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Althealansi Yver, Outlander Wanderer


NameAlthealansi Yver
SpeciesFae
ClassGeyma
Age56
GenderFemale (she/her/hers)
PlayerJeanne
TimezoneEastern U.S. UTC -4
#1




It was going on midnight, and Althealansi Yver was at a party she wasn’t entirely sure that she was supposed to be attending.

Still, she was enjoying herself. She’d be enjoying herself more if she could manage to escape the small group of (human, because fae nobility had far too discerning of tastes to go after someone with her, let’s say, features) noblemen who’d crowded around her; it was ever so difficult to explore what the rest of the party had to offer when they seemed determined to keep her trapped on a sofa, chattering pointlessly with them. She hadn’t meant to end up in this situation – when she’d butted into their conversation, she’d mistakenly assumed that they were far more interesting than they actually were, and now she was suffering the consequences.

She bit her lip, rapping her fingers against the table; this wasn’t supposed to go so far.

There were three of them total, and she, perhaps, in an effort to amuse herself, might have thrown a few flirtatious remarks their way. (She would hold that she could not be blamed for that – their political discussions were dreadfully boring and backwards, and she felt that she could live the rest of her life without concerning herself with what the queen wore to so-and-so’s soiree three weeks ago and who they thought the royal children might be engaged to.) A few coy glances, batted lashes, a little purse of her lips. Saying something in just the right way to suggest that it meant a bit more than she let on.

(It didn’t, of course.)

It was all meant to be harmless fun, but somehow she’d ended up stuck in the middle of a conversation with them, and, even if she couldn’t feel their intentions, which crawled up her spine and made her skin feel like a swarm of ants were squirming beneath it, she was pretty sure that it would have been painfully obvious that they were trying to get her drunk. Fortunately, Althealansi did not easily sway in the face of peer pressure, so she’d only barely touched her drink. Unfortunately, they were drunk, now, and she was rapidly losing her patience to entertain them.

One of them said…something? that stirred her from her thoughts. A question. He was asking her a question. Althea blinked; her fingers had been tapping against her thigh, and, abruptly, they stopped. She thought he’d asked where she was from. A slow, easy smile (which was anything but) slid across her lips, and, ever so sweetly, she replied, “Why, your dreams, of course.”

The man – what was his name? Something with an S. And the one on the right was Damien, and the one beside her….something with an R….Re…. – laughed, as though he’d heard the most hilarious joke, and it was all Althea could do not to cringe. That wasn't even one of her snappier remarks. He asked something to Re-, who made a comment about a woman standing by the window, and, with the three of them momentarily distracted by so-and-so’s daughter, all grown up, she took the opportunity to survey her surroundings

These city parties were quite ostentatious occasions – she’d been told that the Kastali elite were far wealthier than the nobility she’d grown up with, and she hadn’t been able to believe it at first, but this was quite unlike anything she’d ever seen. The girls all wore dresses which gleamed like diamonds; she didn’t know how some of them walked while wearing them, for they were so overwhelmed with tulle, or so long they dragged the ground for several feet, or so tight she was sure they’d constrict the movement of their legs. And the corsets! She’d rarely worn them, growing up, but a rudimentary glance suggested that several of the women had them tightened far too much for comfort. She wondered if it was a worthy sacrifice; surely the discomfort would show on their faces, make them scrunch up or cringe, and that certainly wasn’t very attractive. (She was, perhaps, wearing a bit too little, by comparison, but she couldn’t help it. The south was hot, much hotter than Norderhalt, and she still wasn’t used to it; she shuddered to think of what visiting her mother’s homeland would feel like.) Still, she did appreciate a few of their hairstyles, and some of the floral detailing on the bodices – she’d have to use them, somehow, though she’d never been fond of florals. They always made her anticipate too many comments about butterflies and flowers.

(Her hand goes to her hair, almost subconsciously, and plays with it, considering the ways that she could work her own dark curls into some of those styles.)

The men, by comparison, all seem tragically similar to her, and unworthy of further examination. Occasionally, she would catch sight of a particularly fascinating collar, or a cape that was interesting enough to garner attention, but, unfortunately, none of them were especially striking. She supposed they hadn’t put forth the effort to be; this was a relatively small gathering. Even subtly decorated.

Subtly decorated for something held within a mansion with gold filigree encrusted on the walls, anyways. She wasn’t entirely sure that there weren’t diamonds on the chandelier.

(Althealansi was a noblewoman, but she was from a military family which primarily resided in an isolated manor in the furthest reaches of Norderhalt. Her upbringing was luxurious by any normal person’s standards, but one look at the people around her was enough to assure her that she was not surrounded by normal people.)

One of the men, Damian or Darian or….Dorian?...reaches out to tap her hand. She looks back at him, surprised, and he gives her a dazed smile. “I asked what your name was?”

He’d already asked three or four times, but he apparently hadn’t realized that she didn’t want to give it to him, or she thought that he would eventually be persuasive enough for her to give it to him.

She ran her fingers around the rim of her half-drunk glass of wine. (You throw a man a bone, and he runs away with it.) Althea pursed her lips, then smiled, forcing her hand to still. “I prefer to remain mysterious, gentlemen,” she said, tilting her head to lay it on one hand; a stray, dark curl falls into her eyes. “I think I’m much more charming that way; I’d be no fun if I were simple.” She batted her long, dark eyelashes at them innocently and tried to stop herself from tapping her foot below the table, hoping that her coy refusal was enough to convince them to leave her alone.

