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The rules of engagement. (Syhera)

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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16th of Ashan, 716
10th Break
It had been a good night. For the first time in a long time, sleep found Peake without needing a single droplet of wine. He still drank himself to sleep, though, for it was a tradition in his own lonely household. A hot tub in the morning, some beard lotion and a minor trim prepared him to tackle the day with the same strength as usual. Marching proudly down the street, spitting on beggars and looking for conflict that nobody wanted to fight against him, soon enough he found himself in the dock area. The smell of salt invaded his nostrils, a sensation that still had an inspirational meaning despite having been in the area many times before. The tall nobleman often dreamt with the sea, calm and placid waters under a dark sky filled with stars that fell until they drowned in the water. Perhaps they were fireflies. There, he found himself dancing alone, spinning and laughing in the loneliness. The sea hold something from him, perhaps part of his heart, yet he couldn’t quite place as to why he liked the sea so much.

The port was busy this morning, or perhaps it was busy every morning. Carts came here and there, wagons dragged by horses or mules, carrying stock and crates, sacks and various items. There was shouting, laughing, and distant music being played over the sound of the waves. The mood was upbeat, something that Peake couldn’t quite understand. His eyes watched the dirty features, the torn and rugged clothes, the trembling and mistreated hands, and only saw a life undervalued. His hands weren’t much better, perhaps too being a bit scarred due to wielding a mace and a shield like a fool. However, there was only greatness awaiting for him as the day passed. Once day, he would become a Baron, ruling over Andaris and the businesses that others sweated in. In a way, he felt envious of these commoners, whom despite their misfortune and simple origins, still managed to smile and show joy that Peake couldn’t. Nevertheless, he paid them no heed as he once again looked down at the small paper that he had in the palm of his hand. Inside it stood the address of the business in question, and the place of residence of the woman that he had condemned to be his wife.

Syhera had struck him as an elegant woman, despite her obvious financial troubles. Having browsed this very morning in the Treasury’s files for her, he had discovered just how bare her pockets were. Her income was low, something he would’ve never guessed by how gorgeous she looked last evening. She had disguised well, in a way, and put on a mask that hid her true origins, a mask that fitted her perfectly, in fact. In a way, he felt a bit of pity for her. She would’ve made a great lady, as she surely had the elegance and refinement that many others lacked – even more than Peake himself. At last, he spotted the shop in question, which he watched for a couple of bits. He was nervous, in a way. Just remembering how Syhera reacted last night made him feel sick, as if he had done something far more horrible than he believed. In a way, he did. He knew for a fact how much he had spited his father, the man becoming so mad he had sent his servants thrice this morning to try to escort Peake into House Andaris. It was mostly that constant interruption what brought him out here, today.

At last, he moved, heading towards the shop’s entrance and walking inside, closing the door behind him. “Greetings.” He said, as he immediately started gazing around the strange collection of items for sell. The multiple good luck charms reminded him of what he wore on his neck, a simple carved bone that was perhaps the only thing he held with him at all times. It meant nothing for him, merely an item that had been with him for so long that it just became a part of him. Maybe it was purchased from here, who knew.
word count: 713
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Syhera Ki'hadi
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  • 16th of Ashan, 716 Arc
    "...Hm."

    Arrangements needed to made, and not of the wedding kind. Syhera tossed the Gazette onto her table and lowered herself into a chair. She had gotten little sleep, using her time to contact her friends. To see what they knew of the lord. She had taken him as rash, perhaps a bit childish, impulsive, but his reputation was far darker. A tax collector, a steward, a man hungry for power. One informant had talked of his cruelty, but wouldn't go into details. Who knew someone so unreasonable would make up a story so silly about pigs? He was desperate. He had to be, to have pulled a stunt like this.

    The Biqaj was no longer angry. Worried about dealing with such a man? Yes. Scared of being forced into an actual marriage? No. There was no way their families would accept. She was a poor girl. Her and her mother did better than some, but looking around the room, at the simplicity of it all... she could offer Peake nothing. Marriages among the upper class were based on the mutual benefit of each party, not how charming or pretty someone was. And for once, she was relieved.

    Peake had bought himself some time the best way he knew how. What else would he need with her? Hera scooted her chair back and opened a window. She began to get ready, dressing herself in a blue dress, and began to do her hair. When that was complete, she lined her lids with kohl and used her mother's lipstick. She heard footsteps downstairs and dismissed it. She was busy.

