After Tea - A Small Token

After seeing the Princess off, Kendall heads back into the tower in search of a tall glass of wine.

"A charming child…" Comes the words from a balcony, Brisbane enjoying the view.

Kendall stops and looks around, startled by the unexpected words. With a shake of his head, he changes course to join Brisbane. "Quite," he is all he has to reply.

"I hope we won't have a repeat of…" Brisbane says, waving his hand in a circle, as though trying to recall something. "Whatever her name was, because things could have ended far worse here in Amber."

"No, sir. I should think not," Kendall replies, suddenly feeling quite tired of the Amber games. He hesitates, not sure how to broach the topic of the Hall of Mirrors, coming to stand beside Brisbane and looking over the ocean before speaking again. "I… have word from my mother," he finally says.

His Uncle's form wavers, showing his genuine surprise. "Where? How?"

Kendall thinks on that for five heartbeats, still having a hard time crediting the existence of such a Chaosian artifact in Amber. "I discovered a hall in the castle that is full of mirrors," he says at length. "These mirrors apparently reach across Shadow in some way, allowing communication and travel. Mother appeared within one and spoke to me."

"She did," his Uncle says as he thinks for a moment, his shoulders relaxing with acceptance. "I take it, the exchange wasn't pleasant."

Kendall makes a sort of so-so gesture. "It was not particularly unpleasant, no. She expressed her wish for our House to ally with Amber, and for the Crown Princess Margot and I to be joined as a part of this alliance," he says, his voice matter of fact. "She did express… concerns about circumstances back home, however. Unheralded events, as she called it, prompting her to make her wishes known in the presence of others who were with me in the Hall."

His Elder's tone is quick and troubled, sharp and biting for one Kendall considers fond. "Only a fool would speak of such, here out in the open were any could be concealed close enough to overhear." His eyes, as sharp as the words, as Brisbane watches his nephew. "But by good fortune, I was unable to hear what you just said due to their tedious winds, as I'm sure any eavesdroppers would be as well."

And with that, a mere wave of a hand does Kendall find his time with his uncle ending. Perhaps it was as he had said, the discussing of family affairs so out in the open. Or was it his words, did Kendall tell his uncle some fact he didn't want to be aware of. Could it be, what his mother did and said, was coming from behind his own father's back? And as faithful house member, in the service of the House and its Lord… would Brisbane feel he must report such if spoken again in his presences.

Kendall doesn't leave right away, staring at his elder with a puzzled frown for the space of five heartbeats, not sure what to think about such a sudden dismissal. He walks to the door of the balcony then, and bows to Brisbane before he departs. "My apologies, sir," he says.

Tis a marker, to how upset his uncle is…neither does he accept the apology or even give a sign that he heard it spoke. Brisbane remains on the balcony, the view forgotten as he considers.

For his part, Kendall makes his way back to his private chamber to consider how best to proceed. The conversation — or lack of one — with Brisbane is… worrisome to him. He and his uncle have had many open conversations on that same balcony, so he considers the line about spies as just that: a line. Even so, puzzling through House politics — especially from a distance — would take time, valuable time that he might rue wasted if indeed he found wooing the pretty princess to be in his best interests.

That all being in mind, Kendall takes out his writing supplies and pens a brief, though formal letter to the Queen of Amber, requesting an audience at Her Majesty's convenience. Once the letter is signed, sealed, and had been sent for delivery, he busies himself with other tasks until the time of rest and meditation comes upon the Castle. Yet though the darkened sky above often relaxes with its stippled appearance reminiscent of home, this evening finds Kendall restless and dissatisfied with the thoughts still turning in his mind.

A book, his lute, and even some drawing bring him no relief, and so his feet take him eventually to the bridge that connected the solitary Vigil to the rest of the castle. There he stood for many heartbeats, suspended between worlds — at one end lay Amber Castle with all its strangeness, while at the other stood the towers that contained all of Chanicut in Amber. He stares down at the crashing surf below with his hands clasped behind his back, the waves and swirling water matching the turmoil of his thoughts.

He looks up at the sound of the massive door on the castle end of the bridge opening, to see one of the vigilant Knights entering the walkway. Any alarm is allayed when he see also small Page of no more than eight years old with auburn hair and emerald eyes following in the Knight's shadow, holding a parcel tightly in both hands. Upon approaching the Chaos Lord, the Knight gives a cursory bow which is met with a nod, before departing to return to his post, leaving the Page to discharge his errand.

"Good evening," he addresses the youngster, his tone completely neutral. He pays no heed when the Knight turns to return to his post, leaving the child alone with Kendall. "Have you a package for the Ambassador?"

The young lad steps forward, bowing as best as he could without dropping the parcel. "Actually, Lord Kendall. It is a package for you." The Chaos Lord's eyebrows go up, a bemused expression coming over his face as he accepts the parcel and weighs it in his hand. It has a certain heft to it, and is wrapped in a piece of sage-colored silk with all the folds held in place by a single, delicate pewter brooch.

