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Canon: © Anne Bishop
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* Plot Information for Raej

The High Priest rules Raej with political acumen and charisma, but not all is well under the desert sun. As the years progress tension between Blood and Landen grow and are now nearly at a fever pitch. Odji Khaldun’s secret war against the Landen is not public knowledge but the workings of it can be seen. Blood and Landen die on both sides while Raej subtly prepares for civil war.
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Author Topic: In Temple and In Law  (Read 390 times)

Description: attn: Nailah

Offline Raet Neith

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In Temple and In Law
« on: Jan 14, 19, 12:24:24 PM »
Today was the day that she was going to be having a meal with Nailah.  She'd had her cousin take Kontar out into the city for census work - Maaria was still in the building.  That was on purpose. 

Maaria would be more than enough, Raet was sure, to keep herself and Nailah from tearing the building apart.  In this case, it was Raet that everyone had to worry about.  Not that Nailah Abbasi was likely to know that - and for this Raet was hopeful.  If Nailah did not know that Kontar had done any of this, or at least was not aware that it was without Raet's approval, then ... maybe things could be salvaged.

But if Nailah knew?  Then Raet would know that her instincts had been correct.  And if her instincts had been correct, controlling her temper might prove very difficult indeed.  And she needed to do so.  So she was going to keep that thread to Maaria open and ready for a rush of calm.  She was going to lean on Maaria in order to maintain her composure. 

So she'd dressed with care today.  Her impulse had been to wear one of her new black gowns.  Then a servant had implied it would seem too... aggressive.  They had been right.  So she'd grit her teeth and pulled out a dark blue creation, edged in golden embroidery.  It was more formal than most things she had worn near Maseo.. so she could tolerate the color.

Hopefully.

The room she had chosen for this meeting was her Law Study.  A place where she stored her most precious possessions - books and scrolls of history and precedent.  Religious study and philosophy.  Everything necessary for her to build the foundation of her approach to ruling.

This was a place that would, hopefully, remind her that she was to not act in anger.  That she was to try to forge a peace, a relationship, with a woman that she knew despised her.  Everything about this was meant to put herself at ease - despite that the Priestess may in fact find such a location charming.

To ensure that the High Priestess knew she was not being snubbed, Raet had even chosen to remain in the study all throughout the day.  The Priestess would be escorted to her, and be able to find Raet sipping upon a glass of water as she looked out the windows towards the Vaal. 

From this angle, she could see over the wall.  She could see the ferries that worked to cross the river, and she could pretend that the weight of her emotions did not make her back ache to bend.   Was her posture more stiff today than the last time that Nailah had seen her?  Yes.  Was Raet less open?  Less informal?  Yes.

Did Raet mind that one bit when it came to Nailah Abbasi's presence?  Not even a tiny bit.

When the door opened, and she scented that familiar tang of Priestess, she lowered her glass from her lips.  "Lady Abbasi."  There was no hand waving to dismiss the servant.  But the servant bowed and left as if she had. 

They returned shortly enough, pushing the cart with the food into view.  Again, Raet did not say a word dismissing them.  They simply uncovered the trays to reveal the food, and Raet took her seat.

"Please, sit.  I had a lunch prepared for our meeting today.  I find that food often helps smooth over any awkwardness during meetings."

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #1 on: Jan 14, 19, 06:13:21 PM »


Are you sure that this is wise, High Priestess? We have yet to discover who is behind the plans that we found. Do you believe that Lady Neith is beyond suspicion?” Nafessa asked, standing in her office early that morning. They’d just returned from morning prayers at Syeira’s palace, the energy of the Abyss coursing through their minds. Today’s communion had been especially uplifting and powerful. Connected with her sister and her the one made to guard her, Nailah felt protected, blessed, and powerful. She felt ready to take on the world itself.

Or endure lunch with the one woman in all of Raej who could make eating a chore.

I would never accuse Lady Neith of cunning, but I am nearly certain that she’s beyond reproach in this at least. She calls Lady Neferet her mentor and they share a caste. My relationship with her would stay her hand against treachery.” Nailah said, running the brush through her ebon hair as she looked in the mirror. There was no sense of sisterhood or camaraderie between her and Asyut District’s Queen. They were not friends. Nailah would not grovel before her, but the wise move was to show her the respect of her station.

Kontar is her other reason to keep a civil tongue in her head, lest she offend him. Granted, I must do the same but at least she’ll have the good sense not to bring up that foreigner.” Nailah said, wanting to spit on the floor at the mere thought of Lord Shingetsu. The Tea Lord was long gone from Raej, but Nailah heard rumors now and again that he still had contract with the District Queen. It was a sad thing, to see a woman humiliate herself so over a male, especially one so unworthy. Syeira was right to send him on his way. He would have grown disillusioned with Raej, in the end.

