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* Plot Information for Little Terreille

A naive Black Jeweled witch has destroyed the Territory Court. From its ashes a new court is being constructed, one run by a manipulative killer. As the blood runs in the streets of Goth from open gang warfare, the Steward of Little Terreille begins a gambit to rebuild the Territory from the ground up and challenge the Star of Kaeleer.
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Author Topic: Mining for small favors and big rewards  (Read 1372 times)

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Offline Isbeil Balton

  • Character Account
    • ss2opal
    • queen
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      Balton District Queen

    • Territory

      Little Terreille

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      [Link]

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      Isa

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Mining for small favors and big rewards
« on: Dec 05, 17, 10:07:19 PM »
Her right hand clenched against the sateen, a pool of cool ivory draped across her bare shoulders a like long elegant swatch of snow. The impossibly soft fabric melted against her hand as she carefully coiled it around each arm to ensure it stayed in place all evening long. Starlight danced across the smooth weave reflecting the color of her champagne-rose dress in a muter kaleidoscope of color. The dress itself  was tailored to her lean but feminine physique, half rings of cloth overlapping against one another while draping around the narrow of her waist and swell of her hips until pausing several inches above her pale knees and the near endless stems of her legs. The natural rosy hue complimented the dusting of freckles scattered across her face and the cool blue of her eyes. The ride back to the estate was uneventful, and Isbeil had spent a large portion of it simply petting her mantle while members of court chatted about idle gossip.

If a successful party was dictated by just how much juicey chatter it generated and were she to judge it solely on that point it could have very well been the best affair of the year.  As the Queen of Balton she was expected to attend dinners and carousing with the elite of Little Terrielle, especially within her District, considering The Hill was rife with stately homes and vacation getaways built under the mountain’s shadow and so close to Winsol this was quickly becoming a tedious affair.  Money ran the Territory and as such investors clamoring to meet with Queens and their Courts, pitching ideas, garnering favor and most importantly giving back to their communities.

Every last one of them sought an edge and she smiled and fawned, tolerating questions about Scelt (It was surprising how so many of them had distant cousins on the Island, and surely she had met them.), or trying to angle for a meeting with her Cousin Jack and Steward of the Province Queen herself.  It wasn't as if all the parties were a bore, it was a good place to network and hear about other Districts, to make and receive favors and catch up with old faces.  However compared to her bi-monthly excursions into the heart of the cities it could not compare.

They arrived at the estate later into the evening. It was still early though and after a cursory sweep of shields she was allowed admittance into her home. Had she allowed them, they would have followed her into her offices to discuss strategy, but tonight was not the night so she wished them a pleasant evening and sent them off, seeking her privacy. Wine did not have the same bite to it as whisky nor the pleasant burn she craved. Though her office was located on the second floor and the entire third level consisted of her living quarters they both held the most beautiful view of the snow capped mountains beyond, piercing the sky like sharp spindles, endless and ageless.

Witchfire illuminated her path, a tiny dancing flame floating ahead of each step.  The moment she entered the office, the doors closing behind her the lights kicked on dimly leaving no use for the little spirit of white fire. Unwinding from her shawl, her shoulders rolled back, the fabric cascading off her shoulders as it molten and into her awaiting grip. Tossing it on the large desk, she moved to her liquor cabinet and poured herself a small tumbler of amber liquid from a crystal decanter.

They said that crystal made liquor taste better, its purity preserved, only a bottle would have suited her just fine.  Taking a sip she allowed her eyes to roam over the large floor to ceiling bookshelves stuffed with bindings and pages. A desk sat on the far right corner of the room near an old stone fireplace, a log smoldered within casting small ashes up and into the air directly above it. Large green leather chairs flanked  a small table on the opposite side and a wide chaise lounger rested against the wall welcoming guests to sit or lay.

Gathering the shawl once more, she swayed over to a chair, setting herself onto it, one leg curled beneath her as the other kicked off a heel from her manicured foot and tucking the waves of her red copper hair across one  shoulder. The other shoe would soon follow, tumbling beneath the chair. Even now she missed the excitement of exploring her territory, no matter how many times she went into Lennox or other more bustling areas she always encountered more sound, more experiences, more life. She would have to find ‘more’ time to tend to herself and feed those little vices that gave her enough spring to her step to tolerate events like tonight.  For now, she settled comfortably in her chair, swirling the golden liquid in her glass before taking another sip.

Offline Darien Embers

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #1 on: Dec 05, 17, 11:37:04 PM »
Darien watched Lady Balton close the door to her office and allowed himself a smile. She cut an impressive figure in that dress, and he took a moment to simply appreciate the curves of her body beneath the rose fabric. He noted the way that he matched the dusting of freckles on her face, which only served to highlight those pale blue eyes of hers. He imagined how long it took her to chose that dress for tonight’s party, imagine the weeks of agonizing and thought that went into her wardrobe and how she’d worried her head over it.

He knew she’d ditch it all in a heartbeat for a good fight. Darien smiled again.

She reminded him of Tylmandra that way.

He was glad that she’d put off any company at the moment. He had no desire to dance around her males and less inclination to be kind to any who wanted to make an issue of his presence. The Unchained were exposed now, thanks to Silver’s actions, and while Darien had stayed to help clean up the Briar Rose on account of soothing his Queen, he decided that a small vacation to the other side of the Territory was in order. A few of his business arrangements in this area could use a personal touch and now seemed a good time to pay a visit to the Queen who, if all went well, would be helping him create an even greater opportunity in the near future. She still had to say yes to his proposal, of course, but Darien was confident in his skill.

Isbeil Balton rarely, if ever, told him no.

You were the belle of the ball, Bell.” Darien said, dismissing his sight shield. He was sitting in the chaise lounger, now easily within eye sight. He held a tumbler of the same amber liquid she currently imbibed, though he held it at eye-level as though some mystery of the universe floated within the glass and he was mere seconds away from solving it. His black beard was close-cropped and neatly trimmed, while his dark hair was just above shoulder-length. He’d bound it back with a tie hours ago, but after the first time her people had brushed off his presence, Darien cared nothing for being presentable for court presentable. In fact, his only concession to meeting a Queen right now was the dark gray suit he wore, tie loosened now that it was after-hours.

I mean, I counted three men who did not turn to stare at your backside when you passed them. I know at least four who will just ‘happen’ to be in the area tomorrow morning hoping that they can catch you for breakfast. Lady Kestra Montano, the one visiting from Midland District, remember her? Well, she’s got two sons that she’s hoping will bond a Queen in the near future. If you take either one as a First Escort or a Consort, she’ll be chomping at the bit to discuss all the ways that her company can bring opportunities to Balton District.

Of course, she’s just trying to pave the way towards a meeting with Lady Ackley, by getting an audience with your cousin. How is Jackie-boy, by the by? No, don’t answer. I actually don’t care.

I came to see you, anyway.
” Darien said, shifting in his chair to regard her.

You look lovely, Bell. It’s been awhile. I didn’t get my invite to the party from when you became District Queen. It’s so easy to forget the little people when you reach the top.” he said, draping an arm over his eyes in mock-offensive, with an extra heap of drama. He snorted in laughter before he finished the sentence.

How’s your night? Are you ready for all of the favor seekers to come knocking on your door?



Offline Isbeil Balton

  • Character Account
    • ss2opal
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      Balton District Queen

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      Isa

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #2 on: Dec 07, 17, 03:43:25 PM »
Amber liquid swirled in the tumbler casting soft refraction of light that broke against the surface of the diamond etched glass. Sinking into the chair, her leg curled beneath her, the shawl draped casually across her lap. Unbeknownst to her Darien was given a purview of her routine when she was left to her own devices.  In the quiet of her office she could relax without an air of regalia or the responsibility of Protocol.  Yes, Isbeil was a Queen but she was also a woman who enjoyed her space when she desired it. 

It was just as she took a sip of the honeyed liquid, the pleasant sting of it trickling down her throat, her mind at ease with the peace around her that he chose to make himself known.  Her lips parted, hand dropping away from her mouth nearly unpending the glass completely from her hand she gasped the heat of liquor filling her nose and the back of her eyes.  Shields raised instantaneously around her if only by the sudden shock.

That familiar voice struck against her memory drawing annoyance and happiness both to the forefront. The former mostly but she pressed a hand to the top of her glass lifting it away from her person as drops of liquid raced down one side dripping on the ground.  Darien Ember’s emerged from thin air from the lounger, sipping her whisky and overall creeping upon her space.  Had he been any other man, any, he would find an infuriated Queen on his hands and one did not risk the Scelt’s ire.

Closing her eyes she took a calming breath, her breast hollowing with the deep exhale. Light blue eyes opened watching as he mused over a glass of pilfered liquid. Not much had changed, Darien was still himself, she was rue to see, though his beard had been finely cropped, his face maintained a beautiful symmetry that called many an eye to him.  Having known him since her time as a Village Queen they had made fast acquaintances and faster friends with their lively banter. Isbeil found that she could be a little more honest about her nature with Darien that she could be with most and to her surprise he seemed to welcome the change.

He also encouraged her vices while trying to entice others to the front. Wasn't he tired of hearing no?

Again she blinked, setting the near empty tumbler on the round table before her. Moisture clung to her hand as she flicked it over the edge of the chair. He went on, and she wasn't sure whether he was actually at the party at first or talking out of his arse. One never knew right away with Darien, but considering he knew the name of one of the most prolific attendees to such an affair a Lady Kestra Montano, that Isbeil had spent the better part of the night politely dodging while she went on incessantly about her sons, she could only assume he was telling the truth.

“Darien.” His name rolled firmly  from her tongue more like Dahrrian, with a smooth emphassis to the letter R as it scraped the back of her throat. “Ye ought know not to make a Scelt spill a drop of good whisky.” Fixing him with an unimpressed look, the fiery woman’s head tilted before the first cracks broke against his compliments and the quip about Jack.

“An I guess that counts us even. Ye could have saved me some trouble if only ye asked me to dance. I would have made sure ye were not booted out on yer arse.”   Isbeil made no move to shift her posture, though her lips stretched into a soft smile, the surprise in seeing him overriding the jolt of fear she had first felt.  Luckily enough they were good enough friends that she knew Darien wouldn't have just come here to kill her. It wasn't until that moment when it dawned on her at just how pleasant it was to see the cad who snuck into her office in the middle of the night and was now making a clumsy dramatic effect. Laughing softly she shook her head at him. “Ye poor wee thing. Yer invitation is probably still stuck in post waiting to get to yer nonexistent forwarding address.” It had been a shame to not have him there, he would have certainly made the party far more interesting.

Maybe even taken her to a brawl after just to celebrate.

“Well Lady Montano will just have to play matchmaker another day. I'm not in the market fer a Consort or a First Escort fer that matter. As fer Faver-seekers,  those I can handle. Why worry about the others if my favorite seeker’s come lead the parade?"  There were only a handful of times that Isbeil could remember Darien paying a visit simply out of the kindness of his heart, however most of the time he was looking for something, and for the most part she was happy to lend a hand. Not because he was beautiful, which he was, or because he could charm the knickers off of many a lady from fifty paces, but because he was fair minded and he had enough respect for her to lay the plan on the table. Nothing could shut down a negotiation faster with Isbeil Balton than a lie.

“I am well. Id be much better if me glass was full again, be a dear? Its the least ye can do.”  An attractive smile danced across her lips as she motioned to her glass while keeping her gaze on him. “If ye wanted to see me so bad, why not just have yerself announced instead of slipping through walls and somesuch?”




Offline Darien Embers

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      Gavin

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #3 on: Dec 08, 17, 12:22:17 AM »
Darien forced himself to remain still and not burst into howling laughter when Bell nearly jumped out of her skin. He hadn’t meant to scare her senseless with his sudden “appearance”. For a moment, he feared that he’d taken the game just a bit too far, that he’d pushed his luck too far. But when Isbeil didn’t call her guards and whens he didn’t demand his departure, Darien relaxed just a little bit where he sat. He sipped his drink, noting that she’d set her own down after spilling some.

Party foul.” he quipped.

