CLOSED Roses and Stars

Discussion in 'RONAAN'S REALM' started by rissa, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. The House of Jan’Visil was a beast of many hides - from outside it bore the same stoney construction as the other great buildings of Caershire. What lay within, however, was a monument to the vanity of the late Jan’Visil and his sizable brood; fourteen children, all of them rich, and all of them encapsulating the very best and the very worst of excess. The walls were the white of hardened, harvested ivory, somehow skillfully coalesced with the black of ebony. Splotches and stripes of black on white, or perhaps white on black.

    Those who paid homage to Jan’Visil paid homage through currency. Currency, and silence. Not true silence, but the soft ambience of whispers. Whispers, the Sons of Jan’Visil decided, were welcome. Pure, black silence was stoic and too solemn by far. Hushed whispers, on the other hand, sounded almost reverent, almost like prayer. Scores of patrons sat upon seats half-ebony, half-ivory, in worship of the only thing that mattered to them: currency and the power it held over the wonders of this world.

    The Fourteen Son of Jan’Visil was born Runa Jan’Visil. Now, he was Master of Auctions. He spoke in slow drawl, measuring every word and - Aarcon believed he could almost sympathize in the following regard - savoring every syllable. There was little in his speech - the part and parcel welcomings of the elite rich - that required deliberation, but Aarcon could almost hear the satisfaction in his voice. The almost seductive feel that came with powerful people hanging on one’s every word.

    “Welcome, to the sixty-eighth gathering. The House, of Jan’Visil, cordially greets each, and every one, of its esteemed patrons…”

    Ruven Ralow was too base by far for an ‘event’ such as this. There was something approaching desperation in the way Ruven Ralow shifted in his own seat, impatiently waiting for one word to fade away into the next. Aarcon could only chuckle. The average Auction Master spoke at blistering pace, the Auction Masters of the House Jan’Visil spoke slowly, to reaffirm the crux of their House. The items did not matter - not to Jan’Visils sons, at least - but the House mattered.

    A great many artifact and wonder was announced, at a pace Runa Jan’Visil deemed brisk. Twin blades of gold and platinum. A miniature sky-ship that hovered indefinitely within a container of glass. The fastest steed in all of Orcosi - though Aarcon had his doubts, and four tigers from opposite the world. That had been a scene, as the fiercest tiger of the four had mauled the unlucky servant of its purchaser, to the uproarious applause of the House’s patrons. A tiger without bite, after all, was no wonder.

    “The Tome,” said Ruven, eagle-eyed despite approaching a state of bored slumber, “Of Roneeya Rochaan. What’s the plan here? I’m thinking increments of five thousand. Ten thousand if they press us. Abstain for four or five bids, then jump in.”

    Two thousand.
    Two thousand four hundred.
    Three thousand.
    Three thousand five hundred.


    “Four thou-” Ruven began, before Aarcon stood, like a bent flower unfurling against the wind.

    “Twenty thousand.” He intoned, almost dispassionately.

    The veil of whispers was broken, as the House of Jan’Visil and its patrons burst into uproarious applause, and Ruven Ralow inquired as to ”what the fuck is wrong with you?”. To a rich man, sound business savvy was commendable. To a flock of rich men in a House built on vanity, to spend without inhibition was aspirational.
     
    #41 Shizuochan, Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
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  2. Iskaya Skarrat



    The Ka'Lene glanced about her nervously. This was absolutely the last place she wanted to be, stuck with a knight's escort headed towards a rather imposing lady up on the hill. She had to get back to the rendezvous to meet with Bellamy to enact his absolutely, positively, most definitely insane plan, but she was unsure how she was supposed to do that with Master Shiny right next to her. There was also the fact that there was possible evidence of a certain missing princess stuck in this cart, a fact that would surely have her head lopped off with a rusty, dull ax.

    Her hands tightened on the reins as she led the horses in the direction that the knight had gestured her towards, her face carefully composed into a mask over the panicky feelings she felt rise within her. She did not believe so much in the rule of thinking beings, but she did believe in the power of a good club to the head with the pommel of a sword. She wasn't about to get out of here by dashing away. No, she would play their game for now until she had a moment to go her own way.

    "I ask again, is there a reason why you happen to be leading me towards you superior? Pardon, but it makes me nervous to reach this 'rendez-vous'. I am perfectly capable of protecting my own cart," Iskaya stated flatly, flicking the reins to her horses to speed them by. Behind her, the centaurs seemed to have finally calmed down.

