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VenomousEve

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2017, 08:19:15 pm »
Lyanna nodded. “I’ve been talking to a few ballet companies. I did a technique workshop the other day, that’s why I had to cancel practice last Thursday, and it went nicely.” She said, taking a sip of the drink he’d poured for her. “But, you know, the girls were more interested in my clothes than the demonstration, I think.” Lya laughed. Versailles privilege. Even without perfect Suit pedigree, all of the students were no less than ultra wealthy. Her practice clothes, even, were top of the line. Really, it said more for her uninspiring performance, which she knew, but didn’t wish to speak of. Unlike Hermes, she could appreciate the value of that criticism—she’d seen objectively lesser dancers that had brought tears to their audience’s eyes.

But Lyanna though herself immovable. For as much as she appreciated Hermes, it was very possible that they were the worst possible crutch for one another. She thought of Phellar in the morning light. He’d frightened her. The persistent throb in her ankle would not let her forget that much. Still, it had been something, hadn’t it? Off-handedly, she traced the edge of the satin band at her throat. “Well, I suppose we’re lucky, aren’t we?” she said at last, taking another drink. “Money can almost be a nasty thing, in art.” Lya shrugged, hand dropping to her lap. It didn’t matter how empty her dancing was, or Hermes. Their backgrounds alone were enough to keep them in demand, and their precision was unparalleled. There was undeniable talent in that. The shadow of Versailles would be sufficient to keep their weaknesses from mattering, in the long run. Only in their own House, in the hands of her king, had she ever really considered her inadequacies.

--

Luna made a small sound, glancing back at Hiev after Almi. “I hope so too,” she said, but didn’t seem convinced. “He does have Ebelt, at least.” Luna added, counterpoint to her own skepticism. She was fond of Hiev, but she, like many others, often wondered what Ebelt had been thinking when he put Hiev on the throne. Kings were meant to save others and be saved by no one. That was the truth of divine right, and it had flourished in the microcosm of their home well enough.

She smiled at the other girl, and seemed a bit relieved that Almi hadn’t been offended by her decision to spirit away. “Tell me about your current adventures? I haven’t been able to leave Versailles much.” She asked, the mood lighter as they made their way to the chocolate rose tree. Luna had liked to visit the fashion warehouses as often as possible, before taking the throne. It was either luck or exceptional planning that she’d established herself well before her rise. Her success hadn’t lagged since her coronation; these days she could design from her suites and send Thistle out with messages as she needed. Being a King at Versailles was enough to ensure success after they left the Academy, but it was nice to have more than a name and make-believe kingdom to stand on.

“You seem like you’ve been particularly busy, lately. I haven’t seen you around as often.” She said. Luna said it in a way that implied she’d gone looking for her, at some point. The king blinked, and then waved her free hand suddenly. “Which I hope means nothing but good things for your modeling success, of course. I don’t mean to be selfish with your time.” Luna laughed. “Though, I’ll warn you, I’ve got more than a few things I’d like to have you try on for me.”

The music turned to a waltzing melody, a quartet of Rose’s finest cellists taking center stage. The Jasmine King had been half-way through reaching for a twig off the tree sculpture when she stopped. “How pretty. Do you want to dance, Almi, while I’m playing the good knight?” she asked, plucking the pink-haired girl off her arm to twirl her once before returning her and pressing close to her side. “I don’t mean to brag, but I think I’m a decent lead and follow. Like I said… I haven’t gotten to get out too much, recently.”

--

“Most intentions are to win at something, around here, aren’t they?” Scarlett hummed, gaze following Grayson’s direction toward Wicker and Alios. “Even when it’s just as fine to lose,” she laughed. She couldn’t see either of those knights to upset about the other taking the upper-hand in their particular game of choice. “I think I’m jealous of the knights more than most others. If nothing else, their duels don’t feel like they need to be as delicate.” She shrugged. “But, we go where we want, so we can’t complain… right, Prince?” she said.

“Besides, predictable is just fine when you have plans.” She smiled at him, before reaching to snag a glass of champagne off a platter passing by. “You’re wonderful company, Grayson, have I mentioned?” Scarlett said brightly. “Perhaps you should be Hyacinth’s Queen, after all. I think I’d enjoy that very much.”   

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2017, 09:25:31 am »
"You are excellent at those." the workshops. Hermes thought it was the utmost compliment to be a good teacher, because only the really knowledgeable had business sharing with budding dancers. He din't quite see that his admiration for her prowess there could remind of her predicament in the discussion of form put against passion. He snickered and looked away when she said the bit about her popular clothes. Hermes thought that kind of thing was silly, since their art could be done in rags. He hadn't discovered in himself that he'd never be caught in anything less than stellar.

His head favored one side when he watched her disappear off into something discouraging. "Money puts food in artists's bellies." Almost defensive. He put some more wine in her glass before having a gulp of his own. "This morning," he started. It wasn't entirely like him to press on a matter after having broached it once. Usually he could read anything relevant from both words and their absence. "with the King." He looked at the floor as the waltz started, and thought about their promise to Phellar. She helped him remember by touching the band on her throat. "How was the..." he had to think about it for another swallow, and didn't look at her when he found the words that had been used to criticize both of them on occasion. "heart of it?"

He wanted the answer, but wasn’t sure he’d like what he’d read from her words or her silence, so he stood and buttoned his jacket. A waltz wasn’t so acrobatic. And it wasn’t like they would have left the ball without having danced, anyway. This was a good compromise between consideration for her injury, and the deal with their king. If it was in him to be playful about the form, he might have considered even lifting her for the full duration of their twirls, but at most he’d perhaps take the turns very gentle. Ballroom wasn’t their forte, but they were taught well in most disciplines.

-

"Sounds like fun." Alios admitted about the offered new living quarters. "You could be my winter home." he thought aloud and snuggled up against her, which might look absurd to anyone else, since he was almost double her height, sitting between her legs. He was silenced by the small glass and waited patiently for it to empty into his mouth. Like the expert drinker, the held the liquid on his tongue for a while as he looked around before downing it. He sighed to dispel the pleasant aroma.

"Have we fucked, Wicker?" he asked as he turned toward her and pulled the cigarette from his ear. They hadn't, of course, but he was a perfect actor in saying he hadn't remembered if they had. "It's a shame if we haven't." Another little stick came from his inside pocket. He tapped the filter of the one warmed by his hair and skull to her lower lip, if she'd have it. Either way he'd put one in his own mouth before making a flame between two fingers. There might have been a match there, before the flick. He'd share the fire with her if she took the offer, of course.

"I think it's nice when friends fuck." he mused until her face would be written in the smoke from his exhale. "But friends can also do other things together." He shrugged and looked away from her, ashing on her shoulder. The Lily of Jasmine knew when he was in demand, and didn't mind teasing until he was ravaged, or making lust unpleasant for the afflicted. "Like drink tea and archery." Silly conversation, dancing around their real subject. "Do you have hobbies?" His wrist rested on her collar, which held the ember close to her cheek. Reckless, intimate fool.

-

Ebelt reveled in Vinnia's reaction, and looked at her like a wolf at fenced in lambs when Idella saw it fit to talk sweetly to her and send her off. He made sure to give her a grin as she left. There was a dastardly apology on his face when he looked at Idella again. It was within the Hyacinth's right to send his subject off, but Ebelt didn't see this teasing as anything that could cause a rift in their diplomacy, so he'd indulge himself. It could even be a fun way to make another connection between the houses.

He was considerably less amused by what the king said next. It wasn't like he hadn't considered it. But hiev was a good enough head of this house for now, and Ebelt himself hadn't like the view from that high. At least not when he looked into a mirror. "Well, he had no choice. He does well now after having seemed a little... unfitting for the role." He looked at Idella, up and down. He didn't say it, but suggested with his eyes that perhaps Idella too, should know how that was. Wicker and Ebelt, Idella and Hiev.

”I hear the military have been meeting with your knights.” Ebelt added. The Hyacinths were known now for their tactical application. He suspected Idella himself might have a few offers to lead crew-cut heroes when his time at Versailles was over. “Anything interesting there? I don’t keep up with world armament, but I think it’s fascinating.” He was still keeping an eye on Hiev and Phellar. Hiev managed to distance himself from the Chrysanthemum thorn, and it made Ebelt a bit proud. He turned to Idella with a little smile. “If it’s all secret I won’t pry, but I should learn some gossip that’s to my own liking. War is.” Surely Phellar so close to his king had something to do with that.

-

Phellar waited for them to have their conversation for a bit after leaving the heated Hiev. The Chrysanthemum was drinking vodka from a champagne glass. A show of good faith, and to exclude those who thought it was water. Not many eyes were on him when he prattled to rose duchesses and a Hyacinth prince. He was weaving quite cleverly out of view of Idella and Ebelt, and with no malice in his steps, there was very little for any guards to detect. On his way by Grayson and Scarlett, he winked to promise them something good to whisper about.

Having passed the glass on, he’d added agility to intent, and gone back out, some secret way, behind people, and then traced the steps of the kings until he found them, hurrying suddenly to grab Fern’s waist from behind, and lifting her high before letting her collapse into his arms. If she had the presence of mind later, she might have realized she was a perfect target. Knights of mouths aren’t as alert as war kings and would-be rulers, and neither of the kings had been watching her very closely. Poor competent, self-efficient Fern. Phellar laughed and spun her once, it was sure to make his dancers look as their king was practicing their craft so merrily.

“Oh, it’s quite alright.” Phellar said when he put her down, eyes locked on Fern’s as though they were reunited lovers. He was hoping for any exquisite expression on her, whether it be tart anger or mortification. “We’re pals, aren’t we. You protected my life today.” The vodka on his teeth had neither gone to his eyes nor cheeks, but perfume is a good disguise. He had plans. He spun her a little more, to be beside him, arm still on her, and then leaving her to do what she thought was best for diplomacy – pry herself free or play along.

“Kings.” He said with an easy nod at both other men.

Ebelt returned the nod, and wanted to say something veiled and insulting, but thought it was important Idella got to speak first, with his knight again on Phellar’s side, at least physically. It was only with a planned effort that he did not rest his hand on the hilt of his accessory.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2017, 01:26:22 pm »
Almi huffed a laugh at the mention of her being busy lately. It was an understatement. Her agent said she’d become popular. But Almi had never known anything else so she didn’t entirely understand. The world outside was different though—cold and fickle, they had tried to explain. Her Instagram was a flurry of love though with a handful of rumors abounding about her romance with a guitarist whose jeans were more holes than denim. “I just finished a campaign shoot and some music video for this band. It was absurd. They had an actual tiger on set and at least a thousand balloons,” she laughed. “It was fun.”

“I think I might take a break for a bit though, you know, go a little low key for a bit while things come out? Unless you have something in the works, of course.” Almi smiled. “That wouldn’t be work at all, dressing up for you.” She surprised herself a little when she said it, something about the way it sounded made her eyes bigger.

Her air came out in another laugh when the King suggested a dance and spun her, her skirt rippling in the air beautifully. “Yes! Oh, I love dancing!” She caught her hand, squeezing it and tugging her toward the dance floor, not noticing how others watched the Rose Princess and the Jasmine King.

-

Grayson looked unimpressed. “They aim to win because they are short sighted and without real plans,” he said quietly against he lip of his glass before draining it. Wicker would no doubt make a spectal tonight. It was her purpose in life, wasn’t it? He often wondered what her face would look like if Hayden ever woke up and got the drop on her. Would she finally look afraid?

He smiled easily at Scarlett. “I do like the idea of being Queen, but I don’t think I should get my hopes up. Honestly, I’m surprised every year that Idella doesn’t demote me to Count or Duke or something.” His eyes narrowed when Almi and Luna cut by, toward the dance floor on their other side. “My, my. Maybe there’s going to be a few Queens in the Gardens by the end of the year.”

-

Wicker watched him swallow and liked the way his throat moved. She wouldn’t mind being his winter home.

Her smile grew, flashing teeth when he asked if they had had sex yet. “I think I’d remember you, Iris. No, I proposition you and you leave me wanting, well, until I find someone else here anyway.” She took the cigarette between her lips but kept talking, the stick bobbing on her lip. “It seems to be your game with me. Are you shy? I promise to be sweet, if sweet is what you like.” Wicker didn’t mind his teasing, somehow certain she’d find out what he had to offer someday.

She inhaled deep when he lit the cigarette, taking it from her lips to blow out smoke to the side. “Are we friends, Jasmine Knight?” She sounded excited then but plucked up another shot, cigarette between fingers of the same hand, and threw it back. “Or are you just trying to distract from our duel?” She picked up another and held it up for him.

“Hobbies?” His embers warmed her cheek. If it burned her, would it leave a scar? Would she give him one to match? “Right now, my only hobby is trying to get you into my bed.”

-

Idella studied Ebelt, head tipped just a little to the side. War. A crooked, almost smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. “I’ve heard nothing of it,” he lied easily and his eyes said so. Many Hyacinth alumni made a habit of finding danger in the world, a few taking over or starting mercenary companies to get at the meat of war without all that sticky loyalty. Most found it difficult to be loyal to countries after Versailles, though he’d known a few to be or find kings out there of their own.

If he went out into the world, would he still be a King? Would Wicker find a new one if he didn’t?

Idella turned when Fern was suddenly drawn back from his side. His lip curled in the flash of a snarl before he pressed down all that contempt into smooth, contempt with a flare of boredom. Kingly. His gaze flickered over her, watching to catch her reaction as well. He wouldn’t intrude if they had some sort of intimacy, or if his Knight was aiming to woo Chrysanthemum’s crown—unlikely as it seemed.

“Protected your life?” Idella repeated with a light tone and an almost smile. “I think you exaggerate. I know for a fact her king told her to let you go if the opportunity arose.” His smile grew a little more, wicked at its edges, willing to be familiar and joking—or dangerously true depending on how Phellar wanted to take it. Hyacinth wasn’t known for madness for nothing.

VenomousEve

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2017, 10:13:11 pm »
Fern hadn’t expected Phellar—she’d had some ridiculous notion that they only had to exist to one another when she was assigned to play nice. Perhaps it was that they’d never spoken all too much. The king made a point of trying to tease her, she was aware, but she was as skilled at ignoring him as he was as harassing her in various passive ways. So, she very nearly gasped when he plucked her up, but caught herself by biting down on her cheek. She handled his little display with enough grace. She might not have been a knight by physical training, but she was athletic and kept agile. If she could keep her wits about her, she could handle herself just fine.

When he set her down, she pinched at her brow and sighed. “King Chrysanthemum,” she greeted, pointedly weary without toeing toward insult. Fern was careful not to pull herself away, though, given the general expectation that kings were meant to be indulged. Phellar, of them all, seemed to have such an expectation for his estate. She wasn’t in the mood to stir anything up unnecessarily, particularly with Idella near. Her posture, however, made it evident she wasn’t wholly thrilled with her position.

“Of course, King. It has been a pleasure to represent Hyacinth at your estate.” She said. Witheringly polite, but there was a touch of humor to it. As if, at least, a small amount of her distaste was a charade for their amusement. There was truth in all that, somewhere. And she laughed when Idella gave her sharper edges. “An honor to serve.” She hummed, and flashed Idella a quick smile before glancing up at Phellar. “We Hyacinth knights take pride in our endeavors.” Saving him, or leaving him to whatever trouble, was wholly up for Phellar to interpret as he liked.

--

Scarlett’s gaze flitted from Almi and Luna to follow Phellar, and then back to Prince Grayson. “Wouldn’t that make this quite the year? I want to call it a power move, you know, if Jasmine acquires a Rose queen.” She smiled. “But that’s frustratingly difficult with Princess Almi. I feel like she could sully my conscience.” Scarlett inclined her head. In a sense, Luna was her king, too. In the past, the Jasmine king had often named a Cereus queen, to keep their little puppet court happy. Positions were always calculated on some level. But really, it’d be hard to find anyone anywhere willing to complain about Almi being made a queen. It’d be hard to insinuate it was for anything less than pure reasons, too.

“She used to be one of Hyacinth’s, no? Under your old king?” Scarlett said, loosely gesturing toward the pink-haired girl. “Now, there’s a tight-lipped story. I was just a little chick in Cereus then, but I have to say that the rumors were fascinating. Haven’t heard a thing about the Princess since.” And then Phellar was scooping Hyacinth’s Fern up into the air like some sort of dancing doll.

“Your poor little knight.” She laughed. “Hyacinth is bound to make a ruckus, whether you mean to or not,” she clucked and patted Grayson’s hand. “Well, it’s fun to know princes, so I’m glad you’ve not been demoted.” She said, though her expression was understandably curious. “Or, at the very least, if you are demoted, I hope I know about it well in advance and that it’s with much commotion. It’s no fun when the reasons are mundane.”

She tipped her chin in Wisteria’s direction when she saw the boy sidle by, headed for the drink table. “There’s another that had Hyacinth roots, if I’m not mistaken.” She was rarely mistaken. “Never pledged to your estate, of course, but he got on well with King Idella before they picked their Gardens. And he used to come around with Fern, too.” She sighed. “Do you remember Sable?” she asked. Tall, dark-haired prince of Hyacinth under Hayden. He’d been about old enough to graduate when he’d died, well before Hayden had fallen. There were still some knights in the house that had his tattoos. Wisteria was covered in them. “Wist has been around Cereus asking about him, lately. Funny, you know? He’d quieted down when he settled into Rose.” Scarlett said. It wasn’t funny at all, really. Recent information suggested quite the opposite.

