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**Prove to me that this was the right decision,** she whispered to him privately. Man, he loved it when she talked to him one on one. It was a personal slice of Elenor pie. Okay, that sounded weird but hey, it was true!

Bashir’s smile went eager to please. **Damn right I will!** he said to her. He was going to do this! He was going to prove to everyone that she had chosen right when making him her First Escort. Fuck them all, he was going to do it!

He had pretty much no idea how much he was going to eat those words in the coming months but, hey, hindsight is a bitch.

Bashir spent the next few minutes listening to Elenor give her promotions and pronouncements, grinning proudly and only ever interjecting once with another “Fuck yeah” when his sister Malika was named assistant to the Steward. Okay, he still wasn’t pleased that the Steward was fucking Matin but go Malika!

Well, wait, there was one more interjection, of sorts, and it was when Sarina was accepted as a ward of the Clan. “Great,” Bashir muttered in a low voice. He didn’t quite understand why Sarina didn’t like him but it went both ways. And now he was going to have to deal with her on a daily basis.

But hey, bright side: warrants out for Shira’s arrest. About fucking time there!

Bashir didn’t say that aloud though.

Elenor capped her public pronouncements with one more thing:  “To ensure the orderly functioning of this Court and Clan and to keep this violence tearing us apart from spreading, let it be know that from this day until the day when Zhaleh and Shira al-Sabbah are in custody, tried, and sentenced, the Sabbah Court stands in the shadow and protection of the Gray.”

As she said those words, Gray shields sprang up around the dais, causing a shiver down Bashir's spine, and some nonchalant looking dude stepped out into view.

Huh....who the fuck was this?

Bashir’s eyebrow lifted in that unhappy jealous way guys tended to do when they saw someone else as a rival. But Elenor didn’t talk about new dude. She talked about the High Priest...ess? Now Bashir’s eyebrow lifted in confusion. Priestess that...preferred to be a he? Bashir counted that weird thing off on his fingers. Man, that was confusing. He was totally going to forget to do that the first few times -- not for lack of trying! Just...okay, for lack of trying.

And then Elenor talked about the bitch Shira and what she probably had in store. “Okay, seriously, if we’re protected by a Gray, why aren’t we just blasting her to bits and getting this over with?” he asked after Elenor had talked about paranoia being the name of the game. “I mean, we know she’s behind all of this shit, right?”
Hayll / Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Last post by Cassius Decius on Nov 13, 18, 06:36:22 PM »
Cassius shrugged, his shirt shifting to reveal more of the dark black hair on his chest, perfectly manicured. “My own people are maiming, torturing, and killing their own. I gave up trying to judge groups of people on presumptions. Besides, I grew up after the Great War and was more concerned about pleasing my Masters than on an enemy I never knew.” He didn’t add that his own Queen had wings. Beautiful membranous black wings that their Master had basically clipped. Cassius was unsure if anyone had told Precious they were beautiful before he had. Any people that shared blood with Queen could not be all bad. It was curious Shadya thought he might think that though. Perhaps she knew more free Hayllians than he did. The Prince knew his perspective was fairly limited.

At least he could put some of her fears aside. And Cassius did not care if she rejected that word. Fear. Because that is what it was. He had not spent half a century reading people’s emotions to be so blind. “If he is your uncle than I’m sure he is not like the stories they told of Eryiens in Hayll. You don’t seem like the type of witch to put up with much shit.” And then he paused and added. “I think you are wrong in your assumption of the long livedas well. The few short lived slaves I spoke to always assumed the long live forget those with less of a life span, but that’s not true. We forgot those that are unremarkable, those that leave no imprint on our life, long or short lived. And you Lady Shadya, are not unremarkable and being forgotten is not something you will have to worry about.”

He would think that was fairly obvious.

For all that Cassius had been comfortable, relaxed, self assured a moment ago, as she brought up the past helooked away. Even the mention of Aurav sent a shiver of fear down his spine. He no longer thought the man owned him or he had set up some elaborate plot to trap him, but the terror of ever seeing the male again was bone deep. The Prince did not know if he could stop himself from kneeling or even from apologizing that he left. If he left Pruul, would the other territories return him to Aurav if they found out he had escaped? Fidgeting, Cas took a deep breath and gulped, attempting to disengage from thoughts of his Master.

