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Storm and Fire by Gavin Berkeley
[May 07, 2018, 01:15:46 AM]


Seeking a Muse by Blair Grejya
[May 07, 2018, 12:53:33 AM]


Your Hope is Deeper than Pain by Darien Pryce
[May 06, 2018, 04:54:42 PM]


In and Out of Astral Planes by Merron Schezar
[December 26, 2016, 11:16:52 PM]


Woeful Winter Weather by Kaeden Sanzer
[December 20, 2016, 03:44:05 PM]


One Skip Ahead by Adara Kendricks
[February 24, 2016, 10:06:18 AM]

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Author Topic: Storm and Fire  (Read 3803 times)

Description: tag: Alene

Alene MacKenna

  • Black Widow Healer
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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2016, 06:06:28 PM »
Alene wondered if it was a common feeling: to want to reach over and shake the male. It might rattle sense into his brain. On the other hand, it might open up the door to assorted threats of throttling, which she was less fond of. It had been years: years, and a Gray Jewel, and a dual caste witch, did much to dissuade casual threats. Even ones meant fondly.

Glaring again at the windows, she sighed. Blizzards. “Not far enough.”

It was an absent minded correction. The weather outside the door was getting worse, and it was clear that not even stubborn determination would be enough to get her out of this establishment. Kicking her boots off under the table, the woman brought her stockinged feet up to the chair. Shifting, curling them underneath her, the length of her dress’s hem was enough to fall over her feet and her legs as she leaned back again, resettled for the moment.

Her attention fell back to the male. “If you’re looking still, if you’re still not finding, it hasn’t gotten you far enough. Not what you want.”

Alene’s hands settled to the edge of the table, her fingers curling around the wood there. It was a physical anchor, one that didn’t require sharpness or blood or grief or - her jaw tightened. None of that. Not tonight. Not now. She sighed, heavily.

“Nets. Your search, but every time, you get…stopped. Holes. Everything you do has a reaction. You came here and got stopped by a blizzard - a snag, and maybe that’s why you wouldn’t find her here, or maybe she was never here to begin with.”

Gavin Berkeley

  • Prince; Master of the Guard of Narshe Province
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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2016, 09:37:36 PM »
Gavin tried to just... sit. He tried. He tried as hard as he could to just let his brain do the work, and puzzle out what in the world the Black Widow was talking about. Oh, he understood bits and pieces, but still that main point eluded him. It was like... no, it wasn't like she was speaking in riddles, she was speaking in riddles. Or at least metaphors. For a moment, Gavin wished that he'd spent more time fishing, that he might understand it a little better.

The Prince shoved his growing annoyance down as fas as he could in order to try and think... straight? In loops and circles and swirls? Despite that the Black Widow had been repeating herself for nearly the entirety of their conversation, it still felt like the words were jumbled and nonsensical. Like every new reply was woven back into the others in an intricate knot.

Now he was the one thinking in metaphors, and it was starting to make his head spin.

Leaning his elbows on the table, he let his face rest in his hands for a moment and massaged his temples. As if that would help. Would that he was so fortunate that his headache could be cured by that.

"Look," Gavin said, eyes closed and still rubbing his temples. "Can we just... forget the nets and the holes for a moment. Please. I don't know what you see, how... far you can see, or anything like that. Whatever you are trying to warn me about, thank you. I admit I'm still lost, but thank you. I'll try to remember it anyway."

Alene MacKenna

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2016, 01:17:57 AM »
She knew that she wasn’t the only one who was frustrated, but the fact that it was because she simply couldn’t grasp the right words.. They slipped away from her, and the more that she fought to hold onto them, the more quickly the right thing to say disintegrated under her touch. Alene could see the irony in it. What she was chiding the Prince - trying, anyway - about was the same thing that she was doing.

To a degree, at any rate. She leaned back with a sigh. Letting go of the table with her right hand, she let it settle under the sleeve of the cloak that she hadn’t bothered taking off when she came into the inn. Absently, she thought that perhaps she might do so now.

It was clear that she would be here for hours longer.

As she mused over the situation, her fingers traced the network of scars that wrapped their way up her forearms. The illusion spell, backed with the Grey, concealed the marks but did little to disguise the texture. It was something she had never worried about before. Would it be worth doing? Was it a concern that she should have? Why was touch such an integral thing? Where had that development ha - no.

