glacial_queen: (You're Asking For It)
"One more time," Karla said, massaging her temples and counting backwards from ten. "The rule is...?"

Morton and Julian glared at one another before sullenly reciting, "We don't get to fight over the baby."

"Especially...?" Karla couldn't believe that she had to go over this with them. Again.

"When we're holding the baby."

"What happens when we do?"

"We lose baby-holding privileges for the rest of the day," they intoned. With another dirty look at Julian, Morton stepped forward and handed Kayla to her mother. "He started it," he muttered, loud enough to be overheard.

"Did not."

"Did too."

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"Did n--"

"I swear by the Darkness, I will make it a whole week if the two of you don't stop bickering immediately!" Karla snapped, which caused Kayla to immediately begin fussing. Karla gave them both Look what you did! glares. "Shh, shh, shh, it's all right, baby girl," she soothed, jerking her chin towards the door so the idiot males she was stuck with knew to let themselves out. "Don't cry, little one, it's okay. Mommy's gotten rid of the morons." Karla sat on the rocking chair that Dinah had given them and gently rocked until Kayla settled down and fell back asleep. "Here's hoping the rest of your aunts and uncles know better," she said, since emails, texts, and other various kinds of notifications had gone out, apprising all and sundry that the estate was now open for visitors who wanted to meet Kayla. "Or that they all visit one at a time so no fights break out. Because this is apparently my life now. Refereeing squabbles over who gets to hold the baby." She pressed a kiss to Kayla's forehead. "Wanna see if Mommy and Daddy's high school friends are better at sharing than their Court?"

[Open for folks what want to come and visit!]
glacial_queen: (Dinnertime)
One of the most difficult skills one needed to cultivate as Queen was the ability to look interested and focused on anything, even while your brain was elsewhere--in Karla's case, hundreds of leagues away, fretting over several small villages that had been covered in an avalanche. While all she wanted to do was remain at the estate, continuing to go over emergency relief plans, she was here instead, smiling and nodding and being overall a gracious and sociable Queen. Raven's luncheon for the caretakers and staff of various Sidran orphanages and children's homes had been a rousing success, raising funds from aristos who wanted to be seen as 'charitable' and raising morale for the people who actually did the hard work in the institutions themselves. Several grinning orphans were there, too, lucky enough to have earned a lunch with their Queen and the Court Healer, the woman who was putting in all the real effort into making things better for children across Glacia.

This was a good event and an important one, one that Karla and Raven had both been looking forward to for weeks, but right now it was all Karla could do not to gnash her teeth in impatience. How much longer did they have to stand here and smile and glad-hand when there were actual lives in danger?

And if this was how Karla was feeling, how much worse was it for Raven, who could teleport up north with a thought and start healing people immediately, if only they didn't have to be here right now?

Meanwhile, up in the mountains... )

[Part 2 of 3. Thanks to both [livejournal.com profile] furnaceface and [livejournal.com profile] trigons_child for their wonderful help with this preplay. NFI, NFB, OOC is enjoyed. Warning for violence and NPC death].
glacial_queen: (Talking 3)
After another night of difficulty falling asleep and rest troubled by vague and disquieting dreams (all thanks to one errant Consort who was now several days past due and not answering his damn phone!), Karla had opted for a late breakfast in bed this morning. There was nothing wrong with enjoying some of the perks of being Queen of an entire Territory, dammit, especially when she was just a few hours away from having to get dressed to visit Sidra for Raven's orphanage fundraiser and luncheon. Why get dressed just to have breakfast when she was just going to have to change into something obnoxiously formal and fancy in a little while anyway?

She'd just finished letting her contraceptive brew steep when a psychic thread stabbed into her shields hard enough to make her jerk. Hot tea scalded her hand leaving a bright red mark behind, but that was nothing compared to the news she was receiving.

*Lady!* Mallory 'shouted' into her skull. *There's been an avalanche in the north! At least one village has been lost, their Queen is dead, and possibly more than one. I'm getting multiple reports on psychic threads, requests for assistance, everything. I'm heading back to the estate now,* Mallory continued. He'd been in Sidra, overseeing the last of the preparations for the afternoon. *But here's everything I know so far.* The information he relayed was grim, as was his reminder that this was all early news yet. It would likely only become more bleak as the day went on.

