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Author Topic: Flip a Coin  (Read 270 times)

Description: Attn: Nailah

Offline Maaria Nimr

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Flip a Coin
« on: Aug 17, 18, 11:57:21 PM »
Leaning against her brother Maaria rested more of her weight on his arm as they traversed the steps leading up to the Temple entrance.  For all his grumbles at having his entertainment interrupted to act as her escort Jabari adjusted accordingly, carefully helping her up the stairs step by step.  They made it a little slower than most, and her leg ached at the top but in this at least her little brother was the consummate escort, even if his attitude left something to be desired at the best of times.  She squeezed his arm in thanks as she straightened, taking a moment to let her leg rest before walking toward the entrance. 

Maaria had been assured that this was where she would find the High Priestess and she could feel a shiver in the Abyss at the depth of her own Offering that confirmed what she’d been told.  Her brother looked down at her with a long suffering expression and Maaria snorted as she patted his arm and stepped away, “I don’t know how long I will be. When I’m ready to leave I’ll call you.”

Relieved to be released from what would be, for him at least, a long boring afternoon Jabari gave her a protocol perfect bow and stepped away.  Maaria watched him disappear down the steps and into the crowd at the bottom before continuing toward the door and the junior Priestess who stood there.  She had her own reasons for sending him away all tied to the visions that had plagued her since the luncheon a few days earlier when she’d seen Red and Green bristling at one another.

Every web she’d spun since had left her with the feeling that while the High Priestess was perhaps not yet an enemy to her Queen she was no ally either.  It was for that reason that she’d decided to meet the other woman face to face.  Perhaps the bristling nature of the pair was from a misunderstanding that could be resolved with time and work, and perhaps it couldn’t.  While some Widows she knew would have relied solely on their visions to guide them, Maaria herself preferred to see with her waking eyes as well.  Her fellow bonded spoke highly of his sister and Raet was kind and good natured as far as Maaria could see so whatever lay between the two could surely be resolved somehow. . . maybe . . . possibly.

If it could not be, if the webs had not mislead her or been misinterpreted then she wanted to know who she might be facing in the future.  She didn’t want the High Priestess as an enemy, she didn’t want her Queen and the High Priestess to be enemies either but if the worst should pass she wanted as much information as possible about the other woman who wore the Red.  Which was one of the reasons she had sent her brother away, she had no plans to start a confrontation but if the worst should pass better that her little brother wasn’t in the firing line.

Shaking her head to clear her mind she smoothed down the rich black fabric of the dress she’d chosen today, embroidered with spirals of orange, red and gold that echoed the Blood Opal she wore on one finger and the Red at her neck.  Long sleeves covered her arms but left her hands bare, black veil with hints of fire pinning back her hair.  She’d dressed well but also traditionally in respect for the place she now stood in.  She didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with Nailah Abbasi, after all the whole point of this meeting was to try and make friends, not enemies.  The young Priestess at the door greeted Maaria somberly, eyes flicking between the combination of Jewels and Hourglass that Maaria wore as stopped in front of her.

“Is the High Priestess Lady Abbasi available?”  Maaria asked with a gentle, genuine smile, “I understand she is probably quite busy but if she has a few minutes to spare I would like to speak with her.”

As the young Priestess blinked at her in surprise Maaria continued stepping out of the way of a passing family and into the cool interior of the temple, “Please tell her that I can wait if she is in the middle of something.  Her work is important and I don’t wish to disrupt her day anymore than I already have.  I’m happy to return at a later date if she doesn’t have the time to speak with me today.”

From the look on the girls face it wasn’t exactly common for someone to just walk up to the door and ask to speak with the High Priestess but to her credit she recovered swiftly and stammered out a few quick words that amounted basically to, wait here please and I’ll return soon.  Maaria was quite happy to do just that, stepping out of the way of the door and the people entering and leaving the Temple.  She found a bench carved into the stone and settled herself there stretching her leg out in front of her as she prepared to wait for a response to her request.

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: Flip a Coin
« Reply #1 on: Aug 18, 18, 03:10:17 AM »
Nailah was in her office, poring over the weathered tome on her desk. The world before and immediately after the Purge fascinated her, especially where Craft was concerned. She’d located notations and information on older spells, especially those using blood as a connective agent. Nailah’s last few weeks were spent in deep study, taking further notes and refining her own understanding of the rituals and ceremonies she’d learned during her first years as a supplicant. For all her animosity toward her former mentor, Malia, Nailah could not say that the older woman had not been thorough in her formative education.

