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Krystal Itzume

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Duties of Love [Closed]
« on: September 04, 2015, 06:06:22 am »
Eyes emerald green
Pale skin like a queen
With a crown of fire and gold
You will be loved
This I know to be true
My sweet little baby girl….

The memories were fragmented even close to them. The little girl remembered the laughter of the Great Hall, where her father feasted those men willing to fight and die for him. She had sat near him, and had been missing half of the jokes being told by her father’s friend as she chatted with him. Yet, her mother scowled, and her father laughed, so she continued conversing and trying to understand.

Then she remembered the way a man came running in, and on his lips were the words:
“Lord Alta is outside with his host.”

Her brothers rose as one, though they tried to be two.

Her mother gasped.

A roar came from a large man, and her mother grabbed onto her and pulled her close.

Her father rose, the picture of poise,
“Let us go out and meet him, then,” he spoke. Cheers and roars engulfed the room, and men immediately started to move. Her father, beautiful and red-headed, came to her and her mother.

Whispered and panicked words escaped her mother, as the girl was held close to her skirts by a strength she didn’t know her mother possessed. It gripped her shoulder so hard it hurt. Her father whispered back, and the girl looked up with blinking green eyes, trying to read lips for words she had not yet mastered.
“Dad!” She cried out at last, and he looked down to her.

He did not pick her up, but he knelt before her to be at eye level. They had the same eyes. So much the same, really.
“Princess,” he said kindly, “Go with your mother now,” a pout came to her lips and he put his index finger under her chin and pressed his thumb to her cheek, “I’ll be back soon, and when I am back we will plan for a ball. I will get you a new dress to wear for it, I promise. But you must behave and do as your mother says.”

“But—”


The thumb pressed to her lips.
“You must be very quiet,” he told her. “You must be very quiet until morning.”

“Father!” Called Bryce, still a boy but acting a man, with a sword at his hip.

She heard her mother say clearly then,
“You cannot take them, you cannot take them, too, they’re—”

“Thirteen,”
her father said. And the girl was a child of five. He rose, and he reached for his wife, but she gave him only her cheek in her fury that her sons were being taken out the door. He did not fight with her for more, but let her stew. He did not know it would be the last time he would see her, and his daughter.

“Lord Escala!”


And he turned on his heel, not dressed for battle, but knowing he had no options. He walked to the door with his cape flowing behind him, a black shadow of death.

The girl was dragged along with her mother, who took her deeper into their home of stone. They hid with others, servants and children of the other nobles, and they listened to the sounds of violence. They heard the home itself take strikes from flaming boulders.

The grip of her mother never let up, but the girl squirmed,
“I want Reynard!”

Her mother gave her such a severe, frightened look,
“You can get him later.”

She twisted,
“I want him now!” She had no understanding of the severity of the situation. She only knew she wanted her stuffed fox, “Let me go!” She all but shrieked, and the rise of her voice seemed startling enough. There was a moment when the grip was weak, and the girl was free. She ran for the door, and ran out it, wanting nothing but her fox.

Her mother's steps pursued her, of course.


The girl never got her fox.

The rush of footsteps caused her to dive into a nearby cupboard, and hide. Fear overcame her, and there she remained. She could hear screams, first her mother's, but she tried to tune them out. She didn’t move, didn’t so much as cry out or scream.

Her father said be quiet until morning. Now she knew why. A part of her mind blamed herself. If she hadn’t screamed so, would the rushing steps go to cause the screaming?

Then there was heat, and the smell of smoke. She had burned her hand before, and knew this was not good. Fear kept her locked in the cupboard a while longer, until panic overwhelmed her and she the doors open. She was not then caught in the inferno, but she could see the flames.

Her voice was swallowed in the horror, and she ran—fast, faster than she thought she could. She got lost in the haze of smoke, though she knew the home like the back of her hand. She stumbled out a window, rather than a door, which would be to her advantage as she saw as she fell into the mud. Every door had two guards positioned near it. She froze where she fell, until she was certain she could move, certain she’d be unnoticed.


It came with a servant who ran out from the doors, and was cut down.

She wasn’t heard over the roar of fire.

She wasn’t seen beneath the billowing smoke.


She ran, but not far. She ran out her father’s hunting forest, where she used to play with her brothers, and there fell against a tree to look at her home in flames. She understood enough for her eyes to start to water, and she hugged the tree that had taken her weight. Her throat ached with words, but now more than ever her father’s advice was sticking.

Be quiet until morning.

But where would she go?

The tears continued to fall. She could not go into her home. When the flames died, maybe, but she could not wait that long. She had seen fires burn for days and days unending in her home in winter.

She bit her bottom lip against a cry.
‘Lord Alta.’ The guard had said. ‘Lord Alta….’ She heard that name so much in the household. She heard it on her father’s lips almost more than ‘princess’, always followed with insults or laughter. ‘He….’ The thought did not finish, for she had not the words she wanted. She only had the understanding that this Lord Alta was responsible for this burning home.

‘I’ll go to Lavinia.’


An image of the kindly blonde woman came to mind, a woman she had seen with her mother. The trips had always been short, and she thought she knew the way. They could take her back when the fire ended, and she’d find her father, or he’d find her. Certainly, he’d find her, and she’d apologize to her mother for not staying, a thousand times she’d apologize.


