Recent Statuses

6 days ago
Current Experiencing power flickers from the hurricane. =(
9 days ago
The eye of Hurricane Florence is projected to pass over my house this weekend. Obviously this will probably change, but chances are I'll lose power at some point. Apologies in advance!
18 days ago
I get home from DragonCon tomorrow night, September 3rd!
26 days ago
I've been a bit under the weather the last couple days, but posts are forthcoming!
1 like
2 mos ago
13th Wedding Anniversary today. =)


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

Rhiane had stripped to her undergarments but elected not to undress to completely. While she certainly slept nude during the warmer seasons, she suspected this would only amplify the difficulties she was having with Luke. The princess elect had always divorced herself emotionally from the activities she engaged in with men during brief dalliances. Given the romantic passes that had been made at her within the last half hour, however, she was less than confident her fiance would interpret any intimacy as purely physical. She did not want to send mixed messages and so she decided to err on the side of modesty much her chagrin. It felt like a horrible waste to be in the company of a highly attractive individual of the opposite sex, someone who was presumably attracted to her, and to not take advantage of both a lavish bed and total privacy. Only the risk of Luke getting the wrong impression was enough to chill her desires and destroy the sheer thought of initiating mutually satisfying activities.

Just as she was about to step into the closet to fetch a nightgown, so that she wasn't accused of reciprocating his proposal for more than a work relationship, she heard the crown prince behind her. First he had chastised her for self-depreciation (something for his sake she hoped he acclimated to as she had no real incentive or reason to stop) and now he was referencing opinions he didn't agree with and would argue over. With her back still to the heir to the throne she rolled her eyes. Rhiane was not certain if she was pleased or disappointed the stubborn and contrary personality he had displayed throughout the day hadn't disappeared with his sudden flattery.

"What is for me?" she started to ask as she turned towards him. As her eyes fell onto the small box the witty commentary she had mentally prepared died on her lips. Although she knew that the roses were almost certainly not his idea, she had been glad for them, and had not expected any sincere gifts of his own preparation. In his vehicle returning from the island she had heard him reference something like this with his sister Cally but presumed it was for his own enjoyment. Luke had stolen a cannoli from her restaurant container, after all, and there was no reason to expect him to become selflessly generous. Her visage reflected equal parts joy, confusion, and surprise at the sweet offering.

"But when did you..." she began as she tried to rewind her memories. Either he ordered them on the way back from the pizza parlor or when she had been taking her nap. Regardless of the exact timing it had been well before his alleged change of heart and made his purchase twice as baffling. Rhiane stared on, tempted both to accept it gratefully and wolf down every last morsel as quickly as possible, lest his change his mind again, or reject it considering the circumstances they were now in. Luke could see the princess elect chewing the inside of her cheek as she waffled back and forth, palpably excited, but trying to weigh whether or not this indulgence was some sort of trap.

Fortunately her sweet tooth won over her apprehension and with a barely contained squeal she took the delicate box. Rhiane justified her ultimate acceptance by reasoning if he had ordered the treat before his insistence they have a romantic component to their marriage that meant there were no strings attached. It was terrible logic but the only way she could consume the sugary confection without a guilty conscience. "Thank you!" she exclaimed as she plucked it from his lap. After three presents in the last twelve hours, which had been almost as many as she had over the course of the rest of her life, one might expect she would be less enthusiastic, that there would be diminishing returns on the third compared to the first. If there were any they were well hidden. Still in only her underwear she grinned from ear to ear, childish glee on her countenance, as she bobbed lightly on the balls of her feet.

And then, without thinking, she leaned down and planted a kiss on his cheek. It was childish (though no more than her reaction to paltry gifts), it wasn't an intimate gesture, but it was affectionate and genuine. Rhiane was buoyed by the 'bribe' and, forgetting her pajamas entirely, plopped down next to him to eagerly partake in a second dessert. The nutritionists would scold her but it wasn't as if she was in any real danger of weight gain. Her ridiculous metabolism had always worked in her favor and played no small part in why she had both participated in and won the contest. "I know it's for me, but do you want one?" she asked with a sincere smile.
Rhiane remained highly skeptical of his sudden change of heart. While his speech about the right to change beliefs was true- and more pointedly was the only reason that a princess elect was necessary to the crown to begin with- it was hard to fathom that the pompous and arrogant heir to the throne was so easily swayed by a blush or strategic change in approach to public image. He had been so dismissive at the engagement ball that he had left quickly and slept with another woman. Luke's blatant rejection of her had been the impetus for the implant. He had not been charmed by her refreshing honesty, shrewd understanding of her position, apathy to what lovers he would certainly take before and after they were wed, nor her performance at lunch, though she had expected they would be met with appreciation. Yet now he was professing attraction, a desire for genuine romance, and a sudden need to cast off their earlier agreement. It didn't make sense no matter how many times she turned it over in her head.

