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2 yrs ago
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Time: Evening
Location: Tough Tavern
Interactions: @Apex Sunburn Sjan-dehk/Cynwaer @princess Anastasia
Outfit: Dress

Thea was in the middle of a lively dance with a sailor whose hands were becoming a bit more adventurous than she realized. She swayed to the music, laughing and enjoying herself, but the sailor's increasingly bold touches were starting to make her feel uncomfortable. Just as she began to consider how to extricate herself from the situation, she heard Anastasia’s familiar voice calling her over.

Without a second thought, she disengaged from the sailor, offering him a quick, apologetic smile before practically skipping over to Anastasia. Her excitement was palpable as she wrapped her arms around her friend for support, leaning into her warmth.

“To ships and peace!” she echoed loudly, raising her glass high before downing her whiskey in one go. She giggled, her eyes sparkling with mischief. “I love sailors, they always know how to have the best time...at least until they start fighting like what happened earlier.” She shuddered at the memory, but quickly shrugged it off, her smile returning.

Thea glanced at the two men Anastasia had joined, her curiosity piqued. “But tonight, it’s all about fun and adventure!” she proclaimed, her voice full of enthusiasm. “So, who are these fine gentlemen we’re toasting with?” She leaned comfortably against Anastasia, her cheeks rosy from the alcohol and the excitement of the night.

Torvi & Ryn

Fenrys regarded Ryn with a mixture of curiosity and caution, his senses attuned to the man's presence. The scent of rain mingled with the faint unique scent that clung to Ryn's clothes. The dire wolf's keen eyes studied Ryn, assessing him with a quiet intensity as he listened to the man's words.

After a moment of consideration, Fenrys rose to his feet, his movements fluid and graceful. With a flick of his tail, he gestured for Ryn to follow him, his steps deliberate as he made his way towards the door of the café. Pausing only briefly to ensure the coast was clear of any patrons that might be frightened by the wolf, Fenrys pushed open the door with a gentle nudge of his muzzle, the warm glow of the café's interior spilling out onto the rain-soaked streets.

Turning to face Ryn, Fenrys fixed him with a steady gaze before nodding towards the bustling interior of the café. It was as if he was inviting Ryn to take a peek inside, a silent gesture that spoke volumes without the need for words. And as Fenrys' gaze drifted towards a figure with hair the color of moonlight seated at one of the tables, he nodded towards her as if to say “she is why I'm here.”

Ryn followed the dire wolf’s amber stare across the café to a woman who looked like she had been spun out of moonbeams and sunlight. Her hair was a river of liquid silver that flowed over her shoulders, and her dress seemed to have been woven from strands of pure gold. Suddenly he felt immensely underdressed in his simple dusty blue dress shirt, mustard yellow ascot, and light grey waistcoat and houndstooth trousers. “Is she your friend?” he asked. Taking the resonant growl as affirmation, he surveyed the café’s patrons. “And where is your date? I find it hard to believe any of the canine variety would be foolish enough to leave an impressive specimen like you alone.”

As Ryn asked about Fenrys' date, the wolf almost chuckled, a low rumble vibrating deep in his throat. The concept of a date was foreign to him, and he hadn't given much thought to finding a mate. But the idea of being seen as an impressive specimen did bring a sense of pride to his wolfish heart.

A heartbeat passed before Ryn smiled at the massive beast next to him, “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to come inside? I am quite certain I can convince others that you’re simply an exceptionally large, fluffy dog—if you don’t find the notion too offensive, that is.”

The wolf paused, considering Ryn's offer. His gaze shifted to Torvi, who was now observing them with her characteristic golden gaze. There was a silent exchange between them, a wordless communication that spoke volumes.

After a moment, Torvi shrugged and nodded, a small smile playing at the corners of her lips. With her silent approval, he turned his attention back to Ryn, nodding in agreement. The idea of being mistaken for a large, fluffy dog didn't offend him—in fact, it seemed rather amusing. With a flick of his tail, Fenrys gestured for Ryn to lead the way into the café and he would follow closely behind Ryn. His presence drew curious glances from the other patrons and even some shocked gasps. It always amused Fenrys the way people were often so frightened of him or surprised by him. Perhaps that was what drew him to Ryn currently, the lack of that fear and judgment.

A few steps into the Morning Blossom Cafe, Ryn found himself bathed in the radiant smile of a cheerful waitress. The brunette stood near the entryway, a wicker basket cradled in her hands, her mere presence seeming to set the very air alight with warmth and welcome.

“Welcome to the Morning Blossom Cafe!” Her voice rang out like chiming bells, each word infused in genuine enthusiasm. “My name is Mingyu and I am so pleased that you have decided to come here today. I will be your guide for the courting event. I hope you love the food and enjoy the chance to meet a wonderful new person!”

Mingyu’s gaze flicked past Ryn to the massive wolf shadowing his footsteps. Her eyes widened slightly, but her smile never faltered.

“I hope you can accommodate for two? My companion here is Mr. Fluffins. Don’t let his size deceive you—he’s gentle, and better behaved than most.” Ryn sank to one knee, fingers ruffling the dense fur behind the wolf’s ears. “Isn’t that right boy? Yes! You’re such a good boy! Yes you are!” Ryn’s voice rose in pitch as he slipped into baby-talk, cooing and fawning over the wolf like a doting parent. And he savored every second. It was a rare privilege to pet a dire wolf in such a manner.

The display of affection between man and beast appeared to dissipate any lingering apprehension from onlookers and Mingyu alike. She extended the basket towards Ryn. “Please take a number from the basket. There will be a table with a big sign that matches your number!”

He reached into the basket and plucked out a neatly folded square of paper. Dark brows climbed as Ryn unfolded it to reveal the digits matching the table where a silver-haired woman sat, poised and regal. What were the odds of such a coincidence?

