Interacting with: Princess Ryner
The countess became acutely aware of the presence of two mages, much more powerful than any student surrounding her would be. A shift of the eye revealed the familiar faces of Princess Ryner’s personal mages, assumedly a summons in regards to her request.That didn’t take nearly as long as I was expecting. She’s efficient, I’ll give her that.
Amaris thought to alert Cassandra to the change in plans but something stayed her voice. She knew very little about the girl, and she didn’t want to thrust her into the middle of something she could not handle, nor divulge information she could not be trusted with. Besides, if Cassandra’s presence was necessary… Amaris would not be the only one to take note of the escorts.
Quietly, Amaris fell into step with the mages allowing them to lead the way. The journey took as long as expected fighting the currents of hungry students as they made their way back to the administrative buildings. Crowds thinned out the closer they got to the destination making the set pace rather pleasant despite the circumstances.
Eventually there was no more hall left to walk down, no more stairs to climb. The trio had reached the end of the line, the one mage knocking on the door before standing aside to await a response. Amaris could hear the unmistakable voice of Ryner bid entrance to the inquiring guest, a soft exhale to steady herself before straightening her posture completely and stepping forward.
“Would you care for a glass of blood, Countess? It may make explaining how you came to be in the possession of such a dangerous artifact a little easier.
” The princess spoke as she gestured for Amaris to sit, the countess complying without hesitation.
“A glass would be most appreciated, Your Royal Highness. I’m embarrassed to say that a misunderstanding has resulted in the interruption of my feeding schedule. It would be nice to take the edge off while I make other arrangements. But if you would pardon my ignorance, I’m not at all sure what you mean by ‘dangerous artifact’.
Ryner opened the bottle and poured two glasses, sliding one across her desk before leaning back and sipping at it. She considered Amaris for several long minutes, her usual cheerfulness replaced with a somber expression. She finished her glass and sat forward, flipping through the pages of the book.“This book is written in the First Tongue, a language that predates the originals. They exterminated all those who spoke it and kept it for themselves, believing the very words themselves resonated with magical power. They taught their children, who eventually turned on their Sires, and the language was lost in their conflict. But plenty of their writings remain and many of them have secrets of magic and artifacts and processes we could never imagine.”
Ryner explained, putting the book down closer to herself than before. “They are unstable, unfinished processes. Incredibly dangerous and horrifically volatile in some cases. I’ve spent since before the Treaty deciphering and learning this language and I personally certify those who wish to handle these. Four vampires. None of them nobles. Even our Council members are not permitted anything in First Tongue.” “I’m sure you’ll understand I have a few concerns, starting with how you came into the book’s possession and how much you understand of it.”
Ryner made a gesture at the two at the back of the room and the doors opened and closed.
Amethyst eyes glistened with pure curiosity and cautious delight as they rested upon the book settled between her and Ryner. Hours she had poured over the bindings and the unfamiliar text within, running her fingertips over every inch of it, even the weight of the object could be felt in her hands despite not having held it in some time now. A book written in THE
First Tongue in her possession? Any scholar’s heart would flutter at just the thought of an opportunity to see such an artifact. But if her father had not been a certified handler then how exactly did he manage to acquire it, and why of all people would he leave it to her? The longer she thought about it, the more questions she had.
Amaris took a moment to sip at her glass, her nerves calming some as she did so. The expression on her face remained somewhat neutral but the look in her eye turned somewhat sorrowful as she continued to stare at the object.
“I suppose that’s where you and I see things a little differently.
” She spoke after a few moments of silence, turning her eyes back up to meet Ryner’s.
“With all due respect, ma’am… There isn’t a word in any language that couldn’t be considered powerful or dangerous. Words are capable of destruction and they are also capable of creation. A person, no… the world even, can be controlled with words alone. They are like music but they are also like fire, and once they have been spoken there is no way to reclaim them. In the most poetic sense, words are like a magic all their own… one that even we can use.
” A short silence filled the room between Amaris’ thoughts, the blood in her glass twirling in habitual circles before coming to an abrupt stop; the countess returning sharply to the present.
“And it’s not as if the history of magic is without its moments of volatility. Any incomplete experiment would be considered as such, but sometimes they can be better written off. There’s much to consider in that department so I don’t speak lightly when I say I can understand your concern on the matter…
” Amaris felt a pang of unease, unsure as to how she wished to proceed.
