Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Belle
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Belle searching for my Beast

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Amalia Solair

Bride of Wilhelm (@Saltwater Thief) and sister bride of Onyx (@Vesuvius00)


She saw red. Thick red blood soaking the ground. She saw the life leave her attacker’s eyes, draining into nothingness. Amalia’s eyes were large, her body shaking but not from cold.
She was in shock.

Others might have called her weak, but she had never experienced such things before. Watching the life leave someone... watching them die... seeing their life blood soaking the ground...
She trembled uncontrollably, staring sightlessly at the dead man before her.

A voice spoke to her. Her sister-bride Onyx. But she could barely understand the words. It took great effort to reply.

“On-nyx,” she stammered, reaching for her when the sound of metal severing flesh was heard again. Amalia put her hands over her ears, not wanting to hear any more of the horrid sounds of death. She closed her eyes, willing it all to go away, to not be real.

Wilhelm’s voice cut through like ice. Her gaze, wide-eyed, went to him. He asked about riding. Riding?
“I was... I was never al-lowed,” Amalia answered in a small voice.


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Hidden 12 mos ago Post by eclecticwitch
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eclecticwitch The Effervescent

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Sister Bride of Aubree @Ellion and Bride of Kagan @ghastlyInc
Interacting with Bree, Twenty, and the Guard


She followed dutifully, as was expected of her. The pups with them. Bree beside her. She was beginning to feel like a servant which she did not enjoy. Adora had either been the master of her own fate or the master of other’s. To be standing here at the whim of another person annoyed her. Perhaps the reality of her situation was beginning to hit her. She was letting herself feel again, letting herself begin to build the blocks of her life here. None the less, she quickened her pace behind the long-legged lords. Then, abruptly, expected to stay put which made her grind her teeth.

The doors opened, and the smell of death wafted out. They tried to hide it. The thickness and sickly smell of the incense told her as much. But there was no mistaking the smell of a body that was rotting away. She could remember times when she had visited families who had tried their best to prolong the life of an elder who was ready to leave this plane and return to Vivari. In those times when she had smelled the death upon entering the home and seeing the bodies ready to fall apart with bed sores, she had felt the family’s pain. And when she told them it was long past time to let their family member go it hurt her just as much to see it in their faces.

As the doors shut, she shuddered. Perhaps she could have been of help. Perhaps there was something she could do. But for the smell of rot to overpower the roll of the incense smoke… the being in that room was being treated more than unfairly. At least, that was what she could only assume. Perhaps there was more than one slowly dying body in there. She turned her gaze and her thoughts to the people around her. Bree, staunch and stalwart. Twen, grumpy and composed. The guard, he kept glancing toward Twenty and his eyes would then find a new hold on a torch or corner of the ceiling. Adora smirked.

Her amusement did not last long as Twenty breathed a curse. As she doubled forward and the guard helped her, training and knowledge took over her mind as his own left his. “Come, little sister,” she crooned softly, holding one of the woman’s arms at the elbow. “Sit, please.” She helped the woman kindly to rest on the floor. Better than standing. “Tell me, Twen, are you painful?” As she waited for a response she looked up at the hesitant and fretful guard. “Well, do something. Grab a cup of water.” She used the voice reserved for getting anxious men out of the room during birthing. It was a strong, commanding voice that left little doubt she knew what it was she did. A man who had no job in the room was useless and a distraction. “Or ask a friend.” He was supposed to be guarding Twenty after all.

As she kneeled beside Twen she placed her hand against the woman’s stomach. As she did so, Adora began to understand and giggled. “Oh, darling love,” she said in a calm, kind, and unjudgmental voice. It was one she used for the first time fretting mothers. “Your bairn is merely moving. Do not fear. You will feel this much more in the future.” She pulled the woman’s hands up and kissed the knuckles in a fervent and joyous way.

It was not much longer before Kagan and Ehkota left the room. She stayed knelt beside Twenty and as the looks of concern came forward she smiled. “The babe merely moved. A good, strong sign,” she told both of them before standing. She looked around and saw her sister was no longer there. “Where is Bree?” she asked in a deadly quiet tone. She had barely looked away. Where could that girl have gotten to?



Hidden 12 mos ago Post by SilverPaw
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SilverPaw

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Ineraz Evrenarth
Husband of: Sera @Pupperr and Zeldria @Saltwater Thief
Interacting with: His brides and Keregar @Legion02

“A good omen indeed,” Ineraz affirmed. “I will go with you,” Ineraz smiled almost sultrily at the Warlord. Not the strangest of herbal mixtures, the most potent of alcohols, the wildest of parties nor the most hallucinogenic of mixtures could possibly compare to the high of a battle, of having won. Recognition however, was perhaps even a sweeter drug. “Oh, you honour me, Warlord,” Ineraz chuckled lightly, despite how even his breathing was starting to strain his back now.

“I will move myself, the brides, and some of my other possessions to your lodgings in Železna Kri in the following days, and when we are ready, we can travel to Kereg-Kor together. And then,” he sighed wistfully, “We shall hunt,” Ineraz smiled wickedly, in anticipation. After a blink or two, long enough to dispel the fantasy of near future fun, Ineraz nodded respectfully at Keregar, merely glancing at the rest of his brood and his other companions, then turned as smoothly as he was able on his heel and walked with a steady precision towards his wagon. He guided or gestured to his brides to follow him, unwilling to show any weakness to Keregar as he walked, though he was really beginning to want a rest given how his damnable back kept screaming at him every second he continued standing.

Despite being exhausted from the injury (more so than from the fight), Ineraz got the wagon ready and his whole group moving in a mere few minutes. He ushered Sera and Zeldria into the wagon, while he split the four hounds into two pairs, a pair with him in the front, and the other with Senn in the back. Ineraz led them to the manor, helped his brides get their goods to their shared bedroom, and dismissed Senn back to his previous duties for the time being. Instead of a Drakkan guard, Ineraz simply had Nor, the large black hound, and Mag, the female grey hound, brought into the manor and took the pair of hounds into his and his Gem’s shared bedchamber, leaving the canines there to guard his girls.

