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VenomousEve

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #60 on: January 25, 2018, 10:54:49 pm »
Jen Tanaka bent easily enough, but she would be hard to break. “Iora, you should be more responsible than that. Get your head out of your ridiculous fantasies for a moment, would you?” She pulled away from the woman, yanking a phone out of her clutch as she marched after the Hyacinth train. Iora could follow the students like she belonged with them, but she didn’t. Jen thought it was pretty important that they didn’t. It was the only way they could be good instructors… good support for these larger-than-life orphans.

--

Fern squinted at Idella from the seat. “I don’t know, but Apollo sounded worried before I saw Jewl with the blade.” She let her head fall back against the rest. Her injury was starting to hurt more. “So… I think maybe you need to worry more about her…” Fern blinked hard and sighed. It wasn’t that she drunk or in peril, but a stab wound was a stab wound and she’d done a good job of bleeding all over herself. “Apollo sees people get drugged a lot, you know?” Surely Idella was smart enough to put together the rest, because Fern was a little too fuzzy to explain it all to him right then.

Fern nodded vigorously when Vinnia made things clear, baring Wicker’s cut. “Right. Poison from someone… Damn, Wicker, you cause trouble even when you aren’t trying, huh?” Fern muttered. “Apollo was probably worried someone got to his food or drinks.” Fern added. “Probably didn’t see that nasty thing,” she had rolled a little to peer into the back seat and furrowed her brow at the angry dark lines radiating from Wicker’s duel trophy. “Don’t know where Jewl comes in. It was Chrysanthemum’s stupid cane that got you, right?” She slid down in the seat, eyes closed.

There was a sharp rap at Idella’s window. Jen was waiting for him to roll it down. “Mister Idella.” She said. “Please tell me you’re intending to fetch these two girls actual medical assistance.” Jen held up her phone. “I’ll call in the appropriate staff to be ready and waiting for you to arrive.” It was an offer, ultimately, because she realized that instructors here were in the peculiar position of being commodities. Versailles would turn a blind eye to whatever decision the students made in this, and most other, matters. Everything was locked down here. The only stories that left were the ones they wanted to leave. Ms. Tanaka gave him a thin smile. “And I won’t say another word on it,” she assured, like it mattered. It promised, at least, that she wouldn’t be an annoyance.

--

Scarlett studied Alios’ face like she was looking for something and then sighed. “Right. Well, let them patch her up and deal with it later.” She said. “King Luna is going to want to see you, but I’m willing to vouch for the fact you’re dumb to whatever magic this was.” Scarlett said. She didn’t really see herself as a Jasmine, not usually, but there were moments. “I’ll have to arrange to see you punished severely if that isn’t the case and you didn’t give me an inside scoop.” She said. It was mostly a joke, but she didn’t look all that amused. Phellar’s visit before the ball crossed her mind.

“Although maybe Wicker would prefer that privilege, when she’s feeling better.” Scarlett added with a small smile. She wasn’t wholly unsympathetic to all the ruined fun. It would be unfortunate if he felt guilty, and she was quite certain he hadn’t been an intentional player in the evening’s bloodier drama.


Verse

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #61 on: January 26, 2018, 07:05:07 am »
Alios shrugged. It was considerate of Scarlett to be like this, but for once he wasn't too swayed by jokes like that. "Alright." he said without much flare as he looked down at fingertips that were lending comfort to one another. "Thank you. I'll go see our king when she's returned."

And he would. He'd come out of his jacket and the ornament for the collar of his shirt, the shirt itself completely undone and his feet bare. One of his sleeves were rolled up, which either meant he'd forgotten the other one in a fit of practicality, or that his pretty veins had been subjected to an ugly escape. The needle prick would be long gone by the time Luna found him sulking, sitting against the wall by the door to her chambers. The Jasmine Lily, grown out of the floor, wilting quietly.

-

Ebelt excused Gloria with a gesture of his hand and then nodded to the wall of cleaners waiting to do their job earlier than they'd expected. He suppose they were the only winners, today, since - while rambunctious - the party had not gone on for very long. "And let whoever wants the food have it, but make sure to prepare a portion of it for the shelters." There could be more winners.

