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Fantasy All's Fair

Sub Genres
LGTBQ Friendly, Magical, Romance

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia stood up, straightened what remained of her clothes and then extended her hand to help Remin get off the ground as well. This was a peculiar situation. "We can send our men for the things we left at the castle. That probably wouldn't be too suspicious. They can say that we forgot about having to make preparations for the rest of the journey, then we got drunk with the lord at his winery and now we don't have the strength to return and collect our stuff ourselves." Now if Cyreia and Remin returned without Vestat, that would probably raise some eyebrows. "Tirsi," Cyreia spoke to one of the guards, "will you take care of that? You and Davreth." Both guards agreed with a quiet "yes, your highness" and left. That does nothing to solve our main issue, though.

"As for Vestat himself, we can hide him in our carriage until he wakes up and interrogate him there." It wouldn't be too comfortable, but at least nobody would bother them in their own carriage in the middle of fields. Cyreia sighed and closed her eyes for a second. It felt like Caldora all over again; they had been wronged, unambiguously so, yet the perpetrator of the crime was well-loved and they weren't, so punishing him would be difficult. Was there any justice left in this world? Perhaps, if we play our cards right. "We should get him to confess his crime of murdering the old king and queen publicly. This," Cyreia pointed at her burned clothes, "this probably wouldn't bother anyone too much. Hell, it would even make him more popular in some circles." She could already hear the rumors of the brave freedom fighter who had attempted to assassinate the villainous usurper. No, that kind of development would not help them in the long run at all. "The late king and queen, though? That would be a different story." Cyreia looked at Remin, curiosity in her green eyes. "What do you even intend to do with him? Since he hurt you the most, I believe that the decision should be up to you. Say a word and I'll make it happen. Somehow."
 

Conifer

Member
"I really don't know." She has to admit, looking towards the carriage, where Vestat is probably slumped over in the seat, oblivious to their problems. "...before, I had most a mind to let him go. Not happily, but I would have." He had been a friend and she was soft. All of this was selfish, anyways- corpses didn't care much for justice. She just wanted to know for her own peace of mind.
"Had he not made the whole problem worse by denying it, and especially had he not attacked you, I could have let him continue on in peace. But he's closed those gates himself." And yet, again, she was soft. She could imagine a world where they'd enter that carriage and he could say the right things to open them again. It wasn't likely, certainly, but it wasn't impossible. She didn't voice that to Avther, though. He might not say it, but he would almost certainly think that was a terrible plan that would be their ruin eventually.

"...we can sort it out after we see how he responds." She says as decisively as she can manage it, as she turns to head towards the carriage. The plan is quickly relayed to the guards. One of the two remaining outside the carriage procures the box of herbs kept on hand for times like this, and Remin sinks her hands into it, pulling out the things they'd need to dampen his magic. It won't cut it entirely, but at least it will cut a bonfire down to a small flame. More manageable. Safer. It's a quick enough process to create the mixture - grind them down to a fine yellow-brown mash, add oil to ease the swallowing - and then she lingers at the edge of the vehicle, the mixture in hand. She looks to Avther. "Any other preparations you feel are appropriate?"
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
What? She would just let him go? After killing her parents? Cyreia must have looked completely dumbfounded in that moment, even if she tried to hide it. Controlling her facial muscles had never been her strong point; something that needed to change if she were to play the various games of politics effectively. No, really, how far does her mercy extend? Apparently not far enough to include those who had assaulted her, which, despite the terrible situation, felt almost heartwarming. Cyreia nodded. "Alright, let's see what he has to say first. I don't think that there's anything that could justify his actions, though." Unless, of course, Remin's parents had secretly been tyrants the whole time, but that didn't seem too likely to her. It had to have been some personal agenda of his. As far Cyreia was concerned, revealing the real reason behind the murder could only dig his grave deeper.

"It is quite possible that he will refuse to speak again," Cyreia said to Remin as she was preparing the mixture, "and if he does it, I'll threaten him. Probably with some... well, very unpleasant things. I won't actually do any of it, but I would like you to refrain from intervening on his behalf. He has to believe that we absolutely are ready to do anything to make him talk." To be frank, Cyreia was more than willing to follow through with each and every threat she could come up with, but... this wasn't about her. This was about Remin, her soft-hearted Remin who still, for some unfathomable reason, cared for her friend. Perhaps Cyreia would have understood had she actually had childhood friends of her own, but those had been lost to the fire just like the rest of her old life. Just like Cyreia herself.

There wasn't much for her to do now, so she just watched Remin work, her fingers fast and nimble. "No," she shook her head, "I don't think we can do more here. It will have to do. Let's see if we can wake him up. It's been a while, after all." They returned to the carriage; Cyreia took the mixture from Remin, opened Vestat's mouth and made him swallow. Her treatment was rougher than it had to be, really, but Cyreia didn't feel like being gentle with this man. Remin would have to understand. Vestat coughed, almost to the point of choking, but he swallowed the substance in the end; what was more, he opened his eyes. And they say that violence is never the answer, she smirked. Vestat blinked, apparently confused, but then he saw Cyreia above him and all color left his face.

"Nice to see you awake, my lord," she smiled, a dangerous glint in her eyes, and pulled out her sword again. "I advise against trying anything funny with your magic. Not only is it weakened now, as you may have already noticed, but I also can't promise that I'd be as kind to you as I was the last time. Now that we've established that, are you finally willing to talk?"

Vestat looked at Cyreia and then at Remin, pale, weak and scared. "I..." No words came out after that.

"Do I absolutely have to torture you? Because we insist on getting those answers and I happened to pick up some very interesting ways of making a person talk while in Eupriunia." That was a lie - Cyreia had never been tasked with torturing someone - but it wasn't too far-fetched, and Vestat's eyes widened in horror. "Wanna find out for yourself? Maybe I can start with your fingers. Fingers are pretty delicate, you know. Full of pain receptors."

