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Welcome to Carista. We are an original fantasy roleplay forum set in the world of Carista -- a place where the eight different systems of control are divided across countries and oceans and blood. The systems of control are Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Ice, Plant, Health and Time -- all given to humanity in ages past.

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 The Morning After

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Ardent Davenport

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PostSubject: The Morning After   Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:04 pm

Ardent's eyes snapped open as light trickled in from the partially drawn curtains. She was somewhere unfamiliar, beside someone very warm, and naked. It took a few sleep-addled moments for her to correctly process when and where she was. She was in the Gray Wolf's bed. They had spent the better part of the night rutting like rabbits. The rest of the night had been spent at the ball. She must have only gotten three hours of sleep. Judging by the soft sunlight, it was still early morning.

She turned to see the face of last night's companion. As she had expected, Kelly Gray had been more than adept in bed. He almost rivaled her. Almost. He did not have the gift of flexibility she did. It had not been an unpleasant way to end her night in the least. She hadn't had to fake a thing - except for honest affection for him. There was a distinct difference between enjoying a man in bed and enjoying him at any other time. Throughout the evening, there had not been a single moment where she had forgotten who he was - though she might have come close.

Now, it was time to do what she had really come here to do. She slithered out of the bed as quietly as possible so as not to disturb Gray. The last thing she needed was for him to wake up, but she was fairly sure (not too sure) that she was safe in that regard. He had had quite a bit to drink, him and Callum both. Just thinking of the red-haired man raised her blood pressure. She would find him later. Business first.

She rifled through her dress on the floor and found a small vial of herb water, which she took with her to the water closet, where she relieved herself and rinsed her mouth. If he did awaken, she couldn't have him smelling her morning breath. Ardent maintained her clientele by insuring that she was regarded as above normal women, maybe even above human. Back in the bedroom, she grabbed his shirt and pulled it on. Just as she had hoped, it was far too big for her, with the hem at mid-thigh. Though she hadn't seen any last night, it was likely he had servants. They had not paid for the privilege of seeing her nude.

Ardie's hand wrapped around the doorknob before she remembered. Her hair! She rushed to his dresser mirror to quickly brush her dark locks with her fingers. The idea was to look artfully tousled, as if she had woken up with perfectly messy hair. She paused for a moment. There were papers on the dresser, half-covered by other knick knacks, but papers all the same and they looked official. Biting her lower lip and peeking over her shoulder to see if Gray was still asleep, she turned back and began cautiously leafing through them.

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Kelly Gray

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:57 pm

Kelly had a very peculiar enjoyment while sleeping with women, something that no one women ever knew—when sleeping next to them, he would embrace their bodies for a period of time, which would simply be chalked up as him looking to tuck his “sheath” in a warm place, as it were. In actuality, Kelly’s position left him without much of a home life, and there were certain things that he envied—one of them being to simply hold a woman in his arms without having it be sexual in nature. Being that he was an early riser and a light sleeper, Kelly would gently press his body against his companion’s and even sometimes watch them sleep. Most would understand why Kelly did this, but it would not bode well for the Gray Wolf if word got out that he enjoyed cuddling.

So when Ardent slipped out of bed, something in Kelly’s mind clicked. He was not unconscious from that point on, but he did not change his breathing or make any movements that would suggest otherwise. He dare not even open his eyes for fear that he would be caught. Instead, he merely listened to her actions, hearing her go into the water closet and returning. Kelly wanted to flash a mischievous grin, thinking about how he could frighten her as she slipped back into bed, but he controlled himself well enough to play dead—for the moment. The only thing keeping him from jumping out of bed at her was the sex—it was mind blowing. Kelly was pretty sure that he pulled something in his left buttocks that was going to pain him while sitting, but it had been worth it.

Hearing a shuffling of papers, Kelly’s eyes rolled in the direction of the sound underneath his eyelids, snapping his thoughts from his sore bun. One eye opened ever-so-slightly to see Ardent standing over the dresser, looking over whatever documentation was present. Broken seals and pieces of parchment that had been rolled out long enough to where their edges only bent upward slightly, Kelly knew exactly what was on his desk that he did not want anyone to see—heresy about the Terran relic and Brothers who were searching for it. It wasn’t necessarily the official word, but Kelly was going to put together an official investigation to figure out just what the hell was going on.

