May 31, 2015

In Which Willott's Loyalties Come to Light

April 14, 1192

"I'm not leaving without my children!" The queen dug her heels into the ground as Willott shut the castle door, no mind to the hem of her gown and the dirt beneath it. The king had barged into the study mere minutes ago with a grip on the queen's arm, demanding that Willott clear the servants from the halls while he personally escorted his wife to the convent. Willott had obeyed that order, though he hadn't seen the point of it--enough had overheard him screaming about the truth about their youngest, enough had heard about another man's bastard growing in the queen's womb.

King Ietrin was a proud man. But his pride was that of a usurper, not that of a king, fragile and easily insulted rather than confident and dignified. It blinded him rather than strengthened him. What should have been armor was a self-inflicted wound.

"You'll be damned lucky if I let you see any of them again! I've half a mind to send them all to the far corners of the world purely out of spite for you--and don't think that excludes your bastard. And as soon as I've taken all you hold dear, I'll divorce you for a queen who will give me a son and banish you from this kingdom!"

"A queen who will give you a son! I told you: it's you who can't give her a son! If I managed three children with you, I must be the most fertile women who ever lived!"

"Silence! How can I trust the girls are even mine?"

Anyone who'd ever seen Princess Medea's eyes knew the answer to that. The queen had another answer. "Because I've only ever been with another man once. How does that feel, Ietrin? Just once with another man was enough for another child!"

Privately, Willott liked the fact--and he'd tell the queen that later.

But, rather than whatever curse the king replied with, his ear was drawn more keenly to a steady beating of the wind, which brought his eye to a shadow in the clouds. "Your majesties..."

"Never call her that again, Lowan!" the king snapped. "This whore is no 'majesty' of yours! Now, if she won't go willingly, fetch some guards to make her!"

"Not without Gennie and Hollie!"

A panicked scream rang from the streets outside the walls. The black shadow swooped downward. Something in its grasp glinted.

"Don't think I won't sell the both of them at auction!"

More screams. More beating.

"I'll sell them both, and Medea too! They can rot in a harem for all I--"

The sun went black. And Willott's true loyalties came to light.

"My lady!"

He pulled her back just in time to spare her the worst of the splatter.

Neither of them were spared the sight.


May 28, 2015

In Which Jeda Makes It Said

**Trigger Warning

April 14, 1192

"What the hell is wrong with you?" It was about the fourth time Ietrin had screamed that question. It was clear he had no intention of actually getting an answer. "Nine years. Nine fucking years, you just let me go on thinking I had an heir. What kind of ungrateful, sadistic bitch does that?"

"The kind who's married to a self-centered king who threatens to keep her locked up in her room with nothing to do until she has a boy, maybe?" It wasn't the sort of thing Jeda had often dared say. But, if he knew about Hollie, then she had nothing left to lose.

"What else was I suppose to have done? You ought to have given me a son years earlier!"

"Don't you understand that it takes two to make a baby? Melria hasn't given you a baby, Ellona only ever gave you two--and she gave Casimiro five! In six years!" The other part of that might have been cruel to mention--but he did deserve it. "And Raia says they almost never sleep together. What do those numbers say about you?"

"How dare you insult your king's virility!" He grabbed her by the chin, nails digging into her jawline. He'd never been diligent about clipping them. "Bed. Now."


"That was not a request!"

"Don't touch me!"

"You're mine to touch as I will!" He let go of her face only to strike it. Perhaps the only decent thing she could have ever said of him was that he'd never done that before. "Now take your clothes off and give me my son before you're too old to carry him!"

"If you think I can choose the sex, then maybe you think your hand can give you a son!"

"Bitch!" He took her by the shoulders and pushed--hard.

She caught her balance just in time to keep from falling, one hand clenched to her middle. "Don't shove me!"

"Why shouldn't I?"

"Because..." It was better left unsaid, some part of her knew it. Better to have let him have his way with her and hope for a fair-haired boy who favored her. But she was done with that. It had been far too long since she'd had something that was hers. "...I'm with child."

"But it's been years since--"

His violet eyes burned near red as his brain caught up with his tongue.

"Why you scheming little cunt."


May 26, 2015

In Which Holden Is Alone

Note: For anyone who just happened to stumble across this story blog who hasn't read the previous posts and is unaware of earlier events in this storyline... the way this particular post ends, it may read like a VERY BAD thing is about to happen. That very bad thing does NOT happen. What follows won't be pleasant for certain characters, but there will be no sexual assault involved.

April 14, 1192

It was so hot out! How was it only April? It felt like July!

Holden brushed back some sweaty hair, then tugged at his velvet collar. Velvet. Velvet was the worst in summer. Or spring when it was hot. Hot and humid.

So hot! So humid!

Damn binding thing! Last year at this time, he could have lazed around in his braises and been as comfortable as possible, but now he had to keep his shirt on. Stupid growing body!