“Eat if you’re hungry. Between the two of you, you can find the kitchens or the great hall easily enough, I’m sure. The hounds are here as a precaution and for your protection. If some imbecile still decides to bother you, I believe in your capabilities to defend yourself. Unfortunately, I shall not be available until this evening or tomorrow morning. When I…return, I will find you to see how you have been doing. As before, you are free to wander the estate. Don’t give my dear hounds too much trouble, though, will you?” he tried going for a light tone, especially with his finishing statement, but his voice was now obviously rougher with the pain he suffered, so his whole delivery was closer to a stiff-sounding order than anything else.

Having no desire to give away much more to the Gems, Ineraz walked proudly but slower than ever before towards his study. Once inside, he locked the door twice. He finally stripped his leather vest, the bloodied shirt underneath, and practically tore away the bandages, uncaring if he damaged himself further. He ignored the pieces of skin that peeled away together with the bandages and the blood that continued seeping from his injured back. Though his father had burned some of his injuries, not all of them were protected from being opened. Ineraz couldn’t quite decide if the cauterization of some or the re-opening of others caused the worse pain. He dropped his vest, shirt, and the bandages to the floor in one bloody heap, then collapsed onto the ratty chaise lounge inside of his office, finally able to relax now that he was away from any prying eyes. He didn’t so much fall asleep as he did slip into unconsciousness.

Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Saltwater Thief
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Saltwater Thief The Wild Card

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Wilhelm the Black Blade

Husband of Onyx (@Vesuvius00) and Amalia (@Belle)
Interacting with Onyx & Amalia


Neither of his brides knew how to ride a horse, it seemed. That would make the trip even slower. But there was no helping it, save to remember to give them proper training when time permitted. With little time that was dwindling fast he took hold of both brides by the arm and impatiently pulled them both toward the two horses. No ceremony was involved as he gruffly lifted one, then the other off their feet with ease and sat them atop the horses. He gave little instruction aside from ordering them to take hold of the reigns and aim to keep from falling off before he drew from his steed's saddlebags a long length of rope. He tied the rope first to his own horse, then linked the other two animals to his own and remounted. With nary a word he set them off down the road in a relatively slow but steady procession.

Thankfully the trip was uneventful. They cleared the marsh with no further difficulties, and from there it was a simple winding road into the mountains of southern Drakka. It was nearing nightfall when the dimly glowing lights of Nachtstone at last came into view, and darkness began to set in as the three horses passed through the mouth of the gorge that contained the settlement. It stretched down a narrow path lined with houses, many of them carved into the rock walls of the mountain. Several Drakken and a few reptilian creatures that could be identified as slaves by the crude iron collars around their necks wandered from their places of rest to see their lord's coming, but at the look of discontent on Wilhelm's face none dared say or try a thing. The pass continued further before opening up into a large circular valley where, jutting out from the mountainside in glistening black stone and metal, stood Wilhelm's estate. It was not overly large, standing only three stories in height with a few towers that went higher, but everything about it seemed foreboding and dangerous.

As Wilhelm and his brides reached the gates, three Drakken approached them from the castle, one larger than the others by far and bereft of any neckwear while his cohorts wore bands of polished steel about their necks. "My lord," this large one said as he bowed deeply, "I am relieving to see you returned. With the lateness of the hour we began to question if something foul had transpired."

"You were right to," Wilhelm responded coldly, "Something did. Matteo attempted to betray me. And you know how I... abhor betrayal, Harkus."

"Indeed my lord," Harkus replied, "I see you remain unharmed as alway."

"Naturally. Have a rider sent to the Nox Marsh at first light; if he follow the road he will find the carriage and a mess of corpses that he is to see burned."

"It will be done my lord. You heard him, did you not?" Harkus asked of one of his companions, who only nodded in reply, "Then prepare your horse to ride this evening." The man hurried to heed the command.

"My brides and I are all weary from the journey," Wilhelm continued, "See to it that they are both washed, fed, and shown to their rooms. How fare the tailors?"

"Smoothly my lord," Harkus replied, "They should be finished with the first array by midday tomorrow."

"And the smiths?"

"Delayed by a servant misplacing the gemstones. He has been dealt with properly, and they say they shall finish by the dawn after next."

"Very well. I wish to wash myself. While I see to that, Eliza is to prepare my chambers and await me there. I trust I have made myself clear?"

"Crystalline," Harkus replied again, "You there, take the brides to the bath at once."

While Amalia and Onyx were taken care of, Wilhelm walked briskly indoors and up to the third level of the castle where his personal chambers lay. He washed himself first, still seething with quiet fury, but soon emerged into his bedroom and placed himself into the capable care and hands he'd personally molded his eldest and presently most prized bride to have for the evening.

When the next day dawned, Wilhelm brought his brides before him to give them a proper introduction to the castle. He explained first that there was a hierarchy denoted by the collars; the iron were worn by slaves, the steel by indentured Drakken, and Wilhelm's trusted secondaries such as Harkus wore none. They would be free to ask what they wished of the slaves at any time, as well as the indentured ones when Wilhelm permitted it, so long as it did not violate his own edicts. Secondly, any doors in Nachstone that were open could be passed through, those that were closed only when he was present, and those that were locked never at all, though they could not see any locks or keyholes in any of the thick, heavy, wooden doors. Lastly, if he bid them do something it was to be done to the best of their ability without question or hesitation. Violations, or attempts to violate these laws would be punished, and though he did not say how several of the servants visibly winced at the word. Lastly, he introduced them to their elder sister bride Eliza, an almost unnaturally beautiful Gem who smiled warmly, but seemed just a little empty inside, as though she'd given up a piece of herself. She was pleasant enough, however, and soon set about talking with and getting to know Amalia and Onyx and answering what questions she could about life at Nachtstone.

Around midday, a pair of indentured Drakken appeared bearing a variety of clothing, and Eliza directed Amalia and Onyx to stand still as she delicately helped them strip down and these Drakken, whom she referred to as the tailors, redressed them in elegant black dresses with red trimming. Eliza could always be seen sporting a similar dress code, and she informed them that Wilhelm had all of their clothing made in the castle. Once the tailors were satisfied, they carried the rest of the garments, which came in a small variety of lengths and styles but only ever in black with red accents and trim, up to the Gems's rooms. Wilhelm had looked on as this occurred, but was soon distracted by a letter arriving, endorsed with the royal house's sigil. So, he thought, the old King had finally passed. And now Gaelenesh was to take the throne. He would, of course, demand Wilhelm's loyalty and respect, and so long as he proved to conducted himself in a manner appropriate of a warrior he would have it. But even should Wilhelm find fit to turn away from the former High Prince, Nachtstone would endure. Of that he was certain; it was what his line had always done, and what it would continue to do. For now, he slid the letter into a pocket and paid it no further mind that day. More pressing matters were at hand.


