And in the End... (RP)

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And in the End... (RP)

Postby Malik » Thu Jun 10, 2004 2:23 am

(OOC: The OOC thread can be found here.)

Long ago in a world lost to memory, a baby's cry altered the course of history and time…

Wars had torn across the face of Fallarian for centuries unnumbered, but an unsteady peace agreement had been settled between the rulers of the twelve kingdoms. Three nights after the treaties had been signed, the Queen of Lyresse, the central kingdom, gave birth to a girl child. I was in the service of the King as chief mage and advisor and had been for much of his life. The Queen had miscarried two times previous to this pregnancy, and both times the people had mourned the premature loss of princelings. I distinctly remember telling the King two months before the birthing day that if his wife could not produce a healthy male heir this third time that his kingdom and all he had ever worked for or cherished would be lost, but what are weighty words like that to a father’s ear when he first looks upon the little girl he helped create?

“She shall be called Therese,” he whispered to the newborn when the midwife carefully placed her in his arms. When he looked up to judge my reaction, his usually stern face had softened, erasing several hard years from his apparent age. “My lady and I will raise her to be a good queen, and she will lead our people into years of peace unlike any they ever dreamed of before.” All I could do was bow my head respectfully. What use were words of warning once the child had been born? In fact, what use were warnings beforehand when the midwife refused to declare the sex of the child leaving them incapable of handling the situation ahead of time? If only I had been more skilled in my art then. I might have been able to give my liege lord something more than vague warnings and indistinct feelings. Really, there’s no point in mourning for the what if’s and might’s and should have’s. What has been done, has been done.

The King made good on his word and raised little Therese to become a good and fair queen for her people. Even his prophecy of peace seemed to be coming to fruition. The uneasy peace between the kingdoms had relaxed into a more certain quiet. The occasional border skirmishes still took place, but for the most part war became a thing of the past. As my own usefulness faded in the court, I retreated to the tower I called home and began taking on apprentices. Any minor magicks that needed to be taken care of were handled by those young men and women I took under my wing, while I holed myself up in my study to work on deciphering the strange concerns I had about the princess.

Eventually the Queen passed away, and the King died not too long after, leaving Lyresse in the inexperienced hands of a nineteen year old Therese. I was called out of my ‘retirement’ to be her advisor, and by that time I’d developed a somewhat clearer understanding of my dark intuitions. I never told my new Queen what I had learned, or even that I had ever warned her father about her birth. I saw no cause to concern her when she already had to deal with so much. Again, I wonder if maybe things would have turned out differently if I had acted otherwise. There isn’t any real way of knowing, but it often plagues my soul.

The almost enchanted peace the twelve kingdoms had experienced came to a devastating end shortly after Therese celebrated her twenty-second birthday. Word of the young Queen’s beauty had spread to all of the twelve kingdoms, so naturally every eligible man of wealth and good standing made attempts to court her. Therese, however, was no fool. No great intellect was necessary to see that each of them was interested in a pretty face and an even prettier and well-situated kingdom. None of them would have shared control over the lands, and so, as she rejected every overture, the peace began to crumble.
Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again.
Wisely improve the present. It is thine.
Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.
For their sake, the end must not come too soon.
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Postby Therese » Wed Jul 28, 2004 4:13 pm

"Honestly, Malik," a soft, feminine, and distinctly playful voice lilted from within a spacious closet. "Even his messenger was greasy and disgusting." The owner of the voice stepped out of the closet and eyed herself in the mirror.

Therese knew she was attractive, though by no means did she believe she was truly worthy of the attentions she had been receiving of late. Her face was nearly perfectly proportioned, the long delicate features she had inherited from her mother seeming to fall exactly into the right places. She had a sweet little bow of a mouth, and exotically shaped cool, clear blue eyes. Her long blonde hair had been pulled back with a band of blue silk ribbon, and fell in smooth shining waves to the middle of her back. She had just changed into a more casual white linen shirt, and soft brown leather trousers (something the more old-fashioned women of the court thought to be disgusting and disgraceful).

The queen turned and smiled at the white haired man she had grown to trust as her father had before her. He was frowning at her flippant manner, just as she had expected him to do. Her smile blossomed across her face and light ringing laughter filled the room. She skipped lightly across the thick rugs covering the floor to his side and picked up a wrinkled smooth hand. Therese's eyes sparkled with intense merriment, even as they looked into the stern black gaze of her aged advisor.

"Why must you look at me like that?" She gave his hand a gentle squeeze. "I promise I practiced the arts of diplomacy to the fullest when wording my refusal to the duke's request for my hand." She turned away from the old wizard with a sigh, missing the small gleam in his eyes that had appeared at her words. “You know I won’t marry unless it is for love,” Therese sighed softly and toyed with her hair. “Besides, I won’t just hand over the people of Lyresse to a cruel overlord like that, and I doubt you’d really want me to, Malik.” She sat at her vanity and carefully positioned a simple gold chain so that it fell just below her hairline on her forehead. This was the only thing she wore to acknowledge her status when not dealing with affairs of state, and even so, Malik had worked very hard to convince her to even wear that small symbol.

“I’m not so much lamenting the fact that you didn’t choose to marry Duke Bristol as I am that you have turned down every man who has attempted to court you.” The old man’s voice seemed heavy with concern, though she could not understand its source. There had been queens who remained single in the history of her kingdom. She glanced at his reflection in her mirror and offered him a reassuring smile. Lyresse would be fine. The kingdom was thriving in its longest period of peace ever. She had no need of a husband.
Love is everything it's cracked up to be…
It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
For my kingdom I am strong.
For my heart I am his.
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Postby Malik » Mon Oct 04, 2004 9:52 pm

So the days passed into weeks, and the weeks stretched into months, and as every man within the eleven other kingdoms made suit for the Queen and was turned down, the wars began. The first signs of violence were small, merely increased numbers of border attacks in all of the kingdoms of Fallarian, but I knew that they were simply the first motes of dust to fall from the crumbling edifice of peace. Duke Gromen of Stylar, the far northern kingdom, and Lord Jefnah of Brulen, it's southeastern neighbor, were the first to declare full war on each other. They had been among Therese's first suitors and had not taken her refusal as well as some, so it was little surprise that they would seek to improve their chances by improving their holdings.

