A Last Visit

Description: tag cole/river

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

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A Last Visit
« on: February 03, 2018, 02:36:18 AM »
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A sharp eyed maid had helped Wren put together her outfits for the trip. Each carefully planned out so that she wouldn’t have to waste time sorting through blouses and skirts to dress. She didn’t want to get caught with her pants around her ankles again. Not in such close quarters with River.

At least the actual journeying portion was brief. Only one night spent in a roadside inn. No one had bothered them. The Gray jeweled queen more than enough warning to keep trouble at bay. Her Ebon-Gray shadow, smirking boy that he might have been, sent even the good willed scurrying away. Some queens, Wren knew, might have minded. Might have reached out to ease the general public. She had other worries to fill her time. So they had taken their meal alone and been left in peace.

Relative peace, anyway. Wren was still uneasy with her new companion- escort she supposed was the proper term. There were no contracts to label them yet, but Willbe and River had decided their own places. Which was all the better for her. If she had to have bonded boys then at least they were friendly. Not squabbling over rank or position.

By the second day of traveling they were safely arrived in Mira. Another inn, this one more upscale since it was in the heart of the busy little city. A stone’s throw from the temple where her mother waited.

No. Where her mother was. Not waited. Barbra never anticipated anything beyond her next meal. This visit should have been unexpected, even though she had written ahead to let the priestesses know. In the seventeen years they had lived apart Wren’s mother had not once remembered a visit was planned.

At least this time her arrival in the humble temple garden was received with the sharp interest of recognition. For a shining moment Wren thought it a good sign. ”Little Bird. You’re here.” Barbra greeted without turning to face them. Wrinkled hands busily tending hibernating shrub. When she did turn the striking likeness between mother and daughter was made clear. The same blue eyes; Wren’s sharp but emotionless, Barbra’s slightly unfocused but cheerful.

”Mother.” Wren answered, leaning instinctively towards River. Barriers sealed but discomfort evident in the stiffness of her spine. Facing, for the very last time, that which she came from and hoped never to end up as.

The older queen had eyes only for the newcomer, though. ”Samuel you’ve gotten obnoxiously tall dear.” She shuffled forward, squinting up at River until her nose wrinkled. Wren looked up at him too. Who in Hell was Samuel?
@dergon

River Well

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: dergon

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2018, 05:25:59 AM »

Pleased as he was to have Wren to himself, River couldn't help but think Willbe might have helped eased the tension. Both general and more personal. People so rarely feared a healer prince, which River found a little odd, maybe his presence would have helped balance the scales. But it was just he and Wren, sitting across from each other meal after meal.

Making people flee.

And there was no one to curb his midnight pacing, or even witness it. Legs too long for the rooms. Shields so dark they were as thick as walls no matter how lightly he spun them. Securing Wren's room, which was not his room. Across the hallway which felt like an ocean. Too close. Too far away. Strange silences broken by his laughter.

It was different, traveling with Wren. Glad when they'd reached their destination. Curious to what had drawn them so far north. River had never actually been to Rodgau, despite threats to send him there for military training stalking his adolescence. Wren had been close lipped about it, however. And River hadn't pried, too aware uneasiness that lay just beneath the surface.

Fueled by his presence.

Shamelessly tall, River followed Wren to the temple gardens in his fancy suit. Lips ever smiling, his right shoulder just behind her left. He didn't need to walk before her to keep her safe. Or beside her to be content. Besides, he didn't know where they were going. Following doggishly at her heels. The double scent of queen tickling at his nose, drowning out the sweet scent of cold blooming flowers.

Head dipping as if he would see more from a lower altitude, River drew closer. Beside Wren, the back of his hand slipping into her palm as she drew closer too. Leaning into him, but not really touching him. River sent probes skittering along her barriers, but never took his eyes off the old Wren who turned to face them. The Wren-mother.

The other queen. A broken one, his probes told him, two or three branching away from Wren to tickle their way up her mother. Something shifted, settled, shook dust from its hackles. Keen focus, power slipping down and racing outward. Was this new? Did he need to kill? But neither seemed surprised. River leaned toward the older queen, stooping so she could see him better.

Smiling so she wouldn't be afraid, even though the beast in him itched to defend the broken queen. Vengeance. Payment.

"So sorry, lady," River giggled, glancing at Wren in amused confusion. Who was Samuel? Figuring it best to play along, he knelt in the path, dirtying one knee of his fine trousers, and leaning his arms on the other. "Is this better?" He wiggled tighter against Wren's barriers. Was this right? Was this good? Did he need to kill?

