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New Arrival

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Easy enough. It would evade the difficult situation quite smoothly. Of course, easy did not mean wise. "What made you think it ever stopped?" commented Railtus, referring to the training itself. "Every warrior needs a regret, something to stay their hand if a battle is unjust." Granted, Railtus had no such regret, or at least none greater than the accidental consequence of his strength in the past.

"Bear in mind that a leader is oft required to do things unfitting for a friend. Combining leadership and friendship will be complicated."

Point made, a swift sword-lunge followed, with enough distance for time to react but with the potential to be a surprise blow. Rolling his wrist with the thrust, he followed with a shoulder cut. There was no build up, no gentle beginning. Only one moment of conversation, and the next moment of intense combat.

Training was now very much resumed.

There was only so much that could be done with the dagger when a foe closed in. It could be used to thrust under in a forwards grip, but that style matched swordsmanship to closely, and was easier to parry. Striking overhand in a reverse grip allowed a variety of ways to plunge in the knife. Back-swing thrusts were most effective, since a foe beyond the spearhead would often grow compacent and turn his shield aside, defending the outer face rather than the front.

One lesson new to civilians was how physical armed combat could be. Many lacking martial training expected fighters to stand a yard away from each other swinging and blocking. Instead, pushing and grappling was common to exploit changes in momentum. Every step was used to add weight and power for each blow. Even, in this case, a shield could be bound in place by pressing the body against it, reaching around with the dagger hand.

A logical counter to this was aggressive shield-work, thrusting the shield forwards at the dagger arm to hinder the limb rather than held back. Another common mistake was assuming shields were purely defensive.

Even in close-quarters, the spear had it's uses. Jabbing at the face demanded a defence from the opponent, and pressing the spear-shaft against their weapon could deny the chance for a meaningful swing.

Roughly half-way through the day, after a few changes in weapons, new techniques made an appearance.. Axes used a hooking parry, reaching the axe-head behind the spear to pull against the weapon, keeping it from effective use. Of course this entangled the axe as well but the axeman could move into gain ground and position before unhooking the weapon. Struggling to break the hold was only an option at distance, but the unexpected counter was to reinforce the lock, keeping both weapons trapped while striking with the dagger.

Far nastier was the cat parry, done mostly with swords or maces, targeting hands and wrists. Sharp blows rapped on the knuckles. A few uses of healing were needed in this phase of the training. Spears were defeated by bouncing from the parry, following the line of the spear to target the grasping hand. Against that technique, Railtus new no counter. Dodging and flicking the spear at the swing could avert it, but unlike everything else, there was no way to gain an advantage from this position.

Heavy gloves clearly were needed.

Tactical training waited until the next day. With only the two that would be very difficult to practice.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Julen on

As he walked away from the empty field, Julen flexed his hand. The cat parry had been something of a revelation. The first time Railtus used it to score a strike, Julen was so startled that he yelped and dropped his spear. The next half-dozen times weren’t as surprising, but they proved to be just as painful, driving home the need to run a very important errand. So they’d stopped training a little early, in order to visit a shop selling leather goods.

A pair of heavy gloves didn’t come cheaply. However, Julen felt confident it was money well spent. He couldn’t be sure, but he suspected that at least one of his fingers had gotten broken during training, and Railtus wouldn’t always be there to offer quick healing.

The next errand filled Julen with dread. But he couldn’t deny that it needed to be done. If the airship had simply moved somewhere else nearby, then Ramas could still be located and healed. That chance was worth any risk posed by a visit to the Guard. Even so, as Julen entered the section of the City Hall which housed their headquarters, he couldn’t keep from shooting a guilty glance at the “Wanted” posters covering one wall, fearful that he would see a hastily sketched likeness of his own face. Fortunately, all the portraits were pictures of strangers.

At first, no one seemed particularly eager to answer any questions. And annoying the City Guard was not a pastime that Julen found particularly relaxing. However, he persisted with his inquires, determined to carry out his penance, and perhaps begin to make up for his fit of temper. Railtus kept fairly quiet during the whole ordeal. But when someone finally went to fetch the guard who’d been ordered to keep an eye on the airship, Julen sensed it was more due to Railtus, silently exuding an aura of “Someone Not To Be Messed With”, rather than his own efforts.