--

Luna spun Almi around the floor, their skirts floating as they swayed through the waltz. “A real tiger, that’s incredible!” Luna said, intrigued by the thought. She reached up with one hand, still guiding Almi through the dance with the other on her spine, and brushed the girl’s warm cheek. “A perfect accessory, I’m certain,” she laughed. “Dress up at Jasmine isn’t so exotic, to be fair,” the king apologized, tossing a fall of dark hair out of her face before spinning Almi into a low dip. “But, if it makes up for anything, everything I have waiting for you to try is tailored for you.” She said with a sheepish sort of smile. She set Almi upright on her feet again, pausing a moment before she swept her along for another trip around the dance floor.

“I’d like to see one of your shoots someday. I think it’d be inspiring. I mean, that’s not to say your prints aren’t, but I’d love to see you in motion.” Luna hummed. She blinked, and a trace of color darted across her cheeks. “But, I suppose, you must have an army of fans with the same wish.”

--

Lyanna looked tense when Hermes mentioned her morning encounter with the king, again. Her expression was likely to give most of it away. There had been more heart, as he put it, than she had been prepared for, if nothing else. “I don’t know if I can say it was a pleasant experience.” Lya said at last, because she wasn’t sure what else to say. She didn’t want to imply that Phellar had been, in any way, superior to her dear friend and partner. And it wasn’t a lie. To call her dance with the king pleasant would be a gross disregard of her own personal safety, really. But it had been thrilling, too.

“Ah, this is as good as anything, isn’t it?” she sighed, when the waltz began and Hermes took the lead. She gave him a taut smile before taking his hand and letting him lead her to the floor. He’d feel that she was putting a bit more weight on him than she’d normally, but there wasn’t much else to be expected. “Perhaps everyone will be watching those two, at least,” She suggested, catching sight of the Jasmine king and her rose-hair princess on the floor. It wasn’t that Lya didn’t want to dance. She always wanted to dance. Rather, it was that she still had an amount of pride to nurse and she wasn’t thrilled about hobbling to music.

“I’m in your care.” She said with a short laugh.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2017, 03:59:16 pm »
Alios blinked and hummed dumbly when she confirmed about the local celibacy in their connection. Perhaps he believed his own surprise, too, since he was so good at picking and committing to any given mood he thought was appropriate. “So shy.” He agreed, wiggling on the seat to press her legs further apart. He tasted the smoke that brought her next question. “Oh, we’re buddy-buds, Wicktoria.”

He inhaled deeply, an applied image of sullen. “That’s all I am to you?” he asked. “A warm, heavy body, and an extra heartbeat, firmly planted up your insides?” he shook his head and drew the ember over her cheek as his free hand pressed against her belly, rather high, because he’d measured himself many times. It was fast enough not to leave a mark. “That’s okay with me.” He said as he flicked some ash in the small space that was allowed, the black dust hitting her cheek. He huffed through his nose at his own clumsiness and stretched his tongue past his lower teeth. “Am thowwy.” He said before dragging it over the side of her face.

“I’m clumsy.” He explained before swallowing the bitter particles and dragging another large amount from the filter. “Hey, you’re pretty good at fighting, right?” Just like I am at being friendly. “Do you get any satisfaction from that?” he seemed honestly curious, knight of another prowess. Luna had seen it fit to promote him, he’d been charming enough, but he wasn’t very likely to defend a throne if knights from Hyacinth came.

-

It was satisfying for Phellar to see Idella react like the lion he was when he stole the white cub from his side, a few paces. What use is it to dance around a beast if you don’t get to sample its nature. When Phellar hunted large game, the guides were always wary. When he set her down, almost on himself, he listened to the others elegantly berate him. He did not let go of the tense Fern. Phellar laughed loudly, which would make anyone not already engaged, turn their heads. He dismissed them with a gesture with his cane, drawn from his back. “Listen to you too. You’re practically married. Am I the creepy  neighbor that you naturally rally against?”

He looked Idella over. “Oh, sire. You’re cruel, aren’t you? But I like your business plan. Protection for the look of it, but no cost of casualties or maintenance if they don’t actually protect.” Phellar tasted the concept and turned his eyes slightly to the side, rolling that eventually around in his head.

There was no real world truth to be gathered from where Ebelt and Idella stood, but his hand on Fern’s back slid in toward her spine, petting the extravagant top. “But, as you say, Fern. You’re just happy to serve aren’t you?” he said at last, looking down at her as the hand followed the ridge of her spine through the fabric. “And you wouldn’t want me to die. I am a king, but more importantly, I am your friend.” A friend that found the end of her jumper, and slid those kingly fingers underneath, to simply measure the rows of vertebrae with his naked touch. He turned to Idella and winked. “Otherwise that’d be war, sire.” He said, appalled, and strangely kissing the Chrysanthemum on his cane as he put pressure between disks on the talking knight’s back, intimate. “And we don’t want war, do we, Fern?” But you can have it, if you tell.

Ebelt frowned to one side, his impulse to grab his weapon soothed. Now he just wore the bored face that was the only appropriate insult in this gathering. It seemed Phellar was only being his usual provocative self, a remnant of the things that were common under Hayden’s rule.

-

Hermes was having a good time. Usually they were very well practiced, falling back on reflexes and their trained-in connection, but today he had to find a bit of finesse with their dance. He enjoyed it without knowing. It was a matter of lifting, only, perhaps less explosive than their usual fare but also more enduring. He could not have been known for such perfect lines if he was not strong to match. On the surface of it, their dance looked more loving than usual. And there was more joy in there too, since Hermes had to take care to put himself in the moment with her, and not just simply do his own part.

He afforded her her parts when they were on the foot that still had strength, and played the overly affectionate lover when it should be her turn to touch the floor using her ailed ankle. He was wearing his usual professional face, and to others who knew them it would seem as though the pair had finally found something new. Perhaps it was good to throw in a new constant, to make the professionals think in other ways. They brushed by Luna and Almi eventually, and he offered a nod to them both, which was done at the end of a circle, where their eyes met. He knew how to control it, to make it so, and together with Lyanna, it was an easy happenstance to manufacture. “They’re not bad.” He said and then smiled at Lya. But they’re not us.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2017, 01:37:17 pm »
Idella tipped his head to the side, the tall boy often standing a little tipped as though to hide or perhaps just to observe everyone else. Fern was diplomatic as always, Ebelt endlessly quiet, and Phellar so ready to take advantage of all his title could get him. The word “serve” sounded different in his mouth than it did theirs. It sounded like it had in Hayden’s. It sounded dirty, like something he could use and make others ashamed of.

And then he spoke the word war like it should send chills through them all—maybe it did through others. Idella grinned then, flashing teeth, and took a step forward, and then another, pushing right in to the other king.

Breaths were sucked down into throats so hard that several coughed around them, eyes bulging, and conversations forgotten without thought. Kings making contact often had that effect on subjects.

His hand started at Phellar’s waist, fingers testing the fabric of that transparent shirt, gliding upward and pushing him a step back. It was all smooth, almost affectionate, smile playing at his lips and hips swaying, but his fingers came all the way up and between their suddenly tight bodies, his thumb stroked across Phellar’s throat—there and then gone just as he leaned in. “War is not something knights shy away from and your body does not scare me the way it might another king,” he whispered like a lover without love, legs to Phellar’s pushing another step back, like a dance now, and if he didn’t do something about it—Idella would lift him not unlike how he had lifted Fern, toss him into the air and bring him down against his body again.

-

Grayson had grinned at Scarlett’s disappointment in the match of Luna and Almi. He agreed, of course, they were both too agreeable. He sipped his drink and considered her. “I can see why a Cereus would be displeased though, even if the Queen taking her place were little Almi.” He almost sneered the name, but caught himself. Contempt for Almi had ended more likeable figures than himself and the twit didn’t even know it.

Almi was a destroyer of nobles, of Kings even, and didn’t even know it. Wars had been fought for her and no one had dared to cry her name, not even when Wicker brought a King to his knees in the Hyacinth garden. Grayson had heard those rumors, had been there to watch the chain of events with his own shrewd eye. He had his suspicions about the origin of Hyacinth Madness, but he doubted that even Hayden himself had ever known where it came from. Only a rare few saw the spark, though everyone in the house had fought the flames of that war.

“I don’t remember seeing her,” he lied. “But I did hear she was with Hyacinth before Rose. She must have slipped out before the madness.” He flashed her a smile. “Madness requires stomach and character unfit for most, I suppose.” His gaze turned too to the meeting kings. Eyes narrowed on Fern when she was lifted, getting a bit too much attention for a knight today. Phellar moved about with a constant threat in the corner of his smile that made Grayson stare a second too long.

The only reason his attention snapped away from the Chrysanthemum king across the floor was because of the name that slipped from her lips next. Sable. Of course, he knew it. He was a Hyacinth prince himself. It wasn’t odd of him to react was it? Maybe it was. He was about to respond, maybe with something flippant and vague, when Idella moved into Phellar’s personal space and all heads nearby whipped toward the scene. He sucked a breathe so hard he almost choked, eyes flaring just a little as if they weren’t large enough to take it all in to begin with.

For a moment he forgot all his complaints about Hyacinth’s king. Bless the Madness bastards for their drama inducing boldness. His pulse picked up, afraid to blink in hopes of seeing Phellar kill his own king today. Somewhere, in the back of his thoughts, behind that rush, a small part of him registered that there was something wrong with him. That this wasn’t normal. But then again, nothing was normal in Versailles.

-

Almi smiled easily in her arms, spinning about the floor in a small ocean of beautiful youths. “I’d rather play dress up in Jasmine than do any photoshoot,” she said, smiling softer when the other girl touched her cheek. She felt warmer, cheeks a little flushed, thoughts rushing but struggling to come up with just the right thing to say. Was her heart racing?

Her thumb brushed the strap of Luna’s gown without thinking on it, big eyes forever locked onto the King’s expressions—searching for something she wasn’t even sure about herself. “Fans aren’t friends. Though I suspect if I brought you to a shoot it would distract the photographer and probably send the designer into a tizzy. Maybe we’ll dress you up. Pretend you’re my agent or something? I bet you’d look so cute in glasses!”

-

Wicker put her hand to his chest to feel the heart beat he spoke of, staring back at him. “A warm, heavy body, and an extra heartbeat is one of my favorite things. Don’t make it sound so cheap.” He flicked ash and some of it caught in those thick lashes she’d let a pretty boy put on her this afternoon. He licked her and she let her eyes flutter shut. “I won’t treat you like you were cheap in the morning,” she promised in a whisper before her eyes fluttered open and he asked about fighting.

She lifted one leg, put the heel of her boot to the edge of the chair, lifted her hips and rolled herself around him, straddling his waist and sitting in his lap—finally giving herself the height advantage to look down at his pretty face. “Fighting is as good as fucking. I only know which one is my favorite when I’m doing it—the one I’m doing is always my favorite.” She confessed, a little truth from a girl without fears. She reached back and picked up the last shot, tossed it past her lips but didn’t swallow.

Her fingers wrapped around the back of his neck and her mouth sealed to his, arching his neck to feed him the shot—chased by her tongue.

VenomousEve

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #36 on: December 23, 2017, 04:18:26 am »
Lyanna gave him a small smile, peering up through her lashes with the slightest indication of being flattered. It wasn’t wrong, what he said, but it was still something to be implied greater than kings. She wondered if he was also pressing Phellar into that space. Objectively, Hermes was better. Lya followed his turns with an admirable delicateness, ginger with her ankle without seeming inhibited. Like they’d planned it—a frail swan and a handsome prince. “Well, is the king watching? I don’t know if I have too many dances in me, tonight.” Lyanna admitted. It broke the mood, somewhat. They were performers, but it was never overly desirable to be made to perform. The pretty blonde looked apologetic then. “Which is not to say I’m not enjoying it. I just don’t want to risk a slower recovery.” She assured him.

When the song ended, it didn’t sound quite right. The musicians had stopped three notes too soon, the waltz dying to the charged intimacy of kings rather than their conductor’s baton. It was only by Hermes’ diligently predictable recovery that she did not stumble when they came to a quick stop.

--

“That’s true, but I hope some are your friends.” Luna admitted, a soft curl to her lips. It was a bit sad, like a flower snipped from its garden, to think of Almi out in the world with only shallow smiles to face. The king didn’t doubt the model’s ability to stand firmly on her own, but she did think Almi was the sort who shined brightest in good company. Genuinely sweet sorts tended to be that way. Loneliness would be a distinct waste of Almi’s loveliness. She laughed then. “I’d be a terrible agent. I don’t know the first thing about the business side of your work. But, it’d be fun to try and fake it.”

The king reached to tap her own cheekbone with a dainty finger. “I do wear them, you know. Glasses. Only at home, in private, though. You can ask Thistle.” She tipped her head forward to press her forehead to Almi’s for a brief moment. “I’m not sure if cute is how I’d describe that particular look, but I’d be willing to let you judge for yourself.” She mused, standing up straight to twirl Almi again. Her fellow kings cut the dance short, though, as all eyes followed Idella and Phellar in the abrupt quiet. She hadn’t noticed it, but she’d drawn Almi a little nearer, one hand settled politely around the girl’s waist as they also turned to look. If Luna had not become a king, she would have made a very pretty knight in the storybook sense.

--

Fern bristled under Phellar’s touch. She wasn’t the aggressive sort. She didn’t get her pleasure from chasing adrenaline the way Wicker seemed to. But, she was still a knight. The mere suggestion of war was enough to light a charge. It wasn’t exactly excitement—she’d dedicated most of her service to Hyacinth toward improving relations with the other Gardens and preserving peace under Idella. But, there was something undeniably compelling in such a prospective challenge. Her expression remained neutral when Phellar left her, though the pressure he’d treated her spine with would surely leave a mark by morning.

If she’d been considering any other reaction, there was no time to give it. Her king was in the space she’d occupied the moment she left it, closer to Chrysanthemum’s unpredictable king than any good knight should have been comfortable with. She tensed, and held her place within arm’s length of the other two. Of course, Idella could handle himself, but he shouldn’t theoretically have to. For a moment, she did consider that her king was a much more adept knight for this particular proximity than she was.

She felt all eyes in the room sweep toward the two kings. They would not hear what Idella whispered, but Phellar would and so did she. Ebelt might have caught it too. It might not have set a rush in his veins the way it did her. Fern took a step back and straightened her suit. She stood a little taller, aquamarine gaze bright. It was probably posturing, but she’d not be caught off balance while Gardens whispered of war.

--

Scarlett arched a manicured brow, but didn’t press when Grayson treated Versaille’s favorite princess with a little less adoration than most. She wasn’t wholly surprised. Even sweetness could wear thin for some. She hid a small laugh behind the back of her hand. The prince might have felt a bit stronger about Almi than she, but she could sympathize at least. “Ah. Well, she seems happy where she’s at.” Scarlett hummed, and it did seem the rose princess was rather caught up with her Jasmine king.

She smiled slightly when the prince looked back at her. Sable had hit a nerve, or something close to it. Grayson rarely took any bait. In fact, he rarely seemed to notice it when she set it out. That was part of why she liked him. She made a small noise in the back of her throat, one finger brought to her lips. “Don’t tease me with expressions like that, Handsome. You’ll make me feel bad.” Scarlett said. “I didn’t mean any disrespect.” It wasn’t a lie, but it would be poor form to even pretend like she didn’t want to hear more. The sudden drop in music put her current curiosity on hold.

Scarlett didn’t try to conceal her delight when Idella and Phellar took center stage. “Oh, perfect. A front page story so early in the evening!” Scarlett chirped. “And you were making King Idella out like he was such a sweetheart,” she tutted and patted Grayson on the arm in mock chastisement. “My prince, you’ve been holding out on me after all.” She sighed. She wanted to ask more about Sable, but she wasn’t about to deny herself the current entertainment either.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2017, 11:31:13 am »
And there was the same truth that had come from the short-lived snarl then, on Idella’s face. Phellar didn’t know what would come of it, or how far in time it would stretch, since it didn’t take up much real estate on Ideall’s face. Speaking of war seemed a good topic for the knight-king. Phellar wanted to sing it a few more times, like radio’s repeat music. But Idella already danced, prompted by the intonation and insinuation.

He could let his hands roam, Phellar had come here for skinship anyway. Earlier is better than eventually. He twitched as he was forced back, the large gesture with his cane hand hiding what the other did, which was pinch Fern expertly. She would have a wyvern with her spine for tail and bruises for wings when she checked. Marks were Phellar’s passion.

“Why, Hyacinth! I will have you know…” Phellar started, dramatically fazed by this forward contact. He listened with the soft grip on his throat, and let his mouth widen in awe. It was perfectly acted, of course, but a hard sell without the accompanying blush. Phellar had seen and hunted for this expression enough times to know its physical configuration. He gasped but included a bit of a willing smile when Idella’s legs took them back another step. “W-what does my body make you feel then?” if it doesn’t scare you?

Phellar had already charged his legs, bent slightly but visibly through the well fitted trousers, to help Idella send in him into the air for good height. When he landed his did so very well, trusting the warring king fully. There’d be a change of script between then, though. Hugged between their chests was Phellas cane, the sharper end lifting Idella’s chin as he put Phellar down. Phellar stayed close enough that they’d both still feel the metal against their hearts.

“Ah, would you look at that. You got me all stiff.” He said, and if Idella had not backed off yet, some pressure would leave Phellar the room to do so. Any forward attempt from Idella would promptly earn him a rap on that stately chin. If people doubted Chrysanthemum’s head against the knight with a crown when it came to fisticuffs, they should at least allow him the benefit of a doubt with the aid of such an aerodynamic melee accessory. The knight might also suspect, the way the cane was held and its allowing design, that it might have some hidden edge to it, like a suspiciously perfect, new lover with particularly sharp hairpins.

