Family Affairs

The quiet, southern part of the city, where the residents have their homes.
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Family Affairs

Post by Julen » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:29 pm

When Railtus seized his arm, Julen hastily stumbled forward, thrown off balance by the sudden motion. Other than shaking him awake that morning, it was the first time Railtus had laid a hand on him. Earlier, in his grogginess, Julen hadn’t noticed the intensity of that grip. But now he did. Railtus was so polite, so generally even-tempered; Julen kept forgetting that his armor wasn’t just for show. The man was a warrior, with the strength to back it up. And if he were a different sort of man... Julen couldn’t help remembering Effie poking Railtus, couldn’t help imagining one of those gauntleted hands striking her, knocking her to the ground like a broken stick. For a moment, fear flashed bright in Julen’s eyes.

But only for a moment. Then, Railtus was speaking, and Julen realized that he hadn’t been grabbed because Railtus was angry with him, only because Railtus had gotten a little overzealous. Julen appreciated being allowed to keep pace with his employer, especially since it made his job as guide easier. But he wondered, if and when he was admitted into the halls of House Anstrun, would he still walk beside Railtus then?

Soon, they left the last businesses behind and entered the Residential District. At first, the streets were lined with the small, modest houses of tradesmen who wished to live close to where they worked. But those gradually gave way to more impressive dwellings. Peeking through the iron bars of the gates they passed, Julen caught glimpses of fantastical gardens, full of bushes sculpted to resemble living creatures and flowering trees with branches weighed down by countless pink and white blossoms. The scent of the air changed, turning pleasantly sweet. And, although the number of people sharing the sidewalk with them grew fewer, Julen noticed an increased guard presence. Despite being with Railtus, this still made him slightly nervous. Especially when he remembered that he might well be making the return journey alone.

Railtus’s comment about the behavior of those who do not love brought Julen’s mind back to more immediate concerns. Again, Railtus had managed to make him see things in a way that he hadn’t before. Because, of course, Railtus was right. Thinking about it, Julen knew that even if Rosemary had rejected him, he never would have done anything to harm her. Oh, there would have been moments -- dark, desperate moments when he would have considered horrible deeds to force her back into his arms. Or to make her pay for the pain of his own heartbreak. But in the end, he would have still loved her. And that love would never allow him to do anything which might upset her.

“You’re right,” Julen conceded. “I apologize for not being direct with you about the state of affairs right from the very beginning. I thought it didn’t matter. But you make me see that it very well might.” Unobtrusively rubbing the arm Railtus had grabbed, Julen considered the situation. “I suppose the best thing to do is avoid him when I can, and be courteous to him when I can’t. Perhaps being in a position of power over me will help ease any resentment he might still feel about Rosemary’s choice.”

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:55 pm

Most strange was the fact that Railtus was right. Here was a man who had never known. A life no more complete than a masterless squire. From his father came only inescapable disappointment and desire to see weakness, from his siblings he faced only oppostion and the sight of shameful conduct, the woman claiming to be his mother had made no effort to earn the right that she did not own by blood.

Even less so was his experience of false love. What was really greed and possessiveness wrapped in a more appealing guise. No search, no matter how thorough, could ever find the capacity for such a thing within his heart. It was simply not there. None of this explained how such a man was qualified to speak of the ways of love, or of false love.

Or how he would speak so well.

Many insights were shared by Ydren, his teachings were well-grounded in the world. One thing they insisted on was the certainty that to love was a selfless act. One which brought joy and sorrow, passion and pain, but fundamentally a selfless act. To love and to need were mutually exclusive, for to love was to focus the heart on the well-being of another, while to need was to tie that person to the will of the self.

Not all of this explained such insight. It was a man unfamiliar with love who would best know the ways of false love. Seeing his brothers vie for dominance, the disregard of his father towards the unpriviledged and poor, the coldness of one who professed such devotion to the Duality. None of this was love for their land. So false love had been witnessed unceasingly in his life.

