Ill-Mannered Beyond Comprehension

Behind Margot, a loud thunk and a gasp herald's Desrianne's reaction as she turns with dressing gown in hand and realizes what was going on. Right then. With both she and Rory in the room! Eyes wide, she opens her mouth to say… she didn't know what, but a hand over her mouth interrupts her. She turns her head to find Rory had intercepted her, and she realizes she was being shuffled towards the door and out of the cabin with surprising strength and assertiveness. It was all so astounding she barely had a chance to register what was happening before the door was rustling shut behind them.

Lost was the world beyond the four corners of the mattress; somewhere perhaps there was a dull thud and maybe a scrambling or shuffling of feet. How could she notice when she had articles to remove and warmth to imbibe? The inconvenience of cloth stripped from his person, Margot wrapped her arms about his shoulders, resting upon her knees. "Thank you." she whispered, heartfelt. On arm releases him to comb through his hair, smoothing it away from his face. Her mouth consumed his, tasting the sweetness of the wine he had been enjoying with his book, relishing it. His heart raced, pounding against her chest; and for a at least a little while, she could forget the Hells beyond their little paradise.

Beyond the cabin door, another couple partook in a very different dance; far more aggressive and spirited. Desrianne fought and spat, tugging at the hand clamped over her mouth. Only when they were a safe distance away did Rory release her. "AND WHAT WAS THE MEANING OF THAT?!" she bellowed, her brassy tone echoing throughout the galleyway.

He releases her, but then stands between her and the cabin they had just vacated, just in case she would take it into her head to go back. "My apologies, Desrianne," he answers in his soft voice, not rising to meet her volume. "I do not care to take such actions, but it seemed most… prudent. It appeared to me that you were on the verge of… of… interrupting." It was an awkward ending to the sentence, as befitted the current awkward situation.

"And this is… this is acceptable?!" she was aghast. It was completely illogical, and on one level, she was very aware of exactly what the two were engaging in behind closed doors. Her Poppy had all but drawan pictures for her. But, to be so… open and… unchaste about the matter - like rutting wildabeasts in the wild - that was completely unacceptable by any standard.

"How many times have they performed with an audience?!" she pressed on, then threw her hands up over her ears and squeezed her eyes shut. "No. No. NO! I don't want to know…. I'll be sent to my grave, watery as it may be."

Rory relaxes when it becomes clear that Desrianne doesn't intend to attempt going back to the cabin and barging back in, but he frowns a little with confusion. Taking the older woman firmly by the elbow, he continues to lead her back towards her tiny closet cabin. "Is sexual interplay forbidden or anathema in Amber or your Shadow?" he asks. "I had not gotten that impression before, but from your reaction-"

"No, no, of course not!" Desrianne snapped back, dismissing the ridiculousness of it. "However, it is not common for lovers to flaunt their carnal desires like rutting beasts before public eyes!"

She stops and frowns, then sighs heavily, feeling her age. "That's not true either. It's just… she is a child and your master is far her senior and I fear she would be far less eager to put on such displays were it not for his influence. And because of her youth and the way love blinds her, she does not realize how such actions cast dispersions upon her character. And your master's spell has her so enthralled that no amount of reason seems to find its way to her ears."

She looked up at the younger man. "She does not appreciate that which she wields and how her desires …" She pauses for another sigh. "If they do not take care, mark my words, there will be another arriving with this party to Chaos… and an unfortunate surprise for all."

At the door to Desrianne's cabin, Rory opens the portal for the maid and waits for her to precede him through it. Once inside, he closes the door securely before speaking. He takes breath which he releases in a forceful exhalation, as though to steel himself.

"Desrianne, please understand, I stepped in as a courtesy to you as much as to m'lord. Believe me when I tell you his patience is limited, and the margin for error in this particular circumstance is nonexistent. The only people who may dictate with whom m'lord is allowed to fornicate is his father the Duke, his mother the Duchess Grania, and his elder brother, m'lord Cedric. Additionally, m'lady Diona, his sister, has been known to advise, and her advice is often heeded. But under no circumstances would a servant make comment on the sexual activities of the son of the Duke."

