• Closed • The Facts of Life

Kai tries to make Mae focus on her studies...

Stronghold of education and learning, this fortress is in one of the coldest areas of Idalos and home to many knowledge seekers in a variety of disciplines. However, unknown to most, below the city are those who suffer for the sake of science. While all are welcome, not everyone will be treated as they expect.

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28th Trial of Cylus, 718
As light began trickling into the room, bathing the carpet and, eventually, the bed, covered in silk-cotton sheets, in warmth, the Talius scion finally decided it was time to move. He had watched the line of light move this morning for far too long - a rare occasion, for Virikai to laze away the morning in bed. But it was not entirely without point, for between him and the creeping light was his fiancée. Maebella had not stirred yet, and the lordling was very much enjoying the sight in front of him.

Gently, he raised himself to rest his body on his arm, and head in his hand. With his free hand, he stroked two fingers along her hairline, pushing the stray strands away from her face before continuing his trail down her cheek. “Bella,” he whispered, as he leaned in to kiss her forehead. “Wake up, sweetheart.

There was no desperate reason for either of them to get up: they had no classes, nor meetings, no events to attend, nor anyone who expected to see them. But they did both have their final exams fast approaching. Maebella was preparing to sit for her Letter in Literature, and Virikai was mere trials away from receiving his Certificate in Developmental Neurology.

With big plans to begin an extended research project which would lead to his Diploma, he needed to achieve high grades in these modules. He could not afford to risk his impending promotion to full Researcher at the Academy in order to carry out this work. It was enough that his father thought him foolish and arrogant to take on such a venture. But he would not disappoint him… not would he disappoint Yvithia. Nay, he would impress her with such intelligence that his worth and loyalty would never be doubted.

I have arranged for breakfast to arrive in about a quarter of a break.” He murmured as Maebella’s eyes finally fluttered open and her brow creased in confusion… or irritation… Virikai could not be quite sure. Whatever the emotion, Kai quite liked the adorable expression. It was so vulnerable, he knew he wouldn’t quite be able to take any of her disagreements seriously.

The plan for today is for us to work without any distractions from the outside world. We both have our final exams approaching… so you, my darling Bella,” he continued tracing his fingers along the girl’s flawless skin. Eventually, his movements were paused by the cream sheet covering the cerulean body. He did not allow it to stop him, however, and his hand slipped beneath and continued to work their way along Maebella’s curves. “This trial, you may consider yourself my prisoner… locked away in this room with me until I am satisfied you are prepared for your exam.
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A lingering touch trailing her hairline disturbed her dreams, leaving her in a confused state within waking and sleep. She mumbled something indistinct, trying to cling to the pleasant fragments of what her mind had conjured up. The feathery feel of lips on her forehead was more difficult to ignore, the touch soft but grounding to reality. Still, she fought the urge to wake, doing her utmost to stay in that pleasantly carefree place. However, she couldn't resist forever, especially not now that she'd been disturbed.

Her eyelids fluttered open, sight momentarily bleary before it adjusted to a view of Kai's face. Her brow creased briefly, trying to recall the situation that she was in before the wrinkle smoothed and her lips curled up sweetly. "Good morning... if it is still morning. Breakfast sounds nice," she murmured sleepily, eyes shutting briefly as she yawned, covering her mouth in a lazy gesture.

She listened to him, a slight frown as she considered his words, more than a little distracted by the path his fingers were tracing on her bare skin. A slight tremble rippled through her at his touch, gasping slightly as his hand moved beneath the covers, the girl half-heartedly trying to squirm away from him. Her cheeks flushed. She did her best not to let her mind dwell on possibilities. A quarter of a break wasn't that long and it didn't matter to her that slaves weren't allowed breathed the family's secrets because she didn't want to be caught in flagrante. What she did with her fiancé here was intimate and meant to be private; she wanted it to stay that way.

