Old Wounds

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 5, 2014 by westel

Caloneth had kept the letter hidden away in his desk drawer for over a month now. It was a delicate subject which he had no intentions of broaching until the right time. Tonight, he concluded, was the right time.

Once the scent of Irona’s cooking drifted upstairs, Caloneth folded the letter, tucked it away in his pocket, and made his way swiftly to the dining room. His wife was already seated at one end of the table listening with well-practiced attention to their granddaughter, Clarys’, nightly drivel. Hadrian sat opposite his sister, long hair obscuring his face, an open book in his lap. As usual there was no sign of the children’s mother, besotted woman that she was. Caloneth made his entrance and all three stood up. With a flourish of his hand they reclaimed their seats in silence.

“Hadrian,” said Caloneth slowly as he took his seat at the head of the table.

The young elf, who was in the process of discreetly stowing away his book, tensed and peered passively at his grandfather. “Sir?”

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” drawled the Lord with some ice to his words, “but I do believe you were instructed not to read at the table.”

“I was.” Said Hadrian, calmly holding the older man’s gaze.

“And what else were you told about this?”

“That it is disrespectful…sir.”

Silence settled heavily over the table as the two peered at each other until Caloneth was sure he’d said all that was necessary. His attention snapped to his wife. “Cersei, do you plan on summoning the servants or are we participating in some kind of fast that I was unaware of?” The willowy woman at the end of the table declined to answer, simply pursing her pink painted lips and lifting a tiny bell with a pointed jerk.

Immediately the kitchen doors swing open to a small line of servants with drinks and salad. Once everyone had been served, the Sorrelons tucked in and began to eat in relative quiet. However the salads had barely been touched when Caloneth called for the entree. He wanted this dinner over with so to get to other matters at hand. The letter felt heavy in his breast pocket and Caloneth was anxious to be rid of it.

It took a keen eye, but the Lord Sorrelon’s foul mood did not go unnoticed by his family. The rigidity of his grip, the slight bulge of his temple, and the way he stared straight ahead but at nothing at all; all were signs of a coming storm. The gathered Sorrelons took great care to even chew quietly for fear of stoking the fire in the Lord’s eyes.

“Clarys, I’ll have dessert send up to your room.” The young girl jumped at being addressed so suddenly. Caloneth’s voice, sharp even when casual, sounded like a roar after their silent meal.

“Sir?” Clarys’ quizzical gaze shifted between her grandfather and brother, who she noticed had not been told he would receive dessert in his room. The only person permitted to eat away from the dining table was their mother.

“I’ve matters to discuss with your brother and grandmother. Leave us.”

Without further question, Clarys fled from the dining room. Hadrian watched her go with some longing, wishing he too had been banished for the night.

“What is this all about?” Demanded Cersei once the girl had gone. She was never keen on being treated like a child about to be chastised and that was the exact look her husband was giving her.

“Darling. As you know, until recently you were in no fit state to receive any of your many missives. So the task was left to me. ”

“Yes…” She said with caution. “But I was under the impression that you had given me all my letters and notices last week.”

“All but one…” His hand dipped into his pocket and procured the letter. Fingers gently unfolding the parchment, Caloneth cleared his throat and began to read its contents aloud. By the second paragraph, Cersei’s face had gone ashen, while Hadrian remained cooly, smartly indifferent to it all. Once finished, Caloneth slowly began tearing the letter to pieces.

“I tolerated this woman’s presence at our son’s funeral–yes she was there and yes I knew exactly who she was.” He added sharply at his wife’s look of shock. “I did not get to where I am today without knowing how to do research.” He tore the letter further. “But had I known my wife and grandson had been in “friendly contact” with her…”

Caloneth leaned forward, palms pressed against the paper littered table. “You both know I mislike deception within this family.”

“She sought me out,” said Cersei with a tremor to her voice. “Wishes to…to form ties between our families I suppose.”

He snorted with derision. “We will not form any sort of ties with your bastard’s family.”

It was Hadrian’s turn to speak up. “My Lord, if I may, Lady Duskflame is from a very prestigious family.”

“The Duskflames, as you know, became all but extinct after The Fall. And whatever prestige that might’ve been left over most certainly vanished when the eldest living child chose to marry your grandmother’s bastard boy. Fel he was in court just recently for assaulting a magister.”

Hadrian fell silent, seeing there would be no way to argue this with his grandfather. Lowering his head, he busied himself with cleaning his glasses.

“…Caloneth.” Cersei tried again, her voice quiet, pleading. “Caloneth, I have more grandchildren.” She knew better than to say ‘we’.

“Which do you mean?” He asked with a dark chuckle. “The bastard girl he sired or the twins who carry his blood?” Caloneth glared across the table at his wife. “Your son cut ties with this family long ago. Possibly the only intelligent thing he’s ever done. He’d stained the family name long enough and I will not have him sullying it further by rebuilding any bridges.”

“But–”

“He has done enough!” Roared Caloneth, making Cersei cringe. “Or do you forget our sons?”

His wife said not another word, only stared at her lap, trembling.

“You will have no more contact with this Astoreth Duskflame, neither of you. Do you understand?”

Both nodding, then Hadrian spoke up as he replaced his glasses. “May I be excused, sir?”

A sharp nod was all he got in return. As Hadrian disappeared, Caloneth fixed his wife with an unapologetic stare. “Goodnight.” Without waiting for her response he too swept from the dining room, leaving Cersei alone to fixate on the torn pieces of Astoreth’s letter.

 

Held Captive

Posted in Categories? That means I'm organized... with tags , on February 17, 2014 by westel

It’s going to be a hard week. 

