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Fantasy All's Fair

Sub Genres
LGTBQ Friendly, Magical, Romance

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Oh. I see." She didn't, certainly not enough to understand what Remin had been hinting at exactly, but the statement had an air of irrevocability to it. Almost like a death sentence. Death probably was involved; why else mention gods? At any rate, Cyreia didn't feel like she had the right to interrogate her about it. Some things should only ever be shared willingly. She out of all people knew just how visceral memories could feel, how they gnawed at your insides in the dead of night when all other worries dissolved into nothingness. "You shouldn't push yourself too much. Just rest for a bit," Cyreia said and caressed her back gently. That was acceptable for her to do, right? Touches had become so commonplace between the two of them lately. "I will show up later to check on you." She didn't want to leave at all, but sometimes, peace could only be found in solitude. Perhaps Remin would benefit from a few moments of silence. Well, that, and Lord Vestat was waiting.

It occurred too late to her that she didn't actually know where the sun room was, but a maid that found her wandering the corridors and looking hopelessly lost directed her there in the end. "Lord Vestat," Cyreia smiled. "I'm afraid that my queen is tired from the journey, so you will have to make do with my company only."

"Please, don't say that, my king. While it is unfortunate that Remin won't join us, I will be happy to spend some time with you as well. Come, sit down. There is much to talk about."

And indeed, there was. The exchange started with the usual pleasantries (Cyreia navigated them better than the last time, though perhaps that one event shouldn't be used as a measuring stick given the fact it had ended in an attempt on her life), but it quickly evolved into something more. Vestat truly seemed to be interested in her and what she was trying to do in Athea. Cyreia assured him that she wasn't about to implement any hasty reforms, that she was still learning and wasn't nearly arrogant enough to believe governing a country would be the same thing as leading a few units. Remin, she had told him, helped her immensely. That didn't surprise their host. ("Oh, Remin is wonderful, isn't she?" Cyreia had to agree with him. She really was, in many different ways.) Then Cyreia proceeded to ask him questions about his region; he answered to the best of his ability, at least as far as she could tell, and it was all really enlightening. The two parted on good terms and a promise of spending more time together later. Perhaps we could even become friends one day. For now, though, Cyreia wanted to see whether her wife felt better. She took some sweet pastries from the kitchen - did Remin even like such things? - and returned back to their room. Knocking lightly on the door, Cyreia entered.

"Remin? You must be hungry, so I brought you... well, something. I don't know what these things are called, but they look delicious," she put the tray on their night table and looked at Remin with concern. "How do you feel?"
 

Conifer

Member
Remin spent the time alone rather uselessly, admittedly. She changed her clothes they'd travelled in into something more comfortable, and then existed, aimlessly, barely wanting to leave this room. She should have asked Avther to stay - or at least, she wanted to have asked Avther to stay. She definitely shouldn't have done that. She trusted Tristan, but she didn't know his staff well - introducing the possibility for more rumors into the mix wouldn't look well on them. Mysteriously vanishing off to a shared bedroom for ages wasn't...exactly becoming, even if they were husband and wife and that sort of thing was expected of them. Regardless, Avther's presence was a wanted one at her side. He, in ways she felt uncomfortable with but at the moment craved, settled her. Or, at the very least, provided a worthy distraction.


But she'd sent him off, so the time was spent alone. Resting did genuinely sound like a fine idea, so she crawled herself into the bed. It was soft and large, and the blankets warm. An easy thing to settle into. She never managed to fall asleep by the time Avther returned, but she managed to pull her thoughts to different things, focusing on the things they had to solve - the council, mainly, and who would be the most likely for the advisors to submit as recommendations, and who among them would be good replacements. It filled her thoughts for long enough that when Avther returned she didn't feel quite as overwhelmed as she had when they first arrived, and sat up to greet him and his pile of treats.


"Better." She says, honestly, as she reaches for the tray of food and takes one of the small pastries from it. "I- apologize for my behavior earlier." It crumbles a bit in her touch, but more so in her mouth as she bites into it, and it's delicious - the softness of the pastry, the light burst of fruit tucked within. "Did you manage to make it through the conversation without insulting anyone?" Remin teases lightly, confident that he hasn't really done much wrong in the hour they were apart. "Or should I venture out into the mess you've made for me to tidy?"
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Don't worry about it," Cyreia waved her hand and smiled. "It's not like you've done anything wrong and, well, all of us get a bit overwhelmed at times. I can't exactly chastise you for that without being a huge hypocrite, now can I?" Honestly, she was just glad that Remin seemed a little closer to normal. Seeing her so sad and unsure of what to do had been strange, almost heart-breaking. Perhaps it was selfish, but Cyreia had come to consider her as her anchor. A tiny piece of stability in a turbulent, foreign world. No matter what she did, no matter how hard she messed up, Remin was always there to mend her wounds, both real and metaphorical. She... hadn't thought their marriage would turn out to be like this. A pleasant surprise for sure.

