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Fantasy All's Fair

Sub Genres
LGTBQ Friendly, Magical, Romance

Conifer

Member
“All of it’s a concern.” She replies, but she shakes her head, useless of any alternative. Everything’s going to be a concern regardless of how well thought out this plan is. “But-- the things you’ve laid out make as much sense as anything.” She runs a hand over her face as if, when she looks up, all this will be neatly sorted out and tucked away. “There’s a winery and vineyard nearby. We could propose a trip out there for tomorrow, once you’ve recovered, at dinner.” Gods, they had to have dinner with him. She had almost been looking forward to it before all of this. “It’s not entirely an open field, but...there wouldn’t be too much for him to use against us, should he. Just some trellises of grapes.” There were likely better places for this. Fields, certainly, more void of dangers than what she proposed, but...this at least he might agree to without suspicion. They’d journeyed out there, once or twice, with their families. Visiting and touring wasn’t entirely strange. She wasn’t sure how to justify Avther having his sword on him, which would make her feel far more comfortable with this whole situation, but that was a problem for later. “We’ll have a lovely morning out, ply him with some drink,” which she had no desire to partake in any time soon, “and take a tour into the fields. Talk to him there.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Yes. Yes, that could work. Good idea, Remin." Was she being patronizing? Cyreia didn't mean to, but she had slipped into her old mindset of a commander during all of this and she had always, always made a point of praising people for their suggestions. Her subordinates had appreciated it, but Remin was no subordinate of hers. Would she mind? "We will tell our men to hide nearby, too," Cyreia continued regardless of her worries. The order would definitely come off as suspicious, there was no way it wouldn't, but she didn't have to explain herself. They would understand it all later. Or maybe not. "Aside from that, I suppose we'll just have to get a bit lucky. I don't think there are more precautions we can take." Not very reassuring, but that was just the way these things worked. A solid plan could tilt the scales of probability in your favor, true, yet luck could never be eliminated from the equation fully.

"Let's go, then. I need to rest before that goddamn dinner." For a moment, Cyreia contemplated not going at all. The option seemed tempting. Then again, avoiding the dinner entirely would mean leaving Remin alone with a man who had possibly murdered her parents and Cyreia would swallow glass before allowing that to happen. She was her wife. Duty commanded her to accompany her. Well, it was that, certainly, but not just that. More than anything, Cyreia just wanted to help because she happened to like Remin.

Cyreia stumbled her way back to their bedroom, relying equally on Remin and handrails to get there. This is almost starting to look like a tradition. "Wake me up for dinner, please," she said before falling asleep almost immediately. The period of rest was too short for her to recover fully, but it did help. If nothing else, Cyreia could handle some social interaction now. Let's see if I can handle it without ruining everything, too.

The dinner was... awkward. The cook had gone above and beyond to impress the royal couple, but Cyreia hardly touched anything. She just didn't have the appetite. Her recent experiences with being poisoned during a different feast may have played its role in that, too, but mainly, she just didn't feel comfortable. It was difficult to relax with Vestat sitting so close to her now. Still, Cyreia tried her best to re-create the pleasant conversation from before; tried and failed. Her heart just wasn't in it anymore. How could it be after what they had discovered? She seemed stifled and pensive even as she told jokes, the burden on her shoulders almost visible. If Lord Vestat considered her behavior to be strange, he didn't say anything; with Remin present, he focused mostly on her anyway.

"How are you enjoying your stay in my home, Remin? I hope it is still to your liking. There are a lot of memories within these walls, don't you think?" he smiled at her and took a sip from his glass of wine.
 
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Conifer

Member
She lingered as Avther slept. Venturing into the halls made uneasiness settle into the pit of her stomach when she tried, as if she was expecting Tristan to emerge from behind any door or corner and accuse her of conspiring against him. There’s no way he could have known, as there was no one in the garden with them, and anyone peering out the windows would only have seen the closeness of a new couple and perhaps the emotion of her sharing her past with him. There was nothing suspicious to be seen, and there were certainly no ears among the roses. Still, the irrational fear kept her constrained to the bedroom, where she browsed the bookshelf for something to idly read until it was time to wake her husband.

Dinner was an equally nervewracking affair. Delicious, in spite of her lack of appetite, but dining with people she couldn’t bring herself to fully trust was rather tainted for the rest of forever. She made a note to herself to compliment the chef after, though - recognition was deserved for this much work put into a meal.

Remin bit back a reaction at his phrasing, taking a sip of her drink - water. Water was safe, she hoped. He didn’t mean anything by it, she was almost sure, but it still was a bit too pointed for her tastes, and it left her even more on edge than she had already been. But pretending is what she’s good at. “There is.” She agrees. “I was telling Avther earlier about the times we would spend in the garden.” It feels dangerous, to talk with him like this, as if there was nothing wrong. But maybe there wasn’t; they didn’t have any real proof that he was involved besides a small amount of coincidence. Someone else might have managed to sneak into the castle and bring the wing down while they slept. It wasn’t entirely impossible. “And showed him the frog pond. Apparently my frog luring abilities have faded with time, though - none of them decided to pay us a visit.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Perhaps the art of frog catching is only accessible to children," Vestat smiled, full of fondness. It seemed so sincere that in that moment, Cyreia almost felt bad for suspecting him. Almost. She wasn't at fault here for noticing the obvious. Besides, some people wore their kind nature as armor and those were the most dangerous of them all. Remain vigilant, she reminded to herself. "Ah, I can still remember those competitions. You never did let me win."