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2018, 02:43:38 PM »
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From the day she entered the coven Wren had sought ways to heal and stabilize her mother’s condition. Being severed from her jewels had done irreparable damage to Barbra’s innermost webs and chalice. Even her psyche wore the stain of some unspoken ruin. Or perhaps it was there, waiting to be read by another. Wren had never had the courage to dig beyond her mother’s first barrier.

There was no fixing, of course, what had been done. At best she had managed to end the violent swings of emotion Barbra suffered. Created shields against the darker thoughts that leaked into her semi-conscious and caused turmoil. Made the path between Present and The Twisted Kingdom easier for Barbra to navigate. Which in turn made visiting a duel edged sword.

Pleasant because most of the time she understood who Wren was. But painful. Always so painful. No answers for the thousand questions her daughter had. Only memories as shattered and pieced together as the chalice they brimmed over from.

How could she have explained such complex thoughts and emotions for River? Wren was afraid he might not understand- most couldn’t compromise her need to see Barbra with the dread it brought on. Other escorts had even tried to dissuade her from coming at all. None had been a match for her will, or jewels before. River, though, could stop her if he wanted. So she had not told him anything. Simply arrived and led the way. In hindsight it might have been wise to warn him of what they would meet. His snaking probes tense, Wren sensed, as he evaluated Barbra’s state.

She tapped him with a Sapphire thread. Wordless because she still wasn’t sure what to say. Just a spring of the boundless calm that always churned in the center of her. That bottomless well she could call on when needed.

Their eyes met over the silver strands of her mother’s hair. Wren didn’t smile outwardly but the same laughter from his lips dancing along the link she kept opened. Not ready yet to let him behind the barriers he lurked at. He would rush in, she suspected. Make himself at home and sprawl out again. There were too many private thoughts at the forefront of her mind for that. Memories and questions that would take time to bury again. In the silk lined pocket of her velour coat her hand gripped around a glass vial. She didn’t look at it because she didn’t have to. Knew the size, color, and contours of the Tiger-Eye shard inside by heart. Just a squeeze as she wondered if his name had been Samuel before she vanished it again. *I don’t know who she thinks you are.* She admitted.

”Mother,” Wren started to correct, but River had knelt. Some old flash of instinct fell on Barbra. She stood taller, straighter, chin tilted up proudly. She took her time, making a show of straightening the collar of River’s shirt. ”What a good boy.”

Instinct roared to life in Wren too. Suddenly it didn’t matter that the hands smoothing his lapel belong to her mother. That was her boyo. ”Mother, his name is River.” She said pointedly, her own hand settling on his bony shoulder. ”Who is Samuel? Was he in your court?”

*Had she ever even had a court? Was he one of them, the dead ones? Is he my father?* Only after she had filtered the rush of questions down the thread did she realize what she had done. Fingers gripping at his shoulder she sighed internally. Letting him come in had been a bad idea! She didn’t think he would have waited at the door, though. Apparently threads were one more thing she was terrible at, she supposed, offering a soft *sorry, slipped out* before severing the link.

River Well

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: dergon

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2018, 05:53:35 PM »

*Samuel, obviously.* River joked along the Sapphire, accepting the cool calm that radiated down the thread. Letting it bank the embers once more. There would be no killing just yet, Wren’s amusement told him. Though she was just as confused as himself. But that was alright. River could play Samuel if needed. He didn’t want her to fret.

So River took one knee, not thinking of how it might seem to the queen he did serve. Tipped his head back and hoped for some pets. Only his collar received fussing, however. Fingers with paper thin skin adjusting it around his neck. His cheeks folded at the praise. He was a good boy indeed! Until Wren clamped a hand on his shoulder and broke the spell. Ruining the playacting.

Head tilting, River rolled his eyes toward the hand on his shoulder. Lips working. Pursed and wiggling. He could kiss her fingers they were so close. Thought maybe she might not like that.

No sure what to do, pinned between two queens, River stayed still. Eyes shifting from one to the other. His forehead and wrinkled as his cheeks as he tried to sort out the stream of questions pouring down the Sapphire thread. He could only answer one of them. Not that Wren gave him half a chance, severing the link as soon as she realized what she had done. The cut to abrupt, River swayed with it.

”Er,” he said into the space between the two. Apparently he had been meant to close the link she had opened. And probably before she had spilled all those thought down it. The gravel really did bite the knees. Giggling, River shrugged. And waited. ”I don’t mind.” He told them both. Being Samuel for a bit. Kneeling.

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2018, 10:16:47 PM »
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*Sassy* She shot back. The seasons had changed but Wren had not. Not enough to be comfortable in the new directions her life was taking. Spine too stiff and demeanor to cool for such spontaneity to be taken in stride. Surprised or startled by every action the two cousins now bonded to her service made. Or were they bonded to her person? She didn’t know if River would leave should she never settle in a Court. What he wanted, or expected. They had not discussed such personal things yet. Hadn’t figured out her own in order to deal with someone elses. Every action and reaction she had to Willbe and River as much a surprise to her as they continued to be.

