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Ulfric Bjornson

"One man's oppression is another's benevolence."

0 · 467 views · located in Tiberia

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

Description

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“How does one draw the line between dictator and monarch? The truth, my friend, is you do not.”




The Basics




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|| Full Name ||
Ulfric Albrecht Bjornson

|| Nicknames ||
Ulfric the Bold or the Kingslayer for the violent way he usurped the throne. His harsh ways and brutish mannerisms have given him the nickname of "The Bear".

|| Gender ||
Male

|| Age ||
Fifty-one

|| Rank/Title ||
King of Ostwall

|| Sexual Orientation ||
Heterosexual

|| Kingdom/Alliance ||
Ostwall




What's on the Outside




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|| Hair Color ||
Ulfric still retains the brown that his hair has always been, but it is obvious that it has begun to go gray with age.

|| Eye Color ||
His eyes are a light emerald.

|| Height ||
Six feet

|| Weight ||
One hundred and eighty pounds

|| Scars ||
Ulfric has far too many scars to remember where they are come from. Many are from swords and spears in war, but he also has a few from working as a child. His hands remain calloused from years of rough labor.

|| Description ||
One does not have to know Ulfric to tell that he was, and still is, a man of massive strength. At six feet and one hundred, eighty pounds, he is not a force to be reckoned with or taken lightly. Rather, many look toward him with fear in their eyes or respect, or perhaps a mixture of the two. Nevertheless, like all men, his hair has begun to lighten in color as gray finds its way into his once-chestnut hair. His beard too is streaked with the gray of age. However, both this and the wrinkles he has acquired hardly faze Ulfric. Rather, he views them as a way to show how long he has lived and fought. They mark a harsh life full of struggle. Instead, Ulfric is bothered by his hindered mobility in age which causes his joints to ache in Ostwall's cold weather. He refuses to dress in the rich golds and reds of the nobility in Falor. Instead, Ulfric dresses in more practical, slightly over-sized cloaks and coats of various furs in varying browns and grays.




What's on the Inside



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Personality:
{Distant, Reminiscent, Brutish, Instinctive, Ignorant}

To say Ulfric is a barbarian is harsh, to say the least. He often tries to sophisticate himself through intellectual pursuits or games of mental strength. In reality, however, he is no more than an emotionally strong peasant. Ulfric lacks the education and refinement of the other leaders of the land, but he pretends that he is one of them even though the gap between Falor and Ostwall has always been unbreachable. His distances himself from others not because he is a morose being but because he has always preferred solitude given the years of it he spent in Ostwall's army. Often, one can see the reminiscence on his face, for he usually appears to be lost in his thoughts. He is a paranoid man, though, and has therefore kept his kingdom under quite a strict rule.

He speaks without refinement or deep thought over his words. Really, it is only due to his advisers and his son that he has managed to remain in power for such a long period of time. Because of this, he often gives off the impression of being barbaric or crude. This, however, can simply be attested to his upbringing without a formal education. Having grown up in and experienced a world where quick reactions are the difference between life and death, he is often an instinctive man. Overall, his actions tend to turn most against him, but he certainly is not an evil man. Instead, he is better described as naive or ignorant. He realizes that times have changed and he has far more power than he once had, but he also finds it difficult changing his way, much like teaching an old dog new tricks.


Hobbies:
  • Hunting, especially for large game
  • Sparring
  • Games of Strategy, though he is not very good at them.
Habits:
  • Tends to rest his head on the heel of his hand when he thinks, pressing his knuckles into his lips
  • Often hums tunes he has heard over the course of his life to himself
Oddities:
  • He's quite the alcoholic, but Ulfric also does know when to regulate himself in public.
  • As he ages, his old injuries have come back to haunt him. He often moves in a bit of a limp because of the physical pain.
Likes/Loves:
  • Beer
  • The Forest
  • Solitude
  • His Family
  • Physical Combat
Dislikes/Hates:
  • Sailing
  • Strangers
  • Politics
  • Being Beaten
  • Pretending to Be Refined




What's Done Is Done




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Biography
|| Place Of Origin ||
Ostwall

|| History ||
Unlike the other monarchs of the land, Ulfric was not born to his title. In fact, his family owned nothing more than a measly hut along the sea. He was the eldest child in his family, and he would be followed by two more brothers and a sister. His low birth meant he lacked a proper education. Instead, he occupied himself with fishing and later farming when his family could finally afford to purchase animals. The life of a farmer would never satisfy him, however. Once his brothers were fully capable of running the farm alongside their father, Bjorn, Ulfric set out to join Ostwall's army.

It was a lonely existence, and it was a harsh one. Nevertheless, Ulfric's harsh upbringing allowed him to adapt to the army well. As Falor pushed against Ostwall, he fought ruthlessly to hold them back. His performance in battle earned him the nickname of "The Bear" and promotion upon promotion until he found himself wealthy enough to purchase better land for his family. When he finally acquired his own coat of arms, he obviously chose the bear as his house's animal. Time would pass, and he would take a wife, Freya Tyrdottir. He was twenty-eight when his only son, Ronan, was born. In that year, he would also choose to rise up against the current king.

Having gained the trust of his fellow soldiers, Ulfric was able to successfully orchestrate the rebellion right under the king's nose. Rebellion, perhaps, is the wrong word to use, for it had been tradition for the old king to be overthrown when he was no longer approved of. Then again, the current king's family had possessed the throne for roughly fifty years by then, half of the entire time Ostwall existed. On what seemed to be a random day, Ulfric and his men simply entered the throne room where he approached the king and unsheathed his sword. The guards simply turned their heads as Ulfric swung his blade around and sliced through flesh and bone. It was, more or less, an unprovoked act. Later, he would claim that the past king had been corrupt, but no one truly knew. To many, the new king was ruthless and barbaric. He was nicknamed "Ulfric the Bold" and, more crudely, "Ulfric the Kingslayer". The names failed to affect him. Adelaide was born shortly after he assumed the throne.

Due to having to fight to secure his position, Ulfric was a distant father to his children. Still, he tried to show as much love as he cold to them. After the untimely death of his wife, Ulfric remarried to the far younger Genevieve. He certainly can tell that she does not love him, and he does not love her as he loved Freya. He attempts to treat her well too, for she is also carrying his child. While not a perfect leader, Ulfric certainly is not the worst King Ostwall has had. He has managed to negotiate peace with Seabel for the time being, but perhaps that is only due to the civil war. Oblivious as ever, he is blind to the fact that his son has been planning his murder for years. Despite his ignorance, he has always been a paranoid man, and he is careful to keep a tight hold on his people and, more generally, his kingdom.

|| Happiest Memory ||
Marrying Freya or rising from poverty

|| Saddest Memory ||
Losing Freya




Face Claim: Sean Bean

So begins...

Ulfric Bjornson's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir

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He couldn't tell if he liked these events or not. The last time Ronan had attended, he had been a lad of thirteen. He recalled very little from the event except for the single hunt he had been allowed on by his father. Freya hadn't wanted it, had pleaded Ulfric not to let the boy attend, but Ulfric had insisted, pointed out that another boy just a year older than he would ride with them. Ronan supposed that was one of the few good memories he had managed to forge with his father.

Now, he was twenty-three, and he knew that whatever his father had tried to forge in that brief father-son encounter had been superficial. Likely, Ulfric had only taken Ronan because he pitied the young prince. Ronan huffed in annoyance and tightened his fingers around the stem of the goblet in his hand. No, that was certainly it. Pity.

Well, he didn't want it or need it. In fact, perhaps he would have pitied Ulfric, but he didn't. Even as he watched Genevieve from across the ballroom, he felt no regret, no sense of wrongdoing. It was simply what his father deserved. He certainly didn't deserve her.

Ronan brushed a hand against his mask for a moment, ensuring it was in place before he started to walk towards Genevieve. He came just steps away from her, was about to invite her to dance, when his father stepped in, effectively cutting him off from his love.




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He too had watched Genevieve, but not out of spite for another person or even out of love. Ulfric noticed the way she moved, the grace with which she conducted herself as she moved in and out of the nobles, exchanging greetings with whomever she passed. It was a bitter reminder of Freya, and he grimaced to himself behind his mask. He wasn't sure he could call what he felt "love", but it was a strong emotion. An affection, if anything. His new wife was a gem in a wasteland like Ostwall. Sometimes he regretted taking her as his, but she had fit in well afterwards, he reassured himself.

