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Timber [closed] Read 17553 times

Beau

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Timber [closed]
« on: May 18, 2014, 10:44:17 pm »
He was going to die here.  No one would question how Beckett Warrington ‘knew’ that, but he didn’t share the prediction, keeping the quiet secret to himself as he stared at the stone walls of his prison.  The quartz and limestone mixture was pretty in the morning sunlight.  The rosy dawn cast rainbows in the air and Beckett could reach out a hand and toy with the horseshoe shaped colors if he wished, letting the green and gold weave through his long fingers.  He wasn’t shackled.  In fact, the bed he rested in was quite lovely with its elaborate draperies and soft sheets.

All the better for pleasant dreams.

Of course the one he’d awaken from wasn’t pleasant.  The palpitating heart beat faded and the sweat dried on his pale skin as he watched the color symphony.  What he wanted was some air, so he pushed aside the heavy quilt and stood barefoot on the cold stone floor.  He scratched his scalp and ruffled his ashy blond hair, sending into typical disorder, short enough to not fall in his eyes, but a touch too long to be merchant tidy. 

Not that he’d ever be mistaken for a business man, his roguish smile and desire to dance for no reason would give him away if he tried to pose as the stoic vendor in the market place.  And his voice – well the gravely sound wouldn’t mix if he had to yell ‘dates for sale’ more than a dozen times. Not from around here, they’d say.  And someone would notice the ruby red earring. Ask questions. Then before he knew it…

You’d be right back here.

And yet he knew exactly what he was doing as he gathered the gauzy scarf from the wooden chest in the corner, along with the neutral colored clothing and boots.  The secret stash was on the bottom of the chest, wrapped in a blanket which he returned to the stack of folded, more opulent clothing. 

“An hour,” he quietly promised himself.  Then he might be able to breathe again.  Do what needed to be done with the rest of his day.

Beckett draped the scarf over his head and wrapped the ends around his neck.  A hooded cloak with provide additional concealment and the commoner clothing was softer and more comfortable than the royal white.  For a moment he could sigh with contentment as the worn weave brushed his skin and took some of the burden from his shoulders with an air of make-believe.  However, his eyes caught on hanging dress-robes which awaited his return as he opened the window and they fluttered in the breeze.  The festival was this evening and the queen was quite insistent that he’d accompany her into the city for the New Year.

“An hour,” he repeated as he crawled onto the window ledge.  His agile frame knew how to twist and balance on the narrow row of stone.  He’d done this before, although the occasions were becoming less frequent.  Not because the desire was less, but because his fear of discovery was greater.

Blue eyes glanced down.  The fall would kill him.  The castle was nestled in the clouds but the mist would not break his fall.  The world was far, far below.  He could remember what it looked like, even though it had been two years since he’d been home.

One step and you could end it.

The thought wasn’t the first.  He’d known despair, although these days it was less.  Suicide seemed the cowardly way out after all he’d been through.  For a moment his foot hovered in midair.   He lifted one arm leaving only two points of contact with the stone wall.  It was faith and not fear that pushed the second foot off the ledge.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 10:47:08 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2014, 11:29:57 pm »
The woman with the gray eyes was an enigma within the court of the Queen. It was not just her novel presence, either, though that did not help matters.

She spoke the language of those in the Clouds perfectly, but there was an accent. It was not her own, but none here knew that. The language she wrote in was also not her own, nor did it belong to the accent—it was one no longer spoken, one called “dead”, but it was still read.

The attire she preferred was made in the Cloud city, but the designs and patterns were not. They were not of her home, but also, stolen. She called it ao dai. They matched her accent.

She attended the religious ceremonies out in the open, but spoke fondly of a Mother she once knew, one she named Yolanda. It was not her deity, though. That one she had no intention of naming any time soon, and she had a healthy amount of respect for Yolanda as it was.

Everything about the woman was a mixture of stolen cultures, save the name she gave. That, Mira Alekar, was sincere, and it was her own way of playing a game. One truth and a thousand lies. She was amused by how little the people of the Sky knew of those on the Land. It was something she used to her advantage as she moved through the society.

So few of the Sky wanted to descend to the Land. Here it was paradise, after all. Here they were told they were of a superior nature to those on the Land, and that the positions of others were all pre-ordained. Funny then, how Mira Alekar ended up in the court of the Queen. It was a mystery to many, and Mira knew of all their questions, all their suspicions. There were half-formed plots all around her, to get rid of her simply for all her presence represented to them: a threat to their comfort.


‘If only they knew.’


It was the thought that kept a coy smile on her lips at almost all times, and it was that smile she shared with the Lord she passed in the hallway as she made her way out of the castle.
“Good morning, Lord Hendrick.” The r’s rolled, a purr in her voice. She always spoke quietly, but the low vibrations carried. She paused, unwilling to walk away from him.

She brushed a hand back to move a few strands of wavy brown hair back behind an ear. Most of it was put up in something of an inelegant bun. She didn’t put the time into it. She’d merely wanted it out of her face. It had grown quite long, descending past her hips when let down.
“Good morning, Alekar.” He held his chin up and looked at her through half-lidded eyes. Green.

He never attached ‘Lady’ to it. He never thought of her in a positive way, never considered her deserving of the position the Queen gave to her. He had not known her prior to it, which was a month ago. That fed his envy, for he hated how quick she seemed to move into the Queen's confidence, and spoke quietly to those who heeded his whispers that it was a sure sign the Queen was not a fit leader--she trusted too easily.

He thought quite a bit of how things could be better, which was unfortunate for him.
“Where are you going so early?”

It was hardly early in her opinion, but she humored him. She had been up before the sun,
“Where I always go, Lord Hendrick,” she answered him. She’d created a schedule for herself, because it was his desire that she have one. It suited his dreams of her removal, and she wanted to bait him into trying.

There was a shop in the market that supposedly sold goods from the Land, and it received new shipments this morning, like clockwork, each week. Oh, they were always genuine, but they were rarely anything special. The novelty of it was what got them sold. Tomatoes of the Land were desirable, because they were ‘different’—even if they tasted the same.

This sort of behavior always amused her. The things of the Land were desired for their exoticism, but the people below were viewed with negativity. The few ‘compliments’ they received were always backhanded.
“Do you need me for anything, Lord Hendrick?”

His thoughts came up with plenty of reasons, but his mouth answered,
“Not at all. I just wonder why you do not return home as you seem to miss it so.”

The smile remained on her lips,
“Invite me to dinner some time, Lord Hendrick, and I shall feed your curiosity. If I may?” She always pretended to be at his service, his to dismiss. It fed his ego, lowered his guards.

He rolled his eyes, and made a motion with his hand,
“I won’t keep you from your grapes.” She’d made a weekly habit of buying them, and was seen eating them around the castle. They were nothing special, just part of the character she crafted. 

She nodded, bent her knees and bowed her head, before moving on and leaving behind the castle. She had freedom to move, and the fact she was on the Queen’s court offered its protection when she left behind the walls. Even so, she kept her own personal guards up, and herself on alert.

There was chatter about the marketplace, and eyes followed her as she moved. She’d long ago accepted that she would stand out because of her preference. The attire she chose to dress herself in, the ao dai, simply was interesting to others. The morning’s ao dai was a lavender hue, light colors for mornings, and a wonderful contrast to her darker features. The color seemed to give a purple hue to her eyes. She would wear something more formal that evening, in a darker hue. She wasn’t yet sure if the Queen had something in mind for her, though. She hadn’t seen the Queen personally in a couple of days, so she knew not the woman’s plots.

The outward chatter was of little interest to her, and easily tuned out. The woman instead listened to what others did not hear as she walked through. Most of it was nothing of importance, conversation about the festival for the New Year and how excited people were for it. Plans. Clean slates and clean sheets.


‘It is not as easy as that.’
The optimism was cute in its naïveté.

And just as she thought to give up on her browsing the minds of others and go to the shop she always went to, an interesting one turned her head from the window.

Beau

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2014, 03:14:12 am »
With a thump, Beckett landed on the back of a giant eagle.   He hadn’t yet mastered the grace of an experienced rider, so he scrambled a bit, grabbed a few feathers and worried over how much he might have hurt the bird.   

He mumbled, “Sorry, Aredane,” as he pushed himself upright and let his legs fall over the bird's shoulders.

Her neck arched and she offered a cry to the wind which Beckett assumed was her irritated answer, although she did survey him with deep golden eyes and continue to float through the air without tipping him off.

“Maybe with more practice,” he joked, and received another look and a swooping dive-bomb for his attempt.