Point being, though, that she noticed River’s qualities both good and less so. But his kindness to her mother came as a surprise nonetheless. Perhaps it shouldn’t have. He had been friendly to her from the start. Impatient, restlessly protective and filled with wants she was afraid to explore, but always kind. Thoughtful and gentle in his own odd ways. Her strange boyo, unlike anyone she had know before. Soiling his trousers to take a knee in the dirt for the pleasure of a broken old queen. Unless, her eyes swept his crouched figure, it was only because this broken queen happened to be her mother... or even to please Wren herself?

His warm breath brushed her lowest knuckles; its humidity lingering on her skin. As if every bit of her was incapable of accepting any bit of him. Mother, despite the rambling of previous years, seemed far less rigid. And he was being so kind. Releasing his shoulder she patted the crown of his head stiffly. Hand at a strange angle because she was afraid to muss his hair or accidentally touch his face. No telling what either might do. Warlord princes had easily stirred passions. This was not the right time or place for that. Not that Wren thought about River’s passions!

It did sound like an interesting book title, though. River’s Passion.

Barbra’s fragile shoulders shrugged, eyes still narrowed at the pair. ”Same difference, different sameness, Little Bird.” She chirped happily. Wren didn’t know what that was supposed to answer. Tucking her chin down she patted River’s head again. Such soft hair. The hand settled back at his shoulder. Feather soft probes reaching out for River’s barriers. Her own cracking open just enough to share her confusion and worry. Poking at him to see if he told the truth. If he really didn’t mind. Brushing away thoughts of book titles to the far reaches of her private layers. ”It’s alright, River, you can stand up. We should all get in out of the cold.”

Wren’s spine straightened as her hand withdrew. Reaching out instead for her mother’s hand. They struggled for a moment. Wren to keep her grip, Barbra to pull away. Heat crawled up Wren’s neck. As frustrating as ever. Come to see a dying mother that looked as healthy and stubborn as ever. ”I like it out here. All the plants are tucked into bed. Waiting for the snow.”

With a sigh Wren relented. She knew the call of growing things. If Barbra’s time to enjoy them was ending then let her have each moment. She wove a warming spell around them all. ”Then come sit on this bench and tell me how you’ve been feeling, momma.” It was time, she decided, to pry a little. Part her mother’s fragile barriers and dig up the answers she needed. Her intentions seeped freely towards her escort. She would need him to guard the delicate chalice at her mother’s center while she worked.

River Well

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: dergon

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2018, 05:13:09 AM »

River tried very hard to be still. He really did. Tensing all his muscles, clenching even his jaw. But there was no stopping it. Eyes drifting shut and shiver running down his spine as he leaned toward the strange petting. A soft whoof of air leaving his lips during the pleased wiggling, his fingers dancing at his sides. More, more, more.

Just one though. One quick pet. River knew some would sneer and call it a pat, but he saw no difference. Eyes cracking open so he could follow the conversation. Wren-mother saw no difference either. The corners of River’s eyes grew tight, collapsing on themselves. It almost made sense, what she said. The words teasing him. But there was another pet, one that pressed his hair flat and then sprung it up again.

He smiled. Cheek leaning against the hand as it settled on his shoulder. Barrier falling open so Wren could have a peek inside. River really didn’t mind. The rocks bit, but he was not hurt. Much too pleased to have been pet to worry about stupid rocks. Pets. *I think she means Castes, Wren.* River sent probes up her own. Wriggled at the opening of her barriers.

Squeezed inside so he could settle there, possessively. Head bobbing, he stood as bid. Little to keep him on the ground. Wren had let go of him to set about distracting her more. Or distressing her. River watched, concern, as they struggled with one another. Inching slowly closer as hand fought hand. Syphoning Wren’s emotions and twitching.

”Ladies,” River soothed. No fighting! Shield wrapping around the garden to keep others out. Nearly wedged between them before they settled. Wren relenting to her mother’s wishes. Perhaps, River buried the thought, he could get her to teach him that trick before they left. Happy now that they were apart and no longer fussing at each other. Eyes darting between each, River offered his arms to both.

”Yes lets. I think Willbe packed his shoes instead of mine,” River goaded with just a little lie. Tongue pressing his top lip into his teeth as worried at Wren’s intentions. He was not best at those shields. But of course he could do nothing less than what she asked. It was important. So he settled them on the bench, Wren-mother between them seemed wisest. Sitting, River patted her hand and followed Wren inside, too afraid to break something if he made his own way in.