"Who, me?" Cyreia raised her eyebrow, feigning surprise. "Your doubts insult me, Remin. You should know by now that I'm a master of diplomacy." She tried to remain serious, genuinely tried, but her lips curled up in a lop-sided smile practically against her will. That happened to her often in Remin's presence. Just... having fun, even if the circumstances weren't all that amusing. "No, it went alright. I think I even managed to make a good impression. We talked about various things and the lord doesn't seem to perceive me as a bloodthirsty monster, so that's a win in my book." She paused for a moment, trying her best to recall the events of their small meeting. "I'd wager that he missed you, though. He spoke very kindly of you. Would you like to join us for the dinner later? Not that I'm pressuring you. If you don't want to, I can make up something about you having a fever." After getting to know the lord for a bit, Cyreia was convinced that she could handle him on her own. If Remin still needed to rest, she needed to rest, end of.
 

Conifer

Member
Warmth spiraled gently through her at the sight of Avther's crooked smile, and any lingering bad mood felt itself gently tugged away with his renewed presence at her side. "Yes, I'll certainly join for dinner. I miss him as well - it will be good to spend sometime time with him again." They had never been terribly close, except for in their early youths when their families found the other in close proximity - but that's what happens when you're a child in nobility and finally manage to find someone who isn't at least ten years older than you. A friendship happens whether you aim for it or not - but there was still affection there all the same, tucked away in memories of that time. And, she knew, cluttered in the mess of consolation letters she never had the heart to look through or throw away are a few from him. "Responsibility's made me a terrible friend to him, I'm afraid."


"But," she says, finishing off her pastry. "We have some time before that. Is there anything that interests you? He won't mind us exploring.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"I am more familiar with that feeling than I would have liked," Cyreia sighed. It had never occurred to her before how similar their situations were in some respects. Of course, it made sense not to look for comparisons. Remin was highborn and she just a commoner; someone who had, at times, struggled just to be able to eat every day. Their circumstances couldn't have been more different and yet they were both bound by the same kind of duty. Cyreia, too, had left behind people she considered to be her friends. Men who would have died for her had they gotten the opportunity. But alas, king Loran had made his decision and Cyreia had obeyed. It still weighed on her mind from time to time, but what was she to do? Write letters? Laughable. Most of them didn't have a real home for letters to be delivered to and, besides, she didn't know what to write about. Their friendship had been born out of shared experiences. Now, though? Their lives had gone in completely separate directions.

"Hmm. I can't say that I'm too excited about the prospect of waiting for the dinner idly," Cyreia admitted. She had never liked inactivity; there were always things to do, places to discover and each second spent doing nothing was a second wasted. "If you're up for it, we can go for short a walk." It might be nice to spend some time outside and use their own legs instead of riding horses for once. Cyreia loved horse-riding, but it did get slightly uncomfortable if you had to sit in the saddle for too long. A bit of exercise would do them good. "Do you know of some appropriate places? Perhaps a favorite route from when you were a child?" Remin knew the castle and its surroundings, after all, so she surely had a better idea of what was worth seeing here.
 
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Conifer

Member
The gardens are smaller than those of the castle at home, but they’re just as beautiful - trellises of roses grow over the pathway in all sorts of colors, as fountains happily bubble away, and as promised, off in the distance, the croaking of frogs can be heard as the day grows to early evening. She begins to wander that way, and shifts her hold on Avther to loosely hold his hand. She is allowed comfort, especially when they’re finally without too many prying eyes, and he brings her some whether she likes it or not.

“One summer,” She says, gesturing over to a small round. “We barely left over there the entire time I visited. I was...eight? Ten? We just set up a makeshift tent and camped over there, the three of us. We had to come inside for dinners, but then we just went right back outside. The weather was perfect for it. I think our parents were grateful to have all of us out of their hair for a while. It was…” She trails off for a moment. “Gods, I wish that it was all that easy now. No-- poisonings, no errant magic, no ever-growing list of issues to fix. Just feeling sick over eating too many strawberries and the annoyance of insect bites from sleeping in the garden.”

