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Author Topic: trust themselves to fear no second fate  (Read 437 times)

Description: artemisia; time to meet your older brother ~

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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trust themselves to fear no second fate
« on: May 05, 18, 03:27:45 AM »
It was at least once a month that saw Jeremiah to Caecian, to Sevastopol and Minerva. While things were not always easy between the two of them, they at least managed a meeting over tea. Matters would be discussed, not only of those relating to the Territory Court, but those of Caecian and his continued support of Minerva's rule. Just because something horrible had passed between them, that she had no part in, did not mean he would not do so.

Minerva was, as far as he was concerned, best for Caecian. Not that he particularly approved of her alliance to Tulzbruja Warlord Milo Welvert. It was simply not a topic of conversation that was approached. This day none of that mattered. No, what mattered was that apparently there was another sister that he had never known about. Piers, it appeared, was neither discrete nor capable of using contraception of any sort to ensure he did not just have a child with every woman he slept with.

There was a twisted sort of humor that came into play when Minerva spoke of their younger sister. Artemisia Xenopol was a Queen, the Caste that had been expected when the contract upon his mother so many years ago had been put into place. It looked as if whomever had put it into place had been right: Piers did have a Queen child but they were off by two. Still there was an eagerness in Jeremiah that he had not come into play with Minerva.

How could there have been with how their introduction and interactions came to be? That was not the case with Artemisia, Jeremiah left with an odd hope for a feeling of family that he had lost returned to him. Taking leave of his meeting with Minerva, the Warlord Prince moved through the building to where he had been told he could find the Queen. It did not take long before he was knocking upon the door, pausing to adjust his cuff, before he stepped into the room.

"Lady Xenopol?" he inquired, eyes that queer bright shade of neither blue nor green coming to focus upon the Queen. "I hope I am not interrupting anything as I was wanting to meet with you." That growing instinctive sense of his, the one that came from his training, told him that he likely was not but Jeremiah was not rude.

Instead he quickly realized that there were a few more similarities between himself and the young Queen than him and Minerva. With the Healer it had been the little things that could be missed that gave away their connection but with this Queen ... Jeremiah could see it, just as he could see her standing between Minerva and himself as the missing piece. The one that linked them together as siblings; each with a different mother but the same bastard Myos of a father.

"I am Prince Jeremiah Mercer," he said after a moment, a perfect Protocol and Etiquette greeting gracefully given. "Queen's Shadow and," a wry twitch of his lips, "your half-brother."

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 18, 01:00:13 PM »
"I know who you are!" Artemisia said, before Jeremiah even had a chance to finish introducing himself. Minerva had mentioned he might stop by today, and Artemisia was sure their sister meant it to be sort of casual but she'd spent the whole morning too giddy to get much done (and all she was supposed to be doing was reading about the upcoming summer rituals, anyway, and everything about being a Queen seemed to involve bleeding all over everything and she was having a bad time of it).

"Please, just - just call me Artie," she added, setting the book aside and hopping to her feet. "Everyone else does." All this Lady Xenopol stuff was Too Weird. Too formal. And she knew her position commanded respect but - not any kind of respect she felt comfortable commanding just yet!

Quickly, she smoothed out her skirt and straightened her collar. Maybe she ought to try being more aware of people's psychic scents as they approached? And then she could do that thing where someone walked into a room and she was just, like, waiting for them all dramatically. That would be cool.

She took a little step towards him, looking her half-brother over. They looked a little alike, she thought - their eyes were clearly from their shared father. Personally, she thought she resembled Minerva more, but that might have just been a factor of them both being girls. He was so tall! Had their father been tall? Or was that more from his mother? And he seemed too young to be silver-haired already, even if he was the oldest of the three of them.

"What does being a Queen's Shadow mean?" she asked, curling a finger against her lower lip. Was she supposed to have one of those? Having a whole court bonded to her just seemed like... too much. Having any court seemed like too much. She'd rather leave all that to Minerva - their sister seemed to actually like bossing people around.

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 18, 11:54:36 PM »
Jeremiah let out a laugh, a small huff of breath, a flicker of amusement and happiness apparent in his expression. "I can do that," he said. "My Queen requests the same herself, preferring a shortened version of her name." Though that was more because there was negative things attached to her full name, memories she wanted to distance herself from. Only in private, only when the moment called for it, did he ever call her Rilandra.

"I am not terribly fond of the shortened versions of my own name, but, please, call me Jeremiah if we're shedding formalities." Artemisia was clearly unpolished when it came to matters of the Court. Even without the knowledge that she had been hidden among the Landen being shared with him he would have picked it up. Minerva was likely so pleased to have someone like Artie within her Court. Fresh clay to be molded and shaped, an opportunity ensure a Queen that would be support.

