The Crownlands

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by kick767 on Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:44 pm

IC: Meridea stopped walking, stretching her back out.

Another person cut across her path.

"Aelix. Hello. What brings you out here?"

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:37 pm

IC:

Aelix's gaze turned to Meridea as she walked out of her own tent, and while he wanted to grit his teeth at his interrupted voyage from Rhaenys' tent to Victorya's, he decided it would at least be courteous to say something to his cousin.

"Hello, Meridea. Just walking back to the tent."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by kick767 on Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:33 pm

IC: Meridea nodded, opened her mouth like she was going to say something, then shut it again.

After an instant of silence, she spoke.

"You love Victorya very much, don't you?"

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:04 am

IC:

"She is my sister and my right hand," Aelix said, immediately and almost fiercely. "I love her more than anything in this world, and I would purge anything from it to keep her safe. Of course I love her. What of it?"

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by kick767 on Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:28 am

IC: Meridea stepped back. "I was just curious."

"Curious what it was like to love someone that much."

She blinked. "Sorry if I'm being insensitive."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:38 am

IC:

That one threw Aelix Targaryen for a loop; not only had he never truly known his distant cousin to be truly curious about anything, he found it especially odd that she were to suddenly question the meaning and the particular feeling associated with loving someone. Had the Statue begun to erode and crack at the heels, losing the base she stood on and slowly slipping down to the level of a normal man? Somehow, the young host rather doubted it.

"No, err...it's alright," he assured her, trying not to sound too off-guard. "No offense taken."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by kick767 on Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:28 am

IC: Something in Meridea's posture seemed to relax.

"Is it true you put her in command of the armies?"

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:05 am

IC:

"As true as the wind in your hair and the clash of steel on a battlefield," he waxed coyly, eyes trained firmly on Meridea and searching her. "She commands my host. I go up the Dun Fort."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by kick767 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:16 am

IC: Meridea nodded. "Good decision. The others can't be trusted whatsoever."

She closed her eyes. "Is there anything you need me for?"

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:24 am

IC:

Was that an offer in Meridea's mind, or a simple question? Aelix decided to answer it like it was neither.

"Is there anything that you think you'd be able to do?"

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by kick767 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:15 pm

IC: "I'm a fairly good fighter and I have the distinction of having no reason whatsoever to betrayyou. I'll help wherever you want."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by The Snarkily Glorious on Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:33 pm

IC:

The interior of the tent was quiet for several long minutes, the silence almost deafening. Nothing moved, nothing spoke. And were it not for the still figure perched within, one would almost have thought that the dwelling was completely empty.

But there was a tension in the air, a tension that broke when the figure suddenly stood, grabbing her blade from the trunk, and belting it at her waist. Without a word, she pushed out of the tent, and made for the sparring grounds. She could see Aelix in the distance, talking with Meridea, but his back was to her. He would not notice her departure. Her footsteps were silent on the ground, her face a perfectly composed mask of stoicism.

The training grounds were familiar, though she had never set foot in them before. All of them were the same, no matter where they were. The sound of steel on steel always filled the air, the sounds of combat. It mattered not whether they were on the Dragonstone or in Aegon's landing, they were all the same. She did not bother speaking aloud; her presence was immediately noted, and some fighters stopped to watch her approach. She stepped into a portion of the makeshift arena, and simply waited.

She did not wait long.

Another stepped into the same space, a delighted smile etched across his face. He wore lighter gear than most, a fact quickly explained by the rapier he drew from his side. Both parties gave a slight bow, a formal acknowledgement of their opponent, and Victorya drew her steel. This is a game I can play. This is a dance I know.

Her foe made the first move. Stepping forward, he gave a swift horizontal slash towards her torso, a slash quickly stopped by the arrival of her own blade in its path. Her foe fluidly withdrew his blade, moving seamlessly into an overhand slash, aimed to strike from above his slightly shorter opponent. Victorya swiftly parried, knocking his blade to the side, and launching into an underhand slash that would strike from the groin up.

Far more nimbly than expected, he side-stepped, the blade passing through the air he previously occupied, missing him by less than an inch. And still, the grin had not faded.

Why do you falter, Victorya?

His sword came again, as did her own, the two colliding with a ring of metal. The other combatants had ceased their own bouts, gathering around the dueling warriors, eager to watch the fight. From the perspective of the newly knighted, their movements were like liquid lightning, flowing without pause from one tactic to another, from one move to the next. But the experienced could see what they could not; Victorya's movements were not as clean as they normally were, not as balanced. There was no real strategy, no forward-thinking.