His eyes followed her, though. They followed the lines of her body beneath her dress, even as she turned to regard him more fully. He rose from his seat, glass in hand, and moved closer to the Queen, dropping softly into the chair beside hers. Yes, this was better. This close, he could see the dusting of freckles on her skin, and Darien grinned. He took another sip of his drink and sat down.

I’ll definitely get you another drink, but you have know that I wanted to see you so bad that I broke in. I stopped by earlier today, but you were already gone. One of your guards was rather rude to me. I even said I’d make an appointment if he pointed me to the Steward. Instead, I was invited to leave.” Darien said.

That’s how you know I like you. I didn’t kill your guard for doing his job. There are a lot of men that I don’t give that kind of consideration. But I did it for you, Lady Balton.” Darien said, sweeping into a playful bow, as best he could from his chair.

I really was going to ask you to dance, but then Lady Montano tried to monopolize your evening. She and I have issues, you see, and I thought it was best that she and her block-head sons didn’t see me. Rather than ruin your party with my drama, I decided to cut out early and wait here for you.” he said, rising from his seat. He walked over to the bar and poured the Queen another glass of whisky, then returned to his chair and sat down, before offering it to her. When she took it, Darien leaned back in his chair.

You are right about one thing, Bell. Your favorite favor-seeker has, in fact, come here to seek your favor. Ran into some trouble with my normal running mates, things got hot, had to get out of town for awhile.” Darien said, rolling his shoulder. He clasped his hands before him and stared into the fire, taking a second to organize his thoughts.

A business opportunity has fallen into my lap. Before you get worried, it’s legal. Or it will be, if we can pull it off.” he said softly.

The thing is, I need a Queen and I need to keep it separate from my normal ventures. There are some other people who would ruin it if they knew of it. But if we can make this work, there’s no telling how rich we can get from it.” Darien said.

He looked to her, now, trying to gauge her interest.

You interested?



Offline Isbeil Balton

  • Character Account
    • ss2opal
    • queen
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      Balton District Queen

    • Territory

      Little Terreille

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      Isa

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #4 on: Dec 11, 17, 03:34:27 PM »
“Laugh it up ye wee dart.” Though he had the sense not to slap his knee and laugh lively at her fright she could still see the amusement hidden behind his dark eyes and the creeping curl of a smile barely concealed behind his glass.

Party foul he said and she laughed, ringing her hands together to stave off any moisture. Moving closer he settled on the chair across from hers, the rich leather seater making him look more refined than she was used to, but he played the part well when needed. Darien would have done well in a Court if he didn't have such wanderlust and a propensity for trouble. Then again those were some of his best defining attributes. No, Isbeil wouldn't have him change a bit, except perhaps for an increase in visits.  Grinning like a cat who caught himself a mouse he settled in quickly plying her with barely veiled complaints and a bit of flattery. Poor Darien had come all this way only to be rejected.

“Ye got yer way anyways. Happy ending if I heard one.” Still, it was upsetting to know she had not been notified of a caller. Full lips parted before settling into a lightly displeased purse. “Hmm. Well then just to avoid any bloodshed, Ill hand the guards yer name in case ye come a calling fer tea or what have ye. Though Darien, I am deeply touched by yerr restraint.” A delicate hand rose to her breast, blue eyes softening as she sighed with great effect. He wasn't the only one who could play it up.

 It was dangerous granting Darien Embers unfettered access to her but in truth that was part of the appeal. His visits made life more interesting and he didn't judge her for her vices. Plus if he wanted to see her he would just pull something like this. Knowing her feelings towards Phasing through Walls didn't deter him in the slightest, even though it made her queasy just to think of it. Standing he bowed deeply at the waist, plucking her glass from the round table before her.

“If only ye would have interrupted that dull party. Lady Montano is single minded and persistent. “  Looking pained her head shook, knocking free a few ribbons of red hair to tumble down her shoulder. “How that woman can yammer on about nonsense is beyond me. If Odelle had been there I may have shoved her off if I wouldna’ felt so bad afterwards.” Chuckling softly her shoulder curled toward her chin. “Now imagine if I had some dashing gentleman at my arm tha’ she didn't much care for, how absolutely wild that would have driven her.”   Taking the glass from him she smiled, the tip of her tongue pressing to her upper teeth mischievously. When she smiled like this she could look positively devilish, albeit rare  making its appearance within her unsanctioned excursions.

To believe that his his efforts in all this was simply Darien’s attempt to catch up with an old friend would be self deluding. That was only a part of their relationship, he sought assistance, she gave it they enjoyed one another in the interim. Still it didn't stop Bell from sighing and resting her temple on the wingback of the chair, her hair pooling against her ear and neck as she gingerly sipped her drink. Work, always work. Though to be fair he always did have the most intriguing, borderline illegal plans. So one could see why he couldn't simply appear at her crowning ceremony.


“Separate from the ventres I'm better off not knowing about? Aye, that would be good.”  Letting her eyes roam over him a moment she smirked softly, lowering the glass to rest on her lap. Darien was handsome, but devastating in every other way.   “Marks are good an all that but ye know thats nay enough to capture my attention. The legal part did especially coming from you. Things got a little hot and thought you'd visit the mountains fer the view?”  A hand  raised indicating to herself from head to feet in a graceful flourish. It was all in jest, of course, but he would appreciate the humor.

Whatever he wanted was specific. Darien was too charming not to have other Queens within his contact list. This meant that whatever he was planning had more to do with her district than herself. Taking one last impressive swig, the amber liquid poured down her throat as she was obviously done nursing it. Setting the glass on the table, her hand instead moved to the foot peeking from its crossed position beneath her thigh, fingers kneading the soreness from its arch. “Alright, I'm hooked, carry on.”

Offline Darien Embers

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    • bo2sapphire
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      Gavin

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #5 on: Dec 16, 17, 05:20:53 PM »
Darien loved Isbeil’s accent because it was different and gave her words a sharpness, or a mirth, that he rarely heard from other people. She was a genuine woman who let a man know when he’d overstepped or if he hadn’t stepped far enough. He did not have to guess or play games with her (though he did, for the fun) and that was refreshing whenever he considered the other women he knew. Silver, Violet, and even Tylmandra, to an extent, required a fair amount of banter and feeling out before he could really cut to the heart of matters with them. Darien never complained about it, but Isbeil’s way of things made it fun to enjoy her company.

Yes, I know it’s about more than money for you. You want to improve the lives of your people and make it so that the Hill doesn’t turn into a place like Goth. I don’t think the big-wigs at the Territory Court have figured that out.” Darien said.

You have, though. That’s why I’m offering this to you. If we can make this work, Isbeil, your people will have jobs and marks to spend. The more money flowing through your District, the better you look in front of Lady Ackley. Personally, I think you should be the Province Queen. But that’s just my thoughts. That and a two marks will buy you a cup of coffee at a local joint.” Darien said, grinning at Bell.

Now that she was interested, he sat back in his seat and stared at the fire, collecting his thoughts for a moment.

I have recently become aware of a series of mines, here within the Hill, that may still be very profitable. I don’t have any claim to them, though. Furthermore, I believe that these mines are the reason that Lady Montano, who lives in another Province altogether, has been pressing to make your acquaintance so recently.” Darien said.

He looked to her and grinned, getting just a bit more comfortable. “She wants the mines. Her husband is the one who located them and I stole the papers from them. Since you don’t like lies of omission, I’ll tell you this now.

Lady Kestra Montano is my stepmother and saying that we don’t get along is an understatement.
” Darien said.

She cut me out of my father’s will so that her sons didn’t have to split it with me. So this is about more than just business for me, but rather than kill her or burn down her big, beautiful house that my father built for her….I want to hit her where it counts.

Her company’s bottom line.
” Darien said, his gaze sharpening to something hungrier and more predatory as he watched Isbeil. When she moved, even unconsciously, Darien caught it, reacted to it by leaning in just a bit closer. Almost as though he was cornering her where she sat.

I want to gain the rights to the mine, which I’d split with you and any investors we can gather, and then sell the ore and gemstones within. You gain the money to help your people as much as you want. I create a mining company that makes the people in my life feel better about my future prospects, we both get rich…and Lady Montano goes home to her big house feeling outsmarted and unhappy.” Darien said.

Are you still interested? Because Lady Montano is an influential and powerful woman. Many people don’t want to cross her. I understand if you fall into that group. But if we pull this off, we could have a possibly unending stream of revenue, between my business acumen and the natural gifts of your Caste.” Darien said.

Still interested?



Offline Isbeil Balton

  • Character Account
    • ss2opal
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      Balton District Queen

    • Territory

      Little Terreille

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      Isa

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #6 on: Dec 18, 17, 06:12:05 PM »
“Ye’d be surprised about that. Well some of ‘em” Darien would be tickled at how close she was to at least one member of the Territory Court, not that it was any reason to brag but they shared a kinship that transcended birthplace. It was amazing how two perfectly lovely women could come together over a drink and a bit of privacy. The pressure of court could weigh on anyone, Queens especially who were always supposed to be a little more, a little extra resilient but at their core were simply Blood women carving their own names into the world. It was nice to be able to expend roots beyond hard ground from time to time and take comfort in the little things.

Such as with her conversation with Darien. The Warlord Prince always managed to bring more work to her table and yet she didn't much care for the added workload as it was always a little bit more interesting than the standard fare. Maybe it was because his plans skirted the fine line of legality when they were not completely under cuff or more because the man was simply exceptional. Isbeil trusted very few people and those who gave her any reason to doubt them were dismissed with barely any evidence at all, so deep were the hurts of her past. Darien seemed to understand this though he never inquired deeper into why Isbeil was the way she was. Truth was, if he asked her, she might have been inclined to tell him.  In turn she didn't probe too deeply into his past or naturally his present, taking what he said to be enough even when her curiosity spilled over. This was the beauty of trust, it did not need to be prefaced, he understood it and in part recognized her for it.

Smiling lazily at him her hand idly stroked her bent knee. The compliment was received and but there was nothing she could say to that both because Lady Ackley was a friend and her Province Queen. “Ye’r biased, also completely full of shite.” And she liked it if only because his opinion mattered where so few did.  That being said she wasn't rising in the ranks any time soon, and as a District Queen it was hard enough making any direct impact without petitioning Courts and diving head first into the political rigor-moral, no she was in the perfect position to make the right amount of change and to impact the little guy.

He wasn't so little, but that was the whisky talking.

Darien wasn't one for long pauses, at least not with her. He knew his words did not need to be weighted and she grew more curious as the amber light danced off his face while considering his words. Then he began, punctuating his first admission with a bit of a grin as though it was only proper grammar to do so. She drank in his words, even as the firelight reflected from the tiny diamond patterns on her glass as if reminding her it was once again empty. A crime of which would quickly need remedy, but she hesitated to move before she could gather all that he had to say and lay it out like a tapestry before her. Darien weaved it, rough edges and all,giving her but a swatch of what she knew would be something much larger in time.

If there was interest before, now intrigue dotted her face like the constellation of stars.  Expression sombering, her hand stilled. Darien exposing a personal conflict, not some run of the mill enemy, but a familiar one. For the sake of autonomy he divulged something personal, beyond the way he rushed past the fact that he had been left out of his father’s will.

Darien did not want to merely kill the beast but ruin it, strike it in the heart.  Dark eyes drew upon her, hungry be it by vengeance, lust or some aberration sparked by the latter she didn't know, but she watched him, legs slowly unfolding the strength behind that very stare causing the Queen just enough pause, physically and mentally  to feel the heat of it. Darien leaned in and though there was a few feet of space between them the intensity of his gaze was enough to make it feel as there was not enough quarter in the entirety of the room. There was not enough Territory between him and what he wanted to take from Kestra Montanot  His flame burned hot and though it did not seek to burn her, he knew that through her he would see it done.

Darien slammed his hand down on her one button, the part of her nature she understood best of all. Retribution. Petty vengeance was hollow, but Isbeil knew the pain of having something important taken and how unless it was brought to rights the world would always be uneven.

