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Fantasy All's Fair

Sub Genres
LGTBQ Friendly, Magical, Romance

Conifer

Senior Member
Barely into this and already Remin was making a fool of herself. She deserved the chiding that she got, as good-natured as it was, and would deserve every other one she gained while living this lie. Of course there wouldn't be much in the way of paperwork in this scrap of a town. She'd said it mostly teasingly, mostly self-deprecatingly, but even that came with a good dose of 'You're not like them, and you're going to blow your cover if you keep this up'. Because while they'd made themselves a bit harder to find with these false identities...it seemed likely that even Loran could connect the dots between the rulers of Athea and two strange travelers if one was going around shouting from the rooftops her familiarity with things that most people around them hadn't needed to encounter.

Healing, though. Healing, she might...stand some chance of being passable at? She knew basics, anyways, and while she wasn't actually terribly good with flowers, she could learn. "That sounds like it'd work well." She agrees, grateful that despite her missteps, Sayna seemed more than cheerful and willing to help her, still. It still seemed entirely likely that Remin might ruin this, but at least she hadn't ruined it five minutes into their first interaction with another person. A blacksmith and a healer. She doubted that either of them would be as kind as this woman, but they had little need for kindness right now; they had need for coin, for food and something less overwhelmingly dirty and Athean to wear, and for somewhere to stay. And then perhaps a horse, or two if they were lucky. So, kind or not, the work would be done.

"Do you know where we could rent a room for the night?" Remin asks quietly. "The- cheaper the better, really, we only have what was in my pocket left." A pitiful amount, even in comparison to the standard here. But they'd have to sleep somewhere, even if it was hardly more than a blanket on the floor in a closet. That wasn't ideal, or even wanted, by any means, but...But it'd be better than the alternatives.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Sayna rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "I don't think there's anyone who rents rooms. We don't get too many visitors here, you see. It's not terribly exciting, and people still believe it's haunted here," the woman snickered. "I haven't seen a single ghost in my entire life, but apparently the spirits of the dead are still restless and even being here is asking for trouble. Nonsense, I say. Nonsense! ... are you alright, Cyreia?" It wasn't difficult to guess, really, why she had felt the need to pose that question; within mere seconds, Cyreia had grown as pale as if she was a ghost herself. (In a way, she was exactly that. What was a ghost, after all, if not a creature that dwelled in the past, unable to move on? God, how pathetic. It had been so long; why did the wounds refuse to close? Why did every word reminding her of the incident feel like a dagger in her heart? And to think Remin had called her strong!)

"I, uh, I'm fine," she smiled weakly; for some reason, it seemed to cost her all her remaining energy. "I'm just... scared of ghosts, that's all. Silly, I know, but what can I say? I listened to one too many scary stories as a child." 'I have lived one,' she had wanted to say, but in the end, she managed to keep that detail to herself. Sayna didn't need to know that Cyreia had lived here at some point. It was highly unlikely that she would somehow make the connection between her and Avther, but the less she knew about them, the safer they were. The safer she was, really, because if the word spread-- well, Cyreia didn't doubt that Loran would have all those who had gotten close to them killed. He didn't need witnesses to his incompetence in letting them escape, after all.

"Pfft, and you call yourself an adult. But anyway, if you want to, you can stay in my daughter's room. She lives in a big city now, so it's empty. You can borrow some of her clothes, too-- especially you, Cyreia, because you look like a man. I get that you wanted to be comfortable on your travels, but that is not how things are done!"

Oh, if only Sayna knew just how much she had deviated from what was normal or acceptable. Would she still be so kind to her had she been privy to her past? To her decisions? Still, Cyreia put on her best sheepish expression. "I know, I know. Thank you, Sayna. You're very kind."

"It won't be for free this time, though! I'm only letting you stay because I know that you're looking for a job. Well, that, and because I am kind."

"That you are. I don't know how we will be able to repay you, my friend."

"With money, obviously. Now come on, I'll show you to your room."

Predictably, the room was tiny; more like the one they had slept in during their stay in Hadsberry than their royal chambers. Still, it was also cozy and dry, with a bed that seemed large enough for both of them if they held one another, and that was more than she dared to ask for. Sayna then excused herself to give them some privacy; once the door closed behind them, Cyreia opened the large chest full of clothes that stood near the bed. The dresses didn't interest her nearly as much as they should have, but anything was better than dwelling in her memories. Yes, dresses would do as a distraction. "God, I have no idea how to wear any of this," she admitted with a frown. "I bet I'll look ridiculous, too."
 
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Conifer

Senior Member
Haunted. Gods. If Remin didn't know better, she'd assume that Sayna was in on some terrible joke on Cyeria's behalf, bringing it up so casually but pointedly. Remin took advantage of the openess of their relationship here (honestly, going back even just being able to say 'my wife' with the fondness she was allowed was going to be difficult. Maybe they just...wouldn't. If Athea wanted saving, then they'd have to be okay with Cyeria. (It was a foolish, indulgent idea; prosecute her for it if you wanted to, but she was going to indulge in all this disaster wherever she could,)) and reached for Cyeria's hand openly across the table.

Remin murmured her own thanks at Sayna's offer; it was kinder than she'd expected anyone to be, honestly. Even if Sanya seemed to be aware of that fact, and eager enough to stop doing this out of the kindness of her heart as soon as she could be - but she didn't fault her there. It was a matter of money for them both; they both needed it, and there was no shame in demanding payment for services rendered. They'd find work, and they'd pay her, eagerly.

