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Christoph Estermont

"How do we begin to covet? We begin by coveting what we see every day."

0 · 864 views · located in Tiberia

a character in “Of Glory”, as played by Scarlet Loup

Description

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"How do we begin to covet? We begin by coveting what we see every day."




The Basics




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|| Full Name ||
Christoph Frederick Estermont

|| Nicknames ||
None; most refer to him by his last name.

|| Age ||
Forty-seven

||Rank/Title ||
Count and Royal Adviser to the King of Falor

|| Sexual Orientation ||
Bisexual

|| Kingdom/Alliance ||
Falor




What's on the Outside




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|| Hair Color ||
Though his hair was once ebony in color, it has grayed severely. Few remember a time when his hair was not at least peppered with gray.

|| Eye Color ||
His eyes are bright blue.

|| Height ||
Five feet, ten inches

|| Weight ||
One hundred, forty pounds

|| Scars ||
A pampered and easy life resulted in very few scars for Christoph. The only truly noticeable scar is a cut on his left forearm from an incident years ago during a tournament in his youth.

|| Description ||
Christoph has always lacked the sturdy build of most of the nobility. Instead, he is rather skinny for his height bracket, but not necessarily in an unhealthy manner. He has simply never been a very sturdy man. His jaw is strong, perhaps one of the only traits making him look regal rather than weak. With age, his face has begun to show a few wrinkles. Still, he certainly has some fight in him. Christoph's face is often very alert even though he often does not show his true emotions. Often, he wears his facial hair in a light mustache and patch on his chin. He often dresses extravagantly in reds and blacks and adorned with rings to convey his wealth. Those who are able to read others well, however, can tell that they are merely an attempt to appear stronger than others when he is so comparably feeble.




What's on the Inside




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{Cunning, Self Absorbed, Astute, Charismatic}

One would be mistaken to assume that Christoph's charm makes him a trustworthy man. In fact, his charisma is merely a facade behind which he hides his truly sinister self. He is well-spoken, given the extensive schooling he went through as a boy, and it certainly is reflected in every moment he makes or breath his takes. They are calculated, yet they lack the coldness a truly distant person would move with. Rather, he seems quite friendly to the average person. Still, there is a certain air about him that either wards others off or draws them in. Often, he moves about the palace in an inquisitive manner, often asking many questions and appearing genuinely interested in others. Instead, he is merely keeping track of who is doing what in the world around him.

Christoph thinks long and hard before acting, yet he is often able to come to conclusions quite swiftly and accurately. His intelligence, of course, greatly helps him in thinking critically about the world around him and the decisions he must make. This astuteness is often reflected in his expression which is usually always changing as he perceives the world around him. Because of that, he often appears self-centered, which he truly is. Still, not many truly know this about him due to the facade he utilizes. Really, however, he's willing to go to whatever extent is necessary to achieve his goals.


Hobbies:
  • Playing chess
  • Reading
  • Horse-back Riding

Habits:
  • Purses his lips both when thinking and when he disapproves of something
  • Toys with the rings on his fingers

Oddities:
  • Had this been the modern age, Christoph would have most likely been diagnosed as a sociopath. Still, he does genuinely care about his children, but that may also be due to the fact that they are the ones who will be continuing his legacy upon his death.
  • He tends to grow ill after consuming alcohol, most likely due to a congenital liver disease.

Likes/Loves:
  • His Dogs - Lucius and Alba
  • Power
  • Intellectual Pursuits
  • Opulence
  • Money
Dislikes/Hates:
  • Alcohol
  • Ignorance
  • Not Having Control
  • Loud, Senseless Bickering
  • Physically Fighting




What's Done Is Done




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|| Place Of Origin ||
Falor

|| History ||
It is known to most, if not all, in Tibera that the Estermont family is perhaps the wealthiest family in Falor, constantly struggling alongside the Auclair family and the royal family itself. Therefore, it also does not come as a surprise to learn that Christoph never wanted for anything as a child. He was the third child of Raoul Estermont, following an older sister and an even older brother. There had been others, but they had all perished before Christoph's birth. In fact, it was assumed that he too would die within his first few days of life. He was a sickly child, and he hardly cried as babies ought to. Nevertheless, days turned to weeks and weeks to months. Christoph prevailed, and he slowly grew stronger. Still, he would never be outstanding in a physical sense. Rather, Christoph was blessed with a remarkable mental capacity. What his siblings lacked in intelligence, he made up for tenfold.

During his studies, he ended up meeting and befriending Cedric Brigham. The two boys were nearly inseparable, and they might as well have been brothers. He learned of Tibera's past leaders, and they fascinated him. In fact, it was more of an admiration than a fascination. From a young age, he was convinced that he would have a chance to take Falor's throne. It was not until he was about ten years old that he realized it was not his birth right, but his friend's. A seed of jealousy was planted, and though he managed to ignore it for the benefit of his friendship, it began to fester beneath the surface.

As a young man, he slowly became more physically capable. Christoph entered tournaments religiously as if they would allow him to achieve the throne he craved. Instead, he received bruises and scars. It was around this time that his elder brother perished in war, having been sent as one of the men in charge of overseeing a border skirmish with Ostwall. Suddenly, Christoph was appointed to the position of his father's heir. Though it was not a throne, it certainly eased the bitterness he had begun to fall victim to. His brother's death also made him quite aware of his mortality; however, he feared the commitment that marriage would ensue. Instead, he took up a number of affairs with women of the court. From these affairs, his children were born.

When the current queen of Seabel was born, Christoph assumed his own son would marry her, uniting the royal family and his. The king, however, believed it unfitting for his daughter to marry a bastard child. Instead, he married her to the son of House Auclair. Betrayed, Christoph grew more bitter toward the king. Still, he managed to remain the king's most trusted friend and ally. On top of his fortune, Christoph also assumed the position of royal adviser. Together, he and the king were unstoppable.

The circumstances of the king's death remain shady, but Christoph was still quiet visibly torn up by it. None can account for his activity that night. Either way, the kingdom knew business had to carry on as usual despite the death. Christoph, though he had always been quite fond of Juliana, was quick to reject her as the heir to the throne. Instead, he stood behind Lucas, for he knew that through an arranged marriage between his daughter and the boy, he would come closer to the throne. When Juliana moved to the recently-created Seabel, his son left with her. Though he certainly worries over who will take his fortune if he were to die, he has also heard of how the Queen is growing closer to his son. He can only watch and wait for the perfect time to strike as his holdings increase around him.

|| Happiest Memory ||
Receiving his deceased brother's position of heir to the Estermont fortune

|| Saddest Memory ||
Most likely, his saddest memory was the death of the last king of Falor. However, because his involvement in the death is unknown, perhaps it would be safer to say that he was most saddened by Cedric's refusal to allow Loras to marry Juliana.





Face Claim: Aidan Gillen

So begins...

Christoph Estermont's Story

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Unlike his peers, Christoph Estermont looked forward to balls and galas such as this one. He enjoyed the way people attempted to whisper, effectively spilling out secrets and gossip that truly never should have sullied the air of the ballroom. But if it hadn't, how would he enjoy himself?

He flitted about in an almost bird-like manner, dancing with a noble woman here, entertaining a group over a drink there. He fit in almost perfectly in the atmosphere. That was what made him such a formidable opponent. Christoph could wait for the moment to show itself, allow the opportunity to mature like a fine wine, and strike all before he was even noticed. It was an art he had perfected, one he had tried to teach his children since they'd learned to walk and talk.

