Once Upon a Wildflower

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    ...there lived a young king that ruled over a kingdom of light and life, of joy and music. The kingdom was named Everbright after the glow of the palace under a brilliant sun. It's people were hardworking and honest, filled with a happiness that was rare indeed in a world of trifling economies and crumbling governments. Everbright was the pinnacle of prosperous society and ever surrounding land yearned to be as fortunate as those who lived within pearled walls.

    But there was sorrow as well. Treachery and treason lies behind the back of King Richard, a kind, gentle and benevolent king oblivious to the evil workings of those he trusts. In his search of a bride to put his mother, the Queen Regent at rest in a comfortable retirement, the young monarch will discover the true meanings of deception laced with the gentle promises of true love.

    Our fairy tale begins as many do, with a troubled girl and a troubled king destined to cross paths.

    Information on Everbright, the characters, maps,
    and more can be found in this thread.
    #1 moffnat, Nov 25, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  2. Queen Regent Lucille of Everbright, purple All was quiet, all was silence. Those were the moments she enjoyed most of all. Sipping icewine from a golden goblet molded to her grip, the conniving queen kept a neutral gaze out toward tumbling mountains and fields of brilliant evergreen. Tall pines and rich firs reached up to the castle's magnitude, jealous of the heights it boasted, never able to come to the peak without the assistance of stone hills. So ambitious are the trees. So ambitious, too, am I. Lucille parted her lips to let a sigh pass through and stepped closer to the edge of the courtyard balcony, leaning lightly against the pearled masonry to observe the city below like a hawk spotting it's prey. The people cannot hope to reach as high as my trees, though. That much will remain utterly certain.

    Solaris rested upon the floor of the curve of the Golden Mountains, named so for the way the sun shines upon the rock, providing an ore-like glow that can be seen for miles in any direction. The city was no different. Though it was smothered in the shadow of the castle depending on the hour and the sun's position, it never ceased to glitter under God's immeasurable light. Solaris was a beautiful city named after an equally beautiful god, and where some would call it romantic poetry others would consider it a foolish notion. The gods have no place in the mortal world, she often thought. That's why they're gods. But for the Queen Regent to think such blasphemous thoughts about the pinnacle of Everbright's strength and dependency would reflect poorly on her royal son, and on herself, so she kept her opinions mostly private. While it was no secret she was absent of love for the gods or their cruel japes, it was best to remain neutrally silent on the matter. Destroying Richard's image would in turn destroy her own, and images were precious things after all.

    Precious things. Precious like the silence. Lucille closed her eyes and bathed in the privacy of being queen, in the little chances she could revel in her solitude and think on no one else's behaviors or sins aside from her own. Deep breaths of brisk mountain air filled her lungs and she was at peace, if only for a moment, a most prized moment among so many caught in the trap of running a kingdom.

    So distracted was she, that at the sound of her son's voice the queen nearly jumped out of her skin.

    "Mother!" came Richard's call from across the courtyard. "Mother, where have you been? I've been looking everywhere for you."

    "Gods, Richard," Lucille gasped. "You nearly frightened me out of my wits. Are you trying to send me to an early grave?"

    "Of course not. Apologies, mother." The king gave a light chuckle and half-embraced his regal mother, kissing her once on the cheek before pulling away. A most polite boy. Perhaps I raised him too well. "I'm going into town today. I thought I would say goodbye to you before a left. I might be gone until dinner."

    "Why?" The queen gave a subtle scoff. "You needn't bother yourself with that rabble. It's just a bunch of flowers." She sipped at her drink in indifference. "Festivals are nothing, flowers least of all."

    "Flowers that father loved." Richard frowned, and the queen could see she had offended her son. "I do this every year, mother. I can't stop now. The people expect it of me."

    Such a foolish child. Ever since her son was young, he always found little ways to put the people above himself in almost every manner and subject. "Make them more important than you, little one, and they will realize that you're expendable. That all of us are expendable." Naturally, he didn't listen. With each day that passed it remained clear to her that he never would. Lucille fought to keep her expression neutral as she turned to face the cascades of rock and tree once more. "Fine," she stated with disinterest. "Go on, I can't stop you. You're the king."

    "I am." The disappointment in his voice was ever apparent, but Lucille made no effort to turn and offer any apology. She listened to his heavy footfalls dissipate as they crossed the courtyard and exited through one of the many doors at the mouth of the great archways. There was no pity in her heart for naive men with wishes of happiness on unachievable scales, for peace that could never come to fruition in the realities of the world. Her son was a joy and a frustration simultaneously. Had the gods been just they would have provided Lucille with another son to replace the nuisance of a king with someone better, someone more worthy. But the people love him. In that, I am at a disadvantage. The love of the citizens of Everbright would be something she could never hold as dearly or in such ample quantity as did her young son. But it was not love she strived for. It was something much, much more than the idiotic notions of affection from peasants and farmers or nobles bathing in gold.

    Her eyes peered down to the cobbled roads below and watched with negative intent as the king and his small royal procession galloped towards Solaris. There was no strike of pain in her heart at the sadness her son shot in her direction, though she offered a small wave to see him off, one that he returned if for no other reason than he was a mother's son and she offered him peaceful leave.

    Lady Beatrice Potter: The Stepmother, olive "Girls!" came a high shout from the forefront of the room. "Girls, hurry up! We can't be late!" The Madame of the house folded her arms across her chest in a disgruntled manner, generally displeased as she always was, though this time the reason was justified. Her daughters had spent nearly half an hour too long preparing themselves for a meeting with the king. Their mother's patience was growing dangerously thin. "The gods could not have given me slower daughters. I should have been given donkeys instead of children, they would be more productive."

    "Coming, coming!" It had been said more than once, but this time the meaning was genuine. One by one, the two Oswald girls fumbled their way down the great staircase at the mouth of the Potter home, absent of the poise and grace their mother so craved for her trueborn daughters. The two spent a few minutes fussing over shoes and curls and silks and perfumes, adjusting necklaces and daydreaming of the king's gratitude for flowers they had nothing to do with. The buzz they created contrasted the general aura of mourning throughout the humble home.

    It was as if Harold Potter had never perished at all.

    "You both look so lovely," Beatrice cooed, toying with a curl on Victoria's shoulder and adjusting something on Genevieve's gown. "I could almost forgive you for how long you kept me waiting. Do you know that the longer we're here, the more likely we are to miss the king entirely and forfeit the winnings to some lesser florist?" She rolled her eyes and snatched a small bag from the wall meant to be filled with her most personal belongings necessary for travel to the capital city. "Get in the carriage. I'll have a few words with Marguerite before we leave." Victoria gave a snicker that suggested she was over her mother's scorn, and Genevieve only wore a frown. Lady Potter shooed them both away through the front of the cottage and watched them fight over who would get to sit next to the window, before they realized that there were two windows and they each could share. It would take half a day to travel from Yale to Solaris. So long as her daughters didn't fight, it would be a peaceful journey.

    "Stupid girls," Beatrice muttered. "All three of you."

