Status

Recent Statuses

11 days ago
Current Hope everyone who is still going into work is staying healthy!
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3 mos ago
Happy New Year!
4 mos ago
On my home today finally =)
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4 mos ago
Heading to bed and then starting my trip to Orlando tomorrow. Will be on during my trip when able!
1 like
4 mos ago
Cold came back with a vengeance and have been crazy busy. Posts tomorrow!

Bio

About Me:
I'm in my mid-30s, happily married with two young children. I've been role-playing since I was 14 years old, starting with AOL chatrooms and instant messenger (the dark days), before graduating to IRC, Gaia, RPNation, and then this website. When not roleplaying I am a GM of a raiding guild on Stormrage server, play on a couple breedable websites, listen to Kpop, consume small amounts of more adult-oriented anime, manga, TV shows (sci fi, fantasy, drama, Korean), and binge on romance.

I'd love to get to know other RP folks, especially if you're my age!

What I like/want in RPs:
Romance (necessity, I respect not everyone likes it)
At least 2 paragraphs per post
Sci Fi, (High, Low, Urban) Fantasy, Futuristic, Supernatural, some modern or psuedo-historical
Someone who plays male characters
Plots that allow me not to have to write realistic melee action (but I love to read it!)
Characters 18+
Players 18+
Intrigue/mystery in a story
Cooperative world building

What I don't like:
Players under 18
Children or teenage characters
Western or prehistoric settings
Plots with only action
Almost all furry/anthro pairings
G-rated romance

Message me if you think we'd be good RP partners for each other! Please note I do require romance, though I certainly do NOT want that to be the summation of the story. I also adore romances that have conflict and disagreement just like actual real relationships have. Some mundanes/players believe that all love stories develop "organically" in the story- but my real life experience has taught me you can have no chemistry with someone that would be great for you, all the chemistry in the world for someone you never thought you'd like, and romance is not 'organic' and predictable in practice. As a mundane/player we make the decision for romance because, quite frankly, we aren't the characters no matter how alive they might feel. They don't truly exist physically to have chemistry. If you feel differently we will not be a good fit for each other.

Additionally, I require players separate themselves from this characters. This should go without saying, but just because we write a romance together does not mean there are real feelings beneath. I am truly happily married. Please, please, please don't expect any fiction to translate into real life.

Most Recent Posts

"Mon," Rhiane began, her voice containing that sweetly dangerous edge Luke had heard a few times now. In private the princess elect was unafraid of revealing her wrath when sufficiently provoked. In public she attempted to retain her composure, not just at press events, but also when in the presence of others to whom she was not related. With the masses she was charming, kind, empathetic, and understanding, but with the nobility that tested her patience she was far more cunning and manipulative. Just like the aristocrats of their prior stop, Mon underestimated the danger lurking beneath a pretty smile. "Just because you are compensating for your size is no reason to be rude," she chastised casually.

The eruptions of laughter before did not compare to the roar of the peasants within hearing rang of the shot Rhiane figuratively fired. Virtually no man could endure an insult of their genitalia, but Mon had been painted into a corner. Clearly he could not expose himself in the middle of the restaurant, and if he tried to protest her assessment, he'd have to concede they slept together, which would only lead everyone to more firmly believe her opinion over his, taking the opportunity to ridicule him for what they would almost universally think to lies to save face. The tall man turned red and sputtered, stunned and shocked into temporary silence, while Terzo cast a nervous glance in Luke's direction. Everyone else was enjoying the joke, but to the owner of the only bed and breakfast in town, he suspected that the prince would not enjoy the raunchy humor nor the reminder that his betrothed had a past.

Rhiane knew that her fiance was disapproving at best of her sexual history and exploits. Hypocritically, his conquests had been splashed in the headlines frequently enough they had been unavoidable. Were she to assume that half of his dalliances were lies, she had to take into consideration others were discreet enough to avoid detection, and that left him with just as many or more indiscretions. If she could tolerate one of his ex-lovers being assigned their image manager, boldly flirting with him as if she did not exist, surely Luke could find the fortitude to endure the occasional allusion to her sordid adventures. Unlike her paramour, not once had the brunette ever entertained the notion of having a relationship with her 'partners.'

"If you're done, Terzo was mentioning to me that some of my old friends were looking for advise for their farms," she said with a gesture towards the tiny crowd behind him. Rhiane had always intended to help out if possible, but now she was strategically motivating everyone to keep Mon under control. If he did not behave there was the implication that she would withhold her assistance, giving them all the incentive they needed to 'pick a side' and chastise him for jeopardizing something they sorely needed. Mon himself seemed to realize the position he was in, a potential obstruction, and stepped back with a slightly defeated and sullen expression. The future king and queen did not need to threaten him; any one of the business's patrons would do nearly anything in their power to remain in the latter's good graces.

"You'll really help?" one of them asked as he moved forward. The man in question speaking was younger than them both, barely an adult himself, but just as stocky as the rest. In the rural parts of the country where the common trades were labor, it was easy to age the common folk by how weathered or tanned their face was by the sun and how many callouses were on their hands. For someone like Rhiane, who had the 'fortunate' circumstances to spend a great deal of time indoors tending to domestic and administrative responsibilities, there was less of the telling dark, damaged skin. The stranger's face was cautiously hopeful and innocent, a contrast to his surly companions.

