What's new

Fantasy All's Fair

Sub Genres
LGTBQ, Magical, Romance

Conifer

New Member
The dampness that drenched every inch of Athea was, usually, more of an annoyance than a comfort - but today, Remin Verrant found the grey clouds that hung heavy over the land more appropriate than the sun that anyone attending the ceremony had been hoping for.
It wasn’t the ceremony that was the issue, not really; Remin’d known for as long as she’d known anything that she’d be roped into a political marriage eventually. If the pressure of being the only child of the king and queen wasn’t reassurance enough of that, the divinationists and augurs and soothsayers that her mother sent for over the years had confirmed it (in varying states of detail or accuracy.) She’d long made her peace with that part of her duty. Maybe, at least, he might be tolerable. That had been her hope.


Except then Athea was dragged into a war. It had lasted, frankly, too long, especially for as small a country as Athea was; there was no chance of them winning, not against Epriunia. They weren’t suited for wars of swords and horses. Words and subtlety, maybe, but they just didn’t have enough people for true war, never mind those that knew how to wield a weapon. That’s not to say that Athea was weak. It’s just to say that, well, Athea’s weak now. Weak and conquered and reeling and feeling dizzy with the change, and Remin feels it echoed so deeply in her bones. They’d asked for peace, (begged for it, nearly,) and they’d got it, with a catch. When Remin had envisioned her eventual husband, it was some unassuming noble from an outlying land, who was nice enough, and kind enough, and busy enough that she could go on living a life mostly of her own. It wasn’t a war hero from the country that had chewed them up and spit them out and then had asked for dessert. She’d envisioned that she’d be the link in a chain that connected two powerful houses; not a bargaining chip tossed in at the last minute. It wasn’t Avther’s fault. It wasn’t, it really wasn’t - as far as she’d heard, at least, - but that didn’t make it any easier to look at him. To call him her husband. To know that this was her future.


The ceremony was, at the very least, over quickly. Or maybe it wasn’t - it was all a blur of nerves before, and dread during, and now, as Remin slipped out into the hallway, some form of twisted relief. Guests were still dancing and eating, the musicians were still playing, her husband still...well. Somewhere. She hadn’t made it a point to keep track. Maybe still back at the table, or roped into chatting with dignitaries. It didn’t matter. She just needed some time to breathe, so she’d left, and hoped she wouldn’t be noticed (and if she had been, hoping that she wouldn’t be found in the small office she made her way into.) Remin shut the door behind her and sank to the ground against it. Her dress - soft and made of far too much fabric, though less detailed was traditional (war and quick weddings made that a necessity) - pooled around her, as grey and as heavy as the clouds that threatened rain outside the castle.
 

Aerynth

New Member
Like many women, Cyreia too used to fantasize about her wedding when she had been a girl. The scenario had never been constant, her mind always offering new and new twists to keep the fantasy fresh, but not even her wildest fantasies compared to reality. For one, she had never expected to marry a princess. Even if she had dared to dream of something so preposterous, Cyreia would never have expected to become her husband. To be quite honest, it still hadn't sunk in. Royal musicians with their strange instruments were playing sweet melodies, the tables were full of foreign delicacies and the room was alive with chatter, but it all seemed so unreal. Here she was, surrounded by people who had been her sworn enemies mere months ago, and they were toasting her marriage. I wonder, Cyreia thought as she raised a glass of wine to her lips, how many of those present lost their relatives to our armies. How many of them would love to sink a dagger in my chest. If there was any resentment, they hid it well, though she still felt curious eyes following her every move. A lot of them were following her with badly disguised bafflement. Cyreia didn't blame them; she could imagine how bizarre she must have looked to them.

When they had learned of the hero of Epriunia, the one who had saved the life of their king during the fiercest battle, they probably hadn't expected him to look like... well, her. The new king was more lean than muscular and shorter than most men who had come to swear him loyalty. With olive skin, short black hair, large green eyes, pronounced lips and sharp features, he could probably be considered handsome by many, but there was something deeply foreign about him; something that went beyond his nationality.

As a result, people kept their distance. While many of them spoke to her, they only exchanged basic pleasantries, their conversation never touching anything of substance. It was exactly the kind of social dance she hated with passion and for the first time in a long while, Cyreia felt utterly alone. If only she could go home! Except that I am home. This is the only home I will ever have now. The thought felt so heavy against her chest that she almost couldn't breathe for a second. Deep inside, Cyreia knew that she couldn't afford to grieve for long. The king had entrusted this realm to her because he believed in her, so she would not fail him. There was a lot of work to be done, a lot of skills to be learned. Still, she felt that she should allow herself some time to mourn the loss of her old life. Why not now when the wounds were still fresh?

The presence of so many people began to feel downright suffocating. Deciding that this opportunity was as good as any, Cyreia quietly left her place at the table. A walk was what she needed now to clear her head. Riding a horse would be even better, but this would have to do. She wasn't irresponsible enough to leave the castle on a whim. And that is exactly my problem. If I were slightly more irresponsible, I would not receive a reward of this caliber. Not really paying attention to her surroundings, Cyreia opened a door that emerged in her way. To her surprise, Remin was there, huddled on the floor. A wave of guilt washed over her. She had spent the entire evening feeling sorry for herself and hadn't given a single thought to Remin's plight. The idea of being married off to a stranger known mainly for his almost unparalleled ability to hurt other people was stomach-churning. Cyreia could sympathize.

