A Breath of Home: Trump Call With Diona

Tis her eyes, people mention first. Like twin sword tips, rare in his family. His mother, Lady Grania has the same, yet never could they go as deep as Diona's could. Sword vs Dagger, once his brother Cedric said, and many learned the same later much to their sorrow. And so, tis those eyes he feels upon him first…

Warm? Hot? Prickly? He never could describe the sensation well, what those eyes called forth, but it was distinctive. He suppresses a shiver, and smiles instead — a smile of warmth and pleasure. ~Diona,~ he greets her, leaning back against the chair as the contact is made. He still maintains a posture of formality, though somewhat more relaxed than what he would adopt for a conversation with his mother. ~You are a beautiful sight.~

She slips into his mind, giving the comparable mental kiss, kiss in greeting. Diona's mood, playful affection upon seeing her baby bother. ~Couldn't wait, could you?~ she asks, pleased by that thought.

~Not ever for you,~ he replies, studying her face, eager eyes taking in every detail. ~Especially as I just heard extraordinary news from Brisbane,~ he continues. ~He tells me you are coming to Amber. Is this truth?~

All pale in beauty to his sister, for Kendall knows, she loves unconditional. Her laugher musical, grand and glorious, as Diona nods in the affirmative to his question. ~Why?~ she asks, with a tilt so her head rests upon a slim shoulder, as if relaxed. Her stare softens just a bit as her golden hair covers one eye. ~Can't I meet this Miss you may be marrying?~

~As much as the thought of having you here pleases me, I would not have you come to Amber if you can avoid it,~ Kendall replies seriously, sincerely. ~This place is… it is not good enough for you.~

~Yet, it is for you…~ Diona's mental tone turns sad, giving a sigh. ~I've met Prince Brand of Amber, so I'm well aware to their boorish nature. So I can only infer, that my little brother has other reasons for such.~

He laughs a little. ~I wouldn't say so much that it is good enough for me,~ he says, his mental tone colored with wry humor. ~But I have to be here. You know why that is. But you do not have to subject yourself to a visit here. Brisbane and I are the scouting party, to tell you that this is murky country and you should stay back.~

~But it has one attraction, this Amber of yours…~ Diona replies. ~My precious baby brother. Unless… you don't want to see me?~

Kendall stares at her, plainly dismayed and astonished. ~How ever could you suggest I wouldn't want to see you?~ he says. ~I'm thinking only of your welfare, love.~

She smiles at this confession, yet it doesn't cease the questioning. ~As I do yours, yet if I can't come… Perhaps I can persuade our brother to come in my stead. If conditions are truly that abhorrent, there is no need for you to be there, no matter what father says.~

~I can do my duty, Diona,~ he responds irritably, nettled in spite of himself. ~Father already considers me a shirker. I would that he is not proven right so quickly.~ Perhaps his ill temper was to conceal his real desire to quit this place, even at risk of his father's wrath. But even so, there was honor to consider.

~Alright, little brother,~ Diona surrenders, hardly the first yet rare enough to note. ~I won't come to Amber on your behalf, nor lobby father to have you released from this banishment.~ Her mood lightens, as it always does once Diona has made-up her mind about something. ~Just promise me you won't fall for one of those Amber hussies, no matter how wide they spread their legs for you. You, Dearest, deserve far better…~

At that, he does laugh out loud in real amusement, an expression never seen by those outside the immediate family. ~Believe me, love, my heart is safe from attachment here. There is at times a certain attraction, I will admit. Undoubtedly, the fascination with the exotic. Yet I had received word that an alliance sealed by Amber marriage between one of these princesses and myself is a possibility. Have you heard news of that?~

~Some, and yes, your name did come up,~ Diona admits, allowing her little brother to lead the conversation for the moment. ~Of them all, only Princess Fiona in worth being in your bed in my opinion.~

Kendall blinks, expression turning speculative for a beat, as though that thought hadn't occurred to him. He rather preferred it that way. ~I think it unlikely she would be at the forefront of options,~ he says. ~Truth be told, on sight of you, I quite forgot for some heartbeats that there were women here in Amber at all. Yet since I am reminded, I wonder what you have heard regarding the latest arrival in Amber, the Princess Margot?~

His thoughts, these courtesies, upon the alter of her praise, brings a wondrous smile to those full lips of sisterly affection. ~Little… a mere child I was told. A better match for the infant Cel'an perhaps, certainly not for you,~ is Diona's answer, thick with disapproval. ~That girl could grow up all bitchy and annoying, which you don't need!~