"If you let my date eat in peace and don't bother him," she agreed, reasoning that it was her only hope to keep them from teasing him, prodding him into conversations he'd rather not have, or inciting an argument. Rhiane was powerless to keep them incognito, but she could mitigate how obnoxious they were to Luke. Neither Terzo nor the crown prince could have dispersed the gathering for the rest of the evening without someone being the 'bad guy.' Besides, if she was completely honest with herself she would admit that she liked hearing she was needed or wanted. Two weeks in her role as show pony for the monarchy was not as fulfilling as feeling individually appreciated for her abilities.

"Why did you come here?" an older, dark-haired man asked. "You could eat anywhere you want now that you're rich," he pointed out.

"My dad and brother deserve a treat, and it'd be a travesty to take my husband-to-be to one of the joints in the city when there's such good food and smiling faces here," Rhiane joked. "Everyone deserves to come back home at least once, don't you think? It's a good thing I came too, since you're all shit at running a business!" It was a light jab that made some smile and some laugh, but it wasn't untrue. Most of them were excellent with seeding a field, growing crops, and efficiently harvesting, but making the operation profitable, while avoiding common pitfalls of contracts, was another thing entirely. Very few had a higher education, the resources, or the talent to navigate the nuances of running their businesses as she had.
"It's a good thing she doesn't use that technique on you," Terzo observed, glancing at Rhiane with a bemused expression. "It's unnerving to watch, like a predator stalking their prey. Worst part is there are enough misogynistic idiots around here that you can give them as many warnings you want that she's gonna strike and devour them whole, and they wouldn't even listen." He shook his head sadly as if they were speaking of the dearly departed rather than the unfortunate souls that paid a financial price for underestimating the princess elect. Briefly she had alluded to a lack of equality between the genders when it came to particular trades, such as farming. Not many woman chose to try to match their male counterparts regardless of the opportunities available. Those who did not stay home to tend to domestic duties and raise children would instead be teachers, factory workers, waitresses, or the like. As a result of this rarity, it was easy to imagine how Rhiane might play to their expectations and biases to her advantage.

For her part, the brunette gave an exaggerated roll of her eyes at their accusations, though she knew better than to try to claim they weren't true. She was inordinately stubborn. While it would have been convenient to argue that the prince himself was just as difficult when they came to an impasse, she was in a good enough mood to let it slide. Terzo was a nice enough man, but she didn't want to confide in him the flaws of her beau or paint him in a negative light; it would sour Luke's mood, it could backfire on her spectacularly, and it could create another argument during this period of relative peace.

On the topic of sweets Rhiane did elect to speak up. "It's harder to have treats in this town," she pointed out in her own defense. "With those knuckleheads," she continued with a gesture towards her father, brother, and his partner, "money had to be spent on supplies, equipment repairs, paying off past debts, and the necessities. I didn't exactly have the funds to be eating as much cake as I'd like." And it was true. The noodles were inexpensive comparatively because they functioned as a full meal, whereas cookies, cannolis, candy, and the like had a higher price and could not be justified as something required.

"You ought to take her to the bakery while you're in town," Terzo suggested. "I doubt it measures up to the palace, but it might be the first time she'll have had a chance to buy anything she wants. Assuming they'll let you have that much sugar. Rumor is high ladies are supposed to be on diets," he added candidly.

"We don't have to," Rhiane countered quickly, putting her arm on Luke's again. It wasn't a declaration she didn't want to, but that they didn't have to, her word choice speaking more loudly than the words themselves. More than once she had actively tried to dissuade her fiance from being obligated to bend to her desires. Willful and proud as she was, most of her demands centered on philosophy and strategy rather than trying to reap favors from winning the contest. If anything, she avoided it more than anyone had expected. Rhiane had not demanded designer clothing, better linens, bigger accommodations, or an allowance to make personal purchases. All the gifts acquired on the tour had been for other people rather than herself.

"First lesson in keeping a happy wife," Terzo said as he leaned in conspiratorially, his tone hushed but purposefully loud enough for Rhiane to hear, "they don't always ask for what they really want, even someone like Rhiane. Every birthday and Yule I have to spend what feels like hours helping Hubert find her a present since she would tell him she didn't want anything," he sighed as Rhiane started to twinge pink in embarrassment.

Mercifully the noodles arrived in short order. It had been a long time since the princess elect had eaten so much food. Her days managing the Black family farm had been much more physically taxing due to the amount of chores she had to perform that were labor. It was easier to work up a ravenous appetite when she was shoveling, digging, or hauling, than when she was speaking, shaking hands, or waving. Jokes about the capital aside, she had eaten less since she had entered the contest, both because they had restrictions meant to keep them ridiculously slender, and also because nothing had been as grueling as dragging bales of hay to the bed of a truck and throwing onto the bed. There was something sinful about devouring such a huge plate when she knew that their entourage would be opposed, if not horrified, and she didn't have an excuse of endless hunger.

First Rhiane and Terzo laughed as Luke slammed down his mug, coughed, and questioned them about the poisonous liquor. They were not laughing at him, but at the label he was applying to the local alcohol, one they had heard many times before. "I tried to warn you," Rhiane said as she watched Terzo take a couple generous gulps and chuckle to himself. "It's not for everyone. Like I've said, the days are long and hard, and you build up a tolerance to beer, so we've... learned to brew something stronger," she admitted, "but it is a little bit like poison, I suppose. It's definitely not good for you. I can order you something else. Milk takes off the edge of the peppers," she offered.

