A palace-top picnic...
A palace-top picnic…
Location: The Tower Observatory of the Royal Palace of Amber
Date: September 3rd, 14 (OOC Year 2017)
Summary: Iolion brings Veronica to the palace for a "rooftop" picnic. They discuss many things, including bloodlines, relationships and plans to go to Montevalno to look for a map.
Characters: Iolion and Veronica
NPCs: none

Veronica is in her suite in Chantris Manor in Amber when she feels a gentle pressure in her mind because someone is trying to reach her via her Trump. She accepts the Trump contact and is not surprised to find it is Iolion…

The image of Iolion stands somewhere… blue. Yes, blue is the best descriptor for it: he's silhouetted against a sky, with the skyline so far beneath the field of view it doesn't even factor in. Just… blue. "Ah, Veronica!" he calls as the connection's accepted. "Just the thing. I seem to find myself in possession of a blanket, a bottle of Bayle's red, a good hunk of dried meat, some fine Feldane cheese, and all for nought if you're not with me. Voulez-vouz diner avec moi?"

Editor's Note: The French that Iolion stated means "Want to dine with me?"

To the image of Iolion, Veronica, wearing an outfit he hadn't seen before, smiles and nods. "Of course, let me grab something first though," she says as she stands and walks from her sitting room into her bedroom and picks up a fedora Iolion will recognize easily as the one he gave her and, after placing it upon her head, says, "Alright, I'm ready."

The image of Iolion offers Veronica his hand and she accepts it…

He draws her through the rainbow gate, steadies her as she almost falls. The ground here is sharply angled at about a forty-five degree, and the slate staves are… wait, slate staves?

Only a moment later does it become clear where he's spread his blanket: on the highest roof of Castle Amber. How he got here is anyone's guess. "I thought it might be nice to have a birds-eye view of the world. I doubt anyone's been up here in years: there's no easy way up. Don't fall, but if you must, fall that way: go off that side and you'll drop two stories onto the observatory balcony."

Veronica takes in the views and laughs at his comments. "If I were to lose my balance over a view my instructors would have some harsh words for me, Iolion," she says. She taps the brim of her hat and says, "I don't believe I thanked you for the gift," and pauses to turn in place so as to show off her outfit before continuing by saying, "But I had to prepare an outfit to go with it after all," and then giving an expectant expression as she awaits commentary.

"Not being a student of fashion, I will say only that the outfit appears vaguely Begman to my… impaired eyes. But I love the boots, and the hat is the sort of provocation the vast majority of men, and a significant number of women, should not be subjected to. Excepting me, of course, darling: please, subject me harder."

He leans in then, his hands at her waist, drawing her in against him for a kiss that's as tasteful as it is unchaste. There are kisses between friends and kisses between lovers, and this one is squarely on one side: that said, it's a kiss with limits of good taste, because even if they are totally alone up here it'd still be poor form to transgress them.

Veronica has no problem allowing the kiss to linger longer than might be considered appropriate in public - - they are, after all, far from prying eyes - - and when it ends she smiles into his eyes and says, "Impaired? Not at all. The outfit is intentionally evocative of Begman styles," and then she flourishes the skirts a bit and adds, "With Mon sensibilities naturally," with a wink.

She then steps back and turns away from him briefly to look out over the vista again and asks, "Is this, like it seems, literally the top of the palace, Iolion?"

"It is," he answers as he sits down on the blanket. "The observatory is immediately below us. I spend a lot of time out on the balcony. It's large enough for astronomical equipment, which means it's a little small for a stage. But at night I mark the balcony with chalk and do the actor's trade: watching marks, practicing walks and saunters, sashays and slinks, delivering speeches, all that, far from where I'll bother anyone's sleep, and where I can feel the moon on my face. For all the problems I have with Mom, I can't deny I'm of her blood. I adore few things so much as feeling the night in my veins."