Standing if only because she feared her thoughts would push to the forefront of her eyes she moved to the liquor cabinet, every step carrying her away from from the Warlord Prince on bare feet but not far from his words. Plucking the crystal decanter of whisky from the mirror lined cabinet she turned glancing to him so he could be sure she was listening. The bottle was light, merely a few shots before it was gone.  The length of her crimson hair curling naturally in thick, playful waves to the small of her back. Thrice now he asked if she was interested. Yes, she counted, and that was more telling about his eagerness than hers. Of course he was gauging her reaction, what he asked was no easy thing and he knew it but Isbeil wasn't sure if he thought past stealing the documents.

“Let me see what you have.”  Her chin lifted, motioning toward the table. Turning on her toes like a dancer she paused after one step, lifting a hand behind her, the bottle bourbon gliding toward her other hand. Dropping her arms to either side, she walked back to the table between them, hips swaying lightly beneath the rose colored fabric of her short dress.  Placing one decanter down, she filled her glass to two fingers before extending a hand palm up to him. Once he placed his glass in her hand, she topped him off with the remainder, her fingers dancing over the rim when offering it back. “Aye, it sounds like an excellent deal and if I'm right, than I am well aware of the mine yer talkin about. Its been under dispute for some time, however the Territory Court is lookin’ to seize if no claim is staked upon it. The last claim simply dropped, or was forgotten.” Gathering her shawl, she draped it over the back of her chair before settling down once more across from him. “If Lady Montano has done as you say, then this is a simple matter of collecting a Price....creatively.” Studying  him, she shrugged a shoulder. Isbeil paid little mind to women like Montano. Yes they were dangerous, sometimes even clever, the point was to be better than they were at the game.

Plucking the paper he conjured, she poured over them, her lips pursing as she read. Scooting closer, she lifted a leg, resting the heel of her small, manicured foot on the edge of his chair, and wiggled her toes at him.  It wasn't an insult, or a way to demean him, in fact this wasn't the first time she had asked him for a foot rub before. This was simply Isbeil getting comfortable. The man was quite skilled at it though it had been some time.  It was pretty much the most intimate contact they had since, if one didn't count this cat and mouse flirtation. “Its been over ten years, nothing has been done with this mine fer longer than tha'. What do ye want ta do, run it and flip it? Even if we get past the 'who owns what' portion there is still other expensive matters to contend with. Ye'll need headcount, heavy machinery, accountants, security.”  None of it was impossible, she was merely reaffirming his expectation with a healthy dose of reality. “Did this mine belong to yer father before he was married to the bog hag by any chance?”  She asked, peering over the sheets of paper at him with a grin.

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #7 on: Dec 29, 17, 11:59:38 PM »
Very little surprises me about the Territory Court, given what I know of it.” Darien said, flashing her another smile. He was curious what, or whom, she knew about the Territory Court over in Goth. While he didn’t think that Isbeil had any information on the infamous Lord Black that had upended everything in the Territory with his shocking display a year ago, there was no telling how far his influenced reached. The Territory Court had built themselves a giant tower in Goth to stroke their egos, a testament to the power they held over the rest of the Courts in the Territory. Someday, that would change, but they had a long, long time to go before that happened.

He put those thoughts away to focus on the woman before him.

Her scent, the way she moved, the very breath she held when his gaze fell on her outlined the differences between her and Tylmander in stark relief for Darien. Isbeil Balton wore her Caste openly, reveled in it, and used ruled from her District Seat with all of the grace and strength she would someday rule a Province Seat. Darien knew that same will to power existed in Tylmandra. He’d sensed it more than once when she’d had enough drink in her to talk about Rihland. But Isbeil would remain at the Hill, in Little Terreille, for the rest of her days. Tylmandra was the very definition of Unchained, refusing to be bound to a Court in Little Terreille. Her Red would easily lock her into a decade-long contract at the minimum, one that would chafe her and make her despise that service.

Both women were Queens, but so different that Darien’s gaze on Isbeil sharpened just a touch, though he did not move forward any further. That was good, for she rose from her seat and went to pour herself another drink. His eyes followed the sway of her hips over the short distance and Darien took a moment to center this thoughts and make sure that she was on board for the rest of the pitch. Isbeil wouldn’t be anyone’s catspaw and she’d guard herself against any sort of betray. He had no intention of betraying her, but he’d have thought less of her if she took everything he said on faith. He’d certainly sold out other people who’d trusted him in the past. Difference between them and Isbeil was that they were going to betray him first, so he simply sped up the timetable on their fuckery. They deserved it.

Also, Isbeil had a much nicer backside than any of them. Darien would never call it the deciding factor on keeping faith with the Balton Queen; it was just one more perk in an already impressive benefits package.

He handed over the paperwork when she asked for it, several sheets of paper. One was a crudely drawn map indicating the location of the mine. The second was letter of request from the Montano Corporation to the Balton District from almost two decades ago.The rest of the papers, were the results of the mine survey Darien then leaned back in his chair while she reviewed the papers. He accepted a refill on his drink, accepting now that he had to trust her to aid him in this without screwing him over down the line. It helped that Darien liked her well and that she appeared to truly want to help her people.

My father tried to get into that mine for a long time. He went through the proper channels, but he passed on before the answer came back. It was one more thing hidden from me by Lady Montano and her sons.” Darien said, noting her foot on the edge of his chair. She was being playful, which he appreciated. He had a tendency to brood and go cold when discussing or dealing with this alternate family, a focus that erred on the side of humiliating them in new and inventive ways when he was better served to take his win and move on.

His hand moved up to her left foot, the his thumb slowly pressing against the sole of her foot and massaging it like he’d only done so just last night. He continued doing so, watching her to see if she was relaxing at all, rather than moving into deeper thought.

The Territory Court will use the mine to put people in your District that don't answer to you. But yes, I want to open it up and keep the ore and gems flowing. And yes, it’s going to take a lot of money to make that happen. A group of private investors could come up with the money, if you know any rich people you could trust with it. I know someone who can run the place and keep us apprised.” Darien said.

No matter what happens, Kestra Montano can’t get her hands on it. His attempt to claim the mine narrowly predates their marriage, but she's never been one to care about silly things like that.” Darien said.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #8 on: Jan 14, 18, 03:55:02 PM »
Darien was not a man easily shaken. For all the years that she had known him the Sapphire Prince rarely reflected the depth of his true emotions. There were times when he was at ease and she took pride that she could call up the comfort in familiarity with him. It was infectious, though they danced so fall into laughter or easy banter. This was not the relationship she had with Gale, her bonded male who took everything far more severely than Darien ever would. This did not mean he was laid back in all things, certainly that wasn't the case for a hot Blooded male, but he was his own man even when bonded to a rather reclusive Queen.

Had he been destined to be hers, Isbeil would have been overjoyed. Then again, one did not need to be lassoed to fate with Darien to claim a part of him.

Knowing she had stoked his curiosity with her little comment she said nothing more to elaborate. Isbeil protected her contacts and did not abuse confidence if she could manage it. His eyes lingered on her like a cat stalking prey, the heat of it warming the room, or perhaps just her skin far more than the fire lapping at logs in the nearby hearth. Theirs was not a relationship based on compulsion, politics or servitude and while someone looking in could speculate that it was based on convenience, Isbeil could not truly believe that was the sole reason he returned time and time again. There was friendship there, though it was sometimes off balance, she found it comforting to know little was expected of her, and were she to deny his requests he would still return with some other excuse on hand.

Settling with some interesting reading material and a refreshed glass, she looked over the map first, locating the Hill before tracing a finger up to the mine. It certainly did look like the disputed site she had in mind. Having been left abandoned for so long she had been certain the territory Court would seize the property soon enough. It was already on the docket to do so. The only reason Isbeil took any notice at all was because the mine was in her District and that meant a source of income.  Had Lady Montano brought these forms to her attention before Darien Embers, she might have struck a deal if only to secure a portion of the proceeds. Her regret would have been great once he explained how his Step Monster had cut him from his father’s estate entirely and sought to milk it for all it was worth.  Fortuitously enough, that was not the case.

Biting the corner of her lip, she poured over every word, paying close attention to the request which called for a survey of the mine and requested a copy of the deed which was previously submitted,  but did not seem to carry any follow up. If Darien’s father had passed on before Balton District’s ruling then there should have been a note in the ledgers somewhere about it. That was if they even existed anymore. “Fortunately and unfortunately for ye many o’ the Districts records were destroyed in a fire long ago. I will look to see if anything can be salvaged, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  As Queen of Balton District I might be able to petition my ruling using this. It is a long shot but I tend ta like them odds.”

His thick digit dug into the sole of her foot, kneading away at the pressure there with such familiarity that she had to remind herself that this was not the first time he had worked on them. Glancing over to him a second, her lips curled into a playful smile before shifting back to the papers. Toes tensed and relaxed against his hands as he worked, rolling the tiny bones within his hands and drawing a  soft, appreciative sigh from her lips.

Laying the sheets down on her lap so she could see had a clear line of sight to the handsome Prince she considered her thoughts for a long moment. The soft cat-like fall of her lashes lifting  once more. There were many ways to go about all of this and Isbeil was not comfortable putting all her chips down on one method entirely. Lady Montano was shrewd, but she was not necessarily in the right. A Price could be collected, but only if Lady Montano confessed to taking Darien’s inheritance. As far as the law went, the wife held all rights to her husband’s property upon his death, but not if said property was his when he was previously married. “Was Lady Montano your father’s first wife? Or had your mother and he ever made that commitment?” It was a long shot, but in order to help Darien and in turn herself, they would have to find ways to work around the fact that the paperwork was ill begotten. This meant probing a bit more deeply into Darien’s personal life, at least in regards to his family. He would have to deal with that but Isbeil got the impression he had already prepared himself for such once he explained why the mine was so important to him.

The slight pressure in her foot increased with his disapproval, but she let it go, enjoying the touch and the sting of liquor in her throat. “We have a few ways to go about this that I can think of at the moment. I'm sure Ill come up with somethin’ more concrete in the mornin’. The mine has been neglected  for nearly two decades and there is no proof it was because it was cleaned out. So, lets say, that an interested party such as yerself found a vein, purchased the rights to smaller mine and tapped into it, yed be well within yer rights to claim stake through domain. Now, she can argue that the claim has been tied up in court for so long and she is taking action now and depending on who adjudicates they could see it her way. Unless ye happen to mysteriously come by a letter with yer father’s signature statin’ his intent for the mine and who would inherit. It would have to be his signature though not some cheap forgery. That would be dishonest.” 

Her finger tapped softly against the sheets, directly over  his father’s handwriting. As a Queen, Isbeil could not tell Darien how he would come across such a thing, nor that she wished to know,  just that it would be quite useful to have “Iffin ye want my advice, collect yer funds, get the vein and stake a claim. It will only benefit ye to make the investment. I can however ask a friend if she would be willing to point me to a nice juicy one. Land sense is one thing, but finding something like this takes someone specialized. Leave that part to me. Ill also have to have a chat with Lady Montano. If she admits to wronging you, we might have something, but Ill let her set the appointment. My schedule had been terrible lately.”  Laughter danced blithely from her lips. “Even some of my favorite faces can't get in.”  Watching him pointedly she grinned. “And now there are security concerns. This life I live is not an easy one. “  Sighing dramatically her other foot raised, crossing at the ankle to await its turn.

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #9 on: Jan 19, 18, 06:10:54 PM »
Darien accepted Bell’s other foot and started to massage it while she spoke. He incorporated her advice with his own ideas, taking what was useful and discarding the rest. The news of the records being lost in a fire was as much boon as bane. Darien sprouted three new ideas from just that kernel of information, but he kept those to himself. Lady Balton wouldn’t appreciate the ideas for their merit, but only for the threat that they would propose to her rule. He opted instead to let her speak and outline her ideas while refining his own. The question about the Step-Monster, however, offered a chance for him to speak up.

No, she’s the first and only wife, unfortunately for the rest of us.” Darien said.

My father wasn’t a fan of monogamy. Sadly, it took him getting married to figure that out. But Lady Montano’s family has some name recognition in Courtland Province. Setting her aside would’ve been a messy affair. Would’ve damaged his reputation and his company’s.” Darien said, his thumb following the arch of her foot. Her suggestion of a signed letter from her father, however, earned a nod from the Prince.