At least he could distract himself with the drawing. His eyes are up her reaction, a large smile showing his perfectly white teeth. Warmth flowed through him. He had been so worried she wouldn’t like it. That this was not what free people did. His dark hair shifted in front of his eyes as the Prince felt the weight of the room shift, the emotions heavy in the air. Cassius felt the desire to reach out and grab Shadya’s hand in his excitement, but he didn’t. That would probably be overstepping.

Instead he dutifully extended a strand of emotional Craft, easing the sadness she felt with the practiced ease of a professional. “Thank you, Lady, but I doubt I would have been an appropriate match for your sister. I doubt I’m a good match for anyone.” He laughed lightly, his golden eyes sparkling with mirth at the idea. “It’s fine though. I am still unconvinced that this ‘love’ Judiah speaks so highly of truly exists outside of family and Bond.” It seemed a very odd notion to him. He wondered if Shadya felt the same way and he was even more curious why he cared at all.

He watched as the the new Voice sat back before he shifted uncomfortably, again. That was twice in one meeting. Such visible signs of his emotions were rare for the Prince and he chided himself for showing them so easily, “Just because you were made to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Or that you want to do it for free. I was made for pleasure, but some compensation would be nice going forward.”

Sighing, Cassius leaned closer to the Black Widow, his teeth clenching briefly.

“The real reason is...I’m feeling a bit...lost. You’ve done an amazing job repairing my Chalice and now I am beginning to wonder what’s next. How free.” He brought his long fingers up to run through his hair, his shoulder sagging. He didn’t know how to explain it fully. He didn’t even know if free people had these thoughts or worries. “It is perhaps a normal thing for you. Maybe hard to imagine. But...I’ve always been the payment, not the payer. Always been told what to do and where to go. It feels...strange, almost begin to try and figure out things you’ve been able to learn since birth. I thought payment might be a good place to start, before I move onto anything...substantial.” He didn’t think he could fuck up giving people a payment too badly.

“Like what to do when I leave Pruul.”
Dena Nehele / Re: In this Region, this the Soil, this the Clime
« Last post by Adamara Pavel on Nov 13, 18, 05:48:27 PM »
“I hear you, Prince,” Adamara whispered — this was ritual, was rote, was respite couched in the familiar horizons of Protocol, sensing how the Warlord Prince leaned into her touch, turning into the innate call of a Queen, of a living, breathing, heart of the Blood, though perhaps not the heart he was bound to.  One he chose, she liked to think, because choice mattered.  Mattered here, between them, more than anywhere else; between two who had choice stripped of them, subjected to the violence of a callous and cripplingly corrupt land they dared to call home.  Jeremiah wanted a friend of the heart, a kindred spirit.

The Rose Warlord Prince needed an anchor, a safe space.  His fair aristocratic friend was protective and enraged.  The Queen?  The Queen knew hunger when her hand came across its all too familiar cadence.  Need was another face of hunger, another face of fear.  He craved something she could never return to him, something that he would be on a lifelong journey to redefine and reclaim.  But she could hold him, could offer him the unyielding grace of her Queen’s Touch, deeper than the tunnels of Moesian mountains, full of secret keeping and winding silence.

Adamara felt her heart cracking open with each word, each carefully sundered parcel of his waking nightmare drawn to the fore like poison drawn from a wound.  She spread her hands even as she spread her senses up from the Abyss of Purple Dusk, cresting upon the depths of Rose swirling at her metaphysical ankles like the warmest summer afternoons, an iridescent net of her Birthright strength surfacing with her.  It was almost too close, the immediacy, the intimacy of his horror a twin of her own, beckoning the shadows of the broken places even as the sheathe to soul’s edge betrayed little beyond unforgiving compassion. 

“We are all connected, no?”

How strange to be here, now, alive if not whole; braced against one another for shelter from their pasts.

“Can you imagine how bleak a world it would be without each other?  Without Rilandra, or Sora, or the wards at your Court?  Can you imagine living without loving, Jeremiah?”

He probably had, based on what he told her.

