Emery Sparrow Fitzroy
( reserved | intense | moody | prickly | cautious | sharp | unforgiving | perceptive )[gender] M[age] 21[physical aspects]
( fair skin • straight light brown hair • very dark brown eyes • thin • 6'0" )meet Emery Sparrow Fitzroy, young lord of Meritain...The son of a courtesan named Ailey Sparrow, illegitimately fathered by King Martel of House Mere, Emery has been cursed since birth to a lifetime of never belonging anywhere. He has stood always between two wildly different worlds--that of his mother and the one of his father. Perhaps it is no surprise then that he has turned out the way he did.When Emery's mother was sixteen, King Martel paid her virgin price and took her as his mistress. Ailey was only a girl of seventeen and already legendary as a courtesan for her wit and charm when she gave birth to Emery, the king's firstborn. Her young age didn't stop her from loving her son fiercely from that instant. Desperate to protect him but with nowhere to go, she had no choice but to raise him in the Palace of Mere, where he was surrounded on all sides by danger. Watchful eyes tracked his every move. He was a bastard, yes, but he was the king's bastard and his eldest son, someone with royal blood and perhaps even a claim to the throne. Though Emery and his younger half-brother, the Crown Prince Jasper, once were incredibly close, their fast friendship as children soon twisted into something hard and almost malevolent as they grew older. Perhaps it was Emery's stepmother, the powerful Queen Celine, who made it so, with her corrosive hatred for Emery and her deep fear that the king would pass over Jasper and make Emery his heir. Or perhaps it was the king himself, who pitted his sons against each other constantly. Or perhaps even Ailey, who made sure to drill it into her son's head that no one at court could ever be trusted. His mother taught him other things as well: how to charm people and how to con them, how to lie often and well, how to play the treacherous game of court life.In any case, Emery grew from a serious but sweet child into a guarded, watchful young man with a talent for words, an intensity that people (especially women) found hard to resist, and only one wish: to buy his mother's freedom from his father. The king knew this well, however, and used it as leverage to manipulate him, keeping the gift of Ailey's freedom close but just out of reach, no matter what Emery did. The king held all the cards and there was nothing Emery could do about it--until that fateful day when King Martel was found murdered in his bed. Assassinated in the dead of night while his wife slept beside him.They never did find the assassin.Jasper ascended to the throne, and suddenly Emery's position was more tenuous than ever. Reluctant to do as Meritainian tradition and his mother demanded and actually kill his illegitimate brother, but scared Emery might develop notions for the crown, Jasper kept Emery close at his side, a brother in name but a near-prisoner in reality. Jasper's mother and advisors continued to warn him of the danger of letting an illegitimate brother live, especially an elder brother, but for the time being it seemed Emery would be allowed to live. Most importantly, his mother was free of the king.And then there came Mirren Fayde, a young highborn lady at court. They were young and they fell in love; Emery was nineteen, Mirren a year younger. But as so often happens with young love, things went terribly wrong. A year later she was married to Jasper.A few months later she was dead....and remember, in this palace blood is currency and here liars reign.
[notables]• he bears the name Fitzroy that marks him as the illegitimate son of the late King Martel and the elder half-brother to the new King Jasper• his mother, Ailey Sparrow, is perhaps the only person in the world he truly loves• he remains currently in the Royal Palace of Mere, unofficially a prisoner of his brother, watched and guarded closely• diluted magic runs in his veins from his mother's side, and though he does not know it he has the oh-so-subtle power of suggestion; this, combined with their unusual beauty, makes them difficult to resist• there is a thin slanting scar just above his left eye down to the ridge of his cheekbone, a knife wound that only narrowly failed to blind him; he refuses to give any explanation and it remains a point of wild curiosity at court
Emery Sparrow Fitzroy
meet Emery Sparrow Fitzroy, young lord of Meritain...
...and remember, in this palace blood is currency and here liars reign.
