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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: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...  (Read 547 times)

Description: (Set in 188 PP)

Offline Ilir Dutra

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Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« on: Feb 20, 18, 04:54:34 PM »
His fist slammed into the other man’s cheek bone and he felt it crack. It was the final blow in a fight that felt like it had gone on for hours. He saw the spittle flying from the other man’s swollen lips, his eyes slide shut and his body flying back to land with a thick, meaty smack against the dockyard.

Ilir stood over him his chest heaving, his fists still clenched. He was bleeding from his lip and had an open cut above one eye. His shirt stuck to him with sweat and blood that he didn’t know who belonged to.

There was a loose circle of men around the two of them as they’d been fighting, jeering and laughing, shouting out encouragements or detractions as the brawl had raged. They stood now like pillars, quiet as death looking on as victor loomed over the fallen.

In that minute as Ilir stared down into the mangled, swollen and bleeding face of his opponent he couldn’t remember the man’s name. He couldn’t even remember what had started the fight. It could have been a simple insult, it could have been a contest. It could have been a million things or nothing and it didn’t matter. Ilir didn’t know. The rage that coursed through him when he was fighting still flowed and the ebbing of it was slower than it should have been. Every muscle stayed tensed, his fists stayed clenched. He was waiting, though, watching. And then the man’s chest rose as a ragged breath pulled it’s way into his lungs.

“Move him.” Ilir growled, finally lifting his eyes to the circle of men. They’d started to dissipate, but a few still stood like statues. Two of those moved forward, slowly, cautiously as if they could feel the anger and the power rolling off of Ilir’s body. Ilir didn’t move, didn’t give them any more clearance to get closer to the body without getting closer to him.

His stance loosed just slightly, the rage starting to finally fade. He pulled a hand through his hair. It was wet too. He had a large knot on the back of his head that he prodded at gently. It was then that he felt it… sensed it? Smelled it? It was something that felt utterly foreign to the dockyard he’d become so accustomed to. Everything here was wet, or oily or dirty. It was a place of hard work and hard labor. This, though… this was different.

His eyes shot around the men, both those who were helping Jamis (he’d remembered his name after all) up, supported between the two of them, as well as those that still stood gobsmacked and staring at him. It wasn’t them. His eyes flitted over the stacks of crates and boxes that lined the docks, to the ships that lay anchored. He turned as his eyes scanned for whatever it was that he was picking up, to the building that had been to his back a moment ago.

It was stronger there. He squinted, looking closer. And then he saw it, the source. It wasn’t an it, though, it was a her, a she. He knew who she was, because he’d made it a point to know such things when he and Hanna had landed here. The important families, the well known faces. The people who moved in circles that would matter. It was the kind of information that came in handy, even if you never had to use it. A lesson he’d learned in his early days with the Exchange.

She was Jade Ramsey, and he could smell her. He shook his head, his hand still touching that painful welt at the back of his skull. Was he imagining it? Had the fight taken more out of him than he’d realized? It happened sometimes that Ilir lost track of the energy and the power he was expending while he battled, leaving him drained and disoriented after a fight. Was that was this was?

But no, it continued. It got stronger, as she walked closer. She was between two buildings, maybe a dozen yards away, walking in this direction and it was as if he could hear the sound of her step and the whisper of her breath as she breathed. He didn’t mean to, but he finished the turn he’d been making and his feet started moving, closing those yards between them. He felt dazed, confused, but drawn. He had to walk, he had to get closer to her.

Offline Jade Ramsey

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #1 on: Feb 21, 18, 04:09:38 PM »
Jade Ramsey never went anywhere by herself. A Queen never moved around a city without people noticing, and Jade's normal posse was hard to miss. So along with the few friends she wanted to spend time with, there needed to be ample security to ensure that both the young Queen and her associates moved about unmolested. Creston Ramsey took no chances with his beloved daughter's safety, and this usually meant that Jade traveled in the core of a group of people stout enough that she was unseen from outside of it. When she made these impromptu trips to the docks to take one of the family's boats out, it looked rather like a swarm of burly businessmen making their way down the pier instead of a young woman and her girlfriends.
 
They'd just come back to port, the group of them, and Jade was lingering on the pier, on Jensen's arm, laughing about something one of the girls had said. The Warlord Prince at her side was a more somber man than Jade but was nonetheless enjoying the fair day at the side of his Queen, even if it wasn't entirely obvious to outsiders. There was something odd in the way that Jade's laughter trailed off, though, and Jensen looked down at her, then followed her gaze out towards the docks at large. There, a bloodied man stalked towards the group with purpose in his gait.
 
"Get back on the boat," Jensen said sternly, psychic threads firing off at once to the rest of the security detail that was present. He pushed Jade aside into the arms of another guard, and began to  pull the men forward to form a barrier between the women and the oncoming stranger.
 
"Jensen, wait," Jade said, even as she was being pulled to the side, back towards the boat. She wasn't even sure herself what she wanted him to wait for; she could tell from where she was that it was a Warlord Prince approaching, and an unfamiliar and agitated Warlord Prince was nothing to take lightly. What's more, Jensen was about to also be an agitated Warlord Prince, and even Jade knew better than to play with that fire. But something pulled hard at the Queen. Something made her fight against the hands that normally moved her about without objection. She could see the stranger approaching in just bits and glimpses, until a pair of shoulders parted just so, and she locked eyes with Ilir from a distance.
 
For a few seconds, the world felt to Jade as though it stopped moving. The voices around her dulled, the people blurred. All she could see was the man approaching, the man who somehow felt as though she knew him already, as impossible as that was. It was the strangest feeling, as though he'd just returned after along absence, despite the fact that he'd never been there to leave in the first place. She reached for Jensen's sleeve and grabbed it, anchored herself to him.
 
"It's alright," she told him, clearly, despite the fact that she couldn't take her eyes off of the stranger. "Jensen, it's alright." Even then, guards were moving forward to intercept Ilir's path. They didn't hear what Jensen did, standing at Jade's side: "He's mine."
 
"What?" Jensen asked, harder than he meant to, looking down at Jade as though she'd called him the wrong name. Still, Jade couldn't look at him. She couldn't stop looking at Ilir. A smile began to toy with the edges of her lips, the urge to celebrate already creeping in around the tension of the moment.
 
"You heard me. Tell them to stand down, Jensen."
 
It almost physically pained the Warlord Prince to not stop her as she stepped forward. The quartet of men in front of her had stopped advancing, but they formed a staggered shield of bodies before her. Her hand brushed over each of their sleeves as she stepped through them, though she was careful to only come even with the front of them and no further. Their shields bound her several times over, and she knew those would have to come down. For the moment, though, she let them remain, and let all the males present acclimate to the fact that Ilir was being allowed to walk right up to her.
 
Jade eyed him, green eyes sweeping with interest over every detail of his face, his bearing, his state. When he stopped, if he didn't speak right away, she'd cock a lopsided smile onto her lips.
 
"Well, hello."

Offline Ilir Dutra

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #2 on: Feb 21, 18, 09:14:18 PM »
He felt every step as he took it, deliberate and with purpose, felt his feet driving into the ground, eating up the space between them. He saw, in his periphery, the cloud of people around her. The men around her. It was only his periphery because his eyes never left her. He saw her shifted back, saw the men tensing to protect her and immediately the sense of agitation that had been waning surged forward. He was ready to fight them. All of them, each of them. Peel them away from her one by one if necessary. His shoulders tensed, his fists forming again, nails biting into the palms of his hands.

She’d been shifted so he was now only catching glimpses of her. The curve of her jaw, the top of her head, the roundness of a cheek. He felt like he was being deprived of something he needed and it only worked to stoke the flame in him. And then, all at once, the world stopped spinning and he locked eyes with her.

He felt it. He felt her  feel it and all the sound was sucked out of the world. He was aware that his legs were still moving, taking him closer to her. The water was still moving with it’s hushed lapping against the boats and the docks. The men around her were still forming up to protect her, muttering back and forth to each other as they got into formation. But all of that was completely and utterly inconsequential. He felt calm and it was a calm that was so sudden and powerful it was almost like a drug. In that moment, all that mattered in all of the world was her.

Before he had time to make sense of it the yards that had separated them were gone. The men had parted, however begrudgingly or confusedly and he stood before her. He didn’t speak. He didn’t have the words to. He could feel the power of her, smell her physic scent. He could feel, too, the shields being held around her.

She spoke, and he couldn’t help but smile, not fully, not completely, but the slight twitch of his mouth at one side. His hand lifted, as if to touch her, but stopped short, and not just because of the barriers. There was something in him that stopped him. Something that knew what this was, that could give it a name. Something that screamed at him to stop it. It fought at the calm that washed over him in soft, soothing waves. It pulled his brow down, even as he looked at her.

“H-hello”. His voice caught at first, and when it did break out it was rougher than usual. He wiped a hand over his face, rubbing at the rough hair along his chin. His tongue flicked out, licking at the open cut on his lip and he was suddenly very aware of how disheveled and haggard he must look.

He stood there, one hand half reached out to her, feeling the power of her wards pressing against him, the other hand on his chin, studying her. Inside the battle raged between his inner self that wanted to fight this, and the rest of him that was acting on nothing more than the compulsion to be near her, to talk to her, to see her face.

Compulsion won. She won. Her eyes won, and everything else in him lost. He moved his hand forward to touch her and his fingers came into contact with the shields that warded the group. They were strong, but he could feel them bending at his touch, ever so slightly. He thought he could break them, if he tried, but he knew what that would mean. It would be exactly the fight he’d been fueling up to fight as he strode over here moments ago.

He opted for a more gentle approach. He quirked a brow at that and dropped his hand. His eyes shifted away from her and to the man standing behind her, the one who’d pushed her back when he’d initially been noticed. “Drop them.” He said. It wasn’t a question, or a request, but neither was it overtly hostile.

Offline Jade Ramsey

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #3 on: Feb 21, 18, 09:27:43 PM »
Silently, Jade was already arguing with Jensen about the damned shields. He was furious at her request that he drop them, that he leave her wide open and unprotected in the face of an unfamiliar Warlord Prince, and a darkly Jeweled one at that! She was promising him that the stranger meant no harm, that she could tell as much. The fact that Ilir had reached for her meant something to her, though she couldn't articulate the thought fully, even to herself. She just knew that she didn't like the shield there anymore than the Warlord Prince seemed to, and the longer Jensen argued instead of heeding her, the more aggravated she quietly got.

Jade Ramsey didn't get told no very often, you see.

Every man in front of Ilir tensed when he tested the shields.  Jade could feel the itch to fight spike in Jensen at her back, a knife-blade he wouldn't hesitate to wield. Calm and seemingly mild-mannered for a man of his caste, Jade knew the truth. Jensen felt every bit of the passion and fury his caste was known for; he just also knew how to keep it from tipping his hand. At the moment he was strangely forthright about his temper, though. When Ilir looked him in the eyes and demanded that the shields come down, Jensen snapped into motion. It was only Jade's hand at his chest that stopped him, only the way she whirled around to face him, the way she reached instinctively for that Bond between them and pulled. It wasn't something she'd ever done before, and it surprised both of them. Jensen was instantly refocused on Jade, and Jade was stalled for a beat, uncertain if what she'd done was the right thing or not. But there wasn't time to ponder the matter, really.

