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 Ignis Has the Biggest Balls

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Ardent Davenport

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PostSubject: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:31 am

Lady Ardent Davenport flipped open her fan and coaxed a small breeze to assist in cooling the balmy night air. In Searik, it was always warm due to the lava flows, but tonight was unseasonably so. She was happy in her decision to wear linen and lace tonight, as opposed to the heavier silk gown she had been considering. Either option was as opulent as the occasion demanded, but in this crimson number, she did not feel the desire to strip naked and splash about in the nearest fountain. She considered it anyway; something had to be done to brighten the party and it would hardly be seen as out of character for Ardent, the international bon vivant. Her dress' plunging neckline hardly left much to the imagination anyway.

It was the birthday of a government official. Thus, anyone who was anyone was in attendance, meaning everyone was in attendance, whether or not they were truly as important as they thought themselves to be. This particular official had invited the elite and...not-so-elite from all over the world, save for Terra, of course. Even a few Glaciens were there, sweating heavily beneath their furs, sideshow oddities exchanging awkward glares with the few Undans present. The entire event was a show in narcissism. Lavish food, expensive liquor, and garish flower arrangements crowded every table. There had been four speeches, all attesting to the greatness of the birthday boy, that everyone had stayed annoyingly silent during. Not even a mutter floated on the wind during those, though there had been a few quiet snores.

Later in the evening, Ardent would be expected to sing. Now, there was mingling to be had. Her date, a Sir Humphrey Carmichael, had suggested they abscond to the coat room, but she politely declined, citing a headache for her lack of desire, which before had been ravenous. No canoodling before she had the opportunity to ply her craft of professional eavesdropping. Business before pleasure - not that anything to do with the pompous (and selfish) Sir Humphrey could especially be termed pleasurable.

After some clever social maneuvering, she had managed to escape her boorish flavor of the week and retire to the balcony, where the air was crisper and cooler. Sweating at a ball would have made her no better than the Glaciens. From here, she had an excellent vantage point of all the goings on and was mostly out of view; otherwise, sycophants and plebeians would spot her and promptly chat her ear off.

She sipped delicately at her wine and summoned another wind, this time to bring her news rather than lower temperatures. At the moment, she was quite alone, but there was no telling how long that would be so.

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Last edited by Ardent Davenport on Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kelly Gray

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:12 am

As Kelly idly gyrated the wine glass that was being held between his ring and index finger, he pondered as to why he would have even been invited to such an event. Kelly didn’t know many officials personally—his profession does not afford him much time in Searik simply chatting with stuffy and snobbish officials, to which he is happy about. That and most officials simply do not like Kelly either because he comes from a family organization that has broken just about every law or because his job is to collect intelligence and most people have something to hide. Even as Kelly rested his lower back against the wooden bar and skimmed the crowd, he could tell some people were uncomfortable to meet his gaze for any longer than a second, as if just looking at him would divulge some hideous secret. Kelly flashed a devilish grin before he brought the wine glass to his lips, tipping his head back and emptying the rest of the glass’s contents into his mouth.

Placing the empty glass on the bar, Kelly began to feel a bit overheated. Despite other officials wearing stuffy clothing, Kelly wasn’t wearing anything that distinguished him as important or formal. Made entirely of loose-fitting black linen, Kelly’s outfit was reminiscent of a common islander from the southern isles of Ignis rather than a military official from Searik. His shirt, which had thin leather ties near the neck, were for the majority untied, allowing his upper chest to be breathe in this miserable weather. His pants, while loose-fitting like his shirt, were tucked into a pair of knee-high black leather boots, but if he’d have a choice of being more relaxed, he might have gone with a pair of island sandals instead. And yet, even with his light and informal attire, he had to place a hand on the nape of his neck while channeling an iota of his element, cooling himself down slightly.

As Kelly disappeared to find some higher ground to possibly catch a bit of wind rolling through the area, he realized that he hadn’t been the only one with that similar idea—either that or the lovely lady that he was sneaking up on merely wanted to escape the conceited crowd below. It wasn’t that Kelly was silently moving up the balcony stairs on purpose; quiet movements come with the job description. And yet his movements halted as he realized who this woman was—with her outfit and her celebrity status, it would be hard not to notice her at such a party. Before Kelly closed the gap to the point where he could reach out to her, he decided to announce his presence as a manner of respect; he didn’t mean to frighten her. Although that would make Kelly smile a bit, seeing her jump.

”You know, I’ve been meaning to ask…” Kelly began moving once again, but this time he made an effort not to walk so stealthily as he approached the balcony platform where Lady Ardent Davenport currently resided, giving her a casual gaze with his steel blue eyes. He reached out for the balcony with both hands, surveying the people below. He turned back to her to make eye contact while he finished his sentence. ”…do you enjoy the elevated status that your talents have given you, or does the thrill of singing in front of so many trump everything else you’ve obtained?” Kelly had never actually seen Lady Davenport perform, but up close he realized that she was a stunningly beautiful young woman. While time was holding her in the perfect balance of youth and beauty, Kelly was showing signs of age with some gray in his facial stubble and on the sides of his dark brown hair. Not that Kelly was old and decrepit, but even Lady Davenport’s dress was the epitome of passion while Kelly’s clothing was a bit more…muted.
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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:34 pm

Ardent had been focusing intently on what she was listening to, eyes staring sightlessly into her wine, when a voice snapped her from her concentration. She did not jump - ladies never jumped - but she did gasp and turn toward the source of the sound. It took a bit of effort, but she did not curl her lip in disgust as she so wanted. Instead, she gave her most radiant smile - quite easy for someone with a mouth as large as hers. Though she had never had much conversation with him before, she recognized him immediately. Kelly Gray.

Unlike most nobility, Ardie was not particularly fussy about breeding. The rebellion accepted people of all backgrounds and so did she. Outlaws meant nothing to her if they did not mean to harm her. She was a criminal herself. No, what disgusted her about Gray was his status in the military - a paid and professional tattletale. Though her job was essentially (completely) the same as his, she was on the side of good. He was on the side that contributed to the utter destruction of her life.

"You've been meaning to ask that?" Ardent laughed, one arm crossed over her chest, lifting it slightly, the other pressing her wineglass to her lips. With her hip against the balustrade, she was the perfect image of ease. "What a strange thing to mean to ask a woman. I suppose that comes with the territory of being...you, though, Sir Gray."

Strange indeed. Most men usually had much more...colorful questions to ask of her upon meeting. They had their different approaches, naturally. Some were shy and bumbling, some were coy and mischievous, while others were so straight-forward and crass she had a difficult time not slapping them. Nearly every one of them remarked on her beauty, her poise, her grace, or her talent and their questions were usually along the lines of whether or not she would join them in their bedchambers later.

A sudden and devilish thought occurred to her just then. A man such as Kelly Gray, a man who traded in secrets, must have had a good deal of them to share with her. It would not have been the first time she seduced a military man and though she quite despised entangling herself with them, Gray was not unattractive. In fact, he was much fairer to look upon than her date. When in a position such as hers that required being in many positions with fellows she wouldn't have been otherwise, good looks was all she could hope for.

"To answer your question, however, singing is not the only talent of mine that places me in this position. Sir Carmichael, for example, cares nothing for my voice. Therefore, I would say that the thrill of performing vastly overshadows any compensation I receive from it - though the compensation is nice."

The truth, but not the entire truth. Ardent did not mention how very liberating it was, what a relief it was to expose herself via performance, to shout rather than whisper. It was the only honest place left in her world.

"Now, a question for you. Do you like that the country fears you or do you get lonesome?"

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:39 pm

Kelly hid a smile when he realized he had startled Ardie; his intent was not to scare, but he did enjoy her reaction just a bit. His keen eyes could see her facial expression neutralizing and showing what Ardie needed to rather than what she wanted to; after years of watching people attempting to hide things, Kelly has become quite good at seeing the truth. Not that Ardie didn’t do well enough to cover up her real emotions, but just the lack of annoyance or irritation upon being surprised meant she had an iron grasp upon her feelings.

As Ardie began to answer his unorthodox question, he realized how casual she made her gestures seem. He started to wonder if that’s how other people could perceive his own stature; always acting very calm and carefree, exuding confidence, but knowing that it was controlled. Or perhaps this lovely young lady had been performing in one way or another for so long that she was everything she looked to be. It was actually a bit exciting for Kelly to be unable to figure someone out so easily by the other person’s body language.

Kelly’s eyebrows lifted as his eyes widened slightly, a small smile curling at the one corner of his mouth when Ardie had identified him. He didn’t think that she would know him so quickly but it seems his reputation had preceding him—now he was curious as to which reputation that was. And while Ardie seemed to know Kelly a bit better than he had anticipated, the Gray Wolf could not say the same about the lovely lady. Perhaps he’d make a point to know more in the future?