"I understand that you are protective of the princess, and do not approve of her choice of Lord Kendallarithan as her lover," he goes on quickly before she can interject anything. "Given your special relationship with her, it is entirely possible you will continue to counsel her when the two are engaged in separate activities, and your concern is understandable and possibly valid. But in situations such as this, you must learn to hold your tongue. M'lord will do as he wills in the privacy of his personal cabin, and it is my duty to see to his comfort. As their closest personal attendants, we are not 'public' eyes. If the princess is willing - and he would not bed her if she were not - I cannot permit you to interfere or interrupt. Such an intervention is inappropriate, and would end badly for you."

Desrianne sinks into the nearest place to rest. "I do not counsel her against having your Lord as a lover," she confessed. "I do not _understand_ what she sees, nor do I find the merits that earn him her unwavering loyalty to her dying breath. I worry that a young child has been thrust into a game of thrones and swords with no education and that …" she glanced up at Rory, "Forgive me, for you have not given me the same concerns, but that your Lord would see to her ruin as easily as he would see to the end of a meal."

Her fingers wrung together. "I know the love she has for him." her eyes lose their focus. "It is a blinding love, both empowering and debilitating. And you are correct, Rory, I do worry for her. I worry that she will give all of herself to your Lord and he will not appreciate the treasure that he is receiving… and that to him, she is just another to lover to take for pleasure or pass the time or to abide his boredom. You are fortunate to not have to provide her with comfort or wipe her tears when her heart is broken."

She glanced up at Rory. "What will happen if we arrive in Chaos and the Princess is with child?"

Rory clasps his hands in front of his waist once more. "I cannot say; there are too many variables. The child of m'lord would have claim to a place in Chanicut, if that were amenable to all involved. But both the princess and m'lord are taking precautions, Desrianne. He has no more desire to impregnate her than she wishes currently for a child."

The maid gave him a questioning look, but said nothing. She was not convinced. Young love was such a dangerous thing; and as events proved earlier, the Princess was ill-equipped and lacked the appreciation of all that she commanded.

Instead, she attempted to answer a question from earlier. "Amberites are more than open with their affections and desires and passions. It has been my experience - my very many years of experience in the castle - that most dalliances are not put on for public display, including the staff. That isn't to say that I've not observed nobility wander their private chambers in nothing but what they came into the world with, nor that I have not seen the afterglow and tender caresses of lovers barely awake after a night of passion."

Desrianne became rigid, "But those were the Princes and their lovers. Or visiting Nobility. To see the Princess behave in such a manner…" a hand came to her lips, "It is as if I am watching my own child performing for coin rather than love. Begging for attention that is not returned. I see many, many paths… and so few are resolved with her happiness. And that, dear Rory, is a path I too, I've walked and know what awaits."

"We have spoken of this, Desrianne. I know it is difficult, but you cannot shield her from life experience, no matter how painful they may prove to be. The only way to love is to risk," Rory says gently.

At somepoint, her gaze returns to the present, "I know we discussed that you do not have children, but that you and your mate wish to have children some day. We also discussed that you have been in your lord's service for many, many years. Do you share any sort of … bond or connection … where you see him as a part of you and your life? Family? Do you want what is best for him?" She knew they were simple questions and even in their simplicity, the notions were too foreign for Rory to answer. And yet, she knew no other way to convey the way her heart ached when she should have been overjoyed to see how intimate and affectionate the Lord was. He did save her life. Why she could not move past seeing a manipulative monster when his Man was obviously so kind…

"M'lord does not encourage such familiarity," Rory admits. "I began my service with him when he was already eight Cycles of age; already quite beyond need of additional parenting. He has, on occasion, asked my opinion on matters that are troubling or confounding him, and he has, on occasion, been willing to speak for me. But in terms of… bonding…? I have not previously given it any thought."

He pauses then, obviously turning the idea over in his mind, trying it on for size.

"Yes, yes, I know we've discussed it; but there is a difference between speaking of something and witnessing something first hand." She dismissed. Desrianne thought for a moment, "Do you love your Lord? Not in some sort of honor-bound fielty sort of way; but as a member of your 'family'?"

"Yes," comes the quiet answer. "He is not my brother, or son, or father, but in a sense, all of those in a House are family. He is my cousin, and I do feel… affection for him."

Rory's expression turns reminiscent, suddenly thinking back to the early days with the young, quite inquisitive, rather impetuous, and very imperious lord. "He has always been quite lonely," he remarks.

