Dark Voices and Lost Souls

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by LadyHarpy, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Caoimhe sat at her desk, working quietly on another pile of papers that involved laws and construction projects of many kinds. It wasn't easy being the queen, especially when you were still technically a princess. Her eyes drifted from the paper in front of her to look at the going fire place, keeping the room at a nice warm temperature since the castle did not hold heat very well.

    She could feel a spirit drifting by, hanging over her shoulder as she worked. It was a minor one, neither good or bad, just a curious soul watching the living, or in this case her, go about their daily lives. It was nice when the spirits weren't one or the other, it meant she couldn't hear them. Only the truely good or evil could preach their words into her mind. She looked away from the fire to the door, hearing a small knock before it opened.

    "Your Highness...His Masjesty has finished with his current flock...and is requesting another." One of her advisors said, his expression grim.

    A small sigh passed Caoimhe's lips but her calm and peaceful expression did not change. She shuffled through some of her papers before grabbing a quil and dabbing it into a bottle of ink. She quickly wrote a message and folded the paper neatly, holding it out to the man in front of her.

    "Pay the women he has finished with and go deliver this to The Dragon Cave Brothel...We'll need another group to keep him satisfied." She said, her tone rather stiff and business like on the topic of her fathers condition.

    The advisor took the message and gave a quick nod before leaving and closing the door. Caoimhe leaned back in her chair and set down the quil for a moment, her plain expression breaking into one of discomfort.

    It had been so long since this had begun, her fathers almost starving need to sleep with women. Nothing she or anyone else had tried has calmed him and as days pass it just got worse. She was to the point of giving up and just preparing to spend the rest of her days spending the royal tresury on prostitutes. However, she felt a small twinge of something and looked up, her gaze turning to the large set of windows that sat behind her, showing her the kingdom and all it's beautiful glory.

    There was something there, something spirit like, drifting toward her kingdom. It was still far off though, meaning that what ever was coming was stronger than any spirit she had ever met. She stood up from her chair, leaving her papers to sit, and looked more closely at her kingdom, before walking out of her office quickly.

    She needed a breath of fresh air...and a place to escape this coming feeling.
     
  2. The falling dusk cast a cool breeze through the fog-enshrouded forest-scape, thick trees and shrubbery alike swaying and bending as the element's gentle fingers pawed softly over leaves and branch. It pulled at the elegant tresses of his white hair, tossing a snowy strand into a pale, beautiful face. As he walked, he raised a gloved hand to the sky and closed his eyes; once, he would savor the scents of autumn and the delicate caress of the foresty wind.

    Renault's steps were sure, striding along with all the ease and practice of one who had spent several lifetimes on foot. He moved with purpose, pressing unwavering against the wind and spiraling leaves, occasionally gathering his vast cape over an arm. Though it was improbable -Impossible rather- that the dusty road or drifting flora would mar his attire, some habits simply never died.

    Never died.

    Slowly, pale lips turned over into a grimace of a smile, one that would linger tauntingly over his pale visage before inevitably drifting away like the soft autumnal zephyrs combing his long hair.

    It burned like the setting sun, a familiar beacon in the back of his thoughts. The eternal, unholy compass that guided his journey. It had lead him for a fiveday walk through the distant mountain and plains, and now deposited him in his sleepy forest. The further he walked, the better upkeep of the single dirt road that snaked between the massive trees. Renault didn't know the name of this forest, nor even the very kingdom to which he was headed. Such things simply weren't important, as even forests and kingdoms are subject to decay, to change. Verily, what is in a name, but a device with which to remember? Of what use are names to he who wishes only to forget?

    The tall, thin, well dressed figure emerged some time later from the copse of trees lining the outside of the forest, to squint thoughtfully through hellfire eyes at the castle looming in the distance. It rose hauntingly from the depths of a broad village, where candle light and lanterns began to sprout here and there to dot the quaint buildings therein like amber fireflies. One finely tailored sleeve slowly wound over the other, arms folding over the wanderer's sturdy torso. As he mused his next steps, a wisp of darkness, a tendril of shadow reached up to him from the darkening trees. It stroked his pale, gaunt cheek unnoticed, before flicking an errant twig from a slender shoulder.

    The ethereal threads to which he danced like some morose, beautiful puppet were pulling him directly towards that castle.

    "High profile. Splendid," he uttered to nobody at all, his voice soft and hoarse from nearly a week's silence. It was with a patient sigh that the wanderer adjusted his fine, ebon gloves and started towards the village, towards his Quarry.

    Lets hope this one goes down quietly.

    Renault Illance Vintora, with a growing pout, sincerely doubted it would be that easy.

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  3. Her quick steps took her down many long and winding hallways, filled with pictures of royalty and heros and recreated battles from times of old. Guards stood calm and in position at their posts in each hall, saluting her as she passed and Caoimhe herself giving them a polite nod. Her journey lead her down a massive staircase, covered in thick blood red carpet and crafted of smooth stone. She eventually wandered out of the castle, now in the massive courtyard that separated it from the village.

