Realm of Kaeleer => Ile de Paon => Thure Island => Topic started by: Isidore Nazaire on August 03, 2019, 01:27:35 AM

Title: On Second Thought
Post by: Isidore Nazaire on August 03, 2019, 01:27:35 AM
Fingers twitching the lid shut Isidore sighed at the padded giftbox before he tucked it back into his pocket. Half the morning had been wasted doing the same. Then bits and pieces of the afternoon as he made his holiday rounds. Box stared at pensively before he snapped it shut. Over and over again. He was not usually an indecisive man, which made his hesitation all the more frustrating. Was it more foolish to give the gift or to pretend it didn’t exist? After the risk of sharing a Jewel shard, and the expensive of having the necklace crafted he couldn’t justify not giving her the present. Hell it was Winsol for Darkness’ sake. He had to give his wife something. Yet. Still. But. There was a nagging voice- one that sounded very much like his mother- in the back of his head. Ready every time he was determined to pull Salome aside. Eager to convince him that it was a trifling trinket likely to get them into trouble rather than enchant or enamor her.

Maybe it would. Maybe she would hate it, or find some way to turn it into an insult. She was so damned good at being bitter.

The promise to come to Winsol at their home had not been abandoned, however. And all the gifts had been dolled out. Marks for the slaves and two days free from work. More personal gifts for the long time servants. A kitchen full of flowers for the housekeeper. The Jewel Web for Tariq and his woman. A fine weaving frame for his mother’s new hobby. Dresses for Tait. Rare silks and a hand carved desk for Eulalie. There was only Salome left. Only Salome, and he had nothing except the necklace to give. Unless he toured her through the warehouse to pick as she chose. Nothing there was as personal as this, though, and Isidore suspected that was the root of his dilemma. He had never given anything quite so personal to anyone.

Long body taking the shape of the doorway out to the terrace he watched the merrymaking in the parlor. Laughter in the center where a long table delighted family and friends with sweets and wine. Dinnerware cleared away when the meal was done. Dessert served in the form of pastries and candies that were easy to steal away to dark corners with. That was where his brother hid, turned into a human shield by his woman’s blossoming pregnancy. Hovering at her arm and making talk with the servants rather than the guests. Isidore didn’t mind, or care really, except to shoot smirking envy at their subtle joy each time Tariq’s hand found the roundness that marked the growing child at her center.

Weaving his Sapphire through the small collection of bodies he found the one he sought. A gentle probe leading her attention to where he stood across the room. He thought she was trying to avoid her mother, who was looking disgustingly bossomly with his own. With a curl of his finger he beckoned her to join him out on the wide balcony of the second floor. No one else had made their way outside yet. The sunset had thrown a harsh glare over the water, but it was fading now. And Isidore’s Sapphire more than enough to throw up a gauzy shield to keep it from blinding them. ”Enjoying the holiday?” He asked, offering her his arm at the doorway. His clothes were new, pressed and airy for the warmth of a humid evening. A striking silver and red that matched the traditional holiday decorations. ”I’m glad you decided to come.”

Weighing his words he stopped them at a chaise that was tucked against the balcony railing. Before they had even sat down a witch swept out with a tray of drinks. A small table to hold  them materializing from some corner of the space. She didn’t say a word or stay beyond Isidore’s one worded thanks. Offering one of the chilled wine tumblers to Salome he fondled the box in his pocket with the other hand. ”I had a gift made for you, a while ago. Before you… made your Offering.” He started, fingers tracing the leather bound box as he did. Eyes on his knees he tried to keep from pursing his lips or wrinkling his brow while he explained. ”At the time it seemed like a good idea. I want to give it to you now, if you’ll have it. I can take you down to the warehouse after, you can have anything you like out of there too, since this isn’t really-”

Much. But it was. It was just a necklace. In a dark green box with gold embellishment and satin lining. A locket, the size of a large coin, delicately on a fine golden chain. Slipping it from his pocket to her hand he brushed his thumb across his nose. Turning to sip slowly from one of the drinks rather than watch her open the gift. There was no space to set a picture. On opening the locket became a compass that glowed white around the dark letters that marked the cardinal directions. A tiny fleck of Ebon-gray sat on the hand of the compass. Which did not point north. Instead spinning to point judgmentally at Isidore as he avoided her eyes. ”The glow fades the farther away I get. I’m sorry, it seems silly now. You don’t even have to take it,” His Ebon-gray. Just a sliver, a speck, but enough to track him down. Maybe enough make him vulnerable. Rubbing the back of his head to keep from snatching it back out of her hands he nodded over the railing to the building next door. ”There’s plenty of silks in there. A fine Dhemalense carpet too. Or you can just order something from the jeweler or the tailor or whatever. Tell them to put it on my tab.”

Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Salomé Nazaire on August 03, 2019, 10:17:23 PM

There was nothing left of home, Salome realized slowly. It was like being inside a strangers house. Nothing had changed with her passing. That she had come and gone left no mark on the house or the people who lived in it. Everything was the same, but different. Alien, despite the familiarity. Much like her husband. Salome wasn't sure why it surprised her. It probably would not have if she thought about it rather than going blindly in.

A dozen or so people. Cozy. Friendly. Laughing and talking as if nothing had happened. Her mother smirking in triumph, believing what she wanted to see her daughter back in her husband's house. To be invited to Winsol. Salome smiled back, knowing her presence was by invitation as well and not by right as a resident or a wife. Felt the awkwardness at the dinner table where she had no place, not really. Not anymore.

