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Chryseis Wulfston

"I would give my life for the king, without a shred of doubt."

0 · 782 views · located in Tiberia

a character in “Of Glory”, as played by Starlight77

Description

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"The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be."




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ImageImageFull Name || Chryseis Wulfston

Alias || Chrys Wulf

Nicknames || Wulf, The Wulf of Falor

Gender || Most people assume she’s a male, but she’s actually female.

Age || 23

Rank/Title || Captain of Falor's Royal Guard

Sexual Orientation || Because of her gender, sexuality can get… complicated. In short, she likes women.

Kingdom/Alliance || She has always sworn fealty to the lord of Falor.


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|| Hair Color ||
Dark Brown

|| Eye Color ||
A deep, gray-ish blue

|| Height ||
5’10’’, but her boots make her appear closer to 6’3’’

|| Weight ||
145 Pounds

|| Tattoos ||
She has a multitude of tattoos covering her body. One her right arm is a sleeve tattoo depicting a hell-beast with flowers surrounding it, and on her other arm is an intricately designed sleeve tattoo. She has an assortment of designs all over her back. Along her right hip is a climbing wolf, and if she allows her pants to hang low, the upper-body of the wolf can be seen.

|| Piercings ||
Wulf doesn’t have any, for she finds them distracting and possibly hazardous in battle.

|| Scars ||
Through her many years of training, her whole body is riddled with scars. The most prominent ones are: a large slash across her upper chest, a terrible burn that covers most of her left leg, and a small knick over the right corner of her mouth.

|| Description ||
Even at a young age, most people would have taken Wulfston for a boy instead of a girl. Her tall stature, lean physique, and lack of curves gives her a much more masculine appearance. In fact, she was constantly teased as a small girl for this, which increased her self-consciousness for years. That was until, one day, she realized that men just naturally have it better than women. So she made the conscious decision to try to appear more male than female.
Wulf’s dark brown hair is always short, with the longest it’s ever been only reaching the tops of her shoulders. Although her face is still decently feminine looking, her sharp, intense facial features, complimented by some simple, dark eye makeup, give her a rather intimidating appearance. Wulf is almost always wearing some sort of armor, and armor is made for men. As a result, to hide her true gender, she binds her breasts with some sort of cloth wrapping. And if she’s not wearing armor, like when she must attend dinners and such, she straps a decent sized phallic-shaped piece of wood in between her legs to give her the illusion of manhood. For those that get the opportunity to see her at least somewhat unclothed, they would notice that her breasts are a good size, and her body is actually rather muscular. She seems partially gaunt when wearing clothes, but she sports faintly chiseled abs, shapely legs, and carved arms.


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|| Personality ||
{Bold, Honorable, Loyal, Clever, Secretive}
A dim-witted pansy doesn’t become the Captain of Falor’s Royal Guard easily. In fact, a majorly intelligent, courageous man can have a hard time finding himself in a high position of the guard if he isn’t born into money or royalty. So for Wulfston to lack both of those things, she has to be the smartest of the smart, the toughest of the tough, and the bravest of them all. For years and years, she built up her male persona, and she’s been imbedded in it for so long that it has become a part of her.

Wulf can easily be described as strong; she carries an aura about her that demands a justified mixture of respect and attention. Her posture is broad, with her shoulders squared and her chest puffed out. When she speaks, she speaks clearly and concisely with an enriched vocabulary. Her voice is low and powerful; she doesn’t need to vocalize loudly to be heard by many. She spent countless days simply practicing her speech, making sure that she not only spoke male, but that she shouted male, screamed male, and whispered male.

With the amount of time Wulf was a knight of the royal guard, it isn’t surprising that she considers her job her life. She will always swear fealty to all of the rulers of Falor, no matter how cruel or dense. Her loyalty is one of the few things in life she will always cling to, along with her uproarious sense of humor and sharp, witty tongue. Although some would consider her demeanor and attitude brutish, Wulf is naturally intelligent and extremely clever. But through her service, her knowledge on war and strategy has increased tenfold despite her young age.

Ever since she left her hometown, Wulf has been secretive. She always says only what needs to be said and never more. If someone asks her a personal question, she is vague or she changes the subject. She says so little that no one even suspects her of being a female. But despite her lack of talkativeness, people enjoy being around Wulf. When she does speak, people tend to listen. It’s not uncommon to find her at the center of a crowd filled with raucous laughter. She’s a masterful storyteller, and she’s get plenty of stories to tell.

Wulf is famous for her skills on the battlefield. It’s how she got her nickname, The Wulf of Falor. She’s cunning and swift; all of her moves are calculated and poised like a dance. And similar to the beast of her nickname, she works perfectly with her fellow soldiers. Her headcount is one of legends, in fact, there are a couple of child’s tales and songs about her, which boosts her ego a bit. One of her men with experience in metalworking crafted a special helmet for her. The front part of the head lifts up, which is usually how she wears it around, but during battle, the helm is closed and she becomes The Wulf.

|| Hobbies ||
✦ Sparring With Her Men ✦ Hunting ✦ Training the Hounds ✦ Horse Racing ✦ Working Up War Plans ✦ Going on Patrols ✦ Speaking With Her King ✦

|| Habits ||
Staring || It’s common for Wulf to stare at someone for long periods of time. She does this as to analyze people, quickly learning their tics and habits. It doesn’t dawn on her that staring for so long is considered odd.
Cracking Her Neck || Wulf likes to crack her joins, especially her neck. She does this subconsciously in both times of stress or anger.
Rolling Her Shoulders/Taking Deep Breaths || With the bindings over her breasts constantly compressing her chest, she is always rolling and stretching her shoulders along with taking deep breaths.

|| Oddities ||
Hand Placement || Wulf’s hands are always placed in calculated places, either on her sword hilt, wrapped around her helm, or held in front of her respectfully.
Holding Her Liquor || No matter how much she drinks, Wulf never gets drunk. Sure, an alcoholic beverage or two loosens her up, but she’s never acted erratic or disorderly.
Dissociative Identity Disorder || Wulf has lived as this male persona for so long, that she believes she is Chrys Wulf, and she will occasionally return to the personality of Chryseis, which sends her into bouts of depression and anxiety.

|| Likes/Loves ||
✦ Her Dogs Russet and Lupa ✦ Her Courser Rook ✦ Sex ✦ A Hearty Meal ✦ Swordfighting ✦ Women ✦ Loyalty ✦ Children ✦

|| Dislikes/Hates ||
✦ Seabel ✦ Juliana Auclair ✦ Cowards ✦ Fools ✦ Deserters ✦ Chaos ✦ Orders From People Other Than The King ✦


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|| Place Of Origin ||
Falor

|| History ||
Chryseis Wulfston was born to a hard working merchant father and a spoiled, abusive mother. She lived in a village high up on the mountains, meaning that the Falor Castle was in view for the entirely of her childhood. For years, she looked upon the castle, dreaming of what would be within those stone walls. She imaged being a princess, constantly being waiting upon hand and foot, getting all she wanted with the snap of her fingers. But there was always a portion of the dream that never sat well with her; the part where she had to marry and handsome prince who would soon be king. Men just… didn’t interest her.

Of course she kept this to herself and grew up working hard to cater to her mother when her poor, overworked father couldn't. He was so kind and patient with both his daughter and his atrocious wife, despite the fact that he was working himself to death. Although they didn’t have much money, the time she spent with her father was fun. He first taught her how to sword fight, to the dismay of her mother. He was the one who noticed that Chryseis was different from other girls, and the odds of him marrying her off to a handsome prince or rich boy were slim. Life was… decent. The time she spent with her mother always brought her down, but her father constantly brought her back up. Being raised by two completely opposite personalities, one kind and one cruel, hardened her will and taught her how to deal with the emotions of people.

Not too long after her sixteenth nameday, her father collapsed. All these years being brutalized by work and his wife were finally started to show. He struggled to breathe for a couple of days before finally passing away, holding his only daughter’s hand while his wife was out, spending the last of their money. In fact, there was so little money, that they couldn’t even afford a tombstone. Chryseis was in charge of burying her father in the back of their property. And through tears and choked sobs, she carved his name into a stone.

Her mother attempted to force Chryseis into the role of her father. And for a while, it worked. She took up the role of the man in the house, doing all the heavy lifting and earning all the money. But after less than a year, she realized that she didn’t have to live this way. She was old enough, a few years late actually, to leave the house. Her mother attempted to stop her multiple times, and they all worked, until the day Chryseis went outside to pray at her father’s grave and found the stone missing. Frantically, she searched but it was nowhere to be found. When she questioned her mother, the old bat told her the color clashed with her garden and had it tossed into the lake.

Chryseis left the house that night with her meager belongings, consisting of a small amount of money, some hard cheese and stale bread. She made her way towards the Castle of Falor, not entirely sure of what she would find there. She knew that the town that surrounded it was rumored to bustle with life, so she figured she’d find her calling there.

On her first night, all of her money had been stolen. By her first week, she had been asked to join a brothel at least a dozen times. A few weeks later, and she was weak with hunger and considering taking up one of the pimps’ offers. One late night, while she was wandering around in search of scraps, she was jumped by a man and pulled into an alley. He tore at her clothes, but she had almost fought him off when another man appeared from the shadows and overpowered her. She cried and shouted before being silenced by having her undergarments stuffed into her mouth. The clinking of undoing belt buckles sent shivers down her back, and still does to this day. But that night, before they could even get their pants down, the sound of thundering hooves overpowered her erratic, loud heartbeat. Her literal knight in shining armor chased them off before circling back and helping her get dressed once more. He took her to a tavern and bought her a room and a warm meal.

The two exchanged stories for the whole night, which, in retrospect, would have probably been considered him deserting his post. But despite this, they quickly grew friends. Chryseis adored his armor, the nobility, and the respectful air about him. When questioned, he told her that’s what the kingsguard does to a person.

Before falling asleep in a bed for the first time in months, the two big each other farewell and parted ways, but not for long. It didn’t take long for Chryseis to weigh the pros and cons of executing this crazy plan. In less than three days, she showed up at the doorstep of the castle, breasts bound, and asked to be trained to become a knight. At first, the guards laughed at her, but the man from the other night got word of this and welcomed her, but only after warning her of the consequences of what she was doing. She waved them off and told him that this was her calling.

So he welcomed her under her new name, Chrys Wulf. From that day on, she was a man; and man of the kingsguard.

Wulf soared in ranking faster than most of the men around her. She was fast and deft, not to mention sharp as a tack. Those that challenged her were quickly dethroned and knocked down a peg. It wasn’t long for the old king of Falor to hear of this skilled knight-in-training. Less than a month later, Chrys Wulf was knighted on her nineteenth name day.

Only shortly after being knighted, Wulf quickly earned the respect of her fellow soldiers. A few years passed, and Wulf was already making a name for herself. After an attempt at then prince Lucas’ life and the death of the old Captain, Wulf was given the highest honor of all men of the guard. She was appointed Captain.

Of course, there were others around her that thought she was far too young and naive to take the position, but they were swiftly put in check as soon as the war against Seabel started. She was a competent leader, intelligent captain, and charismatic figurehead, especially after her helmet was crafted. Not to mention, her strength in battle was already striking fear into the hearts of her enemies.

So this is where Chrys Wulf currently stands; at the side of her young king, trying to keep the kingdom from being taken over by evil Queen Auclair.

|| Happiest Memory ||
Being knighted and the night-long silent vigil afterwards.

|| Saddest Memory ||
Her father’s death

|| Face Claim ||
Ruby Rose

So begins...

Chryseis Wulfston's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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A room full of strangers, all of them drinking, all of them wearing masks. Wulf clenched her jaw in frustration. The amount of danger in this room was… astounding. The mask on her face shifted as she scrunched up her nose in disgust. A servant walked over and offered her and her king, who stood beside her, a drink; the young man took one while she waved the woman away. So much risk in one place, she needed to have her senses as sharp as ever.

I’ll be right back. Wulf shifted her steely gaze to the king’s soon-to-be wife. The small woman intrigued her to no end. She was a gorgeous specimen, with her porcelain skin, pure white hair, and bright blue eyes, but she also had a brain in her head. Wulf’s fierce glare followed her into the crowd, a slight scowl on her face. The farther she was away, the less likely Wulf would be able to help her in case of some sort of emergency.

The movement of Lucas jolted Wulf from her concerned trance. Her king wandered off as well, which worried her. But the fact that he was seeking out his older sister fretted her more. With a sigh she followed the blond slowly, making sure to keep some distance between them. There were some situations where having a body guard would make a king seem stronger, but right now, Lucas needed to strut all that he had learned.

Navigating through a crowd of semi-drunk nobles isn’t as easy as one would think. She had to push past dancers and servers alike whilst keeping her king in the corner of her field of view. That was until she, quite literally, ran into someone. “My apologies, sir-” She paused to visually take in the person before her. Tall, muscular, blond hair, not to mention dancing with the king’s soon to be wife. “Ah, sorry once again, Captain.” She took her hand off the hilt of her sheathed sword to place it on her chest and bow her head respectfully. “And good evening to you again, lady Loria.” Wulf bowed once more to her future queen.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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He could have done without the massive amounts of people wandering around, Loras reflected as he waltzed his sister around the room. At least the food smelled good, and there wasn’t enough dancing yet to make the ballroom hot as blazes. His men were off getting drunk, probably, and for a moment, he longed to join them just to remove himself from the tortures of nobility. But his father wanted him there, Juliana was there, and his dear sister was there... And goodness he had missed her. It was like a physical ache sometimes, not having his confidant and friend there to talk to him. They’d been nigh inseparable since they had met, and then to be shoved so far apart, well...

But no matter. They were there now, and that was what mattered, and Loras wouldn’t spend that night angsting. He was better than that, he thought. He couldn’t miss how Ris’ gaze followed her fiance, and that made a grin tug at the corners of his mouth. “Loriaaaaa,” He hummed, drawing out the last syllable of her name and making her pale cheeks flush. She gave him an amused look, and accidentally stepped on his foot as they turned around again, making him laugh.
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“Don’t call me that!” She scolded, and he offered up an innocent look in return.

“I’m over here, you know,” He teased, and she tipped her head up, raising an eyebrow at him. “You and Lucas doing better?” He inquired, meeting her gaze. He chuckled when that blush darkened, and she glanced away. As she did so, she saw said King disappearing into a separate room with his sister, and silently wished him well.

“We’ve been locked in a carriage together for ages.” She deadpanned, and then she hesitated, rubbing her thumb over her brother’s knuckles out of habit.

“You can tell me.” He encouraged, squeezing her hand.

“He’s... endearing.” Ris answered around a sigh, looking back to her brother. “I was so intent on not liking him, and he’s so damn genuine, I could cry.”

Loras chuckled at that, and seemed about to comment on that when out of nowhere, their dancing was interrupted. They were both jostled suddenly, and Ris drew her brother quickly out of the ring of dancers, not wanting anyone to step on her brother save for her.
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“My apologies, sir-” The short-haired Captain spoke, and Loras found him familiar... probably because he’d fought his men at some point.

“You’re fine.” He promised with a crooked little smile. He released one of Ris’ hands, bowing to him in return before slipping his arm around his sister’s waist.

“I think we were a little lost in the music.” Ris added with a bit of a smile, speaking for both of them, for which Loras was somewhat grateful. She gave the Captain an amused look, reaching up to twirl a lock of her own soft locks around her finger. Loras recognized that habit too--nervous. He gave her a comforting little squeeze. “In any case, Captain, how many times have I told you to call me Ris?” She teased, and curtseyed to him, her eyes bright behind her mask.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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You’re fine. Loras bowed back and flashed a soft smirk.

I think we were a little lost in the music. The dainty smile on Loria’s face caused Wulf’s own lips to curl upwards slightly. In any case, Captain, how many times have I told you to call me Ris?

A short, deep chuckle rolled off Wulf’s tongue before she could stop it. “My apologies, Lady Ris.” There was a touch of humor in her tone. “It’s a respectful habit that I’ve had a rather hard time breaking.” She nodded at the younger woman once more, the smile still on her lips.

After a brief moment of eye contact, Wulf shifted her gaze to her older brother. She was glad that the secret heel in her boots raised her height slightly so the two were at least around eye level. “I suppose I should introduce myself formally, Captain Loras, since we don’t have the time to do so on the battlefield.” She held out her hand, offering the other man a firm handshake. “The name’s Chrys Wulf, Captain of the Kingsguard under King Lucas of Falor.”