"No, I... I'm sorry, Remin. I only did it because they wouldn't..." he looked down, unable to face her, "give me the permission to marry you."
 
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Conifer

Member
Remin was aware that she has too weak a stomach for war before now, but standing helpless as Avther rattled off threats as if it were nothing only proved it to her further. She would never understand how quickly he could switch himself from someone who she saw tenderness in to -- to this. To drawn swords and threats of violence with no softness to be found at any edge of him. It was terrifying and, in some ways, comforting. She couldn't be that person, she would never be, but that was what he was there for. The two of them weren't a terrible match despite their opposing sides. She tries to look firm instead of on the edge of tears as Tristan receives the threats, looking… so defeated and scared. She hates that she still has sympathy for him, that she can't hate him, and she hates how it's a genuine effort to keep from hushing Avther and trying to talk this out peacefully. She'd tried that. It ended in fire.


That sympathy is wiped away quickly, though, as he (like a coward, now that he's been defeated,) admits the truth to her. If the admission had come before they'd resorted to violence, it might have pulled at her softness, but now, it takes that and twists it to hot anger rising in her throat. "You-- killed them because of that?" She demands, shaking and sharp. "You murdered my parents because of a topic you didn't even begin to broach with me. Gods smite us all where we stand. If you had spoken with me, we could have sorted the issue. We /would/ have sorted the issue, but you-- they adored you, and you didn't even give them the honor of facing them as you killed them." She wiped hastily at her cheeks, crying in her fury and desperately wanting not to be showing that weakness. "I trusted you. I cared for you, and this-- gods. You're crueller than I ever thought you capable of." She turns sharply to Avther. "Do what you care to with him." Remin says, before she storms away, unable to even face Tristan any longer.


There's nowhere to go for the privacy she needs but her impulse carries her blindly back into the field- away, just away, that's all she needs or wants, it doesn't truly matter where that leaves her. She collapses into a heap in the dirt when she can't go further and struggles to even get a breath in. Everything she can feel is anguish and white-hot fury and the refusal of her lungs to take in the air she needs them to and she knows she must be making a racket with her sobs but she doesn't even know how to begin caring for that. Let the grapes and the guards hear her.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia had looked menacing before, but when Vestat finally disclosed his motive, her expression turned downright murderous. What? She had presumed it to be something terrible, but damn, did he exceed her expectations. Killing her parents because they hadn't agreed to a proposed match? God, there were no words to express her disgust. Even my mother had a better death. At least her mother had been slain by the hand of an enemy soldier. It had been tragic, certainly, but she hadn't known her killer; hadn't trusted him, hadn't loved him.

Remin, quite understandably, wasn't taking it well. As she watched her cry and scream and release all that pent-up anger, Cyreia almost felt guilty for having had that vision in the first place. Ignorance would have been kinder. Anything would have been kinder than knowing a friend of yours had murdered your parents because of his feelings towards you. It was better for her to know, she understood that rationally, but the benefits of it were hard to see now with Remin looking so... so utterly broken. 'Do what you care to with him,' she said, and Cyreia wanted to end his pathetic life on the spot. "Remin, Remin, forgive me!" Vestat cried out after her, which only poured fuel on the fire of her rage. "How dare you," she pressed her sword closer to his neck, "ask for forgiveness after what you've done?" It would have been so, so easy to kill him right there. So satisfying, too. Once again, though, the easy answer wasn't the right answer. Remin couldn't keep her cool now, not in this situation, and that meant that Cyreia had to do it for her instead. She sighed and put her sword back into its scabbard. "I should kill you, but I won't. You must live long enough to confess your crimes to your people." Vestat looked her directly in the eye, suddenly defiant in his desperation. A man with nothing to lose; the worst kind of man to negotiate with. "And how do you expect to make me confess, my king?" The word 'king' sounded like an insult from his mouth. "Kill me if you have to, but I won't bear the mark of a kingslayer." That could be a problem. If she had to torture the confession out of him, it would mean nothing to the public. Some other way had to be found and it had to be found fast.

"You have a sister, right?" Cyreia asked after a moment of deliberation. "Lady Emelia. Remin told me about her." The mention of that name caused fear to appear in his eyes again. "Are you threatening to hurt my sister?" Cyreia laughed bitterly. "No. I am not like you, lord Vestat. I wanted to make you an offer. Confess and your sister shall inherit your castle and all the titles that come with it. The Vestat family will not be affected by what will happen to you in any way. Your sins will be your own." The implication behind those words was clear; 'don't confess and your family will lose its status'. He seemed to care for his family, at least judging by his reaction to his sister's name, so it was worth a try. "How do I know that I can trust you?" Vestat asked, immediately confirming her suspicions. God, I don't have time for this. Remin probably needed her right now and she was wasting her time with fruitless negotiations. Cyreia narrowed her eyes. "You don't, but I'd wager that my word is worth more than the word of a murderer. Let me make it clear for you, my lord. Your life is forfeit already; you can't change that. You do, however, have a choice. Either you can die with some dignity and help your family in the process or you can die like a dog. Just food for thought." She proceeded to call the guards. "Make sure that he stays here. You know what to do if he tries anything funny." With that, Cyreia left him to his thoughts.

It wasn't too difficult to find Remin. How to approach her, though? And did she even wish to be approached? What if she preferred loneliness in her moment of vulnerability? Remin had allowed her to console her before, but this, this was different. The emotions were too raw, the wounds too deep. It scared her. Cyreia just stood there awkwardly, listening to her sobs and not knowing what to do. Her own heart was breaking for her, but that didn't matter. What mattered was her comfort. She had to do something. Something that wasn't just staring at her uselessly. "Remin?" she asked softly. "Remin, do you... do you need some privacy? Or do you want me here?" Finding that out would probably be a good start.
 
