Royal Wing (North) -- 2nd Floor -- Amber Castle
A winding passageway in the upper floor of the Royal Wing, quiet, broad and carpetted, with lesser corridors branching off. Outwardly, there is little to show that this wing is much different from any other. Doors to private suites and apartments are generally locked, although sometimes an open door might indicate an otherwise unoccupied sitting room. Widely interspersed between them are the usual old paintings and tapestries and the odd decorative chair or table, and the occasional window looks out onto inner courtyards or palace grounds. To one side is a flight of stairs down to the floor below.
Now and then, a breeze wafts through, carrying upon it the refreshing scents of spring. Morninglight filters in, yellow and warming, accompanied by the distant sounds of the palace staff beginning the day's chores.
Tessa comes down the stairs, a small white note in her hand only to hear a rather violent argument.
"Great, " Martin laughs, turning away. "Go ahead, give it to Tessa. See if the nobles don't cut her throat first."
Random snarls, again, over his shoulder, "What's given doesn't have to be officially known." He slams his door behind him.
Martin continues his way southward, towards the end of the hallway.
Tessa blinks, mouth falling open slightly.
Martin heads south along the passage, leaving.
Tessa watches Martin for a time, then crinkles the note in her hand. "I suppose now is a bad time." Then she follows him down the hall.
Martin is fitting a key into the lock of a door at the end of the hallway.
Tessa follows down the hallway, eyes flashing. "Martin." she says succintly. "Might I have a moment of your time?" Her lashes flutter once and her smile is quite fixed.
Martin turns at his name, his hand on the door. "What do you want?" he says, unsmiling, as he sees Tessa there.
Tessa's chin raises faintly. "You said you wanted to see me."
Martin shrugs, considers a moment, then locks the door again. "Well, here you are. What do you want?" he repeats.
Tessa sighs softly, then frowns, voice tense. "You said you had something to tell me. I'm hoping it was something other than a plan for the Nobles to slit my throat."
"Oh, that," Martin says almost off-handedly. "That's what your beloved father's planning for you. I was rather hoping to keep you alive for a few more years."
Tessa's lips purse. "Lucky for me. Can you explain that a bit further. I tend to slow a bit upon hearing the morbid fantasies of my relatives announced to the Castle. It's a quirk. I'll outgrow it."
Martin looks round, and gestures wearily towards the tower door. "Let's go in there," he says.
Tessa nods. "Alright."
Martin follows Tessa into the room, and glances round doubtfully. "Mm," he shrugs. "It'll do."
Tessa glances round, then claims a chair.
Martin makes his way over to a window, perches himself on the sill. "Alright," he begins. "Your father is now King. Doubtless, this hasn't escaped your notice."
Tessa frowns slightly. "I noticed."
"Yeah, well, maybe what you haven't noticed is what that means for us," Martin says sourly, as his gaze drifts out the window.
Her brow arches slightly. "It rather doesn't mean anything to me yet. Should it?"
"Well," Martin snorts, amused. "For one thing, it means we've both got this big sign around our necks that say 'Shoot me, please. I'm a sitting duck."
Tessa frowns again. "I've worn that sign since the day you brought me here."
"The sign got bigger when Random became King," Martin replies.
Tessa sighs faintly. "I wasn't expecting it to go away. I suppose this means the local nobles are off my Christmas list too?"
Martin just shakes his head, "Tessa, understand this: you have no friends here. Those who would befriend you seek the King's daughter, not you."
"And as for the nobles," he shrugs again, "that depends very much on what you do. Or don't do."
Tessa raises a hand to her chest a moment. "Oh. Of course. Not a laughing matter." she says her words tinged with sardonic taste. "Should I summon a few tears?" she sighs then brushing her hair back from her eyes. "I'm friendless, powerless, and everyone who befriends me seeks my position not me. I've returned to high school." she shrugs. "With a few more knives."
Martin shifts his gaze to Tessa, "I don't think you understand."
Tessa's brow arches faintly. "Do I not understand that my life is not valued highly? I assure you I do. Do I not understand that I am in danger?" there is a pause and a brief spurt of laughter. "I assure you I have acknowledged it. Do I not understand that my father is king, he has no time for me nto even enough to ensure my safety? I had noticed." she pauses and then fixes her eyes on you. "I am new Martin but not blind. I am aware of my tenuous position. I simply choose not to cry over it."
