For Whom the Bell Tolls

Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:31 am

There was much said by her and then much said by him. It was a battle of words, but not the questions he intended. He had told her there'd be no winner there, but one of the two had perhaps made some gains, regardless. Myrken seduced, especially once such as her, especially one who felt herself far beyond such things. It hadn't have time to do so, and there wasn't time remaining. That frustrated him as much as anything else. Of course she couldn't just believe him about how this was going to go, but it would have been nice. It would have saved them all pain. That wasn't giving up. It was attempting to avoid the mistakes of the past, but the attempt had no substance and he well knew it.

There was pain in his eyes, but so much else. She couldn't swallow him up with youthful exuberance. He had once possessed that and his eyes were deep wells with that dangerous, unstable spark beneath them. She was welcome to gaze though. "I'm too brittle to bend, Egris. Losing her was terrible. Our minds were bound together through her gift. I felt the moment of her death. I feel it now no matter what i remember. I feel it, in nightmares and daydreams. A flash of black. Between that and a month of starvation I've been left rather disagreeable, to you and yours especially. Know this. Turning too close an eye to Myrken means that Myrken looks back at you. We're better off ignored." She wouldn't believe that either.

She rose, she went to draw and he rose as well. They'd do this in the middle of the night in his living room. This was a girl who wanted all of her toys in the immediate. But then, she had waited for so long. He kept on talking, even as he walked towards the door, towards an umbrella stand which contain no parasols but instead a rapier. "So you've not seen me since I've been keeping my head down, have been running my government without the usual flair. Buying time for it and myself. I take complaints. I dole out justice. I see to the most mundane elements of government, and so long as I do, there are no mistakes to be made. You seem rather poor with patience, Egris."
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Kestrel » Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:29 am

Experience was often frustrated with the delusions of youth. The woman thought herself untouchable, despite what she had seen. This was the first time she had bent her head to politics. War and battle, these were her experience. Myrken and the Governor were something altogether new. It was for that reason that she did not give his words the weight they deserved. The young woman needed to discover how much pain there was to be had in Myrken for herself and the Governor found himself too weary to guide her path in any meaningful way. He brushed aside her olive branch, he cast aside her offer of alliance, too weary with the weight of the world upon his shoulders.

She offered to assist with his burden, but he was stubborn. Unwilling to bend, as he said. "I've noticed," she drawled, with mention of his ill temper. "You seem beaten and you seem broken, Glenn. You would rather remain as you are than accept my aid, it seems." She looked into those deep pools he called eyes and smiled tentatively. "You think that you have nothing left to give, but you are wrong. There is always more."

They both rose and he stole across the room to gain his weapon. She unsheathed her own and the metal sand against her scabbard. She lifted the blade, admiring the sheen of candlelight reflected in its silvered surface. She gave a happy sigh. Like most borne of battle, the sword was her closest friend.

"I have been nothing but patient since my arrival, I thought," she disagreed, with a mock-pouting frown directed his way. She stood, positioned for combat, and waited for him. "But you are right in that, I wager. Hence why I have offered this obviously-doomed gesture of allegiance." She lifted to point of her sword towards him, gazing at him down its length, and winked salaciously.

"Let us dance."
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:54 am

If he was truly beaten then he'd be gone. Agnieszka had offered. If he was truly beaten then he would just go along with her. She had much to offer after all. Of course, if he was at his very best, maybe he would have gone with her offer, sure that he would beguile and confound her, or even fully convert her to his cause and truly, himself. No, the weariness was this and this alone: he couldn't start again. Whether she meant well or not, she obviously didn't understand and she was utterly brazen about it. He couldn't lead her to that knowledge, not as he had others. There wasn't enough in him to watch that all play out again, not as part of it.

"I have much to give, Egris. Just not to you, I'm afraid. Not on the terms you offer." Swords were drawn, yes, but he'd cut the distance right from the get go. For a recent invalid he was QUICK. For someone so broken, he was brazen. He'd be close now, would go for her cheek again with his free hand, would speak softly. "When it all goes south, though, I'll be there for you, to patch up your wounds and to help mend your broken heart. Myrken breaks us all in the end, but we, we silly little humans, are there to help put each other back together."

