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 [COMPLETE:A Meeting of Minds], Closed Thread: Emelia and Zaniel
Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Mar 28 2017, 12:18 PM
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It was all Emelia could do to not roll her eyes. Lord Amsel’s voice had receded to a distant buzz at the back of her mind; his actual words long lost to the static fuzz. Not that it mattered, for she knew what he was saying. He’d been going on about it since it happened and that was ages ago. Or did it just feel like ‘ages’? By now, Emelia had Amsel’s angry tirade against Zaniel Pryor off by heart. No matter how many times she heard it, she was still not the type of Queen to go getting involved in barroom brawls. A job she was happy to leave to fish wives and unruly retainers. As for his pregnant daughter … well, if the rumours she had heard were true, it could have been anybody with a functioning penis.

However, she needed Amsel. Or rather, she needed Amsel’s mine. That mine was bringing in valuable resources and money, a good chunk of which was flowing into Emelia’s own coffers. While contemplating this conundrum, her gaze fell on a tapestry covering the far wall of her privy chamber. That had been bought with money from Amsel’s mine. So, she suppressed a sigh and rose from her seat at the head of her council table. A sudden movement that was sufficient to shut the man’s mouth.

“Very well,” she said, sweeping her goblet of wine from the table top. “Very well, I will send for Pryor and have him answer the charges you put to him.”

His eyes followed her as she paced the length of the trestle table. It was empty now, but for the two of them. Her voice carried and dust motes spiralled in the slipstream of her pacing. The place needs a good clean, she thought dismally. Meanwhile, Amsel was wittering again and trying to get her to make a solemn promise to be true to her word. On his daughter’s honour! On his honour! On the honour of Geheim!

“Sweet Saint Antistia, man, do you want my promise written and signed in blood?” she snapped at the puffed up lord. He fell back like a whipped bitch and Emelia savoured the rush of victory it brought her. After a steadying gulp of wine, she added: “I will send Zaniel Pryor a royal summons immediately. If he refuses, I will have him dragged through the streets naked all the way to the castle doors, where he can answer the charges as best he can without a tongue.”

Amsel paled, but was clearly satisfied. Not taking any chances, however, Emelia came to a halt and fixed him with a challenging look, daring him to press her further. As she rightly guessed, he did not dare. Instead, he rose from his seat and offered her a stiff bow before taking his formal leave. Emelia nodded, then watched as the double doors swung closed behind his retreating back.

It was only much later, after the summons had been sent, that she realised how useful Pryor might turn out to be. She suddenly found herself curious about the near-miss mining disaster that set their work back so many months. Pryor was nothing to her, but if she found out Amsel was in any way culpable for that little disaster, then all the Argents in that accursed monastery wouldn’t be able to save his wretched soul.

And all he owns will be forfeit to the crown, she inwardly reminded herself, including his mine.

As such, when Pryor finally showed, she set off to his private audience with a spring in her step.

Zaniel Pryor
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Zaniel Pryor
 Posted: Apr 5 2017, 11:04 AM
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Don't think there is no danger simply because the water is calm . . .

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Zaniel had not gone very far from the mining city he had last been spotted in and part of him loathed how easy it had been for the Palace messengers to find him where he had bunked down to finish out the remainder of the healing process. A summons, one from the Queen herself. If his day had already been going bad there was no way it could have possibly gotten worse-- even if it rained on this particularly cold and dreary day.

It took a full day for the messengers to reach him and then the return trip was just as long, for, as much as Zaniel had rather not answered the Queen's summons, you do not decline them either. So he had agreed and after a short amount of time to gather the few things he had, they had set out once more for the Castle.

His arrival in the Castle town was the first time Zaniel had been in the castle town itself- he had never been this close to the castle and after staring at the man-made fortress that seemed to grow from the very mountain itself, they entered. There was no time to rest, no time to compile his thoughts. He was immediately escorted through the town by two guards and into the castle, through it's winding halls until Zaniel was fairly sure he had lost his sense of direction and finally ending in a private audience chamber. The decadence of the chamber was not unexpected, but seeing the interior of it was.

Who in their life ever thought they would actually stand within these walls, much less to have been summoned by the Queen herself? The ride from the small town he had been in hadn't been particularly rough, but with no time given to make himself more presentable to the Queen, Zaniel could do little more than smooth wrinkles from his clothes and comb his fingers through his hair so it was only slightly less wild. There was little hope for it.


So here he waited for the Queen, hands behind his back and his eyes focused forward on the door she would be stepping through the moment she deemed it worthy to have her pass through it's arch way. There was only one reason that Zaniel could imagine he had ended up in this chamber- Lord Amsel and Stampcrab. Why else would he be summoned, if not for pissing off a Lord of the land? In the end he hoped this would wouldn't be his end.

