from_the_west: (the house that matteu built)
[personal profile] from_the_west
quite early, before there is a "team" per se.

****

Matteu thought the wine was much too dry.

His opinion appeared to be the minority, however, because from what he could tell, lifted from everything from actual words, to the slightest shift of expression of those around him, to the sheer volume of wine being imbibed implied that this was some of the Imperion's finest, and if that were the case, it must be true.

It should be true. He used to have a similar vintage imported to his brugh, carefully shipped in packed crates for his lady wife. He could taste and smell the delicate layers of fruit and their degree of ripeness when picked; could taste the sun that warmed them and the air.

What he couldn't taste was much of the sweet, anymore. How strangely appropriate. So he followed his unerring sense of these things, traced the lines to the sort of people that'd use or at least would know--and that brought him to the kitchens, of course, and to the unasked question, eyes darted to one jar among the others, the sort of jar that held honey, or mango butter, or maybe, possibly, a secret stash of sugar syrup that was made from cane boiled down in some secret cauldron in someone's basement, near enough the marshes, up the mountains, or far enough out in the desert to help hide the sickly-sweet smell of caramel from raiders and Rian alike.

They knew what he wanted because they were clever, and they were sharing without rancor or charge because they were kind--that was all. Or he was too obvious and they were afraid of what would happen if they didn't share.

You are far too paranoid even for Avalon, he chided himself. Tá, if ever such a thing were possible, he might achieve it.

Matteu left the kitchens and returned to the main hall, where he finished filling his cup from wine from the fountain, watching the glassy gray swirls of the syrup in it, trying to ignore what it all might mean. He was a Tirnanog cridhos of some gravitas and high standing--even standing, as it may be, with a cup full almost entirely of sugar cut with wine, in the middle of a house of a Rianic family in Avalon. He smiled wryly to himself as he raised the cup of ruined wine to his lips--and with the sound of a familiar voice, the drink caught in his throat for a moment before he managed to swallow it down.

"Ah, that's interesting. I believe that entire hall was decorated by Izidor-Lal, tá?"

It wasn't her, of course, he was mistaken, nil hea? He was merely being haunted by things done, as ever. Now his ears were tuned to the conversation, listening for more, with a pin-edged, cold and weighty sense that might simply be him being morbid, or it truly was impending doom.

"Tá, you are correct. You knew him?" A young man's voice, slightly nasal, the accent authentic Lucánia that most of the Rian's academics and higher ranks shared; his own was a western bastard of such.

"Nil hea, I was never so blessed." And there was that chill again, though her accent and rhythm was not right--too quick, too staccato--one of the northern regions, although the careful precision suggested one of eastern satrapies, speaking quickly out of excitement. Either couldn't be further away from the lazy, throaty purr of the Sidonia region that he remembered.

"I am, however, enthralled by all who are so driven to share their spirit in this way--to see purest emotion made manifest in such a way, doing no harm, but only bringing beauty! My only regret is that it so often comes at the cost of such great suffering." The lady continued, and it was actively nerve-wracking now, and so he had to look. Either she would not be what he thought, and he was driving himself mad, or she was, and that was a different problem altogether. He wasn't sure which he would desire, so he left that particular sleeve of thought hanging oddly empty; a sword arm lost.

"You are so very right, Sionnadhven....My apologies, but I did not hear you introduced?" The young man was saying, while Matteu looked and then stared in a dull sort of shock. He automatically raised his cup, drank, lowered it again, all the mechanical behaviors of a real live sidhe, while he waited for his mind to begin again, and then it did, and then he patiently waited for it to go through all the processes that would make this either make sense or go away, so he could decide what he was going to do about it. His mind at least, thank the gods, was as quick as ever.

"Oh, my apologies, then!" She said, her hand flying to her mouth, and then smiling very prettily (she'd always had a beautiful smile), she pressed her hands together and bowed slightly. "I am Akilah A'Drakon Rosalba an Cásitia."