She looked down for a moment, staring sightlessly at the folds of her skirt, the many hands who had planted the seed, harvested the cotton, spun the thread.  Staring, for a long breath, at something which could not be seen with something as mundane as human sight.  When she looked up again, her eyes were a bright, dizzying green.

A lustrous pair of shimmering leaf green eyes that had not seen the light of day for years.

“I cannot.  And to love, we cannot hold up our walls to it, cannot protest the cold when we will not allow the flame a hearth.  We must love in spite of that, my dear friend, because this world would break us of it if it could, if we let it.  Just as we must live. 

Would you take love from her, from your Queen?  You know how lonely it is, to rule.  You know the weight of that terror, the fear we grow with until it becomes almost like a sister, a twin.  You have seen it lay its hand upon us and choke the life from our souls.  Would you take love from any of us, Jeremiah?”

Gently, ever so gently, the Purple Dusk Queen felt tears gathering upon the gilded gold of her lower lashes; heavy, heavy, brimming—

Spilling down her cheeks.

Whose pain was it?

His or hers?

She could no longer tell. 

“This love that binds us is the only thing that safe guards our hearts.”

How could she not know? 

Dena Nehele abhorred its Queens.  Dena Nehele stole them.  Bought them.  Murdered them.  And with the death of every Queen, how many lives were terrorized by it?  How many people starved because the land would never know that woman’s gift?  How many males went their whole lives, empty, yearning for purpose, their Queen forever lost?  What laid defining at the core of Dena Nehele, a place that allowed such violence to the Blood’s most cherished caste, but a hatred and a destruction capable of swallowing them all?  This was a land which needed what it destroyed with such childish glee.  She had come back from the brink of madness because of it.  Made the arduous and unending scrabble back down into the horrors of her own vulnerability in the name of such love.

“I’m here, I hear you, and it hurts, yes, it’s terrifying,” she murmured, voice low and full of breath, faster than she would like, the words like cupped hands trying to catch rain. 

“But we are not our pain.  We are our choices, and nothing can ever steal that from us.  We are not our wounds, only wounded.  And when the pain is too great, I will hold your too sharp pieces for you so that they will not cut you.

Dea al Mon / Re: look me in the eyes, tell me what you see
« Last post by Squall Thrainsson on Nov 13, 18, 05:22:09 PM »
The Healer Steward was not the only one out and about in the middle of the night - this night or any other night for that matter. Squall Thrainsson was often out when most other souls would be sleeping. His own slumber came in shifts - two hours there, another hour here, three hours, twenty minutes - all in-between obsessive patrols of the area. This was something he had done every night when he'd first come to Glory Glade, first returned to his Queen - but had eased off in the following months as he'd remembered what it was like to be... civilized. Recently, however, he'd been feeling restless, almost anxious. It was like his instincts were trying to tell him something that his brain hadn't caught up to yet.

So he was out, making his rounds, when Hearsay crossed his senses.

He might have let the other male have his time - let him exorcise his troubles in peace - except it was more than a little bit chilly outside and this wasn't the first time this week that the other male had apparently had trouble sleeping. It was true that Hearsay was a Warlord of the Blood fairly capable of defending himself. He was darker than Squall withe both of his Jewels.

But the Healer Warlord was his. His to protect. Like Epiphany, but different. They looked out for each other, and Squall had grown quite attached and protective of the other male. And he was out here, when it was cold, and he wasn't wearing a scarf, and he should have been sleeping, and there was the distinct aftertaste of fear in his psychic scent that told of a nightmare. Squall didn't like this.

So instead he lingered, up in the trees, watching as Hearsay set his stance and went through his forms. But as the minutes stretched his limbs seemed to get shakier, unsteady, uncertain - like he was fighting a strain inside him that was taking over more and more until it was beginning to effect him physically as well. Squall saw this, and he didn't like it even more. There was only so much he could watch before he silently dropped down from the trees, summoning a thick, soft cloak that would be very warm.