She may yet try to provoke you, Lady. I won’t let that happen.

And I thank you, Nafessa. Your vigilance allows me to deal with the matter at hand with a clear mind.” Nailah said, favoring her friend with a warm smile.

Nafessa’s pride tasted sweeter than wine.

They arrived at the District Court a quarter hour before the appointed meeting time and Nailah was pleased to find that Raet’s Guard admitted them quickly and efficiently to the Queen’s presence. The guards here were wary, perhaps of her, but the sour taste of their trepidation bothered Nailah. She called upon her Red and extended her sense, seeking Kontar’s familiar presence...only to find it absent from the palace in total.

Nailah’s wariness increased.

She found Raet in her study, sipping on a glass of water while she looked out over Kemet. Nailah’s eyes took in the room’s decor, the shelves of books and scrolls painting Raet as a seeker of knowledge. Nailah could not bring herself to accept or believe it. Nafessa greeted the District Queen with a deep bow while Nailah stepped forward to offer her the respect due her caste and station. Then she sat as bidden, easing some when Nafessa pronounced the food before her free of poison.
She tilted her head at Raet’s comment as though not understanding. “Forgive me if I misunderstand, Lady Neith, but do you expect awkwardness between us? I cannot think of any reason that we should be awkward with each other...unless there is a matter between us that requires resolution?” Nailah asked, her tone speculative.

Offline Raet Neith

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #2 on: Jan 14, 19, 06:44:29 PM »
Nailah Abbasi made all the right motions to show respect - and yet Raet got the distinct feeling that if Nailah could have spit at her feet she would have.  Was she feeling dramatic?  Perhaps - but in these sorts of judgements Raet was fairly certain she was correct.  Emotionally, there was no love lost between herself or the Priestess.

And so, in turn and was proper, the Priestess' escort certainly seemed to have no warmth for the Queen either.  That figured.  And rubbed Kontar's obvious love of his sister right into the salted wounds.  Still, Raet swallowed all of that back, being careful to keep her barriers in place so as to ensure that she was as unbiased as she possibly could be in the coming conversation.

"I don't feel as if playing games with words suits us, Lady Abbasi.  Neither you, nor I, are meant for such things if we are to treat this lunch in the spirit in which it was meant.  Do you truly believe there is not something that needs resolution, Lady Abbasi?" 

Raet said the words blandly, fixing her eyes on the woman that represented... everything... that had gone wrong in her life for the moment. No, that wasn't fair.  Nailah Abbasi had nothing to do with the death of Raet's parents, or of her Queen.  That... had not been Nailah's fault. 

So Raet amended that judgement in her mind. 

"We did not have a very good start, did we?"  Raet spoke the words quietly, tilting her water glass this wand that, and still - she watched Nailah's face.   Maaria insisted, likely rightly, that Nailah could be handled.  Well, sort of handled.  Raet doubted that someone like Nailah Abbasi could ever be handled, but perhaps she could be... guided.

Gently.  Very gently.

"Kontar is your beloved brother, and he is my Escort.  Beloved of my soul."  She said the words simply, and yet... there was nothing simple about this problem.  "Our meeting put you in a sour mood, and then Mother Night decreed that I should steal away the brother you adore.  Perhaps you truly believe me unworthy of him - time will tell I suppose, but I have to wonder if any Queen might do for your brother, Lady Abbasi."

Not even Syeira.  Surely Nailah knew Syeira's faults.  Raet loved Syeira.  Worshipped her, in her own way, but even Raet acknowledged that when it came to caring for the males entrusted to her, Syeira... fell short.

Often.  Usually, in fact. 

"So yes.  Allow me to say it first, if I must.  I believe we have an issue that requires resolution.  I do not wish Kontar to feel as if he must walk on eggshells with the women he loves.  Pride is not worth a game of words and cleverness if the cost may be his heart."

She set to finishing her glass of water before turning her attention towards the food.  Her silence could have filled books.  She did not like Nailah Abbasi - though she was doing the best she could to keep that as minimal as possible in the air.  Nor did she appreciate the stares of the Escort that was watching her as if she might sprout fangs and leap to attack the woman.

Raet was Queen of Asyut.  Why would she risk that just to hurt (and likely unsuccessfully at that) the High Priestess of Raej?  The man she'd loved was cast from Raej by that woman, and her own Escort had quite clearly chosen Nailah's side in all of it.  Her Seat was what she had left, and she wouldn't risk it just to put a scratch on Nailah's fair skin.

