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[r. Simply] I move the stars for no one [18+]

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Joined: 6 years ago
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Inhabiting the outskirts of the kingdom had promised peace and solitude, two qualities that nourished Isidor Kristeva’s introverted soul. The location permitted him the space that he needed to study and work his craft, where he answered to no one, and no one got in his way. Whether he woke up to the sun or rain, he knew he could count on the stillness of his study, and the calm over his ritual morning tea.

What he hadn’t counted on was that living off the grid did not necessarily guarantee anonymity, nor did it put him out of sight of bigger and more powerful people. So when the men arrived that morning, in their uniforms and with their weapons, he was not only caught wholly unawares, but wholly unprepared.

“Isidor Kristeva,” one of the soldiers read from the coiling parchment in his hands, mispronouncing the alchemist’s last name. “You are hereby summoned into the employ of His Royal Majesty King Ferant of the Jendryng Dynasty, ruler of the Hilofen Empire, in preparation for the impending war against the enemy Kingdom of Brigovia. You are to report immediately, on this day, to become acquainted with your assigned duties. You are permitted to bring anything of value or importance as you see fit to facilitate your relocation to—”

“Wait—please, I don’t understand.” Isidor held up a hand, his sharp mind processing this news one fact at a time. It didn’t make sense, and it didn’t sit well with him. “I don’t… Technically, I don’t serve the king. My home is not located within the Hilofen Empire; this is the Outbound. And isn’t the Outband fair game for anyone?”

The two soldiers exchanged a glance that suggested they thought the alchemist to be truly daft. This time, the one who had not spoken previously opened his mouth. “I see no garden here. Nor any cattle or animals of any sort. This suggests you purchase your provisions. Would we be wrong to think that?”

“I… well, no. I mean—”

“And how does a man who works for himself, with no garden to livestock, afford to provision himself?” The soldier went on, bushy eyebrows knitting together. “Unless you do turn lead into gold—which, I am sure I don’t have to tell you, is illegal. Explain, alchemist.”

Whatever colour tinted Isidor’s pale face drained at the accusation. “No, absolutely not! Lead into gold is a myth, the properties just—”

“Then how do you feed and clothe yourself?”

“I trade. Once a month. Typically trinkets that I make, small things easy enough to carry—l-like music boxes with tunes that change from daylight to nighttime. If you’d like to see one—”

But the soldiers would hardly let him get a word in. “And where do you trade?”

“I trade… I mean, I’ve no horse, and the closest markets are…” He paused, realizing too late that he’d been cornered. “The Hilofen Empire.”

“Trade within the Hilofen Empire results in automatic pledge to its king.” The first soldier to speak leveled Isidor with a fierce and no-nonsense gaze. “You have benefitted from its lands and its people. Now it is time for the Hilofen Empire to benefit from you. The consequences of refusing summons will result in your arrest.”

“Arrest?” Isidor bulked, staggering backward a step. “But for what? I’ve broken no law within the perimeters of the land, I am guilty of no crime!”

Once again, the soldiers exchanged a glance. This one had nothing to do with the alchemist; it suggested uneasiness in what they were about to say. “We are under orders to arrest you for use of magic, disguised as it is in your craft of alchemy, should you refuse this summons.”

“Magic?” The heat of thinly suppressed fury that crept into his cheeks rapidly drained in silent panic. “But that’s—it’s wrong, ludicrous, alchemy is primarily a science! Everything about it, all of its principles, it isn’t… it’s not magic!”

“I’m afraid that is not for you to decide. Either way, you will be coming with us today,” the other man added. “Whether or not it will be with your hands bound is up to you. I implore you to make the right decision, Mr. Kristeva.”

The choice he was being given wasn’t a choice at all. Either way, he would be forced to abandon the safety and comfort of his stone tower in the Outbounds. His craft would no longer be for him, but for someone else he had no reason nor desire to trust. He would find himself behind bars in a cold cell, or continuing his studies and practice… albeit without the solitude and peace that his private life in the Outbounds offered.
The practice of magic had been outlawed in the Hilofen Empire for far longer than he had been alive, and had, in part, influenced his decision to inhabit the land beyond the kingdom’s boundaries. Not because he practiced magic, but for the fact that so many misconceptions surrounded his craft that he hadn’t wished to answer to the authorities for it. The king, at least, appeared to understand it as a science, or else Isidor could not understand why he was being summoned into royal employ. And yet, the man was vindictive enough to punish him for it, should he refuse… To think, just yestreen, he’d been relishing in the thought of the coming of summer, and the blue ivy that would climb the outer walls of his tower. No foliage in the Hilofen Empire could ever compared to the untainted beauty of the Outbounds, where nature offered itself to humanity, instead of being picked and plucked and controlled by humankind.

There was no choice to make. The decision had already been made for him.

Swallowing a dry lump in his throat, the alchemist’s shoulders slumped, chin-length black hair falling around his face as he bent his head. “How long should I expect to be away from my home, should I find myself in the king’s employ?”

Both soldiers shrugged. “Your guess is as good as ours. Regardless, I’d pack for an extended stay.”

Precisely what he’d feared. “Then I will need some time. Without materials and references, I will be of no use to the king.”

“Pack what you need, then. But by sundown, if you’re not done, then you’ll have to make due leaving some things behind.”

Badly shaken and more afraid than he cared to admit, Isidor Kristeva gathered the majority of his stock of materials from his study, clothes, books, and instruments alike, and the few clothes he’d collected in his wardrobe. Meanwhile, his mind occupied itself with undulating thoughts of his uncertain future, and, astoundingly, of his bothers. Vitali would never find himself ensnared in such a trap, he thought in the bitter voice of his mind, and not without jealousy. Lias is disarming enough that he could talk his way out of it. Why must misfortune seek me when I do nothing to incur its wrath!

By midday, all necessary provisions were packed atop the carriage in which the soldiers had arrived, and Isidor ran out of moments to delay. And it was with a heart both heavy and racing that he cast a glance over his shoulder of his home for the very last time.
“You finally ready, alchemist?” One of the soldiers called, taking their seat at the front of the carriage. “Get in; if we hurry, we can make it back to the city before dusk.”

Isidor never would have thought he’d hope for an ambush on the dark trails back to the kingdom. But the concept of being attacked frightened him far less than the prospect of appearing before the king of the Hilofen Empire.


Nightfall was not far off by the time the carriage came to a stop. Isidor’s trepidation wasn’t far off, either, winding his muscles tight as a spring the moment he stepped out and beheld the palace. The expanse of the architecture was as frightening and overwhelming as it was breathtaking, nothing like the close confines of his own, small tower beyond the woods. It brimmed with energy of staff that worked around the clock, and made no show of modesty, built as it was with materials which, even at first glance, the alchemist could confirm cost a pretty coin on the market. 
Before he knew what was happening, his gaze of the edifice before him was obstructed by men, far taller and muscular than he was, carrying his belongings from the carriage and in through a side door—the servants’ entrance and exit, he guessed. “Where are they taking my property?”

“To your room. I suggest you follow them.” Replied one of the soldiers, turning in back in a nonchalant motion that indicated he was wiping his hands of the alchemist as his responsibility.

Isidor was far from placated from this not-so-warm welcome. To add insult to injury, something in his peripheral vision stopped him in his tracks. “Wait—those are my clothes. Why are they being taken elsewhere?”

But to that question, he received no answer, and was simply nudged towards a winding staircase that brought him several flights up into the palace. The walls were lined with lit sconces, the only source of light, and meagre, at that. And the room to which he was at last directed wasn’t much better. “It’s so small…” The alchemist commented, which was significant, coming from someone whose previous living conditions had not extended far beyond the necessities of life. But even in his small tower, there had been room enough in his chambers for a bookshelf and a desk, as well as a chair in the event that he felt inclined to conduct his work outside of this study. This room had a window that was too small, no desk, no chair, no bookcase. Just a bed, a nightstand, and a wash basin and cloth across from the foot of the bed. He was hardly two feet into the room, and already felt the cloying tug of claustrophobia.

“Get used to it,” an older man—by the looks of him, a servant—said, handing him a dingle candle stick as a source of light. “You’ll see your study tomorrow morning. I suggest you get some sleep; don’t expect you’re to be awake after dawn, here.”

At that, Isidor was left alone, with little more than the clothes on his back, in an unfamiliar room. Try though he might to heed the weary servant’s advice, it was only a few hours from sun-up by the time he actually managed to fall asleep.

The alchemist had suspected that he’d be in for a rude awakening; what he hadn’t realized was just how rude. Dawn had not touched the tops of the trees when a woman who looked to be in her mid-forties practically burst through his door, wide awake and no-nonsense. “Up with you—hurry, now! We haven’t all morning, your audience with the king is in but a few hours.”

She was lucky that Isidor hadn’t let out a scream, startled as he was by this overbearing woman, who grabbed him by the arm and forcibly dragged him from his bed. “Wh-what is going on? Unhand me!”

“You need to bathe, we need to take care of your hair, and then put you in some suitable clothes. It won’t do to have the king’s own alchemist looking and smelling like a peasant.”

The king’s own alchemist. Not even twenty-four hours, and already he was no longer his own person. “I bathe almost every day,” he argued, tugging his arm from the stocky woman’s firm grip. “What’s wrong with my clothes? Or the way I smell?”

“Everything. Now come on!” The woman all but grunted, far less happy that Isidor was her task than the soldiers had been. Yet he’d done nothing but cooperate thus far, and thus feared their wrath, should he choose otherwise.

The servant woman led him down two flights of stairs and into a common bathing room, the tubs only separated by tattered curtains. “You’ve got five minutes to scrub yourself down,” the servant told him, shoving a cotton robe into his arms. “Any longer, and all the worse for you: I raised three sons and have no qualms against whatever state you might be in.”

He could have said the same thing about his own, estranged mother, but the woman’s threat didn’t go unheeded. The water was freezing, but Isidor scrubbed his face and body head to toe, not even bothering to dry off before donning the robe just in time for the middle-aged woman to return. At the sight of scissors in her hand, he balked, stumbling backwards, and nearly falling back into the water. “What do you mean to do with those?”

“Your hair is an uneven mess; looks like you cut it in the sleep, and isn’t fir for the court,” came her terse response. “Now get over here and sit your arse down. I suggest you stay still, I’ve been known to nick an ear every so often.”

So the last of Isidor’s carefully cultivated dignity fell with the clumps of dark hair, gathering around his bare feet in broken pieces of pride. When at last the woman (whose name he still didn’t know) put the scissors down, he frantically brought a hand to his head, relieved that the locks still remained, but no longer fell to his shoulders. “Can’t put a wreck back together,” the servant sighed, placing her hands on her hips, “but it will do. There’s an outfit waiting for you in your chambers; better hurry. Someone should be by to collect you in an quarter hour.”

Without breakfast, or his ritual morning cup of tea, Isidor’s mind was a fog a he fumbled with the buttons of a deep lavender overcoat that felt too stuff to be worn as an article of clothing. He’d barely managed to properly fold back the cuffs of his sleeves when there was a knock of his door. “Isidor Kristeva,” a tall, older man in a gold-lined tunic addressed him. “You are hereby summoned before the presence of His Royal Majesty King Ferant of the Jendryng Dynasty. If you are quite ready, please follow me.”

The next hour of Isidor’s hectic life was a blur of gaudy decorations, bright colours, pompous introductions and an even more pompous figurehead. For all the trouble the king of Hilofen had gone to all the trouble of ‘hiring’ him as the court’s alchemist, the man had been very terse, vague, and laissez-faire about the task he meant to place on the shoulders of his new employee. Weapons, Isidor thought, walking away from the summons with a tired mind and a dark mood. He wants weapons. Unbeatable, indestructible weapons. But no mysticism: that was the only point upon which the king had been clear. Magic was to have no place in what he would have Isidor do, and were he to find out otherwise, then the alchemist would be subject to punishment. The man had not elaborated on that fact, but had instead chosen to end the summons on that intimidating note, before having the alchemist escorted from the throne room.

Frankly, he hardly felt that the nature of that meeting had warranted a change in his appearance. Happening to glance at himself in the expanse of a gilded mirror on his way down one of the corridors, he’d noted with a good deal of relief that he merely looked the part of a less unkempt version of himself. Alone at his home in the Outbounds, he’d seldom spared a care for physical aesthetic, save for that trip he made once a month to trade at the markets. Now, he was in the eye of the monarchy, and was thus not only obligated to watch his actions, but his physical appearance, as well.
Yestreen, he’d thought his tiny bedroom to be suffocating. But it was a sanctuary, compared to the discomfort he felt, passing servants and noblemen alike down winding hallways and up spiraling staircases. The last thread of his patience was pulled so taut at this point that he’d all but snapped at the man who’d told him he would be escorted to his private study. “Thank you, but I am sure I will find it on my own.”

Whether or not the alchemist had overestimated his skills of general navigation and orienteering, or underestimated the labyrinthine layout of the palace was irrelevant. Either way, the young man soon found himself somewhat lost, dressed the part of someone who belonged, when he very clearly did not.

“Where in hell am I…” The words were sighed, unbidden, and held more meaning than they let on. One day ago, he’d been taking tea at his kitchen table. One day ago, he had woken up to the sun and looked forward to the day’s accomplishments. One day ago, he had been Isidor Anatoliy Kristeva. Now, he was merely another servant to a man for which he cared nothing, working for a cause he felt wholly against, and his identity was only as good as the ghost of the person he’d been the day before.


Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:45 pm
by Simply
The Queen was exhausted. Her hair clung to her neck with the sticky salty sweat she had been releasing for the past hours. Then the baby cried and she relaxed, smiling, breathing heavily. The midwife wrapped the babe in a starch, white cloth, wiping the remnants of the womb off of the screaming girl’s face. “A girl, your Majesty. She is beautiful and healthy.” The Queen’s smile widened, though the exhaustion remained at the corners wearily. Yet, it did not linger for long. Another contraction hit her and she looked at the midwife by her feet, startled. “Vera?” She inquired, shakily. The woman handed the babe off to another attendant and began to inspect the Queen. The maid cradled the child and began to clean her, taking care of the crying child. Her eyes widened and she drew her gaze upward to Jehannette’s, the laboring Queen. It was evident that she did not know how to proceed as a contraction rippled through the womb. 

“What’s wrong with her?” Another maid asked, eyes frantically searching the room as though it would reveal the answer to her. 
“There’s another child.”

“A what?” The woman responded incredulously, followed by a grunt of anguish from Jehannette.
“A twin.” The midwife whispered as the queen pushed the second child out. The attendant handed her a clean, white cloth and the second babe was wrapped tightly in the material. The queen slumped back as two heirs wailed in the large chamber.
“What do we do with twins?” The maid asked. “They’re cursed.” Silence clung to the air like a foul stench, stretching into all of the open spaces in the heated room. 

“They are not cursed.” The voice of the queen shook as she spoke, not opening her eyes. The weight of her command still carried through the distance separating the three individuals. “They are my children. They are the royal children. Give them to me.” The last sentence was firm and final.

Immediately, the midwife and the attendant brought both babes to their mother and they began to settle down. As Jehanette looked down at both of her beautiful daughters, the King entered the chamber, followed by a number of attendants and stopped dead when his dark eyes met the pale ones of his beloved wife. 

The conversation that had ensued between the Queen and King had not been their most pleasant but in the end, the Queen’s persuasiveness was powerful. Twins were taboo. They were rumored to possess abnormal magical powers, as they were one soul sharing two bodies. They were powerful enough to survive what all other people could not – prior to the abolishment of magic. All other individuals were incapable of surviving such a catastrophic event. Peasants of the kingdom openly abandoned the second child on hillsides and mountain slopes or pushed them out into lakes and rivers. Nobles had slightly more subtlety about their superstitions, bribing the midwives to secrecy and spiriting the twin away to a quiet death. 

The compromise had been difficult and it did not leave the Queen feeling particularly amicable towards her husband for weeks following. Their children would be permitted to live in the castle and be educated, raised as heirs to the throne. Upon their twenty-second birthday, they would be judged on their accomplishments. One would be chosen as heir and the other…would be banished, sent to live in the Outbound or far beyond, never permitted to return. The bargain was hard. Upon Jehanette’s death when the girls’ were four years old made it all the more difficult. Their father was a stern man and drove them to exhaustion with his lessons and tasks designed to discern the weak from the strong.


“Again.” The word was razor sharp, perfectly coordinated with the harsh snap of a walking stick against the cedar wood of the table two young women resided at. One of them jumped and the other merely glowered. The expression was quite unbecoming on her youthful face. The imperfection of their calligraphy reflected hatefully back in the whites of their eyes. Every letter had already been written painstakingly over one hundred times and still they did not meet the expectations their father had placed on their education.

A slender candle replaced the one that had melted away inside the polished silver candlestick holder. “Begin.” Their tutor uttered, lighting the candle. Her Royal Highness Princess Alaiscina Carenza drew the brush upwards swiftly and dipped it into the inkwell. Each letter formed with every flicked of the hairs bound by the purplish ink. Hastily, she created the alphabet for the one-hundred-and-first time. The light of the candle flickered once and then twice and extinguished. “Cease.” Delicate fingers released the bone handle she had been holding, listening to the soft “tink” it made on the cedar. Though it was a gentle noise, in her mind it echoed like the firm thud of an executioner’s blade against the block. 

“Well done, Luciane. The arches here and here, “ the words were emphasized with the pressure of his finger above the curve of the letter A and C, “are positively beautiful.” Princesses did not roll their eyes in the presence of other individuals, so Alaiscina kept hers firmly focused on her own handwriting before her. “We shall have you showing the Ostician monks how to inscribe their tomes in a matter of a fortnight.” The older twin beamed with enthusiasm and a slight condescending smirk in the direction of her sister. The instructor hovered over Alaiscina’s work and she could practically hear the frown forming on his lips, though she could not imagine at what. Her letters looks remarkably better than her twin’s – yet she was not the favorite of her father and so neither was she the chosen student of her tutors. His critiques fell on deaf ears, though she nodded her head repentantly. “You are done for the day. We will proceed with calligraphy tomorrow at daybreak and Master Jerrard will see you immediately following for linguistics. Following luncheon, archery will be with held in the east courtyard with Master Verone.”

With the oppressive lessons concluded, Alaiscina and her older sister departed the small library with the calligrapher left behind. Luciane’s smirk dangled on her lips like a delicate flower hanging from a vine. “Bested again, dear twin.” The strongest difference between the identical pair was the sound of their voices. Lucaine’s carried the emphasis and command that their father’s did, with a prick of cruelty to it. Alaiscina’s was soft and gentle, honed from years of soothingly humming at her windowsill. A pair of crystalline blue eyes darted to their duplicate pair and her brow furrowed.

“Your words of encouragement never fail to embolden me, Luci.” Alaiscina responded, brushing back her hair from its place against her chest. The delicate curl bounced once in protest and settled against her back. 

“Stop being a simpering fool. You should devote more of your time to your studies rather than dawdling about the castle doing gods knows what. Possibly researching to figure a way to avoid the inevitable.” The inevitable was Lucaine’s favorite way to reference their final test, lingering on the edge of their minds at all times. It waited for them a mere eleven months in the future. Each time the younger heiress considered her fate, it made her stomach turn. The thoughts left her unable to eat for days on end. At her sister’s mention of the event, she was unable to keep her slender hand from venturing to her stomach in anticipation of her dinnerless evening to come.

“Your obsession with the forbidden arts will bring you trouble sooner than you might anticipate.” Alaiscina responded, before stopping at the T-intersection of two of the hallways of the castle. “And here I leave you to go ponder my ultimate demise.” Alaiscina said, narrowing her eyes at her sister as the twin smirked delightedly. Lucaine departed in a swish of skirts and the persistent aura of superiority. Leaving her twin behind and attempting to ignore the dark notions of her future, Alaiscina realized that her father’s newest trinket was arriving today. The briefing the heiress had received from her manservant had been that King Ferant successfully recruited a well-known alchemist from the Outbound. This man was reportedly capable of concocting and fabricating miraculous instruments for the kingdom’s war with their neighbor. Utilizing this new asset’s knowledge would turn the tide of the war that had been raging openly and behind closed doors for nearly five centuries. Already whispers were circulating that the man was a magician - and he had not yet arrived! Courtly gossip never ceased to amuse Alaiscina. She smiled to herself as she strolled absentmindedly along the corridors. 

Imagine though, if he was a magician. The thought sparked her imagination and caused her heart to thrill like a spring bird in her chest. Between white teeth, her lip was rocked back and forth as the romance of magic caught her interest. Oh, it was all fantasy, of course. Magic was forbidden by royal decree and had been completely eradicated from every single crevice and mountaintop of the kingdom. The Jendryng Dynasty was marked by complete devotion to scientific advancement and the pursuit of knowledge. Yet, occasionally, the youngest child of the King would find herself imaging the fantastic spells and enchanted world that excised a millennia ago. Lost in her thoughts, only the unfamiliar voice jarred her from her reverie.

“Not in hell, I hope.” The princess responded to the question that was not meant to have an answer. A delighted smile at meeting a fresh face drew itself on her face. “Though many courtiers may agree with your assessment.” She came to a complete stop, clasping her hands together in front of her. The movement made a crease in the shimmering azure fabric of her gown. “I might be able to assist you finding your way around this maze. Where are you hoping to be?” Intelligent eyes scanned his face, taking in the soft tan of his skin, framed by dark hair that was evidently freshly trimmed. 


Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:47 am
by Requiem
Isidor jumped. There was no way to recover gracefully from such a knee-jerk reaction; he couldn't make as if to pick something up, for he held nothing, the only objects on his person being the gawdy articles of clothing that he had been given that morning, and frankly, he was far too tired to try and save face. 
"I..." In the short time since he'd arrived, the young alchemist had encountered far more intimidating personnel than Alaiscina. The cherubic shape of her face and disarming smile, in fact, made her the least intimidating person he'd encountered in the past twenty-four hours. Unfortunately, that did not inspire adeptness to social exchange.

The flush that crept into his cheeks make up to a degree what he lacked in colour, due to stress and lack of sleep. "I... apologize. I was just thinking out loud, but..." Perhaps it was that he was dumbfounded to find someone in this accursed place that wished to be helpful of their own free will. Or, perhaps it was that the overly independent young man simply wasn't used to asking for help, that it took him a single, solid minute to articulate his conundrum. "I was sent here to serve His Royal Majesty King Ferant as... well, I'm an alchemist. I already know where my chambers are, but I'm rather at a loss in finding my study... I don't suppose you could point me in the right direction?"

Isidor couldn't help but shake the feeling that he was asking the wrong person--not for the possibility that she might not know where he had been assigned to work, but that, despite her offer, it likely wasn't her job to be of help. The servants in this palace dressed similar to him... or, at least, the way he used to dress. Commoners. But this girl, with her intricately plaited flaxen hair, and the gold-embroidered trim of her gown... The young alchemist at least had the sense to recognize she was no servant. 
As to her title otherwise... well, he still couldn't really hazard a guess. Just how many well-dressed people had answered to, been pushed aside by, or passed in the hallway since his arrival? She could have been a noblewoman of any give descent.

That said, it probably wasn't even his place to be talking to her.

"I... i-if you'd prefer, you could just... I mean, I certainly don't expect you, miss, to..."
Hopeless. Some asserted that Isidor Anatoliy Kristeva was an eccentric genius; he knew his craft better than he knew himself, and had yet to encounter limits to his skills. But with those years and years of isolated study, he'd sacrificed another crucial part of human existence; that being, acknowledging that other people existed. Up until now, he'd never realized the impact it would have on his conduct.
Pressing a slow sigh from his lungs, Isidor gave a slow shake of his head. "Perhaps... nevermind. I'm sorry if I've bothered you, miss..." Before he could make a further fool of himself, the young alchemist turned away, contemplating whether to take east or west at the divided corridors.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:42 pm
by Simply
The moment the disoriented man opened his mouth and began to stumble through his response, Alaiscina had to resist the urge to allow her smile to grow. The exorbitant amount of courtly grace that she had acquired throughout her twenty-one years of life was now employed in preventing her from displaying her amusement. This new addition to her father’s ever expanding team of researchers had evidently not interacted with other humans very often. It led to such an charming level of discomfiture on his part, but the princess managed to keep a simple, appropriately sized grin on her face as he continued to attempt to explain his predicament to her.

“Ah,” She murmured when he turned it back on her, trying to discern where he would find his study. “So you’re the infamous alchemist who has the court whispering behind their hands.” Rose lips curled further upward, pushing her round cheeks closer towards her eyes, resulting in an adorable squint to her crystalline eyes. As he stuttered along, the heiress knew that he had absolutely no idea that she was the King’s daughter. Well, it wasn’t precisely something that the man needed to know right now. It would make it all the more awkward for him if he was to discover who she was, at least at this particular moment.

Miss. She hadn’t been called miss since…ever. It was so beneath her station that it was delightful to hear him say it, as though she was a lowly courtier in service of the kingdom. The thought had crossed her mind many times, especially if she was supposed to be exiled following The Trial. Pushing it from her mind, she focused on the retreating man. “I do wonder.” She began, following him, as it was the direction of the study. She has walked past its construction the previous week, when her father was avidly preparing for the arrival of his next great genius. “I do wonder if you can truly turn lead into gold.” Part of her smile fell, leaving her smirking and gazing at him carefully.

“We will need to take the next left, towards the western wing, if you are hoping to arrive at the newly constructed alchemist’s lair.” Never did her smile waver from her mouth, her thin upper lip nearly disappeared above her white teeth. “Fortunately for you, I happen to be heading to Master Bellavue’s chambers in order to retrieve some herbal concoctions he is testing to lighten my hair. His workroom is quite close to yours, I believe.” It sounded so shallow of a mission, though it was not entirely the truth. Master Bellavue was the herbalist and he was working with Alaiscina to help change her appearance. After all, word of the princesses beauty had spread beyond the Outbound and into neighboring countries. She wanted to disguise herself as best as possible after the lost their final test. Confidence was something she possessed, but the youngest child of the king was also a realist. Lucaine was faster and far more conniving than her twin – as well as belove by their father. The most probably outcome was Alaiscina’s defeat. 

“If you wouldn’t mind my company, that is. I would ever so hate to impose my companionship on you.”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:26 pm
by Requiem
"Infamous? Not twenty-four hours, and already infamy has found me..." Pushing the troubling though from his mind, he refocused on the noblewoman. "I... well, if you happen to be heading in the same direction..." Companionship? Impose? Was it really companionship if it had to be composed? Looking at the well-dressed young woman, and comparing it to the peasant that he still was, for all intents and purposes. Neither imposition nor companionship were the first things to come to mind when he considered their differing positions; in fact, he feared reprimand for so much as speaking with her. But if no one else would help, and she knew where he was to be...
Hazarding a half smile, Isidor shook his head."No, not at all--if anything, I'm posing on a place where I clearly do not belong. If you could show me where I am to go... I would gratefully put myself in your debt, for a little help." 

