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For years, the Dark Religion has persecuted the Light Jeweled with its doctrine of stigmatization. Under the messianic Queen Elisif Brenden, it has flourished, ensuring Glacia’s success in other fronts. But upon her death, a line has been drawn and forces beyond Glacia’s borders are gathering to stop its theocracy once and for all.
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Author Topic: The Rook and The Widow  (Read 339 times)

Description: tag: Kaija

Offline Wulfryck Sigurdson

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The Rook and The Widow
« on: Jun 30, 19, 05:35:25 PM »
Wulfryck Sigurdson had been contracted by one of the most dangerous men in Glacia.  It was no small thing to be plucked from relative obscurity to protect not only a Black Widow, but the woman that led the Coven, and kept company that was perhaps more dangerous than even Matias Saari.  Certainly, the reputation of the Wintertons was very different from that of the Territory Court’s Master of the Guard, but that did not mean much when all of them wore the Ebon Gray.  Wolf was not terribly nervous about these men.  They represented the sort of danger that he could not really dwell on.  If they did, for some reason, decided he needed to die, it was rather a moot point.  Living life in that kind of fear was not worth living at all, so when the opportunity came, he gladly went for it.

He had asked to meet his Ward alone.  Of course, the Lady would know that he was coming to see her, and more.  He was about to take up residence in her life, in a fashion that she may or may not have volunteered for.  Whatever the circumstances were behind Prince Saari’s decision, Wulfryck had been given his charge, and only the Midnight Keepers could relieve him of that duty--which would mean that the contract had somehow been released, which seemed unlikely for at least a year, a few months at the worst.  Wulfryck had planned for the meeting, and intended, at the very least, to make the best impression possible.  With that in mind, he was dressed very well, in a suit that was tailored to his lean physique.  The lines of the suit tapered from broad shoulders to a narrow waist, and did not restrict his movement.  It was a black suit, with a white silk shirt with an almost monastic collar.  His shoes were more like slippers, and his long golden blonde hair was tied into a loose ponytail, which made his eyes draw attention.

Wulfryck had made certain to not only bathe, but to bask in luxurious scents.  The mix had been subtle, but he had known a Black Widow or two that had been particularly keen about how he smelled.  Not only did he have the sense of a Prince about him, but he smelled of sandalwood, with hints of lemongrass and cinnamon.  He had made certain that his skin, save for the calluses that came with combat training, was soft to the touch and well maintained.  The very subtle lines of his tattoos hinted at something more, particular along his hands and wrists, which were all that could be seen of them when he was dressed.  The lines were faint, but Black Widows were astute, and he had ever reason to expect Lady Kaija to be so.  He arrived by coach, so he did not smell of horse, and politely knocked on the door to the Coven Leader’s home.

No one could deny that the Rook was attractive, but he carried with him a sense of confidence beyond his Caste and his Blood Opal, with a broad stroke of sensuality that was hinted at by his choice of scents and the soft silk of the shirt against his skin.  Wulfryck looked like, and was a man that one could cozy up to on a long, cold night--and he knew it.

Offline Kaija Aili

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #1 on: Jun 30, 19, 06:00:42 PM »
Kaija had gone for quite some time without a permanent escort assigned to her. She understood that Rooks served Black Widows and that they could be valuable assets for her Sisters in the Hourglass. But there was a distinct difference between what others needed and what she herself needed. She had never felt she needed a Rook to serve her and she didn’t see why she needed one now.

Mat had made the certainty of the matter quite clear to her. There was no room for objection. If he had to explain to Aksel why he was overly cautious with her safety or not careful enough, he was definitely going to chose the first. Not to mention that Mat was not a Black Widow. She did not have a way to reach him if she were in danger. Without the ability to initiate a communication thread or leave a message along a spelled web, her quickest avenue was sending him a handwritten note, something he was more than happy to point out to her was inadequate when it came to her continued care and defense. 

Perhaps she had grown so comfortable with the feel of Ebon Gray surrounding her that she had allowed herself to get too comfortable. The wounds Otso Oskari had left on her psyche were deep. But then she had trusted him. He was able to get close to her because they knew each other and had for years. They had served the same Queen. She taught his daughter. He had even been her escort on occasion.

How would a Rook protect her from being betrayed by someone close to her?

When the day arrived for them to meet, she had dressed in a gown made of black silk. Her Blood Opal sat prominently against her chest. Kaija called in a small silver knife. She cut her finger and used her blood to release the Ebon Gray wards that guarded the townhouse. Blood still glistened on her fingertip when she answered the door. Vanishing the small knife, she stepped back to allow the Rook into her home.

Everything within smelled heavily of the dark scent of Ebon Gray. The rich cloth of the curtains. The leather that bound the spines of the seemingly endless collection of books. With the exception of the kitchen and her workroom, the whole first floor had been essentially turned into a library, bookshelves lining every available wall.

”I am Kaija Aili. But then you know that. It’s why you’re here.”

Offline Wulfryck Sigurdson

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #2 on: Jul 05, 19, 12:37:26 PM »
”Of course, I knew.  Who else could you be?”  Wulfryck smiled and entered the room without any hesitation.  There was no mistaking the heavy presence of Ebon Gray, but he had long since become accustomed to dealing with those darker than he was.  Fear about such presences had no place here.  He had a Ward to protect and guide, and he was a Rook.  Dark Allies, or enemies, would not prevent him from being who and what he was.