"Nil hea." Matteu interrupted mildly. "You're my wife." And he took another drink and waited for it all to come crashing down like shattering crystal did when hit in just the right spot.

...It didn't. There was a confused pause that was unsettlingly genuine, because it was not only on the young scholar's part.

She looked at him very directly, and puzzled-blinking, and said, "Excusé?"

"Nil hea." He told her, before he reconsidered. "Unless you meant that you intend to offer me one, which in that case, tá, I am very curious. What is your excuse for being an Faerie, Sinovia?"

"...I am Akilah A'Drakon Rosalba, Sionnadh." She said very quietly. "You are terribly confused, I think, so I will choose to not see this very great insult."

At this point, unmistakably brave though uncertain, the scholar stepped in, layering one vocal message over a silent one. "Sionnadh? Are you well? Please to not challenge the A'Drakon, tá? I should not have to tell you, Sionnadh, that this is never wise."

Matteu grimaced a bit slightly as he sipped and swallowed again, thoughtfully moving lips and tongue over his teeth, and his mental message was sent past the young Sionnadh directly to the Sionnadhven--if indeed, what she was born counted her as one. He didn't know. Did anyone? Not that anyone else mattered, in this. How could he have lived with her for so long and never, ever know?

"You know that I know that you're not an A'Drakon or a Rosalba any more than you were a godsdamned A'Dhaeban, tá? What are you doing here?"

She stared at him and apparently gave the young man a mental nudge, as he immediately took his attention from Matteu and turned it back to her, then nodded and made the sort of gesture that he recognized as a very specific call for assistance.

"Sionnadh Cridhos, I am terribly sorry," She said, very gently and slowly, as if speaking to a complete madman. "but it appears that you are mistaken. I am not your wife, nor have I ever been."

Dian a’lugh. Even now, with her standing before him, the same woman in different clothes, the same voice with a different accent, he began to worry that he had made a terrible mistake--and hated himself for that doubt. He knew better. This was a lie, of course. Lies on top of lies, nil hea? She was not doing this to him again.

His hand shot out, and he grabbed her arm. "Come with me, then. And we'll see, tá?"

And suddenly, he was locked in a battle of wills with many others, jostled this way and that--his hand was forcibly pulled away, he grabbed at her again, there was the sound of ripping fabric, and then again, as he struggled, furious, and his hand finally closed in a fist, and the arm was twisted behind his back, and it seemed as if Fidei Defensoran were every-damned-where. He was surrounded by a wall of white uniforms and remarkably serene dark faces. The cup was taken from his other hand, and he was suddenly very glad that he'd finished it all, and that no one thought look inside to see the glaze of sugar that coated the bottom.

"Please to come with us, Sionnadh Cridhos." One was saying very politely.

Matteu could see past them to the young scholar that was walking away, wringing his hands and apologizing. She was walking way with him, and he saw her give him a final look over her shoulder, both indignant and pitying. But the parting thought she left trailing after her was not the sending of an offended stranger.

"In case you were curious, I was wondering if you were really Matteu-me, tá? You are so much less than I remember...."

Then she was gone and after a while of walking the gardens with his own personal Defensoran, (To clear his head, because occasionally a power may forget themselves, it is known.) he was free to go also. Cridhos Matteu SeWyn made his apologies and left the house, still visibly shaken by his very public lapse, despite the polite and soothing reassurances of his siblings-of-purpose that these things sometimes happened to the best of them. Long hours, too much sun, too much drink and too much power in the same room, tá? Go home then, and rest, se maith.

Only when Matteu was safely away, walking the narrow winding streets in the dark, did he shake off the act, straighten up, and examine the bit of fabric he'd taken from her gown. It shone, translucent under the street-lantern for just a moment, before he stashed it away again, and looked to summon a driver.

He had an apprentice mage to pay a visit.
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from_the_west

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