Beckett patted her neck.  “All right, all right,” he said. He let his fingers stroke gently as they circled, moving rapidly away from the castle and flying through the clouds.  Here he was trapped between two worlds and could see neither clearly.  The wind and moisture on his face were pleasant though and he felt himself breathing easier.  He enjoyed flight simply for the freedom of it.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have wings.  He didn’t share the thought out loud even as he made the fervent wish.   Some claimed a few in the cloud city had wings, which was how Vaucresson was built in the first place. But if you walked the streets today they were not displayed with honor.  Rumor had it the queen had a pair, silver white to match her hair, but he’d never seen them.  The rumor one that was whispered rather than celebrated.  Beckett couldn’t understand why. I’d give almost anything…

The eagle moved up through the clouds like a burrowing squirrel.  She found the usual pocket and glided into the air above. Now that they were more distant from the palace it was better to be seen.

“The park,” Beckett directed.  He noted the position of the sun in the sky.  “Best hurry.”

His dismount was better.  Not as graceful as he’d like since the bird didn’t really land, but coordinated all the same.  Fearless of the flight and movement he walked down the wing and onto the floating street on far edge of the market.   No one would suspect someone from the castle to double back, or so he liked to think.  In any case he drew his cloak around him and put his head down as he moved as quickly as he could to the place he wanted to visit.

Thirty.

The silver stones paved the walk and Beckett could hear the clap of his boots as he jogged.  He hoped he hadn’t misjudged the time.  Although he was fit a light sweat broke out on his upper lip and his heartbeat kicked.

As he’d seen in the dream he made the turn at the coffee house.  Ignored a few early patrons.  Made no eye contact as he rounded the corner and approached the park.

Twenty.

The shops were opening.  A man with a cart wheeled out bolts of fabric for display.  Beckett felt like he should say hello, since the scene before him was so familiar, but he couldn’t afford the time.

His arms extended out like a bird coming in for a landing as he forced himself to breathe.  His steps slowed and he came to a stop on the corner.  Arms went to rest at his side.

Ten.

Beckett stood very still.  A few children played in the park, bouncing a ball to each other.  He heard the sound of a bird overhead.  A snippet of conversation.  He turned his head towards the clopping sound of horse, a pair of pegasi drawing a carriage.

Five.

Four.

Three.

“My ball,” a child’s cry.

Two.

Beckett moved forward, he snatched the ball and intercepted the little girl before she could be trampled by the horse.  Ball under one arm.  Child in the other he felt the brush of wind, and had to duck to avoid the extended wing.

He wasn’t completely successful.  The dark wingtip dislodged his hood as it struck him on the head, but Beckett kept moving even as the carriage driver shouted a curse and yelled that kid’s should stay out of the road.

“My baby!” The little girl’s mother cried as Beckett took the last few steps out of the road and onto the planted area.  She ran over and hovered while Beckett set the girl down and then took her into a hug.  Only then did she look up at the man who rescued her.  “Thank you.”

Beckett glanced around and pulled the hood back up.  “Was nothing.”
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 03:18:40 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 04:17:10 am »
The scene behind Mira should have been tragic. The alarms went off in many heads as a child foolishly moved into the path of pegasi. Yet, the scene was not tragic. There was a hero in their midst, and the smile that graced her lips was not coy. It was soft, pleased to see something new and unexpected.

That pleasure turned to confusion as the man straightened himself up after depositing the child. The recognition that came with seeing his face happened like a rush, freezing her to the spot for a moment and making her question if it was true as the hood went up. Mira swore, though, that she knew him, and he was no native of the city Vaucresson, and certainly not of the Clouds.

He was of the land.

Immediately she put her focus on him, drawing her probes out from the area and putting her thoughts towards accessing his own. Yet, as she tried to read the thoughts that were within his own mind, she found nothing there. It was not guarded, so much as it did not seem to exist at the same level others did. She’d encountered this with animals, and realized soon how pointless an endeavor it was to try and read the minds of most animals. They had no language she could understand.


‘But you would.’


Mira was nothing if not curious, but figuring out where he operated would take time, and then she had to hope he wasn’t guarded on top of that. Breaking guards was never a subtle act. She was fortunate that so few here had guards, and fewer understood when they were broken. They just took it as a sudden headache.

She had every reason to approach him, though.

The thoughts happened in moments, her attempt to try and read his mind immediate. Her decision to approach made, she wasted no time.

Mira moved away from the window of the jewelry shop, quick steps allowing her to close the distance before Beckett departed from the woman,
“That was more than nothing,” she caught the tail end of his words. “Let me buy you a cup of coffee, or something. It is rare that I witness such heroism this early in the morning,” she wondered if he would recognize her, even through the foreign clothes and different accent. She couldn’t tell from his mind, and how his face was hidden in the darkness of his hood, but she hoped.

Beau

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2014, 04:42:35 am »
His heart was still beating quickly, primed by anticipation.  It wasn’t the rescue that he’d come for.  Sure, he had a certain thing about children and intervening if he could in their case in particular, but there was nothing special about the girl that he’d saved.  He didn’t know or ask her name.  The few seconds he waited to turn in response to the words could have been an eternity, but The Voice was what drew him here to this place and time.  And so he did sigh with a certain amount of relief, and glance over his shoulder at the woman who approached and offered him a hero’s reward.  He had a certain weakness for coffee – did she remember?

But no, she didn’t address him by name.  Mira did not greet him as an old friend with the innocence of a child.  He’d known it would be this way and blanked his expression in anticipation.  Still he had to swallow the disappointment.  He took a deep breath to slow the kick in his heart that longed for something that couldn’t be.  No reason for her to know he’d be here.  No reason for her to care.

Holding her daughter, the mother of the child called him a hero indeed – and asked his name. Beckett turned his focus away from Mira with a simple, “Honestly, anyone would do the same,” which held dismissal for accolades of any kind.   He paused to ruffle the little girl’s hair before straightening again to look at Mira.  He smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes.  “Thank you for the offer and kind words, but I don’t have time to linger.  Feast day.”  He did his best to imagine the event as more than the whim of his master.  The prospect of cotton candy dispelled the last of his disappointment.  He’d focus on the bright side.

Beckett took a step away and then paused.  The hair on the back of his neck stood on end and his ears burned.  He put a hand up to shield his eyes and glance upwards convinced that someone was watching him. 

Fool.  Of course they’re watching.

And yet as he scanned to the east he felt something off.  Like he was in deep, deep trouble.  But the only menacing form seemed to be a half dozen birds lining the ridge of the roof.

The urge to run hit him quick.  “Gotta go,” he said.  And yet as he took a second step away he couldn’t fight the temptation to say something memorable.  Something to make her curious and perhaps, maybe, just maybe, seek him out again.  “Bye Mira.”

And with that he took off running down the street.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2014, 05:02:25 am »
The offer of coffee didn’t work as it should have, and Mira was disappointed. She considered that, perhaps, thoughts of home had indeed made her see Beckett where a stranger stood. His smile was false. She didn’t need mind-reading to see that, but it bothered her all the same that she had no idea what laid behind the gesture. What inspired its falsity.

She was so used to mind reading that holding normal, non-invasive conversations was often frustrating. She depended on the talent more than she ought.


“Very well,”
Mira accepted his departure, thinking that would be that. The woman did not recognize him—no one here seemed to attach a name to the face, so she considered herself wrong for a moment. “May you enjoy the feast.” She offered as he seemed to freeze, and then look up, away. Mira followed his gaze, saw the birds that were ever-present in this territory.

He had to go, and so Mira turned away to continue her own journey. It was then, of course, he said something to turn her head. He said her name, and a smile jumped to her lips. She might have reached for him, or demanded his presence at coffee, but he was running by then. The smile faltered, but didn’t vanish.
‘It is you, then.’ Good.

She had a name. She had a face. She could start figuring out through the minds of others just where he came from. If he thought that ‘bye’ was going to stick, he was dead wrong. Mira had quite a few questions as to how and why he ended up here.
‘And he may ask the same.’ Mira didn’t linger on that long. She had a thousand and one ways of avoiding the truth if she found him untrustworthy.

‘But he is here. He is actually here.’
There had been stories of where he vanished, too many to be certain of the truth.

She walked on then, not truly paying attention to the thoughts of others or trying to find him again at that moment. She went to the shop she always went to, and was greeted warmly by the merchant who had grown accustomed to her visits. She left with a bag of grapes, and coffee beans—she didn’t often pick them up, but seeing Beckett brought about a queer desire for them. She’d drop into the kitchens at the castle to have them ground and have a cup made for herself. The moves were already plotted.


‘Shouldn’t eat too much. The feast….’
Yes, the feast where Beckett would be, it seemed.

She smiled as she popped a grape into her mouth, passing under the doorway and back into the street.
‘Shouldn’t be too hard to find him.’ And so her walk back to the castle was spent plotting just how she might separate him from the festivities, and eating the grapes which tasted like any grapes that could be found in the Cloud city. ‘Well, might have to bother him after Henrick. Can’t have him poisoning anyone.’ Not that Henrick seemed the sort for poison. He wanted blood spilled. Still, others might consider it.

It was her job to see they were unsuccessful in all such plots, and any others that might make the feast end on a sour note.