Alene blinked, willing her mind into the present. Sparks kicked out from the fire and smoke flavored the air. She sighed. Maybe once she could escape this place and feel the bite of the winter weather on her face again it would be less challenging to keep her grasp on her mind. The harder she had to fight for it though, the more willfully it slipped the leash.

Watching the Prince rub at his temples, the Black Widow Healer cocked her head to the side. “Very well.”

At least it would remove the incessant press of jumbled words that made perfect sense until they were actually spoken. Tension was evident in Prince Berkeley: she wondered how much of it was because of her own ambiguity.

After a moment of silence, Alene couldn’t repress instinct any longer. “Are you unwell?”

Gavin Berkeley

  • Prince; Master of the Guard of Narshe Province
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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2016, 10:02:22 PM »
Gavin tried to ignore the headache that had been slowly creeping up on him from talking in circles too much. Rubbing his temples was helping a little bit, but his mind was still trying to piece together all the possible meanings of what the Black Widow had meant. It was, he decided, an impossible task. If not even the Gray-Jeweled Black Widow herself could tell him what her words meant, there was little chance that he was going to be able to understand it.

"Thank you," he breathed, as she acquiesced to drop the conversation that had caused him the headache. The rest of his breath left him in a soft whoosh and he dropped his hands back down to the table. Threading his fingers together, he glanced back over at the Black Widow.

He blinked at her, uncertainly. Until that point he had been watching her, but not looking all that closely at her expressions. He wasn't sure he could have articulated just what her expression was, in any case. The Prince was used to dealing with the various masks of nonchalance and careful neutrality that were common in the Courts, but this was something different. This was... well, he wasn't sure.

"Sorry?" he said, unsure if he'd heard her question correctly. "I'm... uh..."

He didn't think he was unwell. Unless the headache could be counted as such, he would have said he was feeling just fine. Tired, yes. Stressed, yes. Mentally drained, absolutely. But unwell?

"I'm fine, thank you," he settled on. Then, remembering his manners, continued, "Apologies, Lady. My name is Gavin Berkeley, Master of the Guard for Province Queen Aderyn Llewellyn of Narshe."

The feel of the title after his name was still odd; he wasn't quite used to hearing it yet, especially not from his own lips. He could have just as easily left it off, he supposed, in a setting like this. Perhaps it was how his mind had decided to try and put him back on even ground, though there was no real need for it. Maybe he wasn't as well as he thought. He would have time to figure it out, however, with the blizzard coming through...

Alene MacKenna

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2016, 10:07:35 AM »
Alene tilted her head at the Prince. He seemed uncertain about the nature of her question - or, on reflection, as he struggled for words, the actual answer. Her brow wrinkled lightly as she frowned. How hard of a query was it? She blinked: apparently it was more complicated than she realized. Although she would allow that there were a number of things she didn't always realize. Or understand. Or manage to put together, and words themselves were often a chief culprit of such frustrations because if she could just make it make sense then they could understand and the comprehension wouldn't be an issue and it wouldn't be jumbled together and - ...

"You seem uncertain of your answer," the witch commented after a moment. Her voice was absent. Alene was far afield, busier fighting the tangled skeins of her own thought process (tentatively threaded through the conversation).

After a steadying breath, her eyes turned to the shutters of the tavern. They rattled with a particularly enthusiastic gust of wind. Beyond the panes of glass, she was certain the world was in a very particular form of chaos but within the room, it was warm and, she supposed, welcome. To most. Being stuck in a tavern was quite possibly the very last thing that the Black Widow Healer had wanted to deal with. Or at least, made the top section of the list.

Stilling her hands - each clasped loosely around the opposing forearm - the witch blinked again at the Prince. She was bemused this time. "I...know?"

At least, she thought she knew. She had known - but had she known before, and the tavern itself only confirmed a suspicion? Or was it something she had known? Or simply the whispers at the questions he asked as they reached her before she did?

"Well. Not your full name," Alene settled after a moment. A pause. "Oh. Ah," a pause as she blinked. There was Protocol for situations like these - but... "I'm honored to make your acquaintance, Prince Berkeley."

And she might have left it there until her own rather bemused thoughts caught up with her. "Oh," she exclaimed more feelingly this time, under her breath. Right. "I'm Alene MacKenna."