A light dot of ink marked the end of the thought and West paused, quill poised to form words that suddenly would not come. Seconds ago the emotions and thoughts had surged so tumultuously through his mind he had no choice but to write them down, lest they break through in some less desirable way. Westel certainly was not keen on returning to therapy. Yet just as he put quill to paper the anxieties, self-loathing and regrets that had been vying for attention seemed to have been snatched back into the dark corners of his mind.

“Damn it.” Westel growled. He stared accusingly at the few words he’d granted freedom, his narrow script still glistening of fresh ink, as if they had been the cause of the others’ flight. It had been a year almost to the day and he still could not face all that he had locked away. Not even a little at a time, it seemed. Still grappling with what wisps remained West dipped the quill in ink and moved to start again only to hit a wall. Hand hovering just above the page, a black spot of ink stained the entry in the middle of the mostly blank page. Westel watched sullenly as thin tendrils spread from the blot along the paper’s minute creases.

Sitting back with a sigh, he looked over the first and only sentence once more. Perhaps that was all that needed to be said.

Just For Tonight

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 2, 2013 by westel

“Don’t bother coming home tonight!”

Before she spat those hateful words at his back, Westel never considered her home his as well. How awful, he brooded, to be barred from a home he didn’t even know he had. Peering down at the bottom of his glass, Westel allowed that argument to replay in his head yet again.

It was all Ellisera’s fault, he seethed. Pinning this pregnancy on him. The girl wasn’t exactly chaste and she had a boyfriend now for the Light’s sake. Why did she have to insist on involving him? Westel had no business being a father, some snot-nosed kid’s role model. Who wanted a hateful addict for a father? He was doing the kid a favor, trying to stay out of its life. This was all her fault.

The bar was especially crowded this evening. Full of other lonely sods who’d pissed off their girls and were compelled to drink and forget for a while. Westel ignored the lot of them; he ignored the rowdy group hogging half the tables, brushed off the older elf who had begun telling his life story earlier, even turned down the two girls who sashayed over looking for free drinks and a good night. West just wanted to sit at the bar and drink and then scowl at his empty glass until the bartender refilled it. Eventually he’d stumble upstairs to a room, or perhaps just to a tree out in Eversong, and in the morning he’d find Ashelyen to patch things up. That was all he wanted to do.

“Another?” The bartender took Westel’s glass without waiting for an answer. New ice cubes clinked against the glass, soon submerged in the bourbon he’d befriended for the evening. Without so much as a thank you, West took the newly made drink and drained nearly half of it. The bartender simply walked away.

Glad that he was not going to be bothered, Westel returned to glaring at his drink. They’d fought only a few hours ago, but he could scarcely remember what set things off. Why was she so pissed at him anyways? What’s it to her, whether he takes part in this child’s life? Especially with such little proof that the thing was even his. Gods the woman went from mildly disappointed to practically breathing fire in two seconds. Westel shook his head and tipped his drink to one side, listening to the little chink of ice against glass again. He had no clue how to fix this.

So preoccupied with his own dark thoughts and woes, West didn’t even notice the hush that settled briefly over the bar. Nor did he realize that someone had slid onto the stool beside him. He took no note of her until she leaned close, perfectly manicured nail dragging up his forearm as she  purred, “If it isn’t Westel Sorrelon.”

West sat up, back rigid and muscles tense. His grip on the glass turned his knuckles white. He made no move to look at her or even properly acknowledge the woman’s presence, he simply stared straight ahead with a curtain of his tangled black hair between him and her.

Dessandra only found amusement in his silence. Her symphonic laughter filled Westel’s ears and simultaneously chilled his blood and warmed his heart. “I barely recognized you all…wild looking.” She lifted a delicate hand and snapped her fingers once for the bartender’s attention. “Two glasses of what he’s having.” Dess turned her attention back to Westel, finger still skating up and down his forearm. “Still haven’t discovered the use of a comb I see,” she reached up to tuck that curtain of dark hair back behind and Westel’s ear. “That’s quite all right. Everyone learns at their own pace, mmm?”

He still refused to look at her, but he could imagine perfectly the curl of her painted lips as she smirked at him. Still unaffected by his stony silence, Dess continued chatting. “I do like thew new ornamentation though.” The hand that had toyed with his hair moved on to his ear, flicking playfully at a hoop near the tip. “Tell me…it almost seems as if you haven’t cut this hectic hair of yours since…” She trailed off purposely, and this time Westel didn’t have to imagine her smirk as he turned to fix her with a cold stare.

“Since you betrayed me? Something like that.” He snarled in a low tone.

Dess simply rolled her eyes and lifted one of the glasses of bourbon. “So overdramatic. What is this talk of betrayal? The winds changed, you should know how that works my darling summer breeze.” Her fingers finally abandoned his arm, instead moving to trace the hard line of his jaw as he scowled at her.

“What are you doing here, Dess?” He snapped. This dive of a bar was the last place he expected her to come strutting through, decked out in her full Magistrix regalia at that. Glancing around, he noticed the way others stared and whispered. Dess never was one for just blending in places.

The Magistrix smiled her bewitching smile and took her time with the bourbon before answering. “I desired a good drink and even better company. And…look at this. I have both.” Dess glanced down to the glass in Westel’s hand and the second drink she’d taken the liberty of ordering for him. “I did not mean to interrupt your own drinking though, dear. Please do not let me distract you.” She quirked a finely sculpted brow in a way that said she knew exactly how distracting she was.

A drink sounded great, West decided and he polished off his first and started in on the second. Dess giggled into her own glass as she watched him. She had always found him so amusing, especially when he was making no effort to be.

“So what about you, Westel darling? What brings you to this lovely establishment tonight? Is there not a darling woman waiting eagerly for you to come home?”

Westel tensed again. “No. There is not.”

“No?” Dess tsked softly, almost sympathetically. “Holding out for someone…special, then?”

