Evening Star || Sansa Stark & Ezra Brooks

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    all is peaceful; for now. The plague of war has ended after a long
    decade of fighting and for a single moment, the kingdom can breathe.
    How long can such peace last? The king of Farlonde is not the most
    respectable of gentleman and many fear that the land will be at war
    once again in the near future should the monarch's temper flare. A
    nation of hardworking people tiptoes on eggshells around their ever-
    irritable king, fearing his wrath, fearing his power. None defy him.

    To the north, the region of Evening Star lies secluded from it all,
    surrounded by the protection of snow-smothered mountains and
    warm fires to keep it's people warm. Among the northern folk stands
    a man well-seasoned in the ways of battle and grief. Viscount Aedan
    McKenna is the reigning leader of the region and one of the only
    remaining in a line as ancient as the mountains themselves. Made to
    suffer the curse of a widow, fifteen years passed before the king
    himself offered a bride to the mourning northern lord, and in
    knowing he needed an heir, Aedan finally obliged.

    Terror grows in the heart of the kingdom. Threats and whispers
    of another war on the rise filter through the commonfolk and
    Lord McKenna feels the fear. P
    erhaps two minds and hearts can
    merge into one, bringing the entire western world to its knees.




    AGE: Fifteen

    HEIGHT: 5'6''

    WEIGHT: 120lbs

    PERSONALITY: Soft-spoken and gentle, Mary is a sweet girl that is loved by many. She has a naturally nurturing demeanor but is very poor at self-defense, always trying to please those she is around. She is loving and caring to a fault, and humble to the point where others have been known to walk all over her compassion. Mary is well-tempered and a prime example of what the "perfect" bride would be in times such as these; pretty, quiet and dutiful. She is clever and educated, though she only speaks when offered the chance to do so.

    BACKSTORY: The youngest child and only daughter of Lord Casper and Lady Emilia, she is one of five total children. Mary was born into wealth and privilege, her family hailing as one of the wealthiest and most loyal to the crown in the southern realms. Her father needed to provide his daughter with an advantageous marriage, so the king offered Mary to the Viscount McKenna of Evening Star. Without so much as seeing or meeting her intended, she was tossed in a carriage and sent off to the northern mountains to face what fate had offered her.

    FAMILY: Casper Frey (father), Emilia Frey (mother), Darion Frey (brother), Jonathan Frey (brother), Alexander Frey (brother), Florian Frey (brother)

    CURRENT COLOR: #d6899e


    AGE: Thirty-two

    HEIGHT: 6'0''

    WEIGHT: 210lbs

    PERSONALITY: Henry has been cruel and malicious for much of his life, never opening up to anyone and allowing his anger to get the better of him. He is rageful but also calm and clever when he so desires, sneaky and manipulative. He would sacrifice anything or anyone to get in his way. He is a huge supporter of separated class levels and often mocks the poor, causing nobles seeking his favor to join with him. He has an iron will and a fist to match.

    BACKSTORY: Henry was always known to be vicious, even in his youth. He was an only child until the age of eight when his brother Arthur was born, and he hated him. More than once he was caught harming his baby brother and had to be pulled from causing further damage. He was trained well in literature and politics and became incredibly intelligent, perhaps too much. When his father and mother died under suspicious circumstances, he was instantly given the crown according to the law. He is seen as a dictator, either loved or hated, and a majority of his people fear him.

    FAMILY: Queen Celia (wife), Princess Emilia (daughter), Prince Killian (son)



    AGE: Thirty-five

    HEIGHT: 6'4"

    WEIGHT: 240 lbs

    PERSONALITY: Lenore is a modest woman, tall and moral and proud of it. She uses her wit to win others over and remains confident in her ability to do so. She always tries to see the positive in any situation and offers friendliness to those who cannot find it. Lenore is no stranger to sticky situations and will do anything to follow the orders given to her. Her appearance can be off-putting to her gentle. She has quite the taste for chocolate.

    BACKSTORY: Lenore comes from a long line of military men. It is a great honor for the boys in her family to start their training for knighthood at a young age, though Lenore was always different. She had no desire to wear dresses and play the harp and woo men into a political marriage. The boys in her family wanted to draw swords and dreamed of battle and wear armor of the finest steel, and Lenore was no different. When she was eighteen she enlisted in the Farlonde military. She fought in a wars and rose to the rank of Lieutenant before deciding to return home, to Evening Star, and serve Lord Aedan McKenna on his personal guard after the loss of his family. She was promoted to the Captain of the Guard in his household a few years after where she has remained ever since.

    FAMILY: Scott Caern (brother), Emily Johnston (sister), Esmeralda Caern (wife)




    AGE: Thirty-eight

    HEIGHT: 6'2"

    WEIGHT: 240 lbs

    PERSONALITY: Perhaps dominant in Aedan’s character is strength. Aedan is a proud man, who values both his self-worth and honor highly. He is strong and firm in his convictions and it’s said within his lands that it would be easier to uproot the mountain itself than to persuade the Viscount against his beliefs. Aedan is an upfront, yet charismatic leader, and a generally loud personality. He has a fondness for drink and revelry, which can turn him into a blusterous, bellowing figure who loudly recounts stories of his past glories.

    BACKSTORY: Early in life, Aedan was married to a beautiful countess by the name of Valerie Le’vere. A child was produced in the union, a son they named Ardan. For three years, Aedan lived with wife and son. They were happy, and the Viscount felt his life complete. The winter of his son’s third year, Aedan was called to the northern keep fo Caer Cabhan, to be present to address the King’s concerns over rising activity from the neighboring kingdom of Weiss. After a month away from wife and child, Aedan sent for his family. A carriage was routed from Caer Danalin to Caer Cabhan, but it would never reach Caer Cabhan. Two days later, a search party discovered the carriage ruins, and discerned that the Viscountess and her son had been murdered, then their bodies burned within their carriage. Aedan has never found those responsible, and to this day, fifteen years later, he still searches.

    But he is not growing any younger. The King has time and again encouraged Viscount McKenna to marriage, but he has time and again graciously objected to the idea. The murder of his wife and child are still present on his mind, and his heart is taken with the need for justice. He fears the attachment to another wife, still remembering the pain at the loss of the last.

    FAMILY: Viscountess Valerie McKenna (Wife - Deceased), Ardan McKenna (Son – Deceased), Lord Eamon McKenna (Father – Deceased), Lord Liam McKenna (Brother), Lord Tomas McKenna (Brother), Lady Alannah Greer (Mother)



    AGE: Forty-seven

    HEIGHT: 5'9''

    WEIGHT: 170lbs

    PERSONALITY: Donovan is a viper. Years in power has hardened the Archduke’s exterior, as well as the inner core of his emotional make up. People are valuable if they have the potential to either be manipulated or used for his advancement. He trusts none, and believes that loose ends are a man’s potential undoing. He believes in misdirection. He is not the hand that pats the back to find the soft place to slide the blade, but the man who feints the open conflict to disarm his opponent so they don’t expect the snake in the drawer. He lives intrigue, breathes deceit. He is seen in public as a pious, generous man, loved by his people, hailed as a benevolent, god fearing leader.

    BACKSTORY: The Weiss King has died, but his heir remains. At the time of the King’s death, Prince Tavian of Weiss and his mother, the queen, had been visiting with the King’s brother, Donovan Bellview. Word of the King’s death traveled quickly from the Halls of the Sun in (insert town name here), to Thenesin, where Donovan quickly and quietly cloistered away the heir of the Weiss royal line. As the child is but a boy, tradition and law prevent his rising to the throne, and as such, Donovan Bellview had been appointed regent in the place of the young king, until such time as the boy reached manhood. Donovan didn’t feel comfortable at court in his brother’s old palace, so he ordered the SunThrone relocated to Thenesin, along with the whole of the Weiss court. Now the boy king is almost a man, and the time is near for the transfer of power from the regent to the King.

    FAMILY: Crown Prince Tavian of Weiss, Queen Marianna of Weiss, King Tavian of Weiss (Brother, Deceased), Karina Bellview (Sister), Lisbet Bellview (Sister), Lene al'Rosin Bellview (Mother, Deceased) , Gabriel Bellview (Father, deceased)



    AGE: Thirty-six

    HEIGHT: 6'0''

    WEIGHT: 200lbs

    PERSONALITY: Loyalty is foremost in the heart of Roland of Giese, King Templar of the Crown. Before country and king, there is nothing. Roland was once an optimistic, starry-eyed idealist who believed in that moto, but like any who has come to the realization that he’s been used, has grown resentful. He is a sinner, who hides his demons behind a mask of duty and a boyish smile, though internally he struggles with them every day. He wrestles with the decisions of his past, but is not so preoccupied by them that he’s blind to the future. He’s devout in his service to his King because, as he sees it, he’s already damned his soul for the man, what more price must he pay for continued favor? He’s a model knight in the public eye, and yet behind closed doors, or in the depth of his soul, his sins torment him.

    BACKSTORY: Roland grew up in the North, his father, Count LeMount de Carlin de Giese governs the lands next to the childhood home of Viscount McKenna, and through childhood he and the Viscount grew up as friends. Roland, being the youngest of three other brothers, had little chance to make something of himself beyond the son or brother of the count, so he joined up with the King’s knights, and subsequently the order of the Templar. His prowess in battle earned him the favor of the King, and he was assigned first to the King’s personal guard, then found himself in personal service to the King. His friendship with Viscount McKenna became strained after the death of his wife and child due to Roland’s involvement in the incident, which the Viscount believes simply to be the investigation and failure to capture the criminal behind it, but to this day, the death of the Viscountess and her young son weighs heavily on him.

    FAMILY: Count Lawrence de Carlin de Giese (Brother), Raphael Giese (Brother), LeMount de Carlin de Giese (Father, Deceased), Emilie de Medecci (Mother, Deceased)



    « »
    Caer Danalin is the heart of Evening Star, the furthest northern province of Farlonde. High up in the Silver Mountains, Caer Danalin is a bustling town of loyal northerners, prosperous in both food and comfort. Though not necessarily the wealthiest of places, they are certainly not poor and the Viscount takes very good care of his people. The Viscount himself lives in a castle tucked away in the mountains. The culture of Caer Danalin is focused on warmth and friendliness.

    Cardainn Ros is the heart of Farlonde, where the King takes his royal seat. It is a bustling southern city filled with light and laughter and music -- or so the nobility would have you believe. The poor suffer in extreme poverty and lack of education, working like dogs to provide for their families while the nobles never lift a finger. Such is the conditions of Farlonde's crown under the reign of King Henry.

    Seerstone is the educational capital of Farlonde, filled with universities and students and professors alike. Many noble lords and ladies live here due to the extremely low crime rates and higher class communities. Royalty receives their education here and the streets are always cleaned to perfection, rich gardens surrounding the perimeter. It is as much a tourist attraction as it is a necessity.

    Am Barr is a group of little towns rather than the name of a single city, making up the majority of the south-western Farlonde desert, in the Floating Isles. These places are typically free of nobles aside from those who don't fear being associated with "outcasts". The desert people have minds of their own and are not afraid to speak out against the injustice. These cities are rich with color and silk and incense and entertainment, known as the many sex capitals and pleasure districts of Farlonde. Delicious spiced rum is made here.

    Lilliance is the main city in Fieldfather, a region made primarily for commoners and farmers. Lilliance is a bustling market town filled with fresh produce and entrepreneurs gaining experience in their craft. The markets of Lilliance are famous throughout the kingdom and many travel just for the experience. It is said that the best wine in the world comes from this place.


    A map of all Farlonde can be found here.


      All creation is the realm of an entity the people of Farlonde simply refer to as "The Light, or Grace, Or God." but it's known that lesser deities are influential over certain aspects of the divine.

      Allisir - God of the sun. God of the Day.
      Darr - Goddess of Death. Lord of Hell.
      Trist - God of the Gates of Heaven. Keeper of Souls
      Misikal - Goddess of Love, Fertility, Sex, Marriage.