Hoping that last humbling piece of gratitude would not come back to haunt him, Isidor accepted her offer, cutting a left as he followed Alaiscina down the corridor. Sunlight streamed through the abundance of tall windows, forcing him to squint. Not that the alchemist didn't appreciate sunlight; but his small tower had, relatively, far fewer windows, for the fact that too much light distracted from his work. But this was but a small annoyance compared to the overall acclimatization of life in a palace, let alone life in a place that condemned magic.
All the better to find this 'lair' and confine himself to it, unless otherwise ordered. This truly was hell, for a man with magic--or at least, adeptness to it--in his veins. 

"...and, incidentally, I cannot turn lead into gold," he added as an afterthought as he brought a hand up to his brow, shielding his onyx eyes from the sunlight. Such juvenile misconceptions... Is this truly what the king thought he could do? For if that were the case, he would be in for an unpleasant slice of reality. "Alchemy is all a matter of balance and of transmissible and compatible properties. Simply because gold and lead might share certain qualities, in their texture and shape, for example, does not make them compatible for transmutation. I can, however, give lead the appearance of gold, albeit only temporarily. Very seldom do alchemical transformations prove to be enduring. It was never lead's destiny to be gold; eventually, it will diminish to its former properties, depending on the skill of the..." One glance at Alaiscina's wide blue eyes pulled his words to a halt. What was he doing? What right had he to expect her to indulge him in gaining a more realistic comprehension of his craft?

Colour crept into Isidor's cheeks as he hastily returned his gaze to the hallway before him. "I guess this is neither the time nor the place, nor the subject matter that you'd prefer," he offered as an embarrassed apology, anxiously fiddling with the cuffs of his sleeves. "Though... why would you wish to change the colour of your hair? It's already aesthetically pleasing, the way it catches the sun." Both a compliment, as well as an objective observation, on the alchemist's part. Alaiscina would never find someone more willing to be upfront and honest. "Regardless, I would take care with herbal concoctions. Some can cause irritation; simply squeezing lemon juice into your hair and exposing it to a considerable amount of sunlight might just achieve the same ends."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:47 pm
by Simply
Everything he was delving into was much over her standard comprehension of alchemy, though she could follow the words easily enough. As part of their training for The Trial (as Alaiscina had taken to calling it in her head to make it feel more romanced than it was in actuality), the twins had studied basic alchemical properties. The basics of what he was describing made sense to her, though his decision to discuss a simple teasing question in complete depth left her with widened blue eyes. He clearly recognized her startled expression and ceased in his elaborate explanation of the inability to turn basic lead into shiny, shimmering gold. It was astonishing, the amount of knowledge that he could drop so easily into a conversation with the princess, someone he didn’t know. It prodded her to recognize his inabilities at social engagement, but she was too intrigued to notice it any further. The blush that rose against his tanned cheeks resulted in her replacing the surprised parting of her lip with a gentle smile.

Shortly thereafter, however, it was her turn to blush. The compliment forced her eyes downward, but only for mere seconds before she composed herself. They walked along, the sunlight truly catching the bright streaks in her hair and the faint glistening powder on her cheeks. “Simply because I am a woman, it does not mean I prefer conversing about hair color over the complexity of the principles of transformation.” She said so with a large smile and held her hands up slightly, smooth palms facing outward. “I merely jest, alchemist. You suggestions may prove helpful.” The smile continued to play on her face as she began to slow her pace, scrutinizing the exteriors of the chambers that they were passing. While she knew the general vicinity of his study, she couldn’t recall precisely which one it was. The brunette was certain that once she saw it, she would be able to recognize it without difficulty.

Alaiscina was careful not to answer his question as to why she wanted to change her appearance. It may not be wise to discuss her plans with a man that may very well be in her father’s employ physically and mentally. While she found their conversation intriguing, she trusted very few individuals that she met in this damned place. Most reported directly to the king in all matters – which books she was reading, how many strolls she took in the gardens, when she was on her mooncycle and so on. 

“Ah!” She said with pleasure, abruptly pausing before a large oak door with metal strips across it. She remembered the metal strips distinctly, as the inside of the door was completely lined with lead, sealing the room. Her father had it specially crafted the quarters when his spies had learned the location of the alchemist he had sought. It had taken only a few weeks to completely outfit the area he was to use to fabricate extensive weaponry for the dynasty’s usage. “Seems I knew where I was going afterall.” She took a few steps past the door and turned to face the dark eyes of her companion. “Your study awaits,” she motioned with one hand, “and I believe that this is where we will part ways.” Alaiscina almost left it at that and a slight quirk of her brow was the only indication that she had decided otherwise. “Perhaps we shall run into each other again. I may even come seek your advice on matters of beauty enhancement options.”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:29 am
by Requiem
"Oh! No, Miss, I-I never meant to imply..." Well, wasn't this just his luck. In an attempt to turn the conversation towards a topic that was more accessible and, frankly, relevant to the young woman's life, Isidor feared that it had instead turned the tables and indirectly insulted her. Never had to worry about this back in the Outbounds... not when there was never anyone around about whom to worry. "What I mean to say is... Or, rather, what I'd meant in changing the subject was simply to discuss something that I thought to be more relevant to your situation, given that you brought it up, Miss. Not to you gender or position, I implore you to believe..." Not that it really mattered whether or not she believed him; the chances of seeing the same person twice in an edifice this size seemed statistically unlikely.

But just as his worries began to peak, the young woman grinned and held up her hand. Jest? So she had been... joking? For a brief moment, it was the alchemist's turn to feel offended. This was like a jungle to him, unexplored territory where he hardly felt he knew the palace's vernacular, let alone knew how to communicate to its denizens, and yet she sought to toy with him by putting forth jokes in the guise of disapproval?
Well, now he knew how the rich spent their time. Perhaps there was some truth in that too much money attracted boredom.

That temporary bitterness was quick to dissipate, however. Isidor came to an abrupt stop as his impromptu guide indicated the door that, as it turned out, belonged to his study. Lairs are for dragons... he thought, but did not hesitate to grip the handle--pewter--and reveal the place where he would be spending the majority of his time from then on. The alchemist was met with a good deal of surprise, paired with a hint of discomfiture. The room behind the door frame bore a striking resemblance to his personal study back in the Outbounds, in part due to the books and equipment that he had been permitted to take with him, but also in the lay out. One desk, one tall window, two chairs, and four bookshelves.
It was as if whoever had designed the room had known him as well as he knew himself.

"This is..." Isidor bit his lip, unable to find quite the right descriptor. Finally, he settled on, "This will do. You have my gratitude for helping me find it." For perhaps the first time, the smile that the young alchemist offered his guide was genuine, reaching his eyes. "My studies haven't delved deep into, ah... the realm of aesthetics, but if I can be of any help to you whatsoever, then by all means, I will do my best. Thank you, again, for your help." And if he'd been at all socially inclined, he might have thought to leave her with his name.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:28 am
by Simply
As the lesser princess retreated towards Master Bellavue’s door, just four down from where she left the alchemist to explore his new domain, she pondered how peculiar the man was. He certainly did no understand the social niceties of court and was also visibly perturbed by her jest. Alaiscina decided that she would have to be more literal in his presence, should they ever interact with each other in the future. Her fist rapped on the door and grumbling was heard on the other side, intermixed with shuffling and the clink of glasses. The wood parted from the stone frame in which it resided and a brown eye shadowed by hairy brows peeked through.

“Alais!” The grumbler exclaimed, moving aside so that she could ease her way in. The door clicked shut and they discussed her true purpose in hushed tones behind the thick walls of the herbalist’s chamber.

A few short hours later, the princess emerged. The bright chestnut of her hair remained unaltered and clear blue eyes flicked up and down the hall. Her steps resumed their usual air of superiority and slipped through the corridors. The rest of the day was passed in calm respite in the gardens. Two ladies-in-waiting hovered a few paces away, whispering and giggling behind their fans. Occasionally, another noble would stroll along the paths that curled and weaved through the hedges. They would nod to her, if she happened to glance upwards at their passing. Most of the court could not tell the twins apart and paid them both the respect they deserved as though they were the prized daughter of the king. If they bothered to spend enough time with either of them, they would have discovered that Alaiscina had two small moles on her left cheek that Lucaine did not. Alas, it was something easily missed by people that feared the power of twins.

A servant appeared shortly, bowing low enough to have the perfect view of the hem of Alaiscina’s gown. “Permission to speak, my lady.” It was a turn of phrase that her father had insisted the servants begin to utilize at every turn. It was an annoyance to the princess but there was nothing she could do to refute her father’s will. Seven months prior a servant had spoken in what the king deemed to be out of turn and now they had to request speaking privileges.

“Granted, as always.” The man proceeded to discuss her schedule with her for the following day. She made small amendments where she wanted, resulting in a rather packed schedule for the following day. After the servant’s departure to relay all the information to the king, Alaiscina retired to her chambers for the evening.

The next morning was spent in its usual fashion with Lucaine constantly besting her at every possible turn in all of their courses. Following archery, her muscles ached and her stomach rumbled, but she needed to discuss a few topics with Master Bellavue before luncheon was served in the hall. It was difficult to see him everyday and even further complicated by the guard of twittering ladies that were supposed to follow her around. The only time they did not was during her lessons and immediately following – creating the perfect opportunity for her to manage to speak with the Master.

The material of her tan breeches swished back and forth as her legs pumped, moving her down the long corridor to speak with the herbalist. As she moved swiftly, the linen of her shirt pressed against her curves by the wind she created with her forward motion. Alaiscina had just long enough to speak with Master Bellavue before –

“Dear Alaiscina,” the words hummed with an irritatingly silky voice and Alaiscina ceased walking, turning around to face her sister’s favorite maid. 

“Lady Renee, if I recall correctly and please do correct me if I am mistaken, but your position requires you to address me appropriately,” Alaiscina waved her hand with a dismissive motion, “unless you have married a prince that I am not aware of.” They hovered five doors down from the herbalist’s, with the alchemist’s pewter handle catching the sun from the windows around them. Renee’s face reddened and her mouth formed a firm line of displeasure. The comment had caught her off guard and she retreated, leaving the princess to hold her breath, anxiously waiting to see if her sister had also been stalking her.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 12:16 am
by Requiem
In so little time, Isidor's world had been reduced to metals.

Not that such a transition was unreasonable. The very foundations of alchemy had, after all, begun with the properties of metals and how they could be changed, but the craft could extend to so much more, so long as the theories were applied correctly. Nonetheless, the 'lead into gold' assumption still flew from the tongues of both commonfolk and nobility alike when the subject was breached, hence, his tasks were assigned thusly.

But that was not the crux of Isidor's frustration. Working with metals was tedious and often boring, but they were elements that he had mastered practically a decade ago, earlier in his rudimentary studies when he was still fairly new as an accomplished alchemist. With the right tools, materials and the appropriate guidelines, it was simple to give pewter the guise of silver so convincingly that, when its mass was tested with its weight in water, it could pass as though it was and always had been that semi-precious metal. Hell, even gold wasn't so difficult to achieve (at least, at face value), although its guise didn't tend to last quite as long. As a rule of thumb, the rarer the metal or mineral, the more difficult it was to convincingly transmute, and even if it was achieved, the duration of the change was significantly shorter.

His Majesty was not interested in silver, though. Nor did he care for gold, for the metal was far too soft to be of use when crafting weapons. No, what he wanted was the strength of diamonds--diamonds![/!] And, worse, he did not feel the necessity of providing Isidor with any such material as diamonds, even after the poor alchemist struggled to explain that his craft was not one that could create something from nothing. "Your Majesty," he begged, already exhausted by the man's ignorance paired with hot-headed insistence, "I would not ask you for materials if they were not imperative to the success of the task you have assigned me. To craft weapons with the strength of diamond, I[i]need the latter material for the very foundation of the transmutation... Without it, the effects could disintegrate at the worst moment, possibly in battle when your men are using the weapons. "

But the lingo went right over the King's head, and his patience was too thin to permit the alchemist's explanation. Only five moments into Isidor's plea, the king ordered him to be escorted away, back to his study empty-handed to ponder a problem that he did not have the materials to fix. As soon as he was clear of the throne room, his own patience evaporated, and he shook off the hold of the guard who was escorting him. "That will do just fine, thank you. I know my way to my study by now." Glaring at the guard's haughty face, he couldn't help but add, "And you should know better than to put your hands on one's person without their permission. You should meditate more on your conduct, sir."

Turning almost dramatically on his heel, Isidor stalked away and around the corner, where he shrugged off uncomfortable violet overcoat that he was obligated to wear in the public eye. The starchy white tunic beneath didn't offer much more comfort, but it at least allowed his skin to breathe in the aftermath of that frustrating audience. Raking a hand through his hair, he didn't look up from his brown leather boots until he reached that familiar pewter door knob--at which point he noticed a familiar face.
Not what the king would deem 'properly dressed', with his overcoat hanging over this forearm... of all the times to run into someone.

"O-Oh! Miss, uh... Hello." Isidor nodded an awkward greeting, noting that the familiar young woman's attire wasn't much more formal than his brown britches and off-white shirt. But wasn't she nobility? Perhaps he wasn't the only one who took such issue with the palace's formal attire.
Nonetheless, his anxiety was not assuaged. "I was just... it is, that, well, His Majesty has a tendency to leave some people hot with frustration, and, uh, my overcoat..." No, stop it. Stop while you are ahead, you fool, lest she laugh in your face!

Inhaling deeply, he rolled his shoulders back, offering her an apologetic and helpless look. "With all due respect to His Majesty... is he always so... so..." And in dropping his voice to a whisper, he finished, "Infuriatingly and absurdly unyielding? I am tempted to request someone speak with him on my behalf, from now on, lest by some miracle I end up speaking my mind to him."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:44 pm
by Simply
Alaiscina was lost in her own myriad of thoughts and concerns at the sudden arrival and departure of Lucaine’s favorite pet. If Lucy was having her maids tail Alaiscina it could prove difficult after The Trial. The youngest princess had the strongest feeling that her sister would have her permanently eliminated after she lost. After all, why would any ruler that expected to stay in power allow a threat to their position survive? It was not something that she wanted to leave to chance, so we worked with Master Bellavue on ways to disguise herself and a plan to escape the castle the moment she was rendered inconsequential. 

The voice drew her from her reverie once more and she looked upward with surprise in her eyes as the alchemist stood before her, nodding awkwardly. She inclined her head in acknowledgement, her weighty thoughts still pressing heavily on her mind and they were not easily shaken. Licking her lips, she clasped her hands behind her back, listening halfheartedly until he began to mention her father. Brown brows rose further above her blue eyes in interest. The overcoat went unnoticed until he brought her attention to it. Azure gaze glanced down briefly, lashes fluttering against her cheeks. Certainly not appropriate courtly attire to be strolling about in the halls but this was his home now. The lack of an overcoat would not end his life in the corridors, only perhaps if he stood before the King in such an unkempt manner.

The drop in volume provoked her to lean further inward, tilting her head to one side in order to better hear him. Then she laughed, a bright melodious sound that filled the empty space around them and traveled down the hall, losing strength as it sped along. It lingered for a few moments and she covered her soft lips with her hand. “I apologize, truly, I do.” She pressed her other hand to her stomach as the spasms of amusement calmed. “It is not very often that I hear someone speak so negatively of our sovereign in such a loquacious manner.”

Pausing as though considering something, she continued, “Though I think he is mostly referred to as unbearably obstinate and frightening tedious. “ Alaiscina smiled encouragingly at him, beginning to like this gentleman even though he seemed so inept as social interaction. It was quite delightful to have someone that saw her father for what he was and spoke about it. “Though I would not recommend sending someone in your place, that would not bode well for you. The King likes to intimidate his subjects directly, particularly the ones fabricating his weapons of extraordinary power.”

“And based on your assessment, I take it that you have just returned from a rendezvous with said leader and that it did not proceed as you had desired. “ A smile continued to dance on her lips as she spoke to him. Behind her back she intertwined and released her fingers multiple times, a habit she had without significance. “Fortunate for me, though. I’m glad to see you again, alchemist. How goes your move into the castle’s study? Finding everything to be adequate?”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 4:25 pm
by Requiem
And, there, again--laughter. The heat in Isidor's cheeks intensified such that he was tempted to fan himself. Could he not speak without garnering laughter at his expense or, in the case of his conversation with the king, not being heard at all? The more time he spent in this palace and among its strange denizens, the more aware he became that although he could exchange and understand the common tongue, the social language of this place was entirely lost on him. "Well..." Isidor cleared his throat and tugged at the collar of his stuff tunic. "Either your King has reserved his infallible obstinacy for me, alone, or perhaps more people should speak of him with more honesty."

A comment that, if uttered to the wrong person, could easily lead to the young man's early demise. But death no longer seemed so frightening, given this gilded imprisonment... And this young woman... well. Something about her spoke of trust, and a gut feeling reassured him that she wouldn't be repeating his blasphemous words to His Majesty, or anyone else, for that matter. Nonetheless, it was really no excuse not to learn to hold his tongue. A task that he foresaw as even more difficult than crafting a weapon bearing diamond qualities, without any of the appropriate materials to do so.

But he was left with no choice, save for simply adapting. Unfortunately for Isidor Anatoliy Kristeva, adaptability and integration were not within his otherwise vast repertoire of skills.

"So he thinks intimidation is the means to the end he desires, huh?" It made all the sense, and yet no sense at all--much like everything else about the palace. "Well, I am not so cold hearted as to send someone in my stead to absorb such tyranny. Even if he expects me to make something from nothing... For a man who is so loathe to condone magic, he is quite eager to get what he wants with the snap of his fingers and no resources towards it--o-of course, this is all just between you and I, yes? It's out of my system, I shan't bring it up again."

Clasping the pewter knob, Isidor pushed open the door to his study, tossing his violet overcoat onto a nearby chair. To Alaiscina, who stood in the open doorway like a curious shadow, he asked, "Could you pass me that book? The one with the indigo cover, on the--yes, that one, there." Leaning over his desk, he took the proffered book and opened it to a dog-eared page in front of him. "Thank you. And I... I am not really sure how to answer your question."
Isidor picked up a pair of rectangular spectacles and adjusted them to his face, dark eyes concentrating on the words in front of him. It was easier to talk to the young noblewoman when he wasn't looking at her face; it brought less distracting colour to his cheeks.

"It was not my choice to be here. I'm not accustomed to... any of this, really," he confided, always adopting honesty as the best policy. "I am from the Outbounds and have lived in solitude for most of my life. To say this is an adjustment for me is a gross understatement. To find my arrangement 'adequate' would entail never having to speak one on one with the king again, so..." Pressing a soft sigh from his lungs, he looked up. "No offense, of course. I am not insulting your home. I am simply used to very different circumstances... such as working for myself."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 8:40 pm
by Simply
He spoke with a lack of formality and honesty that would not end well for him. The humor she found at his ineptitude was difficult to hide. Fortunately for him, Alaiscina was schooled in the fine arts of concealing emotions from others. It came with the territory of inheriting a kingdom…potentially inheriting, she corrected herself as she stepped inside of his study. It was larger than she thought, but much smaller than he was expecting. The more the alchemist spoke about the king, the tenser the muscles in her back became. If they could veer from this topic, she would feel much more at ease. She knew that he would not take kindly to the fact that she was the king’s daughter. Momentarily, her lips turned downward but she quickly focused her attention on the contents of the study. 

“This one?” She inquired, holding it up before offering it to the man. She noticed there were a number of pages pressed down, making the volume appear well-used. 
Once it left her grasp, she allowed her eyes to roam about the room. The bottles and glasses filled with smoky liquids and clear concoctions rested next to squat containers with words scribbled legibly across their lids. The princess had seen alchemist chambers before but his was unique. It was relatively well organized and he had equations written on papers tacked to the walls. Quickly, she circled the room, barely hearing him as he attempted to answer the question that she had posed before passing the threshold of the room.

When she focused on him again, bright eyes took in his spectacles and cocked her head a minuscule amount to one side. It was quite a good look for him – as though it made his awkward nature more acceptable, as though giving reason to it. Studying the contours of his cheeks as he spoke, Alaiscina allowed herself to sit back onto a chair without looking. A squeal of alarm left her lips before she could prevent it. When she gathered herself, she brought forth a round object attached to a wooden post. Raising it upwards, but not bringing it closer to her face, Alaiscina noticed the swirling of the stone that resided inside of the glass. The twisting and turning of the haze reminded her of a snake, slithering and coiling in the grass.

The decision was made not to rest her behind on anything else without looking first and she placed it back down where she had found it. “I have never visited the Outbounds, though a number of merchants travel back and forth. They regal us city dwellers with such tales of magic and mischief that I fear my expectations of such places exceed reality.” As she continued to examine his study, the young woman kept speaking. “I think many people would consider it more than adequate to never have to endure an audience with the king again.” A grin danced along her lips, her face illuminated by the light when she turned back to her companion.

“No offense taken.” She said, resting her hands on the table behind her (after taking a wary glance to make sure there was nothing that would harm her.) “Many people are not fond of the city.” Her ladies would be curious as to her prolonged absence, but she could tarry just a moment longer in the refreshing company of the alchemist – just a moment and no more. “How long is your contract with his majesty? I am sure you are eager to return to your home.” She knew that his contract was indefinite. It was a harsh question to ask and it was quickly buried beneath a slew of other probing questions. “And what is that, may I ask? It was quite presumptuous with my backside only a moment ago and I am eager to be able to curse it appropriately.” A faint smile continued to rest on her mouth. “To myself, of course, I would not be so quickly to reveal your magical devices to others.” She expected the next explanation from him to include the appropriate uses for the item she had squashed with her rump and how it was in no way magically linked.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 3:42 am
by Requiem
The young woman's startled cry tore Isidor's gaze away from his book and urged a startled glance upward, spectacles sliding down the bridge of his straight nose. "Oh--uh, I, um... Allow me to apologize for that." He leaned across his desk and reached for the small globe with its swirling, almost ethereal contents, and set it on a nearby bookshelf. "That was entirely my fault. I'm still debating about the arrangement of things in here, and I'm... I mean, like I said, I'm not accustomed to company, or the fact that anyone might take a seat in my office, at all. I promise to be more mindful of my clutter in the future..."

At the very least, the young woman seemed relatively unperturbed, and not of the mind to chide him. You've struck luck, Isidor--no one else would be so lenient of that oversight. Imagine if the king himself had taken a seat in that chair! The very thought of that insufferable monarch looming over his shoulder as he worked send a shudder through his body. His social inclinations might yet have a way to go, but he could take solace in the fact that he was, at least, doing all the wrong things in the presence of the right person. Perhaps the only person in that wretched palace that would forgive him his shortcomings and the naivete that resulted from a life of isolation.

"I can't speak to the magics and mischief of the Outbounds, myself," he replied with regards to her comment. "Personally, I find it more peaceful than intriguing or stimulating... There isn't the same bustle and noise in the air as in the city. Although, when I was younger, I found it exciting to explore... It was almost as if the forest and beyond would change, every time I went outside..."
Realizing once again that he was rambling, Isidor clamped his mouth shut and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "But... that's neither here nor there. I'm sorry, I won't pester you with that rabble."

Despite Alaiscina's discomfort (which did not register with the young alchemist), he was more than happy the change of subject. "I wish I could answer that question, myself... I was not given a timeline or an expected date for this... contract, as you put it, to expire. I would assume it would take place as soon as your king is satisfied with the weapons that I create, although given his unwillingness to provide me with the materials needed..." He trailed off, suddenly, as the prospect of the king's expectations sunk in. Would it really end at the creation of alchemical weaponry? Or would he find another reason to keep him as a prisoner in this gilded cage?

He didn't know, and he didn't want to think think about it.

That said, he was silently grateful for the young woman's preoccupation with the small trinket upon which she'd sat. That, he could talk about without any tangents or level of anxiety. "My devices are hardly magical, Miss; alchemy is a tangible science. Although you would think this to be otherwise, wouldn't you?" The corner of his mouth quirked into a small grin as he picked up the bauble again. "What you see is a simple dance being performed by copper particles and mist; very simple, yet very eye-catching. I make them to sell at the markets when I travel from the Outbounds, though I assure you, it is little more than sleight of hand. Here."

Leaning forward, he placed the shimmering trinket back in Alaiscina's hands. "I don't have much of an inclination towards decorations... It's yours, if you'd like it. Sit it near your window, and it will reflect sunrays and moonbeams, so long as a source of light shines through it."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:33 pm
by Simply
Laughter bubbled in her chest but she kept it contained, knowing that it might cause him from discomfort. No one wanted to be teased and it seemed that the subtleties of jokes were often lost on the man from the Outbounds. Perhaps if he held the King’s favor long enough, she would be able to help him grow accustomed to the nuances of polite society. For a little while at least…. The thought slipped in and out of her mind swiftly, distracting her. Dear, I am growing quite melancholy as the date draws near. Hurriedly, she shoved the considerations to the dark recesses of her consciousness and focused on the object that was now weighing heavily in her hands.

Surprise flickered in her gaze when it rested on the dancing pieces of light, swirling against the mist inside the sphere. “I cannot possibly...!” She began, but already she was entranced by it. It was only copper, he said. Yet, it captivated her utterly. Soft, royal hands twisted the sphere delicately back and forth. Her smile grew with each moment that passed, the trinket evidently something she would cherish. “You must allow me to repay you in some way. How much would it cost, were you selling it in the markets? I can’t expect something so lavish without compensating you for it.”

A merry thought burst into her mind and she exclaimed as much with a soft “oh!” Still cradling the ball in her hands, Alaiscina continued, “I know. What do you require that the king will not give you for your work? I might be able to help this predicament, in repayment for such a lovely decoration.” On cue, she raised her hand upwards and the sphere burst with bright light, capturing all of the sunlight streaming through the window. It only caused her smile to grow further and firmly press a lid on the dour considerations she had weighing on her earlier. Lowering it so it wouldn’t permanently blind the new alchemist, a blush rose into her cheeks. “My apologies. I am not yet familiar with all the nuances of my new gift. “

“If you want to write me a list, I can procure a few of the items for you, though it might take me a few days. My studies keep me fairly engaged during the day.” At the mention of her studies, the speed of her heart increased tenfold and she tossed her attention to the window. “Speaking of which, I fear I am late for my next lesson. That will not end well if I arrive in my archery attire for Medvalian dance.” She began to back out of the room, knowing that someone would have started to look for her by now. Her attending ladies were quite punctual, when they were not waylaid by their gossiping.

