Dancing in the Dust Motes

Kendall leads Margot from the Hyacinth Room, but pauses just outside the closed door to address the white-haired servant that Margot knew as Siorys. She waits politely, stepping aside until the business at hand is finished.

"See to it that the final preparations for departure are begun," the Lord says. "And have the Captain report to me."

Siorys bows and then hurries off, leaving Kendall and Margot alone together in the hall.

The Lord watches Siorys disappear and then turns to evaluate the princess, studying her profile for several heartbeats before moving to her side. "Come with me, Margot," he invites her.

A hand at her elbow, he leads her down shadowy, silent hallways until they reach a tiny alcove no more than eight feet across. Tiny, but exquisitely appointed with tall, peaked window displaying a view of the castle across the bridge and a padded bench under the window. A curtain held back by silken ties could cover the opening if privacy was desired.

One wall was painted with a young woman in a small clearing surrounded by woods. She sat under a tall tree whose branches rose to the ceiling of the alcove, gazing longingly into the distance. The opposite wall depicted the same forest setting, but the young woman now clasped a young man in an affectionate embrace.

"Sit here, shayna, and collect yourself," Kendall says softly, leading her to sit on the bench next to the window.

She nods as she sits, eyes focusing outside the window to the horizon. No longer expected to maintain a strong facade, adrenaline sought release and she trembled, limbs vibrating where no other option availed itself.

"I'm sorry," she whispered after several moments of silence. "I… didn't know what else to do."

"There is no apology needed, Margot," Kendall replies, voice still soft and reassuring. He takes a seat as well, angled so as to face her on the bench. "You did very well."

Her head turns to face him before her eyes rise to meet his. "I did?" she asks, her brows pinched together. Her whole body held the weight of the world, the strain evident on her shoulders as they tighten. Her fingers remain knotted together, tightly wound around the other, anchored so that one could not abandon the other. "You are not upset with me?"

"Upset," he repeats, puzzlement apparent in his frown. He lays a hand on top of her knotted ones. "Upset by what?"

"With…" her lips press thin. "With accepting the Hendrake into service despite your concerns and counsel. I… I… It was just … she had some valid points but more than that I just didn't think it was worth the risk of potentially having her out there working against me. Us. The pragmatist tells me waste not, want not and to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

She shrugs, struggling to give voice to her doubts and fears. "I don't know where she fits… but it seems to turn Dara away is a foolish idea nonetheless. Rules, boundaries… will have to be addressed and determined… but, I needed to escape. It was all so overwhelming. She's terrifying! And everyone was speaking of things that I had no appreciation of… I felt like such an outsider, which I think was on purpose."

She sighs, eyes closing as her head leans against the wall behind her. "Though I learned a great deal just by listening and observing… and then I felt like such a child trying to speak with a room full of adults when we were sitting around the table."

"Do you not recall me counseling you to accept her into your service?" he asks. "Or did our lovemaking afterwards drive all memory of this from you?" It would seem he is making a small joke, tone glazed with irony, but his gaze is still… puzzled. As though the question is half serious.

A small smile appears as one hand loosens to weave into his. "I remember. But I also recall you expressing concern about having her close. Different perspectives from different roles and having to weigh all of that information. I wish I felt better about this, that is all. I worry…"

Her eyes open to search his in earnest. "I will do everything I am able to ensure she does not bring you harm. I don't know how yet… but… I'll figure something out," she promises with all her heart in her voice.

A weighted silence rises up between them as he stares at her, that infernal puzzlement still hovering about his quizzical gaze as though he finds her challenging to categorize. Yet something else, harder to define, colors his tone when at last he answers. Something of a nobleman, something of pride and mistrust and self reliance.

"I attest to you, Margot, I have been looking after myself for many Cycles," he asserts. "For more Cycles than you have drawn air. The task of my protection does not fall solely to you by any means."

Dark eyes turn away from his, falling to their joined hands. "But are her acts not my responsibility? And I still do not know what terms were agreed upon in confidence."

Lashes kiss her cheeks. "Your ability to protect yourself was never in question, Kendall. Only how deep the well of my mother's ire was and how far her reach extends… and whether she can forgive even if she cannot forget."

