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Althaea

The Crimson Fox

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a part of Althaea, by Maree.

A tavern owned by Selwyn Austaire, the Magistrate of the Merchant District and holder of the Merchant Throne.

MidnightNoir holds sovereignty over The Crimson Fox, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Setting

A tavern owned by Selwyn Austaire, the Magistrate of the Merchant District and holder of the Merchant Throne.
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The Crimson Fox

A tavern owned by Selwyn Austaire, the Magistrate of the Merchant District and holder of the Merchant Throne.

Minimap

The Crimson Fox is a part of The Merchant Ward.

8 Characters Here

Cordelia Ightlor [21] A knight in the God-Queen's army and a devout follower of Her Holiness.
Selwyn Austaire [21] Magistrate of the Merchant Ward and throne holder in Iracot. Lives by the words, "Wit and Cunning Above All Else."
The God-Queen's Knights [18] "We serve the God-Queen, and her eternal vigil guides our hands."
Ianthe al-D'éon Omar [14] A traveler with uncertain motivations
Melody Graven [1] A Musician who's more than she seems
Sven Khagal [1] A merchant whose sole goal is to make sure that his group of stray children live to see the next day.
Magnus Ightlor [1] A knight in the God-Queen's army and a devout follower of Her Holiness.
Shiabiann Xao-Lai [1] Magistrate of the Pleasure District and holder of a throne in Iracot. Devout servant of the God-Queen Sarene.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Magnus Ightlor Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Sven Khagal Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Melody Graven
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It was the night of the sacrifice. Things that day most certainly did not go as planned; the young blue haired Knight known as Orfea Pathen disrespected the God-Queen, a man with power of flame rescued her upon a great magical beast, and the city of Iracot was in slight disarray. Despite Selwyn's best efforts to quell the masses, he knew change was coming. Between the whispers of rebellion coming from the nighttime rendezvous of the Agricultural Ward as well as the black market running in full effect, the Magistrate had much to plan for. One thing he could be thankful for was his network of spies all over the city. He had always found a way to keep his ear to the ground. But for now, for tonight, it wasn't about that. Tonight was a celebration for the Knights and upper-classmen of Iracot from the days' events.

The Crimson Fox was breathtaking. The rich oakwood walls were adorned with crimson banners lined with silver stitching. Various pieces of artwork featuring foxes were scattered all across the elegant candlelit tavern. There were some noblemen sitting at a few tables near the tavern's entrance, drinking the finest Elven Sunwine being brought to them by gorgeous female servers that could best the girls of the Pleasure Ward any day. The bar sat in the middle of the tavern, raised up by a few stairs all around the perimeter as the divine sounds of a string quartet rang throughout the room. Several large men of varying races stood off to the side, almost invisible to the naked eye, playing security should anything ever go awry. Though tonight, they wouldn't be necessary. Not with the plentiful sounds of laughter and glasses clinking filling the air.

Selwyn Austaire was slowly walking around his room sporting that trademark grin of his, eyeing his patrons with his chestnut brown gaze. His hands were crossed behind his back, as per usual, as he stopped and greeted some of the city's more well off. He was clothed now in an outfit of black with crimson and silver stitching, with his long overcoat nearly reaching the floor. The silver beltbuckle of a Fox's head reflected the lights of the candles, giving it an almost magical, playful sparkle.

The Knights would be arriving very soon, and Selwyn wanted to make sure they enjoyed themselves. He needed to keep them happy for now until he had a firmer grasp as to what was going on in his city. Shiabiann and him would discuss with the other Magistrates what their next step was tomorrow.

The man stepped over to the quartet in the corner and whispered a few words to them before reaching his cordoned off private area which was elevated on a platform just behind the bar. The band was instructed to keep the mood elevated and light and fun upon the arrival of the warriors.

A server brought Selwyn a glass of water which he took with a nod and a smile, letting a sip flow past his lips while waiting for his guests of honor.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire
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#, as written by Maree
Cordelia entered into the Crimson Fox, having gotten the night off from serving her duties earlier in the day. She was dressed in a simple white tunic and soft leather breeches. It was the way a man would dress but it did not perturb Cordelia in the least to wear a tunic and breeches. Her golden hair had been let down to curl wildly around her shoulders instead of pinned up tightly against her skull.

The knight was by far one of the more undressed patrons but it made her no less lovely. A few men approached Cordelia, offering salutes from those that were comrades, and some took her hand to introduce themselves. It made the woman blush but she handled the attention well. It was no surprise seeing as the Ightlor family was nobility in Iracot and one of the oldest lineages recorded in Viridian. There was very potent blood running through the woman's veins.

As her ice-blue eyes darted around the room, Cordelia looked up and spotted Selwyn. She immediately looked away and dismissed herself from the gentlemen attempting to hold conversation with her. The woman's heart began to pound nervously in her chest. He might not have seen her.

No, it was an impossibility that the Magistrate saw her. After all, Cordelia was nothing more than a simple woman that was above the average in attractiveness. There were ladies here that were far more beautiful in their stunning frocks and impossible hair. Cordelia looked like a stable page against the other women.

She began to question her dress for the evening and thought it an embarrassment for Selwyn. Cordelia weaved her way back through the crowds, making her way toward the door to leave. She would come back later when she was properly dressed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire
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Selwyn noticed the stunning blonde from the moment she walked in. He set down his glass and calmly rose from his seat. Making his way to the bar, he retrieved two glasses of Sunwine and headed to the entrance of his tavern. As Cordelia turned towards the door, Selwyn rose a glass to his lips, staring into her icy blue eyes with his impossibly deep brown ones. He swallowed the wine before smiling.

"Cordelia Ightlor. You look nothing short of divine this evening. A Magistrate would give up his throne to be simply graced by your presence, my lady."

He handed the glass to the woman.

"It is my pleasure to be your host tonight," he whispered before taking her free hand gently into his and raising it to his lips, never breaking eye contact as he kissed it softly. Selwyn tilted his head slightly and admired the woman's face for a moment. She truly was beautiful. Her aura was enough to make a lesser man stumble to find words. Selwyn instead simply raised his glass, never being one to lack confidence...especially with words.

"Tonight, I drink to you, Cordelia," he scanned her face for a reaction. "To you, and the rest of your brothers and sisters in the God-Queen's army!"

He took another small sip of his wine.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire
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#, as written by Maree
"Magistrate," Cordelia said as the man stepped in front of her. She had been stopped dead in her tracks in escaping. "You flatter me," the woman said as a deep blush rose up on her cheeks. As Selwyn handed Cordelia the glass, she took it automatically, not wanting to offend him and his hospitality.

It took all Cordelia's strength to not crumble at the knees when the Magistrate graced her hand with a kiss. She bit down on her bottom lip to hold back any sound that would betray her thoughts of him right at that moment.

"Th-thank you Magistrate. I am greatly honored by your kindness. Praise be to the God-Queen and her Magistrates," Cordelia said, fumbling for words. She must have looked like a fool in front of Selwyn. Cordelia smiled nervously and drank deeply from her wine glass. When she set it down on a tray held by a passing servant it was completely empty of wine.

"I won't take up any more of your time, Magistrate. I know that you are a popular man and there are many people here that wish to speak with you," Cordelia said, knowing that Selwyn wouldn't possibly be interested in spending any great length of time with her. She was giving him an easy out so that he didn't appear rude in front of all of his guests.