As the day wore on, however, she could not deny their frigid arrangement had improved. The greedy royal had snatched a cannoli and not insulted its taste. He had been forced to extend an invitation to his private island sanctuary but by all appearances legitimately enjoyed the cliff diving he had suggested. Luke had joked lightly and smiled after rescuing her from the depths of the pool they had both leapt into. Dinner had been pleasant and shared with enjoyable conversation. After her physical the prince had admitted the best part of his day was not hearing tomorrow could be spent by himself. Rhiane had presumed this was the start of a friendship or casual accord. Not once had she conceived of it as anything more than acceptance and making the best out of a challenging political joining.

Her bold escape was thwarted. The brace had been a forgotten impediment to her dash but ultimately its removal would not have won her the race. His legs were longer, he had more muscle mass on account of his gender, and he was not a couch potato that lacked exercise. Again there was soft cursing under her breath as she nearly lost her footing before he caught her wrist. For a second as she stood there, her breath heavy not only with the sudden burst of adrenaline that the sprint brought but also with the shock of him caring to intervene, she stared at him bewildered. Rhiane was certain her provocation would have some response but it was not what she expected. For a man that had been disgusted by her touch a day prior he certainly kept initiating contact.

"It's impossible, Luke," she finally said after the stifling silence of the transport and walk to his room. "I'm not the sort of person that can, or should, have that sort of... romantic relationship. It's better for us both if we keep things professional because then we know exactly where we stand and things won't become messy, or complicated, by any unwanted feelings." The former farmer knew she shouldn't persistently press the issue but she was becoming more and more vexed by the possibility he wouldn't just feign memory loss come morning. She believed the crown prince to be stubborn to a fault. If she couldn't persuade him to abandon this bizarre change in viewpoint then she feared for her future more than if Queen Camilla descended upon them in rage.

"You're..." she halted as she was reminded of his flattering of her flushed face. It was by sheer willpower alone she didn't go beet red though there was a rosy tint to her cheeks. "You're handsome, you're intelligent, you clearly adore your sister which speaks to your character, you're dedicated to your work and responsibilities, you're considerate when you chose to be, you're even a good dancer, so you shouldn't have any issue finding someone else. It's not you, it's me that's impossible, even for someone... like you," she said faltering. The compliments were genuine and all but an admission that were she to indulge herself he was her type. But Rhiane Black didn't care how many criteria boxes he checked. Personality flaws in her fiance were not a deterrent so much as her deep-rooted conviction that the universe was incapable of granting her a soul mate in Luke or anyone else in existence.

Turning around she sighed and began to undress for bed. A good night's sleep would restore them to sanity. Perhaps it would give her the clarity of insight as to why Luke was being so odd. If nothing else rest would give her more fortitude to deal with what was certain to be a disapproving monarch and her lieutenant Ms. Viscomi. Luke not defaulting to petty insults was the miracle of the week. To expect anyone in the palace to see the wisdom in her interview's deviation from script was highly improbable; two miracles simply didn't happen in quick succession even to the most lucky people in the world. And the princess elect had never been that fortunate.
Rationally there was nothing dangerous about the photo that Luke had just snapped of the flushed-face Rhiane. By all appearances he had only taken it for his own amusement and nothing more; however, if he did release it to the public in some devious plan it would not negatively impact her image. If anything it would only boost the perception that the strong farmer was relatable, that she had weaknesses that were endearing rather than compromising, and that she was truly an empathetic voice to the masses. Frustrated as she was it could even convince a non-believer that there was a genuine blossoming romance between the crown prince and his fiance. The brunette was humiliated, however benign the portrait might be to her reputation, and continued to backpedal from the swaggering royal.

"No one has told me that, no, because it isn't true," she protested. From both the tenor of her voice and her body language he could discern she was skeptical about his sincerity, though it did succeed in keeping her face a brilliant shade of pink. With all the men and women at the engagement ball she had been certain of their deception. Rhiane had no illusions about what they really felt about her. Luke, however, had sent her enough mixed messages that she was not able to completely write off the possibility he felt a level of attraction that would make her uneasy. Unlike her he had dalliances with the other sex that were more than just physical flings. The most unflattering tabloids had conceded that the prince was not a stranger to romance beyond one night stands.

"This is a business arrangement," she pointed out as she found herself against a wall. Cursing under her breath she slid along it as he advanced slowly. Had she had a better understanding of the floor plan for the palace she might have been more tempted to bolt in a direction, but her ignorance meant doing so could land her in a worse place, and she wanted an audience to her embarrassment less than she wanted to be alone with her fiance. "You are perfectly capable of keeping your personal and professional separate," she continued, "and that's what we agreed we both wanted."

After a second of flailing verbally she decided there was a better strategy: to try to provoke his anger by appealing to his pride. Given the temper she had seen earlier it had a better chance of success than using logic alone. Reluctant as she was to incite his rage she was absolutely desperate not to have him flirt with her; some buried part of her psyche had convinced her that the prospect of love was infinitely more terrifying than a rage-induced tirade from the monarch's eldest child. "You can't possibly think highly of someone born on a remote farm in the middle of nowhere. You could have your choice of the nobility, probably had every woman in the capitol vying for your attention, and were engaged to me against your will. What about the woman that you spent last night with?"