The room could have looked like anything short of a cell filled with starving rats and Remin would have welcomed it, but she especially welcomed the warmth of the small bedroom as they entered it. It was cramped, yes, but what did that matter? They had nothing to fill the space with but themselves, and all the space they really needed was the bed. Somewhere safe to lay their heads.
Remin frowned softly at Cyeria's comment before kneeling before the the chest of clothes and starting to sort through it. Anything in here was going to be a bit large on both of them, but that was welcomed more than too small was. Remin tugged the most utilitarian dress from the pile; something that had seen its fair share of work, though the condition of it wasn't poor. A stain or two, a pale brown patch covering a hole in the soft grey-blue, but they were all in that state. This one, at least, lacked any of the bells and whistles that a few of the others held. The fabric was plain, the sleeves simple, the length not eager to drift up in the wind or trip in the streets. "Here," She says gently, handing it up to Cyeria. "See if that one'll do you alright. And no, you won't look ridiculous. It'll be unfamiliar, yes, but a dress is the least of our unfamiliar problems right now." Remin smiles softly up at her, but then the smile goes softer, sadder. "We could leave in the morning. With rest- walking would be terrible, I'm not saying this is a good idea, but...with rest, it'd be managable. To find somewhere else to find work. We give Sanya what money we can for the place to sleep and the clothes, we buy food with the rest of it, and...we could do it. We don't have to be here. I don't want to be here, if it's too much for you." She'd walk for days rather than see Cyeria suffering for the unfortunate happenstance that they'd been cast into.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia looked the dress up and down, her eyes full of doubts. It wasn't anything elaborate, of course; unlike the clothes Remin had worn back in the castle, this dress had been designed with work in mind, and it showed. There were no frills that would be difficult to clean, nothing that would impede the wearer's movement. It wasn't pants, though, and Cyreia had worn nothing but pants for-- gods, so many years. Even as a little girl, she had never really gone for dresses; those were considered the nice clothes, and her mother simply hadn't had the time or resources to repair them constantly, so she had saved them for special occasions. Birthdays, funerals and such. (How many times she had worn them before her old life had burned down? Cyreia couldn't remember. It hadn't been important before - it still wasn't, really - but... it sort of illustrated just how much she had forgotten. Memories were all she had, and yet she handled them so carelessly.)

Well, it didn't matter now. Few things did. With a sigh, Cyreia began to remove her old clothes, one article after another. Even if there was no need to fold them, she still did; an old habit from the army. You had to keep your things in order if you didn't want to incur your superiors' wrath, and that was the kind of lesson every soldier internalized quickly. Nobody liked being screamed at if it could be avoided, after all. The bindings were the last to go; even if Cyreia did remove them often, it was a nightly ritual, and so it felt strange to do it in the middle of day. Strangeness, however, seemed to be her new normal, so why not? Once that was done, she pulled the dress over her head and turned to Remin.

"What do you think? Is it alright or not?" There was no mirror in the room, so Cyreia couldn't tell, but she was certain the neckline must have revealed at least some of her scars and that... wasn't the ideal situation. Not by a long shot. How was she supposed to explain having them? It made sense for Avther, but Cyreia's body wasn't meant to look like that of a warrior! Remin, however, seemed to care about different things at the moment. Ah, her sweet, sweet Remin. Having someone who cared about her that much? That was still overwhelming at times, and it nearly drove her to tears.

"Am I being that transparent?" Cyreia smiled, just as sadly as her wife, before kissing her on her forehead. "We can't leave, Remin. The town is fairly isolated, so we'd have to march for days. I won't jeopardize our chances just to-- just to escape from something that happened years ago. I'll be fine. Besides, maybe the tree sent us here for a reason?" Cyreia couldn't see it, but surely it hadn't just... picked a spot randomly. Magic didn't work like that. Perhaps they were meant to do something here?
 

Conifer

Senior Member
Remin dresses quietly herself as Cyeria works away the bindings; her dress is a threadbare green, less work-worn than Cyeria's but still clearly used and loved, and, more importantly, different than anything that Remin would have elected to wear in Athea. There's some amount of complexity to it; the sleeves have some amount of form to them, and the bodice has bits of detailing, but there's still little about it to cause any distraction or bother during the work. The fabric's rough against her skin, but places have grown soft from being worn-down. She runs her fingers over them lightly, watching Cyeria tug her own dress on. It's...different. It is. It feels wrong in some way that Remin won't voice, because it's less wrong and more strange, and that strangeness only comes from having never seen this before. Her eyes went to the neckline, to the scars that she, really, found attractive more than anything, but her thoughts went the same place as Cyeria's - what story would they have to invent for those? Or would people be polite enough to not ask? (With the way that Sayna had pointed out that Cyeria looked mannish, she doubted they'd get so lucky out here. Boredom was a curse for proper manners, and in this quiet, haunted place, there seemed little else than boredom and work.) A problem for later, though. Right now, Cyeria mattered more than what parts of her body peeked out from under the fabric.

"Or it didn't." Remin points out, gentle but firm, reaching out to Cyeria and settling her arms around her, a loose embrace to hold her near. "And-- even if it did, whatever the reason is isn't, in my opinion, good enough. I mean it. We can leave. We can walk. Worse has happened to us today, nevermind this year, than us walking for a while." and perhaps going a little hungry; they wouldn't have enough money for food for days, but that wouldn't kill them that quickly. She didn't voice that; Cyeria knew it already, better than she did, and it wasn't going to help her argument to state it aloud. "Whatever you want to do - need to do - I'm here for. Right beside you." She murmurs, a bit quieter. It was true that it'd be stupid to leave, especially with the fact that they'd found shelter that they could pay for once they'd gained some coin, and potential work, but...but that didn't matter? It really didn't matter, not if each moment was going to leave Cyeria feeling that horrid ache that Remin knew well enough herself. She'd give anything for her wife to be free of it, and all she had to give up here was some comfort. A very, very small price to pay, really.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Or it didn't," Cyreia agreed with a half-smile. Who knew? Perhaps the tree had figured that, since they needed to leave Remin's home, her home would do. A horrifically inaccurate assessment, of course, but-- well, it was a tree. Could she really expect it to understand her hang ups with the place? Her emotions confused even her, much less some ancient spirit! "Even so, it doesn't really change our situation. Look, Remin, I really appreciate what you're trying to do for me, but sometimes you just got to... grit your teeth and bear it, you know?" Cyreia said, her voice barely louder than whisper. Yes, grit her teeth and bear it. Wasn't that what her entire life had been about, in the times before Remin? About trudging along, no matter how many corpses she had had to walk over? At least she had a lot of practice with that, Cyreia supposed.