“So much excitement today.” Phellar commented and brought the cane back to support himself, crumbling half way to the floor before lifting himself on the silver weapon. “Always such a show at the Rose house.” It got the applause he wanted, and with it a bid for less tension. An out for them both.

In the ruckus Ebelt moved tightly to Idella’s side. It wasn’t to give any comfort to the King, other than for him to feel Ebelt’s rapier press again his leg, if Hyacinth should like to retaliate, and if that then should be deadly. Not politically fine, maybe, but Ebelt liked Idella to have the option.

-

Alios moved accordingly to help her circle him on their chair. His hands were immediately on her hip as he looked her over. She was right. Physicality was never cheap. It was enhanced by thinking of it as such, though. He liked the true tidbit, liked what it said about her, so he listened closely, looking up at her with fingers sliding in under her top to feel her skin. He swallowed around her tongue that tasted of the perfumed fare Rose was treating them too. Not a drop spilled.

He answered with his own tongue and continued to try her body underneath the cotton and the leather jacket. With some urgency he brought her closer, aggressive, like they’d do either of her favorite things right then.

-

Hermes took a few more circles with her before answering. He was doing some improvisation now, and it took more of his concentration, especially with such a strict inward schedule of all the things he needed to think about for form. Like everyone else he did look at the trifling kings when their joust became more picturesque. His pulse quickened noticeably when Phellar flew in the air and then more so when the cane touched Idella's chin. It seemed appropriate to stop while everyone else did. He held her to him in such a way that might relieve her ankle.

"Ah, it seems our king have other things to think about." he said, and wondered about his spiraling dark hope that the red-crowned king would take great offense, pull out a firearm and shoot the Chrysanthemum ruler. This display, though, seemed designed to defuse war, despite it's initially threatening show. It was hard to read the subtleties in the atmosphere between the two bucking rams at this distance, though.

Hermes was quiet in a denser way, and held Lyanna's hand tighter than needed. He'd not like what he'd seen in Phellar as he'd been thrown. Some freedom in abandon, and perhaps that spark of emotion the two of them had always been told they were lacking. How upsetting.

"Horrible form, wouldn't you say?" he didn't often bad-mouth, and it hadn't even been that atrocious, the move had been simple enough.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2018, 05:08:56 pm »
Idella grinned and meant every bit of that curved lip, hands still on Phellar’s ribs with that cane between their chests, hard with all the threats they promised in gazes and gestures. What did Phellar make him feel, if not fright? He made him feel like a wolf that caught the scent of a king stag, dangerous in its fight to live, but meat all the same.

He saw the moment enjoyment turned dangerous in the other King’s gaze, his own lips baring teeth in a grin when he released those ribs just before the other man would need force to break free. They were kings after all. They couldn’t put each other on their knees without war and death—at least, that was how Idella had last seen a king go down.

Hyacinth knights had slipped closer in those minutes, subtle but present in the crowd. Some smiled while their king did, some pretended not to pay attention to the scene at all, and other glared outright with narrowed eyes.

He watched Phellar’s showmanship. The man was worthy of his audience, if not his crown. Idella turned his head to the side toward Ebelt, so close. He glanced down at the handle of the other man’s sword. It would have been a lie to say it wasn’t tempting. He might have given his heart to his crown, but his knuckles didn’t always remember that. “And what would I do with a second throne?” he whispered, looking at the former king, intent to smirk until his gaze slid past the man’s shoulder. Wicker’s blue hair made her easy to spot, though a part of him worried he would see her first in any crowd, no matter the colors or clothing.

She was straddling a man in a chair, the two devouring each other. From the back, he looked to be that pretty knight from Jasmine—the one she was always mooning over. It was a show for the most part, not that she didn’t mean all of it.

Idella did smirk then, but something in his pale eyes would have been unreadable to Ebelt. The whole room sucked in cries of delight and terror when the Hyacinth King pulled that sword from the Rose’s hip, metal gleaming. He didn’t keep it long enough to let the threat become a duel, turning with his back to Phellar and throwing the weapon hard. It sailed across the room, missing bodies and landing hard into the back of that chair. Wicker’s head snapped up, lips swollen and pupils dilated. Her gaze honed on the weapon and then followed it across the room.

Idella had continued the turn of his body to put his back to her, turning around as though surprised just like everyone else and then raising a brow at Ebelt—it was his sword after all.

-

Almi had forgotten to breathe when Luna touched her forehead to hers, mesmerized by the way her mouth moved and the idea of her glasses. Only in private though. But Almi was invited to see for herself. She was grateful to be twirled then, the slight breeze hopefully cooling the blush on her cheeks. And then all her almost-ideas and almost-flirtations were lost to the clash of kings. She was happy to be pressed against Luna’s side, but her brow pinched at the developing scene.

“They can’t be serious…” she muttered softly. “They’re barely in the door.” She gasped when Idella pulled the weapon from Ebelt’s hilt, grabbing onto Luna’s arm. Her mind raced and she was ready to march forward and demand they knock it off. Parties weren’t supposed to become a bloody mess until after midnight. It wasn’t a rule, exactly, but it was custom. And then he threw the sword and she was jumping back, into Luna’s side, and looking on as the blade sailed—landing in Wicker’s chair.

-

It wasn’t easy to tear himself from the role of audience in the scene, but Grayson managed to slip away from Scarlett while she was distracted. Sable. He hadn’t meant to react. He was usually better, but no one mentioned that name anymore. It wasn’t fair, to have to carry that crime like it mattered still. Hayden was gone. What was done for a king, ended with the king.

He sighed, when he was away from her because a part of him still wished that King was his—still thought about ways to make his garden the lush eden it once was. Things had been different. Scarlett wouldn’t understand. It had been life or death and everything had been for Hayden’s love.

VenomousEve

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2018, 05:35:39 am »
Luna was steady while Almi’s worries were racing. She was watching the other kings carefully, searching for Hiev’s position in the room too. For the moment, she was respectfully cautious. Still, Luna was fairly certain it was just show. For now. Her head inclined slightly. “They might be serious. But you’re right. They’re barely in the door.” The king murmured. She offered the pink-haired princess a quick smile. Reassurance, probably. Luna was probably the quietest of the kings. She wasn’t as sweet and kept as Hiev, and she wasn’t Phellar’s sort of swaggering or Idella’s knightly bravado. Luna simply ran a tight ship. She kept Cereus in check when she wanted to, and used Jasmine’s talents to endear her court to the other Gardens. In an odd way, it had almost seemed like the young king treated her throne like maintenance. Regardless, she was decent at watching and listening, and largely to keep herself and her pleasure Garden above the fray.

“Ah, well, there is that.” Luna hummed when Ebelt’s blade came sliding into the back of Wicker’s chair. Idella was a good king, she thought. He knew how to use his knights well. And then she did have to stifle a short laugh, because Alios was one of her own. Luna wasn’t sure if letting her knights dally that way could have counted for using her knights well, but she didn’t feel it was out of character. Always desirable Jasmine, after all. “That duel everyone was whispering about is probably a big joke, but perhaps now we’ll see Wicker duel a king rather than a once-king. I’m not certain that’s better.” Luna said. She didn’t sound particularly pleased nor bothered by the notion, but she placed a hand over Almi’s, where it was perched on her arm. “We play ridiculous games here, at Versailles, don’t we?” She drew back two steps, tugging Almi with her. Precautionary. “Would you like to go back to the Rose King? I am obligated to keep an eye on this one.” Luna suggested, apologetic. Somehow, it seemed odd to assume Hiev would feel bound to the same observance.

She had been searching the room as she spoke, and her gaze had found Scarlett’s without too much trouble. The king tipped her chin up in a slight gesture, and the red-head returned a subtle nod. Scarlett could have guessed as much. She’d been looking Luna’s way when the king had searched her out with that bright silver stare of hers. Grayson had slipped off rather quickly, which Scarlett made a mental note of, but she supposed it was for the best now. She was going to need to find Fern shortly. That girl was about as close to the conversations on the steps as one could hope to be. It made Scarlett frown a little. Fern was not her favorite person to speak to. The Hyacinth knight rarely seemed to be in the mood to play.

--

Fern’s hands had slipped to her pockets the moment she was free of Phellar’s grasp and out of his focus. She stood with her shoulders back and rocked onto one hip, holding the casual air of a bodyguard that might like to be noticed without much ado. But, she did not expect that anyone would notice. She was just one of the many knights quietly drawn on their king’s bow string. Fern was also unsurprised when Ebelt’s sword clattered across the floor toward Wicker. It did not mean her fingers pressed any less intently against the thin silver pins lying cold between her knuckles. 

A small part of her was relieved. Wicker was much better suited to this sort of thing—the developing soreness along her spine agreed to as much.

--

Lya didn’t mean to gasp, but she couldn’t stop it. It wasn’t often that one saw their king fly, even if it did feel all too orchestrated. She leaned in to Hermes. “Our king…” she began, but didn’t know where she meant to take it. It was natural that she should be concerned for her king, she thought, but somehow that seemed like an expression Hermes would disagree to.

“I think he probably fights the way he dances.” Lyanna said at last, a low murmur that was as much to herself as her partner. When Phellar's antics turned toward theatrical, Lyanna felt some weight lifted from the room. It did not quite lift for her. Still, she let out the breath she's not realized she was still holding. "Hermes, we should get off the dance floor, perhaps," She suggested, eyeing Wicker. Certainly, the Chrysanthemum King had left a window to throw the tension out of, but at least some of that decision had been passed to the king-slayer knight.

Verse

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2018, 11:19:48 am »
Phellar, who’d lowered his cane, lifted his chest further to invite Ebelt’s sword when Idella took it out. There had never been real threat in the Chrysanthemum’s world, only opportunity to become myth. He’d be willing to venture on that or a swift circle with his silver cane to deflect Idella’s first leap with the long blade. But that never came, and Phellar noticed that lack of intent in the red king’s eyes. How curious instead, when the knight ruler flung the bedazzled weapon, and stuck it perfectly to the wood of a chair.

“Ah, thank you. I believe that’s my exit.” Phellar said quickly and it had Ebelt’s attention. Phellar quickly held up the cane, the Chrysanthemum head glittering in the generous lighting of the rose house before the theatrical king turned it, and the petals parted to give birth to a leather wrapped handle while the tip of the cane grew the point and edges of a sword. How daunting to have had it at Idella’s chin. “It’s seems you’re up to bat, King maker.” He said and threw the now revealed weapon to Ebelt.

Ebelt caught it expertly and had a second to consider it’s weight before looking at Idella and then Wicker, realizing his new position.

-

Alios was well on his way to free Wicker of her jacket, and perhaps more. He did not mind other people looking. He was good with any heated moment, and the two of them had been courting this fire for a while. It was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as a lure, and lent itself well to abandon now. When the chair shook, his hand was already on her breast, trying it out underneath her layers. They looked at each other inside the distance of intimacy they’d created, and then he also turned and craned his long neck over to see the sword still swaying. An expert throw, since it hadn’t gone through to the other side. Alios grinned and took his hand back to bend the wrist over his forehead as though the tip had indeed stabbed him.

“Ah, Wicktoria.” He started, dropping his head back to look at the ceiling with hollow eyes. “The Rose Right Hand. It has thwarted me. He is jealous. He must be.” The audience were eating it up. So much drama. “Avenge me, if you ever loved me.” He said and there was delighted buzz. His other hand reached to touch her cheek gently, as though to remember her face for the hereafter. “I would have given my first time to you.” Laughter, because everyone knew Alios’s prowess.

The Lily wilted by blooming, hands falling out, long arms making a cross of him as he hiccupped once before closing his eyes.

-

Ebelt looked at the metal flower turned rapier and then at the king that had set this into motion. To be honest, Ebelt was delighted to steal the spotlight from Phellar. “You betray me, king.” He said with a grin to Idella before lifting the blade to hold the shadow of the blossoming hand-guard by his cheek, one eye eclipsed by the blade as he looked with haughty vengeance at Wicker, who’s lover had died.

“It is I!” he started and the audience gasped. “Your… co-host.” He continued, audible uncertain at what his line should have been. Laughter from the crowd, with the merry that comes with theater.

-

Phellar slid from the gathering but made sure to wink at Fern when Idella was turned toward his best knight. She was definitely a later haunt. How pretty her subtlety was. He wondered what other expressions she had. He made it a rule to see his marks once they’d set.

He ignored Hiev who was standing in a corner and beckoning quietly for his attention among all these shenanigans. The little king had not ripened enough yet. Phellar trotted on, leaving the center stage inside the lack of music, air abandoned to the chattering of excited watchers. He found something red in a familiar choker soon. Lyanna was being led by her partner off the floor. She was looking at Phellar, but Hermes was occupied with finding their way out.

The two men collided firmly but without retreat. Hermes was furious but composed, as he’d just been saying something to Lya about a break. “You go rest then. Lenore here is young and clumsy. She needs her practice.” He said and stole her waist away from the other dancer. He’d not really forgotten her name. For kindness, or practicality of transport, he held her to his taller self, never letting her hurt foot touch the floor as he spun and dodged them back to the very epicenter of the dancing grounds.

“You’ll never shake me from your heart.” He whispered sadistically into her ear. Phellar was a trauma straight to love, and he knew this design well, since he’d crafted it meticulously. “And I probably won’t be thinking of your robot passions when I’m done here.” Sweet  voice, though, as all insults should be served. He turned his head up, at the orchestra, who was also stunned by the coming duel between the Rose Hand and the Hyacinth Warrior. “Yo, maestro!” he called, powerful. And then he threw his dancer straight into the air, like a father does a child. She was rose then, in her dress, ascending. “Give us some fight music!”

The instruments were brought to life with ominous energy to make the scene for the fencers and the other pairs moved slightly too. Phellar was already putting Lyanna in unneeded dangers, spinning and collecting her in such ways that hinted at a hard impact soon. If he’d been a decent ballerino this morning, with a talent for passion, then this improvised dance of many disciplines was his destined battlefield, since he knew enough about enough styles to bewilder anyone. Turns that might snap her neck, or her back when he folded her backwards over his arm. Their faces close to colliding sometimes. Vulgarities from modern showmanship, and intimacy from the seedier clubs. Elegance from his pedigree. And there was Hermes, to catch her glance every time the pace allowed. In the beginning it looked as though he might intervene, but there was something broken in his eyes when he saw her moved by Phellar's turbulence, or perhaps her reactions to it.

When Hiev saw it, he continued to miss Luna’s gaze, and retreated with a heavy heart and a strange unfulfilled hunger in his center, toward the private chambers. Ebelt had come closer to Wicker, deliberately slow to let her make her decision. But eventually he’d be with her, and strike, whether she’d taken the sword out of her lover’s back or not.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 12:35:49 pm by Verse »

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2018, 12:33:16 pm »
Wicker held the side of Alios’ beautiful neck as he gave his performance, deciding then and there that she loved him. Any lesser emotion would be an offense to his efforts and beauty. Who was she to offend? She bent over him, mouth brushing his unmoving lips after his false death. “I will avenge you,” she whispered and then grinned against those petals. “And I will return. Not even death will keep us apart tonight.” Her grin would have split her cheeks then if it could. “Unless it is my own, I suppose.”

With that, she sat up on her knees, over his lap, and looking across the floor at Ebelt. She pressed down her smile while he tried to play his role—not making it easy for her to keep from smirking. “Jealous fiend! How dare you steal this virgin light from our gardens!” Another set of giggles because she was perpetuating the most absurd of their lies—a thousand times more absurd than the one where they pretended he was dead.

She jumped to her feat, still in the chair. “He was never yours!” Her duels rarely started with false theatrics, not that they lacked drama, but she found that she quite enjoyed this. She suspected it wouldn’t hold long once they actual fighting started. The promise of that fight was all that made her leave Alios’ lap, because, as she’d confessed to him, she was never sure which she enjoyed more.

She leapt off the chair, hand reaching out to wrap her fingers around the hilt of his sword. A part of her thrilled at that detail—his sword. She pulled it from the back of the chair, giving some resistance but not enough, and stalked toward him. They would collide quickly, now that her stride and his were bringing them to the center. Her jacket hung open, the thin, loose material of her tank top offering glimpses of unprotected flesh—pale and dressed in tattoos and scars. She wondered then, what his skin looked like under all those fine suits. Did he have scars? Would she give him one to remember her by? Maybe she really was a romantic, after all.

She swung up to meet his slash and the crowd howled when metal clashed. Her lips were swollen from kissing and her eyes a little glassy from shots, but Wicker was made for dueling. She’d done it in worse states than this for less enjoyable reasons.

-

Idella turned his back on the scene before the two even met to start the fight. He hadn’t particularly wanted to insight more interaction between Ebelt and Wicker, but it had seemed the best choice in the moment. The crowd needed entertainment, something to move them from one scene to the next with minimal chatter. Wicker had a nature about her that was easy to insight. She wanted to fight Ebelt, he had seen it already. What worried him was if she wanted more than fights. She was Hyacinth and a part of him wasn’t willing to share her fierce love with another king—even a once-king of Rose. Maybe she would get it out of her system if they dueled. Maybe he would beat it out of her or she would beat it into him. Maybe they would find that fire only a passing flame, gone with their adrenaline.

He took the few steps to Fern. “What were talking about again? Oh yes, Queens. Any recommendations?” He reached out to the side and a servant rushed in with a tray of champagne flutes. The crowd burst around them with excitement as metal beat fiercely against metal behind him.

-

Almi subconsciously tightened her gentle hold on Luna’s arm when the king spoke of returning her to Heiv. Her gaze did move around the crowd, looking for her own king, but relief washed through her when he wasn’t readily available to take her attention. Almi was a good princess, she would not neglect her own sovereign, but she wasn’t interested in leaving Luna’s side either. Unless, maybe she was clinging. She relaxed her hold, turning a little toward the developing duel. She did smile at the showmanship of their theatrics, making characters of themselves and a true story for the situation at hand.

