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* Plot Information for Hayll

Hayll has sought a suitable Queen to rule for years, but the one it has chosen has become the pawn of a manipulative Prince plotting genocide. While slaves fight for their lives in the Coliseum, Nero Augustus, Consul of Hayll, plunges the Territory towards war safely behind his puppet Queen.
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Author Topic: Why weep, Briseis?  (Read 255 times)

Description: Michaela, darling!!

Offline Pisces Adelphos

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Why weep, Briseis?
« on: Jan 24, 18, 04:11:45 PM »
Some months ago, Pisces had dropped his darling daughter Virgo off at the Court of Michaela Augustus-Tibault, a Province Queen but--more importantly--the daughter of the Consul of Hayll. His brother, boring Diabas, had gone on and on about how the placing was a coup for the family, but really, Pisces had wanted Virgo to train with Michaela because Michaela threw the best parties. (Aside from his own, of course.) Virgo had her mother's eye for color and, unfortunately, her uncle's sense of taste, which was to say very little, and if she was going to be any manner of success in Hayllian society then she was going to have to be better. Nothing like his precious Aries, who danced like an angel and dressed like an icon.

Oh well, at least Virgo could write. She was a prodigious poet, and that would have to do.

At any rate, Pisces had made a habit (insofar as he ever made habits, being predictable was how one became boring, after all) of meeting up with Michaela every-so-often to check in and see how his precious and beautiful Virgo was doing. Well, there was also the matter of the Queen that Pisces had found, a beautiful Dark-Jeweled foreigner with the sort of strength that could make even the Consul cringe. And he had her all to himself!--For now. Apparently Michaela had an interest in his Queen, the only woman he'd ever loved more than he loved his daughters, the only one who had never bored him the way all of his muses did, eventually. But, well, their relationship was new. He hadn't known her that long. Perhaps he would tire of her in the end after all, but for now...

"Michaela, darling," he said, joining her in the private box. Now that the Coliseum had collapsed like a meringue tart on a summer's day, there were no more gladiatorial amusements. The slaves there were running amuck, but Pisces's plays and concerts had ever been populated by freedmen, and so they continued apace. The orchestra was still warming up; he didn't sit yet, but put one proprietary hand on the gilded edge of the box, standing where he knew the light would best favor his face.

Michaela was a pretty young thing. Most of her peers called her Domina, but Pisces didn't worship the young woman and didn't consider her to have any power over him, as he didn't serve in her Court and mostly considered Protocol a bore. While Diabas might have bowed and scraped to the young woman before Pisces now, Pisces himself had a greater interest in reminding the young Queen that they were friends. With Pisces came ample social capital, a guaranteed spot on any gossip sheet that wanted enough ink to print. "How are you? And how is my precious Virgo? She doesn't write me nearly as often as she should, my rebellious little flower."

Virgo was actually fairly docile, which was another reason he saw more of himself in Aries despite her low Caste and Dark Birthright. Both of them had the drive to shake things up, to make a difference, to cause the Territory and maybe even the world! to sing their praises. But it was Virgo who held the higher caste, and Virgo that he was here to discuss.

Pisces sighed, thinking about it.

Offline Michaela Augustus-Tibault

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Re: Why weep, Briseis?
« Reply #1 on: Jan 25, 18, 04:00:00 AM »
"Don't crowd the man," came Michaela's annoyed voice from beyond her wall of ebon-clad guards. Space in the box came at a premium when one traveled as thick as the posh Queen of Faro. She could be heard beyond them huffing as she pushed herself to stand, still dwarfed by her companions, but the rustle of her skirts indicated movement. Tilting her chin up toward one of the men, she dared him to remain in her line of sight, but of course, he didn't stay. Michaela's gloved hand rose between two giants as they parted and revealed their Queen beyond. Wiggling her fingers, she implored Pisces to take her hand.

"Pisces, you fool. Had you told me that I would have to wait for you I would have brought better entertainment. I've been staring at balding patterns for nearly an hour. You do it on purpose, I'm convinced. You're a terrible friend."

Pouting, she turned her palm up and snapped her fingers into it twice, smoky kohl-rimmed eyes widening as she grew impatient. It was a form of endearment when coming from her. Michaela wasn't the sort to let on that she cared to share the company of many people. Pisces, the old fop, he was always an exception though she wasn't sure whose choice that was.

Bodies shifted around her, pushing out toward the edge of the box. There were six of them within, more without and elsewhere. A Queen in Hayll had many enemies, but that had done little to increase the size of her entourage. When Michaela moved about, she had a tendency to do so in a way that that would intimidate on every level.

