The King

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:20 pm


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Ravenna felt something in her tug when he mentioned her mother. She didn’t move when he called her mother lovely, although her expression changed, and it seemed to have an effect on her. He thinks I look like her. It was one of the biggest compliments that any stranger had given her. Ravenna looked at him in time to catch the flitting smile, if it was even there at all.

He asked if she thought him dangerous, and Ravenna felt a chill run through her. Should she? He never said he and her father were great friends, or even acquaintances. Baldassare’s enemies wouldn’t deny his honesty. Ravenna chewed on her bottom lip before replying a little unsteadily, “I believe anyone staying in this palace has the potential.”

She wanted to ask him about his gift. Her eyes went to his hair which was turning gray for how young he was. She had heard rumors that his gift’s catch was premature ageing, but she knew it would have been rude to ask. The girl seemed to be hesitant to ask him anything, fearing his relation to her family, but she couldn’t help it. “Our families have a similar gift,” she said softly. “But you can choose which time you appear in.”

Her expression turned to one of fascination, wondering more about him and how he traveled. “Do you have a place you always return to?”

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:55 pm

Dante did not blame her for saying the truth: anyone in the Castle really was a potential enemy, and Dr. Bartolo knew it as well. He was not offended. It was amusing, actually: the way Ravenna was acting, the bit of personality she had shown him in their small conversation, was a stunning reflection of the girl’s mother. It was very eerie. He had met Ravenna when she was a toddler--he had helped to deliver the child into the world, close as he was to the family--but she did not appear to remember him. He would not press this, however.

He was not exactly an enemy of the Almaviva’s. Baldassare had seemed to cease contact with Dante after it was clear that Renata was not coming back. Dante Bartolo never really wondered why, he himself was very busy with work, and he could only assume that Baldassare was doing the only thing that would take his mind off of the heartbreak: raising his daughter. Dante saw that he had done a good job thus far.

‘We do have a similar gift,’ he replied. ‘And indeed, I do have a place that I treasure. An island that has not been discovered yet by Europeans, off the coast of the Americas. And do you have a place, Ravenna, that you have visited, which has given you a cherishable memory?’ he asked, paused, and added: ‘Would you like to walk as we talk, my Lady?’

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:27 pm


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She nodded when he offered to walk with her, and the girl took his arm carefully with his own languidly hooking with his, her hand resting on the crook of his elbow. “An island,” she murmured, and her mind’s eye tried to picture him on the sand or in the ocean. Her smile broke out into a little giggle, and she covered her mouth to hide her smile. “I’m sorry, it’s difficult to picture you on a beach.”

She ended up blushing at remarking that, as she wasn’t sure if it was even related to what he had said. An island didn’t mean he went to the beach. Ravenna herself had been on the white sand beaches of France at home. But it was not her favorite place.

“My family, when each member is of age, is put into a special room in our household. It’s a hall full of mirrors, and we pick one to step through on our own. Years before, we’d sometimes go with our parents, or siblings...but then we have a journey on our own.

“When I did this, I stepped through to 1967, and I was in a giant building. It had polished floors, and I first thought it was a palace because there were suits of armor, and huge paintings with white columns and spiraling stairs. But there were so many people. I stepped closer and saw that there was a  sign in front of each piece.” Ravenna paused for a moment. “There was a painting of a king, and even a painting of a peasant. They were beautiful paintings. There was clothing from Egypt, and a plow from the 15th century...I thought it was all beautiful that so many years from now, even simple things  are remembered.”

She remembered how she had stayed for hours, and how Baldassare had been rushing up and down the hall in worry for Ravenna. When she had stepped back through the mirror, her father had grabbed her and held her for longer that she had felt comfortable. Her mother hadn’t been gone yet, but she was showing signs of the Almaviva melancholy. “I must admit I’m envious, Doctor,” she said softly to Dante. “I don’t have a choice where I go when I step through a mirror. I cannot ever go back.”

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:52 pm

Dr. Bartolo knew where he wanted to go. They walked towards the East Wing, and, as Ravenna spoke, he led the both of them to a large staircase, where he led her up the steps. When they had arrived to the next floor, he continued to lead her as he listened to her story.

He did not respond when she had said she could not imagine him on a beach, but really, the area was among the most peaceful he could find. It was not the beach he enjoyed going to--it was the shoreline with rocks which one had to climb, leading up into a cliff. And from there, he could feel completely alone, in warm weather or in cooler weather, it did not matter. As it was, there had hardly been a tropical climate he visited that he enjoyed, and the whole of Northern Europe was very accessible to him. Perhaps he liked visiting it because it had not been discovered yet . . .

He looked down at her. He saw traces of her blush in a passing candle. Her skin was very fair and soft, her hair as voluptuous as her mother’s. He found that he could not stop thinking about Renata, fascinated as he was with her child, whose arm he had in his. He cleared his throat a bit and looked away.
‘Sometimes I would rather have spontaneity,’ he replied. ‘It becomes boring when you can choose where you want to go. There are many times where I have caught myself taking it for granted. The Almavivas are peculiar,’ he said, ‘in that they are powerless. But, you see, your most cherished experience has a lasting impression on you. I cannot say the same for myself.’

They were getting closer to the Eastern Wing. The rain outside was becoming more determined. Dante wondered if there would be a sunrise at all, but he concluded that it did not matter. Watching the sky become lighter while it was raining would be sufficient.

‘Do you have any hobbies, Miss Ravenna? Such as music?’ he asked, continuing the conversation in a different manner.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:33 pm


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She kept her hand over her mouth for a moment longer, glancing away out a window. Her hand fell, and she felt his eyes on her. She tried to ignore it and not think about it. Her shoulders sank down in her little bit of fear and nervousness, and her collar bone exposed under her skin. She wore no jewelry besides the simple bracelet on her hand.

Ravenna had forgotten all about who she was supposed to be speaking with, or the king. Her world always became so small when she was enraptured in the moment, which was often. She also, commonly, felt so small. It was shocking to hear him call her family powerless. Her eyes rose to him with a bit of a crinkled brow, wondering what he meant by it--but she realized it was no insult, just a fact.

Dante seemed to know his way around the castle. Ravenna looked back once, wondering if she would be able to find her way if he left her. He asked about her hobbies, and the girl looked back. “I draw sometimes. I’d like to learn how to make jewelry someday.” She nearly reached through to touch her wrist with her mother’s bracelet. “I had a little bit of wire to work with back home to make an earring or two with stones.”

-

Emerson entered Clovis’ room with a bit of a flourish and went beside his bed. He reached over gingerly to take the covers in between his fingers, and tossed the covers back. “Good morning, Your Majesty! It is the very day you’ve been looking forward to for months, perhaps even years,” Emerson said cheerily with a thick layer of sarcasm beneath his voice.

He went to the windows and threw open the curtains as well. He glanced over at the gifts that had been brought up to his chambers and sighed a little at the ones that had been unopened. Most of the families would expect a sort of thanks for their gifts, and if Clovis didn’t even remember what they were, it would be an issue. “Oh.” His voice went dull. “You didn’t go through all the gifts. Don’t tell me you didn’t have time.”

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:12 pm

If he had insulted her, Dante did not notice. He had thought that she was attempting to suppress a yawn, or else that she was in thought. Dante had meant the remark honestly: the Almavivas were powerless in their destinations, but there was something to be desired in that idea. Bartolo, being so accustomed to traveling by choice, had lost a certain appreciation for the ability. Traditionally those within his family would travel in a humanitarian sense: to collect information that they might assist the rest of humanity. That was why so many of them were doctors.

But to not know where you were going, in matters of time travel, required a certain amount of bravery. The Almavivas were nothing short of brave, and their optimism and adventurousness made them all the more admirable. Dante had meant his statements as one large compliment to her family.

They were nearly there. He could see the windows of the far corner of the East Wing. It was still dark outside.
‘Jewelry making? You should speak to Fiona Azerola about it. I have heard she is an expert at it--she has made jewelry for Sultans who refused to wear the pieces because they are so beautiful. Perhaps you should begin an apprenticeship with her. That is--if your father does not mind.’

He looked down at her again. Dante could not resist another glance. Her resemblance to Renata was haunting him . . .
Dante looked away, quickly. They were finally at their destination, and the sun was beginning to rise. The lifting light cut through the droplets of rain, giving the illusion of falling mist. The view was spectacular: it was the English countryside, with some foothills, streams, and forests. There was what looked like a farm on one of the foothills. It was most likely one of the King’s farms.

---

The King’s awakening was very unpleasant. His balls were very sore from the night before, as he had decided not to empty them. And, what was more, Emerson’s false cheeriness about the day ahead annoyed him. He did not feel happy and he was not prepared for anything. But then he remembered--it all came back to him, last night and everything, when Emerson suggested Clovis had no time for the presents.