The warm, slightly sour taste of curiosity crossed her tongue and Nailah smiled to herself. Her newly appointed guardian, Nafessa Domani, sat in a chair in the corner of the office. The Dusk Warder examined her weapons while Nailah worked. The pair had settled into companionable silences like this since their introduction, so Nailah was no longer completely annoyed or discomfited by sharing her space with someone that wasn’t Kontar, or Rais, or Syeira.

Nafessa rose from her seat when the knock at the door came, opening it to find Monifa, Nailah’s newest acolyte on the other side. The twelve year-old Summer Sky Priestess looked uneasy, but she managed a stiff nod to Nafessa as she waited to be admitted. Nafessa looked to Nailah, who’d paused in her note-taking at the sour taste of fear that accompanied Monifa’s arrival.

Enter, child. What’s wrong?” Nailah asked.

High Priestess, forgive me. I know that you asked not to be disturbed, but...you have a visitor.” Monifa said.

Does this visitor have a name?

Monifa's cheeks flushed with shame. In her terror, she'd forgotten to ask. “No, but she’s a Black Widow. And she wears the Red.

Concern, sharp and slightly bitter, rolled across Nailah’s tongue to combine with the Monifa’s fear. Nafessa was currently on high alert despite the plaicid expression on her face. Nailah leaned back in her chair and though it through. After Logain Morr’s arrival a two years ago, Nailah had made it a point to keep track of anyone else in Raej who equaled her standing in the Abyss or, in rare cases, exceeded it. Nailah’s eyes narrowed as she realized who was likely waiting to speak to her.

And here I thought that today would run smoothly.” Nailah murmured. “Monifa, thank you for bringing to this to me, Sister. Please escort our guest to the courtyard and offer her refreshment. See that she is extended every courtesy and let her know that I will join her shortly. Then spread the word to your sisters that the courtyard is off limits until further notice.

Monifa nodded, bowed, and left the office as quickly as she came.

The young woman returned Maaria several minutes later. “Lady, the High Priestess will see you in the courtyard. My name is Monifa. ” the young Priestess said. She would wait for Maaria to rise before leading the way to the courtyard near the center of the upper level of the main temple. Here and there, people gave the Black Widow a wide berth where they noted her passing. They arrived in the courtyard less than a minute later. The stones were spelled to remain cool to the touch despite the heat of the summer day. At the center of the courtyard was a fountain of pale blue water that bubbled softly. Here and there, pairs and groups spoke in hushed tones. Several looked up as Monifa and Maaria arrived. The young woman turned to regard the Black Widow, careful to say out of arm’s reach of the Red Jeweled woman.

May I offer you refreshment while you wait?” Monifa asked. She would wait for Maaria to answer before turning to go. If the Black Widow deigned to notice, she would see many of the people in the courtyard rise and leave the area. Whether they were praying, reading, or merely talking, they vacated the courtyard until only Maaria herself remained.


Seconds ticked by before Nafessa stepped into the courtyard, graceful as a cat. She sighed the Black Widow and bowed to the Black Widow. The Dusk Warder’s blade hung low on her hip, and her crimson tunic and breeches were free of dust and debris. Only when she was satisfied that the courtyard was empty did she stand aside.

Nailah swept into the courtyard with Monifa in tow. Her dark grey robe, threaded with gold, marked her office as the High Priestess of Raej. Her own Blood Opal and Red Jewels were visible in an elaborate silver setting at her neck. If one looked, truly looked, the first signs of age were visible in the gentle crow’s feet at the corners of Nailah’s eyes. The High Priestess regarded the diminutive Black Widow with curiosity as she came to a halt just a few feet away from her. Nailah was glad for Nafessa’s twin shields of Opal and Red, but she didn’t consider herself safe from her visitor in the slightest. Black Widows of any standing were dangerous, but the fact that this one had seen fit to use the front door told Nailah a few things.

For one, Maaria Nimr wasn’t here to kill her. Yet.

