unsteady welcomes

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Offline Koralia Floros

unsteady welcomes
« on: April 04, 2017, 08:46:21 PM »

She was nervous and pacing. From the kitchen to the front door, Kori worried a trail into the floor. Her fingers untied and retied the belt at her hips a dozen times over. Her new steward was coming today. Kori couldn't look at the dinning room table with remembering what had happened with the old one.

Nothing could soothe her, not even Aggy. All attempts distressed her further. She'd done what she could to fake it through most of the morning. Bright smiles and happy talk, but now he was running a little late and Kori was about to lose her mind over it. Was he late on purpose? If not, would it reflect badly on her that his carriage was running behind?

It didn't matter that he was a cousin. What mattered was that he was coming here, to judge her. Oh, certainly help her, Kori was certain. He was a cousin, and a trained steward of some years. But he would be judging her she was sure. A rattle in the yard sent her to the window, pulling back the thick curtain to peek out.

He was here. Or someone was. Kori fixed her belt. Her hair. Anything else she could straighten or fuss with her fingers and palms. Breathing deeply, she settled in the side parlor (the only parlor) and waited. She would not open the door for him. Let the butler do that. Or Aggy. Or anyone not herself. Let him be brought to her. Here, in the parlor, where she was calmly going about her day.

Kori looked up when he entered. Dressed in pale silks, Rose Jewel hanging from her throat almost to the red belt at her waist. She was leaning over a frame in her lap, digging for a different thread in her basket. Embroidery work. Though she'd only managed two stitches before he'd walked into the room.

"Prince Antonis." Kori greeted him with a smile, struggling to stuff all her nerves down somewhere where he couldn't see them. She had practice at this. She was good at it. Smiling, being cheerful, polite, and friendly. He was young, Kori thought, younger than she'd been expecting. And cute. "Welcome to Baruch. I hope your trip was well?"

Offline Stathis Antonis

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 09:06:15 PM »
The problem with carriages, at least in Stathis's experiance, was that there were just too many things that could go wrong.  Today, one of the horses had gone lame - fortunately not too far from the changing house, so he was only a quarter hour late, not several hours.  Still, a terrible first impression to make, and one that could cast a shadow on his whole career if the Queen chose to make an issue of it.  Thankfully this Queen was family, and that would hopefully buy him some leeway, especially since the delay had not been his fault. 

He'd left his trunk with the butler - he wasn't a packrat or anything, but he still had enough stuff that carrying it in his psychic cupboard was a strain.  Enough to distract him or worst case scenario cause him to flub his initial meeting with Lady Floros.  He couldn't let that happen.  This had to go just right.  All of it had to go just right.

He was ushered into the parlor he remembered from when he'd lived here with his mentor.  So little had changed!  He wanted to smile, but he forced himself to keep his expression pleasantly neutral as he gave a Protocol-perfect bow.  "Lady Floros, it is a pleasure.  Please forgive my lateness, there was some trouble with the carriage" He straightened and offered her a polite smile.  "I hope I have not thrown off any plans you might have had for the day?"

Offline Koralia Floros

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 09:36:35 PM »

Kori dipped her head prettily in answer to his bow, but she did not rise and curtsy. His manners were very nice. Probably some of the most polished she'd seen in some time. She slid her hand into his, her smile deepening until her eyes were involved as well.

"It is no trouble, prince. Please, sit." Kori took his measure in that touch. Tried to get a sense of him. "I'm sorry you hear about the carriage." Kori leaned back and set her work aside, folding her hands in her lap demurely while she looked him over. Her nose wrinkled. "Having half the Winds out does make things rather messy." They hardly ever swept the landing web anymore. Kori couldn't remember the last time someone had arrived on it.

"Nothing serious, I assume since you're not very late at all." Kori glanced at the squat clock that sat on the mantle. Crouching like a grumpy old gargoyle. Not even half an hour. For Kori it had felt like an eternity. "Shall I order some tea, or would you like to have a look around first?"

Offline Stathis Antonis

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2017, 09:27:56 AM »
Stathis took her offered hand and gave a slight nod of acknowledgment. He knew she was sizing him up, if only because he was doing the same to her.  He felt no special pull towards her, but that was no different than any other court he’d served in.  It didn’t mean he couldn’t serve or wouldn’t serve well.  He was a professional after all, and only children and Warlord Princes insisted on needing a bond to serve.  He opened his outer barriers to her, just enough to let her take in the basics about him - his caste, his strength, and his desire to serve well as her Steward.  Hopefully that would be enough.

”It is what it is” he said with a shrug in response to her comment about the carriage and the Winds.  And it was.  It wasn’t like the Winds had ever been something he’d hoped to ride in his lifetime, so he didn’t really see it as that much of a problem.  ”I only regret the delay.”

