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Thread: [M] War and Peace ~ Breggo and Hannelorian [IC]

  1. #91
    Little ball of fire
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    It took him a second to comprehend her alludement before he let out an involuntary chuckle of his own. George had managed to surprise him and had he not known her headstrong personality, he was sure his jaw would have hit the floor. And this was the daughter of the nation, he thought with dark amusement, wondering whether the young woman's personality would have remained as bold had she grown up in her birthright position as a princess. In any case, he was surprised to find himself enjoying their exchange like a breath of fresh air. “Perhaps you should stop imagining what I will do in my bath and what my company will look like. Otherwise, I may assume you are interested in my company rather intimately.”

    He let her go, shaking his head with a bemused smile and letting his eyes take in her figure with pleasure. The girl really was something to reckon with, a force of nature that knew no bounds and was not afraid to say what she pleased. Radisson didn't mind her teasing or suggesting that she would be off to find Westley, at least not in the way she thought. His concern, as he assumed would be the concern of the princess royal, was that the young women in her care remained blemish free and marriageable which meant that any outright breach of protocol would force the man to marry. Bless the soul of the poor bastard dumb enough to trap George in a marriage against her will, he smirked silently though he doubted ‘marriage’ was in her vocabulary.

    The woman's voice made him inwardly cringe when he heard his title, knowing that he would now have to act as he had been taught all his life. Scolding his features into a pleasant expression, he turned, bowing lightly to the dowager duchess that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, wondering just how much she had seen and heard. Wouldn't it be a riot if, after Worrying so much about Westley being in a compromising situation, it would be himself?

    “Lady Eaves,” he murmured, once again the composed man most knew him to be. The woman floated by and he watched her go, still wondering what exactly she was thinking and whether or not he should be getting ready for an impromptu wedding. Sighing as he couldn't seem to find an answer and deciding that it would be out of his hands, he strode down the corridor to his rooms, trying to determine if the water was still hot or if he was now cursed to a quick rinse in a cold bath. Just his luck.

  2. #92
    The Grey Lady
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    Saskia was seated at a large table, books and papers strewn wildly across its surface. The knock on the door came as something of an unexpected occurrence. "Come." Saskia shouted as she scanned across yet another page of another report that she seemed enthralled with. Though by the look on her face it was plain to see that her concern was rather apparent. The doors opened and Beatrix strode in, like the cloud she always seemed to be. Effortless and graceful much like Saskia. Beatrix dropped into a curtsy and bowed her head.

    "You might well be intrigued to learn about what I've just seen." Beatrix giggled lightly, ever the gossip but only to the right people and when the mood struck her. Saskia rose from her seat and smiled brightly. "Welcome to court Lady Eaves. I trust you and your son are settling in well." Stepping around the table Saskia crossed her arms. "Well, if I was not intrigued before I certainly am now." Saskia motioned toward one of the chairs as she herself moved to settle in upon a settee, drawing her legs up and underneath her as she so often did.

    "First, I am pleased to have been selected... I know this was a difficult decision for you. Knowing who you can trust in the pit of snakes is seldom easy." Beatrix lamented this fact, but did indeed quite genuine in her gratitude. "Did you know Lord Greville is quite the flirt?" Beatrix asked rather coyly. Saskia's jaw could have dropped but she held herself together.

    "Do you mean Radisson or his brother?" Saskia asked her eyes growing wide almost desperate for details. Almost.

    "Radisson." Beatrix said as she moved to sit beside Saskia rather than across from her. It was a bold move but one that Saskia appreciated. "I can't say the thought has crossed my mind. Though I do wonder... is he any good at it? And how do you know? He surely couldn't have... with all due respect to you, you are so new here. It would seem untoward." Saskia bit her lower lip in a genuine curiosity and critical self awareness.


    "He seemed quite comfortable in the act. Though I do think Georgiana is a bit much for him to handle." Beatrix laughed and moved to cover her mouth. None of what she said carried a hint of judgment, it was mere fascination at the politics she had stumbled upon, the little feelings of lust and desire. "It would seem that I have an idea. Nothing major just... an opportunity to allow us all to know one another. A dinner party. For the Knights of the Flight who are still here, and a few of us ladies. It would do wonders and perhaps prove advantageous later when challenges arise from those outside the palace gates."

    The Princess Royal listened and ultimately nodded in agreement. "Well... I am desperate for company, I don't see why we couldn't... so set to it. You are free to organize. Radisson was really flirting? I don't know why I struggle to see it in my mind's eye. Quinn, my Chief Maid... perhaps she too should be a guest for once." Saskia affirmed before setting her sights on other matters. "There is... one thing I must ask. There is a woman, Sarah. She has a son, Alexander. She's a maid... but he..."

    Before Saskia could conclude Beatrix had a response. "Looks like a Vallois?" She asked almost innocently. "There's no truth to be found in anything, but the rumors are... and accept my apologies, that the Emperor fathered the child." Beatrix averted her gaze for the slightest trace of a moment. "Your rumors are most certainly traced back to the Dowager Empress, further perpetuated by Lord Throckmorton.. a most... vile man." Beatrix sighed and made a brushing motion with her hands to indicate she thought poorly of him at best. "I have known Alistair for many years, though never well. I beg your pardon, the Emperor." Beatrix corrected herself.

    "The Emperor has had his share of... shall we say companions. But never in his life has he been so careless or remotely serious about any of them. It seems... an odd notion to me that he might have parented a little one. Even in his youth."
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  3. #93
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    October 31st, 1213

    Radisson hummed quietly as he focused on fixing his cravat into impeccable orber, his grey blue eyes soft as he prepared for the evening. Earlier that week, Saskia had invited all the men of the flight as well as Radisson’s brother and father to a small dinner gathering in Caelum Fortis along with her own ladies in waiting. A private event for those who were still in the castle and had to become more acquaintaned with each other he guessed. His mind involuntarily returned to his chance encounter with Georgiana a few days earlier and he smirked lightly, remembering the young woman’s fire. Some of the women present would certainly make the night entertaining, he admitted, checking to confirm his hair was sleeked back and his beard neatly trimmed. Dressed in tall boots and breeches along with a tight doublet, one could almost forget about his military background.