"I... My queen. Do you feel unwell?" Of course she does. What a stupid question. Cyreia bit her lip, not really knowing what to do. "Do you require my assistance? I can accompany you to your room, should you wish so."
 

Conifer

New Member
My queen, he says, and she can’t tell if he’s trying to honor her or claim her but it makes her stomach twist all the same. Gods, old and new- there was no peace, even here. Had he followed her? Had he watched her go and felt it his right to follow? Or had he just been looking for a moment without eyes, as well? (It was hard to remember that they were enemies, and it was harder to remember that they weren’t.)
Remin straightened her posture, but there really wasn’t a way to look proper while collapsed in a heap of dress and dust. Yes, she wants to say. I feel incredibly ill. I feel like I just married destruction personified. I feel like I just married the demon that plagued our nightmares for years. “--No, that’s quite alright,” She says instead, trying to sound sturdy and surely sounding anything but. “I’m perfectly well.” Her peace is over. She drags herself to her feet, a gloved hand reaching out for the cold stone of the wall to support her as she stands, and then she pulls where that glove’s slumped to her wrist back over tanned skin. “Your offer is appreciated, though,” She adds as she adjusts the fabric, all formality and careful intonation. There’s no mirror here, but there is a window - Remin peers into the glass of it, analyzing her reflection. Her hair - deep brown, a color she hated when she was a child, when the only comparison to it she’d had was dirt, damp with rain, but had grown to be fond of - wasn’t as nicely curled as it had been this morning, but...Well, little she could do about that, besides smooth out a few stray strands. Her grey eyes and the bits of makeup they’d swiped across her face still complimented her dress nicely; they too looked a little worse for wear, but nothing anyone would really notice. She felt scared, and tired, but thankfully, that didn’t translate into her strong features. She just looked...like a doll shoved into a wedding dress. Remin swipes a bit of dust off her collar, and turns back the soldier at her back. He didn’t singlehandedly start the war, or even end it. He was a soldier, not a demon, dragged into it just the same as anyone else. (Or, at least, she hoped.) “My lack of presence has been noticed, then?”
 

Aerynth

New Member
Cyreia could swear that the temperature in the room dropped the second Remin opened her mouth. The queen might have looked vulnerable at the beginning, almost on the verge of tears, but the initial softness was quickly replaced with steel. Steel that was doubtlessly reserved for enemies. She couldn't help but feel slightly impressed despite herself. Each battle, as experience had taught her, began in your mind. Judging by how quickly this woman got her emotions under control, she couldn't be of feeble character. Cyreia looked away as Remin got up; a pitiful attempt to grant her a semblance of privacy for her moment of weakness. There was an impulse to help her on her feet - a common courtesy - but she resisted it. Something told her that Remin would not appreciate the sentiment in this situation.

"I see. It is good that you aren't ill," Cyreia replied, immediately feeling stupid for her response. Conversation had never been her strong suit; she wielded a sword as a weapon, not her tongue, but even she could tell that her words rang hollow, mostly because it was clear as a day that Remin was not all right. But what was she to do? Bring attention to her discomfort? That didn't seem right. Had she spent more time talking with people instead of devising strategies, she might have been able to react in a more appropriate manner, but alas, that was not the case.

"Ah, no, or at least I don't think so. I wandered here by accident," she waved her hand, the tone of her voice uncertain. Unlike Remin, Cyreia decidedly did not look regal; she almost looked like a child that had been caught red-handed while committing a misdeed. "There were too many people there. That is to be expected, of course, but I needed some reprieve." Why do I feel so uncomfortable? Perhaps because of the guilt? "Not that I'm complaining about your hospitality, but it can be too much at times." And why do I feel like I'm digging my grave deeper with every single word? Cyreia ran her hand through her hair and smiled, or at least attempted to. "Well, do you wish to return, my queen? Or do we go to sleep? I have to admit that I do not know much about your wedding rites."
 

Conifer

New Member
“You’re free to do whatever you wish.” She runs her thumb against her own wrist, feeling the texture of her gloves catch and pull and slip against each other, but she abandons that quickly to smooth out her skirt and look back towards the window, pretending to inspect her reflection again. Her eyes, instead, lingered on the ghost of Avther that also held a place in the glass. “They’ll continue for another hour or two, or until the musicians get tired of playing. There’s not much else that we’re expected to do for the rest of the evening. It’s a bit too early for us to leave entirely, but-” She falters, shoulders dipping, lungs pressing themselves empty in a moment of weakness she allows herself to have and to show. “- I honestly don’t really have it in me to return yet.”

She liked weddings, once. She liked parties, and balls, and all those excuses to dress up and socialize. Remin rather thinks those are kind of ruined for her now, at least for a little bit. The first one she’s been to since before they’d been devoted to war, and it turns her off them entirely - that’s not fair. (None of it, she thinks, is fair.) “We’d be noticed, missing, but- it’s fine. Probably.”
 

Aerynth

New Member
Oh well, at least Remin didn't seize opportunity to make fun of her conversational missteps. Cyreia did feel thankful for that, even if her "do whatever you want" wasn't very helpful. If I was free to do whatever I wished, I wouldn't be here. It took all she had to suppress the petulant reply from escaping her lips, but the effort paid off. This isn't her fault. Moreover, I should avoid antagonizing her more than necessary. Even if hoping that the queen might become her ally was probably naive, she could at least try to avoid turning her into an enemy. It wasn't like she needed more enemies in this country, especially since they were supposed to rule together. The idea of ruling still felt too abstract, but it would all become very real to her soon. Uncomfortably real. No, I won't think about it now. I want to be free for one more day, or at least as free is I can be.