    She grabbed the contract from the night before and scribbled a few more clauses, tucking the paper into the wooden chest at the foot of her bed.
    The shop door tinged at the promise of a new customer, and a woman with brown hair organized things with patient fluency. When she turned, she looked at the man in the doorway - a behemoth with thick brows and a beard as dark as night. He seemed to block out the sun, but she looked happy all the same. She waved him in with her hand, and set down the figurine in her hand, "Come in, come in. Don't be shy now," The woman's Rakahi accent was thick, and freckles dotted her cheeks. Her hair was soft with curls, and her silver eyes were lined with dark kohl. She looked something of a gypsy, and she spoke quickly, "Are you here to buy? My daughter can help."

    Men came into the shop often, and it was something quite normal. They bought things for their mothers, female friends, or mistresses. Whatever the occasion, Gwynthera often referred the younger patrons to her daughter, who had a much better way with words. She didn't seem to know who Peake was, and seemed oblivious to his wealth. She excused herself, and began pattering to the back, walking halfway up the stairs and shouted Rakahi at her daughter, "Hera Ki'hadi! Come and do you job. There are customers."

    Footsteps pattered on the around, and a girl called back in common, "Who?"

    "I do not know. Does it matter?"

    The sound of a door swinging open, and a soft sigh,"It always matters." Syhera looked at her mother staring up at her.

    "Come now," the older woman said, "I need to go to the docks to meet with the merchants and buy things for dinner. Sell some pretty things, yes?"

    Smoothing her dress, Hera followed her mother faithfully, but hesitated at the end of the hall. She peeked around the corner and she took a deep breath. There stood her fiance, waiting. Gwynthera, as distracted as ever, chatted about prices and things for only a moment and went to step outside.

    Peake awaited. He had found her. And soon, too. She had been hoping he would have waited a few days like most men after a date, not show up at her home and place of business within hours of an engagement. Syhera moved silently into the room, watching as her mother disappeared through the door, "You found me. I am surprised you looked." She smiled, and straightened up some handmade necklaces on their display. "Why are you here, love?"
word count: 720
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Peake was not a sentimental man, something pretty obvious in him. The various items he met with his somewhat uninterested eyes didn’t speak anything to him. Charms, jewelry, talismans, necklaces… Nothing but a waste of money, remnants of something people were too dumb to carry in their mind, or too weak. Instead, they wore this junk around their necks, around their wrists or their fingers. Perhaps they did it to feel the weight of the memory it was associated, the weight of the gift someone gave them so that they can remember properly. He wasn’t surprised as to why Syhera was as poor as she was, especially after seeing just what she tried to make her living with. Her beauty and refinement was what she truly sold, a doll hidden behind a counter, selling false tickets in the form of these rubble. Quickly dismissing the stock, his eyes laid on the older Biqaj, to which he offered a jolly smirk, somewhat thankful of her warm welcome. Not many shopkeepers were as polite and friendly as the female seemed, mostly because other shopkeepers probably saw more customers than the older woman did. Peake didn’t say a thing, as instead he waltzed towards the counter.

He couldn’t shake off that smile from his face, that expression that mixed amusement and joy alike, yet the reason was unbeknownst to him. Instead of trying to decipher it, he leaned forward and supported himself with his crossed arms onto the counter, head tilted as he looked around with brows raised. Just like he thought, the older Biqaj immediately hollered for her daughter, surely that being Syhera, the doll that was truly the item sold in this shop. She wasn’t a whore, far from that. However, he could already imagine that most customers that came into the shop came for her, and not for some cheap jewelry. Beauty sold more than quality. You could have the prettiest blade in the realm be the most brittle one, yet you could expect thousands of orders just for its beauty. Men and women alike died for beauty, chasing it, admiring it. That’s why Andaris was built upward, why houses and mansions aspired to grow higher and higher, to touch the skies, to call for attention and show their beauty to the eyes. Syhera was, in her own way, a gemstone.