It was not. When she shifted, hands pressing down in the velveteen fabric of the sofa, one of the men made the mistake of placing his hand on her thigh, presumably in an attempt to make her stay. Althealansi jerked away, as though she’d been burned, and stumbled to her feet. The man laughed. It was Re-something. Of course it was Re-something.

“I’m sorry gentlemen, but I need to go…” She said, as politely as she could muster, flashing them her most dazzling smile. “It’s been a pleasure, and I’m terribly sorry that I can’t, ah, continue to engage in this most enlightening and philosophical discussion, but I’m afraid I’m needed elsewhere.”

The man with a name that is some variation on Damien was the first to his feet, though the movement was unsteady, awkward from drunkenness. “We could walk you back to your estate,” he suggested. “It’s dangerous for a woman to be out alone at night.” (The other two, following his lead, nodded their agreement.) She refrained from telling him that she had no estate in this city.

“That won’t be necessary,” she said, still smiling that dazzling, white-toothed smile. “Really, gentlemen, I assure you that I can take care of myself – you don’t need to trouble yourselves with me. Enjoy the rest of your-“

“No, no, I insist-

Althealansi gritted her teeth. She could, of course, use her magic to make them leave her alone. It wouldn’t even be difficult – in fact, it would be temptingly evil. But that would be an abuse of power, and she didn’t want to risk anyone else noticing her magic usage. There weren’t many other fae at the party (many of the nobles in the city were likely overthrown with the last king), but she couldn’t be sure that none of them had some magic-sensing ability, and, if they did…

The last thing that she wanted out of this evening was any more trouble.

In the absence of an easy exit, Althealansi was forced to resort to more tricky mechanisms.

She scanned the crowd of people behind Dorian. That man was at least three times her age, that man had an atrocious handlebar moustache, that man was not particularly intimidating and looked like he might blow away with a strong gust of wind, that man already had a pretty young lady on his arm, that man had a fairy dragon wrapped around his shoulders, that man was dressed in bright red and no one would reasonably believe that she’d come here with him, that man was fae…

Her gaze came to a screeching halt on a blond man.

More accurately, it came to a screeching halt on the intricate golden embroidery on his vest, which was interesting compared to most of the menswear she’d seen this evening, but was also, more importantly, a pattern that almost looked like it could match the golden design on the bodice of her dress. He did not look like he would blow away in a gust of strong wind – from what she could tell, and she could tell quite a bit, thanks to his impeccably tailored outfit, he was quite strong, though lean. Reasonably tall. Certainly intimidating, given the deathly glare he seemed to be fixing on most anyone who approached him; and, remarkably, they seemed to take the hint and leave him alone. (She suspected that was the reason why more than a few women were glancing at him with lovelorn expressions from the sides of the room, but they dared not approach him.) She suspected he’d be about her age, if he were fae. Handsome, too. A pretty face, from what she can discern from the distance between them, smooth blond hair.

Althealansi put on her most charming smile and brushed past Darian. When he followed her, with his two friends close behind, she paid them no mind. Instead, she trained her gaze on the blond man, who may or may not have seen her coming; either way, the moment that she was close enough, she reached out to latch onto the blonde man’s arm.

As soon as she did, she discerned that she’d made a mistake.

He was frigid; touching his arm was enough to make a jolt of cold run the length of her fingers, like she’d just touched a sheet of ice. She hadn’t noticed it, when she’d been walking up, primarily because her mind was on the group of men who’d been following her (all of whom were currently staring at her, wide-eyed), but she supposed that she should have anticipated it. He hadn’t exactly looked approachable. However, she’d gotten herself into this situation, and she couldn’t back off now that she was attached to him. That meant public humiliation, or, worse, having to deal with her small collection of devotees for the remainder of the evening.

She would rather freeze her fingers off.

She fixed him with her most pleading stare, her large blue eyes staring up at him with a soulful insistence. (His, she noted, were a striking, pale shade of blue-violet; a pretty color, but that was not something she had the time to linger on.) “Help me out, please,” she managed, through gritted teeth – her voice so low that only he could hear it. “I’ll repay if you do, I promise.” She didn’t know what kind of favor she could do for him, under her present circumstances, but she was sure that she could figure out something, no matter what he asked. It wasn’t as though she had anything better to do with her time.

Even if he didn’t agree, she didn’t plan to give him long enough to act on it. Without so much as the courtesy to wait for his response, she spoke.

“Sorry,” Althealansi said, with a perfectly manicured smile, “I already have a date.” As if to prove her point, she leaned her head ever so slightly against the stranger’s shoulder – the picturesque image of a demure young lady, shyly showing off her relationship status in public for the very first time.

(Nevermind that she had absolutely no idea who this man was.)




but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
@Alexander Beaumont || here we gooooo ||  || "Speech."




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Alexander Beaumont, Kastalian Aristocrat


NameAlexander Lucien Swann Beaumont
SpeciesHuman
ClassSal
Age20
GenderMale (He/Him/His)
Playerrallidae
TimezoneWest Coast, USA UTC -7
#2


too many white lies
and white lines.
super rich kids with nothing 
but loose ends.


“Annette,” he bit out, tongue stiffening from the effort of excluding a ‘miss’ - Lord Armann’s headstrong, red haired daughter had been needling at him for weeks to drop formalities, and he needed her in a pleasant enough mood to consider his next few words. It was always a delicate balance. Upsetting them just enough to put them off, but not enough to cry to their fathers about it.