This was getting increasingly more awkward for multiple reasons; not just because of the possibility of him being a murderer, but also because Vestat and Remin appeared to be so close. Listening to the conversation almost felt like... well, eavesdropping, ruining an intimate moment. Cyreia would have left them alone under normal circumstances, but she couldn't, not now. Moreover, why was she getting annoyed by his description of the past events? It made no sense, especially since the memories were so warm. It hadn't bothered her when Remin had talked about them, so why now?

"It makes me happy that you are able to find a semblance of peace here. Gods know that it must be difficult for you two now," Vestat continued. "My king, you seem to be troubled. Do you not like the food?"

Cyreia looked up from her plate; it was still almost full, the deliciousness wasted on her. "No, it's very tasty, it's just that..." I don't feel like eating in the presence of a murderer. "... my head hurts." That was true as well. It only hurt faintly, a mere echo of the pain that had crippled her before, but it hurt nonetheless, so her answer sounded convincing enough.

"That is unfortunate. Would you like some herbs for the pain?"

"... That would be kind of you," Cyreia replied slowly, thinking of nothing but poison, poison, poison. Alright, now I am being paranoid. This would be too transparent, wouldn't it?

"I'll have them delivered to you later, then. Now that I think of it, we haven't spoken about your journey yet. Did anything notable happen?"
 

Conifer

Member
“Not this league of it, thankfully,” Remin replies, reaching beneath the table to find Avther’s hand and give it a soft, reassuring squeeze before returning her touch to herself. Despite her paranoia, she was confident enough that she, at least, was protected. If he wanted her dead, then she would have been dead a year ago. Avther might be another story entirely, but that would be achingly obvious. They’d check the herbs over later all the same, to veer on the safe side, or simply hope that a night of sleep would do Avther the good he needed done to be prepared for the morning’s activities. “But Easthaven was...unfortunate. They were being terrorized by bandits. Avther dispatched them relatively cleanly, but…” She shakes her head lightly, trailing off at the memory, but she brought it up intentionally - sure, it was a bit of a stretch, implying he’d dealt with them singlehandedly, but it offered some amount of protection tomorrow, she hoped.
“And, thanks to some people in Caldora, we’ve now reached five total attempts on my life. Unrelated - the council of Caldora will be asked to step down from their positions for reasons unreleased to the public.” There was a bit more danger in that comment. That tiny, nagging part of her wondered if the two events had been connected, but that was a stretch. He’d never liked them much either. “If you know anyone in the city that might make a good replacement, send word to my advisors?” An show of trust, an olive branch. She hated how calculated this had become, despite the warmth in her voice, and wondered what happened in some alternate world where she said the same things but meant them as fully as she wanted to.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
How does she even do it? Her parents had possibly died by Vestat's hand, not hers, and yet Remin seemed to be much more comfortable with the entire situation than she was. She probably wasn't, which made it all the more impressive. Cyreia would have to ask her for some acting tips later. If the last few days had been indicative of anything, then that skill in particular would be needed desperately. Would she even be able to pick it up at this point in her life, though? What if it was too late to change her modus operandi so drastically? Cyreia squeezed Remin's hand right back, thankful for that small gesture of support. Thankful for her just being there, really.

"You did, my king?" Vestat asked with some amount of surprise in his voice. "That sounds exceedingly dangerous."

"It isn't when you know what you're doing," she smiled, aware of Remin's intent behind sharing that story. Making threats, covert or not, was something she had a lot of experience with and while this could be interpreted as a normal exchange, it absolutely doubled as a threat as well. "Once a soldier, always a soldier. I'm afraid that I will never be free from my past entirely."

"That isn't a bad thing, my king. It is good to remember your roots. Then again, perhaps you should be a bit more mindful of your health considering your status. The country needs you now." Was that supposed to be a threat as well? It seemed perfectly polite, friendly even, and yet, yet she could detect the slightest hint of warning in his words. Maybe I'm just seeing what I want to see. Maybe she wasn't, though, and he had really just advised her to be a bit more humble. "My country needed me back then, too, even if my role was different. I don't believe that avoiding danger is some kind of moral imperative for those who wield power."

"Well, that is certainly... an unconventional approach," Vestat concluded. Cyreia couldn't decipher what he meant by that, but it probably didn't matter. Her position had been made clear, the message had been sent. Threats would not work on her in any capacity.

"Oh! What a terrible thing to speak so lightly about, Remin." He seemed to be genuinely shocked by her nonchalance. "I shall draft some suggestions for you and we can review them tomorrow, when my king is feeling better. Nevertheless, I am glad that you are safe now. You know that you will always find a safe haven here, right?"
 