She’s moved all of my father’s papers and effects. In fact, I’m sure she destroyed the original copy of his will. But my father kept two copies of everything. Sadly, I don’t know where, or with whom, he’d have left that second copy of the information. I’ve searched the house as best I can, but Lady Montano doubled the security after my last visit.

She accused me of stealing an invitation to a soiree in Nharkava. Something about meeting Province Rulers and the like.
” Darien said. He shrugged his shoulders, but his mouth curved into a mischievous smile that Bell could interpret as she chose.

He nodded at her final suggestions, though, especially when she said that she had a friend who would could help her find a nice vein for a group of investors to purchase.
 
She’s not likely to admit to anything. I’ve been trying for years, Bell. But if you can ask her where’s housing the family’s works of art, the items of high monetary value...that would help us immensely.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #10 on: Jan 26, 18, 01:03:02 PM »
There were always lines she could not cross, not because she hadn't considered those veins herself but because she wanted to hold up under questioning if that were to happen. As long as it looked like she was working on the up and up, few had a reason to poke around into her business. Lucky for all parties involved.  Darien would know to pay close attention, not only to what Isbeil said, but what she didn't say, he didn't need a magnifying glass to read between the lines. If Lady Montano had a copy of the inheritance papers then he should find a way to get his hands on them, or a very good copy of the deed if it existed or not.

Isbeil nodded, taking a sip from her glass, the ice clinking together as she set it down once again on the table. “Sadly he says.” She smirked at him, glancing over the paperwork with a knowing look. Expert thumbs rolled over the arch of her foot, pressing into the well worn muscles there and eliciting a soft sigh from the Queen. The feet were filled with nerves, tendons and muscle that were overworked and underappreciated, so when he rolled her toes against his fingers, easing the tension in those soft manicured digits it neared ecstasy.

Lady Montano’s accusation possibly had merit. She could imagine Darien stole the invitation only to remind her he still existed, even she had attempted to write him out of their family’s fortune. “If there were a second copy, why would she have it? Perhaps he hid it? Left it with the Court?” She asked, grasping at straws. “If yer da’ had anyone he trusted I might ask them where he kept ledgers and such, maybe an old office?”    It would be nearly impossible to find without some clue into Darien’s father’s mentality. It didn't sound like he trusted Lady Montano, and certainly no love was lost there. “Aye, I can do tha’, I've come into possession of a few pieces with great monetary and sentimental value. Considering how lax my security is an’ any bloke can just stroll into me office without invitation, it may behoove me to put those under lock and key. “  It was her turn to smirk at him, her pale blue eyes dancing balefully. Darien had given her a fright, but he had enough proof in the fact that she hadnt had him booted out on his arse to recognize an open invitation. “I can ask, but ye know me friend, it seems like I'm putting up a whole lot of work here for just half.” Wiggling her toes she poked at his thigh lightly, with the larger digit. “Between Court dealings, gathering assistance, holding an audience with the Step-Monster, possibly finding a vein, and investors and now recon, well, that seems like a lot to me.” 

Clearly she was teasing him while still making a point. Darien had a prime deal. “Ye’ll just owe me some favors then, for me trouble?” She asked with a a small smirk, teeth pinching the corner of her lip. When she gazed at anyone like this she looked positively naughty. Licking her lips, she leaned back against her plush velvet chair, a hand raising to draw the ruddy red of her hair across her speckled shoulder. “Why don't ye spend the night? I don't get to see ye for more than a day or so at any given time. Ye can even show yer appreciation by treating me out for a night on the town. Excellent accommodations, good food, better company? Fair to say sounds like ye’d be winning out.” Darien would know exactly what kind of night she would like and it wasn't like he didn't owe her already. The invitation was just a way to keep him around for a little while longer. With him she didn't have to play proper Queen, she could be Isbeil. Which was becoming rarer these days.

“Ive never been to Nharkava, whats the weather like this time of year? If ye like dancin’ I hear that's the place to be.”  Of course he went, and she had no care in the world knowing he had stolen the invitation. It was an opportunity and the Prince would not be himself if he didn't seize upon it.

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #11 on: Feb 01, 18, 11:09:43 PM »
Darien worked the arches and grooves of her foot, paying attention to what Isbeil seemed to enjoy and continuing it. He heightened the feeling with just a bit of Seduction Craft, seeking her relaxation. She voiced ideas about how and where his father might have left a second copy of his will. She meant well, but she’d not dealt with the Step-Monster before this. In fact, Darien was having second thoughts about letting her meet with Kestra Montano in any capacity. The older woman was a viper. She’d not hesitate to take advantage of any weakness that Isbeil allowed to show.

She knew all of his contacts and friends. If there was anyone outside of their circles that he could have hidden it with, I don’t know who it is. Her sons got everything that should have been mine. I would have taken my share and left them all alone.” Darien said.

Doesn’t matter now, though. It’ll be more fun to take everything from them and leave them all in the poor house. Maybe I’ll just donate that big house to someone who wants to open an orphanage. The Darien Embers School for Charming Young Men has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” Darien asked her, his grin sharpening into something wicked and hungry. HIs eyes traced the line of her long leg, all the way to her stomach, her chest, her face.

But do what you need to do, Bell. Get the information from her and we’ll see about adjusting your cut. Given that the mine is in your District, I think you’ll be happy with everything you get.” he said, his hands moving up her leg to massage her calf muscle. Strong, lean legs that saw much use. His hands moved up a little further to her thigh, fingertips dragging along the skin.

Favors, huh? What kind of favors are we talking? I’m not above killing someone for you, but if you want me to escort you to a party or be a respectable member of society...we’d have to talk.” he said, laughing softly. He continued to massage her leg, just taking a moment to enjoy being near a friend that wasn’t one of the Unchained. The Unchained were his people and probably the closest thing he had to a family. But there were parts of his life that they didn’t understand, parts that he didn’t want to explain to them. Ishanvi was the only one who knew about his issues with his stepmother and her solution to the matter was, refreshingly straightforward, utterly unworkable.

Just kill her, take everything, and be done with it.

Why don't ye spend the night? I don't get to see ye for more than a day or so at any given time.

Darien nodded. “And here I thought you’d never ask, Bell. Yeah, I’ll stay for a day or two. I’m not due back in Goth for a bit and I’d prefer to stay out of the capital for awhile anyway. So dinner and drinks. Dancing. All that. You pick the places, since you know the area.” Darien said. No sense in running afoul of the Territory Court anymore than he already had.

Right about now, Nharkava’s cooling off. Lots of music in the jungle if you know where to go. You thinking of going tonight?” Darien asked.




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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #12 on: Feb 06, 18, 01:07:46 PM »
After a long night of dancing and mingling with undesirables, getting a foot massage from a handsome male could be considered a highlight. The touch of Craft eased through her flesh and she felt a tingle rake up the nerves of her leg and rewarding him with a little gasp Though it was meant to sooth her, Darien was well aware how to utilize it. Arching a brow, her leg stretched approvingly toward him, the small foot stretching like a cat. Though intoxication was not in the cards just yet the Queen relaxed, her head easily floating as the rich whisky she consumed warmed her body and Darien worked the aches from her arches. The dim light of her office and the relative quiet  of the estate at such an our only added to the peace around her.

“So she’s a wolf to boot. Good ta know.” She smiled at him, by the inflection in the words he might be a tad bit hesitant to have her meet the fine Lady. Obviously there was no love lost between Lady Montano and her step son, but it was more than that, he saw someone capable of great harm as exemplified in his own life. Prince Embers was Dark Jeweled and a potential danger for the Lady, he could have simply killed her for the slight and suffered very little consequence had it not been for the fact that she was quite wealthier than him and in Little Terrielle that meant she was more valuable.

“It sounds like those Charming Young Men will end up cutting a few purses if left to the devices of their tutors, an breaking far too many hearts.” She smirked at him, resting her hand over her lap she wiggled her slender fingers. Lacing them together, her arms rose high over her head on a luxurious stretch, elongating her body, before settling again. “I understand what its like to have something taken when ye would have been happy with simply receiving what was yer due. In those moments, I agree there would be interest paid. I'm happy ta help whichever way I can.” Apparently so was he.

Darien always had a way about him that was alluring but warned of caution. This was not the first time she recognized the narrowing of hunger in his eyes, by now she should have been accustomed to it. It was like an old friend and had it not popped in for a visit she might have felt a little self conscious. They had an easy way about them, one she did not share with her bonded male, Gale. He was spirited unhindered by conventionality, but still loyal. There was always a part of her that didn't know where she stood with him, but that was fine because in his own way he cared. It was not something she believed he gave to many. Yes, they had a convenient relationship, but there was genuine affection there. Gale was too headstrong and considered the opinions of others far too stronging for her liking. While she loved him dearly, her bonded could be suffocating in his relentlessness to protect her. It didn't give her time to breathe, to feel like an individual.

His fingers roamed further up the length of her leg, testing the waters. A feathery brow arched and she smirked softly, but could not deny how good it felt to be touched.

“Oh well, lets put a pin in that shall we? I didn't know orderin’ a hit was an option.”  She laughed, her shoulders shaking as she did with a mirthful smile. “Oh no Id never. Doll ye up, get ye all pretty fer the masses and parade ye around for the envy of many fine ladies. Why ever would I do that? What...if ye enjoyed yerself? Oh, the horror.”  She gasped, pressing a hand to her bare collar as though wounded he would ever bring up such a terrible thing. A thoughtful expression crossed her features as she studied him. Darien was made for one world and settled into another. Though she could not even guess as to what other pots his hands were in, there was no doubt he had what it took to be a male in court. “You’re wise fer not choosin' this life. Ye’d fit, but...”  she shook her head. ”Ye wouldn't be the same, and I like ye just the way ye are, spite an’ all.”

He agreed, rather quickly and it sort of threw her off guard. This of course had less to do with her invitation and more with things being a little hot in Goth and he needing to lay low. Either way it suited her purposes just fine. Laughter trickled from her throat, her head shaking softly. Darkness what it would be like to move around as freely as he. It made her envious, and as much a chore as it was to keep track of her already she wasn't about to go running off to a different Territory at a moment's notice. No matter how romantic the notion was. “My male would hunt ye down and skin ye, then me.” she smirked. “I wish I could, and while I'm happy to hop out a window from time to time to see the Central Territory, even as far as yer way in Goth, I can't run off to Nharkava on a whim.” Not with a district to run and a Court to keep from going mad. No, Isbeil could have her fun, but she was still leashed. “Tomorrow night, you and I, dinner, drinks, dancing, a fight, what have ye. I know a little place we can go fer some excellent spirits and a bit of fun.”  Bending her leg, she pulled her foot slowly from his hand so his palms caressed the curve of her knee and the smooth flesh of that long stem. Perching her foot on his knee she leaned forward teasingly. “It's a date then?”

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #13 on: Feb 10, 18, 10:50:39 PM »
Excuse me, Lady Balton.” Darien said, taking on a tone of mock-offense complete with a hand on his chest as if to underline his shock.

I will have you know that the Darien Embers School for Charming Young Men does not condone thievery or any other skullduggery of which you might be thinking. We hold only the highest standards for attendance--” he said, stifling a snicker.

We hold the highest standards for attendance, citizenry, and respect for their fellow man--” and Darien lost it, unable to complete the sentence with a straight face. Darien laughed at the idea of being affiliated with a school in any fashion, given that the only school he’d ever gone to involved hard knocks and learning about life’s issues through painful experience. Even finding his Queen had occurred because he and Tylmandra had been trying to kill the same person on the same night. Darien’s belly laugh filled the room, tears nearly escaping his eyes as he sat back on the couch.

It probably ruined the mood of whatever they’d had going, but Darien was glad for Bell’s little joke. Things had been too damned dreary over the last few weeks, what with saving people’s lives and watching Tylmandra put herself in front of a Gray Jeweled maniac. Darien knew that he was too permissive with his Queen, but she’d not tried to change him since they met. It was only fair that he didn’t try to change her in turn.

He sobered up, but turned his head to look at her.