      The "main god" in their beliefs is the Light, but they subdivide aspects of godliness into a henothiestic outlook. Marriages are performed within the temples of Misikal. One prays to Trist when a loved one dies, and to asking for their admittance to heaven. Darr is a prominent figure on the battle field. Allisirian temples are chiefly found in farming villages, where the sun is a precious thing.

      In Farlonde, there are five main regions which make up the great and powerful kingdom in which our story takes place. Each of the regions serves a purpose and has a noble "governor" if you will, that sees over all function and goings-on. The five regions are as follows:

      Northern realm, responsible for mining and crafting and providing fresh water. They protect the Farlonde border to Weiss and ensure that no one crosses without permissions. Governed by Viscount McKenna.

      Mainly made up of rivers and forests, responsible for hunting and environmental concerns. Governed by Baron de Ghent.

      South-eastern section of Farlonde, primarily for farming and the making of liquor. Various ports dot the coastlines. Governed by Duke Blackwood.

      South-western islands, responsible for entertainment and economy as well as tourism. Governed by Countess Iona.

      The main center of Farlonde happenings. The king's home is here, as is the home to the center of all Farlondi function. Governed by Grand Duke Harper.

      Farlondi and Weisson relations have been rather stressed over the years, especially with the impending rise of Weiss's rightful king, taking his place upon his throne when he comes of age. None know why, but many in Weiss have been fleeing to the northern realm of Evening Star in Farlonde during the past several months. Over the past fifteen years, a war has broken out between the two countries, and though it was quickly put to rest many lives were lost. Since then the trade routes have been plagued by bandits and there hasn't be any international advantageous marriages in nearly a decade.

      The following is a list of nobles to keep your eye on throughout the story:

      King Henry Rutherford II
      Queen Celia Rutherford
      Archduke Bellview of Weiss
      Lord and Lady Mallister of Evening Star
      Count Hardwick of Fieldfather
      Duchess Caimbridge of Crown's Court

    Mary Frey: The Gentle SoulBrisk bitter winds flooded through the windows of the gilded carriage, sending jolts of frigid shock through pale skin. The northern weather did not agree with her southern blood. Not even the furs on her cloak could protect her from the fierce winter bite and for a moment Mary feared she would never feel warmth again. Each inhale brought a dull ache to her lungs and her fingers trembled, clutched in a fist to retain heat. Mary supposed she needn't worry about the cold too much, however. Her mother had barely left the house during her childhood and she was told since birth that a noblewoman's duty need barely remove her from the comforts of home. I bet the castle at Caer Danalin is filled with warm fires and fur blankets. Surely I could not freeze in such a place. Mary glanced down to her slender hands and rubbed them hastily together, the friction creating a spark of warmth that she cherished through the remainder of the ride.

    It wouldn't be long now.

    The distance traveled from Seerstone to the far reaches of Evening Star was a long one, taking nearly three weeks of a constant slow pace to stop in various cities and towns along the way. Mary offered greetings and gifts from her family in exchange for a night's rest in the homes of various nobles. None had been unkind to her, and while the sentiment was greatly appreciated, Mary still yearned for home. Though home does not yearn for me. Father and Mother were eager enough to send me away. Perhaps it was for the best. Still, little things here and there reminded Mary of her family, of her mother's lullabies and her brother's ridiculous bedtime stories, all of which remained deeply rooted in a time when she was younger and not quite a brood mare to be auctioned off. But was she bitter? Heavens, no. Mary was too sweet and gentle a soul to harbor bitterness toward the family that raised her or the king that bartered the match. Viscount McKenna was widely respected throughout the realm as a fierce warrior and a merciful leader. She would find some semblance of happiness with him, or so she'd been told. And even if I do not love him, I'll surely love our children. I've no doubt that will be enough.

    "My lady," came a voice from outside the carriage, the driver slowing to a stop. "We've arrived at Caer Danalin. His Grace awaits you at the castle steps."

    So soon? That inner statement was nonsense as she'd just pondered how long the journey had taken, but now that she was here Mary yearned to relive the trip all over again. Fear coiled about her belly like a snake and squeezed. "Th-Thank you, sir. I will see to it that my father pays you twice over for my safe arrival." She glanced outward toward the elegant main courtyard, where the entirety of the Viscount's household stood awaiting their new Viscountess with excited patience.

    "You are most welcome my lady, and thank you for your generosity." The driver smiled. She could hear it in his voice. The carriage trembled as the footmen descended from their spot and opened the main cabin door, offering a hand to assist her exit.

    The air is even colder outside, she thought to her own dismay as her heels clicked on freezing cobbles, but it was not in her nature to complain. All of Viscount McKenna's servants, knights, citizens and otherwise had gathered as respectfully and closely as they could into the center courtyard while still providing her with more than enough room to walk freely. She felt a hundred eyes boring into her with inspection and her cheeks flushed pink in embarrassment. A part of her begged to run and hide. In a few short days, these people will be mine as well. I can't let them down by cowering. I'm not a child anymore. Mary gave her thanks to the coachmen and held her chin high, the aura of grace about her, plum-colored skirts lifted slightly so she might navigate easier about the stone. It would not do to slip and fall before such an important audience.

    One step after another, Mary encouraged herself to move forward across the northern stage toward the end of the courtyard where her husband-to-be would await her. The castle was concealed by winter's fog. Blonde curls bounced with each step and her stomach swam in pools of ceaseless anxiety, knowing there was too much at stake to risk breaking at such a pivotal moment. Deep breaths. This is fate's doing. The gods will not let me down.

    "Lady Frey," came a deep feminine voice from beside her. Mary looked up into the gentle eyes of a knight -- a woman? -- that offered her hand forth in a gesture of introduction toward the man at her right side. "Welcome to Caer Danalin. It is my honor to present you to Viscount McKenna, the Shepherd of the Mountain and our most beloved leader."

    Her voice caught in her throat a moment and she smothered her fear in its cradle. "Thank you. I am most honored." She allowed herself to glance up to the hard features of the man in question, and while he was certainly aged beyond her years there was handsomeness to him too, an attraction brought forth by strength and a warm gaze. Before their eyes had the chance to meet, Mary gracefully knelt on the cold cobbles before him.

    "I am Lady Frey, Your Grace," she stated with a bowed head. "His Majesty was most kind with this arrangement. I will do my duty as your wife and further your ancient line, and be faithful to you."

    Forget the speech, Mary. Speak from the heart. Instinct spoke for her in the next hesitant phrase, eyes of aquamarine flickering upwards towards equals of a northern emerald.

    "I...hope I am not a disappointment to you."
    • Love Love x 1
  3. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    It is a weak, early spring sun that cast its light down upon the city of Caer Danalin, doing little to push back the cold of night. The whole of the inner city was a bustle of commotion that had begun when the announcement was made of the intended arrival of a new Viscountess, and only culminated to new heights today, as the riders early this morning charged to the wall with news and sighting of the carriage and the traveling party. The sun set high above, powerless to disperse the cloud that sat upon the town, still too early in year and season to burn away the night’s fog, yet the people of the great mountain paid it little enough mind. She could come in blizzard and still they’d gather, Aedan thought to himself as he looked out amongst his gathered people. The frigid mountain air was ripe with the smell of roasting meat, stewing vegetables, and of baked breads. It was alive with the chatter of a thousand voices patiently waiting sight or word of the carriage, the laughter of children, playing tag and chase amongst the crowds. It was a joyous noise, of a people gathered to welcome their ruler’s new wife, to greet her with love, to offer her the warm greeting of the fabled people of the mountain. May she be worthy of them, he prayed, as he stood in silent reverie upon the threshold of Caer Danalin proper.

    Then his emerald eyes bore across the body of his knights. Even in this weak sunlight, they sparkled in polished armor as through each were encased in diamond, not steel. They, too, spoke jovially with one another in a sort of loose formation, gathered in the same spirit as the others, to offer welcome and humble greetings. They knew their reason, had spent the last few weeks in anticipation of this day, of this event. Aedan found himself somewhat envious of them. To them today was a joyous day. A new Viscountess to serve and protect. A new grace to take residence within these halls, and the promise of a renewed line in a family believed to have been broken by tragedy. Aedan’s concerns were slightly different. I pray thee, Misikal, remind me of the ways of courtship and a woman’s heart.

    A rider entered the courtyard, the scout of the lady’s procession, sent from the main gate on the edge of the city. Suddenly everything started, and with a shell of confidence about him the Viscount stepped from the shadows of the threshold of his keep onto the cobble stone path, where he would stand to receive the Lady Frey. Emerald stones watched the knights draw into formation, as honor and tradition required of the keep’s guard, and then lay upon the form of his captain, moving to stand by his side. Aedan was grateful for the dark leather gloves that covered his hands, knowing that in spite of the wind’s chill, a thin layer of moisture has developed on them.

    “I forgot how much I hated courting,” Aedan whispered into the air, his voice low, so that even if it was overheard, the secret of his words would belong only to him and his trusted Lenore. His words echoing in his mind, he took a moment to compose himself, to reassure himself that he projected a sure confidence despite his internal concerns. His tunic stretched over his powerful shoulders, dark and light browns mingling with deep greens on his shoulders and around his wrists. He wore a fur-lined cloak that added to both his warmth as well as it did his size, making the massive man seem more a wall of flesh and bone than man. Ceremoniously, a silver pommeled long sword sat at his hip, an encumbrance the aged warrior was able to manage with apparent ease. His hair was combed, and it’s length collected about his back, tied with a single cord of leather died the same deep green as adorned his collar.

    When the carriage arrived, Aedan’s concerns left him. Honor directed his steps, in order to properly welcome his new wife into his home. He watched with concerned, warm eyes as she stepped from the carriage, taking note of her thin frame, and the way the mountain’s gentle breeze forced her to disguise the mildest of shivers. The first time it happened, it brought a smile to his lips that was beyond courteous, but genuine. She was a pleasure to look upon; in possession of such beauty, that Aedan could not help but feel disarmed by it. She is cold. You should start by offering your cloak, his mind whispered to him, as Mary was formally welcomed by Lenore, Aedan reached his hand to the clasp of his cloak, while his emerald eyes attempted to find purchase in hers.

    She spoke in speech, and Aedan was not phased, but actually had expected something so forthcoming. She undoubtedly expected to be met in such a manner, and it wouldn’t do to simply exchange greetings. The speech was expected. What caused him to pause, cloak loose about his shoulders, was the statement that came afterwards. Aedan felt the surprise take shape on his face for but a moment before he was able to recover, and he removed the cloak from his shoulders, and in grand gesture, moved to place it over the shoulders of the Lady Frey.

    “I bid you welcome milady, and ask that you allow me the honor of sharing the warmth of my home with you,” Aedan’s voice possessed a timbre about it that made it seem as though it echoed off the very stone of the mountain itself, but a volume that spoke of little more than a raised voice. His words were as deep as the depth of his eyes, and his voice deeper still as he leaned forward, unceremoniously and whispered in recant of concern of her last statement.

    “Milady, it is I who strives to impress. Do not worry yourself over such things.” And the Viscount straightened, having given the gathered crowds their show, made motion with his arm towards the open doors of the keep, and then stepped beside the Mary, his hand extended for her to take, so that he could walk with her into the keep.

    His attention turned to Lenore for a moment. “Have her carriage tended to, and give the driver coin for his night’s stay.”
    • Love Love x 2
  4. Mary Frey: The Gentle SoulThe heat which encassed her melted deep into Mary's bones, her entire body sighing in relief as the kind Viscount draped his cloak about her shoulders. It smells like him. Like smoke and musk and fresh open forests, with a touch of something I cannot place. The smile she gave in return for his gift was genuine and she rose when told to do so. Mary respectfully took his hand, able to feel the warmth of his palm through the fabric of his gloves. "You are too kind, Your Grace. I admit, it's nice to witness after such a long journey. Seerstone is so very far from here and my caravan saw fit to drive slowly for my sake." Mary was known to tire easily. Her delicate frame had a painful price.