Couples whirled around him to the beat of the music, and he seemed to slowly come to his senses, blinking a few times as he looked about. He could see a few others who had stopped moving and taken to the wall like he had, but he knew he was out of place. He'd been out of place each time he attended one of these events. And he thoughts were brought back to Genevieve, to how effortlessly she managed to make herself relevant. Perhaps he ought to approach her. It was the kind thing to do.

The last time he had attended, Freya had been with him, and the two danced the night away. He had never been a lithe man, was never made to waltz, but he had embarrassed himself just to hear the way she laughed gleefully each time he nearly crushed her toe or caught on her dress. He hoped he could find that with Genevieve. And so he approached the young woman, clearing his throat now with a soft cough.

"Would you...care to dance?" he inquired, hesitating for a few heartbeats before extending his hand, oblivious to Ronan who clenched his fists behind the older man, boring holes into Ulfric's head with just his gaze.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir

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#, as written by Inuiri
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To an outsider Genevieve’s motions probably looked beautiful, watching her flit about speaking to everyone she could with a smile on her face, grey eyes lighting up under her mask with every person she spoke to.
Truly, she was horrified. She wanted nothing more than to run and hide in her lover’s arms and weep. With every step she glanced over her shoulder in terror, trying to keep a look out for the man who had ruined her life.
Her Father.
This was Seabal, no ball of her own, Genevieve couldn’t control the people invited the way she could in Ostwall. So from the moment she arrived and spotted him she had frantically separated from her husband in a desperate attempt to not be spotted by her abuser. A tiny bit of her hoped the mask would be enough to hide her, but her golden brown locks stood out, especially with their length.Image
In her terrified, hypersensitive state, her heart leapt out of her chest when she heard footsteps approaching. She flinched and turned, spotting Ronan and almost bawling with relief at the sight of him only for… Him to step in. She schooled the pitiful look on her face as she gazed up at Ulfric, close to shaking at how close he was to her. He was easy to pick out. Ostwall looked so different than everywhere else, her family stuck out like sore thumbs among the other royalty.
Still, Genevieve managed a smile for the man she didn’t love. “I..” She stammered pitifully at the offer. This certainly threw her entire night off it’s track. Ulfric wanting to dance had never been part of her itinerary, but neither had her father’s appearance… Still, she wasn’t going to be rude to him. He had never been rude to her. “Yes. That sounds lovely.” Genevieve told him gently, taking his hand and squeezing it lightly, despite her heart still feeling like it would explode out of terror.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir

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Ulfric smiled back at Genevieve’s attempt at a look of pleasure or joy or something of that nature. She wasn’t wrong in observing the difference between her new family and her old people. Ostwall was still, and likely always would be, a kingdom of clansmen and wars and pillage. In fact, he couldn’t really call the nation “his” - it was his people’s more so than his own, if he was being completely honest with himself.

The older man took her hand in his, letting her dainty fingers brush against his far more calloused ones, hardened by years of war and toil for his country. No one could doubt that Ulfric had rightfully taken the throne, for in his prime, he’d been a formidable opponent. Even now, rumor had it that he could still wrestle even the most capable warrior. While that wasn’t true by any means, he still was a strong man, but he let himself relax ever so slightly before his wife.

He could tell she was uncomfortable. Something seemed to gnaw at her as he spun her on to the dance floor, whisking her for just a moment by his children. But he was too busy frowning back at her, attempting to discern something from her expression. So lost was he that he stepped on her foot for a heartbeat before stepping off suddenly.

”My apologies, my lady,” he sputtered, struggling now to find the beat after he’d lost it. Music had never been a strong suit, and it never would be. Hell, he hadn’t heard music until he’d become king. Slowly, he fit them back into the song - granted, of course, they remained half a beat behind every other couple in the area.

”Something’s on your mind,” he observed, maintaining a stoic expression as he studied her expression once again. ”Anything...in particular?” He felt as though he walked a battlefield each time he spoke to her, afraid that one misplaced step would send a barrage of arrows his way. Freya had pitied him for that, at least - she’d speak openly without prompting. She knew he never knew how to begin small talk. And now he wish she had let him learn, for how else was he to communicate to the girl before him? His wife, damn it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir

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#, as written by Inuiri
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Genevieve followed along with ease, clearly the more skilled dancer; she moved like it was second nature to her, as easy as walking. His expression made her uneasy, leaving her with no option but to duck her head down to avoid his frown. She hadn’t been too obvious about Ronan had she? If she had… She was already frightened enough, Ulfric’s scrutiny only making her panic more and stumble, apologizing the same moment as him and giggling nervously. “It’s alright.” She assured him, managing to keep the shakiness from her voice.
She did her best to get them back on beat with the others, but her own anxiety didn’t do much to help, and she feared taking control too much wouldn’t end well. It was impossible to look away from Ronan as he hung around his siblings, heart aching as Genevieve looked away all too quickly, keeping her eyes down until Ulfric spoke again, making her visibly tense.
What was she to say? The man who sold me off to you is here didn’t sound very ladylike, or decent at all for that matter. She wanted Ronan. She wanted to be away from this hell and safe with her beloved. Yet another thing she couldn't tell her husband. "It's nothing." She finally lied after a few moments of uncomfortable silence. "It's just been quite a while since the last time I was at a party. I'm nervous is all." Was that convincing enough? She was hardly sure, with her mind racing a mile a minute she could barely even keep track of what color she was wearing. It seemed like the safest bet. If she told him the truth he might go over to him and try to thank him, keeping her at his side like some trophy. The thought alone made her force down tears.
When the song changed and Cedany and her siblings rushed out, her heart flooded with relief, forcing her expression to stay at a rather neutral smile. She waited for Ulfric to release her, so she could wait at the sidelines again and oh so conveniently her Ronan would come over and offer to dance with her. She could tell Ulfric she wasn't feeling well - not even a lie, truly she felt sick being in such close proximity with her fath - and Ronan, being the wonderful doting son he was, would offer to take her off somewhere less crowded and she could stay there with him for the remainder of the night. But he didn't release her, simply shifting to change tempo for the next song, and she felt like she could hear her heart shattering. But she was a good girl, so despite how she was dying within, she kept up a smile as they danced.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir

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He smiled back at her for a moment as she giggled, not picking up on the nervousness that fueled the sound. Instead, he read it only as amusement, and he was glad for a moment, hoping she was beginning to warm up. Ulfric wasn’t stupid enough to believe she loved him, for he knew she didn’t and she wouldn’t. It was impossible to love someone forced upon oneself. She also probably knew that he didn’t love her - or, at least, not in the way he’d loved his wife. Perhaps he loved her by now in some way at least. Genevieve had grown on him, but he could never love her as a wife.

A sense of pity accompanied his thoughts, but he attempted to assure himself she was alright. After all, she had companions more of her age in his children. He hoped that eased the ache for home.

"Nervous?” he chorused, as if trying the word out on his tongue, perhaps a bit incredulously. He let out a soft, questioning sort of sound, and they moved in silence for a bit. "You’ve little to be nervous about.” Ulfric attempted to console her, but he knew not the true reasoning behind her nervousness, and so he spoke blindly. "You put an old man like me to shame out here. But now he could see a change in expression, one that seemed like she was on the verge of tears. He didn’t know where else to go with his supposed consolation, and so he let himself fall silent.

The song ended now, and he could see his children rush out on to the floor where Ronan followed them, barreling along in a way that brought a grin to Ulfric’s face again. So caught up was he now that he failed to release Genevieve when the song ended, and he attempted to flow right into the next tune. Of course, he was entirely incapable of doing so, and he noticed the way her expression befouled with what he could interpret as dread. Of corse, he wouldn't think it was dread of seeing or being near her father. Instead, his own face lost its previous smile as he decided to interpret her actions as simply not wanting to dance with him any longer.

And so they danced in another silence, Ulfric attempting to keep his eyes averted, for he couldn't really stand watching the pained expression. When the song finally ended, he backed off and looked down at her, his lips pressed together in an expression that was more fitting for him.