Ｐｒｉｎｃｅｓｓ Ｒｏｓａｌｉｎｄ Ｈａｌｅ19 ~ Hєtєяσѕєχυαℓ ~ Ƥяιηcєѕѕ σƒ Aвєя∂єєη||straight black hair||gray eyes||slender||5'5||~ ναηє ~ мαtєяιαℓιѕтιc ~ cυηηιηg ~ cυяισυѕ ~ cσℓ∂ ~As her mother died when she was very young, Rosalind has only ever known the maternal love that her nursemaid provided. Her father, Tiberius Viceroy Hale, was a king through-and-through, the position of father coming second to his throne. Rosalind has never been overly close to her father, and perhaps it is the lack of parental attachment that has made her into the colder individual she is today. The Hale’s are an ancient family that believe in ruling with an iron fist, that a ruler must be made of ice…so Rosalind grew up in a cold house. She grew used to being alone, and would have spent the entirety of her childhood on her own if it wasn’t for her brother, Jurion, who was but two years older than her. As all children do, they got into all sorts of mischief about the castle. But whenever they played their little games, Jurion was always the one who would give them up, who would apologize and right any wrongs, while Rosalind… would always be willing to take things a little too far. There was a cruelness in her, a sort of quiet darkness in her mind since the day she was born, the castle staff said. But she was young and quiet and still could be spared, so long as they kept her in light’s path, they were sure. When her father passed away a year ago, he left his kingdom in great turmoil. Jurion was shoved onto the throne before he could even think to refuse it, and he was handed all the debt of the nation. Because of the lavishness of King Tiberius, the small sea-faring kingdom was in a great amount of debt and though the kingdom had been in bad shape for years, Arlin was only beginning to feel the repercussions of her father’s actions. Jurion, with his too-kind heart, does whatever he can to help his kingdom, makes deals with foreign delegates and bars the castle from any sort of extraneous celebration. But Rosalind knows it is not enough… And most of all, she does not think her brother fit for the throne. He is too kind, too passive. He does not have enough ice in his veins to wear a crown. The thought has brewed in her mind since her brother’s coronation, but all Rosalind can do is try to console him the best she can. He listens to her, afterall… And it would be unfair to say she didn’t love her brother. Part of her, whatever part is capable of the emotion, cares for him. But at the same time, she envies that he has power, that he doesn’t know what to do with it when she always does. And though Rosalind is at times cruel without meaning to be, it cannot be said that she is not dutiful. A Hale always does what is necessary, afterall…As she has entered the proper marital age range, Rosalind has been trying to convince her brother to accept a proposal from a neighboring, wealthier kingdom. Her brother, of course, is hesitant to accept any proposal without being sure he is securing a good, happy future. Rosalind, however, has not told her brother the other reason why she is so eager to leave Aberdeen; that she has been seeing the ghost of their father. At first, his spirit would come to her only in dreams, pestering her about this and that… But now he is there in the waking hours, looking as real as if he were made of flesh and blood. Rosalind has come to terms with his spirit after month’s of suffering at it’s hands. Sometimes she has normal conversations with him. Sometimes she just ignores him entirely… But, sure she is going mad, Rosalind knows she needs to leave her home behind and try to bury her past once and for all."Ɓєωαяє tнє мαηƳσυ tнιηк уσυ кησω."
The ballroom was dizzying, spinning in reds and golds and blues until all the colors blurred together. Rosalind’s dress was off-white -- an intentional decision to attract more suitors. White was a maiden’s color, something that spoke of virtue and of weddings. It was her dressmaker’s idea, thinking that wearing this color would put the suggestion into the minds of men. And though her brother had seemed hesitant about it, as he was about all things, Rosalind hadn’t even though of protest. She rarely protested anything, rarely spoke these days at all. Rosalind had hurried outside, nearly tripping over her pale skirts as she made her way through the crowded ballroom to the courtyard beyond. She felt as though she were going to faint, and how embarrassing it would be if she fainted in the middle of the dance floor! Luckily, she cleared the room and was greeted with wind upon her cheeks.It was humid in Euregia, as the kingdom was surrounded by the Summer Seas. At least there was no sun shining down upon her fair skin in the middle of the night… With a sigh, Rosalind stumbled over to a stone bench, seating herself among the roses. Her namesake. She gripped onto the edge of the bench so tightly that her knuckles turned white, closing her eyes against the pain in her head. Pounding, pounding, pounding! “Little Rose, why are you crying?”“Father, I - I fell, and - ““Do not cry, Little Rose. A queen who cries is a queen who bleeds.”