This is your arena. This is the game you have chosen to play, the way you have chosen to live. So why do you falter? Are you angry?

A slash, and a parry, followed by an immediate riposte, and a hard block.

Are you sad?

A slash, the tip passing centimeters from skin as it was side-stepped.

Do you feel insufficient? Do you feel unworthy?

A jab, deflected, and a step taken back. Suddenly, she could feel the eyes upon her, feel them shake their heads, even though she could not see them.

Do you feel as though you never live up to the standard? Do you feel as if you can never step out from the shadow cast above you, can never escape the fetters society has done its best to give you?

He pressed the advantage, launching into a series of strikes, his sword flashing through the air, reflecting red in the dying light. At each turn, he was denied. But she was slowing down, the powerful offense pushing her back again, and again.

No. You falter not because of one of these things, not because of any such suspicion. You falter because you're afraid. Afraid that they're all right, afraid of the game you were born into, afraid that you will never be self-sufficient. Afraid that you will never be respected, afraid that you truly are as lowly as they all claim.

For an instant, there was an opening in her guard, and the rapier jabbed forward, a swift thrust aimed for her heart. This was no controlled move. There was no restraint. This was a move with the full force of an enemy's killing intent, a stroke meant to end the duel. Permanently.

Her sword barely intercepted it, the loud scrape of metal on metal as the jab slid to the side, running the length of her own blade. The rapier met skin, slicing through as if it were paper, and something warm and wet trickled down her arm.

You fear for your own identity, that you cannot break free from the mold they've cast you in. Everything about you is nondescript, plain, from your armor to your very sword. Your sword should be an embodiment of yourself, and yet, you wield a blade little better than the common soldier.

A vicious light danced in her opponent's eyes, a loud groan went up from the crowd, though some merely smirked. This was what they had waited for all along; the day that the great Victorya was proven to be just what they always thought her to be.

That fear means that they're winning. By giving in to it, you allow them their victory. You resign yourself to the archetype they cast you into.

There was blood in the air. Victorya had retreated several paces, and she was rapidly running out of room. Her foe had the upper hand, and he was not about to relinquish it. Victory was imminent.

Then, something changed. Her heels dug in, and when next he slashed, she was ready. His attack slid up the length of her sword, locking hilts when they met. Her foe's grin wavered, turning from satisfaction to surprise.

And then Victorya twisted her blade, yanking her foe's rapier from his hand, disarming him. In a single move, she gave a horizontal slash at her opponent's head, a killing blow.

And there was a ringing of metal on metal, and her foe collapsed to the ground. But there was no blood. At the last instant, her blade had turned, the flat colliding with his helm. The armor was dented, its owner unconscious or near it, but he was alive.

Reaching down, she tore the white cloak embroidered with red crabs from his armor, stabbing her own blade into the ground as she tied it around her arm to soak up the bleeding.

In the deafening silence that followed, she merely regarded her opponent, before looking at the crowd that had assembled. She could see hate, distaste, surprise... But in a few eyes, she could see respect. Not many, but it was there, mingled among the others. It shown in the eyes of some newly knighted lads, and in a few select veterans.

"Tell your master," She said to the downed knight. "That I believe the first round goes to me."

Pray to the gods that it is an indicator of things to come.

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:54 am

IC:

"What, pray, is the meaning of this? Sweet sister? Good men-at-arms? Anyone?"

With Meridea at his back, Aelix Targaryen's slender frame cut an ominous shape out of the evening's opaque, inky black, and his snow white hair marked him like a star come to earth by the entrance of the training grounds. Everyone stood, most out of respect and acknowledgement, but a few stragglers rose to defend their wounded pride, which had been bruised for serving the targets Aelix had marked in the command tent earlier, or were targets themselves. When the shuffling of feet and the murmurs had started to die the commander's keen ears focused on one sound in particular: steel leaving its home. He had a feeling he knew who had drawn.

"Preston," he greeted idly, as the stout Crackclaw Point lord stepped forward, broadsword in hand already. The man stood and stared, met the eyes of the two Targaryen girls standing alongside each other several yards behind him, and then spat. Saliva hit Aelix's feet in a globule.

"Your sister must do a hell of a trick with her cunt, for you to defend her so, Lord Dragon," he snarled, his hands gripping his sword so tightly and nobly that Aelix would have been convinced, if it were not for the soft, squishy pop of sweaty palms against leather. The Targaryen merely sighed, long and low and sad.

