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 Fantasy The Settler Queen (Epicurean & Poldaran)

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Epicurean, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    4:43 AM
    The last few utterances had clearly been a lead-up to a decision, and that decision would as always fall to Aonmar. He was not used to this kind of issue. The King had often asked what he would do, but that had been tests, ultimately idle talk. The thought of exposing Marlis to the battlefield was abhorrent. He looked at her, her feminine shapes, and thought of the times when in the bedchamber or in play, he had felt what strength she had. She was a woman – not a frail, dainty one for certain, but still a woman, the bones small, the frame not nearly as sturdy as that of an average man. She was not even as averse to physical activity as many ladies were, but the relentless training knights and soldiers went through wasn’t for nothing, it was done because it was necessary, and she had never had such training. It was doubtful that even with the harshest of training (which, given her position, was out of the question), she could be made into a fighter on par with a Vallan knight or an Ishon rider. There was also health to consider – would not manly pursuits lower her chance of conceiving? Already, Aonmar found himself praying for his seed to take hold each time he went to sleep after they had had their pleasure. To conceive was womanly, and if she strayed from that, would that not take away from her womanhood and potentially keep her from being fruitful? He desperately needed learned men, he needed to know so much more than he did, about anything…

    The only field in which Aonmar felt secure was – the field, the art of war. He had done reasonable to extremely well in anything he had tried in that regard and his judgment had not yet failed him. He tried to imagine his battles with the Ishon so far if Marlis had been there. He would have had victory each time, he would have not only driven them forth, but he would have gained the initiative each time and killed or captured many, many of their number. As an arrow in his quiver, as a weapon, Marlis’s value was enormous. There was no doubt about that from the standpoint of a captain of war. Yet that was not the issue, was it? The issue was whether it was legitimate to see Marlis as an arrow in his quiver, as a piece in the game he played against the Ishon with the well-being, maybe the existence of the Southern Royal Domains at stake. She was his wife and future Queen. It would detract from that position if he dragged her along in battles. Yet if he did, he might secure victories, save fighting men’s lives and thus, doing his duty better. It would be a stain on Marlis and himself, however – if he couldn’t protect her, if he needed her help to fulfil his duty to her and to everyone, the whole bond of allegiance between them was being disturbed. She might even look down on him for it, become unhappy with him. Duty, mores and honor seemed to each demand different things of him, but did not each of those depend on the others? Duty was a large part of honor and duty, honor was a large part of noble mores, and duty was in turn itself entwined with honor and morality. Aonmar had read the ancient sages and the new philosophers a little as a boy – now, for the first time, he wished he had listened better to Demold so that he would now be able to solve this puzzle.

    “Leave us, my lords,” he murmured so quietly he had to repeat the command, something which had never happened to him. “You shall have my decision on the morrow.” The Prince’s gaze lingered on Vodric; was it not dissolute of his old tutor to even make such a proposal? Was not even talking of putting a lady in armor a sign of lawless immorality? He remembered some writers who said that the calamity that had befallen the Old Realm had been caused by such things, by effeminate men and mannish women, disobedient wives, weak husbands, overly mild rulers and rebellious subjects…

    Soon, Marlis and he sat alone. There was silence between them for a while, then Aonmar forced himself to look her in the eye. “I would… have you speak your mind freely,” he began formally. “This is the innermost council, with no soul to hear you but myself. Say what you truly think of this place in which we find ourselves. It concerns your person gravely, and I would hear you without your words being restrained by the presence of others.”
     
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  2. Poldaran

    Poldaran Book Dragon Community Helpers

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    10:43 PM
    Aonmar was solemn, as the occasion warranted. The seriousness of the situation was plain in his manner. Marlis bit her lip as she considered how to respond.

    “I would like to say that the suggestion of myself in the field is preposterous. However…” She paused, meeting his blue eyes. “If I alone am able to find the Ishon and give warning, is there really a choice to be made? Do I not also have a duty as the future queen to see to the wellbeing of the people of our realm?”

    She sighed and looked down at her hands. “I do not like it, my lord husband. I do not feel it is my place, nor that I am well suited for such things.” Swallowing, the Princess continued, “I should be bearing your children, my lord. It worries me that I have yet to even carry. I sometimes wonder if it would not be better for you to take a mistress after all.”

    Marlis shifted and looked back up at him earnestly. “If I can’t bear your children, I should at least be useful to you in the matter of the Ishon.”
     