She barely paid attention as they wandered - they did end up at the frog pond at some point, but instead of frogs, all they saw were various ripples in the murky water as they approached. The frogs had learned the lesson, apparently, of lingering in the air for too long when she approached. Not that she’d even dream of trying to catch them now - she’d end up covered in pond water with no frogs to her name. So they walked on from there, wandering through the garden, back towards the castle.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
There was a jolt of happiness when Remin grabbed her hand. It may have been silly, but it made her feel, well, wanted. Not merely tolerated through gritted teeth as she had been for the first few days, no. Just genuinely welcome, both in Athea and in Remin's life. She knew, of course, that getting too attached to that particular delusion was stupid. That Remin only touched her because they were alone and, once in public, they would have to act like strangers again. It didn't mean that she couldn't enjoy the present, though. Right now, Cyreia could pretend that they were two ordinary people on a stroll exchanging silly stories about their childhoods. There was no harm in that, right?

"It is... difficult, that much is true," Cyreia said as Remin expressed her desire for simpler times. "For me as well. I'm not sure whether it will ever get easy, to be honest." It would have been so simple to spin lies, to offer her a false comfort of 'everything would be alright', but she respected her too much for any of that. Remin could handle the truth. "I don't think that it's all bad, though. At least we have the power to do something meaningful with our lives. We can build a world where other people only have to worry about eating too many strawberries." Such was their duty; Remin had acquired it through birthright, she through conquest. Cyreia grimaced, suddenly all too aware of the naivety behind her words. "Alright, that may have been an overstatement, but you know what I meant." Could she really build something after dedicating so much of her energy to destruction, though?

The garden was lush, the grass was singing and the seriousness their conversation had devolved into felt wholly out of place. Instead of pursuing it further, Cyreia looked at the approaching silhoutte of the castle. "This scenery sort of reminds me of the time I went to explore a castle ruin not far from my village. I was a kid and I thought I would find hidden treasure there. Long story short, I fell into a hole in the floor and couldn't get out. Everyone was looking for me, but it still took them two days to find me and when it finally happened, I thought my mother was going to end me." She smiled, perhaps a bit sadly, but with fondness. "Oh, my poor mother. I caused her more grief than I should have. I was a terrible, terrible brat."

By that point, the two of them reached the castle, albeit a different section of it; more specifically, the restored tower. Cyreia stepped aside to let Remin pass first, leaning on the tower a bit in the process. It was a good thing that she had done that, too, because if not for the support, she would have collapsed. The blood in her veins turned into mercury somehow and the entire world disappeared. All she could see in that moment was a heap of broken images. Shattered glass, debris, blood, screams - those terrible screams - and also the spark of magic that had started it all. It couldn't have lasted more than a few seconds, but once again, Cyreia felt exhausted by the experience. She was panting, her back still against the tower, apparently unable to move. "Alright," she said slowly, "I think I just saw some people get killed." So much for magical accidents not happening in the future. Cyreia would have been annoyed if she wasn't so affected by how real the vision had seemed instead. Hauntingly, mercilessly so. Almost real enough to convince her of her own death.
 
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Conifer

Member
She couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of a young Avther adventuring in the ruins of some castle somewhere, painting the picture in her head of a long-limbed child equipped with wooden sword, making his way down ruined halls in search of fragments of something beautiful - at the time, it must have been terrifying for all involved, but now it had aged into amusing sweetness. “I think we were all brats,” She gently squeezes his hand, “I’m sure she was just glad to see you safe.”

Remin barely thought of where their footsteps took them, enjoying the conversation the two of them were wrapped up in too much to pay the attention she really should have - because eventually, they ended up in the very place she absolutely didn’t want to go. It was fine. It was going to be fine. They would walk past it, she would lead them away from it once they were, and it would be fine. There wasn’t anything left to hurt her here, just memories. She would make it past them.

“Avther?” She turns to face him when he doesn’t immediately follow behind her , but his face leaves her floundering - he looks awful, truly. He looks like he’s seen the ghosts that are following her, but even then, she’s not expecting the words that come next. “What--” She falters, reaching for the wall herself, but gods, no, she can’t touch that. Not the very walls that fell. Her hand pulls away sharply and she stumbles a bit with the sudden movement. “What was that, my king?”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"I... I'm not entirely sure," Cyreia admitted in a hoarse voice. Her throat was dry and her own thoughts felt distant, beyond her grasp. Almost as if they were behind a glass wall; still ultimately there, but so inaccessible that they may as well have not existed at all. In that jumbled mess of different stimuli, Cyreia only recognized fear and pain. They didn't belong to her, that much she knew instinctively, but that knowledge didn't make those feelings any less intense. She opened her mouth and closed it, and then she did it again; the words just didn't come to her. "Magic, again, I suppose," Cyreia finally said after collecting her scattered thoughts. Was it always going to make her feel like this? How did Atheans even manage to exist with the constant threat of similar incidents looming over their heads? She needed a tutor, and she needed him fast. That would have to wait for now, though.