Gavin Berkeley

  • Prince; Master of the Guard of Narshe Province
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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2016, 05:15:29 PM »
Well, Gavin was already back to being confused. He was getting used to people knowing who he was now; there weren't many Gray-Jeweled Princes in that corner of Scelt, and as Master of the Guard he was getting quite a lot of attention, anyway. That she said she knew who he was, then, was not the confusing part. It was how she said it that made him confused.

At least there was still some small bit of Protocol to fall back into in order to hide it. Protocol was useful in so many ways, and while Gavin had gotten used to some of the aspects of hiding behind it, there were more things that he was appreciating in an entirely different way now that he was in a higher position in the Court. There were more things that he was understanding that he'd heard over the years from those higher up the chain from him, as well.

The Prince fixed a polite smile on his face as the Black Widow introduced herself, and made something approaching a bow while sitting.

He cleared his throat. "Well, now that introductions are out of the way..."

Had there not been a blizzard outside, he would have excused himself to continue searching. In his current predicament, however, it was either converse with the locals, or continue to engage with the other dark-Jeweled individual. The latter was marginally more appealing at that moment.

"I am interested in what a Gray-Jeweled Black Widow would be doing out here," he started, the smile becoming a little more genuine. "It couldn't be that you're here just to tell me I'm looking in all the wrong places."

With how circular her answers had been, however, Gavin could easily believe that was exactly the case. Logic, on the other hand, told him it couldn't.

Alene MacKenna

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2016, 09:52:18 AM »

As far as she could tell, the Master of the Guard seemed to be as at a loss as Alene had found herself. Although, the witch thought, it wasn't that she didn't know what she wanted to say. He simply didn't seem to.. understand it.

The shutters rattled again and Alene glanced to the side to watch. The firelight cast shadows along the wall, the thrum of conversation outside the aural shield that she had set having lowered in the minutes since the Prince had seated himself. It seemed they were as resigned as she to wait out the night. Drawing her arms against her, the woman's eyes dropped to where one hand's fingers clasped loosely about her wrist. There was no concealment of the darkened nails, where the pressed lightly into the skin of her forearm.

Secrets. That wasn't the secret. No need to hide that - or the other really, her mind chided. Not those things. Those were alright. But what was concealed needed to stay there, and it was as if a list ticked through her mind with every bump her fingers found over her skin.

Where - why - how. Now? Who for? But why? But the reason - but the way?

Finding that she had taken her lower lip between her teeth as she had thought, Alene tried to relax. Tried to bring herself into the present. Tried to answer the question that he had asked, tried to find the words - Mother Night, damn the words.

"I needed to be here," she replied at last. The tone of voice was matter of fact - and she knew, already, how painfully inadequate the reason was. "There's something - it's just..." Alene broke off, meeting his eyes for the first time in what felt like an eternity. How long had she been in her own mind? "I needed to be here."

And then she blinked, the internal tension shattering in a second. Tilting her head  at him, the witch found herself appraising one, Gavin Berkeley, Master of the Guard of Narshe Province with vague bemusement.

"Healer."

A pause. "Gray-Jeweled Black Widow Healer."

Gavin Berkeley

  • Prince; Master of the Guard of Narshe Province
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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2016, 07:33:30 PM »
The Black Widow's answer did leave something to be desired, though Gavin had finally found it within himself to not comment on it. He even managed not to sigh. He would just accept it and move on with the conversation.

A conversation that, it seemed, was conspiring to continually go to unexpected places. He blinked as his mind processed the information he had just been given. He looked closer at the woman across the table from him, as if that would somehow reveal something previously unseen.

With the small revelation of Black Widow Healer, whatever little oddities he had picked up on earlier fell into place. He hadn't quite noticed the scent of Healer behind that of Black Widow, but now that he was looking for it, it was there and they was unmistakably linked. He felt a little embarrassed for not having noticed; he spent how much time with a Healer Queen and didn't recognize the secondary scent of another dual caste Healer?

"Oh," was all he could say for a minute.

Accept it and move on, he told himself. Just like the other stuff. Usually, an unexpected revelation wouldn't throw the Prince so much, but after feeling like he'd been chasing the conversation in circles, his mind was already... off.

Eventually, he cleared his throat. "I take it that you're not originally from this... village, Lady MacKenna. Despite whatever you needed to be here for, I can't imagine there's much else to do here. Perhaps once you've found what you needed to be here for, you'll come to Caorán? It's bound to be more interesting than a small village like this."

Despite that he had become much more familiar with such small villages, Gavin had grown up in Courts and cities and didn't know if he would ever be able to find the slow pace of the countryside as relaxing as others seemed to find it.

