Now Or Never

The quiet, southern part of the city, where the residents have their homes.
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Falcon Bertille
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Now Or Never

Post by Falcon Bertille » Sun Oct 28, 2007 4:57 pm

Mavelle was in her room, removing things from the trunk her mother had packed for her. Delicate dresses, expensive body creams, and impossibly uncomfortable shoes -- really, Mavelle knew her mother meant well, but it seemed like the Lady Margrane didn’t fully comprehend the journey her daughter planned on taking. And that was probably just as well. Mavelle couldn’t help suspecting that a more complete understanding on her mother’s part would have led to a firm refusal. For that matter, Mavelle herself felt acutely aware of her own ignorance. During her years growing up in House Anstrun, everyone around her had done their best to make sure terms such as “hardship” and “discomfort” were nothing more than words to her, and it would be supreme hubris to assume that she truly grasped what it would be like to endure them. But that was the way of the world. If people could foresee what each approaching day held, most of them would almost certainly stay in bed.

The sound of footsteps echoed in the hallway outside. Listening to them approach, Mavelle tensed, hoping they would pause outside her door, hoping that a servant’s voice would soon announce Railtus’s safe return. Or would he want her to call him ‘Aorle’ now? She hadn’t really understood what Varanghar told her about the name change, especially since she’d been too distracted by his other news. Railtus had been mauled by two demons? One of whom was after Asiona? What, exactly, had transpired between the two of them after she left? Thus far, all her attempts to contact Asiona had failed, while Railtus continued his prolonged absence from House Anstrun. So Mavelle was left without anything other than the sketchy details Varanghar provided. It was not very satisfying. Slowly, she began to realize that battling demons might sound very romantic in stories, but it wasn’t nearly so romantic to sit at home and wonder if people you cared about were truly alright.

To Mavelle’s disappointment, the footsteps passed by her door without slowing down. So she returned to the task of packing. Now that many of her mother’s contributions had been removed, there was room for some more practical luggage. Along with several simple, sturdy dresses, Mavelle added a travel-sized portrait of her family, the biography of Lady Nola (a distant ancestor who was once nominated for sainthood), and a journal with the rose Railtus had given her pressed between its pages. Last of all, she placed a scroll on top of everything else -- a proposed marriage contract. Mavelle’s father had agreed to allow this trip so that his daughter could have time to think before she made a decision that would affect the rest of her life, but he’d made her promise that she would carefully consider all her options. Mavelle intended to keep that promise.

Still, she hoped she’d be able to speak with Railtus before leaving. Even though she didn’t know what she was going to say, or how she was going to say it, she wanted to be with him again. She didn’t want that foolish stunt with Asiona to be the thing lingering in his mind while she was off traveling. They both deserved better than that.

As if answer to her prayer, she heard more footsteps, and this time they were followed by a knock at her door. “Lady Mavelle? Lord Railtus Anstrun has returned and wishes to speak with you.”

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Sir Karsimir
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Post by Sir Karsimir » Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:26 pm

Rather than waiting for her, he had sought her out. Summoning her would seem nothing short of arrogance, hardly an appropriate way to treat someone he so cared for. Honestly, he wanted this to work between them, he really did. Only... he could tell she was disatisfied with their relationship, and his unselfish love could never be content without the happiness of his beloved.

Would his life ever please her? Somehow, he could not imagine her sharing in it. Once again, he remembered his original plan regarding marriage - to wait until he was thirty, with every intention of being dead long before then. It was a good plan. Really. It solved the matter nicely, or at least was a neat sidestep.

"Thank you." A firm voice stated after the servant had announced him, "I am sure you have duties elsewhere."

"Actually m'lord, none at the moment."

"Find some." commanded Aorle plainly, dismissing the fellow in question.

Strapped to his back was a large oval shield, proof that he had accepted no delays between his return and speaking to Mavelle. New armour varied between solid metal plates over major areas and layers of pointed scales on the spaces in-between. Further changes were borne on his face, eyes which had once been green were now bright gold, above one eye was a strange glyph depicting seperated wings in a circle and unfamiliar scars marked one side of his face.