"You're free to go back to your room if you want," he said. "I won't keep you here if you don't want to be."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir

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#, as written by Inuiri
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"You put an old man like me to shame out here.” A genuine smile graced her lips at that despite how her eyes shimmered threateningly with tears she forced down, earning a little bell-like laugh from his wife as she murmured her thanks bashfully.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing just fine.” Genevieve assured him, squeezing his shoulder gently and ignoring the pain in her chest. He was sweet. He at least tried. But he wasn’t Ronan, and he never would be. She frowned when she couldn't quite control her expression, choking on her apology, getting it caught in her throat as she danced in tense silence. Gently, she shifted to press her head to his shoulder, trying to do something to reassure him. She liked him. But he would never give her the happiness she deserved. So Ronan said he had to go.

"It's not you." She promised when the song ended. "I swear it." Genevieve added nervously, eager to please out of a deep set fear. "I think I've just had enough dancing for now." She said softly. It wasn't a lie, which was refreshing, she wasn't sure she could even accept if her beloved offered. Dancing was too easy to notice. If she stood among the crowd she could blend in and be no different than anyone else. It would be a fine substitute until it was decent to slip away. It was still wrong to just leave her family here. She leaned up and slipped her arms around his neck, hugging him for a few solid seconds as she whispered her thanks for his consideration, pressing her lips to his cheek to keep up the act. As she took a step back, she gave him a smile, squeezing his hand before slipping away into the crowd, glancing over at Ronan as she went and praying he would see it before she disappeared.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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Her apology only seemed to cause his gut to churn, caused him to frown deeply and cast his eyes away. He couldn't bear to see the way she looked at him, for he knew he'd see the tears that pooled in her eyes, threatening to tumble down her cheeks if he looked at her too long.

Ulfric had to take her word for it as she assured him isn't wasn't his fault. And yet, he couldn't help but feel responsible. Maybe it wasn't directly his fault - he could give her that - but never had he seen her this upset, this close to tears. Perhaps on their wedding day she'd looked upon him that tearfully.

The king put his own arm around her waist for a moment, hoping his grip acted to comfort her. But Ulfric removed it quickly, afraid he'd only do more to soil the moment. He smiled at her kiss though and made a movement as if to reciprocate it. She had moved away though, lingering only long enough to squeeze his hand before she disappeared into the crowd. And then he was alone, but not for too long.

He sensed Hans before he saw him, knowing the man was nearby. Over the years, he'd lost the muscle that would have made him heavier than the man, but Ulfric still remained slightly taller. It was only emphasized by the boots he had worn to the dance. He liked that, if he were being honest, and he turned now to face the younger man.

"Ah, Your Highness," Hans greeted, pulling himself upright as he looked up at Ulfric. "It has been some time since we have spoken."

"Since the wedding, Lord Adolfson." Ulfric spoke quickly and to the point. He'd never liked the man, but there was a level of respect his father-in-law deserved.

"Yes, I believe you're right." Ulfric turned to him now. He wore an expression of boredom that just barely hid the conflicting emotions that still gnawed at him. He hated this, and the noble wasn't making it much easier.

"I know," he returned. "Is there something I can help you with, Hans?" The younger nobleman shrugged for a moment, looking out at the crowds as though he were searching for something. Or someone.

"No, no, enjoy yourself." He was gone almost as quickly as he had appeared, and Ulfric was left alone, watching as the nobleman walked himself over to Genevieve. Hans approached the girl from behind, fully aware of what he was doing, and seized her wrist tightly. "It has certainly been some time since I've seen you, hm?"

But Ulfric couldn't hear them across the ballroom, and he'd begun to lose them now. Damn his eyesight. It seemed to go more and more with age. He turned suddenly now and took a few steps behind him until he ran quite literally into Loras Estermont. Ulfric jumped back slightly, offering an arm to steady the younger man out of instinct. He probably hadn't done much damage, he noticed, for the man stood larger than even Ronan. His jaw hung for a moment as he looked up at the blond man, perhaps ever so slightly in awe. They'd once called him a bear among men, but the young man before him was more formidable than any man he'd seen before.

"Should have watched where I was going, I suppose," he remarked, frowning back at Loras. "My apologies, sir..." He drifted off for a moment, frowning as he struggled to recognize him. "...Estermont's boy, aye?" He stepped back again, letting his arm fall to his side. "No hard feelings? I don't suppose I'd like to be on the bad side of you or your Pa." Ulfric gave a bit of a smile then, trying to seem more friendly than he appeared.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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#, as written by Demai
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Loras had never really been one for dancing, and watching his sister and the other Captain waltz together was quite enough for him. He watched them for a moment with a little smile on his lips, and then turned, stepping away to allow them privacy. He soon migrated off to the side, taking up residence near one of the many open windows and just scanning the general area. He didn’t cut the most approachable figure, standing there with his shoulders back and his arms crossed, and so he didn’t quite have to worry about people coming over and approaching him.

As he let his sea-blue eyes flick over the ballroom, taking in the clouds that adorned the ceiling and the dresses that gave vibrant color to the gold floor, his gaze lighted upon a woman with red-gold hair and a yellow dress, gazing out the window. She looked at peace, and a soft little smile came to his lips at the sight of her. She didn’t look particularly rich, probably a lady in waiting or something to be at that dance, normally reserved for people of higher standing. In any case, she had a kindness about her that he hadn’t seen in... a long time. His first thought was his mother, to be honest. She had that sort of soft sweetness about her face. He took a step towards the woman, perhaps to address her or to ask her where she was from, pausing only to avoid interrupting her as she took a deep breath of night air.

He was about to take his chance when suddenly, a familiar blonde stepped into view. His gaze softened at the sight of Juliana, the woman he had wooed so long ago. His heart still ached for her sometimes, and he caught himself gazing after her as if he were some stupid schoolboy. The queen’s voice reached his own ears, but he had no time to focus on it. He saw something flicker in the redhead’s eyes as her eyes opened, before she turned to look at Juliana; something unreadable to all those save for those who were specifically searching for it. It was an instinctive fear, a silent wish that the queen would leave her alone, almost a cry for help that no one would see save for the flowers that waved in the breeze outside and the moon high above.

Loras’ brow furrowed. There was no mistaking what had caused that clear, instinctive want to hide away. Juliana had changed since he had first been stricken by her, but... had she changed enough to warrant such a reaction in the people who served her? He himself had stepped down from his noble place to lead armies, to help his country and defend it. He had gone from someone with a great name to another soldier. Had this woman done the same? What had happened to her to cause such a reaction when the queen appeared?

It felt as if his world had been tipped on its end, suddenly. How blind had he become, in the face of his infatuation? For he knew that it was merely that. He’d left home, friends, sister for a person who terrified her servants?

It was during that revelation that another world-shaking individual would ram straight into his life.

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Normally, he would have been able to righten himself when suddenly hit with a blunt object, but he was reeling in that moment. When an arm was offered, he grasped his hand, searching out balance and stability, something to ground himself. And when he looked up, locks of his own dark hair falling in his eyes, he found it in a pair of light emerald eyes filled with awe. He was caught up in that color for a moment, and then he realized that the eyes were attached to a person. The king of Ostwall, apparently. Salt and pepper hair and a beard and arms that reminded Loras that he might need a damn hug or something--

And then he realized that Ulfric’s mouth was moving and that he was still holding his hand. The king moved let his hand fall back to his side, and Loras let go of him quickly and instinctively, taking a deep breath, offering up a crooked smile. His eyes were too bright and a little lost, betraying his relatively young age all too easily. He felt it in that moment, truly. He was... a stupid, infatuated boy who didn’t even know what he was doing.

“No hard feelings? I don't suppose I'd like to be on the bad side of you or your Pa.” Finally, Loras registered Ulfric’s words, and the grin turned wry at the mention of his father.

“None at all.” He promised, and his voice was steadier than he thought it would be. He glanced down towards the ground, taking a deep breath and then looking up towards him with a little smile, though his eyes were still as lost as a sailor in a storm. It still felt as if waves were battering at him, lowering every defense that he had. He offered him his hand once more, half wishing just for that steadying influence once more. “Loras.” He introduced himself, out of habit, leaving out all titles and names. “You’re Ulfric, right?” He questioned, and his chest warmed inexplicably at the smile that the king attempted. “Your Majesty.” He teased a little, though there was no bite behind it, and bowed to him.