Lady Nimr, High Seer of Asyut District under Lady Raet Neith. Please, be welcome in this place of worship.” Nailah said, her tone cautious, though respectful. The last thing she needed was the other woman taking offense and attempting to strike her down for some perceived slight.

How can I be of assistance?” she asked, as Monifa advanced with a pitcher of cool water and a tray of bread and cheese.

Why did Raet send you? she left unasked.

She would find out soon enough.

Offline Maaria Nimr

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Re: Flip a Coin
« Reply #2 on: Aug 21, 18, 11:49:34 PM »
It was only moments after the young Priestess disappeared into the Temple that Maaria realized she had forgotten to give the girl her name.  Mentally she kicked herself for the slip and barely resisted the urge to smack her forehead in exasperation.  Sighing she closed her eyes for a moment.  There was no help for it now, she’d just have to deal with the fall out if there was any.  Leaning back she let her eyes wander idly over the crowd of people coming and going from the Temple. 

It felt as if a very short time passed before the young Priestess returned.  Spotting her coming, Maaria was standing and waiting patiently by the time the young girl reached her.  The young Priestess wasn’t that much younger than her youngest sister, so seeing the fear and wariness in her eyes cut deep.  In an effort to ease her Maaria kept quiet as followed a few steps behind her and deeper into the Temple careful to keep her distance. 

As the people passing spotted her jewels and Caste and stepped away from her she felt a momentary sadness.  It had always made her uncomfortable when people spotted her jewels and sensed her Caste and gave way to her out of fear.  She didn’t enjoy inspiring such emotions from the people around her even if she understood it on some levels.  It was why she tried to keep a friendly demeanor whenever in a public space or meeting new people she was happier when they were comfortable in her presence.  So she did her best to greet those that would meet her eyes with a warm smile and a slightly inclined head as she followed her young guide deeper into the Temple's depths. 

As they reached an open courtyard Maaria stopped for a moment in the doorway and looked around admiring the peaceful beauty of this part of the Temple.  She was so lost in thought she almost didn't hear Monifa as she asked quietly if she wanted refreshment.  Turning half her attention to the young girl Maaria answered gently, “Something to drink perhaps if you’d be so kind Priestess.” 

As the girl bowed and stepped out of the room Maaria drifted toward the fountain in the center of the room.  She noted how the once full room emptied and the stares of the people as they left.  Troubled by the fear she’d seen in so many eyes here she settled herself on the side of the fountain and allowed her mind to drift for a moment, trying to relax to the sound of running water.  She supposed wearing the Red meant she should be used to this and it was perhaps the combination of her jewels and Caste that inspired it.  Though she did wonder if the High Priestess had ever faced similar reactions to her presence.

Her fingers were trailing in the cool water her head tilted back as she basked in the light of the sun allowing the feeling of the cool liquid on her skin and the sound of the water to relax her when she felt a shiver at the depth of the Red.  Turning toward it she watched quietly as a woman dressed in red, sword at her side and a Red jewel in a setting stepped into the room.  She stood as the witch bowed to her, thankful that her leg barely twinged as she stood, before returning the gesture with her own before her gaze drifted to the next woman to enter into the room. 

Another woman wearing the Red and carrying the psychic scent of a Priestess.  She studied Nailah Abbasi as she strode into the room in an effort to get a feel for the other woman as she allowed a small smile of greeting to touch her face.  Maaria was surprised to find herself facing two other women who wore the Red, having expected only one.  She was intrigued by the caution the other woman showed by staying just out of her reach. 

Feeling a slight twinge of amusement as she eyed Nailah and the woman who was clearly her guard.  What exactly did Nailah think she was going to do?

Even if she was younger and more physically capable starting a fight with two women who wore the Red would be a bit ridiculous.  Especially when one of the two was quite clearly a skilled warrior.  Still out of respect for that caution and not willing to push beyond what the Priestess in front of her was comfortable with Maaria made no attempt to step forward, keeping her hands clasped at her waist in an effort to appear less threatening.

