’t anything his Queen couldn’t do better.

Gwen was reading a crop report when the handsome Tacean escort came out of the study and closed the door behind him. “They kick you out?” Gwen asked, and the young man nodded. He and the Healer he accompanied had a similar look about them - golden complexions, raven hair, light eyes. He thought he’d heard them referred to as siblings, and they looked close in age, but given their eye color he wasn’t sure he put much trust in appearances.

He set the report down and leaned across the desk, hand extended to shake. “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Gwen, Lady Graveworthy’s First Escort. Her last one’s taken a leave of absence.”

(He hoped, for his Queen’s sake, that Phoebus Aegle eventually felt well enough to return to court.)

“So is healing, er, the family business?” he asked, a smile coming to his lips.

Offline Haneul Mhin

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #1 on: Jul 01, 19, 01:36:28 AM »
Usually, Haneul was allowed to sit in on his sister's Caste training with Lady Graveworthy, or in the Healing lessons taught at the Conservatory. Not so much today, he supposed, since he'd already been over reproductive anatomy enough times that he'd actually started dozing off in the study. Ji Yoon, upon noticing the way his eyes kept drifting closed, had kicked him out entirely. Well, fair enough, he supposed, though Lady Graveworthy looked amused by it. Still, he didn't much like his face getting rubbed in that fact. Old habits were hard to break, and all. He was more used to sleeping his days away in warm rooms than he was studying.

He didn't hold it against Lord Gwen. Haneul took Gwen's hand and shook it firmly, one pump, the way his father had taught him. "A pity," he said. "The leave of absence, not the you serving as First Escort. A friend of mine's got feelings for Lord Aegle. I think he misses him." Yua (Aleksander!) had been distraught upon finding Phoebus missing. Haneul didn't see why, but the heart wanted what it wanted, and if what Yua's heart wanted was Phoebus Aegle, then... Haneul questioned his taste, but he'd allow it. "I'm Haneul," he said. "Lady Natsuhana's... escort." He'd hesitated, uncertain if he was allowed to claim to be a First Escort. He doubted it, though Yuki didn't yet have one. "Ji Yoon's my sister. I help out sometimes."

Haneul settled down in one of the chairs across the desk, crossing one leg over the other and calling in a book of poetry he'd been reading. "Not so much," he said, wincing. "Though I can see why you'd think so. Since I'm training to be a Healer, and my sister's a Healer, and... it makes sense." He frowned at his book as if he'd meant to pull out a different one, and then turned his attention back to Gwen. "My family's more into politics? My father rules in Tacea, and my sister rules our tribe. My mother ruled it before her. Ji Yoon and I are kind of black sheep, actually? So, uh. Is escorting your family business? Or did you answer an ad in the paper?"



Offline Gwenael Derouen

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #2 on: Jul 09, 19, 11:03:49 AM »
Gwen… did not know a face to put to the name Lady Natsuhana, having arrived in Dena Nehele far too late for any of last summer’s terrible excitement and its aftermath, but he had encountered her in some of the mail that came across his desk. It was a curious arrangement, a male so far from the Queen he claimed to serve, but circle-members had far more flexibility in their stationing than First Escorts. Perhaps Lady Natsuhana had sent Haneul from her side for some ulterior purpose?

One to watch, then, and from a powerful family from the sounds of it. Gwen would have to do more research on Tacea. It was an interesting place, by the sounds of it - any territory where a man could be said to rule more than a district was an interesting place.

“Sheep are my family business,” he said, a laugh coming easily to his voice. He tried to imagine answering an ad in the paper for a first escort - or what sort of poor Queen would post such an ad. “But I have three older sisters, so by the time I came about all the good chores had been spoken for. I met Arkadie while I was doing some work for her uncle, Miron. It was, as they say, love at first sight.”

Haneul had said something interesting that Gwen was trying very hard not to pry into - that a friend of his held feelings for Arkadie’s erstwhile first escort. That seemed a juicy bit of court gossip, that perhaps Phoebus Aegle’s absence was owed in part to an untenable love triangle, incompatible orientations, and anxiety about his looming marriage…? Gwen felt a swell of protectiveness on Arkadie’s behalf, for he knew very little about the man and yet felt certain he wasn’t good enough for the Queen they shared.

But it wasn’t as though he was in a position to do anything about it. The Derouen name held even less currency in Dena Nehele than in Chaillot, where at least their tendency towards light jewels gave them a reputation for stability. That aside, he had no attraction to his Queen and no desire to trap her in a marriage of appearances. He loved her, but it was a sisterly sort of love magnified through their bond.

