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Fantasy All's Fair

Sub Genres
LGTBQ Friendly, Magical, Romance

Conifer

Member
She was easily distracted, content enough with the assurance that Avther thought himself unharmed. The fire had been out quickly and there had been enough other things between the robe and his skin that a burn seemed unlikely, and he was right. He would have noticed. She hadn’t seen him favoring any part of his body on their ride, either, so she settled back and let the conversation shift.

“I...suppose that makes some amount of sense,” Remin replies, taking another small spoonful of her food, processing what he said. Not thinking sounded impossible, if she found herself caught in the same scenario. She’d be dead on the ground. “...I wonder if that’s why your magic hasn’t made itself present in ways you’ve noticed on the battlefield. Dancing, at least the sort we were doing…” She trails off, humming slightly. “You were focusing on - thinking about - a lot, I mean. Probably. The people and the steps and the music and me. Maybe your magic...it could be used to you having a much narrower focus. It could have put out the fire, if you’d thought yourself in danger of it, but because your attention was wholly on Lord Vestat, and downing him…” She’s rambling, lost in the theory of it all. Probably uselessly, really, as she was not truly trained in magic or what caused it. She could just be entirely wrong, and likely was. But it was an interesting line of thinking to her.
“This all could be nothing, honestly. I don’t know.” She admitted. “But if your focus is on your enemy, there’s little time to panic over the danger you’re in, and little room for the magic to exist without putting you in more danger, as it would be a distraction. And especially if your magic didn’t exist before that mindset was ingrained into you…” She shrugs softly, scratching at the wood of the table.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Sounds similar to some of my theories," Cyreia agreed. "Not that I'm really qualified to spin any, but... well, you can't just not think about something that has changed your life quite substantially just because you don't understand it." It was still strange, the idea of her using magic. Strange and terrifying, especially since it tended to manifest itself against her will. Still, though, it had served her well in identifying Vestat as the murderer of Remin's parents. Without it, nobody would have ever found out. Perhaps this can be a blessing as much as it is a curse. Rejecting it entirely had been an emotional choice, Cyreia did acknowledge that, and maybe it would be wise to at least consider other options. She had these powers, for better or worse, and judging by what Remin had told her, they couldn't be removed without causing her significant damage. Why not use them? Because of Eupriunian customs? Cyreia wasn't nearly sentimental enough for that. Not when the results - real, tangible results - could be achieved. Someone had once accused her that pragmatism was her real religion; perhaps he had been right.

"Maybe it also had something to do with my mindset. I was just... relaxed, both during the dance and in the gardens, and that didn't happen to me that often in Eupriunia. You always had to control either yourself or other people, so that also could have kept things in check." And thank god that it had because her countrymen would not have appreciated anything about the magic potential resting somewhere deep within her. "You know, Remin," Cyreia said with a thoughtful expression, "it just occurred to me how lucky I am that whatever kind of magic I have only awakened once I got here. I... um, they wouldn't have reacted well." War hero or not, using magic was a crime. Arcane arts were regulated and even those who had the permission to dabble in them could only employ them in a strictly defined context; namely, in the context of supporting the country's war efforts. What she did - whatever it was - didn't seem like the kind of magic that could accomplish that. "I am glad that you were with me when it happened," she looked at Remin, smiled softly and touched her hand across the table. "You helped me a lot. You always do."
 

Conifer

Member
Remin watches where their hands touch, resisting (for a moment,) the urge to interlock their fingers and hold his there against hers. It’s strange to touch now, in this moment of peace. They’d touched before, quite a lot, but it always seemed to be in moments of pain. This wasn’t not that - there was vulnerability here - but it...wasn’t that, certainly. The danger had surpassed them, and hopefully there would be none tonight. She turns her hand in his and intertwines their fingers. It’s loose, he can pull away easily and she’ll let him go, but...but she hopes her doesn’t.
“We’re just keeping each other even.” She says diplomatically, instead of something softer, but there’s fondness in her tone. “I comfort you about magic, and then you save my life. More or less an even trade, I think.”
She squeezes his hand gently. “I’m glad you’re not in your country, if it’s truly that awful for those who have the ability. I know that we have a higher amount of people who can use it here - but is it truly that uncommon there, that it can be controlled like it sounds like it is? Gods know if we tried that here, we’d be overpowered before morning comes.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Cyreia had no thoughts of letting Remin go. Quite the contrary. She wanted more than that, wanted to sit closer and maybe pull her into her lap, but this had to suffice. Greed would get her nowhere. No, she would cherish those small touches instead. Small touches were good. They were safe, unlike the kisses she wanted to plant on her neck and lips and-- No, no, no. Focus on the conversation. Fortunately, Remin made that easy for her by being entertaining. "That's fair," Cyreia chuckled, her eyes warm and happy. "I mean, you get to live and correct my mistakes again and again. Either way, I benefit."

