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The Prince and the Shieldmaiden

Europa

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a part of The Prince and the Shieldmaiden, by almostinsane.

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almostinsane holds sovereignty over Europa, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Europa is a part of The Prince and the Shieldmaiden.

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Lelinus Augustus [130] "I am not questioning your honor, Ser, I am denying it completely."
Brynjar Augustus [129] "I will not yield. I am the king!"
Ingrid Jorvikdatter [113] I am no mere warrior, I am a weapon
Evangelina [106] "...."
Beorn Clovermaen [105] "Plants are God's mercy to mankind."
Julius Gadfael [65] "As you say, Your Grace."
Elska Agir [54] "Much can be said without ever needing the use of words."
Tyr Jorvikson [45] Blood makes you related, loyalty make you a family
Katinka Dragomir [32] So what if I'm a girl?
Sarah Morgane [10] "I fight for my people and my faith"

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus
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Evangelina stood her ground. She didn't waver or falter and if she did feel intimidated by him she didn't show it. That was enough to impress Brynjar. She turned her head to look at him as she answered. He didn't move as she explained her fear was scorpions. He had heard of them and knew of their deadly reputation but he had never seen one before. It was a curious answer. She stared him straight in the eyes without faltering, very few people did that.

There was amusement coloring Brynjar's eyes as she leaned in and told him that scaring her wasn't going to work. She certainly wasn't like the women here. Even as she spoke he thought back to the poor maid he had very nearly scared to death during the wedding feast. Even the ladies of the court walked around him with trepidation--except Katinka. Brynjar was imposing and frightening to women. He watched her straighten her back and he leaned in closer. "If you were afraid," he whispered dangerously close to her. "I would have no use for you." It was a rather ominous thing to say.

This nomadic woman was a challenge. He couldn't help but grin thinking about men "roaring, hissing, and howling". It was true many men were that way. Brynjar knew when he need to roar, to hiss, and to howl, but he was also the scorpion. Brynjar was careful and he calculated every move he made. It was the reason that he was going to be crowned king. He was the enemy no one could find.

He folded his arms casually as she said she was not their for his pleasure. Evangelina was not very good at hiding her disdain for the holy man. It was a bit entertaining. She held the decree out to him as she was firmly dictating what her role would be. Brynjar couldn't deny the lust he felt for the woman. Her bold manner made her all the more intriguing to him. Brynjar was also no idiot when it came to his own appearances. It was the reason why he had several bastard children.

He crossed the space between them but did not take the decree from her. Instead he place his hands on either side of the desk, pinning her between them. She may be brave, but he knew he made her nervous. "Yes, I accept." His voice was quiet as he stared down at her with his dark eyes. "But you will need to remember that I will be your king," an edge entered his voice. "You are not from here, and that is evident. You have fire, you have spirit," he was going to enjoy this game with her but there had to be boundaries. "But you are still a servant, free or not." He plucked the decree from her hands and set it on the desk. "You will be careful with your words, and you will be respectful, or you are free to leave." Even as he finished talking he did not move.

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Character Portrait: Tyr Jorvikson Character Portrait: Elska Agir
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Elska's eyes were clouded. She did not have the same faith Brynjar. She calmed herself a little when he place his hand upon her shoulder. She took in a slow breath but shook her head. "I do not think it will be that easy Tyr." She said quietly. "There's something-" she stopped as she tried to find the right word. "There's something more to Brynjar. I can't explain it, but he unsettles me." She had always trusted her intuition in the past and right now it was screaming at her that something was wrong. Everyone believed King Artos' death to be suspicious, and Elska knew the Fjellborgans had nothing to do with it. Who else could want the old king dead?

"Why would he marry Ingrid to the sick prince? He has no shame and does not hide he desires for her." She pursed her lips tightly. Ingrid was a formidable warrior and it was the only reason Elska felt confident Brynjar wouldn't try and take advantage of her. "It was his duty to marry first, and to marry Ingrid, but he pushes it off onto his sick brother who will likely not see another five summers?" she shook her head feeling the emotions roll in her stomach.

"I fear leaving you here is putting you right where he wants you. Of course he would never raise his hand to you in an open show, but he controls the court here. Ingrid is already doomed to her fate here." She sighed. "I can't lose you too Tyr," her eyes watered and she quickly swiped at them.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus
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Evangelina watched as the King crossed the room, her heart raced as he came closer, forcing her back against the desk, placing his hands on either side of it, effectively trapping her between him and the desk. She hoped she didn't appear afraid, she was but she was prepared to defend herself, as he leaned in.

"Yes, I accept."He said, a breath away, his dark eyes staring into hers. "But you will need to remember that I will be your king," He told her, a darkness in his tone. This was a warning. "You are not from here, and that is evident. You have fire, you have spirit," He added and she rose a defiant brow as if to accept these words as true.. "But you are still a servant, free or not." She watched as his hand came up, but stopped at her hand, which had fallen at her sides, and freed the decree from her hand and placed it on the desk behind her. "You will be careful with your words, and you will be respectful, or you are free to leave."