If I was one of your males, Bell, I’d serve in your Court happily and with distinction. I’ve taken a look around Balton District and your people are happy with you. A lot of Queens are...bad. Let’s just say bad. They think that their males are there for their own personal amusement. They give the bare minimum and demand a high return.” he said.

Not you, though. You’ve always given as much as you demand from everyone else. I respect that.” Darien said, shifting to face her once more. His gaze at her was more sober now though the heat from earlier was still there. She was a friend and Darien had few of those. Most people were just acquaintances, stepping stones, or allies of convenience. He saw Isbeil Balton differently, though he was loathe to admit that to her.

Couldn’t let her head get too big, lest she become one of those Queens.

Tomorrow night. It’s a date. But if we’re going to the fights, let’s make sure we get a private booth or something.  I’m allergic to large groups of people hopped-up on bloodsport. They give me hives.” Darien said.

Again, that teasing tone let her know that he was joking.

Mostly.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #14 on: Feb 16, 18, 02:40:47 PM »
Isbeil let him play it out, her smile broadening slightly each time. It actually took him a bit to crack, but at the first snicker she knew he wouldn't last much longer. Darien’s cheeks bunched on either side of his nose though he tried desperately to keep a straight face. His mock offense was crumbling before her eyes, flaking away with each word. He might catch the way her left eyebrow lifted forming a stiff peak and how utterly unimpressed she seemed, yet there was no hiding the curve of her lip even marked with the slightly bored expression.

“I fear for the future of our children.”  She smirked. “Lady Ackley is looking to increase the number of educational programs in Rockland. I will -not- be bringing this suggestion to ‘er.” She chuckled melodiously. “Lets keep ye being a mysterious entrepreneur instead.”

He paid her a high compliment, one she did not expect and it silenced the soft trickling of laughter from her throat. If Darien was one of her males she would be completely honored and terrified for him. Not because of anything she would do, but because she couldnt imagine him any different than he was now. Then again, one did not need to have claim in order to serve. In his own way, Darien divided himself into so many segments it was hard to piece a completely clear picture of the man sitting before her. Though there were times when those lines were less blurred and he showed her more than maybe even he had expected. Darien did not need to address her by title, or even her full name. She was exactly sure when he got into the habit of calling her “Bell” and she didn't rightly care. It was a sign of affection if there ever was one and she liked the sound of it. Leaning forward she let her foot slip back down to the carpet, her long bare leg still pointed at the toes. They watched one another for a moment, and she was perfectly content with the heavy silence. “Is that something you've seen?”  she asked about bad Queens, her eyes softening along with her smile.  Isbeil knew nothing of his Queen, but she didn't think he would be beholden to anyone who would treat him as a tool. “We don't have ta be bonded. In a way yer just as much mine, because I choose it.”  She knew she was claiming something profound, but Isbeil was not one to say things she didn't mean.

If Darien needed her, he knew where to go and she knew he would come if the situation was reversed. In a small way, that kept them close. He understood that she tried to keep a balance in her life, sometimes to the point of her own detriment, but loving her bonded meant treating them with worth. Darien saw that and it meant the world to her.  Extending a hand she motioned for him to take it, once he did she squeezed, extending just a sliver of her Touch and lacing it with a sense of gratitude. This was his home, if he ever needed it, not Darien Ember’s ever stayed long in one place. It did not bother her one bit to covet Darien, even though he belonged to someone else. As of yet she had found one male, and though they often disagreed on just about everything, Gale’s contributions in her life were priceless. Isbeil could only imagine...”What tomfoolery ye’d bring to my table..” she mused aloud, her nose wrinkling, scrunching up several freckles.

“Well, I'm assuming ye’ll be picking the location, scouting it out fer me safety and bringin’ me a gift if this is to be a proper date. Also, there is nothin wrong with a bit of bloodsport as long as both men get to limp out at the end. I never knew ye to be so sensitive.”  As much as the thrill of a fight excited her, she had her limits. Having seen a man die brutally at the hands of an out of control Warlord Prince during an off the books match, she was not eager to relive that experience. “Ye don't fancy a bit of sport yerself? I don't know Darien, as well as ye clean up, ye also strike me as a bit of a scrapper. Ye take risks, like..” Her hand waved  over her head indicating to her office and his break in. “Plus ye indulge me, and thats never a wise choice.”  Isbeil smirked, studying his handsome face carefully.

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #15 on: Feb 24, 18, 12:58:26 AM »
I bet you I could charm the pants off of Lady Ackley with my idea. But then she’d have the problem of, you know, being without pants. I have a weakness for women without pants.” Darien said, his tone teasing. He had no desire to present himself to the Lady of Rockland. She was probably a good deal more attractive than Hyster Megdalene and less morally upright, both things Darien could get behind. But it would all be ruined by his disdain for nearly every form of authority that didn’t reside in the hands of two different women he’d taken a liking to over the years. So Lady Ackley would be denied the boon of his presence just because Isbeil had decided to keep him to herself.

Such was life.

His compliment took her off-guard, as he’d intended it. If she’d simply flipped her hair and gone to discuss how amazing she was, Darien would have rolled his eyes and mimed falling asleep. But her thoughtful tone told Darien that she’d taken his words to heart. She offered her hand and he took it, surprised when he felt her Touch flowing into him. It wasn’t the same as Tylmandra’s Touch, not by any means, but he felt good knowing that she extended him the trust she’d give to one of her Bonded. Sometimes, Darien felt bad for Isbeil Balton.

Trusting me will only complicate your life.

He almost told her that, but he held his tongue.

Yes, I’ll pick the place, scout the location, and bring you flowers. I’ll even dress up like a man of the Court and pretend that a polite member of society.” Darien said.

We’ll eat, drink, and watch a few fights. Then I’ll escort you home like a gentleman and make sure that you get tucked into bed all proper like.” he said, drawing her up for her position to sit in his lap. It was the closest he’d been to her so far and now he was glad for it.

But indulge me by wearing something that I can peel you out of with ease at the end of night, will you? I’d hate to destroy one of your fancy dresses in my haste to enjoy your company further.” Darien said.

"But do me one other favor: I want you to say 'tomfoolery' again. I've actually got a list of words I want to hear you say with that accent of yours..." he said, kissing her shoulder.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #16 on: Feb 27, 18, 02:30:09 PM »
It was Isbeil’s turn to drop her head back and sigh. She offered him a smirk but it was charitable against her bored expression. This was their usual game. Darien said something grotesquely conceited and she pretended to not find it amusing. Occasionally they could switch off, though she loved to select topics that would surely put him to sleep, such as a discussion on hair accessories or the latest fashion. Things she had very little interest in and would utterly torture the man. “Yes Darien’s ye are the bane of pants everywhere. Skirts shiver at the sound of your name. My nethers quake.”  She chuckled, this time unable to keep a straight face herself. “Should I have a kilt stiched up for ye? Keeps everything important ventilated. I could see you in one. In fact I may insist.”  she smirked, a bit more flirtatiously.

Their relationship, whatever one wanted to call it was mutually beneficial, but most importantly it was enjoyable. Though her touch would not compare to that of his Queen, it was still a comforting form of affection which was not easily bestowed by this one in particular. Within these walls, she could adopt Darien Embers as her own, if only in spirit, but outside, she was well aware he was his own man with dealings that she was rather fortunate not to be privy to. Isbeil hoped that by now he would consider her home, even her presence, a respite when the muck of Goth became too much. He was hers, as much as she was loathe to admit and much to the chagrin of her male who would have to reassert the shields he slipped past.

Whatever polite formality that the Prince should have had for the Queen was tossed right out the window the moment the doors closed.  It gave Isbeil a chance to simply be, without having to weigh each word against a skewed political scale.

“Good luck with tha’ ” Lifting her drink, she took one last final sip of the aged whisky before setting the tumbler back down on the table. Plans were being set but she had to wonder exactly how much effort he would put on this impromptu date. .Would he cut corners? Either way there was no chance she wouldn't enjoy herself with such company at her arm.

Strong fingers encircled her own, having not relented the offered hand where she bestowed her gifts. The tug was light but she allowed it to pull her from her seat and onto his awaiting lap. This was not their usual form of contact that could extend as far as a brush of hand, or the male stepping quite close only to find himself humorously rebuffed. This time however the closeness felt a bit more natural. Their easy banter escalating something a little more risky. The request sent a bubble of laughter up through her smooth stomach and into her throat. Threading arm arm around his shoulder’s she arched a brow, tilting her head sending a rippling mass of copper waves across her shoulder. The color startling against the pronounced dusting on her cheeks. “I think ye’re biting off more than ye can chew.” she began, then realizing how quickly he could turn that statement around she raised a finger, pressing it to his lips. “Im not a piece of steak. Dun' ruin the moment.”   The second request however earned him a vibrant smile, eyes shrinking as her cheeks bunched.  It wasn't what she expected him to say, somehow it wasn't much better.

Lips brushed her bare shoulder. She felt their warmth linger, even after he raised his eyes to her once more. “Hmm, well tomfoolery...”  she whispered, leaning close to his ear. His hair brushing her lips as her breath paid the same favor to the sensitive arch of his ear. Each word spoken enunciated breathlessly.  “Shenanigans... poppycock....rubbish.” 

Licking her lips, she grinned at the price. “I'll expect a list of those in the morn’. I might be able to comply with those requests. Consider the kilt.”  she whispered, standing.  It was all too tempting to linger and allow him to trace those kisses up along her neck, but thats not how their games went. “Ill leave ye to yer plannin’. Get some rest...ye’ll need it.”  Making her way across the room to the door she glanced over her shoulder once. Yes, tomorrow would be an interesting day.

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #17 on: Mar 21, 18, 10:52:28 PM »
I love hearing the news about your nethers. Tell me a bit more, will you?” Darien suggested, teasing her a bit. There was little more to be done this evening, as Isbeil had already agreed to help. It was up to him to execute the rest of the plan, but Darien had a few irons in the fire already on that front. He’d have to go back to Goth soon and then he wouldn’t see Isbeil again for an undetermined period of time. There was a good chance he’d get himself killed between now and she’d never know. Or she could get killed and he wouldn’t know.

Rather than dwell upon the future, Darien ran his hand over Isbeil’s knee once more as she spoke a few words that he liked hearing in her accent. The Sapphire Prince was already thinking over a place or two where he could take her for a good time in addition to the fights that she loved so much. Darien hadn’t been to the Five Mark in years, but if old Zaff still worked there, Darien could show Bell a good time before he had to bring her home. He was already thinkng of a few ways to mollify her guard when Bell rose to her feet and started to walk away.

Asking her to come back was out of the question. She’d just turn him down and they’d start this little dance in the morning. Darien was fine with that. He watched Bell walk away, giving her a small wave when she turned back to look at him.

I’m not wearing a kilt.” he said, laughing.

She left the room and Darien sat back in the chair, watching the fire.

He had a date to plan for tomorrow.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #18 on: Apr 05, 18, 01:21:46 PM »
Leaving Darien alone in her offices was a sign of trust. The fact that her Steward manifested at that same door just a minute after he downed the rest of his drink meant she had done a bit of planning on her own in the interim.  The older Blood male bowed, giving Darien a wry look as though he wasn't exactly thrilled to have been awoken at such late an hour but was weathering it nonetheless. Nevermind that the man he was escorting had barged into the keep and his Queen had all but commanded that the slight be forgiven for she had seen no issue with it at the time.  Clearly had the Master of the Guard been in attendance it might have changed matters entirely.

Darien was escorted to a set of temporary rooms. The bedroom was furnished finely with a contemporary twist. A large set of doors led out to a balcony that looked over the Queen’s favored apple orchards. There was a large four poster bed, desk and even a spelled tub where he could bathe.  In the morning Darien would find servants entering his room with linens and a hefty morning breakfast. Most of it was Sceltic fare, biscuits and jam, tea, poached eggs over ham and a bowl of wheat and warm cream.  A note tucked under the saucer in Isbeil's elegant handwriting read: “Reconsider the kilt. You have the legs for it.”