  3. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    4:43 AM
    Aonmar pressed his breath through his teeth. Marlis had never been like this before, why did she have to start being difficult now? “Don’t be ridiculous,” he snapped, “we have only been married a few months, and stressful ones at that. And what would I do with a bastard? My father has made a house law that only a child born of a royal mother can succeed to the New Realm’s throne. Not to mention the fact that I have no wish for a mistress, as you well know. You will bear children. Anything you do apart from that is not some sort of replacement duty, it is an additional one. That is the issue with which we are faced, by all spirits!” The Prince was close to lay into Marlis even more, but he saw the way she reacted to even this very muted outburst and hated every bit of it. “We should not even be considering this – but what else can we do?” he asked rhetorically, desperately trying to calm his tone but only partly succeeding. “I would have you consider the matter with me, not get side-tracked into other things, important as they may be.”
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018 at 5:03 PM
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  4. Poldaran

    Poldaran Book Dragon Community Helpers

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    Over the course of their admittedly short marriage, Marlis had found Aonmar to be a kind and understanding husband, reasonable in all ways, despite their rocky start and his short temper. When he snapped at her in response to what she had to say, she flinched and averted her gaze.

    How was she to know that a bastard couldn’t inherit? In the Midnight Realm, it was perfectly acceptable for a bastard to inherit when no direct descendants existed from marriage. It was satisfying to hear him state that he did not want a mistress outright, but his implication that she spoke from any perspective other than concern for what needed to be accomplished rankled; she did not want to share him. And how could he possibly know that she would, in fact, bear him the children they, and the very kingdom, desired?

    The way Aonmar spoke to her stirred something rebellious in Marlis. Usually timid in the face of his anger, muted though it was right now, she could not help but lash out at his harsh words to her. Her face flushed in anger as she snapped back at him. “You asked that I speak my mind freely, Your Highness; I was unaware that ‘freely’ meant only those words which you desired to hear.

    “If you think that for one moment I would relish the idea of your having a mistress, you are sorely mistaken. I thought only for the best interests of our joint duty to provide an heir. I was unaware that bastards could not inherit; it is yet another difference between the Midnight Realm and this. A simple correction would have sufficed. I will not suggest such a thing again, I assure you.

    “As to the apparent single matter you wish only to discuss, I have already stated that I do not see that we have much choice. I should not like to have to make this choice, either, but less would I like to have another Ishon catch you unawares. Already, it has been too close for anyone’s comfort. I…” Finally, she faltered, losing some of her anger. “I do not know what I would do if I lost you, my lord. I can only think that the best course of action is to make use of me as you will, as I am needed, and pray to the spirits that if I do conceive during all of this, that the child will not be affected. As all the world knows, such a child would be sickly at best, more likely chaotic and unstable. I should not like to raise such a child to lead the New Realm. It would not be for the good of the kingdom, nor look well upon us to produce such offspring.”
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018 at 5:49 PM
  5. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    Local Time:
    4:43 AM
    Aonmar growled inarticulately, struggling to contain himself. Marlis was infuriating in her insistence to bring up the problems of what had to be done instead of just acquiescing to it. He wanted to berate her more, but what she said last was entirely disarming. The Prince made a throwing gesture. “So be it!” he hissed. “I hate doing this, Marlis,” he admitted, forcibly calming his voice. He ran his hand through his hair. Aonmar was annoyed with himself, he realized – his place in the world was to make decisions, and he had tried to shirk this one. That was a form of weakness that should have been beneath him. “We will fit you for armor; it is necessary for your protection in the field and so you are not so obvious a target. From afar, all men… all folk in armor look alike. You shall not fight – that is, I shan’t make you fight on purpose, even on the field. But you must be armed, and you must learn how.” He scratched his chin. “There is decorum to consider; I shall teach you myself, all else would be improper.” Aonmar sighed and looked at his wife. Vallan noblemen were given wooden knights as their first toys, wooden swords when they could walk, and were encouraged to fight with them. When training began, at six years old, their minds and bodies had already accustomed themselves to fighting. By the time they were fourteen, they were often hard to control, aggressive, cocky. That needed to be toned down over their years of squirehood. At Aonmar’s age, knights were fierce creatures, ideally tempered by honor and duty. Sickly boys who couldn’t start fighting early were at a disadvantage only few managed to fully recoup. “Nobody will expect you to be a knight. It would be improper and unjust. But you can learn how to move with the group and learn sword and pollaxe, learn some dagger, some wrestling, because everyone on the battlefield must be prepared to fight. You already ride very well, the combat turns should not be hard to grasp.” Aonmar shrugged and looked at Marlis. “You shall have to live with that. Everyone else as well.” Quietly, he added: “For our children, we must trust the heavens. We are doing what must be done. Moruanr will protect us.”
     
