In Silver

Margot stirs and slowly sits up, feeling disoriented in the darkness. Bed curtains had been drawn for privacy and warmth, but unfortunately also leaving the young woman in near blackness. Adrenaline kicks in when she finds herself alone and the surroundings foreign, her grogginess quickly fleeing as heart-pounding alertness takes over. But with awareness, memory returns, and she is able to control the impulse to tear open the curtains to find what waited on the other side. Instead, she carefully slipped to the side of the bed and peeked out between a set of bed curtains.

A single lamp glows on a table beyond the thick gold curtain, which was somehow both heavy as a downpour of rain, yet as easy to move aside as a willow branch. Rather, there is a table with a small glowing sphere above it; the twist of what looked like metal shaped into a leafy vine, lying in a circlet below the globe, did not appear very lamp-like. Near the table and bathed by the golden glow, Margot can easily make out one of her young servants waiting. Aelwyn knelt with closed eyes on the floor near enough to the bed to hear any noise. Eyes open and she smiles at the princess.

"Fair Turning, m'lady. How are you feeling?"
"Disoriented, but rested. Thank you for asking, Aelwyn. What ti -" Margot caught herself. "Would you please share with me the -"
She breaks off again, realizing that talking about time as if it were a stream was going to be difficult to adapt to. "Can you tell me the placement of the turning we are currently at?" she asks at last. Uncertainty crosses the abashed princess' brow, and she gives the other woman a humble smile. "I apologize, for I do not know how to ask if it is morning, noon, or night and I fear that such strict concepts are equally foreign to you. So let us try this. What is the next meal to be served?"

Aelwyn's head tips and her eyes widen in mystification. "You wish to be served your first meal?" she questions.

"No…." Margot says, blushing. "I do not wish to eat my first meal. I'm afraid I don't know how to understand … Time's progression. My place was very rigid and easy to follow… even if it was irksome to Lord Kendallarithan at times. I think I will find adjusting to how a day passes here with similar confusion."

Her smile for the servant was both reassuring and comfortable; more if she was speaking with a friend than one of lower station. "Have I been asleep for what you would consider a long progression of—" Margot breaks off once more, and sighs. This was so complicated, and she had no idea if she would understand Aelwyn's perception of 'long' in any event. Nonetheless, she tries once more. "Have I been asleep long?"

Aelwyn stares down at the hands resting on her lap in thought. "You have been asleep for just less five skies," she ventures at last, her voice soft and shy. "That is not long, nor is it short. Lord Kendallarithan returned to his chambers two skies previous. I am sorry I cannot be of more assistance, m'lady. If you are rested, then that is well, and a meal can be brought if you wish. If you are not rested, you should remain until you are. Do you have an upcoming engagement that you need to prepare for?"

"That is an excellent question." Margot grinned, her eyes flickering to the open portal beyond the maid. "I think I will go and find out."

Aelwyn immediately rises to her feet so she can steady the princess as Margot slides from the high bed to the floor. A robe hangs next to the bed, though the means of its suspension is not visible right away, and the servant helps slide filmy fabric over arms. Once secured in the same sensual black fabric as her negligee, Margot approaches the portal and peeks inside in search of her beloved, while the servant stands nearby with the metal circlet that bore the glowing orb.

The room beyond Margot's bedchamber is dark, but Aelwyn's light throws enough illumination to see that the bed curtains had been drawn. Silence reigns, and the princess pauses for a small eternity, uncertain what to do. She did not know if she should wake him, but she longed for him. And they had agreed that open doors meant invitation for the other to enter.

Taking a deep breath, she looks to Aelwyn. "Thank you, Aelwyn, that will be all for the moment."

The servant nods and returns to the bed, carrying the light with her.

Margot exhales slowly as she takes her first step into her lover's chambers and pauses again to search for any sign of Rory; perhaps he could give her an idea of what would be best. As her eyes adjusted to the dimnes, she could see there was no one else in the room, but also that she can navigate without great difficulty. So, gathering her courage, she begins the short journey to the curtained bed.

What was it about this place that seemed so alien? For the most part, the furnishings, servants, and the general environs were all very similar to what Margot was familiar with. Yet that sense of otherness still nagged, like someone lurking behind her shoulders. Maybe it was something as simple as the lava walls, which oozed and flowed like slow, rocky waterfalls in the darkness. Away from the bright lamp in her own room, she is able more and more to pick out the glowing cracks and grooves that revealed the orange, red, and gold of molten rock, somehow contained and harnessed.

Ponderings on the manor are cut short by her arrival at the bedside, which felt like a long ways from the door where she had entered. It was a long walk through unfamiliar dimness towards an unknown reception with questions bubbling in her mind. But when finally she timidly pushes the curtains open a few inches, the dim light reveals just more darkness. Before she can push the curtains open any farther, a very familiar voice interrupts the stillness of the room with a quiet, "Hello, Margot."

"I am sorry for waking you… or intruding…" she begins softly. "But the door was open and Aelwyn stated that you had returned and I just wanted to see if you were resting peacefully."

Her words were barely above a whisper. "I must have been a terrible clod crossing the distance to your bed. Did I wake you?" He did not need to see the pained expression to know that she was overwrought with guilt and embarrassment and concern for his well-being.

He chuckles quietly as he moves closer to the edge of the bed, rustling the fabric as he pushes the curtain aside. The distant glow from Margot's room reveals the outline of his face, and he extends a hand to help her up. "It is a very rare thing for me to remain asleep when someone enters my bedchamber," he explains. "Rory alone holds enough familiarity."

She accepts his hand and slides into the secluded space, her free hand drawing the bed curtains closed behind her. "Then I truly am sorry for waking you, Kendall."

Once free of the heavy fabric, her fingers traced the strong features of his face. "I do not know how to equate how long I have slept, or for that matter, how long it has been since you returned. Aelwyn mentioned something about two turns and five passings. I am still fatigued, but I also feel restless and … insecure." The last word fumbles from her lips as if not the word she wanted but the only one that came to mind.

"It took me several days to become accustomed to sleeping at the dormitory; almost twice as many at Castle Amber. I fear I will suffer the most dreadful case of insomnia for a length of time that I cannot even begin to fathom, let alone articulate." Her tone, despite her words, was warm and contented; pleased, and at ease. Light was not needed to see the warmth in her eyes or the love in her smile.