“I can return tomorrow perhaps, to retrieve that list.” Alaiscina spoke as she took steps backwards towards the door, before promptly bumping into a table. The result was the boiling flask to rattle violently in its holder. “Oh gods.” A furious blush found itself on her cheeks and her free hand rose up to press against her warm skin. “I seem to have left my grace at the door when I entered.” She confessed with a sheepish smile. “I best go before I break something irreplaceable. Tomorrow, then.” She bobbed her head, gave the customary swift curtsy, and departed.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 12:08 am
by Requiem
Just like the children who begged their parents to buy the eye-catching baubles that he crafted, so, too, did the noblewoman's eyes light up as he handed her the copper-filled glass ball. If anyone knew how simple a task it was to produce the little novelties, if only they were aware of just how rudimentary someone's alchemical knowledge and know-how need be to be up to the task, perhaps the pretty, shimmering decorations wouldn't be so coveted.
Of course, it too often slipped Isidor's mind just how niche the art and craft of alchemy actually was. Its rarity, after all, had it so often confused with magic, and those that knew the difference didn't necessarily understand what made it different.

Remember, you're the only alchemist this side of as many kingdoms. Sometimes, the thought brought him solace, even a sense of importance. More often, however--though he was loathe to admit it--it brought with it a hopeless atmosphere of loneliness.

"Really, I have no need of it... It must have gotten mixed in with the remainder of my belongings when your king's men escorted me to the palace," he attempted to assuage her sudden concern for accepting what was little more than a simple gift--and an attempt on Isidor's part, perhaps, to make up for his clumsy speech, among all other social errors he had committed in her company. "I needn't anything in return, honestly! It's a gift, just a simple gift. If I really felt it had any value, monetary or otherwise, then I wouldn't be so quick to give it away. And, well, you seemed to have taken an inclination to it, so..."

But he wouldn't be heard, not past the young woman's insistence to come even--as if this casual exchange was more of an interaction of trade. Of course, not only did he doubt she could provide him with the materials that the king denied him (he wasn't even sure the king himself didn't have the amount of diamonds that he'd require to provide an entire army with new, indestructible weapons), but nothing so simple as copper and missed trapped behind a small dome of glass was worth a fortune such as that! "Really, t-that isn't necessary!" Isidor squinted at the redirected beam of light as she held the globe up to catch the rays of the late afternoon sun. "It isn't your responsibility to... That is, it's just a gift, I don't need to be compensated..."

But before he could finish, she promised him to return on the morrow, and hastily bowed out, leaving the young alchemist to wonder what had just transpired. Did she truly expect him to leave her with a list of items that he required? Because if she'd known the extent of what he needed before his contract with the king would be complete... There was no way she'd have made the offer, and there was no way he could ask her for anything in return for that silly trinket.

"Your name would have sufficed," he found himself murmuring without realizing why. The way in which she'd stumbled and left replayed in his mind's eye, bringing a ghost of a smile to the corner of his lips. She was quite the endearing one; perhaps insomuch that, around her, he not only felt welcome, but less like a black sheep among the white herd. And to think, he'd exchanged words with her on more than one occasion, already, and had neither asked her for her name, or offered his own...
Well, if she did, in fact, return with the next sunrise, then the opportunity would be there. Unless he managed to sabotage his own efforts with his conversational ineptitude...

Only tomorrow would tell. And if nothing else, he could count on another day.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 4:19 pm
by Simply
The remainder of the afternoon passed fairly uneventfully, though the sideways glances from her maids did not proceed unnoticed. They whispered behind their hands, likely attributing her prolonged absence to the the possibility of Alaiscina taking a new lover. The idea made her roll her eyes around as one of her ladies pinned up her curls before the dinner she was to attend with her father and her sister. It wasn’t entirely unheard of – a princess taking a man for her pleasure. It was not condoned but it was not uncommon. Of course, in no way did it extend beyond the use of hands and mouths. The physical representation of her chastity had to remain intact for the examination she would receive upon her wedding night…well, that her sister would likely receive. Alaiscina doubted that a man in the Outbounds during her years of exile would want her inspected before marriage. It wasn’t frequently employed outside of nobility, she understood. With the last pin shoved firmly (and painfully) into her scalp, the princess gritted her teeth. The thought rested in her mind of how fortunate men were that they didn’t have a physical designation of their chastity. There had been a time three years ago when she would have killed to….ah, well, no point in wallowing in the self-pity pool. 

Aromas of fig-stuffed pheasant wafted towards her the moment the guards opened the doors to permit her entrance. Lucaine was already seated and her father deemed that appropriate enough to have begun the meal. They were in a heated discussion about how best to proceed with the militant minority of a religious sect. Alaiscina seated herself at her father’s left, across from her exact likeness.

“Well, I was not implying that we give them any official commendations, father. We cannot play one god above another but certainly their zeal could be used to the advantage of the kingdom.” Her sister gestured politely with one hand after lowering her spoon down beside the steaming bowl of – Alaiscina inhaled slowly – onion stew. “Certainly we can guide them on the path that the Great Soldier wants them to follow and it just coincidentally aligns with our own course.” A devilish smile played her beautiful lips. The speaking princess’ twin drew her own spoon up to her lips and consumed the warm liquid, delighted in the heat that spread across her abdomen after she swallowed.

“Do you think that the Ecclesiastic Court would not hear of this, dear sister?” Alaiscina inquired, drawing another spoonful to her mouth.

“Naturally,” the look Lucaine gave her was nothing short of wicked and annoyed, “but we have always led in the dance with the vicars and celebrants. They know they cannot live without the gods’ son on the throne.” Her head inclined towards their father, who merely smirked at her words and tore into the breast of one of the birds decorating their table. The flesh glistened with oil and the sticky juices dribbled down his chin, catching in his full beard.

“Naturally.” Alaiscina conceded, finishing her thick broth before proceeding with the discussion that she had interrupted. “Yet, many of the Prophecies speak of the death of the One, which many interpret to mean the end of our line and the beginning of a new age.” If those words had been spoken by anyone other than the king’s flesh and blood, they would likely be the last coherent sentence that ever left their lips. The Prophecies were spoken about only in the clergy halls and temples to support the rule of his Majesty King Ferant and the longevity of the Hilofen Empire under the guidance of the Jendryng Dynasty. Her father, however, saw the bait that she laid before the sharks she sat with and did not attempt to strike out. Lucaine, however, could not resist. Whether it was her pride or arrogance, Alaiscina was not sure. The rest of the meal was spent discussing the Prophecies and concluded with a dramatic exit by her sister.

“You insist of provoking her.” Her father expressed in his most displeased tone, leaning back in his chair after finishing his fourth berry tartlet.
“She makes it so simple. It makes me a sinner, I know, but I cannot resist the temptation Pharisee lays before me.”
“Do not blame the trickster for your vanity. You know I do no believe in such nonsense. The Prophecies, like magic, are a festering appendage brought about by plague, needing to be severed and burned to prevent their spread.”
“The gods, too then? For did they not speak to the Great Soldier and his Oracle, and brought us the divine right to rule and the Prophecies? Can you have one without the other?” At her words, her father grunted, crossing his fingers together over his belly. 
“Your mother appreciated a lively debate on holy matters.” For a moment, Alaiscina saw hope, but it was quickly snuffed out like a midnight candle. “I, however, do not.” And so the conversation ended. With a deep curtsey, she excused herself to her chamber and spend hours staring at the soft fabric that hung on the canopy of her bed. 

Her ears were filled with the soft mews of her lady at the foot, likely dreaming about the new stable lad based on the writhing she heard. The princess wondered if she should bother with another lover so close to the date of their contest. A skilled man, perhaps? What would a little pleasure hurt? As the moon peeked through with its beams, caressing the space between the curtains, the orb she had received that day began to glimmer. It cast shadows on the opposite wall, swirling and writhing, not unlike other shapes she had experienced in the past. It drew her attention and she grew lost in it. Her mind drifted back and forth over many thoughts, before the last one crossed her mind. I get to see the alchemist tomorrow.

The thought had vanished into darkness and remained there by the time the princess awoke to attend her lessons. She hurried through them as best as she was able and it was fairly pleasant. Her sister was still visibly irritated from the prior evening and opted to completely ignore her twin. Well enough, Alaiscina thought as she stitched small, delicate petals onto the flower insignia that designated the Deshia High Court. The ambassador was coming to discuss relations with her father in three nights and she was to present him with a gift. Her lessons concluded shortly after she finished her third linen and she had nearly three hours prior to her riding instruction that afternoon.

Without seeming overly eager, but rushing to avoid her ladies and any prying eyes, Alaiscina stopped at Master Bellavue’s to check on the progress of their work together. All seemed in order and she slipped out of his door before proceeding down to the alchemist’s study. The door was partially open and something that smelled faintly of crushed boronias filled her nostrils. Alaiscina straightened, cast a cursory glance to the left and then the right before pushing it open further.

“I hope I am not intruding,” she said as she stood in the doorway, “your door, it was ajar.”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:26 am
by Requiem
Isidor Kristeva had never been much of a vivid dreamer. The solitude and isolation of his small tower in the Outbounds had permitted him such a quieted mind that often his slumber was still, and dark, and restful, void of any of life struggles and ails that penetrated and plagued the unconscious mind. That was, until, he had been forced to leave his quiet tower, to end up in the palace of the king of the Hilofen Empire. A place that never slept, where minds were never quiet, and where, despite his own, private study, he found it difficult to concentrate for what was likely the first time in his life.
Even beyond wakefulness, his mind did not rest. For that very night, after long, futile hours put into the recipe for the king's weapons, he dreamed. Specifically, he dreamed of her.

For someone who had previously led a lifetime of very limited exposure to anyone, let alone women, the brief conversations he'd held with the young noblewoman had impacted more than he'd expected. At least enough that her face had shown up in his dream, and had persisted, up until the moment he'd opened his eyes the next morning--late morning, that is. Or, by the position of the sun in the sky, it could very well have been afternoon.
Regardless, he was late. For whatever reason, perhaps the tossing and turning of a fitful sleep, he was expected to be up with the dawn to continue his work. And it was far past dawn.

Cursing expletives that he would never utter in the presence of a person, the alchemist sprung out of bed, splashed water on his face and pulled on the black slacks that he had been provided. Without a care or concern for the glances he elicited as he exited his chamber with his white tunic in his hands, Isidor hurried down the winding steps, simultaneously pulling the shirt over his head as he ran through excuses in his mind, were he to be question. I simply required time to meditate on the tasks outside of my office! or I got stalled by your rude serving staff in the corridor... for... several hours...
The truth was, he had no excuse. And he could only hope that nobody had noticed his absence.

Isidor had just managed to successfully pull the simple, off-white tunic over his head when he scrambled to his office, struggling with the key to unlock the door in his haste. His hair was still tousled from sleep, and he'd forgotten that gaudy violet overcoat again, but he had more pressing matters. Such as being half a day behind in work, while being expected to report back to his Majesty with progress at the very end of the week.
How was it that he'd managed to not only pidgeon-hole himself into such a futile situation in the first place, but exacerbate all of this trouble with his own irresponsible negligence?

All over silly, vapid dreams concerning a noble girl, whose name he had yet to find out?

"So behind... how did this happen..."
The alchemist sighed to himself as he scrambled to look over the meticulous plans he'd sketched out the previous day. Officially, half of those plans were off the table, what with the time it took to treat and condition certain metals; amazing how a single day of sleeping in too late could ignite the need to completely restructure your week... I was never under so much pressure back in the Outbounds... Such was the result of going from the quiet and flexible life of working for yourself, to suddenly accommodating someone else's time frame and expectations.

So preoccupied with trying to figure out how to reroute the tasks that lay ahead of him, he almost didn't notice when Alaiscina pushed through his partially open doorway. "Oh! Miss, ah... no. You're not interrupting anything at all." Running a wild hand trough his hair (perhaps it was a blessing that it had been trimmed, after all), Isidor put down the pile of books cradled in his thin arms to better address the noblewoman. "You'll have to forgive... if you please... my disorganization this afternoon, I... seem to have slept in far long than I'd intended." A long sigh seeped past his lips, as he reached into a drawer for his spectacles. Although they were only necessary when reading fine print, their subtle weight on the bridge of his nose granted him a modicum of comfort.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:35 pm
by Simply
This time, the princess hoped that her composure and dignity remained intact when she stepped across the threshold into his room. Nothing abnormal seemed to occur or possess her so she exhaled a soft sigh. Despite his words, Alaiscina Jendryng feared that she was, in fact, intruding on a very important matter. Blue eyes flickered about, examining the chaos where organization had once dominated. Clearing her throat, just slightly, she pressed her hands together in front of her lilac gown. It was the soft one with a lace trim at the rim of her bodice. The décolletage was considered one of the latest fashions. Her seamstress wanted to have her and her twin wear them on multiple occasions before the grand reveal of her dress for the next gala.

“Something kept you awake?” She inquired, straightening a stack of books that had slid across one another in his hurry. Whether it was actually beneficial to him, she was unsure, but perhaps the gesture would be enough. As she did so, she examined the covers. Kerotakis Usages as Described by Zosimos. Purification by Tribikos. Poisons and their Cures. They were clearly old but well taken care of. Dark curls bounced around her head as she looked over to her left as an amalgamation of diagrams resided in a large, disorderly pile. “Too much noise in the castle?” The conclusion of the second question coincided with her raising her head to look at him. 

Shortly thereafter, an amused grin played upon her coral lips. He was quite the disheveled man himself. The spectacles somewhat assisted him in looking like one of the mad wizards of the old age…though considerably more in shape than what she pictured of old magicians. The messy nature of his hair and the striking way it brushed just above his eyes forced the right corner of her mouth marginally upwards. “It can be rather difficult to grow accustomed to noises of the maids and servants moving around in the halls. Are you chambers near the seamstress quarters? They work at all odd hours. “ She began to sweep the papers into a coherent pile. “So many candles burning at all the time. I am surprised the castle hasn’t burn down. Yet, we must have a gown for every day.” The last bit was sarcastic. Alaiscina was not against beautiful dresses but when the chamber adjacent to hers was overflowing with fabric, she certainly didn’t need a dress once a week like the remainder of the noble ladies.

“Oh!” The exclamation came upon spying a list of ingredients for only the gods and Isidor knew what. “Did you happen to make the list of items you require for your work?” Bright, curious eyes attempted to catch his, but it was difficult with him constantly looking at something other than she face. Carefully checking a chair before she sat, Alaiscina gathered the combination of materials that had been in the seat before her. Placing them gingerly in her lap, the princess watched him rush about the study in an attempt to salvage the hours that he had lost.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:11 am
by Requiem
"Only my own subconscious mind," Isidor replied with regard to her question about his wakefulness during the night. "I'm not prone to dreaming... At least, I never used to be. Not until I came here." Perhaps she was right, though; having his chambers among the quarters of the palace's staff, it wouldn't have surprised him to have been situated near the seamstresses. Despite the stature of the position that king claimed--he was, after all, the monarchy's very own alchemist--it struck him as interesting that he was kept among the lesser staff.
Perhaps this was simply evidence of the class system that existed beyond the Outbounds: the assumption that you were nothing, if not royal.

The idea had never bothered him before. Then again, only now was he expected to meet the standards of someone else... And, thus, his self-worth was diminished.

"And, rest assured, I am confident your castle is no noisier than... any other castle, I would assume." He offered a somewhat awkward smile, one that suited his already awkward features. "This is just... I think I am still acclimatizing to these new surroundings. I imagine it could take a while..."

He knew he'd been forgetting about something in the whirlwind that had been his morning. It hit him like lead to the skull, the moment Alaiscina brought up the list. Not that he had actually intended to read out each and every material he required for his work that the king had denied him... That was a task he wouldn't even place upon the shoulders of is worst enemy (if he had any enemies; but having enemies required antagonizing people, which required him to actually know people). But here she was, sitting patiently in front of him, and expecting an answer. Isidor didn't have a list.
He did, however, have a request.

"Miss... please do not take this as my slight on your noble standing," he began, taking a seat across from his desk. "But the amount of materials that I require from his Majesty in order to even appease his Majesty... I almost fear that there aren't enough diamonds in the world." His smile was flat, as he pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose. "And believe me, that little trinket I gave you is hardly worth it's weight in gold. So, in return... why not just tell me your name? So that I might address you as more than simply 'Miss'."
Pausing, he added, after a startling afterthought, "And, in return--I am Isidor Kristeva... of the Outbounds. But you already knew the latter."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:35 pm
by Simply
“You do not regularly dream, so much so that dreaming disturbs your slumber?” It was not said harshly, but merely with surprise. Azure gaze flickered over him as he worked. “Without dreaming, the excitement of possibilities and…and…well,” She gave a general exhale of laughter that mostly resembled a sigh. He did not seem like the type of individual to put his stock and effort into the interpretation and appreciation of dreams. Pressing her lips together in mild embarrassment, the princess felt her discomfiture wash away as he tried to express how her castle couldn’t be worse than any other castle out there. It was kind of him.

Noble standing. If only he knew just how noble the woman gracing him with her presence was. That would certainly be an interesting interaction. It wasn’t that she wanted to hide who she was from him, per say. Rather, she assumed (accurately in the majority of cases) that it would alter the current status quo of their budding relationship. 

Diamonds are what he required and she would certainly be able to provide him with a few, though likely not the quantity that he required. It was well known, however, that her father immensely enjoyed making his servants (this included the alchemist) figure out other ways to accomplish the slew of tasks he assigned to them. As he continued speaking, she momentarily began to count the number of diamond necklaces that she had accrued during her years as a princess. A number had initially come from potential suitors, before they realized that her sister was more likely to assume the throne upon their father’s demise. The plain smile Isidor offered her drew her attention once more.

“My name? That hardly seems equal to the value of the gift you bestowed upon me.” Bright eyes twinkled with amusement, as her curls bobbed upon shaking her head. “You are giving me your name as well, so I am still in your debt. “ White teeth flashed as she smiled and looked down at her hands, momentarily, before staring at his eyes through his spectacles. “Alaiscina of Mehdring, the capital of Hilofen Empire and seat of the Jendryng Dynasty.” She expressed simply but avoiding the use of her surname. He may not know the names of the heirs to the kingdom, but he was certainly intelligent enough to figure out that Alaiscina Jendryng was a member of the ruling family. “You may call me Alais,” the pronunciation of her name came across as ‘alice.’ Her father had forbid everyone from calling her that since she was young, so confiding it in him gave her a small thrill. The reasoning behind her father's decree was that only commoners had only 2 syllable names and no daughter of his would be a commoner. He pronounced her sister's name as 'Lu-cee-aine.'

“What dreams kept you awake?” She blurted after a moment, swallowing the second the words left her lips. A soft flush spread its way across her cheeks that pressed beneath her eyes as she gave a guilty grin. “I apologize. That was most inappropriate to ask. It’s just, I have never heard of anyone not dreaming frequently. It is bewildering.” The surprise showed on her face and her curiosity glimmered in her eyes.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:54 pm
by Requiem
"Alaiscina... but you prefer Alais." The first name felt foreign on his tongue, though the second--the nickname--rang with a mundane familiarity that put him at ease. "Well, ah... it is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Alais. Though I do feel as though this introduction is long, long overdue... And, please, forgo all of this silly 'debt' business. I had no use of that trinket, and you took a liking to it; you've helped by making my study just that much less cluttered." He offered another smile, in hopes that it would be enough to assure her. "It is silly, you know, to weigh your life in terms of what you have and what you owe because you have it. I honestly didn't realize that transaction could extend beyond those days when I would travel to the market..."

It was so strange to him, this way of life that was measured in how much you had, and how much you had determined where you stood within the social hierarchy. It caused Isidor to pause and look around his study; hundreds of books upon the shelves, rare instruments he'd had created specifically for his craft... Where exactly did his possessions place him? Value was such a strange subjective topic... Personally, anything that fended off dreaded ennui ranked high in value in his life. Though surrounded as he was by these possessions, by this seeming endless store of knowledge... Here, in the palace, it meant nothing.
After all, he was still situated among the other servants, here.

"I... dreams? I... um, w-well..." Isidor could feel blood rise into his face, colouring his cheeks some shade of pink or another. No, no no no, he wasn't about to confess that images of her face had disturbed the peace of his sleep. Even looking at that very face, right now, he could feel his heart race and palms grow clammy. What is wrong with you, man? It is not as if this young woman is a bloody threat--calm down! "I can't remember," he lied at last, quickly looking away from her face. It was impossible to maintain eye contact when he lied, small though it was. "Just... lots of images, you know. The kind you can't really make sense of. I am... certainly no interpreter of dreams... Oh, no, don't feel the need to apologize!"

Biting his lower lip, his rapid fire thoughts struggled to diffuse this sudden, apologetic change in atmosphere. "Well, you see, back in the Outbounds, I really didn't have any distractions. Just peace and quiet with the woods to myself... It made for very peaceful sleep, I thought. Here, there is just so much business about, at all hours..." Pausing, a thought came to him, and he added, "However, there have been times when I have encountered difficulty in my work, so frustrating that I would walk away from it and nap. And... I suppose, in my sleep, the solution would come to me." He offered another smile, pushing his spectacles up the bridge of his nose. "So I suppose it is not that I do not dream frequently... rather, I dream differently. If that makes any sense at all.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:23 pm
by Simply
“Yes, it’s so much easier than my full name. I like simplicity sometimes.” She added the last word a moment later, thinking of how she enjoyed her elaborate gowns and the elegance of the food that the castle’s kitchens brought up to her. In other aspects, though, she was a very simple girl. She enjoyed reading by her windowsill or walking in the gardens. The need to race horses or seduce countless men was not exactly her eyes. Had she done those things before? Yes. Would she do them again? Likely. “The pleasure is all mine Isidor and please, just Alais. No need for the miss here in your study.” She didn’t want him to call her Alais anywhere outside this room – hell, she didn’t want him to call her at all. That could make things very messy with her sister. When Lucy found a way to torture Alais, she was extremely efficient at it.

“I can see what you mean but if kindhearted people were always to give their belongings away so freely, the world would be run entirely by the wicked.” That made her smile, somewhat sadly. The world was currently run by the wicked, at least their world. This topic was dangerous and so she focused on asking him about his dreams, why he was not sleeping comfortably in the castle. And then the discomfort began. Alais didn’t mean to do it, though she couldn’t help but appreciate the result. The way he stuttered and fumbled for words in a conversation that may him comfortable only served to make her smile. It danced across her lips and it was evident that she was trying to fight the music of her pleasure, but it only served to cause her smile to twitch. And his cheeks were pink. Had he had a dream about a lady?! Was this not something he was able to discuss?

“Oh. That happens to me quite frequently as well.” She nodded and her smile relaxed into a polite grin as she spoke. “Sometime I’ll awaken with the strangest feeling inside of me, as though I know something delightful happened but I just cannot recall what it was for the life of me. And sometimes I can’t help but wake up terrified and I know something dreadful is going to happen.” She smoothed her hands on her skirts. Why had she just told him about her nightmares? Foolish. 

“Even when we sleep, I believe our minds are working. They allow our body to rest and continue to solve all the great problems of our day but unfortunately for mankind, I don’t think our sleeping mind and waking one communicate as clearly as they should and so we are left to trudge on day by day hoping that they are solved by someone.” A smile played her face as she looked out the window. Alaiscina was one that was so prone to happiness when given the opportunity. Now, however, it was evident that her thoughts had led her elsewhere as she spoke. For while her head was directed towards the small window that showed the mountains in the distance, her eyes were glazed and somewhere else entirely. Something drew her back and she tossed her head slightly, dark curls moving against her shoulders. His back was to her, working, as she observed him. A finger could not be placed on the reason, but she was immensely comfortable sitting here in his study with all of his alchemical items strategically placed.

“Do you have family? Back in the Outbounds?” It was a sudden question. She had been thinking how he must miss them if he had been taken from them.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 4:36 pm
by Requiem
"Of course, M--we, Alais. Whatever you prefer," he agreed with a nod. Far be it from him to go against what a noble of any stature desired, and this woman... Well, the mixture of finery and common clothes that he had witnessed her wear confused him as to just what level of nobility Alais represented. Part of him wanted to ask, that part that fueled his insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge. But a more intelligent, and far more aware inner voice strongly advised otherwise. In the Outbounds, a question of class was common, if it was not immediately recognizable. But here... Well, he suspected that despite the way the rich seemed to enjoy flaunting their wealth, asking about it might not sit well with etiquette. 

Dreams were not Isidor's forté. Observation of their nature was better left to his siblings who put the magic in their veins to good use. Vitali certainly knew a thing or two, and Lias had left to chase the very dreams he so cherished. For Isidor, they were naught but images and sounds... but that did not mean he was at a loss to understand their importance. "You know, I have heard that some dreams can be a prophecy, or an omen..." He began, but the disappearance of Alais's smile suggested that it wasn't the most reassuring thing that he could say. Scrambling for a save, he stammered, "Of course, dreams are not my domain, by any means! Perhaps what you have is sensitivity for foresight... that is what my mother always called it. Meaning that it would not be your dreams that provide that feeling of dread, but something else that cannot be seen or understood... of course, that, also, is far from my domain."

Perfect. You never fail to turn a wayward air onto a conversation... But before the young alchemist could stammer another weak apology, the noblewoman was asking about his family. The quill in his left hand paused on the paper upon which it scrawled illegible letters and words. His family; how did he even put his family into words, without revealing just how wayward and questionable his lineage was?

Perhaps there was just no avoiding the details. And although he could have answered her simple question with a simpler shrug and a 'no', lack of concise explanation would only lead to more questions, in the end. Might as well get it all out now.

"I don't. Not in the Outbounds... and not to my knowledge, at the very least," he began, biting on his lower lip as he returned his gaze to the parchment in front of him. He could feel Alais's curious eyes on him, and was suddenly afraid to meet them. "My mother is and always has been nomadic, and I have not seen her since I began to study alchemy under a mentor in Atvany when I was twelve. Last I heard, she is still traveling." His shoulders lifted in a shrug, a clear indication that his emotional ties to his mother were minimal, if any. "As far as I know, I am the only one of my siblings who established roots anywhere. My older brother has a gift for music that takes him all around this world. My younger brother... Well, his dealings are in necromancy. And I imagine what keeps him on his feet is that he has made one too many enemies no matter where he goes." His mouth twisted into a frown at the thought of Vitali. He always had been trouble; nothing had changed. "And my younger sister... well, honestly, I do not know. She was still very young when I left my mother. She may still be traveling with her... but I doubt I would even recognize her, if I were to see her now."