“I can assure you that I did not seek that out, it was gifted to me upon the death of a member of the council. There was no explanation, just the book and a sense that I shouldn’t tell anybody about it; or at least not right away. I had my suspicions concerning it but had no way to confirm them until just now, should have guessed with how difficult it was to translate. Translation might be a bit extreme of a word if I’m being honest, though. I have made some close approximations on very elementary words but even then, I am most likely wrong. So far, there is only one word associated with that book that I know with any kind of certainty.
”"Is that where our opinions differ, Countess? An interesting conversation but not what we are here to discuss."
Ryner asked dryly, unamused at Amaris's unnecessary additions. She tapped her fingers on the book. "You claim Lord Ralmevik, if I understood you correctly, left his daughter an artifact he had no legal right to own?"
Ryner demanded. "How was it delivered? Did a vampire or mortal hand it to you? Did it appear at the hour of his death?"
Amaris’ stare turned icy, her irises quivering between subtle shades as she sought to contain her rising emotions. Was this really what it came down to? That perhaps it hadn’t really been him who held the book and that Amaris had been tricked somehow; an easier claim to make but ultimately solved nothing but to shift the legal blame. But if it wasn’t someone posing as her father, the line of questioning could only lead in so many directions.
“You’re right, it isn’t what I came here to discuss at all, but I’m not sure I like where this is going. Do you honestly think that my father could possibly be a traitor to the crown; like that girl you had me paired with? Is that why she was assigned to me?
” The images of Minfilia being flung from the dorms and tossed like a criminal into the back of a van played in her mind like a stop motion video. It was perhaps a more irrational stretch considering the guards had been allowed to leave the immediate space. Princess Ryner was more than capable of handling herself but if Amaris had been considered a true threat, the opportunity would never have been given at all. A sharp exhale served to steady the already shaky memories of her youth, a time corrupted by grief and loneliness.
“That book was in one of many studies. It’s exact location was provided to me via a letter that accompanied his will. Addressed to me and me alone, that seal had been charmed so that if another tried to open it the information would be destroyed and the discovery left to the fates. Had this been a family heirloom it would have been presented to the main house for us to share. If he thought it to be something for the head of the house only it would have been presented to his Lordship Salazar, or me if I had been a few decades older. That means he didn’t want to leave that to chance if he didn’t have to, he guaranteed that I would find it and be the one to decide what to do with it… So I brought it here.
” The words tumbled from her lips as quickly as they appeared in her mind, an unstoppable force fueled by years of agonizing over the very subjects they now spoke of.
“If it is your concern that I’ll have more, don’t be… that was it. These questions you’re asking are the reason I’m here. Call it naive, or childish hope… but I felt that if I could learn about that book then maybe I could understand why what happened had to happen the way that it did. But clearly it’s a dead end for me, I mean I thought he had written the damn thing for the first few years.
” Amaris fell silent, draining the rest of her glass in one fell swoop. It served to alleviate only a small fraction of what she was experiencing, but at this point she would take just about anything she could get.
Ryner remained emotionless through Amaris’s explanation, refilling the vampire’s glass when she finished it. Ryner sipped at her own, eyes roaming Amaris’s face calculatingly. The black stayed but a genuine chuckle escaped her lips after a moment and she followed the noble’s example, tossing back her drink and refilling it. She set the bottle down and reached down, placing a thin black dagger on the desk.“If I believed hope naive or foolish, I would have walked into the sun centuries ago.”
Ryner sighed with an almost fond smile. “Did you know, your father had a nickname he loathed all those years ago. Remmy, we called him. He hated it, absolutely hated it. Especially once he hit adulthood. Suddenly, he was too manly for childish things, silly nicknames included.”
She fiddled with the dagger, staring at it absently. “We were turned together. Remmy, myself, and ten others. We grew up together. We thought we’d grow old together, all twelve of us. And then, it was all gone in an instant.” “Listening to you, it makes me remember back when we were mortal. Cydril and Remmy would be at each other’s throats over some petty academic discussion. Remmy always used a dirty tricky―I’m not even sure what it was, some turn of phrase or something or other―and my little brother would go storming off, ranting about some differential or another.”
Ryner chuckled again, reaching into her desk and pulled out another book. It was an exact replica of Amaris’s and as Ryner flipped them open, perfectly copies inside. “Do I think Ralmevik was a traitor? Not the way you think I do. But so did he and that’s why he killed himself.”
