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Author Topic: The Gala of Queens: Velocity  (Read 961 times)

Description: The Queen's Receiving Room // Tag: Estrellien

Offline Teoda Araneina

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • queen
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      Queen of Dhemlan

    • Faction

      Territory Court

    • Territory

      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      phinneas

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      86

    • Destiny's child.

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The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« on: Jul 19, 18, 12:09:31 PM »
The Gala of Queens had been arranged to allow for everyone involved to move as easily and as comfortably as possible about certain portions of the Territory Estate. It was no small feat, coordinating the mingling of so many temperamental and dangerous parties, but every pain had been taken to give the evening its best chance of success. There was still the occasional and inevitable hiccup, but the Sentinels that were posted generously around the estate made quick and (relatively) quiet work out of ejecting the few cohorts whose members had given in to the urge to misbehave. Four Queens had been escorted out because of their inability to manage their men, and one for her inability to manage herself by the time Teoda was settled into her receiving room and prepared to begin interviewing Queens.

Hopeful regents came one after another to speak of themselves before Dhemlan's Queen. Nearly half of Teoda's First Circle was present in the room, though they were meted out around the two-level space, many of them concerned with their own conversations. Near Teoda, an escort stood just behind each of her shoulders, watching with a hawk-eyed diligence over the petitioners and their parties while they spoke with Lady Araneina. There were Sentinels here, too, though they were positioned further away, along the perimeter walls of the room. The Steward sat at the Queen's right hand, observing the interviews and taking notes. The Court Seer sat opposite him, watching the goings-on with an unreadable calm.

The air in the room was one of structure, but also comfort. It was less formal than approaching the Queen in the throne room, though there was no denying the sense of gravity with which those involved were approaching the matter. Teoda balanced this weight with charm and a sincere interest in the people who came before her, so that with most petitioners it was not a terribly unpleasant exchange.

By the time a runner went and informed Estrellien that the Queen would see her now, nearly a dozen other regents had gone before. A good deal more than that remained to be seen after her, but she was early enough in the evening that she'd have no trouble leaving an impression.

...assuming she was up to the task.

Estrellien was allowed a single escort to accompany her into the room, and the pair of them were announced once Estrellien had been led to stand before Teoda's seat. The chair on which she sat was no throne, but the way it was positioned on a rise in the room likely made it seem like one, all the same. Still, she smiled warmly while the Priestess Queen gave her greeting.

Offline Estrellien Gualtierrez

  • Character Account
    • bo2sapphire
    • pq
    • Role

      Ruling Queen

    • Faction

      Logrona District

    • Territory

      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Haloriel

    • Posts

      60

    • "I love without pride, sans artifice."

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #1 on: Jul 23, 18, 05:50:28 AM »
Queen's Gala in Amdarh, just after Boomeranged Knives

Go out and dance to charm the men at the feast [...] she will burn first like paper. If Salome cried with passion's forgiveness, she will be redeemed. But her heavy crown, ruby with blood will be mixed ...

The walk had done the Priestess Queen very well, and even hours into the Gala, her gown was still pristine as when they had arrived at the Territory Keep for the prestigious event regardless of the reasoning for appearing. As a receiving room, the beautiful space which the Lady Araneina had ensconced herself and several members of her Court, it was clear no expense had been spared particularly for comfort which was a surprise to the Priestess Queen. She noted the positions of each person including the Sentinels specifically so that her focus would be properly upon the Queen herself and to whatever degree was required, the Lady's Escorts. If anything, Estrellien noted the closeness, care and due diligence given toward both the Queen and those yet waiting to be seen. Though it was not so formal as Estrellien might have expected, neither was she fooled by this welcoming charm. It was every bit a throne room as the real one, but she could imagine no Queen who wanted to actually sit somewhere, and on a seat that was uncomfortable.

Sure of herself perhaps by surprise, Estrellien's hand was a light presence atop Raziel's, who offered the same resplendent companionship that he had out in the main ballroom. If anything, in many ways her oldest Bonded male she thought offered an improved impression than her own. In all things that were by Protocol and rote, there was not the slightest hesitation in the Lady Gualtierrez that she could depend upon him. Her own attire was as dark and silvery as the Lady Teoda's was brilliant gold; she could not deny how fascinating it was to look at which unwittingly pulled the smallest twitch of a delightful smile to Estrellien's lips. Now close enough to study the art of the attire, she spent a few moments when bowed in a precise curtsey studying some of the visible golden threads. If there was anything that pleased her truly, it was that none of the present First Circle Courtiers struck her as insincere sycophants.

A disciplined lady when she desired to show as much, the Lady Gualtierrez remained in the curtsey for as long as required, seeming quite like needing to do so was as easy as breathing the air in the room. This, despite the fact that she had grown up nowhere near any hint of luxury like everyone else here, including her beloved. Once she knew, it would have been difficult in extremis to stand before those who had been born her betters, though that was a different matter altogether now. It was still a long road, but as a Queen and a woman, she was proud of the little house she had spent her youth in.

"Lady Araneina," she remarked only when given a clear leave to speak. "I am appreciative considerably for your willingness to allow me to distinguish myself among so many worthy Queens. The evening has been unforgettable," she stated clearly and with even tones long stripped of too common speech save for subtle inflections that only a native or someone well used to Amdarh might notice in her voice. She stood with a formal and cautious air; Mitra sa Roya had still been the Ruling Queen of Dhemlan when Estrellien had been granted Logrona.