    Marguerite's bright eyes watched the head of the house as she approached, folding her hands before her in a way that suggested both sternness and grace. The girl was a sad little thing, precious and beautiful and lacking in all the right places. She would never fit as a bride, never rise to be anything more than what she was now--a servant. "He was only your father," Beatrice told her. "It's not the end of the world. Get over it like we have and you'll be feeling better in no time."

    The widowed woman reached across to close the blinds, blocking Marguerite's view of the carriage and the excitement contained within it. You will not watch us leave, Beatrice thought maliciously. Think of your work and nothing more. "You know where we will be," she stated instead, realizing her thoughts might be a bit too cruel following the few weeks after Harold Potter's unexpected death. At least I have the conscience for that much. The girl should be thanking me. "Your step-sisters and I will be spending the night in Solaris tonight, for the festival and the celebrations. By the time we arrive home tomorrow morning I expect the floors swept, kitchens cleaned, beds made, tapestries shaken, dust dissolved, hedges trimmed and the dog bathed. Oh, and don't forget to assemble those bouquets for the Boudaire family, they'll be picking them up tonight around seven o'clock." She smiled humbly, a look that didn't befit her in the slightest and stroked Marguerite's porcelain cheek as gently as a mother should. "Focus on your work, darling. It will all be over soon enough."

    She left no room for Marguerite to reply. Lady Beatrice had retreated from the house before any other words could be spoken, and the sound of laughter and a horse's whinny were drowned out by sorrow from a servant's consuming grief.
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  3. Marguerite Potter, #e84a4a Despite the fact that Lady Beatrice had closed the curtains behind her, it did not diminish the simple noises of the carriage's retreat. The horses' hooves clapped against fresh mud from the night's rain before, and Marguerite could hear the thick slosh of muddy spray when the wheel hit a particularly rough patch of the road. It was easy to imagine the cries of disgust from her two stepsisters, even though they were safely hidden inside the carriage.

    There was only one decent road which led to Solaris, and connected to Yale on the opposite side. Beautiful mountains lined the landscape all the way down from Fogdell until the outer reaches of the main city. She considered herself lucky to be in such a spot, where the soil was fertile from the mountain runoff yet still flat enough to plow and till fields for rows of dainty blooms. There were other reasons she considered the spot to be fair, but, it was a secret she alone knew now that both her mother and father were gone. Rest in peace, father, mother.

    She found herself angry at the departure of her step family. Good riddance. It was her who supplied the precious flowers which supported their little family. Her and her father, she wanted to say, he had helped to give blessing to the most recent series of blooms with the help of a few more mythical friends. Now he was gone, and her stepmother didn't so much as bat an eye at his mysterious death. One day he'd been fit as a fiddle, even joked about being able to lift a horse in his old age. Harold Potter danced with his daughter, Marguerite, in the hidden meadow they both shared, and they'd had an excellent day overall. The next, he was coughing up blood with a fever higher than dragon fire. It wasn't right, but Marguerite wasn't one to assume there had been foul play. She had to accept that he was gone now, and no force of magic would bring him back to her. His laughter still echoed in her mind, fresh as the day at hand. Only, after each hour passed she could feel it grow hollow, and Marguerite was scared to forget the face of the man who had raised her.

    She gripped a garland in her hand. It was on her father had made for her only a short week ago. It was laced with small cream colored roses and accents of baby's breath. Thick weeds held it together in ties of stiff grasses. Nestled at the crown was one lone daisy. A few of the petals had fallen off since the day it had been crafted, overall the crown wilted in grief along with Marguerite's pain. It seemed to fade away with her own self, wounded at the loss of a noble man. The single daisy hardly matched the more sophisticated blend of flowers among the garland's wreath, but it was special in it's own way. Marguerite was named after that flower.

    The chores had been done before the girls even woke for their breakfast (already cooked of course). Marguerite had been up working before the sun, knowing that the festival was today. She knew that there was only a slight chance at being able to go into town after her father's passing, and yet, she'd placed even then too much hope in her stepmother that she would allow the young girl to travel with them. Even if she was the famous Potter's daughter, it mattered little in the eyes of Lady Beatrice. In the end, she was left behind to do the chores which had already been completed, but the day was not wasted, there was still plenty to do.

    Marguerite waited a half an hour after her step family had walked out the door before going for her own boots. She had dressed more formally in the hopes she'd been allowed to come with. The large hooped noble's gown was something of her mother's. It was a gift for her sixteenth birthday when she had come of age. Her father gave it to her, in a time where Lady Beatrice wasn't hardly a thought and it was just Harold and Marguerite. To see something so precious near ten years after her mother's passing brought tears to her eyes. She hid the dress from her stepsisters, fearing that they would take shears to it in jealousy, and only donned it beneath a thick cloak of green velvet. Only when she was sure the other women were far from their cottage did Marguerite make a dash for their stables. Her tall mare was waiting for her, she had a shining coat of chocolate brown, and had been with her for as long as the young maiden could remember. Her days were numbered now, but the mare was still just as reliable as any.

    The ride would be short. Marguerite hadn't gone to the hidden meadow since her father's passing, and her friends there were bound to ask questions as to his location. There'd be no happy tales, even sad ones of being bound to bed in sickness. No. Harold was gone, the only reputation he'd left was his daughter, she would hold the secrets of the famed Potter Flower shop for years to come, until she too passed away with children of her own. Even that brought no comfort to her mind.

    She set the garland weakly on her soft waves of blonde hair, one last time she could feel the hands which crafted the simple wreath. The soiled and dirty hands of a florist, the hands of a Potter, the florist, a husband and a father. Marguerite tipped the garland gently back on her head and the daisy fell off into her hair.

    Queen Rosina of the Hidden Meadow, #39803f "Where could they be?" The little faerie asked aloud. There was a murmur around her, answers from other of her troop which could only suggest the worst.

    "Perhaps she has been captured?" Humans cannot be captured like we can!
    "She is sick!" If one of the humans were sick, the other would surely come!
    "What of the man?" This concerns me more, the man is always so sure to come!

    The buzz of the faeries chattered on like bees coaxing honey into the combs of their hives. They talked as they worked, breathlessly floating in the hidden fields beyond Yale in a flurry of clear cut wings. Against the light of the sun they glittered among the grass and flowers which had yet to bloom. Deep reds accompanied the soft pinks, the pale yellows and golds of the endless fields of roses, chrysanthemums, tulips, wildflowers, so many it had made the man's head spin the first time he can. Rosina remembered! Even as they spoke they fluttered from flower to flower and pressed their little hands to the soft elegant petals of roses and tulips.

    "Rosina, what shall we do?" A young faerie asked. She was no taller than three inches, born of a simple thistle just the previous year. Roslin leaned down to pat her head.

    "We shall continue to wait. We have many years to do so, little flower, and the humans do not have so many." Rosina pulled a stray weed from the back of the faeries head. She'd hardly noticed that it was there at all, and the young thing blushed to have her mother help her so. "Perhaps they shall come today, perhaps someone new will find us. Whatever happens my little flower, we have time to wait."