It was then, after she reminded herself who she was, that Wulf realized she hadn’t been looking out for her king. She did a quick scan of the room, only to spot the blond exiting a room, followed by his sister. She couldn't help but bite at the inside of her lip, hoping that the young king was alright. Gah, stop that. He’s a man, not a boy. Stop mothering him. Wulf returned her unintentional glare to Loria before shifting it back to Loras. “Would you mind if I stole your sister away for a bit? Perhaps, for a dance?” She extended her hand once more, but this time, it was in the direction of Ris.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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Ris smiled upon seeing the Captain smile, taking some not-quite-pride in being able to get various Captains of the Guard to smile. They were supposed to be a rather stern bunch, but both Wulf and Loras held a special place in her heart. The amused spark in her eyes remained, and mirth joined it soon enough. She laughed softly, raising a pale eyebrow at the Captain’s use of the word respectful. “I’m not married to Lucas yet.” She admonished with a playful air. “Besides, wouldn’t it be more respectful to honor my wishes?” She made it clear that she was teasing, a smile pulling at her lips and a chuckle following the edge of her words. “Listen to me, I’m obnoxious.” She shook her head, and released her brother when Wulf addressed him, tipping her head up to turn that amused glint onto him.

Loras chuckled, returning Ris’ look before inclining his head to the other Captain. “Can’t deny that. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He spoke, and extended his hand, returning the handshake. “Loras Estermont, Captain of the Guard under the queen of Seabel.” He had to say, he was rather proud of the queen for taking such power for herself. It was something that few dared to do. He noted how she looked around, and how Ris found his hand again. Both of them were looking out for that king, it seemed, both seemed concerned. ImageLoras was about to ask about that reaction, wanting to make sure that both the Captain and his sister would be alright if Lucas didn’t rush over and fling his arms around both of them, and then Wulf was speaking once more. A dance? He glanced to Ris, who squeezed his hand gently in permission, a little reluctantly, though she hid it well. He was only able to tell because of how close they were.

“Make sure to return her in one piece.” He hummed in a teasing manner, squeezing her hand in comfort. Ris laughed, leaning up to kiss his cheek.

“Wulf is terribly capable, I’m sure I’ll be fine in his hands.” She admonished, reaching out to take the Captain’s hand. “However, I’ve never actually seen you dance.” She spoke directly to Wulf this time, releasing her brother’s hand and taking a step forward. “Should I be afraid for my feet?” She teased a little. Loras chuckled softly, and crossed his arms, watching them for a moment. He’d find her later, he silently promised when Ris glanced back to him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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Can’t deny that. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Loras Estermont, Captain of the Guard under the queen of Seabel. Wulf took his hand gladly, shaking it firmly. Nothing like a solid handshake to start a good friendship. Ah, how she wished they could be friends. The second they became captains of two different, opposing armies, their fate was declared. They were enemies who only met peacefully when their masters deemed it so. Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.

When Wulf asked Ris to dance, Loras didn’t seem to mind, which brightened her mood somewhat. Make sure to return her in one piece.

Wulf is terribly capable, I’m sure I’ll be fine in his hands. Wulf only let out an agreeing mixture of a grunt and a chuckle in response. She took the younger woman’s hand and started moving her towards the dance floor. However, I’ve never actually seen you dance. Should I be afraid for my feet? The light teasing in her tone brought the smile back to Wulf’s face; this meant that the younger woman was actually somewhat comfortable with her.

Wulf stopped once she was nearby the other groups of people dancing. She turned the blonde so they were facing. With their two hands held together, Wulf placed the other on Ris’ hip. “I always told my men, if you can’t dance on the floor, you can’t in the battlefield.” With that, she started the pair moving, swaying back and forth slightly. “However, it wasn’t until Lucas’ coronation party that I realized I really couldn’t dance.” Wulf glanced down at her feet; they moved with a mind of their own, every step calculated and placed perfectly. “I also realized that I would never hear the end of it until I learned how to dance properly.” Wulf smiled down at Ris warmly, briefly taking note of their immense height difference. She was practically a head taller than the younger woman. “So I hired a teacher. Imagine that, the Captain of the kingsguard, learning how to dance from a woman who I’m pretty sure is older than the gods themselves. I was afraid she’d crumble to dust on the spot.” Wulf let out a low, throaty chuckle, not once stopping their slow, flowing dance.

“Now, the real reason why I dragged you out here isn’t because I just wanted a dance with a fair lady.” Wulf paused in her speaking to outstretch the two of them, twirling the blonde in a circle before pulling her back. When she was back in Wulf’s grip, her gaze turned serious. “Lucas is… worrying me. He just spoke to his sister, which, I know, might not necessarily be a bad thing.” She paused to sigh. “He’s a man, no, he’s a king, and I shouldn’t be fretting like this. But so many people who are enemies of Falor in one room… He's young and intelligent, but not wise. I'm afraid of him making some sort of youthful decision without council...” Wulf shifted her hand, sliding it across Ris’ lower back to pull the woman in much closer. Their bodies were practically touching, and Wulf leaned in to speak quietly into Ris’ ear. “If you see anything strange or suspicious, find me, immediately. It is my duty to protect both you and the king, and I will allow no harm to come of you.” It was then that Wulf loosened her grip, allowing them to move apart a bit more.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston
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Ris turned her attention back to the captain of the guard, knowing that she would see her brother in a moment. Why the Captain had wanted to dance with her, she wasn’t quite sure, despite their being at a ball. Perhaps it was silly of her, but she hadn’t expected him to be the dancing type. She supposed he was graceful, but seeing him in a waltz was never something that she expected to see. She positioned her hands, resting her fingers delicately on his shoulder, fitting their hands together. Wulf’s were cool, and her own were warm, as they often were. Wulf began to speak about dancing, and the smile from before pulled at Ris’ own lips, amusement sparking in her gaze once more. “That is a sight that I would pay to see.” She teased. “Do you think you could reenact it, for me?”

Ris’ brow furrowed slightly at the Captain’s next words. She twirled around, her curls bouncing against her back as she was brought back to Wulf’s chest. She agreed with every single word from his mouth about Lucas. It was... strangely frustrating, that protectiveness that had risen up in her. Usually, she was only this die-hard over her own brother, and he had been one of the first people to be genuinely kind to her. Ris was a little caught up in her own thoughts, though, and ImageWulf suddenly drawing her near made her inhale sharply in surprise. Those blue eyes widened for a split second, barely enough to notice, and then she leaned forward the tiniest bit to catch every word from his mouth. "If you see anything strange or suspicious, find me, immediately. It is my duty to protect both you and the king, and I will allow no harm to come of you.” He said, and she nodded, just enough that he would be able to feel it and few would be able to see it.

“I will.” She murmured in promise, and it felt as if something was sealed between them. She moved away when Wulf's grip tightened and twirled once more, raising his hand above her own head in order to do so. Her hand then lit upon his shoulder once more.

Yes, she would tell him... Unless, of course, she was the suspicious thing. If it affected Lucas’ wellbeing, though... Well. He was quickly shifting higher on her list of priorities. She’d keep a weather eye out.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston
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I will. Her voice was so soft, so delicate, and her warm breath tickled at Wulf’s ear. That fragility, so easily broken. A subconscious sense of indemnity swelled in her chest; all she wanted to do was protect this young woman, and Wulf wasn’t sure why. Was it just because she was so frail? No, all women were fragile, and sure, Wulf felt a need to protect all life, but Ris was… different. Why? She didn’t know, and she wasn’t sure if she would ever know.

Wulf couldn’t stop the sigh of released tension that tumbled past her lips when the two pulled apart. And after that, when Ris had twirled once more, she couldn’t help but laugh softly. Now that all the seriousness was out of the way, Wulf wondered if she’ll be able to enjoy herself. Of course, she could never let her guard down, but perhaps she could do what people at parties are suppose to do, feast, dance, and drink. Responsibly, of course.

The music started to pick up from the slow waltz it was previously. Wulf smiled down at Ris, though it was more of a playful grin. “You know, that old woman didn’t just teach me slow dancing… I know my way around a jig.” With that, Wulf pulled Ris close once more, placing her hand on the blonde’s lower back for support. She danced the two around the floor, guiding them with the conjoined hands, spinning them around occasionally. Her feet bounced and moved with an immense amount of grace, despite the dance’s youthful nature.

At the end of the dance, Wulf pulled their hands apart only to grab Ris by her hips and hoist her into the air effortlessly. She spun the blonde around a few times before gently putting her back on her feet, making sure not to let go just in case she was dizzy. It was then that Wulf grew that faintest blush and cleared her throat after chuckling. “I, uh.. Sorry about that, Lady Ris. I got a little carried away. You probably want to be getting back to your brother...”

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston
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Wulf’s (perhaps relieved) sigh warmed Ris’ chest, inexplicably, and then his laughter made a smile come to her lips. She squeezed his hand playfully as she returned, feeling as if some sort of a weight had been removed from her shoulders. She wasn’t alone in her endeavors, it seemed. And there was something about the Captain that caught her off guard, made her think that... well, perhaps that nothing could possibly go wrong in that moment. Of course, she knew that that illusion would be soon to shatter, but it was nice to enjoy it in those few seconds.

She felt a little guilty in that moment, her mind going to the seed that had been planted in her heart for Lucas. Maybe she should be seeking him out, looking for him and trying to find him... Briefly, she glanced away, and her gaze lit upon him. He was just disappearing into a room with the king of Seabel, his brother-in-law, and she felt... Well, perhaps the tiniest bit ignored. Political ventures dealing with kingdoms over political ventures dealing with spouses. She couldn’t say she was exactly surprised, to tell the truth.

ImageHer gaze returned to Wulf the second that the Captain began to speak, and she couldn’t help but smile at her words, her gaze lighting up almost immediately. Truth be told, Ris loved to dance, and she didn’t think she was quite ready to leave either Wulf or the dance yet. There was something about the Captain that intrigued her, that perhaps he could see past her facades and her giggles. “How could she have taught you a jig if she was busy trying not to fall apart at the slightest breeze?” She raised an eyebrow at him playfully, and seemed about to go on before she was suddenly pulled back to Wulf’s chest.

The laugh that bubbled up upon being swept into a dance was genuine, and her eyes brightened at the silent answer to her question. Apparently, this old woman had done her job well. Ris followed expertly, successfully avoiding stepping on his feet as they leapt and twirled. “You have to introduce me to this woman,” She teased, her blue eyes bright.

The music reached a swell near the end, and Ris moved as if to spin out. Wulf’s hands were releasing hers, then, and confusion flicked across her expression before she realized what was about to happen. Laughter sparked in her gaze, a protest starting to form on her lips before the Captain suddenly caught her about her waist and she was hefted into the air as if she weighed nothing. She couldn’t remember having laughed this hard in ages, and perhaps the momentary freedom from expectations and decisions was getting to her. She braced her hands as best she could, holding tight to Wulf despite knowing that he wouldn’t drop her.

ImageThe song ended all too soon, and Ris was the tiniest bit dizzy by the time she was set upon her feet. She kept ahold of Wulf’s wrists, just in case, chuckling softly in the aftershocks. She immediately waved off any apologies, taking a deep breath to get herself under control. “You’re just destroying all my expectations of you, Captain.” She teased, pulling her hands back a little to push her white curls back behind her ears from where they had fallen into her eyes or were threatening to. “How did that teacher of yours teach you that?”ΩShe shook her head as he continued to speak, and after a moment of hesitation, she went up on her tiptoes, kissing his cheek gently. “Thank you.” She said earnestly, searching his gaze. “I haven’t danced like that in ages.” She admitted, and a little smile that pulled at her lips was the only remainder of the bouts of laughter that had shook her shoulders. That eyebrow went up again after a moment, amusement flickering in the deep blue. “And it’s Ris.” She reminded him gently, a little playfully. “Just Ris.” An unassuming nickname for a person who was far more than she seemed.

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston
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Wulf had to dampen her laughter just to hear what Ris was saying. You’re just destroying all my expectations of you, Captain. Wulf’s sharp, gray gaze followed her dainty hands as they pushed her blonde locks behind her ears. It was practically mesmerizing; she could watch that simple action all day. How did that teacher of yours teach you that?

Wulf smiled down at her, small chuckles still rolling off her tongue. “Well, I was taking lessons for a while-” Her humorous explanation was cut off when she felt, not saw, Ris lean up and kiss her cheek. Her soft, warm lips sent arcs of electricity down Wulf’s spine.

Thank you. I haven’t danced like that in ages.

It was then that Wulf’s modest blush grew, turning the tips of her ears and just above her chiseled jaw bright red. Why were they acting like this? Like little school girls, giggling and kissing with youthful infatuation. “I-I, uh… well..” Wulf cleared her throat, looking down at the ground, before realizing she was acting foolish. She wasn’t a child; she had pride. There was no need to act so silly. Wulf straightened her back, standing up fully. “You’re very welcome, lady Ris.”

And it’s Ris. Just Ris.

Wulf smiled, a genuine, jolly smile. “You’re welcome, Ris. Also, thank you for the dance.” She took a step back, still holding on Ris’ wrist. Shifting her grasp onto her hand, Wulf leaned forward, planting a tender kiss on the back of Ris’ hand. She let it linger, perhaps a second or two longer than she should have. And before sitting up, Wulf kissed slightly higher up on Ris’ wrist, but only for a quick moment. Blink and you would miss it.

Suddenly, a huge commotion broke out. Before even trying to process the situation, Wulf pulled Ris against her side, keeping her arm wrapped around her protectively. Her free hand sat on the hilt of her sword, ready to be drawn. Wulf’s glare turned fierce, unforgiving, as she scanned the room for a source of danger. However, the uproar died down quickly.

Wulf let out a deep breath, relaxing her shoulders. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that she realized she was still gripping onto Ris. She released her sturdy grip and took a step back, bowing apologetically. “Ah, sorry about that, Ris. It was… instinct. Perhaps we should go find King Lucas...”

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Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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Inexplicably, Loras’ chest warmed at the sound of the gruff laugh that the older man let out. Well, perhaps it wasn’t too inexplicable. He was... On edge, seeking comfort, and he would take anything given to him right then. The king smiled back, and Loras’ crooked grin grew genuine. His gaze flicked down for a moment, and then returned to him. Ulfric denied his bow, and he rose, straightening up again and letting his arms rest at his side. He had to look down a little to see the king of Ostwall, and he wondered for a bare second if he could pick him up. It was an interesting thing to consider, and it almost made him chuckle. Even if he could, Ulfric would probably clobber him if he even tried.

"Oh, stand up now. I'd rather speak to you as equals...too much of this 'Your Majesty' shit nowadays." The king spoke, and Loras did laugh softly at that, both surprised and unsurprised to hear the filter slip. The man had a fascinating accent as well, and he wished to have a little more time to deconstruct it.

“That’s what happens when you’re a monarch, sir.” Loras teased a little, before hesitating the barest bit. He was a little unused to not calling people of his standing “majesty” and such words. Certainly the queen rarely answered to any other title... The thought of her left a sour taste in his mouth, though, and he moved his thoughts away soon enough. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ulfric.” He spoke his name, turning it into rolling vowels and strong consonants. Already, the name was something of a marvel, and he turned it into something more so.

ImageThen, the screams began, and Loras knew that they needed to move quickly. He wasn’t expecting Ulfric to run off, though, after a few stumbled words. He went after him, initially, partly out of that desperate desire to not be alone and partly to support him, but... It seemed that he had it under control, better than he would have expected. The man had quite a bit of strength in him. Loras let his gaze linger upon him for a moment longer, his hand resting upon the pommel of his sword at his side, making sure that the prince wouldn’t punch Ulfric or destroy anything besides potentially reputations and a man’s face. The queen fled--commotion and noise rose and fell, and the crowd began to move. His gaze flicked across the general exodus, and he caught a glimpse of starbright hair.

Ris. He had to reach his sister.

Silently, he wished the king luck, and hoped that he would see him later that night. Then, he turned, silently hoping that Ulfric had understood his message, quickly moving through the crowd. “Ris!” He called as he pushed past a dark haired couple. Loria!!




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Ris was quickly learning that she absolutely loved making this man blush, and resolved to do so more often. And then he stumbled over his words, and she couldn’t help but smile, settling back onto her feet. She had to tip her head up to see him, even when he was crouched down like this, which was to say nothing of when he straightened up. The amused glint remained in her eyes, particularly at the use of the word Lady once more. Goodness, would he ever cease with that? The title was fitting, perhaps, and eventually she’d have to deal with worse, queen, majesty, highness, but she was determined to get as many people into good habits as she could before they all slipped into terrible ones.

Her heart warmed at the smile that touched the Captain’s lips, and she scoffed playfully at his words. “I didn’t do all that much.” She teased. “I don’t know if I could possibly pick you up and spin you.” She moved as if to move her hands to her hips, though that plan was soon foiled by his taking her hand. Now, it was her turn to almost blush, her pale cheeks dusted with pink. She was aware of the fact that the kiss lasted a little longer than proper, that Wulf’s lips were a little chapped, perhaps a little too aware. Then, the Captain kissed her wrist, and it was only with great self control that she kept her cheeks from turning strawberry red. She squeezed his hand gently, offering up a soft smile.