The Princess' voice crack as she reveals her hidden fear and whether she would be able to shield her lover from plans her mother had put into motion. She was so young and so ill-equipped to be entering into this arena; standing against veterans and experts who had been mastering their techniques for centuries. How could she possibly combat such odds and survive let alone succeed?!

Before the Chaosian can decide how to respond to Margot's confession, the sounds of boots against stone announce a new arrival. Margot's posture instantly stiffens into formality as she dons her mask once more. No one can see her upset. No one can see her weak. Her attention moves to the window while she composes herself so that when the footfalls end at the threshold, the princess is once more a picture of serenity.

Kendall looks up, and then stands to meet the uniformed guardsman. Their fingers slip apart when he stands and Margot's eyes linger on his hand as he walks over to the guard, almost in mourning as the ghost of his warmth abandoned her hand. Her only resolution is to weave her hands together once more in her lap and patiently observe what was to come.

The officer stops a few steps away, bowing first to his Lord and then giving Margot also a deferential nod. Kendall acknowledges the man's bow and then they both step a short distance away into the hallway to speak in quiet tones in a language the princess is not privy to. Their talk is very short, however. Kendall makes several statements, a question or two is voiced, answers given. The captain salutes Lord and princess, and then departs at a brisk walk, his boots clicking against the floor once again.

The lord watches the other man disappear before returning to the alcove where Margot rested. Stopping at the edge of the doorway, he unbinds the cord holding the curtain back so that the sumptuous fabric can fall over the opening. Pushing past the curtain, he rejoins her in the private nook. "You may rest here for a time, if you wish it Margot. Until tis time for us to go to the ship that will bear us out of Amber."

She stares out to the horizon through the window. Even though they would be on an ocean voyage, she felt a pull to be outside, to hear the waves crash below, to watch the butterflies and take one last look at the fairy-tale castle she had once assumed was a dream captured in that watercolor painting. Not Amber. Not home.

"Is there a balcony… or some easy way to get out there?" she asks, pointing out the window.

"Yes, my sweet," he answers. "Shall we go together to say farewell to this place?"

"I would like that. This place was never home, but I believe I will miss it nonetheless," she admits, accepting his hand to assist her to her feet.

Kendall leads her out of the alcove, his hand resting at the small of her back as they walk. Their travels are not long, moving through a short series of turns and up a flight of steps. Double doors open to an expansive balcony containing a seemingly wild, yet obviously tended garden.

The Chaosian leads her to a railing wrapped with twining vines and dotted with pale orange flowers. The sun is high in the impossibly blue sky but already starting to slant, leaving their perch partially in shade. Amidst the distant rumbling of the ocean waves far below and the cries of gulls that wheeled and dove above, other chirping and warbling could be heard from smaller, fluttering birds that had found their way to the garden. Hopping, darting shapes moved among plants, tasting of nectar or searching for insects.

Kendall stands behind her, arms coming about her and holding her against his chest. The breeze lifts Margot's hair in shining dark strands and ruffles his shorter locks. They stand for a time quietly, his hands slowly caressing her arms, both looking over to the shining castle that shone brightly in the noontime sun.

"I always believed this place to be out of fairy tales. I even had a painting of it. Watercolors," she explains. "I never imagined that the picture that hung on my wall for all those years was real and where I lived was the place of fantasy."

The juxtaposition of having Amber upon her wall, ever present and never realizing it while she lived a lie, seemed a poignant and ironic statement of her life. "People will perceive a Princess of Amber. An Amberite… someone who cut their teeth on games of intrigue and manipulations. That is not who I am. So, do I conform to the expectation or do I present who I am?"

He looks over to the castle quietly for a brief time, thinking on old tales and newer experience. "One never shows all at first," he says at last. "Should the need arise, there would be nothing left in reserve." An answer of tactics and strategy, rather than heart.

Eyes drift closed as her head leans over to rest against his. "Truer words were never uttered," she breathes, a sadness lingering in her tone even as she accepts the reality of his counsel.