All of her mirth dissipated, however, the moment she started talking about her homeland. "Before I left Eupriunia, I had never met a single person who could use magic. That's how rare it is. It also doesn't help that those who enchant weapons live separately from the general populace. The official explanation is that they do so in order to perfect their craft, but, well... it is that, certainly, though I've always suspected that the isolation is meant to protect them." How to explain it to someone who had never been to Eupriunia, never observed the way they thought? Starting with the root of the issue would probably be a good approach. "I'm sure that you've heard of my people's attitudes regarding magic, but you may not know that a lot of it is based on religion. Or philosophy, depends on how you choose to view it. It's the same thing if you ask me, at least where I lived." Atheans seemed to conceptualize faith differently, at least judging from her experiences with it so far. Myths and stories, similar to fairytales her mother had told her when she had been little. It was fascinating just how disparate the two countries were. "The general idea is that relying on magic too much makes you weak because it is a crutch. You're meant to overcome everything on your own and draw your strength from that. There are... extremists... who take it to its logical extreme and think that we'd be better off without any kind of magic at all. I guess you understand now why they don't let the enchanters meet other people," Cyreia shrugged.

"It is... complicated. There are a lot of bad rumors surrounding magic, too. I believed in some of them despite knowing that a lot of it had to be propaganda," she admitted with some degree of unwillingness. Would Remin judge her for that? Possibly, but Cyreia didn't want to lie just to make herself appear better than she actually was in her eyes. "I think I still do, in a way. It can be difficult to start thinking differently when you've never known anything else. But I'm trying."
 
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Conifer

Member
“...knowing all that,” Remin replies. “I think you’re trying incredibly well.” Gods know that she wouldn’t have managed that transition as well. All those rules, that entire mindset...it would be hard to break away from, or enter into. And yet Avther was doing it almost seamlessly. She was sure that it wasn’t quite as seamless from the inside, it couldn’t be, but in all outside appearances he was just...ignorant of magic, not seeming to be raised in a culture that actively suppressed its existence and hated the people that involuntarily wielded it. She picks at her food with her free hand. “...Do you think that, once everything’s a little more settled, Eupriunia will want to have us attempt restraining like that?” She couldn’t imagine what would happen. She was honest when she said they’d be risen up against, but maybe Eupriunia would be prepared for that. Maybe they’d stamp it back down without a thought or an effort, and force Athea into that same sort of existence. “Though perhaps they’ve determined that it’s not something to be concerned about if they’ve destroyed us once already.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Well, I suspect that discovering some of my own magic helped in that regard," Cyreia admitted. "It kind of makes you view the entire issue through different lens, you know?" Was she cruel for not really caring about the plight of her magic-wielding countrymen before? Perhaps. Well, probably not cruel, but certainly thoughtless. It's not like thoughtlessness is much better than outright cruelty, though. I doubt the affected people see any real difference.

Cyreia hesitated when Remin asked her question. She should have expected something like that and prepared an appropriate answer in advance, but well, she hadn't. Honesty will be the best policy here, I guess. "I'm... not sure. I haven't received any instructions regarding my rule aside from 'use your best judgment', so that's what I'm trying to do." It sounded preposterous, didn't it? Use your best judgment. Such advice might have made some sense if given to a seasoned politician, but to a soldier? What had king Loran been thinking? Despite knowing him for years, the man was still an enigma to Cyreia at times. "They might try to meddle later. They might also stay away because you are not us. Stamping out magic in Athea would bring you to our level ideologically, so to speak, and that could threaten the whole idea of Eupriunian superiority. I honestly don't know." There was a brief silence as she considered her next words, her expression unreadable. "I know that I intend to follow that last order I was given, though. The one about using my best judgment. I won't just pass ridiculous reforms because they tell me to." Cyreia would probably want to change some things after a lot of deliberation, but there was no reason to destroy a system that worked. King Loran had to understand that. "If that happens, I'll talk to them and explain why exactly it would be an incredibly bad idea. That's a part of my role here, or at least I believe so." Athea had been conquered, yes, but there was no benefit to be found in turning it into a smoking ruin. Cyreia would try to prevent that at all costs.
 

