Blood Rites

Terreille => Hayll => Topic started by: Jupiter Cinerus on Jun 30, 19, 09:36:18 PM

Title: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Jupiter Cinerus on Jun 30, 19, 09:36:18 PM
Winter 193 - Draega Territory Palace

The day began like any other.

Jupiter Cinerus woke, bathed, and dressed in a tailored suit befitting an appearance at Court. Then he sat down at the large hardwood desk, his father’s old desk, and took out his quill and paper. He wrote. He misspelled her name on the first draft, so he tossed it in his trash can and started again. He made it nearly through the first page of the second draft before stopping to read it. It was too needy, too hurt to convey the message that he wanted to get across to her. So he tossed it into the trash and leaned back in his chair.

He checked the time. Two hours left before he saw her. His heart hammered at the mere idea, but each beat was punctuated with pain.


He closed his eyes, rubbing his hand over his face. The anger, the ever-present anger inside of him threaten to burst free. People told him to be patient. Other people told him to run as fast and as far as he could before she took him down with her. Once voice, an old voice, implored him not to give up so easily. What none of them knew was that this wasn’t easy. This was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life. He hated it. But the longer he waited, the worse things became.

It didn’t have to be forever, reasoned. He could take some time for himself and then find another way to serve. He could find something more in-line and befitting her needs...and his own. First, he’d return home to Faro and sort out his mind. Some work on the family estate would help him clear his mind and burn away the excess energy. Caelissine would join him, if he asked. Their last outing had ended with having to beat a bunch of men completely senseless, so Jupiter thought that this would be a welcome change of pace. Not to mention that he could ensure that the estate was protected from the rebels in the south.

He dipped the quill in the ink and started writing once more. This time, the words came freely.

When it was done, he used a bit Craft to dry the ink before folding the letter. Then he folded it, placed it in an envelope, and tucked that envelope into the breast pocket of his coat. He checked the time again and found that he had half-hour before he needed to arrive at the palace. Standing, he prayed to Mother Night and the Darkness for resilience and then left his town house to head to Court.

At the palace, Jupiter greeted the members of the Circles with whom he was familiar. He headed to his office to check on the message he received, creating a neat pile at the center of the desk. He didn’t know if he’d be back to read them, but there was always hope. The letter felt like an anvil in his pocket, heavier than the duty that kept him bound to this place. Leaving his office, he headed toward the suites that Sabine kept at the palace to make his weekly reports and deliver pertinent letters or reports that he felt she needed to see.

Just another hour and it would all be done.
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Sabine Vincentius on Jun 30, 19, 09:39:50 PM
Even before she had received word that Jupiter had returned to Draega, Sabine had left instructions with the Guards to be notified as soon as he arrived at the Palace. It didn’t reveal anything new to Nero. He had already seen within her mind. She had mangled her attempt to pass off Jupiter’s image as that of just another guard, but he had seen through her facade. Her bonded mattered to her, which made them a liability, tools to be used against the hard edges of her heart.

Aurelius being held captive wasn’t new. Aurelius being held separate from Sabine was. Nero controlled her access to him. It was wretched, being separated from the man who had provided for her needs since she was only 13 years old. The Purple Dusk Queen was used to more distance in her relationship with Jupiter, in large part due to her efforts to keep him out of Nero’s sight and therefore out of his mind. She had thought it would be a minor thing for him to be away, but his absence had been more difficult on her than she had anticipated.

When she received word that he had returned to Draega, something cold and hard softened within her chest. The last few days had felt a bit easier, just knowing he was once again in the same city that she was and soon she would see him again. She knew what time he would arrive to see her. And yet all day she waited to hear from the guards that he had actually arrived. She was short tempered, irritable and cruel to the servants. She needed to be careful. Aurelius had never believed the reports of her sharper nature, but Nero wouldn’t doubt for a second. He had been within her mind. Whether she wanted him to or not, he knew her.

She withdrew to her suite and sat down to practice at her piano. The music soothed her wandering mind and charred soul. Soon everything faded away. It was just her and her piano. She watched her Rose Jewel sparkle against her finger as she moved her hands quickly over the keys. She could feel the Purple Dusk at her neck glow warmly. Not the feel of it being drained, which was what she was so accustomed to. Rather it was like the music resonated within her Jewels just as it resonated within her.