"I had... I don't know, a vision? It felt like that to me." If Atheans had a different term for what she had gone through, Cyreia didn't really care at the moment. The word 'vision' seemed descriptive enough. "There was... no real context to it, so I don't think I understood it fully, but people died here. That's what I know for sure." The bitter aftertaste of death still lingered on her tongue, all too recognizable and overpowering. "Something happened in this tower. It collapsed, I think." Certainty rang in her voice. Cyreia knew what she had seen, knew it to be true. Despite it being all cryptic and fragmented, it couldn't have been fake. Magic was a dangerous thing to play with, but not even the greatest opponents of its usage could deny its power. That was what made it dangerous in the first place. "Someone made it collapse. I could sense something... unnatural in the structure of that tower. A presence of magic."
 

Conifer

Member
“--no,” She stammers. Her legs feel like jelly beneath her. There’s a bench nearby, but the fifteen feet feel like fifteen miles and she can’t even dream of making it over to it. She’s a sinking ship, trapped in the middle of nothingness, and trying desperately to stay afloat. Avther needs her to keep herself above the water. She reaches for him and pretends that the desperation isn’t on her behalf - “It was an accident.” She insists, likewise pretending that the panic in her voice isn’t for herself. “I don’t know what you saw, but-- it was an accident. It collapsed, but it was an accident.” An accident was comfortable. An accident, she was used to. An accident didn’t re-open old wounds. She’d accepted it. And besides-- it not being an accident didn’t make any sense. The security had been foolproof - no one had approached the castle the whole time they had been there, and nothing suspicious had been noticed. It had been an accident. A tragic accident, but an accident. “You’re wrong. Whatever you saw-- magic’s weird. Sometimes it’s not right.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia furrowed her brows. None of it made a lick of sense. Why did she object so adamantly? Remin had no idea what she had seen. Why deny the truthfulness of her words, then? And why did she look so... so invested all of a sudden? It felt as if her brain was full of tiny needles and trying to think only embedded them deeper. "Remin, let's... let's just sit down for a bit. I don't feel too good." Remin seemed to be almost nauseous as well, so she would probably benefit from it, too. Either way, Cyreia didn't wish to discuss this further before reaching some semblance of stability. Through sheer resolve, she managed to get to the bench before her legs buckled under her. God, this is even worse than the last time. Shouldn't it be getting easier? Apparently not. Cyreia then closed her eyes for a few seconds, trying to organize her thoughts. She was in no mood to argue right now, but she was equally unwilling to let this go. That had never been her strong point.

"I know what I saw, Remin," Cyreia began, her voice firm but calm. It was the tone of a man convinced of his own truth. "Someone was absolutely involved. Everything was hazy and unclear, true, but that thread of magic shone through all of those images. Why do you even...." The words died in her throat as she remembered Remin's earlier behavior, her sorrow and also her confession. The way she had spoken of memories too painful to be forgotten. "Oh. I'm... I'm sorry. I didn't know." She still didn't, not really, but it was getting a bit clearer now. Cyreia looked at her wife, equally tired and full of regret. "Who were these people, Remin?" Was it too insensitive to demand answers now? Perhaps, but those people had been murdered. She couldn't just ignore a murder.
 

Conifer

Member
She manages to make it to the bench, sinking down onto it in a clumsy, disjointed heap of dress and desperation. She doesn't speak for a moment, but when she does, she says "The late king and queen," instead of 'my parents' because the abstraction makes it easier to get the words out with any sense of stability. Not by much, but it does. She takes an uneasy breath in, and then lets it out again. She can handle this. It's just a conversation - and one she was going to have to have with him eventually anyways. "Just over a year ago. A few months before the war began to end. There was a rumored attack on the castle, so we came here for safety for a few weeks. And then hallway through, in the middle of the night, the wing of the castle where they slept collapsed." She's not foolish enough to think the war would have turned out any differently had that happened. They were destined to lose since the beginning - sheer numbers, never mind that Athea hadn't been prepared. But it might have turned out different, or lasted a little longer. For better or worse. Early surrender had protected some. Had allowed men that might have died to return to their homes, had allowed people to begin rebuilding their lives. There was no changing what had happened anyways, so it was pointless to linger on. "It was an accident." She insists, once more.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Oh. Her parents. Cyreia knew that they were dead, of course, but nobody had bothered to inform her about the circumstances of their demise. Not that she had cared. Perhaps it had been heartless of her, but it had been difficult to mourn complete strangers amidst the turbulent changes in her own life. Now they weren't strangers, though, or at least not entirely. They were Remin's parents. They were also people she had seen die, even if it had technically happened a year ago. Deep in her heart, she felt a pang of guilt for not giving a damn before. It had been a normal, human reaction. She didn't know, couldn't have known and blaming herself now was exceedingly pointless, but still. Cyreia looked at the ground, unsure of how to proceed.

