Revalations

Vivian meets with Lei'lira

The seven Duchies of Central Rynmere and their respective baronies, cities, towns, villages, and landmarks each overseen by a Duke of one of the seven noble families and ultimately controlled by the King of Rynmere.
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Vivian Shiryu
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Timestamp: 69th of Zi'da 716
Location: Warrick Farms

Vivian adjusted her gloves and patted Speckle's neck as she rode towards the twins farm. She had heard via hearsay that Lazuli was no longer living with Lei'lira, and perhaps that was just as well. She doubted a meeting between her and Lazuli would go well, not after she had sided with the Qe'Dreki. "Such a glorious failure that was." she said in annoyance before she spurred her horse towards the farm.

It looked the same as it always had, the grey light of the Zi'da afternoon giving it an almost abandoned feel. In truth, the farm looked as if it had been sealed in time. Certainly her own homestead hadn't fared as well, but it was serving to give the girls a place to stay while she wrapped her affairs here. Not like anyone was expecting her to go back to her old home, after all. Of course, she wasn't planning on staying too long if she could help it. She had a burning need to be in Rharne.

She stepped down from her saddle when she reached the fence and tied Speckle off, making sure the horse wouldn't wander off. "You be a good girl." she said, her tone serious before she walked up to the door of the cabin. The fallen noble still wore her rapier at her waist, since there were still bandits about. Hopefully Lei'lira wouldn't think she was there to attack her, like so many had once her political alignment had been revealed. "Lei'lira? It's me, Vivian. Are you there?" she asked, knocking on the door.
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Lei'lira was at her wits end. She was in a great deal of pain. The healer had cautioned her that she would need several trials of bed rest in order to recover from the ordeal of giving birth. But bed rest was a luxury that she simply didn't have. The twins needed to be fed. When they didn't need to be fed, they needed to be changed. Or burped. Or bathed. Or...something. It never ended as long as they were awake, which was most of the time. When one twin was awake, the other was either awake, or would soon be awakened by the other's cries. It was rare for the twins to sleep for more than a couple of breaks at a time, and it was only when they were both asleep that Lei'lira got any peace.

Even when they were asleep, there was no time for her to rest. Lazuli had hired a family to work her part of the farm, but they didn't have the time to help her as well. The animals needed to be fed, and tended to. The horses needed to be exercised, and the cow needed to be milked. Sleep was a luxury that she could no longer afford. Nor had she managed to find the time to eat in the past couple of trials. Her own needs took a distant third to the needs of her children, and the needs of her farm. But she didn't know how much longer she could manage to keep going before she collapsed.

Tiran and Taerin had just fallen asleep when someone knocked on the door. The loud, sudden sound shocked them awake, and they began to cry fitfully. Lei'lira felt like crying herself. It took her several bits to realize who "Vivian" was in the exhausted haze her mind was trapped in. And it took her several more to realize that a knock on the door required a response from her.

Wearily, she picked the twins up, rocking them gently to soothe their fears as she moved towards the door. When she opened it, she blinked at her cousin in weary confusion, trying to figure out why Vivian had come. Wasn't she...somewhere else? With the Qe'dreki, or whatever they called themselves? A while back, some soldiers had come to the farm, telling her that Vivian was a Qe'dreki traitor, and that if her cousin ever came to see her, she was to tell them about it. Lei'lira had no intentions of doing so. Vivian was family, and she would never betray her family. And after what King Cassander had done to Lazuli, Lei'lira wasn't inclined to tell him, or his men anything. But if Vivian was here, then something must have gone wrong. If that were true, Lei'lira wanted to help her cousin, but she didn't know what she could do to help.

"Yes?" she asked wearily, swaying slightly where she stood.

She smiled warmly, and stepped back to allow her cousin to come in. The twins' frightened wails were driving her to distraction as she tried to soothe them back to sleep.

"Please come in. Are you hungry? I can try to fix you something..." she murmured.

Her head swam, and as she took another step back to give Vivian some more room, she lost her balance, stumbling badly. With her children in her arms, she couldn't use an arm to save herself, so she shifted her weight so that she fell heavily against the wall rather than falling to the ground. But the sudden motion terrified the twins, and their shrill cries took on an urgent, fear filled tone.

"I..."

Lei'lira tried to soothe the twins, but it was painfully obvious that she was overwhelmed, and little better off than them herself.
Last edited by Lei'lira on Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:48 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 656
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Vivian blinked in surprise as Lei'lira opened the door, taking in the infants and the generally exhausted look on Lei'lira's face before she followed her cousin inside. "By the Seven, Lei'lira, you look exhausted. And I can fix my own food, some for you as well. You need to sit down and rest." she said, her tone showing her surprise. She stepped forward to help as Lei'lira fell against the wall, then reached out and guided her to a chair.