It galled her. But she smiled through all of it. Was pleasant to everyone. Gave coy glances and secretive smiles when people questioned her about Winsol gifts. Ignored the talk of what each had been gifted. It was crass. And painful. In this she did not belong either. New dresses, new frames. Thoughtfulness and consideration. Salome sucked a hard candy and nodded along to a conversation she didn't know the topic of.

She'd left Isidore's gift beneath the winsol tree and now she waited to leave herself. Eyes watching for a break in the milling bodies. A lull or uproar that would allow her to leave through the front door without comment. It never came. Isidore's Sapphire teasing her farther into the house, even as he lead her outside. "Yes, thank you." Everything was lovely, Isidore included. Sliding her hand over his arm, Salome followed him onto the balcony.

"So am I." Lingering with him, she watched the witch bring drinks and a table to set them on. Appearing and vanishing with more consequence than Salome herself. Something was left in her wake at least. Something tangible. Sitting, she accepted the glass of frosty wine, sipping so that the cold did not hurt her teeth. Her dress predated their marriage, and she was unmoved by the dark spots the condensation on her glass left behind on the blue fabric.

"Did you? That was kind." Salome's eyes slid from his face to the water. Greens turned to purple as the darkening sunset stretched out over the water. Brilliant scarlets staining the sea foam. "Really what, Isidore?" It wasn't like him not to look at her. Or maybe it was, now. He'd expressed distaste for her appearance before. Too thin, he'd complained. So Salome had put her Green away unless she had to, and tried to eat more. But there was no real appetite behind her hunger.

Glass set aside, she took the jewelry box and opened it. Was this to be her Winsol gift? A forgotten necklace from before her Offering. When they'd still loved each other. Or at least pretended to. "Thank you." She told him softly, opening the lit to expose the locket inside. A wedding photo? Salome could not imagine what he might put into it. What she found was far from what she expected. The glow not from gemstones or memory crystals, but from some sort of craft.

Needle spinning on the dial until it found Isidore to point her to. Delicate sliver of Ebon-grey on its tip. Salome did not need to open her barriers to know what it was. Even so small a shard carried power. "Isidore." She breathed, closing the locket before anyone could see. Fearful of what it might mean. To her, to him, to anyone else. Hand unsteady, she closed the box again and cradled it close in her lap. "Are you trying to talk me into keeping it, or yourself into giving it?" No wonder he seemed hesitation, different.

"I don't need anything from the warehouse, or the others either." If she had to order her own Winsol goft, she would buy it with her own money as well. "Are you sure?" She asked him, eyes framing his face in sunset as she looked at him. Fingers tightening around the box. How could she where something so personal and dangerous? It was better kept in her cabinet to protect him.

Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Isidore Nazaire on August 05, 2019, 04:33:04 PM
A mien of disappointment permeated the air around Salome as she took his arm. Isidore looked hard against the fogged glass of her psyche for hints. Was she upset he had asked her over, or upset that there had been no gift yet? Both, he decided, since it was unlikely to be neither. There was no sincerity in her polite replies. No spark of naughty laughter left in the dark eyes that had tickled his spine not so very long ago. It tore him in two. Half wishing that walking away would make her whole again, and the other half wishing he could pick her up and shake her until the screaming turned back into laughter.

None of those things would work, he knew. Tempting as they might be. All he could do was keep on the path of slow healing. Mending the bridges between them board by board until there was enough to cross safely. Another risk the necklace prickled at. What if it was too much? The gift, the responsibility, the likely rejection? He could be ruining the small headway he had made in getting her here tonight. Settling on the settee he made the attempt anyway. Picking his words the same way he picked his raiders- by the least likely to stab him in the back if they were the wrong choice. They left something hanging in the air though. And Salome latched to the weight of it.

”Isn’t really the sort of gift I would give most people. If it’s really something you are even going to want.” He answered too quickly. Voice charged with an undercurrent of his mixed emotions. Strained by biting need for her to prove him wrong and love the gift. And crackling with the bitterness that he should have to want his own wife to want a reminder of him. He felt her small movements as she accepted the box. Glass to his lips he pretended to sip but held his breath instead. Reading her with the subtlest of probes instead of his eyes. There were too many possibilities in an expression. You could lie with your words and your face. It was impossible to lie  with an emotion.

There was a long silence as the hinge creaked open. Necklace exposed. She was overwhelmingly unimpressed. ”You’re welcome.” He answered reflexively. Eyes drawn towards the curls in her hair and the shadow they left on her cheekbone. Gaze carefully directed down to the locket. He watched her nimble fingers flick the piece open. Probes gripped hard he followed the reaction he felt up to her face. There was no discrepancy between the surprise his eyes and probes both read. It felt like someone sucked all the air out of his lungs. A thousand moments forced into a few swift seconds. Surprise was not acceptance, gratitude, or rejection. It was just a state of being while you caught your bearing. Which Isidore wanted very much to do, but could not. Not until he knew what she thought.

”Yes.” He admitted to the double edged sword of a question. Licking his lips with a suddenly dry tongue he pulled his attention back down to his hands. They had latched together, fingers woven tight until his knuckles went pale. A rock of power that rested in the space made by his parted knees. ”When it was made you were living at home. You were hurting. I wanted to show you that my love wasn’t lessened by the change in our dynamics. I wanted you to have something I wouldn’t trust anyone else in the world to have.”

