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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 12-22-2014, 02:02 AM   #1
(Ser) Rhaegar Vayth
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Default 8.10.30 - night, the castle // Brother and Sister (Rhaegar, Maressa, ask to join)

He had made sure Lucia Vellfyre was safely ensconced in the great hall before setting a couple of his men off to look for the Lady Maressa Vayth. Rhaegar had found the chambers assigned to Jason's household, and the room he would be sharing for the evening with his captains- who were of course, actually sleeping in a brothel somewhere, if they were sleeping at all. Rhaegar was confident of finding time to bed someone later. Right now he had family considerations to deal with.

Still, he lingered in the halls, amused by watching the others in their revelry. He still sipped mead from his drinking horn, but his celebrations were far off yet.
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Old 12-22-2014, 06:17 AM   #2
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Resplendent in her fine silk bliaut heavily embroidered to present an image of butterflies dancing on a wildflower field in jewelled tones that would look vulgar on any woman with less warmth and colour in her skin, hair, and eyes than Maressa Vayth had, she enjoyed herself at the evening's feast, nevertheless taking the time to subtly let the ladies who worked under her tutelage that yes, she was watching, and everything was being taken notice of. To behave well only when someone with the power to punish you was paying attention was a basic flaw in the human character that nowhere near enough people ever bothered to overcome, and Maressa did not have enough faith in her ladies to keep themselves in check without proper motivation.

When the two men Rhaegar sent for her found her, Maressa was chatting mirthfully with a lady she knew from her time as a fosterling, the younger sister of the late Lady Starkadder. The elder lady teased Maressa over the handsome young knight she danced with earlier, who preened like a cockerel trying to impress her. She took his efforts in good humour, and eventually advised the boy to seek playmates amongst the ladies his own age in as motherly tone as she could muster. "You could actually see the moment his poor little heart broke on his face," the lady claimed, and Maressa laughed. "It's his pride, not his heart, that I've wounded," she replied. She was known for being a pleasant companion, and flirty in a humorous, playful kind of way, but ultimately unreceptive to romantic advances, yet there were still men (usually boys barely into their knighthood) who saw that not as a fact, but as a challenge, which was in equal parts annoying and amusing. Maressa had just intended to state as much aloud, when her brother's men came with his summons.

She excused herself with her companion, and followed the men out into the halls, where Rhaegar stood alone, a drink in his hands and an amused look in his eyes as he watched the flower of Edolene nobility (or what passed for it) throw themselves into every pleasure imaginable as they celebrated the long-awaited end of the war and welcomed what they all hoped was a long, long period of peace and prosperity. Once their role as her escort was through, the two men made themselves scarce, though she was certain they were lingering close enough by. They seemed like the type, alert and suspicious. Maressa approved.

Looking at her bother, she concluded that it would take her some time to process just how much he's changed in the years they'd been apart, though finding the traces of the boy she once knew and traits that testified to their familial bonds became easier with every sighting. There were the dark, almost black hair and eyes, the strong eyebrows, and the fan of thick, long eyelashes. There was the tan of his skin, a few shades deeper than her own, that they inherited from their Fairwind mother. There was that stubborn lock in his jaw that she knew so well as a child, and the deadpan face that betrayed little of the emotions he felt, though she knew (if that part of him remained the same) that he was just as temperamental on the inside as she was... and just as aware of the fact that the aforementioned temper was by no means an ally. Some families actively cultivated as little interest in controlling their fiery emotions as was humanly possible to achieve, and saw this irresponsibility and weakness of character as something to be proud of. The Vayth - or, at the very least, their generation of Vayth - learned better from an early age. Even Keven, who took after their father more than any one of Lord Gwen's children, could remember to put a leash on his temper at least half the time... though, she had to be honest, not much more than that.

Indeed. No one who saw them together could peg them for anything less than brother and sister.

"How does our little fete live up to the standards of Old Asserya, brother?" she asked with a smile as she approached Rhaegar, putting the idle thoughts aside. How much the shape of him changed was ultimately irrelevant. What Maressa needed to see was what kind of person her brother came to be.
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Old 12-22-2014, 01:58 PM   #3
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"Too little debauchery, too fine a drink." His accent was thicker tonight- he was tired, and didn't care if he sounded foreign. Let them think of him as just that for this evening. Rhaegar's eyes swept over his sister, taking in the details and searching for similarities the child in his memory.