He ignored her question. “Don’t you have a husband eagerly waiting for you to come home, Dessandra?”

“Oh I am sure he is holding his post by the window, awaiting my return.” Dess smirked at him. “But you know how much I love to make a man wait.” She tipped her head back, draining what remained of her bourbon. Impulsively, Westel’s gaze dropped, following the curve of her neck, the slope of her gown’s neckline… “And you heard me,” her voice called Westel’s attention back to her lips instead, “I desired a good drink and better company.”

Westel used to dream up scenarios such as this, in which Dessandra would come waltzing into a bar or simply up to him in the streets. She would be as beautiful and captivating as ever and of course she would desire Westel’s company over her husband’s. Over Westel’s brother. But those were simple, foolish daydreams. Ones he had given up long long ago.

Yet here she was, smiling and giggling at him, with her fingers playing across his arm and her knee maddeningly brushing up against his leg every few seconds. It was too good to be true. There had to be some sort of catch here, but Westel was having a difficult time coming up with one.

Dess talked on and Westel listened, mesmerized by every word that fell from her lips. Her slender fingers continued to graze across his arm and eventually they wandered to tangle with his. She commented on his calluses, recalling how very much she enjoyed the roughness of his hands. West was having a hard time swallowing the many drinks she ordered him, with his heart lodged in his throat the way it was.

Soon, the bar was lost to the haze of alcohol, and there was nothing else but Dessandra. Dessandra’s hand on his thigh, his fingers toying with Dessandra’s dark crimson hair, Dessandra’s lips brushing his ear as she murmured words he needed her to repeat they were so unreal.

“Would you walk me upstairs?” She giggled, her breath hot against his cheek. “I fear I’ve…I’ve had much too much to drink. I might fall!”

Westel promptly stood, a little unsteady on his feet himself. He took Dess’ hand nonetheless as she plucked a room key from the barkeep’s. Though it was supposed to be Westel leading Dess, she walked ahead of the swaying ranger. She didn’t seem all that drunk to him, but then again Dess had always boasted a talent of maintaining perfect grace at all times. The pair of them were giggling when they stumbled to a halt in front of the door and Dess fiddled with the key. Once the room was open, she turned to Westel, hands pressed against his chest as she leaned close.

“Perhaps you should join me,” she suggested, voice barely above a whisper. “For old times’ sake?”

Ashelyen immediately leaped into his foggy mind and the protest was on his lips. However, Dess was quicker. A flawless, delicate hand slid up from his chest and curled around the back of Westel’s neck to pull him close as she kissed him. Thoughts of Ashelyen fled his mind. In fact, all thought and reasoning left him as Dessandra drew him into the room and closed the door behind them.

Fuck Sailing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 16, 2013 by westel

There is a saying, “Smooth seas do not make a skilled sailor” or something to that effect. Never in my life have I wanted to be a sailor. Yet, as a soldier I’ve been packed with other elves like sardines onto a battleship. Setting sail for Durotar.

Our first day at sea was easy enough; I only threw up once. That night, however, was when the seas ceased to be smooth. It is bad enough being below deck, with sweaty, smelly bodies pressed tightly together no matter where you go, but with the incessant rocking and rolling of the ship…I got perhaps a half hour of sleep before losing my battle with my stomach.

I was so preoccupied with puking up my lunch and dinner, I was not even able to appreciate having fresh air to breathe. I stayed like that for the whole night, hunched over the side of the ship panting and heaving and cursing the depths because I couldn’t find the energy to look to the heavens.

A crew member brought me some water come dawn and clapped me on the back. “You just have to get your sea legs,” he said, his own way of telling me it would get better I suppose. If I’d had my wits about me I would’ve said, “Fuck that. I like my land legs.”

I genuinely cannot wait until we land on that harbor and my feet find that red Durotar dirt. I might just kiss it, if I find a moment between killing and not getting killed.

 

 

Scars

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 2, 2013 by westel

For once, Westel was not pacing. For once, he remained seated in the too-small arm chair. For once, he did not fidget or grumble or swear. For once, he actually seemed calm. The doctor made note of this, wrinkly brow furrowed with consternation. In the five months that Dr. Duzzle had been seeing Westel, he’d had to almost constantly ask that the man sit, stop moving, please pay attention, for the love of the Titans just cooperate!

Naturally the Ranger-Captain’s sudden passivity was cause for concern. This relaxed state certainly was not natural; while Westel was not fidgeting his fingers maintained a light grip on the pineapple printed armchair, and though he was seated his posture was erect and his gaze overly attentive. West was making quite the effort to behave this session.

Duzzle thought it best to open with a simple question, something about the ranger’s family. He usually did not mind talking about his daughters or his wife. The doctor’s stubby green fingers flipped through his notes and he flashed Westel a quick, friendly smile. His few golden teeth winked in the small shaft of sunlight that broke through the office’s one, minuscule window. “How is your wife faring with the pregnancy?”

The corners of Westel’s lips quirked up, intending on an eventual smile.  A rare expression indeed, at least when in the doctor’s presence. “She’s restless, ‘course. But very excited now that we’re nearing the nine month mark. Still discussing names, though.”

Both the doctor’s bushy eyebrows lifted in surprise. That was much more than the monosyllabic response he had come to expect. Making note of his patient’s uncharacteristically descriptive response, he asked casually, “And what names are on the table?”

“Well, we have one girl name right now. Caryssia I believe. And then for boys Anistelon Araseid and Kieran Caloneth.” Westel leaned forward, chin resting in one hand. “Second girl name is up to me, but I am having a hell of a time thinking of anything. I don’t really name shit. Like I know people who will name their fucking toaster. And here I am struggling to name a kid.”