    @Dismas @rissa
     
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  3. Alora Fortune

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    We wish to speak with the volqaar.” Bellamy said in their raspy tongue, repeating the Baron’s command forcefully.

    The centaur flicked his tail and motioned the pair of them forward. The earthy musk would be overwhelming to one who never experienced it before and while not repugnant, the scent was strong. The rest of the horde allowed them passage, stepping aside and looking down at them with large almond eyes. Their faces were human-like, with equine features and an abundance of hair. Though their torso was shaped like man's, they had the proportions of such a beastly creature.

    "Why are you here?" The volqaar said in the common tongue of RoNaan's Realm. "Son of Khalel has done nothing since the the Battle of the Hills. Why?"

    The centaurs nearest stomped their hooves and snorted loudly, their eyes burning with rage. But with a wave of the volqaar's hand, they fell still and she continued once more, this time turning her eyes on the young princess. "By what name does the Mistress of Water call herself? You are his mate, yes?"

    "I am Princess Alora Elianna Fortune of Gabranth..." Her eyes flickered briefly to Bellamy and for a moment lingered, remembering well his words as they approached the petrifying throng. Breathing out, she returned her gaze to the centaur, "And yes. I am."

    His hold on Alora tightened, if but for a moment when she replied. It shouldn't have made him feel so... good, to hear that come from Alora, but it did, and ever so softly his lips rose into a lopsided grin. It was hard for him to tell if the volqaar noticed, and truth be told he didn't care as long as she believed them. And perhaps she did, because the elder didn't have them executed.

    Nodding her head, silver and black tresses that almost reached the ground swayed until finally she gave a command in her native tongue and beckoned them forward. The surrounding centaurs backed even further away while the volqaar turned and waited for them to reach her side.

    "A union worthy of Southmar." She replied in a short rasp, bowing her head slightly. "Barlq, with me. Tormut you will lead the tribe back to camp. The machine is not worth our time anymore." In the common tongue once more, the volqaar said, "Far from home you are and with a fool of a king. Why you here? Have you come to fulfil your forefathers oaths?"

    It was Alora's turn, then, to tighten her grasp, however it was not excitement that betrayed her reaction, but shock at the words spoken to her. Fool of a king... but surely...

    "...I... I suppose I have, yes." She answered, then nodded.

    The volqaar squinted her eyes in return, wondering if the young woman was telling the truth. And after such desperate measures. She turned her eyes on Bellamy, her stare hardening. She still hadn't forgiven him, not after half a century. He fought valiantly, true, for their side, but he left them without a way to secure their victories, and not soon after were placed back under oppression by the crude survivors of the crumbling Southmar Empire.

    "Trust. Important to us. Is it to you? How do I know you speak the truth? How do I know you wont turn?"

    She glanced at Alora, her eyes softening ever so slightly. "You look like one of them. One of the Scepter's women. She's yet to find a mate though..." Trailing off, she turned and spoke to the black stallion on her other side while Bellamy whispered down to Alora.

    "Do you know what the oaths entail?" Bellamy asked in a rushed whisper, his eyes widening ever so slightly. "If we make a deal with them it must be fulfilled. And with centaurs you never know when they require it done. It could be a year from now, two months, or tomorrow. Tread careful--"

    "The Scepter's people has given us what we need. But they murder. Our Mothers do not like them. Will you fulfill the oaths of your forefathers? Will you cast peace across the minds of my people?"

    Without looking to the man beside her, unsure she could hold her composure if she did, Alora instead kept watch on the centaur, her voice quivering with emotion, but utterly devoid of deception, "I've no desire to see anyone suffer. I will do what I must."

    The volqaar made an odd expression, her tail flicking absentmindedly as her brows furrowed and further elongated her face. She turned to Bellamy and spoke in her native tongue.

    "Why did the machine send you, Kahlel?"

    "He didn't," Bellamy mumbled, annoyance leaking into his features at her use of that name. "Alora and I offered to come... To find a way to end our mutual bloodshed."

    The volqaar snorted and shared a glance with her mate. He made a comment too low to hear which in turn caused her to furrow her brows deeper in thought. After a moment, Bellamy cleared his throat and made a risky move.

