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Canon: © Anne Bishop
Board's Plot: Blood Rites
Points Scheme: Mother Night
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Recent Posts

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21
He hoped, somewhere deep down, that she’d ask him to stay. He did not expect friendship. He did not expect kindness, not from an Eyrien. Not truly. But a simple conversation on what it mean to be hers would have given him insight into the Queen before him. Was she a just woman? Did she want to oppress the Rihlanders? Did she hate his father for being a half-breed? Questions filled his mind and threatened to leap from his mouth unbidden. He’d never wanted to talk to someone as badly as he wanted to talk to the Queen before him. Was her hair as soft as it looked?

Was her scent as strong up close as it had been in the foyer?

He needed to explain what it meant to be his? He would make no claim to her secrets or anything else she deemed personal, though he would accept what she gave. They could navigate this. They could find a way to coexist and live through the next thousand years in, if not harmony, then civility. He had few friends and fewer people still that he trusted enough to confide in. Perhaps it would be nice to have a Queen.

But he saw it, then, the wave of disbelief and disgust in her mien as she looked at him, those feelings crawling along the bond between them. It quickly gave way to an expression and sentiment that he’d seen a thousand times before. From Rihlanders, from Glacians, and even from the Eyriens who tormented him until they realized what he was really capable of.

Fear.

She was afraid of him. Of him!. She, who Mother Night granted his leash, was afraid of him.

She shielded herself and put her back to the wall. Odinar stepped forward, instinctively, holding up a hand to calm her. Seconds. He just needed seconds to draw close enough to speak to her, show her the truth. He wasn’t here to hurt her. He was just here for the information his father asked for. He could take it and leave, come back another day, and speak to her in a less formal setting.

I am not here to harm you, Lady Aethelas. You've nothing to fear from--

GUARDS!

Everything went to hell.

The door guards rushed in, weapons ready, to defend their Queen. To defend his Queen. Odinar’s shield wrapped around her first, and a second shielded him. Father would counsel him to remain calm. Father would not have to worry about these ants stinging his hands and feet. He would simply flex his power and they would realize that trifling with the Black meant death. These men were not so fortunate.

Odinar was not his father.

Stand down! She is not in danger!” he growled.

Step away from her, Half-Breed! Last warning!” Prince Merenar roared, even as the other guard moved to flank him. The blatant disrespect mowed down any respect he might have had for these idiots protecting their Queen. The room was too small. The walls were closing in. Her scent was trapped in his mind and all he wanted to do was take her and fly her away from here until he could get a handle on the situation. He didn’t move. Didn’t blink. He waited for Yserian to come to her senses and call them off. She would tell them it was a misunderstanding. That it wasn’t Odinar’s fault. They could still get through this.

She said nothing.

The Eyriens attacked him as they always had. As they always would.

Palimar’s spear smashed through his shield. A deft sidestep was the only thing that kept Odinar from being skewered and held in place for the deathblow. Even still, the spear’s head lacerated his ribs and drew a snarl from the Warlord Prince. Merenar’s sword streaked downward in a vicious slash that would have opened up his skull. Odinar constructed another shield around his right forearm, getting it up and over his head as the blade came down hard.

The shield took most of the impact and shattered again, but the blade itself lodged in Odinar’s forearm.

The floor froze solid. Ice blanketed the walls.

He could not protect his Queen if he was dead.

He shoved away the spear, but didn’t bother watching Palimar fall off balance. He’d be standing again shortly. Odinar’s right arm shoved away Merenar’s blade and he stepped into the other male’s space, grasping him by the throat. Odinar sank down to the level of the Green, suffusing his limbs with power.

He drew back and punched Merenar twice in quick succession, so hard that his shield flicked and then shattered. He tried to construct another, but Odinar’s left hand was around his throat before it fully sealed.

Burn.

Witchflame consumed the man like a Rihlander effigy. He screamed in agony as Odinar dropped his corpse. There were more guards coming. He needed room to fight.

