Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chapter 49: Amunet Sees The Ashes Surface

Mon, November 23, 2074 1:10 pm: Ethelden Palace- Amhurst, Veronaville


"Good grief! I certainly hope that you don't plan on going to temple dressed like that. Your brother will have hysterics." Devi splashed water in Amunet's direction, her eyes flashing in a way that was as predatory as it was playful. Warm vapors washed over Amunet's body as she stepped forward through the doorway, making the fine hair on her arms prickle. She ran her palms down sides of her skirt, nervously flattening the hoary feathers that decked her hips.


"No Your Majesty, of course not. I'll be dressed," she murmured. In truth, Amunet had not even bothered to change her clothes from the evening before. The better part of her morning had been spent pacing the ladies' tearoom, clutching her throat and arguing with herself. For days, she hadn't eaten. She'd barely slept. She couldn't be certain that she would attend temple services at all, let alone properly dressed. Something was plaguing her and there was only one person who could help. But he was terrifying.


"I have a sneaking suspicion that Magus Rodin has much bigger concerns than what his sister wears to temple," Maya remarked dully, twirling a lock of her long black hair around her finger.

"Increasingly bigger," Zephyr mouthed, using her hands to create a domed arch over her stomach. The ladies all exchanged wicked smiles and knowing glances but they made no further innuendo. Amunet bit her lip and lowered her eyes. She had not forgotten the scandal involving her brother and Imina Brylowe but somehow what had seemed to be of all-consuming importance last week was now rendered trivial.


"Is something wrong, Amunet? You look a bit flushed." Amunet turned her attention to Tara who was standing near the fireplace, wearing the shapeless gown that fae women only adorned for prayer. She sounded genuinely concerned. Amunet crossed and uncrossed her arms over her chest. She was more grateful for Tara's tenderness than she had ever been but all of the gratefulness in the world did nothing for her fear. If anything, it made her feel strangely indebted to Tara and all the more uncomfortable for it.

Devi raised a large bottle of lavender oil from the edge of the bath without the usage of her hands. It floated through the air, towards the center of the bath and collided with the chandelier as it tipped forward to empty its contents. The room was filled with the chime of crystal.


"I'm fine. It's just the moisture in the air," Amunet lied. Tara stared at her wordlessly, inscrutably. Perhaps she knew first hand what Amunet was experiencing. The fatigue. The confusion. The dread. The vague and discomfiting longing. Amunet tapped her fingertips over her lace choker, fighting back tears. "May I speak with you in private for a moment, Your Majesty," she asked.

"Of course, dear," Tara whispered, smiling weakly. Her eyes spoke only pity and Amunet, who had never before felt pitiable, pushed her hair back from her face with more force than the task required.

Tara passed by Amunet, briskly leading the way out. In the hall, she peered into the door of the nearest dressing room and finding it unoccupied, entered with Amunet in tow.


"Now you may tell me what's troubling you," Tara said, gently taking Amunet by the fingers. Amunet closed her eyes and exhaled. She had practiced her request under her breath in the tearoom but she needn't have. It was simple enough. The explanation that followed would prove more difficult.

"I need to speak with Mahadeva," she said. Tara eyed her curiously.


"Mahadeva is away from the palace and might not return for several weeks. Why? Is it urgent?" Amunet's heart sank. She had not anticipated that. As far as she knew, the Sheut rarely left the palace grounds. Amunet stepped closer to Tara, the soft leather soles of her slippers making a rough, abrasive sound against the cement tiles.

"If I show you something, you must swear never to tell a soul. No one but Mahadeva," Amunet breathed. Tara sucked her teeth, evidently put-off by the fact that Amunet would presume to make such a request of her. But she nodded in agreement all the same. Amunet unhooked her choker.


Tara placed a hand on Amunet's shoulder. She pulled back the choker to have a better look at the bandage on Amunet's neck and the abrasion underneath the bandage. When Tara pulled away, she straightened her posture imperiously.

"When did this happen?" The princess's tone was solemn and business-like but she could not disguise the shock that flitted across her face.


"Last Wednesday, I believe. Do you think that Mahadeva might know one of his kind who would go after a fae?" Tara shrugged at the question.

"He rarely speaks about that part of his life. I don't know what he knows about 'his kind', as you say." Amunet rubbed her bare arms, wondering whether she had unintentionally stumbled upon a point of contention between Tara and her consort.

"Is he very secretive," Amunet asked. Tara shook her head slowly.

"No, not secretive. Just ashamed, I think." There was a pause during which Tara peered at the wall, losing herself in thought. "What were you doing when all of this happened? Do you remember at all?"

"I don't remember anything after our crochet circle Tuesday night."