See, they were dancing already.
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Kestrel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:17 am

Egris saw the same look in his eyes that she saw in road-weary soldiers after a long campaign. Whether he noticed it himself, she thought that she saw his edges fraying.

She offered him much. She was a woman of wealth who loved his people and could turn the hard stare of the crown in an alternate direction, but he denied her. There was no alliance to be found here. It was becoming increasingly clear that she would not be able to save Myrken. Its political figures gave her nothing but grief. That would not change. It would certainly be simpler to stand aside, move on to another place with less stubborn people. Perhaps she would come back to visit, when the land had been razed by the King's men and another ruled with an iron fist.

She gave a quick bark of laughter as he crossed towards her, frustration written upon her features. His gentle stroke against her cheek was met with hardened eyes. She moved to the side and away, the slap on his forearm with the flat of her sword a warning. His patronizing words were hardly going to win him any love. "I offer you more than you deserve. The Baron and his men will destroy you. I do not think that you will be in a position to mend any broken hearts when you are dead, Governor." And there went their familiarity.

Her sword whispered when she allowed it to slide back into its sheath and turned towards the door.

"May your pride keep you safe."
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:45 am

Her sword was sheathed. His sword dropped to the ground, the equivalent of defacing a holy book. She walked towards the door, and he was there, his hand upon it, holding it shut. "It doesn't need to end this way, Egris, in pain and blood and fire and sludge, in the destruction of the self that this place brings out in all of us, in the darkness that it inspires so that we can push back against the night. It doesn't have to end in the Baie and the Fiend and in Catch's promise, the circle of self-destruction that's gone on again and again and again. This time can be different. You can stop it, Egris. You can choose otherwise. You can turn around. You can sit back down. We can play our third game. We can be more clever than the options the world has given us. We can shatter the shell of all the eventualities and make our own."

He took a step back, inviting her with mad words and asking for a leap of faith that she couldn't begin to fathom, that didn't seem to be in her interest at all.

"Or you can open that door."

But he was so damn earnest about it.
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Kestrel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 3:14 am

Egris had been trained in political niceties as a child. She had been taught to curtsey, to play hostess for tea, and to smile demurely. To sew, to raise children, and to do as her husband wishes in all things.

The military had taught her to take what she wanted, to drink like a man, to play the battlefield. It taught her strategy and cunning.

It was her military knowledge that made her gloved hand snap out to attempt to wrap around his throat. Thumb and forefinger might find the edges of his jaw to keep him in place because he dared to block her way. He was unlikely in any real danger, but it brought her displeasure across quite clearly. Her knee attempted to find berth between his legs in a warning not to move. Glenn Burnie was lightning fast, though, and she might just end up grabbing hold of thin air instead. Her nostrils flared and pupils dilated. Anger was tightly reigned, but altogether obvious.

"Are all in Myrken mad? You plead with me to leave, you beg me to stay. You tell me that you will not compromise, you tell me that we can work towards a change together. You insist that you have no interest in a marriage of convenience, you stroke my cheek and tell me that you will mend my heart." She offered this all in chilled tones and flashing eyes, whether her personal space was filled with him or not.

"There is no need for games unless they will alter the state of this mess you call your own. Your people are floundering, despite all that you supposedly offer, and I am offering you aid. If you don't wish it, I will abandon you to your fate and let the vultures have you," she vowed, standing back (releasing him, if she'd managed that) and crossing arms over her chest in sullen fashion. Annoyed with herself for allowing her emotions to get the better of her. Perhaps she would abandon them, or perhaps that was the frustration talking.

"Assuming it was just my compromise that was unsuitable, do tell me what you have in mind as an alternative. Games are for children, Governor, and your people starve while you play them with me."
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 05, 2014 3:44 am

The choke would not avoided, or perhaps even allowed. The knee, would be, ever so awkwardly hooked within his own rising leg, so that the two of them would be dancing once again, of sorts, responsible for each other's balance. His eyes never left hers as she choked, as she tried to guide his head.

