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Pasion Pasiva

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With Raspberry gone, Lily had believed that she would be dismissed -- without much issue -- from the royal castle and household. There hardly seemed like there would be any need for her, given that her one reason for being kept around was now gone...without a trace. But to her surprise, not at all that pleasant, the Black Queen called her to her study and inquired as to what she intended to do with, well, essentially -- the rest of her life.

 

Being an agent of Tenebre, it behooved her to stay close to Gabriela and to the rest of the royal family. Father Darkness had expressed interest in the newborn prince, and she planned to make herself an indispensable part of his plans in order to assure her continued existence. So she answered the Black Queen earnestly and told her that she wasn’t at all sure what she or her son would do now that she was out of a job. It wasn’t that she didn’t have savings, or prospects. She had been the head governess to the crowned princess of Orisia. With a resume like that, there wasn’t much she couldn’t do in her line of work. However, she really tried her best to make it seem like what she truly wanted was to remain, and somehow, she sold the act.

 

Gabriela had proposed an interesting offer. Devoid of the sort of anguish any one might have expected from a mother who had recently lost a child, Gabriela was all business as she explained that she trusted Lily and would like for her to remain close but within a new role. Having spent so much time close to the little princess, and the rest of the royal family, Gabriela was certain that Lily had learned and retained a great deal about more official business, such as this particular task.

 

Lily had been charged with coming to Drakiss to interview potential regents for the city. She was already through half of her list of names, having drawn a line through each and every one of them after speaking to them for hours. No one seemed capable or even willing to take on the responsibility. Drakiss was an astoundingly under-performing territory within the kingdom of Orisia, and no one wanted to take on the blame should things not change for the better. The city had been all but forgotten by the royal family, who seemed so very content to live in the luxurious capital city. But there was one place that seemed to shine like a beacon of prosperity.

 

“The Pendulum: Potions and Pleasantries…” she read the name of the business, and tasted the sound of it on her tongue as if she were sampling wine. She imagined it to be a blend of reds, something pungent and sweet -- something idyllic and charming. “Has the proprietor arrived?” she asked, glancing up from the open folder on her desk that housed a rather thin report -- apparently, there wasn’t much to report.

 

There was a man standing nearby, he was fitted in a perfectly tailored suit. Thin and beautiful, rather than handsome, he glanced at Lily and shook his head. “Not yet, ma’am.”

 

“How long have we been waiting for now?” she asked before leaning back in her chair and rubbing the bridge of her nose. She reached for her tea and then recoiled with disgust when she realized it had gotten cold.

 

“Nearly an hour, ma’am.”

 

“Alright -- just ten more minutes.”

 

@Kalmuli

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The invitation had come out of the blue. A black envelope with the wax seal of the Black Queen herself kept it pressed close. This had been a few days ago though. Kalmuli had just gotten finished with a short vacation at her Weland estate, having come back from the South Sea training grounds to find it wedged between the two massive heavy oak doors. She pried it open, scanning over the contents and sighed. She had just gotten finished working as a Queen Regent in the Red Queen's region. Now it seemed that the Black Queen needed her steady hand as well.

Not that it was a terrible thing...the Black Queen's court was a little bit more put together. Much older. Having a long, established history would make city-sitting much easier and she slipped the black letter into her coat pocket. 

A few days after receiving the letter, she traveled back to Orisia by airship captained by her Flight Commander, Heigel. The Bobbin was a small personal craft with all the luxuries of a larger ship within it's magicked corridors. It made going about much more pleasant. Orisia was a day and a half's flight but anything could happen as you traveled closer to the sea. Niles in the crow's nest sounded a warning of an oncoming storm, making the crew land a little outside of Drakiss and continued the rest of the way on food back to Drakiss Keep. The muddy, gritty road made the walk miserable. When she finally passed the Pendulum, she was soaked to the bone and as her black boots touched the smooth stone of the courtyard of Drakiss Keep's manor, she finally got a break in the weather. 

A guard looked at her oddly.

"Are you...alright? Lady Kalmuli?"He questioned her. Kalmuli removed her dark glasses, shaking the water off of them and slid them back on. The guard who addressed her came often to the Pendulum for remedies and sometimes, her special treatments for legs and feet from standing too long. He was kind, often sending more clients her way.

"Please make them aware that Lady Kalmuli has arrived as per an invitation."She said, reaching into her coat and showing the water logged letter. "Sooner rather than later."