"Kai..." His name caught in her throat, the young woman biting her lip as she really made an effort to get away from him this time, clutching the bedclothes to her as she wiggled to sit at the edge of the bed. Why did the edge have to be so far away? Why was his bed so ridiculously large? "I should get dressed and make an effort to be... presentable," the Eídisi murmured, casting a quick glance back towards him although that was a risky endeavour; his gaze might well draw her back. Absentmindedly, she pushed her hair back behind her ears, her gaze questioning and a little wary. This certainly wasn't the first time that she'd awoken beside him but she still wasn't accustomed to it. There was a novelty to it and thus, ridiculously, she was still shy... at least in the aftermath.

"I take it that I can do that? You weren't planning on keeping me prisoner in your bed all trial, were you?" she asked, corner of her mouth quirking up. Maebella couldn't resist teasing him a little, although the show of humour was a way of covering her nervousness that her attempted "escape" might irritate him.
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The lordling smirked, “Yes, it is still morning. I do not allow myself to waste half the day lazing in bed, and you will be subject to the same rules, my darling,” he murmured, softening the blow of his words with more feather-light kisses across the woman’s forehead. His smile widened when he felt, and then heard, her tepid attempts to stop his ministrations, and the knock on the door was just in time for him to stop her from leaving the bed. “Enter.

The door opened a fraction, enough to allow one of the slaves to tip-toe in. Virikai intended to give no further commands, and he barely paid attention to the presence of the slave as he continued his gentle, teasing attentions with his lips and fingers. He noted the obvious disapproval, and discomfort, of his partner, but he did not let that stop him. She was not used to having slaves around, he assumed, but Virikai had gown up with them, they were... nothing more than part of the furniture to him. Seeing but not watching, hearing but not listening. He was confident in his actions despite the presence of another in the room.

And, if he was honest, he found a small thrill in the thought of exhibitionism.

The slave was in and out - having left the tray of breakfast materials on a table in the corner - without a sound or even a glance over to his Master’s morning activities. The sound of the door opening and closing again was what made Virikai continue speaking. “Presentable? For who? If you are planning on impressing me, well let it be known that I appreciate you just,” his kisses moved south to her cheek, “as,” and then to her jaw, “you” her neck, “are,” her breast.

With a sly smile, he threw the covers off of himself and stood, caring little for his bare form, and padded over to the tray, which he lifted and quickly returned to the bed. Placing it on the end, he returned to sit beside his fiancé, still smiling at her bemused expression. “You and I have very different interpretations of the word ‘prisoner’ if you think I plan on letting you leave.” He poured out the already infused tea into two cups and asked how she liked her brew. “But if you would prefer the reminder, I like to consider myself an expert in certain types of… knot-work.

When the tea was made to her liking, he prepared his own and then turned to the eggs and toast before them. Simple on the stomach, but filling enough for them to work without complaint. “We have work to do… and we can achieve just as much here as we could in an over-crowded library,” he explained primely between bites. “Eat, it’s getting cold and lunch is still some trials off… I’d hate to see you wither away.
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Despite his softened words, the young woman pouted, protesting weakly, "I wasn't going to laze in bed all morning! It's just that I had a busy night, you know that." A smirk crept onto her lips, unable to stop herself from smiling at her allusions, the curvature flirtatious even though she should really have been discouraging him as she'd intended to do. The thing was that even if some part of her mind said that no, she didn't wanted to be dealing with his ministrations right now, the rest of it and the entirety of her body would be quite pleased to entwine herself with him. It was unlikely that he'd want to go along with any situation where she had anything that approached control. Kai liked control, especially over her, which was exhilarating in many respects and frustrating in others.

When the slave entered, she wasn't capable of having a word pass her lips, her body seeming to boil from within as the full force of her embarrassment attempted to erupt through her skin. She couldn't blush enough and foolishly, Maebella felt ready to cry, eyes gleaming with unshed tears elicited by her humiliation. The scholar had to bite her lip, fully aware that her fiancé would be displeased if she began to sob and she didn't want to cry over something so stupid either.