Sadly, the news they received proved a meager reward for Julen’s hour of torment. The airship had lifted off during the night and good riddance as far as the guard was concerned. After several bitter comments about gnomish technology in general, and an exploding artillery gun in particular, he took his leave of them. Julen couldn’t help but be disappointed. But knowing that he’d done all he possibly could did ease his mind a little.

On his way out of the City Hall, Julen did his best not to run.

As on the previous evening, Railtus accompanied him home, before continuing on to House Anstrun. But this time, Julen didn’t immediately go to sleep. Instead, he looked over the training weapons, making sure they were clean and enacting any minor repairs that he could, before tying them back up in the bundle Railtus had provided. Then he reinforced some of the stitching around the patch in his arming coat, which had been strained by several strong blows to his chest. Last of all, he wrote a note to Effie, asking her to wake him early the next morning, and left it in the bakery where she was sure to see it.

Then, with all his chores accomplished, Julen opened his pouch. Retrieving Rosemary’s locket, he carefully brushed the dirt from it. Despite the rigors of training, despite the emotional lows he’d experienced, just seeing the bit of silver lying on his palm made him smile. “Soon,” he promised, pressing his lips to the cool metal. “I’ll see you soon.”

And that night, for once, his dreams were harmless and unremarkable things.

Post by Sir Karsimir on

One useful feature of the arming coat was the many arming points used for attatching pieces of armour. With the absense of full plate harness, some of the arming points could be spared to make a string or leather thong to replace the locket chain.

Everything seemed to go well. Mostly Julen did the talking, which Railtus was happy with. Habit was to take charge but he was not in the habit of considering his friends and allies to be mere servants best kept in the background.

While the ending was neat to the investigation, none of it so much as pretended to be a good result. It seemed that Ramas was beyond their power to help, or to more than just say a prayer. With luck, Ydren would guide another angel towards this tragedy, where good could easily be done and greatly needed doing.

With this result, Railtus gave word of who he was and where he could be found for the remainder of the week, with the request that he be contacted if there is word on Ramas and his injuries. Made perfectly clear was the fact that Railtus would cover the treatment of the boy's injuries, in case there remained cause for reluctance.

Night having fallen, Railtus was back at House Anstrun, wondering about word from Mavelle. Seeing her was something that he had taken for granted. The return was in time for the family dinner, something that had been made clear to him after the last night. So one good meal later, and he was ready for bed.

Granted, a very wary meal considering Phelan was there. When Phelan through insults at him, Railtus dismissed them casually, stating his disinterest in Phelan's opinion quite openly. Lord Kendall watched this carefully, curious as to how this would play out.

"Baron Antal has insulted us by demanding we keep his whelp, this child." Phelan stated. Yet again.

"As I recall, there was neither a demand nor an insult, merely a friendly request between kinsfolk. You are familiar with the concept?"

The food was marvellous. The company, less so. Somehow, it had been arranged for Railtus to be sat within tormenting distance of Phelan, and beyond flirting distance with Mavelle. Cautiously, Railtus had to wonder if that was deliberate.

"Now you insult me, at my father's table." Phelan sneered.

"How?" Railtus laughed. The notion of insulting Phelan held no discomfort for him. Not like leaving him alive did. When Phelan did not immediately answer, Railtus followed casually, "Are you done?" Not even waiting for an answer, he got back to his food.

Apparantly Phelan was not done. "I was told we would have a warrior here, instead I find before me a coward."

For a remark like that to be accepted at the table was something shocking to Railtus. By habit, he contained the extent of his shock, limiting the visible expression to mere surprise. Taking a long moment to compose himself, he left Phelan chance to press his claim.

"So why should we open our doors to a coward?"

No. Stay calm. Do not give in to pride. Act as an Angelsworn. Bring about his downfall by all means. Innocent folk would be well served by it. Now the echoes were gnawing on his will.

That was it.

"A warrior uses his sword for better reasons than vain and foolish pride." Railtus snapped. "Which is why your insults go unchallenged."

"Then you have no honour." gloated Phelan.

