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Topics - Sarina al-Sabbah

Pages: 1
Pruul / Can You Drown Under Waves of Sand?
« on: Sep 26, 19, 09:55:56 PM »
Set about a week after

She. Had. Failed.

Every thought of every day circled back to that one.

The Queen was certain she saw derision or hatred in every face she saw, especially the one that looked out of her mirror every morning that showed both in ever increasing measures.

Prince Matin’s presence in her room and in her life was a constant hammerblow on her heart and Sarina couldn’t look him in the eye. It wasn’t easy avoiding someone who had moved into her suit but Sarina was giving it her strongest effort. She checked each morning and each evening to make sure she hadn’t dreamed that he was still alive, but other than that Sarina pretended he wasn’t even there.

Nightmares plagued what little sleep she managed to get. Food tasted like sand and sat  in her stomach like rocks.

Whispers followed her as she walked the hallways of the Sabbah Residence, even when no one else was around.

There was no comfort to be had from her males. There was no comfort in solitude.

Even making herself bleed only brought a fraction of a moment’s distraction.

Now though…

Sarina hadn’t eaten in almost three days. She’d been pushing food around on her plate until her males were distracted and she could vanish it. Guilt over that horrible waste threatened to make her buckle under the weight she carried on her soul. There were still people starving on the streets of Onn who would probably kill for the food she threw away. Every time she did it, Sarina couldn’t stop herself from digging her nails into her thigh until blood welled up around them. There was something wrong with her. Didn’t they see that? She didn’t deserve to eat, but Danyal and Ehsan wouldn’t stop putting food on her plate.

Sarina had memorized every crack in the wall by her bed over the last two nights as she stared at it through the night. Sleep wouldn’t come to her. She dug her nails into the cracks and pulled at the stones until her fingers bled. She didn’t manage to make so much as a single new crack, but seeing her blood smeared on the wall brought her the slightest measure of peace before she guiltily vanished the blood and pressed her fingers into her mattress to staunch the blood.

Morning came and Sarina dressed mutely. Breakfast was served and Sarina couldn’t even bring herself to pick up the fork. She simply turned away and moved to sit in her window without a word.

I’m done pretending. If I don’t eat it, surely they’ll give it to someone who deserves it. Then I won’t have to feel that failure at least.

Pruul / Shred My Heart and Eat it with Sauce
« on: Jul 17, 19, 11:53:14 AM »
The first fingers of blood-red dawn were just barely touching the sky behind her as Sarina climbed the stairs to the wall. The color of the sky seemed fitting for what she must do and she felt sure it was an omen - though good or bad and for whom exactly, she could not say. Her feet were leaden but the young Queen was determined not to show it. For his sake, she mustn't let her feelings show.

She rested her hands on the railing in front of her as she searched the crowd below, wondering if her people had taken the warning last night. How many had used the extra hours to pack like she'd wanted them to? Would any of them try to stay in their homes? Please let them be smarter than that. She hoped - prayed really - that they would have gone to the Izar since it would be impossible to leave the city under such short notice. Would they be turned away? Lady Elenor trusted the Warlord Prince of the new Clan, had said that Sarina could trust Lucky al-Izar to help, but….

She waited, sensing Lady Shira’s impatience at her back. She would like to get this over with, would like to see that the Black Widow had kept her word, would like to see with her own eyes the Healer tending to him. This was a performance though, and one that everyone had to see for all their sakes.

When sounds of restlessness and agitation began drifting up from the crowd, Sarina straightened, lifting her hands as if in supplication. When silence fell, the Queen set her hands back on the railing and began speaking. Her voice was clear with no indication of her inner turmoil but she needed the physical support to get through this. She had practiced throughout the night, hoping to harden her heart enough to get through this.

“My people. I have gathered you together today to share with you a vision of the future of Clan Sabbah. We have suffered many wounds these past few years, but that time of sorrow is behind us. From today onward, we will rise once more to glory, returning the name ‘Sabbah’ to greatness. We were once the strongest of all the Clans of Pruul and I believe that we will be once more, now that we have cast down the lies of the Wormcaller and embraced the True and Sacred path the desert herself chose for us.

Under the unlawful tyranny of the False Queen, we were twisted into a corrupt mockery of our once-great people. She polluted our homes, our hearts, and our minds, with fast-growing weeds. Those roots tore us apart, caused division where there should be only unity, and so today I am here to right what she wronged, and that begins by casting out the last of the weeds she allowed to grow unchecked amongst us. This is a necessity, for if even one were to remain it could spread and suffocate us all, so I implore and command you, my people, to heed my words as law.”

She ached to feel the release of tension and fear that came when she let her blood flow. She didn’t dare. Not with Lady Shira standing at her side. Not with people of uncertain tempers standing below her.

“On this day, I proclaim Clan Sabbah pure. Only those of Pruulian blood will have the honor of wearing our sacred symbols and call our fires theirs. Those whose long-lived blood corrupts no longer have any place amongst our ranks. They are henceforth banished from our Clan and Tribes, stripped of all power, all titles, all possession. Their water will not contaminate our cisterns but be spread upon the dunes in treaty to the desert to forgive our complacency and our sin in allowing their kind shelter for so long.

Each long-lived and foreign-born who has claimed to be of Clan Sabbah has one day to shed their cuffs, return their Khanjars, and leave our Quarter. Any found in defiance of this order will be sentenced to death. Any True-blooded member of Clan Sabbah found helping these impure thieves who would take the resources we need to survive and hoard them over the long years of their lives will share in their fate.”

They were going to hate her. She knew that. She had made peace, of a sort, with that knowledge. As long as they stayed safe, they could have her head on a platter some day.

“Clan Sabbah will be pure, the infection of Fin al-Sabbah and Elenor Lirion has been wiped away and we will begin to heal. It might seem to you that these actions are unjust, but like lancing a wound, it is necessary to rid ourselves of infection to heal strong. I count on each of my citizens to enforce my laws and the laws of the desert.”

She wanted to justify herself. Tell them that it was better this way. That she’d given them as much of a head start as she could. That they would be safer this way, away from her insane family. She wanted to tell them that the Sabbah didn’t deserve kind, wonderful people like them and that she didn’t want them tarnished by what the True Sabbah were making of their Clan.

She wanted to tell them all this, but she didn’t. Even though it was true, it would no one any good to say so. Maybe someday, when it was all over then she would be able to tell them, to beg their forgiveness. It wouldn’t matter if that day came or not though. The damage would already be done, was already in progress.

