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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 01-11-2015, 07:29 PM   #1
(Prince) Jason Vellfyre
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Default 9.01.30 | Experts on the Matter | Winona, Jason [closed]

It had been a long night and he finally did get some sleep in the early hours of the morning, his head heavy with wine and so the dreams did not come again. When he woke, he felt... like he'd been run over by a carriage, to be honest, but some time on Benedict as well as some more wine here and there helped to stretch out those joints and get rid of the headache. He returned for some food and to wash up, getting dressed into clothes that had not been dirtied by the days activities, and then of course... the last things were the gloves. Elijah reminded him that it was only unbearably hot because he insisted on covering nearly every inch of skin, and that at some point, he was going to pass out from the heat. But... as Jason was all too familiar with wearing armor, the threat seemed a bit hollow.

He found himself now with only time for himself. Which meant perhaps he could finally do what he'd been meaning to do since the hunt in Summerhall... Seek Winona. He had Domingo run ahead to let her know that she was coming and after combing his hair, followed after him. Her attendant outside curtsied low as he approached and announced him before he entered.

"Lady Winona," Jason greeted as he approached, holding his hand out to her and taking her own to lift to his lips. He looked up at the others still in her tent and said softly, "I wish to speak with you... privately." And that seemed to be hint enough for them to all bow or curtsy after their fashions and leave them in peace. "I'm sorry... I'm in desperate need of advice... and you're the only person I could... speak of this... without feeling... how should I say... awkward."
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:55 PM   #2
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The wandering progress from Kingsport had been very wandering, indeed. It was a slow return on the road back to Summerhall, with most of the time spent not moving at all. The camp was set, and there was hunting to be had, and even if Winona wasn't much of a hunter, she was happy to accompany those who were, perched on the back of her black Merideen horse, head veiled but only to keep the sun off her face.

There was nothing overly formal about the excursion, and Winona relished that, at least for a few days. It was nice to not wake and spend hours getting dressed, having her hair fixed, scrubbing and scouring and painting and perfuming. Alianor didn't especially need her, either. It was a wonderful few days of laziness in the late summer, and the fields and woods were loud with the sounds of it.

She'd been so lolled into relaxing that Jason's request to see her was startling. True, a hunting excursion on the road wasn't a reception in Summerhall, but she hurried to put herself together as much as possible before the prince arrived at her tent. Off Ofelia and Abelard went, and Winona stood, gesturing to a pile of large pillows she'd opted to bring instead of chairs - which were cumbersome to pack and move for only a few days. Her tent had largely been fitted out for mobility, with cushions to sit on and thick Merideen rugs, low tables, and a bed of Old Asseryan design that had been standard once for its generals as they marched across Sunderland and made war on foreign kingdoms.

"Please, Highness," she said. "Make yourself comfortable. I'm happy to listen and advise."
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:08 PM   #3
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"Please, Winona... We are friends, are we not? You need not call me that when we're just speaking like this," he said, walking towards the cushions with her. It... was a bit difficult to sit down. He knees protested and he sighed with some embarassment when one of them decided to pop loudly. Still, he stretched them out when he was finally seated and made sure he had not taken up too much space.

"No doubt you've seen my betrothed by now... Lady Parissa... She's... well... she's a sweet girl. Young... of course, but... sweet... and I find myself struggling with... how to handle certain... truths..." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Gods... I should have planned out how to say this before I got here," he chuckled. "She's just so..." He rolled his hand in the air as if that would clear that up for him. "And I'm so... you know...? All said and done... I've no idea what I'm going to do about that... Her. I was hoping to get an outside perspective... Guidance in a way..."
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:51 PM   #4
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Winona joined Jason on the cushions, though she sat with much greater ease than he. She leaned onto her left side, arm propped up by a large pillow, cheek coming to rest against her hand, and she listened to Jason speak.

It was very hard to not grin, and by the end she had at least allowed herself something resembling a sympathetic smile. "Lady Parissa does seem like a sweet young woman," she agreed. "Young, though. You're right. It's almost a bit unfair to you both, but that's how politics work sometimes, I realize. So what you're saying is that you need a bit of advice how to navigate her naivety?"
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:19 PM   #5
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"Among other things," he said, shifting to get more comfortable, leaning in a similar way as she was, only on his right side to face her. "The only time I've ever had to consider how was when I was that young... or when my sisters were... and that is very different, I think. And with everything... the memories of that age seem so distant..." His eyes looked between them. "I'm at a loss. My father makes clear the importance of this arrangement... And his eyes are ever keen even in his age... And here I am... My attempts to get to know her have thus far been successful, and I can see a friendship if nothing else... But there are times she says something or does something. It is when her age shows and I... am stuck. So there's that... and then there's the matter of the marriage bed which I would have hope to avoid until she was at least a little older, but from how it appears... I may not have a choice."
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:46 PM   #6
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"Friendship is not a bad start," she reassured him. "It's good of you to spend the time to get to know her - many girls never get that opportunity to learn about their future husbands before their wedding."

