A/N: Hi guys, long time, no post, I know!! What can I say? Real life intervened, and the muses went on hiatus (much thanks to Sirius for use of the border-collies for fetching said muses back). I transferred to my full-time university this summer (as opposed to the online university I had been attending) and while I'm going to try to update on a more regular basis, please be patient with me. 3 classes this summer, and 5 this fall...it is going to be interesting!
Dedication: To all you Fastion fans out there. Who else wants a nummy piece of Weapon?
Sorrow filled her soul, a melancholy set deep within her as heavy as the stone around her. She wished these rocks were like the D'yer Wall, a simple touch to her brooch and she could be absorbed into them.
The festivities whirled around her, a colorful macabre mockery to her pain. She played the puppet, pulling her own strings of civility and pleasantries.
In the center, the source of her misery stood, unaware. The King looked the perfect groom-to-be, smiling, nodding, and every so often kissing Estora's hand...
Karigan's hand slapped against the stone wall and she clenched her jaw. She had tried to take her eyes off of him and failed, cursing her weakness. If you had spoken to me once more...if you had said you loved me...if I had more courage... She thought.
A hand on her elbow startled her, and she reached for the sword that was not there.
"You are unusually distracted Swordmaster," Fastion slid from the shadows, a soft smile on his face.
"I don't do well at parties," Karigan said, by way of explanation.
"Not at parties, or ones celebrating the coming marriage of our King?"
Karigan stared at her friend, sparring partner, and fellow Swordmaster. His intuition should not surprise her, yet it caught her unaware. She frowned, hugging herself. She looked up in surprise when Fastion tugged her hands away from her body.
"There is no reason to be ashamed," he said softly.
The Green Rider stared up at him, feeling strangely self conscious. "Why do you say that?"
"Love was never meant to be defined by the classes, Karigan, and has no constraints other than the ones we place upon it... and ourselves. For honor, or our own morality. We are only limited by what we think we cannot do. I have seen you struggle with an intricate parry pattern and prove successful. You have ridden with Lil Ambriothe, slain an Eletian and have met the Bird-Man's mount. For a 'common' merchant girl from Corsa, you have done many wonderful things. You have no reason to be ashamed of loving the King."
Karigan felt tears come to her eyes at his softly spoken words. She pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve, thankful for at least one 'trapping' of being a peer of the realm, even though it meant she couldn't hide behind her uniform. "I have only been limiting myself is what you are saying."
The Weapon smiled, tucking her hand in the curve of his arm. "Yes, and the fact that you are not now opening yourself to other possibilities," he said, staring into her eyes as he led her from the shadows of the wall.
"What are you doing?" Karigan asked, as she noticed that the Weapon was walking amongst people, instead of his usual dodge-and-evade pattern.
Fastion smiled. "I don't work all the time," he said by way of explanation, motioning to his clothing.
Karigan chuckled, noticing for the first time that though he was clad in black, it was not the Black Shields Uniform, instead being a delicately embroidered velvet doublet and tunic with black leather pants tucked into his impeccable riding boots.
"And neither, Rider, do you," he said with a cheeky wink.
Karigan colored. She wasn't accustomed to the trappings of being a Knight of the Realm, and the gowns it involved. Smoothing the green silken fabric beneath her fingers she grinned at Fastion. "At least we stick to our colors."
The Weapon laughed, causing the surrounding revelers to stare.
"Shhh Fastion, you'll start a sensation, a Weapon laughing, it's just not done!" Karigan mock-gasped, channeling her Aunt Brini.
"Dance with me?" Fastion said, smiling down at her, already turning her into position.
"You dance?" Karigan asked as the musicians started a slower tune.
"I told you, Kari, you need to open yourself to new possibilities," the Weapon leaned down, whispering in her ear.
Karigan felt goose flesh break out across her skin where his breath had caressed her. Possibilities...she thought as she was swept away into the dance.
It wasn't until later, after her dance slippers had been thoroughly broken in, that Karigan realized that with the appearance of Fastion, she hadn't thought once of the King. Pulling said slippers from her aching feet, Karigan sobered. She was not meant for love. It was an impossible dream.
Breakfast was usually a spotty affair for the Green Rider, Karigan only usually made the breakfast hour on the mornings when she didn't have somewhere to be. Yet, this morning in the mess hall had proved entertaining. She had observed a good amount of Riders that had taken part in the festivities of the previous night enter. Some Riders had born up well under the strain of alcohol and food, others had not done so well.
"You had an interesting night," Garth commented, settling his bulk and plate next to her.
"What makes you say that?" Karigan asked, swallowing her porridge.
Garth inclined his head, making him look like an oversize house cat. "Dancing Weapons?" He questioned with a well meant smirk.
Karigan colored. "It was just Fastion," she grumbled, taking a swig of her warmed cider.
"Just Fastion?" Garth teased. "The Weapon that never used to crack any sort of expression? The one that you used to refer to as 'granite-face', who was escorting you through the night with a plethora of emotions dancing, just like his feet- I might add, across his face?"