Christoph thought of the two now - Loria and Loras. It had been two years since he'd spoken to his son. Their correspondence was brief and to the point, disclosing little more than well-wishes and bits of borrowed wisdom. But he had time to speak with Loras, and so he shrugged it off as he continued moving through the crowds, eyes darting beneath his own mask. He noted to himself that this would be his fifth, for he had attended the celebrations first as a seven year old, back when he was a scrawny young boy who the nurses hadn't expected to live. His brother had been there, as well - a strapping lad who was everything his father had wanted. What a shame he had gone and died, really, but Christoph had reckoned long ago that it was likely better for the family. Or for him, really.

He stopped now by one of the windows, enjoying the way the breeze blew into his face from the gardens, carrying the scent of so many flowers into the hall. Perhaps he'd go for a walk later, walk among the hedges and flowers. There were only so many secrets he could handle at once.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Demai
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Ris had never been the biggest fan of dances, but she couldn’t deny that this one was entertaining from the second she stepped into the ballroom by her fiance’s side. They’d been basically locked in a metaphorical closet together for the past little while in hopes of their getting along, and she hated to admit that it was working a little--the annoying kid from their younger years was growing up, and he was actually endearing. What had her life become?

In any case, she had other things to worry about right then, such as finding her brother. Her father was easy to find, he was constantly in motion. Her gaze flicked to him, and she offered up a little smile. She saw him often, as he was Lucas’ advisor, and so she soon moved on, looking with baited breath for her older brother.Image She found him dancing, and her whole expression lit up at the sight of him. She reached over, touching Lucas’ shoulder. “I’ll be right back.” She promised, and then she was gone, running towards where Loras was spinning a brunette woman around. The song switched, and the second the other woman let go of the captain of the guard, Ris was throwing her arms around him.

Loras almost stumbled when the blur of blue dress and white hair ran into him, and then he was crowing his sister’s name and plucking her straight up off the ground. They both dissolved into laughter, hugging tight to each other and marveling over how the other looked. Loras tugged on her sleeve playfully, and she whacked his shoulder in revenge. Up until that point, Loras had been dancing with various women who were not Juliana, and wishing that she or Ris were there right then. Well, the queen was present, but she was far away from him. He wondered if she remembered him... Hell. He wondered if his own father remembered him, Christoph was busy staring out at the gardens right then. Maybe he should approach him later...
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But his mind would not be worried that night. He had his sister once more, and he was there and that was enough for then. It was. “Care to dance?” He teased, and Ris gave him an terribly amused look before concern entered her gaze. She knew her brother, she knew when he was anxious or lost in thought.

“What’s the matter?” She asked quietly, and he offered up a smile, before exhaling slowly and glancing away.

“You know what’s the matter.” He murmured, and her gaze softened. They stood still together for a moment, in the middle of the dance floor, before he spun her around, catching her off guard and making her laugh. "I'll tell you everything soon." He promised. Letters were wonderful, but there was always the chance of them being read midway through transportation. Ris bit her bottom lip before nodding in agreement. They'd have time. It took moments for the two of them to start dancing again, joining the circle of skirts and laughter that spun all around the dance floor.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont
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She had honestly been worried about this day. The day that the three Kingdoms would come together and be reunited within the Western Palace. She had made sure that preparations for the ballroom were in order within a week in advance as people scurried to make sure things were done. Juliana was even more worried that her brother was going to be there, as well but maybe he wouldn't recognize her behind her mask but then again, her one of kind blonde locks of her hair might give her away. Juliana was just about ready to enter the ballroom but she was too busy outside as she paced from side to side, her mask covering her face so no one who she was.

With a slight huff, she turned heel as her body now faced the entrance of the ballroom. She walked up the stairs that led into the grand hall as she was absolutely stunned with the way everything looked. She dropped her jaw with amazement as she continued on walking through the hall. Juliana watched as people were dancing around her, chatting and laughing as she eavesdropped on a few conversations, giggling softly to herself. She loved social events such as this as her face behind the mask told the story. Her eyes wavered over everyone present as sh enjoyed their styles of choice for tonight's event. Soon, she had spotted her husband as she knew his stature and body a little too well now. As bad as she wanted to go over there and make her presence known to him, he seemed quite occupied with Lady Eleora so she decided to place herself elsewhere.

Juliana went over to the table where she grabbed herself a goblet of wine, taking a brief sip from it as she let out a sigh. She often wondered to herself why did Cyprian and Eleora get so close to one another, let alone how did they become so close. She eyed them from afar while taking brief sips from her goblet here and there. She was taken away from her thoughts as a male came up to her, as bowed and complimented her home.

She knew that voice from anywhere, let alone his blonde hair as she sat her goblet down and took his hand. "I'd love to dance with you, brother Lucas or shall I say King Lucas." She said with a smile while walking beside him towards the middle of the dance floor and started to dance with him. "You know, you don't have to dance with me to talk. Something's troubling you. I know we haven't been around each other in quite sometime but your facial expressions haven't changed." Juliana mentioned as she waited for Lucas to speak what was on his mind. No matter how much she disliked him, if her brother needed her help, she was down for helping him.


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Mary really didn't want to go to the ball tonight as she hated being around large crowds of people. Mostly because of the stares she'd get and the mutters she'd hear. But good thing about tonight is that they will be in masks and no one would know who she was exactly. But then again, what if someone did recognize her behind her mask. She stood outside of the ballroom, as the thoughts pondered within her mind. She sort of hesitated walking up the stairs before her as she tried about three times and not even making it past the first step.

She didn't want to be embarrassed. She didn't want to embarrass anyone else either, especially Christoph. Mary knew she couldn't stay outside forever so with the strength she had, she walked gracefully up the stairs as her mask shined as soon as it hit the lighting within the building. It seemed as if everyone's eyes had dawned upon her as she was flushed. Mary was asked to dance by a male dressed in black and white as she accepted his proposal and waltzed over to the dance floor with him. She danced elegantly along with the male as when the song ended, he bowed towards her as she curtsied.

"Pardon me." She told the male as she walked over towards a window to catch her breath. All of that dancing, well just that one dance, had made her a little bit tired already. Mary walked along the area where the windows were as she saw a male standing all by himself. Mary looked left then right before stepping outside and standing beside him now, enjoying the breeze that blew between them as the aroma of flowers warmed her inside. Her eyes glanced over towards the male as she knew who it was - Christoph.

"Simply memorizing, isn't it, love?" She inched closer to him now, wrapping her arm around his as she rested her head upon his arm now. Mary smiled up towards him as she loved the vibes that were being sent through her right about as her head continued to rest upon Christoph's arm now.

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Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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He turned from the window now to watch the dance floor with piqued interest. Masks at this dance were merely a formality - it was still easy to identify anyone that skirted by. He caught sight of his king without even meaning to. It was simply a habit of his to search out the teenager, ensure he was alright. Surely, Wulf was capable of watching Lucas, but sometimes swords weren’t necessary. He watched as Lucas approached his sister, another person Christoph hadn’t spoken to in the two years since Seabel seceded. Perhaps he would find her later as well.

Christoph turned from that scenario, searching instead for his own flesh and blood now. He found them easily, for Ris’s hair stood out among the nobility. It was interesting, he noted, for a man with hair that had been as dark as tar to father a child with the whitest of blonde hair. Certainly, he’d heard doubts from inner circles of nobility before, but he’d seen his daughter in action before. He knew little of her true self, but he knew enough to determine she’d acquired his knack for intellectual pursuits. He could identify a sort of pride that filled him then, and he smiled for a just a moment before turning to the window once more.