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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Tracyarmav
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Tracyarmav Aliit Or'dinii

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Gwillim Gunnvaldr
Husband of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr; Hestia Gristmill and Tempest @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Gwillim looked up as the door opened, expecting a messenger or even another drakken here to discuss the growing tensions between the royal brothers… Still, he was pleasantly surprised to find it was Hestia instead. He watched her as she took refuge in the library, and simply rested a moment in the quiet room before turning to survey her surroundings. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as she turned and finally noticed him. He was amused by the interruption, particularly since she seemed to have accidentally found him. He sat back, even as she reacted in fear, and raised his left hand palm out, chuckling, trying to calm her. He didn’t mind the intrusion in the least, especially since it seemed his intended visitor had been waylaid by more pressing matters, with the death of the king.

He spoke in a mellow tone, his voice easily conveying his bemusement. It held no malice, or threat, but was warm and… almost soft in it’s rumbling. Less like a full blown avalanche, more like gravel sliding down a hillside.

Hestia, what good is it to have a bride, if she isn’t allowed to distract her husband from his tedious papers every now again? Come have a seat, please. I wasn’t working on anything that can’t wait a bit more. Tell me, what do you think of the Gunnvaldr household?

The young woman stared at him in complete and utter terror. She expected him to evict her from the room post haste, hence her hand searching for the doorknob. Instead he reacted with a kindness and gentleness she was not used to from men. She stopped her search and just watched before nodding. She knew not what else to do.

He waved his raised hand towards a couch near the desk he’d been sitting at, as he invited her to sit. Obediently she sat upon the offered couch and curled into herself. She was ready to beg pardon at the drop of a hat should she have misunderstood.

Gwillim rose, ringing a small handbell that seemed to materialize in his right hand once, before setting it back on the desk. While he was moving to join Hestia on the couch, a small cart was wheeled in front of the couch. Upon it was an assortment of drinks, and few dried meats of various seasonings, on a platter in the center. Gwillim helped himself to a bottle of peat whiskey brewed in his own holdings on his birth year, pouring the amber liquid into a glass that seemed to be dwarfed in his large hands, despite having seemed of a normal size on the table. His movements were steady and sure, neither urgent nor particularly meticulous, as he made his selections apparently on a whim. He was not in anyway tense, or worried at this time. His mental boxes were wonderful things for keeping everything organized in his mind. And he closed the ‘work’ box as he moved over to the bride box labeled ‘Hestia.’

The drinks were of a mixed lot, wines, whiskeys, bourbons, beers, ales, and juices. The glasses were also varied, but didn’t seem to be matched with any particular drink, as they might have been in a formal situation. Gwillim was content, things hadn’t gone as planned, but they hadn’t soured either. That was a win in his books. And if he didn’t have to talk power plays and politics this night he wasn’t going to complain. He was curious what Hestia thought of his family. He was aware she might not find them … pleasant, in any sense of the word, but that didn’t worry or bother him. He doubted he’d find her own family to be pleasant had he traveled to Geminia. He was mostly just looking to see what she thought of her current predicament; not that expressed dissatisfaction would change it much if at all. He just wanted to know how she was holding up to the sudden and rather brutal change of pace.

He gestured for Hestia to take her pick, of glasses, drinks, and snacks as he asked her opinion of his household. Well, not his household, but the household that he was a rather influential member of. He sat back on the opposite end of the couch from Hestia; relaxing, sipping the liquid and letting it burn slowly through his mouth and throat while listening to her response, or waiting for it if she was having trouble deciding how to respond. He closed his eyes and appreciated the flavor, letting her respond in her own time.He was in no hurry to return to either his work, or the family gathered in the main hall. He’d dealt with everyone he needed to within the Gunnvaldr house already, so tonight he could relax. And now that he had a reason to, sitting beside him, intended to make the most of it.

“It is…. Large,” she replied to his question hesitantly. “There are quite a lot of people to remember. And I hope you don’t mind my saying, but names have always been a bit tough for me.” She did not know how else to tell the man she did not even remember his name. She tensed ready for a beating that did not come. Instead she was offered her choice from the cart. Overwhelmed the young woman shook her head, “I don’t know… Could you….” Would he hate her for it? “Would you please choose something…. Something sweet for me?” She managed to get out before hiding her face in her hands. She was ready for him to break a glass over her head. Poor something over her. She hated asking but everything was so foreign.

Gwillim opened one eye, the eye closest to her, his left, it was a vivid blue, under his heavy brow. Swallowing, he spoke and considered the platter before them… “Names are reference points, symbols that stand in for the entirety of an individual. You will have to learn them, though I’m well aware that name, particularly foreign ones, can be hard to learn on first try. You may want to try this little trick: as you are told a name, repeat it back aloud, and then in your head add a detail about that person in your head. For instance, I am Gwillim, your husband. You can the relationship as mental tag to the name, giving you an extra reference for it, allowing for easier recall. Alfhildr, is your … hmm, I suppose step-daughter is most accurate, and she is often called Alfhi by friends and family. Scyrvrensel is your wife, and mine, while Tempe is a sister bride. You may find an adjective, something that strikes you about a person when you look at them, makes the best tag instead of your relationship to them. Scyrvren is sly, Alfhi is a bubbling deep spring, You, are timid, … No. You are something else, perplexed and panicked seem equally applicable...

He paused a moment, as he made selection of sweet and mildly spicy dried meats, and a sweet and dark colored drink with bits of diced fruit floating in it, a Sangria. He waited for her to pick a glass, any glass would do, and there was no wrong choice.

Here, try these… Right, that’s the word. You’re adrift. Nothing around you is familiar, and it’s far more dissorienting than simply not knowing where you are; though I’d be surprised if you knew that much. That will fade in time. It’s important that you come to recognize that this is now your home. Strange as it seems; this is how you will spend the rest of your life. That is the way of the Reaping.

Gwillim - Terrifying. Not that he had actually done anything remotely scary to her. Simply that he was so tall and muscular that she didn’t know how to handle that. She brought her hands from her face and worried with her skirt as she approached him. Hesitantly she chose a small, squat glass and held it out. “Thank you,” she murmured softly. “I know this is my new home. It’s just hard to forget where you come from. Ya’know?” Her hands were shaking and she dared not look up at him.