Realizing how strange, and somewhat sad it all must have sounded, Isidor looked up and offered a reassuring, albeit uncertain smile. "It may sound cold, but I am not close to any of them. My brothers and sister are only related to me through my mother. We all had different fathers, none who we ever so much as met, and my mother was always too preoccupied to be much of a parent. So... our ties are by blood, only, but not so much loyalty. I know that may come across as strange, here in the city, but the nature of a family such as mine is not so uncommon when you are born into a nomadic lifestyle." And the same could be said for the reason why, no matter where he walked or where he established roots, Isidor never truly felt like he quite belonged.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:52 pm
by Simply
The telling of his family stories made her smile and she leaned back in the chair to listen to him talk as he worked. It was a completely different type of life than she one she had led. Yet, she could understand how he would not be close to his siblings. She was a twin, was supposed to have the closest of bonds, and yet they despised one another. The thought of having someone bound by blood and loyalty was a personal foreign concept for her. She had read about it in all of the old tales and in the deepest parts of the texts about a time before outlawed magic. It made her heard beat rapidly in her chest when he mentioned necromancy.

“Magic.” She whispered, before looking at him directly. “Your brother is a magician. A necromancer?” The question hung in the air between them and she rose from her seat. Carefully, she slipped her head around the opening in the crack of the door and looked from side to side. No one was present and she clicked the door closed behind her. She personally would never betray something like that, but a servant would. Isidor himself may not be a magician but to be associated with one – especially is brother – could be very dangerous for him. “Isidor,” she breathed, softly, coming to stand beside him. They were not friends but she enjoyed the way he fumbled about in polite society, the way that she unnerved him merely for being a kind woman. Now was not the time that she was thinking of those things, though. She needed to protect him or he would end up in one of the mountain ditches faster than he could pretend to turn lead to gold. 

“Do not tell anyone that.” She said quietly, the whisper passing between the small space between them. “Please. Do not tell anyone that your brother is a necromancer. I would be very disappointed if anything was to happen to you.” That much was true. She stepped back from him and looked around the alchemy. The idea that he knew someone that was capable of great feats of magic thrilled her but would frighten a great number of courtly individuals. Especially due to his alchemical ties, nobles would think that he was performing magic meant to bring down the monarchy – to completely upheave the social situation that was present in their country.

A smile played her face when she took her seat again. “I do not mean to frighten you, alchemist.” She said the tone someone affectionately. “I just, don’t want a stray word to cause something irreparable to happen. I was hoping…” she planned on changing the subject entirely. “I was hoping you might teach me some about alchemy. If it is not too much trouble from you though, I don’t want to be an inconvenience or delay the important work that you are doing for the king.” She swallowed and rang her hands in her lap, nervous. As a princess she was not in the habit of asking, but around him she felt normal…she felt natural. It was pleasant and she didn’t want to destroy that by asking him something that might irritate him. She still did not know him well but she found his presence soothing.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:30 am
by Requiem
He wanted to take it back. He needed to, even for all he detested his brother for the life that he led and the deeds that followed him, but he couldn't. The words were out, and so was the secret. There is magic in the name Kristeva. It was what his mother had always told them, even when he hadn't cared to listen.
And now Alais knew. So comfortable had he become around the noblewoman that he had relaxed enough to talk about his family--a little too much, unfortunately. But with the secret out, the alchemist's hackles rose in fear, with the remainder of what little colour was in his face draining as soon as he'd realized what he had done.

"Alais, I beg of you," he began, fingers gripping the edge of his desk, dark eyes wide with his plea. "Do not mention this to everyone. I-I don't posses... abilities such as that, myself. Truly, Vitali was the black sheep of our family. He must have inherited his skills through his father, to whom, like I mentioned, I hold no relation... A-and even necromancy, in and of itself, is not exactlymagic..."
Who was he trying to fool? Alais was no idiot, even if she was largely unfamiliar with the nature of magics such as that of what the Kristeva bloodline presented. And he couldn't lie; not in that he did not want to--oh, wouldn't that have made for an easy cover!--but rather, he was a poor and transparent liar. It would only serve to dig himself deeper into this pit of danger...

But, to his great surprise, luck did not appear to be playing a strong hand against them. Alais would not only maintain her silence for his sake, of that he was now convinced, given the tone of her demeanor and the worry that reflected in both her face and her voice. But she was worried for what might happen if that information did slip out, reaching ears of those who would seek to condemn him.
"Thank you. I will not make the same mistake again." The alchemist pressed a heavy sigh from his lungs, his shoulders sagging with relief. "It is honestly for the best if we discuss my family no further. Believe me, my lineage will not do me any favours in this kingdom, and not just for rumours of magic..."

And just like that, the topic of his family was dropped, in place for the topic of his trade and profession. Just like the flickering bits of copper in the round globe that he had given to Alais, Isidor's eyes lit up with surprise, and maybe a hint of delight. "You want to learn... alchemy? And that wouldn't be taboo for a noble woman such as yourself?" He didn't mean to make assumptions, but it seemed like a curious interest for someone if a higher class. Then again, Alais didn't exactly come across as an orthodox noblewoman. She was... different. In a way that he could not quite describe, but that was no less refreshing.
The corners of his mouth turned upward in a smile. "Regardless, if you are really interested, I would be more than happy to impart some information. I cannot guarantee that I would be the most efficient instructor, but the very basics of the art are not difficult to grasp. Especially if you are already well versed in the physical and theoretical sciences."


Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 838
Topic starter  
by Simply
Alaiscina might have thought that his terror was amusing, had the threat not been as real as I was. “Think of it no more.” She waved her hand as she might have had she been presiding over court with her father. In her mind, the conversation about the terrors of admitting magic would no longer be an issue. Yet, the prospect of him knowing someone with magic was exciting. She wanted to know more about his brother – about this Vitali. Isidor did not seem too keen on magic and discussing it, however and so she put those thoughts aside for another time.

She did not fail to notice the excitement in his gaze. Alaiscina had been instructed on how to read a person, how to manipulate them best. Some people responded to flattery like a thirsty man to a glass of water. Others craved a forbidden touch, the prospect of something delicious between the sheets. Still others craved the sharing knowledge. Fortunately for Isidor, she was not influencing him at this juncture. The princess was genuinely interested in learning about alchemy and learning from him. His mind seemed to work differently from how it did with other people. Brushing her fingertips against her head, she smiled at him brightly – almost like the sunshine. “I do, very much so, if you would be willing to teach me.” Shimmering blue eyes captured his directly, realizing that he recognized how revolutionary her request was. The intensity of his intelligent was invigorating, as was his ineptitude with social situations. “It is…unusual for a woman to be so educated, but I was lucky that my family encouraged that I was tutored in every subject. Alchemy, I have the basics of, but it is not the basics that I am interested in.” She stood up once more and peered over his shoulder at the papers that he was shuffling around. 

The subject of her family was to be avoided as much as his and so she quickly decided to change the subject from the optic of conversation that they were on. “Perhaps, you could start me out with something simple and some readings so that I could prepare for our next sessions. Would twice a week be adequate? I do not want to distract you from you required duties for the king.” She knew that her father would be very harsh to Isidor if he did not make the necessary progress at the appropriate points in time.

Leaning away from him, a high table pressed into the small of her back. “I would very much appreciate it. Anything that you can give me to read, I would greatly enjoy. I do find reading one of the finest escapes from the unbearable constraints of reality.” A delicate smile placed on her lips and she found that anxiousness pressed to her stomach, hoping that he would eagerly tutor her.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:00 pm
by Requiem
"Wait... you mean, it is unusual for women to pursue education? Am I really interpreting this correctly...?"
It has been such a benign statement, uttered in passing. Barely more that persiflage to the young noble woman before him, who so desired to pursue an interest that would not have been otherwise available to her, in the absence of his presence here at this palace. Inability to study what is not readily available to you was understandable, but the way Alais made it sound, it seemed as though the pursuit of any deep art, science or philosophical interest was not part of any woman's life expectations.
How the world beyond the Outbounds so differed from what he'd known... or what he'd thought he had known.

Shaking his head, he adjusted his spectacles on the bridge of his nose. "My apologies, I didn't mean to take this conversation on a tangent. I simply mean that in my travels as a youth, the majority of the most insightful people I ever encountered happened to be women. The idea that here, pursuit of knowledge is so limited by gender... well, I find that rather perplexing. But that is beside the point, and I apologize for my digression." Putting down his quill, he stood to survey the array of bookcases in his study. How he told them apart, with so many bearing the typical brown, leather features of old tomes, was a mystery that likely had no tangible answer, but at last he set his sights on one towards that top, which he reached with relative ease. There were sometimes advantages to being tall.

"The so-called 'basics' of Alchemy are not the same for everyone. In fact, my primary mentor once advised be that some get the basics all wrong, and and up building their knowledge upon a brittle and unstable foundation of the craft. So before you make any assumptions, or deign to move forward, I implore you read this." Isidor handed her the book; small for its size, its pages soft and ages, and the gold-embossed title long since having faded. "This was my very first workbook, and its teachings have structured everything that I have built upon this far. I do have a silly, sentimental attachment to it, for that reason, so I implore that you take good care of it and treat it with kindness... But I think that it will give you the understanding that you need before we take anything further."

On top of the careful black print, many of the pages bore the scawls of a quill, faded over the years, but no less legible. In fact, there was nary a page without a note or a diagram sketched in the margins. "Ah... feel free to ignore my handwriting," he acknowledged, recalling the book was full of it. "Writing and rewriting and turning everything into a visual reference is how I learn. Don't let it distract you from the body of the text... But do take note of things that you find confusing. And when you are done, come see me, and we can discuss what subsequent steps best suit your interest." With a quirky smile, he asked, "Would that suit your needs? I can guarantee I will be of better use to you as a tutor, if your blocks of knowledge are built upon the same foundations as mine."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:13 pm
by Simply
“Please, do not apologize for tangents. Some of the most remarkable conversations occur because someone started on a tangent.” A smile held itself against her mouth, having been present since he had started talking. The intriguing thing is that he has absolutely not idea how entertaining the cadence of his speech is. The thought made a flush of red splash along her cheeks and she lowered her head slightly, letting curls cover her face so that they wouldn’t be visible to him. Though, odds were that she could turn purple and he might not notice. A grin spread across her face at that and she shook her head, focusing back on his words. 

Alais took the book he offered her and turned it over in her hands, running her fingers along the pages of the book. A faint rim of gold was evident on front but had faded extensively with time. The leather was soft and indicated that it had been drawn back and touched numerous times. Yet, the pages were well pressed and cared for. Of course, though, she would expect nothing less. While she had known him for but a short time, it was easy to discern the particular nature that was Isidor. He was peculiar but direct. There were no games with him, no hidden agenda that she could discern and she considered her rather adept at discovering those things that people wished to hide. 

"Are you certain?” She asked, suddenly wary of taking such a precious item from him. He had already bestowed the beautiful glass object on her without repayment and she knew that something like this would be a loss if anything were to happen to it. The princess would take extremely good care of it, certainly, but it made her nervous to have something so valuable in her care. He seemed to trust her, though. 

“This…this is too generous but I promise that I will not disappoint you. I am quite the proficient pupil.” Outside of the room she heard the bell toll and she rose quickly to her feet. “I fear I’ve tarried too long, but perhaps I might visit again when I complete the assigned reading. Do not hesitate to give me work to do in between meetings either. I am a swift reader and capable.” Alais smiled and held the book close to her chest, cradling it as though it was so precious to her – which it would become no doubt. 

“Good day, alchemist.” She bit her lip and, very unladylike, winked at him. Her flight from his chambers was swift because she needed deposit her new addition in her chambers before attending to a meeting her father had devised for her. All the while her father droned on about something miraculous that her sister had done, her mind wandered to the book and its contents. The moment they were dismissed, she fled faster than she had from Isidor’s laboratory. Her servants undressed her and she donned her nightgown and slipped into bed.

Three candles flickered along the walls and illuminated the first page of the text before her. Blue eyes darted back and forth along each page and then she paused and her fingers traced the words he had written along the edges of the paper. It was scribbled hurriedly but intelligently. She flipped back to the beginning and read all of his words. It made her understand him, almost. The way Isidor cared so much about his work sang from the pages and pierced her heart. Alais finished half of the small volume before the candles flickered hungrily, having consumed all of the wax that had once made them tall. She read on until the darkness swallowed her and she drifted off to sleep lulled by dreams of a man that could turn soft brown strands of hair into gold.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 7:17 pm
by Requiem
There was a good deal that Isidor had yet to discover about Alais, given that he knew little to nothing about her. She was of noble blood and standing, that much was a given. And she--for whatever reason--had a keen interest to learn, and at alchemy, of all things. She had an eye for brilliance and shiny trinkets, but also compassion and patience for someone such as himself, who was taking so slowly to life at this palace.
Truth be told, she was far from what he had imagined to find of any woman in a place like this. And the more they interacted, they more he realized how little he knew--and the more he realized he wanted to know more.

But it wasn't as simple as seeing her whenever he wanted to, or vice versa. Alais had made it clear that her interactions with the palace's new alchemist had been--at least, thus far--clandestine in nature. There were expectations surrounding her lifestyle, just as there were his, that it was within her class stature not to betray, and it was not as if he could expect to converse with her on a daily basis. So the quiet, clumsy alchemist passed his time with the impossible work bestowed upon him by this kingdom's monarch, hoping every single day, even just a little, that his curious visitor would stop by. He was, after all, rather curious as to how her studies were progressing.

So over the course of the next week, Isidor may have made a slight habit of leaving the door to his study ajar and crossing the room to peer into the hallway, on the off chance that Alais might wander by. More often than not, he encounter the scolding or surprised glances of the palace help, whose withering glares encouraged him to scamper back to his desk. Except for one day, just over a week later, when he saw Alais dressed in her regal attire, striding down the corridor with haste. In fact, he saw her twice, that day.

Twice, at the very same time...

"Oh...! Ah, good afternoon, Miss Alais," It was a handful of days following that confusing event that the young man greeted her at her curious glance into his office. "I'm glad to see you; it's been over a week, so I wondered how you were coming along with the book that I lent you." Taking his glasses from the bridge of his nose, he polished the lenses on the bottom of his slightly disheveled shirt. "I daresay it might be time for a new prescription... just the other day, my eyes had me seeing double of you. Imagine that." He attempted a shaky smile at his lame attempt a humour. "But in any case--is there anything that has you confused? Or do you feel you might be ready for some more focused reading?"

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:46 pm
by Simply
Alais smiled sweetly at her twin, standing in the hallway. “I’ll see you at dinner, dear sister. I do have some business to attend to prior to our ever exciting family meals.” She turned on her heels and slipped away, hoping to read some before she was required to eat with her father and sister. Lucy stood there, irritated and about to leave when someone called her Alais. She nearly scoffed and brushed the man aside. However, something about him calling her sister by an intimate name was intriguing.

Instead, she merely smiled and nodded as he spoke. So her sister was meeting with this man, getting books from him. For what end? For what purpose? The manner needed further investigation and she did have a few minutes to spare. “Ha.” She tried to keep her voice light and terribly sing-song like her twin’s. “Imagine that. What a silly thing to see. You should see the castle physician for that. He would be able to prescribe you something a bit stronger to prevent such an occurrence.”

“I have been so drawn in by the work.” She responded, something vague and she placed her hand on his arm, looking up at him with her bright eyes. Lucy was an expert at manipulating people to her needs and this man would be no exception, but she did have to make it to dinner shortly. It never did for Alaiscina to arrive before her to the table. The eldest heir was quite set on showing up her sister at every possible moment. If Alais arrived early, Lucy was there beforehand and already started on the work. If her sister was dressed in the plain black of morning, then Lucy had the darkest veil to obscure her features from the fellow mourners. Lucy was always one step ahead of her sister and now she had uncovered something that Alais surely did not want discovered. This man also had no idea that she was a twin.

“But I am very much looking forward to continue working together on this and any further readings that you can send my way would be most appreciated. Unfortunately, I have a dinner to attend. Just have the servants send them to my chambers.” She smiled sweetly and learned upwards to place a kiss on the side of his cheek. She knew Alais would pitch a fit about that. “It was good to see you again. Hopefully we’ll run into each other again soon.”

While all this was occurring, Alaiscina was allowing herself to be dressed for dinner with her hair plaited simply down her back. While the servants worked on her hair, she was holding a book from the library aloft – something that she had picked up on her own to further her own research. Unlike her sister led on, she had finished the book that Isidor had given her three days after he had given it to her.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 1:51 pm
by Requiem
"Ah... yes, of course." Isidor replied hastily, adjusting his glasses on his nose. "I will be sure to see your physician, here, should the service be permitted for me..."
So strange, that their encounter appeared... well, fleeting, for lack of a better word. Every other time, Alais seemed to desire a long and drawn-out conversation; it was part of the reason he found himself so drawn to her. A kindred spirit with an equal passion for sating curiosity... And yet, on this occasion, it appeared as though she was more interested in attending dinner.

The young alchemist might have been offended, had it not been for the hand on his arm that all but paralyzed him, and the kiss on his cheek that made his heart stop.

She had kissed him. A woman had kissed him. Alaiscina had kissed him, and for the life of him, he didn't know what to do with himself.

Flustered and entirely without words to articulate, Isidor watched with hit cheeks as Alaiscina walked away, to attend a dinner of the likes that he would probably never see. She has kissed him; only upon the cheek, but how... when... 
The young man spent a good portion of the remainder of his evening dwelling on the social customs of this strange kingdom. To his limited knowledge of personal relations, kisses were an intimate gesture. But he and Alais.... they were little more than acquaintances, we're they not?

As it turned out, he had the opportunity to ask her later that night, as he was returning from the armory, to examine the make of the weapons.

"Good... er, a fine evening, Miss Alais. Um..." Tripping over his own tongue, he cleared his throat to begin again. The empty corridor suddenly felt suffocating in her presence. "My memory must be deceiving me... I thought you were dressed differently just hours ago. But no matter." Pasting on a nervous smile, he added, "You should be pleased to know I have sent new materials to your chambers, via your handmaidens, as you requested earlier. I hope you will find them adequate. And of course, never hesitate to contact me, should you find yourself confused."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:51 pm
by Simply
That would serve Alais right, Lucy thought to herself as she slipped towards dinner. That little minx had been meeting with the alchemist on her own time in and effort to what…learn alchemy? Thoughts plagued her as she moved towards her destination. Why would she want to learn alchemy? No, that surely could not be it. Her sister had always enjoyed fraternizing with lower class citizens. It was likely something as simple as that. Yes, it had to be.

Dinner passed uneventfully. The elder twin would find the right moment to strike her sister in the heart. Yet, it had to be soon so that Alaiscina did not have a chance to speak with her new companion. As they dined, she was abnormally silent, mulling over the possibilities. 

Were they lovers? No…surely Alais would never…But a wicked smile found its way to Lucy’s lips and lingered for the remainder of the evening.

Alaiscina escaped the meal unscathed and wove her way down the halls. Perhaps she could stop by and see Isidor before she retired to bed in order to read the last of the book she had taken form the library. Bright blue eyes sparked when she head his voice, smiling up at him. “Isidor. It is such a pleasure to see you, as always.” Something about his demeanor was abnormal, even more uncomfortable in her presence than what she had grown accustomed to over the short time they had spent together thus far. He kept stammering on and at first her smile grew, like that of an amused parent with a confused child. Slowly, as he continued, her brows came together. 

“I fear I am confused. I haven’t seen you yet this day.” Perhaps he had spent too long in his study. She hadn’t seem him in a few days…Lucille.

A hard lump formed in her throat and fear gripped her heart. What had he said to Lucy? Surely it had not related to her father. The pounding of her heart was so loud that she could barely hear and her balance began to be affected. Alais had been so foolish. Chastising herself as she grew dizzy was not productive, either. She reached out a hand in the empty hallway and held herself upright.

“Isidor…I did not speak with you today, but you are certain that you saw me, that we spoke?” She had to make certain that he wasn’t confused. Then, oh then, she had to tell him she had a sister. Even thought the master alchemist was not particularly socially adept, he would know that their features were indistinguishable from one another. He would discern that she had a twin and the only twins living within her kingdom were the daughters of the king. 

He would despise her when he found out. He would never want to speak to her again. She had been so foolish, so damned reckless.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2015 6:29 pm
by Requiem
I fear I am confused... I haven't seen you yet, this day.

There was no question as to whether or not madness ran in the bloodline of the young alchemist; his necromantic brother was proof enough. But despite his sharp penchant for introversion, his social anxieties and his keenness to delve as deep into his art as possible, Isidor Kristeva had never once, in his entire, solitary life, considered himself to be mad.
That is, not until now, when the question no longer seemed to be about his glasses or his eyes, but rather, his mind.

"But I...I mean, just hours ago, you... I could have sworn..." His head ached as he struggled to comprehend just what was going on, and how such a palpable encounter--she had touched his arm, had kissed him upon the cheek, even!--could have been but a manifestation of some form of insanity. Certainly, he was the creative sort, but not nearly enough to imagine something that was so clear has day.
Even if her face had been present in his dreams... no, he did not imagine all of it, and of that, he was certain.

But then... if not Alaiscina, exactly who had he spoken with, some hours ago in that very corridor? Isidor brought his fingertips to his cheek, recalling the soft lips that had pressed a chaste kiss there. He could still feel that featherlight pressure, like a ghost on his skin, and it brought a hint of rouge to his otherwise alabaster cheeks. "Miss Alaiscina... please, pardon my insistence, but I... we did indeed speak earlier. We must have--why else would I maintain a memory of it?"

As if urging her to remember, he took a step closer, until the distance between them shrank to inches. "I joked about requiring a new pair of glasses; you suggested I see your physician for a new prescription, and you requested that I send more readings your way, to your chamber... How is it that you cannot recall any of this, which only occurred hours ago? I swear to you, I am not mad, and how else could you explain..."

Isidor's voice trailed off as something dawned on him; something that had been brought up in this so-called fictional conversation. "Miss Alais... I had mentioned how, not long ago, I thought... I truly thought that I was seeing doubles of your form. If this is something that you can explain..." He left the comment open-ended, welcoming--needing--her input.

Or else, all that there was left was to accept his own insanity.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:06 pm
by Simply
“Yes, yes I know.” She said, reaching out to place her hand on his arm. She drew him to the side of the corridor and into a small sitting room. She closed the door partially, letting a small crack be the connection between them and the outer portion of the castle. It was evident that there was a copious amount of explaining to do to the alchemist that had become her friend.

Alais chewed on the inside of her cheek as she gestured to one of the chairs in the room. “Please, sit. I can explain.” Could she though? Revealing to him that she was the daughter of the man he hated most would certainly not be something he would take to kindly. Working on the inside of her cheek quickly resulted in the metallic taste of blood flooding across her tongue. She winced and sat across from him, on the edge of the chair.

Nervous hands smoothed down the fabric of her dress. “You are, indeed, not mad, Isidor.” The words came softly and with great care as she attempted to explain herself. This was going to end the only real friendship that she had developed and it would halt her studies into alchemy. Yet, she could not continue with a façade that he had discovered on his own. Additionally, she needed to protect him any future run-ins with her nefarious sister. 

The heaviest of all sighs filled the space between them. This was far too difficult to put into words. “Isidor…I,” Alais’s lips pursed and she chewed on them for a moment. Anxiety pressed itself against her heart, causing her hands to sweat feverishly. She had never wanted to reveal who she was to him. AS the silence grew, a thought came to her. Isidor was relatively inept at society and he did not care much for court politics. Perhaps, perhaps he did not know that the only set of twins in the entirety of the realm were the king’s own children. Perhaps, she could attempt to hide that fact a little longer. It was cruel, this thing she was doing – continuing to lie to him if she could. 

“Youmusthavemetmysister. Lucille.” She said finally and the words all kind of blended together. “She is…” Alais shook her head and a dark curl brushed across her face and she moved them away in an irritated fashion with her fingertips. “Lucille enjoys playing games with my life and those that do not have an ulterior motive for being in it. The cruelty in her is…extensive. When you assumed that she was me, she played along. You must have met her before dinner.” Another shake of her head and she placed it in her hands, like a child being scolded. “I’m sorry, I should have told you but…she.” Another heavy sigh. “She id not someone I like to introduce to people. It is difficult enough to be her blood relative.”

Alais' blue eyes rose to meet his face, in hopes of discerning his emotions regarding her recent explanation of what he had experienced. Please, please understand.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 12:23 am
by Requiem
Her sister... she is a twin?!

The shock of being dragged into a small room with another person (and a woman, no less!) soon paled in comparison to the shock of the news that Alaiscina delivered. For a moment, Isidor just stared as it sank in slowly.
An identical twin. Alaiscina had an identical twin sister who had purposely sought to dupe him, to take advantage of his ignorance and the information he was only now receiving. And yet, it was not Alaiscina at whom he directed his frustration.

"Foolish..." The young alchemist breathed, and raked a hand through his hair. "I can't believe I was such an imbecile! I should have thought of... But she acted so much like you, and..." Heaving , heavy sigh, Isidor pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "I was manipulated. Which is no excuse, I know, but... it never occurred to me, not even once, that you were a twin, Miss Alais. This really is news to me... 

"However..." He paused, deep in thought as he considered his words carefully, so as not to stammer, and at laid his hands upon his knees. "However, I understand your hesitation in informing me. Family can be bothersome sometimes, can it not?" A fraction of a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "Between you and me, my dear brother, Vitali, is more often than not the bane of my very existence... I bring him up as little as possible in conversation, for that reason." Fortunately, he socialized so little that when he did hold conversations, they were very seldom small talk.

"But be that as it may... I hope it is not too forward of me to ask you for honesty and disclosure of anything that might affect me, directly or indirectly. For the sake of a proper, working relationship..." Isidor offered her his hand to shake. "Do we have an agreement, then? I can give you my sincerest of promises that I will not be duped by your sister again."

If only that were his biggest obstacle... but nothing could have prepared him for what was to come.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:17 pm
by Simply
His internalization of her deceit surprised her and she leaned back in the chair, pressing her hands to her stomach. Her actions, and those of her sister, made her stomach churn uneasily. Bright blue eyes examined his face carefully.

“It is not a thing that one would think of when encountering my sister. Twins are…uncommon,” at this, she nearly gave a sad sigh, “after all.” And he divulged personal information. Isidor continued to surprise the princess as she sat across from him, telling him facts that every other person in the castle knew already. He was so trusting, even after she had withheld information from him. Non-nobles clearly had greater capacities for forgiveness than their higher-ranking counterparts.