"Fair enough." She said, whispered due to the closeness and her nerves. He understood that she was free, that was about as much as she could hope for. She rose a hand to his chest, and gently pressed back, so that she could stand straight. "If that's all, I'll retrieve your breakfast and prepare you for the day." She said, her voice still a whisper. "You're Grace." She added, with a tight lipped smile as if to prove, she too accepted his terms, by being respectful, and careful even if she put her hands on him, as far as she knew, that wasn't something commoners were allowed to do, but she wasn't from here.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus
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Brynjar could see how unsettled she was to have him pressed in so close to her, but she handled it quite well. Most women never survived this long against his advance. They always turned into a quivering mess before him. He was as frightening as he was handsome. He was already looking forward to having Evangelina around. She was a challenge and for some reason believed she was brave enough to stand against him.

She pressed her hand against his chest and he yielded. He didn't bother to correct or admonish her for the touch. "Very well," he stepped away from her and finally gave her the space he had invaded so boldly. He watched her walk out of his chambers to go retrieve his breakfast before he turned back to his desk. He picked up the decree and scanned it more carefully this time.

At the very bottom his father's seal was printed clearly. What purpose did his father have in bringing such a woman into his life as a handmaiden? There had been no word or passing conversation to indicate that Artos had hired Evangelina. Brynjar didn't understand and he was likely never going to. Artos was gone and whatever divine purpose he had set up by putting Evangelina in his life was now lost.

Brynjar set the decree down and forgot about it as he walked over to one of the tall windows that lined his chambers. He leaned against the frame and stared out. The view looked down towards the gardens and courtyards of the palace. It was a pretty view, but Brynjar had never cared much for a pretty view.

The coronation was to commence soon after the funeral was finished and King Artos was laid to rest. Everything was pushing along like he wanted. He was setting up his pawns where he needed them. There would be blood one way or another. Brynjar just had to be patient.

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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There was a quiet moment, the king watching her, her watching him, her hand firmly on his chest. It felt like forever before he spoke. "Very Well." He said and finally gave her space. She let go of the breath she didn't know she was holding, and maybe her way out of his chambers, closing the door behind her. She leaned against the door a moment, to catch her breath.

She survived it, the first meeting. She wasn't sure how she did it, but he seemed to actually like her brashness, which -in itself- wasn't a bad thing, but he seemed to like it in a way that made her feel like he hoped to see more of it, so there would be more tests his boundaries to come. She wasn't looking forward to it. Not one bit.


She made her way to Brother Beron, because honestly she had no idea where anything was in this place, only to end up completely turned around. She looked for the apple tree, but found herself outside instead. This was not good, she could not afford to be late with his breakfast. His amusement could only go so far, on the first day.

She found herself in the courtyard, and she could hear a few people talking so she headed their way and to her surprise and even a bit of luck, she found Brother Beorn with the Prince.

"Pardonnez-moi , Votre Grâce , je suis devenu perdu , il semble." She said and shook her head. "Ah, Good Morning, Your Grace, Brother Beron, Forgive me, I am in a bit of a panic, I've gotten lost, and I do not wish to be late getting your brother his breakfast." She said with a nervous smile. "He's accepted employment, so I wish to make a good impression." She told them, and honestly she couldn't say why, perhaps it was her nerves from the exchange with the king.

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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Lelinus smiled at Evangelina's greeting, giving her a nod as he began to strap his bow on his back. He waved her apology away, "You do not need to stand on formality with me when we're alone like this. There's no point in a performance if there is no audience, is there Beorn?"

"Indeed, my prince," Beorn replied before blinking at her statement, "He's accepted you already? I hope he hasn't been too difficult. His Grace can be...."

"He can be a cunt," Lelinus stated blulntly and the monk couldn't help but laugh.

"I was going to say difficult. I can show you to the kitchens. They would have already begun to make food for the day," Beorn told her with a kind smile, "If you would permit it, Lelinus."

"Of course, I wouldn't want to keep you away," the prince said, his tone faintly teasing. Beorn suppressed the urge to glare at his friend. He was too perceptive at times.

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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"You do not need to stand on formality with me when we're alone like this. There's no point in a performance if there is no audience, is there Beorn?" The Prince said and Evangelina smiled with a nod. That was good, she wasn't sure how much faking it she could do. It was amazing that those two were related. They were so different.

"Indeed, my prince," Beorn added before turning his attention to her as if he'd only just heard what she said. "He's accepted you already? I hope he hasn't been too difficult. His Grace can be...."

"He can be a cunt," the Prince cut in and Evangelina laughed out, hiding it and her shock behind her hand She would have never expected him to curse so freely.

"I was going to say difficult. I can show you to the kitchens. They would have already begun to make food for the day," Beorn told kindly and Evangelina nodded. "If you would permit it, Lelinus."