Artie held more in common with Minerva as well, gender aside, but still ... He could see the resemblance clearer at least. Though it seemed that the height was something unique to him. Piers had been of middling height, neither tall nor short, but his mother had told him that his height was not unexpected for a Mercer male. Just as his silver hair had not been (though he would have appreciated the warning because it had certainly been a shock to him).

Not even thinking about it as Artie stepped closer, Jeremiah held his hands, his fingers long and fine-boned, out for hers to take. The greeting was as natural to him as breathing, so many years of wrapping Protocol and Etiquette around himself as a safety net. That this would come with that rush of familiarity - Blood calling to Blood; the knowledge of family - was different than any other time he performed this greeting. There was also the matter of a noticeable temperature difference between them, Jeremiah hands cool to the touch. The moment passed and his hands fell back down.

"When I finally became part of my Queen's First Circle she titled me such, to make clear how closely I serve. I am her eyes and ears, sometimes her voice and representative if necessary, where she cannot be. I use my particular talents to support her and," his voice dropped, low and warm with amusement. "it is because I have always been within her shadow. When I was little I would often stand right behind her, growling at those that came too close and their intentions unknown or uncertain to me." As reading people, their emotions, was one of the things he excelled at and Riley counted upon him for. Emotional states were useful bits of knowledge to have.

"Would you like to join me for a little while, Artie?" asked Jeremiah after a moment. "As I would very much like to talk with you."

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 18, 06:21:00 PM »
Jeremiah extended his hands to her, and Artemisia placed hers beneath his, palms up, thumbs sliding over his fingers. There was that feeling again, like she'd felt with Minerva - that burst of kind calling to kind. Now that she could really focus on it, she realized it was a little like the feeling she'd gotten from the assassin. Not nearly the same, but... in the same family of feelings. Like mint to chill.

She didn't want to think too closely about that. She didn't see how it was possibly even in the realm of possibility. How would such a thing have even happened?

Artemisia did not properly know how this greeting worked, and no one had taken the time and explained it to her yet. A little awkwardly, and bobbed her head and sort of half-curtseyed to her Warlord Prince brother, and then let go of his hands and backed away, listening as Jeremiah explained his moniker. She laughed a little nervously at the idea of him, a child, standing behind his queen and growling. Boys would be boys, she knew, but that just seemed...

Honestly, a little annoying for his queen. She was lucky not to have bonded any children. The Landen didn't really do queen bonding, did they?

That was probably for the best, really. The whole thing just seemed exhausting.

"Yes," she said, because she wanted to talk to him just as much as he wanted to talk to her, she was sure. She'd never had a brother before! "Let me just put my book away and we can go."

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 18, 03:41:31 AM »
That Artie's hands slid under his caught him off guard, fingers closing around her wrists lightly and the tip of a finger pressed briefly to the pulse there in her wrist. Jeremiah's hands rested faintly upon hers, the stretch of their fingers not dissimilar, but his hands quickly retreated. It was not proper for a Queen to do as she did and while he knew her to be a diamond in the rough ...

The question was to educate her or not? Minerva certainly had to like it, the sign of subservience, but others aside from their Healer sister could also see it as a sign to take advantage and- No, the thought was pushed aside from now. That nervous laugh about his story had the corner of his mouth twitching upward. "I should clarify that we were both children when we bonded." Then in a quieter tone. "... and she had already been kidnapped once by then, of which I learned, so I was protective as much as a child could be of a Queen who held his heart."

Jeremiah waited, of course, for Artie to put away the book. He gave a quick look at the title, noting it was about the Rites that came with the summer. There was a twinge, a flutter in his chest of an ache that was still lessening with time. What Queens were expected to do was known to him just as what Priestesses did was; this would be, of course, the first summer in which his mother was not the one who lead such things within Caecian.

His arm was offered to Artemisia, the picture of a proper Escort whether she realized it or not, when she was ready to leave. "I have to visit my home, it is not far from Sevastopol." The Mercer lands actually did bump against the Cernevada River, where it split from the Apa Valea. It was a necessity, not only to the crops they had grown upon the land but for the sheep that were their primary resource. "If you do not mind being gone a few hours, we can go there." His head crooked, a small smile given. "I can offer you lunch, if you'd like." Then, another question: "Though I suppose I should ask how you feel about crepes first ..."

He was eager, it was true, to visit with this young Queen - so very close to Sora's age - that was his sister. The other part of it was that he still struggled to visit Sweetbriar on his own. While the miasma was gone, there were still too many ghosts that existed within the home. A visit with a newly acquainted sister, however, was just the thing needed to try and return life to what had been his home growing up.

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 18, 01:33:05 AM »
Artemisia frowned at their joined hands, confused by his reaction. "Am... am I doing that right?" she  asked worriedly. Minerva had seemed just a little taken aback by her reaction, too - oh, Mother, she must look like such a hick! Little Landen-raised Artemisia, completely lost among the Blood. She pulled her hands away, fingers knitting nervously together.