At his request, she stood up from the chair and traveled over to the window, looking down at the manicured grounds that surrounding what may be her inheritance, one day. “Your willingness to overlook what I did not tell you, shows how great a man you really are, but…” Brown curls bounced back and force gently as she shook her head, keeping her back to him as she spoke.

Alais knew that if she told him, the probability that he would reject her was high. The idea of such rejection…she was being selfish, she knew. Did that make her more like her father? Chewing on her lip, she pondered what to say and the silence filled the spaces between them. This was a course that she had never had to traverse down before. Friendship was not a luxury that she had ever been able to afford, despite being the third most power individual in all the realm.

“I cannot…do you find it that not divulging is just as detrimental as outright deceptions?” She moved back over to the chair that he occupied and knelt down beside it. Eager eyes looked up at him, pleading. “There are things I cannot tell you about myself, Isidor. I do not take pride in them and I think that you would…not seek my companionship if you knew. I do not withhold them from you out of malice or with an intent to harm you but I do not…take pleasure in their disclosure.”

Casting her gaze down, she took a slow breath and then looked at him once more. “If you insist, I will tell you but know that I would prefer not to discuss them, to make them known.”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:48 pm
by Requiem
And wasn't that just Isidor's luck: that beyond the predicted difficulties of conversing with a beautiful young woman--the moist palms, the rapid pace of his heart, and the utter loss of just the right words--she was presenting him with a choice. And not just any choice, but one that put him in the unfortunate position of having the foresight to realize that there was no good answer to this conundrum. There was no hiding the fact that he wanted to know more about miss Alais, especially in light of her confession that there was more to her than met the alchemist's socially blind eyes. However, knowing that it would put her in a position of great discomfort, were he to ask her to divulge...

"It is... I mean, I a hardly more than a servant in this place, miss Alais." Isidor struggled for the reasoning behind his words, fiddling with the rim of his glasses out of purely nervous habit. "After all, I am here to serve. And it is beyond... no, it is strictly no my place to be asking questions, much though my curiosity might plague me. Especially with regard to details that you would prefer to keep carefully under wraps. We are all entitled to our sacred privacy... Far be it from me to invade yours."

He did not know how to conclude his decision with anything more than a weak smile, followed by nervous fingers through the dark locks of his hair. "I do trust you, miss Alais, and I have no doubt that were something apt to affect me, you would let me know." At least, that was what he hoped; that his trust was not so naive and misguided that her secrets were the key to condemning him. But the young alchemist, though he was anxious, was not paranoid. There were more secrets circulating this palace than what concerned him; he was only a pawn. The bigger picture existed externally of his presence. "I do apologize if I have been out of line... if my queries have exceeded the propriety of my position."

To still the fidgeting of his hands, Isidor hovered over his desk and picked up a letter opener, before turning his attention to the small pile of letters and notices that he had absentmindedly neglected over the past handful of days. "Your business is your own. I will, of course, remain available for questions, should you decide to continue your studies in alchemy--"

And that was all it took; one slip of his attention, his eyes in the wrong place, while his hands attempted to open a letter with no visual guidance, and the tip of the sharp letter opener slid straight across his palm. Crimson blood welled in its wake, like his skin had been made of paper, and he hissed before the sharp, steel tool clattered to onto his desk, speckling the piled parchments with droplets of his blood. "Gods-forsaken... I am such a clumsy fool," Isidor breathed, curling his slender fingers around the wound. "Forgive my idiocy, miss Alais... Conversation is apparently not a task I can carry out in tandem with clerical duties--or anything else, for that matter..."


Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:34 pm
by Simply
“You are kind and it belies the truth of who you really are.” He moved past her to his desk and her eyes followed him. “You are not from this court. And I promise that my words are not a slight against you. In fact, I am envious of your upbringing. Sacred privacy…” She chuckled at it, though it was not just in humor. A princess has no privacy. Her life was that of her people, bound to the whims of her king. “That is not a concept that I am quite familiar with. You will learn rather swiftly that once someone knows something within these walls, it does not remain secret for long. Gossip is as much the currency here as gold.”

Rising, she hovered back, not following him as he busied himself with his desk. His words settled the guilt of her discretion firmly in a knot in her belly. She should disclose her true identity to him but it would warp their relationship. It would be subsequently irreparable. He would distrust her – as the heir to the throne – and she was not ready to part with that just yet. Lips grew dry as they parted, soft breaths rushing over them. Alais’ tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth and resided there for some time. Bound physically and mentally, she could not bring herself to tell him the truth. 

The idea of ceasing her pursuit of alchemy finally wet her parched mouth. “Of course, I wish to continue should you still desire to be my instructor.” A hiss, then the tang of blood filled the air and her blue eyes dated towards him. “Ah, Isidor, what have you done?” She moved over towards him, her previous hesitations vanishing now that he was in need of assistance. Promptly, her hand enveloped his and she cradled it with them both. Prying his fingers apart, she turned the wound from side to side, examining it more extensively. “It doesn’t look as deep as it feels, I think.”

Rose lips curled into a smile as she looked up at him and then back down. “We are all clumsy at times. Think nothing of it.” It came out as more of a command that it was meant to be, such was the byproduct of being a princess. “And you are being mighty hard on yourself for so simple an act. Do you have any bandages here? I should think so, if you claim this happens frequently.” She pressed his hand closed once more and began rummaging. After a few moments of searching, ignoring the protests of the alchemist, Alais found yellowing bandages and alcohol in a small stopper. She opened it and wafted the smell towards her, just to confirm that it was appropriately labeled. Grinning at him, she said, “Didn’t want to end up inadvertently turning you into a toad.” She sprinkled a bit of the liquid on the wound and wrapped it gently. 

“Didn’t that wandering mother of your ever teach you not to handle sharp objects when distracted by a beautiful woman?” It was merely meant in jest, but she realized, who she had spoken to. Probably wasn’t the best audience for that. She immediately expected him to turn the deepest shade of red humanly possible. “That was mean as a joke, of course. And now that you’re properly tended to, perhaps you should call it a day on the alchemy.” The princess drew back from him and moved towards the door. “I think you need some sunshine. What do you say to a walk on the grounds? I can give you the tour,” for some reason, Alais enjoyed teasing the poor, nervous man, “if you’re not feeling faint from all the blood loss, that is.”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:53 pm
by Requiem
"I-it's not... I'm sure it's fine, just--"
The determined woman of royal descent did not give him a chance to finish stammering his nervous protests before she seized the young alchemist's hand to see the injury for herself. Her appraisal of the damage done was, he had to give her credit, very accurate; beneath the blood welling in his cupped hand, the laceration itself was superficial, at best, only having penetrated his flesh by a fraction of an inch. This came with a heavy sense of relief; for someone who was just as hands-on within their realm of work as they were busying themselves within books and seas of words, and injury that would force him to pause in his endeavors was nothing less of a fear--particularly in his given situation, where his employment wasn't even voluntary.

Uncertain as to how to respond to her comment about being hard on himself (it wasn't something he had ever really considered), he was late on responding to her inquiry about bandages, which he had fully intended to retrieve himself. "In the cupboard above your head, though really, do not worry yourself with retrieving them..." Except, not only did she already have the bleached strips of coarse cotton in her hand, but a bottle of medical grade antiseptic; far quicker on her feet than he was with his tongue. "Now," a frown pulled the corners of his mouth downward. "Clumsy I may be, but I am not fool enough to keep anything in the medical cupboard but medical supplies. Not that alchemy has ever been known for turning humans into toads..."

A hiss escaped his lips at the aching burn of the antiseptic on his open wound, the pain lingering even as Alais wrapped his bloodied palm in the thick bandages. There was, he supposed, no real point in feigning nonchalance to the minor injury, or the fact that his pain tolerance was next to non-existent. It seemed that the noblewoman had already seen Isidor at his very worst, whether it be fumbling or stammering or inadvertently hurting himself; if she hadn't decided he was not worth her time and attention by now, then he was convinced he'd made it into the clear.

"My mother... was not exactly of the teaching sort," he confided, seeming uncertain as to whether or not he felt he should be ashamed of that fact. "She shared so little and was more than happy to cut us loose at a young age. Although I must say in all honesty that my inability to converse and use my hands at the same time is purely my own fault." After all, he had chosen the path of his studies, working under a mentor for years, and then locking himself away in his tower in the woods. Away from women; away from people. Away from everything, just as he had desired. It had never occurred to him that he might actually be missing out.

It also had never occurred to him that he looked as though he 'needed' sunlight. "You know," he challenged, furrowing his brow, "that pallor is actually healthier for the skin than too much sun exposure..." Oh. A beat too late, he realized she was only teasing him--something Alais had evidently taken to doing. He could not blame her; he made a rather easy target of himself. "But... on the other hand, there is no harm in the occasional stroll. Although... only on the condition that you will not absorb any sort of fault for being seen with me." Worry smoothed his brow, but was already a dead giveaway in the way that he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and already had begun to fidget with the bandage around his hand. "I am not exactly fit to be perceived as company to nobility in public."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:14 pm
by Simply
Alais smiled broadly when he accepted, clasping her hands together at her chest. “Good, that settles that matter. I thought you might take more convincing.” The conditional manner in which the alchemist accepted her proposal only made her laughter fill his laboratory. “I appreciate the concern you have for the perceived detriment your company might place upon my social standing, but think no more of it. “ The princess hurried him out the door, not failing to notice the fidgeting that had begun. She hoped that she was not being too forward with him. Yet her twin had already discovered his companionship, so what more actual harm could occur by a late afternoon stroll?

“Was your mother’s early release of you to free her time or to allow you the freedom to discover pursuits on your own?” The inquiry was soft, as she expertly maneuvered them through the halls. The grey stones passed by, occasionally adorned with portraits, in a blur as they had become commonplace to her – nothing deserving of an extra glance. “I cannot imagine how differently I might have turned out had my parents employed such tactics of child rearing.” An offhand comment, but something that drew her thoughts. Isidor was fascinating to her – beyond the alchemy and lack of social graces. Something intrigued her. Alais decided that it had to be the fact that he did not know who she was. Being an enigma appealed to her. Never before in her life has someone treated her as…not a potential heir to the realm.

The reached the door and it was readily opened by a servant passing through towards the lower kitchens. He bowed low to her as he did so but she merely inclined her head. The sun’s warmth spread across her forehead immediately followed by the breath of a breeze kissing her cheeks. She sighed contentedly and looped her arm through his, ignoring the tension that would likely develop in his frame. Absently, she wondered if a woman had ever been so informal with him.

“The gardens are expansive, but I’ll show you my favorite. The queen’s gardens, they are commonly called, for the late king’s wife. She wanted a place she could retire to…somewhere that would feel small – like the house she had grown up in. She was not much like the nobility that frequent court.” Her tone was wistful, longing. Rounding the corner of the greater rose path, she careened them through an archway before suddenly stopping. “Oh! Close your eyes.” She laughed, releasing his arm to stand in front of him. Blue eyes were alight with mischief. Far off, a few ladies’ giggles traveled the air to their ears. “Close them,” placing her hand gently above both his wrists. “Now, tell me what you smell. I believe this is something you’ve used before. What do you smell?” 

The white jasmine flower was in full bloom at this time of the year and a small crop had infested the corner of her mother’s garden. Apparently the gardeners had attempted on numerous occasions to ride the area of the plant but had been unsuccessful. It had always given Alais solace, a reminder of the mother she had never known. Its uses, among the ladies of the court, were for…devious means. Its perfume, the product of crushing the petals, was an aphrodisiac. Occasionally, the princess had caught a servant girl or a waiting lady snagging a few. The oil, however, was therapeutic to coughs and hoarseness of the throat. She had read that in one of the recommended volumes for studying biology and science.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:17 am
by Requiem
"If you say so..." Though it appeared that Isidor had little choice as to whether his concern for being seen in her company was worth any merit. Before he could further protest, the young alchemist found himself being led out of his office, Alais's hand on his arm. It was all he could do not to survey and analyze the expressions of those who they passed, bowing to miss Alais and likely wondering why she was keeping such strange and undeserving company. Gods have sufficient mercy that I should not find myself in deep trouble for being away from my work... to spend time with one who should not desire my presence at all.

Contrary to what might have been a popular belief, Isidor Kristeva was no stranger to sunlight--not entirely, at least. There had, after all, been sufficient windows installed in his lonesome tower. But the amount of time that he spent in the outdoors compared to any other person was significantly less, and try though he might, the young alchemist would never grow used to the blinding glare of a cloudless sky. He all be flinched when, linked to Alais, the two stepped into noontime, the sun high in the sky. He could practically feel the rays penetrating his pale skin, and instantly regretted not requesting a hat--or even a parasol, for that matter. But he refrained from complaining, lest his unlikely companion think less of him for it. It wasn't the place of a commoner to express dislike to nobility.

"My mother was... I feel she was less inclined to be a mother, and more inclined to be a partial mentor." He offered a shrug at Alais's inquiry; it had not been something he had often considered. Having grown up the way he had, family matters had held less weight than what was considered conventional. "She taught us what she knew, but expressed no real interest in raising us. In that sense, I suppose, she gave us room to explore our paths and make the choices we so desired. I learned early on that my path revolved around alchemy and scholarship--to which my mother could offer no real contribution." Furrowing his brow, he struggled to recall where family togetherness had ended, and where his future had begun. "I met my mentor in alchemy during our travels... to be honest, I cannot recall even saying goodbye to my mother. It was a very natural transition; and I think she predicted it."

As Alais began to explain the gardens and their composition, his thoughts drifted from his mother and family, redirected to the smell that his companion pointed out. "I--ah, all right," he murmured, shutting his eyes in compliance. He recognized the smell before she named it. "Jasmine," he concluded with a curt nod. "It has multiple uses, particularly if its oil is extracted for cough remedies and sore throats. There is some speculation that its scent by nature is an aphrodisiac, but..." And that was all that it took to bring a deep flush to his face, sunlight aside. Isidor cleared his throat and changed the subject. "A lovely herb, all the same. What other flora does this garden contain? It would be useful to know in order to further my work for His Majesty. Some of the most common herbs, if exploited just the right way, have magical properties that one would never think of."

As Alais led him through the lush gardens, Isidor, without realizing it, became more and more relaxed, and it was not long before he forgot all about being in the presence of nobility. Few so much as turned their heads as the two of them passed, and the more time he spent with the young woman whose hand rested upon his arm, the more she found her way into his comfort zone; slowly, but surely. "Well, I must say, I did not realize was I was missing in failing to explore these gardens before." A smile lit up his pale face as they passed rose bushes taller than the two of them, creating a wall on either side. "I owe you my thanks, miss Alais. I will admit, this was not a venture that I would have ever made on my own, but for the solitude this place offers... I daresay, I may even find myself able to step out of my study and conduct some of my work here. Provided the strong scent of lavender does not distract me." He winked and smiled, proud of himself to have, for perhaps the first time, attempted a joke!

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:04 pm
by Simply
Alais clapped delightedly. Of course he would recognize it, but it made theie little trip instructive and enjoyable – double than what he thought he would achieve, surely. “Jasmine is one of the more prosperous in this section, but I can tour you through and show you what else might be useful for your endeavors. I am not endlessly familiar with the plant life but a slow stroll might permit your more seasoned eye to spy what I cannot.” Their walk commenced again and the princess nodded at the few they passed. The afternoon presented itself with a breeze, cutting through the space between them. 

“Mmm, yes. They are a pleasant respite from the dampness of the castle walls.” She turned her head to the left and her eyes appeared thoughtful, “if more time could be spent out of doors, I believe I would find myself much happier.” The bushes grew tall on either side of them, escalating exponentially until a shadow crossed her face, the sun hiding behind roses of coral and ivory. She brushed her fingers along the petals around the thorns, careful to avoid the sting of a prick. Her hand hovered over her heart momentarily before lowering as he thanked her for the excursion.

And a joke! How delightful! Alais laughed heartily, feeling the joy radiate out from her chest and down to tingle her fingertips. “Yes, you have to be careful or you’ll end up lingering here far longer than you should.” She continued to walk along, swishing her skirts with her hands, much like a young child might when wearing a fancy new gown. “Then who would teach me the alchemical arts, Isidor? I’d be reduced to attempting to teach myself and likely burn the castle to the ground.” They strolled until the light peaked over the edge of the castle walls and scattered across in beautiful beams. “We should be returning. It will be the dinner hour shortly and I am afraid I have to dine with my sister.” The movement back to the castle was purposeful- purposefully long. They arrived back at his workroom with time for her to change and make it to dinner with her father and sister. 

“This was a rare delight in my week, and I thank you for taking the detour from your labors in the King’s name.” She leaned lightly against the wall beside the entrance. “Do you think you might trouble yourself for another break in a few days? Perhaps some proper instruction on my readings followed by an evening amongst the fountains. They have brought in this plant from the coast and it illuminates the waters. Quite fascinating.”

As Alais awaited his reply, the King rested in his outer chamber with a slender woman by his side, stroking his hair. 

“What trials, are you thinking of, my darling? The date grows nearer with each day. The announcement will bring in merchants and gifts from the nobles. The festivities alone will be enough to cheer the people.”

“Hmmm,” the king’s hum made his chest rumble. His great dark eyes remained closed as he spoke with his mistress – the Royal Slut, as Alais affectionately called her. “Music, poetry, history, language…”
“Archery.” The whore suggested.
“Yes, the men would pay to see it.”
“And dancing. Perhaps…” she stroked his hair and her lips trailed down his ear, caressing the wizened skin. She was barely a year older than his children but learned in the ways of the flesh. “Perhaps, both current steps and those of the ancients.”
A chuckle and one big eye opened, studying her face as she rounded around to slip her body onto his lap. “Merla, you cannot be serious. They learn about them only for their wedding rites and even then it is a formality for their future husbands. Alais has not put much effort into hers as…well…” A shrug lifted his shoulders.
“Yes, her sister will win the trials, without question. Yet, think of what the treasury could accrue if they watched them dance the ancient rites. 
“Possible…I will consider it and discuss with the small council. “ She stroked at his beard with her fingertips.
“And perhaps some flair from your alchemist. Your court would find it…magical,” she readily added, “with the substance of science behind it.”
The long silence stretched between them as she rose and slowly removed every article of clothing she wore. Another rumble reverberated through the king’s chest.
“Yes, yes, I will speak with him.”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:51 pm
by Requiem
The young alchemist snorted and shook his head, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose as his lips tugged into a smile. "Ah... highly unlikely that you would find yourself burning anything down through bad alchemy, Miss Alais." He could not help but chuckle at her misunderstanding of the subject matter. Not that it was her fault, of course; she was still very new to the art, and did not yet know quite what to expect. "Were you to teach yourself and have it go wrong, I would predict that you simply would not get the results that you seek--in that nothing would happen at all. Alchemy is, after all, not chemistry. It might share in some of the same principles, but unlike the latter, you actually need to have quite a firm grasp of it for anything to go horribly wrong. All disaster only occurs in the last stages. But... really, that in and of itself is another lesson for another day. I would be happy to discuss the safety of this art with you, should you allow it."

Following Alais back into the palace, Isidor ould not help but feel refreshed and renewed from their brief venture. He had not realized just how much he was missing, being the willing shut-in that he was, nor had he ever really considered the potency of nature's ability to heal... 
Hopefully, this would not be the last time that he found the opportunity to step outside. Moreover, he hoped not to have to do it alone. Alais... being in her presence, somehow it reduced his anxiety surrounding the outside world. Made it easier to walk and to speak without overthinking either feat. Of course, he attributed this to her genuinely curious and non-judgemental nature. The young woman was a rare gem among people, with a heart of gold that not even alchemy could replicate. Of course, he knew better than to speak any of this aloud, lest his intentions be construed as anything other than friendly.

"Of course, Miss Alais; I would be more than happy to lead you in your readings. I find these excursions from the work that the King has me contracted to do rather... rejuvinating. Honestly, I had never fancied myself a mentor, before." And yet, was that not just what he was doing? Had Alais not become his student with her endless questions, and he her instructor with no shortage of answers? The very notion of it gave Isidor Kristeva a surge of confidence that he never thought he would experience. For not only was he creating, mastering the art of alchemy, but he was passing on this sacred knowledge to another--one who he felt he could trust, who would not misuse what she has learned for devious intent. "Please, consider me ever available at your disposal; I know enough of what I am doing that I can put down and pick up my work at will." He offered a shallow, polite bow. "And I look forward to seeing these fountains and the plants that you speak of... it sounds like a delight."

With a strange beat of reluctance, Isidor bade the princess good evening, and quietly closed the door to his study. It was only then, alone with this own thoughts and body, that he realized just how quickly his heart was racing, along with the heat that collected beneath the collar of his tunic. Furrowing his brows, he wiped his clammy plalms across his trousers and took a seat at his desk, resting his head in his hands. He wasn't growing ill, was he? That walk had been perfectly relaxing, and Alais's company had been a pleasure... yet his stomach was in knots and his heartbeat had picked up, around the same time that she requested to see him once again. "This will not do... perhaps a visit to the healer is in order," he murmured. Favouring the indoors as he had for so long, the young man was admittedly a bit of a hypochondriac when it came to feeling even slightly less than normal... And what would become of him if he grew too ill to finish what he had started for the king? The man would surely have me killed... he does not seem the sort to take kindly to tardiness.

Making up his mind, Isidor stood and left his study to blindly make his way down the dimly lit corridor, only to run into a familiar face. "Miss Alais? I thought you were wearing..." That was when it dawned on him. No, this woman is not Alais. I will not be fooled again. "...I beg your pardon, Miss." Isidor bowed his head in polite greeting. "I thought you were someone else. Still, might you be able to tell me where I'd find the physician on staff? I fear I might be falling ill... and a professional opinion would at least put my mind at ease."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:28 am
by Simply
“It would please me a great deal, Master Kristeva.” She offered a bow at that point, eager to be a studious and well-disciplined pupil, but also teasing at the same time. “Perhaps in three days time, I will return with a gift and an outing on the outer rings of the gardens. Prepare yourself, Master Kristeva, I know I shall.” Alais slipped out before he could dare bid her not to call him by the new title she would not use affectionately. As she hurried towards her chambers, her heart felt lighter than it had in years. She was eager for the days to pass so that they could discuss her work in alchemy with him but mostly…to be around someone that didn’t treat her the way everyone else did. There was a small faction of courtiers that pitied her. Alais could read it in their faces, in the soft lines of their mouth. They knew that she would be put to death at the expense of magical superstition. On the other side of the coin resided the contemptuous few. They hated her for the mere fact that she was a twin – a demon, a scourge whose existence they could blame anything ill that happened. A poor harvest – it is the black magic emanating from Princess Alais.A bad bet at the gambling tables – she brushed past me right as I was about to draw a card. 

The way Isidor spoke with her, appreciate her, was something unique and cherished. She wanted to spend every moment with him, even if it was just to watch him practice his craft. There was something comforting about knowing that she had someone...someone she could call a friend. She changed for dinner with her father and sister, knowing that this was going to be a discussion regarding their exhibition. Despite the resignation that pressed itself to her heart, she had a little glimmer of hope now.

And a small piece of her couldn't decide if that made it better or that much worse.

“Master Alchemist.” Luci breathed, clasping her hands in front of her. The way she addressed him held none of the affection that Alaiscina’s voice did but the parallels were lurking in the tones. She had been on her way to dine with her sister and father when she deigned a detour. It seemed it would be well worth the trouble after all. “The chambers of the royal physician happen to be on my route. Please, join me.”
She passed by him and lingering as she waited for him to follow her. They began to progress forward down the hallway. “And I see you have figured out the differences between my sister and I.” A smile broke Luciane’s face as she took in the dark haired man beside her. He looked pale-er then usual, that is, paler than the first time she met him. “It does take many a long time to discern the disparities, but I suppose you are swifter than most due to your intellectual abilities.” A smirk played her lips, as she cast a side-glance at him. “Or perhaps due to prolonged periods with my sister has made the differences easier to spot.” 

Lucaine pressed on as though she had not made an insinuation about his relationship with her sister. “Ah, we have arrived.” She pressed her hand to a door with a small wooden sign next to it. It held an emblem of a physician with the royal seal of the Carenza dynasty etched beneath it. “He should be within. Though…you don’t appear sickly. She moved a few steps away, preparing to head towards a meal with her family. “Shouldn’t you be able to determine the source of your ill spirits?” A slight pause, leaving it up to him to determine whether she intended insult or not. “Well, no matter. I should also warn you that the royal physician, Master Sheif, is rather fond of the use of leeches.”

“Is there anything else I could assist you with, alchemist?”

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:09 pm
by Requiem
"Three days it is, then, Lady Alais. I am looking forward it it." It surprised Isidor just how easily the words slipped past his lips. About as easy as it was to spend time with the young woman, as it easy as it was to almost completely let his guard down--almost. But he was not one to lie, and already, in her absence, he was helpless but to admit to himself that he was eager to see her again in roughly half a week's time.

Yet just as easily as Alais made him feel comfortable enough to put down his walls, her sister--this doppelganger with such a sinister aura--managed just the opposite, with no more than a glance. It was instinct that urged the young alchemist to turn and hurry away before finding himself obligated to speak with her, but the moment he erred in speaking up, he knew well enough that that opportunity no longer existed. Unable but to watch and listen as she turned towards him with nonchalant indifference, Isidor felt his spine straighten to the point where it grew stiff and painful as his numb mind struggled to devise an exit strategy. Again, an impossible feat. "If... perhaps you could merely point me in the right direction, or..."
Too late. Lucaine's decision to guide him personally was established in stone the moment she turned her back and expected him to follow. And like a moth to flame, despite knowing all too well that every moment spent around the lookalike of a women for whom he felt such regard was filled with poison, he was helpless but to follow.

"Figured out?" As she spoke to him, his dumbfounded mind had wandered, delaying his response. Shaking his head, he dug at the back of his neck with his fingernails, aware of the nervous habit but no less desperate for the stinging pain to ground him. "You know, completely identical twins--it is rather a myth. A fable. There are always differences, physical and otherwise, even if similarities seem to trump them at a glance. Your faces are not exact mirror images of one another... Even your blood is not identical in the properties it possesses. You present very differently from your sister, in many ways; at least, insomuch as now I can tell. All it takes is basic observation, no real intellect involved." The words had taken on a life of their own, it seemed, but as soon as they came to fruition, Isidor winced as the sudden worry pangs that rolled in his gut. Would she take it as an affront that he opposed her assumptions? Had she hoped she was so like her sister that she could fool him for longer? She is not a thing like Alais, though, he had very quickly come to realize. In the way that she spoke, that she acted, even in the way that she moved and the tension in her steps... For lack of a better word, she was, to him, a disappointment. Like the sort that a child might feel when they bit into a pastry, expecting sweet jam, and instead find strong, salted meat. 
And in Lucaine's case, the meat was not just salty to a cringe, but tasted slightly off.

