In the Halls of Yearning

From blackness to brightness, Princess and Lord emerge to a courtyard open to the Blue Sky above. The deep, royal color coats the pillars, benches, and delicate lacy sculptures of black bone with a bluish hue. Kendall leads Margot through the courtyard to an ordinary doorway that opens into a vast, round room. A cascade of countless curtains in creams, browns, whites, and coppers hang from the walls in all directions, defying all sense of gravity. Their layers and bunches create a motionless waterfall of color. Ever-trusting, she simply drinks in the experience, certain that Kendall would not let harm come to her, nor would he lead her to a place he would know would cause her distress.

Several openings dot the walls around and above them, and once the door behind them closes, all sense of weight disappears. Margot immediately feels as though she could fly right through the room to any of the doors. And indeed, hand in hers, Kendall launches them both into the air towards a portal diagonally to the right and perhaps 10 feet above the first door. The portal sucks them right through it into a wooded hall. The princess has a brief sensation of twisting, an impression that their entry into the hall was not right side up, and then their feet land on the floor with a gentle bump.

The walls of this hall are formed of the trunks of great purplish trees that had been grown so closely together not even light could pass through. The air is alive with the sounds of shimmering, chiming leaves, which shake in a breeze that Margot cannot feel. Kendall steadies her with a hand to her shoulder after that singularly new experience, while peering around the hall they had entered as if looking for something.

It isn't until one of the figures moves that Margot fully sees the stick-like creature that separates itself from one of the trunks and walks with a stiff, jerky stride towards the Lord and Princess. Now that her eyes had seen one, she could now pick out three others, also standing so close and so well matched to the purplish wood walls, as to seem a part of them. The stick figure makes a movement as though to bow, and Kendall nods.

"Please send for Arabella," he says, and the thing turns to make its jerky way on its errand without making a sound.

That handled, Kendall takes Margot to a door on the right side of the hallway, and they enter a room of forested wonder. Similar to the Rhercyn, everything is grown from the living wood of the purplish tree, with a ceiling formed of a cascade of shimmering, silvery purple leaves. This suite is much larger than the very spacious one she had been given in Silver, with reception hall, sitting room, bedchamber, bathing room, a small library, and a parlor. The sitting room overlooks a meadow of enormous orange flowers, but the sleeping chamber window gives a view of a vast, ageless forest, while the library window let in the sight of a labyrinthine canyon.

Margot has a few minutes to take in the wonders while Kendall talks to a very ordinary person with the attitude of a servant who had been in the library when they entered. Very ordinary, save the fact that she/he/it looked to be entirely composed of water, with small creatures swimming around inside. Once done with that, the second servant sent off on another errand, he joins Margot at the view of meadow flowers.

"It's quite lovely…" Margot comments, offering her hand to Kendall before turning her attention back to the balcony.

She falls silent for a few moments, staring out to the distance but not focusing on much of anything. "I wish I could take your pain…" she murmurs softly. "I wish I could make all of this go away. I'm sorry. Will you, will you explain to me how it came to be that blades were drawn?"

He watches the flowers bend in a breeze "My brother drew blade after I struck him. I drew to counter," he answers. Though the answer appears simple, it says very little. "I was worried and angry."

"Why did you hit him?" she asks, giving him a concerned glance.

Kendall thinks for a little while, sorting through the jumble of memories that had bunched up over the course of the most recent, tumultuous heartbeats. Eventually, he shakes his head. "It hardly matters. I was worried and angry. Rory was injured, you were nowhere to be seen, and Cedric was in a rage."

Margot frowns, and she turns to look up at him. "He was in a rage because I refused him. None of this would have happened if I had just given him that stupid dance he wanted when he wanted it. I told him I would be happy to, once I was formally introduced to the Courts. But he wanted it now. He wanted me to swoon at his charms despite the reality that I did not find him charming. He reminded me of my Uncle Corwin."

Hands cover her face, wracked with guilt and the thought of losing the only one she dared trust completely. He puts his arms around her without comment, hugging her close and stroking her hair as she sobs.

"It should be me going before the Serpent, begging forgiveness for the loss of life to your House. I'm sorry I've ruined everything for you," she mumbles brokenly into the fabric of his robe. "Possibility said it would be my fault, that one of you would die because of me. And then, my attempt to stop that from happening only escalated the situation."

Margot pulls back so she can look up at him with moistened cheeks. "What if I petitioned your father or your mother? Is there nothing I can do to keep you from this fate?"

Kendall looks down at her, expression sober, and shakes his head. "No," he says simply. He strokes one of her cheeks, brushing away the moisture that had gathered there.

"Look at me," she frets, scrubbing her damp face with her fingers. "I should be trying to bring you comfort and peace, and here I am instead, wailing like some lost child. If I can't manage to find strength for myself, how can I possibly offer you the same?"

Letting her hands fall to rest upon his arms, she stares up at him with a lost expression. Her mind kept spinning, turning in endless circles to investigate every last scrap of information she had in an attempt to find something, anything that might change his fate.

"There has to be a way,” she pleads. “Let me take your place before the Serpent. Perhaps he'll be so amused by this insignificant bug standing before him that he'll simply laugh so hard he'll weep."

He sighs, but smiles a little. "Margot, we need to talk about your future plans, not fruitless imaginings. You have a place and a little time here in which to consider your options and decide on a course of action, now that I am no longer able to sponsor or assist you. You have some options to weigh, and you should probably seek the advice of your lady."