Despite that disdain, she did have a small smile upon her lips at the fact that the Escort was concerned that she might.  But she didn't remark on it.  The woman was just doing her work - and Raet could hardly blame her for that.

Or, she could, but she certainly wouldn't mention that judgement.  It wouldn't be very fair of her, after all.

"In our history, Lady Abbasi, our history speaks of a time when there was nearly civil war amongst our people.  I've studied this story many times.  The great sin between the two Queens was pride - neither willing to step aside for the good of their people."  She paused in cutting up her food, frowning for a moment.

"I do not wish to replicate their mistake.  I may be Kontar's Queen and Bonded of his Heart... but you are his sister.  He loves you.  For his sake, I wish us to, if not become friends, then at least find some way be at peace in a way that does not speak of a lie."

She set her fork down, folding her hands in her lap as she looked to the woman.  "We can choose to not insult each other, and we can choose to simply not speak of the other - but it will not change that he will be aware we also do not like one another.  This will hurt him.  It already hurts him.  We must find a way to bridge this impasse."

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #3 on: Jan 14, 19, 07:32:03 PM »
Nailah was content to draw the matter out as long as necessary. She knew it wouldn’t be needed. Raet clearly had something on her mind. Nailah knew that if she waited long enough, the Queen would offer up the issue between them. But which issue would she bring forward? Did she want to talk about Kontar or Lord Shingetsu? Nailah would speak of one more readily than the other, but she would not make it easy for Raet. She had committed the offense, so she needed to consider her actions. It seemed simple enough to Nailah.

She said nothing about playing word games for it seemed like a throwaway comment. Instead, she focused in on Raet’s tone, the feelings that she tried to hide beneath her hardened exterior. In a decade, she might well be as crafty as she was attempting to be right now.

No, we didn't have a good start, as you say. But let me offer a correction: our meeting wasn’t the problem. Your bonding to my brother wasn’t even the problem. Your blatant disrespect in arriving late to our meeting with Lord Shingetsu in tow is what soured my mood that day. You sullied yourself with a man who lacks honor, grace, and conviction. Look no further than how quickly he abandoned Raej when Lady Neferet offered him the chance.” Nailah said, finally taking up a glass of water and taking a sip. She paused for a moment to order her thoughts.

Mother Night has decreed that you are the Queen of my brother’s soul. I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is ensure that you do not put the welfare of a man without honor over his own. He deserves a Queen who will honor his devotion and commitment to her. He deserves a Queen who treats him as the treasure that he is. Not just because he’s my brother, but because he is a male that is worthy the effort and will return that investment in his soul tenfold. That is all I have ever wanted for him.

There are a few Queens that I can think of that would do so.
” Nailah said. Only one, really, but Mother Night had given Syeira other duties and other leashes to hold. She’d given Nailah to Syeira, but not her brother. Nailah would wonder over that for years to come.

To me, it seems that your entire Court is walking on eggshells. My brother has good relations with his sisters. He is happy and content with his love, Lady Nima. That leads me to believe that, if he is walking on eggshells with anyone, it seems that the responsible party lies closer to home.” Nailah said.

She sipped her water again, looking over the offered food. Hunger gnawed at the Red Priestess, but the Kontar’s absence was deeper void, one that she could not move past without challenge.

My brother, your bonded, is conspicuous by his absence. He has attended every meeting between us thus far. Am I permitted to ask where he is this afternoon? You’ve laid out a wonderful meal.” Nailah said.

It would ease his mind, I think, to know that we can share a meal in peace. Don't you agree?

Offline Raet Neith

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #4 on: Jan 14, 19, 07:55:52 PM »
Raet lifted an eyebrow, watching as Nailah spun the story as she did.  Is that how she saw it?  It took effort to control her face, that much was true - but if Nailah had any idea of the true depths of emotion to the Queen before her, she likely would not be quite so...

Well.  Nailah.

"Your issues with the Raejjan ambassador are not my problem, Lady Abbasi."  Raet said the words coolly, but did narrow her gaze a bit.  "that being said... I would be careful in how you word things else one might understandably think you are lying, suggesting he was merely given the 'chance' to leave, instead of an order."

Syeira had not enjoyed the fact that Raet found comfort in a foreigner either.  Was it surprising that Nailah would seize upon Maseo's foreign birth as an excuse to tarnish him?  Not really.  But it was... disappointing.

