Snippet #2786973

located in Fódlan, a part of Fire Emblem: Apotheosis, one of the many universes on RPG.

Fódlan

A continent divided into three different factions: The Adrestian Empire, The Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, and the Leicester Alliance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senka Rinaldi Character Portrait: Cyril Eisner Character Portrait: Jeralt's Journal
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I.Y. 1180 - Verdant Rain Moon - Wednesday the 13th
Duke Riegan Manor (Stables) - Morning - Cool
Senka Rinaldi


Senka pursed her lips together. She wasn't sure if she should be flattered or alarmed at the letter she had found outside her room this morning. It was... beautiful, she would admit. The things it said about her, comparing her to the moon or some ethereal creature, was causing her stomach to do strange flips. She knew the letter belonged to Alaric Goneril, the current Duke of House Goneril, however; she didn't understand why he was so adamant about telling her these things. She had found out that he was the young man who had been staring at her when they'd arrived in Derdriu, yesterday, when she had joined the others at the tavern. He was currently visiting the von Riegan manor, apparently speaking with Mercer. From what she'd been told, they were old friends, so it made sense for him to visit Mercer when he'd returned to Derdriu.

As if her thoughts had summoned him, though, Duke Goneril rounded the corner of the stables and his eyes softened in her direction. They were a pretty shade of blue, almost pale grey in some instances. His hair was fairly long for a noble, but Senka supposed that mattered very little in Derdriu. A lot of the nobles sported hair at least down to their shoulders, and Duke Goneril was no exception. The red was what caught her attention the most. It was rich and deep, and so beautiful. Just as he was, now that she could see his features properly. Not quite like Cyril, though. She dismissed that thought, as Duke Goneril approached.

“Good morning, Lady Senka," he stated, placing a hand on his heart as he bowed. She returned it, and offered him a more softened expression of the one she was wearing. It wasn't quite a smile, but he did seem to put her at ease. “I... hope you found my poem to your liking?" he asked. Senka blinked at him, but nodded her head. His expression shifted into a light smile, as his shoulders seemed to relax.

“It was beautiful," she admitted as he held out his hand, an invitation to give him her own. Hesitantly, she did, laying it with his, but felt her brows furrow. It didn't feel quite the same as when she'd held Cyril's hand. Cyril's hands had been warm and comforting. Duke Goneril's were warm as well, but she didn't quite feel the same comfort as she did from Cyril's. He brushed his lips over her knuckles, though, before releasing her hand.

“I am glad it was to your liking," he stated, straightening out his posture. “I was wondering if you would, perhaps, like to accompany me to dinner tonight? I—" he paused, a faint pink dusting his cheeks as he glanced away from her. His apparent nervousness was causing her to feel awkward, and she felt her own cheeks heat up. He spoke again before she could answer, though.

“I would like ask you if I may court you, properly," he stated, his eyes locking with hers. Senka was genuinely surprised, and she felt her eyes widen at the statement. He wanted to court her? Her? “Ah, you do not have to answer now, if you don't desire. I am willing to wait," he stated, taking a step back as if to give her some space. She appreciated the thought, because she wasn't entirely sure what was wrong with her chest. Her heart was beating rather fast, and it felt like her stomach was doing strange flips, again.

“I'm... flattered, really, Lord Goneril. May I have time to think about it?" she asked, watching as his expression shifted into one of hope. He smiled and nodded his head.

“Of course. Please, take your time. If you must leave Derdriu before you find an answer, please write to me once you do. It would bring me nothing but joy if it were a favorable response, but I will not harbor any ill-thoughts against you if it is not. I wish only the best for you, Senka. May... I call you that? Senka?" he asked. It was so genuine, and so... tender? She didn't know the word for it, and could only nod. He smiled once more before he bowed.

“I will have dinner with you tonight, if you'd like, Duke Goneril." Senka supposed it wouldn't hurt. His smile brightened more, and it made Senka think of the way Amalthea usually brightened. As if something were fascinating and worth smiling about. She was having a hard time believing that he was smiling because of her, though.