He stood close before the Black Widow, meeting her eyes without any sense of hesitation or concern.  ”I was warned that you were lovely, but I do not think they prepared me for just how easy you would be to watch.”  He smiled slightly, and did not move any closer.  He was just on the edge invading her personal space, but he was close enough for his scents to reach her.  ”I am Wulfryck Sigurdson, most wind up calling me Wolf--there was one ‘Wolfie’.”  Wolf crinkled his nose very slightly at that last admission, a brief display of his dislike of that particular moniker.  ”I am your Rook.  This means I am here to see to your safety, from threats internal and external.”

Wulfryck continued to hold her gaze, ”Would you like to show me around?”  He offered her his arm, like a proper escort.  ”And feel free to ask me anything you like.  I am here for you, and I do want you to feel comfortable with me.”  He gestured, ”I am aware of the circumstances surrounding your acquaintances and allies, shall we say?  I want you to know that I am undeterred.  I am here for you, and for you alone.  That you have friends that can render me to dust does not concern me.  Only your well-being does.”  His eyebrows rose slightly, golden and perfect, ”Shall we?”

Offline Kaija Aili

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #3 on: Jul 11, 19, 04:44:25 AM »
Kaija knew a line when she heard one. The trouble was, despite it seeming like that was what Wolf had offered, the reality was it didn't feel like a line. It felt like a genuine compliment.

“Thank you,” she found herself responding.

The Black Widow studied her new guardian as he spoke of his name. He was attractive, which was not a surprise. He was Dark Jeweled and Glacian. Beauty seemed as natural as breathing. But there was a sharpness to him that she hadn't expected, something that spoke of a male comfortable in a Black Widow’s presence. Like the spider they were named after, they were not known for their gentle bite.

He stood within her sphere, not invading, exactly, but making his presence known and his dedication to his position felt. Kaija couldn't help but smile. “Wolfie, hmmm? I shall see if I can restrain myself and stick to Wolf.”

He held her gaze without flinching. Even the males closest to her occasionally had difficulty with that. Perhaps she had underestimated her new guardian. And here they had just met.

“Yes,” she said, sliding her hand through his arm. “You might as well know where everything is. Most of the first floor is a library. I see students here in my home and find it easiest to have all resource materials close at hand. I do occasionally loan volumes out. The list of names is kept in a log book. If there is anything you would like to read while you are here, please help yourself.”

Kaija stepped forward and he followed in nearly perfect time, so much so she doubted that someone observing them could tell whether she had initiated the step or he had. Another step garnered the same reaction. Well. That was a surprise. It shouldn't have been. Her grief and frustration were clouding her opinions before she'd even given him a chance to make any impression whatsoever. What if he ended up being an asset instead of a hindrance?

If this eventually meant that she would need to tell Mat that he was right, she'd be cross indeed.

They walked through the first sitting room, and then the second. The black silk of her dress slid against her skin as she walked, her heels making a soft click on the dark wooden floors. When they passed through the third and neared the door to her workroom, she paused and turned to face him.

“I realize I have some preconceived notions about you. If you know who my friends are, you likely have some about me as well. And if you are to be here for me, I’d like to be certain it's me you are truly here for. I'll match your offer. You may ask me anything you like. We’ll trade. Truth for truth. Do you agree?” She paused barely a moment before beginning.

“My first question for you is why. Why are you here? You say you can stand in the shadows of my allies without concern. You're not just here because you were told to be or assigned to me. There's something more. I'd like to know what it is.”

“So, Wolf Sigurdson. Why are you here, right now, with me?”

Offline Wulfryck Sigurdson

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #4 on: Jul 11, 19, 09:47:09 PM »
Wolf had learned a long time ago that the Blood were, essentially, predators.  Each and every one of them had the same instincts to a greater or lesser extent, and this was very true of the Black Widow.  It was his instinct to protect a Female, and it was that same instinct that sometimes made men forget that the Female of the species could be every bit as predatory and dangerous as the Male, and in the case of the Black Widow—even more so.  He did not have the luxury of being wary or afraid of them, any woman of any Caste would have tasted that in his psychic scent immediately, so he did what training and application had taught him.  He appealed to their senses; he let his confidence translate into truth, which it was for the most part.  There was no point in telling a beautiful woman that she wasn’t, and everyone appreciated being recognized.  The Rook was simply trained to deliver that message in a particular way.
 
He endured the scrutiny of the dangerous and lovely woman without flinching.  In fact, he held her gaze, and maintained his small knowing smile.  Wolf nodded when she repeated that particular moniker, and theatrically sighed when she repeated it.  ”I promise to reward your restraint if you manage it.”  She finally took his arm and began to show him around.  He was very intrigued by all the books, and that was easy to notice as he tried to read the titles on the shelves they walked past.  ”I have always liked books.  There is something about holding someone else’s ideas and knowledge in one’s hands…”  Wolf smiled, ”I will be sure to maintain the log book.”
 