He stepped through, now, walking into the near-pitch black gardens. It was a soft, southern air that blew through the Western Palace. Once, it had been a second home to Falor’s royalty, a place to escape the chill of the Eastern Palace. Now, it had become a permanent home to Juliana’s family. It was strange to think that he’d never walk these halls of his own will again. Instead, he would only be there if accepted as a guest of Seabel’s monarchy. My, how things can change so rapidly.

Christoph approached a bush now and gripped one of the flowers by the stem to redirect it towards his nose so that he could smell it over the combined scent of the garden. As he leaned in slightly, however, he felt a hand seize around his free arm. He looked over at Mary, smiling slightly to himself as she rested against him.

”Certainly,” he agreed, gently plucking the flower he’d been holding. Christoph twirled it between his fingers now, admiring the different shades of purples and pinks that gave the exotic flower a sort of starburst pattern. He pulled away from her ever so slightly so that he could turn himself to tuck the flower behind her ear.

"Of course, not as mesmerizing as you, love." He rested a finger under her jaw so that he could tilt her head slightly upward to look him in the eyes through their masks. He leaned down slowly, closing the slight height gap between them, and kissed her on the cheek, just to the side of her mouth. Christoph smirked into her skin as he moved his lips to her mouth now, kissing her properly. He freed his arm now from her grip and placed it about her shoulders.

Christoph pulled his lips away now, but he let them hover just above hers. "Are you enjoying yourself here so far?"

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Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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A collaboration between Sunshine and Whiskey & Scarlet Loup




Mary smiled when Christoph turned to face her then stuck a flower behind her ear. The different shades of the gardens were absolutely breathtaking to her as she wondered how often the queen herself visited this part of her own Kingdom. She couldn't help but smile again when Christoph said that she was mesmerizing then placed a kiss upon her cheek, which slowly went to her own lips.

Her body trembled with absolute pleasure as she closed her eyes and to let this moment sink in. Not that it was the first time they kissed, she just loved it as to how he'd sneak it up on her sometimes. When the kiss was broken, she eyed him and her ears twitched with his question.

"Oh, you know I hate large crowds but I did dance with a gentlemen. That was nice though..." She rested her hand upon his arm and eyed him again. "He wasn't you and the dance was not as enjoyable as I made it seem." She muttered towards Christoph while picking a flower from a nearby bush and handing it to him. It was an unusal gesture from her but she placed her award winning smile upon her face as she handed it towards him.

Christoph could feel the way she shuddered under his touch, and it brought a smile to his lips now. "Well, that's good I suppose," he replied, responding to the first part of her answer. "I owe you a dance then later tonight, darling." He kissed her lips once more and then let his finger drop from under her chin so that he could accept the flower.

He twirled it about in his fingers, watching the way the colors blended with each other. "Do you know the story of this flower?" he inquired, letting the arm around her shoulders fall to her waist. His hand came to rest at the small of her back, and Christoph looked back at her now, away from the flower and its purples and pinks. Whether or not she did, it was a story he enjoyed telling, and he continued on. "The ancients used to worship it. They believed it to be sacred to their goddesses of the moon and the stars." He brushed the flower along her cheek slowly.

"The two were in love, if you could believe that." Christoph let the flower trail her jaw now, sliding down her neck gently. "In the day, the two were unable to find each other, for the sun always took up the heavens. The flowers close, and they show nothing but a pure, white exterior. Devoid of life. Oh, but at night..." Now he pulled her in, his body to hers as he held the flower between their faces.

"...at night, they would find each other once more, and the Stars would profess her love." He looked back at her once again, away from the flower now that they stood so close to each other. "And the flowers would bloom." Christoph laughed to himself, making a soft, breathy sound as he leaned in and kissed gingerly along the path he'd left against her neck.
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"A silly story, perhaps," he breathed, letting his lips brush against her collarbone now as he spoke. "But a beautiful one for a beautiful flower." His lips pursed against her skin for a heartbeat, but then he removed them once more, continuing this game of teasing he'd taken up. "For a beautiful lady, hm?" He cocked an eyebrow then, unable now to conceal the amused smirk that crossed his lips.

Mary honestly thought to herself that Christoph was going to be mad at her for dancing with someone other than him. She smiled softly when he accepted the flower and gave her a small kiss upon her lips again. Mary eyed Christoph as she parted her lips to speak. "You do indeed owe me a dance." She nudged him playfully while hearing his next question. Mary shook her head upon his question then gasped slightly when his hand reached her back. She didn't gasp from nerves, she gasped from excitement as she was really wanting to hear this story.

Once Christoph began the tale, she looked at him with an intrigued look, closing her eyes as he brushed the flower along her cheek in a slow pace. She continued to listen to the tale as the flower that was in hand continued to trace around parts of her upper body. When it reached her neck, she couldn't help but giggle softly then raised her hands up to place upon Christoph's arms when he pulled her closer towards him.

Mary eyed the flower before them then looked at him as he was done with his story. She laughed into his kisses upon her neck as she responded towards him. "The story was absolutely lovely, my dear." She breathed then let out a slight moan as his lips caressed against her skin. Mary looked at Christoph as she saw the infamous smirk of his and giggled. "Oh, Christoph. You make me feel like a treasure." She muttered while reaching down to grab his hand, raising it to her lips and kissing it, letting a finger slip into her mouth here or there.

"Maybe we should head back. Hm?" Mary adored Christoph's teasing but he must've forgot who he was indeed dealing with when it came to that aspect. She let out a small laugh as she looked up at him with innocent eyes.

"I had hoped you would enjoy it," he breathed, his arm still wrapped about her affectionately. He had little intention of letting her go, for he was truly enjoying himself out here, away from it all for just a moment. Christoph knew he'd be occupied for the greater part of the celebration - why not enjoy himself now? "Only the best for you, dearest."

Christoph laughed softly to himself as she kissed his hand lightly. His breath hitched suddenly as his finger slipped between her lips, and he grinned despite his efforts to keep his own composure. "Yes...perhaps we ought to." He was ever so slightly disappointed, but his interest piqued again as the shouting from within the ballroom became audible to them.

He kept his hand around her waist as they walked back through one of the open doors. The scuffle had just finished, and Christoph pursed his lips slightly as he watched the party begin to filter through the doors. "I did not think this would happen so early." The musicians had ceased to play during the affair, but now they slowly took up their instruments again, nervously playing a final tune for the remaining party-goers. His eyes skirted over to Lucas for a moment, and he yearned to speak with the boy...but there would be time for that later.

"May I have this dance?" he asked, looking back to Mary. He loosened his grip on her waist and turned now so that he stood before her, extending a hand for her to take.
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Mary giggled when she had saw his grin and heard his response about them returning to the ballroom. His voice tone sounded a little disappointing but she wanted at least one dance with and how awesome would it be if it was the final dance. As they inched closer and closer to the ballroom again, she heard shouting and wondered if she really needed that dance as badly or now.

With Christoph's comment, her eyes peered up towards him as she wanted to ask him what did he mean by his statement but decided against. Though the urge was burning her insides. The musicians there were slowly picking back up the music as she gasped suddenly from her thoughts at his question. She was really wondering what had taken place while they were in the garden.

Mary nodded her head as she took Christoph's hand, responding to him, as well. "Yes, you may." She led them out to the dance floor with a smile as she turned to face him now and gave him a curtsy with a smile. Mary then brought her body closer to his and reached for his hand while the other hand rested along his back. While the thought was still pondering throughout her mind and even though she didn't want to ruining the dance, she just had to ask Christoph about his earlier statement.

"What did you mean earlier about you didn't think that this would happen so early?" She inquired towards him with curious eyes as she waited for him to respond, hoping she wouldn't make him mad or destroy the dancing. She really wanted to know though.

