Patrimony [Viverescribere & Nemopedia]

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HAAKON FREDERIC NISSEN
Hauviel, his birthplace, his inheritance, his home. Haakon didn’t recognise the city after nearly two decades, but he recognised certain spots. The church that his father used to lead, the market location, its docks that he liked to stroll through. Those had remained at large. The people moving in the crowd, however, were nothing different from the cities Haakon had seen so far. The occasional cry yelling for attention as the goods offered were announced. Fresh bread, fresher vegetables, still bloody meat. All of it were sights he hadn’t explored as a child, but that were strangely familiar because he had encountered them elsewhere, not for tender childhood memories.

“Kun?” Artem questioned next to him, the aged and folded visage of the old weapon master to whom Kun owed his life squinted in worry. Inquisitive warm eyes searching for that of the young man who turned his gaze away and a warm hand pressed against the prince’s arm in concern.

Over the years it was Artem who had stood closest to Haakon, treating the lost prince as the son the weaponmaster had lost in that terrible war.

“The city crosses me as strange,” Haakon admitted, “it daunts me how little I know of my birthright.” He had been so young. Too young to understand what was happening and what he really had lost other than that he was suddenly an orphan. Now that he had returned, overseeing Hauviel perched on the deck of his own ship, having climbed from nothing; it terrified how Hauviel seemed like nothing but yet another city to which they had docked. No emotion of homecoming, nor a feeling of nostalgia.

Artem’s face relaxed at that admission, understanding where the concern came from as the aged man released a sigh. He wasn’t the same lad he had been before, just as Haakon wasn’t the boy he was when he lost everything. The trauma lined their faces, but the memory was only felt and on their minds. Whatever trace of familiarity they had before, what could have them recognised, was long since gone in the near two decades that had passed.

“I had hoped to bring you back under better circumstances,” Artem admitted, and Haakon waved it off, signalling for the man to silence himself as the rest of the group climbed onto the deck of their ship.

“Don’t bow,” Haakon hissed under his breath, the warning thick in his voice as he noted the way their knees were about to bend, their fists over the left side of their chest, “this isn’t the time, nor the location,” he pointed out solemnly, his eyes scanning over the crowd below that moved and bustled about their day. The crew straightened themselves up quickly after, discomfort clear in their faces at the thought of breaking away from their habit, embarrassed for not being more mindful.

There was no time for that, however. Turning his eyes back over Hauviel, Haakon released a sigh from himself, his jaw clenching. He hated the thought that it was the poorest among them that had to suffer. It was always those down the ranks that suffered the consequences. A fact that Haakon was still unable to change and wasn’t going to be able to change for a long while.

“As we agreed. Target the nobility. Leave the rest. We wish to disrupt their transportation. Not to feed greed.”

The order came out more simple than the plan actually was, but the group had already gone over the plan so many times on their way to Hauviel. A repetition wasn’t needed after so many journeys together.

"Captain?" one of them called, and Haakon turned his attention over to Leah, the maid that had taken care of him like a mother would despite barely being much older herself. Haakon regretted the fact that she had foregone her youth in devoting herself to this cause. That so many of the crew, both aged and peers, all who had survived that terrible night, had given up on so much as they somehow had found their way back to his side.

"Spill it," Haakon commanded when Leah fell quiet, as if waiting for his permission to speak. A habit Haakon had to break with as well for as long as they found themselves in Hauviel. He couldn't have their conduct around him reveal his identity.

Leah took a deep sigh, as if needing courage for what she was about to say next and Haakon wondered what it was. If it was fear for him, or if she believed that she was crossing a line. Neither had prepared him for the question to come.

"Will you visit the grave of your parents?"

Sucking in a breath Haakon leaped off the railing he had been sitting on, his expression darkening as his lips pulled into a thin line. The crew took a step back, as if wishing to maintain proper distance, or perhaps they were more afraid of him lashing out. Only Artem remained in position, but Haakon could see how even the old man tensed as the male shut his eyes, knowing what his eyes were doing and commanding himself to calm down.

"What grave?" The answer came thinly, and Haakon felt a little broken having to utter these words, "did you think the D'Ambrosio would honour my parents after dipping their own hands in their blood?"

Haakon dismissed the group soon after confirming their meeting spots one last time. There was no use in lingering.

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



Being princess had it's benefits.

Elswyth couldn't deny that. Besides, the lifestyle hadn't exactly been thrust upon her as some sort of burden to bear. She had been the daughter of a Baron and thus used to such luxuries. There were a few additional restrictions that she wouldn't have had to consider if she was still just a Baron's child. However, it wasn't as if she could complain.

Most of the time.

Marriage had been a topic of conversation that had arisen for a number of years, but each time she had managed to ride the wave of any potential negotiations that would have ended with a ring adorning her finger. Elswyth was well aware that she was most likely running out of time, at the mature age of 25. Most women her age were married and close to baring their second child. Yet she remained husbandless and childless. She couldn't be entirely certain if that was due to her father and his high standards (both for the kingdom and his daughter) or because of her own lack of desire to marry a man twice her age. Or one that wanted the power she represented. Or one that would disregard her for a mistress the moment their marriage was consummated.

Either way, when it was announced to her by her father that her hand was finally being given away (without consulting her), Elswyth was left speechless.

Really she had been entirely naïve to believe that she would get a say in who she would marry. But given the war that had happened so many years ago now and how well her father had treated her, she had assumed that her opinion would have mattered and that her father would have wanted her close by. Instead, her younger brother would rule Hauviel when he was ready and she would be sent away to a kingdom far south. Right on the coast where it seemed as though the sun was never hindered by rain and the sky was always clear. Where the beaches boasted of white sands and clear waters and the weather never seemed to consider turning cold.

But also where the ports were most affluent and most accessible and most popular.

Seething at the unfairness of it all, Elswyth had forced herself to keep her customs and curtseyed to her father and mother, who stood behind him. Tears in her eyes and gritted teeth as she swallowed back the emotion that threatened to rise as a result. Not that she lingered in the castle, not wishing to remain near those who had organised for her to be sent away. As that was how she saw it - being banished.