“Please let me know if you have any questions or even if you simply need someone to talk to!” Mingyu added.

A grateful smile graced Ryn’s lips as he nodded to Mingyu. He rose to his feet and made his unhurried way towards the designated table, the wolf padding silently at his heels. As they approached, his dark eyes locked the golden gaze of his date.

“Good day, fair lady.” Ryn greeted her with a bow and a smile. “My name is Fritz and I believe you already know our mutual friend, Mr. Fluffins? He also answers to the name…?” The invitation hung in the air between them, waiting for the moon maiden to introduce both herself and the wolf.

Torvi's lips curved into a devious grin as she regarded Ryn with amusement, her golden gaze sparkling with mischief. "Oh, I am tempted to let him suffer with the name Mr. Fluffins for the time being," she replied in her accented voice, her tone light and teasing. She received a growl and huff from her furry friend which only made her chuckle some.

Leaning forward slightly, she extended her hand in greeting. "I am Torvi," she introduced herself. "And this, as you so eloquently put it, is Mr. Fluffins also known as Fenrys." She gestured to the dire wolf beside him, who regarded Ryn with a regal air as he elegantly sat beside the table.

“Torvi, the pleasure is entirely my own.” His hand reached out, fingers closing softly around hers as he brought her knuckles to his mouth, grazing them with the lightest brush of a kiss. He then lowered himself to one knee before Fenrys and reached out to take one massive paw in his hands. Ryn touched his forehead to the fur. “And it’s a pleasure to meet you too, Fenrys.”

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance Fritz, and I must say, you have quite the way with words," Torvi continued, her tone playful as she insinuated she'd overheard his conversation with Mingyu when he'd entered. "I trust you and Mr. Fluffins have been getting along, how do you say…swimmingly?"

“I certainly hope so! I shudder to think of the alternative.” Ryn wiggled his fingers to show that they remained blessedly attached to his hand. “At the very least, I appear to have escaped with all my appendages intact, so I daresay we’re off to a promising start.”

With a hearty chuckle that bubbled up from his toes, he eased himself into the vacant chair. “But I suspect you would be a far better judge of the current state of my rapport with your furred and fanged companion.” At this proximity, he could see that despite her beguiling features and elegant attire, Ms. Torvi was no sheltered noblewoman. The well-defined muscles and the scar peeking from underneath the gold bracer on her left forearm hinted at a life spent honing the deadly arts of combat. A warm, inquisitive smile fixed on her as Ryn steepled his fingers on the tabletop. “So tell me, on a scale from ‘fortunate to be breathing’ to ‘honorary pack member’ where do I stand?”

Torvi regarded Ryn with genuine interest, her gaze thoughtful yet welcoming. "I would say you have certainly earned his respect and very well may be on the path to honorary pack member," she replied, her tone light yet sincere. "Though I must warn you, Fenrys has high standards."

His smile grew wider, brighter, at the prospect of being part of a pack. The sense of togetherness and acceptance called to an ache deep inside him he never allowed himself to express. Not because he was forbidden from doing so, but because he was afraid. “Then I shall endeavor to rise to the challenge,” Ryn said.

She chuckled softly, a musical sound that echoed through the café, her eyes dancing with amusement. As she spoke, she took a moment to examine the man a bit further. Upon first glance, he seemed almost delicate. Perhaps that's all those without a trained eye would see, but she saw more. There was a contrasting subtle strength to him. His poised demeanor hinted at a resilience that belied his appearance, a quality she respected. While many from her tribe would write him off and think of him little more than a fragile flower, Torvi saw quite the opposite and this drew her to him.

”So tell me, Fritz, are you a native to Caesonia or do you come from somewhere else? I know there are many here in Sorian from different places, myself included, and so I can not help but be curious where you come from. Especially with you having what seems to be more than common knowledge of my dear friend here.” As she asked her question, she picked up her menu to glance over it, but quickly put it back down as the dishes merely confused her.

“On paper, I am Varian. I have a home there, along with family, a thriving business, and people who rely on me. My mother is an immigrant from a land far away, but my father’s side of the family hail from Caesonia. Frequent visits to my extended family had made Caesonia a second home to me.” Ryn picked up the menu the same time Ms. Torvi did, skimming over the options as he continued. “However, if I’m being honest, the majority of my life has been spent traveling the length and breadth of Eromora. There are times when both Varian and Caesonia feel somewhat foreign to me.” He paused and glanced up from the menu. “How about you, Torvi? Where do you and Fenrys come from?”

As Ms. Torvi set her menu back on the table, Ryn lowered his own, studying her expression. “Is there nothing that appeals to your taste?”

His dual identity resonated with her own experiences of straddling two worlds, and she couldn't help but feel a kinship with someone who understood the feeling of being caught between cultures. "Varian and Caesonia," she repeated softly, the names rolling off her tongue with a hint of curiosity. "It seems you have quite the rich tapestry of experiences woven into your life, Fritz."

Torvi met Ryn's gaze with a thoughtful expression. "As for myself, I am technically a Varian as well. Though some from my tribe, including the jarl, my father, might argue that we do not belong to any one kingdom." Leaning forward slightly, Torvi continued. "I hail from the far north, where the land is harsh and unforgiving, and few dare to venture." She offered him a small smile, a glimpse into a world that was vastly different from the bustling streets of Varian or the grandeur of Caesonia.

“Up north? Are you from Krasivaya?” Ryn canted his head as he mentally rifled through the tribes that called the northern wilds home, and which proudly stood apart from the Varian Kingdom. “Which tribe?”