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Conifer

Member
It's hard to tell, really, how long that Remin sits sobbing in the dirt that will cling to her clothes when she eventually manages to pull herself to her feet and stand. The amount of time doesn't matter right now. Avther can handle Vestat. Anything her husband does, no matter how painful or cruel, will not be going too far for Remin's tastes. Later she may regret that, but in this moment, she feels it fiercely. Avther can handle this mess, and has no choice in it anyways. Everything pent up demands a release - it's nice, almost, to finally feel what she'd been pushing away since gods know when, but it's magnified by the situation in a way that makes it tangibly hurt. There's pinpricks in her fingers and intangible rope bound tight around her ribs.


She isn't even aware of Avther's approach until he speaks, and even then, it takes a moment to realise that he's near, and addressing her, instead of just being some distant voice that she doesn't care to make out properly.

There's nothing remotely resembling an easy answer to his questioning - and she's not even sure that there's a hard one. Any answer seems too incomprehensible to grab hold of and choose. She wants privacy but she also wants to scream her pain from rooftops and towers. She wants to be alone but hates the feeling it leaves with her. It's everything and nothing all at complicated once. Blindly, not choosing but instead feeling, she sticks out her trembling hand towards him. It's no reply but it's the best she can really do in this moment.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Remin almost seemed to be trapped in a trance, unable to see her or hear her words, but she must have. The extended hand was a clear sign of that. Without thinking, Cyreia stepped closer to Remin, then even closer than that, and pulled her into embrace. She couldn't bring her parents back, couldn't heal her pain, couldn't do anything that would count in any meaningful way, but she could, at the very least, show her that she wasn't alone. Provide a bit of stability. Cyreia stood there in complete silence, still unsure of what to say. Should she apologize for revealing the awful truth about her friend? No, that wouldn't make sense. It had been the right thing to do, it really had been, and Cyreia didn't regret it. Vestat deserved a punishment for his crimes. 'I know how you must feel?' Would something like that be appropriate? Perhaps, but that would be a lie. She had lost people, too many of them in fact, though never in similar circumstances and she couldn't even begin to imagine the extent of her grief.

Cyreia caressed her hair softly, carefully, as if she was afraid that Remin might shatter upon touch. "I, um." A brilliant start to be sure, but a start nonetheless. Why did words have to be so difficult to wield? It shouldn't be this complicated, but it was and she desperately wished to be someone else in that moment. Someone who knew how to proceed. A more eloquent speaker. Cyreia was Cyreia, though, and that wouldn't change. She had to make do somehow. "I'm sorry that... that you have to go through this and I'm also sorry that I don't know how to help." Sincerity couldn't hurt Remin further, right? Hopefully not. "But, I am here. For better or worse."
 

Conifer

Member
She all but collapses against Avther as he pulls her against him, sinking into the comfort and safety he offers. He wouldn’t have come this way if Vestat hadn’t been handled in whatever way he’d chosen to handle him. She wasn’t fool enough to think that dealing with him was over, but the hard choice had hopefully been made, and with a heavier hand than she would have found herself able to use against Vestat. She would follow whatever fate Avther had given him, pretending that she was powerless against it, and it would, sooner than later, be over. This whole mess behind them all.
Remin tries to take more steady breaths as his hand works through her hair, knowing that she can’t sit in this dirt forever. People would notice sooner or later that some deranged woman was crying in the vineyard and would come to look - and while she had pretty good reason for it, it wasn’t an appearance she wants to show. It wouldn’t be flattering to anyone involved in the whole mess, and rumors would start before they could even think to stop them. Remin wipes hastily at her face, smearing the tears with her sleeve, letting his words sink in. He’s here. He’s here, sitting in the dirt with her, for better or worse, when he could have simply let her recover herself.
But that’s what so much of this was, wasn’t it? There were so many things that were a choice he didn’t have to make. He could have not danced with her like that, and been just as good a king. He could have not offered the bed to her that first night, or he could have insisted on doing what everyone they’d left early had assumed they were sneaking off to do. He could have not wandered statues or galleries with her, or sat with her while she recovered from the poison. He was still Eupurnian, there was no denying that, but there was also no denying that he was here at her side - and she at his, after all of that. She trusted him. (It was strange that the betrayal of someone she’d thought was a friend had left her feeling more trusting towards what should be the enemy, but...things rarely seemed to make sense anymore.)

“Thank you.” She says, shakey and pitiful to her ears but honest, at least. There’s more to say later, when they’re not in a field, with a murderer a dozen yards away, and guards trying to awkwardly give privacy and keep watch over them all at once. She might find time to say it when she can, but for now...that’s enough.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Her own words rang terribly hollow to her, hollow and useless in the face of everything she had gone through, but they did seem to offer some kind of comfort to Remin and that was enough. It had to be. Hoping for more than that would have been greedy. There was no magical right answer that could undo the damage, pick up the shattered pieces of her heart and put them back together. Only time would do that. "It's fine," Cyreia said, still refusing to let go of her. She would have to, of course, and sooner rather than later because they couldn't very well sit here forever, but Remin... well, she clung to her in a way that implied that she wanted this and, selfishly, Cyreia did, too. It felt nice to just hold her like that, really. Burying her face in her hair would have been even nicer, and after that-- no, she should be ashamed of herself for even thinking along these lines in such a situation. God. She was a terrible person, wasn't she? No more daydreaming. I have to deal with reality now.

"Are you ready to go?" Cyreia asked her carefully and extended her hand to help her stand up. "We, well, I don't think we should stay here for too long." Not that I'd mind, but still. It would certainly be easier than resuming my duties. She swallowed uncomfortably and looked away from Remin. Explaining to her what she had decided to do with Vestat wouldn't be pleasant, but it had to be done. Remin had to know. No, not just know. Her wife was a queen, definitely more so than she was a king, and she had the right to shape her decisions. Cyreia would listen to any complaints Remin might have. Listen and possibly re-evaluate her judgment. Marriage was supposed to be about that, wasn't it? About compromises. "Regarding Vestat. I... didn't kill him. Not yet. I do think that he needs to die, but we need his confession for the public to accept that. That's why I made him an offer. I promised him that his family won't be affected by... by any of this if he confesses. He's still thinking about his answer and, frankly, I don't know what to do if he refuses to comply. I can't let him walk away after what he has done, but executing him without evidence... It wouldn't look good. I kind of doubt that my vision would suffice in the eyes of anyone who isn't you." It was kind of amazing that Remin had chosen to believe her in the first place; chosen to believe her, an enemy, over her friend. Did she consider her to be her enemy after all of that, though? What were they, anyway? The lines seemed to be so blurred that she couldn't tell anymore.