Taking a measured stride into the room, the kind which asks permission by the brief pause before stepping, he moved to take both of Mavelle's hands in his own. "Forgive my long absence, Mavelle. How have you been?" The question was asked with a tilted head, it was far more than just a courtesy. A long look was taken to show interest, before noticing other details.

She was packing. "You have a journey ahead of you?" he inquired, giving her chance to say as much as she pleased on the matter.
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Post by Falcon Bertille » Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:08 pm

A deep sigh of relief escaped Mavelle’s lips when Railtus entered her room. Her beloved stood tall, showing no sign of impaired movement or suppressed pain -- that was a lot more than most people could do the day after fighting two demons. Of course, Varanghar had told her Railtus was alright. But hearing it and seeing it were two entirely different things. Rushing forward, Mavelle clasped his hands in hers, caught up in wave of joy that temporarily washed aside her own dilemmas and doubts. “Railtus! It’s good to see you looking so well. Varanghar told me some of what happened and I couldn’t help but be worried.”

However, as she gazed up at Railtus, Mavelle began to notice that his battles had not left him entirely unchanged. Scars ran across skin that had previously been smooth. There was a strange mark over his eye, like a brand or a tattoo. And the green of his irises had been completely consumed by bright gold. None of the alterations made him seem ugly to her. But they were vaguely disconcerting, distancing him from the young man who had kissed her in the rose garden. “Oh Railtus,” Mavelle murmured, pulling one of her hands from his in order to stroke his cheek. “Your face...? Your eyes...? Did the demons do this to you?”

His inquiry about her own wellbeing left Mavelle wondering where to start. She felt like a big ball of knotted string, with emotions too hopelessly tangled to be properly sorted out and explained. “I...I’ve been a lot of things. Scared, elated, confused, determined. Remorseful. I guess remorseful is a good place to start. I’m so sorry about that stunt with Asiona. I wanted someone else to ask questions because I was afraid to hear the answers. I wanted someone else to tell me what to think because I didn’t trust my own heart. But that was silly. And if it in any way led to you and Asiona being attacked by a demon, I’m so sorry.”

Mavelle nodded at the trunk, moving on to address Railtus’s second question. “I guess that’s why I’m going away for a little. I want to learn to be brave. I want to learn to think for myself. And I’m completely convinced that I’ll never be able to do either as long as I’m living in this house. There are too many mirrors here, all of them reflecting the old Mavelle back at me. I need a place with windows, a place where I can gaze out over the horizon and think about the Mavelle who might still be. Does that make any sense?”

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:35 am

Standing so close, feeling Mavelle's hand on his face, hearing the care in her voice, made a mystery of the emotional distance between them these past few days. When that hand stroked his cheek, he could not help himself from leaning towards her touch. Moving from her hands, Aorle's fingers traced their way up her arms to hold her slightly below her shoulders.

That closeness they had shared still mattered to him, whatever was to be.

When her touch trailed his scars her question caused a smile to try and stretch out across his face. "No, the scars are from an angry duchess when I was nine." Aorle commented wryly, conscious of the anticlimax. Strangely, he did not feel like explaining in more detail, since speaking of his own events would do nought to deal with what was. "The full tale can wait a few moments."

As Mavelle made her apology, he listened silently, and let her speak until she was finished. During the whole time, his caring touch never faltered. There was more, and hearing her aims for the journey ahead only impressed him.

"Aye, Mavelle. 'Tis a wise decision, and I admire your courage. Now, know this; you sought the insight of a friend, Mavelle, there is no wrong in that. From what I understand, the demon had manipulated events in Asiona's life before now, and hopefully the encounter has put an end to that. I consider that much worth fighting for." So did others, he thought, remembering the many birds and insects who had died for him. True, their loss was a tragedy, a tragedy he never thought he would be able to appreciate, but a demon preying upon the world unhindered was surely an equal tragedy.

Still, a few things bothered him with Mavelle's decision, stemming from the eternally protective aspect of the templar. "Where will you be going? What steps have been taken to ensure your safety?"
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Post by Falcon Bertille » Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:47 pm

Railtus’s reply about the duchess puzzled Mavelle. She didn’t understand how wounds received when he was nine could resurface now. But since Railtus seemed inclined to postpone any discussion of the matter, Mavelle let it drop. Instead, she focused on the feel of his fingers trailing up her arms, eliciting delicate shivers of pleasure. As her heart began to beat faster, Mavelle felt her resolve waver. Was she crazy? Was it madness to contemplate being anywhere except in this man's arms? Handsome, strong, brave, kind -- she could search the whole world without ever finding his equal. What sane woman would risk losing him?