"It will be fine," she plopped down on the bed and gestured for Remin to do the same. "I just have to get used to it, that's all. We won't stay here forever, either. We'll earn enough money to travel comfortably, more or less, and then-- then we can forget this town exists." Didn't her arguments sound logical? They certainly did, but perhaps that was the problem; Remin had, after all, spoken of her emotional needs. To her, they were apparently more important than them having a roof over their heads and something to eat. Just what had she done to deserve someone like her? To be able to bask in her warmth? Something in her past life, surely, because the one she had built on lies wasn't worth a damn.

"Let's make a deal, my love," Cyreia put a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "If if gets too bad, we will leave, and we will do it immediately. I won't protest. Just... give me an opportunity so I can at least try to adjust? Perhaps it won't be that terrible. Perhaps-- perhaps I'll even be able to find some closure here." Cyreia didn't see how, mostly because her being there wouldn't wrestle her loved ones from the jaws of death, but hey, stranger things had happened. Things like her finding love. "And now," Cyreia raised her eyebrow, "be honest with me. Just how ridiculous do I look? Don't spare my feelings, I can take it." It was perhaps the least smooth change of a topic in the history of all conversations, though Cyreia didn't care about that. The atmosphere between them had grown too heavy and she needed to escape from it, if only for a little while. All that seriousness? It almost made her feel nauseous, really. Nauseous and entirely overwhelmed. Hell, this entire day had been nothing but her being overwhelmed in the worst possible ways and she was beginning to get sick of that. Why not try to break the cycle?
 
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Conifer

Senior Member
Remin sits beside her as her distaste for Cyeria's outlook on all of this plays across her face. But...Cyeria's right. As usual, of course she's right. On paper, she's right, and Remin hates that that's not quite good enough for her. It should be, and it is, any other time - but the instant it concerns Cyeria, that 'good enough' is never quite good enough. She was useless in every other way of protecting her - what crime was it to want to protect her in the ways that she could? To shield her from having to endure this town? ...Except there was no crime. Just logic and a need to survive. And Cyeria was right.

Remin relents. Cyeria's right, and they can't be shooting themselves in the feet half a day into this likely-arduous journey. They'll need the money and the things that come with it if they're going to stand any sort of chance with this ill-thought-out plan. "Okay." She says quietly, submission and acceptance wrapped up in one, and then, a bit stronger. "But you have to be honest with me, alright? Don't torture yourself over this, and don't try to hide it. If you want to leave, we'll take what we've earned, and we'll go." She hoped that Cyeria might be right, that it wouldn't be terrible, that the look on her face when she first saw the town and that still haunted her in some way hours later was a response to the surprise of being back here and not an eternal sort of stick. Maybe rest, and the brightness of dawn, and the purpose of work would do good to settle her nerves. Remin could hope.

As graceless as that transition was, Remin made no effort to point it out. They'd come to an agreement; if Cyeria didn't want to discuss it further than that, then she wouldn't force her to. And she'd take any chance she could bet to extol the virtues of her wife. "Absolutely so." Remin teases lightly. "It's utterly terrible. Just the worst. I just can't stand how beautiful you look, it's awful." It was true. As out-of-place as Cyeria looked in the slightly-too-big dress, it looked nice on her. She'd look nice in anything, Remin's certain, so perhaps that didn't mean too much. She settles into seriousness, though, wanting to properly reassure her. "I'll admit that it's strange to see you not in pants," Remin murmurs, reaching out to take Cyeria's hand in both of hers. "But you look nice. Honestly. And it's...nice proof that there's more and more yet for me to discover about you. Such as how nice that shade looks on you, or how that neckline suits your shoulders. You look nice, Cyeria. I promise. Not ridiculous at all - or at least no more than I do in these borrowed clothes." She wonders if Sayna would mind her tailoring them? Her sewing skills weren't flawless, but she could manage to take in two dresses. She'd ask once they had some money to buy them outright; she wouldn't have much reason to care, then. For now, this was fine.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia couldn't help but grin under the onslaught of compliments. She wasn't whether she actually believed them, mainly because dresses weren't really designed to flatter her body type, but listening to her wife gush about her? That felt nice. Nice in a way she was wholly unused to. People had acknowledged that she looked fine in the past, of course, but usually as part of banter. Something for her to get annoyed at more than anything else, really. Besides, those compliments had been directed at Avther. Technically she was him, though she also wasn't, and it was just nice to be recognized as herself rather than-- rather than a good imitation. A successful fraud.

"You look rather nice yourself, you know," she smiled at Remin, infinite fondness in her voice. "Maybe we can bring similar fashion to Athea once we return, too." And why not? While lady Everbright and her ilk might not appreciate that sort of thing, the simplicity if the dress Remin wore only accentuated her natural beauty. Was there even anything she would look bad in? God, Cyreia couldn't possibly imagine that. Even covered in filth from Wellan's dungeon, her wife had looked just as striking as she always did. "I can't tell it's my favorite look, though," she added with a mischievous spark in her eyes. "I still prefer you without clothes entirely. I doubt any outfit can top that."

How had she just-- slid back into their old dynamic so easily? It should have been impossible, really, in this place where her world had been taken away from her, but somehow, it came to her naturally; as if it was her second skin. (Maybe labeling it as 'second' was wrong, though. This was, after all, who she was under all the layers of deceit, under the male clothes. Stripping all of that revealed her core, not just-- another set of lies.)

"I'll need to think of some justification for having those scars, though," Cyreia sighed. "Looking like this--" she gestured towards herself vaguely, "is not exactly normal here." Inventing something believable could, however, pose a problem; the scars were clearly slashes, not marks left by animals or any conceivable accident. Everything about them seemed deliberate. More sheltered people from larger cities could potentially be convinced that she had gotten hurt with, say, farming tools? Cyreia would be shocked if something like that flew in Eydar, though. The locals worked with them every single day and knew what such injuries looked like! "Do you have some idea? Because I'm at a loss, and I cannot tell them that I used to be a soldier." Even if they did accept it - and that was a big if - her former profession would generate rumors, which was just about the last thing they needed. A mysterious soldier appearing out of nowhere in Eydar in such delicate times, seemingly for no reason at all? Loran could potentially piece things together. Not that it was terribly likely, of course, but they couldn't be careful enough; not when so much was at stake here.
 