At the word 'avalanche,' Karla had flung herself out of bed, breakfast forgotten. By the time he'd gotten to the estimated casualties--in the hundreds, perhaps thousands--Karla had thrown on her bathrobe, opened the doors to her suite, and started shouting orders to whatever members of estate staff were nearby. She needed members of her First Circle, maps of the region, lists of emergency supplies, names of Healers with experience in these kinds of situations, whatever was necessary to assist her people.

So much for the perks of being a Queen. )

[NFI, NFB, OOC is love. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] furnaceface for preplaying! Part 1/3]
glacial_queen: (The Hall/The Keep/The Estate)
It was fitting that they were here on tonight of all nights. Unlike the rest of the Realms who were drinking the blooded rum and dancing in honor of Witch (or, at least giving lip service to the idea), tonight those closest to Witch were gathered in the Keep to honor her a little more concretely.

Tonight, the first night of Winsol, they had gathered to the Dark Throne to see Jaenelle form her Court and become Queen of Ebon Askavi.

Telling herself she wasn't nervous--and why should she be nervous, this was her friend, this was Jaenelle, surely wearing the Ebony was no different than wearing thirteen uncut Black Jewels. Either way it was more power than Karla could really even contemplate, so what was the big deal really even if, sure, there had never been anything like this in the entire history of the Blood.

Right, so, anyway, telling herself she wasn't nervous despite the pounding heart, the sweaty palms, and internal monologue that raced along a million miles a minute, Karla entered the large stone chamber that Draca had indicated was the place where the invited guests were to wait until they were summoned to the Dark Throne. Except for the blackwood pillars that contained the candle-lights and a few long tables against the walls that held assorted beverages, the room was bare of furniture.

In which canon progresses! )
A gong sounded throughout the Keep. Once. Twice. Thrice. Then, after a pause, a fourth time.

Four times for the four sides of the Blood triangle, the fourth side being what was held within the other three. Like the three males--Steward, Master of the Guard, and Consort/Escort--who formed a strong, intimate triangle around a Queen.

At the back of the room, huge double doors opened outward, revealing a dark emptiness.

Paying no attention to the hesitant stirring around him, Saetan set his glass aside, smoothed his hair one final time, and straightened his new clothes. Since Protocol dictated that processions went from light Jewels to dark, first all the males and then the females, he probably figured he would be at the end of the male line.

Karla and Lucivar exchanged a look and then Lucivar poked his father in the side. )

Saetan had stayed below a little longer than the rest, lingering to talk to Lorn until Lucivar had stormed downstairs and demanded that Saetan come up and keep Karla from picking on him--though he couched it in threats, of course.

With a smile, Saetan followed his youngest son up the stairs to the upper chamber, where he accepted a glass of yarbarah and looked at the animated, laughing faces that now ruled Kaeleer. He wondered what Lorn thought about the many-strand web Jaenelle had woven over Kaeleer, the web that had called so many races out of the mist they'd hidden in for thousands of years.

And, like Karla, he wondered what the Dark Council was going to think. Also like Karla, the idea of their reaction made a wicked smile bloom.

[One more tiny bit of canon catchup and we'll be done with this book! Much of the post taken directly from Heir to the Shadows, by Anne Bishop, Chapter 16, Part 3. Many, many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] trigons_child and [livejournal.com profile] not_a_parakeet for letting me shove their characters in and give them fun lines from canon. NFI. NFB for off-island shenanigans, OOC is love!]
glacial_queen: (Taken Aback)
When Mallory had been asked by Queen Ilyse and Prince Audric to come tutor their young daughter, he had been honored and delighted. Several months later, the shiny had been rubbed off both the honor and delight, but he had become fond of enough Karla to continue to teach her for years, up until the tragic accident that had claimed her parents' lives and gotten her shipped off to live with the local Hourglass coven her aunt Kay had been a part of. When Hobart had announced Karla's 'death,' Mallory had spent a week mourning the spoiled, yes, but also sweet, imaginative, and precocious child he had taught.