"I find it odd that the Priestess bonded to my Queen and mentor would hold a person's land of origin so harshly against him, instead of seeking to ensure that he is of sound spirit so as to serve his Queen properly.  But perhaps that is because I tend the land, and not the soul."

She lifted her shoulders, shrugging the suggestion away.  "That being said - let us not grow distracted.  Lord Shingetsu is not the problem. If he were - your obvious disdain for me would not be so clearly evident.  If I disrespected you at our meeting Lady Abbasi - if you feel you were insulted, I assure you.  I meant no such disrespect at that time.  Your brother does not only deserve a Queen who will honor his commitment.. he deserves a sister who will try to put aside her own pride to meet that Queen in honest attempt at reconciliation."

Raet set her fork down, wiping at her lips with her napkin before pouring more water.  "AS far as Kontar not being here - I wanted honesty between us.  I thought it best that I remove the very person I wish to protect from this conversation in case words were exchanged that either of us might regret."  She gave a small smile, inclining her head towards Nafessa.

"And my court is on eggshells only because they are aware of tumultuous our... acquaintance... is.  You must admit... Two Red Jewelled females blessed as you both are coming to court to meet with a Green Queen when our relationship is hardly friendly is ample reason to be concerned.  Allow me to explain in plain words.  I am apologizing for any insult you may have felt upon our meeting.  I am willing to reconcile, and attempt to bridge this issue.  That, however, requires that you be willing to concede that you have had very little impulse to get to know or understand the woman that will be involved in your brother's life."

She fixed Nailah with a look.  One that said quite clearly - she hoped - that Raet knew exactly how Nailah felt.  Because... she did.  Few could get this close to Raet and NOT have their emotions be as plain as a book to Raet's eyes.  It was why she was so damned good with her people.

It was why she worked so hard to control her own emotions, to prevent them from controlling herself.  So she closed her eyes and took a breath, releasing it slowly. 

"Your brother has tenuous ties to one of your sisters, currently.  And yes, he loves Lady Thuban.  I am aware.  He adores you.  And he loves the Lady Rehema.  I know him, Lady Abbasi, and I learn more of him every day."  She paused, considering her next words.

"I know of you, through him.  I know that he sees you as a guiding light who works too hard and thinks too harshly of herself.  He thinks we would get along, if we could but... move past this problem."

She wasn't quite sure how to bridge the gap to this creature.  Nailah Abbasi did not want peace.  She did not want reconciliation.  She was furious over Kontar's bonding to Raet, and Raet knew it.  Nailah knew it, even if she would not admit it to herself. 

But how could she get that through to Nailah herself?

"... when I realized how close you and Lady Neferet were, I was jealous."  She said the words calmly, as if they were not hte first time she had said them.  "She helped raise me, you see... she was one of the two hands that I knew I could trust above all others.  And then... from nowhere... came this Red Priestess that I knew despised me for a mistake I had made upon our meeting.  And I realized I would lose her, and there was nothing I could do about it, because the Bond they shared was one unique and sacred."

Her eyes lifted, studying Nailah's face.  "I cannot help but think that perhaps you felt very ... similarly... in regards to your brother.  I am trying, Lady Abbasi, to grow beyond that jealousy.  Lady Neferet will always be the woman who raised me.  There is room in her heart for us both."  And she hoped that she did not have to spell out that Kontar's heart could hold both Raet and Nailah.

But she worried that even if she did, Nailah would not hear her.  If Nailah did not want to, what could Raet do about it?  Nothing.  Nailah Abbasi was the High Priestess of Raej.  She would hold the ear of both Odji and Syeira... and Kontar. 

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #5 on: Jan 14, 19, 11:16:41 PM »
When the...Raejian Ambassador, who happens to be my bond-brother, unduly influences my brother’s Queen, I must speak up. You may not care how that looks, but I do. The perception of your District is extremely important, as it holds the Territory Capital. We both hold Lady Neferet and the High Priest in high esteem. It does me no favors to work against you. But Lord Shingetsu was given a chance to try his fortunes elsewhere. Unless you wish to call Lady Neferet a liar, I would be very careful how you phrase that belief in the future.” Nailah said, taking a drink of her water.

I protect my family and those who are mine, Lady Neith. As a Queen, I believe you understand that desire better than I do.” Nailah said.

Lord Shingetsu had no desire to serve. Did he ever offer his service to you? Did he tell you otherwise? If so, why not share that with Lady Neferet? She would have made a place for him, had he wanted it. He left. That may not comfort you, but it is what it is.” Nailah asked.

