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Richard of Iron Peak

“Like my father always said, Hawks should be hooded and tethered, to be used at our leisure.”

0 · 203 views · located in Kingdom of Anglia

a character in “Until There's No Blood Left to Spill”, as played by Irish Wolf

Description

Richard is a man of hearty northern stock, standing above the six foot mark, with broad shoulders. He has a heavy frame of muscle and a little extra padding around his stomach, from slight overindulgence in feasting. Scars cover his left arm and a trio of deep lines are etched into his right shoulder, running down to to just above his left hip. Golden hair covered his head, cut a little longer then the current fashion and continues down his face, in a shortly clipped beard. Light blue eyes, the color of a bright, clear sky seen from a mountaintop, dominate his broad face and draw attention from a slightly large nose.

He dresses in a seemingly somber manner; black tunic, braies and chausses. However, the fabric is of the finest wool and linen. His tunic(s) are rather special as well, upon the left breast is stitched an eagle with gold thread. Both shoulders and down the left arm, the wool as a thick, black leather covering.

Personality

Richard is a boisterous young man in his early twenties, with a great sense of loyalty to his family and friends. He enjoyings telling stories of his own exploits or those of his friends that he was part of and listening to others do the same at the feasting table. A warrior of some note, he is the night terror of bandits in the mountains and foothills, who fear his war hammer and spear. He also takes great joy in hunting, either in the forming of falconry or hunting of bear and boar with a spear.

Equipment

Arnaude: a female Golden Eagle, Richard raise and trained for hunting. She accompanies him everywhere, normally riding on the leather reinforcements of his tunic. Her wings span just over nine feet and she weighs a little more than fifteen pounds. The bird has an amazing loyalty to Richard, always returning to him, no matter how far she flies away and even allowing him to take her chicks, when they were just old enough to begin training as hunting birds. Woo to any who tries to touch her though, other then Richard and anyone he convinces her to be allowed the right.

History

Richard is the only son of Marc of Iron Peak, a close cousin of Cameron and Lyle Dorian. His family and their vassals lords over some of the most productive iron mines in all of the House Dorian’s holdings and have some of the finest weapon and armor smiths in the nation. While their hands might not overflow with riches from their mines, the gold flows in to them, in exchange for the products of war.

Richard nearly died as a boy. It happened when he was almost twelve years old and a few months before he was to travel to Gray Keep, the fortress protecting the mountain pass to Iron Peak, the home of Lord Halmer, one of his father’s vassals, to begin his knight’s training. He was out and about with several friends, when they spotting a female Golden Eagle leaving her eyrie. He was dared to scale the cliff and steal a chick. so he did. The climb up wasn’t bad and neither was grabbing the largest of the two chicks, covered in soft, white downy feathers. Going down wasn’t too hard, until the female eagle returned. She struck at the several times, trying to tear him from the cliff face and managed to raked his back with her talons. He was able to make it to the bottom and rejoin his friends but they had to tie him to the saddle (while under eagle attack) and he nearly bled to death on the dash back to Iron Peak.

He survived however and after being patched up, was sent to Gray Keep. Lord Halmer was a good teacher in many ways, although strict. Along with his knight’s training, he was also taught the fine art of falconry, seeing as he went through so much trouble to get himself an eagle. He also thought it would be good for Richard, to trying training his birds without gloves, leading to many cuts and scratches over his left arm and hand. He was of the belief that squires and pages should train with lead weighted arms and armor, which lead to the bulking up of an otherwise scrawny youth.

Also with Lord Halmer, Richard learn hunting. Not the kind where lordlings ride about and shoot at deer but of the sort that make men. The two of them would take a small pack of hounds and spears before tramping out into the deep forests of the mountains. There, they would corner boar and hold their ground was the large, tucked pigs make a final charge or storm the caves of mighty bears. When hunting with his eagle, he used her at first take the normal small prey but as she grew to full size, began having her target larger animals, like mountain goats, Ibex, Roe deer and wolves.

Upon being knighted, he took command of his father’s roaming patrols, used to hunt down bandits in the mountains, who were often well equipped.

So begins...

Richard of Iron Peak's Story

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Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak
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Even in the early morning sun, this land was warm, so warm in fact that the trio of knights from the northern Candace Mountains, a land of ice and iron, had shed their cloaks and just about anything they could and still appear propper. Each was mounted on a large and study looking pony, whom looked as uncomfortable as they could be. Each was less then a hand shorter then the riding horses used here in these, flatter, southern lands, but shorter of leg and broader in body. The animals, with their thicker coats and surefootedness, were much more useful then often narrow mountain passes, then the more common rouncey or knight’s courser. Of course, northern knights, from those towering mountains, often rode to battle and dismounted to fight on foot.

The young men, none of whom had been knighted for more than couple of years, rode in the shade of the great leafy trees, which stood guard over the road through the forest. Sir John of Mist Vale and Sir Alteric of Deeping Run flanked Sir Richard of Iron Peak, their mounts walking just behind his, has they traveled ahead of the main party of House Dorian. They were looking for the Lady Amara, or to be precise, only Richard was, on orders from his cousin. The other two were members of his band of cronies, of whom he had allowed two to follow after him, rather then the whole lot, a good dozen young men.

He had never had much contact with his second cousin, the lady he had been sent to find. A few meetings, when he accompanied his father to Branenhold. Nothing overly long and not in a few years. Unlike cousin Lyle, his father had never blamed her mother, all that the much, for the death of Cameron and never blamed the child of their union. Of course that opinion might have caused his family to visit less then they had in years passed. While he did not believe that a young woman, of any breeding, good or common, should be out alone in a wood were beast, bandit or worst still, a Falyn might lurk, he disliked being used as a spy.

So Richard had already decided he would obey the very letter of his overlord. He would find the Lady Amara and do nothing more then accompany her until they all returned to main party. He wouldn’t report anything he saw to his lord, although he doubted there would be anything to report in any case and he wouldn’t try dragging the poor girl back to camp or even try to slow her down, until it became late in the afternoon. The other two, knew nothing of the Lord Dorian’s wish for a bit of spying and no doubt would follow their chosen captain, even if they did.

As they neared a clearing, one of their small party noticed there was someone ahead but wouldn’t cry out. Arnaude, the Golden Eagle, spotting the woman, although the proud bird didn’t know she was the day’s prey but would have let out a warning, had she not also spotting the deer. Trained as a hunter of often skittish quarry, which her cry of alarm might frighten away, she instead alerted her human partner by spreading nine foot wings, as she rode upon his shoulder, nearly smacking his two comrades.

