Asleep to Dream

Sleep claimed her immediately after he spoke, as if she had refused to succumb until she had some reassurance. Margot became still, so much so that - were it not for the soft sound of breathing - it wasn't obvious whether she was alive or carved from marble. Drug induced and bone weary, her coma-like state kept her unaware of her surroundings for several hours. She looked at peace for the first time since she had appeared in the tomb, and perhaps even since the last time he had hosted her in his bedchamber.

But her slumber did not stay peaceful. Images seeped into her mind, twisted and warped within her dreamscape. Fits, stress, her brow furrowed and she tossed and pitched. Her hands and legs fought against an invisible enemy. Twitching and turning, Margot struggled against the darkness that tried to strangle her. The blanket, now wrapped tightly around her, emulated the hordes of Unseelie within her haunted dream who relentlessly worked break the Princess' will. The more she struggled, the more she could not seem to be rid of her captors, even though mind refused to free her to the waking world. Until finally, with a violent kick at the blankets, tossing an arm and leg off the edge of the bed in the process, she returned to a serene slumber.

Somewhere in the world of the waking, a door nearby opens and shuts with a quiet click. While his master was out, prowling the tower with restless energy that bespoke of troubled thoughts, Rory returns to put the chambers in order. He moves with nearly silent steps toward the table where dinner's dishes remained, but a quick glance at the sleeping princess as he passed the bed revealed their guest in a precarious position.

Turned round and bent akimbo, Margot clung to the surface of the bed seemingly by accident. Her head on the very edge of the bed held balance with one leg and arm extended above nothingness, as if in imagined flight. Any further movement or start of wakefulness held equal possibility for her to turn once more and regain the sanctuary of the bed, or to plummet to the floor in a painful and inelegant tumble.

Leaving the dishes for the moment, the conscientious servant goes first to the princess' bedside. Burrowing hands between the princess and the mattress, he lifts her from the bed and carries her around to the other side so that her head and feet are once more at the correct orientations. He is strong, careful, and efficient, laying her down and then straightening her clothing so that it was not twisted and did not restrict her. The offending blanket and sheet are then retrieved, straightened, and draped loosely over her form, before smoothing a hand against her brow to quiet the restless murmur that arose from being disturbed.

When she settles back into sleep once more, he moves to the rest of his duties, retrieving the heavy comforter from the balcony and laying it near the bed. Table and chairs on the balcony are moved with a few bumps back to their places. Dishes are gathered, stacked, and delivered back to the kitchen with surprisingly few clinks or clatters. Foods that would keep are arranged attractively on one side of the table, to be ready when either Margot or Kendall cared to have them, while things that would be best consumed quickly were taken to the guardsmen quarters.

Other odds and ends are seen to, such as putting away the Chaosian's writing supplies for him, before finally Rory finishes by bringing in some clothing for the princess. He had retrieved a cotehardie from a chest delivered to the tower earlier, the fabric green and silver. This is laid with care over the chair near the bed, to be ready for when the princess required it. With a last glance to the sleeping girl, he departs to a final click of the door.

Completing his arrangements of the young Chaos Lord's rooms, the red-haired servant begins to search the halls of the tower for his master. It does not take long to find him, deep in conversation with Guard Captain Tillek. The arrangements of the guards assigned as escort to the Ambassador would undergo significant changes once the contingent departed from the relative solitude of the tower. First there was the exposed journey down to the docks, but also afterwards, the disposition once on board ship, working alongside and amongst the security provided by their hosts. It could be a delicate matter.

Rory remains just beyond earshot, waiting patiently in the background until the conversation reaches its conclusion. He observes his master's state of mind purely as a matter of habit, while he composes a way to convey what he had observed. To outward appearance, the young Chaosian was calm and collected, utterly focused on the task at hand. But Rory had entered his current service when Kendallarithan was still quite young, and had begun learning the young Lord's moods, whims, agitations, and tells before he had gained enough self-discipline and mastery to hide them effectively. The servant's long experience told him that his master was troubled, as revealed by the cant of his head, the set of his feet, the restless energy with which he prowled the tower checking into things that were already well in hand.

The captain bows to the Lord, who acknowledges the salute and turns to depart. Upon seeing the waiting servant, however, he pauses with a quirk of one brow. "Something, Rory?" he inquires in the graceful language of their House.