Dr. Duzzle had stopped listening at Kieran Caloneth. Westel had spoken of his brother by name maybe twice since his sessions began, and here he was just dropping the name oh-so-casually. Duzzle leaned forward across his note pad, suddenly doubting whether he had actually heard the ranger correctly. The man had an awful tendency to mumble. “Kieran Caloneth, you said?”

“Uh-huh.” Westel nodded slowly, nose wrinkled up as it was wont to do when he was thinking. “Ast likes the…uh…whaddyacallit? Alliteration. Anistelon Araseid and Kieran Caloneth.”

By the gods he did it again. He said it again! The doctor straightened up in his arm chair and started scribbling notes so feverishly, his tight scrawl was starting to slant up and down in waves of words.

“Everything okay, doc?” West was leaning further forward, trying to get a look at what the goblin was writing.

“No, no…things are good. Er…whose idea was it to name one of the children after your late brother?”

Westel’s nose scrunched up again. “Ast’s at first. But I wasn’t terribly into the idea, ’cause that’s my father’s name too and he’s unfortunately not dead yet.”  He made no effort to lessen the venom in his tone, but he eased up as he continued. “I came ’round to it though, brought it up again later and all.”

“So you made the decision?” Confirmed Duzzle.

“Joint decision. S’how marriage goes and all. But yeah I guess so.”

“Good…very good.” Duzzle was scribbling again, words scattered all over his notepad in no discernible order at this point. “And….this doesn’t bother you?”

At this question, the Ranger-Captain was quiet. He leaned back in his chair once more, fingers gripping the armrests. He crossed one leg over the other, then thought better of it and returned to sitting with his knees apart. “Y’know how I had another of those bloody nightmares recently?”

Dr. Duzzle’s bushy brow furrowed, but he nodded, recalling how Westel had reluctantly told him of the most recent nightmare he’d suffered, a nocturnal recollection of the day his brother died.

“Well I talked to my wife right after the nightmare. I’d accidentally woken her up and shit, so might as well talk, hm? So she’s asking me to tell her about it and all, and I do, blah blah. And then I said ‘I just want to get better’ or something.” He lifted one hand to scratch at the course, dark whiskers around his mouth. “And I still do. But after thinking on it, after thinking on other losses I’ve suffered, and after thinking on the losses my wife’s suffered, and other friends…You aren’t supposed to get better. Not completely. Yeah ‘time heals all wounds’ and all that bullshit, but you aren’t left as pristine and untouched as you were before the wound. You are left with a scar. And even after ten years that fucking scar might still hurt sometimes, it might still give you some trouble.  I mean you lost a bit of yourself, and you’re body’s always going to know that. ” He heaved a heavy sigh and turned his gaze onto the thin shaft of light struggling its way through that tiny window.

“What happened to Cal…the wound’s still not totally healed. It will heal. But it’s going to leave a hell of a scar. I’m going to think about him and feel like absolute shit sometimes. And I’ll feel guilty sometimes too, even though I know there was nothing I could’ve done. It’s just how it works. I think naming my kid after my older brother will help me a lot. And I’ll tell that kid that he’s named after a brave soldier of the Horde who lost his life fighting for his people. ”

Westel took a deep breath and returned his attention to the doctor. “So…no. No, it doesn’t bother me.”

Duzzle was silent a while as he scrambled to make note of his patient’s monologue. As he finished he looked at his watch and took a deep breath of his own. “Well…I that is all the time we have for today. But this was…good, this was very good Captain.”

Once Westel had departed for the evening, Dr. Duzzle sat down at his desk and began to compose a letter to the Farstrider Ranger’s board of reviews.

Serpentine Memories

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 6, 2013 by westel

For Kate

***

Tyren had this habit of walking around his house in the nude. Almost the moment he walked in the door, clothes started flying. Occasionally his hat or cloak my make it on a hook, but everything else wound up strewn across the floor while Tyren strutted on to the kitchen or his bedroom in nothing but a pair of shorts– if that.

After a few weeks, Westel got used to it. The first time the older elf’s pants dropped, however, West felt compelled to flee to his bedroom. It was not as if he could just ask Tyren to keep his clothes on. The man was letting him stay here, after all.

So, as seeing a man dart about the house in his birthday suit became the norm, West started to…kind of…you know…notice things. Westel knew very little about the cheerful, yet enigmatic Ranger who’d taken him in and a person’s body often spoke tales that would never normally leave their lips.

The scars on Tyren’s hands, for example, spoke of both swordplay and years of hand crafting with sharp tools. While other quirks stood out, the main storytellers were Tyren’s tattoos.

A few of the colorfully inked marks, West could figure out for himself. The phoenix taking flight across Tyren’s right-side ribs was obviously for house Firewing. Then there were the runic markings in red that swirled and twisted along the length older ranger’s right arm. West recognized a few of those symbols as marks for strength, endurance, and agility. He often wondered if they carried any magical properties.

The snake, however, was a mystery. Mottled black and green, the serpent started at Tyren’s elbow and wound its way almost lovingly up his arm and over his shoulder, from which it slithered down his chest where the head lay, just above his heart. There, the snake lay poised to strike, mouth open with fangs dripping of venom.

It was a curious tattoo, to say the least.

Westel found himself trying to think of any noble houses he knew whose sigil was a snake, but none came to mind. Tyren had never spoken of a fondness for them, either, though the day he saw one outside the front door he easily grabbed the reptile by its tail and tossed it into the neighbor’s garden. If West had paid any attention to literature in school he might have known what snakes and serpents meant, but he’d been too busy looking out the window at trees.

Like so many felines, Westel’s curiosity finally got the best of him. He was in Tyren’s kitchen, in the process of making a pie crust, when the Ranger Captain came home and started his routine disrobing. He was down to his shorts and socks when he wandered into the kitchen in hopes of swiping some of West’s laboriously prepared food. Tossing a casual greeting to his house guest, Tyren snatched up an apple slice, oblivious to the boy’s staring.