He whirled on Palimar, who was only now gaining his footing. Odinar lunged and crashed into him with the force of a raging bear. He drove him backward, back to the wall and then through it to the outside beyond.

He was on top of Palimar, raining down a flurry of blows that cracked shields, then the man’s nose, then his orbital bone, then his teeth. It was all Palimar could do to get his hands in front of his face to ward off the worst of Odinar’s strikes. But then the Warlord Prince rose, grasping the male by his neck.

He spun and flung him back toward the palace, up and away. Palimar smashed through the wall and into Yserian’s bedroom, cracking the pillars of her large, ornate bed, and rolled off the edge to land on the floor of the bedroom with a heavy thud. The blood on the sheets would ruin them.

Odinar had no way of knowing that he’d just destroyed part of his Queen’s bedroom or the bed she loved so much. The guards were mustering in the office. Odinar could hear them checking on her, putting themselves between him and her. He drew his blade, wings flapping in irritation. If they came to him, they would die. His Queen would not speak for him. Eyriens only understood one language.

Odinar spoke it fluently.
22
Dena Nehele / something not worth dying over
« Last post by Gwenael Derouen on Today at 10:34:13 AM »
Arkadie’s erstwhile first escort was due at court today, and Gwen had made himself scarce in hopes of avoiding any awkwardness. He spent the morning in his study, catching up on financial reports while Lucie played on the rug in front of him - a visitor had gifted her a set of architectural building blocks, columns and wedges and archways, and she was delighted by her ability to build towers taller than herself with them.

It was nearly noon now, and Gwen was beginning to wonder how things were progressing, though he didn’t want to interrupt Arkadie if she was in the midst of something serious - or not serious. The man was still her betrothed, even if he was not her first escort.

Some ten more minutes passed, and then the door to his office opened and Arkadie entered. She dropped dramatically onto the carpet and laid there, face down, as Gwen’s eyebrows crept ever-higher up his forehead.

Lucie stepped up to her and gave her a poke. “‘Kadie,” she said. “‘Kadie. Are you dead?”

Arkadie said something muffled by the carpet. Lucie was satisfied by this answer. She sat down and began to play with Arkadie’s hair.

Gwen allowed this to go on for a while on account of it being cute, only interrupting when it became clear that Lucie was experimenting with knot-tying techniques. He put the report he’d been reading aside and joined his Queen and his daughter on the floor.

“That bad, hmm?” he asked.

Perhaps, in addition to being Arkadie’s erstwhile first escort, Phoebus Aegle was now also her erstwhile fiance?
23
Whatever response her servant gave her was forgotten the moment Odinar Elbremov stepped into her office. She was certain that she had given him permission to enter but she couldn’t remember doing so, not after he stepped in and stared at her with those dark eyes, his dark wings folded back politely like his hands, but every line in his body was fixated. Yserian felt her stomach drop, then rise in a sickening wave that nearly had her gagging to maintain control, as she remembered both everything she knew about the man in front of her, as well as struggled to comprehend what she was suddenly learning about him now that he was here.

The Red Jeweled son of Kalvar Elbremov.

The Master of the Guard for the Territory Court.

The half-Eyrien, half-Tacean half breed everything Warlord Prince. 

But it was the final title, that final damning piece of information, the one that whispered somewhere deep in her heart, that was the most terrifying of all.

Mine.

Odinar Elbremov was her male, bound by the Darkness to serve, chained to her will as a Queen.

No.

NO!

A Queen more familiar with this scenario would have handled it with far more grace, even if the man in front of her was the son of her enemy. Hell, any Queen might have handled it better than Yserian was about to. It wasn’t like she hadn’t Bonded to a male before, in the centuries that she had been alive, but they had been Eyrien like her and…and…

They hadn’t been the enemy.

In her rising panic over this inevitable, irrevocable pairing, Yserian, being both fearful that her fledgling ties to the Eyrien Rebellion would be discovered right then, as well as how she would handle a man like Odinar, did the absolute wrong thing.