She sneezed roughly, spraying a bit of water on the guard's armor. He grimaced, but gestured for her to follow him to the doorstep, clacking his halberd against the stone. "Presenting Lady Kalmuli who comes by way of invitation from the Crown."He said, two more guards opening the front doors to allow her to pass. Her heavy mage robes dripped on the carpets and the maids quickly grabbed mops and towels to help dry her off. 

Kalmuli would wave them off. "Just let Lady Lily know that I am here and will be up shortly."She said, accepting only a towel and brushing the rainwater off of her with a sniff. "Making myself presentable. Awful weather we had on the way here." 

@Pasion Pasiva

Edited by Kalmuli

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Joffrey answered a knock at the door, and whispered a few words to someone on the other side before closing them once more. He walked like a cat, with all of the refine and elegance, but also with the sort of dramatic air of someone who knew they were very, very good looking. His hips swayed a little, his hands cupped as if he were intensely aware of what they were doing. Nothing about him seemed genuine, and yet everything about him was glorious to behold. He did not speak until he reached the side of Lily’s desk, and even then, he bent over and close to her in order to speak softly and not raise his voice. It was almost as if he knew that there was a terrible headache brewing within the woman’s head, and he wanted to do everything in his power to keep that storm at bay.

 

“The Lady Kalmuli has arrived -- she seems to have had a difficult time.”

 

“How do you mean?” Lily asked, glancing up from a deep frown. She was leaning back in her chair, one knee thrown over the other, and her hands set and clutching upon the wide armrests. She looked perturbed, and annoyed, but in a sharp and ugly sort of way. Although she was not an ugly woman, she was touched with age and carried about her a strange bitterness that no one could begin to understand.

 

“The weather, ma’am -- she seems to have hurried to make the meeting on time.”

 

“The weather?”

 

“Yes, ma’am -- it’s raining and storming outside.”

 

Lily glanced out the window, the very same window she had been looking out of for nearly two hours now, and with a degree of alarm she did not dare to show Joffrey, she marveled at the violent rainstorm that shook the world beyond. There was a break of sunlight here and there, a strange and frightening view from so high above the city. She could even see the beginning formations of a rainbow.

 

“Please provide the Lady with everything and anything she may need to refresh herself, and have a new pot of tea and coffee brought in. I have no idea which she would prefer, so we will have both.”

 

“Very good, ma’am.”

 

Joffrey turned and walked out of the study.




 

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Kalmuli would have been fine meeting as it was though the generous offering of a change to freshen up a bit was well needed. Considering that she was muddy, soaked and not exactly looking ripe for a promotion...needless to say, she took the offer of a hot bath and a change of clothes until her own could be washed and dried for going back to her shop. Kalmuli was taken off to a guest room at the manor, given a chance to bathe and offered a simple but comfortable gown with a wrap to keep her warm.

The sniffs had gone away but she was still a little rosy cheeked. 

A thin, waifish woman lead her down the halls to the office she was supposed to meet Lily in. She brushed a bit of her hair that had curled with the bath. Outside the door, she wrapped herself up a bit more in the shawl. The maid would knock to announce her presence. "Lady Kalmuli begs your pardon, Mistress. She's come for your appointment."She announced before opening the door, Kalmuli passing through.

Politely, the elf would dip her head and rise again. Her eyes glanced about the room momentarily until she noted the hot pot of tea and another of coffee sitting on a table closest to some comfortable seating. Kalmuli would passively smile. "My apologies for being so...hindered in getting here. My ship captain and myself were aware of the storm...just predicting it's timing it's something best left to the Gods."She said, remaining standing and adjusting the shawl. 

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Generous with the time allotted, Lily also left the suddenly stuffy and suffocating study, which was in actuality a rather large and comfortable space. Maybe it was the walls and walls of old books, which she swore she could still smell dust from, or maybe it was the fact that she knew this castle had not had royal stewards living within its walls for more than a year now. There was something that tasted abandoned about this place, and it caused Lily to feel a mounting anxiety that she would rather not  explore. When it came to a sense of being left behind, Lily found herself unable to cope with the thought. It was good that Joseph was here, her nearly thirteen year old son, and it was a great comfort that she could go and take an hour to visit with him. Given the poor weather, he was stuck inside working on his lessons. Ever since she had been elevated in her station by the Black Queen, her son had begun to reap the rewards as well. And, there was a sense in her that Gabriela needed someone new to focus her maternal instincts on now that Raspberry was gone.