He pushed off from the wall and turned, gesturing to the doorway. "Come. No point in making a show of reunion for all to see. I would hear your tale, Maressa. You've been at court for some time, I take it- I doubt father would have expended the coin necessary for that dress otherwise. It suits you, by the way."
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Old 12-22-2014, 02:27 PM   #4
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Maressa laughed. Rhaegar assumptions warranted nothing less than a good, hearty laugh. "Father has not spent coin on me in any way, shape, or form since I was ten-and-six," she replied, amused, and followed her brother out, "But yes, I have been serving at Court for some years now." Her hands casually clasped in front of her, Maressa walked by Rhaegar's side. "My story, however, is short and boring. I was wed to Alastair Starkadder, and the marriage ended without issue when he passed away of illness five years later. I then spent some time back in Tal Vayth, until I was appointed Lady-of-the-Chamber to my Princess some four years ago. I have been here ever since," she reported nonchalantly, and then looked up to Rhaegar and smiled. "Not a particularly exciting tale, I'm afraid," she concluded.
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Old 12-22-2014, 02:39 PM   #5
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"But a better one than I expected." Rhaegar closed the door then crossed the room to where a table bore the weight of cups and wine bottles. "Would you care for something to drink?"

He paused. "I am sorry to hear father's disposition isn't improved." Rhaegar stilled then and watched his younger sister. "Are you hoping to wed again, or... is this your desire? Court?"
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Old 12-22-2014, 02:58 PM   #6
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"I've had my fill for the evening, thank you," Maressa replied. "Father does as he pleases, and the rest of us adapt as we can," she concluded simply, not wishing to go into more detail if not necessary. She would, of course, tell Rhaegar anything he wished to know, and tell him the pure, unadulterated truth, but she fully intended to do so only if he asks, or dire need to reveal those things she did not enjoy speaking off occurred.

The remainder of Rhaegar's questions, however, caused her to give her brother a curious look. "I have spent five years of marriage without even so much as a late moonblood," she told him frankly, though her tone was gentle, "Granted, my late husband had not sired a single bastard in all his life, either, but the general consensus is that I am likely barren. Add to that my age, and I doubt you will find a family eager to make me their good-daughter, even if I had any desire to wed. And I don't. At best, I could expect an old man with grown children of his own, or a recent widower in need of a woman to raise those children he had with his late lady wife. But I am happy with my life as it is now - and I am burden to no one, since I have a steady income of my own generous enough to support myself, Bryony, and our niece..." Maressa stopped abruptly and, at the memory of Ildaria, smiled warmly. "Has uncle Arthos told you of Keven's marriage?" she asked.
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Old 12-22-2014, 03:22 PM   #7
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"There might be more willing to take you than you think." Rhaegar set his cup down. "Yes, uncle mentioned that. I am surprised Gawen is not keeping a tighter hand on all of you... though if I had been one for guesses, I'd have expected to come back to a house full of corpses with him left alone"

He waved it off; Gawen's disposition did not matter to him now- though once it had mattered a great deal to a young boy. "I was fortunate enough to assist the Crown Prince when he was captured- and he has been... generous... in his gratitude."
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Old 12-22-2014, 03:46 PM   #8
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"Either way, unless I must, I rather would not remarry," Maressa replied simply. The possibility of another marriage being arranged for her, however, never bothered her much, and rightfully so. With a much younger sister and niece soon to be of age, no one would think to look to her, and she was happy with that.

"How little faith you have us, brother," she said in a mildly reproachful tone, "We may not have as much power over our lives, and the lives of our people, as we would like for all of our sakes, but we have - and still do - countered Father in every way we could. At times, we even win... though, mostly, we are reduced to mending the havoc he leaves in his wake. Still, the situation is better for our struggle than it otherwise would've been. Lady Ganiya, Cedric, and I protected Ildaria to the best of our abilities, and carefully chose a foster-home to send her to as soon as she was old enough, so our Father's influence on her has been minimal. Much the same has been the case with Sindra and Bryony, though I can boast of a far less prominent role there."

She nodded pensively. "Yes... it is very different when he does not hold as much sway over our lives as he once did," she concluded. Since they've put both distance and Maressa's funds between their father and themselves, both Maressa and Bryony were able to live much fuller, happier lives, and pursue those of their interests that they never had the chance before. Gawen still ruled over them as their lord and patriarch, but he could not torment and cage them any longer.
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Old 12-22-2014, 08:35 PM   #9
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Yet the man still breathed. "You have done what you could, I'm sure." He paused. "None of the girls are fostered in the westerlands, are they?" Consideration of the rumors he'd heard, as well as what he remembered of Tal Vayth was circling within his mind. "You might want to set in motion a reason to recall them, if so... and where is Bryony? I should likely know which girl she is ere one of my men seduces her on accident."
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Old 12-22-2014, 11:38 PM   #10
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Rhaegar sounded less than convinced, but Maressa decided she would not say so. If he thought they could've done better, then he should've came home to show them how it's done, or at the very least kept in touch to make his opinion known when it actually mattered. But they had only just found each other again; she would not sully their reunion with arguments.