    "Yes, Rosina." The young thing giggled before fluttering off with her hands clasped together in a common blessing. "I will pray for their return."

    When faeries wanted to bless an object, they only needed to press their hands together. Solaris, Lunaris, or Terris would know that they needed something. It was a begging action the faeries had long been accustomed to, but not something to be seen as belittling. Never. When a faerie prayed, they did so for good reason. It was why Rosina began to frown. Prayer was an action for later, an action for desperation like a child asking for something in shame. The Queen knew they would return in the scheme of things as they always did, for it was not the first absence, but it was different then the last time.

    Two years ago, the girl had stopped coming. She was ill, and this explained her absence. The male continued to come, however, to take flowers from their place and sell in the square. It was their agreement, so long as he never revealed their location. In years even before that, the man had not come, but the girl had. There was another woman before her, and many families in the past. This new absence was wrong. Someone always came, there was always a voice that called from the entrance to the meadow, announcing their presence to the faeries before scaring them off. Always.

    Where are they?
    #3 Lillian Gray, Nov 26, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
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  4. Victoria Oswald: Stepsister, #f2a0d1 The city of Solaris was a welcome change. There were no farmers or peasants, no dirt roads or little cottages tucked away in the unnecessary shadows of forest growth. This was the home she was meant for, the one that suited her perfectly. And it will be mine someday. It was the only thing that pulled her through trying times in such a disgusting farm town, when there was nothing but fantasy or promises of social revival that gave her something to live for. Her mother had promised that soon they could afford to send her to Norberry to continue her education and hopefully find her a noble match, but Victoria was far from patient and held a demand to anyone and everyone who crossed her path. She held no sympathy for the poor, no mercy for those who dared to test her patience. Yes, she thought in her misguided manner. Solaris will suit me just fine someday.

    The bustle of passing wagons and groups of botanists from across the lands filled the plaza at the Court of Miracles. Everywhere she looked, flowers of brilliant hues and scents and size lined booths of intricate make and model. Banners were strewn between the buildings and excited chatter among flower growers and sellers alike buzzed through the square-shaped pavillion. In truth, Victoria would rather chew sand than have to suffer through this meeting of paupers and fools, but there was one little trinket that would make the day well worth the effort. A chance to see the king. It did not go unknown that King Richard was looking for a bride. Victoria, among all her ambitions and dreams of making her life grander than it was, had convinced herself that she would be the perfect queen for Everbright. Her mother endorsed the idea as well, and as they took their places at the booth that had been set for them by various employees of Potter's Floral, they exchanged a glance of understanding.

    Today, we make our move.

    The king's herald marched forth into the square and sounded the golden trumpet, calling everyone in attendance to attention. "Lords and ladies of Everbright!" he shouted with a voice so loud, Victoria had no doubt that one could him from the other side of the Silverbay. "I hereby announce the presence of our good King Richard on this fine and beautiful spring morning. May the festival of flowers commence!"

    Roaring crowds let their cheers escalate, no doubt signaling the king's entrance to the Court. Victoria kept her back straight and her wit straighter, prepared for any potential conversations she might hold with the man who symbolized the key to her ambition. He strode forward, surrounded by three guards and a great brute of a woman at his right side who was neither feminine nor beautiful. Lady Anaria. What a cow. The king waved to those who greeted him and smiled at each face he met, a vision of integrity and mercy among a monarch as Victoria had ever seen. He must be a strong man, she thought hopefully. Strong and intelligent, and filled with resolve. He must be easy to control. She could feel her heart beating faster at the thought.

    She kept her eyes fixed on him as he passed from booth to booth, chatting amiably with the different botanists and making comments on how beautiful everyone's flowers were this year compared to the last. He is too nice. He should simply crown me the winner and be done with it. Victoria looked at her nails and examined them for any flaws, letting the attempted conversations of her sister fly directly over her head until the handsome figure of the king strode up to their booth.

    "Ah, my favorite flowersellers," came his cheery chuckle as the three women bowed to the king. "As beautiful as always, I see." He took a chrysanthemum in his hands and breathed in the fresh scent, chuckling at fond memories. "Where is your husband, my lady? And his daughter?"

    "His daughter?" The questions had come so suddenly and quickly that it was plain to see the woman had been offended. She hesitated a moment, and Victoria watched her with interest until her mouth opened again. "Daughter? No, you mean his little niece, yes. She has long since been shipped off back to her home in Heriett, Your Majesty. She will not be coming back."

    "Heriett?" The king frowned. "That is no place for a lady."

    "Then 'tis a good thing she was no lady, sire." Genevieve gave a little gasp from behind, and Victoria could only once again marvel at her mother's quick wit and sharp tongue. This will surely lead him to me now, she thought, wondering why he had seemed so agonized at the thought of the girl being sent away. Marguerite isn't worth anything anyway. The king, who seemed completely disappointed and beside himself, gave a little sigh of frustration. "And your husband?"

    "Dead, I'm afraid. Fell ill a few weeks back."

    "You do not dress in mourning."

    "He was always one to prize color and light and life over darkness and sadness, Your Grace. If my clothing offends you--"

    "Please." King Richard held up and hand to politely silence her. "I apologize for my rudeness. My condolences and my sorrows are with you. I will light a candle in the church for your dearly departed husband. He was a kind man, good at his job. He will be missed by many."

    Not by me. Marguerite knew better than to allow her selfish thoughts to show, however, and instead used the window of opportunity to bring forth a spark of conversation. "He was a wonderful man. Your speaking highly of him will no doubt reach his ears in heaven, Your Grace. It warms my heart to know our king is so benevolent."

    The king looked at her a moment as if examining a puzzle for the final piece, as a work of art with something missing, but Victoria tried not to take it personally. "I am glad to be remembered fondly by my people," he stated in response. "You are?"

    "Victoria Oswald, Your Majesty. Daughter of James Oswald, the greatest jeweler in Mallowmarble."

    "Mallowmarble," he repeated. "Quite a long distance away. It was a pleasure to meet you, Lady Vicotria and family, but I fear the rest of the festival needs draw my attention away. Again, I offer my sincerest condolences to you all."

    "They are most graciously accepted." Victoria offered a low bow, one that he watched with intent as she noticed, and when he stepped away she could only feel pride in her deceiving work.

    Oh, this will be easier than I thought.
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  5. Queen Rosina of the Hidden Meadow, #39803f The sun rose high into the sky, their father Solaris rained down his rays of light in order to bring even the sleepiest faeries to a regular state of alertness. He coaxed and lulled them away from the sweet dreams of his lover in order to bring them to work. They stretched their little arms, no bigger than the stem of the flowers they tended to, raising them up in praise to the entity which bore them. Rosina darted to and from little coves and pods made of leaves and petals of thicker flowers. Tulip doors hid the resting ones, and the Queen made sure to peel back the velvet purple layers to make sure that Solaris found his way to them.

    "Wake up now, it's time to rise." She cooed.