"And the next thing that you recall after the crochet circle?" Amunet placed a hand on her forehead as if to physically extract her past from therein.


"Well I woke-up Thursday morning at the Seven Towers Hotel in Kings Contrivance. My dress was torn at the hem and my neck was wrapped in surgical gauze. I had a terrible headache. I went to check out at the front desk and the clerk had a note that had been left for me. It was unsigned."

"Did the clerk see the person who left it?"

"No. And she didn't really know when it had been left either." Tara held out her hand, rapidly opening and closing her palm.

"Show me."


Amunet reached into her bodice and pulled out the letter, less-than-gracefully rearranging her bust. She carefully smoothed the creases on the paper before handing it to Tara, feeling as though she were entrusting Tara with something precious. Tara flipped the page over, studying the paper as much as she did the writing upon it.

"What does this mean, 'as per your request'," Tara asked, frowning.

"I don't know. I can't even imagine."

"And come to think of it, how does a vampire take down a fully grown fae?" Amunet winced. She had almost been anticipating that question. Tara probably thought she'd given herself over to the vampire willingly. Sometimes even Amunet interpreted the note that way.

"I have to assume that it wasn't an ordinary vampire," Amunet said, looking to Tara uneasily. Tara clasped the note between two fingers.

"This is not Mahadeva's handwriting," she replied.


"Of course not! I would never dream of accusing him. I only meant that there had to be something unusual about the one that attacked me." Amunet raised her arms in a gesture of surrender. Tara took Amunet by the wrists and pressed the note into the flat of her hand.

"In any case, hold on to this. If there is a vampire bold enough to take a fae for a victim then he won't stay in hiding for long. We may need this letter to help identify him. Now tell me this- Whose name was on the bill for your hotel room?"

"Mine. He used my credit card." Tara smiled complacently.


"We'll find him before he tries something like this again. Until then, you are not to leave the palace grounds. This vampire might still be a danger to you." Amunet nodded in silence. Tara took her first step towards the door and Amunet grabbed her arm.


"Wait." A hazy image was starting to take shape in her mind, brought on by nothing. "I do remember something. Water. Salt water. The sea." Amunet turned her gaze upwards to meet Tara's. Underdeveloped images were surfacing, bloated and barely recognizable. "He had hair the color of ashes."


  1. Just in case anyone missed the BBL post and the context clues were not enough, Mahadeva=Kvornan. "Mahadeva" is an honorative term given to Proximus Deus.

    Also, due to my stellar photo-editing skills (*cough*) that slip of paper really does say, "As per your request".

  2. Pen, your attention to detail amazes me :)

    So Amunet was the fae that Alexei attacked? Also, Devi seems quite different from Tara; this contrast intrigues me. Was Devi brought up somewhat differently, seeing as she is the heir to the throne?

  3. Whoah, that was fast!

    And yes indeed, Amunet was the fae that Alexei attacked. He really knows how to pick them too- Amunet is both a close friend of the royal family and the sister of a Magus. Not someone that you really want to mess with.

    Devi was brought up very differently from Tara. In fact, Devi didn't have much of a childhood, really. She was subjected to a lot of studying and traveling. She accompanies her father everywhere. It is essential that she knows as much as possible about policy-making, diplomacy, current affairs, economics, the military and dozens of other subjects that do nothing but make her yawn.

    Tara was raised much the same way as other fae girls. She knows how to dance and play the harp, make pretty laces and conduct tea ceremonies. If she could have her druthers though, she would be the one sitting in on governmental meetings.

  4. Sounds to me like they were born in the wrong order. I wonder if their parents realize this.

  5. Wow, your set was brilliant!

    Silly Alexei! What have you gotten yourself into? The ramifications of this are going to be long reaching I think?!

    Tara look sooo...different in her temple clothes. And I agree with Van! It does sound like they were born in the wrong order.

    *scurries back to finish proofreading*

  6. Thanks, Phoenix! This is another one of those sets where you didn't really get to see much because I like to zoom in on my characters. :( But Princess Bottom was in the bathing room too, sitting in the corner dressed and ready. Part of the reason why I don't show her is, well honestly, because I can convince myself to call anyone Bottom. WTF, EAxis? There were so many other characters in that play you could have named that poor girl after!

    Alexei is in trouble. And what fascinates me the most about this (and what will probably fascinate Kvornan later) is the fact that he would go through with it full-knowing that it would probably not bode well for him. Why did he give in to her request and not close the wounds??? (I'm asking but of course, I know why. :P)

    In shooting this chapter, I realized that Devi is prettier than Tara in a conventional sense as well as in a fae standard of beauty sense (I know, hard for you guys to see Devi scowling so far away in the first shot). But I wonder if that has had any impact on their personalities because I imagine that Devi has probably been praised for her beauty her entire life whereas Tara has never been praised for her beauty by anyone outside of her Papa and her consort.