"It's okay, Jensen," she told him, that hand on his chest feeding him that special Craft she'd never shared with another soul. That same Craft that she was now going to have to share with someone else. Along with her time. Her attention. Her affection. Jensen descended into a more manageable sort of anger, and Jade turned to face the new man once more. Her hand dropped to Jensen's hand and lingered there, despite the fact that Jensen made no move to hold her hand in return. The Queen extended her free hand towards Ilir, and said, with no small amount of authority in her young voice, "Remove the shields."

There was a flicker of hesitation, and then the shields did fall away. The tension in the group of males was thick enough to slide almost palpably along the skin. The wrong twitch from the stranger would still ignite the afternoon like a match tossed to a powder keg. But Jade reached out, and took Ilir's hand in hers.

"I'm Jade Ramsey," she told him, while some part of her cataloged the roughness of his hands and the strength in his arm. "Welcome home," she said, that dollop of levity returning to her bearing in spite of the situation. "What's your name, Prince?"

Offline Ilir Dutra

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #4 on: Feb 21, 18, 10:01:22 PM »
It was something akin to glee that spiked in Ilir when Jensen started to lunge. He tensed, ready for it, eager for it, shifting his weight forward on the balls of his feet. He was just waiting for the other man to come barrelling at him and right into the hard side of his fist. She stopped him, though and the way in which she did it stunned Ilir. It was so simple, and it seemed to him elegant, refined. She was controlled and distinguished and he was once more in awe. He’d known plenty of beautiful women in his life and never had he felt drawn to any of them. He’d known queens, even, and never given them a second glance. He’d never felt the kind of draw that was pulling at him by his very core right at this moment, and deep inside, it terrified him.

His emotions were flying so wildly from one extreme to another that he started to feel a sense of vertigo from it. Probably not entirely uninfluenced by the many blows he’d received to the head not so long ago.

She turned back to him and ordered the shields down. He felt them recede and it was like a sigh of relief, but coming from without rather than within. All the barriers that were keeping her from him were removed. She reached out to him and then his hand was in hers. He could feel the warmth of her hand, the smoothness of her skin. With the wards down her scent was only that much stronger to him.

“I know who you are.” He said, taking the smallest of steps closer to her, still holding to her hand. He was aware that she still held Jensen with her other hand and there was something about that that niggled at the back of his mind. Jealousy? He wasn’t normally a jealous person, but just then he wanted all of her. He pushed that aside, returning to her question.

“My name is Ilir Dutra, my Queen. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He answered her.

My Queen, he’d said. He’d said it without hesitation, and as soon as the words fell from his lips he knew them to be true. “I came to Little Terrielle a few weeks ago, from Rihland. I’ve been working for the Authority ever since.” He told her, though as soon as he’d said it he wasn’t sure why he had. It seemed to inconsequential. He wanted to say that he’d come here for her, even though that was entirely untrue. In that moment, it felt true. It felt as if everything that had led him to standing here, in this moment, was for that purpose alone.

Offline Jade Ramsey

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #5 on: Feb 21, 18, 10:34:25 PM »
Ilir stepped forward and three of the guards twitched, starting and stopping themselves from responding to what might've been violence. The peace of the moment had its neck stretched long atop the chopping block, and the longer they all stood there with the scent of blood tainting the air, the thinner the rope holding back the blade became.

But Jade smiled when Ilir said he knew who she was. Smiled, as though there wasn't a care in the world that concerned her at the moment. She was proud that he'd heard of her, and she never once stopped to wonder whether what he'd heard was positive or otherwise.

"Ilir Dutra," she repeated, slowly, while eyeing the man behind the name. Then that smile spread again, an insistent sun in between the storm clouds of the men around her. While she spoke, her thumb passed back and forth over the Warlord Prince's knuckles, a thoughtless but soothing gesture. "Likewise, my Prince." He explained that he'd come to Little Terreille from Rihland, and Jade's brows lifted in interest. "A couple of weeks? Well, you should have come and found me sooner. I hate wasting time," she chided him, though her tone was rounded and softened by humor. It would be clear, the moment that Jensen spoke to her, despite the fact that he did so on a psychic thread. Her expression tensed the slightest bit, and then her smile withdrew. She dropped her eyes and licked her lips, as though searching for the right words, but then never said anything aloud. Not for a few seconds at least, but then she looked up to Ilir again and smiled once more, though the expression was tempered by a dollop of frustration, now.

"Orion, call for a second carriage," she said, and one of the four men beside Jade turned to move back down the pier. "Have dinner with us," she told Ilir, in the unhesitating cadence of someone whose invitations did not get refused, as a rule. "We can talk and get to know each other a little."

Offline Ilir Dutra

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #6 on: Feb 22, 18, 08:48:19 AM »
Ilir normally wouldn’t have liked his hand being held. If he’d allowed it at all, it would have been brief at best. It certainly wouldn’t have been a lingering thing that left her finger wandering traces across his knuckles. He was aware of that, in some odd way, but he liked it. He felt each millimeter of movement on his skin and he liked it. The alarms inside him that he should be running from this were attempting to get louder and finding themselves stifled again and again. Once when she spoke his name, again when she smiled.

He chuckled at her chiding, shaking his head and pushing the hair that had fallen into his eyes back. “I’ll make a not to waste less time in the future”. He told her.

He watched her eyes falls and that look come across her face and he took the chance to get a better look at the men around her, to weigh them each in turn. His tour of the men ended on Jensen. It had been awhile since Ilir had walked into a group of people and been so instantly disliked, and though the feeling he got from most of them wasn’t dislike, so much as distrust, what flowed from Jensen was the former, and fairly pure. He wasn’t happy and everything about him showed it.

She ordered a carriage and offered him an invitation to dinner and there was no question or hesitation in his mind that he would go. Whatever he’d had planned for that night, whatever he’d meant to be doing now, it was lost and gone. It didn’t matter. This was what he was going to be doing. “Yes, of course. It would be my honor”. He answered, immediately.

The man moved from behind her, heading to do her bidding and as he shifted out of the way his eyes caught sight of his own appearance. His brow creased and that little hint of a smile fell. He motioned down his length with his free hand, still holding fast to hers. “Uhm, I should probably find somewhere to clean up first, My Queen. I’d rather not sully your carriage.” His shirt was drying, but still stuck to the muscles of his stomach and his shoulders, darkened in places by blooms of blood. His hands were streaked with it, his knuckled badly bruised and his face was rubbed with sweat and dirty and blood. He was in a disreputable state, if ever there was one.

Offline Jade Ramsey

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #7 on: Feb 22, 18, 09:58:45 AM »
“The carriage will survive,” Jade said, dismissing his concern without much thought. “And you can clean up at home. I’m sure one of the boys can loan you something to wear for dinner.” Her smile slanted with a bit of humor more dry. “You’re not getting away from me that easily, Ilir Dutrov.” She didn’t say it aloud, but she wouldn’t have cared if he’d stayed just as messy and tousled as he was. She wasn’t one for uncleanliness usually, but something about the freshly-bloodied look of him suited him, in her eyes. Still, she was anxious to get him cleaned up and into a proper suit, just to see how he turned out.

Jade tugged Ilir to turn with her, and began walking back down the pier towards the waiting carriage. She didn’t release Jensen’s hand to do so, and instead tucked her light touch into the crook of his arm. He wasn’t happy about sharing the duty of escorting her with another, but he moved with her anyway. He was a festering pot of hostility at the moment, in fact, and a selfish part of Jade reveled in feeling such heat from him. She knew better than most others how readily available the normally mild-mannered man’s wrath was, but she so rarely got to witness it being stirred. It was flattering that he’d been roused out of jealousy over her, and part of her rather enjoyed it. Only part of her, though. She knew it hurt him to be put into this situation, and she did regret that. There was simply nothing to be done about it, as far as she could see. As much as she adored Jensen and wanted him to be happy, he was no longer the only one she had to consider.

So Jade moved down the pier with one hand on Jensen’s arm and the other on Ilir’s, and tried to ignore the thunderhead of discontent looming over the former. As they reached the landing pad where the family carriage was waiting, a second one was appearing there.

“Go and wait in the carriage for me, Ilir,” she said, still very much enjoying the sound of his name. The smile she turned up towards him was a satisfied one, and one that was quietly excited about the coming evening. “Let me talk to Jensen for a minute, and then I’ll join you.”

Jensen bristled at Jade’s words, but Jade didn’t seem to pay him any mind until Ilir was moving away. Only then did she turn to address her first male, and both hands took gentle hold of his shirtsleeves.

It was several moments later when the door to Ilir’s coach opened. The person standing there at the door wasn’t Jade at all, but the Warlord Prince she’d called Orion earlier. He was a broad beast of a man, barrel-chested and bearded, though well-groomed and well-dressed. His Green Descent Jewel was set into a pendant that hung on his chest, though chips of it graced his cufflinks as well. He stepped up into the carriage, and then turned to lend a hand to Jade, who climbed in after him. The pair sat across from Ilir, and Jade sighed with a little smile as she settled.

“Sorry, Prince. I’d hoped to wrangle us a little alone time for the trip back, but Jensen’s about to crack himself over the fact that he’s not here. Bringing Orion was the only compromise he could live with,” she said, reaching over to pat Orion’s arm. For his part, Orion did little but sit there and silently watch Ilir for the entirety of the trip. He seemed to be expecting to have to defend Jade at some point during the ride.

“We’ll have time enough for privacy later, though, I’m sure,” Jade said. She was also watching Ilir closely, but with an entirely different tone. “Jensen will feel better once we’re back on the estate.” 

Offline Ilir Dutra

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #8 on: Feb 22, 18, 07:13:04 PM »
Looking at her retinue, Ilir could assume that whatever her “boys” would have for him to wear would be nicer than most, if not all of the clothing he’d ever owned. The thought of himself dressed up like that made the corner of his mouth quirk up just a bit higher. “As you wish.” He said.

She turned, and they all followed and were walking in step, as if she were a maestro and at only a flick of her wrist she moved the entire orchestra. In fact, it was exactly that. She lead, and they all moved at her will. Her hand found its way into the crook of his arm, just as it had with the man on her other side and Ilir moved his free hand to cup her fingers as they walked. His thumb walked over her knuckles in the same way hers had over his and he wondered at the smoothness and warmth of her skin.

Walking like this, though, he was deprived of her face, her eyes. With that connection broken the confusion of this entire ordeal set in again, letting that voice in the back of his mind try to rise up anew. Not fifteen minutes ago he’d been brawling with a random dockhand about Darkness knew what, bloodied and enraged.

And now he was here.
A flash of lightning couldn’t have been more sudden. He was still reeling, still trying to make sense of it. He could see the carriages they approached and he was impressed. Again, he knew the kind of family that she came from, but still, it was much different to be in it. If he needed to get anywhere, he normally walked. Certainly he wasn’t used to riding around like this.

He didn’t hesitate to do as she said, giving her a nod as he climbed into the carriage and the momentary darkness as the door closed. Locked in there alone like that, the doubts he’d felt only intensified. What was he doing? This was senseless.

He rubbed his hands over his face, scrubbing over the roughness of his beard and the few dried spots of blood. But before he had any more of a chance to question himself, his sanity, or his choices the door opened and Orion was there, climbing in across from him. It wasn’t Jensen, but this man seemed no more inclined to like or trust Ilir. Not to mention that he was big.

She mentioned privacy and he quirked another grin, probably the largest that he’d shown her thus far. It was the kind of look that was dripping with mischief. He was weighing her with his eyes, and the man next to her, measuring the distance between them. Privacy she said she wanted? He could give her that, and easily enough, certainly. He was fairly sure, anyway.