"I state what was the only reason this would be any of my business. Should all transpire as intended, you will not be under his power and his resentment should not be your concern. I will take measures to keep you two apart. My ambitions would not be served within the walls of that household." An easy shrug and ready smile showed that this was no real inconvenience, such assurance showed clearly as if he held no concerns on the matter.

The sweet air and cultivated gardens were even more strange to the feudal son. None of the rural manors or forts ever accomodated such a thing. Of course, surrounded by acreage, there was no need to set aside part of the household for plants and flowers. However, none of the meadows and fields he was used to ever contained such an abundance of sweetness and colour. While such glimmering beauty was impressive, the garishness struck Railtus as a misuse of wealth. It did not do well for men's vanity to be served while so many went hungry.

A set of great stone and railed ramparts spired up in the distance, mildly resembling fortifications. Indeed they would serve to hinder an attack, but clearly efficiency came a distant second to glamour. Small figures marched along the upper ramparts, bearing obvious pole-arms and crossbows. Presumably these were private soldiers hired as security for the House. For House Anstrun it was.

His destination still in the distance, Railtus decided on something before approaching the grand manor.

"Julen. Before we approach, is there any matter you wish to address?"

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Post by Julen » Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:41 am

Julen nodded, relieved by Railtus’s promise to try to keep him away from Phelan. Before, he’d been mildly curious about Rosemary’s ex-suitor, and welcomed the opportunity to see him again. As if another chance to observe Phelan might answer the question that Rosemary never would. Why me? With everything he could have given you, why did you choose me? But faced with the possibility that Phelan might actually resent him, the whole thing became rather uncomfortable. Julen wasn’t used to having anything in his life that others envied, and he didn’t like the sensation -- somehow, it made him feel dirty.

But that didn’t keep him from daydreaming. As they passed the fancy houses with their lavish gardens, Julen couldn’t help imagining what it would be like if could buy one for Rosemary. It was so easy to envision her barefoot, wading in one of the ornamental pools, her skirt hiked up just over her knees, her mouth curved into a smile as goldfish nibbled at her toes. There would be servants to do everything. She’d never need to get up before dawn to milk the cow. He’d never need to work in the field until his back ached. Instead, they could hire musicians and spend every evening dancing together, like they’d danced together after their wedding.

But the sight of House Anstrun jolted Julen from his reverie. With a sigh that was only slightly wistful, he let go of the life he would never have, and once more focused on doing his best with the life the gods gave him.

When Railtus asked if he had anything he wanted to address before their arrival, Julen realized that, once again, he hadn’t managed to find out where Railtus was from or why he’d come to visit his family in Marn. And now didn’t seem to be the time to bring it up. Perhaps, Julen thought sardonically, I should just have him write it all down and I can read it at my leisure. Fortunately, Railtus seemed to regard a lack of idle curiosity as a virtue, so Julen hoped he was coming across as someone who didn’t pry into the business of others, rather than a self-absorbed twit who couldn’t stop going on about his own life.

One of these days, Julen vowed to himself. One of these days, I’ll get him to tell me.

But to Railtus, all he said was “I’m ready.”

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:11 pm

"Very well. Let us begin."

Approaching the stone ramparts, Railtus climbed the upwards slope at a run. Then casually walked around the raised ground to the next upwards slope. This path led nearly a quarter-way around the manor before another slope presented itself. This one was tackled at a run as well.

There was a marked distinction between the House soldiers and the city guard. The troopers here were only garbed in mail, rather than the articulated steel harness worn by Marn's finest. Violet tabards adorned the men, a demonstration of the wealth of the House in affording purple dye.

Coming up the last slope before the main doors, this one leading directly up to the entrance so as to be a further imposing impression for a visitor.

"State your business." demanded one of the guards, doing a fine job of sounding gruff and demonstrating an accustomedness to being unchallenged. The arrogance typical of hired muscle.