The more she spoke of her origins, the more certain he became that Ms. Torvi was no hothouse flower. The wilderness had shaped her, forging her into one of its own. It was there in the way she carried herself, in the strength of her bearing—a resilience born from the harsh, unrelenting demands of necessity rather than choice.

It was a captivating contrast to the woman who sat in front of him, resplendent in glittering gold. Steel beneath silk.

When he inquired about her menu choice, Torvi hesitated for a moment, her gaze flickering back to the discarded menu. "Truth be told, I am not familiar with these dishes," she confessed with a shrug. "I find myself unsure of what to try."

A playful glint entered her eyes as she regarded him once more. "However, since you have shown impeccable taste in companions," she said, inclining her head towards Fenrys with a smile, "perhaps you could choose something for me to try. I trust your judgment."

A similar glint reflected off of Ryn’s eyes. “Well now, if that be the case… Do you know what I do whenever I visit an unfamiliar eatery and find myself flummoxed by the menu?” He paused, allowing enough time to pass for her to venture a guess.

"You ask the waitress to surprise you and pray they have good taste?" She pondered after a brief moment of thought.

“I simply select a dish at random and pray to the Creators, spirits, fates and ancestors that I won’t be retching my guts out in the next several hours.” He flashed a grin before snatching up the menu and positioning himself beside Ms. Torvi. Leaning in close, he whispered, “Close your eyes.” Gently, he took her hand in his, guiding her finger to the menu. “I’ll trace your hand down the list, and whenever you want, say stop. Ready?”

Torvi felt a flicker of excitement as Ryn's closeness enveloped her, his boldness stirring something within her. His playful demeanor and confident approach resonated with her own appreciation for directness and spontaneity. With a playful glint in her golden gaze, she met his eyes, a mischievous smile playing on her lips. "I must admit, your approach is as daring as it is charming," she murmured, her voice laced with a hint of flirtation. As his hand intertwined with hers, ready to guide her finger along the menu, she surrendered to the moment, relishing in the unexpected thrill of anticipation that coursed through her. "Lead the way, Fritz," she said in response with a smirk. She waited a moment, letting him guide her hand until she felt the moment was right. "And stop." slowly, she opened her eyes to see where she landed.

But as her lashes began to lift, Ryn whisked the menu away. “If you want it to be a tad bit more thrilling, let’s keep it a surprise,” he suggested, punctuating his words with a playful wink.

He drank in Ms. Torvi’s smile for a heartbeat longer before dropping to one knee and presenting the menu to Fenrys. “And what will it be for you, my hirsute lord?”

There was a moment when he just stared at Ryn before his eyes locked onto the menu. A few seconds later, Fenrys pressed his wet snout onto an item. “Excellent choice.”

Once resettled in his chair, Ryn beckoned to a passing server with an easy wave. “We would like to have one of this and one of that,” he said, pointing to the items his companions had selected. He took care to ensure that Fenrys’s dish was free of anything that might be harmful to a wolf. “And I’d also like to order the least popular dish, if you please.”

The waiter blinked, momentarily taken aback by the unusual request, regained his professional mien with a nod and dutifully noted the order. [color=9354FF]“Will that be all, sir?”
“Oh, if it’s no trouble, may we have extra small plates as well?” The waiter nodded, and with a final thank you from Ryn, he departed from the table.

Turning to face his enchanting date, Ryn clapped his hands together, his eyes alight with anticipation. “How exciting!” he exclaimed, his voice filled with enthusiasm, eager to see what they would get.

Torvi chuckled, a rich sound that matched the warmth in her golden eyes. She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table. “You have a knack for turning the mundane into an adventure, don’t you?” Her gaze flicked to the departing waiter before returning to Ryn. “I must admit, I am intrigued to see what the least popular dish is. Perhaps it is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.”

“Precisely!” Ryn exclaimed, mirroring Ms. Torvi’s posture and leaning in closer. “And it would be a travesty, a true disservice, to let the fruits of someone’s labors go unrecognized and untasted. No! We must give this culinary potential its moment in the spotlight.”

She glanced at Fenrys, who had settled comfortably beside her chair after picking his own dish, then back at Ryn. “So, tell me more about your travels, Fritz. What is the most extraordinary place you have visited? And have you ever encountered something that truly left you in awe?” Her tone was light and conversational, yet her eyes held a deeper curiosity, reflecting her own love for adventure and the unknown.

He pondered the question. “Well that’s a far trickier question to answer than you might think. Every place has been extraordinary in its own way and each left a mark on me. It’d be impossible to narrow it down to a single destination.” He chuckled weakly, “But that would be a terribly unsatisfactory answer, wouldn’t it?”

So he lapsed into contemplative silence once more while he sifted through the memories. Suddenly, he laughed. “Excuse me,” Ryn shook his head as a blush crept across his cheeks. “I had the entire world to choose from, and the first place that springs to mind is my home city.” Despite a life spent traversing the globe, he still couldn’t stop loving Erwynn and its denizens.

“How about this,” he suggested, his eyes brightening with a sudden burst of inspiration. “What if I tell you the first story that comes to mind from my travels, and perhaps you could share one of your own in return?" He extended his hand, an open invitation to seal the deal.

Torvi smirked, nodding as she met his hand with her own and shook on it. She had many stories she could tell, but she was quite curious of his own story. So she sat and listened as he began his tale, captivated by how he spun his words.

Ryn’s dark eyes roamed around a bit before landing on the dire wolf and he smiled. “In the land of Ruz’Ghard,” he began, “I came across a tribe of people who wore the skin of animals. Their spirit animal, to be exact, and it was believed that they could transform into them at will. I never got the chance to see if that was true or not, but they had many folklore involving animals. The one that stuck out the most to me was the legend about a dog who turned into a human.”

