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Sunday, May 17th, 2009
1:49 am
A Day at the Races
It is a tradition harking back over two hundred years now; a tradition adhered to and continued despite the ongoing outbreaks of Plague, of smallpox, of political upheaval. Time waits for no man, or for the running of the Monarch's Stakes.

The Maximoffs have hosted this grandiose event for the last forty of those years, and their equal is said to be unmatched in its splendour, and for the opportunity for the lower classes to occasionally rub shoulders with the ruling elite.

It is a sport of kings, and for those betting upon the winner, that king could be anyone.

Duke Howlett prefers to keep his presence low-key at such events; they are a good way to gauge the mood of the people, to hear the rumors, such as they are, and in some cases, to gain intelligence. It is among the rising nobility that he circulates now, though he speaks little and listens often. The matter of the strange, displaced arrivals has been something of an ongoing puzzlement for him, and he is uncertain still what benefit they may have for the kingdom-- assuming they are here to benefit it at all.
Thursday, March 12th, 2009
1:02 am
The strange blonde rescued, the unorthodox band of rogues, Royal guardsmen and mutants from another realm have returned to their base camp after a rough ride through damp terrain. Once Hawkeye had ascertained they had not been followed, the collective relief was tangible throughout the assembled. Now they can tend to their wounds and - for at least one of their number - tend to their confusion, before the long journey north begins once more.
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
9:19 pm
Somewhere along the Southern border near Tennessee
The barracks and associated watchtower along this long-abandoned dirt road have been in disrepair for nearly fifty years. In the last months, with the growing unrest in the rapidly destabilizing Southern Kingdom, and rumblings of a civil war, a large group of loosely-affiliated mercenaries has reclaimed the stone buildings as a base for their own self-serving operations. Twenty-three men of varying skill but ruthless nature keep a close watch on their would-be royal prisoner in a converted stable, who is being watched at all times, and near-hogtied to prevent escape.

There is money to be had in ransom, and while the goods have not been 'damaged' as it were, thanks to an innate fear of her god-touched nature, there's been more than a fair amount of leering and commentary aimed her way over the last week and a half.

It's approaching evening, and with it comes the meagre offering of rabbit stew and rough bread on an improvised metal disc that serves as a tray.
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
2:24 pm
Pomp and Splendour
This gala promises to be a gala like none that have come before. Weeks have been spent in preparation, and the kitchens have been working at full strength throughout the day to produce the most exotic foods for their guests to sample. In the great hall, the decorations have not been spared, and the pageantry lavish; great tables line its perimeter, the better to leave the center space for dancing couples, and musicians take their places upon the raised dais to begin the night's entertainment.

Those Exiles who have remained have been loaned attire suitable for the occasion, and though it might well ill-suit some of them, this night will be an entirely new experience for all.
2:11 pm
The Exiles who agreed to depart the relative comfort of the King and Queen's holdings have endured a several days-long hard ride with a contingent of the royal guard. The journey has been punctuated by bad weather, the hardships of sleeping under the open skies, and the ever-present stink of horse, man, earth, and pack mule. The Royal Guard have more or less ignored the newcomers, viewing them with suspicion but maintaining their trained outward appearance of professional soldiers; due in part to the eagle-eyed watch of their war-grizzled, tall and large-set Captain, who seems more at home out here in the middle of nowhere than he ever might be in a court. He is a man of few words, but many skills, and he is one of the few who seems unruffled by the odd appearance of their unlikely comrades.

Today, the morning light spreads its wings over the rural Tennessee landscape, and the camp is being broken and packed up in preparation to meet up with the group of rogues who claimed to have engaged the mercenaries holding the Exiles' newest member hostage, believing her to be nobility.
Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
10:16 pm
A challenging position
Her Royal Majesty Madelyne Essex, Queen of the Southern Kingdom has had a difficult time since the death of her husband. Running the kingdom, in all actuality, is the simple part. What is not simple, is all of the constant claims to her throne and fending off all of the men who think they can do the job better than she does.

They've even taken to attempting to corner her when she's alone with her maids. As if getting into her bed would prove some sort of weakness or being able to force themselves on her would prove that she couldn't effectively rule a country. It isn't at all likely that they'd be able to do either these days but it is possible.

Especially as this situation is begining to wear her down.

Not for the first time, she wishes she had someone she could share her burdens with.
Sunday, December 7th, 2008
6:43 pm
In the presence of royalty
At other times, especially when suitors have flocked to the palace in hopes of winning the hand and heart of a princess, the throne room is filled with the glittering nobility of the northern kingdom. On those occasions, the pomp and majesty of the crown are in full display, for the sake of faithful and less faithful vassals alike, and for the edification of any foreign envoys.