"Unfamiliar surroundings can be troubling and unsettling," he agrees, moving the blankets so she can snuggle in closer. She can feel his bare skin against her hands, and he caresses her through the filmy fabric of her night dress. "The amount of time you slept has less meaning here. Sleep when you are tired, eat when you are hungry, and other things occur as opportunity affords. Rest here with me for a time, and if you decide against sleeping longer, you may decide to do something else."

His warmth was all the temptation she required. Beneath the cover of black and the heavy decadence of blankets, Margot encourages Kendall to assist her in discarding the unnecessary fabric. Once she matched he in the absence of garments, Margot's body easily snakes around Kendall's much as the Rhercyn's conduit once did on his arm. Almost instantly, all stress melts away with the garments and once more the Princess found herself the closest she believed she'd ever come to true peace.

It had been quite a while since she had been anything other than miserable, sickened by close passage on the Black Road that was anathema to those whose energy lay close to Amber. It had been just as long since he had been able to set aside responsibility and duty for his own pleasures. And there is something incredibly enticing about the darkness, as lips and bodies press together and then part, never with sure knowledge of where the next caress or ill-placed elbow might land. Perilous and delicious, it doesn't take much for the lovers to rediscover their passion.

Sands of time trickle through the hour glass as lovers twist and contort, eager to please and be pleased. Giggles and groans, mews and moans, an endless aria of sounds seemed trapped within the sumptuous fabric walls. Only after what seemed an eternity did a sigh escape the Princess and her lips smear affection along the small of her Lord's lower back.

Kendall shivers at the caress, relaxing against rumpled blankets to float on a gentle sea of satiation. Her fingers drew his sweat in gentle whorls across his back while tendrils of hair teased his skin. Eventually, though, he turns onto his side so he can reach down to grab her wrist and pull her up to lie against him. Sweat and kisses in the blackness. "Your identity has been duly verified," he remarks after a time. She can hear amusement in his voice.

"Blessed be! I was concerned there may be questions brought forth," she returns with mirth riding a sigh. Her body continues to entangle his, drawing him closer to enjoy the scent of their bond and the taste of his exertion. "I suppose it is too much to ask that we banish the servants and spend the day in utter indulgence?" Margot's fingers crawled his spine, tattooing him as her smile brush against his lips.

"Hmm…" he says as he ponders, his tone reflecting the sound of someone hearing a very enticing suggestion. "That is a very fine idea, my sweet. We have yet to enjoy such a thing together. Consider it done."

Kendall's reply is met with silence and stillness. The only thing to be heard was Margot's breathing and pounding heart. Several moments pass before a small voice cut through the black. "Truly? Just like that?" Eagerness climbed over anticipation and rose to the peak of elation as she awaited his confirmation. Words which undoubtedly would flow if it were not for her claiming his mouth as hers forevermore.

"Truly," he agrees, controlling his mirth with difficulty. "Barring a summons by someone who outranks me, of course. But otherwise, I have nothing on my agenda. Have you?"

"You are my agenda," she declares with playful authority. "I must confess… initially I had come to you to discover if there were any obligations I must attend to…" Margot pounces, rolling him over atop her. "And I am glad to find that my duties are quite singular."

"Mmm-hmm," he agrees. Words fade for a time, but eventually they both come back up for air. "Hopefully I will never be merely a duty for you, nor you for me."

Margot laughs, a delighted, joyful sound muffled by heavy fabric. "Never!" Her tone sobers to a whisper against his lips. "For as long as I live."

Time is lost that is not tracked, and in the blackness of the curtained bed, it was easy to lose track. Laughter and quiet conversation fade to kisses and sighs of desire. Eventually, though, they sleep once more, only to wake again to cravings that are satisfied with the same enthusiasm. Like being on vacation, this was the first that Kendall had been completely free of obligation, or in a place where things ran themselves as efficiently as expected. There was no particular need for him to be anywhere, and so he settles in to enjoy himself as thoroughly as possible.


Yet they do find their way to the bathing room, after a time, and from there to table. The lovers had selected a low couch so the food was easily accessible, with a view of a slowly passing floating island. Birds could be seen flying amongst the trees, and with the window - or whatever it was - opened to the balcony breezes, the sounds of wildlife and the sea accompanied their repast.

Their meals consisted of delicacies from the stores in the manor and the bounties of the shadow. There was much fish and other swimming things, both raw and cooked, with sauces and spreads and a clear mellow wine faintly tinged orange. Margot gravitated toward the berries, fruits and other plant-forms. Still, true to her form, she sampled everything; finding the pungent taste of the Pzyka fish reminiscent of the scent of decay found in the slums her mother used to take her to when they provided charity. Still, the wine was fresh and the raw Oygrak slices were succulent to the point of addictive. When she had her fill, she replenished both glasses of wine before moving toward the balcony to take in the exotic view.

Kendall is more relaxed and at ease than Margot had ever seen him, teasing her and smiling often as they play first in bed, then in the water, and finally make their way to table. He is playful, caressing and kissing her often as they lie together, feeding each other bites of food. And he lies indolently on the couch as the princess rises to find her way out to the balcony of woven metal.

The texture of the balcony beneath her feet presses soothingly against her skin, massaging and relaxing even as she stood in the cool air above the crashing green surf. The ocean pounds against the cliff with fury, and though the one visible moon hangs above the horizon, it was obscured by the moving islands. Kendall leans over to pick up another slice of Oygrak, watching her and the way the filmy black robe outlined her figure.

She hadn't bothered secure the robe, letting the wind blow it open and swirl around her form. Leaning against the metal rail, Margot takes in the exotic beauty she was now calling home. The call of the birds flying above drew her eyes this way and that until she feels completely mesmerized by the glory surrounding her.

He picks up the second goblet and has a drink, then sets it aside and rolls onto his back. "Brisbane was summoned back to the main Ways," he mentions offhandedly. There's a pause, and he adds, "Thought you might care to know."

She turns quickly. "So soon?" she walked back from the banister and to his side. "Is this customary?" Her concern was genuine, as she had grown quite fond of his uncle.

"It's always possible," Kendall answers, appearing unworried. "I am not privy to details; just that he decided to depart. It's possible my father wanted a report, or some other concern arose that merited his attention."

Margot takes his unconcerned response as a good sign, so answers with a relieved smile. "Kendall… I have a question," she begins, changing the subject. The irony of what she was about to ask drew her lips wider as she sits upon the floor at his side, her transparent robe barely clinging to her shoulders and her body hardly covered by the flimsy armor.

