A very awkward reunion...
A very awkward reunion…
Location: Deirdre's Suite in the palace
Date: July 11th, 14 (OOC Year 2017)
Summary: Veronica goes to the palace to let her great-grandmother know she is back in Amber and "meets" her great-uncle Iolion there with his mother.
Characters: Deirdre, Iolion, and Veronica
NPCs: Servants (palace and Deirdre's)

It's sunset in Castle Amber; the sun is about to dip beneath the horizon, and the waning gibbous moon visible through the windows will soon be glowing like the nighttime sun. Within Princess Deirdre's suite there's a minor bustle of activity as there always is, with a small number of deeply trusted ladies-in-waiting taking care of routine business in the outside chamber while in the inner one a more private, more intimate, thing is taking place.

Chess… Deirdre's style… where each claimed piece is accompanied by the loser taking shots of pure grain alcohol: one for a pawn, three for a knight, six for a queen, following traditional chess point-scoring rules. Deirdre's form of chess is one where you play to win, but once that becomes impossible, losing can be a hell of a lot of fun, too.

Her opponent tonight is Iolion (four shots in to her two). "… whereupon I said, sure, but we're already assuming you're a Moonrider with three livers, so clearly this isn't the weirdest thing I've done today." It's the punchline to a bit of mild humor, and he moves a knight aggressively to try and improve his position in the hopes of compelling his mother to drink herself blotto in the near future.

The only piece Deirdre never loses is her Queen. But her bright laughter fills the suite and Iolion's quip. "I hope you removed at least two of them," she advises him after wiping the tears from the corners of her blue eyes. "Helpfully." She loses a pawn to him and throws back a shot gamely. "You're getting much better at this, son. Practicing alone?"

Having spent the night sleeping in her own bed for the first time in seven years, Veronica Chantris spent the day working with the Chantris butler, Alfred Butler, finding furniture for her room which was put in storage during her long absence.

After an early dinner she decided to strike out of the family home to go to the home of her less closely related family… the palace of Amber… and look in on her great-grandmother. A flash of her great-aunt Flora's ring gets her past the guards who don't recognize her without an inspection for weapons and she is easily able to elicit a palace servant to show her though the halls to Deirdre's suite as she has forgotten her way about the building.

She doesn't knock, nor does she ask the serant to announce her. Instead, after dismissing the servant, Veronica opens the door and steps in. Not looking at who else is there, her eyes have naturally gone in the direction of her hostess and she says, "I'd like to apologize for my long absence, Your Highness," and then sees who is there. She sees Iolion. Blinks for a moment as recognition dawns upon her and then she simly says, "You…?" without voicing the rest of the question.

<Editor's Note:> The dismissed servant was the one Vernoica had leading her to the suite. She walked in past Dee's attendants, likely because one of them recognized her from visits nearly a decade ago.

For a moment Iolion studies the chessboard and is lost to the goings-on around him — or perhaps he simply feels that as a royal, he's under no obligation to rise when a servant enters the room — or perhaps he's just a little buzzed. But when he hears the 'You…?', his head comes up in a way evoking a faithful hound who's heard a noise he learned in his puppyhood to associate with squirrels: there is a squirrel somewhere, he's sure of it, even if the sound hasn't been heard in years.

And then he's clamoring to his feet in a method that — probably much to his mother's surprise — shows some faint evidence of military training at some point in his past. (Strange: he never told her about that.) He abruptly straightens his jacket, adjusts his gigline, checks the arms of his jacket to ensure the cuffs of his shirt jut out the proper half-an-inch beneath the leather. It takes only two or three seconds, testament to a chapter in his life he doesn't talk about, and is in its own way very telling. Someone's arrival is unexpected enough to lead square to this reaction.

And then he's smiling at Veronica, giving her a proper half-bow. Then, to Deirdre, "It appears the moment has the better of me, Mother. Would you do me the honor of introducing me to—" He looks back over towards Veronica, a thin and crooked good-natured smile crossing his face. Rather than finish his sentence, he breaks into verse:

"If light were dark and dark were light
"The moon a black hole in the blaze of night
"A raven's wing as bright as tin
"Then you, my dear, would be darker than sin."1

Deirdre looks up from the chess table and her bright blue eyes fall upon Veronica. "An apology is never necessary, but always appreciated," the Princess replies, an easy smile forming on her lips at her son's poetic conduct. "Do you want me to introduce you, Iolion, or would you rather recite poetry at her until she tosses you out the window?"

Veronica laughs at the suggestion and then gives her great-grandmother a grin before she says, "Oh, there's no need for that, Your Highness. He's just still curious how well he knows me since he was blindfolded that night in the Souk after all." She then winks at Iolion and says, "I didn't know we were related, 'al-Farik'…" and then she coyly asks, "Did you?"