Conifer

Member
It felt like someone dug a particularly sharp spoon into her guts and scooped them out at his mention of a safe haven, spilling them onto the dining table, laid bare and and plain for all to see. Her expression stayed warm despite, though tightness filled into the edges of it, tears pricking at her eyes. Shattering later. Not now. There was always the chance that he meant every word of it, and she had half a mind to bring up that night right here, at this table, just to have the whole thing settled and have some amount of peace of mind tonight, knowing at least the answer. She might end up dead by morning, but that would be a form of peace of mind.

She bites into a mushroom. It tastes vile in her mouth and she wants to spit it out, wants to spit this whole situation out, but there’s nowhere to go but through. She swallows it down and pushes on. She can’t bring it up. Not until tomorrow, not until when they were safer to do so, not until when guards were waiting in the wings, not until Avther didn’t feel half-dead with magic strain, for her kingdom if not for herself.

“That’s kind of you, Tristan,” She says softly, speaking plain and honest as she dares be. “I try to still find comfort here where I can.” A risk, to see the look on his face at the memory and help convince herself of his trust or treason. She moves on quickly, though, not wanting to dwell. “Speaking of easier times - do you remember when we toured the winery when Count Hester was visiting? I had the thought of visiting again with Avther. Show him how good, Athean-made wine is made instead of what he’s accustomed to. I’d love it if you’d come. It feels we haven’t had time to spend together in years.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Now it was Cyreia's turn to seek out Remin's hand and give it a squeeze. It felt hollow and worthless and performative, but she couldn't do more for her in that moment. Please, just be strong, Remin. The tears in her eyes weren't a problem; without context, Vestat would probably assume that she felt so touched by his exclamation that she couldn't help herself. Hell, if she played her cards right, crying could probably make her more sympathetic in his eyes. Less suspicious, too. Cyreia didn't want to see her like that, though, didn't want her to feel like that in the first place, and knowing that she had contributed to her misery by opening the old wounds was almost too much for her to bear.

"Of course I do, Remin. I think that it should make for a fine trip. If you only have limited time here, which you unfortunately do, then the winery is something you absolutely should see. I insist on coming with you," Vestat said, the warmth in his voice unwavering. "I can even give you a lecture about wine-making, should you be interested."

"Thank you, lord Vestat," Cyreia bowed her head slightly. "I am sure that you will prove to be an excellent guide." I am also sure that you will prove to be a traitor, though I really hope that I am wrong.

By that point, she had had enough of conversation. There was no joy to be found in it, not when she scrutinized each word for hidden betrayal, and they had already convinced Vestat to come with them. Remin, too, looked to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. No, nothing good would come from lingering here in this hall for longer than absolutely necessary. "Well, it has been a pleasant evening," Cyreia said, hoping that her lie sounded more believable than it did in her head, "but I'm afraid that I will have to excuse myself. The headache won't go away, so I'm starting to think that I should just sleep it away. My queen?" she turned to Remin and offered her her hand. "Would you like to go to sleep as well?" Perhaps that was too forward, too brazen, but Cyreia wanted to give her an opportunity to leave the room. At the moment, she didn't care about impressions. Vestat could think whatever he wanted. They were newly-weds, after all, and nobody could blame them for wanting to spend some time together.
 

Conifer

Member
She falters for a moment, pushing her plate aside and taking a sip from her water. “I’ll join you in a few minutes, my king.” Remin replies, stupidly, selfishly. While her relationship with Tristan is all fractured right now...it’s not broken, not yet. It’s held together with hope. Nothing else, and come morning, it’ll be shattered on the floor, but...as much as the whole situation makes her want to vomit, she has missed him.


But it’s as stupid as she thinks it is. As soon as Avther is gone from the room, she feels even more unsteady than she had just minutes before, and she’s trapped herself there for at least a small amount of time.

“It really has been nice to see you again, Remin.” He says, in the silence that the king’s leaving provides, once the door is closed.

“And you,” She agrees, softly. “Do you remember when all of this was easier?” She’s speaking to so many truths, and wonders if somehow he knows some of it.

“When you weren’t fielding assasination attempts?” He tries to joke, but it’s thin on his face, his genuine concern from before shining through once again.

“Among other things.”

He glances towards the door, where Avther had left, nodding his chin towards it. “Like getting married?”

“He’s...not bad. Really.” Remin insists, worried to put to show too much affection there, but worried to not show enough. It was impossible to tell what each person expected from their relationship. “He’s kind. He’s a good person, despite everything. There’s worse I could have.”

“And better.”

She gives him a tight smile before she replies. “You and I both know I wasn’t ever going to end up with ‘better’. It was always going to be political one way or another.”

The look he gives her is strange, and she can’t quite parse it, before he’s pulling himself to his feet, his chair thudding against the floor as he pushes it back. “The situation being what it was, yes. Anyways-- I should be off as well. Some things to handle tonight, if I’m to join you both tomorrow.”