”Well, not necessarily meaning to ask you specifically, but when the opportunity presented itself, I had planned on asking someone of your…prestige, Lady Davenport.” Kelly dipped his head slightly downward as a sign of respect although Kelly being respectful shouldn’t be something that Ardie should become accustomed to. One of Kelly’s more unappealing habits to the officials of Ignis is that he does not favor many formalities; they tend to be inefficient and annoying. That doesn’t mean there is any good reason to be rude, but some people find being honest and blunt to be rude…which Kelly can sometimes find enjoyable when getting a rise out of people.

Kelly couldn’t help but flash a grin as he looked away from Ardie, allowing his eyes to dance across the crowd below. Not necessarily focused on anything he was looking at, but more enthralled with the thoughts that crossed his mind about Ardie’s comment of Sir Carmichael.

”Ah, yes…Sir Carmichael. No, I agree that he does not care for the sounds coming from your throat. Of course he’s probably quite fond of the territory below your throat.” Kelly wasn’t sure how Ardie would take such a statement—sometimes the filter between his mind and his mouth comes undone when it should hold steadfast—but his relaxed stature of leaning against the balcony while crossing his arms gave off the feeling that Kelly’s comments were not meant to be offensive but rather humorous. At least, humorous to himself as he lightly chuckled. ”I enjoy your answer though…the thrill of being in front of those cheering for you and your talents. It must be exhilarating. Perhaps if my singing voice sounded better than a dying bird, I might have had a different profession.”

Kelly stifled his audible chuckle once Ardie mentioned her comment about being feared by his own country. Allowing his humor to boil down into a controlled smile, he looked over at Ardie with a curious gaze—not one that was meant to feel or look threatening, but one that someone might use when attempting to decide how to answer a question and why that question was asked. He was acutely aware that he did not say one way or the other that he liked being feared or being alone but his answer was honest enough. Looking away and down at the crowd, he held his controlled smile while he spoke.

”Is it wrong for someone like me to be feared? If enemies of the Ignis government fear me, they can’t very well hate me at the same time. If the Ignis government itself fears me then that means I am able to do as I please without interruption. A man of my position can only be successful if he is feared. Wouldn’t you agree?”
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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:59 pm

Ardie hid her amusement behind her fan, acutely aware of the irony of the situation. Here they were, two opposing factions, making talk too large to be small, too small to be meaningful. Had they met under different circumstances, she might have been less guarded. As it was, she could not make it seem as if she were reading him in the way he was more than likely reading her. His occupation as interrogator was open and well-known; at the few events at which both of them had been present, her date had always taken care to point Gray out. She was operating entirely in secret.

She laughed loudly at his very correct assessment of hers and Carmichael's relationship, partly out of surprise at his audacity and partly out of appreciation for his truth. Carmichael was not much older than Gray, but he was in a famously unhappy marriage. Adultery was treated with a wink and a nudge in Ignisian high society, as long as no children were born from any unsanctioned union. Lady Carmichael knew very well who her husband was sleeping with while away from home. She had had her own dalliances with the same woman.

"Oh, Sir Gray, I'm sure you can make your own pretty noises with the proper motivation." Her tone was saccharine sweet, at odds with her innuendo.

His answer to her query was a deliberate one. Had she touched upon a nerve? As far as the rumor mill went, there had never been any mention of Gray hanging about with a pretty on his arm, though she was sure there were plenty who would have jumped at the offer, male or female. He had considerable power. Ardent prided herself in being different than those other people. She was far lovelier and more charming than most of them and wealthy in her own right besides. Pleasure and money were not the most important of her goals. It was lonely at the top, but she had her cause to keep her company. What did he have?

"Nothing like a little healthy fear to make your job easier, though I subscribe to the theory of honey attracting more flies than vinegar. Of course, my occupation necessitates my looking beautiful and being charming rather than asking questions. You'll excuse me if I make myself the exception and choose not to be afraid of you."

That was a lie. She was afraid of him and she had good reason to be. Ardent didn't permit that fear to show, however. A coy smile hid a multitude of emotions.



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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:44 pm

Kelly was becoming more intrigued with the conversation between himself and the ravishing Lady Davenport, mainly for two reasons. The first is he cannot remember a time where he was able to speak to a woman of her standing like he has been doing without her becoming disgusted and walking away. If Kelly’s comments were bothering her, she was doing quite the job of covering her true intentions, which is entirely possible given her career. The other reason was something that Kelly couldn’t entirely define, but it almost felt as if the two were having a layered conversation; the first layer being what they were saying and the second layer being what they were attempting to say or have the other say. The only way Kelly could describe this feeling is by attempting to see someone’s facial expressions but only ever seeing the back of their head. Every now and again one would see a cheek or a glance, but never anything concrete.

And for that matter it had been awhile since Kelly did much talking with a woman. Some Ignis officials like the good Sir Carmichael enjoy strutting around with a pretty young thing like Lady Davenport as a sign of dominance, arrogance, ignorance—whatever the reason. Kelly, on the other hand, enjoyed his female company in a much more private setting; this is done purposefully to insulate himself and his female companion from any sort of relationship or formalities. The end result becomes what both parties want—a night of steamy, unadulterated sex. There was no awkward conversation about where the relationship would go or how they would tell each other’s parents. It wasn’t necessarily what Kelly wanted, but it was enough for now.

Her rich laugh caused Kelly’s controlled smile to melt into a real one although his eyes narrowed slightly at the same time, which gave the impression of two reactions—from the eyes, confusion, because he did not think Lady Davenport was going to laugh and so loudly—and from the mouth, genuine contentment because of how she laughed. In his line of work, Kelly didn’t hear much laughing—at least not the kind that truly sounded like enjoyment—which is why it caught him off guard and forced a smile that he did not attempt to control.

”More likely some improper motivation.” Kelly’s keen sense of behaviors and bluntness cut right through Lady Davenport’s tone and to what she was attempting to say with her words. He flashed her a half-grin before leaning over and supporting some of his weight on the balcony railing with his elbows, clasping his hands together. Listening to her comment about using honey instead of vinegar, Kelly lowered his head near his hands and stifled a chuckle before raising his head and looking past his shoulder at the lady.

”If all it took was some honey to make people talk, I’d be the biggest distributor of mead in all of Ignis.” Although truth be told, Kelly has used mead and other forms of alcohol to get information out of people. Posing as a friendly ear and buying drinks led to knowledge extraction with far more efficiency than having to use other methods to retrieve said knowledge. Kelly’s reputation might be one that has those who do not know him afraid of him, and yet his cleverness is a much more potent talent than his ability to scare. The fact that the lady made a point to say that she wasn’t afraid of Kelly was either an assertion of confidence or an admittance of the fear itself, which could both mean the same thing in the right context. His curiosity was aroused.

”Why do you suppose it is that you do not fear me and yet so many others do?” The question was loaded to be sure because Kelly knew why most people feared him—secrets. Everyone at this birthday celebration had a skeleton or two in their closet just waiting for Kelly to pry it open. Thankfully, he wasn’t getting paid by the Ignis government to dig into its own officials or else the entire organization might come collapsing down upon itself. And yet Kelly continued his work as an agent because at least the government lived by some sort of laws or rules based on equality—with his own family, the only thing that kept you safe was being born or married into the Grays. It was the lesser of two evils; to have structure, albeit structure with a few rust spots.

If Lady Davenport did have any secrets, she could be playing a dangerous game, dancing so close to the flame. Kelly wasn’t interested in unearthing hers; he was merely good at turning the conversation in the other person’s direction so he did not have to give a little bit of himself away every time he wanted to answer a question honestly. He continued to look past his shoulder in his slouched stance, awaiting her answer.
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Ardent Davenport

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:48 pm

Ardent fanned herself daintily, eyes trained on her quarry. Though her smile was sweet, innocent, her gaze made darker suggestions as it roved up and down his body. Playing seductress as a noble was no easy feat. To be too forward was to invite a poor reputation and humiliation in these circles. Commoners and prostitutes could use whatever methods they wished, but for the woman of high breeding, a bit of decorum had to be shown in public.

"Not just honey itself, Sir Gray, but honey applied judiciously and generously to the male ego. But honey is sticky. Use too much, it could gum someone's mouth shut. And their wallet.... Forgive me, this wine has made my tongue loose. I would never presume to advise you on how to do what you do sober, I assure you."

In her younger days at the beginning of her career in espionage, this had been a problem she faced often. She would be too sweet on her targets, cross too many boundaries, and in the end, they had fallen in love with her. Instead of a courtesan to be employed, she would become a lioness to be tamed rather than treated. Secrets didn't flow very easily out of people who were in love, as love always tended to breed suspicion. Questions had to be posed very carefully, her eavesdropping even more cautiously, and then eventually, she would have to extract herself from the situation entirely.

”Why do you suppose it is that you do not fear me and yet so many others do?”

This time, the smile she gave him was indulgent as she sipped the last dregs from her glass and snapped her fan shut.

