Difference between revisions of "Kingsley Family/Alyssa/Better Days"
(Created page with "This story ran from 11/3/2019 to 11/5/2019. It details Alyssa's feelings after the death of the King Kay Peregrine. She meets with Isana Everlight and has a tender moment wi...")
Revision as of 06:50, 2 December 2019
This story ran from 11/3/2019 to 11/5/2019. It details Alyssa's feelings after the death of the King Kay Peregrine. She meets with Isana Everlight and has a tender moment with her.
Isana squinted at the leather pauldron in her hand. It creaked back at her. She gave it another halfhearted polish, the supple and well-glossed leather warm through the cloth she held. Abruptly she dropped it to her lap.
"Augh, this is getting to be a bore. Distraught minds need human diversion!" she grumbled softly.
"Eh, milady?" Cedric appeared from behind stacks of well-counted quivers.
"Oh, Ced." Isana sighed, "We've been preparing and re-preparing for so many days, and all I can think of is the kind King, and how our fellows must be struggling with the loss of their friend. I hardly even knew him and was struck by his passing... That amidst all the pressure of foreign armies breathing down our necks. Folks need company, you know? A bit of solitude, sure, to mull things over, but too much of that and you start to spiral." She stood and stretched, holding the armor high overhead, Ced nodding obediently in the background.
"Of course, Milady."
Isana finished her stretch with a groan, set the pauldron with its mate on her chair, and continued, "I've got tower fever. Enough of this stuffy spire, I'm going for a walk around the city. Maybe a drink! Let Heinz know, and tell him he has my leave to come along so long as he sets a second-in-command. And mind you get yourself outside for a bit as well! Those arrows could count themselves at this point. It's an order, Cedric. Outside for the day!"
She set off briskly down the hall to her quarters to dress in something nice for a change. When she'd finished, the effect was resplendent: a knee-length, deep green coat with silver trim epaulets and buttons, over a long emerald green brocade kirtle and white petticoats. Very suiting to Greenstone Tower and the Everlight blazon both, she thought. Her long dark hair was loose for possibly the first time since making landfall here, the calm day inviting liberty. She even wore a necklace and rings. The only thing not "fancy" was her shining black military boots peeking from under the long skirts.
Heinz was waiting by the tower gate, and admirably checked his surprise at Isana's appearance into a formal salute.
"Captain," she greeted him warmly. "Let's have some leisure! A stroll around to the main square, lunch at an inn, see who's around. Enjoy this fine city of ours! Shall we?"
"Of course, Lady," he smiled back. "And thank you for the invitation. By your leave, perhaps we can stop by a cobbler?"
"Absolutely. Um... know you any of note? I've not been shopping here yet, really."
"Allory's Last is the one I know, Lady."
"Very good. Let's head there first, it gives a useful destination. Lead on, Heinz!"
Alyssa walked slowly through the Ducal gardens near the palace, in a simple blue dress, a white cloak draped around her, her left arm still in a cast and sling at her chest. She liked this place. It was quiet and peaceful, and the trees here reminded her of home. She smiled as she passed the fountain she first met Isabel and the rosebushes where Maron the singer, who had taken up with her company, had plucked so many white roses to give to her as symbols of "his undying devotion to his lady".
She was not his lady, nor was she anyone's, but the familiarity of the place was strangely comforting. Indeed the singer today was strangely quiet as he accompanied her. That was worrisome too. The last few days had been a whirlwind, with the death of the King, the destruction of the army, and some quietly looking to her to lead. Between all of that and her own wounds, much better now but still healing, the last thing she needed was this fanciful singer plotting something.
As they walked she spied Lord Davenport, one of the duke's courtiers. She was unsure what he did but she knew it had something to do with city taxes. Or perhaps it was shipping duties. As a city official, it was likely he had many responsibilities, and though she had asked she had never figured out exactly what it was he did. The man noticed her and gave her a knowing smile. Also not good. She thought to herself. She did not mislike Davenport but he gave off an uncomfortable vibe, as if he always knew something she didn't. She shook her head , trying not to add to the growing list of things worry about.
"You are quiet." She said to Maron, suddenly, trying to shift her thoughts away from worry and from the dull pain in her belly.
"I am composing." He replied.
"You have no pen, master singer."
"I need no pen when I have such a muse as you, my lady."
Alyssa rolled her eyes. "What dare I ask are you composing in your head?"
"A poem, my lady. About a sad girl who blames herself for every tragic turn of fate."
Alyssa went quiet, and Maron sighed. "You have the weight of the continent on your shoulders my lady It is alright to be sad at the death of your king and one who believed in you so. But you are allowing yourself to be overtaken by the darkness you feel. We must bury the king. No one wants to see you buried with him."
Alyssa bit her lip nervously, trying to think of something to say, as Maron placed a hand on her cheek and tilted her face up to meet his eyes. "My lady..."
She slapped his hand away and glared at him. "You are not familiar! And I did not give you leave to touch me, nor shall I."
He smiled. "My fierce lady. She is the one who has captured my heart. I'm happy to see that fire is not gone. We will need it in the coming days."
She scrunched her face up, annoyed. Who is he to speak of her fire. She had no intention of surrendering or giving up. The King was still dead however and the succession was unclear. No matter what happened she would fight for Perdan, and she didn't need a singer to tell her otherwise.
"You're a boor" she said defiantly.
"I am anything my lady desires." He replied smoothly, though Alyssa merely rolled her eyes. "I desire you to leave."
"A common desire for my lady, but this humble singer is always ready to serve at her command." He said with a dramatic bow, taking his leave. Alyssa sighed as the worries began to pile up once more.