"Well. What do you think?" Cyreia asked, hesitantly, as she forced herself to look at Remin once again. Avoiding her gaze would have been a coward's choice and while she may have been many things, she wasn't that. Why, then, did it feel so difficult to inform her of her friend's impeding death? He deserved it, deserved it more than most people Cyreia had killed on the battlefield, but she still felt awful about it when confronted with Remin's tear-stained face. God, her tears. She didn't want to make her cry even harder. Please, just don't cry.
 

Conifer

Member
She took the offered hand, dragging herself to her feet. She doesn’t let go of it once she’s steady, not ready to be entirely rid of his touch, but holds loosely enough that he can pull away if he’d like to - but despite the need for contact, Remin’s somewhat grateful that he doesn’t face her as he explains what was to happen with Vestat. He’s right - she knows he’s right, about Vestat being deserving of death. He killed the king and queen. That was treason in the highest of orders, and he hadn’t even had the decency to do it in a way that made it easy to prove. The castle was old, and everyone had already accepted that it had been the result of an accident. Changing that narrative now would only make it seem suspicious. He had killed them and so he needed to be given the appropriate punishment, but that truth didn’t make the pill any less bitter to swallow.

“...I think you’re right.” She admits, soft and tired. Her voice still catches a bit. She runs a hand over her face, pushing back her hair, and buying herself a moment. “He deserves the proper punishment. Any care I had for him is gone,” she wishes, and hopes, “But he’ll confess first. They won’t accept a traitor queen and her enemy husband claiming that someone loved by them killed the previous rulers, not right now when there’s little love for us. It has to come from his mouth.” She sighs, shaking her head. The decision had been made, yes, but there were steps between making it and it all being over. “If he won’t agree to it, I’ll send word to Emelia. She’ll convince him, especially if her reputation rests on the line. I’ll send word to her either way - I’d rather her hear the news from someone who knows her than it being a rumor that floats her way. But I hope he’ll agree to it easily.” There’s thoughts of mercy that flit through her head. Maybe she could send him away somewhere. Off to a cabin in the mountains, or to some little town where no one would know him. Allow him to live. Dangerous thoughts of letting him live. He’d proved himself capable of murder once - who knew what resentment might fester given the time? Who knew what he might think himself capable of in acts of revenge? No. She’ll trust Avther on this. “He brought this whole mess upon himself, by doing the act in the first place, and then denying what he’d done when we confronted him about it.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Thank god, Cyreia thought. It would have been easy, all too easy to defend her decision, but that didn't mean that she wanted to argue. An argument wasn't something Remin needed right now. Hell, she didn't need any of this; none of the responsibilities that rested on her shoulders, none of the burdens. Cyreia wished she could take them away from her and just let her breathe for a moment, but such a line of thinking was naive. A ruler could never really put the crown away. Despite not being there physically, its shadow would always weigh down on Remin and on her as well. Trying to pretend that it wasn't there wouldn't help anyone. At least they were on the same page now, which meant they could support each other. A strange (but comforting) thought. Having someone to rely on still felt foreign, but she was getting used to it. It filled her with warmth.

"Please do so," Cyreia nodded. "I don't think that lady Emelia would want to learn that from me." The woman didn't know her, after all, and what she had heard about her couldn't have been good. That opinion wouldn't be improved in any way by accusing her brother of murder and blackmailing her into conspiring against him. Hopefully, the message wouldn't sound as suspicious from Remin's lips. They didn't need more enemies; their numbers seemed to grow every single day as it was. "And yes, he most definitely brought it upon himself. He didn't really give us a choice, Remin. We can't just... slap him on the wrist and let him go. There are consequences to your actions." Justice wasn't always pleasant, but that, too, had its purpose. Mercy couldn't solve everything. Softness couldn't keep a country from descending into chaos.

"Would you like to speak to him? I won't force you if you don't want to, of course," Cyreia added quickly before Remin could protest, "but, well, he used to be your friend once. He seems to like you in his own twisted way." Enough to propose a marriage. Enough to kill her parents for daring to oppose him. Would she have accepted his offer had he mustered up the courage to actually ask her? It wasn't... impossible, she supposed, even if it made her stomach turn. Remin had spoken about him with such fondness before. Had she loved him in the past? Would they have been happy together? God, no, these thoughts were exceedingly pointless. It didn't matter. Hypotheticals, hypotheticals. There was no point in dwelling on them. "Perhaps you could convince him to confess. Maybe it's a stupid idea, but, well. I'd be there with you," she said and squeezed her hand tightly. Would that suggestion incur her wrath? I'd probably deserve that.
 

Conifer

Member
What I'd like to do,' she says, halfheartedly humorous, trying to reassure him that she's managing better than she had been just before - sorting all that pain back into place, tucked away to be dealt with never, "Is take a vacation from our supposed vacation." And then, more seriously, tightening her grip on his hand just a bit. "I suppose I should talk to him, shouldn't I? He's lost his favor with me, but there's still some chance to earn it back, I suppose. We still have power over what happens to him and Emelia." She sighs, looking towards the carriage and to the man sitting on the stair up, two guards with hands firm on his shoulder. What fondness she'd seen in him just before has twisted now, leaving her feeling strange and hollow. "And if it's truly a terrible plan, you can knock him out again."