Her plans were all being foiled that day. She was about to speak, to tease the Captain, and then there was shouting and the sound of someone being pummeled and then she was being pulled. For a second, she tugged away, her lips slightly parted as she took in a breath, about to call her brother’s name, desperately hoping that he wasn’t in the mess. Where was he? A split second, and she realized that it was Wulf who was holding onto her. She let him, at last, holding tight to him as she scanned the room for both Lucas and Loras. Where were they? Were they okay? She never let that breath out, her fingers curling in Wulf’s shirt. Midway through, she went up on her tiptoes, trying to find either of them. Image

Luckily, wonderfully, the commotion turned to conversation all too soon. She realized how tight Wulf had been holding her only then, and she hugged him tight for a moment longer before releasing him. She kept ahold of his hand, not wanting to lose him in the sudden exodus, keeping it even as he bowed. She really wished that he had chosen another time to start considering her wishes concerning her name, she didn’t have time for a proper reaction then, but she still smiled at it. “You’re fine.” She told him, almost cutting off the word instinct. She nodded sharply in agreement with his next statement, tugging him back to her, reluctant to release him anytime soon. Finally, her gaze lit upon a blonde head--and she heard a familiar voice calling her name. Hope rose up in her chest, and she squeezed the Captain’s hand once more before leading him towards her brother.

“Loras!” She called out, and his head turned to see her. Relief was clear in both sets of blue eyes, and he moved towards her quickly, wrapping her up in a hug. She hugged him tight with her free arm, finding his hand next. “I saw Lucas, come on.” She told him, taking charge instantly and moving towards where she had seen the spot of red and blonde. “Lucas!” She called out. She sighed when they broke through the crowd, the worry melting away at last. Neither her brother nor her fiance were visibly wounded, and Wulf had been safe with her. She released both of the men at her side, moving forward to clasp Lucas’ hands. “Are you alright?” She questioned, looking him over just to make sure, concern coloring her voice.

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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Image Lucas wished he could've had more time with his young niece, but the night was growing late and the young girl needed to rest. He gave her a soft his on Giselle's forehead and bid her goodnight. "I suppose this is where our night ends, princess. I hope to see you again very soon." His eyes strayed to his sister standing nearby. "We have many years to make up and I look forward to every second." Elora quickly whisked the little princess away to prepare her for bed and he stood. Having finished official business with his sister and her husband, he hoped to spend a little time with his fiancè. Maybe a dance, a walk through the gardens, something peaceful and undiplomatic.

ImageAs his eyes searched for her in the crowds, his attention was caught by a commotion not far from where they were standing. The crowd quickly moved to make room for what sounded like a brawl, pushing the three royals back towards the door. Lucas immediately moved forward to make sure his captain and his fiancè were not caught in the mix, his heart hammered with worry. To his immense relief, they were not. It was the Prince of Ostwall, the King of Ostwall, and another man. Once that was made clear, he took off in search for Loria.

"Loria!" He called out, searching for her pale hair. "Ris!" Then he saw her, breaking through the crowds. He rushed towards her and allowed her to take ahold of his hands. He bowed his head, pressing his forehead to hers and smiled softly. "I'm alright," he replied reassuringly. "Are you? I heard the commotion and grew worried. I'm so thankful you're alright." It took him another moment to register that her brother, Loras, and the captain of his guards, Wulf were with her. He smiled gratefully at them. "Thank you for keeping her safe. I am also thankful that neither of you had been harmed."

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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The relief that Ris felt upon seeing Lucas was almost beyond words. Maybe she really was a worrier--hopefully, that wasn’t something that extended to all people, but she knew herself, and she often felt all too big for this tiny form. However, she had no plans to eat her way to a bigger heart, she reflected. Her shoulders relaxed a little once he assured her that he was alright, and she nodded at his question. “Don’t worry about us.” She promised with a little smile. “Wulf was wonderful.” She glanced back to the Captain, her smile still in place, and then looked to Lucas once more. Her smile grew the tiniest bit when he addressed Wulf and Loras, the latter of whom inclined his head in response.

For a brief moment, she wrapped her arms about her fiancee’s waist, hugging him tight, silently communicating the depth of her relief. “I really am glad you’re alright.” She said quietly, allowing herself this moment. Then, she stepped forward, squeezing her brother’s hand. She glanced across the general exodus for a moment, and then glanced back to both fiancee and Captain. “We should head back.” She spoke, and was grateful for her brothers embrace as he wrapped his arm around her.

“Let me walk you up.” Loras requested softly, and she nodded a little in response, recalling their earlier words and meeting his gaze. He searched hers for a moment, and she held him closer, as if she could protect her older, taller brother. It didn’t take long for them to make their way to Falor’s general residence, and Ris ushered both Wulf and Lucas in, promising she’d be right there and that she was with her brother and he would take care of her.

“What is it?” She asked softly, as soon as the door was closed. Loras exhaled slowly, taking her hands and squeezing them gently.

“You know how I speak about my mother.” He whispered, dipping his head down so that he could look at her, indecision and frustration tucked away in his voice. Ris drew her thumb over his knuckles with a gentle touch, nodding gently.

Image“You loved her.” She prompted.

“I saw a woman today... A little while ago. She reminded me of her, Ris, so... poignantly it hurt.” Loras couldn’t stand the separation any longer, and Ris seemed to be able to tell; goodness, how he loved his little sister. He gathered her near even as she stepped into his arms. “She looked kind.” He whispered, and then paused, clearly getting himself together as Ris hugged him tight, comforting him wordlessly. “And out of nowhere, she... She hears Juliana’s voice, and I’ve only seen that sort of fear on someone’s face when they know that they’re about to be hurt.” He spoke, at last. “Am I overreacting, Rissy?” He searched her gaze. His own were lost as a sailor at sea, gray as stormclouds and just as distant. Ris reached up with gentle hands, cupping his cheeks.

Image“You’re fine.” She promised, and his shoulders sagged at her assurance, at her calm, steady tone. He clung to her as if she were a rock in the midst of his stormy seas, as if she could keep him from being washed away. She held him tight in return, shifting to bring her brother closer to her, protecting him in her arms. “You’re sleeping with me tonight.” Her voice was firm, but gentle. He nodded a little in response, not having the energy nor the want to argue with her, and she pressed a kiss to his forehead. “You know I’ll stand by you.” She told him, pressing his head to her shoulder, where he hid away. “Whatever happens.”

“Thank you,” Loras’ voice was soft and a little hoarse. She smiled softly, before kissing his temple.

”You’re welcome.” Ris whispered. “Come on.” She shifted a little, keeping him near as she nudged the door open. She looked over Wulf and Lucas briefly, smiling a little at the sight of them before she stepped quietly towards her own bed with her brother still in her arms. She helped him to remove armor and trappings, the things she knew he often used to hide behind. She kissed his hair, loosening it from its braids, and then gently settled him onto the bed. She joined him after pulling on a nightgown, wrapping her arms around him from behind, and waited until his breathing evened out to follow him into slumber.

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston
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Image Ris released his hands and wrapped her arms around Lucas. At that moment, he felt something rise up in his chest so strong he couldn't breathe for a heartbeat. Then he wrapped his arms around her cradling her in his arms. He kissed the side of her head, gently and buried his face in her hair. And then she let go and he was forced to do the same. She moved from him and over to her brother, Loras, and took ahold of his hand. "We should head back," she said. He swallowed hard, and nodded. He motioned for Wulf to follow them and began to follow his fiancè and her brother.

He longed to hold her. He could picture it so clearly in his head. He'd reach for her and wrap her in his arms for another moment, and then he'd take her hand, and lead them to his room and they'd spend the night together. He shook is head once, realizing that Imagehis thoughts were unusual. This is the same girl that picked on him as a kid. But as he gazed at her, conversing with her brother, he could find no trace of that girl.

Once they made it to her room, which was beside his own, she held her brother and took him inside her room. "Goodnight, Loria." He said softly. As the door began to close, he took a step towards her door, reaching out for her and when the door shut, he froze. What did he mean to do? Ask her to abandon her brother when it was clear by his body language something was troubling him. He cleared his throat and straightened his outfit before turning to Wulf. He placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. In thanks for him protecting Ris and for him always standing by Lucas's side. "And goodnight, Wulf. Sleep well."

He opened the door to his room and stepped inside. The room was cold and he longed to climb under the sheets of his bed. He changed his clothes to silk night things and climbed into bed. He sighed, settling in for the night and felt an ache in his chest. He was under the blankets and a servant had started a fire in the fireplace. And, yet, he never felt such a cold ache in his bones.

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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The post-commotion was short-lived and flew by like a blur. Wulf allowed herself to be toted around by Ris, despite feeling slightly embarrassed. She felt like one of those weird small dogs that’s only purpose is to constantly be around their master uselessly. Those creatures purplexed Wulf; why would anyone want a hound that wasn’t for hunting? But that was besides the point.

Once Captain Loras joined their small party, they found King Lucas, who appeared unharmed, thank the gods. When Ris complimented Wulf, her aura glowed with pride despite the fact that she really didn’t do much. But when Lucas thanked her, she felt… less. It was just her duty, right? What she was trained to do. Ris then surged forward and embraced her fiancee, and the delight in her chest sunk into a pit in her stomach. Suddenly, all of the joy of the night flickered and died, and the harsh reality of the world she lived in struck her like lightning. This woman was married, or soon to be so, to her King. The man who rules her kingdom, generates her every command, and gives her her shekels at the end of the day. Her facial expression changed, turned to how it was before the events of the night. The deep blue of her eyes were overpowered by the stormy grey and the smile on her lips faded.

We should head back.

Wulf only grunted in response, already missing the feeling of Ris’ soft, warm hand in her own cold, callused one. She followed behind the group silently, her gaze remaining forward, never shifting. She constantly listened in on the conversations going on around her, taking silent notes. Only when Ris’ blonde curls dipped into her own room and disappeared did Wulf look up, her gaze hopeful. She didn’t even say goodnight. The phrase echoed in her brain until her glare turned glacial once more.

It wasn’t until Lucas put his hand on her shoulder that Wulf was jolted from her short trance. “And goodnight, Wulf. Sleep well.

Wulf’s sharp glare swept across the room before settling on the young king. “Goodnight to you as well, my King.” Without another word, Wulf turned and walked to her room, which was right beside her king’s and one over from Ris’. When she shut her door, it was perhaps a bit too hard, considering the fact that the sound echoed throughout the hall.

Once the door was shut, Wulf locked it, and before anything else, she tore her shirt off. She let out a cavernous groan, so deep it came from the pit of her stomach. It stretched her diaphragm as she unsheathed her sword. Accompanied by a mixture of ease and skill, Wulf lifted a single strap of the binding and slid the blade behind it. With a simple twist of her wrist, the binding tore and slowly unraveled. It took a few seconds, but Wulf just sat there and allowed it to fall onto the cold, hard ground. Once it was all gone, her breasts were free, and she let out a relieved breath. It was risky, sleeping in another person’s castle without shielding her true identity. But her shoulders and ribs hurt, and she needed some real rest.

Wulf stripped off her pants as well, leaving her in just men’s underwear. Within the remaining garments was a piece of polished wood, strapped between her legs. It served it’s purpose, but many a woman has gotten the wrong idea since she’s, well, always firm. As she quietly made her way towards her bed, she was stopped in her tracks. On one of the walls was a full body mirror. Although it was dark, her silhouette was visible, and she paused, staring at her reflection. The visible curve of her breasts and her bulge made her smile. But it was a reticent smile, followed by a taciturn laugh. The situation she was in was… so silly. Foolish. Mad, even. Absurd. Here she was, a woman, dressing, fighting, talking, acting like a man, to live a life of nobility and strength. It was hilarious to her, how if anyone found out who she really was, all of her past accomplishments and noble deeds would be disregarded, and she would be shunned. It doesn’t matter what she did, just because she didn’t have a penis, she was worthless. Practically.

But then there was the self-denigration. She was a freak. Why couldn’t she be like the other women? Like Ris? Why couldn’t she love a man and be a pretty face beside him, pumping out children at his want and whim? But then again… that wasn’t was Ris was.

Wulf ran her fingers through her hair, which had started to fringe up. Maybe she didn’t want to be Ris. Maybe she… maybe she wanted… wanted her?

“Stop.” Wulf stared at herself in the mirror as if she was scolding one of her unruly trainees. She even pointed at her reflection. “You know what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, Chryseis. We’ve worked too hard for this, don’t let your cock get in the way.” Her voice was filled with true venom and hatred for herself, for the way she was. Her eyes were wide, wild, and her frizzed hair added to her feral look.

Without another word, Wulf turned and walked to her bed. If she stayed there, she feared that she would have shattered that mirror. The bed received her tired, limp body happily, so plump and soft and seemingly warm already. She was exhausted, mentally and physically, and she had no idea why. She barely did anything. Perhaps that’s why sleep didn’t come easily. For hours she tossed and turned under the blankets, her mind refusing the rest. Only when she thought the sun was surely up did Wulf surrender to the deity of sleep.

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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A collab between Starlight and Demai




The sun was absolutely brutal; the Eastern Palace never got heat like this. It seemed as if every ray of sunlight was beating down on Wulf, who was wearing a suit of armor, albiet light. Her metal chestplate, shoulder guards, gauntlets, protected her upper half, while leather plates guarded her thighs, groin, and shins. Her wolf helm sat on her head, opened for now, so the whooping crowds around her could see her face. Rook, her sturdy courser, knew what was going on. The stallion was playing up the crowd, throwing his head back, stomping his hooves, trotting about in a circle. Wulf simply allowed this to happen, with her red and black lance in hand. Personally, Wulf prefers the melee over the joust. Swordfighting was, is, a big part of her life, running at people with ten foot long poles was not.

Wulf was busy gazing elsewhere, searching the royal crowd for both her king and his soon to be wife. Once she caught sight of those light blonde curls, she seemed to relax a bit more, and she wasn't sure why. Wulf was to joust against Ris' older brother, the captain of Seabel's guard. And she wasn't sure which situation was worse; her losing the joust and embarrassing herself, or winning the joust and having Ris be angry with her for injuring her brother. Stop that. One person being mad at you will not amount to your whole kingdom being mad at you. She told herself, over and over, but Ris wasn't just one person.

A quiet horn was sounded, warning the jousters that they must get into positions. It was then that Wulf's expression changed. They wanted a show? They were going to get a show. She pulled back on Rook's reigns, and the horse reared, whinnying loudly, while Wulf thrusted her lance into the air. The crowd went crazy, hollering and chanting the two captain's names'. When Rook's front hooves hit the ground, Wulf jerked her head downwards, closing her helm so that only her sharp grey eyes were visible. She steered her steed to their position, shifting her grip on her shield.

Ris truly wished that she could get closer to what was happening, despising her place so far away from the railing. As future queen of Falor, she was seated up and away from the field. It was probably meant to give her a better view and a better chance at keeping her dress clean from dust--but truly, she couldn't care less. The material was dark, and it was her brother down there, his hair tied back and his helmet tucked under his arm, and Ris' hand was white-knuckled where she held to the armrest of her seat. The rest of her body language was calm, if tense. Image

She met her brother's gaze for a moment, offering up an encouraging smile, and he grinned in return. He was doing better after last night, and silly as it was, she'd made him take a kerchief of her own. It was hanging off the end of his lance, tied carefully, and silently, she wished him luck. He'd be okay, she told herself. She was simply a worrier.

Of course, that only got worse the second that she glanced to her brother's opponent. She knew those eyes--they had been full of laughter the night before, lifting her off her feet and spinning her around. Her brother was going up against Wulf? She'd thought he was going later, she may have hoped that he was going later--and yet, there he was, his horse's hooves kicking up plumes of dust. She wasn't surprised, she had to say. Two Captains from either side of a civil war... If it was a show that the masses wanted, she thought, not realizing that she was echoing Wulf's own thoughts, it would certainly be found here. On instinct, she reached out a little, finding Lucas' hand even as she mouthed good luck to Wulf.

Loras had recognized his opponent as well, shooting him a vaguely amused look as he ran a gloved hand over his horse's mane, soothing it as he murmured to it. Perhaps he'd be able to use this Captain's flair for the dramatic against him--but in all reality, he knew not to underestimate anyone at that point. Certainly, he'd learned that at age thirteen, when he first met his little sister. The horn sounded--he looked to his sister once more for support, and chuckled at the sudden screams that came from the stands. He mirrored Wulf's stance, his lance reaching for the clouds as if intent on conquering them next, bellowing a warlike cry that was immediately returned by his men, who were doubtless going to tease him silly whether he won or lost. Then, he moved into his position across from the other Captain as Ris barely dared to breathe, her blue eyes fixed upon the scene before them and her hand holding tightly to her fiance's, seeking comfort from him in some way. "Best of luck to you," Loras called to Wulf, as his horse pawed at the ground.