“Stand united, my brethren. There will be dark days ahead. The other Clans will see this action as a threat, for we are banishing our weakness and becoming strong. They will challenge us, but we will endure like the mountains we were named for. The desert will reward her most loyal and True. The Worms came to warn us of our corruption and we listened. We cast down the False Queen and they retreated from our walls. We won then, and we will continue to win each battle and conquer each challenge that comes our way, for we are the Sabbah.

May the Darkness bless you.”

She slipped a hand inside her pocket where she fingered the knife Lady Elenor had left for Danyal to find, the temptation to use it almost overwhelming. She wouldn’t though. That was the coward’s way out. She had chosen who was going into the cave and who was staying out to face the storm but she couldn’t for the life of her say which group was which.

Thanks to DragonGirl for the Shira words in Sarina's mouth

Pruul / To Transplant the Living
« on: Jun 23, 19, 02:10:41 PM »
It was exhilarating to be out in the reqlative open of the city, not cooped up inside the walls of the residence. It had been weeks since Sarina had seen a space larger than her courtyard garden from anywhere nearer than her bedroom window. The Queen didn't even want to think about the months it had been since she had seen open desert, let alone walked among the dunes.

Her freedom was entirely illusionary, but the young Queen was willing to pretend for a short while.

It was also heartbreaking to be on the streets of the city. There were still so many signs of devastation - ash and rubble and just misery. She sighed viewing the damage that weeks had yet to erase. Her people had a lot to answer for.

 Sarina had in her pocket a small bag of seeds she had acquired that she had soaked in a small bowl of her blood overnight once the plans for this trip had been made. Every time she found a patch of dirt somewhat protected by the side of a building, Sarina would make an excuse to pause so she could dig a small hole with the heel of her foot so she could drop a few seeds and cover them back up. She was pretty sure she’d managed to plant at least three dozen avens seeds. If any of her companions had noticed, they weren’t saying anything - yet.

“Lady Naya, thank you again for agreeing to come with me. I needed to return this book to the library and I know I could have sent someone to take it back, but I just really needed a change of scenery.”

Pruul / When things come together
« on: Dec 08, 18, 07:14:46 PM »
Sarina stared down at the remains of her breakfast,  not seeing it. A part of the young Queen was still was still basking in the euphoria of the previous night - and she felt like she was at once both a new person and still the same within her skin.

An increasingly larger part of Sarina's consciousness was occupied with another issue altogether. The young woman had lately been plagued by a sense of urgency.  She had honestly thought it was because of those books Lady Elenor had loaned her and how they made Sarina feel…and how they made her notice the people around her in a way she never had before… She had thought that - once her Virgin Night was complete - the urgency would be replaced with either a sense of relief or a sense of longing for something she still didn't have; namely a person she cared for who wanted her, just her.

That, however, was decidedly not the case. No,  instead Sarina felt an even greater sense of urgency now. She was being driven by some instinct to do…something.  She just had to figure out what that something was.

Absently Sarina started to dig into the back of her hand with her fork, but she caught herself before the fork had done more than barely touch her skin. With great deliberation, the young Queen set her fork down on the table and covered it with her fork in the hopes of removing temptation. She rested her hands palm up on the table in what had become  her I-will-not-harm-myself pose.

Abruptly she pushed back from the table, beginning to pace with a nervous energy she couldn't contain.  “I know what I need to do.” She said this out loud to her empty room because that made it more real, more final.

On a psychic thread she called to the now familiar mind of her Bonded *Danyal? Can you please find out if I can speak with Lady Sabbah as soon as possible?*

As she  waited, she continued to pace restlessly,  each lap of her room bringing with it a heightened need for action. When the response came that Lady Elenor was on her way, Sarina finally stopped pacing and set about clearing her breakfast away and making sure her room was as neat as it could be. She spared a moment to make sure she herself was equally presentable,  before turning to watch the door.

When the knock came, followed by Lady Elenor's entrance,  the younger Queen didn't even stop to properly greet her mentor. Instead, she stepped forward and gripped Lady Elenor's hands in entreaty. “I have to make Offering today Lady Sabbah, I can't wait any longer.”

Pruul / When You Need Advice, Go to the Expert
« on: Nov 21, 18, 02:35:21 PM »
Sarina walked briskly through the halls to Lady Judiah’s rooms. She had sent a note to the Consort, asking for a chance to speak privately with the older woman. A reply had come back with a time and so the young Queen was on her way. She had told her males that this was something she needed to do alone, and although there was some grumbling from both men, neither had pushed the issue. Sarina had told them where she was going, and that it involved women’s issues, and that if it was going to take more than a couple of hours, she would check in with them. It had reassured them somewhat.

Coming to her destination, the young Queen stopped, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door calling out softly “Lady Judiah? It’s Sarina.” When the door opened, she stepped inside, greeting the older woman properly.

“Thank you for agreeing to see me, Lady Judiah. I came to ask for advice. I’m having my Virgin Night tonight, and I wanted to ask what I can do to make it successful?”

Judiah took a moment to sit comfortably in a chair, waving her visitor to the other.  “In my opinion, most of the success of a Virgin Night lies within the Escort, his skills and confidence but on your end, you need to be controlled.  Not passionless, because there can be much passion to be found but control of your fear.  A witch's instinct is to fight to preserve her inner webs.   A good Escort will know how to distract and protect those inner webs to save you from even yourself, which is why it is usually a darker male who performs this task. Fear will cause you to rush for your depths, to try to protect your inner webs but the rush is uncontrolled and you could break yourself in your panic."  She thinks a moment, "Have you chosen your Escort or is Lady Elenor choosing for you?"  Judiah's mind began to think through the men that El might trust to this task.  Bashir certainly not, nothing against the boy but he was still young and impulsive.  Perhaps Danyal, since he was already bonded to the girl but he was more a fatherly figure and might be too awkward. Matin? Oh Darkness save us, she really hoped it wasn't Matin. He might have the skill but .... no, perhaps that new fellow, the Grey jeweled male who appeared at the Court pronouncement.  He was handsome enough and was probably very well skilled and versed.

Sarina had taken the seat indicated and listened intently as the other woman spoke. This was something she desperately needed to hear. She answered the question, though she was a little confused why it mattered to Lady Judiah.

“Lady Sabbah made a suggestion that I agreed with. It will be with Prince Desius.”

