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Elena Morgayne
Spicy as a Domani Dish
Fri Dec 2, 2005 09:30 (XFF:, unknown)

Since their staged rendezvous in the gardens at Taravin’s, Ronan was soon inundated with a greater amount of invitation from some of the more powerful houses in Andor; if she’d known that linking herself like that to Kyran so openly, Ronan would have taken advantage of it sooner. Three more invitations this afternoon from what she’d gotten yesterday, two of them warmly penned invites by the lord and lady themselves. Burn Kyran for being so bloody popular and making her dependent on that. But that wasn’t what was chafing her, she knew that it had nothing to do with Kyran and his pretty title that wasn’t really a cover or the fact that she was suddenly very popular and trendy among the other nobles of Andor thanks to that kiss.

Burn her, but she was feeling confined and—well—flaming useless! It was the dresses and the parties and the conversations she had on a daily basis, it was knowing that she was living a completely frivolous life and every week she’d get a letter from Aunt Maeria and be told what to do—sit tight, listen to a conversation, go kill someone, and the other nine days of the week she—did—nothing. This sort of useless life was starting to ache at her bones, to know that if she got up three hours after dawn, no one would know or care. If she didn’t channel her tea hot, then someone else would heat it for her. If she didn’t kill someone on orders of the Black Tower for a full year, they’d be completely fine with that, just so long as she was in place. And so in the interim, she felt completely useless—the frivolous wealthy widow that she portrayed, that didn’t have to work for anything and just enjoyed having money to roll in.

“Are you well, Elena? Did the punch disagree with you?” Burn her, it was statements like that. Punch. She was drinking punch. Fruit and water and sugar because it was the polite thing to do. And little pieces of food that was spread out along a long table that would never be eaten by two hundred people and would either be thrown out. But Roina’s expression was concerned and she placed a hand on Ronan’s arm. “You look like you just ate one of those yellow things called lemons.”

Despite herself, Ronan laughed. “You don’t eat them plain, Roina. They’re generally sweetened up like this punch here with water and some sugar.” Light, for how sour she was feeling, it felt good to laugh. Missing the sounds of the Black Tower, of having purpose every day had ingrained itself in her bones and it was hard to live idly, no matter for what cause. “I’m fine, I was just thinking about this whole unfortunate mess with people find out about Lord Kyran and I. We thought we were being careful.”

Roina’s own return laugh was like water cascading on glass, “Elena, I thought you were wise in the ways of gossip. Nothing can remain quiet for long, especially after that scene you two had two weeks ago.” She shook her head and smiled in a way that reminded Ronan of a grin. “I don’t suppose that was staged for our benefit was it? To make us think nothing was going on and in the meantime you were swapping those kisses?”

Ronan rolled her eyes with genuine emotion. “No, definitely not. But the man has charm and he laid it on thick with that apology.” She smiled wickedly. “And that title doesn’t hurt his looks any either. I would leave the lamp on from time to time.” Rather than gasp, it seemed the thing to shock one another with comments like that, and so Roina laughed again, throwing her head back and snaring a few glances her way. She was married but he went his own way and she went hers and they were both just very careful about bastard children.

Threading her arm through Ronan’s, Roina led her through a crowded hallway to a larger room beyond where strains of music played on one end and a gleeman performing some recital on the other. She knew that Kyran wasn’t here tonight, which for some reason suited her fine; she wanted to work through the crowds alone and see if she couldn’t learn to pick up information on her own. Being around him made her feel stupid, like she couldn’t hear what was important and what was gossip. Or was it that all gossip could be important? As they walked, Roina shared little tidbits about the men and women who had gathered for the party. This lord was having an affair with this widow, that new bride found out she was with child and was rumored to have sent for a Wisdom to rid her of the baby, the man holding the party tonight was actually in heavy debt to a Saldaean due to some bad investments which ended up leading to his blackmail.

“Blackmail?” Ronan asked the question softly despite her surprise. “Who’s blackmailing him, and why?”

Roina shrugged her slender shoulders as if to say “Who cares, it’s not me.”, but at Ronan’s intense curiosity (and not for the first time did she wish to have a Talent for Compulsion), the woman sighed, “I don’t know. I’ve heard speculation among the very few who knew and he doesn’t say much to me.”

Ronan’s brows lifted, “Why would he say something to you?”

The woman’s smile was smug as she looked at Ronan. “We’re occasionally lovers, Elena. Even in such a position that he’s in, there are certain—skills that he has. As I’m sure your Lord Kyran possesses.” Ronan restrained herself from a weary sigh; was getting information really this difficult? Having to deal with the nonsense to get to the meat of the matter? Roina shook her head, golden curls dancing over her shoulders. “Anyway, I don’t know any of the details, only that he’s fairly angry. After losing money in furs in Saldaea over stretch when summer lasted forever, and now with this blackmail. He’s not talking to anyone, but words are getting whispered anyway.”

Ronan looked around, “Call me silly, Roina, but when I want to spend money I have to have money. If he’s broke, how is he affording this?”