She instinctively Shielded herself with her Purple Dusk, holding out both hands as if to ward off Odinar as she tried to back away from her desk.

And she shouted, “GUARDS!”

And the shitshow began.

The Eyrien males that had been standing guard outside of the door behind Odinar charged into the room, weapons drawn, Shields up, ready to fight even the Red Jeweled Warlord Prince for daring to somehow threaten their Queen. It was like they had been itching for it ever since he had walked in, though Yserian was unaware of that. Palimar, the Warlord Prince on the left, wore the Blood Opal, but Merenar, the Prince on the right, only wore the Summer Sky. Still, they moved in tandem to attack, one flanking, one charging.

They would be the first wave. Yserian’s shout would undoubtedly draw others. 
24
Dhemlan / Re: Let Me See a Wandering Star
« Last post by Estrellien Gualtierrez on Today at 07:55:47 AM »
Taint the Queen, gain the masses.

Except she wasn't sure if anyone could dare think the Cathedra could go through with such an idea without understanding just how they as a group were fucking stomping on Dhemlan being whole and happy. It was one thing to hate a single woman, Estrellien mused, or an idea of many, but to remove Queens? It was a thought she couldn't imagine possible, even as Raziel spoke the words. She did, however, tuck his words away to consider and examine at a later date, because she understood in some manner that he was speaking from experience, and then she was rewarded as he explained himself.

A smile bloomed upon her face, hesitant and filled with all the echoes of trauma that she'd survived at the knowledge that he would have saved her, and still would take revenge for her, if it was something she wanted. It was a look upon Raziel she was familiar with, but she had seldom seen it in defence of her. The Priestess Queen's golden eyes widened in pleasant and proud surprise. "I would let you do this thing, if not for the fact that there are horrible acts I have done that probably ... wouldn't make it fair. Easily half the people that once disregarded, degraded, and attacked me as a young woman do not even remember what they did. It was passing cruelty, even while every cut changed my life. Better that I forgive it, and move on while seeking to heal what injustice I can which ... is why I rule as I do. It is why there are times I am willing to parley with a pirate or two because ... there's a chance they were forced into their way of life, but truly vile souls deserve no mercy at all." She dipped her head in acknowledgement of his words and a deep appreciation; only at that moment did her eyes shimmer with faint tears and a whisper of healing found from a person that gave a damn, even a little.

"Your mother endured terrible pain and it changed her; while worse than that the corruption in Dhemlan makes not even the smallest grief easy. Some people, like you, can keep serving despite being beaten down with one metaphorical hand while the other lifts you with a dichotomy. Both 'hands' belong to the same place either in one way, or another. I acknowledged some time ago but never said directly, that maybe, if I had been brave enough to approach her and ask to be taught, that I could have eased her pain and even what there was your father possessed, rather than going the dishonourable route. I could feel it when you thought me weak, and frail for a moment last night, but not for the right reason. Only a weak person, with frail constitution and a true lack of self-love, could steal from people that did not deserve it. It is one of those horrific mistakes ... that I have learned from. Dhemlanese corruption cannot fool me anymore, even if I continue to play the game so I don't end up dead." Estrellien brushed her hands through her hair, smoothing it carefully.

"For all their flaws, your family did not deserve to be tricked into death, Prince Cavallero, because that's what it was after a fashion. No one does. We all deserve the right to face death head-on and directly with a fair attempt to defend our right to survive. While I might have been unable to fight people for beating me down, it was me that chose to respond with the weakness that they named me to have been born with, when we are born with an empty slate of purity. That is what I believe. I think ... that you might have been able to accept it better, as much as we can any loss, had it been the kind of measure that was done in front of their faces. That they knew it was coming. Instead, people that they did not know, stabbed your people in the back because it was easy." She smiled lightly, the expression honest and contrite, holding her eyes upon Raziel in one way or another. There was a peacefulness in her face as she had accepted the truth of her actions some centuries prior but often allowed her pride and stubbornness to get in the way of displaying that truth. Now, Estrellien had no reason to hide her acceptance of herself as best as she could manage it for now, from her Red Jewelled Warlord Prince. Both parts of herself both the caring and the selfishly cruel.