In the years she'd been gone, time and nostalgia had blunted the worst of her childhood antics, helping him forget that classes were just as often characterized by biting, kicking, crying, and arguing as they were learning, studying, and behaving (Darkness bless behaving.) All that had come rushing back to him over the past four days, dealing with her much-younger self--and her much-younger friends. Even being the Steward to the headstrong and still impetuous Queen and her entire Court was easier than this.

Mallory couldn't help but reflect on these facts as he pulled Karla down the hall by her ear. He'd caught her in his office a few moments earlier "playing" some kind of game that had involved a jam sandwich and a great deal of ink all over his desk, his chair, and the floor. Coincidentally enough, those were the same places he could see much of his paperwork, also under the ink. Any last ideals he'd had about respecting the Queenly dignity she was due as an adult when flying out the window (possibly with more of his papers) as he'd grabbed her ear and began dragging Karla towards her room, a bath, and the tender mercies of anyone who was not him.

What neither of them had been expecting, however, was for the filthy, shrieking child was to suddenly return to being an equally-filthy-but-less-inclined-to-shriek adult halfway towards their destination. It was Mallory who ended up yelping when the ear he was pinching shot up two feet in the air.

"Karla!" he said, half-surprised and half-thrilled. "You're back!" Before she could respond, however, he was grasping her shoulders with a hissed, "Don't you move or I will throttle you," and running off to find Julian, Morton, and anyone else he could find. Their Queen was an adult again. They were going to get this bloody coronation over with before something else could happen, come Hell or high water.

[NFB, open for folks what are here, SP is gonna be a thing, pls to be waiting for OCD]
glacial_queen: (Orders)
"You're joking."

Karla looked at Morton, who was doing his damnedest not to grin as he shook his head. "Not at all. Julian is out there with them now, escorting them through the camp."

Rubbing the bridge of her nose, Karla repeated the information that he'd just told her. "So...a group of Blood from Sidra have traveled all this way to come beg an audience with me?"

"That's what they said," Morton agreed. "They made sure to refer to you as the true and rightful Queen, too. Julian thinks they want something from you."

"Of course they do," Karla growled. "Still, it's not like I can ignore a positive overture from Sidra. Especially since they had to tromp through snow and half the Bloody Territory to deliver it." She turned away from the medicines she was brewing, signaling for another journeymaid to come take over for her. "How long until they arrive?"

"You probably have about fifteen minutes," Morton assured her. "Julian's taking them the long way through camp. Deliberately."

"Good on him," Karla approved. "Okay, make sure we have warm food and mulled wine waiting in the front of my tent. Then round up the usual suspects and make sure they're medium fancy and in my tent in ten."

"Your will is my life, Lady," Morton said with an extravagant bow. Karla pelted him with a snowball from behind and ran off to her tent, laughing.

***

Ten minutes later, several members of her First Circle were assembled and waiting for their guests. Karla, ever the diplomat, had ordered several of the posters they'd taken from Sidra to be hung about the walls. She had a large and imposing chair to sit it, but had not yet called in for additional chairs. The attending Blood would stand before her until she had ascertained their motives for visiting, both stated and not.

She'd changed from her working clothes into a dress, warm and finely crafted, but with very little ornamentation. Her hair was pulled back to frame her face, but again, the style was attractive, but simple. There were more papers than gilding in her tent, and while everything was of high-quality, it all had the air of use to it. There was nothing here that was only useful for show. The food was heart, warm, and filling, but practical, and she ate no differently than anyone else in the camp. She was drawing a stark contrast between herself and the ostentatious Court of her uncle's.

Time to see whether they could really handle the Queen she was going to be, rather than the whatever kind of Queen they'd traveled here expecting.

"Game on," she murmured, just loud enough to be heard by Morton and Warren, who were flanking her chair, and Raven who was mirroring Mallory's position just off to the side. "Let's see what these folks are after, shall we?"

[For thems in Glacia with her!]
glacial_queen: (Yelling)
*HEALERS!* Karla snapped on an open psychic thread. *I need all the Healers stat! And anyone to help lift and carry!*

Hard to say who was in more need of a Healer right then: Jono, who looked gray and haggard and was moving in clear pain, or Raven, who was whey-faced and collapsed on the ground.