He held her closely as they danced, a hand still on her lower back as his other clasped her hand as lightly as he could while still maintaining control of the dance. "Oh, that," he replied, not breaking their rhythm once as he spoke. Christoph hadn't thought she'd pick up on that - it'd been more of a personal comment. Then again, it had been some time since he'd been so physically close with another person. It was something he'd have to watch.

"It's not something one often picks up on," he began, spinning her about for a moment as the music swelled passionately. "But these events never end...uneventfully. Someone says something wrong, does something improper, and the whole thing goes to shit - pardon my language. Often, one must wait a few days for the real entertainment to begin." Something in his tone conveyed that he referred to the fight as the entertainment.

While he pretended to enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the tournaments and feasts and whatnot, none of these events held any sort of import for him. He was too feeble to compete, incapable of drinking, and overall, he never felt as though he belonged here among this crowd. And so he watched and waited, waited for the royals to prove themselves no better than their subjects. It brought him a sense of joy to watch it unfold before his eyes. This sort of chaos intrigued him, excited him. Christoph grinned to himself at the mere thought of it.

The song came to an end, but he held her for a while afterwards. "Do not worry yourself over it though, love," he said, brushing off the conversation as he leaned in and kissed her on the lips. His hands came up now, cupping her face for a few heartbeats before he pulled away. His eyes flickered downwards before he looked back at her, smiling ever so faintly. "I do believe the dance has ended...shall we retire for the night?"

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Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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She thrived on these events. She lived, she breathed, she was the crowd and the people and all of it - all at once. When Corinna Auclair arrived at the stands, she was later than anyone else. Just minutes before the first riders entered the field, she climbed the few steps that took her past the assembled nobles and to her seat. It was a brilliant maneuver on her part, for all eyes turned to her for a moment, watching the young woman glide past while her son, Calisto, trailed after.

Cora's hair had been done up elegantly for the day, keeping it off of her neck in the heat of the day. The dress that clung to her frame was a thin, silk-like material dyed the faintest hue of lilac. When she moved, the sun caught the faint patterns that had been expertly added to the dress. The whole thing must have cost a fortune - but she was an Auclair. Her family may have lost titles in Falor when they fled to join Cyprian, but in Seabel, they'd been raised higher than Hektor Auclair could have imagined.

As she passed, she reached down for Calisto's hand, nodding to a few nobles and taking note especially of the royals. In general, they'd been placed by kingdom with Seabel in the center, Ostwall on the left, and Falor on the right. At the top sat the kings and queens and their children, and from there, the rest of the group filled in. It was here that she found her mother and sat slowly, letting her dress billow out before inviting Calisto to scramble into her lap. One hand crossed over his lap to keep him from sneaking off while the other toyed gently with his hair, twirling a strand of his messy mane of hair around her index finger.

"What a shame I did not see you at the ball last night, my Lady."

Corinna felt her stomach churn, and her fingers caught in her son's hair, causing him to protest lightly and push her hand away. Perhaps her mother heard his voice as well, for she placed a hand on Cora's wrist, willing the young woman to think before she spoke. A soft inhale and exhale, then Cora turned over her shoulder to come face to face with the father of her child.



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"I did not feel well enough to attend, my Lord." Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly, her jaw setting as she steeled herself. It had been four years, and yet she was not ready. She never would be. Cora had every intention to show her face the night before, but oh, how her plans had fallen apart when she realized he would be attending - with a new mistress, nonetheless.

"A pity," Christoph remarked. "It has been some time since I have seen you, my dear." Corinna turned away now, but in her preoccupation with Christoph, Cal had scrambled up and now peered over her shoulder at Christoph. "A handsome young boy you have." The Count couldn't help but grin to himself as he leaned forward ever so slightly. "Your mother's hair, your father's face, and...such vibrant eyes."

She wanted to turn and scream at him, dare him to tell them where his light blue eyes had come from. They were the same eyes she had fallen in love with years ago, and they taunted her each time her son looked up at her. And so she did turn around.

"I would much rather you leave me and my family in peace," she shot back, meeting his gaze more boldly than she'd imagined she could. Her heart beat against her ribs, giving her a sort of rush that only egged her on. "I believe you've overstepped yourself."

He merely laughed, and she only frowned further, clenching her hand in her lap. "And you as well, child," he countered, toying now with a ring on his middle finger."I would think twice before speaking to a man of my title in such a tone." It was her turn to smile back at him, flashing a sweet, close-mouthed grin.

"Your title means nothing more than mine, my Lord." For a moment, the two laughed with each other, but it was a twisted, cruel laugh. Nothing like the ones they had shared those years ago in the dead of the night. They had been happy then, the two of them. But there was nothing loving or playful in their respective tones now. She hated him, and he meant only to toy with her as a cat might with its prey.

"It means far more than you could ever imagine...my Lady."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Capheus Auclair Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair
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Mary woke up with a smile as she rolled over in the bed she was in to grab Christoph but he wasn't there. She sat up with gasp then ran her fingers through her hair. Her eyes looked around as she really hoped to herself that she was indeed in Christoph's room but saw his clothing in a nearby chair. She let out a small sigh of relief as she climbed out of bed and saw an outfit laid out for her already. She smiled warmly after she had gotten herself ready for the day. She had completely forgotten about the jousting event that was happening right about now and since she wasn't a big fan of large crowds, she decided to just take a walk along the gardens.

She loved the gardens and not because of the moment her and Christoph had the previous night but the colors were just so majestic to her. During her walk, she noticed a few people that were tending to the garden. She smiled gracefully towards them while she continued her little stroll. Mary touched one of the flowers with her hand as it sent a sudden chill down her spine. She smiled towards it and caressed it again, remembering the story Christoph told her about it. She dropped her hand back by her side as she turned heel and exited out of the gardens now, making her way over towards the jousting field.

When she arrived, she looked at the crowd from afar and heard the roaring from them. Jousting tournaments were really competitive and not her style but she did love horses so she walked over towards the stables and admired them. "Such lovely beasts, aren't they?" A stable boy crept behind her and spoke. She turned towards him and responded. "They're not beasts. They're lovely creatures called horses." Mary commented towards the stable boy as he let out a chuckle. "Right you are. Forgive me, my lady." Mary shrugged her shoulders at the stable boy as she admired a few more before she dismissed herself.

She wandered through the crowd and spotted her lover, Christoph though he was talking to someone, a female with a kid in her lap. She didn't want to intervene if the conversation was important so instead, she just offered him a wave of her hand then sat down. She'd wait for him to finish up and come to join her, hopefully.


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Juliana didn't really want to continue talking about Loras as she waved her hand off at Capheus though she did answer his last question. "I am sure he is." Her response was vague, of course as she eyed him, thinking about his previous questions and statements. She grew silent for a moment as she watched the tournament take place right before her eyes. She had to really take his words in and give the correct responses towards him. She trusted Capheus with her own life as a soft smile came among her lips and she stared at him again.

When he mentioned that she had a weakness for his face, Juliana raised her hand up and caressed it gently as she chuckled while placing her hand back in her lap. "Oh, what does Cyprian know? His head use to be filled with hot air, as well. I believe it still is, sometimes." She laughed while she waved her hand again then shook her head at her own comment. Juliana looked at Capheus while her hand met her chest.

"Oh, you remember what happened last year. The cheater that unfortunately got away. I was looking for him this year but nothing." Her eyes peered out before her as if she was to catch the cheater from last year, she was going to have his head. Juliana laughed at Capheus earlier when he said that he wanted to sleep through the festivities as she looked towards him. "Are my festivities boring to you, Capheus? You know, since you'd rather lay down and sleep then be here." She muttered the question towards him as her eyes scanned the area.