    She looked out toward the village, feeling the spirit getting closer and stonger slowly, almost has if it was taking its time to arrive. She tried to ignor it however, she knew that if it was like any other spirit it would float into her domain and start shouting out, either crying in pain from it's acient death or screaming and demanding sustinance like that demon it was. She glanced over the trees and flowers of the courtyard quietly before heading off deeper into the castle grounds.

    He treck took her though a thick forest that sat behind her large stone castle, a tiny path carved out of the trees and meant for the use of only one person at a time. She needed to slip away to her private garden, even if night time was setting in a making the sky to a dark blue and the air was chilling with the reminder of autumn. She walked deeper, walking over the few fallen leaves that were laying on the ground, showing that soon the trees would be bare like they were every year.

    Eventually there was a break in the trees and it opened up to her lovely garden and a smalll pagoda made of marble. This was her hide away, her cove of peace. Here she could breath, if only for a moment, and forget about the facts or the truth that she had to face back at the castle.

    Show Spoiler
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    She wandered into the pagoda and took a seat on the stairs that stopped at the lake. She watched the sun set quietly, almost in a trance as her mind started to drift back to her work and worries. There was so much to do, and so little time to do it all. Her father's condition worsened as days went by and it was eating away at their funds. But to stop giving him women would cause him to freak out and destroy everything in sight, she learned that the hard way. With the money dwidling she couldn't afford to pay for the things that her people asked for or needed, and she had to keep taxes higher than she would have liked. She had begun opening trade with other kingdoms and that had brought in some money but it still wasn't enough to balance out with her father's hunger for the sins of the flesh.

    Even worse no one could seem to figure out how to cure him of whatever possessed him to act like this. Men and women of all kinds tried to cure him but the men usually ended up severly hurt and the women...forever scarred for life. Her peaceful face faultered finally and one of distress replaced it. She just didn't know how much more of this she could take. How much longer would these spirits taunt her and degrade her family? How much more would she have to do to repair the damage that had been done? And When?...

    When would she finally be free of this unwanted responsibility?
     
  4. It was a walk to finally reach the outskirts of the village.

    By then, of course, night was underway, and those disinterested in congregating at the pubs were either passing the time inside with family or loitering casually to mark in undertones worries of the coming winter. He passed amidst them with his cape folded and its voluminous hood pulled low over his face, half concealed as it was by his abundance of silken hair. There was little reason to trim the elegant mass; who exactly did he stand to impress?

    The village/town laid before the castle like a crescent moon, all alleys and twists and turns. It would seem an invading army would have a fitful navigation trying to maneuver any forces in bulk towards the looming castle, but the man with the purposeful stride worked his way unerringly through the mass of dimly lit streets and humble buildings as though he had done so all his life. As he drew nearer and nearer his quarry, Renault noted that he began to -feel- again.

    Pausing mid-step, to spread his arms and embrace the weightless breeze funneling down from second story cottages, Renault sucked in a lungful of the crisp autumnal air, laced with notes of freshly baking pie. Hellfire eyes shifted languidly to catch the culprit settled gently on a nearby windowpane. Little tendrils of steam wriggled from its crust-stitched top. Beyond, a goodlie house-wife hummed a jig and cleared the table for her darling husband and little ones.

    Beneath his cowl, and for the second time that evening, Renault found himself smiling dimly.

    A casual slouch, cloak and hood weren't enough to ward curious eyes from the thin man as he marched sullenly over cobble and gravel. There was something almost disturbing about the ease with which he moved, the way the dark seemed to cling to his shoulders and the trailing hem of his impossibly black garb. A gentleman slanted casually against his doorframe plucked the pipe from his pursed lips to utter a guttural greeting to the stranger, who in turn pinched the sharp bridge of his cowl and nodded but once.

    The cobble road stretched on before him, but Renault's heels came to a stop. He tilted his head back in inspection and frowned; the rest of the path was barricaded by high, siege-proof walls and an enormous gate, complete with a pair of dimly lit guard houses. Time to make a choice, he realized with an empty-lunged sigh.

    With a sudden murmur, he made a big show of lurching down to adjust the lace of a knee-length boot. A moment's hesitation, before straightening to his six feet and four inches before trundling off in some wayward direction. The keen eyes of a guardsman simply saw a man out for a walk, probably stretching his legs before turning in for the night.

    Renault skirted the length of the inner wall, his steps taking him along the parallel road. Eventually, he found where the lights of the gas-lamps simply could not reach and took a quick glance over thither, and then yonder, before becoming nothing but a blur of motion. In the space of a breath, he moved off the road, over a patch of exposed grass, up one side of the three story wall and down the other, landing with a plume of shadowy dust on the well manicured lawn of royalty. In the distance, down one side of the wall sat the oblivious gate and its guard houses, down the other it seemed the wall disappeared into a dense wood. An occasional guardsman milled about with a lantern, turning lazy circles about in the name of patrolling. A semi-moat settled cooly near the castle's actual entrance.