She didn’t say no to the necklace. Just to the offer to shower her in more gifts, or gifts more suited to ease and luxury. He didn’t know if it was more troubling or less. It was definitely more confusing. Back straightening he pressed his fingertips to the knots in his stomach. The fabric of his shirt clinging in their wake. Face tipping towards her he nodded at the next question too. ”You were at home before, so I knew you were safe even when I was gone. Having it was such a small risk to you then. That isn’t true anymore- and I’m afraid to put a target on you. But… it’s a piece of me. In a very literal sense. It would hurt me for you not to want it.” Even if the wanting was out of greed. Or to have some part of him to hold for blackmail. Those were games that Eulalie had honed him to participate in. They promised a future between them even if it wasn’t the one he had pictured.

”You, the jeweler, and I are the only people that know. If you do want to keep it then a masking shield would keep the Jewel shard hidden.” That would keep her safe when she went back to her beach house. And give him more reason to visit. Reforming the shield every few weeks to keep it strong. ”I’ll come around between craft lesson to freshen it up. You can syphone some of your Green into it too. It’s good practice for learning to be precise with it.” It would keep her from starving to death too.
Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Salomé Nazaire on August 05, 2019, 08:23:18 PM

Ome nodded. Curls swaying, brushing ear, and cheek, and shoulder. One was caught, twisted in the beaded hoop her wore in her ear. A strange sort of gift then. But what? It made her nervous, tongue tracing the edges of her teeth so she didn't mar her lipstick. Something in the tone of his hasty answer. The answer itself. Another slave to spy on her? No. This gift was from before their parting.

Before Winsol. What peculiar thing had he chosen?

The box he presented beautiful, but like many others. Jewelry, by the shape and make. Salome was very sure Isidore had gifted plenty of women with jewelry. Not that then, surely. Thanking him, she hesitated in the opening of it. Dreading what she might find inside. Too small to be a petition for dissolution of their marriage. What? What? What?

Only one way to find out. The dark nail that hid her snake tooth painted a deeper red than the others. All of them glossy and dangerous against the fine green box. Gold swirls giving way to a gold locket on a delicate chain. It appeared almost too thin to hold the coined sized treasure. Jewelry, but not. Not when she opened it. Not a locket but a compass. Isidore and his Ebon-grey its focus.

A tiny piece to guide her to him. Ome felt the breath freeze in her lungs. Fear, foremost after surprise. What danger did this put him in? Eyes slipping closed, Salome acknowledged his answer. Of course both. He didn't look at her, as he explained. Eyes on his hands instead. A white-knuckled fist between his knees holding his attention. The chain ran between her fingers, fed by her thumb rolling against her finger. "But now you don't trust me. Not like before."

She didn't blame him for it. She couldn't when she'd left. Not for the lack of trust. Driving her away she still help him responsible for. The surge of emotion that made her want to stroke his face and comfort him thrust back by the knowledge that he had done this to him. Hammered wedge after wedge into their marriage and then punished her when she'd tried to reclaim some dignity and power.

But did his nod mean he was sure? Sure he wanted her to have it?

"Would the risk not have been greater? Favored wives are likely to carry keepsakes." What was she now? Salome wasn't even sure she'd ever been a favorite. Just first. Chosen for him like fish at the market by his cousin when he'd already secured his own dinner. None of it kept her fingers from curling around the compass. Nor drove her to use what he so easily gave to hurt him. A simple no thank you would see him paid back for all the heart ache he'd inflicted on her. All the rejection.

"I wouldn't let him live." Salome said without meeting his eye. Thumb circling the closed front of the compass. Secrets were best unshared. The thought was an ugly one, but true. Ome couldn't imagine letting anyone have such hold on her. To possess such a personal secret. Or such a personal item. Shoulders back, she looked at him. Her husband. Making plans to weave shields between craft lessons. So far they'd only had the one, Ome had claimed too full of a schedule to part take of the other.

"Can't I just keep it vanished?" Would people still be able to send it in her cabinet? Could she, even, vanish a piece of his Jewel? What would it feel like? She remembered trying to give her Green away to him in her despair. Sometimes she wished he had kept it and spared her its possession. "What would that do? Feeding it my Green?" And why? Did it have no power of its own? She threaded her fingers through the chain.

Why did it have to exist? This danger to her husband. This danger to her. A gift. A gift for a hurting wife. Salome sighed, eyes turning toward the house and wishing everyone and everything inside would burn up in fire. "Here." Passing him the necklace, Ome turned, fingers sweeping her curls up off her neck so that he could see to clasp it. "Help me put it on." She asked him.

Let the rest wonder.

Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Isidore Nazaire on August 07, 2019, 02:03:15 AM
Shoulders sagging under her words Isidore regretfully agreed. ”Nothing is like it was before.” Nor, his tone implied, would it ever be again. Not for either of them. She had given up on loving him, and he had given up on making her happy. Both would have to tread barefoot over the shards of their broken trust in one another to meet in the middle. He knew that, and held the knowledge close to his heart. A shield to keep him from underestimating the sharpness of Salome’s vengeance or the depth of her disappointment. ”That’s alright though. We don’t have to go back, we can always go forward.”