Alene MacKenna

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2016, 12:04:17 PM »
He was, Alene concluded, a very baffling creature. Were all males so peculiar? Or perhaps it was just the weather that had put him out of sorts. Did he not like taverns? What was it that he was looking for? Oh, yes, to some degree the witch could already have presented an answer for that query but what did he really want? Why did he want it?

And why, she wondered, did he want information on such an unprompted topic as villages?

Oh.

For a moment, a helpless expression merged with features set in frustration. This was pedestrian conversation that everyone seemed to know, adhere to. It was a script but no one had ever bothered to teach the narrative to the Black Widow Healer.

He was being polite, and it was enough to set her floundering.

She found her gaze focusing on something other than the Prince. A shower of sparks kicked up with the popping of a log. From behind the spells that concealed their own conversation, a brief uproar of raucous laughter indicated that other individuals had been more cheerful about their entrapment than the pair of Gray Jeweled individuals seated at their own table. Ale and wine were flowing freely, overtaking the scent of food that the establishment had run out of perhaps an hour prior.

"Glacia's winters are colder than this." Wind set the walls to shuddering again. "I suppose it's the mountains. There's no coast to keep the climate more temperate. Although I'm coming to understand that snow isn't altogether uncommon for at least parts of this Territory."

Alene's attention abruptly refocused on the Master of the Guard. They didn't have food. Or drinks. And if they were going to have to wait - perhaps for hours into the night, at which point travel was pointless anyway - then..?

She searched for the words. "Would you care for a drink?" An assessing eye weighed the bar counter itself, the glasses behind it, the merriment of the Warlord who managed things quite adeptly. A flicker of humor twisted itself into her smile. "I don't suppose I'll have much luck finding tea, but I'm open to being surprised."

Maybe.

"Interesting is a peculiar word to use. Do you like things to be interesting, Prince?" Alene considered it for a moment. "I'm from Glacia. And I'm here for something but it isn't time for it to be happening yet." Her expression seemed attentive. "Do you suppose Caoran is a nice sort of interesting?"

Gavin Berkeley

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2016, 06:04:52 PM »
Small talk wasn't necessarily what Gavin preferred, but it did offer a convenient way to retreat from the confusion of the previous conversation and let him recover his wits. At first, he wasn't sure if the Black Widow would respond. All the Black Widows he'd met had been a little off in their own worlds, but this one seemed especially so.

When she did respond, it was comfortably normal. The Prince nodded.

"This is apparently quite normal, more's the pity, I suppose. I wouldn't have minded if the Province didn't see snow for a few more months." Snow was better as a novelty, in Gavin's opinion; while the cold and wet was survivable for months on end, it was not his favorite.

The question of drinks was another hint at normality, despite being unexpected. The Prince's expression softened, almost becoming a smile. "Something warm to drink in this weather sounds lovely."

Modifying the aural shields that he had sent up around them what seemed like ages ago, he called over one of the servers who had been meandering through the room. While there was little (if any) food to be had, there was plenty of drink. Thankfully for Gavin, they had coffee.

Gavin hadn't considered whether Caorán was a nice sort of interesting. He hadn't even really thought about what a "nice sort of interesting" was. It was different than what he was used to, and yet somehow still felt more and more normal. He wasn't sure if he would ever feel entirely comfortable, but it was already much easier to reconcile the Territory of his birth as a new place to call home.

Lady MacKenna's comment that what she was in Scelt for was not happening yet had piqued his interest, but the previous conversation was still too fresh in his mind to even begin trying to approach the subject. It wasn't his business anyway, he told himself.

"It depends on what you mean by 'interesting,' I suppose," the Prince replied. "Caorán is very different than where I spent most of my life, so in that sense it is interesting. I've traveled through Glacia briefly; it's different than there, too. From all that I've seen, I suppose you could call it a... nice sort of interesting."

The city, the Province in general, was a bit insular and often standoffish to outsiders, but beyond that it was warm and close, like a family. Like a small town, with all of its good points and bad.

Alene MacKenna

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2016, 12:16:52 PM »
Alene sighed.

She had been right: there wasn't any tea to be found. Her brows pursed as she regarded the coffee in front of her. The dark color had been morphed into something lighter with the sugar and cream that had been added. Cautiously sipping at it, the witch felt her features fight to contort into a grimace: if it wasn't bitter, was it still coffee?

