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Kingsport The smaller (population 8,000) but northernmost port of the 'Reach, Kingsport's fortunes faltered and fell in the last ten years with Zaksalam cutting off the northern trade routes, but the city is recuperating with the return of trade. The town's name is from the Vellfyre summer palace which is built nearby and serves as a seat for younger sons and a place for the court to flee in case of plague in Tal Volorro.
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Old 01-14-2015, 10:14 PM   #1
(Princess) Ziamara Fairchild
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Default 8.28 evening @ castle - one more night - Alys, Ziamara (open to retinue)

The main households of the Vellfyre family were crowded into the Fairwind castle, with many guards and courtiers remaining throughout the grounds, and some camping beyond the city gates. Her father had announced Charlotte would be taking her retinue back to Tal Volorro- abandoning the main part of the court in a day or two and taking the road south instead of heading to Summerhall. The official reason being the preparation of Tor Vellesca for the fall festivals and Corvium but there was also the matter of the longer-range plans for the Holy Days court and Jason's wedding...

And thinking of Charlotte's absolute authority in Tor Vellesca for the better part of a month made Ziamara's steps hurry toward her quarters, and she sent a page to find Alys and bid her attend the princess once Charlotte released her for the evening. Her step-mother was probably off torturing Whitney about Rosina's leaving in the morning... so perhaps Alys would be able to sneak off with little trouble. Perhaps. And the fact this was Alys' home now being handed off officially to Valencia and Jarem... Well. She was worried about her friend.

Ziamara left word with her guards that Alys was to be let in if she came, and then Zee slipped into her rooms to let Carissa start unbraiding her hair and help her slip out of her surcoat before the rest of the retinue got back to claim their sleeping areas for the night. Pallets and camp beds had already been dragged up to the room and it would be a crowded mess of bodies by the time everyone went to sleep.
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Old 01-15-2015, 02:20 PM   #2
(Lady) Alys Fairwind
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Alys was sitting on a bench in a tucked away garden that the courtiers had yet to discover, already released for the evening and too tired to do anything else, too tired for deceit. She had been burning as bright and brighter than the sun the entire day and most of the evening, and for the first time in a week she had done it all on her own. It had been horrible, smiling when she felt like crying, laughing when she wanted to scream and shout and curse, or worse, just lie down. She was nowhere near as numb as she wanted to be, preferred to be, but she could not quite bring herself to dull the pain either. Today, walking down the familiar halls of this place that had been her home… there were so many ghosts and whispers in the corners; and as much as she wanted to make them go away, she also wanted nothing more than to continue seeing and hearing them – these were precious tenuous connections to a past that would never have a future and Alys wanted to cherish them.

The page found her after Alys had left that garden a little while later and was headed for somewhere else – she was not enitrely sure where, just that she needed to go - and upon his delivering the request from Ziamara, Alys turned around and headed straight for the chambers that had been allocated to the princess and her retinue. She had no idea how long it was since Ziamara had sent the page for her. She felt like thin glass caught midair, not really knowing if she was floating or falling yet. Not sure which she wanted it to be.

As she neared the chamber, Alys tried to straighten herself out a little. She brushed off her dress, tried to untangle her hair enough that it did not look like a bird's nest. She could do nothing about the paleness of her face – a paleness that had nothing to do with a lack of sun or fresh air. When she reached the door, the guards let her pass, no doubt Ziamara had told them to let Alys in if and when she came. Letting out a shaky breath, Alys knocked quietly on the door before she opened it and entered the room. ”Zee?” she said with a small smile in a soft-spoken voice uncharacteristic of her. ”Did you want anything?”
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Old 01-15-2015, 09:07 PM   #3
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Ziamara turned to look at Alys as she entered, and winced at her friend's appearance. "Thorin's beard, Alys... what have you been about? Carissa! Come fix her hair..." She called her maid back and walked over to embrace Alys. "I wanted to warn you. Charlotte's going straight back to Tor Vellesca - she may tarry with the rest of us tomorrow but you'll be setting out straight for the capital the day after... she wants to prepare for Corvium, and the wedding this winter. Can't let Jason's wedding day have anything but a coronation's worth of ceremony." Ziamara sounded tired even as she spoke of it: her step-mother's revels were always more about appearance than enjoyment.
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Old 01-16-2015, 05:45 PM   #4
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Alys tried for a laugh as she closed the door behind her, but it came out half-hearted and died out almost before it had begun. She let Ziamara embrace her and Carissa begin the process of untangling her bird's nest hair before she said anything. It seemed to relax her and the bone-deep tiredness shone through like a beacon. "I had an idea we would be returning to Tor Vellesca shortly. Charlotte has been... a little preoccupied the last days. I did not know it would be so soon as the day after tomorrow, though. No doubt Charlotte feels the events are worthy of such an extensive preparation period, and no doubt it requires her personal attention as anything lesser than the perfect execution of her grand plans will surely reflect poorly on her royal majesty's majesty." Alys winced as Carissa dealt with a particularly bad knot. "Perhaps it is for the best that I return to Tor Vellesca anyway." A slightly different way of saying that perhaps it was better if Alys left Kingsport, got away from Kingsport. She was quiet for a couple of seconds. Then the wince was replaced with a pale, but true, version of Alys' most 'completely innocent' mischievous grin. "As for what I have done that I should come to you in such disarray, I think it might be more a question of what I have not done, truly. I can guarantee you that I have not grown a likeness to a tree and no birds came to nest in my crown, though I do have the headache that would go with having innumerable birds nesting there. And I must say I do hope my hair has very little likeness to Thorin's beard." She held out her hands before her; every now and again a small tremor shout through them and made them shake ever so slightly.
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Old 01-18-2015, 11:00 PM   #5
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"It looks like someone's beard might've been an inspiration at any rate..." Ziamara's tone was wry though her eyes remained worried as they looked Alys over. "You must take care while you're in Vellesca, dear... it's... we won't be there for a while. Father will be collecting the autumn rents as we go, and I doubt we'll be there much before Corvium."

