Avatar of PapaOso


Recent Statuses

1 yr ago
Current Every few months I stop by here "just because". I've been doing so for like a decade. However, every once in awhile something really GRABS me and I stay for awhile. I live for those moments xD.
2 yrs ago
The og X-Men: The New Era turns 10 years old soon! I can’t believe how many amazing people I have met thanks to this RP, or the multiverse that has spawned from it since then. I love you all so much!
1 like
2 yrs ago
Coming back to this Guild and reconnecting with old friends is genuinely one of my favorite things in life. Much love to all of you who have been so wonderful to me over the years <3.
3 yrs ago
Professional Wrestling taught me how to imagine. Dave Chappelle taught me how to laugh. George Carlin taught me how to question. Uncle Iroh taught me how to be a man.
4 yrs ago
The ebb & flow of life can be overwhelming sometimes. However, every time I come back to this site I'm reminded why I never should have left in the first place. <3
1 like


I have always loved stories. It started with reading, then moved to writing, then Role Playing, and eventually to acting. My passion for storytelling flows into my love of various fandoms (X-Men/Comics, Critical Role, DBZ, GoT, Spartacus, Dexter, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Star Wars, and so...so many more). This site lets me be a part of bringing stories of these worlds and many others to life and gives me the opportunity to connect with people that love these things as much as I do. In a broken world this site stands as a haven for kindred spirits that are gathered under the banner of my absolute favorite thing in the world; telling stories. I love you guys :D.

Most Recent Posts

Time: Late Morning
Location: Sorian Beach
Mentions/Interactions:@princess Charlotte / Calbert, @SausagePat Ruby, @Potter Olivia, @Tae Kali, @FunnyGuy Renzo

Cassius had been keeping tabs on his father’s advance even as he lifted Ruby and walked over to the blanket with Charlotte and Oliva. Amongst all the chaos that played out since his and Kalliope’s arrival at the beach, his father approaching had been present in the back of his mind. This would be their first real interaction in a public setting such as this, and he was definitely curious to see how things would unfold.

Honestly, he still wasn’t quite sure how the Count was going to view him once the newness wore off and all that was left was a man unwilling to be anything other than himself. He was certain that there was nary a chance he would be the ideal son his father dearest might have hoped for, but that didn’t bother Cassius one bit. Despite the man’s niceness towards him and the warm, if not peculiar welcome he had received from both Calbert and Liliane alike…there was just something about the man that gave him pause. The way his father looked at people was reminiscent of a general looking at the pieces of a battle plan as he prepared for war. It hadn’t taken Cassius but a few interactions to see this, but that was only because he knew the type. He wasn’t so sure that everyone saw past his father’s charm. Sometimes it takes a bit of a scoundrel to see through the bullshit of a man such as Calbert…but still…he wondered if his instincts were correct, which they usually were, or if he was simply projecting the shrouded pieces of himself on the man without really giving him enough of a chance. Either way, he knew that particular mystery would be solved in time. Until then he would simply enjoy the ride.

Cassius bent to gently place Ruby down on the blanket, making sure to brush the sand from her face delicately before looking up to watch his father make the rounds with his advisor, greeting the different groups on the beach and inviting them to some party at the Damien estate later that evening. His attention turned towards Charlotte and Oliva with curiosity as words formed on the tip of his tongue to answer Olivia’s offer of a sandwich, but they never escaped his lips as he took in the sight of the girls now that Calbert had made himself known. Both of the women were reacting to the Count’s arrival, their change in body language was obvious to him as someone who had spent his life learning how to read others. He could almost literally feel the tension in the air as Calbert finally made his way to their little group.

Charlotte’s hands were trembling.

Was she…afraid?

Just what had his father done to elicit such a reaction? Cassius felt pulses of discomfort shoot through him at the sight of Charlotte like that, especially at the very thought that his own father could be the cause of such a shift in mood.

"It's so nice to see you making friends, Cassius. Do take your time and have fun, but I'd like to speak to you once you're through…I'll be awaiting you at home" Calbert addressed him first, Cassius responded to his first comments with a charming nod and ironic bow. Before he could speak, the man continued. "I see you've met Lady Charlotte Vikena... Though I suspect this isn't your first encounter.” Cas raised an eyebrow at the little remark. He must have heard about their first meeting the other night. It didn’t surprise him given how things had played out, but still…as his father’s tone soured a bit, Cassius had to fight the urge to smirk. Had he already disappointed his dear ol’ dad? "As I said, we have some things to discuss. ".

”Of course, father. I look forward to the conversation.” His words came out mostly genuine, despite the little tinge of sarcasm that painted almost everything that escaped his lips. ”And, I’m also quite looking forward to this masquerade of yours. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Cassius continued to watch as his father turned his attention to Charlotte and Olivia. Charlotte’s eyes kept their gaze to the ground, and Olivia began stuffing her face with her sandwich. Both were clearly tactics of avoidance. The interaction only lasted a handful of seconds, but it may as well have been hours in the way that it informed Cassius about the girl’s feelings toward his father. An ungodly curiosity stirred…a need to know why they seemed so frightened of the man grew furiously within him, but he held it at bay. For now.

Once his father left, Charlotte was finally able to go address the situation with the man that he could only assume was her own father.Cassius took in the sight of the man once more. If that was indeed her dad, the dichotomy of their individual patriarchs was vast. As he watched Charlotte comfort the man, Cassius let his mind drift to Olivia…who had buried her head in her hands and was clearly in need of a bit of comfort herself, or even just a distraction. He would try his hand at a bit of both. Sitting down on the other side of the blanket a few feet from her, he spoke.

”Lady Olivia, despite all of the…let’s call it FUN that has unfolded this morning…I wanted to say that it truly has been lovely to meet you. I’m not used to all of this. Well…I’m used to the chaos. I quite like it from time to time in fact. What I’m not as used to is the concept of being noble.” A fun smile formed on his face as he continued in a hushed tone. ’I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I feel like a bit of a mutt surrounded by show dogs. But that’s just what life is sometimes…and as far as mutts go, I’m quite capable of playing with the fancy dogs if I must. Who would I be if I didn’t love a challenge? What about you, are you used to all of the song and dance of noble life? Something tells me perhaps not.” His tone was pleasant and playful as he spoke, but as finished his sentence his eyes fell to the sandwiches and he could feel the slight growl of hunger in his belly. Before you answer, is your offer from before still on the table? Those sandwiches look like an absolute dream at the moment.”

Time: Late Morning
Location: Sorian Beach
Mentions:@princess Charlotte, @SausagePat Ruby, @Potter Layla / Olivia, @FunnyGuy Renzo, @Tae Kali

Cassius allowed his eyes to linger on the face of his father for a moment. The Count looked charming and influential as he made his way down to the beach, hair blowing in the wind and all of that distinguished poise carried on the surface for all around him to bask in. He still didn’t know the man that well, but Cas had a way of seeing people for who they truly are…and he could sense that there was far more to Calbert Damien than that. There was something in his eyes, something ominous yet inevitable.

His attention was torn away as he realized he never answered the girl he had been introduced to a moment ago, Ruby, as all the nonsense with Layla had overshadowed her words. He felt bad, because Ruby had picked up on his sarcasm, which he admired, but as Cas began to fully process her words his mind became stuck on one thing as it replayed in his memory.

“Listen here, Casserole.. if you’re going to put the moves on Charlotte, you have to commit to Charlotte. Nobody wants a fickle fizzbucket.. Get it together, ya hunk! “

First off…Casserole?...Had she actually called him that? He couldn’t help but smile as he realized that she truly had. He has been called so many things throughout his life, most of them far worse than “casserole”, but there were few he had ever found to be quite so humorous.

Next, he thought about her statement itself. Cassius would never deny that he had a tendency to “put the moves” on those around him that he found to be beautiful and or interesting. Of course, Charlotte was beautiful…and something about her had clearly piqued his curiosity, but this wasn’t him flirting…at least he didn’t think so. He had flirted at their first encounter, and that had not gone well. Not at all, in fact. But if not that, then what was this? He didn’t get the chance to ponder the point further, as the very woman whose words stirred the thought in the first place cried out suddenly and fainted, her body crumbling to the sand below. Charlotte reacted quickly, pulling Ruby into her lap. Then…thanks to Layla, came the sand.

There it was, just a hint of the fire that Cassius saw in Charlotte the other night, present in her eyes as she scowled at Layla with the realization that the vile woman had kicked sand in the direction of Ruby.

"How dare you."

Cassius watched the scene play out in front of him…witnessing that very flame in Charlotte surge to life, flicker, and then diminish as she lost her nerve. Even as the contempt in her voice lessened, the weight of her words and the resolve behind them were clear. He could tell that she was the type to always stand up for those she cared about, even when she had shown that perhaps she wasn’t willing to do the same for herself. His eyes remained on her face as she spoke, and eventually, as her own gaze turned to him once more…he found himself lost in the remnants of sparks and embers that lingered behind her eyes. Not unlike his father, there seemed to be far more to Lady Charlotte Vikena than most would ever assume. It was then that she spoke to him

"Excuse me... Lord Cassius…Could you please assist us in carrying Ruby over to the blanket?"

There was a veiled hesitation in her plea, yet she asked him all the same. As their eyes were still fixed on one another, Cassius replied to her request with a nod and kneeled next to Charlotte at Ruby’s side…his gaze only breaking away to look down at Ruby as he began to lift her gently. In the moment, he had no sarcastic quips, one liners, flirtatious bits of banter, or anything other than a desire to help the fallen woman and in turn help Charlotte.

As he stood to begin walking Ruby over to the previously mentioned blanket, the middle-aged man that he saw as he approached the beach came to address Layla and whoever she was arguing with now. Cassius had stopped listening to the bitch after turning his back to her. He didn’t care how royal or important she was…she had shown that she wasn’t worth his time, and he knew that Kalliope could take care of herself if the need arose. Only seconds later, though, the air in the vicinity shifted. Something had happened. Cas could hear the man groveling and begging for Layla’s forgiveness as he turned to face the crowd again with Ruby still unconscious yet safe in his arms. His eyes trailed to find Charlotte and Oliva once more as he spoke to them just loud enough for them alone to hear.