She waited for him to answer as she looked around and wondered what was keeping Giselle. Juliana shrugged her shoulders as she didn't want her little angel to witness such an event anyway. She let the soft breeze blow through her as she adjusted herself in her seat, trying to get a little bit comfortable. Juliana let out a sigh while taking in the air as she smiled to herself. She honestly enjoyed talking with Capheus every chance they got but was still bummed about his earlier comments. She tried not to let it bother her but until he answered her question about her festivities.

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Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Capheus Auclair Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Capheus chuckled at her words, shrugging when she stated that his brother probably had a lot of hot air too. Maybe it was just something that ran in their family, honestly. They were all kind of proud and heavy--personality wise, not weight wise. He still had a deep adoration for his older brother, perhaps a hero worship, if you will. He loved him half to death, and wanted nothing but for him to be happy. Of course, that led to a bit of internal angst, but so far, he was still intact. “He’s not nearly as bad as he was as a teenager. I may have teased him about floating away sometimes.” He laughed. His brother, despite still being relatively young, had changed from the young warrior that Capheus had known. They were still close, and he was grateful for that, but sometimes, it felt like Cy had taken the whole world onto his shoulders. Maybe that was why he supported Ellie and him--she made him look light.

Capheus nodded sagely at her next words, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing too hard. There was something about their present interaction and the crowds screaming around them that made him want to laugh, to beam and possibly to stand up and roar a little. He wished that Asten were there, so that he could spin him around. “I remember now. Is he the one that stole all the tiny chocolates at the ball too?” Capheus loved chocolate. He had a personal vendetta against whoever had taken the entire tray the previous year. He hummed in response, nodding at her remark about searching for him. “Wisely, madam, he probably decided to skip out or risk the wrath of a great many wronged people.” He mused.

That instinctual urge to laugh couldn’t be fought down at her next words, and mirthful sounds soon bubbled from his mouth. “Juliana, my dear sister in law, I am always sleepy.” He admonished. “I’m even worse than my Tom, who is always sleeping.” He loved his dog absolutely to death. “I believe I slept through an earthquake at one point.” He had been relatively young, and everyone had been running in circles, generally panicking and trying to steady things that were threatening to teeter over. He, on the other hand, had been in his pajamas, stuffed bear at his side as he stayed passed out in his bed.

He had given his mother a heart attack because she couldn’t find him. Ah, good times.

Speaking of her, he met his mother’s gaze as she looked up towards where he sat, offering a smile that she returned. He’d have to go talk to her and Cora soon, he thought. And possibly deck Christoph... He watched as that stupid man sat down next to his sister, and it was the first sign of hostility that he had shown all day; his fist clenched, and he reached up to rest his head on his chin, almost burning a hole in the back of Christoph’s head. Then, he looked away before he could realize, directing his focus back to his sister in law. “These are certainly not boring.” He promised. “This is quite the place to be, in all reality.” He added with a crooked grin, that became more genuine when he realized how well it rhymed.

“In any case,” He went on, and his expression lit up at this memory. “Didn’t you contact some of those people from the islands?” He inquired. He had heard rumor that they were coming to visit, and he was terribly excited to meet new people. Perhaps Ostwall knew them best, judging by the youngest princess’ dress, but it would be a wonderful thing to expand relations.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Capheus Auclair Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Though Christoph had finally ceased speaking to her, Corinna couldn't shake the churning in her gut. She knew he sat directly behind her, and it sent a sort of shiver through her spine. It wasn't the same kind she'd felt as a girl when she would sneak off from a party, steal a kiss in a candlelit hall. No, this was one of revulsion, a breed of terror she hadn't felt before now.

"Stop it!" protested Calisto, pulling out of her grip again. He pulled a knot in his curly hair through her fingers, causing him to whimper before she placed a kiss on the top of his head.

"I'm so sorry, little one," she breathed, kissing him once more for good measure before she allowed him to wriggle off of her lap and on to the seat between her and her mother. The bench behind her creaked, and Cora couldn't help but look over her shoulder as Christoph left, excusing himself with a quick remark and a nod of the head. And now she could relax. She looked about the crowds, taking in the sights and the sounds eagerly. Cora's gaze swept over the royals, each of the kingdoms.

She offered a smile to her brother, hoping he'd notice despite his conversation with their Queen, their sister-in-law. Perhaps she would speak later with Juliana, but now her gaze trailed over the Falorian royalty, and she couldn't help but gasp as she saw Loria Estermont. Cora's hand leapt upward to cover her mouth, cutting off the sound of excitement as a smile spread across her face. She buzzed with excitement but forced herself to remain under control as Ris escorted Lucas down to the jousting field.

How long had it been since she'd seen the girl? Four years ago she had left Christoph, and in those four years, she had locked herself away from his entire family. Cora had been twenty-three; Ris, only thirteen. As Loria returned to her seat now, Cora stood and scampered up the few steps to the royal seats, holding up the front of her dress to avoid tripping over it.

"My dearest Loria!" she cried out, throwing her arms around Ris and holding her tightly. Eventually, she managed to pull away, and when she did, she could only beam back at Loria. She practically gushed as she spoke. "I've missed you so, so much."

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Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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After his offhand remark, Christoph had fallen into a period of silence to watch Ronan and Cyprian joust. He gave a short cheer as Ronan fell to the ground, securing the bet he'd placed. It hadn't been a risky bet, for after the night before, very few would have dared to place a coin on Ronan. Still, he hadn't lost money, and that was what mattered to him in that moment.

He opened his mouth once more, daring to speak to Corinna again, but he cut himself off as Mary made her way to the stands and waved at him. "Do excuse me, my ladies," he said, standing as Loras and Wulf took to the field. Christoph edged his way out of the row of seats he'd placed himself in and made his way to his lover.

"How are you this morning?" he asked as he took a seat beside her. Christoph placed a hand on her thigh and pressed a kiss to her cheek before looking back at her. "I trust you slept well. It didn't seem right to wake you." He turned forward again, watching as his son hurtled down the field at Wulf. He didn't catch what went wrong, but suddenly his son had fallen to the ground, and Christoph stood instinctively, waiting for his son to sit up and then stand up.

Once he had, Christoph let himself exhale and settle back into his seat. He certainly was a cold man - his own children could attest to that - but he still cared for them, loved them as dearly as a father ought to. And so it might have been a bit of a surprise to see Christoph, a man of such little self-expression, react so to the joust. But his moment of concern was easily overlooked, just as they had been for years. Each lesson, each scraped knee, each bedtime story - he had littered his children's lives with small signs of affection, but they weren't much, and he knew that.

He placed a hand over one of Mary's, bringing himself back into the present.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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Ris briefly wondered why, on all of Tibera, her life had to be this difficult. First her brother, now her fiancee--and the latter against someone far older than he. As she returned and took her seat, she also took Wulf and Loras’ hands, unwilling to be alone or feel alone in that moment. She was still halfway giddy from Lucas’ words--but that also led to increased worry. Goodness, what even was peace? Certainly not something that she knew. Across the field, her gaze caught upon a familiar figure. Dark hair, spindly figure, a shape to his eyes that she shared. Christoph Estermont, her father. At least he had looked worried during Loras’ joust, she reflected. She had an...interesting relationship with her father. Briefly, she wondered if he would come over to talk to her anytime soon. Of course, though, soon enough, he dedicated his attention to his most recent fancy.
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Ris felt endeared towards Mary, if only because she wished to protect the woman she saw as far more innocent than she. Christoph had snapped up and discarded many a woman in his lifetime--and Ris wondered, briefly, why he had not done the same to her. Was it because she knew what she was doing? She was certainly no pretty face, to be swept up and then left in the same breath. Perhaps he knew that if he were to abandon her, she would not take it so lightly. It felt as if he’d already abandoned Loras, though. For a moment, she wished that their father was stronger, that he would be able to come and help Loras to find peace in his unsteady state. But she knew that he was not and could not, and she would happily take her brother’s troubles upon herself. She’d seen how the king of Ostwall looked at him--and even now, he was coming to talk to him. She hid the soft smile that appeared by dipping her head down in greeting to Ulfric, squeezing Loras’ hand and then letting go.

