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Thread: The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God [M - Hannelorian x DuchessLivilla]

  1. #401
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    "But where do we draw the line, dear sister?" Arabella spoke, feeling nothing but in conflict. On one hand, her own sister had subjected herself to abuse, to unfit behavior. Once, perhaps this would have brought her joy or been seen as some sort of challenge. Yes, yes, how much damage could she do? But no, that was gone now, leaving her nothing but confronted by the cruel reality of their positions.

    "Alice?" Arabella had almost forgotten, it all seemed so long ago, though it was a matter of hours. "I've had something sent for her..." It was as though the memories came slowly crawling back. If she, the very Queen could not be happy, someone should be. Her sister, yes. The maid she all but frightened off, absolutely. It had long overdue to demonstrate some degree of kindness.

    "If God does not preserve us, no one will. We can only pray for His mercy, for I fear we shall all need it." Arabella found herself speaking somewhat cryptically, but this could not be helped. Instead of dwelling on it, she forced a smile, finally and departed the room to prepare for the evening's festivities. However painful they would be.
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  2. #402
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    Alexandra smiled sadly at her sister as they parted at the door; one walking left, the other right, away from each other, when all they wanted to do was be together, perhaps as they once had as little girls. But now, as grown women, their lives were pulling them apart always...It was as if they were now on opposite sides of a chessboard, sometimes coming near to one another in the course of a game, and then always banished back to their own sides to begin again.

    It was not a comforting thought.

    The Princess walked down the opulent corridors, making for the small suit of rooms she and Arthur had been assigned in order to change or take rest. It was meant to be a slight, that said apartment was the furthest from the Royal ones, but in reality, both and and Arthur had been happy enough to know they were away from the King's rooms.

    Especially tonight," she thought sadly, closing her eyes briefly. "If I heard what is to happen tonight, I fear I should not be able to lie still and silent next door."

    A heavy tread made her look up and she cringed to see, at the end of the corridor, the King, his stumbling gait telling her plainly that he had had a great deal of brandy. Knowing she could not turn and flee, else the man would see and it would cause issues, Alexandra kept pace and dropped a curtsy as the King lurched towards her. She kept her eyes glued to the carpet, praying the man ignored her...or else was too drunk to even notice her!

    Unfortunately for her, he happened to look up and spot her; a rather cruel grin spread across his once handsome face as he took in the sight before him. Alex knew when he noticed her too and inwardly cringed though she remained in her lowered position, eyes down, as she had done with the Queen earlier.

    The King stood for almost a full minute, toying with various ideas. Perhaps he was not as drunk as he had seemed...or maybe the idea of cruelty and amusement -the same thing for him- had the ability to render him sober in an instant! Finally he lowered his hand and beckoned the Princess to rise with two fingers. "Stand up, girl, you and I both know you mean me no respect," he quipped, just a slight slur in his voice. "And look at me while you're about it. I cannot stand the vaux innocent look."

    Alexandra swallowed then rose and, slowly, raised her gaze until she was looking at the King. She kept her eyes neutral, but even so, there was a spark of contempt that could not be hidden.

    Christian looked at her, their eyes locked on one another. He found her gaze rather unsettling -not that he would ever admit it aloud- and the fact she was the only woman he had seen, or noticed in any case, that did not look at him with admiration and a deep respect, was rather irksome, if not downright unacceptable. Once again, the King found himself at a loss about Alexandra. He did not trust her but also...he could not work her out.

    His hand shot out and gripped her throat, tightly, but not tight enough -yet- to leave a mark. "You vex me greatly, witch..." The King walked them backwards until Alex's back struck the wall and she let out a soft gasp. He leant in, close enough that she could feel his breath, foetid with drink, gust over her face. She turned her head to the side and closed her eyes in disgust. "Look at me, witch!" He snapped, the second she did, and tightened his grip until she turned back to face him. "Yes..." he slurred, his face a mere inch or two from hers. "You vex me greatly...And what to do with you vexes me more. You...you are sister to my beloved heart, the Queen, and...rather unfortunately, bound to my blood in marriage to my fool of a son...I take comfort in the fact that witches cannot have children...At least we shall be spared that fate...Though it would be poetic if you died during childbirth. It would prove your unfitness."

