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winter, year 307
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 a good and loving invention, + delly montfaucon
naveed shmona
warden, currently at dorsey, twenty nine years old, played by lyss, shipper , dev
ELDUR

he had spent as much of his time in the volubisian capital being as far away from it as possible; near enough to not offend his hosts, to be sure, or as sure as a shmona was capable of being in matters of lordly diplomacy, but still as far away as could still meet those rather singular conditions. and as far as he could tell, he'd been successful in averting offense; though chances were great that the powers that be back in the capital of myrmias had simply forgotten him entirely. it wasn't an entirely impossible task, considering the siblings he had left there to curry their favor in his absence, and considering how so very much of a presence said siblings could each exude even without the might of the actual wardenship of the ivory coast behind them. in fact, it was entirely possible that even his siblings had forgotten about him, which wasn't an entirely dispiriting thought - again - considering his siblings. he loved them dearly, in that distant, rather conceptual way eldest sons had of looking at their younger and lessers, but he loved them infinitely the better when they were apart.

even being a city over would suffice - though it helped, of course, that the city in question was of a coastal region, and one fully devoted to coast-ly activities. even with the difficulties implicit in the language barrier, naveed had quickly found himself feeling more at home than doubtless most of his peers who'd chosen to remain in the capital for the festivities. a love for sail and sea, he'd learned and relearned since he was about knee-high, defied most barriers between bodies, and his willingness to climb and scrub and stay awake through nights in times of stormier seas had won him some degree of acceptance. (his coin, and his apparent ineptitude at their games of chance, won him the rest, never mind that the regular losing was an insurance policy naveed himself had chosen to take out against his having his neck summarily slit in his sleep by a sailor with a grudge.)

not that he'd expected any of the crew to hold any serious grudges from the recent war - he had been taken himself to the edges of the very reason why eldur had not experienced any volubisian attacks from sea, a huge, seemingly unending expanse of jagged rocks capable of tearing through the sides of ships like so much tissue paper, and supposedly inhabited by the very worst of creatures the gods had to offer. it was almost as though the gods themselves had opposed to the meeting between their lands; a thought that did not trouble naveed overmuch as he studied what he could of the barriers, and imagined what he could of how volubisian engineers and eldurian manpower might overcome them. the ivory coast had some of the best ships in eldur, both of the military and trading variety; it was simply a matter of seeing how best to play the cards in his hand, and sacrificing a little to gain multiples in return. the art of war, at least, he knew more of than the bowing and scraping to foreign dignitaries.

though he had succeeded with enough of the latter to allow him this small journey to cambria and beyond and - less fortunately - back again. whatever his feelings on this latest turn of fortune, naveed still made a mental note to visit the empress's seer on some near eve to thank him personally for his favors, in addition to the letter his secretary had sent out on his behalf. the day still had enough hours for him to make more of such friends - preferably of the breed uncaring of his travel-dust - and with repeated lack of regard for his feelings on the matter, naveed made his way through the crowds to the arena where the gladiator tournaments were being held instead of to his private chambers in the palace (or better yet, one of the public baths.) the clean steps of the arena were still, to him, something of an architectural marvel; one he could appreciate briefly, then ignore, as he scanned the rows of cheering spectators for an open seat with enough people of his station nearby to make it worth sitting.


posted on Apr 4 2018, 02:33 PM, permalink
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delwyth montfaucon
merchant's daughter, currently at dorsey, 23 years old, played by dolls, shipper , dev
ELDUR

Take me to the docks there is a ship without a name there and it is sailing to the middle of the sea
There was something to be said for Volubisia, for its sights, and its warm sun, and the dry richness of it all. As she stood in their land she could almost piece it together, the war-torn invaders from the far west, and the people that they were. Having spent her life surrounded by stories, it was easy to envision them as such, to pull their lives from snippets provided elsewhere, to weave them some tale that did not inherently belong to them, but hit close enough. Being here, though, had changed things: it had shown her personally how different they were, had both held the hands of her fears and soothed them with a voice. But Delwyth could forgive herself these transgressions, it was not overnight that you became friends with your enemies, and she thought each step toward doing so was a small enough success.

