East Meets West

Started by Lapis Lazuli at Dec 10, 2021 6:09 PM
2 Posts

We're making messes out of silence

30 Posts

The arrangements were made, the invitations were sent and the festivities had begun long before the clandestine meeting of the sons of the East and West kingdoms. Lapis Lazuli, resplendent in a set of peacock-blue robes that trailed to the ground, was trotted through the traditional ceremony of bonding for about the tenth time.

His haughty mother and his regal father sat on their thrones, watching the proceedings with a critical eye. At least, his mother did, and every time someone stuttered, she would incinerate them with hardly more than a lazy flick of a crimson-nailed finger. Eventually, the rest of the performers took the hint and the last practice session went so smoothly that even his mother had nothing to complain about. 

Lapis drifted away from the ceremonial altar, stifling a yawn. He was tired. This marriage was far more trouble than he thought it was worth and truthfully he had no idea why they wanted him, of all the dark fae in the kingdom, to participate in this. It could have been any one of his brothers, they were mostly all of marrying age: Garnet, Ruby, Iolite, Beryl, Onyx...

Well, perhaps not Onyx, who was likely to begin collecting husbands the way he collected creatures

It could have been anyone, but the Harkens chose him. Lapis wasn't even the oldest; he was third in line for the throne. The heir was Carnelian, whose ambitions to rule in their father's place once he passed was no secret. Good for him--Lapis wasn't concerned with the running of a kingdom. His interests were, admittedly, all self-serving. He wanted to see the world. To travel. To sample poisons from the far ends of the Outworld and to see what other, powerful dark magics existed beyond the boundaries of their lands that he could learn and bring back to his people. He, like his brothers and father and mother, wished for the Dark Kingdom to rise once more, as great as it was when He, whose name was forbidden to utter, presided. 

But it seemed that restoration of their rightful place as rulers over all fae-kind came at the price of Lapis' personal freedoms. Much of him chafed at the thought of a husband. That it was his cousin, a child of his uncle's from the East kingdom, did not unduly bother him. They were both males; it wasn't as though they would bear a hideous inbred child. Surrogates would be found and the process was all depressingly impersonal where suitable heirs of same-sex royal couples were concerned.

He wondered, though, if there was something... wrong with him. Was he hideous? Daft? (Touched, as they say, in the head?) Or had he fallen out of favor with his parents, and they wanted to push him out of their way as soon as possible? Lapis hoped, selfishly, that he wasn't daft. He could cope with an ugly husband and besides, there were charms for that sort of physical misfortune. He could deal with a troublesome upstart one, since Lapis was good with put-downs and had an acid tongue.

But a stupid one... How could he live with an oafish, dense husband? All of those clever quips would go right over his head!

Lapis took after his mother. She was a strong, dark beauty and a ruthless, sly assassin, having killed off three of her own sisters simply to secure her seat on the throne. That was admirable; it certainly caught his father's attention and demanded his respect, more so when she had his previous children, Lapis' half-siblings, executed so that her brood could take their place as rightful heirs. Lapis expected nothing less of the woman who ruled by the side of the king. After all, what was power for, but to be used to one's advantage?

Perhaps he could poison his husband. There was a thought! Citrine could help; he knew poisons better than Lapis. Excitedly, and now forgetting his tiredness, he hurried out of the cavernous ballroom and sped down a flight of narrow steps. Citrine was usually to be found in his laboratory, brewing up strange concoctions. When Lapis burst through the door, there he was behind a thin flame, stirring a delicate flask with a glass rod. He started, cursed, nearly dropped the rod and had to hurriedly place a hand on the neck of the flask to prevent it from toppling over. "You buffoon!" Citrine hissed, glaring over the rim of his thick goggles. "You almost ruined a year's worth of research!"

"You look utterly stupid in those goggles," Lapis replied carelessly as he slammed the door behind him. "Citrine, I need help poisoning my husband."

Citrine doused the flame and stared at him. His eyes looked comically bulged behind the goggles, which he seemed to realize when Lapis laughed, because he yanked them off and set them onto the top of the bench. A reddish ring remained around his eyes, where the seal of the goggles had pressed into his skin. "Bit early, isn't it? You've not met him yet."

Lapis rolled his eyes. "No, in case he turns out to be--"

"Stupid," Citrine finished for him and shook his head disapprovingly. "Right? You'd rather die than marry a dumb river gnoll because you think you're sooooo clever."

"Ugh. Why should I put up with a dense husband when I'm already being forced into this sham marriage? I should at least have stimulating conversations with him, if we're to be together forever." Lapis sniffed and floated over to see what Citrine was working on. The potion inside of the flask swirled noxious greens and blues and the stench was abominable. He pulled back from it immediately with a noise of disgust.

"Maybe I'll give him a sniff of this, and he'll die from the fumes!" 

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We're making messes out of silence

30 Posts

"Which one is he?"

"Is it the one in black?"

"No, it must be that one in green!"

"The tall one to the left? Or the one behind the pile of gifts?"

"They're all handsome! I wonder if some of them will stay with us..."