It gave him endless headaches.

He returned the pleased smile curling around the girl’s rose-stained lips with a gritted one of his own. “I informed you that I would be attending a gala tonight. Did my letter not arrive in time?”

“I haven’t a clue,” she chirped. “You know I never check my letters until just before bed. It’s still early evening, Xander, and it took me ages to choose a dress before coming to Moorehouse.”

He didn’t know when she checked her letters, and he didn’t know why they always assumed he’d make the effort to know such things. Sanya said that men should know, to not be a bastard. He’d never pretended not to be.

And he doubted his sister would scold him in this instance, if she were here.

He jerked his arm out from Annette’s crushing satin grasp. Broke his frown for a light, raspy chuckle. “Next time, I’ll send someone to personally deliver the news to you, Lady Armann, to save you the trouble of coming all the way here to hear it.”

Grim satisfaction leached into Xander’s cold smile when he saw the dash of embarrassment flush across the girl’s porcelain cheeks. Delicate balance? Her insolence had pushed her beyond such principles. If she still refused to acknowledge that there was nothing between them save the machinations of her groveling father and his scheming grandmother -

Nine? he called, tugging on the strings of their bond. A little like tugging the string connecting to the first-floor servant’s bell, something he tried not to do unless circumstances were dire.

A dollop of bitterness melted from Xander’s mood when the dragon answered. Waiting outside. But... can I enter the mansion? Still there? Ann-nette?

Unfortunately, yes, he sighed, ignoring the pout that had settled itself prettily on Annette’s mouth. She was sharper than most of the others, he admitted, and knew defeat when she saw it.

Come. She’ll hate it. She - Annette. Ludivine. Two birds with one stone.

And moments later, with the hush of a winter wind, the dragon came. Through the balcony doors, past the ballroom chandeliers, down the hallway Annette had cornered him in. Until she crept towards Xander on soft kitten feet, and pressed her cool, smooth snout against his shoulder. Hello, she whispered.

Annette jumped back with a startled squeal - she hadn't seen Nine’s arrival. Another point he couldn’t begrudge her - the dragon was as silent as death.

Sweet as all honey, though.

He patted her nose affectionately, turned to the startled girl pressed to the hallway walls. Bowed loosely. “If you’ll excuse me - you know how I despise being late.” She didn’t. But now she did.

“I'll write you,” he said, before swinging a leg over Nine’s lowered back and hoisted himself into the crook behind her wing joints. Even a year later, nothing could ever shake away the thrill that licked through his core when he slipped onto the white dragon’s sleek back.

We’ll be heading close to the harbors, tonight. The gala’s being held in a house facing the sea. And... you’ll have to stay outside for this one. Sorry. Nine shook her head as she slipped over the ivory balcony, spread her ivory wings, and glided to the rose-wreathed courtyard below.

It’s ok. The alleycats, I’ll visit them, she chirped. And as they sped down Moorehouse’s winding walkway, a copper haired boy on his dragon laughed.

---

A glass of white wine dangled from Alexander’s ringed fingers, freshly poured. Nigh untouched. He’d accepted a glass at the waiter’s insistence - but would never allow more than an obligatory sip of alcohol to pass his lips.

Never. Not like his father; a prisoner behind swan-necked wine bottles, addicted to the memories, a victim to his sorrow. Would that be his fate, too, one day? His fingers brushed lightly across the outline of a cigar box in his coat pocket. One day. Like father, like son.

But not today, and not any day soon.

The gala was a bore; he’d never expected anything else. If Sanya had come with him, perhaps it would have been better. But Grandmother had needed her at Moorehouse to greet a visiting diplomat tonight, one of the King’s envoys, so his sister had been snatched away. Locked back inside her gilded birdcage, him outside, hands bloodied and voice hoarse as he tore at the unbending bars. “It’s alright, Sasha,” she told him, always. Good little Sanya, good little dove. He knew she was far from weak - she was so much stronger than he - but her resignation for her life as the Beaumont heiress, golden dragon in a golden cage...

It drove a stake into his raging heart.

He never did notice the girl approach. His attention had been elsewhere, his scowl permanently ingrained. Avoided the Beaumont heir was, yet adored at a distance like a saint. (He refused to acknowledge the stares of the girls in the room. The more you acknowledged them, he’d learned, the more likely they were to conjure up a reason to approach.)

When he felt her touch, then, light as air, his glass slipped a precious glass inch from his grasp.

A hand alighted upon his sleeve, and before he could even breathe dissent, slender arms slipped into the crook of his elbow. A whisper, low and gritted, followed: “Help me out, please. I’ll repay you if you do, I promise.” In his surprise he hadn’t turned to look at her (Annette’s earlier, intruding grasp was still stamped into his disgruntled memory) until now. Slow and searing and steady. Tongue pressed to the roof of his mouth.

Bright blue eyes, as startling as electricity, stared pupillessly up at him. The single word, ‘fae’, resounded like a dull gong through Xander’s mind, but his gaze didn’t stray towards her ears to check. It stayed trained on those enchanting eyes, not quite seeing, not quite believing. Until the fae girl leaned closer. Too close. His arm froze into ice beneath hers.

She didn’t know who he was, did she? If he were anyone else, he might’ve been amused. But then, if he were anyone else -

He wouldn’t have been alone.