The words slip Desrianne's lips so softly, that she isn't certain they are more than a thought, "Then there is something that the Lord has in common with the Princess after all…"

He nods. "It is one price paid by those with the privilege of rank."

A momentary pause, and then he adds, "I am sorry I cannot be of more assistance, Desrianne. Have you not asked the princess why it is that she feels so strongly about m'lord? I can only tell you that he does appear, to me, to feel genuine affection for her. How far that affection will take them, or if it will last or grow into something more, is a question that only Time can answer. But your other questions may be addressed by the princess more immediately."

"Do you recall the vigor of youth, Rory? How passionate you once were and so full of fight and conviction? All youth are, to some degree." Desrianne chuckled softly to herself, sharing in some private joke. "I know exactly how the Princess feels… and I have little doubt you do as well. She loves him with all of her being. Mind, body, and soul. She will do whatever is necessary to prove her loyalty and honor her vow. She knows he cares for her, though she will not name the level of affection; but she is contented knowing that what he does feel, according to him, is genuine. She wants to make him proud and do his House justice. She longs to be everything he requires, dreams, desires."

"She is in love, Rory. Nothing more and nothing less."

"And do you trust her?" he asks curiously.

"I trust her heart to choose the right thing. She is a good person. A compassionate, loving person filled with conviction and a desire to see wrongs righted."

There was silence, "We both know that first loves do not always become life-long loves. I fear she is swept up in a notion that she may still have this, in some capacity. She is so radiant in his presence." She confided in Rory. "It troubles me to know that such a glow will not last. She deserves such happiness. And if you would forgive my saying, your Lord seems … peaceful and contented when they are united. I would hate to see that lost as well."

"I have told you that Lord Kendallarithan is not cruel, Desrianne, except to those who have wronged him," Rory says after some thought, returning to something that Desrianne had said earlier. "While he may not have the same depth of feeling for the princess as she does for him, he would not purposely seek to ruin her. And though one love may not be life-lasting, after the pain, there can be other loves."

"It is true, I do not care for your Lord; but I am not so blind by prejudice, Rory." She admits with a small smile, eyes glossy with watery weariness. "I feel my age when I see them together… and all that has been lost. I know that actions are taken at times to raise a response out of me; I also know that I do my part by keeping his Lordship guessing as to whether or when such taunts and barbs will earn the desired affect."

"I know I do not hold my tongue when I should, nor do my eyes offer the level of respect that I should. But, I cannot help it… love and protective instinct seem to command my every move." Desrianne sighed, "I fear I am out of my depth and should have refused the Princess her request to join her and now I will fail us both." Her eyes had long stopped meeting his, staring out to someplace beyond the walls of their room and far away where she knew her Poppy loved freely and wholly.

"I see evil in your Lord because it makes it easier to hate him. It makes it easier to be strong for the Princess. I see a man who is manipulating her and using her as one would use a kerchief because, if I do so, then I do not have to acknowledge how tender he is with her. Or how his expression softens and the tension melts when she appears and he believes no one is around to notice. I can pretend that his acts are wholly self-serving…" she shook her head, "But on more than one occasion now, I have watched your Lord personally stain his hands with her blood when she was ill and not let any care for the Princess save for himself. I have watched him sit at her side with worry creasing his brow. I have seen relief flicker in his eyes and smile, if only for a heartbeat before anyone can notice, when he finds her safe and well."

Her hands caught her face, "I am beyond confused. I am lost when I was sent with the purpose to be the light and I no longer know what it is I am to do."

Rory moves over so he can pat the woman comfortingly on the shoulder. "What options do you see for yourself?" he asks after a time. "I ask only because you may see things differently than me, including what paths are before you."

He sits down on the pallet as well, folding his hands in his lap and waiting for her to regain her composure.

I serve the Princess." She answers simply. "I gave my word I would not abandon her in Chaos, and I shan't. But I fear the young have a far easier time accepting change and evolving than those how have seen too many cycles and have become much like the landscape; rigid and off in the horizon."

"The Princess has right to be here; she may even come to belong in Chaos and truly call it home." There was no small amount of loneliness weighing heavily in her statement. It was true, both knew, the Princess would have little to do with the relic, save for a reminder of her childhood; and while Desrianne needed the Princess, she was starting to wonder how long the reverse would remain true.

"Duty can often weigh heavily," Rory agrees, sober and sympathetic. He, who had not been asked whether he would be willing to go to Amber, but merely expected to fulfill his duty to his Master, no matter where that might take him.