Wolf moved easily with Kaija, because of a combination of natural grace and training.  More than that, he had many Wards, and was used to letting them take the lead in simple things like dancing or conversation.  He was a bit older than he looked, thanks to a fine family and the luck of the Blood, and that tended to make him a underestimated quantity to new Wards.  It was his job to make Kaija comfortable and safe, but in public, it was also his job to make her look good.  Wolf found that he liked the layout of her home, it had defensible elements which he could not help but consider, but it was also comfortable.  He also enjoyed the scent of the woman beside him, and the whisper of silk as she moved.  He was Black Widow trained to be sensitive to Black Widow stimuli, and he could not help but notice these things.
 
He turned to face her when they stopped, again just within her space, not quite an invasion, but not sign of retreat either.  ”Preconceived notions about any woman are a dangerous thing, Lady.  This is doubly true if the woman is a Black Widow.  Yes, I am aware of our benefactor, and I am aware of your friends, allies, and your reputation.”  He gestured, ”But those are book spines, cover art, the title on the cover.  They’re just hints about the person, and say nothing of what is in the pages.”  Wolf smiled, ”But, I agree to your game.  Truth for Truth, on my honor as a Rook and a Prince.”  Black Widow’s did enjoy their games.
 
”Ambition plays a part in my reasons for being here.  I do not think it is arrogant of me to say that I am a very good Rook.  I’ve had a talent for this line of training since I was a young man, and I enjoy the application of all of my skills.”  Wolf raised his hand and pulled back his sleeves, before he took one of her hands and encouraged to run her fingertips over his wrist.  ”I have imprinted my vocation on my skin, all for the benefit of my Ward—in this case—you.”  He smiled, ”You are not my first Black Widow, Lady, but you are my first Coven Leader.  In the pantheon of all the contracts one could be selected for, being selected for you is not only an honor but something of a boost in the ranks of my Order.”  Wolf turned her hand over, and as he spoke, he enumerated his reasons by caressing the length of each finger slowly, ”And curiosity about your reputation as a teacher, as a Dark Jeweled Black Widow, as a Beauty of the Territory.”    He met her eyes, ”And it was intimated that you were in danger, though not specifically what that danger might be, and it did not matter.  I wanted to see who Lady Kaija was for myself.  I wanted to know her and keep her safe, because that is what I do.”
 
Wolf let her hand go, ”And life is too short for fear.  You need me.  I like being needed, whether that is training or nature, I can’t say.  I can say that I am here for you.  Once assigned, I am dedicated.  I am your shadow.  You cannot dismiss me, though you can give me reasonable commands, but I will be near.  I have to be near.”  He smiled, ”I have pulled your sisters from the Twisted Kingdom, and defended their person from men or women that would have done them harm in a variety of ways.  I have many tools at my disposal that make me far more dangerous and capable than I seem.  I have poison, like you, though it is not my own, and my success has supplied me with webs of all sorts.”  Here he took a step closer, within Kaija’s space, ”I am here for you.  The question is; will you let me be?  Will you let me care for you?”  His voice was trained, that much was clear.  There was no Craft in it, but for the entire discussion it was pitched low, like a lover’s whisper amidst sheets and pillows.

Offline Kaija Aili

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #5 on: Sep 12, 19, 08:32:55 PM »
The Rook told her that he had always liked books. Perhaps Mat had known something of what he was doing when he sent this particular male to her door. Not that she thought of Mat as incompetent or ill equipped to care for her as he had been tasked to. But rather she had become accustomed to the feel of Ebon Gray. Yrian. Aksel. Mat. The three of them were woven through the very fabric of her life. Every aspect influenced and guarded by them for so very long.

But things were different now. The Queen of Glacia was dead. Once upon a time Sif had been her student, but since she had come of age and made her Offering, Sif had been her friend. They had spent long hours in each other’s minds, working out complicated puzzles. Elisif had approached everything differently, her tri-caste nature granted her insight that a Black Widow alone wouldn’t necessarily have. Each had pushed at the other to be better, honing their techniques in the Hourglass’s Craft.

And now she was gone. Kaija wasn’t sure she would ever fully adjust to a life absent of Sif’s grace, but she owed it both herself and the fallen Queen to try.

Kaija found she rather liked having her reputation likened to the writing on the spine of a book or the particular art of the cover. It spoke very little of the knowledge contained within. Perhaps some were more accurate than others, and there were some she was sure that were as dangerous as the book she had protected Lady Kostya Bessmertny from. The light Jeweled Queen had continued on as her student, something she was quite pleased about.

The Black Widow appreciated that Wolf was honest with her when he named ambition as one of the muses calling him to her service. How could one serve the Head of the Coven and not have such thoughts? But he went deeper, offering her the touch of his skin to illustrate his dedication to his art.

At his encouragement, her fingers brushed lightly over his skin. She could feel the raised lines there. Pulling lightly on her Blood Opal, she sent a whisper of Craft across his skin and watched in delight as the markings began to glow softly. It was unlike anything she had ever seen. The tattoos disappeared beneath his sleeves and she couldn’t help but wonder how extensive the patterns were.

When he took her hand, she did not stop him or pull away. Kaija appreciated affection from those she was close to. He wasn’t one of them yet, but if they were to work together appropriately as Black Widow and Rook, she would need to learn to allow him to be. When he mentioned her being in danger, she sighed. ”There is some concern, yes. There always is. But when something like this…” she trailed off.