Conifer

Member
Remin pressed her lips together, considering as she listened. That wasn’t as bad as it could be, certainly. There were going to inevitably be changes, and she was prepared for that as best she could be, but there were certain things that simply couldn’t be changed without disrupting every inch of society. Magic? That was certainly one of them. “...Alright.” She allows, tension leaving her a bit as she accepts his answer. “It certainly could be worse. I just-- you need to be aware that I won’t have my people treated that way. And I will do what I can to stop it, should I need to. I can understand and accept some amount of regulation, should the need arise, but...But not like that. Nothing like that. ” The warning was less for Avther and more a message to pass along to the king should it ever need to be passed. Avther would be affected by it too, now - she doubted, especially after this conversation, that he had personal aim to clamp down on magic.
“Let’s talk of better things, though.” She suggests, squeezing his hand lightly. There’s no danger of any of that happening soon, and she’s frankly too tired to worry about it now. “...is there anything you were fond of, in Eupriunia?”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Remin's worries were... understandable, certainly, as was her attitude. In a way, Cyreia liked it. It showed that she truly cared for her people, which was the most important prerequisite of being a good ruler. Skills could be learned, inexperience would go away on its own in time, but you couldn't gain a sense of empathy if you hadn't been born with it. Still, Cyreia wanted to reassure her somehow. "I really don't think that they'd resort to such drastic measures," she replied after a few seconds of thinking. "If only out of practicality. This isn't Eupriunia, after all, and I imagine that it would be a nightmare to try and regulate things too much. You said earlier that even farmers use magic here to support the growth of crops. It's impossible to root out something that runs so deep without destroying the entire structure and... well, obviously that wasn't the goal here. We wouldn't have signed the peace treaty otherwise." At least she hoped so. Her little breakdown of the situation sounded logical, but unfortunately, not everything in this world was governed by logic. What if it really turned out to be a problem in the near future? Well, we will find out soon, so there's no point in inventing catastrophic scenarios.

"Ah. I've made my homeland sound horrible, haven't I?" There was a hint of apology in that question. Remin didn't need to discuss such grim topics today, not after everything that had happened. Cyreia should have provided some distraction instead of pointing out more reasons to be depressed. "That was unfair of me, really. I did like many things there. The country itself is beautiful. You should see it in winter. Everything is covered in snow, from mountaintops to plains, and children build castles from blocks of ice. Well, not just children. I remember the time we were bored - me and my men - and so I suggested a castle-building contest. We filled the entire base with those icy castles and I think that everyone else must have been pretty shocked at the sight of that, but it was fun." The memory was warm, despite the fact that it had been freezing cold back then, and she found herself smiling. It felt nice to be able to talk about this and, well, it felt even nicer to know that Remin cared about her enough to ask such a question. Maybe she didn't and just wanted to keep the conversation going, maybe it was just a delusion, but Cyreia liked the idea of it too much to recognize that possibility. "I lost, by the way, and had to clean the toilets for the rest of the week. That wasn't as fun. Do you do anything like that here? I mean, not toilet cleaning, but building things from snow."
 
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Conifer

Member
“Not really,” she admits. “We don’t end up with a lot of snow here. Some to the north, near Eupriunia, and I’m sure traditions cross borders in that case, but the rest of the country doesn’t see enough to participate in that.” Remin pushes her food away entirely, hoping that Avther will just let the fact that she’s barely touched it pass on by without comment. “Sand castles, though - that’s common at the coast. There’s a few towns that started this party, every year. They build things from the sand, and compete with each other for who in town was best. Then, those champions compete against each other. We attended the finale once when I was young - it was kind of terrifying how much detail they could pull into it.” She smiles softly at the memory. “Someone made a dragon. It was impressive, but they didn’t win. A recreation of one of our more famous buildings did.” Maybe the two of them could try to attend this year, if they could afford the break by the time it swung around. Spending a few days on a beach sounded lovely.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"That sounds fun as well. We don't really have beaches or a lot of sand in general, so I've never even thought of trying to build something from it." Really, though, this just showed that despite all the differences, they were also fundamentally the same. People just liked creating things, even if all that effort went down the drain the moment it got a little bit warmer, or the second wind blew a little too hard. Hell, maybe it was because of it. There was something appealing about the concept of short-lived beauty; witnessing it made it all the more special, kind of like fighting always made her appreciate being alive a bit more. "I'd love to see it if we get the opportunity," Cyreia squeezed her hand slightly and smiled, but then her eyes wandered to Remin's plate. It was still almost full.

"Are you not hungry, Remin?" she asked and tilted her head aside, observing her wife carefully. "I mean, not that I want to chastise you, but you barely touched your meal and you haven't eaten since morning." It was certainly understandable if she didn't feel like eating. The whole affair with Vestat must have left a sour taste in her mouth, both literally and metaphorically. Still, though, avoiding food was never a good idea. Cyreia knew from experience that failing to take care of your body only ever resulted in greater problems. Refusing to eat out of sorrow? Congratulations, now you get to be sad and prone to fainting. Not the best state to travel in, as Remin would have surely agreed, but Cyreia wasn't about to rub it in her face. That would have been terribly unkind of her considering the circumstances. It didn't mean that she couldn't try and get her to eat, though. "Would you like something else?" she inquired softly. "I'm sure Rost would be happy to arrange that for you."
 