When Syhera finally showed up, Peake couldn’t help but change his smirk into a cocky grin, once again pleased with the sight of Syhera. Blue was her color, indeed, as it contrasted greatly with her red hair, enhancing the curves of her body in a simplistic yet still sensual way. It was truly a blessing to look at her, he thought, as at last he offered a light bow of his head for her in a silent greeting. At last, Syhera’s mother left the store, leaving the fake couple on their own. Chuckling at her jest, Peake shook his head as he looked around, in silence, still leaning on the counter. “Beautiful mother you’ve got there. I can see where your beauty came from.” Peake turned to face her, once again in that cocky and amused way of his, at least the one that was present in him this morning. “You look very pretty today. I didn’t expect any less from my future lady.” A light scoff escaped him, before he sighed and finally straightened himself up, standing in his usual excessive height. Without any further talk, he began fidgeting with the pouch that lied on his belt.

Extracting ten golden nel from his pouch and leaving the coins stacked on top of the counter, he tilted his head to the side as he regained that smirk of his. “Walk with me. It’s not like you’re going to sell much, anyway.”
word count: 651
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Syhera Ki'hadi
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  • 16th of Ashan, 716 Arc
    Peake was watching her with his cocky grin. Smirking and complimenting her. And so the dance began, with Syhera listening to his compliments and waiting. When he placed the stack of money on the table, the Biqaj watched his hands pull away, and the gold waiting. "Are you bribing me, or showing off?" she said at last, walking calmly to one of the draws and retrieving a brass key. If the move insulted her, she didn't show it. Money was money, and she valued her time. And Peake had a lot of money, and more still, if and when he was to become baron. This was simply the way things were done.

    She weaved around the counter and went to the display window, stretching up and flipping a sign to show that the shop was closed. She went to the door, and opened it, waiting, "This shop is my mother's," for some reason or the other, she felt the need to clarify, "I look over it, but this is not what I do. When I can get away, I am a navigator for hire." If Peake had looked up her place of residence, it was only a matter of time before he found out about her real gig, if he didn't know already. "It makes good money when I can get it. Better than most tax collectors, so I hear," A smile pulled at her lips as she revealed her knowledge about him, and she shut the door behind them. The lock clicked when she turned the key, "Just not better than lords."

    The outside was chilly, the ground slick with frost. When Syhera breathed, she could see her breath and she crossed her arms to hold in her warmth. She walked a few paces away from the building, and looked about. People were milling around, carts filled with stuffed sacks, bales of straw and blankets rolled down the street. The clucking of chickens echoed down the street, and she knew how he must see her. Compared to the gala the night before, she knew how her lifestyle paled in comparison. The color of her dress stood out, uncommon. Blue, not black or white or brown. Many of her neighbors would need months to save up for something like this, and here Syhera was, walking with a lord who just threw down 10 gold nel for nothing.

    Maybe Peake was right. Maybe, in a dark way, she was lucky.

    She held out her arm for him to take, smirking, "You were smart last night," 'In a way.' She struggled to find the words, "I think I could have helped you without the theatrics, but success is success. Gojira was furious, but what is your next move? You have only bought so much time."

    Men and women passed them on the street, a few faces staring. Syhera recognized a few, and she looked away. Still unsure what Peake's plan for her in all this was, she'd rather not have strangers asking too many questions. She could imagine the gossip now, about her walking with a lord. Or worse, her walking with a tax collector. Other businesses would either shun her or try to butter her up. They might try to have her talk to Peake.

    The idea upset her. If their books were crooked, shame on them. She did not know this man, and wouldn't ask for favors if she could help it. It was then Syhera decided to go about things as normal, "I haven't told my mother what you did. Does your father know?"

    Remembering Peake mention the man last night, in his initial introduction about setting up Gojira and the young lord, she could only imagine if news had traveled. It was in the Gazette after all. Syhera looked up at the man beside her, intrigued. What a web he as weaved.
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Peake did not take her arm when it was offered. An offering was charity, something that people gifted, a move to please one’s ego. Peake needed no charity, and instead of taking her arm, he took her with his arm, wrapping her behind the neck with his arm and pressing her closer to him while they walked, his black silk cloak including her into the warmth. It’s not like she could complain, not without calling out negative attention to herself. She was smart, after all. Much more than many other women he had met. “Pay collectors like me get much more than many others. The better a man is at the job, the less he has to do. I deal with wealthy individuals, reason why you’ve never seen me in your miserable shop, or your mothers. Whatever you want to call it.” Peake squeezed her against him, smiling widely at a bunch of peasants that must’ve recognized him, mostly doing so to spite them. They all died of envy, deep inside, seeing just how different their lives were in comparison. Peake didn’t consider himself as lucky as they believed he was.