Why would a celebrity like Ardent go searching through Kelly’s personal effects? Not even someone with a status like Lady Davenport had could fight her way out of the Gray Wolf’s jaws should they come crashing down on her, so why risk it? Kelly had already suspected that Ardent had an ulterior motive for sleeping with him—calling in favor because she was chummy with the man who had the power to make people disappear—but perhaps she was looking for some specific information? Was she working for someone? It only took Kelly a second to realize that being a celebrity was an excellent cover for a spy; she would be a guest at every official party and every man—besides the ones that favored other men—would beg to wear her on their arms. It was a clever cover, Kelly had to admit.

Wondering whether or not he should make his conscious self known, he laid in wait to see what she would do—would she take some papers and attempt to leave his bedroom? If that were the case, he would speak up before she could fully open the bedroom doors. Or perhaps she’d come back to bed? Wouldn’t want to ruin the chance of a continuation of last night despite his aching bottom.

Your move, Lady Davenport.

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:33 am

Ardent scanned the paperwork quickly, picking up key words. Relic, Terra, Brothers of Ventus, Valetudo. It seemed as if the Ignese government had been reduced to chasing shadows. She would report her findings, of course, but she doubted it would lead to anything. The relic was a myth that the religious tossed around in temples. Though she had been raised Creationist, she did not put much stock in an omniscient and omnipotent being she had never met. Ardent was more the type to take things into her own hands.

She would not be taking anything with her. That was an amateur move and she was no amateur - neither was Gray, for that matter. He would most certainly notice if something was missing. Finished with her perusal, she returned to her reflection and continued her primping. There was still an entire house to explore. He likely had an office somewhere. She had not been able to get a mental blueprint of the place on her way in last night, as it had been dark and her attentions were...otherwise occupied.

Then again, exploring the entire home on her first night there might not be such a wise move. Snooping around aimlessly would attract unwanted questions from servants. Saying she was looking for the kitchen would only work the first time around. That and they might not take kindly to a woman wandering around sans clothing. In her own home, half (and fully) naked people were a common enough sight that the servants did not think twice. Kelly, however, did not make a habit of bringing women home as far as she knew. They might be scandalized by her state of undress and at present, she didn't feel like trying to fit into Kelly's trousers or putting her dress back on. For something with so little fabric, it was difficult to fasten alone.

That left her with two options. She could shoulder the burden of clothing, don her dress, and leave, or she could wake her companion. Her stomach growled - she truly was hungry. If she woke him for breakfast, then she might be able to get a good look at the house as he led her to the dining room. There was the chance that he might want a repeat performance of the night before and truthfully, that didn't sound like a bad idea at all.

Ardent crawled back onto the bed on all fours and then positioned herself over him, the neckline of the shirt hanging low and the laces grazing his chest.

"Rise and shine." She cooed, her voice still rough from sleep.

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:08 pm

Ardent was right as far as she knew—Kelly didn’t bring women home to his personal quarters. Something about the whole experience made the sexual encounter too close to home, both figuratively and literally. Not that Kelly leading Ardent back to his place was any sign of a commitment past last tonight—and possibly today—but he understood that a woman of her status would not be so easily accepting of a room at the local inn. No, she required that next level of quality that Kelly so infrequently gave to his one-night stands.

As Ardent positioned herself over top of Kelly, he stirred to life as if he was just waking up—opening his eyes wider with every blink until her exquisite form came into view, breathing in a deep breath to invigorate his internal systems. He smiled a lazy smile as he looked her over, the laces of his own shirt that now adorned Ardent’s body bringing a few goosebumps to the forefront of his skin. Reaching out to place his hands against her bare thighs, his fingers caressed the skin gently, stroking back and forth as he spoke with a slightly raspy voice, possibly from dehydration of alcohol consumption.

”So, what do you need?”

Erm, not the best or first thing to say to a woman after just sleeping with them. Most men would talk about the masterpiece of a performance that happened last night or call the woman any number of names synonymous with beautiful. But Kelly wasn’t that sort of man. He knew that this—what happened between him and Ardent—was not something that was going to spawn a relationship. This, in a sense, was merely a transaction of sorts where both parties received something. Kelly obviously had less to bring to the immediate table in the sense that Ardent could have slept with any man she wanted—but she chose Kelly. Not giving her a chance to speak right away, Kelly attempted to explain himself if she were to be offended by his question.

”I’m sure you didn’t just sleep with me for my good looks and I’d like to keep this door open should another opportunity of meeting like this present itself again. We’re both professionals here.”

Sometimes Kelly said things like this so that he could distance himself from any sort of attachment with women that he slept with—they might think he was a dick, but they would come back for some no strings attached frolic. With Ardent, he really did enjoy the sex last night and wanted to openly communicate that he would like for this to continue. You can’t simply listen to melodic perfection and then go back to screeching birds, now can you?