    The younger faeries were the hardest to wake. They were not yet used to the light of Solaris, more familiar with the grounds of Terris and the midnight cycles of Lunaris. From the moment even small Rosina was but a seed in the earth, she'd learned to appreciate both sun and moon. In the day, Lunaris made sure to keep his distance so as not to scorch the fields of flowers, but stayed ever so close to keep life growing. At night, he gave the world a rest so that they might relax from his heat, and Lunaris would see to it that a growing dew wet the soil and leaves of the rows and rows of blooms. All the while they continued their dance after one another, lover reaching for the other in a constant cycle of day and night.

    It was a peaceful existence, so long as they stayed far from humans. Marguerite was the exception, and her father before her. They never harmed the creatures, and never once told a soul where the hidden fields were. The harmonious synchronization left both parties at an advantage. In exchange for precious flowers which bore them titles, the faeries only asked they not tell the secret of where they dwelled. Titles meant nothing to a race in which all were considered equals. The humans did the faeries one better, and brought them modern technologies they were unable to build. They brought glass jars for holding water, and baskets for keeping seeds and flowers. The faeries rather liked the Potter family.

    It was hours after the first peek of the sun that the commotion began. The happy cries of the youngest crowd burst towards the entrance of the hidden meadow, still unknowing about the realm which was beyond. To them, the crack in the rock was still the end of the world on one end. It signified nothingness beyond, simply a tear in the wall which held them. A shy head of hair poked through, wearing a whethered wreath of roses and baby's breath. Adorned on the center was a simple daisy, and they all knew what that meant. There was only one girl who favored the flower in such a way.

    "Marguerite!" The little ones cried.

    They flew closer to the edge before the wiser elders came to pull them from the wall. It was all in actions too quick to be recognized by the lone human, their wings a hurried glitter of sun against wing. Only Marguerite was allowed to venture so close to the edge of the world without fear of never returning. She was larger, stronger, and didn't need to worry about being crushed into dust and blown away with the wind. The elders always made sure they never lost their young to the crack.

    "Marguerite has returned?" Rosina poked her head away from the carnation she'd been pampering. "What of her father, where is your father? Marguerite! It's you!"

    By the time the Queen had finished talking she'd flown up into Marguerite's face to give a peck of affection on her nose before moving to grab hold of a piece of her blonde hair. The fiery temper returned now that Marguerite was actually present inside the meadow. Now that she was there, it was alright to be furious at her absence. Rosina tugged harshly, or as hard as she could, in order to express her frustration at the girl's absence.

    "Why hadn't you returned sooner, my children started to believe that you had been crushed, or worse, captured in some way! I tried to explain that humans do not become captives so easily, but they persisted. Some believe you had perished!"

    At this, Marguerite lowered her head, Rosina fell a few inches in the air with the grip on her hair loosened. The girl looked sad, and hadn't said a word of hello so far. Rosina flew down beneath her chin and placed two petite hands on the human's skin in an attempt to lift her face, and perhaps her spirits. Something was wrong, it was clear in her eyes, but she had asked the wrong questions. It wasn't where she'd been or what had happen, but who had not come.

    "As you can see, I am here." Marguerite whispered. Tears began to well up in the corner of her eyes, and Rosina tapped her slight hand against her chin to get the girl's attention.

    "Where is your father?"

    Marguerite Potter, #e84a4a Marguerite never had the time to properly mourn for her father, but in the safety of the hidden meadow she'd grown to love, with her father no less, even the birds outside could feel her pain through the cries that echoed in the mountains around them. The gentle nature of the faeries didn't allow them to feel such grief, and none could comprehend why the girl was so miserable. She shook, waves of sickness overcame her as the mourning came and passed. They buzzed around her frame with confused thoughts, and tried to bring her flowers to make her cheery again. Rosina did what she could to comfort the young lady but it was little besides a flower in her hair or an extra braid to add. By the time her wailing had ceased, Marguerite was covered head to toe with different kinds of flowers, wild and noble alike.

    Some tried to take her crown off her head, and Marguerite refused to let it go. To the faeries, it needed mending, because the flowers had wilted and were in dire need of rejuvination. She gripped the dying leaves with a determined need to keep some part of her father with her. The others didn't understand. Faeries hardly died, and even when they did, they were often reborn into one last bloom. Such blossoms were to be celebrated, and never removed until they finally withered in the coming year. To see flowers being kept from wilting made them wistful, but they stopped trying to take the crown away. No faerie could mourn another's passing, because it was a beautiful event.

    Blood and pain was not beautiful. Marguerite watched in agony as her father spit forth the last bits of his life along with his lungs. He'd gripped her hand, as she gripped her wreath, so eager to stay alive but with only enough energy to hang on to one last thing. Harold had chosen, he held on to Marguerite until her hands were white with pain, and then he slipped away. Of all the things he had to hold onto it was his daughter, and she hated that. He could've gripped harder to life, and he chose death, and for that she had to be angry.

    Being angry will not bring him back, these tears will never reach him. All I can do is pray Lunaris will keep him safe until one day I join him, and mother, and all my family before me.

    "Maggie?" A tiny voice made its way to her ears, and she lifted her head for the first time in hours. She'd knelt on the ground and pressed her hands together hard in prayer. There was a group of faeries sitting in a circle at her knees. They didn't understand her pain, but they could feel it in their hearts. Their wings vibrated slowly, humming songs in the wind in an effort to try and pray along with the human.

    "Yes?" Marguerite turned to find Rosina at her ear, hair pulled up into the air so her small voice would meet with the girl. "Is it time for me to leave?"

    Rosina shook her head, then paused, and started to nod. "For a different reason than you think. I wish to pray with you, where is your father now? Where is his bloom?" Rosina didn't know any better, humans were a curious thing she hadn't the time to experience tucked away from the rest of the world. To her, they still wilted before being born again into a beautiful flower. It was a romantic notion that Marguerite wished were true. If her father were to be reborn, she was sure he'd be something noble, like an orchid or a rose with deep hues of red. It would have been fitting of the noble man he was.

    "Humans do not wilt, they do not bloom either." Marguerite sighed. "It is a beautiful notion, but humans, when we die our bodies decay until nothing is left."

    "You still nurture the soil, do you not?" Rosina asked. "I would like to visit the place where he has last been, I wish to plant a seed for him there, so you may smile instead. Death is not the end, Marguerite. I promise."

    Marguerite shook her head. "You can't go beyond the walls, what if someone sees you?"

    "Your father was kind to us all, and I will never see him again." Rosina frowned, the tell tale red of anger appeared on her cheeks. She pushed away the irritability with a small huff of air. "Please take me. I know I will return if I am with you."

    "I cannot lose anyone else, Rosina." Marguerite explained. "I will not take you with."

    "I'm still coming." Rosina's face illuminated a bright red, and that was the end of that.

    Marguerite said her farewells to the other faeries, and they showered her in endless petals on her exit, just up until the crack in the mountains. The human lead the way, her horse on the other side neighed in protest after being stuck too long against the same pond. Her irritation was soothed with Marguerite's hand against her mane. Rosina fluttered very close to the human out of fear and promise. She wouldn't fly too far away, but she still wanted to see the world. Marguerite plucked the fairy from the air and pressed her up into the hood around her face.