The words flew from Westel’s mouth before he could think to swallow them.

“What does your snake tattoo mean?”

Tyren paused. In reality, it was a mere second of time, but to West it felt like an hour as he watched Tyren’s merry feature harden. A grave line creasing the Captain’s brow and his smiling lips fell into a frown. Westel could see a thousand thoughts and memories swimming in Tyren’s bright blue eyes, though he voiced none of them. The older elf recovered quickly from the sudden strike of nostalgia, however, his warm smile jumpiing right back into place.

“I got it to remember a very old, very good friend. Tattoos are good for that sort of thing…” He trailed off, peering hungrily at Westel’s pie-in-the-making. “Remembrance. Immortalizing a love one or a memory in your skin. I’d like to think she would appreciate the gesture,” Tyren chuckled but it lacked it usual mirth, “but I imagine she’d think me ridiculous.”

More questions fought for the privilege of speech, but only a quiet statement won Westel over, “I see…well it’s very nice.”

“I am fond of it,” murmured Tyren in return as he plucked up another apple slide. “Save a bit of pie for me this time, eh kid?”

He winked and turned away, usual grin back in place. Giving Westel’s hair an affectionate ruffle, the ranger retreated to his room where he remained for the rest of the night.

A Party, Sisters, and Scandalous Kisses

Posted in Tyren & Euphrates with tags , , , , , on May 18, 2013 by westel

Another installment in the adventures of Tyren & Euphrates. Adapted from an RP log. Enjoy!

***

Lord Fallsinger’s annual Midsummer Gala was hailed, among many others, as the event of the year. And it was claimed, quite pompously, that anyone who was anyone would be in attendance.

Which was precisely why Tyren Firewing sauntered on past the long line of potential guests on his way to the front gate. The young man had donned his finest summer suit, though fine may have been a little generous. His tie was not tied quite right and the coat was two sizes too big and that hair; a terrible mess of dark disheveled curls were gathered into a haphazard ponytail with several rogue strands falling about his face. At least he was handsome.

Those waiting in line tossed the unkempt youth reproachful looks as he approached the gate keeper and loudly announced his name.

“There is no Firewing on the list, I’m afraid.” Said the keeper, not even bothering to consult his pages long checklist.

Tyren furrowed his brow, ears flickering at the sound of soft snickers behind him “You’re mistaken sir,” he insisted, “Tyren Firewing. Just check.”

The gate keeper decided to humor the boy and gave his list a cursory glance. “No Tyren Firewing.”

“My father and Lord Fallsinger have been friends for years! I come to this terrible ball every summer!” Tyren’s ears and face flushed a bright red, brought on by both fury and embarrassment. The snickers behind him grew louder.

“Not this year.” Swatting  a hand as if to shoo away a gnat, the gate keeper turned to those more worthy of his attentions and Tyren stalked off down the path in an outrage.

As the commotion by the front entrance went on, Euphrates Starling Rossi Quan’tico–as she liked to be introduced– had deviated from her sisters and the party entirely. Under the pretense of wanting to fix her stockings, she slipped quietly away to have herself a smoke break behind a great oak tree, just off the main pathway.

It was not entirely easy to hear the conversation over the sounds of the near by revelry, but Euphrates heard enough to spark her fickle interests. Dashing out her cigarette and lifting her dress hastily, she peeked out from behind the tree to get a look at the rabble rousing man. She lofted a fine brow as a vague spark of familiarity struck her. She remembered him, ever so distantly, from her schooling days. He was a silly thing, as she recalled, and that was plenty for her to want to engage him in tom foolery.

Promptly she followed parallel to him through the trees until she was able to cut him off down the path, appearing as if she was just arriving.

With his eyes so sullenly intent on his boots, Tyren never saw the woman until he had almost trampled right over her. Coming to a stumbling halt, he swiftly looked up at the handsome young woman’s face. Euphrates stumbled as well, though she’d seen him coming, and lifted a dainty hand to her cheek.

“Oh!” He threw on a charming smile and quickly straightened his posture. “I beg your pardon…” He trailed off, suddenly struggling with the familiarity of her features. Her name was just on the tip of his tongue.

“Are you tuckered out from the party already, sir?” She asked in a generally amiable tone.

“Oh…uh…” Tyren’s brow furrowed. It was awfully embarrassing to tell a woman he was not important enough to make the guest list. “Caused a bit of a scene, you see.”  The lie came easily to his lips and elicited a soft gasp from the girl’s. “And being the bigger man,” Tyren continued, “I decided to take my leave before things got too heated.”

“You didn’t!” A sly grin pulled at Euphrates’ carefully painted lips. “Not the fighting sort?” She tilted her head and gave Tyren a playful little wink.

Not one to let a girl think him a coward, Tyren put on a smug smile and casually smoothed out his too-big coat. “Oh I’ve been in my fair share. Just didn’t want to ruin the party for everyone else, you see.”

“How gentlemanly of you…” Euphrates paused meaningfully and squinted an eye. “…And terribly boring!” Shaking her head, she spared a contemptuous  glance over Tyren’s shoulder at the distant party. “Are you done for the night, then? I was just about to head in.”

Tyren sighed and sunk his hands deep into his pants pockets. “Oh I’d love to return…I just fear the hosts  would not look kindly on my rabble rousing.”

Giving him a once over, Euphrates hummed softly. “Oh, well that’s too bad, then. You look like someone I wouldn’t abhor dancing with.” She knit her brows, a line creasing her otherwise flawless skin, to further her disappointment. “And I had a plus-one I could have used for you.” She laughed softly and waved a hand as if realizing the ridiculousness of her idea. “But you seem like a good boy, so that’s fine I suppose.”