The guard captain departs through a different door to continue with his duties, and the servant approaches and bows. “M’Lord, it appears the Princess’ sleep is unquiet. When tending to your chamber, I discovered she nearly had fallen from the bed, though she has been put to rights for now. Shall I dose her with more c’athaa?”

Kendallarithan listens to the report with a closed and unrevealing expression, but his pale eyes are restless, moving from servant to window to painting to flower arrangement and back to Rory, who merely observes and waits for a decision. The young Lord’s dismay centered around the princess, then. This was not surprising, given what Rory had observed just prior to the order for c’athaa.

“Not yet,” is the unexpected decision at last, however. The next sentence is even more unexpected. “I shall look to her first for a time, and evaluate what may be done. Thank you, Rory.”

A final bow is acknowledged with a nod, and Rory turns slightly to watch the Chaos Lord depart on the way back to his chamber, already formulating in his mind a possible list of things that may he may be called on to supply in the near future.

The door to the quiet chamber opens to again admit Kendall to his private area. The sun was slanting to the west and the breeze was stronger, carrying the sounds of waves and gulls through the open doors of the balcony. He had taken the time earlier for a short bath and thorough grooming, a routine almost guaranteed to return him to a sense of normalcy and restore his equilibrium. He had not donned the official green robe of his House, however, as he had not had reason to depart the tower. Everyone here knew him and his rank; official clothing was not needed at this juncture.

Going over to the side of the bed, he looks down on the sleeping princess. Margot lay near the side of the bed closer to the door, mostly on her back with legs bent and curled towards the middle of the bed, one hand tucked near her face. She looked peaceful right then, with hair spread about her head and dark lashes against pale skin, her breathing soft and even. He sits on the side of the bed for some heartbeats, watching her sleep, before moving her other arm to lie less awkwardly against her hip.

The idea is vague and unnamed at first, as he adjusts the lay of the blanket and the fold of the sheet, but there was something compelling about pale skin within creamy bedclothes against dark bedding. Finally getting her arranged to his liking, stepping back to evaluate her position with a critical eye, he fetches from the desk a sketchpad and several pencils. He turns the desk chair around and scoots it to a good position, lifting it slightly to keep it from making noise against the floor, then settles down with pad and pencil to begin his sketch.

Quiet that is broken only by the scratching of pencil against paper, reigns in the room for many heartbeats before dreams overtake the young princess again. The peaceful form on the bed shifts slightly; her face contorting in concern or fear. Whatever was filling her mind, clearly she was not comfortable with the circumstance. Whether it was a muscle spasm or tremor, her whole form shook, changing her position. Now, she faced the balcony, both hands tucked beneath her face as she rested comfortably on her side. She shook her head in disagreement before hugging the pillow tighter. Occasionally, words would spill from her lips, garbled and nearly unintelligible. “Not”, or “Tempted”, or “Blessing”, or “Queen”. Margot’s cheeks moistened, a few tears slipping from the corners of her eyes before she drew a ragged breath, the imagined ordeal endured.

Pencil stills on paper as Margot stirs, dreams overtaking her again and bringing disquiet. Kendall watches her for a time, to see if she would settle, though the pose was spoiled and the sketch he had begun would rely on memory to finish. He felt only passing annoyance at the circumstance, however. Instead, he was trying to make sense of the urge to go back to the bed, pull her into his arms and soothe away her torments. He could not say, though, whether that would be the wisest course to pursue.

He couldn't soothe away all her torments. She would need to endure them, defeat them, grow stronger by overcoming them. But that traitor to good judgment, sympathy, tempted him away from the harder path. It was different to battle adversity when awake and aware, conscious of reality and choices and not subject to the crazed inner landscape of the mind and soul. He remembered his own dreams when he was young, rife with formless shapes and nameless terrors. And with those memories came others, more hazy and distant, an embrace that felt safe and hands that brought peace. Once. So very long ago.