"Ohhh, Preston. It's almost too pretty a night to kill you," he clucked, tone full of regret even as protests - on Aelix's part and on the part of the Crownlands noble - and murmurs clung to the breeze with white knuckles. "I find this despicable, truly. I do."

"Save me the pity, Lord Dragon."

"How about I save you your life, instead. I'll give you two swords. Any two."

He chose a man of the House Blount and a Celtigar swordsman known to accompany Lord Crispian on all varieties of hunts, and they stood in a trident shape, Aelix at the greatest point with no armor and a longsword still to his back, three of the Crownlands' greatest swords ready to flank him and tear him to ribbons at a moment's notice. Boggs had refused to bend the knee, and after several days of torment Victorya was slowly being driven to the point of even further perceived weakness in the eyes of the lords. Their opinion of her, however unfounded, would carry to the rest of the Targaryens like rats carry a plague off a merchant's ship; it fell to Aelix, once again, to not forfeit his turn at the game but to twist it to look like the lords had moved against their lieges, that the oaths they had sworn to dear Aunt Visenya were annulled and rendered void by the tactically sound actions of her nephew. That was fine, as well. Aelix, after all, didn't actually mind if the fat man died. It was all a matter of making them look like they were making a move.

They moved slower than he'd hoped.

Before his sword was even drawn he had ducked under the sweeping crescent of the Blount's blade, putting his head to the level of about the man's ribs before coming to full height behind him and grabbing the man's right hand and the point of his sword in tandem, wrenching both down agonizingly slow to throat level. Blood of the dragon leaked from Aelix's right hand as the blade dug into his defenseless palm, and his teeth gritted out as his hands immobilized Ser Blount. They were at a standstill; Preston Boggs, as inane a cunt as he was, noticed it, and he and Celtigar moved to apprehend. It had to be now.

The dragon hissed, and sank its jaws into the neck of the hapless porcupine; when the screams had died and the dragon drew back, the quilly flesh of the vanquished noble was torn and ripped where the dragon had bit into it, and the beast's mouth was soaked in blood.

Blount's hands dropped, defeated, and Aelix reached out and grabbed the bloodsoaked target he'd made on Blount's neck; with a jerk of his hands and a brutal snap, the man's entire body dropped save his sword, which hung perilously in midair for the quarter second that Aelix needed to pluck it out of midair and flick it in his hand. Crispian Celtigar's relative was sweeping with his arm to strike, and Aelix's blade rent his sword arm from pit to palm, slicing it in half. Blood spilled out of the wound as his arm's flesh flapped uselessly and the limb fell useless to his side. He was so busy wailing that he didn't even notice - and probably didn't care - that Aelix's next strike had sliced him open and spilled his stuffing like a dagger through a pillow.

Now Preston Boggs stood against an angry dragon, more truly alone than ever.

"Nothing disgusts me more," he spat, Blount's blood flying from his mouth angrily as he attempted to purge it from his throat, "than an ugly, useless man, save only an ugly, useless man who doesn't know his place. You should have just bent the knee, you stupid son of a bitch."

Boggs, to no one's surprise, bent the knee; Aelix wasn't biting, and smacked the Crackclaw Point lord's temple with the blade as hard as he could to get him up and on his feet.

"To whom it may concern!" he roared over his shoulder at the lords and knights who watched with awestruck faces and rioting bladders as he advanced, armorless, fair skin tinted scarlet here and there with the blood of the usurpers, towards Preston Boggs. "We have a mission! A trust, in each other and in Aegon! Together, our families will come together into one giant host, and we will take ourselves Seven fucking Kingdoms!"

The roars of the conquest thirsty men weren't quite so loud as normal, drowned by Boggs' wailing when Aelix sliced into the ground in front of him, causing him to scoot back. The man had shit himself through his pants, and the Targaryen could smell it; the gods only knew where he was smearing it the way he drew back, trying to run away on the strength of his own fat ass.

"But never, through word or deed, betray us. Never raise a sword to your liege lord with an intent to kill, never forget your oaths, and you will rule your lands and more through our time, through our children's times, and through the times until the gods see fit to lay waste to our lines. But betray us...well, my lords, suffice it to say...never betray us."

Boggs was scooted against the wall, with nowhere further to hide, and the wailing reached a new, awful apex. Twenty four hours ago, he had ruled a sizable chunk of land, and his family was set for life. Now he blubbered like a child denied a breast.