    His mark was in there. Specifically, in one of the highest spires, where thin, open windows lent the telltale flicker of lamp light. Renault drew his cloak tighter and walked along the edge of the giant stone barricade heading into the black cover of the wood. He would try and get an eyeful of the place before moving in; all subtlety the better.

    Such it was that the tall, beautiful man with impeccable taste in dress and the confident stride of a prince found the hidden pathway leading near the lake, striding with no obvious rush and bright orange eyes aglow as they inspected the castle from a ridiculously safe distance.
     
  5. It was so peaceful in the dark, there was nothing but the sounds of the animals settling in for the night or stepping out for the firt time that day. Caoimhe sat there, looking into the dark waters as the stars in the sky and the moon lit up at forest brightly. She looked up, for only a moment, to admire the evening sky before standing and going over to a small box that was stored away in the pagoda. She pulled out some candles and matches and set them on holders built into the marble and stone, lighting them so she would not be stumbling around in the dark later on.

    As the candles flickered she slipped out of her shoes and headed back toward the stairs and lake. Even in fall the evenings held a warmth that was inviting and comfortable, only the occasional cold breeze being the reminder that winter was drawing closer. With the tug on her long dress, Caoimhe exposed her feet and dipped them into the cold water, shivering a bit before finally sitting down and letting her legs dangle into the lake.

    This would probably be the last time she could come here until spring, the garden wasn't much of a hide away when it was so cold and frosty that one couldn't even move. A small sad sigh passed her lips before she closed her eyes and smiled. She wouldn't let that bother her now though, she would enjoy her moment of peace and quiet, of no voices or spirit-

    "Feed us~ Feed us~" An eerie voice whispered into her ear as she felt the presence of many souls float over her shoulder and around her.

    She almost sighed again but held it in this time, there was no point in showing anger when the one bothering you was untouchable.

    "I cannot feed the souls of gluttony, for you have no mouth to taste with." She replied to the spirits that hung over her.

    She could feel them getting angry, they never were when she truned down their request.

    "Feed us~ We hunger..." They said, the voice now demanding and louder, filling her head with images of starvation and death.

    "I cannot feed the souls of gluttony, for you have no mouth to taste with." She repeated.

    The spirits groaned and rustled about, their true demon like natures slipping out as growls started to slip out.

    "We starved to death...We innocent being died without food...Feed us~" The spirit said one last time, she could tell the creature was on edge.

    "I cannot feed the souls of gluttony...for you have no mouth to taste with." She said, hesitating for she knew what was going to happen next.

    Loud angry growls filled her ears and the spirits screeched and yelled at being denied once more. She felt them push against her, the weight of them more then she could bare and her body slouched forward as she they continued to press. She covered her ears and closed her eyes, trying to ingorn them, knowing that they would give up and leave if she just sat here. No one could help her when this happened anyway, there would be no point to call out when there was no one else who could feel this.

    She'd just have to suffer for her gift, until the day she died.
     
  6. Fortune found itself with our stoic queen, as it always had in its own demented ways.

    As Renault picked his way through the thickening.... thicket, he glimpsed a flicker beyond the trees. Someone was evidently lighting up some candles. Guardsmen went about with lanterns, as a grown man hunting about a perimeter with not but a candle was just silly; Renault sensed no immediate spiritual threat nearby, at least none that -he- could locate. The ages had taught however that just because you do not believe something is about does not mean it cannot make you suffer. There were several occasions in which forces outside of his scope of knowledge intervened with his Hunt, though often to the demise of that which he Hunted.

    Perhaps, thought he as he pressed a low-hanging branch out of his face, there would be some manner of otherworldly aid lurking near the newly lit candles.

    Or maybe its just some chick.

    Renault pouted at a distance, all hellfire eyes and swarming shadow. The woman beyond had plucked up her royally elegant dress (probably a well paid maid or some like) and settled her little feet in water's edge. A gazebo, a muted clearing, and candles: this was undoubtedly a haven. It wouldn't be this comfortable out in the wilders much longer. Come winter, this girl -or rather woman, the more wandering eyes wandered- would lose the obvious comforts of her little eden.

    Tragic, really.

    Renault's attention drifted airly back to the castle, and he was quite ready to be on his way when he heard her voice. Soft, patient at first, with growing ire.

    When he peered back, she was nearly bent over as though she would fall into the water. How cold that would have been!

    Before he thought better, the thin man was -there-, and a leather-clad glove settled almost roughly upon a feminine shoulder, to steady her. His voice was clear, pure, a high tenor that carried the weight of thousands of years despite its warmth.

    "Lo, are you alright? Late in the year for a swim, and it would be a tragedy to see that fine dress ruined."