Beau

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2014, 11:38:55 pm »
Queen Ilaera watched through the eyes of the doves on the market square roof.  Her own eyes reflected the multiple views of twelve perspectives, with the vision floating before her like a swirling prism.  She hadn’t planned to spy on Beckett.  Hadn’t known of the need.  Her hands clenched as she saw Mira approach and speak, unable to hear what was said.  Moments later Beckett ran off.  Ilaera snapped her fingers, and one of the far distant birds paced his journey back to the eagle and witnessed his mad dash to the castle.

“You can run, but you can’t hide…from me.”  Perhaps she should take comfort that he returned.  Instead she felt betrayal.  Freedom was not something he was allowed to have.  If he’d thought to disguise himself he’d failed.  The common folk were not for him.

As for Mira, the queen’s focus shifted.  She took time to note the predictable pattern of coffee and conversation.  As with Beckett one bird monitored her journey moving from roof to window. What Mira sought in the village was unclear, but the independence had been noted and its meaning contemplated. 

With a flare of her long skirt, the queen moved away from her spying and back to the parchment that papered the walls.  Notes.  Maps.  Prophesy.  Her fingers traced the colored outlines on the walls.  This room was her own, hidden behind a secret door.  The wooden furniture was old and the space lit by fire rather than windows.  The air was filled with possibility.  Her mind considering what was written, what longed to expand beyond fine lines, and what could be.   She took a seat in the chair.  Added a few of her own notes with the quill and watched the ink stain her long nails.

Ilaera sighed with fatigue.  She’d returned only a few hours ago from her latest journey below.  In the trunk of her room was a beautiful gown fashioned with fine silk.  Soon enough she would go and prepare herself to be the center of attention, but not before she shared some of the gifts from her travels.

Standing now she went on through the passage to her own chamber.  She sealed the passage door behind her and walked over to the bed, selecting the brightly wrapped box.  Beckett liked blue.  She wondered how long it would take him to realize he might not want to wear what was inside.

Funny how one shouldn’t judge by the cover.   The book nestled next to the box was also pretty in its adornment.  It looked and felt old and yet smelled like honeysuckle.  She hadn’t planned to present it to Mira today.  “Then again, no time like the present.”

~*~

Beckett managed to climb in the window of his tower room.  The stones were slick, but he’d done the transfer from the eagle enough times that he felt a veteran over the task.  The space was small but he’d come to think of it as his.  The main issue wasn’t the décor, but the isolation.  He almost never ventured into the party of the castle.  The queen visited him here and he’d often wondered what she shared of their consultations.

The knock on the door surprised him.  He’d changed back into his usual attire and hidden his “city” clothes away.  The tunic and pants were blue and they matched the package that he was presented.  He looked on it curiously as the servant (who would forever remain nameless) soundlessly passed the box to him.  Beckett considered asking a question, but the one who brought his meals never spoke.  A simple nod and he was gone.

Closing the door, Beckett went to the bed and sat cross legged on the quilt.  The present could only come from the queen but there was no card.  Hesitantly he opened the box and looked inside.

“More jewelry.”  He frowned over the gold choker.  It was thin and decorative, but his first thought was ‘collar’ given its rigid form.  His fingers didn’t sense any magic, but he doubted that they would.  Beckett set the item back in the box, pulled his knees up and rested his chin on them.  “What do you want?”

The choker didn’t answer, but Beckett was afraid he could guess.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 01:38:05 am »
When Mira returned to the castle, she made a beeline for the kitchens, where she was stopped, “Alekar, you cannot enter right now.”

“Why not?” She inquired, canting her head. She knew the reason, it was written on the front of his mind. Still, it was polite to ask.

“The feast,”
he sounded exasperated that she hadn’t guessed it herself. “We cannot afford any distractions, and so you cannot pester anyone there.” Bad habit, but she was able to get any sweet she wanted so easily, and she had quite the sweet tooth.

“I have a delivery,”
she held up the bag of coffee, touched his arm to strengthen the brief connections he needed, “It’s for a dessert, the cook wanted genuine coffee from Karras,” and she pushed a thought forward in his own voice. He would hear a confirmation that such a thing was supposed to arrive. In the moment, he didn’t question where the thought came from, nor why Mira was the one to fetch the coffee. He just stepped aside as it all seemed to make sense for the moment.

“Be quick then,”
he instructed.

She smiled,
“Thank you,” and she walked into the kitchen, letting her hand leave the man’s arm.

She recognized one of the chefs and saw him scowl at her, but he came towards her,
“Mira, there are no desserts for you to filch today, I need them all in tact for presenting them this evening.”

She pouted,
“I brought you a gift,” and she held out the coffee. He didn’t take it.

“What’s the catch?”


“I do want a dessert.”


“I hardly have the time!”


“Oh, you can make it while other things are cooking, I’m sure, it is not difficult. Just an espresso mousse?”
He took the coffee bag, looked from her, to the room, and then sighed. She smiled with joy.

“All right, all right, I’ll send it to you in a bit.”
He said, and Mira stepped forward to hug him, which he returned with one arm, “Now get out!”

She turned to do just that, and started to exit. She brushed shoulders with one of the serving boys. Her mind had a habit of being turned outward now, so she caught the image of his most recent venture out, his thoughts wondering over what he’d just delivered. She didn't gather the name or the face, didn't think it important considering the amount of things delivered here, but it was intriguing that the Queen was sending out things. No doubt, it was because of the feast. All things today were because of the glorious feast. Mira intended to avoid the hype until necessary now that she was back.


Beau

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2014, 03:23:28 am »
It was poor manners to refuse a gift.  He’d been reminded of that rather forcefully when he’d first received the ruby earring he now wore.   At first the queen had pouted and seemed genuinely hurt that he refused, but his assurance that he needed nothing quickly became about her needs rather than his.  And yet, logic hadn’t prevailed.  He shivered over the memory of the magic used to pin him to the wall.  The bruising lecture.   He’d attributed it to being ‘new’ and not understanding the rules.  Ultimately she’d forgiven him, but not without price. 

That had been several months ago.  He doubted this next gift was to celebrate an anniversary or the New Year.  He’d served faithfully, interpreting her dreams and answering her questions whenever she chose to visit.  He didn’t think he’d been wrong about things, although he noted she didn’t always take his advice.  He knew this from his occasional forays into town.  He’d warned about the weather shift a few months ago, and the scarcity of grain over the summer.  The castle had fared well, but the town…

Beckett’s musings were interrupted by another knock at the door.  Expecting the queen he was surprised when instead two women were on the other side of the door.  He didn’t recognize them, but they gave him a curious look and invited themselves in. 

Becket stepped away from the door with a simple, “Hello.  Can I help you?”

“We’re been told to get you ready for the feast.”  One of them said, eyeing him like he wasn’t much to her liking. 

The second woman moved about surveying Beckett from head to toe.  “Thought there was someone up here, but you’re not quite what I imagined.”

“Um.  Younger than the last one.” The first said.  She moved into the room and set down the basket filled with bottles and jars.  One hand swiftly moved to capture Beckett’s chin, forcing his face to turn from side to side as she surveyed his profile.  “Decent raw material.”

Beckett stepped back, jerking his neck to pull out of the grip.  “I can get myself ready.”  Up until now he’d been looking forward to the prospect of going downstairs.  This new element combined with the gift made him more nervous.  He didn’t dare ask about the ‘last one.’

~*~

The queen walked down the corridor towards the library.  She carried the new book under her arm.  At this hour she figured Mira would be reading, or working with the scribes.

“Finding the ends to a curse is such hard work,” she said to herself.  A sympathetic look graced her face.  A wave of her hand and a tray appeared.  A cup of cocoa and a plate of biscuits. “Nothing like the personal touch to inspire one to new heights.”

She practiced what she’d say.  How she’d be only curious as to progress, probe gently and listen.  The queen would share her latest find as though she too were interested in answers more than questions.  They were all on the same team after all – the work so very important to everyone concerned.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 03:25:14 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2014, 03:44:24 am »
Library was accurate, though only just. Mira had waited until her dessert was brought to her. She’d chosen to dress down, a simple dark slip and a robe. She liked to bother others, and so many thought it was scandalous for her to walk around like that. It was either scandalous, or too presumptuous—too familiar, for someone such as her. She wasn’t meant to be this comfortable.

There were a few, though, who admired it. Who found it interesting. Those were the ones Mira intended to get to know much better.


‘All in good time.’

She set herself up in a chair with an end table, took the book she’d been reading from the shelf and opened it up, finding her notes inside. They were written in a language that, so far, none here had been able to read so she felt safe using the notes as her bookmark of sorts.

Mira resumed reading, and enjoyed her mousse until she heard the door open. Mira did not lift her eyes until the steps suggested the individual would be in sight, but she couldn’t resume reading while distracted. When she lifted her eyes, it was who she expected. She closed the book on the notes and rose, inclining her head and lowering herself in a bow before the Queen.


“Your Majesty, you look well,”
she said as she lifted her eyes and herself back up. Mira smiled gently, “What brings you here?” She had an idea, and let her mind reach forward to see if there would be any guards to block her from the truth of the matter.