“My lady, are you alright? You look pale.” Rosalind blinked, finding the worried expression of her handmaiden before her. Enna was a year or so younger than her, and spoke far too often. But she cared for Rosalind, and Rosalind appreciated her for the most part. When the princess did not answer the servant’s inquiry, the young girl pressed on, giving her a conspirator’s smile. “Are you nervous, mistress? I hope it isn’t too bold of me to say, but I hear King Jasper is quite charming -- “Rosalind blinked, feeling a knot tighten in her chest. “That is too bold of you.” And so they continued on in silence, the only sound being the steady rhythm of carriage wheels turning over the Earth. They had been traveling for a week now, but the driver had informed her that she had only a few more moments to wait before she arrived at her betrothed’s home. Her betrothed… The King of Meritain. Enna was right about him -- he was charming. Rosalind’s stomach got all tied up just thinking of their encounter, or maybe her present nerves were more attached to her surroundings, to the gray sky outside and the off-key chirps of the birds in the tree. The way they sang reminded her of church bells. No, not wedding bells…. Funeral bells. Low and humming and inevitable. Rosalind closed her eyes, resting her head against the carriage door as sunlight flittered in through the canopy of branches overhead, breaking through her window and dancing across her features like white fire. Everything here seemed gray or white-washed, as though all color had been leeched from the land. And it was chilly here, the cold air seeping through the dark wood of the carriage and into her bones, making her mode of transportation feel more like a sepulcher. “Hello? Who’s there?” She had called out when she heard delicate footsteps against the marble steps leading into the courtyard. Rosalind squinted at the form who was half-concealed in shadow. A man in a dark suit and a dark mask to fit the ball’s theme. But even in the darkness, Rosalind could see his hair was near white, like a halo crowning his head. She was reminded of the tapestries that hung in the Palace of Aberdeen, depicting the gods of the old world walking among mortals, dispatching divine justice where they saw fit. And then there was the Angel of Death, who had been defeated by the other gods and goddesses, cut up into thousands of pieces. And a piece of him dwells inside every man and woman, growing as they age until it swallows them whole. Dasmus, The patron god of her household. “I - I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude on your privacy, my lady. The ballroom is just a bit crowded for my liking.” “My lady, we have arrived.” Rosalind again blinked in surprise. The carriage door had been opened, revealing the coachmen who now held out a gloved hand to help her descend. Silent and distant as always, Rosalind allowed him to assist her down, holding her heavy, dark skirts with her free hand. And she caught her breath as she beheld the castle.White stones made up the giant structure, looking like the ivory that dwelled beneath the skin. It towered over the thick, surrounding forests, rising upwards into the gray morning sky. Towers of black stone rose up in the corners, spiraling up, up, up…“Princess Rosalind?” Sir Terryn, the captain of her personal guard, nodding to her respectfully, gesturing towards the large castle and what awaited in front of it. Rosalind swallowed thickly, blinking away the sudden nausea she felt. It must have been the heavy travel that had her so disoriented… They were there. He was there.In front of the castle were dozens of people lined up as they awaited her arrival. Perhaps a royal council or members of the royal family she did not know. Servants and guards who were not preparing things inside for her. And in the middle, at the far end of the walkway, was the King himself, his hands clasped behind his back as he smiled patiently in waiting. A coldness swept through the air, and all was eerily silent aside from the chirping of birds in the distance, tolling away her doom. The guards dismounted their horses -- twelve of them in all, by her brother’s insistence. Another fact Rosalind had disagreed with but had said nothing about. The Palace of Aberdeen did not have the men to spare, yet Jurion was sure to ensure her safety. Once all the guards had dismounted and gotten into formation, the captain began to lead the way for the princess. Rosalind felt Enna touch her arm softly, reassuringly. She fought the urge to shrug the girl away.“Might I have this dance, my lady?”“I - My lord, we can barely hear the music from this distance.”“It’s loud enough.” He had looked her in the eyes as he stood before her, a hand extended. Through the slits in his mask, she could see something akin to urgency, a desperation she didn’t understand, that beckoned her forward and forced her to join him. They danced in the darkness of the courtyard, a short distance away from the party and the commotion inside. The waltzing music was barely loud enough to reach their ears, but King Jasper led her with ease. And Rosalind had felt dizzy, so dizzy, and she still felt dizzy -- Her guards stepped to the side, forming a different formation, two lines she was meant to walk through. Enna stepped aside as well… leaving only her and her future husband on the walkway. Rosalind stepped forward, her head pounding with each step she took, smiling small and somewhat bashfully as she approached. The King of Meritain stepped forward as well. He bowed. She curtsied.And then he smiled kindly. “Princess Rosalind. You look as lovely as the day we met.” Only weeks ago. And Rosalind could not say he looked the same… for she had not fully seen his face before. She was struck suddenly with his handsomeness, with his sharp but angelic features… with that sense of urgency in his eyes. His eyes flickered to and fro, as though he was constantly searching for something she could not see. But his voice was soft as velvet…Perhaps he was terrifying. “You are too kind, my lord.” She said softly, to which he chuckled. A moment of silence. “Well, then. Shall we move this inside? I would like to welcome you, on behalf of all my people and my staff, to my home. I do hope you find…everything to your liking.” Hearing their cue, the people around applauded and smiled and murmured among each other. The king extended an arm to her, ready to lead her forward into a new life, lead her into a tidal wave. Rosalind already felt like she was drowning… And part of her longed to breathe only the sea into her lungs.