The arm she held captive in hers stayed taut, unmoving, but Xander’s other arm shifted to lower the wine glass it held down to the waist-high cabinet besides him. The girl had said something about payment, hadn’t she? He bit his scoff back with a thick swallow. What payment would a Beaumont -

She spoke, again. Cut his thoughts mid-flow.

“Sorry, I already have a date.” The scent of lilacs enveloped him when she laid her head against his shoulder, brown curls whispering against black silk. Her shoulders, nut-brown, were bare and polished. He didn’t know why he noticed. He normally didn’t.

(If Xander’s defense wasn’t built nigh impregnable, he might have blushed. Kastali girls - besides his sister - weren’t prone to revealing much skin. Not that it was in any way vulgar, just… unexpected. An unexpected sight.)

To her brazen remark, he said nothing. He hadn’t yet worked out what to say, exactly, and in such… unseen situations, his words were often easily taken out of context. Careful, Alexander, his grandmother’s voice trilled. Headache already incoming.

Who had driven her to take such actions?

When he saw them, Damien Alcaster and his gaggle of fools, his sigh leaked out untempered. When they saw him, Alexander Beaumont, their smiles froze solid on their faces.

“You heard her,” he said, slowly. The chatter in the room died to an eavesdropping silence. “Or would you like for me to tell you again?”

He didn't let them reply - he wasn’t in the mood - before he moved the girl’s hand from his elbow to his palm, smiled tightly at her - did she know the extent of the favor she owed him? -, and lead her out of the stifling room into the back gardens.

He dropped her hand immediately the moment they came up behind a particularly tall hedge. Not allowing himself to think on it. “You must be new here,” he said instead, coldly. Uncertainty masked by frost. “Because you don’t know who I am, do you?” 

Silvery moonlight washed her delicate features aglow, and as he looked at her, unhindered now by the threat of gossip, he couldn't help lingering at the magnificent cloak trailing down from her (bare) shoulders. A stunning lapis blue, it was patterned like... butterfly wings? He'd never seen anything like it, not even in his family's extensive collection. 

Nine, he called, automatically. It was a hardwired response, now, whenever he wished to divert his mind. Yes? came her immediate response - alert, surprised. Should I come?

No. It's alright, he assured her quickly. Fae despised dragons. He wouldn't take the chance. Don't come, unless I call again.

@Althealansi Yver | "speaks" | notes: me, laughing at how long this is
rallidae


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Althealansi Yver, Outlander Wanderer


NameAlthealansi Yver
SpeciesFae
ClassGeyma
Age56
GenderFemale (she/her/hers)
PlayerJeanne
TimezoneEastern U.S. UTC -4
#3





There had been, Althea thought, as she attempted to ignore the freezing sensation in her fingertips, some benefits to remaining with her trio of admirers. For one, they hadn’t been angry, and feeling someone’s anger was always a sensation that turned her stomach. (There was more than just anger, though, or some confused…pre-anger. There was a moment, in fact, when she’d felt a spike of something like embarrassment, which felt red-pink and bright. It was a warm sensation, and she was not entirely sure what caused it. At any rate, it did not last.) For another, their accompaniment didn’t come with the abrupt realization that she’d made a blaring social miscalculation.

However, social miscalculation and cold, stomach-turning sensation or no, there was something immensely satisfying about the way that whatever-his-name-with-a-D’s face drained of all color the moment that she latched onto the blonde stranger, that frankly irritating, goading smile frozen up on his features. (His lackeys had identical expressions - charming.) It was all she could do not to smirk like the cat who’d gotten the canary, particularly when her newfound companion did not argue with her. It wasn’t as though she’d given him much of a choice.

In fact, he went along with her little lie. “You heard her. Or would you like for me to tell you again?” Her immediate relief was so overwhelming that it took her a moment to realize that the chatter in the room had dropped off to an abrupt silence.

(Curiosity was a sensation that felt like the color yellow, most of the time. A little itch. Almost like embarrassment, but in reverse. She wasn’t sure that she would have felt it as strongly as she did, were it not presently the emotional state of half of the party, but, as things stood, it was almost enough to overwhelm the chill that was working its way from her fingers up her arm, towards her shoulder. She realized, with a sudden prick of nausea, that she’d suddenly become the subject of more than a few scrutinizing stares. It wasn’t as though Althea minded to be the center of attention (or so she insisted, attempting to think of anything but the last time she’d found herself the most interesting thing in the room at a party), but she hadn’t intended to entangle herself in something scandalous on one of her first nights out in the city.)

With that, he gave her a smile that was not at all a smile, took her by the hand rather than by the arm, and promptly dragged her out of the room and into the gardens.

She let out a sharp hiss at his tugging, though she refrained from speaking until they were in the gardens, well out of earshot of most of the partygoers; she was in heels. Once they were suitably obscured behind a hedgerow, he let go of her hand. She rubbed at it pointedly, as though she was genuinely injured by his tugging. “You rescue a damsel in distress, and you drag her along like a dog on a leash?” Althealansi glowered at him, choosing to – momentarily – ignore the fact that she’d been the one to drag him into her affairs and he therefore likely had a right to be angry in favor of expressing some righteous indignation. (Her brother would never have treated her – or anyone else, as far as she was concerned – so harshly, and she was her model for appropriate behavior from noblemen.)