Ryner sat back in her chair, the blank look on her face reterning. “You have a choice here Ms. Marivaldi. I can show you what's in that book. You can learn everything and bear the weight that drove your father to his end or you take the other one, a fond but empty memory. Whichever you choose, you walk out of my office alive. I owe your father one last favor; I won’t dishonor my memory by breaking that faith.”
Amaris’ eyes tracked Ryner’s hand as she refilled her guest’s glass, somehow still remaining the perfect host despite all that had occured. She set to refilling her own before withdrawing a dagger from beneath the desk. But what stayed Amaris wasn’t anything the princess did, it was the words she spoke after. Stories of her father she had never heard, a piece of him untainted by accusations and conspiracies in someone else’s mind. Had they been speaking under different circumstances, Amaris might have broken down in actual tears.
Every word rang true, sounding exactly as she still imagined the man. Well, almost. He might have acted too tough for a nickname such as Remmy, but she remembered the time spent playing in libraries with him. He had never fully written off his childhood.
” She spoke, the name sounding strange but comforting as she laughed. Her eyes trailed between the two copies of the book, debating her choices heavily. Somehow, she couldn’t imagine anything that he wouldn’t have been able to handle, much less something that would drive the man to kill himself. They were words, that if spoken by anyone else, would have been branded a lie and cast away permanently.
The feelings burned her from the inside, so many thoughts, more questions than answers. Amaris was being given a choice to leave it all behind… to find closure in what information the princess did have to offer. But would she be satisfied or would the questions consume her for centuries to come?Some things are better off forgotten, wiped away from the slate completely. How many laws, how many stories have been stripped from living knowledge for the sake of peace and prosperity? What justice could be found in digging up graves?
But it was never about justice, not for her. Amaris might never truly believe that her father would set himself up for failure in the way that Ryner was telling her he had… but the manner of his death was only part of it. Knowing what he did, the late Lord Ralmevik had still chosen not only to keep the artifact, but to pass it on.
“A valuable experience to know that there was a version of this conversation that would have ended with a permanent expulsion. The version of my father that you knew, I have wished for decades that I got to meet.
” This time Amaris spoke slowly, the gears turning in her head like clockwork as she absently toyed with her house amulet with her free hand.
“There was always a reason with him, and while I may never know what that reason was it can’t just be ignored. There are many things that are best left in the shadows, withered away until nothing remains… but some? Irresponsible to do so. What is madness but a misunderstood state of clarity? Your Royal Highness?
” Amaris returned Ryner’s blank expression with a determined one of her own.
“I would like to formally request your permission to the knowledge contained within that book. I understand that I may not like what I find and that it has been considered the death of beloved member of our society. So with that being said, if there are preparations that should be made I am prepared to comply.
Ryner sat forward, picking up a case off the floor, gently laying in on the desk,and flicking it open. Several straps lined a plush inside and several pieces of obsidian nestled along the walls glinted in the artificial light. Ryner slipped real copy into her desk and strapped the fake into the case, closing it, locking it, and placing it back on the floor. She pressed something under her desk and the doors to her office opened, a member of the Royal Guard coming in. He bowed to both parties, released with a nod of Ryner’s head, and he left with the case held carefully. Sariel winked at Ryner and she shut the door soft a soft click.“My apologies for involving you in that little piece of deceit but if my sister knew I allowed this, I fear we both may face her wrath.”
Ryner pulled the book back out, flipping it open to the first page. “Over the years, I have come to claim some degree of mastery over the First Tongue. I rarely need references or guides anymore but this was a tricky piece of work. It isn’t an artifact by any means; Remmy would never be so reckless as to allow that to fall into your hands. At least not until he armed you with the tools to handle them.” “You’re aware of the legends that abound about the original vampires and the children? About their fantastic powers and incredible talents and the other things lost to their petty arguments?”
Things changed in an instant. Ryner moved in the blink of an eye, the Princess standing next t the noble, grabbing the back of her head, and shoving her face above the book. “Pay very close attention to what happens next. This is the Marivaldi’s magic, not a mage’s, and I don’t know if your blood has the power to break it.”
Ryner held the girl firm, dagging the dagger’s tip gently beneath Amaris’s right eye. It sliced through skin like butter, blood welling and dripping onto the page.
The drips stained the pages for just a moment before vanishing, again and again,until the words blurred red and like sand, blew away. Ralmevik’s graceful script shone briefly before dulling again. Ryner moved her hand and left the dagger next to the book, sitting in her own chair again as she watched Amaris closely. The top of the first page read “The Blood Arts of the Marivaldi Vampires” and the book immediately launched into various forms of blood magic those close enough to the First could perform.