Emery:Today Meritain welcomes my bride-to-be. I hope you'll stand with me when I greet her. I would like for the two of you to meet, as would Mother. I trust that you will think her as lovely a creature as I do. She will be your queen very soon, after all.- your brother, HRM Jasper MereThe missive had arrived in the morning in the hand of a page boy, written on a crisp white piece of paper in Jasper's untidy scrawl and stamped with his royal seal. The paper was no longer crisp; it had been crumpled and then smoothed out so many times that it had softened, the words made difficult to read by the countless creases. But Emery had read and reread it so many times that he knew the words by heart.Another beautiful girl come from a faraway place, another wedding, a new young queen. And, sure as Emery knew his own name, another funeral. How many would there be before Jasper would be satisfied? How many would die before he succeeded in whatever it was that drove him in this insane cycle? I want no part of this, Emery thought, not for the first time. His hand coiled into a fist at his side, balling the paper once more. He wanted nothing more than to vanish, but Jasper had ensured that would never be possible. Emery had always been conspicuous at court, a pariah of sorts; rumors and gossip followed him wherever he went. Yet ever since Jasper had ascended to the throne, it had all been multiplied tenfold until Emery felt walled in, surrounded on all sides by prying eyes and rattling tongues and danger, danger, danger.He was no fool; he knew well Jasper's message was as much threat and demand as it was friendly request from one brother to another. He would pay later for his refusal to show, surely...but then again, he might not. Jasper was as moody as he was strange; it was a trait they shared. With Jasper, at times the simplest matter was life and death. At other times, it was all a game where he was the only one who knew the rules.Rising swiftly from where he was seated, Emery strode to the long windows at the far end of the hall and looked out over the lavish grounds that sprawled at the foot of the Palace of Mere. He could see, even from this height, the dozens of people clustered on the wide path leading up to the wide marble steps. At the center, bracketed on either side by guards in their distinctive blue uniforms, stood Jasper himself, his halo of glitter-pale hair a crown on its own. To his right stood the queen mother Celine; Emery's place to Jasper's left remained empty. And there, turning onto the expansive pathway, the carriage. A gilded cage carrying some poor girl to certain death.He had not gone down, had intended to remain as far away from the girl as he possibly could. But something had left him unable to stay away completely. Perhaps it was a sick desire to punish himself that drove him to the window, but he could not help but watch, his hands clenched on the window sill, his eyes fixed on that awful carriage as it came to a stop.He shut his eyes, leaning his forehead against the cold glass. There was a deep, aching stillness inside him that had crept in two years ago and had not left since. He reached for it now to steady himself before he opened his eyes again. The girl had descended from her carriage, had approached the king and his entourage. Emery could not see her clearly from here, but he could imagine Jasper's expression clearly, could imagine what his younger brother might be saying to her. He could be impossibly charming when he wanted to be."It's not your fight, Em," his mother had told him when she'd heard the news. She had not needed him to tell her how it had pierced straight through him all over again, the way the arrival and death of every one of Jasper's brides did to him. She had known without a single word from him, as she always did. His mother, who had never once lied to him, who was always, always right. He had made the mistake, once, of ignoring her advice, and he'd paid dearly for it.Love is folly, Em. Smoke and mirrors meant for fools, and you are not a fool. You are my son.His head pounded relentlessly and for a moment he could no longer make out figures on the ground; they blurred together and swam across his field of vision like so many ants. He stepped away from the window, sliding down the wall until he was sitting on the cold stone floor, his hands gripping his knees. He knew now how stupid he had been, but the knowledge didn't ease the hurt. He had thought his mother might be wrong, but he should have known better, should have known not to get burned.Somewhere below a young girl entered the Palace of Mere for the first time with the man who would be her husband. And though she didn't know it yet, she was already dead.And there was nothing Emery could do about it.(view spoiler)[sorry for the wait! My family was being stupid and the day ended up being unnecessarily hectic, but we're back home after the break so thanks god for that.From here are we skipping, or playing this out a bit more, or?. (hide spoiler)]
(view spoiler)[Totally understand, lol. xD I can kind of end up this little part with a short bit from her perspective where she glimpses him in the window, and then skip ahead to where she goes out to the gardens that night??? Gah, that post was fantastic, by the way! <3 (hide spoiler)]
When he smiled at her, Rosalind felt like she could feel the world splitting open, felt as though she was falling through the crack into a dark, spiraling abyss. The King kissed her hand, as he had done that night in the courtyard. And just as she had that night, Rosalind studied him, observed him as she did everyone. There was something in the way he moved, the way his lips twisted about, the way his eyes got that devilish sparkle when he said something witty… Rosalind had never been so full of want for another person, had never been quite so enticed. And when he looked in her eyes, all she could think was falling, falling, falling…The sentries posted at the large castle doors moved apart, allowing for the King to lead her through the doorway, her arm laced through his. There was a woman who fell into line behind them. She wore a ceremonial crown that marked her as a member of the royal family, and from her fair hair Rosalind assumed she was the former queen, the mother of her future husband. Rosalind dipped her head respectfully to the woman, but the queen gave her no