She wasn’t comfortable just yet with being greeted so formally but did her best not to show that on her face as she responded to Nailah’s words with a warm smile, she was wary yes but her generally friendly nature shone through, “Lady Nailah Abbasi High Priestess of Raej it’s a pleasure to meet you. I apologize for simply dropping in on you like this, I’m certain you’re busy so I will endeavor not to take up too much of your time. ”

Maaria paused for a moment, tilting her head back slightly so as to meet the other woman’s eye even as she opened her mind to whispers from the Abyss as she continued, “Your brother Kontar speaks quite highly of you and I must admit to letting my curiosity get the best of me. I’ve never met another who stands so deep in the Abyss.  I hope you will forgive me for saying that it is comforting to meet others who understand what it means to wear such a dark jewel.” She inclined her head slightly in respect to both Nailah and the as yet unnamed witch before turning her dark eyes back to the gray shrouded Priestess in front of her.

She was distracted for a moment as the young Priestess Monifa placed her tray of cheese and water on a nearby table before stepping back and away.  Maaria inclined her head slightly as she stepped toward the table, “Thank you Monifa.” 

She ignored the young Priestesses fear as the girl hurriedly stepped away from her, it bothered Maaria to see it but she didn’t want to make the girl even more afraid by reacting. 

Pouring herself and the High Priestess both a drink, she offered the other woman the cup with one hand waiting to see if the other woman would accept it before she continued, “I was hoping you might have a moment to assist me with interpreting a vision I’ve seen in a Tangled Web.” Her gaze grew more distant for a moment drifting away and toward a shaft of sunlight striking stone nearby, “I believe it may involve you and my Queen.  I'm hopeful you can help me understand what I've seen.”

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: Flip a Coin
« Reply #3 on: Aug 22, 18, 11:12:50 AM »
Nafessa was surprised by the Black Widow’s greeting, but accepted it all the same. She looked to Nailah, taking the cue of the High Priestess regarding her personal conduct. Nailah gestured with her hand and Nafessa retained her position, but seemed to relax somewhat. Nailah bristled as Lady Nimr spoke of Kontar and their depth in the Abyss that all three women present shared. She remained in place, watching as Monifa provided the Asyut Seer with the water and food requested. She sensed that the woman was seeking common cause with her, some sort of understand that would make whatever she wanted seem more palatable. She offered Nailah the cup of water, but the High Priestess declined with a shake of her head.

Thank you, Lady Nimr, but I am fine. Water for you, Lady Nafessa?” she asked, though her gaze never left the Black Widow.

The Dusk Warder verbally declined.

Thank you, Lady Nimr. Your kindness is appreciated, but we are well.” Nailah said.

Nailah moved to a nearby bench, smoothing her robes down before seating herself just outside Lady Nimr’s reach. The other woman’s comfort and pride took a distant second place to Nailah’s personal comfort. She crossed her legs beneath the fabric and regarded the other woman with her own curiosity. She took a deep breath, released it, and considered how to deal with the Black Widow.

Nafessa, will you give us the courtyard, please? I’d appreciate it.

Yes, High Priestess.” the Witch said. She turned on a heel and headed back toward the inner temple, though Nailah knew that she would not go far. She returned her gaze to the Black Widow once more.

I’m sure that in some circles, it’s flattering to have a Dark Jeweled Black Widow be curious about you. Given my personal history, Lady Nimr, it’s about the last thing I desire.” Nailah said, opting to speak plainly with the other woman. She played the role of the courtier all day and many nights as well. This meeting, however, did not engender her desire to tread lightly with Raet Neith’s Court.

If you sense any distance or hesitance to trust on my part, that’s one of the causes.” Nailah said. “But I’m puzzled by your request. You said that your vision concerns your Queen and myself, but you require my aid to decipher it?

Nailah considered it for a moment, looking over to the fountain and using its steady babbling to center herself.

What are you really asking me, Lady Nimr?” Nailah asked.

Offline Maaria Nimr

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Re: Flip a Coin
« Reply #4 on: Aug 25, 18, 07:12:53 PM »
Maaria was not surprised when Nailah refused the water and so she set it back on the table.  Taking a sip of the water she had poured herself as the younger Priestess and the now identified Nafessa stepped from the room.   As Nailah moved to take a seat Maaria remained where she was respecting the other's silent request for space between them.  She felt no need to step beyond what the other woman was comfortable with.