Gwilliam sat back, after pouring her glass half full. No need to waste good drink on jittery nerves after all. He considered her response… on one hand he did understand, because house Gunnvaldr had given him much, and taught him even more. However, he didn’t let the house, or it’s politics limit or define him, something that occasionally caused friction with the cousins. Still, he wasn’t certain how to explain that, so he decided to let her comment stand for now. Perhaps one of the outcast colonies would enlighten her… yes, he’d be sure to stop by several on his next expedition out into the wild lands. They had lost their beginnings, or cast them aside, to start anew.

She accepted the drink into both hands and sipped from it. Her eyes widened with its sweetness and took a couple of gulps from it. She had never tasted anything so delicious in her entire life. She licked the liquid from her top lip and looked at Gwillim, wondering why he would give a girl like her something like this.

Gwilliam sipped his own drink, and let his gaze roam the room. Wondering if there was anything that would aid his new bride, nay brides, in their new life. The histories would give them a background to work with, but only in little bits… And they would have to be scholars in their own rights to understand the broader picture. He didn’t think either of his brides were particularly scholarly. He shrugged, it wasn’t a handicap here in Drakka to be sure. A sudden thought, piqued his curiosity, and he turned his gaze back to Hestia, his eyes darting to her face, his head following more slowly. A rather predatory gesture, but not a conscious one, so while he intended no harm it might be enough to inspire shivers or a flinch. “Tell me about it, this place you cannot forget. Your home.” His voice remained as soft as it could be, and his posture was relaxed but it was also clearly not a request. He waited patiently for her to gather her thoughts and then describe her place of origin.

Hestia hesitantly rolled the glass between her hands as she took a seat near him. Her eyes watched the floating berries. “Well,” she started with a light sigh. “It was sort of woody where I lived. We ground grains for the nearby farmers. With my ability the man who raised me had me work the grindstone daily instead of the ass. I was also in charge of meals, laundry, cleaning and sewing.” Her brows furrowed as she gripped the glass tightly and took a large swallow again. “He got mad a lot, you know. I was bad at things and made trouble. Clumsy and stupid he said. I guess he probably wasn’t wrong. I mean… While my mother was his wife I was not his daughter. So that made me… unworthy. Made me tainted.” She shrugged and downed the last of the drink. “Uhmm… I’m sorry, but please sir could I have some more?” she asked shyly, with flushed freckled cheeks, held out her glass to him. The shaking had stopped.

Gwillim looked perplexed… that was an odd way to do things. No wonder the gems were being plundered. He nodded as he filled her glass again. As he poured he stated simply how things would have been, had she been born in drakka. “In Drakka, a man who cannot keep his own wife is unworthy. And using your magic for grinding grain… how terribly and utterly lacking in imagination he must have been.” Gwillim placed the bottle back on the low table before them, and sat back, tossing his free arm, over the couch’s arm to dangle over the side. “I have no skill in earth magics, so I cannot teach you your craft, but I can sense your strength. Even assuming he meant only to exploit you, he was a fool.” Gwillim was silent a moment, as he pondered what she’d said. Perhaps she’d like the wooded slopes of the spine, or perhaps they’d only remind her of home… She’d said her mother was his wife, but she described growing up without mentioning her mother… Why? “What of your mother? What happened to her?

She listened attentively, scooting a bit closer to him so that she could hear him better. His low growl of a voice could be a bit hard to decipher sometimes. She sipped her drink more slowly and considered what he had said about Drakken males. Her brows knit as she thought. It was much too confusing. A foolish girl such as herself could never understand, she was sure. When it came to her mother she shrugged. “She died shortly after I was born. I never met her but Ollin always spoke poorly of her. He said I looked nothing like her. I looked like my father.” She looked across the room, nibbling her lower lip as she consider the books she could not read and the desk with paperwork. “I’m sorry… I can leave if you were busy. I didn’t mean to intrude.” She brushed some of her curls down in an attempt to hide her face.

Gwillim grunted, the first time in disgust at Ollin, he even had a soft name; then again dismissively at Hestia’s worry. He watched with some curiosity as she pulled her hair down over part of her face, like a veil. “Hestia, if I wanted you to leave, I would have said as much when you first entered. I am not always kind, but I have little enough time without wasting any on false pretences. If am I angry or displeased with you, you will have no doubt of it.” He sipped his drink again, glanced at the remains, then downed that too. Leaning forward again he poured himself another glass. “As a bride of Gwillim Gunnvaldr, that’d be me love,” he glanced her way with a wink, as he sat back, tossing his right arm back over the side of the couch. “You won’t be doing any house work, unless you desire too. I have slaves for that. Though, I suppose in a way you’re merely a different sort of slave aren’t you?” He watched Hestia’s face carefully, curious what an abused child would think of being a slave… many gems hated it, but this one… might find it very preferable to her past life. How lucky of him to be given this gem in particular… perhaps they had not meant to slight him, but had found a gem worth two or three of the her kind. The question being mostly rhetorical anyway, Gwillim continued before she could say much of anything in response. “Your were taught your purpose, but beyond that purpose, you are free to do as you please with your time. It would be wise to stay inside the compound, unless traveling with Scyrvensrel, our wife, or I, but you are permitted to venture forth if you dare… More importantly, and perhaps of greater interest to you, you can study the uses of earth magic at your leisure and will be directed to the practice field when you’re ready to try something more… imaginative than turning a mill stone.” He gestured at the library’s many books with the arm dangling over the side of the couch before letting it fall again, as he spoke of studying magic. He sipped his drink again when he’d finished speaking.

As he winked at her, Hestia’s whole face heated up all the way to the tips of her ears. It made her freckles stand out all the more. She tried to hide this by taking a drink but unfortunately the huge blush stuck around. He was being so nice, she hadn’t expected it. He just seemed like this big and scary guy. He was just honest and large. And the largeness wasn’t his fault.

She wasn’t sure what to think about not having to do any chores. What would she do with her days? Hestia twirled some of her hair around her fingers and considered his statement on slaves. “I guess I don’t really feel like a slave. I’ve been treated more kindly here than at any other time in my life. So it’s not something I’ve thought too much about. A lot has changed recently so I’ve just been trying to get used to it all.” She laughed quietly and offered him a sweet smile.