As she understood it, the Lady Teoda had been so favoured as to have been handpicked by that precious presence that preceded her. Recalling discussion about just how the Lady had taken her seat and the upheaval surrounding kept Estrellien mentally on her toes. While she was terribly curious about the Queen and recalled the creatively divergent advice from both her Bonded males regarding friendship, she thought to stand somewhere in the middle. After all, allies could ask for favours, while true and mutual affection between Queens called for considerable time spent. Very briefly the lady favoured her Red Jewelled Warlord Prince with a smile, as it went without saying that she vastly appreciated his presence.

"Mother Night is real. Not a mere dream."

Offline Raziel Cavallero

  • Character Account
    • bo2red
    • wp
    • Role

      First Escort

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      Logrona District Court

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      [Link]

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      Lochlan

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      46

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #2 on: Jul 23, 18, 06:41:31 PM »
Into the belly of the beast I go. Raziel considered, silently, to the news that he would be granted leave to accompany her during Estrellian's meeting with the Queen of Dhemlan. Raziel had no love of the aristocracy and the party, courteous as it was, was making him bored. It was, while a time for Lady Araneina to meet and greet with the rulers and hopeful rulers of her Territory, it was an aristo party. For who would be an aristo without the Queen's leave to be so?

As he collected himself, let himself be numbed by the void that made his face make a poker player stress themselves to read him a thousand possibilities passed through his head. A thousand actions he could take. Many of them would make Estrellian an utter laughingstock. No only would she not receive La Orotova, she'd probably lose the District too. Not to mention all that gold she loved to wear. She'd have to sell it to eat. To sleep. To live. Raziel would be dead of course. He was splendid with a sword but he could only take on so many Sentinels before skill became overwhelmed by probability. But she would suffer a sublime wound to which there was no escape from, and suffer the breaking of the bond at the same time. Maybe, to seal the deal, his dying breath could be laughing at her.

Like he suffered. That last one made him smile though. He was a sucker for poetic irony.

Yet he would not do any such thing. There would be no sudden plan to extract a last-minute vengeance. He had to admit...as much as it made him suspect that there was something foul afoot, that she was trying her best to not be like every other aristo: Those who crush others simply because they can, with no other reason to sustain their choice. She was trying to change. She even asked for forgiveness. He hadn't granted it, but the fact that she asked was not something she did. Ever. Stella, the woman that made him feel both alive and dead, was the type of woman to tell you to deal with it than ask forgiveness for a slight - unless it suited her interest to seek it. Now she asked for it. She was, very slowly, becoming the woman that made his heart flutter. A flutter that had no relation to the heartbond, but a beat for the woman herself.

He could give her his best. The woman on his arm, not the gold-studded, cold-hearted swim-in-my-money-because-I-have-oh-so-much-of-it-screw-the-people-I-taxed-it-from, deserved it. If he were to deny her his best, than even his own emotions, what was left of them, would be a lie. And he loved her. Dammit. He did. There was no lie there.

Within the chambers of Queen Araneina Raziel remained standing at proper attention. Estrellian greeted her and, as her escort, followed similarly with a dip at his waist. "Lady Araneina. Raziel Cavallero, First Escort to my Lady. It is an honor to meet you." He spoke plainly. No measurement of words. No neutral nuance. He was a soldier! He should at least meet one Territory Queen he's fought for before he died. Now he can scratch off something off his bucket list.

Offline Teoda Araneina

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • queen
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      Queen of Dhemlan

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      Territory Court

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      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

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      phinneas

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #3 on: Jul 24, 18, 06:22:44 PM »
Teoda smiled graciously to each of the greetings presented to her, and nodded her approval for the form and courtesy of the pair before her.

"Welcome to Amdarh, Lady Gualtierrez and Prince Cavallero. We are most pleased to have you here. It pleases us immensely to hear you have enjoyed the evening." The Queen turned her head then, and cast her gaze over to the Steward briefly, an indication for him to speak. Diego softly cleared his throat and then read the history of Estrellien's rule. It was not a terribly long roster, given that she'd held the same seat for so many years, but it gave some context to one of many Queens Teoda would see tonight.

"Logrona District," she said aloud, the words slowed as though incurring some thought behind them. "You have been under Lady Barbero's providence for some time. Tell us, how do you find her as a ruler? As a mentor? You may speak freely here, Lady. Indeed, we must insist that you do. But rest assured that our conversation shall not leave this room, no matter its contents." Without fanfare, the Priestess Queen would recognize the prickle of foreign sensing Craft upon her person. It was obvious that one or more of the Queen's associates was paying more attention to Estrellien than their mundane senses would allow, though it would be difficult to tell precisely from whom that attention came. Teoda seemed entirely unaware if her appearance was to be believed. Her expression spoke of a gentle, kind-hearted patience while she awaited the Lady's answer.

Offline Estrellien Gualtierrez

  • Character Account
    • bo2sapphire
    • pq
    • Role

      Ruling Queen

    • Faction

      Logrona District

    • Territory

      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Haloriel

    • Posts

      60

    • "I love without pride, sans artifice."

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #4 on: Jul 27, 18, 05:20:07 AM »
Welcome to Amdarh.

"I do appreciate the welcome, truly. Your people have done very, very well to ensure this Gala has gone off if not without any spectacles, then as well controlled as anyone could dare hope for, and as professional as any Lady could wish her own event be. The Rose Walk particularly inspired a quiet reflection for prayer and writing, as did the evening stars above the well-nourished gardens."

Though something of the welcome belatedly made Estrellien both inwardly smile and think it ironic. Though she had held Logrona for two centuries nearly, most of her life had been spent in her native Coreserini. She had family all over the province, in fact. So before Logrona had become home, Amdarh and La Oratova had been home first. If anything, the words made her very much feel nostalgic.

