Fritz "Ryn" Hendrix
Fritz "Ryn" Hendrix
Interaction(s): Mina @Tae
Mina had merely smirked to herself as she’d walked away from the Alidasht prince, quite pleased with how that interaction had turned out. She now had to focus on the task at hand as she made her way to the front of the ballroom, curious as to who her dance partner would be this year. She’d danced with all sorts of people over the years and felt as if she were prepared for anything. Truly anyone would be better than the older count she’d once danced with that tried to continuously be handsy with her. She’d merely kept readjusting his hands the entire dance while still staying pleasant. Thankfully she wasn’t going to have to deal with that man again this year as she found herself in front of Lord Hendrix, someone she had yet to formally meet yet knew of. ”Lord Hendrix, it is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance. I am Lady Mina Blackwood. It seems we are to be dance partners, is that correct?” She said with a smile as she curtsied to him.
Ryn reflexively returned the smile and curtsy with a smile and bow of his own to Lady Blackwood. He showed his paper to her and checked her number. Despite King Edin’s questionable decisions concerning other matters, Ryn approved of this type of ice breakers. What a terrific way of potentially expanding one’s social circles without the burden of thinking about how to initiate a conversation. “It seems you are indeed correct.” Ryn took the paper from Lady Blackwood’s hand and stuffed both of their papers into his outer pocket. He could have just thrown the paper onto the ground like the others, it may have even been customary to do so. Ryn, however, couldn’t stand the idea of littering the place knowing full well that someone else would have to clean up after him. Sure, one could argue that it was the servant’s job and that two pieces of paper would not make a whole lot of difference to them, but what did people gain from intentionally making other people’s jobs harder? Their time and energy were better spent elsewhere.
“The pleasure is entirely mine, Lady Blackwood,” the count offered his hand to escort her to a suitable space on the dancefloor, “How does Kolonivka fare? I hope all is well.” Once they were facing each other, the man held his left arm upward and extended his right arm forward, welcoming Lady Blackwood to step closer. He placed his right hand on her left shoulder blade once she lifted her arm. “I am glad to see that Count Blackwood is in good health today.”
Mina took note of Ryn sticking the papers in his pocket instead of tossing them on the ground like so many others did. It was a slightly curious act, but Mina felt as if it spoke volumes to the type of person he was. She made no comment on it, however, and simply took his hand when it had been offered. ”All is quite well for us currently. We had quite the bountiful harvest season last year which helped us make it through the winter quite nicely.” She said with a smile as she stepped in closer, taking up her position for the dance. She followed his lead, easily falling into the steps of the waltz.
”I am quite glad my Uncle made it as well. I did force him to rest up the entire afternoon after we arrived as I thought it incredibly important he attended this event this evening.” She said with a small laugh as she briefly glanced over to her uncle who was actually participating in the dance as well. It seemed he’d actually gotten paired with Duchess Alice Smithwood and she briefly wondered how that was going. Her attention was quickly back to Ryn, however, as it was rude not to give her partner her full attention. ”How is your business fairing? I have heard nothing but praise about your family and your trading company.”
“Why, thank you! I couldn’t possibly take all the credit, though. I mean, here I am dancing with a gorgeous woman, eating delicacies, and meeting such wonderful people while everyone back home is battling mounds of paperwork and shipments.” Ryn clicked his tongue, “Suddenly I feel guilty for being here… Perhaps I should host a party like this one when I go back so that they don’t feel like they were left out. Maybe even invite some of the people I meet here? Would you like to join? If you don’t mind the presence of commoners, that is.” Ryn stared at Lady Blackwood for a beat before gasping. “Oh! Dar—sorry, no, excuse me. That’s not at all what you asked is it? Business is doing quite well. In fact, we are considering officially expanding outside of the Three Kingdoms. Have you ever traveled overseas, Lady Blackwood?”
Mina let out a small giggle. ”Lord Hendrix, you are by far the sweetest man I’ve met tonight and you flatter me.” His upbeat nature had her positively grinning. Truly it was rather refreshing if she were being honest. ”I would be delighted to join. The presence of commoners won’t be a problem in the slightest. They deserve just as much respect as either you or I and they, too, deserve to have a grand night like this. They are the backbone of our kingdoms, after all.” It was nice to find someone who seemed to view commoners in a positive light as there were so many nobles who looked down on them. She supposed it did make sense as his family did come from humble beginnings.
