View Full Version : keep your bitter truths :: 7/2 :: Evelyn, Open
08-17-2011, 08:05 PM
Her hands were still shaking. The letter's words were inside her now, making her sick. She'd wondered at not hearing back from her brother. She'd sent to him asking which way home and he'd never answered... and that had been the answer.
She'd known it would be. Deep down, she'd known it. But there had been that hope- that last, stupid hope- that he'd do something, send someone to help her. But it wasn't going to come. She and Josiane were alone. They were going to die here, on the whim of a baseborn warlord and his mad followers, because neither of their families cared enough to offer even a silver for their return.
So be it.
Part of her said it was a feint. Just a ruse. It had Blanche's voice and it talked about strategies and how if they thought she was worthless they'd watch her less, maybe even just let her go. A hostage was watched. A hostage was cut into piece and shipped back. A hostage... knew that someone was coming. And that they likely wouldn't be alive to see it. A useless prisoner might just be forgotten...
Costayne had been laughing when he gave her the note. His ugly purple eyes had been dancing in the light. He thought it was funny that she wasn't important to her brother. To any of them. Not even Grayson had sent word.
How long before they decided to make her swear fealty to that horse-faced Severne queen's cancerous stomach? They'd wed her off to some lackey and she'd be his key to Ovador, if they won...
They won't win. Victor will win. He'll win and he'll burn this cursed island to ashes and we'll go home...
Or he won't. It was the other voice, that was low and coarse and she didn't want to hear it. He cares about the crown- if he sees it slipping away he'll let you die while he tries to reach it. You said that was your place- you accepted it. Not so easy when it's real, is it? Still want to die? Still want to watch him dancing with Celeste? He's throwing you away and keeping a Sterlyn whore. Get used to it.
Evelyn closed her eyes as the floor seemed to rock beneath her feet. She reached out to find the wall and leaned against it, clutching the carved head of a nymph for support. It was mid-day and even inside the castle the heat was overwhelming. Just the heat. It got in your head...
08-18-2011, 03:12 AM
It’d taken everything in his power to not punch his doctor, or even do anything to suggest that he’d have loved to do nothing more. The sting that still burned his hand beneath the bandages had been worse than when the glass had broken in his grasp and pierced his skin. Stitched to keep it closed, bandaged to minimize bleeding, it had so far been healing nicely. At least, that was…
It would seem that nothing was going right. First the death of his sister. Then the next day Gespard just vanishes. He was used to his brother just leaving without word, but at a time such as this? And then to be told later by Athena that he was doing a job for her? It was a good thing for them that stabbing them all would just hurt his hand…
The movement out of the corner of his eye had him stop mid-step, and he looked over to see the Castell woman leaning against the wall. She appeared to be ill… But hells if Lazarus cared about her well-being. That woman how marched into Glodhet as if they’d already pledged themselves to her brother, demanding an oath of servitude, and then had the audacity to act surprised when she was denied? It went to show how unfair the world was. Lazarus had just put his sister in the ground… How was it fair that Victor’s was still breathing?
“Are you lost, Lady?” he asked, his voice colder than usual.
08-18-2011, 04:59 AM
"Yes," she answered, without meaning to. Her voice was quiet, nothing of the usual strength to it. Evelyn herself didn't have the usual strength. The war in her head was quieter with someone nearby but... She turned and realized the speaker was Elysia's husband, Lord Shadowmere. The Shadow lord, and the Fire lord... light and dark. Even their castles, Castle Shadow and the White Court... It was like a nursery tale, or a jest of the gods, perhaps. Maybe just a jest of Costayne's ego and Shadowmere pride. She curtsied and tried to think of polite nothings- all those lessons from Blanche and all she could think of was nothing at all.
"But they used to say that everything lost would wash up here, didn't they?" Evelyn shrugged. "Could you.. point me the way to..." Where was I going? Where is there to go? "To... the kitchens?" Maybe they have some cake left. No point worrying about shaming the house by being fat now, since they'll never see me to know.
08-19-2011, 01:34 AM
Lazarus might have said something, but her next words made his throat go dry. Perhaps she had not meant to word it so carelessly. Did she even know his sister had washed up on the shore? Maybe she did know and was being callous on purpose. For her sake, he would give her the benefit of the doubt.