    The Viscount's voice and manner were gentle enough, to the point where Mary allowed her shoulders to release their tension and a sigh of relief to escape pale lips. She hadn't thought of what to do should her husband prove crueler and more prone to fits of rage than the king himself, though thankfully she felt that wasn't the case; for now. Time brings out the worst in men, so she had once heard. Give them what they want and you will be treated fairly. I can give him children, I think. Will that be enough? She followed her husband-to-be over stone steps and toward the castle gates, wondering all the while if the Viscount, too, would change with time.

    To think, I will be a married woman soon. The thought had yet to sink in. Her father told her that marriage would take place as early as the day after she arrived to a fortnight past, it would all depend on what the Viscount desired. Mary didn't know which option she preferred more. She was a mere maid of fifteen short years, and though she excelled in grace and beauty she was lacking in nerves of steel which separated brave women from fearful ones. True, she was a strong girl, though still young and just barely in her prime. She still had much to learn. Perhaps he can teach me much of the ways of life and war, for surely they are similar. Mary gave a glace over to the fiercely handsome features of the Viscount before shyly looking forward once more. She straightened her back in attempt to regain some of the confidence she'd lost.

    "I have never been this far north, Your Grace," she stated in a pleasant tone, her free hand clutching his cloak tightly about her shoulders. "I was breathless when I saw the mountains for the first time. Landscapes are fascinating to me. They remind me to appreciate The Light's creations, that even in a world so perverse there is always beauty." Mary couldn't resist a smile. "It must fill your heart with joy to look out upon such sights every day."

    That is my fate as well. What sights they are. She had been raised in a region of greenery and wildflowers and flowing warm springs, and while this land of winter was certainly a change, Mary had never seen snow before. It thrilled her. She had escaped from the slow-moving carriage the instant they began ascending the snowy mountains and balled fresh powder in her hands, tossing it up in the air so she might watch it flake and fall once more. But he doesn't need to know that. I'm not that childish still, I can't be. Not anymore.

    The gates to the castle swung open upon their approach and Mary followed him further in, wondering in the back of her mind when their union would take place. In truth, she wouldn't mind bearing children with him, nor the act of doing so. While the pain frightened her there was joy in conception, so she'd been told, and Viscount McKenna seemed a man of gentle and unharming nature. He won't hurt me. That in itself laid waste to an immense amount of fear.

    "This castle is magnificent," she stated, more to herself than to him. The inside surely has to be more grand. I bet the fires are enormous and the halls are elaborate, like a diamond found among the coal. Already the excitement bubbled within and for a moment, just a moment, she forgot entirely that Mary Frey would dissolve and Mary McKenna would emerge from the ashes.

    Misikal, please, don't abandon me.
    • Love Love x 1
  5. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    “I am pleased you enjoy it,” Aedan spoke, not in disbelief, but in pleasure, stopping their progression to the open doors of the keep, to take a look at the world around. From where they were, most of the world, mountain, and valley alike, lie hidden behind walls of heavy gray stone, but always over the top of the walls, the snowcapped peaks of his realm are visible. This world has always seemed to him a jewel, a flawed tanzanite, with the white peaks of the great mountains streaking through the crystal blue sky. “I pray that you are given to poetic license, for today is dreary and bleak still yet. If this takes away your breath, I fear you’ll have to remain safely inside when the sun finally bakes away the fog, and the true majesty of these mountains is revealed, lest you swoon.” He spoke in jest, with a gentle pat of her hand with his gloved one to explain his humor, while they started once again to the keep’s entry. “There is a view out of the southern exposure of the great wall, where it would seem you can see all of creation. But if you ask me, and you want true splendor, turn your eye to heaven.”

    And as though by grand design, they passed the threshold of the keep, through two large, heavy oaken doors, intricately carved with a singular large star, which shared prominence on both doors. Stepping from the wind that swept across the courtyard into the warmth of the keep presented a vast change in climate that seemed like walking through winter into summer. The entry hall of the keep of Caer Danalin was massive, spanning several hundred feet in depth, with grand ceilings that made one feel as though the ceiling were absent about the place. A grand staircase was the most prominent feature in the room, broad enough for half a dozen men to march up its steps at a time, and cascading gently up to an open balcony on the second floor. The floors were polished stone, smooth and well shined, cut into hundreds of squares nearly a foot in each direction. The ante-chamber extended a few feet into the room, at the moment limiting the view to right of left, to further showcase the grand stairway. In the ante-chamber, directly to either side, colorful tapestries hung upon stone walls. The first depicting the construction of Caer Danalin, the very building they now stand in shown half constructed. The other side, as though to celebrate the Hall of the Evening Star, was a weaving of the same emblem etched on the doors, with the words ‘may it’s light ever guide us’ sewn into the fabric beneath.

    Aedan remains quiet a moment as he removed his hand from Lady Frey’s, and busied his fingers at releasing the gloves he wore. Immediately, without need for beckoned command, a servant in deep gray tunic and black pants came forward, politely taking the gloves from Aedan, who with uttered thanks placed them into the man’s hand. Another, a young boy with a fresh face and head of bright red curls, waited for leave to take the cloak from the soon to be Viscountess.

    “Come,” Aedan spoke again once freed of his gloves, and the attachment of her against his arm. He stepped a few quick steps deeper into the great hall, past the threshold of the ante-chamber, and into the main entry hall. As he did, his eyes opened to what was hidden along the walls. To the right, the great hearth of the main hall. A fireplace some twenty feet across, alive with the life of orange and blue flames dancing upon the remains of chopped oak and pine from the forest. On the hearth, metal baskets of chestnuts were placed, cooked to release their scent through the room. To the left, exactly opposite the great hearth, another set of great oaken double doors, similar to those that led into the hallway. Through there, Aedan and his counsel sat in meeting over the affairs of the day, though typically the room would be occupied by various members of the nobility, today it was dark and cold. The light in the room came from a series of three grand chandeliers that hung from the ceiling, and oil burning wall sconces comprised of wrought iron. What the hall held in grandeur, Aedan felt it lacked in feminine grace. No flowers adorned the vases sat upon tables at the base of the stairs. The rugs that spanned the stone floor were dull, lacking color, vibrancy.

    His eyes rarely left the young girl as she entered the keep, taking a look at what is to be her new home.
    Such a frail and delicate thing, in the hands of one who has not had custom or need for delicacy in so long, Aedan’s mind whispered in admiration. What she must be thinking now, to step into these halls for the first time, and see in them your new home. But how to ask her. One doesn’t just voice such inquiries upon meeting. The privacy of one’s mind is a cherished and personal thing, and he hadn’t right or privilege to know it, not yet.

    Perhaps it’s best to simply move on, to keep her busy.

    “We have much to discuss, and I fear so little time to do it. There is to be a feast tonight, in honor of your arrival, and I had hoped to go ahead with the ceremony tomorrow evening. I thought to do you the honor of giving your blessing to the plans before then,” Aedan spoke, his voice different than before, a softer, quiet bass, stretched long and even like the shadows late in the day. He stood before her, attempting again to see into her eyes, to see any hint at lies behind them. “But I’d offer you time to rest and freshen up from your journey. It is unfair to simply demand your attention to such matters upon arrival. I can have you shown to your quarters, if you’d like.”

    • Love Love x 1
  6. Mary Frey: The Gentle SoulOh, yes. I could certainly call this place home.

    With each movement of bright blue eyes, Mary's brain cataloged and calculated every rich sight to memory. Elegant tapestries depicted elaborate scenes from her much-loved history books and a great fire crackled in the hearth. She broke pace with her noble fianceé to glide porcelain fingers along cloth and stone, the textures pleasing to her fragile skin. A little smile accompanied an expression of utter bewilderment and after a few moments she turned back to her intended, eyes alight like specs of a morning sky. "It's beautiful, all of it. Absolutely beautiful. It could use a bit of color if you don't mind me saying, my lord--I don't mean to insult your sense of décor, but one can tell just by looking that it's been a long time since a woman graced these halls." She hadn't meant to bring that up, even as an underlying topic, and for an instant she bit her lip in fear he might think her an insensitive fool. "I just...I just mean, I can help your home become more welcoming. Not that it isn't already, I...mm. Nevermind." Mary chuckled nervously. "Please, continue. My blabbing will slow us down."

    She hadn't checked to see if he was irritated or amused by her breakdown, and she didn't want to know which emotion had prevailed. It was better for her to pretend she'd never spoken at all than to face the Viscount's disapproval mere moments after their first meeting.

    When he spoke again, Mary was intend to listen, especially when the sound of his voice was a pleasing to the ear as it was. "There is to be a feast tonight, in honor of your arrival, and I had hoped to go ahead with the ceremony tomorrow evening." Mary's ears perked. "I thought to do you the honor of giving your blessing to the plans before then."

    Tomorrow? Her cheeks unwillingly flushed. Mary had known that marriage so quickly was a possibility, and a part of her was flattered that the Viscount wished to marry her so quickly after their introduction, but the realization came with other fears attached. Married. Tomorrow. Viscountess McKenna in less than a day, offering all I am to a stranger, my heart, my soul, my body. I'll belong to him, to this place, to his family's legacy.


    It took a moment for Mary to find her words. Her feet stopped moving forward and she stood frozen in time and place, fumbling for a reply as if it were a memory long lost to the archives of her mind. The past month of preparations for this match seemed to catch up with her all at once and she thought she might vomit, her subconscious having slammed against a brick wall of reality at full-speed. Collect yourself, Mary. He's going to think you disdain his plans or hate him for it. She blinked once, twice, regaining herself before meeting his warm gaze with hers, the pit of her stomach flipping over in dangerous and slightly painful circles.

    "I--yes, yes. Yes, of course. Forgive me, I was simply shocked." Terrified and thrilled, all at once. "Consider my blessing given. I would gladly dine with you tonight, my lord, and on the morrow I will take your name and give you everything else."

    Everything else. What a statement, what a proposal. The Viscount seemed to smile at her words and she almost resisted turning away to find something less enchanting to look at.


    When Mary was given enough time to rest properly in the temporary chambers she'd been assigned, she was called forth by a servant in the McKenna household to come to the main hall for a formal introduction. She freshened up in the mirror and gave herself a little mental pep talk before obliging, head about to burst under the pressure and importance of all she'd experienced in the past few hours. And there is only more to come. That thought alone was barely comprehensible to her eager and horrified young mind. She kept her back straight and graceful and remained a vision of splendor for all who laid eyes upon her, the doors to the castle's main hall swinging open as she entered. Foreign visages greeted her with their unspoken judgments, and for a moment she felt like a tiny ant surrounded by giants.

    Instantly she scanned the crowd for her betrothed, the only face she would recognize in the sudden sea of strangers.
    • Love Love x 1
  7. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    For a few hours, the Viscount gave Mary her freedom, figuring that she was going to need all the serenity of those hours to get through the remainder of the day. He thought he understood how she must feel, being in a new place such as this. It was one thing to face the wedding, the sudden marriage to a man she had just met the night before, another to face it without a semblance of her old life to anchor herself to, save for what little she had managed to drag across her own little world with her. She was far away from home, without friend or family for support or comfort, and though he’s never faced a similar situation, he was more certainly aware of it. But there were pressures spurring his feet as well. The King himself had arranged the match, leaving McKenna honor bound to accept. It would appear a disgrace to his majesty if McKenna didn’t, and with much favor, timely complete the ceremony, though the favor of his new wife may take that much longer to secure because of it. I just need to be patient with her. To keep in mind that in a day her world was utterly changed.