"Who said anything about crying? Your duty is to the Realm," Martin says slowly, his dark gaze fixed on Tessa. "If by your actions and words, you threaten the King's position, *I* will slit your throat myself."
Tessa's eyes narrow. "Maybe instead of threatening me you could tell me what those duties are?"
"That was not a threat, Tessa," Martin says irritably. "It was a warning. Watch how you conduct yourself. The rumors have not been kind."
Tessa frowns. "They wouldn't be. Considering who started them."
"The rumors that take hold the strongest are those shared by many," Martin says. "And I'm getting a little tired of defending your name everywhere I go."
Tessa's back straightens. "Should I apologize or thank you?"
"You should have a care how you deal with others, that's what you should do," Martin suggests unkindly. "Try paying attention to the real world once in a while. It might keep both our heads on our shoulders and your father's as well."
There is a grinding of teeth. "I am having a care how I deal with people. This is not exactly natural to me." Her lips purse. "It's not as if all this came with a screenplay and an acting coach. I rather have to play on instincts."
"Simple caution is not natural to you?" Martin says with a raised brow. "Courtesy among strangers is unknown to you?"
Tessa's eyes flare and her mouth snaps shut tightly, her fingers tap a moment. "I will pay closer attention to my levels of courtesy and caution." she finally says, through tightly clenched teeth.
"You should not have had to be told this," Martin says, looking out the window again. "We can ill afford to have you threaten the King's position just because you were too arrogant and idiotic to be polite."
Tessa's eye rolls skyward, and her fingers tap against her skirt. "Alright." she manages. Her breathing has become rather... paced.
Martin says nothing for a little while, still gazing out the window. "Tessa," he begins quietly.
"Yes?" she says softly.
"Look, I know this hasn't been easy for you," Martin says after a moment. "I tried to warn you of that before. Guess I didn't do a very good job there."
Tessa's shoulders rise a bit. "It'll get better."
"I wasn't kidding about the rest of it, though," Martin turns to face Tessa. "You may be the King's daughter, but as far as everyone here is concerned, you're just some crazy bastard chit of a girl. If you want respect, you'll have to earn it, same as the rest of us did. No one will sprinkle flowers before you. No one will make it easy, except to get something back from you, or to get at the King."
"I don't care about being the daughter of a king and I don't want
flowers." Tessa's posture loosens some. "I will work on it."
"And I'll watch what I say for courtesy."
Martin shakes his head again. "It doesn't matter what *you* want, or what *I* want. The fact is, you *are* the King's daughter, and the nobles, and everyone else, can see you're the weak link." He pauses, adds. "Please do so."
Tessa nods again. "I shall."
Martin watches Tessa a long moment, and just nods. "Oh, and you'll probably want this back," he fishes around inside his jacket for something.
Tessa returns her gaze to you. "Hmm?"
Martin removes a plain, slim dagger from within his jacket. "Try not to lose it again," he says, tossing it towards her, hilt first.
Tessa catches it, looking down at it a moment. "Thank you." she says simply and she slides it into her boot, letting the skirt fall back over it.
"If you're going to stab someone," Martin suggests softly, and perhaps, with a trace of amusement. "Do it from behind, or else don't miss."
Tessa looks away. "I didn't stab him. I didn't draw it."
Martin ohs? "What then?"
Tessa shakes her head. "Does it matter now?"
"To me, yes," Martin says, then looks up at the sound of footsteps.
Tessa frowns. "Fine. He decided his cigarette would be best put out in my eye. I disagreed with him. He moved forward, I laid my hand upon the sheath." she shrugs. "He's stronger than I."
A messenger steps into view along the corridor, peering ahead of him at the sound of voices. "Milord, milady? I bear a message from his majesty, the King."
Martin holds up a hand to shush Tessa. "Later," he says to her. "What?" he says to the messenger.
Tessa looks up then, at the messenger's entrance.
The messenger clears his throat. "Ahem, a message, milord, milady," he bows, and enters, handing a note to Martin, and then one to Tessa.
Tessa takes the message and runs her eyes over it, wariness entering her eyes and then weariness follows it.
Martin accpets the note, and when the messenger is done, dismisses him. Then he opens the note, scanning it quickly.
Without a further word, the messenger bows and exits the room quickly, and is soon nothing more than the sound of deoparting footsteps.