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Conifer

Senior Member
Remin ran her fingers across the neckline, studying the skin it reveals - scars she'd had her time to grow fond of, to find familiar. But Cyeria was right; they wouldn't go as noteless here. "Maybe just wear your old shirt beneath?" She eventually suggests, an imperfect solution, but all they have available at the moment. There had been another dress with a higher collar in with the others, but it had been a delicate thing - special occasion wear, with worn lace and other frills that didn't suit Cyeria in the least. And not suitable at all for the sort of work she was going to seek. It'd be a miracle if she showed up to the blacksmith in that thing and he hired her on; no, it really wasn't an option. "Say that you get cold, or claim self-conciousness, or something?" It would look unusual, maybe, but not bad, and it would draw much less attention than the scars. Remin ran her thumb across one, soft and slow, feeling the silvery raised skin under her fingertip.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"I... haven't considered this as an option, actually," Cyreia admitted with a soft chuckle. And it was such an elegant solution, too! Why think of an excuse when she could avoid the situation entirely? Maybe they would judge her for her fashion choices, but she was never going to excel in that department anyway. (That time lady Everbright had badmouthed some lord for wearing bronze? Yeah, Cyreia still saw nothing wrong with that. Why would it be a crime? It was a color, for god's sake, and didn't almost all colors look fine in the right context? She would have to ask Remin about that at some point. At some point when their priorities didn't revolve around just... survival, which meant she wouldn't get to find out for a long, long while. Oh well. Something to look forward to, she supposed.) "I'll say I'm concerned with modesty, then. You can never offend people for being too modest."

And speaking of things to look forward to... "We should visit the blacksmith and the healer first thing in the morning," Cyreia said, a hint of apprehension in her voice. Remin had described her as 'good with most things,' but she wasn't so sure about that. Physical strength didn't also equal to skill, and she had spent most of her life swinging her sword instead of-- well, instead of learning anything even remotely useful in day to day life. Apparently it was time for her to learn now, but learning under such conditions did not put her at peace. Not even a little bit. She knew nothing about blacksmithing! (Swords were something she understood quite intimately, though the probability of her new employer forging weapons was rather low. No, he probably focused on rakes, axes, harrows, things like that. On tools meant to build, not to destroy. ...maybe this could be a good job for her, now that she thought of it.)

Remin, though. Her poor, inexperienced Remin, whose life had taken a dramatic turn for something completely different within a few hours. She was handling it exceptionally well so far, but it couldn't be easy. Far from it. Working in a foreign country while having no idea what she was doing was a concept Cyreia was very familiar with, and she didn't wish it on her wife in the slightest. Sadly, it had to be done. "Is there something I can help you with while you're adjusting to the life here?" she asked her gently and pressed a kiss into her hand. God, she had been so selfish, dwelling in her memories while Remin must have struggled with the present. "Something you feel you should know, perhaps?" Everything was crystal clear to Cyreia, but again, she knew from experience that things that could seem obvious to someone who had been born there could be an utter mystery to a foreigner. And a foreigner who also hailed from a completely different class? Now that was a whole new level of confusion.
 

Conifer

Senior Member
"We should." She agrees, grateful that it's late enough in the day for that to not be a task for them to complete now. Sure, they could - the workday wasn't quite over, the sun not quite setting, but it was near enough to it that there wasn't really much point in venturing out of this room for anything but a meal for the rest of their day.

She has to think quietly about anything that she might need to know from Cyeria, but honestly, in this moment of winding down, anything notable refuses to spring to mind immediately. That was going to be something she regretted later, Remin was sure. "...Just don't let me act too outrageously?" Remin requests, squeezing her hand lightly. It's so hard to know what she might need to know before there's much chance to experience anything about it; so far, everything had been more or less par for the course, despite her blundering through the conversation about what she 'did' with Sayna. Remin sinks down to settle against Cyeria, her head pressed against her shoulder and an arm wrapped around her waist, pressing and keeping the two of them near to each other. "And-- I don't know. Is there anything glaringly different between Athea and Eupriunia that might give me away as Athean?" She wasn't sure where this version of herself was meant to be from, but it was easy enough to avoid that question. The accents didn't differ too much btween Athea and Eupriunia, at least not here, so maybe it wouldn't even be asked of her. And if it was...the easy cop-out of 'I've traveled a lot' was enough to get people talking about other things, she hoped. "Or as- royal, I guess, which really would be worse."
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"I don't think that will be a problem," Cyreia squeezed her hand in response. "The only outrageous thing about you is how beautiful you are, and they can hardly fault you for that one." If anything, Remin's natural charm could only help, really. It was in human nature to treat those you found attractive more kindly; to let them get away with more, as long as they behaved in a respectful manner. In some cases, a single smile of hers could likely get her further than ten heartfelt apologies. "Still, if I catch you in the act of being ridiculous, I'll tug on your sleeve. That'll be your signal to stop and think."

Still, such a system was unsustainable. Cyreia couldn't possibly spend every waking our in her presence and point out the inconsistencies in her behavior; not when she would have her own work to attend to. Unless the blacksmith and the healer worked in the same place - which she very much doubted - Remin would be alone for a significant part of the day. Not the ideal situation, of course, but there was really no way around this. Sooner or later, she had to learn how to act inconspicuous, and sooner was the better option here. What could give her away, though?

Cyreia pursed her lips in a thoughtful frown. "You being Athean shouldn't be immediately noticeable. I mean, even if you prayed to the Athean gods, I doubt these people would recognize them as Athean. Short of obviously bad ideas such as outright admitting it, you should be safe." Her royal pedigree, however, could prove to be much more problematic. Cyreia had gotten to know both worlds - that belonging to common people and that of aristocrats - and the contrast still baffled her, even after a few months. How to make that transition easier for Remin? Was something like that even possible? God, Cyreia had no idea at this point, but she had to try.