"Of course, I wouldn't want to keep you away," The Prince teased and Evangelina sparred the poor monk the embarrassment of chuckling, though she smiled. She wasn't blind, he seemed to be taken with her from the start, and tried to hide it, he was about a subtle as a sandstorm but she wouldn't hold it against him.

"Thank you, Beorn, and everything went will with your brother, Your Grace, even though he was a bit..."She gestured to the prince, as if to suggest the word he'd used prior. She was a lady, she wouldn't curse even if he indeed was a bit of a cunt, with the way he hovered over her the way he did, she could still feel her heart beating hard in her chest.. "...Difficult," She said, gesturing to the Beorn. "I believe I'll fare well, all things considered, he accepted the terms as they are, I know my place, and he knows his." She said.

Whether he chose to ignore that fact, remain to be seen.

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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"Even the strongest of warriors has to sleep," the lady persisted. While she had no doubt in Brynjar's abilities, it didn't stop her from worrying. She kept imagining some dark figure disabling the guards before they knew what hit them, and sneaking in to slay the crown prince in his bed. This was not a possibility she was ready to allow, even for the sake of his pride. It was too dreadful a thought. Her spirits were lifted, though, when he conceded to having extra tasters. "It will," she assured him, almost able to smile just then with how relieved she felt knowing he'd at least be careful not to be poisoned the way she was so sure Artos had been. "Thank you."

Katinka hummed solemnly as the prince continued to speak. "Listen to you.." She spoke softly and met his eyes as her hand moved to cover the back of his. She truly must have been blind when it came to this man. "As much as he was a guardian to me, our ties were little compared to yours. You do not need to comfort me, it is you who have lost your father. You have my condolences." For a moment, she shook, but then she lifted her other hand so that she was holding one of Brynjar's between both of hers, and she steadied. "You are... the strongest man I know, in so many ways." She stopped herself there, not wanting to become too emotional in front of him, so as not to add to his burden. After a deep breath, she pat the back of his hand gently and stood to leave. Before she got far, however, her eyes returned to the crown prince's face. "I know you have a lot to take care of, and I won't get in your way. If you need anything- respite or assistance, anything at all- I'll be here." The corners of her lips turned up briefly. "You are going to be a great King, Brynjar." With that she bowed her head slightly and finally turned away. She replaced her veil when she reached the door, then left the room.

Lady Katinka spent the rest of the day and much of the evening mingling with the other nobles. As usual, she listened in on all interesting conversations, although her flirtations were on hold for the period of mourning. Throughout the hours, she was plagued with a feeling of foreboding, an anxiousness that turned her stomach; she pushed this off, however, with the knowledge that whatever plots were hidden in the underbelly of court, she would find them. She steeled herself with determination, and used her worries plus the anger beneath them as fuel for her watchful eyes.

The next morning, her breakfast was delivered to her chambers, but it went cold on her table untouched. She had uncovered very little of use thus far, and while this was to be expected with something as sneaky as the successful assassination of a king, Katinka was impatient as ever. It occurred to her, too, that as the ward of a dead King her life was now up in the air. Her family's lands, riches, and title were still tied to her, but as a woman she was not in a position to own it all herself. She could hardly imagine herself as Brynjar's charge once he became king. She would likely be married off soon, made a nobleman's wife with the bulk of her family's property as her dowry, and what little freedom she had would be forfeited. This realization did nothing to calm her nerves, and had her itching for a way to vent.

The sun had hardly made it over the tops of the trees when she left the castle to wander the grounds; although wander might have been too gentle a word, considering the way she stormed about. Eventually she found herself at the training yards, where some knights were practicing. She was without a veil now, but still clad in heavy black fabrics that made the sunlight feel like fire on her skin. "May I?" she spoke up as she approached them, gesturing to a bow that had been set aside in favor of a sword. She recognized the gaits of at least half the men, so for the time being she didn't bother acting. Once given permission, she lifted the borrowed bow and positioned the arrow with obvious experience behind her every move. Each shot she let loose sunk into the target, although she purposely avoided the direct center a few times when she saw some of the less familiar men eyeing her. By the time she notice a far more familiar figure in the distance, her frustration had been chipped away enough that she managed a smile when returning the weapon to its rightful owner and her eyes lingered on the sparring figures to her left before she departed.

The lady gathered up her skirts as she made her way across the grounds, toward Lelinus's position in the courtyard. With the heat and the sheer magnitude of her skirts, it took a while for her to reach her destination, which irritated her some but she was so glad to see the prince without his bride that it hardly mattered. She arrived just in time to hear the tail end of Evangelina's assessment, which paired with the handmaiden's foreign appearance was more than enough to pique Katinka's curiosity. "Leo," she called in greeting, despite her approach being quite apparent long before she'd reached their small group. "I missed you yesterday. How are you faring?" Her attention might have stayed on Evangelina longer, not to mention the dynamic between this foreign woman and Brother Beorn, had the Lady not been so very worried about the Prince since the wedding.

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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"I believe I'll fare well, all things considered, he accepted the terms as they are, I know my place, and he knows his."