    "Scepter?" He asked in the common tongue so Alora could understand. "Who is Scepter?"

    "You'll soon know." The volqaar replied in a clipped tone. For a few moments she was silent, her eyes distant and unfocused. They stood in a shallow clearing, a fair distance from the retreating centaur horde. The many hooves against the ground was an earthly melody that Bells focused on. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the volqaar spoke once more.

    "If what you say is true then I will believe you. I will not call off the Scepter until your path is fulfilled: so be warned-"

    "Call off?" Bellamy interrupted, unease washing through him. "What do-"

    "Silence yourself. " Barlq snapped haughtily.

    The volqaar glanced between both men before turning her eyes on Alora. There was a stillness to the clearing that was palpable in this moment as the two shared a look. The volqaar walked forward, her silver and black recesses swaying, matching the dappled silver of her hindquarters. Bell squeezed Alora's hand in the only moral support he could currently give her.

    "Will you, Princess of Gabranth, Mistress of Water, full your forefathers oaths and bring peace to my people?" She extended her bony hand for an embrace. "Will you bring back Southmar of Old?"

    Alora straightened, and as Bellamy tightened his grip on her hand, she returned the gesture with a lighter one... her voice a stream of gentle determination, no fear evident, despite the subtle tremor that coursed through her. Her eyes fixed on the centaur woman and slowly, she bowed her head, "I will. You have my word, I will."

    The volqaar nodded her head and grasped Alora's right hand with both of her bony hands. At the moment of contact a warm rush of energy would travel through Alora's arm and throughout her body. It wasn't painful, though it may be alarming. Smiling, the volqaar stepped away, glancing down at her wrist. Upon it, a thin gold and black band appeared, glowed for a moment, and then faded into her skin. Alora would find the same marking on her wrist.

    "I will take my people and depart, back to our home lands, per the oaths conditions. You have six months, Kahlel and Alora... Six months. May our Mothers guide you."

    As they returned to the raft through the passage Alora had created, the princess stared at her wrist with a curious expression. There were so many questions... Too many questions, and most of them had something to do with what had happened, but one in particular burned in the back of her mind. Reaching their destination, and returning back on board, Alora let the waters fall back into place before she turned to Bellamy, fixing the man with an expression that suggested it would not be in his best interests to argue, "...We need to talk."

    "I..." He shifted his weight from one foot to another before glancing back at her shly. "I agree. Just ah... I should talk to the Baron first. Would you like to.. stay on deck or retreat inside to talk...?"

    "Inside. I imagine you don't want what I have to say overheard by just anyone."

    Clearing his throat and nodding his head, Bellamy withdrew the key to their room and handed it over. "I won't be long."

    Taking the key, Alora nodded. For a moment, she hesitated, almost uncertain, before she turned and made her way back in the direction she had come with the Baron. She found the room, after a pause and stepping back inside, sank down on the edge of the bunk, the key still clenched in her grasp like a lifeline, keeping her from the grip of panic.

    Relaying the events to the Baron didn't take long at all. The Baron wanted to get further down river, his implanted drive urging him forward now that the raft was out of danger. He left him under the scrutinizing gaze of the Doorman who wanted each and every detail. As quickly as he could Bellamy made his way to the room. He took a deep breath before entering, feeling anxious and dreadful and resigned all at once.

    He barely glanced at her as he walked into the room, unsheathed his sword and settled himself on the floor, back against the wall and facing Alora. "So," he said with a small chuckle despite the tension he felt. "Where do we begin?"

    Her eyes moved when he entered, and he had barely sank to the ground before she spoke, her voice sharper than she meant for it to sound, her gaze boring into him with certain and unyielding focus, "Who the hell are you, Bellamy? I'm not stupid enough to think that they weren't talking about you back there. And I seriously doubt that the Centaur are even capable of humor. King? I want the truth... Who are you, and what in Ronaan's name is going on here? What oath did I just make?"

    "My name, my real name is Renwyck Kahlel." Bellamy mumbled, his shoulders caving. "Heir to Southmar of Old. The lost prince, pft." He huffed out, eyes distant from his surroundings. "After my father was murdered, the High Lord of Gabranth, a priestess of Emeraldy, and Lord Marloe of Marbalea met with the Centaurs almost a century ago. You see, at the time we were at war with Vashskara and they knew they couldn't win against us all. That's why the murdered my family, I think; the line of Summer Kings had kept peace for too long, united us against them. We fought foreign invaders on one front and relentless Centaurs on another...