"Fire and blood."

His sword sliced down, and the wailing stopped.

"Fire and blood," the men murmured. Aelix dropped Blount's sword and cracked his back. Now that the battle was over he had an opportunity to draw a canteen of water from his thigh and rinse his mouth out, gargling most of the blood away from his teeth and lips and spitting it out onto the ground. Before he had reached Victorya and Meridea, he stopped and turned. Most of the men had taken chances throughout the duel and afterwards to sneak out, but he knew those who remained would take this final message and spread it. By dawn, every man in the Targaryen host would know this new decree.

"Oh, and the next of you who speaks a word of my sister's cunt, I'll take my sword and tinker between your legs until you have a matching one of your own. Maybe then you can find out for yourself how magic they really are."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by kick767 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:32 am

IC: Meridea didn't even blink when Aelix tore into those unfortunate souls. She just stared, her nickname more applicable than ever.

After his final statement, she unfroze and cocked her head slightly to the side, looking at the Dragon with something approaching surprise.

"Remind me to never get on your bad side."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by The Snarkily Glorious on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:17 pm

IC:

Victorya stood still, sword drawn from the earth, but resting with its point against the ground. She'd drawn it the instant Aelix started to square off against his opponents, mere moments from leaping into the fray. But she needn't have bothered.

Aelix had it well in hand.

As she watched, she could feel the euphoria of battle fade away. It always did. The joy of combat, of being in a place where she could hold her own, and there was no one to contest that fact, the joy of an arena where nothing mattered.... It always went again, and far too quickly, rendering her once more Victorya Targaryen, Aelix's little sister. When the luster faded, it was just another reminder of the fleeting sense of power. The fleeting sense of standing. Of being important.

They don't need your help.

Silently, she nodded to him as he approached, acknowledging his actions and his presence. She didn't say anything, instead remaining quiet, and tightening the makeshift bandage on her arm.

It wasn't her place to say anything. Doing so would just damage his position.

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:07 am

IC:

Aelix ignored both of them; the bloodstained, fair dragon prince brushed past them with not a word or a ghost of the charisma, the politeness with the cold bite of steel, that he had displayed in front of them just a minute before. His steps carried them out of the training grounds without a word of welcome or one of dismissal. They clicked harshly against the ground as he advanced back to his tent, brushing his white hair out of his eyes with scarlet, nimble fingers.

After a moment's contemplation, Victorya wordlessly followed. It was hard to say if he even knew she had; her footsteps were so quiet, the silence in the air so complete, that he may have thought her left back at the sparring grounds. But nonetheless, she followed in his shadow, as she always did, towards the tent.

Regardless of whatever else he was, he was her brother. And he was clearly unsettled by something.

Aelix was at the table, fiddling with his cyvasse pieces, as always; his sword was cast onto the cot and a single, fair piece of cloth was cast to the ground and coated with blood, as though he had tried to wipe himself off, even though it looked like he hadn't managed to scourge a drop from the surface of his skin.

"It's not about you," he said hoarsely.


"Pardon?" The reply came, after a moment's thought.

"I didn't do it for you. Not this time."

"I don't expect that you did."

"If you'll permit me, your logic was as follows." Her intonation was crisp, clean, as it always was. Detached. "My own failure, and the lack of response to their attempts at forcing a failure, would reflect badly upon our family and give them very, very bad precedents to go by."

"Unless, of course, I am incorrect."

"Yes, actually, you are, and you have been this entire time," he snapped, his impatience finally cracking through his mummer's farce in one of his rare moments of true upset. As he turned he advanced towards her, not with the intent to strike but with the intent to impress upon her. "How do you think I got where I am? Why do you think Aegon trusts me to win his war for him? Some fancy moves with a sword? Tricks with a bow? Hundreds of men have those things, and they all come with a lot less of a price than I. A pretty face? Some moves in bed? Apart from probably Daemon Velaryon none of these men give a shit about how or who I fuck. You can be damn sure that it doesn't impress Aegon. I didn't ask for their respect. I didn't grovel for it. I scraped at it, my entire life. You want them to treat you like they treat me? Tough shit, Victorya, they won't. They're Westerosi cunts, the lot of them, and when they look at you they don't see a sword or a strategic mind, they see a woman. That's all they'll ever see until you fight for it, but you're not fighting the right way. You don't fight one on one, you don't kick a man's ass now and again to try and show these lords who's boss. You win by fighting with armies. Pissing away lives. That's how you show them."