Clovis sat up and groaned. His hair was in a mess.
‘Of course I didn’t have time! I had to deal with the male courtesan you told me about. I was as drunk as a bear who has had too much honey.’ Now was the moment of truth. Clovis rubbed his eyes.
‘I cannot believe you pushed me to accept that offer, Emerson!’ complained the King; but he was far from reprimanding his friend. He was teasing him, but he was being cautious at it. He still could not be sure this was the real Emerson, even though this Emerson had woken him up exactly the way the real Emerson would.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:46 pm


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“She is? I didn’t know.” She had not seen an Azerola before, and their families had not been well acquainted. “I think I would like that. I could see her tonight.” But she was also competition. She didn’t know how Fiona might react to competition asking her to apprentice for her. The girl was nervous to talk to anyone, but talking to other women at the ball seemed worse. “Do you know her? Would you introduce me? Do you think she would take me?”

Ravenna wasn’t too certain where the doctor was leading her until they came to a window overlooking the property. “How do you know your way so well?” she gasped as she squeezed his arm a little. But she broke away to come close to the window and look outside. She hadn’t expected it to look well at all with the English rain, but the mist and land made up for it. Her eyes went to the deep forests that were beyond the castle. “There’s so much. The king probably hasn’t even been out to see it all, I bet. It might take a lifetime.”

She smiled a little. “Perhaps, if he takes me, I’ll have to encourage him to take me out there.” Ravenna turned her back to the window to look at the doctor with a bright smile. “Thank you, Doctor Bartolo.”

-

Emerson stopped everything when he heard Clovis mention a courtesan. He stood very still, and several things went through his mind.

One, he had seen an Azerola and knew they were here, which meant there was risk for them getting into business they shouldn’t have been. Two, Clovis had slept with a male courtesan. Three, Clovis had neglected his duties and gotten drunk for a courtesan to spend the night with him. Emerson slowly turned with a frown on his face.

What? I never pushed you to do anything or introduce you to a courtesan!” He walked over to the bed and crossed his arms. The teasing made him flush, because he felt incompetent because of it, and Emerson grabbed a pillow and hit Clovis with it, then threw it off the bed entirely onto the floor. “You slept with a man! You told me that you didn’t even like men! I don’t even know who you are anymore!”

Emerson snapped his fingers. “Up, up. You’ll have breakfast privately. Then, you’ll look through the rest of the gifts to know them at the ball. Dr. Dante Bartolo arrived in the early morning, and there are no missing guests in attendance.” He walked over to the window. “Rain today for your beautiful ceremony as well.”

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:13 am

‘I can introduce you, if you are interested. I think she would take to you perfectly. She is an older, distinguished woman. I think she could use the company of a young girl such as yourself--I hear she gets quite lonely,’ Dante replied. He watched her as she wandered to the window. Such delicate gestures!
‘I do know her,’ explained further, ‘and she is a very pleasant, modest woman.’

The squeeze she had given his arm lingered. He looked at her stoically, imagining a photograph. The instrument for that would not be invented for sometime, but he knew about the technology. He had looked at photographs many times. He wished he had, in that moment, one of those instruments: he would have liked to take a picture of this, the countryside and its rain, the sunrise, the looming window, and Ravenna, pressing herself against the glass.

He took a step forward, but did not come too close to her back. He let out another small cough and looked outside with her.
‘I have been to the Castle a few times, Ravenna. There is no need to thank me. This is a very nice place to watch the sun rise.’ He paused for a moment. ‘You should ask the King on an outing. From what I know, he is not always able to go out. You should suggest a hunting trip.’

---

This was, indeed, the Emerson that Clovis wanted. Immediately he became happier. A large smile spread on his face. He looked up at Emerson, laughed when his friend hit him with a pillow, and, of course, got out of the bed when he was told to. He jumped out of bed to give Emerson a huge embrace. The King was laughing in relief.

‘Emerson! It’s you! I knew it could not have been you who told me yesterday,’ he cried, but then he quieted down. He pulled away from Emerson, taking his shoulders. ‘I did not sleep with him at all. You won’t believe it--I had Costanza come in and I ordered the courtesan to fuck her. I had to drink a lot of wine so I wouldn’t be nervous about it. He tried to walk out on me, but when I threatened to bring in Fiona Azerola--the one who was responsible for the gift--he immediately apologised and did what I wanted. I couldn’t reject the offer. I was very worried about insulting their family.’

He let go of Emerson and stooped to put the pillow back on the bed. He walked to the gifts that were in his chamber and laughed again.
‘O, Emerson. Of course I’ll open the rest of these gifts. I can’t believe how generous these families are, but I feel they so easily misbehave.’ He turned to his friend. ‘Would you break your fast with me? Or did you already? I want to talk with you more about this male courtesan. I am not sure who it could be. I need your advice.’

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:59 am


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I’m afraid to ask the king anything, she thought to herself. Ravenna wasn’t sure how she would survive a hunting trip. She figured she would just be a burden. She wasn’t sure if she could be around the king killing an animal, and worse, seeing the blood of it. “Perhaps I will.” If the king liked it, that was all that mattered, wasn’t it?

“And I still want to thank you. I probably would have gotten lost in the castle if you hadn’t caught me. Father would have been worried when I didn’t show up to the ball. But if you’re willing to introduce me to Lady Azerola, I suppose I should be more careful about getting lost.” Dante was much closer to her than she had thought he had been before, and her eyes fell on his cape’s clasp again. Her eyes lifted to his face and she looked uncertain, although the expression didn’t seem to crinkle a part of her face. Every emotion was easily in her eyes.

She almost asked him about her mother. She wanted to know how he had known her, and what he remembered. She feared asking her father to bring him pain, but the doctor looked untouchable. Instead, she pursed her lips and turned back to the window. “Are you going to break your fast with the rest of us?”

-

He was surprised by the embrace, but returned it with vigor. His expression when he parted, though, was confused. But Emerson was rolling his eyes when the king mentioned himself getting drunk and going through with entertainment anyway. “I know who it was. Asa Azerola. I saw him in the damned hallway before I came to see you.” Emerson was flushed in embarrassment. “I will eat with you, anyway, though. We’ll talk about it.”

Emerson though it through. Any disregard to the family would be worse than good in the future. They did have a good advantage--their gift was a very powerful one. Any slight could cause any of the unruly ones, like Asa, to cause trouble for Clovis and the royals. Emerson chewed the inside of his cheek as he thought and led helped Clovis to get dressed before leading him to his dining room.

“Lord Asa should have his own game played against him. He’s a young lord, and I know he’s easily influenced by those in his house and bed.” He sighed as he tried to think about the list of men he had in his mind. “Send a distraction after him, he’ll forget his game and you’ll have a fair chance with Lady Fiona. I’d hate to punish his family name for him alone. Lady Fiona normally has nothing to do with his antics, and I can’t imagine her being a part of this.”

Emerson shrugged. “Or, just kick them both out.” He grabbed a croissant off of the platter and tore into it. “Or...pretend you don’t know at all, and continue what you’re doing. But he’s going to expect you to bed with him soon.”

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:54 am

Dante did not respond when he thanked her. It was not necessary to respond, he felt, except in the form of a rather subtle nod. His eyes flickered down to her when she mentioned breaking fast. It was another rare moment where he smiled, and even gave out a sound which was like short laughter. He then shook his head, and once again was stoic.

‘No, I won’t be. I will be going to bed. I came here very late into the night--I’m beginning to become tired. I expect I will be sleeping and wake when it is time to get ready for the Ball. You should be getting some rest as well, Miss Ravenna, even if you have woken this early. The Ball will not end early--even when the King has retired, many will continue to dance. Shall I escort you back to your chamber?’

By this time, the sun was levitating from the horizon. The rain pelted at the windows; the sound was loud, and it echoed through the hall. Servants were beginning to pass by them. The servants gave the two looks, but they did not let their gazes linger long enough to pass any judgement.

Dante took a step away from the girl, having noticed their proximity in the light.

---

Asa Azerola? This would make sense. Clovis could not remember if Asa was invited as a guest--probably not, but it didn’t seem to matter as long as the invitation extended to “the Azerola Family”. In which case, of course, it was perfectly legal for Asa to come. Whatever trickery he was plotting, however, was not necessarily par for the course.

This led Clovis to think, as Emerson was helping him get dressed, that there was something deeper happening. Theresa, Clovis’ mother, had warned him about certain forms of treachery, but from what she talked about it did not seem as if the men involved had applied such wicked plans against her. Then again, the economy in Europe was not in good standing--perhaps, if this was the case, some of the more anxious families were plotting to deceive the throne.

Clovis’ mood quickly became serious. Going to his private dining room, he listened to Emerson with all due patience and regard.
‘I can’t kick them out,’ said Clovis. He sat down at the table and a servant poured him tea. The King looked at Emerson. ‘It would be in awful taste if I did. I think other families would be insulted by association if I did that. And, furthermore, if Fiona has no part in this plan, it would be simply awful to do that to her. No, she should stay. I can’t say the same about Asa--however, it could be a bad decision to ask him to leave.’
Clovis paused.

‘Sending in a distraction would be good. God, I don’t want to bed him at all, Emerson. Even if he tried, he would soon find it completely futile. I would not be able to get hard even if he promised me the best damn blowjob in the Kingdom!’ he exclaimed, sipping at his tea. He followed Emerson and also took a croissant, but decided on a piece of spiced cheese as well.
‘I would rather him stop of his own accord without making it seem like I rejected an important gift. How can I distract him? . . . Do you know anyone, Emerson?’ he asked, looking up at his friend.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:44 am


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He smiled and laughed, and Ravenna looked up at him to catch the end of it. She couldn’t help but smile, too, even though he seemed to be laughing at nothing. She took it as exhaustion in the end, and she felt bad for him. “I didn’t mean to keep you awake!” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry. Our chambers are actually in this wing, just on the floor below.”