"The wine was wonderful and your tavern looks splendid. Thank you again for inviting me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire
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Selwyn bowed deeply to the woman. "Your compliments are greatly appreciated, my dear. And yes, you are correct. There are many people here that wish to speak to me," he paused for a moment before leaning in close to Cordelia's ear and letting out a soft whisper. "I, however, wish to speak with you, Cordelia." The man allowed his lips to gently graze her ear before moving away from her face.

He took another glass of wine off a tray and offered it to the Knight.

"Please. Join me where it is not quite so loud," the Magistrate spoke as he walked towards his private cordoned off area without bothering to look back. He knew she would follow, and he smirked, delighted at the thought.

Selwyn pulled out a chair at a small ornately decorated table in the back of the immaculate tavern. He waited for the girl to be seated and pushed in her chair, letting his fingers brush across her shoulders before making his way over to his seat. With a flourish of his jacket, he eased into his spot and took a sip of the sunwine.

The Magistrate tended to move with a grace and calculation that made it appear as if it every small move, every facial expression, every gesture, were all rehearsed or choreographed. While others held power in their magical abilities or fighting skills, Selwyn Austaire's power came from not from his sword or size or spellcraft, but from his skill with people, and his presence.

He studied Cordelia Ightlor's face for a moment, letting his thoughts wander to his bedchambers momentarily before taking a sip of wine and letting a smile form on his face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Ianthe had been away from Iracot for a very, very long time. It was not exactly a city he enjoyed. Of course, it was beautiful, of course, it was grand, for course, it was marvelous, imperial, magnificent to behold, of course, of course! Gilded cornices, regal spires, broad avenues shaded with ancient arbors, august palaces and splendid squares. At night, illuminated with a thousand-thousand lights and shining votives, it was like some great cathedral, like the many pipes of some tremendous organ rung at once. The food was delectable, the climate more clement than most...but Ianthe had far too many memories here, most, if not all, unpleasant. In his experience, he had found the people to be...insincere, disagreeable. Perhaps even hostile. And, of course, there was the God-Queen. Try as dearly as he might, Ianthe could never come to an understanding with zealots or radicals, in whatever manifestations they might appear. Whenever he had seen the God-Queen speak, he was less overcome with reverent fervor than with wondering what she was saying, since he was inevitably left at the rear of the crowd of devout disciples.

Of course, these things were changing. The city was restless, and in some, more clandestine places, rebellion was the word of the hour. But the imbroglio had somewhat boiled off, and the status quo, which had been momentarily tipped off balance, was beginning to right itself. Or was it? If Ianthe had learned anything in his life, it was not to take appearances for granted. Undoubtedly, the city was moving, and change, whether significant or slight, was very near on the horizon. What an interesting time to be in Iracot, neh?

After digging around in the city, and gathering what intelligence he could, however, Ianthe was more than a little fatigued. Though many roads had worn his feet raw, the uneven cobblestones of Iracot always left behind a particular ache. At dusk he reached the merchant quarter, somewhere he had been reluctant to go, but where he would undoubtedly find lodgings for the night. He wore long black breaches tucked into tooled leather boots, a modest white tunic, and a grey velvet mantle under which he carried his bodkin, purse, and some other essentials. A simple cap, cocked to one side, sat upon his head. For a moment, he had the phantom fear that someone might recognize him; but thirteen years had done much to his countenance, and Ianthe walked the streets with all the confidence of a changed man. Besides, Ianthe mused, people have remarkably short memories.

Eventually, Ianthe came upon the Crimson Fox, an establishment he thought to be relatively new, and decided to try his luck there. Immediately he was greeted with the ring of toasting glasses, laughing voices, and the soft strains of a chamber orchestra. It was no lowly public house, to be sure. The interior was richly ornamented, with crimson pennants lining the oaken walls and paintings of foxes where they did not hang. The Crimson Fox certainly lives up to its namesake. Observing the patrons, it appeared to be a haunt of the city's affluent. He saw more than a few ermine cloaks, cloth-of-gold sashes, and velvet doublets. He half expected to see the Magistrate of the Merchant Quarter himself at the tables, quaffing Sunwine or some Estisian brandy. He elbowed up to the bar, which was elevated in the center of the room, and asked for a cup of rice wine and, if they had any, some capon with roasted onions. The waitress was a charming young girl, perhaps not yet twenty, with honey-blonde hair and soft hazel eyes. "Excuse me, miss, might I be able to take lodgings here?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire
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#, as written by Maree
Why was the Magistrate torturing her like this, Cordelia wondered to herself as she sat down in the offered seat. Her wine glass was empty once more. The woman had drained it while being escorted through the tavern. Several pairs of jealous eyes had watched Cordelia following Selwyn. She had attempted to ignore them all but it was so obvious their dislike of Selwyn's attention on Cordelia.

"Magistrate, with no disrespect to your station, I have to wonder..." Cordelia said noticing the way that Selwyn was eyeing her. It caused a momentary lapse in her speech. Selwyn's eyes on her in such a manner caused desires to swarm up and slither down her front. There was a definite and prominent ache in her body causing Cordelia the need to shift in her seat.

"Your recent attentions seem to have been clearly on me, Magistrate, and it leaves me to wonder the reason. Have you some business that you wish to discuss?" Cordelia asked. She would never ask him if he was intentionally courting her, or even just trying to get the woman into his bed for an evening. It was unladylike.

Though if it were the truth of it, Cordelia would not be against either. Her mother would be appalled to think of Cordelia having relations with a man, a Magistrate no less, before marriage. However, Selwyn was a man to lust after. From his appearance to his power, his silver tongue and even to his accounts, Selwyn was desirable. Cordelia was not immune to such an eligible man.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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"Fuck me", cries out Calvin as he rushes through the streets of Iracot. Night had fallen, and he was trying to hurry but not hurry and pull his friend, Naya, along at the same time. "Damn it all," he rumbles again, drawing the amused eyes of passerbys.

He had waited too long, he felt. He wanted to show up 'fashionably late' and surprise Cordelia and the Magistrate, and he wanted to look his best when he did so. Turns out even men can spend far too much time on their clothing. Before he knew it, the sun had almost set, and he had to make it there without smell of a horse, or sweat.

He was extravagantly dressed, for a Knight; wearing a dress plate of gold chainmail, over which the Tabard of Iracot was proudly worn, all of his underclothes were black silk. Naya was similarly dressed, though less flamboyant with it, wearing a simple black undersuit with a gray dress, and a silver lined tabard of Iracot. Even at a party, Calvin felt they should represent the Knights.

Plus, it would help him be all manner of disruptive.

"Calm down," Naya orders firmly behind him. She was a very cold person, when she felt the need. "And slow down, too. I do not wish to hasten my time in arriving to this... function." Naya had never been prone to go to parties and the like, especially with her former life of living on scraps. It seemed so decadent.

"I was asked to keep an eye on Cordelia," Calvin replies as they come within sight of the Crimson Fox. "And I'll be damned if I let some Magistrate break my oath!"

Coming to a full stop in front of the doors, Calvin straightens his Tabard and steps inside, pulling Naya with him.

The party was as extravagant as he had expected it to be; gorgeous women, strong, tasteful drinks, and all the highest nobility of Iracot. If he were a humble man, being here would have made him distinctly uncomfortable. That was not the case.

Naya, of course, was. But as long as she stayed with Calvin, she'd at least have a friend. Naturally, he had other plans. "Alright, I'm going to go find this Magistrate... you keep an eye out for Cordelia, and keep her in the open if you find her." He claps Naya on the shoulder before rushing into the crowds.