“Nothing would please me more, however; if you'd like, you may call me Alaric. I feel like it wouldn't put such a boundary between us," he stated. Senka blinked, swallowed thickly, and nodded. It was the only thing she could do since her words seemed to fail her. He bid farewell to her after that, leaving Senka to her thoughts. Libi stuck his head out of his stall, though, and nickered in her direction. She smiled at him, and laid a hand on his snout, rubbing it gently as she lost herself in her thoughts.

Why would he be interested in her? She was, for all he knew, just a schoolmate of Mercer's. Despite Vridel and Cyril's words, she didn't feel particularly attractive, so what would Duke Goneril gain by trying to pursue her? It didn't make sense. Some, strange, hopeful part of her, though, thought that maybe it was genuine. That he saw her and nothing else, and wanted the chance to be with her. Senka was touched, she really was, but... she felt confused. If she did agree to allow Alaric to court her, where would that leave her friends? Cyril?

That thought alone surprised her. Cyril was her teacher. Why should that matter? Why did that matter? Libi pushed her hand gently with his snout, calling her attention back to him. He snorted softly and she smiled in response. It was getting a little easier to do that, lately: smile. Senka thought that her friends were the root cause of it. They had made her... well, happy was too mild of a word to use. She loved them dearly for what they did to her, how they were bringing her back ever so close to her old self.

“What should I do?" she murmured, leaning to place her forehead against Libi's snout.

A soft humming alerted her to the fact that someone else was heading into the barn; oddly it seemed to be someone familiar to their animals, because several more heads popped over stall doors, as if in anticipation of something. The barn door on the far end slid open gently on its hinges, and then Cyril stepped through, leaving it open to the sunshine and breeze behind him. He had a large bale of hay slung over one shoulder and an oversized bucket of fish in the other—sure enough, he was the source of the humming, some gentle tune she didn't recognize. It could have been a lullaby, even, but perhaps he'd just slowed down something a little faster.

It ceased as soon as he spotted her and realized he was not alone, but he didn't seem startled. Instead, his expression softened slightly. “Good morning, Senka," he said, as if it were any ordinary day at the monastery and she'd arrived early to the classroom. He was dressed in the same manner as usual for their days off—a black and white tunic, black trousers, and boots. The tunic was short-sleeved in concession to the weather, and there were pieces of hay in his hair, but otherwise it could have been a morning at Garreg Mach.

“Come to take a ride? I hear the Duke's property has some nice scenery, and trails." He set the bale and bucket down, breaking the wire holding the former together with his hands and separating it out into flakes in preparation to feed the horses. “I can have Libi's ready for him if you'd prefer to get him some exercise first?" He paused long enough to look over at her inquiringly, one eyebrow slightly raised over the other.

Seeing him always made her feel strangely comfortable. Every little thing that she nitpicked about herself seemed to disappear whenever he was around, and she couldn't help the little smile that appeared on her face. “Ah, not exactly. I was just checking up on Libi to make sure he was doing alright and..." she paused and furrowed her brows, “I ran into Al—Duke Goneril." She corrected herself before she said his name. She didn't know why she didn't want to say it. It was, after all, just that: a name.

“You have hay stuck in your hair," she stated, pointing to a few pieces that seemed to stick out more than others. It was rather, dare she say, cute. She never really thought about Cyril that way, but the way he was now... it made her feel warm inside. She couldn't explain why, so she just smiled.

“Of course I do." Somehow, he managed with very little actual expression to convey the impression of rolling his eyes, and reached up with one hand, brushing it carelessly back and forth through his hair. Most of the hay fell out, but he definitely missed a few bits, and in the process mussed his hair, which was unruly at the best of times. It now stuck out in all directions, save the one piece that still managed to fall in front of his face.

“Did I get it?"

Senka laughed lightly, and shook her head. “No, you didn't," she replied, stepping closer to him for a moment. She reached up, hesitantly at first, almost unsure of herself before she ran her hands through his hair. She pulled the rest of the bits from his hair before running her fingers through it one last time to straighten it out. It would likely get messed up again, but at least now he didn't have to worry about there being hay in his hair.