He quirked a brow, his boyish smile playing across his lips. “I do love to dance…”

“Oh. Is that all?” Euphrates prodded.

“Especially with a lovely young lady such as yourself.” Tyren edged a bit closer, smile lifting to a grin.

“As you should,” she replied with a laugh, head turned away from him in a ‘silly boy’ gesture. “Well I suppose I could bring you in with me. But I’d expect you to act like you are really my guest. Get me punch, food, dance with me…and generally act like you adore me.” She peered at him expectantly as she laid out her guidelines.

Ever the gentleman, Tyren straightened up and offered the girl his arm. “Tyren Firewing,” he named himself proudly, “I am happy to be your dashing date this evening.”

“Euphrates Rossi,” she offered in return with a grin that said she too was happy to have a date on her arm. Gently she patted his hand as they made their slow way back up the path. “You’ll make a nice little puppet for the evening,” she quipped.

Tyren chuckled good-naturedly. “You might find my strings hard to pull, sweetheart.” He warned with a playful wag of his finger. “So, are you having a good night thus far miss Euphrates?”

“It just got a bit better.” She nodded then added as an afterthought, “Also if my sisters approach you: you are my boyfriend.” Euphrates shot a sly glance his way as they passed by the line of patient guests-to-be. “Lest anyone find out that the Firewings are not on the invite list.”

The color fled Tyren’s face for a moment, only to return ten fold, his cheeks burning a bright red. She had heard. Silently, Tyren struggled to come up with a clever retort as Euphrates steered them to the gate attendant.

“Portia Rossi,” she said softly, her grandmother’s name. The man cleared her without question– the Rossi family was well-known, and Phrates had inherited their more defining features. However, one look at Tyren and the man shook his head. “Ah, he is my date.” She smiled and gently patted his hand. Before the attendant could question them further, Tyren propelled them forward.

“So…you heard that whole ordeal did you?” Tyren murmured quietly, ears still glowing pink.

“Mm?” She tore her attention away from surrounding party goers to look at him. “Oh…I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I just know you’re not on the list.” She stated simply with a shrug of her slender shoulders. “I’d like some wine.” A pat to his cheek and she turned, navigating the throngs of people to locate her sisters.

Though his concerns had not been soothed, Tyren obligingly went to flag down one of the circulating waiters. Meanwhile, Phrates had found her sisters, arm wrapped around a particularly tall, willowy blonde, head on her shoulder as she whispered something in her ear. Another sister, clearly the eldest, watched the first two share their secrets with a suspicious no-nonsense face.

“Euphrates, your stockings must have disappeared judging by the time it took you to “fix” them.” The sour-faced sister said in harsh, skeptical tones.

The younger sisters paid the older little mind as they giggled and looked back just as Tyren gallantly approached with two glasses of wine.

“Here you are, darling.” He smiled handsomely as he offered out the requested drink.

Phrates turned and gasped delightedly taking the drink in one hand, the fingers of her other curling under Tyren’s chin as she doted sweetly on him. “Oh he’s so thoughtful!” She looked back to her sisters, boastfully, “Isn’t he handsome?”

“He is a nice specimen.” The willowy sister agreed, stepping forward with her hand held out to Tyren. “I’m Jo.”

Quickly, Tyren switched his drink from his right to his left hand so he could clasp Jo’s courteously. “A pleasure, miss Jo. I’m Tyren…” He trailed off and clucked his tongue disappointedly as he peered between the three women. “Had I known I would be meeting you two I would have fetched more drinks. You will have to forgive me.”

The eldest sister was still silent, alternating her glare between Tyren and Phrates as if she was not sure who she was more upset by. Phrates pointed a slender finger to her dumbfounded sister, “This is Senjie. She doesn’t have the composition to handle a drink.” She laughed and Jo glanced off to the side with a mute smirk.

Senjie, as Phrates had called her, channeled her silent rage into twisting her poor gloves in her hands, then gave a stamp of her boot and promptly stormed off.

“Do leave some refreshments for the rest of us!” Euphrates called delightedly after her enraged sister. At that, Jo lifted her own glove to swat at Phrates. “You brat,” she said in half-hearted scolding. It seemed even she was amused by their older sister’s quiet tantrum.

As the sisters bantered and bickered, Tyren smiled genially. He knew all too well how terribly siblings, especially sisters, got along. “Oh don’t be too terrible to Senjie. I imagine she must have a hard time competing with you in many ways, Euphrates dear.” His arm slipped nicely around her waist and he raised his wine class to his smiling lips.

Laughing, Phrates snuggled up closer to her dashing date, turning her head to grin up at him and touch a finger to his cheek. Neutral Jo, however, shot Tyren a dirty look. Only sisters could speak ill of each other, apparently. “Well, Euphrates, I must go tend to her. I’d not like her to drown because of you.” She sighed and laid a kiss on her sister’s cheek. “We’ll tell mother you entered a dancing contest or something.”

When Jo was gone, Tyren tipped his head back to drain the contents of his glass. He dabbed a trickle of wine from his smiling lips with a handkerchief and turned his attention to Euphrates. “Good?” He asked her, hoping his performance had been convincing enough for her to keep their little secret.

“Very good. Just what was needed.” She turned and gave him a critical once over. “I remember getting detention because of you.” Phrates said abruptly, as the far-off memory finally came to her. “I’m still upset about it.” She claimed, though she looked anything but upset. Instead, Euphrates wore a lovely amused grin as she sipped her wine.

“Because of me?” Tyren frowned and tilted his head to one side. He recalled landing many a girl in detention for varying scandalous reasons, but this girl? “Euphrates…You!” The very same memory leaped suddenly into his mind, though from an entirely different perspective. “You got me detention!” Any indignation the accusation might’ve held was drowned by his laughter.