Again, these were severe insults. Railtus cast glances around to see if anyone would intervene. Attention was being paid, but no intervention took place. "I shall not accept your word on honour."

"You accuse me of lying?"

"Others can determine that for themselves." Railtus did not even look up from his food.

"Look at me when I talk to you." Phelan demanded.

Denying his reflex, Railtus controlled his gaze to pass over the other members of the household, paying no more heed to Phelan than any other, before resuming his meal.

"A whelp, a coward & without honour. A child who offers nothing to this House." declared Phelan, sweeping an arm grandly in the direction of Railtus, who was already thinking that Phelan matched his own description.

Looking towards the Lady Maragrane, inspiration struck Railtus. "Many tales exist about you, they never mention such impeccable conduct." Sarcasm was unusual for Railtus, neatly channeling his contempt. Another thought stuck him at that very moment. "It is the place of the Lord & Lady of the House to judge my worth as they see fit. Not. Yours. In this regard, your opinion is of no importance, so I would as lief not hear it."

Sudden silence. No one objected. Standing up to Phelan was a rare occurance.

"Remember your place child!"

"I do." answered Railtus, with dead certainty. "As I remember yours. Respect the Elders of the House by not challenging their judgement quite so publically." Silence from Kendall. Silence from Maragrane. While arrogance from Phelan was accepted, Kendall could not allow it to continue without coming down decisively on the obvious conflict between Railtus and Phelan.

Phelan said something, but Railtus had by now stopped listening. Moodily, he went up to his bedroom, seeking no one out.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Falcon Bertille on

Mavelle picked at her food all through dinner, barely tasting it. Phelan’s unrelenting taunts stole away the flavor of every dish. Normally, when her brother engaged in such behavior, she giggled, admiring his verbal flair. But tonight, his comments didn’t seem particularly witty. Just cruel and untrue. More than once, Mavelle wanted to defend Railtus, to insist that he was none of the things Phelan claimed he was. But what proof did she have? Just the certainty in her own heart. Phelan would disregard such girlish whimsy and mock Railtus all the more for it. So Mavelle remained silent, wishing time could speed up and end this ordeal.

She just didn’t understand what had gotten into Phelan. Earlier that day, attempting to gain some insight, she’d finally plucked up her courage and questioned him about what happened in the kitchen. At first, Phelan only expressed surprise and hurt that his little sister, who was so dear to him, could ever suspect his actions. They were family, weren’t they? Blood should always trust blood. He made her feel guilty enough that she nearly apologized and let the matter drop. But Mavelle couldn’t forget what she’d witnessed, couldn’t be at peace until she knew what had brought it to pass. So she persisted.

At her insistence, Phelan had told her a tale barely fit for the ears of a lady. It explained everything. It justified everything he’d done. Her mind could find no point to debate. And, for several hours afterward, Mavelle was once more at peace. She planned on confronting Railtus when he returned that evening, telling him exactly what sort of man he’d chosen for a servant, and then Railtus would dismiss Julen, apologize to Phelan, and all would be set right. But her certainty slowly eroded. What her mind could accept, her heart could not. She simply couldn’t believe that the young man who had behaved so courteously toward her was the same brute that Phelan described.

Increasingly, Mavelle felt a shift taking place. Her world, which once seemed so solid and safe, had become a series of stage backdrops, ready to topple over if she gave them even the slightest push. House Anstrun was filled with actors who looked like her family, and spoke like her family, but who -- somehow -- were not her family. The only person who felt true, who felt real, was a man she’d met barely two days ago.

Finally, unable to even feign eating, Mavelle murmured an unintelligible excuse, and fled from the dinner table. Part of her just wanted to crawl into bed and hide. However, instead of heading toward her own room, she made her way to the hallway outside of Railtus’s. There, hidden in the shadows, she waited for him to return.

As Mavelle heard the sound of approaching footsteps, longing and dread battled in her heart. She ached to be in Railtus’s arms again. To take refuge in the comfort and security only he could offer her. But she also felt shamed, tainted by Phelan’s inhospitable behavior. Barely able to raise her eyes to meet Railtus’s, she stepped from the darkness, and laid tentative fingers on his arm. “I’m so sorry about those things my brother said during dinner,” she apologized. “I don’t know what’s wrong with him. Since you came, he seems like a different person.” It was not yet in her to admit that Phelan was not different, but she was seeing him with different eyes.