The day was as beautiful as he believed, or perhaps it was this beautiful because he was in a good mood. The closer they walked towards the waters, the more the small stalls full of fresh fish and old sticking fish camouflaged with salt appeared, between them others selling shellfish, vegetables, supplies. There was a bit of everything, a last temptation towards those that were to embark on a ship for whatever amounts of time, the first sight for those that freshly arrived to land and looked for something to spend their coin in. Men were animals, rabid creatures that were moved by lust and greed. Peake was no different, although his mask was torn compared to everyone else’s. “My father knew it bits after I announced it. He surely knows you too by now, or it won’t be long before he does. Like you said, the word has spread everywhere.” As Peake and his fiancé walked in the path between the walls made of stalls filled with diverse stock, Peake directed his feet and his woman’s towards one of them, shiny red apples claiming his attention. “Wonderful stock, my friend. May I take an apple for my fiancé here?” Like a serpent, his voice had changed to a kind and friendly tone.

His eyes, however, did not. They fulminated the grown man with their intensity, the shopkeeper immediately witnessing both the fine materials of the man’s cloak, and beauty of the female and the color of her dress, and he knew that these were not customers. These were important people, far more important than himself in the eyes of the King. Intimidated by their clothing, by their beauty, by their noble presence and their wealth, he man merely gestured towards his stock with a shy smile, letting them take whatever they wanted. Peake chuckled as he captured an apple he liked, showing it to the keeper and nodding towards him with a smile before he kept walking. Just like every animal, men were also scared to their very core. It was that what made them put on their masks. Peake was, once again, no different. Rubbing the apple against his shirt, he gave it a big bite, which he enjoyed with a light moan. Afterwards, he’d hover the bit apple before the female’s mouth, offering her a bite as well.

After he swallowed the delicious fruit, Peake spoke at last. “Ever since I turned seventeen arcs, my father has tried to marry me. Here, there, offered to whoever he deemed fit. Just like this apple, I was a stock for him to profit from. I don’t want to marry, especially not to that hag from last night, which threatened to rape me by the way.” At least, not after his woman and the child she carried were sent off somewhere, be it on a distant land or into a grave. There wasn’t enough alcohol in his system to think about it. “And you’re going to help me. We’re going to drag these negotiations for cycles and cycles if needed be, until the day I decide to marry. Knowing you, you won’t complain.” He chuckled once again, before he bit the apple once more, with his hungry and powerful jaw. It violence against fruit was considered a crime, Peake would’ve been executed long ago. Especially if someone witnessed how he treated watermelons. Soon enough, the couple were witnessing how the ocean opened before them, blocked of course by the multiple ships, vessels and docks that separated the city from the nothingness of the ocean. Inhaling deeply, he enjoyed the clear scent brought by the sea breeze, not the smell of putrid fish or the excrement that decorated some parts of the way walked.

“The deal is simple. You play along, and you get to brag around town that you’re going to be a baroness in the future. You won’t have to show your cleavage to men like the one you pretended to enjoy talking to last night. Instead, you only need to show them a plain face, and they will be lusting for you – or your mother’s – stock. You get favors, gifts, and pretty much anything you want from anyone else in exchange of nothing. Well, not nothing…” Peake halted his steps, and leaned down to slowly try to kiss Syhera’s cheek, taking a good amount of time to do so. Either if she allowed him or not, he would rise again with a smile. “You pretend that this marriage is something for real, and not just a show. You won’t have to see me, salve perhaps for the occasional ceremony in which I have to drag you along. I didn’t chose you just because you were beside me – I chose you because you are smart enough to keep your mouth shut, especially when you profit from doing so. So that’s your task. To keep your mouth shut.”

Halting to admire the work others did around ships, loading, unloading, talking, or laughing, Peake looked down at his fiancé. “What do you think, my dearest?”
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Syhera Ki'hadi
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  • 16th of Ashan, 716 Arc
    Finding her arm ignored, Syhera was pulled close to Peake and pressed against his side. Her skirt tugged slightly as it was pressed between them, but the cloak was a nice warmth. With a deliberate look to his arm, the red head relaxed. People watched them closely and with some reluctance, she slipped her hand behind his back, holding onto his waist. To an onlooker, the two must have been appeared quite friendly, wrapped around one another. As they stepped, Syhera found she had to move quicker to keep up with him, but it was worth it. She wanted to see how Peake behaved, to see how unreasonable he was, but didn't want to provoke it.