"You can get away with your manners being more polished than they should be, I think. You are a scholar here, and most people will sort of expect you to act strangely at times. Still, you shouldn't stand out too much. That means that you'll have to learn how to be uncultured as well," Cyreia giggled. Despite the gravity of their situation, the idea of Remin adopting some of her old customs was nothing short of hilarious. It just-- didn't fit with her image at all! "Examples of that include eating with your hands and burping after you're done with your meal. People will be offended if you don't do it because they'll think you didn't enjoy your meal. Oh, and it's likely that you will be kissed a lot. It's a common greeting, so try not to panic too much. They won't mean anything untoward by it. And speaking of kissing," her smile widened at that, "you should absolutely be affectionate with me in public. Embarrassing, even. You're my wife, and it would be strange if you kept your distance. You'll have to shower me with love, I'm afraid."
 

Conifer

Senior Member
While Cyeria claimed that even blatantly praying to the Athean gods wouldn't draw much attention, Remin made a note to herself to be careful (not that that note didn't exist tenfold already, but here was another one, pasted quickly over the last,) not to give any sort of indication that she might even have fondness for another pantheon. Best leave gods entirely out of it. It was safer. It was less proof that someone might mention in a passing comment that was strange about her, about them, and less for Loran to use to find them. (Because that was entirely it. Loran would find them. She had no doubt there, not really. Perhaps they'd get lucky and he'd believe they died down in those tunnels, which was a comfortingly likely possibility, or he wouldn't. If he started to look for them, he'd find them. Eventually. And the eventually was key - because every day they had, every hour, every minute, gods, might be enough to find someone to protect them or side with them or convince them to at least listen. So. The less puzzle pieces they threw out into the world, the better.)

The worst part of any of this is that Remin honestly couldn't tell where Cyeria was perhaps teasing her, or was being a little overdramatic, or where she was simply being entirely honest. Would she dare mess with her right now? Did either of them had the energy for that? If the wide smile on her face at the end of her advising was any indication - yes. Yes, Cyeria did, at least. "Shower you with affection, I'm more than happy to do." Remin agrees, starting down her list, "Eating with my hands - if I must, then I must. Being kissed, I suppose. But I won't be burping. Absolutely not. I can use my words to tell people that I enjoyed my meal just fine, I'm sure." It was humorous, how scandalized she looked at the very suggestion of doing such an act; it wasn't complete and utter horror, but it was as if Cyeria had asked her to carry a handful of bugs in her pockets, or walk barefoot through thick mud, or some other mildly awful thing. No, that wouldn't be happening. She'd make every effort in the world to be polite in every other way so that her apparently insulting her meals would be forgiven.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Objectively, the mess they found themselves in wasn't funny. Of course it wasn't. They were stranded in the middle of the enemy territory - trapped in the landscape of her nightmares, really - and she was giving her wife tips on how to survive. Very few people would laugh in that situation. Cyreia, however? She was one of them. For the first time since they had landed in Eupriunia, she threw her head back and laughed; laughed freely, without restraints, until she was left gasping for air. Because wasn't that just ridiculous? Her wife had communed with spirits, outsmarted the most cunning of conspirators, walked through her own personal hell with Wellan and yet this was where she drew the line. With burping. Alright. Alright, why not. There were still new things for her to discover, it seemed.

"So this is what you take issue with?" Cyreia finally said once she managed to gather her breath. Her mouth hurt from laughing, which... was a feeling she hadn't experienced in far, far too long. Economic issues didn't exactly inspire bouts of laughter, after all. And wars? Wars didn't tend to do that, either; especially if you happened to be on the losing side. For a while, however, Cyreia allowed herself to forget about all of that. "Really? It's just a bodily function, Remin. It's easier to deal with than-- than, say, all that different cutlery you use!" Cyreia had, admittedly, warmed up to certain aspects of her life as a royal at this point, but the almost ritualistic eating? Yeah, that was never going to make sense. She remembered which fork to use for which meal now, though as far as she was concerned, that space in her head would have been much better spent on something else. On almost anything else, really.

"I mean, I won't force you," Cyreia shrugged. It wasn't, after all, a huge transgression. If Remin wanted to fight that battle, she could just explain to other people why she acted the way she did. Most likely, her wife would be seen as a silly, harmless foreigner. Nobody would suspect her unless she stood out in some more dramatic way, like criticising Loran publicly, and Cyreia didn't think her wife would do such a thing. No, she was too smart for that. "I just-- it's strange to me, you know? What does this matter so much?" Maybe only royals understood, and she would never be able to cross that divide.
 

Conifer

Senior Member
Remin's laughter didn't bubble up to fill the space with Cyeria's, but a smile did tug itself onto her face at the sight of her wife being so...Carefree, for just this moment. It was unfortunate that she was finding delight in Remin's apparent ridiculousness, but it was somehow as equally kind of wonderful. Remin was, at least, responsible for it even if it was that Cyeria was laughing more at her than with her. "Oh, hush," She rolls her eyes, all sorts of fondness, as Cyeria continues to laugh away, leaving herself breathless. Despite her words, though, she makes no real effort to stop her, nor does she want to. When was that last time she'd seen Cyeria so carefee? Had it been ever? Had they ever had the luxury of a moment like this? She couldn't recall one.