The girl would not make it on foot, but she would make it. Luck was on her side that night, and a traveling merchant came upon her as she walked along the side of the road.
“I want to go to Lavinia,” she had whispered, still trying to be quiet. He took a look at her jewelry and offered a trade, which she accepted.

He left her with a necklace, a fiery opal, and brought her to the door of Lavinia by the morning—he was heading to sell his wares in that town, anyway, and he dropped her off with a guard and left without a second thought.

So the girl spoke to the guard,
“I want to see Lavinia.” No lady. No formality at all. Dawn had broken and she was not quiet.

The guard looked at her quizzically,
“And who are you?”

“I’m Leandra Escala,”
there was a touch of her father’s pride at not being recognized immediately. “I want to see Lavinia!”

The guard seemed uncertain. He knew the name, but…,
“Where’s your mother? Your father?” He asked.

“Home. It was on fire, though, so I had to leave or I’d be burned….”


The guard lost many hues of color, the honesty of a child always startling. Her face was blackened enough, and the scent of smoke clung to her clothing, which were fine enough to be a lady’s.
“I will…no, come with me,” he offered his hand, rather than take hers, and she took it. He led her inside, but left her at the entrance as he went to fetch the Lord and Lady Inosus, who he suspected just waking up.

He went to their chambers, and he knocked,
"My Lord Inosus, My Lady Inosus," he addressed them both from behind the door, "There is a...girl here, calling herself Leandra Escala, but she has no escort," his tone must have told the story of how awkward the situation felt. "I do not think that she is lying."

~***~

Lord Royce Escala did not truly expect to lose, even when he came out of his gate astride his black destrier with his sons on either side of him, and saw the numbers. He had men on the wall, and though he saw siege weapons, he also saw that the young lordling was waiting.


“Look how he waits for your leave to start playing at war, Lord Escala,”
his man joked.

Royce had years on the young Briant, who was a child compared to Royce. The lad had experience in war already, but he was hardly blooded. Hardly anything worth fearing.
“I’ll go treat,” Royce told his man, “but be prepared.”

He rode up, leaving his sons behind him, to meet the young lord.


Lord Briant Alta was hard; his grey eyes bore into the red-head as the Lord Escala approached, but his horse didn’t move an inch under him. He let the arrogant man ride close enough to chat without offering the courtesy of meeting him halfway.
“This is rather impressive, Alta,” Royce said, “Did you want to join the feast? We’re having quite the party.”

“I know,” Briant answered. “I hear the talk is all about usurping my family.”

Royce didn’t even bother to lie, this close, with intentions laid bare,
“What can I say? You’re not very popular.”

A single black eyebrow was arched,
“Is that so? Let us test your popularity, then.” And he ordered, “Seize him.”

Before Royce could turn his horse to flee, several arrows were put into the creature and it fell, with his leg pinned under it.


The hostilities began as a blur then, with Lord Briant Alta shouting orders from atop his destrier at the beginning. Royce Escala was removed from the ground, only to be bound fast to one of the siege weapons and forced to watch as that very weapon blew holes into his home. He screamed insults at first, before he started to moan and scream out prayers and threats. He watched his sons fall, first Bryce, then Ryan.


The walls were breached. His home was breached. Lord Alta had joined the fray when it was safer to do so, not half as arrogant as Escala to endanger himself needlessly.


His screams eventually became muted hatred, as he saw his home go up in flames from the inside. The windows were painted orange. The heat reached him, and with it, came Lord Briant Alta himself.

A fox that Royce knew as Reynard was dropped into the mud at his knees. Royce shook with hatred and lifted his gaze. He thought he’d see smugness, but all he saw in Briant’s eyes were stone.


“When you go to the gods,”
Briant spoke coldly, “tell them you have come because you are an oathbreaker. You were mine, Escala. Your family, your servants, your holdings, were mine loaned to you. This is the reward for your ingratitude.”

Those hard grey eyes lifted, and Royce could see thoughts moving in that young mind, a train he could hardly understand as he looked at them.
“This was wrong. I would have never—”

“—killed all of us?” They snapped back to Royce, “I know.” He could explain at length how that made Royce unfit to so much as sniff the pedestal on which the Alta sat, but why explain to a dead man? Which reminded him, “Cut off his head, leave the body. I want his head on a spike outside my keep, to show the rest of my vassals what happens to traitors.” His father had been too scared in his old age to bother with it, so now with his father dead, Briant took initiative and gathered his men-at-arms.

Royce pulled on his bonds as someone grabbed his hair. He screamed an empty threat, before all words were cut from him.



So sleep my love, sleep
I’ll be here as you dream
Kiss your hair of fire and gold
You are so loved
You’re the heart of me
My beautiful, sweet baby girl….

Peregrine

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2015, 10:42:18 pm »
Lavinia Inosus had been up for some time, the active child in her stomach not willing to hold still and keeping her from her rest. She had just finished setting the last pin in her hair when the knock to her door came.

She turned on the bench in front of her vanity and looked at her husband as he rubbed the last of the sleep from his eyes. She'd let him stay abed, though she knew when he actually had woken. He had admitted once, early in their marriage, to liking to watch her comb out her hair. He'd said something about gold or sunshine and hoping she'd never cut it. So she really hadn't done much but trim it since, liking to please him in this small way.