"Admission into House Anstrun." Railtus answered without skipping a beat. "I am Master Railtus, son of Baron Antal, sent to stay with my relatives here." Continuing smoothly, Railtus pulled off one gauntlet to reveal a signet ring, bearing the engraved crest of House Anstrun. "Please show me to one of the nobles of the House, so that I may properly discuss the matters pertinent to my stay."

"You expect me to just let you in because you claim to be a relative?"

"Bearing a signet as proof, and with documents to be shown to Lord Kendall." Watching the hireling extend his hand as if to accept them, Railtus progressed, "Who does not spend his day guarding the door." Grudgingly, Railtus conceded to show the documents from his pack, bearing a familiar seal. "Now. I have supplied evidence of my authenticity, and that I have business inside the House. Will you allow me inside?"

Choosing to make a question of the phrasing allowed the leader, a House sergeant probably, to retain the illusion of authority in the situation and thus to concede with no cost to his pride. Some called it manipulation, Railtus called it diplomacy.

"And him?" the sergeant demanded, giving Julen what was only just about a second glance.

"This man is serving as my guide, I have paid for a full days services. It would be convenient for me if he would be admitted inside as well and given a meal so that he is on hand to resume his duties when I am done." An unwelcome, even sickly feel came to Railtus at the notion of not referring to Julen by name. It was not how to speak of a man present. What he understood was the tact of avoiding Julen's name whilst in the House.

A nod came from the sergeant, demonstrating the limit of his interest in the peasant.

The huge double-doors opened. Wood creaked. Not the creak of age, but a seemingly deliberate and regal creak that declared an ominous importance within.

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Post by Julen » Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:31 am

It was all very well for Railtus to dash up the slopes leading to House Anstrun, since he was apparently accustomed to running around in armor. Julen had no such training with shields, and as he attempted to keep pace with his employer, he kept banging his leg against the edge of the damn thing. By the time he finally reached the main doors, panting and bruised, he’d begun to think that maybe this whole guide/footman/squire thing wasn’t going to be quite as glamorous as it had sounded in his mother’s stories. If he’d managed to get this battered just carrying a shield across the city, real combat would probably kill him.

But Julen refused to be discouraged. After all, since arriving in Marn, he’d heard plenty of city-dwellers speak wistfully about the pleasures of a simple life in the country -- a life that would allow them get away from the city’s bustle and savor the munificence of nature. People who, Julen suspected, had never experienced the “pleasure” of spending a winter night in a chicken coop to keep the wolves away, and would be somewhat startled to discover that nature’s “munificence” included hail storms, floods and blight. But just because they misunderstood the rewards didn’t mean that there weren’t any. Julen knew that about farming, and he suspected the same thing applied to his apprenticeship with Railtus.

As his breath began to return to him, Julen watched Railtus deal with the house guard. It was an interesting study in human interaction. Julen took careful note of the way Railtus kept his tone firm, without ever crossing over into outright arrogance. Even Railtus’s omission of his name didn’t particularly bother him. He’d resigned himself to the fact that, while in House Anstrun, he would have a status roughly equal to the chamber pot -- something useful, yes, but certainly not to be discussed in polite company. And the news that he might be getting a meal, possibly something other than stale baked goods, made him inclined to overlook such slights.

As they passed through the huge double-doors, Julen found himself in an impressive entrance hall. The tiles beneath his feet were a mosaic of polished marble, and the lamps affixed to the walls burned with a pure, smokeless light. Julen wasn’t sure if they were fueled by magic, or perhaps electricity from the gnomish power plant, but either way, it was hard to keep from gawking. Several portraits also hung on the walls. The largest of them depicted a handsome man in his mid-forties. In one hand, he held a pair of merchant’s scales, and in the other hand he clasped a chest overflowing with bishan. The ground around him was covered with exotic goods such as silks, spices, and jewels.