"Dara said I could dress as I pleased; conformity was a non issue," the princess says. "But she also said that homage or likeness to one of the Houses without permission would be a grave faux pas. When I first met your mother and your uncle and your sister, I was dressed in the rigid style that my mother favored me in. Yet, it seems that you proudly maintained your customary style when you visited Amber. There was a saying I learned at the Academy: When in Rome, do as the Romans. So I wonder, what would be the appropriate thing for me to wear? I would like to commission some pieces and am afraid I do not know what is acceptable or what would not cast me in an unfavored light."

Kendall takes a handful of small, red nuts from a bowl, eating them one at a time while Margot asks her questions. "There are a few things at work here," he begins his answer. "First, there is no one good answer. What might be inappropriate with one House could be a compliment to or from another. It just depends on the circumstances. The seamstresses will know far more about what is acceptable than I; when you tell them what effect you want to achieve, they will assist and advise. Wear what you wish, what will make you feel comfortable and empowered. The rest will attend to itself."

"You are most confounding when you speak in riddles!" she teases, stealing a nut from his palm and lifting the goblet to her lips. She pauses for a quick sip before she continues. "How can you compartmentalize everything and still be so ambiguous?! Alright, what would be appropriate for meeting your family in a formal capacity? I'd rather do away with all he corsets and layers, especially if the rest of Chaos is as warm as Silver."

He has to resist his first, most obvious answer, eating a nut while pausing to think of a different tack. "I suggest you first think to yourself what sort of effect or image you would like to convey. This could be just for this one meeting, or overall. What is your goal? To impress? To reassure? Intimidate or entice? But ultimately, clothing and a style with which you are comfortable will be the best place to start. It will put you in a position of mental strength."

Margot ponders his words, trying to suss out a shred of meaning that would help guide her in a way that will help her determine what it is that she will wear for her stay in Chaos. Deciding that she would require far more assistance than a man's eye, no matter how fastidious, she moved on to another topic, shifting to stroke his hair. "I've never seen you so at peace. It is … nice to see the stress and strain and tension banished from your face."

He smiles a little, amused. "Thank you, Margot. But you are changing the subject."

"So I am," she agrees, returning his smile. "As a man, it seemed that the conversation of fashion would be of little use, so I will seek out guidance from others of the fairer gender." By her tone there was little doubt she was teasing him, especially given how impeccably he always presented himself. As if to add playful insult to injury she mussed his hair further beore sliding atop him as a blanket. "I have been told men are useless in such things."

"With questions of fashion? That may be," he says, reaching up to run fingers through his mussed hair in unbreakable habit. "My chief interest in what women wear is that they are well displayed for my enjoyment. But is that not also the desire from a woman's standpoint, in terms of what men wear?"

"I suppose, but I will not speak for other women - only myself. And I have been fortunate to be in the company of a man who cares deeply about his appearance. Yet, that is hardly the overriding force that drives me to him." She smiles, pressing a kiss to his lips.

"And perhaps it is something as simple as me not wording the question correctly," she says suddenly. "If it is merely a task of finding something pretty to don, that is simple enough. However, something tells me that much like everything else, one's appearance holds greater meaning that what lies upon the surface."

"Mmm," he agrees, caressing her back under the covering of filmy robe and curly hair as lips paint kisses on her chin and neck. "But there is more to it than that," he continues after a time, resting his head against the couch so he can look at her again. "This has less to do with prevailing fashion and more to do with you. In here." He moves one hand around to press index finger to her heart.

"Well…" she begins, on hand stroking the arm attached to the finger at her heart. "There are many things that I am and many more that I wish to convey to the world. Equally, there are things I wish to mask from the world to the best of my ability. I am young, and so I wish to wear something that flatters my energy without portraying naivety. I believe I am strong and want others to see that, too."

A smile blooms. "Of course… I do wish to be appealing and captivating to the eye - especially to a certain Lord's - but I do not wish to look flamboyant, or trashy, or as if I am trying too hard to 'blend'. I wish to honor the traditions and show my gratitude for hospitality and … guidance. Yet I am still unique, as an individual who appreciates the House she has ties to."

He listens, smiling a little again, encouraging. "Yes, very good. So then, when you meet with the seamstresses to discuss your clothing, you will begin there. But there is more. You believe yourself strong. What else do you believe about yourself? Who are you, Margot?"

"Who am I?" she repeats with a wistful tone. "That is an excellent question."

She shifts, moving to her side to snuggle against him and still be face to face. "Passionate, driven by conviction, loyal to you," she smiles, brushing his lips with hers to allow a few moments of affection distract her or perhaps allow her to think of other attributes. "I possess endurance and stamina and do not care to be defeated. I am curious… sometimes overly curious. I am eloquent and appear far more delicate than I am. I am as brave as I am foolish… the two easily confused at times. In Chaos, I am an unknown quantity; fresh and assumed easily managed and manipulated. I am also exotic in my own unique, singular way. I will fight when required, but prefer the gentler side of negotiation, conversation and mediation. I am eager to learn… sometimes too eager. I am your companion… and I love you deeply."

Again, she kisses him, "I am determined to the point at times of being stubborn. And in the end, I am Princess of Amber, a good will ambassador… and perhaps even the genesis of House Barimen. Though only, of course, with the correct backing and vetting by allies which need to be made."

"Yes, and no," he says at the last, completely serious throughout her recitation. "You are who you are, regardless of who supports, backs, agrees, or disagrees with you."

Margot's expression softens, her fingers moving to tangle in his hair. "I know, Kendall. The last was in jest. I just find talking about myself in such a manner… awkward. That is not to say I do not believe every word and more about who I am and what I represent; it is just difficult to boast about such things and not sound pompous."

She studies his expression, her eyes losing much of the mirth that had shown previously, only to be replaced with a very different glow; one of a fiery soul. "I am Princess… and with the exception of my uncle, possibly the last survivor of the Barimen line. It does not matter whether all of Chaos believes me to be less than a scullery maid; this is who I am and I refuse to be anything less than that. I have my honor and my heart and my desires and my duties… I will be true to all of who and what I am. No one, not even your parents nor the future King of Chaos may strip me of that."

He nods, expression still intense and serious. "Yes. Because that is what you will need, Margot, to survive here. That is what I mean when I say you have to Know. It isn't enough to know it inside yourself; you must always present yourself as someone who knows who she is and where she's going. Never, ever, forget this, not even with those whom you trust. Not even with me. It is what the Lady Dara is seeking from you; strength of spirit and confidence in your vision. It is what everyone in Chaos will search for when they meet you. It does not matter at all if you have nothing of material worth. When you know, deep within, who you are and where you are rooted, nothing will be able to topple you."