The men of Volubisia were so unlike her husband, whom she avoided, and even his brothers, whom she did not. In fact, they were unlike most men in Eldur; she'd had great difficulty reconciling this, now, with the opinions she had formed during the war. They'd come off the backs of soldiers, wounded or otherwise, who had come through and lived enough to tell their tales. In a way she almost missed it, the simplicity of distraction. During the war she'd had duties to perform, there was a rush of excitement -- the injured, in Dorsey, and the prospect of marriage, in Longmeadow. It was a terrible, dreaded secret that she kept safe in her breast, that she almost missed these times of strife for the ease they had placed on her own life. It was a guilty notion, though, one that set her stomach roiling if she lingered on it for too long.

Though Delwyth often daydreamed of these days, tending to the home, or watching the children, or with her husband. Before he had become what she knew him to be now, at least. Mostly, she daydreamed of her husband. With him, she was a songbird in a cage of gilded wire, burnished where her wings beat against the soft gold. But there was strong, ugly steel beneath the glittering gold, from which her wings could not spring her. In the end, it was truth that had built that cage around her, and her father's will that had locked the door up tight. There was nothing left to do save shed feather and hope she could avoid the worst of it. It would not have been so bad, she thought, if she had not put so much faith in trust. Had she not done so, her story would have just been plain, not sad. But it was sad, and worse for it because it was plain -- it was a sadness that was old and tired, and made for a terrible story. At the base of it all, her life was not a story worth telling, and she thought that was the worst of it all.

Volubisia at least provided decent distraction, the games proving the most valuable of them all. She had little interest in fighting, and even less interest in the repercussions of such actions, even if they had lent her a moment swathed in nostalgia, where things had been easier. Now, though, she could sit and watch them and daydream, wonder what their stories were as their blades danced with one another, and the sun shone down on the tailored skin. It was impressive to say the least, and sometimes she thought the sun was not the reason for the warmth in the stands. The thought made her smile, just a bit -- a sharp, lovely quirk of the corner of her mouth -- as her dark eyes skimmed the participants below.

Whatever battle it was they had been doing was wrapping up, and Delly found her thoughts, and eyes, straying once more. It was not difficult to do, given the ladies around her were hardly up to chattering about anything worthwhile -- Delwyth found she cared little about their prattle, on the best of days, and tolerated it on the worst. But to her left, there was a lady chattering furiously in the manner of a small, agitated bird, about one of the gladiators. As if she knew the rules any better than Delwyth did. She checked the urge to scoff and glanced the other way, her hands folded in her laps, and did her best to school her face into a neutral expression. It was something she was getting used to these days, and avoiding her husband was quickly making her quite talented. It was in doing so that her eyes alit on the lost looking face, and she felt her jaw clench of its own accord. It was difficult, sometimes, adjusting; it was worse when things came suddenly to remind her how poorly she was at it. But Naveed Shmona was just that, a human embodiment of change. What was worse was that she no longer knew where they stood with one another; years ago, she would have raised her hand and beckoned him over without so much as a thought, exuberance written in the lines of her movement. But now? He hadn't even come to her wedding, after all, and she couldn't blame him. They hadn't spoken properly in years.

She pulled her eyes away from him quickly, too quick to be inconspicuous. But the ladies at her side were too busy, despite the fact that her ramrod back felt out of place and oh so very noticeable among her peers. She focused her eyes on the emptying arena, as the fighters switched out. It would be easy to pretend she hadn't seen him, to go on with her afternoon as planned. But knowing he was there -- perhaps the closest he had been since she'd left Dorsey -- was a notion that was insidious and distracting. It had latched into her psyche with curved talons and simply refused to be shaken away. She disguised a sigh as an exhale, turned, and pretended to have seen him just then. "Lord Shmona?" She asked, politely; she was still so unsure of her footing these days, with people she had once called friends. It felt like a blade, to trade his given name for such formality. She ignored the way that feeling curled in her chest, and offered up a smile she hoped to be friendly enough. "Are you looking for a seat?"