What to say in such a situation? There was nothing that could fix it, nothing that could bring them back, and so many things that could go wrong. "I'm sorry. I really am," she practically whispered and, without thinking of consequences, embraced Remin tightly. Was her consolation worth anything? Probably not, but if nothing else, Cyreia wanted Remin to know that she wasn't alone in this. That it was alright to grieve; that she didn't have to be strong for once, not here in this garden where nobody would judge her. It had taken her years to be able to speak about her own mother with some degree of comfort. After just one year, Remin's wounds must still have been fresh. God, she had probably still been grieving when they had gotten married. "I... well. I know that it must be hard for you. It probably sounds hollow, but I do. I apologize for bringing it up." I also apologize for not being able to let your pain sleep. She wanted to give Remin a few moments of respite, but after that, Cyreia would definitely ask more questions. No matter what she thought - or wanted to think, really - the old king and queen had been murdered. They deserved justice and Remin deserved to know who to thank for the death of her parents.
 

Conifer

Member
Remin hesitates before letting herself settle against him, head resting against his shoulder, taking the few moments of silence that hung between them to re-center herself. It had all already happened, accident or not. She’d done her mourning as best she could - there wasn’t time to dredge all of that up again, especially not if what Avther had seen was any form of right. Despite what she’d said...visions like that, in her experience (which was admittedly not a ton, besides from stories she’d been told) weren’t often incorrect. If he’d seen something, or felt something strange, then...Remin pulls herself away from his chest in order to talk better with him when she’s ready to push past her emotions, but lingers close as she can. If it hadn’t been an accident, then her parents deserve some sort of justice for what had happened.
“You’re sure of what you saw?” She asks. She doesn’t doubt him. He hasn’t done anything to gain her distrust, and this, certainly, wouldn’t be the place for him to do so. There’d be no point to it. But she asks all the same, needing that confirmation. "It was intentional, and not just...exceptionally poor luck?"
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Despite everything, Remin recovered fast. Even though she had appeared so fragile before, almost ready to break at any moment, that weakness was replaced by composure within minutes. On the night of their wedding, Cyreia had thought that Remin's apparent softness hid a steel core. She hadn't been wrong about that, but the extent to which it was true still surprised her. Still, like a few times before, she was thankful for that strength of hers. At least they could talk about the murder without Cyreia feeling terrible for forcibly opening the old wounds. In her kindness, Remin opened them on her own.

"I am," she responded quietly and put a stray strand of hair back behind Remin's ear. "I wish I could say I wasn't, but I am. There was, very clearly, an intent behind those actions." How did she know? Cyreia had no real answer to that question, but in the same way her body knew how to breathe without ever being taught how to do so, she just.... understood how to read the vision. The knowledge was and wasn't hers, existing simultaneously somewhere inside and outside of her mind, and despite not being able to explain it in rational terms, she knew that she could rely on it. "There is always a reason to want your rulers gone." Even the two of them had had the opportunity to learn that the hard way despite the short duration of their reign. "As terrible as it sounds, it is true. Tell me, Remin. Who else was here with you? Who stood to gain something? And who told your family about that alleged attack on your castle? Because I can assure you that we never planned to do that." Their home had always been off limits. King Loran had explicitly wanted to keep all of them alive because, well, because he had intended to control Athea through the old monarchy. Cyreia supposed that that had been exactly what had happened in the end.
 

Conifer

Member
She feels brittle and fragile as they push through this - like an eggshell, already cracked, the liquidy bits inside just trying to seep out of whatever bit of tiny chasm they can find. There isn’t time for that, though. There’s not time for broken eggs, just bandages smashed over the broken bits until some other time where being broken won’t lead to something else terrible, and, ideally, where Avther won’t see. They’re wed, and she trusts him, but she’s not stupid. She’s not as naive as she’s sure Eupriunia wants her to be. Even if Avther doesn’t intend it now, any little weakness she shows can and likely will be used against her when they get down into the mess that is the fact that she’s not truly the ruler here anymore and that ‘here’ isn’t really something independant anymore. She’s well-liked enough by the people (or was, Gods, before this whole traitor mess) that Remin knows that she’s a tool to be used. If she wasn’t of use, she doubted she would even still be alive. She would hold steady, and she would shatter when she was safe to.

The brush of Avther’s fingers though her hair does little to make that easy.