The only way to really settle the matter was for Lord Aegle to return to court, and only Mother Night knew when that might happen.

Gwen put the thought out of mind, turning his focus again to Haneul. He looked younger than Gwen, but those gold eyes were as confusing as they were enchanting. His sister was obviously the older of the pair by enough for it to show, if only slightly, but that still left the possibility that Haneul was older than Gwen himself.

It was probably rude to ask.

“Are you obligated to stay close at hand,” he asked, overly formal in a jesting way, “or have you been released to wander the compound? I’m not doing anything that can’t be done just as well later this afternoon.”

Offline Haneul Mhin

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #3 on: Jul 12, 19, 11:39:02 AM »
Haneul's mouth curved in a small smile. Three older sisters? He knew that pain, what with his six older siblings. His father's unenviably long lifespan meant that Haneul would never inherit a family business the way Gwen seemed to be hinting, even if there were one beyond professionally politicking and wishing to go back to one's vegetable garden. In a way, it sounded like Gwen had the kind of life that Haneul wished he had: one free of expectations, of narrative weight. "I know that feeling," he said, remembering the moment of his introduction to Yuki. He had never felt driven towards anything until that moment, except for avoiding his family's expectations and training... But her presence in his life made him want to feel driven.

Gwen asked whether Haneul was free to move about the Queen's Residence, and Haneul arched an eyebrow at that, just a little. It wasn't something anyone would've heard of in Tacea. Yuki wasn't terribly traditional except in the details of things: who served who first, where the males were meant to wait for the pleasure of the women they served. Ji Yoon, he knew, wouldn't care where Haneul went, and he was a known quantity to the Master of the Guard for Silca. "I'm free to wander around," he said. "Though I shouldn't wander too far. My sister might need me; when she's ready to go, she's ready to go, you know."

They left the anteroom off the Queen's study, and ended up in the First Escort's office. Haneul swept his gaze over the fine details of the room, how it had changed since Phoebus Aegle's brief and ill-fated tenure, and concluded that the architecture of this place was shit and probably not going to get any better. "You come from Chaillot, then," said Haneul. His father had given him a copious amount of his memories in the last weeks before their departure, carefully edited to give insight into the cultures of the many Territories to which Seung had traveled in his day. Chaillot was said to have changed greatly from the days of the Great War, though, and he wasn't sure any of his information was current. "I'm told my Gray would be about as welcome as freshly-unearthed fermented cod, so I've never been. What's it like?"



Offline Gwenael Derouen

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #4 on: Jul 13, 19, 02:15:40 AM »
Gwen nodded. Arkadie could be similarly impatient - perhaps that was why she made such a suitable student for Haneul’s sister. He wondered, briefly, if he would need to learn Healer Escorting as her training progressed. How different could that be from escorting a Queen, and would it matter than Gwen’s Opal was lighter than Arkadies?

No doubt she’d let him know if his services became necessary. He’d already come all this way to serve her, after all. There were few lengths he wouldn’t go to for his Queen.

But, right now, Gwen was putting her out of mind. “It’s a nice enough day, and the gardens are more fashionable than the house,” he suggested. Arkadie had done as much as she could to the court seat of Aechia, but some things couldn’t be helped. The house was beyond salvaging - their only hope of reprieve was for Arkadie to complete her contract and get promoted to someplace else.

“This would never pass for architecture in Chaillot,” he said conspiratorially as he waved for Haneul to follow him.

“They would love you,” he added, deadpan, at the follow-up. The well of power walking beside him was enough to send a little shiver down Gwen’s spine - his feet were deep enough into the Darkness that he didn’t think all the superstitions were true, but cultural mores were cultural mores. Both Haneul’s jewels were darker than one could ever get away with wearing down the street back home.

“It’s funny,” Gwen said as they ambled out onto the lawn, “How all anyone really remembers about Chaillot is the superstitions. We’ve got great food. Incredible art. The weather is nice eleven months out of the year and the other month is at least interesting. The food’s good. Very rich. We do bread right and we like our wine. And the countryside’s beautiful.”

He gestured to the garden - Arkadie had had it reconfigured into something less manicured, but they were still in the heart of a city. “I prefer a more pastoral surrounding, but I serve where my Queen does,” said Gwen with a shrug.

And then, a smile curling across his lips, he stopped and turned towards Haneul. “If you don’t mind me being forward, is it true what they say?” he asked, voice tinged with mischief. “About dark Princes and their appetites?”