However, deep inside, Mavelle already knew the answer to that. She had to risk losing Railtus or she would risk losing herself. And if she lost herself, she’d lose him anyway.

Hearing Railtus’s reassurances brought great relief to Mavelle’s troubled mind. If her foolishness had needlessly endangered people she cared about, she never would have forgiven herself. But, to the contrary, it seemed that bringing Asiona and Railtus together allowed Railtus to defeat a great evil that had been stalking Asiona. Mavelle felt glad that they were both safe. At least her mistake had resulted in some good.

A smile blossomed on Mavelle’s lips when Railtus voiced his concerns for her safety. It made her feel special, treasured, to know that he cared. “Well, Father refused to let me run off and join a band of gypsies,” she answered, her light tone letting Railtus know that she was teasing him.

Then, her joking finished, Mavelle’s voice grew more serious. “Actually, it turns out that there are very few places for a young, single woman to go where she won’t risk losing her...reputation.” Mavelle nearly said ‘value’, but the word stuck in her throat. Strange. That concept had never really bothered her before. She’d always been proud that her chastity increased her worth in the eyes of potential suitors. Now, however, it just made her feel like a prized piece of livestock.

“Father tried to make me visit some relatives, but I was worried that they’d still expect all the things my family expects. I wanted to go someplace where no one knew me. So, eventually, we compromised. I’m going to stay in a convent. A very nice convent, according to all reports. And well guarded. I should be quite safe.”

“There’s...there’s something else you need to know.” Mavelle drew closer to Railtus, carefully avoiding the sharper bits of his armor. Although she knew it often kept him safe, she couldn’t help cursing that metal shell, barring her from true contact with his body. But simply being nearer Railtus helped a little. “The other day, when I was called away after introducing you and Asiona, I met with my father. He’d recently received a letter from a business associate. The man’s family is quite wealthy, with a near monopoly in the trade of several spices, and they have a son who’s just reached the age of marriage. My father says it would be a very profitable alliance.”

Closing her eyes, Mavelle rested her cheek against Railtus’s breastplate. The metal felt warm, smooth, and oddly comforting. “I know that we made promises to each other. And now, more than ever, I need to know how you feel about those promises.”

Part of her hoped that Railtus would sweep her into his arms, tell her that he couldn’t live if she married another, and insist that they run off together this very night. Because if he asked her to, she would. In an instant. That would solve so many things. She wouldn’t need to take this trip, wouldn’t need to search for herself, wouldn’t need to make hard decisions that she might one day regret. She could just be his, forever and ever. Like in the stories.

And that was exactly why he wouldn’t do any such thing. He’d know that, in the long run, it would be best if she had a chance to grow up. He wouldn’t take advantage of her moment of vulnerability. Even if he wanted her as much as she wanted him, he wouldn’t risk harming her just to satisfy his desire. His decency would always prevent acts of selfishness, and Mavelle loved him all the more for that.

But oh, part of her still hoped...

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Fri Nov 02, 2007 1:30 am

Hearing what he had could allow no other response than outrage. "Profitable?" asked the Sword of Heaven incredulously, "And what did he say of how this man would treat his daughter?" Any father worthy of the term would place a priority on his daughter's happiness. Of course, a wealthy husband would provide a higher quality of life for Mavelle, a fact which Aorle would never pretend was irrelevant when determining a marriage, but Mavelle was in no risk of being left hungry and in the cold and so spice monopolies seemed trivial factors in this matter.

No jealousy. They had not truly begun their courtship, he made no pretense in his mind of any right or claim to her. Possessiveness of another was never a right. He knew that.

The convent intrigued him. Mostly, he wanted to be sure of her safe travel. To his knowledge, a convent was a religious institution, and he wanted to learn more of Mavelle's creed. Anything so fundamental to the temple knight would have to be important.

"Very well. As I understand, Mavelle, we have yet to make promises." This was important to him, as a promise was a matter of honour, and he would never honour-bind himself to a courtship, which was to be ruled by his heart. "There is much we must know of each other before either of us give our word."