Find new paths. New places. New ways of being. That was part of being a raider, an adventurer, and a businessman too. None of which Isidore did poorly. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope for them yet. Or none at all. Despite his guard being high and his expectations low he let little compass become the pendulum that might swing in either direction. A stepping stone or an impossible hurdle. The anxiety of waiting to find out leaving a hard stone at the bottom of his stomach.

”I disagree.” He told her with an edge of worry tainted by veiled glee. It was good to have an excuse to subtly hint at how dangerous living alone- away from his sphere of protection- really was. There was no passing up the opportunity. ”You’re the real prize, Salome. If someone wanted to manipulate me, they wouldn’t be looking for keepsakes. They would take you. Which was an impossibility while you lived on Thure. With that no longer the case- well.” Who could say? Did she safeguard her house? Lock her damn doors at night? Tariq had walked right up and found her in the hammock for Darkness’ sake.

She had shrewd sense, though. Mind honing in on the weakest link in the chain. Recommending its severance before it could make them more vulnerable. ”Under normal circumstances, I would agree. If he were an islander, he would be dead already. I couldn’t trust anyone here, though. And killing a mainlander famous for both his work with Dark Jewels and discretion, would raise more questions and pose more risk. He can’t tell anyone anything relevant about me. He’s better than dead, he’s unreachable while still being available if I need such work in future.” If he went around killing the small pool of people he could depend on to do such sensitive work then there would be none left when he needed.

Not that he ever planned to take so much as another chip off his Ebon-Gray. There had been thirteen shards splintered from the face when it was set in his necklace. Twelve speckled the sides of his Sapphire ring. The last stowed away in his cabinet to keep from unbalancing his jewelry. Until it found its purpose in a gift.

”If you prefer.” Some of the wind filling his sails died away. But the seedling hope in his chest dug its tender roots in deeper. Keep it vanished. Keep it. She was not trying to give it back. Just trying to hide it away. Would she take it out when she was lonely to see if he was near or far? Or would it stay there, purposefully forgotten? Looking up from the dance of her fingers across the delicate gold he met her eyes with a measure of surprise. ”It would make the masking shield last longer. Would use up a nice bit of that Green too. It’s less a strain while it’s building back up. Takes less from us. That’s why they recommend draining them during moontimes.” Just the word made his skin prickle. How did she lock her doors then? When she was weakest and most vulnerable?

Tongue tracing his lip he looked away again. Hoping the frazzle of dark energy such thoughts put in his veins went unnoticed. Salome was as likely to turn the attentiveness against him as she was to revel in its being hers. He didn’t know anymore what to anticipate in their dealings. Only that each meeting felt like being put on trial. He was guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. But she had known that before they were married. It wasn’t fair to condemn his nature and station. Things he hadn’t changed from one month to the next, and couldn’t change now just to have her back.

Which she angled towards him. Isidore too stunned to find the box pressed back into his hand for the words to make sense right away. Mind reeling a mile high before he could blink back to reality. Lungs screaming for air and wild relief washing up his spine. It made his hands tingle with a strange numbness. Sliding closer he breathed across her shoulders. Fingertips brushing her neck as he pinned a few loose curls up out of the way. Careful as he laid the chain straight on her collarbones before he swept it back to clasp at the very base of her neck. Stroking the spot with his thumb he hummed, ”Next lesson, I’ll teach you how to tap into it. In case of an emergency.” A one shot shield that could protect her for either a long time, or through a very strong attack. Useful either way. The shard would take longer to replenish afterward, but he doubted she would be using it very often anyway.

Even if she took it out every time she was lonely. Rumor held that Isidore was not the only ‘scholar’ giving his wife lessons.

”Beautiful as ever. You look as lovely with it on as I imagined.” He told her softly. It was only a half lie. He had imagined her with much less clothes on. And by much less he meant none. The necklace, though, sat precisely where he had planned. Even with her beating heart. ”You could come upstairs. See for yourself.” Into their room. Unchanged since her leaving. Even the long discarded paint tiles sat patiently awaiting her return. Salvaged from the trash bin, but never touched again. Not since he had told her about Tait. Another small disappointment in his life that he couldn’t speak about. It was a good thing he had a few good alternatives to feelings his feelings. ”There are cigarettes up there.” He tempted, smile roguish as he peered towards the house but didn’t find the man he was looking for. ”Like the one my brother gave you.”
Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Salomé Nazaire on August 07, 2019, 04:35:01 AM

He was very determined. Salome glanced at him through the shade of her hair. "We can." It stirred the savage beast of her ego. He had made it plain that he wanted her back, differences be damned. She just hadn't decided if it was because he wanted her, or the restoration of his house and reputation. But the answer was not one her ego needed to be stirred.

Just one her heart needed to be whole. Nothing would ever be as it was, but she had agreed to let him try. Forward.

Salome's chin rose in response to his challenge. Her lips tightened but she did not argue with him right away, giving Isidore a chance to voice his reasons. "Then my having changes nothing for me and only puts you more at risk." It was not a target on her back. Just an added layer of danger to Isidore. It made Salome unsure in the keeping of it. But she did not want to give it up.

The necklace was very much a physical representation of her relationship with her husband. Over both she felt equally torn. "And you were hardly always home to see me safe. What difference is Rosnay to Thure when you are on neither?" And she had just as freely on each. Taking herself where she had pleased while he was away. To weave webs. To shop. To visit her mother and snub the girls she had once pretended friendship with. 