”What the fuck is going on? Is it always this…chaotic? Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of chaos, but this has been a very peculiar morning.”

Time: Late Morning
Location: Sorian Beach
Interaction:@princess Charlotte / Calbert, @Tae Kali @Potter Layla

"Oh, Cassius, dear…So this is the girl whose name you said last night instead of mine? She’s even more beautiful than you made her out to be at dinner!"

Kali’s words caused the smile to slip from his face as his heart sank down into his stomach. Normally, such a jest would have elicited a hearty laugh and some form of charming one liner from Cassius. Nothing was off limits, and he enjoyed few things as much as a bit of banter and back and forth. This felt different, though. It felt unfortunate. He had wanted so badly to reset the impression he made the other night, and perhaps he had been on his way to doing just that…but the way the air around Charlotte shifted and changed in the seconds following Kalliope’s words was all the evidence he needed to see that the opportunity was gone.

He wasn’t angry with Kali, in fact even now he could find the humor in her calling him out like that. It was a bold move from an even bolder woman, and he respected it. He only wished it had been at the expense of him alone and not involving Charlotte after all she had already gone through in the moments prior. Well…perhaps he was a little bit vexed after all. Still, maybe out of instinct or because he didn’t know what else to do, he momentarily turned his attention to his company from the night before and feigned a version of his normal grin as if to say You got me. Then, as he turned back to face Charlotte his eyes met her face just as she spoke.


Cassius watched as the gears turned in Charlotte’s mind and the moment of realization set in. Once again he felt the need to apologize…or honestly to say anything at all…but he wasn’t used to the kind of shame he was feeling at that moment and so all he could do was look at her with regret-filled eyes.

"Please excuse me, I-..."

Her words felt as though she might be dismissing him, but Cassius didn’t get the chance to know for sure as the woman turned the attention of her verbal assault back to Charlotte once more. Cas impulsively stepped to put himself between Charlotte and the woman antagonizing her.

”Aww.. Don’t you feel better being out in the open, Lady Slut Vikena?”

The woman’s gaze shifted to meet Cas’ eyes with a flirtatious wink and smile. Her derogatory remarks towards Charlotte caused his blood to boil more than he could have expected, and for some reason the woman’s flirty gesture towards him only fed that fire. All of the mixed emotions that were bubbling beneath his surface, the confusion, the shame, the regret…it all began to manifest into anger. He had managed to keep his mouth shut during her initial onslaught, which was a miracle in itself, but despite the situation clearly being handled by the others…he could not bite his tongue any longer.

”You prissy little rich bitch. Let me guess…mommy and daddy gave you everything a girl could have hoped for, didn’t they? Well...everything except for their love, of course.” An arrogant grin formed on his face as his expression held nothing but contempt for the woman. ”All the gold in the world couldn’t make up for the fact that despite all of that ambition in your eyes, you’re still nothing but an insecure little girl so afraid of being alone that you would hurt everyone around you with your petty spite before they can get close enough to strike you first…all so you can maintain the illusion that you have some semblance of control.” Despite his anger, the words did not come out venomously, but instead they dripped with a beguiling sense of poise. Cas was thankful that many years of conflict had prepared his instincts to maintain a bit of mastery over his external emotions even when on the inside he was full of rage. ”And you want to know what my favorite part is? It doesn’t even matter if I’m half right about these things…because even if there’s just one ounce of truth to my words it is going to eat you up at night that someone who is seeing you for the first time caught you slithering in the tall grass before you could get a chance to read them first. You don’t think anyone can see you behind all of those masks you wear, but darling I always see right through them…and what lies beneath is far more sad and way less interesting than you delude yourself into believing.”

As he finished his words, Cassius turned away from the woman as though she wasn’t worthy of his gaze and looked back to check on Lady Charlotte. Upon doing so, his eyes met those of his father’s some distance away…who unbeknownst to him had been approaching the group.

Time: Late Morning
Location: Sorian Beach
Interaction:@princess Charlotte, @Potter Olivia, & @SausagePat Ruby

The way Charlotte visibly tensed upon hearing his voice had more of an impact on Cassius than he would likely ever admit. He was someone who thrived on getting reactions, both positive and negative ones alike. However, something about her reaction in particular pained him. It reminded him of their initial meeting, and how bad he felt about the way things had played out that evening though he still couldn’t wrap his mind around why. He simply was who he was…unapologetically, and everyone could either take it or leave it as far as he was concerned. He didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about him as long as he was on their mind. Why then, did it bother him so that she was clearly avoiding his eyes as she averted her gaze towards the sea?

"I'm fine. Thank you for asking...It was only a smoothie..." A moment of silence followed her assurance as Cassius, a man who rarely found himself without words ready on the tip of his tongue, struggled to find a way to respond. Soon though, Charlotte broke the silence with a question of her own. "Are you doing well?" Oddly enough, despite his speechlessness only a few seconds before…his response came out immediately and unprocessed.

”Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m doing. Should be wonderful given the morning I’ve had and the way my life has changed over the course of the last few days. I am not sure what I could possibly have to complain about given my new access to wealth and status… yet…something haunts me all the same. In fact, believe it or not I would actually like to…” His words were cut off by the arrival of someone new. The woman had an extraordinary case of Heterochromia, something that only added to her natural good looks. Charlotte stood to greet the woman, whose name was apparently Ruby. She then proceeded to introduce Cassius to both Ruby as well as the other woman standing next to Charlotte named Olivia.

Part of him was almost glad that his apology had been cut off. The words had come out without him even intending for them to, and something about that caught him off guard. He pondered why he was so eager to apologize, but his natural brand of swagger clicked back into place as he addressed the two women with a charming bow.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you both, and I must say…you two look absolutely lovely. I hope you’re enjoying your morning at the beach, and what Lady Charlotte says is true, however she left out one important detail. I’m not just the Count’s son…I’m his bastard.” His introduction was laced with sugar as his words came out genuine and kind, the final statement dripping with playful exuberance as he let the word bastard come out as barely a whisper.

A coy smile crossed his face as he continued. ”I know…what an absolute scandal at play. Who wouldn’t love being a skeleton in the closest of a man like my father? Seems to be the role I was quite literally born to play.” The sarcasm was on full display as he spoke, but as he turned his gaze to Charlotte once more his smile shifted back to one of actual genuinity. ”Thank you kindly for the introductions, Lady Charlotte. I would be remiss if I did not also mention how lovely you look today as well. Almost perfect, in fact, save for this.” Cassius reached a hand out and delicately wiped away a final few drops of smoothie that had found itself in her hair. His eyes returned to hers sweetly once he was finished. “That’s better…a bit of spilled smoothie stood no chance of hindering such beauty.”

Time: Late Morning
Location: Sorian Beach
Interaction:@Tae Kali & @princess Charlotte

Many Years Ago

The cobblestone streets of Stravy had been a welcome change from the dirt roads and muddy trails that they had been traveling for weeks. Cassius, even at his young age, had come to love life on the road…but even he appreciated the comforts that cities could bring. Normally, when the troupe hit a place like Stravy, it meant staying there for at least a few weeks. This time had been a bit longer than usual. Almost three months…it had been the longest that Cas had been in one place in quite a while. He had even gotten to know some of the other children, for better or for worse, and had learned his way around the district they were staying in. For the most part, he had the unadulterated freedom to roam and explore as he pleased…one of the benefits of the life he had been given.

His mother was far too busy with rehearsals, performances, and all of the hustle and bustle that came with her musical endeavors to keep an eye on him all the time. She did her best, but that lifestyle came with certain sacrifices, and the inability to be an attentive parent certainly was one of them. Cassius did not hold any of that against his mother though, especially at the age of ten. He was in awe of her, and despite often not being allowed in the venues to see her performances…he usually found a way to watch. Even back then, he was proficient in the art of finding a way to get what he wanted.

Sitting on the outer fence of the amphitheater, Cassius had his legs wrapped around the posts and his arms intertwined with the railing to further support his rather uncomfortable positioning. It was the best he could do to get a proper view of the stage below, where his mother was about to perform. She had been practicing a new song for weeks and tonight was meant to be its proper debut. The other opening act was in the final moments of their performance, and it was only a short while before he would get to see his mother walk across that stage and do what no one in the world could do better…at least in his eyes.

As he waited, a smile crept across his young face as he was filled with the excitement and pride he had for his mother. That smile did not last.

He was struck with the stinging sensation of liquid crashing into his body unexpectedly. The shock of it was only overshadowed by the stench that immediately hit his nostrils. Cassius darted his eyes away from the stage and turned to see what had happened. What he found was a group of other children who immediately began to laugh at his misfortune…one of which was holding a chamber pot with a smug look on their face. The realization of what was going on began to set in. Then came rage.

Tears of anger welled up in his eyes as he lowered himself from the fence. The other kids continued to laugh as his feet finally hit the ground.

“Look at the whoreson…I think he's going to cry!” One of the boys shouted. The others roared in laughter at the remark.

Cassius let his eyes travel to the one who was speaking. He took in every feature of the boy, burning it all into his memory out of sheer spite. The way the boy’s curly blonde locks looked as though they hadn’t been washed in weeks, the freckles that lined his face, the one eye that was greener than the other, and even that shit eating grin that adorned his ugly mug…it was all photographed into his young mind in the most permanent way.

“Don’t call her that.” Was all that escaped Cas’ lips in the moment, his tone was quiet and eerily neutral.

“What did you just say?” The bully asked, perhaps caught off guard by the statement or unable to hear over the sounds of laughter surrounding him.

“You called me a whoreson…my mother is not a whore. Don’t call her that again.” Cassius stated in that same, cold tone of voice. The bully looked around at his friends, the shit eating grin on his face growing more and more smug by the second. The others began to chant for him to say it again.