He knew well enough to hold his tongue for the remainder of the time that he found himself in the regal woman's presence, walking in tight strides until they reached the physician's chambers. "I am an alchemist, good Lady; not a physician, myself," he countered gently, at her less than flattering jibe towards his inability to determine the source of his aliment. "Thank you for your help." If 'help' was at all the right word. At her mention of Master Sheif's liberal use of leeches, however, his face paled and awarded him that very sickly look that Lucaine had claimed he lacked. "There is no evidence that leeches serve as an effective method of healing," he muttered under his breath, quickly deciding that perhaps seeking medical advice in this very backwards empire was ill-advised. "You needn't be a physician to know that. I think, instead, I will merely opt for a good night's rest." Nodding in respect towards the less than respectful woman, he left the very obvious 'goodbye' hanging in the air, before turning back towards seeking his own quarters. In that handful of moments, Isidor had come to realize a few things: for one, there was a difference between being ill and elated by someone's presence, and for another, certain people's company could, in fact, be very toxic, to the point of impairing health.

I suppose I don't need to so much as look anymore to tell you apart, he thought of the twin women, both so different, as he wiped the nervous sweat from his brow and climbed the stairs towards his bedchamber for an early night.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:57 pm
by Simply
“It was my pleasure, alchemist.” Lucaine smirked as she turned her back on the alchemist. His infatuation with her twin was evident to a blind man and the fact that he did not realize the source of his heartache was amusing. Poor gentleman had never developed feelings for a woman before. Her father had said that they found him residing alone in a tower, surrounded only by his potions and beakers and other alchemical glassware. Licking her lips, she entered the dining hall to see her sister already occupying the chair beside where Lucaine usually sat.

Alais turned to see her sister smiling more than normal, which resulted in the narrowing of Alais’ eyes. “You seem enthused, sister, what boosts your mood?”

“I just have the loveliest of conversations with the alchemist, though it was on the way to Master Sheif’s. He seems to think he is unwell.” Lucaine said as she lowered herself into her seat, grinning all the while. Alais could not prevent the alarm flickering, albeit briefly, in her gaze. 

“That is a pity that he is unwell. I do hope he recovers swiftly.” As she said the words, she turned back as the servants began to plate the tablet with pheasants and roasted potatoes. The scent of rosemary filled her nostrils but did nothing to stimulate the appetite she lost when her father’s words met her ears.

“I hope that it does not delay his progress. He is costing me quite a hefty sum every day.” The king spoke matter-of-factly, sighing as he hoisted his goblet to his lips. Isidor was nothing more than a tool to her father, as most men and women were. Even his daughters were instruments that he would utilize to the most lucrative end. Unfortunately for him, he would be unable to use them both for the duration of his life. Alais often wondered that if twins were no so stigmatized, would her father have married Alais off to the highest bidder?

The rest of the dinner fell on deaf ears, as the alchemist’s friend pushed her food about her gilded plate. She did not even recall her movements until she ended up outside of the alchemist’s door. The princess’ hand hovered above the wood, ready to wake him before she withdrew, stepping back. No, she’d visit him in a day or two. Yes, it was best not to bothering him. Nodding her head to convince herself, Alais moved back to her chambers and curled up with the latest volume he had bestowed upon her.

Three days later, she moved to the alchemist’s door with a basket rested on the crook of her arm. It was laden with biscuits, fruits and freshly roasted meats. A bottle of the king’s wine (one he would not readily miss) was cradled in the bottom as well. Licking her lips, she knocked and opened the door, peeking her head in. “Might I steal you away for lunch? I brought you the gift I mentioned last.” She had bound her dark curls on the top of her head, to allow the fresh breeze outside to cool her in her dress. She would very much enjoy a picnic with her friend in the gardens. “I heard you were feeling unwell, so I hope you have sufficiently recovered.”


Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:04 pm
by Requiem
Unsure of his health, Isidor did take it easy for the next handful of days, seeing to it that he ate enough to stay strong, and slept enough to remain alert. Sure enough, with just a bit of refocusing and delving back into his work, those troublesome sweats and heart palpitations did subside. The King had recently demanded that he make more progress on the weaponry that he was crafting, claiming that the young alchemist was taking far too long, and remained deaf to all explanations as to why the entire process required time and patience. Afraid to rush--yet even more afraid not to come through for the powerful ruler--he was at a loss but to comply.

With a resurgence of diligent focus, most thought of Alais (and her rather distasteful sister) drifted gently to the back of his mind. It was not difficult to slip back into old habits, such as reluctance to leave his study and avoid daylight overall. Not difficult to remember precisely why he was there to begin with: he had a purpose. A task. And he would not see his home again until the king was satisfied with the results. Fortunately, good results in this context happened to be the alchemist's greatest strength; some might even argue, his only strength.

For when it came to the world outside of his solitary safe haven--his work--it did not seem to matter that he forgot the difficulties of interacting socially. They were still there, and always would be; and there would be no avoiding it for as long as he remained an a reluctant guest at this palace.

Consequently, it took Alais mere seconds to completely undo all of the self-composure that Isidor had regained over three days. And all she had to do was open the door, with a smile on her face and a basket on her arm.

"Oh...! Miss Alais." Startled, he stood so abruptly from his desk that the book on his lap tumbled to the floor, along with a pen and some instruments of measurement that has been sitting precariously upon his desk. Murmuring an unintelligible apology, he quickly bent to pick up the fallen items. "Rest assured, I am quite alright. I was merely feeling under the weather, but..." Well, the symptoms had subsided--up until just now. At least he could attribute the sudden acceleration of his heart rate to being startled. "But look what you have prepared, and who am I to deny you lunch after such thought and effort? Just a moment."

Grabbing his waist coat, the young alchemist did not allow himself a moment to think before leaving with the friendly young woman, to another jaunt in the garden. Dwelling too much on being in her company made him feel odd; not so much in a way that made him uncomfortable, but in that it was wholly unfamiliar. Unfamiliar things led to thinking and overthinking, and... frankly, he preferred to enjoy the garden and sunlight and Alais' company. There was time for thought later. "I... unintentionally encountered your sister, the other day. She informed me that your resident physician prefers the use of leeches in his practice." He shuddered at the thought, and offered an apologetic smile before continuing. "Forgive me for saying--I do not claim to be a medical physician by any means... but even well outside of civilization, such tactics never yield positive results. For your own well-being, and that of everyone else, I do hope he seeks further--better--schooling in his practice."

Squinting against the onslaught of sunlight as they stepped outside, he added, as if to soften what could be interpreted as a haughty and dangerous accusation, "I daresay I'd sooner trust your knowledge in herbs and their healing properties, Miss Alais. Perhaps when your physician retires, you would be prime to take his place."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:25 pm
by Simply
Alais could not keep the amused light from her eyes when he dropped everything onto the ground. “I’m glad I won’t have to use all the feminine wiles at my disposal to coax you into joining me.” She swayed lightly in her shirt, waiting for him as he grabbed his coast. They strolled from the room together, her arms cradling the basket with all of its gifts inside. They exited the castle and were met with the bright, warm light of the sun beaming down on them. It was a surprisingly beautiful day, which made it the ideal choice for the picnic she had been planning for him. 

At the mention of her sister, the sky appeared to grow a little darker. Alais licked her lips, shifting the basket as she came to a clear patch of grass by the smaller pond in the garden. It overlooked the garden gates that kept the hill to the city separated from the castle that entombed her. Busying herself, she spread the blanket from the basket down, straightening the edges. “My sister enjoys prodding at other people, making them uncomfortable.” She did not look at him while she talked about her twin. Sighing softly beneath her breath, the princess began to set out their dining options. “While the court physician is of the elderly variety, he is no a barbarian, though he does enjoy the sue of leeches on occasion, he doesn’t use them only. Lucy likes to make people uncomfortable. You just happened to be her target.”

She smiled, pulling the cork out of the wine, settling herself down on the blanket and motioning for him to join her. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” She drew the small glasses from the basket, noting the one was chipped. She kept that one to herself as she held out the glass she had filled to him. “Take today off. Enjoy today with me without worrying about the tasks the king has set before you, as impossible as they may seem.” Alais set the food out before them. She drew a piece of bread, placing a slice of cheese and cold meat on top of it. Taking a bite, she finished it off quickly enough. 

“Tell me something, exciting.” She murmured, taking a long sip of wine, staring at the blades of grass on the hill beyond as the moved, dancing back and forth in the faint breeze of the afternoon. “What, do you think, made our ancestors believe in magic? Some still do, out in the hills.” She motioned with her half-filled glass to the area beyond that they could not see. “They keep charms and trinkets in their clothing to ward off spirits and sprites. They think that some people can even bring back the dead. Something has to spark these tales, don’t you think?”

She removed her sandals then, with her glass to the side. Alais spread her toes in the grass just beyond the reach of the blanket. “It can’t have just come from someone’s mind, right, their imagination?” Magic had always excited Alais and something she feared. She would end up dying because of the belief that twins were one soul in two bodies, destined to bring destruction down upon all those they touched, unless one was eliminated. The soul would reunite and prevent the darkness from spreading. It seemed like nonsense…and yet, something must have brought about the belief.

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:23 pm
by Requiem
Alaiscina's question intrigued Isidor. It had always occurred to him as odd that the idea of magic was something of a mythical concept among some kingdoms and people having grown up among people and thing that could simply not be explained, it had always been a strange given, in his world. Of course, his own work bordered on magic married to certain scientific principles, and yet, he had never considered himself as anything more than someone with a unique practice... Trying the wine on his lips, the young alchemist wrinkled his nose at the taste. So bitter and overbearing, and yet, there was something strangely pleasant about the way it warmed his throat, all the way down to his chest. He might even have gone as far as to call it relaxing.

But he was not yet relaxed enough to be stupid. He knew the limit of what he could say--even to someone he considered a friend. "Isn't it just human nature to want everything to have an explanation, Miss Alais?" He replied in the form of a question, picking up a piece of bread and cheese. Somehow, it was as though the wine actually made it taste better... Was this the reason so many people were enamored of drinking? "Something surely cannot happen from nothing. And where there is not proof of function, and seemingly no reason for happenstance, that is when people assign a word to what they do not understand. Not so long ago, basic science and medicine was considered something of a magic, was it not? Before scholars studied the effects of herbs and elements on the body, and how it affects our health? Everything has a cause and an effect. It is merely a matter of wrapping our minds around how the world and its energies work. Then, suddenly... magic is no more. Not when it has become knowledge."

Somehow, during their conversation, the young alchemist had managed to finish his glass of wine without realizing it. The more he sipped, the more smoothly it seemed to slide down his throat, not to mention it made it easier for him to speak without stumbling over his words. Perhaps too easy-- for when she mentioned the phenomenon of the possibility that certain individuals could resurrect people from the dead, something inhinged inside of him, and it was entirely personal. "And what of death? Isn't that just another phenmomenon that we do not fully understand, and so we pay it little to no heed?" The corners of his mouth turned downward in a frown, and he felt the muscles of his jaw tighten. "There are those who understand it, who are more attuned to its energies than the average person. And I assure you, these people... they can alter and tamper with it at their leisure. Whether or not they should be doing it at all, however, is another matter entirely. But morality--or lack thereof--has little to nothing to do with what can be done, with the right understanding and by the right means."

He made the futile effort to push all thoughts of his brother, the nefarious necromancer Vitali Kristeva, from his head. It was never of any use; should his younger brother so desire, he would show up in his life at any time, in any place. He had done so before and often it felt that there really was no escaping him. But, Vitali was not here right now, and he was in no mood to tempt fate by delving into the means of necromancy, or by admitting to Alaiscina that he was not only affiliated with such a dark art, but bloody well related to a necromancer. "Forgive me... I am getting far too ahead of myself." He shook his head and put down the empty wine glass, feeling particularly light-headed. "You must also understand that many use the idea of magic as a means of control and manipulation, no so unlike certain religions... Superstition can be made up on the spot, with the purpose of scaring people into cooperating. It has happened before, and it continues to happen in many places. Before you know it, it is impossible to know what is true, and what is false pretense. Often, there is no good way to tell one from the other than to experience it for yourself..." Sighing, he leaned his weight back on his arms and turned his face to the sky, eyes closed beneath his spectacles. "I'm sorry. It was not my intention to steer this conversation down such a dark path. Please forgive me my folly, idle chat is most definitely not my forte."

When he opened his eyes, he turned to Alais again, and the look of uncertainty mixed into her expression gave him pause for concern. "But, why the interest in magic, if you do not mind me asking? Do you have reason to believe it touches your life in some way that you cannot explain? Or, that, perhaps... you can explain?"

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:37 pm
by Simply
To keep herself from chuckling at his apparent distaste for the wine, the princess pressed her lips together but the corners turned upward. And then he digressed down a path that she had not anticipated for him to go. Yet, it was not an unpleasant turn in the course of the conversation. Oftentimes, and especially because she was the lesser sister, conversations remained superficial in her presence. They thought it would make her feel better, the pleasantries and pity veiled by kindness. In reality, it had left her feeling more alone and isolated in the company of people than it did when she was in an empty room. With Isidor, it was a stark contrast. The conversation could even be beyond her intellect and yet he would continue on as though she was on the same academic level he was. Alais found that it helped her grow more quickly and his confidence in her, whether verbal or unspoken, was thrilling. Even now, when he began to divulge about things that they should not discuss, she felt more a part of something than she ever had.

“I think that,” she paused to look away from him, to cast her gaze forward, “ that it is human nature to try and force our will upon things,” the princess murmured, “whether by giving them explanations or in an attempt to change them to suit our needs, and our desires. “ Death was so finite and so near. The mention of it gave her a shiver at first before Alais ate a few crumbles of cheese to give herself something to focus on. “Those that have such abilities, this advances understandings of phenomena,” she motioned away, “tampering with death, for example. Can they teach it?” Alaiscina attempted to keep her voice steady, to keep it from shaking when she asked. If she could learn it…perhaps, perhaps she could figure out a way to avoid her fate. After a moment of heart fluttering, she forced it away from herself. Those fantasies were better left in the past. The young princess had not considering avoiding what awaited her for many years. Now it was just what would come next. She motioned with her hand to brush her words away and move on. “Please, do not apologize. Idle chat is not why I brought you out here. I’ve had enough idle chat during my lifetime to…well, last the remainder of it.”

Inquiring about her interest in magic, she finished a few crackers and took a large sip of wine to quench her thirst. Now he had provided the perfect opportunity for her to divulge her secret, to tell him that she would be dead in a few months because twins were a mistake of magic, forbidden. Licking her lips, she turned from his inquisitive gaze as if it would help her to better conceal the truth. “Is it not also human nature to be curious?” She placed a smile on her lips and turned back to him, pouring more of the wine from the bottle into their chalices. 

“I’ve read one or two books that briefly allude to magic and since it is…” outlawed, she thought, but chose a different path “not permitted in the Hilofen Empire,” she shrugged. “I’ve always been curious about it and why it is such a…stigma. There are not even written accounts of how or why the laws were passed and where the superstitions came from.” She took another two small sips of wine before propping herself back up and finishing off their white cheese. “Curiosity for the sake of curiosity I suppose, and I’ve never left the city, so there is that.” Alais smiled.

“But you seem to know quite a lot about magic for someone who touts that all things have an explanation, all things are based on science.” She mimicked his cadence and tone that he usually had during alchemy instructions. “And particularly death, “ She looked around, making sure that none were close enough to hear their conversation, “though I suppose that comes from your brother being a necromancer.” As he had begged her initially when he had confessed it through a slip when discussing his mother, the princess had kept her the secret just that. “Did he ever attempt to teach you any magic?” she waved another hand, warding off his refusal to answer. “It is just us, you know. I’m not going to turn you into the guard for discussing magic. In fact, the court ladies discuss love potions all the time, over and over again.” Blue eyes rolled about and she smiled at him, looking at him.

The wine began to seep further in her veins and she leaned back again, looking up at the sky. A sigh, “Because wouldn’t it be nice to be able to control things and alter them to your liking and stand up for what is right and true and to figure out who you are and see the world without being confined to one place,” another wistful sigh left her lips. A gleeful giggle as she pressed her hand against her ribs. “If magic was real, then so much more would be possible in my life, “ she closed her eyes against he sun, “in life, in general, I mean.”


Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 838
Topic starter  
by Requiem
"To my limited knowledge on the subject... Those who have ties with death insist that it cannot be taught. At least, not safely. Bear in mind that this is all according to the only source I have, which happens to be my untrustworthy blood relation." Brother somehow felt too intimate. It connoted relations and association, a kindred sense of friendship which he and Vitali had never shared, and likely never would. Besides; the necromancer was only his half brother, by virtue of sharing a mother, whose offspring hadn't a father in common with any of them. The notion of 'family', he had learned growing up, was very loose. In fact, the only 'family' he had ever vaguely considered was his former mentor who led his through the meticulous art of alchemy, and a dear, younger sister, whom he had not seen since she was very young. Sometimes, he wondered if life had managed to eat away at her innocence. 

He almost laughed when she asked if Vitali had ever taught him 'magic'. The idea of learning anything from such a slimy rat as Vitali Kristeva was beyond abhorrent. "I can assure you, my 'brother'did not teach me anything of the sort. Nor would I ever have accepted tutoring from him, were I even curious on the matter. His help--if you can even call it that... it always comes with a price. Often ones that you do not realize you are not truly willing to pay, until it is too late." For all he knew, his younger brother might have demanded claims to his immortal soul. And that was of the minor 'debts' that the necromancer tended to collect.

"Even for someone well versed in navigating the threads of death, and everything surrounding it, is not entirely safe in meddling in something that was never intended for humans to deal in. You can learn any number of rituals and rites, but the best that you can hope for is no result whatsoever. The alternative... well, succumbing to death itself wouldn't be as frightening as what might occur. Vitali was born, versed in the language of death. He can detect danger before it happens, or so he says. But, Miss Alais, if this is something that for whatever reason, you have been pondering... my suggestion is that you follow through instead with something far safer. And something less related to innate abilities dictated by blood." He offered a small smile, and added, "I will be happy to assist you in your study of alchemy for as long as I am here. And when it is time for me to leave... or, rather, when His Majesty sees fit to release me, I will leave you with the materials that you will need to further your education on your own. It might not restore life to the dead, but you would be surprised at how limitless alchemy in and of itself can be."

Something wasn't right. Isidor could not put his finger on it, but curiosity aside, Alaiscina seemed... desperate for answers. For a way out of something that he did not understand, because she had not seen fit to divulge. "There are boons as well as consequences for exerting control over things that we should not control, in life," he mentioned gently, not intending to shatter whatever hope for change she might be harboring, but he was nothing if not a realist. "And more often than not, the price really isn't worth it. Things are meant to unfold as they do for a reason... even if we do not like the outcome. But... it seems to me that you aren't yearning for magic, Miss Alais. Correct me if I am wrong--and I very well could be, for I fear the wine is all but causing me to see double--but I am inclined to think that the change you seek is the notion of freedom." Of course, why wouldn't she seek freedom from a place that was so unabashedly restricted? She was a wild soul confined to a cage, someone who sought more than her home had to offer. In more ways than one, he could empathize.

"I understand the feeling. Such was the reason I found a remote place, and worked hard to erect a solitary tower where I could conduct my studies. I found my freedom in solitude." A touch of a smile tugged at his lips. "Believe me when I say you do not need magic to acquire freedom, however difficult it might seem. What you need is a plan. I did not grow up to the same sort of life as you, and I will not pretend that my exit from the family and surroundings I was born into wasn't as easy as turning my back... but if what you seek in life is beyond the confines of this kingdom, then you will find it. Be clever, be careful, and do not lose hope. At least, those are the means by which I have managed to get by all alone, for as long as I have."

Re: [r. Kelly] I move the stars for no one [18+]

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:17 pm
by Simply
The way he spat the word brother nearly made her laugh, but her interest in listening to him further kept the amusement in her chest. He clearly maintained a similar disposition towards his sibling as she did with hers. “A price even for family.” She murmured the words after him, as though pondering them out loud. “Well, it seems as though our situations are not that different when it comes to our blood relatives.” Her father, her sister. They made her skin crawl with their wickedness, their air of superiority that they wielded like a knife against her. She could feel the noose swinging above her head whenever they were around. The cool, gentle pressure of an executioner’s blade against the back of her white neck lingered every time their gaze did on her face.

Isidor delved into more specifics about his brother’s abilities and it slightly disheartened her to know the necromancer was born with his gifts and had not learned them through practice. Alais had half hoped she might learn something through practice, from perhaps meeting this terrible brother of his, but now that prospect vanished as his words filled her ears. In fact, she feared Vitali more now than she desired to meet him. Probably for the best. “If only my life could be as limitless, as free as the study of alchemy.” As a smile played her lips, the tone of her voice was laced with regret. She rolled herself over on their blanket after a moment, propping herself up on her elbows as he spoke. Slender fingers found long strands of grass, beginning to plait them together. She completed three individual braids and then began to twist those together. 

“So you are truly as clever as the King believes you to be,” Alaiscina began by way of defense, to buy herself a bit of time as he went on with his assumptions. It was surprising that he so quickly surmised the reasons for her pursuit of magic, of alchemy, especially since in other aspects of emotional and social cues he was nearly inept. He claimed to know he feeling, but how could he? He had no idea of her true situation – the imminent death that awaited her in only a few months time now. He sister would best her in every test, in ever task and she would be left to die. Perhaps they would give her poison to calm her beforehand, because despite the length of time that she had to come to terms with her fate…it still pressed itself to her chest at times. It still frightened her on moments when she gave it too much thought, but now she would not permit one of those times of panic to befall her. Blue eyes fell on his smile, but this time she did not seek to bring it to his attention and result in its removal. Tossing aside her braided grass, she retrieved a grape and her glass, finishing both once more. The fuzz of the wine tickled at the edges of her mind despite the somber topic of their conversation. It had quite diverted from the light-hearted discourse that she had planned out from them in advance. “But I am afraid that for all your cleverness and the entirety of my desire, there is no hope of a plan that will divert the set course of my future.”

She further rolled onto her side, one hand propping up her head as she examined him further. Only momentarily did she rest like this, forcing herself upward with all the grace a princess learns from birth. “Yet I am not half so clever or careful as you, I am afraid, so what hope can I really have.” She smiled at this, though. “I do not seek to put my bits of melancholia on you, Alchemist. But it is nice to imagine that one might have the ability to manipulate the elements around them. They say, in hushed whispers of course to avoid it reaching the King’s ear,” she clarified before going on, “that our ancestors used to help the wind blow and the rain fall predictably. Perhaps I could make myself fly and sail away on the wind,” She smiled broadly, laughing as the wine settled itself. “Enough of this talk of freedom. Castles are cages but there are far more miserable ways to live, are there not? I count myself lucky in that regard. And such drab discussions will hardly serve for your first picnic in the garden.” Alais placed on her princess mask, the one of bright smiles and sparkling eyes – as much for her own benefit as for his.

“Tell me of your mentor.” She steered the subject away, lest his capable (although currently inebriated) mind began to put more pieces together than she desired. “You speak so fondly of him, yet only in passing. Perhaps when I am old and withered,” the utilization of this phrase was frequent, even though it was hollow, “I will tell a student of my own about my first mentor.” Alais smiled, holding her wine cup in careful hands.


Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 838
Topic starter  

Melancholy was certainly not the adjective that Isidor would have used to describe their discussion. Perhaps it was the effects of the wine, which forced a new perspective on his otherwise limited tunnel vision, but he was quite enjoying this conversation with Alais. She was easy to talk to, and it wasn't difficult to become engaged in a conversation that he found truly engrossing. Contrary to what he had assumed, similar to the other high-class women of his empire, Alaiscina did not busy herself with small talk or idle chatter. Her mind was active, and thirsty to learn, always problem-solving and considering "what ifs" and "maybes". It was refreshing... and, simultaneously, sad. Because there was something--he did not know what, but he was determined he read it, in-between her words--that she was holding close to her a chest. A problem that she sought to solve through the illuminations provided in their conversation, without addressing the issue head-on. And it was not a matter of knowing human behavior (for the young alchemist, of all people, did not know people); rather, it was a matter of observation. Paired with the fact that, well... the kind royal woman was maybe not so difficult to read.


Her demons were her own, of course, and it was well beyond him to pry. Though his curious nature did make him wonder... what part of this life did she seek to leave? And what did she want to find? "Family is a relative term, really," Isidor mentioned, having had enough chat of his vile brother. "Blood relation only holds as much significance as you allow it. And... thank you, my lady, but I rather fancy myself as observant. Not exactly 'clever'. I will not press you with hope for a future divergent from what is planned for you, but I hope you yourself do not give up on whatever it is you dream. And do not think that I am merely trying to ingratiate myself to you, but you have a sharp mind. One from which this world could perhaps benefit. Believe me, I of all people haven't the patience to tutor slow minds."


No, he was going too far; digging too deep, like the scholar that he was, in search of answers. While she would likely never admit it aloud, restrained by the politeness likely bred into her vein being, Alais was uncomfortable with the topic of her future. And so, she once again turned the conversation toward him. "My mentor?" Isidor wasn't sure why the question took him aback, and yet the alchemist found himself caught off guard. It was something in the tone of her voice; an endearing expectation, that she would hear a story of bonding and discipleship, the careful tutelage of a master to his apprentice. Unfortunately, it was only about half of that... and not the half that she likely wanted to hear. "My mentor was a master alchemist. His knowledge knew no bounds, and I recognized it early on when I left my family to pursue my passion. It took me two solid years, working as his lackey, to convince him to take me on as his apprentice... and even then, he never ceased to doubt my aptitude, to be honest with you."