She hadn’t told the Queen exactly what she could do, but she’d found the woman still had guards. She imagined them mostly unconscious, but never pressed it, and certainly never asked. Mira wasn’t yet willing to tell the Queen all that she could do. Secrets could be revealed in time, if revealed at all.


Beau

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2014, 05:59:52 pm »
The tower room was one people likely forgot about.  The stairs were on the far southern end of the castle, and the spire wasn’t wide.  Beckett suspected there might be a room below him only because of the window he'd seen from the outside, but he’d never seen a door on the few occasions when he’d been lead down and the Queen’s chambers.  There was a small alcove adjacent to his room for bathing and one of the women disappeared in there to draw some water leaving Beckett to assume that the room was familiar to her.

There was little space to hide.  Beckett wasn’t thrilled about the idea of using the bed as a shield but the thought occurred to him.  A knock at the door and a third woman arrived.  She didn’t even wait for Beckett to answer.  She held clothing, this set different from the white dress robes he’d assumed he would be wearing.  These were ornate and feathered.  So many bright colors they almost hurt his eyes.

Beckett wondered if he could make it to the window…

Meanwhile the Queen had found Mira and moved forward at the invitation in her voice.  With grace she set down the hot drink, “Refreshment for you.” Her look held both the hint that Mira worked too hard, and the gratitude for the effort.

“I see you’ve made yourself at home,” Ilaera moved about the room.  Her hands still held the book she’d brought but her fingers traced lazily over the volumes on the shelves.  As she moved her skirt swirled around her.  “I do hope you will attend the feast tonight and not forget to enjoy yourself.”

A thought seemed to occur to her, “Do you have something suitable to wear?”  A certain twist to her mouth indicating that what she currently wore was certainly not in the spirit of finery.  “Something that highlights your…assets…but doesn’t display them so bluntly?”

And then she offered her latest find.  Hand outstretched so the bound volume could be collected by Mira.  “I was on the surface this week and I found this.  It might help with the research on the curse.   A gypsy had it in her collection.  Cost me quite the penny to procure it but I simply had to have it.”
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 06:01:27 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2014, 08:17:25 pm »
Mira’s eyes left the queen as she realized the guards were in place. ‘No way to check if it is poisoned.’ Except by tasting it. Even so, Mira doubted it was. It was just her natural inclination to be so paranoid when she couldn’t rightly find things out. “Thank you, Your Grace,” she smiled, humbled by how the Queen herself brought the drink, and she took her seat once again and then lifted the cup to her lips. She sipped, and the smile grew.

Chocolate.

The Queen moved about, and at words of the feast, Mira nodded,
“I would not miss it.”

Talk of clothing. Mira expected that topic to come up, and she chuckled.
“I have items of my home, but I am not certain they fit your standards,” she knew the typical style of Mira by now. It wasn’t this robe, but it was not the height of fashion here. She looked down at her own form. It was not what any would call slender—assets indeed. A properly fitted dress could easily accentuate the curved figure. “Do I need to be so…provocative?” She didn’t mind either way, but she was curious if there was call for it.

The Queen shifted gears though, and she looked up to see the book presented to her. She set the cup aside, leaned forward and reached out for it, glanced at it. She really could be looking harder into this curse, but as she held the monopoly on figuring it out, she could take her time and pretend it all harder than it probably was.
“It may indeed,” Mira let her fingers move over the cover, then opened it, “I’ll begin reading it, once I’ve finished this volume,” Mira said, placing the book under the other to designate order. “Did you get the name of the gypsy?” Mira asked, more curiosity than concern. Mira didn’t know if the Queen could actually tell gypsies from other sorts of diviners.

Gypsies weren’t the sort Mira usually trusted. She’d watched too many fool others. Given, she tended to recognize when they were attempting to fool her, but she still didn’t care much for dealing with them. There were other diviners she trusted more, other medicine men and women who did honest work and didn’t rely on tricks for the major portion of their income. Now and then, though, gypsies actually were honest, and when they were it was usually of great benefit.


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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2014, 02:50:29 am »
The queen smiled as the hot chocolate was tasted and appeared to be to Mira’s liking.  She continued to prowl around the room, and noted that Mira misconstrued the comment on her dress.  The queen frowned.  The last thing she wanted was for Mira to strut around in something more revealing.  She didn’t like competition and she believed she’d seen a few admiring glances hurled towards the younger woman.

Younger. Ah, there was the rub.

“My dear, I want you to be comfortable.  Please wear what you like, or if you wish to spend time shopping you certainly may.  I’m sure the village has some fine tailors – have you been to the village yet?”   

The queen would be interested to hear what Mira did in the mornings.  Who she spoke to. So, she would pause and listen to what she had to say.  And if she didn’t want to be forthcoming then that would be telling as well.  She watched as Mira stacked the books and felt a twinge of disappointment of the deliberate spacing of the reading.  No reason to press, but certainly not the level of respect that she typically enjoyed.

Something else to be corrected.

“The gypsy’s name was Kayla Morgan.”  Nothing in her expression showed whether or not she thought that significant.  “Well, I’ll leave you to it then,” the queen said.  A flurry of skirts and she was gone.

Beckett might have wished for the same sort of ability to move about and disappear at will.  He was bathed, perfumed, and painted.  His hair had been trimmed with something other than a carving knife and now fell in orderly waves.  It feathered about his face and seemed to turn both gold and silver as he moved his head.

“I’m tussed up like a chicken,” he said.  It was the first time he’d spoken after giving up the fight a few hours ago. The robes were wrapped tight and didn’t allow much movement.  Ceremonial would be a good word to describe them.  Beckett didn’t think he could sit comfortably.

The women stood back and surveyed their work.  One said, “Yes.  Good raw material.”

Another started putting her jars of paints away.  “I like how the blue outlines his eyes.  They look three times normal size.”

More nodding and mumbling.  It seemed the queen was next on their list and they were running behind with all the preparation here.

“The feast starts in an hour.”  The last woman looked sympathetically at Beckett.  “I’d suggest that you rest, but lying down would ruin everything.  Best to just….stand there.”

And with that they were gone.

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2014, 03:41:31 am »
Mira kept a slight interest as she noted the fluctuations in the Queen’s mind. She’d not discerned a pattern for when guards would drop, but they did, more frequently it seemed. The first thought was one Mira appreciated, the bitterness making it a compliment.

She was younger. Were she feeling revelatory, she might have commented that mature woman could exceed the youth in beauty and grace, the air of mystery some could craft appealing, but thought perhaps that wasn’t what the Queen wanted. Primal, lustful gazes were almost always left for the youthful.
“I have not gone into the village proper—where the homes are,” she had no reason to, “but I tend to go into the market often enough. There’s a little store dedicated to items of the land, where I pick up grapes whenever I run out,” which was always scheduled. She had to keep the schedule.

When she’d finished that, and set herself back in order again, the Queen told her it was a Kayla Morgan. Mira frowned, thinking the name quite familiar, actually. Reliable. She nodded once, not to suggest approval but simply to note understanding. She could not say it was familiar, lest the Queen investigated further.


‘Ah, that word again. Respect.’ Mira so desperately wanted to pretend she didn’t know what it meant, but it was a useful word, too. Positions, blood, all of these things ‘demanded’ respect, and it was good when it was on one’s side. In this situation, Mira wondered. The Queen needed her, though. It was how she could continue getting away with these slights.

It would be a terrible day for someone if Mira didn’t have such an outlet. The little things were what made life fun.

Reliable as Kayla was, she still considered Kayla a neutral party, and those were as dangerous as they were useful. Kayla might sell her out if the Queen probed.
“I hope the book is useful,” she took the other book she’d been reading back into her hands. ‘Then again, it would be useful to see her, too. I haven’t been able to hear word….’ Of course, she knew that would be the case when she came here.

Knowing and experiencing, she’d come to find, were two very different things.

The Queen left her then, and Mira continued to read, continued to drink hot chocolate for quite a while longer. She would not spend hours putting herself together.
‘I don’t need to. I’m young.’ And she laughed at the thought, suddenly too distracted to continue reading. Perhaps she should wear something to challenge the Queen’s own beauty, to steal the spot light. ‘No, no.’ She shook her head, smirked, and stood. She gathered all of her books together, and left the library to return to the room set aside for her use.

Mira had not set aside thing, and so she shifted through her attire, silently dismissing anything that was too bold in color or too revealing. Her hands finally opted for a silvery-blue dress, a cheongsam of the same people who preferred the ao dai. It covered all, but hugged her form to accentuate those curves, without a hint of cleavage. The skirt had slits high up to her thighs on either side.
‘Hair…hair.’ No, that would have to remain up. She couldn’t have that down tonight.

She spent more time with her hair than usual, brushing it out so it would be completely straight before putting it up into a bun. It would make her look a bit older, if nothing else. That might satisfy Her Majesty. No stray strands.