“A pity” said Richard, as he reined his pony to a stop, as it trotted up besides Amara, “These deer are in the royal forest. I would so like to try my eagle upon them.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Prince Davinweir the Stag Prince Character Portrait: Prince Jonquael Drudwit the Black Stallion Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn Character Portrait: Queen Tarwenna
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“Indeed, though I fear they would hardly make for much sport cousin. One would find more of a challenge in leading sheep to the butcher. ” Amara replied to Richard’s comment as he and Sirs John and Alteric road up beside her on their ponies, and indeed, the deer still had not fled, though they did send them curious looks as they paused in their grazing. She had expected someone would be sent to fetch her, though she had hoped it might be someone a bit slower in their skill of tracking. Sadly, as it was, it seemed her morning ride was at an end, and there really was no point delaying the inevitable and letting her uncle stew any longer, he was bound to be a trial to deal with as it was without testing his patience further.

Amara was about to turn her horse around and resign herself to her fate when suddenly another figure appeared in the meadow. He was too far away to make out his features, though she did notice his strange looking helm that was adorned with very regal looking antlers, as well as the unmistakable crest of the crown on his tunic. Was this then the infamous stag prince himself then, come to watch over his deer personally? A rather amusing image of a prince guarding and herding his prized deer around a field brought a smile to her lips as she sent a slightly mischievous look toward Richard. Perhaps her morning ride was not over just yet then, and the thought filled her with a rarely genuine sense of playfulness.

“It would appear we have company cousin, it would be rude to leave without introduction.” Amara said quickly before gently nudging the sides of her horse, and taking off across the meadow toward, presumably, the stag Prince. This time, she noted with some satisfaction, the deer did scatter, though only to the edge, and they were quick to slowly move back in once she’d passed. “Good ‘morrow my Lord, what remarkably complacent deer you have here!” Amara greeted with a smile once she was a comfortable four feet away.

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“It is not yet noon, must there already be squabbling amongst us?” Prince Jonquael asked tiredly as he entered the great hall, impeccably groomed as always as he’d been summoned. He was growing weary of these displays, as they were both unseemly and wholly unnecessary in his opinion. He’d long ago learned to accept his mother’s coldness, it was simply part of who she was to him, but her especially vile behavior toward Davin was something that had always confused and bothered him. With father ill, much of the preparation for this year’s midsummer’s festivities and matters of state had fallen to him, as well as the role of tempering his mother’s behavior toward Davin. It had also left him with a shorter patience than usual, so he feared he was a poor substitute for the king regarding that particular matter.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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“True enough” said Richard, letting his reins slacken and his pony to lower it’s head down to graze at the grass, “But I wouldn’t go looking for sport the first time. The deer here are much larger than those at home. I just wonder if Arnaude could take one. After I found that out, then I’d go....”

The young knight drifted off, as his spotted the figure riding from the forest. He was on his guard in a moment, as the man (or at least he was sure it was man) was dressed for battle, in the fashion of very poor knights or common soldier. Gamebeson covered his torso and arms and there was a helm upon his head, although mounted with a magnificent set of antlers, make it impressive but impractical. He couldn’t tell, although he was sure the figure had a blade. He squinted a little, trying to make out the crest on gamebeson but he wouldn’t put it passed some bandit chieftain to go wearing his own mark.

“Wait” he said, as the Lady Amara rode forwards to introduce herself, “Wait just a....Cousin! Wait!....Damn it!”

“Aghh” growled Richard, turning to look back at his two smiling friends, “Come on, lets go!”

The trio of knights, touched their heels to the flanks of their ponies. Richard’s mount looked up at him in annoyance, the poor thing had barely a mouthful of the sweetest tasting grass it had ever come across and it’s rider wanted it to go on? The small horse almost disobeyed but picked up it’s head and trotted forwards, when the ponies of the other two knights started passed it. Too hot and hungry, the beast still had it’s pride, it lead the herd, not those two. All of them passed through the opening in the deer, which had been caused by Amara’s bold advance, hands resting lightly on the hilts of weapons.

Like Sir John and Sir Alteric, Richard had a arming sword at his left hip, with a dagger on his right. Unlike his cronies, he also had had a warhammer hanging off his saddle. The only thing he was worried about, was their lack of armor. If this person had archers hidden in the trees, they would get cut down, tunics were no match for even crude weapons. They might be in trouble even if this bandit....if they were a bandit didn’t have archers, just more men in armor. The thought that bandits this far south wouldn’t be wearing much armor didn’t even cross his mind. He was just so used to outlaws having almost as much access to armorers and steel as he was.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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To Sedwiff’s surprise, it was not the men who came first to him--but the lady. And not just any lady, but a real beauty and as he could gather, a noblewoman. She rode with such grace on her white mare, the deer peacefully parting for her, that it seemed like a dream.

When the lady came to a stop and spoke to him, Sed paused a moment just to take in the sight of this creature with midnight hair and amethyst eyes. His helm sported a nosepiece and stopped at his cheekbones. What could be seen was his mouth and chin, on which a smile slowly grew.

“My Lady is not unlike the deer,” he replied, leaning closer in her direction and speaking in a low, confidential voice. “Both would approach anyone, and both are of exquisite form... and it is plain to see that both are well-guarded.” His eyes, which were shadowed by the slim openings in the helm, looked pointedly at the lady’s entourage as they followed behind her. And here, his smile turned to a frown. If only I could encounter this lady alone, he thought, a little wistfully...

At the same time he could feel Dafferdil grow restless beneath him. He was nickering and sticking his head out and pulling back his teeth, catching whiffs of the gorgeous white mare. Mild-mannered Daffer was not naturally of such high libido, but there seemed to be something especially enticing about this mare. Sed gave him a good rub on the neck, spoke calming words in his ear, and the stallion behaved himself.

When the lady’s guardians arrived, there was the sound of rustling in the leaves. Sed clenched his teeth as his own party of knights showed themselves and sprung from the trees. Their entrance felt a little sudden, and Sed feared that someone on either side would attack. Glancing at them, he saw Sir Drumdere sending him a strange look. It was frantic, warning, trying to alert him to something... There was a tense moment, and then Drumdere opened his mouth.

“You stand before the Stag Prince’s champion, the Mighty Antlered Knight,” Drumdere announced to the large men on ponies and the fine lady. “Sir Horngriff!”

Sed dared not utter his surprise, but internally his head was spinning. The Stag Prince did not have a champion, and there was no such Sir Horngriff. Drumdere was forcing upon him an alias, and at once he had an idea about the strange warning look. He eyed the foreign folk on their ponies. Northern ponies, by the looks of them, and Northern folk as well?... Could they be Dorians? And the Lady...?

He pushed his thought away and cleared his throat. “My Lady... Gentlemen,” he greeted the lot. “We mean peace, if you mean not to hunt my Majesty’s deer.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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Though half his face was covered, it was apparent to Amara that this knight was quite handsome in an appealingly rugged way. His jaw was chiseled, and covered with dark stubble that offset his full, pink, manly lips, though his eyes were unquestionably the star of his face. A piercing grey that held an intensity that she strangely did not find unnerving shone with a conspiratorial amusement she was quick to respond to. There was a glint of something else there as well, a kind of restrained hunger that she was no stranger to. After all, her uncle had been parading her about feasts in the north like the tantalizing piece of political meat she was since she was fourteen, barely flowered and little more than a girl. Those looks had scared her then, but she was no longer that frightened child, and this man was not a foolhardy, balding, northern lord as interested in her claim to Branenhold as her budding breasts.