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Flickering from a grimace to a smile, Railtus gratefully leaned into Mavelle's touch. Dinner had been conducted more or less unarmoured - wearing a breastplate or leather gauntlets during a meal would indeed be tempting fate. Cautious enough not to walk around House Anstrun completely devoid of armour, Railtus still bore his gamberson coat and leather pieces, unwilling to completely divest himself of protection in the case of a dagger in the dark.

So many things needed to be said, but all at once requiring the same opportunity. In his own heart, most of all, came the need to console the saddened woman. "It is not for you to be sorry for. We all make our own choices. You are not responsible for those made by Phelan." Naturally, he interlinked his arm with Mavelle's and clasped her hand in his own. "Yesterday, I saved a young boy's life. How important is Phelan after that?" Railtus commented with a dry smile.

"Shall we walk?" invited Railtus. Talking in the open hallway did not feel private enough for him, yet he had no wish to give Phelan a weapon that would easily strike them both by inviting Mavelle inside his room. After all, the risk of humiliating Mavelle to trouble Railtus would be hold no deterrence for Phelan.

Concentrating briefly, Railtus reached out with his thoughts, feeling for the oppressive force of taint. A habit which had formed swiftly enough. Already he had learned that House Anstrun contained those who would seek to do him harm.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Falcon Bertille on

As always, Railtus’s kind words drew a grateful smile from Mavelle. When he clasped her hand, she twined her fingers around his, and squeezed them tightly. Perhaps it was strange to put so much faith in a man she’d known for such a short time. But Mavelle trusted Railtus. If the whole world succumbed to storm clouds, he would be her guiding light. No matter how high the waters of uncertainty rose, no matter how much they washed away all that she thought she knew, he would not let her drown.

“Walking sounds lovely,” Mavelle agreed. Last night had been restless, filled with tossing and turning, yet she hadn’t dared to leave her bedroom. Only a week ago, she wouldn’t have hesitated to wander through House Anstrun at any hour. If anything, a nighttime stroll was more of an adventure than a daytime one. But now, she feared the shadows of her house -- feared what she might accidentally glimpse in them. There were secrets all around her. And a very scared part of her didn’t want to know what they were.

However, being with Railtus gave Mavelle courage. Drawing her body closer to his, she allowed him to lead her down the hallway. And while they walked, her thoughts drifted back to something he’d mentioned earlier, reawakening a bit of her old self. “You saved a boy’s life?” she inquired, her eyes shining as she anticipated a heroic adventure tale. “That was a noble deed! Would you...would you tell me of it?”

Post by Sir Karsimir on

"Thank you, although you may have noticed that I am profoundly unsuited to telling stories." Railtus confessed, remembering Mavelle's disappointment at the grim account he gave of his encounter with the bandits. Looking back, he could not help but find humour in her reaction, and the sheer anticlimax that must have been.

Starting the tale was the hardest part, there were so many items to begin with. Allowing himself a liberty, Railtus opened with what mattered to him the most. "The boy's name was Ramas. He was apprenticed to a gnome, and suffered severe burns from an explosion in his work." Pausing for thought, Railtus wondered what to mention next. "That giant shape in the air yesterday, was a gnomish flying machine, which Ramas was on. The gnome came to Marn looking to find a healer for Ramas. He found me."

A thoughtful look bent his brow, as if unsure of something. In this case he was unsure of how to explain his nature to Mavelle. Modesty objected to him announcing himself as some sort of higher being. Again, from personal preference, he kept the focus of the tale away from himself. "While he is still badly injured, his wounds are no longer fatal. More will be needed if Ramas is to fully recover, but unfortunately the gnome flew off in that cursed machine of his during the night." Yes. He despised the machine. As Railtus understood, these strange devices existed to improve life. Yet that damnable contraption had nearly killed a child, who survived only through outside intervention, and then took that child away from the needed means to recover. All for what? To travel the skies and outpace a horse, which travelled a more than adaquate pace itself.

Not a fair trade.