"I am uncertain of my environment, but not of who I am," she says in tone of certainty, and her manner becomes serious. "This I promise you. I did not make light of the decision to follow you, and I was more than aware of the risks that lay ahead. Regardless of my personal feelings for you, my purpose for coming to Chaos is my own. When it is time to formally make my presence known and identity revealed, there will be no questions or doubts that I am exactly where I belong."

"Very good," he says, his tone like that of a person hearing what he wants to hear, but not yet certain of something. "Then I will tell you, it does not matter what you wear when you meet my parents."

Her gaze wavers, falling to his chest for a few moments as she contemplates his answer. "No, it does not," she agrees at last, her eyes rising to return his gaze once more. "I will present myself in the image that best conveys with whom they are meeting, with the carriage and confidence befitting a Princess, and one worthy of their son's companionship and admiration."

Kendall nods once more. "Yes. Dress in whatever pleases you. If others take offense, then that is dealt with as needed."

His almost fierce expression softens, becoming more pensive. "You are at a disadvantage," he acknowledges, reaching over to caress her cheek, voice quiet and more gentle. "You do not have a strong House to support you, as I do. I am Chanicut, and I am Kendall. That is all which is needed. You will have to be stronger, more fierce, more stalwart. You are House Barimen, if you choose it. But if you choose it, LIVE it. BREATHE it. Do not say, you are House Barimen only if others allow it or if it assists you or is convenient. You ARE, if you claim it with ferocity and passion. And I know you have passion, Margot."

A warm expression crosses her face, almost trapped between bemused and philosophical. "But, I do have a strong House…. even if its membership is highly exclusive. An old House; one that needs youth, vitality, and conviction to restore it. And the people of Chaos will come to realize its return in due time."

Once more, silent confidence rides the tidal wave of words while determination burns within mirthful eyes. "And as House Barimen, I believe it is time for me to entertain my first… audience." She sits up and offers him her hands. "Come with me to the balcony and explain the wonders that dance before my eyes."


Kendall takes her hand in his, standing up to join her outside. He follows her outside with goblet in hand, comfortable in nothing but his skin in the stolen light of the moon peeking from behind the island. As he moved effortlessly without garment, she too, shed her robe and joined him skyclad under the brilliant sky. Allowing the heavier topic to drop, he points to the island that floated on what looked like a supporting layer of black cloud.

"Each island has its own life, its own balance," he begins. "There are five islands, all of significant size, and each one commemorates or memorializes an event in the history of my House. Or, rather, the life of one of my ancestors."

Margot's attention is rapt as he begins his explanation. "Surely you've had more than five predecessors since the birth of the House," she questions. "Why are these five significant?"

"Five events for one woman," he clarifies, curling one arm around her waist. "Her name was Rachana, and was six times my grandmother. She was a… whimsical woman, or so we are led to believe. Each island memorializes five significant battles and the enemies she vanquished, with each island consisting of a portion of the shadow where it was fought. One of the Houses she defeated was utterly destroyed."

"Which House was that?" Margot inquires, a lover of history and tales of battle and victory. She did not care for the gore that Dara would surely spew, but to learn of the anthropology and history that had formed events to the present… this was something she found extremely intriguing.

"House Ikshu, a small but very ambitious House. She took them to task for attempting to create an alliance against Chanicut and topple our influence." He squints at the island. Though large, it was far enough away that details could be lost.

"That may be the Ikshu Island," he adds. "The Shadow where the House was laid to waste was called Sken, and it became one of our holdings in the Black Zone. Tis a verdant shadow, full of jungles and rivers and beautiful flowers. Would you care for one?"

"We could go there, now?" Margot inquires, eyes shining with adventure and head nodding at his offer of a gift.

"Twould be much more challenging for you, though not impossible if given time for arrangements to be made. I could retrieve one for you now, though," he says, looking down at her.

"Alright. But, I do wish to see this lush shadow in the near future and enjoy its exquisite beauty with my own eyes," she answers, claiming his goblet for hers and sipping from it with a coquettish smile.

He nods and then turns to encircle her with both arms, his one hand now empty. He leans in to kiss her. "Agreed. We can visit all five, though the Island Zariya is generally an inhospitable place. We can take a picnic and enjoy a lengthy visit for each one."

"I would like that very much. I would love to learn of the tales that brought each of these islands to life and the woman that vanquished her opponents. But, mostly, I would enjoy hiding away with you." She returns his affection with a press of her body against his and an invitation for greater attention.

Kendall is not at all adverse to getting closer, lifting her higher in his arms for ease of kissing. "Flower now, my sweet? Or do you wish to be deflowered first?" he asks teasingly, already turning to move back indoors.

"I will leave such a serious and delicate answer to your best judgement," she replies, fighting to maintain a stoic and serious affectation.

He smirks, but then recovers a serious expression as they pass through the doorway and return to the bowl-shaped, cushiony couch. "My judgment is poor when it comes to you," he replies.

The playfulness fades as Margot studies her lover. "Why do you believe that?"

He blinks, not having intended for his comment to kill the mood. He leans over just enough so that her feet return to the floor. "Ah… because my goals are in conflict. There is a question of what is good for me, and what is good for you."

Her arms remain around his shoulders, her body warm against his. Margot searches his eyes, compassion and hope an aura about her even as her tone remains neutral. "Are you so certain they are at odds with one another?"

"I am certain there are paths yet considered, but… that is not the immediate issue," she changes the subject. "The current matter of interest is whether a blossom is to be delivered from the mysterious island beyond or if this delicate rose will enjoy the sensual mischief of the handsome butterfly…"

Margot wrinkles her nose in thought as she weighs the options. "A kiss, then off with you," she declares at last with a wave of her hand. "And you will find me here, awaiting your return."

His smile returns and one eyebrow quirks. "Just a kiss?"

He leans in, taking her lips with his and beginning the test to see how long one kiss could last. Hands take minds of their own as mouths dance with prurient delight. Every time she tasted him, she wanted more of him. He alone was an aphrodisiac; taunting and savoring and completely giving over to the sensation of their closeness and the affection and desire left unspoken.

Hands and arms bring bodies together as they return to the coach for more caresses. But eventually, even that one long kiss must come to its end or move into other realms. He smiles up at her as they lay nose to nose. "I believe I have an errand to see to…"

She giggles and then steals one last nibble before rising, dragging him to his feet. "Indeed you do."

She sneaks behind him, wrapping her hands around his torso to rest against his chest, her lips warm against his back. "Is there anything that you desire upon your return?" she asks as she nuzzles against the dip between his shoulder blades.