“Poor little Cassius…covered in piss…with the biggest WHORE of a mother in the whole city.” The kid's words barely finished crossing his lips before Cassius charged him. Somehow, Cassius ripped the chamberpot from the bully’s hand and cracked him over the head with it; a loud and satisfying pang reverberated from the impact. The boy hit the ground hard, but before Cassius could even process his next move…the others were on him. It wasn’t the first time he had been beaten to a pulp…and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Eventually, guards rushed in to break up the melee. The other kids scattered, dispersing like cockroaches into the streets and alleyways. Only Cassius and the boy he struck in the head remained. That boy was unconscious, a bit of blood dripped from where Cassius hit him with his makeshift weapon. The guards grabbed them both and took them away. Those next few hours were a blur until finally his mother showed up to retrieve him. He had never seen her so angry. She didn’t say a word to him until they got back to their small, one bedroom abode at the inn.

Meredith inspected his wounds with care, but the look on her face was full of disappointment. “Do you realize how scared I was, Cassius?” Her disheartened tone made his physical pain pale in comparison to the weight of her disappointment.

“I’m sorry.” Was all he could manage.

“Oh, you’re sorry…Good!! That fixes everything. That changes the fact that every single coin I earned tonight went into that guard’s pocket just so he would let me bring you home.” She very rarely raised her voice at him like this, but tonight had been a terrible night. What was supposed to be the highlight of their entire tour turned into an absolute nightmare as she had been forced to spend hours tracking down her only son. There was a silence that lingered between them as she tried to get control of her emotions. It was Cassius that broke it first.

“They called you a whore.” His voice came out mostly regretful, but with a slight hint of defensiveness that still remained.

“And why does it matter what a bunch of delinquent children think, Little Bear? What power do they have over us? You can’t force this world into being what you want it to be. All you can do is choose whether you float with the waves or continue to fight them.” Her tone changed throughout her statement. Starting at the same, disappointed position and slowly transitioning into one of love and care. Despite her frustration, she brushed her son’s filthy hair out of his face as she cherished knowing that he was safe. Even then, at that age, something about her words resonated with Cassius. He knew, as did his mother, that this would not be the last time trouble would find them, but Meredith was hopeful that her beloved son would heed her warning all the same.

Present Day, At The Beach

As the tension of the moment began to disperse, Cassius once again took in the sight of everyone around him. His eyes lingered on Kali for a moment, flashing her a smirk and nod in recognition of her impressive display. Then, once again, his attention turned to Charlotte as she removed her dress, combed her fingers through her hair, and surprisingly addressed him as well as Kalliope. He could not deny her beauty as she discarded the smoothie-stained dress to reveal the bathing suit underneath, and her turning to speak to him actually caught him a bit off guard. For the moment, he simply answered her courteous welcome with a polite nod…but soon, as she stepped away from the group to finish cleaning what remained of the spilled smoothie from her body, Cassius sauntered over. As he moved past the others to make his way next to her, his gaze turned to the splendor of the water that stretched for miles in front of them. He addressed her with a calm voice…one not as full of wit and flirtation as it was the other night, but that patented charm remained.

“Lady Charlotte…lovely to see you again. Seems I’m not the only one who leaves quite the impression on people.” A smile curled across his lips as he continued to look out towards the water. “I don't know exactly what I just witnessed, but the girl I met the other night…the one that showed me such fire doesn’t seem the type to just stand there and let someone treat her that way. I was glad to see your friends jump to your defense, not that I think you needed it…but it’s always good to have support.” After a brief pause, he finally turned his stormy eyes to meet hers. This time, they held genuine concern. “I wanted to ask…are you alright? I can’t imagine that was part of your vision for this relaxing day at the beach?”
Kalliope & Cassius

Location: Kalliope’s room —> The Beach
Time: Late Morning
Interactions: Charlotte @princess, Sjan-dehk @Apex Sunburn, Layla @Potter, Farim @Lava Alckon, John @Conscripts, Roman @ReusableSword, Lorenzo @FunnyGuy, Ariella @Tpartywithzombi, and Olivia
Attire: Kalliope, Cassius

The grand castle halls echoed with the sound of Kalliope's determined footsteps as she stormed through the corridors, her frustration barely contained. The meeting with the oblivious King Edin had been just as infuriating as she had anticipated, and dealing with his pompous demeanor and mispronunciation of her name had worn her patience thin.

Finally reaching her door, she flung it open with a huff, not caring about any potential onlookers. As she stepped inside, she slammed the door shut behind her, the noise reverberating through the room.

"That pig-headed fool!" she muttered under her breath, her voice filled with disdain as she began to pace back and forth.

"I've had quite enough of King Edin's antics for one day. He truly is insufferable, an absolute pig in a crown!" She hadn’t even looked to see if Cassius was even still there and frankly she didn’t care. She would vent to the air around her if need be. ”It would have been so easy to impale a dagger into that oversized gut today, but no. I’m a good little girl, obedient and loyal as ever…” Her eyes fell on Cassius, lounging comfortably in her room. A soft smile formed on her lips at the sight of him, a welcome sight amidst the turmoil of her thoughts.

Without wasting any time, she started to unbutton her shirt, her movements both determined and slightly distracted. "I need a distraction," she said, her voice tinged with frustration as she pulled off her shirt, revealing a lacy bra underneath.

She tossed the shirt aside and turned to face Cassius fully, a glint of mischief in her eyes. "And who better to provide that than you?" she added, her voice low and sultry.

Cassius had stayed undressed from the night before. Even after Kalliope had left the room to go meet with the king himself, Cas had remained comfortable in his most natural state. It had been some time since he had the luxury of staying in a castle, and he enjoyed lounging about and meandering around Kali’s room as he awaited her inevitable return.

He thought of the night before, and how wonderful it had all been. She had proven herself to be his equal in every way, and the two of them truly had an enjoyable time exploring each other’s company and letting the lust that had built throughout the night take over. Though, there was one moment that overshadowed it all.

Cas was not usually the type of man to feel shame, nor did he find himself easily embarrassed. He was confident, brash, charming, and some may say egotistical…perhaps even dickish. He was bold and allowed the waves of the world to wash over him as they saw fit; malleable and unbothered by it all as he pursued his desires and explored the beauty of the world. So, to say that he was embarrassed by the climax of last night was an understatement.

Never once, in all his years of dealing in the arts of pleasure, had he ever muttered the wrong name in bed. It was so unlike him that it left him confused and irritated with himself. He had not let it ruin an otherwise blissful night with Kalliope, but still it festered as his mind wandered to that name once more. Lady Charlotte Vikena. The neighbor girl that he had only just met…why was it her name on his tongue, why could he not get her out of his head?

His thoughts were interrupted by the sudden flinging open of the door and Kali’s abrupt, albeit enticing entrance. Cassius listened to her words with an endearing smirk as he laid sprawled out on her bed, the only thing covering him was the corner of a sheet barely draped over his manhood. As she began to undress and faced him fully, he patted the bed playfully as an invitation for her to come to him as he took in the absolute beauty of her form.

“Oh darling…I have been known to be quite the distraction. Come here and let me help you work through some of that frustration.”

Kalliope's frustration slowly melted away as she gazed at Cassius, his playful invitation beckoning her closer. She could feel the intensity of his eyes on her, a magnetic pull that drew her to him. With a playful glint in her eye, she sauntered over to the bed, each step exuding confidence and allure as her hips swayed.

The weight of the morning’s frustrations began to fade into the background as she climbed onto the bed, joining Cassius in an intimate embrace. The tension that had gripped her slowly gave way to a different kind of tension, one of desire and longing.

Their lips met in a heated kiss, fueled by the electricity that surged between them. Kalliope's hands explored his sculpted body with a gentle touch, savoring the feel of his skin beneath her fingertips.

As their passion reached its crescendo, the world around them faded to black, leaving only the warmth of their bodies pressed against each other. In that moment of intimacy, they found respite from the turmoil of their lives, basking in the afterglow of their shared connection.

In the quiet stillness that followed, Kalliope smirked at Cassius as she glanced up at him through her lashes. ”Good job at not saying the wrong name this time.”

Cassius reveled in the pleasure of the moment as he laid next to Kalliope, his breath still heavy from their rather lovely distraction. It all replayed in his mind as he lounged in ecstasy. The way that their bodies intertwined, the intoxication of the passion they both shared…it had been wonderful to spend this time with Kali. He had needed this after such a whirlwind of recent events, and he was glad to have stumbled upon her glory in the training grounds.

She was truly a beautiful woman, just as fierce and skilled as himself. The absolute grace and the control over her body and technique displayed in every stage of their evening had impressed him, as did the fact that she knew exactly when to surrender that control in order to take full advantage of the thrills of the moment. Truly, it felt blissful to be in the company of a kindred spirit such as her. They both knew exactly what this was, and there was always something beautiful to be found in that.

He admired her allure as she glanced up at him, and even as his own smirk formed in response to her cheeky little jest, he could not help but appreciate her natural beauty. He turned away from her briefly, obviously feigning shock and awe at her insult. He brought his hand up to his uncovered chest and pressed it over his heart dramatically.

“My, my…You truly cut me deep, love. Will I never live down the one and only mistake Cassius Vael has ever made?” He laughed in jest as he rolled suddenly on top of her once more. ”At least you were not so insulted by my error that you would deny yourself from using me a little longer. That would have been a true shame, because it’s clear just…how…much you enjoyed using me to make all your frustrations melt away.”

Cassius looked down at her with a seductive smile as he moved to kiss her, stopping himself just before their lips could meet. ”And oh how I have enjoyed being used by you Kalliope Arden. A warrior with a name fit for a goddess…one worthy of being remembered.” Finally, he allowed his lips to press against hers sweetly. “Truly, I apologize for my error. I am a prideful man, but I am never beyond an earned apology. It was unlike me, and I do not take it for granted. It is a mystery to me why this woman pierces her way into my mind when I least expect it, but I was with you and you deserved my full attention. I’m glad I got the opportunity to make it up to you this morning.”

Kalliope chuckled at Cassius' playful response, appreciating his ability to take her jests in stride. As he rolled on top of her, she met his gaze with a sly grin.

"Oh, I couldn't resist using you a little longer," she replied, her tone teasing. "After all, you are quite the enjoyable distraction, Cassius Vael."