Who knew. It still wasn't what she would consider good.

"You have little luck in that regard, from my understanding. Although maybe the snow is the reason it will work. Or maybe it's the reason it won't." The woman shrugged. "Who's to say?"

Although at least it was warm, she thought, as she put the cup down on the table again. Glancing across the table, Alene studied Gavin. He seemed to be enjoying his, at any rate.

Someone should, the Black Widow Healer concluded as her mind wandered. Dregs of cream not fully mixed in dragged in spirals across the surface of her drink. It almost spiderwebbed out from rim to rim, bringing to mind her Tangled Webs. There was no pattern, though. No steps to progress through, to follow the lattice down, but no dissonance from a pattern to draw attention to something that needed to be seen.

Alene blinked, gaze coming into sharper focus. Maybe they were right. Maybe she was crazy, and maybe coffee was just coffee and dreams were just dreams, and snow was snow, and chance was just that: random happenstance set up from completely unaffected variables that had no meaning.

But then the Gray Prince spoke of travel and different places and her mind lurched, pieces falling away underfoot as memory clawed its way up into her consciousness and she wasn't crazy and dreams were not dreams, and chance was never completely isolated.

"I think you'll find something in Scelt," Alene remarked at last. Her eyes were bright in the dim light, gleaming with something that couldn't completely be accredited to the sparking fire in the hearth. "Something is here for you. You match. Interesting, in the same way. A different-interesting."

Gavin Berkeley

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2016, 09:06:37 PM »
Gavin felt a little sorry for the Black Widow as she tried her coffee. Perhaps he ought to tell her that there was tea back at the Province Seat, he thought. Knowing his luck, though, she would insist that they go there right then and there. He could put off saying anything for a while. There was a small part of him that wondered what his Queen would make of the other woman, and another small part that was very hesitant at the idea of the two of them meeting at all.

His own coffee had been dosed with a liberal pour of cream, turning it a slightly lighter shade than the near-black it had been. It was on the edge of too strong for his tastes, but did help to distract him from the cold. He let the heat of the cup seep into his hands and warm his fingers.

The Prince could feel the woman across from him occasionally studying him as he sipped at his coffee. It felt like a very small itch, noticeable but ultimately able to be ignored. The moment the itch was gone, he found his own gaze going to study her. That she was an odd one was the only conclusion he could come to. He almost thought that he could see when she was looking at something else that only she was aware of; he quickly backed away from that thought, not wanting to dwell too much on what Black Widows could see that the rest of them could not.

When she mentioned finding something, something that matched, Gavin's expression softened into an amused smile. There were a few things that the statement could have meant, but there was only one that stood out in his mind.

"I've already found plenty in Scelt," he said. "And not at all what I went searching for. I don't think I need to be a Black Widow to figure out what you mean, this time."

Alene MacKenna

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2016, 12:39:33 PM »
Peering down at her mug, it was only a matter of seconds to destroy the spider web of cream that had latticed its way across the surface of her coffee: Alene delicately dragged the tip of her index finger over the top of the drink, swirling the lighter color into the rest of the drink. After she had done so, the witch glanced back up. The Prince seemed amused.

Well. It was a far cry better than frustrated.

"That's the thing about searching," the woman continued after a moment's silence. It became clear that Prince Berkeley had no intention of continuing his speech. "You find what you find but it's not necessarily what you were looking for but you find that, too, except not when you seek it."

Alene's tone was nearly pragmatic and it made sense, in a way. At least, as much as anything else the obfuscating female had said in the time that they had been seated together.

She cupped her palms against the ceramic of the mug. Warmth seeped into her skin, a bite against a chill that not even the number of people in the room or the hearths kept stoked and lively could quite eliminate. As the shutters rattled from the wind screeching outside and a draft of winter seemed to breathe its way into the establishment every flame inside seemed to flicker brighter for a heartbeat.

After they had dimmed once more, leaving eyes struggling to readjust to the loss of illumination, Alene was seen to have fallen still. Her palms loosely cupped the inside of the opposite forearm, both of which rested motionlessly on the table. She might have become a statue rather than the living, breathing creature that she must have been.

Except - except.

The witch was fighting to remain as present as she could, the cold wind livening and the warm mug soothing and the cracks of the wood as it sparked startling. The Darkness was less abrupt, less jarring, an alluring drag into truth and answers and dreams and futures and if she just stayed still and let her mind quiet and her Craft - no.