He pats her hips, just about the only thing he can reach with her behind him without doing something different with his arms. He walks over to the balcony, and once she releases him, climbs up to stand on the railing. Below, a sheer drop led to the thundering surf and craggy rocks.

"I may be tired when I return," he admits. "I have done very little shifting recently. Before the Rhercyn, it had been a very long visit in Amber."

"Please…. Kendall… be careful." Margot hadn't noticed their height before, more interested in what lay against the horizon. "Are you certain…?"

She stares up at him, gnawing her lower lip before resolve returns to her. After all, he wouldn't dare attempt something so dangerous and splendidly magnificent if there was real and considerable threat to his person…. right? A smile returns to her face.

"If you are tired upon your return, then I will tend to you and see that your energy is fully restored."

He looks down at her with the most boyish grin she had seen on him yet, and then he dives.

It had been a long, long, ever so long time since he had occasion to do something so breathtaking, and for a few brief heartbeats he simply enjoys the sense of free fall with the wind rushing past and the surf rushing closer. The rocks below reach up to grasp him like stony fingers, but before he reaches their deadly points, the changes come over him.

White light from the rising moon shimmers against blue features and glints from a beak of shining black as wings catch the wind and swing him upwards in a sudden swoop. Wings flap, and he turns to glide past the balcony, looking something like a giant raptor — a golden eagle perhaps — with feathers of blue shading to aqua. He tips his head to Margot as he passes, who stands rigid with an expression of mixed terror and pride, before flying off towards his destination.


Quick, lithe, nimble. Hot air ruffles feathers in a familiar, welcoming sound. The island is not so distant on the wings of a bird, and the Chaos Lord's powerful wings carry him there quickly, but not directly.

For there was dancing to be done, too, there amongst the thermals and the uneven winds of the shadow of Silver. The black clouds supporting each island created their own air patterns, cross currents and eddies that at one heartbeat worked in harmony with the surroundings, and the next caused chaos in the wind and water. It was perfect for his first flight in such a while, and he takes time to enjoy himself, soaring low to skim the clouds beneath and feel the currents pull and play before flying high, very high above the island Ikshu and spiraling down in an exhilirating dive. Viney trees and rock-strewn rivers beckon, but he wings upward again, molding his body again into a sleeker, more angular flyer, one that can dart and twist amongst trees and through branches with ease. How long he did that, making adjustments midair as needed, was irrelevent. Time was an ally today, and there was no worry or hurry.

Eventually, though, muscles are thoroughly stretched and warmed. He feels again one with the wind as he had not for an entire Cycle at the least. He banks, spins, snaps beak on a passing creature that happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. Gliding over the trees with sharp vision as he crunched his prey, it's not long before he finds the patch of flowers he had selected before while criss-crossing the island in his own games. Landing is grace of a leaf on water, and he doesn't even bother to change to gather the items he had come for since a sharp beak could cut through the tough stalks easily enough.

Four cuts. Six flowers bend and slouch, supported by the surrounding greenery. He puts them together with one talon, holds them in his beak, and launches himself back into the air. Wings flap heavily as he drives himself upward, muscles burning with life and effort, until he can look down again at all he surveyed. Flowers hang like heavy-headed dolls from his beak, and he turns a lazy circle over the island and the green ocean below before banking once more for his return to the manor.

***

Rory bows again as Margot passes and then departs to the sitting room, leaving Margot alone to welcome her lover back with his prizes. On the balcony, she can see the bird with vibrant blue plumage returning through the clear light. Several stalks hang from his beak, visible as a splash of color next to silvery grey and blue. With bird before her and island beyond, the moon now much higher, Margot can see it easily against the backdrop of the sky as another bird dives from above straight to Kendall like a red bullet, seeming to dive from the heart of the moon itself. Borrowing vision and reflexes of another creature, the blue bird banks and twists abruptly, losing altitude but avoiding the diving bird. Together, they dive towards the rocks below.

The smile vanishes from her lips as she watches helpless as another bird dives for her lover.Fingers tighten around the metal finials; she can feel her heart blocking her throat so no scream may be heard. Many times Margot had to remind herself to breath as she waited, watching intently, wondering who would dare strike a blow against the Lord of the Manor.

Whatever strange communication might occur between avian cousins on the air, within heartbeats both birds had swooped out of their dives, rising into the air again as one. Kendall's wings flap loudly, a much wider wingspan carrying his much larger mass aloft while the red bird follows behind like a tiny shadow. Together, they glide to the balcony where the blue bird breaks momentum with a mighty flapping of wings while the red bird glides in idle circles above. The blue body melts and molds itself into a new shape once more, feathers and talons receding, wings slimming into arms with hands. Stalks of several bright flowers in his beak are quickly transferred to a shifted hand before the avian feathers and head are reformed into the familiar countenance of Kendall.

Margot waited long enough to see the warmed cheek before leaning in and touching his lips with hers, careful not to crush the breath-taking bouquet. "These are stunning and you were breath-taking…" she purred between kisses. Inevitably, she withdrew, her attention being distracted by the crimson bird that circled the balcony. "A bath awaits you, Kendall; as do refreshments to replenish your energy." her arm slid around his waist, molding her body to his. "You must tell me of these love flowers and of your journey…" she began, leading him inside. "I must admit that watching you made me want to take to the skies myself and I felt a terrible twinge of envy that I was not able to experience your elation and adventure."

Her smile remained, as did her soothing tone; though she could not help but turn her attention back toward the balcony to see if the hunter would be joining them. "Sulwyn delivered the most fascinating vase, once belonging to the Duchess and created after one of her victories. These will be beautiful within its safe guardianship."

He smiles down at her with warmth, returning her kisses of greeting before presenting the flowers to her. But though she invites him in, he holds back. "Thank you, Margot," he says. "That was quite thoughtful, and these should last quite some time in one of Rachana's vases. But I'm afraid my tale will have to wait for a time. I have been summoned." Having surrendered the flowers to her, he holds up one arm as an invitation to the red bird.

"As you wish," she relents peaceably. "Will you require -" Her question is cut short by the bird's quick arrival. It swoops over and backwings to a delicate landing on Kendall's arm, where talons cut into his skin so that blood snakes past its grip and drips to the metal floor of the balcony. It looks rather like a bird of paradise from her home, except… not exactly. The plumage and color and size are similar, with a much longer neck covered in spikey feathers, and the yellow eye is that of an old, cantankerous soul rather than the pert eye of the birds she was familiar with.