    "They met with volqaar Rahkesh, the very one we just spoke to. She took the path of reason, made them take an oath to see Southmar reunited, to ensure that her lands, the Hills of Marbalea were no longer encroached upon."

    Bellamy shrugged, "We know they didn't succeed, obviously. Due in part to my own selfishness; no one knew I was alive... Everyone assumed they killed me too. Nevermind they never had a body..."

    Taking a deep breath, he looked up at Alora with desperate eyes. "I can't be the person this country needs, but I... We can do our best to reunite what once was, by whatever means."

    "Southmar..." The word was whispered, as Alora traced the spot on her wrist where the marking had appeared after her promise, the color draining from her cheeks.

    "You... you knew. You knew what the oath was, and you let me... You let me make it. I've just agreed to destroy everything my family has. To overthrow my own kingdom. My own father and you knew! Is... is that why you... Why you brought me along?"

    Turning her gaze to him, her eyes narrowed, "No. You will be the person this country deserves, Bellamy. Or I will have no part in this. It your duty... And I will not unseat my father, if you are not willing to do your part."

    A great heavy sigh emanated from Bellamy and for a moment, a wide range of emotions flashed across his face. His eyes darkened and he shook his head before covering his face. There were too many variables he had to deal with as it was, the last thing he needed was to worry about an empire a hundred years diminished. Besides, if he succeeded, he could help usher in a way of life even better than what was.

    "I've told you already, the intentions of my people and why you, specifically, are so dear to our success. I may have not elaborated... But yes, Alora, if you and I succeed, your father will be the last King of Gabranth. Your brother will not inherit the throne as there will be no throne. Don't you see? There will be no kings, not even me!"

    Eyes red, he gazed up at Alora, searching, wondering why she couldn't see what that meant. "Southmar can be reunited Alora, but on our terms. And our terms include what is best for everyone, not just those who are high born like you and I." He sighed once more, shoulders sagging against the weight of what seemed like impossibility.

    "I will keep you safe Alora, protect you with my life... but I need you to witness why this world must change."

    "No kings? Bellamy... Are you mad? What do you think will happen to the people with no one to rule them? With no one to guide them or protect them? Do you imagine that those who oppose you will just lay down their crowns and give up? If you leave even the smallest margin for them, they will take full advantage. My brother... He... he's dangerous."

    Shifting, she wrapped her arms around herself, eyes cast down, "I've never met anyone who scares me the way that he does. My life isn't the only one at risk here. He will go to war before he gives up his throne. But to try and remove the monarchy all together? To leave nothing in its place? You're opening the door for catastrophe."

    He snorted and let out another one of those barking laughs. "I may be mad, yeah, but c'mon. I'm not a complete idiot ya' know." He rolled his eyes as a shadow of a grin passed over his lips.

    Shaking his head slightly, Bell grew serious once more. What she revealed troubled him, if it didn't necessarily surprise him. War was inevitable, that much he knew. That much he banked on. But against who? Each other? Or foreign foes? And the bit about her brother... the way she drew into herself like that. Bellamy frowned, choosing his words carefully.

    "I never intended to leave my people without protection, without guidance. In the monarchies place we wish to see an inter-realm council. A council filled with members chosen by the people in their own realms. Marbalea, Emeraldy, and Gabranth are sister kingdoms, Alora. No matter how hard we fight against each other, we're connected, we always have been. It's time to reunite them in a way the line of Summer Kings never could.

    "And it's people like your brother... People who would do anything, even jeopardize their own people for the crown... We cannot grow with people like that ruling us. They'll stifle our freedoms and will to create new visions of the world until we no longer know how to rebel and fight for something new."

    "But who governs the council, Bellamy? Who ensures that they're doing their job?" Looking to him again, she studied him for a moment, her gaze curious, "...There is nothing in this world that I would not do to see to it my brother doesn't gain one ounce of control... not over anything. But how do you plan to stop him? How do you plan to stop any of them?"

    "Laws are being drafted by defectors of all three kingdoms," Bellamy said dismissively with a wave of his hand. "At this point, none of that matters... nothing at this point matters except ensnaring the minds of both high and low born folks.... At the Solaeya Solstice.