It was a poor tactic if only because it was horribly transparent. Luke very likely had very little experience with any unwed female rejecting him even as minimally as Rhiane was now. To the upper echelons of society he possessed everything they valued: wealth, fame, proximity to the throne, a prestigious future, contacts all over the world, handsome features, intelligence, and athleticism. Only his personality was lacking and that was easily overlooked by anyone who didn't want an intimate relationship of mutual vulnerability. Either Luke would be incensed by her ploy or he would be able to push past and see what it was: Rhiane had large walls and was resistant to the notion of anything more than his 'work only' proposal of the morning.

With Luke possibly distracted she cut a wide berth towards the transport to his quarters. Maybe in the morning this would all be forgotten. Maybe he was fatigued enough that by morning he would have discarded the hazy memory of this hallway. Maybe if she could just get them both under the covers, sleeping separately, they could pretend this never happened.
"We don't really have a choice," Solae remarked as she stated the obvious. "We need to diffuse the excess heat and jump energy," she explained more for her own benefit than Rene's. Although she had not voiced it aloud she was already preparing to be personally responsible for their landing. In order to summon the courage and strength required for such a dangerous descent, one into atmosphere plagued by a natural disaster already consuming more than half of the planet, she needed to justify the need rationally. They were sitting ducks for the rebellion so long as their ability to re-enter jumpspace was mitigated or negated entirely. The Bonvaventure did not have sufficient weaponry to defend itself against an assault much more launch one against their enemies.

"I am obligated to caution you against this course of action," Mia stated stiffly. Whenever they pushed her into programming that contradicted her personality overlay she sounded clinical. It reminded Solae of the more basic computers that were utilized in public buildings to guide everyday citizens to their destinations. Apparently software engineers thought the dissonance between the rigid robotic voice and whatever synthesized tone their clients chose would help impart the severity of certain warnings. The marquise would be lying if she said it wasn't at least partially effective.

"Thank you, Mia. Do you think you could instruct me how to pilot to the surface?" she asked as tested her straps and turned towards one of the nearby consoles. Because it was only a freight transport, rather than a luxury liner, there was only room for a couple of navigators. Traditionally one did almost all of the actual piloting and the second was a back-up for when the primary helmsman was indisposed or otherwise unavailable. Since Rene had taken control when they were departing New Concordia (she was in no position to argue or try to take charge even if she wanted to) the unspoken assumption was he'd continue in this role.

"Do you have experience piloting space vessels?" Mia asked with a slight sense of incredulity. Her logical parameters had led her into the assumption, just as the soldier's deduction might have, that Rene would be steering.

"No, which is why I would need your guidance," Solae answered smoothly. "Please answer my question, Mia. Do you have a manual or other documentation that you can utilize to instruct me how to pilot this spacecraft as we break orbit?"

"Yes, Lady Solae," was the sullen response. Even Mia could recognize she was being chastised for asking questions rather than defaulting to obedience. A pang of fleeting guilt resounded in the diplomat's heart; she knew that Mia didn't have feelings but there was something cruel about being so stern with an entity whose prime directive was to keep her safe. In a way Mia was both friend and the closest thing the linguist had to a parent after she was left orphaned. As an adult, and an aristocrat of high stature, she was obligated to show a polite and respectable amount of grief while remaining indifferent in practice. No noble wanted to be viewed as "emotional." The turbulence of her heart, however, was indicative of the fact that Solae was not the paragon of unfaltering composure and stoicism that was paraded around the courts regularly.

"I want to try to do this," she explained to Rene. "I've always applied my intellect to languages but... I want to contribute more than translating on our behalf. I'll rely on you to step in if things go horribly wrong. Would you be all right with being my arm candy just this once?" she continued on with a coy, bemused smile.

"Excuse me, Lady Solae, but may I inquire what 'arm candy' is? Is this a function for Sir Rene? Should I reroute some of the systems to his console accordingly?" Mia asked breathlessly in her unflappably sultry voice.

"I'm just teasing him, Mia. Perhaps Lord Armon familiarized you with another term that had the approximately same meaning. Trophy wife? Trophy husband? Trophy fiancee?" Despite their dire and grim future on Panopontus she could not help but laugh as she imagined how Mia might interpretation of 'arm candy' in a literal sense. Once they were in relative safety she might very well produce a pin for the marine's uniform that was emblazoned with the humorous title.

"I apologize, Lady Solae..." Mia began.

"It means I am keeping Rene by my side because he is exceedingly handsome," Solae said as she simplified the concept the best she could. Sarcasm would be a lesson for another day. "But I was not being serious. He's also quite strong, charming, empathetic, considerate, and a multitude of other things I could spend the entire day listing. I'll spare you both for the time being," she stated with a wink to her paramour. "Are you both ready?"

"Yes, Lady Solae," Mia purred.
In The Betrothed 10 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
"You know damn well!" she objected just as he planted his lips on her temple in yet another unwelcome kiss. Now that he had provoked her a second time her cheeks flushed with ruddy color and she jerked away reflexively. Although it was clear to her he was doing this to get a rise out of her- as someone actually innocent wouldn't dare do the exact thing they theorized someone was opposed to them doing- she didn't immediately know the reason why. There had been no glaring missteps in her interview and she had performed exactly as she had 'forewarned.' Had she let the details of his private island slip or directly contradicted Queen Camilla's assertion he was on a mission during the engagement ball she would have anticipated this elementary school form of torment. Very little had changed in their relationship since before the broadcast, however, and his behavior had not been so bizarre prior. Rhiane was tempted to believe he was being impishly aggravating simply because he had deduced how unsettling she found public displays of affection and childishly wanted to seize the opportunity.