    “Rad, this stupid scarf won’t tie,” Westley’s voice sounded a second before the man himself ended up barging into his companion’s apartment, his own dinner jacket slightly unbuttoned and the silk cravat hanging loosely around his neck. His blond hair looked like he combed at least, Radisson thought with dark humour before slowly turning around.

    “Hasn’t your sister shown you how to do this a million time?” he raised an eyebrow before coming over to help. Westley gave a one shoulder shrug, his signature grin appearing on his face.

    “I’d ask Quinn again but I could’t find her. I think she was off helping her royal highness,” he lifted his chin as Radisson quickly worked on the dark material before stepping back and admiring his handiwork that left the cravat in the shape of a butterfly. Looking down in excitement, Westley unammused gaze met Radisson’s laughing eyes. “Really?”

    “Alright alright,” the older man chuckled before fixing the tie into the appropriate knot. “What has you all worked up?”

    “Nothing,” Westley responded, buttoning up his jacket. Radisson watched his slightly tense shoulders and jerky movements for a moment before shrugging disinterested. If the blonde didn’t want to share, who was he to pressure him into opening up. “Fine, it’s this stupid etiquette that has me on edge. And Georgiana - I saw her in the hall today and….Rad, I thought she was going to murder me alive with the way she looked at me. I never had a woman…” He paused shaking his head in disbelief. “All I said to her was good morning.”

    “Just that?” Radisson asked in mock disbelieve, trying hard not to laugh. Westley scoweled.

    “Fine, it sounded more like good morning beautiful” he confessed. “But it was a truthful compliment! I didn’t mean anything more by it and she looked at me as though I had offended every female ancestor in her family tree simply by existing.”

    “You are overthinking it,” Radisson did chuckle at that before slinging his arm over the younger man’s shoulders. “George just needs some getting used to.”

    “And that’s another thing,” Westley seemed deeply shaken to his core. “What is with the nickname George? Why?”

    “Why don’t you ask her?” Radisson smirked, guiding them both out of the room and into the hall, ignoring the glare Westley gave him. Shrugging out of his one arm embrace, the blonde dusted off his doublet and straightened his cravat.

    “I think I’d rather feast on Dragon Whiskey breakfast, lunch and dinner if its all the same to you,” he responded just as Marcus turned the corner, quietly quirking his eyebrow in question.

    “Do I even want to know?” the minister asked as Westley blushed slightly and Radisson couldn’t hide his amusement. Shaking his head and fixing the cuff on his left arm, the minister tilted his head. “Did the stars align and you finally learn how to dress properly, Wes?”

    “Oh please, like it’s hard,” the blonde snorted. “Besides, my main skill lie more in the realm of undressing.”

    “If you are forced to wed one of the ladies because you compromise her with your loose tongue, you will have no one to blame but yourself,” Marcus warned though the corners of his lips jerked up for a second in amusement. “Come on gentlemen, we would hate to keep her royal highness waiting.” With those words, the three friends made their way down the hall towards the Emperor’s suites. While on any given day, the Empress would host in her own quarters, with the remodeling and renovation Saskia had begun, the rooms in her side of the castle were mostly bare and in the process of removing all traces of the old Dowager Empress, leaving them all to congregate in the more formal rooms of the royal family.

    “Westley, perhaps you can run some letters for me to Drakarfell tomorrow,” Marcus spoke up softly as they approached the doors, stopping so that all three men could speak without being overheard. “Your drake could use with some exercise and you can take ours out to stretch their wings as well. It will do you good to clear your head.”

    “You mean it?” Westley’s eyes lit up with excitement and the anticipation of freedom. Radisson looked over at the minister with a bit of a frown but refrained from saying anything. Marcus shot him a placating gaze before nodding.

    “I need to send some urgent letters to Alistair and I know you would be the fastest to get there. Radisson can see to her royal highness’ safety for a day.”

    “Thank you,” Westley put a hand on Marcus’ shoulder. “Trully, I mean it.” Turning away from the two older men, the blonde entered the room, Radisson catching Marcus’ arm before the northerner could follow.

    “Why?” he asked, his eyes meeting his friends. Marcus took a second, looking at the closed door before responding.

    “He is getting too restless and unpredictable. I can’t have that especially now when Alistair is south - he will cause trouble. Giving him a few days to roam around away from Valadis will ensure he doesn’t ruin anyone’s life, including his own.” he stepped towards the door, leaving Radisson watching his back with the frown still on his face. While he agreed with Marcus’ logic, he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a secondary motivation to get the young rider out of the city for a day or two, one that had absolutely nothing to do with the capital, Saskia or even Westley himself but what it was, he couldn’t pinpoint.

    “Are you going to stand there long, Radi?” his brother’s voice woke him up and radisson turned to embrace his older twin, Maurice grinning wildly as he squeezed him in a hug. “For a second, I thought you had turned to stone.”

    “You are so full of shit, Rice,” Radisson responded, letting go and smiling back. Behind his brother’s figure, he could see his father chuckling as he leaned casually on his decorative walking stick, embodying from first glance the beau monde of court. “Father, I am pleased to see you.”

    “And I you, my son,” Alan Greville smiled genuinely, his eyes lighting up and his smile causing lines to appear around them, a sign that the man smiled often. Striding forward, he embraced Radisson with the same affection as Maurice, stepping back a second later. “I am pleased to see that you made it back to Lys in one piece though I seem to get all my information from your brother these days.”