She wondered then, what it had been like for the Lady Teoda Araneina, to have to work as hard as she did and yet, have quite a lot of very good luck handed to her by fate and the good sense not to ruin it. The good sense and experience not to take the wrong turns that could potentially leave one dead in the water. It was what this meeting felt like, a test to end all tests. Estrellien felt drawn out, stretched and measured as Prince Salazar read through her history. One couldn't help but notice the tension at the very beginning of that list, the gentle contrite expression, and the manner in which her hand tightened and tensed but smoothed over Raziel's hand as a very gentle, almost tender apology.

Nearly, it was a relief when the Lady Teoda spoke, asking her thoughts with very little surprise about the Province Queen set above her. Lady Barbero. Estrellien did not exactly have strong feelings about the Queen she had served under for quite a fair portion of her life. She knew the woman was not exactly the brightest star, as much as she did seem to try and care. The strange prickle of Craft that settled as an awareness over her senses caused the Priestess Queen to look around but only briefly, as she was unable to pinpoint without using Craft exactly where it was coming from. What she did know, was that she did not like the feeling. Unknown Craft wasn't exactly safe, in her viewpoint, especially with the sheer number of Sentinels present. That feeling did not make the Lady Gualtierrez feel like speaking freely. If anything, it made her feel anxious.

She tapped her fingers on one side of Prince Cavallero's hand in a specific pattern to make note of something causing her real and honest discomfort, that she could not see, nor react to, and not even speak of but that she very much hoped was harmless particularly given the Queen's seeming unawareness as to what was happening in the room. After all, it wasn't as if they could just turn around and leave. As such, she tried to focus on the questions she had been asked. After all, if it were poorly meant, surely there were enough well-trained males present that actual concern needn't exist. Yet, she couldn't shake being bothered, as even in moments where most people were or might have been trustworthy, Estrellien was typically expecting something to go wrong. "Her Court runs well as far as I have ever been able to tell. Her Triangle as I understand it is all or most are family. The Lady Barbero is a ... Dhemlanese Queen, through and through," she responded very precisely.

The kind of Queen that when she was two hundred years old and ever so much the fool, would have been delighted to try to emulate. Not to speak of the Lady Amore de Medina, who had truly, and stupidly once been Estrellien's lady to watch for the century. Or at least, one of them. Now the thought gave her a pained, uncomfortable pressure that wrapped so firmly around her heart as to be a just and sharp-fingered judgement. Dark brows furrowed. Words that she had been willing to say unguarded in the presence of her Bonded males about the state of Dhemlan and what it meant for the people as a whole was another matter altogether. A faint flush grew upon the Lady Gualtierrez's cheeks. "I believe that somewhere, deep down, that she cares. We are not so far apart in age if I recall correctly, she and I. But there's always been this sense that she isn't really attending. She says and does the right things as far as I have ever been able to read them and yet ..."

Gently, she offered a head shake. "I would never call her mentor, not for me. Not really for any Queen looking to be ... well, more. Better. I hesitate, I apologise, but it is only because I know I have a past. To speak too plainly could be construed with an unfair lens. I would not wish to be judged too sharply for my faults, but rather the content of my potential character and present display," she explained with a graceful bow of her head, still doing her best to disregard the strange feeling of being watched.

"But there is a difference between a woman that is also Queen and a Queen that is also a woman. I learned the lesson on my own and in the worst possible way. Not because any other Queen was there to teach me. Ambitions are greater than her care and want to help the people truly. If I followed the Lady Barbero as a mentor I would end right back at the awful place I have spent centuries trying to escape and not enough prayer or vigils would save me."

"I had a difficulty with a number of Landen Villages, as well as some of the smaller ones among the Blood. While I jested among my Court that the Lady Barbero would be better suited to cause my ruin than allow revenues to falter as a grace to those that need it, the chances are very likely that it is true. Instead of risking that, I paid the overdue taxes and saw to various repairs from my own fortune but in such a way that it did not read like charity at my First Escort's suggestion that we do more when able," she finished, not willing to take the credit for an idea that had not been her own.

"I do not think she notices the knife-balance between us all. But as I said. She is a good Dhemlanese Queen, and her Court runs beautifully with gilded beauty always in view. I know the look as well as I do my own hands, unfortunately, Lady Araneina, with all due respect and etiquette," Estrellien finished and once more, offered a curtsey. While she had been thankful for Raziel's keen eyes, it was just now in the moment that she felt so richly grateful for the countless times that he had prodded her with a thought here and there, and tugged her swiftly down from a horse higher than she deserved. The mysterious person observing Estrellien would notice no more than her very honest, and open emotions. The days were long past that she truly had anything to hide, and just then, the presence of her was filled with concern for her home, and a love that was far more full than had anything to do with the awkward Bond between them.

"I know very well better than to consider the Lady for more than a polite, surface need." Once more, she curtsied, cheeks pink with some small and brief concern that she might have spoken too much before recalling that had been what was asked of her. To turn from the heel to the face was not easy and she was still working on it. While she wanted to believe that her fellow Queens cared at least as much as she was still learning how, Estrellien could also see with her own two eyes and count the coins of her people's greed which was greater even than her own, to frighteningly consider the truth. Just as seeing her appearance on the dais, the kind and patient expression in Teoda's bearing did indeed have the effect of cutting the Priestess Queen all the way to the quick.

"Mother Night is real. Not a mere dream."

Offline Raziel Cavallero

  • Character Account
    • bo2red
    • wp
    • Role

      First Escort

    • Faction

      Logrona District Court

    • Territory

      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Lochlan

    • Posts

      46

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #5 on: Aug 03, 18, 11:33:03 PM »
It was expected, and Raziel complied, that he had no leg in this discussion. He was sure, if for some reason he had something important to say that it would earn the Queen's ear. It did not take long for Raziel to suspect the motive of Teoda's questioning. Using the district claim to get intel on the Courts...clever. He contemplated, off the top of his head, what others might make of Estrellien's Court were Teoda to question them about it. He couldn't suspect anything, contrary to the litany of grievances Raziel could cite verbatim...no one really came to the District, not anyone of significance. Your typical courtier of interested parties but no one truly came to the District.