She took his arm and walked with him through the hall. Ravenna looked up when the servants passed them, and she saw their looks. She gasped softly and a deep blush appeared on her face. She tried to hide it from Dante. That feeling that she wasn’t supposed to be on his arm came over her. She should have consulted her father first before letting him lead her around. Ravenna let her jaw set in secret when they reached the suite.

Ravenna turned to him and curtsied low. Part of her hair fell over her shoulder when she did, and she bowed her head to him. She rose up again and looked into his eyes. “Thank you for the walk, Dr. Bartolo. Don’t forget to introduce me tonight.” The smile was light on her face. “Sleep well.”

She was calm until she shut the door behind her, then she trotted over to her father’s bed. She jumped on the open space of it and shook his shoulders. “Father. Father. You have to wake up. It’s morning. I met Dante Bartolo. Do you know him? He said he knew mother, how does he know her? Is it true that he ages the more he time travels?”

-
Emerson set down his croissant when Clovis mentioned the blowjob and put his hand to his face. “Kings do not mention certain things at the dining room table.” He did not pick up the croissant again but gazed at the table in thought. “I’m not too familiar of the guests’ preferences, only just through rumors…”

And there were so many. He frowned. “Hmm. There is Prince Wachuku. A bit...difficult to get a royal to do anything, sometimes, but it’s worth trying.” He shrugged slightly and furrowed his brow. “I can’t believe he used me like that. I spoke to Lord Azerola for a moment, and he took my identity. He spoke to you privately in my stead.”

The reagent looked crestfallen for a full moment, and he looked up at Clovis. “Your Majesty, I didn’t mean to...disappoint you. I should have watched my guard, or at the very least, warned the guards that there wouldn’t be anyone else for the night. There’s so many potential disasters in the castle right now, and I didn’t check everything on the list that I should have.” His eyes looked away and he sighed half heartedly before taking another bite of the croissant.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:05 pm

Dante did not pay much attention to Ravenna or the servants as he escorted her to her suite. He held the same stoic expression, as if it did not matter whether she held his arm or not, or that dawn was just breaking. Yes, it could have been the subject of servant’s gossip, their being together at such a strange time, but it did not affect the Doctor the way it may have been affecting Ravenna. His reputation would have preceded any notion of conspiracy with this girl. He was too old to play games like that.

He wished her a good morning, and thanked her for wishing him a good slumber. With that, he walked away, his pace casual, his back straight.

---

Baldassare, woken so suddenly from his slumber, thought Ravenna was in trouble. He sat up immediately, alarmed, looking at his daughter, but when she uttered the name ‘Dante Bartolo’, he cursed in French. He put his hand to his forehead and made the sign of the cross, turned to his daughter, and put a hand on her arm.
‘Mon fille! Don’t you know what time it is?’ he asked, and then reminded himself of all the questions she had asked.

‘Yes, yes. Dante Bartolo. What were you doing? How did you meet him? Did I miss the ball? Why are you dressed like that!’ he exclaimed, his questions all countering her own. His brows became drawn. ‘What in all of Hell were you doing meeting with Dante Bartolo dressed like a . . . dressed like that!’

---

The King smiled when Emerson was exasperated at his inappropriacy. He continued to eat and sip at his tea as Emerson talked and brainstormed. The name Wachuku came up, and it brought a whole flood of information to Clovis--things he had forgotten. Emerson was brilliant. Sometimes Clovis felt that Emerson, even though he seemed so modest, was more intelligent than he may have believed he was. Clovis felt he could always rely on Emerson.

When his friend began to apologise, however, Clovis was filled with sympathy. He looked at Emerson with a slight frown, not knowing why he would feel so bad for “disappointing” Clovis at all--but then he would explain.
‘I did not think for a moment it was you, Emerson. Asa Azerola did not know how to act like you at all. When he came in as you and pushed the male courtesan idea, I thought: “Wait, Emerson knows I do not like men. Why would he be so persistent in suggesting that I accept it?”, but rather than saying anything and questioning this illusion of you, I allowed it to happen. This morning, when you came to wake me, I could not be sure it was you, but I beg you not to believe I am disappointed. You are my best friend and companion, Emerson; you know me better than anyone else.’

Clovis then smiled. ‘There are many potential dangers, yes, but you and I are both smart enough to handle things efficiently. I could never reprimand you for not notifying the guard. I suppose it was a good thing for this to happen, because now we both know who we cannot trust.’

The King paused. Then he asked all of the servants present to leave. When he and Emerson were both alone, he leaned towards his friend.
‘To be sure,’ Clovis whispered, ‘we must come up with something to know if we really are who we say we are. If I am in doubt and I ask you, ‘What does an elephant eat for dinner?’, you should say ‘butter on wheat’. If you ask me ‘Where are the Mongols today?’, I should reply ‘in the Roman palace’. Emerson, we must be careful. I will speak to Wachuku at some point and introduce him to Asa Azerola. He himself has many concubines. I am sure the Lord Asa would admire him.’

With this, Clovis leaned back into his chair, taking a bite of cheese.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:44 pm


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“Everyone else is waking. The servants are up preparing for the day.” When he cursed after hearing Dante’s name, the girl paled, staring at him in fear that she had done wrong. He had been kind to her, he had talked well about Baldassare and her mother,...had she been played false? “He was downstairs early in the morning when I was awake, and he took me to see the sunrise on the upper floor. He spoke well of you, and of mother. I didn’t mean to upset you.” By the end, her voice quivered.

When his brows went down as he looked at her clothes, Ravenna drew back and frowned. It had been a dress that mother had owned, like much of her clothing, but she had not thought of what impression it would give. Ravenna would not mention it was mother’s to Baldassare, knowing it would break his heart, which was worse than anything else in the world. It was nearly as bad as disappointing him. She had wanted to tell him about Lady Fiona, but everything was wiped from her mind.

“I didn’t know,” she stammered. “I wanted to come to you right away to ask you who he was, but he didn’t smile strangely, or give a bad impression. I thought I was alone downstairs, and he offered to walk with me,...I’m so sorry, father.” She was near tears. “I’ll change my dress. I didn’t think of it. I didn’t think it looked so bad. I’m used to having Ellie help me dress at home,...I should have known better.”

-

The reassurance had Emerson just purse his mouth, but he nodded. “And you are my best companion as well, Your Majesty.” And my only. He was in a great state of in between in his ranks. Everyone below him had to obey him and look up to him, although Emerson had never wanted that honor, and Clovis had to look up to him and order him, but ended up being his greatest friend. Emerson had never tried to find a bride for himself, as he dedicated himself to his work instead. He supposed if he wanted one now, he would have to find one in one of the royal servants. But he really didn’t see the need.

It was an interesting story how Emerson had been picked to become the reagent. His father had been in the council, and had come up to taking the boy to the council meetings whenever he could. So Emerson had practically grown up in the castle, and eventually, became an adviser himself. And it seemed in a flash, he was at the king’s side. His father had been a distant cousin of the Seagraves, which is how he had found himself in court, but had married a commoner. Which meant that Emerson had inherited the 50/50 chance of not having a gift, and took his mother’s common name, Dracing.

Emerson looked around with curiosity when Clovis dismissed the servants. He leaned closer to listen to his king, and laughed boisterously at the plan. “I will try to remember. ‘Butter on wheat’ and ‘where are the mongols today.’ Alright.” He leaned back and took a drink of wine. “Are you prepared for the ball? Is there anything you’re looking forward to in particular, or is the whole thing entirely dreadful in your prediction?”

He had made sure to pay attention to all of the potentials in attendance so far, and had been highly favorable of the younger candidates. They were more able to be molded and learned underneath tutortage and Clovis’ word. “Cosette Voltren has great potential, I think.”

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:17 pm

When Baldassare realised how he had hurt Ravenna, his eyes became wide and his mouth opened into a deep frown. He could not stand to see her cry. He did not want to cause her any pain--he had just been shocked and worried about her.

The father opened his arms to her and took her in them; he swallowed her into his heavy torso, having her sit on his lap as he squeezed her tight.
‘My daughter, please don’t feel bad. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel that way! I was only worried about you,’ he said, putting a hand over her head and taking the circlet off. He placed it next to him on the bed, and raised his hand again to stroke her hair.
‘My little blackbird, it’s all right. Dante Bartolo is not a bad man, you haven’t upset me. Now, let’s see . . .’

He began to rock her in his arms as he tried to remember the questions she had asked him.
‘Yes, your mother and I both knew him. He was a good friend of ours. He delivered you into this world. He’s a very great Doctor, probably one of the best on this earth, and one of the kindest. He would not hurt a fly.’
He could not believe he neglected to tell her about Bartolo. He was speaking without connecting his emotions to the issue. ‘And yes, the Bartolos’ hair whitens over time when they travel. Do you have any more questions, blackbird?’