Finally, she looked up. Jupiter stood in the doorway, watching her. For a moment, there was naked relief clear on her face. Her eyes lit up at the sight of him. Then she remembered where they were, and who was always listening. She forced her emotional masks back into place, her Jewels surging with the effort. Standing from the bench, she came around the piano and stopped. She couldn’t take another step. If she did, she would run to him and throw herself in his arms and beg him to never let go.

”Jupiter,” she said softly, her voice just loud enough to span the space between them.
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Jupiter Cinerus on Jun 30, 19, 09:43:12 PM
Drawing closer to Sabine’s suite, Jupiter heard the soft melody of the piano that she loved to play. She had true talent, the kind that would have won acclaim and praise if she shared it with the world. She’d never played for him before, but there were times when she played while he was on shift and he imagined that his Queen was playing for him and him alone. Jupiter’s footsteps slowed.

He listened to her play, wondering if Aurelius was in the room with her now. He fought down the spike of irritation at the idea that the older man would be in there with Sabine. Jupiter rarely, if ever, received any time alone with Sabine. He was always sharing her with one person or another because “a Queen’s duty to her realm never sleeps” Aurelius had once said to him in that tone he used when he thought Jupiter was being a possessive, needy male. Jupiter never made a fuss about it. He merely smiled and moved on with his day.

Pulling her guardian’s lungs out through his nostrils wouldn’t earn him Sabine’s favor.

The door to the suite was open, giving Jupiter an unobstructed view of Sabine in the thrall of the music. She looked so young, so pretty just playing her piano and letting the music carry her away. She was free and weightless, in her element. It was the first time that he’d ever seen her this way and the Warlord Prince was enchanted by his Queen. He couldn’t look away. He wanted to sit closer to her, sit beside her and let her lean against him while she played. He would listen as long as she allowed it before they had to discuss other, less happy subjects.

She looked up and their eyes met. For a moment, Jupiter was transported back to that day in the street when Mother Night had first shown him the woman who held his leash. She’d stopped her procession and held out her hand to him. Jupiter didn’t care that they were people watching. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, but she had eyes only for him. His eyes his mind, and his heart were all hers. He’d fallen to his knees and wrapped his arms around her waist, hugging her close. Her guards wanted to kill him but he would have died happy to know that he’d found her.

Don’t you dare touch him. He’s mine.

That was the first time, and the last, he’d heard those words from her lips.

The look in her eyes reminded him that day. She moved around the piano and stood there but did not come closer. Was that joy or hope he felt across their bond? He couldn’t tell. He reached for that feeling, attempting to pull it close and examine it as though it would bring her along and deliver her body into his arms.

Instead, Sabine’s visage became distant and cool, a door slamming shut before he could walk through it.


The way she said his name echoed across the space between them and pushed deep into his soul. He took a deep breath, stood up straighter and rolled his shoulders back. He clasped his hands in front of him and watched her closer.

My lady, I’ve returned from my hiatus. I’d like to speak to you about a few things, if you’ll indulge me.
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Sabine Vincentius on Aug 07, 19, 08:32:10 PM
She watched as her voice reached him. It was almost like she could see it ripple through his body as he adjusted his posture. Sabine pulled harder on her Jewels. Seeing him again was proving more challenging than she had anticipated.

She stepped forward, extending her hands palm down and waited for him to meet her and offer his hands beneath hers. When he touched her, there was a response she could not hide from their bond no matter how hard she tried. A sense of calm. Of belonging. Of peace.

“Welcome home, Prince.”

There were other things she wanted to say. You've been gone. Tell me you’re safe and whole. Tell me that your thoughts drifted to me as mine did to you. “Your absence was noticed.”  Her eyes held his. They were a pale amber, a shade too light to be gold. The Queen’s fingers moved up his palms to brush against the soft skin on the inside of his wrists. As soon as she was able, her fingers spread, thumb and pinky clasping to his wrists. To an outside observer, there was merely the formal greeting of Warlord Prince and Queen. But for a moment, she allowed herself the smallest indulgence of his skin against hers. Of touch that was chosen and not forced upon her, Aurelius’s next breath secured with each fresh act of obeisance.