But while public audiences are certainly the lifeblood of the Crown, they are not the only duty of the king and queen. On other occasions, when duty demands it, the courtiers are dispatched, distracted, or deflected elsewhere, and the most trusted guards are assigned so that the king and queen may meet in private with allies, ambassadors, and advisors.

And sometimes, as today, they meet with strangers who may be friend or foe.

The pomp and majesty are no less hidden, and in fact there is something faintly martial about the king and queen, as if they anticipate--and are prepared to face--the worst.
Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
10:36 pm
Medieval World? Prepare to be Dazzled!
First? A Little Backstory...Collapse )


"Aiiiieeee!" Alison Blair screeched as she fell on cold, damn grass. She struggled up to her feet, dusting off her mega-sparkly purple t-shirt [complete with super-sparkly golden starburst] off and moved for her iridescent silver pants next. "Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew." And then she looked around, noticing that she was...nowhere near home. "Ew? Where am I?" Gone was her podium, her microphone, her suddenly unadoring fan base. Y'know...maybe that's not such a bad thing. On the other hand...where the hell did I get transported to? She looked around, clearly worried. There was a grove of trees near her, and a dusty path. Nothing else. "Oh. Oh god. They did it. The government, like, totally did it! They sent me to like a mutant colony where they'll clean me up or something. Unmutify me and...just...ew!" Terror was clear across her face as she looked around desperately for a way out. But there was nothing except fresh, clean air and lots of open space.
Monday, November 24th, 2008
5:00 pm
As the crow flies
It's raining.

Spring brings with it its own misery: thawing snows turn frigid pathways into slush and mud, making tracking easier, but moving through it consistently for long periods deeply uncomfortable. There's no peace for the band of men the rogue known as Hawkeye commands along the border between the Northern and Southern kingdoms, however, and the promise of it at a nearby farmstead friendly to their cause is cut dramatically short when one of his scouts returns to report the sighting of smoke - a large amount of it - rising from its location over the next hilltop.

The news is disconcerting, but not entirely a surprise. Here along the border, territories are won and lost each and every day, the people living here constantly at risk from raiders and mercenaries seeking a quick meal and to take advantage of the women there. Stubborn pride keeps them living here, rather than abandoning their self-made stone and wood homes to the tender mercies of Nature.

He spares but a brief glance to his company, turning his mudspattered horse around to do so, before pulling his bow from his shoulder and stringing it in preparation for whatever they might find ahead. But he takes a moment to address the one rider amongst them who is not a regular part of their crew.

"You should stay here with Bors. I'll send someone for you when it's safe."
4:30 pm
On the move
The mid-afternoon spring sun beats down upon the Maximoff Estates, its grandiose courtyard currently filled with the bustle of men and horses and at least two wagons. One is the commissary wagon, loaded with food, drink, cooking and camping equipment for the ride that lies ahead for the Duke, his men and their new - if somewhat bizarre - additions to their troupe. The other holds weaponry and trade goods. The discipline of the armed escort the Duke brings with him is distinct from that of the Maximoffs' employees, even discounting their manner of dress and the light armor they wear; the large heavy cavalry horses lined up in formation as their riders check their tack. Grooms attend the spare mounts, one for each man, while the newcomers get their own fair share of assessing stares from those who have time for such dalliances.

Despite his standing, Duke Howlett makes a point of inspecting his own mount's equipment and tack. Vigilance is requisite, even when one is in friendly territories, and it is a habit that he is disinclined to cease. It is a habit that permits him time to think, and the events of this morning have given him much food for thought, not all of it pleasant.
Thursday, November 20th, 2008
2:55 pm
Duke Howlett is more than familiar with Lady Maximoff's well-appointed and oft-frequented stillroom, characterized by its heady smell of drying herbs that hang from racks chained from the age-blackened oak rafters of the lofty ceiling, and the precious glass flasks, tubes, and beakers that constitute her craft. The huge work table in the center of the room boasts a generous candelabre of beeswax tapers, the flames of which flicker briefly as he closes the door behind them. He moves towards the table, but does not make use of its seating arrangement, choosing instead to lean forward and rest his hands on its well-worn and stained surface. His expression is tense, and distinctly troubled.