---

‘Cosette Voltren?’ Clovis replied, the name trailing off his tongue as if he had forgotten who that was. When he remembered, he nodded. ‘Yes, the Lady Voltren. I have never met her. She is a year older than I am, I think, and I hear she is a ravishing beauty . . .’ he said. But his mind turned to Costanza. He had a fantasy with her, the peasant--he sometimes thought of what it would be like to run away with her to the Italian villa she had come from, to have a farm with her and many children. He wondered what that kind of life would be like. To him, Costanza was all he wanted: a simple yet profound beauty, modest, and with a body like a large silk cushion.

‘I am more or less prepared for the ball, I think. It is only a little bit dreadful. But there are, of course, people I would love to meet. I’m certain the bachelorettes are very lovely . . . I am eager to meet them. My favourite part will probably be the music, honestly; I have to say, it has been a while since music has rung through the halls of this castle.’ He smiled. ‘Will you be courting anyone, Emerson? Perhaps you would like to dance with the lovely Cosette? Believe me, I would not mind if you took some of the attention. In fact, I would say you deserve it.’

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 5:16 pm


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The girl threw her arms around his shoulders and embraced him, swallowing her tears and breathing deeply to keep them down. “I was scared to have disappointed you,” she murmured. Her relief was immense, though, when he assured her he hadn’t meant what she thought. She leaned back to press her cheek against his chest, sighing with all the relief in the world. “I don’t ever want to disappoint you.”

She tried to think of more questions, having thought she had so many when she had rushed into the room. “Is he married? Does he ever smile?”

It was a worldly comfort just to have her father hold her for a moment. It made her almost forget her mother, and wondered if it helped Baldassare forget, too. There was a bit of anger underneath it all, she was sure for the both of them, at her mother having abandoned them. The Almavivas always had a choice. There was never an excuse to travel in time and never come back. They had to appear in a mirror, so they had never seen a time without one.

-

Emerson watched the king’s face as he trailed off in thought, and he raised a brow. He hated not knowing what the king was thinking, and hated to think there were secrets. Although they were great friends, he feared the unknown in the only thing he was close to. The king spoke of music, and that was something Emerson did look forward to, as well. He did love music. It was something that let his emotions out and had him feel without repercussion.

He snorted when Clovis asked him about courting, and tried to cover it up with a sniff and a rub of his nose. “I wouldn’t subject myself to such torture.” Which was half true. Any house he might court he would also be subjected to be rejected by, as he had no gift. He would be a poison to the family. Surely, Clovis realized it. Or perhaps it was easy for him to forget that Emerson was not like him. “The girls are here for you, not me, anyway.”

He drank more of his wine, hoping he would be able to have a little buzz that might be able to survive through the day. Although he wanted to make his work perfect, it would be less painful with a little alcohol in his system. “I might make sure Lord Asa had a little trip in his step tonight when he goes to dance as well,” he muttered into his cup.

-

Hart woke in a sweat.

It was not uncommon to feel all the feelings of those around him in their dreams, their nightmares, and their hopes and fears of the night. He felt a couple pass, one having a feeling of great reminiscence and yearning and the other with great uncertainty. It was very early--the sun was just rising. He covered his sweaty face and groaned into his hands.

He got up to wash himself and dress. He thought of Cosette--he knew where her room was, but didn’t want to intrude. He thought she would be preparing for most of the day. He dressed and tried to look more handsome for the day. It might have been the overwhelming feeling to impress Cosette, to make up for their childhood friendship and show how much he had grown,...and to perhaps cover up his weakness and faltering ability.

The flask on his nightstand was still there. He took a deep swallow of the liquor and put it inside his belt for later. He straightened himself and went out into the hall. Ulisse was just passing by his room, and he looked back with a great smile on his face. “Lord Hart!”

Hart looked up and tried to hide his grimace. Ulisse came over to him and shook his hand. Ulisse had a feeling of pride and great arrogance, as though he had something to hold over Hart’s head--which he most likely did. “Ulisse. I didn’t think you would be invited here.”

“I wasn’t. I asked for an invitation, and good King Clovis did so well to oblige. Your cousin is here as well,...Cosette, is it?” He knew her name before he asked and Hart’s hand tightened into a fist. “Yes, Cosette is here to court the king.

“My sister is here as well. Perhaps they can get together and become the greatest of friends. I’m not sure they’ve ever met. She’s in a bit of mourning, though, over our brother Jacob. He died at sea last month, if you’ve heard.”

“I have,” Hart answered, although he felt no sadness on Ulisse’s body. “I’m sorry for your loss.” The anger that Hart felt against the Ayleharts was their treachery at sea. They had sunk many of the Voltren’s ships for fun, thinking it was a game. Of course, they had no proof that Aylehart was directly involved, but the sailors came back with stories. “Perhaps we’ll see you both at breakfast.”

“I hope so. Why don’t you walk with me, Hart? I could use a friend.” Hart obliged and walked to the dining room with Ulisse. His eyes searched the room immediately for Cosette, trying to contact her through emotion of frustration and helplessness. Almara was sitting at the end of the table.

Almara, Hart could not deny, was an exotic beauty. She did not deny it either. Her curves were apparent through her tight dress and she wore a collar of gold that held up the red cloth over her heavy breasts. Her dark eyes stared right through Hart and his teeth set. “I was going to sit with my cousin, if you would let me,” he said to Ulisse through his teeth. It was not a happy morning thus far. Almara, to make it all the better, rose like a slumbering cat and glided over to Hart.

She thrust out her hand and Hart took it to kiss it. “Lord Hart Voltren,” she said smoothly. “A pleasure to finally meet you. My brother talks highly of you.”

“Almara Aylehart,” Hart said clearly. “It is a pleasure to meet you.” She had the same feelings as Ulisse and it made him sick. She also had a feeling of great mischievousness, as though there were underlying plans in everything she did. Cosette, Cosette, he thought. Please save me. Cosette could handle this better and block out the emotions he felt from them, but already, Hart’s head was swimming.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 6:18 pm

Baldassare smiled when his daughter embraced him. He continued to rock her, holding her close to him, closing his eyes. He was happy that she was no longer upset. He would hate for her to think she was a disappointment to him!

‘Does Dante Bartolo smile?’ he repeated, laughing heartily. ‘I don’t think so. If anything makes him smile, it’s irony. He’s very cerebral, even though he may not show it. I don’t think he’s married, either. Which is a pity. I used to tell him, “You know, Dante, you’re really good looking. You should find a beautiful Greek woman,” but he never took me seriously.’

Baldassare knew that Dante had affairs, however, but he did not want to mention that to his fourteen year old daughter. He laughed again. ‘He’s a very strange one. But we got along well, we were always showing each other things we got time traveling. Your mom was always bringing us to parties, too. It was fun.’ He did not register that he had spoken about Renata. If it affected him at all, he did not show it.

---

Much like Hart, Cosette had had similar problems in sleeping. She had tossed and turned in the night, experiencing other people’s emotions in strange dreams or nightmares: exactly like Hart, actually. When she woke up, she spent a long time looking into the mirror. She had servants bring her hot water to wash the sweat from her face.

They helped her dress for the day: she would wear a simple pale purple dress, with a bustier, and a cashmere shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She allowed her hair to drop freely about her shoulders, running down her back, in liberated strawberry tresses. In an effort to add colour to her pale face, she applied a rose-coloured oil to her cheeks.

When she was finally satisfied with the way she looked, she left her room to go to the dining hall, where the servants said she could break her fast. As she left, a man in a nearby room stepped out.

He was tall and had dark skin; he was definitely from some part of the Orient. Cosette could not tell from where, but he was dressed in rich pinks and reds and golds of the finest silks. On his head he wore a red and black cap. His face was extraordinarily sensual, with the thick lips of an African man, and the deep dark eyes of an Arab. She sensed a murky feeling from him, something she could not steadily decipher, and she looked at him with curiosity. He met her gaze and smiled politely, his teeth perfectly white.

‘Good morning,’ he said. ‘Are you going to the dining hall as well?’
‘I am,’ she responded, and approached him. ‘Forgive me if I sound rude--I do not think I saw you at the guest’s reception yesterday . . .’
‘Ah, I am Ahmose Wachuku, my Lady, a prince of the Near East,’ he responded, with a voice as deep as the desert. When she came close to him, he offered his arm. ‘Shall I walk you?’ he asked.
She took his arm without responding. ‘A prince?’ she asked. ‘How come we haven’t met?’ she coquetted, laughing lightly.
He laughed along with her. ‘Well, even if it is our first time meeting, it is my honour. You are the Lady Voltren, are you not?’
‘And how, pray tell, did you know that?’ Cosette asked. She still could not figure out what he was feeling. It was ambivalent.
‘I know almost everybody,’ he responded.
This man was becoming even more of a mystery. ‘Well, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Prince Wachuku.’
‘Please, call me Ahmose.’

They continued to talk superficially. They talked about the rain, about the ball, but Cosette did not ask him why Ahmose was there specifically--or how it was that he was invited. She figured that the King had gone out of his way to invite everyone who mattered in the aristocratic world, and that Ahmose had been one prince he was dying to meet. The prince seemed nice enough.