"It's just a matter of time before that lot talking to your dad and brother realize you're here," Terzo pointed out to Rhiane as they heard laughter erupt from the nearby crowd as they listened to some tall tale being spun by a middle-aged gentleman. "Do you want me to be the bad guy and send them away? Most of them have been sorely missing your advice, not just with crops, but accounting too. It'd help them a lot if you gave them your input, but if you came here to unwind, I can scare them off," he added, wanting to give them a choice before their time ran out and the tiny mob migrated to their corner of the establishment.
"Do you really think they might attack here?" Rosaria asked Solae and Rene once she was certain they had been left by their Kalderi hosts to converse privately. She was so used to the tactics employed by Thorne that she had not yet escaped the mentality that someone was always working an angle to their benefit. That she was even questioning the diplomat and soldier was a testament to the effect their character was having, however; in the past she would have assumed she was correct, but because she viewed them as people of higher integrity, she was torn between what she knew and what she hoped to believe.

"Like Rene said, I don't know, but he's right about the pirates. I still hope they help us," she clarified, "and the greater empire as a whole. With their support we could not just win a war but stabilize our government. Forging diplomatic relations would reflect positively upon the empress, and it would empower her, as well as give her good reason, to grant more rights and freedom to the Syshin as another alien race we share the universe with. They are lofty dreams but.. we have a responsibility to warn them about Tan regardless. We warned the empress of his treachery, and we'll continue to warn anyone and everyone else we can, and pray to the cosmos that it will save lives." Solae sank back her in her chair as her last sentence seeped into her mind. New Concordia had not published the true death toll when they left. With his propaganda firmly in place, he had guaranteed the numbers could be whatever he wished, but now she pondered how many he would ruthlessly sacrifice in his campaign. Historically periods of civil unrest had culminated in mass graves and obfuscated data as to the real toll.

"Miss Solae," Yarue interjected, looking at her evenly from over her plate. His expression was, as far as a human could discern on any Syshin's features, pensive and thoughtful. "You are familiar with our customs, yes?" he inquired, already knowing her response, but needing to pave the way for what he was about to propose. Dasin bobbed his head slightly in silent agreement of whatever it was they were on the precipice of unveiling.

"I am, Yarue. Is there something troubling you?" the duchess replied quizzically.

"Then you know that our people lead in pairs. Many lead with their birthmate, but when they separate for a long time, a bond may form between others, friends or mated couples. Your people lead by one, but you are better when you lead as two. The Syshin would trust you more if you tried to lead them as two, not one," he suggested in slightly halting common tongue.

It took a moment for her to fully realize what he was trying to impart. By Syshin tradition, they always lead in pairs, and in the case of the settlement on New Concordia, they were twins. From her reading she knew that was not always the case. Forced estrangement or death could result in one twin finding someone else to bond with in the same capacity, and if one became a leader, the other did as was functionally needed. Romantic pairs sometimes became leaders as the case arose; in fact, couples who outlived their twins would become such a tight-knit unit that there was not a human adaptation of the relationship, for that deep understanding, and the best of linguists were unable to translate the concept properly. What the guards were trying to relay was that presenting Solae as the aristocrat and Rene as her attache did them a disservice if they wanted to appeal to the Syshin and, perhaps, the Kalderi. Before the Syshin they would have to be peers, independent and dependent, of equal voice and power, or else there would be cultural barriers.

Comically neither Solae nor Rene seemed particularly inclined to lead. Solae was doing so because she must to achieve her goals, because she was available and fit for the duty, because it had been thrust upon her. Rene seemed to be even more reluctant to assume a mantle of status. Both of them had spent such a long time feeling distant to the power they now wielded it undoubtedly felt nearly blasphemous. Temptation lingered to shuck it all and try to return to a simpler time.
In The Betrothed 10 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
"You want... the usual as well?" the waitress said, blanching slightly. Piero was taking this visit in stride, but she was much more nervous about serving the heir to the throne something prepared in their tiny kitchen. The girl was a few years younger than Rhiane; old enough to be aware of the vast chasm between their social strata, yet not of sufficient age and experience to be jaded or cynical. She resided somewhere between idyllic fantasies and subdued realistic expectations.

"The usual, but mine without the alcohol tonight. I won't leave Sebastian to be the only one of us sober," Rhiane replied with a wink, deflecting any suspicion about the reason she was declining. At some point she and Luke would need to have a serious discussion about where this physical relationship was taking them. Unfortunately, given how much they argued, nothing short of a perfect day would facilitate a calm, rational conversation about where they stood emotionally and that their future would require them to be parents. Queen Camilla was waging a war against a negative perception of the royal family. If she truly wished to turn the skeptics into believers, and to secure her lineage before the rebellion gained more momentum, she would do everything in her power to convince them to keep any pregnancy that occurred. A potential child would be both a distraction and a cause for celebration. Undoubtedly the monarch would also prefer to expedite the princess elect fulfilling her role to be rid of her that much more quickly as well.

"That is very kind of you, but it's not necessary," Terzo smiled, not wanting Luke to think that, as a wealthy man, he was obligated to pay for the poorer man's meal. By the town's standards, Terzo was a financial success. More months than not he turned a profit. Since Rhiane won the contest there had been a burst of tourism that made his bed and breakfast significantly more popular. Turning towards the waitress, Terzo flashed a grin. "Another pint, would you?"