"Is there no one here helping you?" she said in shock. She hadn't seen Lei'lira in months, hadn't even heard from her, really, but surely the family wouldn't have just abandoned her. She found herself growing appalled at the Warrick's disregard for Lazuli and Lei'lira, and wondering if they cared about her cousins at all. "Here, let me take one of them, I can help you get them to sleep." she said, her words gentle and quiet. She didn't know much about infants, it was true, but she was growing to further understand being a mother. Slowly, since her own adopted daughters were fairly self-sufficient, but still.

She picked up another chair and set it quietly next to Lei'lira before sitting down. "Have you considered asking at the family household for help? Surely one of our family would be willing to help you."
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Lei'lira gladly sank into the chair Vivian guided her to, murmuring a quiet thanks as she did so. And when her cousin offered to take one of the twins, she handed Tiran to her with a look of deep gratitude. If Vivian could help her get the children back to sleep, she would do just about anything to repay her for her help.

When asked if she had asked the family for help, she shook her head ruefully.

"I haven't had the chance. It never even really occurred to me to try. Tiran, and Taerin were born two trials ago. They came early; they were supposed to be born in Cylus, but the healer said that's normal for twins. But because they were born early, they need more care than infants born at the right time, and there's the farm, too..."

Lei'lira gave her cousin a helpless look.

"The healer told me I'd need several trials of bed rest to recover because it was a long birth, but..."

She waved a hand at everything in general.

"I can't rest. There's too much to do. I haven't even been able to sleep since they were born. But even if I had had the chance to write them, I don't know if they would help. They made me marry...him. Drayas."

Lei'lira shuddered deeply, and a look of fear crept into her eyes.

"I'm a disgrace to them, Vivian. Because of...because of what happened. Because I'm not enough of a noble for them. I don't know. They told me it wasn't my fault, of course...but I'm not good enough for them. They made me marry when they found out what happened because of how it would look if I was pregnant and I wasn't married. It would shame them. Grandmother said it would hurt Lazuli, too. I don't know what they promised Drayas to make him agree to it. Maybe being a noble was enough. His grandfather is Gaius Burhan, and even though his father doesn't care that he was never claimed by that family, Drayas says that he was born a noble, and deserves to be treated as such. Marriage to me gave him that. They might have given him more, too. I don't know."

Lei'lira hesitated.

"They knew how terrified I was at the thought of getting married, but they made me do it anyway. Drayas wants...I can't be what he wants. Not after what the bandits did. And he'll be furious that the twins don't look like him. No one in his family has red hair. He...he can't pretend that they're his."

When Drayas found out, he was going to punish her severely. The terror of that thought made her shudder.

"Tiran and Taerin will be a constant reminder that he wasn't my first...that I was...and he will hate that. He'll hate them for something that isn't their fault. Drayas won't want anyone to see them. And what if...what if the rest of the family agrees, VIvian? What if they decide to...make them disappear?"

Lei'lira didn't think that Lazuli would ever do anything to hurt her children. But she had never once come to see if she was happy with Drayas. She had never even met the man. Would Lazuli help her protect her children if the rest of the family wanted to take them away? Lei'lira wished she could be certain that Lazuli would. But they had grown so distant over the past few seasons that she just didn't know.

"I don't know if I dare ask them for help, Vivian. I don't think I can trust them."
Last edited by Lei'lira on Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 651
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Vivian took the offered twin without a moments hesitation, gently rocking the baby and murmuring to it in a quiet, soothing tone. As she rocked the baby, she listened to Lei'lira's tale, of what had happened to her since she had left to join the rebellion. As Lira spoke, Vivian's expression got colder and colder, her anger more and more visible, though she kept her tone calm and quiet.

"I understand." she said, when Lei'lira said she was afraid to go to the family for help. "It's...become so much harder to trust them. When we were happy, innocent, it was a dream, wasn't it? The noble daughters of one of the great Houses of Rynmere." she said, her saddening. "Shame most of them don't seem to live up to the legacy of our ancestors." she said, before drawing a deep shuddering breath.

"As for this Drayas fellow, he seems unworthy of you as well, if he would be angry at you for something you had no control over." she said, before she narrowed her eyes and gave Lei'lira a penetrating look. "There's more, isn't there? You seem nervous about the family, but you seem outright afraid of Drayas. Has he done something to you, Lira?" she asked, her tone still gentle despite her worry and anger. It seemed to be working, as the infant she held was resting quietly, though she wasn't sure he was asleep.
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Tiran was asleep, and it looked as though Taerin would soon follow. Lei'lira smiled sadly, and nodded.