It's with more confidence than she feels that she walks - /marches/, like a man to be hung - back towards him, lingering a few feet away. He looked as pitiful now as she's sure she did. What a mess this whole thing was. "Lord Vestat." She says, strong as she can, leaving no room in her tone for affection. "What our king promised to you was true. You have your chance to make this as simple for Emelia and and children she may have as you can. Just...tell the people the truth. I can promise you that she'll be kept safe and happy and in good regard with the people and the kingdom if you're willing to work with us. With me. But I can't promise you the same if you make this more difficult than it has to be. You've had your time to think it over - what is your answer?"
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"That I can do," Cyreia assured her. The safety really wasn't the problem here, or at least not anymore. They had fed him the substance that severed a person's connection to magic and from what she had seen so far, it worked. He seemed weak, powerless, practically a shadow of his former self. A pitiful sight, really. Cyreia doubted that he could hurt a fly with his magic now, much less someone protected by a trained soldier. Besides that, she didn't think that he'd attack Remin. The last words he had said to her, after all, were a plea for forgiveness. Vestat wouldn't hesitate to kill her if he had the chance, maybe other people as well if it could earn him his freedom, but not Remin. Not the woman he had intended to marry once. Still, though, making her talk to him was wrong. The man had hurt her so much already. What if his words sent her tumbling down again? No, she's stronger than that. "If he makes you uncomfortable at any point, just say so and I'll handle him." That was the least she could do for her wife.

As Remin spoke, Cyreia stood a few steps behind her, silent and protective. Just like before, her hand was hovering over her sword; 'one wrong move and you're dead,' her expression said. Vestat, however, wasn't looking at her. His eyes never left Remin's face; he watched her with a strange combination of sorrow, guilt and... and longing and Cyreia had to employ a significant amount of self-control to prevent herself from breaking his nose. How dared he look at her like that, as if he was the victim here? Had she been in his position, she wouldn't have dreamed of such audacity. I would never be in his position, though. That's the main difference between us. "Don't you wish it was easier, Remin?" he asked her, quiet and defeated. "I will do what you ask of me. I trust that you'll treat Emelia fairly. She, at least, had nothing to do with that." He paused, clearly weighing his words before finally speaking again. "I want you to know one thing, though. I only did it because there was no other way. I tried to convince them at first, but they wouldn't listen. They wanted you to marry some stranger for the good of the realm."
 
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Conifer

Member
"And he's proved to be a better husband to me than you could ever hope to be." She says, short and sharp and intending to hurt him. He deserves it. She's allowed to think he deserves it. "Tristan," she sighs, "Once, I would have been sorry that wasn't a future we were able to have together. Once I /wanted/ that future with you. But you ruined any fondness I had for you or that idea. I don't want to hear reasons or excuses. You killed my parents and then tried to deny it to my face." Remin takes a step forward - not into reach of him, careful to keep away from that. "I do wish it were easier." She admits, a bit gentler. "But you're the one who made it difficult. Not me, or my parents, or the kingdom."


She turns sharply to the guards holding him. "Arrange for his transport to his home." Remin instructs, before turning back to Vestat. "You'll have until we return to arrange your affairs to prepare for Emelia to take them over. Some of my men will keep watch over you until that point. You're to send no letters out that haven't been read by my men, nor are you to receive any that haven't met the same treatment. I will send word to your sister informing her of the situation, and advise her to return home. She will be the only visitor you will take. At no point will you find yourself alone. Understood?" It was perhaps too much kindness - or perhaps too much torture, this staying of the sword - but it was more for Emelia's sake than his own. She wasn't cruel like him. She wouldn't take Emelia's last family from her without allowing her the time to say goodbye.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Vestat winced at those words, though he didn't say anything. There just wasn't anything left to say. Even he must have known that Remin was right to condemn him, despite his own narrative about his deed.

I really did underestimate her, Cyreia thought as she watched her wife handle everything. It was difficult to reconcile her current self with the memory of Remin crying on the ground mere minutes ago, but... it shouldn't have been surprising. She had always had this quality to her; this strength to overcome everything life threw at her, no matter how bad it was. Arranged marriages, assassination attempts and now this. Did Remin even have a breaking point? It was cruel of fate to test her constantly and Cyreia wanted it to end, but the tenacity still impressed her. "I hope that this doesn't have to be stated, my lord," Cyreia began, "but if you betray the trust my queen has put in you once again, I will come for you personally, with an army behind my back. I have been much kinder to you than you deserve so far, but force my hand and I will show you how we treat traitors in Eupriunia." Oh, those lessons were entrenched deep under her skin. Things Remin would likely find revolting, horrifying even, and she would be right. They were exactly that, but that was the main reason why they worked in the first place.

Everything after that happened fast. Vestat agreed to their conditions and some of the guards were sent to escort him back to his mansion; the mansion that would serve as his prison now. A fitting end, Cyreia supposed. Shortly after that, Tirsi and Davreth returned with their belongings, so they could continue with their journey. She was thankful for that. The walls of that castle wouldn't be a welcome sight anymore, not after what had transpired between them, and Cyreia wanted to leave them behind as far as possible.

Their next stop was supposed to be an ordinary inn, not dissimilar to the places she had frequented as a soldier. Even though wine didn't appeal to her much, she did like the atmosphere of those establishments; they tended to be warm, filled with laughter and friendly chatter. Normally, Cyreia would have looked forward to the rare chance to unwind, but it just... didn't seem appropriate. Remin had lost a friend, lost an old love. How could she even begin to care for her personal enjoyment now? How to bridge that gap between what had happened and the present? Even if they had already put some distance between them and Vestat's mansion, her mind still lingered there. That was why she remained uncharacteristically quiet during the journey; for once, there were no inquisitive questions, no funny anecdotes. Just silence. The guards, too, weren't too inclined to talk, not even among themselves. A dark cloud hung over all of them. After a while, though, Cyreia still rode closer to Remin. "You handled it well. Probably better than I would have in your place, really." She paused for a while, searching for the right words. Remin could endure a lot, but was it really necessary? Did she have to push her so far? "Remin, can you go on? This trip has been more... exhausting than I anticipated, and if you need some time to recover, we can call it off for now and return home. We can always explore Athea later." They had the rest of their lives for that, after all.
 