“The news came from the capital. One of the council members, which...does little to vouch for its truth in light of recent events. But they were nowhere near here - it was just the three of us, Tristan, his sister, and fifteen of our people.” She thinks for a moment - or buys herself a moment to push away the lingering feeling of his hands in her hair. “Twelve guards who had been with us for years, mother’s lady in waiting, one of the advisors, and an errandwoman. Then whoever else he had on staff at the time, of course.” No one of note. No one who whose pasts hadn’t been vigorously searched though, no one they didn’t trust. There wasn’t time to make risks like that in times that were as tense as they had been. “No one gained anything from their deaths besides myself, and I-- I wouldn’t. I couldn’t, even if I would.” She knows he’s not accusing her but she feels the need to defend herself all the same. “My magic can knot thread. It can’t bring down walls.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia shrugged. "Well, perhaps they genuinely thought that we were going to attack the castle. That is within the realm of possibility." Sometimes, rumors were just that. Rumors. Information traveled fast in times of war and it got distorted in the process even faster. The councilors had poisoned them, that much was true, but Cyreia also knew that before the incident, they had governed Caldora wisely. Despite not having any love for them whatsoever, she didn't want to be careless in her accusations. It was entirely possible that they had been loyal to the old king and queen in a way they weren't willing to reproduce for an invader. God, her head hurt. "It might not have been a malicious action on their part," she continued despite that, trying her best to see the picture Remin had painted with her words in its entirety even through the pain. "But they could also have been involved more indirectly. You know, cooperated with someone." That someone, of course, had to have been present. Remin apparently thought along the same lines as her, but reached a completely different conclusion somehow.

"I don't think that you killed your parents, Remin," Cyreia said, clearly shocked by her need to defend herself. The thought hadn't even crossed her mind. It was difficult to imagine her committing such a heinous act. Her behavior in Easthaven had told her all she needed to know about this aspect of her personality. The wide-eyed terror she had tried to hide so hard? That hadn't been the reaction of someone who had killed before, or even seen death from up-close for that matter. "Besides, you didn't even gain anything. You were the sole heir and therefore destined to end up on the throne anyway. You just... lost your parents." Cyreia shook her head, then she took a deep breath and massaged her temples shortly before speaking up once again.

"I presume that you trust your staff fully." Staff also had had nothing to gain from their employers' deaths unless, of course, they had been bribed to do the deed. Either way, the trail definitely had to lead to someone important, to someone who could plausibly take advantage of the resulting power vacuum. Cyreia supposed that technically, it could have been the work of a madman with no real plan as well, but that didn't seem too likely. The simplest answers were also usually the right answers. Cyreia gulped. God, this isn't going to be pleasant, is it?

"So, Lord Vestat and his sister. Are they proficient in magic at all?" It was a terrible, terrible insinuation, especially after he had welcomed her in his mansion so warmly, but she just had to ask. Speaking objectively, his family was suspicious. The king and queen had been killed in their castle, by a magical trap of all things. Hadn't the Vestats been in the best position possible to set such a trap up?
 

Conifer

Member
It was a horrible accusation, but -- but it was a question that had to be asked. Remin understood that, as much as she hated thinking about that possibility, as much as she wanted to say no, they couldn’t have, they wouldn’t have- their families were friends. Avther was just covering all the bases, and...well, those were the only bases that were left to cover, and at the moment, they were looking incredible suspicious from his point of view. “...The both of them, yes.” Remin admits, reluctantly. “But-- neither of them gained anything from their deaths, besides an entire wing of a castle that needed rebuilt. But- yes. Yes, they’re both very powerful. Emelia is more a diviner than a user of practical magic, but…” She hesitates, knowing what horrible a light this is going to paint him in. “...the opposite is the case with Tristan.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
An uncomfortable silence enveloped them as Cyreia processed this information. Lord Vestat was a magic user, and a powerful one at that. The kind man she had shared a pleasant conversation with may have been a murderer. How did the proverb go? Never judge a book by its cover? "Well. You know what this looks like, right?" She didn't want to say it, didn't want to slander someone Remin had called her friend in a time when she didn't have many of them, but still. Facts spoke clearly. Besides, if he had really done it, then Vestat was no friend of hers at all. More like a venomous snake masquerading as one. "I'm... not saying that he did it. I don't know who did and I don't want to repay his hospitality with baseless accusations, but... He was there and he had the means to arrange something like that. That is more than can be said about most people, really." Cyreia closed her eyes for a moment. There was still the question of his motive, but the fact that Remin had said he hadn't benefited from their death didn't automatically make it true. Maybe she didn't realize. Maybe she didn't want to realize. Cyreia could sympathize. Sometimes, it was just easier to reject reality altogether instead of facing it. "Easier" didn't necessarily mean "better", though.