    She did not deny it, when he called her family's shop miserable. The Biqaj was no fool. She knew business was slow, and often needed to find a way to lure customers in, and struggled to keep it afloat. She had plans... plans to change it, renovate it, one day. When her mother handed it down to her and would eventually put it in her name, things would be revolutionized. Her mother's heart had never truly been in it, and stayed with the sea. If Syhera helped it flourish by giving it a makeover, there would be no ill blood between then. She had been hoping the connections she made during her time as a navigator and diplomat for the store would transfer over eventually. With Peake's engagement it might. Might also make people weary and fearful of her. Did she want people to fear her because of him, or to fear her because of what she could do?

    A thought for another day, perhaps.

    Peake tugged her along, his voice suddenly changing. Seeing him so... charismatic made her lift an eyebrow. So, this is what he could do. She was not the only one with ways to convince the public. The man selling apples had been caught off guard. She could see it in his eyes, and how he watched them. An apple was no reason to deny Peake, and it was given freely. The lord seemed delighted to have intimidated the poor man and relished in his prize. Hera was beginning to see what the rumors meant. There was electricity in his eyes, untamed and crackling. When he offered some for her as well, she lifted a hand to grab his. She brought the sweet fruit to her mouth, and took a deep bite, looking up at the lord. She could feel the juice spill and roll down the skin of the apple and she pulled away, licking her lips.

    She released his hand and looked to the sea, wiping her hand on her dress. He continued to speak, talking of gifts and favors, and not having the need to show her chest off to old men, "I can't use my mouth or my cleavage? You've presented me with quite the challenge. Well, if that's what you want, I shall be most... chaste." It was the red head who laughed now. Even Syhera wouldn't refer to herself as a innocent woman. She had a number of suitors, and more than a few she had favored over the years. She admired Peake's confidence, but she also found it childish. Perhaps from growing up in a different social class was to blame. She pulled from his kiss, deep in thought. He was attractive but dangerous. If her mother knew the truth, she could imagine her words, 'Tread lightly, child. A shark does not bite gently.'

    She needed to know just how many sharks were in the water.

    "I don't believe you chose me to ask me what I think," As she looked out over the docks, images of men from her past played in her mind. She wondered if they would prove a nuisance later one, "But, tell me, love," she began, "Whom should I fear?" She smiled, but her eyes showed her seriousness, "Your ex lovers? Enemies? Friends? ...You?" She scoffed, looking at all the faces that would turn against her, 'You will not have to worry about my silence. I will keep this secret like I keep all my others. I know what a lord can do, but not everyone will be happy. Many will come to hate me."

    She shrugged. He could care less, she was sure, "I am surprised. I think you chose me because I was convenient. You were lucky that I was smart."
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It was surprisingly pleasant to listen to Syhera. Her head was well placed between her shoulders. She was realistic, adaptable. In a way, she reminded him of himself, while he was being a sort of puppeteer like his father is. That notion made him feel somewhat disgusted by himself, and he was even forced to promise himself he wouldn’t drag her face through the mud just to prove his superiority. At least, not too much. For the moment, Syhera was quite understanding of Peake’s motivations, or it looked like it, which brought some comfort to him. He let her know that by giving her a light squeeze against him, half mocking, half sincere. After a chuckle, he spoke again. “I’m as innocent as a lamb, and as harmless as a fly. You should fear no one, dear. They should fear you. Us. So it’s not hate you see in their eyes. Its fear.” Looking down at the half-bitten apple, Peake tossed it lightly towards the pier, the fresh apple rolling through the damp and cold wood until it fell down into the water. He wasn’t hungry, yet he took the apple for a very simple reason: because he could.

“You got me. My orchestra quickly fell apart yesterday. I am lucky, indeed, to have stumbled upon a woman as smart as you, just like you’re lucky to have stumbled upon a man as powerful as me. We’re very much alike, I believe.” The cold breeze from the sea stroked Peake’s beard with its gelid touch, the man closing his eyes to savor the moment. Moments of peace like these were scarce in his life. It had been a good choice to head down here for the day. Looking down at her, a kind yet somewhat cocky smirk present on his face before he nodded with his head towards the tiers, hinting away at the incoming resume of their sojourn through the marine area. “I’ll share a secret with you. I’ve always believed that the more you’re hated, the more progress you’re making in climbing the stairwell. You can be the nicest man, the gentlest woman, but in the end, you’ll start being hated. There’s no way around it.” Peake conducted the female through the edge of the pier, his gaze alternating between the workers, the sea, and the female.