As the princess elect drew away there was a myriad of emotions that fluttered across her features. Not only was she unmistakably angry at his intrusion on her personal space she was also embarrassed. The brazen pink that spread to her ears spoke to a woman who did not entertain this sort of intimate gesture and was both bashful and flustered. Present, but more muted, was a flash of fear-induced panic. It was not nearly as profound as when she had been in the company of the royal doctor but it was still apparent to the perceptive. Rhiane was furious her preferences weren't being respected, she was innocently shy around such silly little expressions that could be construed as romantic, and she was inwardly terrified of love. She had seen what love- true love- could do to a person. Hubert Black had nearly drowned in his marital bliss and then died a waking death when his wife wasted away in their home. If both her father and brother were lucky enough to find soulmates than the laws of probability dictated it was nigh impossible she would find anyone she could adore the same way. To save herself from heartbreak she erected walls around herself and imposed rules to keep from anyone entertaining the thought she was available in such a capacity.

In her mind she had convinced herself this was for the best.

"Stop!" she insisted in another low hiss. Pride wouldn't allow her to acknowledge the colour of her countenance was jarringly different than that of her hands. "Save it for the women you actually intend to woo, I'm very aware I'm not one of them and I don't intend to be. Unless there's an audience for us to act for you have no reason to touch me like that or pretend... pretend there is anything between us besides a political arrangement," she said as she cleared her throat. Luke was a smart man. Though he had the benefit of an education only the wealthy could obtain she knew he was not a dunce. Not only had the queen bred with a man that had exemplary mental facilities, she knew that she would not name an heir that was a fool, and not all of Luke's success could be the result of greased palms. It wouldn't take long for him to deduce that while he was gallivanting around having dates with the premise of intimacy her entanglements had been purely physical by arrangement, which meant her defense for actual courtship was low, both with himself and others.

"No more kissing unless it's for the camera," she tried to demand as she continued to step back from him. In her determination not to be swept into an embrace she was getting perilously far, pushing boundaries of the implant, which had been temporarily forgotten. "I'm sure you're just as invested in making sure neither one of us gets the wrong idea, aren't you? Obviously we'll share a bed in more than a platonic manner eventually but no more," she took a deep breath as she squashed some of the strange sensations in her stomach, "doing whatever it is you're doing now."
In The Betrothed 11 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
Initially Rhiane didn't recognize that there was anything wrong. While neither herself nor Luke were necessarily in the running for any Academy Awards, he was not a novice of the courts, and thus his own performance was not glaringly obvious as an act. The princess elect didn't erroneously believe that he was sincerely smitten with her, but she also had no reason to know he was annoyed, frustrated, or irritated. When she turned around and he congratulated her on doing well she thought only of the words. Because she had done well, if not in the exact manner the queen had requested, his praise seemed honest. Everything had gone according to her plan. Nothing in his visage betrayed his inner emotions and so she was buoyed by the compliment. Ms. Viscomi might have her reservations about the tactics employed but this was the first time that she had felt the rush of success since the contest concluded.

It would admittedly take some time before Ms. Viscomi, Queen Camilla, or Prince Luke himself would fully appreciate her strategy. They would not be convincing rebels to become loyalists, not yet, but she had not alienated the masses during her interview. Many believed the poor were idiots or at least ignorant. Inn many ways there was a nugget of truth considering the low education of the poverty-stricken, but peasants also heard the voices of the crown enough to recognize it instantly, and they were familiar with the dissonance between it and their own. There was no one in the palace attuned to the way the common folk thought and spoke as much as Rhiane. They could try to mimic it but their results would pale in comparison. With the princess elect not changing her tone, with remaining consistent with her answers and beliefs from prior to the engagement ball, and not repeating a script that would have been foreign on her lips, she had accomplished something great: she planted the hope that she was a representative of the people in the castle.

Whether or not they would keep faith in what Rhiane potentially represented remained unseen. She was not herself convinced how much she wanted to help the image of the royal family. Protecting her own image was self-preservation; being a puppet could make her fall into disfavor, be smeared in media, and make her position as princess elect moot. Being killed for being a useless pawn was less concerning than the fact her father and brother might not be paid beforehand. But that was where her investment ended. If Queen Camilla or any of her relatives (beside herself after marriage) incited the coup was not her concern. Not only did they not ask her for her help or opinion, she was quite aware she was seen only as a tool, and that they demeaned her behind her back. Luke himself valued his pet dog that proceeded her more than he did his fiancee.

But Rhiane wanted to be swept into a fantasy of being kindly acknowledged.