In the end, he held back, gauging that Orion was big enough, and this carriage was small enough that if the brute took offense to a little secret bubble (as Ilir was fond of calling his little specialty), it wouldn’t end well for anyone, including Jade. The ‘including Jade’ part was what actually swayed him in the end. Without even thinking about it consciously, he wasn’t willing to do anything that might endanger her, no matter how amusing he might have found it. 

“Privacy? Yes, that sounds nice.” His attention shifting back to Jade, though that look still hadn’t left his face. “I hope that he does” He said, regarding Jensen. “I’d hate to think I were making him uncomfortable” He added, the sarcasm apparent. In truth, he rather enjoyed the idea that he made Jensen uncomfortable.

It didn’t take long before they were… well, wherever they were going. The door was opened for them and Orion was the first out of the carriage, offering a hand to help Jade down and leaving Ilir to crawl down himself. He stepped out and was struck again just how much he stood out . The disheveled, bloody Warlord Prince from the docks, among all of these well dressed people, standing before a large estate. Maybe not the largest he’d ever seen, but certainly the largest he’d ever been about to enter… by invitation.

“So… this is yours, then?” He said to Jade, stepping closer to her again, though he didn’t reach to touch her this time. His eyes were drawn up to the building before them as he did his best not to look awed. “Seems homey.”

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #9 on: Feb 22, 18, 08:32:51 PM »
When compared to the rest of Little Terreille, a large portion of Rockland Province was rural farmland. Even the more populated areas, like the capital city of Eastville, was more a collection of sleepy towns nestled closely together than a real and bustling metropolis. Landen abounded throughout the Province, perhaps more numerous here than elsewhere in the Territory. The Blood that came to Rockland were often those looking to retire somewhere quieter and calmer than Goth or Port City. The difference in atmosphere would be noticeable immediately when the coach doors opened and Ilir stepped out. The Ramsey estate was nestled in the heart of Southside, as it had been for generations, now. It was centered around a sizable manor, with a series of smaller houses planted behind it, and flanking it as well. The family was large and numerous, and though the entirety of the it wasn't contained in Southside, a large enough portion of it was that it was sometimes colloquially referred to as Ramseyton.

"It's the family's, yes," Jade responded, once Ilir had a chance to survey the estate's facade. He didn't have to reach for her; she took his hand without hesitation and tugged him towards the front door, grinning over her shoulder at him for a beat in a manner that said no, she didn't particularly care if he minded. The other carriage was present, but there was no sign of Jensen or the others who'd traveled with him. There were well-dressed men who stood like guards more than friends lingering about the front entrance, but aside from them it was just Orion, Jade, and Ilir for the moment.

"Rose!" Jade wasn't all the way inside before she raised her voice to call for the hearth witch who ran the house staff. An older-middle-aged woman with a Yellow Descent appeared in one of the doorways, a disapproving look on her face. Whatever scolding she might've considered plying the Queen with was quickly staunched at the sight of a stranger accompanying her.

"Lady Jade?" Rose greeted her, her disapproval of the young woman's shouting through the house voiced only by a finely arched brow.

"This is Ilir Dutra," she said, gesturing to the man whose hand she still held. She showed her youth more keenly for a moment in the way she all but beamed as she introduced him. "He's mine, like Jensen is," she explained, while looking up to Ilir at her side. She looked back to the hearth witch then, who was watching Ilir with a rather surprised expression, before she thought to cover it with something more professional.

"Is he? That is wonderful news, Lady Jade. Your father must meet him," the witch said, with a warm smile.

"He will! But not yet. Prince Dutrov is joining us for dinner. I want you to take him to the guest house so he can get cleaned up. Find him something nice to wear, too." At that, she turned back to Ilir and slipped her second hand into his free one. Her grin returned, though she tempered it down until it looked rather mischievous. "I need to get cleaned up, myself, and take care of a few things. But then I'll come get you, and we can talk, okay?" Uncharacteristically, she paused there to ensure that he actually agreed before moving on. She knew it was probably a bit uncomfortable for to be thrown in among unfamiliar people and expected to shine himself up, but she also knew he'd probably go along with it. He was as anxious for time with her as she was for time with him, she was certain. Whether that was ego or intuition telling her that, it was hard to say.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #10 on: Feb 22, 18, 09:18:42 PM »
He was pulled along after her and followed willingly as she shouted for whoever Rose was. The woman appeared and was visibly shocked at seeing him. He grinned at that, sheepishly, running his free hand through his hair again. The sheepishness faded into a sort of pride when Jade said his name, and that he was hers. A swelling of pride that was only met by a small growl from the darkness inside his skull. It seemed the dissenting voice had given up questioning his sanity, at least for the time being.

 Ilir got to wear his own look of shock and surprise at Rose’s next words though he was pleased to see the warmth blossom across her face. She seemed much kinder when she wasn’t being stern or shocked.

But wait. Jade’s father? Her Father. He hadn’t even considered that he’d need to meet her father. He pondered on that for a moment, lost in his own thoughts of what the man would be like, spinning through his inner rolodex of what his name was. Normally he would have been able to pluck that information easily, but it seemed to be eluding him. What was it that he did, again? All the mental acuity he normally had, the very same that had allowed him to so easily recognize Jade from across the dock seemed to had fled him just then.

His train of thought was quickly derailed as he found both of his hands in hers again, her large green eyes looking up at him, making requests and promises. He was so lost in her eyes holding that glint of mischief in them that he barely registered she’d asked him a question. As if she actually wanted an answer. “Oh, yes, of course.” He grinned down at her and nodded. “Yes”.

Of all she’d said, it was the idea that she needed to get cleaned up. How much cleaner and more refined was she planning on getting? Maybe it was just the stark contrast to his current state, but she seemed near pristine to him.

Rose took him then, leading him off to what Jade had called the guest house. She showed him where he could wash and disappeared into an adjoining room for a moment before returning with an outfit in either hand. “One of these should fit, I think” She told him, before leaving him to do what needed done. And just like that he found himself alone for the second time since this whirlwind had started.

It didn’t take him long to clean, watching the streams of dried blood swirl towards the drain as he washed it from his hair and his hands and his face. He did what he could to tend to the cut on his lip and made sure that the one above his eye wasn’t too bad either. He really should spend some time attempting to learn healing craft, or at the very least find a healer he could trust here.

He folded his soiled clothes and stood naked for a moment looking at the two outfits that had been brought for him. They were both nicer than anything he’d ever worn before and he gauged that both would probably fit him. In the end he opted for the suit with a maroon vest. It went well with his hair, highlighting the reddish tint that was just more obvious now that it wasn’t caked with blood and sweat. The tie, though… that he ignored, leaving it draped over the back of the chair where it had started. Ilir did not do ties. The tightness around his neck drove him mad.

He was just as much eager as anxious, waiting for her and wondering what was happening, where was this going. He had the unshakable sense that his life had just fundamentally changed and his mind was reeling too much from that to know what to make of it. He would be standing like that when she came to find him, assuming she didn’t take much longer to ready herself. Staring into the mirror and measuring himself in this new getup as he buttoned up the buttons of his cuffs, only lacking the coat to finish the ensemble.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #11 on: Feb 22, 18, 10:48:12 PM »
While it was true that Ilir was a bit more in need of a bath than his Queen, Jade had just come from spending time on the river. She might not have seen windblown and unkempt to him, but she was very much looking forward to a shower and a little bit of upkeep. She didn't dress up too much for dinner, though she did pull on a darker outfit than the shorts and tank top she'd been wearing earlier. A little bit of wave had been added to her hair, and little makeup to her face by the time she made her way to the guest house, despite the fact that she'd been more eager than she cared to admit to get there. Ilir was like a Winsol gift she hadn't yet had a chance to fully unwrap, and she could hardly stand it.

After Rose left Ilir to wash and change, no one else seemed to bother him. If he was vigilant about such things, he could likely sense that he wasn't entirely free of observation, but then, it only made sense that an estate such as this would have some sort of surveillance measures in place, right? The thought would be affirmed somewhat when Jade seemed to arrive all by her lonesome to see him. He knew better than to think the men of the house would leave their precious Queen alone with a stranger, didn't he?

Was it weird to him that he could sense her approaching? It wasn't to her. She knew where he was as surely as she knew intuitively where she could find Jensen, had she wanted to go looking for him.

"Well you haven't escaped yet," she said, when she appeared in the doorway to the room he'd been lent. She leaned against the door frame and folded her arms with a smile. "That's a good sign, I think. Turn around, lemme see," she said, her grin brightening as she looked over the suit he'd put on. Whether he turned for her or not, though, she made a wordless little sound indicating her pleasure at the look of him.

"You clean up nice, Ilir Dutra," she told him, as she pushed off of her lean. "C'mere. Lemme fix your face," she told him, as she crossed the room towards a settee by the window. She took a seat on one end, and if he didn't take the hint she'd gesture for him to sit down facing her. Once he was there, she'd summon the healing webs she'd brought for him, and her eyes would lower while she carefully unwrapped the first of them. "Is it bad that I almost hate to do this?" she asked him, lifting her eyes to glance to his, a conspiratorial smile flashing briefly across her lips before she returned her attention to unwrapping the web. "I think you look like a badass, but Rose says it'll stress the guys out to having you walking around looking like a prizefighter."

She was smirking by the time she lifted the web and plied it carefully to the places where the skin was broken above his eye.

"I told her at least you looked like a winning prizefighter. She didn't think it was funny, but I know better." The Craft embedded into the web would feel cool for a moment, and then the quiet tingle of Crafted healing would settle in and mend the skin over the course of a few seconds.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #12 on: Feb 23, 18, 10:21:15 AM »
He could feel her approaching, and the feeling was not quite uncomfortable so much as it was foreign, and yet at the same time, it felt like something he’d always been able to do. The juxtaposition was just another flavor of stark contrast that was getting stirred into the pot that was this day.

He turned when she asked it of him, having finally buttoned his cuffs. His eyes appraised her just as much as hers did him, though he made no noise in one direction or the other. She could tell from his face that he was pleased, though. The outfit was nice, and even if he’d thought it impossible earlier, she did seem to have become more lovely in the time they’d been apart. Less windswept beauty and more refined Lady Jade.

“Why thank you.” He said, giving a little flourish and a small spin to let her have the full effect. A grin spread across his face and he realized he couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled as much as this. He felt very free around her, very at ease, even under the watchful presence of all her guards and attendants which was ever present, even when they weren’t.

She beckoned him and he came, sitting across from her as she got to work on his face. For his part, he was glad that she was fixing it, in small part because it did sting a bit, but also he found that he actually did care that he didn’t look wounded when he met her father. It was an odd thing for him to care about, and he was fully aware of that, but he cared none the less.

“You think the cuts are the only thing that make me look like a badass, hmm?” He teased her. “Or that I look any less like a winning prizefighter without them?” He made sure to sit very still while she did her work, like a man who’s had to sit very still many times before for exactly the same reason. “Why don’t you leave a little scar then? Scars are badass, aren’t they?”

But he knew the webs wouldn’t scar, and he felt their tingling coolness as they went to work, sinking into his flesh and mending it. He reached up, tentatively when he felt the craft start to ebb away, feeling gingerly at the freshly healed skin. “Thanks” he told her, looking up through his thick dark lashes as her.