Remin returns to their bedroom after they part, but lingers in the halls for longer than she needs to. There’s a small hope that Avther was exhausted enough to already be sound asleep by the time she reaches the room, but admittedly an equal hope that he’s not. Of course this had to be the first time they shared a room. The one night tucking herself away and not existing as she’s forced to for a while sounded better than anything, and she’s made to temper her emotions for fear of-- for fear of something. It didn’t matter what. She pulls open the door as quietly as she can, wondering which hope will win out.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Ah, well. If Remin wanted to speak with Vestat alone, then Cyreia would not stop her. She had no right to. It made sense, too; despite everything, Remin still considered him to be a friend. Surely they had much to talk about. "I see. Good night, then." For some reason, though, her chest felt heavy as she left the room. Was it worry? That, too, but something else was present as well. It took her a while to identify the other feeling as jealousy and it surprised her as much as it didn't. She, too, wanted to be so effortlessly close to Remin, wanted to share those kind of memories with her that made her long for the past. Nonsensical, petty and foolish, Cyreia thought, and nothing about her assessment was wrong, but knowing that didn't lessen the desire by any means. Perhaps she was just too tired for any of this. Yes, fatigue. An acceptable explanation. She would close her eyes, drift off to sleep and the strange thoughts would disappear. Tomorrow, there would be more pressing issue to deal with and Cyreia would forget about them entirely.

Maybe it was good that Remin stayed behind, at least in some respects; Cyreia could change into her sleeping robes without suffering from a small heart attack every time her wife looked in her general direction. That small comfort, of course, didn't solve the problem of them having to share a bed. I should just sleep on the floor again. The floor was the safest option, but also the most painful one. What if I wake up feeling even worse than before? What then? No, Cyreia had to be in her top condition tomorrow. Their lives could depend on it and she wasn't willing to risk them, not for something as silly. The bed was large, mercifully so, so both of them could use it without ever touching each other in the process. But what if Remin tried to? Oddly enough, the idea felt both terrifying and appealing at the same time. No, she won't do that. If anything, she should be the one suspicious of me, not the other way around. Cyreia had initiated the one kiss they had shared, after all. A precedent was there. A precedent. What if she was afraid to sleep in the same bed, too? Ever since that first night, they had both followed the unspoken rule of them sleeping separately. What if it hadn't been just for her benefit? What if Remin didn't want this, either? God, why does everything have to be so complicated? I just want to sleep!

When Remin entered the room, she found Cyreia sitting on the edge of the mattress, her head in her hands. "Ah, Remin," she looked up when she heard the door opening. "Um. Would you mind if I slept in the bed? I, uh, promise that I won't... bother you." That sounded terrible, but there was no way to phrase a request like this in a dignified manner. "I just, well, I want to make sure I that I'll sleep well. But if you aren't fine with this, I'll make do with the floor." Alright, maybe she was willing to risk their lives for something as silly. It would probably be fine either way, just a little more uncomfortable.
 

Conifer

Member
“Oh,” She pauses in the doorway, before stepping in and closing the door behind her. She’d forgotten about the whole bed issue until now. Everything else had piled up so much, and it felt so silly that this was even something that was still a problem, all the other ones considered. “After today, if anyone’s to take the floor, it’d be me. It’s far more important that you’re rested tomorrow than it is me.” She points out. If anything terrible happens, Remin’s useless in the face of it. Avther stands a chance of protecting them with more than words that will be useless by the time the worst has happened. “But I’m alright with it if you think sharing won’t disturb your sleep too much.”

Admittedly, the proximity was appealing. Despite her worries, her hesitations, her internal accusations...there was comfort in Avther’s presence. It was a far cry from their first night together in such short of a time, but there was something to be said about travelling and near-death experiences to make people grow closer, wasn’t there? She moves to her luggage, finding her sleeping clothes in the tidy collection and slipping behind a thin room divider to change. Sharing a bed was one thing, but she was too overwhelmed to let any more closeness between them tonight, and that certainly counted. “It’s a big bed, at any rate. We could try it, and if it’s terrible, then I’ll move to the floor.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Remin did have a point, certainly, but the prospect of her lying on the floor while she got to enjoy the soft mattress was bizarre. "What?" Cyreia raised her eyebrow, clearly scandalized. "No. You shouldn't have to do that. We'll just sleep together tonight. A lot of people do that, so I don't see why we can't." A solid argument, except that she wasn't like those hypothetical people who lived in their normal, uncomplicated marriages and didn't have to pretend they were something they weren't. It's not a big deal, she tried to convinced herself. We'll just sleep, that's all there is to it. That was true. There really would be no more than that, not now and not ever, but it was still difficult for her mind not to jump to certain associations. Fortunately, Remin was changing, so she didn't get to see her expression in that moment.

"I'm sure it will work out," Cyreia said as she tucked herself under the blanket, her eyes already closing on their own. This had been a long, long day. Tomorrow would be even longer. "Sleep well, Remin." With that, she retreated to her half of the bed, almost to the very edge of the mattress, and fell asleep.

By the morning, the magic-induced haze finally wore off. Cyreia felt good, refreshed even, but the plans they had made for this day didn't instill her with confidence. They'd still see them through, though. Remin deserved to get some conclusion to this mess, to know what had truly happened the day her parents had died. Only that could allow her to move on eventually. "Good morning," Cyreia smiled at Remin when she woke up; being used to getting up early had its benefits, such as being able to get changed into her normal clothes without the risk of being caught red-handed. "See? We survived. That's progress." Let's see if we can also survive our trip, Cyreia almost wanted to say, but she managed to stop herself just in time. Remin probably wouldn't appreciate this kind of humor the way her compatriots had. It hit too close to home, although that was, of course, the whole point.