It was only when they came to the dining room that she was distracted. Emotion--pouring out from a fountain. She looked and saw Hart with the siblings Aylehart.
‘Please excuse me,’ she said to Ahmose, and left him. He watched her walk away, his features serene, but ever enigmatic.

‘O, my darling cousin!’ Cosette announced, approaching the group. She ran to him and hugged him around the neck, bringing him into the warmth of her shawl. She kissed him on both cheeks and parted from him. ‘You look wonderful this morning, my sweet Hart.’ She took his hand, squeezed it with affection, and then looked at Almara.
‘And you have company!’ she exclaimed.
Cosette let go of her cousin’s hand to approach Almara, kissing her on both cheeks. ‘You must be Almara Aylehart,’ she said. Cosette felt her cousin’s anger, his frustration, and she felt it seep into her. She understood why he felt that way. The Ayleharts had nothing in their souls.
Cosette turned to Ulisse, and now it was her turn to offer her hand.
‘Ulisse Aylehart,’ she said, with a flirtatious smile.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:33 pm


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“He was interesting. He left me wanting to know more about him, he hardly said anything about himself.” The girl sighed, relaxing, and ended up kissing her father’s cheek before she pulled away from him. “He recommended I sleep a little more before the ball… I think I might.” Ravenna grabbed the circlet on the bedside table and turned it in her hands.

“I’ll tell a servant to wake me. You won’t have to worry.” She disappeared into the boudoir and returned in a light nightgown. “I told one to wake me in two hours.” Ravenna watched her father from the doorway for long moment, then went to him to embrace him once more, pressing her cheek to his, then kissing both his cheeks. “I’m so glad you’re here with me.”

It only took a minute or two for Ravenna to return to sleep in her bed.

-

Hart hardly noticed Cosette until she took his hand, and he squeezed it so hard, he was certain later that it must have pained her. “Cosette,” he said in greeting, but his anger was overwhelming. How could a man who knew he had plundered thousands of dollars from him, act jovial to him? His neck was red, but his cravat and beard at least covered most of it. Cosette most likely felt the heat on his cheeks when she kissed him.

Almara smiled and took Cosette, returning the kisses. “Lady Voltren,” she greeted. Her eyes went straight down Cosette’s front, and her head tilted playfully to the side. Her eyes turned away, however, when she noticed the Egyptian prince, dark skinned and handsome, and her eyebrows rose.

Ulisse took up Cosette’s hand and kissed it, then met her eyes. He returned the smile, and rose with his eyes not leaving hers. “A pleasure to meet you, my lady.” He kept her face in his eyes, and there was a strike of guilt that went through him. It was not enough guilt for it to become regret. The feeling turned into lust as he watched Cosette. Ulisse squeezed her hand before letting it go. His eyes went to Hart, who was nearly trembling.

“Have a good morning, Ulisse,” he nodded to the man. “Almara,” he nodded to his sister. Ulisse took Cosette’s arm with a little force and took her away to the table. “Those...god-damned thieves,” he hissed. “I felt how he looked at you. He’s taken two of my ships before, and I know he’s taken more of my Uncle’s.” A growl sounded deep from his throat as he pulled out a chair for Cosette.

-

Asa had slept quite well. When he came down to the dinner table with his mother, he was already thinking about his plans. He wanted to ensure Costanza did not return upstairs that night. Asa sat his mother down and sat with her for a while and had some wine and ate some crisp bacon. But his eyes were always looking around. He stopped on the Egyptian prince, darker than almost any man he had ever seen, and he stayed there for a moment before moving on to the Ayleharts, then a few others.

His interest stopped at Elisa Cabrera, who was quiet at the very end of the table. He knew her from sight. He looked to Fiona, and said softly, “Mother, I will be back.” He stood up and walked to Elisa. He knelt beside her. “What are you doing here?” His voice was a whisper.

“I had to come. Lord Cabrera had no one else.” Her eyes looked up at him. “I hope you’re not causing too much trouble, my fox.”

Asa smiled warily. “Nothing you would not expect. Is there anything you need?”

“Nothing you can do,” she muttered before turning away. Asa touched her shoulder lightly before pulling away. He pulled a servant aside and asked for Costanza. She pointed to the kitchen and he headed around, back to the main hall. He changed his hair and eyes and went into the kitchen to find Costanza, a smile on his face. “Costanza,” he whispered to her and took her hands. “I came to wish you a good morning. The king gave me beautiful clothes for today.” He pulled her aside, away from the other servants in the kitchen.

“I didn’t want to leave you disappointed today.” His eyes looked at her lips and he seemed to have trouble looking away. “Can I make it up to you, my lady?”
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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:07 pm

Baldassare was relieved when Ravenna decided to go back to bed. He thought it was very nice of Dante to escort her around the castle. He had not seen Dante for several years, not since they had both accepted the loss of Renata. After that time, Baldassare did not like to be in the company of others, the only exception being his daughter and those who had any connection to her--parents of her friends, her tutors, et al.

He gave a big sigh and got up. He went to his bathroom and prepared to shave. He was planning on looking moderately acceptable for all the shenanigans that would happen that night. He would drink, and drink, and drink to try to make up for his own reservations about the circumstance . . . his daughter’s possible betrothal, and the face he had to put on for the other nobles.

---

Cosette remained contained, but the concentration of all the different things she was feeling caused her to become dizzy. It was difficult to maintain eye contact with Ulisse. She felt his lust, almost as if he was penetrating her body, and this mixed with Hart’s anger, Almara’s apathy, and whatever else everyone was feeling in the room, made her feel like she was going to faint.

She almost gasped for air when Hart brought her away. She sat down in the seat he had pulled out for her, and she looked dazed. Her hand affected her the least, of all things--the slight pain in it was nothing in comparison. She looked at her cousin and bit her lower lip. Her strange coloured eyes reflected her struggle.
‘I felt it too. This is impossible,’ she said, putting a hand over her throat. When Hart sat, she put a hand over his thigh, gripping him. ‘Hart, you must calm down. It was too much. I know what they have done to our ships, but we must stay composed. Be flirtatious, let yourself be distracted by Almara. She is incredibly beautiful--imagine yourself pulling her hair, wrecking her from behind. God knows it’s the most degrading position! Perhaps that would ease your fury?’

She removed her hand from his thigh to take a goblet. She demanded wine, and when it was poured for her, she took a long drink.
‘Cousin, I am so deeply troubled. I feel them looking, feeling, looking at you and I and each other, ever judging, ever lusting. It is almost like living in their sick little power struggles,’ she said quietly. ‘What an exhausting act.’

Ahmosa, too, had been looking around the room. He had sat in a corner to isolate himself, much like Elisa--he looked at her for a while. His eyes hovered very shortly on the Ayleharts, after Cosette and Hart had left to sit on their own.
The prince sipped at his tea. He ate some sourdough with butter and chewed very slowly. Soon, his eyes laid on Asa, perhaps after Asa looked at him, but Ahmosa stared. He stared very hard at Asa, who sat with his mother. He watched Asa get up and go to Elisa, who he spoke to shortly; and he followed with his eyes as Asa left the room to go to the kitchens.

After Asa had left, Prince Ahmosa sipped at his tea and looked down at the table. He thought for a while, and then took another bite of bread.

Costanza was confused when Asa came for her specifically in the kitchens. She had been busy making a large pot of tea to be delivered to the guests who had wanted some, as well as servants. They were making breakfast for everyone, and were also beginning to prepare for the large feast that would happen that night.

She thought he was visiting her out of some amourous obligation. Honestly, she had no idea that he was bribing her. Her first thought was that he was, but perhaps the money was for her, to compensate for her already difficult job as a servant. Perhaps he was giving her something extra, but really, the money was so much! She would not have any idea of what to do with it. As with disappointment, perhaps he believed that she was in love with him? Of course, she had thought about how he made love to her, so passionately, but did he really feel so strongly about her?

‘Sabin? How come you look--you look different?’ she asked, innocently. She looked at him with her wide Italian eyes, searching for his reason. ‘Leave me disappointed? What do you mean? Oh--’ she flushed deeply and looked away. It was her modesty.
‘Really, Sabin, I have to cook. You don’t have to make it up for me in any way, really.’ She looked up at him again. ‘You gave me all of this gold last night, by the way--was that what you meant to give me? It was so much, I had to hide it under my bed. I thought you wanted me to keep it for you. I - I wasn’t sure what you wanted me to do with it.’

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:50 pm


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When she grabbed his thigh he stiffened like a wild animal that had been caught. She began describing himself taking Almara, and his face grew red, and he whispered, “Cosette!” He looked down at her with a frown, but a smile began to break through. “You keep surprising me with what you say. You must stop that.”

He swallowed, though, and tried to restrain the feelings he felt, and tried to be stronger for Cosette. When she put her hand beneath the table again, Hart took it and squeezed it. “Lets just focus on each other. We can trust each other and have no secrets. No one else matters.” He leaned down to her to whisper this. “Let us eat, we can talk a little with the others, and that will be that.”

The image of Almara passed by his mind’s eye again and the man shook his head. “Lord, Almara,” he laughed. “You are...a curious soul.” He released her hand to take his own requested wine and drink deeply. He thought of Cosette and Cosette alone, feeling her stress, her anxiety, and her struggle. Hart frowned a little and said softly to her, “I’m sorry for that. I need to control myself better. But it’s good practice for when you’re an influence here.”