She had swiped her cloak from her room and took advantage of the opened gates to the castle, pulling her hood up in the desire to hide the tears that spilled over despite her best intentions, and stole the opportunity that was presented to her; climbing into an empty cart and pulling a coarse blanket just behind the driver's seat over herself. She allowed the rock and jostle of that cart to comfort her, as it reminded her of all the times she would ride in a carriage with her parents - namely her mother - and lean up against them, face pressed into the side of her mother's chest with her perfume filling her senses as she drifted off to sleep during a particularly long journey.

The dock was bustling with life when she arrived, waiting for the cart to stop and the driver to hop off before slowly sitting up to survey her surroundings.

She had spent a full hour down by the railings, sitting on a nearby bench and simply staring out to sea with her cloak wrapped around her, the hood remaining up. She listened to the calls of merchants and the haggling of those who needed supplies, relishing the sharp scents that greeted her differently each time the wind changed direction.

"Could just get on a ship right now," she murmured to herself, the thought a striking one as she eyed a vessel that had just pulled into anchor up, "Stow away... run away... no one would even know until it was too late..." She trailed off with a sigh, knowing deep down that that wasn't the option best taken. She had no skills. She didn't know how to defend herself. She had no money. She'd likely wind up dead within minutes.

Elswyth turned at the sounds of yelling, heart pounding in her chest at the sudden uproar of noise and she released a long breath as she witnessed two old friends greet each other. Her eyes flitted across to where the cart was last seen and quickly stood, hastily gathering herself together as she saw it was ready to depart.

The young woman hurried across, biding her time and lingering until she saw her opening while backs were turned. She squeezed past the sacks and barrels, knowing that they were for the party to celebrate her brother's 17th birthday. She gathered the coarse blanket to herself and once more drew it over her body, leaving a little gap for her to breathe.


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Nemopedia

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HAAKON FREDERIC NISSEN
“The prince’s banquet?” Leah’s voice was innocuous as she exchanged a coin for a fish.

“Not from around here, are ya?” the fisherman smiled, handing a fresh fish wrapped in some old paper, “The prince is turning 17 today.”

The piece of information was interesting, just as much as it was explanatory. Why the gates of the palace were open, why there were so many carts out with the royal emblem.

“17 years old, how fast the time goes,” Leah smiles at last as she turns around, the fish in her basket while she returns.

Elsewhere Artem had tapped one of the cartdrivers on the shoulders, immediately followed with a badge in hands that seemed impressive in a flash, which was all they were allowed to be given when the carters lowered their head, bowing.

“My lord?” they questioned, and Artem pulled the hood of his cloak deeper over his head, pointing at the cart, “we’re taking the waterways, security reasons,” he grunted in a low voice. The cart driver gave him a wary eye, apprehensive in the statement before Artem spat at his feet.

“Well, quickly? The prince isn’t turning 17 tomorrow!” he hollered, and that jumped the cart driver into moving onto the deck of the smaller ship that for the occasion was dressed in the flags of the D’Ambrisio household.

“Why again is this delay?” the driver asked once he had boarded, much too late he realised, but the Artem had seemed so imposing and convincing that the man didn’t question it until the boat docked from the harbour.

“Look over here,” Artem told the man, hood still pulled over his head as he pointed in a vague direction over the railing of the ship. The man joined him, albeit reluctantly, stiffly leaning over the deck before a rough hand helped him over.

Much in the same fashion the rest of the boarders were thrown over. Blocks of wood followed after to keep them afloat until they reached the shore once more. Already the ship had taken on a fair distance, being smaller and swifter in the wind, not too far for those overboard to swim safely back, fair enough to make a chase hard. Harder because the sailors knew exactly what direction to take and how to erase their trace.

“Good loot,” Haakon spoke, stepping out of his cabin when Artem shrugged off his cloak, “divide and sent it to the camps as discussed, make sure no one sells it,” were his next orders as the man approached the crates upon crates full of food. Good quality food, food that would last his people for days if not month, all meant for one banquet, a single night. The thought of such wastefulness stirred something within Haakon who retreated a hand from a fresh piece of fruit he saw, his mouth watering before he climbed onto the cart, wishing to find what more they had spoiled from the castle.

Sacks of grain, and barrels of wine, Haakon made a mental note on making sure that there was no excessive drinking tonight, knowing that these barrels were sure to tempt. Reaching out for a discarded blanket Haakon tugged at the fabric to see what was underneath it, his eyes widening when he saw what it hid, or rather who.

“You,” he hissed, eyes narrowing as he spoke over his shoulder, voice commanding; “Artem, we need to talk.”

They were already too far off the shore to simply drop the female overboard, hoping that she swam well enough to return. Besides, Haakon noted with detest as he threw the blanket back over the female, she looked much too well-kept and delicate to know any such hardships other than a jumping horse.

“My—” Artem was cut off with one sharp sign from Haakon who pointed at the heap between the barrels and the sacks.

“We have a stow away,” Haakon calmly minced out the words, each pronounced and punctuated as he kept his eyes trained on the lady, “and she is noble.”

The shock ran deep with Artem as well who realised the implications of such a heavy load on their ship and purpose. The delicacy of the whole ordeal as the weaponmaster flushed, realising his own carelessness when this was his cart.

“Get the lady to my cabin, at once,” Haakon bristled in a low voice, a deep ragged sigh escaping him as he marched off for Artem to deal with it alone.

Pulling the blanket off the lady Artem seemed guilt stricken as he offered a hand, knowing that there was no reason for her to trust him and take it.

“Sorry for the mess, lass,” he tells her as the weaponmaster throws his own cloak over the lady, hiding her identity and dress before leading her down the deck, “the young master won’t harm you, I promise,” were his departing words before he unlocked Haakon’s room for her, pushing the lady in before shutting it once more.

It was all Artem could do for the stow away as Haakon walked into the room after a short while, a bundle of clothes in hands that he threw at their extra cargo.

His room, if one could call it a room, was practically designed. Meant to be functional rather than to comfort. A bed, with sheets, a box for clothes, a table where maps were spread out drawing out his many travels, and then the pungent smell of medicine that he kept in a corner along with notes and books of his studies. It was at best a temporary space, which Haakon had treated as such when he sat himself down in one of the seats there, eyes glaring into the direction of the lady that got onto his ship.

“Talk,” was all he told her, mentally preparing himself for all the inane lies he could be fed at this point.