And then, out of the blue, she heard her own name--her full name--thrown into the air by a voice that she knew, and had not heard in years. For a moment, she felt almost thirteen again, never full of laughter but full of love nonetheless. She was on her feet in a moment, gasping Cora’s name and beaming as if the sun had decided to take up residence behind her pale skin. She laughed, wrapping her arms tight around the older woman, the two of them swaying back and forth a little as they tried to keep their balance. “Cora, Cora, I missed you,” She whispered, amazed to see her again. Her smile was still firmly in place, and her eyes were alight. She couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled up once more, and she rested her hands on her shoulders. “I missed you more!” She teased. “My goodness, how are you?”




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Loras, meanwhile, had found that he had a sudden inability to look away from the king of Ostwall. He knew he was searching out comfort, he knew he was acting absurd... Hell. He knew that this man likely looked down on any sort of conduct that didn’t have to do with a woman and a man and their overdramatic romance. For a moment, he wanted to roll his eyes at the giggles and the skirts, dainty hands holding calloused ones, smooth on rough and idealized beyond compare. There was no room for variation or true love amid the frantic search for a companion of any sort, and even then, they were often in the habit of leaving such companion or being torn between two companions, neither of whom could reconcile to the other. How many of the same story had been drawn out, over and over again?

He pulled himself from his thoughts as, out of the blue, the object of his previous attention rose and started towards him. Surprise was definite--had Ulfric made it to the flowers the night before, he wondered. He hadn’t... He’d been inside of his own head too much. He would apologize to him, just in case, he resolved. He shifted a little to make room for the king, reaching up to push a lock of his own dark hair out of his eyes, offering up a familiar, crooked smile. He shook his head at his first words. “Not interrupting at all.” He promised, glancing towards his sister and smiling as she leapt from her seat to embrace an old friend. And then his plans were foiled entirely, because Ulfric was apologizing instead. He looked genuinely surprised, a little caught off guard.

Image“It’s alright.” He promised softly, reaching over to squeeze his shoulder in a friendly gesture, letting his fingers linger for a moment longer than necessary. “Don’t worry about it.” He encouraged with a little smile, soon returning his hands to his own lap, knotting his fingers together in a habit that he shared with his sister. He glanced away, and then looked back to Ulfric, meeting his gaze. “Thank you.” He murmured, unable to keep from smiling at his words. He thought he’d done well? He’d been making a show, more than anything else... But he couldn’t help but feel proud. For a moment, beneath the seats and out of view, he reached out, smoothing his fingers out of the fist. “I’m happy to listen to you.” He teased a little. “Don’t stop.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair Character Portrait:
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Mary looked at Christoph with curious eyes as he finally came over and sat beside her. She smiled when she felt his lips press against her cheek and his hand rested upon her thigh. "I am well, Christoph." She muttered towards him and nodded her head towards him. "Oh, you know how I sleep after making love with you. Peaceful and like a Queen." She snickered towards him, slapping his upper arm playfully.

When she saw that his son was about to joust, she watched the bout between the two captains and gasped for when Christoph stood up. Such a father like instinct for him to do so. Mary wasn't really scared that he had a cold expression upon his face as she probably knew the affectionate male beneath that cold face more than anyone.

"I hope he's alright." Mary stated as she rubbed his hand with her free one. She let out a sigh as she looked in direction of the female he was speaking to beforehand. Knowing Mary, she didn't want to ask the wrong question and upset him, after all, she was only his Mistress and nothing else. Well, not that she know of. Mary sat there with a smile as she looked back towards Christoph. "So, are you enjoying the jousting tournament, love?" She'd ask just as the next joust that was seemingly taking place was King against King.
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Even though she really hated these events, Mary was on the edge of her seat with anticipation, rooting for Cyprian since he was cutest out of the respective Kings.

He laughed with her as she remarked on their escapades from the night before. Mary's bold manners never failed to surprise him. It was one of the things about her he'd come to enjoy. Christoph's previous mistresses were spirited behind closed doors, but they had often adopted a shy demeanor when in public. With Mary, he was more open, less concerned about watching his tongue.

"I'm sure he's alright," he said simply, a bit too quickly as he gave her lower hand a gentle squeeze. Christoph looked back at her, but her gaze was elsewhere, and he followed it to watch as Corinna embraced his daughter. She didn't bring anything up, however, and he wasn't prepared to broach the topic either.

"As much as I can." His gaze followed the two kings before he looked back on Mary. "Unlike our dear Cyprian, the Estermont family has never been...athletically inclined. We are bankers and merchants...thinkers not fighters." He smiled to himself, giving a short sort of laugh. "I jousted years ago. Dueled as well. I'd much rather watch them impale each other now - no sense in dying for short-lived glory."

Mary knew that Christoph had saw her gaze so she quickly shifted it back towards him as he had answered her question about him enjoying the jousts. She continued to look at him as he talked and loved hearing about him talk about his family and himself. She let a soft smile show before him as she nodded her head towards him. "I don't find that hard to believe that you use to joust and duel." She commented then raised her hand up towards his upper arm and gave that body region a light squeeze. "As you certainly have the muscles from it."

She remarked with a blush that filled her cheeks now. She watched a few more jousts along with Christoph. Mary saw that the next joust that was bound to take place was Lucas and Cyprian. She didn't really know how to feel about that as she was rooting for Cyprian, of course.

"This should be interesting, huh?" She muttered towards Christoph as before the joust began, she couldn't help but let out a sigh as her eyes fluttered over towards him again. "Christoph..." She spoke his name delicately, which was most likely cause him to turn towards her. "I hate to ask but who was that you were talking to just a few moments ago." She knew that it was silly to ask him such a question but curse her curious mind for wondering.

As Mary asked that question, she bit her bottom lip out of nerves as she didn't want to make him mad. She didn't like making him mad, to be honest. Mary jumped suddenly with a soft gasp after hearing the clang of a lance connecting to armor. She eyed Christoph then back at the joust as she hoped to herself that he was going to be completely honest with her. Not that he hasn't been honest with her before.

He gave a soft laugh at her remark, placing a hand gently over the one she had placed on his upper arm. "You flatter me, my love," he said softly, looking to Mary now. As she began to blush, he smiled, watching for a moment more before he looked back to the tournament.

Mary had recently dropped her hand by her side, giggling at Christoph's words about her flattering him. She couldn't even hide her blush for the second time as she just continued on to giggle towards him.

"I imagine it will be," he commented, focusing on Cyprian and Lucas hurtling down the pitch at each other. If Mary had spoken a second sooner or later, he might have missed it, for it was softly said, easy to lose in the cheering and shouting of the spectators. But he heard her, and he turned to her with a soft "hm?"

