Resolutions & Understandings

It was difficult for the Princess not to pace; almost as difficult as it was to keep her breathing in check and her pulse at a reasonable rate. This would not be the time for panic; or to faint with an anxiety attack. Margot kept reminding herself that she was the authority figure, she was the Princess, she needed to maintain control of the situation. And still, why did these things not bolster her confidence.

Rory, Desrianne and of course Kendall were marvelous in helping her prepare. But, really, everything rested upon her shoulders and in those first seconds when Dara arrived.

A distraction, that was what the Princess needed. So, taking up her primer, she sat at the table where they would have their conversation - at least that was Margot's goal - and studied the simple words upon the page until the familiar sound of someone requesting entrance drew her attention to the threshold.

Its Dara's voice, empty to the warmth she just shared with Kendall. The nails of duty, drives every word to her ears as the door beetles shift about uneasy to what they sense beyond.

"You summoned me, Milady?"

Margot closed the book, setting it aside and rose. Despite the frigid reception, the Princess was determined to make this as civil and pleasant as possible and so she began with a warm smile, "That is correct, Dara. Please, sit with me and enjoy some refreshments. There are a few things I would like to discuss with you."

Dara, in a long-sleeve gown of black silk that leaves little skin bare. A belt of copper roses about her waist, twin daggers of silver and a small sword hanging there with ribbons of Margot's colors entwined about their chains. Her shoes, flats made of shark skin that could rip a man's face off with a kick.

Taking a place near her Lady, yet not near enough to suggest intimacy. As to the offer of drink, Dara waves they off with this excuse "I already consumed enough, to fuel my healing." Which looking about, to her arms and legs, indeed Dara is fully healed from her fall.

"At what point, did I displease you?" Dara asks.

Undeterred, the Princess still pours a goblet for Dara before filling one for herself. "I did not request your presence because I am not pleased, Dara. I wish to speak with you about some of the recent events since we set sail. Not at you. Not to you. With you."

Margot lifted the glass to her lips, "I am relieved that you have healed. My concern for your well-being was genuine and you waved me off. Clearly, I do not have an appreciation for what it is to possess such a gift."

After taking her sip, the goblet returned to the placeholder that kept the vessel from sloshing around, "I also wanted to thank you for your care and protection when the ship was attacked. For tending to me and for seeing that no harm came to Kendall. The latter, I can imagine, was less than palatable. I put my trust and faith and all that I hold dear in your care. Thank you for honoring that command."

Margot's eyes wandered the features of the woman that sat opposite her. They were so different in so many ways. She knew the words were from her heart; and yet, she couldn't help but wonder if the Hellmaiden was looking for deception and manipulation.

"I also wish to thank you for coming to my aid earlier in here. You also deserve my sincerest apology. The tale of what happened in its fullest I will share with you if you desire, but in the end, an accident occurred, an offense taken. I meant no insult by ordering you stand down; I was trying to diffuse a volatile situation that I had inadvertently created. That you did not advance validated I meant what I promised; that I was a person of my word, but I regret that you were involved in the whole debacle."

She took another sip of the wine, "I appreciated the gesture with the br'rr berries; though, it pained me to see you harmed in harvesting them. I must admit, your acrobatic feats as you tumbled from mast to deck had me awed until the end. The few berries I had were delicious and listening to you speak of Chaos as you recalled was mesmerizing…"

Margot smiled, "How much of your energy and focus must you invest in healing yourself? Is it like deep meditation, or automatic like breathing? You were speaking, so, I have no idea how much distress you were truly under. Will you explain it to me, please?"

Through-out all, Dara stays respectfully quiet till her lady pauses to allow a reply. She first bows to the many compliments, not as low as Rory would but still low enough. To the questions, Dara cocks her head in interest to why Margot would ask.