That needed to be understood before they went any further.
Last edited by Sir Karsimir on Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Falcon Bertille » Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:12 pm

“I don’t suppose that he knows,” Mavelle confessed, answering Railtus’s demand to hear what her father had said about the sort of treatment she might expect to from her potential suitor. “He’s never met the son. Nor have I, for that matter. If we decided to pursue the match, then a meeting would be arranged, and we could find out. Perhaps I’d dislike the son. Or, perhaps, he’d dislike me.” The second option didn’t seem very probable. In Mavelle’s experience, men usually liked her. A lot. But it was only modest to concede the possibility.

“My father would not force me to marry a man I found loathsome.” This was said with more certainty than Mavelle truly felt. He father treated her with some lenience, allowing indulgences like this trip, but Mavelle was not sure how he might react to outright disobedience. She’d never seriously defied any member of her family. Now, however, Mavelle felt the necessity for rebellion fast approaching. And when that day came, Mavelle knew it would require all her strength and clarity -- another reason why she needed to get away, to nourish the part of her soul which owed its allegiance to something other than the House that had birthed her.

Mavelle felt a bit surprised by Railtus’s announcement that they had not yet made promises to each other. Clearly, she’d misunderstood some of what he said when they last stood in her room together. And, while Mavelle couldn’t keep from being a bit saddened, she acknowledged that it was better to hear the truth. Neither of them would benefit from proceeding under false assumptions. “I see. Well, if your intention to court me once you reached knighthood was not a promise, was it at least your desire? And, more importantly, is it still? Or have things changed?” Mavelle thought of her terrified reaction to the orc, and how disappointed Railtus had been by it. If he no longer desired her, if she no longer lived up to his expectations, then she would make no effort to bind him. As much as it would hurt, she would let him go.

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Sat Nov 03, 2007 4:04 am

Her answer regarding this other suitor was less than satisfying, although pressing that inquiry would have to wait until he had addressed the more urgent matter. "My wish is to do right by you, I want to be sure we can do that in a courtship. For this to be done right, we need to understand the lifestyle and priorities we expect from each other, the life I could offer." Imagining Mavelle happy with a feudal warrior-lord was not easy. Hopefully this trip would be good for her.

Even with the fate of his own heart at stake, he could not ignore the possibility which may befall Mavelle, "I was not speaking of if you would like each other. A man can be charming and still be cruel." One particular example lived very close to the lady, somehow unnoticed.

Now for the truths she needed to hear. "My life is pledged towards a better world, to the defence of the innocent, to fight evil wherever it presents itself. Duty will oft call me away, and I can never promise my safe return." None of this was negotiable, since he would not abandon those in need to be in the arms of his beloved, 'twas not his right.

More than that though, knowing innocents were in need would always make him restless. "Fighting evil brings me in contact with horrible things, things you should not have to see. The harm they do. It is impossible to hide from what we try to set right." In the same vein, he knew there was more she would find difficult to accept. "What of my friends and warriors? You feared Krarug, yet he and the others are a part of my life." Rather than resenting Mavelle's reaction to Krarug, he thought from the perspective of any possible distress she would endure from having to deal with the Weapon of Flesh.

Here was the part he expected the most to be misunderstood. "Something else, Mavelle. I am Angelsworn. On the way in the city I registered myself with the Judges, they allow me to heal people although in their eyes I am a fairly powerful mage. I can heal with a touch, see into souls, summon light, and ward people from harm." Marn locals feared magic, saw it with revulsion and horror, and if that was how Mavelle truly felt then she needed to know before she committed further.
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Post by Falcon Bertille » Sun Nov 04, 2007 10:52 am

Mavelle nodded when Railtus spoke of how a man could be charming and still be cruel. “I think I’m finally starting to realize that.” Haunted by things she could no longer rationalize or explain away, Mavelle had begun to make discreet inquiries about her brother amongst the servants. For the most part, the staff of House Anstrun liked Mavelle, so when it became clear that she sincerely wanted to hear the truth, they told it to her. She learned about the seductions, the women impregnated and then discarded. She learned about the taunts, the duels fought against hopelessly outclassed opponents, all to satisfy Phelan’s petty pride. And there were clues to even darker crimes -- snippets of overheard conversations which hinted at profits made by trading in human suffering and vengeances taken past the point of reason.