She accepted Nailah's comment that perhaps some people were comfortable in her presence with an amused smile and a shrug as she set the cup down and ran her finger along the rim, "Lady Abbasi if you know someone who would be comfortable around me that is not my Queen or a member of her court I would be quite shocked.  I am more than used to people not being comfortable in my presence.  So please don't worry that I'm going to take offense, you don't need to explain yourself.  As I said I know I've simply dropped in on you with no warning I understand your caution.  I respect it even."
  She knew it was the truth even though she didn't like it, it was a fact of her Caste and her Jewels but it was one she'd never been comfortable with.

Taking a breath she sighed and stepped toward the fountain, a slight limp to her steps as she settled herself on the rim and trailed her fingers in the water once more, "As for the vision I should have been more clear.  I don't require assistance in decphiring it per se just understanding it."

She considered her next words carefully before letting out a long sigh. Her dark eyes drifted from the play of water against her fingers toward the High Priestess ready to gauge the other woman's response to her next words.  Maybe a Widow better at politics would have asked these next few questions more delicately but Maaria wished a better gauge of the other woman's temper and her reaction to uncomfortable questions.

No fool though she readied a shield and an illusion at the depth of her Red, just in case, as she spoke, "Ever since I met your brother I've been plagued by a vision of Green and Red bristling at one another, tugging him between.  Every web I've spun tells me the same thing you are perhaps not my Queen's enemy but not an ally either.  I'd like to understand why.  What lies between you that causes such friction?"

"I could have simply asked Raet, Lady Abbasi but there are two sides to every story and I would have yours as well as hers.  Perhaps I can help mend the breach between you, perhaps I can't but I would like to try."
Her gaze was sharp but truthful, Maaria really did want to understand and perhaps she could have spoken to Raet's court or Nailah's brother but she preferred to gain her information at the source. 

"It does my Queen no good to have you as an enemy and I do not want to see my bond brother forced to choose a side between his sister and his bonded Queen."

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: Flip a Coin
« Reply #5 on: Sep 10, 18, 05:19:39 PM »
Nailah had never hated or disliked Black Widows in her life. She found them useful on the rare occasions she had need to deal with him. All the same, she did not enjoy Maaria Nimiir’s presence or her attentions.. The Green-jeweled Queen was growing to be a greater nuisance to her than merely the woman who’d stolen away her brother. How many other members of her Court would Nailah have to entertain? Would it be her Master of the Guard, next? Or perhaps her cousin, the First Escort who stuck so closely to her. Raet could not properly tend her Kontar and Nailah knew it without question.

Not when she dallied with any male who paid her the slightest attention.

Lady Nimr explained her vision while Nailah listened, taking note of how Maaria had said that Kontar was her bond-brother. Yet another woman who wished to claim Kontar’s allegiance from their family. It felt unfair, to Nailah, that Kontar should be pulled in so many directions. Especially when things with Rehema were just starting to get back on track. She adjusted the folds of her robes and considered how best to answer the question. She had no love for Raet, not after the insult she’d given on her first meeting, but Syeira cared for the fool girl, as did the High Priest. While Nailah wished her only the minimum amount of good necessary to keep Kontar safe and protected, they would join hands and sing of sisterhood in any future that she could envision.

Lady Neith is the Queen of my younger brother’s heart. He’s the only brother I have. Therefore, what benefits her is of benefit to him.” Nailah said.

But she and I are not friends and we will not be friends. That ship has sailed. That she apologized for her insult to Lady Neferet at all is the sole reason that I’ve agreed to have no contact with her.” Nailah said. She shrugged. The situation was not ideal, but it stood as it stood. Nailah wanted nothing to do with Raet, but she had to give her the minimum necessary support in order to see Kontar eventually raise his own profile.

You are kind to come here and make this attempt. But know this: no matter my distaste for your Queen, I would never force Kontar to choose between her and his family. Ever. No one wins that battle, no matter whom he chooses.” Nailah said, making sure that she looked Maaria directly in her eyes. No matter what impression the Black Widow took of her today, she wanted Raet’s Seer to know the truth when she heard it. She could not break what Mother Night joined, no matter her personal wishes. The best she could do was live with a terrible situation and pray that it did not ruin Kontar’s life just as he seemed to want more from it.

I want my brother to serve a worthy Queen. That is all. I had hoped that he would remain unbonded, but that was not the case. So long as Lady Neith treats him with the care and respect he deserves, my relationship with her, or lack thereof, is merely a personal matter.” Nailah said.