He was about to go on when suddenly, a harsh voice and soft cries reached his ears. Focused for a moment, his gaze flicked up. The corners of his mouth tipped down in a frown when he saw an older man gripping the arm of... Ulfric’s young wife. He nodded towards the two, and looked back to Ulfric, his own hand going to the hilt of his sword. “I’ll knock him out if you get her out of here.” He murmured. He needed something to ground him, something similar to his job might be a good idea.

Another metaphorical wave hit him, and it was on a strange instinct that he added; “I’ll be in the garden later tonight, by the elara flowers.” It was a stab in the dark, a desperate need for company and reassurance that caused almost a plea to enter his gaze. His sister would be with her entourage, with her fiance, and he... would be alone.

Goodness, he didn’t want to be alone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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He couldn't help but give a soft laugh at the boy's half-assed attempt at a smile. It was endearing, and he could have sworn he'd given Freya that look when they were young and courting. How peculiar to see it now from Loras Estermont, he mused. But now he saw a change in the smile, and he smiled back.

"Glad to hear," he added. And perhaps he was glad that the young man wouldn't hold a grudge. Enough people didn't trust those from Ostwall as it was without him tripping over everything. He nodded at his name. "That'd be me." His smile faltered for just a moment at the bow. "Oh, stand up now. I'd rather speak to you as equals...too much of this 'Your Majesty' shit nowadays." He let his filter fall for a moment, speaking as he might have when he was younger, bolder. He'd become far too quiet in his age, for he had a role to fill. Oh, how he hated that.

Ulfric hadn't caught the cries until Loras made note of them. "Wha-" he started, cutting himself off as Loras spoke, offering to assault the man. No, no, he didn't want this. Not here. Not now. He wanted an evening to blend into the background, to speak to this man, hear the tales he had to tell. And now this was happening, and he'd have to deal with it of course. He was the king, wasn't he? He turned to Loras for a moment, as if to tell him to wait there but the young Captain was already providing instructions - to meet? That night? It seemed peculiar, he had to say that, but he wasn't the type to turn down an evening with someone else besides distant children and an even more distant wife.

"I'll-" he started again, but now he cut himself off once more as Ronan approached the situation. "Fuck" Ulfric took off now, similar to his son. He attempted to mumble apologies as he pushed through the throngs of people. They seemed to move with him, and, indeed, they did. Everyone wanted to have their own version of the story to tell the next day.

"Ronan!" He howled the boy's name as he threw himself quite literally into the fray. For a moment, both men were atop Hans, knocking the breath out of the man as Ulfric struggled to find his own footing again. His knees screamed in pain, protesting his actions. But he found traction eventually and seized around Ronan's waist

"Get up, boy!" Ulfric shouted in his ear, hoisting the young man off of Hans. Genevieve's father had given up his struggle a while ago, unable to see through the blood that streamed down his face. Instead, father and son grappled about now. Grounding himself now and using Ronan's own sloppy technique against the boy, Ulfric shoved him aside. Ronan reeled, and he nearly planted into the tile on his face, but he righted himself against a pillar and turned, wiping at his bleeding lip. His chest rose and fell harshly, and perhaps if one listened closely, they would hear the beat of his heart.

"I...fuckin-" He was cut off once more as Ulfric swung his own fist at the boy. Ronan pitched to the side with the impact, but he was caught around the collar by Ulfric who pulled the boy close to his face.

"Speak to me like that once more, and I'll be sure to show you what I'm capable of," he spat, his voice only audible to those in the first ring or two of spectators. "You think that's proper? I raised you better tha-" Ronan shoved off of his father, pushing the older man back as he stormed off. Ulfric's jaw hung slightly as he watched Ronan push a path through the crowd and out of the ballroom, practically seething. The doors closed behind him with a loud slam, but he moved only a few yards down a hall before the pain in his hand became too unbearable, his father's words became too heavy, and he let out a shout that echoed back to the hall.

Ulfric seemed to slowly become aware of the people around him, watching him closely for his next move. His jaw set as his chest rose and fell quickly. "Well, go on!" he cried, his voice a bit louder than he'd hoped. "Someone take the poor bastard out of here."

But his words fell on deaf ears. Most of the guests had parted by then, no longer interested in remaining. Few came for the dance itself these days. The real entertainment was in seeing who would be the first to soil the peace that was supposed to accompany such an event. And oh, how it had been soiled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir

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Genevieve had fallen silent by now, head down in shame as she let him berate her as good little daughters and wives were wont to do. She let tears streak her face as she shuffled uneasily, missing her mother terribly, only able to think of how much she must have suffered in her last moments, knowing her husband hated her and that her only remaining child wasn’t there for her. She was a monster, what kind of child didn’t try to stay in contact with their mother when they knew she was being mistreated-

She was torn from her thoughts by her father’s protests, lifting her pale eyes as she trembled, taking a step backwards as she saw everything happen in slow motion, every movement, every sickening sound heightened. The poor girl didn’t even notice her own shrieks of horror until her father hit the floor and her love was bound and determined to kill him with his bare hands if he had to. She stumbled back, hitting the table and giving herself a nasty bruise as the corner dug into her pelvis, eyes full of horror as she wept with no signs of ever stopping. She didn't know what to feel. Her father certainly deserved this. But it was wrong to think so, and she was a lady... But the sight of the gore alone brought her back to her brother's death, watching it all unfold helplessly, just like back then.

Hans was nigh unrecognizable by the time Ulfric appeared from seemingly nowhere, Genevieve letting out a broken sob as they wrestled. This was her fault. Every bit of it. She should have just listened and stayed quiet like her father said. Her head was buried in her hands as she bawled now, her horrible, heartbroken shrieks echoing off the walls as Ronan left. He was going to hate her. They were all going to hate her. She should have listened…

She repeated the hateful mantra over and over in her head, unaware as Hans was dragged off and flinching when someone tried to touch her arm. She screeched in terror in reply, running as far as she could, no goal in mind but to get as far away as possible. She had ruined everything, just like always.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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Ellie remained behind the rest of the royals as Cy and Lucas stepped out, keeping her head down. Juliana’s voice scraped against her nerves, putting her on edge. Little did she know of the world changing thoughts that she had caused to come into the Captain of the Guard’s mind. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the tall blonde who was holding tight to the king of Ostwall’s arm at the moment, and she worried for a moment about him before Cyprian caught her eye for a bare moment. The tiniest of smiles came to her lips, silently wishing him well. It was a great relief to her that he didn’t look absolutely haggard after that conversation. He didn’t look worn out, he looked... almost vibrant. She wished to take his hands, to ask him all about what had happened, but knew she shouldn’t, knew she couldn’t. One of those days. One of those days, she would be free to take his hands whenever she wanted... She hoped.

Her heart still squeezed at the words my love directed towards Juliana, though. She had no doubt in her Cy, but... It still hurt, sometimes, often, the knowledge that she was the other woman. She’d never envisioned this for herself, not in all her life, but... Cy was worth it, she knew. That much was a fact of her life. She’d walk over hot coals for him, and she could say that about few others, if any.

One of those may have been the tiny girl, Giselle. Cy’s daughter. There was something horribly, completely endearing about her, and Ellie had fond memories of telling her stories and singing her to sleep. Her gaze flicked momentarily to her as the child went to greet her uncle for... possibly the first time in her whole life. She couldn’t help but smile, finding the sight utterly endearing. She’d braid the flower into her hair later, she resolved, maybe after she’d twirled her around the dance floor a couple of times while waiting for Cy. She soon looked down, respectfully, avoiding looking King Lucas straight in the eyes.

Then, the queen’s words reached her ears, and where Ellie’s heart had squeezed before, it stopped now. Take Giselle to bed...? With the flick of her wrist and a sickeningly sweet look in those green eyes, her mistress had dismissed all of them save for Cy. How dare she? She swallowed hard, rather than protesting. It wasn’t her place, she couldn’t raise suspicion... She let her gaze flick to Cy for a moment. She’d meet up with him later. They always found time. It just... was another roadblock. That was all it was. A silent assurance was in her eyes, a promise that it was alright.