"Today, I tried finding Ramas and the machine, but it now lies beyond my reach. At least the boy will survive, and I hope he will find another healer soon."
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Falcon Bertille on

“I like the way you tell stories,” Mavelle assured, giving Railtus’s hand another squeeze. She didn’t mention that she would have been nearly as content listening to him recite one of her father’s trade contracts. Just the sound of his voice made her happy.

When Railtus described the airship, Mavelle eagerly jumped in. “Yes, I was in the garden with my maids yesterday. When that thing passed across the sky, it cast a great shadow over us, and poor silly Drusilla nearly fainted. You say it was a gnomish flying machine? How interesting.” Technology was only a novelty to Mavelle. Labor was never required from her, so the idea of a labor-saving device meant nothing. And her family’s household ran quite smoothly by doing things the traditional way -- which was to say, paying servants who did whatever needed to be done. Still, despite her disinterest in any practical aspects of gnomish inventions, Mavelle couldn’t resist the temptation of a new experience. “I wonder what it’s like to fly? To be up amongst the clouds and stars? I suppose it must be marvelous…like a dream.”

Soon, however, Mavelle brought her mind back to the important part of Railtus’s tale. “That poor boy. So badly hurt, and so far from his family.” Family. Always it came back to family. Why did that concept insist on tormenting her? “I’m glad you could help him.” It did not occur to Mavelle that such help might have been provided in any magical way. Magic was no more a part of her daily life than gnomish gadgets. House Anstrun routinely produced fine warriors, traders, and politicians. But many generations had passed since their blood flowed through the veins of a mage.

After Railtus finished his story, they walked in silence for a little. Eventually, the hallway they were following joined with a more major passage, lined on both sides by shoulder-high marble columns, upon each of which rested the carved bust of some famous ancestor. Silent and pale, the sculptures stared out at the world like ghostly sentries. Mavelle could swear that she felt their eyes on her, judging her, condemning her for the disloyalty that gnawed at her heart. Ungrateful whelp. They had given their lives to make this a great House. And she wasn’t even willing to trust the motives of her own brother.

“Railtus?” Mavelle ventured. She knew he wasn’t going to like this. But then, Phelan hadn’t liked it either. “I spoke with Phelan, about what happened in the kitchen. He told me his side of the story. Is it possible…is it possible that you’re wrong about Julen? You’ve known him such a short time. Is it possible that he’s not an honorable man?”

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Noticing the uneasy glanced Mavelle cast towards the sculptures, Railtus reached across Mavelle to rest his free hand on her free shoulder. Hopefully the gesture was comforting, from what he saw she needed the reassurance. With what she asked next, her reasons to be apprehensive were apparant.

Clearly it something difficult to ask, and Railtus saw no need to make this any harder for her. So instead of fuss or dismay, he merely indulged in a courtesy.

"Truthfully, I would prefer for you not to be dragged into this. For all my differences with Phelan, I would not want to place you in a difficult situation." It needed saying, as much as Railtus would rather Mavelle have nothing to do with such a person, it was not something he had the right to ask of her. "First that I met Julen he risked his life for a stranger. That told me something of his character." Railtus commented mildly, indulging in his understatement. "The details are not my right to discuss, but I have reason to trust in his integrity."

Wondering if he should say it, Railtus decided on yes. "If you will forgive my bluntness, I will not condemn Julen purely on Phelan's say-so any more than I will start believing his recent words aimed towards me at dinner." Prudence suggested skipping the fact that offending Phelan was grounds to offer a raise. "How you perceive Julen is your own business. Something I would not presume to judge." Common practice among warriors was the concept of mental space, opinions and feelings kept private and held in a sacred vault within the mind, left untouched and unquestioned by companions as a mark of respect.

On that note, he bumped shoulders affectionately, like a cat rubbing against the legs of a favoured person. The rigid gamberson was like a toughened mass of sponge, making the experience far less common. Still, with just that already he ached to feel Mavelle pressed against him, as if the mere inches between them were a cause of something missing.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Falcon Bertille on

“But I’m already in a difficult situation,” Mavelle protested. “You and my brother -- the man I wish to court me and my closest kin -- can’t even sit together for the length of a meal without exchanging remarks. How is that not difficult? And I feel that if I could just learn why....”