-
Asa’s smile was tight when she said she had no idea what the gold was for. Her innocence was absolutely dreadful. She was so stupid. It was a shame that the king was so fond of her. He cleared his throat and leaned down to her ear to whisper to her, “I was asking you not to come to the king’s chamber tonight. It was the wish of the family who commissioned me. Keep the gold for yourself. Take it tonight after the ball is over and go out into town.”

He pulled away and looked into her eyes and tried to keep them there. “I just wanted to check on you.” He looked genuinely kind about it, and looked up and around the kitchen. “Alright. I’ll let you be.” He touched her waist. He would look like a nobleman, anyway. The servants wouldn’t mention it. He leaned down and kissed the top of her ear gently. “Goodbye.”

Asa left and looked down at his clothing. He couldn’t risk it. He left and went upstairs to change into a different set of clothing, and left the bedroom just to catch Emerson. “Oh, sir,” he called. Emerson turned and his expression was not very contained: a glare was reserved for Asa. Asa smiled easily.

“I was so easy to forget yesterday to mention to you the king’s gift from the Azerolas. A beautiful fox kit ins in the stables for him in a cage. I didn’t want to bring it inside in fear for his preference.”

Emerson’s face screwed up and he said carefully, “I believe you gifted him with a male courtesan last night?”

Ah, the answer Asa wanted. Asa immediately frowned and shook his head. “No, good sir. The Azerolas did not give him something of that sort. I apologize for the lateness of the gift today, though.” Asa made a good show of looking confused and a little offended. “Good morning.” He moved away from Emerson and returned to the dining hall, looking at his mother with a smile. He sat down beside her and acted as though he had just returned from washing his face.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:40 pm

Cosette smiled at her cousin when he mentioned it would be good practise. When he had whispered in her ear it had inevitably given her goosebumps: she had practically melted at his suggestions, as comforting as they were. And then she asked herself a question in her mind--but it was one she would save to answer for later. She did not want her emotions to give her away.

‘Do not be sorry. It happens--I’m sure there will be times where what I am feeling will overwhelm you . . . and why should I stop making crude suggestions? I think you rather enjoy them, Hart. Your mind always seems to linger back to it.’ She sipped her wine and stared at him. She was feeling a little better, and this time she was studying her cousin. Cosette was observing his features.
‘Have you ever made love before, Hart?’ she asked, her eyes not leaving his. ‘I am under the belief that drinking wine and making love are the only remedies for our gift.’

Cosette smiled at Hart mischievously. ‘I think you should definitely make love to Almara.’ She leaned closer to him, putting her hand on his thigh again. ‘My darling Hart, I think you should try to rip all of the emotion out of her.’

--

Costanza listened to him, did not say anything the entire time, but watched him leave. After he left, she seemed to become increasingly depressed. She did not want to be bribed like that, nor did she want to betray the King. She did not know what to do. Would she obey Sabin, and not come that night, or would she arrive anyway, and give Sabin his gold?

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:12 am


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Cosette was staring at him, and Hart was blushing deeply. He feared Almara would see, or anyone else at the table. But why did he care? He wasn’t trying to win anything. It was difficult to even think of Almara when Cosette was the one whispering to him and holding her hand on his thigh.

Hart swallowed. He had only taken one girl in his entire life, and that was a servant, alone in his house, in her  own bed. It had been secluded and gentle. Here, Cosette was speaking out in the open about these things, and it was making him hot. His hand clutched the arm of the chair.

What was worse, is underneath the table, he was growing hard. He couldn’t rise from the table to escape from Cosette in fear that it would be rude, and, someone might see his nervousness. “I’m more for liquor.” His voice broke when he spoke lowly. He wished he could drink from his flask. Feelings of yearning filled him: for alcohol and for sex.

He tried to concentrate on Cosette’s feelings. Mischievousness, wanton, and a hint of nervousness that Hart tried to latch onto. He didn’t need to search to know her curiosity was peaked. He had a vision of Cosette in the room with them, watching him and Almara. Two emotional vampires feeding on the lust of one woman. Hart shook his head silently and grabbed his cup to drink his wine deeply. He reached under the table and placed his hand hard over Cosette’s. “You must stop,” he said in a soft pleading voice. “You know exactly what you’re doing to me.”

He nearly leaned over the table to push the cup of wine back beyond his plate while he grit his teeth. “I have before, when I was two and twenty.”

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:34 am

Cosette had indeed felt mischievous and incredibly impulsive. She could feel him becoming lustful; she knew he could feel what she was experiencing, but she was much better at hiding it than he was--or so she thought. She could feel the heat emanating off of his body; felt him focus in on her; felt his anxiety.

When he pleaded for her to stop, she became very sympathetic. She confused herself in a moment: what should she be doing? She almost felt shame, but it was also his shame. Cosette did not want Hart to feel ashamed.

Cosette looked away, but kept her hand on his thigh. His hand was on top of hers, but she was very driven. She took a sip of wine. ‘Two and twenty?’ she repeated. Even with his hand over hers, she brought her hand further up. They were sitting close together--Cosette had all confidence that no one could see what she was doing.

She put her fingers on his hard member, the head of his cock. She felt electricity, and then whatever pleasure he would had had from her touching him. Her knees trembled. Cosette gasped slightly and immediately pulled away. Now it was her turn to blush and be uncomfortable.

‘I . . .’ she began. Cosette did not want to look at him. He probably would have felt that--her feeling it, he must have felt it. She certainly felt it. It could have been ecstatic, but it was too much. Not for the dinner table. Cosette looked at Hart and bit her lower lip. ‘Have you . . . have you thought about what you are going to wear tonight?’

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:16 am


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Emerson followed far being Asa as he went down to the dining hall. His eyes went to Prince Ahmosa and he smiled to himself. He walked over casually and leaned down to his shoulder. “Your Grace, the king has requested to speak with you at some time today. He will be in his study this afternoon, and his chambers this early evening, although his preference is in the study, if you would be so obliged. He has an intriguing proposition for you.”

As though it was nothing, he parted and went around the table to make sure everyone was content with themselves. His eyes fell over the Ayleharts, the Voltrens, the single Cabrera, the missing seat for the honored Bartolo,...And he sighed, pleased with the morning. Clovis was pleased, too, it seemed, and that was what made him most content.

-

Hart was suddenly very wary of mind readers, or anyone who could know about himself and Cosette and their position. His heart was pounding. He thought he felt her moving her hand higher up, and Hart breathed sharply through his nostrils. His eyes could not glance at her in the moment, and his emotions turned to confusion, to wonder: was she really about to…?

He trembled when she touched him and he tried to restrain everything in his being that pushed him to cry out. This was the worst and best thing he had ever experienced: feeling Cosette’s feelings conjoined to his so they couldn’t tell whose was whose, and having her fingers along his thigh, pushing up to his member….

Shame filled him that he felt such pleasure from it when he should have been protecting her and encouraging her to go for the King. What made it worse was the discomfort he felt in her afterward, and he wondered if she had meant to do it--he wished, halfheartedly, that it had been a mistake--but he knew it wasn’t because of the electric pleasure that had gone through the two of them. He wasn’t supposed to be here, he realized. When they were children, they had been innocent, and they didn’t know the world of sex, of pleasure, lust--now they were sinful, and Hart knew that two Voltrens, sensitive to all of the above, would be drawn to each other.

His mind was no longer on Almara, but all on Cosette, and how unique and pleasurable it would be to have her. The desire was absolutely unbearable now. He quivered and pushed her hand off of him altogether and pushed over the cup of wine on the table. When multiple guests looked at him, he felt shame and embarrassment, and his erection left him in a breath. Hart stood up. “Excuse me.”

Hart walked quickly to the kitchen door, but Emerson caught his arm. Hart looked down at the man and was met with a smile. “My Lord, please. I’ll have it taken care of. There’s no need for you to lift a finger, much less your whole being.” He felt kindness, and almost a hint of worry from Emerson. His nervousness must have been obvious. His eyes avoided Cosette, all while he was ashamed, guilty, worried, and still desiring. “Thank you,” Hart said breathlessly. He must have looked crazed. “I have to attend to something; forgive me.”

Hart left the dining hall and rushed up the stairs, but halfway, the silence of everything overtook him. He paused and gripped the railing to just feel himself and nothing else. His eyes closed and he just breathed slowly, in and out. The quivering in his body was done, at least. His mind was still on Cosette. That single touch was still on his mind, and all he could see was her face. He just wanted to touch her and feel her emotions with his. It was the worst kind of lust.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:56 am

Prince Ahmosa had been observing Cosette and Hart for some time. There was no suggestion on his face that he knew what they were doing, but he continued to sit still and watch them. When Emerson came to him, he was not taken by surprise at all. He did not look at the King’s Regeant when he had bent to tell him of a meeting he was to have with the King. He only nodded once and said, ‘Thank you, Your Grace.’

After Emerson had let him be, Ahmosa had continued to watch the Voltrens. When Hart knocked over his wine and excused himself, Ahmosa looked down and smiled to himself, chuckling silently. He lifted his eyes only to watch Hart leave, shaking his head. What a dumb man, he thought. His cousin was a beautiful girl, and he denied her. The Prince looked at Cosette.