Her brows raised in shock at the guards words. She stood and slipped a robe over her dressing gown and tied the single tie over her growing stomach. She held up Tybalt's gown for him. "The Escala lands and estate are nearly a days ride from here."

Her eyes danced back and forth looking in his. She pursed her lips, wondering if all the recent rumors and information swirling about the Lords had resulted in something terrible. Tybalt's eyes told her it was very likely.

She turned to the door and walked over opening it. She kept her face calm and unreadable. "Let me see this girl. I will know if she is an impostor."

The guard nodded and led her back to the entrance hall, his leather boots silent, her flat bottoms slippers making quiet slaps on the cool stone floors. Lavinia stopped short seeing the state of the girl, but then continued forward as she turned. She heard Tybalt enter the room, suspecting he'd dressed properly, rather than in his robe.

The girl had the right firey hair, and her clothes were obviously of a fine make, though they were filthy and a bit torn. Lavinia slowly knelt in front of her and put her hands on the girls face, looking her in the eyes.She turned her head gently to the side and pushed back the hair on one side and then sucked in a breath.

It was Leandra, a small scar along her hairline Lavinia knew of confirmed it. The older woman took a deep breath and put her hands on Leandra's shoulders. They needed to know what happened. "Leandra, sweet girl, how did you get here? Where are your parents and brothers?"

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2015, 11:59:25 pm »
Lord Tybalt Inosus had hoped to further enjoy the quiet morning while his wife got ready. It was always a pleasant sight that he wished never to disturb, even though he longed for her to be at his side, warm, soft, and sound asleep. Of late, the latter was particularly rare to come by. He knew that soon, he would be welcoming another child into his home. He was hoping for a girl. He’d fallen for his sweet little girl, Lilla, soon after she was born.

All said it would be a boy, though.

There was enough light filtering through the fabric of the curtain to give her hair a glow, but all of this was disturbed by a knock. He pretended to start to wake then, stretching and groaning. The man behind the door continued without any pressing, the voice familiar in his memory. Sir Merek Regent, a lesser lord but a lord all the same. A second son.

His story was queer.
“Lea? Lea Escala?” He spoke through the haze of sleep and confusion, sitting up to rub at his blue eyes. Viv was moving already, and had clothing held up for him as soon as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He reached for it, and used that to bring himself to a standing position. “How’s that possible?” He echoed confusion that his wife had stated plainly—it was too far for her to get her alone, certainly.

Just as he put the robe on, the door was opened by Viv, and he watched her leave, the knight on her heels. He considered then that a robe was hardly appropriate for leaving his room at this hour, at least on its own. He moved to find a clean pair of pants, folded nicely, and then slapped on a quick tunic. He added the green robe over that, and slipped into slippers as well before he darted after his wife, robe not tied. He brushed his hand down his blond hair several times to try and calm it. He couldn’t see it, but he felt it was a mess.

His steps started to slow as he caught up and could see the girl clear as day. A breath caught in his chest.
‘No….’

He needed nothing more than her eyes to know it for her, for her eyes had belonged to Royce. He stepped to Merek and asked,
“No one was with her?” As his wife knelt before the girl.

“There was a merchant who brought her to me, but….”
No. No one.

Tybalt felt his heart clench painfully, and he set his jaw to try and steel himself as he approached, once Viv had confirmed for herself who this was and posed her questions. He, however, did not add to them.


~***~

Leandra Escala waited impatiently, but it was not long that she waited. She had almost taken to pacing or screaming out for someone, but then someone arrived.
“Lavinia!” It was the one she wanted, too!

Her body turned to face the woman, and she might have run to her, but she hesitated at the woman’s quickened pace. She opted instead to stay where she was, biting on her bottom lip at the stern expression.

The thoughts she’d tried to keep at bay rose as the woman sunk before her, and touched her face. She bit down on her bottom lip harder as hair was pushed back, and then a deep breath was taken. Leandra didn’t like that, nor the gasp that came from the ‘Lord Inosus’, as she knew him.

She could feel her eyes watering when she looked up into Lavinia’s.
“I walked. I started to walk. A merchant helped me get here some ways away,” she had to release her lip to talk, but she did so, and then licked at the indentation a tooth had made just below her lower lip. “My dad was…my mom…my dad took my brothers to,” she didn’t know where they were, or how to say it, and her face screwed up under the pressure of it. “We were feasting dad’s men when Lord Alta showed up.”

Lord Inosus turned his head. His body seemed to turn with it, and the hiss of a word escaped, but Leandra could not make it out. She saw Tybalt glaring at the wall before she focused again on Lavinia.
“There was a fire,” she said, “and I left, and I don’t know where my mom is now, or my dad, or my brothers. I don’t know, but….”

But she did, in a way she wanted to deny. She knew what death was. She knew what caused death. But she hadn’t seen the bodies, so how could they be dead? There was hope yet.
“But they’d come here. Mom would come here. So I came here.” Simple logic. Foolish logic. One of her eyes lost the water in it.

Tybalt's hand reached down to disturb the hair atop Lavinia's head, for he did not wish to stoop and be at her side, but he felt the need to reach out.

« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 12:52:55 am by Krystal Itzume »

Peregrine

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2015, 05:07:49 am »
Lavinia's eyes brimmed with tears as Leandra spoke. When the young girl finished she gently pulled her closer and wrapped her arms around her for a few moments as she looked up at her husband. She blinked back tears and then gently pushed Leandra away from her to look her in her eyes.

"You were very brave and you've traveled very far. If..." she cleared her throat to keep her tears at bay, "If your Mother is able, I'm sure she'll come for you here." She put a gentle hand on the girls face. "But you got a good head start getting a ride with that merchant. Why don't we get you something to eat and cleaned up while we figure it all out, mmm?" She looked up to Merek.

"Would you go and fetch Sophie for me? I'm sure she's already up since it is not long until the boys will be up crashing about."

She looked back at Leandra, her hands dropping to the girls shoulders and squeezing them gently, "You did very well. I need to talk to Lord Inosus but I promise I won't take long and I'll be right up. We'll brush out your hair and get all the soot out, then we can braid it just like your mother showed me the last time you visited, alright?"

Lavinia stood when their Nursemaid Sophie came back with Merek. She would recognize Leandra from visits and would be a familiar face for the girl while Lavinia talked with her husband. "Sophie, will you see to it our guest is well looked after? Though she's had a rough night and so please make sure no one else bothers her." Sophie's eyes widened slightly but she dipped a curtsy and took Leandra's hand as Lavinia gave Leandra's shoulder a final squeeze before she was bustled away.

Lavinia then looked at her husband and then Merek, all pretense gone, her face calculating while still holding back the flood of tears she wanted to cry for a friend most certainly lost. "If Lord Alta killed her family and burned the Escala manor she is in grave danger and so are we if he finds out we're harboring her." She pulled her robe tighter and looked at her husband. "We cannot let him have her of course, but too many of her staff know who she is by sight alone and there are those who would betray us for a few coins." Merek, she knew, was not one of those or she wouldn't be speaking so frankly in front of him.

"The Merchant is a problem as well Tybalt. Anything that could lead Lord Alta here, and to her, cannot be left to chance." It was perhaps a dire thing she was suggesting, but Lavinia had grown up in harder circumstances than most elevated to her station. The reality was, they could have no loose ends, whatever it wad they decided to to. She shifted her weight and grimaced slightly as the child in her womb kicked and shifted. She rubbed at her belly, knowing she couldn't let herself get too worked up this late in pregnancy or chance bringing on the birth too soon. "Is there anyone we could trust to have her stay with? Anyone who would take her in, no questions asked if you showed up at their door with her?"

She knew that was a tall order in such times as they were in, and with every growing moment she was becoming more certain there was no one but themselves they could trust. She was already thinking up reasons for dismissing most of her household so she could bring on new that didn't know Leandra by sight, though how to explain away her existence in their household if she was to be treated as the station she was accustomed was something she didn't let her thoughts wander to fully, at least not just yet.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2015, 07:00:27 pm »
The embrace was much appreciated. Leandra did not lift her own arms to return it, weary and trying to ignore the sense of foreboding that was building, but she appreciated it. Her head just fell upon Lavinia’s shoulder, to rest.

Tybalt caught Viv’s gaze over the shoulder of the young girl, and held it for a few seconds, willing her to be strong until Leandra was away. There was much to this situation that the little girl was not prepared to hear, and they had not even fathomed what steps needed to come next.

He held his tongue, and let his mind race to options as Lavinia pulled away to use her strength to keep this situation moving forward.

 It came again once her eyes met Lavinia’s, though, and she held that gaze.
‘If.’ There were tears in those eyes, though Leandra’s didn’t tear up again after the initial spill.

“Mmm,” Leandra echoed the sound from Lavinia, certainly agreeing.

Though, the girl didn’t want a ‘you did very well’. She did want the food, and the cleaning up, and the braid, but she didn’t want those words. She didn’t like those words, hidden around all the compliments. They made her uneasy.

She squinted at Lavinia.
“Lavinia….” Those were words spoken when something was wrong, but not her fault. Those were words she heard when she didn’t understand.

You did very well.

But she didn’t know how to express it or ask, before the footfall of the man who found her returned with a familiar face. Sophie. Leandra did her best to smile for the woman as the shock registered on the other’s face. It caused her own grin to falter. Her hand was taken, but she looked back and up to Lavinia. Her shoulder was squeezed to dismiss her gently, but Leandra didn’t want to be parted. She was pulled away with Sophie, and though she humored reaching for Lavinia, she was too far by the time the plan was registered.

So, a pout marred her lips, and she hurried her steps so she was keeping up with Sophie’s gait.
“When will Lavinia come get me?”

~***~

Tybalt watched them leave. He didn’t even need to look at Viv to know the moment everything changed. Merek was allowed to remain, though Tybalt did shoot his wife a glance just before she spoke, just in case she wanted him dismissed.

She spoke in his presence, and Merek’s posture relaxed.

Tybalt wanted to pace. He also wanted to grab Lavinia and take her hands, pull her down onto a sofa and mourn the loss while thinking of what was best to do. His eyes did not brim so easily with tears, but he knew they would fill later, when he was certain of what had happened. When he knew he would never see Royce again.