 

Tragic little Raspberry, thought Lily, as she sat on a sofa with Joseph leaning into her. She smoothed back his hair, and kissed his forehead.

 

“I have to go back,” she explained, though she was loathed to leave him once more -- even just for a while, even if she was just a few feet away. Dying, and the horrible, terrible, and ugly reality that followed in its wake, had truly helped her appreciate the precious little time they had as living beings. She squeezed her son again. “You finish your lessons, and when the weather lets up -- we’ll go riding.”

 

“Alright, mamma,” said the young boy, as he sat up and walked back across the room to the table where his tutor awaited. They were working on geometry.

 

Lily was called back just then and was just getting settled back behind her own desk when the door open to allow both the waifish woman and the freshly bathed Lady Kalmuli to pass through. Just as soon as she had sat down, Lily stood back up and extended her hand to the seemingly polite little elf who made her way across the room to the table and chairs.

 

“Thank you  so much for finding the time to meet with me, Lady Kalmuli -- and under such dire constraints with your traveling as well as the weather. Let me just say, your devotion to keeping this appointment makes me most certain that I was right in selecting you for this position. I won’t beat around the bush,” Lily paused, only long enough to motion to the coffee and the tea as if to ask, which would you like, and upon a selection being made, the servant woman, who had still lingering nearby, jumped to action to pour a cup of the selected beverage. “The city of Drakiss should be one of Orisia’s richest territories, and yet it is not. You’re a smart woman, and I know I don’t have to point out the lack of a royal presence within not just this city, but most cities across the island. Originally, when the DuGrace family came into power, the cities were divided among the Noble Seven, the leaders of the Queen’s armed forces, but the Order of the Black Heart had since disbanded and given all the troubles, she simply never got around to appointing new leadership. It has been hard, but the cities have carried on and our queen has shouldered much of the burden. You own and operate one of the most successful businesses in the city, I hope you can see how it was no hard leap to go from thinking about potential candidates for regency to having your name come on top of all possible choices.”

 

She stopped there, and set to work on fixing her own tea, which had been poured for her as well. One cube of sugar and a dash of milk. She stirred her cup of fine china with a small golden spoon, and sat back, crossing her legs. For the time being she didn’t make direct eye contact with the lady, wanting to give  her a fair moment to take the full measure of what was being offered. But, after a minute or so, she did seek out Kalmuli’s face again.

 

“What do you think of going from Lady to Baroness? Yes, the promotion would come with a change of title, a substantial paycheck, and a noble denomination within the Orisian Monarchy.”

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Kalmuli's hand was bath warm, shaking Lily's with a gentle but professional handshake. Gliding over to one of the sofas, she  wrapped the shawl about her a bit more around her shoulders and waited for her tea to be served before she picked it up by the saucer, stirring in a bit of sugar. It was a tea popular in the area that she found to be soothing and often, used the tea scraps in bath treatments for sunburns that suffered frequently in warm climates. "A fate weaver is never late...but arrives just at the right times it seems."She commented, sipping the warm brew as she listened to Lily further.

Another placement.

Another promotion.

This time, it was in the Black Queen's court. Her hand slowly lowered her tea back to the saucer, placing it on the coffee table between them. Sitting back, she contemplated the offer. It seemed to come at a good time. Not long ago, she had finished her rounds under the Red Queen's court. "I have noticed a lack of government presence here in Drakiss...granted, it's let me do some work here without worrying about too much competition or fuss."She said, bringing a hand to her chin as she ran the possibilities over in her head. Being upgraded to a Baroness would give her more notoriety in the higher echelons of society. Which meant more opportunities to branch her business out.

And a wealthier clientele. 

Many wouldn't want to go to a shop that didn't at least have a positive reputation from other country leaders. 

Kalmuli looked to Lily herself. She was a young woman...but knowing a little about the Black Queen's court, she could be much older. Why the Black Queen herself didn't come to make the suggestion, she didn't know but whispers spoke of a tragedy. Something perhaps, her skills would be useful for. The elf removed her hand from her chin. "Lady to Baroness...it is a tempting offer."She finally spoke up. "I have been meaning to branch out new locations...should I take this promotion, I'd like to open a few more shops within the Black Queen's territory. If I can get the go-ahead on that without much paperwork, I'll happily take the position here in Drakiss."