"Was there really no benefit at all? It doesn't have to be a material thing. For example, did your parents anger him somehow?" An upopular decision or two could have easily cost them their lives. History was full of rulers who had met their demise for similar reasons. "What about a claim to the throne?" Cyreia asked after that. "I don't know how it works in Athea, but in Eupriunia, a highborn man would likely be given preference over a king's daughter. If he was popular enough, at least, and perhaps distantly related."
 

Conifer

Member
Remin sighs, thinking on it for a long moment. “No, there’s truly nothing. No argument, no disagreement, unless it was kept from me.” Which...was a terrifying thought. Obviously, there were things she didn’t know. That was inevitable. But something that could have led to a big enough of a rift, when just that morning they’d been chatting happily over breakfast...the idea of something like that being tucked away was terrifying. She shakes her head slightly, tugging at her hair for want of something to do with her hands. “He’s not eligible for the throne - it doesn’t work in that same way here. Only through marriage can people not of the royal family take the throne, unless there’s no heirs. He might have been eligible were I out of the picture, but I was unharmed. It happened on the entire other side of the castle. Avther, these accusations-” She says, turning to face him more fully, face decorated with fright and worry. “-these are dangerous.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia sighed. "I know, Remin. Dangerous and unkind. Who else is there, though?" That was the problem. It couldn't have been anyone else, but she couldn't think of a strong enough motive. He was a family friend, ostensibly with nothing to gain. An honorable man, too. What if she was simply wrong in this case? Cyreia could have overlooked a vital piece of information. It had happened before and it could easily be happening again now, especially with this skull-splitting headache. Maybe I just need some rest now. Important decisions shouldn't be influenced by this... this post-magical haze. Yes, that made sense. Cyreia knew that she should call it a day, excuse herself from attending the dinner and sleep, sleep, just sleep until every second of her existence wasn't tainted by pain anymore. Perhaps she would manage to reach kinder conclusions then. Once again, though, it was impossible for her to let it go.

"If you truly trust him, Remin, then we should confront Lord Vestat and tell him about the vision. Your parents were murdered in his very castle. He failed to protect his guests, who were also his friends and his rulers. Even if it wasn't his fault, his honor has been stained by this oversight. He, too, deserves to know so that he can help us find the murderer and regain his honor in the process." It was a logical step to take unless, of course, he had been the one who had murdered them. Cyreia looked at Remin with a blatant challenge in her eyes. Did she trust him enough to stake their lives on it? Because if Cyreia was right about his involvement, then telling Vestat anything amounted to a death sentence.
 

Conifer

Member
This felt like Easthaven all over again. This helplessness in the face of having to make a decision she, herself, is involved in - Remin falters, useless in the face of the inability to just-- have things sorted out. She can’t keep her hands clean of this. She can’t make a choice and let the consequences play out how they may, with the only true hurt to her being more choices to make and a growing guilt to shoulder. The challenge is clear on Avther’s face, and she’s turned to stone as a result, barely able to move enough to breathe.
She trusts Tristan. She has no reason not to, besides these accusations that come from the person installed in order to take over her country - who, yes, she trusts more than she should, who has given her no reason yet to distrust him besides his country of origin, who didn’t have magic until so recently, who could be tricking her, who could use this so easily as a way to break her down.

But that made little more sense than Tristan did. What would Avther gain, from deceiving her like this? He needed her to win over the country, or there would be a whole other mess on Eupriunia’s hands. And the magic from the day before wasn’t some trick, and he seemed to genuinely be shocked by it - and this sort of exhaustion was hard to fake as convincingly as he was. He was a soldier - not an actor. Every option felt like a reach, and not one she was confident making.
“We--” She starts, then pauses, and then takes the coward’s way out. Decisions can’t bite you if there’s no decision made. “Either way, we need to discuss it with him. Regardless of the truth.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
The challenge on her face slowly dissolved into something that looked suspiciously similar to dread. Cyreia hadn't expected Remin to just... agree with her suggestion. She had presented it as something absurd, as a way to for her to realize that Vestat couldn't be trusted, not as a plan to be followed! God, this was going to turn into a catastrophe, she could feel it in her bones. Confronting a powerful magic user who probably had a very good reason to hurt them while barely being able to walk? Yes, why not, a brilliant idea! I suppose that I can congratulate myself for that one. I came up with it, after all, not Remin. Good thing that everyone who considers me to be a competent strategist is in Eupriunia right now, otherwise I'd never live this down.