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Conifer

Member
“I’m sure we can find some reason to be there eventually.” Remin assures him, smiling softly. They had --well, the rest of their lives, after all (even if those lives would be shockingly short if the past few days were any indication). What would their relationship be like a year from now, she wondered. Five years? Ten? Would they talk freely with each other, or would it only be more guarded? There was little point it guessing, Remin supposed - things would turn out how they turned out. All she could worry about now was their hands clasped across a table and the disappointment she felt at the idea of an empty bedroom.

There was, somewhat unsurprisingly, no such luck concerning her dinner. “I just...don’t find it in myself to eat right now,” She admits, somewhat...touched, was that the feeling? that Avther commented on it, seemingly out of concern more than judgement. “I’m alright. I’m sure I’ll last until breakfast. And I wouldn’t want to insult his delicious meal by requesting something else.” She runs her thumb gently along the side of his hand, feeling the surprisingly soft skin underneath (and wondering faintly what it might be like to touch other places, though that thought was entirely inappropriate at the moment, and she tried to push it away). “I think sleep will do me better than much else at this point, though. Put something between me and today.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Well, if you don't want to insult Rost's hospitality, I can always steal something for you from the kitchen," Cyreia said, unsure whether she was joking or not. Probably, but she could also see herself resorting to it if Remin actually agreed. "Nobody would ever find out. Even if they saw me, I don't think they could convince anyone that the king broke into their kitchen to steal some desserts." The idea was so ridiculous that Cyreia couldn't help but grin, though it didn't last too long. "No, I... get that you probably don't have too much of an appetite right now." If anything, Remin actually took it much better than anyone could reasonably demand of her. Despite everything she had gone through, she sat here and talked with her, pleasantly so, showing no signs of distress. How many times had Remin have to pretend to be alright when she had been anything but that to achieve such self-control? It still impressed Cyreia, it really did, but... it suddenly also felt sad in a way. "If that ever changes, though, my offer still stands. Wake me up in the middle of night, I don't care. I'll get you those sweets."

Cyreia nodded when Remin spoke of sleeping. Sleep, along with time, could heal most injuries. "Would you like to go now? Not that, ah, don't enjoy your company, but... I'd hate to stand in the way of your rest. We absolutely should go if that's what you feel like doing." We? Why we? Separate bedrooms, remember? For a second, Cyreia really had forgotten about that. "I mean, you should go. I'm not even that tired, honestly. But I can see you to your room. To ensure that..." That what? That nobody attacked her on the way there? That she didn't get lost? In this tiny inn? God, how patronizing can I possibly get? Why oh why did she always have to speak first and think later? Cyreia bit her lip, looking almost panicked for a moment, but then she just decided to give up. There didn't have to be complex justifications for everything; not when she just wanted to spend a bit more time with her own wife. "Well, to say good night to you. If you don't mind."
 

Conifer

Member
The thought of some poor cook spotting Avther skittering through the kitchen in search of cake in the dead of night couldn’t help but make her laugh - and the most amusing part was that she wasn’t entirely confident that he was only joking about it being an option. If he asked it of her, she couldn’t confidently say that she wouldn’t do it, especially now when existing in his orbit was perhaps the main reason she was able to find a reason to laugh at the moment. She would repay that, easily, if he asked. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Remin assures him.

Her brow furrowed lightly as Avther rambled, amusement coloring her expression as he tried to recover from his misspeak that she hadn’t even noticed until he tried to cover it. She knew why she’d asked for separate rooms, and maintained that it was the best choice in the moment, but now it seemed...needless. Nearly a mistake. “I don’t mind at all.” Remin stands, not pulling her hand from his as she does. “At this point, it seems almost foolish to turn down an escort. Who knows what may happen in the twenty feet to my door?” She teases lightly as she leads him towards the room assigned to her. Would he stay, if she asked? Almost certainly. Would he want to, though, or would it simply be an indulgence to the whims of a queen?
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Judging by our recent experiences? Nearly anything. I don't think I'd be surprised even if a dragon appeared at this inn's doorstep and demanded a duel," Cyreia said as she walked next to Remin, her heart soaring. She wanted her there, or at least didn't dislike her enough to outright reject the offer, and that felt... well, strangely uplifting. It shouldn't matter so much, it shouldn't matter at all, but she couldn't stop herself from smiling. God, she had to look so stupid, grinning from ear to ear for no reason at all. Cyreia still wished for this feeling of elation to last longer, but they reached the room way too soon and with that, she sobered up.