Kalmuli crossed her legs under her gown, nestling into the warm, heavy shawl. "You've caught me at an excellent time too...I've just finished my tour of duty as Queen Regent under the Red Queen's court and my vacation from the social life. Very fortunate indeed..."She chuckled. "So tell me why you wouldn't want this position for yourself?"

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It was a small pleasure to watch the workings of another’s mind, more so if that other person happened, at least to appear, to be bright. And so Lily sat there, her legs crossed, and her tea cup in her lap, with a pleasant dusting of a smile upon her lips and a serene expression across the length of her forehead, stretching from one elegant brow to the other. Pastel blue eyes watched with a mixture of curiosity, and unfortunately, waning interest, as Kalmuli traced the possibilities of accepting the position aloud, to the empty space between them.

 

Interesting as all of this was, Lily’s heart was in the rooms beyond this beautiful study. Her mind hardly felt at home trapped within the walls of old books, oiled leather seats, and finely polished wooden furnishings. It was too stuffy, and far too rich for her simple country blood. What  made her newly resuscitated heart beat and thump was the precious soul that sat busy at a desk, working dutifully on his homework. She had come back from death for him, her sweet boy, and now it was such a dull chore to have to pretend to be invested in anything else.

 

“...I’d like to open a few more shops within the Black Queen’s territory. If I can get the go-ahead on that without much paperwork, I’ll happily take the position here in Darkiss.”

 

Lily’s half smile grew, along with a dangerous edge that seemed nearly playful.

 

“With direct approval from the queen, I am sure that we can cut through most of the  red tape that would otherwise have hindered you. But, as I am sure you can guess -- there is some semblance of a moral philosophy that the Black Queen champions, and it would not do for one of her Governors to be dabbling in unsavory business. So if the type of shops we’re talking about run hand in hand with the black-market, it may be best to leave your new found title and name off of the welcome sign.”

 

She wondered at what Kalmuli would think of this. Lily had no intention of telling Gabriela about  any illegal dealings that the elf might want to dabble in. She knew the Black Queen well enough to guess at the answer to such a proposition. But Lily was not the Black Queen, and she was as curious as she was devious -- so, if it was illegal dealings that Kalmuli wanted to establish, she would simply tell the elf that the Black Queen had given her blessings after a resonable wait, of course.

 

“You’ve caught me at an excellent time too… I’ve just finished my tour of duty as Queen Regent under the Red Queen’s court and my vacation from the social life. Very fortunate indeed…”

 

“That is quite fortuitous for us, considering the amount of work that will be expected of you. It gladdens my heart to know you are well rested and in a position to roll up your sleeves.”

 

Lily was somewhat curious about this Red Queen -- sounded like a cheap knock off of the Black Queen's title, but this was neither the time or place to ask, especially since the equally curious elf had just turned the tables on her.

 

“So tell me why you wouldn’t want this position for yourself?”

 

“Because of the sheer amount of work, because of the distance from the capital -- and therefore, from your main source of support in this particular endeavor, because of the expectations that will be placed upon you to make this city profitable once again, and not just that, but to reawaken this sleeping giant. Once upon a time, Drakiss was a military stronghold, where a majority of soldiers, guards, and knights were trained and housed. But beyond all of that, my dear Baroness,” she smiled impishly and took another sip of her tea, “the truth is that I prefer my position as an adviser to the queen. I am simply better suited for working behind the throne rather than upon it. You have to have the right temperament for politics. I am neither cruel nor kind enough. What about you? What got you into this line of work?”

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Kalmuli chuckled, leaning down to set her tea cup down on the saucer on the table after having warmed herself with a few sips as Lily spoke.  Her work was a lot more tame than illegal. She smiled and reached up to tuck a bit of her white fluffy hair away from her cheek and behind her ear. "I deal primarily in healing and fortune telling. Occasionally handcrafted magic items too."She shrugged. "Though it's mostly getting through purchasing land or a building to renovate into my healing workshop  I'm quite impatient when I want something so getting the property to grow sooner rather than later is better."

More or less, she wanted to make sure any competing businesses wouldn't get the upper hand. Her hand came to her chin as she leaned forward, looking to Lily as she described the reason for not wanting the territory for herself.  Considering that it was so far out, it made a good test location for her shop and being outside of the Capital region, there was an ample need for healers, magic items and other services.  "Sounds like being an adviser is a much more comfortable life style."She noted, easing back. "I don't blame you. I would probably want to be a little closer to home than out here in the boonies...however the proximity to the beach shore is actually very convenient. My apprentices actually enjoy the area."