Setting aside the sketchpad on the desk, the young Chaos Lord returns to the side of the bed. He sits down on the bed with the princess with his back against the headboard, and hesitant fingers of one hand rest against Margot's shoulder before moving in a soothing caress down her arm to her hand. The warmth of his hand stirs her, and her fingers seek the new presence, wrapping around it. Her other joins its mate and together they envelope the hand, protecting it from any harm that may befall it, as if it were the most precious, fragile gift to life.

One hand thus entangled, his other finds home at her brow, smoothing the hair back from her face. Left with nothing to occupy his mind except his own dark thoughts, Kendall stares down at the sleeping face of the princess while ideas and plans and concerns trickle their way towards some as yet unknown resolution. Though her emotional outburst was distressing, he comforted himself with the thought that she had never been properly trained to channel and dispel stress. And in truth, there were times when anyone could be stressed beyond their ability to function rationally. That was, after all, one purpose to provoking others: to gauge their responses and determine their limits. Kendall had done his share of provocation in his time.

Still… his brow furrows in puzzlement as he thought back on what had happened. He really couldn't be sure what it was that had caused her to become so suddenly overwrought. He would have to consider the best way to determine the cause of the outburst without, at the same time, causing it to occur again. Understanding was necessary if he was to help her overcome that trigger and increase her self-control.

As for the rest, that was also troubling. What she had said was troubling. If his aims were to be achieved, he needed to cultivate her trust so that she would speak freely to him, yet she had revealed a fear still of sharing her intimate thoughts with him. He wasn't sure how to overcome that, especially since their interactions were still clouded by cultural misunderstandings and the distractions of sex.

Leaning over, he presses lips to her cheek in a tender kiss, inhaling her scent. The ten'sin oil had faded in the sun and with exertion, leaving her own unique aroma mixed faintly still with sweat and sex. Yes, distraction was a good word for it. Though Margot was still in ignorance, Kendall was well aware that her insatiable hungers were, most likely, due in part to the recent awakening of her sexual urges. And the pleasures of the flesh were always heightened at the beginning of any relationship, when so much was still unknown and the thrill of discovery fanned flames of desire.

Brisbane had counseled him to take her first to holdings in the Black Zone, rather than going directly to Chaos itself. It was something he had already intended to do. Perhaps the Shadow of Silver, a place that had always been one of his favorites. There he could instruct her fully in the sexual arts, a task he was not be adverse to anyway, and when control and temperance had begun to develop, her instruction in the other necessities of survival in Chaos would not be as difficult.

Feeling her shiver in her sleep, he shifts down so that he could lie next to her on his side. The arm attached to the hand still captured in hers surrounds her torso and hugs her against his chest. His other hand seeks her hair once more, and he lies with arm extended and head on the pillow staring at the glimmery reflection of water on ceiling, fingers tangling in the silky dark locks as plans take form in his mind.

Warmth enveloped her. Somewhere beyond the dreamscape, Margot felt the presence of another join her in the bed. And while their influence was miniscule, they still influenced her dalliance with insanity. Too much had happened; her heart had endured too much break. And now, while enslaved in slumber, it seemed that she was helpless as her mind traveled the same devastating path. Yet, the faint kiss of cinnamon chased away her demons, if only for a few dreamless moments.

Margot’s body molded against Kendall’s; much as it had since they had first touched, fitting into the tiny spaces he had created as he encased her and shielded her body from unseen dangers. Another shiver gripped her, and she propelled herself deeper against his form, the top arms snaking up his that enveloped her, and the fingers of her bottom arm anchored him to her at his elbow. Her breathing quickened; but, clearly, whatever disturbed her was not what she clung to as she continued to hold him with greater need and urgency.

Whimpering and shaking her head in denial, Margot’s anxiety grew in his arms. No longer was having his arms around her enough to protect her, she released him only to spin and burrow herself against him, hiding her face in the tiny spot against his shoulder and just beneath his chin. Her arms folded into her chest as she attempted to make herself as small as she possibly could in the space allotted. One hand rested on his heart, the other hooked fingers between button and fabric and twisted her fingers tightly, anchoring her to him more so. Softly, between unconscious sobs, she begged and pleaded for mercy.