She wore a multi-colored gown that flowed about her impossibly long, golden legs as she shifted onto a hip. Her dark hair was parted down the center and pulled tightly back in a simple ponytail that allowed her painted features to take center stage.

Whether he allowed her to lead him or not, Michaela would turn about again, gathering her skirt and taking the seat closest to the corner of the box. Her eyes remained fixed on him as though there was an explanation due or only that she wished him to see the absolute desperation in the eyes of a woman bored to tears.

"I'm terrified," she breathed with an air of dramaticism. "I thought I might sit through one of your performances without a drop of gossip to entertain me." Crossing her legs and smoothing her hands onto a knee, she straightened, as though pleased with herself, but still bitter. "I imagine I may be to blame for that," she went on, addressing his comment about his daughter Virgo, the most fascinating little Queen that Michaela had ever taken in. "I found a delicious young man of some experience to enlighten her. Don't feel too neglected. I admit I've not seen much of her myself ever since."

"And you, Pisces? I think you've never looked more satisfied. What plot have you concocted? New gossip, maybe? Or is it that you know that I'll ask you again to surrender your foreign little bird so that my dear brother might no longer languish in the absence of his Queen?"

Sucking her teeth, Michaela snapped her head away from him as though he didn't deserve her careful appraisal. She had every right to demand it of him, but would never admit to the reasons that she didn't.

Offline Pisces Adelphos

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Re: Why weep, Briseis?
« Reply #2 on: Jan 26, 18, 02:23:04 AM »
Pisces took her hand and kissed her bare fingers, untroubled as ever by the presence of the giant guardians of the Queen of Faro. "A tragedy, to be sure," he drawled, but he supposed it was less fun to mock the elderly without a partner to make the quips really cutting. Honestly, he'd just lost track of time, down in the backstage pit where they kept the costumes. Sometimes that happened to him; the older he got the more time just... fluttered off, like a butterfly, or a safframate-sped heartbeat. He honestly hadn't meant to, but such things were to be forgiven when one had the soul of an artist as Pisces did. Michaela ought to understand, when she lived such a similar glory.

"Ahh, young lust," said Pisces, "I remember such days. All the young beauties pining for my darling straight-laced brother, I'm sure I don't know how Diabas gets anything done in Court." Probably it was boring intrigues and boring bribes and boring spies. Who had the time for that nonsense when there was art to be made, muses to patronize, and people to fuck? Hmm, certainly not Pisces. He followed Michaela, allowing her to take the lead in one of the only traditions of Protocol he had ever bothered to observe. "Is my little rose acquitting herself well? I should hope she's making some of those connections they all say are so important to our young rulers... Beyond the carnal, of course." He smiled at Michaela, the expression lewder than a man asking about his daughter ought to wear.

But then Michaela returned to the boring topic of her dear brother and Pisces's precious foreign sweetmeat. "I'm afraid the answer is still, and always shall be, no," he cried, dropping one hand from where he had been leaning against the side of the box in feigned shock. "Darling Michaela, if I ever surrender to your requests to take my dearest Myung Hye from my finely-manicured hands--" he pronounced the name quite correctly, having practiced it for simply hours "--you must have me examined for compulsion webs. She is my muse, an inspiration, and even if she were not my brave little warrior Aries so adores her, I should be quite unsurprised if she had formed one of those distaff bonds the stories speak of!"

Besides! This back-and-forth, this negotiation of pushes and pulls, was so much fun. Perhaps he would write another play.

"Who do you think would play you in a biography," he wondered, "I've seen a simply stunning actress in Draega not so long ago, my darling, she had just your cheekbones, though there was a curl to her hair that you quite lack."

Offline Michaela Augustus-Tibault

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Re: Why weep, Briseis?
« Reply #3 on: Jan 27, 18, 02:49:57 AM »
"With only Hayll's finest," Michaela trumpeted proudly, speaking still of Pisces' impressionable daughter and the company she kept. Her jaw set sharply for a moment while her eyes darkened and her smile curled deviously. Turning a coy, knowing eye back to Pisces, her shoulders danced. "With all this talk of rebellion, I've found a surprising amount of my invitations unanswered." Feigning shock, she then scoffed haughtily. "It's putting my spies out of work. All that's left are the powerful, the loyal, and the desperate, and the latter are easy enough to spot sucking on some toe or another. With so many finding themselves without sufficient entertainment for their discerning tastes, I'm having trouble keeping up with all of my new friends."