"Hearsay." His voice was quiet, but loud enough to be heard as he stepped into the moonlight. He waited for the other to see him, recognize him, then he approached and put the cloak around his shoulders. "Wanna talk about it?"
Dena Nehele / Re: Getting Acquainted
« Last post by Niccolo Faa on Nov 13, 18, 01:37:44 PM »
If Nick was able to assist in Stela’s understanding of the Warlord Prince, then he was pleased.  It was not every day that he felt motivated to say such things, and while she had not asked, he believed she needed a bit of assistance in the understanding of her Father.  She seemed to agree with his words, and he said no more about it.  He was not terribly good at clarification, especially when he felt he had been very direct in his statement.  ”I do not know if any others are musicians.  Sora plays the piano.”  He could tell her that he played the guitar, but that still felt—private, so he did not.  ”Music is appreciated.  You may find a patron more easily than you think.”

He quietly watched the Priestess finish her stretching, and stepped up to the bag when she seemed ready.  He tilted his head slightly.  Someone was approaching, it was one of the guards, a Warlord whose name Nick had yet to learn.  He always remembered their names when he did, but he knew this one by his heartbeat.  He was often doing just what he was doing now, finding one of the Wards, or someone else in the palace.  He stepped away from the bag when the guard entered the room, and fixed him with his bright cat-like gaze.  Nick felt the man’s heartbeat increase a touch under his eyes.

Nick wondered what Drake wanted with Stela, but that was not for him to worry about.  He was only as curious as the thought, and no further, particularly where the First Escort was concerned.  ”I understand.” He said to Stela’s explanation.  He was somewhat surprised by Stela’s desire to ‘hang out sometime’.  No one had really asked him that.  Asimov and he spent time together, but that was just something they did because they were often awake in the wee hours in the same place.  ”I am sure we will be seeing each other, we are both here.  We can easily train together again.”
Dena Nehele / Re: Sparring Partners
« Last post by Niccolo Faa on Nov 13, 18, 12:15:06 PM »
Nick did not wait.  He let Savi consider what he had done, and continued to spar.  He connected when he changed styles, and that was something he would have to remember for the future.  He waved Nick back, and the Warlord Prince nodded, his hands dropping and his combat crouch straightening.  He went for the water, and had a drink while Savi pull himself back together.  He could see him checking his pockets, and Nick waited.  He could have done this with much more care, but he was not able to vanish or conjure anything, and he did not think Savi would appreciate a mystery being dropped into his pocket.  Savi had always dealt with Nikk honestly, and Nick felt he should do the same in return, as far as he could, anyway.  There were some secrets that the Warlord did not have to know.

He could not recall ever seeing Savi surprised by anything.  Nick had nearly thrown him across the room one time, and he was not surprised even then.  He just shook it off, and they agreed he would not grapple with Nick for awhile.  To see surprise on his face now was something of a surprise.  Nick considered how to answer the question, and then took a breath.  He offered a slight shrug, ”I do get out into Bidea every now and then.  I did not mean to eavesdrop, but my senses are just...”  He trailed off, and gestured at Savi, ”I can hear your heart beating right now.  I would know it anywhere.  You are not even winded.  I have sparred guards that would be by now.”  He shook his head slightly, ”I hard someone mention a theft, and your jewelry store.”

The Nick did as he had been instructed, albeit with additional embellishment, ”So, I followed him.  It troubled me that this—this person--somehow made your day more difficult.  I recovered the jewels just as he was giving them to some ignorant woman.”  He went on to describe the pair in great detail, just as Sway had instructed him to.  Was this another Myos test?  Whatever the case, he had not revealed anything about who or what he was.  ”I do not know who they really belong to, but I figured that you might, and that if you had them, you could return them.”
Pruul / Re: Even the Most Practical Can be Beautiful
« Last post by Sarina al-Sabbah on Nov 13, 18, 11:55:18 AM »
Sarina blushed a bright, almost painful red at the teasing from the handsome Prince. “Um - oh - I - ah - I… I've never managed any healing.” As the blush started to fade, Sarina's brain engaged itself and she recognized the name ‘Cassius’ as the name of the person who might perform the young Queen's Virgin Night. Lady Elenor had said he wasn't Pruulian and this Prince was definitely not Pruulian; he had to be the same person.