"Peace, my sweet," Kendall murmurs as she cuddles fiercely against him, almost pushing him off the edge of the bed with her need for comfort. What nightmares might lead to such distress, he could not say, though his imagination was more than able to provide possibilities. Some shifting and adjusting got his other arm under and around her, complying with her need to get closer, and he strokes her back through the blanket. A stray thought darts through his mind that this was not a situation he would have ever have anticipated to be in. The thought is fleeting, though, as he turns back to the matter at hand. And at just that heartbeat, there's a soft tap at the door.

A pause follows, the person on the other side waiting to see if he would be turned away, and then the door opens to admit Rory. "The princess' maid is here," he announces.

"Thank you, Rory." Kendall's voice sounds almost relieved. This wasn't exactly his area of expertise, though he might get marks for making the attempt. "Show her in."

The servant nods before departing to fetch the woman, and Kendall begins attempting to extricate himself from Margot's grasp. Her fingers had tangled into his shirt most tenaciously, and so though he could reclaim his right arm from under her enough to hitch himself partially up on an elbow, still she held close to him. His left arm leaves her body, no longer surrounding her in warmth as he attempts to extricate her fingers from his shirt.

Margot refused to be detangled from her savior, however, and her whimpers grew frantic as he tried to free himself. Her fingers were woven into his shirt and her head firmly planted against his shoulder. He could feel her muscles tense; though not those that would necessarily be used for an embrace. Her thighs fired, her back flexed, her biceps and shoulders strained. Against his chest he could feel the popping of her knuckles gripping tightly. Breathing became labored, determined, strained; whatever she faced preyed upon her physically and mentally.

He gives up his attempts to free himself just then as she grows even more agitated, his arm encircling her shoulders again. This wasn't exactly how he had planned to spend the rest of the Amber day; a quick glance to the balcony doors confirms that daylight is fast fading. He shifts legs around again to sit upright, moving slowly with the princess in one arm. Even so encumbered, he manages to adjust his position and hers so that he is braced once more against the headboard of the bed with her cradled in his lap and cuddled in his arms against his chest.

He frees a hand briefly to tug the blanket back into position around her shoulders just before another knock heralds the arrival of Margot's attendant. The door opens immediately after to reveal first Rory followed by an older, handsome woman dressed in an understated gown of grey. "Princess Margot's personal attendant, Desrianne," is the announcement as the woman walks in, her piercing gaze raking over the scene and taking in every detail. She takes two steps into the room before dropping into a curtsey.

"Lord Kendallarithan," she greets the Chaosian on the bed, and he gives her a nod, absently smoothing the hair away from Margot's face.

Grey-blue eyes carry with them the frigidity of duty as she rose with her hands folding before her patiently. Thin lips all but vanished as they stretched into a tight, well-trained smile; one that with years of practice disguised the throbbing in her clenched jaw. Still, she was a royal’s Lady, and it would serve little to treat him with the contempt he had earned; even if he had the presence of mind to summon her, clearly that had to been at Margot’s request.

The icy gaze softened at the sight of the slumbering princess, swaddled in sumptuous blankets and champagne colored pajamas. It almost looked as if he had bothered to tend to her. Almost. At least, he had not welcomed her into his chamber in some vulgar display of hedonistic molestation of the Princess. He may have charmed her innocence, but this was not the first deceiving man she had not come across nor was he the first Chaosian. That he clearly was possessive of both qualities only exasperated her frustrations.

“I thank you, Lord Kendallarithan, for providing for Princess Margot as you have,” Desrianne began with a tone coolly neutral. “Now that I am here, there is no need for you to be burdened any longer.” Any warmth she held for the vision of loveliness curled peacefully in his lap dissipated when grey-blue rose to meet their blue-green counterparts.

Margot stirred slightly, shifting to find comfort in the new position. The pillow beneath her was lumpier, but, she was too tired to do much about it. All she wanted was the warmth that was beneath the pillow; that comforting sensation that seemed to come in wisps to her at times of distress. Sighing contented, the sleeping princess snuggled in closer to Kendall’s abdomen, a soft smile forming as his fingers combed through her hair.

"On the contrary, madame, it has been no burden," he answers, his cool tone matching hers, keen gaze taking in every detail as the woman surveys him, the princess, the scene. The tiny smile that curls his lips is smugly superior, and he drops a kiss to Margot's forehead as the young woman shifts and sighs against him.

"You may go, Rory, but be mindful in case the princess' attendant has need of anything for the princess' care."