"Sindra is safe in Vikmark, wed to Rhaeys Vikary," she replied instead, "And arrangements have already been made for Ildaria to join my retinue directly from her foster-home as soon as her next nameday comes... do you have reasons to believe I should send for her right away? Ten-and-five is a little young, but there is nothing her foster-mother can teach her that I cannot. She has a good head on her shoulders, our niece. She took after Keven in appearance, but otherwise? She is her mother's daughter... and, believe me, that is a very good thing."

She stopped for a moment and looked back to her brother. First, he accuses the siblings he abandoned and forgot of incompetence in dealing with the man he himself never had courage to face, and now he calls his sisters whores? Oh, Rhaegar... did you have to make learning how to love you again so difficult? "Bryony would not do such a thing any more than I would," she told him simply; she did not need to be any more forceful than that. She knew her sister as well as she knew herself, and neither one of them had ever given any cause for gossip. Granted, Bryony had a far more open personality, unburdened by experiences that ripped her older sister's soul to shreds, but she did not dally with men any more than an unwed lady should. She turned her ear towards the great hall, listening intently. "She had just taken the floor with Lord Gavin when your summons came... she should be dancing with him still at this moment."
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:06 AM   #11
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"Kevan seemed rather like to our sire when we met in Zaksebar." He considered the choice of bringing the girl to court or not and shook his head. "No need to rush her into the viper-pits unless she's living near the western borders. I suspect those will not remain quiet for long..." But Maressa's description of Bryony and her whereabouts stopped his thoughts and he looked at her with a raised brow.

"Why would you-- Ah." He caught himself and inclined his head as a show of recognition. "Aplogies, sister, I forget you have not been living in Asserya these long years. Bedchambers are not so... hallowed. In truth, I do not care if you share your beds with men, so long as they're not of my company. It would be... conflicting interests for them."
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:28 AM   #12
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"Keven was..." Maressa began, then paused, and finally sighed. "He took too much after Father, that is true," she nodded in the end, "But not enough for Father to be pleased. And you know how much Father's approval always meant to him. He... he tried. But it was never good enough. So he would become frustrated and, in his desire to please, become extreme." She turned to Rhaegar, a solemn look on her face. "Do not mistake me, I am not excusing him. Had he the courage to stand up to Father, we could've won. But I cannot in good conscience let you believe he was the same as Father. He wasn't. That was his tragedy... and we all suffered for it." She sighed, a sad noise made by a grieving sister, but quickly regained her composure and added: "Ildaria is fostered inland. I assure you, we picked the best for her. A family of good standing, people we know, and with daughters of their own. She's living well, and progressing even better. There is no need to worry over her, not at the time being."

The other subject, however, required a lot less emotion in dealing with. "More importantly, it would risk her very valuable betrothal to Kellan Vellfyre," Maressa replied. There was no need to kid themselves; remaining the good graces of the royal family was a much greater imperative than her brother having to release one man from his service (either with a settlement purse or with the sharp end of the sword). "Ladies of the Court of Edolon are no different anywhere else in this world," she noted with an exasperated sigh of a person who often had to put out the many fires her ladies caused, "But our Lords like to pretend that they are. Some maintain the lifestyle - many more maintain appearances... and a few not even that." She smiled and softly patted her brother's shoulder. "Don't worry, Rhaegar," she assured him, "You and I... we are not who we used to be. It will... take time to learn. For both of us."
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:50 AM   #13
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"I am likely not as different as you think, Maressa." He spoke quietly but he didn't offer further assurances. Instead he returned to the matter of politics. "Kellan... That's likely secure. The crown prince's life was in my men's hands- I doubt that a marriage to my sister will be broken now, save by Gawen."

He turned away, fingers tapping against his thigh for a second. "Kev was a fool to the end. It cost him his life. At least he got to be buried here." Rhaegar shrugged. "Many better men did not... is that what became of your husband?"
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:05 AM   #14
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Maressa took notice of her brother's discomfort when speaking of personal things, and decided to forgo the intimacy for the time being. She took her hand off his shoulder gently, and calmly said: "Be that as it may, it does not do to sour your spouse against you before you're even wed. Vellfyre pride is a mighty beast, and it is wisest not to go against it without valid cause." And five minutes of pleasure with another man was definitely not worth it.