Down, not far, to the mother-chalice. River’s lip stung as he pressed and pressed, honing his focus. He built the shield on the Sapphire. He’d known it longer, constructed it with great care. And then deepened its power slowly. Drop by drop. Until his body was warm from the effort. It wasn’t a drain on his Jewels, just his will. Careful, careful.

Until it was darker than Wren’s Grey. So that if she slipped, the chalice would be preserved. River giggled. Glad the thing was done and now only had to be maintained. Sure it was spring by now.

”I like those little sleepy yellow flowers,” he murmured, eyes half closed, legs stretched out in front of him impolitely. River’s fingers wrapped around the bench, kneaded. Strange things, almost like little balls, or bells. Just barely yellow.

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2018, 04:18:09 PM »
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Aged twice as quickly by her broken jewels Barbra’s vision must have faded. She swooped in even closer, hovering just above River’s other shoulder. Head tilted and eyes overly wide she scrutinized Wren’s petting with sharp focus. She half expected her mother to start screaming. Instead Barbra let out a laugh like bells jingling. ”See! Nice.”

Eyes rolling towards the top of her skull Wren denied the immense urge to shake her head. As vexed as she was gratified by River and Mother getting along. It went against all the things she had been taught to believe! She would get to the bottom of it all. But the implication that Wren was silly or foolish for not immediately enjoying the touch lingered in her chest. Antagonizing the new, tender fear that she was somehow failing these young men. Frowning lightly she couldn’t resist the sharp retort, ”What happened to never trusting a man?”

A cool scowl was all the answer she got before turning her attention back to River. Their shared thread tingling in pleased excitement as she realized he made sense. *Hm. Perceptive, River. You’re probably right.* She didn’t try mask her surprise that he had figured it out. Wren had never been very clever with puzzles. Deny all she wanted, truth be told Wren was a dreamer and a romantic more than an analyst or logician.

Always secretly seething with emotion below the tight reins of outward control. Less secretly now, she supposed, that River had been allowed to skim the surface of her barriers twice. Making himself quite at home just as she had expected. Reading in return the thoughts along his outer barrier. Anxious and at the ready while she bumped wills with Mother. A half sensed whisper that was hidden away before she could catch more than the bare intention. Narrowing her gaze at him in sour mirth Wren accepted the arm with a tight grip.

And made no attempts to mask that she thought he was a little shit.

”Prince Willowbanks does your packing?” She wondered aloud, amused by the idea. More fashion savvy people had always done her packing too. Otherwise Wren would probably live in oversized tunics and little else.

Her own worries, as they settled on the bench, were less about the task at hand and more about what would be revealed. She would not have long to look. Mother’s barriers were softer than warm butter and fragile as eggshells. They couldn’t stand the pressure of an intense investigation. Only the most important explanations could be sought. Having River’s support would help, though. Leave her free to concentrate on the precision of her probes. Guilt twisted in her chest for pressing him to do it when he seemed so unsure. But press she did. Later, when they were alone, she would apologize and thank him properly.

There were just things she had to know.

Barbra was easily distracted, at least. Rambling on and on about the flowers River mentioned. Patting his hand for comfort as Wren wriggled deeper.

It was uneasy behind the strangely quiet and scarred walls that veiled her mother's bruised psyche. Wren swept through to the deepest places, where the memories were most intact. Tested everything as she went. Delicate touches on tender places. Heart sick and heavy as she learned what she had come to learn. Barriers tightening to slip the information by River. Having learned the hard way already that day her threads were not very accurate. She didn't want to upset her mother by speaking out loud what she found. It gnawed at her stomach though, and would until she had processed it all later. Now there were just flowers to chat about. A final visit to spend feeding the garden and sharing her boyo. Letting her mother give a few barely tolerated (by Wren) pets. She hummed a soft thanks along her link to River as she retreated. Tried to focus on the present. ”I'm glad you're feeling well, momma. I’m sorry it's been a long while since I visited.”

Shrugging lightly Barbra leaned against Wren, ”This is the temple my Little Bird got her Sapphire at.” She told River before whispering conspiratorially to Wren, ”That's my daughter. She descended all the way to a Grey, but this boy has even darker than that!”

A small smile punctuated Wren’s giggle. It sounded even stranger than her petting looked. ”He does. He might show us if we ask nicely. I don't know what anyone does with all that Craft except starve.”

”He must need it, or else he wouldn't have got it.” Barbra giggled.

River Well

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: dergon

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2018, 08:54:49 AM »

It was a little unnerving having Wren's mother so near his face. River rolled his eyes toward her, blinking rapidly as she seemed to study whatever strange happening was going on between them all. Judging Wren's methods of petting, he thought, maybe, defensively leaning into the touch.

They were good pets!