reaction but contempt. She smiled in the way most royals did -- as though smiling was the last thing she wanted to be doing. “Your rooms will be in the West Wing. I had them specifically tailored for you.” The king gestured with his free hand to one of the spiraling towers opposite the rising sun. Rosalind had to crane her neck back to take it all in. She was struck with coldness again, and let her eyes scan the rest of the castle. Her new home… A shadow passed over one of the windows.Rosalind caught a glimpse of dark wisps, like hair. She froze on the walkway, immediately drawing Jasper’s worried eye to her. Between one blink and the next, the figure had vanished, but Rosalind knew it was not her imagination, knew something was watching her from afar. When was she not being watched? “My dear Rosalind, are you overwhelmed?” Jasper asked patiently. Rosalind caught sight of his free hand tapping against his side urgently. Urgent, urgent, urgent…“Oh, no. I believe I’m just faint from the heavy travel. My apologies, my lord.” He smiled, making her heart leap once more. “Do not apologize. A servant will bring you a tonic the moment we reach your rooms. There was a young servant boy posted just inside the door, ready to take cloaks from the travelers. Jasper gave him a meaningful look, assigning him the task of bringing her the medicine with his eyes. Rosalind was struck once more with the power that a King could wield, how they could look anyone in the eyes and make any demand, how they could not be refused… ~~~~~~After being escorted to her rooms and receiving her nausea tonic, Rosalind was left with only Enna to keep her company. The servant boy told her that his master had a meeting to attend, and that Jasper would be around later on in order to give her a tour and cherish her as he had every intention of doing. In the mean time, she was meant to rest. “Princesses are frail creatures.” Her brother had told her jokingly once. She had not been amused, but curious. Perhaps it would be better if she were a Queen. Rosalind, overcome with a tiredness she could not comprehend, slept for some time, finding the bed in her new chambers to be plush and inviting. The entire room was accented with luxuries the likes of which she had never seen. The Palace of Aberdeen, of course, had been spared no expense in it’s making… But it was no secret that Meritain was a place of much greater wealth, and of much greater fashion. Her tutor had been sure to drill one thing into her mind before she had departed: Image is everything to them.It was no secret that she was beautiful.Rosalind inherited her mother’s looks, she had been told, but lacked her mother’s supposed spirit. She had been admired so boldly and so often that compliments meant very little to her now. Of course, it was still something of a marvel to be called beautiful rather than pretty. In the past year, Rosalind’s face had thinned, her body had grown into itself. Every now and then, when she would steal a glance at a mirror, she would be caught off guard by the face that stared back at her. A young woman’s face, not a girl’s. And sometimes she would run her fingertips over the pale skin of her face or blink just to feel her dark lashes brush her cheeks. And then she would smile small to herself. But there was always that strangeness, too, that unnatural feeling when she thought of herself as flesh and blood.Physical bodies became strange when one dwelt too long in the land of the dead. She stood before her new silver vanity as Enna readied her for dinner, studying her features again. And when she blinked, those strange thoughts vanished and nothing existed but a normal young woman sitting in front of a mirror, a handmaiden twining her hair ‘round and ‘round. Jasper had not shown for dinner, but he had sent her word that he had been kept late at his meetings. Some of the councilmen’s wives were to keep her company -- but they did nothing but interrogate her about her homeland and pry into her relationship with the King, and smile at her like she was to be on the plate that evening. He was not there after dinner.Nor hours later, when she lay awake in bed, staring into nothing but darkness. Rosalind tossed and turned, tangling herself in both her nightgown and the white sheets. But try as she might, she could not sleep. There was disappointment deep in her bones, and a longing so deep it shattered her very being. She longed to see him. Oh, how they had danced that night at the ball! And the sweet little nothings he had whispered into her ear… She suddenly felt like less of a person and more of a doll, dressed in the finest clothes, pampered, and put on display in this magnificent abode. Something to be played with once and then done away with. But they were to be married… Jasper had only been busy today, of course. Rosalind sighed, sitting up in bed. Her unbound hair spilled over her shoulders like ink on parchment. She found herself staring at the nightstand, where a decorative vase was overflowing with roses. Jasper had indeed had the rooms tailor for her… Everywhere there were roses. Red, like the blood like now saw dripping down the glass. Rosalind stared, watching as the streams of scarlet raised to pool at her nightstand, as the roses wilted before her eyes. She scurried backwards, her hands grabbing at the sheets as she stared in horror. And with a blink of an eye the image was gone.Rosalind looked around the silent room, her breathing shallow. The wind howled outside, scrapping against the windows. The West Tower she now resided in seemed the target for all the wind storms… But in that wind, Rosalind could have sworn she heard a voice.