But let’s set Lord Shingetsu aside. He’s no longer a factor. This is the second time that I’ve set foot in your Court. You and your people have nothing to fear from me, or my Escort. If you believe otherwise, I can’t stop you. Your Seer came to visit me, which I could interpret as a show of force from you.” Nailah said.

She waved off the idea. “I did not take it that way. Lady Dantis seemed sincere in her desire for mending between us, for Kontar’s sake. That’s why I came here. I may not like you--and I do not--but we have too many people in common for any hostilities to spill into the open.” Nailah said. She looked away now, unwilling to entertain the thoughts in her mind. Whether or not she liked it, Raet Neith was still a District Queen. She could someday ascend to rule the Territory. But her next likely step was to become Province Queen after Syeira ascended. Meaning that Nailah would still have to deal with her. And Kontar’s star would rise or fall as hers did.

My brother is devoted to you. You’re the second thing in his life that I’ve seen him devote himself to without question. I don’t begrudge your connection to him. Mother Night tied you two together for a reason and that is not for me to speak again. Again, I want what is best for him. That requires you being at your best, Lady.” Nailah said.

You are a Queen on the rise with an efficient Court. Lady Neferet speaks highly of you as well. You have an understanding of her soul that I will never have. For that, I do envy you.” Nailah said.

As for your apology...I accept. Lord Shingetsu is gone and Kontar requires peace between us to do his best work for you. He and I have agreed that you are not a safe topic of discussion. Perhaps, in time, that will change.” Nailah said, shifting in her seat.

Offline Raet Neith

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #6 on: Jan 14, 19, 11:39:50 PM »
Her temper boiled.  There was no denying it.  Not for her, at any rate.  But she locked the scent of it down.  She forced it to remain beneath a calm mask as she set eyes on Nailah's face.  "We both know how things were worded when that demand was made of him, Lady Abbasi.  An honorable male does not remain when his Queen sends him away."

She whispered the words, folding her hands together.  "But no.. we are not discussing Lord Maseo no Shingetsu.  We are discussing us.  What your intentions were are... your.. business.  What is past, is past."  Because Nailah was special to Syeira.

And that?  That would be the only reason Raet would let it be.  Kontar was not enough - but only just barely.  Nailah Abbasi had not cared about Raet's feelings when she'd made that maneuver.  She had not cared that her brother's Queen was the one who would be hurt - and Raet believed that it had sort of been the point.

A way for Nailah Abbasi to harm the Queen who had Bonded her brother in the only way she truly could.

But again - that was something she was going to let go from the conversation.  To bring it up would only be to encourage violence - and Raet did not want to do that. Or, she did, but she would not.  Why?  Because... it would hurt Kontar.

"You have my gratitude for your acceptance."  Her voice was quiet, eyes turning to the side as she wrestled pride and anger back down into the vault of her soul. 

You may not care how that looks...

There it was.  That sentence let her know that whether Nailah had meant to or not.. she likely had planted a seed in Kontar's thick skull.  But there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.  Her eyes narrowed, thought and strategy playing through her own mind.

"I find my prayers to be a source of comfort when all else fails."  Her eyes finally turned towards Nailah, and she tipped her head to the side.  "Lady Neferet has performed my Communion many times, Lady Abbasi."

She rose to her feet, moving closer to the window.  "For obvious reasons, she is not as available to me as she once was.  If we are to bridge our impasse... we must try to understand each other."  Both ways.  It had to go both ways.

There were few ways to do that, really. 

"If I am to live up to the shadow that Lady Neferet casts, I wish to follow in her footsteps.  I wish to learn a more spiritual path, Lady Abbasi.  Lady Neferet has already given her blessing to me attempting this."  Her eyes settled back on Nailah, now that she had wrestled things into place.  "Would you be willing to guide me on this path, Lady Abbasi?"

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #7 on: Jan 31, 19, 10:47:04 PM »
Nailah’s eyes narrowed as the Green Queen claimed knowledge of things for which she wasn’t present. She wasn’t here to argue with Raet, however. Her former lover had, more than likely, spun her a tale of woe about being forced away from his Queen by the evil Bitch Priestess of Raej. Nailah didn’t give a damn how Maseo framed his departure. She cared even less how Raet took it. Maseo made choices that placed him in his current situation. He also had the power to return himself to Raej by submitting to his Queen.

His continued absence spoke clearly of his desire.

Indeed, Lady Neith. What’s past, is past. Perhaps we’d both do well not to dwell upon it any longer.” Nailah said, taking another sip of water. Perhaps she was being unkind, but Raet made it difficult to engage her compassion. She was so full of herself, so assured of her place in life that Nailah found it difficult to restrain herself from pointing out the woman’s failures.