His own loyal servant hesitates the barest heartbeat, looking from one to the other, before he nods almost reluctantly. Withdrawing from the room, the door shuts again with a click.

"I am, however, certain that one such as yourself are much more suited to this task than I," Kendall continues as Rory leaves. "So I will leave her to your capable hands." That being said, he again moves to disengage himself from Margot's grasp. He's in a better position at this point, having merely to unclasp his arms and lay her to the side, back onto the mattress.

Triumph shone in the matron’s eyes as the Chaosian relinquished his grasp on the girl. Inclining her head, she indulged herself with her own smug expression having chased away the cretin with her displeasure. Surely Margot would come to her senses when she woke to a vision of sanity rather than… chaos.

Disquiet creased the Princess’ brow as a contented place transformed once more, however. Restlessness becoming the norm rather than the exception, she tensed as Kendall attempted to lay her to rest on the mattress. That she was not clinging to him save for her fingers trapped in his shirt made his escape awkward, given his interest to not overly-jostle her no matter how disturbed her dreams may be. “Please. Don’t. No. Please,” she murmured over and over, some words getting emphasis over others, their order interchangeable and slurring together.

The whimper broke Desrianne’s moment of glory, as eyes rose to watch what transpired on the bed. Her head still remained bowed as she was torn between going to the child’s side and maintaining proper propriety; though, her brow furrowed with genuine concern as she watched Margot’s distress and Kendall’s attempts to disengage himself.

He is caught in that heartbeat between impulses, but ultimately a score in battle with the princess' maid would be a shallow and pointless victory. Not worth ignoring the pang instilled by the young woman's distress. So, he turns as he lays Margot against the bed, forced to lean over as fingers remain fast in his shirt. Lips are laid to her temple while fingers enclose hers and carefully untangle them from his shirt. "Be still, my sweet," he murmurs, pressing a kiss to her marred and reddened fingertips, laying her hands against the bed. Her fingers, left without anything to grasp, find home beneath her head as she curls up on her side once more.

Leaning back again, he tucks draggled hair behind one ear before returning the twisted and much maligned blanket back over her shoulder. With that, he is able to stand, straightening his somewhat rumpled shirt with a habitual movement. He walks around Desrianne without another word or so much as a glance to check his hair in the mirror before going over to the desk to retrieve his sketchpad and pencil. He takes those along with a glass of wine from the table out to the balcony. The open doors would ensure he would hear everything that transpired in his absence.

Desrianne continued to observe with a neutral expression, refusing to give the Chaosian an ounce of regard, despite the touching sentiment spilled upon Margot’s brow. Stoic, the matron remained firmly in place, eyes following the Lordling as he alighted from the bed and moved passed her. No longer her concern, she ignored the man lurking in the room, and moved with surprising agility to Margot’s side. Fingers brushed along creamy skin, along her neck, her wrist and fingers, her steely eyes narrowing in assessment.

Margot’s breathing, for the moment, seemed relaxed, enough where Desrianne felt comfortable enough to return to the door to speak with the one named Rory. A few items were requested along with a schedule dictated, professional respect given for the man who had to endure his master. She was surprised with his alacrity, returning almost immediately with the items requested.

Time passed with the matron splitting her time between cooling Margot’s brow and needle pointing. When the Princess would stir, the project would fall to her lap and Desrianne would watch with grave concern until the restlessness passed. The sun crossed the sky and as the colors shifted from orange to red, the quantity and severity Margot’s fits lessened. No longer did she seem enraged or frightened, in mourning or agony or despair; rather, the isolated whimper of loneliness would pass through soft lips as she reached for phantoms that abandoned her side.

A simple meal was delivered to sustain Desrianne as she continued her vigil over Margot. She appreciated Rory’s attempt to ease her stress by serving something that would please the delicate palate of an Amberite, but found she had little appetite at the moment.

As well, the Chaos Lord waits in vigil for the princess to wake. He sketches through the falling of night, until darkness made the activity unviable, then closes the book and returns it to its home in his desk. The maid in her chair on the opposite side of the room does not exist in his awareness except in the most peripheral fashion. He was not in the mood for a full meal, but there yet remained food on the table, left from the shared meal earlier. So he sits on the edge of the bed and watches the princess sleep while eating lightly of the delicacies still offered there.