    "Hundreds of thousands of people gather there, Alora. They flock to Marbalea in the hopes that something will change. And finally, this year it will. Once we arrive, it'll be easier to explain the intricacies..."

    He looked thoughtful as he digested the last of her words, and a flash of fear ignited in his eyes before he continued.

    "There are some who believe in this cause that will stop at nothing. I... I just want to see my people safe, but I fear it will come to war no matter what happens."

    "You've missed the point, Bellamy." With a sigh, she shifted off the bunk, moving to kneel before him, her eyes holding his, determined.

    "Whatever you think the people are capable of... they are too accustomed to being led, to being ruled. You'll entrance them with the pretty notions of self governing, but in the end, they won't understand. They will look for a king. They will always look for a king, Bell. And if you aren't willing to step into that position, someone else will. Someone like Tennison, who will not hesitate to turn your vision into his own twisted tyrannical utopia."

    Lowering her gaze, she shook her head, "They aren't ready to exist without guidance... As much as you think they are." Looking at him again, she reached to cup her hands over his, "That is not the first time you called them your people. If you show them that same devotion at the galas, they will follow you?"

    For a long while he said nothing, did nothing except stare at the delicate hands holding his. Memories of the past swirled within his mind's eye and for a moment, he wondered if his sister's hands would have been unblemished... perfect as Alora Fortune's. Almost shyly, Bellamy glanced up into Alora's eyes and let the remainder of his walls crumble around him.

    "I was barely eight years old when they came for my parents..." Bellamy said softly, eyes shifting away from Alora's face as he let go of his past. "My father used to say something similar, ya'know... He used to tell me that he wished for a simple life, one without so much responsibility-- But I suppose it is my responsibility, like it was his, to protect and guide my people...

    "I just... It's been a long time Alora, I don't know how to be king anymore."

    Slowly, he brought Alora's hand to his lips and placed a soft peck against her knuckles. "I am sorry... About all of this."

    "Which part?" Alora asked with a small dry smile, "Kidnapping me? Or involving me in some master plan to overthrow my family?" Eyes moving to his, she swallowed, color creeping into her skin.

    "I'm sorry, too. About your family. Whatever it takes, Bellamy... I will help you put it right again. Even if it means teaching you how to be a king, again. Your family... They will not have died for nothing. I swear it..."

    "Both," Bellamy said softly, his eyes reddening once more against his will. "And t..thank you."

    With a great sigh, he forced himself to smile, to let go of the past once more and stare not only at the beautiful woman before him, but at the hope that presided within. There wasn't much time... but maybe, just maybe they could change the world.

    "I don't know about you," Bellamy said through a yawn, "But I didn't get much sleep last night and the raft won't deliver us to our destination for a few hours more. Maybe bugger the Baron for some food after a quick nap?"

    Bowing her head, Alora rose again, returning to the bunk, "Sleep might do us both some good. Will..." Knitting her hands together, she lowered her gaze, her fingers brushing her wrist again, "Will you stay close? After all that's happened, I'm not terribly fond of the idea of being on my own."


    Returning the smile, Alora watched him for a moment, curiously, before sinking down onto the cot.

    The weight of exhaustion was a creeping, heavy thing and before long she had sunken into it, drifting off. Unfortunately, it was not to be long lived. Before the hour was up, with a quiet whimper, Alora had begun to toss and turn. The soft murmuring turned more noted, frantic and desperate until with a strangled scream, she bolted upright, hand pressed to her heart in terror.

    "Alora?"

    Half asleep, Bellamy jerked himself into a fighting stance, left arm sweeping out to draw his sword. It took a moment for him to realize no one could have broken into the room and that her screams were from an entirely different threat.

    "Alora... Everything okay?"

    It took more than a moment to shake out of the grip of the dreams, and as she pulled her knees to her chest, quivering, Alora shook her head, her voice squeaking out in a whisper, "I'm fine... It's nothing..." Breathing out, she raked her fingers through her hair, before leaning her forehead to her legs, "I'm fine."

    Sleep faded fast and rubbing the last of it from his eyes, Bellamy took a few steps forward. He placed his sword on the table and moved one of the chairs closer to the bed. He sat down with a soft sigh, brows furrowing softly as he watched Alora collapse within herself.

    "Doesn't seem like you're fine... C'mon, what is it?"