“One day, once you escape this neighborhood, once the silver you earn turns to gold, you’ll come back here and all those friends you knew will be gone. They will curse you, detest you, and even try to harm you in whichever way they can. You know why that is, don’t you? They see you and they envy you, because you had the strength to step forward with confidence, even if the ladder towards money, and thus power, wobbles as much as the ships on the water.” Peake sighed deeply, not because of frustration or boredom, but of relief. “You’ve already began climbing the stairs. I can see it in you, in the dress you wear, in the way you carried yourself last night. I too had to climb them, believe it or not. I may have been called Lord since the day I was born, but nobody has given me anything. I’ve earned what I’ve got, and I’ve become what I am all by myself. Now, these simpletons believe I haven’t been hugged enough as a child because I go around knocking on people’s doors asking for the money they owe to the Kingdom.” Chuckling, Peake’s good mood was very present in both his words, his tone, and his attitude. He truly enjoyed these moments.

“Excuse my rambling, dearest. My heart just opens whenever you’re around me, you know that.”
Squeezing her against him again, he offered another one of his smirks to Syhera. “Say, are you hungry? I know a place nearby that has an otherworldly watermelon.” Leaving the proposal to her, he rose his head to inhale the fresh breeze once again. It was truly a beautiful day. A woman in his arm, a cloak on his back, a beard on his face, and the breeze on his feet. There was nothing else a man could need to be happy. “Oh, I forgot to mention. You may be expecting unwanted attention soon enough. Be it letters or men, all bearing the Andaris seal, I’d suggest you to ignore them and not listen to whatever words they have. For your own good, of course.” At last, Peake’s hang, which hanged from Syhera’s neck, started to gain attention towards her blessed bosom, the palm of his hand trying to gentle caress them. It was surprising for him to have resisted the urge for so long.
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Syhera Ki'hadi
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  • 16th of Ashan, 716 Arc
    "Of course," Hera said slowly, feeling a hand snake its way down the fabric of her dress and run itself along her chest. It hadn't quite caught her off guard, but she momentarily lost her words, and she looked to see if anyone was watching them. People milled about, only a few sparing glances. Fishermen were an interesting lot, and a number of them were Biqaj like her, pointed ears and bright eyes changing with the stars. She recognized a few, and shifted Peake's cloak to obscure what his hand was doing as it pressed against her nipple.

    She laughed softly, taking one of her hands and placing it on his roaming one, stopping it in place. She wondered if he could feel her heart beating, "I was just told I wasn't allowed to use these in my persuasions. Careful, my lord. Men have swooned for less." Gently pulling his hand away, she looked out among the docks, stepping free from the protection of his cloak. The cold sent goosebumps along her arms, and she held a hand to her eyes to block the sun. The wind pushed some strands of hair against her cheek and she waved to a few of her friends. They looked back, eyes bouncing between her and the massive frame beside her, waving back with slow reluctance.

    They weren't sure if they should be associated with her? Hera looked over her shoulder at her fiance. They were scared of him, she realized. This man held the power to ruin all of their lives if he wished. It would be troublesome, given the money the sea brought to Rynmere, but... possible. "Let's go," she said, her mind bouncing with ideas, "But do you mind if we swing by my place?" She stiffled a chuckle, realizing how that line might be interpretted to actual suitors. Or... possibly Peake. He did have an interest in her body at least. She clarified, "I need my own coat, and money."

    "Syhera Ki'hadi,"

    Hera jolted like someone shocked her, pulling from Peake as if he were poison. When she spun around, her mother was walking over, her brows furrowed in displeasure, "Mama," An affectionate pitch to her voice spilled out and she smiled impulsively, "How... is shopping?" Without realizing it, she readjusted the neckline to her dress and crossed her arms. Her eyes darted to the docks, in case anyone else she was familiar with was planning on surprising her.

    The older Biqaj spared a pleasant glance to Peake, "Hello, child," she greeted, despite Peake most certainty not being a child. He was a man, and an intimidating one at that, but it did not seem to faze Hera's mother. However, her voice hardened when she addressed Syhera, "What are you doing?" She placed a hand on her hip, the other one cradling a bag of groceries. The wind blew again and her dark hair and skirts billowed slightly. The bangles on her wrists clattered together when she moved, and she waited impatiently on her daughter's response.