She did not like it when the conversation turned to Alastair, but she knew they had to have a conversation about him sooner or later. Her story was well known in court, and it was better that Rhaegar heard the truth from her, than suspicions from others. "My late lord husband was many things, but better than Keven, he was most certainly not," she said without much emotion, "And he met his just end, dysentery draining him of his wretched soul on both ends for near a week. I donned the widow's garb, but I did not mourn him, and my only regret was that my request to be made mistress of his estates was denied in favour of Father's request to be allowed to appropriate them for himself." All the work she did, all the progress she made, all the families she enabled for a better, more prosperous life by sponsoring those of their children blessed with talents so that they may be trained in the trades and arts they showed promise for... all ruined now by Gawen's incompetency. More than once did Maressa shed a tear when reading reports of what went on now in the lands she once called her own... but, shunned away, she could do little to aid them.
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:11 AM   #15
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"Not all men prize the same things," Rhaegar said with a shrug. "Dysentery... as claimed our uncle. A piteous death." There wasn't any real feeling in his words, just statement of fact. "But one that obviously benefited Gawen." He reached for his cup of wine again and filled it to the brim.

"I need to journey to Tal Vayth eventually. As the heir... I supposed it is expected. Would you accompany me? I am a stranger now, and would rather have a guide not of father's party."
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:19 AM   #16
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"As I'm sure you understand, brother, I am not inclined to think too charitably of men," Maressa laughed, "Thus I shall refrain from commenting." Knowing what he did, even that should've told him enough.

She nodded, solemn, but happy that Rhaegar was taking an active interest in his role. She watched too many men neglect their duties as lords and heirs not to appreciate Rhaegar's approach on the matter. "Bearing my Princess' permission, of course, but I doubt she would refuse me in this," she added aloud. Her duties did not allow her to make promises about how she would spend her time lightly, but she was certain that Princess Ziamara was too well acquainted with the matters of familial politics to deny Maressa a chance to influence the state of affairs in Tal Vayth now that she had been offered an opportunity to do so.
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:25 AM   #17
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"Your princess... the bastard one, yes?" Rhaegar's dark eyes sharpened a little. "What can you tell me about her? I've heard a song or two but songs are so often... mistaken."
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:32 AM   #18
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"Princess Ziamara, yes," Maressa nodded. Her Princess was, indeed, a bastard child, but she never once used that term to describe her. Her love and loyalty were too great for the traps of semantics. "She is kind, and well-meaning, and all she wishes for is to see everyone constantly happy," she said, "But she is no fool, and those who work against her soon learn that her sunny disposition hides a frame of steel. She is... she has her flaws. Most of them the classic less than favourable Vellfyre traits. And, sometimes, it takes her a while to remember those she loves are people, not pets. But she is a good friend, and I am fortunate to have her in my life."
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Old 12-23-2014, 02:00 AM   #19
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"Ah." Rhaegar listened intently- a spoiled princess then. That was good. "So she drinks too much, gambles too well, and has a temper to match her brother's? That seems... useful." He looked at his sister with some amusement. "And are you one of these pets?"
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Old 12-23-2014, 06:06 AM   #20
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Maressa made a sour grimace, the kind that Rhaegar would likely remember from the time they were children, but it came and passed in a blink of an eye, leaving behind only her usual lovely self. "I want to tell you that I am an exception to the rule," she confessed, "But I'm afraid the Princess sees my composure as a bit of a challenge. And she's more than a little fond of matchmaking." There was a small pause before she added: "She has toned her efforts down after last year's snow-wine debacle, though." Princess Ziamara believed that secretly spiking Maressa's drink would cause her Lady-of-the-Chamber to lose her inhibitions - and it did - but instead of making her more susceptible to seduction (which was the Princess' intention), it made Maressa lose control of her violent side instead, and... well... the results were not pretty. Luckily, Ser Berlioz was kind enough to accept their heartfelt apologies, and not hold his broken nose too much against them. Then again, if he did not wish to be head-butted, he should not have groped her as he did, so as far as Maressa was concerned, he got exactly what he deserved for trying to take advantage of her temporarily diminished faculties.
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Old 12-23-2014, 06:18 AM   #21
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"Ah. Bored and highborn... seems an old tale. A pity you are not more receptive, sister, but no matter. I'm sure you'll find her a target more suited to her amusement... surely that is what your younger ladies are for?" He would need to remember- snow-wine might serve for a bribe later.
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Old 12-23-2014, 06:26 AM   #22
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"Not from where I stand, but if I ever meet the acquaintance of someone capable of waking actual interest in me, I might reconsider that position," Maressa jested, though the topic of her romantic life bored her to no end. She understood that her lack of interest was not normal (and, if her Princess was correct, not healthy, either), but she could not help how she felt, nor would she jump into someone's bed just for the sake of being able to say that she did so. "The younger ladies manage to get into enough trouble on their own," she noted amusedly, "They do not need the Princess' incentive... though they happily accept her accompliceship."
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:28 PM   #23
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"No doubt." He turned his cup in his hand, watching the liquid move before he looked over at his sister. "If you have questions you would ask of me, I shall answer. I doubted anything I sent would reach you."
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:16 PM   #24
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"You just answered the only question I had," Maressa replied,unable to hide the small note of sadness in her voice. Why he never even once sent word of himself home was the only thing she wanted to know... and now she knew. He did not care enough to even try.