    As he neared, in the instant blur of motion, -they- became aware of him. Gluttonous anger spread to confusion, before settling on a most profound fear.

    Tis HIM. The RELEASER. Let us be!
     
  7. Caoimhe would have started from the feel of his hand, had it not been for the spirits that were pressing down on her more and screaming loudly in her ears. She could barely make out what the person was saying as the souls started to mention someone. The Releaser? She had never heard fo such a person, but it seemed that they were close as the spirits jumped back in surprise and started to throw insults from a distance toward the person holding her, growling out angrily at being interrupted in their punishment on her.

    "Let go..." She said weakly, trying to warn whomever had grabbed her.

    It was possible for souls to touch others through her, smacking and screaming at the innocent that made contact with her. She tried to slipp out of his grip but his hold on her shoulder was stronger than she thought and her movement was made pointless. It wasn't until one of the souls, either very brave or very stupid, suddenly screeched and smacked at the man behind her, hitting his side roughly as if trying to throw him off. Caoimhe felt another hit at her, making her fall back a bit into him with a groan. It seemed the spirits were more violent than usual this evening.

    "You do not belong here! Leave us to our will!" The soul said angrily to him, keeping a safe distance since it knew it was prevoking something much more powerful than itself.

    The other souls groaned in agreement as they hoovered in a circle around them, both Caoimhe and the man feeling the pressure and hearing the voices as long as they kept contact.
     
  8. Well.

    That explains things.

    Renault, unmoving against the struggles of the woman before him, caught the very real sensations of the nearby beings and understood instantly what they were. After all, it wasn't his first time at the rodeo. Gathering his long cape over an arm, he drew the robed lady to him and cast it over her shoulders. Evidently, touching her was enough to make him... vulnerable? No, that wasn't quite the word. What was the word? In fact, what was this girl? Hellfire eyes, the pupils of which churned thoughtfully with myriads of spirits howling in rage and agony, inspected the girl with a deeper sense of respect and importance.

    The soul, either brave or foolish, had struck him. But it would have had better success trying to shove over the very walls composing the magnificent castle looming beyond. It called out angrily, circling at a distance like a wary cat. Renault pouted.

    "Be you wrathful with me?" he called out to that which he could not see, in a dialect that was SO last century. "Lo, return to the night foolish one. Lest you wish to convene with he to whom Death yet yields."

    It felt good to speak. It felt good to be brave again, to -matter-. Though the spiritual pressure pressed against him like a blanket, Renault remained passive, only the threads and tendrils of darkness coiling about his boot and the hem of his cape a display of the latent energies harnessed within. His stare never moved from the woman, searching her face, her eyes, his arm crossed protectively over her shoulders. How long had it been since he was this close to a human? Much less a pretty one. Goodness.

    "Back to your bemoaning, spirit. Or I will strip you of your will and cast it into oblivion."
     
  9. For the first time since the spirits had started to onslaut on her, Caoimhe felt...safe. If only for the breifest moment. The feeling of being held close, of a protective arm encasing her as a strong voice sent to spirits that plagued her head away, it was so...different. She had sepnt her life just living with the unseen torturers, being shoved into walls roughly and being hit by more than one heavy slap.

    She looked to the, listening to him speak quietly as she tried to figure out who he was. He certainly was no gaurd she could remember, he choice of dress was far to fine to belong to any of the men that worked in her castle. He also didn't seem to even be from her kingdom, his face was far to elegant and experienced to belong to any of the gruff earthy men that were raised in their part of the world. But there was something even more noticable that kept her still and unmoving.

    It was the power.

    She could feel it, she knew it was there inside this man, bubbling away and waiting to be used as he say fit. Her eyes locked with his as he inspected her, the act causing her to feel even more of what laid behind the pale looking face of the man before her. She almost shivered, she had never held someone's gaze like this before, they were only ever quick and meaningless glances. This was far more intense than usual.

    The spirits that had been pressuring them started to back up, feeling the energy that laid in waiting to strike at them if need be. The voices turning into a low angry groan as they knew that they were in no position to start a fight with such a powerful figure. One by one, the souls slipped of back to where ever they had been before, the voice of of the ground filled with hate and defeat as it two floated away.

    "Fool...We will be feed...Whether it is through her or another."

    The pressure faded and soon it was just Caoimhe and the man, still looked in a stare, each wondering about the other silently.
     
  10. Renault took no note of the empty threats of the deceased; oh, how often the dying, the lost, the failures feel the need to shake their fist and swear vengeance! The spiritual pressure eased as the last of the spirits drifted elsewhere, the heavy blanket of mental weight merely evaporating. That left only him and her, standing by candlelight aside the softly shimmering lake.

    In the woman's eyes lingered equal bales of confusion and curiosity, but they were completely absent of one thing, the one thing that Renault had expected: Fear.

    This woman was unafraid.

    To that, Renault's third smile crawled brokenly over pale lips.