The heels she paired with the shoes were short, so she wouldn’t challenge the woman’s height more than she already did. She was naturally taller than the Queen, and at the height of most of the men of the court. Best not to make it even worse.

By the time she’d applied a bit of color to her eyes and lips, someone was knocking on her door. She went to it, found one of the servants,
“Lady Alekar,” this one was young, and so polite out of fear, “the feast will start in ten minutes. There was concern that you did not know the way to it, so I am here to show you to it.”

She considered dismissing the boy, but opted against it,
“Thank you,” she smiled, “I do not quite know the way, so I would appreciate any guidance.”

“Right this way then—er, that is, if you’re ready.”
He considered then he might be interrupting.

Mira glanced back into her room, thought, then shrugged and looked back to the boy,
“I am ready.”

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2014, 05:18:24 pm »

The knock at the door startled Beckett enough that he literally jumped.  Doing so set him off his footing, causing him to stumble rather than race to the door.  The clothing hindering his movements was having more of an irritating effect than he wished to admit.  He realized that he had taken to darting from place to place like an eager bird.  Patience was not what he was known for.

At the door was the queen.  Beckett was genuinely surprised.  On such an occasion he’d expected to be lead by the mute service boy, or maybe the dressing women.  To have the queen fetch him made him more nervous than he cared to admit.

“Wow,” Beckett said, taking a step back so she could enter.  Some of his discomfiture was held in the tone as well as genuine awe.  She too was dressed in ceremonial garb but he was reminded of the beautiful peacock, rather than a chicken.  She was a mixture of silk and feather and skin, the gown cut away from her in revealing places.  The tulip shaped long skirt hugged her hips and legs, and yet she seemed to move with more grace than he could manage. 

The queen stepped into the room.  “I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said with a smile.  She looked him over and her pleasant expression rapidly turned to a frown.  “You’re not wearing my gift.”

The golden collar remained in the box on the bed.  Beckett glanced to the spot and then back at the queen.  “I wasn’t sure…”

“I’m sure,” she said, taking the jewelry from the wrappings.  “Don’t you like it?”

Beckett grew quiet.  He shifted his weight from side to side.  “Maybe I should just stay up here.  It seems like you’ve gone to so much fuss.”

She examined the jewelry rather than him, holding it at eye level as though looking for flaws.  “But I like to fuss.  I would think you’d appreciate such things.  Need I remind you where I found you?”

“No,” Beckett shook his head.

The queen moved closer to him.  The collar was extended so he could take it.  “You like being here – as opposed to… there?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“Well then,” she said.  Her fingers unfurled so the collar had no hindrance.  “There is no reason for you to return to the surface.  You’re with me now.” Beckett hesitated. The spell was much more powerful if he accepted it, but her eyes held a warning that her patience was thin. “It’s getting late and the celebration waits.”

Beckett took the jewelry and put it on.  Surprisingly it didn’t hurt.  It felt rather ordinary which surprised him.

“See,” she said, taking a turn around him and admiring the view.  “You look beautiful.”  That was indeed the best word.  “I will offer you my arm and we will enter the party together.”

Beckett reached out his hand, but they didn’t walk down the stairs together.  Instead they were transported.  A flash of light and his cells vibrated like he’d been electrocuted.  His body split apart and then reformed inside a great hall filled with tables and people.  Lights and music.  Cheering.   Beckett felt like he was standing in the middle of fireworks and blinked rapidly to try and clear the colors that swirled in his vision.  His arm reached to steady himself and the queen laughed as she looped her arm with his to hold him up. 

“Silly boy,” she said with a chuckle.  “You’ll get used to it.”
« Last Edit: June 01, 2014, 05:20:49 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2014, 06:05:37 pm »
The boy left her before she entered the great hall. It wasn’t his place, he claimed, but he told her the way to go and she walked. She made good timing, arriving before the Queen but with most of the other party. Not too early to be bothered by the bored, and not too late to be a nuisance. She gave a smile to Lord Hendrick when she saw him on her way to fetch a drink.

The chef was there monitoring the waiting staff and the food, and she smiled at him, too. He returned it, and helped her with a drink,
“Where is the food?” All of this seemed like snacking food.

“None of that will be brought out until later, Mira.”


“Drat, I was curious about the desserts,” a frown. She plucked a grape from the table and popped it into her mouth. From his mind she knew they were from the sky city, and so she made sure to appear disgusted, even if they did taste exactly the same as those of the land. She had to pretend to have so refined a palette that she recognized the differences, “I don’t know how you eat those things.”

“It involves chewing,” he answered, and she smirked at it, before turning away to let him continue his paranoid observations of others. Now she had a drink, and that was what she wanted.

She sipped at it as she, too, observed others. Plenty noticed her, but few came to speak with her. She was something to be looked at, exotic, beautiful, and suspicious. Few were thinking of anything interesting, but when a shock ran through the minds Mira looked to find the source.

The Queen had arrived, and from the thoughts, it seemed she just materialized. Besides her, though hardly recognizable in all the finery, was Beckett. Mira couldn’t forget him, and even from this distance, she knew who he was.
‘Under my nose the entire time.’  Irksome, really. No matter. She’d have to find a time to talk to him. She didn’t wish to do so with the Queen present, so she did not immediately consider approaching.

The Queen usually went to her, anyway.

She did applaud along with the rest.
‘Feathers. So many feathers.’ Mira didn’t wear a single feather, but it seemed everyone else was. The Queen, in particular, wore so many she may as well be a bird.

“Beautiful, aren’t they?”


The voice had an accent and a familiar ring. Mira looked over to her left, and was actually surprised to see the smiling face of a merchant she’d always wondered about. Land or Sky, she didn’t know to which he belonged. His surname, Celino, suggested Sky. His accent and his looks had always suggested Land, dark skin and hair, but with brilliant green eyes. She had run into him a few times here, but she always remembered his ventures on the Land. He was a merchant, a man of wealth if not nobility.
“How did you get an invitation, Amit?” He wore no feathers, either.

“I pulled a favor with the chef,”
that man was far too easy to manipulate, honestly. “I see you’ve moved up in the world since you arrived.” His grin widened.

He had been the one to bring her to the sky city, too.
“Thank you,” was all she offered to that. His thoughts made it difficult to say more, revealing more than she wanted to know right then. He was debating letting her in on a plan of his, now that she’d moved up in the world. She wanted to probe, but didn’t want to cause a headache with the action. “We should talk another time, Amit. I’ve been curious of how the world below us is doing and I know you travel it extensively.”

“I am returning tomorrow. Should I bring any messages?”
He was searching for something.

Mira delivered it to him,
“Just tell my father I’m in the gilded cage,” she chuckled. A word for the palace, an inside joke. He saw the entire Sky world as a prison, and one that needed to be broken.

It was all Amit needed to hear, too. Next time they met, he’d speak openly. His guards already relaxed, and Mira could see that he, too, had been in conversation with their father recently.
‘I told him, patience.’ He had patience, but he did not have it when he knew nothing. He craved information almost as much as she did, but he had no talent for getting it. Not like her.

“I shall let him know of your fortune,”
he agreed.

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2014, 01:34:23 am »
Beckett allowed himself to be lead to a large banquet table in the center of the room.  The Queen continued to smile apparently finding his discomfort at being scattered to the four winds and drawn back together something humorous. 

“If you could see the look on your face,” she whispered.

The walls held enough mirrors and glass that Beckett might have managed it if he’d cared.  He let his hand rest in hers as she guided him to a chair.  He shook his head once trying to clear it and with another deep breath he felt his energy return.  Beckett couldn’t quite smile yet, but he hoped the look of shock was gone.
He admitted, “I’m not used to magic.” There was no other name for it.  No device had transported them.  He felt irritated enough to say, “Warn me next time, please.”

She shook her head.  “That would take all the fun out of it.”

Servants swarmed around them.  Beckett managed to bend his body enough to actually sit and the queen floated into her own chair with Beckett to her left.  The man seated to her right she bent and had a few words with, but Beckett didn’t recognize him.

A drink was placed in front of him.  Beckett could see food being delivered.  A man stepped forward and tasted the queen’s food before it was set on the table. No plate was set before him, and he didn’t reach for the glass of clear water.  He was too interested in people watching to notice the anomaly at first.  Others were milling towards their own seats, and the colorful clothing and feathers were intriguing.  Beckett liked color and the air around him held many smells and sounds.

Drums started to beat and a line of gaily clothed young women came out from behind one curtained door.  Beckett enjoyed the rhythm and clapped keeping time.  As the line moved around the room, Beckett thought he caught a glimpse of Mira at one of the other tables.  He hadn’t expected to see her, so he hadn’t been looking for her.  He missed the beat as he recognized her fully, but he recovered quickly and returned this attention to the entertainment rather than wonder why she was here.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 04:00:15 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2014, 01:59:41 am »
A few more words were exchanged between Mira and Amit, before it looked like people were actually moving to the tables for the meal. “Will you join me?” Amit inquired, but Mira shook her head.