Therese disapproved of their aggressive behavior, but paid little heed to what I hinted this would mean for the future. She believed, quite innocently and foolishly, that the warring would be short-lived and that soon the men of the land would come to accept her desire to remain unwed. Her beliefs were proved wrong as day by day, hostilities increased throughout the lands. Her own people became more and more unsettled, expecting that the fights and skirmishes would soon spill into their homeland. The Queen did her best to reassure her subjects, but there was really only so much she could say to them. She didn't live on the borders of the hostile kingdoms, and they did.

Finally, the wars came to a sudden, and very unexpected halt. news came to me through my various networks that the other kingdoms had agreed to a ceasefire. I had to admit, I was puzzled by this strange turn of events. Of course, young Therese believed that it proved what she'd been saying from the start. There were many times that I wanted to turn to her and lay the whole truth of my visions and fears on her shoulders, if only so she would see what I saw and understand why I didn't trust the quiet. After all, isn't there always a calm before the breaking of a great storm? In all my studies and meditations I never once imagined what was to come.


"My queen," I bowed my head low, avoiding her eyes. I didn't want her to see how great my fear was upon hearing the recent knews from our kingdom's borders. She didn't acknowledge me vocally, but I felt her turn her attention from the servant pouring her wine to me. "The kingdoms of Stylar, Kendrais, Brulen, Rolanis, Hirfstat, Doreal, Trodec, Cirmain, Esthen, Grull, and Mirradan are all marching on Lyresse." Still, I avoided her eyes, but I heard her goblet hit the cold marble floor, splashing the grape vintage across its surface.

"Surely you jest, Malik." The tremor in her voice was well disguised for the sake of the servant, but I had known her since she was a babe. I knew she feared this truth.

"No, my queen." I finally dared look upon her face. The delicate features of her face had set into a cold frown, but in her blue eyes, fear outweighed all else. "The scouts from each of our borders have brought news of great armies led by the reigning lords of the kingdoms crossing our borders." I watched her carefully as I slowly moved to her side, dismissing her servant with a quick wave of my hand. Word would spread like wildfire through the castle, though I imagine the scouts had already begun sharing the information with everyone they encountered. A threat of this magnitude required that everyone, down to the least of the peasants, be prepared. Several moments passed in silence while Therese considered the meaning of this dire news.

"What have they been doing with my people?" Her voice was almost so soft that I missed it. I rested my hand on her shoulder, but she didn't turn her eyes toward me.

"Your people are untouched, Therese. The armies seem content with marching toward the central settlement without harrassing the peasants." I gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze, and finally she turned her head and looked up. Never had the crown upon her head seemed so perfectly placed and yet so wrong for the person wearing it. She seemed both child and monarch, unable to choose one role or the other. "I recommend that you send out a decree to the people of the central settlement. Move them within the walls of the fortress keep. They can set up camp there and be safe from the more roguish members of the various forces." She nodded, swallowing visibly before setting her face into the stern, yet concerned visage of a queen in control of every situation.

"Let it be so." I moved my hand to hers, lifting it as I bowed my head to kiss the signet ring upon her forefinger.

"It shall be, my queen." I turned and walked quickly toward the door, but before opening it, I turned to face her once more. "You are a good queen, Therese." I left before she could respond, hurrying to the scribes chambers to dictate the latest decree.
Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again.
Wisely improve the present. It is thine.
Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.
For their sake, the end must not come too soon.
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Postby Therese » Mon Nov 15, 2004 1:27 am

She tied the midnight blue cloak at her neck and slipped the hood over her shining golden hair. Therese peered silently left and right before slipping silently out the small door and into the cool of the evening. She knew that Malik would be sure to have someone follow her and keep her out of trouble, but she didn't want to have a formal retinue following her everywhere as she moved among her people. Within the castle walls, she could only watch as the peasants, merchants, and nobles moved their homes and families within the surrounding fortress walls. She wanted to be among them, to help them, for she was the cause of this whole mess.

She slipped nearly unseen past the fortess gate, stopping when she spied a cart that was holding up the influx of refugees. She hurried to see what the trouble was, only just missing get run over by one of her mounted guards. The horse that had been pulling the cart was whinnying and rearing up on its hind legs.

"'Ere now!" the guard shouted over the animal's cries. "Wots tha hold up?"

"Beggin' yer pardon, sir," a warm, if flustered, man's voice spoke up just as the horse reared again. Therese gently moved through the gathering crowd until she was standing just within the ring of people watching the commotion. A few braver men kept darting forward, trying to grab the horse's leads. The peasant sitting onm the crude bench of the cart tugged on the reins in an attempt to keep the poor creature from kicking at the guard. "It's Reggie. 'E's gone scared." Without thinking, Therese stepped into the ring, moving dangerously close to the raised hooves that beat at the air.

"Miss! You should get back miss!" Reggie landed roughly once again, just missing her head and knocking the hood of her cloak back. Before he could rear again, Therese reached forward and gripped the halter, looking the horse in the eye and making soft soothing sounds. He stamped the ground several times, but allowed her to stroke his neck as he calmed.

"Th-thank you, yer highness." Her cool blue eyes surveyed the man's face as her lips curled into a grin.

"He was just frightened," her soft voice carried over the murmurs of the crowd that had only just recognized their sovereign. "I'm sure he could feel the concern of everyone around and it unnerved him." She turned to the guard who had dismounted and was kneeling in the dirt. "Rise, please rise."