"A-and the liquor too!" Hiev said, out of breath before the sentence had died. Ebelt pinched a brow at their king, and thought it was a stupid thing, ludicrous in fact, but questioning Hiev now would do more damage.

Later, in their bedroom, there would be a tired argument.

-

Phellar would not be a proper demon if he did not know his secret ways around the pretty infirmary. It wasn't far from the house of the smaller orphans. He'd ran a few favorites in here in his own arms, a few times. The old building had been outfitted with secret doors and its thick walls were pregnant with hidden corridors with access to almost any room. The infirmary had withstood all fires because it was always understandable that it should be prioritized, and so its old designs had never been compromised.

In the fray, he'd caught a glimpse of the crooked paths shining off from Wicker's wound. He knew the concoction. He had some. Potent.

The tall king stuck his head into her room, white robe on, most unflattering, and with a net over his hair and a mask on his face. The glasses helped, too. He'd even worn comfortable shoes for this outing. Breezing by any bent, sitting protector, he'd leave a mist from a small bottle in his wake, ensuring their continued slumber as he came to see Fern.

It could mean the death of her if she recognized him, he'd have no choice then, to make her a martyr for his own game between the houses, sprung from the middle of someone else's. He silently hoped her medication would be enough for her to simply lend him half her consciousness, so he could prattle on, and douse her new bandage with a flavor Wicker already knew. Then again, he didn't mind killing Fern. She had the kind of face that looked the best when stilled forever.

Ara

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #62 on: February 02, 2018, 11:58:04 am »
Grayson lingered in the Rose Garden long after all his house had gone for the night. He stayed in the company of a Rose Prince, sneaking out when the other boy was fast asleep to slip through the halls toward the king’s chambers. Royals kept close quarters here. Idella preferred to surround himself with knights over princes and princesses. Trash, the lot of them.

He pushed white hair from his face and back, unruly at this hour, and hoped to find Heiv still awake. He had considered sending the king an email, or even more classically a letter, but Grayson preferred to talk. He liked to see expressions and hear the tremble of a voice in reply. It gave away truths and lies. His slacks clung to his hips, shirt and jacket left behind and along with his shoes. If stopped, he could simply say he’d wandered off from his lover to get something from the kitchen and gotten lost. This wasn’t his garden after all.

-

Wicker woke.

His voice was in her ear, she was sure of it. He was whispering promise—terrible promises. The kind that were wet with blood on his tongue, painting his teeth, snarled out with vicious bubbles.

She blinked at the ceiling. Not her ceiling. Not any ceiling she knew well. A monitor hummed. Electric whispers all around. She kicked at her covers. Too warm.

He was still at her ear. Still whispering. She turned her head but Hayden wasn’t there in the room. Vinnia slumped in the nearest chair, hugging a coat and head lulled to the side in sleep.

Wicker looked up at the ceiling again, squinting this time. He was there. She could hear him. Oh, the horrible things he promised. He had been so angry when he fell. He had been angry before, but this was something else. This was a dragon come to life only to find itself dying. It was vengeful in its narcissism and she had met that serpent gaze.

She forced herself to sit up. Her head felt too heavy and her clothes weren’t her own. A hospital gown? Really? She pulled the needle and tape from her arm. She was too warm. It was too warm in here. Swinging her legs over the edge of the bed, she paused again.

“Are you coming? Are you going to finish it?” Hayden was laughing. She looked up at the ceiling again but cringed away from it. It was in her head, wasn’t it? Great. She really had gone mad.

She stood, pulled on her jeans and grabbed her jacket. The gown was half tucked in, hanging on her frame, and her boots left behind. She pulled at the pockets of her jacket until she’d fished free a cigarette case and shouldered her way through the door and into the hallway of the sleeping hospital.