"I have nothing to fear. I hide nothing from you. I am guileless."

She turned toward the doorway, gesturing to the other guests milling about.

"Every one of them has a dirty little secret they are deeply, deeply ashamed of. The difference between them and me?"

She leaned toward him, leaving a breath's width of separation between them and dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper.

"I have no shame. Thus, no secrets. Does that answer satisfy?"

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:22 am

Having been with enough women—paid, nonprofit or otherwise—Kelly could read the expressions on Ardent’s face well enough to know he was being sized up in a manner of speaking. Despite her sanctioned arm-whoring of high ranking and powerful officials like Sir Carmichael, Kelly didn’t believe that Ardent’s expression was genuine. While Kelly might not understand it, there would be quite a few ladies clamoring for his arm because of his status, but Ardent didn’t seem the part to simply latch onto every passerby with enough clout—she seemed far too clever for that. No, there was a method to her manhandling.

”I doubt there is no better way to catch more bees like Sir Carmichael by judiciously and generously applying honey to yourself. Had I been born a woman of your appearance, I think I’d be Queen of Ignis by now, using such a technique.” Kelly spoke while looking at his clasped hands hanging over the railing, his words intended for Ardent. In truth, Kelly sometimes finds that a woman in his line of business can be far more successful with the male element simply by being liberally flirtatious and attentive. Instead, Kelly finds that the fear of pain, imprisonment or worse tends to get the job done. Like severely punishing a child from the initial mistake, the child is not likely to make the same mistake twice, allowing the parent to control the child without violence.

Listening to Ardent’s words about having nothing to hide, Kelly’s curiosity, while already heightened from the conversation, was piqued at this statement. The look he gave her was a slight narrowing of the eyes with a devilish grin, the two expressions seemingly at odds with each other; Kelly’s mind whirred behind his eyes in an attempt to figure out why he chose to say that, while his grin merely enjoyed what may come from such a dialogue.

Turning his shoulder and his body so that he could glance to where Ardent had looked, Kelly couldn’t agree more; most of those officials did have dirty secrets. There were few officials that didn’t at least attempt to grasp at more power, believing themselves to be better than those they serve. With an ambitious reach, Kelly has seen unsteady legs that cannot support that desire buckle and fall, hence why officials simply resign at seemingly random times. Kelly sometimes felt sorry for the poor bastards—not genuinely, but still.

Without moving his head or body, his eyes turned upward to meet Ardent as she closed the gap between the two. Her breath was soft but her tone felt far more mysterious, causing Kelly’s grin to widen, displaying more of his pearly whites. Shifting his stance, Kelly stood upright and faced the lady, crossing his left hand under his chest while resting his other arm on top. Using his right hand, he lightheartedly pointed his index finger in her direction before curling the finger and tapping the knuckle against his lips.

”I really enjoy speaking with you. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with someone who knows the steps to the dance we’re involved in.” As Kelly speaks, he slowly walks past Ardent, taking a few very slow paces as he changes gears to talk about shame and secrets. ”But you and I both know that a lack of shame does not mean one is devoid of secrets.” Pivoting on his heel, he turned to face her again. He began walking toward her again in the same similarly slow manner that he had performed while walking away from her, closing the distance as he spoke. Uncrossing his arms, he held his left hand and right hand off to his side at different times, denoting the two examples he was about to speak of.

”For example, I could kill a man, and if I felt the killing was justified, I would not be ashamed by it…I’d obviously want no one to know, however.” He looked from his opened left hand to Ardent, still about two paces away from her. He withdrew his left hand and offering his right. ”Or I might take pride in the pleasure I give to the opposite sex, but admitting such a thing would make me look like a whore.” His open right hand slowly moved toward Ardent’s face, his fingers slightly curled save for his index finger that he would attempt to gently place under her chin. At this point, Kelly did not attempt to control his intense gaze, leveling years of optical manipulation in a single moment onto the singer. Kelly’s grin had lessened as he spoke, his tone lower and almost distant as he let his eyes do most of the work.

”Everyone has secrets, Lady Davenport.” Kelly’s eyes moved from Ardent’s to her lips. ”But you and I both understand that secrets are power. Only through confessing those secrets are we truly weakened. Exposed.” His eyes returned to meet hers, retracting his hand and allowing it to hang at his side. He watched her for a second, which might have felt like an eternity, before breaking the suspenseful environment by caging his gaze and playfully grinning once again.

”Don’t worry, I wish not to unearth your secrets. I’m not sure that I care to know them, but sometimes knowing how things work takes the mystery out of them, and I’m enjoying this meeting too much.” Kelly was curious what Ardent would do after his comment about secrets. Some might have cracked under pressure, quickly excusing themselves from the situation. He didn’t think Ardent would behave in such a manner, although it was entirely possible that Kelly gave her too much credit, but the way that she controlled herself was exemplary—had Kelly come across people like her to interrogate, his job would be infinitely harder.
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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:02 am

Was he biting? There was no way of telling. Playing the game with Gray was...exciting, though she was loathe to admit enjoying anything with him. He was difficult to read, as well he should be, and she had the distinct feeling that it would take more than batting her lashes to land him in bed. Ardie was admittedly an arrogant woman, though she preferred to call her arrogance confidence. Thus far, she had not met a man, married or single, that she could not have her way with - so long as he liked women. It was a sordid point of pride for her.

"'Of my appearance?' Is that a compliment? Lucky for the kingdom that I'm not interested in a crown then! I abhor responsibility and it seems a lot of it is tied to that throne."

A lesser woman might have intimidated with the way he moved around her, circling her like a vulture targeting a choice carcass. Ardent was not. She turned to lean her back against the balcony, elbows perched on the railing, eyes following him back and forth. Her smile only widened as he spoke. Being a woman "of her appearance" wasn't as easy as one might have thought, especially in her profession. It required her being constantly aware of her body. How she moved, her expression, her dress, it was all a part of a conscious act she had been performing so long that she hardly knew how to relax. This particular position brought focus to her chest and face - her two favorite attributes.

"Ah, but you and I are different. I would never kill. Too messy. And I freely admit that I give much pleasure to the opposite sex - and the same sex, I might add, with nary a care as to whether or not that makes me seem, to use your term, a whore. You are right in saying secrets are power."

She rose from her lounging position, brows raised.

"But I disagree with you on one point. I find myself at my most powerful when I'm exposed. And I think you ought to try to unearth my mysteries. I think you would enjoy it much more than conversation. Talk only takes you so far."

"Lady Davenport? It's...um...your presence...."

At that moment, a servant appeared at the doorway and paused, looking back and forth between the two of them. She laughed at the servant's nonplussed expression and walked toward him, dragging her hand lightly across Gray's stomach as she passed. Just before her exit, she looked over her shoulder with an indolent smirk.

"Think on what I said, won't you? Find me after my performance. Or I may find you. If I'm still interested."

She turned and followed the servant off the balcony.

[[ooc: exeunt Ardent for the time being. IGNESIANS, UNITE! I'll make a performance reply with her later, then rejoin the action.]]
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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:59 pm

Oh, she was good. Trained at seeing things in his peripheral vision as looking directly could possibly give away his intentions, Kelly’s eyes locked onto hers while his extended view picked up on her bodily movements, especially her chest. Seeing as how he was enjoying their little private party, Kelly had to try a bit harder than normal to conceal his true intentions. Perhaps a quick frost across the front of his pants would do the trick, albeit that action would come across as too obvious. Despite his desire, Kelly had to make a mental point to himself not to sleep with someone like Ardent because she was that good—his equal, if he was being modest.

Kelly was slightly perturbed at the encroachment of a third party, only noticing the servant’s presence right before he spoke; another reason why Ardent was already becoming a problem for Kelly. Had this been a conversation with any other person at this celebration, the Gray Wolf would have noticed the servant approaching a good 20 feet away due to a number of things like the direction of the servant’s eyes, the body language and other subtle calculations. Restraining his show of annoyance, he looked over at the servant and flashed a grin, but this time the grin seemed to be more threatening—like a predator who knew he was about to feast on the flesh of the prey.

Kelly was immediately snapped out of viewing the servant as Ardent gently touched his stomach, making him raise a brow with curiosity. As Ardent looked back at him, Kelly’s head was slightly facing downward with his lips parted while his eyes made contact with hers. She was fishing for his attention but playing it as if she didn’t care whether he took the bait or not, which was all the more reason why his mind was alarming him of impending danger should the two become involved any farther than this meeting. And yet it was like a rabbit standing in front of a wolf; if she gave chase, Kelly felt himself struggling not to run.