Conifer

Member
She spent most the continuing trip astride the horse - all of her wanted to tuck herself away into the carriage and simply melt her existence into the velvet that stretched across the seats, but that felt like...a dangerous path to allow herself to start down. She kept herself upright instead, watching the world pass, quiet as they travelled. There wasn’t much conversation happening around her, either - everything hung heavy like a storm. It was comforting as much as it wasn’t that she wasn’t entirely alone in her inability to just let this wash over her like she wanted to. Each step they took away from the vineyard and to the manor left her feeling a little more secure, though, the distance and the visibly changing scenery that the passed making it feel as if the whole thing had simply happened to someone else. Someone who was still back there, still as lost and angry and upset as she wanted to let herself feel.

“I can go on.” She says quietly, barely louder than the sound of hooves against the dirt. She barely felt capable of more. “Home won’t provide much time for rest.” Its familiar halls felt appealing, and the comfort of her own bed, but...there was going to be too much work to be done there for it really bring her much time to find peace of mind. “And besides,” Remin adds, “We’ve made it nearly halfway. It would take nearly as much time to return home at this point than it would to just...finish this out.” That wasn’t technically true - they could travel quicker than they had been, stopping for rest instead of visitation, but it wasn’t untrue enough that it was entirely false. “Let’s just continue on. Maybe we’ve used up all our terrible luck in this first half, and the rest of the trip will be painless. Relaxing, even.” It’s a vain, humorless hope, but she voices it anyways.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"As you wish, then," Cyreia said. Perhaps she should have tried to convince her, but that decision rightfully belonged to her wife. Thinking that she knew Remin's limits better than she did would have been foolish. And, besides, if they were even slightly similar, perhaps she would benefit from some distraction. Cyreia herself did usually prefer the seemingly endless stream of duties to spending a lot of time in her own head. Sometimes, that was the worst place to be. "I also doubt that a lot of worse things can happen at this point, so you may be right about that. A trial by fire, I suppose?" she chuckled nervously and wanted to take it back immediately - a trial, seriously? Her parents getting killed by her best friend was a trial? It didn't work like that, though, and Cyreia could only listen to her own words with growing horror.

"Sorry. I am... not good at these things. I've never..." Never what? Never been expected to provide comfort to anyone? That wasn't entirely true. She had spoken to her men about some fairly personal matters; war was never a fun affair and many of them had sought some form of solace. It had baffled her back then that they had chosen her out of all people - as if she knew how to help - but it had happened. "Well, I have, but I've never really improved. Still as graceless as an ox, I'm afraid," Cyreia shrugged. A part of her just wished to ride ahead and escape this unpleasantness of her own making, but she wasn't one to run away. Not even when it would have been wiser, for example after being ordered to take the Athean throne. "I should be better at this considering the fact that my own mother was killed, but I don't know what I would have liked to hear back then," Cyreia admitted, watching the ground move at a steady pace underneath her feet instead of facing Remin. Perhaps she shouldn't have mentioned that, either. Discussing dead relatives could hardly lift anyone's mood, but hey, Cyreia had never claimed to be a smooth talker.
 

Conifer

Member
While his words were graceless, there was nothing that rung untrue about them. The worst had likely passed at this point, and they’d come out the other side...well, perhaps not stronger, but at least a little more sturdy. There was something nearly charming about what he said - it was, at the very least, honest if nothing else and Remin could do with some honesty just about now. The news about his mother surprised her, but -- it, strangely, did feel comforting, and she felt terrible for finding solace in that connection despite her ignorance to any similarities besides the fact that they’d both lost parents to someone else’s hand. It leaves her being the one to not know what to say, this time. She wants to say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ as hundreds of people had told her, but she’d hated every single cookie cutter word of that one, and so she doesn’t. Instead, Remin looks over to him, expression empathetic.

“I don’t think there’s anything I wanted to hear besides that it was all some terrible joke they were all playing on me,” She admits. “Anything anyone ever said rarely brought any comfort unless it was ‘I’ve brought you dinner’ before they left me alone.” The cook was perhaps her closest friend just after it had happened, and they spoke very few words to each other besides that. It had been nice. “But...for what it’s worth, I’m sorry you had to go through that as well.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia had expected her to... well, not get mad because Remin rarely got mad at her even if there were very good reasons for that particular reaction, but she had at least thought the things would get much more awkward. That it would turn out similarly to that disastrous first night when she had tripped over her own words while trying to think of an excuse to sleep on the floor. Somehow, this didn't happen. When she gathered the courage to look up, she only found compassion in Remin's eyes. "Thank you," she said, her tone sincere. That was something that surprised even Cyreia herself. The thank yous she had uttered before had been performative, mostly said to make the topic go away as soon as possible, but this didn't feel like that. Actually caring about the person who expressed the sentiment apparently made all the difference. Who would have thought?

"It happened a long time ago. More than ten years ago, I believe, so I've had a lot of time to process that. It's fine now." It really was, as fine as it would ever get, and Cyreia didn't have to talk about those occasions when it decidedly didn't feel fine. "I wonder sometimes what she would have thought of me now." Would she have been proud of her? Probably, at least in some ways, but there were just as many things about her chosen path that would have disappointed her bitterly. "But I suppose that there's no point in thinking about that." Time seemed to fly faster with some conversation and, to her surprise, it didn't take long for them to emerge in front of the inn. It was a humble place, small and made of wood, and it had that specific kind of charm bigger establishments often tried to imitate. They never really succeeded, though. What was it that made these taverns feel like home and why did they all look the same no matter where they were?