“I fear you are more right than you know Sir.” Amara said softly with a chuckle before her cousin and his men approached. Despite her laughter, her eyes held a more somber note to them, though she did not elaborate further. Men might like to look upon a bird, but that did not mean they wished to see the cage, and she had no desire to trouble him with hers.

“Sir Horngriff?” Amara remarked with a raised brow and poorly concealed smile. “How aptly named for the defender of the deer.” Amara was quite positive that was not this man’s name, though from the rumors she’d heard of the Stag Prince, she would not put it past the man to concoct such a name and title. She was also somewhat relieved to know that he was indeed not the Stag Prince himself, as the image she had conjured from stories she’d heard were nothing like this Sir Horngriff.

“Fear not Sirs, the mighty antlered knight need not fight this day. We are keepers of the King’s peace, and are bound for his majesty’s halls as we speak. I am Lady Amara, and these brave men my cousin Sir Richard and the honorable Sirs John and Alteric, defenders of the North. We are pleased of course to meet such dedicated men in the King’s service.” Amara introduced flawlessly with a gracious smile, and though she complimented all the men in her current company, her eyes stayed with Sir Horngriff.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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Richard watch with wary eyes, as they approached the figure and his cousin. He could feel other eyes upon him, from the trees where the horned man had ridden from. It felt like they were entering into the killing grounds of an ambush and those eyes were those of archers, sighting down the shafts of wickedly barbed arrows. Still, there was not twang of bowstring, as they reined in behind their Lady but there was a rustle in the trees and suddenly four more men appeared, each armed and armored.

One of the men, older looking, seemed very concerned about something, given the look he gave to the horned man, before announcing that the fellow with antlers on his helm, was the champion of the Stage Prince, Sir Horngriff. The northern knight frowned slightly, something was wrong and the words sounded a lie. There was something else that bothered him, the way this Sir Horngriff had to clear his throat, before talking, like he had been taken surprise by the announcement. Surely one wouldn’t be confused over their own name? His hand twitched a bit, reaching down to touch the steel head of his warhammer, as they were introduced.

It wouldn’t be hard, this close to the capital, to steal something marked with the royal crest. Maybe these men were yet bandits, pretending to be royal wardens, in order to fool any passersbys. As if in tune with her master, Arnaude began to shift on Richard’s shoulder, her talons making light scratches in the dark leather, as she clicked her hooked beak, plainly upset over something. Golden brown feather fluffed up slightly, as the raptor hissed softly, opening her wings a little.

“The Eagle of the North” cried Sir Alteric, before the Lady could name himself or Sir John, wanting these southern knights to know the title of their captain. He was the flashiest of the three, having spent a great deal of his money on three expensive tunics, dyed a rich purple, with his house’s crest stitched in silver. John, dressed in a yellow tunic, trimmed with black, didn’t say anything but seemed to puff up, watching the men, as if the title should impress them.

“Well met Sir Horngiff” said Richard, pulling out his warhammer and holding it out to be seen, his hand wrapped around the haft but placed just under the head, so not to be a threat, “As you can see, we arm poorly armed for hunting deer. Although, with such docile does and stags, it might be possible to ride one down and knock it over the head.”

The pair of knights behind him laughed softly, as he switched the hammer in his hands and reached up to gently stroke the breast of his eagle. The raptor calmed herself a little, still staring at this “Sir Horngiff” with proud eyes, even as she preened her human’s hair a little. The talons however, continued to grip and relax on his shoulder.

“You must be a knight of some renown” said Richard, “To be chosen as Prince’s Champion and an important man at court. Strange how Lord Dorian never mentioned you, when he drilled us all, very night, about those folk we should know of in the royal palace. Strange how he never mentioned the Stag Prince having a champion. So strange in fact, that I might be so bold, as to suggest your lying to us, knave.”

The eagle launched herself from his shoulder, wings over nine feet unfurling and pumping, as she climbed just above the trees, circling above the meadow and letting out a piercing hunting call. The knight tossed the hammer back to his right hand, catching the weapon around the bottom of the haft. His two companions glanced at him, looks confusion turning sharp, as they searched memories for a mention of Sir Hongiff and drew their blades.

“Your names” demanded Richard, “And remove the helm, before I make it a permanent part of your skull!”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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Sir Drumdere, who was naturally a heavy-sweater, now had perspiration dripping down his face and soaking into his salt and pepper mustache. He had recognized the proud Dorian crest on Sir Alteric, and had thought of the first thing to protect his young Falyn comrade. Unfortunately, the Northern visitors had not been fooled.

Drumdere’s squire piped up bravely. “Just because you haven’t heard of them, doesn’t mean the Prince hasn’t chosen a champion. After all, how fast does news travel to those snowy mountains of yours--?”

But Sedwiff held up a hand to hush the squire. He did not like being laughed at by the Dorian knights, to be called a knave and liar-- in fact, it made his blood boil and it made him want to cut them all down like he had joked earlier. And yet, he feared that the humiliation would only escalate if he kept up this charade. He wanted them to know who he was, more than anything. For once--and this caught him by a great surprise--he was proud to be Sir Sedwiff Falyn, someone they had surely heard of.

“My comrades only wish to protect me. It is true, I am not Sir Horngriff,” he spoke as the eagle circled overhead. He delayed taking off his helm, simply because it irked him to respond immediately to the threat. “But I am the Prince’s right-hand man, and you were certainly drilled about me.”

And then he removed the helm and revealed his face. He had the tanned complexion of the sea-faring South, and the dark hair and glinting silver-grey eyes of his father. He looked with defiance at the Dorian knights. But when his eyes turned to the Lady Amara--and her name, when it was spoken, had struck him like a blow--he showed his remorse. When he looked at her, he wished to be anyone but a Falyn.

“I am Sedwiff Falyn, a knight of the crown. And these are my fellow knights, Sir Drumdere and Sir Modris, and their squires Lingrel and Carden, respectively.” The knights averted their eyes, looking dispirited. Sedwiff felt the same hang-dog look plaguing his own face, but he thought of one possible silver lining to this whole mess.

"You have caught me in a lie, and I am shamed for it. I am especially guilty that the fair Lady Amara has been lied to. To make amends, I ask that the Lady dole me a punishment. I would do anything she subjects me to, if only I can gain her forgiveness."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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Amara was somewhat aghast, though not exactly surprised by her cousin’s suspicious and aggressive behavior. Richard was quite famous in the North for his valiant and never ending fight against the mountain bandits that plagued the roads and passes in their lands. Perhaps it made him a bit paranoid on the subject, though no one could ever accuse him of being caught unawares. She was about to protest gently, when Sir Horngriff responded proudly, and Amara took a sharp breath. He was even more handsome with the helm removed, and she could almost ignore the words pouring from his lips if not for one word; Falyn. It was like a bucket of ice water to her initial cheerfulness, as well as a sharp reminder of her own position as she rolled the name over in her mind. Sedwiff was the older brother she remembered, the one that had been taken from his home and made a ward to the crown. Perhaps the feeling of being a prisoner was something he could relate to then.