Naya, standing near the door, cast adrift, looks around hopelessly at her new surroundings. She was an attractive woman, but her dress made her stand out like a sore thumb, as did her curious silver hair. Swallowing her fears, she begins to make her way towards a secluded table.


Calvin hadn't played the political game before, so his blunt questions of 'Hey, where's the Magistrate' were usually met with disdain. Eventually, he pulls out his trump card, asking one of the serving girls with a charming smile on his face; "Where is the Magistrate? I am here representing Knight-Commander Gabriel, if you've heard of him..." It achieved the desired affect, pulling an authority he didn't have, and he is directed to a back room.

Once there, he peers inside and can't suppress a grin. Adjusting his tunic to look very official, jogging in place for a moment to look tired, and finally ruffling his hair a little bit- for that perfect mix of 'just arrived with an important message' and 'roguish looks', he trots into the room. "There you are, Magistrate," he cries out. "I have a message for you from Knight-Commander... Oh!" He says, with mock surprise, 'spotting' Cordelia. "Am I interrupting?"

He hoped he nailed it as well as he felt he did.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Noticing her again empty glass, Selwyn reached for the bottle on the table and filled it. She was right to be curious. The man had indeed taken an interest in her. Who wouldn't? She was beautiful, a skilled fighter, and of noble birth. And though the Magistrate knew he could have any woman in Iracot, his desires were geared towards her. He wasn't quite sure why himself, but none of these thoughts betrayed the look of comfort and confidence on his smiling face. He took another sip of his wine and leaned in close to the Knight, noting how the candles lit on the table played off her sparking blue eyes.

"I admire your fortitude, Cordelia Ightlor," he grinned, "however all 'business', as you put it, will be discussed in good time."

Selwyn placed a hand on her cheek and gently caressed it with his thumb, noting every movement she made upon his touch. He kept his eyes on hers, staring straight into her soul.

"Tonight is not about business," the Magistrate slowly moved his head in towards hers, mere centimeters from their lips touching.

"Tonight is about pleasure," he cooed, and with that, he allowed just the softest, smallest touch of their lips. Suddenly the door burst open to reveal Calvin, yet another of the God-Queen's Knights, seemingly disheveled, yet dressed appropriately for the party.

Supposedly, the Knight had a message from Gabriel Evictus, the Dragon Lord himself, for the Magistrate. Selwyn slowly rose from his seat with a smile on his face, walking slowly towards Calvin, speaking calmly as he paced towards the Knight.

"Ah, Calvin Hammond. So glad you can attend my party here in honor of you and your brotherhood." The Magistrate placed a hand on Calvin's shoulder.

"As for this, 'urgent message' from the Dragon Lord, Gabriel Evictus himself. Please, do share. I am sure it's nothing so important, so pressing, that my time with Cordelia here need be interrupted," he turned his gaze to the woman at the table momentarily, showing off his impeccably charming smile before returning his attention onto Calvin.

"After all, if it indeed was that urgent, as you said, I doubt you would have had time to get yourself ready for such an elaborate gathering in the equally as elaborate clothing and armor you are currently adorned in," Selwyn paced around behind Calvin, circling the man like a Shark would its prey.

"No, of course not. The Knight-Commander would have had you come directly to me, the Magistrate of the Merchant Ward and Throne Holder in Iracot immediately following your shift."

Selwyn smirked, calling Calvin on his bluff. He vaguely knew of the man's interests in Cordelia, but this display certainly confirmed it. Playing into this little 'game' is what Selwyn lived for. It's how he rose to power. The words "Wit and Cunning Above All Else" lay on a banner in the main room of the tavern. Few were ever as matched as him in battles of the mind, of the wits. One person being Shiabiann Xao-Lai, with whom Selwyn had much respect for, although he masked it as much as possible.

He offered a deep bow, "Please, as my guest I urge you to enjoy the fruits of the evening. The Sunwine is the finest in Viridian, possibly Althaea. Though if you prefer a nice ale, the Crimson Fox does house it's own brewery beneath the premises. I would be most pleased if you would take home a barrel for yourself," the Magistrate spoke with conviction. There would be no more interruption from Calvin tonight.

Yet just to add insult to injury, Selwyn made one final comment to the Knight.

"And Calvin," he smirked, "the outfit does look dashing on you."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Ianthe let out a small sigh of disappointment at the girl's answer. Though, perhaps, he expected as much. He'd have to trudge around the streets some more to find an establishment that would let its rooms to travelers, and he knew, of course, how difficult that would be. A city as big as this was always full up. You were a damn fool for waiting this late anyway, he chided himself. He knew, from his many journeys, that a hermitage from the road, some place to pass the night, whether it be an inn, a straw mat, or merely a hollow out of the wind, is a traveler's principal end. He had been too hasty, too eager, too restless. Once his feet had touched ground he had but one objective to occupy his mind. But if I must pass the night in the gutters to see to it that what you reap is what you sow, to see to it that debts are paid, he thought, savoring the cool burn of his rice wine, then I will pass the night in the gutters. It would certainly not be the first time he had done so.

The din of the party had reached a new pitch. Every patron was in their cups, regaling their compatriots with some bawdy or another, smacking the girls on the behind and teasing them with promises of what would come later, roaring with riotous laughter. Wine stained fine silks and sumptuous damasks that might be worth their wearer's weight in gold. More and more people, all aristocrats or wealthy merchants, began to pour in. Soon, Ianthe was not alone at the bar. He engaged a few of them in casual banter, sharing a story or two, wondering who had arranged this gala, what it was for, not disclosing too much about himself. He learned that Selwyn Austaire, the Magistrate of the Merchant Quarter, and proprietor of The Crimson Fox, was toasting the brave Knights for their doughty efforts in maintaining the Queen's peace that day. Ah, a Magistrate's gala. I'm beginning to wonder if I might be intruding upon something I need not be involved in. He curtly bowed out of the conversation, and, with his capon and bottle of rice wine, retired to a more secluded corner of the establishment to think. He combed his memory for some recollection of the name "Selwyn Austaire", but came up empty handed. In any case, he seemed to be more hospitable than his predecessor. I wonder what happened to the old bastard. Silas Conbar had been a shrewd, calculating man; it could not be said that he was warm, or cordial, but Ianthe had respected him all the same. Though he didn't lift a finger when...

At that moment, the guests of honor finally appeared. The man was adorned in gilded mail, over which a tabard bearing the sigil of the God-Queen's Knights was displayed. His female companion, a beauty with shimmering silver hair, was dressed more modestly: a sleek grey gown and silver embroidered tabard. By the look on her face, she's a fish out of water here. The gilded Knight, all smiles, shared a few discreet words with her before, with a confident gait, making his way into the pandemonium. The silver Knight, looking like a marooned sailor, began to eye Ianthe's corner of the room. She passed her eyes over the bar as she made her way to the secluded nook, as if searching for something. I bear the Knights no semblance of good will, Ianthe thought, fingering his beard, but I suppose there's no harm in making small talk. And, most importantly, seeing what I can find out. As she drew closer, Ianthe called out, with a slight, wry grin, "Looking for someone?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Naya, having been headed towards what she thought was relatively empty, nearly jumps out of her skin as she's addressed by the man in the curious, foreign garb. She reminded him instantly of Dravinglov; he looked like he was from the same general area, genetically speaking. It helped ease her into the fact that she had just been addressed by the man.