It was on the tip of his tongue to say that Lord Alta wouldn’t find out, but Lavinia was letting her thoughts run at the same pace as her mouth, and so he listened. He caught the little smirk on Merek’s lips when traitors were mentioned, but he gave a nod of agreement. There were always those who would be willing to sell out those they were meant to serve.
‘Just look at the Escala.’ Meant to serve Lord Alta, but traitors to him all the same.

“I can get rid of the merchant,”
Merek offered softly. “I know his face.”

Tybalt briefly considered alternative routes, and posed a question while he thought on the words Lavinia had just spoken, of allies who would take in Leandra.
“What did you notice of him?”

“He did not bring the girl here out of the kindness of his heart,” Merek had noticed the jewelry the man wore, rather than had put away in bags.

Tybalt shut his eyes. He gave a silent nod.
“I think that we will have to see an end to him,” if Lavinia spoke up in protest, he would consider her options, but he did consider the death of the merchant the best route.

He opened his eyes and they fell more gently upon her. Her pain was not only emotional, and he crossed the floor to take her hands, holding them near her growing stomach. Their child.
“Those who would have kept her may already be dead like Royce,” those who would do it without question, anyway. “Too many others will be afraid. We could foster her to another house, but,” there was a problem with that.

Merek sensed it. He knew it, “
One of us would have to claim her,” only nobles and sometimes their bastards were fostered to other houses to learn. There was no way they could pass Leandra off as their own child. All of theirs were fair of hair, and that red stuck out too prominently. "It would be the only way, and Leandra would have to take to the lie, as well." Which might be the difficult part.

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2015, 07:08:51 am »
She looked over at Merek. While he had the bloodlines, and being a lower born son wasn't a mark against him, being single was. He had no place taking on and raising a young girl, even if a governess was employed.

Lavinia searched Tybalt's eyes. She knew what he wanted, though he hadn't asked it of her yet. Leandra was younger than their two oldest, and older than their two youngest. For them to take her, she would have to deal with the disgrace of Tybalt being unfaithful. Not to mention in order for them to claim her Tybalt would have to falsely admit to knowing he had sired a bastard in order to legitimately bring her into the house.

She looked down at Tybalt's hand over hers, while the other held her stomach protectively. If Merek took Leandra they had a small portion of deniability if Lord Alta came hunting. She took a deep breath. She wasn't sure she could choose Leandra's safety over that of her own children. She needed time and a strong and steady will to make this decision.

"We're going to have to wait until the news reaches us before we send any of our own men to investigate else we will look too suspicious. Perhaps all of this talk is premature. We don't even know fully what happened yet or if anyone else in the house hold escaped. "


She gave her husbands hand a squeeze, and finally looked up at him. He wouldn't ask her to disgrace herself and their marriage if it was any other family. "I'll talk with the girl, just in case."

It wasn't a commitment to taking the girl, not yet, but she didn't want to be scrambling either. She took another deep breath as she felt the baby kick and gave her husband a sad smile, "Until we know, tell the household I've had early birth pains and I've gone to bed, not to be bothered so that the child won't come early. Only Sophia and Margret are to attend me when not about their other duties. I'll keep the girl with me and out of sight until we can figure the rest out."

She touched her husbands face, her eyes saying 'We'll cross that bride when we come to it' and gave his cheek a kiss then made her way back to their suite of rooms. There were three rooms inner connected by doors in the walls. Right now the far left was set aside as a birthing room- though it usually wasn't-, the middle was turning into a nursery again from a sitting room, and the right was their regular master bedroom.

Lavina went into her room and then used the inner doors hidden behind tapestries to walk down to the birthing room. She was correct that Sophia had brought Leandra here and she smiled softly at the little girl, seeing she was still dressed, though the tub was now full of hot water.

Lavina put her hands on her hips, "Are you giving Sophia a hard time? Come along now, into the tub you go, I can't braid your hair if it isn't clean."

Once Leandra was soaking, Lavinia informed Sophia of the news she was to spread about early labor and to bring Margret into their confidence as Lavinia knew her to be true and trustworthy, having been with her since she was a youth, and they'd need at least another pair of hands. Sophia stoked the fire a bit more and then went to go and find clean clothes for Leandra.

Lavinia went over and sat on a chair near the tub. "Do you  need any help? I'm sure it will feel better to be all clean."

When she was all clean Lavina helped wrap her in a warm towel and since Sophia wasn't back yet she moved them both closer to the fire while she started to brush out the firery hair, before she stopped and took a deep breath and slowly turned the little girl around.

She put her hands on the little girls shoulders yet again and looked her in those green eyes. "Leandra, I do not wish to frighten you, but I know you are a smart and strong little girl so I want to make you a promise. I promise to never lie to you unless it is of the utmost importance that I do, and I want you to make the same promise, alright?"

She waited for the girls response and then nodded. She kept her tone soft and gentle, "That being said, I do not know if your family is alright or not. If they are, we will help them." She took a steadying breath, the thought of her dear friends dead brought tears to her eyes again that she kept from spilling out by sheer will alone. When she spoke it was even more gently and her words chosen with even more care, "If they are not, we would keep you safe here with us, but things wouldn't be the same. To keep you protected from Lord Alta we would all have to play a pretend game.  You couldn't be Leandra Escala anymore, you'd have to pretend to be someone else. Do you understand?"