Rook flared his nostrils and snorted, shaking his head and long mane, with his dark eyes gleaming in the sunlight. The mount was as enthralled as she was. "And too you as well, Captain." She shouted, her own voice echoing within her helmet. The moments before the horn sounded seemed to last for ever with time slowing down. Wulf was hyper aware of her senses; the smell of dirt and sweat, the sight of every chink in Loras' armor, the feeling of Rook's beastly muscles flexing and shifted anxiously, and the noise of the crowds shouting and hollering. But the loudest sound to Wulf was her own breathing, one in, one out. Her heartbeat thundered in her chest, but at a slow rate. This was a battle, and Wulf knew how to battle.

Wulf's whole body grew tense at the bellowing of the starting horn, but she quickly relaxed, along with a wide grin spreading across her face. She raised her lance and tilted her head back, shouting at the top of her lungs, "For Falor, yah!" Rook screamed along with her as soon as he started to break into a full-tilt gallop, and the crowd exploded, pounding on the ground and rafters, shouting the Captains' names with rhythm once more.

Now the that joust had started, time seemed to slow down. Wulf placed her lance accordingly, aiming it at Loras' shield. But just before the two of them collided, she shifted it upwards, aiming it at the chink in the armor between Loras' chest and shoulder pieces. Meanwhile, the second that her opponent's lance would have collided with her shield, Wulf shifted both the shield and in her saddle, so that the lance would just scrape by. It seemed as if Wulf was being knocked off her saddle, but she knew exactly what she was doing; her powerful thighs still had a firm hold on her horse.

Loras moved his faceplate down, sea-blue eyes cloudy and unreadable behind the metal. He took a deep breath, letting himself calm, taking in his opponent. He was aware of only a few sets of eyes on him, but those were the most important. Whether he won or lost, he'd make them proud, he hoped. He had little to nothing to lose in either case--he wasn't a betting man, and this wouldn't be deciding the fate of two kingdoms or anything. If so, Seabel and Ostwall would already be in huge trouble.

For a moment, just this moment, everything was an extension of him. The lance a finger, the horse his legs. He wasn't just in the fight, he was the fight. The sun shone off his armor, the dust clung to the soles of his shoes--and what a sight the two of them were, preparing to run at each other for a crowd's entertainment. He echoed Wulf's yell, supporting his kingdom of Seabel, his own deep voice rising to the crowd and sparking screams in return. Regardless of all else, this was still his kingdom right then.

His horse started off--his gaze was fixed on Wulf, the lance aimed for the shield. His fatal flaw was that he wasn't planning on dismounting him on the first round. One hit for entertainment, and then they would go true. Moments before they hit, though, Wulf's lance moved--and while Loras' hit the shield, likely throwing her grip off somewhat, the other Captain's lance hit where it aimed. A sharp stab of pain hit him, and the resounding clang was barely heard by him. Ris was halfway to her feet by the time he reached the other side, his horse turning around without his instruction.

Rook followed Wulf's silent orders, turning at the other end of the field. Wulf shifted her grip on her lance, flexing her fingers to make sure hold was just as strong. Whilst letting out a deep breath, she rolled her shoulders and stretched her neck. She felt confident, knowing that she had hit exactly where she wanted to. The blow to the shoulder would weaken Loras' grip on his lance, meaning it wouldn't be as hard for Wulf to deflect his strikes.

The crowd's whooping and hollering sent a surge of strength through Wulf. Despite the fact that she was deep into Seabel, the citizens around her were still shouting her name, desiring her victory just as much as her.

When the horn sounded once more, Wulf let out another rallying cry, thrusting her lance into the air before Rook surged forward. She aimed her lance at Loras' shield once again, but, similar to the last time, Wulf shifted her lance. The tip of it was aimed at Loras' thigh this time, right at the chink between the bottom of his chestplate and the top of his thigh guard.

Loras was well aware that he likely wouldn't make it much into the second round by the time they got turned around. He grinned at the sounds of the crowd, in any case, letting the competition melt away in favor of having a little fun. He winked up at his sister, offering her silent reassurance that allowed her to settle back into her chair at last. He rolled his shoulder back, twirling his lance in the air, leading his horse in a playful little trot that gained laughter from the multitudes. Then, he faced front once more, leveling his lance forward. "If you'd avoid lopping my limbs off, I'd be mighty grateful," He quipped, amusement clear in his gaze.

Then, the horn sounded once more and off they went, hooves thundering and dust rising and crowds screaming--

Loras' gaze flicked up to the king of Ostwall, this time, catching the tiniest bit of movement out of the corner of his eye. No one would be able to tell the source of this, the smallest of distractions, and his gaze was back on his opponent in seconds. He laughed, the sound rising above it all, a sound both familiar and unfamiliar. Then, Wulf's lance hit its mark--and as he lost his grip in a dramatic manner, he swatted at him with the lance, using it as an extension of his arm. It made little difference, of course, but it made the other Captain's armor clang like a gong, as if signifying the end of the match

Loras hit the ground, the breath knocked out of him a little, the lance ending up near his hand as the dust dimmed the shimmer of his armor.

Wulf couldn't help but smirk when Captain Loras hit the ground, even if it had been in quite the exacerbated manner. This was a victory for not only Wulf, but for Falor, regardless of how ridiculous or silly he made the event out to be. Rook could sense the shift in expression from his master as she sat back. The black stallion began trotting in an ambling gait, his tail swishing behind him playfully. Wulf could only chuckle. The courser did look gorgeous; she would have to tip Seabel's stable boy later.

She did, however, steer the horse to the end of the field before turning and making his way back towards the other Captain. When the two were near, Wulf hopped out of the saddle and landed in the dirt with a steady stance. Walking towards Loras, Wulf pulled her helm off, shaking her sweaty locks around for a moment before standing over the brunet Captain. She held out her free gloved hand, the smile on her face filled with exuberance and sincerity opposed to maliciousness. "My apologies, friend. The removal of your limbs will be saved for the melee. It's much harder to tear off an arm with a stick than a sword, no?" Wulf let out a deep, hearty laugh, hoping the brunet will tolerate her joke and take her hand to both help him up and shake it.

Loras was already sitting up, brushing himself up a little. His focus was only halfway on the way his men were laughing, ready to tease him the second he returned, and the other Captain walking towards him. He was silently assuring his little sister in that moment, promising that he was okay. She was returning the reassurance, ensuring that he knew that all was alright.

He soon looked to Wulf, though, chuckling and taking the offered hand, standing up and taking off his helmet. "You've got good aim." He told him with a crooked grin, pushing his fingers through his hair, getting loose strands out of his eyes. He laughed wholeheartedly at his words, raising an eyebrow at him. "It only takes dedication." He admonished

Wulf let out another deep laugh with a youthful twinkle in her eye as she shook the other man's hand. "Thank you friend, although I can't say I've had much practice charging at people with a ten foot long pole in my hand." Once she released Loras' hand, Wulf grabbed at Rook's reigns, pulling the stallion closer. "I hope I didn't hurt your shoulder too much, perhaps your sister should take a look at it once we join her and the other royals?" Wulf offered, starting to walk towards the stables and silently hoping Loras would get the message and walk with her. Before exiting the field, she waved to the crowd and held her helmet in the air, enjoying the excited cry of the citizens.

"As much as I love Ris, she's not the most perfect of nurses." Loras chuckled, reaching out to find his own horse's reins, reaching up to pat its cheek gently. "She'll be more likely to worry all over me than I am, though." She often worried about his wellbeing far more than he did. Pain was a strange thing to him, to be entirely honest, and perhaps it was something of a good thing, for when a person such as them went down in a real fight, it would cause loss of morale and faith and a thousand other things.

He glanced to Wulf for a moment, tucking his own helmet under his free arm. He seemed to consider saying something, but then a familiar woman with white-blonde hair was waving to them. He grinned up at his sister, raising his helmet into the air for her as he walked alongside Wulf, catching the hint. He rolled his shoulder back absentmindedly, running his fingers along his horse’s mane. He had a way with these animals, it seemed, it calmed at his touch almost automatically.

Wulf couldn’t help but glance up at the royals as well, letting her gaze linger on Ris, perhaps a bit more than she should have. She couldn’t help but clench her jaw slightly; the blonde was too busy fawning over her brother. Stop it, Chryseis. That’s her brother that she barely gets to see. Of course she loves him. When the two of them had left the field, she relaxed a bit more now that they weren’t under the watchful eye of the public.

“Well, sorry about hurting you regardless. These events have a rather… barbaric nature to them, don’t they? Injuring each other for just entertainment. Ah whatever, I suppose that now isn’t the best time to discuss morals.” She shifted her grip on the reigns and Rook snorted, nudging his big head against Wulf’s. She chuckled and patted his nose, and he seemed satisfied.

By the time they reached the stables, the two had engaged in quiet, meaningless conversation. Wulf went about taking the saddle off of Rook, who stretched himself out and shook his head. “I’ve always found these creatures interesting. Most men ride their horses into battle, and if the beast dies, they continue fighting on. The poor horse wouldn’t even know about the situation he’s entering.” Wulf patted Rook’s muscular neck before reaching into a bucket and pulling out a couple of carrots. “Rook has fought many battles with me and sired many a young, strong stallion and mare; I’d be heartbroken if he died.” She couldn’t help but smile.

Loras did catch the slight twitch in the other Captain’s expression as he looked back to him, raising one eyebrow ever so slightly. His gaze flicked back up to the royals, finding nothing there to irritate her, save for his purple-clad sister settling back into her seat. The blonde’s gaze went to Wulf as soon as the other man looked away. Just as Wulf’s gaze had lingered, so did Ris’. She bit her bottom lip, wishing not for the first time that she wasn’t confined to the top tier, that she could move about as she wished. She exhaled slowly, leaning back in her seat, her arms resting upon the chair. What was she doing? In all honesty.

Loras met her gaze once more, and she sent silent assurance that allowed him to walk onward. He glanced back to Wulf as they stepped from the arena. “Much of what we do has a barbaric nature.” He hummed. It wasn’t something new--often, life seemed to be gritty and short. For a man to live into his fifties was something incredible, and his thoughts went to Ulfric, a slight stab of fear momentarily entering his chest that he soon put away to the side. That was a thought for another time. He chuckled at his next words. “There’s something to be said about the crowd fervor, though.” He mused. There was a rush that every combatant got, a thundering of veins and a desire to run straight into things. He glanced to the horse, patting his own as they walked. He passed the reins off to a stableboy soon enough, thanking him and then focusing on the other Captain.

“I find that you can gauge a person by how they treat their servants and their animals.” He mused, crossing his arms before him. Not parents, though, really, he hadn’t spoken to his father of his own accord in years. He smiled at his words, remaining where he was, reaching up to push a strand of dark hair away from his eyes. “You seem to take very good care of him.” He spoke. “It’s rare to see a horse this shiny.” He teased a little. There was a brief pause, and then; “You know, I never pegged you for a dancer.” He hummed, amusement clear in his gaze.

Wulf took pride in the compliment to Rook, in fact, the stallion even seemed to stand up a bit straighter. “Only the best for my boys. You should see my hounds. They stayed back at the Eastern Palace, but they’re pampered like kings.” She laughed quietly before shutting the horse’s stall door with her hip. When Loras brought up the dance, Wulf tensed slightly, expecting some sort of snide and or protective comment about his sister. The statement was a little cheeky, but Wulf still smiled. “Well, neither did my dance teacher. Trust me, I had two left feet in the beginning, despite my deftness on the battlefield.” She waved to the stable boy before exiting the building with Loras.

She then made a wide gesture towards the royals’ rafters. “Shall we join Lady Ris and the others?”

“You should bring them next time. Perhaps it would get Capheus off of my back for a little while. He’s determined that his poor dog is terribly lonely.” Loras’ amusement soon translated into his voice. He had an affection for the man, but really, he was the most exciting of the Auclair siblings. He still suspected him of having been the one to borrow his favorite sword out of the armory right when he wanted it--but of course, it having been returned in shining perfection, he had little proof. He noted how Wulf tensed a little, and he was prepared to drop the subject entirely, until the other Captain was suddenly speaking.

ImageHe chuckled softly, nodding in response. “Then you’ve improved much. Ris looked very happy.” He spoke, nodding to the stable boy before they turned, returning to the sunlight. “Probably a good idea.” He agreed, tilting his chin up the tiniest bit so that he could see the seats where the general royalty currently resided. He knew that he had another round later, but for that moment, he had little to do. Perhaps he could seek Ulfric out, he thought, befriend him a little more thoroughly... In any case, he glanced back to Wulf, extending a gloved hand. “Good game.” He murmured with a little smile, in way of congratulating him.

Wulf met his gloved hand with her own, shaking it firmly, a proud grin on her lips. “Good game to you too, Captain. Hopefully we’ll have a rematch at some point.” After their handshake and friendly words, the two made their way up to where the royals were sat. But once Ris was in eyesight, it seemed as if Wulf completely forgot about the other captain. Her grin turned pleasant, amiable, as she took the empty seat besides Ris. After a few seconds of silence, Wulf realized that she had no idea what to say. Here she was, a noble, formidable leader of war, and she was stunned, practically brought to her knees by this young, attractive, blonde, married woman. Her body language grew rigid, a light redness dusting about her cheeks. “I, uh… Hey. How are you doing? What did you think?” She spoke quickly, hoping to wave away the short moment of embarrassment she just had when she stumbled over her words.

Loras had no seat there, and was poignantly reminded of the split between their kingdoms. He ruffled his sister’s hair, making her chuckle and bat his hand away. She squeezed his wrist gently, and he took up residence behind her for then, watching the show. Ris kept ahold of his wrist, her arm bent as she pressed his hand to her shoulder. When would be the next time they saw each other, after this? Sooner rather than later, she hoped. She offered Wulf a little smile as the Captain sat down, amusement flickering in her gaze at the silence. “Wulf.” She greeted him by name, filling it at least a little. “Better, now that I know you both can still walk.” She hummed in response. “Thank you for not wounding my brother too much. Between us, he’s terribly ticklish.” She lowered her voice teasingly, making him scoff behind her. She chuckled, brushing her thumb over his pulse. “If you find yourself in need of an edge.” She added, entirely innocently.

Her gaze went to her fiance for a moment, and she squeezed his hand gently, both of her hands occupied for then. Then, she looked back to Wulf. The three people she was finding she cared for most were all there right now, and... For a moment, amid the dust and the sun and the screams of the crowd, the woman who had never been satisfied knew what contentment was. Perhaps it was silly, perhaps she was being selfish, but she could almost think of them all as hers for a moment. Then, she reminded herself that they were all present right then, and she should probably go on. “I think the crowds screamed loudest for you two.” She hummed. “You both were wonderful.”

Wulf’s gaze, although softened at the moment, was still keen, ambling over those around her. It mostly lingered on Loras, Lucas and Ris; oh how she was jealous of the men around her. Both were able to touch and hold Ris without the judgement of others. Wulf paused in her observation, realizing that she was, once again, staring silently. She cleared her throat before continuing to talk. “Well, I had hoped that we would both get out of there unharmed, and it seems as if the gods have graced us today for the most part.” Wulf shot a passing glance at Loras with a smile on her face, as if they were sharing an inside joke.

Despite her inability to feel Ris’ warm, soft skin against her own, Wulf was filled with a pleasant sense of ease. All was well, the three kingdoms were sitting together, participating in friendly sport, and even though hearts were racing and crowds were cheering, everything was, in it’s own sense, calm. Wulf let out a deep, relaxing breath, and allowed herself to sink into her chair, enjoying the tranquility. And when Ris complimented her, the pride in her chest swelled, and she sat up again straighter. “Thank you. Your brother and I were just discussing the barbarity of these events, despite their entertainment factor. If only we could amuse a crowd in a more civil manner… Alas, changing tradition is a difficult task, so it seems as if we’re stuck thrusting poles and swords at each other in jest until the end of the day.”

Ris waited patiently for him to speak, using the time to pay attention to the hands that she held. Both were bigger than hers, rougher than hers, but if Loras was anything to go by, hers were the more soothing. Said Captain offered Wulf a crooked smile at her words, and Ris smiled at her reaction. She chuckled softly, wryly, at her words. “Our society is a strange place.” She murmured. One with strange traditions and ideas. “But not nonsensical. People are entertained by things that make them feel alive.” She glanced across the field for a moment, across the gathering of nobles and kings and normal people. “And there is something about being near danger that makes one feel alive.” Her voice was quiet, and Loras squeezed her hand gently.

