The Seven Seals

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
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Esmera had not slept well. Despite what had happened in the gardens shortly before they returned to their room, or perhaps in light of it, her mind had been far too transfixed on the myriad emotions to rest for more than but a few minutes, and the weight of exhaustion crept over her sometime early in the morning, when the rest of the castle was waking. Brennan, too, who in all his nobility still insisted upon the bench, seemed to find it difficult to rise, and so it was well after the sun had risen and bathed the castle in brilliance that the door opened rather suddenly with a curt knock.

Esme straightened swiftly, her heart hammering as she took in the sight of the queen, standing with a vaguely bemused expression as her gaze traveled between the bed and the chaise, the corner of her lip twitching up ever so slightly, “...Do not look so terrified, dear child. My husband has spent many a cold night on the benches in our chamber.” Turning to Brennan, she gave a knowing smirk, “Good morning, Darling. So sorry to intrude… Had I known you were still asleep, I would not have come in as I did. As it is, might I borrow your wife? It’s time we talked…”

Brennan had never felt more embarrassed as he sat up on the bench, a slight kink in his neck. He smiled shyly as he rubbed the back of his neck. It wasn’t trouble that put him on the bench, it was a sense of honor. His eyes travelled to Esmera upon hearing his mother’s request and smiled apologetically, “I suppose. It’s not like we were doing anything of importance.”

Her own cheeks reddening, Esme nodded and swinging her legs over the edge of the bed, she rose, “I’ll just--”

“No need to get dressed, Princess. Brennan… Would you mind?” Gesturing to the door, she smiled, “We won’t be long, and I’m sure your bride is hungry. Run to the kitchen… I believe they’ve leftover from breakfast.”

“Right. Yes, Mother,” Brennan moved to Esmera and pressed a quick, soft kiss against her cheek, “You’ll be fine,” he whispered.

Looking up at him, a small smile formed as she bowed her head, “...be quick.” She whispered back, before she turned to the queen, nodding to the chairs beside the fireplace, “Please… your Majesty. Sit. See you soon, Brennan.”

With a knowing smile, Brennan slipped through the door and headed toward the kitchen.

Moving to a chair, the queen settled into it, folding her hands in her lap, and as Esmera took the opposite seat, the woman’s warmth filled a smile. Reaching out, she collected one of Esmera’s hands, holding it gingerly, “Allow me a moment to speak openly… without interruption. When I’m finished, I assure you, you may say whatever you need. But for now, I ask you listen… I know my son, Lorraine. I know when he is happy, and I know when he is not. The day you married, that is the saddest I have ever seen him. This is not to discredit you, of course. You’re a lovely girl, and by no means do I suggest that you are at fault for his sorrow. I have always instilled in Brennan the sanctity of family obligations. Sacrifices must be made in order to successfully run a kingdom. And to him, marrying you was, indeed, quite a sacrifice.

But I have watched you both, over the past few weeks… and I find it curious how much things have changed. I wasn’t sure what to make of you, when first we met. You are… an impetuous creature, with quite the knack for putting men aflame with your words. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you know, I think you’ve come out on the wrong end with my husband and, it seems, my younger son. But for whatever reason, Brennan takes to you I see his heart turning, and if I am not completely wrong… I would suggest that his is not the only one.

Which is why I feel inclined to warn you, my dear. My husband is not cruel by nature. He tries his best to be a good man, and while the decisions that he makes are not always the best on the outward appearance, I know that his intentions are in the right place. But you are a source of contention for him, like nothing I have ever seen, and I confess, I worry for you. If my Brennan cares for you, the way that I believe he’s come to, he will do nearly anything for you. Including going against his father… But Edwin is King, and until such a time as that changes, his word is law. To be abided… by everyone. Including his son.

I understand that you have both seen the unfortunate ramifications of his ire… so know that when I tell you, you have not seen half of what he is capable, I am not being coy. He will do everything he can to destroy you, if you stand in his way, and if need be, Brennan as well. And I fear nothing in this world more than that notion. I beg of you, Lorraine… Whatever you need to do, however deep you need to bury those urges… I implore you, learn to be still. To obey. If not for yourself, then for my son.”

Staring at the woman’s hand, still clutching her own, Esmera’s expression remained focused and even as the queen spoke. It was difficult to hear, for many reasons, but none more than because she knew the woman was right, and as her heart gave a silent pang in her chest, she looked up, nodding, “I do not doubt that you are right. When I came here, to Etheren, I was angry. I was angry, and I felt justified in that anger. You said that our wedding was the saddest day of his life. For me, as well. But Brennan has shown me such devotion… and I… I find myself… I find that the way I feel about him has changed greatly, since then. I will do anything in my power to protect him, your Majesty. Anything. You have my word that I will do nothing to seek ill will with your husband, or Prince Gannon. It was never my intention to do so in the first place, but from now on, I will do whatever is possible on my part to repair the damages done.”

Smiling sadly, the queen released her hand and sat back with a nod, “...I do not doubt your words, Lorraine. Thank you.” Rising, the smile warmed as she stretched out her hand again, gently cupping Esmera’s jaw, turning her chin up, “You are a pretty thing… and you will make fair children. Perhaps less time on the bench, hmm?”

Her cheeks turning scarlet, Esme smiled and nodded, “...Yes, your Majesty. Indeed.”

His mother was right. There were pastries left over and all he had to do was ask for the fresh fruit. The platter was full as he made his trek back to their room. Just before he opened the door, though, he could hear the tail end of their conversation muffled through the door. His heart warmed at Esmera’s words, a smile forming at the words that confirmed the night before could be more than just the circumstances of the day. Then his mother spoke of children and Brennan thought it best to save Esmera.

Pushing through the door, he produced the platter, “I found some pastries and Stephan was kind enough to spare some strawberries, and a couple of bananas,” he looked to his mother and slumped his shoulders slightly, “Do I need to fetch something else or might I enjoy breakfast with my wife?”

Smirking, giving Brennan a look, the queen shook her head, “Hm… Thinks I can’t take a hint. I should stay, just for that cheek. But I’ll leave you two alone.” Bowing her head to Esmera, she crossed the room and pausing beside Brennan, she leaned over to kiss his cheek, “You be good to her, my darling. I’ll see you at dinner.”

With one last nod, she continued on her way out the door, and as it closed behind her, Esmera visibly relaxed back into her seat with a deep breath.

“...That was terrifying… Don’t ever leave me alone, again. Not ever.”

“I’m sure you did fine,” he slid the platter on the table between the chairs with a smile, “and I should have warned you it was coming, but with everything that’s happened the last few weeks, it didn’t cross my mind.”

Looking over at him, she swallowed and absently, reached for a strawberry from the tray, “Speaking of everything that's happened. Do… do we want to talk about last night?”

He fell into the chair his mother had been sitting in. His eyes turning to his hands as he recalled the touch of her skin...the taste of her lips, “I suppose we should,” his brow narrowed as he leaned forward, leaning his elbows on his knees, “You really need to work on your hiding.”

“Ha!” With a mock glare, Esme reached out her foot to nudge his elbows, “You clearly cheated! I barely heard you count to ten before you came after me.” A smile formed, and leaning back, she shook her head, “I'll remember that next time…”

After a chuckle, he cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably, “But that’s not what you were talking about.”

Looking over, she shook her head with a small, tender smile, “No… it's not.”

Fidgeting with his hands nervously, Brennan considered his words, “I kissed you,” he finally said plainly.

Fighting a grin at the awkwardness of his confession, she nodded, “Yes. I had that part sorted, actually. I was rather hoping you'd handle the ‘why' part?”

“Why?” he repeated and leaned back into the cushions, “I...You…,” he paused, looked at the wall and took a deep breath, “You’re not the woman I thought you were,” his blue orbs fell on her, “That woman was...a liar, cruel, the enemy, my prisoner, and my warden.”

Meeting his gaze, she gave a small nod of agreement. She had not been proud of the woman she'd become… but something had changed, just what, she still could not be entirely sure… She had changed, “And now…? What am I now, Bren?”

The corner of his lip turned up slightly at the nickname, “You are honest and trustworthy. You care for my-,” shaking his head, “our people, even those who were not Caleshan by birth. You are my prisoner no longer, nor do I feel as though you are my warden. You are kind, gentle, and fiery,” he smiled at the last,” and I…” he let his words trail off, afraid of what might come next should he make that confession.

“You aren't who I thought you were either. I've said before that your nobility does you credit, but I did not mean solely with your… hm. Our people. I see the man you are, and I can think of no one I would have by my side. You are kind and generous… And you…” Pausing, she smiled faintly as she recalled the words she had asked him at their wedding feast, “You make me happy.” Turning her eyes back to him, she nodded, reassuringly, “Say it…? Whatever it is… I want to hear it.”

“When I saw you in the garden last night,” he started as he stood to his feet. Despite her encouragement, Brennan was having a difficult time, “the way the moonlight seemed to shine on only you, I didn’t see Esmera, the imposter resolved to secret off vital information to her father. I saw a woman who slipped into the darkness to care for a common man. I saw a woman who fought to meet the needs of her servant. Do you know how many princesses in Etheren would do what you did for servants and peasants?” his brow raised with the corners of his lips, “I could count on one hand how many noblewomen would even only consider it.”

He moved to Esmera and knelt before her, his hands seeking hers, “But the image that struck me hardest, Esme, was that in the pale moonlight, I saw my wife. I saw happiness, and a future brighter than I’d ever imagined. I saw a woman that I…” glancing at her hands in his, he swallowed hard, “I saw a woman that I love.”

Tears pooled in her gaze as she met his, shaking her head slowly. Her fingers laced through his own and her eyes drifted to the intertwined digits, “...I never thought… when my father told me what my role would be in all of this, that I would ever love. I had reserved myself to the terrible fate of an unhappy life. The wife… of a man who could never be anything more than a tool used to further the safety of my kingdom. Then at our wedding, I saw in you something I had never anticipated… and for a blessed moment, it gave me hope. I saw a man that I could grow to love. Who maybe could… could someday learn to love me. And I knew that the only way I would be deserving of that was as Esmera, not Lorraine… Not a lie. So I told you the truth and it hurt to think that I had ruined everything. For both of us. Then over these last few weeks, I started to see it again… flickers of hope. And I forced them away, because I knew I could not bear if I were wrong. So when you… when you kissed me, last night, I was terrified, Brennan. I was so scared that it was just… a moment. That it was everything that happened, and I wake to find your feelings the same as they had been.” A tear slid the length of her cheek and freeing a hand, she reached to brush it away, “I was terrified… but I did not care. Because as unbearable as it would be, I could not deny it any longer. I love you. With all that I am, I love you…”

A breath that he did not know he held blew through his lips, followed by a grin, “To know you feel the same…” standing to his feet, “You have made me the happiest man alive.”

“Not yet, I haven’t…” Rising, Esmera smiled, almost conspiratorially, before she moved across the room and reaching the bed, she untied the ribbons that held back the canopy at the foot, two in total, before pulling the ribbon free from the end of her hair. These, she tied together into a knot and returning to Brennan’s side, she held out her wrist… “There’s no Cathedral, and I am no cleric… but I want to do this as right as possible, Brennan. I’m not Lorraine, but I am married to you as Lorraine… and I will never feel whole in that. So…” Laying the edge of the knot in her palm, she looked up at him, “Prince Brennan Derosa of Etheren… Do you take Princess Esmera Davontry of Calesh to be your wife, before... “ Looking round the room, she smiled and shrugged, “Before me and before the Gods. Swear it?”

Placing his hand under hers, he took one of the ribbons and wrapped it about them, “I, Brennan Derosa, do swear to care for you, protect you, serve you...and love you so long as I live,” taking a second ribbon, he crossed it over the first, “Princess Esmera Devontry of Calesh, do you take Prince Brennan Derosa of Etheren to be your husband, before me and before the gods. Swear it?”

Meeting his gaze, tears in her eyes again, Esmera tucked the third ribbon across the others, “I, Princess Esmera Davontry, of Calesh… do so swear my unyielding fealty, deference, and all the grace with I possess… Along with my undying love, until my very last breath.”

His chest swelled with pride as his eyes settled on her lovingly, “All that’s left is to seal it with a kiss,” he said as he brought his free hand up, cupping her face and caressing her cheek with his thumb.

Without any of the hesitation they had shown on the day of the wedding, Esmera pressed up onto her toes and with a hand at the base of his neck, she pulled herself to him.

Meeting her halfway, Brennan sealed his lips over hers, his hand slipping further along her jaw to pull her closer, deepening the kiss. He felt the ribbon slip from around his hand as he pulled it free to snake his arm around her waist.

Pulling back, ever so slightly, her fingers curling into his hair, she smiled faintly, “...I believe you’re incorrect, My Lord…” Her eyes opened, meeting his, a sense of that fire he spoke of blazed behind dark lashes, “There is one more step.”

His brow narrowed as he reflected on their wedding, “The vows...the ribbon..the kiss,” Brennan shook his head, “We did everything.”

A brow lifted and she leaned back a little, smiling slyly, “...Shall I fetch your father to remind you, my love?”

Realization set in and a red hue took to his cheeks, “No, I know now.”

Brennan kissed her, then, his hands moving to her waist. Slowly he stepped toward their bed, guiding her back. Pulling away, he smiled, “Esme, I love-”

A crash filled the room, startling Brennan as he spun around, sheltering Esmera behind him. Armed guards stormed in with weapons drawn and once they surrounded the pair, Siegfried stepped out and into the open. The man did not wear the usual smugness, instead, a genuine sympathy shown on his face.

“What is the manner of this?” Brennan’s eyes jumped from soldier to soldier, his arms keeping Esme behind him and against the foot of the bed.

“Prince Brennan,” there was even sympathy on his voice. Siegfried was anything but sympathetic, “Please step aside.”

“No,” he objected.

“My Prince, please,” the captain begged, “Before I must have you forcibly moved.”

“You most certainly can try,” Brennan challenged.

“What is the meaning of this?” Esmera asked, peering over Brennan’s shoulder with a frown.

Siegfried sighed, “Princess Esmera-”

“What did you say?” Brennan interrupted.

“Princess Esmera, you are under arrest for espionage,” Siegfried declared.

“Did my father put you up to this? No, it was Gannon wasn’t it,” Brennan held his ground as the soldiers began to move.

“No, my Prince. There is no conspiracy,” Siegfried sighed and then explained, “A young man was intercepted last night carrying messages between the Princess and her father. Within the letters, we were able to uncover crucial intelligence that she had hidden in her letters to her father revealing weak spots in our defenses, and troop movement and count. The young man also named the princess as the person he received the letters from and gave us the location of the trade off. Upon examining the area, we discovered sufficient evidence to warrant her arrest.”

“What?” Brennan stood strong, “You’re lying. She...she wouldn’t.”

“Has the Princess been with you at all times? Are you able to account for her whereabouts last night?” He glanced over his shoulder to Esmera, who gave a very subtle shake of her head. Of course he could, but to reveal that information was to damn the man they had tried to help, “I didn’t think so,” looking to his guards, Siegfried gave the command, “Arrest her. Move the Prince if you must.”

“That won’t be necessary.” Esmera stated, her hand resting on Brennan’s arm as she stepped out from behind him. Turning to him, she looked up, nodding, “...We will get to bottom of this, Bren. I love you.”

“What?” he shook his head, “No, do not touch her!” he commanded and yet they ignored. Roughly, they bound her, a guard taking a position between Brennan and Esmera.

“I truly am sorry about all of this, Prince Brennan,” Siegfried spoke.

“Like hell you are,” Brennan spit though he could see that the man was genuine.

“Take her away,” the Captain commanded, and after flashing one last apologetic look, Brennan’s way, he followed the guards out and shut the door.
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
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Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
The doors to the throne room swung open with heavy thuds. The sound of a dozen men marching in surrounding Esmera echoed off the smooth stone walls. King Edwin at his throne, fiery eyes glaring down the red carpet as his prey approached. This woman had fauxed a marriage to his son, bent the weak boy to her will, and all for the sake of leaking intelligence that would undoubtedly get his men killed by allowing Caleshan forces to know exactly where to strike. There was only one outcome to this event.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Edwin asked her as the escort came to a halt.

Looking up at the king, Esmera’s brow arched as she took him in. There was no humor in her expression, yet she found it somewhat funny that the man would begin his line of questioning with so obvious a choice, “...I know the charges being brought against me, yes.”

“Whatever peace that my boy believe in so desperately, is gone now. Your subterfuge has dissolved it and the drums of war will sound once again,” he extended a finger toward her, “You used him and pitted him against me and his brother.”

“Don’t…” Her eyes narrowed slightly, as she continued to stare at him, “Don’t you pretend like this is my doing. You haven’t been interested in peace from the very beginning. And any damages done to the relationship you or your prat of a son have with Brennan is your responsibility. I will not stand here and take the fault for your actions and your deficiencies.”

Edwin huffed as he made his way down the steps in quick strides, “I would have honored the peace as long as you lived,” he told her, “How long that would have been,” he shrugged with a smirk, “only the Gods know.”

Edwin reached out and took her by the jaw. Forcing her face to the left, then to the right, he sighed, “It’s quite disappointing really. I had planned on a riding accident after you gave Brennan a son. That boy would have claim to both thrones, you know? With you gone,” he let go, “Brennan could marry a proper woman who would nurture that boy and shape him into the perfect heir, a true Etherian untouched by Caleshan taint.”

“...Too bad you’ll never get that.” She said, and her lip twitched up in a smirk, “You will never have Calesh… not now, not ever. And my father will see to it, believe me. And if he fails? The people will rise against you. They will never allow a monster to rule over them…”

“All kings are monsters, princess,” he replied with a frown, “If you had lived long enough, you would have seen it in Brennan. No matter what we do or why we do the things we do, there is always someone out there who considers our actions monstrous. That is a burden of the king and a sacrifice we must all make. Brennan will learn this.”

Clasping his hands behind his back, Edwin tilted his head slightly to the side, “Siegfried wanted me to let him kill you on the spot that you stand,” he pointed at the floor but shook his head, “But we can’t do that. In a few days, you will be tortured and humiliated like any other spy. When I grow bored of your screams, your head will be removed from your shoulders. I will nail your body to the outer walls of my castle and send your head to your father,” he nodded quite satisfied with his plan.

“...So the torture’s begun then? Listening to your pitiful diatribe seems a pretty sufficient course of action. Is this really how you justify your actions? By telling yourself it’s the sacrifices a king must make? You sit in your palace, on the comfort of your throne while you send your people out to be murdered, and for what!? Pride? Anger? You’re a coward, and Brennan will never be anything like you! He will see through you… He’s already begun to and you will lose him, just like you deserve!”

Edwin’s jaw clenched as his temper flared. He waited until she finished speaking before he reared back and in one swift motion, struck her across the face, “You know nothing about what sacrifices a king must make! You think because you were forced to marry my son that you made a sacrifice? Yes, I have sent men to to their deaths. I have caused women to bury husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers, but all of that is a sacrifice I must make because your father will not allow us access to something that might save lives, might enhance the lives of my people. Your father,” he pointed, “he is the reason for all of this. And because of him, because he sent you here, you will die.”

The volatile motion of the assault nearly sent Esmera to the floor, and righting herself, the tip of her tongue darting across the split in her lip, she shook her head, “I would die a thousand times for what I believe in… But my father has nothing to do with it! You call it a sacrifice, paint a picture of it, but you can’t offer up the lives of men and pretend like you’re the one losing something! Your petty feud with my father and the weight of your insurmountable ego… that is what sentences those men to their deaths, and you can call it what you like, it will never be anything more than murder. And neither will this.”

Shaking her head, her eyes moved along the guards in the room, before falling on the king again, “And you’re wrong. Marrying Brennan was the best thing I have ever done. I love him. I will die, loving him. And you will not… can not take that from me. So you’ve lost. And as long as I know that, there is nothing you can do to me that I cannot endure.”

With balled fists, Edwin showed tremendous restraint in not striking the princess again...and again. Instead, he spat on the cold stone floor, “Brennan will forget you. After the birds have picked clean your bones and your father has mourned over your head, Brennan will remember who he really is and if not, I will do anything to remind him. I will beat it out of him if I must, but he will be the man I make him. The man you claim he is turning into will vanish with your memory.”

She smiled, despite the pain in her lip and cheek, and shaking her head, she looked him up and down, in defiance, “...Then he will be nothing more than another one of your victims. And you will have proven my point.”

With a speed uncharacteristic of a man his age, Edwin stepped up to Esmera. His hand shot out and gripped a fist full of her hair before he jerked her head back. The muscles in his arms bulged, hinting to the strength the man, “Then I will kill him,” he spat before forcing her to follow after him as he ascended the steps. Throwing her to the ground at the foot of his throne, Edwin continued, “Then he will never sit on that throne and everything you hope, every change, a better king, all of it, will be gone,” he knelt over her head, “Then I will put Gannon on the throne.”

Catching herself on the stone dais, Esmera grimaced, breathing in to steady herself against the hateful words, “...Then you’ve already lost.” She fired back, “Because any fool can see that Brennan will be a far greater king than you or Gannon ever could be.”

Edwin smirked as he stood to his feet, his head bobbing. He kicked her hard against the side twice before turning to Siegfried, “Get her out of here.”

Biting hard at her cheek, she fought a cry as his foot collided hard against her ribs. But it was worth it… it was well worth it, for the knowledge that she had gotten to him. Panic swelled, however, as the guard approached, and clenching her hands into fists, she pushed herself upright again, eyes narrowed up at the king, “You never even asked… if I did it…” She hissed softly, through the pain in her ribs.