"I apologize, my queen, for-"

"Do not worry about it. Just help this man and his family make it safely within the walls without further incident." She smiled and turned to walked farther out into the mass of people when a familiar voice spoke from behind her.

"Your highness, I know you seek to help your people, but I must ask that you return to the castle." Therese turned slowly and looked into the eyes of her aged advisor. The lines of care and worry were deeply etched into his brow, but still she remained where she stood.

"I'd rather not."

"I'm well aware of that, but it is getting late, and I will not have you outside the castle walls after sundown without guards." She opened her mouth to speak, but he silenced her before she could form a retort. "Your people will surely understand, my lady. You are more than welcome to help them on the morrow...and I doubt I could stop you even if I told you otherwise." The corners of hips lips twitched as he restrained the fond smile she knew would normally accompany such a comment.

"Then it shall be as you say, Malik," she moved toward him and rested her hand in the crook of his arm. "I will come out tomorrow...and you will come with me." When his arm stiffened slightly under her touch, she laughed. "Come on. Let's go inside then, shall we?"
Love is everything it's cracked up to be…
It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
For my kingdom I am strong.
For my heart I am his.
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Postby Malik » Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:43 pm

One by one the armies made camp outside the fortress walls. As each sent forth a small group to speak with representatives of my queen, I looked on from the battlements. Already I knew what they would ask, and I also knew what Therese's answer would be. I turned my back on the most recent parley and made the journey back within the castle's walls, staring up at the crescent moon whose arms reached to embrace a brightly shining star. I'd already decided that I would take the Lady to a safer location, and had even spent a fair amount of time convincing her that this was indeed the best course of action. I needed time to make a plan. As foolish as I knew myself to be, I still held on to the hope that I could at least save her.

I found her waiting in her throne room. She was wearing a simple travelling cloak and the more plain clothing that she tended to prefer wearing when not at court. At her feet rested a small pack in which, I assumed, she had stored an extra outfit and any little necessities she might lack in my tower. My current apprentice had not been alerted that I would be returning with a guest, but I was fairly certain that he would not mind the small intrusion.

"Are you ready to leave, my lady?" Her cool blue eyes met mine with a dull resignation under which burned a bright fire of anger. "The last of the kingdoms is delivering their ultimatum. Now is the best time to leave."

"Are you certain this is the only way, Malik?" Her will to resist the lords who stood on her doorstep was strong, but she knew as well as I did that fighting back right now would only destroy her people.

"I am sure that we cannot fight, my queen, just as I am sure that even should you elect to ally yourself with one of the other kingdoms, the odds would still be in favor of your destruction." She nodded silently and stood, placing her hand in mine. I couldn't help but marvel at how cool her skin felt against my own in spite of the blood boiling in her veins. I cupped my free hand against her cheek and offered her my most supportive smile. "I promise I'll think of something."

I meant everything I said to her, and I hope with all my heart that she knew that. I hope as well that she knew that what happened later was not a result of my planning. It never ceases to amaze me just how blind I was. No matter what I tried to do, something always took me by surprise to turn the course of events. I only knew the eventual outcome. Therese was as much a queen as she was a daughter to me by then, and I couldn't bear to lose her.

I secreted her away to my tower as I had planned, and was met by a very startled Sedrik. He had been immersed in his studies and had no inkling of outside events. I stayed with them long enough to explain the current situation to Sedrik and to get Therese settled in her room. I had to return to the central fortress to deliver word of the queen's decision, or lack thereof. No one knew the exact location of my residence, but Therese, Sedrik, and me. I believed she was perfectly safe. On the one hand, it pains me to know I was wrong and left my queen in harms way. However, considering how events unfolded, maybe it was all for the best.
Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again.
Wisely improve the present. It is thine.
Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.
For their sake, the end must not come too soon.
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Postby Therese » Sun Jul 10, 2005 11:21 pm

Sedrik had been more than accomodating in his kindness, doing all he could to assure that Therese felt right at home in the enchanter's tower. There were a few rooms that he had cautioned her to avoid for her own safety, but other than that, she had free reign over the entire complex. None of the rooms were really locked or barred from her. Occasionally he spoke to her about the situation she was in, asking questions about the various rulers of the kingdoms as if trying to discern the complex nature of her problem.

"So there is no plausible way to avoid war?" The apprentice's voice startled the queen from her reverie. They had been sitting in silence before a fire much like they always had after their evening meals for the past month. She turned to face him, a warm, if sad, smile on her pink lips.

"Not that I can see right now," she whispered before her eyes turned back to the dancing flames. "But I'm sure Malik will think of something." She didn't dare voice her fear that nothing could be done to save her kingdom. With every fiber of her being, she held on to the fading glimmers of hope, fanning them with an unflagging faith in her advisor.

"You know I have a great deal of respect for my master, but what happens to us if he doesn't weave a miracle?" She could feel his eyes boring into her with the weight of his question, but she dared not think of the responses she could give. She shook her head and stood.

"I'm going to retire for the night. Pleasant dreams, Sedrik." Without another word, she left the sitting room and hurried to her quarters. She didn't bother waiting for a similar wish from the young man since she knew exactly what her dreams would be. Ever since she had been told of the approaching armies, she'd been sleeping fitfully at best. Nightmarish fantasies tormented her mind, showing her just what kind of devastation her people had in store for them, no matter what she chose. Even so, she crawled under the sheets of her bed with something akin to desperation.

"Just one night of peaceful sleep...that's all I ask." Her plea quietly passed her lips before her eyes slowly closed, bringing darkness and dreams. However, she had barely begun walking the roads of her nightmares when a hand clamped forcefully on her mouth.

"I'm sorry, your highness, but I cannot allow you to sit back and let your kingdom fall." Her blue eyes radiated confusion and panic, but she remained still. She tried to speak the question, 'Why,' but it came out as a muted sound. Sedrik seemed to understand her well enough though.