Then he mentioned working on her earth abilities. She was sure they were nothing spectacular so why even bother? She watched him gesture toward the books and she paled. Hestia lowered her head and stared into her glass as she whispered, “I can’t read.”

Well of course you can’t read Drakkan, it’s nothing like your home scripts… Wait, you can’t read even gem script? … well, you’ve plenty of time to learn, if you want too. If you’d rather study other traditions I believe several of the slave races have oral traditions in teaching and learning magic. I’m sure they’d teach with you with a little incentive.” Gwillim hadn’t thought his opinion of Ollin could drop any lower; he was surprised to find out that he’d been wrong. If he ever did make it across the spine of his own accord, he’d be sure to find this Ollin and flay him alive… then roll his body through town in a barrel of salt… yes.. And… well, he’d savour that kill when he got to Geminia. Coming back to the present, he realized he’d been smiling savagely at nothing again. He let it fade to a grin, before turning his focus back to Hestia. “Do you know what you’d like to do? I for one am very curious about the differences and similarities in our magics. But I’ll find that out in my own studies well enough, if you’d rather spend your time on other things.” Gwillim was genuinely curious, but he also had a wide variety of means to find the answers he sought. Hestia was just a particularly convenient means in this case. There was also Tempe… He’d not bothered to learn her magical affinity yet… an oversight he intended to correct prior to heading home, but probably not tonight.

The way he was just looking off into space as if he might murder someone caused a chill to run through her. She scooted back from him a bit and sipped at her drink quietly. He had been quite shocked about her lack of ability to read, huh? She picked at her skirt as she thought about the other slaves teaching her other things to do with her own magic. She hoped she wouldn’t disappoint anyone. When Gwillim spoke to her again she jumped, a terrified look across her face. It seemed his own features had gentled though and she calmed down. “Ah… I… I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. There was always so much else to do in my life.” She twirled her hair around her fingers again. “I’m sorry.”

A bemused look spread across Gwillim’s face, and he lifted one eyebrow as he queried a single word. “For?” He wondered how long it would take her to get used to having a place she belonged… He guessed a few months at most, for it to really start sinking in. He leaned towards her, bringing his free arm to rest across his lap, palm down, as he awaited her response, fully expecting it to entail a great deal of hair twirling and stammering, but curious to see what she’d say, or try to say in spite of himself.

His closeness made her mind all the more troubled. Her blush returned and she replied, “For being so useless. The only skills I have are not worth much at all to you. I am sorry to be a burden.” She lifted the drink to her lips and gulped down a fair amount of it. The alcohol was beginning to hit her and made her feel a little lightheaded but warm.

Gwillim leaned back and laughed, his bride was worried about being useless. It was priceless. Most were far more worried with surviving being used, and this precious little gem was sorry she could only bear him children. He tried to stop laughing, but … the idea was just so ludicrous to his mind, that such a gem could exist, and then that by some stroke of fortune she’d be his? He held his drink high in his left hand, only just managing not to spill it as he shook with laughter. It wasn’t mean spirited, or mocking laughter, though it might be hard to tell for Hestia. He eventually brought himself under control, and downed his drink before he spilled it or burst into another fit of laughter. “Hestia, you will never be a burden to me, unless your womb is barren. Your purpose is to bear children now, not grind grain, nor cook, nor launder. Bearing children takes no great skill, only strength of soul and body. I’m certain that you will find yourself to be stronger than you think. You believe you are weak, foolish, and clumsy because of a weak, and jealous fool has told so all your life. Ollin lied to you Hestia, but you’ll know the truth of it soon enough.” Gwillim set his empty glass on the table, and rolled his head from side to side, popping his neck and releasing much of the days stress and tension as the alcohol began to warm him… some night he wished he could get drunk as easily as others but he seemed naturally resistant to alcohol, and a number of other venoms and poisons. He rolled his shoulders next, then twisted side to side, his back and joints popping as he went. Even his toes and fingers popped as he curled and stretched them in turn. Feeling much more relaxed, he considered the room around him. He did need to finish the paper eventually… but he had his precious gem to keep him company tonight, and it’d be rude to keep her waiting… oh, decisions, decisions…

He was laughing at her. Hestia hung her head as she sipped quietly from her drink. Did she say something stupid? Wasn’t that just like her though? Somehow her drink became empty rather quickly. When he spoke again she lifted her face, eyes wide. She could never burden him? How could he be so sure? It had only been two days. Surely she had yet to prove just how little she could do. But he didn’t seem to be thinking cruel things about her so she smiled.

That was… until children were mentioned. She? Have a baby? Her face went pale once again and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes. How was she supposed to have children? She had never thought…. Was this her true purpose here? Not just some ornament? What did it all entail? How did one create children? Her face hinted at her confusion but he was busy loosening himself to relax.

Hestia set aside the glass and reached out her hands. “Ollin used to have me massage him. Would you like me to do so as well? He always said I was bad at it, but I could try…” Her words became a mumble as she began to feel very self conscious about the whole thing. Stupid stupid.

Gwillim considered her offer… What was a massage? He assumed it was a gem thing, and then wondered if it’s be worth trying… well, it couldn’t hurt to try it at least the once right? “I’m not familiar with a ‘massage,’ but I’m willing to learn if you’ll teach me.” Spending any amount of time with Scyrvenrsrel had… a tendency to push the boundaries of comfort. Gwillim had long since learned to just let his curiosity run wild, and see where it’d take him. It’d never proven to be boring yet, and sometimes it was even pleasant. He turned towards Hestia and waited for her to start the “massage” whatever that entailed…

“Ah.... Well…” She wasn’t sure how to explain it exactly. She moved close to Gwillim and took his hand in her own. His hand was so big! She felt absolutely dwarfed, even being a bit tall for a Gem. Using her thumbs she began to push into his palm, moving downward as she pressed. Hestia then used the heel of her own palm to put more force behind her action, loosening muscle. Her fingers worked diligently, over his own fingers all the way down through the wrist. A wrist could hold a lot of tension so she was especially careful there, starting softly, moving to more pressure and then gentle again. Once she had completed her task she looked up at him, surprised by how close he was. She had to remind herself that she was the one who had moved. She’s just been to intent on what she was doing. “It’s like that. It can be done on all parts of the body. Neck, shoulders, and back are especially grateful for this attention.