“The halls of White Court are rather labyrinthine,” he said, taking a few slow steps in her direction. “I fear even if I told you the way, you would still be lost. Perhaps, my lady, I shall just show you?”
08-19-2011, 04:53 PM
She saw... something like an actual human expression flicker across Lazarus' face and a split second later she remembered the gossip the maids had talked about. Lord Shadowmere's sister... Evelyn bit her lip and looked away, embarrassed. "Gods be good, I'm sorry. I didn't even--" She trailed off and tried to remember that despite being tossed away she was still a princess. "Accept my apology, Lord Shadowmere. And my... condolences. I would never have used that phrase if I had half a brain left. I think your Glodhetian summer's cooked my wits."
She nodded, and gave a weary smile. "I would appreciate it, my lord. It would be good to have the company- especially company to prevent my getting lost." Evelyn managed a wry laugh. "I'm this close to asking Lord Costayne if he could just put me under guard so I'd have someone at hand to remind me where to go."
08-20-2011, 01:56 AM
As unexpected as the offending comment had been, the apology was doubly so. The contriteness evidently sincere as she even averted her eyes, even for a moment. It was actually fascinating to see the woman display such humility and shame. Perhaps even more fascinating than the regal airs she put on. “I do forgive you, my lady. There was no ill meaning in your words, so it would be irresponsible of me to take offense.”
He half turned, offering his arm to her. “You will learn it soon enough, smart woman like yourself,” he said. “I am certain any member of my House would be happy to offer you any assistance you require. But if it is something you truly wish, to be put under guard, I might be able to speak with Lord Costayne myself,” he said, leading her towards the stairs.
“If you do not mind my asking, my lady, all things considered and set aside, are you all right? I know it must be difficult to be so far from home, but in all of the time that I have seen you, never once have you held that look in your eyes.” He was nothing if not observant, perhaps more so now than before because of Solbra… Damned Sterlyns…
08-20-2011, 02:58 AM
"I lay no claim to intelligence. If I had that, I'm sure I'd have found some escape by now, though really as far as prisons go it's hard to think of one I'd mind being in less."
She laughed as she took his arm, but the sound was tired. "Oh, thank you, but I spoke with Lord Costayne this morning and I'd hate to trouble him further, or yourself, my lord..."
Evelyn looked up at him, meeting his eyes. He was probably an enemy and looking for some way to trip her up, get Costayne to kill her... but what did even that matter now? Make your weaknesses your armor when you can- Blanche's advice. He was Costayne's friend as well as his banner- she knew Shadowmere would know about the letter by the day's end.
"In all honesty it wasn't that hard until today. I knew I would go home eventually- or at least it was easy to pretend it, so it was easy to be here and it was all a sort of mad adventure, I suppose... I even pretended maybe I could sway Lord Costayne to my brother's side again. You can laugh, I know it was a silly girl's plan but it was something to do. But... I find I'm to have quite a while to wander the labyrinth and decipher its mysteries." Evelyn looked away from Lazarus, to the corridor before them.
"I'm disowned," she said softly. "I-I knew... I knew I failed here. I knew he'd be angry but I thought... He's my brother. He told Jaeryth that you might as well kill me, I'm of no use anyway." Evelyn's shoulders slumped ever so slightly. "I only did what he said. I only ever did what he said..." She trailed off, then remembered where and to who she was speaking and swallowed, straightening her posture again. "So. I'm Lord Costayne's to dispense with now, I suppose." She tried for a smile.
"I hope he doesn't decide to toss me in the arena. I doubt I'd make a very good showing against any sort of beast. Maybe a snake? That might be a bit too symbolic, though."
08-20-2011, 03:21 AM
“You do not have to make a claim, my lady. I can tell by looking. There is a very distinct look to one’s eyes if they are in possession of wisdom.” He allowed a smirk while slowly shaking his head. “It is because you do have it that you have not sought an escape.” She knew as well as he did that as long as she remained pliant, she was in less danger in Costayne’s home than outside of it. Glodhet was not a safe place for a Castell woman to wander around by herself.