"Welcome, your highnesses," the innkeeper bowed so deeply that he almost touched his knees with his head. He seemed distraught by the presence of such important guests, at least it looked like that to Cyreia judging by the way he fiddled with his fingers, but he was determined to honor his guests to the best of his ability despite that. "I've been expecting you. Are you hungry? The dinner is ready. Or perhaps you'd like to visit your room first?" That question was undeniably fueled by Cyreia's attire. He didn't dare to say that, of course, though his eyes still wandered to the tatters she was dressed in. There had been no time to change into more presentable clothes, certainly not while on the journey, and it probably looked incredibly suspicious. Still, the innkeeper managed to keep a straight face. "What kind of room would you like? Most of them are vacant this time of year." Cyreia almost opened her mouth to answer ("Separate bedrooms, please"), but she ended up looking at Remin instead. It would have been... more comfortable for her to stick to their old habits, to demand a separate room, but last night hadn't been too bad and if Remin didn't want to be alone tonight, she would respect that.
 

Conifer

Member
“Of course there’s a point.” Remin protests. “Remembering her and wanting to do right by her...wanting her to be proud, that’s not a bad thing. I...don’t know her, obviously. I don’t know what sort of person she was,” Remin says gently. “But if I were her, I’d be proud of you, I think.You’re a celebrated war hero in your country, and king in mine. There’s something worth something there.”
Despite her earlier longing for quiet, the conversation now doesn’t seem terrible. The guards give them space as they’re getting good at doing, and the quiet chatter fills that last miles until they reach the inn as the evening starts to grow late.

It’s a nice little place - clean and comfortable, but nothing too ostentatious. It’s just an inn, but the smell of something cooking wafts through the air, and the fire bright and cheerful in the corner, sets Remin at ease as they enter. There’s hardly people here - a woman knits in the corner by the fire, and a man eats a bowl of thick stew at a table under a window, pouring over some tattered book, but neither of them pay the incoming cavalcade any attention. It’s a much-wanted and well-deserved departure from the norm.
The question of bedrooms leaves Remin faltering as much as it seems to leave Avther the same. She glances at him, realising that he’s leaving the decision to her. Gods, they should have discussed this beforehand. She had little qualm left with sharing a bed with him - and if he said nothing, did that mean he felt the same? Or was he just trying to be polite about her feelings, not wanting her to feel alone in the aftermath of this morning? “--Separate would be alright,” She says, too worried of the latter being true to make the decision otherwise. “Thank you. This is a lovely little place - we appreciate your hospitality.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Separate bedrooms, then. Yes, separate bedrooms would be good. It was the safer option, the more comfortable option, and Cyreia didn't need more complications in her already much too complicated life. Why, then, did she mostly feel disappointed? It didn't make sense, but then again, nothing seemed to anymore. "Yes," she forced herself to smile regardless, even if it probably wouldn't fool anyone who had spent some time in her vicinity and seen her smile for real, "I have to agree with my queen. I am happy that we decided to stay here of all places."

"Ah, you humble me with your kindness, your highnesses." The innkeeper disappeared behind the counter for a while only to return with a set of keys. "These are for you, your highnesses," he handed one key to Remin and one to Cyreia, "you will find your rooms to the left of the staircase. Numbers 5 and 6. Your envoys will occupy the rooms next to these two, if that is alright with you."

"That would be ideal," Cyreia nodded. "What's your name?"

The innkeeper seemed a bit surprised that the king would be interested in something like that, but not unpleasantly so. "Rost, your highness."

"I see. Thank you, Rost. Now, if you'll excuse me, I should go change. As you can see, the roads are fraught with danger." She bowed slightly to him and then to Remin before leaving to find her room. The bedroom turned out to be small as well, predictably, but clean and cozy, with a large bed and a fireplace. Someone had placed a vase full of blue flowers on her bedside table, which was a nice gesture. Too bad that Cyreia couldn't appreciate it fully right now, not when she felt so... rejected, really. I'm getting more and more ridiculous by the minute. Didn't I get what I wanted? She had, and maybe that was the problem. People rarely knew what they really wanted, after all. Well, it didn't matter. If Remin didn't wish for some privacy, then Cyreia wouldn't disturb her. She wouldn't sour the mood, either. God knew that her wife shouldn't be forced to deal with this aspect of her, whatever it was. Cyreia put on a purple robe this time; had it been up to her, she wouldn't have chosen such a bold color, but she had to admit that it went nicely with her skin tone. Remin had a good eye for fashion, apparently. Time to go back, I suppose.

"I keep ruining the clothes you find me," Cyreia said with a small smile as she returned and sat down next to her wife. Did she look normal by that point? Hopefully. Some conversation would probably help her disguise the remnants of that strange dissatisfaction. "Wanna bet how long it will take me to destroy this one? I say three days. I can't go longer than that without wrestling an alligator or something like that."
 

Conifer

Member
It wasn’t that Remin had expected Avther to protest the split rooms. She’d chosen them because she had some thought that having their own space is what he wanted - why would she expect him to protest something that he wants? And yet, there’s a small pang when he simply accepts her choice (like he’d done with every other choice she’d made - again, why did she seem to expect differently?) It was for the best, though. Despite the fact that she’s in a less dour mood than she had been earlier on in the day, she’s still no idea of good company. She won’t force that upon him in good conscience.

She lingers to oversee the rest of the room assignments, and assured Rost that they would be wanting dinner sooner than later, before retreating up the stairs herself. Her dress is still dirt-stained and to her absolute lack of surprise, there’s a small leaf tangled into her hair. Gods, what a sight the poor innkeeper was just treated to, the two of them looking like the messes they did. Remin changes quickly. There’s few she has to look queenly for here, so twisting her hair into a clumsy but good-enough knot will do instead of taking the time to brush the tangles from the curls, and slipping into a comfortable shift dress instead of something more refined won’t insult anyone. She’d change if they had any intention of leaving these walls, but if she has any say, they won’t. Spending the evening tucked away is appealing.