Margot fought not to look at the pooling blood, or to show her overwhelming concern for her loved one. This was one of the times when his advice came to haunt her. You are a Princess of Amber. You are House Barimen. Live it. Breathe it. And so, her composure remained relaxed, despite the knotting of her stomach. Instead, she draws the bouquet to her nose and breathes deeply to hide any falter in her gaze.

"I believe Rory is in the sitting room should you require him," she says as the flapping settles. Once more, she meets Kendall's eyes with her own, a window to her very soul and all that she felt in that moment - love, trust, loyalty, faith, concern, worry, desire. The tempest is filled with electricity far beyond the greatest lightening strike. Then, her gaze shifts to the ancient soul masquerading as a beautiful creature. Honoring the presence of someone who sat above her station, she inclined her head slightly, enough to show respect without revealing cowardice.

"You will find me in my chambers when your time is once more yours to command." Once more, she moved toward him, opposite side of the bird, and pressed affection to his cheek. "Summon me should you require anything that I may provide."

Kendall himself seems to give the bird a certain wary respect, not holding it close to his body. But he reaches for her hand before she move away, the motion off-balancing the bird and causing it to flap and squawk. It levels a baleful look at her. "Wait, Margot," he says, ignoring the bird's discomfort. "You need not leave just yet. I must prepare, yes, and cannot dawdle. But I am certainly not going to see my mother in this state."

A bemused expression brightened the princess' face, her eyes twinkling. "No, I suppose not. Then please excuse me," she adds. Without releasing her beloved's hand, she turns to call to her own servant. "Aelwyn, please take these flowers and arrange them in the vase at the bedside."

Aelwyn appears at Margot's summons, pausing to curtsey at the door separating the two suites. The bird lifts one foot and begins to licks the blood from its talons with a long, thin tongue, and the servant's eyes travel from Lady to bird to Lord and to flowers before she averts her gaze and moves foward to accept her charge. She walks quickly to take the flowers and retreat from the room.

"They are marvelous. More beautiful than I had ever imagined," Margot adds as she brings his hand to her lips, kissing his palm.

Kendall smiles, looking pleased. "Good. You will certainly enjoy a tour of the jungle as well. There are many more, like those and others."

"You shouldn't meet your mother with waning energy. And perhaps a more secure perch can be provided for your mother's messenger so you can enjoy a bath? Rory may assist you if you wish, or lay out your clothes as I assist you. A quick bite or three and then you will be in proper form to greet your mother with the attentiveness due the Lady of House Chanicut."

"Thank you, Margot. You need not fret," he says. He moves around Margot toward the doorway back into the chamber, causing the bird to return both talons to its perch and fan its tail for stability. "Rory!" he calls for his manservant.

"Then I will not," she answers smoothly, selecting a handful of sausages and some of the pungent cheese with flat bread and the honeyed nectar to place on a plate for her lover. "Did you enjoy your travels?"

Rory appears as she asks her question, and upon seeing the bird, immediately approaches to offer his arm as an alternate perch. But the bird squawks as the other man nears, the sound reminiscent of a thick sheaf of paper being torn in half. It hops farther up Kendall's arm toward his shoulder rather than over to the servant and flaps its wings, such antics causing the Chaosian to frown.

"Gandu, chev qrit," Kendall says, reaching over to take hold of the talons and unseat it. The bird snaps at his fingers, biting him, and he scowls, but he still manages to remove the bird. Rather than going to Rory, though, the creature launches itself from his hand and flies to the bed to perch on the canopy, squawking.

Rory ducks as the bird flies past, and Kendall puts bleeding fingers to his lips. "He's upset about something," he comments, to which Rory nods. The lord waves his free hand to his servant, and turns to Margot again.

"Yes, my flight was quite enjoyable," he answers her question from before. He offers his arm to her. "I'm off to have a quick bath. Join me?"

Margot takes his uninjured arm, and they both depart, leaving the matter of the discontented bird to Rory.

"I am very glad you enjoyed yourself," she answers as they walk. "It was wonderful to see you depart and heart-warming to see your return." She avoids mentioning how worried she was when the second bird arrived and attacked, instead trying to push the vision out of her mind.

Once in the bathing area, she disrobes and waits for Kendall's assistance into the bath. She was utterly fascinated as to how warm the water had remained; wondering if the heat from the lava was somehow involved. Once submerged, Margot reached for something that looked like a hybrid of a sponge and loofa and began to work some of the cleansing oils into his shoulders and back. There was a contented peace about her; it was so rare when he allowed her to care for him as he had for her in the past.

"The blossoms, do they have names?" she continues, smoothing warm water over his shoulders and trying to massage latent tension away from his body. She suspected that his mother would be difficult to please - not unlike her own in some ways - and therefore, stress would begin to seep in despite his resolve and mastery of his form.

"Do they possess any symbolism or meaning beyond their exquisite beauty? Some blossoms in my home Shadow held such significance." Her tone remains light and curious, rather than what one would expect of someone fishing for a nibble of hope that there was something beyond the opportunity for him to fly and bring back something beautiful.

"Ah… Hmm…" he ponders the answer to her question, leaning forward in the water so she can more easily attend to his bath. He caresses her legs, which lay around him under the water and were the only parts of her within easy reach. "I remember having some lessoning about the flowers on the Island Ikshu, but truly, I remember finding it all incredibly dull. One of my tutors was gifted with the ability to make any subject completely lifeless. But I do remember that the ball-like flowers with the red berries were ones that my ancestress particularly enjoyed. She would on some occasions have entire bushels harvested from the shadow for display."

She smiles at his answer. "Then I am most delighted that they will rest on my nightstand to be the last thing I see before I slumber and the first thing I see when I wake."

Margot continues her ministrations, finishing as much as she could reach of his back before slipping around to his front to continue her tending. "How dreadful to have such a tutor. I also had instructors, in Shadow of course, that droned until a person was forced to go on mental holidays lest they fall asleep before everyone."

He chuckles quietly with her at the shared experience of learning made dull. Though not inquisitive in quite the same way that Margot was, he was possessed of a natural curiosity that had occasionally gotten him into trouble.

One hand smoothed the lather while the other gently buffed his chest and arms. By now, the marred flesh had become a memory, nothing left to remind her of the horrible way he was treated by the bird. "Is there someone among the staff here who could tell me more about the blossoms?"

Kendall bends one leg so he might scrub the calf, ankle, and foot. "Old Gerren, possibly. She has been here in Silver since long before I was even born, and if any, would know everything that even you, my questioning one, would think to inquire about. She has been assigned to attend to the Lady Dara's needs, but you should be able to, ah, borrow her, should you desire." He smiles to himself at the idea.