Sleeping was right. She flipped the case shut, cigarette between her lips, and looked down the narrow hall of slumped Hyacinth guards. To their defense, they had been at a party and most had taken Hadron’s skull to their heads at some point.

She shuffled away, toward the dim hall and empty receptionist desk and far off exit. Cigarette between her lips she fumbled with her jacket, trying to find a lighter when she dropped the leather garment. She swore softly around the cigarette but before she could bend over to scoop up her jacket and try again, shoes were hurrying toward her. Wicker leaned against the desk, back to the rooms and the sleeping guards.

The young man frowned at the sight of her, his steps hurrying. “Why are you out of bed? They said you would be asleep for at least a day after they gave you the antidote for that poison…” Mein kept his voice low, big brown eyes looking her over gravely before considering the sleeping guards on duty. Even this kid new to look unimpressed with the older students slacking on the job.

Mein was one of Wicker’s best knights in training. He had been working for her for almost a year now, since he first came into the Gardens. His dark hair was a mess, suit jacket lost and collar unbuttoned.

“Poison?” Wicker asked, only a little bit interested, and gestured toward her unlit cigarette impatiently.

He jumped a little when he noticed, small hand diving into the pocket of his slacks to retrieve a gold lighter. He flipped it open, struck the flame, and held it up while she breathed in smoke. “You were poisoned at the Ball. Everyone is whispering about it. They say it was Ebelt, though the blame could be put on the Chrysanthemum blade he was wielding and not on him personally.

Wicker nodded, taking the cigarette from her lips to exhale smoke in the hospital. “And I feel like someone got stabbed…”

“Fern,” Mein nodded. “Jewl, a Rose Knight, tried to stab you and she pushed you out of the way.” A little shame colored his cheeks then, lips pressed and eyes shifting to the floor.

“Did she die?” Wicker asked casually, because she was pretty sure she knew the answer and was mostly just changing the subject before the kid started apologizing for not saving her from enemies she didn’t know she had.

“No. No, she’s resting. They say she’ll be back at the Garden in the morning. You should probably get back in bed…”

Wicker nodded, stooping to grab her jacket because her bed as at home in Hyacinth and not here. “Idella?”

“His majesty is at the Garden.”

“And did you get that thing I asked you to look after?”

Mein stood a little taller, still shorter than Wicker, and smirked with a glint of mischief in his eye. “Ebelt’s sword is in your chambers. Did you want the chrysanthemum blade as well? The Roses have that one still…”

Wicker scoffed. “Why would I want Phellar’s weapon?”

VenomousEve

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #63 on: February 05, 2018, 05:46:28 pm »
Luna arrived without Thistle, who had surely been sent away purposefully. Thistle was almost always in his king’s shadow if he had not been explicitly told to be elsewhere. The Jasmine king had, apparently, made it to and from her suites at least once. Black slacks and an oversized white dress shirt had replaced her jewel-toned gown, and she was toting a stack of papers that said she’d been to an office or three, too. “Alios.” She said. She looked him over and sighed, pushing her way into her sitting room and gesturing with a tilt of her head that he should follow.

The papers were set on an end table with a soft thud. Jasmine budgets and Cereus reports. “You look a little worse for wear. Are you worried for your friend?” She asked. She sat on the edge of a settee. “I’m sorry to ask for you like this, but it’s a necessary formality.” Luna tucked a long, dark fall of hair behind her ear. “Scarlett assures me you weren’t involved in what happened to Wicker. I had assumed as much, but I feel due diligence is necessary when champion knights are sent to their knees.” She was waiting for, at least, a mild confirmation. The king was certain there’d be little attention cast on Jasmine for the evening’s drama, but it was best to have everything squared away if things went in unexpected directions.

“So, really, I guess I’d like to ask if you saw anything I—or anyone else, for that matter—should be made aware of. You were rather close to the duel, that’s all.” She paused. “And, of course, I want to make sure you’re doing alright, yourself?” Luna glanced at his rolled sleeve, but said nothing. “I know you two are familiar, but I can’t say I’ve ever kept tabs on how close. I just wanted to check on you, if you’ll excuse that seeming patronizing.” She sounded sympathetic. 