When she spotted the bouquet of roses in Luke's arms her eyes opened with wonder. Perhaps he did not know- and considering he didn't read a sentence of her history this was almost certainly the case- but no one had ever presented her with flowers before. There were wildflowers that grew in some of the fields on the edge of the forest near her town. On a couple of occasions she and her brothers had plucked several, wrapped them up with twine, and given them to their mother with childish innocence. Rhiane herself had never been a recipient of this sort of gesture, however. She had no children, she had no spouse, her father and brother would have looked odd doing such a thing, her informal brother-in-law would have found it an inappropriate romantic overture, and she had avoided any sort of emotional entanglement. If she had dated around, even for a year or two in her youth, she would have had the pleasure. It was a common enough gift. Rhiane's fear of love, fear of a broken heart, fear of adoring someone and then losing them, had kept her away from anyone men that would maybe buy her a drink before they went to bed to satisfy primal desires.

For a moment, as she reached forward and took the present, she forgot that Luke barely tolerated her presence being thrust on him. There was a genuine grin as she gingerly cradled him in her own arm the fragrant blooms. Cannolis were not the only bribe he could utilize to make her more compliant (though he had not actually given her the cannolis yet). Some gits would have less effect than others, and this one was not even obtained of his own doing much less with any affectionate thought, but she still had a thinly veiled glee of a child on Christmas morning. A few of the production staff glancing over smiled to themselves at her jubilant expression.

Excitement took a back seat to confusion and then paralyzing fear as Luke closed the distance between them and kissed her. To their captive audience it had the appearance of Rhiane simply being surprised and stunned, though from how rigid she was under his grasp the heir to the throne might know she found this 'distracting' in a negative way. Had he not been brief she would have backpedaled from his reach without considering the repercussions. There was good reason she was opposed to public displays of affection: she was not used to anything mildly romantic, thus she could not perpetuate them in a charade, and they knocked her off her proverbial game. As it was she was frozen long enough to not do anything except stand there like a statue as she hated him for knowledge of her weakness. Her heart betrayed her mind as it thudded in her chest. Hopefully Luke was not rewarded with the insight that she was prone to his charms on occasion much to her chagrin.

Once she had been led out of the parlor, however, she tried to move away from him, onlookers in the hallway be damned, as there was a flash of anger even fatigue could not subdue. "What do you think you're doing?" she hissed. "That wasn't necessary!" the princess elect objected even as she clutched her bouquet to her chest. One had enamored her, one had provoked her. The ordinary woman would have been provoked by the roses that were nothing more than a prop and enchanted by a kiss; Rhiane, however, was nothing if 'not the norm.'
In The Betrothed 12 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
A member of the production crew moved from behind the camera, into the line of sight of the host, and made a gesture to indicate they were off the air. Fluorescent lights that had been strategically placed around the pair dimmed seconds later as the regular lighting overhead was raised in equal measure. Despite how carefully this was balanced so as to not disorient either the crew nor the broadcasted individuals, it was jarring enough for Rhiane, whom was not used to the directed spotlights that had just been employed prior. She was subtly blinking away spots in her vision as she turned herself towards the media professional. Although he did not show it, he too was taking a few moments to adjust from being in the center of a bubble of brilliance to a more sensibly and gently diffused setting.

"It was wonderful to finally meet you," the princess elect said with an unfaltering smile. The edge from Dr. Gulsvig's medication was diminishing albeit slowly. None of the interviews that had been given during the contest had been as long nor as mentally exhausting as this one had been. Rhiane knew she had performed as spectacularly as was possible, and that there had not been an ounce of fatigue present as she discussed her fledgling 'romance,' but now she felt she was reaching the end of a mile long marathon. No matter how many of these might be in her future there was a definite period of adaptation to be expected. For her first day it would be abnormal if she wasn't tiring quickly considering the additional mitigating circumstances.

"Likewise, Ms. Black," the host said politely. "I hope you will do me the honors of more exclusive interviews," he added, clearly hoping that the farmer was naive enough to agree without conferring first with the queen. Nothing could be formally approved without her blessing, but if the peasant was ignorant enough to step into his waiting trap it could be easier to manipulate the circumstances in his favor.

"Like I said earlier, I believe Prince Luke and myself will be departing for a trip around the kingdom in the next couple days, so I can not commit myself to anything quite yet. I will keep you in mind, however, the instant I know what my schedule might allow. How could I not after the patience you showed me?" It was diplomatic and side-stepped any commitment. The interviewer had realized only a few minutes into his questions an hour earlier that the princess elect was charismatic and quick-witted, but he still underestimated her on the basis of her low birth, and as such he rather foolishly expected her not to see the game the nobles played for what it was. It took him several precious seconds to appreciate that Rhiane had not agreed to anything more than keeping him in mind. It was not unlike a reply from a seasoned veteran of the court.

"I would appreciate that, Ms. Black," the host answered. Being rude or short would get him nowhere. Not only would Queen Camilla not take kindly to veiled insults against her newest appointee, the prince whom he believed was infatuated with her was nearby, and there was an audience to a faux pas. He also was quite aware that the more friendly he was to Rhiane outwardly the better his chance of being the preferred public outlet to this facet of the crown.

"You must be tired," she said as she rose from her sofa and flashed one last smile. "The hour is late because of the unfortunate delays and- what is the saying- the news waits for no one? I'm sure you are eager to retire for the evening and greet a new day. If you will excuse me."