If he mirrored her movement, he would feel the narrow span of her wrists within his fingers. Pulling on her Jewels ruthlessly had left her reserves low and her frame showed her body's exhaustion. Her fingers slipped from his wrists, returning to her sides. She fought the urge to curl them into small fists. Useless against any enemy, and doubly so against one who meant her no harm, and yet stood so clearly in harm's way.

”Come,”  she said, turning her back to him as she moved to a gathering of couches near the room’s large windows. Sitting down, she motioned for him to do the same. There was a gentleness to the way she held herself and moved, almost like the mere air pained her skin.

”I'll indulge your discussion if you'll first indulge mine. Tell me, Jupiter. Are you well?”
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Jupiter Cinerus on Aug 07, 19, 11:26:49 PM
How could someone so perfect be such a mystery?

Jupiter stepped forward to take her hands, offering Sabine her tribute as both his Queen and the Queen of Hayll. She was always the Queen of Hayll to him. He did not know who she would be if she did not have that power attached to her name. Jupiter didn’t know who he would be if she wasn’t the Queen of Hayll. He didn’t care if she was the Queen of Hayll or the the ruler of nothing at all. He would have followed her into obscurity as easily as he’d followed her onto the grand stage of Terreille’s notoriety. 

She welcomed him home, her fingers brushing against the skin of his wrist. He wanted to pull her close, hug her tiny body against his and allow her to breathe him in just as he wanted to breathe her in. He mirrored her movements for as long as she allowed it, fighting the urge to take more than she gave to him. For whatever reason, she’d never been comfortable with granting him anything more than the barest slivers of her attention and care. He wondered, at times, if he’d done something or shown her something that made her fear his reaction to her.

Then he realized that Sabine did not need anything from him except his service. He tried to live with that.

He was still working on it.

Your absence was noted.

Well, there was that, at least.

He released her hands and she bid him to join her on the couch near the room’s windows. He unbuttoned the top button of his coat and sat down. His eyes looked out over Draega and Jupiter sighed. He loved the views of the city, but he couldn’t enjoy them with the one woman that he thought would appreciate them as much as he. He wanted her to rule well. He needed her to be happy with him. But she seemed merely content to see that he wasn’t dead.

The way she moved sparked worry inside of him. Was she hurt? Or did she always move that way and he was merely being overprotective?

”Tell me, Jupiter. Are you well?”

No, Sabine, I’m not well. I want my Queen to do more for me than notice my absence. I want you to throw yourself into my arms and tell me to do something. Anything. Hug you. Choke you. Fuck you until you beg me to stop.

I’m okay. I left to address a family matter, as you know. I did so but things were difficult for a time. I’ve been recovering from that.” he said, offering her a small, sad smile. How did he tell her that a trio of Black Widows entered his mind and viewed his darkest, most painful secrets? That they taunted him over his inability to connect to her, his latent desire for a woman who held no warm feelings for him? Sabine would likely laugh him out of the room.

Or worse, she’d just sit there with that same indecipherable expression on her face and note his discomfort. She’d take note of his need but do nothing to assuage it. Jupiter forced himself to breathe and think. Caelissine told him to be gentle with her. She had a difficult life as well, despite her power. She was bound by the needs of Hayll, rather than just his own. She had to put Hayll above everything, and everyone, else.

But I’m okay now. I’ve returned to address my duties and my place here at the Court.

He wanted to reach out and take her hand, but decided against it. He didn’t want to spook her or upset her.

What about you, my lady? Are you well?
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Sabine Vincentius on Aug 08, 19, 02:49:11 AM
If she asked one of her males to kill another, would he?

She had thought of doing it herself more than once. If she killed Aurelius, if she carved out her heart and gave it to Nero along with the body she had already sacrificed to his twisted desires, she could be free of all of this. With no one to hold over her, Nero could not force her to be the Queen he chose. He might kill her, but wasn't the life she was living a kind of death? Slow and cloying, rotting away the artfully constructed masks she had spent decades perfecting? Even her thoughts were no longer her own.

But she knew the falsehood even if she chose not to see it, awareness dipping only deep enough to brush the surface but never reach the process of examination. She could choose not to see, but the bile rising at the back of her throat could not remove the bitter taste that engulfed her tongue, only make it worse.