Given what has just occurred on the Lady's estates, he is well within his rights to be so.
Friday, November 14th, 2008
9:48 pm
The hospitality of the Maximoffs
As the duke leaves, intent on the need to contact the king, Wanda offers a hospitable smile to the strangers. "Are you hungry? I can have Agatha see what is ready to eat in the kitchens, or you can sup later."

She hopes they do not have any outlandish tastes ... she has heard stories of the red savages eating human flesh, but she cannot bring herself to believe them. Besides, none of these people look like savages. Except perhaps the one who wears Lord Beaubier's face ... but surely even he is civilized enough to sit at a table.
Thursday, November 6th, 2008
9:09 pm
It is a clear and quiet morning on the Maximoff estate, staff moving about performing their normal duties with little fuss.

Inside the stables the horses whuffle and stir in their stalls, being tended to by the grooms.

Business as usual.

Until out of nowhere a woman appears about three feet above a convenient hay pile and with a squeak, falls into it.

There is silence for a moment. And then --

"Oh now this is rich!"
Thursday, October 16th, 2008
2:43 pm
To Woo a Lady... or Four...
Summer is gaining a tenuous foothold on the Northern Kingdom, and with the warming of the countryside and the lengthening of the days comes a renewed fervour and interest in the affairs of court, as the months grow ever closer to the combined 16th birthdays of the Princesses. Once a month for the last eighteen months, men from all corners of not only the kingdom but the known world have come seeking their hands in marriage, and until now, all have been turned away.

Time grows short, and with it the North's grip on the disputed territories, but the crowd gathering for today's public entertainment of suitors in the Great Hall grows ever larger. Some are here to try their luck, surrounded by retinues bearing lavish gifts, and some are merely here to gawk at the spectacle -- and perhaps, even, with an eye to make an honest man out of those whom the princesses might refuse.

Golden fingers of sunlight spill across the tesselated mosaics of the Hall, lending an otherwise cheerful air to what, for the girls' official guardians at least, may well be yet another fruitless afternoon.
Saturday, October 4th, 2008
9:49 pm
Ladies... ladies... Please....
The Avenging Son, Lord Namor of Atlantis, Lord of the Seven Seas, the Sub-Mariner long ago, after the death of his first wife, decided to never again bind himself to any one person. Once he came out of mourning, he was approached by a number of noble ladies looking to help soothe his pain. In the begining, he turned down the offers, though slowly he began to accept, letting his indulgence of the physical pleasures be a balm to his emotional devestation.

And so, it has reached a point when the Atlantean nobility dreads their Lord ever settling down and having heirs. In fact, it happens so commonly that they cannot reach him, cannot even find him, that they have given up attempting to chain him down to responsibilities. He is still young, for an Atlantean, and they have hopes that he may some day come to his senses and take thr throne as the monarch they know he could be.

"Of course, Susan. I wouldn't miss your company for the world. Tomorrow evening?" Namor smiles at his companion as he makes an arrangement with another woman. "Of course. I look forward to it." Lowering his cellphone, he smiles more broadly at his companion, "I do appologize about that once again, Jennifer. I am very interested in your suggestion."

Standing, he kisses the jade toned skin of the woman he's been having a drink with, "I am very, very interested in what you, Natasha and Carol have conspired to put together for me this evening." Namor takes a step back from her, releasing her hand.

"I will meet you at the car." Talking away from the lady and the table, he heads toward the restroom.

Before he gets there, he vanishes, leaving behind several soon to be dissapointed women.
Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
11:44 pm
Another gunshot followed by the sound of glass shattering on the floor.

She's half covering him, sprawled over his prone body as she waits for another shot.

"Kurt, I'm gonna kill you myself the next time you pull this kinda stunt. I got a lady waiting for me to come make sure her kids ain't gonna keel over with whatever brand of the flu they got. And instead I gotta come and make sure your sorry ass doesn't get shot all to hell."

A bullet pings off the wall in a shower of plaster.


Leaning down, Marie whispers in his ear, "Can't even get yourself outta here this time, can ya. Well, let's see what I can do."

Reclining back on her heels, Marie LeBeau takes off the Winchester strapped to her back and places it within easy reach. Next comes the gloves -- long elbow length soft leather gloves, laced up the side, and well worn. After tugging them off, Marie cracks her knuckles and gets to work.

It's a slow process - Marie keeps her head down as she places her hands directly on the man in front of her and closes her eyes. Faint green light laces out from her fingertips, briefly highlighting as it crawls along veins just barely visible under the skin.

Several things happen at once. Kurt's eyes fly open and he gasps out loud, arching his back under her touch.