With a few confident steps she crossed the distance to where Ms. Viscomi was standing with her tablet clutched in her hands. Rhiane was still avoiding looking at her fiance directly though not out of malice. Things felt awkwardly uncomfortable and as the night wore on she was increasingly uncertain where she stood with Luke. It was easier to avoid him than deal with the perplexing situation directly. Neither one of them were passive individuals. The princess elect didn't trust herself or her feelings, much less the handsome and haughty heir, to not seize the opportunity to nightcap with a new argument bourne of the frustration that came when deprived of sleep for too long. They were both tossed into a pressure cooker of enough stressors it was a miracle that they could even feign happiness.

"Ms. Viscomi, thank you for putting your faith in me," Rhiane said with a nod of the head. There was no actual choice that the image manager had in the matter. The princess elect had proposed not sticking to the script and Prince Luke had all but steamrolled the plan to puppet the queen's carefully chosen answers. Preliminary reports were that the public loved and adored Rhiane just as much, if not more, than they had when she was announced at the engagement ball, but that was no guarantee that Queen Camilla would share their opinion of success. Had there been an actual choice Ms. Viscomi would have undoubtedly chosen not to follow the tactical deviations but she did not have the status to enforce her opinion. During the hour-long session she had only been able to monitor with increasing anxiety that she would be held responsible if this bizarre strategy failed.

"You did wonderfully, Ms. Black, but if I may suggest..." she began.

"I'll be at your disposal all day tomorrow I'm sure," Rhiane reassured, "since Dr. Gulsvig had recommended I stay at the palace while Prince Luke has work to attend to. Could we have a conference over my performance tomorrow? I believe I'll be more receptive to your input once I've had the benefit of a night's rest."

"Yes, of course," Ms. Viscomi reluctantly agreed, again knowing there was only an illusion of choice in the matter.
In The Betrothed 15 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
The rest of the preparation passed all too quickly. Rhiane was ushered into the shower, absent attendants despite Ms. Viscomi's protests that they would expedite the process, then was dried, dressed, and primped. Although the servants were visibly apprehensive about having the crown prince witness his fiancee dressed in little or nothing, they dared not voice their concerns or delay the beauticians out of a sense of modesty not shared by their superiors. That the queen had been notified of the daring sleeping arrangement and had not quashed the couple's wishes was evidence enough of her endorsement. Interference with a royal was risky at best, but today, bizarre as the circumstances were, it would be the end of their illustrious career in the palace should they interject. When they thought no one was looking many of the ladies exchanged glances. Being appointed to the princess elect had been exciting for most. The queen and princess were well-known to the highborn, having spent their entire lives in the limelight, but the former farmer was something new and rare. Little did they know exactly how much she would challenge the status quo- and with Luke an apparently willing accomplice if not an enabler.

Predictably they did not object when Rhiane insisted on eating her pannacotta. Tongues were bitten before the word 'diet' dripped off any lips though they all knew of its existence. Physical beauty among models and the elite typically meant women were expected to be underweight. By no means was Rhiane overweight, but she was more muscular than her socialite peers, and her curves were much more pronounced than all but a few blessed aristocrats. These traits had propelled her to the top of the candidates- uglier females were denied entry altogether- but created conflict now that she had ascended. The public itself was divided if she ought to become slender and fragile like a runway model or retain her current physique, one that was strong and sultry, with most leaning towards the latter. If it had not been for polls suggesting her image was best as it was, the knowledge fertility issues plagued the underfed, and Luke himself ordering a meal that included the dessert, Rhiane might had a fight on her hands. Maids politely ignored her licking of every drop of chocolate from her spoon as they styled her thick hair.

Time constraints meant that the princess elect was presentable but not as polished as with the engagement ball. The interview was meant to be casual, but the queen demanded perfection, and there was a small argument over how much allotment should be given to make-up in particular. Ms. Viscomi ultimately decided to keep make-up light, encouraging the masses to see Rhiane as their 'every woman' representative visually, and there was a wardrobe change to accommodate this adjustment. Tired as she was there was no complaints from the bronze-skinned beauty. She flashed smiles, nodded her consent, and followed directions with the single exception of medication. Rhiane had tried to refuse the nurses, albeit with impeccable manners, and it was only Luke's stubborn insistence that made her yield- partially because he had unintentionally bribed her and flattered her sufficiently to heed him for at least a few hours.

Only Luke had full disclosure of Rhiane's strategic approach before the interview commenced. She was seated beside the host, the broadcast live, when color drained from Ms. Viscomi's face as the charismatic princess elect tactfully abandoned the script scrolling past on the teleprompters. Her media counterpart was equal amounts surprised, horrified, enchanted, and thrilled, and had he not been a seasoned veteran conversing with someone so deftly skilled at manipulation it might have ended prematurely ten minutes after introductions were made.