When he remarked – with what struck Althea as an exaggerated sense of self-importance – that she must be new here, because she clearly had no idea who he was, Althealansi paused for a moment, weighing the benefits and costs of bluffing. On one hand, he was right. She had absolutely no idea who she was looking at, and she wasn’t likely to find out if she didn’t admit to her own ignorance. On the other hand, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to know. Or that she was particularly inclined to continue this interaction, now that they weren’t in public. A significant part of Althea just wanted to escape before she could get into any more trouble.

(She supposed that, all things considered, she could use her magic to escape here, if needed. They were out of sight, and the gardens seemed to be largely vacant besides; she doubted that there was anyone around who could sense her magic (a paranoid fear besides, given how rare the sensing magic was anyways), particularly considering how few fae were at the party. She’d been something of an outlier. She wondered if that was simply because of the personal preference of the host, or if it was a sign of the change in social order.)

“You’re right,” she conceded, finally, though her expression suggested she didn’t want to at all. “I have no idea who you are – and I suspect you have no idea who I am, either?” She said it like a question, as though it meant much of anything - as though she weren’t the one who’d grabbed him. What did it matter if he knew who she was? Althealansi just liked to hope that her family name still held just enough weight to mean anything in modern society, despite the fall of the fae monarchy, despite what had happened to her brother, despite the fact that their line was all but dying out, despite her father’s reluctance to support the human king – and the fact that he’d only given into it under duress, because her father was getting older and his military days were long past. (He would have resisted, once. Not now. Not with the lives of his children on the line, not with his siblings dead, not when Viel showed no interest in finding a mate any time soon.) Her brother was far less reluctant in his support, but he…

He was not himself anymore.

At least, she thought, rather grimly, that could work to their benefit for the moment. (Much as it left a sour taste in her mouth.) Unlike many of the fae families in Norderhalt (which had, admittedly, clung to relevance more easily than fae nobility in most of the other regions), the Yvers still maintained some vague semblance of importance, much as she had the feeling that the semblance only extended as far as their usefulness to the new regime.

But that, of course, had nothing to do with Althealansi – the second daughter, a barren, tainted fae who’d rarely been so much as allowed outside of her family’s estate. She was insignificant, and with that came some semblance of freedom.

(Really, it just meant that her fate was defined by other people. If her brother or her father stumbled, she would come crashing down with them. If someone wanted to hurt her family, they would hurt her – because they were under the illusion that she was helpless. Althealansi knew exactly why she had been the one that maid had wanted to assassinate. But, for the moment, like a frog boiling alive in hot water, she tells herself that she is comfortable. At least her father let her leave.)

In the face of his cold, irate response, Althealansi neither withered nor faltered. Certainly, her fingers still felt like ice cubes, even now that there was some distance between them, and certainly, she could feel his…annoyance, or anger, or some mixture thereof like a distant pulsing, an almost-squelching throb somewhere between her ears that made her think of something sharp and the color red. She’d be lying, however, if she said that it were a combination of emotions that she was unaccustomed to, and so she straightened – she was nearly, she thought, as tall as him – and stared him directly in the eyes, nearly unblinking.

She showed no signs of backing down, but she reluctantly decided to defer to courtesy; considering that she’d forced him into her affairs, it was proper for her to make the first introduction…much as she’d hoped to escape this party without anyone discovering who she was. (Her father might have a fit over it.)

She extended her hand – something of a peace offering. “I’m Althea - Althea Yver. And you are?” Hadn’t she said, when she’d left home to explore the rest of Drekhjarta, that she wanted to meet more people? The circumstances were hardly ideal, but she supposed that this was one way to do it.




but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
@Alexander Beaumont || me? write a short reply? to you??? blasphemy. ||  || "Speech."




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Alexander Beaumont, Kastalian Aristocrat


NameAlexander Lucien Swann Beaumont
SpeciesHuman
ClassSal
Age20
GenderMale (He/Him/His)
Playerrallidae
TimezoneWest Coast, USA UTC -7
#4


i'm using white lighters
to see what's in front of me


Strips of sumra moon, cut and quartered by the tooth-like gaps between the hedgerows, washed the weaving garden path in alternating bands of black and white. Light, dark. Light, dark. A checkerboard robbed of its pieces.

A band of dark they stood under now, flanked by squares of moonlight. With the warmth of her hand swiftly replaced by evening chill, Xander’s gaze moved from the silver-striped path to the sapphire-clothed girl and hovered there. Appraising, uncertain, hostile. Blue-violet freezing to sleet.

“You rescue a damsel in distress, and you drag her along like a dog on a leash?”

“Stars,” he muttered, none too softly. She really said—and did—whatever she wanted, didn’t she? A scowl worked itself into the quivers of his mouth (a bow nocked and drawn with scowl-shaped arrows) before shuddering to a swift, unsatisfying death.

The staccato succession of her heels click-click-clicking on the stones after him had melted his affront, somewhat, with a trickling of guilt. Perhaps he had dragged her a bit too roughly towards the gardens. A slip of the moment; he wasn’t particularly practiced in wisking girls—or self-appointed damsels—out of troublesome situations.

But after he’d made this concession for her (and honored his due diligence as a member of duplicitous polite society), with a scoff did Alexander twist the faucet of concessions firmly, three-turns-to-the-right, closed.

“You didn’t give me much of a choice, damsel.” To her magnificent glower he answered with one of his own. A matching set of glowers on hedgerow-shadowed faces. A sudden breeze swept rudely through the tooth-like gap between the hedges, swirling fallen leaves and branches about their legs. A copper curl fell into his eyes. He didn’t bother to brush it back.