At Pisces' insistent reply, Michaela narrowed her eyes, her lips shifting as her tongue moved over her teeth behind them. He was an obstinant sort. She liked him nonetheless, but she liked plenty of people that she wouldn't mind hurting. For him to keep Myung Hye at all, much less to himself was a sin against the very Darkness that planted such deep bonds between two souls and that had granted her the Caste that declared her fit to rule. Michaela ground her teeth thoughtfully, arching a brow, one eyelid fluttering with irritation as he exclaimed his need for his muse. Whatever use he had for his favorite pet, it was certainly no greater than the bond. Still, being quite a sinner herself, Michaela found herself loath to approach him on that ground. Pisces knew a good many of her transgressions and likely maintained a ranked list.

"Please," Michaela groaned, turning her knees toward the front of the box and tossing her hair over her shoulder. "I'll buy you another."

She didn't expect any change in his demeanor based on the offer, though she didn't understand his infatuation. Myung Hye was an exotic beauty, but far from the only one. Her Caste and particular personality added to that did make her exceedingly rare, but it was worth it to Micheala to reunite her twin brother with the foreign woman who shared his bond.

"It isn't right to keep a Queen from her males, Pisces. Night forbid you bond. I promise I will steal her from you." Capitulating with a useless pout, she was still bitter. In truth, she fantasized about locating Pisces Queen for that exact purpose. Wouldn't that be an interesting gambit? Still, if Fabrizio's Queen had been in Tacea, where might Pisces' be? The odds irritated her.

"If I lack anything, it's loyal friends," the Queen retorted, not thrilled with being rebuffed so quickly and easily. If Pisces didn't appreciate that Michaela didn't move against him for his impertinence, he was a fool. She found herself wishing he would at least acknowledge her graciousness thus far. He was lucky he was so much fun.

"A black panther in heat, I suppose," she grumped, tossing her arms together over her chest, but it only took a moment before the visual invaded her thoughts and she couldn't help but spit a reluctant laugh, and then another given more freely. One hand flashed to swat him on the arm as she attempted to maintain the severity of her pout. "Damn you, Pisces. Do something to make up for displeasing me so. It's not right and you know it."

Offline Pisces Adelphos

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Re: Why weep, Briseis?
« Reply #4 on: Jan 31, 18, 06:42:34 PM »
Pisces sighed. His awareness of the Rebellion hovered like a persistent stomachache, or maybe a hangover, but he had his own little friend in his back pocket for that. In the end, he was unconcerned. His slaves were well-treated; he rarely beat them and he almost never demanded that they perform for the crowd. Why bother? Slaves weren't beautiful like artists, dancers, poets. He wouldn't waste his time abusing them, and he made damn sure that his daughters didn't either. What Diabas did with his own people was his own problem. Pisces didn't see any reason to fear his slaves.

But the thought of giving Myung Hye over to someone else, the suggestion that what Myung Hye Korro was to him could be replaced by a slave of all things, infuriated him. He collared his Queen to protect her; while many of his slaves were little more than furniture to him, his Queen was kept close, cosseted, coddled, and treated like the gift from the starry Mother that she was. A foreign Queen from no known family, bearing polluted short-lived swill in her veins and Dhemlanese besides, would be met with disdain in the society she deserved to walk in. A member of the household of the Adelphos, visibly under his protection, could not be treated like anything less than the miracle she was. He had gone millennia without a Queen.

How dare Michaela insinuate that she was replaceable!

"Michaela," he began. The temperature hadn't dropped, but his smile was quite gone. "My darling." Another pause. "I have bonded," he said, his words much more level now: a sign that had even his own attendants cringing away from the focus of his irritation. "I have bonded to Lady Korro, and you keep trying to steal her away. I keep her to myself because she is mine. The Night Mother chose her for me. And I am getting very tired of your constant whingeing that your brother's heart is broken when you never turn aside a chance to attempt to shatter mine."

Assuredly, Fabrizio was a Dark-Jeweled Warlord Prince and so many stories had been told of tragedy when they were turned aside from their women, whichever women those might be. Pisces himself flirted with Darkness, but he had no illusions that he would win against a Warlord Prince in his prime. All the better, then, that compared to Pisces Adelphos Fabrizio Augustus was an infant still wetting his nappies, that Pisces Adelphos had the sort of social power that would crush a political dynasty if one wasn't careful.

He looked down at the dancers on stage below him, though in his current state of displeasure he saw only the technical flaws of their performance. The prima ballerina had quite lost her allure. Each step that fell even the slightest bit out place spiked Pisces a little closer towards hot anger. Even as he began to write his diatribe, he knew that on an ordinary day he would have brushed this off as one of the miraculous little things that made art so specific, so special. Not one person who came to this performance today would have the same experience as the one who came tomorrow.

But Michaela dared.