More gunshots crack, seemingly coming from everywhere.

And in surprise Kurt manages to disappear completely in a puff of smoke.

Marie lets out her breath in a rush, looking less than pleased with this outcome. "Couldn't of done that five minutes ago now, could ya..." Pulling on her gloves, she begins to reach for her rifle in order to try to make it out alive. One more day, the same old...

Except for in the next moment, she too disappears, leaving only disturbed dust and a well-cared for rifle lying on the floor.
Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
12:27 am
Ashes to ashes
The fort's chapel is not overtly lavish, though it is well-appointed, being attached to the fortified residence of the Duke. Five days he was away from here; five days suffered amongst the talk of men and war, and throughout it all his thoughts never strayed from home. Even the King was hard pressed not to take note of his demeanor, and despite his subsequent orders for the Duke to be on the front lines, a special dispensation of two days to permit proper Christian rights and observances was given.

There is little in James Howlett's mind that will suffice for not being at his wife's side, but the past cannot be changed, as much as it is regretted and its memories, pleasant and painful both, missed.

The children were spared, perhaps because of the swiftness of their removal from the household. Three of the Duchess' ladies were also lost to the disease - a cruel twist upon his wife's unerring reputation for generosity. Her gifts, so frequently shared, were their undoing.

They will burn with her, as Plague victims must; though hers will be one unrivalled.

He has spent much of his time upon returning here in this place, keeping a silent vigil with the casket that contains the corporeal remains of his beloved wife. Prayer might be too strong a word; he is a man bereft, unable to truly believe that a just and merciful God could allow such a woman to die.

God help the man - or woman - who might seek to disturb him.
Monday, September 29th, 2008
7:32 pm
Hard to Tell Truth From Lies
This letter arrives for Madelyne some time later.

Dearest Madelyne,

I write you this upon receiving your most recent letter. It always gladdens my heart to read your words, for it makes you feel a small distance closer. The gift of perfume that accompanied it was a pleasing surprise.

Anna and Thomas both continue to prosper, and both continue to plague James and I with quick minds and quicker actions. I firmly believe that at some point I will find them both trussed to trees outside with their mouths covered, after their incessant needling of their father.

Your words do vex me some, dear sister. It is my wish that your husband will set aside his displeasure and come to view you in the same light as I do, as a treasure to be held close to the heart. I have been speaking with James to arrange a visit for myself and perhaps the children as well within the next few months. He is reluctant, as you can imagine, out of fear for my safety amongst the bandits that would likely plague my journey to you. I have also been feeling unwell, having contracted some sort of illness that has sapped my strength. But once this has passed, and James is convinced to let me travel, I will fly to your side.

I miss you, sweet Maddy. If the anniversary of our birth passes before we are able to see one another, I shall think of you with great fondness and wish nothing other than all of God's blessing upon you. If I were able to spirit you away to be with me, I would not hesitate.

much love,
Sunday, September 28th, 2008
9:40 pm
Cloak and Dagger
The lady is sitting back in her carriage as they are heading from her estates into the palace. Her staff warned her not to take this route, that it was the most often trafficked by bandits and rogues. Not that they knew that but that was what she'd insisted. She could use a little excitement in her life that had nothing to do with her currently single status. The last thing she needs is another arranged marriage.

Her veil is pulled back from her face and she's looking out of the slatted windows. There may or may not be a meeting in the woods for the children. She never knows exactly when, on her trips back and forth, that she'll be contacted.

She sighs softly, wishing, not the first time, for the company of a lady in waiting but her household cannot accomodate one.
Friday, September 26th, 2008
3:44 pm
Darkness falls
Duke Howlett is renowned for his patience and his diligence, keen wit and effectiveness. Respect is earned and given by him, trust won hard but loyalty unquestioned. He is a man who has stared death in the face time and again in battle, to come away unscathed even with uncanny wounds; but this night he faces a new kind of dread.

Servants and household retainers scatter before him as he barks out orders from the doorway of the grand bedchamber, permitting none entry - and even the normally obnoxious ladies in waiting are turned away, their protests quashed by the ferocity of his countenance and bearing. The children are hurried to another wing of the fortress, with orders to their nursemaid to pack clothes and supplies enough for an extended leave of absence.

The next few hours while the Duke awaits the arrival of the Lady Maximoff are his most trying, as he keeps vigil at his wife's bedside, holding her hand in his as he dabs at her brow with a damp cloth, and hopes against all hope that his suspicions and his senses are wrong.
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