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Viverescribere

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



Elswyth knew something was wrong the moment she felt the cart stop. Her anxiety had started climbing from the moment she had heard voices, but convinced herself to calm down and relax - nothing bad was going to happen. How could it? It was her brother's birthday and no one would be so brazen as to attack or steal from the royal carts.

Panic gripped her to a point where her body refused to move as the splashing began and the footsteps grew closer and closer to the cart she had stowed away on. Her knees drew in tighter to her chest and her knuckles became white as she gripped the coarse blanket, eyes growing wide and then snapping shut as the footsteps stopped near her. She held her breath as she listened to tarp and other material disturb the air as they were whipped off whatever they were covering, causing her body to become more rigid and stiff.

She gasped as her own blanket was finally ripped away from her, the friction of the rough material passing through her fingers causing them to burn and she sharply rolled to open her body up, allowing her eyes - which had opened wildly again - to fixate onto who had discovered her.

"I-- I--" She stammered, drawing her hands into her chest as she sat up, chest rising and falling visibly with her frantic breathing. As the blanket landed back on her, she hurriedly brought it back to her body, using it to cover the delicate silks that adorned her frame. Elswyth's gaze sharply moved onto the older male that joined the one that found her, the princess shuffling backwards until her back was pressed into the corner of the cart.

As the younger of the two uttered a few terse words to the other, Elswyth took that moment to look around her and see where she was. In other words, see what mess she had gotten herself into. Nausea began to bubble as she noted the land belonging to her kingdom becoming rather distant over the railings of a ship, the ocean spreading out before her as they picked up speed to leave the docks. Her hands once again gripped the blanket firmly, her inhales becoming sharp and hasty, while her exhales were short and shallow.

"I can't-- I didn't--" She attempted to speak again, brow furrowing as she tried to figure out just what she was meaning to say.

She can't be away from home. She can't be there. She can't allow them to take her. She can't allow the ship to continue?

She didn't mean for her wish to come true. She didn't want to be there. She didn't mean to get caught up in their raid. She didn't mean to get into any trouble?

For what it was worth, it meant nothing now.

Her hand, soft in touch from a lack of hard work, quietly slipped into that was offered to her. It shook as it extended, the princess coming to realise that she was on a ship with what had to be a gang of bandits or rogues or something to that nature. She had heard rumours and stories, as had most people and especially most noble women.

So preoccupied with her thoughts and her anxieties, Elswyth failed to take note of where she was being led. It wasn't until she had numbly perched herself on the edge of one of the chairs in the room that she realised she was no longer outside, no longer out on deck. She pressed a hand to her mouth, the frown on her expression deepening as she swallowed back a pitiful whimper of fear.

However, she snatched her hand away as the door opened and the younger of the two men strode inside, shutting it behind him. Her reflexes were too slow to catch the clothes in her dazed state, causing them to land against her upper body and land in her chest before she could brace herself. She peered down at them, rubbing the material between her fingers as her hands came to rest on top of them in order to keep them against her lap. They were plain, made of cotton and wool. She hated wool, it was always itchy against her skin. But she kept her mouth shut, not wanting to anger anyone on the ship in that moment - least of all the one that stood before her, clearly seeming to be the man that ran the whole operation.

"...Talk?" Elswyth repeated in a squeak, blinking at him when she finally turned her attention off the clothes and onto him, "I-- I don't know what you wish for me to say. Should-- should I know what to say? You've just... you've just found me in a royal cart. What more is there to add? I-- I used the cart to get out of the castle for some air and I-- I was using it to get back." Her eyes darted to the door and then back to him, "What are you-- what are you going to do?"


Hex Code: #a37566
 

Nemopedia

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Without any direction the female started to talk, and talk she did, talking about shoulds and nots and Haakon almost felt certain that this was a lady of nobility, someone used to custom and etiquette, who only knew the expected and never more. Someone that he used to be, and whom he would have grown up to be if fate didn’t have other plans for him.

“What,” he repeated after the stranger, his voice coming out like a sharp breath, “depends on you,” Haakon emphasised as he unfolded his hands, waving to a corner in his room, the one where a folding screen stood leaning against the wall. Rarely used and barely noticed, but there and for the purpose of what Haakon had long since lost.

“There is a screen over there, change behind that,” he told her, relieved to know that her anxiety was real as much as her presumed status. It visibly relaxed Haakon, whose shoulders slumped as he actually dared to flicker his eyes close as he released a deep breath.

“What is your name?” Haakon asked after a short pause. There was no sin in escaping the castle, the male knew that from his own childhood as well. How he had longed to scout the markets from the high windows. How he much rather be amongst the crowd, where the ant-sized figures seemed to be free to do whatever they wanted.

Haakon knew better now, however. He had tasted that freedom, tasted what it felt like to be one part of the crowd, struggling to get by, how humiliating it was to be no one.

Trailing his fingers over the map Haakon tapped his finger on the spot where Hauviel was located, his face grim as each tap came slower, but more forceful. “I can’t return you, let’s be clear on that,” he spoke, slowly, as if still deliberating each word. Haakon had to, in case she turned out to be someone of importance, or worse. For no matter how naive her little escape had been Haakon couldn’t afford himself to be outed just yet. Even less did he want to punish her for being human.

“But releasing you might mean your end.” Haakon was honest about that. The world had tried to devour him when he found himself outside. He knew that it was worse for women, where it didn’t matter what rags they wore.

“What,” Haakon repeated once more as he trailed his finger from Hauviel’s waters down the sea, towards the little islands no one cared for and where life was harsh, their next destination, “depends on you.”

For the only other option would be death if she turned out to be more than a noble from the castle. For more meant that Haakon had to do the unthinkable. For otherwise his people would want a reckoning, if not at his hands it would be at their own.

A thought Haakon rather not entertain.

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Viverescribere

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



There was a moment of hesitation from the young woman as he motioned to the screen in the corner of the cabin, her head partially turning to take in the sorry sight but allowing her eyes the opportunity to dart back to him afterwards. Her fingers remained tangled within the material of the clothing he had provided, strangling the clothes in her anxiety at what was happening to her. Not that she really knew what it was. She had considered dubbing it as a kidnapping, but they didn't intentionally kidnap her.

Her anxiety wasn't one dimensional, either, as she had to consider if she would be recognised at any point. The young man in front of her clearly didn't know who she was, and didn't even suspect, it seemed. To him, she was just a noble that was taking a respite from all activity in the castle. A noble that needed to get away from all that came with that kind of life.