"Oh, what a marvelous idea!" Margot exclaims, clearly excited to learn more about the flora. One leg massaged and washed, then the next, before she turned her attention to more intimate places to cleanse. A delicate hand, gentle and firm, attended him while the other arm snaked his shoulders. A rumbling purr emerges from his chest as she touches him, but he also stays on task… as tempting as it was to do otherwise.

"Is it common for your mother to send summons through … Gandu?" she inquired, her pronunciation was almost, but not quite accurate.

"Yes, depending on the nature of the summons," he answers. "She sends Gandu to me when she wants a visit, rather than a formal audience. He is… playful, I suppose, in his own special style. Though he is upset today, and more troublesome. Usually he appears to like Rory, insofar as Gandu can be said to like anyone. I suspect Rory has learned of some special morsel the bird likes, and uses that to gain his tolerance."

"What do you suspect is upsetting Gandu?" she asks, pressing a kiss to his lips before slipping behind him once more, this time tipping his body to recline so she may wash his hair. Margot couldn't help but be grateful that she had at least the thin filmy night gown and her hair intricately done for his arrival; hopefully her appearance was more appropriate than some high priced courtesan. That he was not shy with affection and wanted her to stay banished a great deal of her doubt.

"I don't know…" he answers slowly, looking up at her with a thoughtful frown on his face. Clearly he was still pondering the question on some level beyond their light conversation. "There are a number of possibilities, from not liking you to not caring for me anymore. Gandu is quite sensitive."

"I don't know how long I'll be gone from here," he adds after a breath. "Time is variable within the ways, so you may want to dress and find some adventure to keep yourself occupied while I'm gone." His frown disappears into his faint smile. "But you should keep your hair up for my return."

"And perhaps your mother is just eager to see her son returned safely that she impressed upon him the importance of you agreeing to the summons, no matter how informal it may be." Margot doubted that it was an informal affair, regardless of how Kendall attempted to spin the circumstance. She also wasn't pleased with the thought of a bird finding her distasteful without even having formal introductions.

"Oh," Kendall chuckles. "I haven't any say in the matter in any event. When our parents call us, we answer quickly, or explain why we did not."

Fingers continued to massage his scalp, seeing that his head was free of tension and his locks were cleaned. Once completed, she gently cupped water in he hand to smooth away the suds.

She smiles once more. "Well, my hair will be as you see it whence you return. And I have already sent for the seemstress, Desrianne and Dara. You have little to fear about whether I am occupied until you return. Though-" She pauses, uncertainty returning. "Where do the boundaries end for me? Within the Manor's halls? Just beyond the lava garden to the sea? Any of the islands?"

He returns the favor of rinsing her off, careful not to disturb her very elaborate hair do. "You may travel anywhere in Silver you wish. There is mainland out of sight beyond the horizon to z'enth, and the islands of course." He pauses as he considers her unique abilities while standing up to climb out of the basin. Water streams from his body and he holds out a hand to assist her on the wet rocks.

"Please do remain within the shadow for the nonce, however," he requests. "And if there are places in the manor here that you should not explore, the staff will let you know. The ways can be tricky, and you will need someone of Chanicut to guide you, or you will get lost… or worse."

"I had no intention of leaving this shadow, at least, not without you." she confesses, "And I am certain that Dara will have me quite busy without any chance to enjoy the miracles of Silver." She continued with a heaved sigh, She was silent as she worked the water from his hair and back. "It's good to know that the expectation of parents for their children's immediate and unquestionable acceptance is not so different…"

Kendall waits until she is done with her ministrations, and then leads the way back to the door returning to the bedchamber. Inside, bird and servant are no longer in sight, though it would appear that Rory had enough time to select something suitable for Kendall to wear.

The Lord gives Margot a puzzled look as they walk, trying to decipher what she was getting at. She had apparently said something he thought odd, at the least.

"What is it my Heart?" Margot asked, moving to assist Kendall into his clothing.

"What is good about such a thing?" he asks, then immediately looks dissatisfied with that question and shakes his head. "I see, you're accustomed to much less structure."

"OH…." Margot chuckled, wrapping in her robe before holding up Kendall's shirt for him to slide into. "No, no. I just meant that not everything is completely foreign. Your mother expects immediacy when she sends word of her desires for audience… so, does mine. I found the similarity both … interesting and amusing. I'm not certain what I would expect, or why I would expect anything other than what is… but there is a certain… comfort in the fact that there is at least one thing I can understand and appreciate on a personal level without knowing your mother or your relationship with her."

"Mmm," he says. "I see, I think. Good. I want you to be comfortable here, Margot."

He falls silent, focusing on the image in the mirror as the ensemble starts to come together, his attention drifting to other things.

"I do not think that will be an issue," Margot reassures, stepping away as Kendall falls silent, preparing mentally and emotionally for his meeting with his mother.
>
> "You are quite a vision," she complimented, head tilted just enough to catch the reflection of him in the mirror. "Striking, powerful, handsome."

Kendall stares at his reflection with his familiar frowning intensity, eyebrows drawn together with a faint line between them as he tugs first one sleeve and then the other into place. Margot's words pull him out of his thoughts for a few breaths, though, and his eyes move to her reflection. He turns and puts his hands on her shoulders, looking down at her, wrapped in filmy robe that barely hid anything, yet left just enough to the imagination. Fingers come up to twist into gauzy strands of hair left loose at the fringes of her face. "Thank you, Margot. Would you care to see me off, or remain here? I will be taking Gandu back with me," he adds.

"I would love to see you off. Once you have departed, I will return to my chambers and begin conquering my long list of tasks, chores and obligations that I have awaiting me." The last of her sentence ended with a dramatic sense of dread, though, there was nothing in her expression to leave wonder to whether she was serious. "Do you require me to don something more appropriate to see you off, or will this suffice?"

"If you plan to leave the suite and walk with me to the way, it is up to your comfort. We may encounter others on the way, guards and servants and such," he answers.

Margot contemplates this for a few moments. While she was comfortable in her skin with Kendall and their immediate retinue; passerbys may pose another thing all together. "If you allow me but a few moments…" She kissed his lips with the lightest of brushes and moved into her chambers, leaving the door open should he wish to observe.

"As you will," he agrees. He turns back to the mirror to finish his own prep while she tends to her own.