    "Just... walking."

    Gwynthera looked between to two again, arching a well groomed brow, "Why aren't you in the shop?"

    "I had things to discuss with..." Should she refer to him as lord or by first name? "him. We were going to get lunch." Watermelon. Had he used that a euphemism for herself? Hera shot a look at Peake, no longer sure. Were watermelons even in season?

    "I do not think so," Gwynthera declined, with an apologetic glance at the man, "If you are hungry, I will cook. We have things to discuss." The latter was directed at the red head. More displeasure laced the woman's accent. A mother's disappointment. Even Hera couldn't talk her way out of this, and a worried look flashed over her face. What if her mother found out about her engagement?

    Hera turned stiffly to Peake, "What would you like, l-" She was going to say 'love', the nickname that seemed both a jest and reminder of her predicament. She could have covered it with lord, but if her mother had heard the faintest bit of the news, she would be able to put two and two together. If she failed to know his identity for just a smidge longer, why push it? She covered her slip up, "Lunch, or will we have to miss your presence this afternoon?"

    Syhera couldn't talk her way out of her mother's decisions. They were going to chat whether or not Peake joined them or not. She honestly wasn't sure if she wanted him there to help weave a lie, or if he was a liability. The young Biqaj knew he could be persuasive, but their timing and deliveries on their own lies weren't lined up. Hot worry burned in her stomach.

    Her fiance had the power here. Again.
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Peake
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One of the most important lessons people had to know about becoming a frightening individual was the simplicity. Peake was intimidation or ‘scary’ as he was usually described not because his mouth foamed and his fingers were knives. He didn’t decide who was afraid and how much they were – their minds decided that. From the moment they staggered and their fears were triggered, everything Peake did would be intimidating to them. The same applied to these moments, in which an apathetic Peake strolled around the docks with a gorgeous woman in his arm, and the populace glanced sheepishly towards them with obvious contempt. Their minds had already decided that Peake was scary, be it because of his appearance, his reputation or his profession. This made it easy for him to be somewhat isolated from the afflicted crowd, a sort of outcast despite Peake having no interest whatsoever in being a part of their simplistic social group. It only gave him advantage, for he could apply some pressure to those afflicted with doubts and fear and escalate said emotions. Right now, he was nothing but another jolly individual enjoying the morning breeze.

Perhaps it was that what Syhera’s mother saw in him, instead of this monster that crept beneath beds in the eyes of most around them. The noble born had no intention to intimidate Gwynthera, as there was no reason to. Plus, he somewhat liked his fiancé’s mother and the gentle and warm treat she offers. Mothers were otherworldly beings in Peake’s eyes, women that had ascended to become Goddesses in the eyes of their children, devoting their lives to raise them and nurture them. They had his utmost respect. Syhera had jolted away suddenly, not in the gentle and careful manner in which she had removed his hand from her blessed bosom. Be it how it may, Peake did nothing but smile coyly as he watched mother and daughter speak amongst themselves. Despite the hints being there, the walking beard didn’t quite catch the concept that Syhera’s mother was ignorant about their engagement. After all, she wasn’t kissing him on the cheeks, gifting him flowers and asking just how much of a barony her daughter would get. It was a nice fantasy to see just how ignored he was in this moment, and it did nothing but amuse him further. It seemed as if his day would be somewhat good if this rhythm was kept.

“Well, if there is an invitation for me after stealing your daughter away, Missus Ki’hadi, I wouldn’t refuse lunch.” His smile shined for both women, and Peake quickly caught a detail that he should correct immediately. Pulling the lace from his cloak and exposing his somewhat simplistic shirt to the cold, he’d offer the cloak to Syhera as her dress did very little to cover her flesh from the cold, be it from the weather or from male attention. His manners shined once in a while, in the very limited occasions in which they had a chance to do so. Chivalry was something else Peake had a foot on, apparently, and it wouldn’t be long before he too tainted that concept as he usually did. Wiking towards Syhera with a dumb smile on his bearded face, his menacing presence was reduced to ashes in the humble situation he was a part of.

“There is one condition, however. Let me carry the bags, Missus Ki’hadi, as it’s the very least I can do. We can walk through the market on the way back and buy whatever ingredients are left, if any.”