He studied her face, trying to take a measure of which of the options she’d presented was the one she preferred.  In truth, he really just wanted to be shown his office and get to work.  Michel’s letter about the position had been… vague as to why Lady Floros was in need of a Steward.  Very politely, politically vague, in the way that told him there was a story there, but probably not one he should ask Lady Floros about.  But it did mean he wanted to have her happy with him before he dove into whatever mess had been left behind.  She’d been working on something when he’d arrived.  Did that mean she’d prefer to sit for a while and work?  Or should he let her give him a tour?  Not that he didn’t know the house quite well, but he’d humor her of course.

”Tea would be nice” he said finally, hoping it would be the right answer.  Besides, it had been a long trip.  Some liquid refreshment would be nice.  ”And you can tell me how things are going here.  Is there anything I need to be aware of before I start work?”

Offline Koralia Floros

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2017, 10:09:20 AM »

Kori appreciated him opening himself to her. It had been a long time since a male had greeted her in such a way. The others were always so closed off. Except for Aggy, but Aggy was a different thing altogether. Still, she was shy about opening herself up to Stathis. Perhaps when she knew him a little better, even with that glimpse of his readiness.

"Put it out of your mind." Kori smiled as he sat. "Such things happen and the delay wasn't much of one." He was looking at her, Kori saw, dropping her eyes to her lap and peeking at him from under her lashes. What did he see? What was he thinking? What was he looking for? Flaws? Interest? Weakness or strength? The questions gnawed at her. Looking up at him again, Kori nodded and reached for the small bell on her table.

"Tea it is then." Kori's house was always well stocked in tea. The bell chimed, summoning tea, as Kori had instructed earlier. And Prince Antonis was already dashing head long into business. Kori smiled to herself and considered his questions. "Things are going well, I think. The change over wasn't completely unexpected, since my aunt's health has been in a decline for some time." "

With you here, the Court is complete. Most have transferred their contracts to my name. I did bring my sister in as Priestess, however, and an old friend as my First Escort." Kori thought about what else he needed to know. So far she had faced very few problems with Baruch. She worried her bottom lip thoughtfully. "There was the collapse of a barn. We had some heavy snowfall, and the building was old, but it stored most of the village's livestock feed. We are still trying to recover the food from the fallen barn and find a sight for a new one. However there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground." Kori shrugged. "So it is, on the mountains." The grass would be coming in before the snow fully vanished.

Offline Stathis Antonis

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2017, 11:08:51 AM »
He hadn’t expected her to open up to him as he had to her - she was a Queen after all, and he just a Prince.  So he had to content himself with what he could observe and surmise for other things he’d heard.  She was young, that much was obvious, and he’d lay money that the Rose she wore was her Birthright and not jewel of rank.  He was tempted to probe and see if it was the only Jewel she wore, but that would be rude, especially on their first meeting.  He filed it away to figure out later.  He had little doubt her training was good - Michel had been the former Queen’s husband after all, and training with him had given Stathis an appreciation for the Queen’s skills as well.  Since he had no reason to doubt Lady Floros’s intelligence or good sense, it was safe to assume she was at the very least competent in her role.  Which was all he really needed.

It was good to know he wasn’t stepping in to an incomplete court.  He’d done that once, and it had been one of the few times he’d been glad he wasn’t the one in charge.  He listened closely as Lady Floros went over the current, thankfully minor issues, nodding even as his mind began working on possible solutions.  ”How are the District’s food stores otherwise?” he asked.  That would be the most important concern.  He was still considering the problem when the tea arrived, and he poured a cup for Lady Floros and then himself.  ”Do you take cream, sugar, or both?” he asked, preparing to file the answer away so he didn’t need to ask again.  Queens always liked it when you could anticipate their desires, even about simple things like tea.  ”At least with snow on the ground there’s less worry about food spoilage.  As long as nothing got too wet.” With a start he realized that Lady Floros might not want to actually talk business over tea.  Mentally he kicked himself and shook his head.  ”Forgive me Lady Floros.  That is all stuff that can be discussed later.”

Offline Koralia Floros

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2017, 04:03:02 PM »

"If you don't count the feed for the animals, the district's food stores are well." Kori hadn't heard anything to refute the claim. "Some laying hens might have been lost with the barn, but not enough for any sort of egg shortage." Which would have been horrible. Kori loved omlettes in the morning.

"Just cream please," She answered with a smile, accepting the cup he'd poured for her. "There is snow on the ground more often than not." It was tiring, at times, the lack of green. But Kori had been born to the high mountains of Dharo, and knew how to live in snow. Kori paused in blowing along the top of her tea to laugh. "Business now is fine, Prince Antonis. I did bring the subject up."