”The Queen’s death has us all on edge, I believe,” she finished simply. ”And I lack the ability to call for help, should something go wrong. I don’t know if Mat shared with you that I cannot initiate psychic threads. Once open, I can communicate along them just fine. But if I am alone…”

Her voice trailed off. A shadow crossed behind her eyes.  If I am alone, I cannot call for help. Hadn’t that been what she had thought the day Otso had invaded her home and her mind?

Wolf had moved closer to her when he asked his question. He had granted her an answer, and he deserved the same. Standing this close to him, it was hard to ignore the scent of his skin. Sandalwood mixed with that of Prince. She tilted her head back to be able to hold his gaze, her hair falling back over her shoulders and down her back. He was standing close enough to her he would be able to feel the heat of her breath against his skin.

”I don’t know,” she said simply. ”But I am willing to try.”

She slipped away from him then, moving to the last bookshelf and running her fingers along the spines of the books. She stopped when she reached one, reading the title aloud. The Clean House and Other Dilemmas by Carolin Kozak.” Then she pulled the book off the shelf and reached into its place to trigger the locking mechanism that allowed it to swing to the side before replacing the book in its slot. ”Step one of those efforts,” she said, motioning for him to follow her through into the darkness beyond. When she stepped into the room, witchlights began to glow softly throughout the room.

”This is my workroom. Few people have ever been allowed inside. I ask that you not interrupt me while I’m working unless it’s absolutely necessary.” There were frames scattered all through the room. Some held webs that were clearly older, while others held bits of sparkling darkness. One near the entrance had strands stained the color of rust. Another was clearly a work in progress, set at the center of the large work bench. ”Please do not touch any of the webs. It is for your own safety.”

She did not show him the smaller room at the back of the workroom, the one where the scent of Ebon Gray was the strongest, as if it was born there and spread throughout the house from that epicenter. It was there where she and Aksel had spent so long training and working together side by side. The room was spelled over with Ebon Gray and could not be found by any who didn’t know it was there. There were some secrets nothing could cause her to part with.

”My turn.” Her eyes flicked to his wrists. ”How extensive are your tattoos?”


Offline Wulfryck Sigurdson

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #6 on: Sep 17, 19, 03:25:24 PM »
Wulfryck had learned long ago that it did not pay to lie to a Black Widow, especially not one you would be spending any serious amount of time with.  He would surely be examined, his existence would be a question for the Tangled Webs, or they would walk in his dreams and see what could be seen.  The truth would win out in time, and damage whatever trust he had built with his Ward.  Wolf was very clear on all the ways that Kaija could lay him bare, and while none were objectionable, and while he had no real secrets reveal, other than those of other Black Widows, should she choose to do so, she should find only the truth and an honest desire to protect and keep her.  Lies rarely drew these dangerous women to him, though their lies could draw others in, but Wolf had been in the ‘webs’ too long for that.
 
The glow that Kaija caused with a small expression of power made him perfectly aware of the lines upon his skin, and sent currents into his mind.  His blue eyes brightened, and he stood a little straighter before a small shiver shook his shoulders almost imperceptibly.  The sensation was not at all unpleasant, and he smiled into her eyes as she observed the pattern on his skin.  The glow was at his sleeves, but there were hints at his collar as way, though only the glow gave that away, his attire hidden the lines.  She didn’t flinch away from his touch, which was a good start, and she spoke to him as he ran his fingers over hers.  Wolf shook his head, ”You are not alone now.  I will be near most of the time, even if I must be hidden.”  He took her hand again, and established contact along a thread, gently caressing the surface of her mind, as a request to open the line.  *I will work with you.  You may make a web to at least be able to reach out to or call me.  It should be our first task together.*
 
Kaija was beautiful, and unless he were gravely mistaken, she was also feeling a little vulnerable.  Surrounded by the lingering scents of power, with the concern of those powers centered upon her, she still felt vulnerable.  He wondered if she was also lonely, a steady rock amidst a storm of Ebon Gray, weathering all their storm, but every storm blows out and departs.  It is the way of storms.  She was very close to Wolf now, her breath tickling his awareness, but it was too early for boldness, though he wanted to raise his hands, and caress the side of her neck, and cup her face in his hands.  It was a sensation he was sure they would both enjoy, but patience he cautioned himself.  This was a woman in the fullness of her power, the Hourglass mistress, she knew who she was, he was there to keep her safe and care for her, not to teach her or encourage her in any way, unless that encouragement was to live well.
 
He watched what she did with the book and bookshelf, and tilted his head to one side to read the title more clearly.  He marked it for exploration later in his mind.  Wulfryck followed Kaija as she beckoned him onward, and even if she had not said so, he sensed that the was her workroom, her sanctum, quite literally where the Black Widow Craft happened.  The feeling of it moved along his skin, and the small thread he had established, along with the presence of the frames and webs, brought a more subtle glow back to his markings.  It was as if he instinctively anchored himself, and perhaps that was exactly what he did.  ”I would not dare touch your work.  I would be fearful of ruining the webs or the frames.”  It was a true statement, also—that’s how Rooks die.  Stupid Rooks don’t last too terribly long, and rarely slip through the training, but no system is perfect.
 