posted on Apr 20 2018, 01:33 PM, permalink
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naveed shmona
warden, currently at dorsey, twenty nine years old, played by lyss, shipper , dev
ELDUR

naveed was not so callow a youth as to stare at her with lovesick eyes the moment he caught sight of her; his hands did not ache for the touch of her skin against them, or the brush of the pale gold of her hair; his heart did not double its pace, as though racing to make time slow, to make time pause in the pursuit of more. no - naveed frowned instead, the furrow of his brow automatic, the cross of his arms unconscious. what was it about her, that had caught his gaze so easily? her coloring had never been unique, neither in eldur nor in volubisia, and marriage had not changed the fact about her. nor had marriage changed her posture, nor the style of dress she favored, nor the - and he could see it even from this distance - subtly-shown impatience she had for some ladies of her station. it was almost as though she had been plucked out of time, as though it had been minutes since he had last seen her and not - what was it, by now? he had not counted the hours apart, had made no account of how much he had been missing. he had not even attended the wedding - the very same wedding that had, as far as he could see in that moment, left her entirely unchanged. he had send appropriate gifts and words speaking of his regard and well-wishes, but he had not gone to see her. and she had not returned.

and here she was - unchanged and alone, all pale gold and sunkissed skin, even the silks of her dress too-familiar. he could not look too closely at how easily he had found her, when he had not even been looking for her, when she had not even crossed his mind as he scanned the faces of their - their - peers; and now he could not move his gaze away, could not help but wonder. not about the fact that he had seen her at all, the idea of his gaze being drawn to her as though fated just-so more ludicrous than he could manage. he could not ask that of himself, refused the possibility of being frozen in time himself by the question, made so much a carved statue as the ones lining the walls of the arena. he'd heard a rumor than those statues were not men carved out of stone, but men covered by stone for some past transgression. an ignoble death, but one he would deserve if he were so stupid as to torment himself with what-ifs and other, assorted regrets. he had those aplenty, even without her, and he could not afford to prioritize her even now.

she had never wanted that, of him, and naveed could only raise his brows in surprise - questions and regrets alike entirely forgotten - as she caught his gaze and - almost in the same breath - turned away again. that - that was different, was unexpected, was almost enough to fill him with relief, that he might have been mistaken. perhaps she had changed. perhaps he had been mistaken, and it had never been her at all. the steel of her spine was unfamiliar, after all, her squared shoulders foreign; and was he to blame for that? he could not comprehend exactly why it was his presence that had changed her - recoiled from the thought that the absence of him was her new normal, that the time they had spent in their youths was a distant past.

the past: they did things differently there. but she was her and then she was not, and then she was her again - faint surprise still lingered on his features by the time she turned again; naveed realised he'd been caught staring at her profile with it, and allowed it to fade away with what was likely to be the meagre remnants of his dignity. "delly - lady montfaucon," he greeted in reply, stepping closer as he did and pretending he hadn't stumbled over her name. arms still crossed, the picture of a man not raised to disappear in crowds, the hesitant smile he offered her the only sign of his uncertainty, naveed made no sign of starting to bow over her hand as would have been appropriate for two members of nobility who had not been friends for years, even years ago. "excuse me, my lady, but i'm still dusty from my travels."

he hesitated, for another moment, but had he ever remained solid in the face of one of her smiles? this one, too, was unfamiliar, and he was intrigued enough by the familiar-and-yet-not to nod, smiling in gratitude as the young lady at her side picked up on the unworded hint and started to move to make room for him. "i was. i didn't expect to find such a good one. may i?"


posted on May 19 2018, 03:31 PM, permalink
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delwyth montfaucon
merchant's daughter, currently at dorsey, 23 years old, played by dolls, shipper , dev
ELDUR

Take me to the docks there is a ship without a name there and it is sailing to the middle of the sea
In being caught, there was a terrible embarrassment; even worse, in being caught looking and having looked away. Delwyth felt a sting of embarrassment upon looking back and seeing his eyes trained on her, if only because she was surely caught. But in catching her, she had caught him, had she not? There was little satisfaction in this; instead, a bare ache, old and stripped like bones in a desert, filled her. It was the ache of a friendship that had come from youth, burned brightly, and had fizzled into nothingness. The embers had gone dark at her wedding, when she had received polite emissary and a gift, and nothing more than that.

But unlike him, her life had revolved around what if's -- she had built up a life of them, of stories and possibilities. It was not just for the past that kept these thoughts like fugitives, but the future and the present as well. Preparedness was something she had learned during her mother's illness, when she'd spent hours poring over her father's books, balancing them, building his profits. Her preparedness had brought gains, put a share of coin in his coffer; her suggestions were taken into consideration, and it was the what if that tended them. It was a shame, then, that she could not have saved herself; of all the futures she had mapped out, spent her days dreaming of, the one that she found herself in was not one that she had considered at all.