It had been a handful of years since the old man had passed away, but what Isidor recalled of him was not entirely fond. A bitter, stubborn man who hated the world and felt it owed him everything, while he owed it nothing. But he was a master; a grand master, and even as a youth, Isidor would have done anything to work under him. When, after two long years of meaningless, menial tasks that included upkeeping his home and running his errands, the old man had finally acknowledged the young man's dedication. But it was not as if life had become easier, at that point. On the contrary, it had merely become more interesting. "I am afraid I have neither a touching nor a fascinating story to relay to you about my mentor. He was good at what he did; he had memorized almost every book in his library, and if anyone could make something out of nothing, that it would have been him. I studied tirelessly under him for many years; until he died, in fact. It was strange... he never showed me an inkling of kindness, up until he was on his deathbed. He asked me to stay with him. And he told me... to continue. To keep up my studies, and to improve until I surpassed him. Because my dedication was 'too rare and unique to waste', according to him." He furrowed his brows and scratched the back of his neck. "I suppose death does force an entirely different perspective of the world on those it claims... still, it felt so odd. That he only paid me a compliment when he had nothing left."


The remainder of the story was even duller, and so he did not address how he had worked hard to have his tower in the privacy of the countryside. He had done what his mentor asked; continued his studies, continued to improve. It would still be eons before he would so much as amount to everything his mentor had been, let alone surpass the man. But he had left him with a challenge, and what fun was life without its challenges?


"Will you show me the woodland?" The question surprised even Isidor. Wine had emboldened him in his requests, but reminiscing about his home... it made him long for the privacy and calm of the woodland. "I'm sorry; that must seem like such an odd request. I just feel I've been exposed in the open for too long. If it is not too much trouble, I would very much love to see the shelter of trees."

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“Not precisely the resounding endorsement I was anticipating,” Alais responded, mouth twitching into a half smile, “but you alchemists are particular individuals.” A pause, as if for effect before she smiled widely. “I am fortunate, it seems, that I found an alchemist eager to divulge his alchemical secrets, as well as indulge a poor girl on her picnic outtings.” At the mention of his mentor’s passing, the princess stiffened. It was nearly imperceptible but the length of her back grew rigid. “Yes, I suppose one’s imminent foray into the unknown can cause deviations from set patterns of behavior.” Alaiscina, for example, sought to push people away. Already, as the day loomed closer – the birthday celebrations mere months away – she had withdrawn from certain individuals that had always shown her kindness. While those people may be few are far between, she had cherished their compassion. Now, however, Isidor appeared to be the only exception to her rule. Somehow, she could not bring herself to skip his lessons. Even when she had told herself to stay away, Alais would find herself at his door.

His request tore her from her foreboding thoughts. She brightened, eyes gleaming with enthusiasm. “Yes! It is not silly at all.” Before he could change his mind, she was up off their blanket and dusting off the stray petals from her skirts. She leaned forward and grasped his hand, hoisting him upwards. They both tumbled at bit as she exerted more force than she had intended. She could herself and him after a few back steps. Giggling, Alais kept a firm but gentle grip on his hand. With a dismissive motion at their picnic items, she wound them through the maze of flowers and planted bushes towards the far more densely wooded area at the edge. “What a marvelous idea,” she added, smiling all the while. They passed through a gate, leaving it ajar behind them.

The difference was immediate. They had passed through a portal from the cultivated splendor of the palace gardens to the wild beauty of the palace forests. Her father, in his youth, had often come here to hunt with visiting monarchs and diplomats. His Royal Majesty King Ferant had been a different man in those days. It was still stocked with game, large a small for oligarchs to enjoy, but now it was far more peaceful. The Queen had loved the woodlands, having grown up in a different part of the dynasty. The nobility had whispered about her fondness for wildlife and forestry. Some even say that the princesses were conceived out beyond the proper confines of the palace walls and that this is why their souls were split. After all, it was not appropriate and what isn’t appropriate is inherently evil.

Birds flitted and chirped within the shelter of the upper branches, their wings often sending needles of pine and leaves of brown falling to the ground below. Once beneath the comforting shade of the trees, a few paces from the gate, she released his hand and looked upwards. “My m-” The wine also caused her to slip, but she stopped herself, clearing her throat to cover. “My Queen, before she passed, supposedly loved these woods. She would spend hours snaking through them with a small retinue behind her for her safety of course.” Alaiscina’s eyes gleamed at the thought of it, imagining her mother’s graceful gait and vivid eyes. “I haven’t frequented this particular area, though.” Blue eyes caught site of a few squirrels jumping from branch to branch. She wandered a ways ahead of him, hands occasionally swishing her skirts absentmindedly.

She whirled to see him, sunlight passing through a few branches to brush against her cheek like a lover’s caress. “Some even say sections of the woods are haunted, especially at night.” A devilish grin tugged at her lips. “But I am sure that you have a perfectly scientific explanation of why such rumors abound.” Alais teased.

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Topic starter  

The young alchemist offered a sheepish smile and ran a hand through his hair. "Well, now, I would hope you wouldn't assume that all of us alchemists are alike, for the mere fact that I learned my craft from a misanthropist," he chuckled. "We are as versatile as anyone else. The only thing I have in common with the old man is my interest and aptitude. And, don't get me wrong, my reasons for being here today are not entirely altruistic. It is a nice diversion from my study..." Words that Isidor had never thought would spill from his lips, but... he was surprised to find that they were true. There was little that the young alchemist would have rather done aside from testing and experimenting with the limits of his craft, before he'd met Alaiscina. But this woman's company did not require heavy thinking on his part--not now that he had gotten to know her better. She had such an active mind, and was so tolerant and forgiving of his lack of social know-how, that it almost made him wonder what he'd been missing, sealing himself off from he world for so long.

Almost... but not quite.

A shadow seemed to pass over her eyes at his casual mention of death. It made he want to inquire all the more; the pry into her mind and discover the crux of what was looming on it, out of sight and out of his reach. Of course, he had the grace not to do so, and before he could think much of it, Alaiscina accepted his request with gusto and stood, tugging his hand to get him on his feet. It took him by surprise, and had he not been a touch inebriated, he might have been taken aback by her eagerness. "Ah... you're sure we will not be found at fault for this?" He had the sense to ask, after he managed to recover from stumbling as Alaiscina tugged him along by the hand. "For leaving the palace grounds? If it is not a sound idea, then by all means..."

Whether or not it was a 'sound idea' did not appear to matter to Alaiscina, and before he knew it, the gates of the court garden disappeared and they were surrounded by the lush greenery of the forest. Isidor would be lying to claim that he did not instantly feel more at ease. Perhaps it was because he was habituated to the forest, given his own living situation, but there was something unarguably reassuring about the cover of trees. Just enough room to spread your wings, without the necessity of worrying if anyone happened to see. "Why was it that your Queen required safety in this forest?" He inquired. "Is the game particularly dangerous?"

It was hard to believe that the solitude of the trees ever experienced the activity of large game. Not a sound in the area, save for their footsteps, birdsong, and the chattering of squirrels. But every woodland was different. And there was, in fact, something about this one in particular... Something he could not quite put his finger on, that threatened to disrupt the quietude and peace of an otherwise innocent gathering of trees. "Haunted, you say? By what, exactly?" Now that piqued his interested. Isidor had no interest in ghosts or the dead, unlike his necromancer brother, but hauntings in and of themselves were not inherently the work of the dead... 

And that was when he noted something. To unfamiliar eyes, it might have appeared as a simple cluster of mushrooms that formed a perfect circle, but Isidor had encounter one too many of these in his time spent in forests not to pick up on its true intent. Now he understood the feeling at the base of this spine, and it made sense that the Queen would have been accompanied for her safety. "Have people reported anything strange in these woods?" He inquired, furrowing his brows as he stopped and crouched to look more closely at the crop of mushrooms. While awaiting a response, he reached into his pocket. Sure enough, he came into contact with a pouch that he had learned never to leave without. Reaching in, his withdrew a handful of its contents: iron filings, shaved so fine that they were a powder, and tossed them onto one of the mushrooms. The fungi instantly blackened and shriveled, like salt on a leech, and Isidor took a step back.

"I think I might understand why people have reported these woods as 'haunted'," he said at last, his mouth drawing into a thin line. "Alaiscina, how is it that your kingdom can be in such dire denial of magic, which it borders land that the Fey appear to have claimed?"

((O.o.C: @simply Do you still use Google Hangouts? If so we should definitely do some plotting to refresh on the direction we were taking this in lol)) 

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occ: @requiem yes I do - kinda? I have a Mac so I used iMessage linked up to my google in the past. I just downloaded hangouts though. Do you have the same email as before? Yayyy plotting. 

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Alais laughed when he asked about the trouble they might encounter. There were only three people in the entire castle that actually possessed the authority to do so and not a one of them cared a whit about what she did the majority of the time. As they entered, she let it be the only response she gave him. Taking a long, deep breath, the princess felt her tension drip off of her. A lightness filled her and she wanted to twirl about, as she might have when she was but eight years old. As she felt the weight lift, bright eyes took in her companion’s face. Isidor’s face held a curiosity at her mention of the haunting but quickly, his astute gaze searched the ground around them. He found the solution before she had even had a chance to voice the reasons behind the rumors. “All nature of strange occurrences, reported mostly by the servants but occasionally by nobles.” She thought for a long moment for a more specific description of what people had said about the woods. “Sudden warm spots. Missing items at picnics. Laughter.” A shrug of her shoulders as she watched him withdraw a little pouch from his pocket. Dark brows furrowed, but she didn’t interrupt him as he withdrew a shimmering black substance from it.

The contents were tossed directly on nearby mushrooms and if plants could have screamed, these would have. Previously furrowed brows parted and rose in surprised. Confusion flickered in her eyes as she turned her attention back to his face. A delicate smile danced on her lips before parting in a soft ‘o’ at the subject of the fay. Alaiscina had heard about them and even read some in texts she had managed to find buried beneath other ones, having somehow missed the purge of magical items. But even though she knew that magic existed beyond the borders of her kingdom, the idea of faeries being real…well, that was a bit of a stretch even for her.

“Fay? Isidor, you must be teasing me now, after my talk of magic earlier.” A giggle hid behind her words and she revealed her white teeth as she smiled broadly. “Denial is a strong word for it.” She tossed her head back and forth as though considering. “It is more that the Hilofen Empire has a strict ban on magic and seeks enlightment through the forms of industrial and scientific advancement for the good of all citizens.” Alais recited the line her father and his father and so forth had used to explain the outlawing of magic and its practitioners (but not without a good roll of her eyes). “Also strongly due, I believe, to fear and superstition.” She added.

“But Fay, truly?” She inquired again, narrowing her eyes at him and then at the shriveled fungi that resided on the forest floor. Alais bent down beside the dead plant and picked up a dried, fallen branch. She nudged the mushrooms with the other end and it seemed to hiss in protest. “So what did you throw on them?” She racked her brain, quickly, trying to discern an answer. “Shavings of some kind, a metal.” She continued to think and then turned her face back up to him, remaining in her squatting position by the Fay touched object. “Iron?” She asked, rising back to her full height, which wasn’t that tall to begin with. “What reaction would actually cause this?” She inquired. Perhaps with the addition on the wine, Isidor had found the humor that Alais always suspected was present. Fay…she laughed in her mind, there was no way it was possible.

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Topic starter  

The young alchemist shook his head at Alaiscina’s stubborn disbelief for something that he knew well to be real. From what little time he had spent with his mother, a woman of mysterious ways and divergent values, he had seen and learned enough to be able to discern fact from fiction. Fiction was the notion that alchemy, at its core, could turn lead into gold. Fiction was the assumption that he could create something from nothing, or fundamentally alter the state of an object or a person without repercussions.

The Fey were not fiction. And they were far from a joke.

“Haven’t we already established that I fundamentally lack a sense of humor, Miss Alais?” Isidor sighed, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, as he was wont to do when he was nervous. “To be honest, I would be less inclined to believe in the presence of ghosts than of Fey--and that is even taking into consideration that my brother is a necromancer. I am not entirely convinced that these woods are safe…”

Dusting the remainder of the finely-milled iron-filings from his hands, he took his pouch from his pocket to show his skeptic friend its contents. “Simple, iron shaving. The Fey and everything about them sickens, withers, or dies when coming into contact with impure metals, such as iron, steel, and even pewter. Had those been ordinary fungi growing in an astonishingly perfect circle, do you truly believe they’d have withered at the presence of iron? For a kingdom that prides itself on industrialism and science, even you cannot deny that that should technically deny the accepted laws of chemistry and biology.”

Tucking the pouch of iron filings back into his pocket, he ventured to explain, “My mother was… an interesting woman. Superstitious, perhaps, but not without good reason. I grew up heeding warnings about Them, as she preferred to refer to Feykind. It wouldn’t surprise me if she herself had dealings with them. I’ve carried powdered iron for as long as I can remember; first, just to appease her, as a charm to ward off bad luck. But, as I grew, and I learned more… I came to see it as a necessary precaution. Especially when you never know exactly when and where you will encounter them.”

It wasn’t his intention to spook her, or to come across as though he was talking down to her… But he had lived deep in the woodlands for long enough to know what was safe to dismiss as folly. And this--the remnants of the faerie circle, all blackened, shriveled mushrooms… claim had been made on this land. It wasn’t safe to be traipsing around.

“Will you let me escort you back to the castle?” It was only after the words passed his lips that he realized how ridiculous he sounded. Who else was to escort her back, when they, together, had ventured out beyond the castle grounds? Color stained his cheeks, and he cleared his throat. “What I mean is… we shouldn’t linger, here. Call me a superstitious fool if you’d like; in many ways, perhaps I am. But I’d like to see you to safety, considering we just disrupted something that was not ours to touch.” He indicated the dead circle of mushrooms with the toe of his boot. “Just in case. You never really know who is watching.”

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That comment in and of itself made her laugh, though he had intended it - as he did with all things - to be quite serious. Sapphire eyes sparkled as she watched the habitual movement of pushing his glasses further up towards his eyes. It was something he did frequently during their alchemical discussions and she found the motion endearing. “No, I suppose not. I fear my disbelief in the possibility, the sheer absurdity of a Fey wood so close to the palace...It overcame the common sense of the matter.” She waved her hand in a princessly version of an apology, before clasping it with her other in front of her. Isidor was intelligent, observant and talented...except in noticing things about human beings, that is. Still, she tried to be wary of such things about him. After all, even he might pick up that she was beyond even a ordinary noble. 

“Do you think it is a habit I should take up then, when roaming beyond the borders of my delicate garden?” She smiled, neither jesting nor serious. Her words hovered somewhere between the two. His request was eagerly met, though her smile grew more genuine as he sought to explain away his question, almost as though he felt a bit foolish. The twin brushed back a fallen strand of hair and moved out of the wood, knowing that he would follow her. “If we had not been together, with you to protect me, I might have been whisked away by a handsome Fey prince to give him halfbreed children. A human consort, perhaps.” She laughed at the idea, clearly amused by the notion, but also, perhaps a bit hopeful. If such a possibility existed, she would never submit to the Tests and she would never again have to see her sister or her father ever again.

They returned back to their picnic spot and she gathered up their items. A servant materialized as if out of nowhere, but she suspected that they had been following here despite her express orders to leave her be for the afternoon. She handed her items off to him and continued towards the castle with her alchemist. “Well I hope that this proved an enjoyable diversion for the afternoon, though as I have come to know you, I know you get all your joy from your laboratory.” They walked to halls, making their way back towards the alchemy lab that he trained her in. She teased him in this and that as they walked, taking pleasure in the way her fingers tingled from the wine still. 

Arriving at the door, she curtsied to him with a grin upon her face. “This is where I leave you. Thank you for indulging me with a picnic.” She leaned forward on the balls of her feet and planted a gentle, lingering kiss to his cheek. Her laughter was soft when she pulled away. “Until next time, Master Alchemist.” And she sauntered off, her hips swaying more than normal and her arms swinging with a bit flair in her slightly inebriated state.

She arrived back at her rooms to find one of her handmaid’s waiting on her. She informed the princess that her presence was required at dinner the following evening for a formal affair. Poor Alais had no idea that Lucy had been whispering in their father’s ear. She had no idea that at the same time she was unfolding her own invitation, so too would Isidor be. Tomorrow evening with some major dukes. It seemed abnormal. Alaiscina had only been requested at major affairs of state, perhaps, once a year. Yet, she shrugged it off, her mind clouded by the events of the day. Even such a gathering could not place a damper on her wonderful afternoon.

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Topic starter  

It wasn’t a laughing matter; far from it, in fact, to the extent that Isidor suddenly felt a good deal less safe in the confines of the king’s palace, so close to these clearly compromised grounds. He did not want to frighten her beyond reason--no, that wasn’t his intent. But, it sickened him to think that these warnings might go unheeded. To think that something, someday, might happen in these very woods. That long after he was gone--whenever it was that her father would see fit to let him leave--that something might happen to Alais…

“Have you ever heard accounts of children, newborn babies, being spirited away from their cradles in the middle of the night?” He asked, too timid to challenge her lackadaisical approach to a very real danger. “Only to be replaced with a Changeling--some twisted and sinister mirror-image of themselves. Mothers will notice the difference in their children’s behaviour, but everyone else will call the mother crazy… I’ve lived a long time in the woods, by myself, and even I am aware of these accounts. I know it may be hard to believe, but They are not merely an old wives’ tale… though I wish they were.”

Feeling insulted by her light-heartedness was foolish; but a dedicated scholar like Isidor Kristeva couldn’t help but feel as though he wasn’t being taken seriously. And this, he thought bitterly to himself, is precisely why I am not equipped to interact with people…

The sudden arrival of a servant startled the young alchemist, enough that he almost jumped. But Alais was nowhere near as alarmed; nevermind that they were supposed to have been alone… And here’s hoping none of my magic talk reaches the king’s ears. Something sinister stirring in his gut told him that he’d be lucky to ever see the comforting confines of his tower, again, were word to get out that he was speaking to royals about something so strictly forbidden.

Awkwardly allowing the servant to clean up the remains of their picnic, all the while wondering if he should offer to help, he watched the young woman out of the corner of his eye as she took lazy strides on the path leading from the forest. No, she was not so pitifully kind as to simply humour him with her complacent words and radiant smile… More than likely, she was still feeling the tingle of alcohol in her blood--just as he had been, up until finding the faerie circle. That had sobered him up relatively quickly. Nonetheless, the words eluded him for a handful of minutes, on their venture back toward the castle.

Isidor nervously tucked his jet-dark hair behind his ears, and straightened his spectacles on the bridge of his nose before venturing, “I… could fashion something out of iron for you. If you would like.” While he did not want to come across as overbearing and insistent, knowing what he now did about the forests that surrounded the Hilofen empire. What they harboured… what was waiting. “Of course, I’m not suggesting you carry around a sack full of iron filings like I do… that might turn a few heads. But, what about a piece of jewelry--a necklace, or a bracelet? I could even have it tinted silver or gold, to mask the fact it is made of iron. Now, I’m not jeweler, but I think I could create something to your tastes, if you’d allow it.”

He stopped as they approached the tall, admittedly intimidating doors of the palace; away from one danger, and into another, he couldn’t help but think. “At least… think on it. It would give me peace of mind, especially if you insist on ever returning to the forest.”

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All the evening, she thought of his offer to make her iron jewelry - to keep the Fey away. Biting her lower lip, she even laid in bed that night replaying their day over and over again in her mind. She stared at her ceiling, imagine the bracelet or necklace her might make her. Yes, she would indulge him by taking such a gift. It would be the first gift she received from someone since she turned eight years of age. Now, she knew it was because he did not wish her to be whisked off by some Fey prince. He enjoyed her company and wanted to keep her around. Rapidly, her heart fluttered in her chest at the thought of someone not counting down to her death. Alais rolled onto her side and fell asleep dreaming of jewelry and picnics. The dread of the official function the next evening did not even cross her mind. 

The next morning, however, when he maid bit her dress and eat breakfast and choose her gown, Alaiscina was more sour than the night before. Spending the late afternoon and well into the night with her family was more than she could bear. It was going to be utterly miserable. She would have to entertain herself by imagining her alchemical lectures that Isidor would give her the following day. She did so as she read in her sitting chair by the window of her chambers, flipping through the pages but not truly reading.  Blue eyes found themselves staring out after a few moments and she shook herself from her reverie. 

Her maid came to her in the early afternoon and pulled her into her gown. She plaited her hair and then twisted it up. Alaiscina liked her hair two ways - down and flowing around her shoulders or completely off her neck. There was rarely an in between that she found comfortable. They pinched her cheeks and lined her eyes. Looking at herself in the rough beaten mirror, she admired the soft fabric of the gown. It fit snugly until her waist, where it fanned out thickly. She had worn them all her life but the skirts got bigger and bigger with each passing year. She thought that Lucy did it on purpose, setting the trends to be more cumbersome because she knew that Alais hated them. Sighing, she brushed a shedded hair that hand fallen to her arm and exited her chambers with a small retinue of handmaids behind her.

They arrived at the proper hour, and she waited in a small line behind her sister. Her father had already been announced and led in with his mistress. Lucy turned her head from over her shoulder and smiled at her sister. Alais immediately tensed. She knew that look. She knew that a twinkle in her twin’s eyes only meant heartache for herself. Perhaps she would force the Count of Albion upon Alais for a dance. She braced herself for all the possibilities as they called her name and she swept into the chamber, headed to take a position at her sister’s side - the furthest one from the throne. 

“Her Royal Highness, the Princess Alaiscina of the Jendryng Dynasty.” She gave the polite smile, in stark contrast to the one she frequently showed to Isidor. As she stood at her family’s side, she continued to consider all of the possible methods her sister would utilize to torture her tonight. Yet, in all of her wandering thoughts, she had never imagined what her sister had done - the invitation that she had sent to the palace’s resident alchemist. Blue eyes flickered along the crowd, but grew wide when they passed and then returned to a raven-haired man who looked particularly uncomfortable and alarmed. 


Her heard plummeted and her eyes darted to Lucy. That callous bitch had known that she had kept who she was from him. She knew and she used it against her. She did this. There was no going back from that. She stared at him, met his gaze and did not break it. She tried to convey her feelings through her eyes, through the snow slight downturn of her mouth but she feared (nay, she knew) that he could not decipher those minute social cues.

The introductions lasted what felt like an age before she was released from her position on the dais. She make polite nods to those that reached out to her but her mind was of one track. She sough Isidor amongst the crowd. Finally, she caught the back of his head, seeing him standing alone, and hastily made her way towards him. “Isidor...Isidor, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know how to tell you.” Her words sounded stupid even to her own ears.

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Topic starter  

He was not a jeweler; hells, he wasn’t even particularly creative, but that did not stop Isidor in his endeavour to create for Alaiscina what would be, for all intents and purposes, a charm for protection. One that would reassure him when he was not around, and even if she chose not to heed his warnings, that she had at least a single layer of protection against sinister entities--namely, those that dwelt deep in the woods surrounding the Hilofen empire.

No sooner did he return to his study, after a particularly enjoyable picnic and stroll with the noblewoman, that Isidor set out to do what he did best: research. And not solely in the realm of alchemy. While he never thought he would see the day when he found himself reaching for books that highlighted current fashion trends, he had no other way of knowing what sort of jewelry ladies of the court wore. From what little he had observed in terms of Alaiscina’s tastes, she did not appear to have an eye for the more elaborate and, dare he say, gaudy accessories. So after hours of consideration, this led him to decide on the simple and (mercifully) least-painstaking project: a bracelet.

He first sketched it out on a piece of parchment: simple, rounded, and smooth, but with intricate designs, swirls and tiny flowers carved into the metal, which he planned to fashion to the likeness of gold. With her sunlit blonde hair and blue eyes, his amateur taste in fashion thought it would suit her best by bringing out the natural tones and hues of her radiant face.

Going well into the night with his design, alone, along with plans for a formula to craft iron that resembled gold (none too difficult, consider alchemists of the past had long since mastered crafting led to the appearance of precious metals), he resolved to get some sleep and finish his project on the morrow. After all, he was ahead in his work for the king, and it gave him something to do, something to focus on, so that he wasn’t driven restless with wondering when he might see his noble friend, again.

The young alchemist set to work early the next morning, to obtain the ingredients he needed, and to bother the blacksmith that he might share his space for a handful of hours. It was more difficult than he’d anticipated, crafting something so delicate. Weapons were a walk in the park compared to a simple bangle, which he struggled to keep just hot enough to embellish with his designs, without warping or losing its shape. Admittedly, he’d asked after the advice of the smith’s son, who had more experience in crafting delicate objects than his father. And when at last it was finished, the young man stood in awe if a fine piece of jewelry, crafted entirely of iron, yet which shone like gold. Isidor couldn’t help but smile with pride at his accomplishment. “Perhaps I’m in the wrong business,” he ventured to joke with the smith’s son, who had already diverted his attention from the alchemist. And this, Isidor thought with a sigh, is why it is easier not to talk to people.

He was practically walking on air, all the way back to his study that afternoon, when he noticed a note had been slipped beneath his door. On closer inspection, the golden embossed letters betrayed it not as a note, but… an invitation. To a royal event--tonight.

Isidor swallowed. This could only mean one of two things: either the king was satisfied with his work, thus far, or quite the opposite… and potentially sought to make an example of him. Unfortunately, there did not appear to be a way to decline… One way or another, he would find out the reason for this odd summons.

Having no ‘suitable’ clothes of his own, the serving staff provided Isidor with attire that was suitable enough for a formal event: nicely hemmed trousers, a silken tunic, and an overcoat that he bitterly thought reminded him of something his wretched brother would wear, in all his unapologetic flamboyance. But, if this was what they’d provided, then he had no choice but to make it work.

The event itself, when it came around, was just as awful as he’d anticipated. He did not belong among the crowd of noblemen and women, and yet there was no way to escape their presence. Everything felt too luxurious, too open, and there wasn’t an escape route in sight. When the time came that they presented the king, Isidor held his breath, fearing he might be called upon for one reason or another… but it never came to pass. The king did not so much as look in his direction. Yet, when his daughters took their places beside him…

It can’t be. Isidor froze, eyes wide and mouth agape. He wasn’t seeing things; his spectacles were not cloudy. Upon the dais, stood none other than Alascina, and her twin sister… princesses. And heirs to the crown. She never told me… why didn’t she tell me? For a moment--just a handful of seconds, really, the alchemist dared to look across the wide expanse if the room and meet her eyes. But no sooner did she return his gaze that he looked away.

And turned away.

Voices rose as the presentation of the royal family came to an end. Without much luck, Isidor struggled to make his way to the back of the room. As far from anyone--particularly the royals--as he could possibly get. Perhaps he’d find a way to blend in, turn invisible, become one with the wall. Anything to spare him from what happened next.

She found him in the crowd--of course she did, for even dressed as he was, Isidor stood out like a sore thumb among the purebred nobles. There was no pretending he couldn’t hear her say his name. “...have I been set up for something?” He asked, slowly turning to face her. “Was this the king’s idea of some joke? To test my loyalties by seeing how I fare with his daughter? You could have told me, Alascina--with words. Any words, any explanation. I… am not cut out for surprises. Not like this.”