A frown crossed his lips as she spoke, and he toyed with a ring on one of his fingers, looking back out at the jousting field. Christoph knew the question would come up, and so he certainly wasn't angry, but he had hoped he would have time to think of his response. But, hell, what did he have to hide?
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"Corinna Auclair," he answered simply, looking back at her. "A past lover. She mothered the youngest of my children. I hadn't spoken to her in years before today." Christoph looked for just a moment to Cora before looking at Mary once more. His answers were curt not because he wished to avoid the topic but because he simply didn't have much to say on it. He couldn't stand to be spurned by anyone, let alone a past lover. "It is unimportant, my love. She means nothing to me."

Mary eyed his expressions when she had asked him that question. She let a soft sigh go through her parted lips as she turned back to see another joust about to take place. She eyed the competitors and saw that it was King versus King, from separate areas, of course. Mary's eyes diverted back towards Christoph when said a name. Hearing that she mothered his the youngest of his children, it didn't really bother her. Though, she did gleam when he stated that she meant nothing to her.

"Awe. She's really pretty and so is the child." Mary smiled while she took a small glance towards Corinna now then turned back and continued to watch the tournament, leaning a bit closer to Christoph now as she would jump every now and then at the clang of a lance meeting armor.

"I wonder whose responsible for the King versus King bout." She softly muttered but didn't really expect a response as she knew that Christoph probably wouldn't know. Her eyes stared back at Corinna then towards the end of the bout as Cyprian basically lost in his own territory. She'd thought the Queen, Juliana, would be mad but her facial features didn't show that expression.

With the shrug of her shoulders, she squeezed Christoph's hand and looked ahead while asking her next question. "What are you doing after the tournament? I'm obviously not doing anything but whatever you do, I'll be more than happy to tag along, if you wish." She asked him and waited for a response.

He heard her sigh, but he couldn't quite tell, in that moment, if it were a sigh of disappointment or of acceptance or some other thought all together. And so he ignored it, assuming that it was inconsequential either way. Christoph noticed her gaze flick back to him and then towards the other woman, and he followed her gaze, watching for a moment as Ris and Cora embraced.

"Yes, she is," he said simply, perhaps more to himself than to her. He felt Mary press into him as metal struck metal, and he placed an arm loosely about her, resting his hand atop hers in an affectionate yet socially appropriate manner. He was licentious, he wouldn't deny that, but Christoph Estermont had a reputation to maintain, an air to give off. Soon he'd be far closer to the throne than most men could even dream of.

"Someone with a poor sense of judgement," he remarked. "Or an obnoxious taste in theatrics." He attempted to sound disinterested, but in reality, he kept an eye on Lucas, praying the boy knew what he was doing. It'd be a shame if something bad happened to an heirless king. But he dismounted Cyprian, to Christoph's surprise, and returned to the stands in one piece.

Christoph looked back at his lover as she squeezed his hand and asked her question. "I hadn't given much thought to it quite yet," he replied at first, which was, perhaps, peculiar for a man who always seemed to have a plan. Or, rather, he had had a plan until just minutes ago when he'd changed the plan. "I do believe I have some catching up to do with my son." His thumb gently stroked the top of her hand as he leaned down to kiss her cheek. He hovered just inches away from her once he'd pulled away. "Afterwards, I am all yours, my dear."

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Ris watched Cora go with what almost felt like regret settling deep in her soul. It was so rare that they got to see each other. And yet... Life went on. Life, insane as it often was, moved forward at a pace that was both eternal and unrelenting. Perhaps she should be grateful for even their brief exchange, though. Particularly with a child to care for, her own half brother, Ris couldn’t imagine that she had a surplus of time on her hands.

She found Loras’ hand once more, lacing their fingers together, her small and smooth hand meeting his large and calloused one. “Father’s been looking at you.” She murmured. That much was true. She’d seen how he had stood up. Her older brother nodded a little in response. He too had noticed such; it was hard not to, honestly. And as much as he didn’t want to pay attention to him, as deep as it felt that the rift had grown, he knew that he wouldn’t see him again for a long time.
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“Come with me, and I’ll speak to him.” Loras murmured, and Ris squeezed his hand softly in reassurance. And then off they went.

It was quite good luck on Christoph's part that Loras and Loria had already started to walk over to their father by the time he pulled away from kissing Mary. He could sense the addition of their presences behind him, and so he turned around, blinking against the sun as he looked up at his son.

He stood now, a grin twitching on his lips as he stood before his son and looked up, attempting to compensate for a half-foot of difference in their heights.

"I wondered when you would seek me out," he said simply, extending his arms and taking his son in a quick embrace. When he pulled back, he kept his hands clasped on Loras's upper arms, holding him as though he were processing the scenario, studying his son closely. "If I could trouble you and your sister for a moment, I would rather we speak in private."

Giving an affectionate tap on the arm, he let his hands fall and turned on his heel to look to Mary. "I do hate you leave you so suddenly, my love. I shall see you later this evening." He took a step forward, kissed her cheek once more, and walked past his older children, gesturing for them to follow him.

"I take it you understand," he said after they'd walked away from the festivities and began to enter the palace. "The walls have ears, but the palace grounds are no place for speaking." For a man of little physical prowess, Christoph moved quickly and deftly, tracing his way back to his own room.

His dogs lifted their heads as he entered and shut the door behind them, bolting it. And then he gave a drawn out sigh and turned to face his son once again. The smile he gave now was one more genuine, if that were possible to gauge on his face. He stepped forward and clasped Loras's face in his hands as he looked into his eyes - blue met blue, but Loras's were a soft, gentle blue and Christoph's eyes were a harsh, icy blue.
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And then he let his hands drop, walking to a side table to pour drinks for the three of them. "You rode well," he said simply, back turned to the two of them. "The Wulf is fast." You aren't. His words didn't say it, but they seemed to suggest it.

"Enough on that, though," he continued, changing the topic quickly, perhaps too quickly. "Two years is a long time. You've kept well."

Loras’ first impression of his father was that he was tiny. In his mind, Christoph had become quite the spectre--hulking, huge, intent on filling Loras’ ears with whatever he wanted him to say. And in that moment, he just seemed... Fragile. And not fragile in the way that Ris was fragile, with steel for bones and porcelain skin. He seemed breakable. And Christoph had to look up to see him--amusement sparked in his gaze at that. Christoph spoke, and then reached out for a hug. Loras returned it, both briefly and gently, almost afraid that he would be the cause of this man shattering. But if he knew about his changed feelings on Juliana, perhaps he really would break, Loras thought ruefully. Of course, he doubted that he could tell his father without fear of possibly being drawn and quartered for his trouble.

As the two men pulled away from each other, Loras had the opportunity to study how his father had changed a little more. There was more white in his hair, and those icy blues looked even colder, if at all possible. He inclined his head in agreement where Ris spoke their affirmation, and soon enough, the three were off towards the castle. Loras couldn’t help but smile when he saw Ris’ expression light up at the sight of the dogs, and he chuckled softly as they immediately sought out hugs from her. He knew she saw them often, and was happy they had such a relationship. He wondered if they remembered him.

He was drawn from his thoughts as Christoph stepped forward and touched him more, clasping his hands. For a second, Loras almost felt as if he were the tiny child that he had been, alone in an unfamiliar house with an unfamiliar man who told him to call him father. Ris’ unexpected touch gave him something to center himself with, and then Christoph drew away and spoke once more. Those words, both spoken and unspoken, stung. “Thank you.” He replied, not letting that sound in his voice. He chuckled wanely at his next words. If only he knew. Seabel was a place of beauty, and yet, no one who lived there was truly happy. “I have good men, and much to keep myself busy with.” He replied, lifting up one of the cups and swirling the liquid within. “How is Falor?” He glanced towards his sister, then, who had linked her arm with his. “How soon’s the wedding?” He added with a little smile.Image

Christoph joined his children with two of the goblets, Loras having taken his already. He listened as he extended a drink to Loria and turned once more to look to his son. He didn't bother to stifle the soft laugh that accompanied Loras's comment, but he looked down at his drink for a moment.