Judiah paused for only a second, anyone unfamiliar with her expressions minutely might not have caught the flicker in her eyes, a gnat's heartbeat of change in the golden depths.  "Cassius?  Well....he is certainly extremely skilled and has the training for such a task.    May I ask, why him?  Not that I have a moment's doubt that he will make the experience ecstasy but he has just returned from a deep heart wound and I worry."

Sarina thought for a moment before answering. "I believe  Lady Sabbah's reasoning is that he is not connected to her personally or the Sabbah in general so there is no worry that he might...sabotage me.  As for me - " she trailed off in thought, trying to find the right words.  "He has been kind to me in a way that literally no one else has. Lady Sabbah said that there were other options,  but... " She shrugged.  "I don't know that  there is time for me to get to know any of them.  I feel like there is a sense of urgency, and anyway I do like Prince Decius."

Judiah nodded sagely, "Lady Sabbah's reasoning is sound, though given the True Sabbah's intense dislike for foreigners, I can just begin to imagine the scandal of a Hayllian in such a place of trust but quite frankly, they can go sunbath with the Sandworms for all I care about what they think."   

She smiled at Sarina, "It is important that you trust your Escort, it will lessen the fear somewhat and make things easier.  I wish I could tell you that you have all the time you need to prepare but I believe you are correct. There is a sense of urgency, things are speeding along quite quickly and the sooner you are safely within your Offering strength, the stronger you will be to stand on your own for the things to come."

Sarina smiled back at the Consort. “I do trust him... Not because of why Lady Sabbah does... Or at least that’s not all of it. I guess it’s his kindness and just a feeling that I have. " She looked at the older woman. "But I want to make it easier for him too."

Judiah smiles warmly, "Yes, he is a very kind lad, despite all that was done to him.."  She shook her head slightly, "I had not seen Cassius in many years but at his core he is much like me, he enjoys in the giving of pleasure.  So my advice to make it easier for him is to allow yourself to enjoy his skills.  I did and it was a well worth experience.   Trust in him and all will go well for both of you.  Nothing will please him more than seeing you through safely and quite well sated."  Judiah winked, "and if you enjoyed yourself, don't be afraid to ask for seconds.  He has quite the stamina to please."

Sarina blushed. "I don't think my enjoyment will be an issue Lady Judiah. "

Judiah winked at the blushing girl," No, I have seen first hand how well you can let yourself get swept up in pleasure.  This will be pleasing to Cassius as well."

Sarina's blush intensified. "I just... I just don't want to trigger any bad memories for him again. "

Judiah nodded, "Ah yes, his Queenling who is missing.  Hmmm....if you’re worried about Cassius’ reaction to your Queen scent, distract him from his own thoughts by showing him your own enjoyment.  Don't hold back ....think of the night with Elenor when you let yourself be free and sensual.  He will focus more on your reactions than his own ghosts and both of you will be much better for it."

Sarina nodded thoughtfully. “I can do that...I think. Thank you again, Lady Judiah”

The two women chatted for a little while longer, the older woman keeping things light hearted to keep the young Queen relaxed. Eventually though, Sarina rose. “I had better go, Lady Judiah, before Danyal or Rasheed come looking for me. Thank you again, for everything.”

Judiah only smiled kindly at the girl and shooed her on her way, closing the door behind her.

written with Lene

Fall 193, Following Queens will Queen.

Something Buried
Contains discussion of self-harm and mental illness.
Sarina stood uncertainly outside the closed door with her hand raised to knock, but she couldn’t bring herself to complete the action. She looked unhappily at Danyal who had escorted her here from her own room. The young Queen hadn’t told him why she wanted to speak with the Court Priestess just that she needed to. She knew she should tell him why she was here and she knew she probably should have discussed this whole thing with him first, but she was afraid to. She was afraid of so many things right now. She knew her Bonded only wanted what was best for her and she knew he was concerned about her seeing Adel. Sarina hoped he knew he could trust her - but did he trust the Priestess? Honestly, did Sarina trust the Priestess? She just didn’t know - but her only other option for following Lady Sabbah’s order was to speak to Lady Shadya and Sarina could admit to herself at least that the Black Widow terrified her. And at least Sarina already knew Adel and that she wouldn’t be outright mean to Sarina. The Queen just had to worry about being betrayed.

Sarina shook her head, she couldn’t think about that now. She had promised Lady Sabbah that she would follow the older Queen’s instructions without complaint so this was something she had to do. Talking to Adel was not nearly so scary as the idea of talking to Lady Shadya or talking to Danyal and Rasheed. She looked at Danyal again and this time she couldn’t help herself - Sarina threw herself at her Bonded, her shoulders shaking with the effort of keeping herself calm.

Danya’s arms tightened around her, holding her close while he murmured, “Perhaps this should wait until another day, Lady Sarina?”

She didn’t say anything but finally whirled away from the strong arms of her Bonded to knock on the door before she could lose all her courage. Fervently the young Queen hoped the Priestess was in her room. The door thankfully opened and she was bid to enter with a look of surprise on the occupant’s face. She did so, asking Danyal to come back for her later. She didn’t wait for him to agree but shut the door on any protests he had, whispering a psychic **I’m so sorry** to him and him alone as she did so.

For what seemed like a long time, Sarina and Adel stared at each other, neither saying anything. Sarina was searching Adel’s face for a hint of what they were to each other. Were they friends yet? She hoped so, or this might be a big mistake. She hoped so, because she really needed a friend right now. She hoped so, because she felt so alone. She searched Adel’s face, not even noticing if they were alone or what might be in the room.

At last, though Sarina could not have said if it was mere seconds later or an hour, the young Queen spoke. “I’m sorry to bother you. Can I talk to you?”

Adel let Sarina into his room and offered her coffee, gently pressing her when she refused but not insisting. His room is sparsely furnished and they sit down on a pair of cushions on the floor. He waits silently for her to continue at her own pace.

She sat now, staring at her hands. She’d refused the offers of coffee because she didn’t want to make a mess or waste anything - she’d done enough of that just by existing. “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know where to start. Lady Sabbah said I had to talk to someone. I thought maybe - if you wouldn’t mind - I don’t - I can’t -” Sarina wasn’t even really aware of what she was saying. Without really thinking about it, she pushed up the sleeves of her pale green dress without a word, showing the series of bruises - some were faded almost away, some an angry black and blue, and over all of them were a set of angry red lines on each arm where the Queen had dragged her nails viciously over the older bruises seeking the pain that would give her calm, give her focus, give her courage and let her be here today. Doing so once hadn’t been enough; she’d had to do it again on her other arm before she felt strong enough to seek the Priestess out. She didn’t look at her companion, didn’t want to know what expression would be written over Adel’s face. She just sat there, both arms extended and her head bowed, her mouth silent and her heart thundering, feeling ashamed and a little faint.