Out of all the well-dressed elbows in the room, she’d chosen his to procure—and as he watched her rub her hand with enough dramatic flair to rival his sister’s, Xander thought, with a dusting of schoolboy satisfaction (not anything he’d be proud of in normal circumstances, but circumstances were hardly normal), she was starting to realize her mistake.

“You’re right.” He raised a brow, then, her smoothly dropped agreement the last thing he’d expected. She wasn’t lying, either; the reluctance in her voice proved her case. Reluctance was rarely the manner of address given by those who knew of his family, to say the least.

“I have no idea who you are,”—as he’d thought—“And I suspect you have no idea who I am, either?” He didn’t. She was as much a mystery to him as he (strangely) was to her. Did she expect for him to know who she was?

He hadn’t been the one to approach her.

Disgruntled, Xander’s gaze again drifted down to the fae girl’s butterfly-patterned cloak, his hand running distractedly over the edges of his designated cigar-holding pocket. After a moment of weighty silence, he answered sullenly: “No. My knowledge of fae nobility is, unfortunately, limited.”

Why he’d risked his reputation to save hers was still beyond him. What had come over him? Had it been pity? A spur-of-the-moment attempt at chivalry? Both hopeless whims he’d once thought himself immune to.

Stars, what he wouldn’t give for a smoke. He practically ached for it.

The girl—unrepentant, electric-eyed, polished-shouldered girl—gave her name at last. Althea Yver. House of Yver? he wondered, briefly. The syllables tugged on the edges of memory, but failed to shake loose any leaf of knowledge. Perhaps Sanya would know more, if she were here. His sister remembered names to faces better than he would ever care to.

He took the hand she offered him with a cool, curling smile. Dipped his head in terse greeting—“Alexander Beaumont, but Xander will do,”—before relinquishing her hand once again, this time more gently, his manners remembered in the absence of imminent scandal. As per the daring damsel’s wishes, he sighed.

Althea. He suspected she hadn’t given him her full name—he’d had a fae tutor once, before he'd been sent to the Academy, and knew that fae took great pride in their long, elaborate names—and wondered whether she’d done it out of an appeal to casualty, or late-blooming wariness. Nevertheless, a shade of stiffness had stowed away on the currents of his voice when he’d given her his own in response.

Would she recognize it? (The age-old dread, sweeping in to port: would it change him to her?) But before he could wonder further—

Two shadows, arm in arm, flickered across the square of moonlight to their left. Distress momentarily discarded, bronze brows pulled together in concern.

“We shouldn’t linger.” A frown creased his lips as he turned towards the heart of the green maze. The gardens of any gala, as empty as they appeared to be, were the favored haunts of the season’s most fashionable pairings. It was partly the reason why he’d taken her—Althea—there. With his reputation, it wouldn’t have been believable otherwise.

He glanced towards her again, black-silver to blue, resignation driving the grey sleet out of his eyes and leaving them a deep, stormy violet. Agitated fingers combed through his hair, tumbling loose a waterfall of curls. He barely noticed.

“You mentioned something about payment, back there. I’ve decided, just now, what I want.” He pushed away from the hedge, leaves slipping off black silk. Walked until he was just shy of touching her, untiltable chin tilting down (just a bit—with her heels she was nearly even with him) to stare questioningly into her bright, pupilless eyes.

“Your company, for the remainder of this evening.” He couldn’t very well return to the party without her now, could he? He hated always having to consider his reputation, like it were a glass bauble of Integrity perched on an ever-wobbling cabinet—if it were up to him, he’d let it go to the dogs. Spit on the shattered remains.

But it wasn’t up to him. Had never been up to him. He’d dug himself into a metaphorical hole helping her, and the last thing he needed was for Grandmother to find out. (She would inevitably find out—it wasn’t about avoiding the inevitable. It was about sealing the cracks before they could widen.)

Lady Yver had been stealing glances to and fro ever since he’d dropped her hand. If she thought she was getting away so easily…

“We can stay in the gardens. There’s a gazebo if you go further down a bit, where guests rarely wander. It’s nice enough—quiet. Surely,” his head jerked towards the bubble of polite laughter somewhere behind the hedge, “you weren’t thinking of going back, were you?”

---

Somewhere in the dark of the city, a white dragon darted from alley to alley. Not quite dragon-like, not quite cat-like. Nine-like. With worry in her gut and wind in her fur. 

Towards the gated little mansion she'd seen her bonded last. 

@Althealansi Yver | "speaks" | notes: nine, ignoring xander: i'm COMING and you can't stop me :)))
rallidae


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Althealansi Yver, Outlander Wanderer


NameAlthealansi Yver
SpeciesFae
ClassGeyma
Age56
GenderFemale (she/her/hers)
PlayerJeanne
TimezoneEastern U.S. UTC -4
#5





If she were alone, Althea would have enjoyed the garden. It was clearly well-cared for, and it was so much greener than Norderhalt, even in the warmest parts of the year. She didn’t know much about plants – gardening was a skill she’d never been expected to pick up on, as a noblewoman, and the harsh seasons of Norderhalt were hardly hospitable for most for most of the year anyways. (Their landscaping was tragic, and primarily motivated by what could be grown, rather than what they wanted to grow.) As she was being dragged along (like a ragdoll, she thought, stiffly), she’d caught glimpses of lots of different flowers – vines that climbed up fence rows and aesthetically-placed posts with big, bright white blooms, practically vivid enough to gleam in the moonlight, fat roses that were as deep and dark as blood, little purple blossoms that grew in clumps. It was almost pretty enough for her to forgive him for his rough handling; she wasn’t sure that she would have ventured out into the gardens otherwise.