Cosette looked at her wine glass and at the spilled wine on the table. It would stain the fine woodwork if it was not cleaned properly. She watched the servants’ hands clean up the wine that was spilled, and when Cosette realised she was in the way, she got up and took a step back. She watched this scene unfold--it was incredibly symbolic, the spilled wine, and the servants only added to it all.

She wanted to cry--she felt incredibly awful. Cosette had felt everything that he felt. Before she touched him--it was almost as if their feelings were together; the uncertainty, the desire to stop, the curiosity to continue, the anxiety, the lust. And when she touched him it was a brief second into what could have been an extreme pleasure, the feeling of which any drug abuser or hedonist dreams about. Her fingers and body wanted to melt into him, at that one touch, beginning with the thigh: ever so sensually, traveling up.

But she stopped because, if she had continued, both of them would have lost control of their bodies. She knew it--at least, she thought she knew it. The sensation had been lovely, and the connection they shared as Voltrens made it all the more better . . . but perhaps all the more dangerous, as well.

She looked around and tried to hold in her tears. When she knew she would not be able to, she walked as elegantly as she could from the room, and when she was in the hallway, walked even quicker. She began climbing stairs, and stopped when she saw her cousin. It was too much--she felt his confusion, his shame, and she had to come up more; she passed him, and lifted her skirt over her ankle so that she could run toward her room.

When Cosette reached it, she went in and closed the door behind her. It had been like a dream: all of these feelings, passing fluidly in and out, like water, like so many different colours, tense and relaxed and ambivalent. Hot and cold. She sat in front of her vanity. She could not stop feeling what Hart felt, what she had made him feel. She put her hands to her face and began to weep.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:33 am


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He felt someone coming, and he knew it was her. His eyes lifted to her, and met hers, and he saw how upset she was. It was so much worse feeling her and seeing her like that. His mouth opened, to speak to her, but he could barely say her name. “Cosette-...” She lifted her skirt and ran down the hall. He covered his face and breathed. He wanted to go to her, but he resisted. She had to be alone.

The most frustrating part was he didn’t know if she was just feeling emotions from the overwhelming feelings exchanged between them, or if she was extremely hurt by his gesture. He was more worried about the impression they had both given at breakfast. He had to make up for it. It was his fault.

He cleared himself and pushed out his chest as he descended the stairs. He ended back into the dining hall and went to sit by himself and eat. He felt the Ayleharts’ eyes on him, but he looked up at them and smiled, and their pride diminished a little. He talked to others and mentioned how Cosette hadn’t been feeling well, which he ignored other questions of in a polite smile. “I’m sure she’ll be fine for the ball.”

-

Ravenna choose a dark purple gown with the same circlet she had worn in the morning. The servants helped her dress, and she sat in the mirror and stared at herself. She looked like her mother. The girl asked for them to put a necklace on for her. It was a heavy necklace with an amethyst drop that laid on her pale breast with intricate silver frames. Smaller amethysts climbed up her collar bone in twined silver. A piece from her mother’s jewelry collection.

She touched it fondly before rising. She went into her and her father’s chambers. She looked at him and smiled with her hands nervously playing at her dress. “I’m ready.”

When she took her father’s arm, she felt calmer and more confident. However, her heart was beating rapidly when they reached the doors of the ballroom. It was not empty anymore. There were servants on the outside of the ballroom floor, and people were already beginning to fill the floor to dance. Families were decorated in flashing colors, and the musicians in the corner were playing music that rang through the hall. It overwhelmed Ravenna. “Papa, I’m afraid to let go of you.”

-

Asa wore a doublet of brown with gold trim and was waiting in the ballroom. He was not one to go and dance with one of the girls immediately, and was content enough on the outside, leaning against the wall. He had encouraged Fiona to go out and dance, and watched her among the rest. His eyes flickered to Elisa, who was trying very hard to not be noticed by the musicians, being more interested in watching them play.

He sipped at his second glass of wine and was thinking of moving onto a third. This would be the boring part. He was waiting for after the ball when he would entertain Clovis in Costanza’s place. It was a shame to think Clovis would soon be dancing among girls that he would abandon for a measly, dumb peasant girl from the kitchen. Asa scoffed behind his wine.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 3:09 am

The Royal Ballroom was large and oval. The floors were made of the finest marble, and there were rugs of sable where the refreshments were, which were on the sides and by the entrance. Most of the guests had eaten together, or privately in their rooms, before the Ball. At both sides of the orchestra that played, there was one staircase leading up to where the King would come from, but he had not arrived yet. The railings were made of gold.

There were giant windows on the ceiling--the skylights--and large, beautiful paintings of baroque mythological stories on the walls. It continued to rain outside, and the drops of rain created an incredible mosaic against the skylight glass. It had not even begun to become dark outside--the time was only six o’clock, and the ball had already begun.

The musicians were playing something soft. Plenty were dancing.

Baldassare had not taken very long to get ready--he wore understated garments--, but he was already relaxed on wine by the time they went to the ballroom. Ravenna was beautiful. He had already promised himself that he would keep a close eye on her, to make sure she would not be stolen away by some stranger who wanted to show her “something in their room”. He reminded her about the winking system, and warned her not to follow anyone out of the Ballroom without his permission.

He looked down at her when she said she was afraid to let go, and he smiled.
‘Dante is here,’ he said. ‘Would you like to say hello?’

Dante was dressed, oddly enough, in all white. He had forsaken his black attire for a fresh costume of garments tailored for him, including a beautiful white overcoat with red trimmings. His hair was impeccably done, and he seemed to be speaking to Fiona Azerola, who was in a bountiful deep golden dress. Her face was marked by a wistful sort of sadness, but despite her age, which was around the mid forties, she was very pretty.

Cosette was also in the ballroom. She had just arrived, seeming somewhat grim, but particularly lovely in a cream coloured ballgown. Her long sleeves were made of lace, and she wore her hair loose, as she always did. She seemed nervous, and immediately went to the refreshments, where she began a conversation with another guest, sipping wine and smiling.

Ahmose, having been there for a while, approached Asa. He had been speaking to aristocrats who were unrelated to this entire experience, but who had been given open invitations for their patriotism. Bankers, artisans, and others were all present. But now Ahmose would approach Asa and speak to him.

‘Lord Azerola, are you not enjoying yourself?’ was the first thing he asked, as he approached Asa in his scoff. Ahmose, who leaned on the wall beside Asa, looked down at the Lord with a penetrating gaze and a questioning half-smile.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 3:38 am


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“No,” she replied immediately. “I don’t want to do anything.”

Ravenna would have normally wanted to look at the mosaics on the wall, but she was too nervous to even think of them. The gold made her look to Fiona in her dress, and Ravenna thought it was peculiar that Asa was no where near his mother. She felt a little bit of pity for her, suddenly, remembering what Dante had said about her. It surprised Ravenna to see Dante talking to Fiona so soon.

She looked up at her father again from Dante, and smiled a little in jest. She walked over with her father and curtseyed to Dante and Fiona, letting go of her father’s arm for just a moment. “Doctor Bartolo. Lady Fiona.” She remembered having to memorize portraits of many of the guests before attending for her studies. It was always interesting to see what most of them looked like in reality compared to their still counterparts.

Ravenna faltered in what she should say next. She didn’t know if either had danced, and she didn’t want to make it seem as though she was asking for an invitation by mentioning it. She gazed at Dante and his white coat and groomed face. Her eyes went up to meet his. It came out in a quick rush when she spoke. “Did you recover from your late night arrival, Doctor?”

-

Hart was panicking outside the ballroom. He didn’t want to run into Cosette in fear he would hurt her or make her emotional. So he stayed outside near the staircase. He paced constantly. He went to the window and looked outside into the rain. All he could think about was Cosette.

He thought about leaving entirely. He was a bother to her, a distraction, and all he could do now was kill himself in worry. Of all the nights he could have done this to her, it had to be the one that was potentially the most important of her life. His mouth quivered as he thought at the window. He ended his thoughts by exiting the wing to go outside underneath an awning. He leaned against the wall and shut his eyes and block everything out except the sound of the rain in his ears.

-

Asa turned his head to look up at the prince. Asa wasn’t sure he knew who he was. He had not seen him before, and it was obvious he was not from anywhere many of the guests were from. The lordling lowered his wine glass and cleared his throat. “I came to support my mother, Lady Azerola. I didn’t expect myself to be too involved with the ball itself.”

His eyes narrowed slightly, half out of curiosity and the unknown. He didn’t like not knowing. He wet his lips in his habits and asked carefully, “Forgive me, I’m not certain we’ve been introduced.” Asa felt tempted to raise his hand to the man’s face just to see the contrast, and he was alarmed at that instinctive feeling. His eyes looked away to watch the guests again, wondering to himself where Clovis was. Emerson was not in sight, either, most likely helping the king in preparation.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:23 am

Baldassare, when Ravenna pulled him towards Dante and Fiona, followed his daughter without any qualms. As he expected, Dante had looked at him with no change in his expression, and Fiona greeted them with a polite smile. Her grey eyes had lingered on Baldassare, who felt a little embarrassed. Ravenna made her introduction, and Baldassare gave a sheepish grin.