Points in Estrellien's favor he supposed.

It took him a few seconds from his mind games, the only thing to really occupy his time apart from listening to notice the subtle gesture Estrellien offered him. It was the feel of her hand, more any rhythm, that sent the signal that Estrellien sniffed something. The eased observer, Raz let his senses open in the room to sense the immediate surroundings. Without the use of the typical probe, because getting attacked by Sentinels for a probing spell would be utterly uncooth, he had to go by sheer awareness and left Raziel unresponsive to Estrellien's nerves for seconds longer than most. He scanned the Queen's retinue and given the looks of stern concentration on a few of her cohort he then reminded himself that there was nothing odd or strange between their bond to give clues either.

At best, he suspected a probe. Magical senses reaching out and discerning whatever it was they were looking for in his amor. He would have to make sure, however, that it only remained a probe. The only soul in Dhemlan who could mess with Estrellien was him. Teoda, her lackluster batch of gold-goblet sucking louts and the arrangement of her morally bankrupt Sentinels would just have to deal with the price they would pay should they incline to overindulge their position to self-gratify themselves - the aristos that they are. He left his senses open, settling into a position of active awareness while saying nothing.

Raziel's subtle response to Estrellien was nothing. If there was anything to be afraid of he would do something. Instead he simply remained where he was paying attention while keeping senses and eyes alert. Like a good soldier.

Offline Teoda Araneina

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • queen
    • Role

      Queen of Dhemlan

    • Faction

      Territory Court

    • Territory

      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      phinneas

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      86

    • Destiny's child.

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #6 on: Aug 07, 18, 10:53:40 AM »
A Dhemlanese Queen. Estrellien named Lady Barbero this as though the label carried far more than a sense of the woman's nationality. The carefully crisp way the words were spoken made it sound to Teoda as though those additional qualities weren't the sort that were spoken of in polite company. She could not help but take exception, sitting on the throne of the Territory and occupying the position of penultimate Dhemlanese Queen in so many ways. Patience held her tongue at first, though the slight lift of one regal eyebrow heralded her interest in the Priestess Queen's choice of words and inflection. That thoughtful quiet persisted even a beat after Estrellien had ceased speaking, while Teoda seemed to study her. Just a beat, and then the sitting Queen's chin lifted a small bit.

"It is an interesting conundrum you present to us, Lady Gualtierrez." She paused again, briefly but clearly accustomed to not having to fight for speaking time, as it was the natural habit of those around her to wait patiently for her to finish her thoughts. Then again, her inner circle understood better than most just how many psychic threads the woman juggled at any given moment when she was holding an audience such as this one. Teoda leaned heavily on the experience and wisdom of the members of her court, having hand selected them for very specific and intentional reasons. While she unilaterally had the final say about decisions made and it wasn't a true democracy, her Court was genuinely a machine which used all of its available parts.

"With one breath you praise Lady Barbero as a 'good Dhemlanese Queen', yet with the next deride her lack of attention, her unfortunate priorities, and her lack of ambition. It sounds to us as though you believe a 'good Dhemlanese Queen' is one who is little more than a pretty facade, a pretense rather than a woman convicted with the blessing and burden of rule. Tell us, is that truly your idea of what comprises a 'good Dhemlanese Queen'?"

Offline Estrellien Gualtierrez

  • Character Account
    • bo2sapphire
    • pq
    • Role

      Ruling Queen

    • Faction

      Logrona District

    • Territory

      Dhemlan, Kaeleer

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

    • OOC

      Haloriel

    • Posts

      60

    • "I love without pride, sans artifice."

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #7 on: Aug 30, 18, 08:00:44 PM »
Unfortunate circumstances seemed to occur regardless of whether she meant well or not, it seemed, whispered the dark, seductive voice that always had the tendency to reveal itself when Estrellien did not know quite what to do. Here just now, was one of those moments as she had not expected for the Lady Araneina to take exception to something so small as a phrasing that had little enough to do with the purpose of their meeting. In some ways, it reminded the Lady Gualtierrez of her mother in a fit of sharpened focus, nearly rapier keen over the smallest detail.

A question had been asked of her that didn't have an easy answer, no differently than she imagined there was not an easy answer for any ruling Queen in Dhemlan with a growing tide of corruption that was about as obvious as a tidal wave. Yet, Estrellien would not sink back into ways and methods that would harm more than help. Despite how much she was tempted, oh, so very tempted to offer a snarl of an answer. Contritely even at the thought of it, the Priestess Queen crushed once more that piece of herself that was often defensive for no reason. It would gain her nothing here, she knew. "Indeed, I did both offer praises where it was deserved and honestly, as well as call out specific lack as was charged and with an attempt at considerable fair manners as would be expected of any courtier worth space they stand upon before a Territory Queen," she answered.

"My idea of what comprises a Dhemlanese Queen begins and ends by a variety of measurements and weights, whether for warmth or ill and have changed over my few centuries of rule. More particularly, I am a Priestess as much as I am a Queen. I hear what the commons say. What the Landen say, as I have just explained, and even what the poorest and most desperate of us dream and beg for, though it might be said we have less of them than some places. Too many of us are exactly that; a pretense, with myself not at all possessing sparkling hands. Blessing and burden of rule aside, our people deserve more ... honesty." She stopped short of pointing out that most Landen either feared or hated their overlords or perhaps felt indifference or rage depending on the day, that most of the working poor ached for a little more while the wealthiest dined on actual golden plates. Some of it was certainly by chance and the proscribed tendency for Dhemlanese people to both work and play hard, while plenty of it was not.