"I must be good at presenting a face like the rest if you managed to fall for it, at least somewhat, but yes. For a time at least, I thought it best to be the very best of all of those that loved being wealthy. The truth is, I've long given away about half of my wealth to various charities that I know are safe. People don't notice what's in front of them if they want to see something else, and your actions made it even easier for me to hide what goodness I had left, the spark of me that I once was. So there you have it. I love you for your honesty, even if hating me isn't entirely possible for you anymore, there isn't a question that I did much to earn it, at one time."

A deep breath followed her words. "Raziel ...you killed my people due to the suddenness of a broken heart and because we had all stomped on the sharp hair-trigger that you are as a Warlord Prince, even if you do choose to hide some of that behind a patient veneer so that the few innocent and common people that are in the world don't fear you. It was a choice to bait you and a stupid one. People that don't think when they deal with Warlord Princes do deserve to die because it is what they are begging for." A thoughtful expression eased over her face joining the peaceful melancholia, and the layers of warm tenderness. No single emotion outpaced the other ones.

"As I believe, they should return to the Darkness and just maybe, Mother Night might remould them into something new and let them try again someday not to behave like fools. I love you for your intelligence, and quick wit. I love you, for sparing my life when you did not have to. I love you, for choosing to accept the Bond between us, and for not letting it snap when I would have deserved it. All of those things honestly have nothing to do with us being Bonded, and everything to do with you as a person. I love you for every moment you try to be gentle despite feeling desperate and nearly constant ... I'll call it spiritual hate, or spiritual depression. Some people do not try at all, despite having no difficulties." While she had no idea if that answered Raziel's questions fully, at this point she was watching him as he moved closer to her, pulse racing. She understood a little more why he did not just want her Craft to repair him, perhaps, because Estrellien didn't think Raziel realized he could be whole without that hate in his center. After all, it had been part of his life longer even than they'd known each other, she considered when recalling then that he'd been married before. Moreover, it was plain enough that he just wanted to be seen and loved. Her emotions suddenly gave an outrageous flip, and rather than ignoring the impulse she moved and met him partway - or tried.

The carriage had a sudden bit of a sharp rocking and threw Estrellien from the seat where she landed upon the floor of the conveyance. Her boot heel caught in her long coat and ripped it at the shoulder seam and down the front. She snorted and eased the coat off, draping it over her lap while running her hands over the layers ... then out popped a small sewing kit. "Should have used Craft to hold steady there. You have a dangerous face. It makes my mind choose not to work the way it should," the Priestess Queen commented with a wry smile. This time, she steadied her work, and herself with Craft before readying a need and a matching set of threads in triplicate that she twined together tightly only using her hands before neatly threading her needle and setting into the stitching as primly as any seamstress or triage surgeon. Each stitch was beautifully tight, and she started working from the inside-underside of the garment so that from the front, her sewing would appear an elegant and professional section of cloth. Depending on where Raziel had ended up when she took her tumble, she'd ease closer to him then.
25
Dena Nehele / Re: Greetings To A Mothering Queen
« Last post by Suleiman Basarab-Musatin on Today at 05:12:58 AM »
As Dragos allowed Suleiman to enter, he was almost immediately surrounded by a Queen that smelled of motherhood and the moment shattered him from the inside out. Rage rose up in his throat and mind and threatened to spill over for absolutely no reason than he could even tell, and that was before the Queen of Dena Nehele grabbed his hand. But also he felt deep, immense gratitude for her reaction to his flowers. The two intense emotions threatened to snap the Sapphire Warlord Prince in half with terror. The absolute last thing he wanted was to hurt the Lady Vlas. She was a Lady that had survived pregnancy and came through the other end of it whole, happy and bright.