"It was like a dream, wasn't it? Father used to always tell us that we might have been born nobles, but it was up to us to plot our own course. That we could be whoever, and whatever we wished. And above all else to be true to ourselves. But a noble...a noble is none of those things. And I can't do it. I really can't, Vivian. All those endless parties, and the talk of who is seeing who, or who is wearing what. It belongs to a world I will never understand. I don't even want to try. My biggest dream is to build a horse breeding farm that will one day rival Meadow Farms. I have no place in Andaris among the other houses. I can't pretend to be something I'm not. Nor can I attend a party that the king might show up at and pretend that everything is okay when all I want to do is scream at him for hurting Lazuli. I will never understand how Grandmother can support him. I'm no kind of noble. Perhaps I never was. And for that, I will never be more than a disappointment to our family. I could never hurt Lazuli, or you, but if it weren't for the two of you, I would sever all ties to the Warricks, and stop being a noble if I could. I can never be what they want me to be." she said quietly.

When Vivian asked about Drayas, Lei'lira paled. Her husband was a source of terror for her, and she was only too happy for him to stay in Andaris being the noble he wanted to be if it meant that he would leave her alone.

"Drayas is..." Lei'lira shuddered, and shook her head, trying to gather her thoughts.

"Drayas wants what a husband can be expected to want from a noble woman; an obedient wife who willingly warms his bed, gives him heirs, and supports him when he needs it. I'm useless to him in Andaris. I can't give him the connections he wants to the other nobles. I don't really know them myself, so how can I use connections that don't exist to further his business? And I can't..."

Lei'lira shuddered again. Even talking about sex was enough to terrify her.

"The bandits...I think they broke something in me, Vivian. The thought of having sex terrifies me. Actually giving Drayas what he wants...I can't do it. Not willingly."

Lei'lira was unaware of it, but she had begun to tremble as she spoke. Her voice faded to little more than a frightened whisper.

"So he takes what he wants. Every time he returns from Andaris, he..."

Lei'lira made a half aborted bitter sound.

"I would call it rape. Just like what the bandits did. But because we're married, it's legal. If you were to ask Grandmother, she'd say it was his right to claim what he wants because we're married. That I should want to please him...to give him the heirs that he deserves. And it hurts when he claims his "rights." Every single time. It hurts for trials afterwards, too. It angers him that I don't want him that way, so he uses the pain to punish me. If he's drunk, or if he's in a bad mood when he comes back...and he usually is...it's worse. Nothing I do pleases him then, and he's sure to punish me for that, too. I never know when he will return, so I never feel safe anymore. Not even here."

Her hand crept up to the right side of her neck. It was mostly faded now, but there was a large bruise that was suspiciously hand shaped that still lingered there from when he had tried to choke her into silence when he used her a few weeks ago. It had succeeded when she passed out, but she would always remember the sheer terror that had overwhelmed her when she had been unable to breathe.

"I can't fight back. I'm not strong enough. And when I try to resist, it drives him into a rage. His punishments are even worse, then. I tried to tell our family once. They told me that he was my husband, and that it was my duty to be a good wife to him. That I shouldn't shame our family. That's another reason why I can't trust them, Vivian. If they take his side again...I don't think I could bear it."

Lei'lira was crying softly now. She was exhausted, and still weak from giving birth. Her emotions were too close to the surface for her to have any hope of hiding them, as she might try to otherwise.
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As Lei'lira explained her strain between her and the family, Vivian just nodded sadly. She hadn't been great at being a noble either, and now it was a privilege that was forever lost to her. As she spoke about Drayas and why she feared him, she started to shake, not with sadness or fear, but with pure murderous rage and hatred. The infant she was rocking was asleep and she slowly stood up and walked to the cradle, setting the infant down in it.

After a moment, she walked back over to Lei'lira, offering to take the other infant and put her next to her brother while she spoke. If Lei'lira gave the baby to her, she'd take her to the cradle and set her there. Then she sat next to Lei'lira and pulled her into a hug. "The cowards at the manor have forsaken you. I will not, Lei'lira. I came to tell you I was leaving Rynmere, but it seems I have unfinished business to attend to here." she said, her voice soft, comforting. "Lei'lira, I know this isn't something you'll want to know, but...do you know when he's going to come to visit you next. I think this puffed up wannabe and I need to have a very...pointed conversation." she said, her her tone now hard and cold. For the first time in her life, Vivian wasn't considering an honorable battle or a noble fight. She was considering cold, calculated murder.
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Lei'lira knew what Vivian was hinting at. It wasn't something she could do herself. She couldn't even bring herself to butcher her animals; the ones she raised were raised for what they could produce - wool, eggs, milk, and the like. Not meat. When she needed that, she would trade with another neighboring farm, or at the local market. And yet...how many times had she wished that Drayas would just disappear? There were plenty of bandits around, and he did make the trip between Andaris, and her farm on a frequent basis. Her life would be so much better if he just...never returned.