Wulfryck cast his eyes over the work room, looking for all the exits and entrances, and finding them largely singular, he was satisfied.  Kaija could work, and he could stand nearby, waiting until he was needed, even as he prayed that he was never needed.  The Twisted Kingdom was the one thing that turned his belly over, but facing that fear in the service of a Ward was also something of a thrill.  Wolf smiled liked his diminutive namesake briefly at her question,   ”Very.”  Then he vanished his clothes, all but for a single undergarment, and applied a little Craft to make the lines glow brighter.  They ran all over his body, from her perspective, it ran over his shoulders and likely down his back.  The lines glowed in expanding patterns along his arms, and over his hands almost like fingerless gloves.  They covered and accentuated the musculature of his chest and abdomen, and ran down into his undergarment, where they disappeared and then reappeared over his thighs reaching down to his knees.
 
He slowly turned in place so she could see, and explained along their thread, *I have a particular Gift for the mind.  I was always able to slip past the outer barriers, with these; I can be your anchor.  If you are ever in danger of being lost in the Twisted Kingdom, I can come for you and pull you free.*  Wolf stepped closer to her, as close as he had ever been, understanding the tactile needs of the Black Widow.  She would want to touch the lines, feel their Craft, test that connection, and he would not mind that at all.

Offline Kaija Aili

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #7 on: Sep 17, 19, 05:12:12 PM »
The single word of his reply would have received a confused look had it not been immediately followed by the vanishing of his clothes. The confusion melted into understanding. He had not been being vague, but rather, extremely accurate.

Kaija watched as the intricate patterns glowed softly against his pale skin. The urge to trace them with her fingers was nearly undeniable. He explained how they helped anchor him in the physical world and her fascination grew.

When he stepped closer, she exhaled, having been completely unaware that she had been holding her breath. Her hand raised slowly, clearly offering him the chance to stop her or say no. When he instead encouraged her touch, her fingers began at his shoulder and traced the Blood Opal lines down over his arm. Her other hand raised, settling in the middle of his chest. The lines there curved outwards and down. Following them down caused her hand to brush against his nipple and then trail over his abdomen. When the lines she was following dipped out of site beneath fabric, she withdrew her hands, but she didn’t step back.

Instead she looked up at him, awe in her gaze. *It’s beautiful. And speaks of your dedication to your role and your devotion to the protection of my Coven.* She smiled then, shaking her head slightly. Out loud, she said, ”Your employer is an extremely intelligent man.” Mat knew she had been resistant to the idea. Placing someone before her with this much investment in their duty as a Rook made it essentially impossible for her to dismiss him. It also made her more likely to welcome his company and protection. ”Too smart,” she said, already making mental notes of how her next letter to Mat would read.

”Put your pants back on,” she said turning to walk out of the workroom. *You can leave your shirt off,* she sent along the thread between them he had established.

When he emerged from the workroom, he would find her floating a very large and old volume to a nearby table. She used Craft to turn the pages, careful with the more delicate ones. ”Here,” she said, pointing to a page with similar designs to what was tattooed across Wolf’s skin. ”And here,” she pointed to another before returning to trace the similar patterns where they lay over his skin. ”It’s brilliant. Whose idea was it?”

She moved around behind him to study his back before returning to the book and searching through it again. ”You missed asking me your last question. I’ll allow you the chance to ask two, but this is your only warning.” She looked up at him. ”Going forward, if you miss your chance, it’s gone.”

Offline Wulfryck Sigurdson

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #8 on: Sep 18, 19, 02:12:23 PM »
Wolf focused his senses on Kaija, it was not a difficult thing for him to do.  It was part of his training to anticipate the needs and desires of his Ward, and these early moments were terribly important to their ongoing relationship.  It was more than simply being a guardian or protector; he had to also be willing to risk his sanity on her behalf.  That required a connection, a bond born of mutual interest, a friendship that was more than just employer and employee, especially since she was not the one that held his contract.  He had already anticipated the Black Widow’s tactile need, something that pleased him, and when she did touch him, he closed his eyes and enjoyed the moment.  More than that, he let Kaija see that he enjoyed it, sighing softly as she ran her fingertips over his skin.  The touch to his nipple made his breath catch briefly, and the traitorous bit of flesh tightened on its own.
 
He touched caressed low over his skin, across planes of hard muscle that disappeared into his only remaining garment, and Wulfryck only opened his eyes when she did not continue.  He smiled slightly, and like Kaija, he did not move away either.  ”There’s more yet to see.”  He could have meant the tattoos, or something else altogether.   His smiled widened a touch at her compliment, ”I am glad that you like them, and to be honest, I’m rather fond of them myself.  They have saved lives, and that makes them doubly worthwhile.”  Wolf chuckled as she spoke of his cousin, and he wondered fi he should inform her of that relation, or let her discover it on her own.  There was no conspiracy there.  Mat wanted someone that he could trust, and Wolf was that person, and he was ambitious (or foolish) enough to take on this particular assignment.  He had no regrets thus far.  ”Yes, Prince Saari has always had a good head on his shoulders.  I daresay he challenges the stereotypical view of his Caste.”
 