”I’ll be around. Maybe.” That’s right Kelly, play it cool. As Ardent left with the servant, Kelly stood on the balcony for a moment before rejoining the party, only now he was even less concerned about making conversation with anyone other than Ardent. The only other reason for sticking around—besides watching Ardent’s performance—was to drink. Sauntering over to a servant, he relieved the man of the wine bottle he was carrying that was being used to refill the glasses of the guests. The servant turned to protest and as he met Kelly’s eyes, quickly decided not to, giving a polite smile before vacating the area. Now it was all about drinking wine and killing time.
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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:30 pm

Typically, Call was not one to put himself in the overly fashionable party scenes. He much preferred the bars and the casual gatherings where he could honestly wear whatever he wanted. However, it seemed that everyone who was everyone was present at the party of what’s-his-name. The host himself did not concern Call in the least, but his leads told him that a few more impressive people were to be making an appearance tonight, which would make him most glad. Of course, Ardent was at the party, but when wasn’t she at the party? Exactly. Though he didn’t get to see the little fox all that often considering they moved in different circles, but it was still a joy seeing her. Part of him wished that they were old friends and he would be treated as such, but the woman had the annoying rule of staying out of his bed, along with any other bed in the Rebellion. It made their encounters...frustrating, at least for him. Damn.

An older gentleman passed a little too close to Callum, causing him to shift the serving tray to his off hand in order to avoid the glasses shattering upon the floor. Cursing silently under his breath, Callum adjusted the tray of wine again and let his eyes move around the room. While he chose to believe that his social skills were impeccable, his high class social skills were severely lacking, and thus him and muscles had gained entry into the gathering by way of the servants’ quarters. In a way, it was so much better than attending the party as a guest. Instead of the stuffy clothing of many of the men, he was in thin black linen head to toe with a towel thrown over his off arm. Much more convenient. Also, the black didn’t show the wine stains from where women had decided to lose their drinks on him after a comment or two. He just couldn’t catch a break with these women.

Offering a glass to a couple, giving the older woman a wink and a cheeky grin, Callum continued his rounds. He had cleverly decided to take the tray of glasses which allowed him fewer interruptions through the evening seeing how most guests had a glass of their own already. Well, it wasn’t so much a clever choice as it was a lucky one, but still. Call looked over his shoulder and smiled again as he felt a hand give his ass a little pinch. While he wasn’t lucky with the women in their prime, the older ones seemed to take a liking to him now. The older woman offered him a saucy wink, which he returned, before Call moved away and to the edge of the crowd. There was no sign of muscles, but the man was likely around somewhere.

While scanning the crowd, a familiar face stood out: Ardent Davenport. Damn she looked good. Just as Callum took a step in her direction, her conversation partner came into view. Gray. Lips curling into a sneer, Call’s free hand balled into a quick fist for but a second before it was gone. He had to give it to Ardent, it must take some self control to talk to such a Loyalist bastard with her flirty little smile on her face. Perhaps that was why she was such a quiet member of the Rebellion. It was no secret to the Rebels that she was loyal to the cause, but she was so good at playing people on both sides that it sometimes made him wonder. But without people like her, the Rebellion would’ve fallen ages ago. Calm and cool and always seducing the enemy, that was Ardent. Damn woman looked like she was going to be in bed with the Gray Wolf any second now. Call took a glass from his tray and poured the overly sweet wine down his throat before tossing the glass into a potted plant with a crack.

He approached the Gray Wolf, well aware of who he was and accepting that his own involvement was not quite so secretly tied to the Rebellion. Winking at the glamorous woman that Ardie was as he passed her, he stopped beside the Gray man and held out his tray casually, not bothering with formalities that his “boss” was attempting to pound into him and muscles the entirety of the night. Speaking of muscles, where was that man? Scanning the crowd, the large man was not difficult to spot. Locking eyes with the man, he gave a nod and turned his attention to the little mutt he had his tray extended toward.

“Would you like a glass to go with that bottle, or would I simply be slowing you down, Mr. Gray?”

Taking a glass himself, he downed it and tossed the empty thing over the edge of the balcony before setting the tray on the edge of the balcony between himself and the Gray Wolf. His lips stretched to fall into his usual cocky, careless grin as he eyed the taller man. Taking another glass he took a rather large sip before letting his eyes fall away to the swaying Ardie further in the crowd, his grin growing.

“A tease, isn’t she?

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:04 am

The servant carved a path for her through the crowd and for that Ardent was thankful. She had many acquaintances here and had it not been for her escort, they would have swarmed upon her like ants to sweets. As it was, it was clear that she had no time to chat and she was on her way to sing. The familiar adrenaline of an impending performance filled her. It was not unpleasant; quite the contrary, it was a delicious sense of anticipation, not unlike traveling hand in hand with a lover to the boudoir.

With the thought of lovers and boudoirs, she allowed her mind to travel back to Gray. If she could have him, more doors would open than she could imagine. But there was no telling what sorts of monsters would be hiding behind those doors or what he would do if he found her peeking through them. Undoubtedly, associating herself with him would be dangerous. It wasn't too late. She could forget the whole thing...but the profits that could be gained were far too tempting. And, she admitted to herself, there was the added exhilaration of playing with fire.

Ardie blew a kiss at Callum as she passed him. She knew very well that Callum held a torch for her, but he held torches for most women. It was a pity that their interactions were limited to rebellion activity. She quite liked him, for all his perversion and sarcasm. Their social standings didn't allow for them to be seen much in public together; it would have raised too many questions. Case in point, at this particular ball, Ardent was an honored guest whereas Callum was a serving boy. Still, had he not been a member of the rebellion, she might have slept with him anyway. She peeked over her shoulder to see him speaking with the wolf and rolled her eyes. If he ruined things for her....

Though she couldn't see him, she knew Callum's sidekick was wandering around somewhere. Errol Booker, or "Muscles", as Callum so affectionately referred to him. She had never had the opportunity to meet him, nor did she want it. He was an ex-military man with a famous mother she especially hated; she was predisposed to hate him as well, though she did think he had a very handsome mustache.

Finally, she reached the stage. It had been set up somewhat haphazardly for the event. The band had crammed themselves toward the back to make room for her and the host. Taking the host's hand, she stepped onto the platform and the sensation of more than a hundred eyes on her nearly took her breath away. The host smiled congenially at her, feigning great familiarity when in truth, she had not spoken to him more than once or twice.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have a great treat for you tonight. My dear friend, Lady Davenport, has agreed to honor us with a song tonight."

Ardent dipped into a gracious curtsy amid applause. Her hands were sweaty but her face was perfect serenity. No matter how many times she sang for a large audience, the few minutes between stage and song were anxiety-ridden. And then she opened her mouth. The band joined after the first verse.

The song the host had requested of her was one that she had performed many times. Almost two hundred years old now, the piece had been written entirely in Ignese, a nearly lost language by now. One didn't need to understand the language to appreciate the song, however. The opera from which it came had been very popular when it first debuted, lauded for its bittersweet story of two star-crossed lovers torn apart by war. In recent times, the opera had enjoyed a resurgence in light of the Ignis-Terra conflict. This specific aria was considered the pinnacle of the entire play - when the beautiful maiden watches her only love sail away.

What made Ardent a wonderful singer was not her pitch and tone. Though this was considered a difficult aria, anyone with skill could meet its notes. The feeling she poured into every word, however, set her apart. Every vibrato shook her to the very soul, every breath was a battle. Her voice was carried by the wind and became it, wrapping around every pillar of the vast room, a gust of rapturous sound ripping through the audience. Longing, fear, and hope all churned within her and she lost herself to the music. The climax of the song was a steep crescendo, rife with power, waves crashing upon rocks as the maiden reached toward the object of her affection miles and miles away. It ended in a slow decrescendo into a pianissimo no bigger than a tortured whisper, but the wind delivered it to every ear.

When she finished, she was out of breath. The aria was ten minutes long and as taxing on the heart as the voice. For a moment, two moments, there was silence. Then the audience burst into applause and Ardent smiled beautifully, almost bashfully.

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Kelly Gray

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:28 pm

Kelly tipped the wine bottle back with the opening pressed to his lips, a rush of a medium-bodied red pouring into his mouth—so much in fact that a small bit happened to break away from his lips, starting its journey down the side of his face and into his thick stubble. Using the same limb that held the bottle, Kelly wiped his mouth dry against the sleeve of his black linen shirt, dabbing his face dry. Even while his head was tilted back and his mouth was taking in the wine, his eyes were still following Ardent, his mind lingering on their conversation. She hadn’t been anything like Kelly was expecting but it was a nice surprise to be wrong in this case. Something about her…

Although his thoughts were broken up by something more curious. A servant was offering Gray a glass for the wine bottle that he was drinking out of, but that was what most would see on the surface. However, Kelly was interested in why this servant—among all of the other servants at the party—would approach him in such a casual fashion. Every other servant Kelly had looked at or ran into was struck by such fear that they either excused themselves and fled the scene immediately or simply froze in place, hoping that Kelly’s vision was based on movement and that he would not eat them. Even more amazing, Call was looking as if he was sizing up Kelly, a look that Kelly knew all too well as those he interrogated sometimes gave him the same look to judge how the Gray Wolf would react.