"I don't know exactly when he'll be back. But he's said he wants to be here when "his" child is born, so he's been making the trip often. He seems to spend a few trials, or a week here, go to Andaris for a few trials, and then return. So he'll probably come soon." she said with a shudder.

Lei'lira hesitated. She gave Taerin to Vivian when she offered to take her in an effort to give her a few trills to gather herself. Vivian's hug was like a balm to her shattered nerves. It helped to calm her a little, and allowed her to find the words she wanted to say.

"Vivian, I...I don't know how to thank you. I'd almost given up. I didn't know what to do. I did think about leaving, but...where would I go? It would be one thing if it was just me, but I was pregnant. And now with the twins...I couldn't just run away without a place to go to, and a plan of how we were going to live when we got there. Besides...if I did try to run away, they'd probably come after me."

She made another bitter sound.

"It would be a disgrace to the Warrick family if I "deserted" Drayas like that. But I can't keep living like this, either. Every time he touches me, another piece of me withers away, and dies."
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Vivian was silent when she said that Drayas would probably visit again soon. She'd have to tell the girls what was going on, but this was something she had to deal with, since the family was evidently willing to let Lei'lira rot. "Don't worry. I'll put a stop to this." she said, her tone firm after Lei'lira thanked her for intervention. Then she took a close look at her cousin, noting that her injuries weren't her only problem.

"Lei'lira, you need to eat and sleep. You sit, I'm going to make you something to eat. After you eat, you sleep. I can keep an eye on your children while you rest." she said, standing up and walking into the kitchen. "What do you want to eat?" she asked as she began to rummage, quietly, through the cupboards. Once Lei'lira had answered her, she pulled out what she needed and started to cook. "For what it's worth, I doubt you'd be the one the family considers the biggest disgrace, if you decided to leave." she said, before laughing slightly. "I've been stripped of my title and military rank both." she said, her own tone bitter, but quiet. "Still, I could have been executed, so I won't pretend I didn't get off easier than many did." Vivian shrugged at that as she cooked. When the meal was done, she brought it over to Lei'lira and set it down in front of her. "Here ya go." she said, her voice still quiet.
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Lei'lira thanked her cousin again with a small smile. It was nice to know that she was not really as alone as she felt. Vivian took control, asking her what she wanted to eat. Lei'lira did a quick mental inventory, trying to remember what she had left in the way of food.

"Maybe some oatmeal, with some dried fruit as a topping?" she asked.

Fruit had been a popular trade item among the local farms last Saun, and Vhalar. Lei'lira had managed to get all the fresh fruit she could have wanted as well as plenty to can or dry for the cold seasons ahead in exchange for extra eggs, and help bringing in the neighbors' harvests. Vivian's ability to cook seemed to equal her own; essentially non existent. But oatmeal was a simple, hearty meal; pour oats in a pot, add water, then heat until they soften enough to eat. There wasn't much you could do to ruin oatmeal unless you either burned it, or didn't cook it long enough for the oats to soften in the water. Seasonings such as sugar or cinnamon could be added, but it wasn't necessary, and the dried fruit on top would offer plenty of sweetness itself.

When it was ready, Lei'lira ate the offered meal gratefully. It was hot, and soothing, and easy to eat despite an uneasy stomach caused by her troubled feelings. Oatmeal was considered to be a comfort food by many, and as Lei'lira ate hers, she could understand why. As she ate, Vivian told her that she had been stripped of her nobility, and military rank. Lei'lira wasn't sure what to think. She could hear the bitterness in her cousin's tone, and felt bad for Vivian's loss. At the same time...Vivian now had a freedom that Lei'lira longed for. Lei'lira's own freedom was a very tenuous one, allowed only because as the older sister, the duty of becoming the baroness fell to Lazuli. But it came at the cost of being a disgrace, and a disappointment to her family. Worse, they could still force her to marry whoever they pleased, and do whatever they wished if they chose to exercise their power. As a commoner, it seemed to Lei'lira as though Vivian had a duty and a responsibility only to herself and those she loved. Lei'lira knew that commoners had their own problems; she lived like one, after all. But their problems seemed more...honest somehow.

"I'm sorry, Vivian. I'm glad it wasn't worse."

She hesitated for a few trills.

"You mentioned that you're going to leave Rynmere. Where will you go? And...would you be willing to stay in touch with me? Write from time to time when you get the chance?" she asked hopefully.

Once Lei'lira had finished eating, she thanked Vivian, both for the meal, and for watching the twins while she took a much needed rest. Then she retreated into her bedroom. As soon as she lay down, she was fast asleep, giving in to the exhaustion of the last several trials.
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