Karigan eyed her fellow Green Rider. "You've been working on that sentence all night, haven't you?"
Garth beamed. "I thought it was a good one."
"Uh-huh," Karigan grabbed her plate and stood, "listen, Garth, it was just Fastion. He's my friend."
"Okay, okay," he said in a tone that stated he didn't believe a word of it, "you might want to tell Alton that."
"Alton?" Karigan asked, her brow furrowing. The Lord D'yer had returned from the wall six months ago, and in that time they had been able tentatively repair their friendship.
The Green Rider nodded, hiding a mischievous smile behind his toast. "I don't think he thought you were just being 'friendly'," he nodded in the direction of said Lord, who was striding toward their table with a determined look on his face.
"Hells," Karigan cursed.
Alton stood before the table, his arms crossed. Karigan had to stifle a laugh for his expression closely resembled a mother hen she used to watch back home in Corsa. The mental image of Alton clucking almost undid her composure.
"Alton," she finally took a swig of her cider, hiding her choke of laughter.
"What was that last night?" Alton demanded.
Garth shot Karigan a glance, before shoveling in his breakfast, his eyes never leaving either Rider. This was better than watching a shuttlecock match. Though instead of a ridiculous plumed ball, these opponents were going to lob words.
"I was attending the King's ball last night, what did you see that so startled you, m'lord?" Karigan fluttered her eyelashes in mockery.
Alton narrowed his eyes. "I saw you, making a fool of yourself with that Weapon."
The merchant girl from Corsa took offense to her friend being referred to as 'that'. "Fastion is a friend, Alton."
"So am I, but I have never seemed to been able to command your attention so completely," Alton snapped, and looked surprised at himself for doing so.
I cannot kill a fellow Rider. I cannot kill a fellow Rider. I cannot kill a fellow Rider. Karigan began to repeat to herself in her head. After repeating the phrase in her head several more times, she took a breath and fixed Alton with a steady glare. "One last time, Alton. Fastion. Is. My. Friend. He saw how uncomfortable I was at the party and took pity on me."
"Pity? He monopolized you, showed you off as if you were his."
Karigan ground her teeth. "He was being kind." She muttered, standing to come round the table to return her bowl to the hall staff.
"Kind?" Alton laughed. She paused, turning towards him, an inscrutable look on her face.
He didn't know what had come over him. His jealousy of seeing her with Fastion last night had brewed into something caustic this morning. He couldn't stand the thought of Karigan with the Black Shield. "Will Fastion think it kind that you are using him to get closer to the King? Do you think he'll mind when you begin bearing our noble monarch's bastards?"
Alton took a step back as Karigan surged toward him. She stopped, inches in front his face. Her hand hung, shaking in mid-air, the strike of her palm against his cheek undelivered. The Lord D'yer felt his face color, and he instantly regretted his harsh words.
"Kari," he began.
"Don't," Karigan hissed, letting her hand fall and strode out of the mess hall, dumping her bowl on an empty table on her way out.
Alton sat down at the table, his head in his hands. "I'm an idiot, Garth."
"Couldn't agree more with yah, Alton," Garth agreed. He had never seen either Rider so worked up.
The Rider D'yer glanced up through his fingers. "No words of encouragement?"
Garth drank the last of his cider, standing. "No, not really, just something for you to ponder. Alton, have you ever seen Karigan, or merely who you believed her to be? Because if you want to be a part of her life, your view has to change. A lot happened while you were away, and though I'm glad that you and Kari made up, you can't expect her to be the same person as when you left."
The frustrated Rider nodded and Garth took his leave. Alton felt chills break out across his skin, and he turned around.
Staring daggers into his back was a table full of breakfasting Black Shields.
"Oh hells," Alton cursed, scrambling to get out of the mess hall.
"I heard what he said to her. In all honesty, she has better control over her temper than I do over mine... for if he'd said that to me, he would not now be standing. In fact, I'm not entirely certain that he would be breathing. It takes tremendous strength of will to simply walk away... and I don't have it. Thankfully for Lord D'yer, Rider Sir G'ladheon does," Brienne Quinn murmured conspiratorially to a shadow as Weapons congregated for their monthly meeting. She represented the Tomb Guards, but she knew that the subject matter she was relaying was of a more private nature.
Fastion's eyes twinkled despite himself. He wished he could've seen her, full of fire and restraint. That restraint was what made Karigan such a good swordsman. She had learned when to withhold a blow, and when to strike with her whole might. Fastion finally admitted to himself that - though he didn't know when it had happened - somewhere between messages and sword fights, he had fallen in love with the spirited Green Rider.
The how to pursue her was another question entirely, one that Fastion wasn't quite sure he had the answer to. He would have to convince her that his suit was genuine, because knowing Karigan like he did, she would immediately think he was either being cruel or insincere. Fastion's expression darkened for a moment. The other variable that he would rather not face still loomed in the back of his mind, a nagging hum of a insectual thought that he could not swat. The King. Would his liege lord deny him if he asked permission to court the woman he was so plainly in love with? The Weapon turned his attention back to the meeting as it began to commence.