Were they all mad? Of course. That's just what he was saying. That's what he was showing her, and it paid off with the loss of her emotional state. Her anger was met by a sparkle in his gaze, delight? Not quite delight, nor triumph,but something alive, something vibrant within the husk of a broken man. If anything, he leaned his throat into her hand. She could crush it right now, but then he would have won and she would know it until the day she died. That was the line they walked in Myrken. That was what they were willing to sacrifice, not even to win, but to make sure those who would prey upon them lost.

Welcome to Myrken Wood, The Lady Egris Verreaux.

She'd let him go ultimately, and unless they had already toppled over together, she would draw back. She would flash her gaze and her harsh words. "The third game, since you've ceded it, is this. Subterfuge. There's no point to survival if we lose our identity. There's no point in Myrken Wood surviving at the cost of what makes it special and what makes its people unique. We've been left to the vultures. That shaped us. The cold is over. Locusts come only once ever so many years. There's even profit to be found in what's been left behind and we'll find it. We were hungry. We survived. You helped. Thank you. The crown turns its eye upon us but other things will become more interesting or the next horror will arise and we'll no longer be worth the cost. What we need is to stall. You'll make no fortune in this, no name to your parents or fifteenth cousins or what not; in fact, you'll assuredly embarrass them more, but you'll be there to fight the horror when it comes, to push back the night beside good people for a cause better than any you've seen. If we die, you'll die with us and it'll be a good death. If we live then you'll strive with us and your soul will sing as the fire dances at your toes. You'll be loved for who you are, not what you can give us, or what you might have been, or what you can do for someone. You say you care for us? You say you want to help these people? Help them live and not just survive. Play the game with me, the ebb and flow, a stacked deck to beguile and distract. A false conflict to entertain the far off court, the one that spurned you, that would never accept you, while we secretly make these people's lives better and walk a line finer and more dangerous than any you ever have before. If we succeed at this, you'll conquer something far more difficult than a backwards province of beleaguered people. You'll stick it in the king's eye and spit upon the court."

Perhaps she should have choked him harder. Perhaps she should have danced with him with blades and taken his tongue. She hadn't though, and the words were there, between him and her, upon their honor, demanding that she lived up to her intentions and break all her vows for a greater honor than feudalism could ever provide.
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Kestrel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:53 pm

Their joined legs locked, but they managed to keep their balance. Tentatively. The spark of amusement in his eyes made her own narrow in response. The thumb hooked under his jaw attempted to tilt his head to the side so that she might look at him closer. Her face came closer and she released her hold upon his neck. He wanted to play, he would have to take a little of what he dealt out. Her hand shifted and her thumb searched for his bottom lip to run across it lightly. Despite the tenderness in the gesture, there was obvious annoyance upon her face.

Arms came to cross her chest and she stared at him with slightly pursed lips, considering. There was a sharp smile for the man as he attempted to persuade her to go against the crown that had so wronged her. "You and your council have been just as unwelcoming as those in court, Governor," she reminded him. Hostility greeted her immediately upon her arrival. The common folk were more polite. "So do not insult me by suggesting otherwise."

She lofted a sculpted brow at his words. "So, correct me if I am wrong. You propose that I help you lie to the King and get nothing at all in return out of the goodness of my heart? I get to remain here and gaze adoringly up at the Council and the Governor who allow me to do so?," she questioned, her voice slanted slightly higher in disbelief. She made a rude noise, a disparaging snort. "I was not aware that I looked foolish enough to buy into that sack of shit."

Her eyes rolled and she pressed her tongue against an eyetooth, sucking lightly as she thought. "I hold your town in my hands, whether you like it or not. The Baron waits for me to inform him of your treachery or your obedience. Should you make it worth my while, I may be convinced to send their attentions elsewhere, to try your subterfuge. But understand, I am kind, but not foolish. I am no saint. You need to scratch my back."

