Date: Evening of Sola 22nd
Mina's frustration boiled within her as she stood face-to-face with her uncle, Count Sebastian, in their lavish sitting room. The air crackled with tension, their voices escalating in a heated argument. Sebastian's concerned gaze bore into Mina, his voice tinged with worry and frustration."Mina, you had a seizure! You fainted right in front of everyone! This isn't something to be taken lightly,"
Sebastian exclaimed, his hands gesturing in exasperation. "Your visions...they're becoming more frequent, more intense. I can't bear to see you suffer like this."
Mina's eyes blazed with defiance as she clenched her fists. "You're being ridiculous, Uncle! It was just a momentary lapse, nothing more. I can handle myself. I don't need to be sent back to Kolonivka like some fragile doll."
Sebastian's brows furrowed deeply, his voice growing louder with each word. "Fragile? This isn't about fragility, Mina. This is about your well-being, your safety! I won't risk losing you because you're too stubborn to acknowledge the severity of the situation."
Mina's anger surged, her voice reaching a crescendo as she shouted back at her uncle. "I won't go back! I won't be locked away like some damsel in distress. I can handle my visions, my own fate! You can't control me, Uncle! Besides, Roman offered his protection. I’ll be fine!"
Sebastian's face flushed with anger, his voice booming through the room. "Remain in these rooms, Mina. I will make the arrangements, and you will go back to Kolonivka until we find a way to manage this. I won't argue any further!"
With a mixture of frustration and defiance, Mina let out a scream of frustration before huffing and storming over to a nearby chair. She flung herself into it, her body trembling with anger and hurt. Sebastian disappeared into his room, leaving Mina to wrestle with her emotions in the suffocating silence that enveloped the room.
The weight of their disagreement hung heavy in the air, and Mina knew that the battle between her desires and her uncle's concerns was far from over.
Munir has been in his room, not really wanting to participate in whatever event has been taking place. Sure, he was asked to partake in the summer’s festivities in the hopes of finding himself an imperial consort. However, ever since his first fateful meeting with Lady Mind Blackwood of Kolonivka, he wanted no one else. It was her, or he will be returning to Alidasht by himself. The Sultan would not have liked this but he did not care.
Checking his garb in front of the large, polished bronze mirror, he straightened himself out and stepped out of his room, deciding that some fresh air could be nice. His retainer, Hakim, dutifully followed behind him as he quietly paced the halls of his temporary Northern residence.
Mina slipped into her rooms, putting on a convincing act by lying down in bed, making it seem as if she had obeyed her uncle's orders. But as soon as she was sure he was occupied with something else, she placed pillows under her covers in order to make it appear like she simply fell asleep. Then she quietly slipped out of a hidden door that led to a long-forgotten servants' entrance. She'd discovered this entrance years ago and it was one of the reasons why they always requested the same rooms. Sometimes she liked to slip away without anyone being the wiser. The passageway was dimly lit, cobwebs hanging in forgotten corners, but she navigated it with ease, knowing the way like the back of her hand.
Emerging into the hall not far from her rooms, she heard her uncle's voice, discussing with someone the arrangements for her travel back to Kolonivka. Her heart pounded in her chest, and she knew she couldn't let him catch her outside her rooms otherwise she wouldn't get a moment of freedom. Silently, she backed away, trying to slip away before she quite literally bumped into someone.
Startled, she looked up and found herself face-to-face with Munir. Her breath caught in her throat, and she instinctively took a step back, trying to gather her composure. Munir's dark eyes bore into hers, and she could sense that he had caught her in the act. She quickly held a finger up to her lips as she glanced over her shoulder frantically in the direction that her uncle's voice was still coming from. She was terrified he was about to give her away.
Munir was minding business, pacing down the corridor when a sudden thump stopped him in his tracks. He instinctively looked up in fury and reached out to shove the would-be intruder away from him to be punished by his retainer Hakim. “Ha-“
He began to say, in a rather subdued voice befitting of his quiet anger for having his empty thoughts disturbed. But it was them that he saw who it was. It was like a beam of moonlight against the dark canvas of the night. A fiery blaze that lit up his eyes. By the Sun Gods it was her. It seems they have finally answered his silent prayers.“Mina…”
Munir said, noticing the finger at Mina’s lips, telling him to keep his voice to a minimum. Munir nodded, snapping his fingers sharply once to direct Hakim to essentially secure their immediate surroundings. “Let’s speak in my room? I have so many things to ask you…”
Despite their predicament, Munir has to say at least these last few words before gently and quietly guiding Mina to his room…
Mina's heart raced as she heard approaching footsteps from the direction of the voices, and she quickly nodded in agreement with Munir's suggestion. There was no time to waste, and she knew she had to act quickly if she wanted to avoid being caught by her uncle. With a swift, but silent, movement, she took Munir's hand and followed him as he led her to his room.