She beat Avther back down to the cluttered collection of tables (she had no armor to manage to remove,) and found somewhere for the two of them to sit alone. The guards would be nearby, but...they could perhaps talk without being entirely overheard. That would be nice, though she wasn’t sure what there was that was that important to discuss. Avther returned before their food did, and she gave him a soft, tired smile as he sat with her.
“I admit I’d be impressed if you managed to find an alligator to wrestle here. We don’t have them.” She had only the faintest idea what an alligator even was. Something scaley, she was sure of that much at least. “I’d also be impressed if you managed three days. My bet is two.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Don't tempt me," Cyreia chuckled, feeling some of the weight slide off her chest. It was always like that with Remin, wasn't it? Any signs of bad mood dissolved so fast in her presence. Those comparatively few days they had spent together? Cyreia didn't think that she had ever laughed more than that in her entire life, except maybe for when she had been a child. That had been a long time ago, though; such a long time ago that it might as well have never happened at all. "I can guarantee you that I will find an entire nest of them before daybreak if I try hard enough. Possibly even if I don't. The number of times I found a poisonous snake in my tent? I can't even tell because I just stopped counting at some point."

Meanwhile, Rost brought two plates of something hot and fragrant to their table - some kind of stew, Cyreia supposed - and that made her realize how desperately hungry she was. They hadn't eaten since morning, but stress had a funny way of pushing such urges into periphery when you had to deal with, say, almost being burned alive. Thankful for the meal, Cyreia grabbed her spoon and started eating. Needless to say, Remin's past attempts to cultivate her seemed to do very little to rein her in. Had there been someone to impress, she would have followed those nonsensical rules to the best of her ability, but as it was, Cyreia just couldn't be bothered. She deserved a break from time to time, too.

"But two days, huh?" she asked with her mouth still full. "You know what, I'm feeling confident. Let's make this an official bet. If my clothes survive for longer than two days, you will..." What would be a good thing to ask of her? Cyreia did have several ideas, but none of them would be appropriate to voice in a room full of people. Hell, it would be even less appropriate to demand any of it from Remin under the guise of a bet. God, why did her thoughts go there again in the first place? No, she had to be stronger than that. "Hmm, I don't know. Let's say you will let me do your hair," she said with a cheeky smile. Well, that must have sounded bizarre, but at least it was benign. Certainly better than the other things that came to her mind. And hey, why not? Cyreia had had long hair in the past as well, before it had become too impractical, and she had enjoyed braiding it. It had been a nice, relaxing way of keeping her hands busy. She missed it at times. Besides, Remin had such beautiful hair. "You can ask anything of me as well if I lose. Make it interesting." There was a challenge in her eyes; 'surprise me,' they said.
 
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Conifer

Member
The food that was brought to their table smelled delicious, at least, even if Remin’s appetite was still somewhere off in that field. She picked at it, knowing she needed to eat, but the conversation was an easy distraction from the food and she was grateful for it.
“You...want to do my hair.” She laughs, soft and bemused. She was aware that in all likelihood she would lose that bet - and the thought of Avther’s hands stroking through her hair again was far more appealing than she dared let on. He’d suggested it, anyways. Disagreeing would be stranger than agreeing. “Alright. If you manage two days, you can do my hair however you’d like. And if you manage to destroy something else, then…” But what to demand of him in return? She leans in a bit, looking him over before it strikes her. “You have to paint something for me. Some terrible painting with a ridiculous name. We’ll hang it in the castle.”
That was safe. That was something safe to ask for - safer than some of the other thoughts that ran themselves through her head uninvited.

“Speaking of,” She sits back, forcing down a spoonful of the stew. It’s good, of course it is, but it’s difficult to swallow down. Tomorrow she was sure she’d be starving. That’d be a welcome change - hopefully breakfast was just as good. “I...apologize for not asking earlier.” It’s understandable, and she thinks he’ll forgive that. “Are you alright, after this morning? Nothing burnt?” He hadn’t mentioned anything, so she hopes that he’s alright, but hiding hurt away...she’s more than familiar with that, even if her experience is more intangible. “Maybe we should bring a healer in, just to make sure.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia couldn't suppress her laughter, but she didn't even try to. "Are you sure that this is something you really want, Remin? Because whatever I manage to create will be the monstrosity to end all monstrosities and it will defile the walls of our home forever. Think of all the horrified guests. Not that I care too much, but I thought that you liked our castle. Anyway, yes. I agree. Let's do this." She had half a mind to go change into a different robe to secure her victory - they had never specified that she had to be wearing the clothes she had promised not to destroy, after all - but exploiting that particular loophole wouldn't be fun. No, Cyreia would play fair. Besides, potentially having to paint a picture for Remin wasn't a terrible prospect. Maybe I'll do it no matter how our little bet turns out. Just imagining Remin's expression upon being shown her masterpiece made that plan worth the effort.

Cyreia ate fast, almost without chewing, so she was practically finished with her bowl by the time Remin changed the subject. "Ah, don't worry about it," she waved her hand dismissively. "You had a lot of things on your mind. Besides, I'm entirely alright. There's no need to waste a healer's time, really. I'm not a medical expert, but I like to think that I'd be able to tell if I had any burns. Those tend to be fairly recognizable." Medics usually insisted on seeing their patients at least partially disrobed and Cyreia couldn't have that, now could she? Especially not in this case, when nothing was threatening her life.

"The worst part of it, I believe, was the psychological effect anyway," Cyreia continued, hoping to distract Remin from the idea of finding her a healer. "If I had the time to think about what was happening, I probably wouldn't be sitting here. Fortunately, I wasn't trained to think during a fight," she smiled, a hint of melancholy in her voice. "That's not how it is done. You just kind of... shut down and sharpen your focus at the same time." That doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, does it? But how to explain something like that to someone who had never done anything similar before? It was like trying to describe sky to a blind person. Practically impossible. "In simple terms, I suppose that you just ignore everything that isn't directly related to neutralizing your target. Maybe you're familiar with that kind of focus?"
 

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