The slave left and he kissed her, a display of tenderness perhaps but the young woman couldn't deny that she was upset with him. Hence, when he rose to fetch the tray, she hardly glanced in his direction, instead sitting up and drawing the covers up to her chin, folding her legs up so that she could hug her knees to her chest. Resting her chin on her knees, the covers cushioning it, the Eídisi let her eyes move to the young man, white gaze scanning his face as she tried to determine how this was going to go.

"I thought you meant that I was a prisoner in your room; it's as much your domain as your bed is. Not to mention that if I can actually move and dress myself, I might manage to concentrate. You did want me to study, didn't you?" she retorted softly, an eyebrow quirked upwards, almost a challenge. Explaining the matter of tea, she moved the cup so that it was in ready reach, frowning as she considered the breakfast spread before her. "If you expect me to stay in bed with you and study then I'm sorry to tell you, but I don't think it would be a very study-conducive environment; I'm liable to become quite distracted. You won't though, which hardly seems fair," Maebella added with a grumble.

The youth wasn't much inclined to unfold herself and indulge his whims right now but she was hungry and thus, her resistance to the temptation of the tantalising tableau before them was quite low. With evident reluctance, she reached out and began to help herself. Chewing with pensive slowness, her eyes narrowed slightly as she regarded him. "I'm sure as a medical student, you're aware that that's a highly unlikely situation. I ate last night and you know it. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to feed me up like an animal for the slaughter," she told him in clipped tones as she ate, careful to avoid speaking while she had food in her mouth, slightly shielding it with her hand after she swallowed in case something was visibly caught in her teeth.

She tucked hair back behind her ear, a fleeting glance thrown over to the chairs where her bag sat. "I didn't imagine that you'd enjoy running around after me to see to my needs like some sort of slave. After all, if I can't leave this bed, you have to fetch things for me that I might need," the young woman declared, smugness in her voice and a mischievous glint in her eye. Considering what lay ahead of her though, the Eídisi sighed. "It isn't as simple for me to study things as it is for you, you realise that, don't you? I'm doing literature, Kai. Medicine is easier in some ways, I think. You have less speculation, more rigid answers. Obviously, there are hypotheses that haven't been proven but you have more to anchor it, I suppose."

It wasn't a conversation that she'd had with him because it wasn't something she wanted to admit aloud, but at this point, she'd hoped to be further along in her studies. Cylus was practically over and she hadn't achieved what she'd intended to yet; it was a source of shame for her because she felt like a failure. Chewing her lip and dropping her gaze, the young woman wondered whether he could pick up on it or not. Considering the mark he bore of his eye as a reminder of what he was, he could probably crawl around inside her being and discover far more than she would have liked him to know.
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Oh, lynch the sadistic soul who kept you awake last night,” the lordling replied between mouthfuls. The fast quips were one of the things he loved most about Maebella - Virikai doubted he could ever grow tired of this. “Oh, no… that just won’t do, Bella.” Virikai’s expression became stern, his voice low with mock warning. “Maybe you do need my help with your self-control… all you have to do is ask, sweetheart.” The idea, remarkably, excited him, and he growing ever-more pleased with himself for the decision to stay in bed.

Finished?” Returning his plate to the tray, if his partner was also finished, he would remove the tray from the bed, pausing only to called the requested back from one of the chairs. “Who knew the sweet, darling Maebella Arval could be so demanding,” he muttered as he threw himself back onto the bed dramatically, stealing a kiss from his fiancée as he dropped the bag between them.

Though his good mood lessened somewhat when Maebella’s comments seemed to compare their degrees in terms of difficulty. He did not, for a start, see why such a serious conversation needed to ruin the general jovial mood, especially after the fun and gentle night before. He could easily come back with a number of arguments against her flawed logic: the answers, while rigid, were not always so easily clear cut when there were a number of compounding variables. Everything depended on context and the individual: x did not always equal y. But Maebella was more intelligent than that. he brushed it off as a flippant comment, deciding, instead, to keep the mood light.