    “But surely there is something I can do,” Aedan’s voice spoke out within the confines of his personal chambers, his bare feet tramping across the well-worn rug upon the floor. He was undone, dressed in a tunic that hung open to reveal a dingy white undershirt, and a pair of black breeches. His massive hands flexed at his sides as he walked, as though he could force the answer from the air around him, while the greens of his eyes bore into the form of his guest, and elder man who bore such a resemblance to him they must be kin. His brother, Liam, some three years his elder, stood in the corner, arms folded across his chest as he watched with some humor his brother’s quick steps and erratic strangulation of the air, all the while an evenly tempered smile graced his broad lips and softened his hard face.

    “Why not give her the anchor you so believe she is without. You say she has no link to Seerstone, but it’s not as if it was so far that nothing of it resides here. You have florists in the city?” Liam suggested, and Aedan’s feet stopped short of it’s next step.

    “I always hated that of you, you know,” Aedan spoke through a grin, coming to clasp his brother by the shoulders. “How you can offer council of my problems that make them seem so easily solved, as though they were of no true difficulty.”

    “Come now brother, you simply have not had the experience of matters pertaining to a woman,” Liam spoke, and the smile began to fall on Aedan’s face. Tension built up in the Viscount, a palpable uneasiness that seemed almost tangible developed, as he let his hands fall away from his brother, and a step increased the distance between them again. Aedan, for the second time today, felt as though struck by words.

    “I do not wish to speak of it,” Aedan spoke, his inner defenses building up, shutting himself off from the conversation, as it always did when someone mentioned the death of his wife and child, no matter the context. It was a wound that he hadn’t let heal, a festering sore that blighted his soul.

    “Then don’t, brother. But keep in mind that your difficult with it is no secret, and though for everyone else, it may be acceptable that you refuse to move from it,” Liam spoke, and Aedan’s mind following along with the words moments before they come from his brother’s mouth, as though his own mind speaks the same. “Soon Mary will take her place, and it is not fair of you to make her stand in that shadow.”

    Agreement came with a nod of the Viscount’s head. He knew his brother’s words were true, had thought much the same himself, but hadn’t yet figured out how to get around it. It had stung when Mary had mentioned it earlier this morning, and again now. He would have to let go, and move on. He had to figure out how. He had a day to close a wound that fifteen years has failed to heal. But there were other mattes to attend to first.

    “Attend an errand for me brother…”
    ~ ~ ~ ~

    A few hours later, and the banquet had begun. The Viscount, bathed in waters infused with sandalwood oil, dressed in a deep green doublet, with wooden toggles fastening the garment up his chest, and silver work around the cuffs of his long sleeves and the collar at his throat. A necklace hung from his neck, bearing a thick pendant that sat about his heart, engraved with the very same star that sat upon his door. A pair of dark breeches, embroidered with silver accents met with a pair of high boots. His emerald eyes busy in survey of his grand hall. Over the last few hours, he’s had every florist in the city emptied of every blood known to grow in the valleys and fields in and around Seerstone. Blossoms filled the vases on every table, and along the walls, half the sconces were removed, their light bearing torches replaced by the brilliantly pastel petals of bouquets. Several long tables were set up in the room, making long rows for his guests to sit at and feast. As by his command, the table to bear him and his betrothed sat nearest the hearth, on raised pedestals, as though to overlook them all. Each table clothed in fine linens, with the manner’s best dishes and goblets standing by their sides.

    Aedan turns himself back away from the crowded hall, and steps back through the open doorway into the corridor, waiting for Mary to join him.
    Light, let this night go smoothly. Give her strength to see it through with grace and elegance, he whispered his prayer in mind, stopping as he caught first sight of Mary coming down the hallway. When he laid eyes upon her, it was as though his stomach forgot it was supposed to be still, or that his heart forgot the rhythm of its beat. He felt as though the years of his life had suddenly left him, and he was but a kid again, plagued by insecurity. He was suddenly anxious, as though he were outside his standard element, as though he were the stranger to these events.

    And in some ways, he was as new and unfamiliar with this as she.
    • Love Love x 1
  8. Mary Frey: The Gentle SoulMary had heard tales of the Viscount's consideration and endless compassion for those he held dear, but never did she think to experience it so soon. The entire hall was flooded elaborately with spring roses and violets and hydrangeas in every hue, orchids and tulips and water lillies -- her favorite -- as centerpieces across the long dining tables. She was nearly moved to tears at the sight, one hand clutched about her heart. Since I could not bring home with me, he dropped a little bit of home at my feet. That action alone struck a spark in her heart that would grow into the greatest fire the north had ever seen.

    The emerald colors of Mary's pleated gown matched those in her fianceé's eyes and attire, a most handsome comparison. Blonde curls were tied up in an elaborate bun, studded pearls in her hair and a necklace of matching style hanging about her slender neck. The entirety of her delicate shape could be seen in the absence of a heavy cloak and while her figure was curved like a woman's ought to be, she still appeared skinny and fragile. Though my appearance is the least of my fears now, she thought with a little sigh. Tonight I will be judged for all else. Every set of eyes were upon her, though the tension was relieved upon the welcomed sight of her dashing husband-to-be. If my sons have his strength and gentle nature, I will surely be blessed.

    The Viscount offered his hand to her and she eagerly accepted, the friction of soft skin against massive calloused hands encouraging that tiny spark to swell in her soul. "Thank you," she mouthed to him without voice, taking her place at his side. Had he any possible clue how much the simple gesture of flowers had meant to her? Already she contemplated how to possibly repay him for the immeasurable task as warm and understanding as this, but since she hadn't a clue to the things he liked best, she instead focused her attention on the banquet at hand.

    And what a banquet it was.

    Nobility from all across Evening Star and the far reaches of the north had come to bear witness to the union of their noble leader to his new southern bride. The excitement was apparent on all of the faces she met as her husband-to-be led her about the hall, formally introducing her to this lord and that, making new acquaintances and friendships along the way. Mary enjoyed herself for the most part. It was a strange thing, to delve into a cup of wine and chat with strangers while soft music floated through the air. It feels as though this is a snippet of one of my favorite stories as a child and none of this is real. Have I stepped into the most bittersweet of dreams, I wonder?

    Most of the nobility she encountered were polite and pleasant to speak with, offering their prayers and well-wishes on the union to come, but there were others who voiced their concerns. Lord and Lady Mallister was one such couple, commenting to Mary's face that she was far too young and therefore an inappropriate bride for the Viscount. "And your mannerisms are nothing quite like the previous Viscountess. She was a regal woman of noble taste, with a refined sense for the elegant, not a shy demeanor and the face of a foolish child. But I suppose you'll have to do." Viscount McKenna himself was absent for that particular comment, engaging with his mother and brother about affairs of state, though Mary took those insults to heart. How could I possibly live up to a woman's expectations whom I'll never meet, who brought my lord husband more joy and sorrow than I could possible comprehend?

    They stuck with her, the Mallister words. Mary had been polite when asking to be excused but the slight tinge of despair in her face was apparent, and her stomach tightened against her will. You'll find some semblance of happiness with him, her mother had said. Some semblance? Was it so foolish to hope for a life of love and joy? Mary tapped her fingers along the edge of her goblet, taking a modest sip of the sweet moscato before casting her eyes outward through flawlessly clean glass and towards pearl mountains glistening in the moonlight. Maybe I am a little fool after all.

    As if intuitive to her doubts, white flecks drifted down from the heavens above. Mary took a step closer to the window in investigation before drawing in a sharp breath, a previous frown turning upward in a great grin.

    "It's snowing!" she exclaimed, her face so close to the glass she could feel the cold seeping in from the outside. Fluffs of frozen rain fluttered to the ground from a partially-clouded sky, the entire horizon alight with what looked like falling stars. "Oh, it's beautiful. It's absolutely splendid!" She turned to face no one inparticular, anyone to share in her joy, though all she found was the judgmental faces of curious nobles staring at her as if she were a madman. Mary swallowed her thrill. "Forgive me, my lords. I've never seen snowfall before."

    "It snows all the time up here, my lady," came Lord Mallister's retort. "It'll bore you after a time. Though if you like, perhaps you could go and build snowmen and snowsculptures outside with the other children?"

    The insult sank into her soul like the venom of a viper, but she remained resilient. Courtesy was a lady's armor. "I appreciate the suggestion, my lord, but I will pass. My place is at my husband's side and nowhere else."

    Mary's eyes returned to the window and the gently falling snow, however, and for the smallest second she allowed herself to question what a snowman could possibly look like.
    • Love Love x 1
  9. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    "It's snowing!"

    Mary’s voice drew his attention from the conversation he was having with his mother. McKenna’s eyes watched the figure of his soon to be bride marveling as the new powder began to fall from the heavens, and for a moment he felt something stir within. He wasn’t so detached from his roots to have forgotten the joy of his first snowfall, though it was many winters ago. He could remember being a boy and dashing head long into the first snow of the year, without shirt or boots, in little more than his small clothes. There was a wonder about the frozen crystals that he had lost over the years, having become too accustomed to their presence, finding them nothing out of the ordinary. But he smiled in the moment as he watched the sheer joy they instilled in Mary. A moment that was all too short.

    Another voice rang out, this one in stark contrast to the joyous tones from his soon to be wife. Lord Mallister’s retort, a sharp tongued scathing thing, struck Aedan’s ears in much the same as he imagined it stuck Mary. The Lord’s words were chill, biting as he cold, snow covered stones had been to his feet all those years ago. The outburst from the aged Mallister turned every eye present to the pair.
    The damned fool. Thinking he can come into my home, and show such disrespect.

    “And perhaps you should be out in the snow as well Gerard,” Aedan spoke, his voice laced with a well-controlled anger that he allowed to peek into his tone, though his emerald eyes showed just what boiled beneath the surface. With a whispered of excuse, which he gave in before taking leave of his mother and brother’s company, Aedan approached the lesser noble, coming full bodied between the elder man and Mary. “Your age is making you senile old friend,” Aedan continued, putting a hand upon the man’s shoulder, giving the joint a hard squeeze with hands well used to the steel of pommel. “I am sure that I didn’t invite any of such ill manner into the warmth of my home. Such are the manners of beasts, and belong in the pasture with the rest of the asses. Do you belong with the asses Gerard?”

    “N..no milord McKenna,” Lord Mallister spoke, his face draining of all color as his words fall from his mouth in a pressured stammer.

    “Or am I to believe that you have not lost your wits, and that you intend dishonor upon my fiancé with your scathing remarks. Because if that is the case, milord Mallister, you will live to rue this day as the beginning of a very far fall from high.” Aedan continued, applying more pressure to the man’s shoulder, until the lord Mallister cried out in pain, and dropped down onto his knees. His hawk like nose flared with the pain, all the while his eyes closed to isolate him in the darkness of his eyelids.

    “Yes milord McKenna. I humbly beg apology,” Gerard Mallister spoke through gritted teeth, knowing full well the mind of his lord, and turning his eyes to look upon the Lady Frey, pain twisting his features as Aedan’s arm rose, pulling the frail man back onto his feet by the grip he had on his shoulder. “I am sorry for any offense milady.”

    “Now be gone from my home,” Aedan spoke, shoving the lord Mallister forward, and he watched as he stumbled a few steps, before catching himself, and in an attempt to save some grace, took a moment to collect himself. He straightened his tunic, and with a slow, overly patient bow, whispered a request of leave from the presence of his lord. A show of loyalty, to attempt towards McKenna, in attempt to repair the loss of favor that occurred. A noble’s tradition, to instantly and without shame humble oneself before an offended better.
    Much like a dog who barks at its master, then whimpers at his feet once kicked.

    Aedan’s attention then returned to the party, noticing that the scene had brought the joyous night a halt, and in the next moment the music began again, and everyone went back to their conversations. Aedan let his eyes linger on the exit of the Lord and Lady Mallister. The lady already seeing to her injured lord’s shoulder and from the motion of their heads and arms, a fervent conversation being held between the two in whispered voice.