Keeping slightly behind Railtus, just to be on the safe side, Julen waited to see what would happen next.

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:27 pm

Of course, the discomfort of Julen with the uncooperativeness of the shield was lost on Railtus. The ignorance of the aristocracy could be astounding sometimes.

Some would say that they were less observant than their architecture.

Inside the hall itself was a wonder, even to Railtus himself, who one would expect to be inured to such sights. Nay, grand buildings he knew, and castles he was passingly familiar with. Never had they been so conscientious about polishing the floor. Back in the country barony, there were much better things to do.

Not that nobles necessarily did them, of course.

Such a light blazing from the lamps in the walls astounded Railtus. While he would not know how they worked, if there was magic involved he would feel the aura. On a guess, the state suppression of magic would discourage such use of spells.

While most would view the portraits as glorification, Railtus took them as a source of information. After all, this was his family, and it would be most impolite not to recognise them on sight. Much as he tried otherwise, he felt a bite of distaste from the large picture, as though there was a dignity missing by such a vulgar display of wealth.

However, it would not do well to judge one's host.

A few other pictures stood out. Phelan, adorned in gaudy jewlery and silk, crowned with ebon curls and bearing an exquisitely groomed black beard and moustache, gleaming with fine oils. Already Railtus wanted to test if those oils were flammable. One thing which stood out on this picture was a basket-hilted sword. Obviously not military, but a sword nonetheless.

Another stood out as Lady Margrane, the background of her picture seemed much like a gallery, with marble busts lined up in arches. The lady was grey haired, but with an unlined face containing a grace and calm well suited to such a serene background. Of course, this could just mean a skilled painter.

One frame contained a truly ravishing beauty. Long, flowing, silky hair of cornsilk gold framed a face equally fair, with glowing vibrant skin and a delicately short nose. A gown of midnight blue clung to her form, leaving the viewer with a deep resentment for the borders of the portrait.

Perhaps it was adolescence, or a trend in courtly tales, but this was one he definately wanted to have a name for.

"Can I help you?"

Railtus turned with a start as the blue-liveried servant approached. Grit his teeth discreetly, set his jaw, blinked slowly, and regained his composure. "Yes. Certainly. My name is Railtus, I am a relative of this House. My father, Baron Antal, sent me. Would it be possible to speak to any of my kinfolk within?"

"Certainly. I shall inform your relatives of your arrival. Wait there. Take a seat." A sweeping gesture encompassed some nearby chairs. "One of the nobles will be with you shortly."

"Please, allow me to stand. It is difficult to sit down whilst wearing a sword."

This was going well so far. Railtus wondered which one he was going to meet. Deliberately, he refused to think about it. No sense in building up expectations. As the servant left, Railtus turned back to discern the name on the plaque beneath that portrait. Something dawned on him.

The shield. Advertising Julen as his footman would lead to questions. Questions that would be best for both if they could wait.

"I'll need the shield." Railtus whispered towards Julen as the servant began to depart. "Thank you." he said, before Julen had chance to agree or disagree.
Last edited by Sir Karsimir on Wed Feb 14, 2007 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Julen » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:45 pm

By that point, Julen was more than happy to be relieved of the shield, and handed it to Railtus without protest.

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Post by Falcon Bertille » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:47 pm

My dearest Brenna,

Mavelle hesitated, holding her quill poised over the piece of stationary for so long that a large drop of purple ink began to gather on the quill’s tip. However, before it could fall, Mavelle noticed the drop and disposed of it with an impatient flick of her wrist. Then, she returned to her letter.

I will not be able to join you at your father’s manor. Unfortunately, it seems that Mother is determined to make a “proper young lady” out of me, and to this end, I am now required to play hostess for the various guests who visit House Anstrun. You cannot possibly imagine how dull this has proved to be. Most of them are traders and merchants, here to see my father, with their beards full of grey and their bellies full of too many meals. Do you miss me as much as I miss you? I still remember the night we snuck out...