But he said nothing, letting them work it out between themselves. Learning little kernels of Wren as they did so. Was that why she was so reticent? Lessons learned from her poor, broken mother? Only a little hurt by her surprise that he could think of anything clever. They did not know each other well yet. River was sure that in time, Wren would come to appreciate just how perceptive he was. That he could be trusted. At least he hoped so, insulted laughter trickling down the thread.

Smiling beneath the onslaught her sour look. Amused but not. River didn't even have the decency to feel sheepish for it. Instead he tucked his arm, and her, tight against his side. He took care with the frail queen at his other side, shortening his long strides more than he did for Wren alone, but he leaned into the other, who had, completely by accident, wrapped his soul up in glittering bonds of spidersilk.

"Sometimes, if I ask him nicely." Dragging his poor cousin into his rooms to fuss at. Room brimming with the chaotic scents of excitement, nervousness, and all around broiling energy. Clothes strewn everywhere. Not knowing where they were going. Who would they see. What he would need to be of service. A cousin to pluck and pull at. And slap him a little so he could keep at least some of his wits about him. Good old Willbe.

Settling them all in nicely, River happily kept Wren-mother distracted while Wren did whatever Wren needed to do. Strengthening his shield when she pressed to tight on accident, yet never missing a beat in the conversation. Cooing over flowers and other nonsense he only half understood. And offering all the comfort she wanted, because River understood that best. Instinctively. Smoothed thorn pricked fingers as she patted him.

Tried not to worry about Wren. To dig his heels in when she seemed to retreat. Huffing against her barriers. Refusing to retreat fully, even when she was done. Soft, tired thanks shimmering on the thread between them. Eyeing the shield he had woven, River eased away some of the power, but left it. It would linger for a time before dissipating. No longer powered directly from his Jewels, but strong enough to last for a time on its own.

Relaxing some, River watched the queen-pair. So very alike and yet so very different. Struck by the change, as Wren-mother leaned in, whispering to Wren as if she were a stranger. Frown licking at his lips, pulling the creases of his cheeks downward. Smothering the crinkles of his smiles. Blinking as Wren giggled. River's own answering the sound. He hadn't known she could, cheeks wrinkling again in a smile.

He tried not to the think of the last time he'd given permission for his Jewel to be viewed. Cool hands slipping the chain from beneath the collar of his shirt. Warm body in his lap. Willbe's growing need staining the air around them. Swallowing, River ducked his head, slipping thumbs beneath his starched collar to pull the Ebon-gray free. Chain tinkling as it fell down his chest again.

"So I've always thought, lady," River said solemnly. He'd never taken it for granted. There had to be a reason to live so deep in the Abyss. Separated from so many. River giggled and the moment passed. "Maybe it's so Wren can't escape, hmm?" Brown eyes glinting merrily he grinned at his poor, besieged queen.

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

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Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2018, 06:11:11 PM »
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”Asking politely is usually the easiest way to get what you want... They just show up in my room and tell me which pieces go together now though.” It had been a long time since Wren had needed to ask. No one wanted her running looking like she was an orphan. Even if she was in most ways. River’s answer only gave her more questions though. What was his reason for not packing himself? Or did he just like a second opinion?

Maybe he just liked to bother Willbe. Poor put upon man. She had not gotten to know him much yet either. He seemed less bothered by her avoidance than River did though. Cool headed and better at reining his cousin in than she was. They were a good match, those two. Complimenting each other’s personalities even though they were different as the sun and moon.

There was no time for wondering now, of course. She had the rest of her life to figure them out. Only another hour or two before her mother got tired or hungry and their visit was finished. With winter upon them and other realm guests on the way Wren had not been able to secure more than an afternoon.

It seemed alright, though, Barbra would likely never know the difference. She had allowed River to keep his vicious little grip in her outermost barriers. A useless fight, in the end. He could overpower her in most ways. The venom tooth under her nail and a few mind traps her only defense. Enough, if push ever came to shove. Now, though, their continued link brought her gaze up to his face. Tracing the frown that made his face appear so serious. Not a look that suited him, she decided, much preferring his never ending smirks. A tendril of calm acceptance raced along their thread to sooth him. ‘Normal,’ it suggested, ‘nothing unusual.’

Not for Barbra. And not for Wren. Their relationship had always been complicated, especially for the younger queen. At least now she knew the truth. All the bits that counted, anyway.

His smile was quick to return, though. All three of them easing into the conversation. The women leaning closer as he pulled the long chain up over his shirt. Wren had never asked to see it, only felt the bold energy that followed him everywhere. Wondered at how readily he called on his descent. Younger than her, but more confident in such a darker jewel. She was only now adjusting to the difference in power between her Sapphire and Grey. The curious want to reach out and touch it made her fingers itch. Barbra’s hand wrapped around her’s though, stilling it before she could do anything so embarrassing.