"I, um, I didn't have anyone like that," she said, "and I've never been kidnapped." Her stepfather had been her only bonded male, and he'd gone to great lengths to make sure no one ever came too close to Artemisia. Until he hadn't. But, still, she hadn't had to deal with any children imprinting on her - which was a relief. And if it were to happen now, at this age?

Well, that would just be tremendously awkward.

"I..." she said, and trailed off, looking at his offered arm. Would Minerva mind if she went off with their brother for the afternoon? Maybe, but the book would wait and Artemisia was a fast reader. She wasn't in any danger of not finishing her assignments. I'm stepping out with Jeremiah for a bit, she thought to the Healer - or certainly hoped she did. Telepathy was still very new to her.

"Yes," she said, nodding, and slipped her slender arm through the crook of Jeremiah's elbow. "I would love to go with you. What are crepes?"

Something you ate, obviously. Her brow furrowed. "Did Minerva tell you I grew up in the middle of absolute nowhere?" Artemisia asked. "Because I did. We had more sheep than people and no paved roads. None. It was awful when it rained, which was at least once a week."

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 18, 02:23:13 AM »
"Not precisely, no. By having your hands under mine you are putting yourself below me in station when that is not the case." It was the easiest way to explain it. "While some may see it as alright within family," like Minerva whom he was positive was delighted by it, "or with close friends, you may not wish to continue it with others of the Blood or Aristocracy."

The way that she said she had never been kidnapped implied something else had happened. "That tone," he said softly, "implies that something else did, of which I am grateful you are here for me to meet then." Jeremiah waited, of course, for Artemisia to make her arrangements. Not that he did not also send along a message to Minerva. It was not as if he was eager to earn her ire for not communicating.

There had been enough communication issues between them when he had been a bound away by Maker. I am taking our younger sister out for a few hours and will return her promptly before I depart Caecian this late afternoon. Simple enough and Minerva knew Jeremiah to be the sort that would be more chivalrous than most, too kind for his own good. Some would consider it a fault of his as much as it was positive.

Jeremiah's hand rested against hers once she placed it on the crook of his elbow, squeezing her fingers gently. "Think of crepes as very thin pancakes," said Jeremiah, leading her out of the office she had been in and down the hallway. It would not take them long to be out of the building. "They can be either sweet or savoury, depending on how you serve them." His head tilted towards Artie as she spoke again, eyes cutting towards her and then back ahead .

"She made mention of it," he replied. "You grew up among Landen, not among the Blood." Which explained why she did not know some things. At the mention of sheep, the thought crossed his mind it was very possible those of her village could have worked the Mercer lands. Farmed it when it was in season to do so and saw to the care of the sheep when it was time. "Where we're going is populated with sheep actually, though we could avoid them." A pause. "The main roads are paved, thankfully."

Then, as the thought crossed his mind: "I can certainly help, if you'd like. I assume our sister has you reading and learning what is expected of a Queen? Obviously I am not one but I have been in service to Riley since I was seven, as well as been with help raise and look after one that became a ward of the Court." His head tilted, eyes cutting towards her again. "Only if you want, as obviously we can talk about whatever you'd like."

Jeremiah Mercer, already willing to spoil his baby sister Queen in whatever way he could. 

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 18, 02:01:43 AM »
Artemisia was extremely skeptical of the idea of savory pancakes, but didn't say so. "So I should put my hands... on top?" she asked, doing her best to keep up with Jeremiah's strides: she was not as tall as him by any measure. "But not with you or Minerva. You're family." They were both older than her, her seniors in the birth order, and that had to count for at least something. And Minerva was her boss.

Was... was she really so obvious? Artie went a bit pale. He might have been family, but that still didn't make it right to spill her guts about her traumatic backstory when they'd just met! Was she supposed to do that here? Or... Could she just nod and reply to the pleasantry? That seemed like the safer bet, and if he didn't like that she dodged the question, well, that was probably telling. "I'm glad I'm here to meet you, too," she agreed with a nod.

Ha! She was doing okay at this!

"I like sheep," she assured him, as they continued on. "They're sweet. I mean, you've got to give the rams their space, but lambs are cute! I... I don't really know where I was going with that."

Maybe she wasn't doing so okay, thought Artie. She was running kind of hot and cold.

Fortunately, he'd come to her rescue with a change of subject. "Yeah, she has me reading all about rituals. Gifting the land and stuff." It wasn't so bad in an abstract way, but thinking about actually doing it made her feel sort of sick. Blood always did that. "It's a lot to take in. I think I just want to try to get the theory down right now."

At least she had Minerva to help guide her. Her sister wouldn't let her do wrong! And anything involving taking a knife to her own palm seemed less daunting with a healer by her side.