“I think I’ll watch the duel, thank you, but if you wish to entertain someone else, I won’t keep you, your majesty.” She smiled brightly at the other woman. “I understand Kings have obligations at these sorts of functions.”

A cluster of new students were practically bouncing on their toes at the duel. It was all still new for them, fresh and exciting, where this had become casual for most over the years. She smiled at the shorter crowd, not yet filling out their fine suits and gowns. “I am glad they made such a spectacle of it,” she confessed to the King, though she wasn’t a fan of duels herself, she did enjoy the excitement of others.


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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2018, 07:24:34 pm »
“And he dodges away to leave others chasing the parade.” Luna watched Phellar go, and the promised fight of the evening return to a central stage. She would have preferred to see Wicker take that blade toward the Chrysanthemum king. Not to see him fall, but to see him react. Phellar liked to incite flames and then leave them to burn, often enough. It annoyed her, but only because it forced her to regard him cautiously even when he was being foolish.

The king waved off Almi’s niceties. “Obligated to watch the primary entertainments, when they mean clashes between Gardens.” She said. “Theatric or not.” Luna added, watching Alios bask in the story they were creating. It wasn’t all that uncommon, in the end. Most of Versailles was a stage in some form or another. There was no reason Balls and Galas should not host elaborate plays too.

“The one thing I certainly don’t feel obligated to is entertaining anyone but the people I want to.” Luna said, and kept her hand over Almi’s. Sometimes it was for Jasmine’s benefit. Sometimes it was for her own. “Being a king has to be at least a little fun, right? I mean. The others seem like they’d agree.” She said, tipping her head toward Phellar.

Luna watched Ebelt and Wicker prepare their tale. A good match, really. The two who’d hand-picked their kings. She wondered if either of them would ever bother to corner Phellar into an actual duel. They seemed the best suited to do it, if anyone would. Or could.

--

Fern sighed. “Not that one, at least.” She said to Idella, when Wicker had gone for the sword. She gave her king a slight smile. “She’s too good where she’s at,” she said. And the idea of the blue-haired knight ever playing at queenly duties would probably always be a little ridiculous. “I mean, not that we couldn’t work the image of a War Queen. If any Garden could, it’d certainly be us.” She added.

“There is always Prince Grayson.” Fern said, hunting for him in the room. He’d left Scarlett, which may or may not have been reason for relief. “A dangerous game, maybe?” It wasn’t as if most were unaware that Grayson was a curious holdover from Hayden’s court. Fern did not particularly trust him and she presumed Idella didn’t either; there were many reasons to keep Grayson with his title and only half of them might have required good will. Of course, she couldn’t be sure. Fern did not presume to understand the intricacies of being king. She just helped ensure whatever Idella decided was seen to completion.

“I was hoping, just a little, that Wicker might have gotten to fight a king. I suppose Ebelt will be fun to watch too, and it was practically on the schedule, but…” she made a face like she’d tasted something foul. “I wouldn’t have minded seeing King Phellar slapped around just a little.” A lower voice, because it wasn’t the most polite suggestion.

--

Lyanna made to protest, flustered that the king had redirected toward them so rapidly. She had caution on the tip of her tongue—she couldn’t afford further injury—but the words were stolen about as quickly as she was from Hermes. “Your Highness,” she said, and it was an apparent struggle to remain neutral in expression and tone. “You are my king. I do not think any of us can shake you from our hearts,” she suggested with a nervous laugh. He’d managed to insult her, demean her, and demand a place in her psyche in two sentences. She didn’t quite know what to make of it, but it made her pulse charge a bit faster. She thought the king might scare her.

He was sweet when he said cruel things, and his dancing was on par. Whipped about in an almost threatening manner, and yet he’d not been insensitive to her injured ankle, She bit her tongue to keep from making an absurd face. Hermes would see that she was unsettled though, there was a fluidity to her reactions that said she was not thinking through to her usual precision. It should have been unbecoming, but it was lovely instead. Lyanna cursed herself when Phellar called for fighting music.

But then he had thrown her, and her body was good and reliable enough to keep her limbs coordinated and long. But there was a flush to her cheeks that betrayed her surprise and a simultaneous elation and terror at the flight. She squeezed her eyes shut as she came back toward earth. He’d cast her aside easily enough this morning. There was nothing to keep him from letting her collapse to the floor now. He caught her, and it might have been worse. He was not the unquestionable steadiness of Hermes—not for lack of ability to be stable, but because of his apparent unpredictability.

She gasped when he whirled her into his bizarre dance, following where she could and feeling her cheeks burn hot when she could not. It was unreasonable to be embarrassed or feel lacking here. He was throwing out steps that were utterly unprofessional and wholly outside of her discipline. When they were steps that belonged on some form of stage, she could at least keep a respectable pace. Often enough, they were not. The king seemed intent to press her to her limits, testing her flexibility in ways she would have rarely trusted her own partner to try.

Finally, in a small panic, she made a sound that was half way between frustration and relenting. Her limbs unbound and she fell to the king’s whims. With such a wild display it was the only way to protect herself at all. Forced trust was an odd thing, and release an even stranger one on Lyanna’s shapes. Bend with the storm or be broken. When she caught Hermes’ gaze, she wasn’t sure why she felt guilty.

--

Fern was sighing again. “And this Winter Ball has barely even begun.” She said, to the room as much as to Idella, though with no great volume. She caught sight of Scarlett drifting closer, and it made her stiffen. “Were you planning to be the talk of the Cereus Post, tomorrow?” she asked the king with a tip of her head in Scarlett’s direction.
 

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #43 on: January 05, 2018, 07:12:25 am »
She brought the emotion she'd shared with Alios when she advanced on Ebelt, and Ebelt thought it was wonderfully distracting. It was hard not to laugh, not because it was so tickling, this game, but because it was so entertaining, rather. He let her come so that they'd not be too close to her late lover. It was an issue of space, not mercy - no one would appreciate such details in the play, anyway.

She was swinging well, good nature in the large strokes of his sword that she held. The echo and vibrations in the Chrysanthemum rapier revealed its design, and in a twirl of the handle Ebelt sent the sheath that had made the outside of the cane into a wall, adding clang to the music Phellar had ordered. Somewhere he'd shed his jacket while using it as a shield. It was a good show, and they were polite to begin, telegraphing their attacks. He found when she was amused, and did more of it for her.

She seemed the most impressed with real effort. And so he applied more of his point thrusts, first at a great distance so that she'd see them coming, and then closer, to test her. Before he knew it they were engaged. It was exhilarating. If he didn't use the lightness of what was essentially an assassin's weapon to parry, he'd be run through. The sword she was holding was flawlessly made for him, but she was smaller, which was his saving grace since his blade was inferior.

Her speed picked up and he would have pressed his advantage in reach, if the shorter Chrysanthemum stick didn't even things out. There were no more orbiting slashes or far cocked lunges for the audience, but the breaths the combatants took were proof enough they were putting in effort. He tried to lock her into a sword's cross, and put a shoe in her stomach, or a jab with his free hand to stop her in her track. It was a compliment to her, really, since she'd driven him to it.

He would take any opportunity given to trip her, or put knuckles to her gut. It seemed it was not easy, holding back the maker of the current Hyacinth rule.

-

Phellar was consistently adept in both manipulating her body, afflicting it kinetically until her skirt flailed or her leg drew true at the conclusion of a twirl, and her heart with his expressions - crushingly judgmental, deceitfully adoring or imposingly hungry. She was afraid at first, which was something he recognized and reveled in. Then, as her nerves became more accepting and she found a home in this siege, she offered him a delicious pliability and new freedom with her body. If she was looking at that small instance, she could have seen a little, honest smile.

Sometimes he was clean in form, simple, deeply meant lines from her art, and others he was impossibly lewd, playing with and under her skirt and the way it took flight. His little plaything, like she was the spinning doll in a music box, but the box was put through a harrowing storm. He was enjoying himself, in the raising intensity of the music, exhausting her intently with the tunes that were proof of Ebelt's and Wicker's heightened tension.

But in that symphony he also found his own deadline, and had to find her partner again, while she panted in her blushing way. He was more pleased with a compliant, undone Lyanna, and felt slightly robbed for having to give up this game already. Hermes stepped onto the floor when he saw some indications in Phellar.

At the stroke of a sword, or a string, Lyanna was returned, back first, into Hermes, her leg raised to point the toe at the ceiling. Phellar held that throbbing ankle high with three fingers as he compressed her against Hermes's torso with his own. His hips found her rather available apex to taunt before kissing her exhausted mouth, to steal her breath like this morning. It wasn't really worth his kiss unless they were struggling for air.

"Atrocious, still. But maybe that's your charm." he whispered in her ear, but it was close enough to Hermes's that they'd both know. "Practice, practice. Maybe you'll have sparks in your wooden heart." he instructed before pushing them both back and gliding away while the music was still loud. He went up the stairs casually, if any one noticed, after Hiev. Most people would still be watching and betting on the duel.

Hermes quickly pulled her aside, leg down, and was fast about placing her in his lap as they sat. "I'm sorry." that this happened to you. He shook slightly. Now was not the time to accuse her of anything, but he'd seen in the inferno that had been her and the king the very scorch others had spoken of. He understood something about his own shortcomings as a dancer, after having discovered her move beyond them perfectly with Phellar. Did she look disappointed it had ended? "A-are you alright?"

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #44 on: January 15, 2018, 01:15:45 pm »
Idella laughed when Fern presented to idea of Wicker as a queen—already a joke in her mouth. “Somehow I doubt she’d appreciate the role. And I think it might be the death of Vinnia. The girl tries so hard to make her presentable as it is.”

His gaze wandered from the fight to the audience, considering King Luna in the company of Princess Almi. A curious pair. Was that a thing now? Should he try to acquire a queen outside his court? Tempting. The title could easily steal someone from their own court. Aspiration was a popular hobby.

He snorted once at the idea of Grayson. Every year he considered cutting the prince loose of his title but the boy held too many threats in his pockets. He’d made himself a suit of armor out of secrets and scandals, lies close enough to truths to do even more damage. “Your skills at suggestions are seeming thin. Hoping to point out how no one could do the role better than yourself?” He smiled easily, because he knew it wasn’t her intention at all.

“And, though I may agree, it would be nice to see our Wicker go up against Phellar,” his smile faded at the edges, gaze cutting back to the fight. “We all know it wouldn’t end with a slap.”

He turned to follow Fern’s tip of her head toward the advancing Cereus. “Oh, Scarlett, what fortune,” he said, voice dry of any true enthusiasm. “I was just asking my knight here for her recommendations on a Queen. Any suggestions?” Something in his blue eyes gleamed, as though if she said just the right thing then, he might consider her for a crown.

-

It was all a game in the beginning. He tested and telegraphed and she did the same—not one to cheat unless it was necessary. She sped up their fight when they both had the lay of the land—of each other and the limits of their weapons. Wicker was aware that she was fighting with his sword. It felt strangely intimate and already she had plans to keep it always.

The crowd gasped and shouted around them, calling for blood and cheering with delights when they tangled.

Their blades scraped together, his weight pushing them up and his boot shoving into her stomach to shove her a staggering three steps back. She exhaled her lungs, body bending forward in those steps. She rolled her shoulders out of her jacket, one sleeve at a time, and threw the garment to Vinnia on the sidelines. The girl looked flushed. She hid it well, but she loved when Wicker dueled.

Her thin tanktop hung on her frame, exposed tattoos down her ribs and along her naked arms. She rushed at the once king and tried hard not to think about him that way—about a crown on his head and a thrown under his ass. She tried not to think about the way Hayden’s crown had sounded in the rain, his boots in the puddles turned red, and that grin on his lips.

She met Ebelt in the middle of the room again and forgot Hayden completely. For a moment, there was only him. She grinned, sword beating down at his in fast successions as she worked to push him back, aiming to crowd him into a corner and knee him in the chest, maybe even drag the edge of her sword—once his sword—along one of those arms. The need to mark him was unbearable, rising up in her, hungry.

-

Almi tensed, clutching at Luna’s arm now as she watched the horrifying show. “Oh, I hate duels… It’s so dangerous. I don’t know how more students don’t get horribly injured. It’s become so common.”

She winced when Wicker took a boot to the stomach, looking away briefly when the knight tossed off her jacket. Almi didn’t notice the tattoos, just the scars, a pang of guilt making her suddenly sick. She didn’t look when Wicker came rushing back at Ebelt and the whole ballroom erupted with excitement.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #45 on: January 16, 2018, 09:43:24 pm »
Fern laughed, a short sound, and shrugged. “Queens are unusual politics these days, oddly enough.” She said honestly. Like all the kings had hoped to be islands. Rose had carried a queen with the king before Ebelt, and Jasmine could have had a queen in Luna. There was nothing to make the king inherently greater than the queen. It was always a matter of who had appointed whom. In fact, the Jasmine king had spurred on a good deal of gossip in the early days of her rule. She could have had such a pretty Queen’s Garden. “But naturally, you musn’t expect me to be entirely lacking in ambition, right?” Fern grinned. Good knights were happy as knights.

She straightened up a bit when Scarlett approached them. The two girls gave each other the slightest of nods. It wasn’t exactly chilly, but neither of them had any illusions about the other’s feelings. Scarlett’s smile was another thing entirely, for Idella. “Your majesty!” She dipped into a polite little curtsey, quick enough that it satisfied formality without being too serious. Scarlett was never wanting to be too serious. “What an intriguing thought. Hyacinth taking a queen would be a beautiful stir.” She hummed. “Naturally, I’d have to throw myself in the ring. I like to think I can be a valuable friend.” Scarlett said, and then laughed at the thought herself.

“If you wanted to cause waves, there’s always the thought of wooing a king. The best scandals are born out of absurd emotions.” She pressed a hand to her cheek. “That’s projecting, of course. It’d be the highlight of my time here to see two Gardens joined in that kind of tangle.” Scarlett glanced back at the duel still playing across the dance floor. “If your hero wins, could she demand the Rose Hand’s lover as a prize for your Garden?” For a brief moment, there was a wicked delight in her blue stare. “Could you imagine? Dragon Hyacinth devouring our pretty Briar Rose?” She waved it off as fast as she’d said it. It was a joke because it had to be.

“I kid, of course. But I might say, at least, that there are only two good decisions. Make a big statement or make none at all. Anything in the middle will just look weak, I think. One way or another, it will only be delightful if it looks wholly selfish.” Scarlett said.

Fern almost had to agree. “Well, Duchess, that does kind of remove you from the running then, doesn’t it?” Fern said lightly. “You’d cause a bit of a stir as our queen, but let’s be honest—anyone but Jasmine taking a Cereus queen would just look like a try hard.” Scarlett giggled.

“Quite right. Except, maybe, for King Phellar. He’s wild enough to do as he pleases without surprising anyone, don’t you think? Like I said… making no statement at all is fine too.” Scarlett sighed. “Now, I must admit, I was hoping to steal your dear knight for a drink, King Hyacinth. Would it be horribly rude for me to take her from you for a bit? Now or later, it’s just been a while since Fern and I have caught up,” Scarlett said.

Fern pursed her lips. She hadn’t had reason to talk to Scarlett in a long time, and she didn’t really feel like she had reason to now—unless Scarlett was in the mood to gossip about Grayson. At the same time, there wasn’t good reason to deny her. She glanced at Idella.

--

Luna inclined her head. “Yes, it’s become more popular than is probably safe, if we’re being honest.” She agreed, though she wasn’t sure that it mattered at Versailles. Most students would spend close to twenty years here. The whole of their known lifetimes, and long enough to bud into adulthood before forging on in the world. In that way, they had always been a separate world. They all felt it, on some level or another, and despite all the outside successes they dreamed of, the workings of Versailles were often the most important. Nobody forgot their Gardens or their reigns or the great triumphs and failures of their childhoods here. That they had aggressively embraced games that could be fatal seemed appropriate. It made it all a little more real. “I can’t blame them, I guess.” She admitted, and gave Almi an apologetic look. “But, the danger pushes the skill forward and so on. You can be injured doing many things.”

And Wicker’s bare shoulders and the scars playing with her ink were a reasonable underline of that. As an outsider of that event, Luna didn’t know all of what had happened in Hyacinth, but she was certain dethroning King Hayden had required a good deal more than dueling. “In Jasmine, as you know, we don’t duel like this often. My knights are able, of course,” she tipped her head toward long-limbed Alios, “But there are plenty of options for both settling tensions and entertaining crowds.” She smiled idly. The king was not known for being openly prolific in the bedroom, but she was well understood to support it in her halls.

She did flush a little then, and cleared her throat. “If it’s any consolation, I cannot picture anyone attempting to duel you unless it was a matter of the Catwalk.” She laughed. “And, at least, Wicker and Ebelt are enjoying themselves. That’s better than weaponized arguments, right?”

--

Lyanna did not like the sensation of being caught between her king and her partner. It was a deeply unwelcome manifestation of the tension Hermes had been mulling over all day. She did not squirm or struggle, though. Phellar had her injured ankle in his grip, lofted high like he was bearing her practiced limbs for a torch. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, and it was the only betrayal of the way he’d taxed her. Emotionally, it was more likely, than physically. Even with her injury, she was an athlete.

She was vacant against his kiss, though her body was a warm indication that she was keenly aware of the king’s invasive nearness. It was vulgar in a way that would make her blush and protest and private. Now she was dumb and sheet white. There was very little on her expression when he left her, as if he’d spent her ability to emote on the floor. If she heard his whisper, she did not respond.