"I've done a lot of thinking on what Malik told me, and what I've learned from you over the past few weeks. What I don't understand is how the two of you could sit back and do nothing and yet claim to care so much about these lands. The answer should have been plain for you both to see. Wed the commander with the greatest military might and best grasp of strategy." He looked into her eyes, pleading for her to understand. "Yes, your lands would suffer some, but in the end you would survive. It would be better for your people for you to ally Lyresse with Hirfstat."

Every muscle in Therese's body tensed at his words. Hirfstat was ruled by Lord Trenton, though he was merely granted his title since he ruled the kingdom. He had been the general of the armies under King Dunwen, but his lust for power had led him to betray his liege and steal the throne. His personality lacked anything remotely resembling appeal. It was a well known fact among the kingdoms that he treated his people terribly, and the women with whom he spent his leisure time rarely were of interest to men afterwards. Even Malik had not been eager to treat with Hirfstat diplomatically when the Lord made his suit.

"I've already made contact with Lord Trenton, and he has agreed to meet me so long as I bring you with me." The apprentice's voice cut through her thoughts like a knife. "I cannot let him know where this tower lies, so I do hope that you will see the wisdom of my plan and will come quietly." He had barely begun to remove his hand to give her the chance to respond when she kicked her legs up and into his side. Her hands flew into his face, clawing at his eyes and trying to push him back. Sedrik fell back into a chair and covered his face with a cry as Therese leapt from her bed and hurried out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Once in the hall, she ran blindly through rooms and up stairs. It had occurred to her to run out into the night, but she knew that she was anything but safe beyond the tower walls. Unfortunately, the headstart she'd bought herself was not very strong for she heard Sedrik angrily bursting into the hallway outside her room.

"You can't hide from me here! I know this tower far better than you do!" Therese bit her lip and made another dash up a spiraling starcase. He was right, but she'd learned enough of the tower's secrets to keep out of his grasp for at least a short time. 'But what then? Will I have the strength to run forever?' She opened a door to a room she'd never entered before and closed it quickly behind her, then began looking for a place to hide.

Scattered all around the room were panes of glass unlike anything she'd seen from the finest artisans of the world. They varied in size, thickness, and color, and several of them even had a strange glow that emanated like an aura. She had no idea what these things were, or what their significance might be, but she figured the glass could be used to her advantage nonetheless. Quickly, she scurried underneath a worktable from which she could still see the door and reach the nearest piece of glass with her feet. She didn't have to wait long. Sedrik quietly pushed open the door and stepped inside the room, closing and bolting it shut before turning to scan for her presense.

"Dead end, your highness. There is no way out of this room except out the window, and I doubt you'd survive the fall." She saw him making a slow circuit of the room, peering around the glasses and under the varied tables and countertops. "Since you are unwilling to join me, I will have to use a stronger method of coersion than reason." Therese held her breath as he gradually stepped to the end of a long line of the colorful panes. With a cry, she pushed the nearest glass over. Like a line of dominoes, they fell in contagion shattering once they hit the ground until the last one struck the startled apprentice.

"Do you know what you have done?" His voice was nearly a shriek as all manner of smoky clouds and figures emerged from the shards on the floor, moving towards the man. Frantically he waved his hands around him, muttering all manner of incantations in an attempt to banish the spell crafted illusions and creatures. The queen peered out from under her table, and moved as silently as possible to the door. She unbolted it and gripped the handle, but the door flew open as if by a mighty wind.

"My lady?" Malik frowned at the confusion in the room, then gripped her hand and pulled her into the stairway before the creatures could turn their attentions on her. "What is going on here? I was summoned, and I'd very much like to know why."

"Sedrik wishes to hand me over to Lord Trenton." Her voice was barely audible over the squawks and cries in the glass chamber. Malik sighed, visibly aging as the weight of the news fell on him.

"Then there is only one other place I can take you. Since I left you, I've learned some very disturbing things." She looked at him quizzically, but he shook his head. "I'd rather wait until I can tell you more, my queen." Her eyes flashed and her cheeks flushed a brilliant pink.

"I don't have the time to spare, Malik. I can't stall the armies any longer, and you know that."

"Then I'll give you the time, and myself for that matter. I can take us back about nine months so you will be even safer, and I'll have the time for the research I need-"

"Wait!" Her brow furrowed with confusion and mild anger. "You can travel back in time? Why don't we just-" Malik covered her mouth and shook his head sadly.

"If Time were a toy that simple to play with, I'd have done something about our situation long ago, and you'd never have known the difference." He dropped his hand from her mouth and moved down the stairs towards his personal study, another of the rooms she'd avoided in his absense. "Please trust me, Therese. I will do all in my power to prevent any ill befalling you or your people." She sighed with resignation.

"I know, Malik. I just fear for them...for myself." She watched him gathering a few notes and bottles for a moment before interrupting him. "Should I gather all of my things?"

"Only your travelling gear and your oldest clothes." He offered her a sly smile before going back to his own preparations in silence. With an almost exhausted laugh, she turned and left his study.

"Ever the mysterious mage, Malik..."
Love is everything it's cracked up to be…
It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
For my kingdom I am strong.
For my heart I am his.
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Postby Adeon » Sun Sep 18, 2005 11:11 pm

The day had begun simply enough. Chores had to be done, animals fed, and sometime later time had to be made to stop by Cassie's home. Adeon had long worked to woo that maid, and after months of wildflower bouquets, random walks to gather wood for her household, and late night chats on her family's porch under the watchful eye of her grandmother, he'd finally been granted permission for formal courtship. Of course, he worked diligently to spend time with her outside of what was considered the appropriate times and places, but the ire of her father was well worth it in his opinion. Today he wanted to sneak out into the woods with her to walk by one of the local streams for a bit.