The blood rushed back to her face so quickly that Sarina feared for a moment that she would pass out. Indeed, the blood rush was so intense that Sarina saw dark spots in front of her eyes and she wobbled, falling off the bench to land with a thud and a startled “ooomph” in the dusty courtyard.

The young Queen sat there, face burning in mortification. When Danyal hoisted her back onto the bench, Sarina gave his hands a grateful squeeze. She wasn't able to look at Cassius yet, almost too embarrassed to speak. “Ahhh, Lady Sabbah mentioned you to me, Prince Cassius.” She stared at her hands as she spoke.

After a time, she was able to pull herself together and apologize for startling him. When he told her not to apologize, Sarina shook her head. “That's not the way the world should  work Prince. Every person, no matter their caste or Jewel should take responsibility for their own actions. That there are people who don't….” She trailed off a moment before looking him intently in the eyes. “That there are people who do not take that responsibility… well that makes me sad.  All I can do, though, is try to show others by example and hope that they will be better.”

Cassius spoke of his Queen and Sarina wanted to weep for him. Hesitantly she reached out and brushed the back of his hand with her fingertips. “Believe me. She IS lucky to have you.  I know that I don't know your story,  but I know that you are a part of her for a reason, and that reason is good.”

Her words were heartfelt and instinctive. She hoped with all that she was that it would help him.

He changed the topic to plants, and with a light laugh the young Queen permitted the topic change. “Most of the plants you see here aren't actually native to Pruul except maybe in the mountains - I don't know since I've never been to them.”

 She got up and walked back to her garden. “Everything here produces something edible, but some of the flowers are are very lovely.” As she spoke, Sarina reached down and plucked a couple of blossoms, then walked to another bed to pick two more. She returned to the bench quickly, sitting back down right beside the Prince.

“Here,” she said as she handed a bloom to him.  “These are some of my favorites. This is a squash blossom. The squash was the first plant Lady Sabbah showed me how to care for. I think that's why I like it so much.” She handed over the second flower, a bright yellow spiral with a dark center.  “This is an okra blossom. I'm not terribly fond of the  fruit of this plant, but the flowers always make me think of the sun. And I like that the plant has these prickles as a defense. You have to be really determined to get to know it to get past the defense and really see the beauty of the plant.”

The third flower was a trumpet of thick red petals. “This is ginger. If the okra makes me think of the sun, this reminds me of the sunrise. And lastly…”

She held the spray of light purple flowers up to her nose, inhaling deeply before handing it to Cassius. “Lavender. Its very beautiful and smells wonderful. Sometimes when I can't sleep or I have a bad dream, I come and pick a little of the lavender to put on my pillow. It helps me get to sleep and makes my dreams seem not so bad.”

Sarina smiled brightly at Cassius. “Maybe you can take some seeds with you when you find your Queen and grow some lavender for her.”
Dena Nehele / Re: Mother is the Name
« Last post by Niccolo Faa on Nov 13, 18, 10:53:47 AM »
Nick worked on a simple, even elegant, scale.  He did not have the ability to speak to his experiences in emotional terms, at least not positive ones.  He was getting help with that, even if it was just being able to sleep, as Jeremiah had arranged.  Even a Black Widow could not entirely banish a lifetime of abuse and anguish, those bad years had eben formative years, and for every bad dream that could be taken a way, Nick subconscious would simply generate more.  They had not been removed, they had been contained, they had been navigted, and they had been caught in whatever net or construct or lesson Jeremiah had been able to impart to Nick after he had lost control.  He did not need to know how it worked to enjoy the sleep that it offered.  However, it did not mend the damage already done.  Nick valued these people, his home, and everything they had done for him.  It was a debt he could never repay, so he would always try to.  A small set of people had earned his best,a nd he would give it to them.

He could read the expression on Jeremiah’s face.  He and Riley helped him because he needed it.  Jeremiah was brother, uncle, and even father, simply because that was how the Warlord Prince beisde him was built.  Nick marveled at how this Territory could create such a person, and yet, still create him.  They were so different.  Jeremiah and he were both Warlord Princes, but the heart of their rage came from very different locations in the landscape of their minds.  Black Widow and Warlord Prince, it did not matter to Nick; he was just Jeremiah.  He did nto say anything, just a subtle shift, and Nick gave a very mild, almost helpless shrug.  It was what it was, but he gave his word anyway, because sometimes a thing needs to be spoken, intent needs to be given form and realized, even if it was just for the two of them.  Nick relaxed just a little more with Jeremiah’s acknowledgement, and tilted his head at the slight tap he had experienced before.