His face paled from strain as he very nearly dropped the stunning crystal vase; Sapphire Craft kept the several days' creation floating half in his hand; he hated the way his Jewels did not hold up well to Telekinesis. It was then that he heard the Opal Queen tell him to put the flowers on the table as well as Dragos' request to handle the item himself. After a brief panic, but also a soothing moment in which he reminded himself that his younger cousin was blessed to be deeper in the Abyss than he was, he nodded.

First, Suleiman let the flowers rest for about ten seconds on the table with Craft rather than setting them down with his hands. Then, he lifted the vase and sent it carefully moving toward Dragos' hands, all to ease that sharpness in the other man's voice. Cousin or not, he was well aware that it was possible that the Prince might need to punch him to snap free the rage, while part of Suleiman was excited by this prospect, and part of him utterly dreaded it. He didn't want to fight family. That was the worst but also the best possible outcome at the same time. He could feel his Opal drain at an alarming rate to be able to pull off such a fair, and hopefully calming measure. Suleiman was trying to acknowledge the authority of the Queen while also bending to the wishes of her First Escort at precisely the amount of time needed to avoid anyone's feelings being bruised.

It made him shiver, but he gripped Rilandra's hand back as if she too, were someone that he'd known well. It wasn't entirely unfamiliar because he'd grown up in Dene Nehele, even if he had spent several decades in Hayll. So, he was able to switch to something slightly less formal, even if it wasn't her name and address. He wasn't hers! She wasn't his. It felt so rude to deny a ruling Territory Queen her rightfully earned honourifics especially considering what the Lady Vlas had gone through to become Queen in the first place. As he took Dragos' hand and a few seconds passed where both his hands were effectively 'disarmed' so that he'd have to specifically harm two people that mattered emotionally and physically if he lashed out, reasonable sense kicked in and the rage gave a sudden snap as it dissipated completely from the room.

"Forgive me." His smile was tight and contrite. "I am more than glad that you like the flowers, and I can teach you. As a Queen, the manner of it will probably come far more naturally to you. It was a Hayllian Queen that taught me how to give a woman a floral gift and not present myself as some kind of beast in the process and hurt her feelings with cut flowers, as she put it," his tone was dryly amused, as he knew it was likely lots of men had this same issue. Learning how to put together such a gift had made it easier courting his Healer wife.

He was as such, able to smile even as tears grew in his golden eyes. "Ah. The flowers took a few days. It wasn't much. The smallest I could do. A Queen could do it in hours." Suleiman said in a soft, almost deceptively quiet and tender voice. "It's good to see you, Drake ... that's what you prefer, isn't it? Grew up tall, much like I figured." Suleiman's heels still didn't quite bring him to match Dragos' height but he didn't seem to be bothered by this fact at all, well confident and accustomed with his shape not to be troubled by someone else, and more importantly, very proud of someone he could call family. He hadn't had the chance to compliment him the last time they were able to speak, so Suleiman did now.

"And ... Lady Rilandra. I am not upset with you, please forgive me. Your scent just reminds me of my late wife, she was a Healer. I ... wrote to Prince Dragos--Drake, about the difficulty very briefly. My wife did not survive the difficulties of childbirth a pair of decades ago even if the time does not feel as though that much has passed ... and nor did my daughter, born a Queen. I did not bond her, but she was still my little girl, you know. It ... eases me, every time I meet another woman that has survived but upsets me because I am being blocked by Hayllian kin to bring their remains home. We had planned to come to live here, after ... the birth. But nothing went to plan, but I am trying to accept that such is life."

He rolled his shoulders, and only once Drake seemed ready for it, smoothly released the other man's hand with one more fond squeeze beforehand. He offered a low bow over the Queen's hand that was restrained and not too much of a formal flourish because he remembered she didn't like those. Suleiman offered a greeting that was a careful, kindly in-between. Drake, even though he was family, received a similar bow worth his Jewels, Caste, and standing in the Court. He saw a killer and a very intelligent one in his cousin that didn't want others to entirely see him. Suleiman was sure he wouldn't have noticed if not for his hair-trigger tendencies, and more, revealed nothing in his gaze except for his smile, which was fierce and appreciative. He could likely keep Rilandra safe because of it which was what allowed Suleiman to relax very slightly.