“Father? Is that you?” She called out shakily into the empty air. Fortunately, there was no reply. Shaking ever so slightly, Rosalind rose from her bed, nearly tripping over her assorted blankets. She slipped a thin pair of black shoes onto her feet, hurriedly tied a dressing robe around her nightgown, and snatched an candle from her writing room. She needed to get out of this room and… Dear God, she just needed fresh air to clear her head of all this nonsense. There was nothing there. No voices in the wind, no movement in the shadows, no blood in the roses… Nothing at all.She let the wind guide her down to the first level of the tower, let it whisper in her ear the direction she was to go. It let her down a winding servants stairwell, to a set of doors that led outside, a set of doors that no nobles bothered to use. Relief flooded through her when she was greeted by cool night air. She had found an entrance to the gardens, it seemed. No doubt one that was used by the gardeners…Using her candle to guide her way, Rosalind pulled her robe tighter and made her way through the gardens, moving deeper and deeper through the maze. She just needed to find a place to rest for a moment, a place to sit and clear her head. And that’s when she found the rose garden.It was stunning, and the red flowers looked near black under the dark night sky. Rosalind set her candle down on the cobblestone path, moving forward to brush her fingertips over the petals of a flower. And then she sighed, reminded of the night she had met Jasper, when he had danced with her in a garden full of lilies and poppies… A rustling sounded from behind her. Rosalind turned so swiftly that her finger caught against a thorn, drawing a speck of blood and making her wince. “Hello…?” She called out quietly into the dense gardens, glancing towards her candle. And then, reminded of that ball nearly a month ago, she smiled slightly. “Hello? Who’s there?” She tried again, a bit of a teasing edge to her voice. Of course, she assumed it was the King, meaning to jest at her and apologize for his absence today.But when no reply came, Rosalind grew antsy. She grew pale, felt her heart beat heavily in it’s cage. “Are you a thief? Who’s there?” She called softly, her soprano voice muffled by the foliage. “Show yourself.”(view spoiler)[Ew, sorry if that sucked. A lot happened cause I was trying to introduce all the mystery and weird stuff that's going on... And I'm totally brain dead from writing this stupid essay right now. :/ (hide spoiler)]
He dreamt that night of a very different night two years ago, when he had been younger and freer and so foolish. His dreams were full of Mirren, of her smile and her eyes and her voice and her kisses. Mirren in love. Mirren laughing. His Mirren, alive. They had snuck out to the hidden away rose garden that few knew of, at night under a painted-ink sky littered with winking stars, when the downpour had started. It rained often and hard in Delarus, capitol city of Meritain. The both of them were thoroughly drenched, but he had never before felt so happy, so complete, as he had in that moment."Shall we go inside?""Not scared of a little rain, are you, Em?" Rain had pattered on the stone pathway, dripped from the rosebushes, hammered down on the distant looming castle, but he heard her low voice as clearly as though she were speaking into his ear. She had looped her arms around his neck, smiling, her blue eyes wide and darkened to deep-ocean indigo in the rain. Glittering water droplets clung to her long dark lashes, moonlight glancing off them as she blinked. Her hair hung down her back in dark tangled ropes."Your mother will be furious if you destroy your dress," he'd pointed out, but he was smiling wider than he had in a long time, a wild sort of happiness filling him. Her dress was the last thing on his mind; in this moment the fact that her parents hated him, that he might never have anything more than stolen moments like this with her, seemed so far away. "Maybe I just don't want to give her another reason to hate me.""I could take it off." She smiled fiercely, that sudden white-bright smile of hers that Emery thought could have made the dead stand up and sing. When she smiled at him like that, he could forget that he was a bastard and she was highborn, that he had nothing to give her and her father would never agree to let them marry. He could forget the worry he'd felt when he'd noticed the way Jasper's eyes followed Mirren across the room more than once, the expression he wore not one of a man interested in a pretty woman but rather that of a scheming predator contemplating his next meal. When she smiled at him like that, the rest of the world fell away until only the two of them were left, burning fast and hot and alive. "For...safekeeping."He woke with a start to his darkened room, and for one flitting quicksilver moment the last two years were forgotten, and Mirren was alive and there beside him. And then he realized where he was and he knew it had been only another empty dream. He would never again see her or kiss her or make her laugh. She was dead, and she had left him for Jasper before she had died, and he was still alone. The brief golden happiness from the dream slipped through his fingers and the emptiness was back, huge heavy hands crushing his ribs until it was hard for him to breathe. And it was impossible not to remember..."She's dead, Emery.""What?"The look in Jasper's brilliant green eyes as he stood in the door to Emery's private rooms had chilled him down to the bone. There was fear there, wild fear, but behind the fear there lurked something darker as well, something hungry and almost...victorious. "I...Em, it wasn't supposed to happen this way, I didn't..." He swallowed, seemed to catch himself. "The queen is dead." He seemed dazed, shaken, almost like he wanted Emery to comfort him, and at first Emery thought he meant Celine. It had been a long time since their closeness as brothers had soured into something awful and broken, but Emery still remembered growing up with Jasper as his closest companion, remembered Jasper as the bright-eyed younger brother who'd loved to follow him around, before he'd grown into the sharp-eyed man he was now. And Emery knew, too, what love for a mother meant. He had put his hands on Jasper's shoulders and said firmly, "Jaz, focus." He had not called his brother by that childhood endearment for years now, but it slipped out. "What's happened? What do you mean, the queen is dead?""You're not listening to me, Emery. The queen. Mirren--she's dead."Looking back on it all now, he knew there had been so many warning signs that Emery had not heeded. In the months after Mirren had told him she was marrying Jasper, those awful months leading up to the royal wedding and the months after, Emery had felt lost, his shaky world gone entirely off-kilter. Seeing Mirren with Jasper was like taking a knife to the chest; he did not, could not, understand how he had been so wrong about her. He still didn't understand, but now he would never know why she'd so abruptly left him for Jasper. His