“Hum. Well the name Falyn certainly suits you better than Horngriff.” Amara responded after a tense moment of silence. Her earlier amusement was gone, though there was no outright hostility in her voice either, which surprised her. Marcus Falyn, despite having never seen him, had been somewhat of a boogie man for her as a child, she’d even had dreams where he’d chased her about Branenhold with a bloody sword. There was also of course the resentment she felt towards the man for the murder of her father, though she could hardly blame Sedwiff for that, he’d only been a child at the time. In a way, she felt he perhaps had suffered as much from the war as she had, as he was ripped from his family only to be placed with strangers. Besides, her uncle might be blinded by his hated, but Amara (despite her weariness of the Falyns) recognized such hostilities between them did nothing but weaken them both. The war alone had proven that enough, and it was a sentiment her mother had informed Amara that her father expressed often. This year was also pivotal. For the first time in nearly fifteen years both families were summoned to Midsummer at the same time, and if they were ever to establish an at least tolerant relationship between to two families, it would need to be now.

“I fear I have no such talent for creative punishment, and in my lord’s defense, you yourself never uttered the deceit.” Amara began, shooting a warning look to Richard, message clear. If there was to be blood shed between the two families once more, a Dorian blade was not to cause it. “If my lord if intent on repentance however, I may have one request. My uncle seems quite anxious to be rid of me, and has of course gathered many suitors of varying ages that I have never met to plague me. It would ease my mind greatly to know there is someone close by I can rely upon for at least good conversation.” Amara continued with a pointed look at Sedwiff and a hint of her early humor she had shared with him. “There is a rift between our families that is large and not without cause, but as representatives of our families, and keepers of the king’s peace, it of course would only be logical we take the necessary steps to correct this; for the betterment of our families of course.” There were a multitude of reasons for her request, partly for those she’d mentioned, partly because she genuinely liked the man, and partly because the small mutinous part of her that hated her uncle more than a little loved the thought of his face turning purple when he saw, despite the inevitable consequences it would bring. She was going to be sold like a cow at auction to the highest bidder soon anyway, so she might as well take her small pleasures where she could while it was still possible.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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Falyn, Sedwiff Falyn, son of the river scum, who yet lived, despite the most foul murder of Lord Cameron Dorian. Gods have mercy upon them, this was worse then bandits, it was some sinking river rat, wearing finery that should have been worn by a worthier man. Oh yes, they had been told about this swine, how he had been taken from the venomous brood that was his family and raised among the royal household, like a viper in the cradle with babes. How many otherwise good knights had he corrupted, how many courtiers had he swayed, how much poison had his forked tongue dripped into the prince’s mind? And the man rides with liars, how very fitting, considering his breeding.

The thoughts suddenly derailed, as did the blank and unfriendly stare Richard was giving the river rat, as his cousin spoke up. She seemed to defend the son of the man who slew her father and then proceeded to ask him to talk with her, at her leisure! For the first time in his life, he turned his attention away from a possible foe and looked with confusion at her. Several blinks later and a slight shake of the head, he laughed softly.

“As if” said the Eagle of the North, “You’re ever going to allow to see this kna....knight again dear cousin. Now, we’re leaving, this place is befouled.”

Throwing one last look at Sedwiff, Richard slipped his warhammer back into the leather loop in his saddle and took the reins of Amara’s mare with his off hand. Nodding his head at his fellows, who sheathed their weapons, with a great deal of reluctance, he nudged the flank of his pony. The beast, which had once again been trying to eat the glass, lifted his head unhappy and turned away, heading back towards the road. Sir John and Sir Alteric waited several seconds, acting as a rearguard, before turning their mounts and riding off across the meadow after their captain.

As the pair of second cousins reached the middle of the open, grassy space, Arnaude chose to return to her human. The large and imperial bird fold her broad wings and drove down, coming in low over the once horned human, who had so described her wingless male. Wings opened, so that she could glide and her talons dropped, ruffling the dark hair of the tanned man, the blunt downward curve of the wicked claws touching his scalp, as she sped towards her human. Pumping her wings gracefully, she reached out and latched gently onto his left shoulder. Settling comfortable, she peered back at the knights behind them and let out a mocking call.

“I don’t know what games you're playing Cousin” said Richard, as his eagle landed on his shoulder, “And I hope that was a joke. Wanting to talk with that son of a murdering river rat? Please, its not funny.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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Sedwiff was rather amazed by the Lady Amara’s words. Asking her to give him a penance had most realistically been a bad idea, and he regretted the words once they came. He half expected that she might order him to cut off his own head--which of course, he would not do, because he had a strong interest in self-preservation. At least, she would probably ask him to bow before her or kiss her shoe or do some chore for her horse. What he wanted was to test her response, to hear some further words from his lady enemy while he still had the chance.

Once she spoke, he was speechless. His lady enemy wished to converse with him? To mend the rift between their families? And she spoke openly of such things, in front of her entourage? It did not take much keen observation to know that the Dorian knights were not the forgiving sort. And the lady was taking a great gamble, to think that he, a Falyn, would be open to spending further time with her. She did not even know him. But because of her brave and revolutionary response, Sedwiff was full of awe and more than a little admiration.

And then her guardian Sir Richard grumbled his wish to leave, and Sedwiff’s wits returned to him. “The Lady asks for much,” he said, as if she indeed had asked him to cut off his own head and forfeit all the wealth of his family. “It may not be possible, but... I will do my best to arrange it.” His face was grave, but while Sir Richard busied himself with his pony, he flashed Lady Amara a grin, continuing their flirtatious rapport.

Sedwiff and his companions stood and watched as the Dorians departed. Sed felt a rush of air above his head and heard the gasp of one of the squires and the warning whinny of his horse. He tried to duck, but the bird was too swift and he felt something swap his head. He clenched his teeth and drew an angry breath through his nose as the irksome eagle squawked at him. At that moment Sedwiff loathed the bird more than he did the Dorian knights.

His fellow knights went a little crazy. “That hell hawk... My Lord, your head!! The Dorians, they drew blood!!! That northman, he must had ordered it! Sed, you’ve been attacked...!?”

Sed put his hand to his head and found no blood. “Will you hush?” he turned gruffly to his fellows. “The bird just tapped me, that’s all. There’s no blood. Pipe down.”

The entire way to the palace, the royal knights went on about the incident.

“I would never believe it,” the squire Lingrel jeered. “Sir Sed, did you see that Dorian lady making eyes at you? Good gods, I bet she’d like to do a little more than converse with you, sir!”