Looking away, he shoved a hand into the pocket of his trousers, and presented her with the gleaming, gold-colored bangle. The only thing that betrayed it was its weight; heavy as the iron from which it was crafted. “Here.” He presented her with the delicate bangle, his hand trembling. “I put too much work into this for you not to take it. Wear it, or don’t; at least I’ll have it on my conscience that I tried to help.”

He had never been hurt before. Had never been in a situation to warrant feeling so hurt and betrayed. It constricted his throat and stung his eyes, turned his stomach, pounded in his temples… “I need to go.” Whether or not he was even permitted to leave did not occur to him. Without a second thought, Isidor made for the doors, with the intent to spend the rest of the night--and maybe the next solid week--in the comfort and solace of his study.

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The pain in his eyes was evident and it wrecked havoc on her. The invisible hand around her heart clenched it’s gnarled fist, taking her breath with it. Then his accusation that she had done this all on purpose, as some plot arranged by her maniac of a father - that nearly broken her heart in half. How could he ever think that she would be that kind of person? But then logic crept in and she knew he was right to make such an assumption. With family like Lucille and the King, how could he expect her to be anything but a manipulative wretch like them. Still, the accusation only added insult to injury. If only she could show him how much her caption had pained her but that it had been necessary. Would he had taught her if he knew who she was? Would he have been so candid about magic and his family and the Fey? No, of course not. She had not wanted to deceive him, but it had been necessary. 

Hadn’t it?

The gleam of something metallic drew her gaze down to his hands. She noticed it shake, only adding to the shimmer of the metal in his grasp. If Alais thought her heart couldn’t break any further then she was mistaken. Her delicate finger took the bracelet and cradled it as though it was the most precious thing she had ever received. For in fact, it was. Tears rose, unbidden, to her eyes and she had to swallow hard at the lump in her throat to keep from letting out a strangled noise of pain. She was unable to blink back the tears in her left they’re and it rolled down down her cheek. Alaiscina knew better than to wipe at it. Lucille would have someone watching her and ever though it hardly mattered anymore, the princess still had a bit of pride remaining inside of her.

Isidor’s back was to her as he retreated and she almost let him go. But if that betrayal was allowed to fester, to grow like the weed it was, there would be no way to burn it away with her truth. Blue eyes, slightly blurred with hurt, inspected the present. There were beautiful flowers, even some of her favorite’s from the garden where she had taken him for their picnic outing. Loops and swirls abounded, the gold almost lifelike in the way it twined about the bangle.  It was delicate but she could feel the substantial weight of the iron beneath, meant to ward him from any Fey that would seek to bewitch her. Any doubts that she have that he might care for her rapidly evaporated. No one devoted the time to making such a breathtaking piece of jewelry for someone merely as a means of protection. He had spent hours designing and fabricating such a piece, that was evident. Alais made her decision and looked up. He was hidden behind a few chatting courtiers as he exited the main hall but she could still catch him.

Lucy be damned.

Alaiscina took off after him, nearly pushing one or two lesser nobles out of her way., Her father may have her twin take her life in the end, but now Alais would rot in hell if she let them destroy the one part of her life that brought her any joy whatsoever. One she was in the long hallway leading to one of the stairways that would guide him back to his study, she called out his name not once but twice. He didn’t stop but she liked to think that he slowed down enough to give her the ability to catch up to him. She lightly grasped his wrist and brought him to a stop.

“Please, please let me explain.” She finally wiped at the salt stain the tears had left on her cheek. It was evident that a small portion of the liner around her eyes had smudged but not so drastically as to render her likeness to that of a raccoon. “It’s not what you think. I’m not...I’m not like them.” She made a motion with the hand that held his gift, back towards the reception hall.  A sigh left her lips in an exasperated fashion but a sob hovered behind it, one she kept back. “Lucy...Lucille, my sister, she. I know she sent you that invitation. Conniving bitch.” She muttered the last with such venom. “Look, can I just...can we go somewhere so I can explain, please?” She peered down the hallway from the place they had come, to see a pair of Lucy’s handmaids flitting about as though they were intoxicated. Spying, more like.  Pride crept back into her and she realized that she was near begging. 

Alais licked her lips and stood fully upright, though she was still significantly shorter than he was. She searched his face, her eyes pleading when she wouldn’t allow her demeanor to anymore. “If you’re willing, I can...explain this better.” She began to walk away from him towards a secluded little parkour where ladies sometimes took their breakfast. At this hour, it would be deserted. She opened the door and stepped inside, leaving it open for him to follow her. She sat herself in a chair, knowing that her trembling hands would ceased if she placed them in her lap.

“I am a twin, as you know, but I do not think you understand the connotation. As treasonous as magic is, there are still occurrences that hold a magical weight and thusly, are also forbidden. Being born a twin is one such thing. A twin is one soul in two bodies. Susceptible to magic. Prone to fracture.” As she spoke, she cast her eyes towards the dark window. Alais had never had to explain this to anyone, to put it into words. Everyone just knew. Swallowing, she continued. “There has not been a pair of twins in the empire in....centuries. And then we were born. Lucille was first. She is the rightful heir to my father. She is his creature.” Alais paused, licking her lips. She was almost speaking in stream of consciousness, so far from herself she desired to be. “Though, they said he was different before....My mother made them promise not to kill me, for I was the logical one to be killed. If killed at the right times, then the split soul can be repaired. So they say.” She punctuated each sentence with a small pause, as if she had said this speech a thousand times in her mind but to actually put it into the world was...more difficult. “So my father did as she bid and he vowed that he and his men would never harm us.” A cruel twist of her lips, as though admiring the loophole and hating it all the same. “So he didn’t and so he won’t. One of us will kill the other after a series of trials. After all, you have to prove which part of the soul is stronger.” At this point, she turned to meet his eyes. “Lucy will win and I will die.” She shrugged. “I’ve known it since I was five years of age. At first, I wanted to win but...to win I’d have to be more like her, like him. I did not want that. So I’ve been relatively left to my own devices.” Alais turned her head away, the honey brown crown of hair on her head catching the pale light let in from the doorway. 

“I just...You didn’t.” She stopped, composing herself. “You had no idea who I was. You didn’t look at me with hatred or pity, like all the rest of them do. It was...nice,” she said the word as thought at a loss fo anything more descriptive. “I had never truly had a friend and someone that thought I was worth anything, at least worth more alive than dead.” Her laugher slipped between hr lips, but it was cold and empty. “I did not mean to deceive you but after the first few days, I just...I forgot who I was when I was with you. I didn’t have to be anyone but who I wanted to be and I wanted to learn from you, to talk with you...” Her head turned down as she looked at the bracelet in her hand. “I am so sorry. I did not think that you would find out like that. I was going to tell you. Eventually. You would have had to know, by the time the trials came, but until then...until truly necessary, I just wanted a little piece - a fragment- of my life to myself. To really live it before I can’t anymore.”

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Topic starter  

Despite the time that had passed since he’d found himself removed from the comfort and security of his tower, Isidor still had little sense of orientation and direction when it came to the palace. He wasn’t entirely sure where his legs were carrying him, when he managed to exit the suffocating room full of royals and nobles, but he knew that he was headed in the direction of his study--and that was all that mattered. Returning to what he knew, to what was normal for him. Solitude and studies: this was where he belonged. Not in the company of another living being…

It is your own fault. You’ve no one but yourself to blame, for being duped and manipulated. The words and guilt and anger at his own gullibility played over and over in his head, further fueling disappointment in himself. Why had he bothered to spare a hope someone might genuinely have taken interest in him? That he would not be the butt of some cruel joke? You’re an idiot. You deserve every ounce of this humiliation…

Each step he took was closer to quietude; where he could feel embarrassed and sorry for himself in peace, and wait until the nagging pain in his chest subsided. Another pair of footfalls in the corridor alerted him that he wasn’t alone, however, and the sound of someone calling his name confirmed it. No… don’t stop, don’t turn around. Just keep moving, he told himself, and he did, but not without faltering long enough for someone to catch up with him, and grab him by the wrist.

“Why are you here? Haven’t you… done enough?” He asked, staring stubbornly down at the floor, spectacles sliding down the bridge of his nose. It could all be further manipulation; maybe she was trying to see how long she could draw out her game, but something in the pitch of Alaiscina’s voice sounded… desperate. Not what he would expect from someone proud of their successful attempt to dupe him. He tried to hold firm, to push her away, but it was… difficult. “Does it matter who invited me? Your sister wasn’t the one keeping secrets,” he pointed out, but there was no fight, or even accusation in his voice. Only defeat.

Did it owe it to her, to allow her to explain? That bitten and hurt part of himself said no. And yet, despite it all, a more prominent part of him had wished the past fifteen minutes had never happened. Wished that they could go back to their picnic, and pretend that there were no secrets between them… just innocent, organic camaraderie. Whether or not that could ever be recovered, he did not know, but if there was anything she was about to say that could at the very least dampen the humiliation he felt… then he supposed it was worth hearing. “All right,” he agreed, after a long pause, and followed her into the parlour, where she shut the door to permit them privacy.

She certainly did have light to shed upon her situation--but it was not rapt with excuses, as he’d thought. In fact, never in a thousand years would he have guessed at what she was about to tell him. At first, it all sounded ludicrous; that a kingdom, so deeply in denial at the very existence of magic, could harbour such superstition about the phenomenon of twins. He was no biologist, no doctor, but even he understood the logistics of identical and fraternal twins--each one its own person, not some abomination split between two bodies. It was ludicrous. And what she had grown up, knowing she would face…

There were no words for it.

“I’ve suspected your kingdom of folly in many ways, since I arrived.” He began, when at last she concluded her tale. His face betrayed no emotion, on the skepticism of a scholar. “But not only is what your father believes ludicrous, it is… barbaric. There is no other word for it, no matter how you frame it. And you seem to just… have accepted it. All of it.”

It all made sense, now. Her faraway gazes and unfinished thoughts that she’d dismiss, whenever he thought something was amiss. Her reaction when he had told her to reach for greater things than confinement to this palace, to this empire… And all the while, her greatest fear was not her imminent death, but that he would discover her royal blood, and hate her for it.

And he had very nearly fulfilled that prophecy…

“Get out.” He said, after a moment of not saying anything at all. Her wide eyes searched his for meaning, so he clarified. “Leave--you need to leave, Alaiscina. To get out of here, before this horrendous act takes place. I wouldn’t have seen you any differently, you know, had you been honest with me. Frankly, I don’t know enough about people to harbour biases and prejudices. But I know this: you need to leave. And as long as I am housed, here, I cannot sit back and let you lay down to this ridiculous fate.”

The shimmer of her gold bracelet--which now adorned her wrist--caught flickers and glimmers of light as her hands shook in her lap. Isidor let out a sigh, so deep he could have deflated. “And here I thought I was protecting you, from an imminent danger,” he said, “when the real danger was under my nose, the entire time… for a scholar, I am a fool.”

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Of course, she had accepted it. Her father’s resources were incalculable and they would never let her just leave. Once, when she was 11, she had tried to run away. They found her swiftly and his punishment had been...excruciating. Not physically, for he would never permit her to be marred - just murdered in the future. Instead, he had the servant that had attended her since she was a child flogged publicly. An example to Alaiscina of what her folly caused and a reminder to the city that the king’s punishments were swift and painful. 

Startled by his declaration, she rose from her chair immediately. The princess was prepared to flee the parlor and never bother him again, but he continued to talk and her blue eyes searched his face quickly - barely willing to believe that he would side with her on this. But then, after all they had discussed, she should have known that she could trust him. He believed in magic, had seen it, but also believed in scientific facts. Fear had outweighed the logic and so she had kept her secret close to her heart.

Alais slipped the bracelet onto her wrist, feeling the cool weight of the metal against her skin, resting against the rapid thrum of her pulse. “You are no fool.” She chastised him, moving to take his hands in hers and look up into his face. Tears brimmed against her eyelids but she held them back now - for their reason was different than before. “How could you have possibly discerned my fate without any knowledge of our history?” She spoke in the royal plural before dropping it subsequently. “I just...” White teeth chewed on her bottom lip as she contemplated how to continue. “Now, I know that...and I had planned on telling you...” She released his hands after gently squeezing them once. “I had, but everything was just so...refreshing, to be with someone who didn’t hate me or pity me or...anything at all. No expectations.”

Taking a half-step back from him, the doomed heiress batted her eyelashes to bid the last of the tears from her eyes. Someone would see her and report to her father and Lucy. She couldn’t have that. “But I cannot leave, you must understand that. It has been attempted and it ended...” Alais’ gaze went past him for a moment, away to a public flogging that she had been forced to watch. The sound of the whip striking human flesh still startled her awake on bad nights. And the tangy smell of fresh blood would fill her nostrils. Swallowing, her returned to him. “It ended poorly. And if you sought to provide me aid in any way, he would kill you or worse.” The last two words added with an obvious tone of fear. The princess would not permit he only friend to end up anywhere other than his tower once his work for the king was completed.

“Perhaps,” she brightened, as she could do by pushing her other emotions to the small space inside her that she kept locked tightly. “Perhaps, instead, you could venture out for more picnics with me - now that I am properly protected.” Alais smiled, but the pain lingered in her gaze. She raised her wrist to indicated her bracelet and it slight up her arm slightly. Moments of silence passed between them and she imagined where his mind might be. He was a problem solver, sought to experiment in order to find solutions to the questions that he had. “Promise me that you will not attempt to circumvent my fate, Isidor. I could not bear to go to my death knowing that I had brought about your destruction, too. Please, do not add that to my burden. Promise me.” Her gaze was firm, queenly. “No one can save me from this.”

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Topic starter  

Isidor shook his head. It was about all that he felt he could do, processing all of this new information while simultaneously rejecting it. It all sounded like absolute madness, and, of course, it was; but not to this king. Not to this kingdom that was so rooted in superstition that it would sacrifice the life of an innocent to repel “bad magic”, or whatever the hell they believed. And it was not madness to Alaiscina, who was inevitably caught up in all of it, against her will. And who had given up seemingly before she had begun to fight.

“No.” The word felt heavy on his tongue. He was not one for talking back, particularly not to someone with a much higher social standing than his own. Of course… that consisted of practically anyone and everyone with a heartbeat. “No, I cannot make that promise, Alaiscina. There will be no more ‘picnics’, no more pretending that this is not happening. I think you have been deluding yourself--and me--for long enough.”

Moving toward the door of the parlor, he pressed an ear against the wood, listening carefully for sounds of breathing or any indication otherwise that someone might be listening in on their conversation. Only when he was convinced they were safe with their words did he step away. “You cannot, in good conscience, expect me to… to go about my business in this mad kingdom, knowing that your life is in jeopardy. That the life of my only damned friend is set to be extinguished; do you understand me?” Isidor’s dark eyes blared with intensity behind his eyes when he met Alaiscina’s. A curious mixture of anger, fear, and determination. “Everything changes, right now. What your father wants is of no consequence to me anymore. My work, now, shall solely be dedicated to the task of getting you out of this place. And you…” Heaving a heavy breath, he put a hand on her shoulder. “You are going to let me. And you are going to listen, and if it means we have to fight, then we are going to fight. Do you understand, Alaiscina?”

Perhaps the madness was contagious. He was no accomplished statisician; and like was he any kind of fighter. He did not know enough about this place, or the ins and out of this palace, to successfully help someone of her status escape. At least, not without being caught. His mouth was running faster than his mind and his good sense… and, all the same, he meant every word of it.

“I… I don’t know how. I don’t have a plan, yet.” Isidor’s intensity diminished with that confession, and his shoulders dropped in that all too familiar, sheepish disposition. “I don’t know the lay of this palace or this kingdom well enough. So… I am going to need you to show me. Tomorrow. The easiest and fastest ways out of here, the slyest ways. And I need you to take me through the city, beyond. Once we map out a route, we can go from there. I… I will figure something out. But I need your help, Alais. I need you to cooperate, and I need you to trust me. Can you do that, Alaiscina?”

Suddenly all too conscious of their proximity, alone in a small room, the alchemist took a step back and raked a hand through his hair, heart still racing. Because of what she had confided. Because of what he was planning to do. And because, at that moment, he really had no damned idea what he was doing.

“Tomorrow. Take me off the palace grounds, to the city. If you do not think that you can do it safely, then send someone who can, instead, and keep yourself safe. I will claim to be in need of supplies; contrary to popular belief and commonplace idiocy, alchemy is not the art of crafting something from nothing.” He tried to smile, but it just wouldn’t work. “We are going to figure this out. But… I need to know the lay of the land. And we’ll take it from there.”

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Isidor’s refusal hit her with all the force of a summer storm. The princess had not anticipated his refusal. Shocked eyes searched his face and her mouth parted slightly, resembling an ‘O.’ Immediately, she did not have a response for it and that in and of itself was a feat. The fight that brewed in him was astonishing, sparking in his dark eyes with an unmatched intensity. She could not utter a response to his first question, but it did not matter, he continued onward. His face tightened with his refusal to accept her face and is mouth moved quickly as he attempted to found the beginnings of a plan. And as quickly as it welled up in him, some of it began to fade. His confidence at the beginning was contagious. The idea that someone was willing to fight for her, to risk death for her was something that she had never encountered before. A feeling of warmth spread over her and for a moment she entertained the idea that she might have a life beyond the contest, beyond the birthday she always knew would be her last. His second question hung in the air between them. The alchemist needed her help to assist him in figuring out the situation that we were in. He stepped away from her and she turned her back to him for a moment. She did not answer immediately and he continued on, asking for her to show him the city. Even his attempt at a joke, could not bring a smile to her lips.

Her friend, the only person in the whole world that cared about whether she lived or died, was risking his life for hers.

The realization created an unwelcome tightness in the pit of her stomach. If anyone could figure a way out of the ceremony, it would be him. Alaiscina found hope worming its way into her and she tried to suppress it, but it kept growing with Isidor’s insistence. With her back to him, she chewed on her lip. That hope kept growing upward and inward, twisting itself around her heart like a weed. “I…” She licked her upper lip before pressing them together as her whole mouth, lips and all, had suddenly gone terribly dry. “I think I can do that, but if he finds out…” She trailed off and the slight slump that had found itself in her spine straightened. She turned back to him, looking in his eyes. “If he finds out, my father, you have to let me go then. You have to promise me that you will let me say that I…” She waved a hand in the air as if to catch some ridiculous idea rom the air. “That I seduced you with my feminine charms or some other such nonsense as that.”

Alais moved back over to him and then looked at the door behind them. “If we are going to do this, we have to make it believable. I have a feeling that my sister thinks I have some romantic designs on you, but even if she does not, it is best to have a reason to cover our tracks with a plausible explanation.” Swallowing, a lump having formed in her throat, the doomed heiress met his gaze. “Being an alchemical apprentice would be inappropriate on other levels, beyond it being viewed as an attempt to circumvent the pending ceremony. Perceived secret rendezvous in the city, late meetings…the only thing that would not draw her suspicion entirely, and subsequently my father’s, would be if we were…indecently involved.”

Before he could protest, she used her hands to ruffle his hair. Her hands jerked at his shirt, leaving it lopsided and unkempt. She pulled one side up out of the waistband of his trousers and let it hand there. When he made to step back or fix the mess she had made, she lightly swatted his hand. After completing her task with him, she took out some of the pins holding her hair and ruffled it up. She ran her hand across her mouth, smearing the color that had been placed there. It streaked across her cheek. She placed her finger on her hand in the residue and them ran it against his face. She worked on her dress next, making sure that it appeared thoroughly rumpled. “My sister’s lovely harpies will be lurking down the hall, hoping to make sure our relationship ended as she intended. It is best to give them something else to focus on, I think.” She smiled a bit and took a deep, steadying breath. “Tomorrow? After luncheon?”

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Topic starter  

“We won’t get caught; we will ensure he doesn't find out.” Isidor rested a band on her shoulder. Watching the emotions flicker across her face, he was shocked to find that before this current conversation, Alaiscina seemed to have long since given up on any thread of a hope of finding a way out of the gruesome fate her father had planned. But what was perhaps more appalling was that no one had ever deigned to help her. For all of the people within this elaborate palace that claimed to care for her, no one dared defy her father’s wishes and spare her from an untimely demise. She was not like him; not some nobody scholar from the middle of the deep woods, with no connection and no value to anyone. She was royalty--a symbol of a kingdom! Why, he wondered, was he the first to take even the vaguest interest in her life? “He won’t have to know. After all, he wouldn’t suspect this of me--a lowly alchemist with no knowledge of what he has planned for you.”


It might have been quite some time since Alaiscina had last plotted her escape, but that did not mean that her mind was out of shape from tactical planning; in fact, he would easily admit that she was far more clever when it came to deceit than he was. “Of course. Some forbidden romantic tryst is an ideal ruse.” Isidor readily agreed. “Perhaps it will cast me in a different light, a far less favourable one, but that could play well to our plan. Give a solid enough excuse for the time we’ve been spending in one another’s company, but not enough to lead to the suspicion that we might leave. Although,” the young alchemist paused, and colour crept into his otherwise pale face. “I must admit in advance that I… I am not entirely certain how I might convincingly lead anyone to believe I might be romantically involved with--”


Before he could finish, Alaiscina closed the distance between the two of them, and her hands were on him in seconds. In his hair, on his face, his clothes… “M-Miss Alais!” Isidor gasped. “W-what are you…” She slapped his hand away when he lifted it in a knee-jerk reaction, so he stood helplessly as she tugged his clothes into disarray and smeared colour from her lips onto his mouth. It wasn’t until she tousled her own hair and tugged at her own clothes that he realized what she was doing--and just how they would remedy the fact that Isidor had no two clues to the wind as to just how to execute this ruse. Evidently, it was all in appearances.


“Oh--o-of course. This makes perfect sense.” He said, feeling foolish for ever questioning her method. “Yes. Tomorrow, after lunch. Take me away from the palace, and we shall plot a route out of this place, for good.” Resting a hand upon the door knob, he opened the door into the hallway. Fortunately, it currently appeared to be vacant. “If anything should occur, Alascina… between now and then, come and find me. You know where I will be…”


Scuffing feet, footsteps trying not to be heard, reached his ears. Her sister’s spies, just as she had warned… They approached the corner, looking to peer at the two supposed ‘lover’s caught red-handed in the act.


There was nothing else to do to allay suspicion than to give them precisely what they expected to see.


“Forgive me,” Isidor murmured, thinking on his feet. Before the princess could ask what exactly he meant, the alchemist grabbed either side of her face and planted a kiss on her mouth. I could hang for this, he thought grimly, but barely audible gasps from the hidden onlookers indicated they’d taken the bait.


“Tomorrow,” he promised Alascina, then turned tail and hurried down the corridor before he could think too much on what he had just done.

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The pair of Lucille’s handmaidens were not as covert as they hoped to be. Isidor heard them an Alais’s attention to their presence was not lagging far behind his. Bright blue eyes flickered with confusion as he begged her forgiveness. What for? Had she not just been the one that manhandled him in an attempt to fabricate this ruse? Just as she raised her eyebrows in silent inquiry, she felt his hands on her face. They were rough, from years of working with metals and chemicals, yet smooth as a scholar’s. It was a surprising feeling but not so surprising as his mouth upon hers. Alais did not have time to respond before he hurried away, leaving behind only the warmth of his lips against hers. Her fingers raised up and she brushing the vermillion border of her mouth. 

Quickly, she regained herself and turned to head down the hall towards her chambers. She made a slight fuss of trying to fix her gown and her hair, but hear the snickers of the spies behind her. Alais kept her back straight, hurriedly making her way to her rooms. Once there, she dismissed her servants and flopped onto her bed. Her heart pounded at the memory of their meeting. It’s pumping was so forceful she feared it might just give out. A thousand horse hooves beat against her breast and not only because she was about to commit treason. 

The next morning she rose and bathed, having her servants brush her hair as it dried until it shimmered as though the brown was threaded with gold. Alaiscina plaited it herself, gently, into one large braid down her back. She wore a simple gown, one meant for riding or trips into the city - though she had rarely used them. She summoned a driver and two guards. One maid would attend with them, as was proper, but Alais was certain she could divert her lady’s attention by requesting a very specific guard to accompany them. About to depart, she caught her appearance in the tarnished mirror and frowned slightly. She pinched both cheeks and applied a moisturizing salve to her lips. Realizing what she had done, Alais rolled her eyes at herself and rubbed behind her ear. She exited with her servants in tow, sending one to fetch the Master Alchemist for a trip into town.

After she dispatched one of the guards to retrieve Isidor, miraculously her sister appeared in the hallway with one of the previous night’s girls behind her. “And where are you off to, darling sister?” She inquired in that singsong voice reserved just for tormenting her twin.

“Into the city. I want to fetch a few things.” She said, pausing and causing her entourage to do the same.



“The alchemist, since you’re so curious about my business today.”

“Ah, yes, he came last night, did he not?”

“Certainly, though I’m surprised you had to ask considering you are the one who invited him after all.” Alais snapped back, though keeping her voice even.

“Well,” Lucy smiled devilishly.

“Well, we must be off. I do not want to keep father waiting at dinner if I tarry too long now.” Alais stepped around her sister and was a few steps down the hall before Lucille’s perfectly timed response.

“I’m certain you’ll work up quite an appetite in the city. Don’t be late.”


The princess’ face blushed the deepest shade of red but she kept her shoulders back and her head up as they exited the castle. She made her way to the carriage that was waiting...and to Isidor. He was already standing there with her maid’s beau and they climbed inside, with the guard taking their places at the front and rear of the carriage. They exchanged pleasantries, but Alais was careful when she said. However, she made certain to brush her fingers across his hand a time or two when her maid was watching. They needed their cover to be solid, unshakeable. 

Arriving at one of the city’s many markets, she gave her maid a few coins to retrieve some items, promising to stay close. Quickly, however, she steered her conspiratorial  companion towards a small den of ill repute. It would spark rumors, but also give them enough space to adequately discuss their options. She took a seat in one of the corners and when Isidor moved to take the one across from her, she giggled. The sound of her laughter drew attention from a few patrons and she reached out her hand to grasp the alchemist sleeve. “Sit by me,” she said, softly, pulling him towards her.  The warmth of his was all too sudden when he slid in beside her and she swallowed forcefully for a moment. It is all part of a play, Alais, she reminded herself.

“Now...about an escape.” She looked at his expectantly. “There are many ways in and out of the city. Few are unguarded. And by few, I sadly mean only two and they are drainage tunnels.”

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