To be entirely fair, Cyeria (logically,) had a point. If it wasn't considered rude here, then it was entirely as good as ridiculous for her to find as much issue with it as she has. But Remin wasn't of this place; she didn't have those same rules engrained into her, and that's where the less logical part of all of this sprung to life. "l- I mean," She says, still smiling, still amused, still infinitely fond, "If it was against burping or my life, then I would," Perhaps it was? No. No, absolutely not. She wasn't going to go that far. "But it's just- rude! I don't know. When you've gone through two hours of manners lessons every other day for the better part of a year, then it just kind of sticks to you. Especially when your teacher's absolutely horrible. I swear, she could turn water to ice with a look. She was terrifying. And burping...you simply don't do it, and certainly not at a meal! There's no real reason, I guess? It's just rude."
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Once again, the corner of her mouth twitched. Maybe she really was an uncultured soldier, but seeing Remin care so much about something that ultimately mattered very little-- well, it was just funny. Especially since it was actually rude not to burp here! Despite her amusement, though, Cyreia did understand what her wife had meant. Habits could easily rule over you if you let them, and Remin hadn't had any reason to try and challenge them before. Why would she have done that, considering the fact they had benefited her? A queen had to have proper manners. After her experiences with some of the nobles, Cyreia didn't doubt for a second that some of them would be willing to stage a rebellion if they saw their ruler burp, or - the horror! - do anything else that would out her as a regular human being. A regular human being with a body made of flesh and blood and normal human needs. Kind of depressing, wasn't it? Cyreia didn't want to think of depressing things now, though; not when the entire world seemed hellbent on destroying her mood in every way imaginable. Under such circumstances, she did not want to cooperate. No, resistance was the only response here; anything else only got you closer to giving up.

"Ah, my poor Remin," she chuckled and hugged her, burying her face in her hair. (How did she do it that she always smelled so nice? Some kind of magic, Cyreia was sure. Probably the same kind of magic that made her smile so damn infectious she had to smile as well, even surrounded by death and ashes and ghosts of the past.) "You don't have to be afraid of this evil, evil woman anymore. You know that I will always protect you, right? If she dares to show herself at the court again, I will-- challenge her to a duel. In burping," she added in between fits of laughter. "I mean, I doubt she could possibly beat me in that department. Can she burp out her name? Because I can, and I'm not afraid to use that skill." What? Boredom had certainly driven people to things much worse than participating in competitions in burping (which she may or may not have been shockingly good at).
 

Conifer

Senior Member
Remin sank easily into Cyeria's embrace, seeking the comfort that they both needed at the end of this day in her touch. It was strange how easy it was for it to matter very little that they were hours upon hours from the home they couldn't return to any time soon, in a place far-too-familiar in Cyeria's case, unfamiliar in Remin's, wearing borrowed clothes, and likely dead to anyone that -- oh. That thought wasn't a nice one. It...wasn't as if Remin was close to anyone, or anyone close to Remin, besides the woman who's arms hold her right now, especially after having to let a lot of the long-term staff go from the castle. So everyone thinking she's dead...isn't the worst. And somehow that makes it worse. Is that the legacy she's leaving behind, if she does die out here? Useless in a war, then a traitor, then well-meaning enough but ultimately dead before anything can come of it, with no one to really miss her? That leaves a knot in her stomach. She sinks tighter against Cyeria and tries to push past it. There's no point in thinking more about it, especially not now, especially not when Cyeria's still smiling and laughing and the world's not going to fall apart if she keeps doing that.

It's easier said- thought? - than done, but easy enough to keep the topic where Cyeria had left it, especially with an opening like she'd left. "Dear gods. No, I doubt she could've." Remin's glad that Cyeria's got her head tucked against her hair, because if she could see her face in the moment it takes her to school it back into fond enjoyment instead of 'horror at what she's left behind', then this whole night would be notable more ruined than the day attempted to make it be. "However, now I'm morbidly curious about your ability to do it, and I'm not sure if I want to ever witness that or not."
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Had Cyreia looked up at any point, she might have noticed the change in Remin's mood, and then she would have inquired about it. They could have come to some sort of conclusion, too-- but as it stood, it escaped Cyreia entirely. "Are you?" she asked Remin, a playful spark in her eyes. Something about this, about this cheerful not-quite-flirting amidst utter chaos, reminded her of their honeymoon. God, it felt so long ago! Almost as if they had been married for years, not months. Well, it did sort of make sense. Cyreia knew better than most people how danger could bring people together; the camaraderie between soldiers was a more convincing proof of that than anyone should ever need, really, and what they had experienced together had been more eventful than most wars. Still, it couldn't erase her wonder at... feeling nostalgic for something that had technically happened not so long ago. At her joy at getting to emulate that, even if the circumstances were less than ideal. (And, god, wasn't that an interesting betrayal? Cyreia shouldn't be enjoying this. She should be craving the safe kind of boredom that came with paperwork, not-- not this. Not some grand, romantic adventure. Especially not while their people were suffering! Who knew what Loran was doing in Athea in this very moment? 'Nothing good' likely couldn't even begin to describe it.)

"I mean," she continued, still merry despite her thoughts, "if you're confident that our love would survive it, I could show you. Because you are interested-- don't even try to pretend that you aren't! You never would have brought it up if that hadn't been the case," Cyreia laughed and kissed her on the neck, and then also somewhat lower, near her collarbone. Beautiful, that was what she was. "I just need some motivation. Some damn good motivation, too, because if I'm risking your ability to love me, it better be worth it." She distanced herself from Remin a bit, her expression carefully neutral; her lips twitched a bit, but otherwise, it was a solid attempt at looking serious. "So? Any ideas, love of mine? I'm all ears."
 

Conifer

Senior Member
Remin leaned easily into the kisses, delighting in the affection. Cyeria would miss her, she supposed. If she was to die out here, it was- honestly likely that Cyeria would as well, because she couldn't really imagine a scenario where they'd get into danger and the other wouldn't make some fool-hearty, valiant, dangerous attempt to save them. And...honestly, at this point, Remin wasn't entirely sure she was capable of handling all this without Cyeria. But she'd have to, if it came to it, wouldn't she? Following her wife in this dooming fantasy would be the easiest option, the romantic option, but...Athea would still be under Loran's thumb. And if she died then, at Cyeria's side, then she'd only be proving those that thought she was a traitor right. She couldn't do that. But- thankfully, they didn't face those sort of demons yet. They were safe right now, however temporarily; no one was dying. Not yet, not soon, and ideally, not for a good long while.