After the waitress shuffled off Rhiane, pushing her hair behind her shoulders, leaned back in her chair. "Terzo went to school with Gerard, a few years above him I think? After Mom and Edwin passed, he helped me get sorted with some of the local vendors. Don't let him fool you, he can be a stubborn mule when he negotiates, I'm just better at knowing when to push and pull then he is."

Terzo snorted in a half-laugh and shrugged his shoulders. "That might be true, but I've seen you feign being a hapless, innocent damsel to get a better price, and that's a harder sell for someone like me." The words were a critique but he said them lightly, as a praise rather than a scolding, and in the good-natured tone he had used before. Despite Luke's misgivings, this individual was akin to a more distant older brother figure in Rhiane's life rather than a love prospect. Whatever romantic interest they had for one another faded years before the present, as was evidenced by the fact that Terzo was happily wed and did not so much as glance below his female companion's face.

"I'm certain I don't know what you're talking about," Rhiane said in mocking objection. Turning towards her fiance, she put her hand on his arm casually. "Do you want anything to drink? The standard fare here is liquor that the farmers distill themselves. It's quite a bit stronger than anything you're used to, but if you want to try it, I'll order it for you. There is also beer and wine, just not as refined as you'd have in the capitol," she explained generously.

"Rhiane's usual is a huge plate of noodles that I've seen grown men not finish, fair warning," Terzo commented good-naturedly, "and the sauce packs quite a bit of heat. Piero gets fresh peppers daily, some of them from people in this room. She's either eating something so hot or spicy it'll burn off your tongue or layers of sugar so sweet you'll rot your teeth, but not much between those extremes," the older gentleman observed. "Only things she orders here!"

"That's not true," Rhiane protested, "I eat other things," she added, though she didn't volunteer the names of any. The allegation had been too accurate for her to completely deny.
In The Betrothed 13 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
"You've nothing to worry about Nolan," Rhiane reassured. "I grew up with two elder brothers. They made sure I would be able to defend myself. If anyone has any doubt what Luke might or might do, they know what I can and will do if they don't mind themselves." She flashed a dazzling smile. There had been an investigation into her past when she was but a mere princess candidate, but no one had been willing to disclose more than was absolutely necessary. The palace, and by extension the public, had not a shred of evidence that she had engaged in the unladylike behavior that was reality. More than once she had thrown a punch and broken a nose, defended another patron in a brawl, or exchanged some particularly vulgar words in a heated argument. Her town had not betrayed her. They loathed the scrutiny of public officials, distrusted outsiders, and sincerely wanted one of their own to be elevated to a higher standing. Perhaps they could not live a dream, but Rhiane could, and so they conveniently forgot tales that would be received in a positive light.

"Be careful," Tobias warned, watching with apprehension as the prince and his betrothed climbed out of the vehicle. He disapproved of this plan even more than the other bodyguard. Despite what his cousin thought, he did not hate him. He wanted Luke to be more than he was, but he didn't want to see him dead, only for the monarchy to adapt or fall so that the common folk could be liberated. The co-mingled concern for his relative and a woman he cared for deeply had him more scared for them than he had felt in years, perhaps ever. Inside this unassuming, quaint, rural municipality, there were still threats to their reputation and livelihood.

"You too," Rhiane said as she bounced out of the vehicle with a wide smile. "I'm sure Anelle will be calling you both when she can't reach Luke about the change in schedule. Good luck!" She swore she heard grumbling as she closed the door behind him.

Piero's bar was an old-fashioned building built sometime shortly after the cataclysmic event that shattered the old world. A sign outside proclaimed the name of the establishment to be The Long Night. Gerard, Sebastian, and Hubert had already gone inside, secured a table, and were surrounded by a group of individuals- but not all. The right side of the room did not seem to care about the Black family or recent news of a royal visit. Some were clearly on dates, one group of bachelors were having a raucous discussion about sports, and there was a woman in a corner sobbing about a recent romantic relationship turned sour while friends consoled her. Singles drank and dined at the wooden bar in the center of the room, reading off their devices, speaking to one another, or watching one of the two flat screens showing broadcast of a sports game and a popular long-running game show.

"I told you it'd be fine," she whispered as she took Luke's hand and started to lead him to a table where they could sit.

As they began to pass Gerard, Sebastian, and Hubert, they could not help but overhear the topic of conversation, which had nothing to do with the heir to the throne, the tour, or the upcoming nuptials. There were congratulations and questions about the upgrades that were finally underway and good-natured jokes about asking the recently rich for loans. Historically the immediate family members of the elect that wed into New Rome's sovereignty would themselves become lords and ladies of minor renown. That neither Hubert nor Gerard asked for as much spoke to their feelings more than any other action they could take. The masses speculated as to their reasoning, thinking them humble, or content with farming, or afraid of the spotlight, but it was because they could not endorse the current state of society. No one seriously would take advantage of the Black family, not here, nor would they accuse them of turning their backs on the less fortunate. This was a place of safety and acceptance.