He sat back then, laying his arm across the back of the settee, one ankle propped on his knee. “It looks like we got that privacy you promised me earlier.” He gestured to the room around them and the apparent lack of her guard. “How long until dinner?” He asked, the corner of his mouth quirking up again. He wanted to know everything about her, finding now that though he’d thought he made it it a point to know the important things, what he knew amounted to nothing. He wanted more. He wanted to know what made her smile, what made her tick, what she was afraid of. Just then he wanted all of Jade that she was willing to share.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #13 on: Feb 23, 18, 10:15:43 PM »
Jade smirked at his teasing, but didn't reply right away. Instead, she unwrapped the second of the webs and carefully applied it to his split upper lip. She enjoyed the opportunity to simply be that near to him, to look at him up close and acquaint herself with how his presence felt. Part of her was still giddy over the newness of him, the strength he represented and how magnetic he seemed. Jade didn't lack for toys and shiny things, but there was nothing in the world like a Queen's Bond. Meeting Jensen had irrevocably changed her life, and the longer she was around Ilir, the more certain she became that his presence would make no less of an impact.

"You are welcome," she said, dropping her hands when she was finished and he thanked her. She made no move to leave the settee, despite the fact that they were sitting a little closer than was normal for near-strangers. She  was facing him directly, too, which felt more intimate than strangers should feel. She didn't want to move away, though. She wanted to remain submerged in his presence until he was familiar, until she knew every thread and braid of his psychic scent. Her own reflected as much, as she made no attempt to hide how he fascinated and thrilled her.

He gestured to the room and remarked on their privacy, and Jade winced, shrugged one shoulder.

"--ish," she qualified, letting her head fall to one side. "Compromises, remember? You're still the new guy. But..." Jade paused, and looked down to watch as she took one of his hands into both of her own. She brushed a thumb over the ring that boasted a chip of a Red Jewel, and smirked a little up at him from beneath her brow.

"There's nobody around these parts that's going to crack that, if there are things you don't want overheard. You know, we could match, eventually," she pointed out, releasing his hand so that she could push her hair back over her shoulders. It made it easier to see the smooth and uncut dollop of Blood Opal that hung heavy on a silver chain around her neck. She lifted the pendant and looked down at it, that familiar and beloved part of herself. One hand wrapped around it and hung there while she looked back to Ilir, and that sideways little smile surfaced again.

"We're gonna have fun, Ilir," she promised him, her smile deepening.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #14 on: Feb 24, 18, 11:47:36 AM »
The tingling again, this time at his lip as the final cut healed. The bruises along his knuckles weren’t as stark and would heal on their own, he was sure. His tongue flicked out when she was done with her work, feeling over the newly healed flesh.

“Ish, hmm? I expected that this was as much privacy as you ever get.” He mused, looking around the room as if the presence he could feel around them, watching them was something physically visible. Obviously they weren’t, but they might as well have been.

He was tempted, again, to throw a little shield around them so they would have some actual privacy. It was tempting mostly because it was dangerous, and for the same reason he was wary of doing it. He couldn’t determine exactly how closely they were being watched or what the response to the use of craft in this room would be. There were some that couldn’t sense his little secret bubbles and never knew craft was being used in their midst at all. Those people weren’t normally accustomed to that kind of careful observation. He had to assume that the people that watched Jadde were adept at noticing such things.

For now, he restrained himself, but he made a little internal promise to himself that at some point once he understood the lay of the land, he’d do it. If for no other reason than he thought it would surprise her and he was eager to see that delighted look of surprise in her eyes again. Being suddenly enveloped in a bubble of silence and secrecy was a little surprising at first, but he found it fun.

His hands were in hers again and he felt her finger rub over the his red jeweled ring. He couldn’t stop a quick intake of breath at that. It wasn’t something he normally let be touched. Nestor had had that ring made for him, the setting at any rate. He’d said it was a good idea, if he was going to insist on using his craft to beat other men to bits, might as well have it on hand. Nestor had been fond of a good pun.

The memory of that brought his brow down just a bit and a darkness drew across his face, dimming his eyes. His bottom lip caught between his teeth as he tried to beat away the memory. He’d spent so much time collecting all the memories he had of Nestor, but he didn’t appreciate them popping up unbidden.

Luckily, she provided him a distraction, motioning to her own Jewel. It was truly gorgeous and it matched her coloring well, and of course it was much larger than the small chip he wore on his finger. “That’s lov--” he started and then stopped, quirking a brow with his head cocking to the side. “Match, you say? We may match?” She only had the one Jewel, he realized. His brows lifted at that both surprised at the fact and also impressed. A blood opal was a very decent birthright, and she was right that she may end up matching his red one day. The largest of the thoughts that drifted through his mind was why he’d so easily assumed that she was lighter than she was, or maybe would be. He’d underestimated her and that bothered him in some way. He pushed it aside, choosing instead to ask the next question that came to him.

“Wait, how old are you, exactly?” He asked, giving a small laugh. Just another of the many details he hadn’t thought to know about. 

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #15 on: Feb 25, 18, 11:41:16 AM »
Ilir drew a breath when Jade touched his Jewel, and she couldn't help the wicked little smile that flitted briefly across her mouth in response. She knew damn well what she'd done (at least she thought she did, though she was ignorant of the significance of the settinge), and she liked that she'd gotten a reaction from him, no matter how small. And it was a lesson too, wasn't it? She'd touched his precious Jewel and nothing bad had happened. He could trust her. That how she quietly willed him to interpret that moment, ineffective as the effort might be.

He stumbled over the realization that she hadn't any Offering Jewel yet, and Jade just smirked. There was a patient acceptance about the moment that suggested he was far from the first to make that mistake. It didn't bother her. She liked surprising people, and her Blood Opal was Darker than most people she knew. It made sense that they'd think that was her Descent, and she got a quiet kick out of the varied reactions people had when the truth dawned on them.

He asked her age and Jade's bearing quieted a little, a subtle hardening of herself so that the judgment she suspected would come next wouldn't hurt as much. People were so hung up on age. Jensen was, her father was, Ilir would be too, once she answered him, she thought.

"Eighteen."

Not quite an adult according to society, but damn well old enough that she felt grown. It was clearly a sore spot for her; her teasing and mischief was oddly absent in a way it hadn't been so far. She slipped her hand back into his, holding it lightly like a handshake, and let her thumb run back and forth over his skin again.

"You don't have to worry, though. I'm, y'know, secure." A little bit of her smirk returned. "That's part of why Jensen's so mad. He knows we might... y'know. And he's not used to having to share."


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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #16 on: Feb 25, 18, 05:54:43 PM »
He could tell he wasn’t the first to assume she’d already made her offering, or the first to underestimate her strength and knowing that really only made him feel worse about it. Granted, if he’d been the first that would have been even worse still, but he couldn’t help feeling ashamed at being another drop in the bucket. She seemed not terribly bothered, if not even a little amused and so he moved past it, only to be nearly immediately reshocked when she gave her age.

His eyes widened again and he couldn’t help the wide grin that spread across his face. He turned his chin down, trying to hide it a little. He didn’t want her to think he was laughing at her because he wasn’t. He was just in awe of it how young she was. There were seven years between them, but to him it might as well have been a century. He sat there, trying to hide his grin and think of what he’d been doing when he was her age. Who he’d been at that age. So much had happened sense, it seemed like he wasn’t even the same person anymore.

Ilir wasn’t given much time to muse over that, or even time to give a reaction beyond the grin and his subsequent attempt to hide it before she spoke again and this time his eyebrows attempted to reach their way up into his hairline. He didn’t lift his head, taking the opportunity to keep his chin tilted down as it was and hide the flurry of emotions that was washing one over another across his face just then.

Secure, she’d said, and then the mention of Jensen not wanting to share her. His voice was suddenly caught in his throat as if he’d swallowed an entire lemon. He did his best to swallow that down and lift his eyes to her.

“Oh…” He said, softly, barely audible. The feeling of her thumb running over his knuckles again was calming, despite the thoughts that whirred through his mind. “He really doesn’t have to worry about that.” He said, his voice no louder than before.

In a logical cerebral way, he was aware that there were no prohibitions here, that this was a different land than the one he’d been born into and fled. He was aware that the secret he held wasn’t as taboo here, that uttering it wouldn’t have him thrown back to one of those places. He knew those things. And yet, the face that looked up at her was a thing mask over a man that was doing his best to hide a very deep and real fear. He was doing his best to determine how to best tip toe around this.

He didn’t need to tell her directly, he decided, that he preferred the company of men. He didn’t need to explain in detail how Jensen wouldn’t be sharing her any time soon, or ever, at least not with him. He could just…. Avoid it. Carefully. The only problem was that he found that he wasn’t very good at that kind of careful tip toeing when he was looking into her large green eyes.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #17 on: Feb 26, 18, 11:13:43 PM »
Jade narrowed her eyes at him, though playfully so, when her age elicited such an amused response from Ilir. She all but dared him to comment on her youth with that near-sulking gaze, but it was a light and brief thing. It wasn't until she tried to put his mind at ease about what she felt were related matters that the mood truly shifted between them.

The young Queen didn't know Ilir well enough yet to understand exactly what it was that moved through him just then. She knew something resonated within him, and she knew it was not remotely pleasant. This vibrant, direct, larger-than-life scrapper that she'd pulled from the docks suddenly seemed to withdraw into himself, as though she'd managed to wound him without realizing it. Her lips parted in anticipate of a question she couldn't quite find the words to ask, and her brow knitted into a frown. On top of the strangeness of the moment, that was the first time in her life that Jade Ramsey had hinted at getting intimate with someone only to have them go cold. She wasn't sure what to make of it, and a rare streak of self-doubt tangled itself in with the rest of her uncertain thoughts and feelings, complicating the moment by degrees.

"Oh," she said, because nothing more eloquent would present itself as an option in her mind. "I just thought..." she began to say, but stopped herself because she sounded too young, too weak, too easily unsettled in her mind. It wounded her to be refused before she'd even really given him reason to not like her, but what was there to do about it? He'd come around eventually; no one could make a man feel like his Queen could, she'd been told. And if he didn't, it wasn't a matter that was going to be helped by her blowing up about it here and now.

"Well, nevermind that," she said, summoning a bright and pretty smile. She squeezed Ilir's hands and then released them, surging to her feet quickly after. "We should head downstairs," she said, as she moved over to the vanity set the room afforded. She leaned enough to see herself in the mirror, checked her makeup and shifted her hair a little, and tried to pretend like her limbs didn't feel strangely numb. He'd rocked her with his simple hesitation, but she wasn't about to make a show of it.

"Joey's going to try to get you to drink something questionable, don't do it. It's not the latest vintage of anything home brewed, it's just bathwater or something equally gross. Alot of the guys downstairs are Jensen's buddies, so there will probably be alot of scowling from across the room. They'll get over it, though. The only one whose opinion you need to worry about is my father, and I already know he'll like you."

By the time she finished, she'd made her way to the doorway, stopped, and turned to face him. She waited there for him now, with a sideways little smile. "You ready?"

Offline Ilir Dutra

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #18 on: Feb 27, 18, 11:19:31 AM »
He could feel he’d wounded her, but he couldn’t help it and he felt helpless to fix it, so he sat in silence, ready to continue trying to dance around the issue if he could. Luckily for him, she was up and dancing a jig of her own to get around the tension in the room and he was afforded and exit. For now. He had a sinking feeling in his gut that this would come up again, and maybe again and again and eventually he wouldn’t be able to avoid it.

For now, though, he was soaking up the instructions she was giving him about what to drink or not drink from whoever this Joey person was. “Roger roger” He answered, getting to his feet and reaching for the coat he had yet to don. He really did feel entirely too dressed up in this get up. He wasn’t used to being so dapper. It felt like wearing a second, unfamiliar skin.