“It is no trouble if I offered,” he said. “But suit yourself. You know where to find me if you change your mind.”
Evelyn Castell was continuing to surprise him. Though he had expected honesty from her, he had not thought her answer would be so… Well, it was very revealing. In more ways than just the obvious.
For a moment, his heart shattered. He looked into her eyes and saw somebody else’s, crying to him, telling him her fears and her doubts. And in that moment, he found that he really hated Victor Castell. “I do not understand,” he said. They called the island lords the savages? Barbarians who think little of anything besides blood and gold? And yet, he would challenge any of those lords who were brothers to claim they loved their sisters more than he’d loved his own. And they claimed to be the better men?
He opened his mouth to speak but caught himself. He’d almost called her the wrong name. “My lady…” he said as he stopped walking. “The failure was not on your part. That he placed it upon your shoulders is a desperate attempt to alleviate himself of the responsibility of his actions. He should not have sent you here. The failure is his own.” He reached up to put his hand on her shoulder as if he could raise them back up on his own. “And in so doing, my lady, have proven yourself to be more worthy of him than he’ll ever know.”
Lazarus did not know words of comfort. He knew what he would do if this were any other moment and she were in his power. He never kept anybody he didn’t have use for. Though, she was pretty enough. He might have made her into one of his servants. But he could not pretend to know what Costayne would do with her, and he would not lie to her by telling her that Costayne would spare her. “It is not so black and white here,” he said.
08-20-2011, 03:55 AM
She looked up at him. It was not what she'd expected from him. She'd thought he might laugh, even mock her- the gods knew she deserved it. Blanche would have been railing at her stupidity...
"Thank you," she said simply, and she meant it. Then she smiled. "It isn't? Says the Lord of Castle Shadow as he walks the halls of the White Court." She looked around them then. "You are right, Lord Shadowmere: this place is nothing like what it seems on the outside. It's dangerous and gods know I'm glad it's amused Costayne to keep Josiane and I here instead of some of the alternatives... but it's also a bit more honest in its own sideways way. At least I think if you meant to kill me you'd just kill me..."
Evelyn sobered then. "Can I ask a favor? If Lord Costayne does decide to... end my stay here, would you ask him to allow you to handle the arrangements? I'm not afraid of dying but some of his lords have a... reputation." Lord Venarus was said to kill slowly and many of Costayne's captains prized creativity in such things." In the lists of requests she had never imagined she'd make... "I'd rather die quickly, or at least... not extremely slowly."
She smiled then, something of her usual wit returning. "Unless of course he's absolutely set on the snake. I'd hate to spoil a good show."
08-20-2011, 04:17 AM
“Well, I suppose if you look at it that way,” he grinned. “For all its dangers, there’s no place I would rather be. It is a warm home once one has decided to make it so. Much more alive than anywhere I’ve ever seen. And there is a sense of honesty, sometimes cruel, but honest all the same. We may be monsters here, but in truth, all men are. We just don’t apologize for it.”
It was such a strange favor to hear from the lips of such a young woman. It should have been an easy one to say yes to. Maybe even five minutes ago, he’d have humored her. Right now it was just unsettling. His sister died, and here he was about to agree to take the life of another man’s sister should it come to that. Such a strange world… Lazarus would have given anything to see Hermia home. To see her smile, hear her laugh even if it was just once more. And Victor Castell condemned his to die on a foreign land… And yet Evelyn was alive and Hermia was dead… “I will do what I can, my lady,” he promised. “You shall not suffer by my hand.”
He chuckled, starting to walk once again. “Well, we do love our shows. Would be a pity to deny our people.”
08-20-2011, 04:28 AM
And oh, what sorts of monsters. She thought of her own family, and even herself. The courtiers that had danced attendance on the Sterlyns and hated them so fiercely...
Evelyn's smile was sunny. "Thank you for that. I shall owe you incredibly by the time we find the kitchens... I can offer to try my best to wheedle the cook into producing whatever your favorite dessert is? I confess, I've decided to becoming dreadfully addicted to sweets. Not having to worry about upsetting a possible husband by becoming terribly fat is quite a good outcome for all this mess, don't you think?" She actually laughed. "I admire your shows. They put on a few in Joqla for us when we visited, but Gora's got a... wilder flare I think. Less speeches, more blood. I see why your people like it."