At least he was alone, he guessed. He'd be alone all day, probably.

But if he was alone...

To hell with it. No one was going to see him. He'd take off the shirt, and the velvet, and chausses.

Maybe he'd even take off his braises. And then he'd sprawl out on his bed and take a nap atop the covers.

It would have been an excellent plan if only he'd remembered to lock the door.


May 24, 2015

In Which Sevvie Suggests a Game

March 30, 1192

"So... we just need to think of a use for it." Sounded simple enough. Indeed, it was a question Sevvie had toyed with in the past, though he hadn't voiced his musings to Yvanette. He wanted to be supportive. He would help her with any breakthroughs, but he wouldn't force her through any. "Hmm... what about espionage?"

"I guess. Though, there's not much to spy on around home, and I doubt my parents will let me leave the country by myself."

"All right... what about simple discovery, then?"

"What, like secret passages?" Yvanette snorted. "What good would that do if I couldn't fit normally?"

"I don't know. Storage?" Or maybe not. "Um..."

"If you say 'pest control', I'll have to kick you."

"I was actually going to say 'voyeurism'--ow!" He reached down and rubbed his aching shin. "All right, all right. Hmm... guess we were closest with the espionage thing. What if you just took to tailing your siblings?"

"My siblings are aware of the situation."

"You can spy on my siblings then. I'm sure they wouldn't mind too much."

"I doubt they're up to anything too interesting."

"Fair enough. Better stick with people our age or older." Well, he guess that sort of included Adonis, but he didn't really care to know what Adonis did when he was alone anyway. "What if we made a game of it? We could meet every Saturday, pick some random person we both know, and you can spy on them at some point during the week?"

Yvanette shrugged. She didn't look too thrilled with the idea, but she didn't look repulsed either. Perhaps, in this case, that was good enough. "I guess we could try it."


May 21, 2015

In Which CeeCee Wants to Explain

March 19, 1192

"What were you doing out in the pouring rain? On your birthday?" Farilon jabbed one of the hearth's logs with the poker. CeeCee watched the sparks fall to their bed of ashes. Maybe that was all she herself was doing, coming here like this. "I thought your friends would have thrown you a nice party or something."

"It's on Saturday." Saturday, the first day of spring. With that frigid rain, one couldn't have guessed it was only two days away. "I couldn't sleep.

"And I'm sick of us not speaking."

"Me too. I'm sorry about that." He sighed, then offered her a hand and pulled her off the couch. The heat from the fire crept beneath her cloak and warmed the bare legs beneath. "It's all right that you're not taking my classes. I made a bigger deal of it than I should have."

"About that--"

"You don't need to explain."

"But I want to." Did she? She'd kind of hoped he would have figured it out. But if he needed her to tell him, then this was her chance. This was why she'd come here, after all. "Thing is... I thought it would be better if you weren't my teacher."


"I mean--if you were my teacher, I couldn't... I couldn't..."


It was easier to show than tell.

"CeeCee..." The name was little more than a breath as they finally broke away some minutes later. It had been a long time in the making, after all. "I... I think I've wanted to kiss you for a while now."

"Were you ready for it?"

He nodded.

"Are you--" She untied the belt of her cloak and let the garment slide off her body. His jaw fell agape as he realized she wore nothing underneath. "--ready for a little more?"

It took a couple seconds--but again, a nod. "Are you?"

"Oh, Farilon. I'm a Kemorin." She worked her hand down from his shoulder and started on his laces. "And it's my birthday."


May 19, 2015

In Which Jeda Stays Long Enough

February 15, 1192

"Fred!" Jeda locked the door and greeted him with a hug. If there was one advantage to her status as more or less a shut-in, it was that not many commoners knew her face. She'd worn the scarf just in case, but once she'd sneaked out of the castle, no one had paid her any particular mind. "What are you doing in the area?"

"On my way to a job. Ever heard of a Lord Frandred?"

The man who'd caused Renata and Alina all that trouble some years back. In that case, she couldn't pretend to be sorry. "Nothing good."

"Yes, lucky for that. I've got to get out of this business soon."

"You do have too good a heart for it."

"But for now, at least I get to see you." He smiled, mustache curving along with it. Such a lovely smile, so kind and genuine. Very much the opposite of Ietrin's self-serving smirk. "How have things been?"

"Same as they always are. At least Dea's getting a break from it all, now that she's at the university."

"Oh." Fred sighed. "Neither of us got much of a hand when the universe dealt the cards."

"And we haven't drawn anything better since."

"No. But I'm glad you managed to get out tonight." He reached for a loose lock of her hair and twirled it about his finger. "How long can you stay?"

Jeda smiled. "Long enough."


May 17, 2015

In Which Gennie Does the Right Thing

February 15, 1192

"What did it say?"

Was her mother really likely to tell her that? She'd burned the letter as soon as she'd finished reading it. Hardly the action of someone who cared to share the news.