She was tempted to just leave it alone, ignore him. It was very tempting. But, she came here to help Calvin- and, supposedly, 'loosen up', not that she felt she needed to. So, not wishing to try shouting over the crowds, the Knight makes her way with a lithe grace towards the man, standing across from him at the table.

"Yes," she says, rather bluntly. "A... A Knight. A Friend of mine. Blond, a lot of... bust," she says, pantomiming. Naya was considerably less endowed. "May have arrived up to an hour or so ago." She stares down at the man with an intense gaze. It wasn't intentional, perse, but she felt like she was on a mission.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire
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#, as written by Maree
There was a singular moment of absolute bliss. Cordelia's heart had been pounding so fiercely she was surprised that it did not burst from her chest and land at Selwyn's feet. No man had ever attempted to kiss Cordelia before and certainly not in such a seductive manner. Her walls and barriers were broken.

The Magistrate hovered so near and the pupils of Cordelia's eyes widen so greatly that there was barely any blue left in them. She lifted her hands and ran them up the man's stomach and chest. Cordelia wished sorely that there was not clothe between her fingers and his skin. When Selwyn placed the shadow of a kiss on her lips, Cordelia's breath caught, and her fingers tightened in the man's shirt.

The fragile fantasy shattered when Calvin burst into the room. Cordelia groaned quietly at having the sensual moment with Selwyn ruined by her best friend. Having drank so much wine in such a short amount of time Cordelia did not even have the decency to cover up what she had almost been doing with the Magistrate. She dropped her hands away from Selwyn as the man rose from his seat.

Cordelia was a knight. She was an upstanding woman in society with a fantastic pedigree. But none of those things stopped her from wanting to throw a tantrum like a child in that very moment. Mentally she did so, but outwardly Cordelia just reached for her wine glass and drank from it deeply.

It was an embarrassment for Calvin to be there and for him to catch her with the Magistrate. However, there was a part of Cordelia that wished her friend would just leave. She felt robbed and deprived of intimacy with Selwyn. It didn't help that Cordelia knew that Calvin was lying. He had come here purposefully to disrupt her night. Why he did such a thing though was lost on the woman.

A twinge of anger rose in Cordelia.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Ianthe was not at all surprised with the silver Knight's brusque manner. He knew her type: driven by a indefatigable sense of duty and obligation, loyal almost to a fault, and, perhaps, a bit guarded. Not the best, necessarily, at mingling at a function such as this. Perhaps she felt it superfluous, needless; why drink the night away when there was critical work to be attended to? Of course, the world needs people like this. But some people, from time to time, need an opportunity to unwind, to enjoy themselves, whether it be by losing themselves in drink or passing the night in the chambers of a breathless young serving wench. Though Ianthe, and, he assumed, the silver Knight, preferred neither. In this regard, Ianthe thought, we are doubtless alike.

Ianthe was, however, not one to pass such quick judgments. He met her stony glare with a broad smile, "Ah, a blonde you say? I've seen more than a few, though none, as far as I know, had the look of a Knight about them. Doubtless she is hereabouts, since this is, after all, a celebration for the most esteemed Knights of our God-Queen." He lifted his cup as if in toast, but did not drink. He continued, "I know that you must presently be occupied with more important affairs, as befits one of your station, but...might I trouble you to share my company for a moment? Your compatriots will no doubt find your blonde heartily enjoying her evening, perhaps not very willing to be disturbed. And, I must confess, I am rather lonely. I have only recently come to the Merchant Quarter--I am a jeweler by trade, and dabble in some commodities as well: pelts, teak and sandalwood, damasks, fine porcelains, the like --and I'm afraid that I've not yet made a single friend. You know how "these" people can be, I'm sure...Please. I assure you I'm much more accommodating than the more...what's the word? Lascivious party goers that you are liable to encounter." With a raised eyebrow, Ianthe gestured to a bear of a man bouncing a caramel haired serving girl on his knee, one hand eagerly exploring the hidden regions beneath her skirts.
(Posting here since it ended up in space)
---

Naya wore a slightly crestfallen expression at the news that the man could provide no intelligence for her. She was very prepared to deny him her company- after all, she was a Knight, and he, while perhaps a noble in his own lands, was here merely a foreigner. Even her former life on the streets didn't put her on the same level, she felt.

Her interest was piqued when he mentioned he was a Jeweler. She was not one to be taken with jewlery- but it might help her catch a certain someone's eye...
"Jeweler," she states, trying to show interest. She pulls up the chair across from the man and sits in it, her slight form nearly consumed by the thick, lavish material. She wasn't sure she wanted to know what he meant by accommodating, judging by what his gesture was directed towards.

"Tell me of your trade," she practically demands. A social butterfly she was not. Sitting like a proper lady ought to, she unconsciously brushes the folds of her dress smooth, staring intently at her opposite.

--

Calvin had begun to sweat ever so slightly. Selwyn had him by the balls, metaphorically speaking. He'd called his every move and then some. Calvin was quite tempted to say bugger all to Honor and just take the man's offer for drink and women and be off. The only trump card Calvin had left to play was an actual message from Gabriel, and that helped keep him going- by the seat of his pants.

"W-Well, My Lord, Magistrate," he begins, trying to compose himself. "Thank you, firstly, for your generosity and understanding! And I must beg your apologies. You see," he pauses briefly. "I had taken a great deal of time preparing for this most..." he pauses again, trying to get the word.

"Auspicious occasion. As you can see, and have so generously complimented me on." He bows his head to the circling man, starting to get a slight iota of his confidence back. "Just as I was leaving, Gabriel asked me to deliver a message to you." In truth, he had been ordered to deliver the message the moment Gabriel had found out he was going, since he had been unable to catch Cordelia. Still, semantics.

"In all honesty, it's probably not even that important," he admits. And that was the truth; he genuinely had no idea what was written on the missive, which he withdraws from his tunic. It bore the symbol of Iracot, and Gabriel's personal signature. "But he did seem pretty eager for me to get it to you, and for you to read it," he says, offering it to the man with a bow.

He'd been keeping the entirety of his attention on Selwyn, not daring to look at Cordelia. He could feel her eyes burning on him, though. It was for her own good, he told himself. And for his jealousy. But mostly her own good, and Magnus' faith that he would protect her.

The contents of that missive would probably shock both of them, if either were to read it- it was brief, but to the point; 'The Wards have fallen. -Knight Commander G. Envictus.'

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Ianthe was not certain that he would be given the same treatment. Though he was hesitant to cast quick judgments, other people, certainly, and most especially in Iracot, the City of Thrones, were not. She was a Knight, a member of the elite, the sentinels of the hallowed God-Queen. And what was he, in her eyes? A stranger. An undesirable. Though well hidden, he saw the way she had regarded him, saw her reluctance, averseness, even as she herself was derelict here. Not that it mattered much. Not that any of it mattered. The lot of them could be consigned to perdition, and I would not even bat an eye. He was in Iracot out of an unfortunate necessity, and the sooner his business was settled, the sooner he would have the opportunity to depart for more agreeable regions. He would do what he must, concede to more turbulent wills, feign ignorance, go under assumed names and disguised faces; but he would never allow himself to be an object of derision again. Not in this life or the next.