"I hope you are right. I confess that I do not know my brother well enough to know what he will make of you. Be careful," Lelinus told her thoughtfully. He had a fair guess of what motivated his brother: power and warfare, particularly against the Fjellborgans. However, in his view, there was little depth to his personality other than the drive to dominate others. Still, it seemed that his father had hoped that he could change. Before he could muse more on this, a familiar voice cut through his thoughts.

"Leo, I missed you yesterday. How are you faring?"

"It's only been a day, Kat. How could you miss me?" he teased her with a grin. He gripped her shoulders in a friendly greeting, "You look exhausted. Thank Artemesia that I do not need to wear a deathrap."

He gestured to Evangelina.

"This is Lady Evangelina. She is Brynjar's new servant. Poor girl," he said with a grin, "Beorn's been helping her get acclimated."

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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"I hope you are right. I confess that I do not know my brother well enough to know what he will make of you. Be careful,"
The Prince told her and Evangelina merely shrugged. "I always am." she told him just before a lovely young woman made her way toward the group. Evangelina smiled in her direction as she looked over at her. She went on with the Prince for a moment before the Prince gestured to her.

"This is Lady Evangelina. She is Brynjar's new servant. Poor girl," He told her with a grin, and Evangelina merely shook her head. "Beorn's been helping her get acclimated." He said and Evangelina curtsied "Nice to meet you, Milady." She said. "I needn't your sympathy, You're Grace,." She said, playfully rolling her eyes, although she would appreciate if everyone would stop coddling her like a bird with a broken wing. Like her circumstances were unfortunate. She didn't have to be here, she chose to, and she could chose to leave if she so wished, even the Brynjar knew that. "Forgive me, Milady, they still seemed to be under the impression that I do not have a choice in my employment." She said, raising an accusatory brow. If she were kind, Evangelina hoped the Lady would be around for a while, it would be nice not to be surrounded by men and their foolishness all the time.

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen Character Portrait: Tyr Jorvikson Character Portrait: Elska Agir
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Ingrid idly wandered the corridors of the keep. She did her best to ignore some of the lingering stares from the nobles filing back and forth. Surely they had seen a woman before. Didn't they have wives? Daughters? Why were their gazes lingering on her? Ingrid stood a little straighter as she carried on. They would not get to her.

As she came by the courtyard, she spotted Leo in the middle of a small group. She spotted Brother Beorn and Evangelina. She was about to join them when she saw Katinka join them. She lingered behind the pillar and watched from a distance. Leo seemed happy enough to see Katinka. Ingrid hadn't had a chance to get to know Katinka well enough, she hadn't exactly been welcoming to the Fjellborgans who had come to Byrdain. Still, she supposed Leo knew her better than Ingrid did. There was probably a good reason for Leo to be happy to see her. Katinka was probably a perfectly nice young lady.

Ingrid rested her head against the cold stone. She was being ridiculous. She was a warrior, The Wolf of Fjellborg for crying out loud, and here she was staying away from a girl who had done nothing more than cast a disapproving glance her way on a few occasions. Ingrid gathered her skirt and headed down. It was hardly Katinka's fault that Brynjar had her ear; he had the ears of most of the court.

Ingrid smiled as she stepped out onto the courtyard and approached the group. She pressed a kiss to Lelinus's cheek. "Good morning." she said quietly before linking her fingers with his.

"Forgive me, Milady, they still seemed to be under the impression that I do not have a choice in my employment." Evangelina said to Katinka. Ingrid was under no doubt that Evangelina was a formidable woman in her own way. There were few people Ingrid could think of that would willingly deal with Brynjar outside of the court. For doing just that, Evangelina had Ingrid's respect.


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"I do not think it will be that easy Tyr." Elska said quietly. "There's something-" she stopped for a moment. Confusion passed over her face for a second before she started speaking again. "There's something more to Brynjar. I can't explain it, but he unsettles me."

Tyr stood up a little straighter and crossed his arms and waited for Elska to continue. "Why would he marry Ingrid to the sick prince? He has no shame and does not hide he desires for her. It was his duty to marry first, and to marry Ingrid, but he pushes it off onto his sick brother who will likely not see another five summers?"

Tyr would be a liar if he said similar thoughts had not crossed his mind, although from what he had seen of Brynjar and what Ingrid had told him about Lelinus, he was grateful that Ingrid had been married to the younger brother. So far, all he had come up with was that the marriage was supposed to be a slight against Fjellborg. The news that Brynjar was trying to implicate Fjellborg in King Artos's death only made Tyr surer of his suspicions.

"I fear leaving you here is putting you right where he wants you. Of course he would never raise his hand to you in an open show, but he controls the court here. Ingrid is already doomed to her fate here." She sighed. "I can't lose you too Tyr," her eyes watered and she quickly swiped at them.