Waving her head, Maressa expelled that bitter, painful thought out, and asked her brother: "Tell me of Tybero instead. What does he enjoy? Is there anything about him I should be aware of, a special condition or need he might have? Are there any classes or lectures you would like him to attend that I may organise?" She did not ask what her nephew was like, though. She would get to know the boy herself, and form her own opinion in time.
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:57 PM   #25
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"What question was that?" he asked instead of answering. His sister's sadness had caught him off guard and he was curious about it. If he was to work with her he needed to know how her mind worked, and as of yet she was mostly mystery.
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Old 12-24-2014, 12:05 AM   #26
(Lady) Maressa Vayth
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Maressa hoped Rhaegar would take the hint and not continue down this path... but if he wished to do it anyway, well, who was she to stand in his way. "Why we only ever heard about you from other people," she answered, keeping both her tone and her expression neutral, "Or did I misunderstand you, and when you said you doubted anything you sent would reach us, you were actually referring to something else?" She supposed that was possible. She was human, and made mistakes, just like everyone else.
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Old 12-24-2014, 12:22 AM   #27
(Ser) Rhaegar Vayth
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"I did send word" Rhaegar shrugged. "But I know father caught them and I would suspect they were burned instead of shared. By the time you and the others were old enough to correspond separately we were in West Asserya- You have never seen a land men have been dying over for a century, sister but believe me when I say that letters have trouble enough making it to the next town. The only thing I have ever sent to Tal Vayth I'm reasonably certain our father would not toss in a rubbish pile was Kevan's bones, and even that I wasn't sure of."

He looked away again. "Tybero, for your question, is a boy of ten. He loves what all boys love, and he studies with the Sons- he will be a mercenary, not a courtier."
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Old 12-24-2014, 12:41 AM   #28
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"Please, don't be angry, Rhaegar," Maressa asked her brother, her voice soft and soothing, "I wasn't criticising you. 'Tis difficult, though, not to remember the moments when I needed you, and you were not there. I do not reproach you the choices you made. You couldn't have had an easy life, and none of the decisions you had to make could have been easy. My mind knows. My emotions... allow them a bit of time to catch up." And, eventually, they would. She was nothing if she was not a rational person.

"Education is important," she stood her ground on that matter, though, "You are Father's heir, and Tybero yours. He will come to rule Tal Vayth some day. Would you have him take the House seat unprepared?" She held her tongue before she could say anything harsher than that. Tybero was Rhaegar's son, and in all practical ways, a stranger to her. She had no right to interfere. "If you would not have him tutored, will you at least allow him time with me, so that I may help him with his Edolene?" she asked a moment later, her tone making it clear that she did not intend to stir a fight. She smiled at the thought of the boy and added: "It would help me get to know my nephew, and I would like that very much."
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Old 12-24-2014, 01:04 AM   #29
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"I would have remained had I been able, Maressa." With that he finished his wine and turned to pour another cup.

"Tal Vayth is a serpent's pit- a sellsword company is the only fitting preparation I can think of. He may spend time with you- his Edolene is dreadful. It was his mother- she tried teaching him but hers was worse than his." He winced at even the thought of that. "Just avoid trying to turn him into a magister."
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Old 12-24-2014, 01:11 AM   #30
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"I know," Maressa said, using all of her strength to stop her hand from rising to touch her marred cheek. "I understand better than you think," she murmured. She did not let the moment last for long, though. Pity, even self-pity, was not amongst the things she tolerated.

"If that is your greatest concern, I could always conduct Tybero's lessons on the training field," she joked, but her heart was barely in it, "I am there every morning at dawn."
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