But it was of no consequence. She was a Knight; ostensibly he would never encounter her again. He smiled as she cast aside her scruples and took a seat across from him. Ianthe's cover had worked, as he'd expected. He had had a friend once, when he'd lived in Sharakzah, who had been a jeweler. An oaf of a man, but gentle hearted, and with a propensity to be loose of tongue when in his cups. Though he had preferred to regale Ianthe with bawdies and tales of his wild youth (how he had had the time to learn the art of jeweling while fending off chimeras and the unrequited affections of the Mad Countess L'Agbél, Ianthe could never imagine), the man had from time to time slipped mention of his trade. Luckily, Ianthe had had his ears open. "Of course, of course, you shall know all, lady Knight, if you so desire," he began, wetting his lips with a small sip of wine; then, with a hint of cynicism that he assumed would pass unnoticed, "And, fascinating though the art of jeweling might be, the more pertinent art of conversation should first be observed! Might you have a name, my lady Knight?" With a courteous bow of his head, he said, "I am Ianthe al-D'éon Omar, of the Tchat'e people of the Glassdust Waste--a pitiless people and place, I assure you, which is precisely why I am not among the either of them." He chuckled warmly, and awaited her answer with a nibble of bread dipped in oil.

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Character Portrait: Shiabiann Xao-Lai Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire
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Selwyn had been taking great pleasure in Calvin squirming. He knew he had won this round, however had expected more to come from the young Knight who had been attempting to make his name in Iracot. Selwyn had always made it a point to keep an eye on those who showed promise in becoming a prominent figure in not only the average citizenship, but also the political and noble game of Iracot. One thing the Magistrate did not count on was the Knight actually having an actual message from Gabriel for him. He took the scroll from the young man and offered a shallow bow.

"Calvin Hammond, I thank you for your...punctuality...with the delivering of this message," he emphasized the word 'punctuality' as his hands skillfully unraveled the note. His endlessly deep chestnut eyes quickly scanned the words written in the Knight Commander's handwriting.

'The Wards have fallen. -Knight Commander G. Envictus.'

Selwyn's heart stopped in his chest. This was not good. Not good.

The magical wards had been up for centuries, if not longer, protecting Iracot from all outside invasion; magical or otherwise. If they were down, they were brought down intentionally. This was no accident or random occurence. After all, Selwyn did not believe in coincidence.

Between the whispers of rebellion coming from the Agriculture Ward, the God-Queen Sarene marrying a husband not of the Magistrates' choosing, and now this, there was much needed to be discussed between himself and Magistrate Shiabiann that could not wait until morning. Selwyn needed to speak with her. Tonight.

Despite the chaos ensuing, Selwyn's face remained in the half-smile he frequently wore, not betraying any of his true emotion. He turned to bearer of the message.

"Calvin Hammond, please enjoy the remainder of the party here at my tavern," he offered with a deep bow. "You are dismissed," ensuring the other man had left the room, he turned his attention towards Cordelia.

"My lady, please accept my sincere apologies for this inconvenience. I do hope you have been enjoying yourself, and pray to the God-Queen herself for more opportunities like this," the Magistrate moved forward to her chair and placed his hands upon hers before going down to one knee so that their gaze were level. "Unfortunately, the time for business has come far quicker than I had anticipated," Selwyn said, his eyes noting her every minor facial movement. He needed to garner more information about how the strikingly beautiful, blue-eyed Knight truly felt and where her loyalties were placed, or would potentially be placed, before he revealed too much of his true intention to her.

"I have urgent business with Magistrate Xao-Lai that cannot wait until tomorrow morning, and must travel to the castle tonight. And though I know you are off duty, and a Knight of the God-Queen's army, I also know of your tremendous skill in battle, and would like to enlist you as my personal companion for the evening," he spoke while beginning to slowly stroke the inside of her arms with his fingertips, ever so gently, smiling up at her all the while.

"As my guard, as my partner in travel, and most importantly, as someone I simply intend to spend much more time with. What say you, Cordelia Ightlor?"

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#, as written by Maree
As Selwyn and Calvin spoke to each other, Cordelia paid not one ounce of attention. Her focus was on the bottle before her. It was quite empty now and so was the glass that sat in front of Cordelia. A girlish giggle bubbled in her throat when she realized what she had done. The woman was thoroughly drunk.

Selwyn came to her and placed himself on one knee. Cordelia's eyebrows rose impossibly high onto her forehead out of curiosity. What in all of Althaea could cause a Magistrate of Iracot to go down on his knee for a simple knight? A lopsided smile spread across her face and her cheeks were as rosy as ever.

"My dear Magistrate..." Cordelia said as she boldly took his face into her hands. She hummed with laughter. "I am very drunk. Your wine was very good. Very tasteful," Cordelia said with particular emphasis. Her blue eyes scoured over the Magistrate between her hands with a untapped desire. It was pure lust she had for the man. Her tongue darted out from between her lips to make them wet.

"I must say that you are a very handsome man, Magistrate," Cordelia told Selwyn in a husky tone. "It makes me wonder what it would take to have you... Selwyn."

The woman leaned forward from her seat. Cordelia's eyes closed as she moved forward to kiss Selwyn. And yet, just before she could the woman's body went limp as she blacked out from too much drink.

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Naya's expression was hard, level, as if she intended to bore through Ianthe's skull to get him to tell her what she wanted to know. His attempts to be social with her were somewhat troubling, in her mind. She was, after all, somewhat of a shut-in.

"Naya, of the God-Queen's Knight-Legions," she replies in an even tone. It seemed Ianthe at least bore humility for his ignoble up-bringing. It was... a shock, to Naya, who too had something less than noble as a past. Clearing her throat, she tries to be a bit less stiff. "Tell me about your trade," she says again. This time it was slightly less demanding, as if she was trying desperately to sound interested, though not give away just how much.

Then, she thinks of something a little more engaging. "Do you have any with you? Jewels?" Her eyes drift down to the table, not seeing much of interest. "And... may I?" She reaches one hand with trepidation towards the bread and oil. Calvin had promised there would be good food, after all.


----


"As is my utmost duty," Calvin replies to Selwyn with another bow. He hated kissing ass, as he thought of it, but sometimes it was a necessity. He didn't even mind the sarcasm. He was very curious about what was written, but he had enough tact not to ask.

But then he was dismissed. He opens his mouth for a moment, preparing to object, but then he slumps slightly. The message must have been nothing of particular import, he feared. Then again, the Magistrate did seem a bit more reserved towards him...

"Thank you, O' gracious host and Noble Magistrate," he replies, bowing once again and trying his damndest to keep his tone as respectful as possible. Raising from his bow, he looks towards the intoxicated Cordelia. By the Queen, she's either an extreme lightweight or I got here later than I thought, he thinks to himself. He had intended to leave her with a somewhat telling remark, but didn't think it would matter much.

Turning about, he walks out the door of the private room, and through the crowd briefly... before doubling back out of sight and leaning against the side of the door, just out of sight, and his ears primed to listen.

He didn't really catch much of what was said. Selwyn's stupid, lady-slaying voice rambled on for a few moments, before Cordelia's slurring voice returned. Peeking around the corner, he could see Cordelia completely out of it.

Taking this renewed chance, he barges back into the room. "Oh, Cordelia," he cries out in exasperation, "How could you leave the Magistrate like this!" Shaking his head, he stops his rather bold stride short of walking up to the two of them, and looks between Selwyn and her. "My Lord, I must apologize profusely on her behalf... by your leave, I'll see her returned to the Knight's Barracks and admonished for disappointing you." He was playing a dangerous game, now, he felt.