“It doesn't matter now,” he said as the guards took her by the arms.

Straightening to her feet, pushing herself up as far as she could, pain lancing through her side, she frowned, “...I didn’t. For the record. Because while you may not care about an innocent life… these men should know what they’re being asked to do. They should know what level of madness their king is willing to stoop to…”

“They belong to me,” Edwin laughed, “I am their king. My word is law. Now take her away!”
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
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A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male
The cell floor was largely comprised of mud and hay, grime covering stone, murky filth from years upon years of neglect. Esmera was thrown to her knees with unnecessary force, and toppling to her side, agony splintering through the bruises on her ribcage, she grit her teeth, curling up tightly.

The tears came, only when she was sure the guards had left, tears of bitter anger and frustration… tears of pure, righteous fear. She had been discovered, but how? How could anyone but Brennan have known her true nature, and why… if they were Caleshan, would they trade her over like this.

More horrific, however, was the thought of the king’s parting words. Would he really stoop to harming his own son in favor of victory over her father? Would Brennan see it coming? Would there be time to warn him.

Footsteps eventually broke through the murkiness of her thoughts and shifting upright with a small grimace, she looked to the cell door to find a startlingly familiar face.

“You….your Majesty?” She asked, as the queen looked down at her with sorrowful eyes.

“I warned you, child… what would happen.” She murmured, quietly.

“...It seems your husband does not hold to your sense of patience, My Lady.” Pushing herself up with a small cry of pain, Esmera moved to the door, holding herself aloft by the bars, “...He’s threatened Brennan, Your Majesty. Whatever happens to me, please… you cannot allow him to follow through on the threats against your son… I beg of you, tell Brennan to be careful, to be on guard.”

Stepping back, Alessia frowned softly, “My husband would never--”

“Stop being so naive!” Esme yelled, wincing, a hand slapped against her ribs, “You cannot possible ignore what he has done! Not now! Please… before it is too late. Warn him.”

Shaking her head, the queen turned away, “I will speak to my husband about the nature of your internment. You are still a princess, and you ought not be treated like a common rat. But you must keep your tongue, or I am afraid there is simply nothing I can do for you. Understand?”

“And Brennan…?”

“...I will speak to him, as well.” She said with a terse nod, “I’m sure he’s feeling confused and frightened, and he will need support in these troubled times.”

“Thank you…” Esme breathed, moving from the cell door to sink back down to the floor.

“...Y...yes, dear child. Yes..” Alessia continued, softly, a waiver in her voice, “...Of course.” And with a sigh, she turned, disappearing into the darkness of the corridor.

Silence filled the room as Brennan sat upon the edge of the bed. His head swam with the scene that had just unfolded. Esme had promised him and had even exposed the fact to her friend, Kairos. She had served his people and won his heart.

”I would have given myself to you….for the sake of my home.”

The words cutting deep into in his heart. Had he fallen for her through her design? Had the kiss...the way she looked at him...the exchange of vows...had it all been to further her nefarious plans? He had confessed his love her for, and, in this moment, he realized that he had never felt more betrayed. Just maybe his father had been right about her all along.

A soft knock cracked against the door, before gingerly, Alessia pushed her way inside. Closing the door behind her, Brennan’s mother gestured to the chairs she had sat in earlier that morning, nodding her head, “...We need to talk.”

He shook his head, “Not now, Mother.”

“...Brennan.” Her voice was cool, a tone that suggested she would have no argument, “Sit.”

With a heavy sigh, he pushed up off the bed and trudged to the opposite chair before sinking in it, “You heard, then, about Lorraine?”

Taking a seat, Alessia folded her hands in her lap, studying her son for a moment, “I have, yes. Brennan. I need to know something… and I would ask that you are as honest with me as possible. Did you know? About who she was?”

He swallowed hard as he began to fidget with his fingers, a nervous tick he had been doing since he was a child. He began to slowly nod, “Yes…”

“Hm…” Smiling vaguely, Alessia shook her head, “I thought you might. And what, my dear, are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think your wife guilty of these accusations? Think… before you answer. Consider that this may determine more than you know.”

“I..” he started before taking a moment to reflect on everything that had transpired since their wedding. She had confessed her ill-intentions and promised to stay from them. She had invested in Libby and risen to her family’s defense when wrongly accused. She endured his father’s hardships and Gannon’s evil words. Then there was taking food to the man when he was injured for Brennan’s crimes. If she still harbored ill-intention toward Etheren, why would she have cared for one of its least? It pushed through his fog of despair and doubt, forcing him to think beyond the suggested scenario.

“The evidence against Esme is insurmountable…” he began to shake his head, “But I do not believe she did it.”

Smiling a little less frigidly, Allesia nodded, “Good. I don’t believe it, either. That poor child could not have sat through my lecture this morning as silent as a newborn dove, if she were what they are accusing her of. And now, my darling, I must ask you one more thing. You know… that with all of my heart… I love your father, and have pledged a loyalty to him as king of Etheren until his reign comes to an end, yes?”

Esme’s discomfort and plea to not be left alone with his mother again flashed across the forefront of his mind, bringing a fragile smile to his lips that quickly faded at his mother’s line of questioning, “Yes.”

“Then you understand that it is only a mother’s love that would cause me to move against him in any way.” Frowning, she lowered her gaze, looking at her hands, “I believe, my dear, that your father is long past the ability to make decisions that are best for this kingdom. I have had this fear for some time now, and I confess, it is for these reasons I have been so diligent with you. These last few months have been… trying, and he now risks open war, and all in the name of injured pride and anger. But worse than that, he has made… threats of an unforgivable nature. The reason I asked for your thoughts on the Princess’s loyalties are because she has asked me to warn you, Brennan. Your father means to move against you. Whatever you do, you must be cautious… Whether or not he intends to follow through on this threat is unclear, but if his… if the state of his mind is too far gone, then I don’t doubt for a moment he will carry out the action. We are at war, already, dearest. But it is not with Calesh…”

Brennan leaned back against the chair, her words knocking the air from his lungs, “Father wants my life?” asked, “We’ve never seen eye to eye, but...I’m his son. What have I done that merits such evil from him?”

“...You love her. And to him, that is the greatest slight you could be capable of. You chose a Caleshan, son, over him. We all must make sacrifices… I have taught you this from the start. What I did not tell you, is that sometimes, those sacrifices are not what you might expect. And I am sorry…” Looking up again, her eyes filling with tears, Alessia shook her head, “There is nothing you can do for her. He will kill her, Brennan. He will drag it out, and it will be painful… and in the end, she will die.”

She spoke so bluntly and Brennan tried to swallow back the pain, but it fell from his eyes. With tears falling freely, Brennan shook his head and spoke through quivering lips, “I won’t let him. I’ll prove her innocence and he’ll be forced to let her go!” he shot to his feet and angrily brushed away the tears, “And..And if that doesn’t work. Then I’ll find another way to save her…,” his eyes softened as he looked to his mother, reflecting the heartache he endured, “I do love her, Mother, and I could not bear the sight of her enduring Father’s cruelty. The things he would do to her…” he clenched his jaw, “I’ll kill him if I have to!” he blurted.

“Hush…” Alessia murmured, calmly, reaching out to take his hand, “Sit. You mustn’t say such things. If you were overheard, Brennan… Know that he will use any and everything possible against you. I agree… that we must do something. But I have taught you too well to think so simply.”

“You’re right,” he breathed as he sat back down, “but I don’t know what to do. The evidence that Siegfried had...Mother, it would make you look like a traitor. I don’t know how to counter that…” he shook his head.

“Perhaps…” Her eyes shifted away, as a small sigh escaped, “Perhaps you cannot counter it, Brennan. Not without knowing the source. But there may be other means… If you look, I am sure you’ll find a way.”

“How much time do I have before...?” he returned, “Can I see her?”

“It is my understanding that your father intends…” Pausing, she allowed for a moment of delicacy, “Your father intends to make her punishment last as long as possible.” Looking to him, she nodded, “Whatever happens in this palace, my darling, you are still the crown prince. If you want to visit her, I don’t imagine anyone would dare to stop you. But you must exercise caution. Your father cannot see anything you do as a sign of treachery. Or he will use that to depose you...”

“I will,” he promised, “I have to see her,” he stood up, “She needs to know that I haven’t forgotten about her, and that I haven’t bought into the lies.”

“I will do my best, Brennan, to keep your father occupied. But please… be careful.”

He nodded, “Thank you, Mother, for everything you’ve done for me,” he placed a soft kiss against her cheek and flashed a quick smile before he started for the door.
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
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Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
The door to the cell opened, but Esmera did not hear it, through the blood, pounding in her ears. Thrust to the floor, she had barely strength enough to catch herself, and curling up, she closed her eyes, fighting back tears long enough for the footsteps of the guards to recede through the door, pain lancing through her at every angle.

Before her torment had begun, Esmera overheard the queen’s words, but she had not bore much faith in them. Blessedly, it seemed, the woman’s threat was not questioned…

“My husband’s instructions were clear, and I will not contradict the king. That being said… you will bear in mind that this girl is a princess of a foreign domain, and one that we are at war with. You will treat her as such… Not as a common whore. If I find that any one of you has sullied her… I will personally see to it that it is the last time you are capable of such an atrocious act.”
It was a small favor… but one that Esme would be forever grateful of, but the fear had lingered, still, clarifying and real, as they stripped her of her gown, leaving little more than her underclothes, and their lashes and their fists drove into her, nearly unrelenting. It was only the beginning, she knew, and while every inch of her seemed to have been set aflame by new and unspeakable agony, it would only get worse. He had barred her the luxury of food and drink… of warm clothing or blankets. Before long, if the torture did not kill her, than hunger or illness would do its work. Edwin was a madman, and his anger against her had kindled in his men a sense of wanton destruction and violence.

She would not last… and somehow, this was both a painful realization and a relief. In her mind she could think of no one but Brennan, and if she had to die for him… she would.

Brennan walked through the castle halls, a lighter shade of color to his face than normal and red outlining his eyes. His hands were balled into permanent fists it seemed, a satchel bounced against his hip. Coming to a stop before the dungeon doors, he calmed his raging heart as best he could and shook out his hands. The guards stepped aside, obeying Brennan’s command before he entered the dungeon.

The atmosphere was heavier than the last time he had been here. It was darker, and he noticed every hellish instrument used to make someone’s stay as miserable as possible. The filthy, damp, uneven stone floor, the sense of imminent doom, Brennan experienced a shutter at the fact that his wife had been wrongly condemned to this.

With great trepidation, Brennan finally came to a stop at Esme’s cell. She was painted in bruises, cuts and lashes. Dropping to his knees, he scooted as closely to the bars as he could get. His shaking fingers gripping at the cold metal, “Esme,” he called out softly.

Her eyes blinked open and squinting through the darkness, Esmera tried to focus, a foggy sense of recognition carrying his voice to her muffled ears. Breathing out, she tried to press herself upright, but pain erupted and with a soft whimper, she sank back to her side, “...Bren… You shouldn’t be here. If he… if he knows…”

“Damn him,” he answered in a low tone, “I tried to see you yesterday, but Father would not let me. Now it seems he wants me to see what he’s done,” he fell silent a moment, “I was there, today. I saw every...I heard…” he shook his head, “I was there...for you.”

Opening her eyes again, Esmera managed a small, fractured smile, nodding as much as she dared, “...Then he’s already lost, my love. He means to break me, but as long as I know… you’re with me… he never will.”

“But he will break me,” Brennan stated plainly, “If it were me, I would take his wrath upon me in an instant and bear it gladly..for you, but I cannot bear this..and the thought of what he has planned for you. This,” he gestured to her body through the bars, “is only the first day.”

“...It’s decidedly not as much fun as I anticipated.” She muttered, and for a second time, she tried to push herself upright, marginally more successful, “But the guards hit like girls… and I don’t intend on giving him any satisfaction just yet.”

Brennan chuckled and shook his head, “Even in this,” he said a certain admiration in his tone, “You are still you,” he nodded before slipping the satchel from around his neck, “Then I will be me. I’ll turn over every rock I can, Esme, I’ll clear your name and expose my father. When the people see it...maybe they’ll show reason,” the latches slipped from the satchel at his guiding and he pulled back the lid, “I have no doubt my father has ordered no food be given to you, but Brian insisted I bring you this,” he pulled a small loaf of bread from the back and began to tear off pieces and pass them through the bars, “For helping Libby…”

Reaching up, another small smile formed, as she took the bread, “... I confess… I was worried you would believe it. I thought when you hadn’t come… It’s… whoever did this… they were thorough. Even studied my writing. I would believe I’d done it, did I not know myself.” Taking a small bite, chewing carefully against the pain in her jaw, she leaned her head back against the stone, her eyes falling closed, “You must be careful, Brennan. His hatred for me… it’s a powerful thing, and he is blind to it. I am… I’m scared. Your mother warned the guards that I should not be… that they were not to…” Pausing, she swallowed and shook her head, “But I see it in them. His anger… his hate. They are consumed by it, as well, and I do not imagine their restraint will last. I will not give in to him… but I will die before I let them touch me.”

Her eyes moved to him, and she shook her head, “and I am scared for you. Your mother… did she… have you spoken?”

His gaze turned to the guards, a silent challenge arose though they were unaware, “Yes,” he answered as he softened his eyes and turned his attention back to her, “I know all of it, and I have taken precautions, but I will not leave you here alone to suffer. I am the only person you have here.”

“If you’re all I have… I know your father cannot win. I love you, Bren. More than I ever thought possible.”

“And I you, Esme,” he said as he reached through the bars, taking her hand in his. With a gentle squeeze and a longing look, Brennan said his goodbye, “Rest, my love.”

From the shadows, Siegfried watched the exchange. He could not hear the words shared between the battered princess and her husband, but he could see the love, the fear, and the strength in her eyes. She would endure King Edwin’s evil operations. Would that resolve shatter once her husband lay dead, with a blade buried in his back? Siegfried sighed and once the prince left the dungeons, so, too, did he, subtly following his mark.
 
Last edited:

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
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The next day, his Father kept true to his word. Brennan tried desperately to be present, to bear witness, in support for his wife, but the blows, the whips and...and...it was just too much for the prince. With a broken heart, he shut his eyes allowing the sound to flood his senses. He had visited her that day as well, bringing a small piece of bread to help her keep her strength, but the conversation was not nearly as long as it had been the day before. Her body needed rest, and undoubtedly so did her mind.

The third day showed another side of his father that Brennan had always known existed but had never witnessed. By the time they had finished with Esme, Brennan would have been amazed if she could have simply lifted her head. After giving her time to rest, he once again travelled to the dungeons to care for his wife as best he could.

“Esme,” he spoke softly, sitting on the cold, damp stone, “It’s me...Brennan,” a tear slid down his cheek as he looked over her battered body. Anger burned in his heart, but in the moment, it was overpowered by grief.

It wouldn't be long. She knew. Despite her efforts, the constant shock was bearing a toll she could not withstand. Her body felt nearly numb with pain… every nerve screaming out at once, leaving her with a sensation like fire in her veins. Her mind was worse… trapped in fear of what was to come, in torment of what it was all doing to her husband.

As he spoke, she tried to straighten, but her arms would not support her, and the effort left her drained. A long moment passed before she spoke, her voice raw… Ragged from screaming, “...We really… have to stop meeting… like this.” She whispered.

A short chuckle slipped through his lips as he brushed the tears from his cheeks, “Even still…” he was amazed her spirit was still intact despite the condition of her body, “Esme, I brought more bread. Will you try to eat a little of it?” he asked as he tore off a piece and stuck his arm through the bars.

Looking up, she swallowed and the feeling sent a wave of searing pain down her throat, “I'm sorry, love. I don't… I don't think I can manage. Listen… Brennan. I… I'm not sure… how much longer I can do this. I need you… I need you to promise me that whatever happens, you will be strong for me. You will be stone, my love, and you will not break. Can you… will you swear it?”

Shaking his head, he leaned toward the bars, “No, don’t give up, Esme. I will get you out of here. Stay strong,” he swallowed back a sob and bit the inside of his lip to keep it from quivering, “I cannot lose you.”

“You will never lose me… I know… I vowed to love you until my last breath… but I'm sorry, I lied. I will never stop loving you. Not even death could stop me.” Her eyes cracked open, finding him and she tried to smile, wincing, “Dear, sweet prince… promise me.”

“I...I promise,” a single tear slipping free from his eye as he spoke, “I promise, Esme...I promise,” he told her again.

“Then I think… My Brave Husband… I can hold on… just a little longer.”

To see her in this state...he flashed her a shaky smile, knowing that his selfish request for her to hold on would cause her unnecessary pain, but he couldn’t let her go...not yet, “I will find a way, Esme…We will be together again.”

“I don't doubt, my love…” her eyes closed again and with a shaky breath, unconsciousness claimed her..

When her eyes slipped shut, all the air seemed to rush out of him. The pride he normally held himself with seemed to vanish, only defeat remained. He had tried for three days to find something to clear her name and no matter what he did, he continued to come up empty handed. Now, Esme had one...maybe two days left before his father would make due on his promise.

With a grunt, he stood to his feet, his eyes lingering on her broken body for a moment longer, “I love you,” he told her before departing.

Brennan’s feet carried him absent-mindedly through the halls and toward his room. When he wasn’t out searching for a way to save Esme, he was in his room trying desperately to cope with the idea of losing her. This time, though, there was no searching. He was going to fail her...and she was going to die.

“My Prince!”

He was so lost in thought that it took him a moment to register the panic in the voice. Not only that, but he did not notice Siegfried rushing him with his weapon drawn. Brennan stepped to his right readying himself for the attack, only something buried into his shoulder from behind. Brennan fell forward, his hand reaching for the object. He could feel someone tug on it, though his body was unwilling to release it. His eyes turned to Siegfried just as he felt his knees crash against the cold stone. But Siegfried did not stop with him. Instead, he passed the prince, and Brennan could hear the clash of steel.

With one arm, Brennen pulled, along the ground, the door to his room in sight. Pain ripped through his shoulder as the muscles tightened around the blade. For a brief moment, he dared to look back, just as Siegfried drove his blade deep into the man’s chest.

A agonizing groan tore from his throat as he pulled himself up to reach the knob. He had just opened the door and had begun to fall through the threshold when strong arms caught him and dragged him into the room.

“My Prince,” Siegfried spoke as he helped Brennan to the bed and lay him down, “You didn’t move.”

“I didn’t,” Brennan growled, “I didn’t hear you. I thought…”

“Mhmm,” Siegfried returned, “I know,” he hung his head for just a moment, “I do not fault you for that.”

“Kiara,” Brennan spoke, his head swimming, “Get Kiara.”

Siegfried nodded before disappearing from Brennan’s sight. He heard the door open, not once, but a second time a few moments later, before Siegfried rejoined him, “I sent a servant girl to find her, and I brought our friend in. Hold on,” Siegfried told him as he disappeared again.

Brennan could hear the captain shuffle through his drawers, and the song of his sword as he drew it when the door opened.

“Oh...the Gods,” Kiara gasped.

“The prince,” Siegfried ordered.

A second gasp sounded before Kiara appeared beside him, “What happened?”

“He was stabbed by that guy,” Siegfried replied bluntly, pointing at the corpse in the room.

Brennan’s hand shot out and gripped at Kiara’s as she pulled a scalpel from her bag, “Do not…” he swallowed, “Don’t let me die.”

She nodded with sorrow-filled eyes, “Bite down on this,” she handed him a thick cloth she’d rolled, “This is going to hurt like hell.”

Brennan took several deep breaths. He could hear Siegfried grunting, but before he could ask what the man was doing, Kiara began to cut, ripping a muffled cry of pain from him, but when she began to remove the blade, Brennan’s body could no longer take the pain, his eyes closing, welcoming the darkness.
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
As Esme was carried out to the yard, her legs no longer strong enough the bear weight, she could note in the guards something different about the day. No doubt, they could sense it… her end was near and for the fight she had put up, Esme could only hope she had earned but a little respect from her tormentors…

This, unfortunately, was not the nature of the change however, and her heart sank as she opened her eyes to see him there… the king, standing before her.

Today was the day. Surely she should have seen it coming. He would never allow her a peaceful end in her cell. And yet… The fear she might have felt seemed lesser than she expected. Breathing in, leaning her weight in the guards to right herself as much as possible, she faced the king, smiling faintly.

“Tired of me, already, your Grace?”

“On her knees,” he commanded and the guards obliged, “I promised you days of torture,” Edwin spoke to her, “And I have delivered for three days and for three days you have resisted, “he shook his head, “but on this fourth day, I will break you.”

“You're wrong.” She answered, looking up with pure venom at the man before her, “You may break my body into a thousand pieces… Rend me limb from limb. Whatever you do, though… You will never win. Because you cannot take my heart…”

A smile spread wide across Edwin’s lips, “That’s where you are wrong,” he leaned in close and whispered in her ear, “I took your heart just moments after he visited you.”

The words were worse than any blow struck in the last three days, and paling, Esme shuddered a breath from her lips, “What have you done??”

“I took the one thing you cared most for. You were right. I was not going to break your will. I could break your body,” he gestured to her bruised and battered body, “but I could not break your spirit. So I did what I had to do to,” he lowered himself to her level speaking in a tone no one else could hear, “I killed your prince.”

“No…” she whispered, the words burrowing in, ripping away inside of her, “No!”

With whatever strength her body had, Esmera shot forward, her hands clawing for the king, fury mingled with the agonizing realization that he was right, “I'll kill you, you bastard! I'll kill you!”