She felt panic wrap fingers around her throat at the mere idea of being recognised for who she was. Because who knew what would happen then?

Despite her dubious nature at changing in the presence of a man, Elswyth hastily moved to the corner he waved to, gritting her teeth and furrowing her brow in the effort it took to pull the screen upright again. Once she had succeeded, she slipped behind it and pulled either ends closer in on herself to provide the false sense of privacy. She peeked out once to watch him, noting where he was in the room before reluctantly beginning to change. She threw the clothes over the top of the screen so they were laid out for her before beginning to fight her way out of her current clothes.

Unused to dressing and undressing herself, Elswyth struggled to unbutton the back of her dress, soon becoming warm and flustered as she bent her arms awkwardly to master the challenge.

"El--" She cut herself off, eyes widening as she realised she was in no place to give her real name. People may not recognise her, but her name wasn't exactly common. If she were to give her real name, things could take a turn sooner than she hoped. Covering her abrupt end, she coughed softly and cleared her throat, "Sorry. Elisabeth. My-- my name is Elisabeth."

She knew she was in no position to give a last name and wouldn't unless he explicitly asked for one. She would have one at the ready, the last name of one of her ladies-in-waiting, so at least she would still respond to that too if it was ever used. Elisabeth would be trickier, but at least that was still similar sounding at the start. It was then that Elswyth realised that she would have to be careful, with the information she provided about herself, any stories she told, any lies she created. She would have to try and mix them in with half-truths. To avoid being caught out.

"I suppose asking for your name is out of bounds?" She dared to ask as she finally wrestled the layer over her corset from her body, releasing an exerted huff of breath before slinging it over the top of the screen. She reached back next to undo the tied string at the bottom of the corset, brow furrowing as she began working on loosening it.

Elswyth eyed the clothing that he had given her, curious to see if such work would be necessary to dress herself again afterwards. If she had to do this all again later on, she would either refuse to step out of what she had on currently or just refuse to put it back on. Even if it was improper. What did it matter now, if she was improperly dressed?

She stilled at his confession that he couldn't take her back and Elswyth moved to peek her head out from around the screen. Her gaze flickered over him as he stood by the map, trying to get a gauge on his emotion and what his eventual decision would be.

But he was incredibly difficult to read.

Pulling back to behind the screen, Elswyth took another few minutes before she loosened the string enough to rotate the corset around on her body so she could work more comfortably, releasing enough so she could pull the contraption up and over her head. "...I can't help but feel that it doesn't truly depend on me, kind sir." She shivered momentarily as her upper half remained in her slip. Her hands lowered, after placing the corset over the edge of the screen, to work on the belt at her waist that kept up her petticoats. "If this all depended on me, I would be requesting that I be returned home swiftly. But you say that cannot happen. So I'm at a loss."

Another shiver soon followed as she allowed her skirts to fall to her feet, the princess stepping over and out of the last pieces of clothing (except for her slip). She reached up for the simple peasant dress, hesitating as she rolled the fabric between her fingers and considered the dull colours and coarse material. Taking a deep breath in and next releasing it in a sigh, Elswyth pulled it over her head and down her body over her slip. Her nose wrinkled at the roughness wherever it grazed her unprotected, soft skin and she fidgeted within it for a moment, as if that would help make it more comfortable.

"Why... can't you return me?"
She dared to ask next as she fumbled with the last set of buttons, placed on the back of her new dress, "I don't understand why that isn't an option. You surely must go back to the Hauviel docks again? Or at least pass by? I-- I can't swim but surely a little passenger boat? You-- you don't want to keep me here. I know nothing of sailing or... or anything that might be of use to you here on this ship." Elswyth continued, desperate to make him see sense that keeping her wasn't worth the effort. "You have to take me back. What other option is there?"

Hex Code: #a37566
 
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’Kind sir.’ Definitely nobility, Haakon determined. Polite at every turn, afraid to offend, kissing up an arse and false niceties. He was even so bold to think that she may have been one of the higher ranking ones, her response and reasoning barely reaching as Haakon continued to travel his finger over the map, tapping at some of the islands though abandoned and weighing out his options.

Options, for there were options. Options he saw, but she didn’t and Haakon kept the silence for longer, waiting for the lady to step out wanting her to grow discomforted at the lack of an answer coming. Perhaps he even wanted her to see that sly smile on his face that had appeared, the one that condescendingly said that she had been pampered, that she knew nothing, but that he would forgive her for that, because he had started from there as well.

Elisabeth, she had called herself earlier. Elisabeth, so common and yet it didn’t quite sit right. Not completely, not even from the way she had stuttered. Too common, too familiar, too alike, Haakon couldn’t put his finger on the reasons why the name bothered him, nor did he want to allow it to bother him. For it was a name, just a common name.

“What house do you hail from, lady Elisabeth?” Haakon spoke in mocking imitation of Elisabeth when he decided he had enough of the silence, shifting the conversation once more, “and this time one answer will do,” he supplied, hoping that this would stop her rambling, the many excuses she could list and reasons she could think of to pander to her own logic.

He had no appetite to play with demands. Not until Haakon was sure who she was exactly and what her position was in the palace, in Hauviel.

A short knock interrupted the conversation, “Kun,” it sounded from the other side of the door, the muffled voice of Artem returning once more, minding his conduct and adjusting his address towards Haakon.

“I figured the lady must be startled, and you haven’t eaten much today,” Artem sounded from the other side of the door and Haakon narrowed his eyes, throwing up his chin at the still closed door as he clenched his jaw. “Leah prepared some honey cakes, will you have them?” the old weaponmaster sounded, still speaking to an unresponsive door that was locked and closed, still loyally minding his manners that caused the wide distance between Haakon and the rest of the crew.

Honey cakes, Haakon drew a breath in at that, knowing that Leah and the rest had prepared the delicacy in advance not to celebrate, but because they knew he was going to lack any sort of appetite reaching Hauviel. Appetite and sleep and mood, for even the animals had kept away from him, sensing the tension radiating from the young lost heir. “Come in,” he finally called for Artem, rolling his shoulders to release the tension building up.

It was unfair on them, he knew, to worry them so, to have them follow him around on this wild chase to what was history to the rest.