mother had raised him to be careful, always, with people, because at court everyone was playing their own game. He had thought he knew what he was doing, but now he no longer trusted himself. Had Mirren been playing him for a fool all those long golden months, perhaps to entice the king? All so she could wear a crown that she had never seemed interested in having? Had any of it been real at all for her? He didn't know. So he stayed away, keeping to his rooms as much as he could. He had not paid attention to the rumors that flew like wildfire in the halls between servants and nobility alike, whispering that the young new queen had taken ill. He had not noticed the feverish intensity that seemed to fill Jasper, nor had he noticed that Celine was cooking something up.And then had come that awful day when it was too late and she was dead.Mirren's laugh echoed in his head now, no longer lovely but harsh and cruel, a ghost woman's laugh echoing down two years' worth of hurt and bone-deep longing. He sat upright in his bed and pressed his knuckles into his forehead, trying to somehow physically push all thoughts of Mirren away even as he knew it was impossible. She would never leave him, never, not while he was forced to remain in this tomb of a palace, not while Jasper lured yet another girl to meet the same fate he had somehow brought upon Mirren.The king had allowed Emery into the royal quarters to see her before she was taken away, an act half of mercy and half the worst sort of cruelty. It was always difficult to tell with Jasper which he intended, difficult even for Emery, who was perhaps one of the few who knew the king best.There were no words for what he had felt when he had seen her lying there so pale and still and empty; there was only the awful howling nothingness and the knowledge that he would never ever be whole again.Perhaps if he could bring himself to cry the hollowness in him would fade. Or better yet, if he could scream, if he could rage and burn the castle to the ground and demand the truth over the ashes...but there were no tears in him, no fury. There was only...emptiness.Perhaps he welcomed it.He could not sleep now; inside his head the wretched music of Mirren's laughter played on. He slid from under the bedcovers, clutching his head tightly, and stood on the cold stone. It was always cold in his rooms because he would forget to shut the long glass windows, but it didn't matter. The cold seemed fitting for what was, in reality, a glorified prison. A prison outfitted with only the most luxurious furnishings, but a prison nonetheless. Emery wore no shackles, and since Jasper had come into his crown he demanded from the courtiers that Emery be addressed as a lord, with all the proper respect due to the king's brother. And though no guards were posted to him, Emery knew that Jasper and Celine both had eyes following him wherever he went, watching to ensure he never did anything to threaten Jasper's claim to the throne.He could have saved them the trouble and told them the truth, that he wanted nothing to do with the throne, but they would not have believed him.He dressed quickly and mindlessly in the dark in the simplest clothes he owned--a faded brown tunic and straight black pants. The door of his private quarters did not creak when he pushed it open; he kept the hinges oiled to make sure he could leave without alerting others, should he so wish. Unlike most highborn lords, who either carried no weapons or bore elaborate, largely ornamental swords, Emery carried a single hidden blade. A gift from his mother.Then again, Emery was not quite highborn.His feet carried him almost of their own accord down the spiraling staircase from his quarters at the top of the northern tower to the very same door he and Mirren had used so often. It swung open now under the light press of his hand and he slipped through, ghostlike, on a breath of cool air.Finally, mercifully, his head was quiet again.He drifted further into the garden, a strange restlessness pushing him on. He did not know what he was searching for, did not know where he was going, but he prowled through the maze of rosebushes anyway. His feet remembered the twists and turns, even after all this time.A figure, just there. Mirren, he thought, for one wild moment, and realized he had moved forward, had spoken her name aloud for the first time in nearly a year. He heard, distantly, a voice call out questioningly, but he was hearing another voice, thinking of another time. He stepped closer, slowly now, his eyes searching to make out the shadowed features of the figure. Blood thrummed in his ears."Mirren?"
“I said show yourself.” Rosalind belted out with a little more force, standing straighter in her act of bravado. If only her shaking voice and startled eyes didn’t ruin the image. Rosalind’s coldness might have made her unearthly and powerful, if it weren’t accompanied by youth and innocence, a girlish glimmer in her eyes and a softness to her features. Her naivety made her human; her curiosity made her something else entirely. Suddenly, a figure stepped forward, rustling among the rose bushes signaling his movement. Rosalind stepped back, her eyes straight ahead, and nearly knocked over the candle she had placed on the cobblestones. It sputtered within its holder before snuffing out entirely in a gust of chill air, leaving only the moonlight behind to illuminate the garden, bathing all before it in silver. She could barely make out his form in the darkness of the garden, could barely decipher his features as they lay hidden in shadow. Rosalind squinted into the darkness, feeling the rose bushes press against her back -- she had put as much distance between them as possible, it seemed. Part of Rosalind told her it wasn’t enough, though, that she should turn and run back to her rooms, that she should get out of this dark garden escape before something terrible happened… But her feet would not move an inch. She stared onward at the figure, her eyes adjusting in the dark. And the first thing she saw were his eyes, like beacons in the night… Shining with terror. He looked as though he’d seen a ghost.And then he spoke it’s name. “You - you address the Princess of Aberdeen and the future queen of Meritain.” Rosalind stuttered like a candle against chill air, trying to summon every bit of power her title condoned. If only the whispers