"I understand," she nodded, relief written all over her features. "I have no wish to return, either." It may have been too early, but Cyreia didn't feel inclined to care. She was a king now and her subjects could hardly criticize her for wanting to rest after a long journey from Epriunia. "I think I would prefer to rest. I'm tired and I'm not the most charming companion when I am tired." Most people probably wouldn't consider her to be a charming companion even when well-rested, but Cyreia didn't feel like expanding upon that now. "Would you be so kind to show me the way to my room? I'm afraid that I don't know this castle very well yet."
 

Conifer

New Member
Remin wasn’t confident enough to guess that she’d consider the man a charming companion even when it hadn’t been a long day, but- well, maybe that was being a bit too unfair. She didn’t know him. She could tell he wasn’t raised like she’d been, but there wasn’t anything wrong with that. It might be refreshing, eventually, to talk to someone more plainly. If they ever got to the point where they could talk plainly. It’ll be a very long relationship if we don’t.


She leads him out of the office and up the stairs without much more than a nod, avoiding hallways where people may be milling. It’s not long until they’ve reached the bedroom door.
It’s made of a dark heavy wood, decorated with impossibly detailed designs, carved with carefully controlled magic, as most in the house were. The one of her small childhood bedroom, just down the hall, was decorated with small animals with bright, jeweled eyes. This one held the scenes of a forest. Remin pushed the door open, entering the faintly familiar space. She hadn’t spent much time here. At some point, it had been their nicest guest room, but from this night on, it would be their bedroom.

It was thankfully large. A bed took up a portion of one wall, a large fireplace - also carved, though made of stone - took up the wall across from it. Some armchairs sat in front of a large window, and a soft, plain green rug covered the wood of the floor. A pair of wardrobes took up more space, but the room still has an undeniable emptiness to it. It’s nice, of course it is, but it’s plain. She missed her bedroom already; maybe she could get away with sleeping separately when the castle wasn’t filled with guests that were already more than happy to gossip, but...well, for now, this was what they were both stuck with. His belongings had already been brought up and put away into their places, and her own things had been moved over more slowly over the past week. Now, the combination of the two looked nearly out of place.
 

Aerynth

New Member
Wordlessly, Cyreia followed Remin through the endless halls of the castle. Even though she was tired, she made a point of etching the route into her memory. There weren't many things quite as embarrassing as getting lost in your own home. This place is huge. Of course she did know that castles tended to be huge - even in her home country, they towered over all the other buildings - but knowing it was one thing and suddenly living in one was quite another. Who even needs that much space?

Even so, Cyreia had to admit that her new chambers looked more inviting than tents that had provided her shelter for so long. That wasn't a high standard to meet, granted, but life had taught her to accept these small victories. At least I should be able to sleep soundly tonight. That particular hope crumbled the moment it registered to her tired mind that Remin had led her to a room with a double bed. It wasn't her room; it was their room. Athean couples sleep together even outside of love-making?! Privacy was a sacred value of Epriunians - a value so sacred that it allowed her to play her little charade for as long as she had - but Athean ways were apparently different.

"Absolutely not. I will not sleep in the same bed." Even though Cyreia sincerely doubted that Remin would try to explore her body on her own accord, she still had to get undressed for the bed and unbind her chest. The current fashion was kind to her; the heavy, intricate robes of Epriunia disguised her curves well, but without them, Cyreia looked like a woman, plain and simple.

It took her a while to realize that the statement had come out harsher than intended. Harsher than intended and completely ridiculous. What kind of husband treated his wife like that? Cyreia sighed and looked at the ground, avoiding Remin's eyes. "I, uh, I apologize. What I meant to say is that..." Well? What brilliant excuse should I present to her? "You probably shouldn't sleep in the same bed as me. I thrash and take up a lot of space. I believe that I could hurt you," she lied through her teeth, feeling more and more idiotic with each passing second. Hopefully she will be too happy with my decision to question it too much. "I think it would be advisable to sleep separately. In the meantime..." Cyreia took one pillow and blanket, threw them on the ground unceremoniously and lay down.

"I shall sleep on the floor. I've slept in worse conditions, trust me. It is quite comfortable." It really wasn't, especially since she hadn't had the chance to disrobe, but this wasn't a permanent arrangement. One night she could manage.

Exhaustion made it difficult for her to keep her eyes open at this point, but Cyreia still felt that it would be wrong to go sleep just like that. She should probably talk to Remin some more to ease some of her fears. They were alone, after all, and surely nobody would dare to disrupt them in their own bedroom. Now was the time for some sincerity!

"My queen," she started hesitantly, "let me be frank with you. I am only here to fulfill my duty and, well, my duty doesn't include imposing on you. You do not have to trust me, but I have no desire to do so. You shall have all the freedom you desire, in all areas of life. I ask but one thing of you; teach me your ways so that I don't fail your people." They may have been her enemies not too long ago, but her orders were absolute. Athea was to prosper under Epriunian rule. Certain reforms would be necessary to turn them into true subjects of Epriunia, or at least Cyreia suspected as much, but she had to understand how the country worked first.
 
