06.21.3013: Lava and Ash
Summary: Nitrim and Anabethe catch up after a milestone in his detox. Anabethe admits her worries about matching. The Granthams are discussed and Nitrim agrees to become Sir Flint's squire.
Date: 21 June 2012
Related: None
Nitrim Anabethe 

Living Quarters Greatroom — Volkan, Imperius
This room, as the entry to the living quarters of the Khournas family, is about as sumptuous as things get in the Blackspyre. The floor is sheathed in black tile, heated from below by veins of magma running through the tower itself. Deep red carpets have been layered over the tile across most of the expanse of the room, softening footfalls and providing a visual sense of warmth to go along with the physical one. One wall of the greatroom is taken up by a large 'fireplace' where one of the heat-proof transparent tubes filled with lava can be seen pulsing and roiling its way up the tower. Around the other walls are a scattering of drakeskins, paintings of battle and hunt, and shelves of holobooks. Several couches and chairs are gathered in clumps around the room, providing seating for twenty or so with ease. Opposite the lift is a corridor that leads back into the actual living quarters and a private drawing room, with the entrance to the corridor guarded by two men-at-arms at all times.
June 21, 3013

There is a lot of preparation to be done now that Hostiles are setting up shop and starting to truly fight. There's scouting to be done. Troops to be visited. Planning to be done. Meetings to sit through. Sparring. Anabethe has been exceptionally busy of late. And now, it seems to have caught up to her. When she came back to the family quarters, she meant to just close her eyes for a minute. Instead, she's sprawled across one of the larger couches, snoring.

Stepping back into the Great Room from the direction of the eating hall, Nitrim comes to a stop. Sleeping Anabethe. He grins quietly and looks to the small plate of pie in his hands. His skin is far less pale than it was before his detox, and is covered in a sort of strength that he hadn't had before. Even his eyes are opening wider, not nearly as lidded as they always were.

Hefting the plate of pie in his hands, he creeps, one boot after the other, across the floor towards where Anabethe is. Glancing up and down the room, he checks to make sure that they're alone, and then scoops the chocolate pie into his hand. Sometimes fun requires a little messy. Then, without introduction, he throws the pie into Anabethe's face.

Hopefully, the satisfaction was worth it, because Anabethe's immediate reaction to threat is to snap upright and strike out at it. And with a face full of pie, it's hard to tell that her assailant is her dear baby brother and not a Hostile scout that somehow got into the Blackspyre. One hand snaps out toward Nitrim's throat, catching to push him down as she tries to get a glimpse of the world through…Wait a minute, is that pie?

The satisfaction is short lived to the tune of an ukk! from Nitrim's throat as he suddenly finds himself upended and on his back with a loud, resounding BOOM that rattles the end-tables. Instinctively bringing one knee between himself and his sister, and his arms up to cover his body, he makes as small a target as possible. A croaked round of laughter manages to make it through his windpipe as he whips his hand around to smack playfully at his sister's business arm. "Bethe! Bethe! Shi—oh my gods! Hold up!"

Anabethe's grip loosens as she starts to pull her arm back…then stays just where it is as she squints down at her brother, a piece of pie plopping down at him from her brow. "You know," she drawls, dry, "I've got have a mind to keep squeezing." And yet, a smile tugs at one corner of her lips, and her shoulders start to shake with stifled laughter. "Ass." With one last push, she straightens up and lets go, leaning back against the couch and wiping at her face.

"You know…" Nitrim globs the pie that fell from Anabethe off of his shirt and sticks his finger in his mouth, tasting it. His fingertip muffles his words while he speaks, and even that can't hide the laughter in his voice. "…I will say this, there's lesser pie that suffer having on your face. While you're wiping that off, try some. The crust is amazing." He chuckles, letting out a hoarse hack and rubbing his sore throat as he stands. "And I swear I'd never do that in front of guests. You're the beacon, but Beth!" He stops before her, motioning to himself. "Eight days, eh? Eight."

"Uh huh. You're lucky I disarmed before I fell asleep," Anabethe smirks at her brother, though it isn't long before she's laughing despite herself. "And it is good." She licks a thumb clean, then grins back at him as she wipes her face clean with the hem of her shirt. "Eight days is a good start," she agrees. "How're you feeling? You're looking a bit more like yourself again. Though that may be the pie in my eye."

The sofa beside her lurches as Nitrim dumps himself onto it, stretching out his long legs before him. Still a little sweaty from a light fever, and moving just a bit stiffly at the joints, it's a vast improvement. "Well, I finally got some food in me. I swear I ate half of the kitchen." He flattens his palm to his forehead and nestles into the corner of the sofa. "Anabethe, I'm really feeling a lot better than I did before. I shut myself in, all alone, for eight days and I was able to get through the worst of it. So, I guess I kind of feel like it's all downhill from here. Most of the itch has gone." He looks over to her, cracking one of his eyes open. "I haven't missed the war, have I?"