"Well. I suppose that's it," Cyreia uttered hesitantly as they entered Remin's bedroom. "This is your room, after all." Yet another brilliant observation, but like so many times before, she just didn't know what to say, didn't know how to end this properly. Could it be because a large part of her didn't want to end it at all? I have to, though. Remin had asked for separate rooms, so who was she to disrespect her choice? I have to leave right now. That's what she wants. "Rejoice! We're still alive," Cyreia continued despite knowing better than that, trying to look everywhere but at the bed, which was, predictably, large enough for two. Rost had presumed that they would sleep together, after all. "It's pretty nice here. The decor, I mean." Oh god, this was turning into the most embarrassing instance of small talk in the history of humankind. If this went on for much longer, she would inevitably start talking about weather and that had to be prevented at all costs. "Well, I should probably go before I bore you to tears with... whatever it is that I'm doing, because I honestly don't know anymore." She still didn't know that when she got closer to Remin, wrapped her arms around her and kissed her, softly, on the lips. "Good night," Cyreia whispered, still so close that their lips were practically touching.
 

Conifer

Member
Oh.

Oh, well. That’s.

The thing was -- she’d nearly expected it.
The other thing was that she wanted it. That was never going to cease to send her faltering into uncharted territories of feelings and confusion. She shouldn’t. She’d known him for days, barely even a week, and he was a Eupriunian soldier assigned here to keep her in line, and -- her mind ran blank of more reasons why she shouldn’t want to kiss him, be kissed by him. And yet. And yet. She stared at him for a moment, breath hanging in her throat. He’d said good night, but made no move to pull away from her, and she no move to pull from him. If anything, the bringing of her hand to his cheek only brought them closer together. Fingers trailed, featherlight, up his jaw (a place she’d thought of touching just before, when they were seated at the table and she’d touched his hand. He was soft here, too, sharp bone beneath smooth skin.)
And the mirroring his movements moments sooner, she kissed him. This one, unlike the others they’d shared in brief moments before, she allowed to linger. She wanted to drink him in. She wanted to be close to him for as long as he’d allow. She wanted to drown herself in him, and watch her worries and thoughts linger on the surface, unable to reach her, as she sank down towards the ocean floor - and so she did, making little attempt to break the kiss quickly.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
She shouldn't have done that. There was no justification, no excuse, not when Remin was still recovering from that earlier incident and Cyreia was... well, not who her wife thought she was. A fraud and a liar. Had Remin hesitated a bit longer, she would have pulled away. She would have pulled away, apologized profusely and gone outside to douse herself in cold water because that was exactly what she needed at the moment. Maybe she would have slept outside for good measure, too, just to cool off a bit. That opposite of that happened, though. Before Cyreia could fully comprehend what was happening, Remin was suddenly kissing her and-- all of her thoughts dissipated. Gone in an instant, just like that, along with the pitiful remnants of her self-control. Distantly, Cyreia was aware that she would probably regret this very soon, but the concept of consequences seemed too disconnected from her reality right now. And her reality? That was Remin.

She traced the nape of her neck with her fingers, pulled her even closer so there was no space between them at all and kissed her back, this time not soft, but hungry. Hungry for everything Remin was willing to give her. It was intoxicating, almost like getting to drink from a well of cold water after a long day of marching in desert, except that doing so didn't satiate her thirst. Every sip just made her want more, more and more, more than she could possibly take. Cyreia only broke the kiss when she finally needed to breathe; by that point, she had already turned into a panting mess, her hair messy and cheeks flushed. She stared at Remin with her mouth slightly agape, and she must have looked incredibly stupid, but she didn't care.

"Ah. I... Well. That was... something."
 

Conifer

Member
He looked divine. Soft mouth and flushed skin, hair messy from where her hand had snaked into it - she had hardly kissed anyone besides him, and had certainly never felt this raw draw towards someone before. Remin understood now how people founded muses in their lovers - if she was much of an artist, she’d draw him in the places of the gods, sketched across parchment or painted across linen. Her breath came heavy and clumsy, shaking out of her body as if she’d forgotten how to breath herself and her lungs were trying to teach her again.

Gods, was she falling in love with him? What a dangerous thought.