Lya blinked when Hermes had set them down, moving like a marionette until she was settled in his lap. “Sorry?” she mumbled. She turned her face so that she could see him clearly, seemingly unfazed by the duel taking center stage. “For?” she didn’t know what he could be sorry for. Phellar was their king, which meant certain things whether they were welcome or otherwise. In the end, she was no more injured now than when he’d taken her onto the floor.

“I’m… I’m fine. Mortified, a bit, I guess.” She answered, and it seemed she’d settled on being distraught over the insults to her modesty over anything else. Abused things often did find shelter in the minutia. It also meant she did not see herself as abused. “As I said, he is… a better dancer than I had expected, I think.” Lyanna gave him a small smile. “Terribly unpredictable.” It was meant to be a minor slight to their king and a kindness to Hermes, but she didn’t sound as unhappy with it as she should have. Like unpredictable might have been the tiniest bit exciting.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #46 on: January 17, 2018, 09:37:50 am »
He laughed at her tenacity, an aghast sound. It wasn’t easy concentrating on keeping his own sword from touching him, as he had to have his eyes on her body which was becoming increasingly distracting, with its generously cut tank top, jacket a memory of the floor. Ebelt trusted his reflexes now that the speed was beyond what he could micromanage. To give himself more time against her speed, he had to give her more space. When he discovered the corner she’d put him in it was too late. Her leg move and bent, cutting upward. He recognized the intent and guarded himself from her cuts as he darted forward to meet the knee with his chest. His advantage was his physical build, and he was hoping to get her out of balance with the blunt tactic, pushing into her hard enough.

It would cost him air, but they were all trained to ignore shortness of breath if the crowd was looking. He was ready to pin her chin with the tip of his borrowed blade if she fell, but if she didn’t, he’d still be up for more silver conversation. It’d be around then that whispers would thread through the rumble of the audience, and he’d see where their gossip and eyes were traveling. A cut on his perfect tailoring, and something burnt by the sweat he had worked up. A wound, his first. He’d not realized she’d done it, and that was the danger of it.

He wondered if that should be it, he certainly wanted more, but the rising applause seemed to have decided for him. He clucked his tongue in disappointment, she deserved at least that much, and then grinned widely, sweat on his temples as he bowed, hair in glorious disarray to the right, Chrysanthemum sword laid over his chest.

“Look at you, wildling. Your revenge is complete.” He held that cut arm up, sword in that hand. “For this is my foremost lover, too.” Delighted laughter from the chemically touched crowd and he spun to receive it. Rose would burn before being sore losers.

-

Hiev heard what was happening outside, but wasn’t thinking of Ebelt now, even though it might be appropriate. He’d found an abandoned hall, grand but used for storage now, with mirrors and backless seating. Shadows here, when he’d turned on the little lamps by the reflective glass. His legs were crossed, squeezing his hand between his thighs where he sat on something quilted. How embarrassing, with the hard truth trying to ruin the silhouette of his tailoring. Phellar had been quite mischievous with his potent tricks, hadn’t he? The King laughed to himself and cupped the dense, hot hill.

He wondered if the attraction of a man like the Chrysanthemum miscreant was that he loved himself so much it spilled over to everyone else. Before that clever jab could do anything to give Hiev back control over his own imaginings, he was already squeezing and rubbing, molesting the tailoring himself. He parted his mouth shamefully and looked around with flushing cheeks for a place to hide. While hidden, this place was too large for him to feel private. But wouldn’t it be wonderfully perverted?

His belt was undone, jacket wide open and first buttons unhooked when there was a sudden slide and a deft slam behind him. He twisted around as though to defend himself from a blow. “Phellar!” he cried in panic, pinching his collars closed. “Get out! I… I’m changing!” He pointed at the door with his other hand. He thought it looked like a large show of strength.

“I don’t think you’ll ever change, Prince King. Princeling.” Phellar said and pushed the door without letting it close fully. In the crack between the door and its frame fit all of Chrysanthemum’s hubris. “I heard you were a mattress for your queen.” He continued and shed his jacket to fully reveal his sheer shirt. Hiev swallowed and kept walking back into the large, forgotten room, his state still painfully tight and visible. “And I think you’re just that for Ebelt, too.” That sheer shirt came of easily, and he was gaining on Hiev, too. Hiev’s legs were sluggish, and his was fixated on Phellar’s lithe but formidable torso and those swinging shoulders. “Maybe you’ll be my stale sock, instead?” the only real king in the room suggested. “You look like you’d be very good at that.”

Hiev tripped and fell down sitting. Before he could close his legs around his dense shame Phellar was there, pushing a leather sole down on Hiev’s sensitivity. The Prince King whimpered and looked up at Phellar for mercy. “I-I’ll scream.” He warned. He’d call for his court, his kingdom.

“I think you will. I’ll take it as a compliment.” Phellar gave before Hiev gasped at a rather vulgar unveiling. It served well to keep the sitting king still, though. “Now, all things being equal.” Chrysanthemum continued, pushing down harder on Hiev’s already tortured hill.

“No. I can’t. This is wrong.” The smaller boy said, valiant, even as his own hands and will abandoned him, complying with the rush of a zipper. He whimpered when the leather sole inspected his standing weakness. “J-just leave me alone.” He said and then bit his lip when the pressure from Phellar’s shoe was more insistent.

-

Hermes took in that face. She did look innocent, but he suppose she would even if some great corruption was finding its way into her. It also suggested that she did not see what had transpired on the floor as anything special, even if her breaths had begged to differ. The art they did, it wasn’t unusual for them to take a business like approach – the two of them were a bit prolific in that regard – but he’d still seen distress in her eyes. It disturbed him that she could tell herself there hadn’t been some sleight worth mentioning. He also realized he wanted her to feel wronged, if it was his decision.

“Sorry for what he did to you. It was against your will. Such a forceful man.” He muttered. It was little comfort the way she went on about the king. Hermes turned his head from hers. “Yes,” unpredictable. For a little moment his brows tightened and his lower lip jutted. His emotions were strangely visible, tonight. But he relaxed soon, and looked her over. At least she wasn’t hurt.

“It seems the danger is over though.” His hand on her shoulder. There was a difference between when he caught her on the stage and when he was being a friend. “You’ve gotten that business over with and we can now try to nurse your ankle better.” He smiled slightly, petitioning for her merry, too. A weight remained in his chest though. It seemed she was hosting some giddy in her belly, and strangely, he felt, it was coming between them.

“We could continue enjoying the winter ball, now.” He touched her waist with admiration, remembering how much he liked this color on her. He tried not to see the choker on her throat. “And talk about more pleasant things.” It was suddenly important he should have all her attention. It seemed Phellar really had ruffled the pair, and perhaps in all that rocking, something had finally shaken loose in Hermes. “Like how great your form still is, despite your injury.”

-

Iora Flell had her book with her, always. Her dress was gaudy, but it blended in well for anyone who didn’t look twice, and most didn’t. She didn’t make enough to pay for her clothing, but by extension, she had some contacts in the fashion world that wanted their things on display here in the stage of the world. It was easy to manipulate up-and-coming brands to let her have things that she needed. They had advised against the cleavage, especially when she wasn’t much of an eye-catcher in that regard, but how would she call upon the hormones if boys if she didn’t endow herself like a mother? Her uptight neck was drawn as hard as always, skinny thing, and her eyes were large, looking around. The duel almost had her incontinent.

Some traditions suggested larger parties should have a teacher chaperone. Most took the responsibility without showing up, but not Iora. Today, to her great misery, had fallen to Jen Tanaka. Still, Iora had attended in her chronicler capacity, which got her in as a fly on the wall to most events. She sat by a table with two empty glasses and a half full one for company.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #47 on: January 17, 2018, 01:26:40 pm »
Idella maintained that look of polite attention coated in mild boredom. Kingly as fuck. Scarlett offered plenty of entertaining words for the gossips and proved in her responses why he’d rather cut off a finger than put a crown on her head. Already she tried to steer, manipulate and influence his moves with her little opinions, like he cared what she thought would be most delightful or weak. What did a Cereus know of weakness and strength? Mouths that whispered but took no action, made no move, offered no help.

She seemed to think he wanted to make waves. He raised a brow when she suggested he woo another king and then curled a cheek in disinterest at his options.

He glanced at the duel to see Wicker throwing her jacket to Vinnia, rolling her shoulders before lunging into the fight once more. He waved off the girls. “Have at it. I’ll just have to look for a Queen elsewhere,” Idella said with a little smirk and started away from them, toward Luna.

He reached the other king and the rose princess at the ends of a conversation. His smile grew when he came to stand beside them, watching the duel. “I doubt Wicker or Ebelt would win if they did duel Princess Almi on a catwalk. Though, to their credit, they would certainly try their best.”

Almi turned to the side, eyes widening a little before she smiled politely and gave a little dip of a curtsey. “Your highness, bringing entertainment as always.” It managed to sound like a clean compliment passing her lips, and not the clipped jab it would have been from anyone else.

Idella smiled at that, pale blue eyes regarding the princess before landing on the King. “I find that it follows me, aggressively at times. But you don’t seem lacking in entertainment tonight. And I feel like your pretty knight was at the heart of this,” he lied, because he had pierced the heart of this situation the moment he threw Ebelt’s sword.

-

Grayson knew too much. It was his saving grace. Knowing things had kept him alive, highly regarded, and at times feared. He’d done terrible things and walked away—with worse things in mind for the future. He rolled his eyes so hard at Wicker’s duel that his body turned, back to the scene and narrow silhouette drifting away into the crowd.

He was sick of watching Hyacinth’s Champion paraded around like she was the star, like every damned party was for her. He’d watched that fight in the garden, the one that had meant the world to the fate of Hyacinth but had been witnessed by so few. She had been a monster that day. Even the clouds had opened up and poured all the water of the seas down on them in an attempt to bring it to an end. Hayden had been magnificent, cruel and biting down to the his last moment. Wicker had been such a little thing then and she’d taken such a beating in that last fight. Grayson had been sure she would die. But somehow the little beast had stayed on her feet and a king had gone to his knees. In front of her. It still haunted Grayson, the wrongness of it all. That day should have gone differently.

And really, it was all Almi’s fault. Whiny, foolish, damsel. Grayson had no room for damsels.

Speaking of… He caught sight of the Rose King slipping away from the party. And then Phellar in pursuit. Grayson didn’t hesitate to follow, shoes made to be quiet.

He leaned his shoulder into a doorframe, neck craned and temple to the cold wood when he took in the developing scene. His skin heated. You’d have to be dead not to be warm, watching that. A better person might have intervened. A discrete person might have walked away. Grayson slid his phone easily from his pocket, snapping a few pictures before filming.

-

She’d almost had him where she wanted him when instead of leaning back, trapped, he threw himself forward into her attack. Wicker managed to heave out a swear when his weight forced her back. If she’d worn the heels Vinnia had pushed, she might have fallen, but instead it was a twirling, ducking backward swirl that landed her low, sword ready and the lean muscles in her legs eager to launch her up at him again.

The sound of the crowd changed and then so did Ebelt.

Her gaze fixed on the tear in his fine suit. She couldn’t see the wound, though she suddenly wished to lick it. He called the duel and she stood, heaving out a breath that could be nothing but disappointment, before smiling. It was bad form to push a duel when you’d already won. She moved toward him and a few roses inched forward, as though they might come to Ebelt’s aid if Hyacinth went mad. The blade moved through the air, slow enough not to be a true threat and her eyes locked with his. The tip found the hilt at his hip, and she took those last steps in, pushing the sword back into its dark home on his belt.

The Hyacinths in the crowd beat palms to tables, and boots to the floor, rising an melodious throb in the ballroom. Wicker leaned in to Ebelt, still breathing heavily and eyes all his. “Tease,” she whispered, and no one else would hear it over the drumroll of limbs.

She turned from him, giving a man with two weapons her back, and lifted her arms into the air. The Hyacinths in the crowd roared, along with others drawn into the revere.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #48 on: January 17, 2018, 07:33:45 pm »
She almost spoke up to protest, and did throw a vaguely wounded look in her king’s direction. Tossed her to the jackal so easily. Fern sighed loud enough to make Scarlett smile wide. “Oh, don’t be so tart.” The red-head chided. Fern gave her a withering stare.

“Don’t be so coy.” Fern replied. That made Scarlett laugh and shrug, but a light hand on the knight’s back insisted they would go take that drink. When Idella had gone, Fern thought to make it straight to the point. “Anyhow, what do you want?” She asked. Scarlett huffed.

“You’re so prickly, God. I just wanted to chat. We got along at one point, don’t you remember? You, me, and Wist?” Scarlett complained. Fern shook her head. It had been business, and they’d all been willing parties. Not friends. It had also been when Fern came to understand exactly how willing Cereus was to dig into peoples’ business. She never had any particular love for Hayden, but Cereus had gone on a deep dive for dirt. In the end, all Fern and Wist had wanted was enough negligence from Versailles to allow them to pressure the administration for Sable’s belongings. It had worked, and Fern had never asked for her former king’s secrets.

“You have plenty of people to chat with at an event like this. So, you can just be blunt about what you’re looking for, you know?” Fern gave Scarlett a tight-lipped smile. Scarlett looked a little put out.

“Well, now I want to know why Idella is looking for a queen, if I’m going to be honest. They’re out of fashion this go round, don’t you know?” Scarlett muttered. Fern shrugged.

“Fashion is fleeting. And ‘looking for’ makes it sound too much like there’s a hunt, and there’s not.” Fern said. “Considering, maybe.” She accepted a glass of champagne from Apollo, who was hovering over the food and drink like it was his personal responsibility. She gave him a quick smile. The Rose Prince was likable and deeply engrossed in the culinary arts. He didn’t stoop to regular serving, but he liked to play chef for Rose’s big events. That came with a little service, and most Versailles girls did not mind. “Which, if we’re going to be candid here, is the normal state of things. If there is an empty title, there is always consideration of filling it. Hyacinth isn’t exactly an exception.” She scoffed. Scarlett shrugged.

“Fine, fine. I know it’s not terribly big news yet, but it’s still fun. You know what fun is, Fern?” Scarlett hummed. Fern arched one brow. She was certain they had different definitions of the concept. “Anyway, I heard about Ebelt visiting your Garden before the ball. He and Wicker had a little preview dance then, right? I was just wondering if this was planned entertainment. It would be a cute story for the paper.” Scarlett said. She sounded innocent, which meant she wasn’t, and Fern frowned because Hyacinth news was traveling too fast.

“Why don’t you ask Prince Grayson? He seems to like you. Maybe he’ll want to help you get your story.” Fern said blandly. Scarlett snickered.

“He’s got better things to tell me about, whether he wants to admit it or not. I think I have Wisteria to thank for that.” Scarlett said. Fern glanced at the taller girl, meeting her gaze for the first time.

--

Luna smiled when Idella came over. “Ah, good to see you, Hyacinth.” She laughed at the idea of the duelists on the catwalk. “I should have an event arranged. Perhaps to preview my next collection? Almi, Wicker, and Ebelt walking?” Luna could picture it, and it wasn’t an unflattering image. Still, the other two would certainly pale in comparison to practiced Almi and her perpetual radiance. She shrugged when Idella put her Alios in the middle of the present duel. “Tonight’s Helen of Troy?” she grinned. “We do our best to facilitate others, as you know.” She nodded toward Wicker, who was receiving enthused cheering from all the Garden. “The hero of the ball. You keep good knights, Idella.”

--

Jen Tanaka was threading along the periphery of the party, making an obligatory appearance in the early hours of the night. She’d leave before the ball carried to far into the evening. It was a courtesy to the students, not that many seemed to feel they should hold back their behavior in the presence of their instructors. The Versailles orphans were a delightfully spoiled bunch. She supposed it was also safer for the administration. Parties inevitably became more debauched the longer the alcohol and hormones flowed. If she wasn’t there to see problems, she couldn’t intervene. Versailles students did not care to have their professors intervene.

She had seen Lyanna out on the floor with the Chrysanthemum dormitory’s current alpha male—their king, as the students would say. The lithe blonde had looked out of sorts, which was rare for the ballerina. As a concerned adult and well-meaning friend, she did stop to see how Lya was doing. She found the dancer perched in her partner’s lap. “Lyanna. Hermes.” Jen said, nodding to them both. “It’s nice to see you. You both look lovely.” Lyanna smiled. She liked Jen a good deal and had often confided in her. Sometimes she could pretend Jen Tanaka was almost like a mother, or what she’d imagine a mother to be like. Maybe a big sister.

“So do you,” Lya said. Jen was not wearing anything designer. She did not make the paycheck to do so, nor did she care. Beyond that, she had the good fortune of looking classically stunning with little effort. It was her lucky genetics that had probably put her in such good favor with many of the young men at Versailles too. Tonight, she was in a simple black dress, tea length, which accentuated her petite waist and delicate ankles.

“Are you doing alright? You seemed a bit flustered out there on the floor.” Jen asked. It wasn’t as if she could do much, even if Lyanna admitted that Phellar had been upsetting in some way. Lyanna gave her a small smile.

“I’m fine. I hurt my ankle this morning, so dancing is a little difficult right now, That’s all.” She did not explain that Phellar had caused the injury to begin with. Jen nodded sympathetically, but did not press the issue further.

“I’ll leave you to your fun then.” Jen left the two before lingering with students would bring curious stares. She took a seat next to Iona. “Do you mind if I join you?” she asked, though she already had.


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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #49 on: January 17, 2018, 08:54:36 pm »
Ebelt waited to be impaled, ready to lift a hand to calm the knights if they decided to barrage forward. She returned his sword slowly, and he looked down at the prodigal blade finding its snug room with some expectation in his expression. The crowd was amused, and didn’t chime in when she called him a tease.