Aside from looking disheveled from the long ride, Zaniel appeared clean. He had replaced the tunic and robes which had been blood stained from the bar brawl and had managed to bathe just the day before. He sported dark trousers, worn shin-length boots and a grayish tunic that had been tailored to fit. The elemental symbol for water appeared on his person three times where it would have usually been the symbol of Silver for Argents- once on each shoulder and once on the end of a sash around his waist. His cloak was a simple wool that he had been lucky to afford at the time.
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Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Apr 7 2017, 02:25 PM
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Some would consider it polite to allow a visitor time to rest and refresh themselves before having them brought to the audience chamber. But Emelia couldn’t afford to let this one get too comfortable. She needed to tell him, without having to say a word, that this was no social occasion. She needed him ruffled, on edge and on the defence. At this early stage of the game, she would rather do all that without actually having to lift a finger against him. Thumbscrews on first acquaintance was so vulgar! As such, she was quietly pleased at Pryor’s dishevelled appearance. The journey had worn him down for her, without her having to flex a single muscle. It was half the battle won.

However, she hid her satisfaction behind a carefully schooled expression of benign blankness as she stepped through the stone archway. Her heels rang out against the polished oak floorboards, the hems of her skirts whispering over the polished surface, as she stepped carefully down the dais steps. Slow, measured footfalls that halted a few feet short of her new ‘guest’. Silently, she appraised him. Blue eyes impassive as she looked him up and down, walking a circle around him as she weighed him by the ounce. To her displeasure, she could not guess at what was going on his head.

He was still injured though. Good…

Zaniel’s hair was mussed up, but clean. Same for his clothes, which was a small wonder given their dismal winter weather. Her gaze lingered over the symbol on his shoulders – Water? She was not certain, but nor did she much care. If he had any special powers that would be useful to her, she would be sure to find them in time. But for now, it was something altogether more earthly that she wanted from Pryor.

When, at last, Emelia felt she had let the loaded silence spin itself out, she ended her guest’s misery and spoke.

“Good of you to join us … at last,” she said, softly. Making her way back to her place on the dais, she nodded to the servants loitering in the shadows in a silent gesture of dismissal. They scurried toward the back door like rats scampering from a burning barn. Turning back to Pryor, she added: “Would you care for some wine? I hope you don’t mind if I do.”

With that, she got up again and poured herself a fine red that was sat on a carved cabinet nearby. While he contemplated her offer, she held a cut crystal glass to the light spilling from the oriel windows and inspected it carefully.

“I suppose you already know why you’re here,” she said, continuing the glass inspection. Once satisfied, she poured a second glass. “Needless to say, Lord Amsel has told me all about you and I must say, it was very interesting.”

She approached Pryor again, proffering the wine. A metaphorically poisoned chalice. One false move on this one’s front and it would be more than ‘metaphorical’ poison.

“Please, take it,” she urged him. “And tell me what you intend to do about your impending fatherhood? As you can imagine, the honour of the young lady is a subject close to my heart and I trust a fine young man of your calibre would do the right thing. No?”
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Zaniel Pryor
 Posted: Apr 9 2017, 11:06 PM
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Don't think there is no danger simply because the water is calm . . .

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When The Queen entered there was little more than Zaniel could do but wait as she seemed to gracefully glide over the polished floor. When she came to a stop but a few feet away he cautiously dipped forward in a bow of respect. It was painful with his wound still so fresh, the pink had not yet ebbed away and the stitches itched daily with the slow healing process. If he had been able to truly rest, perhaps if he had been able to pay for better lodgings at a longer rate, he could have doubled the speed at which his wound healed. But alas, he had lost nearly everything when he'd had to flee the city of Erzstadt.

He remained bowed from seconds before the Queen began to circle him like a vulture till she had made it around his backside, where he struggled to stand straight without making jerkish movements. The wound on his side had been producing a steady heated throb of pain since the start of the ride to the castle. It had varied in level and just as it had begun to settle into a dull roar of a pain that Zaniel could ignore, he had seen fit to poke it back into a flare up which made his movements stiff and caused a quick intake of air as he stood again.

"I came as quickly as the roads would permit, my Queen, but I must extend my apologies that I have kept you waiting." There could be nothing done about time tables now but to apologize. Zaniel hadn't set the speed of which he was escorted back to the castle at- although this didn't matter, there was no point in passing blame in this matter. When offered wine he inclined his head, "Of course," and then The Queen went on to speak and he did nothing more but listen, shifting in pain that only briefly crossed his face.