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 18, 12:27:09 PM »
It was never a conscious thought to adjust his gait as he walked. There were precious few that shared his height, one of which was his mentor and teacher Arkadie Graveworthy (who often wore heels that made her taller by a few inches), and so it was second nature to ensure he slowed and matched pace. Only a poor escort would continue to walk too fast. "Part of me says do what you feel comfortable with," said Jeremiah, regarding the positioning of her hands, "but then I know there are those - unlike our sister or myself - that might see it as a thing to take advantage of. So yes, that would be the best."

Just as she said, with family it was not a thing to worry about. Jeremiah took no issue that she did not elaborate, instead only giving her a smile in agreement. He was never the type to press unless it felt necessary and there was no need to visit painful memories, as such things often were. If she was doing poorly, there was no sign of it from the Warlord Prince. Just a glitter of good humor in his eyes.

"Theory is important to learn first. Then application but you'll be in safe hands with Minerva when it comes to gifting the land." His head tilted towards Artie, thoughts turned towards wondering if Minerva would allow her to visit with another Queen. Not Riley, of that he had no illusions, but of Arkadie perhaps as there was a manner of relationship between the Healer and Black Widow Queen. "Were my mother-" A notable pause occurred but he pushed past it. "Were my mother still alive," he continued as if he did not hesitate at all, "she would have loved to meet you. She was a Priestess, one that oversaw things within Caecian and worked with the people, but she enjoyed talking about the Rites and working with Queens."

She had, after all, worked so much with Riley. Would have done the same with Sora and, now, Artemisia. It was no matter, not a thought for now as they were leaving the building and heading towards a landing pad. Jeremiah paused then. "Have you ridden the winds much, Artie?"

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 18, 01:07:46 PM »
Artemisia stared at her hands a moment, frustrated that they could hold so much power and she hadn't even known. She couldn't fault Minerva for not telling her - she didn't think there'd been anything wrong with her interactions with the Healer, and she'd first approached her sister seeking a job, and not because she was family. And... it was probably somewhere in all this books she was meant to be reading, and she just hadn't gotten to it yet.

There was a reason Minerva wasn't letting her meet anyone yet.

She nodded at Jeremiah's reassurance, though she wasn't sure she felt comforted. It was true, Artemisia considered, that Minerva was a healer. If her concerns were about cutting too deeply and striking an artery, then she ought to rest easily. Her sister would stand by her side and make certain she did not hurt herself. But the blood would have to be Artie's own, and her own magic as well.

But he'd already moved on.

"I'm sorry for your loss," she said, and wondered if his mother had died recently, for she had heard the pause, no matter how smoothly he moved past it. She still had that pause in her voice when she tried to talk about her parents. "I... I met a priestess once. Just for a little bit. She came to our village for a season to teach the farmers to read."

She'd seen none since coming to Sevastopol, however, and wondered if they were rare, like Healers or Queens.

Her eyes went a little wide as the landing web came into view. "Only... Only once," said Artemisia. "When I came to Sevastopol from the village." And it had cost what she considered a small fortune. She wasn't sure Minerva would have given her approval if she knew Jeremiah was taking Artemisia somewhere far enough away that they had to go by the winds. Or maybe she would have. Her older siblings seemed to have an understanding that went over Artemisia's head as the youngest and most recently-inducted.

"Isn't it expensive?" she asked, absolutely scandalized.

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #10 on: Jun 06, 18, 02:10:43 AM »
Jeremiah was the sort that, when he felt discomfort, a need rose in him to try and ease it. There was a time and place for that, one where they were comfortable and not within the eye of the public. He also wondered how happy Minerva was to have an empty canvas to work with. Artemisia was perfect, really, for anyone who wanted to be able to cultivate and train a Queen just the way they wanted. The Rose-Jeweled Warlord Prince reminded himself that Artemisia was in good hands, that Minerva would do right by her and ensure that she was protected. It was not, truly, a concern that he had that anything bad would happen to Artie.

If anything he was more concerned if anyone tried to mess with Artie under Minerva's watch. "Thank you," replied Jeremiah. "It is still fresh for me, her death this previous fall." Not Winsol, no, because what died then was not his mother. "My mother enjoyed working with the Landen, helping to teach and encourage the relationship between those of the Blood and those not."

Stopping at a good distance from the landing area, his head tilted and he studied Artie. For a moment it had been odd what she had said but then it made sense. She had been raised among the Landen, unaware of how special she was for years most likely.

"Were we to travel by horse to Sweetbriar it would take an hour, perhaps less if the horse is one from the Graveworthys." As their horses were above and beyond, unquestionably speedy because of their animal husbandry. "While I am sure that we would have an enjoyable talk on the way there and back, it would put us out later than I am comfortable with.