He'd been doing just fine keeping to his plans too, until the old man and the new maid came into the village. From some hazy memories of his youth, Adeon thought he remembered the old man visiting the are from time to time, but he didn't remember a name. As for the young woman, she was a pale thing, pretty but too fragile. She looked to him like one of the winter blooms that wither under too much sun. He would have paid the two little more attention had they not walked directly to his Cassie's home. He watched from the barn where he was tending to the work horses as the old man knocked on Cassie's door. Sure enough Cass opened the door and greeted the strangers. Adeon couldn't hear what was said from where he stood, but it wasn't long before the man stepped aside and ushered the woman into the home. He seemed to say a few more things to Cassie before turning and leaving the village.

Adeon had finished his duties around the farm quickly enough, but when he stopped by Cassie's home later to try to pull her away, she'd shrugged him off in favor of her new guest. The young man had frowned at the frail blonde, not even bothering to hide his disappointment. Unfortunately, Cassie did not appreciate his behavior in the slightest and had sent him back home with stern words.

"You come back when you can behave yourself. And don't you think that sweet talking me will win me over quick this time. You've insulted Kana, and I'll not have my hospitality challenged like that." He'd barely managed a stuttered reply when the door was slammed in his face. In that moment he decided that this 'guest' needed to go. Things were perfect until she showed up and stole the attentions of the woman he loved. He wouldn't dare act openly against Kana. To do that would only upset Cassie further. Instead, he would see if the other lads in the area could take care of her for him.

"See that she feels the need to return to whatever place she calls home as quickly as possible fellows. If you can do this, I will owe you one. And remember, I had nothing to do with this." The local boys and younger men had been eager to do his bidding. He'd often helped most of them out of tight situations or dire straights, and the thought that Adeon would owe them a favor for once was a welcome one. He left them to their plotting and went back home to dinner with his own family.

"That little thing won't last a week in this place with those boys after her."
Above you is the sun and sky. Below you, the ground.
Like the sun, your love should be constant, like the ground, solid.
For my love, I could never leave her.
For my life, how I hate her.
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Postby Therese » Mon Oct 10, 2005 10:57 pm

It was incredible to Therese just how simple and yet kind the people of her outer borders were. She had only very rarely visited any villages or towns more than half a day's ride from her palace. Initially, she was mentally praising Malik for his genius, but as the days wore on she found herself wishing to be back in his tower fighting off Sedrik. As Kana she had little defense against the pranks of village boys. Having grown up the only child of royalty, she had never learned how to deal with bullying.

When she tripped over things that appeared out of seeming nowhere, she was puzzled, but thought little of it. She'd always been graceful, but it was easy to attribute her newfound clumsiness to nerves. When she was shoved rather forcefully to the ground only to turn and hear the fading laughter of boys, she believed she was enduring the teasing alotted to outsiders and held her tongue. She couldn't, however, keep her hosts from noticing when she came home covered in pig muck. She couldn't begin to tell them who had dumped the filth over her head because she'd been too ashamed to even turn on them in anger.

Cassie, the maid whose room she shared, had offered to go to her beau to discover the offending parties, but 'Kana' would hear none of it. She doubted he would be much help to her anyhow. His distaste for her intrusion was still apparent in his eyes any time she happened to walk past the farm where he lived and worked. Besides, even if the bullies were discovered, it would be her word against theirs. No one was ever around to witness the acts, and she was unknown. Most of the townsfolk were nice to her and seemed to accept her, but if the people were forced to choose between one of their own and someone they hardly knew, Therese was sure she'd lose.

She'd continued living miserably as Kana largely because she had no choice. There wasn't anywhere she could go for at least nine months. By some miracle, she survived an entire month of the taunting without losing her grasp on sanity. Cassie kept telling her to not walk alone in the streets, but the maid soon learned that Kana was far too stubborn to give in like that. There was no way that Therese could explain why she felt more comfortable in solitude either.

The only reason why she was ever caught by surprise is because she took quiet walks through the woods nearly everyday after she'd helped with the chores. Only when surrounded by the giant trees was she able to find herself, the woman she'd always been. She had been playing the part of Kana for long enough that it was almost becoming difficult to remember the queen she'd been raised to be. When she was separated from the village, she could shed the mask, and as the days passed, she found herself clinging more and more deperately to her image of palace life. It was easy to remain lost in the life that was so far away, even when she returned to her 'home'. That was when the pranks were worst. Even so, she still took her walks.

Therese was lost in such a reverie when she heard masculine voices behind her in the woods. Without even thinking, she broke into a run. Just once she wanted to be free of the tormenting, and if she had to dash home and hide, so be it. She made it into the village, and all was quiet as usual. Most of the families were in their homes having dinner or cleaning up after eating. The sun was blinding bright in front of her on the horizon, but her hearing was unaffected. She could hear them gaining on her and knew that she wouldn't make it home untouched.

Her blue gaze darted right and left helplessly. Up ahead was a large barn. It wasn't absolute safety, but it was unlikely the culprits would do anything to her on someone's property or while she could see them. She made a quick change of direction, stopping only when she reached the door. She fumbled with the catch for a breathless moment, but soon found herself in the cool shadows of the building. Therese nearly sighed with relief when her breath was caught in her throat.

"What are you doing here?"

She turned slowly and found herself looking up into the frowning face of Adeon. Her mouth opened to respond, yet she caught herself before explaining just why she'd run to the safety of his barn. She was not going to be an inconvenience to anyone beyond what she already was. Her eyes hardened and she set her jaw.

"I was returning from my evening walk and thought to step out of the sun for a moment. The setting is too bright for my eyes. I did not mean to intrude." She turned to leave, internally preparing herself for whatever horrible trick awaited her beyond his door.
Love is everything it's cracked up to be…
It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
For my kingdom I am strong.
For my heart I am his.
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Postby Adeon » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:51 am

Adeon knew exactly why Kana was standing breathless inside his boss's barn, but he wanted to see her squirm while trying to explain the mysterious attacks. Unfortunately, she wasn't giving him the pleasure. Instead she showed iron strength and determination he hadn't expected from such a delicate little thing, so when she turned to leave, he found himself doing the unthinkable.