Outwardly he appeared calm aside from the occasional wince or small frown which tugged the edges of his lips, being summoned such as he had and being given no time to prepare had done little to ruffle his feathers. If he were the sort to bend under those circumstances alone he would have fumbled his words the first time he'd spoken to the Queen only weeks ago.


I'd be interested in hearing exactly what Lord Amsel had to say about me, too. Zaniel found himself thinking as the Queen poured a second glass. So his suspicions had been confirmed as to why he was there- Lord Amsel had brought matters before the Queen, although when she offered out the wineglass and mentioned his impending fatherhood, it wasn't exactly what he thought he'd be questioned about. So rather than face the fact that his daughter had opened her legs to someone likely closer to Lord Amsel than he was willing to admit, he had chosen to go along with the story his little weasel of a minion had decided to cook up. The cards weren't stacked in his favor in this case, since he doubted the girl would confess who the child's father really was. He'd be lucky if she didn't begin to insist that he had forced himself on her.

For a second or so his expression had become distant, just teetering on the edge of confusement before his eyes drifted upwards to the Queen once more careful now not to sound as if he were taking total offense to what she had said, "If I were indeed the father of that child, I would have wasted no time claiming it. But as it is, I am not responsible for the life growing within Lord Amsel's daughter, nor could I tell you the girl's name, or the color of her hair. I could not possibly pick her from a crowd of young women- not once did our paths cross, as far as I have been aware."

There was, in that moment, one tiny blip that Zaniel inwardly cringed at. A memory of a hard day's work that ended in inebriation and shortly after the stanturing up the steps with a pretty little number on his arm. He had been certain she was not the daughter of some noblemen with the way she had conducted herself, but rather the daughter of the Stable master, perhaps, or even the Inn Keeper's daughter for all he knew. In that exact moment he suddenly found himself wishing he knew what Lord Amsel's daughter looked like, if only to confirm it had not been her, snuck out on some joy ride of sorts.

Regardless of that, the time he had spent with the now mystery woman in the Inn was brief and so close to the current time that there could be no possible way that a pregnancy could have been confirmed- as he could recall her belly certainly hadn't been swollen in the least bit when they were busy with one another, but he couldn't have been positive enough to trust his own memory right then.

Outwardly he had again regained his composure and held the glass of wine close, but without drinking from it thus far. So there it was, in the end he denied that the child was his. Which it wasn't, but it was the word of a Noble against his own.
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Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 12:47 PM
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Those injuries were hurting him, she noted. He was trying to hide the pain and she almost admired him for that. It was stoic, defiant – two qualities she greatly admired in some people. However, she left him standing there as she returned to her seat upon the dais. From that elevated position she looked down her nose, regarding him carefully as he protested his innocence with regard to the bastard blossoming in the belly of Amsel’s silly daughter. He spoke earnestly enough and, for all she cared, he could even have been telling the truth.

Once he fell quiet again, she sipped at her wine and pretended to be weighing up his words carefully. In reality, she was thinking on how best to get him into a position where he’d be willing to cooperate with her greater plan: testifying against Amsel and arming her with what she needed to bring the overbearing bore down once and for all. To those ends, she cast another appraising eye over the parts of his body that seemed to be paining him the most. A plan slowly formulated in her head, but that could wait for now.

First, she had to press the issue of the silly girl and her silly bastard unborn.

“I am a woman grown, Zaniel Pryor,” she pointed out, before draining her glass. “Yet I am not an old woman. Still, for all my young years, I cannot begin to estimate the number of men I’ve known to squirt a baby into a girl’s belly and then plead innocence when called to account for their actions. It’s all so convenient for men, isn’t it? They have their little roll in the hay, their brief moment of pleasure and then they can move on, safe in the knowledge that if there are more … long term … consequences, the shame and stigma will be borne exclusively by the woman. As a woman myself, albeit a childless one, I cannot tell you how much this injustice really raises my hackles.”

She sounded like a governess lecturing an unruly pupil, and well she knew it. She even augmented a few of her finer points with small disapproving sighs and the occasional eye-roll. To a brief thrill of horror, she almost reminded herself of that thin old crone who used to look after her cousin, Prince Declan. The memory of the wooden spoon wielding old creature popped so suddenly into her head it almost made her laugh. Almost. She composed herself and inwardly beat down those old memories.

Pulling herself back into the here and now, she continued in more moderate tone: “Excuse my lecturing you, but you can see the quandary I’m in here. Amsel and his daughter say one thing and you tell me another. I was not present at the moment of the bastard’s conception so I cannot say who is telling the truth. I know the lies red-blooded men tell about their conquests, but I also know that a Queen is expected to take the side of her nobles almost without question. It’s that which puts you at a distinct disadvantage here.”