“Yes, mistress.” She whispered, at last, and curtseyed in response before reaching out, finding Giselle’s hand and offering her a smile and then a wink. Maybe they didn’t have to go to bed just yet. “Come along, highness.” She spoke to her. With a slight glance back, she led Giselle off--and more towards the banquet tables. “I think it’s a little early for bedtime, don’t you?” She teased gently, squeezing her little hand with gentle fingers.

Then, everything went to hell.

There was screaming and shouting and people were punching and swearing--Ellie’s eyes widened and she wrapped her arms around Giselle suddenly, gathering her close and protecting her with her arms. She crouched down a little, pressing one hand to her ear and defending her from having to hear the words that were being spat. It was the rulers of Ostwall, she realized, now spattered with blood and staining the dance floor. Gold turned to red, and Ellie held her breath, focused on keeping the little princess out of the range of flying fists.

Then, she heard a heartbreaking scream, and the queen of Ostwall flew from the room. Ellie was lucky her heart was strong, for it had gone through so much in even the past ten minutes, which was to say nothing of every other part of her life. It took but another moment for Ellie to look back down at Giselle, checking over her to make sure she was alright. “Let’s grab a pastry for you and go help her.” She said gently, finding her hand again. Gently, she reached out, finding the flower that Lucas had given the little princess and tucking it behind Giselle’s ear instead. “We’ll dance as soon as we can, I promise.” She added with a little smile. Then, she found a fluffy treat for her, hesitated, and found another, just in case Genevieve needed something sweet. She led her from the dance floor, out the door that Genevieve had fled from. “Your majesty?” She called out, keeping Giselle near, just in case. “I’m Ellie, and this is Giselle... Are you alright? Were you hurt?” Worry was clear in her voice. No one should have to witness that, much less experience that, and she hoped that they could be some sort of comfort to the young queen.

Setting

Characters Present

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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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Juliana nodded her head towards Lady Ellie as she went off with Giselle, her daughter, her princess and put her to bed, just like she had asked. She watched the two of them momentarily before her gaze turned back towards her husband. Once she saw his hand had reached out towards, she grabbed it and attempted a smile. The spark wasn't indeed there anymore and she could definitely tell that between them now. Juliana once questioned this to herself but place the thought within the back of her mind since she was still Queen and he was still King, her King.

As he guided them to the dance floor, she genuinely smile then he spun her around, which she gasp to because it was so unexpected. They danced seemingly all around the ballroom as she stared into his gaze, giggling slightly and trying to make this a happy moment but it wasn't. She let out a quiet sigh as she just continued to dance with him with the perfect amount of elegance that one has never seen on the dance floor. Once the song had ended, she saw that he was going to kiss her and it was to be the icing on the cake. Maybe he did still love after all.

Juliana smiled as she closed her eyes and waited for the kiss but nothing happened as screams rang out in the ballroom. "Oh, my." She muttered softly while her eyes peered up towards Cyprian then back towards everyone else's direction. Due to her size, she couldn't see what was happening but definitely heard punches being thrown and women crying. Her ears twitched when she heard Ronan's voice along with Ulfric's as she hiked up her skirt and maneuvered herself through the sea of people before her but when she got there, the display was over. Her eyes looked for Genevieve but it seems as if she had run off, or something.

Her eyes then diverted towards the blood as she upset that they actually had gotten blood on her floor. Her beautiful floor. She walked away with the shake of her head back over towards Cyprian. "I suppose so. Next time, let's not invite Ostwall." She demanded with the firm nod her head as she heard her husband's next question and widened her eyes. He wanted to escort her to bed? Like together? Juliana laughed to herself at the thought then looked at Cyprian.

"I'd love it if you escorted me to bed, my love." She said with a smile while leaning up to give him a peck on the kiss. And yeah, the spark between them had indeed fizzled out. It was a shame because she actually loved him, too. "Yeah. This Kingdom isn't going to rule itself." She made a slight tease comment towards him as she grabbed his hand and started a small trek but she caught sight of Loras and quickly turned around and bumped into Cyprian. She let out a nervous chuckle before looking up at him. "Why don't we go the other way?" She didn't even give a chance to respond as she tugged him along, clenching his hand tighter and tighter, by the second due to her nerves right now.

She didn't want to see Loras just yet though somewhere inside of her heart, it still yearned for him. She did do a quick look back towards his direction though it seemed as if he had disappeared off to somewhere else. Juliana exhaled a sigh as her and Cyprian had made it to her bed chambers, by now. Before entering, she turned towards Cyprian and rested her delicate hands upon his shoulders. "Why don't you come to bed with me tonight, my love?" She raised one of her hands up and caressed his cheek before trailing it down his arm and grabbing his hand as she opened the door, stepping one foot in.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Adelaide Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Theran Ulfricson Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir

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His son had fled the hall before Ulfric could follow him, and now it seemed that the rest of the party was dispersing, leaving him to watch as Hans was pulled off. He wondered if the man would make it through the night - Ronan had given him one hell of a beating. Ulfric looked about now, and his gaze fell upon Genevieve. The poor girl trembled and sobbed, but he didn't realize why. Instead, he assumed she was frightened by the whole affair, and silently, he resolved to speak to Ronan about it.

"Genevieve..." he said softly, reaching out now to touch her arm. But she screeched and ran off, and he recoiled for a moment, frowning to himself. If he'd been more attentive, kept an eye out for Ronan, then maybe this wouldn't have happened. But it was far too late for that. He'd let his guard down, and the whole thing had gone to shit. And people wondered why he hated these events.

Ulfric gathered himself in a mental sense and moved across the hall to Adelaide and Theran. Cedany had already run off after Ronan, and he made a mental note to check in with his youngest, ensure she'd made it back to her room. He stopped a few paces away from his middle children, still frowning in a dejected manner. "You two shouldn't have had to see that," he remarked, biting his tongue for a moment as he thought to himself. "I shouldn't have you two walk alone either...come on."

Their family had been placed in the same hall, which was both a blessing and a misfortune. It was easy for them for find each other, but just as easy for others to find them. Walking back to the room was more unnerving than he'd hoped, and Ulfric checked over his shoulder with every step he took. Each creak in the walls was one of Hans's men following them, and the flickering of shadows on the wall became someone waiting to make him pay for not having stepped in earlier.

But they arrived soon enough, and he was quick to send his children to their rooms - Adelaide with a kiss on the forehead, and Theran with a clasped hand on the shoulder. And then he walked to Cedany's room and knocked gently before poking his head into the room.

"Sleep well, little one," he half-spoke, half-croaked. His nerves were getting the best of him now. He'd never feared like this on the battlefield, but now he was an old man who would stand no chance if he were stabbed in the back. Ulfric removed himself before Cedany could reply - he couldn't bear to speak anymore.

For a moment, he considered speaking to Ronan, but he couldn't do it now. No, his son had to prepare himself for the tournament - it wasn't in Ronan's nature to forfeit. And so he entered his bedroom now and glanced about after he'd locked the door and left the key on the bureau. He jumped as Genevieve stirred in their bed, but he kept himself quiet as he undressed and eased into bed.

"I'm sorry," he breathed. For a moment, he considered reaching out to brush her hair back or to kiss her. Something. But in the end, he turned on to his side and sighed. Only then did he remember what Loras had said, and he pressed his eyes shut. How he wished he could go back and speak more to the Captain - he hadn't felt that happy in years.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair

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There was an obvious downside to holding a joust in the middle of the day. The heat was nearly unbearable in Seabel by the time the riders had begun to mount. Cyprian shifted on his horse and wiped at his forehead, but the glove did little to remove the moisture that had built up. He had been up for hours, bathing, eating, and preparing himself for the joust. It had been a while since he'd ridden, but he had insisted upon it. Next time the celebration came around, he'd be forty-one. Gods willing, he would still ride, but he didn't want to count on it. Who knew where they would be in ten years.
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"Are the mountains cold this time of year, boy?" he inquired, turning his mare so that he could face his opponents.

Ronan looked up from his hand slowly, frowning at the king. His hand still ached like hell, and so he'd kept Cedany's improvised binding on it, hoping that the thing would get him through this joust.