He would not see Isbeil until later that evening as she was set on clearing her duties for the day. The estate was quiet but not without signs of life. Isbeil made it to her morning meetings, reviewed the financial logs for the week and even managed to tour a local orchard before the day was done. Her Master of the Guard was none too pleased with Darien’s appearance and spent the day shadowing her with complaints until she agreed to allow a contingency of guards to follow them, as long as they were discrete.

Despite Gale’s protests, Isbeil dressed in a long sleeved gray number with a short hem that flaunted her shapely legs. A pair of black two inch heels completed the look.  Her long crimson hair hung about her shoulders in messy tresses that seemed almost effortless. The truth was she was excited for the excursion, and was not shy about admitting as much. It wasn't every day she had such a fine escort outside of her own Bonded male, and even he was a bit too....stiff to allow her any sense of freedom, however misguided as it was. She did not need to worry about those things with Darien, he would simply allow her to be herself, Bell the woman and perhaps not just the Queen.  By the time he met her in the sitting room she had settled on a chaise, vanishing a long trench coat and her purse. “Punctual, I like tha’.”  she drawled with a smile, glancing him over.

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #19 on: Apr 14, 18, 01:33:04 AM »
Darien eventually retired to his rooms. He took advantage of the wonderful bath, enjoying the hot water so long that it grew cold. He filled the tub with hot water once more and soaked for a longer time while he contemplated his next moves. He wet his hands and then ran them over his face, dampening his beard. Then he washed his hair while he thought about when he’d have to go back to Goth versus how long he could safely stay away. Dharo also factored into his thoughts, as Darien wanted to get a good look at Driscoll Financial and its vault. 

By the time he crawled out of the tub, he had several ideas in mind. It was still another hour before sleep claimed while his mind examined each plan for flaws. Darien rarely felt safe enough to sleep anywhere that wasn’t home, but something about Isbeil’s home was soothing. For a moment, he thought the sheets had been laced with some kind of Craft. He scanned the room with his jewels and found nothing untoward or odd about the sheets or the room itself. The four poster bed seemed like too much at first glance, but once he lay down, his body relaxed and the aches and fatigues of the day finally caught up to him. He should have convinced Isbeil to come to bed with him. 

It was his last thought before darkness claimed him.

He woke when he realized that he was being watched.

Later, Darien would regret calling the flame to his hand and scaring the poor Hearth Witch half to death. But when he caught a couple of the household staff entering his room to bring him food, Darien reacted on instinct. The only reason the fireball didn’t launch from his hand was that Isbeil came to mind just then. It was her home. These were her people. He was a guest here and harming her people was a poor way to show gratitude. They left the food and exited the room in short order, leaving Darien to eat in peace. He snorted at her little note.

Still not wearing a kilt, Bell. Haven’t even shaved my legs.” he said, to no one in particular, while chewing a mouthful of biscuit. After breakfast, Darien left the estate on an errand of his own, going into town for awhile. Eventually, he returned with a few purchases to make sure he looked good this evening. He tended to his hair, debating for the ninety-eighth time with himself about cutting it short again. He decided against it, but narrowly.

He took another bath, because he could, and then tied his hair back, trimmed his beard, and then dressed for the evening. He wore a black suit with a golden tie, striped with black, and black leather shoes. He could have been a member of her First Circle for all of the courtly polish he displayed and when he found her in the sitting room, Darien executed a flawless bow, deep and respectful to the District Queen.

I wanted to be here ten minutes earlier, waiting for you, but...I got a little carried away with the tub. That thing is marvelous. You could probably make a billion credits by mass producing that thing.” Darien said, pointing upstairs to where the tub was located.

You look wonderful, Isbeil. Truly, you do.” he said.

Am I permitted to escort you this evening? Or will your court insist that we stand five feet apart at all times?” Darien asked, flashing a teasing wink to the Master of the Guard.

He was not amused.




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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #20 on: Jun 13, 18, 01:23:26 PM »
News of the potential fire spread quicker than any flame throughout the estate. By the time Isbeil had heard, her guest had summoned a small inferno in his hand and nearly sent her staff leaping into the nearby pond.  Funny part was that no alarm went off and while Isbeil found the event absolutely hysterical, Gale was none too pleased.  The Hearth Witch was accustomed to entering rooms as she wished, most of the time the visiting elite viewed her as nothing more than a convenient piece of the decor which occasionally left snacks.  It only proved to Isbeil how far removed Darien was to court life.  A big part of her preferred it that way.

Darien hadn't set anything on fire, just perhaps some bladders.  As far as she was concerned, no harm no foul.

He really had to come visit more often.

However when he met her just at the landing and bowed she had to take a moment to consider if she hadn't been wrong about how easily he could fit in court.  Darien cut a dashing figure in the dark, tailored suit. Her escort for the evening was all sleek, straight lines. The gold striped tie was a nice touch,  adding just the right amount of color against the sun kissed ivory of his skin. His hair wasn't cut, which was a relief, there was something about the way it fell over his eyes when he was laughing, or how he brushed it with a puff of breath that made him seem just out of place enough to be dangerous. Isbeil recalled what she had said the other night about taking Darien as her own if she had the chance, and realized she meant it.

“There are four of them in the estate, copper lined, it keeps the water warmer for a bit longer. The master suite has the largest. Ill have to show ye sometime.”  she smirked at him not knowing which would entice him more, the tub, or the idea of her in it.  “Thank ye. I wouldn of thought it but ye clean up like pedigree.”  Isbeil smirked, Darien was fully aware of how Isbeil felt about unearned status. “Considering I have left the fate of me night to ye, I think it best we stick close.”  Isbeil glanced over her shoulder, giving her Master of the Guard a none too apologetic look though she managed to make a terrible effort at it. He almost rolled his eyes.

The guards would follow, but unseen. That was the only way Gale was able to win any argument. As far as the Queen was concerned, this was her night.  Stepping closer to Darien she felt the Guard stiffen, but stay back. Pinching his tie she fixed it. Her perfume was floral but a bit spicy.  Pale blue eyes met his and she smiled sheepishly. It was the kind of look that could drive a man into all sorts of insanity if only to see it again.  Once he raised his arm, her own laced into it. “I can't wait to see what ye have planned.”

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #21 on: Jul 21, 18, 03:13:55 PM »
Darien felt the eyes of Isbeil’s Master of the Guard on him, still sore from the bit about the fire earlier. Darien felt a little bad about scaring Isbeil’s staff, but it wasn’t true contrition. He didn’t like surprises unless he was the one giving them. All the same, Darien knew quickly that his presence was the most excitement that the Balton Court had seen in some time. He smiled a sharp little smile as Bell came forth to tell him about the tubs. He really did think that some of the Aristos in the other Districts he visited would love those tubs. So when she told him that there were others, Darien grinned.

Yes, you will, Lady. In fact, you’ll need to show me all of them. One by one, in detail. That’s the only way that I can tell you how to properly market them to the right crowds.” Darien said, placing his hand dangerously low on her back.

Yes, stick close. No telling what kind of rogues and lowlifes are out there, waiting to take advantage of a pretty young Queen with such a lovely accent. Come on. There’s a wonderful little Nharkavan restaurant run by a friend of mine not far from here. Nharkavan food. They branched out to Goth awhile back, but the owner likes Balton District far better.

Less chance of being accidentally murdered by a street gangs, you know?
” Darien said, offering the Queen his arm.

They made small talk in the carriage while her people followed along. Darien, for his part, kept a Sapphire shield over Isbeil just for everyone’s peace of mind. When they arrived at the restaurant, Darien was out of the carriage first, scanning the area for any danger or people out of the ordinary. Once he was comfortable with Isbeil’s safety, he would help her out of the carriage and into the establishment. The owner, an older Nharkavan male with graying hair at his temples, stepped forward and greeted Isbeil with a Protocol-perfect bow. But he smiled when he saw Darien, offering the Prince a warm handshake, followed by a hug.

Prince Darien, it’s good to see you, my friend. How’s that lovely little sister of yours?

She’s good, Sanjay. Off on an adventure of her own. Lady Balton and I are having an adventure of our own tonight.” he said.

Sanjay smiled and seated them in a private area of the restaurant. Once they were sitting, Sanjay brought out a bit of garlic naan to start them off, along with glasses of cool water.

It’s a quiet start to the evening, but I think things will pick up.” he said.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #22 on: Sep 27, 18, 05:03:21 PM »
“I'm not in the business of tubs. However if yer lookin’ fer some recommendations, I may have ta let ye take a dip. May even be able to point yeh to tha' best one.” She smirked, arching a playful brow at him. The sooner they retreated from her chalet the better, already she could feel her male becoming agitated by the Prince’s proximity to his Queen and she didn't wish to test the Warlord’s patience. They were a calm enough caste, but one didn't test their luck.  She had little concern there would be any damage done to Darien, but if he intended to be a fixture in her life, or at least visit recreationally, it would suit them to not make an enemy of her Master of Arms.

“I’d think these rogues would recognize one of their own.” she smirked as they loaded into the carriage. Darien had planned the entire night. He knew her well enough and what she would like, so she wasn't too alarmed when he suggested Nharkavan food. To be honest Scent cuisine was rather bland, a lot of breads and stews and she had been a bif of a coward to try more exotic fare. Despite The Hill being a far stretch from the crowded, industrial, maze that was Goth, it had its charm and offered many of the same accommodations at a smaller scale.

He also knew Isbeil abhorred the gangs and had done her best to keep them from her district. They were an infestation that needed to be treated the moment it presented itself lest it spread. A few times a year she was alerted to one group or another trying to take root in her cities. These were met not only with resistance but with force. The Sceltic Queen believed that justice would prevail, but that didn't that law extended past the streets.  It was good to get away, even for a short time. Isbeil felt the pitter patter of excitement that came with Darien’s company. No doubt he would take her to a fight, something she couldn't easily attend on her own, or rather in the company of her guards. There was a bit more anonymity with him which she appreciated.

The scent of spice greeted her first, even before the friendly restaurateur did. Though she was unfamiliar with the man, she smiled, nodding politely and complimented him on the restaurant. Small, but quaint, the establishment was clean and colorfully furnished. She was surprised to find they would be seated on on the ground amidst colorful embroidered pillows and hanging silks. “Ill admit, I'm ignorant when it comes ta this lot. Not a complaint, but Im hopin' no one finds it rude if I sneeze.“  she said glancing over a single paged menu, then whispered "What is that smell?" Whatever it was tickled her nose. It was almost spicy, but earthy with a bit of bitterness.  "Quiet is good, fer now, it gives us a chance ta chat.”  she smirked, resting her elbows on the smooth wooden table, her fingers laced so she could perch her chin atop them. A seductive grin stretched across her lips. “Sister aye?” she asked. “How old is she? I realize I know little about yer family, step monster and step bastards excluded. “

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #23 on: Oct 30, 18, 11:02:56 PM »
Darien got comfortable in his chair, looking around at the various patrons in the restaurant tonight. The scent of curry (what Isbeil had picked up on) sparked his appetite further. The only way to get better Nharkavan food than this place was to go directly to Nharkava and eat with the natives. Ishanvi’s mother was the best cook that Darien knew, and Darien knew several talented ones. He hoped Isbeil liked the food.

He really didn’t want to have to stop being friends with her over her poor taste in food.

Nharkavans are a wonderful people and very willing to educate those who’ve never dined with them before. They invite everyone to join them at their table. Unfortunately, I think their open natures are what led to their current problems with Glacia. Glacians are just shit individuals most of the time.” Darien said, wholly uncaring if any Glacians were in earshot of his statement. If they took offense, let them suffer it in silence. If they wanted to say something, well...having the District Queen sitting across from him wasn’t a bad thing, either.

What you smell, and will hopefully enjoy, is chicken curry. It has a little bit of spice to it, but it’s a wonderful dish. I think those and a few samosas will make you a fan of Nharkavan food for life. Once I get some food and chai into you, you’ll be begging me to spirit you away to Nharkava.” Darien grinned.

My sister, and my younger brother, are both from Nharkava. They’re both twenty-two and still finding their way in the world. They’ve both got Long-Lived blood in them from their mother’s side, so that makes for some interesting discussions now and again.” Darien said.

The step-monster doesn’t know about them. At least, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t. After things with my mother, he got better at keeping things from his wife. And I saw no reason to tell her when I found out about them.” Darien said, a half-shrug as he looked at her.