--

Fern was asleep when Phellar made his visit. She’d been pointedly chatty until she’d been settled into her infirmary bed and the medical staff began their fussing. It had seemed acceptable, at that point, to be exhausted. She was given a generous dose of pain medication to encourage her dreams and distract from the now-throbbing ache of her knife wound, and drifted off shortly thereafter. When the Chrysanthemum king approached in his disguise, though, she did stir.

Blinking at him, she looked confused. Her brow knit in an effort both to stay awake and to identify him, but it was unlikely she was wholly successful on either front. “Who?” She began, but had nothing to follow. She shook her head a little, as if to tell him she couldn’t understand what he was saying. It certainly wasn’t processing, at least, in her morphine stupor. She had fallen asleep again entirely, by the time Phellar was administering his poison.

In the morning, she did not wake up. The rise and fall of her chest was slow and shallow, a remarkable network of angry veins spidering dark and threatening beneath her bandage. A machine began to beep, warning a steady decrease in Fern’s vital signs.

--

Scarlett woke to see Apollo already dressing to leave. He’d come by late, hoping she’d been snooping and he could get an update on the injured Hyacinth knights. Scarlett had been disappointing on that front, but was quick to agree when he suggested he was quite certain Wicker’s poison had not been ingested. “She was drunk, but my food was clean.” He’d offered. Not of the mind to waste the trip out from his Garden, Apollo had been amenable to staying for Scarlett’s company.

“You’re so boring, Apollo.” Scarlett complained from her cocoon of sheets, fiery hair splayed across a mass of pillows. He gave her a quick, brilliantly white smile. “That wasn’t a compliment.”

“From you, I think it is.” He replied. “I’m a simple man, and proud of it.” Apollo said. He had such an easy nature about him it would have been ridiculous for him to feel otherwise.

“You could still stay a while longer.” Scarlett sighed. Apollo shook his head. It wasn’t as if anyone cared whether someone woke up in the wrong Garden. Particularly after a ball. But, Apollo liked to be home early enough to make himself breakfast in his own kitchen and departed his lovers efficiently because of it. A pretty creature of habit. “Are you ashamed of me?” she put the back of her hand to her forehead, as if it were a terrible thought. He laughed.

“Nobody is ashamed of indulging beautiful things.” He said, crossing to lean over the bed and feather kisses across her closed eyes. Her lips twitched and she gave in to the small smile.

“Boring, but I wish I could keep you as a pet.” Scarlett conceded, moving to steal a taste of his lips before he withdrew.

“You’d be a cruel mistress.”

“Probably.”

She watched him go before rolling over in her bed. It was going to be a long day, so she thought she might as well enjoy her covers a while longer.

--

Apollo was courteously quiet, back in Rose halls. Most of the Garden was still entwined with their bed linens, after all. His assumption left him surprised to see Prince Grayson turn the corner, and he stopped short. “Grayson, what are you doing out this way?” he cleared his throat and waved a hand to correct himself. “Not to say you’re unwelcome. I apologize. You startled me.” He said, running a hand through his raven curls. To be fair, they’d encountered one another remarkably near the king’s chambers with all the closest residents serving on the Rose court. Either Grayson was wandering particularly far from his host or he’d found an exceptionally plush bed to share that night.


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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #64 on: February 05, 2018, 09:29:28 pm »
He smiled for her and it was a little slow. His lily looked at her from the parting shirt when she moved beyond him and into her space. In one moment he was upright, and then he was sprawled on her floor like reaching vines. A pulse took the filthy chemicals out into his body, and sewed his mind together with disproportionate emotions.

"Worried." he said and closed his eyes. "Wicker is strong. Wicker is made of little things until it's solid." when he opened his lids again his head turned from side to side, savoring the haze, or asking it to thicken. "Lily is..." started. "made of easily dispersed dreams." He was a large knight outwardly, but Alios was sensitive. That was why they didn't use him as a gladiator and only a lower tier guard.