Once inside, she closed the door softly behind them and let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. "Thank you for saving me from that predicament,"
she whispered, her voice tinged with relief. "I don't think my uncle would have taken kindly to finding me wandering the halls after he told me to not leave my room."
Mina's eyes locked with Munir's, and she couldn't help but feel a mix of emotions swirling inside her. There was a magnetic pull between them, an unspoken understanding that went beyond words. There was something different about him, something she hadn't experienced before. It was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time.
Munir nodded at Hakim, effectively dismissing him as Mina closed the door to his room. “I will not prod about the predicament you speak of. But please, Mina, rest assured. Your uncle, if I understand the man he is, will not come to my room to inquire about your whereabouts. You’re safe here. Please, sit…”
Munir said softly, guiding her to one of the chairs in his room.
In the meantime, he could not take his eyes off of her. He wanted to rid her of all her worries, all of what she is anxious about. There was something about her that made him want to shield her from all that displeased her. “Mina…I…where have you been ...?”
It was all that he could make out. It was as if words caught in his throat, and his brain scrambled to piece together a coherent sentence. But there was so much he wanted to say. How much he missed her. How much he craved her touch. How he longed for her lips.
Mina couldn't help but smirk playfully at Munir's question, a hint of teasing in her voice. "Oh, you missed me, did you?"
she said with a raised eyebrow. "I must admit, I find it hard to believe, considering how you flit about with other women like a moth to a flame."
Her teasing aside, she then turned serious, her expression softening. "But in all honesty, I've been penned up in my room by my uncle's orders,"
she explained, her tone tinged with frustration. "After the incident at the execution, he's become even more overprotective and is now determined to send me back to Kolonivka. As if fainting is a crime punishable by exile."
Mina sighed, her eyes meeting Munir's with a mix of exasperation and longing. "I'm not a damsel in distress, Munir. I can handle myself, and that fainting spell I had is not as dire as he thinks. I wish he'd just let me stay and prove him wrong, but he's so stubborn."
She paused for a moment, then added with a touch of bitterness, "As if he knows what's best for me better than I do."“I…you…I…I flit around those women because it’s fun. It’s a game to me…But you… I…”
He wanted to say it. To admit it. He missed her. He craved her. She is the flames his moth chased all this time. However, his pride wouldn’t allow it, at the moment. Little did he know, his armor was already cracking and beginning to leak…“I would very much prefer it if you did not return to Kolonivka…
Munir said sheepishly. Just what is going on. It was as if this woman had put some sort of spell on him. He is a bumbling mess when he is in her presence. His wits, his charm, all of it gone. Munir quietly listened to the rest of her words before formulating his response. “Of course not, Mina. You’re a strong, independent woman. However, it makes sense your uncle is concerned. What if…what if I spoke with him and personally guaranteed your safety…? That way, you needn’t return to Kolonivka and your uncle can rest assured that your health and safety is being safeguarded by another royalty…? Of course, this is not meant to limit you in any way…”
Mina couldn't help but find Munir's stammering and stumbling endearing, and it made her heart skip a beat. She loved how he tried to maintain his composure, even though it was clear she had an effect on him. Her teasing nature prevailed, though, as she replied with a playful smile, "Oh, so you're saying I'm not just another conquest for your amusement? How flattering."
His offer to speak with her uncle caught her off guard. She hadn't expected him to take her concerns seriously, and a part of her was touched by his gesture. "You would do that?"
she asked, a mix of surprise and hope in her voice. "You'd be willing to vouch for my safety and convince my uncle to let me stay? You really are full of surprises, Munir."
However, a hint of wariness crept into her expression as she continued, "I must admit, my uncle has not been too fond of you in the past. I'm not sure how he'd react to you advocating on my behalf. But...if you truly think it's worth a try, I won't stop you. Just be careful, alright?"