Edwin stepped aside striking her as she lunged, humor and satisfaction plastered on his face, “There she is!” He mocked, “There’s the animal!” Laughter rolling from his lips.

The strength went as swiftly as it had come and dropping to her hands and knees, Esmera heaved a bitter cry. He had done it. He had actually done it… and the world, for her, was in ruins…

“Kill me.” She finally muttered, looking up at him in tears, “Kill me, now!”

“Kill you? Now?” Edwin laughed and wagged his finger, “No. You don't get to die yet. You see, because of you, my oldest son, my firstborn, my heir,” he feigned sorrow, “Is dead…”

“No, Esmera, you don't get to die,” he coupled his hands behind his back, “Not when we’ve really only just begun.”

Digging her hands into the dirt beneath her, Esmera breathed out, then with another surge of force, she pushed herself upright and reached for the blade of the guard nearest her.

The guard, startled by the motion, moved too slowly, the blade singing as she drew it from its scabbard. Unfortunately, the other guards were quicker, collapsing and subduing Esmera. Edwin’s laughter filled the air, “And what were you hoping to accomplish?”

The sword clattered to the ground as it was shaken from her wrist. Fighting against the guard's hold, to little avail, Esmera growled, “You cannot keep me alive forever! I will not let you!”

“You’ll live as long as I want you to,” he snapped back, “I will relish in your misery. When you think about how you failed Brennan, I will be there. When you've found a moment of respite from your nightmares, I'll be there to remind you of his death. There will be no end until I've grown tired.”

A sob escaped, desperate, as her legs buckled completely. It was too much… it was all too much, and he didn’t even have the grace of heart to let her die. Brennan was gone, and with him, her will to fight…

They carried her out again, her defeat too much for her battered form, and discarded again in her cell, Esmera collapsed in on herself, weeping bitterly, until exhaustion folded over her and became too great to bear…

The moon was at its peak when Kairos snuck through the castle gates. His black cloak clung to him tightly as he held to the shadows, a dagger in hand, and black, misty runes dancing on the other. It took little effort for the man to manipulate the shadows, magnifying their intensity and warping them as he stepped through the open streets. Even the torchlight seemed to flee from the darkness that enveloped him.

Creeping through the castle halls was far more difficult, but eventually Kairos found himself at his destination; the dungeons. Two guards stood at attention, their eyes locked on each other. No one was going to get passed them. Kairos smirked before he stepped out into the hall, pulling away at the cloak to reveal his face. Eyes turned to him to watch and as he continued to draw near, the guards called out for him to halt. With narrowing eyes, Kairos’ ring finger pressed against a rune in the palm of his hand. It burned for a moment, something he hand grown used to, before it vanished. He could feel the magic course through his body as the shadows seemed to be pulled from the darkened corners of the hall and from the guards themselves, to manifest in a thick cloud that encompassed Kairos and the guards. He was certain they screamed during the ensuing onslaught of dagger flurries, but no one would have heard it as the sound was muffled in thick darkness.

When the shadows finally faded, the walls were painted red, and the guards lay dead at his feet. With a whistle, he pushed through the door and once more faded into the shadows until he stood before his goal. Anger welled up inside the man as his eyes fell upon the sorry state of its occupant, “Esme,” he whispered to her, as he fumbled with the key ring he had taken from the dead guards, “Esme!”

Esme’s eyes cracked open at the sound, and for a moment… one blessed moment, the figure, blurred by the darkness, appeared, and she thought maybe... just maybe. But Brennan was gone. The king’s cruelty was sufficient, and she was alone…

But not alone. Widening her eyes further, she tried to push herself upright, but couldn’t manage, her eyes stinging with tears. Was it possible? Could it be possible?

“Kai…?”

“Oh, Princess,” he spoke as he shoved key after key in the lock until one took and the cell was pulled open. Kairos rushed it, practically sliding along the ground to a stop beside her. Scooping her up in his arms, he immediately pulled a canteen from his belt and popped the top, “Here drink,” he said as he surveyed her bruised and battered body, “What did they do to you, Esme?”

“N...no.” Shoving at the canteen, she shook her head, “No. Kai, just… please… just leave me. He did it… by the Gods, he actually did it. He killed him, Kairos. The king… he killed--” Tears shattered from her eyes as she burrowed into him, a sob escaping.

“Shh,” he told her as he wrapped his arms around her. He simply held her a moment before continuing with a shake of his head, “Would he want you to give up like this? Is this honoring his memory?”

“It should have been me…” She whispered, “He… Oh, Kai. I don’t know how to keep going. I don’t want to. I want him back.” Clinging to him, she shook her head, “I just want him back…”

Kairos felt the pang of jealousy strike through his heart. His jaw clenched and his face softened. He had always hoped she’d feel that way for him, because he had always felt that for her, “I’m sorry,” he told her before he stopped the top of the canteen and placed it back at his waist, “I’m so sorry, but we must be going, Esme. I came as soon as I heard...I won’t lose you to these monsters,” he slipped a hand under her legs and the other to support her body before he stood to his feet. She was lighter than he remembered but a few days of little to nothing to eat would do that, “Let’s go home,” he told her.

She had nothing in her to argue, and so laying her head against his shoulder, she only nodded, as silent tears resumed their course.

Home… Etheren was meant to be her home, but not anymore. And as far as she cared, it could burn.
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
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His eyes blinked open, the rays of light acting like daggers stabbing into his senses. He moved to cover his eyes with his hand but a sharp pain shot through his body pulling a groan from him, “Esme,” he called out.

“He’s awake,” Kiara spoke, moving to Brennan and gently guiding his arm back to his side, “Don’t move, your Highness.”

“Esme,” he said again, “is she…”

“No,” Siegfried spoke and Brennan’s eyes turned to the man with a whole new respect and understanding, “your father had her until last night. Someone murdered two guards and stole her away.”

“Then she’s...Then she’s safe,” Brennan relaxed against the bed.

“For now,” Siegfried replied, “We think she’s been spirited off to Calesh and your father has ordered me to dispatch troops to cut her off.”

“No,” Brennan returned, fighting against Kiara to sit up.

Finally, she let him, “Stubborn, are all the men in the family this way?”

A sigh escaped, as Alessia stepped forward, “...And he’s the least of it. Brennan, darling. You must be cautious… You’ll pull a stitch. Now. Settle…”

“I’ve got to find her, Mother. I’ve got to protect her,” Brennan’s head was clearing as he looked upon his mother.

“Won’t be any good to her dead…” Another voice interjected, and pushing off the wall, Libby frowned, “And you’re sure as, once your father finds out what really happened.”

“Which…” Alessia noted, “He won’t, as long as we’re careful.” Her eyes moved to Siegfried and she nodded, “He’s been told the attempt on your life was successful, Brennan. Your father believes you’re dead. We have all risked our own lives for yours… so for goodness sakes, my dear… take a moment. You can’t rush off into Calesh without a plan.”

He heard his mother, but his attention was on Libby, his failings rushing to the forefront of his mind, “Libby...I…” How did one apologize for failing to save the lives of someone’s family?

“...Don’t.” She stated, frowning softly, “I’m not here for that. I’m here to make sure you and the Princess are alright… so you can fix all this mess. And get that madman off his--”

Clearing her throat, Alessia shook her head and Libby fell quiet again.

He studied her for a moment before he turned his attention to his mother, “A plan…” he sighed, “Well, I’m dead so no one is going to be looking for me. It shouldn’t be difficult for me to sneak through my own lands and into Calesh.”

“Not with that shoulder, you won’t,” Kiara snapped and Brennan looked at her annoyed, “I mean...Your Highness, not with that shoulder, you won’t.”

“Better we travel together… Any thought at all that it’s all a ruse, they’ll be lookin’ for a man travelin’ alone… and you’re not exactly…”

“Inconspicuous?” The queen added, and Libby managed a small dry smile.

“Exactly... “

“You’re sure you want to do this, Brennan?” Alessia asked, a moment later, “I can’t protect you once you cross that border. If you’re caught…”

He shook his head, “You know I have to. You know that I will do whatever it takes to get back to her..to fix all of this. I have to. Father...he’s...gone and he’s taking all of Etheren with him. I promise I’ll do whatever it takes...but I need Esme.” Otherwise, what’s the point.

“I’m coming with you,” Kiara interjected, “If you reopen your wound before you fix this and I’m not there, I don’t need to tell you what would happen.”

He nodded and then turned to Libby, “You’d come with me? You’d help us?”

Looking at him, Libby nodded, “...Not safe here for me, anyway. And you… you and her… you were the only ones willin’ to help my sister.” Her gaze flickered to Siegfried, pointedly, before returning to the prince, “I’m coming…”

Siegfried looked down and away, too ashamed to meet her gaze, “I...I cannot go with you, Prince Brennan. My sudden absence would draw questions from your father. I will stay here.”

Brennan stood for the first time in a day, the sudden elevation making him a little dizzy. Kiara helped steady him before he nodded and she dropped her hands. Walking over to Siegfried, he saluted the man, “If it were not for you..”

Offering a small smile, Siegfried spoke, “Just doing my duty.”

“Even still,” he placed placed his hand on the older man’s shoulder and gave a light squeeze, “Thank you.”

Turning to his mother, he embraced her before speaking, “Be careful, Mother. Father truly is a monster.”

Reaching out, Alessia took hold of his cheeks, brushing her thumbs across them with a small shake of her head, “Try, my darling, to remember him for better times. He was not always this way… and I know that it will… it will destroy him, when he understands what he was done.” Leaning forward, she pressed a kiss to his forehead, “Now… My heart. Go and find her. And then come home. Etheren needs you.”

“I will,” he promised, “Protect her, Siegfried,” he commanded the guard.

“With my life, sire,” he returned, extending a sword in a sheath, “Just in case.”

With a nod, the prince took it, and with Kiara’s help, fastened it around his waist, “Alright, then let’s go find my wife.”
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
It hurt.

Everything hurt. But nothing more than her heart. The journey home had been harrowing, but swift, and while the palace physician's were less than optimistic as to her state of health, there were no great concerns that she could not eventually recover to her full strength…

The trouble was, Esmera didn't want to heal. She wanted to be left alone. To fade out of time and memory, until she could pass in peace and be with Brennan once more. But her father would have none of it… and so every day she was visited, her bandages changed, her wounds cleaned. She was fed, the servant instructed not to leave until she had eaten, and she was observed… constantly, a guard at her door, left open should she require any immediate attention.

She was no less a prisoner in Calesh than she had been in Etheren… and perhaps that was entirely the point.

Looking out the window, overlooking the pristine, glassy surface of the water, her mind brought her back to the moment in the yard. Back to the king and his cold, hateful words. He had broken her, after all… and no matter how much her body recovered, she was sure her heart had failed before they'd even left the dungeon.

Kairos spent the last week avoiding Esme. She had been through a lot and her father, as well as the physicians, believed it best that she be allowed to heal. Only the essential people were allowed to see her. Only, seven days later, her body was healing but her spirits were not. That was when the King asked him to go see her thinking that her old friend might be able to lift her spirits.

With a soft knock, Kairos peered into the room, his eyes falling on the shell of the girl he had grown up with, “Esme, it’s Kai. Can I come in?”

Without turning, Esmera knew who it was. Over the years, she had grown in the habit of studying the way certain people moved about, and Kairos had one of the most distinctive patterns of anyone she’d ever met. He spoke, and glancing over her shoulder she fixed him with a stare, before twisting back around to the window.

“...You may.”

He flashed a quick smile before entering, “Physicians say you're healing,” he started as he stood at the foot of her bed, “Which is a good thing, no, a great thing. For a moment, I thought I was going to lose you..”

“Yes…” She murmured, frowning softly, “They’ve been quite thorough. Father’s insistence, I imagine.” Guilt… decidedly. He had barely come to see her since she had returned, and the few times he’d visited, the man could scarcely meet her eye, “Lori tells me there’s news from the borders. That Etheren is sending troops.” Looking to Kai, she shrugged, “What good is healing if I’ll be dead soon, anyway?”

“Don't say that, Esme,” he rounded the bed and lowered himself to her level, “I wouldn't ever let anything bad happen to you ever again.”

Meeting his gaze, Esme frowned gingerly, “I'm sorry, Kai. I've been… I haven't been very fair to anyone. You most of all. You saved my life and I never even thanked you… What you must think of me…”

“You know nothing of how I think of you,” he said with a small smile, “Esme..we’ve been friends for a long time, and yet, you've never seen it.”

Blinking, she shifted, pushing herself upright, “No, Kai… of course I do. You are so kind… even when I'm not. And I don't deserve the depth of your friendship.”

“Friendship,” he hung his head, “I’ve thought of you as so much more.”

“Oh, no. Of course.” Reaching to take his hand, she managed a small, weak smile, “You're a part of our family, Kai…”

“You’re not listening to me,” Kairos closed her hand in both of his, “It’s more than that, Esme. Ever since we were kids, I’ve always loved you. It’s why I risked my life to save you.”

Staring, Esme tried to take in the words, to comprehend their meaning, but her mind seemed hesitant to process what he was saying… Opening her mouth, she started to speak.

There was a knock at the door, and Kairos turned to glare at the man before them, her confession of love cut short by the interruption of a guard. The man looked to Kairos and saluted before he spoke, “You asked me to inform you when the prisoner had awaken.”

Sitting straighter, the words momentarily brushed aside, Esme frowned and looked to Kairos, “Prisoner? Wh… what… Who is it?”

Kairos shook his head before he turned to Esme, “I didn’t want to tell you, but it’s the prince of Etheren.”

Paling, Esme’s eyes widened, “Gannon?? He’s here…” Her stomach churned at the thought and for a moment, she could say nothing, afraid of the words… of saying something she might regret. When she did speak, her gaze narrowed, her fists knotting into the covers of her bed, “...Let the bastard rot.”

Forcing a smile, Kairos nodded, “You heard the Princess. I’ll be down later to speak with him,” he turned his attention back to Esme and smiled, eager to hear the words she had almost spoken. When the guard did not leave, however, Kairos spoke to him again, “What is it?”

“He’s demanding to speak to someone.”

A sigh slipped through his lips. He couldn’t let the prisoner call out for too long, “Fine,” he stood, giving Esme a warm smile, “We should continue our conversation later.”

Looking to Kairos, visibly distracted, Esme nodded, but as Kairos rose, she reached out to take his arm, “...Maybe I should speak to him.”

“No,” he frowned, “You’ve suffered enough because of him. You’re healing now, and I’d rather you not jeopardize that. Please, Esme, trust me to take care of it.”

For a second or two she seemed as though she might argue, but bowing her head in a nod, she sank back, “...Very well. You’ll come back? It… it seems we have much to talk about.”

“Of course,” he smiled warmly before offering her a bow, “Until then, Princess.”
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male
Not long after word had returned to King Edwin that his son had been seized by the Caleshans, did the Caleshans discover that the Etherian army had been mobilized. This time, however, the Caleshans were not prepared and day after day reports came in of lost ground to the Etherians. If something wasn’t done soon, Calesh itself would be on the brink of falling to an Etherian war machine not seen in the previous conquest. It was then Kairos was able to convince his king to offer the prince for the safety of the city.

With a smug smile, he left the throne room on his way to Esme to celebrate his victory. While Edwin’s armies marched rolling unhindered by the unprepared Caleshan forces, plans were being set in motion to end this conflict, and his time spent with Esme seemed only elated him all the more. He hadn’t spoken of his feelings since he had first announced them, but he knew she had thought of them and he hoped every day that that visit would be the day she told him that she loved him back.

As he approached her chamber door, now closed due to her improved health, he knocked twice before speaking, “Princess, it’s Kairos.”

“Come in…” Her voice chimed, and when he had, she turned from the window to face him, smiling a little. It had been… a long and trying few months since Esme was rescued from the depths of the Etherian prison, and while her wounds had healed, at least on the outside, scars lingered… some that would never fade - the least of which were the ones on her heart. She missed him. Every day, she missed Brennan. Their time together felt so brief, now that she looked back on it, but her love for him had blossomed in the darkness that surrounded them both, and it was not so easily forgotten.

Neither, it seemed, were Kairos’s words to her… and she had thought of them often. Far too often. In truth, her feelings were conflicted. Before Brennan, she had cared deeply for her father’s emissary, but with little political clout, it had been an impossible consideration, and so she had buried them deep down inside of her. Now, with Calesh in turmoil and her husband gone… it occurred to Esme that there was a reason his confession so haunted her thoughts…

She was alone. And she was tired of being alone. He would never be Brennan… no one would, but he was a good man, with a good heart, and she knew after all he had put her through, her father would consent…

And maybe it wasn’t what she wanted, but what she wanted wasn’t possible. Brennan was gone…

“...Will you walk with me? The physicians say I’m permitted to be outside, now.”

With a smile, he offered her his arm and turned to the door, “It’s a beautiful day outside, Esme. The birds are singing, and the sun offers its warm kisses to anyone who steps out beneath it. You’ll love it.”

Kairos noted the relieved looks on the faces of the servants, nobles, and soldiers as they passed through the halls. Their princess had made her long and arduous journey through recovery and was beginning to look like herself again, “They’re all glad to see you up and about again,” he nudged her gently, “As am I.”

Her smile warmed, and shaking her head she glanced up at the faces that passed them by, “They are loyal to their king and to the crown. Such fealty is admirable.” Looking to Kairos, she shrugged, “It has been a difficult few months, but I’m glad to be feeling better.”

“It’s not just loyalty, Esme, they love you. What you did for Calesh….” he shook his head as they stepped out into the sun, “Don’t devalue it.”

The smile faded a little as she considered his words. What had she done for Calesh? The situations between their kingdoms was worse than ever, the crown prince was dead and the other locked away in the dungeon, no doubt to be used as a bargaining tool to stave Edwin off his attack. It didn’t feel like anything worthy of the people’s love.

Stepping out into the courtyard, she breathed in and the freshness of the air filled her lungs as her eyes fell closed, her face tipping back to take in the warmth of the sun, “I appreciate it, all the same. A princess is nothing without her people’s love… But that isn’t what I wanted to speak to you about, Kai…”

“Oh?” he spoke, watching as the features he so loved were accented by nature’s light. It had been far too long since he had last seen her like this, “What is it, Esme?”

“...When you first came to see me, after… after we returned. You said something to me. Something I have not had the mind to address until now.” Looking to her hands, she studied them for a moment, and irrationally, all she could envision were the cords of thread, bound across her wrist. Tears burned at her eyes and she blinked them away, tracing the invisible lines of the ribbon before looking up again, “I never knew how you felt, Kai. I… I’m sorry you’ve had to hold onto it in secret for so long.”

“You have nothing to apologize for, Esme,” shaking his head, “I never told you. You are a princess and I’m just...I’ve always been nothing deserving of a woman of your position, but when I saw you in that cell...I could not forgive myself for not telling you sooner. If I had…”

Reaching out, Esme took his hands, giving her own head a shake, “I understand. I want you to know that before… before all of this began, when we were still young, and it hardly mattered what was going on in the rest of the Agganoth… I thought the world of you. I still do, in so many ways. I…” Her eyes fell again, and this time, the tears could not be stifled, “I loved him… so much, Kai. And every day I wake without him, it feels as though my heart is gone. But if ever I thought there was anyone who might… who could heal that anguish, I’ve not doubt in my mind it’s you.”

Kairos had always dreamt of the moment that Esme confessed her undying love for him. That moment when they looked into each others’ eyes and their entire future played out before them. The warm smiles they would share, the peppered kisses of pure bliss….all of that was nothing more than dream.

His eyes turned from her looking down at the dirt beneath them to hide the hurt that undoubtedly shown within them. His chest tightened and the victorious air that had so filled his lungs rushed from him. Nothing had gone as he had hoped. She did not confess love for him...only for Brennan. Instead, the best she could do was that one day she ‘might’ love him. After all he’d done for her…

“I see,” he managed to say his pain quickly morphing into anger that he fought to suppress, “You ‘might’...’could’ love me,” he swallowed and forced the hurt to the forefront of his eyes as he turned them to meet hers, suppressing the anger masterfully, “but you do not love me now.”

“...I… I don’t know what I feel. I don’t want to feel anything at all. Not when… not when it hurts so much.” Stepping back, her arms enclosed across her chest, she shook her head, “I’m sorry if that’s not what you want to hear. If that’s not good enough. But it’s all… it’s all I have.”

“No,” he sighed and forced a weak smile, “I understand, Esme. I’ll take what you’ll give me. I can make it work...and maybe...one day..”

Breathing out, Esme’s arms uncurled and she held her hands out to him, “I… I want to, Kai. I don’t want to feel like this forever. But I can’t… I can’t give more than that. Not now. Not yet.”

Taking her hands in his, he caressed the back of them with his thumbs, “I know. I’ve waited this long. I can wait some more. Take your time, Esme. I’m not going anywhere.”

Giving his hands a gentle squeeze, she smiled softly through the wake of tears, and stepping forward, her arms snaked around his waist as she hugged herself to him, tightly, “Thank you, Kai.”
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
She needed to see him.

Whatever her father said, Lorraine Davontry could feel no less responsible for all that had happened to her sister than she did. The girl that had returned was not the same as the one that left, and even now, months later, Esme’s grief had taken its toll. With war encroaching upon them, and a prince locked away… their only possible leverage, she had to try something.

She wasn’t a woman accustomed to sneaking around, but for all her uncertainty, she had been taught well before her near-marriage to Prince Brennan, and her friendship with one of the guards was a benefit she had not anticipated coming in use until such a time as now.