Kori drank, pleased. She thought he would serve much better than that old monster she'd had to run out. She still had nightmares about the rage he'd sent her into. She'd never felt so out of control in her life.

"Other than that, things are mostly peaceful and in order in Baruch. I'm afraid it might not be a very exciting contract for you." Kori shrugged. It was not a very exciting place to rule either. But it was out of the way and hopefully out of mind. She didn't want anyone remembering her too much. They might start to push again for her to make her Offering, among other things.

Offline Stathis Antonis

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2017, 09:51:49 AM »
Stathis was secretly relieved that she was willing to talk business right away.  He could handle small talk of course, it was part of basic court training after all.  But that didn’t mean he had to like it or that he was particularly good at it.  Especially when he now knew there was a problem that the court needed to be working on.  It was good that Lady Floros seemed to see things the same way.  ”The snow does linger in these parts,” he agreed.  He usually liked snow, but it could make problems like this current one more difficult to deal with since it was still a long time until planting season, and longer still until harvest. ”I’ll have to get lists of the District’s supplies, and figure out how we can offer aid to those most affected first.  I don’t suppose you know if your former Steward had records like that?”  Some Queens knew every move their Stewards made.  Some didn’t care to know anything about any of that.  He needed to know which kind Lady Floros was, so he could adapt.

He sipped his tea, turning the problem over in his head.  ”And I’ll need a list of the able-bodied men in the district to help get the moving of everything organized, and to help either pull the barn the rest of the way down or at least propped up until repairs can be made.”  He needed lists.  And a good idea of the District’s finances so he knew what he could offer in the form of pay.  And what could be afforded if they needed to import feed.  ”The barn held mostly feed stores then?  We’ll have to shore that up quickly then, if we don’t want livestock lost.”  An immediate problem, but not an insurmountable one.  A good warm-up task as Steward.  It almost made him smile.

”I don’t need the job to be exciting, Lady Floros,” he said with a slight shrug.  ”Honestly, exciting is usually bad when it comes to Steward’s work.  I only hope to do right by you and the District.”

Offline Koralia Floros

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2017, 01:45:26 PM »

Kori smirked into her tea cup. Indeed the former Steward had had all sorts of lists. Which Kori had promptly lifted from his office after his departure. Or she had once she'd felt better after her fit of temper, which had been exhausting and frightening. Aggy had confined her to her room for the rest of the day afterward.

"I think I have some of those lists in my office. And you are free to rummage in whatever is left over in his." Nothing incriminating, Kori knew, since she had gone digging just for that. She'd found a couple half-penned letters, which she'd set alight with Witchfire, discarding the ashes out of the office window. She glanced at his cup and set her own aside.

"Would you like to go up now and look?" She rose gracefully without really waiting for his answer and headed for the back of the house. "Your room is upstairs, but the Steward's office is back here." Lucky for Stathis it was not under the stairs, but Kori had always found it strange (and a little unnerving) that it was located below the consort quarters. So very nearly her own.

"Here it is. If you want to get acquainted, I can run up to my office quickly and get the lists I have." She wrinkled her nose at the dark, forgotten room. She thought she'd asked for it to be aired, but it didn't seem aired to her. Maybe it was just the lingering malaise from the previous Steward.

Offline Stathis Antonis

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2017, 07:57:16 PM »
Stathis frowned as Lady Floros said she had the lists in her office.  "A Queen shouldn't need to concern herself with those sorts of boring details."  Then again, the court had been without a Steward, so it was probably better that someone was handling those things rather than letting all that information get lost or destroyed he supposed.  So he added, "I'm more than happy to do so."  So Lady Floros didn't think he was criticizing her or anything. 

He set his cup aside a moment after she did, and was about to answer her question when she headed off before waiting for an answer.  But since he would have said the office and that seemed to be where she was headed, he decided not to protest.  It turned out to not be the biggest office he'd ever seen, but it was more than sufficient.  Or would be, once he got things arranged to his satisfaction.  His mind focused on the twin problems of the collapsed barn and the changes he'd want to make to the office, he almost missed Lady Floros's comment.  "Oh, ah, yes.  That would be good."

Offline Koralia Floros

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2017, 09:44:36 AM »

Kori merely laughed at Stathis's comment. Queens did not indeed! Well this one did, even if he was happy to do so. Kori wanted to be involved. She liked being involved, though she was more than happy to leave the bulk of the work (especially monotonous tasks) to her Steward, she still wanted her hands (nose) in everything.