Phrates waved a dismissive hand before his face. “Yes. I did. But no one cares about you. The travesty is that I got in trouble. Goodness, learn your place Firewing.” Her laughter mingled with his, though it was a touch less boisterous.

His amusement giving way to sly curiosity, Tyren edged closer, arm snaked around Euphrates again. “Mm…will you teach me my place, Rossi?”

She gave another soft laughed and tapped his nose with the tip of her finger. “I’ve already gifted you once tonight– what do you have to offer? I’d ask you to beg, but I am feeling terribly greedy.”

“I can offer…” Tyren trailed off, coming up short. What could he offer? As he considered Phrates’ question, his eyes wandered, following the ebb and flow of the crowd. They fell almost immediately upon a familiar blonde woman as she was led by a tall, handsome youth to the very middle of the gathering where other couples danced. Though his insides writhed and his chest suddenly ached, Tyren looked back to the girl on his arm with a broad smile and a renewed fire in his eyes. “I can gift you the best dance you have ever had.”

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously but lifted her hand to him all the same as they both discarded their empty wine glasses. “Alright,” she conceded, “then I promise to show you your placed.” Laughter fluttered from her lips at the silliness of it all, but Phrates was finding she did not mind this version of the brat she’d met years ago.

The music shifted suddenly to a bright, fast-paced rhythm that quickly took hold of Tyren and sent his spirits soaring. This was his favorite sort of music; quick, loud, and freeing, it was something you could really dance to. Squeezing Phrates’ hand he dragged her to the very middle of the dance floor where he immediately took her into his arms. Tyren’s nimble feet moved easily about as he led his partner across the floor, half the moves he manipulated her into meant to dodge the other twirling couples. Phrates moved right along with him with little resistance, her lithe body simply becoming an extension of Tyren’s. She was spun, lifted, and dipped at various intervals and she took it all in stride.

When Tyren drew her close at one point, Phrates pressed herself against him, hands against the small of his back, as she fought to catch her breath. “You’re…strange…” It was a rare thing, a compliment from her.

Her words just drew more laughter from him and earned another dizzying spin across the dance floor. Even as he was enjoying Phrates, Tyren’s eyes scanned the blur of faces, trying to locate the girl he knew he’d seen moments before. It wass no use, however, not in this chaos. Tyren’s attention quickly shifted back to his partner. “And you are quite stunning,” he offered with a grin.

Phrates was not one to be easily flattered–it wasn’t as if she was hearing anything she didn’t already know– and she shrugged his words away, gripping him tighter in attempts to take the lead. She wanted to take this up a notch. As Tyren relinquished the lead out of sheer curiosity, Euphrates gently steered them back towards the very center of the crowd. As they continued their show, she let out shrieks of laughter and ecstatic gasps; there was nothing more wonderful and exciting than dancing with this man and everyone should be green with envy.

“Firewing!” Phrates gasped and beckoned him to dip her. “You are divine!” She cried, her voice near-shrill and calling the attention of all those surrounding them. Tyren was quick to obey, pausing in their movements to dip her dramatically towards the floor. He was well aware of this show they were putting on at this point and chanced to take it a step further. With a solid hold on Euphrates, he leaned down to briefly brush his lips over hers. Tilting his head, mouth at her ear now, he murmured, “I usually only hear that in bed.” Chuckling he tugged Phrates upright, prepared to end their show with a bow.

Euphrates had other things in mind, however. As Tyren lifted her back to her feet she grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and pulled him full into a kiss– completing their public spectacle with a bang. Many onlookers clapped and whistled, but they could not drown out the outraged whispers of the older party goers.

Tyren was completely out of breath when the kiss ended, and he had absolutely forgotten about the blonde his eyes had been chasing. This girl he’d happened across was far more fun, for the time being. However, as the crowd dispersed and their public display was over, Phrates was no longer quite so enthralled with her partner. “More wine.” She said, waving her errand boy off.

Tyren took it all in stride, snickering and shaking his head. “You are…something.” He winked and dipped into a small bow before weaving through the crowd to fetch Euphrates’ wine. Unable to grab a waiter, Tyren went straight to the bar where dozens of people were vying for the bartender’s attention. While he was distracted by an overly complicated drink order, Tyren slipped behind him and snatched a full bottle of red and two glasses. Before anyone could call him out on his thievery, he darted away to find Phrates lounging alone on a bench, watching the party.

“My savior,” she said by way of greeting when Tyren settled down beside her, though her eyes were fixed on a tall ginger haired man in the distance. “Are you always so obedient or is it just because of our arrangement?”

Carefully considering the question, Tyren poured both their glasses of wine and stowed the bottle away beneath the bench. “I am always happy to fetch a lovely woman some wine. A tipsy date  is a good date.” He answered finally, grinning at Phrates over the edge of his glass.

She took her glass from him, smiling in amusement. “Well, I picked the most entertaining peasant at the ball, I did.”

Tyren cut her a scathing look. “I am no peasant, thank you.”

“Ahh…thank you for the clarification,” Phrates said, not quite convinced as she looked the disheveled young man over. “What are you then?”

“The eldest son of Lord Magister Arsenius Firewing.” He said with a curt nod.

“So much that does you, mm?” Euphrates giggled and lifted her glass for a long drink of wine. “Does it give you good smokes at least?”

For a moment, Tyren continued on as if Phrates had not interjected. “Whose name I am sure was on that list. In fact, I imagine he is around here somewhere.” He furrowed his brow and allowed his gaze to briefly search for his father’s face. There was no sign of the man so Tyren looked back to the girl at his side. “I do have good smokes…care to step out of here for some?” Talk of his father had suddenly soured his mood and made bitter his taste for this gala. 