Ten minutes. That was all the time that she was afforded, but it would have to be enough. As she approached the cell of Prince Gannon, her heart pounding in her chest, she readied herself for what needed to be said.

“...Your Grace.” Pausing at the door, she looked inside. Their prison was, by prison standards, more comfortable than most, and the prince had been well cared for - no desire for his end before the time was right, it seemed. The luxuries he was granted included a bed, three daily meals and the use of a small wooden tub. She hoped that such accommodations would put him in a favorable mood, “I need to speak to you. My name is Lorraine… and I believe you knew my sister?”

Upon the bed sat the prince of Etheren. Resting his elbows on his knees, he began to wonder if there was ever a chance he was getting out of the cell he found himself in. Every day for the past three months he had studied his surroundings hoping that he might find a way to escape, and for three months he’d found the same thing...nothing. He paid his newest visitor no mind until she spoke her name.

“Lorraine?” he repeated, looking up at her, “Esme’s sister?”

Shifting, Lorraine moved into the light. It pained her to hear her sister’s name on the lips of their enemy… one who had cause her so much pain, but biting her cheek, she nodded, “...Yes.”

Squinting, he studied her face, the angle of her jaw, the softness of the eyes, he could see the similarities, and a smile spread across her lips, “Thank the Gods…” he breathed as he stood to his feet.

Blinking, stepping back, Lorraine frowned, “...Do not mistake my presence here for any bit of hope or kindness, Sir. I am not here as your advocate. What was done to my sister… I will never forgive. But you are the only one who has any prayer of stopping your father. And given your current state, I think it would be in your best interest to help us.”

“Oh?” he stopped, “How am I supposed to help you with my father?”

“...Your father has already lost one son, and I don’t imagine he’s keen on losing the other. For your survival, it would be imperative that you speak your father about the grounds of a truce. If you do so… I will see to it that my father releases you.”

“You want me to speak to my father?” he shook his head, “I won’t do that.”

Frowning, Lorraine’s eyes narrowed, “I should have expected no less. You’re a coward as much as your father. Clearly, the best of you died… and it will be no great tragedy when you do as well…”

“I am many things, Princess, but a coward is not one of them,” he glared through the bars at her, “And I am nothing like my father,” he hung his head a moment before looking back up to her, “And you’re right, it will be no great tragedy when I die because I already have.”

A brow lifted, Lorraine shaking her head, “What is that supposed to mean?”

“I can’t help you with my father, because he thinks I’m dead already,” take a step toward the bars, “I am Brennan Derosa, crown prince of Etheren.”

The color leached from her cheeks as Lorraine took a step back, shaking her head, “N...no. You’re lying. Prince Brennan was murdered. Assassinated, months ago.”

“Mhmm,” he placed a hand on his shoulder, “Took a blade to the back of my shoulder. My own father tried to murder me. Why? Because I love your sister,” he looked down at the stone floor and frowned recalling the times that Kairos had visited him, flaunting the budding romance between he and Esme, “I still do..”

Covering her mouth, stifling a gasp, Lorraine shook her head, “It can’t be… You…” Looking behind her, she frowned, “No. It’s not possible.” Turning away, Lorraine did not hesitate as she took off, back the way that she had come. Her feet carried her with a haste she should not have been capable of possessing, and as she raced through the castle, so too did her mind. Only when she reached the courtyard did she stop, catching the threshold of the archway, her eyes moving to the figures but a little ways away.

Narrowing her eyes, she spoke with a breathless authority, “Kairos. We need to talk. Now.”

Pulling back from Kairos, Esme’s eyes widened at the sight of her sister, “Lori… What is it? Are you alright?”

“...Kairos.” She repeated, her eyes flickering to her sister with an implication it was best she didn’t not overheard, “...Please.”

Annoyance flashed across his face, and as badly as he wanted to tell her to wait, she was a Princess and such a response would not go over well for him, “I’m sure it’s nothing, Esme. I’ll just go see what she needs and I’ll be right back, okay?” He flashed her a smile before joining Lorraine, “Princess? What seems to be the problem?”

Grabbing his arm, Lorraine pulled him into the corridor, and her eyes met his, flaring with anger as she spoke in hushed whisper, “I am going to ask a question, and I expect the truth. Who… is in that cell in dungeon?”

Kairos studied her, shifting and rolling his head, “You went to the dungeon didn’t you. I told them not to let anyone down there.”

“Of course I went!” She hissed, her eyes narrowing, “Our kingdom is on the brink of destruction, and no one seems to want to do a damn thing about it! I saw the opportunity and I took it! Who is he, Kairos!?”

Looking off passed her shoulder, Kairos contemplated his answer, “Brennan,” he mumbled.

“...Oh by the Gods…” Breathing out, Lorraine stepped back, “So it’s true. And you… you’ve known, this entire time? And you didn’t…”

“No,” he said placing a finger over his lips, “And she can’t know. He’s our only bargaining chip with Edwin. We have his crown prince and after everything they did to her...to Esme...he deserves worse and so much more.”

“It’s been three months.” She started again, horror touching on her tone as she shook her head, “Three months you’ve been lying to her! How could you?! When you saw what it was doing to her! When you knew how she felt about him!” Without warning, her hand darted out, the palm slapping hard against his cheek, “How dare you talk of what they did to her! When you have done no better!”

It took every ounce of restraint not to return the gesture. Instead, his hand covered the mark feeling the warmth of the skin beneath it, “He’s one of them, Lorraine. I lied to protect her. You think your father would ever let him out of that cell? You think he’d ever let them be together? It would be worse for her to know that he was in the cell and she’d never get to be with him again. At least dead, she had a chance to heal...to move on.”

“...Was that your plan?” She asked, narrowing her eyes, “To wait until she’d moved on... To move in and hope for the best? You… unmitigated bastard! You have no right! None of you had any right to keep this from her! She deserved to know! She deserves to now, and I will not keep it from her…”

“You will not tell her anything!” Kairos reached out, snatching her arm, “I love her and I will do whatever I must to protect her. I will not allow anyone to hurt her, and that is exactly what you intend to do right now. She’s healing, Lorraine, and you want to rip open those wounds. I will not let you tell her.”

“She is broken! And you took advantage of it… and I have never been more disgusted.” Shaking her head, she tugged at her arm, meeting his eyes with a glare, “How do you intend to stop me?”

“Do not test me, Princess, you will never see me coming,”he threatened.

“Is that a threat?” A brow lifted, as she gave her arm another tug in his grasp.

He shook his head, holding her firmly in place, “I do not make threats, Princess. You will not tell Esme anything.”

“...I don’t have to.” She said plainly, “Turn around.”

A shiver ran down his spine as he slowly turned, his hand releasing Lorraine’s immediately, “Esme..”

But as he turned, Esme was already moving. Spinning on her heels, her soft soled shoes nearly slipping on the stone, she ran off in the direction Lorraine had come from. Softly, Lorraine’s lip curved upwards, “...You should have told her.”

He glared her way before taking off after Esme.

She had never been to the dungeons before, had never had cause to… but her feet flew of their own accord, and as she reached the stairs that led downward, she barely slowed, taking them as fast as she dared. At the bottom, she nearly rammed into the guard before the gate and sucking in a breath, she gestured to it, hand shaking, “Open it!”

“Esme! Stop!” Kairos spoke, putting his hands over his head and breathing, “Don’t go in there.”

“Open… the gate…Now!” Esme repeated to the guard, before she spun to Kairos, shaking her head, “I trusted you…”

With a squeak of rusted metal, the gate swung inward, the guard clearly torn, but in no mood to argue with the frantic princess. Turning again, she stepped inside and taking a breath, her eyes moved among the cells, “Which one…?” She asked, coolly.

Kairos shook his head as he stepped inside after her. A war raged within him...the dungeons were dark enough for him to slip into the shadows. Brennan could be dead and he could be back where he was standing before she even noticed, but that wouldn’t help him. With a groan, he answered, “Second to the last on the right.”

Turning back to him, her eyes met his, as she shook her head, “I would have given you my heart. What was left of it… Now, you will be lucky if you keep your head.” Looking to the guard, she gestured to the cell, “Open it.”

“Princess. I can’t--”

“Open the door!” She growled, and the guard jumped, looking between the princess and Kairos, “I… I need to ask the king.”

Shaking her head, Esme moved, and approaching the cell, she breathed in, her hands curling around the bars of the small viewing gate in the door. Heart pounding, she shut her eyes, leaning her forehead against the bars, terrified to find it was all wrong… that it was all a misunderstanding.

He would not stand here and watch this. Kairos was fuming as he watched everything he had worked for..his plans...all unravel before him. This was Lorraine’s fault, and he’d make sure she made it right.

The commotion outside the door cause Brennan to stand to his feet. The voice...it sounded like Esme’s but it couldn’t be. According to Kairos, the two of them were happily together. The thought still driving a blade that was far more painful than the one he’d been stabbed with. Then, in the small light of the barred window, appeared small hands that wrapped around the bars. Without a word, Brennan crept toward them before brushing his fingers against the flesh, a broken sigh escaping his lips, “Esme…”

That voice…

She would know it anywhere. And yet even then, she could not will her eyes to open. Tears burned behind them, and her hands gripped the bars tighter still, as her breath came in a shallow whimper, “...B...Bren?”

Gently, he slid his hands around hers as best he could, “Hey,” he whispered, “It’s me.”

Breathing out again, Esme’s eyes opened and as they fell on the figure behind the door, a broken sob slipped past her lips, “...I thought… They said… I thought you were dead?”

“I was,” he smiled, “I mean, I survived Father’s assassin and Siegfried helped stage my death. Once I was patched up, I came here as soon as I could. I had heard you were rescued and I had nowhere else to go...Besides,” he pulled his hand back pressed his lips against her fingers, “Etheren is not my home...you are.”

A sound escaped, between another sob and a laugh, as she shook her head, curling her fingers through his, bringing them through the bars and to her lips, “Your father… he told me… and I thought… and then they got me out, and...” Closing her eyes, her forehead came to rest against his knuckles, “They won’t open the door, Brennan. But I swear to you, I will get you out of here.”

“Don’t you worry about me,” he said, “I’m pretty sure I’m not going anywhere, but, Esme, Libby and Kiara are here. Get them out.”

“Don’t…” Blinking, she straightened, “...Are you mad? I’ve just found out you’re alive and you want me to leave you? Here?” Shaking her head, she looked down at the other cells, “No, Brennan. I am going to get you out. All of you. Whatever it takes, I swear you will not--”

“Esmera!” The booming voice of her father filled the hollow walls of the dungeon, and stepping through the gate, Ordin’s eyes narrowed, “Step away from that door, immediately.”

Brennan held firm to her hand, “It’s okay, Esme. To know you’re safe and healthy...it’s more than I could have imagined right now.”

Looking to him, her eyes meeting his, she nodded, “...Then hold tight, my love. For just a little while longer.”

Turning to her father, her eyes narrowed and as she stalked closer to him, she looked up, shaking her head, “...I will never forgive you for this. But if you release him, then there is a small chance I can someday forget what you’ve done.”

Frowning, Ordin’s eyes moved to the cell, and slowly, he sighed, “I’m sorry, my darling. I can’t…”

“...Then you are as dead to me as he was.” And moving past him, she headed for the stairs.
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
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Dungeons were not becoming of a Prince despite the accommodations they provided him with. Knowing that Esme was outside, fighting for his freedom was the comfort he needed though, despite his position. Two days after she had found him in the dungeon, Kiara and Libby had been freed. Their departing, encouraging words still sounding in his head.

It was the third day that worried him, though. The guards seemed more on edge and many looked his way as they spoke under their breaths. It wasn’t until he could hear the battering of the walls, and feel the vibrations as they flexed to resist the assault, did he know why. His father had finally arrived in Calesh and had begun his assault. For two days, he battered the walls until everything went still. Brennan knew exactly what that meant.

The walls had fallen and Calesh was open for the Etherian onslaught.

There were only two guards in the dungeons, the rest undoubtedly doing their best to fight off the invasion. As he paced in his cell, concern and fear filled his heart. He hadn’t heard anything concerning Esmera, and his heart ached to know. Had she escaped? Was she safe? He hoped and prayed she would not be foolish enough to try and cross through an open battlefield to save him. Brennan had already settled with the fact that, this time, he really would fall to his father’s blade.

Esmera did not hesitate. When the wall fell, she gave Libby the signal and left the safety of her room, racing through the palace as fast as she dared.

Calesh would crumble. She had seen the forces moving from her tower window and she knew they could not hold them back. But apart from her sister, she had no ties left to the kingdom that had betrayed her to the depths of her heart. The plan needed to be enacted now or never…

Entering the dungeon, she headed straight for the gate, with a sense of urgency, “The wall has fallen! My father has called for all men to come to the Hall and prepared for the attack!”

For a moment the guards seem to hesitate, and gripping the bars, Esme’s voice rose, “Your duty is to protect the king! Go! Now!”

The gate swung open and the men dashed off, and as their steps echoed up the stairs, she slipped inside, moving to Brennan’s cell, “Brennan? Brennan, are you there??”

“Esme!”He crashed against the door, “What are you doing here? You need to leave. Now.”

Frowning, she shook her head, “You can’t really believe I would ever leave you…” Digging into her pocket, she fiddled until she found what she was looking for, and pulling it free, she smiled, “My father has been… exceptionally accommodating these past few days. Visiting as often as he could manage, before the walls were hit. I managed to have Libby sneak into his study and copy the master key. They’ve got Kiara helping the physicians, and she poured it…” Slipping it into the door, she twisted and with a click, the lock unhitched.

The sound of the lock slipping was the most beautiful noise he’d ever heard. Without a second thought, Brennan burst through the door and threw his arms around his wife, “Oh, Esme,” he breathed, squeezing her tightly against him. When had finished, he pulled back, his hands slipping to her waist, “I thought I’d never get to hold you again, and I wish we had more time, but we need to leave Calesh before my father finds us. You staying, even to free me, was already foolish enough and I’ll not have you in danger if I can help it.”

She could scarcely breathe, as his arms came around her, the feel of him filling an absence that felt core deep. She was reluctant to release him, but he was right, and as he pulled away, she nodded, “Libby and Kiara will be waiting for us by south gate, with my sister. Your father’s attack is targeting the north and east… but he’s flanking swiftly, so we only have a short window. They’ll have horses.” Pausing, she looking up at him, reaching up to cup his cheek with her palm as she shook her head, her eyes filling with tears, “You are real… I… I had been so afraid it was all a dream. But here you are…”

Pulling her against him, Brennan kissed her, a soft moan vibrating against her lips. With a smile, he pulled away, “I am real,” slipping his hand in hers, he jerked his head toward the exit, “Now, let’s get out of here.”

Taking his hand, Esmera nodded, and despite everything that happening, despite all that was still happening around them she smiled when her fingers curled through his. “We’ll take the tunnels… upstairs, into the kitchen and then down the servant steps. They’ll lead us right out beyond the wall.”

With a nod, he turned to the gate, his smile vanishing, “Stay close, Esme, and no matter what promise me you won’t stop.”

“Brennan…” Looking up at him, she shook her head, “Haven’t you learned by now, it’s no use telling me what to do I’m not leaving you behind… not ever again.” At the stairs, she took a breath, “It’s bad out there… Your father, he means to raise the city to the group. Are you ready?”

“As ready as I can ever be,” he nodded before pushing through the door.

The clash of steel and the cries of the dead, dying, and charging filled the halls. His father’s armies had moved fast pushing through the surrounding streets and already fighting had erupted within the castle halls. Their invasion painted the walls red, and littered the floors with people that Esme had undoubtedly grown up with.

The princess’s eyes did not wander… would not. She refused to look, refused to acknowledge it. She had found Brennan and that was all that held her together as the kingdom around her began to crumble to pieces.

“Come on,” he said as he started down the hall. When they had finally found a fallen soldier, Brennan released her hand and pulled the blade free from the man’s body. He tested the weight and feel before starting again.

The two of them had to dodge fleeing servants and nobles, Brennan was thankful that he did not have to fight as much of the fighting had moved deeper into the castle, but as they approached the stairs, he could hear the gloating voices of Etherians. There was no way they would be able to get passed them. Spotting a turned over table, he led Esme to them, “Stay here.”

She opened her mouth to argue, but thought better of it as she nodded and moved swiftly, crouching behind the table. When she was settled, Brennan started up the stairs.

The two men seemed to think the battle was already over, looting bodies and whatever else was small enough to shove in their pouches and pockets. Both of their backs were to him as he approached. Brennan knew he’d only have one chance to take one out before the fight would be turned against him, and that’s just what he did. Sneaking up on the first man, Brennan thrust his blade into the man through his back before withdrawing it and immediately attacking the second. Caught by surprise, the second man did not put up much of fight before he, too, fell lifeless beside his friend.

For a moment, Brennan stood there, his eyes fixed on the scene. He had killed Caleshans in battle before, but for the first time, he had killed two of his own people...the people that he had sworn to protect and one day serve as King.

Esme did not watch, but she could hear, and grimacing, she tried to resist the tears that burned once more. It was necessary. It had to be done, and she tried to remind herself these men would have killed them in return… Tried to find relief in knowing they might have been involved in her torment…

Standing, she moved to Brennan’s side, “We should keep going.”

“Huh?” he asked as he looked down to her, “Oh...ya,” he nodded, “Let’s go,” he took one last look before he stepped over the men….his men.

The kitchen was in sight, many of the staff already lay still, though it seemed so did some of the men that had killed them. Finding a small knife, he extended it to Esme hilt first, “Take it...just in case.”

Taking the blade, she held it in her grasp, looking down at it for a moment. If it came down to it, she would have to use it… but the notion gave her no comfort.

“There's the servant entrance…”

“We’re almost there,” he nodded.

Footsteps behind them made Brennan turn to the door. His heart stilled, “Gannon,” he breathed, but he wasn’t alone. Two other men with weapons drawn stepped into the kitchen.

“Brother!” Gannon stretched his arms out, “It’s been too long, and is that my sister-in-law?” Brennan immediately put himself between Gannon and Esmera, “Cute,” he mocked, “But it won’t stop us. I will kill her, Brennan, in front of you preferably.”

“I won’t let you,” Brennan watched as the other two men fanned out, “I’ll kill you before I let you hurt her.”

Esme’s grip on the knife tightened as her eyes bore into Gannon, narrowing, “Be careful, Brennan…”

It was the man on the right that lunged first. Brennan parried the blow and used his free hand to keep Esmera behind him, but when the second guy attacked, Brennan knew he couldn’t keep it up, especially once Gannon joined the fight. Shaking his head, he stepped toward the servant’s entrance, “Esme...Run.”

He’d told her to listen and she had argued then, and she wanted to now… more than anything she wanted to, but she knew as long as she was standing there, he could think only of her, and she would not be the reason he died. Not again.

Turning, she sprinted for the stairs to the servants entrance.

As she as she left him, the two soldiers launched an assault that took all his concentration to defend against. He only managed to see Gannon sprint passed him and after his wife, “No!” he called out, and could swear he heard the fading, maddening laugh of his brother. With gritted teeth, Brennan pushed back against the soldiers and began his own assault.

Gannon’s feet pounded against the stone floor. His eyes locked on his query. He had waited months for an opportunity to drive a blade in her chest, and now that time had finally arrived, “Run, princess, run!” he taunted her.

He was a madman, but Esme had no doubt of this. She had gone up against his father enough times to know there was no limit to what either man was capable of.

Heart pounding, she turned down the corridor, sprinting as fast as her feet would carry her, but he was larger and faster, and she knew in time he would catch up. Skidding to a halt, Esmera turned suddenly and holding the knife by the tip, she flung it as hard as her arm could manage at the man charging towards her.

Gannon hadn’t expected her sudden stop, he expected the knife even less. The blade bit into his arm just as he tilted body to the left. With a hiss, he slid to a stop, watching as blood flowed freely from the deep cut, the knife clanking against the stone floor behind him, “I wouldn’t expect anything less,” he smirked, before launching toward her.

There wasn’t time to run again, but as he launched, Esmera tried to step back, stumbling over the loose cobbled ground beneath her. She landed hard with a cry, hands raised in a last ditch effort to fight back, swinging at Brennan’s brother, clawing at the man.

He was upon her in a heartbeat, straddling her, grunting against her blows and scratches and batting at her hands until his own wrapped tightly around her throat. Blood slid down his left arm, pooling around her neck, his arms and face peppered with scratches, but he had finally won. He could feel her life slipping beneath him, “I’ve been waiting for this...praying that the Gods would give me a chance to-”

Suddenly, Gannon found himself thrown from atop her. Whatever had struck him, stumbled with him. Gannon tried to get to his feet, but something heavy was upon him a moment later. Blow after blow rained down on him, making it impossible to see who is attacker was. Finally, the blows stopped, and once his vision cleared, his brother stood over him.

With a painful chuckle, Gannon moved slowly, “I’ll…” he groaned, “I’ll kill her.”

“I know,” Brennan spoke sadly as he looked down at his brother. He sported a few cuts, an a mark on his cheek that would eventually bruise.

“I won’t…” he spit blood on the floor and propped himself up on his elbows, “I won’t stop.”

“I know,” in the same sad tone. Gannon opened his mouth to speak when he felt the point of Brennan’s sword press against his chest.

“You’ll have to-” his words stopped as the blade pierced through flesh and slipped between his ribs. He gasped as it passed through him slowly.

“I know,” Brennan spoke through quivering lips. Despite everything Gannon had done and the man he had become, he was still Brennan’s brother and he had just killed him. Brennan watched as the life vanished from his eyes, before he closed them and stood.