Ryn turned his attention back to Ms. Torvi, studying her closely as she studied him. “Once upon a time,” he said, his voice taking on a storyteller’s cadence, “there was a chieftain’s son and a dog that were inseparable. They spent their days roaming the hills and forests together, hunting and playing and enjoying each other’s company. The chieftain’s son loved the dog as he would a brother, and the dog loved the chieftain’s son with a fierce loyalty that knew no bounds. But, as many of these stories go, their happiness would not last forever. War plagued the land, claiming many victims, including the chieftain’s son.”

“With his dying breath, the chieftain’s son asked his dog to take care of his people in his place. The dog vowed he would. And after his best friend and family died, the dog tore off the human’s skin.” He gestured with his hands, pretending to peel off his own skin before placing the imaginary skin over his face. It peeked through Ryn’s fingers.

“And wore it, transforming into the chieftain’s son. And no one was none the wiser. The dog lived out his days as the chieftain’s son, protecting his people. He won the war and brought peace to the land. He sired many children, who would become the great ancestors of these skin-changers.”

She chuckled as she clapped, her gaze shifting to Fenrys. “Well, Fenrys, what do you say? Are you secretly a human in disguise?” she teased, scratching behind the wolf’s ear. Fenrys gave a soft, playful growl, making her smile even wider.

Turning back to Ryn, Torvi leaned forward, her interest piqued. “My story does not come from my travels, but from my home,” she began, her tone light yet serious. “In my homeland, the far north where the winters are long and harsh, there are legends about the dire wolves. It is believed that long ago, these majestic creatures were magical. Their power was coveted by sorcerers and sorceresses, but the wolves were wise and wary, not easily trusting of others.”

She paused, her eyes distant as she recalled the tales of her people, trying to imitate the way the scalds of her village would tell the story. “Those who craved their magic began to hunt them, but the dire wolves were crafty and not easy to kill. So, those wicked men and women decided they needed something better. They worked together, weaving their dark magics to create a creature specifically to capture and kill the dire wolves, especially their young. These creatures were formidable, but they had a weakness: they needed to feast on blood…human blood.” She paused once more for dramatic effect as her eyes found Ryn’s, a dark and sinister look shining in her eyes.

”There was a tribe of humans that lived near the homeland of the wolves and they unfortunately became the target of these creatures' sanguine hunger. As the dire wolves and tribe of humans found themselves both hunted and dwindling in number, they decided to forge a pact.”

Torvi’s voice took on a reverent tone as she continued. “The wolves granted the humans some of their sacred magic, teaching them how to wield it. Together, they found a way to combat the sorcerers and their creatures. They saved each other and, though those ancient wolves and humans are long gone along with the magic, the bond between our tribe and the wolves of the far north remains strong. It is why you will often see a human and wolf companion in my homeland.”

She finished her tale, her eyes meeting Ryn’s once more with a much softer look. “And that is why Fenrys and I are so close. It is a bond that goes back generations, forged in blood and magic.” Her gaze softened, a small smile playing on her lips. “Your story was captivating, Fritz. It is fascinating how much our tales, though from different lands, share a common thread of loyalty and transformation.”

Ryn sat transfixed, the clatter of cutlery and din of conversation dissolving into a hazy backdrop as Ms. Torvi’s tale enveloped him. Her words painted vivid images in his mind, each stroke a vivid hue of magic and wonder.

Throughout the tale, his expression shifted. His eyes widened in fasination at the mention of the wolves’ awe-inspiring power, so potent and alluring that sorcerers yearned to harness it for themselves, and his brows furrowed when she described the wicked sorcerers and their bloodthirsty creations. Ryn even shivered and he uttered a single, poignant word: “Scary.” However, once it became clear that this was story about how a sacred bond was forged between beast and man, his expression brightened.

In the silence that followed the story’s conclusion, Ryn simply stared at Ms. Torvi. Then, slowly, he brought his hands together in a quiet applause. “Wow… I mean, wow. Words fail me. Thank you, Torvi, for sharing this incredible piece of your tribe’s history and culture with me. I simply must visit someday.”

Glancing furtively around the room, Ryn leaned in conspiratorially, his voice dropping to a whisper. “Though, I feel compelled to caution you that there are individuals in Caesonia who are rather sensitive to any mention of the arcane arts. So it might be prudent to refrain from using the word ‘magic’ during your stay here.” He settled back into his chair and adopted a more jovial tone. “In fact, there was this one time when I was reported to the authorities for performing a few harmless parlor tricks at a soirée.” He heaved a dramatic sigh, a hint of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “I ended up spending the next three hours teaching everyone magic tricks, just to prove no real magic was involved.”

Torvi watched Ryn’s reactions with amusement, her own heart warming as she shared a piece of her heritage. When he applauded, her smile widened, a rare flush of pride coloring her cheeks. “I am glad you enjoyed it. Our history is dear to us, and it is always a pleasure to share it with those who appreciate its depth.” She chuckled softly at his eagerness to visit her homeland. “If my brothers and sisters and I can accomplish our goals and convince our people to embrace the present and accept outsiders, I would be more than happy to welcome you to our homeland. You would be able to see firsthand the bond we share with the wolves and our way of life. It is this goal that has brought me to Caesonia, actually.” She explained, not entirely a lie. She did wish to gather information to bring back to her tribe to convince them that their ways were outdated and it was time to adapt.

This intrigued him and also brought a question to mind. “Is that why you’re attending a courting mixer?”

Torvi laughed a little and nodded. “Partially, yes. I am trying to establish relationships and get to know the culture here.” She leaned in slightly, her voice lowering as she continued. “I must admit, I forget sometimes how frightened people in this new world are of something so deeply rooted in our histories. It is fascinating, yet also sad, that fear can overshadow understanding. So I thank you for the reminder, I certainly wouldn't want to end up detained and trying to explain myself like you had to.” Her brow furrowed slightly, but the arrival of the waiter drew her attention.