Prince Sanay, the owner of the establishment who’d greeted them upon their arrival, arrived to take their orders. Darien asked for naan and samosas to start, deciding to take it easy on Isbeil for her first experience. Sanjay grinned and said he knew just the thing, before heading to the back to get started.

How are things with your family, Isbeil? Does running the District let you make enough time for everyone in your life?” Darien asked.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #24 on: Dec 31, 18, 10:45:34 PM »
They spoke amicably, ribbing one another when necessary and sharing in that clever banter they both enjoyed so much. It was refreshing to have him over, even for such a short time. The only bad thing was that she couldn't expect when he would show up. Once Darien was sure that the dangers were minimal he extended his hand, beckoning her out of the cab. Tugging down the length of her micro skirt over the tops of her thighs she slipped next to him and was surprised to see the honey skinned Nharkavan male awaiting to greet them. “Sister?”  Isbeil asked, once she had greeted the restaurateur and they were led to their booth. The lighting was dim, private almost romantic. Natural candlelight danced against the silk shrouded walls. Shadows played beyond as figures moved about the restaurant. A guard stationing himself at the entry of the private dining space. “This place is lovely.”  she said settling down on the ground atop plush pillows. Tucking her sculpted legs to one side she watched him. 

This wouldn't be all he had in store, though it was definitely different from their regular routine. No, Darien would make this night memorable, she was counting on that. The food was just the beginning of the adventure. “Ive heard some terrible things. We've been asked to take in some light jeweled refugees. I'm not against it, as long as accommodations can be made. Meh district is eclectic, Id like to keep it that way. Its horrible whats happening there. The use of collars, its bull shit.” she shook her head with a sigh. It didn't seem to phase the Queen if anyone else over heard either of them. If one of them didn't like what they were saying they could just stop listening.

“Is it safe for them there?” she asked, this was the most she had ever heard of his family.  “Except, yer sister has claim. Legal claim.” she added, that could be an option for him. “You all get along well?”

As if lured by Darien’s prediction, the samosas were brought to the table. Isbeil inspected them, and the small dishes of colorful sauces to choose from. Taking one with a fork, she dipped in the green sauce and bit down. The samosa was soft, the meat insite tender and more flavor than she expected. The sauce was minty and cool, deceptively so because the next minute her mouth was burning.  Having enough tact and unwilling to show she had erred she picked up her glass, taking a sip. She wasn't sure when she took another breath, but the freckles on her cheek lit up like witchlight. “Good.” cupping a hand over her mouth, at this point her eyes watered just a bit, but she found she was able to weather the heat. The inside of her cheeks tingled. “Hm. MmMm.”  she cleared her throat and shrugged her shoulder. “I wish it did. Sabe is as reclusive as ever. She's always lost in the clouds, so pegging her down is a test in patience.” Darien had met her younger sister, a crimson haired Black Widow who always seemed to wander about dreamily. She was nice enough if she bothered to acknowledge your presence, but she was often aloof, detached. “I see Jack at Odelle’s Court regularly and me parents  are enjoying visiting the Territories.  The moment we got old enough not to kill ourselves they took off and lived their lives. Selfish bastards.”  Chuckling she  smiled at him. “This is good, that sauce is violent.” Setting down her fork she leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table and studied him. “What do ye want the money fer. Be honest with me. Yer not about riches, just deep pockets, what would ye do if yeh can do anything, go anywhere? Clearly tryin' new things doesnt scare ye.”

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #25 on: Mar 21, 19, 11:32:01 PM »
Yeah, I’ve a sister and a brother, twins, on my father’s side. He got around.” Darien said, taking up one of the samosas once Isbeil claimed one for herself. He watched her try the green sauce. He almost stopped her, but he knew Isbeil. Warning her about it would have just fanned the flames of her curiosity even further. So she bit down, enjoyed it, and then quickly realized that there was some kick to the that particular sauce. It wasn’t one of Darien’s favorites, as he didn’t care for mint, but he didn’t hate it, either. Still, he was glad that she tried it. He knew lots of people who wouldn’t have even come here just because it was “foreign” food.

Collars are a scourge that needs to be eradicated, along with the people who use them. Glacia could use a visit from Lord Black, if he actually exists. It’s strange to still be unsure whether or not there’s an actual Black Jewel in Little Terreille. Walking around with that kind of power just makes me wonder...why now?” Darien asked rhetorically. That was the part that didn’t fit to him, in all of this. The Sapphire Prince, as rough-around-the-edges as he was, as much as he hated to conform in his own life, needed understand the motives and things of the people around him. Clean thoughts and straight lines made him happy, but life was rarely anything but clean.

He gathered a red, slightly sweeter sauce onto his spoon and enjoyed it with his samosa. Sweet, with a hint of heat, it made him smile again to be sitting with a friend and enjoying the a fun evening. He could have done this with the rest of the Unchained, but sometimes he needed to step away from the group and gather his own thoughts. That made it easier to understand (most of) them.

Ishanvi’s mother won’t let anything happen to them. But the Glacians don’t care about the rights of anyone that’s not Glacian. Their helping of Nharkava is just a way to take what doesn’t belong to them.” Darien said. His tone of voice  gave the clear indication that he had much more to say on the matter, but he didn’t continue. He didn’t want to ruin this night with politics. Isbeil had enough of that daily.

Sabe’s a free spirit. Can’t hold them down or they find ways to make you pay for it.” he said of her sister.

The money question earned a half-smile from the Sapphire Prince. He knew it was coming. Isbeil was too smart not to ask it. She was putting herself out there for him.

I want the money for a lot of reasons, Bell. My inheritance was stolen from me. I learned to survive without it, but..it was still mine. It was the only thing my father ever gave me. I want the power that it brings, though. Little Terreille is filled with opportunities for those who can take them. That requires cashflow or friends in high places. I can’t just join a Court. I’d have to work my way up into someone’s trust.” he said, trying not to mine how distasteful that sounded.

I don’t usually like to talk about ‘if’ because that way usually lies madness. For you, though…” he said, stroking his bearded chin for a moment while he considered the answer.

Someday, my Queen will want to rule somewhere. I can’t give her much of anything. To be quite honest, she doesn’t need me. I’m her only bonded but she was doing just fine before I came along.  Even now I have to fight the urge to follow her everywhere she goes because she never asked that of me. I’d do it for her in a second but...I don’t know. I wonder, sometimes, why Mother Night put us together. I need her a lot more than she needs me.” he said. Isbeil saw the tension in Darien’s shoulders and arms, indicating that this was a harder subject to talk about that even politics.

Anyway, I still want to give her the world. I’m not sure how else I can serve her if I don’t bring something major to the table. With my luck, she’ll bond ten males and I’ll have to find a way to really stand out. Having the money to help her build her dreams and live a better life has to be a good start.

Otherwise, I don’t know what else I can do for her.
” he said.

I mean, how do you sort out your feelings with your males as a Queen?” he asked, hoping for some insight into Tylmandra‘a mind through a sister in her caste.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #26 on: Mar 27, 19, 03:36:41 PM »
“I’ve heard, there are more rumors than facts. Its very confusin’, how can no one verify that there is a Black Jewel in our midst? They are rare enough as it is. I'm thinkin’ its that mystery that keeps the rumors and the fears spreading. It’s a powerful tool, one that the wrong people can use. It makes me nervous for our Territory Queen.  Amery’s is one of the best people I know, and I cannae help but feel she could be a target one day. Whoever this Lord Black is, we dun know their intentions. Too many of the wrong people have access to unimaginable power. It makes me wonder why all the time.”  They knew nothing. That’ was the problem after all.  Then again, someone in the Court had to know more than the led on, it was impossible that no one would have known of the existence of a Black Jewel.

Following his lead, she pinched a samosa with her finger and spooned it the red sauce over it once he was done. This one was much better. The mint was cool, but the green sauce had a bite that was a bit too strong for her taste.  If Darien wanted to impress her with how well travelled he was, he certainly had a good start. There was never a time Isbeil was truly alone, not even with plains clothed guards lurking about so sharing a nice meal outside of the estate with someone who might not have been completely vetted was refreshing. Gale didn’t have to trust Darien, but the Queen knew that while under his care, she would be looked after.

Nodding softly she agreed with the sentiment. Glacia intentions were never altruistic. Nharkava was just more territory with resources to pillage. “ That seems like the whole point of the dark Religion don’t it? Taking things that aren’t yers. First step is claiming that others are unworthy of it.”  As a Light Jeweled Queen this insult struck home hard.  Luckily however, they were not in Glacia and Little Terrielle was a bit too capitalistic in nature to allow insane religion to influence it.

“Hmm. Free is a good word for it. Not the right one though.”  Smirking she popped the samosa into her mouth and grinned while she chewed. “Some would say the same about me. Too free spirited. I suppose there are worse things to be called.”

Dinner was pleasant and all, and she didn’t wish to ruin it with talk of money, but it was necessary to figure out where Darien’s head was at.  She would be putting herself in direct line with investors, if she wasn’t one herself, and possibly with his Step-Monster. Having all the facts, good or bad was a must, but so was understanding his motivation. Over the years Darien had asked for things, small favors that had clear lines of sight. He didn’t lie to her, and that’s why the door was still open. That and she knew that given enough time he would pay every favor back in full and respect her decisions.  If she knew nothing else about him, there was at least that. Darien respected and maybe even cared about her.  So she listened, and was surprised for the motivation. Money was the seed to opportunity. It unlocked doors and he knew that well enough. Darien was trying to invest, not so much in himself, but in his Queen, so he could feel useful.  There was an insecurity there that felt completely out of character for him.  Darien didn’t talk too deeply about his family, let alone his feelings, but he was displaying a level of vulnerability to her that was intimately touching. 

Reaching across the linen table top she turned her hand, wrist up for him to take.  Though no craft sank into his bones, it was the simplest form of comfort she could offer him.  Explaining any of this wasn’t easy for him, she doubted he expressed how useless he felt at times where his queen was concerned.  It made her wonder, how much of that was him, or the female’s neglect of her male.  That triggered a protective jolt in her stomach.  “Have ye just gone with ‘er? See how it goes without bein’ asked?” she wondered. Isbeil knew nothing of Tylmandra except that she was highly independent and did not rule, which was interesting. “Money is not goin to bring ye closer, or fill whatever gap ye feel there is between ye.  Though havin it will give ye other things ye may want, it cant give ye that.  I admire that ye want to do this fer yerself, for yer Queen. She is lucky to have ye.  I also understand what it feels like to be robbed, and if nothin’ else, that’s exactly why I did agree to help ye, bribery with food an vengeance are the quickest way to me heart.”  Smiling softly she wrinkled her freckled nose at him.

She considered his question. That was where the insecurity lay. He felt if there were more males bonded to his Queen that he would be pushed to the back of the pack in her affection.  “You bring this. Im not goin to blow smoke up yer ass and tell ye how handsome and charming and absolutely perfect ye are. Two out of those three are a lie, but I will say that ye have a keen mind, yer trouble and I think that’s truer than even could possibly know. Yew bring a unique perspective.   As fer me, I don’t. I have Gale, but Ive put some thought into it. I love Gale, he has a piece of me heart in his hands, but there are more pieces to me, even to him. He can love another, possibly as much as he does me. No one can replace him, or shove him back. Were I to bond to another they too would become precious, their personality would be different. I would feel close to them fer different reasons. One doesn’t diminish the other.  Also, ye have a benefit as the first of Tylmandra’s bonded. Walking that line long enough with her gives you a perspective that would take others years to achieve.  I trust me bonded more than anyone in this world, sometimes, more than meself. Im sure yet Queen feels the same, even if maybe she doesn’t express it as often as she should.” It felt like Darien needed to know and he simply wasn’t getting it from the person who should assure him. Part of her wanted to be that person, only the Darkness had other things in mind. So instead, she chose to be that person for him right now.