But she was Kontar’s Queen. Nailah loved her brother and, despite her dislike of Raet, the Green Queen needed to do well. Kontar’s future happiness and success depended upon Raet’s success. Syeira also cared for the girl, meaning that Nailah needed to show her the respect due her station.

Lady Neferet has told me that you always enjoyed your Communion. She holds you in high regard, Lady Neith. She wishes for your success...as do I.” Nailah said, the latter part coming a beat later than she intended. This wasn’t going to work. Raet was already rising from the table. Perhaps It was best if she just cut her losses and--.

If I am to live up to the shadow that Lady Neferet casts, I wish to follow in her footsteps.  I wish to learn a more spiritual path, Lady Abbasi.  Lady Neferet has already given her blessing to me attempting this.

Nailah stilled as she watched Raet’s profile. She wasn’t serious, was she?

Lady Neith, I think I know what you’re asking but I need to hear you say the words so that there is no miscommunication between us. You say that you want to follow a more spiritual path. You certainly don’t need my help to be more pious.

What are you asking of me?


Offline Raet Neith

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #8 on: Feb 02, 19, 11:18:58 AM »
What are you asking of me?

Nailah Abbasi was no fool.  Perhaps Raet might believe her to be asking that merely to poke at Raet's pride... but it was also possible that the request was so unexpected that Nailah simply couldn't believe that Raet would ask Nailah.  Raet couldn't say she was overly pleased to be asking - but it was one way, at least, to prove to Kontar and to her Court that she was a good Queen who could move past her own issues.

She never wanted to deal with the backstabbing of mistrust in her court again.  She would not be some puppet to be manipulated unknowing until it was too late. 

"Lady Neferet trusts you, and loves you, Lady Abbasi.  She respects you as a Priestess, and I would seek to learn from one she respects."  Her eyes closed upon the view of the window, stomach churning at the knowledge that she had to spell it out to this woman.

Raet didn't want to.  She was prideful - even when she had not expected to be.  She was.  At least when it came to Nailah Abbasi and her smug, self-righteous belief that she had the right to interfere in Raet's life without invitation.

Doing this invites her...
and that will make it easier to swallow.  And to keep an eye on things.


No more surprises.

She forced her eyes open, turning to regard Nailah with a polite smile.  "I do not expect you to pretend at a fondness you do not feel, Lady Abbasi.  And you, of course, are free to decline being my instructor in the path of a Priestess, if you wish.  I simply ask that you point me in the direction of someone you trust to see to my training, in that case."

What would it do to the prideful shrew's pride to admit that she didn't want to do this aloud?  What would it do to Nailah Abbasi's image if she was seen to shove Asyut's Queen, the Queen raised by Odji and Syeira Neferet, to a lesser Priestess for instruction?  Oh, Raet knew that Nailah would recover from it as she was far too shrewd not to, but the fact that she would have to maneuver like that would grate beneath Nailah's skin.  Raet somewhat enjoyed that consolation prize if Nailah should decline her request.

But if Nailah accepted?  Then Raet would have to swallow her pride and let her own skin grate and scrape as she learned.   It would be worth it.  Perhaps, if she could reach for that caste and start to learn her own way towards the Darkness, she would find the peace she'd once believed she had.

Maybe, just maybe, she would be able to move past all of this without getting blood on her hands.

Offline Nailah Abbasi

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #9 on: Feb 13, 19, 01:09:12 AM »
Nailah saw the trap too late.

She realized, now, that she had misjudged the cunning of the Green Queen. Her request wasn’t for token aid or a civility that both could fake without feeling. Raet sought entry into the mysteries and mysticism of the holiest calling among the Blood. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of a woman who could not be followed. She sought a holiness and closeness to Mother Night that wasn’t given at birth. Syeira’s soul was Priestess and Queen from the start and it was a journey, a path that she still walked even today.

There were a thousand people in Raej she could have asked to teach her. Instead, she’d chosen this day, this time, this moment to ask it of the one person in Raej who had every reason to wish for her failure. Failure cost Raet nothing at all. If she took this path and failed, then she was merely a failure and a waste of Nailah’s time and energy. She would still be the District Queen of Kemet and bearer of a Green Jewel. She would still be Kontar’s Queen and the favored apprentice of her Nailah’s own Queen.

Success had its own price, though.

