In a Better Light

In a Better Light
Summary: Lady Cassia enjoys the sunlight at Wolfshire Castle and is joined by the Duke where talk of life, death, and the Guardians, unexpectedly comes up.
Date: 23/07/1329
Cassia Pawel 

Wolveshire Castle: Alcove
This alcove has been reserved for a garden and sanctuary dedicated to the Varghem Family. The domed ceiling is sapphire speckled with golden stars, each of the stars holding a small light-marble at the center which grants illumination to the room. Instead of walls, there is a series of windows that cause one to be able to glance into the room at all times. Every other window is cleared, while the windows between are stained glass that depict the Wolveshire crest and its associated Vassals. Winding throughout the room is several exotic plants that are made in close planters that run close to the floor. In the center of the room is a large tree that branches outwards, reaching towards the star-spangled roof above. The floor is golden tiles that warm the surroundings, and benches with velvet cushions in the center of the room provide a place for those who wish to study the garden to sit. However, a staircase winds up the tree, leading to a private sanctuary for the mistress of the garden to be alone or to entertain guests.

The midday sun shines brightly through the surrounding windows refracting light off of every shiny surface, the marbles at the ceiling included, sending rainbows about the room in scattered array. The stained glass windows seem to glow as the sun filters through them. It is warm in the Alcove of Wolfshire castle, though not many are about with Lady Prada absent from the area. This suits Lady Cassia Auldholme fine, in fact, her relaxed features — even as guards of her own house and that of the Queen stand outside of the room — speak to a woman who is perfectly content.

Her gown is a plush purple velvet, embroidered with golden gauntlets along the inside of her light purple satin sleeves. Her hair, unbound, cascades down her back in fat ringlets that can only be natural.

Glad to be done with all the tourney and similar stuff, and being home again, Pawel makes his way into the alcove. It looks like the Duke of Wolveshire has just been walking around a bit without really paying much attention to where he is at the moment, until he sees the lady present, and comes to a step. He doesn't speak yet, aside from a quiet "Oh."

With a start Cassia gasps, then laughs a little at herself for being so foolish when she notes the very quiet Duke. Even the Auldholme guards chuckle a bit at her reaction, perhaps because it's unusual for her. Cassia rises from her seat and curtsies politely. "Your Grace. I'm afraid you gave me a bit of a start," she says as she rises. "I am not one to be snuck up on very often. It is just… Well, it is just lovely in here, that is all. Got a bit lost for a moment."

Pawel offers a bit of a smile, and a polite nod in return to the lady. "Lady Cassia. I'm very glad to hear that you find it lovely here. And I must apologize for sneaking up on you. I was simply not aware of where I was heading, and that there was someone here." Offering a brief smile to the Auldholme lady. "I hope you are well?"

"Never you worry," Cassia says kindly. "I am one of truths, Your Grace, and if something is so clearly lovely then it would behoove me to say so," she smiles softly and gestures toward the ceiling. "It is quite incredible, the stars, it must have taken craftsmen days to place each marble." Her crystalline eyes come down from the stars and rest on Pawel. "I am well enough, waiting patiently for the Queens demands to be met so I can escort Princes Niniane home." Cassia gestures to the velvet-cushioned bench beside her as if to ask if they should sit. "I should thank you for hosting us Northerners here, I am quite sure it is not something you had planned on."

"Well, if we were not able to handle things I had not planned on, I'm sure we all would be under control of the Corsairs long enough, my lady," Pawel replies, as he moves over towards the bench now, before he smiles. "And let us hope that those demands will be met soon, I'm sure the Princess wants to be reunited with her family soon." Moving to seat himself as well now.

Once Pawell is seated Cassia sits as well, loosing a small chuckle at what seems like a jest. "Indeed, and none of us would want that," she smiles brightly. "Yes. I should say she does, as anyone would, I think. Contention is never a clean thing, it is dirty and takes terms and diplomacy to cure. Even then nothing is certain." Cassia folds her hands in her lap before she continues. "Animosity is a dangerous and deadly thing, revenge, more so. I so hope everything is settled soon."