"I think you're well aware that I can offer pretty good motivation," Remin murmurs, leaning to press kisses against Cyeria's neck, shoulders, collarbone - pity that she'd be covering this skin, because Remin was finding the access to it appealing. Well, she'd have more chances to see it, to touch it. This wouldn't be the last, and any time that she'd be want to be kissing such a space would likely be a time where she could just remove whatever was covering it. "However," She teases, sitting back up. "I'm honestly not sure our love would survive it. Who knows, I may find you disgusting after I see what you're capable of. I may never be able to be in the same room as you again." How transparently false that all was, though; there was little that Cyeria could do at this point that would lead to that sort of future.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia, too, enjoyed her wife's gentle ministrations. How had they not become boring to her yet? They touched each other so often that it should have grown mundane by now, the pleasure dulled, but it very much hadn't. It did feel different than in the beginning, of course. The twist, though? The changes only made everything better. They weren't as clumsy around each other anymore, didn't doubt one another's feelings, and they had learned what the other liked. Apparently, loved aged like wine. Who would have thought? Certainly not her. Back in the army, most of her friends had claimed the opposite! (Finding out that they were wrong was... vindicating for reasons Cyreia didn't entirely understand. Maybe because she found the concept too cynical for her liking? Or was she perhaps proud of discovering something they hadn't despite her relative inexperience? She didn't feel like analyzing that now.)

"Oh, I know very well, trust me," Cyreia grinned and, oh so casually, her hands found their way under the the fabric of her dress. What? It wasn't like they were bound by propriety now. Sayna likely wouldn't enter the room any time soon, either; she seemed like a sensible woman, and sensible people knew better than to disturb a married couple without knocking. "But it doesn't hurt to get a reminder, you know? Hearing you say it makes it all the more motivating." Now that she thought of it, maybe she just enjoyed Remin acting in inappropriate ways? There was something freeing about watching her let go of the manners that had been pressed into her skin; about knowing that such a sight was reserved for her and her only. Nobody but her had the privilege of witnessing Remin like this, and Cyreia reveled in it.

Her next words, however, caused her smile to freeze a bit. Remin was joking, of course she was, but-- well, it was the kind of joke that hit a little too close to home for her to be entirely comfortable with it. The idea of Remin not wanting to be in the same room once she found out who she truly was? What she truly was, really? Cyreia would never be completely convinced it couldn't happen. Mostly convinced, yes, but there would always be that tiny 'what if' in the back of her mind, and that terrified her more than anything. "Uh. Well. At this point, I can only hope that our love is stronger than that because I'm just too invested," she tried to continue in the same vein, but the tone of her voice betrayed her. More than joking, it just sounded... tense.
 

Conifer

Senior Member
Remin felt the mood pitch sideways, heard the strain in Cyeria's voice, and faltered equally, trying to place it. It didn't take her much more than a second to realize where things had gone not-quite-right; if she'd been thinking when she spoke, then she would have been more tactful. That was a side-effect of lowering her guard in these private moments, she supposed; clumsy if well-meaning words. Remin frowned softly, taking Cyeria's face into her hands. "My love." She murmurs. "My soldier. My king. Cyeria. I will love you to the very ends of this earth, regardless of anything you might do. Burping out your own name or otherwise. You've made the mistake of allowing me to fall for you, and so I'm afraid that you're stuck with me." Perhaps it was swinging wildly in the opposite direction, but-- but she needed Cyeria to know, to understand. Especially in this dawning of this journey that would be sure to test them both in every way it could - Remin had to be sure that Cyeria had no reason to doubt that she was beside her every step of it, no matter what might come. She leans forward, pressing a kiss to Cyeria's temple, her head still held in her hands like she were something fragile, so tender and careful of the ways her fingers touched against her skin. "I love you. I will always love you. I promise."
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"I know," she mumbled, her eyes downcast. "I really do. I don't-- I don't doubt you, Remin." Her wife had, after all, brought every sacrifice imaginable on the altar of their relationship. How many people had she lied to just to keep her safe? Her and her secret? At this point, nobody would be able to count them all. No, you didn't do such things for people you didn't love. You didn't treat them the way Remin treated her, either. Cyreia knew all of that, of course, so where had the doubts come from? Why had they reared their ugly head?

"I... don't think this is something you are responsible for," Cyreia said, apparently deeply in thought. Some of the tension had left her voice after Remin's reassurance, though she hadn't quite managed to get back to her previous mood. That would probably take some time. "It's just-- well, sometimes I remember all those things you don't know about me yet, and then it's difficult for me to imagine you wouldn't find them horrible." Because honestly? For all those things that had happened to her in the past few months, Remin was still sheltered; still innocent enough to shocked by everything she had grown so numb to. Hell, more worldly people would likely be disturbed, too; the kind of life she had led wasn't exactly normal, after all.

"And in my heart, I know that you wouldn't-- well, maybe not wouldn't mind, but that you'd be able to look past it. I know it because you always did, time and time again," Cyreia smiled, though there was a sad edge to it. A hint of something that simmered just under the surface, normally out of sight but now so visible. "But the thing is, you shouldn't have to do that, because you deserve more than a lifetime of-- of having to get over terrible deeds, I suppose." That was all she could offer Remin, though. Well, that, and also the hatred of her countrymen once they found out their love was genuine. Such great prospects! "Am I making sense here, at least a little bit?" Cyreia asked quietly, her hand placed on Remin's cheek. "Because I don't feel like I am."
 

Conifer

Senior Member
"No," Remin says, with a tender sort of firmness. "You're making absolutely no sense at all." And then, a little softer, a little less commanding, but still with a strength to the words. "Cyeria, you've met nobility by now. Yes, you haven't met a lot of married nobility, but...I'll assure you, it's rarely as tender as this. It's rarely as-" She shrugs softly. "-as...meaningful as this. What I was supposed to have was a marriage of politics, where we may be friends at best, and rarely can even speak of even our most mundane worries to each other. That's the standard. If having you, if having...someone who I can speak to about anything, or someone who'd rescue me without thought, or someone who makes losing my country-" She pushes past the catch in her voice. This isn't time for that. "-seem even the tiniest bit better because of the thought of calling you my wife, my love, to other people-- I don't care what secrets you hold, as long as you're not Loran himself. I'm not going to do either of us the disservice of saying that everything you might have done is more than fine; I may be ignorant to the true cruelty of wars, but I can imagine - but I will say that...I don't think anything that you're scared of me learning is something that I'll hold against you. You're anything but a cruel woman, Cyeria, and so anything terrible you might have done had reason that I'll understand. You're the one who deserves more than a lifetime of getting over terrible deeds, and I'm the one who doesn't deserve to have the happiness that is being wed to you. Whatever comes, we'll handle it."