Her concern for his well-being was genuine, even if she was trying to hide her growing affection for him. There seemed to be a slight hint of fear hidden in her eyes as she spoke of her uncle, something someone with a keen eye would only catch. Just as quickly as it was there, it was gone and a playful glint was in her eyes again.“I do have another question, though. If I’m not just another conquest for your amusement, what am I?”“You’re a different kind of conquest. Not only for amusement.”
Munir responded in kind. It is true. He does not see Mina as a conquest. He isn’t able to put into words what he sees her as. All he knows is that when he isn’t with her, it feels as if a piece of himself is missing and nothing in the world can fill the hole.“I am more than willing, if you will let me. I do not fear your uncle, nor am I anxious to speak with him. I will speak true to my intentions. To keep you safe, healthy, and hopefully happy. That way, he can carry on his life without having to constantly worry about you. You deserve at least that much. And if it is within my princely powers, you will have it…”
Munir said, as the night breeze fluttered the curtains and allowed small streaks of moonlight to dance with the light of the hearth in his room.
He chuckled, finding a little more of his charm and playfulness at her question. “I said you’re a different kind of conquest. Make no mistakes. I want to conquer you. But, to answer your question. Truthfully, I don't know. What I can say is that I…I feel different when I’m with you. A moth to a flame, as you said before…”
Mina's heart fluttered at Munir's words, and she couldn't help but feel a warmth spreading through her chest. His genuine concern for her well-being touched her deeply, and she found herself slowly melting under the weight of his words. She let out a soft laugh at his response, the playfulness returning to her eyes as she teased, "Oh, a moth to a flame, is it? Be careful, my princeling, for you might just get burned."
But her flirtatious demeanor couldn't hide the genuine affection she felt for him. She leaned in slightly, her voice dropping to a hushed whisper, "And what if I wanted to be conquered by you, Prince? What if I wanted to see what lies beyond that charming facade of yours?"
Her heart pounded in her chest as she waited for his response, the playful banter masking the vulnerability she felt in that moment. She wanted to know if he felt the same way, if he saw her as more than just a fleeting fancy. But at the same time, she was afraid of the answer, afraid of what it could mean for them both.
Without verbally replying, Munir placed an arm on Mina’s back and spun her lightly and dipped her. As he did so, he leaned in and stole a quick but firm kiss from her lips. “What is fire, to a child of the Sun God? Lady Mina. I do not fear being burned. In fact, I welcome the challenge…”
Yes, Munir still had Mina dipped and he was still leaning close to her. In a swift and agile turn, he spun her back and had her upright again.“Do you hear that, Mina. The sound of war drums. It seems an army is on the march, intent on conquering. There are no walls in this war they cannot breach, no foreign land they cannot traverse, and no throne they cannot take. Are you sure you’re up for it?”
He spoke of his feelings for her, in a rather metaphoric way of course. In truth, he wanted her right then and there. Her asking to see what lies beyond his demeanor, and telling him what if she wanted to be conquered stoke the fire that already burned within. His eyes now ablaze with desire and his voice laced with barbs meant to exert his will and desires.
Mina was momentarily taken aback by Munir's bold move, the sudden dip and the stolen kiss leaving her heart racing. But she quickly regained her composure, a mischievous glint in her eyes as she placed a hand on his chest and pushed him back slightly, pinning him against a nearby wall. "Oh, so you want a challenge, do you?"
she said, her voice low and teasing.
Leaning in close while pressing her body against his, she planted a deep and passionate kiss on his lips, intent on leaving him breathless for a moment before she pulled away, a sly smile playing on her lips. "You've piqued my interest, Munir. But don't think for a moment that you've won me over so easily."
Her hand trailed down his chest in a seductive manner, her eyes locked on his. "I'm not so easily conquered, you know. Even if I do want you to try to conquer me."
With a playful wink, she stepped away, leaving him against the wall. "But I do enjoy a good challenge. So, I'll let you try,"
she said, her voice dripping with flirtation. "Let's see what you're truly made of, princeling."
With that, she turned and began to walk away, but not before glancing back over her shoulder with a sultry smile. "Now what alcohol do you keep in your rooms? I'm quite parched."
Breathless would be the exact, most appropriate word to describe him after Mina had leaned in and returned his kiss. She knows the game Munir has been playing his entire adulthood. She seems to be quite an expert as well, something Munir intended on finding out for himself.