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:17 pm

"What do you need?"

Her heart skipped a beat. Had he been awake the whole time? Did he know? It wouldn't have been the first time she was discovered. The idea was to make it seem as if she had just been curious, had just scanned the paperwork. She schooled her expression into nothing more than a raised brow as she sat back onto his lower stomach, his sleeves pulled over her palms and her fingers drawing patterns on his chest.

”I’m sure you didn’t just sleep with me for my good looks and I’d like to keep this door open should another opportunity of meeting like this present itself again. We’re both professionals here.”

Oh. Sir Gray was discussing terms. This was...not the first, but the first time in a long time. Maybe even since her beginning days as a courtesan. Most people knew the drill. She would sleep with them, sometimes exclusively, sometimes not exclusively, be available as a date if called upon, and participate in most kinks, so long as they did not harm or discomfort her in any way. In return, her client would lavish jewelry, dresses, and sometimes even plain, hard coin upon her. What they did not know they were giving her was information, which was easily the most valuable. She was already quite wealthy on her own.

"Don't do yourself a disservice, Sir Gray. I slept with you because I liked you and your rough charm. I don't set a price on my services, because as you may have noticed, they're priceless. I want pretties and baubles. What I need is food, water, shelter, and a nice big cock."

She punctuated that last statement by reaching behind her and giving his a squeeze.

"But you're a business man, so I'll try to be perfectly honest with you. Give me gifts or don't, though it might be prudent if you do. Men will think of me as yours - for the time being - if I wear jewelry or dresses that you give me. I will accompany you to any party, dinner, or other event that you wish. Treat me well and I'll reward you. Neglect me and I will move on. Any deviant ideas you have will be approved or disapproved by me on a case by case basis. But first...feed me. I'm absolutely famished."

Ardent climbed off him and the bed and stood, arching her back into a feline-like stretch. The action raised his shirt and she remembered she was quite nude beneath her makeshift dress

"Is it alright if I walk around your home this way, or would you prefer I dress proper?"

In a way, she thought it was quite cute that he had needed some sort of verbal contract from her. It was also very telling of him. He was accustomed to women coming to his bed - or the bed at an inn or a tool shed - willing and free. Honestly, Ardie was staying whether or not he consciously paid her. The sex was good. Phenomenal, even, and reason enough to stick around on its own. She wasn't sure how wealthy he was - less so than her, she assumed. That hardly mattered. His information would be payment enough.

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:54 pm

Kelly watched Ardent’s facial expression intently, seeing if she’d show some signs of guilt or worry after her little search of Kelly’s personal belongings. He wasn’t sure what to expect if she did show signs of cracking—maybe her eyes would widen ever-so-slightly or her mouth would try to form a straight line. As Kelly watched her sit back, he realized that Ardent wasn’t going to give herself away—she was too good for that. Perhaps she had been in a similar situation before? Kelly knew this one was going to be dangerous even before he slept with her; he should have listened to himself before leaving the party with this one. But she was so good in bed.

So when Kelly didn’t get any reaction from her, he played the card of setting up a deal between the two of them—continuing this whole sexual exchange with terms and conditions. It wasn’t Kelly’s strongest play, but he didn’t want to leave Ardent believing that Kelly was suspicious of her—he wanted her to believe something else. Perhaps he made himself even sound a little green at these sort of encounters? Even better. Well, technically Kelly had never slept with someone as famous as Ardent, but he wasn’t about to tell her that.

Snapped out of his thoughts, Kelly let out a quick breath of air that sounded something similar to a cough as his member was grabbed quickly. The muscles in his stomach flexed as if he was going to sit forward from being gripped in such a fashion, but they relaxed as Kelly grinned wide. He listened to Ardent go over the rules of how things were going to work but he wasn’t going to buy her jewelry or anything like that—in fact, she probably had that in droves either from her own status or from the other men who had to bribe her to be on their arms. Kelly was confident enough to believe that he could win Ardent over simply by being himself.

As she moved off the bed, Kelly firmly placed his open hand across her bottom, sitting up to get the perfect angle. It wasn’t a hard slap, but it wasn’t light either. As he watched her stretch, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and placed his feet down against the wood—she was an exquisite thing. In the back of his mind, Kelly was a bit proud to have slept with such a woman. Lifting himself off the bed with a quick sigh, Kelly took a few steps and grabbed his black pants that had been thrown against a chair, sliding them on while standing.