"There are three options that I can see," she counted them off on her fingers, all business. "Claiming a liaison and giving me some fashion of power, military action where I simply take what I want, or an alliance via marriage. Choose your poison or suggest an alternative that is not wholly laughable, Governor."
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:25 pm

Frankly, he'd been fondled by more buxom, more powerful, and far, far more cruel and insane women than her. He'd barely lived to tell the tale. No, he'd allow this. In fact, he'd allowed everything save for the knee, and that he hadn't deflected but instead enhanced, further embroiled. Now, they would draw apart and she would finally smile and let loose her rancor.

He didn't blame her one bit. "First, the Council doesn't matter. Second, my position doesn't matter, and pay heed, because this is important for "third" when we get to it. I never wanted to be Governor. That's the last thing I wanted. Anyone who wants to rule this land is wholly unfit to rule it, both morally and when it comes to competence. I was behind the scenes. I moved things how I could. Things were done. I could be blamed for little of it. I had to deal with the Council almost not at all. Then your king forced my hand and it was all downhill from there." It was a summons to Razasan that allowed Rhaena to take charge as well, and he held that against them too.

"Being accepted by the Council, by the new rich and the old nobles, so few as we have; none of that matters. Not to you, not truly to me. Oh, it would if you just wanted to rule, if you didn't truly want to help anyone. You're an outsider, and past perhaps a tavern owner or two, no one accepts an outsider in Myrken, not low, not high, not at first. The commoners will give you a chance. The farmers will remember where they came from. You'd have to compromise away from them in order to take Myrken though. You'd win but without any of the value of it, the true value to you. I'm sure you'd make the king proud though, if he could tell you apart from your second cousin with the similar haircut."

That led them to her ultimatum, her options. Did he have others? Yes, but none of them would come from her. "The people may think me insane or inept. They make think me lost or broken or an absolute ass, but they know I am not an opportunist. They know I could have sold them out to Burel or the Crown already. They know I don't even want my damn job. They know I was a victim of Rhaena when I could have been rich and powerful beside her. They know these things, and that's to your great advantage. If I married you otherwise, if I did what I had to for this to matter, then they would know me to be a traitor or worse. Now, half will think I am insane and in love with you because I think you Ariane Emory. The other half will think I'm just biding time to send a live scorpion between your legs. Either one works to your advantage in different ways. My terms then, in order to make this work. The first, a year long betrothal. I am a widower and you may be a flash in the pan. The second, and this is the only way this would work, you understand. The Governor of Myrken is not a noble title. It is a job description. I'll need to be risen up to the nobility. In truth, this wouldn't be too difficulty. From whence I came, my family was noble, though fallen on hard times," which is why they'd sold him to the Church, which had both created those hard times and benefited greatly from them."It would only be officially recognizing what was already there, something I've spent my whole life spitting on and ignoring," a luxury she hadn't had and one he was going to be giving up in the name of this plot. "And of course your agreement in what we're doing and the reasons behind it. Unless, of course you simply want to rule anyone simpering enough to bend to your whim and treat like you the noble that you wanted everyone to see you have?"
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Kestrel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:57 pm

It was not with seduction that she touched him, but merely an attempt to disquiet him. Not that it worked in her favor.

He was a man of many words and there were some that she disagreed with. She wagered that his people knew very little at all, despite his assumptions. Commoners, who made up the vast majority of his people, did not often have the energy to wonder about their leaders at all. Except when things went poorly, of course. They had not been kind during the famine. Of course, it was the others he spoke of - the merchants, the nobles, the educated. Those with a little money to their name; enough to gossip about the man holding all of their fates.

Throughout his speech, she kept her gaze upon him, listening patiently as he remarked on his terms. The fact that he chose marriage was a bit of a surprise, but she wagered that was the only one where he could bide his time. Attempt to rid himself and his country of her presence or hope that boredom claimed her and she moved on. It was clever enough to slant one side of her lips upward. At least her husband would not make life dull.