    Breathing out, she tipped her head to look at him, her lip curling in a gentle frown, "It was... I know it was just a dream, but they're so real, sometimes. I feel as though I'll never wake. Sometimes it's so bad, I fear I've seen the future..."

    "What did you see?" Bellamy said softly, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the bed. His eyes found hers and he nodded softly, urging her to continue.

    Swallowing, she looked away, her voice breaking on a note of fear, "My brother."

    "Earlier I thought he made you nervous, but... You're afraid of him, aren't you?" Ignoring formalities, Bellamy seated himself on the bed and reached out for Alora's hand. He liked the way it melded to his own.

    "What has he done," Bellamy asked softly, "For you to be so afraid of him?"

    Flinching at the thought, she stared down at his hand, her own trembling in his grasp, "...Tennison... He... he isn't quite right. He's never been. There's something wrong with him. Father pretends that it's just ambitions, but I've seen things in him. The things he says and things he's done to others... But it's more than that. I... I used to think he hated me. Yet as I got older, he only paid more mind to me. The way he looks at me... It's not proper. And he was so angry, when Father agreed to my engagement... Furious." Breathing out, she looked up again, her eyes damp, "He's obsessed with power, Bellamy. Political power... power over people. He wants what he can't have and he will stop at nothing to get it."

    Squeezing her hand against its trembling, Bellamy listened to Alora speak with rapt attention and a speeding heart. He couldn't stop himself from wondering what horrors a prince could commit against his own sister, however. He had witnessed (and intervened) one too many acts of atrocities, especially at the hands of men-- against the flesh of women. And if he despised anyone, it was those kinds of men.

    "I'm sorry, I can't imagine..." Bellamy replied finally, unsure if that was even satisfactory. "May I ask you something?"

    Blinking, she looked up with a small nod, "Of course..."

    "I-"

    A sharp knock rented through the small room and Bellamy flinched, smacking the back of his head against the wall. He stood with an apologetic frown and opened the door. The Baron was waiting with a large serving tray laden with food and the commoner woman from outside stood at his elbow, a silver pitcher in her grasp.

    "No charge," The Baron said with a dip of his head. "Place the summer-wine there, Oleyne, and let us depart."

    Bellamy dipped his head in thanks, retrieved the tray and placed it in the middle of the bed. The door clicked softly into place and after grabbing the wine, sat directly across from Alora.

    "So, eat first and then talk? Or both at the same time?"

    Alora had jumped at the knock, heart giving a jolt, and even as the Baron arrived with food, she did not seem comforted. For however hungry she was, the lingering memory of the dream still clung, destroying whatever appetite she might've had.

    "I can manage both.." She answered, nodding.

    Smiling softly, Bellamy helped himself to bits of this and that and only when he reached for one of the two silver flutes resting upon the tray, did he continue.

    "Before we were interrupted, I was going to ask if anyone had stood against Tennison before." He poured himself some of the Baron's infamous watered-down-wine and motioned towards the other flute, inquiring silently if she wished to have some too. "Surely someone has had to! He sounds terrible, no offensive of course," A slight flush creeped up his neck as he continued. "It's just... well, it sounds like he needs a rude awakening."

    Reaching for the flute, Alora held it in her hands, which had finally ceased shaking, "My father is afraid of him... His rage. It's terrifying. But more than his anger, it's his manipulative behavior. He's got my mother wrapped around his finger... And he can be quite charming when he needs to..." Lowering her gaze, she touched the rim of the glass, absently drawing a circle, "I would not ask you to endanger yourself, for my sake, Bellamy."

    Lifting her chin with his finger, Bellamy smiled softly as their eyes met. "I'm not sure if you've noticed, love, but endangering myself is what I do best."

    He leaned back with a wicked grin that quickly dissolved as his brows furrowed. "Besides, it is men like your brother whom I must stand against if we intend to carve a path for the new world," Bellamy shook his head with a small huff of a laugh. "You Gabranthian's love your duels, maybe I can ask 'em for lesson or two." When he smiled again there was a hardness that radiated from his eyes.

    Her cheeks flushed at his words, lending color to pale skin, but the corner of her mouth turned up slightly and she shook her head, "Doesn't mean you ought to do it on my account..."

    Biting her cheek, to took a pull from her glass, "We'll leave those thoughts, perhaps... Until they prove necessary. Though if it's a lesson you want, I can give you one. Father would die from the shock if he knew... But I've been studying. I find it rather fascinating, and why shouldn't women learn, after all?"