Staring, a hand to her throat, angry red and slick from Gannon’s blood, Esme’s heart gave a painful pinch. Brennan rose, and her gaze followed him, her eyes filling with tears, “...Bren… I am so sorry…”

“Me too,” he whispered, “He left me no choice...it was him or you,” he turned his eyes to her, tears pooling in them, “Right?”

Pushing to her feet, Esme reached for his hand, nodding, swallowing the pit in her throat as her fingers slipped through his, “...But your father has taken too much, Brennan… This? This is his doing, too. And we need… we need to stop him.”

With a nod, he took one last look at his brother, the color now faded from his face, “Let’s go,” he said softly before continuing down their path.

Turning, Esme glanced back only once to the sight of Gannon’s motionless form. Senseless destruction. That was what Edwin’s war had waged… and now it had cost him both of his sons. What more would the man be willing to lose…

The tunnel led, as Esme had suggested, out past the wall near the south gate, and as the sounds of chaos faded from the ear, they emerged, into the darkening night. Ahead, she could see the torchlight and moving towards it, found Libby and Kiara waiting. Pausing, Esme paled, her eyes dancing between the two women.

“Where’s Lori…?”

Swallowing, Libby shook her head, “I… I’m sorry Miss. We tried. We couldn’t find her, and then the soldiers were pourin’ in… and we had to go, or we’d never make it. I…”

Breathing out, Esme turned back in the direction they had come.

“We can’t go back,” he muttered as he stood beside Esme looking on as Calesh burned before them. Flames stretched outside of windows turning the stone black as smoke filled the sky above them. The noise had died down due to distance, but Brennan swore it still sounded loud and clear around him. So many people...innocent people, murdered, “I’m sorry, Esme, I’m sorry I couldn’t stop it,” he gave her hand a squeeze.

Shaking her head, she looked back to Brennan, her expression distant… nearly void. It was her home. Her home, and it was devastated, all for the pride of two men, who would, in the end, lose everything if it wasn’t stopped.

If Lorraine made it out, Esme would find her, but she wouldn’t endanger the others… and she couldn’t turn back.

Nodding, finally, she squeezed his hand in returned and looked to the horses, “Let’s go.”
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
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Prestige
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Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
She couldn’t get out.

Esmera had come to her, when the first signs of the encroaching army had appeared over the hills, and told her the plan, and for all her uncertainty, she had to admit it was a workable solution. Stealing the imprint of the key had been clever on her sister’s part, and it would be no difficult task, getting rid of the guards. All Lorraine had to do was meet the serving girl and the physician in the stairwell and they would head to the gate.

The trouble came when the soldiers broke through far faster than Lorraine had expected, and barring admitting to her father the entire plan and giving everything away, Lorraine was forced to flee to the Great Hall, where the king and his kin would be protected…

Esme would get out, and that was all that mattered… Or at least, that was all that had mattered, until the army arrived outside the doors. Her father, armored, his sword at the ready turned to her and his eyes, dark and expectant fixed on her a look of sadness, “Lori… you need to go. You know the way… through the tunnel behind the tapestry. You are next in line for the throne… and I cannot imagine what that man will do to you, if you are taken. Go! Forget about me and go.”

Tears in her eyes, Lorraine shook her head, “Daddy…”

“Lori… Please. If I can do one thing right as a father, let it be this. I’ve already lost your sister… I cannot lose you, too. Now, go!”

And so she had run. Through the tapestry, through the tunnel… spilling out somewhere near the western wall. Scrambling to her feet, Lorraine rose up and heart pounding, she raced for the gate, past fallen guards and soldiers and citizens, splayed in the streets.

As she rounded the corner, the ring on steel met her ears and skidding to a halt, she narrowly avoided skewering herself on the outstretched sword of an Etherian High Guard. The man looked her over, smirked and shook his head, “What have we here…”

Sneaking through the castle had been extremely difficult for Kairos despite the night. The fleeing subjects, raging battle, and corpses littering the halls, made escape the hardest thing he had done since breaking Esme out of the Etherian dungeons. Despite the difficulty, the emissary pushed on.

King Davontry had ordered his presence at the Great Hall, but Kairos had chosen to ignore the orders of a dying king. Instead, survival forced him onward and finally out of the castle and into the bloodied streets. Silently, as he pressed himself against the wall to avoid soldiers, Kairos cursed the fact that nothing seemed to be going as planned. He had hoped that by the time that Edwin had taken Calesh, he would have been married to Esme, or that she would have loved him enough to follow him no matter where he went. Instead, Brennan had arrived and ruined all of that. And then there was Lorraine. The sister that had ruined everything he had hoped for. She’d pay for sure.

When it was clear, Kairos rounded the corner, still masked by shadows, just in time to see Lorraine skid to a halt before a soldier. For a moment, he contemplated leaving her to the soldier, but something else forced its way to the forefront of his mind. If he saved Lorraine, Esme would trust him again, and just maybe things could still work out.

With a sly smirk, Kairos picked up the spear of a fallen soldier not far from him. Sneaking up on the man, Kairos shoved with all his might, the spear puncturing through the man’s stomach from his back, “Princess!” he called out to her.

Lorraine cried out, as the soldier collapsed to his knees and for a moment, shock registered in her eyes, before, without a word, she crossed the short distance to Kairos and sobbing, threw her arms around his neck.

“I have you,” he replied slipping his arms around her, “Shh,” he comforted her for a moment before pulling back, “We need to leave, Lorraine. Now.”

Shaking her head, she looked up at him, “Kairos… I… I am so sorry. About everything… I…” Drying her eyes, she steadied herself as much as she could manage, nodding, “...Right… Come on.”

As they made their way through the streets, Kairos held firm to her hand, “Lorraine, does your father know you’re out here?” he asked.

“He sent me…” Breathing out, she glanced over her shoulder to the burning pyre of the palace, “I… I don’t think he’ll make it out, Kai. Oh, God. What will happen to us?”

He stopped, pressing the both of them against a wall, subtly using his magic to provide them with cover, “I don’t know,” he shook his head, “We’ll be fugitives, I suppose, but for now, we’ll focus on surviving,” he offered her a soft smile, “I’ll protect you, Lorraine.”

Looking up, eyes damp, Lorraine shook her head, “What I said, Kai… about you… with Esme. If we don’t make it… If I don’t make it, I need you to know, I didn’t mean it. I was angry and jealous and I should never have said it…”

“Jealous?” he asked, “Of what?” he led her down a dark alley and into a small shack, pausing only a moment to allow her to a moment’s rest.

“...Of… of you and Essie…” Shaking her head, she looked away, “I thought… after everything that happened to her, I thought maybe I could be okay with it, because it would help her. To heal. But I… I wasn’t. And when I found out he was still alive, I just wanted to stop it… any way I could.”

Kairos seized the moment, “Me and Esme?” he pretended, “Oh...no, Lorraine,” he stepped to her and placed his arm against hers, “It wasn’t what you think.”

“It…” Blinking, she met his eyes, “It wasn’t? But I thought… the way you were always around her…”

“She was hurt, physically and emotionally,” his brow narrowed, “She’s like a sister to me. I was simply looking after her hoping that my company might help her recover faster,” he shook his head and pushed her hair away from her face, “Lorraine...I thought you knew.”

Breathing in, she shook her head, “...Knew what?”

“It’s you I care about,” he told her, “it’s always been you.”

With a staggering exhale, a tear fell, “Oh, Kai… I had no idea. You never… you never told me.”

“I was afraid you’d tell me that it was nothing more than a childish fancy. I’m not a prince, Lorraine, I am...was...an emissary. I had no status, nothing to give you...well, nothing except my heart,” he returned.

“Look around you, Kairos… I have nothing. My entire world is burning to dust and ash. But you… you’re the only thing that matters. And your heart is all I have ever wanted.”

He smiled warmly, his knuckles sliding against her soft cheek, “Then my heart, you shall have.”

Leaning against his touch, her eyes closed, “...You’ve always had mine.”

Kairos leaned in, ready to kiss her when a sudden crash against the interrupted him. Quickly, he sealed his hand over her mouth and pressed a finger against his lips, “Shhh,” he told her before pulling her down to the floor only then did he pull his hand away, “We’ve stayed here too long,” his head swiveled, coming to a stop as he spotted a window, “Come now, my love, the window. It shouldn’t be too much further after that before we are free,” he whispered before taking her by the hand and leading her toward the window.

Tugging back for a moment, Lorraine stared at him, “...Say it again. Just… just in case.”

“Oh, Lorraine,” he whispered moving close to her, “My heart belongs to you...always.”

Smiling, nodding, she gestured to the window, “...Let’s go.”
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
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The longer they ran, the more people they ran into. Soon their band of four had grown to eight...sixteen...twenty-four. In two weeks, their band had grown to thirty-one. Brennan and Esme found themselves trying to coordinate a mobile camp that constantly grew as refugees fled the wrath of Etheren. It was a lot to manage, especially when word spread that Brennan was a Prince of Etheren. No one wanted to listen to him, to heed his council, and Brennan even began to fear for his life.

“Esme,” he spoke to her inside their tent, “They don’t trust me. I’m Etherian and the last thing these people want are Etherians in their midst,” he sighed and then crossed his arms over his chest, “It doesn’t matter that Edwin tried to kill me,” he had quit calling the King of Etheren his father since the fall of Calesh.

Settling down beside Brennan, Esme reached out, giving his forearm a gentle squeeze, “They’ll get there, love. It’s only been a few weeks. Calesh is gone… my father--” Trailing off, she lowered her gaze, “...In time, they will come to see the calibre of man you are. They will love you… Just like I do.”

“If I live that long,” he muttered and then slipped an arm around her, pulling her against his side, “How is Libby acclimating to her new role? Kiara can be quite rough. More so when the health of her patients is at stake. You should have heard her when we were walking through the forest to get to Calesh. Sometimes I think she forgot she was speaking to a prince.”

“Libby’s tough… And I think it’s good. Her bonding with someone. All she ever had was her sister…” A sigh escaped, and her hand reached up to curl through the hair at the back of his neck, “I’ll speak to them… her and Kiara, and see if the three of us can’t shed a more favorable light on you. But Bren… you have to trust it’s just going to take a little bit of time. Or…” Smiling faintly, she shrugged, “We could just go off on our own… Find a little house in the country. Start our own lives. Hm?”

He shook his head slightly with a smile, “Don’t tease me, Esme. I just might take you up on that,” then he sighed, his shoulders sagging, “But I would not be able to enjoy it, not when these people suffer.”

“And that… Bren… is what will make you a wonderful king some day.” Running her hands across the stretch of his shoulders, she smiled faintly, “Though I can't say I relish the idea of tents… or the lack of privacy, for very much longer.”

“Mmm,” he raised his eyebrows, “I must agree...there are just some things that we have gone long enough without,” a smile sliding across his lips.

“Like a hot bath…” She mused with a teasing smile, “And warm breakfast…”

“And…” he shifted and slid his hands around her waist, his fingers dancing against her sides.

“Hmm… A fireplace. Clean linens…” She continued, a brow lifting.

“Clean clothes,” he tapped his lip feigning thought, “Or even the lack of clothes at all?”

Grinning, Esme shifted, dropping onto his lap, her arms around his shoulders, “Why… Prince Brennan. What a novel idea.”

“Thank you, Princess Esmera,” he draped his arms loosely around her, “Sometimes I have them,” he sighed, looking up into her eyes, “I promise that as soon as this whole thing is over, Esme, I’ll give you everything you could ever dream of. A home...children...If you desire it, it will be yours”

Smiling delicately, Esme shook her head, “All I want is you, Bren.” Her expression softened as her fingertips slipped around his shoulder, delicately touching the edge of the scar… the assassination attempt that had nearly cost her everything, “I have them, too…” she murmured, “But none ran deeper than the thought that I had lost you. Knowing you're safe is all I'll ever need.”

His hands ran over her body, unashamedly. The thought that his father had managed to scar her body made him frown, “There is so much more that I want you to have. For everything that you’ve suffered. I will be here, Esme, but I want to hear the padding of tiny feet against the stone floors, giggles filling the halls, and ‘mother’ ringing from the lips of children. I want you to have all of that.”

Her smile warmed as she leaned back into his hands, “Hmm. That does sound nice. But we won't get anywhere if we can't get a moment to ourselves.”

Frowning, he watched as a few shadows ran across the tent. He could hear the conversations beyond the tent walls, “You’re right...We’ll have to remedy that….soon,” patting his hand against her thigh he smiled with a groan, “We need to check on the scout reports and the supplies. We picked up another family last night and I want to make sure that we’ve got enough supplies to feed them as well,” He shook his head, “But I don’t want this to end..”

Laughing gently, she rose from his lap and held out her hands, “Alas… we picked the wrong lineages, my darling, for thinking of ourselves. Come along… let's see to our lost sheep, and then you and I can take the supply run. At least we'll have a few minutes grace.”

Taking her hands, Brennan stood to his feet and scooped up his sword. It was a gift given him by a soldier upon his passing. His own sword was no doubt hung on Edwin’s trophy wall back in Etheren, and the one that he used to kill his brother was left in Calesh. Now, because of being on the run and surrounded by people that he did not trust, he always had it close.

Stepping out of the tent, he was greeted with the busyness of their makeshift camp. Tents dotted the forest floor all an earthy tone in efforts to hide them. He could see Kiara and Libby working fervently with the other two healers they had stumbled upon to tend to the wounded and sick. Young Peter, the scouting commander, started toward Brennan and Esme as soon as they stepped out of the tent. Gaias, a stout, older soldier and loyal to Esme only, approached as well, with two other soldiers beside him.

“Your Highness,” Gaias bowed to Esmera before bowing again, a bit more uncomfortably to Brennan, “I have good and bad news.”

“Let’s hear the bad news first,” Brennan spoke.

Gaias’ jaw clenched and his eyes turned to Esmera, “The good news is our scouts have located an abandoned house in some clearings not far from our location. The bad news...one more soldier deserted last night. We’ve got far too many peasants for our small band of soldiers to protect.”

Frowning softly, Esmera shook her head, not wholly unaware of Gaias’s dismissal of her husband, “We can't force them to stay, Gaias. Many are scared… or have families of their own to find. To bury. And we've already discussed… We cannot turn away those in need. We simply cannot. Now… This house, where is it located?”

“They’re Caleshan soldiers, Princess,” he shook his head, “Desertion is not acceptable. They’ve a duty to-”

“Their families,” Brennan interrupted.

“What do you…” Gaias paused, deciding against pursuing his line of thought. Instead, he answered Esmera, “Peter’s men found it, so it’s better if he fill you in.”

Stepping up, Peter gave proper bows to both royals, a gesture that brought a huff from Gaias, “Your Highness,” he straightened up, “Jasper reported back of a farmstead in a clearing no more than a couple of miles northwest of our position. He brought back a sack of grain and said there was more that a small party might be able to retrieve. Some animals, too.”

Looking between the men, Esme nodded, “Brennan and I will check it out… We'll need some extra supplies for the latest family.” Eyes flickering to Gaias, she sighed, “We need to stop thinking the way we did before, Gaias. Calesh is gone and unless we find a way to adapt to life out here… together, we will fall as well.”

Turning to Brennan, she smiled, “Ready?”

“Just the two of you?” Gaias interjected. His eyes bounced between his princess and Brennan.

“Yes.” Esmera noted with a nod, and in a tone that suggested arguments would be pointless, “Prince Brennan is more than capable of protecting his wife, Gaias. Really… your duty is to the camp. We won't be gone long.”

Gaias answered quickly though Brennan knew he didn't like the idea of leaving Esmeralda alone with Brennan. Letting out a sigh as Gaias walked away, Brennan turned to Peter, “Any reports of troop movement in that area?”

Peter shook his head, “No. all the reports have the Etherians several miles to the southeast. If you and prince Brennan move swiftly, you should be there and back before we have to move camp again.”

“And if we aren't, be sure you move camp to where we’d discussed, just under the cover of the ridges to the west,” Brennan replied before turning to Esme, “I'm ready when you are.”

Nodding, Esmera gave his hand a squeeze, “Ready.”

There was no established path in any direction from their camp, diligence called for them to keep well hidden, which meant they had all needed to memorize not only their location, but several others in the area, as well as a constant recognition of direction. As Esme headed northwest, out of the clearing and into the thick of the trees, she frowned softly, “I'll speak to Gaias when we return. He ought not to be dismissing you as he is…”

His hand rested on the hilt of his sword and he shrugged, “I don’t blame him, Esme. I just wish they saw that I am only trying to help them. I’m sure if they see that, they’ll see me.”

“You've shown nothing but loyalty to me and our people. It's ridiculous prejudice that got us all into this and I won't have it in my camp.” Frowning, she looked over at him, “You deserve better for all you've done.”

“I don't disagree, and I’d be lying if I said it did not bother me, but I am trying to understand...trying to be patient. I would have a hard time looking at a Caleshan in a positive light had everything I’ve ever known and loved been destroyed by their forces,” shrugging, he continued, “I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing, and I have to believe that they’ll start coming around.”

“Hm…” Looking over at him, Esme shook her head, “You know I already love you with all that I am, Bren. Don’t need to make it any easier.” Giving him a gentle nudge, she smiled, “They will come around. I know it. And we’ll find a way to rebuild. You and I. To make a kingdom greater than anything our fathers could.”

“Wouldn’t that be a sight to behold,” he smirked, “What our fathers destroyed, we will make better. I like the sound of that,” he slipped an arm around her and grinned, “Although, is it selfish of me to want to build our future together, to start a family, first before getting too heavily involved in others?”

Chuckling, Esme shook her head, “Not at all. Or if it is, I don’t particularly care. We never got the chance to decide our future, Bren… and while I’m glad things worked out the way they did for us, it would be nice if for the rest of it, we decided how we did things and when. I think we’re owed a little peace of our own, for the time being.”

After kissing the roof of her head Brennan let out a sigh, “I couldn’t agree more. I know we aren’t finished here. These people aren’t safe, and my father’s forces aren’t done with their culling, but I’m tired, Esme. I’d almost give this all up for a small house in the middle of nowhere with you. Almost.”

Pausing, Esme gestured ahead of them with a small, pleasant smile, “...Something like that?” She asked, gesturing to the little hovel, resting abandoned in the clearing. No doubt, it belonged to a family who had run off during the attack - decently built, with strong wooden walls and a sturdy roof, “...If we stayed here, no one would ever know.”

The suggestion was tempting and for a moment, Brennan actually considered it before he hung his shoulders and shook his head, “I would, Esme. As tempting as it is, to just disappear with you and never be discovered, I couldn’t do it, not while our people are suffering,” he studied the building and let out a disappointing sigh, “Curse duty…Come on. Let’s see what we can salvage from here and get back.”

Shaking her head, Esme turned to the cabin with a small sigh of her own, “Shame…” Pushing the door inwards, she stepped across the threshold, her eyes skimming over the rest of the house. It was quaint and small, one room, but well cared for. No doubt, the family had been reluctant to leave… She had never tried to imagine what life might have been like for her, if she had not been born to her station, but standing there in the cabin it was difficult not to… Standing over the small corner stove, boiling up vegetables for a stew. Tiny feet pattering across the wood floor, and a wolfhound, curled up by the fireplace…

Curling her arms across her chest, Esme frowned softly, “...Curse duty.”

This was not the life Brennan had grown up in, nor was it the life that fate seemed to have for him, but he couldn’t help but dream about farming and hunting with the boys. He had even divided the surrounding land using the existing layout. The animal pens would be to the west; the farm to the south. He pictured working in the fields and turning to see Esme, swollen belly and all, standing in the doorway, leaning against the wood.

“Three,” he stated with a smile, “three cows, a chicken coop, a few pigs,” he laughed, “Can you imagine me taking care of animals?”

Laughing, Esme shook her head and moving to him, she looped her arms around his middle, “I can imagine the animals running you out of your mind. But we’ll have the little ones to help. Hm… three boys and a little girl. She will, of course, rule us all.”

“Three boys,” he whistled, “at least I’ll have plenty of help, and I don’t know,” he shrugged, “She’ll have to compete with you when it comes to me..and that’s not going to be easy….for you,” he turned in her arms and brushed hair from her face. His fingers traced the outline of her features as he continued, “She’ll have your beautiful blue eyes, only hers will be bigger. She’ll also have your delicate features, and I’ll apologize to her for whatever she gets from me. She’ll be beautiful...just like her mother.”

“And clever, like her father.” With a soft sigh, she leaned into his touch, “...And with three brothers to protect her, she’ll be tough. It’ll be nice, not having to worry about her all the time. You still will, of course…”

“Oh, all the time,” he admitted with a smile, “I’ll teach her how to defend herself, and charge her brothers with defending her honor,” he pictured her learning to clean and prepare animals, cooking beside her mother and giggling in play with her three brothers, and he shook his head, “It’s all too far away. I don’t want to wait.”

Laughing faintly, Esme leaned back to meet his eyes, “We’ve quite a ways to go, my love. And we’ll never get there if we can’t find a moment alone. I’m weary of it… The camp. I know what we’re doing is right, but I would give anything for four walls and a door between us and the world.”

“Me too,” he said before scanning the setting. A sly smile spread across his lips, “I don’t know about you, but,” he placed his arms on her hips, “I see four walls...and a door,” he jerked his head toward the door, “And they’re between us and the world.”