He crawled to where she sat and wrapped his hand around her ankle to see how his fingers touched once they'd encircled her join. "I don't know anything, King." he said with a sigh and then let go of her to hoist himself up on his knees, arms on her desk and chin on his arms to look at her. His eyes were sleepy, as his poison of choice had weighted them, and then they were brilliantly clear.

"I went into the crowd when they started fighting. I'm can tell earnest pretty well, and Ebelt looked like he was doing sports while he was trying to look like he was doing bad theater." Alios shrugged and pushed her papers to the middle of the wooden surface so he could sit on the edge. "Will the houses be alright?" he asked as his head started to lull downward again. "Will you, King?" he smiled and it was a little sweet. He reached her cheek and then flicked the hair she'd placed behind her ear so it would fall and blanked his hand that touched her.

A little offer. Because the night would be long.


-

"I should like to talk to you about something political." Hiev said when the light had gone from orange toward lemon. He was wearing a ridiculous long sleeping gown with frill, as though he needed to pat the image of an overgrown boy. Ebelt was sitting by the window, admittedly no less dramatic with his shirt gone and his cut naked like his torso. He'd not changed out of the trousers he'd worn when he'd fought Wicker merrily or seen her poisoned.

"And what would you like to chat about, King?" Ebelt asked at the glass, watching the groundsmen start their day on the frosted grass. He was tired even though he'd not moved about very much after the duel. His wound was red but dark, which suggested his health and thereby his guilt.

"I think we're not going to make friends with Hyacinth soon. Jewl made sure of that. And well, Jasmine has Scarlett so they're not entirely trustworthy..." The princeling started. Ebelt touched his forehead to the window surface. It was blessedly cold.

"That leaves Phellar at Chrysanthemum, you realize." he muttered.

"In these times..." Hiev started, but Ebelt whipped his head from the glass so fast he left a pattern of three far legged stars and some of his blood in those cracks.

"Shut up you feeble cunt!" he shouted and ran over to grab Hiev by the shoulders and lift him. They were roughly the same height so it was a testament to Ebelt's anger. The black had burnt away from his irises and the silver streaks were prominent. His hue was greener than Phellar's and Luna's, like his silver had been at the bottom of the sea. The madness went away like it had been an indulgence, and there was only blood on his temple to testify about his rage. He sighed and put Hiev down. Hiev sobbed. "I know you're trying to help, that's all you ever mean to do. But right now I want to fix this without your naive patter."

Hiev wiped his face with his soft sleeve and then shook his head, glaring at Ebelt. "No. I am king. You did this. Or at least you weren't helping. Let's do what I want." he bit out. Ebelt tilted his head, genuinely surprised by Hiev's gusto. He nodded for the king to continue. "I will go to Phellar, and I'll talk to him..." Hiev started, proud for the audience, but his words were punctuated early by Ebelt's palm to his well-moisturized face.

"It'll look like we're gearing up for war, you fucking infant." Ebelt hissed and looked around before he swooped up a dark denim jacket with a collar of billowing black borg and stuck his arms into it. "I'll let you talk to Chrysanthemum because Rose stays open. Let them send someone. But be subtle or you're going to start something. If Hyacinth retaliates Phellar will just throw linen on the fire, and we don't know where Luna stands. Be smart about this and don't show favor yet." he said and marched for the door. "And then there's the trouble of what prompted Jewl to this. He's more of an idiot than you to have started this." Ebelt was belligerent and swung the door wide. "Just be careful. Please. Let me fix this for us." he said before slamming the door shut, implying Hiev should not leave through it soon.

-

Ebelt breezed by Grayson and Apollo and didn't give them much attention. It was fitting that the Rose Hand was upset, and frankly, he didn't care about them because they had nothing to do with what was happening. He found Gloria's door soon and knocked until he rolled his eyes and leaned against the door. Of course she wasn't here. He strode toward the hallway that lead to her greenhouse. The guards wouldn't bother Ebelt on his way in. She was working on Jewl, probably.