So out of character. What was this woman doing to him?

Teach me, then,” he replied, plastering a smirk onto his face. He reached down and pulled Maebella’s bag up to rest on his thighs and flipped it open, pulling out the items inside. “I know very little of Literature. It has been a some arcs, maybe even a decade, since I have studied it… and I cannot truly say that I had any interest in the study of plays, prose, and certainly not poetry.” No, that required far too much insight into emotions to truly appreciate and understand, and that had never been his strong point. But if it got Maebella to study, he would listen.

Let’s play a game,” he finally decided, “For every new thing I learn, for every interesting thing you tell me, I’ll give you a little reward.” He whispered as he shuffled down the bed and lent on his arm, head resting once more him his hand. Dropping the study materials onto the girl’s lap, he then started tracing light patterns on the outside of her thigh, punctuating his promise suggestively. “I'm waiting...
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"Lynch indeed," she murmured with a smirk, her mood noticeably improving, rolling her eyes at his next remark and laughing. Her fiancé was certainly someone who exhibited all the hallmarks of iron self-control although she'd noticed that it had slipped a bit recently around her, especially when bare or thinly veiled flesh was involved. It made Maebella smile to herself, satisfied that when it came down to it, he wouldn't have the control that he professed to have and if he did... well then, she was clearly failing at something, wasn't she?

Finishing her meal, she let him take the tray, smiling sweetly as he went to retrieve her bag. The sweet smile held, the young woman endeavouring her expression as innocent as possible, eyes widening in what she hoped was a guileless manner. "Not I, Virikai. I'd never be demanded. I'm sweet and darling as you say," the Eídisi purred, her tone full of honey as she fluttered her eyelashes at him.

The young woman didn't necessarily believe that her degree was lesser than his own, not in subject matter, although obviously their levels differed. However, she could see from the brief flicker of change in his expression that he disapproved of her words. Unconsciously, she tried to make her body smaller, shrinking into herself as if to make herself a smaller target for a physical blow. However, he didn't berate her, his joviality seeming to return and her body relaxed, her expression curious as she considered his words, head cocked.

"Teach you? I don't even know where to begin. I'm not much of a teacher in any case," she admitted, idly curling a lock of hair around her finger, thoughtful. Her eyebrows rose, surprised on his emphasis on poetry. It wasn't that he disapproved of it - at least she didn't think so - but there was something noteworthy about his lack of knowledge in that area. Unfortunately, she wasn't sure why it was noteworthy, she just felt that he'd set it specially apart from the other two categories he'd mentioned. However, her puzzling over the mater was interrupted by his rather... intriguing suggestion.

A blush rose in her face, lips moving soundlessly as if she wished to question what he meant but already having a idea, which was only confirmed by his light touch. Her teeth worried at one side of her lower lip, head bending as she fished out a particular notebook from amidst the things he'd dropped in her lap. She shot him a brief, questioning glance from below her lashes before she began to flick through the pages, a little self-conscious about the varying condition of her writing: sometimes she printed, although her lettering slanted and other times she wrote in cautious, childish Cursive.

"You're a tease, Virikai Talius," the scholar murmured almost shyly, trying to find a good starting point in her notes. A lot of it was information that hadn't been forgotten per se but had temporarily slipped her mind, there if she'd had reason to call it up but not as readily available as some other information. She ran her finger down a page, dancing over words that she could hardly remember copying down.