”You can wear as much or as little as you like. The kitchen is downstairs and there are a few servants in the house, so if you don’t mind being viewed by strangers…by all means.”

Tugging at the belt around his waist and fastening it, Kelly was barefoot and shirtless and ready for some breakfast. The unfortunate thought of duty was tugging at the back of his mind, knowing that he was going to need to leave soon. Still, he had some time to enjoy Ardent’s company before his departure. Walking over to the double doors of the bedroom, Kelly placed a hand on one of the knobs and looked to Ardent, seeing if she was ready to meander downstairs.

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:28 am

It wasn't the first time she had been slapped on the rear, but it was the first time she found that she didn't mind it. Rough play and spankings were a part of her chosen profession, but she was not particularly a fan of being on the receiving end of it. Unfortunately, it was rarely her choice. Usually, when men were playfully swatting her, she had to fight the urge to slap the offender. This time, however, she simply laughed and grinned over her shoulder. A lighter side of the Gray Wolf. Excellent.

After their tryst, Gray had insisted on intertwining himself with her. She was not in the habit of denying men cuddles, but she did not particularly care for it. It was more intimate than the act it preceded in a way, necessitating no pleasure but the pleasure of being near someone else. It spoke of a sentimentality he kept very tightly under wraps - a vulnerability, if she had ever seen one. If she could exploit that little chink in his armor, then he would be hers. Let him fall in love.

As soon as he had dressed, Ardent moved past him to the door and stepped into the hallway. She had a long-standing habit of acting as if she owned whatever building she was in, whether or not she had even been there before. As a younger, less experienced lady, the act had been forced. Now, it was simply in her nature to project her persona as extensively as her voice. In the smallest hovel or the greatest palace, in full regalia or in nothing but a man's shirt, Ardent Davenport was a presence.

Her own house was the family estate on the outskirts of Searik, complete with gables, stables, and gardens. There were wings that she hadn't visited in years and rooms so covered in dust that she coughed just walking by them. She didn't do much living there, using it only to store her vast amounts of things, pay the servants, and to occasionally house a refugee or fugitive. It was lonely and held too many memories she wanted gone. Gray's home seemed more lived in, if only slightly. Did he have an office in his home or an office in a government building? With her luck, he kept all his secrets locked tightly in his head.

"Care to give me the grand tour?" She asked off-handedly, eyes scanning the immediate area and remembering every door and exit. A woman in her profession needed to know escapes. She had been too busy the night before to see much of the house; it was hard to get a good look at anything when one's lips were melded to someone else's. She stepped on something small, cold and hard and jumped back before realizing what it was. Her pearl bracelet with a snapped clasp. Last night had been rather vigorous. With a small laugh, she picked it up.

"My, my, Kelly Gray. I'm afraid you're going to owe me jewelry after all."


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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:56 pm

Kelly found himself a bit more comfortable than he’d like around Ardent, which was a fortunate yet trying situation for him. Some of the women he brought home didn’t have much of a personality but were excellent in the bedroom, while others seemed to have too much of the wrong parts of the personality, which made sex somewhat annoying. And then other women he could tell feared him, which made doing anything—talking or banging—awkward. But Ardent was something else entirely; she had the personality and the sexual appeal. Not many women talked to Kelly that way she did—nor did many women ride him the way she did for that matter either. It was probably the closest thing to normal he’s had in a long time.

Which is exactly the reason why Ardent was dangerous.

Compared to the estates of other higher ranking officers, Kelly’s estate—or property rather, as it was more humble than most manors out there—was just a few steps above your average civilian and a few steps below your average higher ranking official. The few rooms that his home contained were well furnished and grand enough, but there was something earthy about them—something that seemed less ornate and more functional than most people with enough money to rub together.

”Owe you jewelry? My family jewels weren’t enough?” While Kelly’s facial expression showed amusement at her comment and his response to that comment, his actual emotions were laced with skepticism; she wanted a tour? No woman has ever asked for a tour of his house—but then again, Ardent was like no other woman he had brought home before. Granted the servants kept everything in order more or less, but the question forced Kelly to pause for a second before closing the door to the bedroom behind him and walking past her. He turned to face her while taking a few steps toward the end of the short hallway they were currently standing in.

”You want a tour? Well…” Kelly clasped his hands behind his back before freeing up one of the hands, directing his arm toward the bedroom door.