would cease and she could concentrate. If only the moonlight was dizzying. If only Rosalind could blink and return to the Earthly realm she had been distant from for so long. They say madness affects the senses… Perhaps that was why all sounds were either far too much or far too little for her ears, why her vision blurred at the edges or sharpened until she was sure she could see farther than any mortal, why all food tasted like poison or luxury on her tongue… And why a silence seemed to fill her entire being at the moment, stilling even the beating of her heart until she was sure she was a spirit herself. Even though she spoke softly, even though she could not muster the courage to add volume to her voice, each word still sounded bitingly loud in her ears. And sharp. Oh, so sharp… Now that the man was closer, Rosalind could mark his clothes. Plain, dark… but not poor. Was he of the court, then? Was there no reason for her to fear theft or more vile acts of aggression? Perhaps it was a stretch to say she was afraid. A sane woman would be afraid, would scream at the first sight of a stranger in the darkness. Hell, a sane woman wouldn’t have dared wonder out into the gardens of a strange new home, wouldn’t have put herself in harm’s way to begin with. But Hale’s did not fear the dark, her father had once told her. They embrace it like a lover. There was no lover that could hold you like Death. No lover whose kiss could consume you like his.“Who are you?” Rosalind breathed into the darkness, struggling to find the words. Curiosity and fear prickled beneath her skin, along with a strange sense of intoxication. It was always there when she stood beneath the moonlight, always there when she heard the wind calling to her. The wind… which bit right through her nightgown. Rosalind was struck suddenly by her appearance and her lack of covering. It was entirely inappropriate to be alone with a man in her nightgown, wasn’t it? Presently, the princess -- soon to be Queen, mind you -- pulled her silken dressing robe tighter around herself, wincing suddenly as her fingers brushed the material. She had forgotten about the cut the thorn had made on her fingertip, hadn’t noticed the trickle of blood that now stained her hand. But Rosalind didn’t dare glance down at it now, wouldn’t dare take her eyes away from the man before her. Her eyes wide and haunted as ever, her ghostly skin paler now in the moonlight, her breath stopped in her lungs in suspense as she waited for a response… Perhaps she was a spirit, afterall.
Mirren's name burned his mouth and sounded in a hoarse whisper in the air between them. He hadn't spoken it aloud since right after her death, had not even heard it spoken by someone else more than a few times. It was forbidden by royal decree to speak of Mirren Fayde or the two queens who had followed her, and a royal decree was not something to scoff at, not in Meritain, not if you valued your sanity.Atala Vhall and Carys Sistine. Emery remembered them so clearly--how could he not? Both young and beautiful, both highborn, both queen of Meritain for not more than a few months, both now dead for some scheme of Jasper's that Emery had been unable to decipher and powerless to prevent. But while Mirren had been from Delarus, with her family nobles at court who possessed large holdings elsewhere in Meritain, both Atala Vhall and Carys Sistine had been foreigners from faraway lands ruled by kings who did not have the means or the gall to challenge Jasper. If they'd wondered at the story Jasper and Celine gave about a mysterious illness taking the girls, they had not done anything about it. Meritain was, after all, vast and powerful and wealthy, with an army more than capable of cowing would-be threats into finding their enemies elsewhere. And, somehow, the power to keep the death of one queen hidden from the one who would surely follow her.The rational part of him, the one that heeded his mother's advice and didn't make foolish mistakes, knew this could not be Mirren even as his mouth shaped her name. Mirren was dead and gone, and yet some part of him still expected to see her, to hear her low voice in answer. He felt as though he hadn't woken up at all, that he was still dreaming; he had dreamt of her in the garden with him and woken to come outside as though some force not his own had led him down the stairs and into the maze of roses to find a ghost of her.Meritain was a kingdom of mirrors and shadows, of fury and flame, its behemoth palace a place of whispered fear and hard glittering smiles and the quicksilver sleight of hand. But all of it, Emery knew, was crafted by the wicked minds and jeweled hands of the kingdom's people. Emery's mother had raised him to dismiss thoughts of magic and the unnatural as superstition and foolery. All of it was simply illusion, a tool used by the powerful to cow the weak. And ghosts did not exist. He knew this, knew it even as part of him wanted to shy away from the truth of it. He did not want to take a step nearer to this girl, whoever she was. He did not want to see her face with more clarity and recognize that she was not Mirren. Her candle had gone out, leaving only the light of the distant moon to wash the garden in slender panes of still silver. When she spoke once more, her voice was jarring. Mirren had had a low, husky voice that seemed to hide always a laugh behind it, as though she were perpetually teetering on the brink of some secret joke. This girl's voice was commanding, powerful. A queen's voice, perhaps, worthy of the crown and the throne in a different world where she was not fated to die.He could feel, already, the emptiness creeping back into him, wrapping its cold hands around his heart in a familiar unwelcome embrace. Princess of Aberdeen and future queen of Meritain. Jasper's bride-to-be.Soon she, too, would be dead.He released a long breath like a sigh and inclined his head to her in the briefest of nods. "Nobody of importance. Forgive me if I frightened you, Your Highness." Your Highness, the formal title for a princess, not the more relaxed my lady.(view spoiler)[How far do you think we should extend this scene? I'm kind of thinking we should keep it brief where neither of them really finds out much about the other, which I feel would make Rosalind curious about who he is. (hide spoiler)]
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