Society was unfair to people like Pryor and Emelia could guess she didn’t need to tell him that. So she paused for breath, a moment to compose her thoughts. She had flexed her thorns, then tried to show her reasonable side. Before letting him get too comfortable, she decided to try and pull the rug from under him again.

“However,” she continued, drawing a deep breath. “Even with that class injustice in mind, there is the small matter of your attempt to kill Lord Amsel’s retainer. You can deny the baby all you like, but you cannot deny the vicious attack on a defenceless man who was simply doing his job. If the baby is not yours, you could have just gone with the retainer and explained to Lord Amsel that which you’re explaining to me now. But you didn’t, did you? You tried to kill the man which tells me you have something to hide. And don’t think to deny it, the man you tried to kill is here at the Castle. I can have him brought before me from his sick bed to identify you.”

This was where her plan came in. She could send the guards to fetch that wretched creature of Lord Amsel’s, but there wasn’t a mark on him. If his presence was required, she would have to send enough men to beat the living daylights out of him first and then bring him to the chamber. Letting out a small sigh, she could only hope it wouldn’t come to that.
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Zaniel Pryor
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 02:09 PM
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Don't think there is no danger simply because the water is calm . . .

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Indeed Zaniel needed no reminding of any topic she had just covered. Was not his last name Pryor? There wasn't a single person in all of Emeria who wouldn't understand the weight his name already carried with it. He hadn't been birthed into a family by that name, no, it had been gifted to him by the tiny church he had been left at as a babe. Cold, half starved, and wrapped in nothing but a rag as he was later told. No man would want the name Pryor. Pryor came with no land, no social class, no standing. Nothing. Pryor often did, however, come with plenty of troubles with it. The name Pryor was found thick in the workhouses and dotted the streets in beggars.

He had been a lucky one, a Pryor that was. If his gift hadn't manifested so early on he would be loath to think of what conditions he would have continued to grow in and where his life might currently have been spent living- that was if he hadn't managed to kill himself somehow when his gift did manifest.

All this meant, in the long haul, was that Zaniel was well familiar with the luxury of loving and leaving that men could do. He could not recall his birth mother but it wouldn't have been a long jump for him to consider she had been treated as such by a man. He had had his fair share of lovers, there was no doubt to that, but aside from his once betrothed Zaniel had been very careful in his so called conquests.

When she had addressed this his gaze had moved just beyond the Queen while in thought, not given time to speak before she had moved on to the next topic of Lord Amsel's retainer, Stampcrab. Zaniel still hadn't cared to discover the man's name and just the thought of him made a boil in his veins he couldn't quite describe. No matter his anger, however, it was well masked aside from a soft wince of pain. Standing was growing increasingly uncomfortable.

"I heckled the man when he came to fetch me," He spoke truthfully once again, his gaze returning to the Queen in all her stern splendor. Understanding that coming off as too righteous may not be the correct response here, Zaniel found himself at a split. He had not been the first to attack and there was an entire tavern full of patrons that, if this had been a Inn Keeper or City Guard he found himself before, they might have been willing to witness for him. As the case was, however, he was before Queen Emelia, who had a reputation. Not one of those yellow bellied bastards was going to stand before her and witness against the word of a Lord's retainer. He was on his own. Even the patron that had assisted him after the brawl, Kay, he would have to guess would not witness. Not that he blamed them, he quite possibly would avoid it himself. Suppose he couldn't curse their names after all.

At the accusation he looked away, his jaw tense and set into place as he considered his options. There was a scratch on the man. Zaniel had literally popped the man's eyeball out of it's socket, he had seen it dangle like nothing he could describe at that point. He continued carefully, "He took offense, as he might," Mean, he had turned the accusation back on the man after he'd been told what Lord Amsel had wanted him for. If he were honest with himself he did not plan to return to Lord Amsel at the summons. "The matter escalated and I found that I had needed to defend myself, or find half of my innards all over the floor." His gaze again returned to the Queen and a defeated sigh escaped him, "I'll agree to the punishment of failure to appear when summoned, but I will not claim a child that is not mine or say that I attacked that man with intentions to end his life. If I had wanted him dead, he'd be less than a shriveled corpse on the ground."


Phew, look at him, telling the Queen what he would and would not admit too. Well it was the truth, and if these were the last days of his life, at least he could say he hadn't gone down as a liar, right? Who was he kidding, if he thought it would have gotten him anywhere he probably would have lied through his teeth to keep his head on his shoulders right then.
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Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 02:34 PM
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Listening to his defence, she thought she should probably be affronted by this lowly creature's forthright manner. But she as so accustomed to flinching, silver-tongued bootlickers she actually found his manner rather refreshing. It was almost like sport.