"I am well," she lied. It was the same lie she always told Jupiter when he asked after her well being. Jupiter. His name echoed through her mind. For the first time, it occurred to her to wonder if hers ever whispered through his.

Sabine had known him from the first feel of their bond closing around her, causing her to claw at her skin in an effort to breathe. It was not the reaction he wanted, but it was the only one she had to offer. She had trapped him in her ever flickering spark, flaring so near the end of its life it could barely be seen at times and yet it refused to burn out and release him.

Being close to her put his life at risk. She had put as much distance between them to not make him the next thing Nero latched onto in order to continue this ruse. But the idea of a collar like that Aurelius wore going around Jupiter’s neck made her physically ill. She had asked after him, discreetly, not that he knew that, not that he would believe it if someone told him. Despite their distance, she did feel the familiar wash of Green power whenever he entered a room. It was comforting, even if it was an illusion of Aurelius that she found comfort in.

What if she allowed it to be more? What if she could grant comfort as well as claim it in turn?

She was more pale than usual today. She could see it in the way her Rose Jewel stood out against her skin. It shone softly in its setting on her index finger as she slowly reached for his hand. Would he accept the offer of her Touch? Or even just her touch? If he didn't, his rejection was the Price of his life, and she would accept it with the same grace she did each new mantle that was lain across her shoulders.

Which was to say, with no grace at all.

Seeking his gaze, she felt the pull of their bond yet again. Instead of the distant cold he was so often met with, she seemed almost… sad? Perhaps a sadness like a weakly brewed tea. His life would have been better if he had never met her, or perhaps if the Darkness had not chosen such a painful bond for him as a Queen with no soul. It had fled her body when her mother had been turned hollow in her arms, and refused to return with the confirmation of her father’s death. She didn’t remember, really, what it was like before, but she knew that she had loved her mother, and she knew that she had laughed.

Those memories made her weak. And that weakness drove her to ask something of Jupiter she never had, and had promised herself she never would.

"Jupiter," she began, the music of his name flowing from his Queen's tongue, "would you consider spending more time here at Court? With... with me." The last syllable did not flow as easily as the rest, catching in her throat like a crust of dry bread. There would be no water to wash it down or soften the sharp edges. He could accept, or leave her to choke on the untended tendrils of their bond.
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Jupiter Cinerus on Aug 13, 19, 10:41:49 PM
I am well.

She was always well. Perhaps another male would have taken those three words at face value and left it alone. Perhaps, it he was bound to another Queen, Jupiter would have left it alone. The distance between himself and Sabine had certainly warranted it. She’d never had much use for him outside of the fulfillment of his duties. It should have been an easy thing to take her at her word, produce the letter, and explain why he was leaving her. The reasons were clear and simple, in his mind.

As simple as knowing that the Darkness had made her for him. She’d clawed at her skin when the bond closed around her heart and demanded that she allow him in. She couldn’t breathe or think. Whereas the bond between them was a comfort for him in those first days, proof that Mother Night hadn’t forsaken him by allowing him to remain without the woman who completed him, Sabine saw it as a collar or a noose meant to restrict her freedom rather than set her free.

Jupiter’s right hand raised, moving for the inside of his coat. The letter rested in the pocket that lay over his heart. One motion and he’d have it in hand, ready to hand over. One movement and this sad little dance would end with far more grace than it began.

Then Sabine touched his hand and Jupiter froze. When was the last time she’d reached for him of her own accord?

His eyes found hers and he saw it at the same time that he felt it, a sadness that rested on the air between them like a light perfume, the sillage worn after several hours of exposure. Jupiter held her gaze as though she was some kind of woodland creature. Too quick or sharp a movement and she’d bound off into the brush, never to be seen again. Or worse, she’d lock herself behind that impenetrable, damnable mask of coldness and he’d never see her again.

Had he not been watching her lips move, had he not felt her skin against his, Jupiter wouldn’t have believed that she’d asked the next question that came from her mouth.

She wanted him to stay here...with her. She’d just asked him to stay here. Of all the days she could ask him to stay at Court with her, she picked the day that he’d chosen to leave her to her shiny baubles and the men she chose to fill her life with. He should have been happier. He should have overjoyed.