    But is Gerard the only one with strength of conviction enough to speak his mind. Do the others look at her in such a way? Do they see a child in her? What is it I see? He asked himself, turning his eyes onto Mary, letting his gaze study her for a moment, as though trying to decide for himself. In truth, he’s known her for but a few hours. Had she not been his betrothed, would he have so condemned the Lord Mallister for his actions, or would he have dismissed it as an incident without harm.

    But she is no child. Not by any act of time, or in the counting of days, but through actions of her own. Children do not cross the country so bravely, leave behind their worlds to come and pledge herself to another¸ Aedan told himself, remembering the speech Mary had given at their meeting earlier that day. He had been unimpressed with it in the moment, but now how it had formed his impression of her, changing within his mind the child who stepped from the carriage, into the woman he so passionately protected.

    Aedan stepped up to Mary, and with smile on lips, held his hand out to her.
    “Your first snow fall should not be wasted in doors. We have music, and the Light has blessed us with this gift of snow. Tomorrow we will be man and wife, but we go that union without a proper history. Let us dance this evening, beneath the eyes of The Light, while the frozen stars fall.”

    • Love Love x 1
  10. Mary Frey: The Gentle SoulWhen the Viscount offered his hand to her, Mary was admittedly hesitant to take it. While Lord Mallister's words were harsh and cruel, she hadn't thought that physical pain was a necessary punishment and wished she could openly scold such behavior of her husband-to-be. Mary detested violence of any sort. While at times necessary, Lord Mallister had attacked her with words instead of weapons, and words were far duller than an edged blade. But alas, it would be disrespectful to refuse the Viscount in his own home and the offer he proposed was romantic enough. After a moment's thought, Mary slid her delicate hand back into his and accepted his invitation for a dance. It was not long before the northern lord had swept her off her feet.

    Viscount McKenna was an exceptional dancer, Mary had come to find. Though perhaps not as graceful as herself, he was quick on his feet and gentle with a partner as fragile and delicate as she. When he pulled her close, her heart raced with the feel of his warmth and the scent of his skin, the soft draw and release of his sweet-smelling breath. Never before had such close contact warranted a reaction from her. She knew that within a day they would become even closer still, one heart as much as one flesh. The thought was enough to make her blush. Perhaps he knew what had crossed her mind, for Mary swore she'd witnessed the ghost of a smile across his lips just as she'd looked away, embarrassed. Those lips will be upon mine soon enough, and other places too. Do I have the strength for that? I thought I was prepared, but now a single dance has thwarted everything I thought I knew of self-control. Mary swallowed the anxiety in her throat and ended the dance with a graceful twirl, letting the roar of bystander applause distract her from such unholy thoughts.

    The remainder of the banquet passed without incident. Her husband-to-be introduced her to his mother, a lovely woman who was kind in every way, and his brother, as generous as he was himself. She was relieved when the food was served, though she was rather picky with what she ate and what she didn't, drinking more water than solid substance. She politely declined dessert when it was served and did not touch any bread or cheese, two of the main appetizers, though she ate half of the meat provided and nibbled occasionally on some of the fruits available. Before long, the wine was flowing much more than Mary was accustomed to, and many were suspicious as the young lady turned down a second cup of the alcoholic refreshment. Perhaps it's time that I leave the men to their liquor, and spend my final night alone in peace. With the Viscount's leave, Mary rose from the table and curtsied politely to him.

    "Forgive me, Your Grace, but I will retire for the night. I look forward to tomorrow. I pray you have as great a night's rest as I surely will."

    But in truth, Mary would hardly sleep at all.

    The Viscount's captain of the guard, the same female knight from before, was chosen to escort the Lady Frey back to her temporary chambers. Silence passed between them for the initial few minutes of the walk, though barely another went by before the massive warrior spoke up.

    "You look very beautiful tonight, my lady," she said in a pleasant tone. Her voice was gentle and soothing. "His Grace is very fond of green. I am sure he was pleased to see you in it."

    "I was told it would match his eyes," Mary admitted with a small smile. "My mother always told me I looked wonderful in this color. I'm sure I will be wearing more of it, now that I am here."

    "I believe so, my lady." Silence weaved through the air again until the knight drew in a breath. "Tell me, how do you like it here so far?"

    "It is beautiful," Mary replied. "A different sort of beauty than what I'm accustomed to, but beauty all the same. I am sure my children will come to love these mountains as the Viscount does himself."

    "Indeed. The flowers certainly lit up the room, didn't they?"

    "Yes," Mary chuckled. "I was flattered to see them. I don't know how I can repay that favor. I believe flowers will be the key to keeping myself sane here, until the time comes when I am as used to the cold weather and hueless surroundings as I was to the brilliance of Seerstone."

    "Seerstone is quite lovely. My wife and I went there on our honeymoon, you see. We're fond of that place."

    "Are you?" Her eyes lit in wonderment.

    "Oh, yes. Every other year we travel down to join in the summer festivals. We always stop at Barter's, do you know the place? Where that large old man mixes milk and ice and other sweet things into this lovely, fluffy substance that he calls creamed ice. It's splendid!"

    "Yes!" Mary laughed in excitement. "Old Barter! One of my brothers married his youngest daughter. I used to love eating those cold treats on hot summer days when shade alone wasn't enough to keep me cool. But then I started falling ill whenever I ate it, and now I can't have more than a little spoonful before feeling sick." She sighed, clasping her hands behind her back, dazing off into the mere memory of that sugary sweetness. "I bet they could make hundreds of pounds of creamed ice up here with all the snow."

    "That they could, my lady. That they could." A few more steps saw the pair stopped outside of Mary's chamber door, and she looked upon it with furrowed brows, a question on the tip of her tongue. Lenore seemed to catch on to this and inquired, "is something the matter?"

    "I...I have a question, ser. Dame. If you don't mind."

    "Of course not. You will be my lord's wife come sundown tomorrow. I am sworn to serve you." Lenore's smile was gentle despite her intimidating appearance. "What is it, my lady?"

    "Viscountess Valerie," Mary spoke with a little sigh, fearing it may have been too early to breach the subject but it was too late for regrets now. "I would like to know about her, to know what shoes I am to fill. I don't want to say the wrong thing or act the wrong way, I don't want to displease him." The girl curled her hair behind her ear and gazed outward toward the distant mountains, as if piles of snow leagues away held the questions she yearned to ask. "Was she kind, was she gentle? Was she beautiful? Did he love her?"

    Lenore shifted her footing and frowned, though she did not look irritated in the slightest. Her face grew warm and caring. "You are very kind to think of the Viscount's feelings so highly, my lady, but you needn't worry about offending him. He fancies you already, he protected you well enough during the meal, and when you danced his eyes were only upon your smile. Being yourself will attract my lord most of all, believe me when I say that." However, she sighed. "Though you asked a question, and I shall answer. Lady Valerie was a...difficult woman, to say the least. She liked parties and gossip and the latest elaborate fashions. She was indifferent to the servants and was more interested in the Viscount's title than his affections. Was he in love with her? No, I do not believe so. But they loved their son equally with all they had, and when the both of them were taken from this world a piece of Lord McKenna died with them."

    I thought as much. Mary let the information sink in, fumbling with her hands, wondering how she could possibly help heal a wound fifteen years deep. "Thank you for that information, Lenore. I greatly appreciate your honesty, it has been most helpful."

    "Of course. I wish you a comfortable night, my lady."

    "And to you as well." Mary watched the knight leave her side and return to the main hall, while the girl herself slipped back into the elegant chambers she was given for her singular night in privacy. For a moment she hadn't the slightest clue what to do with herself, whether to scream or write in her journal or simply stare out at the sky, but the emotions balling up within her became too much to bear at once. She slid to the marble floor and embraced her knees to her chest, face buried, a sob coming forth from her lips.

    Misikal. Misikal, please give me strength. I cannot bring so many people happiness on my own. I'm not enough.

    Please, don't leave me alone in this place.
    • Love Love x 1
  11. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    “A little overboard brother,” Liam spoke, though he could not hide the brush of humor in his voice, nor the hint of a smile that played on his lips. The party over, and Aedan sat upon the front stoop of his great hall as the sun was about to peek up the horizon. Today would be the day, and Aedan hadn’t heard his brother’s approach, his mind being so consumed with the plans for the coming day. The older Viscount exhaled a discontented breath before standing up and taking the three steps down to the court yard of Caer Danalin. The snow fall had accumulated to little more than an inch of fresh powder, which had done little to dampen the spirits of the hardy mountain folk. He would imagine that the festivities would still be going had Aedan himself not promised them another feast day tomorrow, and reminded the bakers, butchers, and florists of their obligations to make that happen.

    “Perhaps a little,” Aedan spoke, his mind recalling his response to the Lord Mallister’s comments, and his lips curled into a humored smirk. “But it was an opportunity that I couldn’t let slip. Was what Lord Mallister said out of line? Of course it was, but I cannot believe that it wasn’t on the mind of half of the Lords or Ladies in that room. I saw their eyes when they looked at her, as if she was some kind of puppet they couldn’t wait to get their hands on. A source of advantage, something impressionable, malleable. They were looking at her as an inexperienced pawn to use in their games, and I wanted to send a message to them all.”

    “But she is a pawn in someone’s game,” Liam spoke, and as Aedan rounded his eyes quickly on his brother, Liam threw both his hands up, to beg still the Viscount’s reaction. “I mean no disrespect and you know well I would never attempt to manipulate her, or you through her. But she’s sent here by royal authority. A match made by the King. What is she to him that he would take such personal interest?”

    Like I haven’t asked myself the same question. More so, what am I to the King, that he would so intervene. Aedan let silence sit on the question for a moment, his mind dwelling on the possibilities, attempting to gather what little information he had to memory on the topic. He knew little to nothing about her parents. Local lords in Seerstone; a place where people of title and wealth are as numerous as stones on his mountain. What pull did the Lord Frey have in this? What importance? Perhaps he should have paid more attention to politics, instead of insisting that his life, and his duty remain focused on the needs of his people, and the patrol of the realm’s northern borders. A move was now made against him, and his insight of the field was so limited that Aedan was ignorant of the significance of it. “I don’t know,” he exhaled at length, “I’ve asked myself the same question since the marriage was brokered with the King, but I see no benefit to it.”

    “Do you believe the King’s premise? That she is of good stock and fertile. That she will bring salvation to an ancient, dying line?” Liam asked, looking around as he did, stepping closer to his brother, so their voices can be softer.

    “Brother, we shouldn’t talk of such things. You know the nature of rumor and what lurks in the shadows. The shadow has ears, and what you say could be easily misconstrued for treason if his grace should hear of it in an ill temper,” Aedan advised caution, though his brother’s question sat heavy on the back of his mind. No, I don’t believe the King’s proposed intention. There is something more to this move, but is Mary privy to it? She is but such a young thing. I cannot believe that she knows anything about the game of houses. She is a pawn, I cannot believe anything but.

    “I should to bed,” McKenna announced a moment later, clasping his brother firmly on the shoulder, as he ascended to the step beside him. For a moment, he let himself dwell on the clam having his brother around often brought to him. They were close, and though Liam’s visits were not as frequent as Aedan would like, they were always a welcome distraction.

    The silence between them was broken by the distant chimes of the bells on the temple of Allisir, which announced the rising of the sun and the dawn of a new day. The sound marked the new day official, and Aedan turned his eyes Eastward. His eyes gazed upon the majesty of the dawning of his wedding day. The purples and oranges of a renewed sun breaking through the clouds that had plagued them the last few days.
    The sun looks strong today, a sign of Allisir’s blessing, Aedan told himself, reading omen in the dawn’s sky. He inhaled a deep breath, renewed the smile on his face. Whatever game is afoot here, I’ll believe that Mary and I are on the same side. I’ll not doubt her until she gives me reason to do so.

    “A strong day brother,” Liam spoke, clasping his brother’s forearm, giving a tight squeeze to it in parting. “Rest well. Today you wed.”