“Well now, that lady was something. If I were you, sir, I wouldn’t care that she was a Dorian,” the other squire Carden added. “I wish she wanted to converse a little with me. Might you put in a good word for me, Sir Horngriff?”

The squires laughed up a storm, while their knights told them to mind themselves while speaking to Sir Sedwiff, although they too wore amused looks in their eyes. They all would tease Sedwiff any chance they got, because his love life was a great mystery to them. It irked them that even though they had been with him for months, they still did not know which ladies he had bedded. He never spoke a word of it. And even when they teased him about the recent run-in with the Dorians, he said little, only that he hated Sir Richard’s eagle.

The royal knights entered the great hall in merry spirits, though Sir Sedwiff was a closed book as he strode holding the antlered helm in hand. He was distracted as the royal family came into view. Indeed, he was thinking of Lady Amara Dorian, and just what he would converse with her about if they ever got the chance.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn
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Richard’s response was somewhat disappointing, though the confrontation had ended better than she’d feared. Amara seemed to deflate a little with resignation once Richard took the reins, her ride was over and it was time to return to the reality of her life. She did manage to return Sedwiff’s grin with a smile, though it was small and was but a shadow of her earlier carefree cheer. She remained silent as they road back to the Dorian camp until Richard spoke his disapproval.

“Don’t be ridiculous Richard, pawns are used in games, they do not play them.” Amara responded almost tiredly. She hadn’t expected he’d like her peace offering, but she’d hoped he would have at least understood the necessity for it.

“This year is a test cousin, concocted by the crown to test our loyalties. They want to see us get along, or at least not try and kill each other. If blood is spilt this year, there will be war, and the crown will be forced to side against the first instigators. We of the North are mighty, it’s true, but if we wage war with the whole of the south, it will be our people who suffer and starve. Ishtal has shown us support in the past, but they have grown more reliant on trade with the south. We cannot rely on such allies again. Please remember that.” Her response was neither scolding nor apologetic, simply informative. She had been drilled and updated on the condition of their enemies and allies alike for years, and though her uncle hardly supported a peace between the two families, he had made her very aware of the precarious line they walked, and that was without remarking upon those in the North vying for Branenhold as well. Ishtal had long been friends and allies to the Dorians of the North, supporting them with a steady trade of grain and naval power in times of war, but with their droughts, food was scarcer, and they were forced to import grain from the south to sustain themselves. Food had long been an issue for the North when fighting the south, they simply couldn’t sustain themselves without foreign allies.

The camp was still busy when they arrived, many of the traveling Lords having only just risen, so servants still milled about making breakfasts and packing. They approached Amara’s tent when her maid servant Mary came out, looking flustered.

“M’lady, you should come inside quickly.” Mary said eyes shifting as if she were watching for someone. Amara dismounted quickly, handing the reins off to one of the stable hands before approaching her maid and friend. “What is it Mary?” Amara asked as she allowed Mary to pull her into the tent.

“It’s yer Uncle, he’s in one of those moods m’lady! We need have you packed, dressed, and moving on a horse around the other Lords quickly!” Mary informed, as she rushed to help her lady change. Amara was made presentable again in a purple dress with the Dorian crest and colors worked in, and was about to make for her horse when her uncle entered quite noisily. Lyle Dorian was not a traditionally intimidating man, with thinning red hair, middling height, and round blue eye that had always made him look more boyish than anything else, but there had always been an off presence about her uncle that had never ceased to put her edge. At times, her uncle’s behavior bordered on madness, and the look in his eyes told her this would not be a pleasant run in.

“Out!” Lyle bit out towards Mary, eyes never leaving his niece. The rattled maid servant hesitated only a moment before fleeing after Lyle threw his wine goblet near her head and soaking her dress. Amara defaulted to her best defense and stared her uncle in the eye. Some days, when he was like this, he would break down and cry after striking her, calling her Cameron and begging her to forgive him. It was her eyes she guessed, as more than one person had remarked upon the striking similarity. Luck it seemed however, was not with her this day.

“You ungrateful, whoring, wretch!” Lyle growled in between three quick strides before slapping her across the face. The blow spilt her lip, and she could feel her cheek begin to swell, but she knew better than to cry out. “How dare you leave this camp without my leave! You do not have that right, you have nothing, are nothing, unless I say so! Has the southern air made you lose your wits?!” He snarled in her face as he grabbed hold of her writs in a cruel grip that was sure to leave bruises and shook her.

“Un-uncle stop!” Amara bit out. “You’re hurting me.” He didn’t stop. “You’re going to leave marks!” He suddenly dropped his hands like he’d been burned, and Amara was shoved to the ground from the jarring. “Now look what you’ve made me do! You planned this didn't you! Scheming little doxy, you wanted to hurt my image among the other lords! Well I won’t have it Amara, I simply won’t have it!” Lyle accused, though he made no further move to touch her. “Get yourself presentable and ready to leave. We move out for the Capitol at the end of the hour.” And with that Lyle left, still looking agitated and probably drunk if his breath had been anything to go by. Amara gripped the folds of her dress in despirate fists while she tried to suppress hot angry tears and a bitter laugh that rang hollow to her own ears.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Logaric Falyn Character Portrait: Prince Davinweir the Stag Prince Character Portrait: Prince Jonquael Drudwit the Black Stallion Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn Character Portrait: Ellyn de Guilayne Character Portrait: Queen Tarwenna Character Portrait: Lady Melevine of Gardren
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The opening feast at midsummer was a lavish tradition that spanned back at least three hundred years into the Drudwit’s rule, and functioned efficiently as a public display for all the nobles of court to see which families held favor with the Royal family. The Grand Hall had several long tables scattered and set among the massive chamber, and the seating accommodations were based on a complicated social structure based on hierarchy and favor. Some tables were set aside for royal knights, some lower nobles, and some specifically for the knights and nobles loyal to specific families, such as the Dorians and Falyns, whom it would not be wise to seat together. The long tabled that was of most interest to the feast goers however, was the royal long table that ran through the middle of the hall. It was also the longest table in the hall, and with the royal family traditionally sitting at the head, the heads of all the great families or those in favor with the Drudwits were seated at the table according to importance. Though the king was still ill, a place at the head was stilled placed for him beside the Queen, with Jonquel taking the first seat to the right, and Davinweir to the left. Due to the circumstances of this midsummer, it was deemed necessary to have both members from House Falyn and Dorian present in places of honor, so three places were set for the Falyns to the right after Jonquel, and three places for the Dorians to the right of Davinweir. This was a feast that many viewed with either anticipation or dread, in some cases both.