"That was minor, mere child's play to a Maiden who fought in many campaigns. " Dara answers. "Yet that wasn't your question as much as do I believe you could learn it." She pauses. "Yes, with the proper teaching I think you could learn at least self-healing enough to prevent yourself from bleeding to death when the time comes and you get stabbed."

Margot does little to hide the pleasant surprise she finds in the Lady's answer; nor did she allow Dara see the hint of distress that made her stomach drop at the definitive of when rather than the possibility of if. "This is a delightful possibility," she answers. "And it would be something that I would care to explore with you further once we have settled in Chaos; in addition to all the other training in ways of the sword, etiquette, history…" Margot let out a slow breath, "Everything. I will come to rely upon you quite heavily as I learn to navigate these new waters."

Dara nods in agreement.

The smile returned as she reached for another sip of wine. "I am a little confused about somethings and it is my hope that you will be able to assist me sort through the tangled web that is my memory," the Princess began, "I recall you speaking of Hendrake and how potent the Maiden's blood was. I recall, vaguely, talk of how the berries you had harvested to aid my belabored spirits were unnecessary and had little impact upon those of your House. And then… I suddenly began to feel very poor, dizzy and disoriented. I couldn't speak, I could barely move. Rory tells he found me dangerously close to the railing of the ship and brought me here. It was only then that we all discovered that the br'rr berries and I are not well-suited; the reaction I had was quite severe and blood-letting was required."

To this, she almost rolls her eyes at the Chanicut servant making the Abyss from a mere moat.

"The last lucid memory I have of you was you sitting upon the rail, staring out to the sea. I am troubled by this hazy gap in memory, especially since at every turn you have been at my side at the first sign of distress. Rory does not recall much, but he admits openly that he was preoccupied with getting me to the cabin. Please help me understand the events that I do not fully recall."

"I did as you asked… I didn't interfere." Dara explains. "Your choices, even if they were mistakes… they had to be yours, you told me. While I didn't think you would react that way to my gift, it wasn't beyond my experience. Its been known to happen, yet you where in no real harm from them or falling overboard." She smiles, wide and beautiful like a hungry tiger before its prey. "You did ask of me, to lay choice in your hands and step away. I did so, yet now you ask why I did."

Dara shrugs, reaching to pat her sword. "I will guard your life, the confines of your mind, yet you will not be whole at the end of this. If ever I return to Amber, I know it will be to return the broken you." Her smile becomes sad, yet proud. "That is the price of walking your own path, and one you need to learn… the only real person that can keep you safe, happy, is you alone."

She waves a hand towards the cabin. "This is mere armor, as is he, for the Serpent awaits you alone. And on that day, none of this will matter. The story of the berries will just be used to amuse your party guests, like catching a finger in a door as a child. On that day, you will do something beyond what I, your lover, your mother, all of your bloodline was able besides She who sired you all. On that day, you will become the woman you always wanted to be. So why now should I step in your way?"

Margot listened patiently, rapt in how delicately eloquent the Lady was. "You speak beautifully, though the riddles only seem to add to my confusion," she replied with no hint of sarcasm, only confusion on whether to reflect or ask further questions. "Nevertheless, I am confident that we will learn how to engage one another and a great part of that respect, trust and expectations. I wish to learn from you, Dara. You are a glorious trove of knowledge and I wish to appreciate that which you have lived and learned and completed."

Another sip from the goblet and Margot returned it to its home. "You were confident that any suffering or reaction I endured would have been superficial. And yet, the danger from my perspective was very real. Was a lesson taught and learned? certainly. Will I continue to make mistakes? Undoubtedly. In the future, if I am distressed, regardless of how superficial or innocuous the harm may be, I expect to have the person I am to entrust my life with; you, Lady Dara, at my side."

"Add this to your confusion: what would have happened if I had stepped in?" Dara asks. "Would you treasure that memory as you do now with what did happen? Would his scent still be upon you, would the same words ring in your ears?"