Offline Haneul Mhin

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #5 on: Jul 13, 19, 02:48:53 AM »
The weather, as Gwen pointed out, was nice. Haneul might have mistaken himself for being at home, among his mother's gardens, if not for the Darker feel of the land and the strange plants. A garden in Tacea would've been much sparser than the wild hodgepodge of the gardens in Silca's Residence. More room to wander, to let one's thoughts expand, though he could see the draw of a garden like this as well. It was a garden for a Queen, rather than one for public consumption. A woman could walk here and feel that she was lost in the land. For a Queen like Arkadie Graveworthy, it must be the sole part of the Residence where she felt like herself.

"The superstitions are a great big do not enter sign to me," said Haneul, "I've heard about that asylum that they've got for Dark Jewels. I really don't want to end up on the wrong side of a collar, yeah? I'm not a dog." Though if Yuki wanted him to kneel to her, he would. He did. Often, though... less often lately, what with the disruption of Yuina no Ariake's betrayal of every more of Tacea. While Lyosha was wrong to defy the wishes of his parents, it didn't excuse the way Yuina had directed her son and his bitch to act against him. It caused Yuki no end of frustration.

He wrested his attention back to the description of Chaillot. "It's a shame, because I'd like to see it. I've got two and a half millennia to see the Realm. Missing out on Chaillot would be like getting to eat all of a cake except one last piece, and it'd be a really good piece too. The kind with the swirl of icing and a praline on it. But, yeah, collars and kennels. 'Dark Havens.'" He made the air quotes, because this seemed like an informal enough meeting that it would be alright.

Gwen changed the subject, and Haneul paused to reorient himself. Right, he told himself. In Dena Nehele, they don't care about this kind of thing. One thing they got right, he supposed, not giving a fuck who was in whose bed. Technically, he wasn't confined to one partner alone...

He was rationalizing. Haneul wanted to see what this Warlord was offering. He wasn't affianced to Yuki officially. He was an Escort, bound to serve as requested, and Yuki wasn't here... "It depends," he said, cautiously interested, "on which of my appetites you mean."



Offline Gwenael Derouen

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #6 on: Jul 13, 19, 03:49:27 AM »
“Indeed,” replied Gwen, mirroring Haneul’s liberal use of air quotes. “‘Dark Havens.’ I’d be in one myself were my birthright a shade darker. As it is, my Opal’s the deepest into the Darkness anyone in my family’s gone in generations. But I’d assume - ruler father, casted sister, your whole family would make Chaillot nervous, wouldn’t it? Maybe by the time you make it there, they’ll have abandoned the whole mess of superstitions.”

Two and a half millennia was a mind-boggling length of time, and Gwen had never spent much time around long-liveds before to get used to it. It was a scale that he could only imagine in the most abstract of forms. How could anything last for twenty-five hundred years? Empires rose and fell in less, and at the rate the realm was changing, Chaillot even a hundred years from now could be unrecognizable from the Chaillot of today.

“Well,” he said mildly, “you have time. And it’s Chaillot’s loss if they don’t change. I wouldn’t want to go anyplace hazardous to my health and wellbeing, either.”

It just seemed like… a bad time.

He’d laid the bait, and Haneul’s response seemed cautiously positive. Gwen wondered again what years of experience his eternally youthful face hid. “The sexual sort,” he said, not expecting the statement to make things awkward. He thought he had a good read on the situation. “I’m relatively new to the territory and with hardly any acquaintances to speak of, and it’s left me lacking for even fleeting companionship.”

“I promise, I can be satisfying,” he added lightly. “And I’ll have you returned with your Healer none the wiser.”

Offline Haneul Mhin

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #7 on: Jul 14, 19, 02:33:14 AM »
Gwen didn't know the half of it, thought Haneul ruefully. His Jewels were the Darkest of his siblings' sets, but his Caste wasn't the highest. What would they make of Green-Jeweled Tomoko? Of Sapphire Descent Myung Hye? It didn't bear thinking of; Tomoko was dead and Myung Hye enslaved in Hayll. Neither was heading towards Chaillot any time soon. "My father wears the Green as his Jewel of Rank," he said diffidently. "Even if he didn't rule in Tacea, I don't think he'd be welcome in Chaillot again."