Amara found herself torn on whether or not to be delighted with, or abhor the seating arrangements. Her uncle had sent his apologizes to the queen, claiming sudden illness onset from the long journey south, though in reality Lyle had erupted in another one of his episodes once they had retired to their chambers. Though Amara had come out of the confrontation relatively unscathed, the sheer violence of the outburst and the unhinged look in her uncle’s eyes left her feeling shaken, and more than a little afraid to return to her room later. Regardless of the reason for her uncle’s absence, it left her seated next to perhaps the last person in the world she wished to have close contact with, Prince Davinweir, and she was positively dreading the table talk that would inevitable ensue. On the bright side however, she had Richard sitting to her left, whom she knew could hold his own in a battle of dinner time retorts, and even better, she now had a viable excuse to engage Sedwiff Falyn in conversation, as he was seated almost directly across from her at the table. She was unsure what to make of Lord Marcus Falyn, or his son Logaric. Marcus held a startling resemblance to Sedwiff, though perhaps because she knew who he was, what he had done, and the aura of dominance that seemed to hang around him, the man put her on edge. His youngest son hardly resembled Sedwiff or Marcus at all, and though she could hardly claim to know him, he did seemed to have a bit more pleasant demeanor. Amara would have to wait and see though once they began talking. As was custom, she remained silent and standing in front of her seat until the King, or in this year’s case the Queen, made a short welcome speech, bid them welcome to this year’s Midsummer festivities, and took her own seat.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Logaric Falyn Character Portrait: Prince Davinweir the Stag Prince Character Portrait: Prince Jonquael Drudwit the Black Stallion Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn Character Portrait: Ellyn de Guilayne Character Portrait: Queen Tarwenna Character Portrait: Lady Melevine of Gardren
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“I think you should stay. I do not think that travelling agreed with you. Your cheeks are flushed but you are so frightfully pale.” Armand walked around his seated wife, inspecting her as her hair was pinned up.

“What do you think Meagre?”

Ellyn sat in the chair, her hands in her lap as Meagre worked on her hair. She was dressed in a rich blue gown, the neckline low and very flattering. The colour made her hazel eyes shine. Further accentuating her neck was a lovely necklace of silver with many blue gemstones.

The woman huffed and stuck a pin into Ellyn’s hair forcibly, securing the silver net about the two braids. Armand had given in to Meagre’s suggestion that at least part of Ellyn’s hair be pinned up for dinner, lest the woman eat more hair than food.

“I didn’t waste my time on her to undress her and put her to bed. She should be fine.” Meagre leant over to look at Ellyn’s face. She raised her chin. “Are you feeling ill?”

Ellyn shook her head, as much as her situation would allow, the grip on her chin keeping her reasonably immobile. “I feel fine.”

Armand was pacing, “I do not know....” He scratched at his head.

Meagre patted Ellyn’s chin, “That’s a good girl.” She left her, tending to articles of clothing and such that needed organizing.

Ellyn turned in her chair, just slightly to look at her husband. “If it pleases my lord, I could attend for a time and should I feel faint or tired I will of course excuse myself. I would like to partake in the feast.” Her eyes pleaded just a little.

Armand stopped and moved to take his wife’s hands. “Oh little dove, I will not deny you this. If you feel up to it than I will take you. I will not leave your side though and you must tell me the moment you feel tired.” He drew her hands up to his lips.

“Of course my lord.” Ellyn’s eyes were cast demurely down. Inwardly she sighed. She wanted him to leave her even for just a little while, just so she could enjoy the feast without him over her shoulder.

She would not get tired, she knew. They treated her as such a fragile thing but she was not. The idea of the feast, of the people and conversation made her feel almost drunk with excitement.

Armand raised her hands and Ellyn stood obediently. She took his arm and let him lead her from their rooms to the main feast hall.

It was bustling already. Armand’s shoulders squared as he entered. He held her on his arm as if parading her for all to see. Ellyn made little eye contact as they moved to their seats. She floated gracefully at her husband’s side.

He greeted many, stopping to shake hands or hug various cousins. Ellyn chanced glances at the royal table. The princes sat, two chairs set at the head of the table for their parents. Ellyn found herself looking quickly away from the older Prince. She was still embarrassed for the way she had stared at him when they were received.

“Are you alright?” A voice whispered in her ear.

Ellyn looked at Armand. He brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. “You are flushed again pet.”

“I am still fine my lord, a bit thirsty and a bit warm.”

Armand patted her hand like one would when placating a child, “Of course, let us sit.” He led her to a table to the side of the royal table. Here other Falyan cousins sat. He pulled out a chair for her and Ellyn wanted to hug him for choosing one that allowed her a clear view of the royal table. She could see the back of Jonqueal’s head. Across from him was his brother. Beside the blonde prince sat a beautiful woman of dark hair and fair skin.

“She is lovely.” The thought stayed as Ellyn’s eyes traveled down the table. Next to the beautiful lady sat a very tall, very muscular man. He was unfamiliar to her as well. She could not tell if he was happy to be there or loathing the experience.

At her table the men had begun talking of politics and the tension between the families. The conversation revolved around the meeting of Marcus and his sons. Ellyn folded her hands in her lap and observed more of the main table.

The fanfare sounded. Armand and Ellyn stood, he helping her out of the chair. The Queen entered. Her dress was awe inspiring. Ellyn’s eyes travelled over it taking in the bead work. The speech concluded, the Queen sat and everyone else did so as well.

The food began to arrive and it was every bit as magnificent as Ellyn had hoped. Armand leaned over to his wife, “Not too much rich food dove, we do not want it to make you ill.”

Ellyn looked at her lap, “Yes my lord.”

When he began to dive into the rich meats, Ellyn looked up again and picked daintily at her plate. Her eye was caught by movement at the royal table. A tray between the prince and the beautiful woman appeared to contain rabbits in the act of mating. Ellyn’s hand went to her mouth.

Armand looked over. “Disgraceful. Course it’s the Dorian girl, to be expected.”

Ellyn frowned. Dorian. With her colouring she should have known who the woman was, the tales of her beauty reached even Ellyn’s ears. The display was still disgraceful and disrespectful.

“Avert your eyes pet. There is no need for a woman such as yourself to see such things.”

“Or do such things.” Ellyn bit her tongue to stifle the unbidden thought. It shocked her, that she would think such a thing against her husband. It was true he did not come to her bed any longer but that should be of no issue to her. He took care of her, was kind to her what did it matter if he was not attracted to her? She found herself unsure where the retort had come from but she was glad it remained solely in her head.