Offline Maaria Nimr

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Re: Flip a Coin
« Reply #6 on: Sep 23, 18, 08:18:38 PM »
Maaria listened carefully to the words the Priestess was speaking and hummed in thought.  Choosing to ignore the insinuation that Raet was not a worthy Queen, the Priestess before her had seemingly made her decision about Raet after that first meeting and taken nothing else into consideration.  It was upsetting but it wasn't the battle she had come here to fight.

It was also clear that Nailah wasn't lying when she said she would have rather her brother had remained unbonded.  In this Maaria could relate far better with the other woman, if her brother Masud was still with her she wasn't sure she would want him to be bound to a Queen either. 
That however was not why Maaria had come. 

The vision she had seen was left unchanged.  Regardless of what the Priestess thought, she was in a way leaving her brother to be tugged in two directions.  The vision hadn't yet shown her the Purple Dusk being splintered by the tug between them but it would take only a little pressure to cause exactly that and she did not want to see her new bond-brother suffer.  Nor her Queen or the Priestess in front of her even though she doubted her next words would gain her any friendship from the other Red Jeweled woman. 

"I hope that you are correct Lady Abbasi and your brother will never be forced to chose.  Your brother clearly loves you.  He speaks highly of you and your opinion and while I now have no doubt that you would not actively act against Raet, if only because of him, your words do carry great weight."

Her next words were perhaps not wise but they were honest in her appraisal of the vision and braced herself for the reaction of the other woman as she spoke, "I would ask that you not take offense at my words Lady as I have no taste for politics but surely you can understand that in a way you do force him to chose by continuing this grudge against his Queen?"

"Having lost a brother myself I would ask that you please think on what I have said.  I wish everyday that my family was whole and happy I would never wish the loss of a sibling on anyone."  She spread her hands in front of her meeting the other woman's eyes frankly her voice ringing with only compassion and honesty, "I am not saying he would choose Lady Neith over you Lady Abbasi I am simply saying that if he is forced to he will be damaged either way."


Offline Nailah Abbasi

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    • bo2red
    • priestess
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      High Priestess

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      Raej

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      Gavin

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    • The Darkness is my shield.

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Re: Flip a Coin
« Reply #7 on: Oct 02, 18, 04:20:26 PM »
She wished, just a little, that the Black Widow had come with a more combative or antagonistic tone. In another time and place, Nailah believed that she could possibly like Maaria Nimr. She did not mince words or attempt to curry favor with Nailah. She stated her points clearly and succinctly. She asked her questions directly, leaving little room for Nailah to misread her intentions or thoughts. This woman cared about the Queen she served and sought to either neutralize a potential threat or convert said threat into an ally. But the thing that swayed Nailah about Lady Nimr was that she also seemed to genuinely care for Kontar’s well-being. Nailah was angry that Mother Night had bonded her brother to a Queen that she didn’t like, but...if this Black Widow cared for her brother’s relationship with Raet and Nailah, it spoke well of her desire to preserve Raet’s Court.

I understand what you are saying, Lady Nimr. I have taken no actions against Lady Neith and her Court. She is important to someone who is important to me. Acting against her is acting against my own interests in the same way that doing so acts against my brother. The issues between Lady Neith and myself, however, are our issues. I doubt that we will ever see eye to eye upon anything.” Nailah said, looking over to the fountain. The cool water burbled softly in the silence between them. Nailah chewed the inside of her lip, considering something quietly. She did not speak for nearly a minute as she weighed the matter at hand. She could send for Kontar after this and have the message delivered, but she decided against it.

She returned her gaze to the Black Widow before her, deciding that she would serve the purpose well enough.

You have not offended me, Lady Nimr. Most people wouldn’t even make the attempt you’ve made today. Your Queen certainly has not, but that is beside the point. You suggested earlier that there might be a way to smooth over the friction between Lady Neith and myself. While I’m not certain that this is possible, I will reconsider on Kontar’s behalf and because of you came and spoke to me today.” Nailah said.

Please return to your Queen and let her know that I will meet with at a time of her choosing so that she and I may discuss the issues between us. If she agrees, I will present myself at her Court.” Nailah said.

And I will arrive on time for our meeting, out of respect for her station.