"Ahhh, I wondered when you might come in here," a man approximately a decade older than the pair said as he approached. He wore black slacks and a button-up white shirt rolled up to the elbows. Unlike the other customers, his hands were not nearly as heavily calloused, and his skin was not deeply tanned. If one was to wager a guess, he was of low birth but did not labor in the sun as so many of his peers did. "Am I allowed to buy you two a drink? You have my condolences," he said with a bow to Luke. It was not a bow of reverence, but a small, teasing gesture, accentuated by the grin on his lips. "A woman with the most pig-headed brother is able to inherit three younger siblings, and a man with three younger siblings is about to have the most difficult brother-in-law imaginable. I don't envy either of you. Every day I thank the stars my wife is an only child."

"I think you thank your stars every day that your wife likes to clean," Rhiane observed aloud. "Luke, this is Terzo, he runs a Bed and Breakfast, but his wife hates alcohol, so he comes here to get his fix."

"Since you left no one's been able to help me in twisting Mario's arm for getting a better price on things," Terzo sighed. "A lot of people have missed you and your negotiating power. It is nice to meet you, Luke," the man greeted, extending his hand. He was not treating the crown prince any differently than any other boyfriend to an acquaintance. Polite, but casual, amiable, but not pushy, he was what Rhiane had promised Luke other people could be if he could find the right ones to give a chance to get to know him.
In The Betrothed 18 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
Rhiane cast a glance at Luke as he suggested she was 'eager' to meet her exes, then chased it with an insincere offer to stay behind and a thinly veiled accusation she might use the time to 'rekindle old flames.' It was strange to hear the jealousy in his tone. For as possessive as we was in Tobias's presence- unnecessarily so- he had failed to make any emotional confession of feelings. She was the one who had declared she wanted him, but he did not reciprocate this vocally at the time, and still had not. Anelle was the closest he had come to admitting anything, and that was only in that he rebuffed the other woman's overt flirting, reassuring her that his fling with the image manager was in the past. The crown prince wanted her eyes to remain affixed on him and him only, and acted with romantic attachment, but would not put into words that thoughts that traveled through his mind. If pressured by Gerard, she wouldn't be able to say with certainty that he wouldn't lose interest, that he wouldn't return to his playboy ways, that his infatuation was not manufactured by convenience alone.

Certainly the fact she was being compensated for being his betrothed soured his view of their situation. No one liked to think money had to be exchanged for someone to agree to be their partner. As unpalatable as the notion was, even more so was the knowledge he was with her by force, that he had to be implanted with a device to keep him close initially. Rhiane had put faith in an individual that loathed her low birth, that insulted her peers, and continued to deny that the death of her mother and brother had been at all preventable. She ought to hate him just as much, if not more, than he despised her, but she had managed to bridge the divide. Until he made his own figurative leap, it was hard to have sympathy for his plight.

"Is there something else I should flaunt?" she teased mercilessly, confident it would be weeks, months, years, if he ever conceded that their relationship was beyond a mutually beneficial physical and political arrangement. "How many at your engagement ball have you had a tryst with? If there were none, I've still met two of your exes, one of whom I have to work with, and that assumes you and Sophia are not entangled and in contact," the princess elect pointed out. "I never saw the need to sleep with a man more than a few times," she pointed out. Luke seemed to ignore her philosophy of treating intercourse like a transaction, presuming that love was unattainable, but it colored many choices in her history. "You've undoubtedly been with both those women more times than I've been with all the men you might meet tonight added together."

"I'm just looking forward to seeing people I know," she genuinely stated as she stepped forward and ran her fingers through his hair. "The people in the nobility, the palace, the staff are your people, something they never fail to let me know or feel. It's nice to have people that want to shake my hand and argue about who has the best seed for planting this year, or what methodology of irrigation is best for the crops, or if the local merchant's prices are a rip off or a sign of a turn in the economy. Hell, it's just nice to have people ask for my opinion on something without being patronizing," the former peasant sighed. Interviews centered on favorite colors, or fashion, or her engagement, not on matters of national importance. Whenever the topic landed on a difficult subject it was because she guided it in that direction, because she proactively broached it, not because anyone gave her credit for having intelligence or relevance.

Except Tobias. Tobias cared about what she thought, how she felt, what she dreamed of, what she wanted for her country. He dared to see her as more than a puppet. When he inquired about what she'd do about the rebellion, he had listened and not scoffed at her response. Had the royal cousin been heir to the throne, had he wielded power, she believed he'd still manage to involve his future wife in his affairs, appeal to her passions, and sincerely honor her. The more that Luke brought up his relative, the more she compared them, and the more she wondered what the passive, stoic, reserved bodyguard would do if they were the couple instead.

"Piero will keep us from becoming a spectacle, but I won't have him keeping everyone from saying hello. I promise not to be stolen away," Rhiane professed with an upheld hand, imitating a solemn vow. "There are plenty of people I haven't slept with and that won't be utterly starstruck."
In The Betrothed 20 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
Shrugging, Rhiane wondered if Luke really believed that if she had full knowledge she would have declined entering the contest. Things had certainly taken unanticipated turns, such as the rebellion's violent faction making attempts on her life, but she did not necessarily regret her choice. Though he was inordinately stubborn, haughty, and distant, those were traits that were known by the public who didn't watch the news broadcasts. "I don't think it'd be my place to judge you for your past lovers, since I have several of my own, and other farmers would have looked down on me for being a woman even if we are both common folk," she explained. "I knew what I was getting into by having a marriage that wasn't based on a romantic ideal, you just had the best offer. Regardless of what my family thinks, I'd do it again, though I might go without the fun facts about your preferred shoe size or hair color for ladies that she couldn't help but tell me every time I tried to strike up a conversation," she groaned. It would have been harder on third place. She had firmly believed that the royal was the summation of all the information she had dug up on him, that she knew Luke on an intimate level because of her obsession, and yet the reality would have either sent her into despair or denial.