"Wait," she turned to face him, her puzzlement as plain as he was sure his own was. For a moment he stood in silence trying to figure out just what he'd had in mind stopping her like that, then he remembered the maid in front of him and the boys waiting beyond the barn door. "I'm sorry. I've been rude to you since you got here." She turned to face him fully, her strange blue eyes boring into his own. "It's just that your timing...well Cassie and I...we're..." Kana blushed, averting her eyes briefly and so did he. Adeon took a quick deep breath and composed his thoughts a bit more. "We're courting, and ever since you showed up, I haven't been able to get near her without her wanting to bring you along." He nervously ran his fingers through his mop of hair.

"I never wanted to be a bother." Her voice had shifted back to the uncertain quiet Kana he'd seen for a month, causing him to frown slightly. The sun had dropped low enough on the horizon that the light in the barn was far too poor for him to see her clearly, but he imagined that her posture had changed as well.

"Come on. Let's get out of the barn. I'll walk you back to Cassie's." Adeon had to keep from choking on the words. He'd never have guessed that he would play escort to protect her from the boys, but obviously she was stronger than he'd given her credit for being. If pranks wouldn't work, then he would likely have to just wait it out. Cassie would be more likely to be friendly towards him again if he at least tried to be nice. He nodded to himself as he led the girl out the other side of the barn.

She walked alongside him, but not very close, keeping her eyes downcast. He occasionally glanced at her, looking for something that would explain her behavior and existance. They were nearly to the farmhouse when he finally broke the silence.

"Why are you here anyway?" When she looked up at him questioningly, the farmhand could have sworn he saw a flicker of something behind her eyes. It wasn't quite fear, but it was enough for him to question what she was doing in the village. His eyes narrowed in suspicion when she didn't answer immediately. They stopped outside the front door, but he stood between her and that easy escape, waiting on some sort of response.

"I don't have anywhere else to go." In spite of himself, he had to acknowledge the ring of truth in her words, and he let her pass. Adeon stood outside the house for a long while thinking over the implications of what he'd seen this eve. Kana was hiding something, and if she was going to live under the same roof as Cassie, he was going to find out what she secrets she was keeping. He stepped out onto the streets, taking a few turns until he met up with the village boys.

"Pranks are off guys. This one won't crack that way. I'll have to work something else out."
Above you is the sun and sky. Below you, the ground.
Like the sun, your love should be constant, like the ground, solid.
For my love, I could never leave her.
For my life, how I hate her.
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Postby Therese » Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:44 pm

"So whoever it was is leaving you alone now?" Cassie peered at Kana over the fence that separated the animal pens as they went about their chores, feeding and watering the farm's various creatures.

"It seems that way." Kana dumped a load of slop into the feeding trough for the pigs. "They probably tired of their tricks when they realized that they weren't gaining anything from them." 'Or Adeon told them to stop.' Kana hadn't mentioned her suspicions concerning who had orchestrated the pranks to her friend, but she did not fail to notice that they had stopped abruptly after the farmhand had walked her home, apologizing for his rude behavior. She saw no reason to accuse him, however, since it would accomplish nothing other than a fight between the two lovebirds. He had obviously suffered a change of heart, and she was not one to begrudge a good turn of fate. The last prank had been a month ago, and she was glad of it.

"So, when do you plan to sneak off with Adeon? I know he's been itching to get you alone." That was of course an understatement, but she was certain Cassie knew just how much the man had been pining for her.

"Don't be silly, Kana!" The maid laughed heartily and dumped another bucket of feed for the sheep in whose pen she stood. "I wouldn't dream of leaving you here alone and wandering off with him." Kana stared at Cassie, her blue eyes plainly showing her confusion.

"You know I don't mind being alone. I go on walks every night without you. It would be no different if you were to run off to spend time with him." She exited to pig pen and stood outside the sheep's enclosure waiting for Cassie to explain herself. She knew just how smitten Adeon was, and she had been certain that Cassie would be just as eager as he to have alone time. Something was up.

"Actually, I just don't really want to be alone with him." Kana frowned slightly and opened the pen's gate for her friend.

"Why not? I thought the two of you were in love." Kana frowned even more when her comment sent Cassie into another fit of laughter.

"Oh dear me no! I only agreed to court him because he's handsome and he'd make Thomas jealous." Her eyes glinted with a sly gleam that made the normally winsome maid's face anything but attractive. Never had Cassie seemed anything other than innocent and kind, and this change in demeanor was a sharp contrast to what Kana had come to expect. Thomas was a blacksmith from a nearby village who came to town to do work occasionally since their own blacksmith was aging and couldn't keep up with the demand for his art. The dark young man had seemed rather uncouth the way he leered at any of the women, elligible or otherwise, as they passed the smithy.

"Thomas? But he's so...so..."

"Rugged? Handsome? Fierce?" Cassie chimed in with a dreamy air to her voice.

"I was going to say slimy and creepy. He reminds me of a man I used to know." Duke Bristol had been much like Thomas in his treatment of women, though the duke's name didn't come to mind so much as Kana's memory of how she felt dealing with him. In any event, Cassie seemed unimpressed with Kana's assessment. "Shouldn't you be honest with Adeon though? Even if you don't love him, he's lost his heart to you, and you owe him that courtesy."

"I owe him nothing. He's lucky enough for getting to court me." Cassie tossed her dark curls over her shoulders with a quick shake of her head. "Besides, he'll know soon enough. Thomas has agreed to sneak me out of town on his next visit. Adeon will have to deal with it then."

"Not if I have anything to say about it. You may be cruel enough to let him suffer, but I'm not."

"I won't suffer." Cassie and Kana both turned to where the farmhand was standing, their faces a mixture of surprise and fear. His gray eyes flashed with anger and embarassment. "Consider yourself free of me, Cassie." He turned and walked away.