~Young, yes,~ he agrees. ~Naive, even more so. Still, I would know how serious these thoughts of alliance are, and whether to continue my suit. Though the girl might grow in time into a distasteful woman, if I am to be chained to a woman of Amber, I would not mind having the at least first Cycles be pleasurable. I am curious to know Grania's thoughts on this matter, since you so often know her mind far better than I.~

~She was the first to bring up the name, even before it was listed.~ His sister confessing, adding. ~Yet if you wish youth for grooming, won't the baby Erin be better?~

~You have a point, though I'm certain the Queen here would not see it so sensibly. Indeed,~ he hesitates, looking away from Diona for the space of five heartbeats at the ocean far below. ~The Queen has seen fit to forbid me from seeing her older daughter at all.~

~Which should be understandable, she being only an infant… our House done the same if one of them came to visit.~ Diona remarks. ~But that child, is already worrying many of the elders of varies Houses.~ From his sister's mental tone, this was a gift that could put her in danger if it reached the wrong ears.

~The babe Erin? She seems to be causing consternation here as well. She as well as two other babes recently born, Babes of Destiny as I understand it.~ He doesn't seem particularly worried, Amberites being much too excitable as far as he can tell.

~You like them!~ His sister exclaims. ~Your own little pack of Fur'ate* to play with.~

The assertion brings only a faint smile to her brother's face, apparently too distracted this time to play along with the jest with laughing agreement or indignant denial, if jest it was. ~An apt comparison, but all that is beside the point,~ he says. ~I would… May I ask your advice?~

~You may…~ Diona responds, touched by a brother's trust.

He pauses, trying to put his thoughts into order. ~Very recently - yesterday, as the Amberites mark time - I was involved in a… troubling incident, which led to the death of one of their Knights by my hand. Due to this, the Queen and seemingly the King are displeased with me. I fear that my work here to allay their suspicions and cause them to think well of Chanicut has been… damaged.~ He falls silent again, as though trying to figure out how to phrase his question, or maybe even to decide on a question.

Diona just defeated toss of her head, as if expecting something of this sort with her baby brother and his escapades. ~And you want to know how to make it all better again?~ Big Sister suggests. ~So lets deal with the cost first, as to how much its worth to you personally to have these states returned to acceptable?~

~No. That's not it,~ he replies with a shake of his head. ~But I suppose since it came up, if you have any suggestions, I'll be glad to hear them. This trouble was not exactly my doing,~ he adds, defensively offended.

~I've never been one to abide blame, especially in matters of Court,~ Diona shares. ~But it sounds like you seek more in this, justice in fact…" His sister tilts her head just slightly as she says this. For other men, it would be seductive but for him its comforting. A measure of her love, even this far away.

~Justice!~ is Kendall's response, lathered thick with scorn. ~I think it would serve instead if some semblance of intelligence and sense would blossom here, so that order would be more at home. If these creatures would realize their limitations and not presume so much. If they would realize their place, and the shackles they lie under in service to their white demi-god.~ The depths of his anger, his injured pride, are beginning to be laid bare, but he hardly seems to notice.

~Do you realize that the Serpent answered my call, all the way here in the far reaches of the multiverse, far from Its great home in the Courts and Abyss. The Serpent cleansed me of the taint of their unicorn, even here! And yet they cannot see their puniness!~ Abruptly he falls silent again, realizing too late that his thoughts were rash and ill considered. Also realizing the hatred that was simmering within him, unacknowledged. How long had it been there? He couldn't have said for sure.

~And due to this, do you still want her… this Margot?~ Diona asks, her thoughts clear and narrow. ~To hurt, or better yet, to enlighten with the larger truths. But you need to decide this for yourself, for I can think of far better pets who are just as worthy.~ Her thoughts are serious, having the same edge as their mother's. ~For with the proper choice of a woman suitable to your ambitions, you could even overcome eldest brother when Father steps down.~

He reins in his ill temper and pauses a time, thinking over her question instead of blurting out the first thing he thinks of. Conflicting thoughts and emotions crowd through his mind. ~There are many who are equally worthy, and many more who are not,~ he acknowledges at last. His next words are careful. ~The ones who are, however, are of the Courts. It is my understanding that both Father and Mother are seeking to bring a new spark to the House of Chanicut. It may be that this would be more valuable to me in the long term than the ones you are thinking of.~

Diona nods to Kendall's point, yet perverts his words with her own. ~Indeed such a child could assist the future of our House, yet would you be comfortable with only that?~

~You're saying that she would be a hindrance in my ambitions,~ he says, looking for clarification. He finds himself wondering if this was the entirety of the plan from the start, an exile meant to ruin him beyond any hope of redemption. ~Is this only her, or do you mean any of Amber?~

~I merely suggest,~ Diona corrects. She again gives a mental shrug. ~After all, you know them better then I. Perhaps she just needs to be an equal, for you to be truly satisfied. Then both could be my occasional idiotic little brother whom I love so dear.~ From the link, his sister's affection flows with little to hinder it. If he became her piece, never would she abuse or discard him, or put him upon the board halfhearted. She would use him in her designs, as would he use her in his, yet Kendall knows she would treasure him in a way his parents or brother never would.