Pawel nods a bit as he hears that, offering a brief smile, before he adds, "Let us hope so, yes. The problem, I guess, is that everyone has only known war, and can't really manage to adjust to more peaceful happenings." A brief pause as he looks around again now, a bit thoughtfully.

A nod from the Auldholme lady. "Indeed. You have the right of it." Cassia lifts a finger to add a point. "Emotion has a lot to do with it, as well, Your Grace. Pride, too, perhaps. Mostly, however, it is those who cannot separate what is right and what feels right. Duty and heart," she says with a soft smile.

"I've always been of a mind to follow duty over my heart, it has served me well. But war, yes. When it is all you know, you cannot imagine doing anything else. Diplomacy seems too farfetched and out of reach, and bares an inherent lack of trust in another's honor." She sits up straight. "I cannot abide that, I must trust another's honor and their honorable word. Else-wise nothing ever gets done," Cassia beams a brightly lit smile at her proclamation.

Pawel nods a little bit as he hears that, nodding a bit. "Too many people like that," he replies, after a few moments of pause, before he adds, "And trusting people is important, that's true."

Canting her head Cassia nods with agreement. "Anyway, enough of war. What can you tell me of Wolfshire." Cassia blushes lightly. "That is, if it would please you to do so, Your Grace?"

"Well, no enemy force has ever managed to take our castle," Pawel replies, before he adds, "Aside from that, we produce very much of the food needed for both Kingdoms. I'm sure you saw the farmlands on your way here?" A brief pause, before he adds, "This is the newest part of the castle, the Main Keep. Back in the days, the castle was mostly the Temple and the Old Keep, where the infirmary and such are now."

Cassia nods when prompted and listens intently. "Ah. Well, isn't that interesting. I have always liked to travel, I go about for my father quite a lot. Though, I'd dare say I never stopped at this castle proper." Cassia takes another brief look around. "I am quite sorry I have missed this, in truth," again she sweeps a hand across the room. Her gaze stops at the tree with steps and raises upwards to the hatch to the room above. "If you don't mind me asking, what is up there? I didn't dare to explore it myself," Cassia smiles, taking her eyes back to Pawel for an answer.

"Oh, that one? It's probably for the best that you didn't explore there, Lady Cassia. That's the lair of the beast," it's spoken a bit lightly, as Pawel looks to the hatch. "My sister's little place, the oldest of them, anyway." A brief smile as he adds, "Traveling can be a good thing, after all. It usually depends on the reasons for it, though."

A slender brow raises until the Duke mentions his sister, realization spreads across her features and Cassia raises a hand to partially stifle a giggle. "Well. It seems a place fit for a Princess, perhaps that's why she is the way she is." Cassia grins and allows her eyes to flit to the tree once more. "I am now glad I did not venture that way, it seemed so whimsical, Your Grace. I was half tempted." She turns back at the talk of travel and nods. "It is, and I haven't had to deal too much in sour subjects. Even when I do, it is never so bad as one would like it to be. I just enjoy it when I can."

Pawel smiles, nodding a little bit. "She can be a bit… special, yes," he replies, before he chuckles a bit. "There's a few bad reasons for travel, but let's not talk about that at the moment. Let's focus on the good reasons." Another brief pause, before he adds, "So, what does Lady Cassia Auldholme like to do when she has some time to relax, hmm?"

She giggles along with the Duke. "Every family seems to have them, yes?" Though her look goes a touch solemn at the thought of travel for less then favorable reasons, but evens out to a soft smile as he brushes the thought away. "Practicing archery, Your Grace, if the day is kind. But mostly, I like to read. Though not so much the frilly tales of knights and maidens, or poetry as some would like. I read of battles past, strategies, diplomacy. Good kings and bad," there's a wild blush that creeps to the lady's cheeks.