"You're practicing to be an actor, Iolion?" she asks as she joins him on the blanket and looks over the small feast he has gathered. She idly turns the wine bottle to read its vintage and says, "Bayles aren't bad, but… I still have a preference for Fiorran red." Veronica looks up at Iolion as she asks, "Have I had you try any?" remembering he even had Amberite wine at Rebekah's wedding all those years ago.

"Not practicing to be an actor. I am an actor; I practice here. Well, on the balcony." He reaches in his satchel for the bottle of wine, uncorking it and taking a swig straight from the bottle like a barbarian before handing it over to her. "I've had a number of wines from across Shadow, yes, but I always return to Bayle's. It's my favorite. I was a soldier for a while in Caercarn - - a Shadow you've never heard of. I was a captain of infantry and did well at it, but… after hearing my grandfather whisper in my ear one time too many, I put away my sword and became a bookbinder. Along the way I became a librarian, and acting followed from my filthy habit of reading books in addition to shelving and binding them."

A frown crosses Veronica's face at the mention of his grandfather and she asks, "You mean Oberon, right?" She follows this up with a drink from the bottle herself and then asks, "You get messages from King Oberon? Is it anything like the Chantris magic I know and use?" as she cuts pieces of cheese and meat to build sandwiches on the bread that was among Iolion's preparations for each of them.

"No, it's… nothing like that. I don't even think it's really him, to be truthful." He reaches for the hunk of cheese, breaking off a chunk the size of a thumb and taking a bite of it, then hands the cheese to Veronica to see if she wants any. "Oberon was, maybe is - - who knows if he's still alive? - - a bad man, dangerous to know. I'm certain he was a murderer, think it's likely he was a rapist. An utter sociopath bereft of anything that could even be laughingly called a conscience - - and at the same time, no finer defender of Amber ever lived. He was… confusing. Complicated."

He's silent for a few more moments. "All of us who have his blood in our veins… he hangs over us like a dark ghost. We all feel parts of ourselves, parts we don't talk about at parties. Parts that understand the world in a very different way from the way we'd like to… we'd like to have people think. It's the voice of brutal expediency, of barbarously effective solutions to things that aren't even problems. It understands things in a way that…"

He looks over towards her, a wry smile on his lips. "You see? I don't want to own this part of me. So I call it Oberon's blood, so I can pretend it's not me. But it is. And the men I've killed… do you remember the morning after our first meeting? I took one wounded, helpless man and dropped him off a balcony, headfirst, just because I was tired of dealing with him. I murdered him, and I'm just fine with that. I'm not a sociopath, I know this: I'm capable of feeling things, of feeling them deeply. But I'm also my grandfather's grandson. And I decided I'd rather be a bookbinder than a soldier, if I was going to be carrying Oberon's legacy."

Veronica finishes making the sandwiches and puts one where Iolion can easily pick it up and then takes the offered cheese which she obviously enjoys while listening as he speaks on his grandfather and related subjects. She leans forward expectantly when he refers to Oberon's Blood but she refrains from interrupting. She shakes her head at the mention of the balcony event at their first meeting but then nods as she remembers the event and sees how the blur of the first few days of their friendship could lead to the misunderstanding. When he says he is not a sociopath she nods in agreement and leans over to lay her hand on his in support. "Bookbinding is a long held tradition among Chantrises, Iolion, so you are answering the call of other blood," she says, knowing that she isn't saying anything that he doesn't already know. "Oberon's blood… that's what is required to walk the Pattern, or so I've heard, right?" she asks bringing up a subject that has been on her mind the past few days.

"It was relaxing!" he protests. "Really. Long hours alone, there's nobody bothering you, it's just you and the codex you're assembling. Threads, glue, pasteboards, fabric - - it was a lot like taking religious orders, the silence, the manual labor, the quiet. And I liked it. In that world, I never needed to reason with the Beast, with that… with that part of me. I loved it."