And if she but asked him for anything, he would find it an exquisite pleasure to grant her anything within his power. As well she knew. ~I will ponder what you have suggested. I have found myself uncertain here in Amber. The air here… it likely is weak,~ Kendall replies. ~Even so, I am sorry if you were looking forward to visiting Amber and I was not welcoming. Why was it that you were planning to travel here?~

~It seems I've caught the eye of their Prince Caine.~ She explains. ~And while I usually don't go for the vulgar types, he does seem to have a natural talent for the more Elegant Arts** which I find intriguing enough to consent to his invitation.~

His eyebrows shoot up in surprise. ~Prince Caine. I don't think I've met him.~ He pauses a heartbeat. ~Well, my dear sister, I wouldn't want to stand in the way of your investigations into these Amberites. It might be that you would be more discerning about what use they could be.~

~That may make Father happy but I request you please don't underestimate your own gifts in front of your dearest sister.~ Diona remarks. ~It's distressing, and unwelcomed, and in time I could share the same impressions as you do towards these Amberites.~

~No doubt,~ Kendall agrees. He looks at her for several heartbeats, not thinking about anything in particular. It has been some time since he had enjoyed someone's company from home. Then he frowns a little as a thought occurs. ~Other than all that, how are things at home? Quiet and peaceful as usual?~

Given that things rarely would be described as quiet or peaceful, it might be that he's trying to hedge around his true question.

She smiles to his question, a mental feeling that brings affection. ~We both know a true war is coming to the Courts.~ Diona says with not so well hidden excitement. ~Could you think of me upon the Throne?~ She poses, giving neither hint or clue if just a tease or she's serious.

Kendall pauses to consider the vision before him. He could indeed see her on the throne, with him at her side, as aide, helper, confidante even? It's a brief, heady thought before reality kicks in. The throne was little more than a target. The real power of the Courts lay elsewhere, and Diona surely knew that.

~Easily,~ he replies to her question directly with a smile. ~But would this upcoming war bring the throne sufficient power to please you?~

~Not really, but what else do I have to gain under our brother's shadow?~ his sister asks. ~We know Father already desires him for succession, and I've agreed to commitments that limit my challenges.~ Diona deepens her feelings so he can't get a clear feel of them, yet there is a hint of anger that isn't turned inward upon her own choices. ~I will not be satisfied with my descendants gaining what I was unable to. I swore to myself not be our mother…~

Kendall ponders that for a time. ~There is a mindset here that seems fitting to your thoughts,~ he says at last. ~It goes something like this: Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.~

~You make it sound like I'm unhappy with our House,~ Diona remarks, amused by little bother's quote. ~Prehaps we are more alike than even mother considered.~

He is uncomfortable with the direction the conversation has taken, knowing that any hint of disloyalty could be used against him. Against them both, really. Even so, the point is valid, and now might be the time to pursue it. ~Have you ever considered the possibility of having your own House?~ he asks, his mental "tone" both hushed and cautious.

~I've mused over it, but conclude my chances are better with the Royal Court.~ Diona answers. ~Breeding myself to martyrdom holds little charm to me, even if it does establish a House bearing my name.~

Kendall frowns a little. He hadn't taken that too much into consideration yet. The creation of a House took not just time and influence, but also bodies. ~It would be merely a matter of finding a group of loyal subordinates, and bringing the blood together over time,~ he suggests.

~Time is not a pet to a Founder; tis a vicious beast that always thirsts for your blood,~ Diona explains. ~For a Founder must burn so bright, so very bright, to eclipse all others. In the earliest Cycles, you rally around that person, then their heir, and yet again before one can acknowledge a proper House.~ Her tone is like many of Kendall's instructors, long thought having gone into her words. ~A younger sister or close cousin perhaps, but in the end only my bloodline would matter to future descendants.~

~Then it is, perhaps, that our parents do what is best and right for us after all,~ he replies. ~To find us places where we will do best for the House as it is now.~

This sends his sister in giggles, the warmness of gaiety a joy to feel over the Trump contact. ~Indeed!~ Diona agrees, thinking her brother is making such a serious joke for her sake. And that, makes her love him even more. ~I do miss you…~

~I miss you. I even miss Cedric at this point,~ Kendall admits. ~But I was being serious. Just suppose, for the sake of hypothesis, that their motives are as much for our sake as theirs. Just suppose,~ he insists. ~As I came to desire more for my own offspring.~

~Then that depends on how much control you relinquish, and the level of trust,~ Diona replies. ~I trust our mother more than father, for there was a cost incurred by her. Her life possibly shortened by each of us, so we would be a investment worth protecting I like to believe.~

~Such a comforting thought,~ he responds, his ironic tone very familiar.