”Obviously you know where the bedroom is…although most my home you’ll find a touch underwhelming, I’m sure. I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Sir Carmichael’s home, but it pales in comparison, I assure you.” Kelly simply didn’t have a use for a house that was far too large for him to live in. Even his current digs were a bit large for his tastes but the property itself was more secure and in a less trafficked area than other common homes. Walls were partially bare, the carpeting was a little frayed in places, and the house could probably benefit from some repairs as well. Pivoting on his heel as he turned to exit the hallway, Ardent would see a large, exposed foyer area, with two staircases descending and connecting to a single staircase, which led to the front door. Two entrances existed on either side of the foyer area once on the ground—to the left, the kitchen and the dining room area, and to the right, something of an entertaining area. Directly across from them was another smaller hallway that led into the study where Kelly would usually spend most of his nights. Kelly walked halfway across the open hallway that looked down into the foyer area, directing his arm toward the study door.

”There’s the study, where I find myself drinking wine more so than studying any documents.” The study was the one room that Kelly would only show Ardent without letting her inside—he knew better than to just let someone walk into the area where he kept important documents. He then moved to the edge to look down into the foyer, light pouring in from different angles to illuminate the entire area naturally and beautifully. Kelly started to make his way downstairs as he spoke.

”This whole foyer area must look like a single room in the lavish places that you reside in, hmm?”

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:21 am

"I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Sir Carmichael’s home, but it pales in comparison, I assure you.”

Ardent gave Kelly a rather withering look. He really was green, wasn't he? At least, insofar as employing a courtesan went. She had no doubt that his hands were red - with the blood of her countrymen, no less.

"I've been to all three. I'm not a common whore, I don't take visitors at home." She drawled.

Though she looked and acted every bit the sophisticated socialite, she had more talents than her body and voice suggested. Due to her lessons in music and verse as a child given by a Valetudien, she had excellent memory. The layout was quite simple and typical of those of lower nobility. She was not so snooty as to have never been in the homes of those less fortunate than she, but she was unsure as to whether or not she allowed Kelly to know this. On one hand, showing a degree of humility might be attractive to him. On the other, she considered allowing him to think that it was his undeniable charm that pulled her into his arms, despite his being below her station.

Her thoughts ceased, however, when he mentioned the study. She turned toward the door he gestured to, letting him pass her on his way down the stairs. The study. A treasure trove, more like. Her eyes dropped to the knob, palms itching with the desire to turn it, to dive headfirst into all the information he had to give. It struck her as odd that the door looked so very normal, considering what hid behind it. How inconvenient that the room should be so near his bedchambers. If she were to sneak to the study while he slept, he would surely awake immediately upon hearing the door open - if she was lucky enough that the door was unlocked. She somehow doubted this. But, there were drugs more potent than alcohol and sex to ensure a heavy sleep....

She turned these ideas over as she remembered herself and followed him down the stairs, bare feet padding over the frayed carpet. Belatedly, Ardent realized he was speaking again.

”This whole foyer area must look like a single room in the lavish places that you reside in, hmm?”

"It's clean, at least." Ardent teased, completely forgetting which angle she had decided to take, or if she had even decided take one. Unexpectedly humble and down-to-earth, then. She would be a mystery to him, something to unravel. "It's without pretension. Are you self-conscious, Sir Gray? I can't be your first house guest."

She wondered idly how many women he took to bed and if any of them were regular mainstays. If so, she hoped he wasn't very discreet. It would only take a few well-placed questions around the grapevine to find out who his lovers were, otherwise, and she could properly size up her competition.

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:28 pm

Kelly let slip the beginnings of a laugh before stifling the noise. For some reason, the thought of Ardent being a common whore—and her even mentioning it—sounded very humorous to him. Perhaps if Kelly’s thoughts were being translated into antonyms, the word ‘common’ would be bouncing all over in his mind. No, Ardent was anything but common. And truth be told, Kelly was slightly proud that he had bagged such a woman as Ardent—she was educated, refined, and did things in bed that he only imagined were possible. But he wasn’t about to let her realize that fact.

A funny thing with curbing or smothering your emotions—you tend to be less in touch with them and as a result, unable to fully control some aspects of them. Not that Kelly would ever lose his cool and start professing himself to Ardent, but even he was not above affection that surpassed the realm of sexual intercourse.

”Common? About as common as a rose bush atop a mountain, I should think.”