Mavelle couldn’t escape the frustrating suspicion that Railtus wasn’t telling her everything. It made her wonder if he would ever tell her everything, even after they were wed. It seemed all too likely that his code of honor might always forbid him to speak about certain things. And that was as it should be. After all, he would be her lord and husband, not some maid to gossip the day away with. Mavelle admired Railtus’s modesty, his dignity, his unwillingness to slander others. But right now, those traits were bricks in a wall she desperately wanted to see behind.

“I feel that if I could just learn the truth, I could be at peace.”

Despite her inquisitive nature, Mavelle’s sheltered life had prevented her from discovering that the truth was not always comforting. That sometimes, it was just the opposite.

“Still, you’re correct,” she finally conceded. “Phelan is obviously mistaken about you. Why should he not be equally mistaken about Julen?” The things Phelan told her had not sounded like the sort of things one could be mistaken about. They had sounded like facts. But perhaps neither man was at fault. Perhaps this woman, this Rosemary, had lied to them both, playing them off against each other for reasons of her own. That was a hopeful thought. It allowed Mavelle to tie a villain’s mask on someone she hadn’t met. And it also allowed for the possibility of the truth eventually coming out, which could lead to some sort of reconciliation.

“I will not trouble you about this any more,” Mavelle promised.

Railtus’s playful nudge came as a welcome diversion, and an excuse to abandon a topic Mavelle was glad to be done with. Smiling, she turned toward him, and wrapped her arms around his waist. “But here I am, spoiling what little time we have together by rambling on about brothers and menservants. When all I really want is to feel you hold me again. I miss you so much while you’re away.”

Leaning her head against Railtus’s shoulder, Mavelle once again felt her body grow warm and soft, like a fruit ripened by the summer sun. Well, let the stone eyes of her ancestors gawk at that. She didn’t care. The way Railtus lifted her up inside, making her heart flutter on wings shaped of gossamer and desire, was one thing they couldn’t make her feel ashamed of.

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Strong arms folded eagerly around Mavelle's shoulders, silently content and secure in the embrace. So easy would it be to lose all sight of the rest of the world, to drown in the scent of her so close by. Holding her, honest affection overwhelmed all other sensations, until he was lost in the warmth of her embrace, the smell of her hair, the feel of her arms around his waist.

Already he could feel the cravings of his skin, as if her body heat was causing him to melt away blissfully. The notion of moving from the spot fled away, willingly forgotten in the embrace as he soaked up her presence.

Even amidst the delight, one thing persisted in irritating Railtus. One word which Mavelle persisted in using. 'Manservant.' By now he was beginning to hate that word, and the connotations of arrogance and laziness brought with it. No matter how happy he was with Mavelle there, that word was continuing to eat at him. Given the choice, he would rather be a slave than the master of one. Adopting a dry tone to soften his annoyance with good humour, Railtus broached the subject. "Mavelle. As a favour, stop using the word manservant. I do not keep any such thing."

Before the effigies of ancestors, Railtus was barely aware of their presence. Never mind that he could recite all but the most recent of their names from memory, all that made him conscious of them was how much Mavelle valued the approval of her family, of the elders. If they were to look, all they would see were such true feelings towards Mavelle that they would have to approve.

If they did not, then they could simply burn in whatever hell now held them.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Falcon Bertille on

“Of course,” Mavelle agreed, readily enough. Insulting others held no appeal to her. When she happened to give offense, she usually did so through ignorance rather than malice. In this case, it simply hadn’t occurred to her that anyone might object to the designation “manservant” -- after all, that’s just what some people were. It wasn’t like she’d called Julen a flunky, or a toady, or anything distasteful. Still, so long as Railtus didn’t insist on anything ridiculous, Mavelle felt more than willing to be accommodating. “Tell me his proper title, and I’ll call him that.”

Tilting her head, Mavelle gazed up at Railtus. No lights had been turned on in this section of the house. Instead, his features were illuminated by the moonlight streaming in through the diamond-paned windows. Its pale glow made his skin seem nearly white. Half-afraid that he’d been transformed into another statue, Mavelle raised her hand and touched his cheek, relieved to find his flesh still warm.