Time flew quickly, definitely too quickly for her liking, and before she could really prepare herself for the trials they would be subjected to, they were suddenly standing in the courtyard, waiting for Lord Vestat. He didn't let them wait for long. "Remin, my king," he bowed, his eyes kind, but then his gaze lingered on the sword hanging around her waist and some of that warmth was replaced by caution. "Oh, wondering about this?" Cyreia pointed towards the weapon with a smile. "Just a habit, my lord. At this point, I consider my blade to be my good luck charm." Cyreia really did bring her sword almost everywhere, mainly because she felt vulnerable without its weight at her side, so it didn't even sound like a lie. Vestat, at least, seemed content with her explanation. "Well, my king, if it pleases you, who am I to judge?"

The winery wasn't very far from the castle, so they went on foot. Vestat spoke of the history of the place - it had apparently been built by his great-grand parents thanks to a bet that had gone too far - but Cyreia couldn't really follow the story. Not when her attention was consumed with watching... just about everything, really. Vestat, Remin, their surroundings, even herself; there would be no more magical accidents today if she could help it and Remin had said that increased awareness should prevent them from happening. The mere idea of becoming so weak again made her shudder. No, her focus had to remain sharp.

The winery itself was, frankly, charming. Rather small, but with a lot of love poured into it; all the plants looked to be carefully taken care of, the ever-present green was easy on the eyes and the air smelled of flowery sweetness Cyreia couldn't really categorize. An ideal place for a trip, or it would have been if her thoughts weren't too busy with images of death, betrayal and danger. Vestat insisted on tasting some of the local wine ("It would be a waste not to do so, my king,") and Cyreia had to comply, if only to appear less suspicous. She only drank sparingly, though, and when Vestat looked the other way, she spilled the contents of her glass covertly. Getting drunk would have been no better than spontaneously using magic again. Cyreia preferred to stay useful, thank you very much. The three of them proceeded to go check out the plantations from up-close, Vestat chatting with Remin the entire time. Now would be the good time to breach the topic, but how? Cyreia looked at Remin, hoping that her wife had some kind of idea. She certainly didn't. How to bring it up without accusing him immediately?
 

Conifer

Member
Remin spent the night tossing and turning, sleeping barely enough to get by the next day. If it wasn't memories of last time she'd laid in this bed plaguing her, it was the dread of what was to come tomorrow that kept her staring up at the ceiling, listening to the frogs croak away outside. Avther, at least, seemed to sleep peacefully, and she had to admit to no one the time she spent just watching him. Those were the few times that her mind went blessedly, relatively, quiet of the dread. There was something soft about him that wasn't present when he was awake, as if there was something he carried with him that he could only take a break of when he slept. She wanted to help him carry it, whatever it was, so that he could rest a little easier on his waking hours - and that thought wasn't nearly as terrifying as she thought it might be. Ah, well. Growing fond of him was only inevitable. Her thoughts wandered also to the kiss they'd shared, and when she would keep her thoughts away from something dangerous like that, she let them linger. Any other thoughts were equally dangerous tonight. What would it be like to kiss him again? Would he welcome it, or would he move away from her, as she'd done to him? Right now, it seemed that there would never be peace enough to find out the answers to those.


Morning left her inevitably left her tired. She must have dozed off at some point, because she woke to Avther awake and dressed and greeting her, but no amount of scrapped- together sleep was really going to be enough to face what they were facing today. "Good morning," she greets quietly as she sits up, forcing the exhaustion out of her voice and hoping it didn't write itself too plainly across her features.


That same exhaustion and inevitability led her to drinking a bit more wine than she really should have, as they toured around the winery. It was excellent wine, and her being entirely sober wasn't going to help them too much if it turned poorly. She didn't aim to get drunk, the dinner too fresh in her mind still, and she should keep her wits about her somewhat - but the looseness it brought made it all feel a bit less doomed, and made her able to keep up the fond - genuine, it seemed, on his part, and wanting to be genuine on hers - conversation that flowed between her and Tristan. She led the conversation until it met a point where she could lead easily into the real reason they were here, and then: "Last evening gave me too much time to think." She admits to Tristan - a worried woman confiding quietly to her friend, in appearance, but truly a desperate chance for him to confess or clear up this whole mess. "Was it ever determined what brought the wing of the castle down? It must have been something powerful.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Here we go, Cyreia thought as she resisted the urge to grab her sword. Of course, there was no reason to, not so far at least, but she could sense a slight change in the atmosphere, something similar to the way one just knew that a storm was coming on a hot summer day despite the sky still being clear. She didn't need magic to feel that; instincts were more than enough. Still, drawing the sword now would have been unwise, so Cyreia continued to pretend that she wasn't very invested in what was being said.

Vestat turned to Remin, apparently surprised by the sudden turn in their conversation. "Well, yes. The matter has been investigated extensively and it seems that it was a combination of several factors. Some old structural instabilities my ancestors failed to take into account when building the castle, the exceptionally damp weather that year and some bad luck. A terrible tragedy. Why ask now, though?"