Tyr dropped his arms, debating whether or not to comfort Elska. Besides Ingrid, and she barely cried, Elska was the last person Tyr wanted to see cry. "If Ingrid is doomed, then I cannot abandon her, not yet. As fierce as she is in battle, she is still my sister." Tyr said, his voice level. He wiped the corner of Elska's eye. "You will not lose me Elska. I promise you I will see Fjellborg's shores again. I'll be back before you know it and you can get sick of seeing me again."

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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"It's not that we think you're forced... It's just that..." Beorn began, trying to explain his unease before Lelinus interrupted him.

"My brother is unpredictable. Now that Father is dead, no one can check him. Not by force anyway."

He was about to continue when he felt a familiar presence beside him. He blinked in surprise at the brief kiss on his cheek before turning to see Ingrid. Smiling, he squeezed her hand. He could get used to this. He turned to face her. The corset that the handmaidens no doubt made her wear accentuated her already generous bosom, most likely to her discomfort. He had no doubt someone would make a fool of himself around her in the celebrations after the coronation. After all, she was only wed to a half-dead prince.

"Princess Ingrid," Beorn greeted with a bow.

"Good morning, wife," Leo told her with a slight grin, "I suppose you think we're being overly chivalrous as well."

"I just hope he will listen to you," Beorn told Evangelina, "He could learn some restraint. Do you still want me to show you where the kitchens are?"

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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"It's not that we think you're forced... It's just that..." Beorn began "My brother is unpredictable. Now that Father is dead, no one can check him. Not by force anyway."Prince Lelinus finished for him and Evangelina merely shrugged. "That's what I'm here for." She said with a smile, though she could understand their worry, she could handle it and so long as she did the dance she'd done before, she'll survive this place and him.

She found the Princess making her way toward the group and she smiled and curtsied. "Princess." She greeted.
"Princess Ingrid," Beorn greeted as well.

"Good morning, wife," The Prince greeted her with a smile and a squeeze of the hand. She was under the impression that the Princess was from a rival kingdom, and their marriage was arranged, but it seemed that love had found it's way, regardless, atleast as far as the prince was concerned. "I suppose you think we're being overly chivalrous as well."

"I just hope he will listen to you," Beorn told Evangelina, calling her attention from the two. "He could learn some restraint. Do you still want me to show you where the kitchens are?"

Evangelina's eyes went wide. "Oh, By the Gods, Yes, we must make haste." She said and turned to the others. She could not afford to be late. A hungry man was a frustrated man, and she didn't have the general patience for such a thing, especially her first day.

"It is nice meeting you, Lady Katinka, and it is nice to see you all again, Prince and Princess, I must take my leave, all this talk of him ,yet I forgot to I need to feed him." She joked before taking Beorn's arm and leading him away from the group so that they might not get caught up in another conversation. "Which way?" She asked, her hand still linger on his arm in her haste.

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Character Portrait: Tyr Jorvikson Character Portrait: Elska Agir
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Elska managed a small smile as he wiped the corner of her eye. "I know, and she deserves to have your support here." She nodded her head slowly. She even gave a weak laugh as he promised he'd come home and that she'd get sick of him all over again. "I'd never get sick of you Tyr." She said before her cheeks flushed a little. She cleared her throat feeling a bit uncomfortable and stepped back away from him.

"My only hope is that Ingrid will get along with her new husband even if he is sickly." She sighed. She had not had much time to see Ingrid or speak with her. She hadn't seen Lelinus at all since the wedding feast and wondered if he was well. "Does she like him, do you know? Do you think Ingrid can be happy here?" Elska was worried for Ingrid. Ingrid was used to the battlefield and being at the front of a charge. She doubted Brynjar would drop her into his army--though she'd probably join in anyway--and was concerned this new life would be dull and dreary.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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Beorn nodded in agreement with Evangelina's words, acutely conscious of her arm on his as she led him away. He did his best to ignore Lelinus' slight smirk. The man could sometimes be worse than the gossiping older ladies at court. He was just glad that Ingrid did not seem to be the type to play such games.

"Which way?

"Not far. The kitchens are not far from the servant quarters and they are just down the hall from here," he told her as they walked down the hallway. Soon enough, they were surrounded by the smells of baked bread, cooked meat, and other tell-tale smells of breakfast. When he opened the door, what they found was organized chaos.

"No, no, no. The pastries must be fluffed not grabbed like an unlucky whore's bottom," an older woman directed in the midst of a crowd chopping, kneading, stirring, and furrying plates of food around her. She whacked a young man's shoulder with a spoon lightly, "Be grateful you are not in Valmagne. Those stuff-up flowers would not eat anything that did not look pretty..."

She glanced up to see Beorn and Evangelina. She smiled.

"Ah... Brother Beorn. What brings you here..." she glanced at heir arms and raised an eyebrow, "Something for your lady friend?""

"In a matter of speaking. This is Evangelina. She has entered into Prince Brynjar's service recently. I don't suppose you have his breakfast ready?"

"Ah... Shall it be his usual fare or did he request something special?" she asked her looking her up and down curiously, "Call me Matilda. Forgive the state of the kitchens... We must cook for the morning and the coronation feast and the young men and women they gave me are as dumb as rocks. Nothing like we were when I started cooking. We had common sense."

