First Engagement: A Battle of Wills

Margot nods in reluctant agreement with his assertion. "How does this work, preparing for our day? Do we bathe at the same time? Separately? Take turns in the bathroom? We've only bathed in the eve or when we're retiring to your chambers; this is a new experience for me."

"It would be most efficient for us to prepare individually," he answers after some thought. No matter how fastidious he was, he still required less primping time than any woman. His voice turns dry as he stands to offer a hand to her. "Your maid would be much more comfortable assisting with your bath without my presence, and there is much to be said for having time apart. There is a second bath elsewhere in the Tower, which I will take for my use this time."

Accepting his hand, she rises with little effort and beams affectionately, bringing his fingertips to her lips. "Thank you for the sacrifice to your convenience."

Turning, she bent to pick up both robes, his first and holding it out for him to slide into and tying it closed before collecting her own and handing it to him to assist her into. Margot looked at the mess they made, running a hand through her hair. Still, the memory of their savage need and passionate consummation drew a smile to her lips. Taking his hand, she led him away from their love nest.

"You asked how I should be introduced… if there was a more specific name when I was wondering if you would acknowledge that I was your lover." Margot breathed, her fingers tightening around his with a reassuring squeeze.

"My official name and title is Margot Zofia Simone Annaliese Kataryna Barimen, Princess of Amber, daughter of King Eric and Queen Morgana, Duchess of Asius, Countess of Egyra, Baroness of Cesicul, Lady of Trorand."

She turned and dipped into a fluid, formal curtsey. "It sounds more impressive than it is," she admitted shyly as she rose. "But, that will be our little secret. Cesicul, for example, is where I was born in… in Shadow."

He bows in response to her curtsey. "A pleasure," he says, smiling a little. "Thank you for expanding on your titles, so that I may properly introduce you."

He leads her back to the table and seats her, and then summons his servant with a single word. The door opens shortly afterwards, and Kendall orders a bath to be prepared for the princess as he finds his own chair, not taking his gaze or attention from Margot. Rhapsody radiated from the raven-haired beauty, eyes warmed with rapture for her beloved. Plucking an orange-ish berry, Margot popped it in her mouth, finding the spicy oils and succulent flesh unique, but not awful. Still, she preferred the green ones for their lighter, sweeter flavor. She selected a few of those to cleanse her palate.

Margot's expression turned thoughtful for a moment as she lifted her juice glass to her lips. "As my sponsor to House Chanicut, my destination and therefore the Hendrake's destination, it is my desire that you will be present at this meeting," she expressed with carefully selected words.

Kendall digests this request as Rory nods and departs, though the princess' maid remains. "If you wish it, Margot, I will remain," he replies, glancing up at the approach of the older servant.

"I do," she reiterates. "And—" eyes flicker to Desrianne, but her expression immediately darkens as her eyes fall from the terse expression to what the maid presents. The matron's face is stone, eyes hard, mouth thin and tight, and she carries a small tray holding teapot and dainty cup. A dutiful curtsey is offered when she reaches the table, tipping her head to the Chaos Lord before looking to Margot.

"Desrianne… Caresse," Margot was feeling ill just looking at the service set. The tea tasted awful and upset her system. So much so, that half the time she didn't eat as of late was because the thought of food made her want to vomit. "Good morning," she started, standing up and straightening her robe. "I was just about to leave for my bath…" Perhaps she could avoid taking the tea if she redirected the matron's attention… as least that was the hope.

Steely grey eyes lower and then rise at the princess' acknowledgement. She sets the tray on the table, then proceeds to pour liquid from pot to cup. "Good morning, princess. Your bath will take a short while to prepare, which will be plenty of time for you to take your daily tea."

Kendall watches the two for a heartbeat, then turns his attention back to the food on the table. He selects a honey cake and spreads it with a pungent soft cheese, an experiment with how the flavors would play together.

"Of course there is…" Margot muttered, sitting back down. Her mind raced. Did she dare tell Desrianne of the conversation she had with Kendall? About how he had the ability to… Well, perhaps during her bath… Yes, that would be alright. "It is my understanding that Rory has already been set to task, however, and the tea is…"

She was stalling, anyone could see that. "You wish for me to eat, and this tincture robs me of my appetite…" She grimaced, clearly irritated by the whole forced consumption. The alternative, however, was pregnancy. Still, Kendall insisted he had that much control over his body and he healed her with his shapeshifting…

"Fine," she finally growls. Picking up the cup, she took a sip, her face screwing up with disgust as she forced the swallow down her throat.