Smiling, Wolf’s pants reappeared, but he remained barefoot, and curled his toes slightly against the floor.  ”As my Lady wishes.”  He followed her out of the work room, and watched as she brought a large book over to her using Craft to turn the pages.  It was the sort of book that one expected to blow dust off of after years of neglect or perhaps it being forgotten in an ancient tomb in the mountains.  He read the pages as they paused, understanding at her second pause what she was looking up.  ”Yes.  I believe it is an old idea, so I am afraid that is a question for older Rooks than I.  I do know that I am one of the few who have them.”  He tapped a finger against his temple, ”Not everyone likes to dip into the mind of a Black Widow to see their Twisted Kingdom.  I find it fascinating, and under normal circumstances, educational.  That is why the tattoos work for me, when the circumstances are not normal.”
 
Kaija circled around him, and warned him about their game, ”Oh, yes, you had me thoroughly distracted.”  Still, he did not step away to make space between them.  ”I was given to understand that you were somewhat resistant to having a Rook, or at the very least, had not had one before.”  Boldly, he met her eyes, the glow of his tattoos slowing fading away, becoming ink-dark lines, before becoming just hints of silvery lines on his skin.  ”Are you still resistant?”

Offline Kaija Aili

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #9 on: Oct 08, 19, 04:52:24 PM »
Kaija watched as the Craft faded from Wolf's skin. It didn't happen all at once, but slowly the color shifted and changed until it was barely a silver wisp across his skin. She wanted to study the nature of the markings. She wondered if he would be willing to continue to walk around half dressed so she could do so.

The Black Widow held his gaze. He was bold, the silent demand for her attention one that was rather difficult to ignore. She answered him directly, without hesitation. “Yes, I am still resistant to having a Rook. I have known a great deal of strength over the years. The Wards that have been placed around my home are fueled by Ebon Gray Craft. I often have the presence of an Ebon Gray male with me at home, at Court, and out in the city. My physical person is secure and safe.”

She leaned in closer to him, close enough to whisper in his ear. “A Rook means it's not just my physical safety they're concerned with.” She slipped away from him, returning to the book that sat on the table. She placed a Blood Opal shield over it, protecting the manuscript from any of her students who might get curious about it before she had a chance to return to the mysteries of its yellowed pages.

She sighed, her shoulders rising and falling in a gentle arc as she turned back to him. “Yes, I am still resistant because I know what you represent. And…” she stepped forward again, close enough to reach and touch him again. “I am finding, however, that I am not entirely resistant to the idea of you, in specific.”

Her hand raised to take his. “Come. I'll show you your room. We can always continue this later if you'd like some time to get settled. Either way,” she said as she led him from the room and up the stairs, “my next question is this. What do you require of me in order for this partnership to work?” She called it what it was. She was not his employer, she was his charge. They would need to work together if he was to be able to do his job. Kaija suspected that if she interfered with the bonding process between a Rook and his Widow, at least one of the Ebon Gray males she'd mentioned before would appear on her doorstep with something to say about it.

Offline Wulfryck Sigurdson

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #10 on: Oct 09, 19, 08:46:16 AM »
Wulfryck tilted his head slightly as she began her answer, particularly at the moment when she declared that her physical person was safe. That was an assumption, even with an Ebon Gray around. He could conceive of, just in that moment, half a dozen ways to kill his own cousin. Granted, he had the advantage of knowing Mat well, and having a certain amount of knowledge that allowed him to predict his cousin’s responses to certain stimuli with a fair amount of accuracy. Direct confrontation with an Ebon Gray Warlord Prince was an idiot’s game, a dead idiot’s game. Wolf did not have to be direct. There were a number of Webs he could employ to reduce Mat to just weapons and knuckles, still more to sedate him, and several others that could be laid in waiting at his most vulnerable times. A web over the door to his children's’ rooms, so that when he was unaware and going to tuck them in, it burrowed invisibly to his skin. Even for an Ebon Gray, the poison of a Black Widow could not easily be ignored. No, Kaija was nowhere near as safe as she assumed. ”Are you so certain of that? A motivated individual, with the right resources, and the right courage or foolhardiness, could certainly be a problem.”


Kaija leaned closer, and so did he, as if she might whisper a secret to him, perhaps with her hand gently over his heart. ”That’s what a Rook always means.” He watched her secure the book, and wondered how many students had wandered where they shouldn’t have. She locked it away carefully, and he was certain that he certainly couldn’t steal a peek, at least not with her right there looking over his shoulder. Wolf’s attention returned to Kaija as she sighed and shrugged an an easy and elegant way, ”While I am employed by someone else, I am, essentially, yours.” He smiled at her, ”I am glad to hear that, since it is me specifically that will be here with you.” Wolf took a step closer, and this time, he was then one the reached out to touch He did nothing more than tuck an errant strand of golden hair back into place behind her ear, but it was the way he did it. He barely caressed her cheek, his fingertips drawing a soft line against her skin, and then moved to his fingers sliding over the curve of her ear as the errant strand was tucked back into place.


He took her hand, and rather than just clasp it, he twined his fingers with hers, pressing his tattooed palms to her soft skin. ”You know, until this moment I had forgotten about living quarters entirely.” He moved easily with her, letting her lead, almost like a dance, and with enough grace that some might have thought they had done so dozens of times before. ”An open mind, mostly. I need to be close to you. I need to spend a fair amount of time with you, some of that just being in the same room. I need to understand and become intimately familiar with what ‘normal’ means for you, so that when things are anything but, I can tell the difference.” He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, ”And we will have to make a communication web so you can reach me whenever you have a need. Perhaps, one day, you will take me into the Webs with you, but that is for a future date of your choosing.” Wulfryck smiled, ”I can be as visible or invisible as you desire, so long as I am always near enough to do my duty. Without the need of a Bond, you are my Queen.”