Last edited:

Conifer

New Member
Remin just...stared, as Avther floundered for words, hit with whiplash that left her breathless. She was - grateful and infuriated all at once, and it was a strange departure from the resignation she had been feeling as they’d made their ways through the passageways in silent companionship. Maybe, she’d foolishly thought then, this can be managed.
And then he’d seemed so- violently opposed to sharing any amount of space with her, which she’d be admittedly grateful for if it wasn’t for how it made her skin crawl.
Now, the only thought left in her head was Are all Elpurians this terrible of liars?
She watches him dump bedding gracelessly onto the ground, lips pressed together in an uncomfortable line. She’s quiet as he settles down, still in the clothes from their ceremony, only speaking a few beats after his request. There’s enough time between their words that the silence hangs heavy between them, noticeable and stifling, and in it, she carefully remove her gloves and sets them on the bed as she watches him.

“My king,” She says carefully, when she does speak, layering the words with as much disdain as she can as if those two words could point out the ridiculousness of the situation alone (you are a king and you are lying on the floor like a kicked dog.) “I’d appreciate it if you dropped the pretense. It is--” She pauses, searching for whatever word seems appropriate, and in that moment, sits on the edge of their bed and begins to take the pins from her hair (when she was young and foolish, she’d imagined her hands would be her partners, treating her with tenderness.) “--justifiable that you find this arrangement difficult, gods know I’ve heard enough of what your people call mine to know the general opinion of us, but there’s no need to spare my pride. That’s already quite long gone. You don’t need to tell me stories of bed-based potential injury. If you really find me so unfortunate to not want to share a bed with me, far be it from me to stop you.” She winces as a pin pulls at strands of hair, and she only pulls it out quicker. “As for your request,” Remin shakes her hair loose, running bare fingers through the soft curls, “you’ve already failed my people. Nothing I can teach you can bring back their lands, coin, harvests lost feeding soldiers. Nothing you learn can bring back their parents and children and cousins. But I’ll teach you so that you don’t make a fool of what we gave up to lose this war with dignity.”
 

Aerynth

New Member
If words could kill, Cyreia would probably be lying dead on the floor by now. Well, this is going splendidly. Not that she had expected Remin to kiss her feet for this small expression of mercy; she was a royal, after all, and these people didn't take well to being offered crumbs. Still, outright hostility wasn't something she expected to encounter while extending the olive branch. Not that this is not my fault. If I had a better excuse, maybe she'd react better. But it wasn't really about that, either. While she may have hurt Remin's pride with her fumbling, the excuse really wasn't the core issue here. The core issue was them taking her country with swords and blood, and no amount of excuses could fix that. She chose to remain silent when the queen came to the conclusion that she had been deemed unattractive; even if she was actually quite beautiful in Cyreia's eyes now that she got a good look, it was probably better to let her think that. At least her secret would stay safe.

Her little speech about the state of Athea did get a reaction out of her, though. Even if Cyreia understood her emotions to a degree, something about Remin's words irked her. Perhaps the definiteness of her condemnation?

"Such is the way of this world, my queen. I am - or was - a mere soldier. I do not know many things, but what I do know for sure is that people forget terrible atrocities with surprising ease," she said as she watched the queen, a strange fire in her green eyes. "They have to, otherwise they wouldn't survive. World history? It's a string of conquests, one upon another, each bloodier and more brutal than the one before it. Your people may be devastated now and it is true that I cannot return what has been taken away from them, but they will thrive soon. I will take care of it. You may not trust me and that would be quite understandable, but that is what I aim to do." The awkwardness of her earlier statements was nowhere to be found now; for the first time since they had spoken together, Cyreia sounded resolute. Like someone who know what they were doing; like a king. The truth was that she didn't know what she was doing at all, but that had never been an insurmountable obstacle before. Knowledge could be acquired with enough determination.

"If it is not too much to ask, I would like to get to know Athea before my rule begins officially. I want to meet your people and speak with them, to see with my own eyes what has become of this land." To face them after what we've done to them. Cyreia did believe that the task her king had given her could be accomplished, but there had to be penance first. She had to accept the responsibility; nobody else could do it for her.
 

Conifer

New Member
Remin swallows hard, fighting back her initial instincts to raise her voice against him. She couldn’t control a lot, especially now, but she could control how this moment, and how she fought for her people. The war was over, yes, but that didn’t mean that she just had to lie down and accept more injustices. It was her duty, now that [] had forced her parents to step down and her to take their place, and she was going to do what she had in her power to do it right. Athea deserved better than words said without thought or intention, and so-- so she took a breath and let it out slowly. “Many don’t survive.” She says, plainly, before beginning to work the bindings of her dress free, pulling at various ribbons to loosen the cloth. “And people don’t forget. People are forgotten in attempts to forget the atrocities.”


Remin was quiet again as she worked herself free of her dress, letting it collapse onto the floor in a heap of grey once and leaving her in her shift, which would suffice enough to sleep in. It wasn’t immodest, and it was far more comfortable than heaps of fabric, even if Athean fashions were generally comfortable. It wasn’t until she scooped the dress up off the ground, to hang it against a chair to be dealt with properly in the morning, that she said anything again, but instead of the determination she’d been relying on her voice to be filled with, she just sounded- well. She sounded like it had been a very, very long day. “A tour of the country would be appropriate.” Remin agrees, crawling into bed. “We can set to planning in the morning.”
 