Lapis jiggled his foot underneath the ceremonial robes that covered his lap, as he and his brothers sat upon their thrones on a tall dais in the back of the ballroom. A tier above were their parents, the king and queen, casting their judicious eye over all assembled, but that didn't stop some of his younger brothers from whispering amongst themselves. Lapis side-eyed Onyx, who had that certain over-excited tone in his voice. 

"Don't even think about it, you wretch," Lapis hissed at him, when he noticed Onyx reaching for something underneath his robe. He was met with a vacuous little laugh as Onyx swiftly withdrew his hand--but the glimmer in his young brother's eyes was far too sharp and sly. Onyx was like that. He acted bubbly, sweet, deceptively foolish, and underneath it all was a conniving, scheming, vile, hoarding little creature. That was why he was Lapis' favorite. 

Leaning over to get a better look at the procession from the Eastern kingdom, Lapis tried to single out his husband-to-be. The males were all handsome, and all held themselves with the surety of proud warriors as they paraded in their traditional garb. The females, too, were exceptionally graceful. Lapis expected nothing less, of course. The East was known for its ruthless, warmongering ways. So was the West, but their methods were more sinister. They seemed perfect counterparts to one another, Lapis had to admit, one working in the shadows and the other out in the open, creating intimidation, chaos and sowing discord in every direction. 

He caught sight of someone who could have passed for his father's twin, with a curved, dangerous-looking jeweled sword swaying by his side. Lapis had seen a similarly made dagger in his father's possession, so he assumed that this was his uncle. The lady beside him looked neither left nor right as she walked with swaying hips and head held impossibly high. His aunt.

It felt strange noting that these dark fae were related to him; he had never seen them before in his life. When Lapis was growing up, they were still at odds with the East and their families never mingled. His father spoke of his uncle in grim tones and his mother would sniff when questioned and tell them to mind their own business and be off. Lapis didn't bother himself with thoughts of them; he had far more important things to attend to.

But now that their kingdoms were merging and he was forced to think about them, he had to pay them some attention. His glance flicked away in search of an oafish-looking one among the delegation, in case that was his husband. To his great relief, they all seemed capable. Attractive. The superior part of him, however, said that they paled in comparison to himself and his brothers, lined up so neatly in a row wearing the colors of their gemhearts. Lapis himself was in deep, royal blue, chased in silver at the hems, and sat in the middle as the groom. 

The procession stopped before the dais and his uncle and aunt stepped forward with slow, measured steps. Lapis' father and mother descended, with equally slow, measured steps, and greeted them solemnly before drawing them up the stairs to be seated. Both sets of kings and queens occupying the highest places in the room, the ceremony began. The display of swordsmanship by their guests was interesting, Lapis could admit. Some rather fancy tricks were shown and when they singled out one particular man, Lapis knew that he was the other groom.

He watched as they flourished their glittering swords, tossing them high into the air and twirling in fantastical formations before neatly catching them, all the while chanting fearsome warcries. The swords twirled and flashed hypnotically as they danced through the air. Lapis kept his gaze on his husband-to-be, watching him with a hawk-like gaze and following the curves and planes of his body as he displayed his prowess in a show of skill meant to impress. Maybe it did. A little. Particularly when his husband-to-be sheathed his weapon and then drew out a musical instrument and filled the ballroom with indescribably beautiful music, piquing Lapis' interest. This was skill of a different kind, and he appreciated that more than he wanted to admit.

When the show was over, to the enthusiastic applause of the onlookers, Lapis stood. His turn now, as was customary. A little show to impress the peasants first, highlighting the skills of each side, and then the rest of the boring ceremony, many more formalities, and then... He supposed then, he would figure out if his husband needed poisoning.

A line of human performers glided up to the dais. Lapis descended and in that moment he was actually grateful to his mother for having put him through his paces so thoroughly. He could remember each element of the performance perfectly. Practice really did make perfect! Lapis let the others form a ring around him, all holding hands, while he walked up to the altar placed in the middle of the room. The others began to chant an eerie dirge--a song of death.

Lapis held out his hands and lifted them, palms up, as though conducting a symphony. Droplets of blood seeped out of the performers around him, forming a crimson veil that surrounded Lapis. Their chanting weakened the more blood was taken from them, until one-by-one they crumpled, dead, at Lapis' feet and all that remained was their blood suspended in a perfect beaded curtain, glistening beautifully like individual gems. 

He manipulated the blood around him like a maestro of death, with graceful sweeps of the arms and hands. Blood weaving was a skill passed directly to him by his mother, and he had spent his entire life mastering the deadly art. Ribbons of silky red surrounded him in licentious formations, dancing through the air the way that the warriors' blades and bodies had only moments ago. Lapis stole a peek at his husband-to-be. Was he... moderately impressed? Lapis had just killed twenty of his own slaves for a show--that counted for something, didn't it? But outwardly he was focused, almost bored, as he wove the blood into intricate patterns to show them his skill, his prowess.

At the finale he directed the blood into an innocuous wooden chalice laying on the altar. No matter how much blood was poured into it, though, it never filled. A bottomless goblet filled with sacrificial blood was his wedding gift to his husband.

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