Commentary III:57

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Queens & Shadows

Writing commentary on mobile, on vacation, apologies if some things are more sloppy.

Etore has mixed experience dealing with high level royalty. What she does have its experience dealing with those she might be prepared to call peers. The Queen obliges her manners more than she gets it right, but over all there is a hard to place semblance of sense to the tone of the interaction.

The Queen has, as she passes over, opted to recognize Etore, and wager she may be a better person to have on the throne than her uncle. This far from conventionaly puts them in any comperable social footing. It’s hard to place what relative social strata they are occupying. A princess, heir apparent denied her throne, implying her intent to take it, and all that implies. The world hasn’t had a potential flash point figure like her in centuries. The Council sealed claims for good reason.

The Queen on the other side is a seasoned veteran of rule, and so reads Etore’s type, and so long as it is a private meeting, meets her on her terms. This manner in public would go over less well, and Etore is not daft, and knows this.

The two are testing each other throughout.

The Queen does become the voice of my own frustration with conventional and chosen poetic license. Shadow has become a very overloaded term. People, places, and powers, and now a thing pulling Selene’s strings. This was indeed one of the “puppets” of recent title, but did not find a place, so Etore becomes the vehicle.

Etore has also started playing the ‘sane woman in a mad world” role rather deftly. “I can work with chaos,’ can you? It’s truthfully a humble brag she’s grown fond of, that she can handle the company she keeps. Particularly since she is not always so sure she can, and tipps her hand a bit to that in the closing.

I had originally imagined some debate, or other shenanigans around deciding who would confirm Etore’s observations. As thing worked out Kat has the debate with herself, and does it.

I can’t attest exactly when the shadow dragon came to be in my imaginings. Yet I recall setting some precedent for what it might represent. A glimpse back in Mordove of vast intricate structures in aura.

This is by far the most seemingly benign creepy spirit thing we have yet met. Full of riddles, and perhaps implied schemes, it’s almost ‘old master’ manner is I think a bit disarming in spite of appeances. Of course even the assurances of behavior may be thin.

As Etore points out, it’s getting handsy again. I think perhaps questioning the Queen’s judgement in being left alone would have been wise, but that she seemed in control enough to step back, may have given some possibly misguided sense of confidence. As also the general understanding, beyond what Selene has become, there is scarce evidence you can simply control someone. Only manipulate.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about prosaic riddles in “true speach” (I loosely call it.) On a level it’s kind of fun that even such pure utterances of understanding become “questions” in the voice of this creature.

It’s also amusing and disturbing to think of a ‘dragon playing with little dolls’ as it were. When they are people…

Kat’s impertinent question leaps straight to the recurring theme of Rhaea being in love with herself (since who else – if all is her mirror – is there for her to be?) Selene’s answer demonstrates a certain detachment still, a self beyond the forces behind her. It’s behavior is also tempered in a way we haven’t seen. So, almost more frightening, are we sure which is the puppet?

I’m not sure I establish well enough what was the intent behind the but about chess. Clearly it was a move meant to evoke a reaction, but it got a different one than intended, and that might have gone unnoticed. Like mistaking one piece in the game for another.

Some other things on my mind for a while get some mention, but we’ll hear about that more soon.

There are only a few thing I want to call out presently in Kat and Liora’s little… argument?

One is Kat’s quote about worms and roots that I lost my mind trying to place either as something I’ve written before, or appropriated from some unknown source. I came up blank on both counts. It’s either derived in the moment from my own past writings, or something obscure I couldn’t identify. Might even occur in this world and I just can’t find it.

A bit bothersome, but Kat had already expressed her ambivalence on the origin before mine set in.

The other issue is I’m unsure I’ve well bridged or placed this interaction with the new context about Selene, but I don’t see Kat mentioning this to Liora which would only serve to insight trouble without good cause.

I also think I need to replace a “, and” with a “. Just” to make one line carry some more punch as it did in my head when I first wrote it.

Kat’s closing scene has proven another interesting use case of the umdetailed love scene, where what is going on in the background of dialogue and emotion is inferred, but the conversation supported still gets what it needs out of circumstances. Without becoming lost or mired in them.

Kat is clearly struggling with a lot in reframing of what she wants, that has never changed, but a certain sense of duty, or wrongness has intruded on old comfortable patterns that she still wants to embrace. Competing rights are emotionally troublesome, and toxic in emotional bare circumstances.

In many ways who Kat is with is ideal for having such struggles. We’ve met so many more Sashas, Elises, and Estaes – the domineering side of this powerful confident female sexuality – it was nice to delve into the nurturing aspect of the Red Women, and their role in society that goes so much more unnoticed, because it keeps things civil and quiet, not noisy. Like good UX goes unnoticed.

As implied this is the path Kat has walked in a round about way. Appearances aside so much of her life has truly been spent beging not what society wanted or needed her to be, but what specific others did. Not without her own wants in the equation but navigating between them.

They all didn’t want to own her, but were either too selfish, or selfless about it. Celia begged her to try to find comfort because she believed this was a higher form of love. Charles wanted a conquest, and got a contest. Mathew felt beneath her, and sought someone ‘more appropriate.’ Maeren was a Red Woman by nature with no title or training. So on and so forth.