Sarina felt Adel’s hands on hers, fingertips brushing against her palms and wrists. The Queen jerked, but didn't look up.

“Thank you for coming to me.” The Priestess’s voice was gentle and measured, not judgmental, not angry, not disappointed.

When Sarina spoke, her voice was barely a whisper. “Lady Sabbah said I needed to get help with this, but I -” she drifted off. At last she looked up at the Priestess, her eyes almost devoid of the fear and shame she felt, but rather full of anxiety. “I don't know how to ask. What do I do?”

Adel’s eyes searched the Queen’s and she shifted back on her cushion. “You have taken the first step, and it’s alright that you needed help to take it. That in itself is brave.” She paused. “Does anyone other than Lady Elenor know?”

Sarina shook her head. “Not unless Lady Sabbah has told anyone. I've - I've always hidden it. I honestly don't even know how she realized it was issue. I was... supposed to tell Lord Danyal and Prince Rasheed, but I - I just can't. Lady Sabbah already accused me of...trampling their hearts was how she put it I think... for wanting to help her with her problem with Lady Shira. How much worse is this? Especially for Rasheed…?”

She fidgeted, unhappy with herself. “It's...I'm afraid of them being angry or anything else.”

“I know you have only recently met Lord Danyal, but has Prince Rasheed ever deliberately hurt you?”

Sarina’s eyes widened. “No!” she exclaimed, horrified at the idea. She was quiet for a long moment, long enough that Adel would have been forgiven for thinking she wouldn’t say anything else. In a small voice, the young Queen added, “I’ve hurt him before.” She bit her lip, but didn’t elaborate. She looked away again, hunching in on herself.

Adel gave her a moment before speaking again. “Which do you fear more, that you might hurt him or that he would respond with anger? Or is there something else?”

Sarina whispered, “He doesn't deserve to be hurt. If they don't know, they can't be hurt can they?” She was mortified to feel a tear trickling down her face and she wiped it away fiercely.

“Secrets are tricky things, and the longer you keep them the more difficult they become.” Adel paused. “Blood Males are bound to protect, both by Protocol and by instinct. Hiding your pain from your Bonded may shield their emotions, but it is a lie that you can't keep forever and once it comes out there will be a price, for you and for them. If they truly care for you and your wellbeing, they would rather hurt and know what you need from them than be denied the chance to help.”

Sarina's voice was bitter. “I've kept it a secret for more than ten years - more than half my life! Why couldn't I just keep it longer?” Angry tears were falling fast and thick now, but Sarina didn't pay any attention to them. “If she'd minded her own business, I would have the secret still and everything would be fine! No one would have to know and I wouldn't have to worry about losing control and hurting the people I care about!” The young Queen's voice became a whine,  “Everything would be fine!”

Adel didn’t respond immediately, allowing Sarina her emotions and tears. “Lady Sarina, I would like you to try to take a step back from what you are feeling right now. If you learned that Prince Rasheed had lied to you because he thought the truth would cause you pain, how do you imagine it would feel?”

Sarina wiped at her eyes. “That's different.” Her tone was mulish. She grimaced, ashamed of how childish she sounded. Sarina closed her eyes, taking several deep breaths trying to center herself. As she did so, the fingers of her right hand dug nails into the back of her other hand.

She sighed. “I'd like to say that if I knew that he had a reason to keep it from me that I would understand. But I'd be upset.” She clenched her hands into fists and and looked at Adel, a stubborn set to her face. “But that would only be if I found out,” she pointed out, reasonably she thought. “I still don't think there's any reason they should have to find out.”

“Even if I accept that, does that make it alright? If you steal something from someone that you are sure they will never miss, does that make it, morally, not a theft?” Adel reached for Sarina’s hand again, turning the left to show the red crescents left by her nails. “And if you are so determined that no one else will find out, why don't you Heal yourself?”

As Adel spoke to her, Sarina's eyes clouded in confusion. What did that have to do with anything? Of course theft was wrong, but this was about keeping someone's heart intact. Totally different, not related at all.

As the Priestess took her hand, Sarina felt a faint spark of something unfamiliar but it was completely overshadowed by Adel’s next words.

“I - I - I don't -” she floundered, her voice rising in pitch as horror suffused her. She covered her left hand, still held by the Priestess. “I don't know how,” she admitted, her voice small. “I've never left a mark where I couldn't hide it.” The young Queen looked desperately at Adel. “Can you do it?”

“No.” Adel's voice was flatter than it had been, a bit exhausted but not unkind. “I am not able to, and if I were I would… not refuse, but I would want to be very careful about the reason I was doing it. You have a long and difficult journey if you choose to take it, and it is very easy to make small excuses and justifications and for those small things to overtake the progress you have made.”

Sarina’s face crumpled. “You can’t?” She was full of desperation. “Now what do I do?” She hugged herself tight. “Do you think I can just hide my hand in my sleeve so they don’t notice? Or should I go straight to the garden so I can wear gloves and hide it that way?” She looked pitifully at the Priestess as she shook with horror. “I don’t know if I can tell them. I don’t - I can’t - “ She curled her knees up so she could hide her face in them and wailed “They’ll hate me!”

“I doubt that. Trust me when I assure you that it incredibly difficult for a male to harbor hatred for his Bonded Queen, even when he has every reason to, which yours do not. What you have done is not action worthy of hatred. If they are angry, it will come from a place of concern and caring for you and guilt for not having seen it before.” Adel chewed on her lip as she thought. “I would say that whether you deal with this is ultimately your choice, Lady Sarina, but I don't think that can be true. As a Ward of this court, I have a responsibility to help you in this as surely as Prince Dyslin has to ensuring your safety. I cannot, in good conscience, tell you that if you choose not to face this problem I will accept that decision, but I will give you options for how this battle is fought. If you do not currently have the strength to tell your males, you can wait, but understand that a time will come when I will accept no excuses. Alternatively, I can talk to them for you. Instead of them learning of it on accident or while you are distressed, I can explain to them why people hurt themselves like you have and impress on them the importance of patience and compassion while you work towards healing. If they have anger, let them direct it at me. You are not alone, and you do not need to carry this burden unsupported, do you understand?”