But hadn't Gennie proven herself trustworthy, just delivering the thing? It wasn't every day that a classmate passed her a note with her mother's name on it and claimed it came from some man wearing a cloak. Every impulse had told her to open it--but she hadn't.

"It... it's not important."

"But you burned it?"

"It was from a friend I hadn't seen in a while." How many friends did her mother have? Surely she would have seen most of them around Christmas. "If your father had seen the note, he might have gotten the wrong idea."

"Oh." A male friend. Made sense, if what's-her-face had gotten it from a man. Stupid! "Don't worry. I won't say anything." Not that her father had much reason to talk to her most days.

"I appreciate that. I'm sorry that I'm unable to satisfy your curiosity."

"It's fine. I guess it's not my business." But it wouldn't stop her from thinking about it all night. And probably the next night too. "Did I do the right thing, bringing it to you? Or should I have dismissed it as suspicious and destroyed it myself?"

"No, darling. You did the right thing. It was best that I got to see it." Her mother yawned--perhaps a little forced. "I'll see you in the morning, all right? I'm quite tired."


May 15, 2015

In Which Farilon Makes It Personal

January 28, 1192

"Farilon! I thought you would have gone back to your house by now."

"I'm on my way there right now." Farilon kissed CeeCee on the cheek and stepped back, his hand still on her arm. She didn't brush him aside, which was a good sign. So... surely there was an explanation that wasn't personal? "I was just passing by and thought I'd come see you."

"Really? I would have figured I'd see plenty of you once term started."

"I guess so." Was that an opening? It seemed a little obvious. But maybe it wasn't? He wasn't good at this. "But, uh... if you want to see even more of me, there's still time to rearrange your class schedule."

CeeCee pulled back her arm. Yes--too obvious. "What."

"Well, you said you'd maybe take one of my classes this semester, but you aren't signed up for--"

"You do know the meaning of 'maybe', right?"

Someone needed to write more books on social situations. "Yes..."

"So you realize that there was always the possibility that I wouldn't."

"Yes, but... I thought we were friends."

"So I'm obligated to take your classes just because we're friends?"

"No, but..."

"But what? A lot of other people signed up for your classes, so it's not like you need me in there to fill a seat. Why do you keep pestering me about this?"

Did he really have to spell it out? Should he spell it out?

"Damn it, CeeCee, there just aren't many people I feel comfortable around!"

"And not many who feel comfortable around you, if this is how you act when you don't get your way!"

God. She had a point there. But what else was he supposed to do? Rolling over and being miserable didn't work either. "I'm sorry, all right. I just... damn it, I thought you'd be interested in my classes."

"Well, maybe I'm interested in other things too. Or maybe you just thought wrong. Or maybe--" She scowled, riled further by the mere thought. "--I just don't like other people telling me what I should or shouldn't be doing!"

"So it's personal?"

"At this point, maybe it is." She tossed her head to the side, at just the right angle to allow for the sight of her flaring nostrils. "Now, would you rather leave on your own, or should I find a guard to escort you?"


May 13, 2015

In Which Camaline Starts Another Year

January 1, 1192

Another year gone, another party over. It was now past midnight on the first and most of the guests were gone, the number who were spending the night already in bed. Camaline had stayed up to oversee the mass exodus while Renata got some rest. Her elderly father was not well; she'd head to Dovia on the second.

Another year gone, possibly the old count's last. Another year gone. Another year gone.

And not much to show for it.

"Camaline?" Xeta's voice--a little more assertive than the last few times she'd heard it. "I need to talk to you."

Camaline sighed. She'd told Xeta to take her time figuring out what she wanted, but she didn't like being left dangling. If Xeta wasn't interested, then it was best that they both get on with their lives. "The door's open."

Xeta entered, no hesitation. Was that a good sign? "I wanted to thank you for being so patient with me."

"Don't worry about that. It takes a while to move on."

"That, and... to adjust, I suppose." Xeta shut the door behind her, then set herself down on the empty half of the bench. "Even when I was finally ready to let Jadin go, I had to think about what was best for me and my children. Lorn reminded me that I'm still young enough that remarrying isn't out of the question. But, the more I thought about it... why should I tie myself to a man I might like when I already have a woman in my life that I do like?"

"So, you really..."

"Yes. And obviously, I can't guarantee that things will turn out, but we're good friends who respect each other, so I think that's a good start."

"You're not worried about your family, then?"

"Of course not. What they don't know won't hurt them. Besides, my mother doesn't have a judgmental bone in her body, and this would be pretty tame as far as my in-laws are concerned."

"And your children?"

"If they ever need to know, I'll find a way to explain it. They are Kemorins, after all." She smiled. "I just... well, I think we could have a chance at something really great here, so why not let anything hold us back?"

"So you're sure you want to give it a try."

"Very sure." She laced one arm around Camaline's shoulders and perched herself upon her lap. "Happy New Year, Camaline."