He accepts the offered sandwich with a smile and a brief, affectionate touch to her thigh. "Regarding the Pattern… I don't know what's required, really. I don't think anyone does, not even Aunt Fiona. What we know is Oberon walked it, and his kids walked it, and so has some of his grandchildren; but… not all. To not have Oberon's blood in your veins seems to spell certain death; and the most reliable way to tell if he's in your veins is to see whether your life has been spent reasoning with, placating, avoiding, embracing, the beast."

"Lately I've been curious if I have la famille je ne sais quoi. What you're talling me though… the Pattern doesn't sound like the best way to discover if you have it or not because you either do or you're dead." After a brief pause, during which Veronica picks up the sandwich she made for herself, she asks, "Any chance you can arrange for me to see it sometime… and I'd like to discuss this question with Princess Fiona or someone else perhaps at some time."

"Free hint - - talk to Aunt Vi instead. Don't forget that she's Rebman, and they have their own Pattern. Plus, she's a powerful sorceress in her own right. I don't know if she's in Aunt Fi's league, but… she much prefers it if people completely overlook her familiarity with Rebman mirror magic. And that, to me, is a strong hint she's a serious player there. Aunt Vi knows Pattern, I'll stake my life on it. Approach her instead, first. She likes you, after all."

Veronica nods and says, "Alright, I'll do that." She then begins eating the sandwich she made by taking a bite of it. With a nod and a raised eyebrow she asks him how he likes the sandwich she made for him.

"I'm on a rooftop with clear skies, a light breeze, and you," he points out, not in the least unkindly. "Although it's a fine sandwich, it ranks pretty low in the list of fine things I'm grateful for." He offers another smile then, a flash of humor in the corners of his eyes, as he takes another bite. "My cousin Giselle, too. She's… the reigning authority on the Blood of Oberon. She's been trying to convince me to help her in her research into it by letting the beast out for a few days. I've told her yes, but I want to spend it in a dungeon in some far-off Shadow. I don't want to risk being that way around… well… you."

Veronica swallows her sandwich bite and then nods. She seems concerned but not nervous as she asks, "What are her qualifications to study you, Iolion, and… well, you'll tell me before you leave for this experiment won't you?" She doesn't sound like she's trying to be controlling, just… mildly worried for him. She also asks, "Can I meet your… our cousin before you go off with her?"

"She's doing her research under Fiona's supervision, so I think that should both attest to her competency to do this and the risk of disaster if something goes wrong. If Aunt Fi is involved, that means the risks are enough to warrant her getting involved." He gives a faintly grim look. "It's an important project, but one that's… probably best left to the Pattern walkers. And if you wish, yes; she's Brand's daughter, and looks it - - long flowing red hair. She can often be found right outside the palace gates. About the rest… I can't promise it will be a face to face farewell. But I promise to let you know, and when to expect me back."

Veronica responds with a brilliant smile. "I don't ask for more than that, Iolion," she says. "It's not like you're my possession after all," she adds with a laugh before taking another bite of her sandwich.

"Not in the first week of a relationship, at least, although hey, if the collar fits." He delivers it with the sort of casual frankness which makes it difficult to determine if he's being bluntly serious or drolly deadpan. "Although that does raise an issue we ought talk about. You're, ah… familiar with Oberon's reputation with respect to fidelity, yes? And my own mother's? To say nothing of my own conception in an act of infidelity? It's… an elephant in the room we ought talk about sometime. Because even if we don't discuss it, it's still going to be there needing to be discussed."

Veronica laughs at the (presumed) joke about the collar and then nods regarding the discussion. "I understand that your grandfather's sense of fidelity was legendarily… I don't know… lacking might be the best word. As for your mother's and your own… no, I don't know those really," she says and then further explains, "Despite being tied to the Sun Court I don't really keep up with gossip, Iolion." She sighs and then laughs at herself. "Now's as good a time as any though if you wish to discuss it, darling," she finishes.