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen Character Portrait: Tyr Jorvikson Character Portrait: Elska Agir
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"Good morning, wife," Leo told her with a slight grin, "I suppose you think we're being overly chivalrous as well."

"I think Miss Evangelina knows the risks of her employment well enough. And I think that you are worrying too much. Again."

"I just hope he will listen to you," Beorn told Evangelina. "He could learn some restraint. Do you still want me to show you where the kitchens are?"

Evangelina's eyes went wide. "Oh, By the Gods, Yes, we must make haste." She said and turned to the others. Ingrid raised an eyebrow at Evangelina's distress, momentarily wondering if she should do anything to help Evangelina. Not that there was much she could do. Ingrid still didn't know where half the rooms in the keep were.

"It is nice meeting you, Lady Katinka, and it is nice to see you all again, Prince and Princess, I must take my leave, all this talk of him ,yet I forgot to I need to feed him." Evangelina turned to Beorn."Which way?" She asked and Beorn led her to the kitchens.

Ingrid watched the two leave. "Good morning to you too, Lady Katinka. I trust you've been well?" Ingrid asked. There was no need to be mean to Katinka. Cattiness had never been Ingrid's preferred means of dealing with people and she wasn't about to hit Katinka about the head with a sword.


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"My only hope is that Ingrid will get along with her new husband even if he is sickly. Does she like him, do you know? Do you think Ingrid can be happy here?"

Tyr stood back. "From what she's told me, Lelinus is treating her well. She doesn't seem especially unhappy, beyond a touch of homesickness. I do think, in time, she could be happy here with Lelinus."

He knew as well Elska that Brynjar was the only major problem at this moment in time. He hadn't exactly hidden his want for Ingrid, even at the wedding. Tyr was grateful that he was staying behind for a time, if only to keep an eye on Brynjar. He didn't doubt that Ingrid could take care of herself, and anyone else who came along, it was Brynjar he didn't trust.

"Will you be attending the funeral? I have no idea what to expect. Their weddings are different to ours, it stands that their funerals would be different as well."

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Character Portrait: Tyr Jorvikson Character Portrait: Elska Agir
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"Good, that brings a little bit of peace to my heart." As long as Lelinus would treat her well, then Elska wouldn't worry nearly as much. For the moment it seemed Brynjar was the only problem here. Both countries seemed to want to bury the hatchet and have peace. If peace was to be obtained, it would be upon Brynjar's shoulders to keep it. Elska doubted that. She had heard stories of him and he seemed just as thirsty for war as his father was for peace.

"Yes, I will. With so much shade cast upon us and our motives now, I think it would be best for our diplomatic relations to show pay our respects to the deceased king and show we will not go running with our tails between our legs at the first sign of trouble." She was a little worried how the actual funeral would go. Elska knew very little of Byrdain customs. "I'm sure it will be very different from what we are used to." She sighed.

"I only hope everything goes smoothly." She thought back to the embarrassing display during Ingrid and Lelinus' wedding feast. Brynjar was about to be king, would he risk tarnishing his reputation and do something foolish?

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Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus
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The following days were a busy time for Brynjar. Between the funeral preparations, the coronation, and the coronation festivities, he was kept quite busy. Evangelina was proving to be a hard worker and a bit of a fire cracker. She was always respectful and held her place whenever there were eyes about, but any time they were alone she wasn't afraid to give him a piece of her mind whenever he went to far with his advances.

There wasn't much time for Brynjar to do much in way of Lelinus and Ingrid, or even Tyr--who he had learned was going to be staying for a while even after the coronation. Brynar was eager to get things moving along. He was starting to feel restless and antsy. For anyone that saw him he played the part of a grieving son well. He had the people on his side, and the whispers through court had the majority on his side as well. There were only a few who expressed their displeasure with how things were moving.

The morning of the funeral was a grim. The clouds had rolled in and were threatening to release a flood upon their heads. The mood was sober among everyone in the castle. Artos had truly been a great king and an even greater man. It didn't matter that he was old and would've likely died soon anyway. It was a horrible tragedy and the rumors of a Fjellborg poisoning the king were still circulating.

Brynjar was awake and out of his bed before Evangelina had come to help him prepare for the day. He had a dark and brooding look upon his face. Today was going to be a very long day for him. There were going to be many faces upon him and he had to keep the act going. He did take a moment to let the sadness wash through him. He could remember a time when he had idolized his father. As a young boy he thought that there wasn't any man stronger or greater than his father.

He moved over to one of the great windows in his room. He stared at the dark and circulating clouds. It was fitting for such a terrible day. He frowned as he thought about Lelinus and Ingrid. His hope in turning the warrior princess upon his frail brother was seeming to back fire on him. He wasn't sure what to do at this point to come between them. They hadn't had much time to get to know one another, and yet it seemed that there was a possibility of love to spring between them. That was a variable he had never considered. They were quite the opposite. Brynjar was gravely disappointed that he was going to have to tweak his plans for them.