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2015, 06:59:05 pm »
There was no protest to Merek dealing with the merchant, but Tybalt did not yet send the man on his way when his wife’s scrutinizing gaze passed over him. When he also took a quick glance, he understood what it was she was thinking. Yes, there was one man who would not question Leandra. The problem that Tybalt thought of was not that he was single, but only that Merek wouldn’t hide her well.

Smart, Merek was. Clever was a talent that needed working on, though.

Lavinia’s words were soothing, calming, but Tybalt knew actions would need to be taken swiftly when news did reach them. It was best to have all ideas available and within easy grasp. He had stated what he thought—that she could go and be fostered—but when his wife squeezed his hand he knew what else she understood. He bowed his head to look at their hands, and imagined the shame of it for her—for their children.

Their eldest would likely recognize Leandra. The others, not so much. They would have to live thinking of him—for it would never be Lavinia, though Tybalt hadn’t said it—as an adulterer.

Reasons were made up for Lavinia to tend to the girl and be with her. Tybalt gave a slow nod, and lifted his eyes back to hers when her hand touched his face.
‘Indeed, you know.’ Always alongside him, Viv. Always easy to follow his thoughts. He smiled at that look of crossing bridges, and he let his own lips kiss her cheek before she was away from him.

When she was gone, he let his blue eyes fall upon Merek, who straightened under the gaze.
“Deal with the merchant. Anything that looks like it belonged to the Escalas, bring to me,” he told Merek.

“My lord,” a hand to his chest, in a fist, was his salute. “Tybalt," informality. That was dangerous from Merek, "if Leandra is unsafe here, I do not think that Lord Alta would come looking in my household.”

“A strange girl with red hair shows up at a single man’s house?”
Tybalt’s eyes glittered with mischief. “And you being dark of hair, too. Oh, I’d come running, if I were Alta and an Escala was in a knight’s home.”

Too fast to ever let the knight’s delusions get into the girl’s head.
“No, Merek. I cannot send her with you. It would be too difficult to explain.” He let his eyes close as names ran through his head, and he tried hard to think of alternatives besides fostering or keeping her. Either one left him shamed. “Go now,” he said, “I must see that everything else is in order today,” and he had to send some people abroad, to get word of Lord Alta knew. He needed more eyes in those lands, and in the lands of his own allies, to see what the whispers were.

~***~

Leandra had soon decided she didn’t care as much for Sophia when Lavinia was not there. She was too short in her answers, and too fussy. Leandra let her heat a bath, but when it was time for her to get in she staunchly refused, repeating excuses about Lavinia. She had come here for Lavinia, and besides, the water looked too cold, she didn’t see any clothing laid out, and, and, and….

Then Lavinia entered and her demeanor changed, just a little. Her posture relaxed and she had enough honesty to admit,
“Yes,” she was giving Sophia a hard time, though not enough shame to lower her head when she said it.

That was when she finally stripped herself of the clothing, and moved into the tub—it was too cold, but it was tolerable. She listened as words floated around her about ‘labor’ and ‘Margret’. Leandra didn’t catch it all, didn’t understand it all, but she was happy anyway when whatever it was caused Sophia to leave. She let herself sink further under the water.
“Mm-mm,” she shook her head a bit under the water when Lavinia asked if she needed help.

She had been doing this herself for a little while now, although her mother had still stood watch. Something about drowning. Leandra wasn’t that stupid.

When she was all clean, there was a warm towel which Leandra eagerly accepted and bundled herself up, with Lavinia’s help.
“Thank you,” it was strange, really, getting cleaned up here. She told herself it was only temporary, but the doubt remained. That niggling doubt just wouldn’t leave her be as she was led to be near the fire, and her hair was brushed out.

Her hands crossed over her lap and she looked into it. It was a controlled fire, a familiar sort, but the longer Leandra looked into it, the more it brought to mind the twisted fire and smoke that had invaded her home and choked her lungs.

The brushing stopped at a whimper, and Leandra was turned away from the flames to look at Lavinia again. She tried not to show that she was shaken, and already afraid by the memories that played in her head, but she was. She was shaking beneath the towel and Lavinia’s words weren’t helping much at all.
“I…I promise,” she didn’t want any lies, but they were useful sometimes. It wasn’t a lesson her mother wanted her to learn, but one Royce had said when he spoke of the noble court and all the necessary lies and liars.

The strong emphasis on the ‘if’ caused Leandra to bite down on her bottom lip. It caused her to ask,
“They’re not…are they?” For Lord Alta had been there, and she needed protection from him. “I don’t want to be anyone else!” Pretend game to be someone else? That sort of lie seemed unreasonable. If she were someone else, what life would that be? She just wanted to be herself—Lady Leandra Escala, the future princess that her father wanted her to be. She didn’t want anything else.

Peregrine

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2015, 07:36:03 am »
Lavinia sat back and regarded the girl and her question and then her stubborn attitude. She pursed her lips, a face her children knew meant the beginnings of deep displeasure, but Leandra would not know yet.

Calmly she turned the girl and her fingers deftly began to twist the strands into a beautiful crown across the top of her head. She had just promised not to lie, so she wouldn't, but her voice was choked with repressed sadness. "I honestly do not know if your family lives. From what you described, I suspect that they do not."