Licking her teeth, Salome pressed her thumb into the corner of the box in concern. That Isidore would trust a mainlander above and islander was shocking. But the competition between men was fierce. Especially for the title of Raider Captain to the Mother Priestess. Isidore himself had killed for the honor. "You should be able to trust the people." She said because it was expected. It was what she should say. Salome believed it, too, while knowing better.

She still did not like the idea of this man at Isidore's back. But there was little she could do to defend it for him.

"It would be safest there." It couldn't be forced from her cabinet. Hidden there it could not be used against Isidore. To track him. Salome flicked the lid open, the glow limning her hair for a brief moment. Pupils quick to dilate against the light, Ome drew it closed again and spent a moment blind. Isidore filling her sight when the dazzle retreated. "You'd have to come less, if I did that." But she liked the idea of emptying her Green so that it would lay quiet at her breast.

Both looked away at the mention of moontimes. The first after her Green had nearly killed her, Salome was certain. The agony had been tenfold. Devastatingly different from every monthly she'd experienced with her Summer-sky. All of her preparedness, she'd had her mother as an example after all, and not prepared her enough. The pain made her want to return home, where Isi would drain her Jewels and make sure she was taken care of. But stubbornness had won out. The pain of her heart more tenacious than the pain of her body.

A gift was not something you returned. And giving up Isidore meant doing more than sharing him. Salome would be left with no part at all. So she handed over the box so that he might affix the necklace where it belonged. Skin prickling at his nearness. Gooseflesh racing down her neck and across her shoulders as his breath drifted across her bare skin. Salome's stomach clenched tight in anticipation. Small touches stirring memories and banked desire.

"Okay." Ome breathed the word out past a tight jaw. Tingles creeping outward from where his thumb stroked her. Too distracted to be afraid of the idea. That would come later, when faced with actually using the power of his Ebon-grey. For now she had to focus on controlling her body. Turning back toward him on the chaise. Beauty praised now that she had accepted his gift. "Tcht." She scoffed teasingly. Smile, for once, without a trace of bitterness.

Of this she had to be wary. The temptation. And Isidore was very much temptation. Salome was afraid that if she went upstairs she would not come back down. She would stay and nothing would ever change. There would be no forward, only back, and all the momentum she had gathered for herself would be lost. "I've cigarettes in my cabinet if I want one. And a mirror." A little polished silver circle.

Upstairs was the bedroom they had shared. And the marriage bed he had defiled. Baiting her with the pleasures that awaited him in other beds. The memory helped still the flutters his smile set loose in her stomach. Eyes narrowing, she followed his glance to no one. "Ah. He must have run straight to big brother, squawking away." That one could not be trusted with an ounce. Jin-ae had showed up not long after.

Another of Isidore's conquests sent to spy on the one that had fled his thumb. "No thank you. Its a long boat ride back to Rosnay, and I have an early morning." Not wholly true. There was no demand on her time in the morning, but Salome needed away. Leaning forward, Ome pressed a kiss to his cheek, inhaling his scent and savoring the texture of his skin beneath her lips. "Thank you for the gift. I love it, truly." She did. Hands sliding over his, Salome clung even as she pulled away.

"I just worry the danger it posses you, out there in the world." She would just have to trust him to protect himself as he had been all these years. "I'll see you for the shield, then, in a few days?" That would give her time to recover from being in this house. To build up her walls against her desire of him. To quiet the little voices that begged her to give in to him, promising pleasure beyond measure. Pleasure was easy to get. Love and respect were harder.

Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Isidore Nazaire on August 17, 2019, 08:41:40 PM
Mouth twitching between a frown and a grin Isidore gave her concern a gentle, dismissive click of the tongue. Then shrugged the weight of the dilemma off both shoulders at once. All it had taken was Salome’s mouth laying out the point to settled the whole thing in his chest. ”Yes. I admit that I have been churning that same truth around in my head all night. The fact is, I do a lot of dangerous things based on obligation and orders. Why not this one risk- just because it makes someone I care about happy? Just because your having it makes me happy?”

People said often and unremorsefully that he had everything he wanted, that he only did what he wanted. But that wasn’t the truth. His life was a patchwork of cartwheels and bending over backwards to half please all that commanded him while only earning their scorn for falling short of the mark they expected. No matter how much he might drag his feet, pout, lament, start a damned rebellion even… when they called he always came. When they took aim, he was always the first arrow.

Which brought him around to her next point. ”Thure is mine in a way Rosnay will never be. The soil here has tasted my blood. You were safe in my house because you were closest to the people that need me most. People that would protect you in my stead. If for no reason other than that they couldn’t afford to have me in mourning.” Servants, slaves, and even Eulalie. All those that both benefited and suffered his turns of mood. There was a time when he might have been bothered that their loyalty was based on his strength, or money, or reputation. Now he was coming to realize that it was better placed there, in things that were less fickle than the human heart. Love was just unreliable. It couldn’t go hand in hand with loyalty.

”I can serve them without trusting them, and that is all anyone cares about. I was raised to be violence incarnat. People don’t trust me. They admire or fear or compete against me. Trust is a bridge and I’m not a carpenter. ” He told her simply. A slow blink punctuating his belief that the fact should be of no consequence. It was, but not to Salome or anyone other than Isidore. So it was easier to pretend that it was no matter at all. Unless he was screaming about it at Eulalie. The one person he had always hoped would understand. And probably the person that understood the least.