Flinching as her body was moved without her consent, Amaris bit back a surprised hiss as the blade Ryner held broke flesh. As the princess continued to speak the countess had her eyes fixated on the book as instructed though there wasn’t much else in the way of choice in this case. For a brief moment she was worried that the stains that appeared would be permanent, that after all the lengths Ryner went to mislead her own sister, that Amaris had just damaged it. The reality, she found, was much stranger than she had been anticipating.
She could hear the words but they weren’t making any sense to her. Marivaldi magic? Stories of the vampires of old were hardly believable at the best of times. While she was familiar with more than a few of them, she had never imagined that the talents spoken of would be considered magic of all things. It just didn’t seem… possible.
Feeling the pressure behind her head release, Amaris began to straighten her posture once more but only slightly. Everything she had ever been taught screamed at her to look away, that the words revealed to her were not something she was allowed to see. The feeling was reminiscent of a child who had been caught with an inappropriate film or book.
“I- I’m not sure I understand what I’m looking at. I thought that the forbidden magics were a mage creation, an attempt to fight against the agreements despite their endorsement by Starag and Le Fey themselves. Something to be used against vampires not by them…
” There was a falter to her tone as if she didn’t quite believe the words she was speaking either. The mere shock of it prevented her from fully comprehending what lay on the page, the more she took in the crazier it seemed. Blood magic was a taboo subject to begin with, but to learn that her family name was somehow connected to several forms of it...
“Hold on, I’m not having any trouble reading this. What about all the translations, the First Tongue?
Ryner watched Amaris flick through several emotions, pulling out a band-aid and offering it to the Countess. Crow's feet crinkled at the edge of her eyes as amusement twinkled in her eyes. The sight of Amaris struggling to understand a new reality made her remember her own Site explaining her new life; everything seemed new and dark and crazy but also powerful and invigorating and freeing in a twisted, terrible way. After all, she'd been lifted from predator to prey and prey to predator. “That was First Tongue technically. Nothing but a silly facade with the ramblings of a 200 BC "prophet". Further review of his works determined he really was just psychotic sadly. I always had looked forward to beings of apocalyptic nature bursting for from the center of the world."
Ryner shrugged and sighed disappointedly. “Life is disappointment. Remmy warded it in the event someone made it past the seal which ensured its safe return once it passed into my hands. Someone who still commands the lineage’s magic would have to break the spell and since you are my late friend’s only child...”
She gestured at the book and picked up her glass again, sipping.“I would consider, before you try what is in that book, the information you’ve learned today and attempt to reconcile that with the father you knew. I hope you see with new eyes. For history goes to the victor and we have yet to win.”
Ryner smiled wearily as the bell rang. “But for now, you’ll need to attend class. It’ll arouse suspicion from the wrong powers if you linger longer.”
Amaris wanted to ask Ryner more but the sound of the bell brought their meeting to a somewhat cryptic end. She finished off what little was left of her second glass, placing it down gently with an appreciative nod of her head. With all that she had learned today, there was much she was going to have to consider moving forward. But if Ryner was worried enough about ‘wrong powers’ taking notice that she would take such extreme lengths to trick her own sister, personal deliberations would have to wait.
Unzipping her backpack, Amaris carefully tucked the book among her other school supplies. For a moment she was relieved to have the book back in her possession, feeling it safer with her after having her dorm raided by officials and the object stolen once already. But knowing what content was held within, not to mention the lengths gone to mislead figures of actual authority, she wasn’t so sure that having it on her person was any safer either. For now, she would have to make do and plan for later.
“As far as I’m concerned, I was here to be given a stern lecture on the interference of royal investigations and to issue an apology for my unbecoming behavior.
” The countess rose from her chair and shifted her posture into a respectful bow.
“Your time has been an honor as always and thank you for drinks.
” Amaris moved to take her leave from the princess’ study, pausing just before reaching the door.
“Ma’am? Lord Salazar, does he know?
” "The proper form of address is Your Royal Highness, not ma'am."
Her voice cracked loudly across the room but her smile remained. "Lord Marivaldi is fully aware of all the details and, while our discussion here may have been the extent of your formal reprimand, I will be recommending the Lord continue this discussion once you return. Good evening, Countess."
The doors opened and the mages bowed to the Countess.
“Ofcourse, Your Royal Highness. A good evening to you as well.