"Wait! No one leaves me like that!" Cassie moved to follow him, her voice ringing with disdain, but Kana stopped her.

"You deserve far worse than he's given you. Deal with it and be grateful." Cassie's mouth hung open in surprise as the blonde maid left her standing with the animals and wandered off to the forest for her nightly walk. Kana's eyes were hard and cold like she'd never seen before, and a backbone was the last thing she'd expected from the quiet woman who had been her guest for two months.
Love is everything it's cracked up to be…
It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
For my kingdom I am strong.
For my heart I am his.
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Postby Adeon » Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:12 pm

He had expected it to hurt, but the pain in his chest was not like anything he'd experienced before, except perhaps a pair of hooves slamming into his ribs. More than anything, Adeon was angry with himself. How could he have not noticed that Cassie had been playing him for a fool? How could have have been so blind as to miss the cruelty her pretty face hid? His face still felt hot from the strength of his emotions, but it was cooling quickly in the dusky shadows of the forest.

"I can't believe I was such an idiot!" He kicked a stone through the bushes towards the stream that passed nearest the village, wishing that he could vent his frustrations in a better way.

"She had us all fooled I fear." Adeon jumped and turned to where Kana stood. He hadn't heard her passage through the underbrush at all, and she was the last person he expected to have any skills in woodcraft. She had surprised him so many times in the past month that he'd begun thinking that he knew all there was to know about the strange maid, but it seemed he was wrong. "I think her parents were as surprised by her sudden change of heart as the rest of us." Her voice held a strange edge to it that led him to believe that Cassie hadn't been the one to alert her family. The farmhand took grim satisfaction in knowing that Cassie's father was likely going to try to lock his wayward daughter in her room for the rest of her years, but it didn't heal the ache in his heart.

"Was today the first she spoke of her...feelings for Thomas?" He tried to keep the pain from cracking his voice, but was unsuccessful. Adeon wished he could see into Kana's eyes from this distance. He wanted nothing other than the truth from her, no matter how much it hurt, and he feared she would try to spare him.

"Yes. If I'd heard anything of him sooner, you would have found out about her intentions in a different manner." The farmhand wasn't sure, but he thought her heard a hint of frustration in the maid's voice that he hadn't expected. His gray eyes narrowed as he tried to pierce the shadows that lay between them to determine if she was putting on an act. Her head was lowered and her entire body spoke of disappointment. "You didn't deserve the treatment she gave you, not after the devotion you displayed." As much as he wanted to find fault with her, Kana's words rang true to Adeon. She had no reason to lie to him either, in spite of the rough start they'd had. Just remembering how he'd treated her in an attempt to gain more time with the backstabbing wench he'd been courting made him cringe, but he shook those thoughts aside. He couldn't handle guilt on top of the other things he was feeling.

"I just figured I'd found the woman I was gonna marry. I thought I'd found love and I'd live my life the way it was supposed to be." Adeon glanced up at Kana nervously, still expecting her to laugh at him for his simple notions. Instead, she moved closer to him and put her hand on his arm in a show of support. "Was that silly of me?" A stray ray of light broke the canopy and fell across her face, making her cool blue eyes sparkle strangely. He found himself wishing he did know more about Kana, because in those eyes he saw so much pain and secrecy that mirrored his own, and he knew that he should offer her the same kindness she was giving him.

"No, Adeon. That wasn't silly at all." He nodded to himself, feeling marginally better than when had charged off into the woods in the first place and moved his hand to cover hers on his arm. She started at the touch, but relaxed with a smile when he gave her hand a quick squeeze of thanks. He returned the smile weakly and looked out through the trees. Only then did he realize how late in the day it was.

"Oh no! I need to get back to work. I was only given a couple of hours free time." He turned to run out of the forest and then stopped. Adeon's eyes sought Kana's and he offered her a shy smile. "Thank you, Kana." Before she could respond, he dashed towards the village.
Above you is the sun and sky. Below you, the ground.
Like the sun, your love should be constant, like the ground, solid.
For my love, I could never leave her.
For my life, how I hate her.
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Re: And in the End... (RP)

Postby Therese » Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:24 pm

The next couple of weeks were an awkward reversal of her first month living in the remote village. Kana found that Adeon was willing to speak to her and frequently found him waiting for her in the woods when she went for her evening walks. Cassie, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with her 'betrayer' and wasn't even looking at her when they passed in the hallways of her home. Oddly, many of the other village maids seemed to mirror Cassie's sentiments about the new girl, leaving her only males for companions. In truth, she didn't mind. The women's narrow view of adventure and romance left her feeling alternately jaded and naïve.

"I really don't know how you fell so desperately in love with a mind like that," she said one cool afternoon as she and Adeon walked under the trees. Adeon had been unburdening himself as he often did when they were alone. It was almost as if he was trying to purge every last bit of his emotional ties to Cassie in a verbal rush. Kana understood, but found every new piece of information about her hostess distasteful.

"I'm not sure what you mean." His brow wrinkled in obvious confusion as he turned to look directly at her and sat on an old fallen log. She schooled her face into as kind an expression as she could to spare him some of the pain of her honest opinion and took a seat opposite him on a large rock. He was, she had to remind herself, a simple man with simple hopes and dreams born of a life lived far from the two-faced politics of court. If she were truly honest with herself as well, she would admit that Therese had similarly simple hopes and dreams herself, but Kana felt far removed from that woman, and she wasn't ready to face her own naivete.

"How did you let yourself become blind to her obvious lack of interest? If what you've been telling me is true, then she's been giving you the cold shoulder for months, at least two months prior to my arrival in town." She saw the beginnings of withdrawal in his eyes and took steps to bridge the gap she knew she had to create. "I am by no means trying to call you a fool. I'm just trying to understand how a good man fell for a devious woman." He didn't answer her. Instead his gaze just fell to where his hands fidgeted in his lap. Kana silently cursed her blunt speech and moved to her feet. "I hope that I have not offended you, Adeon. I merely sought to help a friend get past a painful memory." She turned to leave him to his thoughts when he finally spoke up.