"The matter of nobility is easy enough. Your family already held a title and I suspect that I can suggest a promotion of sorts. A earl, marquess, or a duke, perhaps," she agreed. "The position would no longer be an elected one with that change, I imagine. Your kin," and here her lip curled with distaste at the thought of bearing children, "would rule, should you have them." A glance was cast about them. "Your holdings will have to increase as well, given the title awarded."

Her throat cleared and she smiled at him. "I may not have been particularly interested in wedding anyone, but I hold the sanctity of my word to an elevated standard. Should your plans to vanquish me fail during this long engagement you speak of," and here she smiled, "I will strive to be an equal force to yours. To put Myrken before myself."

"I will speak to the Baron on your behalf." The look on her features grew positively playful, then. "Oh, and please, let me be the one to tell Agnieszka Kaczmarek."
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:33 pm

His people had known him. They just hadn't known him quite as much after they became "his people." This was a delusion of necessity but one built on a foundation of fact. He had spent years with them, surveying their fields, going to their dances, spending time in dark and dank places when he was under the Drow curse, meeting with common workers through his connections with the Kaczmarek family, investigating this and that as Myrken's sole Inquisitor, lunching with Rhaena in happier times, and even just spending time at the various taverns in the city. He had arrived to the city with nothing.

He had also never wanted to be Governor. That was true. It had caused a distance between he and the people he cared about. The severing of his soul after the unfortunate business with Sarayn just made things worse, of course. Now he'd come out the other side of that after many long years, more alone than ever, and more distanced than he ever imagined he could be, so much so that his imagination simply could not handle it. Regardless, in Myrken, everyone gossiped. It was a luxury of being alive, for some, the only one they had.

She negotiated their terms and he had a few more. "I don't get that title until I marry you though. It's not tied to the Governorship until the marriage happens. That way while I would not be dependent on you for my nobility, it also means I can't just kill you tomorrow. It makes for a better story at court, both for me to be a long lost noble, and for it to be tied to the eventual wedding." It also meant if he could vanquish her and the throne in time, the nature of his job would not change. "They might have to use some sort of preternatural means to back up my claim." He was from a noble family in a far off land, after all, but there were elements of blood seeped in the belief of others. That's why Noble blood could be used for certain spells. They could likely prove it if they had to. "You can tell Agnie, but if she kills you over it, I'll be cross at both of you."

Then, almost as an after thought, just like her final term had been. "I'd like some element of courtship. That's the last thing they'd suspect, any of them, mine or yours, and it'll be effective in keeping them guessing."
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Kestrel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:51 pm

When he gave more conditions and mentioned killing her, there was another flash of a grin. She closed her eyes for just a moment and nodded once, head tilted as if she were some benevolent ruler granting him a favor. When her eyes opened again, they glittered with a spark of amusement. "You are welcome to try, regardless of the conditions, though I would be disappointed." Her eyes spoke otherwise, of course. "Take heart, Governor. We may just end up friends before we march to the gallows of matrimony," she drawled, lips quirking in private mirth.

Mention of Agnie killing her made her eyes roll, but she gave a short nod. "I will attempt to avoid death, then. For you. It wouldn't do to have you cross with me, now would it?"

She watched him as he spoke of courtship and the barest flicker of uncertainty slipped into her gaze. The jesting, the playful manner of before had been borne out of a sense of victory - even if he made her wait for a year to fully achieve it. She could be patient, despite his doubts. In the interim, she would have some measure of power being tied to their Governor. She could begin to make changes for the better and she would have something to hold over the Council, should they attempt to turn others against her. But talk of courtship made her unsettled.

Control was always something that she had imposed upon previous relationships, if you could call them such. Glenn Burnie was not a man that one could control, by any stretch of the word. He was Myrken, through and through - stubborn and with a heaping dose of madness. Besides, the marriage that she offered was one borne of convenience and not love or honest affection. They were little more than strangers. The marriage in her head left things mostly unchanged. The thought of being even slightly emotionally vulnerable with this man unnerved her.