Estrellien offered by phrasing that was as cautious as her previous. "So no, it is not my view of what a good Queen should be. My phrasing was the most gracious method I could think of to answer your question in a formal setting as this regarding a single Queen without risking my own reputation, while not standing and paying unfair insult or a pretty series of lies to a woman that I think, does try, if not enough." Rather than saying more, Estrellien halted there, curious to see what fault would be found next with her words. The lady rolled her shoulders and straightened her stance.

While it could have been done once, her speaking of the Seville Province Queen as though she had never done any wrong in her life with perfectly place flattery and beautiful language Estrellien knew very well, she had no intention of standing before this woman to do that. Certainly, the Queen of all of Dhemlan deserved to hear more truth at least as far as Estrellien understood it. Far better rather than standing before the Territory Court lying either by omission or otherwise.

Nor could she pretend to be something or someone that she was not. No gentle butterfly or flower would be found here, as much as she might have once wished to give everything to be one. The only things that kept Estrellien calm were her conviction in those plans, the manner that without faltering, Prince Raizel was a truly perfect soldier and statesman at the moment, and that Prince Coyote believed in her more than she did herself. "Both of those things would be incorrect. No differently, than at any moment I am lacking, I expect my Court to tell me where I could do better, though, that was not always the case, I admit freely." The whispered words of the prayer she had spoken what seemed a lifetime ago in the garden fluttered through her thoughts.

Once more she caressed Raziel's hand, this time to try to communicate how fine she considered his bearing and presence, even while understanding the man could give her very little response if any at all. If he was not worried about the sense of Craft, then Estrellien would relax and leave the matter into his hands. The moment that she did, the sweetened presence of her Castes seemed to just passionately align. "I am always thinking about being more, being better, in my prayers, in my devotions, giving to the land, my attention. It would be unwise to consider a Queen set above my station with more ease than I do myself, in my opinion, with the same understanding that in most cases, we are each our own worst critic. We Dhemlanese are perhaps most of all given how in even our play, we do not tend toward restfulness."

"Mother Night is real. Not a mere dream."

Offline Teoda Araneina

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #8 on: Sep 27, 18, 11:23:08 AM »
Teoda and the bulk of her attendants observed in studious silence as the Priestess Queen spoke. She made no move to respond aloud right away, which allowed Estrellien to go on at length if she desired, and to say all that she wished to say. Even when she was finished, Teoda rested there in that comfortable (for her, at least) silence. There was a small clue towards the fact that it was not an idle silence when she raised the palm of one hand from where it rested against the arm of her chair. It was a small, halting gesture, one used to stop the psychic threads that were still attempting to communicate with her. Every courtier in that room had an opinion on Estrellien Gualtierrez, and they all wished to help advise their Queen. When all was said and done, however, Teoda desired a moment to simply think, without all of those other voices sounding off.

"As we have explained," she said, finally, her tone pleasant and calm. "You may speak freely in confidence here, Lady Gualtierrez. We understand that the compulsion to couch one's words in caution may be a difficult habit to break, given the manner in which typical courts conduct themselves. However, you are here petitioning to join our circles, and to take stewardship of a full third of our beloved Dhemlan. Some say that Coreserini is the very heart of our land, in fact. We must be able to speak plainly to one another if there is any hope for us to accomplish anything good for our people. Our advice to you for the remainder of this interview is to worry less about speaking carefully, and give priority to speaking truthfully. We are not blind to the shortcomings of some of our ruling Queens. That is part of the reason we are proceeding in such an unorthodox manner to fill La Oratova's seat, in fact. Rest assured that whatever you share with us today will not leave this circle. Do not miss this opportunity to have your truths be heard."

Something shifted subtly in the air then, a slight tensing of some of the men nearest Teoda. She seemed to ignore it, and stood smoothly to her feet. Not a man moved to escort her as she stepped gracefully down the low steps of the platform on which she'd sat a moment before, though neither of the two men nearest her looked as though they were happy about that fact. Alone, Teoda approached Estrellien and her escort, her eyes on the Lady until she stopped a foot or two before her. Only then did she turn her head and look at Raziel. She smiled, something warm and appreciative, and one could perhaps imagine that warmth as a touch of amusement at all the pomp and circumstance she was foiling by having just gotten up and walked herself so near to them.

"Prince Cavallero, may we escort your Lady to the window upstairs? You may follow if you wish."

One arm crooked at the elbow and lifted towards Estrellien in offering, barring some explosive denial from Raziel.


Offline Raziel Cavallero

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #9 on: Sep 29, 18, 05:15:04 PM »
Raziel paid little to no attention to either Estrellien or, truth be told, Teoda apart from an ear to listen to them speak. It would be just poor form if someone asked him a question and he had no idea what they were talking about. Instead, most of his attention was directed toward Teoda's retinue. Teoda was the star of this show and he suspected her attention would be directed to Stella. Her retinue were the ones free to fuck around and be false. A subtle Craft use here, there, and all of a sudden they could have the makings of an incident. Raz wouldn't let that happen. He even let them know he was sometimes catching them doing innocuous Craft. His eyes would move to a user and stay there on them, arch an eyebrow then go elsewhere.

Yet he never spoke. He didn't even give himself the opportunity to mentally facepalm if Estrellien said something silly. You don't get distracted in a snake pit. And the viper is the most dangerous predator of the batch. He would make sure it was him, because it WAS him, and he would in silence assure everyone that it was indeed the case.