She took a deep breath, "But if they do live, as I have said, we will help them. That being said, you need to understand, Lord Alta is not a forgiving man. That means that their, and your life, as Escalas is over. None of you can survive without pretending to be someone new." She finished the braid, tying a bit string into the braid as it curved along the back of her head and then down over her shoulder.

She turned Leandra around and took one of the girls hands from clutching the towel she was wrapped in and put it on her stomach where the baby kicked most often and placed her hand over the top of the smaller one.

The baby kicked and Lavinia looked down as she held Leandra's hand over the spot and the baby continued to shift. After a moment she looked back up to Leandra, "I am not asking you to forget who you are."

Though she hated the thought of hurting or scaring the girl more, she had to make herself clear. Her voice stayed very gentle, though her gaze was intense even as her eyes welled with emotion, "I care for you Leandra, and I want to keep you safe. I will do all I can, but your safety ultimately wrests on your shoulders. I believe what Lord Alta did is awful. But do not think for a moment that I will not do all in my power to protect my family from the same harm. If you wish to stay here under our protection, to be part of this family, you can no longer be Leandra Escala. You have to pretend, or... or I'm afraid you cannot stay." She wiped at a tear that escaped before she cleared her throat and straightened, her hand gripping Leandra's slightly tighter for a moment before letting go.

Sophia gave a soft knock just then and let herself in before Lavinia could answer, Margret in tow. Lavinia dabbed at her cheeks as she looked back at Leandra with sadness and pity, she even ran her fingers down the braid, gently twisting the firery strands at the end, her heart hurting at the thought of her dear friends. "You have at least a day or two to think about what I have said before you decide. During that time, you and I are not going to leave these rooms. If anyone were to see you, recognize you, we will all be in great danger."

Sophia brought over some very nice gowns that had been commissioned for Lilla and were still a good deal too big. They wouldn't fit Leandra perfectly, probably a bit too short, but they were of fine make. Lavinia stood and walked over to Margaret as Sophia approached Leandra. "See what you can do about salvaging her own dress. We'll need to dye it, and mend much of it, but we need to keep something for her. Besides, it will give us something to do while we're here."

The wiser, older woman nodded. She'd saved many of Lavinia's own things for her over the years from when she'd left her home after marrying Lord Inosus.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2015, 11:59:06 pm »
There were no lies from Lavinia.

Leandra knew it in the emotion written plainly across her face, with every inch she fought to control, Leandra knew.

The Escalas were over. Done.
‘Then….’ It was not an easy thing for a child to process. She was brought up as one thing, wanted only to be that thing. To be Lady Leandra Escala, to one day be a princess, to have the life her father always spoke of, and she’d conspired with him about. How could it be gone so quickly?

Not only that, how could it be so irreclaimable? Leandra did not know that word, but she knew the feeling then, the hopelessness as she understood this pretending was not like the games she’d played with her brothers. This was not something that would end after an hour or two, but something that would last for years.

For life.

Yes, life, like the one kicking in Lavinia. Leandra’s eyes followed her hand as it was moved to rest over the stomach. She understood this idea of pregnancy, though she had no younger siblings and had not seen this.

Her bottom lip quivered as her mind reached for understanding through the furtive denials her heart made.
‘No!’ It declared. ‘No, this isn’t right! This isn’t right, this isn’t real, this isn’t what I want!’

She kept her eyes on her own hand as she felt Lavinia’s move up to hers.

She bit her bottom lip when Lavinia told her she did not want Leandra to forget, and there was a yell in her throat, an outcry, because that seemed to be just what Lavinia wanted. The bite let the tears spill over the edge of her eye sockets, and stirred a pained whimper.
‘Then what!’ Pretend or she could not stay. Pretend and forget.

But not forget. Never forget.

How could she do all of that? Was there a point to not forgetting, if she could never have what was lost? How could she be a part of Lavinia’s family, and be an Escala?
‘But you can’t be an Escala, remember?’ Forget.

Her hand was squeezed, and let go. She returned it to the towel and let her gaze move to the floor, trying her hardest not to scream or cry out at the ultimatum. All she could do was watch the tears stain the floor, and feel resentment that she would be stuck here—here, with Lavinia, who was supposed to be her friend. She said she would help, but she was asking her to pretend. How was her family ever going to find her if she pretended.


‘If they’re alive….’

Which, likely, they weren’t. The permanent state of death was only understood through words. The idea of permanent was only starting to sink in.
“I don’t want the stupid dress,” she muttered, not thinking it would truly be audible. She was talking of her own and not those offered.

There were so many things Leandra didn’t want, right then, and only one thing she wanted. She wanted to wake up. Her eyes lifted as the shadow of Sophia fell on her, and she noticed the dresses that she had. She didn’t want them, either, and stubbornly held the towel tighter.

She didn’t want to pretend, when she knew who she was.
She didn’t want to dress differently, when her hair was familiar.
She didn’t want to be here, when she had a home.
She didn’t want….

And it all piled up to her dissolving there on the floor into a delayed, moaning sob and a rush of tears that came much quicker now. Her breath hitched and she buried her face in the towel, forgetting it had been covering her body and remembering only she ought to hide her face when she cried.

She didn't want this day.