Aerynth

New Member
Cyreia could see how difficult it was for Remin to control herself, but just like when she had found her in that abandoned room earlier, the queen managed it in the end. Her resolve, too, was nothing to sneeze at. "Yes, many do not survive," she nodded her head slowly, "such is the nature of war. People fight and lives are lost. But the ones that do survive? They always move on eventually." I did in my time, too. What would Remin even know about this, anyway? Her situation right now was... undesirable to say the least, but she had probably spent her entire life protected by the castle walls up until this point. What was her little lecture based on? Surely not experience. "And believe me when I say that most of your subjects do not care who their ruler is in the slightest. What they care about is whether they have enough food to fill their stomachs and a place to sleep." A cynical answer and possibly a bitter pill to swallow, but Cyreia still remembered her time among the common folk. The political machinations interested nobody but those involved in them. The aristocracy was often blind to it, too convinced of their own importance, but it was true.

Even though she did believe in her words, guilt reared its ugly head again; she may have been convinced of her own truth, but that didn't make it a nice thing to say, especially to a grieving person. It wasn't like she could apologize, though. Apologizing for opinions would be foolish and a sign of weakness. Apologies were reserved for things one had not meant to do and Cyreia meant every single word.

"I do agree. I am too tired to form a plan anyways." Going to sleep is probably the best thing we can do right now if we don't want to spend the entire night arguing. Cyreia did enjoy a good argument, but not when she was this tired. "Good night, my queen. And thank you for your help." With this, the former soldier closed her eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep.

The morning, as she had predicted, was cruel. Her back was killing her; what was even worse that she had dreamed of Epriunia, her dear home. I need to stop thinking about it like that. It is not my home anymore. It is but a memory. Her old habits kicked in, so she woke up before sunrise. Careful not to wake up Remin, Cyreia left the room quietly. She spent the next hour or so washing herself thoroughly and then changing into fresh clothes; when you had to bind your chest, the mere act of putting clothes on took ages. When she was satisfied with the result, she headed towards the dining room, still sore but at least clean. Damn, I'm hungry. I sure hope that breakfast is ready. It was and, to her pleasant surprise, Cyreia had to admit that Athean cuisine was rather tasty. Some time later, Remin entered as well. Cyreia still felt bad about yesterday, but she did her best to put on a smile. There would be no benefit in dwelling on... well, everything.

"Good morning, my queen. Have you given some thought to the journey I mentioned yesterday? What would be the most sensible route?"
 

Conifer

New Member
Remin fell into sleep quickly once the tense conversation died off, and it was a dreamless sleep, punctuated only by her waking in morning. Avther’s space on the floor was left empty, and when he didn’t return in the few minutes she let herself linger in half-wakefulness, she assumed that he must have woken up much earlier than she did, and was off in the castle somewhere. Remin wasn’t sure if she was grateful to wake up alone or not.

Even if she wasn’t, though, she was grateful for the time and space to ready herself alone. She wasn’t terribly modest, not overly concerned with her husband seeing her in states of undress, but it was much nicer to not have to face those nerves at all, and being able to take the time to prepare herself to interact with him again. Hopefully, with the rest and space they’d had since the night before, their words would be less prone to combat.

She really didn’t want to fight any more than she wanted to go on a trip around the country with him, but she had to admit that it was probably a good idea. If he was going to try to be king, he should at least know Athea outside of battlefields and bloodshed, and while she had half a mind to send him alone just to be rid of him for a few weeks, her being present would probably make that whole trip go a little smoother. Her attendance wasn’t really optional no matter how much she wanted it to be.

“Good morning,” She greeted, when she finally made her way down to breakfast, washed and dressed in much more simple clothing than she’d been the day before. Clothing for occasions tended towards the dramatic, but daywear was deliberate in its simplicity. And far, far more comfortable. “Some,” Remin agrees, as she fills a plate with food. “The coast is nice, this time of year, so we could start to the east, and work our way through some of the towns and cities until we return. Or we could go west, into some of the smaller communities. We’d leave north from here, and hit the capital, either way.”
 

Aerynth

New Member
East or west, that seemed to be their options. What would be the best course of action here? Ideally, Cyreia would have preferred to see everything, but time constraints would not allow that. The country couldn't work too long without a functional government and it wouldn't be wise to mark the beginning of her rule with irresponsibility. It was enough that it had already been marked with bloodshed. No, a shorter journey would have to do. She would get to know the rest of Athea later, but now, a choice had to be made. Cyreia brought a glass to her lips, looking lost in her thoughts.

"Going east would allow us to reach more people, so it looks like the more sensible approach to me." Cities also tended to be hit the hardest in a time of war; armies always needed more food, clothes and gold. All of that could be found in rich cities, conveniently free for those who had little moral inhibitions. If she were to rule these people, Cyreia couldn't close her eyes and pretend that none of it had happened. Quite the opposite. She would have to face her subjects, show them that their anguish was seen and offer a helping hand. Cyreia wasn't naive enough to hope that they would accept her easily - not when the wounds were still fresh - but there would be a time when her actions would be remembered fondly. How did the proverb go? If you want to eat apples, plant trees first?

"Say, my queen, are you a skilled horse rider?" she asked, curiosity apparent in her voice. Remin didn't look like someone used to the discomfort of the sadle, but Cyreia would hate to underestimate her. Who knew, perhaps they did train Athean nobles in this particular art. It was customary in some countries as far as she knew. "Because I believe that we should travel lightly, with few carriages if possible. It wouldn't be tactical to flash your - our - wealth in front of those who struggle to make ends meet." It would also paint targets on their back; pompous parades always attracted attention of unsavory individuals and Cyreia suspected that it would be even worse in a country devastated by a war. Groups of bandits were bound to be roaming the land.
 