"That said: traveling by the Winds would make it only a few minutes. It can be expensive," continued Jeremiah, acknowledging her concern, "but only for those that must pay for a wind carriage and someone to ferry them while within it. I am proficient, however, in traveling the Winds and taking someone with me. So today it costs nothing other than the use of my Rose to travel as speedily as possible." Though he did not do so as much anymore, only stopping in the summer of the previous year, Jeremiah traveled across the entirety of Dena Nehele using the Winds. It had been done with purpose: for Queen and Jacks alike. Where either needed him, he went and then returned.

"If we go this path, we will be able to visit Sweetbriar and have you home before it is evening."

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #11 on: Jun 13, 18, 10:43:58 AM »
Artemisia bit her lip. She supposed Jeremiah’s mother required no further comment, and the only thing she could really add to the conversation was that her own mother had been gone two years now, and the loss still hurt her at the most unexpected times. That seemed… unproductive. Besides, all this conversation was serving was to raise more questions about how she and her siblings had all come to be. The late Lady Mercer had clearly come from a society family, because her son had inherited the manor they now approached. Minerva’s looks were more foreign than either sibling bracketing her, but Artemisia did not make any presumptions about her mother’s social standing. She’d been Blood, at least, as evidenced by the darkness of her daughter’s birthright.

With that worked out, there seemed to be a distinct decline in the social standing of their father’s lovers.

“That’s what I want to do,” she said, forcing herself to brush the topic aside. “Work with the Landen. Help make sure they get the help they need that we can give.” Which meant it was a good thing that was what she’d been hired for. Minerva was very enthusiastic about all the help Artemisia could do, and she’d been reading about all the specific talents that came with her Queen caste. She was more comfortable with the idea of some of them than others - Land Sense sounded like things Artemisia already did, but anything involving blood sacrifice just made her feel cold.

About the winds, she asked, “Do you think I could learn to do it? Maybe not now, but - when I come of age?” Her White was tremendously limiting, and she couldn’t imagine the quartz crystal clasped at her throat doing much of anything, but - Artemisia had done her reading, and she knew that she might be able to grab hold of a Tiger Eye in a few months, or maybe even a Rose like her brother wore. “It seems like it would be convenient to be able to travel on one’s own.”

Perhaps seems was putting it mildly. Jeremiah had just demonstrated that it most definitely was.

She followed him along the path, trying again to match his strides, eyes trained ahead in hopes of catching sight of the house as soon as she could. “So you grew up here?” Artemisia asked, and then hesitated, testing the question she really wanted to ask.

“Did you know our father at all?” she asked. “My mother never told me much of anything about him. Just that he hadn’t been violent with her.”

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #12 on: Jun 23, 18, 05:47:51 AM »
Sweetbriar, Caecian District
along the Cernavoda River as it splits from the Apa Valea River
Meredith Mercer would have adored Artie. For that matter she would have adored Minerva as well and, for all intents and purposes, she had. Though it would have been more had she truly been aware of who Minerva was to Jeremiah. "Working with the Landen is good. Especially, as you said, giving them the help that we can." Truly, it was part of being Jeweled Blood to look after those around you, but some forgot that and simply took things for granted or abused their power and prestige.

... as so many of the aristocracy were guilty of.

"Of course," replied Jeremiah. "It is certainly something that you can learn. Best, as you said, when you come of age. Not that you could not do something like that now but if you've not a lot of experience with your White is best to wait." It was out of the corner of his eye that he looked at her, the curve of a soft smile visible as well. "If you are not opposed, I can show you when the time comes. If you're truly skilled in it you do not even need a landing pad to catch a wind." Jeremiah did not but it was better to do so when you were traveling with another in his opinion.

They landed upon a landing pad within a well-loved and tended garden. While there were an assortment of flowers - each Jeremiah would be able to tell Artie about if she asked - it was the sweetbrier roses that stood out the most. These were the roses that the Mercer land and home had been named after, the flowers brought with them long before the Purge when they had come through the Dark Gate from Dharo to Dena Nehele. (And if she ever asked, Jeremiah would tell her.) It was without thought that Jeremiah adjusted his gait, as a proper Escort would do (and especially so with a Queen sister upon his arm), and made sure to not take long strides that would taxing on someone without his height.

The house was visible within a minute, once they were out of the garden that surrounded the landing pad. (There were securities around it, the garden landing pad, but as it was Jeremiah they continued to rest and not activate. Sometimes he did not take it, instead coming in from one further out - one used by those that worked the land - but not this day.) It was a great manor home, three stories in total (as there was one below ground that was not seen), and where once it had seemed warm and inviting it was now sleeping. The warmth of the home was sleeping, nearly put out by Maker's crimes, but Jeremiah had seen to it at least returning to some semblance of feeling the same.