Looking at him then did change things; that old ache of memory tugged at her, and a current of nostalgia lapped at her like an inbound tide. Was it worth it, now, to look at him as she had thought of him the past few years? With the contempt of a snubbed gesture, or the dispassionate turn of his face as they passed like strangers? She wished not to remember him as she had last seen him in Dorsey, but as they had been before, as children and adolescents, filled with something bigger than themselves. There had been so few back home that she had been genuine with, truly: there were the merchant girls that she mingled with, but their eyes were always on one another when a back was turned, and there was always just the slightest edge of mistrust amongst them. They were in competition, after all.

But Naveed, and by extension his family, had always been close to her heart. For a long time there had been no barrier between them, no reminder of class to separate them -- until there was, of course. But for many years they had not, and it was that time which she found herself thinking back on now, in the span of seconds before she spoke. It was nostalgia, she was sure of it -- the distant, sunny haze of the setting sun on the sea that made her think that her days in Dorsey had been more than the sum of their parts. It was wistful, and childish, and part of herself that she could never seem to grow out of.

Perhaps it showed on her face, beyond the steel that straightened her spine and the pleasant, although courteous, smile that played on her lips. It was always her eyes which these things found their way out through, and she held her gaze on him as long as she dared, before letting it flutter down to her lap. It took only a moment, to pull the curtain back into place and keep that light from shining too brightly. There was no use in thinking on these things, not now when they hardly mattered. He could reject her offer in the manner of his station -- the one, she reminded herself, that he had been born into and she had merely stolen -- and be on his way. That would be the easiest route, it would be the kindest, too. Let her down now, grind a heel into the hope that maybe there was something salvageable of their friendship, if only a moment's worth of time. It was easier than admitting her part in a crime she was just as guilty of. But he did not: to her dismay, and she was ashamed to admit also her hope, he moved toward her. A lapse of judgement and an old nickname, and she smiled -- reflexive, as it had been years ago before they had been swept up by the world and its whims. It was as if her body had forgotten, and muscle memory had betrayed her again. What a terrible, lonely story she made. But then came the mindful part of her, which arrived with responsibility, and reminded the quirk of her lips that this was not as it had been then; and the ease of their meeting was gone as he addressed her again, in her own stylizing. That was how it should be, now; sterile, pleasant but indifferent.

She would do to remind herself of that, should have done so before she offered him a seat. But the ladies were already moving, tittering away about the gladiators below and uncaring about the shuffling of seats. "I'm flattered," It was not so great a seat, she wanted to tell him; it was not so great now that he deigned speak with her. In her mind, she blamed this on a title; the last years in Dorsey had been silent between them, and in the end it had been her station which she blamed this on. She could almost hear her mother's words now, as if the woman had crept behind her, leaned over her shoulder to smile. Delwyth's face remained pleasant, but inscrutable, so unlike the barefaced one she had worn in her girlhood. "There's no need to worry over the dust. I've found everything here seems a bit dusty." The climate was drier here, and although the Volubisians kept everything immaculate, there seemed to be a perceived dustiness that clung to the air and, by extension, the things that rested beneath it. "Of course, please, sit," Delwyth moved herself, sliding gracefully aside in order to offer him ample room. In truth, she wanted not to be so close to him, for fear her traitorous memory would prompt her with more of the likes, of similar afternoons where they had sat together, in a time long passed. "You've chosen a good time, they've just switched out the men." In truth she had little desire to watch men fight, but the color of the entertainment was monochromatic in Volubisia. "They're terribly good at it." If she didn't stop now, she would never keep her mouth shut; Delwyth allowed her palms to smooth over the wrinkles in her silk skirts, remnants from her shuffle sideways, and folded them daintily against her stomach. She kept her gaze off of him, directed down toward the arena where they took their positions, and tilted her head in his direction but did not quite meet his eyes when she asked: "Have you been watching their games long, or have you only just arrived?"