He was glad enough to refocus on the sexual sort of appetites. Gwen was--he paused to take a good look at the Opal Warlord--comely enough. Nothing like Yuki, but that was only to the good, wasn't it? He didn't actually care that deeply about Arkadie Graveworthy's First Escort, though he would be loath to see the man harmed simply because Arkadie was beloved of Yuki. It'd been a while since he'd gotten off with anything except his own hand, what with all the drama over Aleksander. If he was careful, if he was discreet, then no one would ever have to know, and maybe he could ease his temper back from the edge. It wouldn't mean anything.

"It's true," said Haneul, shrugging. He supposed even in a Territory with notably fewer hangups about that sort of relationship, getting used to a new Court and a new Province after replacing someone wouldn't leave much time for getting one's dick wet. There were probably Red Moon Houses that served the kind of client that Gwen seemed to be, but maybe there weren't many male whores, or Gwen wasn't fond of the idea of the diseases they might carry? Haneul knew that males who failed their geisha training sometimes ended up in brothels, and their lives could be nasty, brutish, and short.

At least this way, they both knew that it was genuine interest. "I'm sure you would be satisfying, and not nearly so fleeting as you imply. Someone so vital as you?" He shoved his hands in his pockets, looking over the garden again. "I don't go in for exhibitionism, though."



Offline Gwenael Derouen

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #8 on: Jul 14, 19, 03:13:23 AM »
They seemed to have reached an agreement, and quickly at that. Gwen was pleased by Haneul’s directness. They were just barely acquainted and already they’d managed to profess their mutual attraction and interest in sexual favors as well as proper boundaries. And while Gwen could kick himself for having brought Haneul to the garden and not to, say, the library, well, such an issue was fixed quickly enough.

“Ah, right,” he said, chuckling. “While there’s something to be said for fucking al fresco, that does work better in the wilderness than it does in an urban garden. Alas. I know where we can go.”

He turned back toward the mansion that housed the territory court and motioned for Haneul to follow along, trying to keep his body language casual enough to put off any observers. While Gwen was not secretive about his tastes, it did seem like an unnecessary bit of gossip to start, and he wasn’t sure his new friend was anywhere near as open. He apparently had a Queen to serve in addition to escorting his sister, and rumors had a way of traveling.

So - where to go? His office was out of the question, connected as it was to the room where Arkadie and Lady Moon where conducting their lesson. His own personal quarters had too many of Lucie’s things in plain view to not raise questions, and the last thing Gwen wanted to do was ruin the mood the two of them had going by explaining his tragic descent into single fatherhood.

That left one of the court’s many unused guest suites. Gwen led the way, making up conversation about crop yields until they were behind closed doors. Then, he turned to Haneul and asked, “Are you much for kissing? I know not all men ‘go in for it’ with casual sex. Me, I think it can be nice.”

And he felt sort of starved for contact as it was.

“Bit of an ice-breaker, you know?” he went on, kicking off his shoes and doffing his jacket. “But I’m flexible.”

Offline Haneul Mhin

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Re: keeping out of trouble
« Reply #9 on: Jul 14, 19, 04:52:17 AM »
Haneul was glad he wasn't eating anything while they walked and talked, because the phrase fucking al fresco was one for the books, but also to never ever be spoken again. Funny, but he didn't think it would be attractive to choke, and he almost did anyway without the assistance of anything in his mouth. He didn't comment on the phrasing as they returned to the halls of the Court; Gwen seemed content to keep their intended activities between them, and that suited Haneul just fine. Xiaowen was here, his sister was here, and he didn't want it to be that obvious that he was pretty much exactly the Dark-Jeweled slut some people accused him of being. A man had needs, and his extramarital chastity was not yet demanded, due to the fact that he wasn't married or even affianced.

So they talked about crop yields and comparative value for the Jewels used to give the land the Queen's Gift as they ambled through the Court. Just two guys being dudes, friends discussing the vagaries and details of being servants of the Queen. It was actually a pretty interesting conversation, dovetailing Haneul's Princely love of detail with Gwen's Warlordly practicality. If he wasn't already interested in the sexual favors Gwen had offered, he would've been perfectly happy to continue as they were. As it was, he found himself caught in the unenviable position of wanting the conversation to continue and wanting to get to the fucking already.

He folded his jacket over the back of one of the chairs in the guest suite and contemplated the matter of kissing. "Considering what other parts of our bodies are going to be imminently touching in some configuration, I don't think a prohibition on kissing makes much sense," said Haneul, closing the small space between them. They were not of a height--Haneul was some handful of inches shorter--but the difference was not so great that Gwen was greatly inconvenienced when Haneul pulled him down for a kiss.