"I did," said Jeremiah. "If I was not here, I was with Riley. Later, when she began to rule, was when I truly left home and began to stay somewhere else." Until then they had had the run of the Mercer lands, all to themselves, and it made it easier in some ways to keep an eye on a wayward Queen and her bonded Warlord Prince. In other ways it just meant they got really creative in finding places to hide. It was as they were finding their footing on the stone path that lead up to the front door that Artie's question about their father made him pause. The story of his birth was, among the aristo circles of Dena Nehele, well known. It was why Meredith Mercer had become known as a woman to not be trifled with and it had not, in all honesty, occurred to him that Artie would not know.

"That is not an easy subject to discuss, Artie." Jeremiah's voice was quiet and he began walking once more. When they reached the front door his hand rested upon the frame, the heavy wards upon the home coming to life and answering him. The door opened into an entryway, the sitting room that was immediately to their right closed off by two great double doors. "I suppose, of the three of us, he interacted with my mother the most and, to be honest, I suspect I am the only child he had on purpose. Piers Ionescu was not a good man," ironic that there were Myos he considered good but that was neither here nor there, "and he is not my father." His jaw was tight a moment before he sighed and continued on to explain. "I say this because I would never consider him such but also because I am a bastard, insomuch as when my Birthright Ceremony came no male was named."

There was a stillness to the entryway, especially to the area that was closed off, that spoke heavily but Jeremiah ignored it to lead Artie through the house to the kitchen. It was a well-loved and well-taken care of kitchen, though it was no longer used as often as it once had been. "My mother denied him paternity because of the truth of who he was and why he came into her life." A beat. "He was a Myos." Jeremiah's face, for the first time since Artie had laid eyes upon, was expressionless. "Who had been contracted to see her with child and eventually kill her and spirit away said child."

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #13 on: Jun 23, 18, 06:00:42 PM »
Jeremiah slowed down for her and offered his arm, and Artemisia, blushing just a bit, took it. She was not used to being escorted anywhere or being treated like a proper lady, and this felt just a little bit like tromping around in her mother’s too-big shoes. The gardens were beautiful, more well-kept and manicured than any she’d seen before - a suitable setting for the manor that came into view a moment later.

“You own this?” Artemisia squeaked, stopping briefly in her tracks. “This is the nicest house I’ve ever seen.”

Not to mention the largest. She tried to get her nerves back under control, reminding herself that she lived in a different world now, where she brushed elbows with Aristos and her caste gave her status she didn’t think she deserved. But, more than that, Jeremiah was her brother. And he came from this. She despaired momentarily - what did they even have in common besides their father if he’d grown up here in the lap of luxury?

But, she reassured herself, he’d invited her along for the day. He wanted her here. She was a treasured guest in this world, not an interloper.

Jeremiah’s initial response was enough to make her regret the question. If their father was difficult to discuss, then perhaps she was better off not knowing? Truthfully speaking, Artemisia hadn’t even been particularly curious about him until meeting her siblings. Viorel had been enough of a father to her until then. She wondered if that would be the end of the discussion - but then, once they were through the doors of the manor, Jeremiah spoke again.

“Piers Ionescu,” the young Queen repeated after him, trying out the name. In another life, would she have shared it, instead of her mother’s Xenopol? And, now that she knew it, did she know more about him than Petronela ever had?

“My stepfather was named at my birthright,” she said quietly, but she’d known that was done out of respect and not because it was the truth. Still, she’d been happy to be Viorel Astafei’s so-called daughter. It had been nice… tainted as her memories of him were by the sight of him lying dead on the floor.

The manor’s kitchen would have encompassed the whole main floor of her aunt’s house. Artemisia paused between two counters, hands at her sides, afraid to touch anything for fear of ruining it. Everything was in its proper place, just waiting for the cook to come back… “That’s awful,” she said, brow furrowing. “Why would anyone make a contract like that?”

Being Aristo sounded exhausting. But then another and worse question crossed her mind. “The Myos are the ones who kill people, aren’t they?” she asked. Artemisia had only just begun to familiarize herself with Dena Nehele’s guilds and what they did, but she didn’t think she was mistaken. And slowly… everything awful came sliding into place.

“It was him,” she said, blinking spots from her eyes. Artemisia stumbled, grabbed for Jermiah, caught his hand in hers - and there it was, that sense of familiarity that lived inside their cells. It all made terrible, awful sense now, and the magic radiating from their hands made her nauseous with knowledge. With her other hand, she grabbed the countertop, trying to steady her suddenly-shaking knees. Was the world really so small? “That night. He killed them. That’s why he couldn’t kill me.”

She looked up at Jeremiah, voice suddenly a broken sob - “Why?

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #14 on: Jun 27, 18, 11:20:49 PM »
Jeremiah would have told Artie that it was something he still did not quite realize. That everything was his, that he was no longer the Mercer heir but the only living Mercer. It was all his, everything, and while he was aware of this - because he handled the affairs well, thank you very much - it was not truly settled within his brain. Had he known her concerns exactly- not just the flickers of her emotions as they ebbed and flowed - Jeremiah would have reassured Artie that she was exactly where she should be.