When done with his snack, he retrieves the lute stored under protective fabric covering, which set unnoticed on a stand in the corner. Retreating again to the balcony with wineglass refreshed, strains of music begin to float on the breeze as he plays quietly for himself while the stars emerge and the moon rises to sparkle on the ocean below. He couldn't help but feel as though he should be doing… something. What, he couldn't have said, and so he attempts to bury himself in music to soothe away his anxiety and restlessness. The melodies he chooses are graceful and lyrical, though also mournful and eerie, but the tactic is effective somewhat, bringing peace to his mind for a time.

Inside, he can hear the sounds of Rory returning to clear the table. Low voiced conversation, merely a sentence or three, pass between the two caretakers - one for the Princess, one for the Lord - before all is quiet again. Late. How late, of course, was impossible to tell with certainty according to the terms of Amber. After all this time, the divisions of time used in Amber still eluded him if he had not paid attention to the most recent chiming of the clocks, which he hadn't. It was night, that he knew, and light would not return for many thousands of heartbeats. A hand comes to rest against strings, stilling the notes of music, and he sits for a time in solitude, listening to the gentle silence of night.

The ever present swishing of the waves that swirled about the base of the tower far below, rises to fill his ears with their mesmerizing regularity. Gulls were long abed, and the lonely towers were too far at sea for owls to venture near. Yet in that quiet space, another sound emerges, this one from the bedchamber behind him. Though her sleep had finally entered serenity, the terrors of a mind that had endured both the regard of the Unicorn and the power of the Pattern finally put to their rest, nonetheless the young princess searched for something in her sleep. A soft, sighing moan that ends in a whimper arises from the bed.

Rising from his seat, Kendall stretches back and shoulders that had become cramped from leaning over his lute, reaching into the sky as though embracing the stars themselves. After a deep breath of the fresh air, he then rejoins the other two occupants in a chamber lit now by candles. The maid, stubborn in her efforts to appear unruffled in the current circumstance, still worked at her needlepoint in the dim light. Grey eyes flicker toward the Lord as he enters, a cursory glance as he continues about his business within his chambers. Her posture seemed to tighten, the rigidity of her spine growing with his presence. The project was set aside for the moment, her fingers wringing the cool rag to apply to Margot's cheeks and neck.

And just at that heartbeat, there's a soft tap at the door. It opens at Kendall's acknowledgement to reveal Rory with Detlef just behind him, one of the escorts having Watch upon the main door to this tower. Worry appears on both brows, and the red-haired servant approaches the Chaos Lord to speak quietly.

"The Princess's Lady in Waiting has also arrived," Rory relays to his master. "And she…" He pauses. "And requires entrance."

A Chanicut servant would do anything not to ruin their lord's mood. Rory even more so, after this day, but still the servant presses on. "Faris and Detlef are wary of her, and have advised not to allow her in."

"Can you explain their counsel?" Kendall requests, looking from Rory to Detlef.

"Milord," Detlef responses, elder in both age and experience. "She, beyond the door first refused to give Title or even House, then demanded entrance like a Lord… and finally, both of we share sense of Serpent's Stare."

The Lord's gaze travels from person to person in the room, finding this news interesting in light of Desrianne's presence. She especially earns a penetrating stare, but no words are spoken to her directly. Who else might demand entrance to the Tower at this time and under such circumstances? Curiosity…. probably his greatest weakness. Chaos had no saying about curiosity that involved a cat, but there were others of similar tone, which he chose to ignore right now.

"My robe, Rory," he calls for in his calm voice at last. He proceeds to dress, unhurried and careful to make sure all details are correct, just as he would in preparation of official contact with anyone in the world beyond Chanicut.

"We shall not admit this person to the Tower as yet," he asserts to Detlef. "On account of security to the Ambassador. However, I will speak to her on the bridge. And you," he looks at Desrianne. "You will accompany me."

A scowl flickered briefly across the otherwise neutral expression. She did not wish to have the meddling assistance of anyone, be it the Lady in Waiting OR the Chaosians. But, this was not the troubling notion. Margot did not have claim to an official Lady-in-Waiting, at least none that she was aware of. Her gaze moved to the red haired servant, and then to the two guards, her own trepidation at allowing the other woman into Vigil swirling in grey eyes. "Of course, Lord Kendallarithan."