“There’s more where that came from.” He said back, stomach still remembering her knee. He wondered with it would have been fun to throw himself on the floor with her, at a tight distance that made their long weapons useless. It would not happen now, he thought, when she turned him her back with a good enough rapier still in his hand. Would she have hated it if he ran her through now, when her arms were raised?

Instead he lifted the Chrysanthemum ornament and then stabbed it into the floor, leaving it swinging before rushing at her from behind, thinking to pick her up and holding her over his head, as though to present the crowd with their winner. There needed to be life after this duel, too. “Your champion!” he called out with laughter in his throat as the crowd, laced with her guards, brimmed closer. “Do with her as you wish!” he said and they cheered with elation. He threw her on top of their reaching arms, and stuck out his tongue at her if she was carried away.

-

Hiev was trembling, frightened, but his mouth wasn’t dry. He looked from Phellar’s silver drowned irises and then down at the imminent threat at level with his own head. He swallowed and felt a numbness creep through his body, the kind that rendered him helpless. “No” he breathed and finally turned around clawing his way further in. Why wouldn’t his limbs move for him. The floor was cold as he dragged his length over it.

Phellar laughed behind the scurrying king. It seemed he wanted to reach a rather luxurious rug further in. Phellar and his swinging companion followed until Hiev had his first hand on the softer material, which hosted only a single Chaise Lounge. Did Hiev think this was a game where the elegant furniture would be safe? Like a giant come over the wall, Phellar bent down over the whimpering king-pretender and hooked four fingers into his pants, and pulled them down to his knees, exposing more of his milk thighs to go with his perfectly white, usually concealed cheeks.

“Phellar, no!” Hiev called out, but the room swallowed his voice. Phellar got on his knees, also, and put a hand on the side of Hiev’s face to keep him down while he lifted the exposed hips with his free hand. What a pretty, pale kiss Hiev had, raised and ready. “I-I’ll call for everyone.” Hiev said and tried to look to the side to see Phellar. He reached for more rug to pull at, and ended up shoving some into his own mouth to stifle a scream when Phellar prodded with a finger.

“I like to get in your head, you see, it’s all I ever do, become everyone’s ghost. And I think for a sissy like you, my way to your head is through your heart.” He removed his finger and spit where it had been. Hiev coughed into the rug. “So think of this as me lancing your heart, rather, King.”

Hiev became faint, and blushed all over when Phellar got to work, joining them. Phellar petted Hiev under his shirt, still on, on his spine, as he built a rhythm. “You cry, baby King, but you’re rather good at this role, aren’t you? So relaxed and allowing.” Not that he wasn’t taut.

The pace grew faster, when Phellar thought Hiev could appreciate it. Through the act he undressed the little king completely, a show of dominance, to keep his own pants while the other one was bare but for his pointed shoes. Sometimes Hiev was made to straddle his new master like a lover, and others they weren’t looking at each other. Most of the time Hiev’s belt was around his own wrists. On many occasions Hiev was staring blindly directly at Grayson, but was either lost to the torture that roused his nerves, or he’d been made not to care by the exotic transgression. It was a debauched spectacle, Hiev being violated.

-

Hermes greeted the teacher when she came around, and liked her more than he already did when she fussed over Lyanna. It felt strangely connecting, having someone talk to Lya while she sat on his lap. Surely Jen would know otherwise, but perhaps he hoped she mistook himself and his dancing partner for an item. Even with Jen's familiarity with Lyanna, she could still think something was beginning tonight. It was odd that he had these thoughts. He'd not entertained them much, before.

"Yes, she's taking care of herself." he injected and wrapped his arms around her waist. It wasn't intrusive, what he'd said, he was simply assuring Jen Lya was responsible with her injury. He nodded to the teacher when she went away. Hermes understood why Jen by far was winning many locker room comparisons in the boy's gym, but he'd never really appreciated her that way. He had a craving for a maternal figure as well, as any child raised in Versailles, but it had not gotten a say in his other preferences. Perhaps he was more for an athlete?

"You know her well, don't you?" he said as he watched the woman leave. "I fell asleep in class once after one of our shows. She let me sleep and when I woke up she'd put notes on my desk."

Iora had been scowling when Jen approached the pair, but hadn't minded much when she'd only given attention to Lyanna. "Not at all." she replied when Jen sat. She slid a glass over to the other teacher and lifted one of her own. "That's a pretty dress you have." her tone was almost accusatory but she drank quickly to make it harder for Jen to reply with something tart, if that was her plan. Iora was usually like this with Ms. Tanaka.

"I thought you wouldn't be here tonight. Most just accept their invitation and then don't come." It was said a little like a question. Her stern nature melted visibly when her eyes stuck at Idella and Luna. Her heart broke when put against the beautiful girls of Versailles, and with Idella it was almost unbearable. She opened her book and took the pen from its spine to jot something down. "He's strapping, isn't he?" she said after closeing the leather bind again.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #50 on: January 22, 2018, 04:01:57 pm »
Her lean muscles jumped when he rushed at her from behind, bracing for an attack, coiling to spring when she reacted. But then his hands were on her ribs, lifting her off her boots.

She sucked a breath just as her lips curled into a grin, body heaved from his hold into the crowd. They lifted and moved her, head turning to catch sight of the rose and his tongue. A dozen sets of hands held her up, pushed her along, handing her off and sweeping her away from the dancefloor and toward another end of the room. The chandeliers above swirled, a dozen lights, shards of diamonds because stars would be too cheap for this crowd. She hissed once, when she thought someone pinched her, head turning to scold but there were too many to choose a culprit and she was soon on the other end of the room, being righted and put on her feet again.

Vinnia managed to be there waiting, hugging her jacket and trying to force her smile into a frown. “Are you injured?”

Wicker laughed, taking her jacket back and pulling on the impossibly soft leather. “I wish.”

Vinnia took a step closer, reaching into Wicker’s jacket but her hand didn’t seek out the lining of her garment. Delicate fingers touched her ribs, brushing the fabric of her tanktop and coming back with a little smear of blood on her digits. She lifted a brow accusingly.

Wicker, honestly surprised, twisted to look for herself before letting loose another laugh. “Hardly a scratch. I probably did it to myself.”

-

Gloria, Rose Countess, slipped out of the crowd, back turned on the rejoicing Hyacinths. What a disgrace, to see that king killer celebrated in their halls. Gloria discretely pulled the ring from her middle finger, the underside bearing a sliver of a razor soaked in poison. She dropped it in a half empty champagne flute on its way back to the kitchen, disguising the move by picking up a filled one for herself. She could use a drink.

Her gaze strayed briefly to catch one of the Rose Knights looking back at her. She would have nodded once to answer the question in his eye if they weren’t being secretive. Murder had to be sneaky, didn’t it? Instead she sipped and walked about the room.

She smiled, lips almost as pale as the rest of her, white hair a mess of wild curls around her cheeks. A hint of pink along the seam of her lips and the lining of her gray eyes. She walked easily on those stilettoes, sipping her glass and pausing beside Ebelt. She looked around the room, but not at him. If he’d still been king, she would have brought him a glass. If he’d still been king, she might have been more than a countess. She’d never been harsh with him though, not in public. Gloria was always supportive of her throne. The winter rose.

“Did you have to let her win? It might have been a good show to cut her down, even if just a little,” she spoke softly, so that no one else would hear, lips softly forming smiles like they were exchanging casual greetings. Maybe she was asking if he was hurt? Maybe she was mourning his suit?

-

Idella clapped when his champion won, even if he wasn’t looking anymore. It would appear as though he knew, when clapping began, that his knight had won. Because she would always win. Always was a funny idea. A lie, really. Wicker didn’t always win. Most everyone had seen her lose a duel at some point, and yet, they said always. He supposed it was because she won when it mattered—when thrones were being made or when enemies came calling for her head.

“I fear all Hyacinth has is good knights. Some of us dress up in other roles, but we are what we are.” Modesty made him smile sideways.

The music mellowed out again, the floor reclaimed by dancers. “I do hope I didn’t miss anything terribly interesting while you were meeting with Heiv and Phellar…” Idella watched the floor of dancers, one of his princes casually joining him, handing him a lit cigarette. He turned his cheek suddenly to consider Almi once more before looking at Luna. “Are you trading nobles? If that is something we are doing, I do think I should be included in the negotiations. Who on Earth did you trade for Almi? Don't say Alios. I think Wicker would trade me for Alios...”

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #51 on: January 22, 2018, 11:03:49 pm »
Jen’s smile was tidy. She was accustomed to Iona’s tones. “Thank you.” She said. It really was a nice dress, designer names irrelevant to the fundamental pleasantries of style. “You look lovely as well.” It wasn’t sarcastic, but it was a shade too polite. Jen was not fond of overly revealing clothes. This made it particularly exciting when her skirts hitched unintentionally high over her knees, when she tried to write at the chalkboards in class. Still, Ms. Tanaka was not about to comment on the drama of necklines. It was not, really, her business.

She did wear a more revealing expression when Iona was moved by the present favorite of Hyacinth dorm. “Well, I was assigned to the event, so I do think I should do my part. I’ll be leaving at midnight.” Jen said, skirting mention of the students for a moment. “I’m sure he’s popular with the girls, yes,” She said at last. “Most of the students here have the luxury of looking forward to being attractive, when they grow up.” She watched Iona scribble in her book. It wasn’t unusual for the teachers at Versailles to flirt with the idea of pretty students, but Jen had been quite sour on the idea from the start. She’d come from a world very removed from this place and she’d brought conventional sensibilities with her, as a result. “They are still children though.” Lightly, because it was best not imply judgement too harshly on her coworker.

She took a sip of her drink and settled into her chair, arms crossed when she’d put the flute back on the table. “Do you attend all these events, Iona?” she asked.

--

Lyanna nodded, though she shifted as if she wasn’t wholly comfortable with Hermes’ arms draped around her waist. They had always been familiar. It was difficult not to be, when they had such admirable levels of physical trust in one another. She noticed her own behavior and stilled, as if taking a moment to reconsider. She did not know what she should be feeling, exactly, but her instinct suggested she was deeply against any change in their status quo. She had always appreciated Hermes for his stability. She was certain she would prefer that persist.

“I talk to Jen—Ms. Tanaka—about everything. I’m very thankful for her.” Lya said, and the implication was that she’d probably discussed her partner with Jen before. She’d probably talk to Jen about Phellar later, too. “She’s a good teacher. I think she balances her expectations well.” She said. Jen was known for being demanding of her students, but fair, and Hermes story was not terribly unusual. Her high expectations appeared to be born of a genuine care for the wayward flock that was Versailles, and she was not unreasonable with her understanding of their reality. Her brief attendance to this very event would be quite quintessentially her.

--

Luna gave Idella an honest smile. “Well, it’s good to have roots, I think. A knight king suits your Garden.” She laughed. Jasmine was known to have a history of indulgent royals, exemplifying the various loves of the estate. In that sense, Alios would have been a better king than Luna. The thought did not bother her though. They all had their own reasons for holding their crowns, and with those a certain level of entitlement. “No, no, you didn’t miss much.” She waved off the suggestion. “Chrysanthemum likes drama, always. Theatrical… why, I’m a little surprised he didn’t stay for the duel.” Luna did frown at that, because it likely meant the brash king was off causing some other commotion.

The tiny scowl didn’t last long, an easy expression returning as she tugged Almi a bit closer to her. “Who on earth would trade Princess Almi for anyone? Rose is so very fond of her, too.” She shrugged. “Not that we’d turn her away if she wanted to come to Jasmine.” She added lightly.

“Oh, he is hard to resist, isn’t he?” Luna hummed. Alios was quite popular with many Versailles pleasure seekers. “But don’t worry, no backroom deals are being made. Your throne is safe from being traded off just yet.” She grinned. It was entirely jest from the Jasmine king, who had made it a point of maintaining respectful relationships with her fellow kings when possible. It was both refreshing and a bit lacking in the fine, predatory underpinnings of Versailles royalty. It was like she was waiting for the right horse to back, but even that seemed like a rude insinuation.

“Ah, I meant to speak with you, Idella…” she trailed off for a moment, glancing at Almi. “Can we arrange a meeting after the ball? It’s nothing serious. Just some good faith this-and-that.” It wasn’t a matter of trust. Rather, it seemed best to spare the princess from being privy to unnecessary things. She wasn’t unaware that Almi had once been Hyacinth’s.   


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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #52 on: January 23, 2018, 07:25:09 pm »
Iora extended her chest further when she elicited the compliment from Jen. In her mind, Jen was well within her right to be jealous, and so Iora had to assume that she was. A strange conflict inside the history teacher then, to feel that Jen was pitiable for her conservative dress, and enviable for the boys’s attention at the same time. There was no lack of conflict in the woman. Iora was not impressed at Jen’s show of adherence to duty. “Twelve is when things get interesting, so I think that’s a good time for you to leave, yes.” The words could be taken as anything between praise at her forethought and propriety, and a pique at her lack of knowledge of these events.

Iora wore wrinkles on her forehead and looked at Jen from the journal. “They ARE beautiful already, slung with nobility and glowing with youth. Many of the ages here were eligible for marriage in the prime eras of the kingdoms they no doubt hail from.” She taught a class on that kind of thing. It was popular. Implied judgement or not, Iora would not have anyone doubt her own position on the children. She warmed somewhat at the next question.

“Yes,” I do attend all of them. It wasn’t entirely true. The Vespertines wouldn’t let her into their rituals, and some happenings were simply private. But Iora kept herself informed, at least. “they tend to like me there.” Equally true. Iora sighed as though Jen was a student that had completely misunderstood her lesson. Odd, because Iora was not prone to be this way with her actual students. “We have been given a great opportunity here, Jen, to involve ourselves in the lives of the future leaders of this world. I think it’s not out of place to show a little enthusiasm.” She returned to scribbling.

“What about you? What are you up to when you’re not grading sternly.” She asked though her attention was on her pages. She objected to Jen’s “fair” schooling, since Iora felt the higher positioned students should always have higher grades. Anything else would be unseemly and disruptive. “I rarely hear about your private life. Are you occupied with anyone outside of Versailles?” she did look up then, to try and understand Jen’s disinterest in the boys who looked at her.

-

Hermes didn’t fully receive what Lyanna’s new stiffness meant. It was because he was either too caught up with the mood he thought he felt, or because he wanted to be mistaken. Weren’t their forte that they were intelligent with their bodies? He listened to her, about the teacher. It seemed Jen was something of a role model to Lya, as well. He could see that, from the outside. “So do you.” He reminded. Balancing. Lyanna was something of a saint to him. It wasn’t a hard thing to attach to the ballerina, since her base problem was that she’d never put herself in any situation to compromise herself. It was the whole issue with Phellar, for both of the dancers.

“About our recital.” He said, and wasn’t sure what and spurred him to open his mouth about it. He was still slightly naïve to his own feelings on how unavailable her warmth was. “I was thinking of perhaps taking some critique. Should we throw something in that’s a bit out of our wheelhouse?” He felt appalled at what he was saying, but whatever thing inside that was spewing this went on. “Maybe, if they’ve not seen passion before, they could see it then?” But he wouldn’t exactly know where to start, on that. Historically, Lya would be a poor conversationalist on this matter, too. “Maybe if we break our lines a bit but make awed and struggling faces?” it was a joke, since people described as passionate on the scene seemed to check these two things – he and Lyanna had noted it often – but tonight it seemed strange to say, since she’d made a few face like that, thrown by Phellar.

-

Hiev had his own tears and Phellar’s residue on his cheeks while the Rose King breathed where he laid on the rug, sore and bullied, exhausted, with wrists still belted. “Ah… how dare you do this to me?” he said, as though he had any right to speak like a king now. He didn’t sound like one, sniffling and panting on the floor in the aftermath. “I didn’t want that.” He pressed.

Phellar, who’d bounced him on his lap and folded his legs out of the way for a great deal of deep fun, was already dressed. It made Hiev feel even smaller. “Then why did you say my name like that? You see, I’ve read that souls like yours can easily be bound if the right kind of abuse is applied.” He corrected his collar and leaned down to tug at the belt. Hiev was mortified to see the leather slip off with little resistance. “This particular knot only works if you want it to, princeling.” He grinned and used the belt as he should have been used, around his own waist. “Now, that you’re thoroughly fucked all the way through, I expect Rose to see to Chrysanthemum’s interests.” He said, leaned down into Hiev’s ear. Hiev sobbed and turned away, free, cold hands cupping his abused length as he curled up.

“That’s a pretty way to say yes, hiev. Maybe you’ll get another visit from me if you keep that up.” Phellar said as he started leaving, his back was to his skin-clad toy. “Get dressed soon and try not to still be moaning like a whore when you come back outside.”

Hiev cried quietly but nodded, groaning as he crawled toward his closest item of clothing.

-

Ebelt was also looking around when Gloria came around. It seem that was the game they were playing. He liked her. She’d always been on his wavelength, even if that didn’t matter much these days, with Hiev on the throne instead of himself. It hadn’t been fair to Golria, with all her efforts and his implied promises to her. “There are more swords in the house if you’d like to try yourself.” He said and finally turned to look at her. “Were you entertained at all, countess?” he asked and pulled some folded meat from a passing tray, he tossed it into his mouth and clapped his hands of the crumbs that had made the base of that treat. He moved the morsel to his cheek to continue speaking. “You might have to go barefoot, but I think your feigns are good enough to land a blow now that she’s all riled.” Real advice. Maybe to let her know he’d not been chanceless, out there.

