The Mountains of Shahaile…above that, the North Shrine River empties into the Strait of Alouhaile, which separates the Northern Isles of Shalanhaile from the main continent of Louzinarga. This... Ivarine traced her fingernail on the parchment, figuring a path that they could take. She knew the shortest way to the Isles was the path she had taken so many years ago to leave Shr'eink, a river path which would lead her directly back to her hometown.
Her now- razed hometown. Fury and grief swirled back through Ivarine's mind as she remembered the way the upstart lord had smirked when he said Shr'eink was no more. She had best not take that path. Firstly because only the natives of the small village of Shr'eink knew of that path; it was the light- side peoples' last route of escape when their town was being attacked. But already the village was no more; the real reason was more personal: that path was too close to her memories. As much as she wanted to strangle the dumb dark-side lord that had demolished her hometown, half of her knew she had to wait until after the Staff had been recovered--the half that lived and breathed the shadows, the half that had devoted her life to the forces of the Dark King and his ambition to rule the world under his black hand.
She stared at the dress Iyza had laid out for her evening wear. It was made of green silk, with silver trim and lacy white skirts. Within these folds she had tucked the small stone, which had gone silent after those two phrases. Thinking of Cadence's voice whispering through her mind gave Ivarine chills. What was she supposed to say? Aside from the news on Shr'eink, and that dumb Sha'lan boy, her few days in the dark palace had been almost pleasant. Iyza was kind and although the courtiers were cold, most of the other servants seemed to have adjusted well to having a queen sweeping their halls now. Even Lieutenant Zaire, whom she'd just met, was good company; after spending the morning with her new guard, she had dismissed the eni'ein to take the rest of the day to herself. And the king-- why, even he seemed to care for her well- being. No! I mustn't think these traitorous thoughts! But even as she thought it, Ivarine felt unease-- she didn't feel like a traitor. She felt comfortable. And for the first time since she'd left the Isles to accompany Farle and Cadence, she felt at--
The Queen of Shadows never finished the thought--outside her bathroom and in her bedroom quarters people were arguing. She heard Iyza's voice grow shrill as she commanded someone to leave. "I demand that you wait outside! The Queen is not seeing people currently!"
Footsteps approached regardless and Ivarine scrambled away from the map, grabbing the green dress and fumbling for the stone. The doorknob to the bathroom turned and the door opened the slightest. Ivarine thrust the communication stone into a pocket of her thin undergown before the voice that answered Iyza froze her to the spot. "Oh, I don't care what your Lady Callias is doing and certainly don't take orders from you."
Lord Sha'lan. His beautiful voice carried through the ajar door, his words a song and his tone a melody that persuaded her limbs to simply rest and melt into peace. Ivarine felt her muscles soften and her eyelids droop the slightest. The dress slackened in her hands.
What is this... she thought. The sounds of Iyza's indignant protest faded away and she heard a thump on the ground. "Yes, take a nap. Preferably until evening," he sang, but this time the overwhelming power from his voice was not there. It was still rich and smooth, but it didn't hold the commanding force that it had a moment ago. A spell. Ivarine eyes shot open with shock and horror and reached for the crown sitting just out of her arm's reach. She had seen what Cadence could do to silence people that interfered with them. If Lord Sha'lan was another manipulator of sound, Ivarine was in serious trouble.
"As for you--" He cut short suddenly and Ivarine glanced at the door to see the young man, his eyes roaming her thinly-clad body. She would have blasted with a shard of ice or shadow then and there, but she hadn't thought of it earlier and now she couldn’t think: this was not the same person that had been at the noble conference only that morning. While he had been decked in lavish silks and robes designed specifically to display one's wealth at court , the boy before her was now dressed plainly for a lord, in an gold-trimmed black shirt and black pants. His straight black hair was slightly tousled from its original slicked-back style and his blue-gray eyes glowed with lust as he stared at her subtle curves.
"You-" his voice almost choked and he stepped forwards, the hand curled around his sword relaxing. He closed the gap between them with a single stride and pushed her against the wall, his lips instantly closing around hers.
Ivarine heard the sound of his sword clanging and her evening dress crumpling to the floor and held her hand out to push him away, but he intercepted it without breaking his mouth from hers. He held both her hands with one soft but firm hand, his mouth working furiously against her lips the entire time. She could feel the raw desire in his movements as his free hand cupped her face and grasped a strand of her golden hair. They broke apart for breath, but his mouth was on her skin the next moment, trailing down and around her neck as his hand tugged on her undergown. She opened her mouth to scream, but the sound was muffled when his head shot up and smothered it with another kiss.