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The Magistrate of the Merchant Ward now had to reassess the situation. With all these revelations mounting, he did not wish to travel to the castle alone. Of course, he could have one of his numerous spies and secret warriors spread throughout the city accompany him. After all, there was never someone so far out of reach that wasn't in his pocket whom he couldn't enlist, but that would risk revealing their identities; a play with which he wasn't sure he wanted to reveal at this time. However, now that the object of his desire (and a very well trained fighter) was drunk and unconscious in his private room in the tavern, it didn't leave him many options.

Or so Selwyn thought.

That's when Calvin had once again burst into the room. The Magistrate rose from his kneeling position slowly and turned to face the Knight.

"Calvin Hammond," he started, "were you not just dismissed? Do you truthfully feel that bursting into my private room, in my own establishment, uninvited is the way to win Cordelia's affection? Are you aware of who I am?"

For once, Selwyn did not bear a grin on his face, but rather an expressionless look of sternness. He was not mad, nor upset at all, though his tone would imply some impatience. In fact, as far as he saw it, this was a rather fortunate turn of luck for him. If he were to make Calvin Hammond feel as if he had wronged a Throne Holder in Iracot, he would have him under his thumb.

"It is you who must be admonished for your disrespect," the Magistrate said coolly. He once again paced evenly around the room, the brown depths of his eyes never leaving the Knight's face. "However, I have a different idea for your penance."

"I have business to discuss with Magistrate Shiabiann Xao-Lai at the Palace that cannot wait until morning. Seeing as how you are in armor as it is, you will accompany me as my personal guard until further notice," he authoritatively commanded, not leaving room for argument. The man's smirk began to grow on his face as he inched closer and closer towards the Knight.

"And I promise you this, if any harm befalls me whilst you are in my command, your days of looking pretty, flirting with highborn women, and earning your status shall be numbered. There may not be many in Iracot who bear the symbol of the Fox outwardly, but that certainly does not leave me friendless by any means," he whispered and paused, staring the man directly in his eyes.

Selwyn reached into his jacket and pulled out a hefty satchel of gold, pressing it into Calvin's hands.

"For your troubles, Calvin Hammond...and your discretion," the man smirked before stepping away from the Knight and clapping his hands twice. A server girl and a massive oaf of a security guard stepped into the room unnaturally fast, as if they were teleported there.

"Please ensure that Cordelia Ightlor here is seen to the finest private room we have to offer at the Crimson Fox. Stand guard outside, and leave her instruction to see me as soon as she wakes. I can be found at the Palace," his attention turned back to Calvin. "We shall take our leave immediately."

And without another word, Selwyn turned to the door and made his exit.

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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"A pleasure, Ser Naya," Ianthe said, daubing a kerchief at his mouth and with a curt inclination of his head. "A lovely name."
The Knight appeared to be feeling more comfortable in her own skin; at least, such was Ianthe's perception. Likely she was fumbling, beneath the surface, to an erroneous degree. Some are able with a blade, Ianthe thought, and others with their tongue. This one is surely not of the latter's persuasion. She's about as savvy as a plank of wood. He chuckled lowly, without thinking, but quickly caught himself, so as not to appear rude. Despite his scruples, and his predispositions, he was beginning to warm to this Naya. She is no threat to me, he speculated, at least, so long as she keeps her sword firmly sheathed. A God-Queen's Knight was certainly no milksop, and while Ianthe was rather capable with blade in hand, he was not certain that should they come to blows he would not come out sans a limb or two. Ianthe doubted that such an occasion would ever come to pass, but he had grown accustomed to considering every possibility.

She pressed him once again on the matter of jeweling, and he began to comb his memory, searching for some manner to patch what had fallen through the cracks. Of course, Naya would be no consummate authority on jeweling and all of its essentials, so he figured that his cover would hold up to her scrutiny. When the Knight reached hesitantly for a heel of bread, he nodded his head in assent, saying, "Of course, you may help yourself, my friend. And, should you desire something more substantial, I have here half a capon and roasted onions uneaten that you may indulge in. The fowl is quite exquisite, with a light touch of mace and peppercorns and the fragrance of marjoram. The chef is a prodigy." Ianthe, perhaps with the hopes that the poor thing would unwind a bit, took the amphora of rice wine and poured her a cup, which he wordlessly passed across the table before replenishing his own. "But, I digress. My apologies; now, on to the main line of inquiry," Ianthe began, running his finger along the rim of his cup.

Then, with an air that he had observed in craftsmen given the opportunity to inform the naive of the true rigors of their noble labors, "My trade is a lonely one, I confess. Many hours huddled in the back of a hot workshop, back bent, legs aching, arms spent...and, of course, one must keep one's mind as prone and sharp as castle-forged steel. But it is an art, a true art of the highest and rarest order, and one that invokes the best of all of one's faculties and resources. For instance--and I assure you that I in no way intend to impugn these noble professions--a blacksmith, should he discover some tincture of fault in a horseshoe, or a hammerhead, or, yes, even a fine shirt of mail or steel blade, must resign themselves, cursing and fuming, to begin anew. It might be at the expense of several days of work, but it can be done. The hills won't run out of iron any time soon. Similarly, a tanner, should he bodge the tooling of a pair of calfskin boots or the gilding of a sheet of cordovan, has no course but to renew their efforts. The world will not, by the God-Queen's benediction, in any foreseeable future exhaust itself of its supply of cows."

"But a gem...a gem is another matter entirely. A setting, whether of gold, silver, what have you, can of course be easily replaced. It is a trifle, inconsequential. But, a gem is a marvel, a marvel of nature, a singular phenomenon, each separate, unique. To miscut a gem is to chop down an ancient tree. It is a relic of the processes that shaped the world. Who knows, when one magnificent gem is discovered, that its equal will ever be found again? Can a fabulous emerald truly find its peer in some lesser stone? Is some shade of an agate found on the bottom of some obscure riverbed comparable to a piece of chalcedony with the most remarkable striation? I think not, and neither do my clients' purses. I have found myself in the service of emperors, princes, aristocrats, debutantes...and I must say that they are no sticklers. For their lover's cameos they expect Ilian sardonyx, for their intaglios, Nabian amethyst, for their rings and necklaces and diadems, blood rubies and turquoise and brilliant topazes. And these things cost a great deal of gold, a great deal of gold, both out of my coffers and their own. Thus, there is much riding on my ability to take a stone, a plebeian rock by all appearances, and to transform it into what they expect: a radiant piece of jewelry that will set a parlor into frenzy. It requires focus, cunning, perception, a keen eye, and, as I like to call them, 'sparrow hands'."