The plate Artem carried held more than just desserts, the smell of freshly brewed soup filled the room, accompanied with fresh fish and bread. A luxurious meal, especially for a hostage, but each portion was doubled and Haakon knew that the weaponmaster had struck himself soft at the sight of the lady.

“Leave it on the table, Elisabeth and I have some more things to discuss. Don’t let the rest know about her presence yet,” Haakon instructed, and Artem executed them without a protest, or an answer back, merely nodding his head solemnly as the older man exited the room once more, the lock of the door clicking back into place once more to leave the lady and the deposed heir behind.

“Do I need to feed you as well, or can you eat by yourself?” Haakon threw out the question, a scoff escaping him as he picked up a honey cake, wondering if he was feeling hungry yet, whether the nerves had left him enough yet to allow him to eat. “I won’t feed you, but if you want to demand for it I can shove it down your throat.”

Haakon dropped the honey cake back onto the plate, deciding that he didn’t feel well enough yet to even eat his favourite cakes.

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



After struggling with the final button on her new gown, Elswyth released a heavy sigh and allowed her arms to swing down from the position they had been kept in during her fight to do up the dress. The effort caused a rosiness to colour her cheeks, the young woman rolling her shoulders in an attempt to ease the ache that had formed as a result. The silence had not gone unnoticed, however, and it made her reluctant to step out from behind the screen despite her knowing she would have to at some point.

She fidgeted for a moment, pulling at the ends of the sleeves on the new dress - they were slightly too short, brushing just before her wrists - and then at the neckline, wincing as the material itched against her shoulders. As the silence continued to drag, Elswyth had to wonder if the young man (who still hadn't given her a name) was still in the room. The door didn't open and close, so surely he was still with her, which meant he was biding his time with something. That, in turn, made her nervous. What would he need to bide his time for?

The princess reluctantly stepped out from behind the screen, one hand continuing to try and pull down the sleeve on the opposite arm, only to pause at his question. Or rather, the blatant mimicking.

Her brow furrowed, not at the question being asked, but at his mocking behaviour. It wasn't lost on her in the slightest that he was effectively making a joke at her expense and all of it due to her simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She wouldn't be in this situation if she had decided to cool down with going for a walk in the castle grounds or going for a horse ride. Yet she was and now she had to contend with some patronising young male, who looked no older than she, making hints to how entitled she was.

"The House Louet." She answered, as simply as he wanted it. Elswyth held her tongue to keep from adding any further detail as she wanted to do without any prodding on his part. From his insistence, he wanted things straight forward and without frills.

Her eyes remained on him for the time being, prepared for his next question (and his next little poke at her mannerisms), Elswyth now finally out from around the screen and hovering awkwardly near to it. There was no suggestion that she could sit anywhere and she certainly wasn't about to go annoying the man in the room with her by going and taking a spot by herself. He had already made a hint towards his opinions of her, so she was hoping not to allow him any reason to voice any others.

She only tore her gaze away at the voice at the door, looking to that before she was immediately distracted by the food. She wasn't particularly hungry in that moment, but she also didn't want to offend anyone else. Much less those who were seemingly going to keep her captive. Offering the older male who brought her in a small yet polite and relatively warm smile, inclining her head towards him in her silent thanks.

"Why would I ever demand for food to be shoved down my throat? Unless you wish to choke me, I wouldn't recommend that being the way you help anyone to eat." She spoke up after a few beats, reaching up to tuck a loose strand or two behind her ear. She went quiet, looking to Haakon once she had established what food was present for her to eat. "...Is Kun your name? Or is it a nickname? Or am I to call you something else entirely? It's... it's always polite in an exchange of name to... actually exchange names."

Elswyth remained over by the screen that she had moments ago just changed behind, not particularly eager to get closer to the stranger who made it rather clear that taking her back to her home was not an option. Especially not when her comments could be interpreted as quite audacious.


Hex Code: #a37566

 
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Nemopedia

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“Louet, long loyal, the first to turn,” he heard Artem teach him in his memories. A house of legal scholars, he had explained. Haakon had only met a few members of the house in his short time as a prince, but he could only recall the old retired patriarch serving as his tutor when the man retreated from court. A good and kind man with an endless patience for a young boy whose world didn’t go beyond the castle walls and whose interests didn’t go beyond stealing bread rolls from the kitchen with his dearest friend…

“Elly,” Haakon let the nickname escape him, absent-mindedly releasing the name of a friend he had dearly missed before recovering himself. The stow away had finally revealed herself from her screen and Haakon could see that the dress was too small, pinching at places that it shouldn’t be pinching at. Picking up a rough blanket from his chair, the one he likened to wrap himself with when staying awake on long nights, “while on this ship, call yourself Elly,” he recovered himself soon after, pulling out another chair.

He wasn’t sure what to make of her question, if it was sarcasm against his own sarcasm, whether it was genuine. Haakon let his eyes linger over the brunette for a little while longer, his lips pressed against each other in a long line as he tried to observe her gestures. The ship crew were used to his bitter humour, some even capable of serving it right back at him when he was too much ‘highness’ and too little ‘boy’. The majority, however, didn’t dare to speak back, simply smiling and pretending themselves to be as dumb as he was condescending.

“Just sit down and smell the food, if you like. I don’t care how you fill your stomach,” Haakon sighed in response, suddenly tired as he thought of what to do with the lady. If she was a Louet as claimed to be, then her position was complicated. At one side she came from a family of traitors, the kind that had betrayed his father for their own gain and glory. At the other side there was the old patriarch, the grandfather, who had urged Kun to play outside that particular night which had saved his life.

’How is he?’ Haakon wished to ask, but knew that it would be strange to ask after the wellbeing of an old man that may as well be dead by now. He had been wizened and aged when Haakon was young, and while still young now, it had been two decades at least.

But if this lady was who she claimed to be, however unlike she was to the patient saint from Haakon’s memories, Haakon had a debt of kindness to repay.

“Kun will do,” he finally resigned himself, his shoulders relaxing as he finally decided on what to do. Returning her wasn’t an option now, not while they were still too close to Hauviel. Keeping her was all the more dangerous, however, and Haakon didn’t wish to do that either.

He would need to talk to Artem later. On what to do, and to get a bigger dress.

“Why did you leave the castle?” Haakon asked, feeling that they had reached the same point on the cycle once more, but on a softer, more warm tone. Maybe it was the knowledge of the old Louet patriarch. Perhaps it was just fatigue.