    "Stay there, I don't want anyone seeing you." Marguerite hissed. She mounted the horse, and returned to the main road. The faster she arrived, the better.

    Lady Beatrice would still be back in the morning.
    #5 Lillian Gray, Nov 29, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  6. Lady Anaria of Lorienne, green It was exhausting work, being king. So many delicate little problems needed tending to, so many events that required his presence as was custom for Everbright's people. It took a strong man to bear the weights of a crown and an even stronger one to bear them alone. His mother took care of what she could throughout the kingdom, but the Queen Regent had far fewer powers than a bonafide queen and such a simple fact wore terribly on the young King Richard. He loved his people and would do anything in his power to see them happy and secure. Though, in the long haul, his own joy suffered immensely and it was becoming slowly more visible as the long years passed. His subjects took notice, the knights in his guard remained alert to the king's suffering, and Lady Anaria inparticular tried to offer cheery news and positive outcomes in various affairs of state to lift the king's dreary mood. In the end, there was only one solution--tending to his people. The more King Richard surrounded himself with the giddy citizens of Everbright the happier he became on infinite proportions, and when they were gone he was left once more with all his internal sorrows.

    Long ago, it had been so simple to keep a grin on the king's face. Not even a flower festival could stop the gloom anymore.

    Anaria kept a close watch on her young king as he passed from booth to booth, shaking hands with various botanists and praising them for their craft, and while the smiles and laughter seemed genuine the lady knight knew Richard better than to fall for the act. The men and women he spoke with were eternally grateful for the opportunity to speak with their king, however. She could see their little faces brightening up exponentially with the honor of directly addressing their benevolent monarch. That alone would make the day's troubles worth every little agony in Richard's mind. Anaria was certain of that much. They completed their rounds of all the flower festival participants and returned to the center booth where the king would make his decision. A small table in the center was surrounded by knights in his service in a circular formation, with a crown of flowers resting in the center. Anaria looked to the object and then to her king. "Who will you crown, Majesty?"

    "It's obvious, isn't it?" He gave a sad scoff. "I can't believe Harold Potter is dead. He was far to young to be gone from this world, Anaria. He still had a life to live, daughters to take care of...and that news about his niece going to Heriett, all of it is troubling. I feel obligated to crown his mourning wife and daughters."

    "They didn't seem like they were very deep in mourning, sire."

    "No. They didn't." He gave a heavy sigh. "Still, it feels right. To do this for him, for his niece. The decision is made."

    "As you say." Anaria reached forward past the arms of the knights and picked up the delicate crown. "Shall I do it for you, sire? You seem as though the mountains will be your medicine today."

    "After this." He frowned, gently taking the flowers from his most trusted knight and sadly admiring their brilliance. "It would be disrespectful of me not to crown them myself."

    "Of course, Your Grace." Anaria peeled back the curtains for the king and watched his expression change as he exited, once more putting on the mask of joy for the precious people of Solaris.

    Victoria Oswald: Stepsister, #f2a0d1 It was long-awaited moment throughout thick crowds of paupers and peasants claiming botany to be an artform. Victoria would rather have none of it. She rolled her eyes at the incessant blabbing of various degrees to angle a flower for the best aesthetic view, where to find the greatest fertilizer for tending, where to plant the most fertile fields; none of it mattered to her and she would rather go to each and every person and tape their mouths shut than sit in their booth and listen to it any longer. The distress was starting to show on her face and she sat on a crate of apples, crossing her arms and tapping her feet along the cobble road.

    "Where is the king?" she demanded. "I want to see him again. I want him to crown me and then this waste of a day will be worth it."

    "Hush your mouth!" her mother snapped, flicking the girl's rude mouth with hard 'pop'. "Speak no more about it, you ungrateful little swine." Victoria recoiled from her mother's harsh words and the stinging pain of the tap, but deep within she knew it was falsified. She could see it in her mother's eyes. Wait, they seemed to tell her. Don't act out in public or your image will be squandered. Be patient. Let me do the talking.

    Patience was never one of Victoria's strong suits.

    It wasn't long before the king emerged from the tent at long last, gallant and regal and everything the eldest daughter craved. Cheers erupted in his wake as he ascended the steps to the podium in front of the fountain at the center of the Court of Miracles, and King Richard smiled toward those who had come to see him briefly before he raised his hand to silence them. "My friends," he said with a gentle smile. "Today, you have come here from far and wide to bring the flowers of your labor to my attention. For this I am most grateful. Please give yourselves a much-deserved round of applause." Those in the crowd did as their king commanded with appreciative grins, and Victoria slow-clapped and eye-rolled her way through the shortlived ordeal. "Very good," the king continued. "Last year, the winners of the flower festival were the esteemed Crowder family out of Hillfields, which makes them exempt from winning this year as well. Reaching the decision of who to crown as this year's winner was a painfully easy choice, however." The king seemed to pause, then. The silence lasted to such a degree that the crowd began to murmur lowly in concern for their monarch. Finally, he spoke. "It has been brought to my attention that Harold Potter has been swept away on Lunaris's wings less than a fortnight past. It is because of this that I crown him the winner of today's flower festival so that his spirit might smile down upon us all, and he may be brought further into a peaceful rest."

    Victoria broke out into a little smile despite the gasps and shocks of grief that rippled through the crowd. She had never seen her step-father as a very important person, but the effect his death had upon the crowd of botanists and farmers alike astounded her greatly. It made no matter. She picked up her skirts and strode proudly forward through the crowd toward the center of the square, just as her mother had suggested, and smiled as the king descended the steps to approach her. "Forgive my smiles, Your Majesty. I am simply overjoyed that you would honor my step-father so." She gave a low bow and anticipated the look she would give him when the crown of flowers was placed atop her head.

    Instead, he spoke. "You may rise." Victoria glanced up at him incredously, almost offended, only to have the king place the crown of flowers in her open hands. "Please, place this crown atop your step-father's grave, or send it to your cousin, it matters not which."

    "O-Of course--"

    "Good. I hereby claim this wonderful festival at an end." In a flurry of a violet cape and thunderous applause, Victoria was left with less than half of what she out for and no short supply of impending, jealous rage.

    King Richard I of Everbright, #00a2c7 "I'll cover for you, Your Grace."

    "Thank you." Richard shook the hand of his fiercest protector and gave her a smile only she was allowed to see, offering her his crown to return to the castle. 'Covering' didn't exactly mean what it might in the face of battle or amidst a high-speed chase; it simply meant that Anaria would speak to the Queen Regent about the King's absence and suffer any repercussions that might occur. His mother was never fond of him exploring the Golden Mountains even as a boy. She liked it less so now that he was king and had infinite responsibilities placed atop his royal head. Richard had tried endlessly to gain his mother's support, explaining that without some time to reflect and be alone he might crumble under the weight of all his duties.

    But it mattered not. He was king, and kings could do as they pleased.