Desrianne's head inclines respectfully, but then her gaze moves to the slumbering form on the bed. "I would like to request that Master Rory remain with the Princess in my stead, should the princess have need of anything." Her voice was kept calm, but the frigidity had been replaced with flavors of caution or concern. Her eyes lingered on Margot for a moment before returning to the Lord.

The aforementioned servant holds the green velvet robe up so that Kendall can step into it, settling it across shoulders and adjusting the hang in the back. The Lord tugs one last seam into alignment, the heavy sleeve hanging just so. "Very well," he answers the maid's request after a pause to make her think he had actually considered saying no. He gives his servant a glance with a brief nod.

"Thank you, Lord Kendallarithan," she responds, a hand touching her heart as she once more shows her respect. Despite the stalwart stoicism she has shone the Chaosians since arriving in their domain, there is a real sense of genuine appreciation and perhaps gratitude … or is it relief … in her disposition, though it only reveals itself for the briefest of moments before retreating behind her steely exterior.

Desrianne approached the Lord, sure to keep a respectable distance with her hands held within the folds of her gown and her posture held with the practiced import of a nobleman's attendant. "Since Princess Margot has come to Amber, I have been … gifted … with innumerable surprises. It will be an interesting discovery, I believe for us both, to spy the one that has self-proclaimed herself the Princess' Lady." The attendant's tone was conversational as she waited to follow the guardsmen and the Lord to their destination.

That faint half-smile appeared to grace the Chaos Lord's lips at the maid's statement, but he otherwise does not respond. They both follow their escort to the entry way of the tower in silence. Once at the grand doors, as his warriors acquire the wicked hook spears that could prevent a rush… Kendall has a chance to use, the watch-hole within the door. The woman beyond is tall and slender, yet even with her face concealed there is arrogance in her pose. The shimmering cloak of Rebman silk envelopes her, its hood up with only some strands of autumn brown spilling out. Whoever she really is, there is a slight echoing in Kendall's formidable memory of seeing the same posture long ago. But then, it could have been here in dreary Amber with one of the other Princesses, or one of Queen Morgana's female knights.

Kendall cannot put together a face with the posture that would match someone claiming in this circumstance to be a Lady in Waiting for the Princess Margot. The clues are simply too disparate. Even so, he worries the problem in his mind up to the last possible heartbeat, in case enlightenment might spring forth with even the slightest advantage. His expression becomes closed and guarded as Detlef reaches to open the door, and a tiny portion of his mind, as always, formulates the best means of personal defense if the situation warranted. Hands out, arms loosely at his sides so as not to be caught unprepared, he gives Detlef a nod of permission to open the door.

Grey eyes rake over the cloaked vision through the window, though Desrianne also found she did not recognize the woman except that she was certainly not part of Margot's retinue. Her presence remained respectfully obedient, slightly behind the Chaosian and to the left. There was little more than she could do than observe… and hope that the Lord had spent a modicum of resources seeing to the training of his men.

The door opens, the unknown woman already knowing… and as if in a drama, upon a stage, she reaches up to flip down her hood. Her features known, seen in Thelbane many times over the Cycles when Kendall was there. Hell Maiden, War Mistress, Grandchild of Prince Benedict…. Dara of Hendrake!

She who lead the Chaos Armies into Amber, and was defeated and made prisoner. Here now before his door, a threat beyond even the worst. This woman, who fought her way to the top of the Hendrake hierarchy. Within steps of becoming its head, and then falling as far as any of their House could. Further now, it seems… Yet she could, if it was her aim, kill all at the door and his Uncle beyond with an ease that is beyond frightening. Not even the lack of weapons in hand or on belt allay this danger, since Dara is both a shape-shifter and Logrus Initiate. Kendall himself, being too late to witness, yet seeing feeble flickers of the flaming blood upon the black stone where she duel an enemy once in the Royal Court, tearing off a Lord's head with claws alone, even as his spell shattered her bones.

Dara of Hendrake, worse than any Queen of Amber, for she wasn't a stranger to the ways of the Courts. And it's with a vicious smile that she meets his gaze without fear.