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio


The nickname had Elswyth blinking owlishly at him, only for her brow to furrow as the name caused an itch in her mind that she simply couldn't scratch. However, she left it alone, choosing to ignore it as simply something that triggered a childhood memory of her own. With her name being so similar to Elisabeth, of course any nicknames would potentially be the same. It wouldn't be odd that Elly was one of those nicknames when it fitted so well for both Elswyth and Elisabeth.

Yet she had to ignore the small bubble of warmth that was conjured at the childhood nickname making a reappearance. It had been a long while since anyone had referred to her as anything other than 'Your Majesty' or 'Princess Elswyth'. Even her parents called her by her full first name.

Eventually, the young woman lowered her gaze to her feet as she shook herself out of the familiarity the nickname presented. Her fingers delicately picked at the material of the dress and her feet fidgeted, shifting her weight from one to the other as she soon became aware of his eyes lingering on her again. She became acutely aware of the tightness of the dress, feeling inappropriately covered and growing more uncomfortable the longer she felt his attention on her. The cloth was snug over the swell of her hips and the neckline applied a little pressure against the hollow of her throat, that same tension pressing down on her chest. The hemline of the dress allowed her feet to peek out slightly from underneath, and there was still the problem with the sleeves.

However, she held her tongue. She was in no position to make demands and definitely didn't feel comfortable enough to simply ask for something more appropriate. They were on a ship and she had no idea how many women were aboard with him. Instead she did as she was told and approached the seats and tables hesitantly, sitting down with equal delicacy to perch on the edge of the seat. Her body was on edge and she wasn't sure what to expect from the equally young man in front of her.

Kun. That name also rang a bell for her, one from years ago. In the dust of her memories she could see a childhood friend who had shared the same name. But that was so long ago... and he was dead.

"Let's just say that I... received some news that shocked me and displeased me. I didn't wish to see anyone who would lecture me or anyone who would wish to talk about that news so I... I decided the best option was to escape to a place that no one would expect me to go." Elswyth answered reluctantly, not wishing to provide any further information than she needed to. If she told him she was betrothed, he would want to know who it was too, if that family would present a threat. Would that make him panic? Would that make him worry that her 'family' and then the family of her betrothed would be looking for her?

Would it make his decision regarding her come about faster? Would he return her? Or just save himself any trouble and throw her overboard?

She also had to consider how soon news would reach the different shores that the Princess of Hauviel was missing. He seemed sharp and intelligent, Elswyth could imagine he would put two and two together quickly enough. And he didn't seem overly fond of nobility.

Her gaze flickered to the food on the table, the princess uncertain as to if she really wanted to eat yet anyway. The dress was tight around her stomach and she hadn't been on a ship in a while, she couldn't remember how well her body responded last time to the waves.



Hex Code: #a37566
 

Nemopedia

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Shocking news. Haakon could only imagine what ‘shocking’ news could mean to a highborn lady with little other worries in life. A man, twice, maybe thrice her age, older than her parents combined, perhaps, all in virtue of an alliance, to strengthen their position in court. It couldn’t be the royal family, however, for their eldest was his age, or around his age, and female, and the queen was still alive, but that didn’t mean that those who stood beside them were.

“You want me to return you for a marriage?” Haakon went straight to the matter, and this time he actually felt pity for the lady, if not a bit amused at how she seemed to be rather willing to subject herself to such humiliation over the freedom of the waves. “Must be a handsome husband your lord-father has picked,” the male continued, knowing that the truth was different. His royal parents had been such a pair after all. By the time his mother came to his royal father the man himself was already in decay whereas his mother was in her prime. However, none of the previous wives of his royal-father had managed to give birth to a royal heir, or given birth at all before they passed away. A curse of the Nissen family, they had claimed, as the crown always had difficulty producing the needed heir, his mother only chosen because her maternal line had been known to have fertile wombs, bringing forth many children as a guarantee. A womb that proved itself to be fertile indeed as he was born, sitting here now in disgrace.

“Who is the lucky lord? Maybe I will deliver you straight into his bed,” Haakon continued in nonchalance, picking up and dropping a grape on the plate repeatedly before finally popping one in his mouth. It was only then that the male realised how hungry he was, not having eaten anything for the day because of his own anxieties.

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



"Between being forced to marry someone and an unknown fate, yes... I think I would prefer the arranged marriage. At least there I know I'll be kept alive for longer than a month."

The response held a touch of annoyance. Frustration even, that he would provide such an answer that made her feel as though he was attempting to make her out to be a fool. Her desire to be returned home outweighed the anger and concern she had about the arranged marriage that was sorted for her. Elswyth wanted to back with her family in an environment she knew to be safe and at least remotely caring. She knew what was in store for her, she could be in control.

She knew she couldn't have control on this ship, with this man.

Her eyes focused on the grape that he toyed with before eating, gaze moving back up to his once he popped it into his mouth. She still had yet to touch her food. Her hands came together to grip tightly, thumbs rubbing over each other in a repetitive, continuous motion.

"...And you won't return me. You said so yourself, you can't return me now. I'm assuming that is something to do with going back to Hauviel. Perhaps now that your raid has happened, you can't risk going back and being caught with your... hand in the cookie jar twice." Elswyth studied him carefully, attempting to figure out his expressions, "And it's the Prince's... birthday," she tilted her head, taking a moment without being too obvious - she had gone missing on her brother's birthday. That was not going to bode well. Surely news would reach even quicker with the drama and scandal it would cause. "It's the young prince's birthday and security will be high, even more so now you've managed to steal from the royal kitchens."

Elswyth tucked some hair behind her air, clearing her throat softly, "So why don't we forgo any more skirting around the answer you may have for me and you just tell me what your intentions are? If I'm going to be on this... ship... or wherever you next take me... what am I to be? What are you to do with me, Kun?"

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Unknown fate? Haakon took a moment to realise that she was suspicious of him, that she didn’t trust him to keep her safe. A suspicion that he couldn’t hold against her, realising now that he had never guaranteed her safety, rather even threatened it, taunting her at every turn. Haakon realised even that he was taking out his own feelings, the remainder of wroth he felt for his own unfortunate existence, out on this woman who was both too young and of the wrong family to be held responsible for his misfortunes.