Munir was left, leaning against the wall as Mina stepped away and inquired about what alcohol he had in his room. Munir was silent, mind both scrambled and razor focused. “Honeyed mead, kept on ice, and my private bottle brought from Alidasht…”
was all that Munir said before he essentially peeled himself from the wall and made his way to Mina.
In one smooth motion, Munir had collected both of Mina’s delicate wrists in his left hand, spun her to face him, and pushed her up against the other wall in his room. Munir held Mina’s wrist firmly but not painfully, pressing them into the wall above her head as he leaned him to her intoxicatingly close. “You don’t get to just stoke my fire and walk away… I want you. Here and now… I must have you…”
Munir growled the words at Mina, voice low and lustful. His right hand had slipped around her neck, gently closing in on her airways.
Mina's heart was pounding in her chest as Munir closed in on her, pinning her against the wall with an intensity that sent shivers down her spine. She felt his breath on her skin, his lips dangerously close to her ear as he whispered his desires. A surge of desire and anticipation washed over her, and she couldn't deny the pull she felt towards him. His touch was both commanding and tender, a paradox that ignited a fierce desire within her. She met his intense gaze with equal determination, refusing to show any sign of vulnerability, though her breaths were coming faster now."My, you speak with such conviction,"
she whispered, her voice filled with a mix of challenge and desire. "Do you really think this is going to make me submit?"
She tilted her head slightly, her lips teasingly close to his ear. "You'll have to do more than just hold me against the wall to prove yourself. If you want me, truly want me, then show me. Show me that I'm more than a passing fancy."
With that, she brought one leg up and hooked it around his, her body pressing even closer to his. She nipped at his ear as if to tempt him to try something as she sensed his hand tightening around her neck, and while part of her welcomed the sensation, another part of her knew they were treading dangerous waters. Her words were a challenge, a test of his sincerity. She was drawn to him, there was no denying that, but she wouldn't let herself be a fleeting moment in his life. She wanted something real, something lasting. And she hoped he could prove himself worthy of that.
Munir let out a deep, throaty growl. She was issuing him challenge after challenge and he was going to answer as she was expecting him to. Indeed, the grip he had on her neck tightened, and he pressed her wrists into the wall even harder. He leaned in, not intending on stopping this time as he approached her neckline.
He gave her a sucking kiss, letting his teeth graze her flesh and allowing himself to taste her.
Mina gasped softly as Munir's grip tightened around her neck, a mixture of surprise and arousal coursing through her veins. But as his lips trailed down her neck, she felt a pang of uncertainty. She had always been open-minded and unafraid of exploring her desires, but there was something different about this moment, something that made her heart flutter with nervousness…and she had a secret."Munir, w-wait…"
she whispered, her voice quivering with emotion. "I need you to know something."
She paused for a moment, gathering her courage. Harlot. Whore. Slut. Lady of the night.
All these phrases rang through her mind, but if they knew the truth…"This... this will be my first time."
Her words hung in the air between them, the weight of her confession sinking in. She looked up at him, her eyes searching for understanding and acceptance. "I want this, I want you, but I also want, no, I need you to know the truth,"
she said, her vulnerability showing. "Everything I am, everything people perceive me as…it’s all been a ruse."
Mina took in a shaky breath as she looked at him. "I want to explore this passion between us, but I want it to be with someone I care about deeply,"
she admitted, her voice barely above a whisper. "And I care about you, Munir. More than I ever thought possible."
Munir’s kisses stopped just before her collarbone. The way Mina began to speak made him nervous. His hands naturally dropped to his sides as Mina continued to speak. His breathing was steady, but his hands gave his feelings away. They trembled slightly and the most minute amount of sweat gathered in his palms…
As Mina finished her words. Munir’s eyes dropped slightly. Gone was the lust and raging fire from before. What replaced it was a sense of serenity and adoration. His arms wrapped around the small of her back, keeping the pair of lovers close. He leaned in and kissed her deeply and tenderly. His voice was soft and full of care as he said “Lady Mina Blackwood. I love you.”
At the end of his words, he gently led her to his bed, allowing her to slide under the covers before he did so himself. “You will be the last woman I take to my bed. From now, until my last day…”
Munir said to Mina tenderly. His hands deftly began caressing her body, taking care to exhibit both passion and care. His lips picked up where they left off, claiming what is his.
The fire crackled in the hearth. The curtains fluttered in the wind. The sounds of passion echoed in his chamber and thus, the hapless playboy has found his safe harbor, his home.