Still. He didn’t sigh or whine. He only leaned in to roll his shoulders at her argument that the safest place for the gift was her cabinet. It was. He couldn’t challenge that argument. Or make her wear it when she did not want to. Pouring his energy into explaining how touching it with her Green would benefit both the jewelry and its master. She seemed interested in that. He wondered if his coming less often played a part. Or if she was trying to quietly ask if that would be less reason for him to visit. ”No I wouldn’t have to come any less if you did that.” He sidestepped, eyes watchful and probes attentive as he tried to guess her mind now that reading it outright was harder.

Not as difficult, however, as thinking of her alone and defenseless. Just the world moontime set them both on a strange sort of edge. Turning from one another like schoolchildren. His hand spread open in his lap. Wishing he could have the answers to the worries he harbored in his heart. But Salome only gave him back the box. Agony striking like a serpent at his chest before it retreated behind the relief of understanding. He took his time setting the necklace just so. Then took his time admiring it in its rightful place. Her breathless made the muscles in his stomach fold in with hunger. Was it the tease of his touch or the drop of power he promised her that did it?

He didn’t waste time figuring it out. Plunging head on he tried compliments and temptation. Testing the waters of their shifting relationship the same way he did the sea. Direct and to the point. Her refusal followed suit. Direct and to the point. No. She had the things he offered. Smaller, less potent and luxurious. But she had gotten them for herself. ”I see.” Smiling down the bitter taste, Isidore turned back to his drink for a moment of composure. Not jealous, never that when the faces of who he should be jealous over were unknown. It was remorse. The only sort that he knew how to feel. Guilt that she had needed to seek those things out without his help. Dejection that she was content not to fall to his minor bribery.

”Tariq is too lazy for squawking.” Isidore laughed, glad for the excuse to gloss over her rebuff. ”He isn’t passed begging cannabis from big brother when he’s given all his away, though. Or trying to lecture me about marriage. Not that he seems in a much sturdier boat.” A slave girl that he had sold everything but his soul to ‘save’. He could have boxed the idiots ears. Why was asking for help or just telling someone what you needed such an impossible thing in Paon? His lips thinned because he knew the answer. It was a weakness. And the island was full of shark with sharp teeth that were ready to bite at any vulnerability.

”And if it were just a short jump on the Wind what would you spend those hours doing instead?” He asked conversationally. The question being half on his lips the only thing that kept them from turning them in towards her kiss. Taking it on the cheek instead he met her hands with his own greedy ones. Holding her there just a little longer while she looked as if all she wanted to do was escape. ”I’m glad.” He was. Even if that joy was marred by the circumstances. It could have been a perfect gift, instead of just the nail in a bridge he had to rebuild.

Tilting his head at her he shook his head in a flash of teeth. ”I’ll manage.” The Ebon-gray had always been both his darkest curse and brightest boon. And Salome knew nothing of the danger he lived his life by. He couldn’t even tell her about his greatest threats, or else they would threaten her too. So they were the secrets that burned his bridges instead. Forcing him to work twice as hard. ”I could take you back, if you wanted. No one here is going to notice I’m gone.” Rochelle, maybe, since she always seemed to know where he was. ”I’d rather, really, a few more minutes with you.” It was Winsol after all and she had almost cared about him once.

Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Salomé Nazaire on August 18, 2019, 06:55:46 AM

Tongue at her teeth, Salome argued with herself as much as with Isidore. Of course he'd thought of the danger to himself. Before, or after, he'd thought of the danger to her? Was she worth more, or less? The gift was touching. Astounding, really. But still tinged with the same doubt that infected all her thoughts and emotions regarding her husband. "Because it is a very big risk." Salome did not know what danger a Jewel chip posed in the hands of an enemy.

But she couldn't stomach the idea of someone else laying hands on Isidore's Ebon-grey any more than she could her own Green. She knew she would probably never touch the physical shard itself. The thought was equal parts horrifying and tempting. Shaking her head in pity, Salome made a soft sound of protest against his logic. "That seems a very cold existence." Protected for protection. Used without care. But hadn't she been contemplating a similar future for herself? Putting away girlhood notions of love for a marriage of power because she would never be enough.

Hidden behind strong walls she couldn't be hollowed out by Isidore's straying heart. "I'm surprised anyone still tries to compete with you." His Offering should have secured his place. Only Eulalie was darker. Amusement over the foolishness of others was easier to manage than her own feelings about the mess she'd walked into with blind hope. Pity her mother hadn't been able to slap sense into her, much as she tried.

Eyes cast downward, Ome looked at him. Her own cheek obscuring his chin. Lashes shadowing his face. Did she want him to come less? He'd hardly started coming at all. One less didn't make a pattern. Two visits since she'd left, if you didn't count him dropping his watch dog on her doorstep. Jin-ae, who had access to the funds he'd denied Salome. She wished her mother had slapped her harder. "No. I suppose you wouldn't have to."

But did she want him to? It was easier to deny the desire she still harbored for him when he was gone. Easier to forget what she'd walked away from when not confronted by it. Easier to let go of the pain of never being enough for anyone when you lived in a house built for one. But that house now held two. And Isidore's touch made her want to crumple. His care made her want to forget. It would never be just them, but that didn't mean they didn't have to exist together at all.