“It, ah.” She attempts to reply, but words fail her - and that’s just enough time for her mind to catch up. She was falling for him. What an incredibly dangerous thought. She /couldn’t/. The pounding of her heart that had been lovely just seconds before was now laced with panic. She couldn’t do this. He was everything she shouldn’t allow herself to care for. He was a risk, even if it was just his attachment to his country and not him personally. She couldn’t love him. (“Are you a traitor?” She hears in the back of her head, big eyes looking up at her in the park, and the only answer she has for it is “Yes.”) “Thank you for walking me to my room.” Remin manages, voice sharply edged. It’s a dismissal if there ever was one, and her quick pulling away from him only echoes her tone. The back of her knees hit clumsily against the edge of the bed as she just stares at him.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Remin's expression changed and, even before she opened her mouth, Cyreia knew that something went wrong. That brief moment of clarity still couldn't prepare her for what came next, though. The ice in her words surprised her more than what was being said, at least at first, before she fully understood them. When that happened, each of them suddenly felt like a knife in her heart. "Ah. You're... you're welcome," Cyreia replied, wanting to say so many other things instead, but swallowing them all. Well, not that it mattered. What was there left to say? She may have been inexperienced, woefully so, but the rejection was so obvious, so pointed that she couldn't miss it even if she tried to. Remin didn't want her here. Remin had never wanted her in her life, either, and Cyreia shouldn't have forgotten her place like that. "I... I won't take up your time anymore," she said, suddenly seemingly fascinated by the floor. Facing Remin was just impossible at the moment. Would it ever get easier? Just like so many things, Cyreia didn't know, but she did know that she couldn't stay in this room for much longer if she wished to retain a shred of dignity. "Sleep well."

Without sparing her a single glance, Cyreia left. Perhaps she should have gone back to the main section of the inn and mingle with people, but she honestly didn't have the strength for that right now. Instead of that, she headed straight to her room and collapsed on her bed. Well. That's what I get for not controlling my impulses, I guess. There's a lesson in here somewhere. It was probably a good lesson, too, except that Cyreia couldn't see it. Not when it hurt so much. What had even happened there? Had Remin pushed her away the moment she touched her, it wouldn't have been this bad, but... she had seemed to welcome it in the beginning. Had she, though? Had she really wanted it? What if she had just been afraid to say no initially? Cyreia might have forgotten who she was for a while, but that didn't mean that Remin had, too. God, that's what happened, isn't it? There was no other explanation. So the lesson, I suppose, is that I'm a monster. And the worst thing about it? She still couldn't stop feeling sorry for herself on some level, despite the cold dread growing somewhere in her stomach. Cyreia buried her face in the pillow; something told her that this would be a long, long night.

In the end, Cyreia didn't sleep much, and it showed. When she turned up for breakfast, there were dark circles under her eyes. She didn't talk much, either; merely uttered 'good morning' in the general vicinity of the guards and Rost, then she proceeded to stare at her meal. (Did it taste good? She didn't know. She knew nothing these days). It was hard to tell how long she had been sitting there, but eventually, Remin joined her at the table. Oh god, Remin. What would be the good approach here? Should she leave to give her some space? That would be incredibly suspicious in the eyes of onlookers. They still had a decorum to maintain, after all. Cyreia swallowed nervously and, like a coward, decided to pretend that everything was alright. Maybe, if she pretended hard enough, everything would be alright eventually. (It wouldn't, but what else was there to do?) "Good morning. How did you sleep?" She tried to smile, tried to capture some of the warmth that had once come to her so naturally, but it didn't really work. Mostly, she just looked guilty. Guilty and tired.
 

Conifer

Member
The door was barely closed before Remin collapsed back onto the pile of mattress and blanket, her breath coming clumsy for panic and not for stupid, risky, selfish, ignorant, foolish witless dangerous (traitortraitortraitor) -- gods. She brought her knees close, shifting to her side. The bed felt infinite around her. Everything felt infinite around her - the door felt miles away, the candles that sent wavering light cascading around the room felt like the surface of the sun in brightness. The fabric being stained with dampness beneath her face felt scratchy. It was this morning repeated, but she sat alone in a mess of her own making this time instead, with no knight in shining armor beneath burnt robe to hold her as she cried it away and no horse to ride to put physical space between her and it. This, in fact, would ride a horse beside her for the rest of the trip. These walls were thin, too thin, Avther was in the room beside her, she couldn’t let him hear. She pressed her fingers clumsily over her mouth, knowing that would do little to dull the sound but hoping it would anyways.

Eventually, she calmed, but despite the exhaustion that settled into every inch of her, sleep didn’t come easy. She fell into it quickly, body too worn to protest that much of it, but it was shallow and restless, leaving her awake and staring at the ceiling, rethinking the whole evening again, nearly every hour. Eventually she gave up entirely, and busied herself with preparing for breakfast. She had wondered if she could skip it and claim tiredness, or sickness, or something, but she was going to have to face the day eventually. Lingering in this tiny room felt just as difficult anyways.