"I'm not offended, Kana. I'm just puzzled by how one such as yourself could be so ignorant when it comes to love." She refrained from turning to face him, afraid to let him see how his words had stung her. "Every wise person in all the land will tell you that love is blind." She took a deep breath and took care to keep control of the emotion in her voice.

"Every wise person except the one I knew..." Her voice could barely be heard above the wind as she walked away from Adeon.

"...the one who told me not to bother with love."
Love is everything it's cracked up to be…
It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
For my kingdom I am strong.
For my heart I am his.
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Re: And in the End... (RP)

Postby Malik » Sat Mar 15, 2008 4:57 pm

I must admit that I had been guilty of attempting to train her to believe just that. It may have been one of my single greatest mistakes. I have often wondered if my own follies hastened what would come. Did I doom us all in my attempts to strengthen our hold on a future that I feared would never come? I suppose I must be grateful to whatever fate watches over our fumbling attempts at control and re-orders things as they should be. Therese was, while affected by my words, still a stubborn dreamer. That trait alone made her a great queen, one of our kingdom's strongest and most loved.

I cannot help but smile thinking about how in the end, she was right in so many ways.

While she and Adeon were becoming closer friends, I was working franticly to hone my skills at Seeing things to come. I knew enough to realize that my vision was limited by the many paths that life could take, but I was seeing so many paths already; I didn't understand why my vision was stopped by a deep, impenetrable darkness. Puzzled, I kept pushing myself harder. I became so caught up in my studies, I lost track of time..and of my queen. Little by little Therese was becoming Kana. Her thoughts rarely deviated from the life of a village maiden, and her life as royalty seemed more a flight of fancy than actual memories. I had foreseen this possibility, but discounted it based on my knowledge of Therese, and my belief that it would have little importance since it didn't seem to affect the general outcome of events greatly. I suppose I could have warned her of it, though I must say I'm almost glad I didn't.

Adeon I cannot truly fathom, even now. I never took much notice of him on my visits to the border village prior to hiding Therese there. He was just another farmhand, perhaps more solemn and distant than most, but not wholely remarkable. In retrospect, perhaps my initial impression of him wasn't completely fair. As the months wore on, he displayed a tenderness and openness to Kana that no one would have guessed he was capable of showing.
Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again.
Wisely improve the present. It is thine.
Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.
For their sake, the end must not come too soon.
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Re: And in the End... (RP)

Postby Adeon » Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:11 pm

Adeon worked harder than usual to finish up his work on the farm. Over the past month, he'd developed the habit of spending three or four afternoons and evenings under the canopy of the forest trees. Frequently when he did so, Kana would join him, but there were times enough that he spent the time alone, listening to the water of the brook and the wind in the trees. Little by little he was beginning to understand the strange maiden. He certainly understood why she liked to spend her time away from the village. She almost didn't seem to belong in a place like this. He knew that she did her fair share of the farm chores without complaint, but still it didn't seem right that she be stuck in a backwater hamlet like theirs.

He finished milking the last cow and began hurrying through the clean-up. He was so engrossed in completing his final task that he didn't hear his boss, who happened to also be his uncle, enter the barn.

"Where's the fire, lad?" His uncle's gruff voice startled him such that he dropped the pail he'd been washing. Adeon turned to see Uncle Ferris leaning ni the barn doorway with a gleam of humor in his eyes. He couldn't help but cringe inwardly thinking that he'd get an earful for rushing his duties and probably botching a job or two.

"Sorry, boss," he said, leaning over to pick up the pail. He forced himself to move slower and wash it carefully since Uncle Ferris saw fit to stay there and watch him. "I suppose there's no call for me to be in any hurry."

"True enough." Adeon heard his uncle lean a little to spit and put the pail down next to others he'd washed, inspecting his prior work to make sure he'd not missed any milk spots. "Unless you're interested in meeting that pretty young thing in the woods again." His hands faltered as they moved along the drying table, but he chose not to look up.

"I go in the woods to have some time alone, Uncle Ferris." On the one hand he was glad he was talking to his uncle, and not his boss, but on the other hand, Uncle Ferris had picked a topic he'd rather have ignored.

"Sure you do. It's just coincidence that you're either following her or only a few minutes ahead."

"It is. We've certainly never arranged anything."

"Perhaps she hasn't, but you have, and it's startin' to show to everyone around here." Adeon frowned in confusion and felt the first touch of fear.

"Do you think she's noticed? I--" The twitch in his uncle's lips made Adeon pause. "It's not really that obvious. You just wanted me to confess something."

"Well you certainly wouldn't do it on your own. You're a stubborn lad, Adeon." Ferris finally moved into the barn to join his nephew and began helping put away the rest of the tools. "Now, you want a piece of advice from a dusty old man?" He waited for Adeon's affirmative nod before continuing. "You two are closer than peas in a pod these days, and it's apparent to anyone who knows you that you're happier with this lass than you were with that last one."

"That wouldn't take much." Ferris raised an eyebrow at Adeon and shook his head.

"You need to declare your intentions...assuming you have any."

"I don't know what they are, to be honest. I just think she's the most interesting woman in this village. She's certainly the most...real. Anyhow, who would I declare them to? She has no family or guardian here."

"Hmph. You declare them to her of course." Adeon smiled nervously as his uncle looked out the doors. "You better head out there if you're gonna do it today."

"Oh!" Adeon dashed outside yelling over his shoulder. "Thanks Uncle Ferris!"
Above you is the sun and sky. Below you, the ground.
Like the sun, your love should be constant, like the ground, solid.
For my love, I could never leave her.
For my life, how I hate her.
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