She just had to accept defeat. Second place, at the very best. Salome was ashamed of her herself, for caring so much where she stood with Isidore when he seemed to care so little about who she held closest to her heart. Ome snorted. "Is he even married?" She wouldn't let him close again, to neither accept nor offer favors. Everyone seemed to be turning into a spy for Isidore. But he was very good at making people feel useful while using them to satisfy himself. Quick to cut when you didn't make the mark.

But she held tight to him. And Isidore held tighter back. Hands linked like shackles between their bodies. Tempting questions on Isidore's lips while Ome pressed her own to his cheek. The dip in her stomach becoming a well. "I don't know, Isidore." If it were a quick jump on the Winds it would be his doing. Which meant he'd accompany her home. Which seemed to be his intention. The danger to his person brushed away with smirk so he could dive into tempting her again. The knuckles beneath her fingers a promise that he didn't intend to let go.

Warlord Princes were like that. Horrible, conflicting beasts that hurt you while holding you tight. "I bet they would." Ome hedged, cheek on his shoulder. It would be as simple as inviting him inside. But would it? There were eyes in her house now. "I'm afraid my house is already past max capacity, unless you'd like your slave girl back. I'm sure she's very useful to you." Certainly Jin-ae's eyes had kept other men away. Or maybe Isidore would just expect to have them both since they were already in the same space.

"Besides, you haven't found you Winsol gift yet." She teased as she extracted herself from his clutches. Standing, Salome smoothed the invisible creases in her dress and wished the world far, far away. And everyone in it.

Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Isidore Nazaire on August 19, 2019, 12:26:35 AM
One thumb circling the smooth nail of the other he looked Salome in the eye. ”I wouldn’t know the difference. It’s the only existence I’ve ever had.” Cold did not feel an apt description to Isidore. Lonesome to a degree that he couldn’t even describe. Always left with this insatiable craving for connection that was rarely and only ever briefly sated. And exhausting from a lifetime of living on the edge. Until he was uncomfortable in his home and in his skin when things were too quiet. Boredom a nagging and persistent foe. He didn’t know anymore if it was the nature of his caste or the culmination of their culture.

”They try because every once in a while they win. It isn’t so much about ‘beating’ me as it is feeling equal to me.” In a fight they had no chance. Isidore could lay waste to dozens of their finest warriors. What his wife failed to see was the social competition he faced at every turn- the real blood sport of Paon. Where the strikes and blows needed no weapons. It amused him that Salome would say such a thing when her bed had been a ‘win’ for at least one man on one occasion. He would not be bragging of filling spaces denied Isidore again, however. For a while Isidore had expected Salome to come raging over the man’s disappearance. Did she have so many lovers now that the absence of one went unnoticed? She was not the only one that others used feel elevated, though. Mother Priestess was always happy to grant attention and favor to others simply to punish him.

A change of subject kept the mood from unraveling around the subject. Salome’s agreement very tentative as he denied that feeding the locket’s shield should be a factor in timing his visits. There was more going on in her mind as she sat there. He could see it in the tip of her chin and the far away look in her eye. Isidore was keen to know. To see for himself what questions she was mulling over. What it would take to give her consolation or peace or maybe even happiness. But he worried about what he would find. So he let the moment pass.

”He says their hearts are married. She’s an island born slave, though, so I’m not even sure they can be legally wed.” It sounded callous out loud. He had the proximity and position and money to make such a thing happen. If not at the very least to know what it would take to make it happen. But Tariq had assured him that help wouldn’t help. Ease would cheapen the act somehow. Isidore couldn’t pretend to understand, so he just stood ready. They could keep him out of their relationship if that's what they wanted. The baby, however, would be a different matter. No niece or nephew of his would suffer a moment of instability. ”I admire his drive to support them on his own merit, but it’s maddening to know they struggle when I have plenty to give.”

He had plenty to give to Salome too. Temptation, affection, and excuses to draw out their time together. The kiss must have been intended to distract him from the rejection because she did not entertain his implied offer to bring her home. Question left with no answer. Or perhaps the answer was not one she could tell him without stirring his temper. How could he know if an early morning was a lie to excuse herself off to a late night in the arms of someone else? It made him cling all the more. An ugly beast in his heart roaring to follow her back to see what there was to see. He had burned houses for less justifiable reasons.

”Eventually, when the food ran out and the servants went to bed.” He countered smoothly; a tip of his head in the direction of the doorway proving his point. Beyond the sounds of milling guests could be heard. ”They haven’t even noticed we’ve left the party yet.” Brushing his chin over her curls he breathed in her scent since she lingered against him so nicely. How long had it been since he had felt her flush to his chest? Their hearts beating the same frantic rhythm, or just drumming along leisurely while idling away a sunset. Would he feel it now if he held his breath and pulled her just a bit closer? Isidore didn’t try to find out. Not this time when it might open a maw of self pity he would fall into. Lips thinning at her further refusal he frowned at her remarks on Jin-ae.  ”She would be useful to you given her half a chance. A proper lady deserves a maid. I gifted you one with a mind for administration and accounting on top of her housekeeping skills. If you find her lacking then Eulalie or Rochelle would certainly put her to good work.”

What a backfired scheme that had been! Worthy and worthwhile gift twisted into a slap in the face to the both of them. Sure, there was a bit of an ulterior motive. Jin-ae had access to his money, which gave Salome access while saving face after he had denied her direct funds. If his wife became ill, or injured then he wanted someone there to let him know she needed help she would be too stubborn to ask for. It shouldn’t have surprised him that Salome immediately suspected the girl was a prying spy. A fact he knew she wouldn’t have been half as concerned with if there wasn’t something going on. Isidore had not spoken to Jin-ae since dropping her off, and he had no intention of asking what went on when he wasn’t around.