Mavelle’s girlish admiration for her brother faded, slowly transforming into fear. And Phelan, who was no fool, definitely noticed. Mavelle could sense the way his manner toward her had changed. Nothing obvious, nothing that her parents might pick up on, but a subtle mocking which now lay beneath his kind words. He would do nothing overt to harm her. However, he did not wish her well. And that was another reason why Mavelle felt so eager to take a trip to somewhere far from House Anstrun.

As Railtus talked about the difficulties she would face if she bound her life to his, Mavelle listened intently. When they first met, she would have dismissed such things as trivialities, or buried them beneath storybook fantasies. But now that she’d tasted the trials he mentioned, she realized they were not small things. “I did miss you while you were in Shim,” she confessed. “And I miss you every day while you need to be elsewhere. I keep thinking that if I had a passion of my own, something important to occupy my mind, I would feel your absence less acutely. But even then, I would still miss you and worry about your safety.”

Lifting her cheek from his breastplate, Mavelle gazed up at Railtus with a sad smile. “Of course, now that you are in my heart, I will always miss you and worry about your safety, whether we are wed or not.”

Mavelle tried to imagine what sort of horrors Railtus might face during his quest for good. However, her life had simply not prepared her to comprehend such ugliness. Even the term ‘demon’ was just a word to her -- a terrible word, but a word nevertheless. She didn’t know what it would be like for him to see those things. She didn’t know what it would be like for her to see them haunting his eyes. And, not knowing, she could make him no promises. On the other hand, when he brought up his choice of companions, it was a matter to which she’d given considerable thought. “It’s true that the orc...Krarug...scares me.” The name felt strange and awkward on Mavelle’s tongue, but she attempted it anyway. “And I’m sure that I would be scared by some of your other followers, as well. There are reasons for a young noblewoman to be wary of large, rough men.”

Sensing that Railtus might be about to protest, Mavelle hurried onward. “But I have spoken with Varanghar, and he says that Krarug is a noble warrior, who would never harm women or children. If that is true, then in time I would come to learn it. Familiarity would take away my fear. Seeing someone as they truly are can turn a stranger into a friend.” And a brother into an enemy.

Railtus’s final revelation hit the hardest, striking Mavelle like a blow. Wide-eyed, she stumbled back from her beloved, staring at him as if he’d suddenly transformed into a completely different person. Magic was evil, a force of corruption that could only be trusted in the hands of a very specific few. And yet, here he was, one of the best people she’d ever met, telling her that he used magic. Had he cast a spell on her? Had he muddled her mind, twisted her perceptions, and turned her against her family for reasons of his own? Could it be that nothing she’d felt or experienced since his arrival was really true? There was something tempting about believing that, something comforting about being able to return to the old way of things.

But, although flighty, Mavelle was not stupid. It didn’t make sense. If Railtus had cast a spell on her, why would he tell her about his magical abilities? Why not just continue to manipulate her? No, there was no spell, other than the ‘spell’ of having someone finally speak the truth to her. And it wasn’t as if he was practicing illegally. The Judges had given him their approval. “Are you...are you a battlemage?” In a way, it would be handy if he was. That would be an alliance her father would be eager to make. But Mavelle had encountered several of Marn’s battlemages, and none of them were men that she’d be eager to make her husband.

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:56 am

Torn by the urge to support her and to be gracious in the face of her seeming rejection, Aorle extended his arms and stepped back as Mavelle stumbled back, still holding her upright... although releasing her and standing away once the momentum was checked.

"As a foreigner, unlikely." remarked Aorle, mildly confused with the notion of him as a battlemage. Recognising the source of the confusion, he knew it to be a good sign, battlemages were 'acceptable'. Even if false, her assumption showed she thought the best of him.

Which was nice.

"While I would gladly use my gifts in service to the city," Gifts, a word which told so much of his perception of those abilities, "I suspect that being a battlemage is more an enforcer than a protecter. So much working from shadows suggests cause to fear the light of day." Besides, Marn was hardly the most suitable place for pursuing a knighthood, a fact that may have dawned on the Baron Antal when sending Aorle to live with these relatives.