But even by the most conservative estimates Rhiane was a resounding success. Rather than pay mindless lip service to the crown, which would have ruined her credibility with commoners and created rumors she was a puppet, she carefully danced around without passing judgment on any certain topic. The shrewd woman excused herself as not educated on certain matters, or uncertain exactly where she stood, or understanding both sides when appropriate, so as not to alienate herself unnecessarily one side or another when possible. Rhiane had been self-depreciating with Luke but here she painted herself more humble, pensive, and cautious. By admitting minor shortcomings (such as a lack of knowledge) she won over the hearts of viewers, making them look cruel if they were to attack her when she confessed fault, creating a sense of empathy that made one quicker to jump to her defense. She did not pretend to know everything after a single day with the privileged. No one was more aware than she was that she was straddling both worlds but this was her greatest boon; she had to remind everyone that was what she was doing, both with actions and words, to capitalize on the fact she could be a bridge to join two worlds.

As promised, she was purposefully vague about the 'impromptu date' with Luke. Watching Rhiane discuss this outing, with first-hand experience to separate fact from fiction, made it clear that she was nothing if not masterful with word choice to insinuate a fantasy without being completely deceptive. She stated they, "went somewhere where they could be alone," that "they had very emotionally-charged discussions," that "they were spending a lot of time together," and that they were "exploring their feelings." None of these allegations were untrue but they conjured a notion that there was an intimacy that did not exist. Rhiane very pointedly did not even look towards her fiance when she spoke about their relationship; to someone watching at home this was not strange, for she was very focused on the host, but to Luke it was telling that perhaps she was not quite the stoic bastion of apathy that she made herself out to be. She had forewarned him not to engage in any public displays of affection as it would be distracting. That she feigned ignorance of his presence could lead him to conclude that his compliment had made his existence itself 'distracting.'

The interview was coming to a close when she was asked about her immediate aspirations. It was here she made a departure from what anyone could have possibly anticipated. Ms. Viscomi had been lulled into reassurance and relief as she watched social media wash by with praise for the spokeswoman people found in Rhiane.

"My plans? Oh, I understand I'll be going on a tour of the country with Prince Luke in the next couple days, but I hope to do some charitable work either abroad or when I return," she announced with a dazzling smile. Ms. Viscomi nearly dropped her tablet before clutching it tightly. This was the first anyone had heard of such virtuous pursuits. Because it had not been reviewed in advance, the queen had not approved it, and this made the image manager's heart leap into her throat. "Personally I'd like to find a way to help facilitate vaccinations in the outer reaches of the kingdom, where it is harder to coordinate such outreach endeavors, because it's an issue close to my heart."
Solae laughed lightly and dusted her hands on her pants. Before she might have balked at dirtying herself, even in her most mundane clothing, but recent circumstances had erased any pretense of sophistication and refinery. The marquise had also discovered a much abandoned closet in the Bonaventure that housed equipment that was capable of cleaning their garments. From the layer of dust on its surface she had wagered a guess that the prior owner and employees had been quite at peace with their filth and saw no reason to fight against its accumulation. Its current occupants, however, were of a different mind and would make certain that it did not go to waste when they had no such apathy to their personal hygiene. If Rene had allowed himself to descend further into his disgrace and wallow around in the muck willfully there would have been no realized romance before the pair.

"I rather enjoy having something like this to do," Solae admitted with a gesture to the nexus of fiber, translucent strings, and components to which she could not hope to put a name to. The light that was emitted was diffused by the cloud of particles that had grown during the years, if not decades, since the vessel was built. Without maintenance for simple acts such as cleaning hubs like the one she had just uncovered, the ship had been arguably abused, and the grime only added to the risk that it would deteriorate past being functional before either of the aristocrats had reached the end of their natural life. Had the Bonaventure been handled with more preventative measures and care she would have been able to be passed down for generations. Without intervention the machinery would seize sooner rather than later and it would be lucky to be gutted and made into an attachment to a Syshin community. Fortunately Mia was of the belief that they could remedy most of the issues currently plaguing the duo.

"The first Falia of any real importance was Yuri Konstantin Falia. As my father told it, he was indirectly involved in the events leading up to the Treaties of Vaetis Proximii. Yachion was a planet that had been colonized some time prior and had flourished because of the natural resources according to history texts, though they might have a rose-tinted view considering who actually wrote the texts. The people of Yachion did so well they were of the belief that they would be best left completely alone. Rather than try to stage a coup and take over a solar system or sector, they wanted to restrict space travel entirely, and govern themselves with no intervention. They became so convinced they had the best planet, and the best people, they tried to reject immigrants to the world with their growing xenophobia. You can imagine what they thought of the empire. Yuri Konstantin Falia spearheaded talks that brought them to the table and acted as a mediator for some of their disputes. I'm not sure how glorified he is posthumously but he was given title for his efforts and Yachion did not officially leave the Stellar Empire."

This sort of prestigious ancestry was commonplace for people of their status. As far as she was aware, no one was named Lord or Lady unless an individual in their lineage had a meaningful contribution, and even that was no guarantee. The Stellar Empire was vast and scandal spread more easily than virtue. Before the madness of the late emperor there had been familial lines stripped of their recognition and reduced to wealthy commoners (if that) for the crimes of one. It took dedication to remain among the elite or to ascend into its ranks as some of the recently appointed had. Solae had heard her mother and father speak ill of the rise of 'newcomers' to the courts, something she suspected played into their willingness to move to New Concordia, but not once had the linguist herself considered them to be less. The fight to stay in favor and the fight to claw into the light were equally challenging and worthy of respect.