When Ravenna decided to speak to Dante, Fiona stepped towards Baldassare. No one liked to be left out of a conversation, and it was apparent that the girl had a certain admiration for the Doctor.
Dante looked down at her with his steely eyes and said, ‘O, yes. I did. Thank you for asking. And, might I say Miss Ravenna, you look perfect. The envy of every woman in this room.’ He said this in such a dissociated manner that it was almost unsettling. Dante paused. ‘Fiona,’ he said, turning to the woman, who was speaking to Baldassare about traveling, ‘Ravenna here has told me that she is interested in jewelry craft. Would you take her on as an apprentice?’

‘Would I, Dante!’ Lady Azerola smiled. Her eyes looked tired, but she had a very graceful posture. ‘Baldassare, I did not know your daughter was taken in by jewelry,’ she said. ‘Why, child, did you make this beautiful circlet yourself?’ Fiona asked, gesturing to the circlet on the girl’s head. Fiona, strangely, was not wearing anything extravagant. The only part of her which was as intricate as jewelry, other than her dress, was the intricate blonde braid which fell down her shoulder.

--

Cosette, in between and during conversations, scanned her eyes around the room to see if she could find her cousin. But he was not there. He was nowhere to be seen. This depressed her--she wanted him to be nearby, she wanted his support. Was he that upset with her? O, how frustrated she was becoming! She could not stand it. And then she felt it--the slight pang that let her know a Voltren was nearby. She had felt his emotion for a moment, and she wanted to follow it.

She put down her wine and excused herself from any and all conversation. Cosette followed this trail of his, ignoring any servant who asked her if she needed help. She did not care what it was, if the King himself was coming out soon to greet everyone, she wanted Hart to be there with her. His presence and sensitivity was what she wanted, especially for such an important occasion.

She found him outside, leaning against the wall of an awning. Cosette approached him slowly, avoiding bringing his feelings in as her own. She concentrated on simplicity, on composure, on peace.

Cosette came up to her cousin and softly touched his arm.
‘My dear Hart,’ she said softly, ‘please forgive me for acting so impulsively. I did not mean to hurt you or make you ashamed of me. I wanted to . . . I wanted to see what it was like. Would you--would you come back to the ballroom with me?’

--

Ahmose had to suppress himself from smiling even more. He continued to gaze at Asa, almost as if he was attempting to pierce him by doing so, but his eyes turned to the ballroom when Asa had said he was unsure of having been introduced.
‘My name is Ahmose Wachuku. I am a Prince of the Near East--my family is in Egypt,’ he replied. ‘I came here, much like you, in support of someone.’

He once again looked at Azerola. ‘You look as nervous as one of the King’s potential brides, Lord Azerola,’ Ahmose chuckled. ‘I would not wear a face like that, if I were you. People will begin to think you are an awful guest.’

After saying that, Ahmose abruptly left. He went to one of the servants and asked for something, and it was brought to him. It was a long pipe with tobacco, and a servant lit it for him. He smoked it as though he were in the Orient, standing in his different coloured silks, with a small white turban this time, speaking to no one, but watching a particular group of people.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:13 pm


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Ravenna was at a loss with Dante’s compliment. It might have sounded like to anyone else that it was sarcastic, or in some way, not serious. But the girl smiled lightly and tried to look confident. “Thank you, Doctor.” Fiona seemed much more easy to read and Ravenna nearly sighed in relief at her smile and kindness.

“I would be honored if you would take me.” Ravenna reached up to touch the circlet on her head, as though trying to remember which it was, and she laughed a little. “I did. It’s simple enough to make. I wanted to learn how to make bracelets and see how to set jewels, too. Perhaps more like this.” She held out her wrist to show her mother’s bracelet. “I’m not even sure where this is from, but I’ve always admired it. The doctor said you were renown in your practice, my lady.”

-

He felt her coming to him before he could react, and another moment, she was beside him. The man turned his head to see her and saw the worry on her face, but felt more gentle emotions come from her. She could not hide the hope inside of her, though, and he knew she wanted him with her. “Cosette…” He sighed when she apologized to him and asked him to go with her.

In return, Hart turned to her and clasped her arms. “I am not ashamed of you. I have never been so proud of you and the beautiful, intelligent woman you’ve become. It is me. I am ashamed of how I desired…” Hart shut his eyes, giving another resigned sigh. “Desire you when I should be supporting you and protecting you. It was like a taste of something I’ve never had before, that no man has ever had access to. We shouldn’t have felt that. We’ll become…” Animals. They would never want to leave each other if they gave in.

Hart swallowed thickly. “But I will do whatever you wish. I will go back with you.” He forced a smile. He was still worried about her, and confused about what the right thing to do was. Gently, he leaned down to touch his forehead to hers. “I’m sorry for this morning. I really am. When I get scared, I run.” He let go of her and took a step back to just watch her with intent eyes. He was calm, now, taking back that demure emotion she was giving off and making it his own.

-

Asa grew flushed at the prince’s comment and grit his teeth. He turned to reply, but the prince had parted from him to have his pipe lit. Asa watched him with a glower. He didn’t like it when anyone spoke to him like that, especially if they didn’t have the courage to stand with him after. The young man hid his scoff and turned to a more emotionless expression to watch the dancers. His wine glass was empty and he held it out until a servant poured him another.

The comment was off putting, more than Asa had expected it to be. One of his potential brides. Asa, deep in his soul, wish he had some potential to be. But he was born a man, which meant he had to marry one of the girls here to be anything. He had a choice to either marry a woman to have a family, or be content with a male lover, and have no family. His heart constricted when he thought of the only choices he was born with. Asa looked more at the prince, and frowned carefully. The prince would never know that of him.

He drowned his dreams and nightmares into the wine he drank. He watched his mother speak with Dr. Bartolo and the young Almaviva and her father. The girl looked charming, and Asa felt a bit glad his mother was talking to others. At least he had succeeded in something in his visit thus far.

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Re: The King

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:16 pm

Fiona Azerola looked over all of the child’s work. The older Lady’s hands were small and delicate, but looked to be quite nimble. Her eyes, which were blue, seemed to look at every detail of it, to imagine the girl’s hands at their work. When Ravenna showed Fiona the bracelet on her hand, and had said Fiona’s work was renown according to Dante, she looked at the doctor and smiled. Fiona then looked down at Ravenna.
‘So I am,’ she replied, grinning. ‘This piece looks to be from India. I would imagine that a dancer wore it a long, long time ago. I can absolutely help you, Lady Ravenna, with the art of making jewelry.’

Baldassare seemed very grateful that Lady Azerola was offering this chance to his daughter. It would be a great enterprise for Ravenna, to learn about something she loved and to have such an incredible artist to teach her. Dante stood there, looking at the two girls. He had not spoken to Baldassare yet, but somehow, neither of them felt a problem with each other. Baldassare knew Dante would speak to him later, and Dante knew Baldassare had no ill feelings.

‘We shall have to see. Perhaps I can ask the King’s Regeant to help me accrue some supplies,’ said Fiona to Ravenna.

--

Cosette listened to her cousin with all attention, battling his worry and confusion with remarkable feelings of placidity. Meditation had helped her to send out these feelings, to calm herself down, and she remained quiet to Hart’s words as he spoke. When he leaned his forehead against hers to apologise, she smiled and remembered when they were little children, taking a nap in the brush together after looking for faeries.

When he pulled away, she gazed at him, her eyes swimming and swimming. She wanted to embrace him, but he had said he did not want to desire her. He felt it was wrong.
‘Cousin, I won’t tempt you any longer. I only want you by my side, as you needed me this morning when you were furious at the Ayleharts,’ she said.

Cosette took his hand and began to lead him inside.
‘We must go now, cousin. I think the King will make his entrance soon.’

--

Though Ahmose seemed not to pay attention to the Azerola, he would glance at him from time to time with his deep murky eyes. Ahmose continued to smoke his tobacco, and was approached by a lady who wanted to try it. He smiled and allowed her, telling her exactly how to inhale, and when she was done, he began to blow smoke rings around her face. The man escorting the lady did not seem very pleased about it. He seemed jealous--the prince had a natural charm.

But after the lady and her escort had left, his eyes went up to the staircase. In only a couple of moments, a trumpet sounded. The musicians stopped playing what they had been, and began to play something else entirely--theme music for the King’s entrance.

Everyone stopped what they were doing to look up at the stairs. The music played, and the King began to walk down, dressed in a crème au beurre patterned silk doublet and charcoal coloured breeches tucked into tall boots. His hair was worn loose in waves, and on his back was a grand black and yellow cape.

‘King Clovis the First!’ a booming voice called out. ‘Of the Roshaun family!’

When he came to the bottom of the stairs, his face was straight and serious. He showed no joy yet. Inside, he was a bit overwhelmed, but he hid it very well.

‘And now for the introductions of the bachelorettes and their families!’ called out the same booming voice.

Clovis waited at the bottom of the stair to be introduced. The families, before the ball, were given their order. It would be the Ayleharts, the Almavivas, the Azerolas, the Cabreras, and the Voltrens.

‘The Ayleharts!’

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Re: The King

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