He turned away again, a small moment of self-consciousness escaping him as he tried to dab away at Blount's blood on his lip, before he continued.

"He was going to kill you back there, or at least one of them was, and for that he had to die. If the Targaryens are going to establish a dynasty here that will last us through the end of time, people like that are going to have to be cast away. You think Preston Boggs wouldn't have sliced me from collar to cock if I'd been in his place, and he in mine? You think Aegon wouldn't have? Of course they would have. Because that's what being a leader is. Doing shitty things with the lives of other people, a little bit for their sake but mostly for yours. That's the game, sweet sister. That's how you play, and you can pick up the pieces at any time and toy around with them on fancy tables but until you can start toying with the lives themselves, then you won't win their love. That's why you have command, Victorya. Because you're a leader, and what's more is you're my sister, and if something happens and I can't trust you to be a leader, then we might as well fucking sail back to Dragonstone right now, because otherwise we're going to shed a lot of blood for a little of nothing."

The tent's fabric crackled beneath the wind. All was silent outside, and Aelix put a hand on Victorya's cheek, cupping it softly; the caked feel of blood was still on his fingers but the tender embrace was the same as always.

"I didn't do it because I love you. I did it because I need you. Can you understand that, or should I go home now?"

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by The Snarkily Glorious on Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:07 am

IC:

The younger Targayen's head was cocked, studying her brother from behind a mask of stoicism. Her eyes were almost cold, but in truth they were just... Empty. Devoid of any real light, any real emotion.

"I'm well aware of what he was going to do, and I'm well aware of what they would have done if he failed."

"And, you can count on me to take care of things while you attack Duskendale. Beyond that..." A slight pause, and a flicker of emotion in her eyes. "We'll see if I come out of this one intact."

After a moment, she turned, shielding any expression on her face from view. "And there is one thing to remember."

"I can never prove anything with an army, when I have no army to lead."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:16 am

IC:

"You can never prove anything with an army if you can't even conquer yourself, sweet sister," Aelix corrected her as he walked back towards the cot and put his sword against the table. "Remember that. In the short term it'll save your life. In the long term...well...you're a smart girl."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by The Snarkily Glorious on Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:22 am

IC:

Victorya froze in her gait, anger flickering across her face, the first real emotion in several minutes.

"Before you criticize others, dear brother, perhaps you should take a look at your own psychology."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:26 am

IC:

"Yes, well, would that I could, sweet sister, but unfortunately that wouldn't do me or the war effort much good in the long run. I am, however, in need of a spot of humor, so I would value and appreciate your countercritique as I always do."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by The Snarkily Glorious on Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:09 am

IC:

"..."

"Nevermind. It wouldn't be worth it."

Without another word, she slipped her sword and its scabbard off of her waist, dropping them into the chest near her side of the tent. All of her extraneous apparel went with it, save a single knife that remained in a sheath at her side. She dropped onto cot near the corner before she spoke again.

"You'd treat it like something humorous."

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:02 am

IC:

"It is something humorous," Aelix replied quickly and quietly with a smirk as Victorya sat down. The storm was over, and slowly the argument abated; the tent grew quiet for a few minutes before he rolled his eyes, muttered a couple curses, and slipped like a shadow over to his sister's cot and put his arms around her stomach while she lay down.

"I'm sorry," he sighed genuinely, even though he wasn't quite able to pinpoint who or what he was sorry for.

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by The Snarkily Glorious on Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:12 pm

IC:

"Rarely can I decide if you're genuinely apologizing, or if you're merely smoothing out the next move in the game you play." The response was bitter, and if the tone was any different, it might even have been insulting. In the dull, quiet monotone, however, it lacked any more edge than a tourney sword.

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by Tyler Durden on Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:52 pm

IC:

If that's how you feel, sweet sister.

Aelix's embrace turned cold around her, as though his veins pumped ice through the arms wrapped around his sister. They slipped from her sides like peeved serpents and he rolled off the cot and onto his feet with the grace of a dancer. His steps carried him off to the door, and he said not a word as he moved to depart.

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Re: The Crownlands

Post by The Snarkily Glorious on Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:02 am

IC:

Which was why one would have thought that Aelix would have heard movement. The creak of the cot, the sound of feet on the ground, maybe even a quiet intake of air. But there was no warning when, silently, almost wraith-like, two arms slipped under his own and wrapped around his torso, both an embrace, and a method of restraining his departure.

"That was cruel, and uncalled for. I am sorry."

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Re: The Crownlands

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