Grim satisfaction comes to the maid's face as Margot capitulates. Even so, she does not lord her victory to the Chaosian, as she was too intent on watching the princess like a hawk to making sure every drop would be consumed.

Studiously leaving Margot to her own affairs, nevertheless a smirk flickers across Kendall's face. Though no doubt he found the relationship between the princess and her servant…. vexing… the girl's expression was comical.

"Laugh as you like," she returned tartly, though with eyes that smiled at his amusement at her expense. "This is the price I pay for languid mornings filled with… affection," she finishes with a sheepish glance at Desrianne. She cleared her throat, a hint of rose coming with her boldness in front of her matronly maid. Indeed, the matron's jaw clenches and her lips tighten with ire at Margot's careless words.

Ignoring the maid, as was his wont, Kendall puts the last honeycake onto a plate, and then pours a sticky syrup over the bread. It wasn't something that Margot had experimented with earlier, given its intense color reminiscent of fresh blood. Drizzled on the dark bread, though, it merely looked like a darker glaze. "Try this, my sweet," he says, handing her the plate. "Between sips. Otherwise I may have need to find a new endearment for you."

The princess accepts the plate while Desrianne puts spout to glass once more to refill the pungent liquid. Before Margot can reclaim the cup, however, Kendall leans over to pick up the cup, bringing it to his lips to sip experimentally. Margot's eyes widen at Kendall's curiosity, a smile failing to stifle a giggle.

"Lord Kendallarithan," Desrianne addresses with cool patience. "Princess Margot's wellness regimen is not something to be taken lightly. Her daily dosage is carefully measured and truth be told… I am uncertain what adverse effects you may endure at your inquisitiveness."

"Desrianne, thank you for your concern for Lord Kendall's well-being," Margot interjects, the sweetened bread pinched between her fingers. Her intense gaze met grey without wavering, and her tone was a warning.

"I doubt, however, a small sip to discern what it is that I consume daily, given it is nothing more than a noxious combination of dried flowers and herbs, will cause him much strain if any at all. I assure you, it is not my choice to quaff this acrid elixir and if he would like to share my suffering even for the briefest of moments, so be it. After all, it is his choice to make and I sincerely doubt one sip less on one occasion will make the brew impotent."

For his part, Kendall completely ignores the maid's rebuke, frowning in thought as he evaluates the flavor of the tea lingering on his tongue, inhaling the aroma as though testing a fine wine.

He returns the glass to Margot's place. "Complex," he declares. "Not at all subtle, but the bold flavor could be paired with sel'ack meat glazed with, hm, fe'thar— no, the juice of the crind fruit. That would emphasize the gentler floral notes while also blunting the acrid overtones."

"Then, perhaps we could try some of those things with our breakfast so that the tea could be more … tolerable?" Margot's voice pleaded hope. Already, with the small volume drank, her stomach began to roil. Another pinch of the sweet confection, however, made it to her lips before downing another gulp of the fetid liquid.

Almost as quickly, Margot dips her finger into the sticky syrup and brings it to her mouth. "What do you call this?" she asked, finding the different layers of flavor interesting. The sanguine color was eye-catching and she inspects her fingertip, surprised it didn't stain her skin.

"Princess, we don't know what effects of those— substances might have on the herbal blend," Desrianne remarks, voice tight with displeasure. "They may reduce the effectiveness of the tincture."

"They may also increase its effectiveness," Kendall remarks off-handedly. "Regardless, we have none of those things in current supply, shayna. It will have to wait until we reach home. For now, you must make do with syrup made from juice of the grenna." He nods to indicate that he refers to the syrup she had just inquired about, then picks up his juice and takes a sip.

Margot freezes, her mind going back to their first night of passion when she had sprinkled him with wine and he described painting her with the juice of the grenna. Pale eyes meet dark when she glances up at the memory, that familiar faint smile touching his lips. The hesitation is brief, but noticeable, before she picks up the cup to finish the contents with one final sip.