She mentioned Jensen and his friends, which Ilir translated in his mind to cronies, and he laughed a little, shaking his head. It was fortunate, in fact, because her father’s opinion was the only one he cared about. That in itself was odd, because normally Ilir wouldn’t have cared about any of their opinions. He’d gotten over caring what people thought of him a long time ago. But then Jade walked onto a pier and into his life and apparently she was changing myriad things about him, in subtle little ways, without even trying. At least, he didn’t think she was trying.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” He answered, tugging at his coat and looking at himself in the vanity over her shoulder. He cleaned up nicely, he supposed. “Is this….. How your family always does dinner?” He asked, suddenly a bit uncertain of himself and what he was about to walk into. Was this normal? A special occasion? “And how many people are we talking, exactly?”

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #19 on: Feb 27, 18, 03:01:16 PM »
"What do you mean?" she asked, looking at him curiously when he asked about how her family did dinner. She had little to compare it to, after all, and thought nothing of putting on a clean set of clothes to eat with the family. Her arm extended towards him, inviting him to take his place as her escort for the moment, and Jade led him out of the little guest house. The grounds of the Ramsey estate were not only immaculate but lush, gaining more care than most of the rest of the District because of Jade's Blood Opal and her regular habit of tending to her family's home.

"I dunno, depends on who's free to come," she told him, after considering the matter of how many people would show up at dinner. "Sometimes it's just four or five of us. Sometimes it's a dozen or more. Let's see... Josiah's still out of town, so it'll be just my parents and me, and you, and... Jensen's here, Orion... Ray... Joey... Luca..." Her nose scrunched gently as she tried to recall who else she'd seen lurking around since she'd returned from the water. She rattled off a few other names as she thought of them, and it was nearing a dozen by the time she stopped.

"You're not gonna tell me you're shy now, are you?" she taunted him with a smirk, a brow arching up at him from her place at his side. "Don't worry about it. Most of them like to hear themselves talk; you'll pretty much have to jump in if you want to get in on the conversation over dinner. Jensen will probably try to make you sound stupid, at some point, maybe asking you your opinion on something you've no reason to know anything about. I'll help you if I can, but don't let it get to you if I can't. He'll be sulking for a while, still. After dinner we'll have drinks with my father, just the three of us. Maybe my mother too. That'll be easier. He's an easy man to like," she said, pride feeding a blooming smile back onto her lips. She looked up at Ilir, and her grin turned sideways.

"Assuming you haven't been scared off by then, I'll show you the garden after that. We can walk around and talk some more, if you want."

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #20 on: Feb 28, 18, 07:25:26 PM »
It occurred to him then that this was her normal. That dressing up in a coat for dinner was what men in her life had always done and he chuckled at that, shaking his head. His upbringing had been more…. Ah, rustic, he thought. “Nothing, nothing.” He mummered in response to her question.

He did his best not to let his eyes widen as she rattled off names and counted on her fingers, but then laughed at her question. “Me? Shy? No, of course not.” He shook his head. Shy wasn’t the word he would use. Reserved was a better word, he felt. Though, he had a temper and just now it was feeling like that temper was just a little closer to the surface than was his usual. Perhaps it was all of the male energy, or the surveillance, or Jensen, or the fight that he’d just left. Maybe it was just being near her that made him slightly more on edge. Slightly closer to that tipping point.

Ilir gauged that he’d be able to make it through dinner, whether he enjoyed it or not. He wasn’t particularly daunted by Jensen’s attempts to make him look stupid, either, though maybe he should have been. Drinks with her father, though, that was going to be a more interesting experience and one that he actually looked forward to. There was something in him that wanted her father to approve of him, as if suddenly that was of the utmost importance.

“I don’t scare easily, Jade.” He told her, very seriously, wiping all seriousness from his face. It didn’t last long before the corner of his mouth crept back up. “I’m sure it will be fine. I’ll let the promise of a nice garden stroll get me through it, if all else fails.” He patted her hand on his arm as she lead him out of the house and towards the house proper, steeling himself for what was coming as if he were marching into battle and not to a simple family dinner.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #21 on: Mar 02, 18, 11:37:36 AM »
Jade's father, as it turned out, was a reasonably affable fellow. Creston Ramsey was clearly a man accustomed to having a certain amount of power at his fingertips, little of it related to the Jewels he wore. All told there were a dozen or so people there for dinner that night, not including Jade and Ilir, and they all seemed to count Lord Ramsey as the center of the room no matter where he was. He was a charismatic man, and smiled easily enough that one might never know how shrewd his business sense was without getting to know him better. He shook Ilir's hand with a warm and confident grip, assuring him that Jade was his greatest treasure and that anyone devoted to keeping her safe was to eb welcomed into the family. Dinner was rich and home cooked, simple but filling food that the men who'd begun as blue-collar workers enjoyed. There was alot of it, with the overflowing table being refilled quietly to help keep up with the demands of all of the formidable appetites around the room. For the most part, the chatter around the table was unimportant, little conversations between two or three at a time about what'd gone on that day or what their favorite boxer or entertainer was up to.

Broader topics were broached gently, with questions asked over the table about people and places with whom Ilir was yet unfamiliar. Much of the Ramsey business seemed to be focused around the docks, and the shipping trade that passed over it. Jensen did try to trap Ilir into speaking on the fight he'd just finished when Jade had found him, and though the room quieted a little because of everyone's interest in hearing the new guy speak, it wouldn't be hard for Ilir to nudge the conversation in a different direction if he wanted.

He wasn't actually offered any bath water, at least.

After dinner, Creston retired to the study for cigars and brandy and Jade followed behind him, tugging Ilir along with.  The study was large but still cozy, filled with ceiling-high bookshelves made of a dark, heavy wood. Dark reds and browns decorated the place, warmed by the fire crackling away in the fireplace. Creston made himself comfortable in a large and comfortable-looking leather chair, and gestured for Ilir to sit across from him. There, over cigars and ridiculously expensive liquor, Creston would level his seasoned, whiskey-colored eyes at the Warlord Prince while Jade lingered at a bookcase nearby.

"So. What's your story?"

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #22 on: Mar 05, 18, 08:38:43 AM »
Ilir found dinner much less unbearable than he’d originally expected. He wasn’t normally comfortable in crowds, and though a dozen strangers didn’t exactly qualify as a crowd, he’d been somewhat apprehensive going in. He was sitting next to Jade, and that helped quite a bit, though he wasn’t able to speak to her much. The food was good and he ate his fill. It had been a while since he’d eaten something hearty.

He laughed and shook his head at Jensen when he brought up the fight on the docks, rubbing one hand over the back of his still bruised knuckles. “I’m honestly more a lover than a fighter.” He told the other man, a quirk of his brow. “But sometimes, tensions just has to come to a head. The first part was far from true, but Jensen wouldn’t know that and Ilir rather liked the flush that it brought to the other man’s cheeks, even if no one else noticed. That seemed to be enough to dissuade him from pushing the issue further and the current of conversation rolled on past it, onto other things.

The food was done and the dishes cleared away and Ilir found himself following Jade and her father into the study. Sitting across from Creston it was the farthest Ilir had been from Jade since she’d left him to dress and he almost instantly found himself wanting to leave the seat and stand beside her, just to do it. He held himself in check and sipped at the brandy in his glass.

“My story?” He asked, giving a small laugh and a shake of his head. It seemed such a bland question and yet he felt his throat tighten, his eyes drawn to the light of the fire beside him. Images flew behind his eyes as he stared into the flame. Glimpses and snatches of his actual story. The story he was absolutely not about to tell, but the real story of who Ilir was. His eyes flitted back to Jade at the bookshelf and he wondered, silently, if he’d ever tell her that story. Probably not.

“Oh, it’s not a very interesting story.” He said, his eyes turning back to older man across from him. “I’m from Rihland, originally. I moved here a few weeks ago, with my sister.” His mouth persed a little at that, his eyes shifting to the side. Hanna. He’d been so swept up in finding Jade, in being whisked off here, in all of this, he’d completely forgotten his sister. It would probably take a few days of his being “missing” before she’d begin to worry in earnest, but she probably wouldn’t be terribly pleased if he didn’t come home tonight or at least find a way to let her know he hadn’t gotten himself wrapped up in anything nefarious.

“A friend brought us over” He continued, trying to move past his momentary pause and not let himself get lost in thought and worries over Hanna. “She made the necessary introductions and I’ve been working down at the docks since.” He finished, giving a small shrug. “There’s really not more to me than that. I work a lot, occasionally, as Jensen was so keen to mention, I find myself in a fight.” Again, his hands rubbing over the bruising on his knuckles. “Usually I hold my own., other than that I’m kind of boring.” He gave a shrug, trying to lighten what felt like a serious moment and hide his slight discomfort. He had a sudden worry that Creston would find him wholly unworthy of serving his daughter and he’d be summarily dismissed.

Was that what he wanted? To serve her? The question was answered instantly, from a voice inside himself that he barely recognized. It was a strong, resounding yes. Anything less would be impossible.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #23 on: Mar 08, 18, 11:06:13 AM »
Creston Ramsey was a warlord of some fifty-odd years, a native of Little Terreille from his birth. He'd spent a good portion of that time working with and around people of all shades, from the irreproachably noble to the scum of the realm. Most people, he knew, fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, with varying degrees of commitment to staying on one side of some imaginary line or the other. He'd learned over the years to pick out the weak ones, the ones who'd dance right over that line when pressed just a little. There were places for all types in his organization, but the level of trust handed to any given associate would depend on how much steel was in his spine, how much Creston thought he could trust the person to stand firm when everything around them was telling them to roll over. He'd gotten good at it, which was why he was now surrounded by an inner circle that might as well have been made of solid steel instead of flesh and bone.

Creston wasn't sure yet which sort Ilir Dutra was, but he did know that the Warlord Prince's story wasn't as simple as he made it out to be. There was a haunted look to the way the man watched the flames, Creston thought. Ilir moved on quickly enough, but Creston's aged gaze remained heavily upon the man anyway, as though weighing what he'd been told.

"You sell yourself short, Prince," Creston said, gesturing faintly with his cigar-laden hand. "I am already interested in your story. For instance, what brought you out of your native land? I myself am what you would call a patriotic sort. I grew up here in Little Terreille and couldn't imagine leaving it for another Territory. I know not everyone is this way, but I am always fascinated by the stories of those who feel compelled to migrate. What was it that prompted you to strike out for a place so different from your own? The boys at the docks make a decent wage, it's true, but surely you weren't lured here by the prospect of being a dock worker indefinitely."

Creston seemed a likable fellow. He was old enough that he showed some gray in his hair and his neatly-trimmed beard, and the edges of his eyes showed the crinkle of age. Though his stare was direct and, some would say, piercing, the rest of his demeanor was affable and patient. His tone promised that he was making conversation for the sake of genuine interest, though the Warlord Prince across from him was unlikely to miss the hint of predator that rested somewhere behind that amber gaze.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #24 on: Mar 08, 18, 02:31:30 PM »
The older man’s voice rolled over Ilir like warm honey, amplifying that comfortable homey feeling of the room, the fire, the drink in his hand. It drew his brows down just a fraction though, his eyes moving back to the flames. He’d hoped, obviously naively that he’d be able to slide out of or laugh off this line of questioning as easily as he had at dinner. But this wasn’t a large group of people sitting around a table having myriad different conversations, all intertwining. This was two men in a quiet study. He wasn’t going to be able to escape so quickly.

`Migrate` Creston had said. A smile licked the corner of Ilir’s mouth at that, though it held no happiness. Migration was such a lacking word, when he thought about it. Flee. Run. Escape. Those were better words.