Nick’s expression remained impassive, but his gaze unfocused as he went back into his memory.  He had not really discussed his particular gifts.  Jeremiah, and Riley, both suspected.  They had seen his estate, and while that was not really a secret, how is shaped his perceptions was not very well known.  His friend, however, had been in his head, and if there was anyone other than Sway that had heard Nick speak at any length, it was the Queen’s Shadow sitting beside him.  ”I cannot help it, not entirely.  It is not disturbing to me, and at times it is a comfort.  It is, I think, or would be, disturbing to others if they knew.”  He was quiet for a moment, before he went on.  ”I can sense your heartbeat.  I can sense it at a distance, the instinct is to use that knowledge as a weapon, to get a sense for how a person works—like watching the inside of a pocket watch and understanding which gear is most important.”  He took a breath, ”I do this for everyone, it is instinct, like the way you constantly speak to Riley  or the way you hear or taste, it just happens.”  He was quiet again, as memories and new knowledge shifted, and clicked into place.  ”I could hear another heartbeat when I listened for was hidden by hers, but now that I am aware, there is nothing else it could have been.”

”Riley will be a mother.”  There was unintended emphasis on that word, and Nick was not sure where that came from.  Nor was he entirely sure that he liked what it revealed about him.  He was a bit uncomfortable with gratitude.  He had done nothing.  Nothing but be himself, nothing but listen for the physiological signs of life, with the instinctive understanding of how to use Craft to end that life.  Even now, he could sense Jeremiah as well as others, he could reach into the entire Palace and focus on individuals.  Everyone’s heart beat just a littler differently from the next.  ”You do not ever have to thank me, Jeremiah.”  He nodded.  If there was anyone in the Palace that could continue to behave as he always did, concealing his instincts to protect Riley even more, it was him.  ”I will do nothing different in public.  If people here have not figured out that I would protect Riley, they are not paying any attention.”  Nick tilted his head slightly, ”I am not sure anyone else has access to my particular perception, but it should be easy to hide the second heartbeat—it is but a flutter.”

He could not clearly remember his Mother’s face.  Why had he thought of that?  More, why did that trouble him?  He swallowed, ”Is there anything you need me to do?”
Pruul / Re: Even the Most Practical Can be Beautiful
« Last post by Cassius Decius on Nov 13, 18, 08:44:49 AM »
"A pleasure to meet you Lady. My name is Cassius Decius."

The Queen felt exceptionally young to Cassius. She looked at the world like it was still shiny and new. Very much like his daughter. The association made him smile warmly, his tongue wetting his full lips. “It’s no problem, Lady Sarina. Just something you pick up for those that like a little bloodier bed play. I could show you if you want?” His smile deepened and his gold eyes sparkled. “The healing. Not the bed play.” The Prince laughed at his gentle teasing, the movements causing his open front shirt to sway lightly, revealing his muscles chest.

Cassius held up a hand when she apologized, shaking his head. “Oh no. It wasn’t your fault. Lady Shadya says I am doing better, but until she finishes with me I still struggle.” He cocked his head. “Don’t apologize so easily, my Lady. You are a free Dark Jeweled Queen. You do whatever you wish and others will apologize to you.” He wish that is how Precious could have grown up. He wondered if her new caretakers were telling her that. He wondered if they were rubbing her shoulders, right above her wings, in the way she liked.

“I do not know if she is lucky to have me, but it is kind of you to say, Lady. Unfortunately, she was sold to Dena Nehele, so I don’t know even know where she is right now, but I think it would be good for her to meet other Queens. Hopefully she is doing that.” The smile left his lips, a burning desire to see her leaving him breathless. It took visible effort for the Prince to bury it down deep.