Wulfryck continued along with her, and asked, ”What is your favorite meal for breakfast?”

Offline Kaija Aili

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #11 on: Oct 10, 19, 02:29:53 PM »
His words made her smile. He was charming in an unassuming way. Wolf didn’t seem as if he was putting it on for show as much as it was a tool within a Rook’s toolbox that was taken out and used when necessary, like when first meeting a powerful yet rather reluctant Black Widow.

She didn’t know whether to be flattered or annoyed at how well Matias had chosen her new protector.

Even as she thought over his suitability, the Rook reached out to tuck her hair behind her ear. It was a simple movement, albeit a familiar one. But then, within a very short period of time, their bonding would leave few secrets remaining between them. Who worked more closely than a Black Widow and her Rook, or a Healer and her Patriarch? And yet, beyond the familiarity, there was an intimacy present that she had not expected, even with the dance they both knew was occurring. A seduction of not just her body, but of her entire being.

Her eyes slid closed for just a moment as she leaned into the sensation before opening them again and smiling. He didn’t just accept her hand, he entwined his fingers with hers. She noticed then the size of his hands. They were large and warm, able to easily cover and dwarf hers. Her thumb brushed softly against his skin as she led him upstairs to his room. She was nodding along with his words as he outlined his needs of her within their partnership.

He needed her. Her openness and her acceptance, her willingness to let him close to her both physically and within the work of her Craft. When they reached the top of the stairs, she paused for a moment. ”My room is through this door,” she motioned to the left, ”and yours is down here.” She continued to lead them down the hallway before opening a door on the right that led into a large guest room.

”I don’t usually eat breakfast, so… nothing?” she answered with far more sincerity than the words might otherwise imply. She stepped into the room and gestured for him to follow her and explore if he chose. There was a small sofa that she moved to sit down on.

”I would like to be able to offer you the things you are asking for. I understand their necessity. But in order to do so, we have to first discuss why I have never had a Rook before now. So my next question for you is rather more difficult, while not being at all about you. How much do you know, exactly, about Otso Oskari and what happened between us?”

Offline Wulfryck Sigurdson

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #12 on: Oct 16, 19, 02:54:56 PM »
Every assignment was different for Wulfryck. They all shared certain common threads, expectations that were essentially the same from one Black Widow to the next, but he had learned over his years of service that no two women of this particular Caste were the same. Every one of them had a unique perspective on their Craft and their world, and that was what Wolf had to learn to conform to. It was not purely out of a need to get along with his ward, though his methods did not hurt, it was motivated by the very real necessity of knowing the Black Widow. The better that he knew and understood his ward, the more able he would be to protect her from her own mind and Craft. He had to be as familiar as possible, and he had adapted to that necessity. Kaija made this easy for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that she was important to Matias, who was in turn important to him.

He understood the sensuality of even a simple gesture, as well as the intimacy behind the fixing of Kaija’s hair, and the soft caress of her skin. She allowed herself to enjoy the sensation, and he returned the smile she favored him with, before he took her hand in his. He let her lead him, feeling her thumb slowly move over his skin. Wolf nodded when she gestured to her room, and again when she revealed his room. ”Oh, this is plenty of space to enjoy. Thank you.” Wolf entered the room behind her, and looked around briefly, before he sat beside her on the sofa. He never quite let her get too far away, the limit of their joined hands at most, before he was pulled back to her like gravity. ”No breakfast? Well, I will do my best to change that. I can and will cook you meals. You need to maintain your strength, after all.” Wolf smiled at her willingness to at least try to meet him halfway to better be her Rook, he considered her question and shook his head slightly.

”I’ve heard only a bit of that story, and basically let the Prince know that I would like to hear it from you.” His other hand covered hers, while the first still held it. He caressed the back of her hand, and met her eyes. ”I do not have details. I will listen to whatever you can tell me, of course.” Wolf gave her hand a gentle squeeze, ”Whatever you tell me will be held in strictest confidence. Not even my employer can pry such from me, I am your Rook, Lady. No one else’s.” He focused his full regard on her, and she felt it, even as he raised a privacy screen for her words, the tattoos glowed briefly, dully across his skin as he opened himself to what she was about to tell him.

Offline Kaija Aili

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #13 on: Oct 16, 19, 05:26:41 PM »
CW: descriptions of inner barrier assault

 Kaija nodded at his answer, a small smile curving the corners of her lips. She wasn’t sure what felt more endearing: Mat’s willingness to revisit that time in order to keep her safe or Wolf’s insistence that he hear it from the Black Widow himself, when she was ready. It was not something she talked about often, despite how frequently the violation still crossed her thoughts.

Some things were simply better left unvoiced. Except now, it was a necessity. In order to truly function in all capacities as her Rook, Wolf needed to know. That wasn’t a surprise. She had been thinking about this reality since she had first been informed  that the steady pattern of her life she had known before Elisif’s death was once again being disrupted. At least Wolf seemed intent on melding into her life and not forcing her to meld into his.