Here, within his home, presence wanted. She was family, someone to be adored and looked after and treasured. Not just because of her Caste, either, but simply because she was his sister. This was why it was not particularly easy to talk about Piers. There was pain in this discussion, Jeremiah knew it too well, but he was not someone who lied or hid truths without there being a reason.

No longer with Artie upon his arm, once they were in the kitchen, he still did not move away. Instead he stayed close, some part of him just like her and afraid to touch anything and another part near because of the topic at hand. "We've a great deal of land," he said quietly, "and it's location is ideal." Not just for the raising of livestock, because of the access to the water, but as farmland that could see irrigation done a lot easier. With the strip grazing and other methods in place, the Mercer land was fertile. When the landed was touched by a Queen's Gift? It was truly bountiful. "... and they were likely hoping my mother would have a female with a Caste, as is typical of the Mercers. I'm the first male in four generations."

There was no point in explaining that the aristocracy was terrible. That they were, quite often, cutthroat and self-serving. That someone had tried to gamble that they would have a pawn in the Mercer heir. Artemisia was a Queen - one that had been hidden - and, while she was coming to understand such things, she would understand in time that what happened to him was common enough.

It was the blankness that came from things clicking in place that had him stepping closer to her as she stumbled, his hand curling around hers even as she caught it. That familiar jolt, heartbreakingly familiar but different, went through him as Artie's world fractured, realization settling in. Jeremiah acted without much thought, the pain of her emotions apparent beyond his skill, and helped steady her. There was no stopping the slight temperature drop, his eyes closing as he came to terms with the fury of what else Piers had done. What terrible things he had visited upon his own child, for all that he had stayed his hand and not killed her. He still cut down her parents, left her to pick up the pieces and that much more in danger.

Protective instincts surged forward, Jeremiah taking another step forward and wrapping his arms around Artie and hugging her.

"... because as terrible as he was, he couldn't kill that which was his blood. He-" Jeremiah's voice was tight, looking back the way they had come and then down at Artie. "I'm sorry, Artie." That she knew now, that the man that sired them was so despicable, that she even had to face such a thing at all (because of her Caste alone). For the moment Jeremiah could say nothing, not as he settled his own emotions by focusing upon being there for Artie.

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #15 on: Jun 28, 18, 12:30:45 AM »
Artemisia wanted to scream. The only thing stopping her was that that wouldn’t be fair to Jeremiah. It wasn’t his fault, she thought, anguish welling up inside her. It wasn’t his fault or Minerva’s fault that the father they shared was a monster. That the way their cells sang to each other was monstrous. She’d loved it earlier, the feeling of belonging that she got from touching her siblings’ hands. Even just ten minutes ago she’d savored Jeremiah’s arm against hers.

Now the similarity was too uncanny. His embrace threatened to drag her back to that awful night. To their father’s hand on her wrist, the terrible shock of familiarity, the way he’d cursed under his breath at the sight of her. Jeremiah sounded sort of like him, she thought, if she listened closely.

She shrank out of his arms, sinking into a crouch. At least it was a controlled descent, not the way her knowledge had threatened to drag her down before. “No, I…” she struggled to articulate what about her question he’d misunderstood, for all that just shrieking why in the middle of a very nice kitchen could be considered any kind of clearly-articulated inquiry.

For months and months and months, Artemisia had wondered why her parents’ murderer hadn’t slain her, too. But with her realization had come her answer, and what she’d demanded just now… what she’d demanded just now was different and not so easy to pin down.

She looked up at Jeremiah over the tops of her arms crossed over her knees, and at this angle he looked a little like the man who’d sired both of them.

“Why’d they have to die at all?” she asked. “They were good people.” People who, she knew now, had given up so much for her when they realized what she was. They’d left jobs and friends to spend the rest of their lives in the middle of nowhere. Artemisia hadn’t ever done anything to deserve such good parents, and she couldn’t do anything to repay them now.

But even that question didn’t fully encompass what she wanted to know. What she needed to know. It was not the kind of thing that could be put to words.

Offline Jeremiah Mercer

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #16 on: Jun 28, 18, 01:24:37 AM »
Why was wide and varied. Why did he do it? Why did it happen? Jeremiah could presume but easier to wait for articulation and further explanation. Still- he took a step back, more than one in fact, when she fell away from him. That minute response of revulsion, the spike of emotion that came with it, was enough to make him not be near. Whatever offer of comfort was retracted because it had to be; because Jeremiah could not touch when it was not wanted; because it made his stomach threaten to turn and so many other things that did not matter right now.