"Really?" Cyreia asked, unable to stop herself from glaring at Vestat now. She almost looked like a different person in that moment. Like someone who had killed before; miles away from her usual mild-mannered self. "That had to be some serious structural instability. I've never heard of an entire tower collapsing so abruptly due to something like that, too. Was there nothing else?"

"Nothing that we discovered," Vestat replied carefully, looking her up and down. "What else would there be, my king?" 'Are you insinuating something?' That seemed to be the real question.

Cyreia shrugged. "I don't know. How about magic? Magic presumably could do something like that, right?"
 

Conifer

Member
The conversation turns combative more quickly than Remin wants or expects, but it was going to end up that way sooner than later, she supposes. It doesn't matter how quickly it got there.


"...Tristan," she says softly, trying desperately to right this again, to get it back on track before it goes needlessly aggressive. They don't know the truth of the matter - they can only make guesses at it. She doesn't want to accuse him of things he didn't do, even if it seems increasingly more likely that he has. "Please don't ask how, but we have reason to believe that there was something more nefarious happening that night. Something involving magic." She needed, at least, to temper Avther before he gave them fully away and turned this from conversation to war. She trusted the could settle this peacefully, but...maybe that was a naïve trust. "I just...I need to know the truth of the matter, whatever it is."
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Vestat looked at Remin, then at Cyreia and back at Remin again. There was confusion in his body language, clear and unmistakable, but also something else. Nervousness? To be fair, it wasn't a strange reaction given their topic and the way Cyreia stared him down now. Very few people could remain entirely unaffected in such a situation. Still, his behavior looked pretty damning in her eyes, especially since he had denied the possibility of it being more than just an accident so categorically. An innocent man wouldn't have been so afraid to examine that option. Had a similar tragedy occurred at Cyreia's home, she would have wanted to investigate each and every lead.

"Magic? I have no idea what you are talking about," Vestat said and crossed his arms over his chest. A classic defensive gesture, Cyreia noted. Many of her men had behaved similarly in the past when she had accused them of some wrongdoing. "There was no magic involved. Remin, I understand that the loss of your parents still hurts - I miss them as well - but inventing stories about their death won't bring them back. Dwelling on the past will only make it worse." Vestat took a sharp breath. "You are... mourning, I am well aware of that. There have been many disconcerting changes in your life recently, too. That is why I won't hold it against you. Let us just forget about it."

"Yes, I imagine that you'd like that, wouldn't you?" Perhaps she should have stayed quiet, but it just seemed glaringly obvious by now. The man was lying, lying, lying through his teeth and each word of his only cemented it further. Cyreia could feel anger rising in her chest, wild and bitter, but she suppressed it. This was no time to get overwhelmed by emotions. "Is it a habit of yours to lie to your queen, lord Vestat, or are these circumstances special? I would love to know." Her left hand was hovering over her sword now, ready to draw the weapon at any moment, but still not touching it. Perhaps he would confess his guilt. Perhaps this could be solved peacefully if he understood that they weren't having his lies.
 

Conifer

Member
She felt her sympathy, and her belief that he was innocent, slipping away with each word he uttered. He couldn't even do her the decency of being truthful with her after all of this - after all of the history that they shared, he couldn't be honest with her. She reached a hand out to him all the same, settling it against his chest. An act of begging, desperation, an attempt to connect. Avther was all but ignored in the moment, but she saw his hand near his sword out of the corner of her eye and trusted him to protect her.
"I had a vision on the garden last night." She says softly, claiming the event as her own. It would seem all too untrustable to him if it was Avther's vision, so she would claim it as her own. "Of...what had happened. There was magic involved, Tristan, I swear to you. And I...hazard that you know this already." She clutches gently at his shirt, tears in her eyes - partially truth, partially dramatics. "I just want the truth, my friend. Nothing else. What has happened has happened, I just...I need to know."
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
What are you doing, Remin?! Cyreia understood her desire to know the truth, understood it all too well, but getting so close to someone who might turn violent at any moment? Getting in the way of her sword? This was a nightmare. The person she wanted to protect above all else had willingly gone and turned herself into a living shield. Why did these things keep happening? Perhaps Remin believed that her friend would not hurt her, but Cyreia sure as hell didn't. The man had committed regicide. Athean ways may have been kinder than those of Eupriunia, but she doubted that they would show any kind of mercy towards kingkillers. Of course he would try to escape the consequences.

Vestat opened his mouth, but nothing came out. The word 'vision' seemed to stun him. "I-I... It was wrong! Visions can be wrong as well!" Now that looked like pure desperation on his part. "I know nothing about any of this. And you dare to accuse me? After all those years? After everything I've done for you?"