Anabethe snorts a laugh at his question. "No, you haven't even missed a skirmish, from what I've seen," she replies, pushing up and disappearing into the bathroom for a minute to wash her face off. She comes back out without her shirt, in just the tank top undershirt she often wears for exercise. "It's going to be a while before it's all gone, Nitrim," she cautions. "It's good that you're feeling good. It's good that you've made progress. But we're going to have to stay watchful. There were reasons you started taking these things. When they crop up again, you might want to start again."

"I know. I still feel the itch it's just not so pronounced now. It's like there's this sense of urgency that's been lifted off." Nitrim admits, folding his arms behind his head as he watches her reenter the room. His face scrunches up in a look of confliction, complete with a lean of his head until his cheek touches the cushion behind him. "I…kind of don't want to leave right now. By that I don't mean that I don't want to go to war, but that for right now I'm just comfortable staying home so that I don't go back to my old places until I'm ready. Does that makes sense to you?"

"Sure," Anabethe smiles faintly, dropping onto the couch next to him and reaching over to ruffle at his hair. "No sense in courting temptation while you're fresh off of things." She watches him for a moment, taking in those small changes, what they mean. "If you're still interested in training for war, though, it sounds like the Grantham's are willing to take you on. Not sure how Da'll feel about it, but I think it's a good pair. Solid."

"The Grantham's want to take me on?" Nitrim leans into her head-ruffle in the same way he always does. He shoots a half-confused look over to her as he reaches into his pocket, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. He lights one and throws the bundle onto the coffee table, taking his first drag. "You mean as in…being a part of their forces, or are we talking squiring?" He asks to clarify, exhaling the stream of smoke away from her. "I like the Granthams, I really do."

Anabethe laughs, shaking her head and leaning into one corner of the couch. "Squiring," she clarifies. "I'm not trying to get you married off. Though if it's a choice between the blondes, I like Devon a sight more than I do the Sauveur. For as much as your sister's opinion counts, at least. I like the Granthams too, though. They're enough like us to make a good bridge, but they're not Khourni, so there's a little bit of a…buffer, I guess you could say."

Nitrim comically rolls his eyes at his sister, propping his head up in one hand as it bends against his arm of the sofa. He huffs, snorting a small cloud of smoke with a lift of his shoulder. "I had to be sure, but Devon's not a knight, so I'm going to have to assume you mean to Squire me off to Sir Flint? I—if he's fine with the arrangement, then I'd like to do it. Do you think you can get this one past Father, or do you think he'll do backflips at the concept that his last son of the line is interested in earning his spurs?" He pauses, body leaning to the side as he reaches out to ash his cigarette. "As far as ladyfolk go, you should know I wrote Soleil and told her that I need this time for myself, and it best that she focus on herself for a while because I've got to lock in. With the detox, getting ready for the field, the Granthams so close and visiting…she may as well consider me dead until I come back alive."

"Sir Flint, yes," Anabethe nods, smile crooked. "As for Da, I'll deal with him. One way or another. He's wanted you to prove yourself for so long, I don't think he can complain. And the Granthams will put you far enough away not to embarrass us if you fail. Not that I think you're going to fail," she adds quickly. "Just trying to think through whatever his objections might be. And I'll sign off on it. He's always nagging me to take responsibility for things anyhow."

Failure. Nitrim gives Anabethe a sarcastic duck-lipped smirk at the mention of it. "Right, right, I know what you mean, Beth. You put a lot more confidence in me than he does, but all I need is time. I'm capable. He'll see and you'll get to gloat to him while he prances me around like his new, favorite pony." He scowls, rolling his eyes and going back to his cigarette. "I won't fail. I wouldn't fail Sir Flint either, because for the first time in a while I'm taking this all seriously." He turns until his back is against the arm of his sofa, bringing his leg up to brace between them. "Devon told me that their Ash Legion accepts their death in vows to the Crone before they ever take their field, so that they're ready for death at any time. You do realize if I'm made a squire I'd be heading back with them to Ignis after we fight, right?"

"Little bit," Anabethe says cheerfully in regards to gloating, winking. Her smile fades, though, at the reminder of just where the Granthams are from. "Yeah," she sighs. "Yeah, I know. And squiring's a commitment, Nitrim. It takes years. But there's a reason…" She pauses, taking a breath and frowning to herself as she chooses her words. "There's a reason they dedicate themselves to the Crone. Battle means death. And if you're busy being afraid of death, you can't fight to your best ability. We've got forty years of war coming. It isn't like we're going to fight for six months and then this will be over."