As she glanced out in the garden she spotted a familiar face. Her dark hair was down, Alyssa noted, and she was finely dressed. It was unusual to see Isana so, but she did look very pretty with her hair free and dressed in such colours. Alyssa felt she must look plain in comparison. She did not own many fine clothes or jewelry, nor did she own the bright cheerful smile the other woman wore today as well. Aly wondered why the other looked so cheerful. She did not lead anyone to their deaths. Her mind told her.
She was escorted by a man she did not know as they walked with purpose. She watched them as Isana laughed at something the man said while he looked sheepish.
Even in such darkness they can find happiness. What strength and spirit. The slightest of smiles came over her.
Lady Isana laughed aloud, to Captain Heinz’ chagrin. “Jester’s boots? In the House colours? Oh tell me you didn’t!” She stopped on the path near the fragrant Ducal gardens, wiping a tear of mirth from one eye.
“Slippers, not boots, Milady…” he offered, a flush spreading to the tips of his ears. “For wearing to the mess…”
Isana shook her head, still grinning, and gave him an unladylike clout on the shoulder. “That will certainly brighten dark days, Captain. I am not one to tell you how to spend your coin, ‘long as your duty continues to be fulfilled.” She shook her head once more, then gazed out across the beautiful oasis they’d discovered.
The expansive garden suited the beautiful city in which it grew. Like it had fallen out of a fairytale, copses of blooming trees scattered among brilliantly coloured flowers, small bridges crossing water to areas of lush greenery inviting a closer look to enjoy its textures. Ornate lamps stood elegantly at junctions of pathways, waiting for night.
A few nobles were strolling idly in the calm morning sunshine among the colourful riot of roses and peonies. An artistically dressed man was striding more quickly and directly towards an exit, the plume in his hat bobbing amusingly in his haste. Over in the dappled shade of some trees stood a familiar figure in blue and white. Isana recognized her Imperatrix instantly, though Alyssa’s body language was closer to a wilted flower than the bold strength she was accustomed to.
Seeing Alyssa was looking in their direction, Isana thought to offer a greeting. She began the military salute, which felt ridiculous as the skirts swished to her boot click, and followed it with an awkward curtsey and sheepish smile.
Oh well, she thought, at least it’s a greeting, and I think she’s seen it.
Alyssa's frown turned up slightly into a solemn smile. She straightened to attention and returned the salute, before approaching the other lady, standing straight with noble poise, with her chest out and hands behind her back.
"You are in good spirits today, my lady. And handsomely dressed, if I may. Is there an occasion?"
Isana watched as Alyssa returned her greeting and began to approach, visibly straightening from the wilted flower to familiar steel. Isana’s brow creased—had she caught the Lady at a vulnerable moment?—then the knight nodded and stepped a few paces into the garden proper to meet her Imperatrix.
"You are in good spirits today, my lady. And handsomely dressed, if I may. Is there an occasion?" came Alyssa’s softly resonant greeting when they were close enough.
Isana curtsied and smiled again, “You are too kind, Imperatrix, thank you. The occasion is a day about in our fine City of Perdan,” she gestured in a grand arc, then her voice dropped quieter, “and no small amount of bravado for the soldiers and citizens, and myself.” She paused and sighed, the joyful grin of earlier slipping to a thin line as she met the younger woman’s gaze. “The feeling of being beset on all sides follows me. We are prepared as we may be for whatever comes. I felt the best thing to do, was to reconnect with those I stand beside, and remember those who have stood-” Her voice caught at the last, and she swallowed, fierce fire shining through the prickling tears in her eyes. “To remember. Everything. Brighter days, comraderie, and all we fight for.”
Alyssa sighed, another reminder of what has been on her mind for the last months. /Beset on all sides./ In some ways she envied prettily dressed woman in front of her. She had little time to be carefree any longer. Those days were past for Alyssa as the chain of responsibility hung across her shoulder. With the King dead, and due to her no less, that chain hung heavier than ever. As she looked at the woman's bright smile she yearned for the warm days of girlhood where she stole away into the forest to play at swords with some of the lowborn children, the stories of knights and queens her uncle would tell her before bed, the feeling of her mother's hand holding hers as they travelled to the Lord's castle before the fire.
Memories were all they were now, she could not go back there, it would be too easy to stay. Perdan needed her and she would have to answer.
Alyssa shook her head and took Isana's hand as she spotted a tear well up in the other's eye.
"My lady, brighter days are ahead, not behind. We have to believe that."
She offered a weary smile.
"Enjoy today, Lady Isana. I believe it will be one of the bright days for you to remember."
Isana’s heart wrenched at the weariness in her Imperatrix’s words and voice. The whole of Perdan sat heavy on Alyssa’s shoulders. Anguish twisted with the admiration she felt for the younger woman, much older than she in many ways, and the knight felt suddenly guilty for how frivolous her actions must look. She felt blushing heat colour her face, and steeled her own persona to better support her leader and friend.
Isana squeezed back on the hand around her own and said quietly, “Every dawning day has light when there are companions to share it with. Your welcome and friendship have been a beacon for me in Perdan. I cannot know what you feel right now, dearest Lady… I am here for you in any way you may need.”
Alyssa's features lightened slightly at Isana's words, her stoic expression turning into the slightest of smiles, her cold blue eyes melting for just a moment, meeting the others.
"Indeed. The only way we will come through these trials is together."
Then she gently released pulling her hand away and fiddled awkwardly with her fingers. "Ah... My apologies. I must appear so grim all the time, my lady. Here I am fretting to you on your happy day. I am sorry for interrupting you, I just don't usually see anyone else out here. I typically walk the gardens alone."