Everything was for Gerard and Hubert Black, but she worried deeply for how scarred they'd be at her inevitable demise. She could barely bring herself to enter Edwin's room years after her death. The future waiting for her was one where she was buried beside her mother and second-eldest brother, where they had another room they could not enter, another name they could barely utter, and a branch of the family that Queen Camilla would forbid them from having contact with if she was wise. Running a finger along the edge of the closet door frame she she considered that their financial salvation would crucify them emotionally. Luke wanted to keep her alive. She trusted him, perhaps foolishly, but his mother and the other nobility could not be underestimated. It was cruel of her to damn people she loved because she could not bear the portrait of what middle age would bring: divorce if not murder, separation from her children, watching someone she cared for toss her away, possibly falling ill and feeling the curse of morality make her a burden on others, sucking away her slip away slowly and painfully.

If Rhiane regretted anything, it was that she had come to feel deeply for a man she couldn't have, that she let errant dreams convince her that the blissful acceptance and love her parents had could ever be hers as well.

"I can't have any alcohol since we've slept together," Rhiane told him, eyebrows raised in surprise he hadn't deduced as much. "In the unlikely event I'm pregnant, it'd risk a defect. Even if we were both absolutely certain I'm not, it'd reflect poorly on me since there's always at least a minuscule chance, and my image would tank with the media if the perception was that I was 'recklessly' getting drunk. Abstaining is safer and easier than the alternatives." She watched and waited for his reaction. Ready as she was for the challenges of children, he had been far less enthusiastic about their arrangement, and it stood to reason that he'd be apprehensive about adding to his responsibilities. He was an unapologetic playboy who had not promised monogamous commitment, he was constantly busy with the bureaucracy of New Rome, and had not reconciled her low birth being mixed with his. Deep inside she dreaded the disappointment he might express if and when her belly grew.

"If I remember correctly, you suggested the shower and bath together, and undressing in a shared room is quite normal," she protested as she watched him reach into her closet and pluck out a scarf. "When I mean to seduce a man, I'm not subtle," the princess elect truthfully proclaimed. It was an understatement. More than once she had been the aggressor in initiating a dalliance once the other party conveyed their interest. Reporters and the masses presumed her a virgin, or a modest, virtuous girl that had 'saved herself' for a special sweetheart at most, but she had romps under her belt that would make others blush, if not in their vigor than in her energetic participation. Luke had witnessed a hunger that matched his own when it came to physical exchanges.

For a moment she feigned being torn and conflicted about whether or not she wanted Tobias to be in their dinner entourage. "And how do you expect to disguise yourself so no one recognizes you? Hell, it'd be a miracle if they didn't recognize me. I've known this place my whole life and I'm probably more famous here than you are. Piero will shield his restaurant from the paparazzi, but you might have to endure some good-natured teasing and debate, I surprisingly attract it," Rhiane admitted him with faux innocence. "And I also can't promise we won't run into one of my one-night stands while we're out and around. Seeing as how well you conduct yourself around Tobias with all your suspicions, I'm sure that won't be a problem," she jested.

The proprietor of the modern-age tavern was a gentleman by the name of Piero Ricci, whose lineage was allegedly traced through countless generations of chef entrepreneurs. He had a soft spot for Rhiane just as he had a soft spot for Violet, so he forgave her when she left behind a bill to chase down a striking, muscular male specimen that had caught her eye. His trust was not misplaced. Without fail she paid her tab within a week. Not only was she honest with him, she was charismatic, able to entertain travelers and regulars alike, relaying stories of mishaps, mocking local officials, sharing gossip, or dispensing advice for those that sought her out. All in all she was good for business. He was a good man, but he could respect how she helped his profit, and they had a professionally mutual beneficial agreement. For a couple free drinks a week she'd engage with and help keep a patron asking for more rounds or a dessert so that they could finish a conversation.
In The Betrothed 24 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
"No, I didn't watch a lot of news," Rhiane admitted with a casual shrug of the soldiers. "Other candidates in the contest were deeply distressed by my lack of knowledge on your personal past. Third place could last all your known paramours by height." Quietly she tried to imagine how her betrothed might react to such an avid, starstruck woman as his counterpart for the next decade, the mother to his future children, and a bedfellow. Luke had a robust ego but little tolerance for sycophants. While he found her lack of respect and reverence for his status frustrating, and their philosophical differences grating, she would be willing to wager that a lovesick puppy would be even more annoying. In their eyes he could do no wrong, but to reach that cognitive dissonance they had to sacrifice portions of their wit and, perhaps most importantly, they slowly became unable to think for themselves without being told the 'correct' opinion to have. Third place was a sweet woman- but she would have been a disaster for his image. The crown prince's possible misgivings aside, a meek and subservient princess elect would have given credulity to the rebellion's claims the engagement was a sham, and the commoner bride-to-be a puppet.