Not now, Alene thought curtly, fingers abruptly tightening around her forearms.

"She wasn't looking and found what she needed because of it.." A pause as humor brightened Alene's expression. "Or in spite of it. Perhaps against her own desires. Your Lady's path is never the smoothly paved, is it."

Gavin Berkeley

  • Prince; Master of the Guard of Narshe Province
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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2016, 05:11:31 PM »
Once the Black Widow spoke again, Gavin found his mind chasing her words again. It was, perhaps, inevitable. He shook his head, still with an expression of amusement and mumbled, "And now you're talking in circles again. I can't keep up."

There was some part of it that made sense, or that sounded like it ought to make sense, but the moment Gavin tried to put his finger on what it was it vanished. He was reminded of something that the Healer he had been an escort to had said to him once. She'd told him that "things had a habit of turning up in unexpected places, and it was only when you were looking at something else that you noticed them." It wasn't quite the same as what Alene had said, but there was a similar feeling to it.

Gavin took another long sip of coffee, collecting his thoughts again. Yes, he had certainly not been looking for what he'd found, could never have predicted it. He wouldn't do anything differently if he had to make the choice again -- the piece of him that had suddenly felt more securely in place, the feeling of rightness, knowing those now had made sure of it. But he still wished that there was more satisfaction in his other search.

Gavin drew his cloak a little more closely around him as the chill from outside seemed to creep back in. The shields around the two dark-Jeweled individuals didn't manage to keep that out. As an afterthought, Gavin warmed the air around the table just enough to feel comfortable again.

The Prince tilted his head a little as he watched Alene. Her gaze was far away again, which Gavin was beginning to understand was just how the woman was. He studied her, curious.

At her words, Gavin paled a little. He had to admit that his first meeting with Aderyn had not gone as either of them had planned, but to think that it had all been against her wishes was jarring. Troubling. No matter how much she had needed him.

"No," he replied slowly. "I don't believe that her path has ever been smoothly paved, even when she had the chance for it to be."

Once again, he thought that perhaps he ought to try and bring the Black Widow back with him for Aderyn to meet. Perhaps the Healer Queen could make more sense out of what the woman was saying. And Darkness knew that they could use every ally they could get.

Alene MacKenna

  • Black Widow Healer
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  • Points: 0
  • Posts: 20
    • Age: 20

    • Race: Glacian

    • Birthright JP: 57

    • Offering JP: 8

    • Bio: Alene MacKenna

    • Player: Elle

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Re: Storm and Fire
« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2016, 09:32:39 AM »
Frustration was a white hot sensation threading through her veins. It wasn't often that she was told flat-out that someone couldn't understand. Although it was still less of a sting than watching someone shift uneasily, slowly extricating themselves from a conversation at the nearest opportunity. She was.. difficult. Alene knew that. But not being understood, that - that was a feeling she would wish on no one.

A bright jolt of pain stroked through her consciousness and the Black Widow Healer reflexively eased the grasp she had tightened on her forearm. The sharp prick of a nail had grazed skin in such a way as to draw her out of her own mind.

It always did. A finger traced the uneven, pebbled skin; left roughened by scars.

"You sat there," Alene began, words less certain than they had been in the entire conversation. "It was one choice of many. But you sat there, so someone else didn't, and we are having this conversation instead of any other you might have had if you sat somewhere else." The witch carefully brought her hands away from her arms. Lacing her fingers together, she shoved them both into her lap as she leaned forward.

She inhaled slowly through her nose. Exhaling in the same way, she continued.

"If you.. make choices to look for something, sometimes you find yourself farthest from it. But when you don't look, your choices, your future comes to overlap with what you wish to seek." A quicksilver smile, her eyes intent on his. "Search for a witch, find a Queen instead. Search for a Queen, find a war."

A smile, knowing and familiar in a way that perhaps it shouldn't have been.

"Look for sovereignty, find a Master of the Guard."

Alene blinked though, when it seemed that she might have continued. The cadence of her words, which had begun as a slow, careful choice, had picked up cadence as she found herself more certain of what she was speaking of. Glimmers of insight from what she had seen, but then the.. rationality that she knew to be true. Finding the words to convey those to him. Searching was very different from finding.

Her head tilted to the side as her brows furrowed. "Although sometimes something is an actual answer that was looked for, but comes in a very different way than expected."