She draws a dagger, holding it out in a palm. "Even in loss, we learn.. and in the bad, comes the good." She moves to handle the dagger to Margot. "With this, I promise never to hold your hand like a mother. For you are a sister, so allowed to make choices… as I too, am allowed from time to time. And if its a mistake, then its one we won't make again," Her smile wide, enjoying the moment. "But if it will make you happy, you may stab me. I won't mind.."

Blade offered, and accepted, Margot examined the exquisite piece of steel against her own palm. "You are correct; events would have unfolded very differently. Truth be told, I cannot fathom as to whether your ministrations would have borne kindness, or with the exacting swiftness that I have seen you display in several occasions in such a short amount of time. Kendall would have been left to his solitude and would have perhaps learned of what had happened at some point later in the evening when tempers had calmed and weariness demanded the comforts of a bed."

Her eyes remained on the bill, "And yet, your presence at a time when I was frightened and distressed would have reinforced my belief and faith in our sisterhood." There was a sadness in her eyes as she caught her reflection along the blade. Returning the blade to Dara hilt first and palm up, "I have no desire to stab you or to cause you any harm. I suspect we will continue to have misunderstandings while we learn from one another. As you say, we are sisters."

"Soon you will be even more frightened, distressed, than ever before in your young life." Dara advises. "That is a fact that none of us can change. As they say in Rebma, we soon be swimming in very deep waters. And from time to time, you will be alone." For the first time, Margot can see a touch of pity in Dara's eyes. "You mother never said it, but I believe she wanted me to give you that inner strength to do so by yourself. Move the Court by your will alone, with only I to watch your back… just in case."

She gives a shrug, most of this just a feeling to unspoken words. "I will hold your hand when necessary, yet other times I must release it even if you stumble. We learn nothing if someone else does all the fighting, all the bleeding and suffering." Dara takes the dagger, sliding it back into place. "If the offer had been reverse, I would have stabbed you because you asked. Lord Kendall…. well, you need to ask him."

"I know you would have; I would have expected nothing less of you, Dara." Margot responded with grave sincerity. "And I have little doubt that what lies ahead will be … complicated, challenging and yes, terrifying." A small smile formed, genuine and warm, kissing her dark orbs, "But, I appreciate you stating it all the same."

Dara gives shrug, acting as if unaffected by the sentiment.

"What is it you believe I want to become? You spoke as if you knew my desires better than I know my own heart and your words were the faint whispers of some portent. Why do say I am to move the Court by my will alone?" Her questions did not flow in the form of interrogation; Margot's genuine interest was plain in her expression, as was her desire to understand.

"You're the daughter of a queen," is Dara's simple answer.

"This is true, but it does not answer my question. What did you mean that I will do what none but She who Sired us all had? And why would I capture the notice of the Serpent beyond anything cursory? Please explain with greater detail so I may understand your meaning."

"Only two of your bloodline have ever spoke to the Serpent, those that founded your House." Dara explains, yet leave somethings out. "And to offer yourself to the Serpent, to chance a fate few survive… would show worth beyond even my deeds. And in that timeless moment, you could make a request, a boon from He to you and your children. Power beyond power if that was your wish, even the crown. There is no god more powerful then the Serpent, and none more precarious…"

"You give me much to think on." Margot admits, softly. "I admit, an opportunity to have audience with the Serpent would be a tremendous honor; one that would not be refused were I to be summoned before Him." Once more the wine goblet finds its way to her hands, "I do not know whether I should be amused or concerned with the depth with which others seem to envision my ambitions or desires."

"We see all others like in a mirror." Dara shares.

She sat quietly for a few moments more, sipping from the wine, her eyes distant. "I very much appreciate all that you have shared and will continue to appreciate your candor and advisement."

"I told you nothing you didn't know already."

Margot's eyes returned to the Lady, "As for our future, I am pleased that we will grow our sisterhood in such a fashion so that there will be little question as to when or in what capacity I will need. I trust that we will become so aware of one another that these moments will become second nature, like breathing. And similarly, I will follow in your example so that when the time suits, I may come to navigate these deep waters alone. Respect and responsibility; I offer you both and expect the same in return, Sister."