Her bedroom was the smallest in the house. Hubert and the late Violet Black occupied the master bedroom and give the next largest bedroom, which had its own attached bathroom, to their eldest child, Gerard. Edwin was born next and had the next largest for his use. Rhiane, the youngest and "baby," was given one of the two remaining (the last was left empty for a guest). The addition of Sebastian and the death of her mother and brother could have resulted in a shuffle of the bedrooms. Technically the patriarch of the household did not need the most space as a widower, and the only couple in the house could have pit it to better use. Somehow, however, it was easier to maintain the status quo. It was as if the family passively believed that if they did not talk about it, and did not acknowledge it, the pain of their losses might disappear of its own accord.

Rhiane's room was tidy, if not slightly bare from her absence. Besides the paintings that Luke had discovered, there was a well worn wooden desk and chair, antique by modern standards, a dresser, a nightstand, and woven rug next to her bed. Unlike the sprawling mattress that was in his home, hers could only fit one person comfortably, and only if they were no taller than she was. Once there had been hand-drawn sketches on the paint, but today's renovators had swept a primer over her etchings, leaving only the canvases revealing her artistic past. Her teacher at the time had praised her talent, particularly in impressionism, and usage of bright colors. In a world in which digital art was so accessible, and her farm's needs were so pressing, she had voluntarily abandoned her hobby out of necessity.

"Gerard drinks like a fish," Rhiane laughed lightly as she pulled on a pair of tight, dark wash, fitted jeans. They weren't appropriate fashion for a ball, or even a press conference, but they were flattering without being wholly scandalous if they were photographed by town folk. "It improves his temper, though, and Sebastian can more than handle him. I'm much more worried about you... or maybe you ought to be worried about yourself. Aren't you concerned that me, as your sober date, might take advantage of you?" Arching one slender brow and smiling coyly, she pulled on a loose sweater with a deep V-shaped neck that hugged her curves. "I can already see the headlines: Devious Farmer Steals Handsome Prince From Bar! Palace Shocked! County in Panic!"

"On a serious note, do we need to take our bodyguards? Or do you need to send Anelle notice of the change in plans? I made a list, as promised, by the way," she added as she tugged on some heels and hopped over to her cleaned clothes. Tucked into the pocket in careful, flowing writing were potential spots they could visit: her old school, her mother and brother's graves at the cemetery, the local community center, a park with a botanical garden, and a nearby supply store that helped her when she first took over the farm's management, and whose owners with which she remained on friendly terms.

Deferring to his judgment for a change when it came to the staff employed by the crown, she busied herself with cleaning up her paintings, taking the time to sort them mentally as she tried to find a space under her bed in which they could be stored. Much as she enjoyed Tobias's support and friendship, she wasn't certain that he'd make the best dinner company, and Nolan even less. Lia and Octavia would be even worse. If they did not scoff at the other patrons of the restaurant, they'd undoubtedly find it an underwhelming experience for the end of the day, and attract the wrong kind of attention. Rhiane was not petty. She did not feel she needed to compete with other women when she was not actively seeking romance; all the same, until she was on better terms with the pair, she didn't care for their company. Perhaps she was becoming insecure about the fact even they were more Luke's type than a peasant, regardless of physical beauty.
In The Betrothed 27 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
Rhiane was especially languid about dressing and returning to the world of their conjoined obligations. She stood up and climbed out of the bathtub before generously stretching. It was much more tempting to spend the entirety of their evening in each other's arms and exploring the extent of their attraction to each other. Unfortunately, they both needed sustenance beyond intimacy. The princess elect had heard her betrothed's stomach growl more than once, her family was undoubtedly ticking away the minutes they were enjoying their privacy, and they almost certainly had travel arrangements made by Anelle in their absence. Groaning inwardly, the former farmer wondered if anyone realized that it was secluded tranquility that might make an actual love story form. If Queen Prisca was aware, it was why she kept the engaged couple busy, ensuring they wouldn't be able to afford the precious hours or minutes that would allow emotion entanglement.

"If it makes you feel any better, they'd disapprove of anyone," she shrugged as she accepted a towel and wrapped it around her torso. The bottom half of her hair was dripping wet, but the upper portion had dried since they had left the shower, as it had not been submerged when they were soaking in the bath. "Dad and Gerard only respect other farmers, but it's a male dominated field. If I had accepted a marriage offer from a fellow farmer, they would have expected to annex our lands, or that I'd give up my place on the Black Farm to become their wife and subordinate- leaving my brother and father behind. Hard to seriously consider a marriage offer when you're the more successful farmer and they want you to be their obedient little housekeeper," she added with a roll of her eyes.

Objectively the palace had labeled Rhiane successful. There had been a thorough analysis of her background when she became one of the final candidates in the contest. Of course she had never seen the file, but it noted a 'marked improvement' of the agricultural output once she assumed a management position of authority. A few financial experts had annotated progress through the months as a testament to the fact she could be an asset to the royal family lineage. No one was willing to call her shrewd or intelligent- she was just a peasant- but she surpassed all the requirements they had for mental acuity. While they would balk at allowing her having any real power once she was crowned princess and then queen, she would have been arguably wasted talent if she was the spouse of a commoner that used for her nothing more than cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing.