It didn't matter. Fjellborg would fall either way. After all, he had the crown prince within his clutches for the time being.

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Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus
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Lelinus frowned slightly as he finished dreassing himself, again choosing to wear a simple black doublet. He was beginning to grow sick of the color back. It was a constant reminder of the reality he attempted to keep at bay with his japes and irreverence to the situation at hand. Yet, he could not escape it. His father, King Artos, was dead and he knew that he would need to battle his own brother in court. It may be that he would have to maneuver himself on to the throne if the situation called for it.

He felt himself smile bitterly at the thought. The irony of the situation did not escape him. He had all the qualities of a villain from the tales: frail, scheming, in bed with the kingdom's historic enemies, and brother to the popular and handsome monarch. He held no illusions about his situation. His brother only meant to do evil and while he held hope that Evangelina might be able to stir him upon a gentler path, it was a faint hope only. Yet, if he failed, history would paint him as the villain: a jealous brother scheming against his own blood for power.

He gazed out his window and thought he could see flash of lightning in the horizon. A storm was coming. How fitting.

"Father," he whispered, "Did you intend for this?"

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus
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There was an thickness in the air, as Evaneglina made her way to the Prince's chambers, she could feel it. There was a storm brewing, figuratively, and literally. The court was unsteady, Princess' people would quietly being blamed for the King's death, poisoned, it seemed. She didn't know what to make of it. The Princess seemed strong, too strong to use poison, and too smart to be caught. If the princess or her people had anything to do with it surely, they would have said so. Coyness did not suit them.

With his meal in her hands, she let herself in, usually he'd been sleeping before she arrived. She learned to get herself up and hour or so early, just in case she got lost, which for a while, that was the case, but thankfully, Brother Beorn had been helping her get her barrings as well as teaching her to read in Common Tongue. He always greeted her with a smile, and saw her off with one, it made the evening a little brighter, offsetting the gloom that the palace had hovering around it.

"Oh, You're Grace, Good, you're awake." She said with a smile, as she set down his tray of sweet meats, fresh juice, berries, and soft toast. She hadn't expected him to be awake, not that he was a late riser, she just made herself an early one. She noted how dark his eyes were this morning, he didn't seem to be in the mood for the games he liked to play. She'd gotten use to that, much more quickly then even she anticipated. He never touched her, but nor did he give her a respectable distance. His eyes were never shy either. Even now, dressed in a black gown made in the style of her people, her midriff bare for him to see, he would have watched her move. So long as he never touched her, she could handle that, but today, was different, today he was in his own mind, and while she appreciated that his mind was elsewhere, she knew where it was. Today was his father's funeral, her friend's funeral.

For her people, it would have been a somewhat joyous occasion, a celebration of the life, not a depression of his death. Her people weren't allowed tears, only smiles, so this was new to her, even her own families death was not this sad, despite how empty she felt after, the celebration of their life was one of happy memories, the sadness came later, after the celebration, and the realization came.

She went straight to his wardrobe and found a dark doublet, extricate embroidery of his family's sigil in dark thread. Her fingers could not help but dust over the work. Turning to him, she watched his face for a moment. "You're Grace." She called and sighed. "For my people, this ceremony, is to celebrate the life of the person who passed, the good times, the smiles, the laughs, I did not your father long, but even I have those memories, smiles and laughs. Try to remember them, sometimes, it is all we have." She said, and that was all she was going to say. She was over trying not to overstep, she wasn't being disrespectful in anyway, she was speaking from the heart, and King Atlos was her friend. lowborn or not, it was still her place, her right to speak highly of a friend.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus
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Evangelina appeared carrying a silver tray full of the breakfast foods that Brynjar preferred. He glanced at them for a brief moment before looking back out into the stormy day. He heard her open up his wardrobe to find the clothing that would be appropriate for the funeral that day. He moved from the window and shirked out of his night clothes leaving him to stand bare chested before her. He had his eyes trained on her as she spoke, but he made no move to play the games that usually took place when they were in private.

"It is difficult to think of happier times when the day is dark and there has been so much death Evangelina." His voice was uncharacteristically soft. His mind wandered a bit as he remembered a day that had been far darker than this.

Brynjar had been so young when he had fallen in love. He was too young to accept those facts in life and they had scarred him in ways that were impossible to be healed with time. He very rarely let his mind wander over what could have been if the Fjellborg's had not raided that outer village on that day. Yet today he couldn't resist traveling down the avoided path. Would she be standing at his side today if she had lived? Would they have children at this time?

The sadness and longing in his eyes suddenly turned sharp as he reprimanded himself for thinking such thoughts. The mood that stirred within him turned foul and there was a bitterness in his expression. "The funeral procession will be gathering within the hour. Be quick." He snapped as she was helping him dress in his funeral formal attire. He hated thinking about the past, and he loathed thinking about things that could have been but would never be.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus
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Evanelina turned to him as he approached her, his chest bare for her to see. She didn't look long, but she did look, noting a few battle scars. Her eyes went to his as he spoke.