“I have a date with another,”
the lovely lord Hendrick. She was not invited to sit with the Queen, and as disrespectful as she might be, she would not presume to sit in her company. Tempting as it was, for the Queen was sitting with Beckett. ‘And damn the both of you.’ Their minds were closed off at the moment. Beckett she didn’t expect to be able to read right then, but the Queen’s—she had hoped the woman would drop her guard here, but when she saw one taste the food, she realized this would be the least likely environment.

There were threats in public.

Her mind, however, did focus on those at the Queen’s table to try and skim whatever she could from those who passed by. She took her seat at Lord Hendrick’s table with a smile to him. He arched an eyebrow,
“Don’t you have somewhere else to be, Alekar?”

“No,” she answered, “Did you not wish a dinner opportunity to chat?”

He’d never said as much. She’d only implied it. He considered dismissing it, but instead, made a motion with his hand for her to join the present conversation. He gave her a quick introduction to the others present,
“Alekar is of the Land, and I have no idea her credentials there that bring her to this court, nor what keeps her here as she seems obsessed with the food of the land.”

One spoke, a thought, a memory, brought into focus,
“Well, Richard, have you ever had their coffee? It’s divine!” Mira bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling to broadly.

“It’s tar,” he retorted.

“You’ve no taste,” the other noble responded, “I’ll have to try these grapes—Alekar, how are they different?”

“They’re not so tart as the ones grown here.”
Lie. He’d believe her anyway. He’d make himself believe it.

“What did bring you here?” One of the ladies asked. She seemed uncomfortable. Mira didn’t question why, as she felt a familiar gaze on her. She didn’t look towards the Queen’s table.

Dancers began to move about, and Mira pretended to pay them no heed.


“Everyone wants to be in the sky,”
she parroted the usual, “The Land has some nice things, but everyone knows it is better to live in the sky. It is everyone’s dream to make it here one day, and so it was mine as a girl. I always heard of royalty with wings, splendid magic, and glittering crystals,” she smiled fondly, and then laughed, “Imagine my disappointment.”

A couple laughed. Hendrick smirked.
“So why do you stay?” As if he’d finally get the answer.

“I was only disappointed at first, Lord Hendrick,”
she responded, “I’ve come to love this place for what it is, and I wish to see it improve. I stay to help.” His eyes narrowed. He didn’t believe her at all. “I miss certain comforts, but so does anyone who leaves home. Mother’s cooking, or a favorite tree—we all have small things we love and try to capture again,” she drew on their specific thoughts to make the point. “But I wouldn’t trade this place for the land. I made it here, and here is where I wish to stay.”

“So, what is it you are doing for the Queen?”


The dancers came near the table, and Mira locked onto the mind of one poor girl, the easiest of the lot to manipulate.


“Oh, I do research,” she answered, “I’m versed in many languages. As for the specifics,” she shook her head, “I can’t say, but I assure you, it will be known in the future.”
 
As Hendrick opened his mouth to ask more, Mira sent a horrific image through the mind of the dancer. It startled her quite terribly, for she lost step and fell, flailing her arms to try and regain her balance. She was unable to, and her flailing knocked Hendrick’s cup right out of his hand, spilling wine on his attire, and that of the lord who sat next to him.

He rose, furious, and Mira covered her lips as if in a gasp.

She was trying her best not to laugh, in truth, and her eyes showed the mirth she felt.

It was always the little things.


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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2014, 04:32:21 am »
Beckett watched the dancers slowly circle the room.  At one point they passed near Mira again and one of them stumbled.  A commotion ensued as her…escort perhaps?...stood and brushed at wine that was spilled.   Beckett tipped his head to the side, curious, and debated about asking who the man was, but such would draw the attention of the queen and hardly seemed appropriate.

A woman walked by where he sat and touched his shoulder.  He looked her way and she bowed.  Curiosity turned to confusion.  “Hello,” he said only to see the woman gasp and dart away.

He wouldn’t have thought anything of it, except that the same sort of thing happened only a few minutes later.  The music changed and the dancers were joined by a handful of men in a partner dance.   Another person in attendance walked by Beckett and touched his shoulder and bowed.

“Um,” he said to himself.

The queen seemed to sense his confusion.  “They think you are the Rabadesh.”

“The what?” Beckett said, turning to look at her.  He kept his voice low to match hers and leaned forward eager to hear what she had to say.  “I don’t understand.”

“You will,” she said.  Her hand touched his briefly and then went back to her class.

Only then did Beckett notice he didn’t have any wine or food.  Water suited him, but his stomach growled.  He’d not eaten today and hoped the oversight would be corrected soon.

The queen again seemed to read his thoughts.  “You’ll need to dance with me.  No time for eating.”  And yet she didn’t stand, but rather ate a bite of her own food.

Beckett sat back in his chair.  He placed his hands in his lap.  This wasn’t quite the New Year’s party he was looking forward too.  The music was good.  The dance pretty, but he preferred to be more engaged.

“I don’t know your dances,” Beckett explained.  The twirling and twisting before him actually made him a little dizzy.  The queen was tall, and Beckett wasn’t sure he could lift her over his head like the dancers he was seeing.

The queen said, “No worries.  I’ll lead.”

Another woman came up to Beckett and touched his shoulder.   There were tears in her eyes.  “So young,” she said and looked hopefully at the queen.

Ilaera only smiled and explained.  “The new year will be filled with much promise.”

The woman nodded and went down the aisle towards her seat.  She said something to her friends and the others nodded.  Apparently the queen had said the right thing, but Beckett didn’t understand what his age had to do with New Year prosperity.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2014, 07:16:24 pm »
“Settle, Rick,” the Lord at his side spoke, as the man looked like he might retaliate for this slight. “It was an accident.” The dancer did look adequately horrified for it to have been an accident, and on her part it clearly was.

Richard Hendrick clearly didn’t think so, but he huffed and sat back down. The woman moved off to try and regain her position among the others, to try and act as if she hadn’t just seen that strange and unbidden image in her head.


‘You’re lucky I didn’t include the audio.’
Mira didn’t send that along. Best not to creep out the dancer even more. She let her eyes observe the dancers, and move about the room once more as the Lord tried to put Richard in a better mood. That was when she observed the minor commotion at the Queen’s table, as someone just darted away from Beckett. ‘Is he poisonous now?’ This, she didn’t understand. She hadn’t seen these reactions before.

So, she followed the thought of the runner.
‘Rabadesh?’ It gave no explanation. She turned her attention back to the conversation at hand. “Excuse me,” she interrupted, “What is a rabadesh?”

Richard seemed amused by the question.
‘Something you don’t know.’ Still, he explained. He had been put in a better mood. “Rabadesh is a sacrifice to ensure the good fortune of the new year,” he glanced towards the Queen’s table, “That man with the blond hair appears to be this years.”

She had to bite her tongue to avoid an exclamation.
‘And you call us barbaric!’ Deep breath. No, somehow she couldn’t believe it.

It certainly couldn’t be Beckett.
‘And if it is, a change of mind may have to occur.’ Though she wasn’t sure how difficult that would be, given the limited amount of time she had. It was much easier to change minds when she had more time to alter thought processes and memories.

“Why does this occur? Why not use a chicken?”
She inquired, but she wasn’t really paying attention as the table tried to explain this custom to her. She put her focus on the Queen. ‘She’ll just think of it as a headache.’ So few even knew the term psion, and fewer believed they were real. She had the advantage, or so she kept telling herself.

It wouldn’t be a slow pressure. It would be quick, the swing of a baseball bat to try and break the barriers of the Queen’s mind for Mira to read, and see, the intentions therein.


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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2014, 09:34:31 pm »
The dancers no longer interested him.  Anxiety started to claw at his stomach – an instinctive reaction to something being wrong.  He’d felt this way before, most notably on the day his brothers had struck him over the head and sold him into slavery.  What would they think now about Beckett sitting at the royal table and on display?

“I’d like to know what’s going on.” Beckett asked.

The queen took a bite of her food and another guest approached and touched Beckett, mumbled something and scooted away.   A servant delivered a wooden box and placed it on the table beside the queen.  The wood casing was intricately carved, and although it was polished it looked old.

“What you would like is irrelevant. You belong to me Beckett.  You have no rights.”  Her fingers traced the outline of the carved feather.  “I say when you live.  And when you die.”

Suddenly it all made sense.  Beckett felt the blood drain from his face as the term she’d used before took on the hint of meaning.  The cloud city had its rituals both light and dark.  He’d never had the opportunity to participate.  Didn’t want to start now.

A desperate glance was tossed across the room, but Mira was looking at something else.  He had no other friends here.  No family to interfere.  Beckett thought fast, although his smile was weak as he offered the alternative. “Wouldn’t it be more fitting to have me rise from the dead like the phoenix?  Celebrating life and the start of the new year – rather than the end.”

The queen’s brow lifted.  The small move indicated curiosity to him so he added, “Show them your magic and power.”  But it wasn’t drama she wanted.  “Make them fear you.”