Again, Mavelle paused. She was fairly sure that her parents didn’t read her mail. But not absolutely certain. As she pondered her dilemma, the sound of a crow cawing outside her window caught her attention, and offered her a solution.

I still remember the night we snuck out and encountered that flock of crude, loud birds. They were so funny. The way they hopped, and boasted, and fought each other for any crumbs we might toss them. I wish...

“Lady Mavelle?”

Setting aside her quill, Mavelle twisted around in her chair. Behind her, one of the newer servants stood in the door to her room, his arms stiff and straight at his sides. She didn’t know his name. But then, she rarely bothered to learn any of their names. “Yes?”

“Someone who claims to be your kin, a Master Railtus, is waiting in the entrance hall. He would like to speak with a member of the House. I took the liberty of informing your father, but it will be at least an hour before he’s free to see anyone.”

Mavelle arched her eyebrow. Kin? At least he wasn’t another peddler of wheat or wool. But despite that, Railtus would probably prove to be as boring and ugly as all the rest. Repressing a sigh, Mavelle stood, gracefully smoothing the long skirt of her sky-blue dress. “Of course. I will greet him at once.”

It isn’t fair, Mavelle thought, as she swept past the servant. Phelan was always out having fun, and she was always stuck at home. Just because he was male, he got to fight battles and break hearts, while she would probably die here like a shriveled old nun before anything exciting happened to her. But no good ever came from defying her parents. If she wanted to have a chance of visiting Brenna any time in the near future, she would just have to grit her teeth and be a dutiful daughter.

Stepping into the entrance hall, Mavelle was prepared to smile her way through another long lecture concerning trade routes and duty taxes. But the sight of the two men waiting there knocked all such thoughts from her head. One of them, dressed in a rather rustic fashion, seemed to be hanging back a little, his hands clasped in front of him as if he no longer knew quite what to do with them. Mavelle barely spared him a glance. Instead, her attention latched onto the young man who stood closer to her. He had a handsome face, surrounded by a mane of hair the color of winter sunlight, and when he looked at her, his eyes crackled like green fire. A soft whisper of breath pushed between Mavelle’s lips as she found herself hoping that Railtus was not too closely related.

But other than the breath, she kept her composure and curtsied with practiced grace. “Railtus? I am Mavelle, Lord Kendall’s youngest daughter. Regretfully, my father is not able to see you right away, but I hope that you will allow me to make you welcome until then.”

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:52 am

Polished marble does not lend itself well to discretion. Footsteps carried clearly to echo throughout the entrance chamber.

Such echoes served masterfully at announcing the hostess, far better than any herald. The clarity of the echoes preceded her so well that she was fully expected when she stepped into the entrance hall.

A bright smile lept unbidden upon the face of Railtus. Pure white teeth did their level best to sparkle, as though independently anxious to point out the care lavished upon them. It was a full set of teeth, cleaned each day with salt, to the expense of using the salt on food.

Having caught sight of her, a thought flew to glance towards the portrait for confirmation, but he was unable to tear his eyes away from her. For a moment, his grip on the shield tightened. Only then did he realise he was smiling, and the smile remained where it was.

Not that it could move to anywhere bar his face.

As she curtseyed, Marvelle, that is her name, Railtus bowed low. Leading the bow with his right foot to keep the shield out the way. Following with one smooth motion, accompanied by the thought Julen is going to be sick when he sees this, Railtus shifted his hand from the shield-grip to through the straps and slid the shield up onto his shoulder, so that the point was reaching around his back. It was not a truly comfortable position, but provided he made no attempt to raise his shoulder and thus clunk himself on the head, he would have both his arms free for a proper greeting.

"A pleasure to meet you Lady Mavelle, I have no regrets of this." he greeted her, sweeping her hands into his and turning them over gently to kiss the palms. "I have not long arrived in Marn, and already tales of your beauty have reached my ears. I must say, they fail to do you justice."