His hair was softer than it looked, almost downy in its texture, and largely free of tangles despite the careless treatment he'd given it. He was quite quiet as she worked, tipping his chin down as if to make it simpler for her.

“There. Better," she spoke once she was sure she took everything out. “Now you look more presentable," she added blinking slowly before she pursed her lips together. She remained quiet for a few moments, debating whether or not she wanted to ask him something. She decided she wanted to, and glanced in his direction to meet his gaze. “May I ask your opinion on something, Cyril?" she decided to ask. She wanted to know what he would think of Duke Goneril and his... well, what he'd asked her, earlier.

He'd huffed quietly at the word 'presentable,' a vaguely-skeptical expression on his face, but it disappeared when the subject changed, and he tilted his head slightly to the side. “Always," he replied simply. “What is it?"

She opened her mouth to reply, however; she found she couldn't say the words she wanted to. Perhaps because she didn't know how to word them. Instead, she chewed the bottom of her lip, thoughtfully, before she came to a conclusion. “Duke Goneril wishes to court me," she spoke softly, and turned her gaze towards the floor.

“He is very kind, and nice, but... I don't... know." She truly did believe he was a nice person, but she didn't understand why he wanted to court her. Courtship usually meant that the interested party would eventually seek marriage. Senka wasn't too sure if she would want to marry someone who saw her, but didn't know her. “You know parts of my history, and you know who I am, but Duke Goneril does not. I... don't want to deceive him that way, but I also don't want him to be interested in someone who... possibly couldn't return what he wants. What... what would you do?"

Cyril clearly considered this for some time, his own lips pursing faintly. “This seems like the kind of thing worth a longer discussion," he admitted. “Do you mind if I feed everyone while I think about it? Then maybe we could take Libi and Sterling out for some exercise? I'd like to ask you some things before I answer, if you'd be all right with that."

“Of course," she replied. She valued Cyril's opinion, and if he had to think about the answer he wanted to give her, or ask her things in turn, she would gladly wait. And she did. She waited until he fed the animals which took almost half an hour. She didn't mind, though, since she said she would wait. Once she had Libi saddled, and she led the black gelding out of his stall, and mounted with relative ease. Libi seemed rather happy to be out of his stall, and merely snorted, pawing the ground almost impatiently. She supposed he enjoyed their walks as much as she did.

“I am ready when you are," she stated, glancing back towards Cyril.

He swung astride Sterling, one of the other Barn C residents at the monastery. The mare was one of those hotblooded Imperial sorts, with a deep grey-blue dappled coat and a silver mane and tail. She was a spirited horse—too much so for most riders, but she seemed to quite like Cyril, so he was usually the one who exercised her, since all of the grooms and most of the knights were wary of the fact that she tended to bite.

Gathering up the reins—he preferred an unusual, bitless bridle configuration—he steered her out of the barn, then waited for Senka and Libi to draw even before nudging her forward again. He seemed to have some idea where the trails went, because he pointed them down one without hesitating, heading for a copse of trees.

When they'd been walking for a few minutes, he turned to regard her evenly for a moment, expression thoughtful. “Do you want to be courted, Senka?" he asked. “Forget the who, for a moment. Is the what of it something you have any interest in?"

Perhaps, at one time she did. The idea of being courted by someone that had, perhaps, loved her, was something she had thought about when she was younger. It was childish of her to think so, but when she looked at her parents, she'd always wanted something like that.

“I did," she finally answered after a few minutes of silence. “When I was still Princess of Duscur, I always thought... that it would be nice. To find someone like that who could be... I don't know," she pursed her lips together and furrowed her brows. “But I think that is no longer available to me. Why would anyone want to court someone like me? I'm..." she paused, feeling a strange lump in her throat as she sighed softly. “I'm afraid of it. If someone found out who I was, I don't think they would want to court me at all. And... I'm scared of that."

Duke Goneril seemed like a genuinely nice person, who could be a good person to someone he eventually loved, but Senka couldn't picture herself as being that person. And she didn't want to do that to him. He has been nothing but kind to her since their arrival. It was though Cyril said, even if it wasn't Duke Goneril, Senka had a hard time believing that anyone would want to court her, and not hate her if they found out who she was.