The Sapphire Warlord Prince was content with Drake putting the flowers on the table if that was where he wanted them to go for his Queen's enjoyment. "Family politics in Hayll are like Court business here, and I haven't forgotten that you struggle with people that put on too many of those Aristo false airs, my Lady. If I could kill the one responsible for taking my ladies from me, I would, which is where my deep anger comes from, and nothing you have done." He let her keep holding his hand as a way to show he meant the words.

"You must be missing your little boy every second," then, watching carefully to see whether or not the Queen wanted to still hold his hand, and only once he had that indication, he playfully swung them both, while casually keeping his eyes on Drake for slightly more than half the time he spoke. Suleiman was the type that if he could ensure that everyone was calm and happy, he'd attend to that even if it meant admitting a difficulty, but also attempted to ensure that Rilandra would hopefully be less annoyed with Dragos trying to protect her. "Just as much as he misses his mother, I'm sure." That he could talk about a child at all without falling to pieces or blasting a hole in the wall startled Suleiman but he went with it.

"I talked with Prince Mercer about why I wanted to see you, my Lady, but asked that he keep the news to himself until I could emotionally process the idea, so please don't growl at him." Suleiman tapped his left foot, then the right, moving in the heels he wore with flawlessness that came from long use. "May we sit, if it pleases the Queen and her First Escort?" His eyes danced with humour as he was well aware his question held formality that might make the pair roll their eyes so far that just the eyes would leave the territory on a vacation, if possible.
26
Father had directed him to go to Altai District and collect the information needed from Lady Aethelas, so Odinar had left with all due haste. He had no wish to go to the Court of an Eyrien Queen, but his father’s directives were his laws. He’d left early in the day, hoping to finish the task and return without incident. Odinar liked few of Rihland’s Queens, but he had no opinion about Yserian Aethelas that wasn’t already formed by his personal views. She was an Eyrien Queen and likely had Eyrien males in her service.

He did not want to kill anyone today, but if they crossed him, he would make them sorry for it.

When he arrived at the Landing Pad, he looked over the general area. It was certainly warmer than Avorla and had fewer Glacians. The Rihlanders who saw him watched with apprehension as he stepped down and made his way to the palace. He wore simple black breeches and a long shirt that had been tailored to accommodate his wings. It was too much effort for something he didn’t need, but he represented the Territory Court here. He did not care one bit for the Eyriens who glared at him, but he had to make the attempt. There was every chance that he could get what he needed and leave without incident if he exercised restraint.

Restraint.

Today it would be hell. He felt it.

The Rihlander servant who greeted him kept his composure, but Odinar could smell his fear. The male said he would alert Lady Aethalas, earning a simple “Do that.” from the Red Warlord Prince. Odinar barely paid the male any mind once he was gone, his attention too engrossed in the alluring scent that had assaulted his nostrils the moment he entered the building. It was strongest down the hall that the Rihlander had taken, but Odinar forced himself to remain to wait.

When the Rihlander returned a minute later, Odinar’s patience had frayed. He needed to track down that scent and inhale it until it filled his senses. The Rihlander bade him to follow and Odinar did so, right down the hallway where the scent was strongest. The carpet here was soft beneath his boots and the walls were mostly bare, save for paintings on one wall or another that didn’t interest him. They made a right turn, followed by a left turn, and then they walked to the double doors at the end of the long hall. Two Eyrien guards stood on guard. They both glared when they noticed him, but averted their eyes quickly enough to keep Odinar from tearing them out and rolling them across the Queen’s desk with an admonishment to keep her people in line.

The servant suggested that Lady Aethalas office was here and insisted on announcing him. He placed his hands behind his back and waited to be admitted, refusing to look at the two idiots before him. When the servant beckoned him in, Odinar entered the office without another word and located the source of the scent he was looking for.