However, the revelation that Zaniel had in fact fought back took her by surprise. She tried to recall Amsel's endless complaints about it. The same ones she had taken to ignoring so that they just formed a wordless buzz in her head. He probably had mentioned it. Oh well, she thought to herself, never mind. Besides, heckling took many forms in her experience. Anything from a bit of name calling to bashing someone's skull in with a handy rock. In this case, it made no matter.

"So, you admit you goaded Amsel's retainer into attacking you and you attacked him back?" she asked, seeking clarification. "You understand that Amsel will require justice for that and for you knocking up his daughter."

She spelled the situation out again and lapsed back into silence. This problem was beginning to bore her. Pretending she cared about Amsel, his daughter, and his knuckle dragging retainers was beginning to bore her. Much more of this and she'd be hitting the wine again and then where would she be? It was time to wrap this up.

"Look, Zaniel," she eventually spoke. "I'm prepared to completely forget about your attack on the retainer, whatever his name is. Whatever you did to him doesn't concern me. And I am more than prepared to rescind any punishment for failure to appear when summoned. All this I am prepared to completely forgive you for and consign to history with not a stain on your character."

She paused there, letting all that sink in. The longer this went on, the more uncomfortable he seemed to be getting and the last thing she wanted was this one collapsing on her. It was time to throw her rat into the works.

"But there is something I want from you in return," she added. "In return for all that, you will marry the daughter of Lord Amsel and make an honest woman of her. If you refuse, you will become intimately acquainted with the sparse charms of my castle's dungeons. If, by the end of this week, you have not seen reason and married the girl, you will stand trial for attempted murder and of taking a noble born woman by force. Do you understand me?"

She got to her feet, one hand on her hip as she watched the man's reaction carefully.
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Zaniel Pryor
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 02:54 PM
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Don't think there is no danger simply because the water is calm . . .

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"I do." A simple response came when warranted to confirm he had goaded the man into it. It had been too simple to do so, really, but he had done it none the less. Then came the rest of what she had to say as she stood, and the fact that she had used his first name properly without calling him Daniel as most nobles did when they didn't care for what or who they were addressing, it caught his attention. He had certainly not expected her to have used his first name correctly more than once- not because she could not understand that his name started with a Z, but because she would possibly not care to use it.

She was paying closer attention to the matter at hand than he had previously thought, and that caused Zaniel to take a moment to himself when she suddenly gave him his ultimatums. His jaw clinched but he looked no more surprised or disheveled at the news than he had when he was first brought into the chamber.

Marry Lord Amsel's daughter, and the rest would be considered dust in the wind? Hardly. For the Queen it might but Zaniel could see himself dead within a week of the marriage, if not on the very night . He would gain status of sorts, of course, elevated to higher than some wandering non-argent for hire. He would be above Stampcrab, quite possibly, and could make the man's life a living hell for what he had put Zaniel through and the turn his life had suddenly taken.

But still. If he did somehow manage to survive more than a week he would constantly be looking over his shoulder, sure that Lord Amsel was not exactly the forgiving sort. He would constantly be on the look out for Stampcrab and his many cronies. Not only this, but he would be thrust into a household where he was not welcomed, into a marriage where his new wife was not really his, and a child which certainly was not. He would be given a new last name, a new life, but it was not worth dieing for.

Marriage meant death, in this case, he was sure.

But so did possibly declining it.

His composure had started to slip the longer they talked, his shoulder slouched just a hair and his back slooped. But at this news he straightened again to his full height and spoke with a distinct frown, "Respectively, My Queen, I would rather rot in your dungeons than marry an unfaithful whore, regardless of her stature or social class."


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Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 03:31 PM
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Whatever it was Emelia was expecting, it wasn't that. She stood at the edge of the dais, one hand on her hip and a genuinely amused smile fixed on her face. The more this chap spoke the closer she got to actually liking him. Almost. For the time being, however, she could not let her personal feelings affect her. She still wanted him quaking in his boots and she arranged her face accordingly.

But there was no denying that he understood the stakes. He understood that she could order his death as easily as she clicked her fingers. Yet, that was preferable to marrying Lord Amsel's daughter. Saint Antistia, she thought to herself, is she really that bad? If she was anything like her father, then yes she was. Emelia could see, for the first time, how her work was cut out for her.

Meanwhile, as she continued trying to figure her guest out, she approached him again. If she didn't act fast he would fall down because of those injuries.