For one always seeking and never finding, perhaps this was the most alive she had felt in a long time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont
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#, as written by Demai
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A collab between Cryptic and Demai




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Lucas was distracted throughout his Captain of the Guard's joust against his fiancè's brother, Loras. His mind was in his own joust. He would be up against Cyprian, his brother-in-law. He had watched the joust between him and the prince of Ostwall. If there was one thing Lucas wasn't, it was a jouster. He could ride a horse just fine, but if you add a really long stick and balance, he was likely to fall flat on his face. And Cyprian was older, stronger, and more experienced. Did he stand a chance?

He felt a squeeze at his hand and looked down, startled out of his thoughts. Ris was holding tight as she watched the joust. He squeezed her hand back, but didn't turn his attention to the joust before them, or even to his thoughts on his joust. Instead, he was looking at her. How did he never realize the things to admire about Loria. Her smiles were stunning, her laughter was infectious, and her hair always smelt amazing and looked so shining and soft. He often wanted to reach out and curl a lock around his finger.

Then the match ended, but Lucas wasn't sure who the winner had been. His body was beginning to shake with nerves. He knew he had to steady himself or he would definitely loose. He wasn't sure what he was so worried about. If he lost, he lost. It didn't say anything about his abilities as king... Did it? Wulf and Loras, now finished with their joust, walked towards Ris and Lucas and she greeted them warmly. Lucas, on the other hand, barely nodded their way before walking down to the stables to prepare his horse and gear. And ready himself. He didn't mean to be rude. His mind just wasn't in the present.

Even in her slight distraction, focused too much on the match where Lucas wasn't paying attention, she could feel his shaking. She rubbed her thumb over his knuckles, soothing him gently, wordlessly. She spoke to Wulf and her brother, but kept Lucas' hand near, lending him her silent support. Then, out of the blue, he stood up. "Lucas?" She questioned, her attention going to him. She excused herself from brother and Captain, squeezing her brother's hand and Wulf's shoulder before going after her fiance. She went at a light jog, her hands full of her skirts. She let half of it go when she reached him, finding his hand once more. She had to admit, she did love holding his hand.

"Lucas." She spoke gently, soon wrapping her arm around him instead, drawing him into half a hug. "You're trembling."

Lucas opened his mouth to reassure her that he was fine, but nothing came out. Instead, he gulped and returned her hug. "To be honest with you, Ris. I'm terrified.' He laughed at himself and shook his head. "I don't know what it is I'm afraid of. Falling from a horse isn't new and i've suffered worse wounds from sword duels." He sighed. "Maybe I'm worried about how losing would make me look to my kingdom." He looked down at her, wanting badly to place a soft kiss on her forehead. It was a new feeling, to want to be affectionate to Ris. "How I would look to you." Image

He wanted to run his hands through his hair, a nervous habit of his, but one hand was on Ris's shoulder in their half-hug and the other was held tightly by his fiancè. His own words seemed to sink in, then. That's what his problem was. He didn't want to be made a fool of. Not in front of his possible enemies and definitely not in front of his fiancè. His Ris. his heart stuttered a bit at that thought, but he moved past it before he could really stop to focus on it. He stopped their movement for a moment and looked into her eyes, dropping his arm, but holding tight to her hand. "Ris, I'm worried about looking like a fool. If I fail, would it appear that I can't lead my kingdom? That I can't protect you? I know it's only a joust, but these people can be vicious, as I'm sure you know. It's more than just a sport to them." He leaned his forehead down to rest it against hers as he had in his relief the night before at finding her safe. "It makes me sick to think that someone might harm you because they believed I couldn't protect you. That they would use you to get to me."

Ris held him a little closer at that, hesitating for the barest moment before leaning up to press a gentle kiss to his cheek. "If Cyprian hurts you, he'll never catch the end of it." That much, she knew. She hated the idea of him being hurt in any way, and she held him a little closer for it. It wouldn't be the first time that she saw someone she loved wounded, her brother was Captain of the Guard for goodness' sake. But it was still something that she would never grow used to. She recalled seeing some of his scars, finding herself momentarily wishing to trace them and knowing that it was likely a bad idea, at least right then. "Losing a joust won't lose you any love from the people." She promised, and her gaze softened at his words. "Or from me." She told him, and sounded entirely confident of that.

She exhaled slowly, squeezing his hand gently and keeping him near. "My brother just lost a joust." She pointed out gently. "And he won't be losing any respect for it. It's a game, Lucas." She promised. She tipped her head up a little to gaze at him, searching his beautiful eyes. Her chest both warmed and tightened at his words. She released his hand for a moment, reaching up to cup his cheek, rubbing her thumb over the bone. "No one will hurt me." She told him. "I swear." She pressed a brief kiss to his forehead. "And I won't let anyone hurt you." For one so small, for a moment, it seemed as if she could command the very stars to protect her fiance. Regardless of winning or losing, she would keep him safe. [color=#1C5BC7][b]"You will be okay." She spoke softly. "Both of us will be. Your job is to have a good time, and that's all you have to worry about. At words, they'll gossip, but there isn't any shortage of that already. You won't lose anything either way." She offered up a soft smile at that.

There was a bit of shock in his eyes at her words. Did she just...Does she love me?" He wondered. They stood so close together, and her kisses were so reassuring. He wanted to believe her. Her hand gently cupped his cheek and he leaned his face into it, nuzzling her palm ever so slightly. She vowed to protect him, which made him smile softly. Does she truly love me?" Her words were soft and they were so close. Their faces were inches apart. Their exhaled breaths mingling between them. He took their intwined fingers in his free hand and brought the back of her hand to his lips. He smiled softly as he gaze into her eyes, longingly.

"Ris," He began, tracing small circles on the back of her hand. "How did we spend so many years practically ignoring each other? It hasn't been long that your father has brought us together in such a way and yet..." He looked down at their hand and then returned his gaze to her eyes. "And yet, I feel as if my world would suddenly be incomplete without you in it."

He reached up to tuck a strand of her loss hair behind her ear. He curled the lock around his finger for a moment before dropping it and bringing his hand to cup her cheek. "Loria," he whispered breathlessly. "I believe I may have fallen in love with you." His fingers slid down her jawline to her chin and he lifted it. At the same time, he leaned down towards her and pressed his lips ever so gently to hers. His other hand reached around her to the small of her back and held her closer to him. He prayed it was the right move. That she wouldn't be overwhelmed and disappear. He wasn't sure he could take it. Not after her words. Not after her kisses. Not after her vow to protect him. This was his vow to her. Nothing would ever harm her and he would never make her unhappy.

Ris was infinitely aware of how near they were, suddenly, sharing breath. She was close enough to see the flaws in his irises, and she let her hand slip into his hair for a moment, in hopes of keeping him near. She didn't think she could stand it if he moved away all of a sudden, but judging by the look in his eyes, neither of them were going anywhere anytime soon. A faint dusting of pink colored her cheeks when he kissed her hand, and she searched his gaze for a moment. He spoke her name, and Ris loved how the familiar nickname turned into something so gentle on his lips. A soft laugh dropped from her lips, and she shook her head a little, though she couldn't bring herself to look away from him for even a moment. "We were children." She murmured. And perhaps they still were, but... "How are children to know the things of the future?"

For a second, she could almost allow herself to be grateful to her father. In general, she held little affection for the man. But if it weren't for him and his plans and whatever else, she wouldn't be standing there right then. She couldn't help the smile that came to her lips at his words, and now it was her turn to take their hands and draw them near, kissing his knuckles softly. For the first time, she had hope that she would be able to find some form of satisfaction in her life. Perhaps she wouldn't always be searching... And to think. All of this had just been under her nose, waiting for her.

She leaned into his touch automatically, forgetting about keeping the hem of her skirt up, not quite caring at that point. She caressed his cheek softly, smiling at how gently he treated her. She was by no means delicate, but the thought that she could be something other than cold was appealing. He used her full name this time, and she opened her mouth to tell him that she was only Ris, that she wasn't a far-off Loria. She was familiar, she hoped. But perhaps the use of her true name was fitting for the next words that he spoke. Her hand went to grasp his wrist, and his words and his touch almost took her breath away. As it was, for a moment, she forgot how her lungs worked. She barely had time to respond with anything besides his name before he was kissing her, and she smiled into his lips, drawing him down to kiss him softly in reply. It felt as if something slotted into place inside of her as she recognized how well they fit together. Silently, she promised that she was going nowhere. "You believe?" She murmured playfully when he finally pulled away, and she kissed his nose. "Well, I believe I return the feelings, Luca." She shortened his name affectionately.
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His new nickname as well as her confession of feeling the same way about him as he did her undid him. A bright, happy smile spread across his face and lightening his eyes. Luca. He liked the sound of that on her lips. It was a nickname that only she was allowed to use. He scooped her up into his arms, so she was gazing down at him, and spun her around. He never knew happiness like this before. He was suddenly so sure about everything his future held for him. As long as she was by his side, he could do anything. He could joust his brother-in-law and win or lose, he would feel like a winner.

He set her down once more and placed a kiss on her forehead, nose, and--finally--her lips before he took a hold of her hand, his confidence restored, and lead her towards the stables. "Ris, I can do this now. I can see it." He looked at her, still grinning like a madman. "I can do anything as long as you're by my side. You feel the same don't you?" They entered the stables, oblivious to anyone else and he gathered his armor, ready for "battle". "Care to help me out?"

Once he was ready, he said, "I will protect you. I promise. No matter what comes our way. I know you have my back." He gave her one final kiss. "I love you, Ris."

Ris couldn't help but smile at how his face lit up, and she made a sound of surprise when she was suddenly lifted once more, as if she weighed absolutely nothing. She couldn't help but laugh, holding tight to him just as she had held tight to Wulf the night before. Her heart warmed at the thought of Wulf as well. These two men... Goodness, how had she become this lucky? And on the other hand, how had her life become this complicated? She hadn't expected affection to come out of this engagement... Much less affection towards two different people. She hadn't even considered the possibility that her affections might be returned in either case. And... perhaps this gave her a little more hope with Wulf as well.
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She settled back onto her feet, gazing up at him with mirth in her eyes and his nickname on her lips. "I adore you." She teased gently, clearly informing him that he was silly at the same time. Was she just fun to lift up off the ground, she wondered. She wrapped her arms around him, hugging him close and kissing him softly in return. Her whole chest warmed at how he looked; it seemed that if she asked, he would leap to the moon and bring it back. She squeezed his hand, kissing his knuckles for good measure. "I do." She confirmed with a little smile. "And whatever happens, I'll be supporting you." She promised. That would never change. She chuckled softly, releasing his hand only to find the chainmail that he would wear underneath his armor, helping to clothe him in his armor. "How you can stand to wear this much metal all at once, I will never know." She teased.

She finished helping him, securing breastplate and guards and buckles. "I know you will." She told him as she came to his front once more, finding both of his now gloved hands, squeezing them gently. "Stay intact." She instructed him, searching his gaze and then kissing him back softly. "I'll be cheering for you." She promised with a soft smile. She kissed his forehead once more, for good luck, and then drew back. "I love you too." She told him. Then, she watched as he walked away from her. She reassured herself with the thought that he would return to her, and then picked up her skirts, starting back towards the seats so that she would have a better view of him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Capheus Auclair
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Juliana laughed along with Capheus after she heard his comment about a teenaged Cyprian. She shook her head and waved her hand in the air, trying to catch her breath as she did after a small sigh. She imagined a young Cyprian, arrogant and cocky, as if the world rested upon his shoulders. She looked over towards him once again and saw a certain look in his eye. She didn't want to say anything about just yet but when the time came, she knew that she was. When he spoke about the cheater, she nodded her head towards him. "Yes. That's him. I still want his head on a spike." Juliana said through clenched teeth as she was still determined to catch the little, foul worm.

Her eyes diverted over towards when he said that he was always sleepy. She thought it was a cover-up so that he wouldn't have to answer her question, so she let it go either way because she adored Capheus. "You slept through an earthquake? Really, Capheus?" She tapped her chin with her index finger as she then pointed towards him. "I was wondering why I didn't see you in the safe building I had gathered everyone at." She muttered while her eyes peered before her. She had shushed Capheus for a moment as Loras was about to joust next against her brother's captain, Wulf.

Her heart pounded as the hooves of the horse's collided against the dirt below them. When their lances struck, she stood up with a gasp as the crowd wasn't paying attention. They were too busy encouraging the bout between the two captains as she slowly sat down. She was silent for a moment as her eyes peered and the horn sounded for another match between Loras and Wulf. Juliana gasped again but this time in her seat and leaned back a little. She saw that Loras was laying down on the ground then saw him get up. She exhaled while her hand still rested upon her chest.

Juliana looked at Capheus again as she shuddered a little bit. "I honestly don't know why I host these things." Juliana muttered to herself but loud enough for Capheus to hear her. Her gaze was still locked upon him as she parted her lips to speak. "News spreads fast around here." She said while she nodded her head over towards him. "But yes. I've invited most of their members to visit our palace." Her eyes looked left and right as she leaned in a little bit closer to Capheus. "I am trying to snag their ambassador. Charming, intelligent fellow. He shall be my ambassador before they leave. You know I always get what I want." She nodded towards him with reassurance as she was a little hellbent on getting their ambassador to be hers. She needed an ambassador of Seabel, to be honest.

The head on a spike comment sort of took him off guard, and it was a little hard to imagine a Seabel castle with a head stuck out on the front gate. The initial thought was a little amusing; it would be... Interesting, for sure. But perhaps bad for foreign relations. He shrugged innocently at her question, laughing and tipping his head back against the wooden seat, his curls smushed up against it for a moment. "What can I say? I'm a man of many talents." He teased in response.

He paused when Loras and Wulf thundered at each other, sitting forward a little to see what was about to happen. Two Captains going up against each other--it was certainly a sight to see. Juliana's response was interesting, for her to practically stand up. Her expression was mirrored by Lady Loria's, off to their side, and he reached over, squeezing her wrist softly in comfort. "They know what they're doing." He murmured. It was just a joust, as frustrating as it was to watch people ram into each other. Hopefully, the only injury that would come out of it would be bruises.

He released her when she relaxed, letting her sit down. His brow furrowed a little, and he leaned towards her a little at her words, listening carefully. That was... How did one steal an ambassador? Maybe he'd be the one to steal her away, he thought, and amusement flickered in his mind at that. Wouldn't that be quite the romance novel. In any case, it would be fascinating to meet these people. "Best of luck." He admonished. "When will they be arriving?"

Juliana's gaze went towards Capheus when had asked her when will the islanders be arriving to her Kingdom. She pondered a moment on the question as she didn't even know herself, to be honest. But with a shrug of her shoulders, she decided to give him an answer anyway. Knowing that he wouldn't take silence as an answer. "Soon, I hope. I don't have a definite time frame to tell you, Capheus." She muttered towards him while her eyes went back to watching a few more jousting bouts.
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"I just told them to get here wherever they can and make sure that Su, that's the ambassador's name, was with them. If not, them they might as well not come." She continued to respond towards him as her gaze went back towards him now. "You're such a curious fellow, aren't you?" She stated towards him as she looked back out at the jousts and see the field being cleared after the last bout.

Juliana sat comfortably in her chair right about now, well, that was until she saw her husband, Cyprian and her brother, Lucas about joust each other. She stood up with a gasp and eyed both competitors as she wondered who condoned this between them. Her eyes bounced from Cyprian and Lucas she didn't really know who to root for. She wanted to root for her husband, yes but at the same time, she wanted to root for her dear brother. "What the hell is going on here?"

She was upset that this joust was about to take place as she wanted to hike up her skirt and leave, not wanting to witness this. Juliana looked down at Capheus then sat down in her seat, sitting back as she watched. She was rooting for her brother, Lucas, for sure as she leaned up a little when their horses hooves thundered against the dirt. When Lucas' lance crashed against Cyprian's armor, she silently cheered and applauded. Her eyes peered towards Capheus. "Don't tell your brother that I wasn't rooting for him." She commented towards Capheus then continued to stare at him. "Also, why so eager for the islanders to arrive?" She raised a brow up at him then smiled. "Thinking about getting you one of those island women, Capheus?" She asked him while playfully shoving him to the side with a laugh escaping over her parted lips.

Capheus shrugged a little, offering up a crooked grin. "What can I say, I'm not known for my patience." He teased, chuckling softly. In all reality, his patience had been stretched to the limits over the past little while. His Asten was worth every stolen moment, though, and the nights belonged to them and only them. How he loved him. Upon even thinking of him, his dark eyes softened the barest bit. He nodded a little at her words, drawing himself back to the present. "Su?" He repeated, his grin still fully in place. "I haven't heard a name that simple in so long. It's refreshing." Even his own name was so dramatic. Capheus. Goodness, if that wasn't pretentious, he didn't know what it was.