“Shock and awe?”

“Well, awe at least.”

She chuckled and lifted her wine glass, stirring the liquid in the goblet and placing her nose close enough to inhale the alcoholic scent.  “I shall miss you Beckett.”

“You’re not going to kill me.”  He played his last card hoping the lie wasn’t reflected in his eyes. “I would have foreseen it.”

“Believe what you wish.”  She stood and offered her hand.

He had plenty of reasons to hesitate, but took none. “And hope eternal.”  Their fingers linked and Beckett stood as well.

The queen closed her eyes.  She felt a shooting pain as though someone had stabbed her with a hot poker through the left eyeball.  Her jaw clenched in reaction, and she swallowed.  Then she opened her eyes and looked straight at Mira.

Well, well, well.

She had not moved from the table, but the music shifted as if on cue. With her free hand she opened the box.  It flooped on the table with a thud. Inside were a silver scabbard and a knife.  “Take the knife Beckett.”

Weapon presented he could draw it and stab her, but Beckett didn’t have the same survival instinct as some.  She enjoyed the brief thrill of possibility but ultimately knew that he’d do as told.  He had his faith and vision.  So did she.  “Remember, I told you I’d lead,” she said, and tugged on his arm, leading him towards the dance floor.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 09:40:10 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2014, 10:02:51 pm »
Mira had been prepared for the guards to be stronger than she anticipated, for the blow was a test, a hope, that they were weak. Unfortunately, it seemed they were strong, and worse than that. The Queen was aware. It was all in the look that was exchanged, and the trailing thoughts that flowed from the crack she’d made.

Mira stiffened. This was not something she was prepared for.

A thought came to mind that she could flood them all with white noise and leave with Beckett, return to the Land and admit failure. She’d be returning with useful information, and a man who had lived under the roof of the Queen.
“Is the Rabadesh always someone from the land?” Though she spoke, her voice was distant.

Hendrick shrugged,
“I never cared to ask the origins. You know him?” This seemed to please Richard.

Mira eyes moved from Her Majesty to Richard. That distance faded.
“I hope the next one is your sister.” She didn’t mean to speak it aloud.

His expression darkened, but his only comment was,
“I’m going to enjoy this,” and he turned his head as the floor began to clear of dancers to allow only the Queen and Beckett.

As Mira considered rising, putting an end to this wretched tradition, she caught the eyes of Amit. They held a severity.
‘Don’t.’ It and variants were repeating over and over in his head, though certainly he didn’t know she could read it. His expression said it just as clearly.

‘You will see and you will hear, terrible things while in the Sky.’


Mira swallowed and relaxed her posture. One of the noble women put a hand on her shoulder and tried to whisper comforting words, but her thoughts spoke louder. She felt no sympathy. She wanted this, for the benefit of all.


‘Remember to mind your temper.’


Inhale.

Exhale.

Mira brushed her fingers by her ear to tune it out. She shut her eyes to deprive of herself of sight, too.


‘Remember they will all come falling out of the sky. You must be patient.’


And so she would be. She would smile when she found the Queen amidst the rubble of the Sky city. She would smile, and she would laugh, that for all the sacrifices made, this year would be their last. 

« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 10:03:55 pm by Krystal Itzume »

Beau

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2014, 11:14:44 pm »
Beckett realized that he could still hear the music even though his blood was roaring in his ears.  The queen smiled for the crowd.  She bowed to Beckett, and then took the knife from his limp fingers.  “Trusting.”  She said, stepping into his arms.  “Haven’t you learned that to be a fatal flaw.”

He tried to capture her gaze – to have a meaningful conversation, but the effort was futile.  His eyes still held hope but his voice was silent.  The knife was against his back as her palm rested against him with the cold metal between them.  He heard, rather than saw the scabbard fall to the ground.  The soft ching kept time with the beat.  “I was brought here for a reason.  I think we both know I was meant for more.”

“You have such beautiful eyes.” She said.  But her mood was cold.  “Blue like the sky.”  Her own gaze fell to the collar, and then looked back up at his face.  He would do as told.  “Breathe in,” she said.

Beckett complied.  Her feet stopped.  So did his and she whispered, “Breathe out,” before capturing his lips with her own.  Beckett exhaled his last breath into the queen’s mouth as the knife found a home between his shoulder blades.

She held the kiss a moment longer.  Then stepped away and to the side, lifted her hand, pulling the knife out of his ribs and heart with a hearty jerk.  Beckett fell to the floor without a scream.

The queen took the knife.  She held it up so the blood could be displayed, drops falling to the marble floor like rose petals.  “Behold.” She said.  “Oh mighty God of the Day, Asterias, we give you this sacrifice that you may give to us prosperity.”

The crowd cheered.  They started to hum.  Some started to pray.  A brave few stood and danced as the music began again.

As two men came to take Beckett’s crumpled body from the floor, the queen raised her voice in command.  “Wait!”  But she only pointed to the head table. “Place his body there for all to see.  Revel in death.  Touch it so that we may know new life this year.”

And with that she turned her back on the scene, the minor detail to be handled and plates cleared so the corpse could be displayed.  She walked slowly towards the table where Mira sat.  Once there she struck the knife point down into the wood.  Her fingers gripped the handle.  She didn’t smile.  “Do make our quest a priority, Mira.”  The slight of the stacked books foremost in her mind.  “And if that doesn’t suit you, perhaps we can discuss how best to make use of your…talents.”

Another servant swooped in as the queen moved aside.  Hastily he collected the knife and put it into the box, offering Mira a bow as he went, suspecting the next Rabadesh had been named.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 11:18:10 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2014, 12:01:21 am »
Mira did not open her eyes, nor did she reestablish any connections. She listened to the music and the verbal reactions of others. Their movements. She knew by that when it was all done, when the praise was lifted up to the traitor and the barbarians began to applaud the horror that had just taken place.

People were ordered to enjoy the death, and it took all of Mira’s willpower not to brush her fingers by her ear again. She knew it was only a mental trick to herself, that she didn’t need to do it, but the mental trick was powerful and conditioned. Useful, her father said, for when emotions such as these threatened to tear others to shreds.

She heard the people begin to straighten up at her table, but she did not open her eyes until the sound of the knife puncturing the wood brought the lids up. She tilted her head up as appropriate, but didn’t like the posture. She didn’t like looking up at the Queen, so as she began to speak, Mira rose, slow and steady.


‘Yes. Your quest.’ The very least of Mira’s concerns.

Richard Hendrick sat with his back straight, but his eyes didn’t leave the knife. He, too, thought what the servant did when it came to retrieve the knife.


“Of course, Your Grace,”
she exhaled the title as if it were some sorrowful thing. “I shall return to just that.” She gave a bow, making sure she didn’t touch the Queen in any way, though her eyes never left Ilaera. “Wonderful feast,” she didn’t hide the sarcasm. She turned to leave the feast and Her Majesty's presence.

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2014, 02:53:04 am »

She found it less satisfying than she thought as Mira accepted the warning. There was no cowering fear.  And yes, Beckett had been right it was fear that she craved, even if she preferred to have it masked as devotion.

“Good.” Her only comment to the obedience shown.  She wasn’t for a moment fooled.  Mira was dangerous. 
That was part of the thrill.  Part of the gamble.

The queen moved back to her guests.   The dancing started anew.   She even decided to dance with a few of the nobles for the fun of seeing them sweat.  As suggested, several came to admire Beckett’s form as it lay in state on the front table.  Face up the bloody wound wasn’t visible.  His face was calm and his eyes closed.

The dreamer is sleeping. Irony to be sure.

Beckett most definitely was dead.  She let the spectacle go on for an hour, and only once did she overhear a comment that the ritual was a bit different.  The queen had never before kissed the Rabadesh; a curious question from one of the dancers who admired how Beckett looked and wondered on his final moment.

And indeed that was the key.  Ilaera could almost feel his life force inside her like a caged bird longing for escape.  Her will was strong, but his was stronger.

Another thrill.

The clock chimed the top of the hour.  It wasn’t the end of the day, but that lovely moment when twilight awoke.  She called for attention from those in the room and it was easily granted.

“And now,” she announced. “You will see.  Another gift bestowed.  For the gods favor us with life.”  Her steps slowed before Beckett’s reclining form, “And yet, it is I who can bestow it to the dead.”

She kissed Beckett.  A confused, perhaps uncomfortable silence willed the crowd.  And as the queen drew back, Beckett sat up.

A woman screamed.  The back of Beckett’s costume was soaked with blood and remained so, the feathers flat and ruby red.  He blinked as though the light in the room was too bright for him, even though it was bathed in candlelight.

“And so I command that the year will be rich with blessing and lucky beyond belief.”  With another snap of her fingers Beckett disappeared.  Although she didn’t say it the intent was clear.  The queen was greater than the gods.