    “Only because I go to spar with him and the lads,” Maurice shrugged. “He avoids me like the plague otherwise.”

    “I have been, ah, recruited by her royal highness, princess Saskia,” Radisson responded with a sightly bemused smirk. “She keeps me rather busy - between her and Marcus, I hardly have time to brush my hair.”

    “If you are fishing for compliments on your looks, I’m sorry to say I got all the good genes when it came to looks,” Maurice teased as Radisson rolled his eyes and Alan groaned.

    “Boys, not now,” he stuck his stick between both men, his eyes showing he meant business. “We have a dinner to attend and it would be rude to keep the ladies waiting. Besides, I am quite excited to meet her royal highness. Seeing how quickly she has stepped up to the role, she is quite an intriguing young lady.”

    “Of course,” Radisson stepped out of the way, tilting his head in a sign of deference. “After you, father.” With a soft smile, the Duke stepped towards the doors, his sons on his heels, Maurice elbowing Radisson lightly in play before the doors opened, revealing the room inside. The dining room had been set as intimately as possible which, given the size of the place, was a rather difficult task but Radisson could see that the women had done their best to mix the strict Austerian style with softer hints of other influences among them Lys and even Syrenia. Around them, ladies miled about, Westley already entertaining a few with some story, the women smiling and waving their fans. Marcus was quietly chatting with Saskia though when he saw the trio enter, he stopped and bowed, stepping aside so that the Duke could come and formally introduce himself. Radisson quietly melted to stand to the side, watching as his father confidently strode over with a kind smile, bowing and kissing Saskia’s hand, saying something that made the young woman respond in kind.

    Maurice was next - following their father’s lead, he kissed Saskia’s hand, paying her a compliment with a dashing smile and saying something that made her laugh, gesturing playfully in Radisson’s direction so that the princess and his father also looked at him, smiles on their faces. Forcing his face to remain impassive, the man silently promised to whoop his brother the next time they sparred for telling some embarrassing tale to the young woman though in a second, he had much more pressing matters to attend to.
    Last edited by Breggo13; 04-09-2024 at 10:14 PM.

  4. #94
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    "If it isn't the Lords Greville!" Saskia called out clasping her hands in excitement as Marcus stepped aside and the group of men approached her. Every formality was observed and nothing was amiss. The Princess was adorned in a gown of silk and velvet in Lysian Royal blue, which was not particularly surprising to any of those present who had spent any amount of time with her over the past few days. She carried the same serene and easy beauty that always had. A magnificent diamond tiara atop her head, though her brunette locks remained down for once in a more Lysian style. In the privacy of her chosen company she seldom felt the need to put on the show of celebrating Asterious through her fashion choices. Her eyes gleamed, her enthusiasm or excitement to meet the other Grevilles was clear. When greeting Maurice she enjoyed his clever little anecdote, this was a family who deeply cared for one another.

    "So you are the man responsible for our dearest Radisson." Saskia commented to Lord Alan. "Your youngest has been indispensable. Truly, I would not have adjusted so easily life at court if it were not for his guidance." Saskia was genuinely full of compliments, and she meant every word she said.

    "You are too kind ma'am." Alan replied, a rather proud fatherly smile upon his face as she cast his gaze to Radisson. "He certainly has the dogged determination of a Greville." Alan said before looking at his other son. "These boys will be the death of me. They've always been competitive."

    Saskia laughed and shook her head. "If they aren't the death of you, I just might be. I'm afraid I'm rather boring, so I cannot promise you won't die of boredum before the end of the night." Saskia undersold herself, she did this on purpose, she liked the joke even if it weren't true. "But while I have your attention my Lord, perhaps you wouldn't mind telling me your analysis of the border struggles?"

    Georgiana stood in the corner of the room, staring off into the distance at some piece of art or another. She herself wore a clever little number in a similar shade of blue to Saskia. Radisson had caught her attention from across the room he seemed to be completed in his standard greetings. Slowly making her way over to him she smiled, sweeping around behind him she rested her hands on his hips and leaned in to whisper toward his ear. "Boo."

    George chuckled and stepped backward as Radison turned about. "I was hoping I could borrow you for a moment. Now that you're in a state befitting your position." George bit her lower lip, it was rather true that the man cleaned up rather nicely. He was dashing in a uniform. "Come." George requested stepping away, and beckoning him to follow with her palms. Wes was thoroughly engaged in conversation with a woman who seemed to be fawning all over him. As was the ordinary. "Did you know that in Syrenia it was a custom to castrate young men who who flirt excessively with innocent women?" George asked rather abrupt from behind, loud enough to be head.

    Wes' face grew red immediately and his body stiffened. "You... terrify me." Westley said as he turned to look at George with Radisson at her side.

    "Do I?" George asked with a smile upon her face. "Good. Because it is another tradition to drink the blood of our enemies, those who treat us poorly." George chuckled and just watched as Westley seeming had no idea of what to do with himself. "As you were my Lord." George stated and turned away, taking Radisson's arm into her own she led him further away. "I've learned from my maid that he doesn't know what to do with me. I'd like to keep it that way. It's more interesting to be a mystery. Don't you think?" George asked softly looking up at Radisson. "So, do I continue to flirt with you, or should I try my luck with your brother?"

    Beatrix who also received the memorandum about attire was in similar colors. She looked about the room and seemed rather pleased. When the Duke Greville had arrived she moved swiftly to meet him. Curtsying before the Princess. "Forgive the interruption. I simply had to say hello when I saw you." As Beatrix, despite her youth was a Dowager Duchess, she was well familiar with the General and the two had spent many a boring evening together at events similar to this one.