    Richard mounted his favorite black stallion, waving to the crowds that so yearned to catch a glimpse of their ruler. He maneuvered his horse through the thrums of people until he reached the outer gates of Solaris, passing through without a second thought. The journey up the eastern mountain was a treacherous one when unprepared for the lack of predictability in the wild, but Richard had yet to be harmed so far from home. The rush of adrenaline was one he secretly craved and laying among nature gave him more clarity than a thousand words from wise men. I am at home in the wilderness, he thought, drawing in a breath of fresh spring air and letting it fill his lungs with peace. A king must know his lands and his people to rule it properly, and I have been blessed to know both with great care.

    The two ascended rocky hills and dirt paths to the summit that crested against the collection of various other mountains, making the Golden Ranges one. He climbed out of the saddle and landed firmly on his feet, stroking the stallion's mane before letting him graze on emerald grass. The king removed his gloves and sat in the center of the small field, resting his arms lazily around one knee while the other lay outstretched. He sat there for several minutes enjoying the tranquility and purity of the forest atmosphere, feeling his spirit rejuvenate despite the despair that plagued him constantly.

    A twig snapped behind him. Richard was thrust into a state of alarm, pushing himself to his feet with a hand resting dangerously on the hilt of his sword.

    "Who goes there?" he shouted in intimidation. "Show yourself or be mercy to the king's judgment."
    #6 moffnat, Dec 1, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
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  7. Queen Rosina of the Hidden Meadow, #39803f "I don't like this place, Maggie." Rosina cowered deep inside the evergreen hood of Marguerite's cloak. She left it pulled up around her hair so that no one might see the faerie hovering near her neck. "Something is wrong, it feels..heavy."

    "Heavy?" Marguerite's eyes raised in question at the faerie in her hood. "How so? These are the mountains, the air is very fresh here. The fields down there, they provide us all with food, work well for trade. Perhaps it's too open for you, my little Queen."

    Marguerite reached up and petted the little thing with a single hand, usually a welcome touch by Rosina, but today it was unwanted. The faerie pushed her hand away and fluttered out to examine the ground for herself. Horrified, she withdrew once she saw a single blue rose. It glittered in the light of the sun no matter which angle it was in, drops of dew hung from every leafy thistle and thorn. Marvelous. It's beautiful. Marguerite wouldn't have thought anything of the simple bloom had her friend not been in so much fear.

    "That's my little rose!" Rosina screeched. "My little rose girl, she was only born this spring, and she had gone out, no, no!"

    "What are you talking about? The faeries never leave!" Marguerite gasped in disbelief. "Surely you're mistaken-"

    She understood what it meant when a faerie died, yes. They turned into a spectacular flower, the one they were born of most likely. Rosina, when she died, would bless the soil and bring forth red roses, just the same as the very flower she was born of. To see a blue rose was a rare sight, Marguerite even remembered the little Queen speaking of the new faerie in their ranks, only she never had the opportunity to meet the little thing. Now, she never would.

    "She was so young, so young." Rosina pressed her tiny hands up against her face in mourning as Marguerite had done all morning. It was a rare sight to see such a creature cry, and Marguerite didn't know what to do. She placed her finger gently along the Queen's hair and hoped that would do. "I pray that Terris will take her kindly from us." Even in prayer, her little sobs made Marguerite feel horrible.

    Still, it didn't make much sense. I do not understand, how did this happen?

    I don't know.

    As they rode on, the intense feeling of dread rose high in Rosina's body. There were more flowers on the side of the road, young faeries who had yet to see the first glimmer of their wings. It was horrifying. Rosina didn't know how to respond and stayed quiet for the most part, hidden in the hood of Marguerite's cloak. It seemed the right place to be, far from the signs of death at edge of their path.

    What has happened? This land is filled with horror.

    Marguerite Potter, #e84a4a They rode in silence for some time, the only noise being the clap of the horse's hooves against the gritty mountain path. Rosina was so close to Marguerite's ear she could hear each small prayer with every flower they passed, as well as the small adornments made of leaves and petals scraping against her. Her soft spoken words mingled with the hard edge of a rose's thorn. Marguerite did her best to politely brush the small faerie's wreath away from the skin of her neck to spare herself the scratch.

    She had to wonder, how often did she pass the marked graves without realizing what they were? There was an astonishing amount to behold, far more than Marguerite would have picked up on without Rosina's help. Beautiful gravestones which marked the way to the hidden meadow, they were more scarce as the road faded into the main road to Solaris. Even in death the faeries still knew how best to take care of the earth, with their lasting blooms and careful ways of fertilizing the soil for the last time.

    "Did you want to stop?" Marguerite asked Rosina. She could feel the nod of her head from the thorns on her crown. "Shall we say a prayer for them?" Another nod of her thorny crown.

    Marguerite pulled off the road and leaped down from the horse, a rather thick branched snapped beneath her worn riding boots. "Ow..." She grumbled at the slight throbbing in her ankle, but paid it no mind once she heard a voice call out from nearby. She froze. It wasn't routine for her to run into anyone else on her way to the mountain pass, and on such an oddly placed road, the stranger was all the more wary of her passing.

    "Who goes there? Show yourself or be mercy to the king's judgment."

    "Stay away!" Rosina screeched. There was a circle of flowers at MArguerite's feet and she could only assume them to be the remains of her fallen troop. It was the source of her anger, not the presence of the male before them. Marguerite held a finger to her lips in motion to be quiet, but the little faerie was on high alert now.

    "Shh, my little Queen, stay hidden." Marguerite ushered the fiery little thing back into her hood for the umpteenth time that ride. Now she was angry about having to hide from the obvious threat, her face puffed up red behind light layers of golden hair, giving way to a slight glow because of it.

    Marguerite scanned her surroundings and was surprised to find the rich purples waves of a nobleman's cloak not far from where she stopped. It was easy enough to spot the man, perched near the ground without so much as a pack on the back of his saddle. Is he lost? Marguerite wondered.

    "I mean you no trouble." Marguerite announced from behind him. "I am a simple traveler, please do not be alarmed."

    The girl stepped out and around the only tree separating them, a thick maple with no real place among the tall evergreens, thick with their new grown needles. Winter had long wore them down only for Spring to rile them up again. The air was thick with pine, and Rosina still felt it too heavy, but Marguerite enjoyed the scent. She inhaled quietly, taking in the forest around her as she always did with her father on their excursions outside.

    Father. You're not here to protect me.

    She was far too naive, standing their like a fool in the open during the hunt, a possible predator at her very feet. Marguerite held her hands in defense, the man's were on his sword and it was alarmingly too close. She lowered her eyes and tried to divert her gaze, but she found it difficult. The man before her had deep blue eyes and thick brown hair that waved softly around his brow. He was handsome, surely of noble status. Marguerite brushed aside a lock of her hair in an attempt to get a better view of the noble, but, it was still difficult to stare without being so rude. Knowing what family was the difficult part, and it was not for her to say what his business was so far from the main road.

    "Are you lost?"
    #7 Lillian Gray, Dec 1, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  8. King Richard I of Everbright, #00a2c7 A woman?