Everything else, well, he could accept. More important, was how far she could accept them, not a decision to be made now. At least the matters were placed in her hands, and progress could be made towards a resolution.

"You mentioned the convent is well-guarded, what of travel there? And what is the faith of the convent?" This mattered to him, her beliefs mattered to him.
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Post by Falcon Bertille » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:58 am

“My father arranged for a number of the House Guard to accompany me there. As for the convent, they worship Liran, a daughter of the moon goddess.” Mavelle knew how seriously Railtus took his faith, and she felt a little embarrassed that she wasn’t more devout. But House Anstrun didn’t raise its members to revere any gods other than the family name. “I chose it because one of my ancestors, Lady Nola, was a member of their sect.”

Actually, Mavelle’s mind wasn’t primarily focused on travel plans and religion. It hadn’t escaped her notice that, even after she’d answered all his concerns, the words ‘I want to court you’ still persistently failed to drop from Railtus’s mouth. And that was an answer in itself. Although Railtus still treated her with fondness and affection, it seemed so clear that his passion had waned. Mavelle felt slightly annoyed that he didn’t have the courage to just come out and tell her so. Well, if he wasn’t going to bring up unpleasant truths, she would. The last few days had been full of those for Mavelle, and she doubted that one more would break her.

“You spoke of the hardships I would endure if I joined my life to yours. They were all true, and I appreciate your concern for my happiness. But all relationships have their trials. No man ever married a woman, no woman ever married a man, without each making sacrifices for the other. People give things up because what they gain in return seems so much greater.”

“For the right man, I would gladly suffer all the difficulties you mentioned -- for a man who admired me, trusted me, and had faith in me. A man who desired me, who couldn’t look at me without craving the softness of my lips. A man who’s heart lifted every time I walked into the room. A man for whom I could be his soul’s wings, not a burden to be carried on his back. For Railtus Anstrun, as I knew him on that day we walked in the garden, I would have tolerated much.”

Mavelle stared into Railtus’s eyes, searching for some remnant of what she’d once seen in them. Yet all she saw was green turned to gold. “Now I feel like another man stands before me. I do not doubt that he is a great man, who will do great things in the world. I do not doubt that he is my friend. But I doubt that he loves me. I doubt that he ever will."

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:08 pm

It felt like loss, yet no vehemant denial surged in his heart. Aorle knew why he was here, because she would worry, to spare her from the anguish and sorrow that came from wondering what had happened to someone close.

The reason was not because he longed to see her.

"My heart is a riddle, my lady." he stated, "My hope was to find the answer to that riddle on your return... though I will not ask you to hold yourself in wait based on that answer. You deserve better. You spoke of needing your own passion, I may not be able to give my heart to any woman without it." A hard truth, one which needed stating. If they were to ever be together, she would need that passion... and if not, then someone else would. Or he would be alone.

Not alone. He had those dear to him, very dear. Amaranda, the angel to whom he was gladly sworn. Julen, a true and loyal friend beyond measure. Arjen, standing by him in perfect trust. Rollick and Uluki, the family he envied, and who accepted him as part of their lives. Krarug, dependable and pure-hearted, who had joined with him for no other reason than honest compassion. The warriors and refugees, men and women who had spoken for him at the Time of Judgement.

Not alone.

Eventually, with long thought, he nodded. "You spoke of sacrifice, mayhap all of my sacrifices have already been made. My life is not my own. The Heavens and the needs of innocents decide where I must go and what I must do. While free to make requests for my life, requests are all that they are." A mournful shrug sent a loud chink through the air, as steel met steel with the movement. "Before we met, my plans for love and marriage were to die in battle before it ever came up."

A man who desired me, who couldn’t look at me without craving the softness of my lips... Only then did he realise how long since they had kissed, how little he had sought it out. As uncertain as he was of matters of the heart, he knew passion to be a sign of the health of the relationship. Every touch, every kiss, was affection. Mavelle of all people should not have to accept when affection was lacking.

Still, he wanted to take Mavelle's hand, making no analysis nor justification, he wanted to take her hand. So reaching for it, taking some comfort in her touch, he gazed into her eyes seeking answers of his own. "So what becomes of us now?"
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Post by Falcon Bertille » Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:06 pm

Tears stung Mavelle’s eyes. Of course, she’d guessed what Railtus’s answer would be. And, in a way, it was a relief to have the weight of heavy expectations lifted from her shoulders. But still, after all her earlier hopes and dreams, she felt a pain in her heart when he spoke the truth.