Raz noticed the change in attitude of the retainers. Something was thought that no one liked. They practically waved tension. When Teoda stood and approached him and Estrellien he understood. She's making herself vulnerable. He would be acting the same way if Estrellien just up and went over to Teoda's side of the room where she could easily be swarmed by the Territory Queen's retinue. He simply smiled at the gesture of her approach.

Perhaps...Mother Night was kind after all. Why else would the Queen of Dhemlan be so close, so vulnerable? Raziel could simply reveal a sword, behead her, and cut the head of the dragon at the root. It wouldn't be hard at all. He would have to leave Estrellien behind in his escape but Estrellien deserved it. She deserved to die with the rest of them. He could probably set the whole ballroom aflame before he left. Burn them all to ashes with their gregarious lifestyle and exploit-ridden dresses and accessories. Seal the room with his Red, burn it all down, and escape. If he managed to make it? A good day. If not...at least the fat would be trimmed from the dragon too.

No. He couldn't leave Estrellien behind to die with them. He would have to find a way to help her escape. She had changed, far different from the pompous ignorant woman she was when they met. She didn't deserve to die with the rest of the fat, and his act of treason would be a shadow over her head for the rest of her days. The change she had made for herself would mean nothing then because all would suspect her of conspiracy. He couldn't do that to her. Not after all that she had tried to do to change.

...But the Queen was offering her hand. It would be so easy....

Then Teoda talked to him.

His attention was already on her, for different reasons, and he eyed her retinue behind her before turning back to her. "I respect the privacy of ladies and rulers, Queen Araneina." His voice did not betray the bubbling conflict of killing. Such was the way of the viper. "I will respect privacy if it is what you wish. If there will be none, I will follow my Lady."

Offline Estrellien Gualtierrez

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #10 on: Dec 16, 18, 12:07:09 PM »

Estrellien did not find the silence that followed her words altogether too troublesome, nor stressful.  Just as much as she was aware that Raziel's attention both wandered and didn't, simultaneously as could have been expected. It was often difficult for the Priestess Queen to unwind particularly in public spaces due to whether or not it was considered appropriate or not to do so. It made little difference that the Queen of Dhemlan had given her permission, her calculating mind still wandered through the risk of offering words beyond that couched in Protocol and as fine an Etiquette as she could possibly grant.

It surprised the Priestess Queen to hear the Lady Araneina repeat her offering of safe speech and the reason for the importance. The Lady Gualtierrez weighed her words against the movements and presence of her courtiers, especially so once she rose to her feet and approached. Almost, Estrellien protested a hint of shock present briefly in her golden eyes, if only for the Queen's court. She couldn't imagine any of them appreciating such a move, even if it utterly raised the Lady Teoda in respect as far as Estrellien was concerned.

She watched Prince Raziel very carefully, in addition. In that particular moment, she couldn't have entirely guessed what the Warlord Prince was thinking, but did not imagine it to be anything good for much of the room. She barely managed to suppress the frisson of nervousness he made her feel, just then, and how easily he could ruin not only this for her, but the seat she already held. Another rough pang of regret sliced through Estrellien then, as whatever he was thinking, some fair portion of it was directly her doing.

For a moment, the Priestess Queen couldn't see the room, did not at all see herself as deserving of the very thing she had wanted to claim for so many reasons. The Heart of Dhemlan. She bowed her head and nodded, the sense of sudden emotional panic receding near as quickly as it had built. More than anything, she wanted to be good for it, worthy. Was Salvador correct? That they lived so long that true change could happen to any one of their kind? Just then, she wanted to believe it was true, that even if there were ways in which wickedness would ever be part and parcel of her soul, that just maybe there was enough sweetness that a fruit tree could grow from her gifts, in a sense of some wishful metaphor.

As such, Estrellien did not make a single overture toward the Lady Teoda until Raziel had offered his response until her court had finished their reactions toward the Queen of Dhemlan breaking formalities and approaching. She had thought Teoda lovely when seeing her at a distance when the announcements were made earlier, the idea of the Queen indeed had been something fanciful and far off from the reality. This moment settled all the more in her mind that she had no interest in snaring the Lady Araneina's position for herself, noticing how her courtiers reacted when she wanted simply to speak in semi-privacy with another Queen.

Truly, Estrellien could blame none of them. She wondered then, how many credible threats her Master of the Guard had to contend with on a regular basis. Estrellien found herself drawn into what could be. Estrellien might not have needed to acknowledge Teoda's males, but she chose to do so, offering a long, compassionate expressive look upon her face in observing those present. Only afterward did she turn, releasing her Raziel's arm only to take up a position at Lady Araneina's side to show herself as in service to the Queen.

"As it is wished, Lady Araneina; my apologies that you have seen need to repeat yourself, I meant no insult at all, might I confirm. I will take these words of a promise of simple, plain speaking as they have been given, even if it still surprises me." It was odd in part, as she had been near to Raziel the entire evening thus far, and already felt some lack at not touching him. That was particularly strange, Estrellien decided, then studied her Warlord Prince for some additional moments to decide whether he would remain here with the other males, or accompany. She pondered closely how much she trusted Raziel, expression suddenly grave before she smiled with a slightly relaxed tenderness. "I have nothing to say that my Prince does not already know," she said in a tone that had softened. "I am happy to have Raziel follow, but more, to have your escort, Lady Araneina. I believe I can speak more at ease and plainly, with the sun to brighten all with her presence much more nearby ... at your lead, my Lady?"

"Mother Night is real. Not a mere dream."