    Alan moved to take Beatrix' hand and kiss it softly. "It is so good to see you too. You look... happier now." Alan commented and Beatrix laughed. "The world was happy to learn of my husband's death, why should I be an exception?" Beatrix asked in a half serious, half joking sort of manner. "Maurice." Beatrix turned to the man who seemed to appear behind her. He was always a terrible flirt, she expected that. To see Radisson do something was quite the change.

    "Your Grace." Maurice replied.

    Charlotte was the last to arrive and to no one's surprise was wearing a shade of blue. She looked across the room at the familiar faces. She, much like Saskia had on her first day, spent a good deal of time trying to learn everyone's names and identities, their functions and the like. She steeled herself and smiled inserting herself now in the group of Westley and other young women. "You look like you've seen a ghost." She commented, he had now gone quite pale. "Are you feeling alright Lord Falconer?"

    The Viscountess finally appeared to be a bit more comfortable with her surroundings. She was determined to make herself fit in, and so to throw herself in to a conversation with a Dragon Knight seemed to be the best possible choice. She had considered speaking to Marcus but something about his demeanor frightened her.
    Last edited by Hannelorian; 04-04-2024 at 12:33 AM.
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  5. #95
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    Radisson's body stiffened for a second before relaxing when he heard George's voice behind him, lips twitching lightly though he maintained his composure. Taking a quick look at the princess and ensuring he would not be immediately needed, he turned, raising his eyebrows in surprise as the woman beckoned. “Good evening to you too, George,” he muttered with a shake of his head but he couldn't help being intrigued as he followed the Syrenian princess to the small crowd near Westley, his lips twitching in poorly contained amusement as he watched the woman unnerve his comrade further before her fingers wrapped around his arm, pulling him along. Radisson couldn't help noticing that for such a small creature, she had a deceptively strong grip and one that seemed to know exactly where all his healing bruises were.

    “If this is your attempt at making me jealous, you are doing a rather poor job at it,” he smirked slightly, taking his moment to refer to their earliest conversation a few days earlier. He hadn't thought much about it but his mind helpfully pulled out the most useful - or useless - moments of that encounter such as the woman's uncanny ability to constantly find his weak spots. Chuckling as he listened to her explanation about Westley, Radisson's stopped with her in the corner, looking back at the blonde man who seemed to be watching them though his head snapped back the second he methe Radisson's gaze. It was, the older man had to agree, rather amusing to see someone keep his Casanova friend on his toes.

    “Are you admitting that we were flirting, your highness?” He murmured softly, his smirk teasing even though he didn't turn to face her. He wasn't about to admit that this time, her threat to pass him up for his own twin struck a chord. Ever since he was born, he saw enough nobles pass him up in an instant for Maurice and while he absolutely loved his brother and knew his father never encouraged that behavior, it nevertheless left a sour taste when it happened. Looking down at her, he quirked an eyebrow in question. “Or is that some sort of punishment for something I can't remember? If so, I implore you, do remind me George.”




    Alan smiled, his own eyes twinkling with hidden knowledge. Although the deceased duke of Eaves has been his contemporary, he was not one of Duke Greville’s friends or even allies. More often than not, politics saw the two men on opposite sides of debates in Emperor Henri's court. For whatever reason, Eaves had gotten Empress Carina's attention and so the woman had set out to find him a perfect wife. Although there had been a brief debate at some point to pursue a marriage between Alistair Valois and Beatrix LeClerc, it had fallen through when the man gained his knighthood, the Marques LeClerc never knowing. Carina however didn't seem to forget, marrying the young woman to Eaves as a statement to all. Frankly, Alan always felt sorry for Beatrix’ fate as it seemed the girl had paid for something that had nothing to do with her but thankfully, Duke of Eaves loved his wine too much to live long. “I would be lying if I wasn't in your camp, your Grace.”

    “Beatrix,” Maurice smiled, following his father's example and kissing the young dowager’s hand. Although he had only met her after her marriage with the old Duke (fat pheasant to be more precise), they had struck up a friendship as often, they were the youngest people at a party where young ladies only sought to trap an hier and while Maurice was no stranger to the arts of flirtation, he still hoped to marry for love. Beatrix’ marriage status had been a blessing and he had always found her wit much more enjoyable to most ladies at court. “I have not seen you since that” He eyed his father, deciding to change his words, “lovely husband of yours kicked the bucket. I am happy to see you are out of mourning though if you ask me -’

    “Thankfully she didn't, “ Alan coughed before looking at Saskia. “As you see your royal highness, while my youngest is constantly risking his life in battle, my eldest is trying my heart with his strong vocal opinions at the wrong times. Your company is much preferred for my frail heart and I hope you take some compassion on an old man.”

    “He's been playing the old card since I turned twenty two, your royal highness,” Maurice retorted. “He simply wants to retire to his hounds and horses though he will be bored within weeks and come cause trouble back in Valadis. Whatever my father says, he cannot stay away from the capital for long.”




    Westley needed a drink. No, scratch that, he needed a few drinks. Enough drinks that would soothe his nerves and erase the unexpected encounter with George that left him feeling confused and unnerved. To rub salt in his wound, Radisson seemed to find it amusing to observe his discomfort in silence and be pulled away by that blonde gremlin who wanted Westley's family jewels on a golden plate - without Westley himself. The thought made him shudder but with a breathe, he scolded his features into his usual charming expression, pushing his thoughts to the back of his mind.

    “Excuse me ladies,” he smiled, his eyes lighting up once again as three pairs of eyes focused on him with curiosity, long eyelashes framing each one. Beautiful women he could handle, any women he could handle, just not gremlins. “Where was I?”

    “The Golden Apple,” one of the girls spoke up, her eyes shining with excitement. “Please continue - I must know how this story ends.”

    “Ah, yes,” Westley nodded, smiling at her with an ease he didn't fully feel. “This story had been retold to me by one of the Southern shamans and he swears its true. I do not know who these goddesses were but I think were to guess, they were as lovely as you. Unfortunately, they seemed to all be in love with one man - don't laugh! I am only passing on what I have been told!”