"I am loyal," he said, "as loyal as you are to me. Why should I lie and pretend that I am that which I am not? Dearest Michaela, I am fickle, and I am old, and having my Queen by my side brings me comfort. Should Lady Korro accept your brother's claim over mine, then I shall consider releasing her into your tender care. Until that day, I shall keep her to myself--where she has chosen to be!"

Offline Michaela Augustus-Tibault

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Re: Why weep, Briseis?
« Reply #5 on: Jan 31, 18, 07:40:36 PM »
Michaela was hardly stalled by Pisces' tone. He added dramatic inflection to his words so often that she'd learned not to place any weight on what he said simply based on his manner alone. Of course, she noticed that the humor drained from him, but that too could have been expected for as often as she'd brought up the topic after being summarily dismissed previously. He probably thought it rather grasping for her to keep on asking after being denied, but Michaela had no shame whatsoever in continuing the hunt for what she wanted. Personally, she didn't care much for the pretty little bird. She was lovely and exotic and yes, this was quite intriguing, but her own interest in the girl was decidedly less than the interest that either of the two men in question had showed. She had no interest in stepping into that fight and trying to secure ownership of the beautiful Tacean. Her purpose was to aid her brother, to soothe his anxiety over their separation and worries about what Pisces might be subjecting her to. Fabrizio had a lot less faith in Pisces than Michaela did, and Michaela didn't have all that much herself, at least not in this matter.

Smirking when Pisces called her darling again, she picked at her teeth idly with a black painted fingernail, but her unmoved expression changed quickly with what he said next. "I don't believe you," she spat quickly, instinctively. Squaring her shoulders, her eyes accused him as well while her lips flattened into a scrutinizing frown. Would he lie to her? Yes. But was he? "Pisces Adelphos," she uttered, using his name as an accusation that wasn't followed by any actual condemnation.

Turning to face him more fully, Michaela jabbed one of those sharp fingernails into his arm, twisting it against the fabric of his fancy coat. "And what would be your reason for keeping this from me? You..." she trailed off, eyes dancing in the distance for a moment as she considered the implications. "You?" Frowning more fully now, she dropped her finger so that she could cross her arms stubbornly over her chest. If it was true, it simply wasn't fair. The only quick solution to the problem was to kill one of the two men. In that case, which one did she like better? The one who brought her the best gossip, or the one who shared their mother's womb with her? Loyalty was a fickle bitch. At least Fabrizio hadn't withheld the truth from her!

"You purposefully didn't tell me!" she accused, a hiss in her voice. "Saving your best argument for what? Just so you could titter while I fell all over myself trying to come up with a way to convince you to part with her?" Blinking, she shook her head. "No, I don't believe it." But then, she bit her lip and sunk into thought again. Maybe he'd never meant to tell her at all, but why? Oh he really was a terrible friend. If he was bonded to Myung Hye, he had just as much right to her as Fabrizio. What was the standard for such issues? This was surely not the first time in history that two men had bonded the same Queen without sharing the same space. What? Perhaps Pisces could build an apartment for Fabrizio? Really, that would create likely as many problems as it solved. Frustrated and aghast, Michaela slumped back into her chair and pouted. "A very terrible friend," she muttered quietly, still lost in thought.

Pisces seemed easily able to avoid the gravity of the conversation which only furthered her irritation. How he could focus on the goings on below while they were discussing the lives of three individuals, one of which was his, was beyond her. But alas, he had the high ground in the matter as he was the one who currently possessed the Tacean Queen, and anyone who wanted things to be otherwise would probably need to literally fight to attain her. This changed everything. How would she tell her dear brother that he couldn't have what Mother Night had ordained for him? She might as well put the knife in his back herself.

Hardly paying attention to what Pisces added to the conversation, Michaela had slouched far enough that she was able to lift a leg and hook the heel of her shoe on the edge of the balcony railing. In full pout, she seemed resigned to 'enjoy' the show this way, oblivious to the art that unfolded below. Still, something in his wording drew her back to the present moment. What was it that he'd said? 'Should Lady Korro accept your brother's claim over mine...' What if she did? Michaela visibly perked, swiveling her dark eyes back to Pisces. What if she was made to? Could she be made to? Through force or subterfuge? Anything? He would honor that, wouldn't he? He seemed genuine enough.

Tentatively, Michaela narrowed her eyes, chewing the inside of her cheek while she studied him. She folded her hands in her lap to prevent them from fidgeting too much and giving away her scheming thoughts as though Pisces wouldn't see right through her. "Do you know that she prefers your claim, dear friend?" she asked, her tone too sweet, and not matching the coy look on her perfectly painted face.