Kelly’s mind immediately started running through who Call could possibly be, with his short list being someone who should have never been invited to the party. Kelly would have to be blackout drunk to believe that Call was simply an unmannered servant who did not show any fear toward the Gray Wolf whatsoever. As Kelly’s mind thought over numerous situations and scenarios, his eyes narrowed at Call but he then immediately grin and stifled a soft laugh at the man’s behavior, but made it sound as if the laugh was for Call’s comment about wine glass slowing him down. If Call wanted to play, Kelly was game. Although this game wouldn’t be as fun as the one he had just played with Ardent…

For a second, Kelly’s mind skipped a few thoughts to focus on something that it didn’t yet understand the connection two. The fact that Ardent was so cunning and playful and running through the things that she said—and the things that she didn’t; Call engaging in a similar conversation with Kelly, only he could tell that the so-called servant didn’t fear him at all while Ardent, if she was afraid, was very good at concealing it. True, Kelly engaged the conversation with Ardent, and perhaps she just enjoyed the thrill of being so close to danger, but how often was it that Kelly had two conversations with people who were being playful and jovial and generally unafraid of him? He couldn’t remember the last time. Paranoia? Perhaps.

The thought only took a few seconds to gather, and while Kelly’s eyes were placed upon Call, he wasn’t necessarily looking at him in detail. With his thoughts stored into their rightful place, Kelly looked out at the rest of the party as he addressed the man with the fiery, unkempt hair.

”Oh, I don’t think Lady Davenport is a tease at all. I think she means what she says.” Kelly turned to look at Call, feeling that he could quickly freeze the contents of the wine bottle without the man knowing and then strike him in the face with it. Not to mention the dagger that was tucked in his right boot if the conversation needed to go in that conversation. The thought simply made him grin, probably the same sort of grin that Call was giving Kelly. He decided to play a little longer with Call.

”So how long did you know you wanted to be a servant?” The question was loaded with sarcasm and was not meant to be taken at face value. However curious Kelly was, his attention was turned to the man who was announcing Ardent on the stage. He kept Call in the corner of his vision, waiting for the man to make some sort of move while he gave most of his attention to Ardent’s performance. Without knowing anything of her, Kelly could tell that Ardent enjoyed singing. Even from the distance that he and Call were at, Kelly could see that when she sang, she didn’t simply sing; she was breathing life into the song. Was there something she personally attached to the song? Or was she so good at what she did that she was able to truly lose herself in the performance? Either way, Kelly didn’t believe that he would be able to fully appreciate another singing performance unless it was given by Ardent herself; everything else would seem lackluster. While his one hand was occupied with the wine bottle, he used his free hand to slowly and strongly clap against the inside of his forearm in congratulations for her performance.
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Callum Wright

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:06 pm

Call tried not to snort at the idea that Ardie actually planned on following through with her flirtations with the Gray Wolf. Of course she did, the scum wasn’t a member of the rebellion and, in addition, he had information about the Royalists that Ardie no doubt wanted. Damn woman. He wanted the information too, but he wasn’t about to stick his hands down the pants of such a low life. It was all he could do to stand here and not throw a punch at the larger man. Sure, he knew he would lose, and quickly, to the man, but that did not stop the desire to do it anyway. Where was Muscles when he needed him? Throwing back the rest of his wine, he set the glass down on the railing before offering up a sickly sweet smile to the other man.

“Oh, of course she does,” he all but laughed, turning his eyes to the woman in question. She did mean everything she had said, whatever that may be, of that Call had no doubt. However, he was also aware that she meant all the things she did not say as well. While she may not try her oh so effective pillow talk --so he had heard-- on the Gray wolf immediately, eventually the famous man would lose every secret he didn’t know he had. A pretty face combined with Ardie’s proven talents, both musically and in the bedroom, would loosen any person’s tongue. So he had heard. Flicking the empty glass off the balcony with a quick gust, he picked up another, downed it, and sent it after the other one. Being around the next conquest of the one woman he couldn’t have gave him the desire to be rather intoxicated. He always told himself that he could have Ardie if he tried hard enough and put on all of his charm, but there was that intelligent and realist part of him that knew he would not have that woman in his bed until the Queen was in her freshly dug grave. But would he even want her then if she was not so out of bounds? Probably.

The crashes of glass below him, followed by a shriek, forced him out of his gaze that was so stuck on Miss Davenport’s ass and back to the ass he was conversing with. How long did he want to be a servant, huh? Before he could answer with more than a lopsided grin, his attention was drawn, along with Mr. Gray’s, to the man onstage who was announcing Ardie.

To describe the artwork that the woman was able to produce would be nearly impossible for Call. Though he had heard her sing once or twice before, it was nothing compared to what he was hearing now. Not only was he in the same area as her, which had never happened before, but the piece she had chosen was, perfect. He was not sure from which opera or whatever it came from, but that did not stop him from appreciating every last note and the sheer skill it took to reach every ear in the room and still manage to reach his all the way out here. The skill was similar to the one he regularly used, but hers was much more elegant. Leaning back and crossing his arms over his chest, he let his eyes close and her sweet voice ring in his ears, the world lost. By the time Ardent had finished, Call had found himself leaning towards her with his arms uncrossed and tucked in his pockets, a soft smile on his face. He didn’t have to be cultured to understand and feel the beauty of her voice. Once the wave of applause registered in his head, Call joined the crowd, pulling two fingers to his lips to whistle loudly in addition. A little less high class, but that was how he knew to express appreciation for another’s skills.

When the noise had changed from a wild applause to a content murmur of conversations restarting, Callum reached for another glass of wine from his tray and was a little saddened when he looked to realize that he had grabbed the last one. Downing it, he tossed his glass over the edge yet again and threw the towel on his arm onto the tray. It was easer to explain why all the glasses were gone, he had discovered, over why all the glasses were empty. His “Boss” wasn’t the most clever cookie in the bunch, but he did know the habits of parties. More than anything, though, the man was obnoxious. And Call needed more wine. He looked out of the corners of his eyes to the Gray Wolf beside him, who had a bottle of wine. That bottle looked rather delicious at the moment. Damnit.

“When did I decide I wanted to be a servant, you ask?” He mused about with the question, acting as if he did not hear the sarcasm in the other man’s voice whatsoever. “Well, it all started when I was four,” he closed his hands under his chin in a mock-dreamy fashion, batting his eyes, “My mother read me the story about the servant who grew up to marry the Queen. It was such a touching love story that I kept without me for my whole life that, after a few years as a successful merchant, I gave everything away and donned the life of the servant.” Rolling his eyes, he raised an eyebrow at the Wolf. “When did you decide that you wanted to accuse innocent people of made-up crimes and then go to parties to hit on the biggest socialites in Ignis?”

Well that was a stupid thing to say. True, but stupid. He needed more wine. Swiftly turning from the Wolf, though not enough where the man was out of his vision completely, Callum looked about the room for Muscles. Finding him, he let the Wind carry a silent whisper over to the large man’s ears. “Muscles, Gray Wolf out on the balcony, and not nearly enough wine. Get your lumbering ass over here.”

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Kelly Gray

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:59 pm

The story that Call concocted for Kelly was nothing short of crap and both men knew it. Especially since Call’s follow-up question was so forward and insulting. Ardent had made a similar comment about Kelly’s status among the general populace of Ignis, but he guessed with a physique like hers, she was able to say such things, allowing the Gray Wolf to take it as playful and flirtatious. However, Call was not so lucky; Kelly did not favor men nor did he feel that Call’s tone was being very playful at all—more accusatory in fact. If Call’s story wasn’t rubbish then the fact that no servant would dare talk to Kelly in such a fashion would be a red flag. This man was here, talking to Kelly, with a purpose—but what purpose? And did he have any other accomplices with him at the party?

Although Kelly still felt the urge to amuse himself with the conversation that he and Call were having, able to be more pointed with his answers than he could have been with Ardent. Well, he could have been very direct with Ardent, but he didn’t want to scare her off because he thought that maybe he and Lady Davenport could enter a course of intercourse, of course. Seeing as how Call was male and one who was pushing his luck with some hidden agenda, he wasn’t going to get off so lightly. Kelly narrowed his eyes in a slight annoyance but allowed a full-blown grin to grow at Call’s comments about accusing innocents. He took a few gulps of wine before he answered, tilting his head back to do so but never breaking eye contact with Call.

”That’s cute…the thing you said about innocents, I mean. Like you actually believed there are adults in this country who are innocent. I mean…there’s good men. There’s bad men—” Kelly waved his free hand in front of him and made something of a winced face as he spoke about good and bad being subjective, returning his facial features to their original qualities once he was finished with that part ”—good and bad being subjective terms, of course—but innocent men? C’mon…I’d hope a member of the rebellion would be smarter than that.”