Juliana looked towards Capheus when he question the islander ambassador's name. She looked over at him with a light laugh. "Yes, Su. I think it's quite exotic. Despite him being from the islands." She had muttered towards him. She absolutely couldn't wait until the islanders came upon her shores so that she could see Su. That was really the only person she cared about seeing, to be honest.

He shrugged once more at her words, offering up an innocent look. "What can I say, I like to know things." He chuckled softly. "It's one of my best traits." He admonished. He looked back to the field as soon as his brother and brother-in-law took the field. He raised his hands to his lips immediately, whistling loud and clear for his brother, leaning forward to make sure that he could hear. He grinned, shouting Cyprian's name afterwards, having already made his decision on who to root for. Really, unless Cyprian was going up against his Asten, he was going to be supporting his brother. "The crowd wants a show, madam." He murmured, watching as the two ran at each other.

He winced when his brother was sent flying to the ground, but he still cheered his name, hoping that he would be able to hear. He laughed at her words, sitting back in his chair once more. "My lips are sealed." He hummed. Her preference was understandable. He beamed at the sight of his brother coming over to them, and he was caught off guard by her nudge. He laughed at her words, loud and full and happy. Oh, if only she knew. "You know me, majesty." He teased. "I'm excellent at sweeping people off their feet."
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"You like to be informed, I can tell." Juliana chuckled along with him as he said that it was one of his best traits. She shook her head and even rolled her eyes as of course, he had rooted for Cyprian during the joust. It was a rather typical thing for him to do. When Cyprian had fallen off of his horse due to Lucas' lance connecting to him. Juliana didn't budge a muscle though she did smirk, just a little though. She then straightened herself up as she nodded her head towards Capheus.

A few minutes went by and her husband was coming over towards them. Hearing Capheus' last words made her laugh as she looked at him, ruffling his hair as if he was a pet. It wasn't meant to be taken that way though. Her eyes gleamed up towards Cyprian as he nodded his head towards them before sitting down. Juliana leaned over and kissed his cheek. "You were absolutely stunning, my love." She mentioned as she turned back towards Capheus. "Wasn't he stunning, dear Capheus?" She waited for Capheus to respond before her gaze turned back towards Cyprian.

Capheus chuckled, shaking his head a little to get his hair back into its semblance of sanity. He offered his brother a bright grin, reaching over to squeeze his shoulder. "Absolutely perfect." He added, nodding sagely. He'd done well, letting Lucas win, and he hoped that he knew that. "I think he has one more round." He addressed his sister in law soon enough. He'd heard rumor of that, but so had everyone else, probably. "You know, Juliana, you should go up and try your hand." He made it clear that he was teasing. "I think you'd do wonderfully."

Her gaze went from Cyprian towards Capheus as he made a teasing comment towards her. She eyed him then chuckled while she shook her head. "Oh, please. I'd die out there." She muttered then continued to look at Capheus. "As I stated earlier, I am surprised you're not out there, Capheus. I am sure you'll be as stunning as your brother here." Juliana teased back towards him while she looked at the jousts that were taking place before them and even reached to grab a hold of Cyprian's hand, smiling warmly towards him.

"I'm grateful for your faith in me," Capheus hummed, amusement clear in his voice. It wasn't that he'd certainly fall over--it was more that he didn't want to condone all of this. "Perhaps I'll go for the last round." He mused, sitting back to watch the next bout. "I expect you to be cheering for me." He teased.

Juliana nodded her head towards Capheus as she really did think he'd do great in a joust. He simply had the structure and body of one who jousts, to be honest. Not that she looked at him in that manner but it was quite obvious when he entered the room. "Oh, Capheus, you might just want to sit this one out now. All the good competitors already went, honestly." She eyed him with another nod of her head. "Of course I'll cheer for you whenever you joust or duel. Might even give you a good luck charm." She winked towards him, completely forgetting that Cyprian was beside them even though her hand was inside of his.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair
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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.”

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Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston
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A collab between Demai and Starlight



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[center]Every step Wulf took was followed by a quiet grunt of pain. Her dark hair was matted to her forehead with a mixture of sweat, dirt and dust. Just a couple more feet, and she would be in the confines of her temporary room, allowing her to undress and clean her wounds. The worst of which being, during her second joust, when her opponent’s lance snapped and stabbed into her shin, leaving splinters buried deep within the cut. Not only that was ailing her however, for a choice blow to her ribs left them bruised and sore, meaning that leaning forward was going to be a literal pain.

Before exiting the field, Wulf waved away all help that was offered from servants. She wasn’t going to accept assistance from the slaves of Seabel. But at this point, she was regretting it. Her chest rose and fell heavily with every breath, followed by labored gasps and sighs. Her free arm was pressed against a wall to keep her battered body balanced. A couple feet from her door, a bright flash of blonde hair caught her eye. Wulf immediately tensed up, not wanting Ris to see her in this weakened state.

Ris had never truly liked having to spend time with those in the court, but she was reminded of it poignantly right then. She didn’t think she could stay for a moment longer in their presence, not without imploding or something terrible such as that. Just as she was beginning to find peace, the world stepped in and reminded her that peace was something that would never be hers. She would always be seeking, always looking and never finding.

The hem of her dress was stained with mud, and she couldn’t find it in herself to care as she walked across and out of the field. However, there was something that she did see that made her pause. Wulf, walking as if he were pained. She spoke his name aloud, almost questioningly--and then she saw him lean against the wall, looking as if he might collapse. Immediately, she bunched her skirts up in her fists, kicking off those stupid shoes with the heels that kept sinking into the ground, and going straight towards him. And then he tensed up, and she rolled her eyes, reaching out to find his hand and take his weight onto her. “You look like you’re going to fall over.” She told him, and her voice, while partly scolding, was also concerned. She’d rather he stay intact.

The added weight that Wulf could put on Ris was a godsend; if she had tried to take another step with that injured leg, she probably would have fallen down. Despite this, she forced herself to put on a snarky grin. “Me? Fall over? I didn’t even fall off my horse.” She boasted in an attempt to boost the mood somewhat. But in truth, Wulf was utterly exhausted. Her expression hardened somewhat as she grit her teeth, taking another pained step. “I just… need to get to my room. Get these shards of wood out of me, take a bath, eat a whole horse, then fall asleep.” A huff of a chuckle escaped her lips before she could stop it.

“Staying on a horse and staying upright are two different things.” Ris admonished, seemingly unfazed by that grin and that tone. She felt mostly worried in that moment, and while Wulf had won, what cost was it at? She stepped forward with him, and then held him a little closer, a little tighter in hopes of keeping him from hurting himself worse. She chuckled softly at his words, shaking her head. “I don’t know if eating a whole horse is an option right now.” She spoke, and then hesitated. She was no nurse, her brother could attest to that. Splinters, though, those were easy, right? She’d gotten enough of those in her hands as a child.

“Let me help you.” She requested, though she would be going along with him whether he liked it or not. “It’ll let you fall asleep sooner.” She added.

Wulf knew the offer was coming, and she was dreading the scenario already. Sure, the help would be nice, especially from another civilian of Falor. But what she would need to do… Wulf would risk compromising a secret that she’d been holding for years. She weighed the pros and cons in her head silently; Ris was trustworthy, right? She wouldn’t tell anyone at her request, that is if her secret is even revealed. “But, ah… I need to bathe first.” Wulf quirked an eyebrow, casting a glance in Ris’ direction to see how she responded.

“Taking a bath is third on the list.” Ris pointed out, gently shifting the Captain the tiniest bit, making sure that he was steady. “I’ll stay in the main room, then, I have no intentions of leaping on you.” She hummed, sounding amused. She paused for a moment, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth. “I don’t like seeing you hurt.” She said softly. “If there’s a way I can help, I’d like to.”

Wulf let out a frustrated sigh, giving in quickly. In all honesty, she didn’t have the strength to fight right now. She’d been through battles, a war, even, and nothing had hurt more than the injury on her leg. Slices and stabs were clean cuts, but these splinters were shifting and jabbing into her more with every single move she made. “Alright, alright. So, first step is getting to my room without me keeling over, right?” Wulf asked with another low grunt and shaky step.

Ris was terribly relieved that he didn’t fight her on this, because she didn’t think she had the physical strength to lift him and carry him off. Supporting, though, that, she could do. “That shouldn’t be too hard.” She responded, almost thoughtfully. “Take deep breaths for me, would you?” She requested gently. Another pause, and then; “If you can get your foot up off the ground, I won’t let you fall.” She’d keep him from falling over, that was the least that she could do.

Wulf chuckled at Ris’ soft commands, surprised by how well she took charge. She’s going to make a great queen… “Yeah, I’m breathing, don’t worry about that.” She kept limping along, grunting and growling under her breath. But when Ris offered to carry even more of her weight, she raised both of her eyebrows. “Are you sure, princess? I’m not a mountain but I’m not a mouse either.”

Deep breaths, hyperventilating doesn’t count.” Ris informed him, her voice remaining level and gentle both. She took as much of his weight as she could, keeping him from spontaneously collapsing. Mentally, she sent up a prayer to whatever deity was listening right then, asking them to help Wulf’s leg to not give out. “I’m no mouse either.” She replied, distracted from his words as she fixed his position the tiniest bit. She wasn’t carrying him, and she held to him tightly, but she was able to help him forward and hopefully alleviate some of the pain that he felt. If they could just keep his leg from moving around too much, the splinters would stop shifting and stabbing.

“Oh oh, I see, thanks for making that clearer.” She replied with a touch of sarcasm to her voice. Wulf did her best to control her breathing, allowing every intake of breath to fill her chest. But she couldn’t help but sigh as she lifted her foot somewhat, leaning more of her mass onto the small blonde woman next to her. “Alright, I’m done arguing with you. I’ll do whatever you like, whenever you like. I don’t have the strength to contend otherwise.” She grumbled, hopping along on one foot.

Ris side-eyed him for a moment, not quite threatening to drop him, but almost considering it. Patience, she reminded herself, and paused to allow Wulf to lift his foot up. Her expression lightened almost immediately, humming as if to almost say that she told him so. “If you’d like to keep talking so I can make sure you’re still conscious, you may.” She teased gently as they continued on. Plus, talking often distracted from pain. When she was helping her brother out on those few occasions, she had him talk and talk without stopping. “Thank you.” She added after a moment, her voice soft. She barely noticed the weight on her, her attention split between keeping them moving onward and the fact that she and Wulf were terribly close to each other. He was warm, and she could feel his breathing.

Wulf snorted as she limped on, afraid that if she stopped, she wouldn’t be able to get going again. “Thank me? For what? If anyone should be thanking anyone, it should be me thanking you. I’d have probably collapsed before I could get to my room.” Then she tightened her grip on Ris briefly, giving her the best hug she could muster. “And thank you for helping me out, princess.” Wulf was already taking a liking to the nickname, despite the fact that she wasn’t technically a princess.

Ris found herself resisting the urge to press a kiss to his shoulder, and internally rolled her eyes at herself. “I’m thanking you for listening.” She admonished gently. “I’m not a mouse, but you are terribly tall.” She teased, and returned the hug gently. She chuckled at his words, shaking her head a little and then tipping her head away to keep her hair from getting caught between them. “Not a princess.” She murmured. Soon to be a queen, though. “But you’re welcome.” A pause, and then; “I think that the only obstacle we have left are those damn stairs.” She hummed in thought.

Wulf visibly grimaced when the stairs came into view. “Fuck, I forgot about those.” She groaned, but didn’t allow herself to stop limping along. “No point in staring at ‘em. Might as well start struggling up them now.” Once she reached the first step, Wulf grabbed the railing, using her upper body strength to pull some of her weight off of Ris. After a deep breath, she, quite literally, hopped up the step, using her arm and Ris to keep herself from falling. “Alright, one down, fifty more to go.”

Ris agreed wholeheartedly. Quick, like tearing something off. She moved to keep him steady, even as he moved away from her a little. There was something strangely comical about the hopping, to be entirely honest, and amusement danced in her gaze where it probably should not. “I think it’s closer to forty nine.” She teased, helping him up the next stair, and the next. The stone was cool beneath her bare feet.

Wulf snorted once more, hopping again and again as she spoke. “And now forty eight. Forty seven…” She counted quietly under her breath, hoping that would take her mind off of the pain. While looking down at her foot to make sure she wouldn’t trip, Wulf noticed that Ris didn’t have any shoes on. “No shoes with a fancy dress like that? Not going to lie, I think it’s a good look for you.” She was teasing of course, but there were an underlying genuineness in her voice.

“I didn't want to leave a trail of holes punched into the ground.” Ris replied, sounding a little distracted once more. Her focus was elsewhere, on trying not to let Wulf fall or hurt himself. Well, hurt himself more. She registered his tone after a moment, and couldn't help but smile. “Mud’s definitely my color.” She teased gently in reply. “It'll wash out.”

“I hope the blood that’s inevitably going to get on you is also your color.” Wulf sighed, allowing a small silence to settle between them. It gave her the chance to both revel in the situation she’s in and focus on landing every step. After a few minutes of hopping and dragging her weakened body up the stairs, Wulf had worked up another sweat and her breathing was heavy. The second that they passed that last step, Wulf let out a moan of relief, her high, feminine voice peeking through for a moment. “Thanks the gods that’s over; we’re almost there now.” She was practically panting.

“I’m just glad I’m not wearing white.” Ris hummed, continuing to tease him gently. She focused in, as he did, on not tripping them both down the stairs. And at long last, they reached the top. She hated to hear the ragged sound of his breathing, and the octave higher, she could attribute to pain. It only made her more worried, though, and perhaps that was what gave her the sudden strength to shift and then lift the Captain. She found his hands, draping his arms over his shoulders, and then lifting him up. It took moments for her to nudge the door open, and plant him upon the bed. She sat down heavily beside him, and took a second to catch her breath before nudging him. “You’re not allowed to get any more splinters.” She chuckled.

The look of surprise on Wulf’s face was indescribable as Ris hoisted her up and brought her the last distance to the room. As soon as her back hit the soft bed, her whole body went limp and relaxed with her eyes fluttering shut. “Yes your highness, as you command, no more splinters.” Wulf mumbled sarcastically, peeking one of her eyes open to see Ris’ reaction. “Alright, time for the shit part.” Wulf had already debated about this in her head, but it was necessary part of cleaning and dressing her wounds. She slipped her thumbs into the waistband of her pants and slid them off, wincing as she leaned forward to pull it over her wound. The blood had dried around it, causing the pants to stick, so Wulf had to peel it off, a fierce grimace on her face. Once they were off, she tossed the bloodied garment to the side and flopped back onto the bed, now in her undergarments, and trying to ignore the actual wood between her legs. “Now, if you could help me clean this fucking wound, that would be great.” It was clear that the increased pain was agitating her somewhat, so she took a few seconds to breathe slowly and heavily.

The look that Ris gave him was long-suffering. “I'll just have to make it a law at some point.” She replied casually. She had heard the rumors and seen the examples of how spouses to monarchs were given no power whatsoever. As much as she adored Lucas, she would be having words with him about not reducing her to merely a pretty face. She would not become her soon to be brother-in-law.

She stepped away to allow him to undress, but not before letting her hand linger on his forehead for a moment, both comforting and checking for a fever. Silently, she reassured him that it would be alright. Then, she turned, going to find the aid kit that all rooms had, particularly during this time of kingdoms coming together. She found the wooden box and tugged it out, sighing at the weight. It was annoying, the adrenaline having gone out of her and left her tired. “Patience.” She hummed as she rummaged through, not letting a drop of exhaustion or hesitation into her voice. She was no nurse, she was poignantly reminded--but she could clean a wound, at least.

“I've got no intentions of walking off and leaving you here.” She admonished, carrying the box over at last and dropping it onto the ground. She took a seat on the bed beside him, gently drawing his leg onto her lap so that she could start to pluck the pieces of wood out. “Don't move.”

Even the slight movement of her leg caused her to flinch; her hands preemptively grabbing at the blankets of the bed in anticipation of the pain to come. “Thank the gods you aren’t running off because they know I wouldn’t be able to run after you.” She joked, the chuckle following being dry and short-lived. Wulf’s deep intake of death and a slow exhale prepared her body, relaxing herself somewhat. “I’ll do my best not to, but expect the unexpected.” She grumbled, shifted her body so she was a bit more comfortable. Also so her other leg wouldn’t seize and kick the small woman off in an instinctual response.

“You've been at war with my brother’s home for years, Captain, haven't you been stabbed once or twice?” Ris teased gently. As she spoke, without warning, she plucked a shard of wood straight from his leg, setting off to the side. “Would you like me to breathe with you?” She went on. “And besides--” There went another small piece. “I think you could chase me if you were angry enough. If I can carry you, you can limp down the stairs.” She hummed, amusement in her blue eyes.