"Mom has the sexual mores of a cat in heat," he says bluntly. "That's who she is, that's how she's wired, and there's no force that can change it. I wrecked my sister's mind once when she mused on how many men she must have wrecked over a thousand years, and I pointed out that I thought she was being optimistic by limiting it to men. Beatriz shuddered and admitted the possibility of women. I pointed out she was being optimistic by limiting it to *humans*. There's all manner of things off in Shadow that are not quite human but have appeal nevertheless. And Gallenus Chantris was the apple of Flora's eye. So Mom decided to steal him away from her, just because he was off-limits."

He reaches for the bottle of wine and takes a long, almost mournful glug off it. "She's protested to me she doesn't know why Corwin is obsessed with her. I doubt that very much. I can't imagine holding a torch for a woman for a thousand years if she'd never reciprocated interest at any point. And from the way she never talks about Eric, well. I have suspicions. I come from… /we/ are of… a terrible, depraved, sordid line, Veronica. And whenever any of them has ever pledged faithfulness, they've always had their fingers crossed behind their back. I'd fain not we do that to each other. I'd hope we could learn from the errors of our betters."

"You may have roots in that line but it does not define you, Iolion," Veronica says bluntly in response to the latter's observation about their shared royal ancestry. She then takes a deep breath and asks, "What are your personal thoughts on your mother's sexuality?" making sure to keep her tone neutral and non-judgmental herself.

"I think she's got a headful of bad wiring from her father, because the things she does are so disruptive to her own goals, her own agendas, that I don't know how to describe it besides madness. Oberon's sins, visited on his daughter. I don't begrudge her tastes in partners, or even the plurality of them. I begrudge the way she turns every relationship into a smoldering wreck. Half the time if you ask her about the fellow she was torrid and tawdry for just two years ago, she'll have to think about it for a long time and say, 'Oh, yeah, I suppose I used to get tangled with him. What's his name again?' It isn't her orientation or prolificness that bothers me, Veronica. It's the madness of it. I more than half think that's why she left me to be raised in a sedate Shadow by some lovely staff. I think she understood, on some level, the wreckage she was leaving didn't mesh well with raising a child. And I have no doubt that if I were to ask her about Gallenus today, she'd blink at me and say, 'but I only knew him for perhaps a month, and that was sixty years ago.'"

"I have to admit that makes her sound both an intelligent and loving mother as well as an object of pity," Veronica says, pausing to give him a plainly serious look as she adds, "Not that I would tell her that nor, I ask, that you repeat that to her." She then smiles again and says, "So… you know I am bisexual " referring to that night in The Souk during which he was not blind folded the /entire/ time " and I assume you accept that, but I hope it does not surprise you that I am polyamorous as well. But that does /not/ mean cheating. It means that if we are in a relationship… and I believe we are so if we are not please dismiss that notion on my part at your soonest opportunity please… you will know of my other affairs of the heart at least in notion if you would rather not meet them in person as such. I hope that is acceptable as, if it is not, it may require me to redefine our relationship in a way that would greatly displease me, darling."

He looks over towards her, lifting a hand as if to say he wasn't quite done. He doesn't interrupt her - - that would be rude. Instead he just listens attentively, and resumes talking once she finishes. "I don't want to be like her," he says. "I don't. I want to be not like her. I want to hug Beatriz and have it be simple, uncomplicated, brotherly, not Corwinly. I want… I want a life I'll probably never get to lead, what with the beast in my blood. And the only way I'm going to get anything close to that is to be brutally honest with myself, with you, with us. I've got more than a measure of Oberon in my veins. And I don't think I can in honor give any pledges of exclusivity, pledges that I know based on my family history I shouldn't be trusted to keep. It's not about you and your wiring, Veronica. This is me, owning mine. Okay?"

He devours the last of his sandwich in about three large bites, three heavy swallows, washing it down with three mighty gulps of wine. "With respect to your orientation, not only did I know of it, but I asked you while you were forging a blade if you wished me to pretend I did not, or provide any sort of social cover for you. Not only did I - - do I - - know, but I think you'll remember that from the earliest I've tried to respect you, and not to reduce your identity down to that smallest aspect of you."