Kelly went out on a limb and mentioned that Call was affiliated with the rebellion. Not that Kelly knew for sure, but perhaps the wine and the cockiness of his conversational counterpart would give himself up without any sort of harsh questioning. Perhaps his pride in the rebellion would give him away? Who knew. Sometimes the gambles that Kelly made paid off, sometimes they didn’t—but it didn’t take a genius to know that Call disliked Kelly, and possibly the Ignis government as well. As Kelly spoke again, his tone was a bit lower and his grin a bit faded while his intense gaze was set upon the fiery-haired man.

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Ardent Davenport

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:40 am

Once the spell of her song had ended, Ardent stepped off stage and was assailed by a number of nobles intent on praise. She accepted the compliments graciously, trying her very hardest not to make it obvious that she was trying to hurry them along. The idea of Callum being too near the Gray Wolf for too long unsettled her at best, terrified her at worst. She trusted Callum enough to think he wouldn't out her, but he was too mouthy for his own good. If he didn't flub her chances of going home with the Royalist, then he was certainly going to get himself in trouble.

Gray was infamous for his "interrogation tactics". She took gossip with a grain of salt - or maybe even a whole ounce of it - but there was a reason why the man was so good at what he did and it wasn't because of a charming smile and a chiseled jaw. Callum was not exactly discreet in who and what he worked for. If Gray decided to make Call talk, how far would he go? What would Callum spill? Some members of the Rebellion, usually those on the front line, were purposely given less information just in case of capture. Those who traded in information, like Call and her, well, there wasn't much holding back from them. He could break them with his big mouth. He could be broken himself and damn it, she sort of cared. That was if he was dumb enough to still be in Gray's company.

A woman's work was never done. She didn't even have time to bask in the success of her performance before flitting off to finish a job. All the while, she had to avoid the eye of her date. At this point, he was no longer a mark and had stopped being so a good while ago. She was confident that he had no more secrets to tell and she was content to ditch him for her new prospect. He nearly saw her, but she hid behind a servant until he entered a crowd to offer drink, plucked a wineglass from his tray, and continued on her way toward where she had last left Gray.

Her heart sank when they entered her view. Callum was still present, no glasses were on his tray, and Gray had an entire bottle to himself. The expression Gray wore was decidedly...wolfish. It did not seem a good sign. Composing herself, Ardent put on her best sultry smile and threw an extra swing in her hips as she approached them. Apparently, they were fixed in conversation and the last words she heard were "...a member of the rebellion would be smarter than that." Her heart leaped into her throat.

"Did talking politics with the help distract you from finding me, Sir Gray? Or have you found someone better suited to your tastes to bring home with you this evening?"

Ardent injected herself into their conversation without pause, shooting a glare toward Callum. To the wolf, it might have seemed simple disdain for peasantry. Hopefully, the ginger fool would better understand the subtleties of a woman irritated.

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Errol Booker

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:15 am

Swearing under his breath, Errol tugged on the well tailored but largely nondescript jacket he had taken off of one of the servers. It fit him well through the shoulders, but his biceps strained against the dark linen and it buttoned snugly overly his stomach. Anything too athletic would send the buttons whizzing across the room and his shoulders busting out of the seams; it was the sort of show he desperately wanted to avoid but he was sure several of the ladies, and maybe even some of their companions, wouldn't mind. It was a pity the man he had taken it off of hadn't been fitter, but if he had been a burly fellow instead of a bony youth it might have made subduing him more difficult. All in all, he was better off than trying to wander in without it. Buttoning his cuffs and straightening his collar, Errol preened himself as best he could without a mirror. He licked a finger and smoothed down his eyebrows, more out of vanity than necessity, and took a long moment to comb his magnificent mustache. It definitely set him apart from the other servers, but no one was going to make him shave it just to carry around a tray and pour wine for people with more money than they reasonably knew what to do with. Not that he could really speak, having come from a similar family.

Errol cleared his throat and put on his best social smile before giving the unconscious man one last thump on the head and slipping into the back room of the kitchen. He was significantly behind Callum, the brains of their outfit, but he was sure he could catch up if he could just get out to the ballroom floor. He sincerely doubted Call was in the kitchen interrogating a quiche. Unfortunately for him, one of the main cooks caught his gaze.

"You!" she snapped. "You've got big, strong arms; help Wallace with the damn fish!" She pointed to a large, whole fish laying out on one of the counters with its toothy mouth partially open and a dumb look in its dead eyes. There was absolutely no way he was going anywhere near that fish in his nice new jacket, it just wasn't happening. With a dazzling smile he swept right past the cook. "Sorry, my dear, but Wallace will need to lift the damn fish on his own. The scales would clash with my linens." It would also probably rip a seam or two if he tried to lift that. Striding away before she had a chance to even really understand what he had said, he snatched a fine linen cloth off another server returning to the kitchen and draped it over his arm, giving the man a disarming smile. Slowing his walk, he glided out of the kitchen entrance to the ballroom, picking up a tray of full glasses and balancing it on one hand.

He began to make the rounds, offering a glass to this lord and that lady. He recited the vintage perfectly whenever asked and made recommendations where he could; all lies, naturally, but a man did what he needed to. Over time he had found that his deep, mellow voice was appealing to older gentlemen and he soon found his tray empty and a string of slightly liquored men behind him. As of yet he hadn't spotted anyone of particular interest, let alone Brains, so he swung back near the kitchen and traded his empty tray for a full one. He had just finished fending off the advances of a particularly inebriated young woman who liked the way his shoulders fit his borrowed jacket when the Lady Davenport was introduced to the stage. Errol paused in his rounds; he had heard of her, of course, but never had the pleasure to hear her in person. He found himself staring into her face as she sang, struck by the depth of emotion she sang with but the apparent calm of her face.

Drawn in by the music, he didn't even realize time was passing until she finished and the room erupted into applause around him. Startled back into the moment, he quickly offered a drink to the couple next to him. They accepted and he turned to continue on his way he moved too quickly, still a little out of it, and caught the edge of the tray on the shoulder of a man moving past. The half-full tray hit the ground with the resounding crash of breaking glass and several women nearby shrieked, pulling their skirts out of the way so they wouldn't get splashed. Apologizing profusely and turning a little red around the collar for making such a stupid mistake, Errol quickly knelt and mopped up the worst of the spill with the linen over his arm. He was joined quickly by two other servers and soon the floor was as clean as it had been before and completely devoid of glass. Errol and the other servers took the sodden cloths and shards of glass to the door of the kitchen, where the two other men consoled him with admirable sincerity, since Errol was absolutely sure they were secretly patting themselves on the back that they hadn't been the one to make that scene, and pushed him back toward the full trays.

Taking a minute to collect himself, he stepped off to the side just in time to hide a small, startled jump at hearing Callum's voice in his ear. Forcing the blush to subside, as much as a person can, he forwent another tray of glasses in favor of simply lifting a couple of bottles and putting them on a clean tray. Not entirely sure how he was going to make a real, reasonable entrance to a conversation with the Wolf, Errol dragged his feet a little on the way over. The sight of Lady Davenport approaching the Wolf and his Brains gave him an idea and he borrowed a few glasses from another tray before approaching.

Bowing low to her, he offered the tray. "With compliments, Lady Davenport. Sir Gray." He inclined his head to the Wolf as well, though he wasn't particularly interested in giving the man any compliments. He felt like Callum had asked him to save him from bears with nothing but a bottle of wine and another man's jacket. This was sure to end swimmingly.
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Callum Wright

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:28 pm

There was entirely too much wine, and yet not enough, involved in Call’s conversation with the Gray Wolf for anyone to come out on top, least of all him. The words of the larger man set his alcoholic blood boiling and he was tempted to take the bottle out of the foolish man’s hands and smash it in his face, but the appearance of Ardie saved both him and the Wolf from that, for which he was almost unthankful for. Twitching at the word “help” uttered from the lips of the starlet didn’t help cool him down any at all, nor did the comment that clearly insinuated that she would welcome being a member of his bed, but thankfully the wine in his system made him slower than he otherwise would have been.

Speaking of wine and Muscles, the appearance of the massive man made him grin and want to throw a hit towards the Wolf. Now who was the smaller man. Damn Royalist was just gloating, about everything and all the wrong things. The wine had hit Call entirely too hard for him to just sit here and deal with it all. Though he had called Muscles in to help him out, he took a bottle from the man’s tray and, taking a swig, began to walk away. After only a few steps, he turned and offered a severely intoxicated smirk. “Until we meet again, Wolf.” With a wink at Ardie, he turned on his not so steady heal and marched away into the crowd, ignoring the women around him and heading straight for the facilities. He was going to be sick. “Sorry buddy,” he wind whispered to Muscles, “but I’m going to be sick after watching Ardie throw herself at that Royalist bastard.” Before he could make it all the way to the bathrooms, he ducked into a hallway and let the rolling sickness from his stomach loose in a potted plant, seeing one of his many discarded wineglasses in the process. “Best of luck out there. Also, try not to rip a seam, big guy.”