"I believe the mountains are cold any time of year to a man from these parts," he countered, gesturing about with his broken hand. Cyprian chuffed softly in laughter. He had begun to circle slowly on his horse, readying her for their ride. Ronan's stallion, meanwhile, had taken to stomping in the dirt, tossing his head eagerly as though he knew what his rider had in mind for them.

"Yes, I suppose." Cy held a finger out, as though requesting Ronan to put his thoughts on hold as he called over a flagon-carrying squire. In a quick movement, he tipped his head back and downed a few mouthfuls of the sweet wine within. After, he held it out to Ronan who took his own drink, gulping more as though it were some sort of competition.
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The herald beckoned them soon after their silent exchange, and Cyprian received his helmet from another squire. "Best of luck to you," Cyprian called as he kicked his horse and took off towards the stands. Ronan pursed his lips, off-put by his opponent's swift departure. He shouldn't have taken it personally, he knew that, but he couldn't help it. And so he received his own helmet from some chieftain's son his father had taken with them. And then he hurried off after Cyprian, meeting the man in the center.

The two knights nodded to their kings and queens respectfully. Ronan found Genevieve quickly, and he swallowed anxiously. They would have to speak after he rode. He needed to tell her everything, justify himself for the night before. Cyprian sought out Juliana's gaze for a moment, and once he'd found it, he made a quick, mock bow in her direction. He prayed she took it playfully, but it came bitter-sweetly to him. As he turned to his end of the range, he looked for Ellie. He hoped she was watching, for although he couldn't tell her, he knew he was riding for her. And he hoped she knew that too.

The two men had placed themselves at either side of the range, aimed to race at each other. They waited, and a soft hush had fallen over the crowds. Christoph and Corinna had ceased their argument to watch - Cora because she worried for her brother, and Christoph because he had placed a large bet on Cyprian Auclair.

When the horn sounded, the two stormed at each other, a flurry of limbs and metal hurtling down the range. Ronan's lance chanced to move just a bit to the right, and it caught with Cyprian's shield, nearly knocking the lighter man off of his saddle. The king exhaled sharply as he rounded the corner, regaining his composure while, at the other end, Ronan struggled to keep his horse under control while he dealt with the unwieldy lance.

And then they were at it again, but Cyprian was ready for Ronan now, and he predicted that Ronan would go for the same maneuver - which he did. His lance was raised ever so slightly, and it was just enough that the lance bypassed Ronan's shield and hit him in the shoulder. The wood protested under the pressure, but it did not splinter, and though Ronan gasped out loud, it did not pierce his armor. Instead, it pushed him sharply enough that he fell from his saddle and smacked the dirt, sending up a soft puff of dust as he landed on his back.

The prince remained where he was for a moment, far too embarrassed to stand. Cy rounded once more, taking a victory lap of sorts past the spectators before he returned to his tent where he'd remove his armor and recover for the next round he'd have to ride. By that time, Cyprian's men had moved across the field to assess Ronan's injuries, but he stood quickly and pushed past, walking off of the field and away from the festivities.
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From where he sat in the stands, Ulfric couldn't help but frown to himself. He hadn't wanted to be here either - his joints still ached from the night before, and his head throbbed. Sleep had not come to him, no matter how hard he had tried, and so he drank casually at a goblet of some sort of southern ale that had been presented to him. He hated the taste - it was too sweet and fruity for a man who had not even seen such things until he had taken the throne.

This was not his world, and oh, how he hated to be a part of it. If he had been a younger, more capable man, he would have ridden, but fate had not been kind to him, and so he was confined to a seat beside a woman who did not love him and children who would not acknowledge him while his son - his eldest, he should have been his dearest - stalked away, creating quite a stir through the spectators.

He yearned for someone to speak with, and his mind went to Loras once more. Gods, he wished once more he had not missed their meeting. He had to be here somewhere though, protecting Seabel's royals, right? Perhaps they still had time. Perhaps fortune would smile on him for the first time in quite a while.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Adelaide Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Theran Ulfricson Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir

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Genevieve had been silent most of the morning, avoiding Ulfric's gaze at every opportunity, trying her very hardest to not appear rude. Truly, she knew he hadn't sent Hans over on purpose... But he had been stalking her all night and his mere presence had drawn her father over. She greeted her stepchildren weakly when they rose, noticing the lack of her beloved among them and fearing it was because of her, that she truly had ruined everything for good.

And then she remembered the tournament was today, and she wasn't sure if that was better or worse.

So here the Queen of Ostwall sat, rigid beside her husband, having not spoken a word since last night. That was what you did when something went wrong. You shut up and ignore it, act like it never happened until things went back to normal. So that's what she did. Her stomach churned uneasily as she watched Ronan canter about before they started, almost flinching when their eyes met and instantly tensing when they took their positions. She was half tempted to clutch Ulfric's hand, just for some comfort. But Cedany sat beside her, she offered her a little smile, squeezing her hand lightly and then gripping her own seat in anticipation, calmed by her touch even if a little.

And of course he fell. She knew he would, but that didn't stop her from gasping sharply, jumping in her seat and forcing herself to remain seated in that moment at least. Her heart slammed against her rib cage, lips parting dumbly over and over as she tried to find her words.

"I'll go check on him." Genevieve managed to splutter finally as he stormed off. She stood, kissing Ulfric's temple and smiling nervously at her stepchildren before heading off, doing a shockingly good job at keeping her pace reasonable. Her legs shook horribly the closer she got, lip wobbling as she struggled to keep her composure, breaking into a run when they were both out of sight and sobbing his name.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Adelaide Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Theran Ulfricson Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir

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The morning air had a lingering feeling of excitement from the night before, but it might have had to something to do with the tournament that afternoon. Only Adelaide knew that for her family it wasn’t the jousting. The fight from the night before still likely sung in the veins. Masks did little good protecting identity when everyone knew that Ostwall was so backwards and well uncivilized compared to them. What made them a force was what they had seen when Ronan got into it.

Addy shook her head as she dressed preparing for the day. It was going to be interesting to say the least. And now she was back into something more comfortable. Sure she was still forced to wear a dress, but this one was comparably much simpler than the one the night before. Still she would have rather not been in a dress, but there were standards to uphold. She could hear it now and imagined it was the same for her younger sister only much worse.

Everything seemed to fly by in a blur as she moved from one thing to another and it didn’t take too long before they were out in the heat awaiting the jousting. The young woman worried for her brother. She hadn’t seen him since he stormed off after the fight. There had been no need with Ced and their step mother going after him at various points of the night and morning. They had everything covered. Had something been really wrong someone would have said something she was sure, but she didn’t know how he was going to fair on horseback. The fight had been brutal. He’d hurt himself it seemed almost as bad as he had his opponent. Addy was sure that her father was in no better shape than his son especially at his old age.

Glancing in Ulfric’s direction she took stock of his movements and nodded to herself. She was sure she saw wincing here and there. He should have stayed out of it were her thoughts as she shook her head turning back to where the joust was getting ready to take place. Cedany was cheering wildly for their older brother and Adelaide couldn’t help but smile. Her sister cared little for everyone else’s etiquette. She loved her sister for it too.

But it didn’t help watching their brother get knocked from his saddle any easier. She felt herself wincing knowing how much that hurt on a normal basis without someone shoving a lance into a chest plate before hitting the ground. As he slunk off both their step mother and Cedany were off again and she only shook her head. Another time she could just sit here and wait for a verdict about her brother. He certainly didn’t need three women fawning over him. With a sigh, she shook her head and turned back to the matches wishing this was over already.



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If there was one thing Theran Ulfricson was glad of was that he wasn’t competing in the jousting. He would gladly let his half-brother take it whole heartedly. Though he wasn’t quite sure how his brother was surviving to be quite honest. The fight the night prior had been bad. Ronan was lucky their father had jumped in when he did. Though he had wanted to do that himself, but he knew he likely wouldn’t have broken up the fight. He would have helped his brother and only made the situation worse.