Walking into her adjacent bedroom, she gazed at the dry-cleaned clothes arranged on the bed thoughtfully. Luke wasn't wrong that her father and brother would be veritably murderous now. Any good will he had garnered working the fields had probably evaporated the instant he took his fiancee into the bathroom. Every second that had passed after Sebastian had returned their attire to them had made her relatives more and more certain of how they were taking advantage of the time together. Predictable as their ire was, and perhaps deserved, something inside her didn't want to walk away without putting more effort into trying to mend the fractured familial bonds.

"What do you think of going out? There's a bar in town that has a chef that makes amazing pasta dishes with hand-made noodles. It's a favorite spot for getting a stiff drink but also a hearty meal after a hard day's work. It'll put Dad and Gerard in a better mood and be a good way to thank Sebastian for his help. We can see if you can hold your liquor," she remarked with a raised brow. "The Black family has a reputation to uphold in that area, you know." It was a tantalizing proposition. A restaurant, even a simple one in a poorer metropolis, would be faster than waiting for her to create something in the kitchen. Additionally, it would be an escape, a way to unwind safely, and see what the people Rhiane knew were like, if their struggles were as profound as she alleged, if they were as lazy as nobility claimed, or as sharp and honest as she asserted.

"You'll need to wear something more... subtle, though. Sebastian has some clothes that aren't as nice as ours, but better than what I wore the other day on the tour. Tobias and Nolan could come with us if you're worried about security, though I think you'll have a hard time convincing Nolan to wear anything than his suit, and that'd make him stand out like a sore thumb. The bigger threat, though, would be all the lonely ladies that live here. If they saw a handsome man in a suit they'd persistently swarm him in desperation," she mused. A few travelers, typically representatives for a corporation trying to convince locals to buy their employer's seeds, equipment, tools, or use their company's financing program, would waltz into an establishment dressed particularly well. If it was a woman, the men would make brazen attempts to impress her, while if it was a man, women would boldly attempt to seduce.

"What do you think? Are princes allowed to have drinks besides champagne and wine? Would it be too strong for you?" Rhiane teased with a coy smile as she dropped her towel and began to rummage through her old closet for something suitable for a night out, but wouldn't also be offensive to his sensibilities.
"Lithyll, may I be so bold as to make a suggestion before we eat?" Solae asked diplomatically. Rosaria was eyeing her champagne with great interest. While she had been the toy and protege of her former mistress, alcohol had been expressly forbidden, though not out of any sort of concern for her health. Thorne viewed liquor as a privilege the girl had not yet earned. There had been 'moving goalposts' of what might be worthy of an award, be it clothes of her choosing, a special meal, or decorations for her room. After a while the teenager had stopped striving for the prize; it had become clear to her that her sadistic 'mother figure' had no intentions of deviating from her strict rules and regimen.

"Of course, Duchess," Lithyll agreed readily, expecting that the suggestion would be about food, beverage, or accommodations.

"I assume the Kalderi have superior technology to humanity," she began. That Lithyll did not object or allege it was a false fact told her everything she needed to know. Though she had been relatively certain of such an assessment, it was beneficial to have it passively confirmed. The Stellar Empire did not have ships that could generate energy blasts like the Jeweled Armada of so long ago. Hearing that they were utility functions made into weapons put into perspective the prowess alien race; they knew then they didn't need their warships to retaliate, implying they were even more formidable if challenged as equals.

"I won't presume nor pretend I know the extent of your people's abilities," Solae continued, "but there is... conflict within the empire. A certain Duke Alexis Tan has staged a coup and self-styled himself as an emperor. Currently his focus is on expanding within the domain of humanity, but I would be remiss if I did not warn you he is unlikely to respect the treatise between the Kalderi and the Stellar Empire he is trying to usurp. I wouldn't want any of you to..." she hesitated and sighed. Though she had brought up the topic of her own accord, it was a subject that troubled the peaceful aristocrat, a woman who cherished softer virtues and kinder relations than many of her peers. "I could not sleep at night if any Kalderi was harmed by me withholding crucial information," the linguist stated honestly.

"Duke? That is the same title you have, but male, is it not?" Lithyll posed calmly.

"It is, or it was," Solae conceded. "When our empress learned of his betrayal, and those he had killed on his quest, she coneyed his title to me. Before I was made a duchess, my title was marchessa or marquise, a rank below his." It was more of an explanation than Rosaraia, Yarue, or Dasin had explicitly received. She had not been maliciously trying to keep any of her history from her companions. The urgency of needing to flee Zatis, elude hostile forces, hone new skills, and find sanctuary had been more pressing than the particulars of how the empress reacted to discovering a duke had amassed and army and went on a ruthless killing spree.

"And you believe he may come here?" Lithyll inquired.

"I do not know," she shrugged. "I am no soldier. Truthfully, I have no desire for leadership. I do not covet power, so the goals and tactics of one who does is beyond me. I wish every day that he could have been content with what he had, that nothing had changed; I'd gladly give up being a duchess if lives lost could have been saved. What I hope to do is make the best out of being given his title. Empowering my Syshin allies, advocating for their rights, and improving understanding with the Kalderi are what I am most passionate about."

"I see," Lithyll nodded. For a moment he was quietly contemplative. Yarue and Dasin, who were famished, took the opportunity to gobble down their food once they saw Solae nibble at the offering. Rosaria ate as well, but did not care as much for the acidic flavor, and much preferred the bubbling golden liquid that had been previously forbidden. "I will make a recommendation other warships are prepared for any turmoil that may spread from human space."
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