Kelly immediately regretted saying that, almost as if he was giving a complement that hinted at his fondness of Ardent. It was just so hard to find someone these days that Kelly could sleep with and talk with on the same level. But that wasn’t true because Ardent was on another level. She obviously had more class than he, and her bedroom antics—while Kelly would never admit this—was more creative and energetic than his own. Although that was part of the turn on for Kelly—someone that was above him. There were those who were above him in rank and social status, but Kelly never looked up to them, despite those same people looking down on him. If Kelly had been a younger man, perhaps he would have placed his heart before his head on this one.

But he was an older gentleman with years of espionage and manipulation under his belt. Which is why it irritated Kelly slightly that his comments sounded as if he was being self-conscious about his own home. A jealous man he sounded like, comparing his home to those that Ardent had visited. Of course she had seen bigger and better—her own home might be just as huge as Sir Carmichael’s. While his facial expression didn’t hint at much, he was scolding himself on the inside and attempting to reestablish the fine line between charming and repulsive. Kelly made a small noise of amusement as he found himself at the bottom of the stairs, turning to watch her descend.

”Not the first house guest, no…but the first in a long time. I try not to bring women back to my personal quarters…gives them the impression that things are going well for them. Unfortunately you are unlike most women, so it only seems fair that I bend my own rule.”

Holding out his arm, Kelly directed Ardent to another short hallway that led directly into the dining room area. Smells of eggs, meats and baked goods came wafting out of small corridor as the kitchen burst to life the moment the servants realized he and his guest were awake. The dining room table, large and made of a fine, dark wood, was already set—the food was only moments behind.

”I’m going to have to take my leave relatively soon…military matters do not wait, even for me. The kitchen and servants will provide you with anything you need and my driver will take you wherever you need to go within the city. Not that I enjoy kicking you out so soon, but I can’t have you wandering around my house.”

Kelly flashed Ardent a grin and a wink before stealing a piece of fruit from the dining room table and retreating back to his bedroom chambers to change into his uniform.

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PostSubject: Re: The Morning After   Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:26 am

”Not the first house guest, no…but the first in a long time. I try not to bring women back to my personal quarters…gives them the impression that things are going well for them. Unfortunately you are unlike most women, so it only seems fair that I bend my own rule.”

"I think I do enough bending for the both of us."

Ardent graced Kelly with a glowing smile, descending the steps as if she were wearing a gown crafted from diamond and ruby rather than his used shirt. She was (semi-)admittedly a vain woman, but who wouldn't like being plied with compliments? He had played very well into her arrogance. There was the distant thought that maybe he was being insincere, flattering her as she did him, but her pride did not allow it. She was unlike most women and took great pains to make it so.

”I’m going to have to take my leave relatively soon…military matters do not wait, even for me. The kitchen and servants will provide you with anything you need and my driver will take you wherever you need to go within the city. Not that I enjoy kicking you out so soon, but I can’t have you wandering around my house.”

"Of course." She replied simply, affecting a pout. In reality, she was glad to be separated from him. As he disappeared, she felt the relief that always accompanied being freed from her temporary companion. Though Ardent was surely a social animal if there ever was one, she often longed for silence; every time she opened her mouth, she was unveiling a new mask. By now, acting had become second nature to her, but exhaustion with her line of work was never far behind.

Being without him allowed her to more properly process her thoughts and what she had learned. The relic, then. Was it important? Yes, undoubtedly. Anything the Ignese government wanted was important. Was it likely? That was a better question. She knew as much as most people did about the thing, she supposed. It was a powerful artifact, lost ages and ages ago, capable of immense power, though she was unsure of what exactly that power entailed. It seemed to farfetched a thing to really exist, but if it did and if the queen were actively searching for it, it did not mean good things for the kingdom - or for the world as a whole.

Lost in thought, she realized she had taken far too much onto her plate and had been eating indiscriminately. She frowned and pushed it away. Later, she would worry about her waistline. At the moment, it was far more important that she contact her superiors, update them on her status and what she had learned, and see where they would go from there. Though she was reasonably high in rank, being a dealer of secrets, the big decision-making was much out of the grasp of people like her and Callum and.... Callum. She had almost forgotten about him. Was he safe? Was he alive? Had Errol whisked him safely away?

Ardent abruptly pushed her chair out and stood, murmuring something along the lines of "I'm finished" to the servant waiting in the corner and made her way back upstairs. Fortunately, her bedfellow had left. She dressed herself as quickly as her flimsy, complicated dress would allow, fussed with her hair until it reached something approaching presentable, and allowed herself to be escorted from there to the coach. To her home, first. Then to Callum's, by horse and in disguise. She simply hoped someone would be there when she arrived.

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The Morning After
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