His words of apology and admiration washed over her, but she couldn't help but feel a sense of detachment. In Kalliope's mind, he was a good friend and a pleasurable companion, nothing more. She had no intention of letting any romantic feelings entangle their dynamic. She valued their connection for what it was—fun, liberating, and entirely physical.

"No need to fret, Cassius," she said, offering him a reassuring smile. "I’m sure I can forgive you…after a day of teasing. That reassuring smile quickly turned into a mischievous smirk. Besides, it's in the past now, and we've got a beautiful day ahead. How about we get a move on to the beach? I'm sure there's more fun to be had, and we wouldn't want to miss out on the waves and sunshine."

With that, she playfully pushed him off of her and got up from the bed, starting towards her closet to gather her swimsuit. Her mind was already shifting to the prospect of spending the day at the beach, the carefree moments and laughter that awaited them. For Kalliope, that was all that mattered—the present, the enjoyment, and the camaraderie she shared with her new adventurous friend.

There it was. That familiar look; the one that normally found itself deployed in his own gaze, but this time it was looking back at him for a change…a look of detachment. For a moment, he wondered if she had misinterpreted his gesture, but thought better of it. He was not usually one that felt the need to apologize, but it had been important to him that she knew he hadn’t meant to be disrespectful to her in that way. Still, the detachment that glazed over her eyes just enough for him to notice made him laugh to himself and wonder if he had been as good at hiding his own version of it the many times it had crossed his expression.

They both knew what they were getting themselves into. Cassius was used to this kind of casual arrangement, and honestly Kalliope had proven to be the perfect partner for such a dance. He admired her and cherished the night…and morning they had shared, but it was clear to him the very moment they started their evening that it was all just for fun. Exactly how he preferred it. He answered her comment about just how great a distraction he had been with his usual, cocky smile and agreed that it would be fun to hit the beach.

It made Cassius chuckle a bit as Kali pushed him off her playfully and rose to get ready to leave. He admired her alluring form a little longer as she made her way to the closet before he rolled to the opposite side of the bed, turning his back to Kalliope as she dressed. Draping his legs down to the ground, he lifted to a seated position and brushed his fingers through his hair.

Cassius once again let his memories transport him to the doorway of the Damien estate where he first laid eyes upon Lady Charlotte. Everything about him that evening had irritated her. Normally, all that would matter to him was that he made an impression, but it was obvious that she had been having a difficult night and for some reason he found himself feeling bad about how things had gone down. Yet, everything about her had left a very different impact. It was baffling the way that tempest in his mind eased the moment he saw her…and how it raged once more as soon as she walked away. The imprint of her face lingered in his vision when he closed his eyes the way the light of the sun does if you stare directly into it. He didn’t know what it was about her that plagued him so…but he knew that he would have to see her again in order to find out.

Standing and spreading his arms into a wide stretch, Cas let the sheet fall from his body leaving him fully uncovered once again. He meandered his way to Kali’s washroom and freshened up a bit before returning and pulling on his pants and boots. As he worked his shirt over his head he addressed Kalliope with a smile.

“Truly, this has been fun Kali. If ever you feel the need for a diversion coming on, you can always call on me to earn that forgiveness of yours a bit more.” He stated with a cheeky wink and a grin, appreciating her choice of swimwear. “But alas, all those poor souls at the beach are being deprived of our beauty and charm…and we simply cannot allow them to suffer such a fate any longer.”

With their playful banter exchanged, Kalliope gathered her things, slipping into a sleek blue-black bikini that perfectly complemented her figure and was perhaps a bit more revealing than necessary. As she moved around the room, pulling on a loose white button up shirt that may have been a mans and leaving it open, she couldn't help but notice Cassius going about his own preparations. His playful remarks brought a smirk to Kalliope's lips as she adjusted the straps of her bikini. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind," she replied with a wink, appreciating his unabashed confidence and the way he seemed to fully understand the nature of their arrangement. With a final look in the mirror to make sure her hair was in place, Kalliope shot Cassius a grin before leading the way out of the room.

Soon the vibrant scenery of the beach came into view and the scene was accompanied by the sounds of laughter, waves crashing against the shore, and…a scream? Well that certainly wasn’t unusual at the beach, but it also wasn’t something one came to expect to hear right away. Kali just pushed it aside as she stepped onto the sand.

Her eyes immediately zeroed in on a certain figure by a blanket and chairs—Sjan-dehk. Her heart gave an almost imperceptible flutter, a sensation she hadn’t realized had been happening almost every time she saw the man. But she quickly shifted her attention, her keen senses picking up on a tense scene unfolding nearby. Layla's confrontation with Charlotte was impossible to miss. The years she’d spent practically living with the Alidasht royalty and spying on them for a certain uncle of theirs, had her knowing the extremes Layla could go to.

Kalliope's lips curved into a knowing smile as she strolled over, her presence commanding attention despite her casual demeanor. "Layla, dear, do try to remember that we're in public," she remarked with a mockingly sweet tone, her eyes gleaming with mischief as she knew the woman would likely be shocked to see her there. "It's quite entertaining, though, watching you add drama to the beach scenery. You always were quite good at causing all sorts of drama to hide all of your own flaws. Bravo, really." Her words were delivered with a sardonic edge, her confidence unwavering as she stood her ground.

Cassius took in the various sights and sounds of the beach, letting his eyes wander and peruse the beauty of his surroundings. Such an enticing place, full of laughter and joy…a true melting pot of people doing what they could to unwind and simply enjoy themselves and one another. He could feel the eyes of others land on Kalliope and himself as they made their way onto the sand. Nothing about that surprised him, given how very few people here probably knew who they were at all and the fact that they both absolutely radiated such magnetism.

His own eyes did not linger on anyone long, as subconsciously they were already searching for a specific individual. The subject of their interest soon came into his view. There she was…that neighbor girl with the melancholy eyes, Lady Charlotte. The very woman whose presence had crept into his mind and persisted despite the company of even someone as beautiful and seductive as Kalliope Arden.

He took in the sight of her, admiring her figure in that simple but elegant floral dress that was just sheer enough to hint at the blue bathing suit beneath it, and appreciating the way her hair looked tied back in the pretty little lace bow that only enhanced her natural beauty. She looked happy, surrounded by a group of friends. It was a very different mood from how she looked the other night, and that part of him that felt bad for adding to whatever it was she had been going through reared its head. He watched as she helped hand out smoothies to a few of the people around her, and his eyes started to take in the sight of them all as she interacted with each.

First he noticed the man dressed to the nines. He appreciated the commitment of a gentleman who would choose to suffer such heat in a dress vest.

Next, his attention was pulled by the large man with tan skin. Cassius was rather tall himself, but this man was at least a couple inches taller. Given the tan and build of the man, he wondered if the behemoth had grown up working a forge.

With them, there was the gentleman with the straw hat. Something about the man emitted a warmth and gentle nature even though Cassius could tell he was a competent warrior just from the way he carried himself. Looking over momentarily, Cassius noticed that Kali’s eyes were firmly planted on this man. Interesting. He smiled at the thought of why that might be.

As Charlotte moved to a couple more people, Cassius took in the site of a rather princely looking man with features that drew his mind to the Alidasht. He was wearing a form fitting swimsuit that accentuated his nice physique. The girl near him was wearing a pretty green dress, and her reddish hair was held up by a pearl accented clip. Both of these individuals seemed rather familiar with Charlotte, as did the next two on her journey to hand out smoothies. First, there was an older man with a neatly groomed mustache and then there was another read-headed beauty with a simple but fashionable white beach dress.

As his eyes found Charlotte once more, Cassius wondered about all of these people and the roles they played in her life. Perhaps they were friends, perhaps some were family, and most curiously he wondered if any of them were her lovers. His thoughts, however, were interrupted as what had seemed like an otherwise peaceful situation quickly got out of hand. A sun-kissed woman with a sheer black dress covering a stunning swimsuit approached Charlotte with obvious tension.

As he and Kalliope continued their natural approach, he began to hear a bit of what the woman was saying, but he was shocked at the way the woman removed Charlotte’s lace ribbon and subsequently dumped her own smoothie on her. Cassius felt his blood begin to boil. He wasn’t sure why such an anger began to grow inside him, but it didn’t matter as immediately Kalliope quickened her advance and began tearing into the spiteful woman with reckless abandon. All the while, the beginnings of a skirmish threatened to break out amongst the group as the man in the form fitting swimsuit had his own words for the woman whilst he dispatched a few of her guards. Then there was the matter of the man with the straw hat drawing a firearm. There was a rage in him Cassius had not quite expected. Very interesting indeed.

However, the altercation thankfully seemed as though it was going to end almost as quickly as it had begun…and Cassius let his view return to Charlotte, who was now covered in smoothie as the man in the straw hat retrieved her ribbon and offered his tunic to her in kind. The way he reacted and his clear desire to take care of her made him wonder about the nature of their relationship. Then again, he remembered the way Kali was looking in the man’s direction just a moment ago. He could not help but be intrigued.

Cassius focused his attention on Charlotte’s eyes, and the way that her expression was so different from how it was when she was handing out smoothies. He didn’t know the woman who assaulted her so, nor did he know the nature of their disagreement…but Cassius could not help but feel vitriol in his heart for the woman who did this. He was almost angry at himself for not being able to get there in time to stop it from happening at all, even though he never could have made it in time.

As he looked towards Charlotte he wanted to approach her and ensure that she was okay, but it was clear that she was being taken care of. Multiple people were acting in her defense, and the truth was that she probably wouldn’t have wanted him to insert himself in her business…especially after the events of the other night. Speaking of that night, he remembered the fire she displayed. That spark of anger and passion that she pointed in his direction. None of that was present in this moment. Just confusion, disappointment, and obvious sorrow. Cas could not help but hurt for her. It almost didn’t matter what she might have done to elicit such a reaction from the spiteful woman, he would feel for her all the same.

Cassius found himself hanging back a bit as the whole situation played out, moving a little closer to Kalliope to make sure that she wasn’t in any danger. He knew she could handle herself, but that recklessness reminded him a little too much of himself…and that did not bring him any comfort. Even so, his eyes continued to find themselves to Charlotte as he scanned the area in hopes that the worst of the situation was past them, his hands never far from his axes just in case.