<Editor's Note:> A quick OOC discussion/negotiation (via page) between Deirdre and Veronica occurred at this point. It was decided that in a past interaction, seven years ago when she was last in Amber, Veronica shared a story about meeting a man she referred to as Faris al-Farik at the wedding of her childhood friend Rebekah in Montevalno. They spent about a week together in her home Shadow and a shadow he took her to called The Souk (a post apocalyptic desert with an Arabian/Alhambran feel). The night they spent in The Souk there was an orgy they both participated in; she blindfolded him during this but wasn't directly his partner during this (a fact that Veronica's player decided at this moment OOCly). At no point did Veronica think to give the man's real name (Iolion) but now Roni has used the other name in reference to Dee's son in her presence.

When one learns one is standing on thin ice, sometimes one's only choice is to start tap dancing. Never let 'em see you sweat: better to fall through the ice and die than appear like you're not in control of your destiny. And so Iolion spends the few seconds he has — seconds while Veronica is crossing over and chatting with Deirdre — thinking madly, furiously.

One. Veronica was surprised to discover Iolion was Deirdre's son.

Two. Veronica's using phrases like 'blindfolded that night in the Souk' without explaining things like what the Souk is. She's already had conversations like this with Deirdre before.

Three. Odds are good Deirdre has already heard the … ahem … details.

Four. Deirdre didn't tell either Iolion or Veronica a blessed thing.

Five. Mom plays a really, truly, epically, annoying kind of Amberite social chess. She's already known, and didn't let either Veronica or Iolion know she knew.

Tick, tick, tick: that analytical mind pores over fragmentary facts, uses them to assemble a coherent narrative, and now he's able to spot a slightly stronger patch of ice to make his stand upon.

"I did, in fact," he answers Veronica, "on my father's side. *This* side is…" He looks over towards Deirdre, giving a very slight smile. "Unexpected."

Deirdre's brows lift. "Ah. Dear. This is very awkward. Had I known that al-Farik was Iolion, I would most certainly have intervened." This is said, it seems, more to reassure her son than anything else. "I hope this does not affect too greatly, your future familial relations with each other."

Veronica, still standing, shakes her head. "I don't believe it will, Your Highness," she says still maintaining formality as a curtesy. "As you recall, there is little to intervene on. A few kisses and the naked form isn't something I'm concerned about. Its not like we're closely related after all…" she then looks at Iolion and asks, "Right?" as she does not know where in the branches of the Chantris family tree he stands. The lust she's seen in his eyes isn't spoken of, Dee's comment fairly well covers that she feels.

Oh, the chess moves! The feints, the parrys, the gambits! The /lies/! It's … positively enthralling, especially the way that mind of his ticks.

One. Deirdre's only source of information on this is Veronica.

Two. Veronica may not have told her great-grandmother quite … *everything*.

Three. He was there and he knows the truth. There were four women that night; each has a different touch, a different way of being, a different way of embracing.

Four. Neither Deirdre nor Veronica know that…

"I spent the next year seeking the other three out and learning them, Veronica," Iolion answers his grandniece, his tone completely pleasant. "I'm … well aware of with whom I was tangled up with that night. Very distinctive, she was."

Five. And now for the mic drop.

He looks over towards Deirdre, smiling broadly. "Apparently, Mother, I'm the only one in the room who can tell you if Veronica was lying about our liaison. And I, of course, am far too much of a gentleman to ever kiss and tell." He pours out a shot of grain alcohol, then hands it to Deirdre with a pleasant smile. "I believe I finally managed to get on the social-chess scoreborard?"

Deirdre looks between the two of them and then takes the shot. "I'd rather not know, Iolion. I know," she levels her blue eyes on both of them, "the whispers that go around about Corwin and I, but let me be clear. I do *not* endorse intimate relations between family. And you two are close enough that I might take exception." She gives the verdict firmly. "So if you're going to do it? Keep it out of my eyes. Please."

Veronica nods without hesitation. "Of coruse, Your Highness," she says as she gives Iolion a look that shows she grants him a score and promises that scores being started scorings will continue. Then, as the air in the room shifts she tilts her head as if hearing something no others present hear. She says, "As much as I want to stay and visit, it seems like one of my relatives may have information for me regarding an inquiry I submitted earlier today." She gives her great-uncle a smile and then asks Deirdre, "May I have your permission to depart, Your Highness?"

"I don't think anyone's talking about …" Iolion cocks his head to the side, trying to twist the grammar of Thari to preserve the strategic ambiguity he's cultivated; then, realizing the only way forward is with a sentence so contorted it ought be executed, he abandons it. "Whatever happened, happened years ago," he starts anew, "and it was not something which inspired us to continue, much less deepen, our association. I can honestly say, Mother, that what you fear is not high on my list of things to do; and I imagine I speak for her in this as well." Veronica receives a pleasant smile in return.

"You may, of course, my dear," Deirdre replies to Veronica with a pleasant smile. "Be well, and come to visit me again when you have more time?" She turns to her son after bidding goodbye to her great granddaughter. "I'm glad to hear it, Iolion. I know it is something you are particularly concerned about, especially with Bea. Shall we play on?"

Veronica curtsies but, before departing says, "I too should let you know that while I find Iolion a dear companion from the past and someone I would like to spend time with, I don't see a romance in our future." Then, with the natural drama that one might expect of a Mon, she steps back and turns to leave the suite.

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