A brow lifted, as Esme followed his gaze and smiling faintly, she shrugged, “Well… Would you look at that. So they are…”

“There’s no one to run passed us. No one to ask us where we are heading next. No one wondering if there are enough supplies. No Gaias to give us status reports. No new people arriving for shelter,” he ended each sentence with a step toward the straw bed. It would not be as comfortable as his bed back home, but Brennan was sure that any bed with Esme in it would be fitting for a King, “It’s just you and me.”

Searching his eyes, Esme’s expression softened, as she nodded, “...Just you and me and a very long overdue moment.” Reaching up, her fingers brushed the edge of his jaw, "For just a little while, we could have the world…”

“I already do,” he said softly before kissing her.
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
Some time later, Esme lay beside her husband an altered woman. Her cheek resting against his chest, she breathed out a small sigh of contentment, her fingertips dancing along his arm in soft, subtle circles.

“...Bren…” She murmured, her voice breaking the silence in the small cabin, “Do you think it’s possible? For us to have this some day? I know we have so much to overcome, still… and we can’t abandon our people. I would never want to. But do you think that we might ever just… be?”

Brennan hummed, one arm draped over her, the other simply resting against his stomach, “In our own way, maybe. One day, when this is all over, I will be King and you my Queen. We will always have a responsibility to our people and a duty to fulfill, but I think, even in the midst of all of that, we might could just be,” he kissed her head, his heart swollen with love.

“Did you ever think…” She mused, rolling over to rest her chin on him, “When all of this began that we would end up here? That despite everything, we could be happy…?”

Sliding his freehand under his head, he lifted it to meet her eyes, “I wasn’t sure,” he shook his head, “But I always had hoped...I told you that at our wedding feast. But,” he smiled, “I did not know that I would be this happy, that you would change my world for the better and bring a light to all of this...Esme, I meant it when I told you that I already have the world. You are my world.”

“Then wherever we end up, my love… I could ask for nothing more. Even if we spend the rest of our lives in a tent, surrounded by our little kingdom.” Shifting, she pressed up to steal a kiss, "I will want for nothing.”

The creaking of the door, wrestled Brennan’s attention from his wife. His eyes bounced from the door to his sword that sat propped up against the wall too far for him to reach without getting out of the bed, “We can hide in here for a bit and catch our breath,” something about the voice was familiar, “It looks like the occupants left in a hurry so you might even be able to sleep comfortably for a little while.”

As Brennan glanced for his sword, Esme pulled up the blanket, and not a moment too soon… as Lorraine stepped over the threshold, paling, stifling a small cry with her hands. For a second or two, there was silence… absolute and pounding, before the younger sister breathed out, “...Lori? Oh thank the Gods… you’re alive!”

“Essie…” Lorraine whispered, hovering by the door, “Wh.. what… how… Oh!” Turning around, her cheeks turning red, she shook her head, “Sorry! Kai… We should… wait out--”

“Kai?” Shifting, Esme looked briefly to Brennan, her face falling in a frown…

Brennan’s jaw clenched and the only thing that kept him from rising from the bed to get his sword was the fact that Lorraine was in the room, “What is he doing here?”

“What indeed?” Esme asked, looking to Lorraine, who had turned around again.

“Oh, Essie… No. Don’t be mad. He… he saved my life.” Reaching behind her, she took hold of Kairos’s hand, smiling faintly, “...It’s alright.”

“Alright?!” Brennan spat as he leaned over the side of the bed and swept up his pants. It took him a moment to slide them on under the sheets before he slipped out from under them and to his feet, “He kept me locked in a cell and taunted me,” deciding to end it there without further detail.

Reaching out, Esmera caught Brennan’s hand, shaking her head, “He lied to me, Lori. For three months…”

“...He wanted to protect you, Es. He was afraid of what Father would do, if you knew about it. He spent those three months, thinking of a way to free Prince Brennan… Only I didn’t give him time to explain it all, when I confronted him.”

“I had to sell it,” Kairos spoke, his hand peeking from around the door.

“Don’t you dare come in here!” Brennan commanded, grounded to his position by Esme’s soft hand, “The things you said.”

“They needed to believe I had ill-intentions for you, Prince Brennan. If they didn’t, they would not have allowed me close enough to study the structure of cell you were in to device a way to get you out,” Kairos answered.

Looking to his wife, Brennan shook his head, “I don’t trust him, Esme.”

Squinting, her eyes shifting between Lorraine and Kairos, Esme frowned softly, “...Lori?”

Looking up, Lorraine swallowed, “...I was escaping. Father ordered me out of the Hall… right before it was attacked. I ran into an Etherian soldier and I would have died, if Kai hadn’t shown up when he did. He saved me, Essie.”

“...No.” Shifting, sitting up a little, Esmer shook her head, “There’s more…”

Her eyes moving to Kairos, Lorraine nodded, “So much more…”

“You’ll need to convince me, Princess, that he’s not the selfish bastard that lied to Esmera and taunted me,” Brennan stood taller, “Because, right now, I want to leave him for the scavengers.”

Frowning, Lorraine fixed Brennan with a stare that suggested she might argue. But what she said was ultimately worse, “I love him.”

“...Lor…” Esme started, with a frown.

“No! Essie, no. You… you listen. Everyone thought it was ridiculous, the way you talked of Prince Brennan as though the world began and ended with him! He was Etherian, and the crown prince, no less! But I stood by you, and I never once judged you for it!”

Sitting back, thrown by the confession, Esme shook her head, her eyes shifting beyond her, to where Kairos stood outside, “...And you, Kai?”

Clearing his throat, Kairos shuffled as far as he dared, Brennan standing between the doorway and his wife acting as a barrier, “I-It’s true. We love each other. I don’t know what I would do without, Lorraine.”

“Princess,” Brennan snapped, “Princess Lorraine.”

“...When we were back at the palace, shortly after you rescued me… You told me much the same, Kai. You’ll forgive me if I find it all a bit strange that suddenly you’ve become so enamoured by my sister.”

“Oh, that would be it, wouldn’t it…” Lorraine hissed, “No one could possibly choose me over you, could they, Esmera.”

“...Lori, that’s not--”

“No. I’ve heard enough. I had hoped and prayed to find you, Esme. But this? This is not what I expected, at all.”

Breathing out, Esmera shook her head, “I’m sorry. I… I only want to protect you, Lor. You know that. I love you… and with the lies… Even you have to admit it’s difficult to believe. I’m giving him a chance to explain. That’s all.”

“You are family...a sister I never had,” Kai finally spoke from the door, “I don’t know what I would do without you...and I do love you,” he paused, “But your sister...Lorraine, I love her, Esme. I really love her.”

Rolling his eyes, Brennan turned to Esme, “We should leave him.”

“If you leave him, then I go, too.” Lorraine said, plainly.

Blinking, her eyes, welling with tears, shifted between her husband and her sister. Softly, Esmera frowned, “...Bren…”

For the first week, after leaving the palace in ruins, Esme had been inconsolable. She had lost everything she’d ever known. Her home, her father and her sister, all in one moment. If not for Brennan, she would never have made it through, but it had still been trying and difficult times…

“Esme,” he turned to her and could see the sadness in her eyes. After a moment of thought, he finally agreed, “Fine, he can come,” Brennan gently pulled his hand from Esme and stepped outside so that Kairos could see him, “But I swear to the Gods..” he shook his head, “I swear on my love for Esme, if you so much as hint that all of this was a ruse, I will kill you without hesitation.”

Grimacing at the words that echoed back into the cabin, Esme pinched the bridge of her nose. Stepping further inside, Lorraine bent for Esmera’s dress and bringing it over, held it out to her sister, “...I didn’t mean to make demands, Essie. And I’m sorry for what I said. They should love you… they have no reason not to.” Bending, she took hold of her sister’s hand, her eyes tearing up, “But I am happy… and I know I have no right to be, with all that’s happened, but please… please don’t ask me to give that up.”

Looking to Lorraine, Esmera shook her head, “I never would.” Giving Lorraine’s hand a squeeze, she nodded for the door, “I’ll be out in a minute.”

Lorraine rose, with a bow of her head and turned to slip outside, closing the door after her. Her eyes moved to Brennan and she frowned in thought, “Come where…?”

“We have a small camp a few miles from here. It’s full of refugees fleeing from the battles. We’re here to scavenge for some supplies. A scout reported some extra bags of grain and there are some clothes inside that would help out families that lost all of that. Gaias will breathe easier knowing that both Princesses are safe,” Brennan spoke, his eyes not wondering far from Kairos.

“Well, four pairs of hands are better than two,” Kairos offered, “Lorraine and I could help carry some things back to the camp.”

A small smile formed as Lorraine looked back at the cabin, “...Hm. Yes. There were clothes inside…” But it was said quietly enough before she looked back, “We’ll help wherever we can.”

“Fine. The grain should be in that small shed,” he pointed toward the structure, “I’ll help with the sacks once I’ve…” he cleared his throat, “Once Esme’s dressed, you could probably help her gather some things from inside, Princess.”

Brennan excused himself before he stepped back inside. Picking up his shirt, he slipped it over his head as he spoke quietly, “I don’t like this, Esme.”

Turning around as Brennan answered, Esme gestured vaguely to the ties of her dress, giving her head a small shake, “It’s not ideal, Brennan… But Kairos is a benefit to have around. I’d much rather he be on our side.” Looking over her shoulder at him, she smiled faintly, “...Our little world was nice… for a time.”

A short groan slipped through his lips as he stepped behind her and began to work the laces, “It was,” he said with a warm smile, “We’ll have many more,” he placed his hands on her shoulders when he finished, “I promise,” he spun her and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips, “Lorraine will help you gather things from inside the house. I’ll help Kairos with the sacs of grain. Hopefully there’s a cart and something to pull it, but I’ll have to check.”

Smiling gingerly, she reached up to tap him on the tip of his nose, “You’ll behave? I don’t want you getting into it with him. I know you don’t trust him, and I’m not so convinced, myself… but we must be better than our fathers, Bren. Give him a chance?”

Brennan frowned a moment before he nodded, “For you, Esme, I’ll give him a chance. If I get into it with him, it’ll be because he deserved it….more than he already does.”

Leaning onto her toes, she kissed him, “I know you didn’t trust him before, but this feels different...What exactly did he say to you in that dungeon?”

A sigh slipped through his lips before he turned away from her and placed his hands on his hips, “Kairos….he told me that you had moved on...that you and he were..”

A brow lifted, and Esme smiled faintly, “...You didn’t believe him, did you?”

“If I had, do you think I would be here today,” he admitted, “It did not stop the words from doing their due harm, though.”

Reaching for his hand, she gave it a soft squeeze, “...I’m sorry, my love. Even if he’s to be believed, it could not have been easy on you. We’ll be quick with the supplies and then back to camp. With Lori here, maybe we can figure out a way to split… It’s getting bigger and bigger by the day, and soon enough, we won’t be able to hide out in the woods.”

“You want to split the camp and give some of the people to Lorraine and Kairos?” he returned.

“It would keep everyone more safe. Gaias has been saying there’s far too many, but if we start turning people away, who knows what might happen. If we split into two camps, Lori and Kai could take one in one direction, we would go the other. I can’t speak for my sister’s taste in men, but she is smart… and they will follow her.”

“You’re right. As much as I would rather not leave anyone with Kiaros, you’re right. Your sister would ensure their safety,” he moved to the bed and sat upon it, his hand running over where she had been laying. He let out a sad sigh before he turned to the task of putting on his boots, “We can talk to Gaias and the others when we get back to camp and see what they think.”

Looking to him, she smiled faintly and moving over, held out her hands to him, “...Let’s not let Kairos and Lorraine detract from this moment, alright? I have never been happier in my life, Brennan. I’m not sure it’s at all possible for me to be.”

Standing to his feet, he took her hand in his, “Me neither, Esme, but I’ll take it when I can get it. Who knows when the next time will be that we’ll simply be allowed to enjoy each other.”

With a soft, sly grin, she shrugged, “If I have any say in the matter, it won’t be nearly as long as the last time. I’ll order everyone out of camp, if I have to.”

“Oh?” he smiled with a shake of his head, taking a step toward her and slipping his arms around her waist, “Don’t tease me, Princess.”

Shaking her head, she tipped her chin up and pressing onto her toes, stole a kiss, “Hmm… Oh, I’m completely serious. I won’t be denied. I am a Princess, after all… Now. Go…” Tapping him on the tip of his nose, she smiled, “Before you distract me, again… and we get no work done.”

He pouted playfully before nodding, “Once again...you’re right. I’ll go see what I can do to help Kairos,” he started to pull away and paused, “And, Esme, I love you.”

“I love you, too, Bren.”
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male
The murmur that arose as the company of four returned to the camp did not go unnoticed by Brennan. He had left with what was thought to be the last surviving member of the Royal family only to return with the princess that was heir to the throne. Not only did he bring her back, but he also brought the King’s emissary, Kairos. Even Gaias seemed to be excited about his return though he was certain it had nothing to do with the fact that he, himself, had returned and more to do with the return of everyone else.

After securing the bags of grain and other goods they managed to salvage from the house, Brennan headed straight for the command tent knowing that Gaias and Peter would be waiting there for them. Pulling back the flap, he waved for Esme, Lorraine, and Kairos to enter first. As he stepped through, Gaias dropped to a knee before Lorraine and Peter offered a deep bow.

“Your Highness,” he addressed her, “it is so good to see you well. I had thought that you might have fallen with the others in Calesh.”

Lorraine shook her head at the soldiers, “Please. Rise… I have no throne out here…” Looking to Kairos, she smiled faintly, “I would have perished, if it were not for my father’s emissary. I am only glad he found me when he did.”

“We’re all glad he did.” Esme added, smiling as well, “But we need to discuss the next course of action. Our camp has grown in size… and I’m afraid if this continues, we may be too great to hide. I propose we split the came… Lorraine, you and Kairos taking one group… and Brennan and I the other.”

“You want to split the group?” Kairos spoke up, “Sounds like a more dangerous proposition. I mean, I see the reasoning in the increased numbers, but there is also safety in numbers. Besides, how would we decide who goes with who? Will you take Peter and his scouts while we take Gaias and his military genius?”

“I must agree with Lord Kairos,” Gaias added appreciative of the compliment.

“I understand the apprehension, but Esme’s right. If we were a group of fighting men, it might be different, but we have women and children to consider,” Brennan returned.

“I think Prince Brennan and Princess Esmera are right,” Peter stated, “The smaller the group the easier to manage and move. It’s why my scouts can get in and out because there are only one or two of them in one place.”

“And it won’t be forever…” Esme noted, “Just until we’re safe. Until we can build our numbers up… and find a way to fight back against King Edwin…”

“Princess Lorraine?” Gaias looked in her direction, “Your thoughts?”

Straightening, Lorraine frowned a little, “I mean… if it's what keeps everyone safe, I'm inclined to agree that separating the camp would be for the best. For now, at least.”

“It’s settled then,” Brennan stated, “Peter, Gaias, Kairos, and I will discuss how best to split the groups in a way that ensures the highest rate of survival and functionality without tearing apart families.. Esme, you and Princess Lorraine could start preparing the people for the split. The faster we do this, the safer everyone will be. Let’s plan on heading out separate ways in two days. That should be enough time to split the people, supplies and allow everyone to say goodbye for now.”

Nodding, Esme rose, “Good… Then we’d better get to work. Lori?”

Lorraine rose and with a small smile, started towards the entrance of the tent with her sister.

It took the bulk of the day to decide who was going with who. Gaias constantly interjected that he believed Brennan to be choosing to leave Kairos vulnerable despite Brennan’s objections. Finally, it was decided that Gaias would go with Kairos and Lorraine, along with just over half of the soldiers because she was next in line to rule. In order to balance it out, Peter and just over half of the scouts would stay with Brennan and Esme in order to help keep the group moving faster. Without splitting families, the groups were split almost evenly with the bulk planning to travel with Lorraine. By the time the meeting was officially over, the moon had risen and Brennan exhaustedly stumbled into his tent and fell fast asleep.

The following morning everyone began to work at once, collapsing tents, and gathering their things. Brennan was going over the final plans for soldiers and their equipment while Kairos shadowed Lorraine and Esme in the task of dividing the food other materials.

Lorraine, since they had decided on splitting, had been rather adamant that she stick near her sister. Separating would come, but despite Esme’s reassurances that they would see each other again, Lorraine seemed convinced this was a more dire situation than proposed.

When Kairos began tailing them, it was nearly more than Esme could take. She couldn’t deny that her sister seemed smitten, and Kairos put on a good enough show of it, himself, but she knew what had happened in the palace… what had nearly come from their conversation in the garden, and she had no doubt in her mind that Kairos had told Brennan what he had in the dungeon to try and drive her husband towards distrust…

As Lorraine divvied out the last of the supplies, Esme approached Kairos, a brow lifting as she paused beside him, “You will take care of her, yes?”

“With my life,” Kairos promised, his eyes shifting to Lorraine before meeting Esme’s, “I meant it all, Esme, your sister...she’s amazing.”

Frowning softly, Esme looked over to Kairos, with a small shake of her head, “...I want to believe you. I do. Kai… I’ve known you my entire life and I thought…” A sigh escaped, and she turned away, her eyes scanning the crowd of refugees, “I just don’t want her to get hurt.”

“She won’t, Esme,” his eyes turned to Lorraine and he smiled, “I promise,” he shook his head and sighed, “And you be careful, too. I know you love him, but what’s to stop him from switching sides?”

Frowning deeply, Esmera stared at Kairos, “You can't seriously be asking me that question. After what he went through with his family? What you and daddy put him through… and he's still here, protecting our people?? How dare you even insinuate that he would ever side with his father!”

“You’re family,” he returned, “and I will always be concerned for you. We’re at war with his people. How long do you think he will be able to stand against them, to kill the men he grew up with, the ones he swore to protect and lead. That wears on a man. You must have seen it in him when you were escaping the castle,” he returned.

“He killed his own brother to get me out of that palace, Kairos.” Her eyes narrowed at him, “And if you ever question my husband’s loyalty in front of me again, I will have you charged with treason. Do you understand? You may be like family… but he is my family… More than that, he will be king, some day… and you will show him all due deference.”

“King of what?” Kairos returned, “Caleshan ruins? Etheren?” he scoffed, “You think they’ll ever allow him to be king? He chose a Caleshan Princess over his own people,” he paused, “Esme, I want to believe in him,” he sighed, “but this is war, and war changes men,” he took a step away looking toward the sky through the trees, “but if you believe in him, I will try harder.”

“War changes men…” Looking at him, she frowned in thought, “It does, indeed. You used to believe in it, Kai… That Etheren and Calesh could become one unit… that we could have peace. What happened to make you so cynical?”

His eyes grew dark, “Calesh fell, Esme. Your father’s dead. People I loved...gone. Nothing goes the way you hope it will...the sooner you see that the easier it’ll all be.”

“Calesh fell because my father was a fool, who put his own pride and stubbornness about his people and his own family! He sent me to Etheren as a spy. And thank the Gods I didn’t follow through with it, or who knows where we might all be, now. We have a chance to do things right, now… to repair the damage. But we can’t do that if you’re still looking at Brennan as the enemy.”

“You don’t get it,” he shook his head, “It doesn’t matter how you view him, or even how I view him. To all these people,” he gestured around them and then pointed a finger toward her, “to your people, he is the enemy. It won’t matter that he fled Etheren because his father wanted him dead, or even that he killed his own brother to save you. They’ll only ever see King Edwin. They’ll only ever see the faces of the loved ones they lost.”

“They will if the people they trust continue to! You have the opportunity to make things better, but you can’t see past who he is, either. Will you be blinded by pride, too, Kairos?”

“Blinded?” he pulled back, “I’m blinded? I’ve never seen more clearly in my life. You’re the fool blinded by love,” the moment the words left his lips, Kairos regretted them. He did not mean them...well, not all of them. Esmera was anything but a fool, but blinded by love she was, “Esme, I didn’t…”

“Don’t…” Stepping back, away from him, she shook her head, “You just can’t… You can’t fathom that I chose him over you, can you? I knew it was a mistake… trusting your word. And if that’s the way you feel, then perhaps it’s a mistake leaving you in charge of the other camp.”

A sudden scream tore through the camp followed by another...and another. Kairos tore his angry glare from Esme and looked off toward the scream. His eyes widened, “Etherian soldiers,” he looked at Esme, “Run!” he told her as he started toward the last place he’d seen Lorraine.

Chaos erupted outside the tent. Peter, Gaias, and Brennan all drew their weapons and rushed through the flap, “Peter, the supplies!” the scout nodded, “Gaias, Gaias! Wait-” the commander headed off pulling a frustrated growl from Brennan. But that was the last thing he needed to focus on now. His eyes quickly scanned the chaos, “Esme!” he called out. His eyes finally falling on her.

Esme’s gaze shifted swiftly from the camp to Kairos, but before she could say anything, they were set up. As the soldiers poured in around them, she looked up, hearing her name, but the chaos of the assault, bodies raced in every direction, a flurry of panic.

“Bren!” She called back, staggering back, “Brennan, where are you!?”

All around him, innocent, unarmed people were being cut down. It didn’t matter whether or not the victim was aged, man, woman or child. Etherian steel bit into all. He heard her voice over the noise, “Esme! I’m coming,” he yelled as he started toward her. His sword cut through the guard of a soldier who happened upon Brennan. He grunted as the blade bit into flesh. Anger boiled within him. Etherian soldiers were supposed to be better than this. His father’s corruption had even infected them. Detoured only once more in order to save a young mother and her baby, Brennan stepped into the clash of steel that separated him from Esme. He could see her clearly now, “Esme! Run!”