    How long had it been? The annals of memory drudged through the tall man's thoughts, drawing up ancient visions like rusty water from a well. Too long, he decided in time, tearing his hellfire stare from the gentle understanding within her gaze and depositing it idly upon the castle. The true question was, could he afford the distraction? Conversely, how could he not? Without humanity, what was he but a shell?

    Just as his eyes fell, so did the sturdy arm braced over the woman's slight shoulders. It returned to his side, the natural curve of his cape twisting concealingly over it. Fingers wriggled slightly, unaccustomed to passing over another being. For a moment, he seemed.... shy. But it wouldn't do to stand there gawping like a schoolboy. Renault was not guided by his eyes or heart, but the woman's natural grace and almost otherworldly calm were not lost upon him. She was beautiful, in a remarkably effortless way, but carried herself as though nobody had told her in quite some time. Symbolic of the injustice of the times.

    Affecting that gentle, uncomfortable smile, Renault tipped his head in a semblance of a bow, snowy tresses shimmering into place. He spoke.

    "You are unharmed, my lady? And unperturbed it seems. Exactly how often does this happen to you?"
     
  11. With the release of pressure from the spirits and the dimming of their voices, Caoimhe couldn't help but let out a small sigh of relief that she had been holding in. Even after years of living with it there were still moments when even she feared for her own life and safety as a human. She made no move to pull away from the man, she was still a little shaky since that was such a violent experience, but she did not shiver. Why fear something when it was around you every day?

    As her eyes lingered on the man's face she noticed a crooked smile spread over his lips, as if he hadn't made the expression in years and the muscles in his face had rusted in place. It was strange for her, looking over such a lovely face and looking into eyes that were more suited to a creature of the underworld yet somehow fit perfectly in place. Years of staying locked away and being bitter toward men made her cautious but even she knew when to be greatful to someone.

    When he finally pulled away and bowed his head, Caoimhe sat strighter and more proper, her habit of always looking proper kicking in naturally. For a moment she was silent, just looking at him curiously as she let his question hang in the air, eventually speaking in a clam and mature voice which she had developed of the years working as a queen.

    "Yes, Thank you for your help...It happens plenty, and that is all you need to know." She said, not feeling comfortable talking about her gift with someone she just met.

    Her eyes looked at him more intensely now, as she started to think less about how he saved her, and more on how someone like him had gotten here in the first place.

    "Though, I have to say it isn't often that someone comes along to offer there help...especially people who's enterance went unannounced..." She said knowingly, her guards knowing better than to let someone in without her permission or no telling her in the first place.
     
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mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]--> Renault thought through a colorful series of fibs, and had even opened his mouth to enunciate one, but his mouth shut unexpectedly. While it may not have been obvious to her, he could see quite clearly that this woman was Nethertouched, though the degrees to which eluded him. It was clearly something she did not want to talk about, and he wasn’t interested in pressing it. Her shoulders straightened, and she took a tone that was familiar to her, but not one she found tasteful. Who was this woman?

    The thin man stood solemnly and silent for a moment, his inner debate almost visible on his pale features.

    “I should tell you,” he began slowly, uncertainly, “that the man before you is some distant merchant, seeking to peddle his fine goods in your village. Or perhaps a knight errant, seeking the land’s greatest blacksmith for the repair of his armour. A wizard, per chance, come to amuse the king and queen with his mystics. I aught to tell you these things, my lady, but they would taste a lie.”

    What was he doing? The woman would likely scream out and before he knew it the forest would be crawling with guardsmen and his Quarry would catch wind and flee off into the night and… Well. It was too late. He was already committed. As he spoke with the woman, the little threads of darkness slithered from his boot to the base of her fine, fine dress, reaching out and –touching- the fabric of her clothing, weightless and unobtrusive.

    A fist balled up on his hip, and his smile dissolved into the expression of professional indifference.

    “But to say you are an ordinary woman would taste the same. Who are you?”
     
  13. Caoimhe watched him stand and followed suit, both of them on their feet as her eyes stayed locked on his face. As he spoke she wasn't really surprised, she new better to believe any of the lies that me was mentioning, his looks and persona did not fit the titles that he listed to cover up who he was. The way he said it though was amusing to her, many people did not speak like that anymore, it was hard to follow and too poetic for today's working class.

    When he looked down at her, his expression far more serious and indifferent, she did not pay it much mind. Many men before him had tried to get her to listen by giving her the same look but it never worked, not even this man with hellish eyes could break her down. However, even though he was ever so serious didn't mean she couldn't have fun.

    "You are right to say that, I'm certainly not ordinary like any other woman..." She said, a small slipping to her lips before she continued. "For I am the one the merchant would have to have come to to get permission to sell his goods, I am the one whom the knight would have to meet for it is under my roof the land's greatest blacksmith lives, and I am the one the wizard would entertain with his spells and potions for it is I who rules this land."