”She’s not very fast, but she is good at hiding. And exploding things.” The old woman said flatly. Coloring lightly Wren sat up straight again. Blue eyes flashing between them both with narrowed lids. She was plenty fast! Most likely, anyway. She’d never had to outright run from anyone before. And she didn’t have to hide either. Arms crossing over her chest she sniffed, ”I haven’t made anyone explode in years! And that Ebon-grey wouldn’t stop me if I wanted to get away.” Probably. Maybe. What did he want to catch her for anyway? She was starting to wish Willbe had been free to come along.

”Maybe it’s because Lady Crag would have wrung your neck by now if you didn’t. Filching poor Lord Redgroves coffee carafes.” She accused. Which made Barbra laugh, ”You used to steal my ring.” She said, holding up the ghostly Rose that still sat on her left ring finger. Wren smiled, but it failed to reach her eyes. She had stolen it a half dozen times. Not understand then that it couldn’t be fixed not matter what she tried.

River Well

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: dergon

    Little Terreille Kaeleer
    46 Posts    39 marks
Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2018, 07:19:33 PM »

"They weren't there the other day," River pointed out unhelpfully. No, Wren had been quite alone and still abed when he'd showed up. That day they'd woven the web together. He glanced at Wren-mother. It had been about her, hadn't it? He wondered what Wren had seen. She hadn't told him, not really. Just cryptic remarks, and an agreement that they would be traveling.

Settled beneath the cool calm shared across their link. Confident enough to expose his Jewel to them. Not that River ever worried about showing it. It was his, no one could take it from him. And everyone else seemed just fine to wear theirs openly. He only covered it to keep it warm. But he liked to know it would be appreciated and not feared when he pulled it out on purpose.

Enjoyed the way they leaned in. Skin prickling. Would they touch it? No. Clasping hands instead. River's gaze slid over the top of the broken queen's head, searching for Wren's instead. Did she like it? Between them her mother spoke, drawing color up Wren's cheeks, and deepening River's smile. Eyes crinkling in amused surprise.

"I didn't know she'd exploded anyone. Ever." The idea of it didn't bother him either, that she had. Just that she'd had to. It meant he hadn't been there to protect her, or do the killing for her, when it had been needed. Never again, River promised her silently. Leaning in, pressing her mother between them. Never, ever, again. "You wouldn't get far or be lost long," he promised out loud, words punctuated by a giggle.

"Oh, her," River's eyes nearly rolled back in his head. "I'm not worried about her." He could feel the noose tightening around his neck. Savage, bittersweet leash. He'd rather have Wren's. Then he could give in without that taste in his mouth. It had no name, just feeling and flavor. Wrongness. "I do enjoy that fussy warlord of hers, though. He's funny." Puffy little shit. River grinned, mouth open with mirth.

Blinking, as if he'd forgotten she was there, River looked down at Wren-mother, and the empty ring on her finger. Temper flared, settled. "She is a strange one, our Lady Wren," he whispered softly.

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

    Little Terreille Kaeleer
    47 Posts    0 marks
Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2018, 01:29:27 AM »
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The other day. Wren huffed under her breath. When he had barged into her room before she was even dressed! Impatient rascal. Some nerve bringing it up. ”I can dress myself. They just... rather I not if there will be guests.” Not that her clothing habits should be any of his business! Nosy.

Wren’s head tilted as she watched River. His long, limber fingers exposing the unique pendant. Not fidgeting, she noticed. For a second she wondered if it just took two queens. Then she remembered Iris counted as a queen too. She had never actually been the only queen around River. Except on their short trip here. What was the difference then? He’d been calm when she wove the web too. Attention? A little access to her barriers? Dumb luck? Her bet was leaning towards the latter.

If Barbra was made nervous by the power that glinted at its heart she hide it well enough. Only her grip on Wren’s fingers hinting that she felt anything at all. It very well might have been excitement. Wren’s heart beat faster, just a tick. Eyes drawn magnetically towards River. He was watching. Always watching, but especially watching now. She swallowed and watched back with wide eyes. Not quite sure what to say. The Ebon-gray, on a warlord prince. Stupid of her not to be terrified! But she wasn’t.

Just ashamed. Even though he smiled instead of flinched away. Odd, silly boy. She rushed through a half explanation. Worried the full story might work Barbra into a fret. ”It was on accident. When I was very little.” When the Sapphire and it’s power had been new. To men that hadn’t deserved it. Wren fell quiet while the memory pulled at her. Shadowy now, the small details forgotten. The hand not being clutched by her mother’s snuck into her pocket again so the glass vial could be called in. Round and round her busy fingers turned it while she thought. An uncle. He had been her uncle. Family she would have now that it was nearly time to say goodbye to mother.