"We should sleep." Remin murmurs softly. "I think this day is wearing on us." Surely that wasn't helping Cyeria's mood or mindset at all. Today had been long and stressful and quite honestly traumatic; the sleep would do them good. And if there was still ghosts of this thinking lingering on Cyeria in the morning, then Remin would sort it then, hopefully with energy enough to come up something more she might do to help. She presses a kiss to Cyeria's cheek before pulling away to crawl beneath the blankets of the bed. "Come on. Come to bed, my love, let me hold you." She says softly, making space for her wife beside her on the narrow frame. It was a benefit that they had few problems with personal space; there wasn't any here. (They might have killed each other, intentionally or not, if this is all the space they had the first night of their marriage.)
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia wanted to protest, wanted to argue about how this had nothing to do with anything, really, but in the end, she decided against it. If Remin thought it was relevant, then who was she to contest that? More importantly, she didn't actually wish to do so. Not truly. Part of her yearned for a punishment of some kind, for something that would allow her to sleep a little more soundly, but the fact that Remin found her to be worth it? That, in her eyes, the good outweighed the bad? Cyreia needed it to be true so, so desperately that she couldn't bring herself to argue with her. (Perhaps that was a failure in itself; just another way in which she refused to accept the responsibility for her deeds. If so, though, Cyreia figured it was fine. She didn't need to solve this today, after all. Right now she was stressed and tired and probably not thinking clearly anymore, and the bed looked oh so tempting. Rest would help her see everything with greater clarity, she was sure.)

"I-- thank you, Remin. It means a lot. You mean a lot." It wasn't nearly as eloquent as the little speech her wife had graced her with, but it was true, and Cyreia didn't have the energy to think of anything more elaborate. Sincerity would have to do. "Maybe we can come to a compromise and agree that we deserve each other, though? Because you do deserve every bit of happiness you can get." Remin deserved more than that, honestly, except that starting yet another pointless argument right before they went to bed didn't seem like a good idea. "But yes, let's rest. We have to be strong for tomorrow."

The one positive thing about total exhaustion, physical and emotional, was that it pretty much made your body shut down. Once Cyreia closed her eyes, nothing seemed to matter anymore; not Eydar, not Loran, not any of the countless worries that usually made her head feel so heavy. In that moment, it was just her and her wife. Sleep came quickly - almost instantly - and when it did, it swallowed her whole.

When the sun rose, Cyreia was awake already, and she felt better than she had any right to feel. They may have lost everything, yes, but they still had one another. Hadn't Remin said they would handle everything fate threw at them? With fresh energy coursing through her veins, that statement didn't sound as ridiculous anymore. It was believable, even. Once her wife woke up as well, the two headed back to the main section of the tavern. It turned out Sayna had prepared a breakfast for them; nothing fancy, of course - just scrambled eggs and some bread - but Cyreia still felt moved when she refused to accept any money for the meal categorically. ("You'll pay once you find a job. Until then, you're my guests. Now shush and eat!") The woman also gave them the directions they needed and, soon enough, they found themselves standing in front of the healer's hut. The house was small, tiny even, with a roof that appeared to be rather flimsy, but other than that, it semed to be in a decent shape. A field of flowers surrounded it, too. Were those medicinal plants or just herbs he cooked with? Cyreia couldn't say. "It'll be fine," she smiled at Remin and squeezed her hand reassuringly. "I'll be there to support you in case something goes wrong, but I doubt it will." When they knocked on the door, a short man with greying hair opened. He stared at them for a while (particularly at Remin, who looked much more out of place), but then there was a spark of recognition in his eyes.

"Oh. You must be the one Sayna talked about, right? Well, let's get straight to the point. What skills do you have?"
 
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Conifer

Senior Member
Remin slept poorly, but quality mattered less than the fact that she did sleep. Before she drifted off, she put whatever energy she had left in her into healing her wounded hand, which had thankfully stopped bleeding along the way, but she really didn't want to deal with the pain of it or the threat of it breaking open once more come morning light. There wouldn't be time for that, and - quite honestly, showing up with a mostly untreated wound to find a job at a healer's was, Remin was decently sure, the exact opposite of the way to secure work there. Work, gods. This time tomorrow, hopefully she'll have a job. It wasn't as if she'd never worked a day in her life, because the stacks of diplomatic letters, the days at court trying to sort out petty problems, the everything that filled nearly every minute of her life suggested otherwise, but she'd never had that distinction. Never that intentional exchange of time and productivity for money and then the ability to leave it behind, at least for a few hours, at the end of the day. (It wasn't going to be that simple, of course - because at the end of the day, once she'd finished her work, she'd be back to that not-job of royalty, of figuring out what they might do to best Loran, but that was a more abstract sort of duty right now than it usually was.)

Morning came, and with it, the pity-breakfast that had been offered to them that tasted perhaps better than anything Remin had eaten in years. She hadn't realized how starving she was until the first bite of eggs, but it occurred to her then that she didn't really know when the last time she'd eaten had been. Breakfast yesterday? It must've been. Everything had happened so quickly and so early. After the breakfast, came the searching for work.

Remin tried not to shrink away under his gaze. Why did her confidence fail her now? (There was risk, now. She was no one, now. That's why.) "-I am, yes." Remin agrees, a little softer than she'd like to. No, she has to seem like she knows what she's doing. She clears her throat. "I don't have too much experience with healing - I can do some of it-" magically, she cuts herself off before she says, because this is not somewhere she should be broadcasting that- "But...only very basic things. Cleaning a wound, dressing it. But I can read, I can write," it felt ridiculous to be saying that aloud, to be- what, bragging about it, it felt? "-and I promise, I'm incredibly willing to learn whatever it is I might need to, if you'd give me the chance."
 

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