”This is never easy for me to speak of.” Her voice held a resigned tone, one that echoed the difficult kind of peace she had made with her past. ”Otso…” She paused, then started again. ”Did you know that I trained our late Queen in the ways of the Hourglass?” If he thought she was changing the subject suddenly, he would soon learn the connection.

”She remains, even in death, one of the brightest and most talented students I have ever known.” There was no need to mention that Aksel had surpassed even her wildest dreams. Aksel’s second caste was the secret she kept above all others. Even Otso had been unable to reveal the truth of it.

”Our lessons lasted from her earliest training until she became a full member of the Hourglass in her own right. Even after, we worked together, exploring the depths of our combined skills and the Gray she had been so deservingly blessed with.”

Kaija sighed. Wolf did not seem impatient with her words, her seeming change of subject. Her eyes darted around the room for something to focus on before she pressed on. Muted sunlight streamed through the sheer curtains. She rose from her seat and moved torward the window, leaning against the wall so she could look outside and not have to meet Wolf’s eyes as she spoke.

”Otso was one of Sif’s first males. All males are dedicated to their Queens, but  Otso’s dedication was absolute. He escorted her to every one of her lessons. He spent years sitting in the parlor waiting for her to finish, being the first to feel the weight of her moods depending on how well things went that day. And when it came time for his own daughter to learn our Craft, he asked me to be her tutor.”

It was difficult to rectify the nervous father he had been, dancing with her at an event as her escort, trying to find the way to ask if she would be willing to take on his own child as a pupil, with the man who brutally assaulted her. Their longstanding acquaintance, for certainly it could be called that even if it could not be called a friendship, had only made his betrayal that much more shocking. That much more painful.

”When he arrived that day, he demanded answers of me that I did not have. And when I could not give him what he sought, he took it.” Kaija went very still as she continued to speak, as if maybe, if she were quiet and still enough, the memory could not hurt her as much this time.

”He decimated my inner barriers. He tore through my mind and sought out the most intimate details of my life. This man that I had known for so long, respected and worked alongside with, tore through everything in my mind. And when he didn’t find what he wanted, he just left me there.”

” We were alone in this house. I couldn’t call for help. I’d always been afraid of what would happen to me if I ever needed to and couldn’t reach out along a thread for help. Enduring it was so much worse than even my most vividly fearful imaginings.” It has hurt her, deep within, that Sif had not claimed a harsher price for his violation. But it was all in the past now. Elisif was dead. Otso was dead. And Kaija had to figure out how to continue forward.

”It took both Mat and Yrian to stop Aksel from hunting him down and killing him right then. I barely left my home for the first year after. But with the appointment to Head of the Hourglass, there are tasks I must accomplish, regardless of my preference for them. And with the loss of our Queen, so much seems uncertain. Which, I suppose, is exactly why you are here.”

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Re: The Rook and The Widow
« Reply #14 on: Oct 21, 19, 03:37:36 PM »
Wulfryck nodded slightly at both the tone in the Black Widow’s voice, and the words.  ”Of course it is not.”  He offered by way of support.  No one liked to talk about being victimized.  He was aware that was what happened, and it angered him on some level.  It hit him sideways as both a Rook and a Prince of the Blood.  Protocol was clear about such things, even if the Dark Religion was not, but those were the thoughts of blasphemous dissident, not a Midnight Keeper.  Wulfryck stepped closer, hoping that Kaija would find some comfort in his presence, and his closeness.  He did not touch her with his hands, but instead let his Craft caress her skin, and knead her where she was most tense.  ”I was aware of that, yes.  As a Rook, they keep track of certain things.”

He nodded slightly, not surprised by the last Queen’s abilities.  He chose not to comment on the Queen’s Gray, or the success of her dual training.  He waited, clearly listening, his only movement being that of his Craft, clearly trying to relax her.  She turned from him, pulled her eyes from his face and rose to look out of the window.  Wulfryck did not move to be closer to her, instead he waited where he was, listening.  He had not know about Otso’s daughter.  Kaija came to it very quickly after that, as if she were trying to work out some of it even as she told it to her Rook.  Again, Wulfryck listened, and winced slightly at the description of the violation.

When she was done, Wulfryck did move to stand near to her.  He hesitated for only a moment, but he he reached out and turned her from the window.  He caressed her cheek, and cupped her face in each of his hands.  ”That will not happen again.  We will make a Web that lets you contact me, it would not be the first time that my Ward and I had a such a thing.  You will be able to call for me.”  He caressed her cheeks, and released her face, drawing her easily into a warm embrace.  ”I am sorry you went through such a thing.  Were it not already managed, I would take it upon myself to see the scales balanced.”  He rubbed her back, his Craft continuing its work.  ”Yes, I am here to keep you safe, and to let you perform the duties of your office.  I will protect you as a First Escort does for a Queen, your Rook will do for you.”  Hugging her was easy, he had worked with Black Widows before, and they responded well to touch, typically.

He stepped back then, ”Forgive me if you believe my touch to be forward, but I find it best to let my Black Widow know their touch does not make me cautious, or cause me any fear.  Hugs are easy to give, and you are welcome to mine when they are needed.”  Wulfryck met her eyes, "The Craft is habit.  It helps to keep you calm, and it is instinct for me to try to do just that."