    He paused as the trio giggled, his eyes meeting the new addition to their group though her words briefly made his smile waiver. Did he really look that bad? If only he could remember the young woman's name. Charity? Chloe? Charlotte? That was it, Charlotte, Viscountess of something or other. He absolutely hated the pomp and circumstance of the palace. Growing up, he had envied the men and women who dressed up fancy and were waited upon hand and foot but now, he'd give anything to be back to just a dragon knight without having to memorize all the nuances of court life.

    “I only look like the ghost because, and I must confess Viscountess just between you and me,” Westley leaned towards the girl, “this is a ghost story.”




    Marcus stood in the shadows of the room, his pale eyes lazily moving from one person to another, oddly relaxed for his usual demeanor. Relaxed should have been taken with a grain of salt for he didn't remember the last time he could simply enjoy his time without caring or worrying, without his hidden weapons pressed up against his skin, the cold metal a constant reminder to be alert. Even when he was with Quinn, it took the man all his effort to push back and quiet his mind, simply enjoying the moment. He never told anyone, not even the girl, but he craved those stolen moments of quiet, the small pockets of freedom from burdens however fleeting when he simply was ‘Marcus’ and not ‘Minister Vale’ or any of his much darker titles. No, he didn't crave it, he needed it to remain human.

    Without him trying, his eyes found Quinn in the crowd, fixing a flower vase o the table with one of the footmen even though tonight she had been invited as a guest. Marcus had no idea when or why he had started noticing the young girl with her blonde braid and freckles sprinkled across her nose, he simply did. And when he realized he noticed her, he couldn't get himself to stop. He knew it was a bad idea and that it went again the unofficial rules of their Flight, his brotherhood so while he didn't pursue her, he simply enjoyed existence, his desire turning into frustration that he hid behind rational and disinterest, both aspects angering Westley more so than any of the others.

    He couldn't remember what they had argued about that day but it got heated, their friends pulling Westley away from Marcus and Alistair ordering both the men to their rooms like children until they could grow up. Marcus had shrugged and left without a single word, not bothering to argue. It was a regular occurence between the two men and while it was inconvenient, it never prevented them from doing their job and eventually making up. What he hadn't expected was to open the door and find the girl standing there, angry and nervous and so tempting all at once. He had tried, he really really tried to stay away but when she confidently walked in and when he saw the faint scar from that day with the wolf - Marcus Vale was a fallen man. He had given in, kissing her with the passion he had harbored for months and, after her initial shock, she responded.

    His heart had belonged to her since that day, fully and without regrets but his mind could not phantom the union, couldn't allow him to cross that line. He had always been honest with Quinn, telling her that it would never be possible and while she agreed, she always came to him and Marcus could never turn her down. It was their secret, one they painstakingly guarded from everyone, Looking at her now, Marcus Vale wondered whether this was his punishment for all he has done - to be so close to what he wanted and completely unattainable. Shaking his head, he turned to one of the women who approached him, turning his gaze from the woman he loved and engaging in what was expected of him.

  6. #96
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    George snickered politely and shook her head. "Us? Flirting? Perish the thought." George of course was joking as she held on to his arm, even if he dared not look at her in certain moments."I have been thinking however." She added, her gaze turning upward to Radisson's face. "Making you jealous isn't really a priority." She smiled and nodded at the women who had passed them by pursuing their own various tasks and the like. George wasn't entirely sure if she was joking or serious. Flirting with the man was good fun, Radisson was ever so stiff except when it came to her. His changing dynamics were most enjoyable.

    "Mostly because I don't have to. You're right where I want you." George nodded in a slight affirmation as she squeezed his arm ever tighter. Even if she knew not where this would or could go, George enjoyed the moment and she enjoyed the companionship. "Have you ever noticed Lord Vale and Ms. Falconer?" George asked politely as she nodded in the direction of the two who had caught eyes from across the room. "The way he seems to stop breathing when he sees her? The slightest trace of a blush upon her cheeks? Those two are hiding something."

    Observation was George's strong suit. It was what had kept her alive. If she kept her eyes opened she would learn uncomfortable truths, truths which may be used as bargaining chips in the future. George slipped around to stand in front of Radisson, she took his hands into her own and drew herself closer to him. "Tell me. How often do you think of me since our last meeting? How often do you wonder why my skin feels like?" Her voice was low, no one around would hear her, the look on her face told others she was simply having a pleasant conversation. "Or perhaps what I taste like?" Once more she bit her lower lip in a sign of her own playful nature.

    "Do you remember when we were children? How the boys would tease me so? It's a shame really. Now they have to look at me, Georgiana, a lady-in-waiting to her most serene the Princess Royal? While some of them will never do anything more than muck out the horses stalls." George rolled her eyes. "And then there was Radisson... always in the shadow of his own twin. They all think Maurice is the one with the charms and talents... prove them wrong. Show me what you can do my Lord." George challenged him.

    --

    Saskia for once was not settled in the idea of spying on her own chief maid, and as such she had simply turned her attention to Marcus, allowing Beatrix to capture the attention of the Grevilles. "A little bird tells me you're sending Westley to deliver the mail." The Princess smiled as a glass of champagne was handed to her. She raised it to her lips and took a sip of the bubbly liquid. "It seems odd you have my protector flee the palace for such a menial task." Saskia hadn't yet put the pieces together. She had seen one glance between Marcus and Quinn, a part of her assumed she had misinterpreted the interaction, but subconsciously she was aware of some oddities. "Regardless, I'll need him to bring my mail to the Emperor."

