Who: James Castille
With: Malia Campbell, Sanya Nimr other royal party guests
Where: Castle courtyard, King's City
When: February 28th, evening
"Send your parents our best wishes, if you would," Malia said, daring to presume including James' wishes in there. "Their situations must be severe," to risk their standing in court by sending their young daughter to such a monumental event! Didn't the Southern Dutchy already pay less in tax than the others?
"How does it suit you?" Malia asked, gesturing at the necklace around Sanya's throat. It was a loaded question if ever there was one: How ready are you to usurp your parents? "I think it couldn't be lovelier."
"Two generations after King Belmont built this castle, the Duchess Nimr of the time commissioned this. She was, among other things, a falconer," Sanya said smoothly. Malia had not asked for a story, but her question merited one. What little intelligence her family had of this duchess indicated that she was new blood, unfamiliar to the nobility. She may not have understood that the Nimrs had ruled the South for hundreds of years before the War of the Undead, before Paxton had taken the throne. Her ancestors had appointed the ancestors of each of the dukes. Hers was not the royal blood, but it was the oldest.
"When any man looked upon her with anything less than the proper respect for her station or dismissed her words, she had merely to wave her hand, and one of her falcons would dive down as if from nowhere and pluck out their eyes." She touched the falcon gently as she gave Duke Castile a look that was perhaps a little more pointed than it should have been to maintain civility. "This was her… reminder to those in her presence to be mindful of their actions. It was a favorite of my grandmother's." Another polite smile, carefully formed from a lifetime of practice and preparation. "I enjoy the story of it as much as the design. True craftsmanship, to endure over five centuries and still gleam the way it does."
She glanced down from Malia's face to the necklace around her throat--a modern-looking piece that paralleled designs that were popular in jeweler's shops lately. She looked back to the new Duchess's eyes, and the question that followed was maybe one drip too sweet in tone to be truly sincere. "Did you buy your necklace just for this festival? It's lovely, too."
The Duke had been watching the other nobles around them, how they prattled on like children. Talking gossip and stories best left in the taverns that birthed them. He turned his head toward the two women in his close proximity, and took in the younger one with a dark gaze. For a moment the image of his large hands tearing that elegant necklace away, and surrounding the long column of the daughter of the Southern Duchy's neck filled his mind....Do it! Do it, the little bitch!
The snide little catty backhanded compliment toward the Duchess of the North. Who had tried, although it was unasked for, to play diplomat between them.
James blinked and the predatory glare was gone, and he politely nodded his head. "A fascinating story, my lady. We use eagles for hunting in the East.... We prefer larger prey than mice" a stony, tight smile curled his mouth, but there was no amusement in his eyes. He had been through far more trials, at a far younger age, her little threats meant nothing to him. Her parentage meant nothing to him. She meant nothing to him.
And if she was as intelligent as she thought she was, she would stay clear of him. Still.... this was his brother's festival. He should not spoil it... not yet, at least with churlish behavior.
"Forgive my unmannerly disposition, ladies. My demeanor is not for festivities of birthright or social graces, but marauders in the enchanted woods. And the soon to come execution of one of their werewolves in these very dungeons.... Will surely bring more tolerable, genteel behavior in polite society". Well, it was honest although rather blunt, and gruesome.