He moved again, crushing her body between his and the wall and tugged at the collar of her gown until it tore. Ivarine shut her eyes, begging focus and let loose a black wave of energy around her, blasting the nobleman to the other side of the bathing room that suddenly swam with the energy of the shadows. Glass shattered around them and when the black energy finally settled, Lord Sha’lan collapsed, momentarily unconscious a corner. She stood there, gasping for breath and bunching the torn corner of her gown, stunned and horrified.
At first Ivarine moved to kill him before he moved again, but stayed her hand, remembering that he was the only one who knew where the prized Aubergine Staff was. She shuddered, and knelt to pick up her dress; it was the only thing she could do now. She slipped into the green dress and laced the white ribbons together with increasing speed, anxious to get away. Kicking his sword away, she was about to leave when a groaning sound from his dark corner startled her and she turned. The young lord was crawling to his feet, and a shaft of light hit him; only then did Ivarine noticed the blue marks on his head where she’d struck him. She didn’t know how she knew it, but she reacted instinctively and rushed to his side, snatching a vial of healing potion out of a drawer.
“Don’t move, you’re bleeding,” she ordered, kneeling next to him. Half of her was worried by the sight of what she’d somehow interpreted as blood, while the other half was frantic to preserve the location of the Staff. She spread the thick liquid over the injury, and watched as the gap sealed itself. She repeated this, and only until she was done and the vial was empty did she realize that she had rescued the creep that had destroyed her childhood home. Ivarine drew back, shuddering.
The haughty lord didn’t even bother thanking her. He muttered something about nearly killing him but even murmured his voice was a harmony of irritation and pride that rolled off his tongue like notes off a musical staff. The staff—that was the purpose of her saving him, she reminded herself. The King will have the staff returned. I can deal with this upstart until then. The small protesting voice from earlier that said the black king did not own the Aubergine Staff was silent.
They sat in silence, him nursing a headache, and her the tumulus thoughts, until finally he said, “I knew you fancied me. You didn’t have to blast me apart to show me though.”
“Fancy you?” Her confused features twisted with outrage. “I loathe you!”
Lord Sha’lan raised an eyebrow. “What did I do to deserve such hatred?” he asked, his words tenor notes hanging in the air. They didn’t save him from the tirade that burst forth though.
“Aside from sexually assaulting me, barging into my rooms, knocking my servant out, openly disrespecting me in court and obliterating my hometown and family? Well, your arrogance didn’t help, for starters.”
“I didn’t think you’d feel…assaulted…” he muttered, his eyes trailing down the cut of the dress. He snapped his eyes back to meet hers, smoky blue versus crystalline violet. “And when did I destroy your hometown?”
“Shr—“ she stopped, catching herself before she revealed too much. She looked away. “Nothing. I spoke wrong.”
It didn’t fool him. “You came from Shr’eink.” He was quiet, until Ivarine finally looked and was surprised to find something besides egotism in his unwavering gaze.
Pity, for certain, but something stronger burned there as well, a gentle fire that touched her. Empathy. Loss. “You’ve lost your home before,” she whispered.
The boy nodded, and that simple motion was as beautiful as any of the words he’d ever spoken.
“Milady?” Iyza’s call roused Ivarine from sleep, and she lifted her head up, rubbing an eye.
“Iyza?” She called, but when she moved she felt an arm tighten around her and jerked, a light spark of energy flying off her. She glanced down and saw the still-drowsed expression of a teenage boy, one arm slung around her shoulders. She blinked in confusion and repulsion at the young lord and their curled position in the corner of the tub platform before remembering bits and pieces of the conversation that had followed. Bits and pieces of a conversation that sounded like her entire life story.
“Don’t let her in,” he whispered, pressing her closer to him so that his mouth almost touched her ear.
“Your highness? Do you require any assistance?”
Ivarine imagined how it would look to her servant if she walked in to see her Queen of Shadows locked in an embrace with the lord of the Northern Isles. Yes, I require you to explain how exactly this dolt has come to be here, she wanted to reply, but shook her head for a moment before remembering that Iyza wouldn’t see it. “I’m fine!” she called. “Give me a few minutes; I fell asleep!” With a narcissist that has a soft side; who knew?
“As you wish, milady” Iyza’s voice just outside the door said. “His majesty the king has called on your grace to meet him and Lord Sha’lan for dinner when you are quite ready. I shall inform him you were resting.” Her light footsteps pattered away as she conveyed the message to the messenger boy that had come.