In an instant, his butterfly-soft touch vanished and he stepped back swiftly, adjusting his shield to a more natural angle. "Your welcome is appreciated. Word from my father, Baron Antal, was sent ahead of me, explaining his wish that I stay in this household for the present. Lord Kendall has replied his agreement." Railtus explained, showing an opened envelope with the letter tucked neatly inside. "Please verify anything you need. Of course, if there is anything you deem it best to discuss?" As much as anything else, he actually wanted her opinion. He also wanted a hot bath, a hot meal and the chance to change some clothes. Of course, these wishes were heightened by the desire to look presentable.
Last edited by Sir Karsimir on Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Falcon Bertille » Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:36 pm

Mavelle smiled, delighted by the gallantry and grace of Railtus’s greeting. When he kissed her palms, she felt herself flush, warmth tickling her cheeks like fur brushing against naked skin. Oh yes. This was definitely going to be more fun than entertaining a bunch of stodgy old merchants.

Tilting her head, Mavelle let a few well-calculated strands of pale gold hair fall across her face as she accepted Railtus’s compliment about her beauty. “It’s very kind of you to say so. Although, I must admit, I’m not sure how word of my appearance has managed to spread, since my parents keep me locked away in this house like a song bird in a pretty cage.” That was something of an exaggeration. But, as Mavelle well knew, the art of flirting was filled with harmless overstatements.

Mavelle’s pleasure increased with the news that Railtus was not merely a passing visitor, but would be staying with them as a guest. Finally, something exciting had entered her life! Certainly, Railtus’s carefully maintained armor, along with the sword he wore at his side, spoke of tales far more interesting than trade gossip. Mavelle fully intended to interpret Railtus’s invitation to speak with him about matters related to his arrival as an excuse for prying any thrilling details out of him. But despite her eagerness, she knew that certain etiquette needed to be addressed first.

“There is indeed much I would enjoy discussing with you. But first, I would be rude if I didn’t extend the full hospitality of my House.”

Turning, Mavelle glanced around in search of a servant. The chance that one might not be present never occurred to her. It was simply a fact of her life that whenever she wanted something done, someone was around to do it. As, indeed, was the case this time. “See that a bath is drawn for Master Railtus. And when you’ve finished doing that, speak to one of my mother’s handmaidens about some clean clothing. If my mother knew he was coming, she certainly would have arranged for him to have suitable attire.” Meeting Railtus’s eyes, Mavelle gave him a look which seemed to say: You know how mothers are.

Almost as an afterthought, Mavelle remembered the other man who had arrived with Railtus. Redirecting her gaze to him, she expected to find the man staring at her in the rather spellbound way that that most men did, and it annoyed her to discover that, instead, he seemed to be studying a portrait of her brother. Well, perhaps he just hadn’t seen her properly. Mavelle feigned a delicate cough, which succeeded in attracting the man’s attention, and as he turned from the portrait, she gave him the sort of friendly smile that few men of his station would ever have the joy of experiencing. That should do it, she thought. Unfortunately, it didn’t. The man returned her smile, with an expression that was friendly enough, but no awe or desire burned in his brown eyes.

Hmpf! He probably only has eyes for the pigs and cows he was born amongst. What would someone like that know about true beauty, anyway?

Quickly, Mavelle refocused her attention on someone who obviously appreciated her many attributes. And, in the same tone of voice as someone asking a guest where they would like to have their luggage taken, inquired “What would you like done with your manservant?”

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Thu Feb 15, 2007 4:10 am

Without following up on his compliment, Railtus bowed his head in courteous acknowledgement. There were far more important things than beauty, even such as Mavelle's.

Standing clear in his mind though was the thought of Mavelle as pleasant and sincere. Already she stood out with her charm and grace, all the more splendid for the absense of baubles that would never match her eyes. To keep one such as this so sequestered felt like a crime. One could easily expect her to add to the family name.