Conifer

New Member
Remin stabs at a slice of pinkish fruit, her focus there. She had to admit that she was- a little surprised at how relatively easy the conversation was going, this morning. How his question had seemed genuine, and not made out of doubt of her own abilities. Still, last night’s disagreement left a sour taste in her mouth that even the sweetness of fruit couldn’t entirely wash away, even if that disagreement had been colored by mutual exhaustion and- well. His life had changed yesterday, too. At least she still existed in the country, in the home, that was familiar to her.

“Well enough to travel,” she replies, a little careful in her reply, even with the newfound goodwill. She certainly wouldn’t win any competitions, or really impress anyone, but she knew how to ride well enough for a journey of this scope. “I’m sure we could get by with a carriage or two, if that’s what you think is best, my king. When do you wish to leave? I can discuss the plan with the advisors, and allow them to chart our course- unless you’d like to do it yourself?”
 

Aerynth

New Member
So Remin could ride a horse! That made things significantly easier. "Two carriages shall be enough, then." One to transport the supplies that would be needed during the journey and one for Remin to rest in if she ever got tired or desired some privacy. While riding a horse was like her second nature by now, Cyreia still remembered how painful it had been when her technique still hadn't been perfect. Not making any accommodations for her wife would have been downright cruel.

"As soon as possible. Perhaps tomorrow, if that is feasible." Today would have been even better as Cyreia was feeling rather restless, but she understood that embarking on a journey as a royal wasn't as simple as deciding to do so and going immediately. Kings didn't have such a freedom. "I'd like to meet the advisors if you do not mind, actually. I haven't had the pleasure yet." What were they like? Loyalists of the old monarchy or potential allies? Wise men or incompetents who had climbed the ladder thanks to connections? Cyreia had to know and she had to know quickly. Keeping bad advisors was like nurturing a snake that would bite you one day; king Loran had warned her of this before sending her off to Athea. Beware the advisors, he had said, and Cyreia wasn't the one to ignore good advice.

"Speaking of servants, would you like to take anyone on the journey? A maid to keep you company or a favorite bodyguard?" Feeling adventurous, Cyreia took some of the fruit Remin had been eating and placed the slice in her mouth. The explosion of tastes caught her unprepared. "This is good. What is it? We don't have these in Epriunia."
 
Last edited:

Conifer

New Member
“Ence,” Remin smiles, indulging herself in another bite. “These ones were grown in the orchard nearby - you may have seen it on your way in? They grow on beautiful trees - the leaves are practically gold, and at sunset, gleam just like it.” She trails off, focusing back onto the matter at hand. It wasn’t time for talking about local foliage.

“But-- no, no, I can manage just fine, I think.” The staff of the castle of the past few years had grown a little bare bones. At one point in time, there were a few names she might have suggested to bring along, but...but things change. A lot of things change. She’d escaped the war without as much tragedy as many had faced, and that hardly counted as tragedy. They’d left. They hadn’t hadn’t been lost. Most of the names she’d have reached for left for the war, even- she didn’t know their fates even if she had wanted to bring them. “They’ll want to send us with guards, there’s no escaping that, but there’s no one in particular that I request we bring along. They all do their work well.”

“We can meet with the advisors after breakfast.” Remin agrees. “They’ll be attending the guests that remain from the wedding, so I’m sure they’ll be grateful for the excuse to- well, not do that, for a while.
 

Aerynth

New Member
"Ence," Cyreia repeated, rolling the unfamiliar word on her tongue. What a funny-sounding word! "Ence, ence. Hmm, yes, I will remember that," she looked up from her plate just in time to see Remin's smile. There was something almost magical about the moment and Cyreia returned the smile without thinking; it was her first honest smile since she had left Epriunia. Damn, she really is pretty when she doesn't look like she wants to murder me in my sleep. The thought came to her without her permission, both shocking and inappropriate, and she suppressed it immediately. Nothing good could come of thoughts such as that one. It would probably be better to pretend that it had never occurred to her.

"I do believe that we have nothing to fear with the guards at our disposal," Cyreia nodded. "And my skills as well, should the situation require it." Even though it was probably a horrendous transgression against etiquette, no force on this earth could make her embark on her journey unarmed. The sword had saved her life so many times by now that she had come to view it as a good luck charm of sorts. Without it, Cyreia felt vulnerable, almost naked. Besides, entrusting her safety into the hands of others, no matter how capable they may have been, just seemed strange.

"Right, after the breakfast. Anything else you'd recommend? So many things look tempting, but my stomach isn't boundless," Cyreia smiled. The conversation was flowing well, surprisingly well considering what had happened yesterday, but she wasn't about to complain. Talking to someone about things other than strategy and warfare felt... nice, actually. "Speaking about the guests, I do hope that they weren't too insulted by our sudden departure. Was there anyone I should remember and perhaps talk to before they leave?"
 

Conifer

New Member
She looked over the small spread - fruits, mostly, and a collection of soft bread rolls - the morning meals were light and tended towards sweetness, similar to evening meals, though soups and other warm things were common then, to cut through the evening chill and warm the body. Mid-day meals were the heartiest, full of heavy breads and salty meats, meant to sustain. "Here," Remin points out a few more brightly colored fruits. This is where, strangely, she found comfort- among fruits and flowers, and it reflected in her body language; for the moment, she wasn't the queen she was so focused on being, but just- just a person, sharing food. "This one's a bit more sour, if you like that, and this one's...bitter, but it's nice. It's not to everyone's taste." She seems to catch herself, though, as she snags a bit of the bitter fruit with her fingertips instead of a fork, and that queenhood slides right back into place as she drops it onto her plate to retrieve it once more with a proper utensil. "They'll have smoothed anything over by now," Remin assures the man across from her. "The young couple sneaking out of the party early isn't...well, they'll have made assumptions. It probably does us well to allow them to."
 