Almost.

She chose to disregard the swear that slipped less-than-subtly from his lips the moment her remark about his rough treatment was out of her mouth in favor of continuing to glower. He, predictably, glowered back. It wasn’t especially productive, but it made her feel somewhat better, particularly now that she wasn’t touching him. The bits of her fingers that had gone numb from his proximity were recovering some sensation, and, though she could still hear his anger and confusion throbbing between her ears (somewhere in her veins, like feeling the movement of her own blood), it was no longer overwhelming. She much preferred to cling to people when they were feeling things she liked.

He scoffed. It did nothing pleasant for his – admittedly handsome – features, and Althea was tempted to comment on it. You didn’t give me much of a choice, damsel, he snapped back, and she arched her brows at him, clearly unimpressed.

She very nearly told him that adaptability was a virtue that should be practiced as often as possible, but she remembered her manners at the last possible moment and swallowed back a biting remark. He did save her, and she knew that she should be grateful for it. (Or so she kept reminding herself. Somewhere, in all of this, he found time to feel pleased with himself, for just a moment. She felt something golden behind her eyelids, and a sudden tickling in her stomach, like feathers.) So, she gathered all of her composure, and, though she did not apologize, she conceded.

He raised a brow at her. Her stare lingered, momentarily, on a curl of copper-tone hair that had fallen loose from his otherwise-slicked hairstyle during their disagreement. She sensed his surprise – bright blue, like a crack of lightning, but not especially bold or sharp, more of a dull thing, really – and then something that made her stomach curl up and her fingers tremble at the tips. It was darker blue. Darker. Uncertainty? Yes, it was uncertainty, and it was making her uncertain-

Althealansi dropped her gaze from his face for long enough to watch his hand. He moved it towards one of his pockets, groped at the rim of it. She wondered why, or what he kept in there – clearly, he was after something, and it felt more like an instinctual reaction than anything conscious. There was that – would she call it anxiety? Confusion? Uncertainty? - again, seeking comfort – black-fingered and chittering, slow and sticky as molasses. (But choking. Something sickly.)

Her eyes snapped back up to stare at his face when she offered her name and her hand. She felt a prickle of disappointment when she realized – not from his feelings, but from the look on his face – that he knew her family name as a vague impression, at best, before she reminded herself that it was far more convenient for her to be from a minor family than a prominent one. The Yvers’ fall from grace didn’t have much to do with her. She was just a second daughter, and she wasn’t sure what her brother would do with her once their father died.

Assuming she outlived him, anyways. She was starting to wonder if, with her propensity for trouble, she wouldn’t find some way to dig her own grave long before Auridion Yver, tactful and wise man that he – supposedly – was.

(In order to admit that she knew much of her father, Althea would have to admit that they had ever been close, and she didn’t want to think about that right now. She wasn’t sure that she would ever want to think about that.)

So she thought about the man in front of her instead.
 
That he was somewhat important was a foregone conclusion, and not one that Althea cared for. She rather liked being insignificant and unimportant, and associating with people who were important was probably the worst way to maintain her forgettable status that she could think of. He took her hand. The hairs on her arms rose up in response; goosebumps rose in flocks with the sudden chill. He smiled, and it was not at all a smile, and he introduced himself as Alexander Beaumont, but Xander will do.

It pleased her immensely that she could not recall the details of his family immediately either – although that was likely a sign of her lacking education in that department, rather than his family’s lack of prominence. Beaumont, Beaumont, Beaumont…. She’d certainly heard the name somewhere, but where? She inclined her head, and she barely noticed when he pulled his hand away.

They were in…banking? Money? It somehow involved finances, she was sure of it. (She would never get over those humans and their tendency to introduce themselves by full name.) They must have supported the human king – he wouldn’t possess such a sense of self-importance if they hadn’t. They would have been crushed alongside everyone else who tried to resist him. (It was brazen, so horribly brazen – they certainly didn’t know each other well enough for that. Full names among the fae were something intimate.) Oh, the human king. That could be a problem. Potentially. Theoretically. Weren’t there rumors about what he did to Geyma fae? It wouldn’t be ridiculous to say that she would make a useful dragon tamer. (At least he’d given her a nickname, too. That was polite. He should have led with it, of course, but beggars couldn’t be choosers, or so she had always been told.) She didn’t particularly want to wind up in any sort of situation where she would be forced to use her magic, so-

Distress was white.

Well – nothing was ever exactly the same color, even if it came from the same person. Different circumstances pulled out different colors, and sometimes she had a hard time disentangling them, but, fortunately, she felt them too, and not just in colors. Distress was white and cold and sharp, like a spire made out of ice. She blinked at him. She could feel his worry, or something like it, and it was pungent, and she didn’t want to feel bad for him, because she couldn’t well go around getting tugged along by every strong emotion she caught a whiff of, and because she was supposed to be put-off by his charmless demeanor, but she did feel sorry for him, very sorry.

It was one of those sensations that lingered like a rock in her throat. She was trying to figure out how to deal with it when it cut off like a snuffed flame, replaced by a jolt of urgency. His brows knitted, and he informed her that they shouldn’t linger.
 