    Leaning forward on his elbows, Bellamy flashed Alora another grin. He would keep talks of chivalry and duels at a minimum if... "Absolutely," Bellamy replied quickly. "Men and women both should be taught warfare. It was something my father believed in too. He, like me, had a trusty, womanly, right-hand. Iskaya-" He flinched slightly, remembering Alora sausaged within the rug. "She's not as ...rough... as she might seem, but y-yes, I've found women are just as, if not more capable than men.

    "And I'd love to spar with you, Alora. Consider it done, y'know, as soon as we arrive at our destination."

    "She's terrifying... But I'm entirely sure she means to be. You though... You're not what I expected." Smiling faintly, Alora shrugged, "I disdain violence... But swordplay... It's always been enticing. It's so much like a dance."

    Humming thoughtfully, she leaned forward in her chair, "I shall try my best not to thrash you, entirely."

    "I look forward to it," Bellamy quipped, leaning in once again. His face flushed slightly and he busied himself with a few choice pickings from the tray. After a moment he glanced up and with a wry smile asked, "And what... exactly did you expect?"

    "Well... One generally has a predisposed notion that their kidnappers will be horrible, wretched people. Of course... I suppose this isn't an average abduction, either." Sitting back, she studied him, a brow quirked, "You're refreshing, Bellamy. A far cry from the sort I'm normally forced to endure. And charming..."

    Smiling, she shook her head, "To be perfectly honest, this all feels more like a rescue, than a kidnapping."

    "Originally, that's how this... debacle was supposed to take place." Bellamy said softly, fighting against a terribly infectious smile. "And thank you, I uh, I know this journey didn't start off too well, but I swear on my honor it will get better."

    There was a drawing silence before he continued. "We should have started our mission in Gabranth, ya'know, you could have helped us immensely these past few months... And I could have done something about that brother of yours."

    "...I'm sure it would have been better than being wrapped in a rug, anyway." With a small sigh, she sat back, "Maybe it's better this way. A few months ago, I was someone very different. I thought the world only existed within my little bower, and I was content believing that. Something changes within you, when you start to see things for what they actually are. And not enough people will ever reach that point. I almost didn't."

    Lowering her gaze again, she shook her head, "I don't want to go back to the way things were. With you, maybe I stand a chance of doing something more worthwhile than bearing children for a man twice my age, who thinks reading is for men and women ought not to be seen or heard." Smiling faintly, her eyes turned back up to his again, lingering, "...I suppose you really did rescue me, Your Majesty."

    There was a moment, too small and insignificant to take conscious notice of, where his heart skipped a beat. Your Majesty. How long had it been, since someone addressed him as that? Glancing away with a flushed and indecisive face, he bided time by draining his flute of summer-wine. Almost shyly, Bells smiled and looked over at Alora.

    "I will see to it you have every opportunity to seize your fate."

    "...Why?" The word was spoken quietly, and for a moment, Alora lowered her gaze, tracing her fingertip along the edge of her glass, "I know you have need for me, Bellamy, or I would not be here. but beyond your intentions for this council... why would you..."

    Smiling faintly, she set down her glass, looking up at him, "You've so much to concentrate on. You shouldn't worry yourself about my fate."

    "Why not?" Bellamy said the words almost confusedly, his brows furrowing in thought. "Why would I allow a woman, or a-anyone for that matter, in need to go without?" With a sigh, he shook his head sadly. "Since I was young people have always told me my kindness would be my downfall, but without it, without me offering aid to those who've needed it, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't be the same person I am today...

    "Not to mention you deserve to be free, Alora. You deserve happiness of your own choosing. Everyone does."

    "Free..." With a small sigh, the smile faded, "I'm not even sure I understand what that means, anymore. I used to think I was free. But I suppose we're all beneath one thumb or another. For what it's worth, I'm glad you didn't listen to them." Reaching out, she cupped her hand gingerly over his own, "Whatever you decide... whether it's to rule, or simply to be the catalyst for a new age... you are a good man."

    "I- ...thank you... Alora." He didn't know what to say, so he twisted his hand until he was holding hers and gave it a gentle squeeze.

    For the rest of the morning the pair hunkered down in the room, talking and reminiscing until finally the Baron's voice announced their arrival in the township of Carvalho.

    TAGS || collab with @rissa
     
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