As the plates were set before them, Torvi’s eyes widened in surprise. The blossom salad was a vibrant array of colors, the sunrise plate a picturesque arrangement, and the chicken and waffles for Fenrys were presented with an elegance she had never encountered. “Thank you,” she murmured to the waiter, her eyes fixed on the food.

Before the meal commenced in earnest, Ryn carefully dished out a portion of each item onto the extra plates, ensuring both he and Ms. Torvi could sample each. He set down Fenrys's plate in front of him. “Bon appétit.”

She examined her dish, the artistry of it almost too beautiful to disturb. Carefully, she picked up her utensils, her hands moving with a deliberate grace as she debated how to start. With a small, decisive nod, she took a bite, her eyes lighting up as the flavors danced on her tongue. “This is….different, yet quite delightful,” she said, glancing at Ryn. “I have never had something presented so elegantly before. It is almost a shame to eat it, but the taste makes it worth it.”

Fenrys, meanwhile, eyed his dish with interest, and with a nudge from Torvi, he began to eat, his approval evident in the way he savored each bite. Torvi turned her attention back to Ryn, curiosity and admiration evident in her gaze. “You have quite a way of making an experience out of everything, Fritz. I appreciate that.”

As they savored their meal, and long after their plates were cleared, the conversation flowed effortlessly, meandering from one topic that floated to the surface of their minds to the next. Ryn’s curiosity eventually led him to ask, “I can’t believe I neglected to ask this earlier, but what do you do for a living, Torvi?”

To say she was surprised at how easily she found talking to this man would have been an understatement. Coming to the mixer today she was sure she would be stuck with some stuffy noble who only wished to talk about themselves, so this experience truly was a pleasant and welcome surprise. She pondered his question for a moment, trying to think of the best way to describe what she did to him. “Apologies, I am merely trying to think of how to tell you my job in your language. In my native tongue I suppose I would be called Kylflingar, but I believe the more common term here would be sellsword or mercenary even.” She began explaining, hoping she was using the correct terms.

“I was hired by the Danrose family as extra skilled protection for the children when they required it. In exchange, I get to attempt to form relationships with the nobles and learn of the different customs. All while also being paid, of course.” She laughed a little and shrugged. “Oh, I hope that does not frighten or worry you in any way?”

A jolt ran through him. It stirred. Ryn made no attempt to hide his surprise. “You are employed by the royal family!? What a illustrious position! Your skills as a Kylflingar must be unparalleled for the Crown itself to seek out your services. How did this come to be?”

Torvi shrugged nonchalantly, the weight of her position seemingly inconsequential to her. “To me, it matters not if I am working for royalty or a mere merchant. Pay is pay, and a job is a job. The idea of kings and queens is rather foreign to me, and I truly do not understand the prestige they hold nor the….glory they demand of others to view them in.” She had to pause at the end, trying to find the right word and even then she wasn't sure if she got it.

“My work as a Kylflingar has begun to spread, and word of my skills reached the Queen. She wrote to me, requesting my services. It was as simple as that.” Torvi’s eyes met Ryn’s, a flicker of amusement dancing within them. “I suppose it was my reputation that caught her attention, rather than any understanding of the status she holds. To me, she is simply another person.”

Ryn nodded, absorbing her words. The Queen’s personal involvement in her employment was noteworthy. Further inquiry into Ms. Torvi’s exploits might prove prudent.

She glanced at Fenrys, who seemed to hold her stare for a long moment and then she sighed. ”It seems I am to be reminded of another meeting I must attend soon and so we must depart here shortly. This was…nice. A lot more pleasant than anticipated. Perhaps we can speak more in the future?”

Ryn’s attention snapped to their surroundings, then to the clock, realizing with a start how much time had passed. The mixer had long since concluded. “I hadn’t noticed the hour! My apologies if I’ve caused you to be tardy for your next meeting.” Ryn hastened to draw out the chair behind Ms. Torvi, extending his hand to assist her. “Time has a way of slipping by when in delightful company. It was an absolute pleasure to make your acquaintance, Torvi, and yours, Fenrys.” He dipped his head to the wolf before favoring the woman with a smile. “I quite enjoyed our conversation and look forward to our next meeting.” He bowed deeply, her hand still clasped in his.

When Ryn withdrew, he left behind a business card in her grasp. “Until then, farewell.”

Time: Late Morning
Location: Royal Curd
Aesthetic: Outfit

Kalliope groaned as she slowly woke up, her body protesting with every movement. The previous night’s exertions had left her muscles sore and her mood foul. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she reluctantly sat up, her joints creaking in complaint.

"Damn gang members," she muttered to herself. "Of all the ways to spend a night." But she did have to admit that the company she had in dealing with the issue was quite pleasant. The thought of the captain actually had a genuine smile crossing her lips briefly.

Grumbling, she forced herself out of bed and glanced at her desk. A piece of paper caught her eye, advertising the church event followed by the grand opening of the Royal Curd. She sneered in disgust at the thought of attending church. "Ew. Absolutely not," she scoffed. But the idea of witnessing the ridiculousness of the Royal Curd did bring a faint smirk to her lips. It might at least prove to be entertaining.

Resigned to facing the day, Kalliope got ready, choosing an outfit suitable for the slightly rainy weather outside. She pulled on a dark cloak with a hood, sturdy boots, and armed herself with a few concealed blades, out of habit and caution.

Stepping outside, she made her way through the bustling streets of Sorian, her mood gradually improving as she anticipated the spectacle awaiting her. The rain was light, more of a persistent drizzle, but it didn't bother her. She arrived at the Royal Curd, a grand and ostentatious establishment in the fine dining district.