"Okay, well first of all, literature isn't as limited as you might think. It's an art so it can come in a variety of forms and not all of them are written," she began, pushing hair back from her face as her voice changed, gaining greater confidence as her enthusiasm increased, lighting up her features. "Many tales weren't originally designed to be written down but were recorded later while others- Ah yes, here. Not all languages have a written component so for them, oral narratives are their literature. The Biqaj are one because you can't write Rakahi and um... my research showed that slaves in Athart have a spoken language called Dehasin. I imagine most of them probably aren't literate," she commented, tracing a finger along her notes as she spoke.

Her white eyes flicked to the young man, wondering if she would get her reward now or if she should keep going. As far as her brain and mouth were concerned though, she wasn't going to shut up yet, especially when she had her notes in front of her to double check things; it seemed like a very good form of revision.

"So you can have oral stories that are simply told again and again in simple words or you can have a more complex form, usually rhyming, which is how you get things like balance. I've written... oh yes, I remember, rhyming makes it easier to remember details accurately, especially when done to music. Those who keep oral histories often use that form, especially if they can't afford to record them physically," Maebella added, her voice growing more excited as she spoke. "Not everything is recorded by those who have the power to do so because they aren't all considered worthy. It's often a class thing so those who are poorer can have a really rich story and ballad tradition but nobody pays any attention. Some of it can be rather rough around the edges but it should be given a chance. All literary forms should be accepted in my opinion and we should judge the merit of each individual work rather than judging based on where they originated or the form they take."

The young woman let out a huff of breath, smiling crookedly, almost sheepishly, when she realised how much she'd been talking. She barely managed to stop herself from blurting an apology for her enthusiasm; she wasn't allowed do that anymore.
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Everyone has to start somewhere, Bella. I’m not expecting you to be an expert lecturer within the next five minutes.” Virikai was of the belief that, if Maebella talked to him about her studies, she would either, at worst, remember more of it or, at best, understand it much better. And it was true that he was somewhat interested in what she was studying, particularly the practical applications of studying Literature. He had defended the subject in front of her before, but that didn’t mean he completely understood it.

Though he doubted her attention would be entirely focused on her studies while his fingers traced against the soft skin of her thigh. He retracted his touch as Maebella began to try to formulate an utterance. Occasionally, Virikai nodded along and hummed his understanding. Phatics had never been a particular strong skill for the young lordling, but he was learning, and it pushed Maebella to delve deeper into her explanation.

Every so often, she glanced in his direction. In her eyes at these points was an emotion he could not completely decipher. It was not that she was checking to see if he was listening… something else. Colours swirled around her, Yvithia’s Blessing helping him along until he realised she was looking for approval and - oh..! Rewards.

Smiling slyly, he leaned forward to press butterfly kisses down on her inner thigh, the same soft spot he had been attentive towards earlier. The hitch of her breathing every time Virikai touched her there was… exquisite. “But would it not be possible for these spoken languages to have a written form even if they don’t have their own alphabet? Using another alphabet, for example? Isn’t it… not to sound derogatory, but rather primitive? That they have not found a way to record histories or knowledge?

Maebella was now well into her stride, and it endeared her to Virikai even more - just how her passion for learning could rival his own. “So what you’re saying is that hey remember these histories and tales through the use of poetry, effectively? Intriguing.” He kissed her again, this time capturing her lips as bounty for teaching him something new. “But that does not explain how the uneducated might be able to learn from these oral traditions. To do this, to remember them must require significant intelligence, not to mention what it would require to generate them. But this is straying into the area of linguistics too…
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"I wasn't trying to suggest anything of the sort. I simply meant that I'm going to have my failings so you'll have to be patient with me. That's all I meant," Maebella explained, batting him playfully on the arm, a smirk curving her mouth. However, once she started talking, the show of cheeky humour fled, replaced instead by enthusiasm and a sense of wonder. The fact that his touch was withdrawn didn't bother her, a simple show of verbal praise more than sufficient to please her when she glanced his way.