And her mood only grew sadder when she heard Railtus’s admission that he’d planned on dying in battle before marriage ever became an issue. If nothing else, Mavelle hoped that she’d changed his mind about that. No matter how many friends he might have, no matter how many loyal soldiers under his command, none of those could ever replace the intimacy shared between a man and his wife. Mavelle bore no ill will against Railtus; she didn’t wish him a life of loneliness. She wanted him to have a lady fair. Even if that lady couldn’t be her.

“Now?” Mavelle murmured, in response to Railtus’s question about what was to become of them. As his hand closed around hers, she gave it a gentle squeeze. Warrior that he was, shielded by such fine armor, something about him suddenly seemed so vulnerable. “Now we go our separate ways, I suppose -- I journey to my convent and you stay here, continuing to fight for what’s right. But we won’t be parted forever. In time, fate will take hold of the two people we’ve become, and bring us back together. On that day...well, we’ll see.”

“Meanwhile, I do not expect you to wait for me. Let your heart be free.” Slowly, like a child revealing a treasure that it half-expects to have yanked from its hands, Mavelle drew out the gold ring Railtus had given her. “However, if you don’t mind, I’d like to keep this. And you can keep the handkerchief I embroidered for you. Not as tokens of promises made. But so that we can remember each other fondly.”

And that reminded Mavelle of something else. Reluctantly withdrawing her hand from Railtus’s, she gathered up all the impractical dresses, shoes, and body creams that the Lady Margrane had tried to put in her travel trunk. “Please, take these. You can take them to your manser--to Julen. To give his wife.” Never having met Rosemary, Mavelle didn’t realize that the size discrepancy between the two women made it impossible for Rosemary to use Mavelle’s castoffs as anything except headscarves. “My mother’s feelings will be hurt if she notices that I’ve left them behind. And...I’m ashamed of what happened to Julen when he last accepted the hospitality of our House.”

Drawing a deep breath, Mavelle steeled herself for all that was to come. “My father is letting me take this trip because he expects me to fail. He thinks that after a few weeks away from the luxuries I’m used to, I’ll come crawling back to House Anstrun, ready to do whatever he suggests.” Mavelle felt her body harden with defiance as she spoke her suspicions. “And it’s true, I will be back. But not on my knees.”

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Sir Karsimir
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Name: Karsimir Von Greyssen
Race: Reichvolk human

Post by Sir Karsimir » Sat Nov 10, 2007 2:46 am

Knowing how articulated steel was not the most skin-friendly of materials, Aorle shed his gauntlets before wiping away Mavelle's tears. "Then I long for that day, Mavelle." Even if they could not make their lives together, it would bring his heart full joy to see Mavelle bloom and grow in strength, as she had begun to do even now.

One thing he prepared earlier for her, still a gift, and he damn well going to give her it. Not from guilt, or pity, or in the hopes of keeping a place in her heart. Because he wanted to make her smile and perform an act of kindness for her. A long silver chain, a wheat chain of white gold meshed neatly together, bearing a turquoise stone set in a shape vaguely akin to a knight's shield. With luck, no one would expect Mavelle to keep track of all the gifts from suitors. Drawing it out of it's chosen place, he draped it over her head and around her neck.

"For you." said the Sword of Heaven simply, feeling no need to explain himself, before taking her hand again and raising it to his lips to kiss it. Gestures of honest affection.

Remembering himself, he stepped back swiftly, making no further issue of his gesture. "You have been kind and brave and strong and fair. Noble in ways no birthright can grant you." Now, of all times, he saw virtue and quality growing in Mavelle by leaps and bounds, in many ways, he saw the woman he wanted. Calling forth his resolve, he made sure to hope for the future. "I see you grow stronger by the day. Find yourself at the convent, and be not ashamed for the sins of others. Know this; ask of me and I shall grant every aid to you within my power."

Finally, one last thing. "Mavelle, you have my thanks. Now and always. For everything." With that, he saluted with his hand across his chest. "Light protect you."
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

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