So here he sat just behind his family watching their brother lose with less than dignity. He couldn’t be blamed really. His opponent wasn’t someone most people their age would be able to best let alone while injured. As he watched his older brother walk off and their step mother and Cedany run after him he nodded. Well taken care of he was going to be. Ulfric never got that kind of treatment. Unless it was by him or out of duty by the others. Shame really. Sometimes he thought he was the only one who really saw that the man was trying; he just… didn’t know how to try. Why else would a man as hard and distant as Ulfric take him in when his mother had cast him out only to not care about his children? It made no sense to him.

Theran shook his head to rid himself of the negative thoughts and continued to watch the matches. Everyone seemed to be quite good which would make things interesting. Would they get more than just jousting? If so then maybe he would try his hand, at something that wouldn’t make a worse fool of himself than Ronan had done only a few minutes prior.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Adelaide Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Theran Ulfricson Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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As per usual, Ulfric kept to himself throughout the event. When Genevieve gasped, he jumped in his seat as well, gripping the arms of his chair out of instinct. He didn't even have a moment to reply to her before she stood and pressed a kiss to his temple. By the time he'd opened his mouth, she'd run off, and Cedany followed in suit.

He wasn't surprised by it, of course. Not that they often abandoned him, but he was used to this sort of solitude. It shouldn't have fazed him, but he couldn't help but frown to himself - a combination of the pain he was in and his own thoughts. Ulfric looked over at Adelaide for a moment, watching her as she looked out on the jousting field. For a moment, he thought to speak up, perhaps thinking to give her some words of consolation. But whatever he thought to say was lost to him almost as soon as he tried to put it to words, and so he turned away from her again.

"He'll be fine," he blurted all of a sudden, not even entirely sure he'd meant to speak up. But this silence between him and his remaining two children was unbearable. Still, he supposed he only made it more awkward by speaking so extemporaneously. And so he fell silent once more as he watched Loras and Wulf stride horseback on to the field. His interest piqued, and he shifted in his seat, watching the match with the most passion he'd felt for something in a while.

And why was that? This young man meant nothing to him, and yet he couldn't help but focus on him. He reminded him of something, not necessarily a person, but of an art to fighting and chivalry that wasn't even an art at all. He was the men he'd fought alongside, the ones he had shared drinking songs and tall tales with when the day was over. Something came over him then, a wave of affection that he hadn't felt for another human in far too long. And when the object of his affections was dismounted, Ulfric couldn't help but flinch as well as if, perhaps, he'd put himself into Loras's boots.

He'd surprised himself with his reaction, and he mulled over the whole affair as Loras returned to the stands, walking past him. "I've got to...stretch my legs," he said to his children, though he didn't make eye contact with them. He was already standing and walking towards Loras.

Ulfric took a seat beside the Captain and smiled. "Do hope I'm not interrupting," he began, extending his legs before himself. "I wanted to apologize for last night. I hadn't meant to leave you. Would have come back if not for..." He trailed off now but suddenly turned to Loras, hoping to meet his eyes. "And I wished to congrate you on a well-run joust. Certainly better than my boy's. Man like you must have come from the army - not one of those noblemen taught to run up and down the field. A real, seasoned soldier." He fit clenched for a moment for emphasis, but he released it suddenly, laughing to himself. "Listen to me ramble. Don't suppose I've spoken this much in years."

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.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Capheus Auclair Character Portrait: Corinna Auclair Character Portrait: Kuan-yu Su

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The old king felt something stir at him as Loras offered a crooked grin. He matched it quickly with one of his own - something genuine and happy that reached his eyes and caused them to bunch up slightly, showing his age for a moment. It was a smile Ulfric hadn't shown in a while, and it felt good to show it, to feel it.
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The look of surprise that crossed the younger man's face only evoked a quick, soft laugh from Ulfric who looked away for a moment. But then Loras reached out and grabbed his shoulder, a friendly gesture that he himself had used on many an occasion, and yet it felt...different. His head snapped back, and he found himself making eye contact once more as Loras pulled his hand away. He wished to cry out "don't stop". He wanted to savor this feeling of togetherness, a sort of camaraderie that he hadn't had in ages ... but he couldn't. Not here, at least.

"You're quite welcome," he replied, inclining his head slightly to Loras. "Would be proud to see a man like you represent Ostwall instead, but a man's kingdom is his, I suppose." He paused for a moment. "Except ... when it isn't I suppose." For a moment, Ulfric flushed, pursing his lips. He hadn't meant to speak so rashly, without taking the whole scenario into consideration. Sometimes he still thought Falor was one - but a third seat for the new Queen was not easy to miss.

Oh, but then he grabbed Ulfric's hand, and the King let him, allowed him to spread his weathered fingers out so that they were splayed, palm up to the sky. And the smile returned to his face, and he could feel emotion rising in him once more as he thought of a thousand things to say. But nothing came to fruition - oh, he had never been good with words. There were so many people, and he couldn't open himself up here, to this man.

"I should...be on my way," he sputtered, concerned he'd make a fool of himself far too quickly. "If you..." He began to speak but trailed off, furrowing his brow as he thought of how best to proceed before standing quickly, clasping one of Loras's hands in his own. "If you should find yourself in need of company, my room is open to you." Ulfric stepped back, reluctantly letting Loras's hand go. "I do hope I see you...Loras."





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Cora found that, hard as she tried, she couldn't release her hold on Loria. She wanted to grip the young woman tightly, never let her go, lest she lose her once again. She had believed Christoph's home was all she had ever wanted, but as much as she had loved him, it was Loria's hair she had braided and brushed, Loria who she had chased about, shared gossip with as young girls often did. And it had been Loria who had comforted Corinna when everything seemed to go to hell.
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When she had pulled away, she gave Ris's hands a squeeze - both to express affection and to steady herself. How magical it was to see that same smile grace Loria's features. Nostalgia churned within her, and she couldn't help but look down for a moment, blinking back a wave of emotion.

"I am well" she replied, struggling to find words and then resorting to a word that hardly described her situation. She was awful and wonderful all at once - her interactions with both father and daughter left her with a whirlwind of emotion that she couldn't possibly put into words. "And you? Engaged to marry King Lucas, I hear?" She squeezed Loria's hands once more. "You will have to tell me about all of the arrangements - and ... I do hope to attend your wedding myself." How grand it would be, she imagined. She pictured it, and she frowned for a moment as she began to picture the wedding she had imagined for herself all of those years ago.

Calisto brought her back into reality as he complained of the heat. "Do forgive me." Cora slowly, reluctantly, dropped Ris's hands. "I am certain we will speak again before the celebrations have ended, however." As a final thought, she reached forward and embraced the woman again, leaving a gentle kiss on her cheek as was custom among women of their class. And then she gave a quick curtsy - perhaps mock, perhaps genuine - and made her way back to her place in the stands, amongst the nobles, not royalty.





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Something clenched in his gut as Juliana's laugh rang out, reaching his ears as he returned to the seat beside her, a slightly less impressive chair, one made for a monarch's spouse. It was a sort of nostalgia, a regret, perhaps. How long had it been since she'd laughed like that for him? She had, once upon a time. She had giggled and whispered to him once, but where had that gone?

"Thank you, my love," he replied, kissing her cheek in return. And now his gaze turned to his younger brother, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. "Your kindness humbles me, dear brother." And he winked quickly, conveying he'd meant only to jest in his sarcasm. But Capheus knew that. "I've not a desire to get back out there any time soon... but will you be entertaining us next with you abilities?"
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Stunning, she'd called him. Oh, how he wished she'd meant that, but he couldn't lie to himself. And yet, he took her hand readily, squeezing it gently before he met her gaze.

"I'll cheer only if you win," he jested, gesturing for a goblet of wine - something to take off the edge. "Can't risk tarnishing the name any further." Of course, he didn't expect his brother would actually joust. He was too busy thinking of the fact that Ellie's scarf remained tied to his wrist, tucked beneath his doublet. But then a horse cantered down the field and stopped before the stands as the rider called out. His voice was accented in a way Cyprian couldn't place, and so he realized quite quickly that these were the islanders Juliana had spoken of earlier, in passing.

He wanted to tell his brother to stop, offer to take on this opponent instead, but Capheus had left, and Cyprian remained beside Juliana. Still holding her hand, he nursed the goblet of wine as his brother donned armor and rode out on to the packed dirt of the field.