    He chuckled, thinking this would hurt her.

    Alexandra drew in a ragged breath and stared back at him. She supposed she ought to be scared and yet she was not. This was not, she was sure, any great feat of bravery or perhaps stupidity on her part. On the other hand, she wasn't entirely sure what it was that caused her to be unafraid. Maybe it was simply the fact that all she felt when she looked at the King, was disgust and hatred...there was no room in her heart for fear after that.

    "Nothing to say, witch?" He slurred, thumb pressing hard into her jaw. "You had plenty to say that night...all those pretty lies and simpering words...How innocent you looked. I confess, I almost bought it...You dear sister did, poor heart that she is. She has too much love in her heart to see you for what you are...She claims to, and sometimes I think she does...but I still think she believes you can be saved...that you have not joined the Devil in his hellish crusade..."

    He gave a soft laugh and glanced sideways briefly. They were still alone in the corridor; everyone else was preparing for the ball, servants and guests included.

    "He may have been a heretic Protestant but my ancestor, King James, had some fine ideas about witches and how to find them out...perhaps I should employ some of them..." The King's free hand -the one not about her throat- strayed downwards to her exposed shoulders and teased at the edging of her gown where it met her decolletage. "There will be a mark on you...His Mark...gifted when you signed his Book and sold your soul to him, witch...All I need do is find it and pick it and you shall feel no pain...then I shall have all the proof I need...Maybe, when my beloved delivers a son, I shall do it, and gift her your head as a thank you..."

    Alexandra, who had lowered her eyes once again, suddenly looked up and stared at him. It occurred to her that, in that moment, the King was actually afraid of her, even if he could not admit it. He really and truly thought she was a witch, or some such, and he did not know how much of what was said about them was real and true...how much she could do against him. It might be her only protection for now.

    Her gaze glued to his, she lifted her hand and held onto his and said, her voice soft and just above a whisper, forcing him to listen closely, "Or maybe she'll give me yours." She then tugged his hand, which had gone slack in his shock, from her skin and pushed away from him and the wall. Alex dropped a neat curtsy, "Majesty, by your leave," she added and turned, walking away down the corridor.

    The King, an icy feeling spreading through him, stared at the wall for a second then down at his hand and finally to the side to watch her go. He swallowed and wiped his mouth, his hand visibly shaking. The King, the brandy finally having it's way, slumped forward and slid down the wall to land, rather undignified, in a heap under -ironically- a portrait of Saint Matthias, who was thought to guide and look favourably upon those suffering with addictions to illicite things, drink being one of them.

    A footman found him there twenty-minutes later, in trousers wet from his own urine. Servants, being what they are and trained to not see and certainly not to judge, the King was quickly taken to his room, stripped, washed and changed, then placed on his bed to sober-up before the ball.

    -

    Meanwhile Alexandra, still a little shaken herself, made her way to her room to change and, she hoped, find Arthur and Alice; she needed their sobering presence to calm down. The rooms were empty though when she first arrived but she smiled to see two boxes rather than one waiting on the chaise in the dressing room; one, she knew, contained her own gown, the other, with a note written in Bella's hand, was for Alice.

    She crossed to it and gently touched the ribbon with a gentle hand. "The King was right on that account, sister. You do have a good heart, even if you hide it."

    -

    Arabella, in her own rooms with her gaggle of maids, getting ready to re-appear, was interrupted when the outer door was knocked. A maid crossed to it and spoke to the person outwith then returned and curtsied, "Majesty, the King is a little indisposed but will be at the ball later, he promises...You are to host it until he arrives."
    "Ye mustn't be afraid to ask for help. Pride is a good thing, my girl, but it will kill you in time." - Granny Weatherwax

  3. #403
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    "Indisposed?" Arabella asked in a rather hushed tone. She took a moment to think on it, and then her mind settled on the answer. Drunk. He's absolutely drunk. Bastard fucks me and then he fucks me again. Outwardly, of course, Arabella smiled and nodded. "Very well. Thank you dear girl." The maid was unfamiliar, then again almost the entirety of the staff here was. They were her watchers, just like every noble woman in this room with her. They didn't miss a thing. Granted, Arabella had begun work to paint a very specific narrative, in this event, her watchers saw only what she wanted them to see. Everything was a careful, and sometimes clever, deception.