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Sleep was short. Aedan had retired to his chambers with orders to be woken within three hours. He roused himself with the risen sun two hours later. He dressed himself in his usual fashion, a tunic he produced from a folded drawer , and a pair of black britches from the one beneath it. He restored his belt around his waist, but chose to leave sword and belt in the corner where it belonged. As he was looking at himself in the mirror, his mind whispered a thought to him. This was no longer simply his room, but by the fall of the sun, he and Mary would be wed, this room belonging to the pair of them.

    And it wouldn’t do as it was.

    There was, and had been since he could remember, enough furniture in the room to accommodate himself, but none other. The room had ample empty space that was true. He could adjust the spacing of all his furniture, his belongings, and easily fit them in again twice over, with room to spare, but he was at a loss for what she would need brought into the room. He hadn’t the memory of how it was decorated with Lady McKenna, it having been changed so long ago, and she his only account for what a ladies chambers should entail. So he concluded, as he tied the brown cloak about his shoulders, that he’d simply leave the redecorating of their chambers to Mary.

    Perhaps it is best anyways. I would have her comfortable in her home, not distracted by my inability to coordinate. I hear tell that women can become distracted by such things. Aedan’s mind mused as he opened the door, stepped out into the corridor, and was met by the salty scent of breakfast. The scent of bacon and sausages wafted from the kitchens, reminding the Viscount that dinner had been several hours ago, made longer by his refusal to sleep, and his grand and blusterous recant of the last border dispute with Weiss. If memory did recall last night’s rendition, perhaps alcohol and wine had caused the Viscount to exaggerate slightly, in the name of good fun and merriment. Memories of the night still flooded into his mind as he descended the stairs, the details still fresh, though somewhat askew from the effects of the wine.
    • Love Love x 1
  12. Mary Frey: The Gentle SoulPale streaks of golden luminescence crept through vibrant stained glass, signalling the sun's position at high noon, though Mary refused to cease her prayers. She knelt before the great quartz statue of Misikal, her hands folded before her, eyes shut and focused on the task at hand. Mary prayed for strength to face the many years ahead, for fertility, for the love and respect of her husband and the blessing of mutual friendship with one another. She prayed for a full northern harvest and plenty of children sired by the Viscount, so she might keep her promise of replenishing an ancient line truly endangered. Mary was a pious girl. She cherished the gods and the gods had seen fit to cherish her, so she liked to believe, as she had led a life relatively free of hardship. But I am still young. There is plenty of time to fall out of favor with the gods and damn myself out of my husband's affections.

    "Child," came a soothing voice from behind. Mary's eyes opened and she turned to find the source of the man who called, finding only a priest with a concerned smile on his face. "Your devotion to Misikal will be rewarded, I am sure, but you have been knelt at Her feet since dawn. Does your body not ache?"

    "My body always aches, Father." Mary gave a small bow of her head in respect before meeting his eyes again. "And to speak truth, I could not think of anywhere else I wanted to be. I don't know where I am allowed to go and where I am not, and I don't want to risk seeing the Viscount before the ceremony. It is ill luck."

    "Nonsense, my dear. Come. Sit beside me." The priest sat himself on the edge of a step, and Mary did the same. "What do you think a wife is to do for her husband?"

    "Whatever he asks," Mary responded instantly. "To bear his children, to warm his bed, to...to physically tend to him each night until a child is conceived. To further his line. To make him happy."

    "All true, all true. But what of your happiness?"

    She blinked. "My happiness?"

    "Misikal does not preach one-sided love, child. She is the embodiment of cooperation. One does not build a house on their own, they must find a partner to share the burden until the greatest of castles is built. Some are uglier than others due to lack of effort by one spouse or the other, or both. But one cannot succeed if the other falls behind."

    "You speak of love," Mary observed. "But how could he love me? He is the leader of all Evening Star, a man far beyond my years in wisdom and glory. He is strong where I am weak. The king bartered this match because I am obedient and fertile and dutiful, no other reason. I fear the Viscount will seek solitude in the arms of women far more exciting and mature than I."

    "Already you doubt him?"

    "Unfair, I suppose. But true." Mary rubbed her arms and sighed. "I am foreign to this place. He will not love me. Even my mother herself told me I could only discover 'some semblance' of happiness here, with him. But I will love our children. That will be enough, won't it?"

    "Miserable wives say the same." The priest frowned at her, but not in disdain, only in pity. "I feel such sorrow in knowing your mother and father have taught you so many lies about love and its importance. The Viscount is the noblest man I have ever met, he will not dishonor you. He has been very blessed with strength as you have been with beauty. You will balance one another, child. Forget whatever you have been told about marriage until this day. Everything changes come nightfall. I believe love can kindled between the two of you, my dear. Don't fret. Ah, but you have preparations to make and I am wasting your time." The man stood and offered a hand to her to help her rise. "I expect they'll be getting you ready soon. Go with my blessing, Mary Frey. I will pray to all the gods and The Light Itself for your happiness, as well as that of my liege lord."

    "Thank you, Father." Mary offered a genuine smile, already feeling uplifted from her sorrows the night before. "I will come here to seek your advice in the future, I expect."

    "Of course. And as always, my wisdom will readily be shared with you."

    When the sun was beginning to dip behind the mountains, the final touches to Mary's appearance were delicately added in various places. A dab of flowery perfume here, a few more barrettes there, extra powder for her face, scented lotion and a small adjustment of her heavy gown. So many alterations, so little time. She had sat for nearly two hours while various women applied makeup to her delicate face and pulled her hair this way and that. Mary felt more like a doll than a bride, but perhaps it was just so. I don't belong to myself anymore.

    "There," came the final exclamation from a rather boisterous maid, brown of hair and giddy of grin. "You look absolutely beautiful, Lady Frey. Come, look at yourself in the mirror. Come!" She gestured for Mary to stand from her seat and she eagerly did so, heels clicking against the marble as she moved to stand before the floor-length mirror in the center of the room.

    Instantly, Mary's breath was stolen.

    The gown she'd been adorned in was of southern make and fashion, floating silk and a tight corset making her appear like a goddess of the clouds. Slender shoulders were exposed, flawless and without blemish, chiseled collarbones the only accessory where a necklace would typically have been. Modest diamonds hung from her ears and blonde curls were pulled elaborately backward into a high bun that accentuated her delicate form, giving her an extra aura of beauty. Her lashes were painted black, lips a soft pink, and for a moment Mary hardly recognized the woman who stared back at her through the looking glass.

    "Is that...me?"

    "Of course it's you!" the maid giggled. "You look like the word 'purity' come to life, my lady. I've never seen a more beautiful bride. Poor Viscount McKenna, he might fall over when he sees you."

    "I hope not." Mary chuckled despite herself. "That would be terribly embarrassing for him. I would feel awful."

    "You'd feel flattered and you know it." I like this woman, Mary thought, so lively. I admire that. "Come, it's almost time. Oh, I haven't been this excited in years. years! Ah! Okay, okay. Come, my lady, your dashing husband awaits!" Mary followed where her entourage of attending women led her, a virgin heart swelling greater still with each step toward the inevitable.

    Before the cathedral doors were opened, she sent a final silent prayer to any god that would listen.
    • Love Love x 1
  13. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    According to custom, the pews were removed from the temple proper. The attendees stood to either the side of the red carpet that draped down the polished hardwood that served as the temples floor, that connected the main door to the alter. The large, wooden doors were closed, and on the outside, the Lady Frey was said to be waiting. The ritual of marriage was soon to begin. Viscount McKenna was standing at the altar, alone, dressed in a solid black tunic, embroidered with threaded silver and laced at his throat and wrists. He wore no gems, no jewelry, not even his signet ring, or the heavy Evening Star medallion he was rarely ever seen without. His hair was neatly combed, parted naturally on the right side of his head, its length bound much the same as it was when they first met, with a simple, leather cord. His heavy emerald eyes bore into the wood of the door, locked upon its brass knobs and brilliant polished surface.

    The room was starkly silent, except for the soft hum of a violin, played with expert care and precision not to force the priest to have to speak above a normal conversational tone. Nobody in attendance spoke, out of respect for the gathered party, respect for tradition. Aedan attempted to listen to the words of the priest, following several in context, but finding the easy tone of his voice difficult to hear over the pounding of his heart in his ears. His hands brushed against the outside of his pants, as he stood patiently waiting for leave to open the door. The priest was busy reciting the traditional tale of the marriage of Misikal herself. It was from this myth that the ceremony found tradition, that it’s symbols were defined. Misikal was standing outside the door, when her lover opened it and took her by the hand. It’s said he led her into the center of a room filled with darkness, lit only by a single candle, and the light of the stars. Only one candle burns in the temple tonight, though the bright light of the moon and stars cast a silver brilliance on the room through a small circular window high on each of the walls. The building was constructed so that the points of light merged in the center, casting its brightest light upon the alter.

    “… and it is said that Love opened the door for Misikal, and she looked upon the darkness of the future. ” the priest spoke, as Aedan stepped up to the wooden double doors, and with cold, nervous hands, he grabbed hold of both brass knobs. Slowly, gently, he opened the door to the night, and as his eyes came to rest upon Mary. By the Light and all it’s graces…His mind whispered, startled at her beauty, as the priest continued the rite. “…she could see only Love. And she knew her future to be a happy one, for as she could see no other detail of it, she saw that he was there, and she knew she needed nothing else. Love took her by the hand.”

    Aedan’s hand trembled as he took hers into his, and as Love did in the recount, Aedan slowly walked back up the aisle, with Mary in hand. The walk appeared nothing special, normal rhythm, normal steps, and yet for Aedan, it was as though time itself slowed to the magnificence of the event. Perhaps it was simply that his mind drank in as much detail as it possibly could, to burn each moment into memory. From the way she felt standing there by his side, as the priest continues with the story, to the way her hand felt in his, so gentle and delicate, as they joined their palms, laced fingers together, and the priest poured blessed water over their joined hands. He felt ever vigilant, aware of every move she made, from the slightest of breaths, to the smallest tremble that danced within her hands as his fingers left hers, and they turned to face one another.

    A satin ribbon was then wrapped loosely around them. The Viscount’s eyes held onto Mary’s softly, admiring the glow of silver star light as it danced within them. He wanted to reach and hand up to her face, to touch such beauty, but tradition forbade him. He wanted to whisper to her, to tell her something, anything that would make the smile on her lips broaden. An angel stood before him, bound to him in satin, and all he could think about in the moment was how beautiful a sound it would be to hear her laugh.

    I am giddy. My heart leaps at itself, bounds over itself to beat again. I tremble because I have no strength of this. Misikal, give me strength. I do not know what affliction has come over me, but it must be of your domain. She is beauty, the Grace of the Light made flesh and blood. And I but a man, unworthy. He prayed, exhaling a breath he didn’t know he had been holding.

    “I accept you into my heart, and vow to forever hold you there,” Aedan spoke the traditional words of the vows in a soft voice, an effort made to maintain its strength and luster, though he felt very transparent, standing there before her. “From this moment, until the Light chooses to lift me from this mortal coil and give my soul to the heavens to shine down upon this world anew, I will forever cherish you. To you I give myself.”

    These words were repeated by Mary, and the passing of each sped quicker Aedan’s beating heart, until he thought it was going to burst out of his chest. Each syllable brought closer the moment of their joining, when they would be asked to kiss, and the ritual complete. Aedan let soften his eyes as the words stopped, and his hands touched upon her arms. Slowly - as though again time was bending around them, to slow the moments of purest joy, to make them last – Aedan’s lips brushed upon Mary’s. And as they kiss bound their souls, the ribbon was removed, and onto the fingers a symbol of the ribbon, a golden ring, was placed.

    • Love Love x 1
  14. Mary McKenna: Lady of the Evening StarTwo had become one, and half of her promise was at last fulfilled. Mary's skin prickled and her heart jolted as the tenderness of her new husband's lips pressed to hers. His beard tickled her chin and cheeks and it took all of her not to giggle, but a broad and beautiful smile was certainly appropriate, was it not? Their hands were laced together as man and wife turned to face the applauding audience, alight with celebration, and for a moment Mary allowed herself a breath of sweet relief. A small portion of her inner battle had already been won.