    At the welcomed sight of the young lady poking out from behind a great maple tree, Richard immediately let go of the hilt of his gilded sword and stood shocked. He felt a swarm of regret wash over him completely at the notion of threatening a young maid, especially one as beautiful as the girl standing beside the weeping maple. Her hair was golden and her skin like snow, lips pink like carnations and a voice as soft and gentle as Lunaris herself. He was dumbstruck, dumbfounded and openly admiring the beauty of nature that had stepped forward through the brush like an angel.

    Richard offered a little smile and bowed respectfully.

    "Apologies, miss. I'm sorry if I startled you, I meant no offense." He held up his hands as a gesture of good faith, to show they were away from his blade as well as any malintent.

    "I was just admiring the mountains, as I often do on beautiful days such as this. You alerted me is all. Forgive me for my words."

    Richard dared to take a few steps closer to the maid. "I don't mean to pry, but might I inquire as to why you are here by yourself? Or who the other woman was you were talking to? The roads aren't particularly safe for two young women alone, especially out in the wilderness where there is no security." He leaned slightly left to see where the second woman would have been.

    "It's alright if your friend comes out. I am no harm to you."
    #8 moffnat, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
  9. Marguerite Potter, #e84a4a Little Rosina made a small gasp when the man suggested there as another woman. He knows I'm here! No, wait, he thinks someone is here. Maggie, don't be stupid now! Marguerite was a little less quick to be calm. Her brows arched in surprise and then settled as she calmed down, but there was evident unease in her soft features.

    Willingly admitting to being alone in the woods was a dangerous claim, for she knew not his intent, and was easily fooled by the kind words of strangers. All he needed to say was that he wanted her to follow, and she would have done so, but with the faerie in her cloak it was hardly acceptable to comply with the whim of a stranger.

    Father isn't here to protect me. Be careful. You're not a fool.

    "I fear you're mistaken, there's no one here but you and I-" Marguerite stated. At the urging of Rosina, by means of an aggravated jerk of the woman's ear Marguerite was quick to add, "-and the flowers around us. Lovely aren't they?"

    It satisfied the temperamental faerie on her shoulder for the time being. Marguerite fiddled with the silver ring on her finger, a nervous twitch she'd never been able to quell. The man's presence made her a bit uncomfortable, but they'd started up a conversation and it would have been rude for her to flee before learning his intention, be it good or bad. That same quirk of her staying could be the very thing which got her in trouble, she thought, staying to see if he had ill intent. She stopped fiddling with her ring and bent down to the forest floor to brush the edges of a bright flower with four petals, it brought forth no memory of any name.

    "Painted Trillium." Rosina whispered. "I had a few of them in my troop, but this one is not mine."

    "Shh." Marguerite hissed.

    "He's going to think you're strange, talking to yourself like that. Best stop." Rosina giggled, and Marguerite sighed quietly at the suggestion. There she was, mumbling to herself next to a flower near the earth as if it were a normal occurrence. The man just didn't know there was a mythological creature hidden beneath her hood, still pulled up tall over her head to conceal what she could of the small faerie.

    "I, like you, enjoy a ride through the mountain from time to time, seeing as I was unable to attend the festival today." Marguerite let out a little more information than she'd like, but was faintly curious now that she'd brought up the topic. "May I ask, if you know, who won this year? I had half a hope it would be the-"

    I'd hoped my father would have won. Rosina was happy enough to produce a Cymbidium Orchid for us...they're very rare.

    Marguerite shook her head. "Never mind. I'm taking your time away from enjoying the day with my questions." She stood back up, making sure to keep the green velvet hood high on her head. Rosina's wings fluttered inside the hood, making the back puff out for a small instant. Marguerite didn't have the time to scold her now that she was face to face to the handsome stranger. Rosina cursed her very wings as Marguerite adjusted the folds of both her cloak and dress.

    "I apologize, I've intruded on such a wonderful day, you would probably like some time to yourself." Marguerite said with haste, waving her hand in a gesture of parting.

    We're nothing more than strangers on the road.
  10. King Richard I of Everbright, #00a2c7 The angel from the maple tree looked among the flowers and hushed to herself, appearing to listen to some outside force, but he paid no immediate mind. It was hard for him to take his focus off the enigma that had wandered in to one of his favorite spots, apparently alone and unguarded, carrying arrays of different flowers and dressed very elegantly in a gown of cream-colored silk. The sight of her alone was enough to send him reeling, pondering various ridiculous notions including whether or not she had been sent from the gods themselves. The girl appeared to be human. Perhaps she wasn't an angel at all, or maybe angels come in the form of mankind. Such were things he had never desired to think about before, but the burning desire to know filled his heart with an insatiable sense of curiosity. He continued his approached slightly faster than the last, keeping his hands casually rested at his side to ensure that he posed no threat. The last thing he wanted to was to frighten the angel that had graced him with her presence.

    "Forgive me for staring," he said rather stupidly. "If it is the flowers you're interested in, there's plenty being sold today for the festival--"

    "I apologize, I've intruded on such a wonderful day, you would probably like some time to yourself."

    "No, please." Richard lunged forward in the least threatening way possible, placing a gentle hand on her cloaked arm and smiling as he looked into her eyes. It was impossible to help himself as baby blue irises stared up at him in incredulous shock. "Harold Potter. He won the flower festival this year, I--" he hesitated, "the king crowned him after hearing of his untimely death. He felt a great sorrow in his heart and asked the eldest step-daughter to place the crown atop his grave."

    Quickly, Richard removed his hand. "I wouldn't be a man at all if I allowed a young woman to walk among the mountains by herself, especially in this particular range. Please, let me accompany you to your destination. I promise that I will not speak unless you want conversation, will not intrude on any plans you may have, and I won't draw my sword unless done so in your own protection. I'll even let you use my horse."
    #10 moffnat, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
  11. Marguerite Potter, #e84a4a "Don't listen to him Maggie, you know better!" Rosina murmured in vain, for Marguerite wasn't keen on taking the faerie's advice. Her baby blue eyes were transfixed on the man near her, who had so boldly taken hold of her arm without so much as a word of permission.

    He'd been staring at her, and she hadn't missed it either. It felt like she was from another world, what with the looks he gave her, like an unseen creature from another land, another time, but something equally beautiful as the precious flowers Marguerite sold for her livelihood. It made her blush to think that she could be the object of someone else's affection, short lived that they were. She grinned as if she'd learned some small secret, but had to dismiss it as nothing more than curiosity. They'd only just met after all, but it was hard to keep her eyes off the stranger.

    "Harold Potter?" Marguerite brought her hands up to her face to hide the tears which threatened to fall. Her lips parted in a small cry.

    So he's won then? I'm so glad to here it. Lunaris is a sympathetic Goddess to give him one last gift, even in his passing.

    "The King is ever so charitable, awarding him even though he's gone from this world." Marguerite sniffled. The last part was whispered under her breath, a curse on her sister for being so dull. "If the crown ever sees his grave..." She doesn't even know where he's buried.