By the time she made it to breakfast (despite her knowledge that she’d have to face the day, she made no effort to be on time. She hoped that there was a chance that Avther would eat quickly and that she’d manage to miss him and buy herself at least a small amount of time of relative peace) she looked pristine, if you paid attention to the braids worked into her hair or the dress she’d spent time removing every small wrinkle from instead of the exhaustion (both of mind and of body) settled on her features. She wasn’t terribly lucky in her hope. Avther sat at a table, and equally unlucky, apparently this was a popular place to snag breakfast - there were too many people here for her to get away with sitting elsewhere but across from him. Well, she’d sat and smiled and made terribly boring smalltalk before. She could do it again.

“Good morning,” she greets as he does, and then in response to his question she didn’t dare answer honestly, “The bed was comfortable enough.” She wouldn’t lie to him, but she certainly wasn’t going to detail the ways that the memory of their kiss plagued her. Not answering under the guise of answering would have to do. “I trust yours was the same.” It’s not so much a question, and she doesn’t give much space for him to reply before she softens, a bit, though it only leaves her looking more tired. “I apologize for my haste last night.” She says, allowing herself that much. He hadn’t deserved that, even if doing anything else seemed distinctly impossible at the time.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
It was almost impossible to remember that once, they had been comfortable with each other. That this 'once' had been yesterday, not some fragment of a distant past. That they had sat in the very same spot behind the very same table and talked freely instead of her forcing herself to ask questions for the sake of saying something and Remin giving her non-answers. Poor Remin. She looked so tired. Cyreia doubted that she looked much better than her (she hadn't had the courage to face herself in the mirror, so she didn't know for sure), but she deserved her misery. Remin didn't.

Cyreia sighed as she played with her food, chasing the bits of vegetables with her fork aimlessly. None of it made it in her mouth. "No, that is alright, really." Yet another lie, but what was one more lie atop the mountain of lies she had built her entire life from? Nothing. It probably didn't matter that it didn't sound believable at all, too, because it wasn't like Remin cared. Definitely not after that night. "I should apologize here, not you." Not that a mere apology could fix a mess of this magnitude - what possibly could? - but it was the right thing to do. Cyreia prided herself on walking the right path, or at least the most acceptable of bad paths if there were no better alternatives. That, too, seemed like a lie now. Wasn't that to be expected, though? Once a liar, always a liar. It shouldn't have been too surprising that she had managed to deceive herself, too. "I didn't want to..." No, no excuses. "Well, I wanted to, clearly, but I shouldn't have. I should have been more considerate of your feelings. It won't happen again." Cyreia could promise her that much at the very least. Previously, she had been driven by the delusion that Remin might, hypothetically, be... interested in her, in the same way she had grown to be interested in Remin. Now that she had her answer to that particular question, Cyreia would stay away.
 

Conifer

Member
That response wasn’t entirely one that she had expected, and she shifted in her chair, looking Avther over - only then did it really hit her that she might have sent a message that she didn’t mean to send in her hurry to rid herself of the emotions she’d found herself stuck in the night before - and that only made her feel all the more terrible for having done it. (She ignored the pang that followed his promise to never do it again. That was what she should want, wasn’t it? Walls built, lines drawn, neither to be stupidly ignored.) “Avther,” She wants to reach across the table to take his hand. Instead she grips at her fork. “You did nothing worth apologizing for. My feelings were…” This was a terrible path to walk down. “...indulged. Not ignored. I just-- shouldn’t. Couldn’t. Can’t.” She’s too tired, too overwhelmed, to sort the words out neatly. The message is there, laid plain enough, and she hopes that will do. “I should be the one apologizing, and so I am. I’m sorry for what happened.”
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
Ah. Well. That... that wasn't something she had considered. Cyreia looked up from her plate to face Remin properly, relieved and confused and somewhat happy at the same time. The combination made her head spin; she could hear her heartbeat thumping in her ears and she had to wait a moment for her world to stabilize itself once again. Indulged? Could it mean that Remin actually felt the same? It had to. There were no other other ways to interpret her statement, or at least she couldn't see them. Remin... liked her, for some reason, despite everything she was and wasn't. God.