Aerynth

New Member
"I shall try everything," Cyreia decided. "Only a coward fears new things. Besides, I doubt that any of it can be worse than rations. I swear that their main purpose is to make you reach the lows so low that even dying seems better in comparison." Yes, she certainly did not miss the food. Still, mentioning it was probably a mistake; it brought back memories. They had been buried under a whole heap of distractions, but they returned in full force now and threatened to overwhelm her. It was terrible most of the time. Terrible. Nothing but fear, exhaustion and hard work. Why did nostalgia grip her heart so strongly, then? Probably because I know no other way to live. I will have to discover it, and fast. Cyreia tried to keep smiling, yet the earlier sincerity was gone. Hopefully Remin wouldn't notice. The queen seemed to be enjoying herself and Cyreia did not wish to spoil her fun.

"The sour stuff? Delicious," she spoke, her mouth still full, and took another bite. Unlike Remin, Cyreia wasn't terribly concerned with table manners; her cutlery remained lying next to her plate, still as pristine as in the moment the servants had laid it on the table. Her hands were, however, stained with various fruit juices now. She licked them shamelessly, savoring the taste.

Then Remin spoke about the assumptions their guests might have made and suddenly everything felt awkward again. "Of course. What else would a newly-married couple do, right? Probably not speak about philosophy, that's for sure. Nor about agriculture." Where did THAT come from? Quick, say something that actually makes sense! "I think that book-binding would not be a popular topic, either."
 

Conifer

New Member
Remin watches the way he eats - it’s hard not to, when he’s sat across from her, and they’re sharing conversation. She made no claim that her husband isn’t attractive - she found his features...pleasant, really, and the part of her that appreciated the feeling of earth beneath her bare feet found his apparent distaste for table manners somewhat appealing. The rest of her found them entirely inappropriate, but there was little she could expect from a soldier haplessly turned royal. The distaste for the carelessness was, however, a more comfortable reason for her eyes to linger on the swipe of his tongue against his skin than interest was.

“I’ve heard it’s popular in the south.” Remin replies, falling into the banter before she catches herself. “There’s an enormous debate over how best to number pages. It’s best that anyone destined to spend their lives together be on the same page about that sort of thing, I think.” Gods. Spend their lives together. Right. The amusement slides off her face at her own reminder of the situation that she is- that they are, she reminds herself - in the middle of, and she focuses again on her meal that suddenly looks far less appetizing despite her enjoyment of just moments before. “At any rate,” Remin says, humor gone. “I should- go gather the advisors.”
 

Aerynth

New Member
A surprised giggle escaped her lips, breaking the tension created by her babbling in the process. Well, I'll be damned. So she's NOT hiding behind that perfect etiquette each and every day! That had been a fear of hers; Cyreia had a limited experience dealing with nobles, but a lot of them seemed to live their lives just following those rules religiously, never allowing themselves to stray from the path. It was probably a solid idea if one wished to dedicate themselves to protecting their reputation, but god, was it a boring way to live. Cyreia wasn't here to have fun, of course, but the process of getting used to Athea might be easier if someone in her general vicinity behaved like, well, a human being. Now it turned out that her wife apparently had the capacity to do so. It baffled her how easily they seemed to be getting along today, not just because of the earlier argument, but because... Well, Cyreia wasn't terrific at getting along with people in general. Earning their respect was one thing, but actually connecting with them? Impossible. Or maybe not?

"Right, the advisors." The reality of her situation put an end to her daydreaming; her duties were calling. "Please do so, my queen. I shall meet them immediately." The two of them left the table and Cyreia followed Remin to what she supposed was the council chamber of this castle. It certainly looked rather similar to the Eupriunian council chamber; an oval room with a map hanging on the wall and a large table. There were also numerous bookshelves and Cyreia made a mental note to inspect them later. Few things could help you learn about a foreign culture better than books. Remin then went to get the advisors. It didn't take long for her to return with four men. They looked more or less the way Cyreia had imagined them; all of them were old, dressed in clothes befitting their status and serious. Just like she had suspected, none of them liked the idea of her journey, or at least the suddenness with which she wished to embark on it. "The dangers of such a journey would be too great, your majesty," they said, but that was the wrong way to try and deter her from her intentions. Danger was an old friend of hers, a welcome acquaintance. The advisors, although not happy about the situation, drafted the plan of their journey in the end and Cyreia gained some insight into their characters. They seemed... non-threatening. She wasn't about to drop her guard just yet because it could have been mere pretense, but they appeared to be more unnerved by her presence than she was by theirs. It probably made sense. Avreth's reputation preceded him. Knowing how easily these things got blown out of proportion, Cyreia guessed that a lot of Atheans probably saw her as some messenger of destruction. All the more reason to stay careful around them. Surely they would like to get rid of me.

Soon enough, the advisors left and Cyreia was alone with Remin again. "Well, that should do it. Do you have a moment to spare, my queen? I realize that we do not have much time before our departure, but I would like to learn from you nevertheless. How do I... approach your people? How should the Athean king greet his subjects? Should we bring gifts? How are things done in your kingdom?" The last thing Cyreia wanted to do was to behave like an Eupriunian in a country that despised Eupriunia. Sure, it was doubtful that she would manage to forget her entire upbringing and change into an exemplary Athean in the course of a single day, but genuine effort had to count at least a little bit, right? She watched Remin attentively, her eyes never leaving her face.
 