    The reception of their momentous and honorable union was an exceedingly lively affair, filled with light and laughter, music, dancing and exceptional northern cuisine. Mary could not find a single frown within the joyful crowds and was left happier for it. Mary danced with her handsome groom as well as her rather comical brother-in-law, the occasional noble lord, along with one of her own brothers, Alexander, who had traveled all the way from Seerstone to be with her on her wedding day. Mary had nearly wept at the sight of him, tall and smiling from ear to ear, arms open wide for a brotherly embrace. Once again, another little piece of home had been offered to her through the absence of such familiar delights. An evening spent in worry and anxiety was filled instead with sheer joy. It was this that solidified her belief that perhaps the gods were watching over her after all, and had listened to her veritable prayers.

    Gifts showered the newlywed couple like rain. Gowns and jewelry surrounded the new Viscountess in seemingly every direction, as well as herbs said to enhance fertility and little trinkets here and there meant to signify The Light's blessing. Books of poetry and northern folktales were among her many offerings as well as flowers from her homeland, the brightest of sorts. The Viscount himself was gifted with a beautiful sword crafted of steel and inscribed with ancient text, fresh fur cloaks, inscribed parchment and a wax seal carved anew to reflect his now-married status. Mary thanked those who gave and those who didn't with equal fervor and had their presents sent off to her new chambers, hoping she might sift through it all again when she arrived.

    However, when the moon was high and the guests exhausted after food, drink and dance, the bride was excused from the center hall. Surrounded by the same maids who tended to her earlier that day, including the bubbly brunette, she was ushered back to her temporary chambers while the castle began to empty itself of courtier and servant alike.

    The Day of Ardor, that's what it was called. From this moment onward, until moonrise the following evening, the Viscount and Viscountess would be tended and seen to by no one, to allow Misikal's work to spark and grow between them. The thought left her trembling as she began to undress. It did not go unnoticed by her friendly maid.

    "What's the matter, Your Grace?"

    "Your Grace," Mary repeated with a soft sigh. "I won't get used to that."

    "Best try. The title is usually only reserved for dukes, but all of us here call Lord McKenna by a more noble title. Something he deserves. Now that you're his wife, you get that title too. But why are you shaking, my lady?"

    "I'm...fearful," she spoke in a low voice, so the other women might not hear as they pulled at the laces on her gown and removed the beading from her hair. "For the Ardor. For tonight."

    "Fearful? Oh, nonsense. Lord McKenna is the gentlest man I've ever known. He will treat you well."

    "So I've heard." Mary wrung her hands. "I've also heard of the pain."

    "Yes, there is that. It's not that bad though. It fades and turns into something wonderful. But I promise he'll be soft with you. My husband was too. Still is, when we want to be." She gave a little wink. "Besides, there's nothing to fear, truly. You'll be the mother of his children! You can't be a mother without going through the Ardor."

    Mary sighed. "I know. I...yes. Yes, I know."

    "So, there's nothing to worry about! Think of the blessing of children. It's a lovely thing, the act of conceiving, even if you don't actually conceive. Trust me. You'll like it."

    The bride blushed. "How can you be so certain?"

    "I can't. But Lord McKenna's a very handsome man, lots of battle scars. I've tended some of them myself, you know. Why don't you just trust us all when we say he's gonna do alright by you? Would we lie to our Viscountess?"

    "...No. I suppose not."

    "Good. Now let's get you into this nightgown--made of lace, as he likes--and send you on your way, yeah? We'll be here in the morning to collect the sheets. Then you and the Viscount will have your Ardor and life will go on."

    "Thank you. Really," Mary replied with a soft smile. "For your words and your kindness. You've been so helpful, lady...?"

    "Freya, Your Grace. Not a lady, just a farmer's daughter and a doctor's wife. But you're kind for saying so." The maid gave a brilliant beam, removing diamonds from the girl's ears. "Now. Where on earth did I put that nightgown..."

    The walk from her old chambers to her new ones seemed infinite and undeniably painful. Her stomach twisted and turned and flipped in all manner of agonizing ways, leaving her nauseous and terrified, thrilled all at once. The breeze slipped around her legs as she walked in the rather airy gown she'd been given to wear for the evening, made of lace as Freya had suggested. Smooth pale legs and a flat, small belly could be seen through the fabric should one eye her close enough. The piece was flattering to her curvaceous and delicate form, though Mary still felt like a stranger in it and each step left her itching to change into something far less revealing. Blonde curls bounced about her as each step was taken, freshly brushed, healthy and sleek. She looked as desirable as any angel ought to be. But it doesn't matter what other man would desire me. Only him. Just him.

    Mary froze as she came upon the great wooden doors, knowing what would rest behind them. She bit her lip and folded her arms across her stomach, suddenly very self-conscious as to whether or not she would be all the king had promised. She reached for the door and rested her forehead against it, sending a hundred desperate prayers to a hundred different gods, and when she lifted her eyes she forced on the strength of falsehood, of a confidence she didn't possess. Mary pulled open the doors and closed them gently behind her, turning into the room with downcast eyes.

    "...my lord," she spoke in hesitant greeting towards the figure noticed in her peripherals. Mary gave a curtsy and nothing more, unsure of what to do.
    • Love Love x 1
  15. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    The ceremony completed and their lives joined by celestial rite. That was the easy part. She was his wife, and he her husband, and after the crowd dispersed, the celebration of their oaths taken from the confines of his hall and into the city once again, Aedan realized just how much work lie before him still. In name, before the Light, and in the eyes of King and country, they were married, tis true, but Aedan knew as well as the lady Mary that they were still strangers. Married as they were, and yet, as she comes into the room for the first time tonight, the sound of the door latching closed will be the mark of the first second in their lives that they’ve truly been alone together. Aedan thought of this, and little else, as he stood up from the chair, and laid his eyes on his bride.

    “You look beautiful,” Aedan spoke, and in truth it was his honest opinion. She was of such extraordinary beauty. She possessed a grace that turned envious the rose, and made sharp it’s thorns with jealously and envy. He wanted to smile, but felt it would be misleading. He wanted to do something to ease her tension in the moment, as it sat between them like a palpable mass, but what he had learned of this Mary Frey, this Mary McKenna, was that she was dedicated to her path, to the idea of being wife and mother. If he was to honor her and her choice, and it was far too late to back out now, his task would be to help her through this evening with as much tenderness and support as he could, not prolong it with humor and futile attempts to shatter tension with jovial whit.

    Aedan came to stand before his wife. The tunic he wore at the ceremony after the wedding having been removed prior to her arrival to the room, and the under shirt he wore was open at the neck, the laces hanging loose about his chest. He retained his black birches, but had taken liberty to replace boots with slippers. His hands, free of all jewelry but the wedding band newly placed on his left ring finger, reached out to touch gently, ever so slowly, upon the lady’s forearms, and his eyes held into hers, though she didn’t look straight at him.

    “Mary… call me Aedan, or husband,” he spoke, his voice was deep, soft, as though the mountains whispered in lullaby. A calloused hand reached to touch upon the lady’s face, gently caressing the soft curve of her cheek, while his eyes capture hers. They say that the eyes bear witness to the soul, and that if you stared through these portals long enough, you could see the very essence of a man. Aedan felt his eyes would be warm, deep pools of liquid emerald. He wouldn’t bring any attention to the nervousness, but wanted it to fade into memory, to be forgotten. Her anxiety was a product of the situation, of the natural hesitation of a woman to take her first lover, only made more potent by the fact that her first lover was but a stranger only the day before yesterday.

    And then the Viscount put his fingers under his lady’s chin, gently tilting her head up to telegraph the kiss he was about to steal. He leaned down to brush his lips against hers, a soft kiss as they had done before, before the whole of Caer Danalin, but this time it was different. Whereas before the kiss was a chaste public affair, a symbolic gesture to complete ceremony. This time his kiss was different. A thing of tender gentleness, a beginning, as he saw it, that she could become used to, before moving on. A second kiss would follow the first, causing his own chest to rise and fall in a quick and elevated fashion. It has been so long since he considered any form of intimacy with another. Even the kiss they’ve shared felt as though a forgotten part of life suddenly come back into reality. He couldn’t help the smile that rest on his lips as the second kiss died, and he looked into her eyes again.

    “You’ll have to forgive me, it’s been quite some time,” Aedan confessed, all the while he took a step back, returning his light touch to the arms, before slipping his hands down into hers. He gave a reassuring squeeze to her hands, as step after slow step crossed the threshold of the entry chamber of his bedroom, and carried them to the bed. Once he felt the bed against the back of his legs, he stopped, drew in a breath and touched a hand against Mary’s face. He leaned his head forward, but instead of pressing lips to hers this time, closed his eyes, and touched his forehead gently against hers, to increase their proximity, to allow his deep voice to soften as it left his lips. “We have all night my dear, you have but to ask and we can slow down,” He spoke, as he slowly turned her in her position, so that it was her legs touching against the high mattress of the bed, and Aedan’s hands slowly slipped from her fingertips.

    He collected the hem of her gown in between her fingers, and as though to draw her attention away from it, leaned in to kiss her for a third time. This time, the kiss deepened immediately. He felt the erratic beating of his heart grow faster still, as the smell of her body suddenly came into the forefront of his mind with the first taste of her tongue against his. He felt the heat of his blood rise, threatening to turn to a flame that would consume. He felt the life denied him fifteen years come surging back, memory of what it is to be with a woman, to belong to a woman, washing back over him. She was not the late Mrs McKenna, and to his mind, the memory of his wife was banished for the night, but he did recall how it felt to hold a woman in his arms and feel she belonged there.

    The kiss broke, and he lifted the gown, removing the garment as he slowly, gently leaned Mary back upon the fur lined blankets that made the surface of their marriage bed, and again his mouth claimed hers.

    • Love Love x 1
  16. Mary McKenna: Lady of the Evening Star
    WARNING: NSFW (open)
    Mary lay entirely exposed before the judgment of her husband, and whether or not he was pleased with her body's natural appearance, she was unsure. All she knew was the pressure of his body on hers as he lay atop her, gentle lips caressing with hers in the most delicate of dances. The taste of his tongue as it slipped between her teeth was nothing compared to the reaction it warranted, her entire body thrown violently into the fiercest pits of fire, burning alive under the desire such a subtle touch had sparked. Her hands lost any prematurely instilled sense of trepidation as they slid delicately up the brute strength of his chest, coming to rest on either side of his neck.

    You have but to ask and we can slow down, he'd said, and perhaps Mary would take him up on that generous offer, but for the moment she felt no need. Trapped in him, they lay together and kissed gently for what felt like an eternity, each meeting of the lips more irresistible than the last. Oh, how sweet he was, how aware of her frayed nerves and innocent mind. Mary trusted him more for it. Time may have passed since the Viscount--Aedan--had taken a woman into his bed, though it certainly showed that he knew what he was doing while Mary merely felt like a fish out of water. She followed his lead and expected nothing more, wanting only to fulfill her duty and hope he was pleased enough to take pride in his new wife's late-night company.

    That is, until he touched her. Mary's world exploded entirely shortly thereafter.

    A calloused thumb brushed along the peak of her breast, just once, and she shuddered unwillingly beneath him. Inhales became shaky and stuttered, eyes shut, and when he repeated the gesture once more a soft little moan broke free from her lips. She hadn't intended it to burst forth like it had, but she hadn't anticipated how helpless she would be to stop it either, consumed by nothing but a passion sparked by Misikal Herself. Mary's back lifted slightly as the sensation continued and she was lost, so very lost in the focus of his attention that she was left with nothing but desire and dread. Her heart swam through her chest like the wildest of oceans yet Aedan did not stop the contact, and she was forced to drown. Mary's eyes opened once more, glazed over with a fraction of the anxiety that had been there before as if his hands upon her breasts had give her some semblance of confidence. She hesitated before lifting her head from the furs ever so gently, hands still placed at his neck, her lips coming up to meet his in a kiss as light as a feather. Mary hummed into the reunion of their lips, little sounds of proof of the pleasure he was providing for her.