Gwillim sat still and watched quietly, as Hestia took his hand in hers. The difference in size was almost comical, but then wasn’t it always this way with a bride? Her fingers moved across his hand in an… odd motion. He wasn’t sure what she was trying to do, but then he began to feel the muscles beneath his skin responding to her ministrations… Surprise crept across his face as he watched her continue to work and felt the difference in his hand. Gods she was better than a hot bath! Oooh, but what if you mixed the two? Hmmm… “Is that so? Marvelous! Let’s go find a space where you can reach all those places… hmm, our room will suffice for now. Can this be done while bathing? Does warm water help?” Gwillim sat delighted for a brief moment; then he suddenly stood and scooped Hestia up in his arms, cradling her gently before him. He glanced at the papers one last time, then decided to leave them. It was just clerical details… nothing terribly important. He began walking through the library, making his way towards the door they’d both entered through…

“Well, yes. The heat will soothe and loosen the muscle so as to better be worked on.” She was surprised by this sudden and what appeared to her as uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Before she could say anything else she was scooped up like a sack of flour. In her surprise she threw her arms around his neck and buried her face against his neck. Once her heart calmed a bit she peeked out only to discover that she was horribly high up off the ground. The young woman made a small squeaking sound she she hid her face again. She hated heights.

Excellent, bath time then.” Gwillim strode from the library, and through the halls to his own room. The room was dark, but a whispered word brought several candles to life around the room, providing a warm and flickering light to see by. A side room, adjoined to the main room contained the bathing room. Really little more than a spring fed basin built into a large closet or shed. The space was roughly five meters by three meters with a meter of walking space lining the recessed basin. Here Gwillim gently deposited Hestia on the bench that ran along one wall, while a another whispered word brought water bubbling up a pipe from the spring below. That was the real reason the Gunnvaldr estate was built a little apart from the wealthy district, though it was probably also accurate that they hadn’t always been chiefs.

With Hestia out of his arms, Gwillim stripped and grabbed a block of soap, coarse and hard to help scrape the dirt from his thick skin. He set to cleaning himself as the basin filled quickly with steaming water. It was hot, but not uncomfortably so, just enough to make it feel like it was scalding without causing any real damage. He makes short work cleaning himself, and the lays face down to float in the water, his cheek apparently just resting on the surface of the pool. With a hand he beckons for Hestia to join him in the pool and continue her “massage.” This was turning out to be a very pleasant evening indeed.

Once she was set down her heart calmed from her fear. She hoped he wouldn’t pick her up again. Unfortunately, the calm that came over her was cut short. Gwillim stripped himself down and she stiffened, blushed, and brought her hands to cover her face quickly. Oh, she wasn’t meant to see things like this! Never in her life had she seen a man naked! She felt as if her heart was about to beat out of her chest and her mind was blank.

After what felt like eons she peeked out from between her fingers to see him lying comfortable in the water and beckoning her in. She stood, looking toward the floor. Hestia couldn’t possibly wear the magnificent dress into the water. But she didn’t want to be naked. Shakily, she removed the dress leaving her in just her white shift.

Hestia hesitated for a few moments before making her way into the spring. She did her best to keep her eyes straying too far south and instead picked up where she had left off. Her hands grasped his wrist and began to lightly make their way up his forearm before pushing into the muscles. She felt the hardness of them loosen. They were much easier to find and work on Gwillim than it had been with Ollin. Once she became lost in her work, her embarrassment seemed to leave her. Bright jade eyes were half lidded as her hands made their way over his upper arm. She then worked on the other arm, taking her time to ensure each muscle properly relaxed. Hestia hardly noticed that her shift had become see through, her eyes only on him.

Next was his neck. Here she was much more gentle than she had been previously, moving her fingers even up into his hair and scalp. She then worked her way over his shoulders. Here required quite a bit of attention as the muscle seemed to be overworked and locked up.

Gwillim had closed his eyes as he heard Hestia entering the pool. The basin was made of smooth marble, and the water was remarkably clear as it came up from the spring… however the dirt from the arena and the soup suds had turned the water into an ugly broth, but the warmth remained quite comforting and relaxing. The massage was helping even more… normally it would take hours in a bath or sauna to bleed away the stress, but here she was kneading it right out in mere minutes. Gwillim hoped she liked doing this, it was far more enjoyable and expedient than his baths usually were. He would certainly wake well rested in the morning… Turning his head to thank her for her work, Gwillim opens his eyes and admires what little he can without stretching to gawk. “MMmm, this is wonderful. Now I know Ollin was just a jealous and ignorant fool. You must be the most useful bride in all of Drakka. And for all that functionality, you don’t sacrifice anything in beauty. True you’re a tad timid for my liking, but you’ll grow out of that soon enough.” He closed his eyes again and wiggled slightly, as if getting comfortable on a mattress. Hestia was quite a delightful gem indeed, a lucky catch to be sure. Gwillim would treasure her for decades…

She was brought from her own head as he spoke. And spoke only compliments. She was glad he couldn’t see her face because she was grinning like a fool and blushing for the millionth time that day. “Thank you,” she whispered and continued her work, the shoulders took some time. Once they were properly loosened the rest of his back followed suit, each muscle becoming easier and easier to work on as well as less pressure needed. She came to the end of his back and just about fainted. Immediately she removed her hands and backed up, looking off toward the door. She couldn’t do it. She simply couldn’t go any lower. It was around this time she noticed the way her clothing had become and she crossed her arms protectively over her chest.

Gwillim, noticing the sound of Hestia moving back through the pool suddenly as much as the lack of her hands on his back… He’d hoped she would get his legs too, they’d been a bit stiff since the long ride to the capital… He cracked an eye open, and asked what had caused her to stop. “Is something wrong Hestia? I was quite enjoying that…” He knew no one else had entered the suite, much less the room, so it wasn’t that… what ever could be bothering her now? Was there a significant difference in Gem and Drakkan anatomy at the hips? His sleepy mind mulled over the problem at a leisurely pace, just as content to hear her answer as it was to figure it out on it’s own…

“I-i-it’s just… I’ve n-n-n-never… That part is….” She was so flustered. Words didn’t want to come out of her mouth and she couldn’t look at him. Hestia kept moving backward until she hit the wall of the basin. She closed her eyes and looked down. “I’ve never seen… n-n-never touched a…. N-n-n-n-n-naked person…..” She was feeling a bit dizzy now with the alcohol raging in her system, the heat of the bath, and the exertion she had put into soothing his tensions.