She looks away from his steady gaze, staring instead out over the meadow full of flowers. "Would it please you to hear me say the words? That I will accept Dara's counsel and become… and cease to be me? That I will take whatever measure is necessary to survive and thrive in this place, damn the consequences? I don’t care about such things. I believe you will return… and if you don't, life will simply be… meaningless.”

Kendall looks down at her with sadness and gentleness in his expression, but he does not budge. "What you do is your choice. You are not required to stay here in Chaos. You may go anywhere — to the Fae Realm, into Shadow, even back to Amber. With the power of your blood, you can build a new life and perhaps find a new love. But it is up to you to find new meaning, perhaps in what might be, rather than what now is." One hand moves to cover her belly.

"I don't want—" But his hand at her womb stops her cold. "What do you want? Truly want," she asks instead, gingerly covering his fingers with hers.

The question seems to send him somewhere else, looking over her head into the distance. "That is something… I must discover," he says after a time. "So I may tell Lord Serpent should we meet."

Margot reaches up to tip his head back to face her, cupping his cheeks in her palms. "I want your word that when you are finished with this business with the Serpent, you will come find us," she tells him with fierce conviction. One hand leaves his face to press his against her womb. She can feel those damned tears welling again, and her expression becomes more fierce in an effort to keep them at bay.

"A child needs to know his father, for all the wonderful, noble qualities that he is able to teach him," she says. "And you will have my word that I will not do anything to endanger myself or our future. I will listen to Dara's counsel and I will stay vigilant."

Kendall breathes deep, taking in the air of the suite filled with the earthy odor of wood mixed with Margot's own perfume. Releasing his breath, he narrows his eyes at her and tilts his head. "If I promise to return to you, will you agree to plan for a future without me?"

She studies him for a long moment before she soothes away the lines forming at his eyes with one hand. She traces his features, gently, committing every beautiful contour to memory. She nods slowly, afraid her voice will betray her breaking heart.

"Yes," she finally manages to choke out through a tight throat.

"Very well, then, Margot. You have my word, upon what little esteem I still possess, that I will find you after my trial in the Abyss should I survive," he says with gravity. "There is no way to provide a time frame for such an event. An eternity over the Abyss may be an eyeblink for you, and a lifetime for you could last a mere heartbeat for me."

"It will be what it will be. Time is a funny thing, here," she says with a smile, trying to look brave and confident. A heavy silence rises up between them, filled with expectation. Unable to withstand the tension, she lets her hands fall and turns to walk out onto the balcony.

"What is this place?” she asks him, laying her hands on the wide wooden rail. She did not want for their last time to be filled with conflict and tears. "It is similar to the English manor where I grew up in Shadow, though… that one was not made of wood."

"These are the Halls of Yearning," he answers. "As my mother has granted her hospitality for a time, this is an area favored by her and within her influence. How long you will have sanctuary here is unknown, for my mother's influence may not extend long beyond my departure. And I have more to tell you, Margot. More that I wish for you to hear and consider before I depart."

She sighs deeply, holding fast to her wish for happier words as long as she can. But, it was not to be. She knew he would remain focused on the matter at hand until all had been resolved to his satisfaction. "As you wish," she finally agrees.

He joins her on the balcony, standing near her to look out over the field of flowers. "The Lady Dara has her own agenda. As do I. As do you," he begins after a pause to collect his thoughts. "You may, of course, remain in Chaos and build your future here. That may be with an existing House, or by rebirthing the House called Barimen."

He turns to face her. "But remember that all births involve pain and blood. You may choose to rebuild your House, but this will lead to pain, blood, and lives lost. You must either accept or embrace this fact, and the fact that if you proceed with such a plan, you will be the source of this pain and blood. Or you must choose a different path. This is not something that I or Dara can choose for you, though she may desire to. You must ponder this reality and decide your course on your own."

"I feel like I'm losing a part of my soul," she whispers. "Death among beauty is still death, and I know what I want— or I did, before all this…"

She makes a scoffing noise and then thinks quietly for a few moments. Her dark eyes turn up to him, searching his face. "You plan on sacrificing yourself to the Serpent, don't you?"

Kendall smiles, truly amused by the question, and he shakes his head. "No," he says. "I do not desire death."

"That is good to know," she interjects into the ensuing pause. A quirky tug draws her lips into a small smile. "I was beginning to feel as if you would prefer the Serpent's eternal company to spending time with me." It was a joke, perhaps, she trying to smile through it. Yet a measure of truth laced the amused words. Margot lays her forehead against his chest, closing her eyes and breathing him in.

He ponders his next words for the space of five heartbeats. "No matter my desires, one does not deal in absolutes in Chaos, Margot,” he finally says. "No matter the desired outcome, some thought must be devoted to contingencies. For you, the initial choice is simple: to remain in Chaos or to seek your future elsewhere. This may be a long-term choice, or a temporary movement."

"My plans included you. They still do. Much will have to be considered while you are away and whether you will return. But, if there was a way to have your audience turn out favorably, would you take it?" She looks up again to search his face once more for truth.

His smile becomes puzzled. "Yes,” he answers, as if that should be obvious.

Margot nods once. "Very well."

Whatever either would have said next is interrupted by the door of the suite opening behind them, and a thin, dreamy voice calling, "Alooooo!"

Kendall’s head turns at the sound, and he nods. "Arabella has arrived."

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
Meeting Arabella

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