    Saskia watched the man with a degree of knowing suspicion. "I assure you'll enjoy their content when you read them." Saskia knew there was no way someone was not reading her private correspondence, whether it be between her and Emperor or her and her siblings, to which she had written several times. "One of these days you'll realize that I'm charming and finally treat me as a friend rather than object that is to be feared." Saskia considered her next words carefully. "As in fear that I'm simply using your Lord for my own purposes. Would it be so terrible if I had feelings for Alistair?"

    The Princess Royal shook her head. "Well... you best summon everyone to the table. We do want the poor cooks to be finished with duty before the hour grows too late."

    --

    Saskia had turned her attentions back to the Lords Greville and to Beatrix who was doing quite well for herself. Part of the reason she had been chosen. "Well Lord Alan as it turns out there is a solution to the problem of your eldest." The Princess said with a smirk on her face, looking at Maurice rather playfully. "We must have him married. Surely there must be some maiden to tame his wiles." Saskia chuckled lightly.

    "Tell me good sir, what is your type?" The Princess would manuever herself to wrap her arm around Alan's, leaning against him as though the two had been acquainted warmly for years. "You have all of my compassion my Lord." Saskia expressed rather fondly to Alan as she looked out at his eldest son.

    "I'll tell you it isn't my late husband." Beatrix practically burst out laughing, if after all Maurice, one of her oldest friends at court could make a joke, she certainly could as well. Beatrix and Maurice were another odd pair, never a couple, never a real flirtation, but they occupied the same sphere of society. They were ever so often around one another. "Whether your father is too old or not, you really should consider giving him a grandchild. "Something to calm his nerves that you are so keen on alarming."

    Beatrix was a natural, and Saskia couldn't help but have warm feelings for the woman. There was a hidden pain in Beatrix. They all jested of her husband but Saskia understood it was likely far worse than anyone imagined. It was devastating really.

    ---

    "Is it a ghost story or are you just embarrassed?" Charlotte asked without hesitation. She looked upon the women who crowded themselves around the young man. They were practically throwing themselves at Westley. But he enjoyed it she surmised. He held them around like as though he were an Emperor and this was his court. She saw through him, it was rather obviously if anyone dared actually pay attention. Westley craved attention, he was miserable here. "Your color seems to have returned." Charlotte offered rather politely as the story went on.
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  7. #97
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    “Marcus and Quinn?” Radisson frowned, his eyes starting to trail towards his comrade just as Saskia approached him, pulling his attention from whatever brooding thoughts he was engaged in. Across the room, he saw Quinn, dressed in a simple dinner dress, talking amiably with Berkley, nodding to something he said. George’s observation seemed strange - they had all watched Westley’s brother grow up but had she ever even spoken to the elder Vale before? He was trying to remember but before his mind could conjure anything that may prove or disprove Georgiana’s theory, there was the devil her hands on his, pressing herself up towards him and her voice dripping with seduction.

    “For fucks sake, George,” he responded, scoffing slightly though his expression remained pleasant, the only sign that he heard her in his darkened color of his eyes. He lifted her hands to his lips. “If you want me to marry you, just ask. No need to compromise me.” Planting a kiss on one, he let go, his smile soft and relaxed though the corner of his mouth gave away his own playfulness. Chuckling, he looked to where his brother was pleasantly chatting to Lady Eaves, his hand innocently brushing against Georgiana’s body in an invisible gesture that bumped against her secretive feminine parts.

    “Don’t bait me, I’m too old to fall for your tricks,” he responded quietly. When had little George turned into such a seductress that would do away with any notion of propriety? It was exhilarating, a different sort of dangerous game that woke up his interest in the hunt, but Radisson wasn’t silly enough she was just playing. And whatever the case was, he was not about to become anyone’s plaything, even of someone as attractive as the girl before him. This was the kid he babysat many years ago, Maurice eventually wandering off to flirt with the maids while he was left to ensure Georgiana got her fill of piggyback rides and climbed enough trees to make him dizzy. The problem had always been that while the girl had no problem climbing up, it was the climbing down that caused issues. Radisson would have to scale up and guide her in the descent, threatening each time he would leave her there, George nodding in compassion and scurrying right back up the next oak she saw. “I am not playing your savior anymore.”



    “Your little birds are getting better,” Marcue bowed lightly before the princess, smirking in amusement. He had been keeping an eye on how the princess was gaining information and he was impressed even if it forced his own loyal men to work harder in establishing a network of spies within the castle walls. Offering the princess a flute of champagne and picking up his own, he saluted her before taking a sip. “Perhaps they have also informed you on how restless and rather reckless your protector is becoming. A couple days out will do wonders for his energy and protect your ladies from his charms. Otherwise, I fear you may have a wedding sooner than you anticipated with a non-too-pleased couple.”

    Bowing his head, Marcus couldn’t help a chuckle escape him before he turned back to Saskia. “Your royal highness flatters me by assuming I would sensor anything she has to say. All I want to ensure is that you are not having second thoughts as that would be rather unfortunate. The Asterians are certainly warming up to you although you do like making our collective job of your protection much more complicated.” His pale eyes looked out over the crowd, briefly observing Westley with his group of women before moving onto Radisson and the survivor princess. At least his friends did not find themselves in impossible situations where they could flirt with whoever they wanted - he should do as well if only for appearances but even thinking about doing it with Quinn in the room made his mood sour.

    “You are mistaken, your royal highness,” his gaze met hers directly, “I do not fear you may harbour feelings for Alistair - in fact, if that is true, I support them. However, it is my job to be cynical and you may agree, I have gotten rather good at it. I will reserve my judgement until I truly see your emotions move from lust of a newly bedded woman to true love. I hope your royal highness may forgive my direct words but I think we both appreciate the honesty between us, however bitter it may be.”

    At her next words, Marcus bowed low as he would to an Empress, a subtle acknowledgement. “As you wish, your royal highness.”