Winona hadn't. She'd barely seen Evariste before the day of their wedding, meeting him only briefly once after their betrothal had been formally settled. No one had cared whether or not she liked him, or whether either of them wanted to get to know the other at all. "Well...." she said, letting her free hand rest against her bent leg, fingers drumming. "You're right that it may not be able for you to avoid your marriage bed. I think your father is probably anxious about you having an heir of your own sooner rather than later, though if he was so anxious he probably should have betrothed you years ago. Maybe he just didn't like any of us other girls at the time."

Her head tilted downward, a small smile growing on her face. "My advice is... don't... rush her too quickly before the wedding. She's, what? Five-and-ten? Six? At that age, most girls have only begun to notice men a couple of years before. She's still learning things about herself. Affection changes so very quickly into loathing when you're that old."
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Old 01-11-2015, 10:04 PM   #7
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"I... can't even begin to guess why my previous betrothals did not take..." he said honestly. "I think by the third betrothal, I stopped taking them seriously. But, I agree... I think at times I was more concerned about the matter of an heir than he was... Perhaps he's beginning to realize nobody's immortal and even if we will it, nobody can live forever."

He sighed. "I had thought to ease her into it... Make the night more comfortable for her. We haven't... consummated... but there's been some intimate gestures... She seems eager, but considering the stakes of this match, it might just be mummery. Either way you are right... I hadn't considered that. And then there's also... She saw my scars and... I think terrified her," he said sadly. "And last night, I had a nightmare again. A bad one... Threw me from my bed. Between that and the scars...?"
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Old 01-11-2015, 10:27 PM   #8
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"Well of course she's eager. Most girls are just realizing that they can be at Parissa's age," said Winona with a cornered grin. "Which is what I meant about not rushing her into it. If you do, you'll find that she might be head over heels one day and in four month's time despise you for absolutely no reason. It is exceedingly rare that anyone they fall in love with at six-and-ten is someone they're still in love with at six-and-twenty. However, it's not at all uncommon for someone to hold a friendship that long, and much longer."

Her smile faded into a look of concern. "You know there's nothing terrifying about your scars," she said, her voice dropping low. "It's only terrifying to think that you were almost lost, and those the proof of it. As for the dreams... I've been thinking, since our conversation last. I was wondering if perhaps there are things that cause you to have them? Sounds, sights? Something that reminds you of the time when the dreams first started."
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Old 01-11-2015, 10:40 PM   #9
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"Very wise... and very... disconcerting," Jason said, hedging a smile. "I'm not hoping to make her fall in love with me. But the friendship, yes. An amenable marriage with a wife I can speak with and not myself despise." He would never understand how people associated things like sex with love... He knew the bards and all the songs and poems spoke of it... but for him... it made very little sense. "I shall heed your advice on that score... Though, what might I do if she is the one who initiates it?"

He rubbed the back of his neck again. "I'm not sure. I've tried to piece together myself... Being back I thought might do me some favors. The smells here are different. The sounds. But so much is so different... Not having my brother... My cousin... The dreams I had in that dungeon played out like this... Of me back with my family... and perhaps it is that I am afraid this is the dream... I should not have survived. I should have died there. Another day... Maybe even another hour..." He took a shaky breath and finally looked back at her. "The scars are worse on my back than on my hands... It is why I feared showing you... I thought it might turn you away from me. I could bear revulsion from so many others... but a woman I consider a friend... one who I respect... it'd have been too much."
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:03 PM   #10
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"Hm," she said in reply, her fingers tapping against her leg again in thought. "If she initiates it... tell her, I suppose, that you respect her - because you do respect her in the way a man should to a defenseless young girl, I assume. That you appreciate it. Definitely reassure her that you don't find her hideous or the like - trust me, no matter their age, women have a way to hear that in every rejection. Your wedding is a thing that should honor her, and you intend to do just that. She might whine or grouse a bit, but she's going to have you for the rest of her life or yours, and she'll forget you ever said 'no'. Or she'll remember someday when she's older that you did, and think it chivalrous and kind."