The word as Odinar knew it collapsed in on itself, shifting and threatening to throw him away. But in its place, a new world formed beneath his feet, centered upon her. She was gravity. She was sunlight and life, air and darkness, the earth and sky all at once. He’d found her--her!--in the last place he’d ever thought to look and something in his heart dislodged and broke open even as something else took root.

How could Mother Night do this to me?

She’d given him an Eyrien Queen.

An Eyrien Queen.

Three full minutes had passed since he entered the office. He hadn’t spoken. He hadn’t greeted her.

He stepped forward and offered Lady Aethelas the respect due her station. He said the right words, but he couldn’t bring himself to say more than those words. To say more would arm her with the very weapons she needed to destroy him and his family.

Thank you, Lady Aethelas, for seeing me on such short notice. I’ve come for the list of names requested by Prince Elbremov. Once I have those, I will depart.” Odinar said.

He just needed to get the names and he could go. She likely wanted to get on with her day as well.
27
Dena Nehele / Re: the rumors about us are...
« Last post by Mercianna Arcos on Today at 12:09:00 AM »
Tybalt Kem wasn’t a stupid man. Mercianna wasn’t sure if she expected him to be, but knowing that the Prince wasn’t an easy mark earned him a larger share of her respect. Any man who could put together an establishment like this, where the haves and the have-nots rubbed shoulders couldn’t be stupid. She didn’t want to go into the dark and dirty details of her business because it would, in fact, turn off a few people to doing business with her. Nicolae had known that and had stolen her ledgers to damage her business.

She should have sent him to Terminus when she had the chance.

Believe me, I don’t want to involve the Guilds any further than I must. It’s cost me a measure of pride to even bring this matter to you. I pride myself on finding my own solutions to problems. But if I hadn’t come here tonight, I wouldn’t have been able to see your fine establishment.” she said, smiling.

She listened while the Prince explained what was necessary. Two teams, one for theft and one for actually teaching Lord Milescu a lesson. Mercianna knew that this would cost her a good amount of money, but she couldn’t afford to make this loud and messy. She knew what Charles would suggest. She knew how he would handle it. Maybe she’d let him help when they had to confront the Prince Cristescu in Livada.

She flashed her warmest smile at Prince Kem. “Very well. A standard contract. What are your terms and when can you start?” she asked.
28
Dena Nehele / Re: This one thinks I'm a slaughterhouse
« Last post by Maseo no Shingetsu on Today at 12:07:36 AM »
Lady Tailor bore his scrutiny well. Masoe wondered idly what other attention she might enjoy, but put the thought aside for later contemplation. She had legitimate questions about the aid he was offering and his intentions toward Hunedoara. How he must have looked, a foreigner with deep pockets walking in to offer her the answers to her prayers. He’d done the same for Rilandra Vlas, bringing her (at the time) the darkest jeweled Healer she had in the Territory. Maseo had learned quite a bit since his arrival in Dena Nehele.

This time, he wouldn’t let the Healer slip through his fingers.

You’re right. There was a central trade hub and it was destroyed. But when I researched that place, I learned that it was positioned much further away from the mountain than Hunedoara. There was no reason for trade to go through there with Odobesti nearby.” Maseo said, watching her closely. She was suspicious of him. He welcomed it. It would give him the chance to prove her wrong.

A new trade hub wasn’t necessary when Askavi kept to itself, but now they’re trying to gain allies and redefine themselves to the realm. Hunedoara is known to them. I’m sure that the Eyriens can be convinced to bring their trade through Hunedoara. Improvements to the infrastructure would entice businesses into the area.” he said.

But it's as you said, your people need to feed their families. I believe that I can assist in obtaining grain for your people at a fair price through an ally of mine. It will not replace all of what you lost but every bit is helpful, is it not?” he asked rhetorically.

He sipped his coffee for a moment, letting the silence hang as she processed the truth in his words. He wasn’t lying about his ability to help. His words rang of truth. He did not care for coffee, but this was a good blend. Raejean coffee was the best he’d had, but this was good as well.