Instead, he was wary.

In what capacity would you have me serve, my lady?” he asked, starting with the most neutral question he could find. His mind was still trying to catch up to all that had happened. He’d come here to leave and she was asking him to stay.

What was he missing?
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Sabine Vincentius on Aug 14, 19, 05:02:50 AM
Jupiter's Queen's touch was feather light as it brushed against his hand. Her Rose Jewel shimmered, as if even her Craft responded to the touch of flesh to flesh with her bonded male. The corners of her lips curved slightly, but it wasn't a happy smile. Sabine drew small sigils of protection over Jupiter's skin again and again, a compulsion she couldn't stop.

"Aurelius has been..." stolen from me. taken. hurt. "called away and will be unable to attend to his duties as First Escort for some time." She grew quiet at these words, the request within unspoken. It would not be enough. She had not allowed trust to build between them in the years since their bonding. She could not simply offer and expect him to infer her intent. It would need to be said, plainly, and without room for question.

It would need to be stated as openly as possible. Then of course it would hurt all the more when the rejection inevitably came.

"Nero will be attending to the more social items on my calendar. He feels we need to be seen together more." Would he believe the lie? Her fingers lifted from his hand for a moment as a silent shiver chased down her spine. Nero's threats were all too real. Everything from the absence of her mentor to the still healing bruises that covered her body spoke to the truth of those threats.  She couldn't tell him more than she already had. Even acknowledging Aurelius' absence could be enough to earn her Nero's ire.

"But as for my personal day to day needs, I would like you to be the one to fill the role of First Escort in Aurelius' absence." How long would that absence be? Already Sabine questioned if it would ever end. If Aurelius continued to be the bit and bridle that held the Queen to yield, would she grow to resent the bond that held them both captive in perpetual pain and heartache, nothing more than pawns in Nero's grand game?

"Above all else, you must survive." How many times had he whispered those words to her? She had already sought her death once at the hands of the Black. If Mother Night did not see her best loved son as fit envoy to serve her will, then Sabine would not disobey her mentor's command. Even if that meant yielding to Nero.

Even if that meant putting Jupiter directly in his path.

Her hand grasped his. The words were on the tip of her tongue. Flee. Flee and never return. If she were a stronger Queen, she would have said them. But her bones felt hollow and her heart beating in her chest was strong enough to make her ache. She had no strong Queen to offer him. She had only herself.

And so instead of telling him to leave and not seek her again, instead of sparing him the Hellfire that was inevitably to come, she sealed her fate with four simple words. Sabine raised her muddied gold eyes to his and said simply, "Jupiter, I need you."

And then, as if she had not already damned them both, she flooded him with the feel of her Touch.
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Jupiter Cinerus on Sep 17, 19, 10:58:26 PM
Sabine’s tenderness surprised him as she drew invisible sigils on his skin. He couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so openly affectionate to him. They were in the privacy of her chambers, but it was still more than she’d shown him in nearly their entire relationship. Six years of distance was hard to reconcile with the woman who stood across from him now. He hated being unable to simply accept his Queen’s attention, even as his mind wondered when she would draw back into the cold, unreachable woman who still drew him to her with the simplest crook of her finger.

The news about Aurelius made his shoulders tense beneath his suit. Aurelius and Jupiter were never close, owing to the fact that Jupier saw Aurelius is just another person using Sabine for his own benefit. He raised her, yes. He cared for her, maybe. But Aurelius was Sabine’s First Escort and somehow she seemed even more lonely and just alone to Jupiter. It sat wrong with the Green Warlord Prince and he’d avoided bringing it up only to avoid causing Sabine any further distress. But now Aurelius was leaving and Nero was trying to fill her schedule with pointless social garbage and glad handing, the very thing that were forcing Jupiter to make his decision to go away rather than bear his irritation in silence.

It felt like there was more she wanted to say beneath the surface of her words, but Jupiter couldn’t figure it out.  Maybe it didn’t matter anymore. He reached into his coat, moving to draw out the letter.

"But as for my personal day to day needs, I would like you to be the one to fill the role of First Escort in Aurelius' absence.