Winona reached between them, her hand coming to rest against Jason's arm. "You didn't die, and you shouldn't have. If you had been meant to, you would have. These dreams are not your fault, just like your capture was not your fault. Do not feel ashamed for any of it, for surviving. Your scars could never repulse me. There is nothing repulsive about you. Nothing."
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:11 PM   #11
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He chuckled. "Shit... I should have come to you sooner... We've, like I said, done some things... But I told her I wouldn't take her like that until we were wed. We agree on that. I refuse to break my word on that score. The rest, as I said, has been an effort to make her more comfortable, but I shall... be more respectful, as you say."

His hand moved up to touch her wrist lightly. "It is a shame I know I should not feel... and yet I cannot be rid of it." His voice was softer... sadder. "The court speaks in whispers... Of this hero prince... strong and handsome... All these songs they sing... They think we should be flattered... but they could never know how hard it is to live up to those expectations... They repulse me, Winona. How...? How could they not repulse you?"
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:28 PM   #12
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"Think of it as kindness, if nothing else," said Winona, as if sharing a secret. "If - all gods forbid - something were to happen to you between now and your wedding, then Parissa would at least be... well, she wouldn't have lost both you and her maidenhead. It's not important to everyone, but it can be to some. It certainly was for my husband."

Her expression softened at the touch of Jason's hand, and she bent her wrist to lace her fingers through his. "All you have to do to live up to their expectations is to live. That's what they love the most, those who don't know you but know what you represent. You, alive - that's security, that's the future, that's safety from civil war and unrest. They love you alive. Living is all you have to do." She paused, her eyes drifting towards his shoulder. "I have the luxury of not living in your skin. You're repulsed because you're irreversibly marked and changed and you can't escape it. But I'm not horrified because I so dearly care for survivors."
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:40 PM   #13
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"That's... part of it, too."

He closed his fingers around her hand. "It is also because it is simply repulsive. I thought nothing of scars before. I've received many during tournaments and battles previous... But these...?" Jason released her hand to take off his gloves to lay between them. Pushing up his sleeve, his drew a line across the red scars, both from the iron and from the shackles. "It's like I'm looking at another body... If anybody saw... Even the woman who is to be my wife recoiled... My sister saw and was horrified... They would do the same..." He looked at her with some desperation. "May I... show you? Just... I need somebody to look and not... not draw away..."
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:52 PM   #14
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Winona gave Jason a long look, and a contemplative one as well. She owed him that much, at least, to seriously consider the request in as serious a way as it was requested. After a moment she gave a nod of her head. "Please," she said, her voice gentle. "Show me, Jason."
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Old 01-12-2015, 12:03 AM   #15
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He sat up slowly, his fingers going to the buttons of his tunic to unfasten them. He hesitated, his hands beginning to tremble a little, but he got them to grasp the fabric of his tunic and undershirt, pulling them from his breeches and then gradually lifted both over his head. He closed his eyes then, but willed himself to open them, his back rigid, his shoulders up. "They... cause me no pain any longer... Except that which cannot be cured with poppies or salves..."
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Old 01-12-2015, 12:52 AM   #16
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Winona watched Jason loosen his shirt, but she sat still as he pulled it loose and tugged it over his head. She might have helped him, she supposed, but she was reluctant to interfere. He was, after all, trusting her.

His chest had been obscured from her before, though she'd felt the myriad of scars here and there across it, and now in plain sight they weren't so much worse than any man who'd spent time. The same for his arms, though the marks around his wrists were at once familiar and unfamiliar.

She moved to her knees, then shifted her weight to move to his side - and then to the cushions just behind him. Then she didn't move again for a long moment, and said nothing. Her hand stretched out, fingertips first, and then the rest of her palm settled against his scarred skin where it had been rent by a lash, over and over. No longer fresh, they had obviously healed, but scars took a long while to lose their color and fade into white and silver. His were deep enough that they probably never properly would.

Still silent, she leaned forward, and her lips pressed gently against the top of his shoulder.
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:05 AM   #17
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He took an unsteady breath, tremulous and unsure, and he held it until he felt her touch. When it came out, it was ragged, and he sat very still even when he felt her lips on his skin. His head turned to face her, and he pressed his lips to her shoulder, his eyes closed as he tried to articulate his thanks... When they opened, they were wet... his vision blurred by unshed tears. "You... You couldn't know... w-what this means to me..." he said in a broken voice. "Thank you..." he said, tears finally falling and he reached to touch her shoulder.
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:38 AM   #18
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Winona's hand moved away from his back, but only so she could rest it at the side of his head while hers dipped toward him, her forehead touching his hair. "You're very welcome," she said, her arm lifting and wrist pressing against his cheeks. "You never have to feel ashamed for any of this, Jason. Not with me. I promise."
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:51 AM   #19
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He turned towards her, his hands reaching between them and he lightly touched her jaw. He parted from her only so he could tilt her face up to his. He did not kiss her. At least not her lips. First, his thumb traced the scar on her chin, and very slowly he leaned in to press his lips against it. "I don't know what to say," he whispered. "I'm... grateful... More than I can express..."
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:06 AM   #20
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"You don't have to express anything," said Winona quietly, her eyes closing at the touch of Jason's lips at her chin. "You're the crown prince. There's very little you have to do. Expressing gratitude... isn't among that."