Conifer

New Member
Remin was mostly quiet as the advisors suggested routes and requirements, letting them handle the tangled strings of planning a few weeks’ trip around the kingdom. Occasionally she’d cut in with her own concerns, or say something to put some rest to one of theirs, but it was the greater part of an hour spent mostly listen to four grown men bicker like children. Professional children, yes, but children.
She had no real strong feelings about this group of advisors, if she were to be honest. They did their jobs well enough, and that was the most important thing. Probably. They’d listened to her parents far better than they ever did her which was fine until now, where she found herself in her parent’s position. Half of them had known her since she was born, and while the other two had joined them later, their judgement of her abilities was still...iffy, at times. Most of her suggestions went acknowledged just long enough to be ignored, but at least she and Avther had planned out the trip enough going into this meeting that there wasn’t too much that she disliked.

When they were finally left alone, Remin took one more glance over the path they’d plotted out. It’d be two weeks (not terribly long, but they did have responsibilities sooner than later,) stretching from here, and then the capital, before sweeping through cities and towns with the occasional farming community or war camp that had gained solidity. Good enough, hopefully.

“We’ll approach with respect, but not too much...grandstanding. Morale is terrible, and opinions of us will be intensely divided. Some people will appreciate our outreach, and others will hate it. Some people will accept you relatively well, others...won’t, obviously. We’ll bring small gifts for some, but it’ll be a case by case basis. Most of it will be a case by case basis.Showing weakness might...help, in some places, honestly. It’ll make you human. It’ll make you...a person, also affected by the war, and not some terrible force they’ve built you up as in their head. But in others it’ll be a death wish.” That was one benefit of a king that wasn’t truly a king, she supposed - he’d been around the very sorts of people that they’re talking to. He’d lived among them. He was one of them, more than he belonged in this room. This room was, at best, a fluke. She was more worried about him appearing kingly than she was about him connecting to the populous.

“We’ll find you some more appropriate clothes,” She decides. “Yours will do fine for travelling, but for appearances, it’s probably best that you’re not dressed in what they associate with the enemy.”
 

Aerynth

New Member
Cyreia listened carefully, weighing every single word. She had done well to ask Remin; her wife was a queen through and through, used to the song and dance in ways Cyreia would probably never be. It all seemed incredibly obvious now that it had been laid out in front of her, but she knew that half of it probably wouldn't have occurred to her. That's the way of thinking I will have to emulate if I ever want to become a good king. Even though it would be a lot of work, this particular aspect of her new life didn't scare her. In fact, it intrigued her. Once you stopped learning new skills, you were as good as dead. Learning how to become a monarch was slightly terrifying, but at least she couldn't complain about not having anything to work towards to.

"Yes, that does sound reasonable. Thank you for your help, my queen. Who even needs advisors when you know so much?" There was a hint of playfulness in her voice, probably encouraged by the way they had spoken to each other during breakfast, but the appreciation was genuine. "So I will just act normally for the most part; seems simple enough. Though, based on my experiences with the nobles of other countries, I don't think I should aim to appear too human in front of them. Common folk will be happy to see this face of mine, but I don't believe that nobles wouldn't try to manipulate a weak king. Especially if that weak king is still seen as an enemy. Or do you think that my assessment of the situation is incorrect?" Perhaps she had misjudged everything. Cyreia's experience with the ways of nobles wasn't extensive; while she believed in her judgement, she had formed it through watching various events from the sidelines, not through participating in them directly.

The mention of new clothes made her wince. It was a perfectly logical suggestion, which made it even worse. Cyreia could hardly deny that parading around in Eupriunian clothes would hardly win her any love, but getting her measurements taken also wouldn't be a smart idea. "Yeah, uh, I shouldn't wear this for the rest of my life, should I?" I certainly wish I could, though. "I don't think that there is a seamstress who works fast enough to sew clothes for me in a single day, though. Do you perhaps have some older clothes available that I could wear for the journey?" Cyreia was thankful for the fact that she had had to deal with clothes issues for years now. Coming up with excuses to avoid visiting a seamstress felt almost as natural as breathing by now.
 

Conifer

New Member
“No,” she agrees, sighing softly, scratching lightly at the roughed wood surface of the table. The wood’s soft, and her nail leaves an indent in the grain. “No,” She repeats, a bit more firmly. “You’re unfortunately right. In both regards. But we’ll sort both those issues. There’s enough clothing around this place that we can put something acceptable together, and we can gather more things in the capitol and have them tailored there.” She starts a mental list. Some of the staff tended towards his size, and current Athean fashion tended towards the androgynous. Some of her own things could probably be added to his wardrobe. Maybe some of her father’s, as much as she hated the idea of venturing into that. She’d see what she could pull together without opening that door. They weren't similar sizes, anyways, so the most she'd be able to take would be some overshirts or belts or the like. Nothing that couldn't be just as easily bought.

“As for the nobles...We’re stuck with you just trying your best. Give them as little to use against us as you can, even if that means you hardly seem like a person. Some that we’ll be visiting are trustable, but others...Well, I’ll warn you about those ones. But there will be some that try to take advantage of your naivety.” She doesn’t mean for that come out a bit judgemental, but at the same time, she does. He’s not prepared for what they’re walking into, and that’s becoming infinitely more clear in every moment they spend time discussing things of actual importance. “So show them as little as you possibly can, if you can manage."
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top