Perhaps it was grooming for political marriage. Another concept of the nobility which did not sit well with the young man. However, it did not do to jump to conclusions. Clearly Mavelle had her own talents, it was something to hold faith in.

Now the offer of a bath was accepted with perhaps too much enthusiasm. It had been a long journey, with him not long from the road.

"My thanks, my lady. I am still travel-stained, and can only imagine the state in which I have approached your House." One accustomed to the harsh days of a warrior was hardly inclined to be self-conscious, but there was still the habit of such courtesies. "And my thanks to you as well." Railtus called in the direction of the servant, perhaps to the surprise of the others.

While the whisper of breath before had eluded him, the feigned cough - he knew it was feigned - did not, nor did the dazzling smile bestowed upon Julen. Such an effort seemed to please Railtus. Of course, had he known the true reasoning behind it he would have to bite down a laugh. Instead, he mistook it for a further courtesy directed at his soon-to-be-footman, something which struck deeply with his approval.

"My friend," began Railtus, seeking to strike a balance between discretion and courtesy, "is serving as my guide for the day. To provide a good meal would be taken as a kindness." The last part addressed Julen rather than Mavelle, as Railtus grew conscious of an increasing discomfort with not referring to Julen by name. At the very least he could speak to the man directly. "That way you could be at hand when I am finished with Lord Kendall." he suggested.

Cautiously, Railtus watched carefully for his next cue. Obviously the bath would not be ready just yet, and there was sure to be more for Mavelle to say.

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Post by Falcon Bertille » Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:53 pm

Railtus’s failure to mention his hireling by name made no impression at all on Mavelle. If it had ever occurred to her that servants might actually have names, she’d certainly never stopped to wonder what they might be. On the other hand, when Railtus thanked the departing servant and then referred his hireling as a “friend” -- both of these struck her as unusual. Her parents never displayed such familiarity with the help, and Mavelle suspected that if Railtus behaved this way in front of them, he would be pulled aside by her mother for a gentle lecture.

But Railtus’s conduct didn’t bother Mavelle. On the contrary, it thrilled her, making him seem even more exotic. She imagined his father’s House as a rowdy place where the lord shared a pipe with his valets and the lady gossiped with her maids. Who knew what sort of amusing things might happen in a setting like that? Eager to play along, Mavelle jumped on Railtus’s request for a meal. “Yes, of course. I won’t let your friend -- our friend -- go hungry.” Mavelle’s voice grew bolder and more triumphant as she decided to embark on one of the larger rebellions she’d ever attempted under her father’s roof. “In fact, I shall escort you both to the kitchen. Right this very moment.”

But before Mavelle went anywhere, she raised her elbow a little, in a manner suggesting that, perhaps, it might appreciate another elbow to link with. The gesture was subtle, and she could easily drop her arm back to her side if the offer was rejected. As of yet, however, Mavelle’s offers had not been rejected. “And while we’re doing that, you can tell me about your trip. Everyone says that the way to Marn is long and dangerous, so you must have faced some interesting adventures.”

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Name: Karsimir Von Greyssen
Race: Reichvolk human

Post by Sir Karsimir » Fri Feb 16, 2007 12:44 pm

All of a sudden, one proud nail stood out defiantly from the metaphorical woodwork. Railtus was well justified in referring to Julen as a friend. After all, the man had shown courage and integrity from the outset, had shared with him his deepest troubles, and they both offered signs of trust. From Mavelle, this seemed not so much fake, so much as designed to please Railtus above anything else. Now the green sparkle dwelled in a far more wary eye. That new alertness showed.

Again, the genteel nod of gratitude, "You are very thoughtful." If anything, that choice of words was for variety from the constant thanking. Besides, compliments tended to be more interesting.

Same as always, Mavelle got her wish, though with some uncertainty. Arms bumped together like kittens bumping noses as a form of treading water with the gesture. From that contact, however, elbows linked quite naturally together. Dryly, Railtus could not help but wonder what it must have been like to interlink with a hardened leather vambrace. Not as soft as she was expecting.