Raet’s success would see her sharing two castes with Syeira, allowing her to understand Nailah’s Queen in ways that Nailah never, ever would. That would draw them closer, despite the issues with Maseo. Syeira’s life would be filled with yet another person who carried the burden and honor of being twice-blessed by Mother Night. Between the High Priest, Prince Iskander, and Raet, Syeira would be surrounded by those who understood what she lived with each day of her life.

What purpose did Nailah serve when Syeira had others who understood the deepest depths of her soul?

Nailah wanted to refuse her. The words, gentle yet condemning, lingered at the tip of her tongue. No matter how gently she said it, however, Nailah’s refusal to teach Raet would be nothing short of a rebuke. It wouldn’t just be a rebuke from Nailah, but from the High Priestess of Raej herself. Raet had all but accused her of meddling in her Court through Kontar. Her brother would see as a slap in his Queen’s face and rebuke of him. Their relationship would suffer and give Raet the “proof” that she sought to tell everyone that Nailah was trying to undermine her.

Her reputation would survive but the tarnish would never fade.

If Nailah turned her down, many of her sisters would turn Raet away as well. She could find a teacher but there was no way of knowing how she’d fare under another hand. With Nailah’s luck, the young Queen would break her Jewels or develop poor habits and embarrass Raej’s Priestesshood for generations. Once more, Kontar would hate her for his Queen’s humiliation.

Or worse...she would learn from Nailah’s enemies.

Choosing the lesser of two evils was still making a choice. Nailah’s only comfort in this case was that, if Raet succeeded in this effort, she would have to be grateful to the High Priestess for the rest of her life. She could never speak ill of her to another soul without proving herself a hypocrite.

Nailah lifted her water glass and drank until it was empty. Then she poured a second glass and emptied that one, too. She had a little something to eat, saying nothing until she’d turned over the angles in her mind.

How will you balance your current duties with your training? You are a District Queen with many demands on your time. If you cannot do this, it is best that we do not start in the first place. You are seeking to remake your soul into a vessel for Mother Night’s will and a stronger, deeper connection to the Darkness.” Nailah said.

You will learn things about yourself that you may not know. You will learn things of others that you do not want to know. These things may be at odds with your natural instincts as a Queen.” she said, rising from her seat. .

This path, once you start it, will dominate your life whether you succeed or fail. I have watched Witches open themselves to the full weight of Mother Night’s gaze and be crushed beneath just a second of her scrutiny. You will live beneath that gaze every second of every hour of every day for the rest of your life and beyond, Raet Neith.” Nailah said, her tone distant as though remembering something deeply painful.

The needs of a Priestess are vastly different from the needs of a Queen, Raet. Those things will live within you for the rest of your days if you walk this path.” Nailah said.

She strode toward Raet now, moving into her space as she stood at the window. She needed this Queen to understand what she was asking for.

In my temple, I am law, Raet Neith. We are not near-sisters. We are not friends. We will be teacher and student. Can you truly accept that?

Offline Raet Neith

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #10 on: Mar 13, 19, 01:12:40 PM »
Raet tipped her head to the side, watching as Nailah Abbasi tried to weave a path in a situation fraught with danger.  Had Raet known of the many political ramifications should Nailah agree or deny?  Yes.  Did she care that she had put this woman, this High Priestess, in a position the Priestess would find untenable?  Not really, no. 

The High Priestess had certainly not cared for Raet's feelings when she made the decisions she'd made.  She did not care for Raet's feelings when she had banished Maseo.

But Raet did not linger long on that thought.  To linger on it would be to invite anger again - and anger would be counter-productive.  Raet knew taht she could have chosen any Priest or Priestess in Raej to become her mentor - but she had not.  She had chosen Nailah, for a multitude of reasons.  Syeira would not interfere if Nailah was Raet's teacher.  Nailah was the High Priestess, and so if Nailah was her instructor then any onlookers would believe that the Priestess and the Asyut Queen were far from enemies.

They were not enemies, not really.  They simply despised the other.

"I have a fully functional court capable of seeing my will enacted in nearly every situation, Lady Abbasi."  Her words were quiet, confident, and final.  "My duties to my District and to my Court can be fulfilled even as I seek to better understand my Self and the Darkness.  As for the Weight of the Night's gaze..."

She turned her head, looking back out towards the windows.  "Better to be willing to brave the judgement of our Mother and fail than to be too afraid to do so and always wonder.  I cannot be the Queen my Bonded deserve if I do not at least try.  If that means that I will be your student in your Temple, then I will be your student in your Temple. I do not seek a friend, Lady Abbasi... I seek a Teacher.  Perhaps someday, when all is said and done, you and I might be more than that. But friendship is not necessary.  Merely devotion and honorable agreement are what is needed in this."