"I've been informed," he remarked, glancing back up at his son, a smile twitching at the corner of his mouth. He'd certainly heard the rumors of a relationship between the Queen and her Captain, and so he took Loras's words as a off hand confirmation of that relationship - whether or not that was what his son had intended in his statement.
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"Falor is as it has always been," he replied, sipping from his drink as he took a seat near the empty fireplace and gestured to the other chairs near him. Christoph's tone suggested his distaste, for Falor had never been something remarkable to him. The capital that surrounded the palace was something to marvel at, a bustling place of commerce, but the hamlets and villages of the common folk had begun to crumble over the years, a lasting reminder of Cedric Brigham as he had dissolved into madness those last few years of his life. "Though I suppose I'd rather there than here. The heat's far too oppressive."

Christoph pursed his lips lightly, looking towards his daughter now as he addressed Loras. "Not soon enough. I plan to have the two wed soon after our return. The sooner the better...no?" And now he cocked an eyebrow and looked to Loria, waiting for her to respond.

But now he turned to Loras and crossed one leg over the other. "And you, my son?" he asked. "I've seen you speak with King Ulfric these past few days. Interested in his daughter? She's a lovely thing, and a man like you would do well in Ostwall."

Loras certainly did not mean the Queen in his earlier statement, but a familiar pair of pale green eyes surrounded by laughter lines did occupy his mind for a moment. Ulfric had told him that his rooms were always open to him... Perhaps after this, he would go and try to get to know the man a little better. He couldn’t forget how that weathered hand had felt in his own, and he couldn’t forget his words... A man’s kingdom is his, except for when it wasn’t. Perhaps a man’s life was his as well... save for when it wasn’t. And this life did not truly feel like his.

He inclined his head at his words. He missed Falor, to be entirely honest. He particularly missed it right then, with its cool breezes and beautiful forests. It had been home, and now it felt as if home was fractured and invisible. For all of its flaws and ruins, it was a place that had promised sanctuary. Now, there was none. And there was that horrible longing to go home again. He dipped his head down for a moment, gathering himself together once more, just in time to chuckle at his father’s words. “It feels as if we might all bake.” He murmured, amusement coloring his voice.

“Maybe we should take a communal trip to the ocean.” Ris hummed, slipping her arm around her brother, offering him silent support. He was able to relax a little more at her nearness, and he nodded in agreement.

“You’re setting yourself up to be tossed into the water.” Loras teased, and it was her turn to laugh softly.

“Assuming you can catch me.” She provided, rubbing her thumb along the edge of her own glass. Loras hummed in response to that, and then glanced back to his father as Ris inclined her head, soon raising her chin a little. Those blue eyes were sharp, and Loras gave her a comforting little squeeze. They were both well aware that this was a power play, but Ris also knew that it felt as if her heart was being torn in two. But marriage was but a ceremony, and they could work this out. She kept her thoughts close to her heart, though, refraining from mentioning anything that could give her father an edge over her. “Might as well.” She replied. “Though I don’t see the need for a rush--Lucas is already king, and it’s not as if he’ll be backing out of this engagement anytime soon.” Not that she would want him to, honestly.
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Loras took a drink from his glass at exactly the wrong time. It was only with great effort that he didn’t choke on it, and he still coughed hard into his fist once he swallowed. Adelaide was pretty enough, perhaps, but she was not even on his mind. “I suppose she is.” He replied after a moment, when he was sure that his voice wouldn’t die on him. Hopefully he could work off of the assumption that he was going after the Queen still. “But I’m afraid my mind is otherwise occupied.” Amusement flickered in his gaze for a moment.
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"Yes," he replied simply, smiling as his son joked in regards to the weather. Christoph tugged at the collar of his tunic which hugged his neck, attempting to cool himself. He watched the two of him, brother and sister, banter playfully, the way siblings ought to. Certainly he and his sister had had a similar friendship at one point. He and his brother had never been close, but that was expected of two boys who were in competition with each other for their father's affection and, more importantly, his titles.

Christoph smiled ever so slightly as Ris nodded, acknowledging his suggestion - which, he hoped she noted, was less of a suggestion and more of a promise to indeed have them wed soon after their return. "Your confidence in His Majesty is exemplary," Christoph remarked, finishing off his drink before placing the glass down. "A wife ought to love her husband as so." He took to his feet again, brushing his hands along the front of his outfit to smooth it out.

Image "But men change their mind, and their affections are fleeting," he continued, pursing his lips for a moment as he looked between his children. "I imagine you two know that well enough." But had his affections really been as fleeting? Somewhere he still retained affection for the mothers of his children. And yet it was never a strong enough bond that he wished to wed them.

But he didn't let himself linger long on the thought, for Loras gave a sharp cough that tore Christoph's attention away from what he had been saying. "Yes, I suppose it is," he remarked, smiling back at his son. "I should let you tend to your duties - you have a Queen and thus a kingdom to protect, no?" Christoph stepped forward and placed a hand against his son's arm again. "You've done well for yourself. I've no doubt you will continue to make me proud." Though he smiled back at the young man, his gaze did not change from its previous iciness - despite the good intentions of his words.

"I shall see you soon, I hope." And with that, he ushered the two of them out of his room and locked the doors once more before making his way towards the group of nobles and royals that had moved inside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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Her giggle made him grin back, and as she buried into his arm, he leaned down and pressed a kiss to her forehead. As she spoke though, he slowed to a stop, lips resting just above the crown of her head as he listened. His smile, as well, quickly dissolved from his face, and it was replaced with something that looked pained and discontented.

Ronan's mouth opened and closed with words he wished to speak but could not put volume to. And when she had finished speaking, he still remained silent, struggling to find what he wanted to say to her. He placed a hand under her jaw and lifted her chin so that she looked at him while he pulled his own face away so that they were just inches away.

"No," he said sharply, harsher than he had intended. "He's a tyrant, Genny. He had no right to...he deserves to die for what he did." He seized her wrists, gently this time, and he moved his grip up so that he clasped her hands before him.

"You give me the word, my dearest, and I will make sure he pays dearly for what he did to you," he breathed, the space between them tense as Ronan grew agitated, a sort of lust flashing in his eyes.




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He preceded his children into the hall as they left the confines of his room, joining the rest of the nobles in the sweltering, yet grand, hall. As he entered, Ulfric stood and walked past the family.

"Your Highness," Christoph greeted, bending at the waist subtly as he continued to walk. As he rose, however, he noticed the king's eyes had not left a spot just over his shoulder, and Christoph followed his gaze to where it rested on Loras. A smile flickered at his lips, but he said nothing and merely continued to walk. Loras was a resourceful man - if the king had something in mind, he would certainly act on it. Or, at least, Christoph hoped he would.

Loria was the child he felt most closely resembled him. She was intelligent, quick on her feet, but subtle about it. She would make a fine queen, he noted, as he took a seat and watched her speak to Lucas. But the smile began to fade as she left the room with him. Yes, she was a smart girl, but he worried she would find herself in over her head. Lucas was a boy, a child that Christoph had watched grow up more so than his own children, and yet who knew what he had in mind as the two left the hall? He found that he cared more, in that moment, about the end to a carefully planned engagement than the safety of his own daughter. And what if something truly did happen between the two?

Men change their minds, and their affections are fleeting.

The more he pondered his own words, the more truth he found in them. What if Lucas were the same? But what could he do besides wait? And so he did, gripping one of the arms of the chair with a nervous intensity.