    Maurice made a face as Alan chuckled, his face lighting up in amusement. Leaning closer to the princess, the eldest man glanced at his son. “That is what I keep telling them both, your royal highness. This one,” he pointed with his walking stick at Maurice, “has been avoiding marriage for years and that one is too proper to do anything at all. I will die with them both bachelors at this rate so I must relly on your capable hands to see them settled and me with grandkids running around my estate.”

    “Father, you cannot be serious,” Maurice groaned, rolling his grey-green eyes, one of the few differences he had with Radisson. At first glance, the two twins seemed identical - they had the same height, the same features and the same confidence and grace in their movements. However, if one were to look closer, they would see that the men were different as night and day. Radisson’s eyes were more blue while Maurice’s were green. The knight’s hair was streaked with pale strands while his brother had maintained the deep chocolate hue. Maurice’s nose was straigh and he kept his hair longer, tied back in a small queue, preferring brighter colors in clothes and not afraid to let his personality shine whenever he could. Looking at Beatrix, he made a pained face. “Lady Eaves, you must tell them that I am simply too young to settle down.”

    “I appreciate every ounce of it,” Alan responded warmly to Saskia’s proclamation. “Celebrimbor only knows, I always wanted a daughter but I will have to be content with daughters in law if they ever come.”

    “Or you could remarry,” Maurice muttered, crossing his arms on his chest.




    “Ah, a ghost story because the original storyteller who told the shaman was, in fact, a ghost.” Westley grinned, wiggling his eyebrows at the woman before turning to his audience. “As I was saying, the three goddesses fell in love with one mortal hero, planning to bless his bravery and his good deeds at his wedding for, although they loved him, they could not stoop down to a mortal’s level. Unfortunately, the forth goddess was not invited to the celebration. Bitter and seeking revenge, she threw a golden apple among the guests, the fruit ending up at the groom’s feet. As he picked it up, he saw a single inscription in the god’s tongue appear, saying this unique fruit was for the fairest of them all.”

    Westley paused as a servant came around with flutes of champagne, serving the women around him before he picked up the last glass, thanking the man and turning back to his companions. “Ah, I can just picture the young man now, surrounded by such ladies and faced with an impossible decision.” Like a magician, the blonde seemed to procure a green apple from thin air, gasps of shock and giggles sounding all around him. Smirking, the man looked around. “Who would he honour as the most fairest? Each of the goddesses wanted the title, promising him anything he wanted. Power, knowledge, success,” with each word, he moved the fruit infront of a woman before finally stopping before Charlotte, “but turning to his bride, he gave her his choice. In choosing love, he forfeited his own life to grant his beloved immortality.”

  8. #98
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    "I hope you have years to wait..." Saskia whispered as Marcus concluded his remarks to her. Saskia admitted to herself that she was rather beginning to enjoy his company. Marcus did not lie to her, he did not treat her like a child. He treated her as his Empress to be, and there was an admiration Saskia held for that fact.

    "I will do no such thing." Beatrix protested at Maurice's feeble pleas to escape marriage. "He's right, you are well past marrying age and I tend to have her Royal Highness do something about it." Beatrix's eyes flickered in the dim fire light of the room.

    "Me?" Saskia asked with a light chuckle, she looked at Beatrix and then at Maurice and sighed shaking her head. "What ever will I do with you?" The Princess had a look about her that was filled with a prideful determination. "Challenge accepted Lord Greville. I'll have your son married before the year is through." Saskia raised her glass. "Shall we toast to it Maurice?" Saskia jested, but perhaps she was not joking. Playing the role of matchmaker was one her responsibilities. Though she hadn't had any time to give it thought beyond her machinations of what to do next, and the next after that.

    --

    "Marry you?" Georgiana laughed at the notion, purely to irritate the man who was so intent upon seducing her. It would generally be a first for George. Men did want a woman with no real position. She was forever left in the cold. And as for the men who lusted after her, she ignored them all. They bored her with their little games. But this was different. "You would lucky to have an easy wife as I would be." George chuckled as she felt his advances, the slow and hidden touch his hand, the way he kissed her hands, it was all terribly enticing.

    "You mistake me Lord Radisson." George moved to take his hands into her own, pulling him closer toward her. No one was paying attention them, all eyes were naturally on Saskia and the company she kept. Even the servants waiting on them paid George and Radisson no mind at all. "While you may remember me as the playful child... the girl who needed saving." She began as she leaned in closer to whisper up and into his ear. Her warm breath gently hitting upon his skin. "The only one who will need saving here is you..." She smirked and leaned back, her eyes full of light and wonder. She was taunting him, but not playing with his emotions. She felt that would be unkind. George was genuinely fascinated by this man who she always pictured as stern, uptight, and uninterested in women or anything else that wasn't his job or the flight.

    "I always did wonder though... what you look like beneath all that finery, the livery of the Dragon Knight." George confessed as she took his arm into hers moving them slightly closer to the table. "Did you ever imagine that one day you'd be flirting with me? Teasing me like this? Wondering what I'd be like in your bed?" George shook her head, she did not mince her words nor did she fear speaking them. She said what she wanted, and that was part of why Saskia chose her for this role.

    --

    Charlotte listened attentively to Westley's story, she watched as the others hung upon his every word. When the apple was finally before her, she seized it from his hands and rather unceremoniously took a bite out of it. "Quite the romantic Lord Falconer." She commented as he finished his story. A part of her was admittedly taken by his presence and his charm, his natural energy was comforting, enthralling. But seeing the way he acted reminded her that she wanted nothing from him. She would never choose one who so openly gave his affections to so many women.

    "I wonder how successful that particular tale is?" Charlotte winked at the man and stepped forward to place a hand on his shoulder. "Better luck next time." She bowed her head and left his company with a satisfied smile upon her face.