"My mother and father love..," she paused and shook her head before changing to past tense, "loved me. But they both wanted me to follow a path like my predecessors. As far as I know Yuri wasn't a translator, but he was a diplomat, so they were hopeful that I would become a leader like he once was. It still seems silly to me, however, that they didn't ever encourage me equally to pursue a profession like the men and woman that wed into the Falia name. There were officers of the military, fellow bureaucrats, philosophers, mathematicians, historians, wealth managers, and lawyers that exclusively represented only the most affluent members of society. I wish they had allowed me to explore more. If they saw me now, actually enjoying toying around with the electrical guts of a freighter, they might have sent me to a retreat to reform myself," she jested although she was serious about the point she was trying to make. Nobles were bred for their brilliance but then painted into proverbial corners. It was an endorsed madness that was hilariously negligent; Solae could have become an inventor, an engineer, a scientist of renown, and yet she was restrained just as much as all of their peers. Each one of her former classmates had the tools to achieve their dreams but none of the freedom.

"Now that I'm an orphan, and perhaps a hero of the empire by virtue of surviving a rebellion without being caught, perhaps I'll start a scandal by openly admitting I tinkered on a smuggler's run down ship. Would you like to join in on the blasphemy? I promise not to tell your father," she teased. "Mia's telling me what to do and I could use another set of hands."
In The Betrothed 22 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
"While I agree we are a team, you didn't have to go quite so far as to agree to a course of treatment without even asking me my thoughts on it," she pointed out defensively. He was not wrong that that her bias did cloud her judgment, and that was partially why she did not blame him for speaking up as to her condition before they left the deserted island, but he had pushed the proverbial envelope. Rhiane was relatively certain he had not spared a single glance in her direction while he typed on his device and nodded along to every one of Dr. Gulsvig's suggestions. The very least the crown prince could have done was look at his fiancee for any sign of agreement. Given that she had been incredibly reluctant with the pain medication in his bedroom she would have thought he'd anticipate her objections to a second prescription.

"If you want me to consult with you before I launch a public image strategy that directly affects you, I'd appreciate you doing the same for me when possible. When I told her we were sharing your bed I wasn't being a puppet, and I was trying to act as a team, but it upset you," she pointed out. The situations were not exactly the same but she hoped it illuminated the need for more communication. If they kept taking the lead from one another, without caring about the other's approval, they'd spend the next decade (depending on progeny) rehashing this same argument.

"I realize that in many ways there is no way to avoid being a child and puppet," she continued on. "I'm certain that your mother will not hesitate to threaten my brother and father if I assert myself in her presence. I entered the contest understanding that was the dynamic I would enter into; the courts will not take me seriously, they will hold me at a distance, just as they did at the engagement ball after their curiosities were satisfied. I am replaceable and hold no leverage except, perhaps, with you, but I do not want us to be a team of threats and blackmail. We'll just be miserable. I am just asking you to personally try to indulge me in what agency I have left intact and I will do the same for you." Not that she thought the heir to the throne was necessarily willing to make the concessions immediately. Rhiane felt that she was more masterful on broadcast than anyone in the palace gave her credit for, Ms. Viscomi included, but she could not safely test her limitations. To do so would require someone's backing and not even Luke would advocate on her behalf if she proposed a change in the tactical approach to their public ventures. It was this isolation as a commoner in a word of the powerful elite that made it dangerous to be aggressive. Choosing her clothes, or a room color, was as far as she was allowed to go without jeopardizing those at whom who she held dear.

And then as Luke casually stated there were 'far better things that happened today' he saw a flush appear on her cheeks and spread across her features. Before he had departed their engagement ball she had been given empty compliments from the aristocracy. The princess elect had graciously and modestly thanked them, smiled, but not been flustered. It was the sincerity of her fiance now that made her uncomfortable and embarrassed enough that her face changed color. "I... well," she started, unable to grasp her words. Rhiane cleared her throat and started to make a wide circle around him to get to the door. "I would have abandoned just about anyone for a box of dessert. The last time I got a present from anyone was years ago. That man even thoughtfully remembered something I like from a comment I made during the contest, something I didn't think anyone would care about enough to notice, something I barely recall saying. Having someone give you a gift also just feels precious," she concluded.

There was no clear way to get out the door without getting closer to Luke than she wanted and so she hung back. His implied compliment pulled at heartstrings that she would rather feign did not exist. Rhiane had joined the contest with the expectation there would be physical contact devoid of any and all intimate feelings, and that he was prodding, however inadvertently, to something deeper than shallow appreciation of her body was not within her limited expectations. "In the interest of full disclosure, I'm going to try a different approach than your mother and Ms. Viscomi want for the interview," she said, desperately trying to avoid the topic of her girlish reactions. "Instead of lauding the past and present for New Rome, and giving commendations, I'm going to talk more about the future. I know the queen expects lip service but it will destroy what little faith people have in me. That strategy might have worked a decade ago but not today. If I want to keep my credibility I need to work a different angle. I'm not doing this as an act of rebellion but because it will be an unmitigated disaster in no more than a few months for both of us if we maintain the current course."
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