Martin lets out a long, drawn breath, and folds up the note, slipping it into a pocket. "Here we go again," he says. "So, do you feel up to being summoned to the King's presence?"
Tessa rises, pushing her shoulders back. "Yes." she says simply intaking a deep breath. "Certainly, it wouldn't do to keep him waiting."
Martin mutters something under his breath as he gets off the sill. "No, it wouldn't do to keep the King waiting," he says, his expression souring. "After you, sister."
Tessa leaves the room spine stiff.
Tessa and Martin head through the halls down to Random's Apartment, pasuing at the door, which Tessa knocks upon.
Tessa lifts a hand at Random's door, pauses, then raps upon it.
From inside the room, you hear a man call out, "Who is it?"
"Martin and Tessa." She says in reply to the query, waiting.
"Maybe you should knock again," Matin says, almost joking.
Tessa turns to look at Martin, then looks back to the door.
Martin shrugs, begins humming a tuneless air to pass the time.
From inside the room, you hear a man call out, "Come in."
Martin opens the door for Tessa, and moves back to let her enter first.
Vialle straightens her hair and dress, quick.
Martin opens the door for Tessa, then follows her in.
Random is standing next to Vialle, looking faintly smug. "Ahh, glad you could come so soon," he says. "Have a seat."
"What now?" Martin says from the open doorway.
Tessa seats herself, eyes upon Vialle for a moment.
Vialle sits on the divan, composed, hands laid neatly in her lap.
Random gives Martin a dark look, walking over to the table and picking up his crown. "Come in and have a seat," he repeats.
Random senses "Tessa looks quite uncomfortable and angry. as if the dentist had been pulling teeth without novacaine."
Random places the crown on his head, competently enough, leaving it perfectly straight without effort.
Martin regards Random a moment, shuts the door behind him, and crosses over to the back of Tessa's seat.
Tessa glances up at Martin, then turns in the chair, turning towards him also.
Random indicates the other chair with one hand, waiting for Martin to take it. He is, uncharicteristically, solemn.
Martin studies Random for the longest second before moving to comply. Another moment, and he's seated, lounging back in the chair, eyes fixed on his father, his features parked in neutral.
Vialle tilts her head slightly, turning her face a little to follow the footsteps.
Tessa shifts back to the position she held before, eyes upon Random.
Random sits, then, finally, unrolling a sheif of papers before him. "I have spent some time working out exactly what places you two will take in Amber now that I'm King. I have all of the paperwork filled out to declare both of you my legal heirs." His eyes linger on Martin a moment. "Amber cannot survive another battle for the Throne. My Father never declared an heir. To the best f my knowledge, my brother, Eric, didn't either. That trend is ending here. Martin, you will take your place as my heir. In th e event of my death, I /will/ not have Amber fall to the jackels again."
Martin's response, eventually, is to raise an eyebrow warily. "Why?"
Random says, simply, "You are the best canidate. none of my brothers will do. If they would take it, they would not do what's best for Amber." He turns to Tessa, smiling slightly -- a little sadly, perhaps? -- and says, "And you, Tessa, did not grow up in any world that would prepare you for this. You have much to learn. I know you will do so well."
Tessa's brow rises. "If the apologetic tone is for not offering me heirship it is unneccessary. I don't desire it."
Vialle simply sits, quietly, listening. If she was expecting - or, for that matter, is surprised by - anything Random says, it doesn't show in her expression.
Martin's gaze narrows, never leaving Random. "We have to talk," he says very quietly, to his father.
Random smiles, then, truly, to Tessa. "Neither did I." He turns back to Martin, nodding once. "Yes, we do," he says, then passes over the papers to them. "The scholars already have copies of these." Both are declarations of the two of them as Randoms acknowledged children.
"Now," Martin says, an edge to his voice. "Alone."
Random arches his brow at Martin, his voice still calm and edgeless. "A moment," he says, "and yes." He stands, then, walking around the table. "Please come by tomorrow, Tessa," he says. "I have more to discuss with you in private, but it can wait."
Tessa nods again, rising, she moves to the door then pauses at it. "It was a pleasure to see you Vialle." she says softly, then opens the door.
Vialle says softly, "And you, Tessa." She turns her face toward Random. "Shall I absent myself as well?"
Tessa nods again. "Martin, Father."
Martin nods to Random, but ignores Tessa.
Tessa, opens the door and steps out into the hallway. She pauses a moment there, then hurries up the stairs to her rooms.