    As she finished, she turned from the man and knelt down to gather her shoes, standing back up and slipping them on slowly while trying not to show off her legs to much. She looked up at the much taller man once more when her shoes where on before slipping past him and heading along the small path back to the castle.

    "Now, if you are as smart as you look it would be in your best interest to turn around and leave, I have no time for strangers sneaking into my grounds and I will not let my concious be filled with guilt when my guards stumble upon you of their own accord." She called over her shoulder calmly as she walked into the night, the lights from the castle being her becon to keep her from getting lost on her own property.

    She continued on her way peacefully as she left to man to sit in his own thoughts. She would have the guards check the forest later that evening to make sure he really did leave, it would do her no good if he stayed around to long.
     
  14. Renault felt a similar jibe form in the back of his throat, but it caught and he swallowed it silently amidst the woman's gentle berating. It was a bold claim, that she should rule the land, one that the tall man did not take with any measure of seriousness. Yet, he doubted fractionally that she had told him an untruth. For one, why would she lie about such a thing, and for another, that seemed the most reasonable explanation. That extraordinarily lavish ring, imported likely from Eronia, must have been a signet ring for stamping royal decree. And of course there was the manner in which she carried herself, decidedly unimpressed even by the otherworldly.

    As he peered sullenly at her retreating figure, flicking tongue against teeth, Renault mused that for the time being, he would choose to believe her.

    "Til next then, Your Highness," he whispered with a second curt bow, before the darkness took him.

    One moment he was there, the next second he was not.

    No matter. You have your quarry, do you not? Burns it still in yon distance, alight even in this the barren nightscape. Marked you are by the maiden, marked to be forgotten no doubt, like the others before her. No, do not call out, do not follow. For what does a wraith like you intend to offer any person?

    From an unmarked distance, Renault watched the guardsmen on patrol, singling out the tallest and thinnest among them. Impersonation was a craft one had to learn with a degree of competence in his line of work. Line of work. Feh! Be there others as yourself? Who do you call kin, you lonesome cur?

    If the years had taught him nothing else, Renault learned patience. For hours he would crouch in the dark, observing, marking... waiting. Nothing escaped his hellish stare, but for the life of him, he could not seem to figure the exact source of his mental beacon; he could not find his target!

    Mayhaps it wears the flesh of man. This does not bode well for plans of subterfuge. Alas. I shall await the disillusioned maiden in her eden; surely curiosity would best one locked behind stone walls day after day. And when this dismal work is through, I will be one step closer...
     
  15. Caoimhe turned back took look at him, prepared to return the goodbye he said, only to find him gone and without a trace. For a moment she only stared at where he had once been, a little taken aback by how quickly he had moved. It didn't matter though, he was gone and hopefully out of her property. She turned on her heels and made her way back to her castle, ready to retire for the evening in her bedroom.

    It took awhile to cross the court yard and enter her castle again, stopping a guard who had been petrolling and telling him to inspect the forest later than evening with a group of men, It was better to be safe then sorry. When she entered her castle she was quickly approched by a group of men, all who worked as her advisors. They started to list off papers and laws and inform her of more work that had to be done, even at this late and unforgiving hour. She walked down the hall, speaking to her advisors quickly and calmly as she started to rattle off answers to their questions but continued on to her room, finally getting them to leave her alone when she said she was going to retire for the evening.

    As she walked down the halls alone, an almost eerie silence fell over her, there was no noise at all, from either her or the guards that stood posted in the hall. It was ended however as the sound of moaning slipped into her ear and the hall which her father's room was in came into sight. It was so sickening, voices laced with lust and animalistic tones filled the air as she got closer and closer. She quickly passed the hall, not even daring to glance at it as she tried to block out the cries of pleasure, knowing very well that some of them probably belonged to her father.

    Caoimhe made it to her own room, far from the sounds of her father's play, and entered quietly. Her room was everything a princess could want, a large bed covered in silk and cotton sheets, thick carpet that would easily keep feet warm, a wardrobe filled with the finest dresses, a vanity that held the finest make-up and perfume, and much more. She walked over to her chaning area and slipped out of her dress and into a nightgown, her hair falling out of it's bindings and spilling around her face. She set her small crown on her vanity and began to brush her hair, removing the knots that had formed throughout the day.

    She took her time with herself, enjoying the peace and calm that she gained again. However, her mind started to wander toward the man who had helped her, whoes very presence seemed to have filled the spirits with fear. She had never met a man so...different, so beautful and thin. She had only even known men to be gruff, foolish idiots so meeting someone like him...it was definately something she would not forget easily. Her mind continued to think about the man, rather curious and interested about the person...though her train of thought did drift to his looks every now and then.
     
  16. Half a dozen men, their rounded, chocolate brown armors jangling with each important step, fanned out about the gardens and the lakeside. Each with lantern in hand, each with pike or sword or club. The guardsmen, young men fresh from the academy and veteran soldiers retired from the Queens Royal Militia, took their task seriously, as they did every directive from their fair and beloved queen. If she wanted them to strip down and chase one another naked through the castle, slapping their bottoms with beef jerky, by the Maker they would do it singing! Fortunately, no such whim came to the Lady Caoimhe, though for the time being a good inspection of the castle grounds would suffice.