Kalmuli tilted her head. She'd have to meet the Black Queen eventually, maybe even at her ascension to the head of Drakiss. She was aware of the whispers about her. The interludes between the Devil and the Vampire. She sighed mentally.  "I attracted positive attention....A notable fortress in the Red Queen's territory came under attack and since some figureheads had been captured, it left it undefended. I gathered my students and we put out the fires, healed the sick, buried the dead...cleaned up a lot of debris."She said, listing off some of the good deeds performed those days. Granted, it was a gruesome scene....but one that she was all too familiar with.  "A Regent of the Queen approached me during a precarious time and extended the opportunity to act as a stand in Queen myself. So I did and earned the title 'Lady'. I guess my existence has spread since....I intended to stay under the radar when I first arrived in Valucre though ."

She glanced off to the side, lost in though. When she arrived, it had been chasing after an interest of hers. A Librarian clad in purple and silver. She hadn't seen him since and decided to stick around for a change of pace. "Fates have a funny way of turning things around on you. Either way, I'm here. In Drakiss. Ready to sit and bring it back to its glory or at least, into a more inviting space for businesses and travelers."She shrugged. "Though, if the Black Queen has specific requests for the fort, I'll hear them and adjust from there."

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There was a notable look of disappointment upon Lily’s pretty face when Kalmuli confessed that her dealings would not be of the illegal variety. Even so, the Black Queen’s representative, quickly recovered herself before too much was given away. Her dispirited expression shifted, almost seamlessly, into that same warm and serene look that she had been wearing when the elf had first stepped through the doors of the study.

 

“Your mind is a marvel, Baroness -- a true testament to your extensive experience. I can already tell you will be a very valuable asset to Orisia. And, as I am sure you will be expecting, a meeting with the Black Queen will be forthcoming. There have been some recent changes -- as I am sure you’ve heard, and I am afraid she will not be available to visit until the day of your official ascension,” Lily frowned at this and leaned forward in her chair, her arms crossing and settling on her lap. She drew closer to the elf, in a fashion that denoted a sort of familiarity that really did not exist between the women. “That probably will not be for at least a month. Preparations have to be made as I am sure the Queen will want to take the opportunity to host an official event here in the city as a way to jumpstart your career. However, should the conditions be favorable and acceptable to you, once everything is figured out -- you will be welcome to move into Kingshill Castle and make it your official residence.”

 

A more genuine smile spread across Lily’s thin, rose-colored lips. Forgetting her duty, her personal vendetta against the queen, and just about everything that didn’t actually matter -- Lily found herself again somewhat enchanted by the creature sitting before her. She was humanoid but with a dusting of magic about her that made her unique. Maybe it was the white, feather-bounce hair, or the sort of modest way in which she carried herself -- whatever the case -- Lily found herself inexplicably drawn to the woman.

 

“I will stay here, for a week or two, in order to oversee the move and the exchange of power. While everyone will know that you are the new governess of the city, we will not reveal your new title until the night of your ascension. In the meantime, if there is anything I can do to help during this transitional time, please do not hesitate to call upon me.”

 

Lily reached out, her pale hand once more offered to the elf.

 

“It has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Baroness Kalmuli.”

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A little smirk crossed Kalmuli's lips. Well...it wasn't a hundred percent legal her work.. What she did under the table in an upstairs room was something entirely questionable.  "Thank you. That's a tame compliment to what I've received before."She smiled, reaching for her tea to finish off the last dredges before it got cold.   Kalmuli felt a warmth, looking over to Lily and seeing that she had gotten a little bit closer.  A welcome gesture but the elf continued to sip her tea until it was gone, setting the empty tea cup down again. 

"That's fine...It gives me time to make arrangements with my staff regarding the transition."She noted. Kalmuli would have to talk to her teachers and other staff members who ran the Pendulums and her schools to stand as acting leader.  Not a hard thing since her graduated students were always looking for new jobs.  "It has been a long time since I've been to a party...not to mention, one that's held in my honor for a promotion. I look forward to meeting the Black Queen in person."

Kalmuli  would shift, extending her hand to shake Lily's to solidify their deal this day.  "The pleasure is all mine, Adviser Lily. I look forward to meeting you again when I can officially take the title 'Baroness'."She chuckled. 

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