It was only the barest of resemblances to Piers, each child favoring their mother than the foul man. The shape of his face, perhaps the line of his nose, but mostly the color of his eyes. In the end it was all small details, little things that would be missed save when one put each of them side by side; Artemisia, Minerva, and himself. "... because someone," his voice was quiet, something hurt and otherwise in his expression that could no sooner be explained than it simply was, "found where you were, because they were people guarding a Queen." All of this was a given and offered no comfort. Actions were better, easier than anything else and it was enough to make him push through it all to gather together things for actual cooking. Bowls, things from the pantry that had been preserved for future days, and otherwise.

"A Queen," he continued, "that either someone wanted alive or dead and he could not follow through on either but your parents ..." Jeremiah shook his head. Her parents were not her and thus they were dead. "I can't tell you more than that." Could not console more than that either. The thought was there, however, one that he could follow, that he could look. That he could learn and, potentially, answer her why. His fingers twitched, the need to weave with widow's thread strong. "He was Myos, it was a contract, and that is what they do." Someone wanted it to happen and so it happened. "The Guilds are the will of the people, the way in which they are supposed to strike back, and yet the people are the ones who often suffer because of the Myos." As the aristocracy were the ones more likely to have the funds to see such a thing done. Dena Nehele was neither kind nor forgiving.

Jeremiah looked towards Artie, once everything was pulled out. He approached her once more, in arms reach but space given, and pulled out a handkerchief to offer to her after crouching down. "What closure I can offer you is not truly closure - it is barely even comfort - but he's dead." Lingering for the space of a few heartbeats, crouched there, his eyes looked beyond her once more to the front of the house. "He came here to kill my mother, for vengeance or otherwise, and instead found the Black Widow that was masquerading as her; the one that killed her and attacked me." Details did not matter here, only the end result. "They killed one another."

His eyes closed as he breathed in, then out again as he opened his eyes.

"So no other lives will be touched by - hurt by - Piers Ionescu."

Offline Artemisia Xenopol

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #17 on: Jun 28, 18, 11:40:03 PM »
Artie felt a momentary surge of rage, felt her skin flash hot, her White a pinprick of heat against her skin. If this was what being a Queen meant, then she hated everything about it. Wanted to rip her ribcage open and find the part of her where her caste lived and pull it screaming from her chest. Was it in her heart? Her lungs? Her spleen? She would throw it to the ground and stomp on it until it was still and quiet and dead.

And then the moment passed, and Jeremiah was there, a handkerchief extended to her and his voice soft and soothing. He was right that there was no closure that came with knowing their father was dead. That she would never have a… a reckoning with the man who’d created her but also changed her life irrevocably. Who’d forever tarnished her memories of her parents with the sight of them dead.

Still, she reached out and took the hankie, blowing her nose wetly into it. Everything he’d said was cold comfort.

“He was a… a puppet,” she said, after a moment. Jeremiah’s words had pointed her to the conclusion, and she wondered if he saw it for himself. It was hard to tell what Piers Ionescu had done of his own free will and what he’d done at someone else’s behest. Gotten Jeremiah on his mother - an order. But what about herself or Minerva? Had someone told him to do that, or had he just been slumming around?

Murder… clearly an order.

She balled the handkerchief up very small, feeling bashful now that she’d made a mess of it. “It doesn’t matter if he’s dead. Whoever hired him all those times can just hire someone else and it doesn’t matter if it’s illegal to kill Queens or not.”

And when you looked at it that way… suddenly it didn’t matter that he was their father at all.

Artie got to her feet. “I believe,” she said, jaw stiffening, “that you promised me pancakes.”

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Re: trust themselves to fear no second fate
« Reply #18 on: Jul 19, 18, 12:25:43 AM »
"Nothing more than that," agreed Jeremiah, regarding Piers being a puppet, "and never amounted to more than that." Which was why he would never consider him a father, never think of him as anything other than the despicable male that had bedded a woman and seen her pregnant only to kill her and take the heir. A male that had come to kill a family, potentially a Queen as well, and only stopped because he realized the truth. A male that-

He was not a lot of things and Jeremiah did not wish to spare him any more thoughts. Piers Ionescu was not worth their time, just as he was - like so many others - simply a pawn in the Game. Not their father, not anything to them than simply a factor. "They can and they have and they will and they will learn that even they are not beyond a Price to pay for that." Which was enough for him to say about that, the itch under his skin to look and look and look there but ignored because - as Artemisia just pointed out - there had been a mention of food.

Jeremiah's expression softened, nearby to make sure that Artie came to her feet steadily, and chuckled. "I did," he agreed. "Do you want to watch me make them? I can make shapes and designs, you know, so it isn't entirely boring to watch." It was not easy to flip a switch, to turn off the heightened emotions, but they could be redirected and pushed towards action. Like making crepes and otherwise to be eaten.

"Or I could show you if you'd like to learn." Always an option. It was clear, as Jeremiah moved through the kitchen, that he did not fit the description of what was expected of an aristo heir. Not that he particularly cared, he preferred to be himself. Nothing more, nothing less.

... and that, he realized, had grown to include brother.

 

 

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