"Practicing archery is a good thing," Pawel replies, before he adds, "I've never been good at it myself. My younger sister, Carisse, on the other hand…" Nodding a bit as he hears the rest of what's being said, before he smiles a little. "And we all know there's been many both good and bad kings and queens, after all. As there's been both good and bad dukes and duchesses."

"It is quite relaxing, if you could be cowed to learn. It takes massive amounts of thought to place an arrow just where you want it." There is a bright smile that sits on Cassia's face. "And there has been, as you say, good and bad in every house. But there are things to be learned from failure even from another's wickedness. Balancing all of that is quite difficult, as I am sure you know, Your Grace," the blush to her cheeks lingers as she talks. "Though not a thing a lady should be reading about, I suppose. I don't much care for what others think about that. I am more useful to my father educated."

Pawel nods a little bit as he hears that, "Perhaps archery might help, I don't know." Another brief pause, before he lets out a quiet sigh now. "Some times it feels like it's impossible to balance it," he offers, before he grins as he hears the last part, and at the still lingering blush. "Don't worry, my lady. Your secret is safe with me." A brief chuckle, "At least for the moment, that is."

"It would, to that I promise. At the very least teach you patience," she grins. "Ah. It is, I've oft watched my father struggle with choices. Some were easier than others, sure. Again, it goes back to the heart. Not that heart isn't important, it is your drive and passion after all. So long as it doesn't lead your decisions entirely, it is a good thing to use." Cassia beams a smile. "I'm quite proud of my father, in that regard. Usually he's spot on in his choices." Cassia leans in and mock whispers to the Duke. "Good, because I cannot take anyone by surprise if they know all of my secrets," there is a chuckle at that and a wink.

Nodding a bit as he listens to the lady's words, Pawel looks a little thoughtful at the moment, before he nods a little bit now. "And, exactly how do you take people by surprise, my lady?" he asks, a bit lightly.

Cassia smiles sheepishly. "Oh, Your Grace, by opening my mouth and sense coming out of it." She tries to look serious about what she had said, but little cracks of a grin and a chuckle trying to escape breaks her facade.

Pawel smiles as he listens now. "Sounds a bit like my sister, so should I worry, Lady Cassia?" It's spoken a bit lightly as he looks around once more, then back to the lady now.

"If a lady speaking sense is something to worry about, then yes, Your Grace. Though I am less… special, and more forward. I am far from a wicked being, I assure you. Though even the toughest of ladies laugh sometimes," Cassia chuckles softly at that, "it is good to find somethings humorous in these times. Do you not agree?"

"Forgive me for my not quite good attempts at humor, Lady Cassia," Pawel replies, with a quiet smile, before he adds, "And it is good to find humor in things, yes. It can be quite difficult, though." A brief pause, before he adds, "Some times very hard."

"It can be, yes. After I lost my husband and brother I fell into such a melancholy mood. Partly because I felt it was my fault, and partly because I had barely known my husband and I had lost a best friend in my brother." Cassia quirks a small smile. "Even so, I found my way out of the gloom. Threw myself into my father's whims and did what I could for the house. I'm better now, I smile more often, and laugh more as well."

Pawel nods a little bit as he listens, letting out a bit of a breath now. "At least someone's managed to crawl out of the pit…" he offers a bit quietly, looking away at the moment. "I'm glad to hear that, after all."

Cassia goes to reach a hand out and thinks better of it, folding her hands in her lap. "I hope I didn't say anything to upset you, Your Grace. It was not my intent, truly," a look of concern sets on Cassia's delicate features. "It takes time. Time will heal all hurts, it is true."

Pawel lets out a bit of a sigh, before he shakes his head a little. "You did not, Lady Cassia. It's just some old memories." A brief pause, before he adds, "And I don't think time will heal all hurts. But hopefully they will dull some, at least." Another brief moment of silence as he looks back to the lady, offering her a smile.

Cassia nods solemnly. "No, I suppose not, you're right. Those wounds of mine could always threaten to open again, I suppose. So they aren't fully healed, but they are mended for the time being. I couldn't expect more than that, honestly." Cassia doesn't pry into the Dukes memories, she just leaves that bit of his life untouched, somethings one should just not pry into; instead, she smiles back. "Well. All I can say is that they will only dull if you let them. If you relive your memories daily in such a way, you will always be stuck in a gloom."