...Probably Raven, at least by the time Karla was done with her.

People poured out of the camp, helping the remaining members of Jono's squad to their feet (or picking them up all together) and carrying them to the nursing tent. Karla was using Craft to help her pick up Raven's prone body. "You'd better not die on me," she snarled. "Because I am 100% not done with you yet!"

Read more... )

[OOC: And that's nearly the last of the preplays, and the beginning of the end of Glacia's war! Preplayed with all the lovelies who appear within. Previous posts can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here. NFI, NFB, and OOC is love.]
glacial_queen: (Shocked (Unpleasant))
Karla looked at the heaps of the dead surrounding her camp and blinked back tears. The only "upside" to this--and yes, Karla was thinking of that in quotations--was that most of the dead were not her own.

Except for how they were, of course. Everyone was hers. Both sides. The people the dead left behind--they were hers, too. And the loss and grief they would feel when they discovered their children, siblings, and loved ones were gone were her hers to carry.

Hobart had sent an army of his own against her )

"War is Hell," Morton said softly, looking out at the scene.

"No," Karla whispered. "Uncle Saetan would never allow something like this to happen there."

"Then what would you call it?"

"Just war," she said. "There's no other word horrifying enough to come close."

[For team Glacia. NFB. Trigger Warning for death and horrors of war]
glacial_queen: (Serious queen)
The further south their great procession had traveled, the more things had changed. Some of that was purely geographical, of course. They'd left the mountains and the great pine forests long behind them, trading them in for fields and rivers made mighty by the runoff from the mountains that only stopped when the weather turned water to ice. They had not yet hit Glacia's true agricultural region--that lay in the wealthier and more settled south--but small hills and dales were dotted with sheep and brightly-colored cottages in large and prosperous villages.

The weather had also changed as they'd ridden and marched and trained. They had started off in high summer, but even that had been cool and pleasant beneath the vast trees up north, the brightest days dimmed by the dark and heavy pines. Now they were in the fall, almost time for the harvest, and yet still the days grew hotter and more stifling as they traveled. The frequent rivers were cool and refreshing to ride through, but they lent mugginess to the air and the Black Widows and Healers that traveled with Karla's army were hard-pressed to keep up with the demands for salves to prevent mosquito bites and unguents to soothe the inevitable itches away.

But what had changed most dramatically during the course of their procession were the people. Oh yes, they all still had the Glacian stamp on them: pale skin, pale blond hair, pale blue eyes, but the further south they rode, expressions of the people had grown harder, more distrusting, or even just duller, as if their spirits had been all but snuffed. In the north, people had flocked to her banner (and she had one now, a literal banner, carried out in the front of her army, whose idea was that?) by the hundreds; Jono, Julian, and Momoko had been forced to turn people away just to keep the size of her army manageable. That flood had slowed to a trickle and had practically dried up by the time they'd crossed into the Province directly north of Glacia. Lord Mallory, her Steward, had suggested that everyone who had wanted to join had already done so. But Karla knew the truth: it wasn't just potential recruits that had dwindled here, but also her support. These were the in-betweeners, not close enough to be cowed by Hobart, nor far enough to be independent of him, either. At best, they were indifferent to political maneuvering, wanting only to be left alone. At worst, they were willing to play both sides, looking for whichever one offered the best advantage at the time.

Karla looked at the woman in front of her and wished she knew where on that scale the other woman fell. )

In answer, Karla pointed at the table. The light from the setting sun was pouring in through a window to their side. In the air, Marva appeared to have five fingers on her right hand, just like any other woman.

On the table, her shadow had only four. Her right ring finger had been cut off.

"You pledged yourself to Hobart," Karla snarled. "You're the rat your sister should fear." Behind her, Morton drew his sword.

[NFB. Omg, this is incredibly long, much love to anyone who reads it all the way through!]
glacial_queen: (The Hall/Keep)
Karla tried not to look nervous as the great doors to the Dark Altar opened in front of her. Inside, Opal witchlights danced in sconces, forming a path for her to follow, rather than illuminating what was within. This was very different than her Birthright Ceremony, where she'd had the company of her parents and several other children, where a Priestess had waited to accompany her into the Sanctuary and discuss what Jewel she wanted. That had taken place in the middle of the afternoon, with sunlight streaming through and picnics set up on the grass and her mother announcing to all and sundry Karla's paternity.