Sarina looked up at Adel, her face pale but now full of desperate hope instead of just desperation. “You’d do that for me? Truly?” Sarina's thoughts were a maelstrom of confused emotions. “You won't hate me either? I'm not - I'm not strong. I'm not strong at all. If - if I were I would have kept this hidden and not even Lady Sabbah would have seen it.”

The Priestess locked eyes with her, looking steady and determined. “I will do this for you, and I don’t hate you. I don’t think you are weak, either. Not for hurting yourself and not for getting caught. You came here and you have listened to what I have to say, and are willing to try to be better. All of those things take courage.” Adel reached for Sarina’s hands a third time, but this time she grasped them firmly, still holding her gaze. “Your survival has taken courage.”

Sarina clutched at Adel's hands, the young Queen more than a little tempted to throw herself at the Priestess and weep in gratitude. She didn't let herself do it, but she did lean towards Adel, with her need to be held was written plainly on her face.

“Thank you Lady Adel. I am not strong, no matter what you say. I came here because I promised Lady Sabbah that I would not complain about doing as she instructed me to do. Please - “ she broke off as her voice hitched in a not-quite sob. “Please help me do this.”

Adel was frozen for a moment then she released Sarina's hands and wrapped wrapped her arms around the Queen, rocking her gently and stroking her hair.

“I will help you. I promise.”

Sarina finally relaxed as she felt the Priestess’ arms wrapped around her and savored the moment. Somehow,  now,  the Queen felt safe. “Are you - are you my friend? “ Inwardly,  she was chanting please say yes please say yes please say yes, but she couldn't quite get the words out.

The pause before the Priestess responded felt like an eternity to the Queen and she wondered what she would do if the answer was negative. Thankfully, Sarina didn't have to worry for long.

Adel's simple “Yes” had Sarina suddenly feeling like a weight she hadn't realized she carried had been lifted from her.  She snuggled into Adel's arms and spoke,  her words muffled but no less heartfelt.  “I think I needed to hear that more than anything else you've said to me. Thank you.”

written with Mu and DragonGirl

Pruul / Enemies Against Weeds
« on: Nov 11, 18, 09:48:52 PM »
Occurs a few days after Queens Will Queen

Sarina sat on her knees, staring at the garden bed in front of her.

Weed the garden she'd been told. Her one weeding lesson had been interrupted by emotional distress and growling bellies, and somehow this particular lesson had been overlooked in the interactions she'd had with Lady Elenor since.

Still, she remembered the squash plants, so that was probably the safest part of the garden to begin with.

The young Queen stood, picking up the cushion she'd been supplied with and moved down the row to where she saw the big prickly leaves of the plants she had some familiarity with.

Placing her cushion on the ground, Sarina knelt again and leaned forward to hunt out some weeds. As she did, she placed a hand on the squash plant closest to her and closed her eyes in concentration, trying to sense Lady Elenor in the plant.

Sarina allowed her breath to slow and her mind to quiet - which wasn't easy with everything she worried about right now - and tried to just drift in her mind, searching for an Opaline power that wasn't hers. So deep in concentration was she that Sarina was completely unaware of anyone near her.

Pruul / Not All Normal Lessons for a Queen
« on: Nov 01, 18, 09:37:11 AM »
Occurs the day after Strike First or Not at All and a few days before Even the Most Practical Can Be Beautiful.

Sarina walked out to the garden that had become her responsibility, brooding. In the weeks since the young Queen had sought sanctuary with the Sabbah Clan Queen, she'd learned a small measure of competency in the garden. Weeds, at least, didn't stand a chance, especially when she was feeling frustrated or angry. Indeed, Sarina often found herself here when she needed to work off some emotion she didn't want to feel. And although Sarina still hadn’t sensed the land on her own, the young Queen was proud of the progress she'd made.

But anger and frustration weren't what had brought the young Queen to her garden today, nor was it a particular need to weed or harvest. No, Sarina was here because she was lonely. Lady Sabbah had been quite kind, and of course Sarina had Danyal and Rasheed, and even Lady Adavera hadn't been overly hostile the few times the two witches had been in the same space.

Sarina, though, longed for something more - someone who would just appreciate her, not what she represented. She longed for someone to look at her the way she'd seen people - particularly men - look at Lady Elenor.

But there was no one Sarina had met here that looked at her that way. Rather, almost everyone looked at her with suspicion still. Those who didn't, either looked at her with indifference or like she was something particularly disgusting dug out of her garden.

Those Sarina spent the most time with, other than Lady Elenor and Sarina's own males, were ironically Prince Barin, Lady Salma, and a few of the other Geiba children - all of whom viewed everything Sarina did with wariness, even when she was doing her best to help them. Even Prince Matin, who was nominally betrothed to her, looked at Sarina like she was a problem he'd rather do without on those few occasions they were together.

At last Sarina sighed. Moping did no good. It wasn't a day she’d planned to harvest vegetables, but yesterday she'd temporarily won the war against weeds, so she might as well see if she could find anything to harvest. Perhaps if she found enough produce, she could convince one of Lady Elenor's cooks to teach her to cook something she could ask Prince Barin to deliver to the neediest of the orphans.

She called in her harvesting basket and began her hunt. It wasn't long before the young woman was glad she'd decided to harvest today - all the tiny vegetables she'd seen in the days before had exploded in size practically overnight. She shook her was amazing how they did that. She filled the basket with a variety of squashes and eyed her garden...there were still eggplant, tomatoes and peas to pick.  The young Queen walked to one of the escorts that had been assigned to her for the day. “Would it be too much trouble to get two more baskets to use for harvesting? I'd really like to get this all so it doesn't go bad.” The man nodded impassively and it was but a few moments before Sarina was able to continue her work.

The young woman brushed dirty hands through her hair, pushing it back from her face. She didn't know it, but she'd smeared dirt across one cheek. She sat and studied her three baskets. The largest was full to the brim with squash, and one of the others was equally full of eggplant. The smallest of the three, though not particularly small, was nearly full of tomatoes and peas. How was she going to get her baskets to the kitchen? She didn't want to ask her escort; she wanted to do it herself - this was her responsibility after all. She rocked back on her heels, her thoughts tumbling through her brain.