Gwillim chuckled, and reluctantly rose, walking towards her. He wrapped her in his arms holding her close. “Well now you have, and you did a wonderful job, thank you.” He gently kissed the top of her head, and just held her close soothing her as best he could. “It’s always a bit awkward the first time, I’m sure it’s even more so given the differences in stature and proportion between our species. Shhhh, it’s okay. You did good Hestia.” Deciding to go ahead and give up on finishing the massage tonight, he mutters a word and the basin began to drain.

She was being…. Held. He had her in his arms and her mind was all sorts of messed up. And the kiss really did her in. She wrapped her arms around him, even though they couldn’t nearly make contact behind his back and let her face rest against the heat of his chest. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, mad at herself that her fear and lack of experience caused her to behave this way. “I’m so sorry.” She wanted to cry and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes but she did her best to hold them back.

Don’t be sorry, be glad you’re finally home.” Gwillim wondered if he should try stoking her back, but was mildly concerned he’d just gouge her flesh with his claws… Best just to hold her, let her cry it out if she needed too. A younger him would have despised her for this, but then he’d lost a bet with a matron in of one of the slave settlements in the frontier… She’d shown him the difference between the strength to move a boulder, and the strength that moves mountains. That had humbled him… He’d thought he’d learned everything there was to know about strength and its many applications. He was glad now, that he had lost that bet to her. She’d died half a century ago but still he remembered the wily old bird fondly. Her clan was still one of his favorites to visit in the frontier.

“Thank you” she murmured and raised her face to meet his. A gentle and genuine smile that showed teeth appearing across her features. In looking up she began to remember, through the bareness of the man’s chest, that he was quite naked. In fact… he was all of the way naked. For perhaps the hundredth time that night a hot blush brightened her cheeks and she pushed against his well muscled stomach but found he was much like a large stone. Immovable. So, instead she began to pull at the wet strands of her hair to help hide her shy face. “Thank you for being so kind.”

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The Night of the King’s Death


GM Post - Ehkota


Fueled by his endless agitation, the young prince paced restlessly about his personal quarters. He had planned everything out down to the last detail, preparations made in advance all to lead up to this very night. Yet, despite all his efforts, his elder brother had beaten him to the climax and stolen what should have been an assured victory. Where had everything gone so wrong, what was it that he missed? Ehkota knew there had to be some kind of sign that his brother had been on to his plans, some indication that he had been planning a counter move… The more he thought about it, however, the more he came to realize that his greatest failure had been staring him in the face for months.

Gaelnesh had never been ignorant to his younger brother’s antics, he had simply played dumb and allowed Ehkota to do the hard work for him. With the groundwork set for him, it was child’s play to swoop in and take the crown… all without lifting a single finger. The man’s inaction should have raised more red flags with the young prince. A nasty snarl erupted from Ehkota’s throat, twisting about the space menacingly as he continued his feverish pacing.

A curt knock on the door pulled Ehkota from his spiraling thoughts. For a moment he wondered who would have the gall to call upon him at such a time, but a gruff voice reminded Ehkota of the guests he had abandoned. Pulling the pregnant Twen through the door, Ehkota’s guard peeked back out into the hallway before shutting the door firmly behind him.

Oh right… I had almost forgotten. Any signs of that wayward bride?” He didn’t know much of the situation, having been too caught up in his own annoyances to care. From his understanding, at some point during his and Kagan’s interactions with Gaelnesh one of his guest’s brides had mysteriously disappeared. While it wasn’t exactly his own guard’s responsibility to keep tabs on anyone but Twen, Ehkota had still offered up the man as a tool to help track down the missing property before retiring away to his chambers to gather his thoughts.

The guard shook his head in response, having turned up no leads as to where the girl might have gone. He had found the situation more than a little suspicious, but with his current duties of keeping Twen safe he hadn’t been able to properly investigate.

No one has seen her or the beast which makes me think that she might have been taken. I would look into it further but I am currently tethered to dead weight.” Ehkota waved his hand in the air dismissively at the pair, his own expression still somewhat stiff.

You may leave Twen with me. I would much rather we not have to deal with an angry kinner, otherwise I would leave it my brother’s problem.” The guard hesitated a moment before bowing his head and exiting the room. Twen shifted nervously as piercing eyes fell upon her, the door shutting firmly somewhere behind her.

Beckoning with his hand, Ehkota summoned the girl who shuffled forward sheepishly.

“I’m sorry m’lord. I turned away for only a moment and she-” Cut off by a sudden impact, Twen was thrown to the ground with a yelp as Ehkota struck her with the back of his hand. The girl held a shaking hand up to the side of her face in shock, eyes trailing upward to her master as if to find an answer.

You’re the reason I lost to him, aren’t you? After all I have done and provided for you, and you still went behind my back.

“My lord, I swear I don-” With his fingers wrapped around her neck, Ehkota lifted the small girl into the air so that they were eye to eye. She struggled within his grasp, squirming as she tried to gasp for breath.

What a pity, I was actually beginning to like you too. Now because of you I have to start all over. Sorry but I won’t be requiring your presence any longer, traitorous bitch.” He watched as a sense of realization reached Twen’s eyes, a brief moment of panic setting in before he snapped her neck.

Ehkota sunk into a nearby chair after tossing the woman’s corpse aside, a long exhale filling the newfound silence. With the way that everything had played out, and the apparent lack of guards breaking down his door, it seemed that his brother thought him incapable of any real harm for the time being. It was as if the entire thing had been his brother’s idea, and Ehkota had simply played along.

Father’s condition was the best shot I had at undermining Gaelnesh without confronting him directly. Guess I’ll just have to find another way to get back at him… everyone loves a good underdog.

While he had a few ideas of how to go about redeeming himself, the process would take a fair amount of planning and a great deal of time. Ehkota had more than a few supporters within the capital itself due to the rising discontent with political affairs. The country longed to return to its more brutal roots, if he could just tap into those ideals Ehkota might be able to insight a rebellion that would force his brother to abdicate the stolen throne.

Leaving the corpse of his bride behind, Ehkota took only what he needed before heading out. Slipping out a side exit before making his way into the darkened city.