"Alright," Cyreia said in a calm voice despite wanting to scream, "alright. No problem." It absolutely was a problem, but they were going to handle it somehow. How? That she didn't know, but she had faith in her abilities. Then again, perhaps that faith was unsubstantiated given her recent mishaps. "Just... not now. Look, Remin, I need to recover first. I know that you trust your friend and I get it, I really do, but even you have to see that the possibility of him having done it exists. And if he is as powerful as you say he is... Well, I am not arrogant enough to believe that I'd be able to defend you or even myself if he decided to kill us as well." Remin had to be aware of that potential outcome, right? It seemed clear as day to Cyreia. "I promise that we will talk to him eventually. Can you promise to me not to bring it up in front of him before I'm ready?" If she even could get ready for something like that. Her forces had encountered magic users during the conquest of Athea; that much was true. It was also true that they weren't invulnerable. With some careful maneuvering, they could be taken down quite reliably. This wasn't a battlefield, however, and Cyreia had no units to command here. One on one battle, she imagined, would probably turn out quite differently. The pitiful number of guards they had at their disposal likely wouldn't do much against someone who could collapse towers, either. The only way to neutralize a man like that, at least as far as she knew, was to knock him unconscious before he even realized what was happening. Except that we won't be able to utilize that moment of surprise because we're going to talk to him about it, duh. Sometimes, Cyreia hated her life.

"Speaking of being prepared, what kind of magic does he use? What should I expect? Is there some... I don't know, common theme to it?" It all boiled down to knowledge. Every battle did. If Cyreia gathered enough information, then perhaps this situation could be salvaged. Perhaps they would live. Maybe she was terribly, terribly wrong about all of this and they'd get to laugh at her paranoia later, but Cyreia always wanted to be prepared for the worst. Caution had served her well in the past.
 

Conifer

Member
“No, not now.” She agrees. “We’ll- control the situation as best we can. I’m not saying that he didn’t do it, I just-- We can’t just accuse him of it outright. We can’t barge in claiming murder. If we did that and he didn’t do it, then...gods only know how that might look on both of us. There’s enough people here that word of that would get out, and it won’t be favorable for us.” Remin sighs, shaking her head. “I’m not saying I’m positive he’s innocent. I’m just...” A coward, “...reluctant to jump to conclusions.”

This was all a mess. A terrible mess. They should just leave, find somewhere else to stay, and say nothing to anyone. Her parents were gone regardless of who did it, if someone did. There was no changing that. If Tristan had done it...there was nothing to suggest there would be a repeat of the event with anyone else, and if there was, then...that would be the proof they needed to be sure he’d done it the first time. It was a problem that would put itself to bed one way or another, and she wanted to let it. But they couldn’t. That wasn’t how to behave as rulers. They couldn’t just...ignore things that were issues until they fixed themselves. That’s how problems became so much worse.
“His talents are mostly influence over the material, at least to my knowledge. He doesn’t see the future, or have visions, or anything of the sort. He can just summon objects from elsewhere, or pour water from a pitcher without touching it...grow a fire. That sort of thing.” Fell a wing of a castle.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Not now. Those words, at least, brought Cyreia some peace of mind. Time was exactly what she needed. Time to regain her strength, time to craft a plan, time to breathe. "No, I understand you. I'm all too aware that I can be hasty." She knew that her temper could be a problem at times, so it was rather convenient to have someone who reined her in. Perhaps that prophecy about Remin ending up in an effective marriage had been right. Perhaps they could work well together.

"Ah, I see, the worst kind of magic to counter." Not that she had expected anything else by that point. Fate rarely tended to be that kind. It was maddening and terrible and dangerous and oh so familiar that she almost felt comforted by the situation somehow. Thinking of ways to escape from inescapable predicaments was just... something she did, really, or at least something she had done before king Loran had decided that she had deserved a throne for her accomplishments. Cyreia still wondered sometimes whether it had been her reward or her punishment. "So, here is what we'll do," she started slowly. "We will take him outside for a walk. We shouldn't confront him indoors for, uh, obvious reasons. What we need is a location without large trees, rocks and other potentially dangerous objects. A field, maybe? He will still be able to summon stuff, but let's not make it easy for him." Summoning had to be more energy-consuming than manipulating objects that were already there, right? Cyreia didn't know much about magic yet, but she had already learned the hard way that every miracle had a hefty price tag attached to it. It only made sense that the greater the miracle, the greater the price. "We won't... accuse him, not really, we'll just talk to him about the vision and watch his reactions. How does that sound? Any concerns?" Even though Cyreia spoke as if everything was set in stone, that couldn't be further from truth. If Remin had something to contribute with, she absolutely wanted to hear it. They were in this together, after all.
 

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