”If it’s privacy you’re worried about, well, I have ways around that too.” He told her with a snap of his fingers that rendered a sight shield tight around his body. Letting it melt away he leaned in as she started to pull free. Hands clinging as she stood. Slumping back against the seat he sighed heavily. Turning a face filled with disappointment up at her. ”I don’t get Winsol gifts.” He said rather stupidly. Too busy pouting to put two and two together. It was true, though. Isidore was a gift giver. Not a gift receiver. When prompted he always asked for donations. There was a widowers funds at the temple, a clinic for the poor, and needy children in the islands’ schools. An actual gift, though? Isidore almost wondered if she was lying to distract him from her exist. It made his eyes narrow slightly. A curious probe darting out at knee height to rifle through the waning stack of gifts on the floor.

Finding nothing he slowed it’s progress and fanned out to look farther through the room. While his body pulled its slack tight so that he could stand in easy grace. Returning the soft press of lips to cheek he reached for her hand but let it drop into his pocket instead. They were saying goodnight. ”I’m sure I’ll be pleased. Thank you.” It felt heavy and formal on his lips even though he had already made up his mind to make his next visit soon. From his cabinet he popped a small satchel of coins. The weight of it in his hand familiar. The curves that pressed into his fingers bringing back the memory of their last parting. Money and webs and hard words to have launched at his heart. ”For the Jewel Web. There’s a bit extra too so you can tip your boat crew.” A few extra coins went a long way to the poor. Maybe tomorrow they could surround themselves with the people they loved since the holiday had been spent in work.

In the house his probe settled in the branches of the Winsol tree. Judging the size and weight of the box it found with Salome’s psychic touch on the wrapping paper. An odd place to put it, and he couldn’t help wondering if she had hoped he wouldn’t find it at all. ”If it’s all the same to you I’ll stay out here while you see yourself out. They’ll remember I’m here if I pass through again.” Then he would have to put on a face other than the one he wore now. And he wasn’t much in the mood for smiling.
Title: Re: On Second Thought
Post by: Salomé Nazaire on August 19, 2019, 04:25:32 AM

Butterness made Salome want to scoff. Married hearts. It sounded trite, but whispered to the part of her consumed by jealous possessiveness. Fear of deriding Isidore's brother to his face kept her lips closed on the sound. "I do not know either." She had rarely, if ever, troubled herself about those less fortunate than herself. Except when those people had been her siblings.

At least her brother had been spared. He did good work for the temple.

Glancing at him, one of Salome's eyebrows rose in a small peak. "Maybe it is his way of feeling equal, by not being beholden to you." A feeling she could understand and sympathize with. She wanted so much to be more than what she was. If her marriage could not be what she had hoped, Salome tried turning that energy into her other dreams. Sure that they were attainable once she mastered her Green. Even still, not a single one of her webs had proven wrong.

And still it felt good to lean into him. Hands clasped together and bodies resting against one another. It made rejecting him hard, but Salome had done plenty of hard things in her recent life. Fueling her denial with anger and disappointment. Reminders of all the reasons she had left and all the reasons she stayed gone. "Maybe they are just giving us privacy." Whatever the reason she was glad they had stayed away. No eyes to watch them. To weigh each interaction.

Salome already judged them enough. Annoying him with her annoyance over his slave. "None of those are things I needed help with. And now I share a single room house with a stranger." She complained right back at him. It was awkward to run the girl out of the house so her eyes would not see what Salome did not wish Isidore to see. Unsure she wanted to bed the sort of men who didn't care if the girl stood by watching. And Paris was too shy to even consider it.

"You have ways around everything." Salome accused, pulling away in surprise as he vanished. The sensation of clinging to someone she could not see was eerie. Isidore returned almost as quickly as he had vanished, and the world dipped. Steadying only so he could turn a miserable face up to her farewells. Good. He deserved to be miserable without her. She wanted him to be miserable without her.

"You were not married to me, all those other Winsols." She boasted softly, hand sweeping up his cheek as if she were trying to wipe away his petulant expression. It had been hard, buy a present for the man who could have whatever he wanted by whim. Nothing in the market had been remotely good enough. But Salome thought she had done well enough with this custom order. She'd certainly spent far too much to see it was ready in time for Winsol.

A keep blade. Its hilt made of Voulan glass. Hard and dark from the heart of the volcano. A blue and green spider to perch on the pommel. Fitting, Ome thought, for a man married to a black widow. "You're welcome." Hard not to pity his pathetic slump of a form, she was glad he stood to see her off. Tipping her cheek up to his lips, she accepted his thanks with a smile. "You're welcome."

This time she accepted the marks as well. She poured out a few for her pocket and vanished the rest so the whole thing wouldn't have to be pulled out on the boat. This web had been easier to weave, even if there was still not baby to hold as an anchor. "That's fine." Alone on Winsol night! No. Not alone. He had a house full of people and more women than most men dreamed of, Salome was sure. He was just trying to manipulate her into soothing his hurt feelings.

She held tighter to her own. "Good night, Isidore. Happy Winsol." Compass stiff between them as she hugged him farewell and departed. Toyed with but not opened during the boat ride home. She did crack its face under the shield of her sheets to see how diminished the glow was from Rosnay.