“Here is all the better.” She insisted with a wave of her hand. Someone was eager to attract more rude stares.

“Are you sure?” Tyren asked, even as he reached inside his jacket for the box of cigarettes and a lighter. “Might get us kicked out for real this time.”

“Oh c’mon. I don’t know what could be better. These parties are dreadful without some excitement– we might as well be the ones who are remembered.” Phrates looked at him quietly a few moments before narrowing her eyes and carelessly throwing her drink to the ground. Tyren was startled from his search for the smokes by the shattering of glass and looked up as Euphrates rose to her knees and prowled forward, towards him.

Briefly, Tyren wondered who it was Phrates was so desperate to piss off, but he was not given much time to consider it as the girl slipped a knee between his legs and pressed herself against him with all the intentions of making out then and there. Their lips could not have been together for more than three seconds before several older elves descended upon them to escort them out. Just as Phrates’ lips were wandering from Tyren’s chin, her arm was wrenched back and the moment was successfully ruined.

Tyren waved off a few other grabby hands as he sat up, insisting that he could see his, and his date’s, way out. “Come along, dear. Our elders forget what it was like to be a young couple.”

Phrates laughed as Tyren made to lead her off, one arm looped around his. She spared a glance over her shoulder at the watching elves and a devilish hand slipped down to cup Tyren between the legs in a classy gesture of good bye. Tyren jumped a bit, but kept his composure for the most part as he led his date away from the ball and all its judging onlookers.

“Smokes for celebrating,” Phrates whispered into his ear as they veered off the path, towards the woods.

As was his job for the night, Tyren obliged and pulled Euphrates around behind a tree, producing a box of cigarettes for her to choose from. “Ladies first.”

Euphrates plucked up three, placing just one between her lips and producing her own small lighter to light the end. “Nice moves out there on the dance floor.” Her cigarette bounced as she spoke, imprinting her sanguine-red lipstick over the tip.

Tyren nodded as he took his own cigarette between his lips. “You kept up well enough.”

She laughed. “I’m a trained dancer, I would hope so!” Phrates looked him over. “Did you know anyone at the party?”

He lifted his shoulders in a shrug, feigning nonchalance as best he could. “I believe I saw a few people with whom I am familiar.”

“And I doubt they would be surprised by your antics, hmm?”

Tyren looked at her, exaggeratedly wounded. “And what would give you that impression?”

“Your general willingness to do everything I wanted without flinching.” She grinned.

“Well…I suppose some of that wasn’t completely out of character for me.” He offered, dropping the facade in favor of mirroring that grin of hers.

Phrates eyed him curiously. “Why did you want to get into this place so bad? Free food?” A fine brow rose questioningly and she lifted a hand to cup Tyren’s chin and fix his gaze with hers.

Tyren smiled charmingly and tilted his head down, a kiss pressed to her hand. “To meet you, of course.”

She rolled her eyes as she realized he wouldn’t be budging any time soon. “Well I’m happy to lighten your little night.” As she looked away she found her cigarette suddenly plucked from her lips, with Tyren’s offered as replacement. Amused, she inhaled deeply, then bowed her head to exhale the smoke between them.

“What about you?” He asked, still wearing that bright boyish smile. “Were you trying to piss someone off back there?”

“Well my primary mark was made. My elder sister is easy, though.” Phrates moved forward, a cigarette-laden hand lifted to curl around his neck and rest on his shoulder. She lowered her voice so that, even at this proximity, Tyren had to lean closer to hear. “Everyone else was just a bonus.”

Tyren laid his free hand comfortably on her hip, leaning close to Phrates as a thin haze of smoke surrounded them. “I was here to see a woman,” he admitted softly. Such close quarters to a beautiful girl coaxed the truth from him.

Phrates grinned at once. “Which one? Did I see her? Did she see us?”

“A pretty blonde girl.” Tyren replied simply, not keen to start talking about another girl with Phrates leaning up against him just so. “And after the spectacle we made I am sure she saw us.” The thought brought a new smile to his lips. He hoped she’d been jealous.

“Then all is well in the world, mm? What’s the girl’s name? Trying to woo her?”

“Cersei. And…I have already wooed her once. But my recent lack of gold and well-known distaste for high society has driven her into the arms of another man.” His new found smile was gone as suddenly as it came. Tyren did not enjoy such dismal topics, but continued with the explanation anyways. “I had hoped my appearance at the gala would show her I was still  in good standing with the nobles and willing to…you know…do the parties and such like she likes.”

“Oooh!” Her free hand hovered in front of her mouth to cover impending laughter. “Poor thing! Ostracized!”

Tyren rolled his eyes. “My bloody father’s fault. Cutting me off. ‘Firewing family tradition’ he says.”

Phrates flicked her cigarette off to the side and looked back up at Tyren, still holding her amused smile. “That sounds terrible. I couldn’t imagine being poor and downtrodden.”

“No. I am sure you couldn’t.”

Euphrates traced his pouting lips with her fingertip, a smirk tugged at her red lips. “Terrible.” She whispered. “Well, here’s hoping you get the prude bitch.”

Tyren wasn’t listening anymore. He was tired of depressing talk. As Phrates’ finger lingered, he parted his lips in attempt to bite down gently on the digit. She made a fair distraction, this girl. Grinning, Euphrates tugged her finger away from Tyren’s teeth and lightly tapped his chin. “Now sir, I’ll be seeing you perhaps?”

He hid his disappointment well, throwing on that smile of his once more. “I would like that Miss Euphrates. I would like that very much.”

Phrates smiled in a manner that suggested she had predicted his response. Without another word she turned from him, leaving Tyren alone in the woods to watch her go.

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