Once free from the package, the lad moves back again quickly, but waits to be dismissed. "Please tell me who asked you to bring this to me," the Lord asks the Page.

Holding his ground despite the loss of the Knight's presence, the young boy fidgets under the weight of the Lord's stare. "It is an offering from Princess Margot, Lord Kendall." He fidgets a little more. "She's is very nice." The boy seemed to want to say more, but holds his tongue.

The Chaos Lord turns his gaze back to the package in his hand. "That she is," he agrees. "Wait here, as I may have a reply for you to take to her."

The lad nods, moving to sit on the floor. His head finds a place to rest upon the glass of the bridge, and he watches the waves crash against the rocks below. Meanwhile, Kendall walks several paces towards the door at the tower side of the bridge before stopping to unclasp the brooch and allow the silk to fall away.

Inside the silk, he finds a large leather bound book with gilded pages. Within the cover lay a linen bookmark, cream colored, with edges of tatted lace and bearing a delicate embroidery of ivy and flowers reaching toward the top with golden buds of french knots. The pattern is the same on both sides, and as he brings the bookmark closer to inspect it further, he becomes keenly aware of a floral essence that seems to emanate from the fabric with a warm and vibrant scent.

He finds a wax sealed envelope beneath the bookmark. The handwriting is long, fluid and delicate with "Lord Kendall" scribed on the outside of the envelope. Inside, it reads:

Dear Lord Kendall~

Please accept this tiny token of my gratitude. Your patience and generous hospitality were a delightful welcome. While I am still new to life within these walls, your kindness allowed me to feel at ease. I will cherish the time we spent and the pleasant sensation I will have when I recall our first encounter together.

It is my hope that you will grant me the chance to return your kindness by joining me for a walk in the gardens. I would very much like to learn more of you and your culture.

With Sincerest Regards~
Princess Margot

Returning the card to its envelope, he turns the first several pages of the book. The dulcet tones of a piano gently plays as he casually flips through the pages. He finds that the book is written in Thari, and gives a detailed explanation of the etiquette, culture, and ways of life of the Victorian Era. Artfully illustrated, many of the pictures are watercolor with gold filigree. As he continues to flip, the music changes to match the topic of the chapter. When he comes to a segment discussing popular dance, the picture of a man and woman dancing leaps from the page, creating ethereal partners moving to the music in the air.

The moon continues to move toward its rest as he pages through the book, enchanted by its simplicity and elegance, until he would have had some difficulty recalling how many heartbeats had passed since he opened it. Sounds of movement behind him bring him back to the present, however, and the necessity to respond before the Page succumbed to weariness.

Tucking the letter and bookmark into the book, he carefully closes the cover and slips the silk and the brooch into a pocket of his robe. Turning back, he addresses the page boy. "Will you be able to deliver a reply yet this night, or on the morrow?"

The boy scrambles to his feet. "If his Lord would prefer a message sent to the Princess this night, I will take it to her. She was still awake when I was called upon to deliver this parcel."

"Very well. Wait here." Kendall leaves the boy there while he goes through the door into the tower. It is a matter of heartbeats for him to return to his private room. Rory, constantly anticipating him, had set out his personal box of writing supplies on the desk while he had been on the bridge, so that it took very little time to write a response.

Folding and sealing the envelope, the Chaosian leaves the book in his room while he takes the note out to give to the Page. The child is still at attention, waiting for the Lord's return. His eyes speak of a need to sleep, and his hands rub his eyes every so often. Kendall extends the envelope for the boy to accept. "Please ask the Princess on my behalf to seek her rest," he says.

The boy bobs a bow. "As you wish, Lord Kendall. May the night be kind to you," he recites as he accepts the envelope, a common response for Pages. "I will see that it is delivered to Princess Margot without delay."

The boy backs out of the glass bridge for fear of insulting the Chaos Lord by turning his back to him. He need not have feared, however, as Lord Kendall had turned his attention to other things, dismissing thoughts of the Page as quickly and completely as if the youngster had never existed.

The Chaosian returns to his bedchamber and removes his heavy green velvet outer robe, revealing the plain black trousers and shirt underneath. Dropping the robe onto the bed, he picks up the Princess' book and steps outside. His tiny private balcony opens to a view of the moon on its final descent. Two chairs and a low table are the only furnishings. Here in the privacy of the Amber Blacksky and his own chamber, he pulls the second chair around and props his feet onto it.

Rory appears as Kendall makes himself comfortable, having realized long before that it would be some time before his master would seek rest and meditation. "Wine, m'lord?" he asks, and Kendall nods absently, already opening the volume and beginning to read to the gentle accompaniment of music. The servant brings a bottle and a glass, setting them down on the table and pouring the first generous serving.

"You may go to your rest, Rory," Kendall says as the servant withdraws, and Rory takes himself. Much later, the rising light of the sky finds the wine untouched, though the Chaos Lord still sits on his balcony with a faint smile on his face. Turning the last page of the book, he closes it carefully and then stands and stretches as the light brightens around him in the early morning.