He froze again, confusion etched on his face.

Me?” he asked, unsure that he’d heard her correctly.

The world shifted and fell apart beneath him, reforming around Sabine as it had the first time. Caelissine told him to be kinder to Sabine, to be more understanding of her plight. She was asking him--him--to stand by her now that Aurelius was gone. She took his hand, reinforcing her intent. She needed him to help her through this time. Jupiter had come here to leave her service and find his own place in the world. The past year had its share of ups and downs that he was navigating. His relationship with Sabine had never been as close as he wanted and now she was asking him to be closer to her than ever.

She said she needed him. No matter his original intent in coming here, he couldn’t have denied her if he wanted to.

He pulled Sabine into his arms and held her close.

Your will is my life, Sabine. I’ll do it.” he whispered against her hair.

He would find a way to make his world work around it.
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Sabine Vincentius on Oct 25, 19, 03:35:51 PM
Jupiter's words sealed his fate.

"Your will is my life."

If only he understood how accurate those words were. Not mere Protocol, or words crafted by a male who understood the swell of need and pride that came with submitting to their Queen. Repeated over and over through the centuries to express what couldn't easily be expressed. It was an oath, an offering of flesh and blood and pain. To stand between a Queen and harm.

If Jupiter attempted to stand between her and Nero, that offer of sacrifice could quickly become a reality.

The muscles of her chest tightened when he pulled her into his arms. He was hers. Every inch of her body understood that, even as her mind struggled with the reality of what she drew him into. Aurelius knew from the start. He was by her side the day Nero and his men slaughtered her people and seized control of Hayll from her. He had made the choice.

But Jupiter... He strode into danger blindly, unaware of the power that held Sabine captive to Nero's dark demands. She could feel the pieces of her floating away with each encounter. What little was left of her behind the masks was disintegrating. A Queen of ash and leaves, with nothing left after a storm to remember she had ever been.

Slowly, as if she might deliquesce in his arms, Sabine returned the embrace. Her hands, barely more than bone covered by skin, slid around him. Tentative at first, she found that here in Jupiter's arms, she could breathe again. Something unhinged, some latch came undone, and the tension in her muscles began to fade. The Rose Jewel in her ring flared to life as she allowed her Touch to gain strength again and flow through him. As she did, it was like the feeling of ease increased for her as well.

Here is his arms, a moment of truth fell from her lips. "I hate the idea of putting you in danger." 
Title: Re: don't mean to leave you with a trivial excuse
Post by: Jupiter Cinerus on Nov 04, 19, 11:26:39 PM
Jupiter didn’t consider himself in any danger by serving his Queen. On the contrary, he considered anyone fool enough to act against her in danger. Slaying them quickly would be the kindest thing he could do to them, depending upon their transgression. Sabine hugged him like never before. Was it wrong that such affection from his Queen unsettled him? He enjoyed every second of having her in his arms, but after six years of distance, the permitted closeness made Jupiter wonder what had changed between them. He hated himself for thinking it. Accept that she is granting you what you desire, and leave it at that.

She was so thin. He worried that he might shatter her if he held on too tight, but he couldn’t bring himself to just let her go.

My lady, I’m a Warlord Prince. Danger will always find me. I’d rather meet it head on than attempt to hide from it.” he said, drawing back to look at her. He held her hands in his own, stroking her fingers with his own. Her Touch flowed through him, quieting those cruel voices that said she was using him, that it was only a matter of time before she pushed him away again. The peace she granted him consumed him. Jupiter worried that he would be too much for her or not enough. Here and now, he did not worry. He was enough.

She was enough.

I would rather meet it standing between you and your enemies than anywhere else.” Jupiter said, lifting her hands up to gently kiss her knuckles.

Lady Sabine...if I’m to do my job properly as your First Escort until Aurelius returns, then I think we need to have a very open and honest discussion about what you require from me and what I need from you. We’ve spent some time at a distance before now. I don’t want to cause you discomfort or upset.” Jupiter said. He wanted to avoid it for himself as well, but he didn’t voice that concern. He wanted her to feel safe with him.

Shall we take meals together? If so, which ones? And what recreational things can we do together that will ease the burdens of ruling for you?” he asked.