A sigh escaped him, a deep one as the male realised what it was he was doing, how childlike he still was, despite running an entire ship and an operation to take back his birthright.

Almost, almost Haakon’s shoulders slumped and sympathy overtook him. Almost, until Elly mentioned the prince’s birthday, the fake prince’s, the one who had taken over his space, his right, the one that was pretending to be.

Another deep breath and Haakon steeled himself, his expression hardening as he gave the lady a chilly look, a sardonic smile lifting one edge of his lips up, never reaching his eyes that saw, but didn’t take in.

“What great security when word comes out a princess is lost and the banquet is ruined,” he spilled, his words coming slowly in a low tune, “by a mere bandit, no less,” he spat these last words, degrading himself and his crew, for Haakon knew they weren’t any more than that in the eyes of nobility and the citizens of Hauviel.

The power of a king came from his citizens. The fall of a king comes when a common man believes himself more able. Haakon had learned that the hard way. The way his father had lost the crown had been a simple and perhaps deserved matter. His misfortune, however, had not and Haakon was eager to set it all right; starting by destabilising the exact faith and trust his father had lost.

His smile grew into a sneer and Haakon stepped forward, closer to the lady as he ducked his face closer to hers, eyes piercing into hers before he sniffed the perfume popular within her ranks.

“What do you offer to be?” he questioned, “what do you hope I will do to you?” he continued, a hand lifting as he traced her face with the barest distance, but never touching her, “are all of you noble-born ladies so eager to give yourselves up?”

He knew this not to be true, and despite earlier thoughts Haakon had gone right back into taunting Elly, his eyes trailing over her dress before he stepped away from her once more, turning sharply before he marched out of the room, the door of the cabin falling shut with a heavy thud before the lock clicked.

Haakon wouldn’t return for the rest of the night, choosing to sleep on deck instead, or forgo it entirely while cooling his head with the air of the sea.

“What do you plan to do with the lady?” Artem asked the following morning, his old face folded and worried as Haakon shrugged his shoulders, eyes dark and heavy from the night he stayed up.

“You can’t lock her there for eternity,” the old weaponmaster said, and Haakon shrugged again instead of a response.

“You can’t hide it from the rest,” was the last thing the man tried, which Haakon already knew, growing more annoyed by the minute before he heaved a sigh.

“She will rat me out first thing,” was all Haakon had to say, feeling worn as he finally went down the stairs to his cabin, another dress in hands which he had gotten from Leah.

A heavy knock fell on the door leading to his own room and then silence again.

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Viverescribere

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



His words last night had infuriated her.

She knew them for what they were. Taunting. Intimidating. Cold.

They refused to leave her as he did, not as easy to slam behind a door as he had done with his physical presence once he had left. They kept whispering to her, being repeated over and over and over again in her mind. Ghostly touches on her face and cheeks despite him never having even touched her himself.

"What do you offer to be? What do you hope I will do to you? Are all of you noble-born ladies so eager to give yourselves up?"


She had refused to flinch as his hand had raised to hover near her cheek, the princess having steeled her spine and clenched her jaw, abdomen tightening in her defiance and determination to not provide him with a reaction that he may or may not have desired. She had only bristled further at the final, lingering gaze to her body. His eyes taking in her attire, the dress that he gave her, with no hurry whatsoever. He reminded her so much of some of the vipers in court. But at least he was more blunt and did not hide his true intentions.

However, such an interaction left her feeling less composed than usual. Perhaps it was something to do with the fact that she was not in an environment that she knew and knew she controlled. If things got out of hand, she knew a simple flick of her fingers would have the guards marching towards her to escort out her offending guest. But here... here no such thing would happen. She held no element of control. Even what remotely felt like hers before: her clothes, her hair, her body, her emotions. They all felt compromised and at risk.

Uncertain as to if her captor would return, Elswyth didn't dare to occupy the plain bed in the one corner of the room. She didn't want to be caught out and thus decided to occupy the chair she had been stood next to during their earlier exchange when it came time to try and settle for some sleep.

The next morning, she woke with a start at the heavy knock on the door, only to wince and raise a hand to her neck as a twinge sharply greeted her as a result of sleeping awkwardly in the armchair. Her lips pursed at the pain, the princess straightening in the seat only for the movement to welcome more spasms and cramps.

Her lips parted to call out and tell the person to come in, but she paused before any noise escaped her. What if it was someone else looking for their supposed captain? What if they came in and saw her and decided to try and take advantage of her in their leader's absence? Was the door even unlocked and was it possible to open it from her side? Did he feel confident enough in her lack of ability in swimming, and trust his crew enough, to leave the room unsecure?

Hesitantly, Elswyth pushed herself out of the chair and made her way over to the door, pausing just to the side of it as she tried to figure out how to handle the situation.

"...Who-- who is it?"

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Who can it be? Haakon thought savagely, the remark nearly passing over his lips in a sharp glib before he reared himself back, instead allowing it to escape his lips in a deep sigh as he composed himself.

“Are you decent?” he questions instead before recalling that the dress he had given her yesterday was never decent to begin with, an annoyed groan following after before he clicked open the lock, “better hide behind that screen again,” Haakon warns the lady before he stepped in, eyes fixated on the bookshelf that usually greeted him from the other side of the room as he slammed the door shut.

“I got you a new dress,” was the next thing Haakon said as he threw the bundle of fabrics into the general direction of where the screen was, the throw rather awkward as the man still didn’t dare to look away from the bookshelf where he repeated the sequence of titles he had stacked in there.

"It is bigger, but if that doesn't fit you can borrow mine," the male followed, praying to whatever it was that listened to his wishes that the dress would fit.

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



Despite being alone, Elswyth smothered the temptation to roll her eyes at the sound of the male's voice. She scoffed softly, though, and turned away from the door, walking away and back towards the chair that she had previously occupied. However, his warning and his entering the room came too soon after one another for her to make any real progress with getting behind the screen as instructed.

The princess moved towards it, but was nowhere near close to being hidden by it by the time he came in and threw the pieces of clothing in her general direction. A scowl overcame her expression, despite her best intentions, at his behaviour. There were no uttered words of thanks or what could be passed as gratitude, with Elswyth simply choosing to gather the dress up in her arms hastily.