The tone of the conversation takes a somber downturn, as laughing, bickering siblings morph into concerned family members. The change isn't lost on Nitrim, who leans forward with his hand braced over his knee so that he can speak quietly with his sister. The pendant around his neck sways as he looms, nodding off at the point that she's just made. "I…know. We're going to be at this a long, long time. I don't know if Devon told me this because she thinks it would be good for me or not, but it make a sick kind of sense to me. I've emptied myself so much over the years that the idea of truly, honestly being ready for death seems like a foregone conclusion to me. She's invited me to the Pit as it is, and…I think I want to see what they have going on there. I'm one of us, don't get me wrong, Beth, but…I'm the strange one. I've always thought about this kind of stuff, even back when I was a little kid." He pauses, frowning. "I'll miss you."

"You won't be gone forever," Anabethe shakes her head, reaching out to take his hand with a firm grip. "And I don't think you're wrong. Shit, Nitrim. Why do you think I've spent the last few years the way I have?" she asks with a rueful smile. "They're right. Now that the Hostiles are here, I'm as good as dead. Could be in any battle, at any moment. And that's okay. That's my purpose. I'm supposed to stand out there between them and us, and make them go through me first. But I'll be damned if I don't live, too."

Nitrim turns his hand over, resting his wrist over his knee to hold Bethe's hand in his. Lowering his head, he laughs softly towards her wrist and wryly slips the cigarette into the corner of his lip. "You and I have taken liberties with having our fun, yeah." Another laugh, this time the breath a fog of blue-gray smoke. He looks back to her, centering his green eyes over hers. "Just take it from your brother, Bethe, there's a limit to fun. Stick to natural highs." He winks. "So what about you drinking with Flint? Will you be coming to visit us at the Pit, if all goes well? Live a little in the by and by?"

Anabethe arches a brow, smile slipping crooked. "Doubtful," she replies, shaking her head. "Kind of a long way to go for a tumble, Ways or no. But to visit my brother? That sounds like the sort of thing I could make some time for." She gives his hand a squeeze before releasing it with a sigh, looking away. "Anyhow, relationships are messy. Figuring out…It's messy." There might be a few emotional scars of her own there.

Stretching out his other leg to rest the length of the sofa, Nitrim leans back against the arm once more, folding his arms across his chest and holding his cigarette cocked to the side like a smoking pistol. His lower lip juts out and his tongue presses against one of his molars, reading his sister's body language. "Yeah, yeah they are." He takes in a slow breath, releasing it. "Gods know I'm not the local expert. Some things seemed good ideas at the time, sooner or later everything seemed right but they weren't, fuck I can't remember half of them I was so blood-red out of my mind." He pauses for a drag, eyes flitting back to her, thoughtful. "Shit, look at us. Are you okay? You want me to go grab the rest of the pie and a couple of forks?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Anabethe assures, summoning up a smile that doesn't quite convey that message. "Just, you know. It's been a while. I've got a feeling Da's starting to think about getting me married again. And not really looking forward to another arrangement, you know?" She shrugs, scrubbing a hand over her face and finding a bit of pie left by her ear. "The last one ended so very well, after all."

"Well…" Nitrim's many-ringed fingers brush through his blonde mop of lightly damp hair. His hand comes to a stop atop his head, clinging to few strands softly to puff a cloud of air. "…shit." He suddenly releases, realizing he doesn't immediately have a reply to her predicament. So instead, he takes the time to drag off of his cigarette before he responds. It gives him time to think.

"I know I'm your little brother, so don't think that I think you aren't smarter and wiser than I am, okay? But…you know…maybe number two won't go down the same way number one did, and if you dare to pay attention to a guy you might be able to choose where you land." He frowns quietly. "Tell me how I can help you, Bethe. I owe you."

"Thanks, but there's not much to be done about it," Anabethe shakes her head, smile flickering again. "Although, you know. You happen to find someone decent that we're not related to, I wouldn't mind a heads up on it. You're right, I'll be better off if I can get the jump on it, but that means actually finding someone worth jumping," she winks, tucking one arm behind her head.

"Oh shit, we're about to have this talk here then, huh?" Nitrim laughs, shuffling his back until he's comfortable and ashing the cigarette. "I figured you and Reena talk about this stuff but I'll take what I can get from my sister." He beams. "I'll keep my eyes open, and by that I mean for honest potentials for you to talk to, not some kind of Valen sabotage. Shit. If there's anyone in this family that can get you laid it's me. Just don't tell father." His eyes narrow and he slips the cigarette back between his lips, leveling a long, suspicious stare at her. "So you like Devon better, eh?"

"I can get laid on my own, thanks," Anabethe smirks. "It's finding someone who's worth a little more than that that's tricky. Anyhow," she waves a hand, dismissive. "As far as the last couple of girls I've seen coming out of your room, yeah, I like Devon better. Granted, I'm willing to allow that maybe I've…jumped to some conclusions about the other one." She's even so fair she won't say her name! "But I didn't much care for the assumptions she made about us. All of us."