He then went on to apologize as he hadn’t exactly answered her question. ”Please, no need to apologize!” She shook her head, smile still in place. ”I’m glad business is going so well! That expansion will be a huge accomplishment. I commend you and your family for all your hard work. As for your question, sadly I have not.” The last part she said with a sigh. ”The only overseas travel I’ve experienced is through the books I read. I would love to travel some day, but I’m currently too preoccupied with caring for my uncle and making sure the people of Kolonivka are cared for.”
Ryn’s eyes softened, “Such is the fate of an admirable leader. Kolonivka is truly blessed to have you as their future countess. Do make sure you give yourself some time for yourself, though, Lady Blackwood. I’m sure you don’t need me to state the obvious, but just as you care about your uncle and people’s wellbeing, so do they care about you.” Carefully Ryn raised the hand that held Lady Blackwood’s hand so that she could do an underarm turn. When she came back, he continued, “You should definitely travel overseas if you get the chance. It can be such an eye-opening experience! As informative as books and pictures can be, they don’t always do the place, or its inhabitants, justice. Even the best of them can leave details out that could completely change what you believed for so long.” The count’s voice dropped to a near whisper as his smile faded slightly, “You can’t always believe what’s written down in books or depicted on paintings.” Ryn’s jovial expression returned quickly, however, “Not that I dislike books or art, mind you. I’m actually quite fond of them. Excellent way to travel to far-off worlds when you don’t have the time or means to do so.”
”History is written by the victors, rarely is what we read in books or see in paintings are the truth.” Mina stated softly with a small sigh, her face falling a little as she thought of her mother. She was painted as a harlot and ostracized for it, but speaking with her uncle it seemed that may not entirely be the case. She met Ryn’s eyes once again and found herself smiling at him again. ”You are a wise and kind man, Lord Hendrix. Perhaps I should take some time to myself and attempt to travel. I would love to see the different wonders of the world and attempt to paint them.” She sighed once again, though. ”Unfortunately, though, many look down on a woman traveling alone. I know my uncle would worry about my safety as well. He would urge me to find someone to travel with.” She gave a small laugh at the end of her statement.
When Ryn saw Lady Blackwood’s countenance as she made her comment about history being written by victors, he belatedly realized that he accidentally struck a nerve. The power of stories, true or false, knew no bounds. They had the ability to spread like wildfire, twist reality as people knew it, and drastically alter lives, for better or worse. Rumors were no exception. Solely through word-of-mouth, Lady Selina Blackwood’s scandalous reputation spread down south. Every community farther away from Kolonivka added a bit more to it, transforming the story behind Lady Mina Blackwood’s birth into something more nefarious, to the point where even tavern bards sang fantastical songs about it. The crudest variation Ryn heard was that both Selina and Sebastian Blackwood were practitioners of the dark arts and as a part of a magical ritual they conceived Mina. Astonishing how people could conjure up so much from so little.
Thankfully, Lady Blackwood changed the subject back to traveling.
“I can see why your uncle would be worried, it can be dangerous traveling alone… but if that’s the only thing preventing you from traveling, why not use Crosswinds Trading? I’m sure my family would be ecstatic to serve as your guide, and I would gladly accompany you if you would have me.” The invitation flew out of his mouth before Ryn had time to consider what he was going to say. If he had, he would’ve known how much it wasn’t a good idea. There was nothing to assure Ryn’s fate in Caesonia, thus he was in no position to make promises he couldn’t keep. “Then again, I suppose having a man you barely know accompany you on your travels is exactly what Count Blackwood is trying to avoid.” Ryn turned his head to the side to look at the people gathered in the ballroom, “Perhaps… you can invite a number of your friends along? Oh yes, that should be fun! A trip overseas with your friends and paint set, a short break from… all of this.”
Mina let out a small giggle, but found herself nodding. ”Honestly that’s a really good idea. I think my uncle may be more comfortable with me traveling with you since your family has such a high reputation.” She knew that her uncle was quite impressed with the Hendrix family and their success, she had little doubt he'd be opposed to her traveling with Ryn, but she couldn't completely speak for him. ”Besides I couldn’t travel till after this season ended so it would give us plenty of time to become acquainted with each other and him acquainted with you.” At the mention of friends her smile faltered only a tiny bit, but was right back to where it was. ”That could be a fun trip, yes, but first I’d have to find true friends to do that with.” She laughed. ”Where would you suggest I travel first? As I’ve mentioned, I love to paint and read. I also love places that have wonderful desserts to try.”
“One of the most charming ladies of Kolonivka with no true friends? No, it simply cannot be. What hopes do I have to make friends if you don’t have any? This will not do. We must rectify this while we’re here. We will have so many friends by the end of the season, that we’ll need two ships to accommodate everyone for the trip!” He was exaggerating, of course, but he did find it surprising that Lady Blackwood had no one to call a true friend. Was it because of the rumors surrounding her and her family? Or perhaps she simply was not the type to make close friends.