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2015, 02:31:11 am »
Sophia took a deep breath as she watched the girl dissolve into tears. She turned and looked at Lavina. If it had been one of the Iscala children, she would have known exactly how to handle it. Firm hand, gentle touch, kind words, plain speaking. Each of them she had helped raise since babes, where as Leandra was a visitor at times, but not around enough for the woman to know what she needed most right now.

Lavina looked at Margaret, who nodded and took the chard dress away. Sophia left the dresses and under things she brought with her on the chest at the end of the bed and followed Margaret out. The dress would still be saved, whether Leandra wanted it or not. That didn't mean it needed to stay within sight for now though.

Lavina pulled a light cotton dressing gown from the pile and walked back over to Leandra.

She gracefully melted down to the floor, despite her protruding belly, and sat propped on one hip and gently rubbed Leandra's back and hummed a well known lullaby for a few minutes until the rise and fall of her back evened a bit. Though she could still hear the quiet sobs.

Then gently she pulled her upright enough to pull the nightgown over her, guiding her arms through the sleeves. She took a deep breath and sighed before gathering up the small girl into her lap and rocking back and forth as she let her own tears slide gently down her face.

"We are taught from a young age that our tears should be private. I will tell you now you poor sweet girl, that that is not always best. They are not shameful. Sharing your tears with someone as grief stricken as you are can help. "


She started to gently rub her back again as she rocked, "I will stay if you like, but if you want to cry in private, if that is what feels best to you, I can help you into bed and let you have your privacy for awhile."

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2015, 01:37:31 am »
When Leandra was older, she would come to remember the patience of Lavinia when she had been young. Even then, Leandra was both ashamed and grateful that Lavinia stayed. That she hummed. Music was forever dear, though she knew not how dear it would become to her, as the last way she remembered her father’s voice, when she forgot her mother’s.

The sobs did quiet. Her breathing hiccupped.

Leandra offered no resistance, all out of resistance, when Lavinia finally pulled the gown over her. Sleep, hunger, and sorrow pulled at her, heart and mind. Despite the belly that promised life, Leandra was able to have a seat in the woman’s lap, and she looked up to find that she, too, was crying.

The situation was truly bad then.
‘Did I…?’ Crying led to crying. An apology caught itself in her throat. One had to be strong for others. Tears were to be private affairs, and Lavinia agreed in some respects. It was shameful, despite what Lavinia said. It felt shameful. This was not who she was.

Yet, her pride had dissolved in the moment, in another whimpered hiccup. She didn’t answer Lavinia’s question about crying, because she didn’t want her to go, but she didn’t want to keep crying, either. Not in sight. She didn’t want the privacy, though. She looked down at her hands, clean of the soot,
“Who would I be?”

She was already not herself, crying like this.
“If I want to stay here,” that was the terms, “who would I be?”

‘And would I be it? Or would I really be me? Would you really still remember who I am?’


Would she remember?
"I'm not an Inosus," she didn't look like them at all. They were all blonde. "I don't wanna be a servant."

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2015, 07:43:22 am »
Lavina took a breath at the questions. Who would she be? "Not a servant. Certainly not, we would not do that to you. But your may find your station... not as elevated."

Royce wasn't really an option, despite the small discussion before.

To keep Leandra safe, there was only one family, one man, who could claim her and keep her safe. Lavinia just wasn't completely prepared to accept that yet, not until they knew before.

"We still have a lot of questions we need answers to, but you'd still be a version of you. Our experiences, our loves... and our losses, make us who we are, and they can never be taken from us. I'm certain you can have a say in what you are called to some extent. We can keep your new name close to your current name. Perhaps Layla, or Lydia or something completely different. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Lavina shifted, feeling one of her legs having gone to sleep from sitting on the floor with the girl in her lap and her belly pushing down across her hip. "How about we get you in bed, and I order some breakfast, I can hear one of the servants out feeding the chickens. Do you like eggs?"

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Duties of Love [Closed]
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2015, 02:25:10 am »
Not as elevated. Leandra understood that enough to know that meant she wouldn’t be ‘princess’ anymore. Not that she was princess, but hadn’t that been the dream her father had? If she was demoted, could she ever be that? A bit of a whimper escaped at the thought, but no verbalized complaint.

At least she would not have to be someone completely different, though she did not completely follow what Lavinia was saying about being a ‘version’ of herself. Anyone but Leandra Escala was not her. A version, though?
“So I won’t have to learn as many new rules,” she said, trying to wrap her head around it. “Just…just a new name…and some rules.”

A new name was still distasteful, and she scrunched her nose at the name ‘Lydia’. The ‘no’ was obvious on her expression. Layla wasn’t as bad, but Lydia was terrible. It didn’t sound like her name at all, did it?
‘But it wouldn’t be Layla Escala.’ “I would like it close. The name,” she clarified, and tried to think of one close as well. She didn’t want to forget who she was, and if she was a version of herself, it could be close. It made sense to her.

Of course, she just came up with her nicknames. Leah. And then ones that were continuations. Leana, Lelani, Leanne, Leanore, Lenore….

The train of thought was disturbed by talk of eggs and bed. She slowly moved herself off Lavinia, for she didn’t want the woman to carry her to the bed when she could walk.
“Eggs will be fine,” just eggs? Her mind ran rampant with thoughts of delicious ways she’d had eggs back home, and then quieted.

Just eggs.

Just something warm and nearly flavorless.
“Scrambled?” Hopeful.