Adria was different. She broke Katrisha’s heart in a new way. She made her walk away. Adria would gladly own her, and all at once selflessly (or selfishly?) become her. Which again brings us back to shadows, and mirrors.

Indeed even the Red Women echo or are echoed by other powers in play. Some of what we hear here represent what the Saou were, and how the Assassins began, or are. A social construct in different moral faces, and with drastically more or less social power.

Chapter 22

Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown,
however light and airy the great ladies gown,

oh how a man born to throw down lines of kings,
would gladly bargain to raise the world her queen,

yet what honor have I to offer she who rivals me,
a line millennia more noble stands opposite these,

I relent to purchase but a lonely male heir,
the price a princess, for a queen coy but fair.

– Prince Adrian of the Empire, circa 60 E.R.

The Court of Storms

Coria 30th, 650 E.R.

All was a swimming sea of darkness, and vague shapes in shimmering light.  There were sounds, distant, muffled, like wind through the trees, or the groaning of a ship at sea, and a low droning ring under it all.  Scattered things coalesced into half formed thoughts, and one burst forth above the rest.

Continue reading “Chapter 22”

Chapter 21

The like of our kind are ever too hard to find,
whom have seen those same follies of men,
know their prejudice and reject such premise,
never to pronounce or malign without merit,
those of good character yet odd demeanor.

– Sylva Grey, circa 160 E.R.

Kindred Spirits

Coria 25th, 650 E.R.

“Is everything alright?” Mercu asked as he entered Laurel’s study, and considered the way he was leaned on the central table.

“They are hiding things from me,” Laurel said tersely.  “And don’t be cute, and try and comfort me with how absurd that sounds.  You are losing your touch, if you think that will work a third time.”

Continue reading “Chapter 21”

Chapter 15

Always it comes back to this,
all the petty empty little games,
dances with sword spell or pen,
some we lose some we win.

Ever a battle for supremacy.
Any a less a moral man than me,
would take more direct opportunity.

Far too well I come to understand,
the choices made by those before.
Lest such heartless days return,
I relent to fight their little wars.

– attributed to Emperor Corinth, 95 E.R.

Little Wars

What once had been brush had long since been replaced with sticks wedged in the pocked and battered ground.  At first it was just more wanton destruction.  Then the sticks were topped with tattered strips of red and blue – made from old sheets dyed and torn into strips.  The arrangements kept changing.  At first there had been a straight line, then a ragged one, then ever more scattered clumps of forces.

Continue reading “Chapter 15”

Chapter 8

Laeune the moon,
daughter of night,
glorious barer,
of tranquil light,

she soothes us all,
that we might dream,
and takes harsh color,
from all we’ve seen,

Laeune the lover,
rhythm of womankind,
who’s gentle grace,
now guides my hand,

she brings us wisdom,
that we might yet see,
what lies before us,
there yet waiting to be.

– unattributed, circa 200 E.R.

The Moonlight

Vernum 1st, 647 E.R.

It was very late, and the corridors of the cloister were lit only by what moonlight could find a way through skylights, or the occasional window on the upper tier.  Katrisha knocked for the second time at Celia’s door, and waited uncomfortably.  She knew another Sister shared the room with Celia, and did not know quite what to say if the other girl answered instead.

Continue reading “Chapter 8”

Chapter 4

A silver drop of living light,
that shimmers and shines,
but of true nature lies,

what is this thing that devours,
yet such great worth harbors,
this price for powers gained,

liquid essence of aether,
or be it cold dew of nether,
strange tangible immaterial,

a slow poison to its maker,
and boon to the skilled shaper,
the blood of we mages born.

– Writings of Queen Regent Adria, circa 40 E.R.

Mage Blood

Estae 10th, 647 E.R.

Kiannae pondered the small sprout before her.  It had been a seed not two minutes before, and yet it stood a full two inches tall.  Landri watched expectantly as Kiannae simply stared at the plant.  Slowly she reached out her hand, and brushed a leaf with a fingertip.  She felt for the will of the plant, like she had long learned to seek the workings of a spell.  There was a way it wanted to grow, a pattern to it, it was deep, gentle, and hard to read, so much more complex than the weaving of magic she understood.

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Chapter 20

The kingdom of valleys ends,
where the endless plains begin,
and there beyond lies Osyrae,
home to black dragonkin,

once their sire ruled men,
now that line lays abhorred,
fear that long come day,
a dragon king,
again adored.

– untitled bard verse, circa 610 E.R.

Stirrings in the North

Wren was still small.  It wasn’t simply that he was years younger than his classmates, he was shorter than most girls his age, and any early bursts of growth had long since fallen behind.  He stood a full head shorter than Celia, the younger of his two companions.  It was also not simply a question of height, he was slight in form, and his head bowed easily to those around him.

He was possessed of an unmistakably demure nature – even if the word conventionally belonged to women, there was an aptness to the description – he was easily, and often mistaken for a young girl.  A mistake that quite foolishly many would make for his hair alone, not even his stature, or poise.  The ignorant would blame this on his upbringing, to be raised in a niche where women reigned as men did in most other corners of the world.  To look around him though, at the other men and boys that shared that way of life, they were little like Wren.

Continue reading “Chapter 20”