Pruul / Even the Most Practical Can be Beautiful
« on: Oct 25, 18, 09:35:45 PM »
It was one of the rare times that Sarina was completely happy. She’d spent the day shadowing Lady Sabbah through her audiences and the Lady had actually asked Sarina’s opinion of the situation on several occasions. The young Queen was aware that most likely the older Queen was simply teaching her Ward, but Sarina preferred to think that her mentor was beginning to trust the younger woman. Things that others had said indicated to her that Lady Sabbah did trust her to at least an extent, but Sarina herself hadn’t seen it. The Lady was friendly most of the time, but distant at the same time.

Now Sarina was here in what was her garden, with her Bonded Lord Danyal standing a few feet away watching over her. She was happy because she had finally sensed what Lady Sabbah had been trying to teach her all on her own.

The young Queen looked over her garden, smiling in a carefree manner. Everything in the garden was edible in at least some way - Lady Sabbah had decreed it so long before Sarina had arrived in her Court - but many of the vegetable and herbs had lovely flowers. Some of the young Queen’s favorites were the squash and pumpkin blossoms, the lavender, daylilies, ginger and okra.

She looked over at Danyal. “I did it! I did what Lady Sabbah showed me!” Her voice was girlish with excitement. “I sensed the Land Danyal! I’ve never done it entirely on my own before. I’m going to Gift some of my plants now since I’ll be able to tell what I’m doing. Lady Sabbah said I’m supposed to warn my Escorts before I do this.”

The young Opal Queen had meant to merely prick her finger, but in her excitement and inexperience, she actually sliced her index finger from the tip to the second knuckle. As she gasped with the sudden (intoxicating) pain from her finger, and Danyal had become even more alert, Sarina was distracted by the sudden appearance of an unfamiliar man at the entrance of the courtyard. He was quite possibly one of the most attractive men Sarina had ever seen - not that she had a lot of experience - and she completely forgot her pain at the sight of him.

Pruul / How Do You Make My Heart Sing
« on: Oct 06, 18, 04:34:25 PM »
Sarina sat curled in a corner, staring balefully between her two males. The last sixteen hours had been...trying. First the unexpected onset of her moontimes, a full ten days before it was expected had resulted in the sudden exodus of Lady Elenor’s Court. She’d allowed Lord Danyal to fuss as he wished while Rasheed slept. Eventually Sarina herself had slept a little, if fitfully. Her new Bonded was hers, but that did not mean that she was entirely comfortable being essentially alone with him right now. When Rasheed had awoken, he’d immediately scented the source of their isolation...and gone to attack Lord Danyal. Understandably, really. Rasheed had known that Lord Danyal was his Bond brother for less than an hour when he’d taken the sleeping potion, but Sarina wasn’t feeling understanding right now.

The young Queen was grateful that Lord Danyal hadn’t escalated the situation into a true fight. He’d literally swatted Rasheed away and set up shields to keep his lighter-Jeweled Bond brother in place. Sarina had talked Rasheed into calm as best as she could, unable to use Craft as she currently was, and allowed him his share of fussing. Then a fresh wave of cramps had hit and her two Bonded had verbally clashed over who got to take care of her. So she had lost her temper, and yelled at both of them, and sent them to stand in separate corners where Rasheed was sulking and Danyal staring at her with an unreadable expression.

Which brought her to now.

Mother Night, but she hurt. Not only that, but so much had happened in such a short time that she felt it must be a dream. She’d gained another Bonded - something she’d wanted for a long time, she’d agreed to seek sanctuary with her rival who was trying to protect the same people she was, she’d lost control of herself and nearly obliterated them all as she had the raiders so long ago and in her effort to prevent it she’d wrecked havoc on her own body and set off her moontimes early. Now she had to deal with this and she was tempted to just scream.

At last she managed to calm herself down somewhat. Sarina uncurled from her position as far from her males as she could get and walked over to Rasheed, “I’m sorry, my brother. But you have have known me for a very long time, and I need to talk to Lord Danyal now. He’s mine just as you are. Please stay over here and give us some privacy?” She allowed her tall Bonded to wrap her in a long embrace, before she pulled away to walk to Danyal.

My Lord Danyal, will you sit with me? We should talk.”

Pruul / Sarina al-Sabbah
« on: Apr 29, 18, 03:55:14 PM »
The Basics

Character Name: Sarina al-Sabbah
Age and Birth Year: 175 AP, 19 years old
Race: Short Lived, Pruulian
Caste:  Queen
Birth Territory: Pruul, al- Kaid tribe
Home Territory: Pruul, al- Sabbah Clan

Birthright Jewel: Cut Opal
Offering Jewel:  Cut Red

Role: Puppet Queen
Faction: True Sabbah


Play By: Danielle Soibelman
Distinguishing Features: Sarina is slim, and petite with thick dark brown hair and large deep brown eyes. She always gives the impression of calm collectedness.


Sarina is...conflicted, and calculated. Her instincts will tell her to do one thing, but her training will tell her to act the opposite. As a result, it is exceedingly rare for her to act on impulse. Rasheed, her first Bonded, is the only person who knows how impulsive Sarina longs to be. He is also the only one who has seen her be carefree since she was nine years old. Sarina only ever truly relaxes her guard when she is alone with Rasheed.

When Sarina is frightened or stressed, she wants to hit something with sticks. When she is happy, she longs to burst into song or laughter. When she is sad, she would weep if it weren’t a waste of one’s water. What Sarina actually does is to literally and figuratively take a step back and calculate all possible, and acceptable, reactions before settling on the one she deems to be appropriate for her in that situation. Because of this, Sarina often appears to others to be entirely detached.

When Sarina rages...well it’s a good thing that Sarina is slow to anger and even more difficult to come to the level of rage; when Sarina rages, she wants things to burn. When she is angered, Sarina believes she must feel physical pain to control it and be able to take that step back, and has on one occasion bit through her lip though usually digging her nails into her palms is sufficient.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, people who know Sarina, or at least know what she lets them know, tend to follow Sarina - both her example and her instructions. They also find themselves going out of their way to make her feel protected or to put a smile on her face. Sarina does her best to repay them for their kindness to her through the use of her Touch and giving emotional healing to those needing it. She is a Queen, she has a duty to her Clan and her Territory, and she will do what she must to fulfill that duty. Indeed, she will often push herself to her limits to give back, and would push beyond them were it not for Rasheed ensuring she does not overdo. Sarina hopes to be able to fulfill that duty without having to compromise her own ideals, but knowing she is to marry into the True Sabbah gives her little faith that her hopes will be realized.