His voice resonated again, and Esme found him at last, watching as he waged steel against steel with another soldier. Her heart hammered and looking around, she found a cast iron skillet laying near the bonfire, discarded from their meal earlier. Scooping it up, she wove her way through the crowd, and as she neared the soldier engaging Brennan, she swung the skillet as hard as she dared at the back of the man’s head.

An impressive thwong rang out as the soldier stumbled forward and onto Brennan’s sword. Quickly, he turned the man, allowing gravity to pull him from the sword, “I said run,” he scolded her before the corner of his lip turned up, “but thank you,” reaching out, he took her hand and started away from the battle, “Where are Kairos and Lorraine?”

“I am not leaving you…” She hissed, “The last time I ran when you told me to, your brother nearly strangled me to death!” Frowning, she turned around, “Kairos was just there… Lorraine… I think she was in the tents. We need to get these people out of here, Brennan!”

Scanning the campsite, Brennan let out a small breath of relief to see Kairos leading Lorraine from the tents, “There,” he pointed, Kairos looking back to the pair before disappearing into the brush, “Gaias!” Brennan called out, the commander turning to see Esme beside Brennan, “They’re safe!” he spoke of Lorraine and Esme. Gaias nodded. Whatever orders he barked to his men, made them sure up their line, “Esme, help get the people into the brush around the camp. I’ve got to help Gaias and his men.”

Frowning at him, Esme shook his head, “Brennan, no. You must come with us! This is why we have soldiers! To protect the royal line! I’ll go, but only when you do, too!”

Brennan shook his head, “Esme, I have to help. There aren’t enough swords. But I cannot fight if I have to worry about you!”

Her eyes burned, tears welling up as she shook her head, “I swear to you, Brennan… If you don’t come back to me…”

“I will. Now, get out of here. Help them,” he flashed a quick smile before turning to the line.

Gaias and his men were straining against the wave of attackers. They’d managed to create a thin wall to end the spilling of innocent blood, but it the sheer number of the enemy guaranteed that Gaias would lose some good men. Brennan filled the spot opened up when one of Gaias’ men fell near him.

“What are you doing here?” Gaias asked between parrys and swings.

“I’m helping!” Brennan replied.

With a shake of his head, Gaias spoke, “Go. Princess Esmera would never look at me the same should something bad were to happen to you. As much as I do not like you, I could not bear that.”

When Brennan ignored him and kept fighting, Gaias reached out, grabbed Brennan by the shoulder and tossed him from the line. Brennan tried to take his post, but the line shifted and filled, “Go, Prince Brennan,” Gaias would not be argued with.

With a growl and a shake of his head, Brennan turned and made his way toward Esme.

Esme had only made it to the edge of the tree line when she heard the footsteps behind her, and spinning swiftly, she brandished the iron skillet, her eyes widening. But at the sight of Brennan, she breathed out, “Thank the Gods one of them has sense!”

He frowned, “Gaias, he sent me back,” he looked around and then back to her, “How many do we have left to get out of here?”

“I've cleared out the tents… We're…” Pausing, she breathed in, steadying herself, “We're missing some. I'm not sure how many ran on their own or…”

“We’ll have to take a headcount at the next site. Hopefully the ones that ran off will remember where we said we were setting it. Once things calm, I’ll make sure Peter sends scouts back to check who we lost,” he took one last look behind him, the battle still fighting, and frowned, “Let’s go.”

Catching his arm, Esme shook her head, “We've been… so careful, Bren. How did they find us? How?”

“I don't know,” he shook his head, “we should have never been found. Peter’s reports told us that the soldiers were heading in the opposite direction.”

“Do you think…” her eyes trailed off into the woods behind them, but she shook her head, “No… nevermind. We should just go.”

He wanted to press her for her thoughts, but decided now was not the best time, “We’ll talk about it later when we’re safe.”

Nodding, Esme reached for his hand and pulled him into the safety of the treeline. It wasn't a thought she particularly wanted to revisit later, but she knew they couldn't ignore it. There was trouble among their ranks and they needed to get to the bottom of it, fast...
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
It was bad…

Four other locations hit by the same attackers… their numbers nearly decimated. When they had all finally come together at the latest rendezvous, there was an air of sorrow and fear that tainted the faces of her people in such a way that Esme could scarcely believe any of them had even stayed… For hours Lorraine did her best to comfort those who had lost loved ones, and Esme saw to the supplies, but eventually there was only so much waiting that could be done.

They needed answers, and there was little point in delaying the inevitable. Council was called, and in the main tent, Esme sank down beside her husband with a sense of dire uncertainty. Her fingers curled through his, holding onto him as a lifeline, and leaning her head on his arm, she sighed softly, speaking up.

“I think we all know why we’re here…” She began, grimly, “But before we begin… Does anyone have anything to say?”

Brennan sat beside Esme, defeat beating down upon his shoulders, “We all know the losses we suffered. The reports are before you,” his eyes shifted between the six other people in the room, “There’s no way someone could have known all the locations. To stumble upon one is a coincidence but all four…”

“What are you suggesting?” Kairos sat up, “That one of us betrayed our own people?”

Brennan shook his head, “I'm not saying that at all, but somehow the Etherians got their hand on the information, whether it was through carelessness or intention.”

“Gaias scoffed. His face sported several bruises and cuts, “You speak as though those soldiers aren't your own people. You are not one of us, Prince Brennan.”

Rising, Esme’s eyes narrowed at the soldier, “You will hold your tongue. I will not have you showing such abject disloyalty to my husband. One more word like that, and you will be dismissed… Understood?”

Brennan squeezed Esme’s hand and flashed her an appreciative smile, “Something or someone is happening, I assure you of that,” his eyes lingered on Kairos, “And I intend to find out how we lost so many people and why.”

Gaias bowed quickly, “Yes, Princess.”

Peter shook his head, “Prince Brennan has done nothing but help us.”

“And he killed his own brother, too,” Kairos spoke up, “We can trust him. If he feels like someone is leaking the information, or is not being careful enough. We ought to investigate.”

Gaias growled but nodded eventually, “You’re right, Lord Kairos. It is suspicious that we were hit as we were. Where should we start looking?”

Esme continued to glare at Gaias, but her eyes flickered briefly to Kairos, and not without a small note of surprise in her expression. After their talk, she had hoped he might change his tune about Brennan, and so it seemed he had…

“Curious, Gaias… that for all you seem keen to implicate Prince Brennan, the information regarding our movements was kept in your possession. How do you figure that works out?”

Gaias pulled back. His hand pressing against his chest, “I would never, Princess Esmera!”

Brennan tried to suppress the grin that threatened to upturn the corners of his lips. Watching Gaias squirm under her interrogation was beyond satisfying, but Brennan believed him. Gaias’ life was dedicated to the service of the throne and the people it was supposed to serve. His fierce loyalty toward the Princesses of Calesh only added to it.

“I swear by the gods that it wasn't me,” He repeated.

“I believe you, Gaias,” Brennan stood to his feet, “But someone in this room is our weak link and must be reinforced or replaced for the sake of the rest of us. I will find out who.”

“I’m not so quick to trust…” Esme said, frowning, “But I do trust my husband’s judgment, and you should be very glad for that, Gaias.” Turning to Brennan, she sighed, “At any rate… we can’t stay in one place for long. Not anymore, and I think it might be best if myself or Lorraine keep hold of the scout information. To avoid any further mishaps.”

“I think that perhaps you should,” Kairos spoke up, “You've proven sound judgment and responsibility. In addition to that, you know the people better. Princess Lorraine has other tasks to see to and the reports just might be too much for the Queen to be involved with right now.”

Shrugging, Brennan agreed, “I don't see anything wrong with that. Once Lorraine feels she knows the people well enough, she could take on that responsibility. It would be good for the future Queen to know strategy and how to interpret these reports.”

A brow lifted, as Esme looked to Kairos, and while Lorraine said nothing, there seemed to be an edge of confusion in her eyes.

“Very well…” Esme nodded, “That’s what we’ll do, then. Gaias and Peter… you two will rotate on scouting, as well… so that the information isn’t passed through one channel directly. And we must be diligent. No one leaves the camp alone, and not without someone knowing where they’re going and why…”

Gaias and Peter nodded and Brennan sighed, “We need to take count of the supplies and, Peter, have your men keep a special eye out for more supplies that we can dispatch teams to retrieve if need be. We couldn't grab everything in the escape so we need to know exactly what we've got to deal with.”

“Oh,” Kairos spoke up, “Princess Lorraine and I could do that. It'll give her an opportunity to be out before the people more.”

Brennan’s eyes narrowed, but he was too tired to argue or inquire as to why he was so eager, “That leaves you and I, Esme.”

“I suppose we’d better check our numbers again, and get a definitive idea of who we’re missing. Then we’ll know if someone makes it back to us… Or if someone’s going around pretending to be one of our fallen.”

“It'll be hard to verify who's dead until Peter’s scouts can make it through the camps, but knowing who's missing will be a big help should the scouts run into anyone while they’re out,” Brennan sighed, “You all know what needs to be done. Let’s get to it.”

Rising, Esme watched as the others wandered off to their tasks, before she reached for Brennan’s hand again, “You wanna tell me what you’re really thinking, now that they’re all gone?”

Shaking his head, Brennan stood beside her, “Something’s not right, Esme. It's beyond all this...beyond the attacks. I just...I have a bad feeling about this, but I can't put my finger on what it is,” he pulled her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her loosely, “I'm exhausted,” he told her plainly, “The amount of work and sacrifice that we.. and for them to be suspicious of me, to think that I had anything to do with all of this. I'm wrestling with duty…”

Curling her arms around him, Esme shook her head, “...We could go…” She whispered, softly, “You and me. We could just leave… Find our cottage, live our lives in peace. Lori is the rightful ruler of whatever’s left of Calesh, anyway. And I can’t stand it, Bren. The way they treat you. It’s not right and I won’t let it keep happening…”

“I want nothing more that that,” he admitted, “and maybe when Lorraine has a better handle on things, that will be exactly what we do. I've sacrificed enough...We have endured enough.”

“I just want the peace we were promised… and if we have to leave all of this to get it, so be it.” Looking up at him, she managed a small, weary smile, “You are all I need, Brennan. You will always be all I need.”

“And you would be alright with that?” He lowered his brow and brushed the back of his knuckles gently across her soft cheek, “You would be alright leaving all these people in their hour of need?”

“Maybe not right now… but once they’re sorted, Brennan… what more can we do? We can’t build a kingdom in the woods, with a handful of tired, angry people. And they won’t be alone, anymore. Haven’t we given enough?”

“Yes, we have,” he nodded, “Besides, I don't need a kingdom. I’ll have you,” he smiled,” our three boys and little girl,” he pulled back, “That is still the plan right? You didn't change it on me?”

Laughing softly, Esme shook her head, “I haven’t, no. Only that I’d like to start sooner, rather than later.” Taking his hand, she sighed, “Come on… We should get our headcount started…”

Brennan pulled her back as she stepped away, “And when our task is complete, I will start looking for a place for us,” he promised.

“Hm…” Glancing up at him again, her smile brightened, and she gave a firm nod, “I like the sound of that. I love you, Brennan… So much.”

“And I, you, Esme,” he reflected her smile before leading her out of the tent and into the camp.
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male
Kairos’ head swiveled as he made his way through the camp. Brennan had informed him and Lorraine that he was going out to look for a place to settle down with Esmera and would be gone for the majority of the day. It was the perfect time for him to do what he had always intended, but could never pull it off.

Sneaking into Esme and Brennan's tent was difficult, but once inside, he went straight to work. Moving to the small boxes that they undoubtedly used as a makeshift desk, he sifted through the sheets of paper until he found what he was looking for. The scout reports revealed troop movements that were heading their way. With pursed lips, he quickly tucked the papers into his robes before he continued to look around. To really sell his plot, he needed something that belonged to Brennan. Unfortunately, the prince seemed to be less materialistic than many others that shared his title. He kept searching until he came across a small red gown that Esme wore. He found himself picturing her in it, twirling about with a smile in her face meant only for him.

“What are you doing in here…?” The voice came from the entrance to the tent, as Esme stepped inside, her cheeks reddening at the sight of Kairos, fumbling through her clothing. Closing the flap behind her, her eyes narrowed, “...And you’d better speak quickly, before I call for a guard.”

Caught, Kairos swallowed hard and turned around slowly. His hands held up in a non threatening way, he sheepishly smiled, “I...I wanted to speak to you..about Lorraine.”

Eyes shifting, Esme shook her head, “You should have waited until I was here… What about my sister?”

“I think we both can see that a lot has happened in the past month. With all the uncertainties, dangers, and threats, I think it's in Lorraine’s best interest if we do everything we can to protect her,” he took a step away from the red gown and brushed his hands over his robe.

A brow lifted as Esme continued to watch him, “Lorraine is to be the future queen of Calesh… Once we’ve secured our position. I imagine she’ll be quite well protected. And she’s also my sister… of course I’ll do what I can to keep her safe.”

“She has a guard, and of course you would do what you can, but would it not be best if someone was with her all the time? That could guarantee her safety and protect her no matter the time of day or the location?”

Her expression shifted, as confusion stole over the irritation at his intrusion, and crossing her arms over her chest, she studied him, “What exactly are you getting at, Kairos?”

“I can protect her, Esme. I love her and I can be that constant protection for Lorraine that we both know she needs. With you and Brennan leaving soon, she’ll be the last Royal here. But in order for that to happen, in order for me to be that for her, I'll need to marry her.”

Her eyes widened and her arms fell to her sides as Esme stared at him, shock registering swiftly, before she covered it with a cautious glare, “...What are you really after? Because if you expect me to believe you really love my sister…”

“I do, though, Esme. I really do,” Kairos sighed and tried to flash a convincing smile, “And I want to keep her safe and provide for her. I can do that better at her side than anywhere else.”

“...I imagine you think you can do quite well by her side.” Esme said, pointedly, “...But you hardly need my permission. What Lorraine does with her life is her choice. I can only hope she makes the right ones.”

“She will make the right one,” he smiled sadly, “I am sad that you don't think I am that right choice, though.”

“I have a difficult time believing you feel so strongly for my sister, after what happened before I found out Brennan was alive. I won’t apologize for not trusting you, Kai. I wish it weren’t the way things ended up, but I know what I saw in you, when you told me how you felt… and I know now, you aren’t being honest. And that scares me… For Lori’s sake.”

“Esme,” Kairos shifted his weight, “This...this wasn't…” Screams tore through the camp pulling his attention away from the conversation and beyond the tent, “What?” They grew louder and more frequent, “Lorraine,” he spoke with widened eyes as the clash of steel began to rise, “I've got to find her!”

Straightening at the screams, Esme turned to the tent opening, “...No… This can’t be…” But there was no sense arguing it, and turning to Kairos, she nodded, “Find her and get her out of the camp! I’ll help the others. Go!”

Nodding, “Kairos started toward the exit, “Esme, be careful,” he told her before slipping out the tent.

Esme watched as Kairos left and narrowing her eyes after him, shook her head. He couldn’t be trusted… but there was no choice, now. They were under attack, again, and Brennan was still away. And they could not afford to lose anyone else…

Turning, she reached for the iron skillet she kept by her bedside, and slipped out into the fray.

How much time had passed, Brennan did not know. Early in the morning, he kissed his wife goodbye and left to find a home for the two of them to retreat to once things were finally solidified under Lorraine’s rule. The closer he got to the camp, though, the more alarmed he became. A faint cry fell in his ears first, then the familiar metallic scent of war. The camp was under attack again!

The song of his blade rang out as he drew it and took off in a full sprint. People were already fleeing passed him and when he could, he'd engage the soldiers chasing them. However, concern for Esme began to rise because he had yet to see her.

Bursting through the surrounding bushes, Brennan charged straight into the camp driving his sword into the side of an Etherian soldier. Pulling it free, he attacked the next until he was beside Gaias, “Where is Esmera?” He yelled.

Gaias shook his head, “I thought I last saw her following Kairos from her tent.”

“Kairos was in my tent...alone with my wife?” Brennan asked but before Gaias could reply, he started toward his tent, “Esme!” He called out.

The skillet rang out with a crack as Esme slammed it into the jaw of an encroaching soldier, but she only got one good hit before there was one too many. Kairos had fled, leaving Esme alone and as she backed away from the men, their swords primed, ready, her heart hammered and she silently cursed the man she had once called friend.

“Princess.” One of the men started, grinning slowly, “Been a long time coming, this…”

The soldier jerked before looking down to notice the sword protruding through his stomach. It quickly pulled free before it sung through the air and buried in the shoulder of the second man. By then, the third turned to face his attacker, “Prince Brennan!” He cried as he parried a blow from the very angry man.

Brennan didn't stop, though, he rained blow after blow until the boy’s guard broke and the sword hit into flesh. Standing over the dead men, he yanked his sword free, his chest rising and falling with hard breathes, “I can't leave you for half a day?” He asked as he looked to his wife.

“It’s Kairos…” She murmured, her own breathing deeper than usual, as she slumped back against a barrel of potatoes near the tent, “He was in our tent, and whatever he says, he wasn’t there to ask permission to marry Lorraine. I think he’s been stealing information and feeding it to Etheren…”

“What?” Brennan didn't like Kairos at all but even that seemed a little bold for the man, “You're certain?”

Shaking her head, she straightened, “I can’t be certain, no. But Brennan… I know what happened… the things he said to me, before I found out you were alive, and there is no way that he loves my sister the way he says he does.”

“Hmm,” he said as he reached for her hand, “Let's get out of here and when we join up with those so make it, we can talk about it then. We can call him on it and he can make his defense. Right now, let’s just get you to safety.”

Taking his hand, she frowned, “We need to get Lori away from him, Bren. She’s completely entranced by him… I’m worried.”

“I don't know how, but we’ll do it. We’ll do what we can, Esme,” he started toward the brush, “Keep up, my love! This attack was more precise, harder.”

“They… they came straight for my tent, Brennan. They knew who I was. No doubt your father’s gotten wind I'm alive. We have to find a way to keep these people safe, or we won't have any left…”

The fact that his father’s men knew who she was and where to find her sat uncomfortably with Brennan. They should not have known that she lived or where her tent was. It should have been less organized than it was. Esme was right. Somehow his father’s men were getting the plans to their camps, but how? And who was responsible? The more they talked about it, the more Kairos sounded as though he could be the one. Still, without proof, the people would not believe Brennan. They probably wouldn’t believe Esme.

They ran into the night until they finally made it to the edge of the new camp. Lorraine and some of the others were already there organizing it it seemed, but the closer the grew to the crowd gathered in the center of camp, the easier it was to hear them.

“....has to be the person. It would be the princess, because she’d never betray us. It has to be Brennan!”

Brennan pulled her to a stop and hid in the shadows where the torchlight did not reach.

“Kairos insists that it is not Brennan, but kairos defends him because of his relationship to Princess Esmera.”

“I think the princess is being held against her will, being forced upon by that Etherian scum.”

Brennan hung his head and his shoulders sunk. He turned to Esme with sad eyes and shook his head, “There’s no place for me here. No matter what I do, Esme...I’ll never be good enough...I'll never be one of you.”

“We should string him and leave him to the birds! Maybe when his father sees his rotting corpse, they’ll stop hunting us down!”

Her eyes narrowed as she overheard the words being spoken, and shaking her head, she straightened, “Enough of this…” She muttered, stalking forward, “What is the meaning of this!?”

“Esme..” Brennan tried to stop her.

The small crowd fell silent as the princess confronted them. It wasn't until one man stepped forward that they were willing to speak at all, “Some of if was just thinking...it’s quite to coincidence that Brennan was away during the attack. And...and that the reports were in his tent.”

“How dare you…” she hissed, “How dare any of you! He has risked everything… his own life to be here, protecting you. And this is how you treat him? This… this is not the way of Calesh and I will not stand for this any longer! The next person who has an issue with my husband, Prince Brennan… will come to me, or will suffer the consequences of this treasonous behavior!”

“Calesh is gone,” the man returned, “and so are many of our friends and family members. Surely you are not blind and have noticed that we've been attacked far more than is normal in our flight. Someone is giving away our position and he is the only one that seems logical. The only one who gains from such betrayal. “

Glaring, she shook her head, “Because he’s Etherian!? You’re as blind as my father was! And look where that got us! If we cannot see beyond our prejudice, then we deserve where we’ve wound up! And I for one have had enough! If this is the foundation our new land will be built upon, I will not be a part of it.”

“We only want to be safe...to be feel protected,” he argued on. Some of the others agreed, “Isn't that what you want?”

“Prince Brennan has given up everything, to protect you! Everything! His home, his family… He nearly gave his life! And even now, when you stand here and insult him, he holds his tongue… I have never been so ashamed to be Caleshan…”

The small company began to look ashamedly upon each other. When the one that had been speaking saw Brennan step out from behind the shadows, he averted his eyes quickly. Brennan let out a sigh, “I understand your apprehension and distrust of me, but let me assure you that I have nothing but your best interest in mind. Princess Esmera and I will discover who is behind this and we will put an end to it in order to keep you safe, but, please, be patient...and try to trust me.”

After a moment of silence, the man spoke up again, “We will,” he nodded and the group began to disband, “I’m sorry.”

“You’re afraid,” Brennan returned, “I understand. Let’s direct that fear in the right direction, toward the true enemy,” he smiled encouragingly.

“And instead of conspiring in whispers and gossip… figure out who among us could be passing on this information.” Esme added, taking Brennan’s hand, “We need to work together, here. Or we will fall.”