Offline Teoda Araneina

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #11 on: Dec 20, 18, 09:09:43 AM »
"As much privacy as any sitting Queen may hope for," Teoda told Raziel. That is to say, privacy save where it must yield to security. She turned with Estrellien at her side and ascended the short spiral of stairs that led to the room's upper level. There were a few other courtiers here, in a more relaxed, couch-laden room meant for resting. To the right there was a small balcony which overlooked the Amdarh's river district, the most affluent urban area in the Territory. The river itself was a dark, serpentine jewel cutting through the scene, sparkling merrily under the generous swath of moonlight which bathed it. Houses and estates of all shapes and sizes shared only their proximity to the river and the Dhemlanese preference for clean, graceful lines. Witchlight dotted the abundance of closely-situated residences, and though the distance was too great to discern individuals within them, the scene nonetheless felt very much alive and breathing. Beyond the river, the lights of Tarragona's massive shipyard could just be seen towering over the riverside. A set of chairs and a small table were centered in the space, but Teoda moved past them to stand at the balcony's rail and look out at the land. Craft quietly pricked her senses here and there, what faint strands of security webs, privacy webs, and defensive webs she could sense at her depth. It was only a fraction of what was there, permanent Craft meant as much to keep the Queen safely inside while keeping the Craft of others out.

"Prince Cavallero, our privacy, please." She left him to guess whether she meant for him to leave them, or for him to shield their conversation from eavesdropping. Truth be told she was bothered by neither. Either way, she turned her attention to the night-time vista beyond the Keep, and lingered in silence for a moment to allow Estrellien to take in the sublime beauty of the scene.

"More than five and a half million souls," she said, finally, her eyes sliding over the view with a mother's composed but loving eye. She turned her head, and settled that gentle, discerning gaze on the Priestess Queen. "Tell us true, Lady Gualtierrez: what do you see, when you look at them? When you think of our people, how do you find them?"

Offline Raziel Cavallero

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #12 on: Dec 20, 18, 05:52:01 PM »
Teoda turned to lead them up the staircase and Raziel's blood cooled. Patience. Two birds may die with one stone just yet. Even more perhaps, if luck is on our side. The long game. The game of decades or centuries, silently waiting for everything to fall into place so that one flick will topple every house Mother Night built and like the Big Bad Wolf rush in and gobble Her and all her little piggies up.

That brought a smile to his face.

He followed behind Estrellien, his attention more focused on the surrounds than on the ladies. When he arrived atop the staircase to see her office? Sure. Office. He scanned the room and reached out with his senses. As anticipated, the room was layered with everything from defensive spells to alarms to an extent the room prior looked like an open plain in comparison. He suspected that this room, unlike the room below, was more restricted in regards to whom can come in or leave perhaps. Careful. You sneeze and Sentinels will probably descend from the rafters. He rubbed at his mood ring as he finished sizing up the room. Defensible, even with a balcony, but nothing that a Sapphire or a Red couldn't break through if the going got tough. He suspected, considering the level of security, that it wouldn't.

He sent a psychic thread to Estrellien alerting her of the defenses but nothing more. If, and that was a big if, Teoda was going to try to play dirty strength-flexing with them then whatever her ace was would already be in the room. Probably shielded. Meaning they would be darker than both of them since he couldn't sense anyone hiding clandestinely behind their Jewels. Patience.

The request for privacy made Raziel give a brief gesture of Craft that audibly sealed the room with his Red. He even included the balcony for good measure. He however did not leave. She didn't specify his recusal and he was interested to see for himself what this gilded Territory Queen was made of. And leaving Estrellien alone in a kill box would just be poor form.

Teoda's question to Estrellien made him wince.

Not because she couldn't answer the question. Just that she would be able to better answer the question drunk. A few glasses of Sangria and he was pretty sure Estrellien could out-philosophize Witch, let alone their Queen.

He could imagine it.

Can we truly see? Truly see anything? Are we not blind to the souls of others, and that is why such conflict resides around us? And to think of them, to "find" them, is a question answered in the asking isn't it? Aren't we all thinking of how to find something or even someone?......

He tried really hard not to break face. But he was slipping, he was smirking.

Offline Estrellien Gualtierrez

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #13 on: Dec 29, 18, 08:24:19 AM »
In most cases, or indeed nearly all previous ones she'd had extraordinary difficult times speaking cleanly and clearly from the heart. Alcoholic drinks that had an effect tended to strip away Estrellien's walls far easier than she could allow them to fall. However, the effect of being near another Queen that was likely twice her age and experience, and who didn't have the goal of destruction had the sudden effect of filling a deep need that had been much of the cause of the hole in the Priestess Queen's heart that had long ago sent her down the path where she'd ended up with Raziel's parents' blood on her hands, even if it had been indirect ... that made no difference. Whether or not she managed to secure this seat, more than all of that, Estrellien wanted a friend and truth told ... she caught her breath at the next thought, the bubble of tenderness and tucked it away.

It had taken a long time for Estrellien to understand that it never had, and more, that bonding to her had been perhaps, for him, the ultimate key in the lock toward any chance for him to believe in Mother Night's existence. On their date, he'd showed her what he felt, day in and out, and in the weeks since those days, she'd been anxious and in a dancers' stance upon knives since in his presence. She very much doubted in taking Teoda's arm that this woman had made such horrific mistakes as she had, even in the same moment that she chastised herself for presuming she had the right to make such a judgement.

Estrellien's mouth went dry at the flicker of Craft from Raziel once they stopped even though it was first to confirm her expectations of security. Second, she allowed his seemingly wild expectations of combat and how his mind saw matters, laid out in a precise bloodbath were it to come to pass. She'd never allowed herself to see what he did much of the time, but the self-consideration allowed just enough pause and vulnerability to both feel and see.  It made her aware that the way she controlled and felt her Bonds with both her males were far too narrow, observing Teoda. She noted the shielding of the deep flare of Red around them.