Ziamara's head tilted as she watched Alys. "So... were you at least having fun? You look as if you could use some."
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Old 01-19-2015, 06:37 PM   #6
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Alys let out a low sound that was almost decidedly a mix between a chuckle and a snort. "You mean no mudfights in the gardens, no hallways full of water puddles, no swimming in the fountains without supervision? No letting any chickens loose?" she asked with a grin. Almost as an afterthought, she added: "Those are actually excellent ideas... perhaps..." She trailed off and the grin faded, returning to a more serious face before she continued. "Zee, truly, I always try to be careful and take care of myself, even when I am completely out of it. I promise to do my best not to burn anything down in a drunken haze. I am going to miss you, though."

Carissa was more than half-way through Alys' hair by now, the difference being quite apparent. Alys withstood the urge to run her hands through it just to savour the difference. "You are probably right - I could use some fun. I think there must have been moments of it today, yes, but then the sadness comes back three times as strong, because how could I forget for a moment that they are all gone? I did not choose to be sober today because I wanted to have fun. Not that I did not want it, but there was something else, Zee. I keep seeing them and hearing them everywhere. Every stone of this place seems to hold a memory, and I wanted that more than I wanted to not... well, remember... or feel. I wanted the memories enough that I could take a little sadness, or a lot of it. I just cannot let everyone else know. Does that make sense, Zee?"
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Old 01-19-2015, 06:48 PM   #7
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She went back to Alys side to put her hand on Alys's. "I do understand, love. More than I wish to." Ziamara's expression did not get any less worried. "Just... be careful. Tonight.. tomorrow. All the days... Charlotte's been in a mood, and you know how that can go for the unwary." Even Ziamara's back had the stripes to testify to those moods in the last few years. "If you and Tyana decide to play some jest... father won't be there, or any of the rest of us."

She bit her lip. "Gareth. Sad as that is, Gareth's the only one who may have any sway at all over her."
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:41 PM   #8
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It was nice to know that she was not alone, even if she felt alone all the time. She turned her hand so that she could hold Ziamara's and pressed it gently, at the same time reminding herself that Ziamara had lost people she was close to too. Yes, she would know what Alys meant. And oh, did Alys know about Charlotte's moods. She had dodged more punishments than she cared to remember, than she could actually remember, and she had still had enough and some to spare between the times she had not. When she was in a mood, Charlotte was a maelstrom and the unlucky someone caught in it was a badly built boat. Not even a ship, just a small boat. With that in mind there was not much Alys could say to relieve Ziamara's worry but promise to take care, so she repeated the promise she had already made, though in a more direct manner this time. ”I promise. I will try be careful, and I will tell Tyana to be as well, though I do not know if it will do any good.”

Carissa had unexpectedly come across another really bad knot, and Alys winced again before she continued. ”I do not think I am following your chain of thought? Gareth?”
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:19 PM   #9
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Ziamara sighed and shook her head. Her thoughts were never easy to follow when it came to the king or the queen. "Sometimes... she listens to him. Not much, and not always... but there are moments when he might have some effect." Ziamara looked away. "Use that, if you end up in a tight place. Tell him I'll owe him a favor if you need to." She never knew where she stood with the bastard who might soon rule Oldcastle, but at least some of the time Gareth had been friendly, and those troubled thoughts reflected in Ziamara's eyes as she watched Alys. She couldn't say that any more than she could tell her friend about Lucia's misadventure...