Cyril considered this for a moment. “I didn't ask if you thought it was available to you," he pointed out gently, “only if it was something you would want." They emerged from the copse of trees, and suddenly the ocean and sky filled the horizon. There was a beach just a little ways ahead, a long, unoccupied stretch of sand without so much as a dock on it.

“For what it's worth..." he paused, steering them onto the sand before continuing. “I'm just a commoner, so maybe I don't know much about these things, but—I don't think any less of you for being from Duscur. I can't imagine I'm somehow unique. In fact I know I'm not. Vridel clearly doesn't, nor does Sorcha, and I have every confidence that the others wouldn't either."

But didn't he know that he was unique? That he was the exception to all of it? He didn't think any less of her for being from Duscur because he was a mercenary. He didn't have ties to any of the three kingdoms in Fódlan, so how could he have an actual opinion on her?

“Thank you for saying that, Cyril. It means a lot, it really does, but," she paused to sigh softly. “Things are a bit more complicated than that. And to answer your question, yes. It is something I want..." but it wasn't something she could have. She chanced a glance at him, and turned her attention back to the scenery in front of her. The ocean was beautiful, clear and full of life, it seemed. She gripped the reins a little tighter before she turned her attention back to Cyril.

“I suppose that is why I agreed to have dinner with him. Maybe... maybe this could be," she wasn't sure what it could be. This was a chance to get to know him, and he would get to know her. Maybe something would come of it. Maybe nothing would. “It couldn't hurt to try, right?"

“I don't think it would in this case, no," Cyril replied slowly. Sterling tossed her head, dancing sideways a little as they approached the waves, but he hardly seemed to notice, keeping his seat as a matter of reflex rather than conscious decision, by the look of it. “I don't know the Duke well, but he seems a decent man, and I doubt Mercer would be friends with anyone who wasn't. He's a good judge of character, in that way."

He regarded her steadily as their path took them close enough to the ocean for the waves to wet the horses' hooves before turning parallel to the waterline. “So if you don't mind the what, then I suppose the question is... how do you feel about the who?" He blinked. “Not that I think you need to have any definitive answers; you barely know him, after all." He shook his head.

“I'd be... cautious, if he was declaring love at first sight or something like that. I've never known anyone to say that and really mean it. But somehow I don't suppose it's that, right?"

Senka huffed a little before she started laughing lightly. “No, I do not believe that it is anything like that. Father used to tell me, though, that he fell in love with mother at first sight," she stated, smiling a little at the thought. “I think he was just spinning tales about it, but he really did love her. As for the who," she had to pause, and pursed her lips together. Who would she want to court her?

“Well, I suppose someone like you," or even Vridel, for that matter. They were all so nice to her, and treated her as if she were actually worth something. Nevermind that they were her friends.

His eyes widened slightly at that, before he shifted them away from her and towards the ocean. “That's... not exactly what I meant," he murmured. There was something almost slightly... thicker about his tone, though it was hard to identify, and he cleared his throat anyway, rendering the point a rather moot one. “Maybe, uh—" He seemed a bit lost, and when he turned back to face her, there seemed to be just the faintest hint of color to his skin. It was warm out, but the expression he was making was a bit unusual, too, almost as if he were slightly flustered.

“Never mind. It seems to me that if it's something you want and someone you think could potentially be a good fit, well... why not at least give dinner a try? It's not—it's not like you have to decide right then. But if you don't try, you won't know, right?"

“It would be worth a try," she admitted, unable to meet his gaze for some reason. She didn't understand it, herself, but she could feel her cheeks warm lightly. “Thank you, Cyril, for listening to... my... dilemmas. If you do not mind, I'd... like to speak about it with you again. I value your insight and your company a great deal."

“Of course," he said quietly. The request somehow pulled another one of those little smiles from him. “I'm here for you, Senka. Whatever you'd like to talk about."

Tilting his head, he smiled a touch more. “Should we let them run for a bit? The sand should be good exercise."

She nodded her head; that sounded like a good idea, and so she spurred Libi forward.

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