Nailah Abbasi made clear with her line of questioning that she did not want Raet to do this.  Someone else might think that Nailah was thinking in Raet's interest - and Raet knew better.  Nailah didn't care about Raet's best interest save in ensuring that her brother did not suffer. 

That was fine.  Raet didn't much care for Nailah's best interest right now either - save in how she could turn it to good purpose.

"It is my hope that you will find me a devoted student, Lady Abbasi, if you do so agree to take me on."  Gentle words.  Lures and Protocol meant to ensure there was nothing with which the Priestess could seize an excuse to NOT follow through.  Spoken in a way, with an expression, that made it clear that Raet was aware there was disdain on Nailah's part... and was requesting the training anyways.

"I mean to serve my people.  This seems to me the best path for me to do so."

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #11 on: Mar 21, 19, 11:18:01 PM »
Nailah had to admire Raet’s courage, after a fashion. Asking a woman she despised to act as her mentor wasn’t something Nailah would have done. Well, not Nailah as she existed now. In a different time and place, Nailah might have done the same if it meant helping her family or serving her Queen. Raet said that she wanted to serve her people; Nailah was willing to acknowledge that as true, but she also saw that Raet was serving herself. She would make herself a strong contender to take Syeira’s seat when the latter finally ascended to rule Raej. Eyes would turn to Raet at that point and, unless she was foolish, she could choose her own path. Nailah had a low opinion of Raet in general, but her opinion of the Queen’s cunning was being fast revised by the Red Priestess.

Raet said that her Court could enact her will, allowing her to devote her attention toward her training. Nailah nodded and left it at that. Raet was the judge of what she could and could not handle, so Nailah would treat her as any other aspiring student and watch her closely for signs that she had taken on more than she could handle.

Very well, Lady Neith. Then I will accept you as as my student. I will assemble the appropriate texts and materials necessary to begin your training. We will begin at the start of next week. I don’t know if you’ve explained to your Court what you plan to do, but if you have other preparations to make, then I will give you the time to make them. We’ll begin on Monday morning.” Nailah said, turning to face the Green jeweled Queen in full.

I will tell you that, while I am well-versed in many areas of my caste’s Craft, my greatest skill lies in Connecting with the Darkness. I help others reach and refill their well of power in less time than it would take many of my sisters. I will teach you other things to guide you to success, but I believe that the ability to help others understand the power and gifts that the Blood have been given by the Darkness, and how to access them, is invaluable in learning the truth about ourselves and our purpose in this life.” Nailah said.

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Re: In Temple and In Law
« Reply #12 on: Mar 29, 19, 11:10:13 AM »
If Nailah Abbasi expected Raet to sag in relief at being told 'yes', then she would greatly disappointed.  Raet did not change her posture, nor her breathing.  She continued to look out the window, instead, to the city and people she was meant to Serve.  And if this training went well?  If Raet succeeded in this bid to become a Priestess?  Then she would also Guide her people.

She could guide their Hearts and their Souls, could try to bring Justice and Compassion to a world that revelled in its Cruelties and Sins. 

Once Nailah's words had time to settle, once Raet was certain she had full control of her own face, then she turned to regard the Priestess.  "I thank you, Lady Abbasi.  There will, of course, be a room that is always ready for you and yours here should you need it.  I look forward to Monday, to learning of yoru wisdom, and I thank you for your time."

Yes, that was a polite dismissal.  Raet needed to speak to Kontar, to Maaria, and to Vadik.  Her anchors, her Bonded, would be her Voice, her Eyes, and her Arm while she was learning.  She had a goal.  She had a purpose.  And she intended to remind the world that Queens Ruled for a reason.

Syeira and Odji had helped to raise her - they had guided her when she was lost and they had instilled a sense of worth that this last two years had shaken.  That shaking would stop.  Make her remember why the two of you are so well matched..

Maseo's advice the day he had left Raej had been good advice.  Syeira found in Nailah a sisterhood and confidante she must have felt she was missing.  Raet had ever been a devout soul despite not being born to the Caste of Priestess, but that?  That could change.  Raet could learn this.  She would take that path, and she would become a Priestess Queen.  She would find a way to bridge that gap that clearly had allowed others to come between them.

And in doing so?  Perhaps she could make an ally of an enemy.  Perhaps she could mend the bridge shaken by Kontar's actions.  And perhaps?  Perhaps in the Darkness she could find peace.

Which, really, was all Raet Neith believed she wanted.

~fin~

 

 

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