Time: Evening
Location: The Damien Estate
Interaction: N/A
Mentions: @princess Calbert, Lily, & Charlotte @Heartfillia Crystal @Tpartywithzombi Violet

Cassius found himself in awe as the meal was brought to him. He could count on one hand how many times in his entire life that had the opportunity to dine like a nobleman…and this meal, as last minute as it was, was more impressive than most of those times combined. He remembered the evening before he and the rest of his Iron Wolves were meant to take back a stronghold from a group of rather organized bandits. The merchant footing the bill for the whole operation bought out an entire tavern for the night so that the men could feast and be merry before the battle ahead. That was the greatest meal he ever had…but this…this was fucking close.

Once the thank yous and other pleasantries were out of the way, Lily and the rest of the staff left Cassius to eat his meal in peace. Despite the grandiose nature of the delicacies before him, he found it difficult to think about anything other than the day that had so wildly unfolded before his very eyes. He looked back on his day and allowed the memories to play out in his mind’s eye.

It had all started when he approached the Damien estate for the very first time. Meeting his father had gone differently from what he expected. Pondering back on the moment, he cringed a bit at the realization that he had actually sang a bit of his mother’s song to the man to prove his identity. Cassius had not really sung for anyone other than the occasional lover on a drunken night, not counting drinking songs and songs of war, of course. To truly sing for another was a rather vulnerable thing for him despite his voice deserving to be heard. It was a piece of connective tissue forever linked to his mother, and each time a song formed on his lips he mourned her all over again. But sing he did, and it was enough to prove to the Count that he was who he claimed to be.

From there he found himself entered into an archery contest that he did not win…but he captured the hearts and loins of many in attendance; at least it sure felt that way from atop his mountain of arrogance. Then came the moment he was accosted by a behemoth of a man that turned out to be the protector of a young woman that was soon revealed to be one of his younger sisters. Crystal was a sweetheart, and despite her understandable apprehension towards him, he already felt like he would be willing to protect her with his very life. Family has an odd way of making you feel that way.

Next in the chain of events that was Cas’ day was the execution of Cameron Nesworth. He still hadn’t processed what he witnessed there. To be honest, he hadn’t processed a lot of this day…but this bit was a particularly strange piece of the day’s puzzle. He knew that something had happened between the man being executed and the woman with the ginger hair, but he wasn’t sure that he would ever truly comprehend what he had seen. He was used to accepting the unknown, but even so, this had piqued his curiosity .

The next few hours of his day were spent in revelry, up until the point that he left the tavern for some fresh air and an evening walk. He remembered the moments leading up to the fight. Finding the scrap of fabric, hearing the commotion, sneaking his way to gain a vantage point…his axe digging into the lesser man’s skull. It had been glorious, and Cas was glad that he could help the woman in need. Especially once she revealed herself to be his other younger sibling. Violet was much stranger than Crystal. Not as innocent nor as sweet, but she was a feisty woman that had seemingly changed before his very eyes from a damsel in distress to a capable and clever force to be reckoned with. He liked her already, though he had the sense that the feeling was not mutual. He didn’t mind being hated; it was just kind of neat having sisters at all.

Returning to the Damien estate honestly proved to be the strangest part of his day, and that’s saying a lot. First there was the argument between Violet and their parents, then as everyone went their separate ways Cassius was left to his solitude for a few moments. He recalled hearing the knock at the door. In some ways the sound still reverberated through him, as did the silence that encapsulated his mind once he opened it. There she stood, the neighbor girl with the sad eyes. Her name was Charlotte.

Why was it that in all the chaos of the day, it was Charlotte that stood first and foremost in his mind? Perhaps it was recency bias, but he knew deep down that there was more to it. He couldn’t wrap his mind around it, but something about her felt familiar to him. Not in the sense that he had seen her before, no it was something else and he hadn’t the slightest clue nor the ability to process such things after the day he had. However, as he enjoyed his meal and indulged the Damien’s wine…it was his meeting with Charlotte that repeated in his mind. That girl and her melancholy eyes.
Cassius & Charlotte

Cassius leaned against the wall nearest the wine table, his mind billowing with hundreds of thoughts all at once. He was a man that was fine being left to his solitude, but the quiet of a massive house like this did not suit him well when his storm of a mind raged like it was in this moment. There was nothing around to distract him from the contemplations and questions that he was yet to find answers for. Nothing other than his wine.

As he sipped, he savored the taste on his tongue. For too long he had accepted the comforts of cheap drinks, but if he were to be a Lord as his father so temptingly offered…perhaps it was time to get used to such luxuries. He scoffed at the thought of himself as a noble. It made him laugh. As he stood there, his dark clothing had literally been stained with blood earlier in the evening. He was a mut, a mercenary, and often the kind of man that became a menace to nobility. Yet here he was on the precipice of joining the fold...Such an odd reality to process. The difference in his life that the previous twenty-four hours had made was something that even he who lived it had difficulty believing.

His musings were interrupted by a knock at the door. He looked around, expecting a servant or staff member to appear out of thin air to answer the knocking, but alas…he was completely alone in the foyer. With a quick gulp, Cassius downed the rest of his wine and placed the glass back on the table. Pulling himself off the wall, he stretched his shoulders a bit before sauntering over towards the door. Finally, a distraction. He thought to himself as he reached out and pulled the door open with a grin.

Suddenly, the tempest raging in his mind quieted as his eyes met the person on the other side. It was an eerie thing for a storm to grow so calm so quickly. Sometimes it was an indication that the eye of the very storm itself was overhead, and that the worst was yet to come. Other times, as a storm dies down… all that remains is calm.

The woman standing outside the door was a stranger to Cassius. His eyes had never met hers before, nor had they ever been graced by her presence. Yet it was odd, for he felt such a spark of familiarity ignite as he took in the sight of her. He tilted his head not unlike a dog as he tried to make sense of it, but it was to no avail. Instead, he took in the beauty of the woman. Her glorious raven black locks framed her face in the most stunning of ways. The red velvet dress she was wearing looked as soft as anything he had ever touched. Then there were her melancholy eyes. The kind one could lose themselves to if not careful. In all of their sadness, they were beautiful. The calm that came over Cassius the moment he saw her allowed him to drink her in no different than he was the wine that filled his glass moments ago. He had not the slightest clue what to expect when he opened the door, but even so…she was a worthy surprise.

Cassius let his grin turn into an alluring smile as he licked the last bit of wine from his lips before finally addressing her. “Fuck me, you’re gorgeous, aren’t you?” He pulled the door open a bit more and stepped fully into the threshold, placing a hand at the top of the frame, he leaned into it nonchalantly. “Are you lost, darling?”

Charlotte had braced herself, her heart pounding, as the door swung open. She had hoped to see the sight of her dear Crystal or to see the pensive Violet standing there, alive and well. She had also dreaded the appearance of Count Calbert, the master of the estate, and for a fleeting moment she had thought that was just who had been standing there as a male form appeared in front of her, emerging from the shadows of the foyer.

But he was none of the above. As the moonlight graced his face in an almost ethereal way, it illuminated his stormy gray eyes that matched the silver in his hair. As the two stared at each other at the foot of the door, more details came into focus. A scar struck through his right eye on his face, somehow only adding to his allure. She had never seen anyone quite like him. He reminded her of a poem. He held a certain mystery and a beauty that one would unfold more and more before the reader with each reread.

Her gaze involuntarily dipped, her curiosity piqued by the peculiar attire adorning the stranger before her. It was evident that he did not belong to the ranks of servants—So just who was this man?

Charlotte had been trying to recall the reason she had even come here when he finally spoke up. The words sent a rush of warmth to her cheeks, and her eyelashes fluttered as if she had awoken from a deep slumber.

“I… I beg your pardon?” she stammered, her lips parting into a tentative smile. With a slow nod, as if coaxing herself to regain composure, she continued, “Oh… I am not lost. In fact, I am quite found, or rather…” Frustration tinged her expression as she furrowed her brows, seeking to articulate her thoughts.. “…Who are you again?”

He watched in glee as the girl struggled to articulate. It was cute that she was already flustered. Perhaps she was an innocent little priss. He savored the quick thought of how he could perhaps corrupt such a lovely and wholesome thing. Her eyes dipped to take in the sight of him, and his smile only widened as he observed her attempt to collect herself.

“Oh…you like what you see, don’t you?” Cassius teased, using his free hand to motion towards himself. “I can’t say I blame you...I am rather stunning.” He let his eyes dip and explore her frame, looking over her curves and the beauty of her slim body. He then turned his attention back to her melancholy eyes as he answered her question. “Who am I? See that is an excellent question, because whether you truly are lost or found, you currently find yourself blessed to be in the presence of Cassius Vael.” He smiled arrogantly at her, letting all the charm in the world drip from his words. “Or rather, Cassius Damien…depending on who you ask. Turns out the Count has a bastard son. Lucky him.” His gaze turned seductive as he leaned through the threshold of the door, inching ever closer to her. “Really…I should be saying lucky you. Whoever it is that you may be. Tell me love, what is your name?”

Charlotte crossed her arms tightly across her body as she watched his eyes travel over her body just the way that Farim had done not long ago. She wondered if there had been something strange about her that prompted them to leer in such a manner. Perhaps they just wanted to intimidate her. Nonetheless, the man continued on without interruption from Charlotte, introducing himself.

Any trace of a favorable impression she had of him faded away with each and every word, continuing to reveal himself as yet another self-absorbed individual to add to the overwhelming population of such characters in Sorian. The revelation that he was the illegitimate son of Calbert elicited an expression of genuine surprise… with a hint of dread.

...Another one!? The world truly is unjust. The last thing I needed was Calbert the sequel. No way. I refuse to play games with two of them… That's assuming he's even telling the truth!

With a forced smile, she introduced herself curtly,“…My name is Charlotte.”

Eager to cut him off before he embarked on another arrogant monologue, she interjected, “Cassius Vael. Is anyone else home?” Her question, tinged with impatience, came across more as a demand than a polite inquiry.