Barbra shivered as she stifled a yawn. Eyes on River as he pressed in closer. Giving him more room by scooting nearly into Wren’s lap. ”Funny fussy warlords.” She echoed like a child. ”With coffee carafes.”

Wren couldn’t help wondering if he’d say such a thing in front of Iris. She was a force to be reckoned with, as the territory was quickly learning. Of course some said Wren was too. She was less brutal than Iris, had a cooler head. A different sort of control.

Couldn’t figure out leashes for shit.

”You should be kinder to him, River.” Wren suggested, gaze shifting back to him slowly as she gave the memory back to her deeper conscious again. ”He keeps everything running like clockwork, and he shares.” His books and his cakes, his advise and his time to teach Willbe. She thought Jo was sweet.

”You should be kinder to your River.” Barbra echoed with a toothy grin. A hand on their respective knees, patting softly. Snorting lightly Wren tried to keep her face impassive. The corners of her mouth twitched. What sort of Queen had her mother been? Not very good at leashes either, judging by the memories she had peeked at.

Then she snorted in earnest. ”That’s rich coming from you.” Strangest boyo in the land! A fine pair they were, then, she supposed. Turning her attention back to Barbra she asked wistfully, ”How did you make your males toe the line, momma?” The question should have been innocent. That was Wren’s intention at least.

Barbra turned though, to give her a deeply troubled look. ”Do I look like I had that figured out?”

”Momma.” She reached to sooth the hand still laying on her knee but it pulled away to form a sharp finger. ”I’m sorry, I didn’t mean...”

”It’s when they don’t trust themselves you have to worry. Makes them mad. Especially Ayman. Never trust Ayman! He has a bad temper.” She shifted between them on her seat. Aggitated as she waited for them to agree.

Sighing Wren caressed her shoulders and back. Patted the soft tufts of white hair pulled back into a loose bun. Failing miserably. At being a daughter, at being a queen, maybe at being a person altogether. "It's alright momma. See how safe you are with River here? Nothing could get through him."

River Well

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: dergon

    Little Terreille Kaeleer
    46 Posts    39 marks
Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2018, 11:14:01 AM »

No fear. At least not from Wren. For the moment, her mother didn't really exist. There only as an admirer. River didn't not test her barriers with probes, too afraid that he might hurt something after Wren's delicate work. And his shields didn't always keep him out. Just slowed him down a little. But Wren was looking back at him, eyes wide, but not frightened.

River's face folded into a happy smile.

"It happens that way sometimes." Only half solemn. River didn't have time for regrets and sorrow. Otherwise he would do nothing but slog through life. What else were the purpose of his Jewels if not to protect? And sometimes protecting meant killing. "The Sapphire is a heavy Jewel." He'd destroyed an entire barn with his. Nothing but the foundation blocks left. He worried about Wren though. Disturbed by her own power.

Or maybe it was just the lack of control she'd had as a child. River's eyes crinkled, grinning at her. Silly Wren.

"I'm perfectly polite to him," River assured her, leaning over Wren-mother. One hand gripping the back of the bench. The other itching for other places. Knees to tuck around. As polite as he ever was to anyone. The false sort of niceness that never went beyond the surface. The sort Protocol dictated he show. "I just don't like him." He admitted, catching her far knee, fingers curling under it. Tugging. Pulling them both closer until Wren-mother was almost in his lap instead.

"I agree with her," he whispered. He could have used a little kindness from his ice queen. Jewel swinging from his neck above their laps. River giggled. He was strange, he supposed, not particularly worried about it. He didn't much care for what others thought of him. Except maybe Wren. And he did prefer they not run screaming from him. Unless he wanted them to.

Half wrapped up in his own thoughts, dragging the queens closer so he could fuss properly. Maybe get a few pets in. But they'd begun squabbling in his almost lap. No, not fighting this time, River glanced down, tasting the sharp, fretful emotions stirring the air.

"Nothing at all." He pulled the shields around the garden tighter. Drew them in, sent colors through their walls so that they sparkled. "See?" His face was still grinning furrows all over, teeth glinting behind upturned lips. Eyes creased in a smile, gleaming, bright and dangerous. "We will take care of Ayman." If he was still living, River would take very good care of him indeed.

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

    Little Terreille Kaeleer
    47 Posts    0 marks
Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2018, 08:51:35 PM »
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Of course River only half understood. Only the barest facts of the story could be revealed while mother listened. He was right again, though. Wren’s head bobbing in agreement. Heavy indeed. Twice as heavy under the influence of her higher caste. Men that looked in her eye as they died and didn’t even try to shield themselves. Helplessly at the mercy of a child queen. The same look she had seen again and again in the eyes of escorts and guards that caught the cold edge of her temper.