--Callum exits the thread to puke that damn sweet wine away--

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Kelly Gray

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:42 am

Intent on kicking off some sort of unplanned and emotionally heated response from Callum, Kelly was completely blindsided by Ardent as she wedged herself into the conversation; he didn’t think she would be back over so quick, assuming she had to make her rounds as the star of the party by shaking hands and batting eyelashes. And thus he found himself torn because the one that he could very well see himself having sexual relations with—despite his better judgment—or the one that was possibly a rebel, depending on his reaction to the goading that Kelly had concocted. Business or pleasure? Usually pleasure would win almost every time, but to seize and interrogate a possible rebel? When was he going to have a chance at that in the near future? Considering this one seemed very prideful, Kelly might have something to work with in regard to information extraction. Lightening his expression as soon as Ardent interjected herself, his facial expression as he turned to her was more of a playful grin than a wolfishly unsettling one.

”Bring home? Only if I lived in a prison cell.” Kelly didn’t know how much Ardent had heard of the conversation but he did not want her to realize that he was possibly speaking with a member of the rebellion. For all she knew, Callum had simply spoke to Kelly in a wrong manner—to which he did, but not the reason why the Gray Wolf would enjoy having the fiery-haired man behind bars. Although Kelly was becoming increasingly more curious about the rebellion itself and why people were so passionate about it. Granted there were always zealous wolves among the following sheep, but the rebels that he has been able to get his hands on seem like they’d rather die than betray the cause. And what if they were right? Kelly wasn’t a stupid man and he knew that government corruption was a reality, but for the Queen to fake a war?

Kelly could feel an unseen tension building within the conversation, wondering what Callum was going to do next. Perhaps if it were just him and Kelly and he truly was a member of the rebellion, a brawl could have broken out and Kelly might have found either Callum going over the edge of the balcony or himself. Yet with the appearance of Ardent, he thought that things might end very abruptly between the two men without any sort of violent conclusion.

While deciding on which person he was going to focus his attention on, Kelly was pulled out of his thoughts by a third person who was approaching the conversation. Enacting a tone fitting for a servant, the only thing that Kelly could see out of place on Errol was his ill-fitting jacket; not necessarily a point of contention but still something that Kelly’s eyes noticed. Usually servants are more of an average build, but it was entirely plausible that someone like Errol could be serving wine at a party. His eyes lacked any sort of fear of Gray, which was usually something he could elicit from men who were simply servants.

Becoming paranoid of how things were unfolding tonight, Kelly waved off the offer of wine that Errol had brought over from a supposed patron of the party—could it have mixed with something? Could the rims of the glasses been tainted with some poison? The wine bottle Kelly had procured from another servant was one that was being poured out to random guests so he was sure there was nothing wrong with it. Raising the bottle slightly with his one hand in an explanation to denying Errol’s offer of drinks, he gave the man an expression that was hard to read—slightly annoyed, a pinch of paranoia, but mostly indifference.

”The offer is appreciated, but I’ve no need for any wine currently.” Turning his attention back to Callum but keeping both Ardent and Errol in his peripheral vision, he was waiting for the man to make a move. Witnesses present at the admittance of someone being a rebel would damn anything that Callum would say afterward. Kelly could read the emotions surging underneath the man’s exterior, threatening to spill out in a messy fashion. Which is why Kelly was surprised when Callum suddenly excused himself. Even the Gray Wolf had a hard time hiding all of his shock, his eyebrows rising gently as his lips parted slightly. Reaching out to stop Callum’s forward movement was something that crossed Kelly’s mind, but he decided that his conversation with Ardent was a bit more pressing. Pleasure it is.

As Callum walked away, Kelly placed his thumb and middle finger just barely into his parted lips and while curling his tongue, blew out a quick, high-pitched note. One of Kelly’s personal guards came quickly into view; the man did not approach, but he made eye contact with the Gray Wolf, awaiting a command. Nodding to Callum and throwing a glare in his direction, the man nodded in acknowledgement and followed behind the possible rebel. Not that Kelly’s men would simply wrangle him up like a standard guard—no, Kelly had very strict orders on how to handle business. Cloak and dagger type stuff. If Callum was in fact a rebel, he might be a pain in the rear to tail, but losing him was not something that Kelly didn’t plan on doing in the first place—just wasn’t his first option.

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Errol Booker

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:11 pm

Errol responded to Callum's grin with a twitch of his mustache but managed to keep his face straight. The damn fool, he was clearly a little sauced and standing next to one of the most dangerous men to the kingdom, at least to their cause. When the bottle was taken from his tray, he shot Call a sideways look with a hint of warning in it, as if to say, really? He was mildly startled when the other man began to walk away, out of prudence, perhaps, but then the wind brought the whispers to his ears and he held back a snort. Of course that was his reason, a woman. Not wisdom, an attempt to keep himself and his affiliations concealed: a woman. But Errol had to admit, if it had to be for any woman, well, this was certainly the one. Smoothing his free hand over his mustache at Call's parting line to conceal a small smile, his eyes flicked back to Sir Gray. Now what was he going to do?

At Sir Gray's response, he bowed once more. "As you wish, Sir Gray." This was not a man he wanted to hang out and chat with, under any circumstances, but the man's eyes on Callum's back made him even more nervous. With another bow, Errol walked backward briefly, taking the bottle of wine and the glasses with him on his tray, momentarily forgetting that he had, in fact, presented them first to the Lady Ardent and then not given her time to actually accept or reject them. He was no mastermind and unfortunately, sometimes a little single-minded. Beginning to move back to the rest of the party, the Gray Wolf's whistle made him jerk and stop in his tracks, peering back over his shoulder surreptitiously. Seeing no one approach the Wolf, he followed the man's gaze and had to step to the side in order to actually see who he was looking at through the crowd of people.

Errol didn't recognize the other man, but as soon as the man nodded in response and headed off after Call he got the gist of the exchange. There was no way he was going to let that bruiser follow the Brains of the operation into a dark alley or back to a Rebellion meeting place. Or even just to the man's home, because honestly, drunk as he was, who knew where he was going. Making a quick decision, the muscular man offered another guest wine but dropped the glass he was about to hand them. Apologizing profusely and quite insincerely, he gathered up the shards of the glass in his now quite dirty, and also stolen, arm linen, he set them on his tray and took up a brisk pace, heading "to the kitchen" by way of the hallway Callum disappeared down.

Stepping down it and turning a corner, he arrived just in time to see the Wolf's man tuck himself into a blind spot as Call leaned over to vomit into a large, decorative urn. What a lovely surprise that would be for the servants tasked with cleaning this disgustingly opulent place. Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Errol took the bottle off of the tray by the neck, holding it like a club, and quietly set his tray down on a fine oaken table. His footsteps coming into the hall had not been particularly quiet and he knew that any moment the man would turn and be forced to act. He hefted the bottle in his hand and stepped in close, a mere arms length and a half away before he spoke loudly.

"Excuse me, my good man, are you lost?" The man's head whipped around with a sneer, a few choice words for a nosy servant on his lips. His expression changed to startled disbelief at the height and muscular heft of the man now firmly within his personal space, an overly friendly smile on his face and a bottle-club held up and resting on his shoulder, as a cocky swordsman may carry a sword. Having momentarily forgotten about the state of the jacket he was wearing, the straining seams in the armpits reminded him just as they popped, freeing his arms a little. Unable to help himself, he flexed: a button shot past the other man's ear and the seam running down the back split with a mighty sound. Before the man could shout or do much more than splutter at him to back up and step away, Errol swung the bottle with approximately half his strength, not really wanting to bludgeon a man to death in the hallway of a fancy party, and the solid green glass connected solidly with the man's jaw. There was a distinctly uncomfortable cracking sound that Errol assumed was the man's jaw and then his head hit the wall behind him with greater force than intended. Muscles stepped in to catch the Wolf's man as his knees gave way and his eyes rolled back. Slinging the man over a shoulder, he hauled him into a quiet corner and deposited him behind a decorative plant with more foliage than it knew what to do with. Tucking the bottle into the man's arms as a parting gift, Errol pinched the spy's cheek.

He made his way back to the other hallway in time to see Callum finish emptying his stomach. Rolling his eyes but unable to keep an affectionate grin off his face, he stepped forward and tucked an arm under his friend's arm. "You're making yourself quite popular, you oaf. Let's see if we can get out of here without any more run-ins, shall we?" His jacket was now almost falling off of his shoulders, he should probably ditch it before anyone saw.

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Ardent Davenport

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:22 am

Ardent watched Callum leave - and Booker after him - with raised brows. Inside, she was seething. The two of them had made such grand idiots of themselves it was a wonder they didn't start juggling! Was this a rebellion or a damned circus? She hoped desperately that Booker was as strong as he looked or else Call would be waking up tied to a chair, naked. And not in a fun way, either. Gray was nodding to someone in the crowd and Ardent was sure that the boys had gotten themselves a tail.