The woman’s expression transitioned, and Cassius particularly enjoyed watching her cross her arms in irritation at him. Something about riling up a beauty like her put a smile on his face. Mockingly, he stood straight up and pulled his hand down from the door frame to cross his arms as well. With a wink, he flashed her a playful smile before responding.

“The sound of my name on your lips is so…very…sweet.” He teased with his words, absolute confidence soaking into each and every annunciation.

“...Excuse me?”

“Say it louder. I dare you.” The cheeky grin on his face highlighted the rugged handsomeness that he exuded; the sun-kissed skin of a man who has known the road for many years, the unkempt hair that is just begging to be freed from its tie, and the cut of his shirt that reveals just enough of his chest to entice wandering eyes…it was as though he had been designed by the gods themselves as the kind of man mothers warn their daughters about, and he was very aware of that fact. He did not allow her to respond to his dare. Instead, he began to lay it on even thicker. “I’m not sure where the others are. I’m a stranger to this place, after all. I know that father dearest had business to attend to elsewhere so you just missed the Count. Lily is off getting me a bite to eat. I have no idea where Crystal would be this time of night; probably up in her room playing with dolls or pining over that boy from the archery tournament.” An interesting expression emerged as he considered mentioning Violet as well, but given the content of some of what he was able to overhear during the argument earlier he decided to simply not. “As for you…I do not know who you are or what you want, but I know that if you come with me perhaps we can search for my room together?”

Charlotte’s face reddened as a multitude of feelings engulfed her, the most prominent being that she felt her blood might start to boil at this point. She wondered at that moment if everyone had lost their minds that night.

I think… I think I want to hit him.

Quite frankly, she wasn’t sure if she had ever had a thought like that before. After the day she had, she was simply tired of the constant turmoil.

However, she refused to give Cassius the satisfaction of knowing he had rattled her. Suppressing her rising fury, she attempted to compose herself and asked her questions with strained restraint. “... How about Violet?...Is she home?...”

However, her composure crumbled within moments of making her inquiries. Taking an assertive step forward, her eyes narrowed as the words slipped her lips,"You know what? You... You're nowhere near as charming as you seem to believe."

She had a little fire in her. Cassius liked that. He liked that a lot.

Cas watched as she squirmed a bit. It was as though she didn’t know how to take what he had just suggested. It was fun to watch her barely keep from falling to pieces, but he was proud of her effort. For a moment, the girl held herself together and even managed to inquire about Violet. Perhaps it’s safe to discuss her after all. Just as he was about to answer her inquiry, the woman lost her composure. A mischievous smile curled across his face gleefully from the small victory, and he did not budge an inch as she closed the distance between them.

Her claim that he wasn’t as charming as he thought he was could very well be true. But at the end of the day, he was always just charming enough.

“Well well…you just couldn’t resist getting a little bit closer could you? Hide behind that fire all you want, sweetheart. I see you. I see the desire in those sad eyes of yours. You’ll be begging for me in no time.” As he spoke, Cassius bent slowly to bridge the gap between their height differences. By the end, he was close enough to smell the sweetness of her perfume. “But I’m not adverse to a little patience. We’ll see how long this little game lasts, and when you’re ready to beg…we can see how long you last beneath me.” Cassius paused just long enough for his words to sink in, but he did not give her the opportunity to respond. “As for Violet…she’s upstairs in her room. Mommy and Daddy made her very angry. Perhaps she could use a friend.”

Charlotte held her ground, her anger palpable as her eyes darted across his face. She was in disbelief at the nerve of this man. For once, she decided to say exactly how she felt. Glaring up at him from below, she confronted him with growing venom in her tone,”…You mistake my repulsion for having even the slightest interest in you… The only time I’ll be anywhere near you again is in your dreams. …You’re disgusting and you should strive to not be such a vulgar jerk for a change... Maybe then you’ll have friends too.”

Practically seething, she stepped into the door frame and paused, recalling it wasn’t technically her house. She lingered there at his side, her gaze fixated forward into the foyer, finally muttering, ”…Could I go in please?”

Her aggression was a surprise, and a welcome one at that. He had seen that fire in her but had underestimated its intensity. He was impressed. Perhaps she wasn’t as meek as she first seemed. Cassius took her words in stride as though they were music to his ears. Her insults showered over him no different than the compliments of a honey-tongued princess. Love him or hate him, it mattered not. He had made his impression, and this woman would never forget his name. Even in all of her seething, he could see the desire hidden deep within her eyes.

“Oh love, keep talking dirty to me like that and I’ll give you anything you so desire.” Cassius teased as she requested to pass him. “But since you asked nicely like a good girl…and even said the magic word, go on in.” He leaned into one side of the doorway, giving her just barely enough room to step by him. “But before you go…It was a pleasure to meet you Lady Charlotte. As you said, I’ll be seeing you in my dreams. Just the same way you will be seeing me in yours.” His eyes were full of charm as they settled on hers.

She narrowed her eyes at him and took a step inside. However, his words had sunk in as the seconds ticked by and she whirled around once more with clenched fists, “The only desire you see in my eyes is the desire for you to leave me al-“ Her words broke off as Cassius suddenly reached a hand up to brush the hair in her face behind her ear.

“One more thing, love. If you’re going in…you to need to be able to see clearly.” His movement was gentle, and his expression was sweet despite all of his bravado. “There…that’s better.” His hand lingered as he smiled at her warmly.

Charlotte breathlessly stared at him, frozen in her spot momentarily. Surprise encompassed her expression briefly, then finally sadness. Head games... He is his father’s son afterall.

With a grimace, she gently batted his hand away and moved inside.

Cassius & Violet

Cassius was absolutely buzzing as the adrenaline of combat still coursed through his veins. He wanted to pursue the fleeing man and meet him with the same ending as his colleague, but he knew it would be a fool’s errand…and that the important thing at this time was making sure that the woman was alright.

He cautiously made his way over to the woman as her attacker fled, doing what he could to be gentle in his movements as to not startle her further. He took in the sight of her as she slowly made her way to her feet. The poor girl’s face was covered in blood. Cas hoped that, at the very least it was the man’s blood and not her own. The look in her eyes was vacant, and he could not help but notice the scar that decorated her face. The woman’s words filled him with a sense of gloom as she suggested that he should have let the men hurt her. With a deep breath and a look of reassurance, Cassius lowered his stance to meet her gaze.

”Listen…I don’t know you, but I don’t need to know anything about you in order to know that you’re wrong. Whatever it was that those men had in store for you, there is no reality where I should have left you to that fate.” Cassius flashed her a genuine, caring smile…his eyes full of concern and warmth. ”I know that this is a loaded question, but are you alright? Rather, are you hurt? Do we need to get you to a doctor?”

Violet's eyes scanned over the shadowed figure as he spoke. Let out a deep sigh as he showed concern for her. Truthfully she would rather not see a doctor or anyone at this point in time. She just wanted to go home, hide in her room and wait for the passing days. She did however have some very serious questions to ask her mother. Why were they so adamant about the fact that she had been killed? Clearly, she had not, she was standing here.. Breathing..living.. So why would they say that?

She pulled herself out of her thoughts long enough to speak to the man. “ My name is Lady Violet Damien.” She said her voice was still stone cold. “ I am fine..” she actually felt better than she had prior to the attack strangely enough. “I was heading to find my carriage, if you could possibly help me my vision is quite poor. Im blind. I also lost my cane at some point…” Her voice seemed to drop into a defeated tone. “Your name Sir? I suppose I should thank you for helping me.”

“My name is Lady Violet Damien”… Cassius’ expression changed from one of concern to one of disbelief as he processed the woman’s words. It was almost comical after everything else that had transpired today. Another Damien. A sly, crooked smile curled across his face but the warmth and kindness remained. He took a step back to really take in this Lady Violet Damien, trying to gauge the familial resemblance. It was a bit difficult seeing as she was covered in blood…but perhaps that was its own telltale sign of the Damien family.

He considered just coming out with the fact that he was her long, lost kin…but honestly it seemed like too much all at once for the poor woman. After all that had just transpired, he figured the last thing she needed was even more life altering information. So, he decided to keep things close to his chest for now. He did, however, plan to help her get home safely.

“It is lovely to make your acquaintance, Lady Violet. Of course, I wish the circumstances had been different, but at least you are safe.” Cassius began to look around the area for Violet’s cane, searching as he spoke. “Truly, this is a strange world we live in my lady. I’m not one to put all of my eggs in the basket of fate, but I’ll admit that I’m grateful for whatever force it was that led me to this park on this night.” Finally, he found the cane hidden amongst the broken branches and tall grass. Taking it in his hand, he walked over and presented it to Violet. “And as for me…My name is Cassius Vael. It would be my honor to escort you home. You’ll probably find this hard to believe, but I was just about to go meet with the Count as it were. Coincidences are always interesting, are they not?”

Violet reached out for her cane, her hand moving around to find the object as Cassius moved it closer to her. She gripped onto it grateful for the returned support as she leaned against it while standing in the middle of the blood-soaked dirt they had tumbled into.

Violet did notice her legs were feeling better, they felt stronger. It didn’t quite make sense to her considering the fact that just moments before the attack she was struggling at taking steps to begin with.

Once she got her balance back Violet couldn’t help but feel strange towards this man. Why would some stranger kill a man who was trying to harm a woman and not require anything in return? He also somehow had a planned meeting with her father and chalked it up to a coincidence. She wasn’t buying it.

“ I do find it hard to believe Sir Vael. Call me old fashion but an attempt on my life followed by a random person who coincidentally finds me in the woods and happens to be visiting my father.” Violet said between gritted teeth as she felt her hand trip onto her cane tighter than before.

It was then that she heard some panicked feet run toward her location, she could hear at least 4 sets of feet hitting the pavement as the sounds of rustling bushes and clanking metal echoed around her. “ Halt!” shouted a deep voice as the sounds of a sword unsheathing could be heard.

Violet looked around slightly confused as two men came up behind Cassius wrapping each of him arms with theirs pulling him behind his back as the two armored knights held Cassius in a tight hold

“ M’lady, We were following you as instructed by your parents. We lost sight of you and tracked some footsteps heading this direction. “ The guard looked down at the nearly decapitated man at Cassius' feet, “ Are you alright?”the concerned guard asked as he placed a hand on Violet's shoulder.