The Following Days

GM Post - Gaelnesh


The dawn set fire to the sky, lighting the clouds in bright hues of red and orange. From the outside, it was beautiful… some might have even called it beautiful, however it was an omen for those who knew to read them. While the city still shook the grip of sleep away, the royal castle was bustling with unseen activity. Servants ran about sending messages to one another, tending to daily tasks as well as the many additional ones they had been assigned due to the occasion.

Word had spread quickly throughout the castle, many taking moments to honor the passing of their king. With no real protocol in place there was understandable confusion… The country had never needed any sort of burial process in the past outside of their normal customs, however it somehow felt wrong to subject a man of his stature to the same treatment as everyone else. Gaelnesh had spent the night making plans and barking orders, directing the staff in whatever ways were needed.

Hand written letters had been drafted and sealed, sent out first thing in the morning by royal messengers to any of the war lords still in the area. They would be allowed entry to the castle at some point in the future to discuss any immediate issues, however there were more important things to tend to. Due to the late king’s condition, Gaelnesh could not allow anyone from outside of a small group to witness the corpse. His burial would not be a public one, but a feast would be held in his honor for anyone who wished to attend.

Once Ehkota’s absence from the castle had been noted, the newly crowned king ordered the doors sealed and guarded. Ehkota was not one to give up so easily, and after suffering such humiliation it was difficult to say what his immediate reactions would be. Time was needed to study the new antics, something Gaelnesh had very little of for the time being. With a feast to plan and announcements to make, the next fews days were going to be hectic at best.

~~~


Gaelnesh allowed the news to circulate for a couple of days before he chose to address the people, informing them of the tragic passing of the late king. He spoke little of his own crowning, sticking to talks of the memorial feast and promises of the future. Considering the events that had occurred it would have been of little surprise to hear of rising conflicts, however the days following the king’s death seemed quiet in comparison. Somehow he had expected a quicker response from his brother, but he knew the planning that went into setting up an assassination had been months… if not years in the making. While his younger brother might have contingencies in place, it was rather unrealistic to expect any immediate retaliation.

The new king, having settled down into a chair for the first time in several days, began to doze off in his seat. Eyes growing heavy, Gaelnesh fought a losing battle to keep them open with each passing blink. Much to his surprise when he next slid his lids open, the lighting in the room was completely different and his daughter stood before him with her back to him. Sensing his movement, the young woman turned around with a concerned expression.

You’re overdoing it father, you of all people should know better. I trust you were able to regather enough strength for this evening’s announcement?” She asked, approaching the chair to sit on her father’s lap with her arms around his shoulders in a light hug.

Announcement?” The man was drawing a blank on what his daughter might be referring to. The preparations for the feast had already been made, an event that would take place the entirety of the next day… He had nothing else that needed to be said, at least nothing that came quickly to mind. Shaking her head as if she expected such an answer, Evienne allowed a short bout of laughter to fill the room.

Don’t worry, everything for grandfather’s memorial is in place. You have seen to it yourself. I am speaking of the preparations for the impending holiday. By this time next week we will have needed to make the trek down south for the holy festival. You haven’t forgotten have you?” They both knew that he had. Gaelnesh had never really been one for fancy parties or festivals. The closest he came was usually the Choosing Ceremony as it was established and regulated per his father’s vision. Even the memorial service was out of the ordinary for the man, so it was of little surprise that a festival dedicated to the gods had slipped his mind.

Rubbing his fingers to his temples, Gaelnesh sighed. Evienned raised a brow but remained silent as he massaged the tension from his skin.

Messengers have already been sent out to the lords that have already departed for their homes. They will be reminded of the event and the location of the shrine this year is dedicated to. If you would like, as I’m sure you have a great many things to do, I can handle this evening’s address in your stead.” While the king was quick to resist such an offer, his daughter’s persistence finally led to him giving in to her expectations.

He would be allowed to retire for the evening to get proper rest while Evienne handled some of the more minor responsibilities.

~~~

GM Post - Evienne


Evienne stood on a stage that still stood from the Reaping, surrounded by a decent amount of guards loyal to her father's authority. It was a strange sight to see something so inherently defensive from a capable warrior, but following the assault at the arena and the shift in political power… it didn’t hurt to take precautions for the time being. The princess hadn’t been a huge fan of the decision, but it was one of the conditions of allowing her to handle the address so she couldn’t deny the request.

Glancing down at the face around her, Evienne chose her expressions well. She could not seem too cheerful as it might be taken as disrespect, but it also would have been deemed weak if she seemed too solemn. Trying to find a good balance between the two, the woman stepped up to speak to the crowd.

First off, I would like to officially thank you all for the time and energy spent making this year’s Reaping a success. We are looking forward to seeing what victories are to be earned in the coming year, what honors you bring to your names.” She paused a moment to survey the scene, adjusting her mannerisms accordingly.

Due to the passing of my grandfather, and our king, we have had some unforeseen events scheduled to take place. That includes tomorrow’s feast. However, I would like to take this time to remind you of what time of year it is. In about one week’s time the annual festival of the gods will be taking place. This year’s festivities will be held at Drun’s southern shrine so please remember to bring your offerings with you.

May the gods bless your blades and acknowledge your strife.” Evienne bowed her head slightly to indicate the end of her ‘speech’. A small path was opened up for the woman by the guards that tagged along, Evienne quickly hopping down from her place in the spotlight. There was so much else to be done in preparation for the festival, after all, the royals were not exempt from such an important event no matter how inconvenient.

Day After the Feast


Despite being so close to the Reaping, the late king’s memorial felt nothing like the previous event. While the Reaping and Choosing Ceremonies were vibrant and hungry, the feast had a more diligent tone. It was a quiet fierceness that the elders wore best, hardened after the many centuries of combat. Generations of stories were shared telling the tales of warriors both current and fallen. Alcohol flowed freely from cask to cup, and from cup to belly. And one of the most noticeable differences in festivities would have been the lack of public dueling.

Petty squabbles and immature brawls had been kept to a minimum throughout the day, and most of the participants showed a sense of camaraderie as opposed to the rivalry they expressed during the Reaping. It was an interesting thing to witness such different sides of the culture so close together in time. Even if one did not agree with the policies or decisions of the late king… it was still clear in the behavior of the guests that he was still highly respected at the very least. It was almost heartwarming.


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