Her stomach was turning somersaults. They would have to help themselves; Callum was already compromised, there was no reason to compromise herself. Oh, if only she had Call's talent in wind whispering. If she did, both fellows would be getting a very sound wind-lashing right now. Instead, she had to bottle her fury and anxiety until she was able to properly unleash it upon them. Preferably with a few good swats for good measure.

Now, Ardent was tasked with salvaging the situation. Nothing spoiled the mood like political upstarts apart of an illegal operation disguised as servants getting chatty, drunk, and...muscular. She turned back toward Kelly, hand poised on her hip, the other resting on his shoulder.

"Odd pair. Dreadful service. I'll speak to our ever-gracious host about them. At any rate, I fear that if I stay much longer, I'll be whisked away by my date. Mind being my knight in shining armor and rescuing me from clumsy hands and disappointment?" She drawled, aware that they were being watched. Fine. It was what she wanted, actually.

Kelly Gray flirting with a woman at an event would have drawn attention by itself. Kelly Gray flirting with Ardent Davenport would start tongues wagging whether or not they actually left together. Rumors held a lot of power, especially in Ignese high society. For one, it would get Carmichael off her back. For another, it would make her more desirable in the eyes of the other powerful men present. Ardent Davenport, so skillful, so sexy, so lovely that she could gain the affection of a man so cold as the Gray Wolf. It was a considerable reputation booster.

Ardent was very much hoping that they would leave together, though. She needed to get him away from the situation and into a bed. It was so easy to get a man to open up by opening her legs. Hopefully, she would be able to lure his thoughts away from Callum.

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Kelly Gray

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:40 am

Muscles was more believable as a servant that the brains, mostly because he spoke very little and despite whatever intentions he harbored, Kelly couldn’t get much of a read on him. Besides, Kelly’s attention was transitioning from the man he had just sent after Callum to the pretty lady currently touching his shoulder.

Although oddly enough, Ardent’s presence here after just having performed seemed to be a bit odd. The conversation before Ardent sang was mostly hit-and-miss, with both parties throwing out bait and not sure they reeled the other in completely. And yet here she was, asking Kelly to rescue her from this dreary party while making an effort to touch him. Like someone who labeled documents but didn’t understand what was printed on them, Kelly was labeling information of interest in his mind, feeling as though it was somehow important.

To top it off, Kelly wasn’t sure how he was going to approach Lady Davenport. Per their earlier conversation, Kelly enjoyed the back-and-forth of wits though his better judgment knew that getting involved with someone like that is not going to end well. There was no doubt in Gray’s mind that the sex would be mind-blowing, something that was attempting to override his more rational thoughts at the moment. The thought of being with Ardent was threatening to give him a new appendage that he’d have to clothe.

And yet, why was Ardent so eager to be with Kelly? Was it the thrill of being with someone who had such a reputation as he did? Or perhaps she had ulterior motives? Not that Kelly was complaining, but he was always analyzing every bit of data that passed through his mind.

Ultimately, Kelly is going to realize that the man he sent off to find Callum is not going to report in from his mission, meaning that something went wrong. Something that Kelly is going to have to investigate further. If Call was in fact part of the rebellion, he wouldn’t have simply come on his own, would he? Could someone be so bold and not have anyone around to back them up?

But then Kelly was forgetting who was currently in his company. His thoughts had given him a facial expression that was hard to read while his eyes, while looking at Ardent, seemed to be looking past her. Focusing on what was in front of him, Kelly played with a few thoughts in his head, none of which would have been conjured by any knight in shining armor. His expression was more relaxed and mischievous as Kelly’s eyes flickered from her breasts to her face.

”Those two are of no consequence to me.” Which was a lie because Kelly was curious about Call and the rebellion. Although he wasn’t going to spoil a good thing here. ”Although I didn’t receive these dexterous hands by being chivalrous…” As he spoke, his free hand moved to her hand that was touching his shoulder, lifting it gently and bringing it to his lips. Kissing her hands with a delicate yet seductive touch of his lips, Kelly’s body had won the battle over his mind—although his mind was sure this whole encounter was going to be regrettable in some form or fashion.

”I know of a place that can be very discreet about these sorts of encounters. Unless you have somewhere in mind? Like the kitchen?”

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:30 am

True, Ardent would have normally executed the entire "your-place-or-mine?" dialogue with greater panache, but the current state of affairs necessitated a certain haste. It didn't matter anyway. She was right in believing she had him mostly won. The smile she gave him was toothy and wicked, a promise and a warning. She was the cat who caught the canary, the spider who caught its prey, and all other applicable female-animal analogies. The play was reaching the next act and she would perform her part beautifully, with or without Callum in the way.

She comforted herself with the thought that Callum was probably on his way to a terrible hangover somewhere in the strong arms of Errol Booker. Somewhere safe. Somewhere she could easily reach, preferably. Somewhere with good sound insulation so the neighbors wouldn't hear when she gave Call a tongue lashing, ideally. She pushed him and his friend out of her head. Best to direct her attention on the man before her rather than the man out of her grasp.

The hand-kissing was deftly done. Though the practice was going out of style, many men still insisted on kissing her hand in a show of romanticism. Those men didn't send inadvertent shivers up her spine, though. If Ardent hadn't been such a professional, she might have forgotten her ultimate goal. He was a Royalist prig, representative of everything that angered her or scared her about the Kristia regime, and she didn't need reminding of that. However, he was also attractive and seductive. There were no rules dictating that she couldn't make the best of a bad situation.

"I'm afraid you had me mistaken, Sir Gray, if you believe that I would be the sort of woman you could rush off to a kitchen for something swift and sloppy." Ardent replied with raised brows. "I would have hoped you would appreciate something more comfortable and...lengthy."

Her plan was to get herself back to his home, if he could be convinced. If he had any information stashed away anywhere other than his head, it would have been there. If she could spend the night, she could rifle through his things while he slept and steal away with none being the wiser. Of course, she did not expect this to be their only encounter, but in case it was, she did not want to leave empty-handed. Also, it was important that she set the tone of the relationship early on so he could see who was in charge and whether or not that was alright with him.

She was certainly not beneath sneaking into a library, kitchen, or coat room, but he didn't know that - at least not yet. If he gave her something she liked - information, jewels, expensive pets - then she would reward him.

"But wherever we go, I think it ought to start by getting out of this general area, hm? I've no doubt people are still trying to chase me down to chat. I'm bored with talking."

Ardent tugged playfully at one of the laces of his shirt and nodded toward the nearest exit.


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Kelly Gray

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PostSubject: Re: Ignis Has the Biggest Balls   Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:03 pm

Kelly was flirting with danger, but the kind that made one become overly excited about doing so. Somewhere in his mind he had toned down the warnings of bedding Ardent, allowing his chemistry to take in and do the rest. He enjoyed her immoral smile, gesturing that she might show well in public but depravities would ensue once the bedroom door was closed. Coupled with her playful actions with his shirt and the fact that Ardent wasn’t going to settle for somewhere public, Kelly decided that perhaps they would have more privacy in an area that he knew best—his own home. Sure, he did have a usual spot that he took women for such an occasion, but those women were not Ardent Davenport—he couldn’t guarantee that they would be entirely alone.

Stifling a laugh about Ardent’s comment of being comfortable and lengthy, Kelly looked past her from either side while taking his hand in hers. This could have been misconstrued for Kelly looking to make a break for an exit that was not being watched; however, his true intention was to make eye contact with another one of personal security staff so they knew not to follow and to continue the status quo. As soon as Kelly made that contact, he turned his attention back to Ardent, giving her a wolfish grin.

”You needn’t worry about it not being lengthy—in any meaning of the phrase. Come on…I know a quick way out of here.”

Walking briskly while holding onto Ardent’s hand, Kelly whisked her through the kitchen, the cooking staff being a bit surprised as they watched. Ending up outside of the establishment on a side street, Kelly was still holding onto Ardent’s hand as he popped up around a corner and gave a quick and piercing whistle, alerting a carriage that paying customers were ready to be picked up. Helping Ardent into the carriage first, Kelly dug into a pouch on his hip and produced far more coin than he should have. Slapping it into the driver’s outstretched hand before disappearing into the cab with Ardent, he spoke in a low tone, almost desperate sounding.

”My home. Now. Drive this carriage like you stole from me.”

Kelly had barely made it inside before the carriage erupted into movement, pressing his back firmly against the back seat, the driver whipping the reins like the ground was collapsing behind. The trip would be short and when the carriage came to a halt, Kelly would escort Ardent out of the cab and into his house, where a flight of stairs and a double door entrance later would find both of them in Kelly’s personal quarters. He wasn’t sure how Ardent worked behind the scenes, but Kelly wasn’t the soft and gentle lover that most men with manners might be; he was playful, confident, and physical. And not necessarily in that order.

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