~Not really, yet one take solace in what's available,~ Diona points out. ~Even if it's between the legs of a girl whom you won't give the time of a cycle back home.~

He smiles faintly. ~You do seem to come back to that, dear sister. Does it truly trouble you so much?~

~You do have a history,~ Diona replies, gentle in her retort.

Kendall does not reply at first, his thoughts distant as he looks out toward the sea again briefly. ~We all have so little control over our lives and activities,~ he finally admits. ~We all take advantage of the small freedoms we are offered.~

His sister studies him for a long moment, then says with defeat. ~Brother, if you really desire this child… I will support you before Father upon this matter.~ But Diona gives him a sad smile, then some advice. ~Just don't get tired of her too quick.~

~Perhaps it is that I cannot have what I truly desire,~ he replies, still distant. Then he comes back to the conversation again, once more calm and cool. ~But I am still an obedient servant of Chanicut. Whatever it is the House wills, I will do. And you, sister. Would you care for me to meet this Prince Caine and convey a message to him? Or will you visit Amber after all?~

~For the moment, I'm ambivalent to visiting Amber after our chat.~ Diona confesses. ~For I'm curious to why you met a lady that stirred your interest so robustly, and now I find myself with the same…~ She lets this sink deep in his mind before continuing. ~I for one, have always detested coincidences without knowing the hand behind them.~

He chuckles a little. ~The answer to that question lies in who would benefit from such a coincidence. Someone of Amber, of the Courts, or someone else entirely. I can see such a thing being a benefit to the goals of our House, at least those that have been conveyed to me.~

The unspoken part of that thought is naturally that the goals of their House that he is aware of may not be true goals at all, or may be only part of a greater plot.

~Then we should add our names to that list… if indeed, we are there true focus of these coincidences.~ Diona returns, her mood improving with a savor of her little brother's humor.

~I'll pass on that list, thank you,~ he replies. ~Instead, I will tell you what prompted my interest in the girl in question, if you wish.~

~You were lonely, and she reminded you of me,~ Diona teases. "But only in the smallest slice, for I would have never allowed someone I was interested in to have even the hint of regret or second thoughts.~

~It is that you seem worried that I had lost my wits,~ he replies with a smile for her joke. ~I should be hurt, but will forgive you this time.~

~Losing one's wits, for loving his sister…" Diona supposes. ~Perchance I should join you in the hurt, and forgiveness.~

~Then I'll never be lonely again!~ he replies gallantly. There's a brief pause, before he adds, ~Is there any other interesting news of home?~

~Not really anything that would impact your situation.~ Diona conveys. ~But it does seem that Cousin Cudia has finally consented to the marriage proposal from Lord Kaea Helgram.~ With a mental shrug, his sister continues. ~Not the best match, for that man has tossed far too many dead wives into the Abyss to be mere bad luck. Yet the terms are far too favorable not to accept, with Cudia able to spend half her Cycles with her own House now.~

~Yes, well, we all have to make compromises and sacrifices,~ he replies. ~But as long as the terms are favorable…. What sacrifices are you prepared to make to get what you want?~ he asks suddenly, almost but not quite teasing.

~Are you afraid, little brother… I perhaps, would say YOU?~ Diona inquires, her tone a match for his. ~But most, if not all, are of my own. As father would say, the lone piece on my game board is me at the moment.~ She gives him a mental smile, the wave of pleasure welcomed. ~It pleases me for now, for it allows me to enjoy a conversation with you.~

~A breath of fresh air,~ he says. ~I'm glad of any opportunity to speak with you. Though it seems like I should return to things here in Amber. I think if we continued to talk, I might change my mind and have you bring me home right now.~ He smiles in jest, but he's not entirely joking.

~Then this is goodbye,~ his sister says, manipulating the contact like a delicate origami flower till with a faint mental kiss, Diona is gone…

*A breed of demon dogs that live near the Abyss, like Chihuahuas with scales and glowing red eyes that chew-up most anything that they can get their teeth on,even if its screaming or not as they do it. Considered one of the most annoying and uesless pets one can have within the Courts.

**Spying, court intrigue, etc.

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The Clock Chimes: Meeting Amber

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