Ianthe paused, wetting his lips with a sip of wine, and regarded the Knight with half lidded eyes. Bravo. He hoped that that had dispelled all doubts from her mind, and, for the nonce, satisfied her curiosity. He was, truth be told, out of ammunition. Though that oaf of a man in Sharakzah, his dear friend, did leave an impression of a jeweler's craft, it was only an impression. Ianthe, though he had often found himself in front of a jeweler's counter, rarely thought to inquire about the technicalities of the workshop. Words were, however, his strong suit, and he prayed that his glib tongue had saved him in this situation. Then, he was seized with a sudden flight of fancy. Naya had asked whether he had any gems with him. No... But what better way to validate his cover? You cannot, you fool. His hand hesitantly went to the pocket beneath his mantle; he felt the thing, through the soft velvet, cool and hard, but nonetheless burning like a hot coal. It is impossible...even on the off chance she had been there, it was so long ago...she would've been only a girl...there's no way she would remember. He gave her a darting look of poorly veiled scrutiny, before taking another drink of wine in some effort to cool him down, but to no avail. Beads of sweat began to make their slow way down his brow. She must think me mad. His fingers grasped into the obscurity of the pocket, and suddenly, he felt it, as bitter and cold as ice. Always so cold. However, as soon as it was within his grasp, as soon as he felt its chill against his skin, the numb metal began to warm. She is insignificant. She has no bearing. She does not walk with you along the path. She has no place in the design, in the mission, in your destiny. To lose all for the sake of this, for some Knight of the God-Queen, for a trifle, would be a folly of follies. A chance is still a chance, no matter how slim! It smoldered like a furnace in his palm. But... Ianthe succumbed, with his broadest of smiles. Fool. "My apologies, lady Knight. I had a momentary lapse in my thinking," he began, giving a half-hearted chuckle, "You were interested in seeing an example of my craftsmanship, I seem to recall. Luckily, I have on my person perhaps my greatest achievement. A moment, pray." From beneath the grey velvet of his mantle, Ianthe extracted the thing, but for the nonce kept it hidden. His eyes darted around the tavern; no one was paying any particular attention to them, thankfully, though some eyes lingered longer than he would have liked. "If you would, please come closer; I would rather that this piece not attract any envious eyes. Pardon my frankness, but the God-Queen's Knights, despite their valiance, cannot ensure the safety of all at all hours. The eventide attracts more...fearless characters." He then, with trepidation, removed from beneath his mantle something truly remarkable: A necklace of sterling silver, hung with what was still one of the largest and most brilliant sapphires Ianthe had ever seen. You will come to regret this. The brief light of the candle revealed an endless dimension of prismatic light playing beneath its surface, almost like an opal in its luminescence. Each medallion link of the necklace was ornamented with a another sapphire, about the size of the smallest finger's nail, but gleaming still with none diminished intensity. It was breathtaking; and in all of his years Ianthe had never beheld its equal. He admired it, long and well, and he was certain that Naya did likewise; it was impossible not to be bewitched. If I had only met with those who were on the path, I never would've learned anything, never seen anything, never changed anything. I would not be here today. I would not have achieved what I have, and would have never been able to hope to achieve what I will. There is something to be learned here, but it has not yet revealed itself. Patience. Without extricating his eyes from the jewel, he asked her, lightly, "Well...what do you think?" True. But you have forgotten this: one does not bear one's heart to an enemy. Think on that.

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Calvin's plan had backfired horribly. He opens his mouth, very briefly, to protest. That would be a terrible idea however, so he closes it and bows his head in full respect. He shaped up in an instant; no longer a challenging young man, he was a Knight, who would do his duty.

He did find it amusing that the man thought his actions were for Cordelia's affections. Not that he didn't like her, of course he did, but it was more a thing of honor than anything else. Still, he could use that, another time, when he wasn't being a Magistrate's Guard.

"No harm shall befall you while I am by your side," Calvin says, with complete solemnity and honesty, kneeling before the Magistrate and placing a hand on the pommel of his blade, even as he accepted the pouch of coin with the other. "And not word nor allusion shall be made to this, henceforth." Charismatic bastard.

He worried about Cordelia's fate. She would be safe from any external threat, of that he was certain- but he didn't know if he could keep her safe from Selwyn, or himself safe from her.

He stands when Selwyn decides they would leave, falling in at his side. His shield was on his back- as it ever was- and so he was as prepared, following Selwyn. He casts about briefly for Naya, but he could not see her. A brief pang of regret reminded him he promised he would not leave her at the party, but, well, when a Magistrate ordered you to be his personal bodyguard, one did not wait.

---

Naya skipped a beat when the man actually called her Ser. While many outside the order thought the title reserved for Male knights, it was in truth an honorific for those of noble bearing, male or female. That made her warm to the man more than any compliment on her name ever could.

"Th... thank you," she says at length, both to the compliments and the offers of food. She helps herself to the food he offered, though abstained from the drink. She didn't plan to let her guard down that much.

She ate in a quiet, efficient manner, as he broke into his spiel about the works. She had seen the armorers at work, and could attest to his words; it was a mark of his skill that one cannot simply start over, as a 'lesser' craft might. She didn't want to be, but she did find herself enraptured in the speech, and soon she had almost forgotten of her food when he spoke of the sorts he made his crafts for.

When he had finished, she had a very light, almost unnoticeable smile on her face. "That is in truth fascinating," she says, trying to maintain the illusion of relative disinterest; she was in actuality completely enthralled.

"Sparrow Hands," she then asks, curious about the term as she looks at his hands. He had one in his coat, which brought her away from the simpering maid she felt she had revealed for a moment. Placing her hardened mask back on, to some degree, she looks him over briefly, looking for signs of deception or ill intent. He was nervous, clearly, but something about his posture told her it not of a hostile sort.

Snapping her eyes to his when he speaks again, she stares at him for a moment. She didn't think he was much of a threat, so she obliges and comes to stand next to him, tilting her head in curiosity as he prepares for the big reveal.

That bauble broke her flimsy charade of disinterest. Covering her mouth to lessen the shocked, awed gasp, she leans in to look upon it more closely. "It's... beautiful," she says, a word she scarcely used. She didn't dare touch it. Even if it were not his most prized craft- even if she chanced upon it lying in the road- she felt almost unworthy of it. Her eyes told all; she very much desired to have it, even to wear it for a moment, but she did not speak her desire.

In her minds eye, though, she saw herself wearing that breathtaking thing. She could woo any man she wanted wearing that, she imagined...

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Naya, and Ianthe, studied the necklace for what seemed like the course of some minutes; it was as if all the din and music and pageantry of the gala had been snuffed like a candle by the votive hush of the sapphire, for Ianthe could not perceive any of it. How often had he beheld the chromatic fire aroused to ecstasy beneath the gloss of its surface? With each turn, an infinity of lights winked upon its hard edges and angles, so that, along with the lambent glimmer of the gem's heart, it appeared as if it was ever glowing.

How often he had felt it blush within his grasp, warm to his touch, from ice to a blooming cinder. How often had he felt its bitter chill and its unyielding heat. Through years and years, upon roads and roads, through mountain, vale, wind, snow, desert, upon the sea, and under the lash of the sun, it had always been with him, a reminder, a warning, a fond memory, a curse, both a gleaming hope and utter despair. Memory is a fickle thing. No matter how one might try, like the ruins of a once great city memory dangles by time's strings; as the years process a brick is taken away here and there, then, one might see the slabs of a street removed, until it is finally not recognizable due to the choking weeds; soon, all that is left is the skeleton of the pavilions: the great pillars and their brittle foundations, and the stones, here and there, too tenacious to be taken away, crumbling into infinity in the pale glow of forgotten dignity, until, in the last, all is claimed by wind and dust.

Ianthe's memories, when he beheld the necklace, became as recent and fresh as if he had experienced them but a day past. All was drawn into relief: soft memories, hard memories, warm memories, cold memories, bitter memories, sugared memories... The sapphire brilliant about the alabaster of your tender throat...the jasmine of your midnight hair...your soft laughter...your satin lips...your cinnamon eyes in the blonde candlelight...dances and pipes and drums...our footsteps on marble floors...chamber music...your whisper like cool fire in my ears...the velvet give of your flesh on hot nights...cooling sweat...the avenue of the azaleas...the orange blossom lightness of the nape of your neck...the cold irons tearing at my wrists...laughter...your screaming...moving darkness, with a warning...the blinding sun...the city far behind me...piss soiled breeches...moving darkness, with a promise...the trill of the crows...hot light through burlap...shrunken heads...the roar of flies...the sun...the white fire of the lash on my back...