"I will miss aspects of this place… but I do not think I will miss Amber, any more than I missed the Academy," the princess adds. "It is a place of learning, but not a place of warmth, a place where connections of the heart and soul were made with the mystical land. The grotto will hold fond memories, as will the pools and the beach. The children, and some of the girls I had met in my very short stay. But this place is foreign, a place that I visited for a short time. I shall represent it and its interest to the best of my ability because it is my role to do so honorably and with dignity, but…I feel no emotion, no love for this place. It's not that I have hatred for this place. I just feel … nothing."

Margot turned in his arms, her expression disturbed. "A part of me tells me that this is perfectly acceptable, yet another whispers that I'm cold and insensitive and my loyalties falter because I do not commit without question. So, tell me: am I a monster because I care for the people's well-being yet I still have little concern for the relic that stands on this ground and all that it signifies?"

Kendall's hands drop to rest at her waist as she faces him. "I feel I cannot answer your question in a way that will have meaning in your heart," he answers, his calm and measured words flowing more slowly than usual.

"But I would pose this question for you to ponder: what is Amber?" he asks. "Is it the stone and soil beyond this tower? The lands and buildings that rise up from the ground with the castle overlooking all? Is it the people within these structures, who live and die, build and destroy, and who drive the plots and plans? Or is it a combination of these things."

Lifting one hand, he presses fingers against her lips before she can respond. "Do not answer this question to me. It is a question to consider to yourself. What does it mean to you, now as you claim yourself emissary of the House of Amber to Chaos?"

Margot's lips brush his fingers before her chin moves slightly to allow herself the indulgence of nuzzling his hand. Lips touch her forehead in tender kiss, but a sound from nearby interrupts before more words are said. The sound of a throat clearing, a low and deferential sound. Not surprised himself, Kendall turns towards the sound, arms still warmly clasping Margot against him.

A guardsman stood at the top of the stairs at stiff attention. The Lord nods to acknowledge the summons, dismissing him with a wave.

Extending his arm once more, Kendall escorts Margot back to the main entry hall of the tower once more, where evidence of change can finally be seen. Though the furnishings and decor remained — their use loaned to the Chaosians along with the tower — the three green ensigns no longer hung on the wall across from the main door. A painting hung there now instead, a forgettable depiction of a fox hunt previously hidden by the striking green banner.

The Ambassador and Lady Dara were already there, the guard escort waiting patiently for the final word, which Brisbane gives through a simple nod. A signal to all that they would finally leave this wretched place.

The younger Chaos Lord and the Amberite Princess approach the Ambassador and Lady in Waiting, arm in arm. Kendall stops a comfortable distance from the other two, bowing first to his superior before nodding to the Hendrake. "I am pleased to say all is in readiness, sir," he addresses Brisbane. "I look forward to quitting this place, and soon."

Still silent, Margot followed Kendall's lead. As he bowed, her curtsy flows with his movement. A smile soon follows for Dara, warm and appreciative for her time and patience as she too bows her head in deference to the fierce companion.

"You two seem to be in a good mood," Brisbane replies, giving a nod to his protégé and a bow to the princess. "What mischief do we need to be warned about?"

"Or any liaison we need to deny?" Dara adds, her curtsy low to her Lady. She lifts her hood back up over her head after the greetings are done, hiding her face in the shadows of fabric for the walk through the castle. There were none in the castle or the city who hadn't lost a family member, loved one, or friend in the war, and she did not wish to be recognized.

Kendall's lips quirk into a half-smile. "Warnings spoil the surprise," he remarks.

Margot stared up at Kendall with a smirk. "Warnings and surprises, indeed," she dismisses as well, despite the lovely shade of rose her cheeks took on.

With their escorts ready, House Chanicut's own men and double that of Amber Knights, the party leaves the towers named Maeve's Vigil for the last time. The walk through the castle to the courtyard is long and silent, in spite of the number of courtiers, guards, and servants who stood gawking. It wasn't until the Chaosians reach the carriage that the whispers start, circulating in hallways and around corners, reaching every corner.

Return to the list of Kendall's threads.
Journey's Beginning: Departing Amber

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License