Beckett woke gasping for air.  He was lying on his back in a narrow bed, one he thought at first was his own, but then realized it wasn’t.  The window was in the wrong place.  The furniture rearranged in a mirror image.  The other spire.   It hurt to inhale and he wheezed, like there was a hole in his chest.  He put his hand to his heart and found it was slick with blood.  The knife wound turned inside out?

He didn’t know what was real and what was imagined.  Did the queen really kill him and bring him back? Had he somehow injured himself in his sleep?

Beckett tried to breathe again, and coughed painfully instead.  He tried to sit up, but fell back on the pillows. 
The room was dark, but the glow of the moon cast a silver light about that left him disoriented as though between worlds.   He needed to do something, but he felt weak.

Help. He begged.  But he didn’t know who’s help he needed or wanted.  As his eyelids fluttered closed he made the request again, although he doubted it would be answered.  “Mira, help me.”
« Last Edit: June 08, 2014, 02:55:13 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2014, 03:45:26 am »
‘Remember to mind your temper.’

She repeated his advice as she stalked into the library, not to do the Queen’s research but to proceed with her own. The books she had were all information on magic and curses in general, but she’d made mental notes on some things.

No relevant book was picked up, but one was taken from the shelf with flourish. She spun around 180 degrees so she could lean her back against the shelf, and flipped through the pages. She’d been doing research on superstitious places in the Sky city, figuring magical anomalies might cause strange activity. She could trace that to the magic that kept the city up, and then devise a plot to bring it down.

She was certain there had to be one near the castle, but she had scoured the edge.
‘Perhaps…basement.’ It would be her luck that the magic would be buried within the world and not along the edges, but it would also make sense. One of the Land certainly would have seen the magic if it were along the sides.

Of course, there were no stories of the castle in here. She slammed the book shut and pushed it back into its place before stalking out of the library, considering where to go. She couldn’t pretend to do research in her present state of mind.
‘Let’s sneak into the basement. All the guards are busy, and all the nobles out having fun.’

Mira left the library, frustration and paranoia causing her to brush her hand by her ear once more. She wanted to know if there were guards about. She tried to recall any way to the lower levels. She hadn’t yet explored the castle as much as she would have liked. She knew the way to her room, to the kitchen, and to the library.
‘What a life I lead.’

Mira found stairs, but they were not going where she wanted. They were going up. She was about to discard them and continue her search, when she caught a thought in a familiar voice. Mira looked up and heard the whisper of a voice. She considered it possibly a ghost, and opted to go find out just what it was. She didn’t dare hope it was Beckett, alive.


‘Can’t be a ghost, I can’t read the thoughts of ghosts.’
She’d tried. It didn’t go over well.

Mira didn’t bother with knocking. She turned the doorknob, found it unlocked, and pushed the door open. The moon cast enough of a light for her to recognize who it was, and it was for that reason she didn’t move beyond the doorway.

She’d heard too many stories of the dead coming back to venture close. Very few were benevolent on their return to the body.
“How are you alive, Beckett?” She used his name this time. There was no point in hiding; he had recognized her before, after all.

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2014, 02:18:20 am »
Like a miracle the door opened, and beautiful Mira stood on the threshold.  In the dim light Beckett couldn’t read her expression, but she spoke his name.  His smile was as weak as a newborn baby.  “I have beautiful eyes?” he joked in answer to her question.  He didn’t for a minute believe that the queen bowed to his wishes, luck was with him but such was difficult to explain. 

Again he tried to sit up and failed, falling back on the cushion with a small moan.  He pressed his hand to his heart, feeling the blood ooze on his fingers.  They clenched against the white fabric as he remarked, “It hurts to laugh.”  Everything hurt actually, but mostly he felt cold.  It saddened him that he couldn’t laugh, and the small smile on his face left him.

He wanted to claw off the collar, and pull off the costume – breathe again.  Instead he looked at Mira, head lolling to the side.  “I dream about you sometimes,” he said in a low voice.   Odd confession, but since he was dying - really dying this time - he figured she should know.  “I don’t dream about my family, but I dream about you.  I’ve always wondered why that is.”

Beckett wasn’t really looking for an answer.  His neck turned again, and his gaze went to the dark ceiling, “Maybe I’m just imagining you now.”  He swallowed the lump in his throat.  “I’m selfish.  I don’t want to die even if it means staying locked in the tower. I don’t like the tower.  So lonely.  Only me and the birds. But it would be better than...”

He thought about it now, what death would be like. Dark and damp he supposed.  He'd hovered on the edge before and now he would be forced to jump.  Would they bury him in the earth, or would his body float in the clouds?  He'd not learned the tradition and figured it wouldn't matter since there would be no one to mourn.

He longed for a deep breath and winced as he failed the attempt. "Cold."
« Last Edit: June 09, 2014, 02:25:26 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2014, 03:04:20 pm »
Mira’s hand found the doorway and placed itself there as she watched his movements, not much moving. He could speak, though. A laugh rose quickly at the comment, and vanished just as quick. Her hand left the doorway and she walked further into the room, deciding he probably wasn’t going to kill her.

He was still wounded. He was rambling. He dreamt of her.
‘Sweet.’ Had she known his knack for foresight, she might have thought anything else. “No dear, I’m as real as your blue eyes. At least, I hope so,” she could smile, though it was hard. He was bleeding badly. “I’d be quite cross if I turned out to be nothing but your imagination.” She walked from him to check what was in the room, wishing for a miracle of cloth bandages to keep the fluids in.

There was no such thing here. There was plenty of cloth from the bedding, and she could tear it. Certainly she could tear the pillow covers, at least. She decided she would at least try that method and turned back around, walked over to the bed and Beckett’s side.
“I don’t suppose I could try and wrap the wound?” Her fingers placed themselves on his chest, her eyes looked over what he was wearing and considered how best to get that off of him.

She didn’t want to move him without permission, particularly while he was in such irritating clothing. She would call it unnecessarily difficult, but knew better. Sari’s were unnecessarily difficult. 


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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2014, 04:10:16 am »
He could hear Mira moving about the room, but didn’t know what she was looking for.  He shivered.  When she knelt beside him to press on the wound he glanced up at her face.  “You have pretty eyes too,” he said.  “Not that it’s a competition.”

The smile was more of a smirk.  “You don’t suppose?  So proper.  Like somehow you’ve never undressed a man wearing..feathers...before.”  He chuckled and yes it hurt to laugh but it did help his mood and it fought a bit of the chill.  “Presume away.”

But his hand didn’t leave hers right away.  He’d covered her touch with his own, making layers of blood and flesh.  He was scared to move and suspected it showed.  Eventually he tried to relax and help as best he could with the bandaging process even though he was too weak to accomplish much on his own.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.  Well, not here, I figured you’d find me, but at the castle in general? 

He wanted to talk and distract himself.  Mira was always good at conversation and he found her distracting in general – a perfect match.“Did you aspire to come to the clouds?” 

And will you be staying long?


Krystal Itzume

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Re: Timber [closed]
« Reply #29 on: June 11, 2014, 06:03:01 am »
Mira couldn’t keep the smile from her face at his compliments. She didn’t play nurse often. Perhaps she should, if patients could be this nice. He gave her permission as his blood washed over her hand. She felt the presence of his life upon her hand and tried not to think much of it and how it might last. Blood was always potent.

“No, not men in feathers, anyway,”
Mira answered, “I don’t have the honor of stripping nobles too often,” a smirk that didn’t last as his hand remained atop hers. She didn’t move hers before him. It didn’t feel right to do so.

Once his hand moved and he tried to relax, Mira began to work at undoing the clothing from around Beckett’s chest. She was slow, meticulous, not wanting to cause more harm by pulling too fast. Eventually, his chest was bare, and she reached for pillows he wasn’t using. She emptied them from their cases, and began to tear it off in strips, glad she had strength enough for that.


“I’m doing research here,”
Mira answered, deciding some honesty was acceptable, “The Queen is interested in some curse,” perhaps he would understand that more than her.

Although, now that the Queen knew what she was capable of, perhaps she could just take all the information out of her.
‘Patience.’ She didn’t know just how strong or capable the Queen’s mental guards could be. Too strong, and Mira would be creating her own death sentence. ‘If I haven’t already.’

These thoughts didn’t show.
“I have no aspirations of joining the Sky, though.” That much was true. There were those who wanted to go to the Sky, of course, but there were many who pitied the airborne. Mira had been one of those. Her pity had twisted to dislike. “I do not intend to stay here forever. My place is back home, but I have always been curious,” she gave him a smile as she wrapped the wound with the strips, making sure it was tight around him so that it would help keep the blood in. “I had to see what it was. I had to know. And, well, now talk of curses? It’s fascinating, really…not to mention all the rumors about the royalty. I haven’t seen any wings on Ilaera, though. Not on anyone, actually. It’s disappointing.”

Curiosity was easy to understand, and honest, too. No, she wasn’t lying. She was just omitting.
“But whatever brought you here, Beckett, to be the Queen’s toy?” For clearly that was what he was. She didn’t have another word for how she’d seen him behave. “Are you at least the favorite?” A teasing tone.