Roina’s laugh cascaded again in amusement and she shook her head. “It’s sometimes far easier and also far more complicated than just being broke. He’s Lord Bicair. If he died tomorrow, it would be as poor as a pauper, but he’d have his title and lands, and his debts will be wiped clean, not even his family would be obligated to them.”

“That—“ is hardly fair, she wanted to say and changed it, “Makes me want to find an Andoran lord and marry him. Spend more money than you have and not have to worry about it. Aren’t there any consequences for him? What would ever make him stop spending and repay his debts though? If he owed me money that would be taking food from my mouth and coin from my purse.”

Roina seemed nearly scandalized by the thought of Ronan feeling the lord should pay and her laugh was nervous. “Well you have the right to petition the Queen and she could rule that he’d have to pay you, but—“ her head shook in true disbelief that anyone would make a lord do anything. That he’d be responsible for the amounts he spent versus what he earned through his annual allowance and income of whatever his estates produced. “Why would you do that?”

Ronan gave her a very dry smile and moved forward, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe so I wouldn’t go into debt because a lord couldn’t learn to manage his money properly.” She heard the strangled sound behind her as her arm slipped free of Roina’s and sauntered through the crowd. After a few long moments, the woman caught back up to her; evidently her association with Kyran was strong enough that a Lady of a minor noble House would scramble after her in a crush. As the woman sidled up to her again, the music came winding down and there was merely the loud din of voices talking in tones loud enough to hear but not enough to be overheard. Her eyes caught the Lord in question and she saw the other two men he was speaking to. “Who are they?” Her nod toward Lord Bicair indicated what she meant.

Roina squinted and then drew back in surprise. “Interesting. The younger one is Lord Taravin’s older sons and the older man is some distant uncle to Lady Anshar.”

Ronan looked over once more with only minute understanding. Both names were the names of relatively powerful Houses in Andor, even if the men in question were considered distant relations to the ruling noble of the House. “Why is that significant?”

“Well, from what Bicair’s told me, Elena, Duby Anshar considered himself in a feud with him and Taravin had sided with Anshar. But they’re all standing there like ducks in a row. I may have to visit his bed again sometime to find out what the codger’s up to.” Ronan smiled; once more she didn’t know if what she was hearing was significant, but something told her she was in the right place at the right time. If Roina could get Bicair into bed and get him talking, maybe she could figure out why he was being blackmailed and use that information. Light knew she didn’t know how she’d used it or even why, but something like that just felt significant. If Kyran had heard, he’d probably rattle off something about how this Lord got involved in this Lord’s deals and then caught wind of this and that until her mind felt twisted into something like a blacksmith’s puzzle and she felt stupid for not seeing what he was putting right in front of her.

Smiling toward Roina, she touched her glass to the other woman’s, “If you find out, do share. Gossip gets so boring around here and this sounds as spicy as a Domani dish.”

She bent her head over the paper and formed the words carefully; her hand had never been flowing and elegant as many women’s, but as she’d learned her letters over the past two years, her penmanship had also improved greatly.

There are always interesting people to see and talk to at the parties that I go to. Today Lord Bicair was sparring with a dark man but we didn’t know who he was but my good friend Lady Roina said that she’d like to give the good Lord a kiss and maybe see if he’d tell…

Writing in cipher and code always seemed to take three times as long to get out than if she’d just come out and say “Lord Bicair’s being blackmailed by an unknown man and Lady Roina’s going to seduce it out of him”. But she had to keep up appearance of being a dutiful niece to her Aunt Maeria, and she knew that if anything of importance needed to be sent immediately, she could write it and Ward it and have it sent out by the first Black Tower loyal aviary. Tonight was no great importance and she hoped by next week’s letter she might hear back from the Tower on whether or not to pursue this small tidbit. It seemed a very small thing, after all, but she knew that the smallest tidbit could make the largest ripples sometimes.

As the seal was set on the letter and she handed it to the footman, Ronan frowned. Kyran hadn’t been at a single function she’d gone to the night before and it was nearly noon by now; usually he made some appearance or sent her some indication of what was going on with him and it’d been nearly two days since the last time she’d spoken with him. Since that night they’d kissed and sealed their “involvement” with one another. With a frown, she rose and rang for one of the servants. “Have my maid set out the riding dress, Paol.” Well, visiting him at his manor wouldn’t be too much after what was now circulating with them. She would just call on him and see where he’d gone and what he was up to. He could have just been busy, but something in the stomach was telling her that his disappearance wasn’t innocent or planned and once she was at his manor, she’d be able to tell.

  • Slipping into characterElena Morgayne, Wed Nov 30 12:40
    After sneaking into her manor and scaring her half out of her wits, Ronan sat opposite of Kyran, hot cup of tea cradled in her hands to steal as much warmth as she could. She felt put out with him... more
    • Spicy as a Domani Dish — Elena Morgayne, Fri Dec 2 09:30
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          “Well of course you would be worried about him, dear! After the history you two have, I’d be surprised if you didn’t!” Roina’s smile was knowing and smug at the same time, but at this point, Ronan... more
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