  • 1 Drawing Hidden Feminine Weapons; Sarina read about a Tacean Queen who designed weapons for women to wear without it being obvious they were carrying weapons. Sarina likes to draw weapons that would be more appropriate for Pruulian culture that she hopes to have someone design for her some day. Her favorite weapon that she has drawn is a pair of stiletto knives disguised as hair pins. She has also drawn designs to hide garottes in belts, tiny daggers in broaches and arm cuffs, and scissors that can be taken apart and used as throwing knives.
  • 2 Books; Sarina was given a book of fables about a strong Queen when she came away from her Birthright Ceremony with an Opal. She treasures this book and has it memorized she has read it so many times. She has often daydreamed of being able to read as many books as she wants, trying to think what other books might be like. The best thing about marrying into the True Sabbah is the opportunity to visit the new library in Onn.
  • 3 Walks in the Moonlight; Sarina feels most at peace walking the desert at night under the stars. She was always accompanied by both an older Escort and her Bonded Rasheed. One of the best walks was the first night the elders decided that Rasheed was old enough and skilled enough to be her sole nocturnal Escort.
  • 1 Needle and Fiber Work; Unless she is working on something she could one day put her hidden weapons into, Sarina has no patience for weaving, embroidery, sewing, beadwork, or needlework of any kind. She is quite capable at it but she finds it tedious.
  • 2 Scorpions; They give her the willies. The way that they can hide anywhere and come out of shadows that you don't even notice...Sarina has had the occasional dream about finding a scorpion in her boots. She is careful enough that she doesn't really fear them, but at the same time she does not like them in the slightest.
  • 3 Sarina's Social Obligations; Sarina’s tribe has a perfectly good Queen so she has known since her Birthright Ceremony that, especially considering how dark her Birthright is, she would be bartered off to the highest buyer - this is a situation that makes her uncomfortable and unhappy. She can't change who she is, a Queen with certain instincts... but she can't help but resent where her life is going as a result of who she is at a fundamental level.
  • 1 Violence; Sarina enjoyed training with weapons as a child, enjoys drawing her hidden weapons, but since her friend was killed in a Geiba sympathizer raid to get back at the tribe of Saiph al-Kaid Sarina has feared actual violence such as the riot when the Mineborn brought the Rains or a war - especially a civil war. Actually, she fears any situation where blood is spilled violently.
  • 2 Horses; specifically riding on them and trusting her safety to one. She experience a bad fall at the age of six, breaking her leg. She convinced herself that her tribe was going to ask her to return her water to the desert. Even though Rasheed got her to a Healer and all was well, Sarina has never ridden a horse since.
  • 3 Life in the True Sabbah; Shira al-Sabbah and Zhaleh al-Sabbah brokered a deal with the Kaid to arrange a political marriage for Sarina into the True Sabbah. Sarina has heard of the attrocities the Sabbah commited under Adramelech, and of course knows of what the Geiba did in the mines which led to their dissolvement; she fears that the True Sabbah will continue on the same path, fears that she will be forced to actions she doesn’t believe in, and further fears that the split in the clan will lead to a violent civil war.
Craft Strengths:
  • 1 Emotional Healing; despite needing to distance herself from her own emotions in a potentially unhealthy way, Sarina has discovered herself to be adept at the soothing of soul wounds. Survivors of the raids that killed her families have especially given her practice in this aspect of Queen’s Craft. She is able to make people feel a kind of distance from painful memories that makes them easier to deal with.
  • 2 Queen’s Touch; Sarina is very good at soothing fears and anxieties and calming anger especially in the moment, and invoking loyalty in others - which is what made her so appealing to the True Sabbah over her fully descended and trained cousin. She is able to do this even in the midst of a stressful situation such as a raid.
Craft Weaknesses:
  • 1 Queen’s Gift; Sarina struggles to sense the land and its needs. In fact, she can only manage it if she puts herself into a heavy trance. She is highly vulnerable in this state.
  • 2 Land Sense; The land simply does not speak to Sarina. The geological composition of it is something she can only learn by reading reports written by others. Even in trance, she cannot sense the contents of the land.
Life Story

Mother: Jala al-Kaid, deceased 183 AP
Father: Cirus al-Kaid, deceased 183 AP
Siblings: Golsan al-Kaid, sister; deceased 168 AP
Tutak al-Kaid, brother; deceased 164 AP
Others: Hamideh al-Kaid, cousin; b. 161 AP; Rose to Blood Opal Queen (Jewels not rolled)
Rasheed al-Kaid, bonded male; b. 161 AP; Tiger Eye to Summer Sky Warlord Prince (Jewels are rolled)


Sarina was born the only surviving child to older parents and the second Queen in her immediate family. Both her older brother and her older sister died within days of birth. Her uncle, her father’s brother, had become the father to a young Queen four years before Sarina’s birth. The two girls spent much time in each other’s company, but her cousin was not especially fond of Sarina.

At the age of four, Sarina met Rasheed al-Kaid, an eight year old Warlord Prince with a Birthright Tiger Eye, and Bonded with him. Although he enjoyed spending as much time with his young Queen as he could, and was pleased to have her watch his weapons training, happy to prove that he would be able to protect her, Rasheed was less than impressed when Sarina would show more interest in watching others’ weapons training. When Sarina was five, an older girl took notice of the girl watching her training and befriended her. Shirin, in training to become a witch warlord, was someone the young Queen greatly admired; and Sarina looked up to her as an older sister, a relationship that was difficult for Rasheed to accept. When she was six, Sarina had a bad fall while out riding; her horse was spooked by a snake. Sarina had been talking to her uncle and did not see the snake; her distraction saw her fall and break her left leg in two places. Rasheed got her to a Healer who tended to her, but Sarina was terrified she’d never heal and would be asked to return her water. She never rode another horse after that.

Shortly after her eighth birthday, Sarina underwent the Birthright ceremony; curiosity and tenacity born of someone who wanted to be as strong as she could be, in ways that her lighter jeweled seudo-sister Shirin and Bonded male Rasheed were not, kept her pushing into the Darkness as far as she could. Blinking as she came out with a cut Opal jewel clasped in her hands she glowed with a sense of accomplishment, not yet considering what this would mean for her. Her father was jovial in his pride, gifting his daughter with a rare book, a book of fables about a Tacean Queen and the things she achieved. The book would become Sarina’s most treasured possession. Later, Sarina would wish she hadn’t been so stubborn in her walk into the Darkness. She overheard the Elders discussing her dark Birthright, darker than any in recent years. She would bring great wealth and influence to the tribe of her birth, they gloated. Sarina learned to hate that she was a Queen, an Opal Queen, a dark Queen because she felt she would not be free to be herself being what she was. At the same time, she knew she could not deny what she was and she would have to find ways to cope with it. She tries not to fight her instincts as a Queen and is constantly thinking of ways that she can try to be who she wants to be as a dark Queen.