Resolve wavers, and with a gasp Desrianne unconsciously takes the tiniest step back. Born of Amber and Chaos, Dara was terrifying beyond compare. The matron could not possibly fathom what purpose the Chaos Lady might have for making such a claim, and she suddenly felt the protective tug at her heart to return to Margot's side. There was little she could do about it at this moment, though; her place was committed to be at her Princess' lover's side. Grey eyes cast away, fearing for Margot's well-being and safety, but determined not to disgrace her mistress.

An eyebrow rises, and a smile comes to Kendall's lips. It is the smile of an artist who admires the silken strands of fate and chance that had woven such an ironic tapestry of his experiences here in Amber. The smile is followed immediately by a bow, graceful and flawless in its execution. Though not so deferential as would be given to his own honorable parents, nevertheless he salutes a most accomplished woman, even one who had ultimately seen her schemes crumble about her.

"Lady Dara of Hendrake," he greets her, straightening up and standing tall and calm before her. "Welcome. Your visit is a surprise and unexpected pleasure. One hopes."

"Lord Kendallarithan Chanicut, Lord of Protocol, Minister of Friendship," Dara replies, in the formal Court speech between equals. "And now, Princess Margot's escort." Hers, tis the conventional curtsy of recognition as is done in the gardens of Thelbane and other public places. "I take it, your brother Cedric is still healthy… Diona, Duke Ulrich, Lady Grania."

"I have had no news of calamity that would lead me to believe otherwise, thank you," he answers, folding his arms and tucking his hands into his sleeves in his habitual pose. Which brings close to hand, incidentally, the stiletto blade that finds home on his right arm. He pauses for a heartbeat, and then continues. "Would you care to partake of Chanicut's hospitality? We are far from the turning sky of Chaos, but the courtesy of the Courts is never distant from our hearts. I would also, with your leave, inform Ambassador Brisbane of your visit."

Undoubtedly the exchange between the two had been noted and word would be passed to Brisbane with all appropriate speed. Though Rory was occupied with other duties, Siorys would hardly be caught unprepared, and the other servants would already be rushing to prepare one of the reception rooms for this meeting.

"Tis my pleasure to again meet the old quondam." She replies, striding closer in hunger. Perhaps him, or his uncle, even Margot beyond… but certainly not for Desrianne, for Dara hasn't even spared the servant a glance. "I take it, his time in Amber hasn't been too stressful?"

Kendall signals the guards still arranged in defensive pose to allow Dara to enter unmolested. He extends his hand as she approaches, all gentlemanly politeness ready to escort her to an appropriate setting. He refuses to be intimidated, or at least he refuses to let on if he is. "Stressful? Not at all," he answers, all of his attention centered on the arresting woman. "I believe the most appropriate word to describe our stay here in Amber would be dull."

Placing hers on top of his lightly, aware of the risk in case he attempts to binds. For after all, she is of Hendrake, the most militarist of the Houses. Even in Love, they go to War. "In that, I would be forced to agree," Dara replies in good humor.

Desrianne watched the Chaosians engage one another, her expression riding the dark side of neutral that brushed against a scowl. Begrudgingly, she had to give credit to the Lord for maintaining formal body language and pleasantries. At least they weren't rutting on first sight. She supposed that meant that some of them possessed some manner of self-control and dignity.

Kendall does notice, a slenderness in the warmaiden's arm, a stride that is graceful yet lacking the strength of the past. As if, these Amberites have been starving her. And in this condition, Kendall's chances are a little better if this turns to hostility of the kind that leaves the floors a-burning.

"And you?" she asks.

"I have found ways to keep myself occupied," he answers her. "My time in Amber has not been entirely without recompense."

As he and the Lady turn to walk together to the sitting room, his eye falls upon the maid who had come here to tend to the princess. He makes a small dismissing gesture with his free hand to the maid. "You may return to your other duties."

"Thank you, Lord Kendallarithan. Of course." The matron, inclined her head to the Lord before gifting Dara a lesser bob of the head. She turns on her heel to return to the princess, a mixture of rage and dismay simmering within her as she contemplated what Dara's game could possibly be…

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
Knives Out: Conversation with Dara

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