His eyes turned to the garden the Queen has been working in. “I came here to find some Pruulian plants to press on my journal for her. So she might know what it was like here.” If they ever say each other again. Cassius has not decided what he should do when it came to his Queen. Would she even want to see him? Elenor had said him being there might stall her healing. The Prince took a deep breathe. When had he really ever truly helped her anyway? Maybe there was a reason Mother Night separates them.
Little Terreille / Re: Leave my Sunglasses on While I Shed a Tear
« Last post by Amerys Tiernan on Nov 13, 18, 04:25:13 AM »
193, Summer: the Lower Garden balcony, the Territory Court
This thread follows Sort it Out, Cupid Carries a Gun, Like Thunder, Going to Shake Your Ground and Respect Between Peers. It is also part of the story arc that includes It’s Never the Right Time, and I’ll Put my Armor on Show You How Strong I am, and Unstoppable Today.

“I see.” Amerys finally said, and leaned over to give Roland a hug.

“Thank you for agreeing to speak of personal matters separately from Territory matters. Because you told me that you aren’t sure how to serve, I will tell you that it would have really made me feel safe and Cherished if you could have spoken of your willingness to separate the two in a way that acknowledged my earlier requests.” She gave him another hug, and pulled away enough to watch see him clearly.

“I apologize that you feel that I was telling you how you feel. I can say, I was telling you how I felt.”

“Thank you, for telling me you aren’t sure how to be close to me without sex. It helps me understand you and how you feel. I deeply apologize for having assumed you were comfortable with sex as one thing, and intimacy as another.”

“That you didn’t know how any of what you said might feel like an attack on me, is an important key to why I cannot risk either sex or a romantic entanglement with you. It is one thing, if you knew what you said would feel like an attack, but had to say it anyway. Sometimes it is necessary to say such things, and accept the damage done in order to heal a relationship. But it is a different level of not knowing me that makes you not understand how I might feel that way at all. Does that make sense to you?” She needed him to understand, and searched his face and his Bond for any clue if he had.

“Roland, you can say no to me, and still serve. Especially when I ask you a question, if you don’t want to answer it, please say so. Just say how you feel; as an example, ‘I am not willing to discuss this,’ or ‘Nope, I’m keeping this for me,’ or even ‘Not yet; I’m not ready.’ Those all work for me. They are being true to both of us.”

Pain drifted through the sorrow drifted through the aching grief.

“Please, Roland. I need you to stop throwing old hurts at me. You know what I meant, all those years ago. Yet you have never acknowledged to me that you misinterpreted. And you still throw my poor phrasing at me, every time we argue about anything. Without ever taking responsibility for how you behaved, and for what you thought of me. Do you think your absolute conviction that I saw you that way isn’t a knife in my heart?” she shook her head, and forced herself to a sit up straight once more, rather than leaning away. There was no place to hide, from a Queen’s bond. It was; and it was the most eternal and powerful thing Mother Night ever created.

“I’m so very sorry, but this is another reason we cannot be romantically involved. A lover hurts you more often, and more deeply than anyone else. I can’t hand you that kind of weaponry, when you never seem to heal from old wounds. If I knew how to move you past that event, help you address the feelings and self-talk that tears you apart, I would. But I don’t how. Every time I think we’ve healed it, the wound open again.” she shrugged.

“This has all been so very difficult for you, Roland. On so many levels. A Queen’s Bond isn’t like any other relationship. It’s as inevitable as blood ties, as complicated as family life, as intensive as any love affair. Yet this powerful thing is thrown at two complete strangers. Worse still, every single Bond is utterly unique between the two so tied together.” she let the hand resting on his arm squeeze him reassuringly.

“We are in each other’s souls, Roland. Forever. It is closer, richer, and more real than sex or even family. We will never fit into any neat category; we can’t. We are a unique tapestry, carefully woven together, like the warp and weft of a loom.”

“You won’t lose yourself in service to me, Roland. You’ll find yourself. And there is no way to protect me, if you can’t serve. Protect. Cherish. Obey. The Three Laws embody service. A Blood male is made to serve, especially Princes and Warlord Princes. Even as a Queen is crafted to rule, so you have all the tools and strength you need to serve already within you. Peace and a sense of wholeness won’t come from sex, not with me or anyone else. You’ll find it, by learning how to serve.”
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