"What elements would those be?," she asked, guessing that he would see her unease and press the issue.
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:05 am

She held the cards in this. It was a victory, perhaps, but far more than that, it was a stalling measure for both of them, and one that she didn't get him to agree to until she had not only lost her temper, but had shown some signs of who she was underneath. Had he intended to agree to her terms regardless? Or had it been what he had seen there that made him act as he did?

An offer of potential friendship had rolled right into courtship and she seemed to have not expect that at all. This was Myrken Wood, though, not the royal province. The nobility here was underdeveloped at best. Things like arranged marriage did not happen here, not often and not how she might be used to.

He laughed, and there was a bitter sort of pleasantness to it, the sort that she was likely more than familiar with due to her own reflection. "To be fair, my last, and truly only lasting relationship? The courtship was us learning each other's mind due to her mental gift. That means I'm not entirely sure. You don't seem the type to like to dance." A hand would be extended. One finger would be counted off, then the next. "Riding then, and swordsplay, in a public setting, plays? We have those sometimes. Carriage rides? I imagine it'll be mostly riding, unless you have some less-than-martial hobbies you haven't told me? I'll show you Myrken. Maybe in three or four months we'll celebrate by getting revenge on something I'd like to get revenge on? That sounds like your sort of thing." His hand had been full extended, fingers and all. "The best way to do this is that I suggest something and then you do, so that it seems like an equal exchange of interest." If it was one or the other leading the charge, then it would be far less beguiling to any observers.
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Kestrel » Sun Jul 06, 2014 2:10 am

The world had been a harsh place to both of them. Glenn had his curse, his loss. Egris had her failures, her misfortunes. They both were working with what they had, working against their bad luck. Salvation through sacrifice. In a different time, they might have been friends.

Perhaps they still would be. There was time. There was a year's worth of time.

His mention of dancing made her toss him an insulted look. "I was trained in all manner of things, Burnie," she mused. "I can dance, I just don't see a need to throw away energy on something so frivolous." He counted down activities that he suspected she would enjoy and her lips pursed. "Well, I will delight in perhaps surprising you, since you seem to have figured me out already," she drawled, a hint of anger behind her voice that was really quite unmistakable.

Once his hand was extended, all fingers counted off, she would attempt to take it in her own. Not to clutch or to hold, but to strike an accord with a handshake.

"I look forward to working with you, Governor Burnie. May our friendship be filled with opportunity and favor," she wished for some of the wine she'd left behind on his table.

"I will speak to the Baron tomorrow and his men should be gone by the next morning, I'd imagine. The eyes will still rest upon us, but at a farther distance."

She brushed a hand down her front to compose herself. "Now, if you'll excuse me, my men have orders to take your house should I not give them an appropriate signal. Good evening to you, Glenn," she could not help the daring loft of her brow upon revealing that she had an ace in the hole, should she have needed it.

When the door opened, there were shadows gathered upon his lawn with weapons in hand. Ready and waiting. They vanished towards the sound of horses with her sudden appearance. She stepped outside and paused upon the porch to glance back and offer him a coy smile, before following behind.
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Re: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:40 am

Perhaps they would be friends. He had a year, not long at all, but forever in Myrken Wood, in order to show her what the province had to offer, in order to indoctrinate her in its ways, in order to see her assimilated, in order to bring her to love its people and for them, perhaps, to love her. Or, of course, to come up with some other cunning plan to deal with things. There would be a cost to this, of course, but it was a palatable one since it was one that kept hope in the picture, one that gave them a chance, and one, that maybe, just maybe, would let him show her something better as well.

She shook his hand and he looked to it. "May our opportunities find a bit of friendship. I have a feeling it's the only way we're going to make it through this."

She looked back then and he smiled, with a little shrug. Those men of hers would surely have the chance to bruise his face before the year was up. He'd hate for such stout and loyal men to be disappointed. She'd probably have her chance as well. What would he say to that? That his Catch would eat her? He wasn't exactly his Catch anymore, though he might still eat her.

"Let's give them something for those eyes to watch, Egris. Let's give them something to remember and to wish that they could forget."

He would go back to that wine even if she didn't have the luxury.
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