Her head tilted to the side, and she leaned in to press her lips against his, but it was a soft kiss, one meant more for comfort than passion. Her hand remained at the side of his head, fingers moving through his hair. "But I believe you, you know."
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:11 AM   #21
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"No..." he said, his hands going to her shoulders. "Maybe out there that's who I am. But here... when we speak alone... I'm just Jason."

His eyes opened and he looked at her for a moment before giving a small smile. "Good," he whispered, leaning in to kiss her again. "Because I've never been more honest with anybody. I don't know what it is about you... but I trust you." Another kiss. Like her own, they were not kisses of passion but of something else. Gratitude. Vulnerability. Trust.
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:31 AM   #22
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"Perhaps it's that I'm familiar?" she offered, smiling. "They do say that familiarity breeds contempt, but.. they also say that there's comfort in things known. And... you certainly know me by now, or at least, I hope you do."

It would be, in Winona's estimation, a bit sad if someone who'd seen her without her clothes on couldn't consider themselves a little bit comfortable in her presence. After all, there wasn't anything left to wonder about.

Her lips moved to his cheek, and then to his brow, and there she paused for a long moment, her arms moving around him. "I will try to be worthy of your honesty."
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:36 AM   #23
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"I am familiar with a lot of people, Winona," he said. "And I don't trust nearly half of them as much. If at all."

He closed his eyes again and then his smile grew more sure. "You are worthy... Of that and more. Never think otherwise," he said, lifting his head again to kiss her.
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Old 01-12-2015, 03:01 AM   #24
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"You make a convincing argument not to," she said, both hands moving through his hair, and Winona leaned forward, her lips parting beneath his invitingly, her skin warming, the scent of campfire smoke lingering in her hair and mingling with myrrh.
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Old 01-12-2015, 03:06 AM   #25
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"Good... and I'll make it again if you ever start to doubt." He breathed in and then took the invitation, his tongue slowly ghosting the line between her lips before seeking her own. He made a noise against her lips, his hand came up behind her head, fingers slipping into her hair to hold her while his other arm encircled her, pulled her closer.
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Old 01-12-2015, 03:31 AM   #26
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It would be very easy to just stop thinking... to stop thinking about anything but the lips against hers, the hand in her hair, the arm around her, pulling her close. Her pulse leapt in the hollow of her throat, and Winona heard herself murmur Jason's name before she even realized that she'd said it, the sound muffled against his mouth.

She pulled her head back to look at him, pupils wide and eyes darkened. "I want you," she murmured. "So very much... but... I... There's... I don't know if he cares about me at all, or..."
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:56 PM   #27
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Jason's lips began to move to her throat, but she was pulling back... speaking... and he had to force himself to listen... to not draw her back to him. His eyes opened and looked into hers, for a moment wondering if he ought to play dumb, but she... she deserved better than that. "I care about you, Winona. And if he does... us... it wouldn't change that. But... I won't force... I'll make it your choice... I want you, too. So very much. I care about you. No matter what you choose... that will not change."
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:16 PM   #28
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"Come here," she said, her voice warm and her eyes soft. Winona moved to lay on her side atop the cushions, urging Jason to follow her on his own side, the fingers of her hand reaching for him, seeking out his own hand. "You men are so opaque sometimes, or else I'm that bad at reading you. But you should know I care about you, too, and I don't think you'd thank me for keeping your friend as a lover and pretending to you that it isn't true."
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:27 PM   #29
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He moved to lay with her, his fingers lacing with hers. "I never thought you were purposely keeping that from me, Winona. I just figured it was none of my business. What's between us is... And what's between us does not change because of that. And 'that' won't change because of us. It is no surprise that we should both care for you... You are, after all, quite hard not to care about."
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:57 PM   #30
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"I didn't think you were interested, or I might have more gracefully mentioned Rhaegar earlier," she said, her smile pulling at the left side of her mouth, a dimple forming beside it. She released his hand, but only to move her arm around him, fingers slowly moving over Jason's back comfortingly, seemingly unconcerned with the ridges of his scars there. "You were betrothed right after you spent the night with me, and you didn't seem to dislike Parissa. I thought perhaps you were just making a fond memory, guiltless, before you had a young woman's feelings to consider. No one could blame you for that."
Winona Saherazai is offline  
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