"Please, come and sit with me in this window seat and we can talk about this properly," she suggested. "It's no good with me up there and you down here."

However, she gave him little choice as she immediately led him over to the wide bench overlooking her private gardens. Not much grew there. The soil was poor and stony. But it was pleasant enough and caught the light on a hot summer's day. But it was winter. All they could see now was snow choking the dead flower beds and a frozen bird pond. As if emphasising the bleakness of the season, a dead bird was frozen on the perimeter wall, ice drooping from its beak. Emelia wrinkled her nose at it.

After casting a mournful gaze out of the window, she turned back to her guest and hoped he would see sense and sit down. It was more intimate in the alcove. It was somewhere they could speak privily, as if they were well known to each other. Somewhere that encouraged a little more familiarity.

"I understand why you would rather not marry the girl." she began again. "You don't know her. If you slept with her at all you only thought it would be a one night thing and you'd be gone by dawn. But this marriage would soothe her father's anger, restore his daughter's honour and. Zaniel, do you have any idea of how rich they are? That mine is his and could one day be yours, if you make the right moves. And tell me, are your wounds hurting you?"

Instinctively, she let her gaze rake the length of his body as though trying to see through the layers of his clothes, to where the injuries were at their worst. Weak spots she could exploit to make his life a world of pain. But she wouldn't. All she wanted was him in a stranglehold.

"Because I can click my fingers right now and bring in men who can make your pain a whole lot worse. Is that what you want? I'm beginning to think it is."

And the stranglehold got a little tighter, the air supply that little bit thinner. Only when he was crammed in a bind of her own making would she throw him the real life line. And that moment was coming soon.
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Zaniel Pryor
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 04:12 PM
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Don't think there is no danger simply because the water is calm . . .

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Her amused smile was the last possible thing Zaniel had been expecting.

He had fully been expecting her to have him escorted down to the dungeons or quite possibly find a firm hand right across his face for being so openly spoken of a Noblemen's daughter. But no, instead he found himself staring at an amused smile on the Queen's face and for the first time it threw Zaniel for such a loop that he actually appeared confused by it. It had caught him off guard.

Before he could regain his composure she had closed the distance between them and insisted he sit with her. He followed without question, forgotten glass of wine still in hand. As they came to a stop he looked out into the dreary once-upon-a-time garden. It was possibly one of the grandest garden that could be mustered up in these terrible conditions, but it was also pathetic looking in winter. The frozen bird would have normally gained a chuckle from him in it's own morbid way, but he was distracted by her sudden niceties. Well, more like her thorny niceties.

She certainly is pretty as a rose and just as thorny as one. He couldn't help but think as he slowly turned and sat so that his injured side was away from the Queen. He could only take the pressure off it by leaning to his right, which he did, but still managed to keep somewhat of a respectable distance from the Queen. The wine he held in his right hand, between his open knees, his wrist resting on his right knee. The aliveation of pressure on the wound was heaven sent, he was sure of it.

But it was quickly followed by a promise that one day things might possibly be his and then a threat of actual pain if he didn't marry the girl. Antistia's tits, what kind of predicament had he gotten himself into? "They are," He responded to her first inquiry, and then considered her second once more as he dared to close his eyes during a small twirrl of dizziness that beset him.

He needed a way out that didn't end with death. Life wasn't particularly amazing but it was certainly better than death!

He exhaled and straightened his posture as he once again looked towards her.

Perhaps if Lord Amsel hadn't wanted his daughter impregnated he should have given her stewardess a chastity belt to dress her in.

He could only stare at the Queen for several painful seconds. She had him exactly where she wanted him, unbeknownst to him. While he had become suspicious that something was at play here, he could phantom it was little more than what it appeared to be on the surface. Marriage or pain. Pain was a step up from just rotting in the dungeons, and it forced him to wonder if death really would be the next step.

"If she is so rich," He began, "And the possibility of her father's mines should pass to her husband," Zaniel squinted softly as if considering he might be calling a bluff. A dangerous game to play, especially with the Queen. "Then she will have neigh a problem roping another young man into her web, I am sure Dishonor or none." His tone had been kept quiet as if only to speak between them but held the same stubbornness to it as it had previously. "No man chose to raise me when my mother bore me. This child will find it's mother has plenty of suitors."