“I have been stabbed, slashed, and-” But her sentence was cut off with an explosion of pain in her leg. The limb tensed, and it took all of her willpower to not jerk away. “Fuck… No, I can.. Take care of my breathing, I would just rather if- Guh!” Wulf jolted again, doing her best to keep still. “More like fall down the stairs..” She growled, one hand gripping her bare thigh. She dug her fingers into the thick muscle, creating a slight amount of pain that distracted her somewhat. At least, that’s what she thought it was doing. Wulf took a deep breath before gazing at Ris, taking both her and the situation in for a moment. She managed a weak smile. “You seem to be enjoying yourself far too much, princess.”

“My talking is supposed to distract you, sir.” Ris hummed, though there was faint amusement in her voice. When she glanced up to him, there was worry in her gaze. She hated seeing him in pain, and she bit the inside of her cheek. He was likely undergoing enough humiliation without her fussing, she thought ruefully. She laughed at her words, a tight, wry sound that carried little mirth and burst from her lips without her permission. “If this is what I look like when I'm having fun, maybe I need to practice my expressions in front of the mirror more.” She teased, and that was genuine as she plucked another shard from his leg. “You would rather if what?”

Wulf cringed as she sat up slightly, a new layer of sweat forming over her brow. Despite the pain she was feeling, she managed another half-hearted smile. “Feel free to practice, princess. I’ll be over here, watching and wallowing in my pain.” She laid back on the bed so her head was buried in the pillows. “I was going to say I would rather if you told me before you pulled those damn things out, but I feel like you’re going to do what you want anyways.” Wulf chuckled, her gaze remaining unmoving from the ceiling. She just wanted this to be over so she could shower and inhale a hot meal. “After this, mind getting me some ale? The buzz helps.”

“It’ll hurt more if I tell you.” Ris admonished, plucking a tiny piece from his thigh and setting it onto the slowly growing pile. “After I finish, you’re not allowed to stand up, you hear me?” She spoke firmly, glancing up at him and then returning her attention to the little cuts that were evident. “You might end up sitting down on that stack, and then where would we be?” She ended that comment with a teasing tone. She hummed in affirmation. It wasn’t as if they had a set drinking age, and her brother could probably grab something for them. Assuming he wasn’t too busy making moony eyes at that king, she thought, and amusement sparked in her gaze.

Wulf grunted in response to being told not to walk. “I’m going to have to stand to get in the bath, you know. I said I was going to do everything you commanded, but that one is a little silly.” She snickered, her tone just as teasing as Ris’. “If I sat on that, I’d have a real prick in my ass.” She laughed at that one, finding her own joke to be hilarious. The humor helps with the pain, it seems. “Oooh… Are you almost done, by the way? I’m tired of being coated in dirt, sweat and blood.”

“You’re a little silly.” Ris teased, raising a pale eyebrow at him. “Just about.” She promised, and there went another splinter. “See? My voice is certainly distracting.” She nudged the pile over gently, making sure that it wouldn’t get in her way. “I didn’t know that Captains cared about personal hygiene.” She cast him an amused look.

With a mixture of a broad smile and mischievous smirk plastering her face, Wulf sat up on her elbows once more. “Indeed it is, but that’s not the only thing that’s distracting…” The volume of her last sentence was somewhat lowered, yet it remained loud enough for the blonde to hear. “Of course I care about personal hygiene!” She continued speaking, moving past her earlier comment. “A man with poor hygiene is a man who dies earlier, and I have to be alive to do my job.” She lay back down, returning her gaze to the ceiling.

The look that Ris gave him was dry, if the tiniest bit amused. “If that was meant to be a compliment, Captain, I might reword it if I were you.” She hummed absentmindedly. She withdrew the final splinter, and then gently drew her fingers over the area, making sure that she had caught everything. And she had, and she felt terribly proud of herself. “Some would say that a man with poor hygiene is nothing more than a man. May I help you to the bath, or will I have to wrap you up in a blanket and drag you?” Her tone was light, almost innocent, though there was the slightest flicker of mischief in her gaze.

She snorted, “I say what I want, princess, to anyone I want, other than my king.” This… closeness with the blonde sparked a more cocky side within Wulf. “And I’m pretty sure I can walk myself, thank you very much.” With that, she spun around so her feet were off the bed. After a deep breath, she pushed off the bed. Immediately, her leg gave out, causing her to plant her knee to the ground to stop from fully collapsing. “Hmm. Perhaps I should invest in a cane for the next few days.”

Ris glanced towards the ceiling, as if asking the heavens why she had to deal with this. “Not a princess.” She replied, a little coolly. She released him, letting him do as he wished, giving him a dubious look when he immediately fell. Really. And yet, she couldn’t let him wobble there like that. “Or you could just stay off your feet.” She replied, standing up and taking his arm over her shoulder, starting to help him limp towards the bathroom. “There won’t be many more tournaments, I think.”

“I could stay off my feet, but the odds are that I won’t be able to.” Wulf grumbled in response, allowing Ris to put her arm over her shoulder and help her walk to the bathroom. “Yeah, let’s hope that there aren’t. And if there are, I’ll be watching, thank you very much.” In the bathroom, there was a large, empty tub, and by the tub there was some sort of bell on a string. Back in Falor, Wulf usually had a bath drawn for her by her servants before even returning to her room. “So is this…” She reached out and grabbed the string, ringing the bell. It was surprisingly loud, and Wulf turned to look at Ris with a quizzical look. “Perhaps we should look for someone to-”

A knock at the door to Wulf’s room caught her attention. “Captain Wulf? You rang for a servant?” A young, feminine voice called out to her.

Wulf was able to turn her body whilst still leaning against the wall. She poked her head out of the small bathing room. “Yes, I uh, wanted you to draw me a bath?” She honestly hated ordering servants around even though it was their job to cater to every whim of the royals.

“Oh, right away! Many of the other jousters have requested baths, so we already have plenty of heated water. Your bath will be prepared momentarily.” And she was gone.

Wulf turned to Ris, still a tad bit surprised. “Odd how that works. I guess we’ve got a couple of minutes to chat until then.” She shrugged her shoulders and shifted her weight as to not put too much pressure on her injured foot.

Ris chuckled softly at his surprised expression, reaching out on some instinct to squeeze his hand gently. “It’s Seabel.” She explained gently. “They’re making their own customs.” She wasn’t entirely opposed to it, and it was interesting to consider. They did chat, for the next little while, and Ris’ expression was brighter even by the end, blue eyes filled with laughter. She really did love talking with this man. She watched him, just in case, making sure that he wouldn’t fall over again. Soon enough, though, the bath was set up. “I’ll let you be.” She told him. She hesitated, and then kissed his cheek softly. “I’ll be outside.” She promised, and then slipped from the room.

A feeling of warmth spread through her body in waves when Ris’ lips came in contact with her cheek. She thanked the gods that the younger woman immediately left the room, meaning she couldn’t see the deep red blush creeping through Wulf’s cheeks. After a few seconds of processing, she jolted from her slight daze and tugged her dirty shirt off. With skilled fingers, she untied the gauze restricting her chest. Once the controlling piece of cloth was gone, she let out a deep, relaxed breath, feeling as if a massive weight had been taken off of her, well, chest. Once her undergarments were gone, she limped to the tub and planted her hands firmly on each edge. The warm water engulfed her as she slowly lowered her battered body into the tub. “Aaah…” She sighed loudly, letting her head rest against the tiles of the tub.

Wulf went about her business, scrubbing dirt and dried blood from her body, making sure to be careful around her wound. Once she had dunked her head under the water, she reached a level of serenity she hadn’t felt in a while. When she felt suitably clean enough, her hands returned to the edge of the tub to pull herself up. However, she seemed to forget that her hands were wet and her leg was weak, and a combo of the two caused her to lose her grip. She slipped backwards, hitting her head with a thunk and crying out momentarily. “Son of a bitch!” She grabbed for the back of her throbbing head before attempting to pull herself up again.

Ris discarded the splinters, setting to work trying to get the mud out of her skirts with a wet cloth. It was going alright, when she heard Wulf’s thump and then shout. For a moment, she weighed her options. Then, she decided that it wasn’t the first time that she had seen a naked man and they could suck it up. She called his name, pushing the door open, looking away from him, just in case. She grabbed a towel soon enough. “You are having a very bad day.”

As soon as the door opened, Wulf gasped and stumbled even more, practically falling again. She lowered back in the water somewhat. “Get out.” Her words were stern, a tone of voice she hadn’t used since the two of them had started talking. Her arms shook as she tried to stand back up, her whole body filling with a feeling she wasn’t use to; pure terror. This was her whole life, and if someone found out...

That tone of voice didn’t quite shake her, though it turned her chest cold. Those blue eyes seemed almost glacier-like as she glanced to the Captain--only to find that he wasn’t as she seemed. The ice was gone, and she set the towel around his shoulders. Well, it wasn’t as if this changed anything, really. And the terror in his--her, gaze made Ris’ chest hurt instead of feel numb. “You’re going to fall over again.” She told her, and there was no shake or shiver to her voice as she gently helped him up. “How’s your head feeling?”

Wulf was frozen in place, fear taking over all of her thoughts. “I-I… what… are you..” She couldn’t form sentences, she was so shocked, flustered, frightened, the list goes on. A soft touch to the back of her head showed that it was just a bump, no blood or anything. “I’m… my head is f-fine...but…” She grabbed the towel that was around her shoulders and pulled it tighter, covering up her body. The blush from earlier had returned, but it was out of shame and embarrassment. “I’m… sorry.” Her voice was different. Other than the fact that it was higher pitched, it seemed… smaller.

“You have nothing to apologize for.” Ris’ voice was soothing and gentle both. She was steady for her; perhaps Wulf needed a rock just as her brother often did. “I promise.” She set her down on the bed gently. “Can I see your head?” She asked, reaching up a little to gently brush a lock of her hair from her eyes. “I want to make sure that you won’t have a concussion. That was quite the thump.” A little smile came to her lips.

It was all so overwhelming. She expected the first time someone found out to be a mixture of bloody and loud, but this was tender. Another thing she hadn’t experienced in a long time. Wulf couldn’t help but gawk at her in pure awe; everything about Ris was perfect. She always seemed to know what to do. And her soft touch was so faint, so incredibly different and strange. Her eyelids drooped for a moment before snapping open. Something flashed across her steely irises, like lightning over thunderclouds. Her hand, fast as an arrow, grabbed her wrist, freezing her hand in place. Her grip was harsh and her jaw was clenched. “You… you can’t know. No one can know. You aren’t suppose to know.” Her voice quivered, but not entirely out of fear. Her tone was laced with anger.

The shift was unexpected, and it caught Ris off guard. What the...? “Wulf.” The thought that she might break her wrist passed through her mind, and she really hoped that the Captain wouldn’t. “Wulf, I’m not going to tell anyone.” She said softly, searching her gaze, reaching up to touch his cheek. “Please let go of me.” She had faced anger before, and she hated the drop of fear that found its way into her heart even so.

Another gentle touch came with another wave of emotion hitting her like a tsunami. Her free hand cupped Ris’; she even tilted her head into it a bit. The look on Ris’ face… She hid it well, but Wulf could see it. That twinge of fear felt like a stab through her chest. “I’m sorry…” She spoke barely above a whisper. She released her iron grip on her wrist, but let her hand linger on top of Ris’. Her chest felt tight and her throat clenched. She hadn’t cried in years, but she vaguely remembered that this is how is felt. Blinking rapidly stopped the tears from falling, but her eyes were clearly watery. “I’m so sorry…”

Relief was evident for a split second in Ris’ gaze, and then Wulf’s eyes were watery and her grip was gone. Ris moved her hand, squeezing Wulf’s and kissing her knuckles, mimicking the Captain’s actions from the night before. Then, she released her hand in favor of wrapping her arms around her, pulling her into a tight embrace. “It’s alright.” She promised, not caring that she would get her dress wet. “I promise.” She whispered into her hair, pressing her lips to the crown of her head.

Wulf’s whole body went tense again when Ris pulled her into a hug. It took a few seconds, but she finally relaxed in her arms, even wrapping her own arms around the younger woman’s neck. She hugged her tightly, fiercely, praying that she wouldn’t start all out bawling. “I’m sorry, I just… no one knows. No one can know.” She pulled from the hug only to put her finger under Ris’ chin, tilting her head up. “No one can know.” Her tone retained the sternness from earlier. “Promise me.”

“You've said that,” Ris murmured, and she gazed up at the older woman, searching her gaze. She reached up, cupping her cheeks with gentle hands. “No one will know.” She said softly, pressing her forehead to Wulf’s. “I promise. And you're fine.” She added with a little smile. “You're worried. But I promise. You can trust me.”

Wulf’s breathing started to slow; she really was relaxing at Ris’ touch. Her thundering heartbeat was still pounding away, filling her ears with sound. Her hand slowly reached up, holding her cheek once more. She ran the callused pad of her thumb across her smooth skin, practically mesmerized by the feeling. “I… I can trust you.” She murmured more to convince herself than anything else. Wulf found herself lost in the deep blue ocean that were Ris’ irises. “I can…” Her thumb traced out the shape of her lips; god, they were so much softer than her skin. “I can trust you… You can trust me.” With that, she leaned forward, replacing her thumb with a firm kiss.

Ris leaned into her touch as the Captain touched her cheek, moving one hand to grasp Wulf’s wrist gently. She could practically see the gears turning in her head. She whispered her name, searching her gaze. Wulf sounded utterly distracted, and then her rough fingers were brushing over her own lips. She slipped her hand up to touch the back of Wulf’s hand, brushing her fingertips over the skin that she hoped would become familiar to her. “I know--” She began, and then her words were cut off by the Captain’s kiss. And she kissed her back, wrapping her arms around her once more to keep her from running from her.

Once Wulf knew that Ris wasn’t pulling away, she leaned into it a bit more and tilted her head, causing the kiss to grow firm. It was clear that there was rough desire behind the act. The hand on Ris’ cheek moved to her lower back, pulling her body as close as possible to Wulf’s. A sigh of a moan escaped her lips as she hugged the woman even closer, completely forgetting that she was both wet and naked.

Ris returned the kiss for a moment longer, until the sound that Wulf made sent a shiver down her spine. Reluctantly, she pulled away, kissing her forehead softly. “We still need to get you cleaned up, Wulf.” She whispered. “And if you’re intent on kissing my memory away, I don't think I can assure you that it will work.” She teased.

Wulf let out a quiet mixture of a hum and a growl when Ris pulled back. “I’m clean enough.” Her voice had lowered in pitch once more, back to how she sounded around everyone else. And perhaps there was a bit of a huskiness to it then. She refused to remove the grip on Ris’ waist, and she was already missing the feeling of her warm lips against her own. “You bet I can try.” Without waiting for a response, she kissed her again. Her whole body felt like it was filled with electricity, with every touch, no matter how gentle, sparking a whole new feeling.

“You hit your head on a wall, and I saw that bruise.” Ris sounded entirely dubious. She searched Wulf’s gaze, biting the inside of her own cheek. Was this what this was all sparked from? But no, Wulf had looked happy the previous night. Against her will, a little smile curled at her lips at the Captain’s words, and then it was kissed right off of her. For a moment, she returned it, keeping close to her, wanting little more than to settle in this woman's arms and never come out. But she was seeking comfort where Wulf seemed to need more, and so she pulled away once more, her porcelain cheeks flushed the barest bit. She kissed her cheek, and then let her keep ahold of her own hand as she went to find the kit once more. “Come on.” She cast her a slightly amused look, though it was terribly soft. “I'll kiss you afterwards.”

This time, when Ris pulled away again, Wulf let out a quiet whine, a pout gracing her lips. She sighed deeply, leaning towards the edge of the tub when Ris walked away for she was still a bit unsteady. “Fine fine, as long as that’s a promise as well.” She flashed a soft smile in Ris’ direction before wobbling out of the tub, making sure to use the wall for support. The towel slipped off of her body as she attempted to made her way back to the bed. She was immediately flushed again, quickly snatching the towel back up. “I… I need to put on some clothes and… dress this wound. Can you… make sure the door is locked?” She glared down at the ground shyly, a light blush dusting her cheeks.

Ris couldn't resist kissing that pout once more, and then she went to rummage through that box all over again. She chuckled softly at her words. “Yes, it is a promise.” She assured the Captain. She looked away, and didn't see the towel slip, though she could clearly see that blush the second that her gaze returned. “Of course.” She promised, setting the bandages down on the dresser and going to lock the door. Deadbolt handled, she returned to Wulf, helping to settle her on the bed with the towel properly placed. Then, she kissed her cheek, found the bandages, sent a prayer up to the moon goddess for a little help, and moved behind Wulf to handle both bruise and head trauma.