With no word to him (since she had been taught to say nothing if she had no nice thing to say), the young woman eventually stepped around and onto the other side of the screen. The pieces of clothing he provided were soon thrown over the top to sit on the edge, ready for her to pull down as and when they were necessary. In the silence, the clothing she wore in that moment soon made their own appearance on the edge.

"...How much longer?" She finally dared to ask as she changed, relieved to find that the dress fit her better than the previous one. Even if it was a little lower cut across the bosom area than she anticipated. "Until we reach whatever land you're forcing me to start a new life on?"

Elswyth was unable to help her little quip, yet was also grateful to have the screen between them both so she could avoid (if only for now) the looks he would provide and the attempts of intimidation - it was only morning and she was hoping for some food before having to steel her spine against them again.
 

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“Not,” Haakon answered, making his decision there and then, eyes trailing over the dinner of last night that was still untouched. It reminded him that he hadn’t eaten anything either since yesterday, his stomach a bit grumpy at its current state when Haakon tentatively reached out for a piece of bread that was by now stale. Not that beggars were choosers, and so he brought it to his lips anyway to nibble on.

“You are too dangerous,” the male explained as he wiped his lips, the crumbs hard and tough and making his mouth dryer than comfortable. He had meant to say ‘treacherous’, but there was no treachery when there was no loyalty to begin with. “I don’t expect you to make yourself useful on the ship, nor will I ask you to, other than tasking you to stay in my sight,” Haakon explained cooly, as if it wasn’t an extra charge for him as well to always have the noble lingering around him as well. But it was the only thing he could think of.

“You should eat something, unless you want to fit the old dress,” the male spoke after a short pause, “you will be around for a while, and going on a hunger strike will do no one any favours,” Haakon elaborated, reaching for the grapes that were, fortunately, in a better state than the bread, or the cheese set on the table.

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio



"...So that's it? You're content to just... be my nanny for the rest of our days?"

Elswyth stepped out from behind the screen with the old dress bundled up in front of her chest and her fingers lost within the folds of the material. Her brows flickered between raising with her surprise and frowning with her confusion at his decision, having thought that a different one would have been made. She knew it would be a hassle to return her to Hauviel, but surely a moment of irritation was better than a lifetime (since that was the impression she got that it would undoubtedly be).

"Can't you just... have two or three of your men take me back to Hauviel? Surely you have a little rowboat attached to this ship. It's adequate to enough to have that facility." The princess moved to sit opposite where he stood, leaving the food between them and lowering her previous dress down to her lap.

She had to wonder how much thought he had put into his decision. While he wasn't aware of her ranking, she also had to be considerate of what would be happening back home. They would know she was missing. A missing princess was never going to stay quiet for long. How quickly would news spread? How much time would it take for a reward to be put out? Would their destination hear about it before they even arrived?

Her lips dipped at the corners and her face paled as she allowed all her thoughts to wash over her, threatening to drown her. Would they kill her for who she was? They didn't exactly seem very pro-D'Ambrisio. Or pro monarchy in any sense, for that matter. They were bandits and thieves, after all.

Convincing him that returning her to even the ports of Hauviel was something she had to do.

Clearing her throat, she gave a small and brief shake of her head and straightened her posture by pushing back her shoulders and strengthening her spine. Her hands moved to rest on top of the old dress and she forced herself to look up at the man before her, brow furrowing. "You've made it very clear how much of an inconvenience I am-- although I hardly see it as my fault, if you hadn't stolen the cart in the first place then we wouldn't be in this mess--"
 
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HAAKON FREDERIC NISSEN
“Listen, princess,” Haakon spat, fingers digging into the side of his head. He was tired, he was cranky, Haakon didn’t have the mood to humour her. The night had been long and with the woman around the day was proving itself to be even longer now. Taking in a deep breath the male shut his eyes for a moment, trying to calm himself down as he didn’t want to lose his cool. Not in front of the pampered lady that was out there to raise his blood levels.

“The answer is no, argue again and I will cut out your tongue,” the male threatened nonetheless, despite his better thoughts. The snap was out, and it was too late to take it back now that they had come out. “No one asked you to escape your cosy little life either,” was his final remark before he pushed himself off his seat, his back turning to the bed at the other end, finding that it was untouched as much as the rest of the room was. It calmed him down to know that she had as little sleep in as he had, a sort of satisfying glee.

No one had asked the D’Ambrisio to steal his father’s crown and murder his parents to boot. Yet it had happened and none could change that.

“Life isn’t going to give in to all your demands, better learn that now,” Haakon said before letting himself sink in his bed, welcoming the harshness of the worn mattress and the pillows that came along, the familiar scent of his own.

It was the last thing he was willing to say for a while, mind wandering as he rested himself.

Speech colour: #5b807e
 

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Elswyth Mary D'Ambrisio


Her head jolted back at his snap, blinking at the sharpness of his retort but then feeling her own irritation bubble up at being spoken to in such a way. Even prior to being princess, she had still been from a wealthy and respected family. No one ever dared speak to her in such a manner - not her tutors, her governess or her maids. Her father spoke sternly and firmly at times, of course, she was his child. But never with the sort of heated anger that was just displayed.

Then there was also the brief flare of fear at him titling her as 'princess', until she came to realise that it was merely him being pedantic. It came again at the threat of cutting out her tongue, but while she was briefly taken aback, Elswyth refused to be silenced by threats.

Her fingers had tightened around the material of her former dress, strangling the piece of clothing as he turned away from her to become comfortable on his bed. Her gathering infuriation in part to, as he rightfully suspected, her lack of sleep. The chair had been uncomfortable and sleeping upright never made for a good night of rest. The two of them both irritable and cranky would not do either of them any favours, and she realised that she was going to have to be the one to acknowledge that. And take the high ground.

"...I did not want to escape my life. If you are going to throw accusations around like that, then you ought to have your facts correct before doing so." She sniffed quietly, turning her head away from him as she knew looking at him would only serve to encourage her annoyance.

After a moment of silence, she stood and walked to his desk. Her fingers reached out to graze over the tops of the maps that covered the surface before she moved on to where his books were kept. The tip of her index finger slipped over the spine of each until she pulled one out to look through it. All the while taking in deep breaths to compose herself.

"You say I'm dangerous. How am I so? You return me home and you'll never be caught. I won't say a word. I promise. You'll continue to live your life as you are now - free." She murmured finally, unable to help herself.