He stared into the flames and watched them licking at each other and he sifted through memories, through reasons. Looking for a likely candidate he could give the older man across from him. He was letting the quiet settle around the room for what was probably longer than a respectful amount of time, but he couldn’t help it. He saw the Black Widows who’d been assigned to him. He felt their webs. The webs that they said no one could feel, and yet he had. He could swear that he had. He felt the whittling away at his memories, at his being, his person, his soul. He was in an instant reliving the fight it had taken him not to loose who he was. He was hearing Hanna’s whispered voice in the darkness. He was feeling the panic and fear and rage as they fled. The fear that sometimes still haunted him, as if he would be caught here and taken back.

All of that and more flashing before his eyes and danced in the fire before him as the silence grew and the glass warmed in his hand. Finally it dawned on him that he was being rude, sitting here like this. He thought of the kind of impression it would leave, the very kind of impression he’d been trying to avoid. He turned back to Creston, taking a deep drink from his glass, letting it numb his throat just a little.

“Both of my parents are dead.” He said flatly, because that was all he could think to say at first. “My sister and I were all that was left, and the land that was home to generations of our family and our people is all but gone. There really wasn’t much left to be a patriot to.” Creston would know that, right? Ilir assumed that everyone knew about the Eryien occupation of Rihland. Of what that had done to its people. That was enough of a cover, certainly. That was enough of a reason to leave.

“And no.” He continued, after another deep drink, nearly draining the glass and attempting to bolster his mood. “Being a dock hand wasn’t my end goal. It’s just a good place to start.” He tried his best to muster a small grin at that. “A new land, a new home, there are plenty of possibilities, I’m sure.”

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #25 on: Mar 10, 18, 05:48:01 PM »
Creston watched Ilir while the Warlord Prince gathered his words. A kinder man might've let his gaze wander to the fire, or might've looked towards the door or the cigar in his hand, allowing the silence to stretch gracefully and comfortably into an extended moment. While Creston was certainly not hostile at the moment, neither was he taking any such pains to be kind. He knew it was pressure, yes, but he also knew that Jade desired to have this man helping to guard her. How he functioned under pressure was good information to have before sanctioning that appointment.

In the end, Ilir's belated response was bland. Careful. Honest, Creston judged by instinct alone, and yet... there'd been something deeper than a lack of roots moving behind Ilir's eyes in that long moment's worth of fire-gazing. His parents may be dead, and his family's ties to the land may well be gone, but there was more to the story than what was being told.

But not spilling one's guts at the first ask wasn't the same as being deceptive. Creston would not have tolerated the latter. The former he could work with, he decided. He took a long pull from his cigar, and continued to eye Ilir as he exhaled.

"Situations like these, you know, they're tricky," he said, gesturing again just a little with his cigar. "I'm a businessman, Prince, and business is tough in Little Terreille. It's not a game for the faint-hearted. I've been blessed enough to see substantial success in my life and my business, and anytime that happens there rise up people who want to take what doesn't belong to them. It's just the nature of the beast, Blood eat Blood. It's bad enough that I have to keep men around to guarantee my safety, and the safety of the people I love. My very best men, though, the men I trust the most? I don't put them in my guard detail." He pointed to Jade with the fingers that held his cigar.

"I put them in hers. My Jade is precious to me, as you can imagine. She's got it in her head that I ought to bring you on and entrust her safety to you. She's young, my Jade. She hasn't been around long enough to understand that a Queen's Bond doesn't always mean everything it's supposed to. So I tell myself, no way, right? I can't let a perfect stranger into this group of men who've all proven to me time and again that they can and will keep her safe. Except... how can you prove yourself if you're never tossed in the fire? It's a circle of distrust, locked in stasis. Nobody wins." He paused long enough to sip the drink in his non-cigar-laden hand, and his gaze shifted away from Ilir for what likely felt like the first time. He glanced at Jade for a beat, and then returned his focus to the Warlord Prince.

"So I'm going to do something that makes me very uncomfortable. I'm going to give you the invitation my Jade wants me to give you, and if you'd rather help protect her than shove crates around on the dock, I'll pay you well to do it. I'm going to extend a certain measure of trust to you, Prince Dutra, because my daughter has asked this of me. But now I'm afraid I have to threaten you, because at the end of the day, I'm a father who worries for his daughter.

"You're free to turn me down. You can go on working at the docks, and you can see Jade when she has time free. If I bring you on as a guard you'll have more time with her, you'll make better money, you'll have a place in her court when she gains one. But if any. Harm. Comes to her while she's under your care, I will hold you personally responsible. I don't care if it's a paid assassination attempt, a freak boating accident, or some of those ties that you 'don't have anymore' manage to resurrect themselves and follow you over the mountains. If you sign on as her guard and she gets hurt, there will be a Price."

"You don't have to decide right now," Jade chimed in, as she came to stand beside her father's chair. "You can think about it some first." Creston nodded his agreement while smoking his cigar.

"You have any questions for me, Prince?" he asked, afterwards, in the tone of someone who was preparing a close to a meeting.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #26 on: Mar 12, 18, 09:26:30 AM »
A job. He was being offered a job. The thought of it almost made Ilir laugh, only because his befuddled mind hadn’t thought that far. And then a threat. Before Creston was even able to continue on to what the threat was Ilir’s blood started to boil. Because a threat was a threat and threats were never good. Through all of it, though, he kept himself and his face in check and placid. He listened, he nodded, and he thought. The mention of ‘her court’ also caught him off guard, because of course he hadn’t thought of that either. Eventually, Jade would have a court. Eventually, assuming he took this job, he would be in that court. His head started spinning.

He was oddly aware that the words Creston had put before him, coming from any other aged man would have sounded like so much bluster and wind. Coming from this man, though? Ilir believed every word. If he failed at this, there would be a price and he had no doubt that price would be his life.

some of those ties that you 'don't have anymore. That phrase in particular made his skin crawl. It harkened back to the fears that sometimes kept him up at night.

In the end, though, was it really a question? He hadn’t been drawn across the docks, bloodied and bedraggled, ready to tear apart any man that got in his way because he wanted a job, and when he took it, because of course he was going to, it wouldn’t be for the job itself. Not the job, or the title or the place in her eventual court. Not for the extra money, though Hanna would be pleased at that. He’d take it because there was no other option. Because he had to. Because even the voices inside of him that screamed to get away from here, from her, from everything were singing out to her. She was his queen, and he would serve. That question had been answered before it was ever asked.

Jade came over and he could feel her warmth even from a few feet away. He looked up at her as she told him he could think on it and then he did laugh, softly, shaking his head at her. “I don’t need to think about it.” He answered, still looking at her before his eyes shifted back to her father.

Ilir reached out, tentatively on a spear thread to Creston. When the other man accepted he told him the things he hadn’t been willing to say out loud. “You’ve taken a risk in trusting me, I know and appreciate that. I’ll take my own risk, in return. The reasons I gave are true, but not the whole truth. I think you know that. I believe you know of the prohibitions in Rihland and the kind of punishments they carry? I broke them and was punished for it. I left to escape that punishment.”

His whole body was flooded with fear then, though he was careful not to let it show. Would the other man think him weak for leaving? Dishonorable? Did he know about the prohibitions? Did he know what they did to the people who broke them? Did he understand how unjust they were? Had Ilir just ruined his chances of serving her as he wanted to? Would his life really be filled with the ache he felt to be near her, only sated ‘when she has free time’ to visit him while he toiled down at the docks?

After a beat he added “I’ll tell her, but I want to do it privately.” And then he let the thread drop, hoping and praying that he hadn’t risked too much in admitting what he considered to be one of his darkest secrets. He knocked back the rest his drink and at both of them.

“I thank you, Lord Ramsey.” He finally said aloud. “It would be my honor to protect her. I would give my life to ensure hers, I swear it by the darkness and the jewels that I wear.” And he meant every word of that. He stood then and reached a hand out for Jade, simply for the need of touching her.

“I don’t have any questions.” He answered, because it was true, though he was sure he should have had some to ask. Other than being allowed to serve her, nothing else seemed to matter. How much money would he be making? Didn’t matter. Where would he live? Didn’t matter? What about his sister? That one mattered, but he wasn’t going to ask it. He’d figure that one out later.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #27 on: Mar 13, 18, 11:59:48 AM »
"Good," Creston said, with a nod of finality. "It's settled, then." And that was all, really. No response to the deeply personal confession Ilir had made on a psychic thread. No acknowledgment that he'd let Ilir tell Jade in his own time. But then, no judgment, either. No additional threats. Creston Ramsey seemed to take the truth in stride and just keep going as though he hadn't heard anything. Unaware of Ilir's private attempt at conversation, Jade beamed at the apparent resolution. She leaned down to kiss her father's cheek before moving to take the hand Ilir extended towards her.

"Thank you," she murmured to the old man, who turned his head enough to kiss her cheek in return before she moved away. The young Queen then snaked her arm around Ilir's, and grinned proudly up at him. "C'mon. I'll show you the gardens," she told him, something faintly mischievous in the turn of her smile. With Ilir's assent, they'd bid goodbye to her father and Jade would guide the way towards the back of the manse, where a large set of glass doors opened onto an expansive, carefully manicured lawn. Topiaries and hedges bordered a wide, open space that had been tastefully appointed with places to sit, to eat, to relax. Beyond this decorated clearing was a wider arrangement of hedges, small trees, and flowering plants. A path wound lazily through the area, pausing now and then to circle around a marble sculpture or splitting off to offer options for those wanderers who wanted to veer in a different direction. Left unchecked, Jade would gradually lead Ilir to the far end of the gardens, where arched trellises carried a veil of roses over the pathway for a long and winding bit. In the middle of this rose-covered section, the trellises overhead broke away for a few feet. Between them, a stone bench was sat between topiaries, looking out over the remainder of the property that sloped gently downhill. Jade left Ilir's side only to take a seat, and then reached back for his hand to tug him to her side if he was slow about joining her.

During the walk, Jade had been content to speak if Ilir prompted, or content to just walk at his side and afford him some time to process things while they enjoyed the cool evening air. Once they were seated, though, she'd bump her shoulder softly against his and smirk up at him.

"Well, you haven't run away yet. I suppose that's a fair sign."

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #28 on: Mar 14, 18, 03:22:27 PM »
Ilir didn’t know what he’d expected from the other man after he’d said what he did, but he figured that Creston ignoring it or not reacting at all was probably one of the better outcomes. Still, he felt better for having done it.

He made a nod to Creston as Jade pulled him out into the clean evening air. It felt crisper and cooler due to the stark contrast with the warm, cozy room they’d just left. Ilir took in a deep breath and let it fill his lungs as he looked around the gardens. He was happy to have her on his arm, but he couldn’t find much to say and so they walked in silence.

Outside with only the lazy sounds of dusk around them his mind started to race through a million different thoughts but none of them managed to make its way to his lips. She seemed content enough with the silence and that pleased him. There was a certain unease that he always felt when he was obligated to make small talk. It was good that Jade didn’t seem the kind of person that expected that.

The grounds really were beautiful, though he took little notice of it. He was almost surprised to find their meandering stroll come to an end at the bench. Then she was pulling him down next to her and he felt the hard cold stone beneath him and her warmth next to him.

He laughed, shaking his head when she spoke. “I told you, my queen, I do not scare easily.”