“Yes , thank you. Two men tried to attack me, taking me out of the park. “ she paused leaving out the part of the man across from her assisting her. “ I must have bit my lip as I felt a bunch of blood around my chin but other then that I am alright”

The guard let out a heavy sigh of relief. Her father would still be very displeased with them, especially in the condition she was returning in. “ What do you want to be done with this man?” He asked, turning his attention to Cassius.

Violet turned her attention to the man, she kept silent as a curved smirk at the corner of her mouth slowly appeared. She lingered in the silence long enough to atleast spook him, if he was going to do anything , with the guard around perhaps he wouldn’t try something now.

“ He did nothing wrong, He actually is the reason that man is dead on the ground.” She sighed, “ He says he has a meeting with Father, Escort him there in my Carriage.” If he was lying about this meeting then she would imagine he would give in to his lie. If he happened to be telling the truth, then at least she felt safer on her trip home.

Cassius realized quickly that he was correct in not revealing his identity. In fact, perhaps he should have left the part out about meeting with the Count. Her skepticism was fair, given all that had just transpired, and just as Cas was bout to answer her and try to put her concerns at ease…the guards approached.

He stayed calm and collected as they restrained him. This wasn’t his first run-in with the law, after all. Listening to Violet explain what happened, a smug grin came across his face as Violet purposefully gave no mention of him nor the part he played in the incident. He respected what she was doing. He could tell that she was playing with him a bit, and that she was being strategic above all else. Was she actually trying to make him panic? Perhaps It was fair, given the strangeness of all that happened, for her to rather be safe than sorry in this situation. It was a good move. He was impressed.

Finally, though, she mentioned that he had done nothing wrong. His smile at her grew as she explained that perhaps the guards should escort him to the Damien estate. Again, he respected the move. He was relieved that she hadn’t fully thrown him under the carriage, but seeing her renewed self-preservation was honestly nice after she had just moments ago suggested that he should have left her to die. Something about her seemed stronger, more capable, and less frail than when he had initially found her. If this strange yet impressive woman really was his sister, he looked forward to getting to know her more.

But for now, an escort under the watchful eye of her guards would simply have to suffice. “Shall we then?” Cassius asked, slightly pulling against the guard’s grasp in the direction that they came from.

Cassius was purposefully quiet during the ride back to the Damien estate. For most of the trip, he replayed the battle in his mind. The glory of it all. His opponent thought he was a bad, bad man…Cas proved him wrong. He reveled in the victory, and only wished he could have fell the other thug as well. That man escaping was going to come back to haunt them, he was sure of it.

He remembered how frail Lady Violet seemed the moment he found her. Compared to now, she was like a completely different person. *Was she pretending to be afraid? Was there something that he missed?* He pondered her odd behavior and sudden change. Either way, she had been impressive.

He spent the rest of the trip toying with one Violet’s guards, giving them his best *kiss me* eyes and seductive grin. Something about being a menace was just…so…much…fun.

It was not long before the two were inside the carriage, and even sooner that they were pulling before the Damien Estate. Past the iron gates and inside the grand doors of the imposing manor, Count Calbert could be found upon a stool in the foyer.

As the doors swung open, he was presented with the sight of his offspring finally returning home. He remained seated, taking a moment to absorb the scene before him. Bathed in the soft glow of moonlight, their figures appeared as silhouettes framed by the moonlight, casting elongated shadows that stretched across the checkered slate floor.

“Violet, Cassius. “ He greeted with some warmth etched in his tone despite his tense countenance. “...I see that you two have finally met.”+

Once they arrived at their destination, Cassius sauntered into his family’s home and walked straight passed his father to a nearby table where he poured himself a glass of wine. He watched curiously as Calbert and Violet talked, taking obnoxious sips from his cup.

Violet looked in the direction of Cassius “I suppose … He said he had some kind of meeting with you…” she took a few steps inside, “I will let you talk business, I’ll be heading to my room for the evening. I'm rather tired. “ Violet took a few more steps as the moon light crept over her face. The dried blood around her mouth as it had dripped down her chin and stained her lips. “ It’s been a long night,” she said softly as her eyes scanned over the tall shadowy figure, cringing at the sounds coming from Cassius. “It's clear your guest has no manners, perhaps you can teach him some while you're having your meeting,” she quipped as the sound of his sloppy obnoxious sips came from his mouth.

Calbert's scowl deepened as Cassius walked past him, but it wasn't until he caught sight of Violet's blood-covered face, now illuminated, that he abruptly stood up from his chair. “Violet. You will remain here.” He ordered sternly , “And that guest… is your brother. He’s my son from a previous marriage. His mother has passed and he will be staying with us from now on… I understand this is a lot to take in, I understand this is a lot to take in, but it is something you must come to terms with. I I expect you to present Cassius with the same love and care as you do Crystal.”

With determined steps, Calbert approached Violet and gently examined her injured face. His expression shifted to one of sadness as worry consumed him. Calbert's voice softened as he continued, his concern evident. Calbert knew it had been a bad idea for Lily to let her outside. “Are you hurt? What happened?”

Violet had no reaction to the news about Cassius, her face stayed as stone-cold as it was the first time he saw her. She couldn’t care about more family members or people to love… What did all of that matter in the end. Apparently she had died and yet no one seemed to have noticed, no one knew of her death..no one cared about her death. The real question was, why was she here…

The only one to show a remote amount of care to her was Roman and even in that situation, he had zero reason to. Yet he still did, he was kind and caring and seemed genuinely upset at her condition but her family played it off as if it was nothing.

Violet's once kind nature seemed to diminish when she wasn’t around Roman, or perhaps it was the taste of blood that caused her nature to finally come forward.

“So I suppose we will take in any mutts now,” she said “I fell and bit my lip, it was nothing,” she stated in a matter-of-fact tone. She would rather not get into the conversation with her father about the possible murderers and her supposed brother killing one of them.

It would just be another thing her father would sweep under the rug anyways.

”Mutts? Violet. He is my blood.” He gently wiped blood off her face with his hand and showed it to her. “Same as mine, see? …Blood runs thicker than water and nothing can change that fact… Family will be the only ones there for you while the rest turn their backs. ” He waved a servant over and nodded to her, soundlessly gesturing to Violet. She left and returned promptly with a wet cloth.

Violets eyes narrowed in towards her fathers voice as she felt her fingers buckle into a fist. Her fingers clenching the more he spoke“ No, you only turn your back when it’s convenient. “ Her words trailed off at the end, emphasizing the word convenient.

“You have a bastard son, swept him off to the side his entire life. Casually announcing his presence to your eldest as if my entire life hasn’t been a lie. “ she shrugged her shoulders as a half grin spread on her lips. “ I guess that doesn’t matter considering how little our lives mean in the first place.” She took a step towards her dad“ So long as you and mother look good, then no one would need to find out…” she whispered softly, the tone of her voice holding a level of resentment.

Calbert looked upon her with a mix of bewilderment and fury. He had been beginning to clean her face as she had spoken, but his movements slowed to a halt. “ I did not sweep him to the side!” He retorted angrily. “Violet, his mother left me before I could even meet him…” If she had looked closely, she might have even seen tears in the corners of his eyes as he had emotionally addressed her. “I spent years looking for him…And now that he’s here I am going to give him everything I have just as I have given to you and Crystal… Forgive me for getting vexed with you but I just do not understand how you could feel I don’t love you more than anything in this world!”

“Love…” she huffed at the word as it left his mouth. “Very convenient once again…” she took a step back away from him. “How did I die…Father?” she asked plainly, seeing if she would omit to know. If what those men said was true, this was going to be an interesting evening.

Calbert’s lips parted in surprise. “W-What? … You didn’t. Your mother told me it had all been a mistake…” As the man had spoken the words, he had realized how ridiculous they had sounded as he stared straight at the scar across her face. His eyes narrowed thoughtfully as he considered the prior interaction with his wife. As soon as I had drank the water, I felt so calm… All my worries had dissipated… But I was right.

He suddenly sighed deeply and brushed hair lovingly from his daughter’s face. Without turning around, he said, “Liliane… Do come out now and tell us the truth.”

A beautiful blonde woman emerged from the shadows of the room, gracefully moving over. She joined the two, putting her hand on Calbert’s shoulder. “ Let me take over from here, darling.” She said smoothly. The two made eye contact and she smiled up at him.

Calbert hesitated, then finally took a step back.

Liliane came to stand before her daughter, but did not move to touch her. “...Violet, if you are ready to understand what’s happened to you, I am ready to tell you everything. ” She softly spoke for only Violet and Calbert to hear from then on, explaining all that had occurred without sugarcoating any of it as it was not something that could be hidden for long even if they had tried. Calbert had listened on with a growing expression of dread.


“As long as she’s alive, there’s hope.” Lily sweetly reminded both of them , “All we need now is a cure… Until then, we shall do what must be done to keep her comfortable and that is for Violet to tell us herself.’

Violet took a step back…One foot after the other as she grew more space between her mother and father. Her red eyes widened as a shaking hand came to her mouth, the look of shock and horror painted across her entire expression as she stuttered to speak. “ Y-yo…you…” she managed to say. “How c-ccould you? “ she said to her mother with a shocked look still plastered over her face. “ Did you know any of this ? “ she asked her father, her voice cracking with pain. “ Did you okay this?”

“ No.” He softly replied somberly and met her eyes, “I thought you were dead and I was… shocked…” He drew off and then reached out a hand toward her, “But I can’t say it wasn’t the happiest moment of my life to see you alive again, Violet. I thought I had lost you…” He clenched his fists, “I will do whatever it takes to make sure it is undone and that you live as comfortably as you did.”

Lily tilted her head in confusion at Violet, “How could I save you? Is that what you are asking? ” She asked gently, “I know this must be terrifying for you, Violet, but you have a second chance at life.That is a gift most of us do not receive. Be upset at me if you must, but with time, you’ll feel closer and closer to normal.” With a smile, she added, “Perhaps even better than normal.”