This was darkness and Darkness and she was alone. Here, she was going to prove her worth, her inner strength, and she didn't know what to expect. Children were coached through their Birthright Ceremony; no one spoke of the details of their Offering. It was too intensely personal.

"You must enter soon," Geoffrey told her, gently. He understood all too well the uncertainty in Karla's eyes. "From sundown to sunup, and it is nearly that time now."

Putting on a brave face and a careless smile, she looked back at the people who had assembled to witness this, perhaps the defining moment of her life.

"Kiss kiss," she said with a wink and a salute. "See you at dawn!"

And then the giant doors closed behind her.

[NFB, Post 1 of 2]
glacial_queen: (Amdarh)
It was almost time for then to catch their portal home, but Morton had cautiously decided that there was enough time to visit one more landen village before they left. Even Julian didn't have much a problem with this, mollified by the five Blood males (and seven females) that Karla had handwavily, because cons are exhausting offered a place in her First Circle, once she'd made her Offering.

Once there, they'd scattered to their respective duties with an ease that came with having done the same thing many times within the past two weeks. Karla took over whatever building was the largest, more interested in being a Healer than a Queen, taking care of whatever ailments came her way, either with Craft, mundane medicines, or just some brisk advice. Warren sat nearby, making sure she had plenty to eat and drink, while talking to the people about their problems and their woes, making sure they felt heard, understood, and cared for. People who might otherwise have been afraid to come to Karla were set at ease by his openness and, more importantly, his lack of Jewel.

Jono and Julian were teamed up elsewhere, talking frankly about the war that Karla would be bringing to Glacia, about her plans to depose the current Queen and her Ruling Council, and making it clear that any landen who wished to fight--or even learn to better defend his village--was welcome to join with them. Jono made it very clear that the landens that joined with them would be more than simply fodder for the Blood. Their willingness to fight for a Queen that would see them as people too had even Julian offering a grudging respect.

Morton was out in the fields, delivering the Queen's Gift to nourish the crops. A cupful of Karla's blood in a bucket of water was enough to give the tiny plants new life and fullness, ensuring that the village could meet their new tithes while still having enough leftover for themselves. And Kaelas remained outside of the village, keeping watch with his superior kindred senses, which he never failed to point out to their group of tiny noses and ineffectual teeth.

[NFB, and all PCs modded with permission. Violence and dark themes in the comments, because what would a trip to Glacia be without those?]
glacial_queen: (Winter Hat)
The portal had dropped them off in the outskirts of Haven. Portalocity tech was one more thing that Karla could add to the list of information she didn't want most Kaeleerans to have, especially her enemies. But Haven wasn't that far from the Glacian border, which meant it was the ideal staging ground for their reconnaissance missions. They could slip into Glacia without Hobart being the wiser and then move around from there. She knew he was watching the Winds, so they'd stick to roads and private Coaches as much as possible, but they should be able to see much of the Territory while they were here.

It helped, of course, that they'd have a few native guides and a system of safe-houses already prepared. The underground movement had been working overtime lately.

"Morton!"

[NFB and SP]
glacial_queen: (Bathrobe (Worry))
Karla was planning to head upstairs to Warren's room in a few minutes, she just had a few more herbs to mix for brews. It seemed less and less likely that this--whatever if was--was going to end in a fight, but she figured it would be best to be prepared anyway. The last of her spidersilk was spun into Healing webs, there were potions and tinctures and unguents prepared. Hopefully this meant that when it all went down, Karla would be ready for something.

[Open!]
glacial_queen: (Forlorn)
No, you must stay. Stay and wait for the message. You will be needed.

Tersa's parting words as Karla had left the cottage. And Karla had listened, staying at the Hall and waiting for...something. Anything. Some kind of message, though she hadn't known from who or about what.