08-20-2011, 04:37 AM
“Well, I’ll let you wheedle, and if all else fails, I guess I’ll try my hand at persuasion. I’ve got a knack for getting what I want,” he smirked. But even as he said that, he really had to set his mind to thinking of what his favorite dessert might be. He wasn’t really one who had a sweet tooth. Actually, he wasn’t even one who had a particular preference when it came to food at all. Was just picky about his wine. “You only live once. Might as well enjoy what you can when you can.”
He rolled his eyes when she spoke of Joqla. “I have heard the mainland has put on a few more shows of late. But I suppose I’m much like you. I prefer to skip right to the good part.”
08-20-2011, 04:46 AM
She grimaced. "The mainland hasn't gotten the knack of putting its shows in an arena. The last one was the Scarlet Feast- my beautiful wedding, to lovely Lord Matthias Ashpool." Her nose wrinkled. "I can at least thank my brother for letting that marriage be dissolved instantly." She cocked her head. "No, I guess the last one is that tourney in Solbra. I'm sorry you got caught up in that- the mainland's got no idea how to entertain guests. It could have been worse- you could have been forced to sit through a tea with the ladies of Ovador. I'd take being shot at again over that."
08-20-2011, 04:55 AM
His smile transformed into that of a deep frown at the mention of both the Scarlet Feast and Solbra. Mostly Solbra as that had been the event that had affected him directly. He still had not forgiven the bastards for that. And the Sterlyns wondered why they couldn’t hold Forsilvra together? Because they could barely keep their city. These were not the people meant to be kings. And Matthias… A name he’d heard more times than he cared to say. A name that had haunted him up until he’d slit the throat of that Ashpool bitch. Both were now dead… “It is a wonder there’s anybody left on the mainland, when one thinks about it. But yes, from what I have heard of Lord Matthias Ashpool, it does seem rather clear that he was unfit to be husband to a pigeon, let alone a woman of your caliber.”
Lazarus laughed, trying to imagine an attempt to stay well behaved given such a scenario. “Should I be invited to take tea with the women of Ovador, I suspect it’d be in attempt to poison me. That said, were I forced to take tea with the women of Ovador, I might gladly drink that tea. No offense, of course.”
08-20-2011, 05:20 AM
"I see by your expression you must have had the displeasure of his acquaintance. I apologize for bringing such an unpleasant memory to your attention." Evelyn made a face. "As for the mainland, don't worry. I think the coming war will thin out the remaining people nicely..." She would have said something about Victor's talent for strategy, their family's strength but it died in her throat. There was no point now- she was better off being as far from Castell as possible in this place.
She laughed. "None taken. Believe you me, you wouldn't be the only one picking poison over sugar. Another bright side to imprisonment on Glodhet: I never have to sit through an afternoon with Celeste. Of all the Sterlyns to just keep on miserably surviving it has to be that one."
08-28-2011, 02:05 AM
“Never met him personally,” he admitted. “But I did have the distinct displeasure of knowing his sister. Was wed to my brother up until her treason.” He would speak of it rather plainly. It was not as if he’d murdered her. Matthias was an enemy to the crown and he’d had every right to dispose of her as he saw fit. “Unfortunately they can no more control their war than the former king could control his lords.”
Lazarus managed a smile as he tried to remember what Lady Castell looked like. He did not think he’d actually met her… or seen her. “She must not have been incredibly exceptional. I do not recall her face. But take heart… The Sterlyns are dropping rather quickly. There aren’t many left, and soon Amalthia will need another to set her eyes on.”
08-28-2011, 09:58 PM
She had to think which one Lazarus was meaning, until she remembered the pug-faced girl who had been a Mallory ward after the wedding, and run off... "Ah. Rowan. She's dead then? I never was any good at keeping track of the Ashpools. Your lady wife is quite lovely, of course, but she's of a different branch. She stayed in Trista for a while last fall, until her father returned and called her back."
Evelyn laughed. "You are good at cheering a lady up. I'm sure you would remember her if you saw her- she has this unfortunate puff-face look to her that really is quite unique."
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