Violet looked toward her father, her face softening as he spoke. He really seemed to not know anything.

Her head snapped towards her mother “ You think this is terrifying? Tell me mother, do you know what its like to die…to feel peace, to live in a state of pure happiness only to be ripped back out of it only to be met with a failing body that is blind, broken and weak. A mind that cannot remember anything prior to my death, not recognizing those who meant … mean..so much to you? No..you couldn’t. So do not tell me about what is terrifying for me. I will never be normal again, unless you can somehow provide me with a new life, with new memories and a new face. “ She took another step back away from them.

Lily was silent for a moment as Violet had finished speaking, her expression falling apart. Finally, she told her sincerely and lowly, her voice cracking as she spoke, “Violet… I’m so sorry… I was only trying to help… If those are the things you want, I can do what needs to be done to provide them to you. Whatever needs to be done, we will do… But please, don’t push me away…”

“You’ve done enough,” Violet stated before walking around her mother and up the grand stairs, to the place she originally intended. Her room.

Calbert came to stand next to his wife. He dropped a hand on her shoulder gently, “... She will need time, Lily… But I am sure she’ll come around.” He wasn’t certain himself what had been the right thing to do in the situation, but he couldn’t say he was angry about what Lily had done. He wasn’t quite angry at her for lying about it either. He would sort it all out as soon as he could speak to the man he needed to tonight.

Lily nodded and then gracefully approached Cassius after a moment. She warmly smiled at him in greeting. It wouldn’t take long for him to notice she had a rather angelic and gentle nature, evident in both her speech and movements. “I’m sorry this isn’t the welcoming you probably imagined. I’m Lily, your father’s wife… I have no wish to replace your mother, but I will be here for you from now on like one as much as I can be.” She gave him a tender hug and said, “I promise tomorrow will be a much better day… Now. Tell me. Are you hungry?”

As Lily approached him, Cassius was still reeling from what had just unfolded in front of him. In the beginning, they spoke loud enough for him to hear, and Cassius watched the back and forth as though it were the stage-play melodrama of the century. Sipping wine in between their comments, and desperately wanting to add in his own little quips and corrections. However, he remained silent. Even Cassius Vael knew when it was a poor time to interrupt…not that he always followed the notion, but the knowledge was there all the same.

Things had escalated quite a bit from there as the family quarrel continued, become much more intense and…strange. His initial assumption was that he must have simply misheard his sister. He could have sworn that she had mentioned the fact that she had died. Odd thing to say, seeing as she was standing before him very much alive if not uncanny. From there the volume of the conversation lowered, and Cassius smirked at the firm reminder that he was always just going the be the Bastard of the family after all. So, he turned his attention towards refilling his cup.

Eventually, Violet stormed off in dramatic fashion. The poor girl had been seething with rage. He hadn’t the slightest clue what all had transpired to cause her to drip with such vitriol, but one thing he did know is that type of anger rarely comes out unprovoked.

Lily’s embrace and introduction was warm and kind considering how unpleasant things had just been. Her explanation that she didn’t intend to replace his mother almost made him laugh hysterically, but he retained his mask of kindness since he could tell that she meant well. The hug was a nice touch. She seemed sweet, but he wasn’t sure yet how much of that was a mask as well. Cas found her offer of a meal to be rather enticing. Much had transpired today, perhaps too much honestly, and he had enjoyed plenty of drinks but certainly not enough food.

“It’s lovely to make your acquaintance, Lily. You have a beautiful home and a…lively family.” He couldn’t help himself with the last bit. He had done so well to hold his tongue, but even he had his limits. “I very much look forward to getting to know you all.” A kind smile dominated his expression as he continued. “And yes actually…I am rather starved I must admit. It’s been a long day.”

“Aren’t you a charmer? So sweet.” Lily smiled at him and gave him an affectionate shoulder rub, “Alright sweetie. I'll make sure our staff and I fix you something delicious… No Damien shall go hungry in this house!” With that, the blonde woman left Cassius alone with his father.

Calbert cleared his throat and came to stand by Cassius. “ Are you alright? … Thank you for bringing Violet home.“

Cassius watched Lily leave the room, his eyes still trying to read her true nature. He then turned his attention to father dearest, pondering his words for a moment before responding.

“Yes, father. I am indeed alright. This has perhaps been the oddest day of my entire life, but life is strange and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.” His expression was more serious than it had been with Lily. Looking at his father was almost like looking into a broken mirror. He could see himself in the man’s face, but not wholly. It unsettled him more than he had expected. “It was no problem, though. I’m simply glad to have gotten the chance to meet Violet and escort her home safely. We had great conversations along the way as well. Bright girl, that one.” He took a long sip of his wine. “Perhaps some rest will bring her a bit of peace.”

“She is very smart. Some rest will do us all some good. Tomorrow is a new day.” Calbert agreed with his son. After a weary sigh, he then added,
” Cassius…You must be careful in Sorian. People are different here… Selfish and sometimes even cruel. Wandering about as you have been all day is unsafe. Please allow me to give you guards moving forward and to keep me looped in where you’re going… I understand this is asking a lot since we’ve only met, but it would hurt me if anything happened to you. You’re a lord now. I will formally introduce you tomorrow… Alright? “

Cas’ instinct was to disregard what the man was saying entirely. Father or not, being told how to go about his business rarely sat well with Cassius. He was not the type to inform anyone of his whereabouts or be escorted by guards like some snotty aristocrat afraid of the masses. He was a man of the people, and first and foremost he held onto his personal freedoms tightly. However, he was willing to let things play out and at the very least tell the Count what he wanted to hear. Calbert’s final comment, however, left him speechless.

Technically, he knew that being the Count’s son made him a Lord. However, he had not assumed that the man would make a public display of things. Being a bastard, he had accepted that he was going to kind of be in a separate lane as the rest of the Damiens…and to be fair that had sounded ideal to him. The thought of being officially inducted into their family was an unexpected one to say the least. He studied Calbert’s face again, a look of curiousness in his eyes.

“Tomorrow?” He asked forwardly. “Just like that? You’re not even going to wait and see if I’m compatible with your Noble image? Could be a reckless move...And I did not peg you as a reckless man.”

Calbert stared at him, genuinely perplexed by his words. “ You are my son. Whatever image you choose to present yourself as will not change that. I will never outcast you from this family.” He then gave him a small smile. “ Let’s do this, shall we? ... Tomorrow let’s discuss and you can tell me everything there is to know about you… Well negotiate like the grown men we are and figure things out together… Just know that I can offer an opportunity for power beyond your imagination, Cassius. You will soon see why the name Damien lights up the eyes of all throughout Caesonia.”

With a grin, he bowed his head,
“ I have somewhere I must be… Chin up, my son. A life of winning awaits you. Lily will show you your options of bedrooms tonight.”

Cassius did not speak in response to any of what his father had just told him. He did not have the words to express the overwhelming surge of thoughts and feelings storming in his mind. Instead, he played it coy, and raised his glass in a toast to his father’s words.

An opportunity for power beyond his imagination…that’s what Calbert had said. Cassius had always had something inside of him that wanted more. Something that wanted everything. He had been born with it. Despite his intentions to simply see and feel the beauty of the world in his own indulgent ways, that desire for more occasionally bubbled at his surface. He held it at bay, but it was always there hidden just below his scar covered being. His father’s words ignited that desire brighter than perhaps it had ever been, and his imagination began to run wild. Not many things were beyond his ability to imagine.

As his father left his side, he was all alone in the Damien estate for the very first time. He took in the place properly as he walked around the room, eventually circling back to the wine and pouring himself another drink. His brain was riddled with all of the thoughts and possibilities as he continued to consider his father’s words. He had expected to come here and shock the system, but in reality it was he who had been jarred.

Time: 12 Days Ago
Location: On The Road to Sorian
Interaction: N/A

The moonlight from above reflected in the sanguine puddle that was spreading across the dirt road. The only sounds that could be heard were that of the wind and the occasional, labored breaths of the man lying in the shallow pool of crimson. The man’s breaths grew fewer and farther between as each exhale threatened to be his last. His eyes were still open…staring at the sky above with tears pouring down the sides of his head and onto the dirt below. Words were beyond him now as he was fading by the second. From a few feet away, a third sound emerged; the sound of a song.

“May your dreams bring you peace in the darkness… May you always rise over the rain… May the light from above, always lead you to love… May you stay in the arms of the angels.”

The singing man’s face was being obscured by the shadows cast in the moonlight, but his voice rang out in the night confidently. It wasn’t a perfect singing voice, but it was beautiful all the same. In the man’s hands there was an ax covered in blood. As he sang his mother’s song he began to clean the blood off of his weapon with a burlap rag…taking slow steps towards the bleeding man as he did so. His singing continued.

“May you always be brave in the shadows… 'Til the sun shines upon you again… Hear this prayer in my heart, and we'll ne'er be apart… May you stay in the arms of the angels”

Kneeling down at the dying man’s side, Cassius placed the bloody rag on the man’s chest as he finished the song and then fastened his ax back to his belt.

“My mother would sing me that song when I was scared.” Looking down at the man, he smiled genuinely at the man lying in a pool of his own blood.

“I imagine that in this moment you are rather scared yourself.” Cassius reached down and wiped the tears from the man’s eyes.

“Just remember, stranger… You chose this. You and your friends made a choice when you robbed this caravan. You made a choice when you threatened that little girl. Now, the caravan is back on its way and your friends aren’t with us anymore.” He breaks eye contact with the man long enough to look around the road at the three other bodies lying still in their own bloody puddles.

“It’s just you and me now, stranger. Time to live with the choices you made while you can… Because I’m afraid there’s not much time for you left.” He smirks. “I saw to that myself.” Cassius lies down next to the him, not concerned with the fact that the man’s blood is now staining his clothes. “There are worse final sights than the stars and the moon…that’s for sure. You know, you might not think so but you are the lucky one here. You get to die and see what happens next. I, however, have far too much left to do in this broken world to die now. I’m just getting started.”
© 2007-2023
BBCode Cheatsheet