"If you cannot make Tyana behave, then let her take the brunt of it for once, Alys. Charlotte was in a fury tonight. I cannot imagine it will be getting better."
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:33 PM   #10
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Alys did not know what to do. She read Ziamara as well as she could, noted the troubled look that was in Ziamara's eyes even as she offered Alys a way out of any trouble with Charlotte. From the way Ziamara acted, Alys did not think that Ziamara thought that asking Gareth for help would actually help. ”I will have it in mind… though,” Alys trailed off and lingered on the last word, stretching it out into near silence before she found the words to follow it that she was looking for, ”though I do not think that it would be right, bringing your name into it. If Charlotte found out you interfered through Gareth with her 'righteous' punishment of me, she would be furious, with all of us, most likely. Also, I would hate for you to owe anyone anything because of me.” Alys accentuated the word 'righteous' with a tone of voice and a facial expression that conveyed the full scope of the discrepancy between what the queen might perceive as righteous and what Alys usually thought of that righteousness.

”No doubt you are right. Unless she gets drunk on power and usurps the kingdom and turns it into a matriarchy with matrilineal primogeniture and… probably not, no, Charlotte's mood is not likely to improve, I suppose. Tyana does not – no one does really – deserve the brunt of Charlotte's punishments, whether she is responisble for them occuring or not. Better it be me. I doubt it Lord Kalden will be bothered by any stripes, markings or welts on my back anyway. I believe his indifference to me is quite obvious, and his preferral to not have me for a wife even more so. Tyana still has a chance at a marriage that is not entirely unhappy.”
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Old 01-22-2015, 10:17 PM   #11
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She gave her friend a sad smile. "Alys, you must know it would be worth it. I owe favors across the court and favors are owed me... and if it keeps stripes off your back, I'll gladly do it." Ziamara bit her lip, thinking of the very real indifference Kalden showed to Alys and... her friend wasn't wrong...

"Kalden is indifferent to most people. At least you will not need to fear him... only mild dread would suffice." She tried to make a jest of it, but her smile was lop-sided. Something really did need to be done about that. Indifferent marriages were hardly a crime, but at least fond indifference would be more bearable... And Alys had a dowry, and was a royal ward... Ziamara filed that away in her mind to consider while they traveled. She'd be seeing half the 'Reach on the progress; maybe someone else would present themselves. If she could just find names to give her father, he might be urged to reconsider...

Ziamara's smile strengthened. "Charlotte wouldn't like ruling either- we haven't enough of an army to put every person who displeases her on a stake."
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Old 01-24-2015, 03:03 PM   #12
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”I do know, Zee, but I can also imagine the threads of all those favours and what they might turn into some day.” Alys smiled wryly but the effect was completely lost in the yawn that immediately followed. ”Excuse me. As I said, I will have it in mind, should things get bad. I do seem to have some sense of self-preservation left.”

Alys stayed quiet, not sure what she could say about Kalden that she might not regret at another point. The truth was that they did not really know each other, him having been away fighting in the war when they were bethrothed, and her... well, she had been praying for Zachary and Brandon and Eoin and her cousins to come back alive. And the person Alys seemed to be now was an exaggeration of only one side of her, because the other parts left her exposed to a world of hurt just waiting to be added to the lingering wounds that was her family.

Alys snapped out of her increasingly depressing thoughts and banished them to the far back of her mind. They could wait until some other time. She smiled and could not help but laugh at Ziamara's assessment of the terror that would be Charlotte's rule. ”Not to mention that she would eventually run out of stakes.”
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Old 01-24-2015, 05:59 PM   #13
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"Mm. No, she's likely to chop down half the forests in the north." Zee rolled her eyes. "Ah well, we'll have to endure her as queen. Father is sometimes fond of her... and sometimes she's kind. Perhaps she'll have a kind turn and surprise us all." It passed her understanding how her stepmother could sometimes be very giving, and turn around to demand someone bleed for the smallest of mistakes.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:52 PM   #14
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”Most people have someone who is fond of them and most people are kind on occasion,” Alys remarked. ”Most people do not favor such excessive punishments. Of course, most people are not queens and a queen must be allowed to not act the same way most people would, or the way they expect. Perhaps she will have a kind turn and surprise us all – it would be unexpected. I could perhaps even like that surprise, though a majority of the surprises I have had have been bad ones.”

As Alys finished the last sentence Carissa got through the last of Alys' tangles and ran the comb through Alys' hair a couple of times to make sure she had not missed any. Alys, noticing the difference keenly as Carissa did that, sighed contentedly. ”Thank you, Carissa,” she said with a smile and then she turned to Ziamara. ”I feel less like I am likely to find bird eggs in my hair now. Though undoubtedly I will find some way to create new tangles. I should hope those come from some much greater amusement than that of today.”
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