"Aelwyn, I will require a gown that is suitable for Dilys' hard work." She began, moving to her own bathing area to dust herself with some of the lightly scented powder that had been selected to match the Lord's tastes. A viscous, sap-like substance was poured into a small glass where she took the contents into her mouth. The burning sensation was barely balancing upon the thin border of pain and pleasure. Nevertheless she swished the jelly around her mouth and spat it out, leaving her mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

In the time it took Margot to freshen up; Aelwyn pulled a flowing gown of silver, wide at the neck and dipping to the small of her back. A braided belt of three different colored metals was to secure the gown to her hips. Slippers matched the tri-colored belt, and in no time, she was dressed for the public to view. Standing before the mirror, it seemed that gravity was the only thing keeping the gown secured on the bend of her shoulders, the folding pieces of fabric falling in lazy rolls down her torso before the cowl slipped down the sides of her bare back and mirrored the folds just before revealing anything that may be considered vulgar.

Kendall waits in his own sitting room for Margot to reappear. Dressed to her satisfaction, Margot finds him sitting near his balcony with the red bird keeping him company on the back of another chair. The Lord is offering the bird bits of something, which Gandu takes from his fingers with remarkable delicacy, considering his earlier antics.

Kendall looks over as Margot appears, smiling at the sight of her in the silver gown, and he stands. "You are quite lovely, shayna," he compliments her with a bow.

"Thank you," she replies, the color of appreciation rising to her cheeks, but her smile was one of pride and self-assured. Crossing the room towards him, she rested her hands on his biceps, stepping into his space. As she moved, the fabric shimmied in the light like water sliding over a well-worn rock. Very little of how she carried herself reflected the terrified young woman that she was… even in being confident enough to taste his lips once more, before the presence of the spiteful bird. "Well met, Gandu." she addressed the red bird after she had made proper first acquaintance with her lover.

He rests his hands at her waist as she leans in, balancing them both while taking care not to muss her dress. He returns her greeting kiss with interest though they stood somewhat apart, a hint of what would be on the agenda for later after his return.

The bird chirrups back at her when she greets him, flipping his tail and moving restively on the chair. But the Lord does not give the bird time to decide whether to be troublesome again. He offers his right arm to Margot and then holds out his other for Gandu to hop onto, which he does. The bird then walk-hops up the arm to find perch on the Lord's shoulder with the plumage of his tail falling down behind like a second stole.

"It is time. Shall we?" Kendall says to Margot, beginning to lead her towards the door.

There are no further words spoken; merely a gentle, affectionate squeeze to his bicep as she strode graceful at his side. Though difficult, she forced herself not to give the bird a second thought; if she gawked, she would be uncivilized, if she fretted, she would be intimidated by his mother's messenger - something she did not wish to convey under penalty of death itself.

Rory is at the door to the hallway, and opens it to let the Lord and Lady depart the room. Twin figures who looked like guards stood on either side of his door, and Margot can see two more at her own door, a little ways down the hall.

The hall itself is somwhat how she remembers, with lava walls and ceilings. The lava flowing across the ceiling had been trained into a zigzag pattern that echoed the orange inlay in the black marble floor. A few tables holding sculpural objects, two having the same look as the vase in Margot's room, and the odd chair dotted the hall. Several tapestries depicting various fires hid sections of the walls. "I apologize if the manor is too drab," Kendall remarks as they walk past a cream colored tapestry worked with gold thread, showing a town burning. The flames seemed almost to writhe if you looked at them long enough, but it might have been an illusion brought on by the flowing wall to either side. "Rachana had some peculiar fixataions, I would say."

"On the contrary, I find your antecedent fascinating, and the decor well placed. A complex woman, a complex manor. Fire has a special beauty all its own and non other can compare." She glided at his side regally; as if it were Kendall that was the escort and not the other way around. "This is a wondrous place, this Silver. I anticipate I will learn a great deal during my stay."

He nods. "You a very gracioius," he replies with a smile. He leads her around a corner which… which hadn't appeared to be there until they came upon it, into a very different hallway. This one started out normal sized, but looked like it turned and twisted, folding around itself like the end of a candy wrapper to a black point at the other end. The lava seemed to flow into the folds all around, rippling around the walls and floor alike, and as they begin to walk down the hall, they seem to… twist with it.

This strangeness might be more what Margot was expecting. As they follow one of the folds up and around, their feet remain firmly attached to the surface, but now seeing the doorway from a vastly different perspective.

Her fingers caressed his arm, his only reply. Those seen and unseen knew she was his guest and companion, but they were in public and it would not do to gush like a wee school lass. Did she stand a touch too close? Of course. Was there something familiar and affectionate in how the couple moved in harmony without utterance? Without question. But, Margot, Princess of Amber, would maintain her composure - even when it felt like she were living in something that would later haunt one named Escher until he committed it to canvas - and she would prove her place belonged at their Lord's side.

Kendall gives her a sidelong look, amusement glinting in eyes as he gives her a smile. "We must take care that you do not find yourself sucked into another realm. Here," and he stops about halfway down the hallway, standing 180 to the door they had entered through. He turns to her and lifts the hand she had curled around his arm, bringing it to his lips to lay a kiss against the back.

"Any farther, and you will be unable to return on your own. The sentry here will make sure you return to the corridor in the manor safely, though." At his glance, something slips out of one of the folds in the wall to glide over towards them. It's hard to tell what it is, since it's hard to see except from the corner of the eye. It was tall, taller than Kendall by another couple feet, with the right number of limbs draped with a grey, drifting shroud. It's just that the limbs bent in the wrong direction, and seemed to have a few extra joints.

"Safe journey and safe return," she murmured, retracting her hand. Her eyes begged him to kiss her, but she knew better; besides any greater delay would likely make the irritable bird and his powerful mother displeased. "I look forward to exploring the manor while you are away… and sharing tales of my adventure."

With that, she retreated, standing between the two sentinels as if they were part of her retinue rather than their Lords. Her hands met at her waist, fingers weaving into the other. The Princess had no intention of leaving until she could no longer see her lover. For him, she was a ray of confidence and support; arms and heart eager to await his return but trusting enough in their bond to not wear a frown of despair.

He bows to her, then continues several more steps along the shrinking corridor before he pauses once more to look up and around. He reaches one hand over to a fold in the wall, and with one last wave to Margot, is gone.

The sentries wait for Margot to return along the hallway, as silent as the rest of the manor. Their shrouds undulate slowly around their feet at the floor, as though blown by a breeze only they experienced. At the end of the hall, through the doorway, she arrives back in the familiar manor hallway with the same suddenness as she had first moved into the strange corridor. Rory is standing nearby, waiting for her to appear.

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Between Brothers

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