"It is singular," Ianthe replied, almost in a whisper, "in my mind, without equal in this life or the next." He cleared his throat, finally coming out of his stupor; he chuckled lightly, almost nervously, then, somewhat wistfully, "Of course, I am referring to the gem, not the setting, though it is a remarkable piece of silversmithery. But the jewel, well...it is without parallel. There are doubtless larger sapphires to be found, of course. But such remarkable quality, such remarkable beauty...as I have said, it is singular. It was bought at the going price for a gem of this size and grade...but had the broker known what was in store once it was cut, well...let us say, it might now have been decorating the neck of a princess."

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Naya could tell that Ianthe was having a much stronger feeling than she ever could when he gazed at the icon. As well he should, she imagined, having made something so beautiful with his own hands. The cost of the gem alone could have bankrupted the Knights, she felt. It crushed any hope she might have of obtaining it.

Unless she felt so inclined to try and return to her old ways.
But those days were long gone. She was Noble now, honorable. She couldn't dare to even think such things. And yet, for such a beautiful necklace...

"A princess," Naya echoes, touching the emptiness around her own neck. Such fancies didn't suit her, but a princess was the sort she might have to be to gain the affections of certain men. "It is truly a thing of..." she pauses, trying to find the words. There were few enough that she knew, and none of them gave the bauble justice. "If... if I may be so bold... might I..." her cheeks redden slightly. She couldn't believe she was about to ask that he simply hand over his greatest possession.

"No, nevermind," she decides, shaking her head and grabbing whatever item of food lay nearest, devouring it in a most un-ladylike fashion.

(Sorry for the late post; wasn't sure if I should yet or not.)

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Cordelia Ightlor Character Portrait: Selwyn Austaire Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Ianthe wet his lips with a light swig of wine, and searched Naya's visage with careful inspection. A touch of desire, perhaps? To hold it in her own hands...to feel its warmth about her own neck... And who would not be prey to such a yearning? She was, after all, still a woman, a beautiful one at that. And, Ianthe suspected, still subject to all a woman's desires. Perhaps she was imagining herself "sending a parlor into a frenzy", stunning some man she bore some obviously unrequited love. It was impossible that she had acted upon it. No...she allowed it to fester, to ripen into an obsession, a fervent, boiling passion. Perhaps she regarded his every feature with some unimaginable idolatry: the exquisite glimmer of his upper lip, the infinity of his eyelashes, his effortless curls, the tautness of his breeches, the delicious perfume of his body odor after a hard day's ride...Ianthe chuckled inwardly. However, he began to clutch the necklace with an instinctual sense of insecurity, and found himself giving her hands a quick inquiry. Quick hands, he thought, scratching his beard, "Sparrow hands".

Ianthe could always judge a man, or, in this case, a woman, by the nature of their hands. Or at least, a hasty judgement. A quick judgement. A judgement of the hidden self, of the history that is not always intelligible on the surface. A secret judgement. His were hard hands, hands bolstered with many blisters and many scars, hands weathered by the hilt of the hammer and the blade, hands honed by the edge of dirt and rock and labor. "Your hands are so soft, Innés. I love your soft hands". Naya's, though accustomed to the blade, though calloused by knighthood, were sinewy things, long and slim and efficacious and with busy fingers. Hands of a gutter hound, hands of a street urchin, the hands of one not unfamiliar with thievery. He clutched the necklace tighter.

Don't be a fool. She is a God-Queen's Knight. And yet... When has a Knight strayed away from the unsavory? They might parade around their "dignity" and "honor", and parrot their ridiculous code of chivalry, but we all know what they really are. Ianthe did not feel that he was in any particular danger from this one, considering, but he kept all avenues of possibility on the strictest watch. His suspicions were aroused again, however, by the Knight's words. She reddened, in embarrassment, at the notion, and quickly endeavored to hide it with a mouthful of capon, darting back to her seat. Ahh...right again. A chorus of shattering glass rang through the air, inciting some garbled chortling. A spry young member of the chamber orchestra had taken up his fiddle and accompanied a well hydrated tavern wench as she hiked up her skirts and began to strut upon the top of a table. The courser Knights and aristocrats, with flagons in hand, sung along in lilting unison; it was a bawdy, of course, though one well suited to the bourgeoisie..."A secret warm kiss and a bodice unclasped, a laugh and a sigh as she sits in your lap, the moonlight will shine through the velveteen gap, and the father will be mad in the morning!"

It have tarried far too long. It is well past time that I got what I wanted and left this farce behind me, Ianthe thought, and, more importantly, well past time that I found someplace to pass the night. "Ahh...you are ravished by the sapphire, eh?" Ianthe asserted, tearing off a heal of bread from the loaf; then, with a wholesome chuckle, "You are not the first that has come under its sway, nor shall you be the last, believe me! However, I must regrettably inform you that it is not for sale, at any price. Indeed, as you see, it is priceless. Nor can I lease or loan it, for it is of immense...personal value to me. I cannot bear to part with it, I fear; it would be like putting a dagger through mine own heart. Though it would look exquisite at your neck, Ser Naya, no doubt, it is intended for only one. However, I would be delighted if you would visit my workshop. My grasp upon the geography is unfortunately still unacceptably limited, but I am on...Heron Court. A few streets over from this very establishment. I'm sure you know the one. Ah, but you must stop by, if you are still set on a piece. I'm certain that something can be found to suit your fancy. Perhaps, even, a sapphire?" I pray that she does not intend to take me up on that invitation. He wordlessly replaced the necklace once more in the pocket beneath his mantle; immediately upon leaving his grasp, the warm metal began to cool.

He continued, "But, I have told you of my trade, as you requested; thus, it is only natural that you tell me of your's. There was quite a bit of disarray in the city today, was there not? Following the sacrifice, there was such a racket...brawling in the streets...breaking windows...and, some very disturbing words being flung around: 'denouncement' and 'rebellion'. Can you imagine? Well, ser Knight, has the business been put to rest? I assume it is thus, seeing as you are here, and not out there, showing the rabble the edge of your blade."

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Character Portrait: The God-Queen's Knights Character Portrait: Ianthe al-D'éon Omar
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Naya sighs somewhat as she breaks her gaze from the gorgeous stone, looking instead to the man. She tries to put on a more lady-like visage, cleaning her face of the food and sitting upright. Swallowing, she looks him in the eye for a moment, before being unable to stand that any longer. Instead she chooses his forehead. "I would love to see your other offerings," she says evenly. It would be a blessing to be away from this party, even if she did tell Calvin she would keep an eye out for their fellow Knight.

"As for my duties... I was on the morning patrols. We are not so few in number that every Knight need be on active duty every waking moment," she says, and that was a truth. "The Night Watch will find the trouble-makers, and they will be dealt with. If they cannot do so, then come morning, I will seek them out." It was a simple matter of fact.

She hadn't really been paying attention to the songs and general revelry around them. Aside from the fact that it was uproarious noise, the content was irrelevant. She also decided not to mention anything more about the beautiful gem, lest she fall into its luster again.