The interior was even more extravagant than she had expected. Everything was gilded in gold or some shade of yellow, creating an almost blinding effect. Portraits of King Edin holding cheese were plastered all over the walls. The centerpiece was a grand hall with a fountain spewing yellow water. Kalliope rolled her eyes in disbelief at the over-the-top opulence of it all. Whoever decided on the golden shower fountain should be shot….or maybe praised and given a raise. She thought to herself as she realized the subtle insulting humor of it all.

As she entered, she was greeted by a beautiful waitress dressed in a vibrant yellow gown.

"Welcome to The Royal Curd! We are delighted to have you here. If you possess a ticket bestowed by King Edin himself, you are cordially invited to enter our grand event free of charge. For those without a royal ticket, the entry fee is two hundred gold.”

Like hell she was going to give 200 gold back to Edin. If she could screw him out of more gold, then she absolutely was going to. So Kalliope put on a show of searching her pockets, making a small scene as she stepped aside. "Oh, I must have misplaced it. I'm so sorry, please go ahead," she said, waving other guests past her with exaggerated apologies. In the slight chaos she caused, she silently swiped an already used ticket from a distracted waiter and presented it to the waitress.

"Found it! My apologies for the delay," she said, smiling sweetly.

"Cheesetastic! Welcome to The Royal Curd! Please come right in and take a left toward the event room. You will find King Edin seated at the grandest table, adorned with a majestic throne against the far wall. Velvet ropes will guide you to his table, as for this special event, King Edin is graciously allowing guests to have private audiences with him! Imagine the thrill of conversing with our revered king one on one! How exciting!"

Kalliope smiled, her eyes glinting with mischief. "Been there, done that, don't care to do it again, but know I'm going to have to," she said smoothly before walking away towards the event room.

As she entered, she scanned the room for familiar faces, taking in the lavish decorations and the spectacle around her. She kept her eyes sharp and her senses alert, ready for whatever the day might bring.

Time: Morning
Location: Munir's Room
Attire: Munir's Shirt
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Munir (hubby)

Mature Content Warning

”Surely I don't know what you're talking about.” Mina teased with a grin as he squeezed her waist, but then he was close and whispering in her ear. Feeling Munir's breath hot against her earlobe, Mina's cheeks flushed with warmth, her body responding to his closeness with a mixture of desire and anticipation. His touch ignited a fire within her, one that threatened to consume her entirely if she didn't exercise some restraint.

”I…” She was cut off, letting out a gasp of surprise as he bit her earlobe then she was on her back and staring up at him. Her chest rose and fell in slightly ragged breaths as heat pooled deep in her core. ”Is that a promise or a threat?” She finally murmured out in a breathy voice as she angled her head to give him even more access to her neck. Her body instinctively arched up into him, knowing she was just about to lose all self control.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Munir's passionate advance was interrupted by the sound of someone at the door, causing Mina to let out an exasperated sigh. She shot Munir a playful glare as he excused himself to attend to Hakim, her disappointment evident in her eyes.

As Munir leaned in for one last kiss, Mina couldn't help but lose herself in the moment, savoring the taste of his lips against hers. Reluctantly, she pulled away as he left to collect the clothing, a mischievous glint in her eye.

"I suppose I can forgive the gods this time," she teased, her voice laced with longing. ”But they owe me one." Despite her words and disappointment, she took the brief moment alone to try and calm her racing heart. She knew she needed to get a hold of herself, to follow through with her suggestion of going out, but just as she thought she was calming down her mind would betray her with fantasies that could be.

As Munir returned with the clothing, Mina nodded in agreement to his suggestion as she stood up. "Yes, Bertha's sounds perfect," she replied, a hint of excitement in her voice as she watched him set the clothing down. "Stay. I'm going to need help changing.” She said just as he turned around, all the while letting his shirt slip off of her shoulders and pooling around her feet, her lips curling into a smirk as she watched Munir's reaction.

Time: Morning
Location: Munir's Room
Attire: Munir's Shirt
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Munir (hubby)

”Would be suitors, huh?” Mina said with a small laugh and shake of her head. ”I think you might be the only one mad enough to fall in love with the whore of Varian and Caesonia.” She said it in jest, but there was some truth behind her words. The truth was that she had been content with never actually finding love, to continue to be considered a whore and tainted in everyone's eyes, so it was still somewhat hard for her to believe that he actually loved her.

As Munir leaned in and whispered his mischievous thoughts, Mina's cheeks flushed slightly with a warm blush. His teasing words sent a shiver down her spine, igniting a playful spark within her.

"Well, if you're so eager to tear off this shirt," Mina replied with a coy smile, her voice laced with a hint of mischief, "perhaps I should just keep wearing it to drive you wild and see how long you can resist while we're out and about."

She watched as Munir slipped out of bed and disappeared for a moment, his absence leaving a void in the room. So Mina took a moment to explore her surroundings. She rose from the bed, her bare feet padding softly across the floor as she ventured around Munir's chamber. Her eyes drifted over the various trinkets and decorations that adorned the room, each one telling a story of its own.

Approaching the desk, Mina couldn't help but be drawn to a half-finished letter lying there. She hesitated, knowing she should respect Munir's privacy and truthfully she would have if she hadn't read two simple words. Count Blackwood.

Just as she was about to investigate further, Mina heard Munir returning, and she quickly moved away from the desk, leaving the letter untouched for now. Returning to the bed, she sat down, smoothing the fabric of Munir's linen shirt beneath her fingertips as she glanced at him with a grin.

As Munir sat down beside her, Mina couldn't help but admire the way the morning sunlight danced across his bare torso, casting a golden glow upon his skin. She felt a surge of affection swell within her along with desire.