    "Nothing by the moat," came a grizzled voice as the six met up by the massive gate.

    "Neither near Her Majesty's Royal lettuce patch," came a younger voice, accompanied by crunchy chewing. A murmur of laughter arose from the guardsmen, and they fanned out again, calling out occasionally that all was well.

    "What's she like, the queen?" asked one of the younger men, his hands wrenching his spear eagerly as he sidled beside one of the veterans. They were sweeping along the vast wall, their lanterns casting a golden aura that spilled evenly over the well-cut grass. The veteran, Giles, turned to regard the young guard with a half-smile.

    "New here, eh youngin'?"

    The young man nodded sullenly, his eyes concealed by the half-faced helm standard to their brotherhood. "Been workin' the grounds for two tendays now. They say if I stay on for another six months, I'll actually get to patrol inside."

    Giles chuckled at the hopefulness of this young one. He remembered those sterling days when the work was fresh and honorable. When the king was a man worth defending, and that sweet little girl was still allowed her innocence.

    "Well lad, think of the most beautiful maiden you've ever set your scrubby little eyes on, and imagine her with a twin sister. Her Majesty is prettier than both of 'em combined. Soft eyes, long, flowin' hair - when she lets it down. She's... she's like a swan who knows she could be an eagle any time she wanted."

    A moment of silence broken here and there by the shuffle of armor and the sound of rubber-lined gauntlets gripping a wooden haft settled over the two, as the edge of the secreted wood loomed nearer.

    "Some day," the youngling murmured, wringing his spear eagerly. "Some day I'm going to meet her."

    Giles chuckled good naturedly, nudging the young man's armored shoulder with a clank. "That's the spirit, youngin'. C'mon. There ain't nothin' out here."

    The guards, satisfied that the castle grounds were secure, gathered with their mates in the barracks for a shift change. Giles stretched his old legs and grunted, marching stiffly towards the captain's keep to deliver his report. As he did so, his thoughts returned to the eager young soldier he'd patrolled with. Good kid. He regretted not getting the lad's name.

    At the same moment, the young guard found himself stealing away from his peers and returning alone to the gazebo in the woods. He chewed his lip thoughtfully, while hellfire eyes churned thoughtfully beneath the rusted helm.
     
  17. Two guards, who happened to be near the gazebo and within hearing distance, stopped a chatted, one sounding eager and the other quietly awed.

    "There! Look there she is! She came out on the balcony tonight! Can you see her? Can you!?" The eager one said, obviously also a young and new recruit.

    The one whom he was chatting with, an older gentleman whom looked that he had seen the horrors of war and all in the name of his kingdom and yet held a soft almost lovestruck gaze up at the bright window. It was far from where they were, but it was close enough were someone could see a figure, a plesantly curvy outside visible as the light and slipped from her room cased a dark shadow to fall over her front.

    "Yeah, I see her...Even though I'm as old as I am and have a loving wife, there is something about her that makes my heart flutter to a point where it will come out my mouth..."

    "Yeah..." The young guard agreed, looking just as lovestruck as the elder one. "I'm going to marry her one day! I'll prove myself and she'll make me her king!"

    The Elder guard, glancing to the young one with a smile, shook his head an slapped his back.

    "Sorry son...but you're a little on the young side for the queen, and she isn't looking for a king. She's got better things to do."

    The younger guard sighed, kicking the dirt lightly before adjusting his belt and letting his pike on his shoulder. The older one just laughed and started to guide him back toward the castle.

    "Don't worry kid...You may not be able to catch the queen's eye but I'm sure that a pretty little maid or two will have their eyes on you once you get more work and train more."

    The sounds of the conversation drifted away, only the silence of the forest left for anyone to hear.

    Caoimhe had finished with her hair, now much strighter and longer now that it was down, and wandered onto her balcony to think and relax a little more before going to bed. She could see the lanterns of her guards gleaming in the night, knowing that they were following her orders to the letter. He mind was quiet for once, she really didn't have anything to think about. She had already pondered the man she had met that evening to a point where it was getting repetative. She closed her eyes slowly and enjoyed the feeling of the cool air on her skin before she turned to head back into her room. A quick closing of the door and a short breath killed the candlights and the once brightly lit window that signaled where she was disappeared into the darkness of the night.
     
  18. These were good people. Warm, strong. Like their queen.

    Renault pulled off the half-faced helmet and tossed it absently over a shoulder, watching the retreating lanterns drift further and further away. The heavy plated armor exploded into a pool of shadow the instant it hit the ground, the darkness becoming sentient and scattering like a hundred little black roaches. He shook out his snowy hair and waved a careless hand over the rest of the guardsman garb, which fell from him like the autumnal leaves drifting uncomplaining from the surrounding trees. Deep in thought, he stood there perfectly nude a moment, before willing the darkness to knit his gentlemanly suit back over his slender form, complete with vest, jacket and cape. As the last button of his sleeve took shape and color, he was stalking toward the castle, bright orange eyes fixed on a high window.