    But yeah, I think that many people think they were born in the wrong order. Tara could have been a great ruler. She's kind and compassionate but she has another, decidedly harder side too. Woe betide you if you get to see that side. By the way, we will get to see that side.

    WWWOooooOOoooo, new RG!

  7. You did a really awesome job with the background here. Your set is too cool.

    And wait wait wait wait wait. Hair the color of ashes? Is Amunet remembering Alexei?! Was SHE the one he went all batshit on? And she survived??? Oh trouble.

    Excuse me while I go back a few chapters and stare. I really thought he had killed her.

    OH! Is she going to tell Kvornan?! Is Kvornan going to kick ass?! Oh. I'm excited.

    Random thought: I love Tara in her royalty garb.

  8. Hmmm... maybe if you want you could rename Bottom like you renamed Lucy/Daphne, just in case you ever need her for some background stuff at the castle?

  9. hehehe Oh yeah, Alexei was the dude. He's normally good about not killing his victims. Except for that one time. Someday it will become clear why he completely lost it when he killed Kelly.

    Amunet wants to tell Kvornan about what happened when he gets back. From her description, I'm pretty sure that Kvornan would assume that it was Alexei. It's highly unlikely that there's another vampire in Veronaville crazy enough to attack faes and even less likely that that vampire would have hair the color of ashes.

    I kind of wonder what Kvornan will do when he finds out. Part of me thinks that he'll just laugh it off with Alexei later like, "You did what?!?" Another part of me thinks that he'll be very pissed.

    I'm having so much fun with the fae costuming. I recently made a sim for Imina Brylowe (the woman who had the affair with Amunet's brother) and I think that was my most successful costuming yet. Fun times.

  10. You're right, Van! I forgot about Daphne. I'll have to ponder a name for Bottom. Maybe it will also be something that starts with B. Probably Bastet. I'll poke around.

  11. Oh! One more thing about this chapter-

    Zephyr is Puck Summerdream and Ophelia Nigmos's daughter. Puck and Ophelia also have a son- Mistral Summerdream.

  12. I love your ability to create your own world within the world of Pleasantview & Veronaville.

  13. Oh hey! I like the new header!!!

    *goes back to stalking the blog in silence*

  14. Thanks, Phoenix!

    Girl, you know I'm not updating until I leave the office tonight. :p

    My projected time for Chapter 50 is between 8:00-9:00pm (but it may be earlier).

  15. I forgot to comment on the new layout, but I love it. Now onto the chapter... I really like the faes! The fact that they live in a palace and have powers but still live in the same human civilization that the rest of the people live in intrigues me. Do the faes hold political power because of their "powers"? Vampires, on the other hand, are clearly not very well seen by society.

    But if Veronaville is so open about its otherworldly culture, why aren't the Pleasantview residents aware of it?

    (Unless people in Veronaville don't know about the faes and the vampires)

  16. Oh absolutely they have the political power because of their magic. I don't have exact dates yet (d'oh!) but the faes seized power about 500 years ago when their numbers were growing. They couldn't stay hidden any longer and they were interbreeding with humans. They had to join the rest of the world and they were not going to settle for assimilation. So they fought. The fae conquest (known as the Rose War) happened over several years and was won at the Battle of Arbormoor. I think this was during the reign of King Seriah II but I would have to verify on the family tree. And they won that war because they have magic and the other side didn't.

    Vampires are very low indeed. But most humans do not recognize the existence of vampires. This is just as well for the faes who despise vampires because their energies are tainted and they don't play well with others and it's a bureaucratic nightmare trying to keep them under wraps.

    Pleasantviewers are aware of faes and magic and all that jazz but many of them aren't so well-versed in their religious studies. For instance, before now, Elise couldn't really have told you what a Sheut was. And of course, vampires keep their nature closely guarded.

    Conversely, most humans in Veronaville believe in vampires. That is to say that they have no concrete evidence that vampires walk amongst them but their religious teachings tell them that vampires exist, so they believe.

    Great questions, Maruutsu! As always. And I'm glad that you like the new layout! :)

  17. Wow, you have all the backstory planned and everything! That's impressive. I don't even know the names of my clans yet.

    I want a History lesson on the Faes! Will we get more chapters like that?

  18. Well I've had this story for over a year now, Maruutsu. ;) And longer if you count the gameplay pre-story.

    The history lessons will probably abound in this story. We do have a character who was around for the Rose War and I would love to do a flashback or two of that. The photo shoot would be a total nightmare though. But if I could pull it off, it would be worth it.

  19. I'll be looking forward to those chapters, then :)