Thus, when the woman asked her question and Estrellien began to mull it over, she began to widen both at once. The resulting kick pushed a blush into the Priestess Queen's cheeks as she looked out on to the buildings below. I do not give enough, not nearly enough, and if I am to rule Coreserini even as not even the slightest of jests, I need to give so much more. The Heart cannot be allowed to wither. "I..."

We should do something new ...

Those had been his words, or nearly. Estrellien bit her lower lip and leaned - no. She let herself fall into what her eldest Bonded male actually made her feel when she was alone and no one could see, or laugh at the display of emotions. A deep breath followed. "A beautiful and complex question, though I know not all would surmise such a resounding viewpoint," she replied contemplatively. She did not often allow the mingled Castes of Priestess and Queen out to play at once in public, but she did then because Teoda wanted her to be honest.

For once, Estrellien needed not to lie, not at all. Not in her voice, nor presence, not by omission, nor to protect her emotions. She turned her head toward Raziel but once to reassure herself that he was reasonably well. Trusting that he could handle the sudden differences she allowed out to play. "I see potential, greatness. Sadness, and rot, for no one, is perfect, even if we may strive toward it, or even if we do not. I see hope, and both the very ordinary, as well as the extraordinary. I see ... a thousand chances to become more and better. That is an immense weight to carry upon one set of shoulders, Lady Areneina. I have loved those people and hated them in my foolish moments ..." Estrellien tilted her head but kept her eyes upon Teoda's.

Most of all, I have learned it is not about me, but them, she thought, but did not say.

"One that rules must be separate and apart at once. A Queen must know herself and her people at both their brightest and darkest. I see dreams. To possess the gift and tender burden of Queenship whether one rules or no has its own precious layers for each of those souls. It is for us to make certain to tend the land and the heart so that path remains sweet. The second we are blind to their Self is when conflict enters the knife-dance, but even still, I see survivors. I see strength. Those are lives. Those are dreams of the spirit and the heart. Over five million of them, whether or not they have the slightest Craft to their fingertips."

Estrellien looked back toward the buildings below and imagined the people within the wealthiest section of Amdarh - but then her head turned and with it her body slightly toward where just out of her view where the supposed lesser of their people would live. Places like Calzada, or worse. But they were really no different than these. Not at all. Not really. A ruling Queen would need to be at peace with her limited range of effect, not notice, or bleed drops of love into the soil and people, praying that something might change for her offering.

"Sometimes I do wish for a mentor to teach me more. It is too easy to fall to the wrong tangle and destroy life or many lives if one isn't paying attention to others carefully. I feel true gold ... is not gemstones and wealth to buy things with as lovely as they are, it is the people there, Lady Areneina. People and knowledge." Estrellien noticed with a sharp pang there was a chance Raziel would despise her all the more for stating a truth at such a damnable late hour that she ought to have in his presence a very, very long time ago, but it was a fact that it had taken her longer to grow up than most. There were half a thousand courts he could have left to serve within, but he stayed, and stayed, and stayed, even when he'd left in his way, he'd stayed. Her expression softened dramatically, suddenly. She loved him dearly for everything he'd tried to give, despite no promise of return.

"Lady Areneina ... you should not have needed to draw yourself away from those that adore you and wish only your safety for a Queen you do not know well, but I cannot deny I am glad to have had the pleasure to meet you personally this way." Estrellien bit her lower lip and a flash of a smile, dimples flickered over the Priestess Queen's cheeks. "May I answer more questions here, or do you desire to return? Now is technically not the time, I understand, but I would like to get to know you regardless of the choice that is made."

"Mother Night is real. Not a mere dream."

Offline Teoda Araneina

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Re: The Gala of Queens: Velocity
« Reply #14 on: Jan 12, 19, 11:12:21 AM »
The Queen of Dhemlan watched with a patient interest while Estrellien considered the question asked of her and then delivered her response. There was little in the way of approval or confirmation in Teoda's bearing, but neither was there repulsion or dismissal. She seemed for all intents and purposes to be simply listening intently, as though a friend was explaining a complex topic to her and she understood the importance of comprehending it fully. The Priestess Queen looked away, towards the land, but Teoda's discerning study remained on the woman, studying the look of her while she spoke.

When she was finished, ending on the claim that she wished to get to know the other woman, Teoda allowed a warm little smile to her lips.

"It is our desire that all of Dhemlan's Queens should enjoy something of a sisterhood, a more intentional sharing of the burdens and joys of our unique mandates from the Darkness. For too long we have been a nation divided, every court after its own goals, disconnected though we share so much." Here, the Queen's gaze did slide out to the land beyond the balcony, a hint of wistfulness betrayed in the near-invisible sigh that escaped. "It is one of many projects waiting for time and hands enough to give it structure and momentum. Some things cannot be delegated, no matter how many there are willing to take on the work. And first..." she said, pulling a little smile back onto her face and seeming to smoothly rein herself in from a near-tangent while returning her focus to Estrellien.

"We must see that there are Queens on every throne. You are here, Lady Gualtierrez, because we desire to know you, as well. You are not like many of the others we have seen, yet we are having trouble deciding just where that difference lay. Some say you would be a poor fit because Mother Night has seen to divide your interests. It has been suggested that helping to seat a Priestess Queen on a Dhemlanese throne would be a mistake when there are so many Queens available who would not have a second caste informing them of different needs, different priorities. What would you say to those critics? Is it not reasonable to believe that the focus of a Queen would be diluted if she needs share it with a Priestess in her head and heart?" There was a lightness to the way she asked the question, perhaps enough so to avoid the appearance of the criticism being her own. In truth, it had come from elsewhere, but Teoda was quite curious about the woman's answer.

 

 

anything