And then, today, that message had come. )
[NFI, NFB, OOC is love!]
glacial_queen: (Excuse me?)
Spending all of yesterday facing the fussing/interrogation had been...a day. Yes. Which meant that Karla was in no hurry to do that again. However, she knew better than to think she could avoid the boyos for however long until their portal arrived (more's the pity), so instead of trying for that, she'd simply sent out as many handwavy calls as possible to see if anyone wanted to spend some time with a trio of Kaeleeran boyos.

Surely they wouldn't mind a mini-Fandom invasion into their rooms, right?

Whatever. It was that or go insane and Karla had decided that if anyone was going to suffer today, it was going to be them.

"Kiss kiss!" she announced, poking her head through the door. "Are you ready for guests?"

[Open! If you think you got a call, you did!]
glacial_queen: (The Hall/Keep)
After a leisurely morning, filled with many happy sighs and yet another decadent bath (followed by an even more decadent breakfast), Karla had reluctantly agreed that it was time to get up and get going. Warren had had class and Karla had obligations of her own to fulfill.

Her friends and family back home had spent a week worrying, waiting to hear from her that all had gone well. Even in Kaeleer, with males experienced in seeing witches through their Virgin Nights, accidents sometimes happened; accidents that left shattered powers, lives, and even minds in their wake.

*Kiss kiss,* Karla sent on an open thread as she practically skipped up the stairs to the Hall, her furry escort from the portal peeling off to carry the news to the kindred pack in the woods. *Darlings, I'm home.*

Everyone was in the great hall to see her. Saetan, Jaenelle, and Lucivar. Morton, Aaron, and the rest of the boyos. Kalush, Morghanne and the coven as well. Even the servants were represented as Beale, Mrs. Beale, and Helene looked on with joy and pride.

There was no need to ask how it went. Broken witches were never the same after their breaking, and Karla was a long cry from the pallid, listless ghosts or the keening, crazed banshees such females often became. She was sane, she was whole, and, most of all, she was safe. It was a blessing from the Darkness that everyone could appreciate. For once, the residents of SaDiabli Hall were able to celebrate, with nothing to taint their happiness with fear or sorrow.

In Glacia, however, plans were being set into motion and scarlet blood stained the snow...

[Establishy! NFI, NFB]
glacial_queen: (Nightgown)
There wasn't a line of people waiting to yell at her, stretching from her door to the courtyard as she had feared. Instead, people were drifting in and out, as news spread that was awake and up for seeing people. On the one hand, it was nice, because it meant she could sneak small naps while she was waiting for someone new to show up at her door. On the other hand, it meant that she was continually expecting the next person to show up.
More people were coming, that much she knew. )

[And still the Agio plot continues! NFI, NFB, OOC is grand. Master plot list is here]
glacial_queen: (Betrayed)
Lucivar felt his shield quiver. It was about to go down again. Cassidy and Morton might be able to put up another one after his came down, but what was the point? They both still wore their Birthright Jewels and those were light Jewels at that. Under the constant onslaught of the Jhinka, they'd have another two, maybe two and a half hours before their Jewels were drained, too.

Even if Aaron and the others showed up now, it was doubtful they'd be able to do much to turn the tide of the battle. Six thousand Jhinka, even lacking Craft as they did, were just too damn many.

No, better to save their strength. Maybe between the combined strength of all of Karla's friends, they'd be able to escape.

He spared a thought for the young male, Ender, who'd had a plan that might hopefully get them out of all this. Idly, he wondered if it would have worked, indeed, if it could work still. If he would have a chance of pulling it off before Lucivar's Craft failed, if he could somehow pull it off at all.

Maybe. Still, it was a slim thread to rest all their hopes on. Lucivar couldn't rely on 'maybes,' not when his Queen's life was at stake.

"Morton," he called. 'Ask Jaenelle and Karla to join me here.' )

[And we are done--though just for the night! NFI, NFB, OOC is golden. Warning in place for death of an NPC and ultraviolence. Text taken, spindled, mutilated, and folded into origami cranes from Anne Bishop's Heir to the Blood, Chapter Thirteen. Preplayed with rockstars, yo. Plot post masterlist found here.

Also, that long ping about Jaenelle being even prettier now? Straight from the text. Oh, Anne Bishop. Why you so crazy?]

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