He straightened away from her and turned his gaze to the polished floors, "In these Kingdoms even a Hydrokinetic as strong as I, even with a stained reputation would find work, so in hall honesty, My Queen, I find the only threat you hold over me is death." He looked up, "Is this your next step?"
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Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 05:09 PM
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Although Emelia schooled her reactions carefully, she was increasingly impressed by Pryor. She looked again at his shabby clothes and worn boots. Had he agreed to marry Amsel's daughter, he could be dressed like a prince by the end of next week. But still he refused, he wanted nothing to do with her. His refusal to give in to her temptations revealed to the Queen his potential as an ally. But, would his principles allow it? she found herself wondering. For he did seem to be afflicted by principles - the bane of so many an ambitious plan of hers. Principles were not honours, they were obstacles. Stubborn bloody obstacles forever getting in the way.

While she let him have his say, she listened carefully. Was it principles that caused him to reject the girl (and the chance of riches) or resentment? Whatever the case, he was as reluctant as a child treading barefoot through nettles. Even after he fell silent, and his gaze dropped to the floorboards at their feet, she kept on regarding him carefully. She let the moment play out while she considered his last few sentiments.

He was an orphan, raised by monks. He had no family, no land and no wealth. All he had was his abilities and her expression soured as she considered where those abilities seemed to have landed him now. He was wasted on Amsel.

"All this talk of death, Zaniel, is causing the atmosphere to grow morbid," she stated, quietly. "For now, let us see if we cannot find another way out of your ... predicament."

Before continuing, she tried to recall the precise details of Pryor's commission with the Amsel's in the first place. Again, the Lord had prattled on and on about it until said details all blurred in her mind. But no, it was a subterranean river that had flooded his mine. Amsel had been terrified, useless as a stuffed goat in the face of disaster. It was the man sitting barely a few feet away from her who had saved the day. And knew the truth she wanted to hear.

After a second to compile her thoughts, she continued to throw him his new alternative life line.

"Where was I?" she pondered aloud. "Oh yes, a third way out of this fix you're in. Look, here's the thing, Zaniel. I don't like Amsel any more than you do. I've never even met his slut of a daughter, less still do I care about the bastard whelp in her belly. As for whatever ham-fisted creature he set on you, I'll finish him off myself if that's what it takes.

So, instead of my making your life a misery by forcing you to marry her, why don't you tell me all about the disaster that happened at Amsel's mine. You must know about it, seeing as you fixed it. You see, I have a feeling Amsel lied to be about that business. I feel like he kept certain facts from me. I trust you're going to tell me the truth of the matter and if not ... well, you know already."

She flashed the man a smile and leaned forwards in her seat, making it clear she expected this story to be long and interesting.
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Zaniel Pryor
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 06:33 PM
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Don't think there is no danger simply because the water is calm . . .

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When a third option, not previously discussed, conveniently appeared just as Lord Amsel's accusations only appeared after Zaniel had conveniently fixed his mines, his attention turned again to the Queen. She even went as far as to lean in slightly once she had finished this new option- the one of supposedly finding a way out if he could give up information on the mine that had nearly been lost.

This, even if it didn't lead to a third option, was something Zaniel was willing to do.

He shifted to better accommodate his wounded side while keeping eye contact, then he started to speak, tilting his head just so as he did, "The mine was flooded when, against the miners and foreman's warnings, Lord Amsel insisted that they continue expanding. An underground river was clipped, the mine flooded. Ten men drowned," He had worked around their bloated bodies once he had lowered the water levels enough that they could be found, no longer trapped in the rocky walls and pits that had been chipped away.

"He pushed for expanding the mine in the wrong direction, fueled by his greed." He paused and considered his words- what he spoke now was only an elaborated version of what he had told her in the tavern. But then she had only asked about how the men were treated, right? How the mine were ran. Not what was found within them. "His silver mine has begun to produce more than just ore. As I drained the mine and began to control the river I could see diamonds glittering in the dim light." "Blue, Black, and the traditional Clear." It was quite the find.

"The men have all been sworn to secrecy, on threat of their lives and that of their families." This should have come as no surprise, the secrecy that was. If Lord Amsel's mine had reported diamonds, especially that it contained more than the traditional coloring, his taxes on the mine would no doubt skyrocket. Not to mention the most glittering of jewels would be expected as gratuity to his Queen.

"Having no family I doubt it was not coincidence that Lord Amsel's accusations surfaced only after I had helped to save the mine. " He had no doubt Lord Amsel was hoping for a swift judgement at his denial of the child being his.


It was straight to the point, no fuss. Lord Amsel had been holding out on the Queen and since Zaniel was the only person he could not have controlled by fear, he had sent his man after him. There was not an ounce of hesitation in his voice and it appeared that sharing this news effected his conscious very little. Then again, here he had no reason to lie.
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Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Apr 13 2017, 12:29 PM
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This time, Emelia was listening intently. While she listened, she watched Zaniel as he spoke noting the earnest tilt of the head and the continued struggle to make himself comfortable despite those injuries. To her relief, he was freely giving up the information she needed. And it fit.