We help people get through the winter here and then in the spring we begin with new crops and a Gifting that will ensure a good harvest. As it stands, the Territory Court may be able to assist with that as well.” Maseo said.

What about skilled tradesmen? Did Hunedoara lose many during the Decimation? What about in the aftermath of the attack?” he asked.
29
Dena Nehele / Re: been infected by a social disease
« Last post by Artemisia Xenopol on Today at 12:03:08 AM »
Artemisia nodded quietly and handed over the teapot, allowing Lady Vasile to finish up. That was different - playing at subservience usually went over well, but then, most people weren’t Artemisia’s bonded. She could claim to rule over very little - her bedroom, her books. Minerva liked to peddle her oddness, a queen who served.  But perhaps she ought to add her bonded to her earlier list…?

Something still seemed a bit odd, although she couldn’t quite place it. If one was trying to win power and influence, no doubt there were better places to spend coin than on a few hours of Artemisia’s company. She felt almost bad for Lady Vasile - did she expect this meeting to open doors with Minerva? Because it almost certainly would not. “Are you based in Caecian, then…” Artemisia began, and then trailed off, eyes going to the empty earrings the woman wore.

It had not escaped her notice that Lady Vasile wore but a single Jewel, though Artemisia had been trying to be polite. It wasn’t hugely uncommon in Dena Nehele, at least not of late. “Did it happen in the Decimation?” she asked, and then pressed a hand over her painted lips.

“I’m sorry, that was terribly rude of me,” Artie squeaked.

"No," said Kat after a quiet consideration, "but the Decimation contributed to it, left my Sapphire a shadow until it wasn't even that."

Whatever that meant. Artemisia nodded awkwardly and picked up her teacup, grateful that the subject turned towards caste training instead. How lucky that Lady Vasile had also trained into the caste! “My teacher came by it naturally,” she said. “And I’m not far enough into my training to know if I have the knack for it or not.  Mostly I’ve just spent two months building frames. When does the real craftwork kick in?”
30
Dena Nehele / Re: been infected by a social disease
« Last post by Yekaterina Vasile on Nov 11, 19, 11:36:43 PM »
"Mm, yes, though any Black Widow that says their insight--the visions, premonitions--don't come at a cost, sometimes a high one, are ..." Kat's nose wrinkled up. "Well, something not bright. There's a cost for everything and the sooner that's realized--" She paused, head tilted slightly. "That is also a life lesson, I suppose. One best learned quick in this land we call home."

Artie's laughter brought a quick smile to Kat's face, something less shy and more genuine. "Perhaps quality over quantity then?" Then she considered. "Or perhaps they're just out there and haven't realized you're here." It was an attempt at comfort, though whether it fell flat or not, Yekaterina would still say it. Part of her was thrown off by meeting her Queen and the rest of her was whispering that this was good.

Perhaps she might be able to help, might be able to-- Yekaterina was getting ahead of herself. She blinked and focused on what the Queen said. Following to the area prepared, Kat watched perplexed for a moment before she shook her head. "No, no. None of that." Reaching out with her hands, rough in a way that someone might know was more than just being a Black Widow, she caught Artemisia.

"Sit with me and I will serve, hm?" A beat. "Indulge me, if you will?" It bothered her too much to just ... Perhaps if Artie wasn't her Queen then she could have enjoyed the sight of being served by someone of such a high Caste.

"There's not much to say about me," said Kat. "Just another commoner trying to build up enough coin and a reputation to solidify a place for myself among the aristocracy." Kat was known for investing and for helping people find backing as well. She'd done well for herself, though it did mean she traveled quite a lot. "I've been taking it a bit easy since ..." Her hand raised to rest against the simple earrings she wore. Once they had held  chips of her Sapphire and now they did no such thing.

"I don't work with the Coven," she added. "I trained too, you know." Kat's voice was softer as she poured tea for them both. "I wasn't born a Black Widow." Her head tilted to study Artemisia. "Don't think I was much older than you when I began training."
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