She didn’t think anyone had ever put a shield up against her. Not that many were capable of one that would actually hold.

That was a long time ago, though, she reminded herself. Nothing like that was going to happen ever again. Now she knew more about the wider world, so that innocent people didn’t become her victims. And she had nearly complete self control.

It slipped though, as his long fingers skimmed around her knee. The hard tips pressing into the far too sensitive skin there. Twitching in his hand but not quite trying to get away. Chest suddenly so tight a pocket of air formed in her throat instead of words when she tried to tell him Lord Redgrove likely felt the same. Flushed across the cheeks she whisper-whimpered, ”That tickles.”

His own whisper making her color deepen as it spread to  the tips of her ears. The careful wrap of braids on her head shivering as she covered his hand with hers to try and pull it away. ”Agree all you like. Some things have to be earned.” Perhaps kindness shouldn’t have been one of them but her heart was pounding too hard for her mind to function properly. Not fear but something just as violent. A foreign emotion that swirled around in the pit of her like a witchstorm.

Barbra leaned into River’s side. Fitting done and drowsy eyed as she watched his rainbows collide with his shields. A child’s wonder etched across her face. Wren hadn’t looked at all. Still caught in the spell of the strangeness River had infected her with. Rubbing the backs of his fingers since she couldn’t rub the skin he still gripped. Not sure it helped. ”Are you getting tired, momma?” Her gaze wavered back to the other queen as the Barbra swallowed a poorly hidden yawn. The flicker of humor riding the corner of her mouth as her mother shook her head vigorously. ”Its still early! And I have guests today. My daughter will come, the sisters said- she only comes with somethings wrong.”

River Well

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: dergon

    Little Terreille Kaeleer
    46 Posts    39 marks
Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2018, 10:57:22 PM »

The way she reacted was a curious thing. River watched, listened, attended. A sort of wriggling happening. River could practically feel her skin squirming beneath his fingers, never mind the layers of clothes between them. Color creeping across each cheek bone and up the sides of her nose.

He liked it. The wiggling. The blushing. The way she admitted that it tickled. Filed that spot away for later. Stored the memory of the noise away too. Watched more as the color swept up toward her ears, over their pink tips. A soft rattle in his chest. Pleasure... pain.

A stillness. The cessation of sound. River closed his eyes and stopped his fingers. Would have taken them back if she hadn’t been rubbing them. Used them to ease the hot, piercing ache in his side. Hidden beneath Wren-mother, who had nestled close. Blinking, River opened his eyes, looked away, distracting himself with the display he’d used to soothe her mother. Cheek brushing the greying hair. Searching for comfort.

He wanted Willbe. Petulant in his hurt, River withdrew. Slipped free of his hard won place just inside her first barrier. Retreated inside himself. Found it hard to play along. To help. But it was his duty, wasn’t it?

”Everything is well, lady.” Or at least he hoped so. River didn’t actually know. But she was in no danger. Not with he and Wren there. The game had lost its shine, the fun sucked away.

Why wasn’t he worth kindness?

Wren Cloverbridge

    Sapphire to Gray
  • Black Widow Queen
  • Played By: Jones

    Little Terreille Kaeleer
    47 Posts    0 marks
Re: A Last Visit
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2018, 11:38:31 PM »
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She made a mistake. Cut when she only wanted to poke. The realization took several minutes. He had not pulled away or pinched or flinched. Any signs his face might have given were lost to her notice. Too preoccupied with softly exploring the air around her mother. Wrapping the warming spell tighter around them all, but tightest around Barbra. Wondering if River would carry her in if she fell asleep there on his shoulder.

He seemed to like the attention. Cuddled together like old friends while Wren sat on the outside. That was when she felt the absence. The sudden loneliness of her empty barriers. River gone back to his own. Only the faint hint of hurt left in the places he had occupied moments before. She was afraid to reach out. To find his barriers sealed tight, or worse be sucked in and find him angry. To face whatever wrong she had done.

”I just wanted to see you. That’s all.” Wren tried to reassure them both. Finding the lie left a bitter taste in her dry mouth. It was too early in the day to have faced so many feelings. Had it been long enough to leave, though? She couldn’t help wondering. The strain of playing a dutiful daughter was hard.

Barbra made her mind up for them all. Fallen asleep with her temple pressed to River’s shoulder. Fingers limp in Wren’s hand. Breathing deep and steady. Would it be peaceful? Wren hoped so. Maybe she would fall asleep and never wake up. Young for such things, perhaps, but the body often gave up earlier after such traumas.

Petting the idle hand in her lap she turned her attention back to River. They could stay a little bit longer. Just a little. ”Are you angry?” She thought warlord princes were supposed to fly into rages. Sad, perhaps, then. Or disappointed. Wren was very good at disappointing people.
 

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