"It can and does." she paused, "At times." she added with a smile. "It is of little matter, isn't?" She sighed, "Your Lord detests me and there is little I can do about that and sooner or later my Poppy will cease to have use for me." It was a hollow feeling, to not be needed or wanted. Desired, well, she had not been longed for romantically for so many years, she was fairly certain she wouldn't recognize interest if it bit her upon the nose. "He makes her happy." She added softly, trying to remember what that felt like a million life times ago.

"And she trusts him more than her own blood. While I am sure you are aware, she took a great deal of punishment in Amber because of your Lord… her aunts and uncles too busy in their own little preoccupations to answer her questions. When no one else would speak plainly to her, for good or ill, your Lord did. She paid for it; and the price extorted was not cheap by any means. Perhaps that is the damnedable thing of all of this; the Princess fell in love with the man, not the Lord… the Lord just happens to be a singular aspect of the whole."

The red-haired servant contemplates the maid's words. "I am not aware of what punishments she may have endured already for her choice," he admits after a time. "Were you able to help her with those? I suspect you will always have place with the princess, and she will have need of you for some time to come. When we arrive in Chaos, it is unlikely she and m'lord will be spending every waking moment together. He will have duties and pursuits to attend to, and she will have her own affairs as well."

Desrianne regarded the man at her side for the moment. "Are members of your lot … rather stoic? I dare not say emotionless, but you do not seem moved to a reponse beyond logic in one swing of the pendulum or the other. It is not a stain upon your person, Rory, I just am… perplexed. Could you help me understand?"

He smiles at the woman's words. "One of the desirable characteristics of a person in my position is stoicism," he admits. "Some might even call it fatalism. While there are many things that I cannot influence, I will always have a place in my House. That is often a comfort and a pillar of support in trying times."

"Yes, I can appreciate how that would ease one's soul when the question of the unknown meets one with blade drawn and teeth bared." She too smiled, "Forgive my gallows humor. I feel adrift and alone and we have not yet stepped foot upon your lands. I was supposed to be the rock for the Princess and yet she turns to you and your Lord for guidance and comfort; leaving me to needle-point." Desrianne stared at Rory, "You have no idea how much I loathe needle-pointing. It is wasted on the infirmed and the incompetent," she scowled, then fretted, then simply sighed.

"It will not always be thus, though," Rory points out. "The princess is flush with new love." He smiles reminiscently.

"Ah, yes. Something you will soon be returning home to." Desrianne recalled.

"Somewhat," he agrees. "Though we have not been flush with new love for many Cycles, I will be quite happy to be in my love's presence once more. But we have long been in the comfortable phase of a relationship. Forgive me for being forward, but the princess is experiencing many new things emotionally and physically. I believe you sell both she and yourself short when you say she will soon have no use for you." He still speaks softly, his tone almost gentle in its earnestness.

"She is far more adaptive; and is flush with love and has committed herself to your Lord and his causes til the end." She chuckled, "I feel my age around them," she confesses.

"Yes," Rory agrees. The maid had expressed that in some form several times, but Rory wasn't sure how to address that problem. "Either way, your duty still lies with the princess, so the choice to me seems clear. You would continue your journey to Chaos to see this through, or ask the princess for her leave to return to Amber. She also has a duty to you, to ensure you have a place and that your needs are met insofar as she is able."

Immediately after this assessment, the manservant's expression changes, as though reacting to something that Desrianne can neither see or hear. He nods and stands. "Forgive me, Desrianne, but m'lord has summoned me. It is possible the princess may also desire your presence. Will you accompany me back to the cabin?"

"Of course, Rory." She rose, then hesitated. "They will have… " she coughed, "Concluded…?"

Rory's smile is sympathetic. "Without a doubt. We are not required to serve as audience or witness, Desrianne. In the case such as what happened earlier, m'lord has made it clear that I am permitted to leave even if he has not expressly dismissed me. There are few duties that cannot be postponed."

He gestures to the woman to precede him through the portal and back down the passage to the cabin, at her own speed.

Desrianne smiled, a blush coming to the woman's cheeks that hadn't been rosy in several cycles; likely both out of relief and her naivety. She stepped through the threshold and walked at Rory's side, with much to contemplate and more to consider in how she formed her perspective.

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