He looked her over, and thought about their way up together. They had been formidable then, with their goals. He could not give her all the things she wanted, now that the crown wasn’t his, but he supposed he still owed it. Perhaps he felt guilty everytime he spoke to her now, and maybe that was why they didn’t meet much, anymore. She was a dependable person, as far as he knew, though. “I think if you challenged Alios, she’d come running.”

-

Hadron rolled his shoulders, casual snarl on one cheek spreading to ripple that side of his nose. Now that the duel had properly faded and merry was in the air again, he supposed he could get to work. Taniph was a good night, and she was always up for a fight, he knew. Under the Hyacinth umbrella, she wasn’t much, but she could take a punch, cute as she was. Hadron turned her around and her blue eyes grew large when she recognized him. “Duel.” He said and swung his arm so that his expertly dense fist would ram her cheekbone. She was unmoving when she hit the ground. Her fellow guards turned and immediately remembered the prolific fighter from the Hyacinth Madness that had left them soon after. He’d been on their side then, but served Phellar’s court now.

“Duels?” he asked as they jumped him, and he met them by throwing his head out of orbit for their retaliatory legs and arms so that he could send his own to their guts and faces. He was a violent, quiet, maelstrom, the thuds of impacts from his limbs loud in their subtlety, like trauma under skin is. Eventually the knights of the knight court crowded him and held on to his dangerous extremities. The only part of him that wasn’t wrapped in another person’s embrace was his head. He looked to Idella then, and grinned.

“They’ve grown soft, haven’t they?” he said, and Idella would know their mistake. It was in-fact the ruling Hyacinth King that had given Hadron his name, based on the then-Marlon’s tendency for a fierce headbutt. It had been of great help when they staved off the Hayden-faithful. Hadron had relished in the poor odds then, a sweet boy with daunting tattoos, but found himself in the blood of battle, and then gone to Chrysanthemum in hopes of quelling that inferno which the madness had brought. He was perhaps the foremost enforcer of Phellar, when matters were ballistic.

Before the redheaded king could warn his knights, the first nose fell victim for Hadron’s viper-like neck and the hard cranium attached at the end of that whip. His arm was free, but he continued to swipe his forehead with macabre skill until he could stand on his own, continuing the brawl. The crowd weren’t as interested as they had been of the higher profile duelists, and soon went on to do something else while the combatants had at each other.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #53 on: January 24, 2018, 10:24:48 am »
Grayson managed to film all of it. His favorite part was the bit where a king whimpered and agreed to favor another throne. He hugged his phone to his heart and pressed back into the shadows when Phellar walked by. He’d never loved that wild king more than right then. He slid his phone into his jacket and left the dark halls, the world in his pocket. And he knew exactly what his horrible recording was going to buy him. This party was finally turning up.

-

Idella laughed lightly when Luna assured him they weren’t making trades for his throne behind his back. He hadn’t really suspected it but her reassurance wouldn’t exactly be worth anything if he had. Jasmine had never shown itself to be interested in backstabbing or deception, but he wouldn’t be a good king if he trusted them overly much. He did notice how Almi blushed and looked away when Luna mentioned the Rose princess being welcome in the Jasmine gardens.

His eyebrow lifted in interest when she suggested they meet.

Almi flushed, eyes widening when she realized she might be overhearing something she wasn’t meant to. She immediately looked away, busying herself with talking to someone else on her other side about the pledges and if there were enough refreshments circulating to appease the hungry crowd of teens.

Idella nodded once to Luna. If he was inclined to believe anyone capable of “good faith this-and-that” it’d be Luna. “Of course. And if you find yourself too busy by the end of tonight,” his gaze slipped to Almi on the girl’s other side. “we can always meet in the morning. My ear is yours.”

A cry came from close by and his attention swung. Almi gasped, hands flying to her mouth when a young guard collapse to the floor before a dozen more launched themselves at Hadron. Almi looked around, as if to find Phellar and plead or maybe even command him to do something about his knight, but he was no where to be seen.

Idella’s chest knotted with emotion when he saw Hadron. It was like loving a shark, that boy. He couldn’t tame him, couldn’t keep him, couldn’t even be near him. He’d never scorned him for leaving them, not even for Phellar. They’d opened something awful inside of him and that awful needed room. Idella couldn’t let it run free in Hyacinth, so how could he complain when it found another place to run?

The part of him that was more knight than king, wished he could have ran with him, just to give him the company while he ravaged the world.

“Most are soft when times are good, Hadron,” Idella said, staring hard at the other boy as he pummeled his head into everyone around him. That floor was fast turning red. Great. At this rate, not one of his house would come home unmaimed from this night. He almost smiled then, wistful and nostalgic.

-

Gloria smiled just a little for Ebelt, exposing the shades of softest pink along the seam of her lips. “I would be lying if I ever said you did not entertain.” Her smile grew just a little more when he continued to suggest she duel Wicker. Tonight, she just might win if she did. But it would come with a reputation she didn’t really want. She wasn’t looking to sword play with the knights or callous her hands.

She laughed softly when he brought Alios into the mix. “Oh dear, that would be quite conniving of me, don’t you think? To bait her like that? And what would I do if Alios accepted? Surely he’d ruin my dress and you know how easily I bruise.” Her smile pushed into the corner of her mouth then, suggestive in the slightest of ways, recalling times when they had touched rather than exchanged the rare word.

Her eyes grew and head turned when the ruckus of Hadron broke the room again. She let out a sigh, turning to stand at his side, hand touching his arm as if she needed an anchor from the madness of their guests. “Good lord, you’d think Hyacinth and Chrysanthemum were wild animals…”

-

Wicker regretting pulling on her jacket almost as soon as it was settled on her narrow shoulders. Was it warm in here or was it her? Her cheeks were pink, but most would blame that on the liquor or the duel. An uproar swung her attention to the side, back toward Idella. Her vision blurred for a moment. Fuck, had she had that much to drink already?

Vinnia latched onto her hands, trying to keep her from the inevitable. “They can handle it. Whatever it is.”

Wicker’s vision had focused on the dogpile of knights. A face, bloody, smashed into others with a nightmarish grin. She moved closer without thinking, Vinnia still clinging to her hand. “For once you might be wrong,” she said with a small laugh, a breath really, before squeezing and then shaking off that soft hand. Wicker wasn’t meant for soft things.

She ran that last distance, ducking low to come at his side and launching herself into him. Her arms curled around his chest, dragging him to the floor once more, violence hiding a hug before they collided with marble floor.

While most without a lover in the fray had lost interest, a rose knight lingered along the edges, watching Wicker, fingers inside his jacket, feeling the edge of a knife there. Jewl had imagined putting it in her before. They’d talked about it. Planned for it. But, looking for his opportunity, his heart raced with excitement more acute than anything he’d ever felt before. His gaze flickered once to the side, to see Gloria standing with Ebelt, smiling coldly. Would her smile be real when Wicker fell? Would it be for him?

Half a dozen other knights and guards grabbed at Hadron again, throwing punches and latching onto limbs. “I was wondering when you’d say hello,” Wicker managed out, breath a little more labored than she expected. She was ontop of him for a what felt like a second, riding him like a wild horse with her fingers knotted in the front of his shirt. Another knight tried to get a hold of that head. She shoved one out of the way before the younger girl broke her nose on his lashing temple, effectively freeing his right arm.

He swung at her side, the air heaving up from her lungs. She laughed even when she collapsed to the side, coughing for air and hugging what felt like a cracked rib. “Fuck, Hadron! It’s supposed to be a party…” she mumbled, coughing still when she crawled to her feet. She swayed, almost falling backward into the onlookers.

Vinnia inched from the safety of the crowd on the other side of the brawl at the sight of it. She’d watched Wicker fight all her childhood. Something about this wasn’t right. Her cheeks were pink and her mouth open to drag at air. She blinked like she was struggling to see clearly. Her smile came slowly, delayed maybe.

Wicker managed to get stable on her feet, back against a stranger’s chest in the crowd and attention still trying to focus on the brawl ahead of her.

Jewl held his breath, the blue haired girl against him. He was supposed to look for a subtle moment, or a chance to challenge her to a duel, or even for her to pass out and be left unattended. The knife came easily from his jacket. With all eyes on the fight, on Hadron, who would see him stab her here? How thrilling, to kill someone in front of everyone and have it go unnoticed. He bit his lip and when she took a step forward, to rejoin the fight, his arm thrust at her back.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #54 on: January 24, 2018, 10:40:48 pm »
Scarlett had managed to win Fern’s attention, for once. Whatever had been said had left her with a troubled expression. “Well. Wist is not, I would guess, digging for anyone else but himself. He’s Rose, but he’s not the political sort.” Fern said, as if that should have put things to rest. Scarlett shrugged.

“It was a good faith notice, because you were involved once.” The red-head said. She wasn’t always a thorn. Just most of the time. “The paper is likely to run a bit about Wicker and Ebelt, in the morning. Unless you had something to add.” She added abruptly. Fern sighed and shook her head.

“No. I don’t believe I do.” Fern said stiffly. If tabloid rumors were the only thing Hyacinth had to deal with in the morning, she didn’t think it was worth playing damage control. Not when Scarlett was fishing like that. Fern would talk to Idella later, though. It wasn’t the best look, to have two so close to their thrones spurring discussion. Kings talked with their hands, often enough. “Chrysanthemum is always looking to rile people up, that’s all.” She said, as if it could all be blamed on Phellar. It had been his weapon in Ebelt’s hand, after all. Scarlett laughed.

“You’re not even trying.” Scarlett complained. Fern held her hands up in mock apology.

“Sorry. And Scarlett, Hyacinth has been doing well. I realize you have your own games to play, but don’t discount us if the wind shifts, or whatever.” Fern said, setting her empty glass on a tray as a waiter swept by. “Prince Sable was a Hyacinth tragedy. Wisteria might have been close to him, but Sable was ours. Not Rose’s.” She said with a thin smile. Scarlett nodded.

“Of course.”

Their conversation was brought to a timely, if unexpected close, by a chorus of gasps. Hadron had made an appearance with about as much drama as the Chrysanthemum Estate seemed to demand, tonight. Fern was across the floor and at the edge of the ruckus without another word to the Cereus duchess.

--

Luna, if she’d caught Idella’s implication, did not seem to react. She probably hadn’t, seeming to take a preposterously innocent view of her own relation with Almi. “Thank you.” She said with a small smile. It was probably selfish, but ensuring Cereus didn’t cause rifts where they weren’t needed seemed like the best way to keep the gossiping garden safely within her purview.

She glanced at Almi. “And, not that I’d ever try to steal you from King Hiev, but I do mean it.” She said with a short laugh. “The Muse of Jasmine… would it be too ostentatious as a real title?”

The duel—or what might have been intended as a duel—unfolded abruptly, a dogpile of knights and a sudden surge backward from the crowd hailing Hadron’s explosive contribution to the winter gala. The Jasmine King frowned. “Almi,” she urged gently, hoping to spur the princess to move to a safer distance. If she had to guess, Hiev had not intended on his party turning quite so violent as this evening was shaping to be. The king glanced around. Of course, it seemed, their host was also conspicuously absent.

--

Jen didn’t quite understand Iona’s fascination with the Versailles brood. She often put it up to the other woman’s attachment to fantastical histories. This place must have seemed like a microcosm of all her royal dreams. That didn’t make indulging them right. Jen wanted to mention that child brides and slavery were well-defined undercurrents in history too, but thought it would start an unnecessary fight.

“I’m perfectly enthusiastic for these students and their future success. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.” Jen said lightly. She inclined her head. She wondered if she had to be attracted to children to be considered enthusiastic.

Jen shook her head. “No, I’d have to say my life revolves around Versailles, these days. I think that’s how it goes for most of us, doesn’t it?” She laughed. It wasn’t incorrect. There were instructors like Iona, who seemed to pine for inclusion with the students, and instructors who occupied themselves with each other. There were very few who had found a way to carry on lives exterior to the school. Versailles swallowed all of them.

--

Lyanna laughed, but it sounded embarrassed rather than amused. Breaking their lines and making faces. It was a joke, but it caricatured the way they were used to thinking a little too closely. “Do you care if they see that kind of passion?” she asked, gently chiding. He had never cared before. “Our passion is in the very perfection of our lines, isn’t it?” She shrugged. “I would not be opposed to trying new things, though.” She said it like she’d be waiting for a serious suggestion. Like making the faces she’d made for Phellar were wholly implausible for Hermes.

--

Apollo lurched near to Fern suddenly. “Something isn’t right, is it?” he said. He knew Fern was from Hyacinth, same as Wicker, and he also knew the tells of chemicals turned dangerous. It was hard not to, being a lover of culinary arts at a place like Versailles. He knew to employ, identify, and avoid such things and the look on his face read with genuine concern. Being intimate with the provisions at this particular party, He was horrified by the thought of something going wrong with the spread. Sending the pride of Hyacinth reeling was certainly “something going wrong.”

The knight hardly heard. Fern made up for her modest physicality by being quick. Quick to notice, quick to speak, quick to move. She saw Jewl and dreaded the intention in his posture, in his face. Fern used small blades too, after all. They weren't good for duels. They were good for causing damage. “Wicker!” Fern shouted, rushing at Jewl in the same moment. It was quick, but it still might have been too late. It might have been just enough time to catch Wicker’s attention, which said nothing of the blue-haired girl’s ability to avoid Jewl’s effort. One way or another, she would collide hard into Jewl’s shoulder a moment later.
 

« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 10:51:28 pm by VenomousEve »

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #55 on: January 25, 2018, 09:35:37 am »
Hadron could tell the difference between Wicker’s tackle and the others’s attempts at subduing him. Her take-downs were always sharper. Since she didn’t weight much she had to put more of herself into it, but it couldn’t alter her stopping power, which became concentrated on a smaller area than what would have been the result of a bigger person colliding with him. She was more prone to bruise him, that way. He’d commented on it once or twice during their sparring days.

His own blood on his teeth when he smiled up at her, and didn’t try to throw her off right away, acting the wild seat she wanted while the pile grew around him again. When she helped him with Treya, he took it as a cue to get serious about becoming free, and rewarded her a hard greeting in her side. She seemed drunk to him, but it was strange, since she had the lack of control in her limbs, but her head seemed clear. He didn’t linger on that when Hyacinth’s guard circled him once more.

“Got bored of drinking.” He explained as he swiped a leg and caught the falling her with an elbow. A sickening sound. “You got to fight, didn’t you?”

-

Iora had to hum in agreement, even though her own isolation within all things school-ground was self-inflicted. She had been a willing prisoner by the ideas of Versailles long before she’d walked through the walls. There was a light smile on her face for it, to let Jen know her feelings on the subject. “It’s glorious, isn’t it?” she even grinned a little and put her pen to her lower lip as she’d seen on one of Almi’s spreads. An ad for watches, but the cadence worked to sell her own pensiveness, also. “I hope one day I can be part of its legacy in a more intimate capacity.” By blood she meant, but she didn’t mind the more torrid interpretation of her words either.

The brawl had been boiling for a while, but Iora hadn’t thought much of it. Now though, she thought she should, and pretended to be surprised. A delicate squeal, too well pronounced and from ribs too far extended for acoustics for any hope at being viable as genuine, but what did she care? Theatrics was a currency, here. She then laughed, conjuring a blush expertly on her cheeks. Maybe she’d be the kind of beautiful she hoped for, if there had been innocence in her, somewhere. “The boys!” she called and dropped her pen on the ground with the same kind of authentic she’d squealed. There were of course all manner of genders in the pile, but she liked her simple division. “So rambunctious.” She looked at Jen and then shrugged, as though the other teacher had said something to object. “It’s perfectly normal to practice some sport. They’re full of vigor, this time of their lives.” And something oppressive and dark in her eyes warning Jen from interfering.

-

Hermes would like to agree with her. Their beloved lines, their clean execution of a tradition that had safeguarded itself for centuries. But that wasn’t where her heart was, not entirely. How could it be, the way she’d moved with Phellar. Hermes hadn’t recognized it in himself yet, but he needed to measure up to that – be a force that left her breathless, too. Maybe his concentration on technique had been supported by her acceptance of it, since the start.

“Eh, maybe it’s not a bad idea to try.” He said, not joking this time. Perhaps he was bitter from her lack of faith in his ability to rouse her, too. He did not say it. He might not even know that was what he’d felt. “I hear some level of unpredictability is good for artistic flexibility and therein…” Dancing was not a science. “Ah, we could maybe try new music, and—make things up as we go.” He was speaking a language he’d not tasted before, and felt uncertain about it. “Start small maybe, as a concept, while your ankle heals.” He pulled something strong from a server and drank it with one toss. That sting was at least called for.

-

Ebelt had liked to bruise Gloria. She’d always be a good sport about it. There had never been prestige between them, simply because it around them, instead. They’d been running a path together, and shared frustrations to dispel them along the way. Sometimes, he wished he was to Hiev what Gloria had been to him. But Hiev only saw the reward of ambition, he’d not walked the road to it. “Alios, if he’s the princess-prize in all this, is a slut. I think whether he bruise you would be entirely up to you, madame.” Nobody begrudged the Jasmin Knight his prowess.

The King Hand looked toward the brawl but lowered his level of attention when he saw none from his own court directly involved. He finally swallowed what he’d been eating. “I think it’s quaint.” He said and turned to her, half way from the ordeal. “Would  you consider being a queen?” It wasn’t impossible. He’d not thought to promote her, and Hiev would be a bit distraught, but today was a day of announcements. Perhaps she’d appreciate it. Surely Countess was too low for her, now that he thought about it. “You could help me…” he saw the kind of light he’d feared in the corner of his eye. A gleam from dangerous metal.