Leaving him to have a look over the office, Kori took herself upstairs as quickly as possible, bounding up the stairs two at a time. Not very decorous, but she liked the loud rapping sound it made. And her aunt was no longer in residence to scold her for being too loud on the stairs. The lists were acquired quickly from her office, it was still new enough to be tidy and organized. Then back down the stairs, though this time at a more reasonable pace. Kori didn't need to go falling down them. Not today especially.

"Here you are Prince Stathis." She smiled and handed the lists to him, looking over the office. "I'm sorry its small, but, that's Baruch. Small and tidy. No space wasted," she quoted her aunt with only a small measure of mockery. Kori glanced at the lists he was holding and sidled closer. "Most of it is the same, but I have promoted this Warlord Prince here," she indicated Nikoalas's name on a list, "to my Second Circle. I couldn't keep as many circles as my aunt, and he wished to remain here in my service."

A Warlord Prince for her court. Kori was still gleeful over it. Even if he was dark Jeweled and a bit frightening. Especially her first court.

Offline Stathis Antonis

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2017, 11:51:21 AM »
Stathis made note of the laugh and then the sounds of her bounding up the stairs like a child and sighed.  It wasn't that he hadn't known she would be young when he took the job.  It was just she appeared to be immature as well.  Never a good quality in a Queen, especially considering he'd heard her court was young as well.  But he was here now, and hopefully he'd be able to provide at least some sort of stabilizing influence.  And this was only a District Court.  There was a limit to how bad things could get.

And then she was back, and thrusting lists at him.  He took them, only half listening to her chatter.  "Only the First Circle is required" he remarked offhandedly as he scanned through the lists, making mental notes of names.  Then he took a second look at the name Lady Floros had indicated, and frowned.  A Warlord Prince wasn't a bad thing to have in a court.  It was the safest place for them to be after all - for them and for the rest of the Blood.  But he was listed as wearing the Green as his Jewel of rank.  Which wasn't the darkest Jewel, sure, but still seemed darker than was safe to have in a Court with an unDescended Queen.  "But I think Second Circle is better in this case" he said carefully.  He'd only just arrived, now was not the time to confront the Queen on who she chose to serve her.  He would, if he felt in necessary, but for now he needed to find out a bit more about her, the court, and of course, about this Warlord Prince as well.  Only when he was sure he was right in his opinions would he bring them to her.  For the stability of the court and the District.

For now though he set the papers down in a neat pile on his desk and offered Lady Floros a polite smile.  "Thank you, Lady Floros.  These will be very helpful.  If you would be so kind as to show me my quarters now, I will get my things unpacked and then turn all my attention to the current problem."

Offline Koralia Floros

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2017, 09:39:25 AM »

He didn't seem as pleased as she was. Kori had expected some sort of surprise, or maybe excitement. Her court was well maintained and well stocked! His lack of reaction was disappointing. She did not pout, however. Kori wasn't sure he was the time to take to that sort of thing (it nearly always worked with Aggy), and she didn't want to embarrass herself if he wasn't.

"Of course!" Inwardly she sighed. Anyone could have shown him to his rooms. Well, maybe he preferred she do it. Which was fine, Kori liked be preferred. Perking up she lead him happily out of the office and up the stairs to where all the rooms were. His were the second farthest from her own. Only the Master of the Guard slept farther, if he staid in the house at all. Kori liked when he chose not too.

"Here you are, Prince Stathis." The door was open and waiting, the room aired and tidy. Everything belonging tot he previous Steward had been purged after being searched through by Kori. "I hope they are to your liking."
 She hesitated, not sure if she should linger or leave him be. Did he want her to help him with the problem? She certainly wasn't going to help him unpack.

Offline Stathis Antonis

Re: unsteady welcomes
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2017, 11:09:07 AM »
Stathis noticed as Lady Floros's expression fell at his request, and he was about to say that she didn't need to if she had other things to attend to, but then her expression brightened again, and went off towards the stairs, obviously assuming he would follow.  He repressed a sigh and followed.  Lady Floros really was turning out to be rather younger - emotionally if not physically - than he might have hoped.  Or expected, considering who she trained under.  He understood now why Michel had wanted him to take this contract so badly.

The room itself was exactly as he expected, especially for a District Court.  Well appointed enough for his uses, and utterly devoid of personal touches.  Those would come once he'd moved in, and he was glad he wouldn't have to worry about his tastes clashing with his Queen's.  He called in his smaller traveling case and set it down on a table.  He was about to undo the latches and set about putting those things away while the butler brought up the trunk, but he noticed Lady Floros's hesitation.  Right.  Young Queen.  Who probably expected him to dive right into the District's problems.  Which he should.  He was a Steward now.  "Unpacking can wait" he said, stepping away from the case.  "If you could just have someone bring my trunk up, I'll take care of all that later.  Shall we return to the office and we can look over what's to be done about this collapsed barn?"
 

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