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #27 on: Apr 30, 19, 11:15:51 PM »
Darien nodded in concession of Isbeil’s point. There was no way for anyone to verify Lord Black’s existence, save for another Black Jewel. The thought unnerved him, momentarily, that there could be more than one person bearing a Black Jewel walking the world at one time. Darien upgraded that unnerving sensation to genuine fear at the very thought. He spared a glance at his Sapphire. His power could level city blocks or kill a lot of people in a short amount of time, if he put his mind to it. He thought of Ishanvi’s Red, and Tylmandra’s, knowing the damage that they could do if the mood struck them. Silver’s Gray made her capable of healing nearly any injury, wound, or disease.

And a Black still called upon greater power than all of them.

Problem with power, from what I see, is that the people who deserve it least are usually the most capable of getting it.” Darien said. “They’re the ruthless ones, the nasty people who don’t mind controlled slaughter to drive a point home. The people who deserve it, conversely, are the ones who are content with what they get. So they don’t see it.

Darien took a bite of the naan and let the taste of the buttered bread stop his portion of the conversation. He was a Prince and, like most of members of his caste, he thought too much. He theorized. He planned. He schemed to get more of what he wanted even when it took from someone else’s share. He plotted to secure the lives of those he cared for and, deep down, he didn’t give a shit about anyone outside that circle. Isbeil was part of that circle an he wanted her to prosper.

He sighed, then took a sip of his water when she asked him about Tylmandra. He couldn’t answer right away. He never wanted to speak ill of his Queen. She was who she was. Darien often felt that he wasn’t enough for her, to keep up with the life she lived. “No, I haven’t. See, when I get too close to her, the need to be a male kicks into overdrive. I want to keep her safe. I want to protect her, even from herself. Her need to do what she wants and my need to keep her from that…” he trailed off, then bashed his closed fists against each other a couple of times to symbolize the conflict and butting of heads. He took Isbeil’s hand for a moment and gave it a squeeze.

How do you decide which piece of you he gets?” Darien asked. Which part of Tylmandra did he have? Was he happy with the part that he had? No. a voice within snapped. It sounded selfish, wanting more from his Queen than he had. Some poor chumps out there never found the woman who made them complete. Darien had, but the instinct to protect her was one that he tried to temper and push down at every opportunity. And something within him just couldn’t live with pushing back against his nature to protect what was his.

I should talk to her about all this, but I don’t even know how to start the conversation. We’re not...feelings people.” Darien said, laughing at how silly that sounded. He took another sip of water, washing the taste of those words out of his mouth. He should know Tylmandra better than anyone. He should know her mind, at least a little. But he still worried that someone else would come along who knew her better. Darien didn’t know how to live with that, or the idea of bond-brothers.

Do you and Gale talk to each other about stuff like this?” he asked.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #28 on: May 13, 19, 02:18:18 PM »
The topic, unlike the spicy food was not sitting well with Darien. Even so much lighter than him, she could sense the shift in his scent as it laced with concern over things and forces he could not control.  It made her nervous to know there was a Black so carefully hidden in Little Terrielle, but she wasn’t fooling herself into believing that no one knew their identity. No one was talking, however, let alone to a District Queen many miles away from the Black Jewels burrow.

“Sometimes ambition has a way of lending itself ta tyranny.” She agreed. Humility while a virtue set a low bar for satisfaction while there were a selfish few who fed off the world around them.  Darien had made a good point. Power could also warp a well-meaning person and turn them into something they wouldn’t recognize. The Blood were easily susceptible to this.
Following his lead she claimed a piece of naan and broke it into smaller pieces and dipped, alternating between the red and green sauce until she felt she could get accustomed to both. The red had a flavor that she couldn’t verily pinpoint and while she wasn’t sure if she liked it, for some reason she continued to reach for it.  Though they had known each other for many years, her days as a village Queen long behind her, they had rarely engaged in such deep conversation, at least not having to do with personal matters. Darien was hard to crack. It felt like he shared only just enough to keep discussions interesting and nothing more. This was different. He was lost, seeking guidance not aid from her. He was speaking to a friend.

She nodded when his fists together. His Queen was strong-willed, spirited and she didn’t take lightly to being handled.  Isbeil offered him a soft smile as a signal to continue.  Maintaining a balance between the duty of a Queen and the need of her males to have their efforts validated was difficult, especially when one or the other was unwilling to give ground. Darien traveled often, so it felt as though these separations were purposeful in order to keep the conflict down.  Maybe it left him feeling insecure about his place when he wasn’t sure where he stood.
“Aye, well I  don’t decide. Its just somethin’ that happens. They carve their way into yer heart and take what's theirs.  I have ta be willing to let it go though, that part of me they are takin’, it's frightening.” 

She looked to him, unsure if she had ever been able to express the way it felt to be a part of someone. “The instinct is to want it all, like power, you want to consume the other person, hold em close, keep em safe and yours.” Her feathery brow raised as if to question how he felt. “I think some Queen’s don’t know how to do that, an that’s not a slight on their ability to rule or how much they care, just how much vulnerability they are willing to share. It's not an easy thing to admit.”  She took a sip of water to moisten her throat. “When I met Gale I was in a rough spot. Id been betrayed, and hurt, I felt used. I was furious.  He came in and it took a minute, but he was that warm blanket that stamped out my rage. He was that calming force, my compass. He has my trust whereas I thought I would never be able to give to anyone else. He didn’t ask fer it, he took it.” She smiled fondly. “I love ‘im, no matter how much I sometimes want ta get away from 'im.” Smirking playfully she hummed and nodded once, the hand not holding his adjusting the shoulder of her silver dress.

“I think ye should. Id start off with the truth. Tell her how you feel and ask how ye can serve. In the end that’s what all this is about, ye want to be invaluable.” He laughed softly and she grinned, her freckles brightening with the expression. “Sometimes, but he isn’t a feelings person either at least not verbally. When he needs me, I just know. She’ll know too. Im sure it will come up if I bond to another.” Isbeil had a thought and tilted her head, copper waves spilling across her shoulder. ”Does she know about me?”

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #29 on: May 15, 19, 11:16:55 PM »
Isbeil’s words made sense but they offered no comfort. The mechanics of a heart-bond (Darien didn’t think at all about how he was trying to apply logic to the heart) were not quantifiable like money. He force the connection between them to deepen. Only time would make that happen and Darien worried that time was not on his side in that endeavor. He wanted more than what they had now, but he was limited by what she was willing to give him just as much as she was limited by what he chose to share with her. Darien wished that he could let go of his secrets, but he had too many built up over too many years to just part with them freely. He didn't think that he was nearly as interesting without them.

She’s a good Queen. Truly, she is. She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever known, but I don’t really know how to explain it. I tell myself that you two would like each other, but I’m not sure. She’s nearly as rough-and-tumble as I am.” Darien said, laughing softly. The expression lightened his eyes for a moment and made him seem a little lighter and less troubled.

I remember the night that we met, I...I was in a bad place, Isbeil. I didn’t care what happened to me. I just needed to burn someone else down and make them pay for someone that I cared about. If I died taking them out, I was fine with that trade.” Darien said, taking up another piece of the naan.

Then I saw her and I knew that I had to live. I couldn’t die there and leave her alone. I watching her leave, not knowing if I’ll ever see her again.” Darien said, trapping the fingers of his free hand against the table as nervous energy coursed through his veins. “Half the time I skip town, it’s just so I don’t have to be in town without her.

Darien picked up his glass of water and took a sip. Why did he say that? Why did say that to Isbeil? He set the glass down.

No, she doesn’t know about you. We don’t really talk about where we go when we’re not near each other unless we’re planning something. We never really decided on that. It just happened that way and neither of us changed it.” he said.

Would you want to know if Gale had another Queen for a friend?” he asked.



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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #30 on: May 23, 19, 05:54:03 PM »
The way Darien spoke about his Queen was heartwarming. She hoped Gale would be as expressive when sharing his thoughts about her with his friends. He had so few, mostly because he worked so hard to keep her safe. Sometimes she felt a little guilty for monopolizing so much of his time. If she could abscond for short periods of time, there was no reason why he couldn’t either. Perhaps it was because he was all alone, carrying the weight of her care on his shoulders even if that was furthest from the truth. Maybe that was Darien’s worry. When she bonded another male, he would lose a bit of ground.

“I'm sure we’d get along fine. We both put up with ye, no doubt she drinks. It will be fine.”  She assured him with a soft smile. He dove into the story of their first meeting which left a lot more questions than it did answers. The whole event sounded interesting, what were they doing at the same place at the same time? Who was he trying to hurt, and why? Isbeil didn’t think that cheerful Darien could ever get to such a dark place, so hearing him admit it felt like a precious secret she had to keep.

He looked just as surprised to reveal it.

He asked how she would feel if Gale had a Queen friend and Isbeil pursed her lips. “Before or after I scratch ‘er eyes out?”  she smiled, laughing softly. “Id want ta know, mostly because I'm ankle deep in shite politics, so that’s good information. She cannae take him from me. He is mine, just like ye’re hers. I can only borrow ye fer a time unless we go an do something stupid and blood bond. Then I’ll totally understand why she might be perturbed. That’s a different situation than the one yer worryin’ over.” Gale could have all the friends he wanted, but then again he also understood how that could affect her politically.

“Whatever it is you do…are ye safe? “ Of course he wasn’t and for the first time, she didn’t mine the pretty lie. This was one of those rare occasions. “Ye cant claw yer way into the forefront of her mind. If she is any kind of Queen ye’re there already. No one can replace ye Darien.”  She smiled knowingly at this. 

The waiter returned with their food, savory plates of unknown delights, she looked down and wondered about her own courage. A lot of it looked like a weirdly colored stew and the scent of clove was so strong it made her wriggle her nose. "Ye guarantee I can eat this and be well enough to travel? It would be a shame if our night was cut short."

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Re: Mining for small favors and big rewards
« Reply #31 on: May 23, 19, 06:23:59 PM »
Now wait just a minute! I resemble that remark, Lady Balton.” Darien said, his tone full of mock-outrage at the insinuation that he drove Tylmandra to drink. In reality, Darien had no idea if he ever caused Tylmandra that kind of worry. She was always so confident and cool (until she wasn’t) that Darien didn’t think she’d ever have a drink over his behavior or how much time he spent away from her. He’d have to observe her a bit more to figure out how she spent her time without him. It occurred to him that he could just ask her, but the idea of being rejected by her stung deeper than he expected. He’d figure something out.

I would never drive a woman to--” Darien paused mid sentence. He could remember a few times that his mother stayed up with her “special juice” after he’d done something boneheaded. Andra, before her injury, had also had more than one ale in his name out of worry. Again, he wondered if he’d ever stressed out Tylmandra enough to drink.

I would never drive a woman to drink on purpose. I’m an absolute delight to be around and there are legions of ladies out there who’d love nothing more than spend an evening with a strong drink and my good company. Legions, I say.” Darien told her, picking up his fork and gesturing toward her to emphasize the point.

You do have deeper concerns where Gale is concerned. I admit that. Everyone talks about how cutthroat Warlord Princes are, but you Queens...ooh, you Queens.” Darien said, drawing the thumb of his free hand across his throat to emphasize how lethal politics could get for Queens. They didn’t even have to do any fighting! They could just send their males to do all the killing for them! Darien would gladly lob a fireball or six at nearly any other man who served nearly any other woman.

He smiled and sipped his water, though, when she asked if he was safe. He put the glass down. “Sometimes, yes. Most of the time, no.” he said, being uncharacteristically direct with Isbeil in that moment. She was his friend and he liked her, but she’d probably be the next woman to life a glass in his name, whether he was alive or dead. He appreciated her sentiment that he couldn’t be replaced. He didn’t agree with it, but he had the grace to take a compliment and the food stop his mouth.

Right after he reassured her, of course.

I’ve never had a bad meal here, Isbeil. All the food is wonderful but some things are acquired tastes. I know that Sceltic food can be bland, so may want to avoid those.” he said, pointing to red-tinged beef on her left side. He loved curry beef but the spice was off-putting to some people. Leave it to a man who liked fire to enjoy anything that could start one in a person’s stomach.

It would be a shame, yes.” Darien said, nodding in acknowledgement before he grinned at her like the cat that ate the canary.

But it would be a hell of a story, wouldn’t it?