    It was hard to reign in the raw emotion she had pent up inside her. She could hardly even be angry, the devastation hit harder than any other sense. Beatrice never let her properly mourn. As soon as Harold's body was cold, she tossed him aside for nothing more than a wasted resource of income. Marguerite wouldn't have been surprised to learn she was already on the prowl for a new husband, with unnatural love such as that between her father and the cruel dame. At least her stepmother had the heart to hire some extra hands to dispose of the dearly departed. The farmer's sons a good mile away from their cottage home were more than willing to do the service, more so for Marguerite than the curt widow.

    His offer was seemingly friendly enough. To show a stranger such kindness was beyond her expectations of new faces on the road, and she accepted. Her naive nature got in the way of her instincts, where her father might have told her to stay back she would have held the man in an open embrace and given her the location of her home. Maggie bowed her head just low enough to keep Rosina safely inside as well as show her appreciate at his gesture.

    "Maggie! What are you doing?" The muffle came from inside the hood. "Don't go anywhere with him, it could be a trap!"

    Despite Rosina's warnings, Marguerite pulled back her hood, Rosina was in a surefire panic now trying to find a place to hide. Rings of golden curls tumbled out over her shoulders, no longer concealed beneath the shade of her cloak. Marguerite pulled the worn wreath from her head as a sign of respect for the man, holding it carefully in her hands all the while.

    "I would be honored to have such a noble man's protection, but I've not far to go." Marguerite explained. "Actually...I was on my way to visit someone. It won't be long, but the company would be wonderful, yes, thank you, sir."

    "You turn your rear around and take me home, now!" Rosina ordered. Marguerite tried to nonchalantly sway herself so as to rustle the faerie around beneath her clothes. "Stop that, you listen to me!"

    "I have my own horse, she knows the road well." Marguerite only had one question left for the stranger so that he would become less of that, and more so a friendly face.

    "Might I ask your name? I would hate to leave knowing I couldn't thank such a kind stranger."
  12. King Richard I of Everbright, #00a2c7 The removal of her hood made his resolve ever less present. Richard visibly sighed despite himself, openly admiring such rare beauty and genuine nature that incredibly valuable in a world where, more often than not, such things were falsified or not what they seemed. He supposed he should treat her with the same suspicion that she should offer him, locked as strangers in a battle to cast away such friendless acquaintance, yet Richard was beside himself in sheer awe. There was no room to feel like the maiden was a threat to him, and the young king found himself hoping she thought similarly.

    "Visiting someone?" he inquired curiously. "Ah--I promised I would not ask unless you offered to tell, and I will respect my promises. My name is Richard, my lady. It is a wonderful pleasure to make your acquaintance." The king gently took her hand and pressed it softly to his lips, letting it go as respectfully as he thought possible. "Come. We should return to your horse and get on the road before the hours grows too late. If you'd like, I can escort you home after this ordeal as well, though that is entirely up to your desire."

    Richard clicked his tongue and summoned the stallion to his side. Lazily, the great animal lifted its head from the fresh grasses and trotted over to his master's side, nudging against his pockets in search of a treat, no doubt.

    "He'll like you more if you offer him apples," Richard added as an afterthought, offering his arm to the maiden for her to take if she so wished. "A most greedy creature, my Tallard. Sometimes I swear he eats more than Lady Harris, who is a very great and terrible woman should you have the displeasure of encountering her previously." His voice was filled with jovial conversation.
  13. Marguerite Potter, #e84a4a Marguerite giggled at the stallion's approach. He seemed determined to have his snack whether or not the pair had a single thing to offer forth. When the black steed was done searching his master, he turned to the new face and tried her instead, hoping for a treat after the absence of such from the man, Richard. "I don't have anything for you! I swear."

    That's the King's name as well, a good name.

    Marguerite decided to give in to the new stallion, there'd be a prize so long as he stopped nudging her back. The horse almost pushed her along the way, what with his determination. She'd meant for it to be part of her lunch, but, the animal was close to finding the apple sooner or later. He followed after her to her own horse, the frail and elder animal didn't mind the presence of the black stallion one bit. Marguerite reached into the pack resting on her mare's hindquarters and pulled forth a bright red apple. In an instant, it was gone, a trail of slobber followed her finger's to Richard's stallion.

    "So much for that." She sighed, a weak smile rested on her pink lips. It was just too difficult to maintain a good atmosphere for very long.

    Richard chatted to her about some woman named Lady Harris. The only Lady Harris she knew was a rotund women from the high courts in Solaris. She was the wife of a politician, and had an insatiable craving for tarts no matter what day or hour it was. It was as Richard said, the woman was terrible, and not at all a pleasant individual from what Marguerite could recall. The two had never met face to face, but, there were almost always rumors spreading about the latest scandal involving a servant who was too slow with the wine.

    Marguerite swiftly mounted her mare, giving her a gentle pat along her neck in reassurance. New faces weren't likely to spook the animal but Marguerite didn't want to take any chances on the mountain road. It was treacherous to go along, even more so in groups. They'd have to travel single file until they reached the very base of the range, but past that, it would be simple riding. Nothing more than an afternoon in the sun with polite company at her side.

    "Please be careful, the path is dangerous." Marguerite turned to warn Richard from the top of her horse.

    "Maggie! If you don't turn around, I'm going to turn your pack into daisies, or your horse into a big- fat-" Rosina was fuming beneath Marguerite's robes. It was hard for her to sit still as it was, so staying hidden for any given amount of time made her restless, even more so with the stranger in their midst. "Don't trust strangers!"

    Marguerite ignored them, turning once more to see that her new companion was close in tow.
  14. King Richard I of Everbright, #00a2c7 The road through the crevice of the two great mountains was a tight one, not even enough room for the king and the angel to ride abreast without someone scraping their knees something terrible. The silver glow of the rock hidden in shadow made for a pleasant view and Richard found that he had gotten what he came for--peace of mind, a bit of joy to relief the stresses of a kingship. And he no longer stood alone. He chatted amiably with the beauty ahead of him, no doubt irritating her a bit with his useless conversation, but the more time passed the less he found himself worrying about such foolish things. The girl laughed when he made a joke and added conversation when the appropriate time came, and though he never asked too many questions he was hoping she would divulge certain information with time. A name even, if only a name.

    Perhaps she is protecting her identity, he thought as he watched curls bounce with each step of the horse. Perhaps she's doing the same thing I am.

    When the duo rounded the final corner towards the great mouth of a massive meadow, Richard brought the stallion to a halt. Flowing fields of wildflowers and swift grass swayed with calm and gentle breezes under the shadow of the Golden Range, great willow trees hovering over tiny lakes with fish leaping from the depths. The king parted his lips in shock and awe as he always had upon approaching his favorite mass of land, dismounting the horse and walking over to the young woman's.

    "Do you need help?" he offered, holding out his hands to give assistance if she needed. "Unless this is not where you intend to go, but beyond this meadow there is nothing but wildlife deep in thick forests, near impossible to navigate."

    A part of him wanted to help her, a part of him was desperate for answers she refused to give him. But mostly, he wanted to get to know this strange maiden from a strange place and wrap his mind around the little piece of heaven that had stumbled onto his path.

    "Do you need help, my lady?" he asked again.
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