The man offered a bow before stepping away. Brennan let out a deep breath and shook his head, “Think that they’ll change? Really?” He asked as his eyes bounced between the faces of them men and women that had walked away. A few of them were stealing glances their way.

“No.” Esme said with a broken frown, “I don't think they ever would have, either. Peace isn't going to happen, Brennan. Not between our worlds. And we need to leave, before they turn against you for real.”

Squeezing her hand reassuringly, he replied, “I found a place, Esme. If you’re certain, we’ll leave after everyone’s made it back and we can help identify who made it and who didn’t.”

“I'm sure…” She nodded, her expression softening, “I'm tired of defending you to these people. It isn't fair, after all you've done for them. And we deserve the freedom.”

“Then it’s settled,” he looked to her, “Tomorrow we can start looking into who gave away the camp’s position, starting with Kairos. Then we’re out of here.”
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
It was decided. They were leaving the following afternoon. As soon as the people were accounted for and they were able to forewarn Lorraine, they would head off on their own, forsaking their duties for the lives they had been denied.

She might’ve felt guilty, except for Brennan’s treatment as of late. It unnerved her, the fear that they could turn on her husband at any moment… the fear that Kairos might be plotting exactly that.

As they headed through the clearing to find Lorraine and Kairos, she glanced to Brennan with a small frown, “We can always come back… if things settle down.”

“No,” he shook his head, “Time won’t change their minds. Maybe after several generations have passed, when the wounds left behind by this war have healed, our children could. I don’t need this...Only you and our future.”

“Hm…” Nodding, she have his hand a delicate squeeze, “Then let’s go tell them. The sooner we do, the better we’ll be for it.”

Brennan nodded to her, certain that they were making the right decision despite the smidgen of doubt that ate at the back of his mind. Lorraine and Kairos were standing among a few of the survivors when Brennan approached them, “Princess Lorraine...Kairos, could we have a moment of your time? Esme and I have something we’d like to discuss with you,” he looked to Esme and nodded slightly, “something private.”

“Us, as well, it would seem.” Lorriane’s answer carried a note of shortness, and her eyes flickered to Esme with a small note of sadness. Leading them away from the crowd a way, she held up a hand as Esme opened her mouth to speak, before she looked to Kairos, “Tell her, My Love… what you've discovered.”

Kairos’s eyes avoided Esme, it was easier for him to look at Brennan, “Sufficient evidence has been uncovered impicating Brennan as the one responsible for feeding our locations to the enemy. I’m sorry Esme, but it’s been him all along.”

“...Are you serious right now,” Esme hissed, as she stepped towards Kairos, her hands balling into fists as her side, “Are you mad!? After what I caught you doing? You would dare to try and implicate him, in any of this!?”

“I wish it were not!” Kairos replied, “I wish that all of it..the evidence..everything that has happened..were not, but that is not reality. Whether fabricated or not, there is sufficient evidence to give the people what they’ve wanted...vengeance against the Etherians. It matters not that Brennan is no longer one of them. To our people, Etherian blood still runs through his veins.”

“This is absurd,” Brennan blurted out, frustrated, “After everything...I’ve killed Etherians to protect many of these people. Why would I then turn around to endanger them? Does that make sense to any of you?”

“Lori… You can’t believe this! You can’t!” Esme cried, her eyes tearing up as she stepped closer to Brennan.

Her sister’s gaze was lowered, and there seemed a weight on her of discomfort, “...I’m sorry, Essie. What he says is true. All of it.”

“This is your doing!” Brennan snapped as he took a few steps toward Kairos. The man nodded and before Brennan could react, strong hands gripped at both his arms, “What is this?” he fought against his captors.

“Prince Brennan of Etheren, you are under arrest for treason,” Kairos spoke and Brennan could have sworn he saw the hint of a smirk on his face.

“No!” Esme cried, turning her eyes to the soldiers, “Release him, this moment!!”

“Essie! Enough!” Lorraine’s voice rose, quivering slightly with emotion as she looked on her sister, “It’s done… You need to stop. Now. Or… or you’ll be arrested, too.”

“Lorriane! You can’t… you can’t believe what he says! You have to-”

“I am the future queen of Calesh! I don’t have to do anything, and it would do you well to remember that! Your judgment is clouded, little sister… and I’m sorry, but the ruling is made. Take him away.”

Brennan fought against the men, but they were stronger. His attempts were futile, and he looked on with anger-filled eyes as he was once again ripped away from Esmera. This world had thrown them cruel fate after cruel fate, and if he had had any sense to begin with, he would have left with her the first time she suggested. Damn duty. Damn these people.

“I’m sorry, Esme,” Kairos said softly, “I wish it weren’t so.”

Turning, eyes narrowing, Esme shook her head and without a word, balled up her fist, hooking it at Kairos’s jaw, “Don’t! Don’t you dare...”

The blow struck true causing Kairos to turn to the side and catch himself with an extra step. When he straightened up, a flash of anger shone in his eyes before giving way to the soft eyes he had mastered. He put up a hand to stop Lorraine from saying or doing anything, “You’re angry,” he started, “I understand that. I would be, too.”

“You’re a monster…” She growled, lowering her hand. Her knuckles had split where they’d struck, red and angry with what would undoubtedly be a bruise, “And you…” She looked to Lorraine with a broken glimmer, “...I don’t even know you, anymore.” Turning on her heels, she looked to the guards, “I’m coming with you. I am still a Princess and these are still my lands. So do not think to argue.”

Kairos watched as Esme followed behind Brennan. Even still, she stayed true, stayed close to him. It was infuriating. Perhaps there would be no hope in redeeming her to him. With a sigh he turned to Lorraine...she would really have to do. Discarding his inward struggles, Kairos flashed a sympathetic smile, “She’ll come around, Lorraine. Just give her time.”

“Yes....” Lorraine agreed, “It's for the best. She'll be safe, now. And someday, she'll understand.” But she didn't sound entirely convinced, “But… but you're sure, Kairos. Of what you uncovered? You're absolutely sure it was him?”

Putting on sad eyes, Kairos nodded, “Unfortunately. Brennan did betray us, and tomorrow, he’ll stand before the people and pay for it.”

“Very well…” Lorraine nodded, “Let us hope this is the end, and we can put this mess behind us. Move forward on to better things.”
 

DarinValore

129% of people exaggerate.
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male
Kairos waited until nightfall. In the cover of darkness, he snuck from his tent and made his way through the site. He passed the command tent and the tent where Brennan was being held before he came to a stop before a single tent at the outskirts of the campsite. He shook his head, “Esmera,” he called through the material, “I know you’re upset with me, but we really need to talk.”

It took a moment or two, before the canvas entrance to the tent swung open, and Esmera peered our into the night, her eyes falling with a narrowed gaze on her former friend, “...Upset? I was upset with you when I found out you had hidden my husband from me when I thought he was dead. Upset does not begin to cover what I am, right now. You and my sister are conspiring to murder Brennan for something he did not do… Something you know he didn’t do. And if you have any sense of self preservation… you will walk away.”

“I know he didn’t do it,” Kairos stated plainly, “I came here to help you free him. You know as well as I do that these people will never accept him. He is forever in danger so long as he stays here. We must set him free, and he must flee from here because they will kill him eventually, with or without evidence.”

Blinking, Esmera stepped out of the tent, “...If this is a trick…” Frowning, she shook her head, “Why would you… You’re the one who accused him. Why would suddenly want to help him escape?”

“It’s not trick, Esme,” he put his hands up in front of himself, “I accused him to keep him safe. People were already talking about him. You must know that. Those talks were taking darker turns. I accused him so that he would be under guard, and the people would be satisfied,” he shook his head, “Esme, I don’t want misery for you. I want you to be happy, and if Brennan makes you happy, then I am determined to do what I can to ensure his health so the two of you can see to the future you’ve envisioned for yourselves.”

Unbidden, her mind traveled back to the crowd when they had returned from their fallen camp… The way they spoke of Brennan. It wasn't unrealistic to suggest that he'd overheard worse. Yet trusting Kairos had proven more than difficult as of late.

“Fine. We'd better do it, soon. While it's dark...”

“Right,” Kairos nodded and then turned away, “Follow me,” he told her as he led the way.

Two guards stood at their posts outside of the tent. Kairos, shoved his hand into a pouch on his belt and pulled out a key, “Here,” he told her as he held it out to her, “I’ve given them orders to allow you to see him. You are a princess, after all, and the man’s wife. I’ll distract the guards while you unlock his shackles. When I give you the signal, lead him out of the camp and send him away. You’ll need to stay, of course, to prevent any suspicion of your involvement. But don’t worry, I’ve already prepared rations and a horse for you to leave straightway tomorrow.”

Taking the key, Esmera nodded, tucking it into the belt at her waist, “I will never understand why you did what you did, keeping him from me, Kai… but thank you. For this…” They came nearer to the tent and Esme’s eyes narrowed on the guards, “I'm here to see my husband. Step aside, please.”

Kairos watch from a distance as the guards stepped aside, allowing her entrance. When she disappeared inside, he waited a few moments before he started his spellwork. First, he’d slowly make the area around the guards darker while Esme worked to unshackle Brennan. Next, he’d incapacitate the guards without them evening knowing he was there. Everything would go as planned and no one would be the wiser.

Inside, Brennan sat on his knees, his hands bound around a pole by chains behind him. His body ached, but he would not give them the satisfaction of knowing that he was hurting. When the tent flap opened, he expected some mocking guard to enter, but it was…”Esme,” he spoke quietly, but a sense of excitement was on his tone. It vanished quickly, “I should have listened to you. We should have left the very first time you mentioned it.”

Shaking her head, Esme dug out the key, moving to him swiftly, “Shh… Don’t worry, my love. We’ll get you out of this.” Pushing the key into the lock, she turned it and when it popped, she carefully unwound the chains, lowering them without a sound the earth, “Listen to me… You have to run. Under the tent and into the woods. Go to our cabin. You know which I mean. Tomorrow night, I will meet you there. We’ll be free of all of this, soon enough, Bren.”

“And leave you here alone?” he argued as he rubbed the soreness of his wrists, “they’ll suspect you, and I won’t be there to keep you safe.”

“Then I suppose I’ll just have to keep myself safe…” She said, with a small, dry smile, “My darling… You have protected me for too long. It’s my turn, now, to take care of you. I’ll get away… I promise. But you must go, now. Before it’s too late.”

He shook his head, “I don’t like it, but I will leave,” he stood, pulling her into an embrace, “just be safe, Esme. I need you.”

“And I need you, Bren…” Tipping up onto her toes, she pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth, “...I’ll see you. Tomorrow night. I promise…”

He nodded, and after one last lingering look, he disappeared through the back of the tent.

“Is he gone?” Kairos asked as he pulled the flap open. The two guards lay sleeping on the ground on both sides of him.

Drying her eyes with the back of her hands, Esme turned to Kairos and nodded, “He’s gone…”

“Then, quickly,” he told her as he held the flap open for her, “We need to leave before these two awaken.”

Nodding, she slipped out after him, and started back the way they had come. Pausing, however, she reached out to catch his wrist, frowning softly, “...Kai… thank you. I… I’m sorry for…” Gesturing to his jaw, she smiled faintly, “...You know. Earlier.”

He waved it off with a smile, “No need to apologize, Esme. If you had not hit me, I would have questioned your desire toward your husband. Besides, bruises heal,” and they worked as convincing evidence, “Try and rest tonight. Tomorrow, all of this will be over.”

Nodding, she made her way to her tent, “See you tomorrow, then…” And slipping inside, she let the tent fall closed again.
 

Elle Joyner

I guess...
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
My Usual Online Time
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Writing Levels
Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Probably a mix. When I GM I tend to prefer mostly aggressive, but with input from my players. I like to offer ideas and receive them. I don't like when people just take the reins and run with it though...especially in a 1x1.
Favorite Genres
Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anime. Ever. Just not my jam.

Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.
Esmera Davontry
For all she tried, Esmera got nearly no sleep at all that night. The idea that anything… anything at all could go wrong plagued her thoughts, and despite every effort, she tossed and turned until morning dawned with grey skies. Thick, misty fog swirled along the floor of their forest hideaway, and as she pushed back the tent flap and stepped outside, a light rain began to fall, dampening the earth and filling the air with a musty smell.

“Please be safe, Bren…” She whispered, skyward.

Kairos had just exited his tent when the soldiers who had guarded Brennan approached him. Fear was in their eyes as they stopped and saluted the man, “What is it?” Kairos asked.

“Brennan,” started one soldier. He swallowed hard before he continued, “He...he escaped.”

Kairos faked anger, “What? What do you mean he escaped?!”

“Well, someone came to visit him, and then he was gone,” the man returned.

“Someone? Who? This person most likely set him free. Who was it?”

“Well….uh.”

“Spit it out, boy,” Kairos replied.

“Princess Esmera,” he finally said after a few more moments of silence.

A flash of pain shown across his eyes before shock, “What? Are you sure?” When the man nodded, Kairos continued, “Was there anyone else?” He had to be sure they didn’t see him. When they shook their heads, he let out an inward sigh, “Alright. Don’t tell anyone. Let me speak with Lorraine. Gather the people. Tell them it’s of great importance, but do not tell them what about. Ensure that Princess Esmera is there, but do not show any suspicion toward her. Act as though everything is normal. You don’t want to spook her.”

The soldiers nodded, saluted, and then stepped away. Kairos sighed before he started through the camp. Now, to break the news to Lorraine.

Like her sister, Lorraine had not slept well. The idea of what they had done weighed heavily on her. It was for Esmera’s own good, she knew, but it still bothered her, the idea of hurting her sister. But Kairos had carefully conducted his investigation and despite Esme’s doubts, Lorraine believed in him… trusted him.

Rubbing her brow, she looked up to see Kairos coming, and a brow lifted, “Everything alright?”

“I wish,” he told her as he gently took her by the arm and guided her away from onlookers, “There’s been a development, Lorraine, and it’s going to be difficult to believe. Do you love me enough to trust what I am about to tell you no matter how badly it might sound?”

Frowning, Lorraine looked up at Kairos, nodding faintly, though not without a trace of caution in light blue eyes, “...Of course, my darling. What… what is it?”

“Brennan escaped last night,” Kairos started, “and he had help. I spoke with the guards at length this morning to identify the culprit. Lorraine,” he paused with faux uncertainty, “it was Esme. She helped Brennan escape.”

Swallowing, Lorraine lowered her gaze. It wasn’t the first time that Esmera had proposed breaking her husband loose. The last time, Lorraine had helped, because Brennan’s imprisonment had been for a crime he wasn’t responsible for. But now?

“What should we do, Kai?”

“The people will not be happy, and Esmera has obviously aligned herself with the Etherians because of her husband. With Brennan gone, they’re going to want someone to pay for the crimes committed against them,” Kairos spoke, insinuating the worst, “Maybe they’ll cry for leniency because she’s a princess...your sister,” he paused, “but…” he let his words trail off.

“...What do you think we should do, Kairos?” Lorraine asked, instead, unable to meet his gaze for the tears that had come to her own.

He shook his head, “Lorraine, my love,” he spoke softly, “the people need something. They need to feel as though they have beaten the Etherians at something in order to find hope in this mess. That hope can be the tool you use to reunite this shattered land and begin to rebuild. They need to see your strength, and your ability to defend and protect them no matter the cost,” he took a step toward her and scooped up her hand in both of his, “They need to see the Queen I know you are,” he paused and sighed, “What I am saying is...give them what they want. No matter the cost.”

Looking up, she breathed in sharply, “...She’s my sister, Kai. Whatever he’s done… however he’s warped her mind, she will always be my sister. What if… what if they demand…” Shaking her head, she leaned forward, pressing her forehead into the crook of his shoulder, “...They’ll want her dead, Kairos.”

“I know…” he stated as he released her hand and wrapped his arms around her, “I know what I am asking you to do, Lorraine. I know it’s not easy. Esme is your sister, and she’s always been a sister to me. This is not easy for me either, but it is necessary. This is war, and the people cannot see weakness in you or they will cease to follow you. They will turn to some other leadership, and then your life will be in danger. I would do anything to protect you,” he paused and pulled back a litte. Tilting her eyes up to meet his, he repeated, “Anything, Lorraine. You are my future. Everything I ever hope to be rests in you.”

Meeting his eyes again, she nodded, “...I will do what is necessary. Only… only I will need your support. I have already lost my father. Losing Esme… I’m not sure I can handle it.”

“I will be right there beside you, Lorraine. Always,” he told her as he placed a kiss against her lips before holding her tightly.

A sigh escaped, and her eyes fluttered open again as she nodded, “Let’s go, then… We’ll see what the people want.”

With a nod, Kairos followed Lorraine to the center of the camp where everyone had begun to gather. Standing beside her on a natural platform that raised them a head above the people, Kairos searched the crowd. When his eyes found Esmera, he let out an inward sigh. Once this horrific ordeal was finally over and Esme’s head no longer sat on her shoulders, he could move on to the next phase of his plan. Turning to Lorraine, he offered her a sympathetic look before nodding for her to begin.

Clearing her throat, her eyes moving through the crowd, but pointedly avoiding meeting her sister’s gaze, Lorraine spoke, “It had been brought to my attention that sometime in the night, Prince Brennan was freed from his imprisonment. The Etherian crown prince has been allowed to escape, and it pains me… greatly… to say the culprit of this terrible crime... “ Swallowing, she shook her head and looked to Kairos, “I can’t…”

Kairos places his hand on her shoulder and nodded, “It’s okay. Let me,” he told her before stepping up. His eyes turned to the guards and he nodded. Immediately they began their track through the gathering, “The person responsible for Brennan’s release is,” he paused, “Princess Esmera.”

The crowd seemed all at once outraged and confused, but none more than the girl standing in their midst, her eyes narrowing on Kairos was a venomous stare. She had been so foolish. So completely foolish. She had trusted that he was trying to help her, but of course… of course his plan would never benefit her. It had never been about her - but about what he could gain.

Hands clamped at her arms, but she made no attempt to run or even move, shaking her head, as she spoke loud enough to be heard, “The truth will be found out, Kairos… and they will hate you.”

Shaking his head, Kairos returned, “The truth of the matter is what has been presented to the people. You are as treacherous as your husband. I’m sorry that your sister,” he slipped his arm around her and pulled her close protectively, “Had to see the day,” he looked to the soldiers, “Take her to her tent. We will not make the same mistake with her as we did with Brennan. Princess Esmera, for aiding the escape of a traitor, you have been branded a traitor. The penalty is death..to be carried out this afternoon by beheading….a traitor’s death.”

Esmera’s eyes remained fixed on Kairos, as a hush fell over the crowd. Lorraine had lowered her gaze, but said nothing, burying her head in her hands to stifle her tears. With a small shake of her head, Esmera scoffed, “...I would gladly die for my husband. But I am no traitor, and someday… they will know the truth. Lorraine will, too...”

“Take her away,” Kairos spoke with finality.

As the guards began to drag Esmera away, the sound of beating hooves filled the air around the camp. The rustling of fauna caused the men to stop. Suddenly, out burst a horse with a single rider. When it drew back and neighed, it startled the two men holding firm to Esmera. Falling back to all four, Brennan looked down at his wife, “Come on. Hurry!” he cried as he bent down and offered her his hand.

“Guards! Stop him!” Lorraine cried, but it was too late. Without a moment of hesitation, Esmera grabbed the offered hand, and pulled herself onto the back of the mount, “Go, Brennan! Go!” She called, her eyes burning into Kairos.

As soon as she was situated, Brennan kicked against the sides of the horse. In no time, it was dashing between trees diving deeper into the forest. He could hear the cries of the men in camp, and poor attempt to pursue them, “I’m glad I came back!” he told her over his shoulder, “You alright? They didn’t hurt you did they?”

Fury burned, as Esmera clung to Brennan, tears blurring her vision, stinging with the speed of the horse, “It was Kairos! It was him, the whole time! I knew it and I still trusted him… and now Lori… Oh, I was so foolish…”

Brennan heard her words, but thought that safety would be a better environment to speak of what had transpired, so he remained quite allowing the beating of the horse’s hooves and the whistle of passing brush be the only sound that remained. They rode hard until he was convinced they were no longer being pursued before he slowed the horse to a walk. The beast thanked him with a huff, “I ran into a man while I was on my way to our cabin,” he finally broke the silence. He was a shady man, and when he saw me, he attacked. After I killed him, I rummaged through his things and found the newest campsite with Kairos’ seal. I knew immediately that you were in danger and I was not going to leave you there.”

Laying her forehead between his shoulders, she closed her eyes, “...I trusted him. After everything he did, I still trusted him. And this… You could have…” A sob escaped, and she burrowed deeper, shaking her head, “I’ve been so incredibly stupid! He kept you a secret and I still… I still believed he was willing to help!”

“We were fools, Esme,” he told her, “but I will not play that part any longer. If the Caleshan people do not want us, the. Then damn them. Damn them all,” they cleared the brush into an open field where a small cottage stood, “We’ll build a new life here, just you and I.”

Leaning up, she glanced over his shoulder to the cottage, brushing her eyes dry with the back of her hands, “You're right. I've given them too much… And for what? My own sister would have my head, for saving my husband's life.”

“Let them have the world they want,” he told her as he looked over his shoulder, “We’ll have ours right here. We’ll put all that behind us. We’ll start our family here. We’ll grow old together here, and when time has had its way with us, we’ll die her...together.”

Nodding, her arms tightened around his middle, “...This is the only world I need, Brennan. It always has been and it always will be. I love you. With all my heart, I love you.”