posted on May 21 2018, 08:52 PM, permalink
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naveed shmona
warden, currently at dorsey, twenty nine years old, played by lyss, shipper , dev
ELDUR

it was always her eyes that gave the game away - they regarded him steadily, in a complete turnabout from the way she'd turned from he as though he were as inconsequential as he'd greatly prefer to be, gave weight to the pang of recognition. if a pang could be constant. if the sense of recognition didn't feel as though it were a string connecting the two of them, or a charged wire, the currents unconstant enough for the small stings to be a surprise each time. it was almost a relief when she turned her gaze away again; it was enough to make him frown again, so that anyone who'd turned to watch them might perhaps think they'd once been very cross with each other, and the ill feelings had failed to disassociate over time. but if he had done her a wrong, then he couldn't even begin to think what it might have been, and if she had done him wrong, it was well within his means and desires both to lay things to rest and have things as they once were once more. (and it was wrong, and untrue, and ]cruel to think of her marriage as a wrong done to him; and so it was a crime he would never accuse her of having committed. and it was a trick of time, of wistfulness, to think of her marriage as the start of things and not the end of them, and so the point was moot.)

her smile was proof made solid that his memories weren't entirely faulty - that she was a thing real and true and familiar, a person that he had once had the good fortune to know - and naveed found himself wearing a smile to suit; it crested his features like a new dawn rising, like a bittersweet farewell to the darkness of the night, and he could not bring himself to rein it in. he would not place odds on such a feat being manageable - not when he could not even say exactly when the last time he'd been the recipient of her smile had been. and it would have been cruel to even ask him to make the effort. fondness morphed into amusement as the ladies around them went tittering on about the goingons below, scarcely paying either of them any attention, which made for an odd - and not unlikeable - change. it gave him freedom to keep his gaze on delly - her smile, the banked fire of her gaze, the way sunlight painted her bare skin - and for that he could give each of delly's companions a kiss, regardless of how the dust of his travels might affect them.

"you never used to be so easily flattered," he prodded her, voice low and familiar now that they were - at least momentarily - sitting close and familiar. the tease in his voice was obvious; almost embarrassingly so, almost pleading for her to accept his jest. and perhaps even to return fire in kind. "then again, you had a small army of men fighting for your favour; you had to spread your flattery thin." (and there was a second pang, as he said the words - or a greater jolt would be a greater descriptor, considering how the tie between them had only felt intensified.) he had never been one of the many, he could recall without bitterness, though the curl to his lips in that moment might call him liar. he had never been one for crowds, in truth, or for throwing his weight around where he was unwanted; which painted his presence in that arena as more fulfilment of responsibility than achievement of enjoyment.

though he might guess that delly - lady montfaucon - might not feel the same way, considering how the ladies around her - around them both, now - were still tittering enthusiastically. if naveed hadn't been raised absolutely surrounded by women his ears might have been caught in flames; as it was, he wondered how the ladies could be so determinedly appreciative so early in the day. he might wonder if he'd interrupted delly's own ogling - but considering the fact that not even his sisters could call him a sore sight, he would have to hope to one day reach forgiveness. for this, and for whatever other crime he must have committed, to have her looking more like painted doll than friend despite her warm greeting. naveed gave a soft, questioning hum in response, returning his gaze from the oiled men the ladies had been appreciating to delly, gaze greedy again - so briefly - over her familiar-unfamiliar face. "i was on the waters - i've made a friend kind enough to lend me a boat - and the air still felt different."

but difference felt a dangerous tune to linger on, and so he turned to the show below once more, brows furrowing slightly as he followed the stage's dangerous dance. "i'm glad i'm not down there with them," he answered, shameless in the confession, wrinkling his nose slightly - a childish expression he had never outgrown - when one fighter made a move that made it appear that the fighters would need to be switched out once more. "are you enjoying yourself?" he asked, just as she asked him her own question - and though he thought his more interesting (what did delly know of fighting, and could she really have grown into a taste for it?) he would not do her - or himself - the disservice of letting the chance for conversation slip by. "i've only just returned to myrmias, and the games," he told her, feeling each beaded slip by in uncomfortable silence as he tried to find a hook for her attention. "their waters nearest here are nothing like dorsey - i don't think i've ever seen anything that shade of blue. it more than makes up for the air." and for the gratuitous violence, he might say, if he didn't think there were a chance that this new, unfamiliar version of her might enjoy just that. the chances were small, but not nonexistent, and for that he would hold his tongue.



posted on Jul 10 2018, 07:34 AM, permalink
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