“As for where you should travel first… Hmm. That might be a harder question than you realize, Lady Blackwood. It’s the equivalent of narrowing down a book recommendation. There are just so many options! And they are all wonderful in their own right. It really depends on what mood you’re in. For example, Nexeio might seem like a boring place to go at first. It’s a windy place with nothing but vast plains as far as the eye can see. What people who give up early don’t realize is that almost everything there changes with the wind. The denizens are nomadic. Their lives revolve around the winds. Settlements do exist, but they’re rarely permanent like they are in the Three Kingdoms. Truely, a cartographer’s worst nightmare. But if you do manage to find a settlement, you’ll notice them from miles away. If not from the brightly colored ribbons and kites the Nexeians love so much, then from the sound of wind chimes.” Ryn’s eyes lit up with excitement, “Did you know they know how to ‘fly’? Not literally, of course, but they have very clever methods of gliding through the skies and hovering midair as if they did have wings. Imagine what you’d be able to draw from up above!” He paused. “Actually, you’d probably just get a better view of how expansive the plains really are, but I digress. If you like sweets then I believe they have plenty of interesting ones to try out. Many of them are very light and fluffy. There’s one that even looks like a cloud. It melts away the second it hits your tongue. Speaking of melting, there’s this other place called…”
During the remainder of the dance, Ryn tried to list as many places in the world Lady Blackwood could travel to in the allotted time. He talked about the land that was left in perpetual dusk as if both the morning sun and evening moon forgot of its existence. Candied rose petals were the most popular treats there. The city of fog and shadows, where the haze never dissipated, and everything outside only looked like shadows. Unable to do much outdoors, the city’s inhabitants take great pride in their interior decorating. A megalopolis that was carved into an expansive mountain range and was blessed with an overabundance of precious stones and metals. There are luminous crystals in their caves that “sang” when struck. The Forest of Many Wonders, a place brimming so much with life and chaos that the word improbable held no meaning. Legend has it that treatment to any ailment could be found within the forest, given that its seeker was willing to risk life and limb for it. The beautiful islands in the far east that were located in the most dangerous waters on Eromora, and home to warriors who were fabled to be so skilled in water maneuvering that a well-coordinated group could easily take down a Kraken with nothing but harpoons and fishnets. The fruits grown on these islands were the sweetest things Ryn ever had. He was even able to squeeze in a bit about the tribe that revered pudding above all else. Ryn would have continued if given the chance. He loved to watch the wonderment on people’s faces when he told them about these places that seemed too foreign to be real.
Mina listened to his recommendations with genuine interest, finding all of them to be fascinating places. She hadn't commented on his disbelief of her not having friends simply because she wasn't sure how to explain it. It really boiled down to her not putting in enough effort to make more than acquaintances. She rarely approached others to converse with them unless she absolutely had to or if they approached her first. She'd never really realized how unusual it was for a girl like her to not have any friends. Well she couldn't say she didn't have ANY friends. She did have Dr. John who she would consider to be her closest and possibly only friend. Perhaps it was time to change that.
The music came to an end and there was a genuine smile on her face as she curtsied to Ryn. ”I must thank you for this wonderful dance and all the wonderful suggestions, Lord Hendrix. You truly have convinced me to want to travel as well as made me realize that perhaps this should be the season that I become better acquainted with others."
“You flatter me, but I fear I was just prattling at the end. Thank you for listening to me. I do hope it was, at the very least, entertaining to some extent.” The count turned his attention to the people in gold and added, “If I may make one more suggestion, Lady Blackwood. Alidasht is also a fine place to travel. Relatively close too. And unlike the other places I suggested, we’re fortunate to have natives of Alidasht to speak for themselves. I would think they would be thrilled to tell you more about their home if you ask them.” Ryn bowed, “May you have a delightful evening, Lady Blackwood.”
She got ready to turn and leave, but then paused. ”Don't let my lack of friends discourage you, my lord. You shall easily make friends with how charming you are. My lack of friends is due to a lack of effort on my part, but I do hope to fix that. With that being said, I do hope that you and I can become better acquainted over the season here." Mina gave him one last smile before she left to go find herself a little something to eat.
Ryn stood silently while he watched Lady Blackwood make her way to the tables. True friends. Though he had verbally encouraged her to try to make some, Ryn also knew all too well that friends were a double-edged sword. They can be a great source of happiness in the best of times and the strongest moral support in the worst. That was why their betrayals cut deeper than what any enemy could inflict.