    "In that event, ladies. The time for dawdling and delighting in one another is over. Let us all prepare, if I am to host, I shall have none disappoint." Arabella rose from her seat, her makeup had privately been adjusted, and now she wore an elegant navy gown. To hell with white, everyone knew she was no virgin. She had birthed a daughter after all. But the gown itself was perfectly hand made, embroidered with delicate gold threads the symbols of state and her power, no matter how imaginary that truly was. Her hair done now in an elegant but relaxed up do, a crown exchanged for a more practical tiara, platinum and white gold, dripping with diamonds. Christian was anything but cheap. Arabella believed more than anything that appearance was key. He needed her to look the part.

    "Line up, no one leaves until I've given my blessing." Arabella wielded what authority she did have with an iron fist. The Queen would personally inspect every lady before they left for the festivities. None could go unchecked. Everything must be exactly as she intended.

    --

    Arthur, meanwhile had returned shortly after his wife with Alice in tow. Arthur in an effort to distract himself would take the maid, and a few other servants under his employ through the grand galleries of the palace. It was during this time he would point out the paintings of his ancestors, or great works of art that were simply part of the palace's significant collection. Arthur realized he always felt at his best when he had something to do. He wasn't one to be idle, he had to be busy. Perhaps it was for genuine love of his position, to serve the people, or perhaps because now more than ever, he felt not the need to let himself stop and think.

    "Alex?" Arthur called into the set of rooms which were perfectly quiet. It was a funny thing about Alex, Arthur thought, she had the lightest of tread, even on bare marble floor one couldn't hear her coming. It was always something of a surprise, a most delightful one, but a surprise never the less. When the Prince found his wife, she was standing above two boxes, and reading a note. He gingerly strode behind her and placed his hands upon her hips, bringing her closer to him. "A gift from my mother?" Arthur was somewhat sarcastic in that last bit, he was not resentful of Arabella, but rather the position his father had placed them all into.

    To the maid who withstood the hurricane that dared strip Spain bare. May it bring you the happiest of unions.
    - Arabella R.

    p.s. If you don't let Alex and I plan your wedding, well then, we'll just have to rebel!


    Arthur, upon reading the small note, actually smiled. It appeared Arabella had something of a sense of humor after all. "You feel tense... are you alright my darling?" Arthur asked gently. He knew she had just come from Arabella's company, which depending on the mood of the room could have been disastrous. He did not count on Alex having run into the King in the halls. An encounter he would be infuriated to learn of.

    Alice, of course, remained somewhat oblivious and simply kept her distance, but could not help but wonder if that second box was a gift from the Princess. It was not lost on her that Alex was nothing but generosity, love and kindness. "I don't mean to pry, but we should hurry along. It would be best if we arrive a bit early." When Alice said 'we' of course she meant her employers, dare she say, her friends.
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  4. #404
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    Alexandra smiled and leant back against her husband. For now, no mark was on her skin from the episode with the King; though tomorrow a single thumb-shaped bruise would bloom on her jaw. "I am fine, it is nothing," she said softly. She did not wish to worry Arthur by mentioning what had happened, not yet, anyway, if she could get away with it. He had enough worries without her adding to them right now.

    She turned to Alice and held out the note, "From the Queen, for you, my dear friend," she said, smiling. "You are to be, as much as possible, a Lady tonight! Come, open the box, I cannot wait to see what my sister has picked for you. Her faults aside, she has a gift for well chosen fabrics and colours to suit all complexions."

    The Princess winked at her husband, "And you, go and get ready and leave us ladies to dress in peace! You can stare later to your heart's content, I promise." As Arthur departed to find his own servant nextdoor, Alexandra rang the little bell to summoned her maid in to help her, and Alice, dress. She then went to her little jewel case and brought it over to lend Alice some matching gems, whatever colour gown had been chosen.

    "Now I shall be the ladies maid," she smiled, eager to help her friend in this matter.
    "Ye mustn't be afraid to ask for help. Pride is a good thing, my girl, but it will kill you in time." - Granny Weatherwax

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