He leaned forward, propping his elbows on his knees, looking out at the rolling grounds. His hands rubbed over his face as he took another deep breath before looking back at her. “I think my whole life just changed.” He said on a rushing exhalation of breath. He couldn’t help but chuckle, and the smile on his face would tell her that he didn’t lament the changes. It was just slightly…. Overwhelming.

“Tell me about yourself.” He said, leaning back closer to her again. He was intentionally trying to change the subject to something that focused on something, anything other than himself. Maybe that would stop the whir of thoughts that continued to spin through his brain.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #29 on: Mar 15, 18, 03:11:49 PM »
"Ughh," she groaned, when he told her he didn't scare easily. "Do me a favor, and when we're alone just call me Jade, huh?" She settled in against his side once he sat back, not shy about leeching warmth from him as the twilight descended into cooler air. "My Queen sounds so formal, and I don't want us to be formal." He commented on his life changing and she couldn't help but smile at that. She nodded.

"But for the better!" she assured him. "Even if your life was perfect before, it'll be moreso now. We're gonna help each other, Ilir. That's what the Bond's for."

Ilir asked that she tell him about herself, and she obliged him. For as long as he wished, she'd sit there nestled against him and quietly tell him as much or as little of her life story as he wanted. She'd capture one of his hands between both of hers, and slowly feed a trickle of her Touch into him while they talked. The pause that followed after he'd exhausted his questions wouldn't stretch out terribly long before she'd broach a question of her own.

"Earlier," she started, looking down at their twined hands while her thumb ran meditatively over the back of his. "When I said Jensen was worried you were gonna be competition, you acted like that wasn't an option," she said, trying and only mostly succeeding in veiling the way his almost flippant rejection had stung. "Why is that?" She at least did him the favor of not looking up at him while she asked it, though that was more to save her own feelings than any sort of consideration for him, really.

"I mean it didn't seem like you even thought about it. It's okay if we're not like that, I guess, but... I just..." She shrugged faintly, searching for words. Humility didn't come easily to the young Queen, and her discomfort with the topic was outstripped only by her wounded pride, which demanded some kind of reason as a salve for that wound. "Is it something about me you just don't like?"

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #30 on: Mar 18, 18, 07:16:47 PM »
He rather liked the way her nose wrinkled up when she protested his being so formal. There was a not so small part of him that intended to keep on doing just that so he could keep on seeing that expression. Outwardly, though, he gave a tip of his head to acquiesce. “Jade, then. But you’ve got to stop calling me Prince Dutra”

Then he was sitting back listening. She told him of her childhood, her father, her family, their home. On and on she talked and he was soothed by the sounds of her voice. Every little tidbit gave him another question to ask and she was always free with the answers. He couldn’t imagine that had the roles been reversed he would have been so willing. Maybe with her, though… maybe with her.

That hypothesis was quickly and easily put to the test when he found himself out of questions. It was her turn, she only had one question for him. One was enough to make his throat close and smash all of the calm her voice had given him over the last hour to pieces. His heart was racing, looking at her as she shifted her eyes away from him. He could feel her dejection as his rejection of her and it hurt him.

He sat for a minute in silence, his hand still in hers, his mouth completely dry. “You’re beautiful, you know.” He whispered, his voice cracking. “Of course you know that. You have eyes in your head and mirrors in your room. You know you’re breathtaking.”

His mind was racing, trying to find the words to say. The way to tell her. It should have been simple, easy. It should have been, but it wasn’t. He changed subject, trying a different tack. “You know where I came from? From Rihland? Do you know much about Rihland?” He’d wait for her answer, but whether it was agreement or denial wouldn’t matter much, he hurried on.

“There are rules there, you know?” Again, he didn’t wait for her to answer. “I… well, I broke those rules. I am… a walking broken rule there.” His voice faded off and his eyes stared off into darkness and nothing for a while. He was fully aware that he was making absolutely no sense.

He’d spent his life hiding this piece of himself, but even then he’d been able to share it in confidence with those he trusted. And he did trust her. He had no explanation except for those damned Black Widows and all of their webs. That place. That was what was making this harder. Had they changed him after all? At least put enough fear into him that he found these words so hard to say.

“If I were to take a woman to my bed, you would be the top of the list.” He said, not looking at her. “But…. I…. Well.” He forced himself to look back at her, kept her hand in his. “Jenson won’t have any competition from me. I haven’t had anyone warming my bed for some time now. If it is warmed again in the future…” He paused, summoning all of his nerve, though he couldn’t quite keep his eyes on hers. “It would be more likely to be someone like Jenson than you.” And after a beat he added “Though, preferably someone a lot less surly and stuck up.”

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #31 on: Mar 20, 18, 09:14:12 AM »
No, Jade didn't know much about Rihland. She only even coincidentally knew that anyone called it that, instead of Askavi. She'd heard vague notions that life was less civilized there than in LT, and in her head it was more farmland and small villages than the series of court-riddled cities she knew and loved. That was about the extent of her knowledge, though, so when Ilir spoke of "rules" she only shook her head and listened, gently frowning.

It was slow to sink in, what he was getting at. It had never even occurred to her that the truth was a possibility, and that would be quite clear when it did eventually register with her. Ilir said he was more likely to bed someone like Jenson, and her face crinkled in confusion for just a second before it exploded into open surprise.

"What?" She turned to face him more fully, but even that wasn't enough so she stood up. "Nooo," she complained, her expression shifting to something crestfallen. "Are you telling me that you're gay? Seriously?" Oblivious for the moment for just how difficult it'd been for him to share such a thing with her, the young Queen was currently blinded by what the revelation meant for all of her plans to seduce him. She hadn't expected it to be terribly difficult, with the Bond helping, but he'd just shifted her probability of success to something near absolute zero. It wasn't anger, but disappointment in losing the chance to bed him that had her suddenly so animated. She stepped forward and framed his face in her hands.

"You can't be. Not with this face. And this-- I mean, look at you! Are you sure? Ilir--" she flailed a little, emotionally, and stumbled over her words. "You're too hot to go for guys only." Despite her words, acceptance of the truth slowly shifted her tone from sincere objection to something more like idle complaining. If he let her, she'd bow her head and touch her brow to his, eyes closed.

"I really wanted to bang," she groused, almost petulant in tone.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #32 on: Apr 12, 18, 11:44:45 AM »
Ilir hadn’t told a great many people what he just shared with Jade, and the only woman he’d ever told was his sister. She hadn’t had quite the same reaction, obviously. He’d been nervous as he’d spoken the words and unsure of what her reaction would be, but there was something that had him convinced that with her it would be okay. It would be safe. He would be safe. She wouldn’t hurt him. She wouldn’t shun him and send him away. He was hers. That mattered, right?

And then she was standing, incredulous and looming over him. He didn’t even hear the words she was saying, and he didn’t meet her eyes, his face staring down at her feet, almost as if he expected blows to rain down on him.

It took a moment for him to register that her voice wasn’t furious, it was disappointed, and not in him, per se, but for the lost opportunity she’d apparently…. Expected to have with him. That expectation riled him for just a moment. Then she was touching him and a little bit of the certainty he’d had about her and their connection and his safety slipped back in.

“I… I’m sure, my lady. I can be. I am.” He mumbled, finally meeting her eyes.

“I mean… a penis is a penis. It’s not a terribly complex organ. If it’s something that’s important to you, I could make that happen.” But I wouldn’t enjoy it. . He didn’t say that last part, letting it hang unsaid between them.

He wasn’t going to tell her that he’d done that before. He wasn’t going to explain what it did to him to have to do it. He wasn’t going to talk about how not only did he not enjoy it, it made him feel disgraced. It felt like betraying himself.

“You’re a gorgeous woman, Jade.” He told her. “If… banging… is really want you want, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding someone to bang you. Jensen, for one, seems like just the type to jump at that chance.” He had a feeling that if those two weren’t banging, as she said, already, they would be in the near future.

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #33 on: Apr 13, 18, 10:55:55 AM »
"I'm not looking for someone, Ilir. I wanted you," she clarified, still sulking. She stood before him, hands resting atop his shoulders now, shoulders rounded in defeat. "The Darkness gave you to me, but not all of you? I dunno how to keep just part of you. You're telling me I'm going to have to share you with someone else, and I don't want to," she confessed, her brow furrowing as she spoke. Beneath the pouting there was legitimate emotion, though it was nebulous and hard to define. "I wanna be everything you need. I'm not saying I thought we'd get married or have kids or anything, but the only way I know how to do this is... all-in." It will cement the Bond, make it stronger, Jensen had told her, once. She hadn't cared about hesitating back then; she'd been so enamored with Jensen at the time and she'd never been through a Bond before. And things had been better, afterwards. That intimacy carried over into day to day trust, and to this day she knew Jensen would never hurt her. Not ever, not even at the cost of his own pain. Was it possible to achieve that same kind of trust without baring one's self wholly and completely? Jade's youth worked against her, and she was suddenly and uncomfortably uncertain.

But even as embroiled as she was in her own disappointment, she couldn't overlook Ilir's reaction. Still frowning, she lifted her hands to frame his face again, undeterred from the persistent urge to touch him, even if it wasn't (and now, she knew, never would be) anything more than platonic comfort. She studied his face, his eyes, and shook her head slightly.

"You're upset," she recognized, aloud. "I don't understand. Does it offend you to hear me talk about how I wanted to be closer to you?" Her tone wasn't the least bit sharp, but it was clear she didn't get why he'd be bothered by any of this. It wasn't as though she was trying to mount him right here and now, she told herself; they were only talking. Yet it had offended him somehow, she realized. Thinking back over the past few minutes, she recalled how some thread of his temper had pulled tight while she'd been speaking. And before that, when she'd first stood up, he'd stared at the ground like he'd wanted to disappear into it.

"Help me understand."

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #34 on: Apr 13, 18, 01:25:17 PM »
“You are all I need” He answered, immediately, as if by reflex. “And you don’t have to share me, if that is what you wish.” In truth, it had been a long time since he’d shared his bed with anyone, or fallen into another’s bed. It wasn’t something he was in a hurry to do. Even in rut, he’d usually been able to burn off that fiery flare of energy with his fists rather than his cock.

“Is there no other way you know to be ‘all-in’ that isn’t… literally in you?” He asked, the side of his mouth quirking up quite against his own will.

Her age was showing, Ilir could clearly see how young she was… and something else too. Bewilderment. She really didn’t understand. She was wrestling with something that was bigger than she’d been ready for.

She still touched him, though. That touch was comforting to him. It soothed the aches and scars she was unintentionally poking at with her questions and indignation. He wasn’t sure if it was something she was doing intentionally or not, but it helped regardless.

“It doesn’t offend me, Lady. Jade” he corrected himself, looking up into her eyes. “It bothers me that I can’t give you what you want. What you need of me. That I can’t be what you want.” He answered her truthfully, trying his hardest to keep any wavering shake out of his voice.

Help me understand she said and his mouth parched. She really didn’t understand.

“You really don’t know, do you?” He took a moment, pulling her down beside him again so long she gave no reservations to being moved so. He wanted to be on the same level as her. He wanted to look into her eyes without her looming above him. He’d told her father he would tell her, and now he would. She wanted him bared to her, and now he would be.

“Where I come from, being what I am is prohibited.” He couldn’t say the word. He’d never been able to say the word, but at least it was a place to start. His voice cracked and he held it just above a whisper. “It’s not the only thing forbidden. It’s one of many, but it is on the list. You get a few warnings. Fines, mostly. But eventually, they take you away. They…. Imprison maybe isn’t the right word, but maybe it is. I don’t know. It felt like a prison.” There it was, the first inkling that the things he was talking about, the truths he was telling her were concrete. These were things that he had endured and not just abstract facts about his homeland.