Ebelt twisted around and ran for the fight.

He was too late when he started. Jewl. Why was he holding that assassin’s weapon? The faces passed quickly as he made his way and then skidded to a stop fast enough to grip and embrace Wicker, rolling with her into the bundle of bodies, which effectively stopped even Hadron.

Ebelt would be staring at her, sitting her up and noticing how sluggish she was, molesting her for wounds. It seemed the crowd was grumbling nervously over something else. When Ebelt turned his head away from Wicker, his dark eyes pules gaping for a second before he found composure.

“Jewl you fool…” he breathed when he saw the blade protruding from Fern.

-

“Wild.” Phellar muttered to a baron. They were standing exactly between the sitting area where the two teachers were, and the ruckus in question. He was perhaps even better held together than before, as though he’d not violently had the host King. He thought fleetingly to grab any actual adult who decided to see the ordeal. Hopefully they’d know better, and enjoy it for what it was, and then feign ignorance in the morning. “I hear there’s some circus acts later, too.” He whispered as though that might be the dramatic peak of the Winter Ball.

He winked at Hiev who was a little less elegant, coming back to his own ball. The Rose King looked around, and then also stared at the scene.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #56 on: January 25, 2018, 03:55:33 pm »
Gloria almost stopped breathing when he asked if she’d ever consider being queen. Her pulse quickened and her perfect smile faltered, a little more real, a little more tired. “There was a time when I thought much of it,” she confessed quietly, like the truth of it might shame her, though those pale eyes still watched him. “You know I would do anything to help you.” But the dissatisfaction was there, because she had never wanted to be a queen unless he was the king.

And then ruckus turned into ruin. She turned to the scene when Ebelt rushed for it. Oh, Jewl. Impatient, Jewl.

-

Almi looked around for Phellar but, not finding him, she shot Idella a stern glare before patting Luna’s hand away, lifting her chin, and wading out into the open floor of knights. She was a princess of Rose, after all, and had put efforts into this gathering.

“Enough!” Her voice raised, tone like a mother—nothing any of them were used to. Her arms crossed and her brow pinched, expression full of displeasure and a little sadness behind that anger. “You’re going to startle the newbies, Hadron. You know very well this isn’t how a duel is done and that balls are not the place for brawling. Not before two in the morning, anyway and even then, it’s done outside…”

And then Fern was shouting out Wicker’s name and launching herself at Jewl. Almi sucked back a gasp, eyes flaring at the sight of a dagger and Ebelt and Wicker collapsing. What on Earth was going on? And where was Heiv?

-

Jewl managed to smile, pretty mouth a little laugh when he landed on the floor, pushed hard from the side by Fern. He made no immediate move to rise, not realizing just yet where his dagger had ended up. “What? I thought this was how we started duels now? I’m just following Chrysanthemum’s lead…” He gestured with a roll of his wrist toward Hadron and the other knights.

His eye cut to Ebelt, bravado wavering then, until he looked at Wicker. She was trying to stand but her limbs were too unsteady. He’d hate himself every day for missing this opportunity. The scorn of it became her, and he hated her as though she’d been the one to knock him down.

He pulled his smile back into place, looking a little drunk when he leaned back onto his hands on the floor, and finally looked up at Fern. He’d intended to praise her, or maybe challenge her instead for the showmanship. But it wasn’t the sight he expected and color drained from his cheeks, eyes widening. "I-I didn't mean to... She ran into me and..."

Red was spreading in that pretty white fabric.

Idella slid in behind her, arm hovering at her back, ready to brace her if she wavered and sweep her up if she fell. He looked down at the knife, his red hair mingling with her dark. “It’s shallow and to the side. You’re going to be fine.”
-

Wicker was warm. Too warm. She was on the floor again. Fuck. How many times was she going to be knocked over? She squinted at Ebelt, confusion looking angry and eyes a little foggy. He was groping her all over, but it seemed keenly unpassionate so she tried swatting him away.

She tried to get up but her limbs wobbled, landing her on the floor with him again. Vinnia grabbed at her arms this time, kneeling next to them.

“What did you do?” the duchess hissed at Ebelt, voice still low as she had not yet forgotten his status. She touched Wicker’s cheeks, skin burning, and then pulled at her jacket, dragging it open to expose that little cut on her ribs again. It was still oozing blood. It should have scabbed by now. And dark veins crawled below her pale skin from that razer bite. Vinnia’s eyes widened. “You poisoned her?” Her gaze slashed up, past Ebelt to the would-be assassin. A rose knight. No. But Ebelt had snatched Wicker from the assassin. But that was only after Fern had already exposed the situation. After it was foiled.

Then all thoughts of plots and assassination attempts were forgotten, washed away by the hollowing of shock when her gaze landed on Fern and the little knife in her side. Vinnia stammered before breaking the silence with a scream.

Wicker blinked at the girl, finally pushing her away and forcing her legs to hold her up when she stood. This time it took and she turned to take in the scene everyone else was morbidly inhaling. “Good god, Fern. Did you take a knife for me?” She had to squint to see but that gaze cut angrily to the rose knight still sitting on the floor. She didn’t even know his name. Her teeth clicked and she started for him, vengeance in her heart and the edges of a cruel smile pulling at her lips. And then she gasped, air catching in her throat and body dropping, landing on her hands and knees again, fighting the need to just close her eyes and collapse.

Idella turned to look at her where she landed, his teeth finally mashing. “What the fuck is going on here?” he demanded, volume of a king. All of Hyacinth was paying attention now, abandoning friends and drinks and light-heartedness to look on at a mess not even they understood.

He finally caught sight of Heiv then, not looking much better than the rest of them. “Care to explain, Rose King?” he spat across that distance between them before shaking his head in disgust and lifting Fern carefully into his arms. “Someone pick up Wicker,” Idella shouted, walking toward the door. “And don’t let the Roses near her,” he added with biting contempt. A growing fleet of Hyacinths moved after him, draining from the room, several keening in worry for Fern.

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #57 on: January 25, 2018, 07:59:10 pm »
Fern hadn’t expected to take the blade, really. Which wasn’t to say she’d been unprepared to deal with it. She’d just thought she’d leapt into the mess too late. The good fortune of sharp blades was they didn’t really hurt when they went in. They hurt when they came out and when you saw yourself bleeding. She blinked at the stain spreading on her jumpsuit and then laughed. “I shouldn’t have worn white, I guess.” Fern said, wobbling briefly. When she realized her king had come to stand by her she braced herself well enough. It was kind of unsightly to get lightheaded around royals, she thought.

She was scowling at Jewl in short time. “Yeah, sorry I threw off your other plans.” Fern snipped, as if an excuse made any sense. “Wicker likes fighting, I get it, but that doesn’t mean anybody likes getting stabbed. Christ.” She was cross, which was probably fair. If it hadn’t been such a big event, this party, she’d probably have been a lot less lighthearted about it, too. Her head whipped toward Wicker, which threw her a half-step off balance. Idella had said she’d be fine, which she was certain was true, but she must have been losing enough blood to be a little dizzy. Still, she stayed on her feet long enough to see the other knight lock onto Jewl and then stagger before she’d closed the distance.

“Friendly favor, because you’ve got bigger problems.” She muttered. Fern blinked. Idella’s voice cut through the murmuring crowd and nearly made her jump. Ah, there, the knight king reminding everyone exactly who he was. She was proud for a moment, despite the haphazard mess it seemed the Hyacinth knights had fallen into. Maybe they really were a bit too soft, these days.

“I can walk,” she remarked, though she’d been pliable when Idella had plucked her off her feet. She glanced around at some of the younger Hyacinths flanking them, giving her wide-eyed looks that were worried and a little annoying. “I can walk,” she repeated to them, brow furrowed. “And you guys… stand up a little straighter, would you?” she complained. She wasn’t about to let Scarlett write this like Hyacinth was in some sort of bizarre retreat.

--

Jen was on her feet. “We should notify the infirmary.” She said, when it was apparent this was more than a typical student duel. Sometimes, students who should go to the infirmary did not, at this school. More than a few had even died, due to the reckless autonomy the Gardens seemed to maintain. “Send somebody over to the Hyacinth dorm, right?” she pressed, looking at Iora to confirm. She hadn’t been working here as long, nor immersed herself as deeply in the culture of this place. She knew better than to imply they should look for anyone to blame, at least. She didn’t understand why her co-worker seemed so delighted by the drama. It seemed to her that they should be more concerned with keeping students safe.

--

Lyanna had agreed as if she were humoring him, though she’d not intended it to seem that way. “Well, trying new things, little things, might not be the worst way to spend my recovery time.” She had said. “Admittedly, I would not know where to start.” Lya added, which meant she was, at least, considering the suggestion as seriously as it had been posed. “So, we will still need to be careful. Passion, I suppose, is what has put our schedule off to begin with.” She wrinkled her nose. Phellar had tossed her like it was part of his wild choreography. She had, at first, thought it had been her fault that she’d fallen. Presently, she considered that seeing her cry out in pain might have been his intention all along. It had felt that way, when he’d kissed her on the floor tonight, too.

She touched her lips without thinking. If Hermes wished to protest, the clamor across the floor denied him the option. Lyanna had freed herself from him and hobbled to her feet in time to see the first contingent of the Hyacinth estate making their way toward the exit. It was only midnight, but the party had spiraled to a dramatic, if early, conclusion. She could see it on everyone’s faces.

“We should go, before it gets to be a mess, shouldn’t we?” she suggested. They were entirely uninvolved with the upset, but it was easy to be sucked in if one lingered too long.

--

Luna was gathering her court the moment it had become apparent there was something a bit more sinister than a duel unraveling. Almi was attending to her own position. Luna hoped the princess was not inserting herself in harm’s way, but she wasn’t about to try and protest. It was a bit her duty, after all. Luna realized she might have forgotten it for a moment. Almi seemed too sweet for Versailles royalty, in general. It was easy forget that she was still entrenched in it, one way or another.

The Jasmine King had Thistle and Scarlett at her side quickly, having sought out the latter with the expectation that Thistle would know well enough where he should be. It had been a good decision, because she caught Scarlett by the shoulder just as she was trying to make her way toward King Phellar. “But…” Scarlett had begun, but stopped when Luna’s grip on her shoulder tightened. Tomorrow was fine. Luna wasn’t about to have Cereus leaping into the mud when Hyacinth’s best known knights had been carted out of the ball.

“You can find Hadron and Phellar tomorrow. Ebelt, too.” Luna said. “For now, you are a Jasmine. Find Alios and assure me he had no part in this mess.” The king said. Scarlett nodded. She wasn’t wrong.

“As you wish, Your Highness,” Scarlett said, and turned on her heel to find their iris knight.




Verse

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #58 on: January 25, 2018, 09:05:07 pm »
Hadron had not looked Almi's direction, but he grinned to one side as he watched Fern and her bravado. On any other day he might have been disappointed that her composure cost him a good fight, but she held herself up so well he couldn't be anything but impressed. As the knights took their places around her and the king, Hadron shoved a passing former comrade. None of them could afford to think of their individual pride anymore, and there came nothing from the little taunt. Hadron nodded to Idella when they left.

Ebelt had not heeded Wicker's annoyed hands, waving at him when he tried to locate her possible marks. It was entirely out of place that she was this addled, but Fern of course took center stage when Vinnia pulled Wicker out of his grasp, but he forgot about Fern for a moment when Vinnia unveiled the unclean cut. His eyes narrowed at the accusation. "Of course not." he said and tried to find some agreement in Wicker. There wasn't time for any in the exit of Hyacinth.

Hiev rushed through the crowd that dissolved in his way. His hand sought out Ebelt's shoulder as he shook his head to slap away Ideall's spoke suspicions. "Rose wouldn't..." he started as Ebelt darted from his side to roll Jewl onto his stomach with a swift kick. Ebelt then crossed the boy's wrists at the low of his back and kept them there with his knee.

"Rose will get to the bottom of this." Ebelt promised, voice steadier than the ruler of this house. It couldn't save the ball, but it could hopefully save Jewl. He made the boy watch as Hyacinth went for the door. He thought Fern laid across Idella's arms was a pretty thing, a reminder that things could have been a lot worse, today.

-

Iora was furiously writing things down, and did not answer Jen at first. Eventually she put the pen in the spine and closed her book. "Don't be silly, Jen." she said sternly as she stood as well, hooking an arm in Ms. Tanaka's and starting her for the outside too. She knew when there was no more to be done, and she'd probably do the most for the houses by occupying Jen. "Everything will be alright. Let's leave them to it." she could be rather strong when she wanted to, and would strongly insist they follow the crowd, draining toward the big doors.

-

Hermes was happy for this discussion. It smarted a little that he should petition for it, but he hoped they'd find something beautiful with their training. His good mood staled somewhat when her fingerprints graced her mouth, and somehow he knew what she was thinking of. Acting like a gentlemen became more important shortly after, and he'd rather forget anyway. He took her waist again, even though he could well carry her. It seemed inappropriate to hold her like Idella did Fern.

Chrysanthemum became coordinated lines toward the exists, and it was easy to follow the ebb of bodies while supporting her. He held a bit closer due to the density of the crowd, but that also brought her collar in better view. He decidedly kept his eyes forward, then.

-

Alios was easy to find if you looked. He was following the Hyacinth train, where Vinnia was close to Wicker. When he tried his hand to get his almost lover's attention, it was instead grabbed by Scarlett before it could be held so high she'd not reach it. She pulled, and he guessed it was toward the Jasmin masses. Their gentle king would have them leave, too. He sighed and let his eyes linger on Wicker. She didn't seem like herself.

"Yes, yes." he said before finally turning to the mistress of whispers. "I will go with you." he wore an apology on his crooked frown. "It's just that... I feel a bit responsible." And his fogged eyes were clear for that.

-

Ebelt could only watch them all leave. He sighed when he looked down a Jewl, and pulled him up to his feet, arms still behind. "You're not smart enough to have done this on your own. What's going on?" but he wasn't so interested in an answer. He found Gloria by his side and tossed the prisoner into her, falling in to old dependence. He trusted her with this. "Get him to talk." he muttered and then ducked away from Hiev's touch.

Ara

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Re: Thoroughbred
« Reply #59 on: January 25, 2018, 10:03:11 pm »
Wicker found herself leaving the ball, arms slung over shoulders on either side of her. Vinnia was on her right, arm around her waist, while the guy on her left, Marble, was carrying most of her weight. “Are we leaving?” She tried to twist around, to look back. Shit, she felt wasted. Everyone looked really serious and she had a bad feeling she’d somehow fucked up the ball. It wouldn’t be the first time but still, usually she at least knew it.

She caught sight of Alios and started to reach for him, twisting back more but Marble caught her ribs and hoisted her forward again, Vinnia grabbing at her reaching hand. “Stop it. We have to get you out of here,” Vinnia hissed low. She sounded worried, really worried, not just her usually nagging worried. Maybe something really was wrong. Oh yeah, Fern was stabbed. Wicker sunk against Mable’s side and let them steer her out the doors and toward the cars.

---

Idella found Fern’s protests comforting. She was still ordering the newbies to stand upright. “You need to tell me what happened,” he said lowly to the knight in his arms. Someone had already brought his car around. “And if you know why Wicker is a damn mess already. She was dueling just fine twenty minutes ago…”

One of the younger knight-hopefuls opened the passenger door and Idella placed Fern easily in the seat. He paused, looking at the flood of others exiting the party. Vinnia was shouting at people to get out of her way and making a line toward his car. Idella pitched a brow. “Take her home. I’m taking Fern to the infirmary,” he ordered, nudging his chin toward another car. And he didn’t want Wicker puking in his car. It wasn’t often they went to the infirmary but considering all the smashed noses in their house tonight, their own little room of medical supplies would be wiped out.

Vinnia’s lips were pressed, head shaking once. “She has to go to the hospital.”

Idella frowned. It wasn’t like the duchess to overreact when it mattered. “Wh-”

Vinnia hissed at him—at him!—and pulled open Wicker’s jacket now that they were standing beside his car. The cut on her ribs looked bad, not because it was deep or wide, but because it oozed dark blood and seemed to be reaching outward into her body with dark fingers. “What is that?”

“She’s been poisoned,” Vinnia said quietly. Marble waited for their king to nod for him to open the back door and start maneuvering the barely conscious champion onto the backseat. “It was there after her duel with…” Vinnia bit her lip, looking from Idella to Fern in the front seat. She squelched her urge to fuss over the other woman because Fern was still looking very much in command of herself and not at all likely to welcome it.

Idella nodded once and nudged his chin toward the backseat. “Get in then,” he ordered the duchess to climb into the backseat with the two knights already wedged in there, closed Fern’s door and rounded his car for the driver’s seat. How had everything gone so wrong so fast?

-

Jewl had done the only thing he could and taken whatever abuse Ebelt dealt out, not fighting back when pinned to the floor but persisting in his drunken mumbles and complaint. “I didn’t do anything they weren’t doing. Chrysanthemum and Hyacinth are allowed to ruin the party with their brute antics, why can’t we throw in a little Rose thorns to break them up?” He let the whining ramble, hoping it all fed into a look of drunkin foolishness he could pretend not to remember tomorrow.

Ebelt shoved him toward Gloria and he almost winced, back straightening under her gaze but head down and to the side with real shame now. “Of course. Almi can see to the guests making it out and that our own are looked after. You should retire for the night, rest.”

With a sharp jab of her chin in one direction she ordered the suspect knight away from the ball and toward more private Rose quarters. He managed to drop his head further, no longer for show, and walked.

Gloria managed a short curtsy for the king and a duck of her head that was so well practiced, it wouldn’t even look bitter. “Good night, Your Highness.”