"It is difficult to think of happier times when the day is dark and there has been so much death Evangelina." He told her, his voice softer then she was used to. She helped him in to his undershirt, a dark cotton fabric with belled sleeves, as his mind drifted someplace she could not, nor dare not, tread.

Suddenly, after a moment of silence between them, his eyes that were once filled with sadness, darkened into bitterness.
The funeral procession will be gathering within the hour. Be quick." He snapped and Evangelina looked unimpressed. She helped him into his doublet, but she stopped just before she pulled it over his shoulders. "Don't do that." She told him, her tone firm. "Turn grief into anger then turn it unto me," She said, tugging his doublet over his shoulders, more roughly then what was needed. "Let grief be what it is, otherwise it will never go away." She said, her fingers quickly buttoning his doublet closed. She'd do as he asked, but she wouldn't let him treat her just any old way. He should know this by now.


She turned to the wardrobe again, and found him some dark breeches, and his boots. She pulled the strings on the sides, so that he may get in to more easily. She handed them to him, -with a touch of an attitude- before walking toward the try of food and setting it on the small table out in proper fashion. She poured him a flagon of juice, though surely he would prefer something stronger. She'd seen him drunk once and that was enough for her.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen
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Preparing a body for for burial or cremation was not a glamorous task. There weren't many who volunteered for the task even in the case of important or beloved men and women. Few wanted to come face to face with the empty husks left behind at death. Fewer wanted to take on the task of cleaning said husk. Beorn could never imagine Patriarch Julius stooping to the task for example. Thus, no one questioned him when he volunteered for the task of preparing the body.

The monk frowned as he finished filling a flask of the late king's blood. He held it up to the flickering flame of the torches that lit the chamber the body had been kept within the cathedral. It was almost black. Poison then. He was certain of it. Yet, the color alone was not proof. He would have to find a way to extract it and have the extracted poison verified by a member of the Order or the Guild of Herbalists in town. Artemesia-willing, this would be the start of the path to the king's murderer.

Storing the flask within his a pouch within his robe, he returned to the task of cleaning the body. He only had a few hours to ready it.

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Today was to to be a day of utmost importance. It marked the official end to the reign of King Artos the Great and the start of King Brynjar. The last few days had proven to be busy. Making preparations alongside the future king had given him the chance to measure his character. Brynjar behaved about how he expected him to. He was as vain as ever and took on the mantle of authority admirably enough. In fact, he had a slight suspicion that Brynjar had been looking forward to being king for quite a while.

It was only natural, the Patriarch reasoned. Besides, the crown prince had clearly been grieving. He would need people like Julius in the days to come. With those thoughts in mind, he knocked upon the king's door of the king's chamber. At this hour, he would almost certainly be having breakfast. He frowned slightly at the thought. He disliked the king's handmaiden. She looked at him the way those at court had looked at him for all his life for daring to rise above his station. She of all people should have understood his motives, but she spat on his offer of friendship. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael
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Brynjar gave her a sharp look as she told him to not turn his grief into anger. What else was he supposed to do? Brynjar had known nothing else. His grief was the fuel to his thirst for revenge. He watched her move over to the table. He could sense her displeasure with him. He was about to say something cutting to her, perhaps an insult of sorts, but as he opened his mouth there was a knock upon his door.

He finished assembling his attire before he nodded to Evangelina. "Get the door." His voice was cold and harsh. The wall that Evangelina had slowly been working on the past couple of days was suddenly reinforced. It seemed their relationship had taken five steps forward only to take ten steps backwards.

Brynjar wasn't at all surprised to see Patriarch Julius standing in his doorway once Evangelina opened the door. Brynjar and the holy man had spent a great deal of time together over the past couple of days. There had been so much to arrange and put together. "What did you need Patriarch?" he asked in a more level tone than he had been giving to Evangelina.

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Character Portrait: Evangelina Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael
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Julius said nothing as he stepped through the door, choosing to ignore Evangelina as he stepped into the room and bowed his head. His mournful expression was not altogether artificial. He had loved the old king. He owed everything he had to his favor. However, Julius was too much of a pragmatist to be caught up in mourning for more than a few days. Artos the Great was with the One True God now and those still on earth had to make do.

"Preparations have been made to lay your late father to rest this day and enthrone you this night, Your Highness. I have merely come to offer my congratulations and to inquire about your agenda when you take the throne so that I might prepare the Privy Council to meet your needs," the Patriarch said humbly before adding, "Which, I admit, is difficult at the moment as we are without a Chancellor. Your brother, as Master of Coin, has refused to allow me access to the Realm's overall budget, citing a lack of authority on my part as temporary regent during the ceremonies."

He paused, allowing his words to play on the young prince's paranoia about his brother, "Duke Aethwulf is a favorite among the lesser nobility in both the north and the rest of Byrdain. He is honorable, I'll give him that. And Prince Lelinus would undoubtedly respect him. Still, I have my doubts."