“There are these places, these camps. Little towns, really that they have set up. Black widows work there. They weave webs and work to ‘fix’ what’s wrong with you.” He was rambling and he knew it but he couldn’t stop. His eyes flicked away from hers every now and again when he found it hard to hold her gaze, too scared of what he might see there.

“If that doesn’t work, the last punishment, the last price they take… is your life.” He paused then, swallowing hard. Trying to find it in himself to go on. He hadn’t spoken of him in so long and it was so painful to do it. For her, though, for her he could.

“I had a lover once. A man. Nestor. I loved him with everything I had, and he loved me in return. We did our best to hide it. We were careful...” He trailed off for a moment, his eyes dropping away from her entirely for a moment, collecting himself.

“Not careful enough.” He continued. “He’d had one too many strikes, I guess. They killed him. Killed him in front of me. I saw him die, and then they took me. They… they took me to one of those camps and they let the Black Widows “work” with me.”

Slowly, he brought his eyes back to her face. “My sister saved me, with some help. We were able to migrate here. This is a place where being what I am isn’t prohibited. Where I’m not an aberration. Where I don’t need to fear being fined, imprisoned or killed for taking a lover. This… this was a new life. A safe life and that’s not something I’ve ever known, at least not since I realized who and what I really am, inside”

He’d poured out as much as he could and the silence that followed was deafening. He was certain he’d made a fool of himself, that he’d just rambled complete nonsense at his Queen and she wouldn’t understand any better than she had before.

“Finding you on that dockside today was the best thing that’s happened to me in as long as I can remember…. Since…. “ Nestor. He left the last unsaid. “So, no, Lady, I’m not offended. I’m.... disappointed that I seem to find myself still lacking, and for the same reason. It pains me that I can’t give you want you need.”

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #35 on: Apr 13, 18, 05:39:02 PM »
You are all I need, he said, a little too quickly. It sounded defensive, the kind of thing he'd say to make her feel better instead of out of real thought. But it didn't matter, in the end. He said it and it soothed her some, allowed her to draw in a deep breath and huff it out softly. With it, she released some of the pent up frustration she felt. He promised that if she wanted, she wouldn't have to share him, and that both fascinated and bothered her. It was a tremendous thing he'd offered, in those deceptively simple words. He was not only Blood, but a Warlord Prince. She'd never met one who didn't treat fucking like a regular requirement, like eating or breathing. Was it different for Ilir, for some reason? It had to be, didn't it? Otherwise how could he offer such a thing? She shook her head, but hadn't assembled a response to the idea before he made his quip about being all in.

"I mean... I guess?" she replied with a dramatic sigh, hanging on to that trace of tease in his words. "We'll have to figure it out, I guess," she conceded, more quietly. Still a touch sullen, she frowned when he addressed her as Lady again, though the frown eased when he corrected himself. What he said next warmed the sulk right out of her, though. He looked up into her eyes and voiced his regret, regret that she had inspired, and it made her heart hurt. Physically, it felt like, a dull pain gripped her chest, and her hands on his face became more focused, more centered.

"Stop," she said softly. "You don't have to be anything other than who you are. Maybe this will be different than what I expected, but it doesn't mean it's not what it's supposed to be. It doesn't mean it's not right." The words came out almost without her intent. It wouldn't have mattered what words sprang forth just then, she would've made them true if they helped to ease that tender note in his voice. 

He pulled her down to sit at his side, and she didn't object. She would've climbed into his lap if she'd been sure he wouldn't have misinterpreted it. Something about the moment seemed vulnerable to her already, and she didn't want to be any further from him than she had to be. There was nothing to protect him from, and maybe the idea of this young woman who did not even have an Offering giving protection to this Warlord Prince with one of the darkest Jewels in the Province was laughable, but that didn't change how she felt. She wanted to shield him from whatever had drawn the pallor into his cheeks, whatever had slipped that haunted look into his eyes.

Jade settled for holding both of his hands in hers, her body turned towards him, thighs touching. She remained there, mostly unmoving, while he began to tell her about what he'd endured before he'd left the land that'd birthed him. At first she was bewildered. She didn't understand why anyone would be so vehemently against something that seemed to insignificant in the greater scheme of things. They weren't opposed to sex, just... sex with certain people? It struck her as bizarre, and she didn't understand the logic. But the longer Ilir spoke, the more that confusion was replaced by displeasure and then full-on anger. Her hands tightened their grips on his, and her chest began to rise and fall in short, livid breaths. Every new detail Ilir added to the story compounded her wrath, until she was near to shaking with it, teary-eyed and silent. She couldn't think about soothing Ilir, though she should have. She was too incensed on his behalf, too beside herself with a fury that called for blood.

It was only Ilir's turn, his switching of the narrative towards all of the opportunity and promise he found in Little Terreille, that pulled her back from seeing red. She was still angry, still tangled up in despair and rage on his behalf, but for the moment there was something more important than her anger.

"No," she countered, with a shake of her head. "I don't need it. Okay? I didn't know, but now I do. And if you don't stop calling me Lady I'm going to throttle you." Her teeth clenched together at the last, and though her voice softened with the threat there was sincerity there, too. "Listen to me. Whoever you are, whatever makes you up, you are mine, Ilir. None of the rest of it matters. It's gonna be you and me for the rest of our lives, okay? If I have to learn how to share to be happy, then by the gods, I'll learn it. Cause Darkness help anyone who tries to get in the way of you having someone to love, do you hear me? Not even I'm allowed to do that. Come on," she said, getting up at the last and taking his hand with her, intent on tugging him to his feet.

"We're going back to see papa," she said, jaw trembling again with how angry she was. Her mind was a whirlwind of anguish and rage. "We're gonna tell him what you told me and we'll find out what people we have in Rihland. And if we don't have any then we'll get some and we'll find those bastards and make them hurt the way they hurt you."

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #36 on: Apr 13, 18, 07:14:36 PM »
You are mine. Three words and they were all that need be said. It was as if those three words made everything in the world right. This was his new life, and it was safe, and he was hers and she was his and a peace fell over him.

The peace didn’t last very long, between her threatening to throttle him and the pure fury he saw rise in her as she got to her feet. He was dragged with her a few stumbling steps until he heard the words she was saying and her destination and intention sank in.

His feet rooted to the ground and between his greater size and strength and the little bit of power he pushed into his legs to hold him rooted to that spot, neither of them were going anywhere. “No.” He said and pulled her back to him. “No, Jade.” He turned her around to face him and it was his turn to take her face in his hands.

His own features showed a swirling myriad of emotion. There was a haze of tenderness in looking at her along with the shreds of the pain he’d just expelled and underneath it all, a hint of fear. Because he was afraid. No matter how strong he was or how dark his jewels, that place, those people, they scared him. More than that, though, they didn’t matter anymore. Not right now. Maybe a day would come and he would have his revenge. For himself. For Nestor. For every other person like the two of them. This was not that time, though, and greater than his fear, he felt resolve and she would see that in his eyes too.

“They’ll pay.” He said to her, looking down into her face, his thumb rubbing against her jaw. “I’ll have my revenge. Right now, the best revenge I can take from them is a happy life. A life well lived. They tried to take it from me, and they failed. I have you now. I will have that life.”

He leaned in closer to her, feeling her breath on his face, pressing his forehead against hers. “You know, Lady, there are many kinds of love. Plenty of them don’t involve being naked.” He kissed her cheek briefly before stepping quickly back from her, just in case she planned to make good on her threat to throttle him.

“Plus” He added, reaching for her hand. “I already told your father.”

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #37 on: Apr 13, 18, 10:45:52 PM »
No, he said, and the next thing Jade knew she was facing him again, yanked back towards him by his sudden unwillingness to move. She opened her mouth to argue, but he put his face on her hands and the gesture stilled her. She closed her mouth and waited to hear him speak, but the pain and fear that swirled through him kept the fuse of her anger lit, and her teeth clenched again.

"You're damned right they will," she echoed, to his assertion that "they" would pay. Her voice was sharp, viscerally edged with all the spit of a wounded animal. Eyes that had merely been glossy before spilled over with tears now, as her anger sought any means of escape it could find. "You're a Ramsey now. Your name may be Dutra, but you're a Ramsey now. And a Ramsey always pays his debts." Her chin trembled as she inhaled, rehashing the memory of the things he'd said, the things he'd felt. Never in her life had she endured the kind of suffering Ilir had. She'd never even seen such a thing up close. To feel it resounding even in a mere echo from the man so deeply attached to her, it spun her out and left her reeling. She hardly knew what to do with herself, but the tried and true method of plying her father to the problems she couldn't solve by herself was instinct, now. She meant to keep heading in that direction, but Ilir's hands on her face and the way he looked down at her so directly kept her in place for the moment. He promised her that living a happy life was enough payback for now, but it seemed grossly unfair, to her.

He kissed her cheek, and whether it was that or the fact that he'd called her "Lady" again that made her eyes close and linger there was hard to say. She breathed a few breaths intentionally, trying to calm herself down, until he tugged on her hand and she opened her eyes to find him again.

"You didn't tell him everything," she said, as confidently as though no other possibility existed. "And even if you did, he hasn't heard it from me yet. If he knows it's important to me, he'll do it," she said. But Ilir's apprehension, the way he'd said no took a great deal of the wind out of her sails. As much as she wanted to have those responsible for his pain tracked down and repaid, the last thing she wanted was to cause him more pain in doing so. She faltered, frowned, pulled on his hand until one body or the other was forced to move and close the distance between them. Her arms wrapped around him, held so tightly to him that her shoulders bunched. Her Queen's Touch bled into him freely, infusing him with every bit of comfort she could invest into him, and silent, frustrated tears made little wet patches against his shirt.

"Please don't call me Lady," she said, her voice muffled by the way her face pressed against him. Pain and sadness threaded through every syllable, making it seem like the world was breaking without that promise from him. "I don't wanna be Lady with you. Not with you."

Offline Ilir Dutra

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Re: Now it's all eyes on us, and this all lies on trust...
« Reply #38 on: Apr 13, 18, 11:10:14 PM »
He saw the tears spilling over the edges of her lower lashes and each drop tore at him. Even as she cried, though, he was surprised to find himself ever more impressed with her. There was a fire in her that burned so brightly right now. It was rage, and fury and pain and a hundred other things, but it was bright and something about that made him proud of her. She hadn’t made the offering yet, but when she did, he would be there and he would see her walk away with a piece of the Darkness just as strong as she was. The thought of that brought a soft, almost wistful smile to his lips.

“I told him enough” He told her, pushing a soothing into his deep voice. He folded her into his arms and let her make her little wet patches on his shirt. He felt her soothing him as he soothed her and everything in that moment felt right. It felt safe. It felt like home.

She felt like home. She was his home now, he thought, and the smile she couldn’t see with her face buried into his chest widened a little.

He’d been teasing her when he called her Lady, but he heard the hurt in her voice now and felt immediate regret for it. He pulled her back just enough to look down into her dewey wet eyes. “Okay, Jade.” He whispered to her. “I promise. You’ll only ever be Jade to me. My Jade. Mine.” He kissed the top of her head again and pulled her back to him, holding her tightly in a dusk that was fading into night. He was certain that if he hadn’t been holding her, and she him, he wouldn’t have been able to believe that this was possible. That this was real. There was still a part of him that expected to wake in the morning to find himself drunk or concussed, lying in an alley, having had the most wonderful dream of a beautiful girl and a powerful bond and a promise of a future.

 

 

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