When her reward finally came, it caught her off guard, drawing a soft gasp from Maebella as his lips brushed against tender skin. It made things burst in her mind, bright emotion exploding within it, blotting out all thought and leaving her with the mental equivalent of spots lingering in her vision, thoughts bearing gaps. She managed to carry on, in spite of the distraction, in spite of the short gasps of breath, respiration stuttering as she struggled to remember how to talk and breathe at the same time while her body thrilled with pleasure. He provided her with questions and she did her best to focus on them, to ground herself in words and the information that they sought. It helped that she had her notes as without them, she couldn't conjure the information and formulate sentences all at once.

"There's a professor from Rynmere, a Professor Stane, who's visiting and has been giving a number of lectures recently about the oral tradition. I've attended them all - I met him personally last night actually - and I've taken many notes. I can paraphrase much of it although some of it is quite apparent when you really consider it," she explained, running her fingers across the pages as she flicked through them, a hitch in her breathing that she tried to stifle.

"Writing something down only records the basic meaning of something. There are certain things that are incommunicable or nigh on impossible to record accurately in a way that conveys everything that's intended. Words alone can convey imagery, sometimes quite beautifully but they can't convey emotion, tone, that sort of thing. Think of a public speaker. The mediocre one can deliver fanciful words that sound right but the best one can make you feel how they want you to feel. It's in their voices, how they convey it. Do you speak softly at certain points to convey a particular meaning? Allow their voices to boom? Gesture grandly with their hands? It's why a storyteller or a bard can hold such sway over a crowd."," she explained, sweeping her hair back from her face just moments before he caught her mouth with his own.

The young woman gave a short humph of protest, mildly irritated that she hadn't been allowed to continue, before she leaned into the kiss, eager to taste him and willing to put the notion of study aside for the moment. When he broke it, she felt a mixture of relief and disappointment, a slight frown on her face as she tried to come to terms with the feelings.

"You want me to teach you things, you say and then you go out of your way to distract me. How very wicked of you," the scholar teased, leaning away from a little, glancing at him askance. "As I was going to say before you so rudely interrupted, attempting to convey the sort of meaning that I was talking about, pictograms would be a crudely primitive method. Mere words would have shortcomings. I can understand why some books come with illustrations."

She chewed on her lip, considering what he'd said with great thoughtfulness. "I don't know if it's a preference for oral rather than an unwillingness to record things in a physical format. I suppose there's something stagnant about it. A written record doesn't leave room for additions, evolution. It does have disadvantages though because it can be embellished, misconveyed, biased. But you can learn things by rote, I suppose, not necessarily word for word but enough to explain the majority, the gist. I think that's more the case for storytelling. If it's through song or poetry, I think it's more accurate," the Eídisi explained. "Rhyme can help with such things so as I said, poetry and song, but also mnemonics and the like. Anything that might aid remembrance. I believe that they are educated in a way, bards and storytellers. They might be illiterate, they might not necessarily have the same education that we have but I've heard that they're trained extensively, for arcs."
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Once in her element, Maebella no longer needed comments or questions from Virikai to set her off talking. And, while she was talking, she was learning. If she was not learning, she was confirming previously known information for herself, and adding new viewpoints and values to the very subjective art of studying literature.

The young scion continued to nod and murmur wordless sounds of agreement to indicate that his attention was on her. His physical attentions were lessened while she spoke - their study period was supposed to be fun for them both, but the Talius scion was also keen for his fiancée to retain the information in preparation for her final exams. If she walked into that exam and all she could thing of was Virikai’s fingers running up and down the inner portion of her thigh, then his efforts would have been for naught.

Lowered himself back down, Virikai’s head resting on his arm, which in turn was rested on the pillow, and chose to just listen. His free hand trailed up her arms and into the loose pale locks of hair, fingers entwining themselves in the strands and brushing through them. The physical contact, he hoped, would not be nearly as distracting, but Kai found himself unwilling - unable - to completely let go and remove all physical and sensual contact. He did nothing more, merely listening and enjoying the sound of his future wife’s passion.
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