The air around them frizzled with an unknown energy; her hairs stood up on end and Cyreia knew that she had to do something. Remin. Remin was her priority. Her body moved on its own, completely bypassing any thoughts she might have had at the moment. Cyreia shoved her out of harm's way, more roughly than she would have under normal circumstances, and drew her sword. Everything after that was a blur. The air suddenly smelled of burning fabric, not sweetness, and it took her a while to recognize that it was her clothes, but it didn't matter. She was close, way too close to him to give up the opportunity to strike, and fire wasn't going to stop her. Vestat looked at her wide-eyed as she approached anyway, but that was all he managed to do. Cyreia raised her blade and hit him with all her might-- in the back of his head, with the hilt. He collapsed on the ground and then, only then did she drop there too to extinguish the flames. They went out quickly now that the magician's will had been extinguished, too, but a large part of her robe had been destroyed; it was a good thing Cyreia had had the foresight to don some light armor underneath it before they had gone for the walk. "Damn. God fucking dammit," she swore, any attempts at etiquette suddenly forgotten, "the bastard tried to burn me!" It may not have been the brightest of observations, but Cyreia was still riding that wave of adrenaline.
 

Conifer

Member
She started to say something, started to open her mouth to reply, but whatever she was going to say was swept aside as she was sent flying towards the fruit-littered dirt by something slamming into her side. Remin couldn't find herself able to process what was even happening - there was the brightness and the heat of fire, the crackle of the flames, and while she could see what was happening it was all hard to process until suddenly, the fire was gone, and Tristan lay on the ground. Dead? Gods, she hoped not, despite what he's almost most assuredly done to her family. Avther yelled something, and it took a moment for the words to make sense of her. Gods. Oh, gods. If he hasn't acted quickly, Tristan would have taken her husband from her too. It's hard to breathe for the tightness in her chest. The whole scene's too overwhelming for her to even try to stop the tears beginning to roll, quick and hot, down her cheeks.

"...Gods," She stammers, sitting up. Her voice is strained and tight and broken. She doesn't stand. She's not sure she could if she wanted to. Shaking hands clutch at the soft, cold earth, as if her fingers could grow roots there to provide her with some sense of sturdiness. "Gods, he-- gods. He killed them. He did it. How-- why would he-"
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Damn," she repeated, this time more quietly, "damn." Had her vocabulary been reduced to a single word? Cyreia shook her head, trying to process what had just happened, and suddenly she was laughing. It was a joyless laugh, the kind of hysterical laugh that contained all emotions but happiness, and she laughed and laughed until she finally ran out of breath. If it hadn't been for her training, Cyreia would have been dead by now. Dead, as easily as that. "Well, that's a first one. Nobody has tried to kill me like that before." Who was she even talking to? Remin or herself? Wait, Remin. Is she... is she alright? Fear gripped her heart and for a while, Cyreia didn't want to look, didn't want to get the answer to her question, but then, then she heard her voice. Thank god. Thank god, I made it in time.

Her legs still felt unreliable, too shaky to stand on, so she crawled closer to Remin instead of walking. It probably looked undignified, but appearances didn't matter to her nor to the terrified guards that arrived just now. Great that you're finally here, Cyreia almost spat out, but self-restraint won in the end. It hadn't been their fault; everything had happened way too fast. No sense in crying over spilt milk and all that. Besides, Remin deserved her attention more. "Are you... are you alright?" she asked her and immediately felt stupid for the inquiry because well, obviously she wasn't. A friend of hers had murdered her parents. God, what a mess. "And I don't know why he would do that," Cyreia admitted, "but... that's why I left him alive. I figured... figured that you'd want to ask. He's unconscious."
 

Conifer

Member
"I'm...unhurt." Her side aches with the remainder of the impact that hit her, and her palms are scuffed where she had unsuccessfully tried to catch herself as she was knocked aside, but those are minor injuries if they counted at injuries at all. "Are you...you were on fire." She says, pointing out what he was already probably incredibly aware of. His clothes were half-gone, and she sees where the sheen of metal peers out from beneath the fabric. Thank the gods he was smart. The guards hurry over and she waves them towards dealing with Tristan. She needs a moment before there's more attention on her. They go as directed, pulling the man to his feet and hauling him back towards the carriage, though two stay behind to keep watch over the scene. "Are you okay?" She asks Avther quietly, dragging her hands out of the dirt and grabbing for him, replacing one support for another.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Good," Cyreia said, "good." Yet another burden off her shoulders. If something had happened to Remin, she would have... done what, exactly? She didn't know and didn't want to know. Hopefully, they would never get the opportunity to find out. "For a while," Cyreia agreed. "Good thing that he didn't choose to aim for the head. Then again, the head is a relatively small target and I was moving pretty fast, so I guess that my torso was a sensible choice." Why did she even launch into that explanation in the first place? Cyreia had no idea. Maybe it was easier for her to distance herself from the entire situation through analysis. If she could understand what had happened, then it wouldn't be as terrifying.

Cyreia embraced Remin, not caring whatsoever whether the guards were watching them or not. She had almost died. Nobody in their right mind would judge her for trying to find some comfort in her own wife's arms. "I am fine," she smiled softly. "A bit... shaken, I suppose, but nothing I won't recover from." Cyreia looked towards the carriage, her expression growing disdainful. "I can't say I expected that, though. What a nasty bastard." He may have been Remin's friend and Cyreia considered herself to be a fairly forgiving person, but there was a certain line one should never cross if they wanted to stay on her good side. Trying to burn her alive was so far over that line that it wasn't even funny. "Is there even a safe way to interrogate him?"
 