She looks away for a moment to the rainbows dancing on the wall, Cassia speaks quietly for a moment. "Instead of thinking it was my fault, that if my archers and I weren't overrun at that battle, we could have pushed back the lines instead of them being overrun… I remember how brave they were, how much good I did for them too. It helped, I suppose, to think of them in a brighter way. Instead of blaming myself. You know?" She looks back to Pawel, her cheeks a touch red.

"There was nothing I could do, for any of them…" Pawel lets out a sigh as he hears that, before he adds, "Nothing…" Letting out another brief sigh as he nods a little bit. "If I had the power to do anything for them, I could change the entire world, for the better."

"There was nothing I could do either, I could no sooner stop those men from breaking through the lines and sneaking up on us, than I could control the weather. That's for the Guardians to do, not I." Cassia nods to his last. "Aye, as would I. And to me, it is alright to feel that way. Loss is loss, no matter the reasons, it is messy, and it is painful. Nothing to help that." She smiles crookedly, almost reassuringly.

Pawel sighs, "And then, every time I think I'm starting to be able to deal with it, it happens again…" It's spoken a bit quietly, before he adds, "The Guardians must be the most cruel creatures they can be." Looking to the ground for a few moments now. "There are many days I wish they could just take me and be done with it."

"It will," Cassia assures, "it always will." Softly she adds. "The Guardians are not cruel, in truth. They give us troubles to make us stronger. They would never give you more than you can handle. It might feel like it is too much, but it is not. It takes time to come to terms with it. The real question, Your Grace, is what you will gain from your troubles? Will you let it defeat you, or will you grow and be the stronger for it?"

"What is the point?" Pawel says, as he looks around once more, shaking his head a little bit. "Any way I look at it, I lose, after all." A sigh now, as he glances around. "I'm not really sure."

"You have already lost, no?" Cassia leans forward a bit. "There is much to gain with life. I took mine when it was bleak and devoted it to home an hearth. The better I do, the better my family looks and I find joy in that. You have family, yes? You've mentioned a sister. She would be lost with out you, no doubt. Sometimes we can be a bit selfish in these times, and I think that is alright, for a little while." Cassia nods to herself. "No one thing can help you more than you, Your Grace."

One of the guards at the door clears his throat and Cassia looks up at him. "My lady had planned to meet with Her Highness," the gruff looking guard in Auldholme livery says. A blush rises to her cheeks as she sends a nod to the guard. "It would seem, I have forgotten the time. If you would permit me, Your Grace, I should probably meet with Her Highness." She gives Pawel an apologetic look, hands folded neatly in her lap.

"At least one or two persons close to me each year," Pawel replies with a grimace, before he nods a little bit, offering a bit of a smile at the last part. "Of course. Thank you for listening to the ramblings of a tired old mind," he replies, a bit quietly now.

"In these times, it would be a luck to not lose the people you love yearly. You are not the only one," Cassia smiles warmly. "Old man?" she turns up a brow "Why Your Grace, I believe I am older than you yet. I am not quite sure if I should take that as a compliment, or a disservice." Cassia chuckles lightly and rises. "Your ramblings are familiar to me, you were, and are still, in good company. There is life in you yet, I see it in your eyes." She curtsies low for the Duke out of respect. "Until another time or another life, perhaps, if I am not so fortunate to meet with you again before we leave."

Pawel nods a little bit, before he adds, "I hope we will speak again soon, my lady," he replies, studying the lady for a few moments, before offering her a bit of a smile.

"As do I, Your Grace," Cassia offers as she rises with a smile. "Good day." With that, and a swirl of her skirts, Cassia spins out of the room with guards in tow. Her father's guards giving her a few ribald japes before the lady in Auldholme colors snaps a command at them, silence follows their footsteps from there until no more could be heard.

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