"Ah," Cyreia finally said. Ah, indeed. That wasn't an appropriate answer, though. It could hardly be counted as an answer in the first place. "Well. Alright. I understand." She didn't, at least not fully, but it seemed a bit more clear and that was enough. "It's... it's fine. I was just so worried that... well, it doesn't matter now." She didn't even want to say it aloud, not when she felt physically ill just thinking about it. "Thank you for telling me. My promise still holds true, though. I won't do it again. If you can't, then you can't and I will respect that decision." It hurt a bit, knowing that both of them wanted each other and just... couldn't have that, but, well. Cyreia hadn't been naive enough to think that this marriage wouldn't be complicated. It was just the exact nature of those complications that surprised her time and time again. "But if you ever change your mind, then... Well, I am not going anywhere. I'm still yours," she said with a tiny smile. Maybe Cyreia could be worthy of her one day, somewhere down the line when she proved herself to be more than an enemy. These things required time. And the issue of her secret? She would think about that later. Right now, Cyreia felt too relieved to allow herself to invent additional problems.
 

Conifer

Member
This is anywhere but the place to have this conversation - anyone could be listening, and people likely were. And, gods, while they were being vague, they weren’t exactly being indiscernible (and even if they had been, the soft, fond look on Remin’s face at Avther’s assurance that he’s hers is not subtle. She can’t help the feeling that leaves her with, though it’s touched with so much guilt, and she’s barely even aware of the stricken look on her face.) “I think we’re rather stuck with each other regardless of whether we want to be or not.” Remin replies. Maybe this was just something fleeting - it would pass when they weren’t hounded by near-death experiences and spending every waking moment within twenty feet of each other. She could only hope.

Breakfast went down at least a little easier than dinner had, especially with that somewhat resolved. Remin still felt heavy with the effects of last night, and this conversation changed very little about any of it, but at the very least it didn’t feel crushing to sit across the table from Avther and pretend that nothing had happened at all. She didn’t eat a lot, not cleaning the plate clean, but it was hopefully enough to lend her strength through the day.
 

Aerynth

Senior Member
"Well, I can't argue with the reality, now can I?" Cyreia said and laughed nervously. Maybe I want to be here, though. She hadn't at the beginning, hell, probably still didn't in some ways, but, well, when nobody was trying to kill her, living in Athea had its perks. It wasn't just Remin's presence, either (even if that had to be the greatest benefit, if she were to be entirely honest with herself). Still, it felt like Cyreia could breathe more freely here than she ever had in Eupriunia. It was a scandalous thought, one that could possibly make her a traitor in the eyes of her people, but she couldn't exactly control her feelings. That I certainly can't, Cyreia thought as she watched Remin, warmth in her smile. Was this love? Probably not. They barely knew each other, after all, and they didn't seem to speak the same language from time to time, but even if she didn't love her yet, Cyreia had an inkling that she would. It seemed as inevitable as the change of seasons. She was... strangely alright with that, given the circumstances.

With some of the tightness gone from her chest, Cyreia's appetite returned and she was able to eat everything on her plate. Remin, as she noted, seemed to eat a little better than yesterday as well, which was good. The journey wouldn't be too pleasant for her if she had to worry about falling off her horse due to fatigue constantly. And speaking of the journey... "By the way, Remin, what's our next stop? I'm afraid I completely forgot with... well, everything that happened in the last twenty four hours." And really, could anyone blame her? It had been a roller-coaster of emotions, from dread to joy to this period of calm. Hopefully it wasn't just the calm before the storm. "I just want to know what to expect, even if that wish is probably foolish since pretty much nothing has gone according to the plan so far. I enjoy the illusion of knowing what's going on, though."
 

Conifer

Member
“We should hopefully have a peaceful few days, not to terribly jinx it.” Remin said between bits of egg and vegetable. “If all goes well, we’ll reach the coast by…” she calculates the distance in her head before continuing on. “Around dinner tomorrow and have a few days to rest. And perhaps actually have a bit of a honeymoon.” The implication there isn’t entirely lost on her. Gods give her strength and better words. “Late this evening we’ll reach Hadsberry. We’ll stay with the mayor and her family there. I haven’t personally met them before, but my family’s friendly with hers.” Not that that seemed to mean very much at all anymore. “It’s her, her wife, and their two young children. And five dogs. I hope you don’t mind dogs.” Perhaps she should have checked that information earlier, but...well, she imagined that a soldier had slept around worse than pets. Thinking of soldiers…

“Unfortunately, Hadsberry was...one of the places hit hard by the war. They’re a mining town, producing metal and weapons. And your-” She falters. Yes, his, but no, not his any longer. (She wondered where he’d been in the war. What places he’d left his mark on himself - had he been responsible for some of this damage? Surely he had to be, somewhere.) “Eupriuna thought it strategic to cripple them. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for them, Eupriuna wasn’t wrong, and while Hadsberry tried to fight...Cinzia, the mayor, managed to convince them to stand down. The populous was protected for the most part as a result, but they’re still struggling to get back on their feet.”
 

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