She blinked, throwing a glance over her shoulder; whatever he’d seen, it was already gone. Still, she didn’t feel like arguing that point. The distress was still knotting in her throat.

It spiked again, nearly constricting, and she could have choked on it but didn’t. He glanced around them, hands rising to his hair to knock it out of its careful styling. Golden-brown curls fell into his face. She wasn’t sure if he noticed. (She wasn’t sure that she noticed, really; she was letting herself get dragged along by his emotions, which was far worse than being tugged along by the hand, and she didn’t like it at all.)

He was speaking. Something about payment. Her payment. Oh, that, was that-

She gritted her teeth, sharply, when he bridged the distance between them. Predictably, his emotional state was even more palpable when he moved closer. So, so much closer; if he’d drifted just an inch or so closer, just a breath closer, she could have fixed it. It wouldn’t have been so hard to pull out that distress, to replace it with something else or nothing at all – even at this distance, it wouldn’t be so hard to sing it all away. All she had to do was want it gone, really want it gone, to think it away, and then it would be gone, and they would both feel better, wouldn’t-

(The siren’s song of her magic was always calling her, but it was at its worst at times like this. She forced it down. It would be irresponsible. Even evil.)

She held his stare, though she had the distinct feeling that hers was more than a bit glassy. His stare was an inquiry. She told herself to focus on his voice, not their proximity, not whatever he might or might not be feeling.

Your company, for the remainder of the evening.

His request hit her like a bucket of cold water. Her own surprise was momentarily enough to purge his agitation from her mind, and she blinked up at him, obviously startled, eyes widening like a deer in the headlights. Why would he want that? She supposed that it would be strange for him to reappear without her, now that she was thinking through the repercussions of her stunt in the manor, but-

Without an appropriate response prepared, she resorted to her usual methods. Althealansi bluffed as easily as she breathed; she had the lower hand, and she was trapped, but she wasn’t entirely helpless.

“How bold of you, Xander,” she remarked, and her voice was sugar-sweet and lilting enough to be flirtatious – but the grin she flashed him bordered on caustic. So much for taking the opportunity to escape this party, and possibly the city; at least she could take this as a chance to learn a bit more about the city and the nobles who inhabited it. (It had become embarrassingly clear that she did not know as much as she thought that she knew.) She fluttered her lashes, still smiling, and used the gesture to consider her options. She could hardly run, now, and she did say that she would repay him for helping her. She didn’t want to go back on her word.

Of course, she knew that he had ulterior motives. (She wasn’t entirely sure what they were, but she could feel them. She thought that they were associated with some kind of anxiety, but she couldn’t discern exactly what it sprung from; at any rate, if she wasn’t forced to probe into them, she didn’t want to.) Still, she didn’t have much of a choice but to accept his request.

When her voice came out, it was practically a purr. “Alright, love. I’m in rather high demand tonight, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, but you’re rather charming, so I suppose that I can grant your request.” She was not convinced that he had a charming bone in his body, and she was reasonably sure that her shamelessness would do nothing but provoke him further, but it was better than distress and far less sympathetic.

He wanted a date? Well, she could certainly give him a date.

His next remarks inspired a potent mixture of relief and annoyance. Relief at the fact that they wouldn’t be returning to the manor, to that crowded room with all those staring eyes – annoyance at his inquiry. Surely, you weren’t thinking of going back, were you? Oh, he knew that she was, and he knew that he’d effectively cornered her. She didn’t take kindly to being cornered, even if she’d just done the same thing to him.

(She knew, realistically, that she should be more friendly, considering that he’d endangered his own reputation by saving her – particularly given that she was a fae and he was most certainly not, and that he was apparently a rather prominent figure in the city, and she, of course, had no presence at all. She also knew that it would be much easier to be friendly if his temper weren’t giving her a tension headache.)

Her pupilless eyes narrowed by a fraction. Althealansi threw him a smile that was definitely, absolutely, not-at-all sarcastic. “Leave? Why Alexander-“ she was feeling particularly brazen, so she resorted to using his full name as an act of defiance, “-my darling, I would never rob myself of the absolute pleasure of your company like that.” Or risk drawing the attention of that trio of drunks again, though she suspected that her “date” scared them off for the foreseeable future. “Come now. Show me that gazebo – it sounds positively charming.”

Without waiting for his reaction (again), she took him by the hand, carelessly breaching what little space remained between them; she twined her fingers with his own, taking the skin contact as an assurance that she would be able to see any changes in his emotional state coming from a mile away. (If he were, for example, one of those noblemen who liked to lead off gullible young women and then beheaded them once they unlocked certain doors in his manor, like in the fables she’d read as a girl, she knew exactly what murderous impulses felt like, and she knew exactly how to replace them with something more palatable.) In a single, fluid stride, she moved herself to stand at his side and promptly leaned up against him – it was closer to a brush, really, because she didn’t put much weight into it. Still, she lingered there, coat-to-arm, and, after a second’s consideration, returned her head to its rest on his shoulder.

There. She was sure that she looked properly smitten, like that - very convincing, assuming that her partner didn’t freeze up like a board in response, and Althea wasn’t sure that she trusted him not to.

She stared up at him expectantly.






I don’t remember how to tell the truth, 
how not to turn my grief to rose and cream. 

@Alexander Beaumont || this is comically long & althea is RIDICULOUS ||  || "Speech."








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