    --

    "Shall we all sit?" Saskia relieved a waiter of a spoon and gently clanked the handle against her half drank glass of champagne to gain everyone's attention. "First, thank you all for joining me for this evening's meal. It is no secret that I came to Asterious with no friends or allies. You are all the first I can now call those very friends and allies. I am grateful to all of you for different reasons. Each of you worthy of praise. It has come to my attention that if we do not feed Marcus we'll be thrown into the dungeons. And that delightful forehead vein of his that emerges when he is... passionate will make itself known. So, to save us all, let us continue the merriment and enjoy a bit to eat. Sit where you will, I dare not make assignments tonight."
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  9. #99
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    Radisson coughed into his fist, hiding his laugh before looking at the woman. “Easy like you? We must have had different dictionaries growing up,” Shaking his head, the man turned back to the room as though nothing was out of the ordinary, catching the way his father was acting like old chums with the young empress, tilting his head in curiosity. Whatever they were saying, Maurice was certainly not in agreement, his facial expressions speaking volumes. Even as his mind picked up on the folks around the room, he couldn’t help but be aware of the blonde beside him, from slight rustling of her skirts to the delicate scent of her perfume. Perhaps if he had been paying attention, she wouldn’t have cornered him. And corner him she did, taking his hands and pulling him closer until she could move her lips to his ear, her breath causing him to shiver involuntarily and nearly missing her words.

    As she stepped back, he frowned slightly, mind racing to understand her hidden motives and, unable to come up with anything remotely reasonable, being forced to agree with her. He most definetly needed saving especially if he was to make it through this dinner and the hours after it with his sanity in one piece. Was their teasing getting out of hand? He couldn’t understand how they were getting away with it because George was anything but subtle and while he was loving the challenge, he wondered what exactly would happen should anyone currently standing beside the princess royal turn to look at them with any amount of attention. Shaking his head, Radisson allowed her to slowly start towards that very group, at once relieved and rather worried about what would come.

    “If you’re so curious, you can come find out,” the words were out before he could even think them through, his mind too focused on what he would say if anyone at all asked what they were talking about before he nearly tripped again as his brain finally processed what she said, her next words catching him off guard and flooding his mind with just those questions, his blue-grey eyes quickly scanning the girl up and down, picturing her in his bed. Smirking, Radisson steadied his stride though he had to admit, the image conjured was rather pleasing. “Though I doubt you’d know what to do if you came.”

    He ducked his head slightly, pleased that he had gotten the last word as they approached the group, Saskia asking everyone to sit at Marcus’ expense. The minister simply quirked an eyebrow but his expression remained otherwise unchanged as people moved to find seats. Unhooking George’s arm off of his own, Radisson held her chair for her before looking around, sighing when the only available seat was right across. Dinner was promising to be a long affair that would likely challenge his legendary composure.

    Beside the princess, Alan Greville lowered himself to her right, smiling when Lade Eaves sat across from him, Maurice beside the young dowager. Catching his father’s gaze, Maurice scoweled and turned away to the young blonde lady beside him who, Alan realized with a start, was Georgiana, Radisson holding her chair. “Would you look at that,” he murmured to himself even as one of Saskia’s ladies landed to his right, flushing slightly.

    Marcus paused as he stood at the other head of the table, hesitating for a moment as he looked across at Saskia. With a slight frown, he sat down, finishing the champagne in one swing and passing it to the servant who bowed slightly. To his left, he felt rather than saw Quinn slowly lower herself, nodding in his direction before smiling as Radisson greeted her.

    “You’re kidding me,” Westley’s disbelieve sounded as he lowered himself between Marcus and Georgiana, eyeing the blonde before slowly lowering down into his seat, his sister trying to hide her amusement across the table from him.

  10. #100
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    Saskia gazed across the table and noted the frown Marcus had given. The young woman shook her head. That position was typically reserved for the Emperor, though with his absence Saskia thought little of it. As Alan sat, she too clocked his reaction noting Radisson holding out the chair for Georgiana. "I wouldn't worry about that." Saskia said without so much as passing thought. "The youngest Lord Greville is far too polite to allow our dear George to tempt him." Saskia was wrong, and had she been paying attention she would have noticed it. But to her own mind Radisson was the person she worried the least about. He had been good to her, and done so without a second thought.

    "In my experience, Princess Royal, the those are the ones we should worry about the most." Beatrix added calmly while settling into her seat. Beatrix tended to position herself around the most powerful. If there were to be hierarchy of the ladies-in-waiting, she would make sure that she would be at the very top, first in line, first amongst her equals. "You don't think." Saskia cast her glance at George who was now seated across from Radisson.

    Charlotte was relieved to be seated a bit away from Westley for the moment. Beatrix naturally sending a smile to the youngest of the ladies. "Viscountess, have you met Maurice?" She gestured to the man beside him.

    Georgiana did not have the last word with Radisson and now her hands were tied as they were in polite company now. She resented his implication but understood he was now the one challenging her. He wanted her to come find him after this. To know she was desired was enough to make her smirk and bite her lower lip. "Westley you needn't worry, I have my sights set on someone else tonight. Your genitalia will remain in tact." George did not look at the man, her eyes were locked across the table. When everyone was seated the footmen entered each of them in a sweeping service to set the first course down.

    George turned her attention to Marcus. "Well, tell me Lord, how is our dear Princess settling in to her new role?" While she gazed upon the man at the head of the table, she had other priorities in mind. Her foot would set to work, a long and delicate long reaching toward his leg, and to crawl it ever so lightly up toward his lap. Of course, just moments ago George had called attention to Quinn and Marcus, but perhaps Radisson would be too distracted to pay attention to how the two would interact.

    The Princess Royal smiled softly. "In the name of trust and friendship... I would like to see who has the most embarrassing Alistair story. For purely noble purposes." She spoke mostly to Lord Greville and some of the others who had known him for a bit of time.
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

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