Greed and warnings ignored. The deaths of innocent men. Workers cowed into silence. She could work with that. She allowed a smile to briefly flicker across her face before she reined her emotions back in. There was still a long way to go. Not to mention, whether there really were extra gems being discovered down in that mine. Amsell had told her nothing of that, the swindling shit that was.

But, first things first...

"So, let me get this clear in my head," she replied, once her guest had finished talking. "Amsel ignored the warnings of mining experts and expanded too close to a place he knew a river flowed. Men died as a result of his greed and negligence?"

She sat back and exhaled a deep breath she didn't even realise she'd been holding. Allowing herself a moment to compose her thoughts, she added:

"Is there anything else you can tell me? The names of the dead men and what became of their bodies?"
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Zaniel Pryor
 Posted: Apr 17 2017, 02:07 PM
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Don't think there is no danger simply because the water is calm . . .

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Zaniel straightened up after he had delivered his story, then he listened to the Queen repeat it back to him. "Yes, that is correct." He found the longer he rested, or tried to relax as much as he could in present company, that his wounds only made themselves more pronounced as what adrenaline he had rushing through his system faded.

But could he give her anymore information? Names, places of burial?

An expression of concentration settled on Zaniel as he tried to recall the information. He hadn't exactly gotten to know the miners beyond knowing which names to shout when he needed assistance. Now he found himself digging through layers of pain-filled haze and drunken nights to numb said pain in attempt to recall those names.

This took him longer to do, for it was not as easy to recall. Slowly he began to speak again, relaxing into a side-slouch once more, "Arden....Craig Arden,"

"I recall him being one of the last bodies pulled from the mine, but I couldn't tell you any other names..." He sighed softly, "For that it would be best to have someone speak to the survivors, if you could get them to speak at all." He wasn't about to suggest the Queen herself go and hunt these men down to question them face to face. He doubted any were stupid enough to make an attempt on her life directly, or that they would even get the chance, but at current none of them were happy with the nobility.

"As for the bodies themselves, they were in the process of digging graves within the mine, the last I had been in it. Unmarked or not I couldn't say."


His wounds were plenty aggravated and the long ride hadn't done them good. All that jostling around with the jerkish movements of the horse he'd been given for the ride had done a number on him. Finally, like a dam too weak to hold back it's flood, the first small leak appeared. What was no more than a tiny blood speck when he had entered the chamber, had begun to spread. It was nearing the size of a silver dollar.

But at least it wasn't dripping on the cushioned alcove's seat, right?
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Emelia Echtheit
 Posted: Apr 21 2017, 02:17 PM
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The man's discomfiture was demonstrated perfectly in his posture as he slumped to the side. Was it the pain of his body, Emelia wondered, or the pain of having to relive the arrogant hubris of Lord Amsell's dangerously run mine? Probably both, she decided. Either way, she waited until he finished speaking before politely excusing herself from the room for a moment. Because the longer this meeting went on, the worse Pryor's state became. If he died on her, then she'd never get the information she needed to bring Amsell down and get that mine under her own control.

Emelia made only a cursory attempt to disguise the hurry she was in as she crossed the presence chamber in small, rushed steps. She pulled open the side door used normally by the servants and found her Steward waiting outside. Distracting him from his usual persuit of tormenting the serving staff, she whispered some commands in his ear and sent him hurrying on his way.

Orders issued, she returned to the injured and increasingly frail looking man. "Pardon me, Zaniel. I have ordered my Steward to have rooms aired and prepared for you and my own personal physician is being summoned to tend your wounds."

She stopped just short of him, then lowered to her haunches so they were level. He'd given her only one name, but it was better than none. But there was no denying she needed more. Arranging a smile on her face, she met the man's gaze and spoke softly.

"I cannot thank you enough for the information you've already given me, and I can see clearly the cost of it," she said, letting her gaze rove over his injured side. "But what if I was to, perhaps, fill in the blanks of your testimony and add a few likely details you might have forgotten myself. After that, all I need is your signature on the document ... and for you to testify before my council."

She paused there, letting her request sink in. "I understand this may trouble you, somewhat. Perhaps even more than you're troubled now. There will, naturally, be financial compensation for the pains and travails that afflict you in my service."

Conciences were tricky things, Emelia found. Sometimes they were flexible, other times they sprung up out of the blue and suddenly prevented people from doing what she wanted them to do. But she had never met a conscience yet that couldn't be salved by the right amount of ready cash.
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