Cyprian gave a soft huff of disdain as he watched the islander trot about in circles. "Too cocky for his own good, I imagine," he commented, running his thumb over Juliana's knuckles subconsciously. He had hoped to cheer for his brother, but it did not seem appropriate in this silence, and so he watched with bated breath as the two men hurtled at each other.

It was over almost as quickly as it had begun, and Cyprian's hand tightened around his goblet as Capheus fell. It continued to tighten, and his knuckles whitened as the rider approached the stands once more, eyeing the royal couple - or, rather, Juliana.

His jaw clenched, and Cyprian gave Juliana's hand a squeeze again. This one was just a bit less gentle than he had previously intended. "The pleasure is all my wife's and mine," he called back, forcing a harsh smile onto his face. It was hardly subtle to a man of any intelligence. Cyprian gave a brief incline of the head but nothing more than that. "We welcome you with open arms to Seabel."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Adelaide Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Theran Ulfricson Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir

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ImageJousting over, Cedany was growing reckless. She wanted to break away from the crowd and sneak around the castle, but in such a foreign place, being caught could mean strained relationships between the Kingdoms. What else do you think when someone's sneaking around? As the islanders arrived, Cedany sat beside her family and watched. They were beautiful people full of grace and style and Cedany found herself admiring her Island dress even more. As time and heat wore on, things were growing tense and quiet. As she glanced around the room, she saw a spot where instruments had been set up for a possible band. Possibly from the night before as an extension of the ballroom that wasn't used or torn down. She had an idea and groaned inwardly at the thought.

The best way to keep people happy was through entertainment and there was one particular skill she was, unfortunately, good at. Playing the lute. She picked up the large instrument and went to tuning it before returning to her spot near her family. Without a word, she began to play. The music was atmospheric and beautiful and reminded Cedany of walking through art halls at a nobleman's house or a capital building. She allowed the music to flow through her and out of her fingertips as she plucked at the strings. She had even shut her eyes to allow a sense of focus. It was easier to stare at the back of her eyelids than a crowd. She hoped that the islanders enjoyed the song and hopefully things would stay friendly. She always thought fights were entertaining, but after last night and with her family so close together, she didn't think that's what they needed. This crowd of nobles and royals was one step from an all out war. At least, in her opinion.






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ImageAs the group moved inside following the rest of the jousting matches and the arrival of the Islanders, Lucas found himself in front of many of the guests. He knew he should be mingling with their newcomers, but the crowd was growing large and it was making Lucas tense. He found himself searching the crowd for his beautiful Loria and when he found her, he excused himself from a conversation with a particularly chatty guest. Then he made his way to Ris.

He walked up beside her and took ahold of her hand, kissing it softly on her knuckles. "My lady," he greeted her. He twined his fingers through hers and said, "I hope I'm not interrupting, but may I borrow you for a moment or two?" His eyes twinkled as he spoke, but his posture was tense and his grip on her hand was tight, but not painful.

Without waiting for a response, he snuck his love away into a side hall. He took a deep breath once they were free of the crowd and smiled at Ris guiltily. "I'm sorry, Ris. Crowds just.. make me tense. The celebration last night was one thing. There was dancing and joy and good feelings--for the most part, but that room was tense and full of strangers among friends. I was hoping to steal you away for a moment. Get a break from all the people and just be the two of us. Is that alright?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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He was glad that the group had decided to return to the indoors where they would be able to escape the day's heat for just a while. But the respite was short lived. As he sat there, the heat seemed to return ten-fold, and whereas outside, an occasional breeze cooled the air, the air inside was stagnant and oppressive. Ulfric could feel the sweat beading on his forehead, and he wiped at it as he looked around at the others. But he could hardly focus. For once, he didn't enjoy being in the presence of the islanders. There was something peculiar about a group of people who lived in the middle of the sea - especially in the eyes of one who had never left the mainland and never would. But there was another reason he was on edge.

He could still feel the man's hand in his. Loras. He could not forget the name, and when he thought of it, those blue eyes returned to him. Ulfric smiled softly at the thought. He recalled, years ago in his youth, a similar affection for another who had been much older than he. His name escaped him now, for one never learned the personal name of his superiors. One's family name was the only true method of identification. The nights were cold and lonely, and a man only did what he had to do to pass the time - it was not personal like a man's love for a woman. But if it could be.

Ulfric focused himself out of his thoughts as he heard the sound of the lute ring out beside him. He looked down and spotted Cedany hunched slightly over the instrument, eyes shut tightly as she performed a tune for the group. He knew she hated the instrument, but she had a gift of sorts when it came to music. When her song came to an end, he reached over and gave her hair a quick ruffle, smiling slightly at his daughter.

"Watch yourself," he said. "They might start to get the wrong idea about you. Begin to think you're a proper lady." Ulfric looked up as he retracted his hand and noticed as Loras entered the room, followed by his sister and preceded by his father. As they did so, servants were beginning to set the room for some sort of feast, as was expected of a celebration like this. Perhaps he would have time to speak to Loras now, before he was required to sit around with people who hardly held his attention as much as the young knight.

And so he stood, gripping the arms of the chair he sat in as his legs straightened out. They ached, but perhaps, just a little less than usual. As he strode out of the room, he looked to Loras, expressionless, but he hoped the young man would catch just a hint of meaning in his gaze as he passed them and made his way to his chambers.

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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Loria Estermont Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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Her giggle made him grin back, and as she buried into his arm, he leaned down and pressed a kiss to her forehead. As she spoke though, he slowed to a stop, lips resting just above the crown of her head as he listened. His smile, as well, quickly dissolved from his face, and it was replaced with something that looked pained and discontented.

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

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

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




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

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

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

Men change their minds, and their affections are fleeting.

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Loras Estermont

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Loras was beginning to think that he had a type--large, hairy, brutish, and warm. When he was younger, all blonde hair and big blue eyes, there had been a man who had come to his doorstep that fit every one of those categories. Of course, he’d followed him around like a duckling would its mother until he left. Perhaps he had not recognized it as such then, and it was not to say that women were not beautiful to him as well. It seemed to be merely a preference. However, he had never thought that this would be a recurring thing.

And yet, there he was, wishing that he could memorize the callouses on Ulfric Bjornson’s hand. The king of Ostwall, Loras, he thought ruefully. He sure knew how to pick them. And yet... There might still be hope. He was a little shaken by his speaking with his father. He always had known that he was the lesser liked child, the one seen as less crafty and more easily used. But he had never once begrudged Ris’ place. It seemed that they were both pulling away from their father’s desires, though, and mentally, for a moment, he prayed for luck to the both of them. He couldn’t get Christoph’s words from his mind, though. Men change their mind, and their affections are fleeting. He knew that was not true of himself--it was one of the things that he and his little sister shared. They loved with their whole being, consistent and true. But... could it be true of Ulfric?

No, he told himself. He would not let himself doubt this man, this man with beautiful eyes and a weathered face and a smile that made his heart feel as if it had been warmed for eternity. A soft strain of music filled the air, and he was taken from his thoughts as he leaned against a wall, glancing towards Ulfric’s daughter, who was playing on a lute. A soft little smile touched his lips. Ris had gone by then, and he mentally wished her safety and contentment. Then, Ulfric’s voice reached his ears, and he let his eyes shut for a moment as he merely... listened. If he could not have the man, he could memorize what he could about him. His intonation, the sound of his laugh...

Then, he heard a chair gently scrape against the stone floor, and he opened his eyes once more just in time to see Ulfric rise. His brow furrowed in slight confusion for a moment. Where was he going? Ulfric started out, and Loras had to force himself not to instantly follow. But then... Then, those jade eyes met his own, and he received that message loud and clear. He waited a little longer, before allowing himself to finally go after him. He went up the stone stairs, up to where the people of Ostwall were living in that moment. He hesitated for a moment, hoping that he was doing this right, that he hadn’t merely terrified the man by holding his hand. But he had wanted him to come, Loras encouraged himself. He was going to be alright. All of this would be alright.

“Ulfric?” He called gently, his voice pitched so as to not reverberate off the walls. He hoped that no one would come up and interrupt them. Please, let no one come up and interrupt them. He knocked on the door, once, twice, three times. Then, he returned his hands to his sides for a moment, soon knotting them together in front of him. He could be patient, he told himself. He was good at being patient.

Probably.