Ellyn picked at her food, more enraptured with the royal table than her plate. Armand, in usual behaviour began to stuff and drink himself full. “Fine feast. Fine indeed.” Meat stuck in his beard.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Logaric Falyn Character Portrait: Prince Davinweir the Stag Prince Character Portrait: Prince Jonquael Drudwit the Black Stallion Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn Character Portrait: Queen Tarwenna Character Portrait: Lady Melevine of Gardren
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The queen looked positively stunning, Amara noted with a touch of awe as the unequivocally bedecked Queen Tarweena made her entrance. Amara felt positively drab in comparison, which was silly she knew, as she was in one of her finer gowns of silk, inlaid with a rich purple and soft lilac patterns, and her hair softly curled and pulled up to make her look every bit the noble woman of fine breeding that she was. None the less, it was hard to feel comparable to the queen in all her finery. Prince Davinweir seemed almost gallant as well, going so far as to pull her chair out when the queen allowed them to take their seats. The gesture didn’t stop her from eyeing the seat suspiciously though, looking for some kind of wet paint perhaps that might have been put there as a prank before gracefully lowering herself upon it. She almost felt bad for thinking so badly of the Prince when he did nothing more than push in her chair afterward, and briefly wondered if she had misjudged him. It was rare for her to take such an instant disliking to someone after all. It had been an emotionally rocky day, and Amara herself had not been the most civil herself she remembered. Perhaps it would be best to try and forgive the earlier hostility, especially as the task of presenting House Dorian’s royal gifts now fell to her.

Amara had never been to a royal feast before, and was incredibly anxious about this fact. She did not want to look the fool, or appear as some naïve mountain maid, not in front of these people. The presence of Lord Marcus (and that was Lord Marcus, for no other man in the room could exude such raw power from merely sitting at the dinner table) in particular was intimidating. She caught his gaze on her, and though neither party spoke, Amara thought it must be very much what a rabbit felt like when facing down an eagle, and that was not a comforting thought. She was not about to let Lord Marcus know how much he intimidated her though, and returned his almost smile with a courteous, if cold, nod before preceding to ignore him. Marcus on the other hand, did not ignore her. She looked as much like Alya as the gossip mills had said, and he found her an amusing little thing. The daughter of Alya, she was of course comely, but in the wake of the overwhelming excess of the Queen, she was quite the refreshing sight in her crème silk, that was overlaid with Ishtalli designs in different shades of purple that made her eyes ever the more prominent. Her eyes were so similar to Cam’s that it was startling, and more than anything else that was the part of her he found himself watching.

Jonquel found himself a bit distracted at the feast, as he attempted to covertly watch the rest of his guests as his mother made her entrance. The task was made a great deal easier, as all eyes, or most it seemed, were on the splendor that was his mother. As his father was not present, it was Jon’s duty to ensure nothing unseemly happened within the hall, and to retain order. Jon nodded his approval towards his brother as he pulled out a chair for Lady Amara, and as she did not scream moments later, could only assume Davin had taken his advice to heart and decided to be more courteous to the Lady whose friendship they needed to cultivate. Davin did not yet seem to grasp it, but he, not Jon, was the most in need of a powerful house as ally. Their mother’s disapproval of Davin was well known to many, but the full extent of the Queen’s animosity was not. When their father died, it would be Tarweena who held the true reins of power at court, and Davin had need to be wary. The protection the friendship of a strong and influential House could very well be a matter of life and death for his brother, and whether or not Davin saw this yet, Jon would do all in his power to try and save Davin from himself.

The Queen’s display of extravagance did not particularly faze or impress Lord Marcus. Fools and pretenders were the ones who used such props to show their power, and Tarweena’s beauty had not interested him in a very long time. Age and kohl were not about to change that for him now. As the plate with the fornicating rabbits were brought out at Prince Davin’s behest and placed between the Prince and the young Dorian heir, Marcus couldn’t help but wonder if it was Davin’s way of flirting. Perhaps, though he thought it far more likely he was trying to make the Lady feel uncomfortable, especially after the confrontation the two had had in the hall earlier that day. News of that nature spread quickly, and Marcus had been informed of the display almost as soon as he’d left the hall. Marcus watched Amara, looking to gauge her reaction to the slight. Her face was still and blank as she stared at the dish, obviously offended, though trying to hide it. Then she did something that quite caught Marcus off guard. She took up the carving knife and fork, and delicately cut off the first piece from the top rabbit’s flank and put it on her plate. She even went back for some of the rosemary crusted roast carrots before she was done.

“I had no idea your highness was so insistent upon having rabbit. It must have been a very long time since you’ve had any.” The lady said to Davin in a voice that imitated innocence and implied so much. Marcus had to hide his smile behind a drink of wine. My but the girl was feisty. All of Alya’s quick wit coupled with Cam’s direct nature was quite the interesting mix, though she needed to learn where to pick her battles. Marcus could not decide yet if this would make it harder or easier for him to hate her. Something else soon caught his eye however, as he saw Sedwiff talking with the lady. The Dorian girl seemed to light up when his son talked to her, and the smile she gave him was dazzling. Though her lips were identical to Alya’s, her smile did not remind him of his lost lady love. Alya would try to hide her amusement behind her hand or fan, or pucker her lips to fight it back while amusement danced in her eyes. Amara’s smile was Cam’s, open, warm, nothing hidden from the world. Once that smile had been his world, a haven from the pressures and beatings imposed by his own father, and made him believe in such sentimental notions as unbreakable friendship. In the end he’d seen that smile twist into something darker and bitter that had cured him of such folly forever. It appeared his son, who looked so much like him yet Marcus barely knew, might need saving from that smile as well.

“Quite right Sir Sedwiff. The company here is too fine for such fretting.” Amara agreed with a smile she could not suppress as Sedwiff spoke to her. Amara had thought him attractive before, in riding clothes after having been on a long journey, but cleaned up for the feast in his best attire, he was especially handsome. She wondered if she would have to catch herself to stop from staring at him the entire night, as that would probably just make him uncomfortable and be terribly rude. Even if she was just getting lost in his blue grey eyes that shone like the blue limestone courtyard in Branenhold after a freshly fallen snow. Amara needn’t have worried though, as soon after they all began to eat, it was the younger Falyn brother who caught her attention. She hadn’t really paid much attention to Logaric Falyn before, not because he wasn’t handsome in his own right or unpersonable, she’d simply been too focused on the others at the table. She suddenly found herself quite captivated, not by his looks, but by his stories.

Though she would never be unwise enough to speak it out loud, Branenhold had felt as much a prison to her as a home growing up. There, the vast libraries filled with books about the histories and legends of far off lands had been a welcome reprieve and escape from her isolation. It gave Amara a healthy respect for storytelling, and quite prone to it herself. She enjoyed simply listening at the moment, as she noted that Logaric had quite a talent for weaving stories. For a moment she almost felt envious of this Falyn boy she barely knew, for he was free to do such marvelously silly and wonderful things like trying to catch local dervishes in Hurabia. How she had always longed for such freedom. As Logaric called his servants to bring out his gift for the royal family however, Amara remembered herself. She had her own gifts she would need to introduce after all.

“Quite nice.” Jonquael replied as his eyes raked over the fine tapestry. “It is obvious you have quite an eye for foreign goods Logaric. Lord Marcus must surely be pleased with your ability abroad.”

“Perhaps we shall hang it in one of father’s chambers. I’m sure such a sight of splendor would bring him great enjoyment. He has always had a particular appreciation of foreign art, and this piece is especially fine. Do you not agree Lady Amara?” Jonquel continued before questioning the Lady, interested to see her reaction.