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  6. Poldaran

    Poldaran Book Dragon Community Helpers

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    Marlis looked at Aonmar skeptically at his mention of Moruanr, the Queen Goddess so recently rediscovered. But, she could not help nodding in agreement. Whether it be the Spirits or a new God of some sort, Marlis did not care, so long as their pleas did not fall upon deaf ears.

    "I do not see why I should need to learn weapons, but… I shall trust your judgment in this. You know such things better than I." She turned to him, sitting next to her, and reached for his hand. "Aonmar, I—"

    The door to the small solar banged open in that moment, startling her from what she was about to say. Rodric stood in the doorway, looking harried. “The Ishon you captured earlier is gone,” he said without preamble. “One of the guards went to bring him food, and the room was empty. I ordered a search, of course, but…” The knight’s eyes fell on Marlis, who’s heart felt like it had fallen to her feet. Nashû’s words from earlier came back to her. If he got away, the Ishon would know about her…

    A repeat of the castle search was done, to similar effect. Nashû was well and truly gone, escaped likely past guards who saw right through him. It was late when the two of them finally retired to bed, both frustrated with the results of the day.

    Dismissing Etta, Marlis pulled off the smock she had worn under her gowns for the day and went to the basin of water next to the door for a quick wash. “I’m sorry the day was so trying,” she said, looking over her shoulder at him as she drew a wet cloth over her front.
     
  7. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    The shutters were closed, yet it did not matter. They were approaching the depths of Winter, the days were short and gloomy, the nights abysmally dark. Aonmar sat on the bed and took unusually long to reply. It felt like he had used up all his restraint for the day, all the discipline. Finally, he found the right words – he was desperate to be conciliatory. He remembered his days as a small boy, when the worst thing that could happen to him was to make his mother angry. These days, it was Marlis with whom he wanted to be on the best of terms. “It was trying not only for me, my love,” he said quietly. “I’ve sent for the armorer to come to the castle tomorrow at noon to take measurements. I’ve been told he knows his craft very well. He learned from Master Irshanot in Bannarth, who makes the armor for my father’s household. Irshanot is Trûsuna.” The Trûsuna were a peaceful, crafty people from the North, so much known for their skills that their name was a widely used expression for crafted goods of high quality. “I should like to start teaching you tomorrow, as well,” he added in a voice clearly indicating that it was best done as soon as possible.
     
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  8. Poldaran

    Poldaran Book Dragon Community Helpers

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    Finishing her wash, Marlis dried herself and put a clean chemise on, covering the goose bumps that prickled her skin in the chill air. Climbing into bed, she snuggled up next to Aonmar under the blankets. She wanted to complain, to tell him it was too soon, that things were moving too quickly. But with Nashû’s disappearance, she knew how important it was that they be ready as soon as she could be. In addition, she didn’t have the energy to have a second argument with him in the same day. He was doing what needed to be done, in addition to his best at trying to keep her safe. A Trûsuna-trained armorer was among the best to be had.

    Instead, she brought up a different worry she had. “Not… not in the courtyard for everyone to see? I’m afraid I should be especially terrible.”
     
  9. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    Aonmar shook his head; he had never intended to do the training in public, fraught with problems as it was. He thought mainly of other things than the aptitude or lack thereof his wife might show. Her position was at risk – as his future Queen, as the lady of the Southern Domains, even as a noble lady from the other Vallan realm. “Dagger and wrestling we can do here; the room is large enough. Sword and pollaxe – perhaps the solar, we shall need the higher ceiling.” The Prince managed a prim smile. “I will do my best to protect you from the effects of what we must do. Such is my duty, and such is my wish.”

    He felt as if Nashû’s escape and the conclusions drawn from it had made it all clear; there was no escaping the pressions of the circumstances. The question was no longer whether to do it or not, but how best to do them, how to keep the damage small while fulfilling the purpose. Aonmar would have to discuss the politics of this war… Marshals could allow themselves the luxury of just conducting the war. Princes had to do more. But that was still far off, and he needed his father’s support for such things in any case.
     
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