"There were dangers," he admitted soberly, "though less exciting than you would hope. I suspect they would never have come were I not delayed in my travels. No regrets, however." That last part was strangely definate, one of the first signs of his unyielding conviction.

"The delay." he opened, homing in on the subject most palatable to speak of, "Was caused by meeting a village priest misusing his position. I had a duty to stay to keep his abuses in check. This brought attention from the Ydrenite sect, who take measures to protect the people from such fearmongering and injustice. I learned much from a curate loyal to Ydren. Were I not promised to be here I would have completed my initiation." A far-off look came into his eyes, dispersing the intensity for a moment yet broadcasting the joy and passion which justice held to him.

He stopped himself short, taking care not to get carried away. Thusfar, he knew of no reason for Mavelle to share his convictions, and it would be ungracious to force them down her throat.

Like the priest he stayed to oppose.

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Julen
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Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 3:04 pm
Name: Julen
Race: Human

Post by Julen » Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:11 pm

Continuing to trail behind Mavelle and Railtus as they walked toward the kitchen, Julen watched the couple with growing amusement. He was more than willing to admit that Railtus’s knowledge exceeded his own when it came to etiquette, combat, philosophy, and the world at large. But after one year of courtship, followed by two years of marriage, Julen felt reasonably certain that he knew more about women. Even noble women. Who, it began to seem, were not entirely different from the women Julen had known back in Shim.

Certainly, Julen could see why people praised Mavelle. She was indeed a great beauty. However, she seemed too delicate and refined to make a good match for Railtus, like pairing a china doll with toy soldier. For some reason, Julen had trouble imagining Railtus being satisfied with a wife who couldn’t occasionally beat him with her words -- and maybe with her sword as well. But the fact that Railtus would probably not be wedding Mavelle didn’t make it any less entertaining to watch her slip the metaphorical ring through his nose and begin leading him around by it.

Julen listened with interest when Railtus spoke about his encounter with the Ydrenite sect. It was more personal information than he’d managed to get out of Railtus so far, and he added it to the growing list of questions he wanted to ask his friend. But, as much as Railtus’s words offered an important glimpse into his heart, Julen could tell that they weren’t the exciting story that Mavelle had been hoping for. Momentarily forgetting that he’d been told to refrain from speaking unless he was spoken to, Julen couldn’t resist the temptation to poke a small hole in the armor of Railtus’s unrelenting modesty.

“He was attacked by bandits.”

Falcon Bertille
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Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:15 pm

Post by Falcon Bertille » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:17 pm

Proud of herself, Mavelle began leading Railtus toward the kitchen. The feel of his leather armor rubbing against the silk sleeve of her dress was rough, but not unpleasant, and she liked its novelty. Until now, the only armored men she’d seen were hired guards. And her father had been quick to insist that, while such men were an unfortunate necessity, she was not to go anywhere near them. But Railtus seemed more like a knight. Absently, Mavelle wondered if Marn ever hosted any sort of tournaments. In her mind, she was already tying one of her scarves to Railtus’s lance, so that he could sport the colors of his lady when jousting against some fearsome opponent.

Tales about priests using their influence to oppress the peasantry lacked the drama and swordplay Mavelle had been hoping for. But then, at least they weren’t a discussion about the effect of this year’s weather on the price of beets. Nodding politely, Mavelle listened to Railtus talk, while her mind fluttered between his words and fantasies of him fighting a band of trolls to defend her. And, judging by the dreamy look that entered Railtus's eyes when he finished speaking, she dared to hope that he was having similar thoughts about her.

Mavelle had almost forgotten about the second man, until his voice came from somewhere behind them.

“He was attacked by bandits.”

“Bandits?” Mavelle squealed, tightening her grip on Railtus. “How horrible! Tell me all about it.”

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