Ebelt was formidable, perhaps like the king he should have been, with a black wolf's mane around gray denim and nothing else on his torso, and a drying line of crimson romancing the side of his face. "Gloria?" He asked as he looked into the thick of the greenery, protected by the winter outside. She wouldn't be doing things in the open, but she'd outfitted this place with her favorite tools. Her home. Nobody could step to Gloria in her garden. Tongue got loose among these leaves.

Ara

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #65 on: February 17, 2018, 01:21:02 am »
Grayson grinned easily when Apollo came upon him, easy delight on his features but bitter contempt in his heart. He turned toward him, looking him over pointedly. “I made friends at the party,” he explained, secretive about his lover though the state of his hair, his lack of a shirt, and the little trail of hickies yet to fade on his long neck were testament to the reality of that lover. “I was looking for a snack… thought not to wake the staff since they’re not my own and that just seems rude,” he continued, moving closer to the other man. “but I fear I’m lost.”

Ebelt rushed past them, not even pausing to take note of who was loitering in his halls. Grayson quirked a brow and turned his gaze to Apollo once more. “Are they still upset? It’s not like someone doesn’t try to kill Wicker every day. I’m sure Hyacinth will get over a couple Roses having a go at it.” A couple, he said, because he liked this rumor of Ebelt throwing poison at the champion. Winners were winners no matter how they got to the top—thrones had taught them all that lesson.

-

The greenhouse was bright, the lights on the plants certain that it was day. It was easy to lie to plants. It wasn’t so easy to lie to Gloria. The winding stone paths lead through lush greenery and brilliant blooms, many rare, a few considered extinct in the world outside Versailles.

She had a spot in the middle she liked most, with a little sitting area for tea and her work table to the side with little pots of almost plants to the side of mortars of powder and jars of dried leaves and, of course, the sheers. She heard the door on the far end open and close, her pale hand stilling over a bloom she’d been tempted to pluck. She listened to the steps until she was sure it was Ebelt. The bloom would live another day. She turned from it to greet her king when he arrived, ducking into the slightest of curtseys still impeccably poised. “I had hoped you would get some sleep.”

Jewl was slouched in one of the metal chairs at her sometimes-teatable. There was no tea today. Blood and saliva dribbled from his mouth, wetting his slacks where it gathered on her knee. “I didn’t need to bind him. I think he wanted to show his loyalty to Rose by not struggling. He was quite remorseful for the trouble he caused.”

She’d pulled up her white hair since the party, in a messy bun atop her head, with round, silver, thin-rimmed glasses on her little nose. She’d abandoned her gown from the ball for a white dress with barely-there straps, probably not wanting to risk Jewl messing up the other. Funny, since it wasn’t like she’d ever wear it again anyway. Still, Gloria was not one for unnecessary stains.

Sometimes Gloria thought, that if she’d had a mother, the woman would have said “waste not, want not” and she would have taken it to heart. Looking at Ebelt, that same heart wondered what she’d wasted to be left so wanting in life now. She’d gone over their time together, his climb to the throne, again and again. She still didn’t know what had gone wrong.

She was white in a sea of deep greens and dark soil and gray flagstones. She was a flower in her garden, but she was the flower wielding the sheers. She sighed like her night had been long and leaned back against her work table. “It seems Jewl thought he could be the one to kill Wicker. Not for any grand scheme or story, but just for the glory of it—the rush.” She sounded pointed unimpressed. “The boy had a bit much to drink, Ebelt.”

She hesitated, watching him. “I hear Hyacinth thinks you poisoned Wicker. Vinnia is quite set on it. Do you want me to do something about it? Put attention elsewhere or maybe find someone else for them to blame?” She looked thoughtfully at Jewl then before wrinkling her nose at the idea. It would still be Rose they pointed their calloused fingers at. Her head turned up to her old friend once more, her king. “Wicker was close with Alios tonight. It would turn some eyes to Jasmine and likely confuse everyone. He probably wouldn’t be punished for it, since Luna wouldn’t be certain,” she offered carefully.