A few months after her Birthright Ceremony and before she had had much training working with her Opal, Sarina’s family was attacked by raiders while stopped at one of the larger oasises. Her mother and father were murdered in front of her and Sarina was frozen with fear. When her pregnant aunt was also slaughtered in front of her, Sarina’s fear broke, and she was awash with rage, a haze obscuring her vision as she ran at the men who were coming for her. She wasn't even aware of what she was doing as she releashed an uncontrolled burst of power from her Opal, it was undirected but effective. No one expected it, not Sarina, not the raiders, not any remaining members of Sarina's family. A few raiders died in the hysterical outburst of the young Queen but she exhausted herself quickly and lost consciousness.

Rasheed returned from his sister’s marriage into another tribe to find his young Queen and her cousin to be among the few survivors of the raid. After that, Sarina was no longer a carefree child. She had terrified herself with the strength of her rage fueled outburst and had decided that all emotion was not to be trusted. Sarina had vowed to herself to never let emotion control her again; to examine every situation before deciding on the appropriate - and safest - response to a situation. When she is alone with Rasheed is the only time Sarina knows she can just react and be herself, because their Bond tells her that he is there for her and will do anything to keep her safe and happy.

Having no close family left but her cousin, Sarina devoted herself to her studies learning Protocol and learning to use her Jewel as a Queen should. She discovered that she has a particularly strong Touch and that she is able to read more from her Bond with Rasheed than the other Queens she knows read from their Bonded. She is able to practically communicate with him through the Bond on a level of privacy beyond even psychic threads.

She was twelve when the Geiba were massacred. It seemed to Sarina that violence was erupting everywhere, a thought which shook her, bringing back the memory of her parents’ deaths. Almost a year later, her tribe was attacked while at another oasis by another group of raiders. When Shirin was killed, Sarina very nearly let rage overcome her as it had when she was eight. She was trained in the use of her Jewel now, she had Rasheed physically holding on to her, protecting her, and Sarina still bit clean through her lower lip in the effort to keep control of herself; the pain and the taste of her own blood pulling her focus away from her rage, allowing her to instead focus on protecting a group of children, shielding them and using her Touch to keep them calm and give them courage.

It was after this that Sarina began drawing the weapons from her book, despite the fears she had of widespread violence. For her, the weapons she drew were about self defense rather than wanton carnage. The stilettos, the scissor daggers, the garrotte...they could all kill, yes, but they weren’t exactly weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Sarina was certain that to kill with them would take either extreme luck, or extreme skill, or to be in an extremely dangerous position...and to Sarina if you had the luck it made you naive in a way, or maybe desperate would be the better term since you were probably in that extremely dangerous position. If you had the skill, it made you dispassionate - something raiders lacked.

As Sarina continued her training as a Queen, learning the nuances of Protocol, ideas she would have to put into place were she ever given a Court to rule, she continued to draw away from her emotions. Her cousin Hamideh had her Virgin Night and made her offering to the Darkness to descend fully from the Rose to the Blood Opal; she made a fuss over now being darker than Sarina and gloated over the fact that Sarina had yet to experience her own Virgin Night.

Sarina was sixteen when the Rains came and her tribe learned of the riot surrounding the Mineborn. It wasn’t long before they also heard of a foreign Queen who sought to rule the Sabbah and the fractioning of the Clan Sabbah into those calling themselves the True Sabbah and those who supported the new Queen. Representatives of the True Sabbah came to the Kaid Tribe, looking for a Pruulian-born Queen. Hamideh strutted around, certain that she would be contracted for a betrothal since she possessed a dark Offering Jewel and had completed her training. Seventeen year old Sarina was more than content to let her cousin be chosen since she feared the Clan Sabbah would plummet into civil war. Both cousins were therefore shocked when it was Sarina who was chosen. The official reasons given were that Sarina had the potential to be one of the darkest Queens in Pruul and the strength of her Queen’s Touch; Sarina suspects other reasons. Two days after she turned eighteen she left home. She has now come to Onn, legally betrothed into Clan Sabbah.

Show Us What You've Got

Character in Play:

The velvety black of the night sky was liberally littered with bright, twinkling stars. Sitting, almost hidden in the dunes, was the slight figure of a young woman with her knees pulled up and her arms wrapped around them, her head tilted back looking upwards, as if searching the stars above her for some kind of answer. A few feet away stood a tall young man, a dark shadow standing sentinel. All that could be seen of him in the shadows of the night were his eyes which were fixed on his Queen.

Without turning to look at him, Sarina spoke quietly, “Rasheed, if I could fly free into the sky and escape, would you let me go?”

Rasheed didn’t say anything in return; he didn’t have to -- Sarina felt his response through their Bond. A sense of regret, a deep pain, fierce determination, and sad resignation all came ringing through the Bond, enveloping the young Queen’s psychic senses. She smiled sadly up at the stars, “I know Rasheed. You wouldn’t want to, would fight me and fight to free me yourself if you could. You can’t though. Tomorrow I go to the Sabbah. Not just the Sabbah though, not this Elenor Lirion al-Sabbah that I think I could respect; not her, no I go to the True Sabbah. I’m a bought bride for a man I’ve never met, whom I know nothing of.”

Silence ruled the pair for long moments, the wind through the desert providing the only sound. After some time, Rasheed closed the small distance between him and Sarina. She hadn’t said anything, hadn’t even turned to look at him, but he knew. He always knew when she needed him; always knew what she needed from him. He knelt behind her, letting her lean back against him, holding her lightly when she did so.

“I know you are coming with me Rasheed, and I know you know how much that means to me. But I still feel like my world is ending. I don’t think I can be myself with the True Sabbah, and I’m afraid. I’m afraid they’ll use me to start a war, Rasheed, I don’t think I could bear that.”

Rasheed said nothing; there was nothing he could say. All he could do was tighten his hold on his Queen and silently promise to do all in his power to protect her, whether her fears came to pass or not. He would do that, and more. Sarina knew that; had always known that.

Tomorrow would come soon enough. For now, Sarina chose to sit and stare at the stars of Pruul’s night; safe with her Bonded, and secure in the knowledge that he would always be there for her, no matter what.

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