Nitrim huffs. "You make it sound like my room is this revolving door of women. Do you have a camera set in place, or are the guards feeding you information?" He laughs, playfully jabbing his bootheel against the side of her knee, then retreating to snuff out his cigarette into the tray. "Besides, it's not like Devon's been in my room. Are you suggesting that I've done something unbecoming of my station again?"

"Uh, I saw her coming out of your room just the other day." Anabethe arches a brow, skeptical. "You must've been out of it or something. But she was there. I hope you two didn't do something and you've forgotten about it," she adds, swatting at his foot and promptly stretching her legs out across the couch in retaliation. "That would be awkward. And probably make the whole squiring thing really uncomfortable."

Caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The far-off stare that Nitrim gives the wall and the awkward smirk at the corner of his lip gives himself away. His forearm comes down, gently, over her shins and he settles back into place. "No…nothing has happened that I've forgotten about." He looks over to her, cocking a brow. "Sorry." For lying. "It's just hard to judge whether she's dropping by for company or she's dropping by out of interest. Well—there's interest, I shouldn't say that. I just think she's interested in seeing me succeed."

"Why do you lie to me?" Anabethe sounds genuinely curious, slinging an arm over the back of the couch and tilting her head at her brother. "I mean, I get it if you want to have your own life and don't want us sticking our noses in, but we're family. That's not going to change over a girl in your room. And I'm not even going to give you that much shit over it. A little," she grins, holding her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. "But, you know. I'm kind of getting the feeling lately that you don't trust me very much."

Now it's Nitrim's turn to sling his legs lengthwise along the sofa, lining them up alongside his sisters. Just like her, in a practiced gesture, he looms a shoulder over the back of the furniture and resumes eye contact. He gives her a slightly guilty look. "Knee-jerk reaction I guess. I really am sorry. I'm so used to…sneaking around, preserving myself for better or for worse. It's not that I don't trust you, I do, you've gone to bat plenty of times for me. I guess…part of me just figured after this drug thing I didn't want to give you another reason to be disappointed. You're not like Father. I know this…" He shrugs again, softly. "…but also because I wanted to protect her anonymity, just in case you were fishing."

He clears his throat, rubbing softly at the eyelid that always twitches when he's feeling the urge to dose. "She reminds me a little of you. She's a widow, you know. You're not a widow but I get the sense that like you she feels like her ship's sailed and that's all there is. I don't want her losing any face on my watch."

"I was almost a widow," Anabethe drawls, dry. "Nik was lucky Victor was around when the news broke." She rests the side of her head against the back of the couch, watching him. "I'm always going to have your back. Against anyone else outside the family, I've got your back. If you do something stupid, it'll be between you and me. But all you've got to do is tell me, and I can have your back better." She pauses, smile quirking. "Also, I'm flattered that you think I'm clever enough to fish."

"We've got the same blood in our veins, right? I fish. Thank the Gods that Father doesn't fish, but Mikhail fishes." Nitrim laughs happily, chest lurching in a rare, happy moment. His hands come up, brushing over his face. "Ohhh Bethe" He drawls through his fingers before he bares his eyes to her. "Okay. I won't tell you any more lies. I'll find some creative way of pulling you aside so that I don't have to dish the dirt in front of other people, but you and I?" He points between the two of them. "We're free and clear. Got any questions, ask away. Now's your bloody window of opportunity."

Anabethe reaches out a hand to shake on that agreement, smile crooked. "Truth is, baby brother, there isn't anything I need to ask you just at the moment," she admits. "But it's good to know where we stand." She starts to unfold from the couch then, lifting her arms above her head in a bone-cracking stretch. "Now, if you'll excuse me. Someone interrupted my nap with a pie. I have some sleep to catch up on."

"Yeah, until someone gets in your room and wakes your ass up with some pie." Nitrim teases, sliding off of the couch and standing nearby, arms at the ready for a goodnight hug. He hops softly in place, shaking his head in an attempt to get his eyelid to stop twitching. Eventually, the fit passes and he extends his arms to her. "Sleep tight, sister. You got a brother that loves you, even if he's going to the Pit. If you don't visit I'll come back and you and I will have a throw down, understand?"

Anabethe steps in to catch him in a tight hug, thumping a hand at his back. "Hey, they're staying with us for now. We'll get you broken in right before we send you off to strangers," she promises, a note of humor in her voice. "Besides, it's not like you're entirely raw. You're still Khournas." Her smile is warm as she steps back, giving his shoulder a squeeze. "I'm proud of you, Nitrim. You're doing good. You need anything, you know you just come and get me. But if you wake me up with pie, I'll beat you," she promises, winking, before she turns toward her own room.

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