"Well," Mina began, pondering the question for a moment, "It seems like we may have a bit of rain today, judging by those clouds I can see gathering out here. It may be best to keep whatever we do to be indoors. Perhaps we can find some place to get some breakfast, I'd suggest Bertha’s Breakfast Bar. After that, I'm curious as to what you may have in mind?”

She reached out and gently brushed a stray lock of hair from Munir's face, her touch lingering as she met his gaze with a soft smile. "Whatever we decide to do, as long as we're together, I know it will be a day to remember.”

Time: Morning
Location: Munir's Room
Attire: Munir's Shirt
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Munir (hubby)

Mina listened to Munir's earnest words, feeling a mixture of gratitude and frustration wash over her. His reassurances were comforting, but she couldn't shake the nagging doubt that lingered at the back of her mind. Despite his determination to protect her, she knew the dangers they faced were very real, and she couldn't bear the thought of him suffering because of her. Magic was outlawed, not just in Caesonia, but in her homeland too, and even Alidasht. Those caught suffered severe consequences, no matter who you were and those deemed an accomplice faced the same fate. He may believe his status could save her, but could it really?

As Munir spoke of their future together, painting a picture of happiness and love, Mina couldn't help but feel a twinge of longing. The idea of a life with Munir, free from the constraints of her past and present, was a tempting one, but she knew they still had many obstacles to overcome. Obstacles he still knew nothing about, yet she knew far too much about.

As Munir leaned in for a kiss, she felt a flutter of anticipation in her chest. She wanted nothing more than to lose herself in the moment, to forget about the weight of their burdens and simply bask in the warmth of his love. To believe life and love was nothing more than a fairytale and this was her Prince Charming.

But even as she leaned in to meet his lips, a voice in the back of her mind whispered warnings of the dangers ahead. She knew life never truly worked as it did in fairytales, especially hers. At some point, something would happen and then her world would begin to start crumbling down. Would she drag Munir with her? Would she ruin his life too? She was already a dead woman walking, wasn't she? There were so many questions, fears, and no matter what he said it wasn't going to be easy to banish those fears. But perhaps, for today, she could pretend she was in a fairytale. Then she could worry about the truth of the future tomorrow.

”I have done nothing of the sort, Munir. I have cast no spells on you.” She smirked at him, now hiding all of the thoughts racing in her head. ”I'm afraid you are merely struck with love sickness.” She giggled, only mere centimeters from his lips now.

With a heavy heart, Mina pressed her lips against Munir's, savoring the sweetness of the moment while silently resolving to revisit the topic of who she is and the dangers she brought with her at a later date. For now, she would allow herself to be swept away by the fairy tale romance they shared, that he longed for, but she knew that their journey was far from over. And when the time came, she would do her best to be ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead.

After a moment, she pulled away and looked at him with a grin. ”How about we go do something today? Get out together and have some fun. What do you say?”

Time: Morning
Location: Munir's Room
Attire: Munir's Shirt
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Hubby

Mina listened to Munir's heartfelt words, feeling a wave of relief wash over her as she heard the sincerity in his voice. His apology eased some of the tension that had been building within her, and she found herself slowly beginning to relax.

As he spoke of his privileged upbringing and his realization of the commitment required in a relationship, Mina couldn't help but feel a sense of gratitude for his honesty. She appreciated his willingness to acknowledge just how serious of a commitment he was asking for.

"Thank you, Munir," she said softly, her voice filled with genuine warmth. "I appreciate your honesty, and I understand that this is new territory for both of us."

She paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts before continuing. "But you need to know that I will challenge you, just as you will challenge me," she said firmly, meeting his gaze with unwavering determination and a small smirk. "I have a voice of my own, and I won't be swayed by coin or pretty gifts. Our relationship will be built on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. I'm not always going to give you you're way."

Mina took a deep breath, steeling herself for what she was about to reveal. "With that all said, there's something else you need to know about me and my family, Munir," she began, her voice steady despite the butterflies fluttering in her stomach. "It's not an easy thing to talk about, but you deserve to know."

She hesitated for a moment, gathering her courage before continuing. "Because of what I deal with and what the women of my family before me dealt with, we don't often live long," she explained, her voice tinged with vulnerability. “The constant sight of the dead, the voices, the torture from some of the ghosts…well it eventually drives us mad…” She took a shakey breath, knowing the next bit was going to be hard to talk about. ”My great aunt was locked up by her husband who was frightened of her madness…and she ended up throwing herself out a window and off a cliff side…my mother was ostracized from society, partially from have a child out of wedlock, and she ended up hanging herself because everything became too much when I was a small child…I have no idea what my fate will be…”

Mina searched Munir's face, hoping to see understanding and acceptance in his eyes. She knew that revealing this part of herself was a risk, but she couldn't keep it hidden from him. She needed Munir to know the truth, no matter how difficult it may be. ”I've been researching more into the condition and how to prevent things, but it's dangerous research as it has to do a lot with magic. That, in itself, can lead me to my pyre if the wrong people find out about it. Especially since in my research I've also discovered I'm a natural born witch...” If she was damning herself, she may as well go all in.

Time: Morning
Location: Munir's Room
Attire: Munir's Shirt
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Munir

When Munir gently picked up her hands, Mina couldn't help but feel a flicker of warmth amidst the turmoil within her. His kisses felt like soft whispers of reassurance, a reminder of the connection they shared. Yet she still couldn't bring herself to look at him as she lay her head on her knees that she'd been previously gripping tightly. Silent tears had begun to fall as she tried desperately to get a hold of herself and calm her racing heart.