His mother would be proud to see her son be such a gentleman.
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Syhera Ki'hadi
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"
  • 16th of Ashan, 716 Arc
    He accepted the invitation.

    Hera smiled stiffly, nodding while her the gears in her mind began turning. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. "Lunch it is then." The redhead turned, "Thank you, Mama." They began to walk, and a cloak was draped over her shoulders. The material was rich, thick, and much heavier now that she bore the weight herself. The fabric engulfed her, and she used one hand to hold it closed, another to gather up the hem so it wouldn't drag the ground. Surprise lifted the eyes of the Biqaj and she looked over at Peake, who was already offering to carry groceries and following her mother like an eager puppy.

    "Oh! Well, isn't that sweet?" Gwynthera smiled at Peake, holding out a sack food for him to take, "What a considerate one you are. You would think one's own child would offer to help, but I suppose that's my fault," The older woman grinned, patting the bearded man on the arm and laughing. Hera rolled her eyes, knowing her mother was enjoying the attention. "I've done all the shopping, but thank you. No, I think I will get the food on the stove and then work on some of details for the business."

    Hera was shocked. She scoffed softly, picking up her pace to keep up with the two, and held in the urge to stick her tongue out at her fiance. 'Suck up.' Listening silently as Gwynthera made small talk, she wondered what the older woman thought of the bearded giant. As she mulled the idea over, her mother looked to her meaningfully, and it took the younger woman to realize what she wanted. "Mama, this is Peake. Peake, Gwynthera Ki'hadi."

    Hera readjusted her grip on the cloak, and smiled.

    "A strong name, I like it." Gwynthera complimented, rounding a corner and weaving between people on the street, "Straight to the point. Like... Makes me think..." A frustrated look briefly passed over the woman's face and she snapped her fingers, "Hera, what is the word I'm looking for?" She said the word quickly in Rakahi and the image flashed in the daughter's mind. A few more words and Hera nodded in understanding. She translated her mother's struggle.

    "Mountain. At the very top."

    Seeing the man... he was like a mountain. Huge. Unmoving. People would admire him. A climb for power. Hera added to the conversation, "I think mama means that it is a good name because it is where everyone wants to go. On land the peak of a mountain is the only place truly worth reaching. You see everything. You are above everyone."

    The shop was getting closer, and the ringing bells of the docks grew fainter. Hera sped up and went to unlock the door, allowing the both to enter before shutting the door behind them. The building was only slightly warmer and she slid off the cloak and hung it by the door. Gwynthera seemed not the least bit bothered and began heading straight for the stairs. To the apartment.

    Hera wanted to cringe. It was clean, but the simplicity of it... It was embarrassing. "Let's get this over with." she muttered to herself, following. The stairs creaked softly under the weight of the three, and a few pictures hung on the wall on the way up. The two most notable were a sketch of a young man and woman lounging on a ship, and then a more recent portrait of Hera, perhaps around the age of sixteen wearing a cotton dress and holding a single lily in the palms of her hands. Her red hair was bright, and her cheeks looked tanned and dusted with freckles from spending time in the sun. Little other decorations lined the walls, and when they reached the top, there was a small landing and a solid wooden door. Hera reached for the knob before her mother could and when she opened it, the soft smell of cinnamon and rose drifted forward.

    Sunlight filtered in through the windows, and there was a bed, covered in a thick white quilt, and a table. On it rested a bowl of potpourri, and a few different papers. A fireplace and a rack lined one wall, along with them. A shelf of spices sat nearby and Gwynthera moved to get the fire started.

    "Here, you can put the groceries on the table." Hera quickly gathered the papers from the surface, all too aware that one of them was a copy of Gazette and Peake's engagement announcement, and tried to stuff them in the chest at the foot of the bed. Her face felt hot, humiliated from being forced to host a lord. She crossed her arms, and stepped out of the way. The fire started coming to life, and Gwynthera straightened up and looked at the two.

    "I'm going to get water for the rice. Get the papers from your chat with Mr. Jervois, and we will talk, yes?"

    Hera nodded, watching her mother leave the door open and descend the stairs. The moment she was out of earshot, the Biqaj turned to Peake, "She doesn't know. She doesn't need to know." Quickly, she crouched and reopened the wooden chest and yanked out the contract from the night before. The one she had tricked Brice into signing, and looked up at Peake, "...Are you going to tell her?"
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