    Getting into the castle was simple. The high walls and dark ceiling made skulking about almost elementary. Some hours passed as Renault explored, moving with the surety of one who belonged. The presence of his quarry was almost blinding with this nearness, like a lighthouse in the darkest night. Yet, and this was most vexing, Renault could find no substantial evidence of... whatever it was he was after. He crossed a vast hall, expecting to see some manner of corruption, or at least a cultist or some such, but all in this castle was.... normal.

    A guardsman milled by, whistling something in a hollow breath. As he passed, the thin man stepped out from a nearby corridor and turned down where the guard had come from. His cape pulled over an arm, he sauntered silently as a ghost. In a distant room came the cries of mortals dancing a dance older than time, a rising crescendo of passion -both real and invented- hovering at alarming volume. It was here, in this part of the castle, vast and wise and so utterly evil, Renault found himself almost unnerved. Not that he doubted his ability to defeat the... whatever it was... but it was clearly masking itself. And so doing would make confrontation most difficult.

    Waltzing ignorantly beyond the king's chambers, the thin man continued down towards our heroine's room, his focus falling within as though he could will himself in the right direction.
     
  19. Caoimhe had slipped into her bed, her room completely dark as she laid upon her soft, plush matress and was surrounded by smooth, comforting sheets. She had fallen asleep only a moment or two ago, still slightly awake and able to hear the sounds of the world around her, though it was a bit muffled by the number of pillow around her head.

    Spirits floated over her head, these one just calm peaceful souls that still drifted the realm of the living, either unable to leave or just unsure where to go to find their eternal rest at last. They almost seemed to be gaurding her from something, but what it was not even she would know, the spirits that lived around her were either trying to make her commit sins or just hovering near her, watching her every move silently and curiously.

    As she feel deeper into sleep and the outside world slipped away, Caoimhe started to dream. It wasn't anything specific, it was of a time when there was she was happy, when the spirits weren't plaguing her mind and her father was just a foolish man who was flirting with maids behind her mothers back. A feeling a innocence filled her as she dreamed her sweet dream, the memories of old bring a soft smile to her face, an expression of happiness forming on her as she slept.

    Her dream continued on to another happy memory, to a time where her father had atempted to be active in her life, even if it only was because he was fond of her current nanny. It shifted and changed from one happy time to another, Caoimhe falling deeper and deeper into her dream, a part of her hoping that she would never wake up again, and just forever wallow in the peace of her dreams and fantasies.
     
  20. Eyes closed, feet sure, Renault continued down the hall, drawing nearer and nearer the queen's room, but no further from where he sensed it. Pale lips creased into a familiar frown, he paused to collect his thoughts and ponder his next move. From what he remembered of the interior design of the castle, and the hushed conversation between the guardsmen by the gazebo, he imagined he was near -that woman's- room. The queen. The ruler of the land. That didn't quite add up, considering she hardly seemed of age for such a responsibility; most matriarchs he had encountered were withered women, mentally and physically old and frail. Figureheads at best, like the unassuming tombstones that marked their cemeterys.

    And while he did not know that the sexual orchestra behind the vast doors down the hall belonged in fact to the king of the land, he wondered what sort of royalty allowed for such vigorous humping. A prince, maybe? It was baffling. He did not know, and he did not care. He just wanted to uncover his quarry, rend its soul and be on his miserable way. All of this proximity with normal human beings was starting to erode his mental barriers. Step by step, side to side, Renault began to pace silently before the large doors at the end of the corridor.

    It took a great mental aptitude to wander for weeks with no companionship, and the more he found himself pondering the so called 'queen' and her subjects, the more fond he became of them. A fondness that would only hurt over time, like seeking warmth in a great fur coat lined with thorns. This was his fate. This was the price to pay.

    Down the hall, one of the Royal Knights, the elite charged with guarding the higher spires, squinted down the hall and wondered if perhaps his sharp blue eyes were reporting something that was impossible. It would be impossible that anyone could have gotten up here. The Knight blinked once or twice, stalking forward.

    "Oy. OY. Who's there!"

    The Knight's hand flew to his side and bared steel as he dashed down the lamp-lined corridor. He reached the queen's doors an instant later, his eyes wide. Without a word, the Knight threw his shoulder into the doors, nearly knocking them off their hinges and casting twin beams of light into the queen's room. Stealing a torchlight from the wall, he began stalking around the sleeping woman's room, rising all manner of hell in his search for what he believed was an intruder.

    Perhaps at the order of the queen herself he would give up the hunt, doing so with extreme apologies, but muttering under his breath something about 'hell eyes'.