Desrianne removes the empty cup, her moody presence becoming a storm cloud attempting to rain on the lovers' amity. All three engage in their individual pursuits in silence for a time, maintaining the delicate balance of civility in the room until a knock at the door offers a welcome break in the tension.

The door opens to admit Rory. "M'lady's bath is ready," the servant says with a bow.

"Very good, Rory," Kendall says before either woman can respond. Dropping napkin on table, he stands and gives a hand to Margot to assist her to her feet.

"Thank you, Rory," Margot echoes, reinforcing her appreciation with a warm smile. Desrianne also gives grateful acknowledgement to the Lordling's servant, in appreciation for breaking up this gathering.

The princess' smile turns vibrantly affectionate as Kendall offers a hand to assist her, so suave and urbane, even as they sat in nothing more than robes in their bedchamber. But it turned out the Chaosian had more in mind than gentlemanly gestures. When she rose to her feet, hand in his, his other arm circled her waist to draw her close. Head bends and lips touch, little more than a hint of affection brushing against hers.

Margot eagerly samples his lips, her free hand drawing fingertips along his jaw. Not quite unchaste but hardly timid, the princess took the few heartbeats to express herself to him not in the heat of rutting passion, but in the light of civility and reason. Her willing participation encourages him to extend their embrace, tasting her lips and the sweetness still residing there.

Desrianne clears her throat behind them, unable to contain herself any longer. Try as she might, in spite of withholding recriminating words, she could no longer restrain some sound, no matter how small. How crass the Lordling could reveal himself at the slightest provocation, while her Poppy — innocent of any contrivance — could not see beyond the pleasure of empty words and sweet caresses. Her eyes seek out the red-haired servant, seeking some guidance as to how to proceed, but she gains nothing from the neutral and stoic expression found there.

Kendall pulls back from Margot at the impatient sound of air clearing throat, a smile of mischief forming on his face still close to hers, foreheads almost touching as he gazes into her eyes. His amused smirk summons a mirrored response of her own. A thousand things ran through her mind, all playful, some far more randy than others.

"You, M'Lord," she whispers in a playful tone, "are delaying the bath that your Master Rory has been so kind to pour for my pleasure."

Her feigned accusatory tone rings with amusement. "I warn you: should the pool be tepid, there will be consequences…"

His smile grows wider at her response, eyebrow quirking. "Do your words intend to warn? Or promise?" he inquires softly in return. "If the water proves tepid, mayhap you will require me to heat your skin instead."

"That goes without saying," she returns, her smirk revealing a dimple. "Trust that I will report back the level of comfort and satisfaction with which I found the water. Though I'm so accustomed to you having you see to my cleanliness, I fear the pool will feel frigid just from sheer solitude." Teeth capture his lower lip to bring it in for a soft suckle before she releases him.

Kendall returns her renewed affections, but releases her when she draws away. His mischievous smirk fades into a much more gentle smile and he presses one last kiss to her forehead. "Unfortunately, Time presses upon us, my sweet. But have no fear, I shall attend later to any lingering loneliness you may still be experiencing."

She need not utter a word; her smile for him is enough to reveal how much she looked forward to that moment. "Desrianne," she addresses the woman though her eyes continued to caress Kendall. "I trust that my salts and oils have been located?"

Her Caresse holds her tongue, busy counting down from 20, slowly. Margot turns, wrapping Kendall's hands about her shoulders for the moment, her back against his front.

"While I loved the scent of your oils, I think they are far more flattering on you than on me," she explains, looking back at him over her shoulder.

"Yes, Princess," Desrianne says once she reaches a point where response is possible. "All that is missing from the bath is you."

"Wonderful!" Margot exclaims. She pats Kendall's arms to release her so she can make her way toward the threshold with an aura of radiance and contentment.

Desrianne lingers a moment longer, her stoic expression holding no affection for the Chaosian. While yesterday he nearly wrestled an ounce of appreciation and respect out of her, she now saw a glimpse of his true colors and she vowed she would not be so easily swayed again.

"Lord Kendallarithan," she excuses herself stiffly, and he nods in dismissal. She inclines her head as she follows in the Princess' wake.

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Basking Baths

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