Conifer

Member
Even without that new, terrible thought put into her head, Avther’s presence against her would have been welcomed. She wraps an arm around his torso, where the metal is still hot from the fire, and just holds him close. There’s eyes, but she trusts them well enough to be comfortable that they’ll keep their gossip among the five, if not the two, of them. She could handle them knowing her growing fondness for her husband (as if that were some crime to be hidden. If it was such a terrible possibility then it should never have been given the opportunity in the first place.)

“Gods only know.” She admits quietly, tangling the soft fabric that remains where her hands fall against him, as if that will keep him close to her. It might. It would. She doubts he has any desire to move away before she wants him to, anyways. “There’s ways to block magic, but none available to us at the moment, and few of them are anything short of cruel.” She hates that she’s still concerned of cruelty. He killed her parents and lied about it, even when confronted with the truth. He’d set her husband aflame. He’d taken one of her only friends from her with his actions. All of this, and she’s still concerned with putting cruelty upon him. “We can, at the very least, lessen his connection to it for a small amount of time with some herbs, and hope that he won’t try-- all of that again when there’s swords at his back.” She doesn’t want to think of all that, though. She doesn’t want to think of any moment but now, where Avther is safe, and she is safe, and things are, for the moment at least, okay.

Remin lets out an unsteady breath and shifts herself, pressing a kiss - chaste, ultimately, but lingering - against Avther’s soft cheek after checking that the guards that stood sentinel over them were politely turning their gaze to the vineyard around them, and weren’t watching the royals sit in a heap in each other’s arms in the dirt. He smells of smoke and it makes her stomach turn, but the action of it feels...complicated, but a strange and vaguely nice sort of complicated that their whole relationship seemed to be, all push and pull and ebb and flow. She wasn’t sure where this stood in that pattern, but her lips felt right against his cheek and that was more than enough for her in this moment.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
It was nice to be able to just exist without having to worry about anything. Not that she didn't have to - there were so, so many things to be worried about - but her mind felt blessedly empty in Remin's embrace and Cyreia didn't even try to fight it. She had already fought enough for today. There would be even more battles in the future, probably fiercer than this one had been, and she felt justified in giving up just this once, just in this one thing. Cyreia leaned even closer, close enough to smell her hair, and allowed herself to get lost in the sensation. The conversation about Vestat's interrogation made her collect her jumbled thoughts again, though.

"I don't think he will dare," Cyreia said, her tone light despite everything. "If nothing else, he has learned today that I can swing my sword faster than he can hurt me with magic." Magic was scarily effective when utilised properly, but at the end of the day, its users were still human and no human alive could hope to win against steel. Cyreia found a lot of comfort in that knowledge. Even in this new, strange world, the old axioms still held true. "I will hold my blade against his neck and make him answer." He should be happy to even receive that opportunity. Had it been up to her, she would have slaughtered him right where he had stood. Such course of action would have been completely just, too. Only life could pay for death. Still, though, Vestat had taken Remin's family away from her, so it only made sense for her to decide his fate. For now, she wanted her answers and Cyreia would help her obtain them. What to do with him after that? They would discuss that later, once he provided an adequate explanation.

Cyreia wanted to get up, but the soft lips pressed against her cheek froze her in place. Ah. Ah, indeed. There was a mix of emotions on her face, most prominently bafflement, just utter disbelief that Remin would do something like that out of her own accord, but also-- joy. The kiss was so sweet. She was so sweet. Despite knowing better than that, Cyreia cupped her face in her hands, wiped away some of the tears (who would have guessed that she was capable of such tenderness?) and kissed her on her forehead. She wouldn't mind staying like this for a while, forever even, but they couldn't very well do so. "Can... can you stand? We should probably go. I'm not so sure whether we can return to the castle, though." Vestat was still the lord of that castle, after all, and his men's loyalty belonged to him as well. Technically, they were supposed to be loyal to them as well, but who would they choose? Did they want to find out?
 

Conifer

Member
She hadn't known what to expect when she kissed Avther's cheek, the action being one more fuelled by impulse than thought, but the kiss to her forehead she received in return hadn't been what she had thought to expect. It left her strangely breathless. Five minutes before, she had seen Avther bring down a criminal with a terrifying ease, and now he held her head in his hands and touched her as if he's never even had fleeting thoughts of fighting. She wants to be trapped in this moment, or at least, wants to let it linger longer than they had time for. That, however, didn't have time to happen.

"...no," she sighs. "No. You're certainly right, we can't return there." But where could they go? There wasn't much around here besides fields, and there definitely wasn't anyone she trusted well enough to invite herself over and ask that they be perfectly alright with her dragging along their probable friend she's accusing of murder to interrogate. These people here were likely loyal to him - or at least loyal enough that talking that sort of way would be a deathwish. Remin releases her hold on Avther's robes and smooths her fingers over where she'd been clutching to ease the wrinkles from the fabric. "We have few options, though." She admits, shifting away to slowly bring herself to her feet. "We were set to leave this evening anyways, but...there's the mess of what to do with him to sort out." Their next stop, at least, was simply an inn. No one to impress, no one to field attempts on their lives from. Just privacy. That brought some amount of peace to her thoughts at least.
 

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