“Jarlsing,” he interrupted, helping her move to a sitting position. She was still curled with her head against his chest, but their legs untangled for the most part. She didn’t know why she didn’t push him away altogether.
“Jarlsing,” she repeated, stunned for a moment. “Yes, you.” Jarlsing Sha’lan rolled his eyes, the same way he had in court when she first noticed him, but didn’t interrupt. Ivarine paused. “I have to go,” she finally said.
“As do I. Your servant mentioned I was joining you for dinner, did she not?” he asked, his voice quiet and teasing.
“Get off me.”
His arms only curled tighter around her. “You don’t want me to.”
“Get off. Or I’ll blast you again.”
“Only to heal me with tender care and concern. Just admit it, you’re crazy about me Ivarine.”
The way her name seemed to chime when he said it made her hesitate the slightest, but Ivarine shook her head frustratedly and pushed against him. With a sigh he loosened his grip and settled for just her hand, capturing it in his soft, warm touch.
“If the King finds out…about any of this, he’ll have your head, Staff or no,” she warned, stretching out her legs.
The young man shook his head, the mischievous gleam in his eyes again. “I’m too valuable. I could probably persuade him to give you to me and he’d do so willingly.”
“You think too much of yourself,” she shot back, pulling away and slipping off the platform. She smoothed her dress in the mirror and searched for a brush, finally finding an unbroken one in the drawer next to the healing ointments. Jarlsing came up behind her, resting his hand on her shoulder.
“So feminine, fretting over appearances. Do you think he’ll be very upset at you for sleeping with me?”
“I did no such—“ she said, color rising into her cheeks, but his amused expression stopped her and she resumed to running the brush through her hair. She found a green ribbon to tie it up with, but the young lord placed his hand over hers and closed the drawer quietly.
“Don’t tie it tonight.” he murmured, turning her around. He held her hands and leaned in. She thought he was going to kiss her again and almost flinched before she heard his gentle, entrancing voice murmur by her ear, “For me.”
Ivarine stared at a thread on his shirt and sighed, rewinding the ribbon around her wrist. She stepped back and away, her expression annoyed as she glared at him. “Now will you let me go?”
“Beautiful,” he replied, not answering her question and swiftly kissing her cheek before letting go. She marched past him for the door and just as she was about to open it all the way, she heard him call her name softly. “Ivarine— just to set the record straight: I said Shr’eink was razed to the ground…I never said I did it.”
Artist's Note: Well....a lot to address, so:
On the story: Like I said, it's for an open collaboration. There are only 3 active writers, myself included now....so join? :D
Anyways...I did warn about smut >.< On the other hand, it's my first complete fanfiction! Well, I don't know if it's really considered fanfiction if it's a story I'm writing but.....well now, I don't feel lame at all. But I thought it was pretty in places, and ridiculous in others.
Also, not supposed to sound like shallow lust in the second half. (Does anyone see it as that? I feel like it is...even though I did imply that they did get to know each other better by the end of the conversation......gah.)
On NaNoWriMo: I started, and got up to around 30K, but unfortunately couldn't/ can't finish in time. I do have the start of a story that doesn't sound terribly horrible though (fair enough to continue and revise sometime later anyways). For now though, I'm going to be getting on to other projects that I had in mind/ put off/ put on hiatus. I'll post some excerpts from the NaNo thing though, if only so I can train myself to posting every week again.
On life: hehehe. unexpected (or maybe to be expected) hiatus resulted from NaNoWriMo and from college stresses :( No other excuse. I do have an xbox again though, so I can get back to playing Final Fantasy XIII (which I had to restart because it's a new console that doesn't read the previous memory disk XP No matter. More hours of gameplaying then! XD). I have other stuff, like being a good student and art and writing to get to as well though! We'll see how it goes. Finals for my first quarter next week. Should probably be writing the essay that's due tomorrow. Meh. I'll post those! xD
On The River Windrose: It's going to be starting! After finals. I have a story (ECA) that I'm 67.22% finished with (you'll see how I'm so precise with that number) but I'm willing to start posting the first few entries. So...depending on a bunch of circumstances, the first official post on TRW will be either 100 or 500 words.
I'm also going to undertake a 30-day drawing challenge for the month of Delin Al Era--that is, December. These snippets will be probably uploaded to deviantART or TRW :)
As always, thanks for reading and commenting! <3