As Munir released her hands and lifted her face to meet his, Mina found herself lost in the depths of his eyes. His words washed over her, filling her with a sense of both comfort and uncertainty. Was he being truthful? Had his words really only been a joke? Wasn't there always some truth to jokes? So many questions raced through her mind, but she tried to shove them away and really focus on what was being said now, believing what was said in this moment.

When he asked her to promise never to shed another tear because of him, Mina hesitated. She understood his intentions, his desire to shield her from pain, but she couldn't bring herself to make such a promise. Instead, she gently touched his cheek, her thumb tracing the contours of his face.

"I can't promise you that, Munir," she said softly, her voice tinged with sadness. "Life is unpredictable, and relationships are complex. Tears are a natural part of being human, and I can't guarantee that we'll never face challenges or hardships. But what I can promise you is this: I will always communicate with you, openly and honestly. We'll face whatever comes our way together, and we'll work through it, no matter how difficult it may be."

Mina's eyes searched Munir's, hoping he would understand the depth of what she was saying. "I promise to always be here for you, to support you, and to love you with all that I am," she continued, her voice steady with determination. Then Mina took a deep breath. "But we can't discuss marriage until I know you understand me, my plights, and what could be coming in the future," she added firmly, her voice steady despite the lingering traces of uncertainty. "I still have more to tell you, what I've told you so far is only the tip of the iceberg."

She reached out, gently placing her hand over Munir's heart, feeling the steady rhythm beneath her touch. "I need you to be fully aware of who I am and what I carry with me every single day, Munir," she continued, her tone earnest. "Only then can we truly decide if marriage is something we both want and are ready for."

Mina's expression softened as she searched Munir's face, a silent plea for understanding and patience shining in her eyes. "I want nothing more than to share my life with you, but I need to know that you're ready to accept all of me, including the parts that may be difficult or challenging, and I need you to realize this isn't a joke," she explained, her voice tinged with vulnerability. "Can you promise me that, Munir?” Perhaps there was a twinge of bitterness to her voice, upset that at first he couldn't take her confession seriously and made a joke out of it, but she hadn't been lying when she said they'd face challenges together and work through them. She knew that bitter feeling would fade before long.

Time: Morning
Location: Munir's Room
Attire: Munir's Shirt
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Munir (hubby)

Mina's heart plummeted as she watched Munir's reaction, her chest tightening with a mixture of panic and sadness. She couldn't believe it. Had she ruined everything by revealing her secret? The weight of Munir's feigned shock hit her like a ton of bricks, and she felt her world begin to shatter around her.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she listened to Munir's words, her breath catching in her throat. She had feared this moment, feared his reaction to the truth she had kept hidden from so many for so long. She knew the reaction might not be the greatest, but she wasn't expecting this. The thought that she might lose him now, just as she had begun to allow herself to fall for him, was almost unbearable.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, her voice trembling with emotion. "I didn't mean to...I never wanted to hurt you. I just...I didn't know how to tell you. I didn't want you to think I was crazy, or...or to be afraid of me." Her words came out in a rush, the panic and sadness in her voice palpable.

Mina's gaze dropped to her lap, unable to meet Munir's eyes as she struggled to contain her emotions. She felt a surge of anger rising within her, directed both at herself for not being brave enough to tell Munir sooner, and at the curse that had plagued her family for generations.

Her voice wavered as she spoke, her words laced with a bitter self-awareness. "I should have known this was going to happen," she murmured, her tone heavy with regret. "Every woman in my family has been feared, thought crazy, unlovable... Why did I think this could be any different?"

She hugged herself tightly, a tremor running through her frame as she fought to hold back the tears. The weight of her family's history, the burden of their curse, felt crushing in that moment. She had hoped, foolishly perhaps, that Munir would be different, that he would understand. But now, faced with his feigned shock and disbelief, she felt the sting of rejection like a knife to her heart.

Time: Morning
Location: Munir's Room
Attire: Munir's Shirt
Interaction: @Infinite Cosmos Munir

Mina chuckled softly at Munir's playful jest, shaking her head in amusement. "As tempting as that offer is, I think I'll need a bit more convincing," she teased, her eyes sparkling with mirth as she gazed into his.

She sighed contentedly as Munir nestled into her chest, feeling the comforting weight of his body against hers. In that moment, she didn't care about the boundaries they might be crossing; all that mattered was the warmth and closeness they shared. She gently stroked his hair, savoring the feel of his strand between her fingers.

Listening to his rambling explanation, Mina couldn't help but notice the sudden nervousness in Munir's demeanor. Without hesitation, she leaned in and pressed her lips tenderly against his, the kiss filled with warmth and understanding.

When she pulled away, Mina met Munir's gaze with a soft smile, her eyes reflecting a sense of calm and reassurance. "Thank you for everything you did last night," she said sincerely, her voice gentle. "I'm sorry it shook you up so badly, but I'm here now, and I'm safe. And I'm not going anywhere, at least for the time being."

Just then, Mina's attention was drawn to a ghostly figure phasing through the wall behind Munir. The ghost's sudden appearance made her pause, and she watched in surprise as it looked at her and Munir, gasped, and blushed before quickly disappearing.

"Speaking of last night, I think I have some explaining to do," she said, turning her gaze back to Munir with a sigh. She slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position, preparing herself for this conversation. How was she supposed to start? Did she just say ‘yeah, I see ghosts’? This wasn't going to be easy.

After a long moment of silence, she finally opened her mouth to speak. ”So the first thing I need you to understand is that I have no control over this. A long time ago, the women of my family were cursed…or some may say blessed, depending on how you want to look at it. We're, what many would call, mediums. We see spirits…I see spirits and I always have, ever since I was a little girl.” She paused there, wanting to give him time to react to this potentially damning information.
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