Veronica smiles and briefly says, "That is true." Then, with a gesture, she expresses her apologizes for having interrupted him and with an expression of understanding and acceptance of his 'wiring' as he put it. Yes, they were a highly communicative expression and gesture but with both of their innate Chantris linguistic abilities such communication can - - at times - - occur. She 'surrenders the floor' to him and listens.

He takes a long breath and marshals his thoughts, then remembers wine always helps in these discussions and takes another massive pull off the bottle, almost emptying it. He hands it back to her, presumably to give her the bottle-killing privileges. "I don't know if you're driven by the beast, or if there's some other twist in your makeup to make you as you are," he says quietly. "I don't much care, either. I care that you come home to me. And if you're in some far-off library in Shadow and see a sexy librarian in the stacks, I hope you'll forget all about me for the next hour. And when you come back, I hope you'll forget all about whoever it was. And if you find that you can't, I hope you'll let me know who they are. That's what I want. I hope you find it… compatible with your own desires."

She nods, agreeing that it does. "I don't hold you to any more than that either," she says with a smile, "As long as we are honest with each other… no secret love affairs or the like " a staple of Montevalnan romances both literary and literally " we'll be fine."

"So I guess this is a good time to tell you about what pushed me over the edge from 'I'm thinking about it' to 'fuckit, let's do it, I'm in,'" he observes. "I was with this… really quite lovely, quite refined, quite passionate redhead who was quite into me. And having received a quite enticing offer for some quite taboo things and being quite tempted, I was quite surprised to find my thoughts quite focused on you. Quite the thing to explain, if I said yes. And I realized that if we weren't even dating and the thought of you was distracting me from what was right in front of me… then I needed to say no, go off, find you, and tell you that somewhere along the line when I wasn't looking I somehow made up my mind."

"Oh, Iolion," Veronica says and continues in a tone of voice that is somehow a combination of friendly ribbing and loving appreciation with, "You gave up on a lovely frolic over thoughts of me?" She smiles showing her appreciation of this but the subtext of her comment state that she would not have been offended. She makes this clearer by saying, "Please don't feel guilty if you act on such desires in the future." She lays her hand on his and squeezes it gently as she says this.

"I did, and it was the right thing to do," he answers as he turns his hand over, so his palm is against hers, fingers interlacing. "I'm happy to have made that choice. It made a great many other very important things clear."

Having finished their sandwiches as they conversed, the couple sit together holding hands and sharing drinks from the bottle. After a bit, Veronica says, "I sent word to Rebekah about the item I'm looking for and she sent me a reply stating that she believes her husband has a map that may help me. She also sent me a key to get into their home… he's a stickler for guest honor so if I can get into the home he won't kick me out." She then asks, "Care to accompany me when it comes time?"

"Of course," he answers immediately. Not loudly, really, not like he's boasting or staking a claim: it's more the understated 'of course' people use when discussing something which is plainly and obviously true. Does he want to be with her? Of course. "When?"

"I'm not under any obligation time wise from Rebekah," Veronica states. "So… I'm not sure if I want to go before or after the Sun Court event." She then grins at him and says, "I'll be in swim wear, I assume wild buffalo couldn't keep you away, right?"

"That depends on exactly how many lovelies show up, but in general, yes, you may rely on it. This is, incidentally, the secret to why so many men prefer trousers cut off at the knee as beach attire: because if we wore less, it would be plainly obvious who was attracting our attention versus who was compelling us to stand at attention."

Veronica laughs at the image Iolion's words conjure in her mind. They continue to sit together until the sun sets and then, using a light she magically conjures, collects their leavings and the blanket before leaving the top of the tower. After walking through the palace they walk together through the streets of Amber and, with a passionate kiss, they part company at the door to Chantris manor.

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