“One day,” Mavelle murmured, “your likeness will be added to this hall. Children whose parents have not yet been born will point to it, asking ‘Who was he? What did he do?’ And their teachers will answer ‘That was Railtus Anstrun, who opposed evil wherever he found it. He brought much honor to his House, and much good to the world, and you must always try to be like him.’ Then the children will run off, distracted by their games, as children always are. But perhaps one of them will remember...”

A soft sigh escaped Mavelle as she let her eyes travel over the busts. “And I suppose my likeness will be here, as well. But what will they say about me?” The question was only partially rhetorical. Mavelle was a creature of the moment, who’d honestly never given much thought to how history might remember her. Now, however, she felt a strange ache fill her heart as she considered it. “I suppose they’ll say that I was beautiful, that many men competed for my hand. And, before I met you, that would have been enough of an epitaph for me. But now it seems rather...empty.”

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Yes. Yes it was.

Such a somber thought distracted Railtus from Mavelle's earlier question regarding Julen. A question of lesser importance, perhaps. Whatever importance the man carried in his own right, which without doubt was some, remained nothing to do with the relationship between Railtus and Mavelle.

When Mavelle raised and hand to touch Railtus on the cheek, Railtus slipped his arms beneath hers, finding this embrace far more comfortable and natural. Lightly, the edge of his hand stroked the curve of her back, faintly teasing the skin through the fabric of her dress.

"What would you wish be said of you in times to come?" None of this had dawned on Railtus either. What Mavelle had mentioned, that would be a welcome epitaph. If there would be an epitaph at all. Few Angelsworn feared the passing of years, not for the gradual agelessness creeping in to overide the mortal lifespan. For the more imminent promise, a death cold and alone in a forsaken place, forgotten and tormented in the belly of a tainted horror that denied the fallen victims the mercy of rest. A fate accepted both knowingly and willingly with the very act of becoming an Angelsworn.

A choice no one had to offer to Railtus. If that was what others would say of him, he would be thankful, but far more important was that it be true.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Falcon Bertille on

“I don’t know,” Mavelle confessed. Again, her eyes scanned the busts, searching for inspiration. There was Lady Genevieve, who had trained in the arts of war like a man, and led the defense of her Keep against a surprise attack when her husband was away. Or Lady Nola, who retired to a convent at the age of nine, and lived such a holy life there that she was once nominated for sainthood. Or even Lady Linette, one of the first settlers of Marn, who gave birth to nine children and raised them in what was then little more than wilderness. All worthy accomplishments. But Mavelle was not a warrior, or a religious fanatic, or a colonist. What legacy belonged to her?

“Perhaps it doesn’t matter what people will think of me in years yet to come. Perhaps what matters is what you think of me right now.”

Shivers darted down Mavelle’s back, following the path of Railtus’s caress like ripples stirred in otherwise still water. And yet, despite the shivers, her body felt so warm. Trailing her fingers across Railtus’s cheek, Mavelle brushed back a strand of white-blonde hair that had been blocking her view of his green eyes. There was something unearthly hidden in their depths. Something that seemed to see with a clarity not granted to most mortals.

“What do you think of me, Railtus?” Normally, the question would have been an invitation for compliments and nothing more. But now, in the darkness, in his arms, she truly wanted to know.

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Many answered followed that question. The tightness of his embrace, how he brought his nose to her neck to inhale her intoxicating scent, the brush of their cheeks together. All of these were signs of what he thought of her, and how he felt. When their eyes met, it was like drinking in her gaze.

"I think you have one of the kindest hearts I have ever known. You are even more beautiful on the inside." Every word was sincere, as was always the case with Railtus. "I look forward to knowing more about you, if I only knew what to ask. You have it in you to achieve great things, greater than yet you believe."

Bowing his head, weighed down with the heavy thought, he spoke truly. "I fear that your inner strength may go forgotten, overlooked." Then his gaze lifted once more, to face Mavelle clearly. "You are very, very special, Mavelle. Remember that."

One hand lifted to run through the softness of her hair, like spun gold to the eye, luxurious beyond silk to touch.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.


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