    She wondered for a moment if this feeling was why the singers sang so many songs of love.

    Delicate fingers slid down his skin, pulling upwards at his tunic though they trembled with nervousness. No longer did she fear he would hurt or abuse her, nor was she scared of his mannerisms or treatment, but the name "Mary Frey" had been whispered by a king as a promise. She was a performer, living up to the expectations of an audience embodied by a single man. A gentle man. Her husband continued to touch her, a rough hand gliding southward down her hip and Mary's eyes met his as their kiss was broken.

    Does he feel as I do? she thought, or is this comfort merely a figment of a virgin's imagination?
    • Love Love x 1
  17. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    NSFW (open)

    Aedan didn’t assist with the removal of his tunic, but didn’t prevent it. He was still, looking into her eyes as she pulled the garment over his head. He wondered, in the back of his mind, what it was that she had taken in first, the bulk of his muscles, corded and long, bulking over his frame in the way of a man’s body, or was it the scars. Festering raised scars from past wounds, any number of which could have, in the past, caused his undoing from fever or infection. One high on his chest, between heart and collarbone, several along his sides, all long more than wide. Their bodies were a stark contrast from one another. Her skin was flawless, soft and warm, whispering of delicate touches. Aedan’s was quite the opposite. He was marred by war, marked by the roughness and strength he had to possess to reach this stage in life.

    The Viscount didn’t let these thoughts hold, instead violently shoved them aside in his mind, as he dipped his head down, bringing lips again to the flesh of his new wife. Misikal taught that physical love is a manifestation of the emotional, that you cannot have one without the other and be truly happy with either. So the warmth of contentment that flooded through his heart, as his lips touched the soft, lush skin of her lips again was a manifestation of a budding affection? Is it proper to debate with oneself the nature of one’s feelings while making love? Aedan’s mind whispered, even as his calloused hand, spread large against her skin, caressed passed her hip, and slide along the narrow curve of her thigh.

    Tranquility and peace. It was astonishing how one could find both in a moment in life where his blood burned and the tides of passion threatened to sweep him away. Slowly, gently he kissed down her body from his lips place upon hers, touching the curve of her jaw, the crown of her collar, and down still, across the growing slope of her left breast. He breathed in deep breaths, pulling the heated air from atop her skin, drawing into himself the scent of her body, the floral essences of bath soaps and flower pedals mingled with the taste of the salt of her skin, and created a drug that proved to heighten the peak of the flames that burned within. He felt as though he could stay here forever, that the could spends the totality of the remainder of his life locked away in this room, worshiping this body in a method most carnal, most tender. A kiss of his lips to her skin again, as lips and tongue reached the elevated peek of her breast. His hand fell from her thigh, and with it free, Aedan began to remove the britches he wore.

    Aedan moved between her legs, bore his weight upon his knees for a moment, while placing his elbows on either side of the woman’s body, as though to rest himself over her. He was quite a bit bigger than she, so that when he leaned down onto his elbows, it was as though he could shelter her, push the world back and isolate her with nothing more than what he was. Again he kissed her, to force the beating of his heart back into the background of his thoughts, to gather himself internally, and quell the rising desire that screamed for another touch of her body to his. Emerald eyes looked down into hers as guided with his left hand, her legs to ay wide against the bed.

    He was gentle, careful not to force himself too fast. The pain that came he knew she’s feel for but a moment, and it best not to focus the mind on it. He kissed her forehead, and her lips as penetration occurred for that first time, until he figure it was best to simply allow her to react. She clung to his form, as though lost in a sea and he were the only source of stability, the only solid ground. And he craved the touch, the weight of her against him, the heat of her body, the strength of her arms. If she were lost in an ocean, Aedan was consumed by a flame. Passion, desire, need. It was torture, sweet, agonizing torture. Each second only prescribed the next, lest the flames of his blood consume him. He felt the resurrection of a part of him long dead, as though a phoenix reborn in the flames of his desire. He felt life return, spiced in blood that pumped from a rapidly beating heart. The torrent of his blood rushed through his ears, deafening him to everything around him, except the rhythm of her breath, and the low tones of her moan.

    The world around fell away, as though in that moment, annihilation occurred for every beyond the boundaries of the bed they rested upon. Nothing else mattered, nothing else existed. Creation, life… for the moment were simply tools created in order to achieve this pinnacle.

    • Love Love x 1
  18. Mary McKenna: Lady of the Evening Star
    WARNING: NSFW (open)
    Benevolent bliss smothered her soft body in nothing but sheer pleasure until the moment Aedan merged their flesh into one. Mary couldn't help but gasp in agony, untouched muscles trying to stretch and accommodate for such a penetrable invasion. She clung to her husband and bit her lip to fight back the need to beg him to stop, for she didn't want him to, not truly, not for anything. The pain would subside and turn into something better, wasn't that what she'd been told? But none of it seemed to matter now. She whimpered and buried her head into his neck, clenching her eyes shut as her body struggled to cope with the fiery discomfort tearing herself in two.

    Her reaction caused Aedan to pause a moment, drawing back so he might look her in the eyes. Such a beautiful face was contorted in agony but there was affection there too, even moreso now that their eyes had met. Trembling hands slipped into his hair and pulled him closer, lips brushing just barely against his as she whispered breathlessly in desperate desire, "Don't stop. Please, Aedan. Please..."

    How could any man refuse her? Her husband seemed to be further driven by her plea and obliged, taking it slow to ease her out of the suffering and in to the incredibly overwhelming intoxication. The first several thrusts brought pain, but it lessened to some dramatic degree each time, like chocolate melting over an even fire. The burning sensation remained, though inch by inch her body flooded over with pleasure that she hadn't expected to be so damn powerful. Strained gasps became little uncontrollable moans of desire that burst from her lips without summons or beckoning. Mary's grip on her husband's muscular shoulders laxed and moved for her, hands exploring all she could reach, feeling every scar and crack and crevice on his hardened chest and back. She even let out a little giggle as he pressed kisses to her neck, the hair on his face making for the sweetest of tickles.

    When his thrusts increased in speed and force, so too did her reactions. Mary's voice was pulled forth in the softest of moans like a telltale song, spurred further into ecstasy by the noises he made in return. His hold on her was gentle but strong, protective almost, hovered above her like an angel of mercy. The fear was almost entirely gone, strangled by a heart that cried out his name. She was too far gone to assemble coherent thought, but had she the capacity Mary would've considered just how precious a moment like this had become, how considerate and perfect he had been.

    Even if Aedan did not love her, they would always have solace in this.
    • Love Love x 1
  19. Aedan McKenna; Lord of the Evening Star
    Warning: NSFW (open)

    Every moment complicated the next. Every thrust of his hips into hers made the demand for the next that much greater, made the importance of the next, that much more. To deny the next would be the most egregious form of cruelty, like giving a man dying of thirst a sip of water, but denying him anymore. This was the nature of things. Each thrust only made the desire for the next that much stronger, the need that much greater. It grew in him until there was nothing more, until the need consumed everything. He forgot about sensitivity, about gentleness, about what it meant to lose himself in the moment. For a moment, stopping became impossible. The next thrust would come, it had to come. Need demanded it. It was beyond desire, beyond basic understanding. It was beyond the scope of a logical mind to express, for language was insufficient. It was intensity, it was absolute. For a moment, there was nothing beyond his need for her. Every sound she made spurred him on.

    Climax is a release. A buildup of tension, desire, wanton need, that suddenly and quite completely resolves itself with a sharp peek, and a rapid fall of pleasure. Aedan’s body tensed, turning rhythmic smooth thrusts into a chaotic drum beat of occasional attempts to resume, only to learn that the sensations were too great to allow for movement. A pop of his hips was all that occurred, followed by another, as though convulsions. He couldn’t suppress the groan, the sudden heaviness of his own body, as he lowered himself from the extent of his arms back to his elbows, still resting over Mary’s form. His mouth pressed against her forehead as the fluids of his seed transferred between them, drew his eyes closed with a deep, satisfied exhale as the expulsion subsided, and stillness settled on them.

    Aedan didn’t move, didn’t want to move. For along moment, he simply let himself be, reflecting on the emotions that remained after the blazing flames of passion receded. There was a bond that formed between lovers, something of the soul, of the heart, that he felt holding place within him. However he had felt about her before hand, it was impossible to deny that he found in her something precious. What they shared had been the ultimate in intimacy, and as open and true about oneself as he could imagine ever being. It was something that he had shared with none now living, something that he would share with none other than her. It was the restoration of a piece of himself that had long died, that he thought was barren, gone. She restored him, not by an act of sex, but by an act of truth. She opened herself to him in the most of intimate ways, and he had opened himself to her. The ceremony, the vows, marriage itself didn’t require such trust. Sex didn’t require such a connection.

    “Are you alright?” Aedan breathed his concern, pushing himself back far enough away from here that he could look onto her face. He had been concerned about being too rough with her, about how fragile and small she was compared to him, and how painful a virgin’s loss could be. He remembered the moment the pain came into play, how tense it had made him, and he wasn’t to endure it. His eyes checked her face, watched her features for a sign of a healthy color. He told himself that this was how it was going to be. Married. Concerned for her.

    “It is done,” He spoke, moving to lay his bulk against the mattress beside her, and perhaps for the very first time, wrapping his arms about her, simply to have her in them. Another press of his lips to her, this time into the mass of her hair, and he tightened his arms into an embrace. “Our vows are spoken, and our marriage consummated,” Aedan spoke, “You are the Viscountess McKenna. Misikal be praised.”

    • Love Love x 1
  20. Mary McKenna: Lady of the Evening StarI have been blessed indeed, to know tenderness such as this.

    His lips in her hair, his warmth encasing her entire frame, and the depth of his voice vibrating through his chest made Mary feel embedded into a part of him. They had been strangers merely a day before their union and now they were bonded by law and flesh, one heart, one unit, by Misikal's eternal blessing. Aedan pulled her to his chest and she willingly obliged to the contact, fitting against him like two jagged halves of a whole, like pieces of broken glass reuniting perfectly together as one. They would remain wrapped around each other for the rest of the night.

    I can hear his heartbeat, she thought with a little smile, listening to the soothing pounds of his strong heart in tandem with hers. I can hear his breathing and the deep rumbles of his voice. I can feel the heat of his skin, his lips in my hair, his hands tracing illegible shapes on my back. I feel everything that he is. I feel his soul.

    But most of all, I feel affection for him in such great quantities. I am at rest. Somehow, I have found that semblance of happiness already, or perhaps I am just as much a fool as others believe me to be. But did it matter? She was content and he seemed to be too, and none of her previous doubts had a fraction of weight any longer. Mary was happy. That in itself was worth more than any other gift she'd received that night.

    "Mmm," she agreed lazily to Aedan's blissful praise, nestling deeper into the strength of his hold. What sweet security is this? By the Gods, I've never felt safer. Mary placed a kiss to his chest and let the tip of her finger glide along one of his many scars, delicate as a feather, soft as a bird. He had so many. When morning came, she would ask him about them. Her head rested just over his heart when the need to relax was persistent once more, her muscles soothed to a stop. She allowed her eyes to close as tranquility overcame her, sighing contently as one with the man she was promised to. Somehow, she formed a reply. "I'm alright. More than alright, thank you for asking. I would explain it to you if I didn't suddenly feel the strong urge to drift to..." A cute little yawn escaped her lips. "Mmmmmm. Sleep."

    Exhaustion had entirely overwhelmed her. With a sore body and a full heart, Mary allowed herself to succumb to the world of dreams, where for once in such a short life her reality finally matched its splendor.
    • Love Love x 1
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