It had been a most interesting Turning, and the next one would likely be just as interesting. In which case, it was probably a good idea to get some rest. Going back inside, he sets the book on the nightstand and sits on the bed. The boots are all he bothers with removing, lying back still fully clothed, to relax until it was time for the first meal.

***

In Another Place & Time

Margot awaits in her quarters, almost sick with anxiety. Her robe of midnight velvet hung around her shoulders, the white of her shift peeking out from the edges and hem. Her hair hung loose, combed and smoothed down her back. Her maids had long ago given up trying to ease the young Princess to bed, she being too keyed up to listen to any reason. She had paced, she had watched the fire in the hearth, she pretended to read. She wondered if she had made the wrong decision to send him a gift; knowing somewhere in the pit of her stomach that she could have greatly offended him by being so… bold. But, impulse won out, and she felt compelled to share her appreciation; and if she admitted to herself, her interest in seeing him again.

Sitting by the fire, she watched how the flames licked against the stones, letting her mind wander until one of her servants entered into her private quarters. "Princess Margot, there is a Page here. He brings word and insists that he has a message to deliver. To you, personally."

Margot sat up, both excited and dreading what could come to her at this hour. "Please, I will be there in a moment." Rising from the chaise, she catches herself smoothing her night clothes. Drawing a deep breath, she exits the private quarters to receive the message delivered.

She met the Page she had originally sent on her mission. The poor thing looked like he should have been in bed LONG before now. Gently, she approached, and lowered herself to her knees, to look the lad in his face. "Desrianne shared that you had a personal message and a letter to deliver?" She smiled.

The Page bowed, stifling a yawn. "Lord Kendall received your parcel. He has asked me to deliver this in return and to…" He had to think for a moment, "Please ask the Princess on my behalf to seek her rest," he recalled, proud that he remembered all the words.

Margot's smile widened. "Thank you for delivering the message," she said, holding her hand out to receive the letter. "Please find comfort in your bed, young Page, and rest well."

The boy nods, happy to be released from duty this evening. Margot watches him leave, and then rises from the floor and takes the letter into her private quarters to read by the fire's light. The handwriting outside and within is smooth and flowing, careful and neat. Outside, it is addressed to Princess Margot, with a fine filigree inked below the name. Inside, it says thus:

Princess Margot,

Thank you for your beautiful and enchanting gift. I see that you have given me a great deal of fascinating information about your home, and I will treasure it.

It was truly an honor to make your acquaintance, and I am pleased that I had the opportunity to make your welcome to Amber more pleasant. I am also flattered by your kind invitation, and would be delighted to join you for a walk in the gardens. Please consider my time at your disposal.

Fondly,

Lord Kendall qil Chanicut

Margot reads the letter, quickly at first. Then, she moves closer to the fire so that she may take in all the delicate intricacies — how his handwriting flowed against the paper, the slight tilt to the letters. Her eyes return again and again to his acceptance to her invitation. Please consider my time at your disposal. She imagines how it would sound if he had uttered the words himself. Something formal, with perhaps a bow, and his arms tucked into the emerald robe. His eyes, captivating, never leaving hers. She chides herself for the silliness of her thoughts, but then her eyes move to how he signed his letter.

Fondly. The word brought a rush to her cheeks.

Fondly. Her heart beat a little faster.

Fondly. Fondly meant that she couldn't have insulted him. She hopes, at least.

She reads it one more time, hanging on each word, hearing his voice in her head. Carefully folding the letter thrice, she returns it to the envelope. Her fingers trace her name on the outside of the envelope as she maneuvers to her bed, which was already turned down and awaiting her. Margot tucks the letter into her diary safely hidden in the night stand, vowing to send a letter at first light with a specific time to meet. With a yawn, she lays her robe and over a chair close by and slips under the blankets.


The sun had just stretched past the horizon when Margot had finished working through the last of her forms. Her body ached with the sweetness of exertion, clothing soaked near through. Now that she had ceased to move, she began to shiver slightly as the moisture from her skin began to dry. Returning sword to scabbard, she left the quiet sanctuary of the courtyard and all its fountains and shrubs and moved quietly through the halls, returning to her own quarters.

Inside, the fire had been refreshed with new logs. Margot removed her wet clothing, wrapping herself in a robe. Asking for a hot bath to be poured, she sat at her writing table, lifting pen and preparing a response. She sat for a few moments, struggling to find the right words to articulate what she wanted to say. It need not be this difficult, Girl, she chided herself. Why were the words not coming forward?

It is nothing more than a note of confirmation, she scolds herself again, and then draws a breath as she begins to write. The first draft found its place in the hearth, as did the second. Once she had settled upon something that passed as acceptable, she summons a Page to deliver the response to the Chaos Lord. Feeling the rise of adrenaline once more, she crosses her quarters to find the delicious comforts of her hot bath. Soaking in the warmth scented with jasmine and lavender, she felt tension and anxiety melt away.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
A Stroll in the Garden (with Margot)

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