"Milady, what you need is only to become more like me.. and I, like you." She looks about the room, dismissive. "Your Grand Sire, she didn't ask to become the Unicorn, she simply became. She didn't ask for permission before, nor after. You ask for no chains, yet always do you offer a wrist. My respect, his love, the plots that float about so heavy I'm surprised they haven't suffocated you." With a snap, she pulls off the dagger she offered, to offer again sheath and all. "As eldest sister, its my duty to tell you… soon it will become the time of blood."

Margot rose, accepting the sheath, turning it once more in her hand. This time, when she spoke with weapon wielded, she met the other's eyes. "When is it not a time for blood?"

"You are correct, it is not my way to take what is not offered. I believe there was purpose in seeing that my heart was gentle and my person malleable. Compliant."

She arched her brow, staring at the blade, "Perhaps even submissive. I am uninformed but not ignorant. I may not appreciate the nuances of what swirls around me to their full extent, but I am aware of their existence. There are things I expect, and others I know I must earn. I do not require your respect, I expect your loyalty; you have earned my respect, though I am not certain that is of import to you. I love Kendall with all that I am and all that I will be; but I do not ask anything of him beyond what he is able to give. I have no expectations; only he can speak to where, how, or if I fit into his vision. The only certainty, as of now, is the arrangement that House Chanicut will sponsor my arrival and visit in Chaos once my presence is formally announced in the Courts."

Margot's stature was regal, surprisingly calm and composed given their conversation and the person she was alone with in closed quarters, "To those in Chaos, I will be an exotic pet, something to discuss and find enchanting and maybe even worth bartering over. What I will be, Sister," she drew the blade from the sheath and handed it to Dara, her hand open to accept the Dara's letting of her blood, "Is overlooked and underestimated… and as such, will allow opportunities to avail themselves where no others would."

Taking the dagger, raising it high for a painful strike…not a mere cut, but a piecing. Watching Margot, her eyes ever second for any sign of fear or doubts. And like swinging a deathstroke, Dara brings the dagger down with all her strength and skil to stop with the tip just pressing on the skin.

Margot remained still, so still she could have been carved from diamond itself. She did not watch the blade; her eyes focused on the Hendrake's piercing gaze. The other hand held the sheath at her side, knuckles white, waiting for the blow. Somewhere in her mind, she contemplated whether it would hurt more than the sloppy mess she had made of her hand earlier. After all, Dara was a skilled master with a blade, nothing but precision would be expected from her steel.

Was there fear lurking in her eyes? Some. What fool wouldn't be terrified of such a sight. But beyond that was conviction, stalwart and stubborn; just as she had faced Diona when her life was threatened, she met Dara with the same gaze.

Moving the dagger away, to bend low and kiss Margot's open palm before standing and moving to the door.

It was the kiss that surprised the Princess, her exhalation releasing the rigidity in her form.

"But now, isn't the time… even for the pain you think you deserve." Her smile, haunting, the proud Hendrake General returning just for a moment. "Pain is like wine to many, drinking till they forgot…becoming sad little things. So if you wish my forgivness, become stronger then you where. Grow little sister, grow…"

And with that, those last kind words… Dara leaves her Mistress in the stillness.

Alone…

Before Margot realized it, the sheath and her Lady with her blade had left. Breathless, she stared at her hand, the fingers of her other gently tracing the place where Dara's lips brushed her flesh. The exchange was so surreal, Margot had the eerie sensation that it did not happen at all and was nothing more than a dream, or worse, a visit from an apparition.

It was only then that her body began to shake; the adrenaline needing escape. Were she to dare admit it to herself, she was proud. Elated. She survived an encounter with Dara without bloodshed or venom. A walk on the deck was required; to work off some of her new-found energy. Grabbing her cloak, she set out for the deck.

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