“Oh yes, I must commend your choice of craftsmen my Lord, the tapestry is quite exquisite.” Amara praised Logaric cordially. “I am also quite relieved to hear of his Grace’s fondness of foreign craftsmanship. If you would not mind your highness, might I present our gift to your family as well, as the timing seems appropriate?” Amara asked Prince Jonquael politely. At the Prince’s acquiescent nod Amara stood gracefully, and motioned to one of the Dorian footmen who went to one of the connecting halls to fetch four male servants who had the look of Ishtal to them and each held a gilded wooden box in their hands.

“I’m afraid Ishtal is not quite as exotic as O'ullah, but on Empress Ranxita’s last visit to Branenhold, she brought with her Govind Ahamar, whom is the most sought after gold smith and jeweler in all of Ishtal. One prince had to wait as long as three years once for his turn to make a commission, and his work is so fine that it is considered an insult to present a piece of gold work to the royal family that he has not had a hand in making. He is however, particularly fond of the purity of our sapphires, and was made quite agreeable to a commission for us after my uncle gave him a good price on his next shipment of gems.” Amara explained with a conspiratorial smile extended to the whole table as she explained. She motioned to the servant with the long and skinny box first, who carefully opened the box and presented it to the queen. Inside was a gold scepter with fine detailing with leaves interwoven in the pattern as a nod to the famous forests around the capitol. At the top was a crowned shield with a stallion posing on one side and a stag on the other.

“Scepters are a rarity in Ishtal, and are given only to those who have proven their wisdom in matters of state. Govind agreed to craft such a piece for his Grace because he agrees our great King has long displayed great wisdom ruling Anglia. I hope his grace will enjoy this small token of house Dorian’s affection.”

“Empress Ranxita personally had a hand in the design of this necklace with our mountain’s gems your Grace, and bid I send you her fondest affections.” Amara continued as the second box was opened and presented to Queen Tarweena. Inside was a large and elaborate necklace that was covered with gold feathers, sapphires, emeralds, and amethyst gems that were arranged to look like a peacock feather fan. It was indeed a necklace fit only for a queen.

“For your highnesses, Govind agreed to craft for you each royal torques. For the Princes of Ishtal, it is a sign of honor to bare these torques, and each is crafted to highlight the honor they have earned amongst their people.” Amara explained as the last two servants moved to kneel at each Princes’ side and present the arm torques. And indeed, each of the many Princes of Ishtal wore one of these torques upon their arms with pride, as they were both considered a sign of manhood and a glimpse at one’s destiny. What she did not explain, was that Govind Ahamar was also part gypsy, and considered by many to have the rare gift of foresight, which made his torques especially sought after. Govind was always kind to her, but perhaps out of fear, or a simple desire to keep the future a surprise, Amara had always refused his offer to craft her jewelry.

“For Prince Jonquael, Govind crafted a pair of horse head silver torques, which represents justice and strength, while the rubies of the eyes indicate the owner has great importance.” Amara said kindly to Jonquael first. She elected not to explain how rubies were also a sign of a tragic or bloody demise, as that was an unpleasant detail she sincerely hoped was not true.

“For Prince Davinweir, he crafted torques of bronze with the heads of stags, which indicate a clever and resilient nature, while the emeralds in their eyes are symbols of hidden purpose and…luck. Empress Ranxita and House Dorian hope you will accept these gifts as tokens of our continued love and friendship.” Amara finished smoothly before retaking her seat with a curtsy. Oh but how it burned to pay the pompous prince such a compliment. He’d probably complain about his gift too, regardless of how important and treasured such symbols were in Ishtal! Princes were buried with their torques in Ishtal, and to bare a torque with emeralds was no small thing and a great honor. No ruler in Ishtal since the tradition of torques began over a thousand years ago had ruled for less than twenty years when they bore emeralds, and few lasted more than a handful of years without them. Davin would not hear that bit from Amara however, as she wasn’t about to inflate his over sized ego any more than it was.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara Dorian Character Portrait: Logaric Falyn Character Portrait: Prince Davinweir the Stag Prince Character Portrait: Prince Jonquael Drudwit the Black Stallion Character Portrait: Richard of Iron Peak Character Portrait: Sir Sedwiff Falyn Character Portrait: Ellyn de Guilayne Character Portrait: Queen Tarwenna Character Portrait: Lady Melevine of Gardren
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After the great opening feast had concluded, those who were not too deep in their cups to move were ushered into the spacious side hall where entertainment and mingling were to be expected. Minstrels, chosen for their skill and popularity from throughout Anglia, preformed on the dais in the back of the hall, filling the room with lively cheerful music that had many of the young nobles up and dancing. The line dances that allowed for twirling and constant change of partner was the most respectable and efficient way to dance, even in a hall this size, and though her turn with Prince Jonquel had been rather stiff (He was an elegant dancer in his own right but, but she suspected their proximity had made him uncomfortable, as had that of every other Lady he’d taken a turn with, so she was not offended.), Amara was thoroughly enjoying herself. The line they were dancing now a variation of the popular “Maiden and the Chair” that was particularly well received by the younger unmarried nobles. It was rather a flirtatious dance, with much twirling and almost touching step with one’s partner for the turn. In fact, it almost bordered on the indecent in some of the older generation’s mind, but it had always been too popular to deny. Mostly now it were only the old widows who complained bitterly in the corner, but no one else really minded.

So far Amara had managed to avoid the over protective supervision of her cousin Richard, and she honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if he had stayed in the feasting hall to drink with the other knights. After the Lords and Ladies had left with the queen, a bout of rowdier drinking songs had taken over the music in the hall, and most of the knights found that much preferable to the social games being played here. In fact, Amara had managed to evade most of her dinner companions so far, with the exception of Jonquel, and a part of her felt rather relieved. Her temper had been quite out of check as of late, and her gut clenched with anxiety at the thought of what Prince Davinweir would provoke her to next. Lord Marcus’s stare had also begun to unnerve Amara in a way she couldn’t quite explain, and she was doing her best to avoid him. She had yet to come across Sir Sedwiff either, and though she felt some disappointment over that, Amara tried not to dwell, and had taken up to conversing with her many dance partners. This was after all, a fishing expedition, she thought dryly, but with her Uncle bedridden for the night, Amara was free from the parade of old wealthy suitors she knew would be coming in her near future. Tonight she was free, free to dance with handsome knights who weren’t twice her age, free to laugh, free to tease, and free to be a young woman without the pressures of impending matrimony, and the hopes of her entire family to be shut away in some drafty castle to begin producing healthy Dorian heirs. Shut away safely like she’d been for her entire life, gods help her. Perhaps it was the wine, but there was a touch of desperation in Amara’s step as she twirled and danced with Sir Braxton Blackwood, a kind of determination to experience life before it was ripped away, and she knew it would be. So tonight she was going to dance, because there was no telling how many more she was likely to have.