Wulf felt much more relaxed now that she knew someone random wouldn’t stumble in on the two of them. She gripped the towel tightly, making sure it covered up as much of her body as possible. Years of trying to make herself physically like someone else has caused her to grow very self conscious of how she naturally looks. No one has seen her naked in years, and this response was… unexpected, although not negative, so perhaps she’ll be a bit more confident about herself.

“Want a blanket instead? It's probably more comfortable than that thing.” Ris spoke gently as she cleaned the Captain up. Her hands were gentle as they brushed over her skin, determined to avoid hurting her further. “It's also bigger.” She added softly, seeing how Wulf tried to hide behind the piece of cloth.

Wulf’s gaze didn’t once lift from the ground. “Thanks but… I just want to get dressed.” While looking down, she noticed the massive reddish purple bruise forming on her side from her injured ribs. She grimaced down at her ruined shin as well; another scar to add to her collection. “Are you almost done?” She asked cautiously, biting her tongue before almost saying I bet your husband is looking for you.

Ris nodded in understanding, and finished quickly. She let her fingers linger on her shoulders, considering before gently moving her hands, massaging slowly. “Just about.” She said quietly. She pressed a kiss to her shoulder, releasing her only to go find clothes for her.

Ris’ soft hands moving along her sore, muscular shoulders caused her to sigh, and the short massage caused a small, purring hum to come from deep in Wulf’s throat. When Ris was done, she got up to search for clothes, leaving Wulf sitting alone on the bed. Her hand moved to grasp the gauze, staring at the white cloth before sighing and going about binding her chest up. Once she was done, she couldn’t help but sigh again, a tiny frown on her face.

Ris returned with a stack of clothes, setting them down beside her and hesitating. She bit her bottom lip, considering briefly. “If you undo those, I'll give you a real massage.” She promised, glancing to the painful looking bandages and then meeting her gaze again, offering up a little smile. “I don't have anywhere else to be.” She promised.

Wulf caught sight of the little lip bite, and it caused her chest to flutter. She smirked slightly, lying back on her bed. “Why don’t you come take them off for me?” She cooed, her confidence growing even more thanks to the locked door. While waiting for a response, Wulf ran her fingers through her hair still-wet, noticing the length. She would need to cut it soon.

Ris couldn't stop the laugh that bubbled up in response. She wasn't exactly surprised by her response, and she gave her an amused look. “Don't try to leap on me.” She hummed, shifting to gently take hold of the bandages and begin to untwine them. Her touch was gentle, with no intentions behind it.

Wulf rolled her eyes, a joyful smile on her face. “I won’t, I won’t. I am a respectable man.” She raised her arms slightly to allow Ris to undo the bandaging. As the cloth fell away, Wulf sighed in relief due to the lessened restriction on her chest. It was so liberating, having someone help her with a task that she’s had to do on her own for years now. “I hate wearing this stuff, but I have to. They make my shoulders and back hurt a lot… Thanks for helping me out.” She leaned forward and kissed the younger woman’s nose quickly.

Ris gave her an amused look at that, wrapping the stray pieces around her hand to get them out of the way. Her hands worked a little faster after hearing that sigh, knowing that Wulf likely wanted these off sooner rather than later. “I'll help you with them more, if you'd like.” She offered gently. “And if you give me a little, I'll find something better than bandages.” Anything had to be better than bandages. She was caught off guard by the kiss, and she blushed involuntarily.

Wulf chuckled at Ris’ first proposal. “So I guess I’ll find you every time I need my bindings off.” She hummed, her eyes closing as the last of the bandages fell off, allowing her to breathe normally. “Anything would be better than these rags.” She sighed, staring at the white cloth. Once the bandages were off, she rolled onto the bed so she was laying on her stomach. “Is this how you would like me to lay?” She asked with a smirk.

“You can rest assured that I'll treat you gently.” Ris teased gently, setting the bandages aside as they were finally off. She reached out, gently tracing her fingers over the marks that the bandages had left on her skin, and was struck with the sudden urge to kiss them. “I'll see what I can do.” She promised, resting her hand between Wulf’s shoulderblades. She chuckled at her words, shifting to let her move. “Perfect.” She hummed, reaching over to gently start to work the knots from her shoulders.

At first, the pressure on her sore muscles sent a dull ache through her back and shoulders, but as time went on, the taut knots melted under her touch, and with them went the pain. “Ooh fuck… That feels… amazing…” She exhaled, letting out a small groan with it. She flexed her shoulder for a moment, letting the muscles bulge before relaxing again whilst letting out a sigh. “We definitely need to do this more often…” She mumbled into the mattress.

Ris was relatively confident that this woman had never had a massage in her life. At least, not a proper one. She kept at the knots until they relaxed, and she couldn’t help but smile at Wulf’s reactions, a little proud of herself. She hummed in agreement, dropping a kiss onto the Captain’s shoulder, fulfilling her earlier promise of kisses. “Have you ever relaxed in your life, Captain?” She murmured teasingly.

Wulf cooed when she felt Ris’ lips touch her skin once again, but they were gone all too soon. “My job does not include relaxation, princess.” She grumbled, wincing as the blonde went over a particularly taut knot. “I wish it allowed for more relaxation opportunities, but I wish for many things that I can’t have…” She made her sentence to trail off, allowing Ris’ mind to wander on her own accord.

Ris smiled at the sound that she made, working at the knot with dedication, murmuring an assurance and then slowly working it into relaxation. “Lucas isn’t going to keel over.” She murmured. Was that partly because she would willingly leap in front of him before he could get hit? Probably. She gave her a faintly amused look and then a soft smile, brushing her thumb along Wulf’s spine for a moment. “Like what?” She asked softly.

Wulf rolled her muscular shoulders, letting out another sigh. “I would hope the young leader of our nation doesn’t suddenly die.” Her words were laced with a little bit too much disdain. No, she would never do something like attack her own king. When Ris’ gentle fingers traced down her spine, Wulf shuddered, curling her back downwards slightly. “Hey that tickles!” She squirmed momentarily before settling back on the bed. “I desire many things, and you’ll learn of all of them eventually, perhaps soon…” She mumbled.

Ris chuckled at her reaction, doing it again, finding that she liked this reaction. “Oops.” She teased, entirely unapologetic. “Give me an example?” She requested. She could figure a couple of them, honestly. A pause, and then she spoke as she worked another knot from her back. “I’m not going to keel over either.” She said gently.

Wulf shuddered again, wiggling at the touch. “Stop that!” The command was half-hearted and playful. Truthfully, she didn’t mind the feeling. “Hmm… I’d love a wife, not to be on my arm, but to stand by my side. Someone with the face of a goddess and the mind of a scholar. Someone who isn’t afraid to challenge me in a playful battle of wits.” She rambled on the picture of a certain someone clearly visible in her mind. “Of course you won’t, not on my watch, princess.”

Ris beamed, mirth sparking in her gaze. “No, thank you.” She teased, tickling her a little more before listening as she spoke. She nodded a little in understanding, and she did have a feeling of who she was imagining, though she put that thought from her mind soon enough. “That doesn’t seem too unattainable.” She hummed, and squeezed her shoulders gently in thanks.

She squirmed once more, grabbing at the sheets. “I swear to god if you do that again…” Wulf’s threat was very frisky, a smirk on her face. But her smirk turned into a frown as she turned to look away once more. “Oh yeah? Maybe I can find a woman after I’m done leading an army and protecting my king while he takes the lass of my dreams.” She growled before tensing up, realizing what she had actually said and who she said it to. She shifted her apologetic gaze to Ris. “Sorry… I just… Everything is so complicated.”

“Then you'll try to tickle me back?” Ris teased, playing with her hair for a moment. Her fingers that were still on her back curled against the skin at her outburst. “Wulf...” She whispered, after a moment. She didn't think she could choose between them if she tried. All too rapidly, both had become all too dear to her. She shook her head at her apology, finding her hand and squeezing it gently. “I'd keep you both, if I could.” She murmured, barely realizing that she spoke those words. “You have nothing to apologize for.” She promised aloud.

Wulf sighed as she shifted her chin on her hand. “I must apologize. What I’ve said would probably qualify as treason. Good thing you’re great at keeping secrets.” She chuckled, but the small laughter died down all too quickly. “Yeah, maybe I will tickle you back. And as you know, I’m very competitive. You will not win.” She challenged, trying to lighten the mood once more.

Secrets. Yes, she was good at those. But... This, whatever they had right then, it shouldn't have to be a secret. Ris chuckled at her words, giving her a mostly innocent look, even as she pressed a kiss to her knuckles. “I will not win?” She teased. “I am not my brother.” And while she did halfway doubt her chances, she drew her thumb down her spine once more, and promptly set in on one of those final knots to distract her.

Before Wulf could get out a snarky retort, Ris ran her finger down her spine once more, causing her to visibly shudder. “You most certainly will not win.” Wulf said sternly, a devilish smirk on her face. “You’ve got one more chance, princess. Do that again, and you’re going to pay for it.” She was threatening the blonde but it was with a quite playful nature.

Ris shifted a little so that she could meet her gaze, mirth sparking in her eyes. Then, very slowly, she did it again. She was on her feet in a moment, laughing as she made a break for the door. “That’s it!” Wulf growled, though her grin was full of mischievousness and glee. She leapt off of the bed and darted after Ris, speed on her side. Before the younger woman could even reach the door, Wulf grabbed the blonde’s waist and effortlessly hoisted her into the air and over her shoulder. Laughing all the way, she tossed her onto the bed, and before Ris could attempt to escape, Wulf pounced on her. Her hands and fingers attacked the younger woman’s sides, tickling her mercilessly.

Ris yelped when she was lifted off her feet, dissolving into laughter as she tried to push her hands off. She kicked as best she could, but she was laughing too hard to actually do anything productive. She hit the bed and attempted to get up--only to immediately face an onslaught of tickles. Giggles bubbled up immediately, her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright and filled with mirth.

After a couple of minutes full of furious tickling, Wulf allowed herself to slow to a stop. However, she kept her firm grip on Ris’ hips to keep her from squirming away. “I warned you, princess. You poke the wolf and you get the fangs!” She then lunged forward, assaulting the younger woman’s neck with a mixture of nips, bites, and kisses.

“You are absurd!” Ris swatted at her chest playfully, though those words were soon negated by more laughter. Perhaps this was one of her favorite things about Wulf; between the dance the night before and now, she couldn’t remember laughing this much in her life. She made a very undignified, squeaky sound at the sudden assault, and then she was pushing her over, using the element of surprise to her advantage, successfully getting atop Wulf. She attempted to look stern for a moment, and then dissolved into laughter once more. “You’re going to be the death of me,” She chuckled, resting her face in her hand and shaking her head.

Wulf was quite surprised when she found herself on her back with Ris on top. This girl was surprising her over and over again today. Her hands were on her hips, still keeping her from escaping. “I think quite the contrary.” Wulf moved her hands up Ris’ body, ghosting over her stomach, up her arms, and across her shoulders, before resting at her neck. With a devilish smirk, she laced her fingers together behind the woman’s neck and pulled her down against her chest. Their bodies were pressed together, with barely an inch between their noses. “When I’m around, no one will harm you. I promise.” And with that, she pressed their lips together, kissing her firmly.

Ris wasn’t quite sure of what to think of that smirk, and then she was being tugged again. She couldn’t help but chuckle softly at it, because both Wulf and Lucas really liked the whole lifting and stealing her away thing. Hopefully they wouldn’t... tug her in two entirely different directions. She became more serious at Wulf’s words, shifting a little to cup the Captain’s cheeks, caressing them softly. “Thank you.” She said softly. She returned the kiss, smiling a little against her, carefully turning it gentle and adoring both.

Wulf hummed into the kiss; she was greatly enjoying the feeling of Ris’ soft lips against her own. She was practically entranced by this feeling, wanting more and more. But Ris… She was young, and married no doubt. Wulf made sure to keep her hands above the younger woman’s waist and chose to instead cup the small of her back, keeping them pressed together.

Ris was terribly grateful that she didn't try to push further. As often as she was unsatisfied, this was enough for her. For a moment, she felt like enough. And that was enough to make her smile against Wulf once more. She brushed her thumbs over her cheekbones, keeping near to her. Unfortunately, though, breathing was apparently still a thing, and it was only to take in air that she separated from her.

Once the two had parted, Wulf couldn’t help but let out a content sigh. Although she wasn’t completely satisfied, this was amazing regardless. Here she was, kissing the beautiful woman on top of her. Yes, perfect. It was just then that Wulf looked down and noticed her… lack of clothing. “Hmm… Perhaps I should get dressed and return you to the others…” Wulf mumbled, the disappointment apparent in her voice. No matter how much she loved what was happening, there would still be other and they had expectations. It wouldn’t surprise her if Lucas was looking for Ris.

Ris sighed softly at the reminder that there was the whole rest of the world out there, likely waiting for their return. Perhaps it had done without them for long enough. She stole another brief kiss, and then slipped off of her, going to find those clothes of hers and gently helping Wulf to get dressed. “No tickling next time.” She teased gently.

Once Ris had gotten off of her, Wulf went about wrapping her chest up once more. Now that the adrenaline was out of her system, her leg was starting to hurt again. Definitely not as much as before, but her limp was obvious. She struggled over to the bathroom where she put on her fake cock and a pair of underwear before limping back into the bedroom. Ris’ help putting on the rest of her clothes was appreciated, as was obvious by Wulf’s smile and occasional sneaked kiss. “No tickling? Now that’s something I can’t promise, princess.” She chuckled before pecking the shorter girl’s nose.

Ris kissed her back each time, smiling and then squeezing her hand once she finished helping her to get dressed. “I’ll be more prepared to tickle you back next time.” She threatened playfully. Then, she paused, and reached up to cup her cheeks, resting her forehead against hers. “Thank you.” She said softly. “For trusting me.”

Wulf chuckled, that playful smirk still plastered on her face. “You can prepare all you want, but I outmatch you, princess.” She leaned down and pecked her nose. Once they were close, Wulf wrapped her arms around Ris’ small waist. It wasn’t as nice with this much clothes on. “And thank you, princess, for keeping my secret and… helping me.” Wulf kissed her once more, the kiss to end all kisses, knowing that she probably won’t be able to do it again for a while.

“Not a princess.” Ris repeated teasingly, smiling and kissing her nose. She wrapped her arms around her neck in response, burying her face in her hair for a moment. “It’s my pleasure.” She said softly. She returned the kiss once more, her knees feeling vaguely weak in the aftermath. She could stand to do that again, she reflected, and amusement flickered in her gaze, though it was directed towards herself. She squeezed her hand gently and then reluctantly stepped from her arms, fixing her skirts.

Wulf gazed down at Ris, amusement, adoration, and joy glimmering in her eyes. She stared for a few moments before putting her hand up and caressing Ris’ soft cheek, the callus pad of her thumb running over the smooth skin repeatedly. “Shall we join the others, princess?” Wulf teased right back, a smirk creasing her lips.

Ris leaned into her touch for a moment, kissing her palm softly and reaching up to grasp her wrist gently. “I hope they haven’t eaten all the food yet.” She teased. She squeezed her hand, kissing her knuckles softly. Then, she stepped towards the door at last. Off they went.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Chryseis Wulfston Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir
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ImageCedany finished her song and opened her eyes. She frowned at the crowd before her who paid little attention as if she was a paid performer not worth their attention. She suddenly wished she had been playing a violin or a fiddle... something with a stick that she could toss at the group. Her hand tightened around the neck of the instrument as she stood and nearly jumped out of her skin as a hand brushed the top of her head. "Watch yourself," said a familiar voice. "They might start to get the wrong idea about you. Begin to think you're a proper lady." She turned her head to find her father standing beside her, obviously he had been listening.

She smiled softly at him, knowing full well that he meant to make light of the moment. Her playing the stupid instrument to entertain a crowd that could turn hostile and no one listened. His attention turned elsewhere and she slipped away to return the lute to it's rightful place and then searched the crowd for her siblings. They were nowhere to be found.

At first, she started to panic. Last night's fight had shaken her a bit and she worried another would break out and her brothers and sister were nowhere near and her father seemed preoccupied. Then she realized, with a palm to her forehead, that she could just slip away like she usually did. Now would be an excellent time for secret hunting and spying. She wandered into the halls where the rooms were being kept and heard voices coming from one followed by the sound of a knob turning as the door was about to open.

She raced for the door to her left and pulled. It was locked. She tried the one after and found that it was unlocked and empty. She clambered inside and shut the door quietly just as two figured wandered past. "I hope they haven’t eaten all the food yet.” Came a soft, feminine voice. When the footsteps were well past the door, she peaked out and her jaw dropped. Lady Loria, the future queen of Falor was with some strange man. He looked familiar to Cedany but she couldn't place the face with a name. She just knew that there were quite a lot of affairs in the royal houses.. And this one.. she just might share.